HC Deb 02 May 1957 vol 569 cc343-4
9. Mr. Lipton

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how far street betting in London has increased recently; and how many people have been prosecuted for street betting in London this year compared with last year.

Mr. R. A. Butler

Arrests during the first four months of 1957 totalled 1,773 and exceeded those for the corresponding period of last year by 406. This increase is to some extent due to the larger number of Metropolitan Police now available as compared with last year. It would not be safe to assume that the rise in the number of arrests reflects an increase in the amount of street betting.

Mr. Lipton

Having told the House on 28th February that the law on off-course betting is unfair because it does not exist, how does the Home Secretary explain what looks like a renewed blitz on street bookies, especially in South London? Why not press on with new laws instead of trying to enforce either non-existent or obsolete laws which have not got the backing of public opinion behind them, and not make the police carry out duties which are not as important as other duties the public want carried out?

Mr. Butler

The hon. Member will be aware that the Royal Commission reported on this matter, and the question of legislation is under consideration by the Government.

Mr. Ede

When the hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes), was Joint Under-Secretary of State to the Home Department he announced to the House that legislation on this topic was to be brought forward. Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that if he wants some nice, non-controversial legislation to fill up the Parliamentary timetable, this would be his chance?

Mr. Butler

I have quite enough legislation—so has the House—for this Session, and the question of including this in next Session's legislative programme must be a matter for later announcement. I am aware of the Answer given by my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes), to which the right hon. Member has drawn attention.