HC Deb 24 April 1959 vol 604 cc858-9

Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [13th March], That the Bill be now read a Second time.

Question again proposed.

3.56 p.m.

Mr. Walter Edwards (Stepney)

When, on 13th March, as a result of the Closure of the debate, I had to resume my seat, I was saying that I considered the Bill to be a bad and unnecessary Bill. Two hon. Members who supported the Bill were rather rude because the Closure had been moved after they had spent a great deal of time speaking in the debate, but they were not aware that I was present in the House not for the purposes of the Second Reading debate on the Betting Reform Bill but to support my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, North (Mr. MacDermot) and his Protection of Tenants (Local Authorities) Bill. I thought that the House might like to know that those hon. Members who resented my intervention were wrong on that point.

When I spoke on that occasion, I said that the £6½ million spent on research and other purposes connected with racehorses had been thrown down the drain, because I considered that the racehorses of today were certainly no better than those of fourteen years ago and, in many cases, were much worse. I can see no reason, so far as racehorses or punters are concerned, why the additional powers proposed in the Bill should be given to the Racecourse Betting Control Board. The money obtained from tote investment and applied to research to make horses rather faster or better bred in future is. in my view, simply money wasted.

Even if the money were not wasted, is not the point that if a punter puts is. on the tote, out of which a percentage is taken, and money from that percentage is spent on improving the racehorses, it will not be the punter who will get value for that money? If a horse is specially bred and gains a reputation throughout the world, no doubt the breeder will get a great deal of money out of it, but the money never comes back to the punter. If the horse becomes a very good horse and wins the Derby, the owner sends it to stud and makes quite a fortune out of it.

I am not attacking the bookmakers, any more than I am attacking the Board of Control, but I say sincerely that I cannot see that the Board is doing a good job. Therefore, I strongly oppose giving the Bill a Second Reading. Nothing would make one more anxious to oppose the Bill than a study of the OFFICIAL REPORT of the previous debate. Quite a large number of hon. Members—

It being Four o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.

Debate to be resumed upon Friday next.