HC Deb 27 July 1960 vol 627 cc1748-9

Lords Amendment: In page 15, line 1, at end insert: (aa) that not more than two gaming machines are made available for play in any one building or, where different parts of a building are occupied by two or more different persons, in the part or parts of the building occupied by any one of those persons; and

Mr. Vosper

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

This is a rather unusual Amendment in that it is an Amendment to a Clause that has never been discussed at any stage of the Bill. I think that it was the only Clause in that category, despite 25 meetings in Committee.

This Clause deals with gaming machines, more commonly known as fruit machines. The Royal Commission recommended that these machines should be prohibited completely, but the Government took the view that they should be legal in places where the public have no access. At no stage of the Bill in this House was that view challenged. There have been representations to my right hon. Friend and in another place that there was a danger that some form of racket might develop through the use of these machines. In the Bill there are already two safeguards in that the coin to be inserted in the machine is limited to 6d. and that the proceeds must not be devoted to private gain.

Nevertheless, there is reason to believe that certain promoters might wish to take advantage of the Clause to set up arcades, establishments or clubs devoted entirely to these machines. That was not the intention of the Government in inserting the Clause. Many clubs of all descriptions have illegally at the moment a fruit machine of this type. It was to meet their genuine need that the Clause, despite the Royal Commission's advice, was inserted in the Bill. It was not intended that clubs should be devoted wholly to this purpose.

The Amendment provides a further safeguard that only two machines shall be allowed in any one club. I think that is a reasonable safeguard. So far as I can discover, there are few, if any, clubs that have more than that number at the moment and I do not think that anyone in genuine need at the moment is being of set by this provision.

Mr. Wigg

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman a question? He said that or cannot have more than one machine in any one club. That is not what the Amendment says. It says, "in any one building". I should like to be clear about this. It might create great difficulties. For example, the Government might want to install a fruit machine in the Commons and at the same time their Lordships might want one installed. Would this Amendment prevent that?

Mr. Vosper

I think that the hon. Gentleman misunderstood what I said or that I did not make myself clear. I thank that the words on the Amendment Paper are sufficiently clear in themselves to answer the hon. Gentleman. They are …that not more than two gaming machines are made available for play in any one building… except, of course, where different parts of the building are occupied by two or more different persons, when there may be more than two machines.

The special case raised by the hon. Gentleman in respect of this building would, I think, be a matter for the courts to determine and not for me. I think that the words are reasonably explicit in their intention that not more than two machines should be available in any one building, except where that building is occupied by more than one club. Then each club could have not more than two machines.

Question put and agreed to.

Subsequent Lords Amendment agreed to.