HC Deb 27 July 1960 vol 627 cc1739-41

Lords Amendment: In page 3, line 5, at end insert: (aa) he has attained the age of twenty-one years; and".

Mr. Vosper

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

The House will recall that, under the Bill, a principal bookmaker has to be aged 21 or over before he can receive a permit, that persons under the age of 18 may not be employed in betting transactions or in a licensed betting office, that it is illegal to effect betting transactions with a person under 18 and that a person under the age of 18 must not be employed as an agent.

This matter was debated in another place. It was suggested that, before a person could be employed as the registered agent of a bookmaker under Clause 7, he should be required to have attained the age of 21 rather than 18. It is my belief that, in practice, agents employed by principal bookmakers are almost invariably over this age, but it seems reasonable to the Government that what is a fairly responsible position should be held by someone of an age equivalent to that of the principal bookmaker. It gives an added protection in regard to a matter about which the House has shown concern on previous occasions, namely, the protection of young people. This provision requires that an agent employed by way of business by a principal bookmaker under the relevant Clause of the Bill must have attained the age of 21.

Miss Alice Bacon (Leeds, South-East)

In general, I am against restricting the activities of young people between the ages of 18 and 21 and, as I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will agree, it is sometimes rather difficult in practice to do it. Nevertheless, I regard this as a reasonable Amendment in that it means that young people between 18 and 21, while they might be employed in certain tasks inside a betting shop, will not be employed, I take it, as factory runners or agents in a factory or in other places.

I have one question. Is it the case now that it will be illegal for someone under 21 to take a bet outside the bookmaker's office, but that it will still be quite legal for anyone between the ages of 18 and 21 actually to take a bet inside the betting office? This seems to be an anomaly. In general, I think that we accept the Amendment, even though, as I said, it is sometimes difficult to restrict the activities of young people between the ages of 18 and 21.

Mr. Ede (South Shields)

I share the view expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon), but I welcome generally the Amendment because I think it will add to what I am sure we all hope to establish, namely, that these people shall be responsible persons. To keep the age lower than 21 might mean that those who deal with this Bill after it becomes an Act will think that these were not positions requiring persons of some responsibility.

Mr. Vosper

By leave of the House, in answer to the hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon), I can tell her that this provision applies only to those who are registered agents under Clause 7 of the Bill, factory runners as they were formerly described. The age of 18 will operate within the betting office itself. This might appear to be an anomaly, but, at an earlier stage of the Bill, we discussed raising the age generally to 21, but that did not find favour with the Committee as a whole.

I think there is a difference between a person doing a routine job behind a counter and a person moving around a factory and contacting individuals. It is, therefore, logical to accept the difference provided for in the Amendment, which, while it does not go all the way to meet the views of those who think that young people should be completely isolated from this activity, does add a reasonable further protection.

Question put and agreed to.