HC Deb 27 July 1960 vol 627 cc1741-5

Lords Amendment: In page 5, line 28, at end insert: '(5) If, save in a licensed betting office or in such manner as may be prescribed on premises giving access to such an office, any advertisement is published—

  1. (a) indicating that any particular premises ire a licensed betting office; or
  2. (b) indicating where any such office may le found; or
  3. (c) drawing attention to the availability of, or to the facilities afforded to persons resorting to, such offices
then, in the case of an advertisement in connection with the office or offices of a particular licensee, that licensee, and in every case any person who published the advertisement or caused or permitted it to be published, shall be guilty of an offence: Provided that it shall be a defence for any person charged with an offence under this subsection to prove—
  1. (i) that he did not know and had not reasonable cause to suspect that the advertisement was, and that he had taken all reasonable steps to ascertain that it was not, such an advertisement as aforesaid; or
  2. (ii) if he is charged by reason only of being a licensee that the advertisement was published without his consent or connivance and that he exercised all due diligence to prevent the publishing of any such advertisement in connection with his office or offices."

7. 45 p.m.

Mr. Vosper

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

The House will be familiar with the terms of this Amendment because it is identical with one which appeared on the Order Paper on Report earlier this year. Both on Report and in Committee, hon. Members expressed a variety of views, some taking the view that there should be no prohibition of advertising whatever, some taking the view that the new licensed betting offices should be allowed to advertise, others seeking a complete prohibition of all advertising extending to credit bookmakers who at present are permitted to advertise.

After the debate on Report, my right hon. Friend and I said that we would consider the matter further. It was discussed in another place. Both sides in another place supported the Amendment which had been moved on Report by my hon. Friend the Member for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan). Further, my right hon. Friend felt that there was merit in accepting what is admittedly a compromise Amendment in the sense that it will prohibit the advertising of a licensed betting office. In other words, those bookmakers operating on credit who have hitherto been allowed to advertise will be allowed to go on doing so, on the ground that a credit bookmaker cannot operate unless he is allowed to advertise.

The licensed betting office has not the same need to advertise. It is a place of business to which the clients will usually resort without the need for advertising. I think it is logical to differentiate between the two types of bookmaking in the sense that, if advertising for the licensed betting office is allowed, that would be liable to attract to the betting offices people who would not otherwise resort thereto. If advertising is prohibited in the way provided in this Amendment, those who habitually bet will be able to resort to the betting office without any difficulty, and those who might otherwise be induced to go there by a rather attractive advertisement may not be so attracted.

The argument is, I believe, somewhat similar to the argument which found favour in Committee regarding conditions in the betting office itself. I argued that the betting office was a place of business and must be sufficiently equipped to permit that business to be transacted but it must not be equipped with facilities for music, dancing or other attractions so as to attract people, particularly the young, who would not otherwise resort to it. There is a similarity in the arguments there.

I appreciate the argument against this particular provision, but it seems reasonable to restrict advertising which is not necessary and which might be abused and which, again, might be a cause of inducing young people to bet. As I say, this proposal found unanimous favour in another place, and, on balance, my right hon. Friend commends it to the House.

Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)

Speaking for myself, I am very glad that the Government have taken this course. A variety of views on the subject was expressed in Committee and there was a good deal of debate about it. In general, I think that we should all agree that there ought not to be any restriction on the advertising of legal facilities of any kind, but considerable feeling was expressed on the subject in various quarters.

As the right hon. Gentleman has said, it is quite clear that, once betting offices are established, with the nature of their business clearly indicated, those who wish to resort to them will have no difficulty in finding them. If, on the other hand, they were permitted to advertise freely without any restriction, that would inevitably lead to a considerable encouragement of betting which there would not otherwise be. In my view, therefore, this is a very sensible compromise and, speaking for myself, I am glad that the Government have accepted the view put forward in another place.

Sir James Duncan (South Angus)

I do not want to argue or re-argue the case I put on Report, when I moved this Amendment originally. I am grateful to their Lordships for their action. The proceedings in another place were noticeable for the complete absence of division and unanimous support for this Amendment. I am very glad that the Government and the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. Fletcher) have supported it here.

Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)

I congratulate the hon. Member for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan) on the support that he has had from another place. I had not intended to speak on this stage of the Bill, but this is a perfect example of our national feeling. This is complete bunkum and hypocrisy. The Government reform the law by having betting offices, but we must not tell anyone where they are. My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Fletcher), with a masterpiece of logic which makes it clear where he derived it from, said that everyone knows where the betting office is and, therefore, we must not advertise it.

If the House is satisfied, I do not want to hold up the Bill. Every time I look at the Clause a blush of shame will spread over my face when I think that, once again, England, once the master of the free, has been subjected to another piece of Scottish hypocrisy.

Mr. James H. Hoy (Edinburgh, Leith)

I did not intend to take part in the debate, but something has just occurred which necessitates my intervention. I thought, like my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg)—I even mentioned it to him—that there was a little humbug about the Amendment. If people want to go to betting shops, they will soon find a way, without them being advertised. Merely to provide that they should not be advertised will not prevent people from getting to know about them.

But for my hon. Friend, having said that it is a typical piece of English humbug, then to put the blame on the Scots is a little more than I can understand or bear. Such an argument is so distorted that it is about as logical as the Amendment. While I agree with my hon. Friend that it may be a piece of humbug, his reasons for thinking that it is humbug are far from the truth.

Mr. John M. Temple (City of Chester)

I think that the voice of England should be heard in support of the Amendment. I played a considerable part in Committee and on Report.

I want to answer the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg), who seems to be a professor of logic and a master of hypocrisy at one and the same time. I associate myself with my hon. Friend the Member for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan) and claim that England has had a full share in the Amendment, which will be for the benefit of the public. It will have the advantage of not encouraging betting. When we set out on this Measure, we started with the object of making cash betting legal, but not with the object of encouraging cash betting in England.

Question put and agreed to.