HC Deb 10 May 1960 vol 623 cc221-54
Mr. W. R. Rees-Davies (Isle of Thanet)

I beg to move, in page 12, line 10, to leave out subsection (3).

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I understand that it would be convenient for the House to discuss with this Amendment the Government Amendment, in page 12, line 12, at end to insert: except where both the following conditions are satisfied, that is to say—

  1. (a) that the gaming takes place in a private dwelling-house; and
  2. (b) that any such person taking part in the gaming does so with the permission, whether general or special, of a parent or guardian of that person".
and also the Government Amendment in page 13, to leave out lines 19 to 29 and to insert and (c) that no person took part in the gaming who was not either—
  1. (i) a member of the club in pursuance of an application or nomination for membership made more than twenty-four hours before the gaming began; or
  2. (ii) a bona fide guest of such a member; and
(d) that the club is so constituted and conducted, both as regards membership and otherwise, as not to be of a merely temporary character".

Mr. Rees-Davies

That would be convenient, Mr. Deputy-Speaker.

This matter raises one of the remaining most important matters in the Bill. For those hon. Members who were not on the Standing Committee, I might start by saying that this whole question of the young engaging in gaming was not originally within the Bill and came in by way of an Amendment in Committee. It is one of very great importance. I regret, although I understand, that the House is not full and that many of our colleagues who have hitherto been concerned with the Bill have probably lost interest as a result of the long Committee stage and have not, therefore, taken an active part in what will affect the livelihood of every citizen and the youth of the country.

This Amendment, and the Government Amendments—which amend the Government Amendment put forward in Standing Committee—go to the root of this subject. I say that this will affect the lives of the people in the long run much more closely than all the issues of street or office betting or any other issue in connection with this Bill. The question we have to discuss now is in Clause 16, and I am moving to omit the following words: … no gaming shall take place at which any person under the age of eighteen years is included among the players. As that stands, the Clause is preposterous. I started myself and graduated from snap at the age of four, to bridge at the age of seven. Having got there at the age of seven, by the age of 10 I went to my first Conservative fete as a Young Briton, where I engaged in housey-housey. Every child is brought up to engage to a certain extent in gaming. If one is ever to be any good as a player of card games later on, it is essential that one should begin early in life.

I began cricket at eight years of age. I began bridge at the same age, and I hope that if I have children they will engage in gaming at an early age. When the word is used today it tends to be used in the connotation which is sometimes found in the newspapers, as meaning gaming of the casino type, such as baccarat, or chemin-de-fer, with rich people playing for high stakes. While I am, as much as anybody, against people engaging in high stakes under the age of 18, I wish to say a few words about this.

This Clause must either be totally omitted or drastically amended. My right hon. Friends the Home Secretary and the Joint Under-Secretary of State —who has assisted the Home Secretary throughout the Bill—have chosen the latter alternative and have put down an Amendment. They have said that gaming shall be permitted to take place where youth is under the age of 18 provided the following two conditions apply: first, that the gaming takes place in a private dwelling house—that is a very important point—and, secondly, that any such person taking part in the gaming does so with the permission, general or special, of the parent or guardian there present.

My first point is that a very large amount of small gaming goes on in this country in tourist and seaside resorts throughout the summer months. Among those who have consulted me on these matters are Butlin's and Warner's, and also the federation of these holiday camps. They have discussed not these precise Amendments—because time was short—but the general tenor of this very important subject. A visitor to any camp—be it Butlin's or anyone else's— to an ordinary boarding house or to "Dreamland", or to "Merrie England", will find that the children engage in at one time or another, or are present at, gaming which is of a harmless nature.

Neither of the Government Amendments takes account of this very important matter. Camps engage in housey-housey and children are present. Under the Bill, unless this particular provision is omitted entirely, that will still remain wholly illegal and I venture to say that next year Bedlam will be let loose unless we grapple with this subject.

The House may think that the Bill will cause no trouble. One of the difficulties about all social legislation, as opposed to the Treasury, is that the public knows all about it but knows nothing about the Treasury. If we hurt the public in domestic pleasures we shall be blamed—and I shall blame Members opposite as much as my own side if anything goes wrong, because this has been an all-party Measure. For that reason, let us get this right.

We must be very careful not to introduce too penal a legislation which would stop a particular danger, but, at the same time, would exclude everything. None of us wants young people to engage in gaming for high stakes at a young age. But I have given very deep thought to this matter—more so than to almost any other part of the Bill—and I honestly believe that it is far better to leave it to the care of fathers, mothers and guardians, without having any guidance in the Bill. I would infinitely rather see the exclusion of subsection (3), and I hope that my right hon. Friend will consider the matter very carefully.

Let us consider the attitude of the Church, which is very important. Not only the Baptist community, but the Church of England, and even the Roman Catholic community, take the view that on this question of gaming, although it is right to say that no person under the age of 18 shall be permitted to become a member of a club at which gaming takes place, it is much better to leave the matter to parents or guardians in other respects. It would be easy to introduce an Amendment providing that no youth under the age of 18 shall be permitted to engage in gaming in a club, but that is quite different from the present proposal.

As the Bill stands, no gaming will be allowed at which anybody under the age of 18 is present. Gaming falls into three categories: first, there is the substantially skilful game of cards—the game of bridge, whist or poker; secondly, the small games played at the seaside, such as housey-housey and bingo; and, thirdly, the gaming by machines, in which money is inserted, and which may or may not involve a degree of skill. We are to provide legislation allowing these machines to be operated not only in fun fairs, as at present, but also in milk bars and other places. It seems quite impossible to legislate in a practical way to prevent people from engaging in gaming of that harmless kind.

If the House is against me in this, and takes the view that a limitation on gaming by youths under the age of 18 should be applied, I would draw its attention to my right hon. Friend's Amendment. In this, he seeks to lay down two conditions. The first is quite all right, but it must be alternative. It is that the gaming takes place in a private dwelling-house. Under the Bill at present, a person can be convicted if he is having a quiet game with his own children in his own home. Even under the terms of my right hon. Friend's Amendment, it will still apparently be necessary to establish two conditions.

The provisions of this Clause are more penal than those of any other Clause, and even under the Government Amendment persons involved must be able to show that the gaming is taking place in a private dwelling-house and that all the youths taking part in the gaming are doing so with the permission, general or special, of their parents or guardians. That is going much too far. It is not necessary to introduce this proposal. This is a liberalising Measure. We are saying that the only gaming which shall be unlawful, whether it involves skill or only chance, or a combination of both, is that which allows a person to make a profit. The purpose of the Bill is to prevent a promoter from making a gain. In other respects, the Bill is completely liberalising.

4.45 p.m.

Further, it is not right to prevent young people from gaming. Let us consider the ordinary traditions of Britain and go back through the centuries. Let us remember the point-to-points, held day after day at the right time of the year. Many of those who go to these meetings go with their children, and how upset the children would be if they did not receive 6d. with which to bet on a horse. I know that I should have been very upset in my young days if I had not been given 6d. to have a bet Children are at home when their parents make out their football coupons; indeed, the children often help in the work. This is part of the life of the country. We cannot put the clock back. If mother and father go to play cards at whist drives, or go to the local fete, the children collect and keep the lottery tickets. Are we to try to draw a distinction between the act of playing cards by youth and the act of engaging in football pools or betting on horses?

Many children are taken to the dog races in the evenings. I do not say that that is a very good thing; it probably is not. But the parents are responsible; they have to decide. I have no doubt that many hon. Members would say, "I would not take my child dog racing at the age of 12 or 13", or "I would not allow my son to go dog racing when he was under 18 years of age." I know that that view may be held, but that view is held by one speaking as a parent or guardian. If we try to impose duties relating to the limitation of gaming at cards we shall be imposing a much more onerous duty than exists in respect of other matters and, far from engaging in a certain amount of liberalisation, in an attempt to deal with facts as they are today, we shall be going back to the past.

One of the great purposes of the Bill is to try to create or reinforce respect for the police and the enforcement of the law. I was solidly behind the Government in regard to street betting because I thought that it was quite impossible to enforce the law, and in regard to this matter I would ask whether warrants will be issued to enable the police to enter premises because children under the age of 18 are there engaged in playing bridge. If such a practice is adopted all the cases brought by the police will be lost, because the juries will throw them out. People are not prepared to prevent children of 16 or 17 years of age, at public or other schools, from meeting together to play cards. We must remember that boys' clubs exist. I know that in the House of Commons we are allowed to play only chess, but I have always regarded that rule as rather reactionary, especially on some evenings when we have been debating the Finance Bill.

Is it to be said that if a number of boys of 16 years of age sit down in a boys' club to play whist or a similar game they should be prosecuted because they have not obtained the special or general consent of their parents or guardians? I sympathise with the feelings which I know my right hon. Friend has in this matter, and with his desire to protect youth. I know that he is playing an immense part in the provision of detention centres and youth clubs, and in the promotion of the idea of using leisure properly, but I do not think that I am being an old and outmoded Tory when I say that in the matter of gaming we must rely largely upon the good sense of parents and guardians.

I do not wish to speak for too long, although I do not apologise for having taken up some time. This is one of the most important provisions that we have to discuss. I hope that the House will feel that the proper thing to do. at any rate at this stage, is to delete subsection (3). The Members of another place may wish to discuss this question in very great detail and from a great diversity of viewpoints. I invite my right hon. Friend to say that the whole matter will receive a complete reconsideration, so that if further Amendments are required to be made in another place we will have an opportunity of discussing it again when we debate the Lords' Amendments.

If my right hon. Friend and the House are against me on that view for omitting that altogether, and think that we should insert the words on the Notice Paper in the name of the Home Secretary, then I would certainly hope that my small Amendment to the Home Secretary's Amendment, which is also being discussed with this one, would be acceptable, and that, therefore, gaming which takes place in a private dwelling-house would, by itself, as a condition, certainly prevent the police from having right of access to gaming in private dwelling-houses. Furthermore, if any person under the age of 18 were engaged in gaming with the permission, general or special, of the parents, that would in itself be a sufficient condition, but I must say in all fairness that I know why my right hon. Friend must have put it in.

The only type of gaming which, as I understand it, my right hon. Friend has in mind to stop is of two kinds. First, there is the child going to clubs and places of that kind set up for the purpose of inducing youth to indulge in gaming. I do not believe that, in the main, they do so, because they have not got the money, and the profit element excludes the desire of the promoter to bring in youths under the age of 18, except in the case of machines which are quite separately illegal. In the case of machines which are separately illegal, a prosecution can take effect anyway.

With regard to the others, I am sure that he wishes to prevent the cases of organised gaming, the "fly-by-night" parties, as they are generally known, which youth may attend, but, again, so far as the attendance of youth is concerned, it is mainly in clubs. If they are private parties and are being conducted for profit, they are illegal anyway. If they are illegal anyway, the people can be convicted just the same, whether youth are present or not.

Therefore, it seems to me—and I hope that I have covered the ground fairly fully—that, in the main, there is no separate protection required in the Bill with regard to youth. In these circumstances, I hope that the House would agree that it is best that this should come out altogether, and that, otherwise, and in any event, the Amendment to be moved by my right hon. Friend should be amended. I hope that both here and in another place the greatest care will be given by the whole House to this question of youth, because every Member of the House should realise that if we go wrong one way or the other, and we find that people have to turn up in court to give evidence for their children, or that the children have to turn up to give evidence with regard to engaging in gaming or otherwise, it will boomerang back on us.

Mr. Paget

Certainly, when I was at school I regularly played cards, both bridge and poker, in my room, and as I look at the benches opposite I realise that I am looking at a number of Members who did exactly the same.

Mr. Wigg

What school?

Mr. Paget

There are a large number of hon. Members opposite who did exactly the same. I know that, because many of them went to the school to which I went. I may further add that at that school I learnt quite a lot of things, few of which have proved more valuable to me in later life than the knowledge how to play cards with a certain skill.

If we are to make that sort of thing a criminal offence and make it a duty of the police to spy on the rooms of houses at public schools, or indeed other schools, to see if children are having games of cards, what are we coming to? It is time that the Front Bench opposite woke up and stopped being old women.

Mr. H. P. G. Channon (Southend West)

I agree with a large measure of what the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) has said. My right hon. Friend will remember that I moved the identical Amendment to this one in the Standing Committee. I am grateful to my right hon. Friend because on that occasion, when I moved to delete subsection (3), he said that he would reconsider the matter. That is the reason why we have the new Government Amendment put down today. I am most grateful for that reconsideration and for this Amendment, but although I am grateful to my right hon. Friend, I still say, with respect, that it does not go far enough. I cannot imagine why gaming for young people would have to take place in a private dwelling house amongst other things.

During the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies), I was wondering what would happen if on the way to the seaside on holiday one played bridge or whist with one's parents for pennies or sixpences while in the railway carriage. My right hon. Friend will probably say that the police would not prosecute in circumstances like that, but surely when we are having a new Bill to liberalise and bring up-to-date the whole law on betting and gaming, it is fantastic deliberately to lay down a provision which automatically catches people in those circumstances.

If I can take it one stage further, one of the things which my right hon. Friend has not actually seen fit to amend is the rule in subsection (6) by which any persons present at any game shall be deemed to be present for the purpose of taking part in gaming. If we read subsections (3), (4), (5) and (6), that means that if any child is actually in a railway carriage or a hotel room when four adults are playing bridge or whist, or anywhere else, not only those four adults playing bridge, but also any passers-by, anyone in the lounge of the hotel, is also committing an offence, because, since he was present he would have to prove that he was not present for unlawful gaming, rather than the onus being on the prosecution to prove that he was.

Although I admit that this new Amendment is certainly an improvement on what was originally proposed, I still respectfully say that I do not think it goes far enough. I do not know whether it is in order to discuss the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. Fletcher), but I believe that we are taking all these Amendments together.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

That will be quite in order.

Mr. Channon

I am most grateful, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. In that case, I think that if the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Islington, East were carried, the whole position would be totally unenforceable. I cannot believe it is seriously suggested in 1960 that boys of 17 cannot play bridge without the presence of the parent or guardian, and I would imagine that if we have four boys playing bridge we should have to have the four guardians present, according to the Amendment of the hon. Members for Islington, East.

Mr. William Yates (The Wrekin)

If four people are playing a game of cards in a hospital, are the matron, the sisters and the nurses also guilty?

Mr. Channon

Under the terms of the Bill as it stands at present, unless a hospital is construed as a private dwelling house, and if children of 17 were playing bridge in a large public ward, not only would they be guilty of an offence, but the matron and the nurses would also be guilty of an offence, as well as everyone else who was sitting in the room. I quite agree with my hon. Friend that it would be extremely difficult for those not wishing to commit an offence to withdraw themselves if they were ill in bed and unable to leave. Nevertheless, the onus of proof would be on them to prove that they were not taking part in gaming rather than on the prosecution to prove that they were. What is worse, as my hon. Friend will also appreciate, is the fact that anyone responsible for procuring the players in that game is also guilty of an offence, and indeed any doctor who sent the patient to hospital, under the terms of the Bill as it now stands, would be procuring the group of players for the purpose of gaming and would be guilty of an offence. Obviously, one could go on multiplying cases like this almost ad infinitum.

Although I agree with my right hon. Friend that he has taken a great step forward at least in some instances to improve the law of gaming in regard to people under 18, I hope he will see fit to accept the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet and, in a Bill in which we are trying to liberalise and bring up to date the law of gaming, will not instead do something ridiculously out-of-date.

5.0 p.m.

Mr. Wigg

I am in considerable agreement with what has been said by the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies) on the general issue, but I found myself in some disagreeable disagreement about his reasons for putting forward this Amendment. By some process of logic which I cannot follow, he said that he objected to street betting because provisions about it could not be enforced. But the doubts about the enforcement of these provisions are as great. Perhaps on that issue he will allow me to call it a draw.

When my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) spoke, I thought that had my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) been here he would have been on his feet pointing out, as it must be pointed out, that the background of our legislation on gaming contains the most ridiculous class distinctions.

The first military offence which I ever committed—at least, the first for which I was ever caught—was the offence of gaming. We were under canvas and it was the practice of the provost sergeant, who had to get some people on fatigues every weekend, to walk around between the lines knowing that Friday was payday, and when he heard the chink of money he would shout, "Leave it down, company orders in the morning".

In due course, my turn came. I shall never forget and still suffer from the sense of injustice which I felt that day when, waiting my turn with fifteen other victims, I heard four characters, who were much older than I, all plead that they were only playing bridge. They had their case dismissed. I was very young and inexperienced and had no chance of saying anything, so I got four days' C.B. because I was playing pontoon.

The thought has always rankled in my mind, and it did when we were discussing the Bill in Committee, that the officer who awarded me four days' C.B. was certainly an Etonian and so at school with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton. Whereas he thought that bridge was quite respectable, he thought that pontoon was out. That is the background of all our discussion, and it leads me to accept without question the very serious point which was made by the hon. and learned Member for Thanet, that the test of this legislation and the possibility of its success will depend not on what we say or do, but upon whether the general public will give its sanction to it, because whether the general public thinks that it is reasonable and should therefore be supported will largely depend on the extent to which it takes account of the social behaviour of the people.

My hon. and learned Friend said that at Eton it was the general practice to play cards—and, presumably, on some occasions to play poker with the headmaster. I hope that the boys put it across the headmaster, because that would probably have been good for him. It is quite clear that things go on at Eton which would never be permitted at other schools in the community. Nevertheless, whether people have the misfortune to go to Eton—and I regard it as a misfortune when I look at hon. Members who went to Eton— or have the good fortune, as I had, to be educated with a dry scrubber in a barrack room, we learn our habits at an age earlier than 18. It is a piece of grandmotherly nonsense to have the views which it has not been surprising to hear from the Front Bench opposite but which it is astonishing, after all our efforts, to find expressed in the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East (Mr. Fletcher).

Mr. Fletcher

I tried to improve the Bill.

Mr. Wigg

If he tried to improve the Bill, I suggest that he gives up the practice, because his Amendment is far worse even than that of the Government, who are under considerable social pressure.

Those of us who have children and grandchildren know perfectly well that the business of having a little bet is not regarded as terribly evil and starts long before the age of 18. I agree with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton that the sooner one starts, the sooner one grows out of it. It is the late-comer to the practice of gambling who gets caught. That is the truth. It is the man who suddenly reads the paper and thinks that he can get rich quickly and who starts gambling, first with his own spare cash and then with his employer's spare cash, who gets involved. One invariably finds that secret gambling, like secret drinking, comes later in life, so that my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East should be careful, because he might get bitten and, with his peculiar lack of knowledge, heaven knows what will happen! I think that it would be as well if he withdrew his Amendment and if the Government accepted the very reasonable request of their own supporters and reconsidered this Clause.

Perhaps next time they will not consult the chief constables, who are notoriously bad guides. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary will go to a whist drive or two and talk to ordinary people, not vicious, but kindly people, who have not been to public schools and so on, about gambling. He will find that boys and girls who are under 18 do not regard playing a game of pontoon with friends or neighbours as a terrible crime. If they do not regard it as a terrible crime, the Bill will not persuade them that it is, and unless they are persuaded that it is, the Bill will not work, and that would be a social calamity which we would all regret.

Mr. Charles Curran (Uxbridge)

I rise with some trepidation as I was not a member of the Committee which discussed the Bill and I have never had a bet in my life and have never played cards. I have listened with great curiosity to the comments which have been made, and I have to tell hon. Members making them that they have no right to believe that they speak for everybody in this country.

I do not regard gambling as a joke. I do not regard betting as a joke. I do not regard the proposal to make it easy for young people to bet as funny. Hon. Members are not taking the matter seriously. I do not in the least mind being described as a reactionary about this matter, nor do I mind being described as a Puritan.

It is utterly deplorable that any hon. Member should give any encouragement to young people to gamble, and it is utterly deplorable that we should have this frivolity and that this matter should be regarded as funny and humorous and something which we should encourage. I am not prepared to regard the Bill as a joke.

I have read the words which we are discussing and listened to my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, West (Mr. Channon) attempting to exploit these words to be funny. The Government Amendment says: … with the permission, whether general or special, of a parent or guardian … It is not necessary that there shall be a specific permission. All that is necessary is that there shall be a general permission.

Mr. Channon

My hon. Friend seems to be attacking me personally. He is attacking me on the point of "special" and "generail". The purpose of the Amendment, to which, I am sure, my hon. Friend has paid close attention, is to leave out subsection (3), and I was devoting myself to that argument. I am sure that my hon. Friend has read the Bill very carefully and will appreciate that I was arguing that if one was in a room when gaming was going on among four people who were aged 17, as in a hospital ward, say, as my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mr. W. Yates) reminded me, an offence is committed by all the people in the room. I respect my hon. Friend's views, but I was not making this a laughing stock but was drawn into this argument by the example of others.

The issue we are discussing goes far wider than the use of "special" or general", because other people can be brought in. If there has been humour and laughing about this matter, that is because—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Gordon Touche)

I remind the hon. Member for Southend, West (Mr. Channon) that on Report he can speak only once on Amendment. I thought that he had risen to deal with a personal point.

Mr. Curran

There is no reason why my hon. Friend should raise the temperature of the discussion. I am saying that if parents give a general permission to children to bet, that is something which is perfectly intelligible, but it does not justify my hon. Friend in reducing the argument, reductio ad absurdum.

I rise, not to make debating points about this, but to emphasise what I think is the reality of the matter. Any attempt to limit gambling and betting by people under 18 is socially desirable. The fact that it cannot be done completely is no reason for not trying to do it.

Mr. Rees-Davies

Is my hon. Friend suggesting that by legislation we should stop people from taking their children to point-to-point races? Would he introduce legislation to stop people from engaging with their children in the promotion of any form of pools betting? Would he also stop them from going to the greyhound races, or indeed taking part in any other betting activity? My argument was addressed to the question, why should we pick out cards when every other aspect is open to the same argument?

Mr. Curran

It is true that there is no method of constructing a logical law about betting. No matter how the law is constructed, there will be holes in it, and it will always be possible to criticise it. I agree that it is not possible in fact, and in practice, to lay down a universal rule about betting to which there will not be many exceptions. I am saying only that it is socially desirable to seek, within the limits of the practicable, to restrict rather than to encourage betting by young people.

Mr. A. V. Hilton (Norfolk, South-West)

Like the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Curran), I did not take part in the discussions in Committee. I agree with much of what the hon. Gentleman said. I have listened to him many times and watched him many times on television.

Mr. David Griffiths (Rother Valley)

And disagreed with him.

Mr. Hilton

On those occasions I wondered if there was anything about which I could agree with him, but I am glad now to follow him on some of the lines that he has taken. I thank him for the stand he has taken, and especially for castigating, if that is the right word, some of the hon. Members on both sides of the House for the fun that they seemed to be getting out of this important subject.

Four or five hon. Members have told us of their experience at school. They all went to different schools from the one that I attended, and apparently at a different time, because I went to one of these schools that we were discussing yesterday and about which I had hoped to speak. I was unlucky. No youngsters attending the school to which I went were able to engage in gambling of any sort, because at that time, in the early 'twenties, unemployment was rife. I came from a home which was hit during that period, and there was no question of youngsters of my age indulging in gambling at school.

I am glad about that, because I should have hated to have attended some of these schools which have been referred to this afternoon if practices of the sort that have been described were indulged in. I am proud that I was brought up in a different atmosphere to that referred to by some hon. Members this afternoon. I was brought up in a very poor Methodist home, and we believe that gambling is wrong. I agree with the hon. Member for Uxbridge that anything which makes gambling easier for young people is harmful.

One hon. Gentleman said that when he was about four years old he used to go to the point-to-point races and put 6d. on a horse.

Mr. Rees-Davies

I do now.

Mr. Hilton

It may be that children from certain homes do that. I live in an area where point-to-point races are held about three miles away from my home. The majority of youngsters who attend the races do not come from working-class homes, but from homes—

5.15 p.m.

Mr. Rees-Davies

The Norfolk point-to-point races are among the finest in the country. I have been there, and I have seen scores of children, four, five and six years old, at the races. I am sure that any hon. Member who has any knowledge of racing in Norfolk and Suffolk will confirm that often children in arms go to point-to-point races, and that many young children go to the Tote and put on a few shillings.

Mr. Hilton

The hon. Gentleman has more experience of this than I have. I confess that I do not attend point-to-point races, but it is my impression that ordinary youngsters do not attend these meetings.

Mr. Rees-Davies

Children of all classes attend them.

Mr. Hilton

I am, of course, open to correction.

I am opposed to gambling. I have attended a racecourse only once. I did not have a bet; I went to see what went on. I also went to a dog track without having a bet, and I confess that there were youngsters present, but after seeing them I was more convinced than ever that there were far better things to do than to indulge in gambling.

We used to play cards at home. We were a poor family. My parents played cards with us youngsters, but we did not gamble, and I am sure that we had as much fun from our games for love as any gambler.

Youngsters will learn this gambling business, but let us not make it easier for them to do so. I appreciate that we will not stamp out gambling, but for goodness' sake let us not do anything which will bring temptation near to our youngsters.

Mr. Paget

I respect my hon. Friend's point of view. He thinks it is wrong for children to play cards, even for pennies. I do not. Does my hon. Friend think that children playing cards for pennies, or whatever it may be, should be a matter for the police? Is it not a matter for the parents?

Mr. Hilton

Yes, but I am talking about the adverse effect that gambling has on children. I will leave it to my hon. and learned Friend to decide whether it is a question for the police or for the parents.

Mr. Ray Mawby (Totnes)

We are in danger of falling out with one another on things about which there is a great deal of agreement. As the hon. Member for Norfolk, South-West (Mr. Hilton) said, each of us has different views about gaming. We also have different views about what gaming means. If we consider the strict letter of the law, gaming covers a wide variety of activities which are indulged in by many people without them knowing that they are gaming.

Some of my constituents in the working men's club in my constituency were concerned when they read what my right hon. Friend said in Committee, that dominoes was not a game of skill but was a game of chance. Until then they were convinced—and in fact, they still are—that dominoes was a game of skill. We are, therefore, in the position that we are dealing with what the law means by gaming. If four people decide to have a game of bridge, and decide that they will have a small stake on the side, they are indulging in gaming just as much as the person who goes into a casino and has a go at roulette.

It is important that the Amendment in the name of my right hon. Friend should be amended at least to the extent suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies) so that it could cover this point and gambling could take place in a private dwelling-house and other similar places and that young persons could take part with the permission of their parents or guardian.

I should be the last to suggest that we should not allow the parent or guardian to have the final say about the activities of their children. There are many parents who make certain that their children are kept away from gambling activities because they consider it would encourage the children to think that they can get "summat for nowt". I think it right that parents should take that view.

We should aim at moderation in these things. In themselves, drinking, betting and gambling are not wrong, provided that they are indulged in in moderation. Otherwise they can impose a great burden and in some cases they may become a great sin. By accepting the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet we should be meeting the views of many parents.

Miss Alice Bacon (Leeds, South-East)

The Committee stage of this Bill was marked by a number of reminiscences from hon. Members about how they spent or misspent their youth, and we seem to be continuing those reminiscences this afternoon.

As drafted, subsection (3) would prohibit gaming by anyone under the age of 18, which we consider is going too far. We also consider that the Government Amendment is too restricted, and so we have put down an Amendment to it. I think our Amendment must have been read wrongly by the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies), the hon. Member for Southend, West (Mr. Channon) and by my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg). The Amendment goes some way to meet the points raised by the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet, because its acceptance would make it possible for gaming in moderation to take place in holiday camps, and so on, when parents were present. It would enable gaming to take place in railway carriages, as was mentioned by the hon. Member for Southend, West.

Mr. Rees-Davies

I did not refer to the hon. Lady's Amendment, it was referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, West (Mr. Channon). I appreciate what is the intention of the hon. Lady, but I do not think it is achieved by the Amendment.

Miss Bacon

We have to strike a balance between a situation in which it would be possible for young persons under 18 to go into a gaming house—I do not think anyone would wish that to happen—and the prohibition of gaming altogether.

The hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet said that it is no use thinking one can be any good at games if one does not start early. But my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, South-West (Mr. Hilton) indicated that one may become proficient at cards or any other game merely by playing them and there is no need to play for stakes. It is only when a game is played for stakes that it becomes gaming. I consider that the Government Amendment improves the present wording of subsection (3), but it would be made much better were our Amendment accepted. In effect, that would make it legal for gaming by persons under 18 to take place not only in a dwelling house but in any other place—a boarding house or hotel for example—provided a parent or guardian was present and that the consent of the parent or guardian had been obtained.

We all wish to prevent people congregating at gaming parties, but on the other hand we do not want to say that in a dwelling house, or anywhere where parents were present, girls and boys under 18 should be prohibited from taking part in a game of cards. We believe our Amendment to the Government Amendment would meet that point of view.

Mr. Roderic Bowen (Cardigan)

Would not the hon. Lady agree that the Amendment would permit persons under 18 to play any form of game provided that the parent or guardian was present?

Miss Bacon

I appreciate that. I think that the acceptance of the Amendment would meet many of the views which have been expressed. If parents like to take their children with them to a boarding house, or a hotel or some other place, we believe that the responsibility for doing so should rest upon them. We do not want to prohibit all gaming by people under 18 for a modest stake of 3d. or 6d. in dwelling houses or in the presence of their parents. I hope that the Minister will indicate his willingness to accept our Amendment to the Government Amendment.

Mr. Vosper

We have had a wide expression of views on this Amendment. I understood my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies) to suggest that the provisions of subsection (3) were introduced at a late stage during the Committee proceedings. If I understood him correctly, he was completely wrong in that assumption. This was part of the Bill as published last year and was in no way introduced during the Committee stage deliberations.

Mr. Rees-Davies

I apologise.

Mr. Vosper

I do not know of any issue, with the possible exception of gaming in public houses, upon which my right hon. Friend and I have received more representations than this question of the protection of young people. That concern was voiced by my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Curran) and by the hon. Member for Norfolk, South-West (Mr. Hilton). Although many hon. Member have suggested that this prohibition in the Bill is unnecessary, I do not believe that represents the general view. Throughout the betting and gaming parts of the Bill one must have some safeguard for the protection of young people. During the Committee stage it was decided to insert a Clause regarding betting and young people, and I understood that my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet supported that. I therefore find it difficult to reconcile that with what he has said this afternoon.

Any gaming law is bound to have imperfections and be difficult to enforce. The hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) talked about playing cards for pennies and whist or bridge being played in the top forms at Eton, or something like that.

5.30 p.m.

If we are considering only those sort of practices there would be something to be said for deleting subsection (3), but the choice before the House is whether we are to allow unlimited gaming for young people or to have a more or less complete prohibition. There is no middle way except the compromise suggested on the Notice Paper today. There are, of course, dangers whatever we do. If we had the prohibition intended in the Bill it will be possible for some of the more modest practices which have been suggested in the debate to take place, but, if we deleted subsection (3) it would be possible for young people to take part in any form of gaming for unlimited stakes, sometimes to be at the mercy of unscrupulous people.

My hon. Friend suggested that young people of this age group have not the surplus spending power to take part in these activities, but, as one concerned with the youth service, I find that rather hard to accapt. I believe there is a real risk here. Although I accept his view that this is a general liberalising Measure, the Royal Commission and the Government have throughout made it clear that there must be adequate safeguards from time to time and this is one of the Clauses giving such a safeguard.

When the Committee considered this provision, the only point raised was that by my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, West (Mr. Channon), who was particularly concerned about the young person taking part in bridge or whist with his parents or in his own home. In general, I understood that the Committee was very sympathetic to that, but equally I understood that the Committee was not desirous of going further and removing the prohibition; nor did I understand my hon. Friend at that point. If he had to make a choice between leaving the subsection as it was or removing it, he would leave it. The Amendment we have put on the Notice Paper meets the point and would enable a young person to take part in gaming subject to conditions.

My hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet has urged me to do two things. The first is to delete subsection (3). I am not prepared to do that. That would be going too far and would be acting against the principle of having safeguards in this Bill. He has urged me as an alternative to have only one condition, to leave out "and" and to insert "or". He put that Amendment on the Notice Paper at a late stage— only this morning. I think that even to accept that would be making a gap in the Bill which would be too large to meet the general wishes of the community.

Mr. Rees-Davies

Will my right hon. Friend deal with the desperately difficult question, if he does not accept that, of what is to happen to any of these camps where children take part in gaming with their parents?

Mr. Vosper

I am sympathetic towards the point about the camps, but, if I had to choose between meeting the wishes of the camp promoters and those who take part and retaining the general safeguard against gaming by young people, I should choose the latter. I believe there is a partial compromise suggested by the Amendment to the Amendment which is in the name of the hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon). I think her Amendment goes some way to help my hon. Friend in respect of those under 18 who take part in gaming in the presence of their parents. That would be additional to the conditions introduced in the Government Amendment and I think would help my hon. Friend. I do not suggest that it meets the point he raised completely, but it would be a reasonable alternative. Therefore, I suggest that subsection (3) should stand in the Bill and that the House, in order to meet the point raised in Committee by my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, West, should go a little further and accept the Amendment proposed by the hon. Lady, but not go further on this occasion.

Amendment negatived.

Amendment proposed: In page 12, line 12, at end insert: except where both the following conditions are satisfied, that is to say—

  1. (a) that the gaming takes place in a private dwelling-house; and
  2. (b) that any such person taking part in the gaming does so with the permission, whether general or special, of a parent or guardian of that person".—[Mr. Vosper.]

Question proposed, That those words be there inserted in the Bill.

Amendment to the proposed words made: In line 3, after "dwelling-house", insert: or in the presence of a parent or guardian of that person".—[Miss Bacon.]

Proposed words, as amended, there inserted in the Bill.

Mr. Vosper

I beg to move, in page 13, to leave out lines 19 to 29 and to insert: and (c) that no person took part in the gaining who was not either—

  1. (i) a member of the club in pursuance of an application or nomination for membership made more than twenty-four hours before the gaming began; or
  2. (ii) a bona fide guest of such a member; and
(d) that the club is so constituted and conducted, both as regards membership and otherwise, as not to be of a merely temporary character".

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I suggest that it would be convenient to discuss with this Amendment the following two Amendments: In page 13, line 20 after "in", insert "regular"; and in page 13, line 28 after "club", insert: or a member of an institution affiliated to the club".

Mr. Vosper

During our deliberations in Committee hon. Members on both sides felt that the provisions for gaming in clubs were, if anything, too liberal and that a real danger existed in subsection (7) of what then was Clause 10 and is now a later Clause in that the formation of a bogus club specifically for the purpose of gaming would be too easy. Therefore, among other things during the Committee stage, the Government introduced for discussion a definition of a club simply for the purposes of this part of the Bill. I undertook, when pressed by my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies) and several hon. Members opposite, to consult the club organisations, and in particular my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General, and to amend the definition in the light of any observations received.

The result of that consultation is the Amendment which I have now moved. The Attorney-General felt that the definition of a club might be embarrassing for other legislation and that possibly the same purpose could be served by inserting additional conditions in the Bill rather than by the form of a definition. Therefore, the Amendment before the House is not a definition of a club as it appears in the Bill at the moment, but further conditions which must be complied with before a club can take advantage of the provisions in the Bill whereby it can charge a subscription or card money for taking part in gaming. The contents of those conditions differ very little from the contents of the definition which appears in the Bill itself.

The discussions with the various club organisations produced two points. The first was that the condition that a person must be a member for 48 hours was too restrictive. This was a point urged on me by both sides of the Committee. Therefore, in the Amendment which we are considering the period of 48 hours has been reduced to one of 24 hours. The second suggestion made by two of the club organisations was that the definition, or words, should apply only to a genuine membership of the club. We felt unable to accept that because, quite obviously, much of this gaming takes place quite legitimately in proprietary clubs. Therefore the Amendment provides two additional conditions which must be complied with before gaming can take place in a club and the club take advantage of the concessions available. The 48-hour period has been changed to one of 24 hours and, before that period of 24 hours, it will be perfectly possible for the member to enjoy the other facilities of the club, but not for him to take part in gaming. Generally the wording has been slightly improved in the light of the observations made in the Committee.

Mr. Paget

What is meant by the words "a bona fide guest"? I should have thought anybody who played cards in a club was either a member or a guest. If he were not a guest, the club members would not play with him.

Mr. Vosper

The intention is that a guest should be someone who does not just appear at the door of the club and seek admission by being the guest of the manager, but a genuine guest of the club. It is not a very difficult point of definition and certainly not one which was discussed in Committee.

When considering the context of this Amendment the House might wonder what it is all about. It was undoubtedly the feeling in the Committee that the conditions for gaming in clubs were too generous. The Amendment tightens the conditions and makes it more difficult for the bogus club, which may be concerned purely with the organisation of gaming, to come into operation.

I have noted Amendments on this subject which have been tabled by hon. Members opposite and by my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet, and I propose to deal with them in due course.

Mr. Wigg

On a point of order. It would help the House and save time if the right hon. Gentleman now indicated what his attitude will be towards those Amendments. If he does not intend to accept them, we could get them out of the way now.

Miss Bacon

I think that all the hon. Members who were in the Committee will agree that the question of the definition of a club was one of the most difficult questions with which we had to deal. It occupied a great deal of time. I thank the right hon. Gentleman for the trouble which he has taken in consulting all the various organisations. We agree that his Amendment improves the position.

We have put other Amendments on the Order Paper on the same subject. For example, we believe that the insertion of the word "regular" after the word "in" in line 20, and the insertion of the words "a regular", having left out the word "an", in line 21, would make the position much clearer.

We are very much concerned about the position of the working men's clubs, and for this reason we have put down an Amendment in line 28, after "club" to insert or a member of an institution affiliated to the club". Many of the working men's clubs in the country are affiliated to the Club and Institute Union. If he has a membership card of that union, together with what is called a pass card showing that he has paid his subscriptions for the year, a member of any club so affiliated in any part of the country may enter any other club so affiliated.

We should like to establish without any doubt whether such a person entering another club would be covered by the Act. To make that clear we should like to insert the words which we have put on the Order Paper. This would mean that any member of a working men's club affiliated to the Club and Institute Union, when he visited another club so affiliated to the union, could take part in any games being played in that club without being prosecuted. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will accept that Amendment, for I am certain that it will affect many thousands of people who belong to working men's clubs.

5.45 p.m.

Mr. Rees-Davies

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on attempting to do something which is extremely difficult— in defining a club, and succeeding to a very large extent. There are a few remarks of some import which I want to make, and in them I associate myself largely with the hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon).

I have put down an Amendment, in line 21, to leave out from the beginning to "which" in line 22. The purpose of it is to leave out the words being an association which is not merely of a temporary character and". In fact, that Amendment is acceptable to the Government in that it comes out in their own definition in introducing their own words from lines 19 to 29. I warmly welcome the general definition as it stands and the first part of the Government's Amendment.

In order to get this into perspective, particularly for those who have not followed this discussion, it is essential to define what are proprietary clubs. The Bill as it stands rightly says the expression 'club' means a number of persons in association with one another for a common purpose …". It goes on to say "which is so organised that" a person must have been a member for at least 24 hours before the gaming began; or a bona fide guest of such a member. It goes on to say, too, that the club must be so constituted and conducted, both as regards membership and otherwise, as not to be of a merely temporary character. The difficulty is that clubs may be clubs for only a very short time, or they may be clubs for the year, or they may be clubs the character of which is permanent but some people are members of them for only a very short time. My right hon. Friend's definition lays it down that the club shall be so constituted and conducted, both as regards membership and otherwise, as not to be of a merely temporary character. This raises a very serious matter, just as the last Amendment raised the question of youths and children being in the boarding houses and camps. There is a pattern existing throughout the country which can easily be disturbed if the definition is wrong. The pattern of the clubs to which the hon. Lady referred and that of the camps is precisely the same.

The club works in this way: you pay your annual membership fee but you become only a temporary club member. In the camps, if you are staying for only a week or a fortnight, you are a club member for only a week or a fortnight. The words which the Government propose are that the club is so constituted and conducted … as not to be of a merely temporary character. So far that definition is satisfactory, for in all these cases, the clubs to which the hon. Lady referred and the holiday camp clubs of Warner's, Butlin's and elsewhere are not" of a merely temporary character". But my right hon. Friend has also sought to include the words both as regards membership and otherwise"; and the phrase therefore reads that the club is so constituted and conducted, both as regards membership and otherwise, as not to be of a merely temporary character. That could cause considerable difficulty. It would mean that if a person were a temporary member of a club for. the purpose of gaming, he could be committing an offence.

Mr. J. T. Price (Westhoughton)

I know that the hon. Member is not deliberately trying to bedevil the issue, but before he bedevils it any further, will he give an illustration of what he regards as a typical temporary club, as distinct from temporary membership?

Mr. Rees-Davies

My right hon. Friend wants to stop the fly-by-night clubs—and I agree with him. He wants to give a definition of a proprietary club which will prevent people from opening for a week or a fortnight in the season, at the seaside, for example, and then closing. I agree with my right hon. Friend in wishing to stop such clubs, but what I am afraid he will also stop is the club which is of a permanent character but has a temporary membership, such as the clubs at Warner's or Butlin's. In such clubs the only permanent members are the staff, but someone who goes to the camp as a visitor becomes a temporary member. The club always remains in existence but it has only a temporary membership. If I go to Regent Street tomorrow and then decide that I shall go to the camp, for example, at Margate, I shall become a member of that club, but only a temporary member, although the Butlin's club there is of a permanent character.

The subsection at present reads as follows. I propose to read it in full, because I think that we are ad idem on what we aim to achieve. It says: In this subsection, the expression 'club' means a number of persons in association with one another for a common purpose … That is the first thing. That is all right. It continues: and which is so organised that

  1. (i) a period of not less than forty-eight hours must elapse between a person's application or nomination for membership of the club and his first enjoyment of the privileges thereof; and
  2. (ii) no person who is not a member, or a bona fide guest of a member, of the club is permitted to enjoy any facilities afforded by the club for gaming."
The Government's Amendment reads: and (c) that no person took part in the gaming who was not either— (i) a member of the club in pursuance of an application or nomination for membership made more than twenty-four hours before the gaming began. That has been reduced from 48 to 24 hours. It continues: or (ii) a bona fide guest of such a member". This is the difficulty: and (d) that the club is so constituted and conducted, both as regards membership and otherwise, as not to be of a merely temporary character. I agree entirely that we do not want clubs of a temporary character, but at the same time it may be desirable for a member to be a temporary member. Certain clubs may have only country members. Others may have temporary members. It happens in all the camps and seaside resorts that the clubs may retain a permanent character, but the membership may be only a temporary one. The words here are: that the club is so constituted and conducted, both as regards membership and otherwise, as not to be of a merely temporary character. I have a perfectly open mind on this matter, and I realise that I may be quite wrong. What I fear is that we shall find the clubs which are perfectly proper and in which gaming takes place as an ancillary function, as in various camps, on the wrong side of this very brave definition, which I very much support.

I therefore hope that my right hon. Friend will look carefully at it yet again to see whether it would not be right to exclude the words both as regards membership and otherwise or alternatively to ensure the elimination of the phrase "of a temporary character", because otherwise he has the whole matter admirably defined.

Mr. Wigg

On a point of order. I asked the Joint Under-Secretary if he would be kind enough to indicate the Government's attitude to the Amendments. He did not respond. That places me in a very great difficulty, because the Government's Amendment seeks to delete lines 19 to 29. The other Amendments which we are discussing with the Government Amendment relate to lines within that number. If the Government's Amendment is accepted—one does not anticipate that the Government will fall on this issue —all the Amendments go, unless you, Sir, would allow my hon. Friends to move them again relating to the new numbers.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

If the Government Amendment is accepted, the other Amendments fall, because the lines to which the other Amendments relate will no longer be there.

Mr. Wigg

Further to that point of order. If all the other Amendments subsequently fall because the Government's Amendment is accepted, it would save a great deal of time and be of very considerable assistance to all hon. Members—certainly to myself—if we knew what the Government's attitude was.

Mr. Vosper

With permission, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, perhaps it would help if I did what the hon. Member suggested. Perhaps I should have done it initially.

It is true that most of the Amendments fall because of the drafting of the Government Amendment. I think that there are three separate points. The first point raised in the Amendment in page 13, line 28, regarding affiliation was argued in Committee. We have been into this very closely, because one obviously accepts that in principle. All my advice is to the effect that a member of a club which is a member of the Club and Institute Union is automatically a member of any other club in that organisation. Therefore, as was pointed out in Committee by the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker), the membership card of a particular club makes the man a member of any other club for the purposes of the Bill. Therefore, that Amendment is unnecessary and the wording is sufficient to cover that. I have been into this most carefully, because I am anxious to meet that point.

The Amendment in page 13, line 21, is the complete opposite of what my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies) wants to do. We have examined this Amendment. I think that the word "regular" in place of the word "temporary" would be too onerous, because it would require the members of the club to attend regularly and not from time to time as they may wish to do so. If we inserted the word "regular" we would get into great difficulties with many perfectly normal clubs. I therefore hope that the hon. Lady will accept that the word "temporary" is adequate for our purpose.

I come to the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet. He looks at this from a different point of view. He is worried about the temporary nature of the club. That is a rather important provision in this Amendment, because it is designed to make quite certain that no fly-by-night club is allowed to take advantage of this provision. We must be quite clear that what we are concerned with here is not the legalisation of gaming. Gaming can go on in any club or organisation. We are concerned merely with those clubs which want to take advantage of the subsection, which enables them to make a charge for card money.

My hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet says that if we leave in the word "temporary" it will be difficult for many seaside clubs. There are two points on that. I think that my hon. Friend accepts the first point, which is that the fact that a club meets only at certain times of the year would not appear to make it a temporary club. If there is a club in Margate which meets from April to September, it will not be ruled out on account of the Amendment. The second point is more difficult. My hon. Friend is concerned about the constantly changing membership of a club or a holiday camp. That is ruled out by the words in the Government's Amendment.

This is a difficult matter, but if I accept my hon. Friend's Amendment I shall be opening the door far too wide to other abuses which worried the Committee. Another point, similar to the point made on the last Amendment, is that if I were to meet the entire wishes of the promoters of holiday camps I should be in danger of going too far in the other direction. After all, we are concerned merely with the charging of admission or card money for gaming at a holiday camp. When this was discussed in Committee my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Mr. McAdden) rather suggested that holiday camps would not take advantage of this Clause, but would take advantage of Clause 22, which deals with amusements with prizes. I do not know whether that is so. The opportunity is still open to holiday camps to apply for a licence and these conditions would not apply.

Furthermore, they can organise gaming or housey-housey without making an admission charge and raise the money in another way. They can, moreover, as I said earlier, take advantage of the provisions of the Small Lotteries and Gaming Act to raise their money, make a charge for gaming in that way, and fulfil the purposes which they now achieve in a slightly different manner.

I have been asked at a very late moment to receive a deputation on this point from the organisations concerned. I am perfectly prepared to do so. But my advice to the House at the moment is that to remove the word "temporary" would open the door too wide, and therefore the House should accept the Amendment standing in the Government's name.

Mr. Paget

I entirely agree with what the right hon. Gentleman has said. If the word "temporary" is removed, the door is absolutely wide open. I cannot see that it is any great hardship on the promoters of holidays camps not to be able to make a charge on housey-housey played in their camps. It seems a very trivial point, and one—

6.0 p.m.

Mr. Rees-Davies

The hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) may say that, but has he taken the trouble to find out that, I think last year, upwards of £50,000—and I quote without having the figures in front of me—went to the National Playing Fields Association from the playing of housey-housey throughout these holiday camps, and that, in fact, all these games are based round a method of club membership—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Order. I would remind the hon. Gentleman that we are on the Report stage.

Mr. Paget

If the holiday camps organise their housey-housey on the basis that there is a subscription by the players to the National Playing Fields Association, without profit to the holiday camp, that is not barred by this Clause. So much for that—we need not worry about it. There is nothing to prevent a subscription being taken from a gambler to a charity as long as there is no profit to the promoters, and that is not touched here.

The Joint Under-Secretary may be right in his advice that every affiliated club member is a member of the club for the purpose of the Clause, but does the right hon. Gentleman think that every working man knows that? When we can make the Bill intelligible or unintelligible, why not put in the word that makes it intelligible to the management committees of working men's clubs, many of whom will not appreciate that? We have only to insert the words "a member of a club or an affiliated body." It is such a tiny Amendment, but will make things easier for so many people that we should put it in, if that is the intention of the Bill.

I find the bona fide guest of a member a slightly difficult matter. If we find members of a club sitting at a table playing cards with people who are not members of the club, how on earth we are to set about proving that the non-members are not guests of the members is beyond my comprehension because, as I understand it, the burden of proof is on the prosecution. I do not see how people sitting down to play cards in a club can fail to be included in the description of members or in the description of guests of members. I should have thought that they must be one or the other. I am not at all sure whether that is so, and as the right hon. Gentleman will have an opportunity to look at those two points when the Bill goes to another place, I should be very grateful to him if he would take it.

Mr. Wigg

I want to thank both the Home Secretary and the Joint Undersecretary for this Amendment. They have done much better than I thought they would. I did not think it possible to get such an acceptable form of words. The Amendment may make a very real difference to the management of genuine clubs, and do a lot to prevent the emergence of undesirable clubs. In Committee, we pressed the Government rather hard on this point. We urged them to consult interested bodies whose only concern is the good management of the clubs. The Government have done that, and all I say to them is, "Thank you very much."

Amendment agreed to.