HC Deb 10 May 1960 vol 623 cc254-5
Mr. John M. Temple (City of Chester)

I beg to move, in page 14, line 6, at the end to insert: or which are used wholly or mainly by persons under the age of eighteen years". This Clause is wholly devoted to the operation of gaming machines, and this limited Amendment seeks to preclude the possibility of their being placed and used in clubs or premises mainly or wholly used by persons under 18 years of age. It is significant that the country is at present on the verge of a great expansion in the youth service, and whilst it is generally appreciated that those in charge of youth organisations will be responsible people, I will show that in two ways it may be possible for gaming machines to be used in the premises used by the young persons I have mentioned.

I believe that the only gaming machine in common use in this country at present is one normally called a "fruit machine", and this machine is particularly attractive to young people. Although, under the Clause, the maximum stake will be 6d., nevertheless, large amounts of money can go into those machines. As I understand it, the fruit machine is operated by a lever which sets in motion a series of revolving drums. If a certain combination of characters—such as three lemons —come on the drums in a line, a certain dividend is paid.

There comes a moment, however, when the jackpot is about to be paid out. Situated at the bottom of the machine there is a glass container in which one can see the jackpot money accumulate, and when the jackpot is imminent the members of the club where the machine is situated get what is known as "jackpot fever". When "jackpot fever" overtakes them, the play becomes fast and furious.

As I say, I do not think that responsible members of a youth organisation will install these things, but fruit machines are renowned as money raisers, and I can well understand someone who might be extremely keen to get extra facilities for the youth organisation—for example, further equipment— rather overlooking the fact that he was introducing gambling by having the machines in the club. Those are the organisers whose ideals are laudable, but who fall for the idea of raising money by means of gambling.

There will be the other type of youth organisation that will not necessarily be run by people with the same high ideals. I imagine that those people will seek to install the machines and use the money gained by their use to improve the facilities of the club. On both grounds, I believe it to be desirable that we should write into the Clause words to make it impossible for these fruit machines, or gambling machines of any nature—which may be invented—to be placed in youth clubs.

My right hon. Friend said earlier that we must have safeguards for young people, and he may, therefore, find himself in agreement with this Amendment. It is our duty to prevent gaming machines being used in youth clubs. This is an opportunity for the House to act with common-sense, and I hope that the opportunity will not be missed. I may add that the Amendment has the full support of the Council of Churches.

I hope that, for all those reasons, the House will feel able to accept the Amendment.

Mr. Vosper

Like my hon. Friend the Member for the City of Chester (Mr. Temple), I sincerely hope that those responsible for the organisation of youth clubs will not even contemplate having fruit or equivalent machines in the youth clubs. My hon. Friend feels that there is a risk, and as his Amendment is consonant with Amendments to other parts of the Bill with respect to young people, the Government are prepared to accept it.

Amendment agreed to.