HC Deb 10 May 1960 vol 623 cc275-8
Mr. Rees-Davies

I beg to move, in page 18, line 18, to leave out from "machine" to "of" in line 19 and to insert: which—

  1. (a) is made playable by the insertion of a coin or coins into the machine; and
  2. (b) is played in accordance either with the condition set out in subsection (2) or with the alternative conditions set out in subsection (3) ".

Mr. Speaker

It may be convenient to discuss with this Amendment the two following Amendments in the name of the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies), in line 20, leave out from first "The" to end of line 24 and insert: first of the conditions referred to in paragraph (b) of the foregoing subsection is that". and in line 32, at end insert: (3) The alternative conditions referred to in paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of this section are—

  1. (a) that the amount required to be inserted into the machine in order to play the game once does not exceed threepence; and
  2. (b) that no prize is distributed or offered which is a money prize or which exceeds five shillings in value.

Mr. Rees-Davies

That would be convenient, Mr. Speaker.

These Amendments look complicated. They have been completely drafted, but not by me. The essence of them is that there is in the bars of present public houses, in coffee bars and in clubs in various parts of the country, a number of small, innocuous machines of this nature. There is the machine in which one puts a penny and the penny comes back. That is covered in another Clause of the Bill. There is also the machine in which one may play up to 3d. and at the end one may get not a money prize but perhaps a packet of Players or something of that kind.

A number of these small machines do not always go into the amusement parks, and these are the machines which will be limited by the conditions. This Clause is the one which deals with the amusement machines of a completely innocuous nature. Under earlier Clauses there are machines by which there is more gaming and which are permitted for amusement parks where there is a licence. These are machines permitted anywhere and everywhere under Clause 23. At present, Clause 23 says: Nothing in sections sixteen to eighteen of this Act or in section twenty-one or twenty-two of the Betting and Lotteries Act, 1934, shall apply to a game played by means of a machine in accordance with the conditions set out in subsection (2) of this section. As these conditions stand at the moment, a person may put a penny in a machine and get it back, as in the case of a football game, when he plays against an opponent and gets the coin back if he wins.

My Amendments are designed to enable people to use machines which are spring-loaded and which operate lights which illuminate various numbers —20,000, 30,000 and 40,000—and where, if a certain number is obtained, the money inserted is returned and a prize of a shilling or sixpence may be obtained from the bar. The Amendment will expand the use of some of these machines, which are made in this country.

Mr. Vosper

As my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies) says, the Clause relates to gaming machines which are innocuous. Other gaming machines are dealt with by other Clauses and are restricted either to clubs or amusement arcades. There is no restriction upon the use of machines defined in this Clause. The Bill defines an innocuous machine as one which gives the player his money back, or gives him the right to have a second go. My hon. Friend wants to add a third definition; he wants to include machines which for a contribution of not more than threepence may entitle the person using the machine to a prize not exceeding 5s. in value.

I do not like the Amendments. I believe that in them we are getting beyond the realm of the innocuous machine and into the realm of the gaming machine. There is a difference between the two, and on this point I should be grateful for an expression of opinion by other hon. Members. One point which must be borne in mind is that it is difficult to define: a … prize … which exceeds five shillings in value There would be some difficulty in enforcing that provision, and that, in itself, would render the Amendment open to abuse. The House would be advised to limit these innocuous machines, which may be placed anywhere, to those covered by the simple provisions contained in the existing Clause, and not extend the definition in the direction of the Amendments.

Mr. Rees-Davies

Would my right hon. Friend find the Amendments more acceptable if the money prize limit were lowered, or the amount of money inserted were limited to 1d. or 2d.? I have no great personal knowledge of this matter but, as my right hon. Friend knows, the trade is interested in it, and has asked that the matter should be discussed. It has made representations to the Home Secretary.

Mr. Vosper

My hon. Friend is quite correct; representations were made by a section of the trade. But I am advised that the trade is divided on this issue, and that some sections fear that the abuse to which I referred earlier may arise. I am also advised that although these machines are not numerous at present, if the Amendments were accepted they might become so, and we do not want to encourage that. In those circumstances I must advise the House to reject the Amendment, although I am prepared to consider the further point made by my hon. Friend in the light of any further recommendations that might be made by other hon. Members.

Amendment negatived.