HC Deb 11 May 1960 vol 623 cc426-94

Order for Third Reading read.

3.42 p.m.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Dennis Vosper)

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

If my calculations are correct, hon. Members have at all stages of this Bill so far spent a total of 88 hours in discussing the Measure. Tempting though it may be, I am sure that you share my hope, Mr. Speaker, that we shall not attempt to set up the century this afternoon. I would be the first to agree that with the possible exception of the first two sittings in Standing Committee those 88 hours have been well spent, and that the deliberations at all stages on this Measure have led to its improvement.

I should like to pay my tribute to the many right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House who have contributed to the improvement of the Bill. It would be invidious of me to name them at this stage, but it is a fact that in the Bill as amended contributions have been made directly or indirectly by many of those who sat in the Standing Committee or took part on the Report stage. Therefore, although the Bill was initiated by Her Majesty's Government, it has been improved by the House of Commons as a whole.

One of the spokesmen for Her Majesty's Opposition yesterday said that the Opposition had had a free vote at all times, and I accept that. But, on the other hand, a study of our deliberations in Committee and of the Division records in Committee will make it clear that, although I had the strength of the Administration behind me, my hon. Friends had discretion at all stages, and on many occasions some of my hon. Friends supported the Opposition line and I benefited on many occasions from support from hon. Members opposite.

The object of the Bill—this is going back to the Second Reading—is not to encourage an increase in gambling, but is to revise laws which have fallen into disrepute, which are not understood by the public and which consume a great amount of police manpower in attempting to enforce them. If I may, I should like to quote again from paragraph 186 of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming: We therefore consider that the object of gambling legislation should be to interfere as little as possible with individual liberty to take part in the various forms of gambling but to impose such restrictions as are desirable and practicable to discourage or prevent excess. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, in moving the Second Reading of the Bill on 16th November, carried that a little further when he said: We hope that the Bill—with the improvements that will be made to it during its passage through Parliament—will provide reasonable freedom for people who wish to bet or to play games for money to do so, while, at the same time, retaining sufficient safeguards to act as deterrents against their being led into excess."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th November, 1959; Vol. 613, c. 822] I repeat both those statements because my concern and that of my right hon. Friend has at all times been to ensure this balance between freedom and the liberalisation of the law, on the one hand, and the prevention of excess and abuse, on the other. That is a balance which is applicable to all forms of social reform, but particularly so in relation to the Measure which we are discussing today.

Therefore, in considering the Amendments which have been moved at various stages one has to have regard to the two sides of this balance which were first expressed in the Royal Commission's recommendations. Amendments that have been made have been of both types. Amendments to the Second Schedule are of the liberalising type. The new Clause relating to young people is inserted to prevent excess or abuse.

As you will have noted, Mr. Speaker, the Bill is unchanged in its general form. It has, however, grown from 23 to 29 Clauses. I believe, and I hope that I shall find an echo of this in the speeches which follow—that the Bill has been improved during our consideration of it. Part I of the Bill, to which most of our attention has been devoted, is concerned with betting. That is founded upon the repeal of the Act of 1853, and the repeal thereby legalises off-course cash betting. That is done in Clause 1. It is this decision to legalise off-course cash betting, to give it parity with credit betting, which gives rise to problems which are dealt with in later Clauses in Part I.

Clause 1, at the same time, maintains the prohibition in the 1853 Act regarding resorting to a place. But there are two exceptions to that. The first one, which was in the Bill when introduced, is the provision for the licensed betting office, to which I will refer in a moment, but there is an additional one which finds expression in the proviso to subsection (2) of Clause 1. This brings us into the field of the factory runner.

On Second Reading, there was much criticism that the factory runner was in no way covered by the Bill. This proviso now makes some contribution towards remedying what many hon. Members thought was a deficiency. Factory runners, in so far as they are peripatetic and take their bets on the move, were legal under the Bill as introduced. The legalisation of cash betting did that. But, as the Bill originally stood, it was illegal for them to take their bets when stationary. The proviso which was inserted in Committee now makes it legal for a runner, or an agent as he has now become, to take a bet in a factory in any form, on the move or stationary. In fact, it goes further than that, because it enables bets to be taken at any place of work or in any place where people reside together.

It is possible, under this proviso, for a bet to be taken not only in a place of work, but in a hospital or hotel or, perhaps, in this building, so long as the people concerned reside or work together. Therefore, this provision will give some effect to the desire to accord legality and recognition to the factory runner.

What is not in the Bill, of course, is any reference to what was often described as the "milkman". Nothing in the Bill or in the Street Betting Act, 1906, prohibits a milkman or other roundsman acting as an agent of a bookmaker and receiving bets from his customers as a sideline to his ordinary business, provided, of course, that he has written authority from his principal under Clause 3.

The result of Clause 1 as amended is that there are now five channels available for a person who wishes to make a bet. He can, as he always could, make his bet by telephone. Under the Bill, he can, if he wishes, make his bet by post. He can make his bet via the roundsman, the person who comes to his own doorstep. He can make his bet via the runner in his place of work or the place where he resides. Lastly, of course, he can resort to the betting office. I reiterate now what my right hon. Friend and I have said previously. There will be very few people who wish to bet who will need to resort to a betting office if they do not wish to do so. The other channels are available to them. It is not true, therefore, to suggest that the Government are driving all potential punters to the betting office.

To those five channels some right hon. and hon. Members wished to add a sixth channel, street betting. On Report, my right hon. Friend dealt, I thought, very convincingly with this issue and I do not propose to add anything at this stage, except to say that I believe that the channels which are available are adequate to meet the needs of punters in this country.

Clause 2 is largely unchanged. It deals with permits for bookmakers acting on their own account. Coupled with Clause 2 goes the First Schedule which sets up the licensing procedure. There has been no change made in Clause 2, but there have been some changes in the machinery for the licensing procedure under the First Schedule, for many of which we must be grateful to the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) for the many constructive contributions that he made as a result of his experience in this particular matter.

Clause 3 is entirely new. It deals with the registration of agents, formerly known as runners. It is a logical extension of the control through the principal bookmaker to the runner or agent he employs and was discussed at great length in Committee. This provision of the Bill as it now stands requires any agent employed by way of business by a principal bookmaker to have a permit authorised in writing. The bookmaker himself will be required to keep a register of authorised agents.

There was a suggestion that we should go even further and extend the licensing system not only to bookmakers, but to the agents. The Government have rejected that suggestion on the ground of impracticability, that to impose and operate a licensing system for all the thousands of agents throughout the country would be an impossible burden for the licensing justices and a very difficult requirement to enforce.

The provision in the Clause as it stands is, in some places, regarded as unenforceable. The Times, in a recent leader, made this point, which was made also in Committee. The Government accepted and themselves made the point that there is a limit to the enforceability of the Clause in the sense that an agent who operates illegally in a place of work is unlikely to be found out. But the Committee believed, and I believe, that the Clause will, in course of time, become self-enforcing in the sense that the punter will become accustomed to frequent the registered or accredited agent rather than go to the freelance agent. I believe, therefore, that, although there may be weaknesses in the Clause, it will serve a useful purpose in the extension of control here.

I should make plain that this Clause applies only to the agent employed by the bookmaker, full-time or part-time, by way of business. It does not apply to the agent who operates as a friendly gesture for a friend or to the agent who operates as the punter's agent and who may receive a commission from the punter as opposed to the bookmaker.

Clause 4 sets up licensed offices. There is little change here. Having legalised cash betting under Clause 1, we have then to provide a place for cash betting to take place. The division between the two sides in Committee was on whether that place should be in the street or in an office. In more recent days, I think, the division has been not about one or the other but about whether both should be available. The House rejected the alternative of the street. Therefore, the place for cash betting transactions is the office.

There are still those in the House and outside who doubt very much whether these betting offices will really work. I have little doubt about it, although I know that the right hon. Member for South Shields has criticised me for trying to justify betting offices on the ground that I think they will work. They work in the Republic of Ireland. They have been working for a little more than two years perfectly satisfactorily in Northern Ireland. They have been working, albeit illegally, in Scotland and in many places in the North of England. Although I know that this is a matter of doubt, I have no reason to believe that they will not work in the rest of England, particularly when they become legal under the Bill.

There is one important change made in the Second Schedule, in respect of offices, namely, in the provisions relating to access. It is a small change but, again, as The Times pointed out, a very significant one. No longer will the access to the betting office have to be direct from the street; it can be via a passage, corridor or some other place, provided that the access is not through another place of business. This is an important change designed principally to help rural areas, but I think it will be of use also in places where principal bookmakers will find it difficult, in view of competition, to find betting offices.

Moreover, I think that it may meet the anxieties of those like my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, South (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth) who fear that the betting office might become too obtrusive if it always fronted on the street. This is a considerable change, although I appreciate that it is somewhat resented by those who feel that it means a loosening of control.

The Second Schedule dealing with the conduct of offices, coupled with Clause 5, has been very much shortened. In general, the Second Schedule was criticised initially for being unenforceable in some respects, and the conditions were thought to be too austere in other respects. The attitude we have tried to adopt towards these provisions is that the betting office should be a place of business. It should, therefore, have adequate facilities for the conduct of the business. We should not, on the other hand, go to the other extreme advocated by one or two of my hon. Friends, to the extent that people would be attracted to the place who would not otherwise go there for the purpose of betting. For that reason, we have consistently opposed the introduction of radio and television.

Equally, of course, it was important to make the Schedule enforceable. Such things as the prohibition on the paying out of winnings and on loitering, desirable though they might be, have been dropped on that account. I should make it quite clear that my right hon. Friend retains ultimate control by virtue of the hours of opening. If continuous betting of an excessive nature takes place in betting offices, it will be perfectly possible, under the Bill as it stands, for my right hon. Friend to introduce a closed period at any time during the day. Thus, control is retained despite the generally welcomed shortening and simplification of the Second Schedule.

Clause 7 deals with young persons. That is an entirely new Clause, due initially to my hon. Friend the Member for the City of Chester (Mr. Temple), who first produced an Amendment to this effect. It makes it an offence to have a betting transaction with a young person, an offence to employ a young person in a betting transaction or in a licensed betting office, and it also makes it an offence to employ a young person—all under the age of 18—as an agent. The offence carries with it the ultimate sanction of Clause 8, which enables a court to order the forfeiture of a bookmaker's permit for the more serious offences of which this now becomes one.

Clause 10 is also a new Clause, albeit a simple one, following a recommendation of the Royal Commission that an annual return of the number of bookmakers' permits issued or renewed, and the number of licences issued in respect of offices in any one year, shall be laid before Parliament. It does not go as far as the hon. Gentleman the Member for Islington, East (Mr. Fletcher) would have wished, to give statistics regarding bookmakers' profits and accounts, because the Government took the view that it should not require bookmakers alone among the professions to publish accounts which would be necessary if that provision were put in the Bill.

The only other changes in Part I are minor ones. Clause 12 is entirely new. It puts the off-course greyhound totalisators in the same position as those employed by the Racecourse Betting Control Board. Clauses 13 and 14 are due to the initiative of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) as a slight addition to his Pool Betting Act regarding football pools.

Part II of the Bill is very little changed. It is still based on the objective of the Royal Commission that we should prevent persons from being induced to play for high stakes for the profit motive. It is based on the three principles recommended by the Royal Commission—it is perhaps appropriate today that I should pay tribute to Mr. Gilbert Beyfus, who himself put this particular proposal to the Royal Commission—that the chances of all the players in the games should be equal, the promoters should take no cuts in the stakes and that no charge for admission should be made except in the case of clubs. This financial approach to gaming is, of course, entirely new. No change has been made in it during the various stages of the Bill. The only changes which have been made in the very substantial and important Clause 16 are in regard to young persons, clubs and casinos.

The Committee and the House felt that it was unduly prohibitive to prevent all young persons taking part in gaming and, therefore, yesterday the House accepted some modifications in that respect. As regards clubs and casinos, the Committee and the House generally felt that there might have been a weakness in subsection (7) of the Clause and that the promoter or operator of the bogus club might find a loophole. I think that the Government felt that the profits available to such a promoter would be very little and that there would not be sufficient incentive for him to take advantage of this subsection. Nevertheless, Amendments have been incorporated in the Clause to try to prevent any loophole that might otherwise have existed.

On the point of casinos, although I have stated quite categorically that the Government were opposed to the establishment of casinos, that no private promoter would find it worth while to establish a casino under the Bill and that it would be unlikely that local authorities would do so, we accepted an Amendment of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Islington, East to make quite certain that local authorities should not take advantage of the Local Government Act to subsidise casinos to attract people to their localities. There are no significant changes with regard to the Clause dealing with gaming machines except a small Amendment applying restrictions to young people.

In Part III, regarding amusements with prizes, the conditions remain the same and responsibility rests on the local authorities, but we have given the promoters of these amusement arcades some additional safeguards which, I think, are justified. The only other point which I think I need specifically to refer to is Clause 24, in connection with gaming in public houses. This is a matter which was fairly fully discussed on Report yesterday. I would add little to it. We have departed very considerably from the Royal Commission's recommendation and from the Bill as introduced. This departure was made in Committee and now enables many of the practices which are normally carried on illegally in public houses to be continued legally. The exception, of course, which was the subject of our debate yesterday, is one or more games of skill and chance.

My right hon. Friend and I have been challenged in various public houses in England to prove whether dominoes is a game of skill or of skill and chance. There is no doubt that dominoes is a game of skill and chance, the chance, of course, coming in the draw. Obviously, it is a game, which, if it could be conducted in a modest form, should be allowed in public houses and for that reason my right hon. Friend told the House yesterday that he would give further consideration to what is a very difficult problem if we are not to have a very grave and further departure from the Bill. I noticed that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields was not with us during that discussion and that on a later Amendment he said that he hoped there would be no further concessions to the publicans. Of course, any further departure from the Bill in this respect would be a further concession. Nevertheless, my right hon. Friend has said that he would bear in mind what was said yesterday.

Mr. Ede (South Shields)

I was on public business elsewhere yesterday, but I arrived here when the Secretary of State was making his pronouncement on this matter. My subsequent remark was made in the light of what the right hon. Gentleman had already conceded. I greatly enjoy dominoes, but I regret to have to confess that my failure at it indicates that it is a game of skill.

Mr. Vosper

That is why I am a little reluctant to take part in this challenge, because I do not think that it would prove anything so far as my skill is concerned.

My right hon. Friend has said that he will consider this matter further. Two other matters to which he said he would give further consideration in another place concern the question of advertising, which was discussed in Committee and on Report, and the increased penalties for street betting under Clause 6. These are the only three specific items which, at this moment, remain outstanding for further consideraton.

The Bill now goes to another place, and, as I said yesterday on an Amendment moved by an hon. Member opposite, it is subject to approval there and to discussion with the interested parties. We had in mind a provisional timetable which, as I explained on that Amendment, would have the effect of bringing Parts II and III into operation this autumn and will bring into effect the vital Clauses 2 and 4 on 1st May. I think that, on the whole, that is a reasonable timetable, but it is subject to negotiation with those people who have to operate these provisions of the Bill.

I have no doubt that there will be teething troubles and that various members of the public will say, "I told you so. This will not work". I believe— and I hope that I carry the House with me—that this is a workable Measure, the merits of which will become increasingly apparent with the passage of time. It will need time to establish the betting office system. We cannot expect it to work perfectly in the first year. There may be some hon. Members who still feel, as they did on Second Reading, that the Bill is too much of a concession to those interested in gambling and that it provides too generous facilities. To this, I would say that I think that the very important control which my right hon. Friend will retain over the hours of opening of betting offices will be a useful safeguard.

I would also point out that under paragraph 20 (1, b) of the First Schedule the licensing justices have considerable discretion about the licensing offices in regard to the needs and demands of a locality. I therefore do not regard this Measure as a free-for-all for the gambler. I regard it as a reasonable Measure to provide facilities.

I do not know whether any hon. Member proposes to vote against the Third Reading of the Bill. One or two hon. Members said that they would do so in their speeches at an earlier stage. I find that a little illogical at this stage. There can be only two reasons for their wishing to vote against the Third Reading. The first is that they are against gambling, but a Bill which tries to bring the law up to date is a Measure of social reform which, after all, will enable the police to do something to enforce the law and should commend itself to them. The other reason for voting against it, presumably, is a fondness for street betting. We have argued that at great length. The battle was well and truly fought, but it was lost.

I hope that the House will accept the Bill as amended in Committee and on Report, and I commend it to the House

4.10 p.m.

Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East

): The right hon. Gentleman the Joint Under-Secretary of State has said that the Bill has had a lengthy progress, and perhaps I may add the adjective, tortuous progress, through the Committee stage, and I am sure that a great many hon. and right hon. Members on both sides of the House will give a sigh of relief that we are now approaching the final stage of our consideration of the Bill in this House.

Members on both sides will be aware that the Opposition have consistently declined to regard the Bill as a party Measure in any sense. The Opposition Whips have not been on at any stage. All Members on this side have had complete freedom to express their own individual views, both in their speeches and in their votes. Most of my hon. Friends have taken full advantage of that freedom. The greatest diversity of opinion has been expressed. I only say that to emphasise that, in giving my own personal views, I am speaking for myself alone. There are, nevertheless, one or two observations I should like to make which, I feel convinced, will secure general support on both sides.

First, I should like to pay my tribute to the Joint Under-Secretary of State for the skill and studious industry with which he piloted the Bill through the Committee stage. He has treated us with unfailing courtesy, patience and consideration.

Mr. Ede

He is a gentleman.

Mr. Fletcher

At the outset, some of us were inclined to cavil at the absence of the Home Secretary from our proceedings in Committee, but I can assure him that he could not have had a better or more efficient deputy.

Secondly, those of us who served on the Committee who had no great expertise in this subject recognised how greatly indebted we were to the contributions made by Members on both sides with profound knowledge and long experience of betting or gaming, or both, notably the hon. Members for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies), Southend, East, (Mr. McAdden) and Manchester, Blackley (Mr. E. Johnson), and, from these benches, my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg), my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) and, last but not least, my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede).

Having said that, I ought to add that, as the Bill proceeded through Committee, I was rather conscious that it was being considered by experts and that there were times when we were, perhaps, inclined to overlook the fact that the Bill, because it is a Measure of social reform, is of interest and importance not only to those professionally concerned and interested in betting and gaming, but also to the very large number of citizens who take no great interest in betting and gaming but are concerned with the general social, ethical and educational standards of our country. They are equally concerned to have their views heard; for example, as to whether it is a good or bad thing that thousands of betting shops should be opened in England.

As the right hon. Gentleman has been good enough to deal with the various provisions of the Bill as it has emerged from the Report stage, I think that it is unnecessary for me to do more than comment on one or two of its major aspects. First. I should like to say a word about Part II, which deals with gaming. When the Bill was introduced on Second Reading, some of my right hon. and hon. Friends were inclined to think that the provisions dealing with gaming were, perhaps, more objectionable than those dealing with betting. As the right hon. Gentleman said, the Bill has been amended in substantial detail in Parts I, II, and III.

At the outset, I had considerable hesitations and reservations about Part II. I shared the view expressed so forcibly on Second Reading by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Newport (Sir F. Soskice) that the provisions concerning gaming were likely to lead to the wholesale introduction of gaming clubs and casinos on a continental scale which, while they may be appropriate on the Continent, would I think he quite inappropriate and objectionable in this country. Having listened to our debates throughout, I think that we would all wish to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary on his courage in having tackled the problem of our gaming laws and in having decided to clear away the whole of the archaic and outdated laws on this subject, laws which were unrealistic, anomalous and unenforceable and consequently led to a great deal of inconvenience and were largely disregarded. I pay my tribute to the reform of the gaming laws.

Speaking for myself, I am satisfied, which I was not originally, that the Bill goes as far as it possibly can to remove the risk that gaming clubs or casinos will be opened in this country for commercial exploitation. The Bill legalises the playing of games of cards and other games for money in which millions of people indulge and from which they take pleasure, and which, broadly speaking, within their limitations, have no harmful results. It would be unfortunate if these revisions of the law were to lead to the commercial exploitation of gaming. As a result of the Amendments which the right hon. Gentleman has accepted, I share his hope that the Bill is now sufficiently strong to prevent the commercial exploitation of gaming while, at the same time, legalising the playing of games of cards for money in private houses, hotels and genuine clubs, to which no sensible objection could be taken.

I cannot, however, share the enthusiasm of the right hon. Gentleman for the provisions of Part I dealing with betting. I mast draw the attention of the House to the fact that very considerable departures have been made from the recommendations of the Royal Commission, and many of the things that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary stressed in recommending the Bill for acceptance on Second Reading have been very radically changed.

Looking back to the Second Reading debate, the House will recall that the Home Secretary was at pains to recommend the provisions in the Bill, notably for the introduction and legalising of betting shops, on the ground that the recommendations of the Royal Commission in paragraph 263, dealing with safeguards and protection, would be observed. If we look at the Bill in its present form, we find that most of those safeguards have now been jettisoned. In its present form, the original Second Schedule is almost unrecognisable as the Schedule recommended on Second Reading. If the House is to give the Bill a Third Reading, it should be aware that it is doing so to a Bill which has been drastically altered from the Bill which was approved on Second Reading.

The Joint Under-Secretary was ingenious when he said that all the Amendments took one of two forms, that some of them were of a liberalising nature and others were of a restricting character. It is difficult to see that they could have been anything but one or the other. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to be trying to get the best of both worlds by claiming credit for every Amendment, either on the ground that it made the Bill a more liberal Measure or, on the contrary, because it made it more restrictionist. The truth is that the safeguards which the Home Secretary stressed so strongly no longer exist.

On 16th November, 1959, the Home Secretary said that The main object is to prevent overcrowding and continuous betting. I observe that there are no longer any provisions in the Bill to prevent overcrowding or continuous betting. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say: The offices may not be used for any other purpose than betting … ".—{OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th November. 1959; Vol. 613. c. 812.] It has now been conceded, largely because of the conditions that exist in the rural areas, that betting offices may be in ordinary shops. It is true that they will be in a different room, but the same building will be used both for the purpose of the village stores and as a betting office. The village housewife will be able to buy her groceries and place her bet at one and the same time. That safeguard, therefore, no longer exists.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. R. A. Butler) indicated dissent.

Mr. Fletcher

The Home Secretary indicates that that is not correct. If, however, he has studied the discussions in Committee, and if he listened to what his right hon. Friend the Joint Undersecretary said about separate access, it will be clear to him that the same building can be used both as a general stores and as a betting office. There will be one entrance to one part and another entrance to another part.

On Second Reading, the Home Secretary also said that people under the age of 18 would not be admitted to betting shops. There has been a welcome improvement in the general position under the Bill concerning young children, but people under the age of 18 may now be engaged not in the front of the betting shop, but behind it, where the clerical work is done. Then, the Home Secretary said that loitering would be forbidden. That safeguard has gone. There is to be no prohibition against loitering either inside or outside a betting shop.

Mr. W. R. Rees-Davies (Isle of Thanet)

If I recollect rightly, the hon. Member himself, together with his hon. Friends, agreed that that was a quite unnecessary and unworkable provision and the Committee as a whole invited the Government to drop it. The Government accepted that invitation and dropped it. Surely that is a matter for congratulation and not criticism.

Mr. Fletcher

I am simply explaining that the Bill to which a Third Reading is being invited is substantially different from that to which a Second Reading was given. The hon. Member had the benefit of being present in Committee, but there are many Members of the House who did not attend the Committee. I am drawing these matters to the attention of the House because it is for the House to decide whether to regard these matters as improvements. Obviously, on Second Reading, the Home Secretary thought that all those safeguards were desirable.

Then, the Home Secretary said that radio and television in betting shops may not be provided. As I understand the Second Schedule, that provision still exists, but there is grave doubt whether it is enforceable. In reply to the interjection by the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet, I remind him of the argument used in Committee, that a great many of these provisions were unenforceable. A great many of us took that view. The Home Secretary cannot claim credit both for introducing the Bill on the basis that it contained a large number of essential safeguards and, at the same time, claim credit for jettisoning all those safeguards on the ground that they are unenforceable. He cannot have it both ways.

There are still, unfortunately, a great many matters concerning the conduct of betting offices that remain obscure, and the Joint Under-Secretary appeared to recognise this during his observations. The chief objection which a number of my hon. Friends feel about betting offices generally is that, although they may serve a purpose in Scotland and the north of England, where they have been in existence, albeit illegally, there has never been any demand for them in London or the south of England. There is no reason to suppose that the betting habits of the people in the South will accommodate themselves to the legalising of betting shops.

Street betting in various forms, whether in the suburbs or at the docks, as described by my hon. Friend the Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish), has always been the pattern of cash betting which the people of London and other parts of the south of England have preferred and enjoyed. The right hon. Gentleman is unduly optimistic in thinking that by legalising betting shops in the south of England, and by increasing the penalties for street betting, he will thereby eradicate street betting. It will create a social revolution to divert the habits of those who participate in cash betting by driving them from the streets into the betting shops.

Over and above that, while, if the Bill is passed, we all hope that it will work, the right hon. Gentleman must realise that in the minds of a great many people there is something unedifying and reprehensible in the fact that a tremendous amount of capital will be sunk in opening thousands and thousands of betting shops in England in circumstances in which there is no evidence that they are required or desired, or that they will cure the social evil which the Home Secretary has in mind. It must inevitably lead to an increase in the volume of betting.

I have the greatest regard for the Home Secretary. In the course of a long Parliamentary career he has been the author of many important legislative reforms. I can hardly think that he will be proud if he goes down in history as the creator of thousands of "Butler's Betting Shops", either with or without advertisements—"Bet while you wait", "No waiting allowed", or perhaps, now, " Waiting allowed. Every possible discomfort guaranteed."

Even now, the Home Secretary has not made up his mind whether he wants these betting shops to be drab, dreary places, or whether he will follow what a number of people think will be the logic of the Bill and succumb to the temptation to fit them up with attractions, inducements and amenities which will make still further inroads in the safeguards which the Royal Commission regarded as indispensable.

I have merely indicated my own views. I know that many of my hon. and right hon. Friends think differently and no doubt they will express their views in the debate. I do not know whether any of my hon. and right hon. Friends will challenge a Division. If they do, for the reasons I have indicated, with regard to Part I and not to Part II, I shall feel obliged to vote against the Bill.

4.31 p.m.

Mr. Ray Mawby (Totnes)

I should like to join with the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) in congratulating my right hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State on the Home Department on the skill with which he has stewarded the Bill throughout all its stages. I was unfortunate or fortunate—whichever the view might be —not to be a member of the Standing Committee, but from reading the reports and listening to my right hon. Friend replying to the different points made on Report, I think it can be said that he has been courteous and helpful in trying to make certain that the views of the House were properly known and that at all times he was trying to see that the Bill was improved as a result of the views expressed at the different stages of the debates upon it. The fact that the hon. Member for Islington, East accused my right hon. Friend of bringing to Third Reading a Bill which had been considerably altered since Second Reading showed how great had been my right hon. Friend's readiness to alter it when he felt on consideration that alteration was really needed.

I have always felt that the basic point of the Bill, and particularly of Part I, was that it would bring about more equality between the man who had a credit account and could put his bet on by telephone and the man who had no credit account and wished to put his odd shilling on a horse in cash. There was a great deal of inequality between those two types of persons. I believe that the Bill at least creates more equality between them. We should accept the fact that both types of people are betting at present, but the man who lifts his telephone, makes a call and puts on a bet is not breaking the law in any way, whereas the other man in carrying out his negotiations with his bookmaker in whatever form, if he does not have a credit account, is breaking the law. I therefore welcome particularly Part I of the Bill.

All sorts of views have been put forward about the betting office. The hon. Member for Islington, East made the point that as the Bill stands it is possible for a betting office to form part of some building, for example, a grocer's shop. In these days that is one of those things that will inevitably happen. The only buildings which still appear in their own regal splendour are the public conveniences in our towns and cities. I cannot think of any other building that carries on just one item of business and does not form part of premises where other forms of business are carried out. To think that we can lay down that the street bookmaker must erect a building which would be completely on its own and separate from any other form of business is to hope for too much.

In many cases no new buildings will be taken up to form a betting office. The office at present run by the bookmaker unlawfully will be ideal premises for the new betting office. I hope that I am not telling any tales out of school, but I have been in a number of these betting offices. They were certainly not in the North but further south, and the business carried on there was the sort of business now envisaged in the Bill. My right hon. Friend or his advisers must have had the opportunity of visiting similar premises.

I believe, therefore, that in many cases the present premises operated by the bookmaker only as a sort of centre to which his runners bring bets and from which they take away the winnings will be used as betting offices. In future, when the premises become a betting office in the true sense of the word, very much the same procedure will be carried out. I do not think there will be a great rush of people who up to now have put their bet on with the factory runner or with the milkman who will say, "Where is the nearest betting office, Charlie? I shall not be putting the bet on with you. I shall be going to the office myself." As many of my trade union colleagues already do, they will continue to give their contribution to the runner and the office will still continue to be a communication centre to which these runners will go.

I was interested in the point which my right hon. Friend made about the position of the runner. He said that the runner was O.K. under the present law until he became stationary. I am pleased that the matter is now clear and that he will be in a legal position whether he is stationary or mobile. I have met a large number of runners in factories. In many cases I would have said that "runner" was the wrong word to use to describe their normal activities. I am glad, therefore, that in future it will not be illegal for them to remain stationary.

The point which my right hon. Friend made to the effect that there are now five channels through which people can put their bets if they so desire should surely be sufficient answer to those who still believe that all that was necessary to do was to license the bookmaker. It is right and proper that regard should be paid to the views of those people who take offence at seeing things in the street to which they object very strongly. We should make certain, therefore, that if betting is to continue the last place in which it should take place is in the street, and that those to whom it gives great offence should at least be protected from that. I hope, therefore, that when the Bill becomes an Act we shall be able to rely on the fact that street betting as such will be at an end. The fact that alternative methods will be available will give the police far more incentive to try to make certain that this particular nuisance —and nuisance it can be—is taken off the streets.

I spoke about the gaming aspects on Report stage, and I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has agreed to look again at games such as dominoes. It is extremely important that we should at least have the law in a position in which every one understands it, and not have to have this considerable argument as to whether, legally, games such as dominoes or cribbage are games of skill or chance. I am glad my right hon. Friend has made it clear that in his view they include a combination of the two. Chance comes first in drawing the cards or dominoes, but from then on a great deal of skill is needed.

I also made a reference on Report to young people. We have brought about a compromise. We have tended to moderate the Bill in the same way as we hope that people generally will moderate their activities in betting or gaming, and have made certain that the last word will still be with the parent or guardian and that the law will be there to back up his right to exercise the control he thinks necessary over young people until they reach the age of discretion.

It will now be possible for a family, if it wants to play a game with a few pennies as side stakes, to do so not only in a dwelling house but also in certain other circumstances, provided that the parent or guardian is willing and also that he is present while the game is in progress.

In general, I believe that while the Bill is not perfect—I cannot recall a Bill that was—it is, as a result of the very long discussions, particularly with the understanding and courtesy shown by my right hon. Friend the Joint Undersecretary of State, better than it was when it came to us on Second Reading. It will at least more clearly state the law and bring into greater equality the different sections of the community who want to have their bets in their own fashion.

4.45 p.m.

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

In opening this debate, the Under-Secretary of State reminded the House that already 88 hours have been spent on the Bill. This House ought to be ashamed to have it on record that such a colossal amount of time has been wasted on a Bill of this nature. It is frequently said that we have our priorities wrong. In 1960, on the eve of a Summit Conference, the time of this House and of its Members could have been spent in so many better ways to help to improve the lot of the people. This Bill will have just the adverse effect.

The right hon. Gentleman also said that it is not the intention of the Bill to encourage an increase in gambling. That may not be the intention, but it is precisely what the Bill will do. It will encourage an increase in gambling because it will make it easier for all sections of the community, including young folk, to indulge in it. There will be legal ways by which anybody will be able to place a bet. This can only encourage more gambling.

It is not my intention to make a long speech of protest. Far too much time has already been spent on the Bill. I have already protested twice against the Bill and, as a Nonconformist and member of the Methodist Church, I can do no less than register a third protest. This time I intend to do more, because I hope that we shall have a division, when I shall vote against the Bill.

Mr. Denys Bullard (King's Lynn)

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will allow me to interrupt, as I represented his constituency for several years. Is it not a fact that the Labour Party in his division finances itself very largely by a football pool? If that is the case, should he not begin by declaring himself against that measure at home?

Mr. Hilton

I am the Member for Norfolk, South-West. I represent the Labour Party, but I am not the Labour Party, and I should hate to be. I am speaking against this Bill. Had the hon. Member not interjected, I would by now have finished.

Mr. Rees-Davies

The hon. Member would not be here at all if it were not for the support which his party gave him and for the financial support of his worthy supporters, all of whom want to indulge in a little betting.

Mr. Hilton

That may be the hon. Member's opinion, but it is not mine. I am not the Labour Party; I am the representative of it. We start our proceedings at 2.30 p.m. each day with Prayers, and I should like more Members to familiarise themselves with the prayer with which we open. From time to time I also read another book, a copy of which I see sometimes on the Speaker's Table. I have read, and on occasion have spoken from, in other places, a quotation which says that we should not do … any thing whereby thy brother stumbleith … This Bill will help many weaker brethren and sisters to stumble. For that reason, I once again register my protest against it, and I shall vote against it.

4.50 p.m.

Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth (Hendon, South)

The hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. Fletcher) complained about the changes that have been made in the Bill. I stand astonished at our moderation in Committee. Never did a Minister more invite criticism than my right hon. Friend—and never have I known a Minister to give such sincere and anxious consideration to the criticisms made. No point has been raised which he has not honestly considered, and if he has rejected it he has done so because he is satisfied that it is wrong in principle or, more probably that it will not work.

The main lines of the Bill remain unaltered. There has never been any question about the gaming part of it. It never received much attention during the Second Reading debate, and no large issue was raised on it in Committee. This is because people nowadays take a more liberal view of these matters. I do not mean to imply that more gambling is indulged in now, or that there is a greater desire to gamble; in fact, I would say that less gambling takes place now than formerly. Other recreations compete with gambling and, on the whole, people are less anxious to pass their time and to raise their pulse rates by this form of indulgence.

The public now takes the view that if people wish to gamble for money, by playing cards, or what you will, it is reasonable that they should do so, and that it would be wrong to interfere with their liberty to do so. For that reason, in spite of what the hon. Member for Norfolk, South-West (Mr. Hilton) has said, even that section of the public which does not wish to gamble feels that the kind of provisions contained in this Measure are about right, in that they allow people to do what they wish to do without interfering with other interests. Many of the greatest minds have found their best relaxation in a simple game of cards, and it would be quite wrong for us to stop people from relaxing in that way or in similar ways. I am glad that the Bill provides additional facilities of this kind, because I am certain that they will not be abused.

So much for Part II. The position is quite different in regard to Part I, which deals with betting. Here large issues are raised. They are not issues of principle or conscience; they are simply practical issues. If we are to deal with the question of illegal betting we have to decide whether to do so by allowing facilities to be provided in the streets or by way of specified betting offices, as they are called. That has been the issue upon which we have spent most of our time.

I dislike betting offices. I always have, and I think that I always shall. I dislike them for various reasons. The principal one is probably based on aesthetics, as my right hon. Friend was kind enough to suggest. Secondly, I believe that street betting will be very difficult to eradicate. It may not be difficult in some parts of the country, but in those parts where it is still the main form of off-the-course cash betting it will be very difficult to bring about a change in people's habits. Holding those views, I said during the Second Reading debate that I thought that the Bill was wrong in principle in this respect.

To some extent, I have changed my opinion. First, during the course of our discussions in Committee a great deal of evidence was brought to bear by hon. Members from various parts of the country showing how widely betting offices or betting shops were already established. I then came to the conclusion, as many other hon. Members must have done, that what we felt about the difficulty of eradicating street betting was equally applicable to the eradication of betting shops in areas where they had become established. We therefore had to agree that betting shops would have to be legalised if we were to tackle the problem at all.

Secondly, certain modifications have been made in the Bill. Its fundamental lines have not been altered, but substantial alterations have been made, wholly to the good. The two main points which have moved me are: first, the clarification of the position of the factory runner; and, secondly, the modification of the rules for licensed betting offices. Those changes have been for the good, and they will make the Bill more workable.

Mr. J. T. Price (Westhoughton)

The hon. Member says that these changes have been generally to the good. Does he suggest that the changes made in Committee, against the advice of the Royal Commission and against the first inclinations of the Minister—to make continuous betting possible—are to the good? During the Second Reading debate it was impossible to envisage betting shops being opened indefinitely so that people could lounge about and bet, but it is now possible for them to do so. I would say that the Bill has been much weakened in Committee.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

I do not think that the hon. Member could have followed the earlier part of my speech. I believe that the Royal Commission was wrong. It is because I take that view that the idea of betting offices was at first objectionable to me. Therefore, I am not very impressed by having the Royal Commission quoted to me. To the extent that the Government have moved away from the views of the Royal Commission I think that they have been wise, and that these changes are improvements.

If we are to have betting offices, the first essential is that they should work. If we object to betting offices simply on grounds of conscience, and do not want them to work, that is another matter. I doubt whether betting offices are the best way of doing the job we want to do, but if we are to have betting offices let us make them as efficient as possible.

I still have doubts about the balance of Part I of the Bill. I am still not certain that the Bill will necessarily work out as well as we hope. I think that the legalisation of all betting shops and the encouragement to establish them—indeed, the necessity to establish them—in those places where they do not already exist will create a large vested interest, and if we find that the Bill is not working out as easily or as smoothly as we would wish, that vested interest will be exceedingly difficult to deal with. It will make future amendment of the law much more difficult.

I view the position with some apprehension because I am not satisfied that the establishment of betting shops will bring to an end illegal betting. As I have said, I hope that it will. We have put our money on legal betting shops. We hope that they will win, and we will do all we can to make them do so.

The aspect of the Bill about which I am doubtful is not so much whether it will not be possible to drive street betting off the pavements—I think it may be with the increased penalties and the provision of shops—but that there will be a great deal of betting in public houses. I think that it will be much more difficult to drive illegal betting out of public houses and places of that kind which are not catered for in the Bill. However, we have to hope for the best.

The Committee upstairs and the House here have made up their minds that they are against any form of legalised street betting, and are in favour or the betting shop. I am certain that if there had been no Whips on at any stage of the discussions the same position would have been reached both in Committee and in the House. From what I have heard on the Floor of the House, and from discussions with my hon. Friends, I am sure that opinion is overwhelmingly in favour of the line which the Government have taken. I said on Second Reading that I thought that the Government must take responsibility for a Measure such as this and that they were right to put on the Whips. Feeling that, and having said that, I thought that it was my duty to support the Government even on those occasions when, to the best of my ability, I argued against some of the things that the Government were doing. Apart from their power to put on the Whips, I am sure that the Government have the support of an overwhelming number of hon. Members and of the country.

If the Government can maintain that support they will go a long way towards making the Bill a success, because it will succeed only if it has public opinion behind it. For that reason I hope that hon. Members on both sides of the House will do their best to give it that support, and that it will get an unopposed Third Reading this afternoon.

5.4 p.m.

Mr. James McInnes (Glasgow, Central)

I definitely and honestly hold the view that no Government can suppress betting and gaming. Therefore, one is confronted with the question, what is the alternative? I have come to the conclusion that if one cannot suppress the evils of gambling the only alternative is to try to control it. To that extent I have, with one or two exceptions, supported the Government during the progress of the Bill, because I believe that this is a serious attempt to control and to eliminate the evils, the anomalies and the archaic laws that exist at present in relation to this great social problem. I therefore find myself on the side of the Government.

I may have been influenced in that support by the fact that the Bill seeks to legalise in England what is the existing pattern of betting in Scotland. Indeed, during the Committee stage of the Bill it appeared that that pattern existed not only in Scotland but in most of the North of England, and, if I understood the hon. Member for Totnes (Mr. Mawby) correctly, he seemed to imply that betting offices existed further south. I was therefore content and happy to find that the Government were legalising the betting shop system which we had for at least ten years.

I appreciate that the Bill will alter the pattern of betting in England. Street betting will no longer be legal, and England will have to adopt the system of betting shops that we have in Scotland. I do not bet or gamble, but my experience during thirty years in public life in the City of Glasgow leads me to believe that over the last ten years the betting shop has been a vast improvement on the system of street book-making. As I explained in Committee, there may be peculiar reasons for that in Scotland, for instance, by virtue of the type of residential properties that we have. The betting shop is tidier. It is more easily controlled, and it is a more enlightened way of betting.

Unfortunately I was on the Continent when the question of runners was discussed in Committee. I was assured by the Scottish Starting Price Bookmakers Association in Scotland that bookmakers who occupy shop premises do not find it necessary to employ runners. I wrote to the association for confirmation, and I was categorically assured that there was no necessity for runners when one was operating the betting system from shop premises as distinct from being a street bookmaker. I do not know how the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland will view this problem— whether he will confirm or try to deny the statement made to me that there is no need for runners.

There is one aspect of the Bill on which I found myself in violent conflict with the Government, and that is regarding the placing on the local licensing authority of the responsibility for the issuing of bookmakers' and agency permits, betting shop licences and things of that kind. As the Joint Under-Secretary well realises, I have appealed to him to reconsider that matter and to take it entirely out of hands of the local licensing authorities.

As far as Part II of the Bill is concerned, which deals with the question of gaming, I, like my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East (Mr. Fletcher), think that what we have accomplished there is exceedingly good, inasmuch as we have swept away the archaic laws which have existed hitherto.

Finally, I wish to pay a tribute to the Joint Under-Secretary of State not only for the very efficient manner in which he dealt with the Scottish aspects of the Bill, but also for the co-operation which he displayed towards Scottish Members during the Committee stage and for his very helpful manner generally. To that extent, I should like to place on record my appreciation of his work in connection with the Bill.

5.12 p.m.

Mr. W. R. Rees-Davies (Isle of Thanet)

I wish to express the same sentiments to the Government, and, indeed, to all the Ministers who at different times have intervened in our discussions to deal with different parts of this complex Measure, as those expressed by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Central (Mr. McInnes). I thank them for the very liberal-minded attitude which they have shown and for the trouble they have taken to get a grasp of a very difficult subject. Particularly do I wish to thank my right hon. Friend who, because he had no particular knowledge of this subject at the outset, had really to make very detailed excursions up and down the country in order to obtain the knowledge which he has since shown.

I suppose that no one could be more diametrically opposed than I to the views expressed by the hon. Member for Norfolk, South-West (Mr. Hilton). He said today that we ought to be discussing the Summit and that the House ought not to devote its time to such matters as gaming and betting. He really got my hackles up. I believe that it is the duty of Parliament, and one of the greatest duties and privileges of Parliament, to try to look after the ordinary interests of the ordinary people of the country in their day-to-day activities.

I have been associated, and intend to remain associated over the next few years at least of my Parliamentary life, in doing precisely this sort of task.

Mr. Hilton rose

Mr. Rees-Davies

I will give way to the hon. Gentleman in a moment, of course.

Therefore, I believe that one of the greatest matters to be dealt with is what is known as the rule of law. We have the Tribunals and Inquiries Act, and I was proud to be closely associated with the Street Offences Act and with the Measure relating to murder.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Gordon Touche)

I would remind the hon. Gentleman that we are on the Third Reading of the Bill.

Mr. Rees-Davies

Yes, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. The point which I am making is that the pattern of this Bill is directly in line with those Measures. What I am saying is that in dealing with this matter today and in getting rid of Victoriana, the House is showing a truly democratic approach, a progressive approach, to legislation.

The Sixth Schedule, at which we have not looked, deals with the repeal of the whole of the Unlawful Games Act, 1541. My answer to the criticisms levelled by the hon. Member for Norfolk, South-West is that in my opinion we are spending our time in the best possible way by dealing with what affects the daily lives of the people. Betting and gaming are undoubtedly two of their principal if unlawful occupations.

Mr. Hilton

I am grateful to the hon. Member for giving way. I am sorry if I got his hackles up, but may I repeat what I said? I said that I consider that this House should be ashamed to spend some 88 hours, plus today, on a Bill such as this, a Bill which in my opinion is going to bring misery to still more people and to push still more people downhill, when there are so many decent things which we could do to help people on the eve of the Summit Conference.

Mr. Rees-Davies

I agree that that is what the hon. Gentleman said before. Alice in Wonderland said that what one says three times is true, but I am not sure that it is true of the hon. Gentleman.

Curiously enough, the one part of the Bill which we have not discussed, although it is one of great importance, is the Sixth Schedule. One matter to which I wish to draw my right hon. Friend's attention is that I am not at all sure that before the Bill goes through another place he may not have carefully to reconsider it in order to see that he has not left some outmoded legislation on the stocks by mistake.

I observe that although we have spent some 88 hours on the Bill, Section 1 of the Gaming Act, 1710, is still standing although the rest of that Act is repealed. I am glad to see that Henry VIII has gone out of the window, or will do so when this Bill becomes law. No Government in the history of this country has ever had the guts—that is really the word to use—to attempt to deal with the gaming laws of the country. There are two reasons for this. One is that Governments were always terrified of the Baptists. They always felt that the Church's view would be against it. I take the view that today a very large number of God-fearing and church-going people do not take the view which was taken in the Victorian age and earlier, namely, that we ought to keep thoroughly bad and incomprehensible legislation and unenforceable laws in being because to alter them would be to make things worse.

The Bill does five things. It does them in accordance with a pattern of legislation which has emerged from this Government, and which will emerge in the future, in connection with the licensing laws, the shop laws and the Sunday observance laws. It is only when the whole of this legislation is seen in one system that one will see what it is that this Conservative Government are aiming to do. They are aiming to deal gradually year by year with the reform of the whole of what I call the Victorian social legislation.

The first of the five things which the Bill will do will, I am sure, commend itself to hon. Member opposite as it does to hon. Members on this side of the House. It will end the class distinction in regard to betting and gaming. There is a very great deal of class distinction in betting and gaming. It is a well-known fact—I am sorry that the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) is not in his usual place—that many people who bet normally do so over the telephone. The working-class man does not. He does his betting either in the street or in the betting office. Therefore, one way or another, the Bill will provide him with facilities to bet on equality with others.

We find that many of the people raided were small clubs, taxi drivers and people of that kind who very often pleaded guilty because they did not know the law, whereas those who had money were able to brief counsel and solicitor to appear for them in cases where they could cite the archaic, stupid laws in order to secure their acquittal.

The second thing which the Bill will do, and this is perhaps the most important of all, is to provide us with a law which is enforceable, on which there will be clarity and for which there will also be respect. The Bill will make it possible for the police to enforce the law without fear or favour instead of, as at the moment, chief constables and their officers having to decide in their own discretion whether to enforce the law or not.

The third is with regard to a system. I think it essential, if one is to be able to do anything for the benefit of horse racing and betting generally, that we should get some levy and a reasonable system of betting in this country. One of the reasons—although the other two which I have already adumbrated are also reasons—why I believe we should have betting offices is that once the system becomes part of the tradition of betting in this country the bookmaker will become a respected citizen. To my mind, that is fundamental in this Bill and is what I have fought for.

Bookmakers will become good trade unionists, which is something that hop. Gentlemen opposite cannot complain about. The Bookmakers' Protection Association, not a very important body at the moment, will become very important. When a bookmaker becomes licensed he will have something of value like the publican. When he obtains a licence and knows that he has a good and a sound business, he will make sure that there is no disorderly behaviour on the betting office premises and that people do not sit around or loiter in the offices. If he does not, my right hon. Friend, by virtue of retaining the regulations in the Second Schedule, has given himself a get-out. That was a very astute move. I am not sure that it was foreseen by the House. I did not realise it myself. We are to have a method by which my right hon. Friend can operate and a method by which my hon. Friend the Member for North Fylde (Mr. Stanley) and others who are interested in the Peppiatt Committee's Report will be able to secure a levy for the benefit of racing. If hon. Members believe, as I do, that it is for the benefit of horse racing that there should be some levy from the bookmaker as well as from the totalisator, we have to find a system with which to achieve that. We could not do it if we had street bookmakers. It may be done only through a system of licences and betting offices, and the method to be adopted will provide that.

We have had an undertaking from my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary that there will be a closing hour at 6.30 p.m., and I think there ought to be. Opening hours do not seem to be necessary. What is open to the Government is the important question which was raised by Mr. Curling in a letter he wrote in the Daily Telegraph, that in the racing world there are two views. One is that betting offices should close during racing hours and that people should put on their bets previously. The other view is that betting offices should be open throughout the hours of racing. At the outset of the Committee stage proceedings I said to my right hon. Friend, both during the debates and otherwise—one had many opportunities for discussing this matter—that it seemed to me the fundamental issue was whether we were to have the betting offices closed during the hours of racing or open. After anxious thought I came to the conclusion that it would be better if the betting offices were open.

If it turns out that this is unsatisfactory, there exists power under the Second Schedule, by regulations which may be made, to reverse that policy without having to come back to this House for new legislation. For that reason I supported the proposal yesterday that it should be done in this way although we shall start with the premises being open in the afternoon.

The whole question of gaming under Part II of the Bill is a very difficult and complex matter to think out and put down in writing, as those of us who have tried to do so have found out. It is essential to achieve two objectives. The first is to prevent people from promoting gaming for their own profit, and that objective has been achieved by the provisions contained in this Bill. The second is to enable people to play games of chance, or chance and skill combined, in their own homes or in clubs or elsewhere provided they do not occasion harm to others or that their activities do not lead to an unduly excessive amount of gambling. This second objective has been substantially achieved, but there are one or two matters about which I am still not altogether happy.

I expressed strong views regarding gaming and youth and about the position of a parent or guardian. But the Government are against me on this and have reached a compromise. I hope that they will see, with those people who are representative of the camps to be found up and down the country—Warner's, Butlin's and so on—that the general pleasures of today can, in one way or another, be provided within the provisions of this Bill; or by securing an Amendment to the Small Lotteries and Gaming Act, 1956, which might be another way to enable normal camp activities to be carried on such as we find at the seaside. I do not believe there would be any insuperable obstacle to that. It would enable a family to play a game of housey-housey without having to send those under 18 out of the room. That is one criticism which I think can still be made, if we are trying to have gaming available to all who wish to game, provided that the gaming is not being conducted for profit.

The final matter with which I wish to deal is the question of amusements and fun fairs. A great many hon. Members are not concerned with this, but in the Isle of Thanet I am deeply concerned with the position of amusement and fun fairs. The tourist resorts all-party Committee in this House has had to give this matter careful consideration. These facilities are used by thousands of tourists, including those from overseas, and represent a gigantic industry. It is not only an industry which provides profits for those who happen to run the amusements. Machines have to be made, and up to now we have had to buy machines from America, because the whole business has been held in such contempt and because its legality depended on the decision of chief constables in different areas and whether or not they decided to prosecute. In Margate and Ramsgate there were no prosecutions, but in Scarborough and Blackpool there were. The various associations and those concerned with this industry were in the gravest difficulty. They could not invent new machines or have them made in this country to be exported to other countries because they did not know whether police permission would be given. Consequently, we have had to buy machines from America.

Now it will be possible for machines to be made and invented in this country and exported to other countries. Many such machines are purely for amusement; there is hardly any gaming element attached to a great many of them. This will enable the people concerned to "become respectable", to work within the terms of the law and to receive advice if they need it. It will enable them to operate without having to look over their shoulders all the time to see whether the police are there, although, of course, they have always been on good terms with the police—they have to be, otherwise they could not have operated at all.

My right hon. Friend has made a number of changes in Part III of the Bill in order to meet the views which were expressed during the Committee stage proceedings. He has done his best to try to see that reasonable machines may be used in a reasonable way. I think that yesterday he may well have been right to say that these machines ought to be confined to "pubs" or halls and not for there to be such a very wide general user throughout the country as might be occasioned if we encouraged the use of small gaming machines elsewhere. I should like my right hon. Friend to consider to what extent he might widen this provision and the type of machine which could be used, particularly where it is a machine requiring skill to operate.

By and large, the many hours which we have spent together on this Bill have not only provided a remarkable education for all of us during that period, but have done a great deal towards educating a great part of the country, and many of the Churches and other people with no appreciation of what goes on in betting offices, in the street betting world, and things of that kind, to realise, as we are bound to do, although people may not talk about it, that two-thirds of the people of the entire country have a bet one way or another most days of their lives, and that it is about time that Parliament tried to put this gigantic business, with all its complexities, in order.

While we may not have achieved perfection, we have gone a long way towards improving the Bill, and this is largely due to the tolerant, kindly, lucid and able way in which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, and also my right hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary, and the other Joint Under-Secretaries for that matter, have worked together on this Bill as a team to try to make it the best possible Bill.

5.31 p.m.

Mr. Ede (South Shields)

I voted against this Bill on Second Reading because I believed it was a bad Bill. It is now a worse Bill. Therefore, if there is a Division on Third Reading, I shall vote against it again.

I join in the tributes that have been paid to the Minister; but, after all, they only mean that he is a gentleman, even when he is discharging the duties of his office. I have never dissented from that view, but I do not share in the eulogies that have been paid by the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies), because I do not think that the way in which the right hon. Gentleman the Joint Under-Secretary allowed certain hon. Members on the other side of the Committee to wreck the Second Schedule of the Bill was anything that a responsible Minister should have allowed. In my view, the right hon. Gentleman there allowed himself to yield to pressure that should have been resisted, and, after what the hon. Member for Hendon, South (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth) has told us about his own views on the Bill and the way in which he consistently conformed with the views of the right hon. Gentleman, when expressed in the various stages of the Bill, it is quite clear that he would have been in no danger at all had he insisted on the Second Schedule going through in the light of the arguments used in its favour by the Home Secretary on Second Reading.

Mr. Vosper

I formed my opinion that the Second Schedule should be amended very early on; in fact, before my hon. Friends put down any Amendments.

Mr. Ede

I am not at all sure that that is not worse. I hope that those hon. Gentleman will realise that all the tributes which he paid to their method of dealing with the Bill were really quite unmeaning, because whether they had spoken or not, if they had not done it, he would have put down the Amendments. I wonder what he would have done if they had not pressed him, in spite of his own view.

I want to thank the right hon. Gentleman for what he said about me and the reform of the First Schedule, because the First Schedule as drafted showed no conception of the way in which the provisions would have to be administered. I regret that the administration of the Bill will be in the hands of the Home Office, because, when I was there, my wife said to me, after she had had a conversation with the Permanent Undersecretary, "Do you know that the Permanent Under-Secretary has never been to the Derby? You ought to invite him." I did, and I saw that he obtained some knowledge of the way in which ordinary people approach this subject. I regret that the notes which he must have made after that experience appear to have been lost and were therefore not available to the right hon. Gentleman when he drafted the First Schedule. I hope that the First Schedule will now provide a workable means of getting the betting shops into operation. I think the right hon. Gentleman is far too optimistic about the length of time the process will take, but I sincerely wish success to those who have to undertake it.

I gather that the right hon. Gentleman said towards the close of his speech this afternoon that there were now only two outstanding matters which remain for consideration. Is that a warning to a certain bench in the Upper House that they are not to express their views about some of the proposals in this Bill?

Mr. Vosper

I said that there were three specific outstanding matters to which we are giving consideration-advertising, dominoes and associated games and the increased penalties for street betting—but that does not deter our noble Friends from adding their further considerations.

Mr. Ede

I am sure that the Bench of Bishops will be relieved to hear that.

I want to deal now with something which I regard very seriously, and that is the way in which the Amendments made in regard to factory runners have wrecked the Home Secretary's views with regard to keeping youth away from actual betting operations. I know that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) disagrees both with the Home Secretary and myself on this matter, but as he usually disagrees with most of us on nearly everything, that is not surprising. Whereas legalised street bookmaking would have been under observation, legalised betting with and by the factory runner in the factory will not be under observation. When the Small Lotteries and Gaming Bill was going through the House and there was some question about the age that should be mentioned, I suggested the age of 16 in the belief that before very long 16 will be the school-leaving age. When a young person gets away from school and into a factory, office, or other place where he has to mix with other people, he desires, at first particularly, to assume all the rights, as he regards them, of the workers with whom he is associating.

On that Bill, I suggested, and the suggestion was finally incorporated in the Act, that the age of 16 was fixed because that would mean that the young person going out into the world would not have, as almost his first experience, the discovery that there were ways of dodging the law by acting in association with other people. If the right hon. Gentleman is to try to enforce the age of 18 elsewhere, he will find it very difficult to enforce it when betting takes place legally within the factory. I know that the right hon. Gentleman himself confessed, at the time that he accepted the factory runner, that that would be one of the difficulties.

I do not want to see the common informer among adults in a factory, holding strong views against gambling and informing the police that illegalities are being committed, some scheme then being arranged between the informer and the police whereby such a breach can be detected and followed by a prosecution. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman would agree that that would be a very undesirable effect of the Amendment which he has made. I hope that some way will be found to deal with it other than what now appear to be the only obvious ways of handling it.

Now we come to the milkman who has suddenly been provided with a new source of income. The manager of a large depot of United Dairies has said that after considering the Bill he thinks that it might be possible in future to get an applicant for employment as a milk roundsman to be willing to pay a fee for the privilege in view of the opportunities which are to be afforded to followers of that useful and essential occupation by these provisions.

Mr. Simon Wingfleld Digby (Dorset, West)

Surely that is a good thing. The right hon. Gentleman must be aware that in rural areas deliveries of milk and other things are becoming increasingly difficult.

Mr. Ede

I do not think that it is a good thing. These ways of trying to evade what the right hon. Gentleman has done are not good things. As the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet has said, we want a Bill which is enforceable, and I do not regard these ways of dodging the real purpose of the Bill as suitable for legislation when we are trying to make the law absolutely enforceable.

The hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet gave us what he regarded as the five great benefits of the Bill. I am not greatly concerned with the gaming laws. My experience of them is not very large and has been mainly confined to dealing with the gentlemen who have gone to Epsom Downs trying to make a living and who have invited their fellow-citizens to "spot the lady", "prick the garter", or deal with the "spinning jenny".

I understand that while on Epsom Downs one will still be able to bet and to make a book on the horse races, but it will still be illegal to invite one's fellow-citizens to "spot the lady"—a game of skill if ever there was one. I have been assured by high-ranking police officers that there is always a "lady" being shuffled, but that one can be quite sure that if anyone spots her he is a confederate. The first two or three occasions on which she turns up so obviously in the right place are merely devices to lead other people to think that, not being confederates, they also will have equally good luck.

Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)

As a game of pure skill, would not the lady be made respectable and legalised?

Mr. Ede

I am still open to conviction on that point. I have not heard, in all his claims to fame, that the right hon. Gentleman has legalised that game.

I shall confine myself to the first three point made by the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet. We are told that there will now be five legal ways of betting. There are some people who have liked to bet in a sixth way. Those people mostly belong to a particular section of the community. How can the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet claim that we have got rid of class legislation in this matter all the time that that sixth form is to be illegal and the 'penalties attached to it are to be much higher?

I have always lived in Epsom, but I have never seen a street bookmaker, except in the dock. When I am told that the street bookmaker is a nuisance and that the sight of him offends certain people, I wonder how many of them have ever seen a street bookmaker, particularly when he is operating. It is true that the right hon. Gentleman wanted to see them and that the police officers of London arranged for him to see them operating. Had he gone, without police guidance, into the same streets into which he was taken, I wonder whether he would have seen one of them. Looking as respectable as he does, I wonder whether, if they had seen him, they would have allowed him to see them operating. This is class legislation whether the hon. Member for the Me of Thanet likes it or not.

I am now in the position where I can if I want use all the five methods which the right hon. Gentleman mentioned. Why should I be able to operate in one of those five ways while the person who wants to operate the sixth is denied the right to exercise his legitimate preference as an English citizen? I do not think that the hon. Member can win on his first point.

Now we have the statement by the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet that we have a law of which we can get enforcement. We have laws now of which we could get enforcement if the police wished to operate them. If there is still a strong public feeling in certain places for street bookmaking to operate, can the hon. Member guarantee that the police, who do not now enforce it, will then enforce the law? Was not evidence brought before the Royal Commission to the effect that this was the one thing which got the police "in wrong" with the general public?

Mr. Rees-Davies

There is a direct analogy between the right hon. Gentleman's argument and the argument which he and the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) made when they said the same thing about prostitutes in the streets. We said that we could get them off the streets and that they would not be seen, and we have succeeded in doing that. We have exactly the same situation in this case. We want to get bookmakers off the streets and there will be abundant opportunity elsewhere, and we will not have any trouble.

Mr. Ede

I know what my hon. and learned Friend said about that legislation, but I was very careful not to say anything of the kind. However, I share the views of my hon. and learned Friend in saying that we have not got rid of that evil.

Mr. Rees-Davies

We got them off the streets.

Mr. Ede

If the evil continues elsewhere, I do not think that that is a very great legislative achievement. We might have got them off the streets, but these were people easily visible in the street to ordinary citizens and were to that extent frequently the cause of great annoyance to people of both sexes. I repeat the challenge: who has seen a street bookmaker and who has seen him operating? If we had legalised the street bookmaker, had imposed on him the duty of registration and assigned to him a place where, within a reasonable limit, he could operate, he would have been under observation by the police. People could have seen whether in fact he took bets from young people. I do not want to go further with this because it is not in the Bill. That is one of the reasons why I shall vote against the Bill.

For the third point, the hon. Member said that we can have a uniform system of betting. As a consistent Nonconformist, I object to all uniform ways of doing anything. I always bet on the Tote, but if a friend of mine wishes to bet in a betting shop, let him do it. If he wishes to bet in the street, let him do that and so arrange the matter that you can observe what he is doing and know what kind of business the street bookmaker is carrying on. It is claimed that we are going to make the bookmaker a respectable person. I know the street bookmaker is respected by his clientele, for the reasons I gave in Committee and on Report. If he is not respected by them, his business just vanishes.

The hon. Member said he would be in the same position as the publican. That is what some of us always feared, that we would create a new great vested interest capable of bringing most tremendous pressure to bear on all forms of public authorities and public persons. The House is going to cause the investment, I believe, of large sums of money in a new form of carrying on a business, which in the long run will be able to exert pressures that will not be for the benefit of the community. I accept everything said by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton in Committee when he moved an Amendment dealing with that matter.

The Home Secretary said the other evening on the Report stage that the street was not the place in which to bet. That is a dogmatic statement. No evidence has ever been produced to support that view, nor instances quoted to make me believe that it is a doctrine that ought to be held. If a person wishes to do this and can do it under proper control—enforceable and more likely to be enforced if the thing is done openly than if it is done in the furtive and secretive way it is done at the moment—I believe he should have the opportunity to do it. I deplore the increase in penalties found in the Bill I deplore also the way in which the Jockey Club, of all people, have been led up the garden on this matter, as the hon. Member for North Fylde (Mr. Stanley) explained to us in Committee.

I asked on Second Reading that some provision should be made in regard to the contribution of the trade to the support of horse racing. The hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet says that that will be easier, and I am inclined to agree with him, but I regret that the decision to inquire into it was taken so late that it cannot be included in this Bill. Next Session we shall have to return to this subject and deal with the matter, if the Government are able between now and then to devise a feasible scheme to put before us.

I like seeing horses race. I do not regard it as a profitable spectacle, I never have, but I like to see it. With a large number of my fellow citizens, I like to have my choice and make a declaration, the wisdom of foolishness of which is speedily brought home to me. In a world in which the opportunity of making choices and exercising initiative is becoming more and more difficult for hundreds of thousands of people in this country, that part of this pastime is not to be despised.

During the great depression, when hundreds of thousands of people were unemployed with no chance of exercising any real sense of responsibility, they found in pools an opportunity to assert their individuality and the power of making a choice. The old argument about racing horses being useful for improving the breed of horses has gone. Officers in the Army no longer require chargers and the Artillery does not want horses. It is very difficult in these days to justify the upkeep of large numbers of expensive animals which very soon will be only active counters in a gambling game.

It may very well be that in some time of difficult economic circumstances for this country people may wonder whether the employment of so much labour and so much produce on these animals is really worth while. Those of us who soldiered in the First World War know that it takes far more "bulk" to provide food for horses than for a considerable number of men.

Anything that tends to accentuate class feeling in this particular form of amusement is, I think, a bad thing from the point of view of the amusement. Because this Bill does a great deal to bring this matter still further into the class arena and denies reasonable opportunities to a good many people to participate as they would like in it, I shall vote against the Third Reading.

5.59 p.m.

Mr. Simon Wingfield Digby (Dorset, South)

Like most of those who took part in the proceedings in Standing Committee D, I feel that in a way we are losing an old friend this afternoon, an old friend who has been a little irritating at times. I was sorry to hear the hon. Member for Norfolk, South-West (Mr. Hilton) tell us that we have been wasting our time, because we spent a great deal of time in Committee upstairs reminiscent of what happened over some of the Bills brought in during the 1945 Parliament. Debates on this Bill have been very different from debates on them, in the way in which party co-operation has been possible. There has been a great deal of free thinking and free voting on both sides.

Mr. Paget

Free voting?

Mr. Digby

Well, there were some abstentions on our side of the Committee. There was an analogy, with those debates in that it is very difficult to foresee the consequences of what we have done. I have not got the feeling that we have been presiding over the production of what might be called a classic winner, to use racing parlance, but I believe that we have produced an animal which is rather better than when we started. There I differ from the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede). I feel that the changes in the Bill have been to the good, although it may be that amending legislation will be necessary later. After all, we have been undertaking legislation at its most difficult in trying to deal with the social habits of the country at a time when the law, by common consent, has been ignored.

That leads me to the main point which I wish to make. We should not imagine that there will not continue to be many evasions of the law, even as we leave it. The main motive of the Bill is to canalise off-course cash betting into the betting shops. The question of street betting and whether it should and could be abolished has been discussed in considerable detail. In a sense, we are trying to impose the social habits of the North upon the South, and I, for one, should not like to venture a prophecy how that will work. Much will depend on the betting shops—how many are set up and whether the totalisator itself goes into the betting shop business; and I, for one, very much hope that it will. I am delighted that the Second Schedule, with its rather grandmotherly regulations about the conduct of a betting shop, has been altered. There, again, I regret to find myself in disagreement with the right hon. Member for South Shields.

In the Bill we are trying to change the social habits of the country. It is true that the gap between the social habits and the law has been narrowed by the Bill, but it is important to remember that it has not been eliminated. It may be all right in the North, because we are merely legalising something which has been conducted illegally up to now— the betting shop. It appears that people in the North wish to place their bets in betting shops. The position in the South is rather different. We are trying to get the people in the South to adopt a method of placing their bets which has not found favour up to the present. The man who has been in the habit of placing a casual bet in the South has probably gone to the newsvendor on the corner or into the nearest public house and asked, "Where can I put on my money?" He will not be able to do that legally; it will remain illegal.

We are bound to ask ourselves, will he nevertheless continue to do it? Will the newsvendors on street corners stop acting as bookmakers' runners? Will the public houses refuse all bets in the future? Those are two methods which are prevalent in the South, and I for one doubt very much whether we can abolish them very easily.

We are told that the gentleman who at present places his bet with the news-vendor or the public house should walk about the town looking for a betting shop. It may not be very easy to find one. The Government are still thinking about an Amendment which would prohibit the owner of a betting shop from publishing its whereabouts. We must bear in mind that the smaller country towns are fairly scattered and that it will not be very easy to find a betting shop, even if the punter can be bothered to look for it.

There are other betting habits in the South of England. The milkman acting as a runner has been mentioned. That method of betting will be legal, provided that the milkman remembers not to stand in the street while he is taking a bet. It is all to the good that he will have to be registered. This system will no doubt continue more or less unimpaired. The old-age pensioner who collects bets from house to house will also be permitted to continue, if he does not stand in the street to collect bets and no doubt he will telephone the bets on to the local bookmaker. The problem of the use of a village shop for the placing of bets has not been solved so completely. It is true that if a local punter wishes to go to the village shop he is allowed to do so provided that he goes to a room at the back and provided that he uses a separate door from that leading to the shop. I suppose that the attendant in the shop will be able to go to the room from the back of the shop, but the punter will have to go through a separate door from that leading into the shop. I very much doubt whether that kind of provision will be respected in the country areas. One is left with a picture of unfortunate village constables, who have to look after a number of villages, seeking breathlessly on their bicycles to try to track down all these obvious breaches of the law.

It is very hard to foretell how far these attempts to change the obvious betting habits in the South will work. Everything will depend upon the success of the betting shops, on how many are provided and how wisely they are conducted. We must, however, face one point: although the Government have shown great courage in this matter and my right hon. Friend the Joint Undersecretary of State has been most understanding about it, there are difficulties to which we have not found a complete answer, and we are once again passing legislation which almost certainly will lead to evasions on a bigger or smaller scale.

6.7 p.m.

Dr. Horace King (Southampton, Itchen)

I join in the tribute which the hon. Member for Dorset, West (Mr. Wingfield Digby) paid to the Committee for the hard work which it has done on the Bill. I believe that the country does not realise how much patient work is done in detailed examination of Measures which leave the House and are sent upstairs for consideration by hon. Members in Committee.

I am glad to join in that tribute, although I must confess that I was amazed at the description by the hon. Member of what he called the non-party voting which has taken place in the House and in Committee on the Bill. Previously, I have praised Conservative loyalty, but I have never seen it expressed to the extent to which the hon. Member expressed it. In every vote which has taken place on this Measure, the Government Whips have been on, yet the hon. Member regards himself as having been free because occasionally someone has abstained.

Mr. Wingfield Digby

The hon. Member was not present at the Committee meetings upstairs. If he had been, he would know that on a number of occasions criticism of the Government was expressed quite vocally and that there were abstentions and votes against the Government. As a result, the Bill has been considerably amended. The reason there has been much more unanimity on Report is that so many of these difficulties were met in Committee.

Mr. Paget

If my hon. Friend had been in Committee he would further have observed that, one after another, hon. Members opposite spoke in favour of Amendments and then voted against them in obedience to the Whips.

Dr. King

The intervention of the hon. Member for Dorset, West has not corrected a single word I said. He has only refuted a charge which I did not make—that Conservative tyranny could be so great as to prevent hon. Members from expressing opinions.

Mr. Stephen McAdden (Southend, East)

Not only did I move my own Amendments and vote in support of them against the Government, but, in the regrettable absence of the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) through illness, I moved his Amendment for him, too.

Dr. King

I intend to vote against the Third Reading of the Bill, and as that is quite an unusual step to take in the House I feel that I ought to explain my reasons. They have been put very well by my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East (Mr. Fletcher) and by the hon. Member for Hendon, South (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth), to some extent, although he proposes to vote for the Bill.

I want to turn to what I regard as the chief defect of the Bill. As I see it, the Bill proposes to encourage betting by legalising betting offices or betting shops. Betting needs no such encouragement. I am quite certain that in the betting shops we shall create a new, powerful industry. Much capital will be poured into it, and that capital must go out to get business. Betting will, therefore, be encouraged as a result of the legalising of betting shops. At the same time, the Bill is discouraging one form of betting by increasing penalties for betting on the streets.

There was certainly a case—I will deal with it in a moment—for tidying up the law. I am certain that my hon. Friends who are Nonconformist, and particularly my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, South-West (Mr. Hilton) will agree that even if they oppose betting itself, the present state of the laws on betting called for drastic reform. But to encourage and discourage betting in one Measure seems to me quite illogical.

It is obvious that the betting laws needed tidying up. I am sure Chat we are all delighted to see going off the Statute Book, for example, the Unlawful Games Act, 1541, which prohibited all kinds of quite respectable sports and which a docile Parliament slipped through in the reign of Henry VIII in between the Acts it passed legalising his various marriages, divorces and executions.

There are all kinds of indefensible anomalies in the law. The anomalies in the betting law which made thousands and millions of people in England deliberately be law breakers day after day were bad. However, at a time when we are destroying such anomalies, it is fantastic that we should create a new one. It is right that we should end the distinction between the credit bettor and the cash bettor, one of whom was perfectly respectable and one of whom was thoroughly illegal. Yet we are now to discriminate between betting shop gambling and street gambling. When this Bill is passed it will be legal to gamble in a field—provided that some of the horses of which my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) spoke so eloquently are performing—but not in a street.

This interference with social habits is not on any grounds which can be justified morally, legally or rationally. I listened to the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies) with some attention as he developed the five points he claimed we were achieving under the Bill. If we discriminate in this way between street betting and betting office betting, we distinguish between people of the north of England and people of the South. We are saying that a North country habit is one which we are prepared to tolerate, but a habit which exists largely in the South is one which is reprehensible. We are isolating as bad a betting habit which is confined to poorer people. In spite of what the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet said, this still makes a class distinction. It is a class distinction between the betting methods of people, one of which we approve and one of which we are to punish.

Why are we doing this? I listened with interest to the reason given by the hon. Member for Totnes (Mr. Mawby). I did not take down his exact words but I hope that that never paraphrase unfairly. He said that, if betting on the streets causes some people offence, it is good that it should be taken off the streets. He said that the Bill would take betting off the streets and so avoid giving offence to people who are offended by betting. For a long time the world has accused us of being a nation of hypocrites. The hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet said that the Bill gets rid of Victoriana. I suggest that merely to take something which one regards as an offence off the street and tuck it away in a betting shop is a piece of Victoriana in excelsis.

Mr. Mawby

The hon. Member has not misinterpreted what I said, but he has tended to suggest that I thought that it was an offence to bet. All that I said was that the fact that there could be bookmakers on the streets prepared to do business could give offence to certain people who do not believe in gambling. Street bookmakers would be more obtrusive by the very nature of things if they were licensed. At present, they are unobtrusive mainly because they are unlicensed, and so they are illegal.

Dr. King

The hon. Member has expressed the same point, but a little more elaborately than before—that something which he thinks is right and which my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields eulogised, but which some other people in the community think is wrong, can be dealt with fairly by removing it out of the sight of people who are annoyed by it. This is what the Victorians did.

Laws will work only if they command the respect of the British people and if they commend themselves to Britain's sense of justice. The need expressed by the Royal Commissions on betting, and the whole purpose of the laborious work of the Committee and the Home Secretary on the Bill, has been to remedy the position in which many people found that the present state of the law was unjust and, because it was unjust, they were breaking it. If people break one law which they know to be unjust this can lead to breaking laws which are just.

I am shocked to find a parrallel drawn in the debate to what was done about prostitution. I am not certain that we have solved the problem of prostitution by the Street Offences Act. The argument that, because we have driven prostitution off the streets, therefore in the Bill we are seeking to drive betting off the streets is tenable only if the House holds the belief that gambling, like prostitution, is an evil. No hon. Gentleman who has advanced that opinion in this debate holds such a belief. If betting is bad and a sin, it is a sin both in betting offices and in the streets. If betting is good, it is good in betting offices and in the streets.

One of the five points of the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet was that we should have respect for the law. I find it impossible to have respect for a law which makes that distinction, and I am sure that the people whose social habits are being interfered with will have the same lack of respect for a law which they believe to be unjust to them, and will break the new law as they have done the old ones. The hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet said that the Bill will make the bookmaker respectable. It will make only certain kinds of bookmaker respectable. It adds ignominy and increased penalties to one kind of bookmaker merely because of the physical surroundings in which he conducts his business.

In the early stages of the Bill I met the bookmakers of the south of Hampshire. I passed their observations on to my hon. Friends who served on the Committee. I doubt whether I had ever had any previous dealings with bookmakers. The men I met were respectable members of their profession. They shared the desire of the House to clean up the book-making profession. They would welcome anything which would get rid of the evils, crookery and cheating associated with gambling, but they resent— and, I think, resent in the name of justice—an unjust distinction between two kinds of bookmaker which depends almost on geography.

I shall not talk on Third Reading about the morality of betting. I am not a gambler. My right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields amazes me more every day. When he spoke this afternoon of "spotting the lady" and "pricking the garter", I wondered whether he was speaking on the right Bill. Other people's pleasures and vices are their own affair, unless they impinge on the well-being of the community, but I have some sympathy with the portrait that another Butler gave in "Hudibras", of the man who attacked the vices that he had no mind to as a cover up for the vices which he himself was inclined to.

Certainly, one's own lack of interest in gambling could not justify anyone leaving the law in the state in which it was until the Bill came before the House. I welcome those parts of the Bill which place the kind of restriction which I would always want to support, anything which removes the temptation to gamble from our young folk. In so far as this Bill imposes certain age checks on gambling, I welcome it, though I support what my right hon. Friend said about its not going far enough in that direction.

The Third Reading of a betting Bill is an occasion to point out that the sort of encouragement of betting and speculation that the Government, by their other legislation, have given, means that we are trying at present to get by on a philosophy that one can get something for nothing, and that it is right to do so. Britain will certainly not get by in the critical years ahead on such a philosophy. Obviously, we cannot promote a Measure to destroy people's natural interest in gambling, in card playing, in horse racing and the rest when the whole of present society is built on a gamble.

I hope that one day, from the other side of this House, we shall introduce Measures that will remove or curb the element of gambling in land, in property, in finance, and all the rest that makes up the present capitalist society. That is much more important than interfering with the pleasure that people get in gambling. I remain convinced that the Bill contains an injustice as between the street bookmaker and the street gambler and the office bookmaker and the office gambler, and for that reason I shall vote against it.

6.21 p.m.

Mr. A. P. Costain (Folkestone and Hythe)

When I was told that I was to serve on the Standing Committee that was to consider this Bill I was quite certain that I had not been chosen because I was an expert on gambling, and those who noticed my silence in Committee must assume that in my youth I was trained to keep quiet in the presence of those who knew better. But no one could serve on that Committee without learning a great deal about what lay behind the Bill, and about gambling. The hon. Member for Norfolk, South-West (Mr. Hilton) was not quite fair when he said that the House had discussed the Measure for 88 hours, because 80 hours were taken up with our Committee proceedings.

Quite frankly, I consider betting to be a complete mug's game, but that does not mean that we should legislate against those people who want to bet. The argument for or against street book-making is much more simple than has been made out, and I am sorry that it has been brought up as a class issue. I do not see any class issue between having a bet in a betting shop and having a bet in the street.

Throughout our consideration of the Bill I have had two thoughts in my mind. The first was the need to tidy up the law. I think that a lot of the present lawlessness is the result of a lot of quite ridiculous legislation that people have learnt to disrespect. Disrespect for the law gets worse and worse, and I believe that part of the trouble with our youth today is caused by its slipping slowly down the slippery slope. I believe that the Bill will tidy up the law and that by it we will be doing the best we can to stop betting among the young.

I have a fundamental objection to the street bookmaker. The right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) is an expert on the magisterial side, while my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Dayies) is an expert from the barrister's point of view, and both have given a complete picture of the situation. My hon. Friends the Members for Southend, East (Mr. McAdden) and for Southend, West (Mr. Channon) have also given a very clear description of all types of betting—in fact, I began to wonder whether it was anything to do with the mouth of the Thames that made one an expert on betting.

Whilst these street bookmakers are illegal, they are out of sight. The moment we make them legal, it is quite obvious that they will be seen. If they are there to be seen, children will see bets placed with them, and I can think of nothing worse than children asking, "Mummy, what are those people doing?" and learning about it too soon. For that reason, I am delighted that my right hon. Friend has put this business behind doors, has put beating on a cash basis and has done away with the so-called class issue.

My second point also concerns youth, and is my reason for yesterday supporting the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for the City of Chester (Mr. Temple) which had to do with what we call "one-armed bandits" in youth clubs. These gaming machines provide another method by which gambling can easily slip into these clubs. I know of a number of golf clubs and other clubs that are now making themselves pay by the amount of money made out of these "one-armed bandits", and I am delighted that they are to be forbidden in youth clubs.

The Bill also legalises the games of whist and bridge that people enjoy in a sensible way. I know that some of my constituents in Folkestone would be quite alarmed—appalled—to think that they were breaking the law by playing bridge in licensed premises, so I am delighted that the Bill allows that to be done. I would ask my right hon. Friend, who has been so helpful to a new Member, just to clear up one point for me.

On Tuesday we discussed an Amendment dealing with the prohibition of municipal casinos. I should like an assurance that that prohibition does not apply to the playing of cards in municipally-owned rooms. As my right hon. Friend knows, I now refer to the Leas Cliff Hall at Folkestone, a large municipal hall. The fact that it is a licensed premises has stopped the playing of a harmless game of bridge. I shall be delighted to vote for the Bill, in the belief that it will not encourage betting but will encourage better law keeping.

6.27 p.m.

Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)

I confess that I was a little surprised by some of the observations made by the hon. Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Costain). His idea that children would be corrupted by seeing people pass a bet to a street bookmaker seems to underrate the scope of original sin. Children need more than that to corrupt them—I know that I certainly did. As for children seeing betting being done, again searching my own experience and looking back as perhaps one should not, the only examples from which I think I have ever profited are bad ones. How often do we follow the virtuous? But when we see someone really making a mug of himself we decide that that is something not to do.

I am, therefore, very doubtful whether hiding the fact that someone has a bob on a horse from the children until they are grown up and discover it as something grown up and exciting and new, instead of having discovered at an early age poor father's misfortunes when the horse always ran slowly, is perhaps not the most efficient way of discouraging gambling.

Of course, if one took this seriously, one would stop children going to point-to-points or races. At a point-to-point, the place is full of children—it is a lovely children's party. I always take my children, and I think that most other people do. It is a real child's event. The children see the bookmakers there— but we will leave that out because I think that this is really a very trivial aspect of the Bill.

During our proceedings on the Bill we have spent very many hours considering the contradictory and complex muddle of our gambling laws, and with them we have done something that I should previously have thought was quite incredible, if not impossible—we have made them worse. Let us look at this for a moment. The hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies) said that his great commendation of the Bill was that we have made the bookmakers respectable members of society. That may, indeed, be so. I think that we have probably made them powerful members of society. But a society which respects men who are prepared to devote their lives to the utterly sterile and unproductive occupation of taking money for nothing from people who gamble is not a respectable society.

We have created a situation in which people like the pool proprietors and greyhound racing promoters are going to bring in and sterilise great blocks of capital. From the point of view of the productivity of this community, much is going to be wasted by what we are doing today. Great blocks of new sterile capital are going to be devoted to property, bricks and mortar, and manpower in pursuance of this gambling obsession. Of course, this Bill will mean more gambling, and advertising and door-to-door canvassing will be legalised. Is this an improvement in our society?

We are getting a law which is no more enforceable than it was before. We dealt yesterday with the nonsense of trying to prevent children at school from having a card game. We are bringing the law into contempt. But for the street bookmaker the practice is to continue. All we are doing is to raise the level of corruption, just as by sending the girls off the streets we have created the sort of situation which has led to the Pen Club case, by linking crime and strong-arm methods to the promotion of prostitution. We shall have more lawlessness, more crime and more money invested in this sort of activity.

This is a bad Measure which will make our community more unproductive. I shall vote against the Third Reading of the Bill. I have long wished to see our gambling legislation dealt with and replaced by decent gambling laws, and I bitterly regret that this great opportunity has been missed.

6.34 p.m.

Mr. Eric Johnson (Manchester, Blackley)

The hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) referred more than once to the sterile unproductive occupation of taking money for nothing. I wondered what was particularly productive about his own occupation which enables people to wax fat on the follies of human nature.

I support the Bill. I congratulate the Government on their good sense in introducing this Measure. To try to reform the chaotic laws of betting and gaming is something which has never before been undertaken by any Government. Unlike the hon. and learned Gentleman, I think that the Bill has improved the law. There is no doubt that in its present form it is better than it was when it first appeared on 30th October. That is largely due to the way in which hon. Members on both sides of the House co-operated throughout very lengthy discussions which were most useful and, indeed, instructive.

All of us must have learned something. The hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. Fletcher) was kind enough to refer to me as one who had some knowledge of this subject. I freely admit that I know something of it, but I have learned from my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies) the precise difference between baccarat and chemin de fer—a difference of which I had not been fully aware. I have also learned something from which I have since profited, namely, that it is possible to back unnamed favourites each way with Tote Investors Limited. I would commend that thought to other hon. Members.

Our thanks are due to my right hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State for the patient way in which he has listened to these arguments, although he has perhaps not heeded some of them as much as I would have wished. I disagree with those hon. Members who have criticised the Government for their departure from some of the recommendations of the Royal Commission. I do not look on the recommendations of the Royal Commission as being Holy Writ, as I have said before. Those who have said that in altering the Second Schedule we have done wrong are quite mistaken. I believe that we have removed a lot of quite stupid and unworkable restrictions.

The right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) was grateful to my right hon. Friend for thanking him for the contribution that he made on the First Schedule. I admit that he did a great deal to improve it. Perhaps he did not mean to take it this way, but it looked as if he thought the First Schedule was improved because of his own contribution and that the Second Schedule was made very much worse when my right hon. Friend followed his own good sense and listened to the advice of some of the rest of us.

The situation of factory runners is one that I have never liked, although for different reasons from those which have been expressed. The factory is the wrong place for the runner. It would have been much better had my right hon. Friend allowed the practice to continue as it has done up to now, outside the factory gates. For those reasons I have supported those who have felt that we should continue with street betting.

Another suggestion which the Government would not accept was the system of licensing runners. I cannot see how it is more difficult to license thousands of runners than it is to license thousands of dogs or motor cars merely by going to the proper office and paying a fee. Although I have said that I would have liked street betting to continue, I think that the Government are quite right to adopt the system of betting shops. I do not object to that at all. I hope that the betting shops will succeed, and I think they will succeed, given a certain amount of time. Meantime, I believe the Bill will do much to remove the existing absurdities of the present law.

As to the gaming part of the Bill, it will do something to help the licensed trade, although here, again, the Government have not gone quite so far as I would have liked. Perhaps there will be an opportunity on a future occasion to go into the whole subject of the licensing laws a great deal more fully.

My final point, with which, I think, the right hon. Member for South Shields will not entirely agree, is that the Bill will provide a framework for the proposals of the Peppiatt Committee. It will provide a means whereby betting can make a contribution towards horse racing. I do not look on horse racing merely as a sport; I look on it as a great industry. In my view, this contribution, if we get it, will be of great advantage to all engaged in horse racing, whether they be the people who breed horses, the people who own them, the people who train them or the people who look after them in the stables. I believe, also, that it will provide better amenities for the public, on whom racing so largely depends. That the Bill will provide that framework is not the least of my reasons for giving it my wholehearted support.

6.41 p.m.

Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)

It would be churlish if I did not repeat in public my apologies to the right hon. Gentleman for not being present during this debate, but, as he knows, I have two interests. Getting a Bill through is one and Blue Streak is the other. Sometimes, I wonder whether I might get them mixed up and persuade my colleagues on the Tote Board to declare a dividend on Blue Streak. However, at this moment I am sufficiently in charge of my mind to have the two interests completely separated.

I wish, first, to thank the right hon. Gentleman for his kindness during the Committee stage. He faced a very difficult task, for the Government, after a great deal of hesitation, based their Bill upon the Royal Commission's Report, which in many respects was hopelessly out of date. The House will remember that there were four years available to the Government during which time they were making up their mind. In 1956, they declared that they intended to introduce legislation, and I think that it would have been of advantage to use that time to bring the recommendations of the Royal Commission up to date. We might well, I think, have had another Royal Commission, though perhaps one which did not sit so long, to go into the matter afresh.

I have another confession to make. When that first debate took place, I advanced the view that if the House were asked to bring the betting laws up to date, certainly so far as they affected racing, this would probably be a subject more properly dealt with in a Private Member's Bill. However, when the House was forced to face the fact that the disregard of the betting laws worked in such a way as to bring the reputation of the police into discredit, the matter became a task for the Executive, a very urgent task indeed. I should be less than honest if I did not admit, also, that on that occasion I said that I never expected to see the day when any Government, of either party, would have the courage to bring in a Measure. The Government have had the courage to do so, and I congratulate them for it.

I come now to the remarks of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget). No one in the House is held in greater affection. This is, of course, because he is so very English. Enshrined in his character and in what he says is a streak of that essentially English characteristic which one never quite knows to be nonsense or hypocrisy. But, as I am always charitable, in his case I think that it is pure nonsense. In my view, the House ought to give the Bill a Third Reading. It has taken ten years to get as far as this, and though I share with my hon. and learned Friend doubts about the Bill in certain respects, I hope very much—and I know he does— that those doubts are unfounded.

What has happened as regards betting and what concerns the overwhelming majority of our fellow citizens is that a practice which has been allowed to grow up, particularly in Scotland but to some extent in the north of England also, namely, the use of the betting shop, is to be in some measure accepted. The House will note that the betting shops which seem to exist already are not the kind of betting shops which the Government say they envisage in their Bill. They are the betting shops in which continuous betting is allowed, with the "blower" operating, the chalker-upper at work, the radio and the television going, even with light refreshments and all the atmosphere of the betting club. Of course, when the Bill becomes law, these practices ought to cease, and the Government hope that a much more puritanical, more restricted and more orderly betting shop will take root in the South of England.

I do not think that social habits change quite as quickly as the Government think that they will. In my view, the Government would have been wiser to take powers so that, if they were wrong, they could make adjustments by regulation. If they are wrong, the forebodings of my hon. and learned Friend and, indeed, the forebodings of myself and of other hon. Members, on both sides of the House, I think, may be realised in fact, and we may have a situation worse than what we have now.

I come now to something else said by my hon. and learned Friend about the nature of betting. I share with him the view that having a shilling each way, two shillings each way, or, occasionally, more each way or to win, is not a sin. I do not find it in my heart to regard myself as an inferior person on that account. Often, in Committee, hon. Members treated having a bet as if it were something wrong and, putting their hands on their hearts, they said, "Of course, I have never done it. It should not be extended. It is very bad that it should exist, and we must protect the young from it."

I was greatly impressed, as I am sure the House was, by what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, South-West (Mr. Hilton). He told of the severity of his upbringing, which was similar to my own, although, of course, I did not come from a Methodist family because my family were mostly soldiers in the Regular Army and that sort of discipline one did not readily acquire in those circumstances. But I accept what my hon. Friend says and I know exactly what he means. My hon. Friend says that he never gambled. I think he tends to forget that everyone likes to gamble.

I remember a very telling retort made by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) in this connection. Incidentally, I should like to acknowledge the wisdom which my right hon. Friend has shown and the wise guidance which he has given to the House and to the Committee during the passage of the Bill. One of my hon. Friends expressed the moral view and said that he never gambled. Later in his speech he said that something was casting bread upon the waters, to which my right hon. Friend replied, "There is no bigger gamble than that."

To return to my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, South-West, I am sure he will forgive me if I say that I went to him afterwards and asked him if he had ever played marbles. Yes, he had played marbles. I have played marbles. When we played marbles and won, we took the other fellow's marbles. That is a gamble, too. It may be that, for the purposes of this Bill, it is a combination of gamble and skill, but gamble it all is. How many Members who have at all stages of the Bill poured scorn on those who dare to have a bet, go along on Private Member's Day and put their names down in the Ballot?

Mr. Hilton

I am obliged to my hon. Friend for giving way. It is true that I, like all other boys, played marbles. I have played nearly every game there is. I have played them for love of the game, and I have had as much fun out of playing games for love as my hon. Friend has through gambling. I must make it quite clear that it is possible to play any game without having to gamble.

Mr. Wigg

I quite accept what my hon. Friend says, but I was brought up in another school. The only game I play is pontoon, and one cannot play that for love. That is the difficulty. I told the House yesterday of difficulties I ran into early in my military career because I acquired a certain skill at pontoon. If any hon. Member cares to invite me to play with him now, I trust that I have not lost that skill.

Be that as it may, I want to turn now to a very serious point made, quite rightly, by my hon. and learned Friend about the amount of capital tied up in this business. My hon. and learned Friend says that it is non-productive. I thought that the hon. Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. E. Johnson) was not very kind to compare book-making with the legal profession because, after all, some lawyers do something useful sometimes, and my hon. and learned Friend was saying that bookmakers never do.

We must accept human frailty for what it is, and betting is part of people's lives. It lightens the burden of life. During the war, the continuation of racing was essential to the national well-being. I know that the horses had to eat. I know that those who surreptitiously went to race meetings in motor cars ought not to have used the petrol, but the effect on the men in the factories, working long hours under very diffcult conditions, was to make life a little brighter for them by the hope that they had brought off a three-cross double or backed the winner of the 3.30. That is a fact. It is part of the English scene.

I want to see racing put on an absolutely honest basis with the dangers of corruption, whether of the police, the owner, the trainer or the jockey kept to the absolute minimum. I agree with the hon. Member that this is also a business. That is one of the troubles. A few shillings each way for me or my hon. Friends is just fun, but when it reaches its final destination it is not a few shillings but hundreds and thousands of pounds, and in some cases, on big races, it is millions. Betting is now conducted on a world-wide basis. Now, if any hon. Member has an old selling plater and he wants to put something on it to win at 20 to 1, the place to do it is not London but Johannesburg. This is done quite often. This business is international in its scope. It has also an effect on international prestige. When the French win the Derby they are to some extent spitting on Nelson. I personally resent that, quite apart from the fact that I have a prejudice against French horses, but we have to recognise these things.

This is big business conducted on a very large scale indeed from which we all of us receive some advantage. A great deal of it is unproductive. Like so many other things, it becomes utterly wrong if abused. If a considerable section of the population spent all their time in amusement arcades or in betting shops, betting on a continuous basis, that would produce a very great social evil.

The Bill is not at all that I would like it to be, but I think that it takes a step forward. I should like the hon. Gentleman, when he replies to the debate, to give the House this final assurance. The House has accepted his advice, often against the better judgment of hon. Members opposite. If, after a year or two, it is found that the forebodings of some of us about the way it works are justified, and assuming that the party opposite is still in office, would the representatives of the Government give an undertaking to keep the situation under review and then come back to the House of Commons, if necessary, not to say that they have been wrong but to bring the Bill up to date? It would be absolutely fatal if this Measure were found not to work and another ten years or so elapsed before anything was done about it. Provided that this is regarded as an experiment, we can all wish it well, and if the experiment does not work we must have another go.

6.55 p.m.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Niall Macpherson)

I thank the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg), and I am glad to have this opportunity of doing so, for the welcome he has given to the Bill. He ended by asking for an assurance that the progress of the Bill, once it becomes law, will be watched. Our laws are not the laws of the Medes and Persians that change not. We are busily engaged with legislation and amending legislation over a large part of the year. I can assure him that the progress of this legislation will be carefully watched.

Some hon. Members have complained that there was no legislation about it. Today we have had a complaint that the House has spent so much time on this Bill when it should have occupied all its time with international problems. By any standards this is a major Bill. A Bill which concerns the habits of many millions of citizens and which affects the livelihoods of many thousands of bookmakers and deals with the manner in which hundreds of millions of pounds will change hands each year is an important Bill. It has been treated as an important Bill in the House.

We have had a two-day debate on Second Reading, twenty-five sittings in Committee, the report of which occupies 1,281 columns of HANSARD, and virtually two days debate on Report. Now we are about to conclude the Third Reading. The fundamental difficulty that we have had to deal with is that in the eyes of a large proportion of our fellow citizens the law on betting and gaming no longer commanded respect. It was illogical and discriminatory, and it was being overtly flouted. We have set out to devise a system which will satisfy the reasonable needs of those who wish to gamble without causing offence to those who do not, while providing adequate supervision by the community.

The introduction of a new system is bound to affect different people in different ways. The choice of a system of licensed betting offices has been made for three main reasons. First, because betting offices are relatively easy to control; secondly, because it seems the natural way in which to do betting business and the way in which it would normally and generally have been done had it not been for the legislation restricting cash betting off the course; and lastly because betting in the streets, if it were made legal, could so easily become a nuisance to the public and a danger to the young.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) said that he had never seen a street bookmaker. They are illegal now. What would happen if they ceased to be illegal? Does anyone suggest then that he would never see a street bookmaker? He goes on to say that there is a question of class. What difference is there between going into a shop to register a bet and registering a bet in the street? That argument will not wash. It is natural that those who have been accustomed to earn their livelihood as street bookmakers feel aggrieved that their method of taking bets should not only continue to be illegal but should be more heavily penalised in future, whilst others whose methods were no less and no more illegal are to be allowed to continue to work in much the same way as they are doing at present, provided they receive a betting office licence.

It was right and proper that hon. Members should voice that feeling and should probe the strength of the Government's determination not to legalise street betting and, indeed, to suppress it. But the Government are quite determined about this. A group of Amendments moved by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields on Report which would have legalised the acceptance of written instructions and cash in streets and public places did not obtain much support in the House. That, I think, shows that the Government's attitude commends itself to the House as a whole on this point.

Mr. R. J. Mellish (Bermondsey)

The hon. Gentleman must be fair about this. Do not let it go out from this House that that is exactly how it went. The only reason that the Amendment was not carried in Committee was that the Government applied the Whips. I think that every speech except one favoured the Amendment of my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Macpherson

I think that the Division was five to one or thereabouts on the Amendment. In any case, what is the alternative? There was the right hon. Gentleman's own suggestion. He talked about the creation of a vested interest, but his suggestion was to license street bookmakers. Of course, street bookmakers would also have to be regulated as to numbers so there again that would create a vested interest, but a different vested interest and one much less easy to control.

The hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) wanted to vote against the Bill because it encourages gambling and he is against gambling. He then went on to favour street betting. This did not seem to be entirely logical. He said that if betting is bad then it is bad in the street and in the shop. If betting is not bad then it is not bad either in the street or in the shop. What about liquor licensing? That is something which the House and the country have long accepted. It is a question of where and how one does things. In fact, that is exactly what we are doing in the gaming section of the Bill. We are not making games as such unlawful. We are making games unlawful if they are played in certain circumstances and in certain places.

My hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, West (Mr. Wingfield Digby) complained about imposing the habits of the North on the South. I thought that my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Mr. Mawby) answered him in advance by indicating fairly clearly that there are certain parts in the south where there are betting shops. Of course, that is so. Also, it is not the case that there are no street bookmakers in Scotland. There is a very considerable number of street bookmakers still operating in Scotland. There was a tendency at an earlier stage of the Bill to try to find a different solution to the cash betting problem on each side of the border. I think that the desire to do so was based on the misapprehension that there was no betting on streets or in factories in Scotland and that there were no betting offices in England. That was quickly dissipated, and it was by no means true.

I regard it as one of the best features of the Bill that, broadly speaking, the same law will apply to both betting and gaming throughout Great Britain. An Englishman who likes having a bet and goes to Scotland will not be subjected to petty annoyance or even prosecution through finding a different system working there. The same will apply to a Scotsman who goes to England.

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Central (Mr. McInnes) spoke in the debate. I would like to throw the ball back to him by saying that the Government have greatly appreciated his steadying influence on the Opposition side throughout the Bill. There is one point still outstanding, and we are sorry that we have not been able to meet him on it. It is the point concerning the licensing authority in Scotland. As the hon. Member knows, this is an extremely difficult problem, but we take the view that the duties of the licensing authorities in Scotland are not purely judicial. They are a mixture of judicial and social requirements.

Despite the fact that we recognise the force of the arguments which the hon. Member put forward, we think that it would be a condemnation of our democracy if we could not trust the licensing courts to carry out their functions properly, even though there will be a right of appeal to the sheriff. I cannot believe that the hon. Member has as low a view of our democratic system and of public life in our cities and burghs as that. We must stand by the argument that we have put forward unless there is some further development, as there may be through the Commission which is at present sitting.

My hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies), to whom we are greatly indebted for his help throughout the Bill, asked whether we have repealed everything. The answer is that all the provisions at present on the Statute Book dealing with gaming are to be repealed except, first, the provisions dealing with the enforcement of gaming contracts in the courts, secondly, Sections 10 to 14 of the Gaming Act, 1845, which deal with the licensing of billiard saloons and, thirdly, Section 17 of the Gaming Act, 1845, which deals with cheating. I cannot say whether that covers "spot the lady" or not.

My hon. Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Costain) raised the question of municipal casinos. It is not our intention that the Amendment which we accepted on Thursday concerning casinos should affect the occasional use of municipal premises for gaming such as my hon. Friend had in mind. We shall certainly look at the matter again, as we said on Report, before the next stage of the Bill.

It would be too much to expect that a Bill of this kind would receive either universal or wholehearted support, but let us at least do justice to the spirit in which it has been handled by the House and not least by the Government. The Government have been criticised for maintaining their point of view and for changing it to meet the wishes of the House. That is, perhaps, the liberal approach to which my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet referred and for which he gave us credit, but the Government have shown themselves ready to respond to suggestions for the improvement of the Bill so long as its fundamental principles are not assailed. A kind of statutory registration of bookmakers' agents by their principals has been introduced, the prohibition on loitering has been removed, betting offices are no longer to be of repellant austerity and information for punters is to be available in them, which could not be stopped, and the position of the factory runner clarified.

On the other hand, the safeguards for young persons have been improved, particularly for betting and gaming machines. In the case of gaming, we accepted the new Clause of the hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon). The Amendment of the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. Fletcher), if anything, would have extended the facilities for young people. I thought that the hon. Member for Islington, East was looking for reasons for opposing the Bill rather than having any firm and decided views upon it. He more or less implied that he did not feel strongly enough on the matter to call a Division but that if anyone else did so he would join in.

Despite his helpfulness on many occasions, I thought that that was a slightly ambivalent attitude to the Bill.

Inasmuch as the Bill will enable betting and gaming to be controlled to a far greater extent than at present, I suggest to the House that it ought to command the support of all hon. Members, including even that of the hon. Member for Norfolk. South-West (Mr. Hilton). There has been a lot of loose thinking on these matters. The hon. Member for Norfolk, South-West is entitled to his own personal opinions, but he does not seem to mind benefiting from the result of a lottery, although he is strongly opposed to lotteries. I understand that the constituency party funds which helped the hon. Member to victory at the last election benefit to a very considerable extent from lotteries and that much of them is raised by lotteries. That is an illustration of the loose thinking that we have had on part of the Bill.

Mr. Hilton

I think that the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland was present when I made it clear that I had nothing to do with that lottery. I am the Member for Norfolk, South-West. I am a member of the Labour Party, but I am not the Labour Party.

Mr. Macpherson

The only point that I was making was that if the hon. Member wants to be totally logical he should refuse the support of funds raised in that way.

As the Bill stands, it lays down principles for gaming which have been generally accepted. It frees gaming for pleasure from restriction while banning commercial exploitation. It establishes a system of bookmakers' permits and licences for betting shops. I think that, with the co-operation of hon. Members, we have a workable and much more enforceable Measure, and I commend it to the House.

Question put, That the Bill he now read the Third time:—

The House divided: Ayes 211, Noes 42.

Division No. 81.] AYES [7.10 p.m.
Agnew, Sir Peter Bell, Ronald (S. Bucks) Bossom, Clive
Allason, James Berkeley, Humphry Bourne-Arton, A.
Bacon, Miss Alice Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald (Toxeth) Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S.W.)
Barber, Anthony Biggs-Davison, John Brewis, John
Barter, John Bingham, R. M. Brooman-White, R.
Batsford, Brian Bishop, F. P. Bullard, Denys
Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A.(Saffron Walden) Holt, Arthur Pike, Miss Mervyn
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Hornby, R. P. Pitman, I. J.
Carr, Compton (Barons Court) Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia Pitt, Miss Edith
Channon, H. P. G. Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Pott, Percivall
Chichester-Clark, R. Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives) Powell, J. Enoch
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Howard, John (Southampton, Test) Prentise, R. E.
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John Price, David (Eastleigh)
Cleaver, Leonard Hughes-Young, Michael Prior, J. M. L.
Collard, Richard Hutchison, Michael Clark Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Hynd, H. (Accrington) Proudfoot, Wilfred
Cordle, John Iremonger, T. L. Ramsden, James
Corfield, F. V. Jackson, John Rawlinson, Peter
Costain A.P. James, David Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin
Coulson J. M. Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Rees, Hugh
Courtney, Cdr. Anthony Jennings, J. C. Rees-Davies, W.R.
Critchley, Julian Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Renton, David
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Ridley, Hon. Nicholas
Cunningham, Knox Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Ridsdale, Julian
Dance James Joseph, Sir Keith Robens, Rt. Hon. Alfred
de Ferranti, Basil
Delargy, Hugh Kerans, Cdr. J. S. Scott-Hopkins, James
Digby, Simon Wingfield Kerr, Sir Hamilton Seymour, Leslie
Drayson, G. B.
Driberg, Tom Kershaw, Anthony Sharples, Richard
du Cann, Edward Key, Rt. Hon. C.W. Shaw, M.
Duncan, Sir James Kitson, Timothy Shepherd, William
Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David Leburn, Gilmour Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Legge-Bourke, Maj. H. Simon, Sir Jocelyn
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Skeet, T. H. H.
Eden John Linstead, Sir Hugh Smith, Dudley (Br'ntfrd & Chiswick)
Edwards Walter (Stepney) Litchfield, Capt. John Smithers, Peter
Elliot, R. W. Loveys, Walter H. Spearman, Sir Alexander
Emery, Peter Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Speir, Rupert
Farr, John Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Stanley, Hon. Richard
Fell, Anthony McAdden, Stephen Stevens, Geoffrey
Finlay, Graeme MacArthur, Ian Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Fisher, Nigel McInnes, James Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) McLaren, Martin Storey, Sir Samuel
McMaster, Stanley R. Studholme, Sir Henry
Freeth, Denzil Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries) Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)
Gammans, Lady Maddan, Martin Sumner, Donald (Orpington)
Gardner, Edward Maginnis, John E. Talbot, John E.
George, J.C.(Pollok) Maitland, Cdr. J. W. Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)
Glyn Sir Richard (Dorset, N.) Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R. Teeling, William
Goodhart, Philip Markham, Major Sir Frank Temple, John M.
Goodhew, Victor Mathew, Robert (Honlton) Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Gordon Walker Rt. Hon. P. C. Matthews, Gordon (Meriden) Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
Gower, Raymond Mawby, Ray Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Gresham, Cooke, R. Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S.L.C. Turner, Colin
Grimston, Sir Robert Millan, Bruce van Straubenzee, W. R.
Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G. Mills, Stratton Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis
Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough) Morgan, William Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Harris, Reader (Heston) Morrison, John Wall, Patrick
Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Mort. D.L. Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Hay, John Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Watts, James
Heath, Rt. Hon. Edward Nabarro, Gerald Webster, David
Henderson-Stewart, Sir James Neave, Airey Wells, John (Maidstone)
Hendry, Forbes Nicholls, Harmar Whitelaw, William
Hicks Beach, Maj. W. Noble Michael Wigg, George
Hiley, Joseph Nugent, Sir Richard Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk) Oakshott, Sir Hendrie Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Ormsby Gore, Rt. Hon. D. Wise, A. R.
Hirst, Geoffrey Osborn, John (Hallam) Woodhouse, C. M.
Hobson, John Page, A. J. (Harrow, West) Worsley, Marcus
Hocking, Philip N. Page, Graham Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Holland, Philip Partridge, E.
Hollingworth, John Percival, Ian TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mr. Gibson-Watt and Mr. Peel.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Hilton, A. V. Redhead, E. C.
Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan) Holman, Percy Reynolds, G. W.
Brockway, A. Fenner Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Small, William
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Cronin, John Lee, Frederick (Newton) Spriggs, Leslie
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Lipton, Marcus Stones, William
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Loughlin, Charles Symonds. J. B.
Ede, Rt. Hon. Chuter Marsh, Richard Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Mellish, R. J. Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Evans, Albert Morris, John Wilkins, W. A.
Finch, Harold Parker, John (Dagenham) Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Fletcher, Eric Plummer, Sir Leslie Winterbottom, R. E.
Greenwood, Anthony Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Coine Valley) Probert, Arthur TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hannan, William Randall, Harry Mr. Paget and Dr. King.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.