HC Deb 26 June 1963 vol 679 cc1421-41
Mr. Roy Mason (Barnsley)

I beg to move, in page 4, line 15, at the end, to insert: Provided also that the expression "facilities for gaming" shall not include facilities provided by a society to which section 54(1) of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act, 1963 (constructionof certain references to private gain) extends in a case where by virtue of the said section 54(1) the proceeds of gaming are not to be held to be applied for purposes of private gain. The effect of the Clause without the Amendment would be disastrous to all non-profit-making clubs. I speak particularly on behalf of the working men's clubs. There are 3,575 of them, and they have a membership of 2½ million. As we all know, they are patronised during the year by millions more, including the wives of members and visitors who are allowed to visit the clubs at week-ends.

Each club is democratically run. The clubs elect annually their president, secretary, treasurer and committee. They are in themselves a little community and many areas, particularly in the north of England, revolve around the activities within a working men's club. They raise money to maintain their organisation and their little community. In this sense, therefore, each club is a microcosm of our general way of life—indeed a kernel of our democracy.

The clubs are well run. Their elected representative are responsible people. There are few instances that call for police interference. Because of this, bearing in mind that the clubs cater for a vast number of people, they should be preserved and should not be subject to the interference that the Clause will cause without the insertion of the Amendment. Indeed, it could be the ruination of club life as we understand it.

Mr. du Cann

indicated dissent.

Mr. Mason

The Economic Secretary disagrees. I hope that when he intervenes

he will be able to answer fully the points I am about to make.

In his Budget speech, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said: Meanwhile, because we have as yet no adequate information about the extent and nature of gaming, I propose that the Customs and Excise should compile a register of all gaming institutions, including in this those often vary profitable machines known as one-arm bandits,"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd April, 1963; Vol. 675. c. 466.] Does the Chancellor really suggest that a working men's club is a gaming institution? Before the Clause passes, we should have enlightenment from the Chancellor about what exactly he means by a gaming institution. It would be a grave reflection on working men's clublife if he described them as gaming institutions.

Having in mind that non-profit-making clubs might be affected by the Clause, I ask for the insertion of the Amendment. It refers to a recent enactment, the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act, 1963, in which these clubs are at present exempted because there is no profit or benefit for an individual. It is ploughed back into the organisation as a whole.

Section 54(1) of the 1963 Act states: In construing section 33, 37, 43 or 48 of this Act, proceeds of any entertainment, lottery, gaming or amusement promoted on behalf of a society to which this subsection extends which are applied for any purpose calculated to benefit the society as a whole shall not be held to be applied for purposes of private gain by reason only that their application for that purpose results in benefit to any person as an individual. That subsection refers to four previous Sections in the Act which deal with gaming machines, saving for entertainments not held for private gain, exemption of small lotteries incidental to certain entertainments and non-commercial entertainments and the giving of prizes. They are exempted under that recent Act.

The House must be aware that in that regard, all moneys which are made in working men's clubs go back into the organisation for such purposes as club extensions, better amenities and facilities for members, outings for the aged people, old folks' treats, children's trips, the promotion of socials and sports and the maintenance of convalescent homes. All this, I suggest, is in jeopardy if this frightening Clause is not amended.

7.45 p.m.

The Clause suggests that a demand is to be made by the Inland Revenue in July to every club and that a return of all the activities of clubs must now be submitted—for example, bingo, tombola, fruit machines and the rest. This will be quite a task for the secretaries and treasurers of the clubs. If the tax inspector is not satisfied with the work which has been done or the returns which have been sent in, is there not a possibility that the clubs will have descending on them a horde of snoopers so that they can be satisfied?

This is a matter concerning not only working men's clubs. The Association of Conservative Clubs, too, is affected to the full in this respect. Like the working men's clubs—although the Association is political, and working men's clubs are not—the Association will be affected if the Clause is not amended.

If after completion of the snooping operation the Chancellor decides to tax the operations of these clubs, he will kill many of the socially desirable benefits which for many years have resulted from the clubs' activities. I cannot think that even a Tory Chancellor could be as mean as that. He would be cutting off his nose to spite his face, because members of the clubs would then fall back upon the State, especially for a lot of work that the clubs do to look after their old people and to make provision for those who go to the convalescent homes of the clubs. These homes would be in danger of being run down because of lack of money if the Chancellor intends to cream away the profit from these organisations. Consider, too, the work involved in the many thousands of non-profit-making clubs. I cannot imagine that all this would be worth the Chancellor's while.

On 15th June, the Association of Conservative Clubs held its annual meeting. It represents, I understand, 1,500 Con- servative clubs throughout the country. The annual meeting unanimously passed the following resolution: This meeting notes with concern that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is looking into the possibility of introducing a tax on profits obtained from fruit machines and calls upon the Association of Conservative Clubs to make representations to the Chancellor with a view to ensuring that the revenue from fruit machines from non-profit-making clubs which is used for the general benefit of all the members of such clubs as in the case of Conservative and other political clubs should not be taxed". No doubt the Chancellor is aware of that resolution. Probably he has had it sent to him and has considered it. If so, the House is entitled to be enlightened by either the Chancellor or by the Economic Secretary during this discussion.

One does not have to remind the House that working men's clubs are non-political. The Clause, however, has far-reaching consequences. It affects not only Members of both sides of the House of Commons, but their type of club as well. I hope that the House will consider what I have said and that hon. Members opposite, too, will press for the insertion of the Amendment.

Mr. du Cann

This is the third or even the fourth occasion when we have discussed gaming. In a way, I welcome this fresh debate, for it gives one an opportunity again to state clearly the Government's intentions in this matter. I welcome that because I say at once to the hon. Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason), whose speech we have enjoyed, that he has somewhat misunderstood the position. I hope to be able to reassure him.

First let me start on common ground. He paid a warm tribute to the many non-profit-making clubs which there are up and down the country, and I should like to associate myself strongly with his remarks. There is no doubt whatsoever that the facilities provided by these clubs are enjoyed by a multitude of our people, and for myself I say more power to their elbow.

I rather fancy, if I may get on to slightly different ground, that he thought that Treasury Ministers, at any rate, live rather monastic lives and never visit clubs, but we are working men, too, and we certainly go into these clubs as much as anyone else, and I think we are familiar with the kind of entertainments and the kind of benefits which they undoubtedly provide for the community as a whole.

I say that particularly for this reason, for he was very strong and very forceful and very vigorous, as all of us who know him are quite accustomed to, and he said he thought that our proposals were disastrous—that was one of his phrases I picked up—and that the very existence of these clubs—this was another of his phrases—would be put in jeopardy by the wicked things we were doing. I really must refute this with equal emphasis. We are not thinking of those clubs. It is certainly not our wish to do anything of the sort.

Let me deal with a technical point. The Amendment seeks to make exclusions from the fact-finding inquiry—I will say more on that subject in a moment—for the purposes of gaming by reference to Section 54 of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries. Act, 1963. It seems very doubtful, in law, whether this can be done, because this Section is purely interpretative. However, I will leave that point. I mention it only because I am obliged to discuss the Amendment with care and I want to cover all the points in the argument.

I began by saying that we had had three or possibly even four discussions of the Government's intentions in relation to this matter. I think hon. Members will remember particularly the discussions we had in Committee when we were talking about Clause 2. I recall especially a somewhat entertaining and somewhat inaccurate intervention by my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Sir G. Nabarro). That fact alone was sufficient to make that debate a landmark. We talked about what would be the exclusions and it was agreed, without a Division, that these exclusions are to be made by Statutory Instrument made by the Treasury after the Bill receives the Royal Assent, and that that seemed to us to be the right way to proceed, and it has seemed to be also to the House that this should be so and the right way to proceed. This is the first time on which the method has been questioned in any way.

I should like to remind hon. Members, and the hon. Member for Barnsley, in particular, of our aims. They are these. The first is to collect information and to do nothing else. The House will remember very well, for this is ground we have been over before and, heaven knows, we have discussed it enough times before, so that I should have thought it was well known, that there was to be a review. The review has taken place and much work has been done, but we found that we needed more information, and have asked Parliament to give us the powers to collect that additional information—the memory of 1926 will be clearly within a recollection of the House. It is the desire, and I am certain it was the intention of the House, to try to see if gaming in its various forms could not be taxed in the way in which one section, at any rate, of it is taxed at the present minute and that it must be right to have a comprehensive approach and that it must be right for the Treasury Ministers to be in possession of the fullest possible information. That was the first aim, to enable my right hon. Friend, before making up his mind upon what action, if any, to take, to have the fullest information, and in order to be in a position to make up his mind before imposing a greater form of taxation on the growing volume of gaming, and to make up his mind on the basis of the facts.

Mr. Dan Jones (Burnley)

Is it the intention of the Minister to secure this information from the clubs referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason)?

Mr. du Cann

Yes. I am very ready to come to that in just a moment. First I was describing that the first aim is to obtain information.

I come on to the second aim. We seek to distinguish—the House has been good enough to date to give us powers so to do—between what I called in Committee high-powered gaming on the one hand and the very different type of gaming with which we are very familiar indeed on the other hand. The second form of gaming, the low-powered gaming, if I may so call it, covers a very wide range of mild gaming for which our social legislation lays down conditions under which it can be conducted. I will give examples if I may.

Under Section 35 of the Act to which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Barnsley referred, cribbage and dominoes will certainly be excluded. I remember that when we reached this stage of our debate on Clause 2 and we discussed this it was observed that no Member of the Liberal Party was present. They seem to be curiously uninterested in the subject. I remember that my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster answered the question he posed himself, and where were they? He said they were probably playing cribbage. [Interruption.] What his activities are tonight I do not know. Possibly he is concerned with Section 37 which deals with the whist drive, as it were, held in a village hall on behalf of a church or on behalf of a local political party or, indeed, a local bingo game, gaming of that sort.

Section 48 is concerned with prizes for the kind of rolling down a penny game that we see at church fetes, Scout fetes, political fetes and the rest of it. Section 49—in answer to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, Langstone (Mr. Stevens)—adds to the exclusions the smaller amusements where there is a game interest. We were thinking particularly of the kind of competition, again enjoyed by so many of our people, especially at the seaside, in arcades and in shows run by travelling showmen and the rest.

Then in Section 50 is the kind of amusement which seemed to displease my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary who made a splendid speech on the Second Reading of the Bill, namely, those in which one shoots at "cats". Perhaps he is a cat lover. I do not know. At any rate, it was our intention to exclude them also.

Section 43 is concerned with lotteries, the conditions for lotteries, as the House knows very well, and will have within its recollection. Section 43 is concerned with lotteries and is therefore not relevant.

The exclusions are reasonably self-contained and are very well known to most Members of the House and in the constituencies in all parts of the country and we discussed these matters and it was agreed that they should be excluded from the inquiry. They are little things. They are innocent things, and one may perhaps say that in many cases—except, perhaps, to the self-supporting Liberal Party—they are socially desirable as well.

Examples of the other type of activities, the high-powered gaming about which we wanted particularly information were—I give two examples—first, organised bingo in converted cinemas and dance halls where admission has to be paid for and where large cash prizes are given. That is one thing we were interested to find out about. Then, of course, there is the casino type of gaming which is so often mentioned both in the newspapers and the House of Commons. There are other examples. I give those two in particular.

I am sure that the distinction between the two is entirely clear. Having said that, that leaves Section 33, which is concerned with gaming machines, that is to say fruit machines or, as my right hon. Friend calls them, one-armed bandits, which are legal when used, and only when used, in clubs for other than private gain. That is the only occasion on which they are legal. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Barnsley has quoted what my right hon. Friend said during his Budget speech, and I will not repeat that, but I must come back again to what the hon. Gentleman the Member for Barnsley was saying because he was suggesting that if our inquiry were to be concerned with one-armed bandits we should be in some way striking a mortal blow at the clubs. I must tell him very frankly indeed that I see no reason whatever why the managers of those clubs should refuse or even wish to refuse to answer questions on this subject. I cannot see why they should refuse to give the Customs and Excise authorities—not the Inland Revenue—the information which my right hon. Friend must have if he is to be in a position to makeup his mind how, if he thinks it appropriate, he can best introduce a fair system of taxation.

8.0 p.m.

This is not a determination to tax; it never has been. What my right hon. Friend will decide to do in due course—if anything—he can decideonly in the light of information. This is only an information-seeking activity and, as such, I am sure that it is entirely legitimate and entirely right. I tell the hon. Member for Barnsley frankly that we are determined to have this full information, and that we think it appropriate that we should have it. I am certain that the clubs have nothing to fear from this inquiry. We shall not send a posse of snoopers into the clubs. The hon. Member did not suggest that, but I have heard it suggested by others.

If there is any anxiety at all on this score it is entirely due to a misconception of our purpose. As I said in the beginning, we are well aware of the advantages which have been brought to some of these clubs by the introduction of these machines. I am the president of a club in my constituency, and I recall with pleasure looking at its accounts only a few months ago. But, I repeat, if we are to have fair taxation, and taxation which does not have undesirable social consequences, my right hon. Friend must be in a position to have the fullest information.

These clubs make no complaint—apart from those occasions when a Treasury Minister goes into them—about their need to pay Excise Duty on liquor, cigarettes and the rest. Their members, as citizens of this country, must fit into the pattern of legislation. We are not asking them—and we will not be asking them—to do anything which reflects dishonourably upon them. We shall not be asking them to give us any information which we are not asking from other people. This is a serious inquiry, and I hope that the hon. Member for Barnsley, who spoke with such vigour on the subject, will use his influence with these clubs in order to see that they respond to our intentions in the sympathetic manner in which we shall conduct this inquiry.

Mr. Mitchison

I associate myself—and I am sure that many hon. Members on this side and on the other side of the House associate themselves—with the appreciative remarks that the Economic Secretary made about the functions of our clubs. This Amendment does not raise any deep moral principle in connection with clubs or gaming but it nevertheless raises a question of principle of some importance.

I want to begin by referring to Section 54 of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act. I must acknowledge my indebtedness to the working men's clubs, or to their legal advisers, for the form of the Amendment, because they have hit the right form. This is merely a case of trying to define a body, in the nature of a club, which does not provide facilities for gain but does provide facilities for what I should like to call internal consumption.

Obviously, the Chancellor does not intend to tax the almost historic case that occurred many years ago, in Mr. Gilbert Beyfus's evidence before some body or another, relating to four bishops playing whist in the Athenaeum, even if they played for money. The question is: what kind of gaming can the Chancellor possibly intend to tax? He gave us one or two instances, including dominoes and cribbage. It may be that these games have a peculiar and specific innocence of their own which carries them anywhere, and that whether people play the game of dominoes or cribbage inside the doors of a Conservative club or anywhere else it will not be taxed.

But we proceed from that to other forms of gaming, which, if they were conducted for profit, would be proper matters for investigation. Section 54 of the 1963 Act is a pure construction Section, but it is perhaps the more convenient for that, and in subsection (3) it provides that the provisions of the Section shall extend to any society which is established and conducted…wholly for purposes other than purposes of any commercial undertaking… That is the relevant part. Subsection (1). which is referred to in the Amendment, provides, in effect, that for the purpose of the 1963 Act a club is not to be deemed to be applying the money for purposes of private gain in the case of gaming in these clubs by reason only that a certain member of that club receives an advantage out of it.

Those are the kinds of consideration which apply in the Act, and it seems to me that they draw a quite definite line between bingo or similar gambling that the Economic Secretary referred to, which is conducted in a converted cinema or somewhere else as a matter of business by somebody—just as a bookmaker may be conducting his business on a racecourse or a dog track—and something which is obviously on the other side of the line and which is a form of domestic gaming, as I like to call it, such as the sort of gaming indulged in by the four bishops playing whist together.

I suggest that we cannot for a moment intend that the powers of investigation—and I agree that they are powers of investigation only—provided in Clause 2 should be applied to domestic gaming. What these clubs have good reason to worry about is the possibility that the investigations with which they are already threatened—they have been asked questions by the Inland Revenue, or have received forms from it, or have been told what information they must provide—are being carried out for the purpose of treating them as a commercial proposition of some sort, and as organisations making money out of gaming and therefore being subject to taxation, instead of treating them as what they are, namely, places where this kind of domestic gaming goes on.

I say at once that they are not an absolutely obvious case. We must consider what they are. If we have to draw a line between gaming as a form of business, or anything of that sort, and gaming not for profit or for gain, and carried on not at all as a commercial undertaking, I suggest that we should choose the line that was drawn in the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act—which, after all, is the Act which defines gaming.

Subsection (7) contains a provision allowing the Treasury to exempt people from these inquiries. If we knew that the Treasury was going to exempt the clubs the matter would be put on an entirely different footing, but on the one hand we have had preliminary inquiries, as I mentioned, and on the other the categorical statement of the Economic Secretary that the Government intend to pursue these clubs and to get this information. I agree that it is only an investigation, and that it does not follow that the clubs will be taxed, but it indicates that the Treasury regards them as a possible taxable object. I do not imagine that similar inquiries are made about what is obviously domestic gaming and therefore I think they are right to take the point at this early stage that they are clubs in the proper sense of the word; that there is no commercial element about it whatever, and even though someone may make an advantage out of it—that is the case contemplated in the subsection—they are to be distinguished from the kind of gaming which goes on as a business.

The Economic Secretary rightly referred to the importance of these clubs in the life of the community. They are subject to considerable investigation in one way and another, in connection with the recent changes in the licensing law and with their rules, and so on. I am not saying for a moment that they should not be. But we are now proposing to ask them for a great deal more, for information which it might be extremely difficult to obtain—even were it right to get it—in a form which would be of any practical use. I do not know much about that—the Treasury and Customs and Excise would know more than Ido—but I am doubtful about the purpose of the inquiry or survey even if it were right to conduct it and I return to the question whether the clubs ought to be pursued. That is the question raised by the Amendment. I hope that I have made clear my point about the difference between domestic gaming and trading for gain. I have dealt with the exemption Clause. It does not come into this, as I see it, unless the Government change their minds after the speech of the Economic Secretary. Now the question is, what is it right to do in the circumstances?

I suggest that here we are dealing with a body of people who have made their points reasonably. None of us is reasonable on every point. But by and large they have a real point to make in this respect, which, so far as I can see, is one on which they differ from the Government. Even if working men's clubs generally are considered by the Government to be an unreasonable body—the Economic Secretary came very near to suggesting that in his speech—I hope the hon. Gentleman will not make a similar criticism of his particular friends, the Conservative clubs, who the other day unanimously passed a resolution—relating it is true only to fruit machines—raising the general question in a rather simpler form. I think it ought to be clear that these clubs are, for the purposes of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act, 1963, "clubs" in the proper sense of the word; and whatever goes on inside them regarding gaming—subject to the provisions of that Act, of course—is not gaming in private but is the other kind of gaming which I have called, and still call, domestic gaming.

The clubs ought not to be taxed. And if they are not to be taxed I see no reason for inquiring into them. Surely not even the Government will say that they are to make all these inquiries if they do not propose to tax the clubs. If they can say so it makes the inquiry a little less valuable, though it would certainly reassure the clubs. But when they say that they need this information and propose to get it, I can see that they do not rule out the taxing of clubs in respect of these matters on questions of principle.

Unless they are prepared to give some assurance to that effect, it would appear to be quite inconsistent with what was said by the Economic Secretary and we shall have to take the question of principle to a Division. I repeat, it is a question of principle. It is not a question whether gaming is good or bad. It is not even a question whether gaming should be taxed or not. It is a question whether, if we are to have taxation of gaming, it should be extended to domestic gaming—that is the clearest phrase I can use. If we are to do so, on which side of the line is this form of gaming to fall, bearing in mind that in the 1963 Act we have a provision, which seems to me to amount to a definite decision, that it is on the domestic side just as much as dominoes, and cribbage, which I understand are played between the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Sir G. Nabarro) and Members of the Liberal Party.

8.15 p.m.

Mr. D. Jones

I have doubts about any form of gambling but I will not pursue that point, because I do not seek a halo. The speech of the Economic Secretary bewildered me. He said that the Government were not evilly or unkindly disposed towards clubs. But he was even more definite in his determination to obtain this information by a survey or inquiry. I cannot understand why such a survey should take place. I support what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason). If the Economic Secretary is the president of a club, he will know that these clubs perform a useful social service. My hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley referred to the work they do for old-age pensioners. They also doa great deal of work for children. Libraries are provided on club premises and money, which represents the proceeds of gaming, is used to organise concerts of high cultural value. I support the Amendment for these reasons. I have misgivings about gambling generally. But if all forms of gambling resulted in money being raised for such good purposes, by jingo, gambling would be on a much higher level than it is today.

The speech of the Economic Secretary has bewildered hon. Members. The Government should be definite about what inquiry is to take place and for what purpose it is intended, if they are kindly disposed to the clubs. Such an inquiry would cost money and take time. I hope that the Economic Secretary does not mean that money will be spent for no good purpose. We are certain that the clubs are not profit-making. But that is only part of the matter. They perform a definite social service, and they should be encouraged. If the Chancellor has any punitive intentions, we should be told. The House should not be asked to believe that a costly inquiry is to be held for no purpose. We are entitled to more information.

Mr. Ede

I have been a member of clubs affiliated to the Working Men's Club and Institute Union for 62 years. On the day I was demobilised after the First World War I was elected president of the local branch of the then organisation known as the National Association of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers. One of the first things they did was to enter into an arrangement to purchase a freehold property and establish a club. On that occasion I was elected president, and I have been elected ever since, so I can claim to know something about the working of these clubs.

One of the anxieties of the committees of clubs is not to offend against the laws relating to gambling. When one has been a member of a committee and president of a club in action the fear that there may be some surreptitious gambling going on is never distant from one's mind. I have no doubt that the objects of the Government are to obtain information so that they can ascertain how far there is legitimate gaming of the kind described by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) as "domestic gambling" going on and whether it is possible for that to make a contribution towards the Revenue. That is quite genuine, but, once inquiries begin, it is very difficult to maintain that kind of attitude by the persons conducting the inquiry.

There has been a general appeal issued this week asking that if anyone knows a nice, juicy scandal connected with politics, will he please send it along to a judge of the High Court, who will thank him for it and then investigate it. That is asking for information. I do not think many of us could put our hands on our hearts and say that during the past six months we have not heard of any such thing. I do not intend to repeat any of the things I have heard in the Dining Room, in the Smoking Room, or even in the Tea Room. I can understand the committee of a club being very nervous about somebody investigating and asking for information in these matters, although I am prepared to accept the statement of the Government that they are only seeking information at this stage.

Secretaries and treasurers, after all, are ordinary working people who have to earn their living. It is part of their contribution to the social life of the community in which they live that they take on these onerous jobs, which even now are quite difficult and might easily land then in trouble, not for anything they do themselves but through some inadvertence on the part of a member or paid servant of the club who does not quite carry out his duties. This may involve those honorary officers in very considerable difficulty. When they have to contemplate falling in the kind of forms they may expect to receive, I can well understand that they have some misgivings about whether they can adequately carry out the responsibilities placed upon them. The Economic Secretary, I am sure, means that the Government will stand no nonsense from anyone when he says that they will get the information. That is the kind of phrase which when read in cold print, may still further increase the anxieties of the people to whom I have alluded.

In my constituency, as well as in the place where I live, I am well acquainted with the work of those clubs affiliated to the Working Men's Club and Institute Union. I have never been a member of a Conservative Club. In my own regenerate days I was a member of the committee of a Liberal club, but there was a strong Conservative club in the district, too, and occasionally on a change of brewer, it was astonishing how rapidly people's political opinions changed in respect of their membership of the club.

Do golf clubs come under this provision? Any kind of club of that sort? When I had some responsibility to the House for clubs I always had to recognise that in dealing with them I dealt with a very wide range of social classes in this country. I am not talking about the big London and West End clubs, but most of the clubs to which I have alluded rely very much on the bodies to which they are affiliated for guidance in these matters. The chief advantage of being affiliated to the Working Men's Club and Institute Union is that the officers of the club have access to the finest possible advice which is available in dealing with all the problems of administration and the legal difficulties which they come up against.

When they get these forms all these people will be involved in seeking guidance in this way. I should have been happier in my relationship to the Amendment if the Economic Secretary had said that certain clubs, to be defined, could be exempt under one of the Orders which he mentioned in his speech, so that one might have some idea of the way in which these honorary officers of the clubs will be able to feel that they will get appropriate advice from the organisations with which they are affiliated. I hope that it will be possible for something to be done on those lines, because I am sure that the last thing that anyone wants to see is one of the honorary officers of one of these clubs getting into trouble, as is so easy, through the inadvertence of one of his members or one of the wage-earning officials, for example a steward, who may be questioned in these matters.

Mr. du Cann

It may assist the right hon. Gentleman and the House if I say something to him shortly on this point. I am certain that the Customs and Excise in general will give any help they possibly can both to such organisations as the right hon. Gentleman mentioned, the central organisations to which clubs are affiliated, and to individual clubs in different localities. There is every wish and every intention on the part of the Customs and Excise to be as helpful as they possibly can and to assist those who have to bear these burdens in a way of which I am sure the right hon. Gentleman would approve.

Mr. Ede

I thank the hon. Member very much for that intervention. I am sure that many anxieties will be relieved by such an assurance from him, and I hope that it will enable the information which is required for the Government's purpose to be obtained. There is always a fear that when one offers information to authorities it may be used for purposes other than those for which one tendered it. I want to see some effort made to have this question settled on lines which will enable information to be available and which will assure those who genuinely give the information willingly that they are running no undue risks by being truthful.

8.30 p.m.

Mr. John McKay (Wallsend)

I entered the Chamber without any knowledge of what was likely to be discussed. I have been very interested in the debate. All those who have spoken have made fairly intellectual speeches on a topic on which that was not to be expected. I was impressed to some extent by the Minister, but what interested me more than anything else and influenced me to rise was the brilliant speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison). I say with due impartiality that his exposition of what appeared to be a simple issue indicated to me that the subject is perhaps of great importance.

The question is: is it of great importance? To my mind, it is of importance because of the number of people affected. It affects everyone in clubland. They exist in every county. They are drawn from all walks of life. They go on quietly and sensibly doing a good job. These

clubs are not out to make great profits. They are just as interested in using much of their surplus money to help children and old people particularly. The brilliant speech of my hon. and learned Friend shows that the arguments need to be closely examined.

The Minister apparently based his argument on the question of an inquiry. The Government have no idea of doing anything harmful to clubs; they do not seek to cripple them; they do not seek to interfere with them in any way. One would think that the Minister was a benevolent man out to do clubs some special good. When his argument was thoroughly and intellectually examined by my hon. and learned Friend, who I repeat made a brilliant speech, the subject was opened up in such a way that an entirely new view was given which inclined the unbiased man who was at all interested to change his attitude. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering showed in his brilliant speech that there was something behind the Minister's remarks on this subject.

My hon. and learned Friend discussed the whole question of obtaining information. To me his remarks indicated that it is necessary for us to inquire why the Exchequer should be so interested in these clubs and should need to make a close investigation of their finances. When the Treasury desires to make this sort of investigation one is bound to think that something is amiss, that something smells about the activity being investigated. It is because of this that I can assure my hon. and learned Friend he has the support of all his Friends. He made an extremely strong case to show that, whatever information the Government may want about gaming, they have no need to press their investigations on these clubs.

Question put, That those words be there inserted in the Bill: —

The House divided: Ayes 147, Noes 193.

Division No. 150.] AYES [8.38 p.m.
Abse, Leo Blackburn, F. Carmichael, Neil
Ainsley, William Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Castle, Mrs. Barbara
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Boweden, Rt. Hn. H.W. (Leics, S.W.) Chapman, Donald
Awbery, Stan (Bristol, Central) Bowles, Frank Collick, Percy
Bacon, Miss Alice Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Corbet, Mrs. Freda
Barnett, Guy Bradley, Tom Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)
Bence, Cyril Bray, Dr. Jeremy Cronin, John
Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Dalyell, Tam
Benson, Sir George Callaghan, James Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)
Deer, George Jones, Dan (Burnley) Pursey, Cmdr. Harry
Dempsey, James Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Rankin, John
Diamond, John Kelley, Richard Redhead, E. C.
Dodds, Norman Kenyon, Clifford Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)
Duffy, A. E. P. Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Reynolds, G. W.
Ede, Rt. Hon. C. King, Dr. Horace Rhodes, H.
Edelman, Maurice Lawson, George Robertson, John (Paisley)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Ledger, Ron Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.)
Edwards, Walter, (Stepney) Lever, L. M. (Ardwick) Ross, William
Fernyhough, E. Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.) Royle, Charles (Salford, West)
Fitch, Alan Loughlin, Charles Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Fletcher, Eric McBride, N. Small, William
Foot, Dingle (Ipswich) MacColl, James Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Forman, J. C. McInnes, James Sorensen, R. W.
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) McKay, John (Wallsend) Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Galpern, Sir Myer Mahon, Simon Spriggs, Leslie
George,Lady MeganLloyd(Crmrthn) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Steele, Thomas
Gourlay, Harry Mallalieu, J.P.w. (Huddersfield, E.) Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Greenwood, Anthony Manuel, Archie Stones, William
Grey, Charles Mapp, Charles Stross,Dr.Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent,C.)
Griffiths, W. (Exchange) Mason, Roy Swingler, Stephen
Gunter, Ray Mayhew, Christopher Taverne, D.
Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Mendelson, J. J. Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
Hamilton, William (West Fife) Millan, Bruce Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Hannan, William Milne, Edward Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)
Harper, Joseph Mitchison, G. R. Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)
Hart, Mrs. Judith Monslow, Walter Thornton, Ernest
Hayman, F. H. Moody, A. S, Watkins, Tudor
Henderson, Rt.Hn.Arthur(RwlyRegis) Morris, John Wilkins, W. A.
Herbison, Miss Margaret Moyle, Arthur Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Hill, J. (Midlothian) Noel-Baker,Rt.Hn.Phllip(Derby,S.) Williams, LI. (Abertillery)
Holman, Percy O'Malley, B. K, Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Houghton, Douglas Oram, A. E, Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Hoy, James H. Oswald, Thomas Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Padley, W. E. Winterbottom, R. E.
Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Parker, John Woof, Robert
Hunter, A. E. Parkin, B. T. Wyatt, Woodrow
Hynd, H. (Accrington) Pavitt, Laurence Zilliacus, K.
Hynd, John (Attercliffe) Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas Prentice, R. E. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Jenkins, Roy (Stechford) Probert, Arthur Mr. McCann and Mr. Ifor Davies.
Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.) d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Hooson, H. E.
Allason, James Deedes, Rt. Hon. W. F. Hornby, R. P.
Arbuthnot, John Donaldson, Cmdr, C. E. M. Howard, John (Southampton, Test)
Ashton, Sir Hubert Drayson, G. B. Hughes-Young, Michael
Awdry, Daniel (Chippenham) du Cann, Edward Hurd, Sir Anthony
Balniel, Lord Eden, Sir John Iremonger, T. L.
Barber, Anthony Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Barlow, Sir John Emery, Peter Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)
Barter, John Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)
Batsford, Brian Errington, Sir Eric Johnson, Eric (Blackley)
Bell, Ronald Farey-Jones, F. W. Johnson Smith, Geoffrey
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay) Fell, Anthony Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)
Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald Finlay, Graeme Joseph, Rt. Hon. Sir Keith
Biffen, John Fisher, Nigel Kerans, Cdr. J. S.
Bishop, F. P. Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Kerby, Capt. Henry
Bourne-Arton, A. Foster, John Kerr, Sir Hamilton
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) Kershaw, Anthony
Brewis, John Gammans, Lady Kitson, Timothy
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter Gardner, Edward Lambton, Viscount
Brown, Alan (Tottenham) Gibson-Watt, David Leather, Sir Edwin
Bryan, Paul Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, Central) Leavey, J. A.
Bullus, Wing Commander Eric Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Burden, F. A. Glover, Sir Douglas Linstead, Sir Hugh
Butcher, Sir Herbert Gower, Raymond Litchfield, Capt. John
Cary, Sir Robert Grant-Ferris, R. Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)
Chataway, Christopher Green, Alan Longbottom, Charles
Chichester-Clark, R. Gresham Cooke, R. Loveys, Walter H.
Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.) Grosvenor, Lord Robert Lubbock, Eric
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Gurden, Harold Lucas, Sir Jocelyn
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough) Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Cleaver, Leonard Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) McAdden, Sir Stephen
Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Harris, Reader (Heston) McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia
Corfield, F. V. Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Maclay, Rt, Hon. John
Costain, A. P. Harvie Anderson, Miss Maclean,SirFitzroy(Bute&N.Ayrs)
Coulson, Michael Hastings, Stephen McMaster, Stanley R.
Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne) Hay, John Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)
Crawley, Aidan Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Marshall, Sir Douglas
Curran, Charles Hendry, Forbes Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)
Currie, G. B. H. Hobson, Rt. Hon. Sir John Mawby, Ray
Dalkeith, Earl of Hollingworth, John Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.
Mills, Stratton Ridsdale, Julian Thompson, Sir Kenneth (Walton)
Miscampbell, Norman Robson Brown, Sir William Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
More, Jasper (Ludlow) Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks) Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Morgan, William Roots, William Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
Nabarro, Sir Gerald Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard Turner, Colin
Oakshott, Sir Hendrie St. Clair, M. Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Page, Graham (Crosby) Scott-Hopkins, James van Straubenzee, W. R.
Page, John (Harrow, West) Seymour, Leslie Vane, W. M. F.
Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale) Sharples, Richard Victors, Miss Joan
Pearson, Frank (Ciltheroe) Shepherd, William Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis
Peel, John Skeet, T. H. H. Wakefield, Sir Wavell
Percival, Ian Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick) Walker, Peter
Peyton, John Smithers, Peter Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir Derek
Pickthorm, Sir Kenneth Smyth, Rt. Hon. Brig, Sir John Wall, Patrick
Pilkington, Sir Richard Speir, Rupert Wells, John (Maidstone)
Pitman, Sir James Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.) Whitelaw, William
Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch Stodart, J. A. Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Prior, J. M L. Storey, Sir Samuel Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho Summers, Sir Spencer Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Pym, Francis Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne) Woodnutt, Mark
Rawlinson, Sir Peter Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.) Woollam, John
Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side) Worsley, Marcus
Rees, Hugh (Swansea, W.) Teeling, Sir William Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Rees-Davies, W. R. (Isle of Thanet) Temple, John M.
Ridley, Hon. Nicholas Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. McLaren and Mr. MacArthur.