HC Deb 24 July 1964 vol 699 cc952-4

Lords Amendment: In page 1, line 4, at end insert new Clause A. A.—In section 33(2)(b) of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963 (which imposes the condition with respect to gaming by means of a gaming machine that the stake required to be hazarded in order to play the game once does not exceed sixpence) the words 'required to be' are hereby repealed.

Mr. Antony Buck (Colchester)

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

Perhaps it might be convenient at the same time to consider the two Amendments,

In page 3, line 21, leave out "(Amusements with Prizes)".

In page 3, line 30, leave out "(Amusements with Prizes)".

Mr. Speaker

No doubt that would be convenient.

Mr. Buck

Consideration was recently given by the House of Lords, sitting in its judicial capacity, to the requirement which is now contained in Section 33(2,b) of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act, 1963—the provision that where machines are installed in a club … the stake required to be hazarded in order to play the game once does not exceed sixpence;". Consideration was given in the case of Rosenbaum and Burgoyne to that part of the Act and the conclusion of the House of Lords was that, as the game could be played by the use of a 6d. stake or something less, the fact that larger sums could be staked did not cause there to be a contravention of the Section.

It comes to the fact that, because of this decision of the House of Lords, machines could now be devised with the sky as the limit for the amount staked, provided that it could be operated optionally by a 6d. piece or under. That was, quite clearly, not the intention of Parliament in the 1963 Act. It was the intention that 6d. should be the maximum stake but apparently that intention was not fully expressed in the Act. The situation would be righted if this House would agree with the Amendment. It would also keep the balance as between the situation existing in clubs and in amusement arcades or in public houses, and would, in my submission, be an entirely appropriate Amendment for the House to accept.

Mr. G. R. Mitchison (Kettering)

This obviously is a case where Parliament as a whole did not express properly what it intended. It intended, as I understand it, and both Houses so intended, that 6d. should be the maximum. The effect of the decision of the House of Lords sitting in judgment on a decision in another place was that 6d. need be only the minimum. The consequence was, as the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Buck) so aptly said, the sky was the limit. In fact, Mr. Rosenbaum had, I understand, installed a 6d. machine side by side with a number of other machines—I am not quite sure how closely they were connected—into which considerably larger sums could be put, and in that way the intention of Parliament, although not the intention expressed in the Bill, could be avoided. I therefore entirely agree with what the hon. Member has said.

I am amused to see that Lord Reid, who treats these matters with great experience and knowledge, and sometimes with a very agreeable dry humour, observes that if the intention had been that the maximum stake permissible in any one game should not exceed 6d. it would have been easy for Parliament to say so. We do make mistakes sometimes.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. C. M. Woodhouse)

I would add one word in elucidation, entirely agreeing, as I do, with everything that has been said by both hon. Members. The machine which was installed by Mr. Rosenbaum in this case would take up to five 6d. bits but they were all simultaneously operated by one lever. This was what made it possible for him to frustrate the intention of Parliament. As I understand it, he could have had a machine which would have taken any number of coins of any denomination provided that one of them was a 6d. or less, and this was entirely contrary to the intention of Parliament in the first place.

Question put and agreed to.