HC Deb 17 November 1966 vol 736 cc614-6
17. Mr. Whitaker

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will take steps to control gambling in this country by means of State ownership.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

I am not at present contemplating such an approach to the problem.

Mr. Whitaker

Besides being, as the Sunday Times put it, the best means of preventing crime in this industry, should it not be the public who benefit from what is the nation's fastest-growing and most profitable sector of industry?

Mr. Jenkins

I take note of my hon. Friend's suggestions. I am certainly anxious to deal with this matter, and my approach to this question, on which we are producing a Bill for later in this Session, is to deal particularly with the crime aspects of the matter. However, to move in the way my hon. Friend suggests would be a very radical departure which might arouse conflicting views in Parliament.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that we had a national lottery in the reign of Queen Anne, with the sponsorship of the Archbishop of Canterbury; and, although Queen Anne is dead, could not we have one now?

Mr. Jenkins

I do not recall the fact, but I am interested to learn it.

Mr. Heffer

In view of the growth of betting shops throughout the country, and accepting that the Government are not bringing in a Bill to control gambling as a whole, would my right hon. Friend not agree that he should introduce some interim measures to stop this growth of betting shops and possibly have greater control by local authorities in this connection?

Mr. Jenkins

I will bear in mind any considerations raised by my hon. Friend, although I think that the present position in connection with betting shops is fairly stable.

Mr. Sharples

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that proposals for the control of gambling have been widely circulated, including to such organisations as the Night Club Association, and would he not agree that hon. Members should be informed of these proposals which, I understand, have even been reproduced in full in the Press?

Mr. Jenkins

If the latter point is correct, then I am not sure that I am able to help hon. Members very much further. I believe that it is not usual, when making consultations with a view to legislation, to circulate copies to all hon. Members, although it is usual to consult the interested parties. I will send a copy to the hon. Gentleman and will consider whether copies should be made available to anyone else.

Mr. Hogg

Can the right hon. Gentleman give any further news about the probable date on which his proposals will be ready and published?

Mr. Jenkins

I hope to be able to publish and introduce the Bill in the spring.