§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Mr. Speaker
Before I call the hon. Member to open the debate, which cuts across party lines, it would help the Chair to secure a balanced debate if hon. Members would give some hint to the Chair of their attitude to the Bill—for or against.
§ 11.5 a.m.
§ Mr. James Tinn (Cleveland)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
Before commending the Bill to the House, may I first thank hon. Members on both sides who have been kind enough to lend their support as sponsors of the Bill, and also those hon. Members who were good enough to return the questionnaire I forwarded to them some weeks ago.
This is an all-party or non-party Bill, but not, I fear, a non-controversial one. Even though it is a controversial Bill, I believe that the overwhelming majority of opinion, perhaps in the long run more 1714 important than the balance of argument, is in favour of a national lottery. To make this claim is not in any way to dismiss the opposition as in any way trivial, or to minimise it. The opposition to the Bill I recognise, of course, as being very sincere and convinced, and I am sure that it will be admirably put forward in the debate which will follow. In fact, it is the very sincerity of the opposition to the Bill which does encourage me to hope that it will be frankly and straightforwardly put and that the opposition will then be content, having put their case, to allow the House to come to a decision and to accept that decision. I believe the opposition will disdain to use the procedural device, however well established, of talking out the Bill. Surely the House does have a right to come to a decision, and my indicates that the country wants to see a decision on the Bill. Indeed, quite apart from the merits of my own Bill, there are some important Measures immediately following, and if the House comes to a conclusion in good time on my Bill it will be able to discuss the very important Bill dealing with air pollution, which concerns my own constituency very deeply indeed, and come to a decision on that Bill as well.
I shall try to be brief, but let me attempt to deal with the main objections to the Bill, as I understand them. First of all, there is the objection which many people hold to gambling on moral grounds. I respect these views, of course; and certainly I could not hope nor shall I attempt in a short speech now to refute the convictions of a lifetime. Nevertheless, it is, I suggest, a minority view. The very fact that people spend £2,000 million a year on gambling—that figure has been quoted—and the fact that an element of gambling is included in our national savings movement is surely proof enough that we look on and welcome gambling now as an accepted part of our way of life. Hon. Members may understandably deplore this, but since no one so far has proposed setting the clock back and reversing the process, surely it would be unreasonable to reject the scheme put forward in this Bill. Gambling has at least the merit of assisting public welfare in several very aspects, to which I shall return in a moment.
1715 Another argument against a national lottery is, if I may borrow the words of the Rev. Gordon E. Moody in his excellent article which the Churches' Council on Gambling circulated, that it "tends to a false categorisation of projects". The provision of hospitals, medical research, etc., comes to be regarded either as subjects for charity or as optional extras. He claims that, on the contrary, these are subjects of communal responsibility, and says that no one would suggest financing national defence, for instance, in such a way. I would not suggest doing so, but Spain does it to a considerable extent. I recognise that it is a most respectable sounding argument that a mature society should decide its order of social priorities and see that they are met. That might well be the mark of a mature society, but we must face the fact that we do not pass the test, although we do better than most in this respect.
There will always be an area of unsatisfied needs, if only for the practical, simple reason that the public will never agree to a level of taxation, or an increase of contributions to the health service, that would enable all needs of medical research and elsewhere to be met. There are many unfilled needs today. Distinguished surgeons have drawn my attention to the deplorable research facilities in certain of our London hospitals; they know the need. It would be irresponsible to ignore those needs in order to make claims to a social maturity for our society that does not exist. We have the finest doctors and surgeons in the world. We cannot afford to go on denying them the finest facilities in the world.
It is often alleged against a national lottery that it is a form of voluntary taxation, but that has always struck me as a very odd objection. After all, what is wrong with voluntary taxation? It might be taxation under anaesthetic, but I have never known anyone insist on having a tooth out without an anaesthetic. By all means let us make taxation as painless as possible. The average taxpayer would agree.
It is also argued that a national lottery is a costly and wasteful way of raising funds. But the facts do not bear out either argument. The 25 State lotteries 1716 for which figures are readily available must keep their running costs, plus commission payments, to less than 20 per cent. of the stake money. The Swedes keep theirs down to 2 per cent. The amount left over for whatever purpose the lottery seeks to benefit depends on the proportion allocated to prizes, and in most cases that amounts to a half or more of the total stakes. The profits allocated to the various projects range from £18,000 in a single year in Kenya to £26 million in a single year in Spain. In Sweden, upwards of £10 million a year is received by the national Exchequer, and a proportion of it is earmarked for cultural purposes. It is well to remember the point I made a moment ago that these sums are raised voluntarily, without the resentment that higher taxation inevitably causes.
The article circulated by the Churches' Council on Gambling criticises a national lottery on the grounds that it takes money away from a large number of people and tranfers it to a few, entirely by chance and without regard to the winner's needs or capacity to use the money wisely, completely irrationally and with no relation to need or other social considerations. Of course, it does. That is inherent in a lottery, including those which many churches run. The very chance provides the point—the fun, the excitement of a flutter. But in a State lottery anything from a third to a half of the total stakes would go, if the Bill is passed, in a very deliberate and well-considered fashion to worthy causes and organisations well able to make excellent use of the funds made available.
Some opponents argue that it is somehow wrong for the State to be linked to gambling. I think that we shall hear more of that argument in the debate. The short and simple answer is that it is already so linked. The precedent is very well established with betting tax and Premium Bonds. If it is argued that there is some sort of guilt by association, then, since the relationship of lung cancer to smoking is well established in most people's minds today, we should propose to abolish the tobacco duty rather than receive revenue from such a commodity.
Some critics argue that the funds which they concede are needed could better be raised by a massive increase in the taxation of all gambling. That is a very 1717 persuasive line of argument. Many people would approve of such an increase, but it would not remove the need or a State lottery. However much such an increase in the taxation of gambling enabled us to extend improve direct provision by the State to meet the communal needs referred to in Clause 4—and this extra provision would be welcomed—other needs would certainly emerge. The scope is limitless.
I now turn to what at first glance seemed to me a most powerful argument against a national lottery, which is well developed by the Rev. Moody. It is said that it would tend to take money away from the poorest section of the community. There is some truth in that criticism which needs to be faced. Because of the very drabness of their way of life, many people caught in the toils of poverty find money to chance on a gamble. It is argued that they are often those least able to assess correctly the heavy odds against them, but from my experience I am not sure about this, because I find them very quick to work out their winnings when their very complicated sequence of bets comes up. Although there is a good deal of truth in the criticism, it is my view on reflection, that it still does not weaken the case in favour of a national lottery. It is the unfortunate truth that such people will, for reasons which often deserve more sympathy than condemnation or criticism, will in any case bet on something. A national lottery would give them the opportunity, not to bet more—they could hardly afford that, but to transfer from the local betting shop. It would also be some consolation to them when they lost to know that at least they were helping medical research and the other objects listed in the Bill, rather than lining an already well-filled private pocket.
I now turn briefly to the Bill, before going on to more positive arguments in its favour, hoping that I have dealt fairly with some of the objections. The Bill is simple, but because I am the most amateur of draftsmen I do not doubt that it is very imperfect, and I apologise in advance for the defects which I am sure it must contain. If the House grants a Second Reading they can be remedied in Committee.
1718 Clause 1(1) simply establishes the legal basis on which the lottery will be operated. Subsection (2) lays down two necessary definitions.
Clause 2 requires the Secretary of State for the Home Department to make an Order under which a National Lottery Board will be set up to organise and operate a national lottery scheme. The members of the Board would be appointed by the Home Secretary. Its constitution would be laid down in the Order, which would also allow the Secretary of State to determine the salary of the chairman and members of the Board. It would be for him, in making the Order, to decide the size of the Board. In selecting its members, he would seek to choose people of proven ability and experience in large-scale fund raising or similar work and /or wide knowledge of the various needs to which the proceeds could be applied, together with the very acute judgment that would be needed to differentiate between the competing claims that would be made on those funds.
Clause 3 empowers the Board to raise funds by borrowing to meet the initial expenses of setting up and operating a national lottery. If the scheme is to be started on the national scale essential to its full measure of success and after thorough preparation these costs must certainly be considerable. But I have checked and am assured that there is no doubt about the ability of the Board to raise the required amount. Indeed, any hon. Member who may nevertheless feel doubt on this score should look at the tremendous record of successful schemes operated abroad. Most of these have operated for many years. Denmark and Holland have had such schemes in operation since the 18th century, both of these countries, incidentally, having a strong religious tradition. Yet, at the other end of the scale, we have the scheme started in 1966 in Jersey and already operating very successfully and profitably for the benefit of the Island.
Clause 4 lays down the purposes for which the profits of the national lottery could or would be applied. It would enable the Board to make grants or, where appropriate, loans to individuals or to organisations engaged in medical research. Surely we are all only too painfully aware of the needs in this 1719 sphere. No one imagines—certainly I do not—that money alone can provide a solution, but we all have our individual experiences, more or less close to us, of the tragedy of disease. Whilst medical research in this country still lacks funds and facilities, who can with an easy conscience say no to a scheme like the one that I am outlining which would provide so much for so many of these needs. It is not good enough to say that the State should provide all this. It is easily said and easily agreed in ordinary conversation, but it is a different matter when it comes to raising the taxes or Health Service contributions to pay for it. We cannot afford to blind ourselves to this.
Clause 5 simply requires the preparation of an annual report and statement of accounts to be published and laid before Parliament.
The remaining Clauses are technical ones and link the Bill with existing Statutes, the most important feature being that the operation of the Bill does not apply to Northern Ireland. This would seem to be a question for the Parliament at Stormont.
This is a Bill for which both Press and public have demonstrated tremendous support. Almost invariably letters that I have received take the line that this is a commonsense development which should have been undertaken years ago. Public opinion polls have shown over 80 per cent. in favour of a national lottery, the proceeds of which to be applied along similar lines to those outlined in the Bill.
If the Bill were to be rejected, I believe that many people would find it quite absurd and illogical that a legislature which has legalised gambling on such a tremendous scale should turn down a scheme designed to benefit the community.
§ Mr. Tinn
For what I think are good reasons, the Bill does not attempt to lay down in detail the methods of operation of a State lottery. But I would expect a large number of selling points. I hope that one side benefit would be that it would provide useful employment for 1720 many people, who for one reason or another, have difficulty in finding satisfactory work. Certainly a large number of my correspondents have shown deep interest in this aspect of the scheme.
I am very concerned that in the operation of a national lottery every effort should be made to keep the social benefit side at least as much in the minds of subscribers as the gambler's hope of a win. This can and should be done, and I hope that this will be one of the guiding principles of the National Lottery Board's publicity if it comes to be set up.
In this connection, I would put forward one suggestion for consideration of the Board if the Bill should go through. I think that each counterfoil of the tickets sold should have printed on it a miniature ballot paper of the projects or categories to which the profits should be applied under the terms of the Bill. The purchaser in buying his ticket and filling in his name on the counterfoil could indicate his preference and thus the Board would be furnished with a continuing public opinion poll on its work. I think that this could considerably increase the sense of public participation. After all, the purchaser would be asked to think, even if in some cases only for a brief moment, of the social and welfare aims that the scheme is intended to serve. This idea was suggested to me by my hon. Friend the Member for Stretford (Dr. Ernest A. Davies), to whom I am grateful, and I warmly commend it.
If such a scheme were operated, one would not expect this ballot to be more than a guide to the National Lottery Board in the allocation of its proceeds, because it would be wrong for the Board, whose members I would expect to consist of people with an extremely great knowledge and judgment of what needs to be done, to be completely bound by the results of such a ballot. However, I feel that they would find it a most useful guide.
In conclusion, I thank the House for giving me this opportunity to present this Bill. I hope that it will find favour in the eyes of a majority of hon. Members, because of the great benefits which can undoubtedly flow from such a scheme. I hope, too, that if the House supports the general principles of the 1721 Bill by granting it a Second Reading, the Government will see that this intention is brought to a successful fruition. So many countries benefit from such schemes that it is time the British public benefited from the large funds available for medical research and other purposes. I commend the Bill to the House.
§ 11.28 a.m.
§ Sir Gerald Nabarro (Worcestershire, South)
I am sure the whole House is grateful to the hon. Member for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn) for giving us an opportunity to discuss what is a very controversial but nevertheless an important topic in view of the condition of our national finance.
I oppose this Bill. I dislike the concept of a national lottery and I particularly dislike the absolute power for distribution of funds being placed in the hands of a cabal, appointed by the Home Siecretary—another nationalised board. I will deal with that aspect of the matter later.
I declare at once my own personal attitude to gambling. I received a letter yesterday morning as the result of a television appearance which I made with the hon. Member for Cleveland on Tuesday evening, in which one of the viewers of our programme said that he is shocked to think that I oppose a National Lottery Bill when I am known myself to be a gambler.
Of course, I am a gambler in many spheres in my own personal activities. I gamble with money very sparingly and on very infrequent occasions. I have a bet every year on the Grand National because I love steeple-chasing. I have a bet very year on the Derby because of my profound belief in the supremacy of British bloodstock. I am a supporter of British blood sports, and that is one way of manifesting it. I always have 100 guineas on the appropriate candidate at by-elections on the best terms that I can obtain from my favourite bookmakers, who are Ladbrokes. I do this, and I am publicly seen to do it. It is an honest investment. I do it to make money. I invariably do make money, but I do not gamble with money that I cannot afford. I do not speculate with money that I cannot afford to lose, and I never invest more money than I can afford to at any given moment.
1722 I have no objection to gambling in a modest and balanced fashion, and the Churches recognise this. As an Anglican churchman, I support the generally accepted views of the Anglican Church that there is nothing highly immoral about gambling. Many churches promote lotteries of their own to assist their own finances for rebuilding churches, for attending to the fabric of churches, and for various religious objectives, all of which I believe are worthy.
I do not deprecate the fact that the Churches' Commission on Gambling recognises this fact and puts it fairly when it says:The principle involved in this question"—that is of State lotteries—concerns the churches. Some denominations use gambling to a considerable degree for raising funds. Others do so only moderately, and still others not at all. Those who use lotteries usually defend their practice as follows:a they do not consider gambling wrong in itself, only when taken to excess, using money which in justice ought to be used for some other purpose; and the forms they use are conducive to moderation, not to excess.b these methods are necessary because the church requires more money than it can otherwise raise for schools and churches; at the same time many who do so are not proud of using such methods and even deplore the necessity.That is the view taken by many sections of the Catholic Church.
Having declared my attitude to this matter, I want to pass to general considerations in the Bill, and, I hope, correct the hon. Member for Cleveland in two highly misleading statements. He said that there was overwhelming support for the Bill. There is no evidence of that. There is no overwhelming support for a national lottery. The matter has never been adequately tested. It certainly has never been made a point of particular and specific controversy, for example at a General Election.
The most that has been done, other than a Gallup Poll taken in a very limited field, and not when the Bill was before the House, has been generally to canvass the type of question analogous to, "Do you beat your wife on Saturday nights?". The question has been, "Are you in favour of an Irish sweepstake?" and a lot of unthinking people say, "Yes, I am" because they conjure up visions of those one or two lucky people 1723 who on one throw of the dice, then go to Grosvenor House and collect £240,000 tax-free, or some similar large sum from a small investment in a football pool, thereby showing a huge return, more than any honest workman can earn after paying his taxes during the whole of his working life. If anything is wrong with our society, it is that.
To translate that kind of gambling enterprise from private hands to State hands, thereby sanctifying it, hallowing it, with all the stature and respect which is due to the State in its manifold forms, seems to me morally and politically wrong, and I will have none of it. I do not believe that there is overwhelming support for a national lottery as the hon. Gentleman proclaimed in the earlier stages of his speech.
Secondly, the hon. Gentleman used most curious words—hyperbole they were—when he referred to the "tremendous record of State lotteries abroad", and went on to talk about Jersey. Jersey has 48,000 people. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has 54,000,000. Jersey is less than one-thousandth of the size of the United Kingdom in terms of population. Jersey is a special and isolated case. Jersey has all kinds of laws which we do not have. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to enunciate the principle that because Jersey has a lottery the United Kingdom should have one, perhaps he will stand on his head and say that because Jersey has corporal punishment, the United Kingdom should have it; because Jersey has capital punishment, the United Kingdom should have it. There is no valid comparison whatever between that tiny holiday island and the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. Tinn
I shall not stand on my head, but stand on my feet and say that surely the success of a lottery in so small an island supports the running of a lottery in this country. However, if the hon. Gentleman would like a better comparison, perhaps I might tell him that Spain raised total stakes of £88 million in 1966, and has been operating such a scheme for a long time. Many countries, including Australia, run lotteries.
§ Sir G. Nabarro
There are only two countries in the world which are com- 1724 parable to Britain. The first is the United States of America, and the second is Soviet Russia. These are the only two that I would consider as useful analogies. Spain is a country of extremes in her social arrangements, of riches on the one hand, and extreme poverty on the other. Spain, relatively, is a very poor country. The whole of Australia does not run national lotteries, only certain states do.
§ Sir Stephen McAdden (Southend, East)
Perhaps my hon. Friend will reflect that, as Jersey has such a low rate of taxation, the people there probably have more money to spend than we have.
§ Sir G. Nabarro
That is, perhaps, an argument, but I do not for the moment want to get involved in taxes. I want to draw the attention of the House to the hon. Gentleman's violent exaggeration in using the words "the tremendous record abroad". There is no tremendous record abroad of State lotteries. Small, and often relatively insignificant, countries support this principle. No major Power runs a State lottery, and I would deplore a major Power of the stature of our country engaging in this kind of activity.
Secondly, I want to pass to the scale of gambling in Britain. The hon. Gentleman mentioned a figure of £2,000 million per annum as the aggregation of all stakes, that is the totality of all stakes, in every form of gambling. I think that the figure is greatly exaggerated. Nobody knows the precise figure, for the State has not succeeded in bringing in a form of taxation on gambling which is both universal and ubiquitous. My information is that the aggregation of gambling, the totality of stakes, is nearer £1,200 million, and this is the figure which I propose to employ for my arguments today.
I occupy, if I may say so, a unique position in this House in relation to gambling. I have never take the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Sir C. Black) with regard to gambling. Though I deeply respect his view, I could not identify myself with it. My view, urged on successive Conservative Chancellors of the Exchequer from 1959 to 1964, has always been that gambling, like adultery, cannot be made illegal.
§ Sir G. Nabarro
The hon. Gentleman says that that is what he thinks. If he supports the view that adultery can be made illegal in a modern society, he is behaving in a fashion which denotes that he is rather behind the times; 20 to 30 years out of date.
§ Sir Cyril Black (Wimbledon)
Unconsciously my hon. Friend is misrepresenting my position. I have never suggested that gambling could be made illegal. I have pressed upon various Governments the wisdom of taxing gambling as a means of containing it.
§ Sir G. Nabarro
I am sorry. I did not mean to imply that my hon. Friend had suggested that gambling could be made illegal. His view on gambling is more moralistic than mine. I believe that 1 am correct in saying that he never gambles.
§ Sir G. Nabarro
That is the difference between us. My hon. Friend never gambles; I gamble infrequently. But no law created by Parliament could end gambling or adultery. I recognise that gambling proliferates. I have therefore taken the view throughout my Parliamentary life that it is preposterous that the necessities of life should be heavily taxed whereas gambling activities, a major industry in Britain today, escape with practically no taxation.
In 1966 my position was unique. My party voted, on a Whip, against the Government in Committee on the Finance Bill for imposing a 2½ per cent. overall tax on gambling. I crossed the Floor of the House and voted with the Government because their putting an overall tax of 2½ per cent. on gambling was a beginning. I wanted a tax of 10 per cent. I say quite unequivocally that for every £1 staked I would take 2s. for the State. That is the kind of scale of taxation on gambling that I have always advocated.
Today not only are the gambling taxes insufficient; they are not universal. For example, we tax the football pools at 25 per cent.; we tax greyhound racing at 10 per cent; we tax gambling generally, including horse racing, at 2½ per 1726 cent., and we have a special duty on gaming machines, and club licences. In the year 1967–68 the football pools betting duty will raise £35 million; the general betting duty will raise £30 million, including the yield from the greyhound tracks; from gaming machines there will be a further £3 million, and from gaming club licences £2 million. The total derived from gambling will be about £70 million.
That figure of £70 million, related to the turnover that I postulate, of £1,200 million, represents a rate of tax of about 6 per cent. I say that if additional aid is needed for medical, welfare, charitable and associated purposes the State should provide it from the general fund of tax revenue. I do not want it to be derived from a separate National Lottery Board. First, I would have the State raise the level of duty in respect of all gambling and, secondly, make the incidence of duty uniform over the whole field of gambling. I see no reason why football pools should pay 25 per cent., greyhound tracks 10 per cent., and horse racing 2½ per cent. Why are football pools, metaphorically speaking, 10 times as immoral as horse racing?
§ Sir G. Nabarro
People do lose at football pools. That is on one side. We ought to recognise that gambling exists and should be taxed both ubiquitously and on a uniform scale. Were that done on the scale that I have always suggested—at a rate of 10 per cent.—a sum far larger than that available from a national lotteries fund would be available from the general taxpayers' revenue, and the application of that sum would be in the hands of Parliament. It would be for the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his Treasury colleagues, year by year, to delineate in the Budget and the Finance Bill how those sums of money should be applied and distributed for all the desirable purposes which the hon. Member for Cleveland related to the House.
The hon. Member did not tug at my heartstrings when he talked about medical research and the need to help the victim of cancer, or kidney diseases, or any other medical ailment that afflicts 1727 society. My hon. Friends and I who oppose the Bill are at one with the hon. Member in these humanitarian objectives. What we quarrel about is the way in which he seeks to deal with the problem. We do not believe that a lottery is the way to do it. We want to bring succour to the people suffering from these diseases and also to enlarge the revenue of the Treasury which is derived from gambling. We regard it as an almost untapped source of revenue, that should be further taxed. Why should we not obtain £4 million more from gambling duties and maximise income and surtax at 15s. in the £?
§ Mr. Gwilym Roberts (Bedfordshire, South)
Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that he is making the case for the Bill? He has indicated that both he and I are uncertain about the total amount spent on gambling because of the varied nature and forms of gambling, such as bingo, one-armed bandits, pools, racing, and so on. If taxation could be applied to gambling on a much higher scale and in a national manner, I would be the first to agree that the Bill would not be necessary.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Member may be exhausting his right to speak if his intervention goes on much longer.
§ Sir G. Nabarro
I hope that the hon. Member will not tell us what Sir Winston Churchill said in 1926 about collecting revenues from gambling taxes. It is years out of date. We can collect most of these revenues now. Nothing has surprised Treasury Ministers more—notably the Treasury Minister opposite—than the yield from the 2½ per cent. betting duty, which has been vastly in excess of the sum estimated by the Chancellor who brought it in in 1966. It is being effectively applied, and today all betting duties could effectively be applied.
I hope that we shall not have a long argument about Premium Bonds. They represent a form of National Savings, and they differ essentially from the staking of money in lottery tickets and in other ways, because it is not possible to lose one's stake in a Premium Bond. The holder is gambling only with the relatively small and marginal amount of the annual interest that would otherwise accrue were he the holder of a National 1728 Savings Certificate. The stake vested in the Premium Bond is there, intact. It is not lost. Only the interest forms the speculative element. In a national lottery, on the other hand, many people will lose large sums of money every week, and a few people will benefit.
§ Mr. David Weitzman (Stoke Newington and Hackney, North) rose——
§ Mr. Speaker
I have no power to stop interventions, but they prolong speeches, and I would remind the House that a number of hon. Members wish to speak today. Mr. Weitzman.
§ Mr. Weitzman
Surely the hon. Member's argument relates to a question of degree and not of principle.
§ Sir G. Nabarro
I think that it is a matter of principle, because one is only losing the interest and the stake is in tact. It is not gambling with the actual investment. What many of us dislike about the scale of gambling is that it often threatens the family life of people of relatively weak moral fibre. As that kind of person, notably lower-paid workers, is highly susceptible to the super doorstep salesman offering attractive hire purchase terms, so he is equally susceptible to gambling——
§ Mr. John Wells (Maidstone)
Surely there is a fundamental fallacy in my hon. Friend's claim that the stake in Premium Bonds is intact. With inflation under the present Government, the stake is far from intact.
§ Sir G. Nabarro
I will not go into those general considerations now, though no doubt they will come up later. I have no moral objection to gambling frugally, infrequently, rationally and reasonably, but if we are to recognise gambling on today's scale, the revenue from gambling should be derived by the Treasury and the funds used, as the relatively small revenue from gambling is at present used, for the purposes wanted by the promotors of the Bill, not by the specialised means of a national lottery, and distributed by the centralised Lottery Board.
Finally, I object strongly to the proposed nature of the National Lottery Board. The hon. Member has a pathetic belief in the sanctity of State boards. This proposition is analogous to the National Coal Board, the electricity 1729 boards and the gas boards and all the boards associated with public enterprises. They are remote from and largely unaccountable to Parliament and it would be singularly dangerous to extract funds for medical, welfare and charitable purposes from any State lottery by this means. Every one of the 630 Members of the House could, I presume, go to the National Lottery Board and say, "I have a medical research unit in my constituency which urgently needs funds. Please may I have some money from the National Lottery?"—[An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"] Because there are tens of thousands of worthy causes in this country and this cabal will sit in judgment to decide who should have the money, why they should and how much they should have. And they will be entirely bereft of Parliamentary accountability.
Whenever I write to a member of a nationalised board about a public matter he may tell me to mind my own business—[An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] I am speaking in a non-party political sense, because there are as many Socialists—the hon. Gentleman, who has only been here a year or two, may not yet have ascertained this—who feel far more strongly than I about the inaccessibility of nationalised boards, and about the fact that they are laws unto themselves and will not account to Members of Parliament for what they do, and that we have no Parliamentary time to debate their activities—[Interruption.] The hon. Member may jibe at me, but I note that many of his colleagues are warmly supporting my view—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. Interruptions prolong speeches, sedentary interruptions especially. Many hon. Members wish to speak.
§ Sir G. Nabarro
I particularly object to the form of board which the Bill proposes and the patronage which it would distribute to medical research and welfare undertakings, which would be absolutely in the Board's hands, unchallengeable by Parliament. It would be a cabal, and, above all, it would be appointed by the Home Secretary, thus giving even greater patronage to Ministers who already have too much. I am 1730 very much opposed to their patronage and powers being increased.
For all these reasons, I shall vote against the Bill today, and I enjoin many hon. Members of all parties to do the same. I hope that the Treasury Bench will proclaim themselves against the Bill, because, although I want more revenue taken by the State from this huge sum wagered all over the country in proliferating gaming and gambling, I want it taken in taxation and distributed and deployed by the Treasury and within the Budget, and carried into effect by the Finance Bill. I hope that we shall win the day.
§ 11.56 a.m.
§ Mr. David Weitzman (Stoke Newington and Hackney, North)
If I had been tempted to oppose the Bill, I would have been persuaded by the argument of the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) to support it.
The Bill appears in a week when strong opinions have been expressed in the Court of Appeal about gaming, which led to the postponement of discussion by the House of the new Gaming Bill. I emphasise that Parliament must consider this matter. A court of law is not a court of morals. True, we pay attention to the criticisms of judges just as we do to those from other quarters, but I deprecate the danger of accepting the criticisms of courts as part of the law. To condemn people without hearing their case and to talk of the day of reckoning as coming to them, and, by implication, to chastise lawyers for trying to put their clients' case by advancing what are called refined arguments—though, curiously enough, they were said to be accepted—are, in my view, undeserved observations.
What does the Bill do? It seeks to legalise a lottery run by a National Lottery Board appointed by the State. The hon. Member for Worcestershire, South criticised the Board as being another nationalised industry, so to speak. But when we run this sort of thing, it must be done in the best form, and I suggest that that is the form proposed by the Bill. The proceeds, apart from prize money and expenses, would be devoted to medical research, charitable organisations and other social and welfare purposes. Even the hon. Member said that these objects were very worthy.
1731 It is all very well to talk of the State providing money by taxation for these things, but we are dealing with a practical measure and not one which might appear in some years. The Bill could result in great support for these worthy objectives; the hon. Member criticised methods—the degree and not the principle.
Presumably the main objection is that the Bill will encourage gambling and that the State will lend its authority to the venture. But are we not being hypocritical in this matter? The State already countenances gambling. It is all very well for the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South to dismiss the analogy to Premium Bonds, but that is gambling and the State takes part in it. The State also takes its stake in taxing gambling, including the Pools, horse betting, payments for licences for casinos and gaming machines. It is therefore a question of degree and not of morals.
Thousands of millions of pounds are spent in Britain on gambling. The British people, generally speaking, like a gamble and one cannot suppress it. Like the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South, I agree that one cannot make gaming illegal, just as one cannot make adultery illegal. If one endeavoured to apply a form of suppression in this matter, gambling would be driven underground, and then it would become the subject matter of criminal activities. The way to deal with gaming is to say that, in whatever form it takes place, it must be properly conducted and under proper supervision.
I was interested in the remarks of the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South about the state lotteries of other countries. However, he under-stated the case because a great many countries run state lotteries and I do not believe that they are any the worse, from a moral point of view, for that.
The projects to which the proceeds would be devoted are worthy causes. Tremendous sums are needed for, for example, medical research. The argument that every constituency would make out a case for receiving some of the proceeds, and that the board would have thousands of cases to consider, does not hold water. No doubt thousands of cases would be put to the Board, but they 1732 could be sorted out and it would be up to the Board to decide which to support. It is certainly not an argument for opposing the Bill. Many charitable bodies are crying out for funds to be devoted to worthy causes. A large number of social organisations, including those which support the aged, could be helped in this way.
Like many hon. Members, I have often deplored the paucity of assistance given by the State to many of these worthy objectives. It is all very well to say that this can be achieved by taxation and in other ways, but that is never done. We must consider this from a practical point of view and see if it can be done in this way. Let us not be hypocritical about this whole matter. Because I refuse to be hypocritical, I support the Bill.
§ 12.3 p.m.
§ Sir Cyril Black (Wimbledon)
It must be a long time since the House was asked to give a Second Reading to a Bill with such an almost complete absence of information about what is proposed. We are asked to approve in principle the setting up of a national lottery when we have been given no indication of, for example, the price of the tickets, the size of the prizes and the chance that a ticket will have of winning a prize. Not even an estimate has been hazarded of the costs of this undertaking and the net sum that would be available at the end of the day.
Parliament is being asked to buy a pig in a poke and I am amazed that hon. Gentlemen opposite could possibly find themselves able to support the Bill because its results, if it became law, would be the very negation of the principles for which they have stood through the years. I have always understood that the historic policy of Socialism was to secure what is sometimes claimed to be "the more equitable distribution of property"—which means, in practice, the making of the rich poorer and the making of the poor richer. That is an understandable and intelligible principle, whether or not one agrees with its application.
Be that as it may, I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite to realise that the result of a national lottery would be the exact opposite of that policy, because a national lottery takes small sums of money from 1733 many people and distributes large sums to the few. The effect of a national lottery tends to make the poor poorer and to create a very small number of rich people who have done nothing in social term to justify the wealth which has unexpectedly come into their possession. A lottery is a false ground for distribution, both because those who receive have done nothing to deserve it and because most prize winners would not, in any case, be able to make the best use of their prizes.
There is one notable absentee from the House today. His absence causes me regret and a measure of surprise. I refer to the Prime Minister because he as much as any hon. Member is wholly committed on the principle of the Bill. I remind the House of the line which he took when Premium Bonds were introduced. I will not argue the case of Premium Bonds vis-a-vis a national lottery, apart from saying that if it be agreed that both contain an element of gambling, then, on moral grounds, a national lottery is clearly more objectionable than a Premium Bond.
I was with the present Prime Minister in his opposition to the introduction of Premium Bonds. I spoke against their introduction at the time and I can claim to be consistent in being here today to oppose what is obviously a more objectionable proposal than the introduction of Premium Bonds. On that occasion the present Prime Minister said:Now Britain's strength, freedom and solvency apparently depend on the proceeds of a squalid raffle".—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 18th April, 1956; Vol. 551, c. 1026.]He said at the time that the proposal to introduce Premium Bonds was a proposal for a State lottery. He referred to many people who were strongly opposed to the creation of a State lottery, adding:I am bound to say that this is the particular group in which I find myself.He also said:… I still believe that the decision of the Chancellor to have recourse to the proposal in this day and age is repugnant and degrading".The right hon. Gentleman said:That is why, in our view"—speaking on behalf of hon. Gentlemen oppositethe Clause represents not so much a personal as a national demoralisation".1734 It is also significant to note that a majority of the members of the present Cabinet went into the Lobby against the introduction of Premium Bonds when they were first introduced in this House.
I am naturally glad to see the Financial Secretary to the Treasury here. I hope that he has been given a clear mandate by the Prime Minister to give expression once again in equally emphatic terms to the Prime Minister's moral objection and indignation at this Bill. I would have expected the Prime Minister to be here in person, his voice vibrant with indignation while he protested at the proposals of the Bill, and I am bound to say that his absence in the circumstances is deeply to be deplored.
I believe it to be a tragedy that good charitable objectives such as have been described should, even in the course of discussion in this House, be tarnished by reference to a national lottery. I was brought up to believe that there are no finer or more moral words in the English language than those which constitute the proud claim of many of the foremost charities—"Supported entirely by voluntary contributions". If great charities have got to sink to seeking the support of the proceeds of a national lottery, then, I say, so much the worse for those charities.
But has consideration been given as to how much of the proceeds the charities would be likely to get? Charities which incur unduly heavy expenses in raising their funds are quite rightly and properly criticised for that, and any costs of raising charitable funds which would exceed, say, 2s. in the £ of the money raised would be regarded as excessive and open to criticism. But the fact is that, if one studies the figures for those countries where national lotteries have been introduced, one finds that, on average, the amount received by the State or by the charities is, in some cases, as small as 2s. and that in a few cases only does it reach as much as 6s. in the £. This is to say that the amount that goes in expenses and in prizes ranges from 14s. to 18s. in the £ from country to country and that the national revenue or the charities benefit only to the extent of from 2s. to 6s.
It is said by the hon. Member for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn) and other supporters of the Bill that no moral principle 1735 is involved in this matter. We have been told in support of the Bill thatA national lottery would be a form of voluntary taxation. … It would appear unreasonable to oppose a national lottery on grounds of principle, since the State already benefits from gambling, and has even introduced an element of gambling into the National Savings scheme.On the latter point, I would say that two wrongs do not make a right. But there is, I am convinced, a confusion of thought in this argument. I agree, with regret, with my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) that the abolition of gambling by the imposition of legal sanctions is obviously impossible. It is something that no Government could contemplate, and if they did the policy would be incapable of execution.
But there is a difference between regretting the fact that gambling takes place on the scale that it does and seeking to contain it and to tax it so that the community may benefit from its proceeds, and the State itself going into business to promote gambling opportunities and, therefore, to try and secure as much money for gambling purposes as it can.
I have always accepted the view that it is better to tax people's follies than to tax their virtues and the whole system of taxation at present comes under my disapprobation because it seeks to tax virtues and not follies. The man who works harder and the man who saves money are excessively taxed, while those who engage in the folly of gambling get away, as my hon. Friend has said, with an altogether inadequate contribution to the national Exchequer. Down the years, I have been with other hon. Members on several occasions to successive Chancellors of the Exchequer to advocate the policy of taxing gambling and taxing it on an ever-increasing scale, and that is the policy I advocate to the Financial Secretary today as an alternative to the proposals in this undesirable Bill.
I want to say a few words about experience with State lotteries in other countries, since the hon. Member for Cleveland referred to this. I have already mentioned the small yields to charities or national Exchequers and the high expenses which disfigure the accounts of most of the national lotteries. It is no 1736 argument to say that, because a large amount of money goes into a State lottery in a country which is one of the poorest in Europe, we should seek to reduce the standard of living of people here by adopting a similar experiment.
But even where State lotteries have been adopted in places where, above all others, we might have expected them to prosper, in many cases the success has been minimal or non-existent. Only recently, there has been the State lottery in the State of New York. There is a wealthy and sophisticated community, and if the Americans are good at anything it is at extracting money by any enterprise upon which they embark in which the extraction of money is the purpose of the operation. I have here a letter of 6th December from the Controller of the State of New York about recent experience there. He writes:As you know, New York State has had a State-sponsored lottery for about six months. It was enacted as a source of funds for our public schools. As you undoubtedly know also, the lottery has proved to be pretty much a disappointment. This has given a small spurt to a reconsideration of legalised off-track betting. And so the search for badly needed public funds goes on and on.That is perhaps one of the most recent experiences available to us of an experiment on the lines of a State lottery in perhaps the part of the world where, above all others, such an enterprise might be expected to be successful and to prosper.
I want now to turn to the attitude of the Churches on this matter. I think that I have read all the literature put out by the churches about a State lottery, and I believe that they have approached the matter not in any doctrinaire spirit but have produced a closely-reasoned argument. They have set out on the one side what are the merits which appeal to some people in this proposal, and on the other hand they have set out the reasons which have led them to conclude that the introduction of a State lottery ought to be opposed.
I am not going to read at length from the document as I realise that our time is limited and that others want to speak, but this is what the Churches have said—and may I say that the organisation which has said this is the Churches' Committee on Gambling, which comprises, I understand, within its membership eminent representatives of every branch 1737 of the Christian Church—the Anglican, the Roman Catholic, and the Free Churches. It is an inter-Church body which exists for the purpose of expressing the view of the Churches in regard to gambling matters. I read only short extracts:Many are convinced that we have more than enough gambling already and it could be understood if the Government resisted pressure for a national lottery on these grounds alone.…The lottery is a very costly and wasteful way of raising money.…Important public works should be rationally and seriously financed and undertaken, and important individual needs rationally and seriously attended to. It cannot be a mark of a mature and responsible society that it should lean unnecessarily on gathering and distributing wealth by chance. The use of a lottery perhaps indicates sophistication rather than maturity. It is based on a short-sighted wisdom. There is more to the building of a society than spending money however wisely. In its operation a lottery tends to be both inefficient and uncharitable.The statement concludes:The Committee hopes that, on such grounds. Parliament will reject the Bill.I come now to my final point and I will not be more than a further minute or two. This proposal on which Parliamentary time is being spent this morning is condemned on the ground of its complete irrelevancy to the present national crisis in which the nation finds itself. This is yet another gimmick in the long line of gimmicks designed to distract attention from the serious situation in which the nation finds itself at this time. We are at the moment in an economic situation more grave than at any time during my 18 years' service in this House. We are passing through a time of toil and tribulation, and there are dark and threatening clouds ahead.
My advice to this House is to this effect, that the Government and Members of this House should concentrate their attention and their speeches in this House and in the country upon the one way out for the nation, the way of harder work, more intelligent work, less easy living, and more saving. A national lottery is an irrelevancy and a meretricious byway. The road to salvation lies in a completely different direction.
§ 12.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Ted Leadbitter (The Hartlepools)
During the speech of the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Sir C. Black) I was 1738 rather intrigued by fairly long passages of it which carried a good deal of sense and, indeed, deep thought, but the speech was spoiled by the prejudice underlying the purpose of his being here today. His last remarks, a call to the nation arising out of his comments about dark days ahead——
§ Mr. Leadbitter
I must say to the hon. Member that we in this country of ours have had far too much talk from Members opposite about the working capacities of the people of Great Britain. It is time it was said to Members on the benches opposite that the British worker is second to none in the world. The British worker does not require exhortations of that kind, particularly in the context of this Bill.
The hon. Member said that this Bill is condemned. I am sorry to inform him that it is condemned only in his own mind. There was an opinion poll carried out by a reputable paper in and from the area in which my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn) resides. I want to quote from it. It carried out public opinion research and asked the following question:Would you be in favour of a national lottery run by the Government of this country?Answer: Yes. Of those who answered, 62 per cent. were in favour and of the men 71 per cent. That opinion does not seem to have altered, for a similar poll took place in 1945, and, as reported by the Daily Express, on that occasion the response was in support of a lottery Some 89 percent. were in favour.
I followed the remarks of the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) in reference to the validity of polls. I think he has a point, but what is clear is that the tapping of public opinion which produces answers of this kind refutes completely the declaration of the hon. Member for Wimbledon that the Bill is condemned. This cannot be the case. Indeed, the natural impulse of people to gamble, to pursue the activities of chance or the principle of a wager, is pretty well established throughout the whole of the country, and I would have thought that by any reasonable test of this kind this natural inclination, if it is correct in 1739 certain fields, cannot be incorrect if it is harnessed to the needs of the State.
The hon. Member then went on to approach this on the lines of morality and tended to get enmeshed in his own arguments. If one produces arguments of that kind one can only come to the conclusion that there is immorality throughout the country in what is a practice up and down the country. The hon. Member, instead of reasoning properly, was injecting prejudice into his thinking, and this is not acceptable in a serious debate such as this in this House.
§ Sir C. Black
Perhaps the hon. Member would tell us whether he disagrees with the reasoning and the arguments of the Prime Minister?
§ Mr. Leadbitter
There are only two points arising from that. First, I am not going to be diverted; and secondly, I am rather surprised that hon. Members opposite should call on the authority of the Prime Minister to help them out. I am rather surprised at that.
There is only one other point about the hon. Member's speech which worries me, and it was the pomposity he showed. He said the poor would become poorer, and that the winners would have done nothing to win their prizes. There are on the benches opposite directors of companies who, I am sure, will not like that. Then he had this to say, that the winners would not know what to do best with their prizes. In other words, the hon. Member is reserving to himself the judgment that he knows what to do with the prizes but that the vast majority of people in this country cannot exercise the same kind of judgment.
§ Sir C. Black
The hon. Gentleman must distinguish between the man who, by the sweat of his brow, builds up a competence, and the man who unexpectedly wins a prize. The man who has the qualities to build up a competence usually has the qualities to use it wisely: the man who gets £100,000 out of the clouds on a football pool usually encompasses his own ruin.
§ Mr. Leadbitter
I cannot allow a statement like that to stick. Many people have assumed a degree of competence who have been perfect asses, while others, 1740 who have never been credited with competence, have shown a large degree of common sense.
I turn from the remarks of the hon. Member for Wimbledon to those of the hon. Member for Worcester——
§ Mr. Leadbitter
If the hon. Gentleman wishes to address me he should rise to his feet to do so, and should not, from that seat, indulge in sneering remarks. Otherwise, I shall report him to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys).
§ Mr. Leadbitter
Like the hon. Member for Wimbledon, the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South said, "I dislike the concept of a national lottery," and then assumed that the House would be prepared to listen to arguments flowing from that declared prejudice. He spoke of, "My personal view on gambling." "I am a gambler," said the hon. Member, "on my own money, sparingly." I suggest that he is a gambler on other people's money, and not sparingly.
He was in a kind of State lottery—and I have waited many months to remind him of it—when a large number of shareholders in my constituency lost thousands of £s in a lottery which I referred to him from time to time. The hon. Member had one 5s. share in a company in my constituency based on £238,000 of public money. The consequence was that he came out with his hands clean, and people in my constituency who went into that kind of lottery lost their money. I refer to Pitchfibre Pipes—
§ Sir G. Nabarro
Mr. Speaker, the facts as enunciated by the hon. Gentleman, and the figures, are entirely false, and should be withdrawn, and so are the personal implications against myself as chairman of a public company.
§ Mr. Speaker
I was about to intervene. The remark should be withdrawn. I deprecate very much the introduction of personal attacks in a debate in this House.
§ Mr. Leadbitter
I am not prepared to withdraw, Mr. Speaker, because I have 1741 my facts right. With great respect, we are discussing a national lottery, and I believe that the principle of risk and chance covers business and insurance and a wide range of gambling. If the hon.Member for Worcestershire, South persists in decrying the merits of this principle of lottery, I am quite in order to counter him by using the same sort of terms to show that where people have taken an element of risk and chance by participating elsewhere, they have lost——
§ Mr. John Hall (Wycombe)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As this argument has nothing to do with the subject of a national lottery, and as certain imputations have been made which very seriously affect my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro), should not the hon. Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. Leadbitter) withdraw his remarks?
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. Leadbitter) is in order in arguing that company promotions and some other forms of business activity are lotteries, but he should withdraw the personal allusion.
§ Mr. Leadbitter
With respect, Mr. Speaker, I will follow your request provided I have made it clear that the facts I have stated—first, that many people who were shareholders lost their money and, second, that that result arose from the use of public moneys——
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman must listen to what I have said. He is in order in arguing that the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) is taking an inconsistent position if he objects to national lotteries when company promotion has something of the same nature, but he must withdraw the personally offensive argument that has nothing to do with the debate.
§ Mr. Leadbitter
One of the courtesies of the House is that, if there is an imputa- 1742 tion in that sense, quite properly it should be withdrawn. I only want to make it clear that outside the personal comment, the facts as I put them——
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. Withdrawals are made much better if they are done wholeheartedly. The hon. Member must withdraw.
§ Mr. Leadbitter
In order to get on with the debate, Mr. Speaker, and because you have been patient in explaining the matter, I readily do withdraw the remark.
On the morality of the principle of a lottery, the Churches have shown a far greater degree of tolerance than have many Parliamentarians. The change has been quite clear over the past two decades. For instance, one would have thought that there might have been some opposition to the Irish sweepstake from a certain section of the Churches, yet this has not been the case, because the rewards from that activity have been very helpful to the Irish hospitals.
Nowadays, the Churches themselves make a great deal of use of lotteries, raffles and other forms of risk-and-chance pursuits in order to produce what they could not otherwise produce—benefits for charities, useful building extensions, youth club facilities, and the like, which they have enjoyed over the past two or three years. The Churches have in many ways accepted gifts flowing from the direct results of gambling. They recognise that one cannot get rid of the long-established practice of taking a chance or, as my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland called it, "a flutter".
The hon. Member for Wimbledon dealt with excess. The argument here is similar to the argument on over-indulgence in drink—it is bad; it should not be tolerated; it should be controlled by law and by other measures—but the fact is that over-indulgence in drink can only be an argument for universal temperance, not for universal teetotallism. Similarly, excess in gambling can only be an argument for, perhaps, measures to bring about temperate conduct in this kind of activity.
Therefore, I assume that what is at stake in this question of a national lottery is not the excess but a redeployment of an already established practice. I put it to the House that when we have done 1743 much, particularly since the war, to control gambling and direct it into the more innocent betting on horses or football teams and get rid of the unhealthy pursuits which exploit innocent people, it has long been established that the British public respond to what are the most temperate parts of the gambling instincts. As to the matter of excess, it is better to rely upon the public to make their own good judgment.
We have heard about the rewards of this activity. There is no doubt in my mind, nor in the minds of many hon. Members, that there is much which can be done to help the hospitals, to help cancer research, and to help a vast range of people requiring the maximising of our social and welfare services. It is not improper if the general high character of the people of our country can be taken for granted—and surely it must be—that those same people should require the maximisation of these services. All that this House has to do is to rely upon the nation to behave properly in this matter because only by an element of trust in the British people can we get this redeployment of the gambling instinct into the right direction.
Therefore I hope that the House will accept the Bill. There is much to commend it. When we come to moral arguments, we cannot escape the fact that the gambling instinct is there and it is there to stay. Moderation of it is best judged by the people themselves. We cannot legislate for excess; that is quite impossible. We can legislate to limit forms of gambling, the ones which are more anti-social, but we cannot legislate for excess. We cannot say in legislation that is a good thing for a man to put half a crown on a football pool but he shall not put a pound on a pool. We should discourage it and say that gambling is a nauseating form of activity if it is carried to excess, but that can be done only; by education and common-sense.
Legislation by itself to deal with this element of gambling is no more useful than no legislation. The positive part of this element of dealing with excess is to rely on the judgment of the British nation. Often we forget this. We legislate for far too many things which the British people can do for themselves. The Bill merely gives the State an opportunity 1744 to use the best judgment of the British people so that in that exercise they can direct through their activity the fruits of; natural instinct without excess for the benefit of services which require financial support.
§ 12.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Tim Fortescue (Liverpool, Garston)
I rise with some trepidation from this side of the House in view of the big guns who have gone before me, and must make my position clear at the outset. I support this Bill. I support it for several reasons. The least, perhaps, is my friendship for the hon. Member for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn) whose Bill it is, a friendship forged in the white heat, not of modern technology, but of Saudi Arabia, where we were together for three weeks. There alcohol is forbidden. The penalty for having an alcoholic drink in Saudi Arabia is to have one's right hand cut off. The penalty for gambling I cannot imagine. I am sure it would involve certain unpleasant consequences for other parts of one's body.
My hon. Friends who have spoken before me have both made sincere speeches, but I do not believe that those speeches were effective in opposing this Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro), whom I am sorry to see is not now in his place, made it perfectly clear that he was in favour of gambling, provided that gambling was carried out "frugally, infrequently, rationally and reasonably." That seems about as good a definition of taking part in a national lottery as we shall hear in this House this afternoon. No one, I think, has ever been bankrupted or made to go on the poverty line through buying a ticket in a national lottery in any country in the world. If there has been such a case, it has not come to my notice and it has not been publicised.
A national lottery is about as reasonable and frugal a method of gambling as one could find. When we add to that frugality the good which such a lottery can do, there is a great deal to be said for it. My hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South said that his estimate of the amount of money spent on gambling in a year was £1,200 million, which is about £25 for every man, woman and child in the country. Many 1745 people do not gamble. My hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Sir C. Black) is one, and I myself do not, although I do not call that in aid. This £1,200 million is spent by a proportion of the people, not by everyone. Those people who like to gamble would certainly be attracted by the idea of a national lottery. We saw very recently when horse racing had to be stopped in this country because of foot-and-mouth how gamblers had to gamble on something. They had to gamble on Paris races and then on imaginary races invented by the newspapers. This urge to gamble is irresistible. It should be used as much as possible to help those who wish to raise money for charitable purposes.
My hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South said that this proposal would involve another nationalised Board and he is opposed to nationalised boards. So am I, but the great difference between this board and the others would be that this one could not lose money. That in a nationalised board is a quality devoutly to be hoped for. My hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon, whose conscience I respect and whose views I know are sincerely held, has been completely consistent in his opposition to gambling in all forms. I respect this very much. I hope that I will be as consistent during my years in this House as he has been, but I must disagree with his views entirely.
I am delighted to find that in this matter, disagreeing with him as strongly as I do, I do not have to call in aid the example of the Prime Minister because I would have found that exceedingly difficult. I shall take up one or two points my hon. Friend made and try to refute them. He said that one of the greatest glories of charitable organisations in this country is that they are financed entirely by voluntary contributions. He used that as an argument against a national lottery, but any contribution to a national lottery would be entirely voluntary. No one will force lottery tickets down the throats of the public. Only those who wish to contribute to the lottery would do so. If by the sum of their contributions, they managed to raise large sums of money for charity, those would be just as 1746 voluntary as any other kind of contribution.
My hon. Friend said that a national lottery would reduce the standard of living of the people. I am entirely unable to follow that argument. If £1,200 million is contributed to gambling now, and the standards of living in this country is still one of the highest in the world, I fail to see how the purchase of a few lottery tickets by people who wish to have a flutter would reduce the standard of living.
My hon. Friend said that there was one way out of our present difficulties. That way was to work harder. Why is there only one way out? There must be hundreds and they should all be tried at once. It is just as much prejudice to say that there is one way out and no other as to say that a national lottery is something which should commend itself to everyone's conscience.
Both my hon. Friends said that the correct alternative to a national lottery would be to tax gambling more heavily. With that I agree entirely. I agree that the present position over taxation of gambling is anomalous and almost ridiculous. It is inconsistent as between one form of gambling and another. It is not high enough, certainly in the case of betting on horse racing which should bring to the national Exchequer far more income. I agree on that point with my hon. Friends, but it would still not bring in enough money. We shall still need more money. I find it remarkable and almost absurd that hon. Members on this side of the House, who have all in their time expressed themselves in utter opposition to the increase of direct taxation, should automatically decry this means of raising money which could well lead eventually to a reduotion of direct taxation.
We have in this country at the moment the real crunch of political difference between the two parties. On this side of the House we say that one of the best ways to get us out of our economic difficulties would be to reduce direct taxation, to restore incentives and so on. On the other side of the House hon. Members say perfectly sincerely, "No. We must tax people more; that is the way out of our difficulties. We must collect more money from the people and distribute it from the centre." This 1747 deeply-held difference between the two parties has been one of the bugbears of our political system for some time because in between, in this crunch, nothing gets done. We neither collect enough money for the services that we try to provide, nor do we bring down taxation to the level where a proper incentive is provided.
Here we have in this proposal a suggestion whereby money can be added to the national income for social, charitable and medical purposes, which would not be bedevilled by this difference of view between the parties, which would be available freely to objectives with which we are all in sympathy. I fail to see how those people who believe—and I think every hon. Member believes—that there are many things wrong with our social services which can only be put right by having more money available, can object to raising money in this way.
My two hon. Friends who have spoken—good luck to them; they are lucky people—come from pleasant well-heeled constituencies. Worcestershire, South is a place where I should very much like to live. Wimbledon is part of the subtopia of London suburbia. I come from a Liverpool constituency where, in some places, the poverty and the hardship almost make one cry. There are in my constituency schools which should have been pulled down and rebuilt 50 years ago, which are still in use and will continue in use for a long time. There are housing conditions of which we should all be ashamed.
The reason why these things are not put right—there are many other things—is that the Exchequer does not have enough money to put them right. We have heard in recent weeks that the putting right of these conditions is to be delayed for longer than otherwise would have been the case. It is because I come from this kind of constituency, because I have seen what should and could be done if more money were available, that I have the greatest pleasure in supporting this Bill.
§ 12.53 p.m.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)
I have had the greatest difficulty in coming to a conclusion on how I should cast my vote on this Bill, but on balance I 1748 have come to the conclusion that I ought to be against it.
I have found this difficulty for this reason. When my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn) first told me of his intention to introduce such a Bill, I expressed some sympathy with his aims. I have long held that we gamble too much in this country and I believe that gambling is basically anti-social. But we have come to a situation where gambling has now proliferated to an extent which is unknown anywhere else in the world.
Those hon. Members who have drawn attention to other national lottery schemes in other countries fail to recognise that in many of those countries the national lottery is the only means of gambling provided, and that by law every other means of gambling has been prohibited. But in this country every possible means of gambling save this has now been legalised, and advantage has been taken of this legality to the extent that we are now consuming in this form of expenditure something like 7 per cent. of our gross national income, if the hon. Gentleman's figures about the extent of gambling are to be accepted as correct. To me, 7 per cent. seems to be very high—far too high—for the good of the nation as a whole.
When my hon. Friend first broached the subject to me I felt that it was perhaps better, if this amount of gambling was going on and this amount of money was being expended, that the State should tap it to a greater extent than it had previously because it was better that the money which was produced as a result of the gambling should go to social purnoses rather than to the private profit of those who at present run gaming.
On reflection, I think there are flaws in that argument which have brought me against the Bill. The flaws seem to me to be these. The 1960 Bill was introduced as but a moderate extension of gambling in this country, justified on the grounds that this was what people wanted to do—to have a little flutter in a small way—and that we were not entitled to stand in the face of their wishes. What happened? Everybody knows that the 1960 Act was one of the worst pieces of legislation which had been put on the Statute Book. The fact of the matter was that it went too far, and the Churches' Committee on Gambling warned that it would go 1749 too far. It is correct to say that if that Committee had been prejudiced, if it had been wrong on any other aspect of its propaganda against gaming, it was basically right in its expression of opinion about the extent to which gambling would flourish once the 1960 legislation was passed.
We now have an enormous expansion of gambling. When my hon. Friend the Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. Leadbitter) was talking about the difficulty of legislating against gambling, he used words which, although I accept the principle, were singularly inept for his conclusion. He sought to say that it is not possible to legislate against excess. I accept that one cannot legislate completely against the evil. We cannot prohibit gambling any more than we can prohibit adultery. But we can certainly legislate against the excess of both if we wish. The virtue of the legislation which is already on the Statute Book about gambling and drink is that it tries to introduce a limit to some extent. The difficulty about the 1960 legislation was that it threw the floodgates open far too wide.
What will happen as a result of the National Lottery Bill? If I believed that what was going to happen was that a substantial part of the money which is now used for gambling for other objects was going to be diverted into these socially desirable objects. I would vote for this Bill. But I do not believe that will be the effect. I believe the effect of this Bill will be to open the floodgates still wider, that instead of spending 7 per cent. of the gross national income upon gambling, people will spend a little bit more—perhaps 8 per cent. or 9 per cent.—on gambling.
What is spent on gambling cannot be spent on anything else. It is a form of consumption. It means, therefore, that in so far as this money has been diverted to these purposes and only a percentage of it would go to medical research, a good deal would go out in prizes and would be taken up in administrative costs, this money cannot be used for what is socially desirable. I believe that the nation must come to terms with the whole problem of gambling.
I think that this is a real mood of the moment. The decision of the Court of 1750 Appeal last week, following so closely on the decision of the House of Lords, shows that if the 1960 Act had been properly enforced the extension of gambling would not have been quite as great as it has been. It means that the gambling laws in this country are in a complete mess, and if, as the Government propose, we introduce a system of inspection which will legitimise the present gaming clubs under the present gaming laws, the situation will never be controlled.
I believe that in the present situation the State ought to take a much more interventionist rôle. I believe that the State ought to take over the casinos and the gaming clubs. I believe that we should run them in the way in which they are run in France. By doing this the State will be able to limit and control the extent of gaming, and the money which comes from it can go to socially desirable purposes. I accept this principle, and therefore between my hon. Friend and myself there is no moral barrier. Perhaps we see things in a different light, but on this issue there is no moral barrier between us. Where we differ is about the extent to which the Bill will encourage yet more gambling.
I do not believe that it will be possible ever again to limit and control gambling until the State begins to take an interventionist rôle, and I am happy that the Home Secretary has withdrawn the Gaming Bill so that he can reconsider the whole position. I think that it would have been unfortunate if we had gone ahead with that Bill, in the light of all that the Court of Appeal said. I deprecate the remarks of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Stoke Newington and Hackney, North (Mr. Weitzman) about the decision of the Court of Appeal. It said what the law was as Parliament intended and passed it in 1960. It did no more than declaim, far too late, what ought to have been the state of the law, and the information about the law, in 1960. If the Court of Appeal had made those remarks then, perhaps we should not be in such a mess as we are now.
§ Mr. Fortescue
As the hon. Gentleman is advocating the intervention of the State in gambling matters, would not he agree that a national lottery would 1751 not be inconsistent with such intervention?
§ Mr. Lyon
A national lottery would not be inconsistent with such intervention. Indeed, if my hon. Friend were to include in the Bill a Clause stating that no other form of gambling would be permitted, I would vote for the Bill. If he were to make football pools illegal I would be in favour of the Bill. People could have their flutter on the national lottery, and the money could go to medical research, but I know as well as he does that what will happen is that people will put the same amount money on the football pools, they will spend the same amount of money on gaming machines, they will still have their flutter on bingo, and there will be a bit more for the national lottery.
I believe that even if it does not wreck homes, even if we do not have these tearful stories of the wage earner spending his wage packet before he gets it home—and these cases are rare; I have seen many cases during my practice in the divorce courts where gambling has had some effect on the breakdown of the marriage, but I believe that such cases are rare—the economic argument is unanswerable, because if more resources are devoted to gambling, the same amount of money cannot be diverted to socially desirable purposes.
What the nation has to face is that if we want medical research, this country can afford an extension of it, but only if we are prepared to divert more of our income than we do at the moment into the public sector. The country must get away from this notion that Income Tax is some kind of legalised theft, that it is diverted into cups of tea for civil servants, rather than into the fabric of our social life. If people want better schools, better roads, better hospitals, more medical research, and so on, they have to be prepared to pay for it, and be prepared to pay for it out of taxation. This, ultimately, is the only way in which we can make a proper balance between the kind of expenditure that we can afford.
If I pay for an extra gallon of petrol for my motor car to enable me to have a private jaunt, I make a conscious decision about priorities rather than divert that extra money into providing a better road or providing a better school for my 1752 children. People have to face this fact, and I therefore come back to my original fear. If we encourage an even greater extension of gaming, it will tend to hit against the kind of mood that we want in a community which has got its priorities right. The trouble with the country at the moment is that it has tended to see that each individual is all right, but the community has been left to take the hindmost. The atmosphere is still pervaded by the philosophy of "I'm all right Jack" or "You've never had it so good". What we want, instead, is a plain realisation that if these needs of the country are truly to be satisfied, it requires personal responsibility, personal sacrifice, and personal dedication from every member of the community.
I do not believe that gaming encourages that kind of attitude. I believe that one of the heartening virtues of the present crisis is that, in its better aspects, the "Back Britain" campaign encourages that attitude. It encourages the attitude of seeking personal responsibility for the future, and determining that one will make proper sacrifices to achieve that desirable future. Gambling will not do that, and if the Bill is to extend it, I am against it. If the Bill were to limit it, I would support it. My hon. Friend says that he will amend the Bill to include the necessary Clause. I doubt wheher he will, but if he says that he will, I might be prepared to change my mind. At the moment I am against it.
§ 1.8 p.m.
§ Mr. John Cordle (Bournemouth, East and Christchurch)
I go along with everything the hon. Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) so carefully said in his excellent speech. I, too, take the view that gambling is anti-social, and I do so on several grounds. First, I was brought up in a home which respected the old-fashioned view—on which I am sorry to think, the Church of England has widened its view—that, basically, gambling is not in the best interests of people because they tend to depend on it rather than to depend on themselves and their own resources, and, indeed, upon their Creator. I know that this sounds reactionary and old-fashioned, and one tends immediately to be dubbed a killjoy, but the underlying facts remain clear to my mind, and I believe, as the hon. Gentleman so rightly 1753 and properly said, that the Bill will not make for a better nation.
In his opening remarks, the hon. Member for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn) said that the main objection to the Bill was on moral grounds. It has been said in the debate that the Church has virtually embodied gambling within its own activities, and that it supports it. But there is a large number of people within the Church of England and the undenominational Churches, and even in the Roman Church, who do not support that view.
It will be a sad day for us if we pass the Bill, because it is a reflection on a country if must fall back on lotteries and gambling to supply money for important projects. I support my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Sir C. Black), who so clearly told us his view that betting should be taxed more heavily, and the money so derived given to the excellent projects that the promoters of the Bill have in mind, such as medical research.
In opposing the Bill I do not seek to outlaw gambling in general. Gambling is here to stay, and it will be of no more avail to try to destroy it than to ban beer because some men get drunk, or to prohibit the use of the sea because some ships are sunk. But to encourage still further what is already for many not only an evil but a disease is an entirely different matter. Is it known that there are today compulsive gamblers who, in an effort to rid themselves of this strangling complaint, seek out Gamblers Anonymous in much the same way as drug addicts turn to the Simon Community or alcoholics to Alcoholics Anonymous? The Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming said truly that:The spread of gambling is one of the symptoms of an age in which people have more leisure and cannot or do not know how to make good use of it.When we are being encouraged to back Britain it is recognised that we cannot be really happy when some are very rich while others are very poor, and we would approve of legislation directed towards ironing out those inequalities. A national lottery would do the very reverse, enabling a small minority to get rich quick while a very large number, in a vain attempt to amass money, would become still poorer.
1754 At this moment of crisis in our economy, when our very existence depends on hard work, it would be a calamity if the Government legalised such a waste of manpower, time and resources as would be necessary if the Bill became law. There are already more than 25,000 people wholly employed in the totally unproductive business of gambling on football matches alone, to say nothing of horse racing and dogs. It is assumed that an even greater number would be required to administer a national lottery. In other words, as has been said again and again today, we already have too much gambling. What is needed is not a national lottery but something that would provide further facilities for healthier recreations throughout the country.
I believe that man was made in the image of God and is responsible to his Creator. Anything that suggests that our lives and the life of the nation are controlled by chance undermines that view, for it teaches that obedience to the Almighty is of little account. Our nation was once great because we obeyed the Highest Authority, and any increase of the chance element will weaken it still further. It is because of my desire, and that of many people, that this country should again be recognised as one of the great powers that I oppose the Bill.
A national lottery is proposed because ostensibly our national problem is money. Certainly, our problems often express themselves in terms of money, but they have more to do with the state of our national life. It is significant that in the years during which the volume of gambling has so greatly increased there has been a pervasive doubt whether Britain can really fight her way out of her troubles, and a cynicism about an individual's ability to gain a satisfactory life by his efforts and work. Therefore, individuals have turned to gambling. It could be argued that a national lottery is proposed for similar reasons; certainly it is assumed that for such reasons people would buy tickets.
A lottery clouds the issues. It is a form of voluntary taxation which it is presumed people will be pleased to pay. That in itself is enough to suggest that something is wrong. In such circumstances, the public is less likely to exer- 1755 cise watchful oversight over expenditure. When money comes easily, there is less pressure to make sure that it is spent according to agreed priorities.
A lottery is uncharitable in effect. It has been observed in several countries that those least able to be taxed spend the greatest proportion of their income on lottery tickets as compared with the rest of the population. Some people should be at the receiving and not the giving end. The fairness of trading on their need must be examined.
The prizes mean a misuse of capital. It is absurd for the nation regularly and frequently to accumulate large capital sums which might be productively employed and then distribute them by chance. Recipients selected at random may well misuse the opportunity.
There is a probable need to encourage the gambling element in a lottery. People do not participate in their national lottery for reasons of patriotism. There are many cases noticeable among the States of Australia where people supported lotteries run by other States than their own if they were more attractive. To maintain interest, the principal prize in Premium Bonds has twice been multiplied by five, from £1,000 to £5,000 to £25,000. The recently-instituted New York State Lottery to which my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon referred disappointed its promoters, and steps may be taken to increase the proportion of stakes given to prizes. This process is frequently observed, and means that in some cases four and five times the amount of money by which the State benefits must be subscribed.
Lotteries remain a bad policy. Like any other form of gambling, they must encourage the idea that individual salvation is best achieved by getting the lucky chance to contract out of the problem state of the nation. A Government's policy should be to encourage people to find the common way of resolving the nation's problems and thereby resolving their own.
Therefore, I join my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) in hoping that the Bill will not be given a Second Reading. I shall vote against it.
§ 1.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Gwilym Roberts(Bedfordshire, South)
I rise to support the Bill. I support it not because I think it is ideal, but because I believe that the sponsor of the Bill has faced facts concerning the large amount of money that is spent on gambling and which could be a useful source of revenue for many worthy causes. On the other hand, I feel that many people who have opposed the Bill seem to be living in a cloud-cuckoo-land. Every year we are spending £1,200 million to £2,000 million on gambling. The figure is uncertain. The fact that the figure is uncertain shows how chaotic the system is.
The pools and fixed odds are paying a heavy level of taxation, but the great mass of gambling—the Chancellor's estimate is £1,200 million—is on horse racing which only pays about 2½per cent. If I felt that there was an efficient Government system of taxing gambling in its multifarious forms—bingo, the gaming clubs and what-have-you—I do not think that this Bill would be necessary. However, it is extremely difficult to get a substantial return by taxation of gambling in its present form. Therefore, this Bill has a part to play in that it channels some of these vast sums of money which are spent on gambling into worthy causes.
I will deal briefly with the argument raised by some hon. Gentlemen opposite about this Bill encouraging gambling. I am by no means certain that it would. It will certainly not encourage the type of gambling which leads to disaster. Somebody rightly said that one never hears of a person putting his head in a gas oven or shooting himself because of a few shillings on a national lottery. This is not the category of gambling which is dangerous from this point of view. The gambling which is dangerous is that which the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) talked about: betting 100 guineas on a certain horse in the belief—in some cases wrongly—that the animal is likely to win a particular racing event.
§ Mr. Cordle
If it is proposed, as in some foreign countries, that these tickets shall be hawked around our towns and cities, surely that is encouraging gambling. Indeed it is almost enticing people, especially young ones, to buy the tickets, 1757 because they will be got at by the hawkers.
§ Mr. Roberts
I accept that the tickets will be sold. I will refer to selling later.
The point is that though they buy a 1s. ticket in a lottery, this does not mean that it is an additional stake. The experience of the pools and fixed odds industry is that when fixed odds were brought to the same level of taxation as the pools, gambling on fixed odds drastically decreased at that time and gambling on the pools increased. This is a transfer of the net total spent on gambling. There is no evidence that there will be an increase in the total pool.
I would not suggest that a lottery of this kind is the ideal form of redistributing income. However, there is no reason to assume that the recipients are any more unworthy than people who inherit vast sums of money. I know from experience of pools winners, despite the gory tales sometimes reproduced in the national Press, that the majority invest their money wisely and perhaps help the nation indirectly in this way. These people are no less worthy than are recipients by inheritance.
I believe that this Bill has a role to play, but I am a little worried about on; or two aspects of it. The first is the idea of setting up a board. I have no great faith in boards. In some cases they simply do no work. With respect to those on our Front Bench, we seem to have some odd principles when it comes to appointing people to boards. First, we appoint people who know nothing about the operation of the industry concerned and, secondly, those who are not sympathetic to the purpose of the board anyway. Therefore, I am doubtful whether a board is the best form of operation for a lottery of this sort. If we followed the same policies which we have followed in other directions, we would appoint to the board people who knew nothing about gambling and who might not be sympathetic to the project anyway.
I am also unhappy—here I agree with some hon. Members opposite—about the limited use of the money from this State lottery. It should not be limited to certain worthy causes. I believe—I will develop this later—that the magnitude of the income which could be derived from 1758 a lottery of this type is such that it might mean that certain worthy causes which were listed or clamoured for by certain sections of the board would get more than their fair share as compared with those not covered by the board's activities. I am not happy about this. I was horrified when my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn) suggested that there should be an automatic weekly public opinion poll about the use of the money. As a producer of public opinion polls, I can only see that this would lead to absolute chaos.
§ Mr. Roberts
I will accept that. My feeling is that if we are to have a State lottery, why not let it be a State lottery which will form part of the basic revenue of the Exchequer, and why not let it be run by the Exchequer? After all, the Exchequer runs the Premium Bonds scheme and other forms of saving. There is no reason why the Exchequer should not take direct responsibility.
The Treasury has not got the mechanism to run a lottery of this sort, but it is well known that many of the larger book-making and pools firms would willingly jump at the opportunity of becoming large-scale agents for something of this sort on a 5 or 10 per cent. commission basis. These are the facts of life. They would do this because they would know that the money, if the lottery was run properly, would come from that which was normally spent on pools and other forms of gambling. This would not mean additional staff. It would not mean a board and additional civil servants, because the people who would be running it, if they were agents, would already be employed in the gambling industry. Sweden pays a commission of 1.3 per cent., or something just under 1½ per cent., to about 4,500 local area agents who sell tickets for a lottery of this type.
I do not want to delay the House, but I would like to discuss the form of lottery which we want to see run, because this is of importance. My hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland has suggested that many foreign lotteries are successful. I 1759 do not agree. I think that a lot of foreign lotteries are something of a hotchpotch. They have not been wholly successful for one very simple reason: in the main they have tended to distribute first prizes which were not large enough. Spain, which has been more successful than some other countries, has succeeded largely because in Spain bigger prizes were offered than in many of the other lotteries. The essence of running a national lottery of this type is that we must have a very large first prize.
If hon. Members look at the progress of Premium Bonds they will find that the change to a first prize of £25,000 was not large enough to attract another substantial portion of savings. For this purpose we need a very large prize indeed. When I was talking the other day about a weekly prize of £1 million I was not adopting a gimmick. I believe that if we had a simple weekly lottery with Is. tickets we could easily raise £4 million turnover a week, with a prize fund of £2 million, from which perhaps there could be a very large first prize, possibly £1 million, with five £100,000 second prizes and £500,000 in other prizes. My experience in the pools business tells me that the money flowed in once there was a very large prize winner. That happened every time. If we had a lottery with prizes of this kind and with 80 million tickets sold a week, then perhaps we should have £60 million to £80 million net for the Exchequer per annum, according to the percentage which they took.
Of course, we could not sell tickets on that scale in this country unless we began with an initial investment, with selling agencies set up near people's homes or in shops, such as the butcher, the baker, the candle-stick maker or the grocer. There would also need to be kiosks at various points and large-scale advertising, and the larger prizes might perhaps be drawn weekly on television. If we are to go in for something of this sort we must do it properly. A halfhearted effort is worse than nothing at all.
If we had a major lottery of this sort there would still be room for additional lotteries, perhaps local authority lotteries which could help support the rate fund. Lotteries could also be directed at certain 1760 special purposes. I was recently the guest of the New South Wales Government at a reception in connection with the opening of their opera house, and I learned that £19 million of the £20 million spent so far on the project has been raised from a lottery.
It has been said that there are State lotteries all over the world, for instance in many of the States in Australia, in New Zealand and in many other countries. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South is not here. I should have liked to tell him that lotteries are not confined to countries west of the Iron Curtain. Most of the countries of the Communist bloc, including, I believe, the Soviet Union, are taking advantage of the obvious fact that money is being spent in this way and are trying to channel some of it to State purposes.
The Government should look urgently at the whole problem of the contribution which lotteries can make to the revenue. As my hon. Friend said, in this connection at any rate they have nothing to fear from public opinion, for public opinion polls show that about 83 per cent. of the public would support some form of lottery. As the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South said, gambling and adultery are with us. Gambling is certainly with us, whether we like it or not. It is not the intention of those who support the Bill to increase gambling, and we do not believe that the Bill would increase it. We are hoping to channel some of the money from existing gambling.
§ Mr. John Hall
The hon. Member says that the Bill would not increase gambling. On the figures which he has given, about £200 million would be contributed to the State lottery in a year. Does he think that that would come from the existing total or would it be in addition to the existing total?
§ Mr. Roberts
I believe that it would come largely out of existing expenditure, which is directed at the big pool jackpots and also the racing jackpot, which has attracted a great deal of money in recent months. If we have a large prize lottery of this type we shall attract money from some of the existing gambling. It will not increase substantially the amount of gambling.
1761 But the Bill opens the door to a way of channelling money which is being spent on gambling. We are trying to channel it in a direction which will enable us to try to close the very large gap which often exists between our very limited national resources and our very considerable social welfare needs.
§ 1.35 p.m.
§ The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Harold Lever) rose——
§ Mr. John Wells
On a point of order. I have been sitting here throughout the debate. Yet the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is seeking to follow in the debate an hon. Member from his side of the House. The Financial Secretary has been out to lunch. He might have the courtesy to wait awhile before intervening.
§ Mr. Lever
The hon. Member must contain himself. He should try to restrain his own discourtesy for a moment while attempting to give me lessons in courtesy. It would be more convincing if he showed a little more manners himself. I rise in no sense to invite the House to terminate the debate, nor have I the power to do so, but I thought that it would be convenient at this time to give some view of the Government's attitude. The hon. Member must know, if he has paid any attention to the habits of the House, that these matters are not left altogether to the random decision of the Minister concerned. This was decided in consultation with his hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe (Mr. John Hall), who hopes to speak shortly. I can assure the hon. Member that no discourtesy was intended. It was merely an attempt to keep to the arrangements which we thought would be to the convenience of hon. Members.
§ Mr. John Wells
I am sorry if the hon. Member thought that I was discourteous. Only a handful of hon. Members are present, although I will not seek to count how many there are. If we are to have 1762 the benefit of his words of wisdom, it might be better to wait until there are more hon. Members present to hear his point of view. They could then vote according to his advice.
§ Mr. Lever
This is a matter for judgment. On private Members' days, when the Government take the view, as I shall indicate to the House, that it should be a matter for a free vote for Government supporters, it is often thought desirable for the Government to give that indication not at the close of the debate but in the middle of it. This view was shared by the hon. Member for Wycombe. It is solely in the interests of assisting the House that I have risen at this time, and I assure the hon. Member that it is with no desire to restrict his opportunity of debating the subject which, from the time, I judge to be an excellent prospect. He will have the advantage of knowing the Government's position, which I thought would be of some help.
I am sorry that that awkwardness arose, for I appreciate that this is not a party issue. Had it been a party issue or an issue on which the Government took a political or party decision, I would not have attempted to alter the normal rhythm of the debate, by which an hon. Member on one side of the House is followed in the debate by an hon. Member opposite.
The view of the Government is that the mechanics of the Bill in its present form are not acceptable. Whatever is decided on the main principle, the Government would eventually have to take steps to ensure that the mechanics were of a wholly different kind. Should the House decide in principle to favour the concept of a national lottery the Government would have to insist that any such lottery would required to be in very firm and well-designed public control, and not in the hands of any such independent body as is envisaged in the Bill.
This is a point both in favour of the Bill and against it. Hon. Members who are disquieted by the mechanics, as opposed to the moral principle, can at least put their minds at rest in view of the fact that, on an ordinary Parliamentary calculation, the Government being firmly against the existing mechanics of the Bill there is no danger that in voting for it the country will be saddled with inadequate mechanics for a national lottery. I was 1763 anxious to indicate this in order that hon. Members could concentrate on the moral issues, which cross party boundaries, and could decide, in principle, whether or not we should have a national lottery.
We do not regard this as a party political matter because in all political matters my party and Government are an example of monolithic unanimity, which has been so much commented upon from time to time. On the moral issues, however, it is possible for us to have seriously differing views within our party, and it is the moral question that is posed here.
On the other hand, while I am indicating that the Government, as a Government, have no view, I want to make it clear that they are anxious to hear the views of the House and will be guided by them. Therefore, we shall await with interest the decision of the House, on a free vote, on the principle of a national lottery. That is why I have emphasised that we will regard the vote taken upon the Bill as being a vote on the principle rather than the mechanics, which, as I have said, are not acceptable to the Government.
Only one or two points in the debate call for comment from a Treasury point of view. The hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) seems to take the view that the degree of taxation on gambling relates to our view of the degree of viciousness in the particular expression of gambling on which the tax is fastened. He asked whether football pools were twelve times as vicious as bets on horse racing, because there was a 30 per cent. tax on football pools and only a 2½ per cent. tax on horse racing. Incidentally, the hon. Gentleman is behind the times. Greyhound racing is no longer taxed at 10 per cent. it bears the same tax as horse racing—2½ per cent.
§ Sir Stephen McAdden (Southend East)
May I point out that the hon. Gentleman is also behind the times. The tax on football pools is not 30 per cent. but 25 per cent.
§ Mr. Lever
That was a slip of the tongue—not an anachronism.
The hon. Member for Wimbledon (Sir C. Black) asked whether the Government, and the Treasury in particular, ought not to be concerned to tax vices and follies 1764 rather than virtues. He thought that there was rather a tendency to tax the virtuous at the moment, and not the vicious or foolish. I shall point out to the hon. Gentleman—as he raises this general principle of Treasury taxation policy—that if we concentrate taxes wholly upon the vicious and the foolish the buoyancy of the revenue will depend exclusively on the maintenance in force of the vice and folly which we are taxing.
The present position is that although the Treasury must remain firmly against sin and firmly inclined, like the rest of the Government, to encourage rising moral standards and principles, if this occurred too suddenly or too soon we should be heavily short in our taxation revenue. At the moment, if everybody were to stop gambling, drinking and smoking we should have £2,000 million a year to find in a hurry, with no very obvious source for providing it.
§ Sir C. Black
Ought not the Government to consider the enormous benefit, by contra account, accruing to the Treasury through people giving up the activities that the hon. Gentleman has described?
§ Mr. Lever
If our sole or main source of revenue derived from those activities it would raise an acute financial problem. Whereas we should be morally successful we should be in financial difficulties, to some degree.
This raises another problem which I know interests the hon. Member for Wimbledon. If we find—and that has been the evidence—that notwithstanding the heavy rate of tax that the Treasury imposes upon the weaknesses of the citizens, or the follies and vices of the citizens, those vices, follies and weaknesses continue unabated, we get a buoyant revenue on the one hand but no improvement in the moral character of the population on the other—and the victims of the taxation may very well complain that, whereas on the one hand they have seriously jeopardised their prospects in the world to come, in the present world they are bearing a disproportionate share of the burden of taxation.
I refer to these problems only because I wish to point out that it is not easy to get the matter in balance. The view of the Revenue is that we should try 1765 to raise our taxes in areas where it is fair and reasonable to do so. We have no moral posture in this matter. I do not regard football pools as being morally worse than betting on horse racin. That is not the reason why there is a tax of 2½per cent. on horse racing and 35 per cent. on football pools. The reason is that one form of betting will sustain a higher rate of taxation, because of its nature—it being more of a lottery—and because the odds are such that the diminution imposed by the tax is a negligible item.
§ Sir G. Nabarro
The hon. Gentleman has not answered my point. We are all getting in a muddle as to the rates of taxation. The fact is that football pools are taxed at a rate of 25 per cent. and not 35 per cent., whereas horse racing is taxed at 2½ per cent. Is it reasonable to suppose that football pools are ten times as immoral as horse racing? I agree that we should get most tax from the sport that can sustain it most. Horse racing is a vastly greater sport, in a belting sense, than is football. Why should we not level the whole lot up at a fair and equitable rate?
§ Mr. Lever
Let us start on the assumption that we do not want to lose the perfectly good revenue that we are getting from football pools. The only constructive thing to do would be to lift the betting tax on horse racing to the same level as that on football pools. If we do what the hon. Gentleman thinks is best and increase the tax on horse racing to that level—because of the turnover and the nature of the gambling involved we would wipe the whole lot out in a matter of weeks or months. Because of the turnover, a tax of 25 per cent. on horse racing would mean that it would cease to exist as a gambling mechanism in a very short time. That is not so in respect of the 25 per cent. tax on football pools. This is a typical example of Treasury practicality.
§ Sir S. McAdden
The hon. Gentleman is not accurate. He says that the reason for the 25 per cent. tax on football pools is that it is fair and equitable, as opposed to the 2½ per cent. tax on horse racing. The point is that it is easier for the Inland Revenue to collect. It is a nice easy tax to collect, so the Treasury wants to keep it.
§ Mr. Lever
The hon. Member is wrong.It is because it is fair, reasonable and acceptable to the punters themselves. If there is a 25 per cent. tax on football pools, we have found that they still flourish, people are still happy to engage in them, we get the revenue and the business goes on. If there is a 25 per cent. tax on horse racing bets——
§ Mr. Lever
There is another hon. Member in the House to whose argument I am addressing myself. He suggested that we have the differential because it is more convenient to us and has nothing to do with fairness and acceptability, but he is wrong. Our main thought is that here are two forms of gambling. We have no desire to put either out of existence, but merely wish to participate in both from a revenue standpoint, to the best advantage and in the most acceptable way. We find that 25 per cent. is acceptable and does not wreck a football pool but we are satisfied that 25 per cent. would wreck horse racing.
Those with any experience of horse race betting or any common sense in this matter—on reflection, I think the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South, with his usual shrewdness on matters of this kind, would be one of them—will realise that a 25 per cent. tax would paralyse horse race betting and defeat its own object as a tax-raising device. So near to the Budget, I do not want to approach the area of hypothetical realities. But I am committing no faux pas when I assure everyone that there is no danger of a 25 per cent. tax on horse race betting, but I will go no nearer than that in discussing affairs which will be a matter for my right hon. Friend in due course.
The hon. Member for Worcestershire, South himself declared that he bets on the Derby and upon General Elections. He said, in the case of the Derby—I thought that this was an error, though perhaps he corrected it—that he did it because he was in favour of blood sports. It is not obvious why that is so. I think that perhaps he bets on elections because he favours blood sports. He may have been confusing the two, but perhaps he will clear that up at some time.
1767 It now falls to me to give the House some information which may put the matter in perspective. Great numbers of countries have these lotteries. That is the first thing that is clear. They include Belgium, Ceylon, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Spain, Gibraltar, Greece, Israel, Portugal, Turkey, Japan, Norway, Rhodesia, Austria, West Germany and Cyprus. It is difficult to suppose, in the light of that, that having a lottery is proof of a final descent into moral degeneration. It does not mean either, of course, that this proves that it would be advantageous for this country, but I am simply putting the matter in perspective by informing the House of these lotteries.
It is a curious matter that the expense of organising them ranges from 3 per cent. in Spain to 40 per cent. in Ethiopia, where apparently lotteries are least efficiently conducted. The revenue which comes from them runs something like this: in Belgium it produces £3 million a year, Sweden £11 million, Spain £29 million, the Irish Republic £3½million, Norway £23 million, Australia £8½ million, France £15 million a year. Thus, anyone who supposes that a significant contribution to the economic problems of the country will result from a lottery would, of course, be considerably overstating the case as well.
I would have thought that, from this information, it is clear that this is a matter which, in the end, must be kept in proportion. It is wrong for the hon. Member for Bournemouth, East and Christchurch (Mr. Cordle) to talk himself into the view that it is the kind of England which we now have which forces people, against their natural instincts, to gamble. He has obviously been little instructed in the habits of the people of this country. In the eighteenth century, which I understand was a period during which there was rarely seen a Government by Members of this party, gambling was on a scale and of a consequence which makes the present English style of gambling look rather genteel——
§ Sir S. McAdden
In relation to the revenue from national lotteries of other countries which the hon. Gentleman quoted, would he complete the picture by telling us how much this Government derive from taxation of gambling in all its forms, which I believe would make 1768 the revenues of those other countries look like chicken feed in comparison?
§ Mr. Lever
The hon. Member for Worcestershire, South gave accurate figures in this respect—about £70 million a year. As the hon. Member says, that is vastly in excess of anything obtained in any other country by means of lotteries for gambling. I do not know whether other countries tax other forms of gambling and, therefore, whether this is a fair comparison. But I have given the figures so that everyone can have the matter in perspective.
I should perhaps make one brief comment on the reference to the Prime Minister. The hon. Member for Wimbledon said more than once that he was surprised that my right hon. Friend was not present today. My only comment on that is that, if he is surprised at that, to adapt the Duke of Wellington, he he would be surprised at anything. My right hon. Friend is not, of course, a participant in this debate, though his quotations in that previous debate were read by the hon. Member. It might be that anyone holding strong views against this Bill could feel that the authentic voice of Nonconformist hyperbole would in any event be heard in this debate without the need for the attendance of any particular member of the Government to give expression to it.
Therefore I would have said that, whatever view was taken, out of context and in a different situation, of my right Friend, it does not follow that those would be his views on a different type of lottery in different circumstances. However, as I have emphasised, the Government are not encouraging hon. Members to support or to oppose the Bill.
My last point is on the question of public opinion. The public opinion in which the Government are most interested is the opinion of hon. Members on both sides. It is that opinion that we are anxious to hear. This House is not a mere reflex of Gallup polls or similar polls of public opinion taken outside the House. I must emphasise that, when I say that the Government are seeking a view, it is the view of this House that they are seeking particularly.
I would add finally a note of congratulation to my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn) on his good fortune 1769 in the Ballot and on bringing this interesting topic before us for discussion. I do so without expressing a view one way or the other on the Bill itself, but I congratulate him on the moderation with which he has put it forward. It was entirely right, having regard to the very strong moral views which are held by hon. Members on both sides of the House and on both sides of this question.
§ 1.58 p.m.
§ Mr. John Hall (Wycombe)
I join the Financial Secretary in his tribute to his hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn) on the way in which he introduced the Bill. He did it in moderate terms and, what is rather unusual with many movers of Private Members' Bills, fairly briefly. I congratulate him sincerely.
It has been emphasised that there is a case for no intervention from either Front Bench on occasions like this, on a Private Members' Day when matters are raised which cut across party lines and on which, as in this case, there is no official view on the Government side or on this side. Therefore, there is much to be said for allowing private Members, as they should, to argue this among themselves, but I am sufficiently a traditionalist in these matters to follow the Financial Secretary's example and say something from this bench.
It is said that, in certain countries, some centuries ago, when a man was proposing a new law in the popular assembly, he had to do so standing on a platform with a noose around his neck. If the legislation which he proposed was passed, the noose was removed; if it was defeated, the platform was removed. It is fortunate that this does not apply today, otherwise private Members might be a little reluctant to introduce Bills, I say that because whereas, when the Government introduce a Measure, they can be reasonably certain—certainly when they have the sort of majority that this Government have—of it being passed, a private Member cannot be so certain. Nevertheless, I am sure, knowing the views of the hon. Member for Cleveland, that even had this penalty been in force today he would still have taken the risk of having the platform removed from beneath his feet.
1770 It is interesting to note that there has been little discussion of the merits of the Bill, except in certain of the views expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) and the hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Gwilym Roberts) about the folly of having a nationalised board, a comment echoed by the Financial Secretary. The argument has been almost exclusively directed to the moral principles involved in the introduction of what is regarded as gambling legislation of this kind.
The concept of a lottery is not new It goes back even further than the National Sweepstake Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) in March of last year. That Measure, though in a rather different form and somewhat more detailed than the Bill before us, did not receive the acclaim of the House.
Even so, the concept goes back a long way in our history. The hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South, in an article in the Sunday Telegraph of 17th September, 1967, pointed out that for three centuries there were Government-sponsored lotteries in Britain. One of the earliest was in 1569, which was run to help with harbour repairs required at that time. The old Westminster Bridge was supported by funds raised, at any rate in part, through a lottery. The nucleus of the collection of the British Museum was purchased by funds raised by a lottery. I understand—and in saying this I am indebted to the hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South for the facts—that the last lottery we had was in 1824, which raised the not inconsiderable sum of £300,000. Considering the difference in purchasing value, that was a considerable amount indeed for that time.
Thus, lotteries have had if not a respectable history, then certainly a long one. Today we are considering whether we should reintroduce the concept. As hon. Members on both sides have pointed out—and this was reinforced by the list given by the Financial Secretary—lotteries already operate in many countries, including most, if not all, Communist countries. Some hon. Members may regard the latter fact as not necessarily being the best argument for introducing them here.
1771 I was interested to hear the Financial Secretary's figures of the sums raised by lotteries in various countries, the greatest amount being £29 million in Spain. It appears that other sums raised in this way have been comparatively small, apart from £15 million raised in France. These sums are considerably less than the estimate which the hon. Member for Cleveland has in mind—and certainly far less than the amount that the hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South considers could be raised. I find it hard to conceive that we in Britain could sell 80 million lottery tickets a week, resulting in the raising of about £200 million a year gross. Nevertheless, the amount that could be raised in this way could be a useful contribution.
It might be thought that, in a country which spends between £1,500 million and £2,000 million a year on gambling—exact figures are difficult to obtain—on horse racing, dog racing, pools, bingo and one-armed bandits—the latter being the salvation of most working men's clubs——
§ Mr. Harold Lever
Before the hon. Gentleman proceeds, I intervene to wonder whether he is happy in saying that £1,500 million or more is spent on gambling. Perhaps he means that that is the turnover on gambling, which is not quite the same thing.
§ Mr. Hall
I accept the correction. I was, of course, referring to turnover. Nevertheless, it is a considerable amount, even when said quickly.
We in Britain have the reputation of being—perhaps next to the Australians and, in the old days, the Chinese—some of the world's biggest gamblers. The idea of a national lottery should not, one might therefore think, cause much of a stir. However, it gives rise to many objections on the part of many serious and sincere people and it arouses a considerable feeling of antagonism, certainly enough to require us to give serious thought to the arguments for and against the introduction of this sort of Bill. When giving thought to it, we must be careful, when we think that we are thinking, that we are no merely re-arranging our pre- 1772 judices. This happens too often when we think that we are bringing new thought to bear on a subject which may have been before us on many previous occasions.
The arguments used against the Bill are, first, that it is a form of voluntary taxation, the benefits of which are not distributed equally but arbitrarily and could result in unfair discrimination by the arbitrary selection of certain causes which the proceeds from the lottery will benefit. The Church Assembly stresses this in paragraph 3 on page 2 of its pamphlet. That paragraph has already been quoted, so I will not read it to the House.
The second argument is that it would be a costly and wasteful method of raising money, when one takes into account the prizes that must be given—under this Measure, the supporting speeches suggest that the prizes would have to be considerable if the lottery was to be successful—and the expenditure that would have to take place on collections, and so on.
The third argument is that it would extract a disproportionate amount from the poorest in that the rich might feel that they are making only a small contribution in terms of purchasing tickets for the prizes they might win. The fourth argument, on which many hon. Members have concentrated and which worries them more than any other, is the moral aspect; the argument that it is wrong, and certainly unwise, to encourage a constant search for a quick gain without making any real effort and contribution to the nation and the thought that this develops an attitude of materialism at the expense of weakening moral issues.
As opposed to those arguments, those in favour of the Bill, or of a Measure like it, say that we should not strain at legislation of this kind when, as I have mentioned, we spend so much on gambling; when the State, as my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South pointed out, will take in the coming year about £70 million in tax from gambling in all its forms and when we already have Premium Bonds which, I understand, account for about £60 million.
In this connection, my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Sir C. Black) expressed surprise at the absence of the Prime Minister. We know that is not normal for the Prime Minister to attend 1773 our Friday debates, and I am sure that he has many other things to do today, yet I join with my hon. Friend in expressing surprise at his absence because we clearly remember his reference to Premium Bonds, when he described them as a "squalid raffle". Perhaps my hon. Friends should bear in mind that what the right hon. Gentleman meant at that time, when he was in Opposition, was that they represented a squalid raffle because the prizes were not big enough. As soon as the right hon. Gentleman came to office he increased the prizes. The raffle then ceased to be squalid and became respectable and I assume that that is why the right hon. Gentleman is now able to justify his words and why he is not here.
It can be argued that Governments have always capitalised upon the weaknesses of the population rather than their virtues. I believe it was Napoleon who said that he got more out of the vices of his people than out of their virtues. That principle has influenced Government policy both before and since. The taxes on wines and spirits raise about £1,700 million in a year, whereas a respectable beverage like tea, which does not pander to any weaknesses, pays no tax at all, although two-thirds of all proprietary beverages drunk consist of tea, the other one-third being shared between wines, cordials, etc. Perhaps the Financial Secretary may consider tea as a source of revenue, especially as in 1924 there was a tax of 4d. a lb. on it.
There is also the argument that we must admit that gambling is endemic, a natural instinct in human beings, and that no matter what legislation we pass we will not stop people from gambling, just as legislation will not stop people committing adultery. One may try to do so but one will not succeed. The argument goes on that therefore we have to use the gambling instinct to benefit the community as a whole, just as, as someone put it, we use the marriage service to direct aright the natural instincts of man.
Indeed, this argument has been accepted by Governments. We already get a great deal of benefit out of the weaknesses of the human race, which contribute considerably to the Revenue. If we all became completely virtuous, at least in the minds of those who think that smoking, drinking, and gambling are 1774 wicked, the country would be in a parlous state. The brewers would be out of business as well, but that perhaps is another point.
What, therefore, is wrong with continuing this process by ensuring that another form of gambling contributes to the general good? There can be no moral case by the State which says that one can have one form of benefit from gambling which benefits the State but not another. There is no moral case for that. However, it is argued by supporters of the Bill, "What is the strength of a moral argument when so many churches themselves run lotteries?" This was admitted in the pamphlet issued by the Churches, although church lotteries are by no means universal.
I got into trouble on one occasion when I attended a bazaar held by a Nonconformist Church. A chair had not been sold and I suggested a raffle for it. There was an immediate lowering of the temperature and I could not understand why until I realised that I had said the wrong thing and that I was in a church completely opposed to raffles or gambling of any kind. But there is a considerable difference of opinion between the Churches as to whether or not lotteries, raffles and forms of gambling of that kind should be denounced.
The argument that a lottery takes a disproportionate amount from the poor as opposed to the rich has also been put forward. But so does the National Health Service contribution take more from the poor than from the rich. It is a form of poll tax. It bears more hardly on the less well off than on the better off, but it can be countered that the lottery would be a voluntary tax rather than a compulsory one, as is the N.H.S. contribution.
All these arguments have substance and listening to the debate, I can well understand the difficulty of some hon. Members in making up their minds, especially those who have not come to the Chamber. There is a problem of debating here. One knows that, in many cases, one is arguing to closed minds, to people who have decided how they will vote before coming here. To use an old countryman's colourful but rude phrase, "You are spitting into the wind" in using arguments contrary to the deeply held convictions of those listening.
1775 But I can see that those who have not made up their minds will have difficulty in deciding which way to vote. The arguments are evenly balanced. I am speaking personally and am in no way reflecting any view held by the Conservative Party in saying that some of the arguments in favour of a lottery are persuasive. I myself have always been attracted by the idea of a lottery, a painless form of extracting taxation which gives the maximum of excitement with the minimum of inconvenience to the individual. But there are arguments both here and outside the House against the Bill, or anything else of the kind, which require particular examination.
The first of these arguments is that the Bill itself is selective in effect, in that only certain causes are picked out to benefit by the revenue from the lottery. There is a legitimate argument against a selection of causes. If we are to have a national lottery, it should be to the general benefit of all forms of Government expenditure. It should be used to help improve the services which already exist and to reduce taxation as well. It should benefit the nation as a whole and not pick out certain causes.
Of course, one could overcome this problem by not having the Bill at all and, instead, increasing the gambling tax. It is argued that this could be done without any of the trouble involved in the Bill but to the same effect. Existing machinery would be used and possibly the result would be more revenue than one would get after the expenses and prizes had been deducted from a lottery.
§ Mr. Harold Lever
It is the Government's intention to take both a vote for the Bill and a vote against the Bill as being indicative of the House's desire to raise more revenue from gambling.
§ Mr. Hall
I cannot answer on what hon. Members may think, for I only express a personal view. If one considers the argument about the selective effect of the Bill and suggests that it should benefit the nation as a whole and be general in its effect, then of course one could achieve the same results more easily and more cheaply by increasing the existing taxation on gambling.
1776 The second argument requiring close examination gives me considerable reason to pause in making up my mind. This is the claim by opponents of the Bill that it would encourage the development of a materialistic outlook in that the State, as a matter of deliberate policy, would introduce legislation which would develop still further the materialistic concept of life from which we tend to suffer.
Again expressing a personal view, I believe that one of the problems of this age is the fact that money is beginning to exercise a dominant influence in the minds and lives of the people of advanced civilisation. One finds more and more that, when people converse, they do so in terms of money—"how much are you worth?" It is not a question of what a man is worth as an individual or as a character but a question of how much money he can command and what is his money-earning capacity.
I find that a little distressing. In an advanced civilisation it is inevitable that, through the development of science and technology, the comfort and the welfare of people increases year by year, but side by side with that, through the modern techniques of advertising and the increase in competition between neighbours, the keeping-up-with-the-Joneses mentality, we tend to concentrate people's minds more and more on the materialistic comforts of this life and less and less upon the moral and spiritual values. I stress again that I am expressing a personal point of view, but it seems to me that the problem which we face in a highly developed society is how we are to improve the lot of the people and to increase their welfare and comfort generally without at the same time making them physically, mentally and morally flabby. It can be argued that if, as an act of deliberate policy, we appear to give support to the idea that it is right to give people an opportunity to look for easy and large gains without their having made any effort or any contribution to society, then we are encouraging the mentality and the outlook which I personally deplore.
For those reasons, if for no other, we should hesitate, and give serious thought to whether we should be right in supporting the Bill in the Lobby. On the face of it, there are many logical arguments 1777 to support the Bill. Its basic purposes are good and are designed to serve the public well-being and welfare. We all accept that. Hon. Members on all sides of the House have at heart the same causes as those which the hon. Member for Cleveland has at heart. All of us would like more resources available to improve our social services and the other services which we need, and also to reduce taxation and to give a greater incentive to people to make greater efforts and to save from their own efforts. We want them to have adequate resources and savings and we want them to have a just reward and security in their years on this earth.
But I am not convinced that this is the right way to achieve that objective. If we have genuine and necessary social purposes to serve, we should serve them by the proper form of fiscal legislation, and we should also serve them by encouraging the people to make the best use of their talents and by rewarding them adequately. As a personal view, therefore, I hope that hon. Members on both sides of the House will give thought to that last argument, however much they may be convinced by the earlier logical arguments in favour of the Bill.
§ 2.23 p.m.
§ Mr. John Wells (Maidstone)
I am glad to have the opportunity to speak, because I took very seriously to heart the words of my hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe (Mr. John Hall), who says that one frequently knows that one is addressing minds which are already made up.
I wish to address my remarks principally to the hon. Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyons). I agree with every word he uttered in his sensible and reasonable speech, and I hope that I shall be able to convince him to vote the other way, by virtue of his own words. He rightly condemned the Betting and Gaming Act, 1960, or large parts of it. I congratulate him on raising the matter. I believe that if we vote today in favour of the Bill the Government will find it necessary to think again. Indeed, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury said that that was so. They will not allow the Bill to survive but will mangle it, but they will accept the principle that the House wants some form of a national 1778 lottery. If the hon. Member is persuaded to vote for the Bill, his will be another voice in favour of a lottery.
May I explain the advantage of a lottery coupled with a big restriction of the gaming progress made since the 1960 Act? Since the 1960 Act there has been an alarming and a most immoral growth of what one might call mafiosa in this country. These are undesirable people who are running protection rackets and new-style immoralities of all sorts which we did not have before the 1960 Act. It is almost incredible that two men of such public-spirited and churchmanlike outlook as my noble friend Lord Butler and my late noble friend Lord Runcorn, two men of the highest principles, should have been taken for such a ride as they were in that appalling Act which they brought forward. It is pathetic, and it shows the great danger of men of good will getting their feet wet in matters of this sort which they do not understand.
If the hon. Member for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn) will say to the House that if his Bill reaches Committee stage he will seek to introduce into it in Committee some restriction on Part II of the Betting and Gaming Act, 1960, bearing in mind that the Government will not allow his Bill to get through, he will be flying a kite and showing the feeling of the House. We recognise that the people of these islands will gamble. Every hon. Member who has spoken today has said that. But at least let their gambling instincts be directed aright. Let the Government have some reasonable control. I cannot imagine the Mafiosa element getting its hand on any nationalised board. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Fortescue) said that this was a nationalised board which could make a loss. Almost any nationalised board can make a loss. But at least we might try to get rid of Section 15 of the 1960 Act by repealing it, repeal Section 16, amend Section 17 and so on. Obviously bingo has become a modest new opiate for many lonely people who have an apparently harmless bingo session in a pleasant, warm, cosy atmosphere. Let them get on with it. It does nobody any harm and there is no bite attached to it.
Except on one occasion, I have never visited a gaming house in my life. On that occasion I visited two gaming houses, partly on a tour of inspection, and I was 1779 fortunate to enjoy beginner's luck. But I do not intend to go back again. In the course of my life I have owned a greyhound, which cost me far more money in food and training than it ever won for me in winnings. The fact remains that these fringe activities on which people bet are attracting more and more immoral characters, the sort of people who are hindering the progress which our country should make.
I am grateful to the Financial Secretary in that I have had the advantage to hear his speech. He kindly gave the figures for different countries. The Labour Government could learn a useful lesson from Spain, a country which gets the greatest possible benefit in cash terms from its lottery. Spain does not permit gaming as we have it in this country. Any hon. Member who has been to Biarritz knows of the large number of Spaniards who go across the frontier from Spain to enjoy gaming in the French casinos. The fact remains that the Spanish Government keep a very close hand on these unruly elements, and such gambling instincts as the Spaniards possess—and they are fond of gambling—are directed by way of the lottery.
The hon. Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. Leadbitter), who is the only other sponsor of the Bill to have spoken so far, said that the Irish Sweepstake was helpful to the hospitals, but the administration of the Irish Sweepstake is hopelessly inadequate, and compares very unfavourably with the Spanish element where the cost of administration is, I think, only about 3 per cent. I therefore urge the promoter of the Bill that, if his Measure gets to a Standing Committee and further detail is gone into about the administration of the proposed lottery, he should agree that the proceeds of the lottery should be paid direct into the Consolidated Fund, as various hon. Members have suggested. In that case, I suggest that Clause 4, from about line 5 onwards, should be radically altered.
I must remind hon. Members who have spoken on the general moral position over the years that in 1841 our population—including that of Southern Ireland in those days—was 26½ million: two years ago it was 54½ million. In 1851 the revenue derived from alcohol was £9 million; in the current year the 1780 expected revenue from alcohol will be £718 million. What fascinates me is that double the population is, in quantity, drinking half the volume of spirits and beer—and what they drink is weaker. Therefore, the immoral and alcoholic element in drinking is being reduced and the revenue from it is going up.
The point I draw from that fact is that if a modest lottery could be established under Government control on the Spanish lines, coupled with the abolition of the more reprehensible forms of gaming, we would see the revenue from a lottery going up progressively. If one uses the alcohol revenue figures as a parallel, one can take the figure quoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe for the 1854 lottery, which was the last largeish one, and, by extending it, get in the current year an estimated yield of £30 million from a national lottery. I realise that that is only half the yield coming to us from other forms of betting, but there is no earthly reason why the other forms of betting tax should not be allowed to continue side by side with a lottery—with the one exception of gaming which, I feel, is definitely leading to the weakening of the nation.
In condemning gaming, I would not condemn the comparatively harmless "one-armed bandit" in the club, but I do condemn the large gaming clubs operated in London. The Financial Secretary may say that gaming brings in a lot of American tourists, but the equivalent of a few hundred thousand pounds brought in by American tourists is of no advantage to us when compared with the great weakening of moral character.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon
The hon. Member is making the case that if there could be the quid pro quo of a national lottery for a diminution in gaming it might meet my point, but has he addressed himself to the nature of the people who indulge in gaming in London clubs? Are they the kind of people who would be persuaded to use their money in a national lottery? I should have thought that a national lottery would be in competition, if it were in competition with anything, with football pools——
§ Mr. Wells
I am grateful to the hon. 1781 Member for his intervention. I appreciate that the money might, to an extent, come from different people, but if the view of the hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Gwilym Roberts) of very large prizes being probable in such a lottery is right, such prizes might attract gambling money of the sort I have in mind, and which I am sure the hon. Member for York has in mind—particularly if he looks at the Spanish figures that have been quoted.
The hon. and learned Member for Stoke Newington and Hackney, North (Mr. Weitzman) saw fit to pass some curious remarks about the comments in the Court of Appeal, but the Court of Appeal was merely seeking to draw public attention to legislation that we in this House have passed. The opposite is very frequently the case: we have Ministers making remarks in Standing Committee and imagining that those remarks will have the force of law. That is not the case. The judges in the Court of Appeal were commenting on the law as it is, and demanding that it should be enforced.
The police have a very difficult job in enforcing the law, and for that reason I should like to see parts of the 1960 Act repealed. I am delighted that the Government have, as I understand, withdrawn their Gaming Bill, so that it might be possible in a week or two to see the ideas of the hon. Member for Cleveland reincorporated in a new gaming Measure which will tighten up the law. We do not want more inspectors and more civil servants, but we do want less gaming of that sort. We want to clear it up, and such a Measure should assist the police and bring real control over gaming.
My hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Sir C. Black) made one extraordinary remark. I appreciated the tenor of his speech, but I could not agree with his remark that prize winners would be unable to make proper use of their prize money. I did not agree with much that was said by the hon. Member for The Hartlepools, but when he took up that remark my heart warmed, because who is any man to set himself up to be the judge of others? I pity my hon. Friend for not enjoying a glass of beer or a glass of claret—to my mind, he would be a much happier man if he did—but I do not blame him for thinking as he does of my views. If a man wins a big prize and is stupid enough not to know how to 1782 spend it, the Financial Secretary will, in due course, reap a further reward from him.
I hope that hon. Members will vote for the Bill on the clear understanding that the Government will not allow the Board in its proposed form; that some control of gaming might be offered as a quid pro quo—or at least discussed at the same time—and that it may be possible to clean up some of the more disreputable elements that now exist.
§ 2.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Marcos Kimball (Gainsborough)
I wonder whether my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Sir C. Black) would have been so very fierce in his strictures on the Bill had he realised that every time he goes to and fro between this House and his constituency he goes across Westminster Bridge which, as reported in today's Daily Telegraph, was financed and constructed from the proceeds of a public lottery in the last century.
I hope that we shall soon come to a conclusion on the Bill. The remarks of die Financial Secretary have made it very important that we should have a straight vote, and not a vote on the Question, That the Question be now put. I say that, because it is obvious that the hon. Gentleman will look on the vote in the way that many tax payers now look at the speeches that his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of "the Exchequer made in the past on the subject of taxation, to see whether they can get any inkling of how his mind is working on the Budget. The Financial Secretary's speech made perfectly clear that he is genuinely interested in discovering whether or not hon. Members feel that more taxation should be extracted from gambling——
§ Mr. Harold Lever
I am sorry if what I said in a light-hearted intervention gave that impression. Speaking perfectly seriously, I should make it quite clear that the Government are seeking, not guidance whether the House favours an increase in taxation on gambling, but an indication from both sides of the feeling on the question of a national lottery in principle. It is that indication that the Government are anxious to have, not the feeling of hon. Members on whether we should increase taxation on gambling.
§ Mr. Kimball
That is fair enough. There was no intention to misinterpret the Financial Secretary on such an important matter.
I make perfectly clear that I would not favour as a solution to this problem the suggestion by my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon of raising the betting tax. That would mean more money for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and we know what happens to money that goes to the Chancellor. Under this Bill, the money would go to a board which would have nothing to do with the Chancellor. I am very conscious of the fact—I am surprised that other hon. and right hon. Members on this side of the House have not recorded it—that at about this time last year there was an article in the Financial Times and my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) was asked what his Budget proposals would be if he were the Chancellor. He made it quite clear that, apart from getting rid of Selective Employment Tax and modifying Capital Gains Tax, he would have a national lottery.
He went on to say—I hope this can be done in Committee on this Bill—that the proceeds of the national lottery should be devoted entirely to hospital building. I hope that the Bill will have a Second Reading and will go to a Committee, where I shall seek to move an Amendment to provide that the proceeds derived through Clause 4 would be devoted entirely to hospital building. Hospital building today is colossally expensive per head of the population. Everyone, including the Treasury and regional hospital boards, has to give this important matter less and less priority. Unless the fund were used for this one object, more and more of the proceeds would go into research, which perhaps costs less than would go into what is really needed—hospital building.
As I understood the Financial Secretary's remarks, the position of the Government in this matter is that they are neutral but against the Bill. That would appear to be a fair summary. They want the House to give them some guidance by our votes. I am sorry that so many hon. Members have tried to compare a national lottery with the Premium Bonds scheme. I think the Prime Minister was wrong when he described the Premium Bonds scheme as "a squalid raffle".
1784 I do not think any hon. Member has ever taken part in a raffle in which one could get one's money back and in which one cannot lose. That is the great benefit of the Premium Bonds scheme—you get your money back and you cannot lose. The chances of winning are no more than the average rate of interest one can get on a sum of money put into National Savings. The only people who seem to benefit, I am ashamed to say, are high surtaxpayers.
Much play has been made about the amount of money actually spent on gambling. Hon. Members have quoted £1,200 million on horse-racing, £120 million on the pools and £200 million a year on bingo, fun fairs and the rest, making a total of £1,500 million. I do not want a national lottery to cut into any of that money. I do not want a national lottery to stop any more money being spent on gambling or horse-racing.
The interesting thing about last year's Finance Bill was that when the Chancellor discussed betting tax, he had to admit that the bookmakers today are the greatest jewels in his crown. He gets far more money from them in taxation than he had expected. I have always played with the idea of having a tote monopoly but now we find the grounds for a tote monopoly being shot from under our feet by the substantial contribution which is being made to the Exchequer and to racing by the bookmakers, who are paying much more than anyone realised. This shows the responsible attitude taken by the bookmakers.
I do not want the introduction of a national lottery in any way to detract from the amount of money going into other forms of gambling. We could have a national lottery and collect a lot more money which is not already going into horse-racing and other forms of gambling. Therefore, it would be a useful means of sweeping up some surplus money which otherwise might go into other channels. A great advantage of this Bill is that that money would not go to the Chancellor.
I shall not weary the House with arguments about the Road Fund. The snag about increasing the tax on gambling as proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon, is simply that the Chancellor would not give any of it back for better facilities for racing or better 1785 facilities for the Regional Sports Council. It would go into the general pool of taxation. Under this Bill we would have the national lottery and a National Lottery Board. I hope that when we amend it in Committee we shall make it quite clear that the Board has to use all the money it raises, as is done under the Irish Sweepstake, for the benefit of hospital building, for which I am sure everyone would like it to be used.
We know the state of public opinion about a national lottery. Even in my constituency, where John Wesley first started to preach, eight out of 10 people are now in favour of a national lottery, provided it is used in this way. I was fascinated by an article in the Scotsman. I had always drought that the Scotsman was a sort of mouthpiece for the Kirk of Scotland, but now it has come out strongly in favour of a national lottery, as also have aldermen and members of Edinburgh Corporation. The House must pay very great attention to the figures given by the hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Gwilym Roberts). He is a research student of statistics. He was not a research student at a university, but he has made research into statistics about pools. I believe his statistics are very accurate. I was interested in his article in the Sunday Telegraph and the suggestions he produced.
I hope the House will give the Bill a Second Reading. I was disappointed by the Financial Secretary's speech because, after looking at the replies which the Chancellor gave to Questions the other day, I am not certain that the hon. Member for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn) does not have a passive ally in the Chancellor.
§ 2.48 p.m.
§ Sir Stephen McAdden (Southend, East)
I never thought that it would fall to me to redefine the attitude of Her Majesty's Government to this Bill. I think my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Kimball) was wrong in saying that the Government's attitude was neutral but against the Bill. The attitude was neutral on the principle of whether there should be a national lottery or not, but violently opposed to the mechanics set out in the Bill. In order to help the Government, not for the first time, I redefine their position.
1786 I do not hold the same views on gambling and on some other matters as my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Sir C. Black). I recognise that gambling is a habit of many people, as is drinking and smoking. I would not seek to prohibit or punish people indulging in those vices, if they are vices, or pleasures, if they are pleasures—all of which I am pleased to share—but I am opposed to excess of gambling and excess of drinking. I should like it to be recognised by this House that we should be very careful about taking any steps which might seem to encourage the growth of gambling or drinking.
If I had not already made up my mind from studying the terms of this Bill, I would have been forced to vote against it by reason of the arguments which have been advanced for it. Spokesmen for the Bill have indulged in a process of contradiction right through. One says that it will not lead to an increase in gambling but to a redistribution of the channels through which people gamble, and the total amount spent on gambling will not be increased. Others say that this will lead to an increase in gambling and will divert more money to causes which may be considered more worthy and which should be encouraged.
The experience in this House, especially since the 1960 Measure was introduced, must surely be that the more avenues for gambling one creates, the greater the amount of money spent on gambling. I remember warning my hon. Friends when we were considering the Betting and Gaming Bill, during the long and ardu-out Committee stage, that the Bill would undoubtedly lead to a great increase in gambling; and it has. We were told that this Measure would lead to a reduction in gambling. What we did in that Bill was to make gambling respectable. We gave it an aura of Government approval. As a result, gambling flourished and expanded without apparently any attempt to stop it.
Reference has been made to the decision which was given in the appeal court and the strong words which were used. May I remind the House that the responsibility for carrying out the laws which are passed by Parliament lies with the police, and that the Home Secretary has a particular responsibility for the 1787 activities of the Metropolitan Police. Yet in the metropolis of London, where gambling is on a scale greater than in almost any other country in the world, no action has been taken to see that the provisions of that Measure were enforced. That surely gave encouragement to others to believe that if it was permissible in London without the Home Office, which has a particular responsibility for it, doing anything about it, surely outside London they were entitled to believe that this was a right and proper thing to do.
It fell to constituents of mine operating a very respectable casino in a very modest way being dragged through the courts and branded as criminals, whilst other people operating gambling empires in London went scot-free. The Home Office has a certain amount of responsibility in this matter and I hope the Financial Secretary will draw my remarks to the attention of his right hon. Friend, because it is a very serious matter indeed.
I am anxious to see that gambling is not encouraged. Gambling was encouraged by the 1960 legislation. Gambling will be encouraged by this Bill. This Bill, which sets up a State lottery, will make lotteries respectable and will encourage people to go in for them. The Government already derive a very large revenue—something like £70 million a year—from taxation on betting and gaming. May I direct the Financial Secretary's attention to this question of gaming. He will know that by the ruling which was given in the court the other day, the bank is not allowed to have an advantage. Yet legislation was introduced dividing casinos into three kinds—those which would pay on their rateable value £500, those which would pay £5,000 and those which would pay £50,000. How on earth can they be expected to pay if they are not to get an advantage from the bank? I hope the hon. Gentleman will give some thought to that point.
To come back to the question of the encouragement of gaming and giving it an aura of respectability, it was always contended by many of us that the setting up of betting shops in place of the street bookmaker would encourage an enormous increase in gambling. It has. The supporters of this Bill envisage going further. As it we had not got enough 1788 betting shops already, the hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Gwilym Roberts), who is no longer in the Chamber, has said that we have got to have these tickets in every butcher's baker's and candlestick maker's——
§ Sir G. Nabarro
Is my hon. Friend aware that suggestions have already been made, if this Bill goes through, that the tickets should be sold in post offices, which I regard as absolutely reprehensible?
§ Sir S. McAdden
The post offices would give an aura of respectability and approval to this form of gambling which does not exist at the moment. Whilst I would deplore it in the post offices, I would certainly deplore an even greater proliferation where every system was to be encouraged for the sale of national lottery tickets, as seems to be the object of the supporters of this Bill.
Then we are told that by operating a national lottery of this kind it will be possible for millions of pounds to be raised for worthy purposes. It sounds interesting, but the figures which have been quoted by the Financial Secretary of the millions of pounds which have been raised by national lotteries in other parts of the world show that they produce only chicken-feed as compared to the enormous sums which the Treasury collects in the form of a tax on gambling in all its forms. If these sums are required for these good and useful purposes such as medical research and the like, they are already raised by the Government at the present time. It should be for the Government to say in which way the money raised from taxation should be spent. Under the Bill the responsibility for deciding how money raised in the form of a national lottery should be distributed is not on Parliament, nor on the Treasury, but is passed to some anonymous board the composition of which we do not know. There is not even any mention of the approval of the Treasury. It is to be left to this anonymous body to distribute the money which is raised for purposes which are not specified and which may be purposes with which the House would not agree.
I was a little surprised that the Financial Secretary, in his agreeable manner, managed to convince the House 1789 that the differentiation between the taxation on different forms of gambling was not influenced by motives of ease of collection. I should like to believe the hon. Gentleman. I am sure he believes it himself.
§ Mr. Harold Lever
I said that there were other considerations of fairness and good sense which had to be applied.
§ Sir S. McAdden
But the hon. Gentleman will remember that in his original speech he said that the differentiation in taxation as between horse racing, dog racing and football pools was due to feelings of moderation and common sense. It was only when I challenged him upon the question of ease of collection that he shifted his ground a little and agreed that ease of collection was a relevant factor. I am sure it is an important and relevant factor in the case of football pools. There are probably eight or 10 pool operators in this country, whereas there are hundreds and thousands of bookmakers. The collection of tax from hundreds and thousands of bookmakers is much more difficult than the collection from an industry where it can be done with the minimum of fuss. I am sure that the minimum of fuss must bear ever so slightly on the minds of the Treasury in these matters.
I was surprised that we did not hear something from the Financial Secretary about hypothecated taxation—the idea that money raised from particular taxes should be earmarked for particular purposes. Here we have not the Treasury raising money, using it for the general purposes of the State and adopting the traditional Treasury attitude that money collected in this way must not be hypothecated to any particular purpose. We now have this Measure which seeks to hypothecate the revenue which it is hoped to get from the national lottery.
§ Mr. Harold Lever
I am sorry the hon. Member feels that I did not make this clear. I said that, so far as the Government are concerned, we find completely unacceptable the mechanics of this Bill, both the hypothecation and the administration of the lottery. What we do say, however, is that we wait to hear the voice of the House on the principle, and whether the House favours a differently organised national lottery. This did not involve 1790 debate upon the hypothecation of the revenue or our prejudging the mechanics. I made that clear.
§ Sir S. McAdden
I apologise to the hon. Gentleman if I misinterpreted him. Perhaps I did not understand him, but I did not hear him use the word "hypothecation". Perhaps I missed it.
§ Mr. Russell Kerr
I wonder, Mr. Speaker, if we could be told the meaning of the word "hypothecation"? I am not alone in wondering.
§ Mr. Speaker
The last thing Mr. Speaker should be called upon to do is to act as a dictionary, but the word is very well known.
§ Sir S. McAdden
I was saying that this had been the traditional standpoint of the Treasury, and I am glad that that view is still held by the Financial Secretary. I apologise to him if I misinterpreted or misunderstood him. I think I misunderstood him once and understood him correctly once, and so it balances out.
I now take up a point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro). Both he and I have held the view for a long time that it ought to be possible so to distribute the burden of taxation upon all forms of gambling as to be able to get away from the gross unfairness which exists as between 2½ per cent. and 25 per cent. I quite see and I accept fully the hon. Gentleman's assertion that the 25 per cent. tax on horse racing is a ruinous business. I accept all that, but we have very many different forms of gambling in operation and I should have thought it would be possible to derive a greater degree of revenue from other forms of gambling. It might even reduce the rather punitive taxation on forms of gambling which can hardly be said to destroy people's homes or anything like that. I hope the Treasury may consider getting more money out of one-armed bandits and things like that, which could easily bear a much higher tax than they bear at the present time, and yet not mean a savage imposte on a form of gambling which is not all that harmful.
§ Mr. John Hall
I would point out to my hon. Friend that one-armed bandits are found in a number of worthy clubs and produce a fair amount of proceeds 1791 for those clubs, and that to increase the duty on them might have an adverse effect upon them.
§ Sir S. McAdden
I know. There are many in my constituency. There are working men's clubs and Labour clubs and golf clubs which derive an enormous revenue from these fruit machines, but if they were to bear more tax they would still derive a profit, and a very handsome profit, and I hope very much that the Treasury will look at this point.
I am glad that the hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South is back. I referred to him in his absence. He estimated that if the lottery were to be successful there would have to be prizes of something like £1 million a week with subsidiary prizes of £100,000.
§ Sir S. McAdden
Multiply £100,000 by five and we have £500,000 worth of prizes. If all this money is to be distributed each week and is going to be distributed in sums of that amount, taking also into consideration the expenses of running the lottery, I cannot see that the amount left for charity will be other than pretty small, and while all of us would support devoting money to medical research, and so on, I support the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon, that the Treasury has at its hand a tremendous power to levy taxation on gambling in all its forms, and it is up to the Treasury now to get that money and then decide how to distribute it.
How on earth is all that money to be distributed? I hope some of it will go to worthy causes. I much prefer that it should be distributed that way than that it should be left in the hands of a board of unnamed persons to be distributed, perhaps, in ways with which Parliament might not agree.
§ Mr. Speaker
I hope there will not be too many interventions, for there are still other Members who wish to speak.
§ Mr. Gwilym Roberts
I merely make this point, that if we sold some 80 million 1792 1s. tickets we would have a kitty of £4 million per week which would provide £2 million of prizes—50 per cent.—and £2 million for the rest. At the peak of the season more than that, 5s. 10d. is the average stake on the football pools.
§ Sir S. McAdden
It is not clear to me how that affects the argument that if we create another avenue of gambling it will lead to a total reduction in the total amount staked. It will lead to an enormous increase. That is the lesson of the 1960 Act. We created an enormous number of avenues for gambling, but were told that it would be controlled and respectable, that nothing outrageous would happen. Those of us who served on the Committee were told that it would be impossible for the casinos to operate, but they did. I do not want to see the creation of another avenue for widespread gambling by the Bill, and therefore I shall oppose it.
§ 3.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Mills (Torrington)
It is not often that an hon. Member is interested in two Bills in one day and possibly has the opportunity to say a few words. But I am also interested in the Wild Plants Protection Bill, debate on which could possibly follow the Bill we are now considering. It might be thought that there is no connection between the two, but one could say that when a child picks off the petals of a flower and says, "He loves me, he loves me not", that is a form of gambling.
I oppose this Bill. I feel that it is wrong in principle, and I have not been convinced by any of the arguments today.
The Bill is unwise because of its long-term effect. Whatever people may say, I believe that it will encourage gambling. It is all very well to say that it will not, but when one considers some past legislation to deal with certain problems one sees that in the long run it has encouraged those problems. One thinks of the Street Offences Act, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, the Sexual Offences Act and, possibly, the Divorce Reform Bill.
We have enough gambling already. Although gambling's social effect can be exaggerated, I cannot agree that raising money by this method for the very worthy causes mentioned in the Bill is 1793 the right way to do it. Of course, we want better hospitals and to spend more money on research and so on. That is vital, and a country should get its priorities right and be prepared to spend more on those things rather than on gambling, but it is for the Government to do that through taxation and other means. The argument could be developed to the stage of saying that a national lottery could be used to raise money for defence, which would be ridiculous. It is just as ridiculous to use it for the extension of our hospitals, for research and all the other worthy causes mentioned.
The Government should reconsider taxation on gambling of all kinds. The squeeze should be put on it even more to raise the necessary money to do the things we want done. I would support the Bill if it would restrict or control gambling, but it does not.
Hon. Members may say that my mind is completely closed. It was when I came into the Chamber, but it is now even more closed, if that is possible. The Bill will not be a great help in meeting the urgent need to restrict gambling and channel our finance into more and more useful purposes.
§ 3.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Graham Page (Crosby)
I apologise for not being in the Chamber in the earlier stages of this debate, but I was engaged on other Parliamentary business.
May I add my congratulations to the hon. Member for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn) for introducing this Bill and say how honoured I am to have my name on the back of it.
The Financial Secretary, very generously from the Government's point of view, said that he wanted to hear the view of the House; the Government were not concerned about Gallup polls and what happens outside. However, he must realise that right hon. and hon. Members cannot shut their eyes to the fact that a Gallup poll was taken which showed that 8 out of 10 people in the country are in favour of the principle of this Bill.
I do not agree with one point which was made by my hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe (Mr. John Hall). He said that if we were to have a national lottery the proceeds should be for general 1794 purposes. I believe that the cause of medical research appeals to the public and that it does so appeal to a far greater extent than the paltry sums which both past and present Governments have spent on it. The cost of medical research is met out of the endowment funds of teaching hospitals. Under present and, indeed, past Government policies, the teaching hospitals are forced to supplement and subsidise the National Health Service out of those endowment funds which ought properly to be used, because they were so subscribed, for research. If a new theatre is being built in a hospital, the governors of that hospital will not skimp that new operating theatre to the figures which they are told by the Ministry. No, they spend the endowment fund money to make a good theatre of it. So it goes on in all the improvements in teaching hospitals and research suffers because the endowment funds are not being spent for their proper purposes.
It was significant that the Financial Secretary made no mention of any increased funds out of orthodox sources for medical research. Perhaps the Government are right in not risking the taxpayers' money on research, because frequently an expensive research project comes to nothing. On the other hand, frequently it is a winner. Medical research is a gamble which is perhaps an attractive argument for saying that the gambler would like to see his money spent on that.
It is absolutely certain that the money can be raised by means of a national lottery, money which would allow our medical research to leap ahead to the benefit of this country and, indeed, the world.
There is no need for us to be depressed about the brain drain. We can, if we have the money to put into medical research, reverse it. Indeed, in some cases the brain drain is reversed at present. In the hospital of which I am honoured to be a governor we have a famous American heart-valve surgeon leading a team and we have a famous Australian doctor in charge of the Richard Dimbleby Cancer Research Foundation. We have got the brain drain in reverse, but we could do with more money! How much more successful this country could be in its 1795 medical research and how much more we could do if we had more money.
My hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Sir S. McAdden) talked about chicken-feed when he mentioned the figures which had been given by the Financial Secretary as raised from lotteries in other countries. They were not chicken feed when applied to medical research. I am convinced that a national lottery would at least double or treble the money for that purpose than is put into it at the moment—a mere eleven million pounds a year. That is the amount which the Government provide, only £11 million a year for medical research. Why should we be denied that money from a source which has proved so successful in other countries, and certainly is not chicken feed?
I think that it is pompous pontification to say that all the other countries which hold national lotteries—those recited by the Financial Secretary—are demoralised because if it. One might as well say, if one is using that kind of argument, that the National Union of Townswomens' Guilds, the National Federation of Business and Professional Womens Clubs, the National League of Hospital Friends, the British Medical Association, and many others, are all demoralised because they support the idea of a national lottery. One might also say that such ordinary citizens as those who belong to the Amalgamated Society of Woodworkers, the Confederation of Health Service Employees, the National Union of Sheet Metal Workers and Coppersmiths, and many more——
§ Mr. Page
—yes, if it supports the principle of national lotteries, are demoralised. These are ordinary people to whom this proposition has been put over the past two or three years since I have been introducing this kind of Bill into the House. They have shown that they support it, and I do not think that the country will become demoralised by it.
We may, or may not, agree about the machinery of the Bill. The Financial Secretary said that the Government could not agree with it. It does not matter. We have amended Bills in Committee before now. We have produced out of 1796 Committee something entirely new from that which went into it. The Government themselves have not been averse to doing that, and I remember that the Prices and Incomes Bill and others which have gone into Committee and come out in a new form. If the House gives approval to the principle embodied in the Bill, we can put the machinery right.
We need not worry about the machinery, but it is said that it is the morals which matter. I do not know that the discussions which we have had about a tax on gaming and betting are particularly relevant. I am not sure that it is really relevant that 17 million people go into what has been called the squalid raffle of Premium Bonds. I do not know that it is particularly relevant that we tax things of which we do not approve; that the inspectors of taxes assess prostitutes on their earnings. We shall neither increase nor limit the natural instinct to gamble by a Bill of this sort. Nor do I think that we shall increase or limit the materialistic attitude to life to which reference has been made. It is my belief that an innocent flutter, whether in a parochial draw, or in a national lottery, will not turn us into a flabby nation.
I come back to my earlier statement that if we are to have a national lottery—and I hope that the House will approve the principle of the Bill—it should be in aid of medical research, and known to be for that purpose. Medical research is a subject which must remain so uncertain in its product that it will never be allotted sufficient funds from orthodox sources. I am convinced, having been concerned with it for many years, that no Government will give the medical profession what is really required to gamble in medical research, and unless we gamble in it we shall never get winners out of it.
It might be said that to talk about morals in this debate is hypocrisy, but I think the real hypocrisy occurs when it is said that the Government can raise this money from orthodox sources, that we can look to the Government to produce money for medical research from ordinary taxation. We shall never get that out of any Government, whether of my party, or the party opposite, because medical research does not attract orthodox money in that way. I despair of 1797 getting sufficient from orthodox sources. I am convinced that we can get it—and the public will be pleased to give it, and will do so generously and freely, if the public knows that it will go to medical research—from this little flutter of a national lottery.
Mr. Eric S. Huffier (Liverpool, Walton)
The hon. Gentleman has mentioned the Amalgamated Society of Woodworkers. I was not clear whether he was indicating that that Society held a lottery or was merely in favour of a national lottery. Will he explain?
§ 3.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Henry Clark (Antrim, North)
I apologise for not being present earlier, but the arguments that I have heard have been well worth while. What has struck me is that this is not a question on which anyone can honestly take a diehard view in either direction. We are not talking about the more reprehensible forms of gambling. There are certain good things about a national lottery, and nobody can hold his hand on his heart and say that the country will be demoralised if we have one.
I shall not accuse my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) of saying that the end will always justify the means when he talked about medical research. I take his point that it is a good thing to have a fund which is not under the same pressures as the Treasury is under, and from which things like medical research can be financed. I would not like to see the Board spending this money only on medical research, however, because there is a strong case for prevention rather than cure, and in my view money spent on recreation and participation in sport often saves as many lives as does medical research.
But although this country will not be demoralised by a national lottery I, like many others, tend to judge the character of the thing from a certain number of small, visible signs. When I discussed the Bill with the hon. Member for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn) I told him that to my 1798 mind national lotteries go together with republics, both banana and the other sort. They go with pavement cafés, decimal currency, coups d'état, unstable Governments and single-decker trams. They are all things that we can sum up as going with the kind of people that we see when we go beyond Calais.
I know that this country had a national lottery at one time, but as it rose—in stature it was discovered that it no longer needed a lottery, and could give it up in order to become a really great nation. I still have a feeling that if we start a national lottery it will be one more thing to show that we are declining in stature in the world, as the introduction of a decimal currency, with cents, will also make me feel that we are going down in world stature, like the republics that we find after we pass through Calais.
I agree that there are times when the House and the country would like slightly less stable Governments than we are always blessed with.
§ Mr. Clark
I feel that a national lottery is not a particularly dignified thing for a State to go in for. The Dublin Sweepstake is not a national lottery. It was initially promoted by private enterprise, although it received State sanction.
We ought to look carefully at the whole aspect of gambling.
§ Mr. Bernard Conlan (Gateshead, East)
On a point of order. Is it in order for an hon. Member from Northern Ireland to participate in this debate when the promoter of the Bill has made it clear that Northern Ireland is not included in its terms?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)
The hon. Member for Antrim, North (Mr. Henry Clark) is quite in order in participating in the debate.
§ Mr. Clark
I would take the hon. Gentleman's point, if northern Ireland could be completely isolated from the lottery. We participate in the same Treasury, although we have our own for some internal matters—including hospitals and medical research. If the hon. Gentleman could guarantee that no 1799 lottery ticket will be sold on the other side of the Irish Sea, I would admit that I had no right to speak, but we share the Treasury and we will share the tickets too.
That intervention allows me to point out that we have some interest in this. I will not put forward the normal Church case against gambling, since I have never believed that, in itself, it is intrinsically immoral. I can see that it could bring families to poverty and become a mania but I am not sure that many maniacs will buy national lottery tickets. There may be a few compulsive purchasers, and the man who spent 15s. or 20s. a week from a poor household on these tickets would not help the family budget, but one can take a different viewpoint.
It is true that gambling like this is not like horse racing or roulette, on which a man can lose a fortune in a short time, but the psychological aspect of this form of gambling is the important one. There is a growing tendency in this country to believe that luck is the main element in material wealth and not hard work or thrift, yet if people tout for the Board in every high street and post office, and sweep offices in the Strand suggest that the only way to get rich is to buy a lottery ticket, and, perhaps, win £25,000, £50,000 or even £100,000, that publicity will not make the ordinary family put away their 10s. or £1 a week to build up the little capital which will be the best
§ possible social security and help to build the national wealth.
§ If we encourage the attitude that a sweepstake ticket is better than a National Savings Certificate, I do not think that we will improve the nation's economy. In a worth-while article in the Financial Times in November, at the then height of our economic problems, Harold Wincott pointed out that, in West Ger many, 9 per cent. of personal incomes went in savings——
§ Mr. Clark
—and that, in 1964, the percentage for this country was 3 per cent. In the last four years, it has dropped to 2 per cent.
If the philosophy is presented to the public that the way to get rich quick is to buy lottery tickets, that will not encourage savings. Until we get a reasonable level of savings, neither the Government nor those who follow them will get our economy right. I cannot support the Bill because it will continue to spread, as has been spread already, the idea that luck and not hard work and brains and thrift is the way to build up the prosperity of the individual and of the country.
§ Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 69, Noes 17.1801
|Division No. 39.]||AYES||[3.30 p.m.|
|Alldritt, Walter||Hastings, Stephen||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Archer, Peter||Heffer, Eric S.||Paget, R. T.|
|Astor, John||Howie, W.||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)||Hunt, John||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred|
|Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)||Kimball, Marcus||Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)|
|Beaney, Alan||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Leadbitter, Ted||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoredith & F'bury)||Lipton, Marcus||Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Longden, Gilbert||Royle, Anthony|
|Conlan, Bernard||Luard, Evan||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Lubbock, Eric||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Dalyell, Tam||Mackie, John||Tinn, James|
|Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)||MacPherson, Malcolm||Tuck, Raphael|
|Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)||Maxwell, Robert||Urwin, T. W.|
|Delargy, Hugh||Mikardo, Ian||Wallace, George|
|English, Michael||Miscampbell, Norman||Weitzman, David|
|Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, yardley)||Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Forrester, John||Molloy, William||Whitaker, Ben|
|Foster, Sir John||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Freeson, Reginald||Moyle, Roland||Winnick, David|
|Ginsburg, David||Murray, Albert|
|Gregory, Arnold||Neave, Airey||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Orbaoh, Maurice||Mr. Gordon Oakes and|
|Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)||Mr. J. Kevin McNamara.|
|Hamilton, (william (Fife, W.)|
|Bell, Ronald||Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||Roebuck, Roy|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak)||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Cordle, John||Kerr, Russell (Feltham)|
|Costain, A. P.||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Currie, G. B. H.||MacColl, James||Sir Gerald Nabarro and|
|Drayson, G. B.||Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Sir Stephen McAdden.|
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Standing Committee pursuant to Standing Order No. 40 (Committal of Bills).