HC Deb 11 June 1968 vol 766 cc132-57
Mr. Callaghan

I beg to move Amendment No. 123, in page 14, line 6, leave out 'section' and insert ' Part of this Act'.

This is a drafting Amendment, required as a consequence of the use of the term " bingo club premises", not only in this Clause but in new Clause 2, which has now been inserted.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Callaghan

I beg to move Amendment No. 13, in page 14, line 9, at end insert:

(2) Where a game of bingo is played simultaneously on different bingo club premises in circumstances where—

  1. (a)all the players take part in the same game at the same time and all are present at that time on one or other of those premises, and
  2. (b)the draw takes place on one or other of those premises while the game is being played, and
  3. (c)any claim of one of the players to have won is indicated to all the other players before the next number is called,
then, if the conditions specified in the next following subsection are fulfilled, section 12(1) of this Act shall have effect in relation to that game as if those different premises were the same premises.

(2A) The conditions referred to in subsection (2) of this section, in relation to a game of bingo played simultaneously on different premises, are that—

  1. (a)the aggregate amount paid to players as winnings in respect of that game does not exceed the aggregate amount of the stakes hazarded by the players in playing that game, and
  2. (b)the aggregate amount paid to players as winnings in respect of that game, together with the aggregate amount paid to players as winnings in respect of all games of bingo which, in the circumstances specified in that subsection, have previously been played in the same week and have been so played on premises consisting of, or including any of, those premises, does not exceed £1,000.

(2B) Where subsection (2) of this section has effect in relation to a game of bingo played simultaneously on different premises, then, for the purposes of the application of subsections (2) and (3) of section 12 of this Act in relation to each of those premises, regard shall be had only to such of the players as are present on those particular premises.

Perhaps it would be convenient to discuss at the same time Amendment No. 17, in page 14, line 24, at beginning insert: 'Without prejudice to the operation (where applicable) of subsections (2) to (2B) of this section'; and Amendment No. 18, in page 14, line 25, at end insert 'particular'.

Amendment No. 13 is a substantial one, and represents a concession which I was invited to make by the Committee. Although I may not have gone as far as the Committee wanted, it is a concession on the original Bill. Clause 12(1), by providing that no one shall participate in gaming if he is not present on the premises at the time that the gaming takes place, prohibits the practice of "linked bingo". Linked bingo is a relatively new phenomenon. It is a game in which a number of clubs join together with the object of increasing the totality of the stakes and so the value of the prizes to be derived from them. It was represented in Committee that these linked games between different clubs should be allowed, but subject to the strict limit—which the Minister of State to the Treasury, when Under-Secretary gave—that no club might in a single week join in linked games in which the aggregate of the total prizes exceeded £1,000.

When I was discussing bingo on Second Reading I was not thinking of these linked games. There is a lesson to be learned here about the speed with which these things can mushroom. I watch one club each week to see what is happening. I will not identify it. There is no doubt that both the size and scale of the operations are increasing quite rapidly and that the harmless game of housey-housey which I played in the Andrew and which I thought, when I was speaking about bingo on Second Reading, was a harmless family game is not the same as the game which one now finds in operation. My education has certainly been improved in this regard. Should I say that it has been improved or worsened?

The Amendment is designed to confine the concession to clubs which are licensed for bingo alone. To prevent constant pressure being brought to bear to increase the stipulated maximum of £1,000, the customary power to vary limits of this kind by regulation has been deliberately omitted by me. Linked bingo —I say something controversial now, but I believe it to be true—has developed in defiance of the spirit of the 1963 Act. Some would argue that it has also developed in defiance of the letter of that Act. It has developed so as to attract players by prizes which are higher than any one club could hope to produce from its attendances. It converts bingo from a moderate and relatively innocuous game of a neighbourly kind, which is what it was, into a large-scale activity in which many thousands of people who have never met, who do not know one another and who are never likely to know one another, compete for prizes which are far from moderate and which tend all the time to increase with the additional linkages that go on.

It has far less of the character of gaming than of a lottery; and one run entirely for the profit of private promoters for prizes far in excess of the very small sums allowed under the 1963 Act, under which the total value of tickets or chances may not exceed £750. Bingo played on a single club's premises is as much a lottery as gaming, but, in so far as it conforms to the laws relating to gaming, the 1963 Act frees it from the prohibition of lotteries contained in that Act.

On the standard which I have been discussing—of clubs joining together to give reasonable prizes—the maximum of £1,000 is a generous one. I know that this is disputed by some, but only the very largest clubs can expect an attendance of 4,000 people and the level of staking is well below the average of 5s. per person which I have adopted for this calculation.

The new subsection (2) lays down the essential elements. All the players must be present on premises licensed for bingo and the draw must take place on those premises during the game so that the whole of the activity can be kept under the surveillance of the enforcing authorities. Any claim by a player that he has won must be indicated to all the other players before the next number is called. This must be done simultaneously. It can be done by various relaying devices, closed television circuits and so on. If clubs cannot devise such means, they have no need to take up these games.

It is not sufficient that games should be played separately in different premises, with the proceedings timed and recorded so as to determine the prize winners. I understand that this is called "The Golden Scoop", which has already been declared by the courts to be illegal because it does not constitute gaming. It is necessary, therefore, to insist on the principle of simultaneous play if that activity is to be given any colour of gaming; otherwise the concession would trespass outside the sphere of gaming.

Mr. Buck

I understood that the right hon. Gentleman was anxious to help small clubs. He must be aware that this is impracticable, that it will kill the linked game and that it will therefore be of no assistance whatever to the small club.

Mr. Callaghan

I do not know that at all. Indeed, we will probably find linked games going on. I have no doubt that already discussions are taking place between those who are primarily concerned to see how they can meet the proposals contained in the new subsection. The hon. Gentleman underestimates both their desire to do this and their ingenuity in findings ways and means of doing it.

The new subsection (2A) contains the conditions to be applied to linked games. These are that all stakes must be returned in winnings and that the aggregate prizes in a game, together with the aggregate of any previous games played in the same week, must not exceed £1,000 in the same licensed premises. This seems a realistic prize, on the basis on which we have, as a Committee and in the House, drawn up specially relaxed regulations to cover bingo.

When I introduced the Bill I made it clear then that I did not wish to insist on the same harsh provisions to be applied to bingo as to gaming. It is important, when drawing up rules, that we should preserve the essential character of the game of bingo as I understood it, as I still understand it and as I would like to see it played. If it is to develop into really big business, the operations of the gaming laws must apply. But if it is kept broadly along the lines which I have indicated, and which represent a substantial concession to points of view put forward, then I believe that we shall be both meeting the desires of the pro- moters as well as preserving for the public the sort of safeguards which are necessary in this matter.

8.30 p.m.

Mr. Buck

It is interesting to hear the latest version of the Home Secretary's view of bingo. Apparently since Second Reading he has learned about linked bingo and now believes that it is no longer a cosy family game. Earlier, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) referred to the right hon. Gentleman's naivety. It might seem presumptuous of me to do likewise, but I must say that I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should have so altered his view of bingo since learning about the linked form of the game.

On Second Reading, the right hon. Gentleman drew a clear distinction between bingo—which he described as essentially a harmless family game—and hard gaming. I am sure that he is right to draw a complete distinction between bingo and hard gaming. On the whole, it is hard gaming which we have up to now been considering, and we have been dealing with the small numbers of people who indulge in hard gaming and staking relatively large sums, and some of those people perhaps become compulsive gamblers and ruin themselves.

But now, with bingo, we are dealing with an enormous number of people. No fewer than 8 to 10 million of the people of this country are members of bingo clubs and play bingo with a greater or lesser degree of regularity, but they are staking only very small stakes—6s. to 8s. during the course of an evening, as the Home Secretary talked about. That is about the average figure. In Colchester, it is marginally higher. In the major bingo hall there the average stake is slightly higher at around 10s. It is a sign, perhaps, of the healthy financial position people achieved in what are called by some the 13 wasted years.

However, this is totally different from hard gambling, for we have 8 to 10 million people playing bingo regularly and enjoying it, but it is not a family game, and it is surprising that the Home Secretary should apparently seriously think that it is, as he said on Second Reading that it was. He called it a family game, but I do not think that was an appropriate description. If, as he says, he keeps an eye regularly on one bingo club he might have thought it an odd description to call it a family game— when finding several thousands of people playing it in what was once a cinema. But though not a family game, it is an innocuous game.

Are we being sensible by eliminating the linked game of bingo? In my submission, that is precisely what the Amendment would do; it would, in effect, eliminate the linked game. How did the Home Secretary arrive at this figure of £1,000 a week? We asked in Committee for information about this. What scientific evidence is there that this is the appropriate and right figure? Or has somebody in the Home Office just taken a figure and doubled it or halved it? What basis is there for suggesting that this is the right figure? Why do we want to eliminate the linked game at all?

Is there any evidence that the linked game has been carried on in a corrupt way? I have never heard any such suggestion. I have heard suggestions about punctured ping-pong balls in bingo halls —small halls; but I have not heard about it in relation to the big, reputable people. I know from personal experience that at the local bingo hall the equipment is every night scrutinised by the regulars with quite amazing attention, and people are brought on the stage to examine it.

There could be no opportunity, in my view, in a major bingo hall for any corruption, and certainly not within the linked game, for which, under the Bill, we provide an added safeguard, because there will be the overall supervision of the Gaming Board. Is there any appropriate evidence that there has ever been anything corrupt about the linked game? I suggest, no.

If the Home Secretary is worried—and I think that there may appropriately be some cause for concern here—about the escalation of the amount, let us have a reasonable amount, not £1,000 a week, which will make the thing totally uneconomic and absurd. I would suggest that the appropriate criterion for the limit on the amount should be, that it should be not one who disrupts a person's life, which alters the whole pattern of his life —not the sort of amount which can be won on the football pools or which, no doubt, will be able to be won on the national lottery in due course. The amount should be one which constitutes a pleasant windfall out of which a person can pay off the mortgage on his house or buy a new car.

In an Amendment to this Amendment, which is not being called, we have suggested winnings of £1,000 in one game. I put forward an Amendment in Committee for £3,000. Some of my more puritanical colleagues persuaded me that £1,000 might be more appropriate. I agree with limiting the sum to £1,000 for a single winning, but setting a limit of £1,000 in a week is not practical. I think that it will mean that there will be no linked game of bingo in the future.

The Home Secretary will not help the small bingo halls by the Amendment. The requirement under subsection (2)(c) that any claim of one of the players to have won is indicated to all the others before the next number is called will make expensive machinery necessary. If the small halls could overcome the difficulty of finding a practical way of meeting that requirement the amount they could give through a linked prize could be very small over a week. It would be nowhere near the sort of prizes which could still be paid out by the big bingo halls, where at present several hundreds of pounds are paid out on the principal game in an evening in some halls.

I am bitterly disappointed at the so-called concession, because it will do no good. It will provide no help for the small bingo hall and will probably benefit the larger operator instead. By limiting the amount of the prize to such an absurdly low sum the Home Secretary is taking the "go" out of bingo. He is taking a lot of excitement and zip out of it. In the hall where I have seen bingo played in my constituency I have watched large numbers of people enjoying themselves extremely innocently. When the linked game comes up there is an intensification of the atmosphere, an excitement which I do not consider harmful.

The Home Secretary says that he does not want to encourage people to play bingo so much.

Mr. Callaghan

indicated dissent.

Mr. Buck

If the right hon. Gentleman says that I am wrong to suggest that, why does not he allow the halls to advertise? I understood that he wanted to keep down the level of bingo-playing. If I am wrong, perhaps he will correct me. If not, he has no answer to the point that he should have allowed advertising of bingo. His conduct, all his utterances from a standing position, if not from a sitting position, and the Amendment, lead us to suppose that he wishes to clamp down on the amount of bingo and other gaming.

In the bingo hall in my constituency that I have visited I have seen old people enjoying themselves, and I wonder what they would be doing if they were not in a bingo hall with other people. They would probably be at home before their television sets, perhaps fast asleep and utterly lonely. It is probably unrealistic to think that they would be indulging in worthwhile activities elsewhere, although perhaps hon. Members opposite are more optimistic. They are enjoying themselves there in a social atmosphere and I do not see that that is a great evil.

By this "concession", which is no concession, the Home Secretary is taking away a certain amount of pleasure from the many thousands of people who play bingo. It is a great pity that he is seeking virtually to eliminate the linked game. It puts a zip into bingo, which is enjoyed by many people throughout the country.

Mr. Oakes

I am sorry that in a debate which has been conducted very well in Committee and here from both sides the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Buck) should use slogans such as "taking the 'go' out of bingo". The House should appreciate the tremendous concessions my right hon. Friend has made on bingo since Second Reading. Does the House realise that until the Bill becomes an Act it is doubtful whether linked bingo should be played at all? It is of doubtful legality.

Far from taking the "go" out of bingo, the Bill and the concessions my right hon. Friend has made establish it as a proper legal game, provided that it is within certain limits. Though I welcome this concession, there are one or two aspects that I do not fully understand. These concern the limit of £1,000 per week.

One of the difficulties is that there are so many different forms of playing bingo and linked bingo that it is difficult to get a provision that would adequately cover the situation. I understand that people do not go to a bingo hall to play linked bingo. They go to play bingo. During the evening, as an added attraction, there is a link-up between various bingo halls. If only £1,000 in a week is to be paid out in prizes, I do not know how the bingo operators will be able to work the provision.

Supposing that on a Monday they have paid out a certain amount of money in prizes on linked bingo and then on Wednesday or Thursday a prize comes along, what do they do with the people in the hall? In bingo, all the stakes must be returned as prize money. Therefore, if this is to be on a weekly and not a per game basis, it means that the operator must either refuse admission to a certain number of people or he must tell those already in the hall, "We are linking with other halls but I regret that as we have overrun the limit only a certain number of you can play." This would be an impossible imposition on an operator and on the bingo players.

Obviously, there must be a limit because, with 8 to 10 million bingo players in the country, one could visualise what would happen technologically with the link-up of more and more halls. It would cease to be anything like the game we know today. It would cease to be linked bingo and would become a lottery on a grand scale if a very large number of halls were linked together. I ask my right hon. Friend to look at the limit again, not necessarily as a limit in itself but as a limit per game and not per week. I cannot see how this provision could be worked on a weekly basis.

Mr. Kitson

I agree with the hon. Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Oakes). This provision would be completely unworkable. The Home Secretary was nodding when his hon. Friend was speaking, so presumably he agrees that it would be unworkable.

Surely we are getting this matter out of proportion. Spotting the ball in a Sunday newspaper competition can win a person £5,000. In a fashion competition, which is really only a form of lottery in getting numbers in the right order, a person can win £5,000. The attraction of the totalisator is the jackpot. In gambling of any form, the attraction is the large prize. The figure of £1,000 is far too low in terms of other prizes. The attraction, if we have a national lottery, will be the large prizes. The attraction in football pools is not the small dividends, but the large ones. To think in terms of £1,000 as the total amount in a week in a bingo hall in linked bingo betting is getting the matter out of all proportion.

I remind the right hon. Gentleman that the first big jackpot winner at Ascot last year happened to be someone from Cardiff who was in Cardiff at the time. He won £72,000.

8.45 p.m.

Mr. Hugh D. Brown (Glasgow, Provan)

I have the feeling that no one will be calling "House" during this debate, because I do not think that anybody can be a winner on this subject.

The hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Kitson) tried to suggest that because we were concerned about this problem we were being quite unrealistic in the sense of the opportunity that people have to play spot the ball and all the other innocuous forms of time-wasting that we indulge in.

I must admit I have never managed to work out how spot the ball winners are picked, because the air must be positively thick with balls. However, we are discussing linked games at the moment. Surely the argument that spot the ball is a nice quiet family game is, in effect, true in the sense that it is done at home. Therefore, the comparison that the hon. Member was trying to make was quite ridiculous: bingo is not a family game in that sense.

I am quite sure that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary might be regretting that he has achieved such fame as to be included in the attractive brochure by the National Association of Bingo Clubs. I do not know whether it will do him good in an election address, but the quote he made about bingo being a harmless family game will, I am quite sure, be one of the things that will be used against him for years to come, because there is no doubt that linked bingo is not a harmless family game in the sense that my right hon. Friend meant.

We seem to be covering so many aspects of gaming and gambling in the Bill that we really have to break down bingo and linked bingo into the type of person who indulges in it. For example, I always find it amusing, when listening to one of the hon. Members here wondering whether the hours for gaming clubs should be 12 or all day, or whether they should finish at six o'clock in the morning, because I am quite sure that some ignorant people would imagine that the only people who play bingo at these hours would be some coloured immigrants living on public money with no intention of finding a job.

There are some decent, honest people who live normal lives and do go to work who indulge in bingo, and we have to examine seriously the social implications of linked bingo. I have had representations made to me, as have other hon. Members, showing a certain amount of sympathy on the question of linked bingo, but we have to face up to the logic of the argument that there should be no limitation. If there should be no limitation on linked bingo it seems to me that we are opening the floodgates for commercialism, with take-over bids in a big way. The small proprietor would be out on his neck.

We are concerned about the small club, the kind of community club that perhaps would be regarded, quite rightly, as a harmless way of passing time for all people in the community. I think that the Members opposite are doing a disservice to the cause they are championing if they suggest that we can leave it in an unrestricted fashion.

Mr. Buck

We have not.

Mr. Brown

The hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Buck) is not, I know, suggesting that it should be unrestricted, but I think that, equally, he would agree that it is a compromise that is not desirable to some extent, for reasons which I will not go into. I think that everyone accepts that to leave this matter without some form of control would be disastrous, but we are faced with the dilemma of how to achieve some form of control which makes sense and is administratively practical. I am not sure whether the Opposition's proposal is a practical one. It would not do anything to prevent the commercialisation of the game itself. It would merely mean that there would be more prize winners. The inducement for big organisations to take over small clubs would not be eliminated.

Would it be possible to limit the number of cards a person can buy, or to specify the number of premises which can be linked? I fear that the Home Office and my right hon. Friend have not made sufficient examination of what I think most of us have in mind. We want some variety. Bingo is an absolutely boring game. It would drive most people "nuts" if they played it for six or seven days a week, but it is a sad reflection on our affluent society that apparently many people enjoy doing this.

I should like my right hon. Friend to look at this matter again with a view to finding some way of limiting the number of clubs which can be linked. That might be an effective way of avoiding commercialisation because it would have some effect on the amount of prize money. I shall support my right hon. Friend, although I think that the Government Amendment is a bit of a shambles and that the matter has not been properly thought out. I would be prepared to back it if for no other reason than that it is a warning to commercial proprietors that we want to limit and control the practice of expanding the amount of prize money which can be paid through linked games.

I accept that there is no question of corruption; I do not think that anyone has suggested that. I hope that my right hon. Friend will agree to look at this problem again, bearing in mind the principles which most of us want to apply, and which I am sure he shares.

Mr. Deedes

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Hugh D. Brown) has introduced the point which I wanted to make to the Home Secretary. I am not a passionate advocate of linked bingo. I do not feel qualified to speak about linked bingo. I doubt whether we know enough about the implications of the game to start determining in detail how it should run in the months and years ahead.

I enjoin on the Home Secretary a measure of consistency. I am not comparing the Amendment proposed here with the pool at Ascot or the prizes given elsewhere, although my hon. Friend had a perfectly valid point. I mean consist- ency in respect of the Bill. As we have gone through the Bill there has emerged a pattern in which matters have tended to get into three compartments; matters which are for decision by us; matters which are for decision by the Board, and matters which are for decision by the Home Secretary. The question one asks is, by whom is this matter to be decided? I doubt whether it comes within the Home Secretary's category. It seems to be pre-eminently something which will have to be decided later on, or at least varied later on in the light of experience by the Board, possibly in consultation with the Home Secretary.

The hon. Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Oakes) said that we had moved a long way from Second Reading; he is quite right. The Home Office conceded a £1,000 limit at the Committee stage. By what stages did the Home Office arrive at the new compromise decision? At Second Reading in February there was to be no linked bingo. At Committee stage it was to be limited to £1,000 in a week. Will the Gaming Board after the first six months of its existence find that we have now hit on the right sum? It is doubtful.

I am suspicious about the manner in which the decision has been reached. We are giving the Board powers to deal with the livelihood and careers of croupiers; it has tremendous powers to do that and to deal with a number of establishments in conjunction with local licensing, but apparently it will not be fit to determine the size of a linked bingo kitty. This is what I mean by inconsistency, allocating the wrong functions to the wrong people.

I agree with the hon. Gentleman when he said that there may be other ways in which this can be limited to relieve the evils which the Home Secretary has in mind and at the same time to provide the added excitement which most bingo players want. Something is urgently needed to relieve the monotony of playing bingo on the ordinary level, and I have some sympathy with those who want to see a big prize at some point in the evening.

With all respect to the Home Secretary's advisers and the consultations that I am sure have gone on, how sure is the Home Secretary that he has it right? What crystal was used for this decision? May I suggest that we award to those who have to make the decisions the right decisions in the right places, and leave this to the Board to decide a little later on.

Mr. Blenkinsop

I have some sympathy with the right hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) as to whether this is a matter for the Board. I have been encouraged by the view expressed by many hon. Members that this proposal would drive out linked bingo. I have been appalled by the cri de coeur, the passionate plea by the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Buck), on behalf of commercialised bingo. Of all the subjects that we could be concerned about in the House this is the one which wrings my withers least. I feel obliged to regard the hon. Member with some anxiety when he keeps his passion for this subject.

The cammercialised exploitation of this form of activity, like many others, has destroyed what was a perfectly reasonable family or local affair. Local old people's bingo and other activities for raising money for a multitude of worthy causes are gone, destroyed utterly by the commercial development of these major units which pretend that this is all done for the welfare of elderly people. The Rank Organisation—one talks about hypocrisy; some there might qualify for the term—came to me explaining that the whole of their vast organisation in the town which I represent was very largely for the benefit of old people and extolled the great welfare services that they ran.

I do not deny that there are some welfare aspects to it. Nor do I suggest that this is a crooked operation. But any claims on welfare grounds are wholly misleading, and the operations in modern bingo halls and cinemas, even more so when linked with others all over the country, put the matter on a wholly different level.

9.0 p.m.

Some people try to give the impression that this sort of arrangement applies only to one game. However, in one form or another bingo is being played all the time. One cannot have a sandwich or drink without some form of bingo being on top of one. If one goes for a tour in the country, bingo is played on the train. It is all a commercial operation run to make profit and, if this provision helps either to restrict or end linked bingo, which perhaps is more vicious than other forms, I shall be quite happy about it.

My anxiety about the Amendment is concerned with the weakening of my right hon. Friend in making concessions. I went to meet all my bingo committed friends in my constituency—no doubt they are my enemies now—and argued the case as I saw it. Behind my back, I find my right hon. Friend making concessions in all directions. However, my concern is the other way. My anxiety is whether he has gone too far and we are spending a lot of time expressing fears about something which should not worry us.

Mr. Gwilym Roberts (Bedfordshire, South)

I sympathise with the intentions of the Amendment, but I feel that it is perhaps something of a shambles, because I do not think that it will achieve what it is setting out to do. Undoubtedly, the aim of my right hon. Friend is to stop the escalation of bingo playing, but I do not think that the Amendment will achieve that, because, as one of my hon. Friends pointed out, people will play bingo for almost anything, irrespective of the prize money involved.

If one wishes to contain the sport, if I may use that term, the direction in which my right hon. Friend should aim is the amount which an individual should be allowed to invest in or stake on the sport—

Mr. Blenkinsop

As one who is interested in sport, I do urge my hon. Friend not to use that word to describe bingo.

Mr. Roberts

I feel that the aim should be to, limit the amount which an individual is allowed to invest or stake. It could be done to some extent by limiting the number of tickets which could be bought. An even better way would be to limit the total money which each individual may stake. However, limiting the prize money to the amount suggested in the Amendment is neither practicable or workable.

Perhaps £1,000 per game might work out very much better on a linked basis. We have to accept that people who go to halls to play games of this sort do so with two aims in mind. The first is that of getting some entertainment. The second is the chance of a fairly large win. If they cannot get this by having link odds against their investment their only alternative is to try to increase the size of their investment. I feel that the Home Secretary's target should be the size of the total investment. This Amendment will not solve the problem in any way whatever. I would feel much happier at allowing some link-up of the order of £1,000 a game or some figure of that kind.

Mr. Carlisle

The first comment I would make on the speech of the hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Gwilym Roberts) is that he has advocated the wording of an Amendment which unfortunately has not been called. I appreciate the reasons why it has not been called. The hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South has put forward the argument that we put forward about limiting the prize to £1,000 in any game.

This has been a somewhat extraordinary debate in which the Home Secretary has been supported by the hon. Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Oakes) who, in announcing that he would support the right hon. Gentleman, said that the Amendment was unworkable; the hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South, who, in saying he would vote for the Amendment, said that it was a shambles: and the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Blenkinsop) who is now convinced that the Amendment does not do what the Home Secretary believes that it does.

The real reason why we on this side will vote against the Amendment is not because we do not believe that linked bingo should be permitted, but because we are satisfied that the Home Secretary's proposal is a shambles, as it has been described by one of his hon. Friends. Should we, with the support of hon. Gentlemen opposite, win the Division on this Amendment, we would propose in another place to put into the Bill what we believe are the right proposals on this game.

Coming back to the question of linked bingo, and accepting that these proposals will kill the idea of linked bingo, I ask the Home Secretary: why does this House wish to prevent it? What is the evil in linked bingo to which we should object? I understand that the average stake money is sixpence. Surely it is not suggested that linked bingo is the kind of thing which encourages people to spend more than they can afford. The only objection must be that whereas in a house game for sixpence one may win £50 or £100, in the linked game one may win several hundred pounds or possibly over £1,000. If that is so, the only evil which we are trying to prevent by the Home Secretary's method in the Amendment is the winning of large sums of money for very small stakes.

To a great degree I have sympathy with that aim. I said in Committee, as did many of my hon. Friends, that I do not think it is socially acceptable that people, on the turn of a coin, the win of a horse or whatever other means, should win sums of money which overnight uproot and change their way of life, because I believe it brings hardship rather than comfort.

An Hon. Member: For sixpence?

Mr. Carlisle

This is the point. At sixpence a time in the national game— and some games are 1s. 6d.—the objection of the Home Secretary is that by that means people can win sums far in excess of what should be permitted. That is the argument. I cannot see how that argument can possibly be justified by the Home Secretary, as a member of the Government, at the same time advocating a national lottery in which the sums likely to be won are far in excess of anything which can be won on linked bingo. I believe that there is an evil in sums completely out of proportion to the amount of money staked, but I do not see how one can bring in such a provision relating to linked bingo and yet allow pools, Premium Bonds and national lotteries in the way that we do. If that is the objection, I believe that it was met by our Amendment which would have limited the prize to £1,000 rather than, as this Amendment does, limit the stake money in a week to £1,000.

I come back to the question of it being unworkable, and it is surely unworkable for this reason: how is it possible to limit the amount of money which is to be paid out in prize money to a definite sum per week at the same stage as one is saying that any money accepted as stake money must be paid out in prize money? This is impossible to achieve. We cannot prevent the amount of money going up if at the same time we say it must be 100 per cent. of the money taken in, other than by the means suggested of having someone go round the hall saying, "Stop! We cannot take money from the next lady because we find that we have hit our £1,000 for the week"—though how they are to know what has been taken in the other halls, heaven only knows. I believe, therefore, that it is unworkable.

I will explain why, for the same reasons mentioned by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Hugh D. Brown), I come to an exactly opposite conclusion and why I believe linked bingo should be allowed. Wishing to limit the prizes, he expressed concern that the existence of linked bingo helped commercialisation and the big men at the cost of the small. I believe that the effect of preventing linked bingo is likely to have an exactly opposite effect. I will give an example.

Let us take one of the biggest national companies concerned in bingo. It has a hall in Streatham which holds 2,500 people. Play in that hall alone can and does produce cash prizes of something in the region of £250 to £300; whereas a hall which has 200 people presumably produces house prizes in the region of about £10. The small hall does not lose by the linked game, but linking means that those in the small hall have an equal opportunity—and this should appeal to the hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Gwilym Roberts) who is so keen on national lotteries—with the person in the big hall to win one of the larger prizes. Thus, the small hall is helped by being entitled to take part in that opportunity of winning a major prize. I believe this has been proved to be so. I am not going into it at this time, but there are figures which I believe show that for the two major organisations which run linked bingo the first prize appears to work out at between £500 and £1,000 in an evening game.

I do not believe there is any serious evil in linked bingo providing we limit, as I believe we should, the maximum amount of the first prize. Because the Home Secretary, with respect, believes there is something abhorrent about linked bingo, he is merely going to remove from many people a perfectly acceptable and to them enjoyable pastime without any possible benefits at all for society. All he is doing is removing from them the opportunity to indulge in one form of a lottery whereas at the same time this Government themselves encourages people to take part in many others. I do not believe there is any advantage in this Amendment. I feel that linked bingo with reasonable prizes should be allowed because I believe it gives enjoyment and amusement to many people.

9.15 p.m.

Mr. Elystan Morgan

I hope that the House will not think me unduly paternalistic, or too puritanical, or prudish if I say that I am largely in agreement with nearly everything said by my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Blenkinsop). I believe that the House should look at this question against the background of the substantial concession which has been made to bingo interests and bingo players. I think that it would be proper for those who advocate very much higher sums, and who charge the Government with hypocrisy, to bear in mind that there were strong pressures on the Government not to make any concession at all, or, if a concession was made, to limit it to a very much smaller one.

Secondly, the question should be considered against the background of the tremendous jungle growth which has occurred in the development of bingo over the last seven or eight years. Since 1960, about 10 million people have become members of bingo clubs. Britain now has more than 2,000 bingo clubs. In France, there are about 150 gaming clubs, and I venture to suggest that it is against such a canvas that we must consider this issue.

The hon. Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle) asked what evil there was in this system. It might perhaps have been proper for him to have considered the words of his right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg), who said that gaming lowered the intellect. It is not for me to argue whether it does or does not, but I put it to the hon. Gentleman that at some point where bingo consumes more and more of the time of the public and more and more of their assets, must not the question be asked: has it, or has it not, reached an unbearable point?

Parliament must obviously take heed of the development which has taken place over the last few years and ask itself whether the time has come to seek to contain the very rapid growth of bingo. It is a game which, in itself, would appear to be intrinsically attractive. It was played in Roman times. It was exported from Italy as "Lotto" in or about 1780, and it has consistently been popular in many countries. If the point is reached when a very high proportion of the incomes of ordinary people, a very high proportion of their time, and a very high proportion of their interest is taken up by bingo, does it not assume the proportions of a social peril?

The point has been made by the hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks. (Mr. Kitson) and reiterated by the hon. Member for Runcorn that the system proposed is unworkable. We do not accept that argument. Our object is to control the scale of this activity, and a limit on the maximum prize will not do that, since bingo can be played to provide whatever number of prizes the organisers choose.

This is the rock upon which so much of our gambling legislation in the last eight years has foundered. To make certain that the concession does not get out of hand, we must limit the number of prizes in a game and the maximum in each. If we were to accept an alternative system, this would bring us to the same point but on an ascending spiral. We see no reason why clubs participating in a linked game should not be required to limit the number of books sold so as to correspond in value to the number of prizes intended to be offered.

The point is the price of each book, which might be 1s. if 20,000 were expected to be sold or 5s. if it were 4,000. If the clubs found it impossibly embarrassing or difficult to let the books run out, so that some intending players were disappointed, or to devise some selection for this contingency, the only remedy would be to over-insure, in the knowledge that some books were liable to remain unsold and that the ultimate prizes might be somewhat below the £1,000 maximum. We have chosen a maximum which is high by the standards which we are applying so as to leave a proper margin for this.

It has been suggested that it would be proper to transfer the fundamental decisions here to the Board. This is a social question of great magnitude which will be of increasing importance. It cannot be palmed off upon a Board which is not responsible to the electorate. This is a decision which the Government must make—

Sir S. McAdden

The hon. Gentleman says that this is a social question of great magnitude and must not be palmed off on the Board, yet, earlier, the social question of whether cabarets and casinos should operate in the same building was palmed off on the Board. Why does he make this distinction now?

Mr. Morgan

The hon. Gentleman is under a misconception. The question of cabarets has not been palmed off on the Board. The decision, essentially, will lie with the Home Secretary and with Parliament. There is nothing in the Bill relating to cabarets in that connection. The Home Secretary is empowered to make regulations—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member must come back to bingo.

Mr. Morgan

My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Hugh D. Brown) made the interesting point that a better way of limiting the rapid growth of bingo was to put some restriction on the number of clubs which would be allowed to take part in a link. This is certainly attractive and it has been considered by the Government, but hon. Members can probably see the great difficulties which it would create. It would inevitably lead to much bigger clubs, which would be a complete defeat for the cri de coeur which has been put forward on behalf of small, struggling clubs, which can provide prizes of only £15, £20 and £25.

The Government have made substantial concessions to bingo interests and players in Clause 20. It is facile and unfair to argue on the basis of those concessions that bingo should be dealt with again in a more liberal way. The background to the situation is that a form of gaming which at the moment is almost certainly illegal has, by the Bill, been made legal, but we have placed a certain limit. We have done this after considerable reflection. I believe that if we were to go further we would be imperilling society on account of the great potential for the further rapid development of this game of bingo.

Question put, That the Amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 182 Noes 127.

Division No. 210.] AYES [9.25 p.m.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Frenon, Reginald Oakes, Gordon
Alldritt, Walter Galpern, Sir Myer Ogden, Eric
Anderson, Donald Garrett, W. E. O'Malley, Brian
Archer, Peter Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. Orme, Stanley
Armstrong, Ernest Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Oswald, Thomas
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Grey, Charles (Durham) Owen, Will (Morpeth)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Paget, R. T.
Barnes, Michael Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly) Palmer, Arthur
Baxter, William Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Parker, John (Dagenham)
Bidwell, Sydney Hamilng, William Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Bishop, E. S. Hannan, William Pavitt, Laurence
Blackburn, F. Harper, Joseph Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Haseldine, Norman Pentland, Norman
Boston, Terence Hattersley, Roy Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Boyden, James Hazell, Bert Price, William (Rugby)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Heffer Eric S. Probert, Arthur
Bradley, Tom Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret Randall, Harry
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Hooley, Frank Rees, Meriyn
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Hooson Emlyn Reynolds, G. W.
Brown,Bob(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.) Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Rhodes, Geoffrey
Buchan, Norman Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough) Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Robinson, w. 0. J. (Walth'stow, E)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.) Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Rose, Paul
Cant, R. B. Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Carmichael, Neil Jeger,Mrs.Lena(H'b'n&St.P'cras,S.) Shaw, Aronld (Ilford, S.)
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull W.) Sheldon, Robert
Chapman, Donald Jones, Dan (Burnley) Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Coe, Denis Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West) Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton,N.E.)
Coleman, Donald Lawson, George Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Concannon, J. D. Leadbitter, Ted Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Ledger, Ron Slater, Joseph
Crawshaw, Richard Lestor, Miss John Small, William
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Lever, Harold (cheetham) Spriggs, Leslie
Dalyell, Tam Lomas, Kenneth Stonehouse, John
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Luard, Evan Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway) Lyon, Alexander w. (York) Symonds, J. B.
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) McBride, Neil Taverne, Dick
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) MacColl, James Tinn, James
Davies, Harold (Leek) Macdonald, A. H. Varley, Eric G.
Davies, Ifor (Gower) McKay, Mrs. Margaret Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Dempsey, James Mackintosh, John P. Wallace, George
Diamond, Rt. Hn. John Maclennan, Robert Watkins, David (Consett)
Dickens, James McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)
Doig, Peter Mallalieu, J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.) Weitzman, David
Dunnett, Jack Manuel, Archie Wellbeloved James
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Marks, Kenneth Wells, William(Walsall, N.)
Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) Marquand, David Wilkins, W. A.
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Edwards, William (Merioneth) Mendelson, J. J. Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Ellis, John Mikardo, Ian Wilis,Rt.Hn.George(Edinburgh,E.)
Ensor, David Millan, Bruce Winnick, David
Evans, Abert (Isington, S.W.) Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test) Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Faulds, Andrew Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Woof, Robert
Fernyhough, E. Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Yates, Victor
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Moyle, Roland
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Newens, Stan TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Forrester, John Noel-Baker,Rt.Hn.Philip(Derby,S.) Mr. Ernest G. Perry and
Fraser, John (Norwood) Norwood, Christopher Mr. Ioan L. Evans.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Clegg, Walter
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n) Body, Richard Cooke, Robert
Awdry, Daniel Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Costain, A. P.
Baker, Kenneth (Acton) Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Buck, Antony (Colchester) Cunningham, Sir Knox
Balniel, Lord Burden, F. A. Currie, G. B. H.
Bell, Ronald Carlisle, Mark Dance, James
Bitten, John Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Davidson, James(Aberdeenshire,W.)
Black, Sir Cyril Chichester-Clark, R. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry
Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) Jopling, Michael Peyton, John
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Pounder, Rafton
Digby, Simon Wingfield Kirk, Peter Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Drayson, G. B. Kitson, Timothy Pym, Francis
du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Knight, Mrs. Jill Quennell, Miss J. M.
Eden, Sir John Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Rees-Davies, W. R.
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Emery, Peter Lubbock, Eric Rossi, Hugh (Homsey)
Errington, Sir Eric McAdden, Sir Stephen Russell, Sir Ronald
Eyre, Reginald MacArthur, Ian Sharples, Richard
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Mackenzie,Alasdair(Ross&Crom'ty) shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Fortescue, Tim Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain Silvester, Frederick
Foster, Sir John McMaster, Stanley Smith, John (London & W'minster)
Glyn, Sir Richard Maddan, Martin Speed, Keith
Goodhew, Victor Maginnis, John E. Stainton, Keith
Gower, Raymond Maude, Angus steel, David (Roxburgh)
Grant, Anthony Mawby, Ray Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)
Gresham Cooke, R. Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Taylor, Edward M.(G'gow.Cathcart)
Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Mills, Peter (Tornington) Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Gurden, Harold Miscampbell, Norman Temple, John M.
Hall, John (Wycombe) Montgomery, Fergus Tilney, John
Hamilton, Lord (Fermanagh) More, Jasper Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Hastings, Stephen Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh) van Straubenzee, W. R.
Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Wall, patrick
Higgins, Terence L. Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Ward, Dame Irene
Hiley, Joseph Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Webster, David
Hogg, nt. Hn. Quintin Nabarro, Sir Gerald Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Hordern, Peter Neave, Airey Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Hornby, Richard Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Worsley, Marcus
Hunt, John Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Iremonger, T. L. Orr-Ewmg, Sir Ian TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth) Mr. Bernard Wcatherill and
Jenkin, Patrick (woodford) Page, Graham (Crosby) Mr. Hector Monro.
Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Page, John (Harrow, W.)

Further Amendments made: No. 14, in page 14, line 11, leave out ' 12(2)' and insert '12(3)'.

No. 15, in page 14, line 12, leave out from 'from' to end of line 18 and insert: he was admitted" to "the premises in question, and " were omitted, and for the words " forty-eight hours" there were substituted the words " twenty-four hours ", and (b) paragraph (b) were omitted'.—[Mr. Elystan Morgan.]

Mr. Elystan Morgan

I beg to move Amendment No. 16, in page 14, line 23, at end insert: (4) In relation to any bingo club premises, section 19 of this Act shall have effect as if, in subsection (2) of that section, for the words from ' and consists of' to the end of the subsection, there were substituted the words ' and is a function of a kind prescribed by regulations made for the purposes of this subsection '.

The Amendment operates on Clause 19(2) in such a way as to confine, in respect of premises licensed for bingo only, the obligation on gaming operatives to obtain certificates of approval from the Board to those who fulfill functions of a kind that may be prescribed by regulations. It is recognised that to require every operative in a bingo club, and in particular the large number of usherettes, to obtain certificates of approval would be unnecessarily burdensome to some of the clubs, to the individuals and to the Board.

On the other hand, there are certain bingo operatives such as callers who clearly should be certificated. Since it is not possible at this stage to identify precisely what kinds of operative may need to be vetted by the Board, and since bingo, like other games, is liable to evolve, it has been thought best to leave the definition to regulations to be made after consultation with the Board.

Mr. Buck

I referred in passing to the Amendment when we earlier gave the Board the arbitrary power to define a person who must be certificated for the purposes of operating any gaming. We take the view that it is right that the Board should be able to say that certain categories of people who work in bingo halls do not have to be certificated. We raised this point in Committee, and the Amendment has been put down as a result of assurances given by the hon. Gentleman's predecessor.

It would be absurd that usherettes or people who sell the cards in bingo halls and later adopt a different role, such as selling ice cream, should have to be approved by the Gaming Board. No doubt in due course the Board will lay down the specific activities which must be certificated and the whole of the rest of the staff will be outside the ambit of this type of restriction. Therefore, we welcome the Amendment.

The only thing that worries me somewhat is that we are putting considerable burdens on the Board. If we had our time again on the Bill it might have been better to exclude bingo from the whole of this restrictive legislation. But it is too late to consider that now.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: No. 17, in page 14, line 24, at beginning insert: 'Without prejudice to the operation (where applicable) of subsections (2) to (2B) of this section'.

No. 18, in page 14, line 25, at end insert 'particular'.—[Mr. Elystan Morgan]

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