HC Deb 23 July 1975 vol 896 cc703-5

Lords Amendment: No. 1, in page 7, line 10, leave out "30 per cent." and insert "25 per cent."

10.22 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Dr. Shirley Summerskill)

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

Mr. Speaker

With this we are to take Lords Amendments Nos. 2 and 5, which are in similar terms.

Dr. Summerskill

The present law limits expenses to 10 per cent. of the proceeds, but that has been found to be too restrictive. In preparing the Bill the Government had in mind a limit of 20 per cent., but strong representations were received that this was inadequate. Hence, the Bill was introduced into the House with the figure of 30 per cent. On further reflection, the Government think that this is an area where tolerance should not be exercised in favour of additional expenditure on expenses, and on balance, having considered the various amounts that have been discussed, we regard an overall limit of 25 per cent. as reasonable.

Amendments Nos. 2 and 5 are consequential upon Amendment No. 1, and Amendment No. 5 applies the new limit on expenses to Clause 13, which provides for the early raising of the financial limits on lotteries permitted on behalf of societies.

Mr. W. R. Rees-Davies (Thanet, West)

I entirely agree with the Government's view that 25 per cent. is more than sufficient, and it should be tightly held. Will the Minister give guidance to local authorities to ensure that wherever possible they use local volunteers and not paid canvassers, thereby keeping down expenditure so that advantage can accrue to the objective of the lottery? That is the real heart of the matter. We do not want them to employ paid canvassers when it is possible to avoid doing so.

10.30 p.m.

Dr. Summerskill

This is a rather separate point from the point contained in the amendment, but it is covered by Clause 10(3)(a), which reads: the persons to whom and by whom tickets or chances in a lottery may or may not be sold".

Mr. Rees-Davies

That is true as regards the regulations, but the whole question of whether administrative expenditure will be kept down depends upon whether we can persuade people to volunteer. I hope that the hon. Lady will consider sending some guidance with the circulars and inviting local authorities to use unpaid local help wherever possible.

Mr. James Lamond (Oldham, East)

To whom was my hon. Friend referring when she mentioned representations having been received? It was originally intended that the figure should be 20 per cent. Is this not a further unfortunate episode in the sorry tale of the Bill? There was a change from 20 per cent. to 30 per cent. following certain representations, and now we are to settle for 25 per cent. Were there any consultations on the part of the Government before it was decided to move from 30 per cent. to 25 per cent.?

Dr. Summerskill

The Bill as introduced in this House included a maximum limit of 30 per cent., but in Committee in another place the Earl of Mansfield moved an amendment which would have set the maximum amount which could be appropriated on account of expenses at 15 per cent. of the proceeds. The Government undertook to consider the matter before Report in another place. That is how we came to re-examine the figure.

Mr. John Farr (Harborough)

I think it is a pity that we are to accept an amendment to reduce the level from 30 per cent. to 25 per cent. Since the Bill left this place about two or three months ago promoters' costs have not decreased in any way. There was discussion in Committee on the proper percentage, and the hon. Lady was gracious enough to make a concession as regards an amendment I moved relating to lotteries over £5,000. We are now considering the level of the percentage which can be deducted for lotteries where the total proceeds are less than£5,000. I think that 30 per cent. is about the right level.

Let us imagine the costs involved in running a small lottery with total proceeds less than£5,000. There is a horrifying list of increased charges. For example, telephone charges have increased by a tremendous amount in the past couple of years. First-class post is now the equivalent of is 6d a letter, and it is due to go up again within days. Promoters have to meet all these expenses in making a success of their lotteries. Their expenses have not decreased since the Bill left this place. It is a pity that we are not sticking firm.

Dr. Summerskill

I appreciate that a case can be made out for 15 per cent. and that another case can be made for 30 per cent. A case can be made for any percentage between those two levels. There is a difference of opinion on this matter. We felt that a compromise, and an acceptable figure to most people, would he 25 per cent., a level somewhere between the two extremes.

Question put and agreed to.

Subsequent Lords amendment agreed to.

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