§ [SECOND READING]
§ Order of Day for the Second Reading read.
§ LORD NEWTON
My Lords, this is a Bill which I introduced and which passed through this House last session without opposition, and I only desire to make one observation upon it to-day. Although there was considerable discussion in the Press with regard to this particular Bill, no objection whatever was taken to it by anybody or any association with the exception of a section of the Sporting Press, and the action of the Sporting Press has demonstrated the necessity of passing a measure of this kind, because I understand they have recently formed an association for the purpose of suppressing what are known as tipsters' advertisements and advertisements of objectionable bookmakers. On the strength of this action this association of the Sporting Press, with a simplicity which is almost pathetic, have demanded that the Bill should be withdrawn. I should have thought it was hardly necessary to explain even to the Sporting Press that papers like the Sporting Life or the Winning Post, or whatever it may be, do not possess Statutory Powers, and it is open to any one to defy them and to do whatever they condemn; and in particular they have absolutely no power over those blatant and objectionable circulars which we all, if you are like me, receive several times a week.
I have one additional observation to make and it is this. This House in certain quarters is always believed to be the home of prejudice and reaction. I suppose this measure which I introduce meets that, and may be termed a species of extremely modest social reform. It passed through your Lordships' House, as I have said, without any opposition whatever, but the moment it went down to another place it was blocked by a gentleman who probably regards himself as the quintessence of democracy. I leave it to more intelligent people than myself to explain this phenomenon if they can. But I am not altogether without hopes that the representative of the Government who replies will be able to give me sonic sort of assurance that he will do his best to prevent a similar untimely fate awaiting the measure when it again goes down to another place.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Newton.)283
§ LORD STRACHIE
My Lords, I have again on behalf of the Home Office to express their approval of the noble Lord's Bill. We fully recognise at the Home Office that this is a Bill which is generally required, and we hope that it will have an easy passage through this House. The noble Lord has asked me to say what will happen to it in another place. He, like myself, spent many years in the House of Commons, and he knows very well the great difficulties of getting Bills of this sort passed when they are introduced by a private Member. He also knows very well that at this stage of a measure, and even at a later stage in the House of Commons itself, the Government never give any promise as to whether they will eventually afford any support to a Bill by starring it. Therefore it would be unreasonable to expect that on this occasion the Government should do anything more than express their approval of it, and their hope that it may be placed on the Statute Book in the near future.
§ LORD SANDERSON
My Lords, I feel bound to say a word or two in support of my noble friend's Bill on behalf of the Charity Organisation Society, of the Council of which I am at present the chairman. The society takes a deep interest in this question as affecting the welfare of the poorer classes, and is greatly concerned at the spread of the practice of betting among the younger portion of the population. Nobody dissents, I suppose, from the opinion expressed by a Committee of this House eleven years ago as to the evil of excessive betting or the increased opportunities afforded for it through the agency of the -Press. The se opportunities have certainly not diminished. As I was walking along the street this morning I saw two large orange coloured posters, one announcing the fall of Scutari and the other, in equally large type, the latest City and Suburban tips.
What I want to impress on the Government is that we are spending enormous sums of money in bringing up the younger generation as self-supporting and self-respecting citizens. It is the height of inconsistency that lessons in thrift should be given in England with the approval of the Government, and vet that while that is being done we should allow every kind of inducement to be put before young people to risk ruining themselves for the sake of a little temporary excitement. It is really absurd to 284 say, as some have contended, that legislation can do nothing. Anybody who has studied the history of this question will have seen that legislation has had a definite, though a limited, effect in restricting the growth of the evil. Because this is a very moderate Bill and will give an opportunity, if something more is required, of new legislation hereafter, I earnestly hope that the Government will give it their support.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Tuesday next.