HL Deb 19 March 1914 vol 15 cc609-12

Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.


My Lords, in moving the Third Reading of this Bill I desire to call attention to an occurrence which took place a day or two ago. When I introduced the Bill this session I made certain very important concessions with a view to obtaining the support of the sporting community, and I was assured that if I made these concessions, which were of a very serious character, I should receive that support, and that they would assist in passing the Bill through as an agreed measure in the other House. The day before yesterday a meeting was held under the auspices of the National Sporting League, and the chairman of that League, Mr. Denison-Pender, M.P., announced, to my amazement, that he intended to use all his power to block the Bill for this session. I say this is a violation of an honourable agreement, and I trust that this gentleman was acting in some confusion of mind, or, at any rate, I hope his action will not be countenanced by the noble Lords who said they would do their best to help pass this Bill. I should like to repeat that all the Bill does is to enact a minimum of what has been stated to be necessary by the sporting authorities themselves. As I have said, I have made important concessions? with a view to obtaining that support, and I think it is only fail-that that support should be forthcoming, and that the Bill should not be exposed to the sort of danger to which I have alluded. I hope my noble friends Lord Derby and Lord Faber, who are more or less parties to the agreement, will support me in the appeal I have made.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.— (Lord Newton.)


My Lords, I should like to say a single word in endorsement and emphasis of the point just made by Lord Newton. The matter is a really important one. The story of this Bill is curious. It is not a new one. Bills on this subject were introduced once or twice from the Episcopal Bench, and, I think, from another quarter of the House, which I and others felt unable to support because they seemed to go a great deal too far; but I did venture on more than one occasion to make an appeal to noble Lords who criticised those measures that if they desired, as they said—and I am sure they did— some legislation to check the evil, they would themselves introduce a Bill on those lines. It was partly in response to that appeal that Lord Newton took the action he did and introduced his Bill. The Bill was introduced the year before last and again, I think, last year, and passed through the House with practically general assent, and I had hoped that we should see it passed into law during the present session. in the same form. It has undergone modification, as I think, for the worse; but those modifications I, for one, have acquiesced in because I understood by so doing we might practically ensure the withdrawal of the kind of opposition which had in another place been given to the Bill before. Had we not rested upon that understanding I, for one, would certainly have taken a different line from from that which we did take in the earlier stages of this measure. I venture to hope that all the influence that can be brought to bear upon those who have had and still have some responsibility in this matter, elsewhere than here, will now be brought so that this Bill shall become law. Some of us feel strongly on this matter. We feel strongly, it may be, because our knowledge of the difficulties which the betting-evil brings about comes in at a later stage than does the knowledge acquired by noble Lords who are specially interested in the wholesome promotion of sport in this country. They see the mischief at an earlier stage; but at a later stage of the drama we see the men who by means of this curse have come to grief, and who perhaps in sickness or approaching death tell us of the manner in which they were led on. I earnestly trust that this Bill will pass into law and that it will have effect in diminishing the curse which is doing so much harm amongst many men of different classes in this country. We hope that we are not again to be disappointed, and that the Bill is not now to be hindered at the last moment from effecting the great good we believe it may bring to our country.


My Lords, without entering into a discussion of wider matters as to whether this Bill was required and necessary, I should like to say one word on the point that has been raised by my noble friend behind me and by the most rev. Primate. The position is this. This Bill was brought in last year and was objected to by myself and by other noble Lords. Since then a discussion has taken place, in which I was not in any way personally concerned, between the supporters of the Bill and those who represent the Press who were opposed to the Bill. Certain Amendments were agreed to and incorporated in the Bill when it came up for First Reading. There were other points which were not made quite clear, and Amendments were proposed, accepted by Lord Newton, and inserted in the Bill at a later stage. The Bill therefore stands as an agreed Bill. Of course, as the noble Lord knows, one cannot speak for everybody, or for anybody except oneself. All I can say is this, that anything that I possibly can do, now that the Bill is an agreed Bill, to secure its passage through the other House I shall feel myself in honour bound to do.


My Lords, I entirely associate myself with the remarks that have fallen from the noble Earl. I was not here during the Second Reading of the Bill, but I noticed that the noble Lord who introduced the Bill was facetious in a good-natured way as to a little action I had taken in regard to this Bill. I think he asked a question of me, and that was, whether I would be willing to guarantee the integrity and soundness of bookmakers who advertised in newspapers. To that I make answer that I have such confidence in the acuteness of Lord Newton that if he chose any one of those bookmakers and asked me to guarantee him I should seriously consider the position and probably agree. I could not say that of everyone, but I am sure the noble Lord would choose a bookmaker who was absolutely sound and good.


I should ask you.


Lord Newton has been very reasonable in this matter. We did bring certain hardships forward which we thought the newspapers would be under if they had to cut out these advertisements. They have cut out tipsters' advertisements at a certain pecuniary sacrifice, but they have done right in doing that; but when you think that in these islands a good deal of betting does go on, it seemed like "straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel" if you did not allow a book- maker to put his advertisement in a newspaper. I entirely agree with Lord Derby that this Bill is an agreed Bill.

On Question, Bill read 3a, and passed, and sent to the Commons.