HL Deb 29 July 1918 vol 31 cc32-50

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, I am fully conscious that the Bill which I am asking your Lordship to read a second time requires some words of explanation, perhaps I ought almost to say some words of defence, because it has the effect of legalising practices which the law has hitherto consistently discouraged and punished. It does that quite unashamedly. I will not take up the time of the House by recapitulating the law which affects lotteries at present. It is to be found in a number of Statutes, some of them going back as far as the reign of William III and others of a very much more recent date. All of these discourage and punish the holding of lotteries. It is, perhaps, fair to say that the earlier Statutes seem to be based upon the assumption that the State has a right to resort to lotteries as a means of raising revenue, and to discourage private lotteries quite as much with the object of protecting State lotteries from undue competition, as from any desire to raise the standard of public morality.

But I am bound to say that the more recent Acts are unreservedly condemnatory of lotteries in any shape or form. They forbid the distribution of prizes by lot or by chance of any kind, whether the distribution takes place by means of the drawing of lots, or by cards, or by dice, or by any other mechanical device. The test all through is that that form of distribution is condemned which depends upon chance rather than upon skill. At any rate, as the law now stands, lotteries are treated as a common nuisance; persons aiding and abetting lotteries are liable to be punished; premises in which lotteries take place are treated as gaming houses; and altogether it is no exaggeration to say that the whole spirit of our legislation is against lotteries in any shape or form.

The law has, indeed, been applied stringently in many cases with which your Lordships are familiar. You remember, I think, that at one time not very long ago, what were known as "missing word competitions" were very popular. They were condemned as violations of the law. Another case was the practice resorted to by certain tradesmen of selling goods with prize coupons attached to them; and what is perhaps more important than any case of that kind is another case with which the House is very familiar—I mean the proposal which was made since the war began to raise revenue by the issue of premium war bonds. The matter was very thoroughly gone into by two Parliamentary Committees, and although opinion was much divided upon the question of policy, and although there was no question at all that the issue of premium war bonds would be likely to bring a great accession of wealth to the State, the Committees reported adversely to the proposal, on the ground that it was opposed to the sentiment of public opinion and that it was not desirable to introduce legislation which would give rise to acute controversy upon a question of that kind.

I quite realise that up to this point I have been making a speech against my own Bill, and I wish now to lay before the House one or two reasons for which it seems to me that the time has come when we might well make a departure from the old practice. And I shall, I hope, be able to show your Lordships that it will not be really any departure from the paths of virtue. There are two or three reasons why it seems to some of us that charity lotteries should, as a temporary measure, be legalised. In the first place, these charities are sorely in need of money—the calls upon them tend to increase constantly—and there is no doubt whatever, in the minds of those who are in a position to judge, that a very considerable amount of revenue might be tapped by resorting to these lotteries. But there is another reason to which I confess I attach great importance. It is this—these lotteries are at the present time taking place all over the country. There is no doubt about that. Whether it is due to deliberate laxity on the part of the Police, or to whatever other cause it may be due, the fact is there, and you have in many parts of the country a roaring trade in lotteries and tombolas and other devices of that kind. In our view it would be much better that we should regularise these proceedings, that we should not permit a contravention of the law, but that we should render the law more elastic than it is at present.

The Bill which I recommend to the House deals with the subject in the following manner. It authorises the use of lotteries only on behalf of charities which have been registered under the War Charities Act of 1916. Under that Act, as your Lordships probably remember, no appeal can be made to the public for any war charity, bazaar, sale, or entertainment unless the charity has been registered; and it is laid down that a "registered charity," is "a charity having for its object, or amongst its objects, the relief of suffering or distress, the supply of needs or comforts, or any other charitable purpose connected with the present war." But the Act does not stop there, for it lays down some very stringent conditions subject to which alone a charity can be recognised as worthy of registration. These are the principal of them. A charity must be administered by a responsible committee or other body; it must keep proper accounts audited at proper intervals, and by proper people; it must pay all moneys received into a separate account; and in all other respects it must comply with the Regulations laid down by the registration authority or the Charity Commissioners. The Bill that I am asking your Lordships to read a Second time provides that no lottery is to be promoted except with the previous consent in writing of the Police authorities, so that you have the means of preventing irregular and contraband lotteries. You get, in the first place, a guarantee for the respectability of the charity, and you get security for proper Police supervision. The other precaution contained in the Bill which I regard as an important one is the stipulation that the relaxation of the law is to operate only during the progress of the present war. That is, briefly, an outline of the provisions of the Bill.

In fairness to the House I ought, perhaps, to explain that I have taken charge of this Bill because it is one in which the Red Cross Society is greatly interested, and because I have the honour of being connected officially with that society. As I wish to keep nothing back from your Lordships, I will add this. There is a lottery, a special lottery, which we have in contemplation, and which we shall probably, almost certainly, set up if this Bill passes into law. I am sure the House knows of the great collection of pearls which has been in progress for some time in support of the Red Cross Society. The success of that collection is certainly a remarkable testimony to the energy of the ladies who Started the collection, and also to the generosity of the owners of pearls who have contributed so generously and so ungrudgingly. The result has been a collection of pearls of very great value and interest. I think the number of pearls we now hold is in the neighbourhood of 3,300. The problem we shall have to face is, What are we to do with these pearls, and how are we to turn them to the best advantage? I am advised that to attempt to dispose of them by retail would be perfectly hopeless at the present time. I am also told that to attempt to dispose of them by public auction would probably be most disappointing. One can quite understand that to throw between 3,000 and 4,000 pearls upon the market through the auction room at a time like this might have the most disappointing results. A lottery seems to afford the obvious solution of these difficulties.

I do not like to give figures based on conjecture, and I will not do so; but I am told that a properly conducted lottery with these 3,300 pearls as prizes would produce probably quite an astounding sum of money. Of course we are concerned, and all these charities are concerned, not only with things like pearls. There are much humbler gifts. May I cite one. We have 3,300 pearls, and we have one pig. The history of the pig is romantic. On the occasion of a recent visit paid by their Majesties to some of those allotments which have done so much for agriculture and been so instrumental in increasing the production of food, a loyal and enthusiastic agriculturist presented Her Majesty with a pig, and Her Majesty has been pleased to present it to the Red Cross Society. I would rather like to put it to the House, What are we to do with this historic animal? I think your Lordships will agree with me that it would be something of an outrage to consign it to the nearest butcher for human consumption. We are advised that a considerable sum of money might be earned by raffling the pig. I am sorry that my noble friend Lord Chaplin is no longer in the House, but I will undertake to say that if we raffle this pig we shall get a sum of money which would compare not unfavourably with the value even of the famous animal of which he has so often spoken in his agricultural speeches. The pig, of course, is only a single case. There are many other gifts which might be dealt with in the same way. The real argument—and it is a summary of my case—on which we rely in promoting this Bill is that it will enable us to get money for charitable purposes, and that it will enable us to get money which we should not be likely to get by any other means.

The calls upon these charities are becoming harder and harder to meet. I ventured to remind the House of the fact that I had some connection with the Red Cross Society, and I should like to tell your Lordships this. The expenditure of the Red Cross, which stood roughly at a £1,000,000 in the first year of the war, amounted in the second year to £2,000,000, in the third year to £3,000,000, and it has now considerably overtopped £4,000,000 a year. Your Lordships may ask where all this money goes. I should like to give two figures. We are spending £25,000 a week on stores—medical, general, and other stores—destined for use in hospitals, stores which go to all the different theatres of war and by which our Allies as well as we ourselves benefit. We are spending £40,000 a week in comforts and things of various kinds sent out to our prisoners of war.

I know how deeply the House was moved the other evening when the noble Lord, Lord Devonport, laid before your Lordships the pitiable case of some of the prisoners of war. When we think of what the condition of these prisoners is, and that these lotteries may be the means of bringing a great deal more help and comfort to them, I say, Do not let us be too squeamish about the ethical aspects of these distributions. We think this Bill will enable us to get a good deal of money, and a good deal which we should not get in any other way. After all, in these appeals for assistance to the public we have to study human nature. Human nature is very human indeed about these things—about charity, in particular. There are numbers of people who are charitable, and who look for no reward for their charity. There are others whose charity is of a more languid description—a charity which needs the stimulus and the excitement of something to provoke and bring it into activity. It is people of that class who perhaps will not give you anything for an ordinary humdrum collection, yet will put their money freely into these raffles and lotteries. I am not at all ashamed of confessing that I think, at a time like this, that we are within our rights if we trade a little upon that particular form of human frailty. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Marquess of Lansdowne.)


My Lords, I have followed with the closest attention, and with, what does not always accompany close attention, a very keen and living interest, the delightful speech to which we have just listened. It is characteristic of the spokesman, to whose voice we all desire to listen with perhaps greater respect and affection than we listen to almost any voice that can be raised in this House. I am quite sure that your Lordships will have some sympathy with me if I say that I feel bound, notwithstanding those thoughts, to oppose giving a Second Reading to the Bill which Lord Lansdowne has brought before us.

The subject is one of very far-reaching importance. This is not really a little Bill. I think that the noble Marquess, with parental modesty, rather belittled the result of the measure which he has introduced if it were to become law. A great and far-reaching principle is involved. The arguments that the noble Marquess brought before us were that the object in this Bill is a good one, that its operation is to be temporary in its character, and, incidentally at least, that what he desires to make legal is, whether legal or not, being done to a considerable extent at this moment. Those, I think, were the main arguments that the noble Marquess brought forward.

As to the object, no one—I do not need to stand here and say it—is stronger than I am in its favour. I have done in every way everything in my power to further and promote the object for which the noble Marquess is so exceptionally qualified to plead, and it is hateful even to seem to be putting a bar or an obstacle in the way of raising money for an object so obviously and so entirely right. I am quite prepared to say that with the registration which the Bill requires as one of the conditions we should be safeguarded, but what exactly would be said by other institutions of the highest possible merit, and with the noblest possible objects, which are not war charities in this particular sense, but which are at this moment extremely hard pressed—hospitals for the civil population, among the rest—if they were told that this process may be adopted for a war charity but that they are absolutely barred from using it.

But the question of the object does not really cover the ground. I venture to say that it is from a different side altogether that we must look at far-reaching legislation of this sort. We are told that what is proposed would be temporary in its working. I very greatly doubt it. There are many other War Emergency Bills at this moment which are stamped with a temporary character, but which will in all probability find a permanent place on the Statute Book; and in this case it would seem to me very difficult indeed to say that a principle upon which we have based legislation for the last 300 years, having once been thrown aside as regards the particular measure which is proposed, must hold good when we are dealing with other good objects in the future.

The noble Marquess referred to the famous pearls, about which I shall have word to say in a moment; and he rested one of his arguments upon the fact—putting pearls aside—that at this moment there is what he described as a roaring trade going on of this kind throughout the country. It may be so, my Lords; I take it readily from the noble Marquess as a fact. I say that I was entirely unaware of it, and I do not know where the roaring trade is going on. I honestly admit that I am not an attendant—I doubt whether many of your Lordships are constant attendants—at the actual working out of bazaars, though no doubt your Lordships' names may have been given to them. But I know that in the cases of all those with which I have had any connection, or those with which my friends have had any connection for the past twenty years, it was made a condition that we did not desire that lotteries should form part of the bazaar procedure. To what degree of strictness that is observed, I do not know, but I know for certain that it has succeeded in sonic cases in preventing what had been contemplated being done.

The greatest and the most fundamental difference seems to me to lie between the fact—if it be a fact—that at this moment a great many people are stretching the existing law so as in a sort of half-humorous, half-serious way to have raffles or lotteries, and the Government of the country changing legislation which has been persistent, recurrent, and imperative for 100 years at least That is a very large step to take, and the immediate exigencies and requirements do not seem to me to justify the Government in saying "We shall tear up these arrange ments as regards what is going on, and we bid you go forward notwithstanding the law that has hitherto absolutely been against it." The noble Marquess, with absolute fairness, emphasised how clearly the law is against it. The law, as he said, has hitherto consistently denounced and punished such things; the recent Acts are unreservedly condemnatory, and so on. That is absolutely the case, and what we have to face is that, if we pass a Bill like this on the wholesome sentiment of an enthusiastic desire to support a splendid cause, we may, without in the least intending it, be opening the flood gates of difficulty for coming years and letting in the water over a far wider area than we in the least imagine or contemplate.

It is a very important step, but it is not only important; it is to my mind quite palpably mischievous. The evil of the growth of the gambling spirit was practically recognised again and again in this House as well as by most thinking people of the country in the years that preceded the war. When a few years ago we were debating a Bill in this House dealing with a kindred subject, speech after speech was made by noble Lords specially interested in sport and all that belongs to it upon the danger, which they along with many of us agreed in deploring, of the growth of a gambling spirit of a mischievous and unwholesome kind which was spreading steadily through the factories, among men and women, and in the great shops of our country, and sapping a great deal of that kind of spirit of which Englishmen have been proud. There was nothing really sporting in it; it was a spirit of a different kind altogether. You remember all that we were told. I am familiar with some of the stories at first hand. The foremen and forewomen in factories were practically making a tax on the girls working under them who must put money into their hands to be used as part of the system.

We tried to legislate then to check all this, and we succeeded to some extent. That particular peril has been checked in war time owing to the excitement of other things, and owing to different causes which I could enumerate. The danger is that we shall here, as I believe, permanently reopen the difficulties that we are trying to get rid of and simply reduce to despair some of the workers who have been giving their mind and thought to this task for years past. We shall find them faced by the fact that the Government of the country has said, "The fight that you have been trying to wage is all wrong. You will now find in us the opponent who will harm you most, because we shall allow that to take place which you believe and can show you believe to be so mischievous."

It will probably quite naturally be said that ecclesiastics and clergy and ministers of religion are apt to be prejudiced in these matters, that they are not men of the world, that they do no think of these things with fairness, and that you must look elsewhere for a reasonable, manly, and robust opinion. The noble Marquess, I was glad to note, referred to the recent Blue Book containing the Report of the Parliamentary Committee on Premium Bonds. I would ask any of your Lordships to pick out from that book the evidence of the men whom, without knowing beforehand what they said, you would regard as best entitled to speak upon the subject of this sort—not from an ecclesiastical, or philanthropic, or pedantic points of view but from that of knowledge, and who express an opinion that they are qualified to form from the experience that they have had. Look at what they say with regard to the danger of encouraging, by what was a far less marked thing than this, the premium bonds, a spirit which they desired to deprecate. I should like to take the evidence of five men whose opinion is that of men who are entitled to be considered.

The first is Sir Robert Kindersley, the Chairman of the National War Savings Committee. He has given his time during the war to the whole subject of raising money in the best and most wholesome way for war purposes, and no one has a stronger opinion than he on the peril, the infinite peril, which would be involved in raising at this time of tension and excitement the very sentiment to which the noble Marquess has referred. The desire for getting money anyhow, and at the same time the slight excitement that belongs to getting it by a process of what some would call gambling—I am not speaking of that gambling which is a serious root and branch evil to the country—is a thing which we have all deprecated, and no one has deprecated it more than he.

Then take a member of your Lordships' House, Lord Leverhulme, who, speaking from the widest experience of great works in this country, tells us how absolutely he would deplore on ethical grounds the raising of premium bonds—a far less thing than this—and says that that would raise the very spirit which he felt to be so extraordinarily difficult and dangerous. It is he who calls attention to a point which perhaps I might better refer to in a moment but I think I will refer to it here—the strange position we should be in with regard to foreign lotteries. At this moment we try to forbid in this country the circulation of circulars for foreign lotteries, though not always successfully, and we try to prevent the collecting in this country of shares for those lotteries. But now, if the Government were to say "We have withdrawn all that prohibition as regards a particular class of funds which we are trying to raise," with what face could we prevent the lotteries coming into this country from our Allies or other people who desire to make use of people with money in Great Britain as a source from which to draw supplies? That is not a fanciful thing.

The noble Marquess referred to the pearls. I was approached from one quarter with regard to the very proposal he speaks of, the great tombola—tombola is only a mere euphemism or camouflage for a lottery, and I do not know that we gain anything by using a foreign word. That was to be done on a gigantic scale. As described to me by the promoter, it was to go all over the world. "We hope to get it into every country and town in Europe; we hope to get the matter taken up right through the Colonies, and in America. It is to be on a huge scale, and we believe that the financial results will be enormous." But at what peril should we gain those funds? peril to the principles which we have been trying to assert for generations past both in Parliament and outside it.

The next man I would name is Mr. W. L. Hitchens, foremost among economists, a large employer of labour, an eminent and thoughtful philanthropist, who has shown extraordinary power and interest in the well-being of those who are in the less well paid grades of our national life. He speaks again of the danger of a Government stimulus, a Government imprimatur, being given to a spirit which he, with others has been trying to check, as heart-breaking.

I now turn to Mr. J. H. Thomas. I imagine that there is nobody in this country who is in touch with a wider circle of working men than he; and there was no witness before the Parliamentary Committee who spoke with more emphasis, with more reiterated appeal almost, to the Govern- ment not to do what he believed to be so unutterably perilous. Mr. Thomas spoke of the impossibility of drawing a distinction, once you have started, between one kind of gambling, organised on a huge scale for those who know nothing about what they were betting on, and what is here argued for. The last name I will give is that of Mr. Reginald McKenna, and for totally different reasons. Speaking from a very wide experience, and having thought out these things both in the Government and outside, he says in the strongest way in his evidence what mischief would be caused I could easily multiply these witnesses. There were about thirty of them, and practically all were unanimous on this part. They were not all against premium bonds, although the majority were. Some of them were not against premium bonds because they said they did not think it was a lottery. I will not say that I have read every word of the evidence of all the witnesses, but I have not come across one who would admit himself in favour of a pure and simple lottery.

In the face of all this, are we—on the noble grounds brought forward by the noble Marquess as to the need for more money, and the desire for raising it in every possible way—going to legislate in a way which I believe will turn out hereafter to be fraught with enormous peril? I feel sure how it will be regarded by our kinsmen across the Atlantic. We know what pains have been taken in America to prevent the growth of this spirit; we know what is felt there with regard to lotteries and the circulation of lottery appeals; and I believe that if America were flooded with lottery appeals on behalf of the Red Cross Society of this country we should find that such a step would be met at first with surprise and then with something like indignation.

There is one other point. When this matter came to the notice of a friend of mine he came to me to-day appealingly and asked whether it were really possible that those who had given pearls, as he had done, in memory of some loved one who had lost his life, had given something which was going to be used for a purpose which the givers would deprecate. That seemed to me to be an appeal of some weight; and I do not think that it is an exaggeration to say that the far-reaching character of the results which would accrue from the successful prosecution of this proposed plan would be of the very character which is there described. It is a thankless task, of course, to be opposing something which one wants to support in its object. I say again that the object is beyond praise; and I should be pleased to see the society's funds increased twofold, fourfold, and tenfold, though I should want to do it in a way which did not compromise principles which I regard as of vital importance in our national life. By such legislation as is proposed here, we should let in water on a scale of which we had no contemplation; and ten or twenty years hence people would look back with dismay at what had been done at this crisis of the war on sentimental grounds. We should be acting not only contrary to the legislation of 100 years, but we should be doing something which would be fraught with consequences of an indefinite but not insignificant peril. For these reasons I hope that the noble Marquess will not perserve in this endeavour to convert this Bill into law.


My Lords, the most rev. Primate has stated the case against the Bill of my noble friend opposite with the weight and the general moderation which your Lordships always expect from him; and if I am not able to take the same view that he does of the measure, it is because I cannot find my-self in agreement with him as to the consequences to the country which might be expected to follow its adoption. If this measure were one for the legalising of gambling it would certainly not receive in any sense the approval of your Lordships' House.

The most rev. Primate, with the utmost fairness, reminded us of some past discussions here in which many of us personally interested in different forms of sport have taken as strong a view as the most rev. Primate and the other occupants of the Episcopal Bench itself of the scandals which followed the gambling spirit throughout the country. The most rev. Primate mentioned starting-price betting, and he said that he remembered very well that many of us, ourselves connected with racing, have spoken as strongly on that subject as the most rev. Primate himself could. And it is because the most rev. Primate does not draw much distinction, and thinks that the country will draw very little distinction, between a gambling proposal and the proposal of my noble friend that he naturally opposes the Bill as he has.

The subject of premium bonds has been mentioned, and the most rev. Primate stated—I think I am quoting correctly the general sense of what he said—that in his opinion the adoption of the system of premium bonds would not have been so marked or so serious a step in the direction of legalising gambling chances as would the adoption of the noble Marquess's Bill. There I confess I cannot agree with the most rev. Primate. Whatever is to be said for or against a system of premium bonds, I think it cannot be disputed that their institution would give the Government imprimatur to the taking of chances far beyond anything that could be supposed to happen through the adoption by this House of a private Bill such as that for which my noble friend opposite is responsible. I do not express any opinion on the subject of premium bonds one way or the other, but I can well understand that many people might have hesitated at committing the Government to the adoption of such a scheme, which, although in a sense thinly veiled from being a lottery in the old sense, does, of course, involve the taking of chances; and as my noble friend Lord Lansdowne stated, as I should have thought with great accuracy, one of the arguments favouring the adoption of his measure is the fact that raffles, sometimes on a quite considerable scale, are being held and have for many years been held at any rate with the connivance of the public authorities. I know quite well that, as the most rev. Primate has said at a great many bazaars and sales for Church objects it is announced that no raffles will be held, but I cannot believe that even at those the practice is universal, and there are a great many other bazaars where all of us, I think, when we have had the privilege of attending the ceremonial openings, have seen some form of raffle freely adopted.

This leads me, my Lords, to the conclusion at which I arrive, that I do not believe that the adoption of this measure would have the effect which the most rev. Primate conceived it would have of shocking serious opinion in this country. Nor do I believe it would in any way open the door for a general legalising of gambling. I believe that the objections to setting up at seaside resorts such establishments as many people have visited, some with pleasure and some with disapprobation, at Monte Carlo and elsewhere—I believe that the objections to such an institution here would remain, and would be held quite as strongly at the conclusion of the war as they could have been before 1914. I do not believe there is any prospect whatever of a general legalisation of gambling or of lotteries in this country. I cannot far a moment believe that after the war this measure would be taken as a reason for the general introduction of State lotteries. It will be regarded, as the noble Marquess has described it, as being a purely war emergency measure, and it will, I venture to think, be completely forgotten a few years alter the war is over. So many singular things have happened, so much amazing legislation has been passed, that I venture to think this Bill, if and when it becomes an Act, will be regarded like so many other measures as belonging only to this moment: and without apprehending the alarming consequences which the most rev. Primate has put forward, I am prepared to give my support to the measure of my noble friend.


My Lords, I had not intended to trouble your Lordships with any remarks in reference to this Bill, but when I heard the terms of it opened by the noble Marquess in moving the Second Reading I could not help recollecting the fact that I had in another capacity some practical experience with reference to the subject. It may not be within your Lordships' knowledge that in my country of Ireland the rules and statutes with regard to lotteries have not been enforced perhaps with the same rigour as in England, when those lotteries were held for charitable objects. That, of course, may be in the abstract quite wrong, and there are many people who think that any forms of gambling or lotteries are in themselves morally wrong, but I think that the vast majority of people do not regard the lottery in that somewhat narrow light; and undoubtedly as long as my memory goes, and I should say for many years before my memory can possibly go back, when the objects were charitable, lotteries of the kind proposed to be dealt with by this Bill have not been interfered with. It is true that the prizes were not on so large a scale as they might be in connection with this lottery of pearls, but the principle is the same; and beyond all doubt I should say our experience in Ireland has been that the public morality has not been affected so long as the object was charitable and everybody knew it. That is my experience extending over a long life, and also my experience as the result of several years during which I was connected with the administration of the criminal law in Ireland as Solicitor- General and Attorney-General. Questions frequently arose whether or not these charitable bazaars should be suppressed, and I think the Police in Ireland at any rate would unhesitatingly say that they had never found any harm come from them. There is, of course, another form of gambling which under the guise of charity is extremely mischievous, which takes place at charitable organisations and might really take place at Monte Carlo; but with regard to the particular class of lotteries dealt with in this Bill—the drawing and distribution and selling of tickets for objects such as are described—they do no harm whatever in my experience, and I certainly most strongly support the Bill which the noble Marquess has introduced. It is all very well to say that this is the thin end of the wedge. I suppose logically it is, but practically it is not. Somehow or other charity salves the conscience both of the people who buy the tickets and certainly of those who sell them, and I do not think it does either of them any harm. For those reasons, which occur to me as the result of my own experience, I strongly support the measure.


My Lords, perhaps I may say a word or two on this subject I desire to support the Bill that the noble Marquess has introduced, and if I differ from the most rev. Primate I can, speaking with great respect, assure him that it is not because I view him as not being a man of the world. I have on many occasions, as the most rev. Primate will remember, asked his advice and I have never failed to profit by it, and I know no one whose advice I would more willingly take in matters which come before me in the administration of my office. I would also say this, referring to what was said by the noble and learned lord, that I do not view the speech, to which we listened I think all of us with great interest, made by the most rev. Primate—I do not regard it as a narrow speech in any sense of the word. It was a singularly high-toned speech, recognising the great object that the noble Marquess had in view, but at the same time asserting the great principle which the most rev. Primate had at heart.

But I must say I am not myself so sceptical as the most rev. Primate appears to be as to what may happen at the end of the war. I do not for a moment believe that these various matters of legislation which have been passed through both Houses of Parliament for the duration of the war, will be effective at the conclusion of the war. And for this reason, that I do not think the public would stand it. As the noble Marquess opposite pointed out, certain measures have been passed for the duration of the war. They are simply to deal with a set of circumstances by which we find ourselves surrounded. Their usefulness will in great measure have passed away when the day comes that the war is ended.

There was one remark which fell from the most rev. Primate on which, perhaps, I am qualified to speak. The noble Marquess is well aware of the great difficulty that there is in collecting money even for the objects with which he is connected. For some thirty years it has been my painful duty to pester and badger the public to get funds for one or two great hospitals with which I have the honour to be connected and which I direct. It is perfectly true, as was said by the noble Marquess, that the difficulty of getting money for this and that charity, irrespective of those that call for assistance owing to the circumstances of the war, is very great. But I can assure the most rev. Primate, and also the noble Marquess, that in my humble efforts to get money for St. Bartholomew's Hospital I shall not view with any jealousy whatever, but rather shall congratulate him on his success, if he manages by his lottery to get a large sum of money either for the pearl distribution or another great cause.

The generosity of the public is, indeed, without limit. I speak with very considerable experience, and I am sure that if my noble friend Lord Knutsford who has been so assiduous as myself, were here, he would say precisely the same thing. I do not think you can really draw an analogy between gambling—the tape, and various kinds of gambling that go on from day to day—and the proposal in the Bill of the noble Marquess. One kind of gambling is that which appeals very much to every class of the population, as we have daily experience—football watches, horse races, or whatever it may be—but here is a proposal by which it is hoped not to get a few shillings by people gambling, but to see if it is possible, when means appear to be almost failing us, to collect such a colossal sum of money that may tend, for the time at any rate, to set the Red Cross on its legs. As is acknowledged by the most rev. Primate, there is no nobler object, although he deprecates the means. If the noble Marquess will go to a Division I shall certainly follow him with great pleasure, and give him my vote.


My Lords, I had not the slightest intention of intervening in this debate, but I do not think it ought to be left only to the most rev. Primate to say a word on behalf of the permanent principles of our law. The only argument advanced by my noble friend Lord Lansdowne—to whose speech I listened, as we all did, with the greatest possible sympathy, recognising its persuasive quality and feeling all that he said about the desirability of raising money for this admirable purpose—seemed to me not to go to the real root of the matter. We are told that this is not giving an imprimatur to gambling. What further imprimatur could we give than by introducing a Bill to make specific exception to the general law against lotteries—this is called a Bill with regard to lotteries—which has been in force in this country for very nearly a century?

The real argument in favour of the Bill seems to me to rest substantially upon this—the object is good, and the case is a hard one. Of course, the object is excellent, and, of course, the temptation of the case is very strong. There is an old maxim that "Hard cases make had law," and if you yield to temptation as soon as temptation comes in an attractive guise, you show that you do not have full faith in your principles. We were told that the law is being habitually broken. Well, is it because the law is being habitually broken that we are to give encouragement to the habit of disregarding the law, by legalising that infraction? We are shaking the moral authority of the law itself if we put forward the fact that it is occasionally broken as being a reason for sanctioning that breach for which people may be punished as the law now stands. We are told, and with perfect truth, that we must regard the tendencies of human nature. There is a tendency in human nature in this case to consider that a good end justifies bad means. There will also be the whimsical interest, to which my noble friend Lord Lansdowne referred, to be connected with a particular lottery of this kind.

But human nature is to be regarded also on the side of the perils that constantly threaten it. There is no peril which more constantly threatens human nature than the habit of yielding to the disposition to gamble; and it has been a very great sup-poet to the efforts which are made to repress a pernicious mental disease which works harm in all classes, that the policy of our law has been so clearly and strongly declared against every form of gambling with which the law can deal. It is said that this is to be only a temporary measure, but with what face after the war can we return to those strong moral arguments upon which the present prohibition of lotteries has been grounded if, as soon as temptation has presented itself, we yield to that temptation because the object seems to us good?

I remember some one who said, "I am a man of firm character; there is only one thing to which I ever yield, and that is temptation." When temptation presents itself, that is the test of our faith in our principles. The most rev. Primate referred to what would be felt in the United States. I have no doubt that what he said was true, that there will be great surprise and disappointment there if we flinch from the principle we have hitherto upheld; and I think the same thing will hold in many other countries. There are many countries, in which British law has been looked to as setting and maintaining a very high moral standard, where I think there will be some disappointment on finding that we have lapsed from that standard. For these reasons I cannot help regretting that the Bill has been introduced, and—however deeply I regret being compelled to differ from my noble friend Lord Lansdowne, and, as I perceive, from many other of my noble friends, including Lord Crewe—I cannot but feel that the interest of our law, and the authority of the law, and the fact that the law ought not to waver when it has laid down the principle, demand that we should, even in this hard case, maintain that principle.


My Lords, I rise for one moment only, the more because I should be sorry if the most rev. Primate were to think me discourteous for taking no notice of the speech he made just now. Let me in the first place thank him for the friendly tone of his observations, and assure him of my regret on finding that he is unable to look upon this proposal in the same light as I do. I am quite sure that the most rev. Primate and I do not differ on the question of principle. I believe his views and mine as to the proper treatment of this question in ordinary circumstances are absolutely identical. Those of us who support this Bill defend our proposal solely on the ground that the circumstances in which we are living are abnormal, and that a relaxation of the law is desirable. The most rev. Primate suggested that this Bill might have far-reaching effects, and my noble friend Lord Bryce asked the House with what face we should be able to refuse if similar proposals were to be made after the war is over. This Bill comes to an end automatically whenever the war ends. Supposing somebody, after the war, were to revive the proposal, and came down to this House in time of peace and asked us to go counter to the spirit of the whole of our recent legislation in order to legalise lotteries, I presume the most rev. Primate would make again the speech he has made to-night. I believe the House would vote with him; I should most certainly vote with him. With regard to the reference to premium bonds, I rather brought that argument upon myself because, in endeavouring to be fair, I cited the case of premium bonds as one in which Parliament had taken a very adverse view to any proposal savouring of gambling. But there is all the difference in the world between a system of premium bonds, taken up on a colossal scale by the State—you might almost say imposed on the public by the State—and the kind of comparatively trivial enterprise hide this Bill is intended to legalise. I do not wish to take up your Lordships' time further, but I am afraid I must ask the House to give a Second Reading to the Bill.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.