HL Deb 19 May 1927 vol 67 cc372-403

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, this is a Bill of a very insignificant appearance, but it creates an enormous amount of interest among many people in this country, and I should not be at all surprised, if the truth were known, if it were not found that there are a great mane people who are more seriously interested in this Bill than in that particular Bill which is now in another place, and which is being debated with so much simulated fury. This Bill of which I am now moving the Second Reading is the direct and the logical consequence of the Betting Tax, and as the public memory is habitually very short, perhaps it would be just as well if I explained in a few words how the Betting Tax originated, and what the position is at the present moment.

In the year 1923, a Conservative Government being in office, a House of Commons Committee was appointed to consider the question of the taxation of betting. That Committee went very thoroughly into the question, and they eventually decided by a majority that the taxation of betting was practicable. But, with the fear of a General Election before them, they decided, by a majority also, that it was not desirable to proceed with it. Then the question dropped, but in the following year, 1924, I raised this particular question in the House. At that time a Socialist Government was in power, and I obtained the enthusiastic support of our Front Bench. With the exception, I think, of my noble friend Lord Salisbury, they voted with me, and the Socialist Government was naturally defeated without any trouble upon this point. But, as so frequently happens with regard to events in this House, no notice whatever was taken of this display of feeling. In the following year, 1925, I again raised the question, and in 1925 the Conservative Government was in office, but the reception which I then encountered from my Leaders in this House was quite different from what it had been in the previous year. Instead of receiving my proposals with enthusiasm, they received them in an extremely tepid manner, and I remember complaining that my noble friend Lord Plymouth must have been briefed by the Anti-Gambling League. It was only by dint of watering down my Resolution that I persuaded my Leaders to accept my proposal.

Then the question again dropped, but I raised it again at a subsequent date, and eventually I collected all the most respectable people with whom I was acquainted and took them on a deputation to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Again our reception was not of an encouraging character. The Chancellor of the Exchequer indulged in the usual Ministerial platitudes about the immorality of betting, and said that his Government could not possibly be a party to anything of the kind. But apparently we made much more impression than we were aware of, because shortly afterwards the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced to a surprised world that he had made up his mind to tax betting. Thereupon a sort of unholy and unnatural alliance was immediately contracted between the Free Churches and the bookmakers. Both set to work to denounce the Betting Tax in the most vociferous manner, and they opposed it naturally from diametrically opposite points of view. The champions of anti-gambling maintained that the fact of putting a, tax on betting would pause an enormous increase in betting, and that people who had never made a bet before would at once proceed to bet because a tax had been put upon it. The bookmakers on their part contended that a tax would most infallibly ruin them, and ruin racing as well.

It was perfectly obvious that both could not be right, but what turned out was that both proved to be wrong. But in this case the bookmakers were less wrong than the Free Churches and the anti-gamblers. Betting has not increased since the tax was imposed; on the contrary, it has diminished. On the other hand, racing shows no signs of dying. It seems to me to show many signs of vitality. I speak for once in the presence of distinguished patrons of the turf, and they will probably contradict me if I am wrong, but I am under the impression that the prices for thoroughbred stocks are higher than they have ever been before, and that the stakes are higher. I observe, too, with interest that an enormous amount of money is being spent on a new stand at Epsom, although there are only six days' racing in the year there. All this does not look like a moribund industry at all, and when the bookmakers complain that racing receipts have fallen off in consequence of the tax, I very much doubt whether there is any truth in that assertion. I think it would be much more correct to attribute any falling off that there has been to the general depression which exists everywhere and which you will notice in the railway returns and so forth, and it would be much more to the point and much truer if they were to lay the blame for their losses, not upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer with his extremely light tax, but upon Mr. Cook and his friends from Moscow.

The Betting Tax, although it is now generally approved, possesses one cardinal defect. It is an incomplete tax, because it leaves a vast amount of betting alone and does not touch it at all. The reason for this is plain enough, but it is a very unsatisfactory reason. Everybody knows the extreme difficulty that attends the imposition of a new tax if, in addition to persuading Parliament to agree to a new tax, you have added to that the difficulty of persuading them to agree to a change in the law. When you have to do that your difficulties become almost insurmountable, and if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had taken that course he probably would have had very great difficulties, not only in Parliament, but in all probability with his own colleagues. Therefore he decided, according to advice given to him by myself amongst others—although I have no reason to believe he has ever paid any attention to me—not to interfere with the law but to tax what was already legal and to leave illegal betting alone.

As a matter of fact, he acted solely according to expediency and personally, think he was quite right at the time. But the result is that it puts bookmakers and backers who keep within the law at a disadvantage compared with those who break the law. For the benefit of noble Lords who are not thoroughly acquainted with racing let me shortly explain of what betting really consists. There are two kinds of betting. There is legal betting—that is to say, ready-money betting upon the racecourse and betting upon credit in offices—and there is illegal betting, which is usually known as street betting and consists in ready-money betting in an illegal way. The question of street betting is one which has perplexed Governments for a long time. As far back as twenty-five years ago I sat on a Committee of this House to consider the question and we recommended several remedies which have proved to be quite inefficacious. At the present time street betting is more prevalent than it has ever been: of that I have been assured by credible witnesses. The position at the present time, indeed, is little short of an absurdity. This kind of betting continues to increase. I suppose there is hardly a household in London of which there is not one member who does not indulge in one form of so-called street betting, and the same thing prevails all over the country.

There is not the smallest possibility of stopping it, nor will it ever be possible to stop it. All the efforts that have been made to stop it have been completely unavailing. The reasons of this failure are various, but the main reason why all these efforts have been vain is due to the manifest injustice and unfairness of the law. It is the one instance—the only one that occurs to me—in which the law does appear to act prejudicially in favour of one class as against the other, and this naturally promotes discontent. The inconsistency and unfairness of the present law have been commented upon and are being commented upon every day, more especially by those who have to administer the law. I observed only this morning a case in the newspaper of a prosecution at Greenwich. I will, however, quote but one instance to show what Judges, amongst other people, feel about the present law.

I will take the summing up by a distinguished Judge, Mr. Justice Branson, in a betting case at the Manchester Assizes in November last year. Mr. Justice Branson is reported to have said:— It was an extraordinary thing that it should be perfectly legal for a man to carry on a business of credit betting—that was to say, that a man might sit in a room and receive bets by telephone or by letter, running up an account with the man who was betting with him, and settling the account by letter at the end of the week; and there was no offence. But if, instead of receiving his bets by telephone, a man came to him and made a bet, that was unlawful. The jury might think that that was a ridiculous position, and he did not think they would be alone in that opinion, but the trouble was that it happened to be the law, and in those Courts they had to administer the law as it was, and not as it ought to be. After that summing up I was not surprised to see that the particular persons who were charged were acquitted. That sort of thing is going on almost in every Court where these cases are being tried. All this discontent, all this injustice, all this attempt to achieve the impossible, the demoralisation which follows from this particular practice, all the danger which our police incur from the temptations to which they are put—all this can at once be done away with if the simple proposal which appears in this Bill is adopted, and if people are allowed to bet for ready-money in an office.

I am well aware that any proposal of this kind arouses horror amongst many people. I should like to assure persons who are horrified at this prospect—although they are not likely to believe me—that no grounds for their fears exist. We have an object lesson close at hand. It is a most extraordinary thing that in all the debates and the discussions there have been in connection with the Betting Tax and so forth, nobody has drawn attention to this particular case in Ireland. In the Free State they instituted a Betting Tax at the same time as we did, and, I may observe, they have acted in a much more sensible way than we have. I went over to Ireland in the winter to see how matters were going on and what I saw really was a revelation to me. It will have been discovered by this time that I am strongly in favour of the establishment of offices where ready-money betting can be carried on. That is one of the things which the Irish Government have done. I visited these offices in Dublin and I never was more surprised in my life. I confess that I did think there might be some risk in establishing them, but, much to my surprise and I may add to my gratification, I discovered that those offices had been a complete success. I never saw anything more orderly in my life. They are not conspicuous. People go into them as they do into an ordinary office; they put their money down and come away, and those whom I saw were persons of most respectable appearance. By the look of them they might have been pew-openers or governesses, people of a most respectable type. There was no crowd and no disorder of any kind.

On the authority of the Free State—because I obtained information from them—I can make two statements which seem to me of very great importance. One is that as the result of establishing these offices street betting in Ireland has come to an end altogether; the second and perhaps more important point still is that in spite of, or rather in consequence of, the establishment of these offices the volume of betting in Ireland has decreased instead of increased. I said that the Irish Government set about this in a more sensible way than we have done, and though the tax is higher than it is here there have been no obstructions on the part of the bookmakers. They have not imitated the example of their English colleagues, who by their efforts have only succeeded in accelerating the advent of the totalisator. There will be a great satisfaction all round when that change comes about. I confess that it never occurred to me that we should ever have much to learn from the Free State, but that only shows how mistaken one can be. In this particular instance they have set an example which we may very well copy if we condescend to do so. If the result of the establishment of ready-money betting offices in Ireland has been a success, why on earth should it not be a success here?

What is there appalling in the suggestion that a man should go with half-a-crown in his pocket into an office and pay it over, or put a 5s. postal order in a letter and send it to a bookmaker? Speaking for myself, I can see nothing alarming about it at all. Suppose—and it is a thing which I think will never arise—that there was some kind of crowd, suppose even that there was a queue of people, would that be any more deplorable a spectacle than that of the crowds of people, belonging chiefly to the opposite sex, who will wait hour after hour, night after night, on the pavement to witness some miserable, rubbishy farce which personally would reduce me to profound depression for hours afterwards? I personally, like many others here, have never been able to see any harm in betting provided it is carried on in moderation within people's means, and provided more especially that it is done on the ready-money principle. I am quite unable to get up any admiration for the gentleman who comes to me and says proudly, as if he had done a very fine thing: "I have never made a bet in my life." I cannot feel any admiration for that attitude. On the contrary, I look upon such gentlemen as very poor-spirited people who have never had the courage of their opinions.

There is a good deal to be said for betting, and one of the things to be said in favour of it is that sometimes it is the only method by which we can ascertain the truth. The stock objection to betting, in principle, is that it is demoralising because it is an attempt by people to get something for nothing. Well, after all, to get something for nothing is the whole embodiment of the Socialist theory. Really it surprises me that the noble Earl [Earl Russell] who is to move the rejection of this Bill, who is a Socialist himself, should not realise the illogicality of his proceeding. But I am not so much worried about the opposition of the noble Earl and his friends as about the other kind of opposition which proceeds from people whom I consider to be the most important personages in the country—I allude to the big owners of race horses and the members of the Jockey Club. I always contend that these are the most important personages in the country, because they carry more weight than anybody else, and I am sure a great deal more importance is attached to their utterances than to those of any of the noble Lords on either of the Front Benches in this House. The opposition to betting which comes from these people seems to me inexplicable.

Take the case of my noble friend Viscount Astor. I do not see him here this afternoon, but I believe he is a determined opponent of betting. The strange thing is, however, that Viscount Astor upon one race only wagers a great deal more money than I do in the course of a year. He does not seem to realise that the ownership of horses is the most speculative and at the same time one of the most expensive actions in which a human being can indulge. The procedure of a racehorse owner is this: he either, at enormous expense, breeds horses, or he buys them at colossal prices, and in many cases I daresay the owner would not recognise his own purchase a few days afterwards if he saw it among other animals of the same age. After that he has to send these expensive animals to an expensive trainer and then enter them for expensive races. He may have to pay heavy forfeits, which continue to mount up as the time draws near, if he does not run his horses. I believe that if you start a horse in the Derby or the St. Leger or some of the other big races it costs £100. It does not seem to me to be very logical on the part of these gentlemen to denounce betting when they are carrying on this kind of practice. If what I have described is not gambling, then literally I have not the least idea what gambling is or of what it consists. There seems very little difference between this practice and that of putting money into a very expensive lottery.

If the very simple plan I am advocating in this Bill is adopted everybody will be satisfied. When I say everybody I exclude, of course, the anti-gamblers. People will cease to break the law, because there will be no object in doing so. One of the, great drawbacks of the present system is that the law is so persistently broken that it has fallen absolutely into contempt. Street betting will go, and the street bookmaker will certainly not complain, because he will have an office for which he will buy a licence and no doubt he will be delighted to spend money in that manner rather than be obliged to have the very expensive schemes by which he protects himself at the present moment. Another thing that will disappear if you transact betting in this above-board manner will be the continual touting of men and women which goes on every day in every factory as well as in the streets. That would naturally come to an end. And so would the still more objectionable practice of betting among boys and girls and minors because, of course, a book-maker would be very careful not to do anything which would endanger his licence. The police would be occupied in a far more profitable manner than in try- ing to stamp out an offence which really is unavoidable; and, finally, the State would profit by increased revenue.

These are not my own ideas. I have never professed to have an original idea in my life. All these advantages have been pointed out in the Report of the Committee to which I have alluded. The only obstacle that stands in the way of the reform which I advocate being adopted is the groundless fear of what for want of a better name is known as the Nonconformist conscience. The fear of the so-called Nonconformist conscience is really nothing but the survival of a particularly silly superstition. You may rank it with the fear of walking under a ladder, or of getting married in May, or of beginning something on a Friday. There is no basis whatever for it and I should have thought that ought to have been plain enough when the Betting Tax was brought in and the futility of this opposition was displayed. I think the time has really come to emancipate ourselves from the hypocritical position in which we find ourselves.

What the Government really say—not this Government alone, but all Governments—is something like this: "Owing to various legal quibbles and absurdities You may bet in certain ways. For instance, a race course is not a public place and therefore you may bet there, and we will tax your bets. You may bet at an office, if you do not resort to it. That is to say, you may bet by telephone, by letter or by telegraph, and we will tax you on that; and, in order to make things pleasant for you and for the book-maker, we will give you extra telephonic, telegraphic and postal facilities, we will provide police for you when you want them, and we will offer no impediment to special trains being run for your benefit. But if you suggest that you should be allowed to go with half-a-crown in your pocket to an office and put it down over the counter, or that you should enclose a bank note or postal order in your letter, then we cannot listen to you for one moment, and the only excuse that we can give is that we think that there are certain misguided people in this country who would say that it was conducive to immorality." I repeat that it is time that we emancipated ourselves from this hypocritical cant.

This Bill is, of course, merely a skeleton or a framework. It is obvious to anybody that, if it passed its Second Reading and were subjected to further discussion, a great many additions would have to be made to it, and it is in the highest degree improbable that it would get through both Houses of Parliament. That is a task which, I think, is beyond the capacity of the ordinary private member. What I am asking the House to do on this occasion is to vote upon the principle involved, and I hope I have made that principle clear. I should like to add this. In asking the House to vote upon the principle, I attach very great value to the opinion that the House will express, and for that reason I suggest to my noble friend Lord Salisbury that he should allow a free vote to be taken upon it and not put the Whips on. May I also say that, in my opinion, he will be extremely injudicious if he does not do what I suggest, because it is perfectly obvious to me that before long some alteration in the Gaming Laws is absolutely unavoidable? It will have to be passed by Parliament and, if the Minister when the time comes is confronted with an adverse decision in this House, it will make the work of Mr. Churchill, or whoever the Minister may be, very much more difficult than will be the case if my suggestion is adopted. Accordingly I hope, in conclusion, that the vote will be taken upon the principle of this Bill, and that the vote will be decided in accordance with the principles of common sense and justice. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Newton.)


My Lords, I happen to be sitting with several members of the club to which my noble friend alluded, and I can only trust that we looked becomingly modest during that part of his speech. I will not follow my noble friend into any discussion of the question whether or not the Betting Tax is doing harm to horse racing, beyond saying that I do not think that either of the instances quoted by my noble friend was very convincing. The prices of thoroughbred stock must necessarily be regulated by the size of the prizes that they can be run for. There has been no time for the tax to have any effect on that aspect of racing, and accordingly it is obvious that no such alteration can be expected. With regard to the grand stand at Epsom, my noble friend must surely be aware that, with an undertaking of that size, contracts for the stands had to be let many months before the Finance Act of last year was introduced. I really do not think that either argument was quite a fair one.

I shall vote for my noble friend's Bill because I believe it will remove a genuine grievance, and also because I think it will remove a gross instance of class in-equality. I happen to know that there are a large number of reputable people in this country, people who are in all other respects perfectly law-abiding, who resent very deeply the necessity under which they find themselves of having to commit a breach of the law every time they make a bet. So long as credit betting is the only form of betting that is tolerated by the law off our race-courses, so long will the law continue to make criminals of people who are not really performing a wicked act. That in itself, I think, constitutes a genuine grievance, but the grievance is accentuated a hundred fold when the people who suffer from it know that persons of greater wealth, and therefore persons who are able to obtain credit, can do what they themselves are not allowed to do, and may perhaps back the same horses with perfect impunity and without let or hindrance. I think that this is an injustice, and for that reason I shall vote for my noble friend's Bill.

The noble Lord has told us that we are to regard this Bill as a skeleton. Frankly, the only complaint that I have against it is that it does not go far enough. It will redress the grievance to which I have just alluded, but it does not do the thing which is, I think, an obvious corollary to what the noble Lord asked the House to accept. If you allow people to deposit money in advance with a bookmaker when they make a bet, it should follow as a natural sequence of events that you should at the same time make it difficult or unlikely that the bookmaker will decamp with their money. There is no protection of that sort in the law as it stands, and there would be no such protection if this Bill were passed. I shall give my vote for this Bill as a member of your Lordships' House, and I shall give it for the reasons that I have stated. I do not suppose that your Lordships are particularly interested in the way that I am going to vote or in my reason for doing so, but I do ask for the attention of the House to what I am going to say, because in saying it I shall be speaking in my capacity for the moment as a steward of the Jockey Club. I shall be speaking with the full approval of my colleagues, one of whom sits besides me, and with a full knowledge of the responsibility that I am taking.

In order to explain the point that I wish to put before the House, I must ask to be allowed to give as briefly as I can an account of the way in which defaulting bettors are dealt with, and how that system has arisen. In the early days of racing, disputes concerning bets were settled by the stewards of the race meetings. There are instances on record, I think in the reign of King Charles II, when the Sovereign himself has adjudicated on cases of this kind which arose at Newmarket. The stewards of race meetings and the stewards of the Jockey Club adjudicated on these disputes until about the middle of last century, and at about that time, which your Lordships may remember was the period when Parliament decided that the Judges had something better to do than try this sort of case, the Jockey Club, for precisely similar reasons, decided that the stewards should no longer take cognisance of betting disputes. That was done for exactly the same reason as Parliament made its decision with regard to the Courts. But there is an important difference between what Parliament did and what the Jockey Club did. The Judges were allowed by Parliament to wash their hands of the whole business. The Jockey Club delegated the duty of hearing and adjudicating on these cases to the committee of Tattersall's, and they authorised the stewards of the Club to give effect to reports of default from Tattersall's committee and warn persons so reported off Newmarket Heath.

That system subsists to-day, and so far as our racecourses are concerned it works satisfactorily. Tattersall's committee is, I venture to say, as good a body as can be found for this purpose. It enjoys the confidence and respect of all reputable racing people, and it was recognised by a Judge of the High Court recently as the proper body to adjudicate on these matters. I recently took a member of the legal profession to a meeting of that committee. He heard half a dozen cases disposed of, and he told me when we were coming away that he thought what he had heard constituted a very fine example of rough and ready justice—of the sort of justice meted out at a Court-Martial, perhaps the best and fairest justice in the world. I say that with diffidence in the presence of so many learned members of this House, but I think they would be the first to agree with me on that point. I should like to tell the House something about the composition of this committee. The Chairman at the present moment is a General with a distinguished record. Two members of the Jockey Club are on the committee, and half a dozen other gentlemen well known and respected in the racing world, several of whom are connected with the professional side of betting. The procedure of the committee is as follows:—When a man is unable to obtain payment of a betting debt which he considers due to him he reports the matter to the committee. A day is appointed for the hearing of the case and both sides are summoned to attend. If the committee decide that the claim is a just one they order the debtor to pay. If he does not pay they report him to the stewards of the Jockey Club, and they warn him off Newmarket Heath as long as the default continues.

I apologise for going into these particulars at such length, but the House ought to know them in view of what I am going to ask for in a moment. The effect of warning off Newmarket Heath is that a man is not only warned off all our property at Newmarket, but is prevented from going into an enclosure on any racecourse in the country. We send a list of the people who have been made defaulters to all the managers of race meetings and require the stewards of those meetings to see that they are not allowed in anywhere. I have here a copy of the list which we send round and I will deal with it in a moment. In order to make sure that defaulters and other undesirable characters are excluded from racecourses we have established an organisation of racecourse detectives, paid for in part by a levy on the racecourses which hold licences from us, and partly out of the funds of the Jockey Club. This system was established in consultation with the Home Office. We have received valuable help from the Home Secretary, from the officials of Scotland Yard and from chief constables all over the country, and I should like to say that chief constables have, in many instances, expressed their gratitude for and satisfaction at the assistance which our organisation has been able to give to the local police. I emphasise this point and detain the House over it because I want to make it quite clear that we do everything we can for the protection of people who attend our racecourses. We think it right that people who support our sport by paying to go into the enclosures should receive this protection.

I hesitate to assume that the moral standard of His Majesty's Government is lower than ours in matters of this kind: I prefer to believe that the facts are not understood. But I ask the House to consider what is happening in regard to the licences which are being issued to bookmakers. They are being issued broadcast to every applicant who has sufficient money to pay the fees, without any inquiry as to whether he is a suitable person to hold a licence. It is grossly unfair to the public, and even more unfair to the honourable and reputable members of the bookmaking profession. There are many such—they are in an enormous majority—but there are, unfortunately, a few who will resort to any subterfuge to avoid payment of what they ought to pay, and I tell the House, and I say it with a great sense of responsibility, that there are in this list which I hold in my hand the names of men who have been reported to the stewards of the Jockey Club by Tattersall's committee over and over again as defaulters. We have warned them off Newmarket Heath; they cannot go on to any racecourse in the country; but they are to-day soliciting custom from the public by every device known to the modern science of advertising—by letter, by circular, by large type in the daily Press, and even on the omnibuses running in our streets. I say it is a crying scandal, and it is wrong that the Government should connive at it and profit by it. The stewards of the Jockey Club are powerless in the matter. We can exclude these people from racecourses, but we cannot prevent them from carrying on business elsewhere. The Government are drawing a very large revenue from this business and I say that it is their duty to prevent this from happening. I will give this list of defaulters to the representative of the Treasury in this House if he will accept it, and I will ask him to take it to the Board of Excise and ask them to go into it, and to find out how many of their customers are mentioned in its pages.

I will tell the House something which happened the other day and which came to my notice. The manager of one of our racecourses came to me and asked what he ought to do in a difficult question which had arisen. A man who had recently been convicted of "welshing" by the bench of a neighbouring town was starting to make a book in the "silver" ring the race meeting. One of our racing detectives went up to him and told him to clear out. The answer he received was this: "You cannot prevent me from betting. I am a licensed bookmaker; I hold a licence from the Chancellor of the Exchequer." I do not think I can tell the House exactly what I said, but I gave him to understand that we did not mind where he got his licence, but he was not going to swindle people on our racecourses. I do not think it is asking very much to ask His Majesty's Government to try and take some of the same care that we do to protect the public. I hope the Bill will pass. I hope it will be amended on the lines that I have indicated, and I shall certainly give it my support. I have thought it my duty, as a member of your Lordships' House, to put your Lordships in possession of these facts which have come to my notice as a steward of the Jockey Club, in the hope that the Government may take action upon them.


, who had given Notice to move, That the Bill be read 2a this day six months, said: My Lords, anyone who brings an impartial and a considering mind to bear upon this subject of betting must, I think, very soon be struck by the confused and difficult nature of the subject. The confusion and the difficulty take two forms. There is first the legal confusion and difficulty, which is very considerable, but that is comparatively a small matter, because it can always be put right by legislation, and a way can be found through the maze by lawyers, however illogical the existing maze may be. And then there is the much more difficult confusion as to the moral aspect of the matter, on which the noble Lord who moved the Second Reading of this Bill dealt, and to which I shall have to refer.

As I understand the law, at present it is still the law, as it was before betting was taxed, that you may not resort to a betting office for the purpose of betting. I do not think that was changed by the Finance Act, and, if I am right in thinking that that has not been changed, I do not quite see how the Bill of the noble Lord is going to do all the wonderful things that he told us. He said that touting would disappear and that street bookmaking would disappear if the principle of his Bill were adopted. As I understand the Bill, which really contains only one operative clause—I hope the noble Lord will correct me if I misunderstand it—it merely means that you may bet upon these premises in ready money instead of upon credit. I do not understand that it goes so far as to authorise resorting to the premises for the purpose of betting.


I do.


If it does, that alters the argument, but I am not clear about that; the noble Lord did not say so in his speech. If, as I understand, the Bill does in fact do that, or if it is his intention that the Bill should legalise resorting to these offices, then of course you come to a totally different question. Your Lordships know very well that the reason why the resorting to betting offices was originally made illegal was that they partook of the nature of disorderly houses—I do not mean in the modern and limited sense in which that term is sometimes used, but in the sense in which it was used at the time of these Acts—that is to say, they were places where there was a noise, uproar and confusion, which were a nuisance to the neighbours. It is not necessary that that should take place nowadays, although I think the noble Lord did envisage queues existing for persons to register the bets in their half-crowns. But I think it was pretty certain that if they would not be centres of actual disorder in the sense understood by the police, they would be centres of an undesirable character in any town or village where they were set up.


It is not so in Ireland.


In Ireland things always happen rather strangely. One never can tell. The noble Lord spoke of the moral aspect, and said that he could not see that there was any harm in betting if people betted with moderation. That may very well be true, but of so many things that is also true. It is somewhat analogous to the consumption of alcohol, is it not? A very large number of people who are neither teetotalers nor excessive drinkers think that there is no harm in the consumption of alcohol in moderation; but the trouble in the case of alcohol has been, and is, that because it is a profitable trade it is forced upon people to an extent which they do not desire, and that they frequently consume alcohol in quantities which do injury not only to their health and their work and to their lives, but considerable injury to their pockets.

The noble Lord himself admitted in his speech that that is very much the present position of cash-betting when this touting goes on. I have taken the trouble, as I have no doubt many of your Lordships have done, to look at the Report of the Committee which sat upon betting. They point out that the extent—I do not say of the evil, because I do not want to beg the question; but the extent to which betting takes place in all classes is amazing. They point out that touts are sent into factories and workshops, who collect bets from the workmen there, that the street bookmakers or their agents go round to private houses and endeavour to extract bets from the wives of the workmen when they are out. The noble Lord said that this Bill will stop all that, and I assume—I think rightly from his speech—that he would be in favour of limiting that kind of betting and putting a stop to it. I do not wish to give your Lordships instances, but everyone knows that all the evidence of any Inquiry that has ever taken place on this subject goes to show that a very large number of the people who bet in half-crowns and so on do, in effect, deprive their children of boots in consequence, or stint them of food, in order that they may have this money to spend on betting.

The Committee itself says, and quotes police evidence for the fact, that a great deal of this ready-money betting is the sort of thing which leads to pilfering and robbing of tills, and that kind of thing. None of your Lordships would wish that to continue, and if I thought that the Bill of the noble Lord would, in fact, put a stop to that, and if he had succeeded in convincing me of that, I should be the first to support him. I doubt if it would be so. The only thing, it seems to me, that would put a stop to that would be to treat it on the same basis as what we call "disinterested management" in the liquor trade. So long as there is a profit to be made out of the vices and the follies of your fellow creatures, and so long as it is possible to carry on that trade without interruption, people will be found willing to exploit them, and willing to develop the trade and willing to push their fellow creatures into any condition of misery rather than not make a profit out of the trade. This Bill does nothing to stop that.

If, as I now understand from the noble Lord, the intention is that you should be able to resort to these premises with your half-crowns, or shillings, or five shillings in your pocket, instead of going to the street bookmaker, then that means that you are to permit to be set up and opened a licensed shop for betting in every town, and presumably in every large village of sufficient importance to make it worth while to pay the rent of the premises. And you are, of course, to be allowed to advertise in that shop the "odds" and the form of horses, and the results of races, and all the things that would lead people to come there and resort to it for the purpose of betting. It may be possible. I do not gather from the Bill that there is any prohibition of the present system, that men would resort to the office for the purpose of betting, and I do not see any reason why touts should not still be sent out to bring in people in sufficient numbers to the offices and there resort to betting.


May I point out to the noble Earl that the essence of the Bill is that these men would have to obtain licences and if they indulged in any practice of the kind to which he refers their licences would go.


I do not know that there is anything in the licence now granted to bookmakers which forbids them to tout or advertise for business. I do not understand from this Bill that there is anything in the licence proposed to be granted which would forbid them from doing what I have suggested. The noble Lord has said it is a skeleton Bill, but an important part of its clothing has been omitted if it is intended to be clothed, and if there is to be prohibition of touting. And to what extent is advertising for business to be prohibited? Are the bookmakers to be allowed to advertise in the local papers or to send round advertising circulars as moneylenders do? This Bill is brought before your Lordships and commended on those grounds and all I have to say to it is that the Bill as it stands certainly does not carry out what the noble Lord suggested. I conceive myself that it would lead to a very considerable increase of betting to have these public and licensed places. I am very glad to think that that is not the desire of the noble Lord and it is, of course, a matter of opinion for all your Lordships whether that would be the effect or would not be the effect. I rather fear it would be so.

May I turn for a moment to what I consider to be the moral principle at the back of the objection to betting? The noble Lord said that it was the desire to get something for nothing and, expert as he may be on this question of betting, he showed, I fear, that he is not an expert on the question of Socialism when he went on to say that that was a Socialist principle. I would commend to the noble Lord's attention almost any standard work upon Socialist principles and he will find that underlying the whole system of Socialism is the giving of service. Service is that which is to be given and for which you are to be rewarded with subsistence and the amenities of subsistence. I have never seen it enunciated anywhere that the principle of Socialism is that you are to get something for nothing: you are to render service for it. And to my mind the real evil of betting is that by that or by any other form of speculation a man seeks to acquire money and riches without giving corresponding service, and almost every moralist will agree, I think, that that is a thing which undermines and saps the human character and has a very bad effect on the character of the people who give way to it. They gradually get into the way of thinking that all life is a speculation to be got through in the easiest possible way, without ever doing honest work for honest pay, that they are to become rich by windfalls, by accidents, by lotteries, by bets, and by all those other things which contravene that principle of payment for honest work done.

That is the real principle which betting offends. The principle perhaps hardly applies—or rather if the principle applies it applies very slightly—in the case where the bet is for an amount that is insignificant to the person who makes it because then he is not really seeking to acquire wealth but is amusing himself. There is no very particular harm in his spending a small sum on that amusement as on any other. He is not really seeking to enrich himself and it does not change the tenour of his life or of his mind or thoughts. I am anxious to remove the reproach which the noble Lord hurled across the House—I do not say he intended it specially for myself—that a person who had never made a bet was a poor spirited person. I will offer the noble Lord a bet of ten shillings that his Bill will not pass if he will give me suitable odds. I should not like to rest under that reproach, for I feel I could scarcely bear it. There are many things connected with racing which might legitimately be taxed. I have often thought that in addition to betting, if we are going on the principle of taxing luxuries you might very well tax the racehorse. I can imagine no greater luxury. It is a pure luxury. The only objection to that tax is an objection which I have to many of the taxes of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, and that is that they contravene the principle that von should not put on a tax unless it brings in something sufficiently substantial. I doubt whether racehorses would bring in anything sufficiently substantial. I think they would come within the definition of fancy taxes.

I rather think this tax upon betting has had a bad moral effect upon the country by, in a sense, recognising it But of course our present legal position is quite indefensible. There is no justification at all for it and no one can resist the observation, which is constantly made, that all our legislation on this subject is either folly or hypocrisy; that it does not appear to have any underlying principle. The Betting Committee themselves say and, I dare say, rightly, that the desire to bet is so widely spread among the community that it is hopeless to put it down by law. That may be so, but they also admit that a good deal of the growth of betting has been of comparatively recent date and I cannot help thinking that a good deal might be done to discourage it if people were really seriously minded to attempt that discouragement. They say, and it is no doubt true, that in the case of the attempt of the police to put down street betting the sympathies of the public are entirely with the offenders and not with the police. I do not doubt that for a moment. They say, as the noble Lord said in moving this Bill, that at the root of the thing is a sense of injustice as between class and class in the matter. One cannot deny that either. But I think it is not necessary to go any further in the direction of encouraging it and by encouraging what undoubtedly does produce in the course of the year a great deal of harm, a great deal of misery and, very often, actual want to women and children. I think it also produces what is worse than that, the attitude of mind to which I directed your Lordships' attention, the attitude of mind of losing sight of honest service for honest payment and taking refuge in windfalls and accidents.

This Bill, as I understand it, is going to increase the facilities for betting. It is going to make that legal which is now illegal. It is not, so far as I can make out, going to do anything definite in the way of prohibiting or further stopping that which is now illegal; it is merely going to provide an additional facility; and for that reason I hope your Lordships will not see fit to pass it this afternoon. The noble Lord at the end of his observations said that it was a skeleton Bill and that you were only to vote for the principle. I listened rather anxiously to find out what the principle was for or against which I was to vote and unfortunately the noble Lord did not go on to tell us. I confess I do not know now what the principle is for which we are to vote unless it is the principle that there should be no distinction between ready-money betting and credit, betting.


That is so.


Well, if that is the principle it is a principle, it seems to me, which might be worth voting for if you were considering an alteration of the law as a whole, but hardly worth while putting in this Bill. What I would suggest to Your Lordships is that this question of betting is really a social question of very grave importance. The Report of the Committee recognised that and emphasised it. They were not asked to report on that aspect of it, but they did recognise and emphasise it. Any attempt to deal with it should, I think, be the effort of the Government of the day after a definite inquiry with the object of seeing what can be done. The question is far too difficult to settle without very careful examination. The best advice is required as to what steps are possible and whether such steps, if adopted, would be practicable. I am the last person to condemn legislation because it is introduced by a private member. It may well be that private members have more energy than the Government of the day and are more ready to bring useful measures before your Lordships' Rouse. But this is really a very grave social evil and one which I think is quite fit to engage the attention of any Government. I do not know that we are compromised, fatally compromised, in dealing with it by the adoption of a Betting Tax, but I do urge that before any change is made in the law, anomalous and indefensible as it is, there should be very careful inquiry from a responsible quarter. I beg to move that the Bill be read a second time this day six months.

Amendment moved— Leave out ("now") and at the end of the Motion insert ("this day six months").—(Earl Russell.)


My Lords, I do not wish to enter into any discussion on the merits or demerits of this particular Bill. I am afraid I do not know very much about betting and in consequence I should be the last to find all the arguments which can undoubtedly be brought forward in regard to this Bill. I rise for one purpose, and one purpose only, and that is as a member of the Jockey Club to support the remarks that have been made by our senior steward, Lord Hamilton of Dalzell. He has put before your Lordships a matter on which we who are interested in racing feel very deeply, that is, that whilst we are doing all we possibly can to purify the turf and to remove from our enclosures these welshers and swindlers, the Government are, so to speak, whitewashing the very individuals we wish to exclude.

A bookmaker at the present moment is really a licensed collector of taxes for the Government. It is through him that a certain amount of revenue is expected and obtained, and surely it should be the object of the Government, and of the Treasury in particular, to see that the men they thus authorise to collect the taxes should be men who are supposed, at all events, to behave honestly both to the Government and to the people with whom they bet. At the present moment that is not the case, as Lord Hamilton of Dalzell has very clearly shown and as the paper in his hand would show even more conclusively if members of your Lordships' House had time to examine it. There are undoubtedly at the present moment a lot of men receiving licences whom we would not in any circumstances allow on our courses and in our enclosures. I do therefore, as a member of the Jockey Club, ask your Lordships' attention to what Lord Hamilton of Dalzell has said and I sincerely trust the Government, as they undoubtedly can do through the administrative act of the Treasury, will take steps to prevent and to eliminate any danger in the future from what we believe to be a great scandal.


My Lords, I do not intend to follow the noble Lord who moved the Second Reading of this Bill into the history of the reception which this question has had at your Lordships' hands at different times. I want to explain briefly the position of the Government with regard to the Bill. As the noble Lord has already pointed out, the effect of this Bill would be to remove the ban which is imposed upon betting by the Act of 1853, that is, upon ready-money betting in offices, and of course it would have the effect of completely reversing the policy of that Act. I am fully aware, and I am sure all your Lordships are fully aware, of the very obvious anomalies which do exist with regard to the general Betting Laws in this country. I am not here this afternoon to defend those anomalies in any way, but I want to point out and to emphasise that when the Betting Duty was introduced last year it was introduced on the explicit understanding that nothing in the legislation concerning it should have the effect of making legal what was at that time illegal.

There was, in fact, included in the Finance Act a definite stipulation of that kind. Section 15 (2) of that Act reads as follows:— Nothing in this Part of this Act shall operate so as to render lawful any betting in any manner or place in which it is at the commencement of this Part of this Act unlawful, or so as to authorise the writing, printing, publication or sending of any notice, circular or advertisement which is at that time unlawful. And the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his Budget speech, spoke as follows:— I am not trying at this particular moment, or on this particular point, to set the world to rights. I am trying to balance future Budgets. I do not, therefore, propose to change the law. We do not propose to make anything legal which is not now legal and we do not propose to invest a wager with any recognition, sanction or recoverability which it does not now possess. Later on at different stages of the Finance Bill he reiterated this in practically identical terms. I think it is quite clear what was the intention of the Government at that time. It was that, although this Duty was introduced and imposed, they had no intention for the time being of altering the law so as to make legal what was at that time illegal.

Therefore I think that the question appears to resolve itself practically into this: Assuming that the Bill which the noble Lord has introduced is a good one—and I am not venturing to express any opinion on its merits now—would it be wise so soon after the introduction of that Duty to put into effect such a drastic change as the Bill of which the noble Lord has moved the Second Reading would entail? I think noble Lords, on reflection, will realise that one would come to the conclusion that the answer must be in the negative. The Betting Duty has only been in operation just over six months and the most important part of the racing season is still before us. I think your Lordships will agree that it would be impossible to make any dependable deduction from the scanty and incomplete results, facts and figures which we have at our disposal at the present moment. I think it would be still more impossible, or rather perhaps I may say unwise, on the strength of those facts and figures, to make such a fundamental change in the law of the country with regard to betting as is foreshadowed by this Bill.

I should like to make it quite clear that I am not suggesting for a moment that a change in these laws can never be contemplated. That would be absurd and ridiculous. I am merely saying that in my opinion the introduction of this Bill seems somewhat premature. There is no doubt, I think, that public opinion is moving on this subject. There seems to be a general increase of interest on this question and for that reason the Government are very naturally following the whole situation with the very greatest care. It is quite possible that at some time or other they will have to take action. There are all sorts of possibilities in view, and among them are many which will obviously have to be taken into consideration. There is the question—as a matter of fact, this point was only lightly touched upon—of the introduction of the totalisator. That is a subject that has drawn to it itself increasing attention during the last month, and it would have to be very seriously considered.

In connection with the general prospects, I think it would be right to quote to your Lordships a few words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a reply to a deputation from the Free Churches on this subject in June of last year. He said:— It may be that the day will come when the State will endeavour to address itself to the whole problem of betting and gambling, and in that case I entirely agree that it should not be done as a question of raising revenue, but as a social, moral and political issue which must be dealt with according to the sense of the nation and of Parliament in a Bill specially devoted to that purpose. We have no intention whatever of raising such an issue. I think that really makes clear the position of the Government towards this question. It is that, when they introduced the Duty last year, it was not intended to make any alteration in the law at that moment, and the Government are not satisfied that the present Duty has been in force sufficiently long to warrant their changing the law now.

A number of issues have been raised this afternoon which perhaps were not particularly germane to this Bill, such as that which was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Hamilton of Dalzell, who is naturally so well qualified to speak on these subjects, and which was touched upon by the noble Earl, Lord Derby. I am sure your Lordships will understand that I am not in a position to say anything definite on that subject, but I can assure those noble Lords that anything that they say will naturally be taken into very careful consideration. With regard to the actual merits or demerits of the Bill I do not propose to say more than a very few words. There are obviously very strong arguments on either side, and we have heard noble Lords arguing with considerable force from both points of view this afternoon. But it is quite clear that the Bill does involve, in addition to the somewhat small point that seems at first sight to be raised, every kind of legal, social and moral consideration, all of which have to be taken into account.

I am not intending to go into those arguments this afternoon and I am not even intending to strike a balance of opinion on one side or the other, but I do think it right to say that, if it is meant to pass this Bill into law, it is quite clear, as the noble Lord who introduced it admitted, that it would require a great deal of further careful attention, and probably amendment as well. Whatever the merits of the noble Lord's proposal nay be, it is quite obvious that, before cash betting can be legalised, the question of differentiation between applicants and the conditions under which registered bookmakers carry on such business must be very carefully considered, because they do involve all kinds of other points.

I understand that primarily the purpose of the noble Lord is to test the feeling of the House upon the actual merits of this Bill, and in order that this may be done as far as possible, and at his request, the Government have agreed, if there is a Division, not to put the Government Whips on. Speaking for myself, I must say that I find it difficult to dissociate the pure merits of the Bill from all the other very important special considerations that surround it. They naturally have a very real and important bearing upon the situation, and it is because I feel that it is really impossible to divorce the pure merits of the Bill from all those considerations that I personally propose to vote against the Second Reading.


My Lords, I think that every member of your Lordships' House will agree that the present stare of the Betting Laws and the enormous amount of what is called street betting which takes place are very deplorable. Everybody would desire to reduce street betting as far as it can be reduced, and we can all agree that at present the law is full of complications and anomalies. I must say that I agree with my noble friend Lord Plymouth, who spoke for the Government, that my noble friend's Bill would deal only with a portion of the evil. If we are to deal with it, it should be dealt with as a whole. My noble friend seemed to imply that if his Bill were passed it would at once get rid of street betting. I do not think that there is anything in the Bill, which he himself described as mere outline, that would necessarily have that effect. I must say that I agree with the Government in thinking that the Bill is premature at the moment when the whole position has been altered by the Betting Tax, and that we should not attempt to deal with the matter by a side issue.

But I am sure that your Lordships will agree that the matter ought to be reconsidered, from the point of view not only of present taxation but of the moral effect to which attention has been drawn. Taken as a whole, I should like to endorse that which fell from my noble friend Lord Russell. We had an Inquiry a year or two ago, not in reference to the question of whether betting should be recognised by the law or whether the present illegalities should be reduced, but solely as to whether it was possible to introduce a Betting Tax. A majority of the Select Committe came to the conclusion that it was possible to deal with betting in that way, and they proposed a Betting Tax, but it has been objected, and I think quite rightly, that they had nothing to do with the general question of betting throughout the country.

I think there is a great deal to be said for my noble friend's suggestion that the time has now come to have another Inquiry as to the general position of betting in the country, in order to see if it can be dealt with as a whole. I feel that my noble friend's Bill would not deal with it, but would only legalise what is at present illegal and give an impression that the Government have reconsidered their attitude towards street betting in a direction which I am sure is contrary to public opinion. Without going into the merits of the Bill any further, I shall certainly vote against it on the ground so ably stated by Lord Plymouth and because I believe that this matter, if dealt with at all, should be dealt with as a whole and not by a side issue such as that introduced by my noble friend.


My Lords, I feel a good deal of hesitation in intervening even for a minute in this debate, as I have no technical knowledge whatsoever of the subject, but I have a good deal of knowledge both of the extent of betting and of the evils that follow from it. I am not prepared in the least to argue that betting per se is immoral or evil, but I do venture to point out that the extent that it has now reached and the evils that arise from it are causing something which is becoming a real danger to the nation. Certainly since I was ordained, and was first brought into intimate contact with the working classes, betting has increased in two ways. Apparently it has greatly increased among women, and during the last few years there has been a very large increase in betting among boys and girls, and even among children. It is extraordinary what a mania there is for betting among boys in poorer districts. For instance, at this time of year when we are arranging for summer camps, we find that it is impossible to get any definite answer from boys whether they are coming to the summer camps until immediately after Derby Day. Apparently it depends upon whether they lose or win. The boys apparently wish to have some kind of excitement and they get it through betting.

It would be an exaggeration to say that every one who bets is demoralised, but it is true to say that there is a large amount of avoidable suffering caused by the practice. I doubt whether there are in the police courts a very large number of cases of petty dishonesty due to betting, but for one case which appears in the police courts every social worker will tell von that there are literally dozens of cases of boys who get into trouble with their employers through petty pilfering. Therefore when I ask myself whether I should vote for the proposal that is before this House to-day, I put one test only and that is: Is this Bill likely to increase or to decrease the amount of betting in the country?


To decrease it.


I put the same question to myself with regard to the proposal for the taxation of betting, and there I came to the conclusion that possibly Betting Tax might decrease the amount of betting in the country. Therefore I refused to join in any of the agitation which I think was carried on, somewhat inconsistently, against the tax. In this matter, however, I feel rather differently. If I had any ground for believing that allowing this cash betting at a house would lead to a reduction of street betting, which is becoming nothing less than a scandal, I should vote for the Bill. Even my chaplain a few days ago, when passing through the streets, was twice asked to bet on some race. You find a regular system of canvassing for bets in the new districts which are springing up under the housing schemes. Indeed, almost one of the first visitors to call at these new houses is the representative of these betting concerns.

As far as I can see, however, there is nothing in the proposals of this Bill which can lead us to believe that in the future, until a new law is passed, street betting will be stopped. The noble Lord was extremely optimistic about it. He believes that those engaged in this kind of betting will in future bet in some house which is properly licensed. I venture to believe that there is no real reason for thinking that this will be the case. Instead I think you will have a very large number of houses in which there is a licensed and recognised agent, whose one purpose will be to encourage betting. He will have a house with all kinds of advertisements, making it attractive like some of those betting centres one sees occasionally on the Con- tinent, especially in the south of Spain—a place made thoroughly attractive, and which it is very difficult for ally -one in the least inclined to bet to pass by without entering. You will also have vested interests formed and possessed by those who will do their utmost to see that the law is brought into accordance with their own interests, and who will oppose any law which might possibly check the growth of betting.

I could not help feeling that one of the strongest arguments brought against the measure was a statement put forward by the noble Lord who spoke second in support of the measure. If already, under the Betting Tax, licences have been given to a large number of undesirable people—if that measure has already failed in that way—what guarantee have we that the same thing may not happen under this new measure, if the system of licensing is extended? Therefore I venture to say that until we have had a much longer period of experience of the working of the Betting Tax it would be most unwise to attempt to extend its operation in this way, and I shall vote against the Bill.


My Lords, I do not rise to make anything like a speech, but I think it only right that, as representing the Government in a very prominent position in this House, I should make quite clear what is the position of the Government on the question of the Division which is about to take place. Lord Newton has moved this Bill but, as my noble friend Lord Plymouth has said, more particularly in order to ascertain the opinion of the House on this question of cash betting. Upon that we do not desire to interfere if he goes to a Division, and so far as this Division on the Second Reading is concerned the Government will take no part as a Government. We shall not try to use our influence on any of your Lordships, beyond the extent to which our individual arguments may prevail, to induce your Lordships to take one course rather than another.

With regard to any future stages of the Bill the Government cannot view them with indifference. We are practically pledged by my right hon. friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer not to alter the Betting Laws in connection with the Betting Tax. That does not bind us, as has been said, for all time, but it certainly binds us for the few months which have elapsed—and for more than that—since the Betting Tax was enacted. Therefore if it comes to a question whether the Bill is to pass into law, I am afraid we should have to use all the influence we possess to induce your Lordships not to allow it to pass into law. So far as the present Division is concerned, and as to the effort which Lord Newton desires to make to ascertain the views of the House upon what he calls the principle of the Bill, we, as a Government, do not want to interfere. Personally I shall vote against the Bill, but I do not wish to use my influence upon anybody else's vote.


My Lords, I have now had, I regret to say, considerable Parliamentary experience, and I have invariably found the same thing. Whenever I have brought forward a Motion or a Bill I have been invariably told by die Government that my action was both premature and inopportune. I am told the same thing to-day. I entirely dissent from that view. My action is not premature, nor is it inopportune. My action is very apposite. This question has got to be dealt with, and it is no good making out that it cannot be dealt with now, because the Government will have to tackle it later on.

Apparently what is going to decide the Division now is the question whether betting is going to be diminished or increased by this Bill. I have no hesitation in telling the right rev. Prelate that betting will be diminished. Betting has diminished in consequence of the Tax, and I wish carefuly to point out that betting has diminished in Ireland on account of the Free State Government adopting the principle I want this House to accept this evening. As for the point as to whether the wrong kind of people may get licences, that seems to have very little to do with the case. Does it not stand to reason that dangers of that kind are much more likely to occur if this proposal is not adopted?—because very naturally a sharp eye would be kept on these people, and they would do nothing likely to forfeit their licences. Therefore the scandals of which the right rev. Prelate complains are much more likely to disappear than to increase.

May I again remind the House that what noble Lords are asked to do is vote on the principle of the Bill? And the principle of the Bill is, I think, clear to everybody. It is quite plain, as I have already said, that even if I am lucky enough to get a Second Reading, it will be practically impossible for the Bill to make any further progress, because the Government are going to oppose it, but that is no reason why noble Lords should

Resolved in the affirmative, accordingly, and Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.