HL Deb 02 June 1960 vol 224 cc305-27

2.38 p.m.

Order of the Day for the House to be put again into Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD MERTHYR in the Chair.]

Clause 4 [Betting office licences and betting agency permits]:

LORD DOUGLAS OF BARLOCH moved after subsection (2) to insert: ("( ) A betting office licence shall be granted only to the person who is in actual control of the premises.")

The noble Lord said: The point which is at issue here has already been adumbrated to some extent in the discussion which took place on the question of whether licences should be granted to corporate bodies; but this is a more particular phase of the argument. It relates to the betting office licence itself. The proposal which is made in this Amendment is that the licence should be granted to the person who is in actual control of the premises. As the Bill stands, the licence might be granted to a limited company whose office might be far away from the betting office. The object of this Amendment is to ensure that the licensee shall be a person who is on the spot and has actual responsibility for seeing that the betting office is run properly.

The establishment of betting offices is a new development which the Bill intends to hedge about with certain safeguards; and it would appear that it is essential that the licence should be vested in the person who has actual control of the premises in which the betting office is situated. This has been the policy of the law for a long time with regard to public houses. The licence is granted to the person who is actually responsible for conducting the public house. That has been held to be a useful safeguard and it may well be that that particular safeguard should be adopted in regard to these betting office premises. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 4, line 29, at end insert the said subsection.—(Lord Douglas of Barloch.)


Her Majesty's Government are in agreement with the sentiment of this Amendment, which has been expressed by the noble Lord opposite, but consider that the Bill as it already stands is in accord with it. The Amendment, we feel, should not be made, first, because it is unnecessary; and, secondly, because it is not clear what exactly is meant by the noble Lord's phrase "in actual control of the premises". The intention behind the Amendment, I am sure, is that where a bookmaker owns several betting offices, the person to whom the licences should be granted should be the managers of those individual offices. The arrangement of the Bill is that the licences should be taken out by the bookmaker himself in respect of his various premises. My noble and learned friend who sits upon the Woolsack referred to this question at considerable length in his reply on Amendment 4, and he explained the reasons why the Bill will, in practice, place responsibility for the conduct of betting offices squarely on the shoulders of the employer, where we feel the responsibility should belong. I hope that in view of what my noble and learned friend said, the noble Lord opposite may see fit to withdraw his Amendment.


I confess that I am left in a state of doubt by the explanation which the noble Earl has given. He started off by saying, as I understood him, that my Amendment was unnecessary because it had already been provided for in the Bill, but he has not, in fact, explained how it is provided for in the Bill. The latter part of his observations led to an opposite conclusion: that a betting office licence could, in fact, be given, let us say, to a limited company in respect of scores of hundreds of betting offices situated all over the country. Therefore, the element of direct control and responsibility would not be there at all. If the noble Earl can satisfy me that the Bill, in fact, does provide for what I desire, I shall be only too happy to withdraw the Amendment.


I think I can assure the noble Lord on that, because, with the Committee's permission, I would re-read what my noble and learned friend who sits upon the Woolsack said with regard to Amendment No. 4 [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 244 (No. 88), col. 144]: … we consider that the best way of ensuring that betting offices are well conducted is to place the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the employer and not merely on his staff. One of the effects of the noble Lord's Amendment might be that a bookmaker could take on his staff a manager, or someone of that sort, on betting premises, and if a contravention to the law should be made it would be merely that manager who would lose his licence or be fined according to the penalties laid down in the Bill, and it could be that the bookmaker would get away scot-free. Under the Bill as it stands, the bookmaker and his staff, and somebody else for that matter, would be subject to the penalties the Bill lays down. I think I can assure the noble Lord opposite that that is so as the Bill is now written.


In view of that assurance. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 4 agreed to.

Clause 5 [Conduct of licensed betting offices]:

2.45 p.m.

LORD SPENS moved, to add to the clause: (5) If, save in a licensed betting office or in such manner as may be prescribed on premises giving access to such an office, any advertisement is published—

  1. (a) indicating that any particular premises are a licensed betting office; or
  2. (b) indicating where any such office may be found: or
  3. (c) drawing attention to the availability of, or to the facilities afforded to persons resorting to, such offices
then, in the case of an advertisement in connection with the office or offices of a particular licensee, that licensee, and in every case any person who published the advertisement, or cause or permitted to be published, shall be guilty of an offence: Provided that it shall be a defence for any person charged with an offence under this subsection to prove—
  1. (i) that he did not know and had no reasonable cause to suspect that the advertisement was, and that he had taken all reasonable steps to ascertain that it was not, such an advertisement as aforesaid; or
  2. 308
  3. (ii) if he is charged by reason only of being a licensee that the advertisement was published without his consent or connivance and that he exercised all due diligence to prevent the publishing of any such advertisement in connection with his office or offices."

The noble Lord said: This is the first of three Amendments dealing with the important and very difficult question of whether or not the new betting offices should be allowed to be advertised as the person in control of them thinks fit. This question caused a great difference of opinion on the two Royal Commissions and throughout all the stages of the Bill in another place. As the Bill stands at the present moment, there is, in the appropriate Schedule, provision which regulates what notices and advertisements may be put up in the betting offices themselves and in premises giving access to the betting offices. But apart from that, there is no limitation on, or prohibition of, any sort of advertisement by those in control of the betting offices. The result has been that a very large body of opinion is fearful lest betting offices get into the control of organisations or individuals who would be in a position to carry out a high-pressure advertisement campaign.

As I understand it, the main object of this Part of the Bill is really rather a narrow one—namely, to give facilities to those who are now indulging in illegal street betting: facilities under which they can bet legally in the new betting offices. The betting offices will come into being, will advertise themselves, and will be seen by those living and working and passing to and fro in their neighbourhood; and there is very little doubt that their institution, at any rate, during the first period when the public are full of curiosity and interest, will attract to them persons who probably have not been indulging in street betting. Therefore, it is likely that, whatever else happens, there will be a certain increase in betting arising from the mere coming into existence of these new betting offices.

But that is quite a different thing from what might happen if a really intensive advertising campaign were entered into by bookmakers or organisations in control of one or more of these betting offices. And everyone can imagine what the results of the high-pressure betting campaign might be in increasing very considerably the total amount of betting. I do not believe that that is the object of the Bill or what any except a very few individuals may want. I do not think that the majority of the people in this country think that, in curing this trouble over street betting, we have been dealing with a Bill which will substantially increase the amount of betting at these new betting offices.

The question is not an easy one to deal with. I think that everyone hesitates at an absolute prohibition of all advertisement and the creation of new offences if that can be avoided. The Committee will see (if I am in order in referring to future Amendments), that an attempt has been made, in an Amendment which is going to be considered by the Committee, to try to find some exception.


I am sure it will be convenient if the Committee agree, and if you approve, my Lord Chairman, that we should discuss points that are raised on all these Amendments.


I think that that would be convenient, and it would save a number of speeches which can much more concisely be included in regard to one Amendment. We who put forward this Amendment—and I am, quite frankly, speaking on behalf of the Council of Church es—have considered what possible exceptions there can be. We came to the conclusion that it was difficult to draft them without opening the door to the very evil of which we are seriously afraid.


Would the noble Lord mind my intervening? I was proposing to deal with the second and third Amendments on advertising, but I am perfectly prepared to take my stand, if he will allow me to do so, behind him, and to support his Amendment, dropping the other two entirely. That might simplify matters.


That does simplify matters, and I will not continue to refer to the other two, except to repeat that it is extremely difficult, so far as we have found, to make reasonable exceptions, however much we should like to do so. The result was, therefore, that the question really lay between making any advertising an absolute offence, without giving any defence to the bookmaker or to the controller of the betting shop, even if he knew nothing about the advertisement being inserted by other people; or, as we decided, that it should be an offence to advertise these betting offices so as to avoid this great evil, but that at the same time there ought to be a defence made available to a bookmaker or other person controlling a betting office if he had no knowledge at all of the advertisement being inserted or circulated. It is a very short point: whether your Lordships consider that there should be no prohibition at all of advertisements, or whether an attempt should be made to prevent these betting shops (which are, as I suggest, being created to cure one evil) from becoming the source of a greater evil. I beg to move.


In putting this Amendment, may I say that, as always, it may be convenient for the Committee to discuss several Amendments at one time, save that technically, of course, only one can be before the House.

Amendment moved— Page 5, line 28, at end insert the subsection.—(Lord Spens.)


I do not wish to delay the House, but I should be grateful if your Lordships would allow me, before I refer to the Amendment, to say something by way of a personal, or partly personal, explanation. I particularly regret that no Bishops were present to speak on the Second Reading of this Bill. Some of your Lordships observed the fact, and felt surprise—very naturally, since this is a Bill about which many Bishops, and I myself, have spoken frequently at the earlier stages, and one which raises obviously serious questions of social morality. For that reason I regret the absence of any Bishops on that occasion. I regret it also, if I may just say this to your Lordships, because recently we have taken rather special care to try to secure that on Bills or Motions raising questions of general wellbeing or public morality a Bishop or Bishops should be here in order to take part in the debate.

I wish to explain that it is never easy to secure the presence of Bishops unless we know a considerable time in advance when a Bill or a Motion is to come before the House. The Bishops are widely scattered all over England, and all of them, near or far, have almost all their days—morning, afternoon and evening—very heavily booked a long way ahead; and to cancel any engagement, let alone a day's engagement, may cause disappointment and frustration, not only to the Bishop but to many other people; and it may also throw absolutely into chaos the discharge of his own duties. As I have said, we have tried very hard recently—and not without some success. We did try on this occasion of the Second Reading: we approached a number of Bishops who could competently speak on this Bill. But we tried in vain. I was myself heavily engaged in Canterbury, and had not even been told that it was on on that particular day. At least I can say this: that if we failed, I have paid the penalty for it, because I have read through the whole of Tuesday's discussions and am now here in order to make this simple personal explanation. I do genuinely mean that we regret it whenever we ever thus appear to fail in our duty.

May I now be allowed to say a brief word more?—it is not irrelevant to this Amendment, and sums up all that I want to say about the whole Bill. If the Church gives general support to this Bill, as it does, it is not because—and I have to stress this—the Church in any way whatsoever supports or encourages betting or gambling. That may seem an obvious thing to say, but I have to go on saying it to a great number of people. On the contrary, the Church regards both betting and gambling with grave suspicion; if not in themselves, then because they can do great injury to the quality of social and community life, and also do great injury to many individuals. But the Church agrees that, since neither can be abolished, it is the duty of the Government to control these activities, and to do so effectively. That is the avowed purpose of the Government in this Bill, and we support wholeheartedly their general desire to provide, by means of this Bill, a better system of control, free from some of the recognised abuses of the law as it is, and not itself such as to give further encouragement to such practices.

There is, however, a difference of emphasis between the Church and the Government, which I might put like this. The Church says, "The less betting and gambling there is, the better; and we wish to see it diminished". The Government, very naturally, say something more like this, "The more betting and gambling there is, so much the worse. We do not wish to see it increased". It will be seen that there is a difference of emphasis there; and when the Government have to legislate, then a real difficulty is presented in translating their own real desires into terms of legislation which will not be such as to increase the volume of betting, or to allow additional incentives to it, or to encourage further exploitation of the betting industry. We are desirous of helping the Government in that purpose, and for that precise reason I desire to support wholeheartedly the Amendment of my noble friend—and I am particularly glad to hear the noble Lord opposite say that he is ready to make way in order that this Amendment may pass with the general agreement of those who feel as I do.

On the details of the betting business or the mechanics of this trade, I am quite incompetent to speak from any personal experience. I was happy to read that on Tuesday a number of noble Lords avowed that they had never laid a bet in their lives; and, I am happy to say, neither have I. But this Amendment requires no technical knowledge of any kind. Licensed betting offices are a new invention. They may be an improvement on the old system, or they may not: and no one can tell until they have been tried. But I would urge—and it has been urged by others—that they must be tried on their own merits, and on nothing else; and that means without advertisement. Advertisement has two purposes: either to inform or to attract, or both. As to information, there is no kind of need to tell people where the betting offices are, any more than there is a need to tell them where any other shop offering trade facilities is—and much less justification than for telling the public what it is often difficult to discover; and that is, where the post office is. In fact, if anybody wanted to know where a betting office is, he would discover it without the slightest difficulty by personal information.

The other and more general use of advertising is the desire to attract, and even entice, customers; and, as has been said, the larger and wealthier betting offices would be able to advertise more extensively and more attractively, to the harm of the smaller betting enterprises. However, there is another effect of advertising which I hope we shall never allow ourselves to forget: the way in which it pre-conditions the minds and appetites of people who see the advertisements without their knowing that it is doing this to them. There is an age limit below which one cannot go into a betting house, but if young people grow up from childhood aware, consciously or subconsciously, of the attractive advertisements for betting offices and for their wares, they will then more readily accept this social evil as part of the natural apparatus of life and will be the more predisposed and pre-conditioned to adopt the habit for themselves, without knowing its possible risks. I think that there is no getting away from the fact that that must be the result of indiscriminate advertisement of betting offices and of the wares they offer. It is precisely to avoid extending the enticement or attraction, as the Government wish to do, that I trust they will accept this Amendment readily. Certainly those for whom I can speak support it very strongly. I see no counter-argument. The Amendment is in line with the Government's intention; it strengthens the general purpose of the whole Bill, and I hope that it will command general consent.


I feel that I ought first to explain why I am not moving the Amendments that have been put down on the Marshalled List. They are, in fact, the Amendments which were put down in another place. We thought that the simplest way of raising the question of advertising was to reinstate these Amendments, which were not fully discussed in another place owing to an undertaking that was given that the whole question would be considered. When we saw the noble Lord's Amendment, my noble friends and I came to the conclusion that it was a better Amendment, which more clearly raised the issue, than our own, and we gladly withdraw ours and should like to have the discussion on the basis of the noble Lord's Amendment.

I hope that the most reverend Primate will not mind the fact that some of us who feel strongly on this matter commented on there being no Bishop on the Bishops' Benches on Second Reading and, except for the most reverend Primate himself, on the first day of the Committee stage. We welcome interventions from the Bishops' Benches, especially on moral and social problems, on which the right reverend Prelates have a peculiar and most valuable contribution to make, as we heard yesterday on the question of the registration of clubs from the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Carlisle, and as we have found on many other occasions. But, of course, all noble Lords fully understand the difficulties under which they labour, and we gladly accept the most reverend Primate's explanation. We will discharge him with a caution on this occasion, without a stain on his character.

On the Amendment itself, there may be some hesitation about not allowing bookmakers to state where they are. It may be thought that it is not sufficient for a bookmaker to have on the door of his premises or on the window his name and occupation; that customers will not be able to find their way to him and that there ought to be other means of giving them that information. I should have thought that there was something in it but for the fact that bookmakers are to be allowed to have runners, and if you want to know where the book maker is you have only to ask the milkman or the baker or, as I have said before, the postman, and one of them will be able to tell you. So, having regard to the employment of agents, I can see no need whatever why it should be necessary at all for bookmakers to advertise. The bookmaker will not be unique in this respect. I am in exactly the same position and so, for aught I know, is the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor. People who want to come to us have to find out where we are. They have various means—the telephone book, and so on. And we do not have runners to direct clients to our premises. So it is no real hardship to the bookmaker.

There is one point on the Amendment itself. The term "advertising" is not defined. I realise the difficulty of defining it, but I should certainly like it to exclude such things as advertising on television and on screens in cinemas, and other forms of advertising, as well as in the Press. Perhaps the noble and learned Viscount who is going to reply can tell us if the term "advertising" is sufficient to cover all the different types of advertising, or whether something more is needed by way of definition. Subject to that point, which I put forward with a view to strengthening the Amendment, those noble Lords who have put their names down to Amendments Nos. 15 and 16 wholeheartedly give their support to this Amendment.

3.7 p.m.


I approach this subject from an angle slightly different from that of the most reverend Primate, because I have betted on and off throughout my life, with results that have been continually disastrous, with one or two rare exceptions. I would say to your Lordships that, grievous as it may be to us, betting and gambling is indigenous in this country. It is in the blood of the British people. It always has been, and to a far greater extent than in any other nation in the world. You will never stop betting. I want to submit that in the circumstances I think that they should not be encouraged in any way to bet further. If we take France, for example, we find that the facilities for betting are, on the face of it, much greater than they are in this country. But it is not the French people who lose their money on the racecourses and in casinos; to a very large extent it is the British people who go over there in order to do it—and succeed.

I face with some apprehension the possibility that this country may be subjected to an avalanche of advertisements encouraging people to indulge in a vice (if you care to call it a vice) to which they are only too addicted without any encouragement at all. If we add bookmakers' advertisements to pool advertisements and, as the noble Lord said, put them on the television screen and on the cinemas, this country as a result of this Bill may be subject to a torrent of advertisement encouraging people to bet even more than they do. Therefore, reluctantly, because it is alien to my natural disposition to take a severe view of any subject, I should like to say to the noble and learned Viscount that even I face with some apprehension the prospect of a torrent of advertisements encouraging people to bet, and I hope that he will bear this in mind.


I hope the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, will allow me to support him on this point. While asking the noble and learned Viscount to give thorough consideration to these sentiments, I should like to express some fear about the draftsmanship of the Amendment. I tried to draft a clause much on the same lines as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Spens, and I had to give it up as I found in my draft nothing that was foolproof. The fact that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Spens, has drafted a clause, and several noble Lords opposite have had a long and complicated shot at hitting this target, worries me a little, because it may turn out like this—and I have taken the opportunity of voicing these fears before: that we find produced on the Statute Book something through which an ingenious man will drive a coach-and-four in about ten minutes. I hope that the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor will be able to accept at least the spirit of the Amendments, with which I entirely agree; but I hope, too, that he can assure us that when the draftsman gets his more skilled pen to work he will be able to produce something that is workable and foolproof and will not be circumvented and broken five minutes after it has passed into law.


May I first of all add a word to what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, about the words that fell from the most reverend Primate? I should like to add my full acceptance of what he said about the absence of himself and his brethren, and also to say how greatly we in this House have benefited from the assistance given by the Episcopal Benches on a great many subjects of social reform that we have discussed in the last few months. We are very glad indeed to see the most reverend Primate here this afternoon.

I cannot remember a more unanimous collection of voices than the speeches on this Amendment. I thought that the speech of my noble friend Lord Boothby would reach its conclusion in a slightly different way. I thought from his first premise that the people of this country were so keen on betting that he would argue that it was therefore unnecessary to advertise the betting shops. That argument was implicit, if not explicit, in his speech. The only reason why I shall detain your Lordships is out of respect to the varied opinions that have been given on this matter from most responsible quarters. As my noble and learned friend Lord Spens said, it is difficult to find a matter on which there has been such a diversity of opinion. For example, there have been two Royal Commissions, and they took different views on this subject. The first one took a more severe view; and the second one I feel bound to deal with because of the respect in which I hold their conclusions.

The principle on which I approach this Bill is, indeed, a quotation from the Second Royal Commission, to which I referred on Second Reading. They said: … to interfere as little as possible with individual liberty to take part in the various forms of gambling, but to impose such restrictions as ale desirable and practical to discourage or prevent excess I think the second part of that is important in the problem before us, because the betting shops, as has been said by almost every speaker, are a new manifestation in their legal form and, therefore, we have to consider the dangers of excess in the new manifestation of a legal betting shop. If I may say a word or two as to the history, I would point out that the same difference of view was expressed in another place. On the Report stage Lord Spens' Amendment was moved from the Government side of the House, but it was strongly attacked and the Government undertook to examine the matter further.

Perhaps I might now say something about the arguments of the Royal Commission. I think the nub of the argument appears in paragraphs 440 and 441. The Royal Commission took the view that, while it may be right in exceptional circumstances to regulate the advertisement of legal business activities, restriction should not be imposed unless it can be shown that there are strong social grounds for such action. I agree with that. The Royal Commission felt that there was considerable force in the view (which applies equally to advertisements of other goods or services, for example, of alcoholic liquor) that the purpose of the betting advertisements is not to increase the total volume of betting but to draw the attention of those who wish to bet to the facilities provided and to persuade them to bet with the advertiser rather than with one of his competitors. The majority of betting advertisements fall into this category; they consist of advertisements issued by bookmakers confined to a statement of the facilities offered by the bookmaker, perhaps accompanied by an assurance of his honesty and efficiency. That is the view—and I hope I put it fairly—of the Royal Commission. I think we ought to have that in front of us when we are considering the problem. The Royal Commission did, in paragraph 442, see objection in the type of advertisement in which the advertiser attempts to encourage persons to bet by holding up the prospect of large winnings, but they doubted whether its statutory prohibition was enforceable.

There is one other practical matter to which I should draw attention. Apart from the argument of principle, there is the practical argument that bookmakers who receive bets by telephone and by post have no means, other than by advertisement, of letting the betting public who wish to place bets by these methods know of the existence of these facilities. I believe—and I think my noble and learned friend would agree—that his Amendment does not strike at that; it leaves that possible. That is one of the reasons why I think it is preferable to the other Amendments that have been put forward. The limited object of my noble and learned friend's Amendment is to forbid the advertisement of the facilities of licensed betting offices, and he says that these offices will cater mainly for persons who live or work in their neighbourhood. Their existence will be known to such persons without the need for advertisement, and therefore advertisement is not necessary for licensed betting offices. Nor, since the existence of betting offices will be well known, is it likely that many owners of licensed betting offices will wish to advertise them, if it is permitted to do so. Therefore, on these two points, in that my noble and learned friend's Amendment leaves the telephone and post betting permissible but deals with the licensed betting offices, I think there is no practical objection to it.

The arguments that my noble and learned friend has advanced to-day are, as he said, those of the Churches Council on Gambling and the Churches Committee for Action and Evidence on the Report of the Royal Commission. The arguments are: If licensed betting offices are established, those who wish to see them may find them by inquiry, as is the case with any other place of business. If advertising is allowed, we consider that licensees may well use the comfort, roominess, convenience and so on, of their offices, as advertising points. This might well lead to the representation of the betting office as a desirable place of resort, quite apart from its essential purpose. They say that this would be socially undesirable. They go on to say that although they … do not draw any moral distinction between the activities of small and large bookmakers, unlimited advertising by those with large capital resources, in respect of chains of offices, might well lead to that increase in betting that the Government states that it desires to avoid. These are the two arguments. They have been strongly canvassed throughout the progress of this Bill, and I have considered them very carefully with my right honourable friend. We think that this controversy should be brought to a conclusion by the acceptance of my noble and learned friend's Amendment, for the reason that I have stated.

I have mentioned the fact that we think there ought to be permission to make the necessary advertisement, in the sense of a min announcing where he carries on his business, and, in the case of those who receive bets by telephone, what is his telephone number. We think that it should be right for him to advertise the number of the telephone and the address of the office, so that clients who wish to open credit accounts can telephone or write to him at that address. My noble friend Lord Mancroft warned me about the need for the careful drafting of this Amendment. I should like to assure him that we have considered the drafting very carefully. I cannot, after my consideration, see any carriage-road through it. If my noble friend sees one opening up, even if it is only a bridle path, I hope that he will tell me about it before the Report stage.

May I draw your Lordships' attention to the form of the Amendment? Para- graph (a) forbids an advertisement which specifies that particular premises are a betting office. Paragraph (b) forbids, for example, a notice in a main street pointing the way to a betting office in a side turning. Paragraph (c) forbids an advertisement which, without mentioning any particular premises, invites the public to come to betting offices or refers to the facilities provided there. It is, however, drafted in such a way—I am sure my noble and learned friend agrees—that there is no restriction on the advertisement of facilities for telephoning or postal betting at premises which are also a licensed betting office. Your Lordships will see the point of that. That kind of advertisement has always existed, and therefore one is not extending the encouragement in that way; and I think that is right.

The saving at the beginning of the Amendment is to enable regulations to be made prescribing what may be exhibited on the outside of premises containing a licensed betting office. It is intended that there shall be a simple notice giving the name of the proprietor, and a statement of the hours when the office is open for business. Without the saving which my noble and learned friend has put in, this would be an infringement of the prohibition. I am sorry to have taken so long to announce an acquiescence, but I thought it was only fair to the Royal Commission, and to others who have taken a different view, that when the Government are departing from it—though, I am glad to say, accepting the unanimous view of the speeches in this House—that I should deal, I hope with care, with the arguments which were not accepted. I therefore advise the Committee to accept the Amendment.

3.25 p.m.


Before we pass from this Amendment, I should like to say that I think the Government have come to a most illogical decision, and I am surprised that the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, for whose logic I have great respect, should be supporting this Amendment. If you desire the end, you should desire the means. I have no interest in betting shops, and I am sorry, in a way, that they have been set up. I am not a betting man. But having gone to the trouble of producing a Bill which sets up licensed betting offices, what is the good of moving an Amendment which says that the man who is going to set up the licensed betting office, who is going to pay a considerable amount of money every year for the purpose, who is going to establish an office and who is going to build up a trade, cannot tell people where he is carrying on his office which the Bill is licensing?


May I answer the noble Lord in a single sentence? I am not by nature an austere character, but I think there are limits to the encouragement of indulgence. That is all.


I suppose I am entitled to a point of view, and my point of view is that it is all part of what the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, quite rightly referred to the other day (and, as I say, I am sorry that he has taken this point of view to-day) as the hypocrisy in British life. If we will the act, we must will the means. You set up this thing for good or for bad—personally, I think, probably for bad. But the Government set it up, and you cannot deny the man who is carrying on the business the privilege, or the necessity, of being able to tell people where he carries on business, and what he is doing there.

Exactly the same thing has taken place with regard to public-houses. It is not the brewers who suffer from all the restrictions on publicans—they can sell as much beer as they like. They advertise beer on the television. One of the reasons why these clubs about which the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, was speaking yesterday have been set up is because of the unfair restrictions on the publican. I am afraid that the same sort of thing is going to happen here. The publican in this country suffers from what Bernard Shaw used to call "middle-class morality"—which might be described by a harsher term. We are going to do exactly the same thing with these unfortunate people who are going to take out licences. They are going to suffer from our sense of morality because we do give them the sort of facilities they ought to have.

I want to explain again that I am not a betting man. I do not particularly like this organisation, but I think that when we pass Bills in this country we should be logical about it, and we should carry to the logical extreme what we are intend- ing to do. I do not think the Government are doing so. The fact that the Amendment is put down and accepted at this later stage shows that the Government itself rejected this idea originally, and have now taken it up only because of the pressure of the eloquence of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Spens, and other people who supported him.

I do not know whether any of your Lordships have seen betting shops in operation. It is perfectly easy to see them if you cross the Irish Sea by St. George's Channel. You will find them in the Republic of Ireland. Every little town has its betting shop, which may be in the main street or may not. I once went into one to see what it was like. I must say that it did not seem a den of iniquity. There was an elderly, almost completely deaf lady behind the counter with a very blunt pencil, who was taking down people's bets. There was no air of sybaritic luxury about the office whatsoever. It seemed a little business run in quite a respectable way. That is the sort of person we are going to impinge upon in this country, just as our morality throughout the ages has, to my mind, affected the ordinary licensed victualler whilst we let the brewer go scot-free. To a large extent our public-houses have suffered through the years because of that attitude. That is all I have to say. It is a highly unpopular attitude. I can see, because everybody else in the House agrees with the Government and the Opposition; but I think I ought to say it, without any personal interest in the subject.


As the noble Lord has mentioned the Government, perhaps I may deal with the point. I should just like to say this. For once I find myself in fundamental disagreement with the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, on three points. I disagree with his major premise; that when you will the end you must will the means. In this House there are three political Parties represented. I am sufficiently optimistic to believe that we all have the same ends. I should never attribute to noble Lords either in the official Opposition or in the Liberal Party any less good ends and aims than I hope I have myself. What we do disagree upon profoundly—and the health of our political life depends on our disagreeing—is as to the means by which we reach those ends; and to say that because you will the ends you will the means by which you reach them is philosophically, logically, politically and in every other way a profound fallacy.

The second point of disagreement which I have with the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, is over his suggestion of hypocrisy. I have twice stated my approach to the Bill; it happens to be that of the Royal Commission, but I think it is a perfectly reasonable one; to interfere as little as possible with individual liberty to take part in the various forms of gambling, but to impose such restrictions as are desirable and practicable to discourage or prevent excess. It is obviously a very difficult point (because so many people I respect have taken a different view) to say whether this advertising will lead to excess. It is perfectly reasonable for a Government to consider—in fact it would be authoritarian for a Government to do otherwise than consider—the different views which are advanced. That is what we have done. I think every Party would reproach the Government if it did not give full consideration to the different views which are advanced.

The third point on which I disagree profoundly with the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, is in his sneer at "middleclass morality". I happen to believe that middle-class morality is one of the most priceless possessions of a civilised people. What is sneered at as middle-class morality is, in my view, trying to hold to principles of good conduct which reasonable ordinary people agree upon; and I should like to make that quite clear. I have, as I have told the Committee, a very broad back of criticism, and most of your Lordships have at some time or another exercised the right to put some criticism on that back. But on those three points I do not care how the criticism is advanced, I shall stand by my view, and I shall contend that the course which I have recommended to your Lordships is right.


I am grateful to the noble and learned Viscount for his exposition. I may say that I was not sneering at middle-class morality—I hope that I have some of it myself. I was saying that this is an example of the so-called middle-class morality which Bernard Shaw flayed in Pygmalion. May I ask the noble and learned Viscount, if it was so important that this element should be in the Bill, why it was not in the Bill until this late stage?


I explained that. Your Lordships will forgive me if I remind the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, of what I have already said. Here was a point on which a Royal Commission 27 years ago took one view, the view that is propounded by the Amendment of the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition. We had then another Royal Commission, whose views I tried to put quite fairly (and I hope I succeeded) before the House to-day, who took the view that advertisements were proper. Those two views were argued with great vigour in another place, and, as I told your Lordships, when the same Amendment as my noble and learned friend has put down here was moved in another place there was a very wide divergence. I have been a Minister of the Crown, except when an ungrateful country did not want me, only for a period of eighteen years. Many Members of this House have been Ministers for much longer than I have; but, when you find such a divergence of opinion as that, for a Minister not to say that he is prepared to look at it and take another chance before coming to a final conclusion is certainly different from the usual view of Ministers and different from my recollection of the admirable work as a Minister which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, displayed and which I have seen myself when he was in that position. I am sure he would have given consideration to the diversity of views. That is the reason. Again the noble Lord can say what he likes—he will never say anything not acceptable to me personally; he knows that—but I am not in the least ashamed of having taken time to consider a difficult point.

3.38 p.m.


I merely want to ask the noble and learned Viscount a question. Before asking it, I would assure the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, that he does not have to cross the St. George's Channel to know what goes on in betting shops. You find them in London, and that is why I am very much opposed to them and am very much in favour of this Amendment— because it will prevent people from being attracted to them. Those who want to go to them will find out where they are. Therefore the Government is accepting a very practical Amendment to achieve what I think most of us are in favour of that is, limiting betting so far as we can, without prohibiting it.

My question is this: is the noble and learned Viscount satisfied that there is no need in the Amendment to give a definition of the word "advertise"? It seems to me that we are relying entirely on the words "any advertisement". Doe that leave any loophole? Is he satisfied that it prohibits handbills, town criers or sandwich boards? The noble and learned Viscount said that they were framing this with the greatest care so as not to leave any loophole, and on this side of the House, and I am sure on that side, we are anxious that there should be no loophole and that these betting offices should not be advertised in any way. Is it not necessary to say what we mean by advertisement, so that after the Bill reaches the Statute Book some very clever person—they are very clever people who will look at this—does not find some way of advertising his premises? Is the noble Viscount satisfied?


I am, because I think that the result which the noble Lord has in mind will be achieved more readily and more efficiently by leaving the word "advertisement" for the court to construe than by trying to give a definition by which, as we lawyers always say, "If we try to include the one, we exclude the other". I should think that this is the better way. But I am willing to look at the point again and to discuss it with my noble and learned friend Lord Spens. That is my view at the moment. I have not spoken to my noble and learned friend about it. I do not know what he thinks.


I should not like to take credit for something for which I am not responsible. The Amendment put down by my honourable friend the Member for Angus on the Report stage in another place was exactly in these words. I understood that he had the most expert assistance in the drafting of it. Naturally, I considered most carefully the Amendment before I put it down in my own name; but whereas in the old days I used to be paid large sums to draft Amendments to Bills, those are long years ago and I should not for a moment presume to call myself a Parliamentary draftsman. If the Committee accept the Amendment, it will be on the understanding that my noble and learned friend will, if necessary, reconsider it and make any verbal alterations, if any are thought necessary, at a later stage in the Bill. Subject to that, may I thank noble Lords for the support that they have given to this Amendment and, above all, my noble and learned friend and the Government for having at last come down on the right side of the fence.


May I say one word, with all respect to the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore? It is possible to embarrass us by raising issues which cannot be debated here except at great length. Certainly the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, and, I think, the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, talked about "middle-class morality" and about "hypocrisy". I think it was mentioned as involved in the situation. If there are two subjects more than any others to which the Church devotes itself, they are the fundamental question of morality and how to avoid hypocrisy. Hypocrisy was one charge which our Lord threw at the Pharisees. Any Church leader knows that he is always exposed to the same accusation, and I can assure the noble Lord that those of us who are active in the churches are constantly concerned about what is morality and what the true morality is, and are deeply concerned to avoid every suspicion of hypocrisy.

When the noble Lord says "middle-class morality", I should like to say that no church that I know of would agree on the definition of what is "middle-class morality". We all differ on such a definition; and if we got it we should be most critical of it when we had it, because there is no morality among any class of society which is not severely open to criticism. Because, in a sense, I am concerned in this Bill, I thought it my duty say that if we deal with this, doing the best we can in a most difficult task, which I concede the Government are doing, then we shall come to an agreement. But if great questions of hypocrisy and morality are raised we shall have to ask leave to talk at great length on it.


The acoustics in this Chamber are not perfect and I think the inverted commas which my noble friend put round "middle-class morality" were not understood aright. They were words used by Mr. George Bernard Shaw, and were quoted by my noble friend not necessarily as his own opinion.


Perhaps I might add, for the benefit of the most reverend Primate, that this time I was on his side.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 5, as amended, agreed to.

House resumed.

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