HL Deb 01 August 1966 vol 276 cc1080-2

3.10 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, this is a major Bill in the Parliamentary Session, and in asking the House to take it formally, I hope that no noble Lord will think that we are paying too scant attention to it. As the House will know, we are now entering the second day of our broad economic debate, and on Monday next we shall have the opportunity of considering the selective employment tax and the question of premiums. With those few words, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.

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


My Lords, without wishing to retard the business of the House, I rise just to augment the official record of this unprecedented proceeding. I have attended discussions in this House on the Finance Bill for a great number of years, perhaps longer than anyone else present. We have had economic debates and we have had discussions on the Finance Bill, but surely it is a most unusual procedure to have an economic debate following immediately after the passage of the Finance Bill, as it is proposed to do to-day.

There is a second point I wish to make, and I am sure in this I shall get the support of many noble Lords on the other side of the House. I am no prude, but I wish to express regret at the inadequacy of this Bill in regard to taxation of indoor gambling, such as roulette, "chemmy", et cetera. It is regrettable that this has received legislation on the scale it has. I recently saw in a newspaper printed in Bradford—a city which I formerly had the privilege of representing in another place—two whole pages displaying pictures of gambling. Noble Lords with good eyesight may be the better-informed when, with your Lordships' indulgence, I present the picture I am referring to. The scenes depicted are surely a novelty in our country. I feel that this legalisation of such gambling is demoralising.

I am not suggesting on these two points that there should by conventional procedure have been a repetition in this House of the event in 1909, nor am I suggesting that it would have been preferable for your Lordships to have talked into the small hours of Friday morning in relation to the time which will be taken on the debate to-day. I have made my two points, and I thank your Lordships for your indulgence. I shall, of course, give my support to the Second Reading of the Bill.


My Lords, I would apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, if, by taking this Bill relatively formally, he has been denied the opportunity of debating any particular taxing point within the Bill, which of course he is entitled to do. I think the noble Lord would agree that the usual custom in this House is to have a broad economic debate on the passage of the Finance Bill, and this is what we have arranged. In regard to betting, I am not sure where the responsibility for the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act lies. It certainly did not go through this House when we were governing. I think it is fair to say that very few people really appreciated what that Act was going to do. Whether it can be changed will depend upon the will of the country to reject what I believe is an increasing curse, because it undermines all things that are good and proper. Lord Barnby must recognise that even within the last twelve months there were pressures in this House, and this Party was defeated in its opposition to the spread of yet another field of gambling.


My Lords, there is a distinction between indoor gambling and betting on racing.


I am not sure whether there is any distinction at all. We have a great responsibility. If we could change the situation, I should like to see it changed, but I think that this is a matter on which the country as a whole has to express itself, and I hope the country will, so that we may do something about what I personally believe is a great evil.

On Question, Bill read 2a; Committee negatived.

Then, Standing Order No. 41 having been suspended (pursuant to Resolution):


My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be now read a third time.

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


My Lords, I hope that in taking the Finance Bill in this particular way it will not be taken as a precedent, because although this House has no right to vote on any question of fiscal taxation, at the same time it has a certain amount of wisdom and advice which it can offer. I hope that in future years this will not be taken as a precedent.

On Question, Bill read 3a, and passed.