§ 2.47 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ LORD BLYTON
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. The main purpose of this Bill is to require off-course bookmakers to obtain the authority of the promoters of any sports event, except horse racing, before making a book or operating a pool, if the results of the event are to be used by way of business for betting purposes. I should explain that at the present time a bookmaker can make a book on any sport, except horse racing, without making any contribution to the sport involved. So far as horse racing is 7 concerned, bookmakers pay a statutory levy based on profits, so obviously a dual system of horse racing cannot be established.
Pool promoters can, without the authority of the promoters, operate a pool on any sport except horse racing and greyhound racing, in the case of which permission must be sought under existing statutory provisions. A literary copyright fee must also be paid by bookmakers and pools promoters who use football results. In addition to excluding horse racing, the provisions of the Bill will not apply to bookmakers operating at licensed tracks or to betting operations using a Totalisator at grey-hound race meetings. There are already statutory provisions for bookmakers to operate at licensed tracks and for a Totalisator to be operated.
Parliament has seen fit to give to the horse-racing and greyhound-racing interests a proprietary right in the use of the Totalisator odds when used by any person for bookmaking purposes, and has also given to them the sole right to authorise a pool to be operated at their sports. This Bill would extend the principle of proprietary right to all sporting events except horse racing. Betting shops do not make any contribution to sports such as golf, lawn tennis, cricket, greyhound racing and others the results of which they use for betting purposes, except when using Totalisator odds on the greyhound course. The Bill is therefore designed to ensure that bookmakers should seek the consent of the promoters of any sport before they can operate a book.
Promoters of sports incur considerable expense in the promotion of their events and it is quite unfair to find that the result of their efforts, whether it be the lawn tennis championships or greyhound racing, is used by someone else for business purposes with complete disregard for the promoters. If it is right for horse racing to bear a levy—and I have no objection to that—then in justice it must be right for the promoters of all sporting events in the country to seek an equivalent contribution from the bookmakers.
My Lords, it is well known that bookmakers make a book on cricket, golf, rugby and many other sports, and I can say to your Lordships categorically that 8 legal sporting bodies are in favour of the principles of this Bill. I have received a letter signed by the Secretaries of the British Cycling Federation, the Lawn Tennis Association, Marylebone Cricket Club, the National Greyhound Society, the Rugby Football League and the Rugby Football Union expressing their consent to this Bill. The letter is in the following terms:The aims and principles of the Sporting Events (Betting) Bill which seeks to give promoters of sporting events a proprietary right in the use of results of such events when employed by other persons for betting purposes have our full support.The letter goes on:We trust that Parliament may find it possible to enact this legislation. Its effect would be to vest in the promoters of sporting events control over the use of the results of those events by persons seeking to make a business from them, and we believe the establishment of such authority to be both desirable and justifiable. It would not, of course, be our intention to place any impediment in the way of the Press or broadcasting authorities from reporting these results in the normal way.I may say, my Lords, that in promoting this Bill I have no financial interest at all in any of the sports.
I know that in 1956 Parliament tried to untangle the law of copyright. It has been said that this Bill seeks to extend the copyright provisions with regard to the use of sporting events for other purposes. First, I would state that this Bill is not concerned with copyright law as defined in the Copyright Act 1956. It is designed solely to extend the principle of proprietary right as now exists in the 1963 Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act in the use of results when such results are used for betting purposes in a big way of business. The Betting and Gaming Act 1960 first gave to the horse and greyhound racing operators a proprietary right in the use of their Totalisator odds for betting purposes. Parliament did so at that time because it felt that the Totalisator is a mechanical device maintained by those interests and, as such, the prices so recorded by the Totalisator should belong to the operators.
My Lords, I should like to emphasise that in this Bill no bar will be placed in the way of the Press and broadcasting media from publishing these results as hitherto, and they will not have to seek the consent of the promoters to do so. 9 While one cannot foresee how the promoters of the various sporting events will carry out the provisions of this Bill, if it is approved by Parliament, I think that a parallel may be drawn between this new proprietary right and that now being exercised with regard to the use of Totalisator odds. There is every indication that the licence to bookmakers will be subject to negotiations between the respective interests involved. If a promoter does not wish for bookmaking to take place on his results off the course it is up to him to say so, but I anticipate that most promoters will endeavour to come to some form of satisfactory arrangement with the bookmaking interests.
It may be of interest to your Lordships to know that at the present time bookmakers pay a fee to the horse-racing interests for the use of their horse-racing commentary, and this totals about £40,000 per annum. An amount of £170,000 is paid to the greyhound-racing interests for the use of their Totalisator odds. These may appear to be large sums, but they are quite small when one realises that an annual fee of £50 covers all the horse racing in the country and there are some 6,000 races per annum. An annual sum of £50 in London and the South-East and £20 per annum elsewhere covers greyhound racing, and there are about 50,000 greyhound races each year. The fees which the horse and greyhound racing promoters charge the bookmakers are not heavy having regard to the scale of the enterprises involved. If a bookmaker cannot pay the required sum he can make a book on some other event or, indeed, he ought not to be in business.
I am quite sure that on this matter many people will agree with me that there are far too many betting offices. The number is much too large for this country and if they are to operate they should pay their dues to the respective sports out of which they make their living. The enforcement of the rights to be given to sporting promoters will be secured through the civil courts as is the position at present concerning proprietary rights in the use of Totalisator prices.
It may be said by some that to confer on independent bodies an uncontrolled right to regulate betting and raise revenue from it should required Government approval. This is not so, and there is 10 no intention in this Bill to regulate betting which is already controlled by the 1963 Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act. All that is sought to be done by my Bill is to ensure that those people who make a living out of the efforts of others who promote various sporting events should make a contribution of an agreed amount to the promoters. At the present time the Government do not object to revenue being raised by the Racecourses Association or to the substantial amount they receive each year from the horse-race commentary scheme. All betting and gaming is now subject to a general betting duty, and here I feel that the Government should be careful about the way they approach the problem. I am certain that all the betting interests in this country can well bear the present rate of 2½ per cent. It is, however, open to question whether on-the-course interests who provide a market for off-course bookmakers could hear much increase beyond the 2½ per cent. and there is a strong case for the Government considering an off-course tax and whether it should be increased, as in Eire.
The Bill will not diminish the present tax yield, having regard to the large amount of tax so far received, which is greatly in excess of the estimate that the Chancellor made last year. The major proportion of the general betting duty obviously comes from horse racing, which, as I have previously said, is not provided for in the Bill. It is, if I may say so, the other sports which do not provide the greater amount of duty which this Bill would cover. Obviously there is a case for treating all sports alike when it comes to a question of statutory levies. The Government cannot say that horse racing has any special position vis-à-vis other sports in this country, and I believe that they should be treated in the same way when it comes to this particular issue. I hope that the principles of the Bill will commend themselves to the House. I am only seeking fair play for all sports in this country, and it is on that basis that I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.
§ Moved. That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Blyton.)
§ 3.2 p.m.
§ LORD WILLIS
My Lords, I think the whole House will be grateful to my noble 11 friend Lord Blyton for bringing this matter to our attention and for the fair and reasonable speech he has made in support of the Bill he is putting before your Lordships. We all know that he has been a doughty fighter for freedom over the years, and it seems fair and reasonable, and logical, to suggest, as he is suggesting in this Bill, that sports other than horse racing and dog racing should reap some benefit from the amount of betting that takes place on them. I think that all our sympathy will go towards the general idea. But I am rising to oppose this Bill—and there is nobody I would sooner not oppose than my noble friend Lord Blyton—because I believe that in one respect this Bill is dangerous, and, secondly, that it only nibbles at what is a much more fundamental problem.
I believe that the effect of the Bill in operation would be to put a tremendous power in the hands of the big betting interests, as against the smaller bookmakers and betting interests. The result would be that large sums of money and large profits would be at stake. Since the introduction of the Betting and Gaming Act 1963 we have seen that where big and easy money is available the big interests move in, and after them come the gangsters, the Mafia and these other types. Because of this, I am against the Bill. I am also against the Bill because I believe that Parliament needs to make a fundamental review of the situation of our gaming laws and not nibble at them, indeed, I believe that the present Home Secretary is considering such a review. There is no doubt that there is deep disquiet in the country about the huge interests that are making hay out of the laws that were passed in 1963. The police are frantically trying to hold the dyke against the flood—but deporting one ageing American film star is not enough: we must make it unprofitable for the people of whom I speak to come here. That means a review and change of the entire law.
We have heard that London is a "swinging city". We all know now that it is a dirty city. If we have achieved rationalisation in nothing else, we have achieved it in vice and gambling. It is now a highly efficient and organised operation, and where there is easy money, the mobsters and racketeers flow in like 12 rats. I do not think that my noble friend's Bill would materially affect this situation, though it would affect it in some degree: it would create an opportunity for big money interests to move in on certain sporting events. The people who have written to my noble friend do not quite realise what they are in for when they ask that they should have the power to give the big money interests the right to organise betting on the sporting events they promote. As I have said, this is highly dangerous.
We had a first-class debate in your Lordships' House some months ago on a Motion introduced by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chester, and on that occasion a number of suggestions were put before the Government. I believe that these suggestions were urgent, and I hope that the Government are considering them actively, because the situation in London is one in which the police, though they have all the information, are almost powerless to act, and the situation is deteriorating weekly and daily. In these circumstances, I would express sympathy with my noble friend Lord Blyton, but I suggest that this is an issue that needs to come up as a much more fundamental review of the whole of our betting and gaming laws.
§ 3.7 p.m.
§ LORD VIVIAN
My Lords, as this is the first occasion on which I have had the honour of addressing your Lordships I will crave your indulgence. I am glad to know that it is always graciously given to a maiden speaker. I do not intend to take up more than eight minutes of your Lordships' time, for I am fully aware that there is important business to be discussed in your Lordships' House to-day.
Before turning to the Sporting Events (Betting) Bill, the Second Reading of which has been so ably moved by the noble Lord, Lord Blyton, I hope that noble Lords and noble Baronesses in the House at the present time will allow me to make an apology. I have found nothing set out in Standing Orders which can prevent me from doing so, and I shall take it that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor and the noble Earl the Leader of the House, Lord Longford, will allow me to proceed. As a Back-Bencher in your Lordships' House, I should like to offer my humble apologies to the noble and learned Lord 13 the Lord Chancellor, to the noble Earl the Leader of the House, to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, the Leader of the Opposition, and to the Opposition Chief Whip, the noble Earl, Lord St. Aldwyn, and to all noble Lords and noble Baronesses, for the fact that, though I took my seat on the first occasion some three months prior to Her Majesty's Coronation, I have been unable to attend any sitting until some eight months ago. Since then, I have been a regular attender in your Lordships' House.
The reasons for my absence are simple and straightforward. For some 36 years I worked in the theatre. First, it was on the management side, and later I presented plays and big musicals with the greatest showman we have ever had the good fortune to know in this country. I refer to the late Sir Charles Cochran. After his tragic death I continued as an impresario on my own and presented straight plays and musicals. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Strange, who has also been an impresario and the noble Lord, Lord Snow, the distinguished dramatist and author, would agree with me when I say that the world of the theatre is a whole-time job. This, together with the fact that at a later date I personally directed two restaurants and managed one other, made it quite impossible to attend your Lordships' House.
As an hereditary Peer, my considered opinion is that Peers, hereditary-wise or life-wise, should attend fairly regularly, or not at all. Perhaps your Lordships will allow me to remark that, having asked for my leave of absence, after working in the Merchant Navy for nearly two years on the catering side, and personally directing one other restaurant in London for just over a year, to be withdrawn I now find myself in the honoured position of being able to attend your Lordships' House regularly.
After eight months, my impression is that in the House of Lords noble Lords have the greatest show on in London to-day. I have had the privilege to witness a great deal of hard work being done in the interests of the nation by life and hereditary Peers. I have been deeply impressed by the way in which great humanitarian issues are being so ably dealt with by many noble Ladies. I repeat that I feel very privileged to be a Member 14 of your Lordships' House, and I can assure noble Lords, who work so hard in the interests of the nation as a whole, that I shall take part in debates from time to time. Furthermore, I will make two promises: that I will never speak for more than 15 minutes on any occasion, and then only when I feel that I am qualified to do so.
To return to the Sporting Events (Betting) Bill, which I sincerely hope will have the support of the House, the noble Lord, Lord Blyton, has pointed out that it is a simple and clearly drafted Bill. Its main purpose is to protect and aid sport and sport promoters. With the upsurge of betting in this country, as a humble Back Bencher I suggest that it is a Bill which deserves the support of your Lordships. Already Parliament has given to the horse and greyhound interests a proprietary right in the use of their Totalisator odds when used by any person for bookmaking purposes; and further, has given them the sole right to authorise a pool to be operated on their sports. This Bill seeks to extend the principle of proprietary right in the use of the results of sporting events.
The noble Lord, Lord Blyton, has explained that he is moving the Second Reading of this Bill in your Lordships' House so that bookmakers, and others who make a living out of the efforts of sports promoters, should make an agreed contribution to them. This, in effect, will make it possible for the sports promoters to recover some of the considerable expense incurred in staging promotions. The Bill will tidy up some of our betting laws, such as the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963, which consolidates the provisional Betting and Gaming Act 1960, and the Betting Levy Act 1961. Following some inquiries, I can assure your Lordships that, exactly as the noble Lord, Lord Blyton, stated a few minutes ago, this Bill has the support of the Marylebone Cricket Club and the Rugby Union, and it is welcomed by the National Greyhound Racing Association, the Lawn Tennis Association and by athletic organisations throughout the country.
In winding up my maiden speech, may I say that, after attending your Lordships' House for some three months, I went to the starting gate prepared to make a maiden speech on three occasions. However, I was bumped by two "fillies" on 15 two occasions and on the other occasion by a noble "horse". I wish that my maiden speech could in some small way have approached the magnitude of that made by the noble Lord, Lord Westwood, on life and conditions in Rhodesia. The other maiden speeches to which I should like to refer are the very humane and helpful one delivered by the noble Baroness, Lady Hylton-Foster, on the important subject of the care of the young with regard to mental health; and, secondly, the moving speech made by the noble Baroness, Lady Serota, on the welfare of illegitimate children.
So, my Lords, with my Celtic blood coursing through my veins at a rate of knots, I will once again take my seat as a Back Bencher, without removing my "L" plates. However, before doing so I, like other noble Lords, would wish to thank the noble Lord, Lord Blyton, for the concise manner in which he has spoken on this Bill. It is my hope that your Lordships will agree on the Bill, and thereby enable it to be made law in six months' time.
§ 3.17 p.m.
§ LORD MANCROFT
My Lords, before I offer a few words of restrained pessimism by way of comment on the Bill of the noble Lord, Lord Blyton, I know that your Lordships would wish to join me in offering our congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Vivian, on his charming and unusual maiden speech. The noble Lord apologised to us for the fact that it is nearly 27 years since he took his seat. There was no need, I assure him, for him to apologise. Over 75 Members of your Lordships' House have been in the House for over 27 years without breaking silence. The noble Marquess, Lord Cholmondeley, one of our most distinguished parliamentarians, took, I think, 32 years before he decided to address your Lordships. Then, again, in the 18th century, a certain Lord Macdonald, of whom I am unable to obtain any other information, waited 39 years before he made his maiden speech. He sprang to his feet, forgot what he had wanted to say, and wisely resumed his seat.
Some years ago, when staying in Ceylon with my noble friend Lord Soulbury, who was then the Governor General of 16 that delightful island, we were regaled after dinner by Mr. Senanayake, the Prime Minister, with the tale of a distinguished holy man who had sat for 50 years in silence under a pepper tree outside Candy. Towards the end of the 50th year of his silence he made it evident to his friends, supporters and disciples that he proposed to break that silence; and his friends and supporters gathered round under the pepper tree waiting for some revelation of the mystical ways of life that had occurred to the holy man during his 50 years of silence. Slightly to their surprise, all he did was to remark to those gathered under the pepper tree, in a slightly petulant voice, that he was getting sick and tired of the smell of pepper.
I assure the noble Lord, Lord Vivian, that there was no need for him to have apologised for waiting 27 years to address your Lordships. But he must promise us that it will not be a further 27 years before he addresses us again, because that will be 1994, about the year, I should have thought, that the noble Lord, Lord Blyton, stands the faintest chance of getting his Bill on to the Statute Book.
I admire Lord Blyton's courage, and I congratulate him on the clarity with which he has put his points before us. But the trouble is that this is a matter, as the noble Lord, Lord Willis, pointed out, which should be dealt with wholesale and not piecemeal, so important is it. The noble Lord's Bill is, alas! full of loopholes. He has tried his best and he has given us an interpretation clause. He has tried to define "promoter"; he has tried to define a "sporting event"; and he has tried to tell us what he thinks a "track" may be. But has he for instance, considered one of the principal fields of gambling at the moment; namely, gambling on elections and by-elections? I won a little money, I am glad to say, on the Pollok by-election. I am therefore happy to see that the Bill applies to Scotland, though not to Northern Ireland. But who in this case is the promoter? Was that the Leader of the House in another place? Is a by-election really a sporting event? I ask, my Lords, not for any academic reason but solely because I have a little money at stake upon the current election for the leadership of the Liberal Peers in 17 your Lordships' House. Is this a sporting event? Is the noble Lord, Lord Amulree, their Chief Whip, to be regarded as the promoter and, if it is not lese-majesty, is the Liberal Front Bench a track? If so, Gladstone is whirling in his grave and thirty bob of my stake money is in peril.
This is a difficult matter. I support what the noble Lord, Lord Blyton, has in mind because what he is trying to do is to rationalise the influence of the bookmakers on sport and on society in general. Here, I endorse what has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Willis. Your Lordships will remember the debate which was opened last May by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chester, whom I am glad to see in his place to-day, and who made a significant contribution. He pointed out—and we all endorsed what he had to say—that since the Act of 1963 something has happened which none of us had intended. We are all to blame for what has happened, on all sides of the House. We had hoped to rationalise the gambling instinct in this country by sweeping it out from under the carpet into the open. We were frightened of the amount of corruption that was arising from street betting, bookies' runners and corrupted young policemen, and we thought we were doing right, but we now discover that we have gone too far. We were anxious enough last May, but since then things have gone from bad to worse.
The noble Lord, Lord Willis, drew attention to the case of Mr. George Raft. I know nothing of the pros and cons of that, save that he appears to have been treated in a cavalier fashion. But it is bad enough that these things should happen and that people should be puzzled about them, and that it should appear that something is going on which we do not know about.
I should like to try to put an Amendment into the noble Lord's Bill. It is going to be difficult, but that will not stop me. I pleaded then, during our previous debate, for the abolition of the bookmaker and for a Tote monopoly, the nationalisation of bookmaking. It struck me as being odd that I should ever stand up in your Lordships' House and propose the nationalisation of anything. I will not weary your Lordships by repeating what I said in my previous 18 speech, admirable, lucid and high-minded though it was. Other countries are laughing, and it was as Lord Willis says, they are sneering at us: they are sneering at us for allowing gaming and betting to become almost a national disease; they are laughing at us for not taking advantage of what is being done in other countries, particularly France, where the nationalisation of betting has resulted in immense benefit to the racing industry, which is as financially important to France as it is to us, to the breeders, the horse owners, the race-course owners, the public, the Exchequer, all of whom profit immensely more in France and other countries than they do here. Most of all the departure of the bookie would be a great advantage to the chief constables. I know of no chief constable who would not favour the abolition of the bookmaker and the substitution of the Tote monopoly.
I am not suggesting for a moment that all bookmakers are criminals. That would be a wrong and wicked thing to say, but I suggest that criminals cannot exist without the bookmaking system. I know of no chief constable who would not favour this. I do not want to deprive bookmakers of their livelihood. The simple method is to nationalise the betting offices and put the bookmakers' staff in to run the Tote monopoly. I could not help noticing that on the day on which I received my copy of Lord Blyton's Bill, there were five cases reported in The Times of people who were up for trial for crimes which could be traced and attributed directly to the bookmaking fraternity or to uncontrolled betting.
Therefore I say to the noble Lord, Lord Blyton, that I approve strongly of what he is trying to do, but I do not think he will achieve it. If he likes to withdraw his Bill and re-draft it so that we could have the Tote monopoly, which I believe everybody in this country, with one exception, wants, then I would wholeheartedly support it. I appreciate all that the noble Lord, Lord Blyton, is trying to do. I do not think he will achieve it. I share his anxiety and that of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chester and your Lordships who also supported him, that gambling in this country is becoming an almost uncontrollable disease and that the sooner 19 we pull ourselves together and try to control it, the better. This Bill, alas! will not do that. I cannot support the noble Lord's Bill, although I support his efforts. I therefore encourage him to re-draft it and to bring forward a Bill to nationalise the bookies and substitute the Tote monopoly. I am quite certain that he will have support from everybody who matters, save one body of people which need not worry him.
The noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, is to reply—why not the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, I wonder. Not that I am complaining for one moment about the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips: she could charm a bird off a tree and then sell the tree back to the bird, and at a profit. But why is the Home Office not replying on this occasion? Are they ashamed of the line they last took?
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, is aware of the reasons why my noble friend Lord Stonham is not replying. I will not develop it now, but the noble Lord should be aware of the reason, and therefore it has nothing to do with the Home Office. I think I ought to correct the noble Lord on this matter before he goes too far.
§ LORD MANCROFT
My Lords, if it is due to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, not being fully restored to health, then I apologise and withdraw. If that is the case, I fully understand, but I was not so informed.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, I should not like it to be on record that my noble friend Lord Stonham has not been restored to good health, but as the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, knows, in cricket it is nice to be able to play oneself in and then one can make a good score.
§ LORD MANCROFT
My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, sought to restore himself to health by taking a Cunard cruise, I see what the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, is getting at and again I approve entirely.
When the noble Lord, Lord Stonham made the admirable speech in winding up the debate on betting some nine months ago, I thought he was a little lukewarm to my suggestion that there should be nationalisation of the bookies. Now the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, 20 can redeem the situation because I believe she appreciates, as does the Home Office, that the climate of public opinion has changed sharply in this matter. I believe that the view of the Home Office has changed, too, and I hope we shall have some word of encouragement that the time has now come to reconsider this matter in more positive terms than Her Majesty's Government used in concluding that debate of nine months ago. There is nothing wrong in changing one's mind. Her Majesty's Government have changed their minds on almost everything of importance in the last two and a half years. We are all getting used to it. Let them change their mind on this one and come back to the full nationalisation. They will have the support of everybody that matters, save, as I have said, one body, and one only, and that of course is the bookmakers. If I can give the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, one word of comfort in that respect, I have a sneaking suspicion that nearly all bookmakers vote Tory.
§ 3.39 p.m.
§ LORD ARWYN
My Lords, I do not think anyone will envy my position in following the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft. I cannot measure my puny skill against his, but what I have to say is nevertheless sincere, and I hope that I may have your Lordships' attention for a few minutes. I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Blyton for introducing this Bill. There may be many technical repercussions—and we have had a catalogue of them—but the idea is absolutely sound and the principle is long overdue. I should like to identify myself with an observation made by my noble friend Lord Blyton, some time before he decided to sponsor this Bill, when he said it was unfair that bookmakers can make a book on any sport except horse racing without making any contribution to the sport involved. That is the principle. The promoters sow, and the bookmakers benefit from the harvest without making any more direct contribution than the cost of transport to the course or sports ground. Given the wonderful insight which bookies have, I cannot understand why they have not gone into other kinds of sport in a far greater way than they have done. 21 I remember my first point-to-point race, I discovered that I could ride. There was one bookie on the course, and he came from Llanelly—a great many wise people come from Llanelly. I was five to four on and I did not know what five to four was. I won the race. I went to the bookie afterwards and asked him: "How did you know I was going to win this race?" He said: "I knew you had a good horse. Also you had bandy legs and the look of a hungry sparrow, and those are the main factors in picking winners." It is impossible to put that into a tote. I am taking issue with the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, here. We can assess our bookies and do something about controlling their misdemeanours.
I am quite at one with the noble Lord, Lord Willis, who has pointed out the dangers, but surely the matter is not beyond our control. What more fun can you get on the racecourse than watching the bookies and tick-tack men? I think it is time I declared an interest, because I lack interest in betting; I have never had much to do with it. My main obsession is with developing sport. I feel sure that we are heading towards a point when we shall have to have a Ministry of Recreation. In the meantime, sport of various kinds can be developed by people like bookmakers, and I would recommend one which is a far more dangerous and hazardous sport than horse racing; that is, sailing a catamaran or dinghy. There is a tremendous field there. We have a duty to our youth, and in the absence of war, for which I thank God, we have to train men to take up dangerous sport in order to prove themselves and to improve the calibre of our nation which will need to be renewed from time to time as we go on.
Last Saturday I went to see Wales being defeated by Ireland, and the noble Lord, Lord Wakefield of Kendal, would sympathise with the Welsh. I was on the border of tears. I have myself played scrum-half many times. I found there was a book, quite a considerable book, on that match. It was not only whether Wales would beat Ireland, or Ireland would heat Wales, but by how many points. There were two hooks running. The Welsh Rugby Union did not benefit by one penny. We could have benefited by allowing betting facilities on the ground if the contributions were used to improve the 22 stands and pitch. These are the principles on which my noble friend Lord Blyton has based this Bill. We must get contributions which at present are flowing into the pockets of bookmakers. Perhaps I had better conclude, because time is going on. If I can give any support to the principles of this Bill I shall do so wholeheartedly, in the hope that it will lead to other Bills which will achieve all that my noble friend Lord Blyton has attempted to do in this Bill.