HL Deb 18 February 1969 vol 299 cc694-748

2.53 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. Last summer, when speaking on the Second Reading of the Gaming Bill, the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, speaking for the Government, explained that the Bill aimed at curbing the evils of uncontrolled, commercial gaming; and when gambling has previously bean discussed in your Lordships' House, as it was on a Motion moved by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chester in May, 1966, it has usually been with commercial gaming, and the age-old problems of controlling the gambling urge, that your Lordships have been concerned. By contrast, this afternoon we have before us a Bill which outlines the benefits that could be obtained from a strictly controlled, non-commercial public lottery. Therefore the reasonably familiar problems which are associated with the sort of "hard" gambling that can take place in gaming clubs, casinos and betting shops does not arise in this instance.

Although your Lordships have not recently considered the desirability, of a lottery conducted for public purposes the need to find new sources of public finance has led Members of the House of Commons to do so twice in the last twelve months. In February, 1968, the House of Commons gave a Second Reading to a Private Member's National Lottery Bill, introduced by Mr. James Tinn; and in July the Government themselves held a test of opinion in the course of the Finance Bill, to which I shall refer later. So this Bill can hardly claim to break fresh ground.

My Lords, there have been lotteries in this country, large and small, for private and public purposes since Elizabethan times. The construction of Westminster Bridge was financed by five lotteries in the 18th century, while the Sloane and Harleian Collections, which formed the nucleus of the British Museum, were purchased with the proceeds of the British Museum Lottery in 1753. All these were considered quite respectable, and I am told that sometimes even Archbishops were patrons. Nevertheless, partly because of abuses, lotteries fell into disfavour, both in Britain and the United States, in the 19th century. At the same time, growing prosperity, which resulted from industrial innovation, enabled the generation of wealth in a form which could be taxed for public purposes. So the need for lotteries as a special form of public finance diminished. Since that date, small-scale lotteries open to the public for the support of bazaars, sales of work and certain charitable or sporting activities have been restored to legality, and the conditions under which these can take place are set out in Part III of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963.

Where this Bill differs from many, if not all, of the more recent proposals is that it originates in a determined attempt by the largest local authority in Britain to expand its sources of revenue. Like many other local authorities, the Greater London Council and London boroughs (which would also benefit under this Bill) are at present chronically short of money. The G.L.C. have a statutory obligation to provide the essential local services, such as roads, housing and, through I.L.E.A., education. But in addition to these primary obligations the G.L.C., and the L.C.C. before them, have always recognised their responsibilities to support and to encourage a wide range of artistic and cultural activities, as well as to provide for recreational facilities and amenities in the nation's capital. The serious situation has now been reached where some of these activities, which are so important in the social structure of life in a large city, are in jeopardy because of lack of financial support. I thought of giving some examples here, but I have decided that it is not necessary to do so. There is a great deal of ground to cover in what I hope will be a reasonably short speech, and I believe that Members of your Lordships' House will have in their own minds many cases of where money is needed. This may be one of the few points on which there will be no argument this afternoon.

The root of the problem is that, because of the continuing economic crisis, local authorities find themselves in a financial straitjacket in which it is inevitable that the obligatory local services which they are bound to provide by Statute must take priority when decisions are made on spending—and I think that when we read the accounts to-morrow of the decisions announced this morning by the Finance Committee of the G.L.C. we shall see how true this is in the case of the Greater London Council. Therefore, as a result, those purposes to which an element of option applies are at risk of being left out.

My Lords, it is one thing in politics to recognise a problem—and I think that we have probably been on common ground in this analysis—but it is quite another to come up with a proposed solution. This, to its credit, is what the Greater London Council have done. After many months of work a scheme has been prepared for a public lottery, to be held not more frequently than once each month. The lottery would be closely supervised by the elected members and the officers of the Council, and any conscientious objections of staff would be respected. Representatives of the London Boroughs would also be invited to sit on the special lotteries committee to be established by the Council. So therefore the integrity of the administration, and the absence of any possibility of private gain—these have been two of the main traditional objections to lotteries in the past—can be discounted in this instance.

It is difficult to make an estimate of the yield, but on the basis of overseas experience the G.L.C. have calculated that it is not unrealistic to anticipate that a sum of the order of £225,000 per month (after deduction of prizes and administrative costs) could be raised by these means. Tickets might be in 10s. units, split into 2s. shares. The proceeds would be held in a "special projects fund", quite apart from the remainder of the Council's finances, which could be used only for the purposes set out in the Bill. The proposal for a lottery on these lines and the details of the scheme, have been debated by the full Council and approved on a free vote by large majorities on three occasions last year. The London Boroughs Association is also supporting the G.L.C.'s plan.

This Bill, therefore, is to give effect to the proposal which has been agreed by a majority of the G.L.C. If it is passed it will, under Clause 4(2), which is a crucial section, enable financial assistance to be granted from the special projects fund for certain specific purposes and only for these purposes. These are:

  1. (a) the support or encouragement of artistic, educational or cultural activities or 697 amenities, including the preservation or maintenance of buildings or sites of architectural, historical or other public interest;
  2. (b) the provision, maintenance or improvement of places or facilities for recreation including specialised provisions for young people or for the improvement of the visual amenity of any part of Greater London;
  3. (c) the provision, maintenance or improvement of youth, community or welfare services or for the care and upbringing of children and young persons or their education and training for citizenship.
That is the end of Clause 4(2). If I might express a purely personal hope it would be that within these limits the Council would not confine themselves only to the support of existing institutions and organisations, but would adopt a creative grants policy, seeking out and building up new and worthwhile initiatives which would be likely to benefit the people of London.

Clause 4(3) gives one other category of aim to which the Council can make grants from this special projects fund. That would also enable the Council to make a contribution for the alleviation of suffering or hardship brought about by a disaster occurring in any part of the United Kingdom. Under their present powers the G.L.C. cannot, for example, make a grant to a disaster fund such as that set up after the Lewisham train crash in 1957.

My Lords, that, in outline, is the case for the Bill, and I believe it to be a strong one. What are the objections? There seem to me to be only two tenable lines of argument against the Bill: The first is that lotteries are wrong in principle and harmful in their effects, and the second is that although lotteries are acceptable in principle and useful as an additional source of public finance, this Bill is not the right way to introduce a public lottery. Let us call these the arguments of principle and the arguments of expediency. Objections on moral grounds must of course be respected. They have been advanced with consistency over a number of years in Parliament by Members such as Sir Cyril Black. I do not want to elaborate now, partly because others who are to speak later in debate are much more qualified to do so, and partly because in my own mind I find it difficult to distinguish between a lottery that is acceptable for a charity jumble sale or church bazaar, but which is considered to be wrong when it is conducted on a larger scale, although for similarly desirable purposes. My Lords, the argument, "It's all right if it's just a little one" does not apply to civil or criminal wrongs. Breaking into the coin box of a public telephone and stealing 30s. is just as much an offence in the eyes of the law, and society as a whole, as the Great Train Robbery. There is no difference of principle, of culpability, at all The difference is only one of scale.

All noble Lords who are taking part in the debate will look forward to hearing from the Minister of State, Lord Stonham, the Government's attitude towards this Bill. It is helpful that he has offered to speak near the middle of the debate so that what he has to say can be taken into account by some noble Lords who will be speaking after him. In the two debates in the House al Commons last year the Government maintained a position of strict neutrality, although the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, who spoke from the Government Front Bench on both occasions, declared himself to be personally in favour of the principle of a national lottery. In the debate on Mr. Tinn's Private Member's Bill in February, Mr. Harold Lever said that the proposal for a national lottery was not regarded by the Government as a Party political matter. At the same time he acknowledged that there were differences of opinion within the Labour Party on the moral questions raised by lotteries. In case it should be thought that I am making a Party point, let me say at once that I am sure there are differences in all Parties, on an issue such as this. It was obvious that there would be differences, and it is right that there should be.

After a Division in the House of Commons on February 2 on the Private Member's Bill, the National Lottery Bill was given a Second Reading by 69 votes to 17. The Bill was not proceeded with because the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced later that a free vote on the subject would be held during a debate on the Finance Bill. The Government duly included a clause authorising the promotion of a national lottery in the Finance Bill. This clause was debated in July of last year, and was deleted on a free vote by 188 votes to 72. Those who voted in favour of a lottery included the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and other Treasury Ministers, the President of the Board of Trade, the Leader of the House and the Government Chief Whip. The Home Secretary was opposed and two Welsh Ministers were opposed.

During the debate the clause received a great deal of criticism on the ground that the profits of a national lottery would go into the Consolidated Fund, and that the Treasury would decide their destination. The principal speeches against the proposal were concerned at the lack of specific purposes to which the profits of a lottery would be allocated. Other points made were the risk that a Government lottery might increase gambling, and there were objections on moral and religious grounds.

Subsequent to this debate, which took place on July 1, the Home Office informed the Greater London Counci that the objections of principle seen by the House to a national lottery apply with equal force to any lottery promoted by a public authority. The Home Secretary would, therefore, feel bound to oppose any measure which the Council might introduce to enable them to raise money by this means". This reply from the Home Office does not seem to have been based on a careful reading of the debate. The heart of the G.L.C.'s proposal, as I have explained, is that the proceeds of a lottery would go into a special projects fund, which could be used only for the purposes set out in Clause 4(2) of the Bill. Thus, the main objection which was raised in the House of Commons debate—that once the proceeds of a national lottery had gone into the Consolidated Fund they might never emerge again—has disappeared. Nor is it easy to detect any differences so far as morality is concerned between a national lottery, which the Treasury had contemplated as a way of finding additional funds for national purposes, and a local government lottery, which the G.L.C. have proposed as a way of finding additional funds for local purposes. It seems to me that the moral objections on each proposal are identical.

There is one other argument, which was not put forward in another place since it would not apply to a national lottery but which might well come up in your Lordships' debate this afternoon. This is the argument that if this Bill became law, if the G.L.C. were authorised to run their own lottery, a flood of other local authorities might come forward wishing to do exactly the same and it would be undesirable to have competition in this way between the local authorities all over the country. This is a danger, but it is one which I think can be answered in two ways. The first is that under Clause 3 of the Bill the G.L.C. scheme can be joined by any other local authority that wishes to do so. Some local authorities have indicated a willingness to do this. They would join with the G.L.C. and share in the proceeds of the lottery, which would be spent in their own area. The alternative, which on balance I prefer, is that the present Bill should be treated as a test case.

If it is agreed that a public lottery is a legitimate way for local authorities to raise additional funds, the Government might consider in the next phase authorising a small number of regional lotteries. Each of these could be on the lines of the G.L.C. proposal. The Home Office could ensure that there was no undesirable competition between them in the amount of prizes offered, commission for sellers and so on, by requiring the regional lottery boards to register their schemes in conformity with a standard set of Home Office regulations. Since London is already a region and the London Boroughs would be associated with this scheme, the lottery in London could be treated in the first year as an experiment. Then, if none of the undesirable consequences that have sometimes been forecast had been detected, the Government could consider extending schemes similar to that run by the G.L.C. to the new regional authorities, when they have been established following the Redcliffe-Maud Report.

The large charities, particularly the health charities, might feel that they should share in the proceeds of a lottery. My own inclination would be against that and would be to encourage the charities to continue to base themselves on voluntary appeals. These have the advantage of closer identification with the work of the charity and can lead to participation in other ways besides contributing towards their funds. Although I appreciate that this is a point that may be argued both ways, the fact remains that the large charities are raising many millions of pounds each year —at the moment one of the cancer charities alone is raising nearly £2 million —to continue and expand the magnificent work they are doing. There is no similar success story to point to when it comes to the financing of the amenities and recreational facilities set out in Clause 4 of this Bill.

If I have one overriding hope for the debate this afternoon it is this: that your Lordships will discuss the subject with an open mind. On an emotive matter like this it is easy for any of us to convince ourselves that our own line of reasoning is the only one that is based on morality and principle. Yet no one can claim a monopoly of virtue. There are differences between the Churches, between the Parties and within the Parties, and between many thinking men and women. Some of those who in their own lives set a standard of humility and integrity that is a constant example to those whose business it is to preach have views that conflict with the terms of the proposed Amendment which will be moved in a moment.

We shall look forward to hearing from noble Lords who will speak in the debate, but I think your Lordships might be particularly interested to hear from one noble Lord who is always listened to with great respect and who unfortunately cannot be present this afternoon. The noble Lord, Lord Hunt, who is Chairman of the Parole Board and well known for his work for young people, has given me permission to quote from a letter in which he writes: I warmly support local authority lotteries to finance local community projects, which would otherwise remain unfulfilled. I am particularly concerned about the failure to realise outstanding amenities for the leisure of young people, with all that this can mean in terms of social attitudes. This Bill, and its effect in establishing precedents for other local authorities, makes excellent use of an inevitable human urge. Indeed, it will do far more good than harm". I should not be moving this Bill in support of the G.L.C's plan if I thought that the degradation and ruin that can follow from compulsive gambling was likely to be the result. Nor would I add my voice-to any proposal which I thought might lower the standard of public life. On the Opposition Benches, just as much as on the Government side of the House, we are concerned with these things. No one wants to encourage the spread of large-scale gambling in an uncontrolled way, but the fact remains that millions of decent, respectable people each week enjoy spending some part of their leisure time doing football pools and visiting bingo halls. That is the analogy to keep in mind, I would suggest, as we debate this Bill, and not the commercial exploitation of human weakness that occurs in gambling clubs, casinos and betting shops.

Why should not some part of the very substantial spending on pools be directed into a public lottery of the kind envisaged by the G.L.C.? Even if an increase of spending were to result, this would be no argument against the Bill; it would rather be a form of voluntary taxation which was accepted by the people who bought the tickets and which would, in its turn, have the effect of supporting cultural and recreational facilities that the public has repeatedly shown itself reluctant to finance out of the rates. Let us not forget that the quality of life depends at least as much upon the adequate provision of facilities and amenities of this sort as it does upon arguments about morality. I beg to move.

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

3.20 p.m.

LORD SOPER moved, as an Amendment, to leave out all the words after "That" and insert instead:

"this House, considering that the inducements to gambling are already excessive, declines to give a Second Reading to a Bill which would allow a public authority to take the lead in introducing large scale lotteries into this country, and on principles which, it' accepted, would make it impossible to deny the same opportunities to a multitude of other authorities and to charitable, cultural, welfare and sporting organisations of all kinds."

The noble Lord said: My Lord s, what I would seek to do in pressing this Amendment is to deal with two aspects of the kind to which reference has already been made, that which is a matter of principle and that which is a matter of contingency.

Let me begin by expressing the gratitude of the House for the measured and tranquil presentation of the case for the Second Reading of this Bill to which we have just listened as also for the presentation at least of some of the questions which have to be asked; and if I intend to show, or try to show, that the noble Lord has, in fact, not faced the consequences or the factors either in principle or in contingency; if it seems to me that a great deal of what happened hitherto is reminiscent of the swimming bath where most of the activity is at the shallow end, that is in no way a commendation of my own case but represents, I think, the need for an inquiry which must begin in depth.

My Lords, there is a very good case against gambling as such. It is an appeal to self-interest; it puts a premium on selfishness; it is an appeal to irrationality. Those who are preoccupied with chance are less likely to take a reasonable view of the world in which they live. It is a vast institution and in that institution there are many inducements to crime. No one would wish to dispute the fact that there is a close association between gambling and criminal activities of many descriptions. To those of us who have some experience of social matters, it would be idle to deny that gambling, as a vast institution within the community, tends to produce a great deal of unhappiness and is responsible, at least in part, for many other social evils.

I believe that those who take the Christian point of view would have in principle to deny that it can ever be a good thing to promote or to seek to promote public welfare by the use of one of the sins, particularly the one of selfishness. I accordingly invite those in this House who subscribe to the socialist case to believe that no socialist ought to subscribe to gambling, on the principle that the allocation by chance of sums of money, large or small, is the very antithesis of what a socialist ought to believe about the distribution of wealth. But I am well aware, as the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, has already stated, that there are divergences of opinion and that not all would take the view that I hold: that it would be a good thing if gambling did not exist as an institution within the community at all.

My Lords, the case against this Bill does not rest on any absolute ethic with regard to gambling. Gambling is a fact within the community, like death and taxes; and, so far as I can see, it is a fact which will remain in the community for a very long time to come. Responsible government, whether at a local or a national level, must approach this problem and deal with it rationally. It must seek to control it, recognising that gambling, whether it is inherently good or bad, is beset with many dangers and is likely if it gets out of hand, to produce many evils. It could be argued, and I wish to argue it now, that this particular Bill will tend to increase the volume of gambling which is already competing in its overall comprehensiveness in this country with Las Vegas; and if, indeed, this kind of lottery were now introduced into the community in which we live, we should have "gone bingo", so far as the opportunities and inducements to gambling are concerned.

In 1960, the Churches Council on Gambling took it upon themselves to make careful investigation as to what was likely to be the results of the extension of gambling in the betting shop and in gaming. There was a rapid increase in the total volume of gambling of all kinds. That has now flattened out; but it would. I think, be imprudent to suppose that it a further extension were now offered of gambling as an inducement, it would not be responded to in very much the same way as response was made to the introduction into the fiscal system of premium bonds. It is interesting to recollect that when the Prime Minister felt it necessary to cast some kind of virtue upon premium bonds he solicited the help of an ex-President of the World Sunday School Council—who I very much regret to say was a Methodist—to give some kind of appearance of sanctity, or at least of respectability, to that particular form of gambling. A new category of gambler was created by that process. It would seem to me to be beyond dispute that if this further inducement is offered—and if the respectability which the noble Lord has endeavoured to put on it is recognised—another new constituency will be created; and whether or not that new constituency will be as wicked in its subscription to this form of gambling as the wickedness of others, it will nevertheless be true that this particular group may start with the soft drug of national or local lotteries but may well escalate to the hard drug of more compulsive gambling.

Our community is already wide open, as no other communities, so far as I know, are wide open—and it was interesting that the noble Lord did not introduce the question of other countries and their national lotteries. It was very prudent of him, because they include national lotteries only under a system of the most careful scrutiny of other forms of gambling and the reduction of gaming clubs, as in France, to a very modest level. It is possible also for an enlightened community to make fiscal use of the Scriptural doctrine of making the wrath of man praise God. Indeed, there is in my judgment nothing inherently wrong in a country seeking to profit from the evil behaviour patterns of its citizens, or the dubious behaviour patterns of its citizens, by turning to good account financial operations which otherwise would be turned to bad account. What has to be asked here is whether a further extension of this proposition is justifiable, not only to make "the wrath of man praise God" but to cause evil to increase that grace may abound. This seems to me to be an entirely different proposition.

For centuries now, every Royal Commission, and not least the Royal Commission of 1949–51, was quite satisfied that, whatever other arguments might be made for little gambles, they were undesirable as part of the fiscal system. And, with respect, the noble Lord was wrong in his analogy of size. It is not the size of the gamble that is important; it is the fact that the gamble for a hospital or a church is locally and voluntarily undertaken, whereas the gamble that we are now considering is one that would be part of the fiscal system of the community as such. Here it seems to me is a vital question which must be faced squarely. I do not believe that it does anything but debase the fiscal system of any community when the raising of funds for genuinely good purposes is put to the hazard of private interest. I think it can be shown that the end here does not justify the means, but the means will finally determine and produce the end. I are therefore asking your Lordships to look with disfavour upon any attempt of the community, as such, through its official local or central bodies, to seek to promote good, as in Clause 3 of this Bill, to seek to teach the virtues of citizenship, out of the profits of greed. I do not believe that that is a sensible or a profitable adventure.

Now, my Lords, what of this particular Bill? It is a miserable document for a number of reasons, alike for its imprecision and for the calculated results that may follow from it. Whatever may be the virtues or vices of a rational lottery, here is a local lottery masquerading in the clothes of a national lottery. Here is an attempt on the part of the Greater London Authority to do something which, in effect, will prod ace results that roust be regarded as deleterious to the welfare of the community. I noticed in one (until last week) of the more reputable Sunday newspapers the suggestion that there is an element of spite on the part of people on this side of the House and in another place because of what happened to the old London County Council. I can, to a certain extent, understand that. The noble Lord on the Woolsack and I were appointed to aldermanic seats an the L.C.C., and almost immediately afterwards the Government of the day brought in a Bill to get rid of the L.C.C. This is, of course, a case of post hoc propter hoc, and I will not develop it. Nevertheless, it needs to be said, as the noble Lord did quite rightly say, that this is no Party measure; it has nothing to do with people of particular complexions in the new Greater London Council. It is a matter, as I see it, of whether a general principle which has been shown to be doubtful and, in my judgment, highly morally dubious can be expressed in such local terms as to make it respectable.

What is going to happen? I think, if I may say so, the noble Lord skirted cursorily over the argument as to what will be the proliferation of lotteries if a local authority such as the Greater London Council are enabled not only to promote their own lottery but to get into some kind of cahoots with other local bodies or persons for the promotion and sharing of profits. What is going to be the end of this process? The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, entertains the pious hope that we stall be sensible about it. I have never been impressed by the sense of those who are ultimately irrational in the processes of gambling. What is much more likely to happen is that other people will look at this matter with greedy eyes. And I speak as a churchman who has sinned in matters of bazaars where, as your Lordships know, the Devil generally gets at least one stall. I know very well that there is a capitalist infusion always in bazaars—and that is why we have got rid of them now. I would have nothing to do in future with the old-fashioned and, I suppose, the more or less venal sins that are committed at bazaars. But surely there is something completely hopeless in the idea that if this became a successful lottery, nobody else would want to get in on the act and muscle in on the proceeds. Of course they would. Just think, my Lords, of the multitude of sleazy operators and agents and those who will come knocking upon the doors of all kinds of organisations with good intentions and say, "We will help you to make vast sums of money". It will open the door to a whole body of nonproductive hangers-on in a community where there are too many of them now.

One could develop these arguments at greater length, but I hope that in a short speech I have, at any rate, tried to present a moral case which, if it is not regarded in absolute terms, necessarily in this particular situation will tend to provide greater inducements in a community which is already, to some extent, morally and in other ways impoverished by the vast amount of gambling, running at a turnover of £4,230 million a year. I hope that I have also been able to say something about the inadequacies of a particular Bill which opens a door very widely, is imprecisely drawn and will encourage all kinds of people, as yet unseen. This Bill is in principle dubious. This Bill is socially undesirable. This Bill is practically unworkable. I hope that your Lordships will toss it out. I beg to move.

Moved, As an Amendment to the Motion, "That the Bill be now read 2ª", to leave out all words after ("That") and insert ("this House, considering that the inducements to gambling are already excessive, declines to give a Second Reading to a Bill which would allow a public authority to take the lead in introducing large scale lotteries into this country, and on principles which, if accepted, would make it impossible to deny the same opportunities to a multitude of other authorities and to charitable, cultural, welfare and sporting organisations of all kinds.")—(Lord Soper.)

3.35 p.m.


My Lords, since the questions involved in the Amendment and in the original Motion are of general social importance, I believe that at least one of the Bishops in the Greater London area should say something from these Benches. The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, put forward his Motion with great persuasiveness: indeed, fairly recently, when we had the opportunity of a private discussion, he almost persuaded me to follow him, because I find myself with no clear mandate as regards the opinion of the Christian bodies.

I have the privilege of being the Chairman of a body called the Greater London Churches Consultative Group, which includes representatives of every Christian Church in the Greater London area. We discussed this question somewhat briefly: in fact, from the chair I thought that the discussion had better be brief, because it was quite clear we were not going to agree. The noble Lord, Lord Soper, has said that the Churches are not of one mind on this subject. Many of them hold strongly that gambling is wrong in principle, and that this G.L.C. Lotteries Bill is therefore totally wrong and should be resisted at all costs. Other Churches do not take the same view. I tested opinion in my own diocese, and I got as many opinions as the people I asked. But I was left with no mandate, and I do not even know what my brother Prelates behind me feel on this subject—though if I were betting I would make a small bet that we should differ.

As I thought about the Bill and the Amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Soper, and tried to reduce the arguments for the proposed Bill to their simplest form, it seemed to me that they were these. First of all, the people will gamble anyway, and therefore it is the duty of the State to control the extent of gambling and to divert its profits from commercial interest to public advantage. Secondly the profits of gambling could and should be used for social purposes, as this G.L.C. Bill proposes, and in this way a means which was perhaps dubious might be justified by the good end which it would achieve. The noble Lord, Lord Soper, has already said some strong words about ends and means, and I will not go over that again in principle. Admittedly, people do like a flutter, and I cannot myself believe that, unless gambling is carried to excess, it is a very wicked thing (perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Soper, and I may not be quite of one mind on that point), though there is evidence, and distressing evidence, that some people do become compulsive gamblers, and the unhappiness created for their families and those who depend upon them should be avoided at all costs.

Therefore, my Lords, I ask myself whether the State or a public authority should do anything which might encourage further gambling. Even if the State did not feel it right to prevent individuals from gambling if they wished to do so, ought the State, as it were, to encourage them in that process? And is there any reason to believe that this proposed G.L.C. lottery would, in fact, divert money from the commercial interests—from betting offices and gaming clubs? Surely, it would divert it from bingo only if the prizes were bigger. If it is to have any effect in controlling the use of the instinct to gamble, I fear very much that, in practice, they will have to raise the stakes in order to get the custom; and if they raise the stakes there will be less money available for the good purposes for which the Bill is designed.

I do not find myself very much influenced in favour of the Bill by the excellent causes for which the profits are to be used. Of course we need to spend far more money on facilities for recreation, especially for youth, on youth community or welfare services and for cultural activities and amenities. But if these matters are so important, then surely they should be paid for by the ratepayer as part of his contribution. I cannot see any justification for leaving these vital things—and I would agree with everything that the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, wrote in the letter which was quoted—to the chance of people's being sufficiently interested in a particular lottery to produce enough money at some particular time to enable a project to be carried out. I think that anybody who was planning the social amenities of the Greater London area, even with a special fund for the purpose, would find himself on very unsure ground in making a longterm plan for what recreational facilities could be afforded.

Reference was made to the tact, of which we are all well aware, that there are in church organisations for raising money some forms which come rather under the heading of gambling. I exclude, of course, those occupational hazards of the clergy of guessing the number of peas in a bottle or Blessing the weight of a cake which one does not want in order to support the funds of a bazaar. But raffles, tombolas, biagos—I myself have always set my face firmly against any of those for charitable church purposes or in any church bazaar. I believe they are totally wrong in principle. If the boiler has burst or the slates have fallen off the roof and the congregation is in difficulties to repair the boiler or to put the slates back again, it ought to give voluntarily and not try to persuade other people to give for the wrong reasons.

However this may be—and it is not a point on which everyone would take the same line as I do—it seems to me that the excellence of the objects in this Bill cannot justify the use of means which are any way dubious or doubtful. My own conclusion, therefore, is that this proposed lottery cannot be justified for its end purposes. Like any other form of gambling, it is a very inefficient way of raising money. It could be socially dangerous to some individuals; and if it is dangerous for only twenty, is it right to encourage it? For a public authority to encourage the raising of funds in this way is, I believe, if not immoral, at any rate inexpedient, and I hope that your Lordships will support the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Soper, rather than the original proposal.

3.44 p.m.


My Lords, I was sorry that the right reverend Prelate, for whom I have the greatest regard, should, after balancing rather precariously between one side and the other, have come down on the side on which he did. I myself warmly support this Bill, and if the noble Lord, Lord Soper, chooses to divide the House on his Amendment, as no doubt he will, I hope that your Lordships will defeat it. Attempts have sometimes been made to draw a distinction between gambling and lotteries, but there can be no doubt that lotteries are in fact a form of gambling, and we all recognise that there are many people who hold, deeply and sincerely, objections to gambling of any kind. I respect their scruples, but, even though I am myself, as it happens, about as completely lacking in the "gambler's itch" as any one of your Lordships could possibly be, I do not share those scruples.

Public lotteries have a highly respectable history. I have been told that there were at one time public lotteries in this country of which the Prime Minister and the Archbishop of Canterbury were two of the trustees. Whether or not that is so, we have in recent years readily adopted the system of Premium Bonds, and as between a Premium Bond, where one may hope to gain a disproportionate sum without risking anything at all, and the lottery, where one loses one's original stake but hopes to gain in the place of it a large sum—well, if morality is in question, I am not sure that the Premium Bond is not the more disreputable of the two.

Certainly State lotteries are a well-established practice in Australia, in the State of New York, in Israel and elsewhere, and I doubt whether, as a nation, we are entitled to regard ourselves as either more or less immoral than the peoples of those States. No one is obliged to take part in a lottery, and I do not think that objection to lotteries can in practice now be sustained if the arrangements for their conduct are satisfactory and if the purposes to which they are applied are good ones. The arrangements specified in this Bill are unexceptionable and the purposes are admirable.

If I may speak for a moment about one of the purposes specified in the Bill, I particularly admire the good work that the Greater London Council, and the London County Council before them, have done for many years in fostering the Arts. Since the War they have, at their own expense, or rather at that of the ratepayers, built the Royal Festival Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Hayward Gallery, and they have undertaken to provide one-half of the cost of the National Theatre building that will complete the great national centre for the Arts on the South Bank—something that will be without a rival in any capital city in the world. That is a tremendous achievement for a local authority, even for the greatest local authority in the world, and a marvellous example to others.

Apart from these great capital developments, they have subsidised drama and music on a very substantial scale. They have commissioned works of art for housing estates and for schools; they have organised those open air exhibitions of sculpture that have been one of the most appreciated features of recent years. This is work that probably we all should like to see greatly extended; but the fact is that at the present time, far from its being extended, it is being seriously constricted by the present economic situation and by the requirements of purposes for which the rates must certainly be applied as a priority. I can well understand the reluctance of the Greater London Council to apply large sums from the rates at the present time to such purposes as music and drama which are of interest only to a small minority, though a rapidly growing minority. This Bill, if it is approved, will enable them to enlarge that work.

I recollect the advice that I once heard given by the mayor of one of the metropolitan boroughs to the borough council when, for the credit of the borough, she wanted them to pass unanimously a resolution which she knew was repugnant to a few of them. What she said was: "I know that some of you disagree with this resolution but the council are going to approve it and I want it approved unanimously; so those of you who do not agree with it had better just stay away". My Lords, that is the course that I would commend to those of your Lordships who may perhaps believe that they have reasons for not wishing to support this Bill. I hope that the Amendment will be rejected and the Bill approved, without dissent.

3.51 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure that your Lordships are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, for the clarity with which he introduced his Bill, and for explaining the scheme which the Greater London Council propose to introduce, if they are given the general powers contained in the Bill. Your Lordships have also listened with interest to my noble friend Lord Soper, who in moving his Amendment to the Motion for Second Reading, with his usual, almost unparalleled, eloquence, adduced powerful arguments to indicate the serious objections of principle to the Council's proposals. Since then we have listened to a speech by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London against the Bill, and to one by the noble Lord, Lord Cottesloe, for the Bill.

These four excellent but opposed speeches have enabled your Lordships to put the Bill, as it were, in its proper context. My purpose in intervening fairly early in the debate is to inform your Lordships of the attitude of the Government to the Bill. I am speaking for the Government as a whole in recommending that the Bill should not be read a second time, and recommending your Lordships to support the Amendment proposed by my noble friend Lord Soper.

I should like first to re-state the position as it is at present in this country regarding lotteries. The existing law is contained in Part III of the Betting, Gaming, and Lotteries Act 1963, which declares all lotteries to be unlawful, subject only to certain very minor exceptions. These exceptions allow private lotteries among members of a society or people working or resident on the same premises, provided they are only advertised internally and no tickets are sent through the post. Lotteries may also be promoted for charitable, sporting or cultural objects, provided that the total value of the tickets sold does not exceed £750 and no prize exceeds £100. These provisions are based on recommendations made by the Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming, which sat between 1949 and 1951. The Commission considered that it would be undesirable for the State to make itself responsible for the provision of gambling facilities, by permitting or supporting a State lottery. They also considered that large-scale lotteries not conducted by the State were objectionable, as my noble friend Lord Soper indicated, because there would be no logical or equitable grounds for restricting the right to permit lotteries to certain selected organisations.

My Lords, you will see at once that the Royal Commission, after considering all the evidence, condemned in advance large-scale lotteries of the type now proposed by the Greater London Council in this Bill. And surely you will agree, my Lords, that the Royal Commission were right. The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, said that lotteries for public purposes have been considered respectable in the past. He said that in 1753 lotteries for public purposes were considered quite respectable. So were public hangings, but we have moved some way from those times. I was rather astonished to hear the noble Lord, Lord Cottesloe, support this point of view.

The 1949–51 Royal Commission condemned this Bill in advance after thinking about it for over two years, and I can assure your Lordships that the G.L.C. are by no means the only body which would covet this opportunity. Indeed, if we were to pass this Bill there would be no grounds on principle or consistency on which it could be denied to other local authorities, at al levels. Every great city or conurbation would demand its lotteries. And the demand would not be confined to the larger local authorities. Once the principle was conceded, it would be impossible to deny the right to promote lotteries to every county, county borough, urban district, rural district and even parish council. But that is not the end of the matter. The right could not be denied to charitable., sporting or welfare organisations of all kinds; or to those wishing to raise funds for the hospitals, medical research or any other praiseworthy and disinterested object. Indeed they would consider (with some justification) that they had a prior claim. The principle having been conceded, the way would be open to a host of lotteries, all competing against each other in the size of the prizes, or the chances, on offer.

In a great many respects the re is a difference between the British way of life and the life of most other countries. One of the things which I have never felt was attractive about many Continental countries was that there was a chap selling lottery tickets on virtually every street corner. That sort of thing might well happen in this country if this Bill becomes law.


My Lords, may I interrupt the Minister for a moment? I suppose he has in mind France, and in particular Paris. Would he not agree that in effect one is there considering a national lottery, which is desirable to some people; which is employing disabled people to sell these tickets and in that way is doing some good? It is not hard gaming because in effect quite a number of people feel sorry for these disabled and unemployed people and will often buy a lottery ticket in order to help the person selling the tickets.


My Lords, I should not have thought that was a desirable way of helping people who were handicapped: to raise a lottery in order that they might have the job of selling tickets. I should have thought that in a civilised, modern society we could have provided for unfortunates in a more satisfactory way. What I am saying is that this is a situation which could happen in this country—in our England. It is an intolerable situation.


My Lords, I hesitate to interrupt the noble Lord, but if he is moving away from the point of proliferation I must intervene. I can hardly believe that he has finished on this aspect because what he is saying bears no relation to the proposal I put forward in moving the Bill. The noble Lord says that any local authority down to a rural district council could come forward and that it would be impossible to distinguish between that authority and the G.L.C. I would remind the noble Lord that I made a specific proposal that the G.L.C., which is already a regional authority, should be treated as a pilot or test case. Then, if the system worked in a desirable way, the Government could consider grouping local authorities who come forward with similar proposals into several regional schemes; and I said that each of these should operate on standard rules. That seems to take care of the argument which the noble Lord has just advanced.


My Lords, I do not want to be discourteous, but I would point out to the noble Lord that according to the list I have here he has two more opportunities to speak and there will therefore be ample chance for him to reply to any points. But since he has raised this matter I must remind him that we are dealing with a Bill, and what I have said is far more the logical outcome of this Bill, if it is enacted, than anything the noble Lord has said. He can shake his head, but I am dealing with the Bill.

I must make the point, because even my noble friend Lord Soper said that this was a local lottery masquerading in the clothes of a national lottery. I should not like your Lordships to think for a moment that the lottery which the Greater London Council are proposing in this Bill is a local one confined to London, because Clause 3—and we are dealing with the Bill; we are not having a Wednesday debate, but are considering possible legislation—empowers the Council to enter into arrangements with any bodies or persons to act as their agents, and by this means to secure the cooperation of other local authorities, who would then be entitled to participate in the benefits. That means that the Council would thus be able, under a scheme of their own devising, to sponsor a lottery on a national scale every month.

The noble Lord predicted that they would raise £225,000 for charitable purposes every month. This is a national lottery by a local authority. The Council would thus be able to sponsor a lottery on a national scale every month, but a national lottery under a scheme of its own devising, and one over which neither the Government nor Parliament had any control whatever and on which we could impose no limits whatsoever. If we passed this Bill we should be giving power to a local authority to organise a national lottery.

My Lords, while the merits of a single State lottery may be debatable—I personally am opposed to it—surely few would agree that such unlimited powers should be given to a local authority, even one of the standing of the Greater London Council. I would draw your Lordships' attention to the debate which took place in another place on July 1 last when an opportunity was given to pronounce on the principle of a State lottery during the Report stage of the Finance Bill. On that occasion, on a perfectly free vote, another place decided by a substantial majority against a State lottery, albeit one promoted for charitable, cultural and other deserving purposes. Their decision was reached by no fewer than 188 votes to 72 —some five to two, in racing terms—which is a very substantial Parliamentary majority.

Some of your Lordships may consider that the decision in another place on that occasion was reached because Members did not have a particular scheme before them. But that is exactly what we are asked to consider now. The Greater London Council have not put before us in this Bill any particular scheme; they have not included a detailed scheme in the Bill we are now debating. I know that in introducing the Bill the noble Lord. Lord Windlesham, told us what is intended should be provided. But we are dealing here with permanent legislation, and your Lordships will observe that under subsection (3) of Clause 1 a scheme may be amended at any time merely by resolution of the Council. Whatever the immediate intentions of the present Council may be, what we are being asked to give to-day is a blank cheque for the future.

I do not think it was because of any uncertainty of intention that so many Members voted against a State lottery last year. It is my conviction that many Members saw serious objections to the State itself providing any form of gambling and so acquiring a vested interest in its promotion—objections which would apply even more to local authorities than to central Government. I believe that Members were even more seriously concerned about any further increase in the heavy and increasing volume of gambling which is a regrettable characteristic of British society to-day. At the time of the debate the Government genuinely wanted to test the opinion of Parliament and were prepared to keep an open mind on the issues involved, which, I repeat, were largely moral issues. But the principle having been pronounced upon in Parliament, after such a free and wide-ranging discussion, the Government feel bound to respect the clear majority views expressed on that occasion. It would be quite incompatible with those views for them to do other than oppose this Bill which raises very much the same issues of principle but in a less favourable context.

My Lords, there is just one other point that I would mention before I pass from the earlier debate. If you have studied it you will recall that a number of Members were concerned about the possibly adverse effect on football pools of a State lottery, and also whether pool betting duty would be charged on a State lottery. My Lords, the terms of paragraph (c) of Clause 6 of this Bill will not have escaped your attention; and you may well ask why lotteries promoted by the Greater London Council should be exempted from pool betting duty. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, will tell us when he comes to reply. No doubt one of the reasons is to try to divert custom from pools so that the G.L.C. lotteries can compete successfully with them. Your Lordships will know that it is no part of my purpose to-day to support the pools' interests; I merely point to the proposed inequality of treatment. But it is my purpose, and duty, to point out to your Lordships that the introduction of large-scale lotteries would certainly have a serious effect on the small charitable lotteries which are already lawful under the 1963 Act, and which provide many worthy local causes with a considerable part of their income.

So far, I have been expressing the Government's attitude to this Bill. But perhaps I may now be allowed to speak more directly from my personal convictions—convictions which have, however, been largely formed and tempered from my experience as a Home Office Minister concerned with gambling in all its manifestations. That experience has led to the firmly held conviction that for many people gambling is akin to, and as harmful as, a drug. Geoffrey Green, The Times football correspondent, who frequently demonstrates that soccer reports and literature are not incompatible, wrote last Saturday: those who enjoy a weekly flutter on the pools will no doubt be issued their opium through the fatuous and arbitrary medium of the pools guess-work panel". The drug purveyors supply the market even though no games are played.

My Lords, I believe that the Greater London Council hope that their efforts would not lead to great overall increase in gambling but would attract some custom from other forms of gambling such as the pools. This is a vain hope. All past experience points to the fact that the introduction of any new form of gambling results in an increase in the total volume. Just think what has happened in our country in the last decade. Consider some of the new developments—one could almost weep. Over 15,000 betting shops; 1,200 gaming clubs; a gross proliferation of "one-armed bandits"—and a single "one-armed bandit" can show a profit of several thousands of pounds a year. Then there are the bingo halls outside which one sees the only really long evening queues in the country, and not a few people playing every afternoon and every night. None of these developments has affected the pools. All of them have increased the volume of gambling. We cannot regard with equanimity proposals for a new major gambling medium, particularly when we know that those who are attracted to betting shops, football pools, bingo, and the "one-armed bandits" will often be the same people who will be most attracted to participate in lotteries for large prizes. Incidentally, they are also often those who can least afford it; who find that in attempting a winning coup to ease their lot they are financially worse off than they were before.

The outlays on each of the various forms of gambling, individually small as they may appear, amount collectively to substantial sums and can have a considerable cumulative effect on a family budget. As my noble friend Lord Soper said, recent reports have estimated the annual turnover on gambling in this country to be of the order of £2,000 million per annum. I have worked this out. It is an average of £3 per family per week. This is a staggering figure which strongly supports the view of my noble friend that we already have too many inducements to gambling. My Lords, we fought hard and successfully last year in the Gaming Act to bring gaming, including bingo, and "one-armed bandits" under strict control and to cut out excessive profits. Even so there are those who think we did not go far enough and are concerned, for example, that children are getting addicted to amusement machines. Next week, or the week after, we have a Bill to consider in regard to that matter and to cut it out. Surely in the face of such action and having regard to such concern, we shall not to-day agree to provide a new form of gambling which could only lead to an even greater volume.

Admittedly substantial financial benefits would accrue initially to the Greater London Council and other participants. None would deny that the profits would be used for worthy purposes, although the Council must expect criticism about their order of priorities when they come to allocate their resources. Undoubtedly the prizewinners will rejoice at their newfound affluence. That is always the public image which those who promote gambling of whatever kind wish to project. Pools' takings always increase when someone wins a quarter of a million and drop when there is a succession of Saturdays with a plethora of drawn games and low dividends. The big carrot is the lure.

It is for this reason I suggest to your Lordships that we should ponder very carefully the philosophy that an activity such as gambling, with the social dangers inescapable from it, is to be justified, and indeed fostered, on a scale far surpassing that of incidental amusement, as a major fund-raising activity for desirable causes of whatever kind. I have heard that argument advanced, in one form or another, to excuse almost every type of gambling. Your Lordships heard it used last year to justify casino gaming, which has been represented in this House as virtually the sole support of live entertainment, as an important factor in the balance of payments, and much else. I myself believe that if Parliament were to accept that principle a most damaging precedent would be established which would soon enough be widened. And I say this because I do not believe that an effective distinction can he drawn between large-scale lotteries and betting or gaming; a principle accepted for one will certainly be pleaded for the others. A lottery cannot be regarded as a minor form of gambling, separable from others, when prizes of such magnitude are on offer.

It is, of course, always tempting to regard gambling as a magic talisman by which large sums of money can be conjured out of nothing to be spent on educational, cultural or welfare purposes. But look at the other side of the coin, the unhealthily disturbing effect that the sudden acquisition of a large sum of money can have on the lives of ordinary people, and the unhappiness that sometimes arises. I say this to draw your attention to the serious problem of the compulsive gambler and in doing so to pay tribute to the excellent work that is being done by Gamblers Anonymous in conjunction with the Churches' Council on Gambling. I read the report only last week or the week previously of a recent conference in Manchester on the subject, Compulsive Gambling and Delinquency, in which the Secretary of the Churches' Council described compulsive gambling as a destructive condition which involved the nation in a considerable loss of skill and energy. Many other experienced people here pointed to the menace. It seems that gambling is now more acceptable than it was and that there is something in the whole climate of modern society which encourages people constantly to seek and seize opportunities of obtaining "something for nothing". This is the crux of the matter that we are being asked to decide, because it is precisely this attitude of irresponsibility, damaging to society as to the individual, which this Bill would help to foster.

Doubtless the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, and some noble Lords will say I am overpainting the picture. They would not think so if they sat at my desk every day and saw the cases I see. I say, with unhappy certainty, that any increase in the facilities for gambling will have serious social consequences of the kind which I have mentioned this afternoon and to which my noble friend, Lord Soper, who has a lifetime's experience in social work, has drawn attention. We should be wrong to be persuaded that large-scale lotteries were a good thing simply because the profits were put to good causes. As the right reverend Prelate said, if we want these things, let us pay for them out of our rates and taxes. It is perhaps a bitter medicine, but a lot healthier for us.

The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, said that the local authorities found themselves in a financial straitjacket from which there is no escape. They may have created their own straitjacket by their election promises. I would suggest that as local authorities they should tackle their responsibilities in the proper manner if they have to charge more for things which are absolutely necessary then they should charge more, and not come out in this way and try to do it in the manner suggested. Do not let us wil-fully ignore the deleterious effects of the "something for nothing" attitude which so often leads to crime and violence and to the human suffering that is caused by excessive gambling. My Lords, I. personally, as a man, see day after day many cases of why people are in prison. It is not always gambling, but that is one of the roots and one of the problems, and I really cannot without emotion contemplate any proposal of this kind which would add to the facilities. I know that in my later remarks I have been expressing my own opinions, but they have been based on my experience as a Home Office Minister.

Let me end now by making it unmistakably clear that the Government as a whole are opposed to this measure, and in a couple of sentences let me say why. In the Government's view a national lottery could only be considered at all if it were a single State lottery and if Parliament on a full vote considered it desirable. Parliament has firmly pronounced against such a lottery and the Government consider that decision binding upon them. Leaving that as de, and even, if that is possible, disregarding all moral issues, the Government consider that there can be no justification for giving a monopoly in large-scale lotteries to any one organisation or authority and, that being so, this Bill would, is effect, be the first step towards a competitive gambling chaos. For these reasons, the Government strongly recommend that this Bill should be rejected.

4.19 p.m.


My Lords, we have listened with great cam to the vigorous opposition to this Bill that has just come from the noble Lord, Lord Stonham. There is no doubt at all about his feelings towards it. He says that it is a question of more gambling, worse gambling, this having a terrible effect on every member of the public. But I notice we have been told little in his speech about premium bonds. We were told that it was very bad for anyone to get a large sum of money without working for it. I am longing to win £25,000 next week with my premium bonds, but I probably shall not. We are interested in it. The amount has been raised to £25,000—I think in the last year. It seems that I have been waiting a long time for it. There are also many smaller sums, and many of us derive pleasure from the idea we may perhaps win. We may perhaps plan how we are going to spend it.


My Lords, if the noble Baroness will allow me to interrupt, I would point out that there is a difference between buying premium bonds and gambling. If you gamble and do not back a winner, you lose your stake; with premium bonds you cannot lose your stake; all that happens is that you forgo the right to a dividend for the sake of a prize. There is a considerable difference, although I wish the noble Baroness all the luck in the world.


My Lords, I am glad that the noble Lord wishes me luck, and I wish him luck, too, if he has any bonds. But I think there is a great connection between the two, because the whole time you are losing the interest on your stake which is going to the Government. You can be disappointed as many of us have been. We can say that we have had nothing from the premium bonds and that we will take our money out. You can take it out and you will not pay your premium or your stake money, whatever you like to call it, to the Government. I think there is very little to choose between the two.

The noble Lord, however, has gone beyond that. He spoke very little about premium bonds, but about the idea of gambling among people as a whole. He mentioned "one-armed bandits"; he mentioned how many betting shops there are, and all the rest of it. I may be peculiar, and I daresay I am, but I see a great difference between actual betting, and taking—call it gambling if you like —shares or gambling in premium bonds or a lottery. You are not being drawn in to pay more and more as you might be in betting; you are not being drawn in to go on to try to get your money back. There are only certain occasions on which you can get your ticket for a lottery, and I cannot imagine that many people will be going around trying to get several tickets. Tickets are to be 10s., with units of 2s., and somehow I do not feel that there will be many people wanting to collect a good many tickets in order to make the sum larger. I think we are much nearer to what the noble Lord called the smaller scale of lotteries which are at present legal, and the various forms of raffles and so on that we know of in bazaars to-day.

It may be said, "You are saying that the result of getting the money would be so advantageous". Of course we are. I think it would be a wonderful thing if we could get some extra money for all the things that we know we want so badly. But we cannot. We simply cannot take any more out of rates and taxes—I think that is perfectly clear. At the present time it simply cannot be done, and here is a chance—I am delighted by it—of getting some money, and getting it, not painfully but painlessly in order to provide what is required for these various amenities.

We are told that that would be wrong, that we ought to pay; that if we want things, we ought to pay for them. Well, we know we shall not. We would get very little money anyhow. After all, we have to be a little bit realistic and consider the interests that people have.

Many people waste money. I waste money—I am sure not very much, but any I can waste I am sure I do waste—and I am sure that most people do. At the same time, we look around and can perhaps find some money for what I call entertainment, amusement. And in this I would put the lottery. Quite apart from the fact—which I put first—of the strong desire to get money for certain projects, I would put next the fun of it. The project may give you great excitement and no money. It might (but somehow it does not happen very often) give you a large prize. I would say that the money was what we might call "entertainment money".

I know that I shall be told, "But everybody is not like that. There are some people who must go on, who must get more money, save it up, somehow or other, in order to spend it on these things". I sometimes wonder whether all our brethren and all our sisters are quite so stupid as we make them out to be. I do not think that we ourselves are really very much better than a great many of the people we are talking about. There are a few, I grant, who might want to try to get from these lotteries something they could not get in any other way; but if they want to get a fortune or a great deal of money I am quite certain of one thing: they will go to something else and not to the lottery. I think the lotteries are so designed that we know they are going to be worked honestly.

I have been through the Bill very carefully. I had thought of speaking of the Bill this afternoon, but everybody has spoken about whether there ought to be a Bill or ought not to be a Bill, so I have had to cast away my notes. However, there is a Bill, and that Bill, if carefully studied, does show a real interest in certain projects that would be helped, and would be helped very considerably. People may say to me: "Well, you might do this; but think what other local authorities, what other bodies, what other associations would then want to run lotteries". My reply to that is: "Let them; let them get together and see what they can do if they want to. I cannot see the harm." Probably many of them will find that they want only the small lottery that is already allowed. That would be sufficient for them. Others that wanted a bigger lottery probably could not run it on their own, but they would be perfectly willing to join with somebody else.

I was told by a friend of mine that we were putting forward this proposal because we wanted to "down" the football pools. Nothing will "down" the football pools—we know that: they will go on. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, talked about this country being rather different from other countries (I think he was probably speaking of France) where lottery tickets are sold in the streets. We could have a rule that they are not to be sold in the streets. But, my Lords, are we very much different, or are we just trying to be superior? Have other countries got our pools system, on the size that we have it in relation to the size of our population? I doubt it. I have tried to find out, but I have not been able to make quite certain. Each country has what it particularly wants, and what has grown up.

I hope that this Bill will be passed. We can improve it in various ways—and there are several things that I should like to see done in a different way. No longer, as I said, is this a debate on the Bill; it has become a debate on whether these lotteries are to be classed, not with premium bonds, not with football pools, but with all the biggest and worst betting and gambling in the country.

4.29 p.m.


My Lords, much of what I intended to say has already been said by the noble Lord, Lord Soper, and by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London, and I want only to try to make five points which lead me to support wholeheartedly the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Soper. There have been two or three references to the lotteries which were held in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and the fact that the Prime Minister and the Archbishop of Canterbury of the time were patrons of them. I think it is a matter of historical fact that those lotteries were made illegal for the simple reason that they produced such disastrous social consequences. For that reason alone that form of lottery in this country was made illegal. The fear that, in agreeing to a further lottery, we shall be merely repeating the mistakes which were made by our forefathers makes me altogether against this Bill.

Secondly, I hold the view that there is no kind of harmless gambling. One can point to the raffles and lotteries at church bazaars, and so on, though I think it is fair to say that, by and large, so far as my own diocese is concerned, with the growth of understanding in what Christian giving means, those forms of raising money are largely disappearing. The problem which I find over gambling for money prizes is that the prizes themselves tend always to increase and grow, and that the only reason why people enter for the lottery is that they want to get something for nothing. We have seen an example in the growth of the prize in premium bonds, and I have no doubt that the sale of premium bonds has gone up since the £25,000 prize was introduced. I can foresee a situation in which, with the proliferation of lotteries—this is bound to happen in all parts of the country—we shall find one authority vying with another in its prizes, ever increasing them and producing what, to my mind, will be an utterly disastrous state of affairs in our society.

Thirdly, I was grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, for reminding us that if this Bill went through it would be going back on the 1963 Act and on the recommendations of the Royal Commission. This, to me, was the overwhelming reason why I wanted to vote against the Bill. It was a deliberate attempt to go back on legislation which Parliament had already passed in order to provide a loophole for this particular activity, and I believe that that would be quite disastrous. Fourthly, the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham made the very attractive suggestion that this Bill might be used as a pilot scheme and that, at the end of it, if no undesirable results were apparent it should be allowed to go forwards. But supposing those results are undesirable, how can one stop something which has already begun? Can we go back on legislation of this kind? And, in the long run, who is to judge whether the results have been desirable or undesirable.

Fifthly, and lastly, I have to ask myself the question whether this is the kind of way in which a responsible, adult society conducts its affairs. Is it right that money for public expenditure should be raised by this particular so-called harmless gimmick of a lottery? I doubt it, and, however good the cause for which that money is required, I doubt if this is the right way to get it. I have sympathy with every single one of the purposes to which the money raised from such a lottery would be put, but I think it is worth remembering that a great deal in each field which is here enunciated has been achieved, and is being achieved, all over the country through voluntary giving. Theatres have been built through voluntary giving; certainly recreational centres, youth centres and all sorts of other amenities have been provided through voluntary giving; and I believe it to be entirely wrong to use this particular means of raising money for the amenities which society needs. Therefore I personally very much hope that this Bill will not be accepted by your Lordships' House and that the Amendment will go through.

4.35 p.m.


My Lords, I do not intend to detain your Lordships for many moments. This is a Bill about which everything can be said quite shortly. Speaking for myself, I have never been able to see anything morally wrong in gambling. I am fortified in that view—or in that error, if it be an error—by the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of London, who told us that gambling was not a very wicked thing. I am grateful to him for having fortified my own conscience about something over which, from time to time, I have wondered whether or not I have been misguided or wrong.

I believe that it is not gambling itself which is a social evil. Looking back over a fairly long experience of poverty, I will not say that gambling itself is one of the major causes that brings people to poverty. I do not think it is. There are many other, much more potent forces. It is the abuse of gambling which is harmful and which is a social evil, and one cannot protect the population against the abuse of gambling. They have got to protect themselves. It is true that we sanction facilities for gambling in the betting offices. I myself do not believe that the betting offices have increased gambling; nobody knows how much gambling went on in the streets before the betting offices were introduced. But, of course, there is nothing to be said for the man who gambles with the housekeeping money and who at the end of the week cannot pay the rent. That happens, and we cannot stop its happening except by a moral approach to the population. I think that it is useless to try to prevent that from happening simply by trying to restrict the facilities for gambling. A person who gambles in that way is not going to be attracted to a share in this lottery. This is not the sort of gambling in which a man who would gamble away the housekeeping money is likely to be interested, any more than he is interested in premium bonds. I think your Lordships could safely say that this is a type of gambling which will not lead to the social evils with which other forms of gambling may be concerned.

I was rather astonished to hear the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, on behalf of the Government, condemn this Bill so wholeheartedly. Only last year the Government introduced into the Finance Bill a clause which would have made it possible to promote a national lottery. I do not know whether there has been a change of heart or a change of mind, but it seems to me to be quite inconsistent with the attitude of the Government towards this Bill to-day.


My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord, but I would point out that there was a free vote in the other House on that Bill on July 1. Some members of the Government voted for the Amendment, others voted against it.


If the noble Lord will be a little more patient, I am coming to that. It is true that when the clause was debated in the House of Commons, on a free vote, it was defeated—not by a very large majority, but it was defeated. I am told that one of the reasons why it was defeated was that what was proposed there was that the proceeds of the lottery should be paid into the Consolidated Fund for the benefit of the Treasury. The House felt that if this new form of finance was to be adopted, the proceeds ought to be used for different purposes rather than the normal proceeds of taxation. Judged by that standard this Bill gets through. The Bill proposes, as the House of Commons appeared to want, that the proceeds of the lotteries should be devoted to the purposes which several of your Lordships have enumerated during the debate, which I suppose everybody is agreed are purposes of great social and cultural value to the people of London, but which are purposes for which there is no justification at present in spending the ratepayers' money.

This Bill has been condemned upon two grounds. It has been partly condemned because of its contents. The criticism of the Bill on that ground does not seem to me to have gone very far. I think it was the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London who said that this was not a very efficient way of raising money. I do not know, but, at any rate, the Greater London Council think it is, and the question for us this afternoon is not whether or not it is efficient, but whether the Greater London Council ought to be given an opportunity of testing it and seeing whether it is an efficient way of raising money.

A much more serious criticism has been directed not at the Bill itself, but at the consequences which it is thought may flow from it. I do not myself share the view of the noble Lord, Lord Soper, that this is going to open the door—he had a splendid phrase—"to unproductive hangers-on". I am not quite clear what class of person the noble Lord had in mind.


My Lords, I was thinking of the manipulators of finance.


My Lords, I do not think many financiers would buy tickets in this lottery. I think they know somewhere better than that to put their money. Before I conclude, I ask your Lordships to disabuse your minds of much that has been said about the probable consequences of this Bill. I should not like to say that they have been exaggerated, but they have certainly been overstated. Let us pass the Bill and see how it works as an experiment—because that is what it is—before we condemn it too roundly, and before we predict that it is going to lead to all the alarming consequences which have been delineated by some of its opponents this afternoon.

4.43 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Ilford, assumed, if I heard him aright, that my noble friend Lord Stonham was out of step with Government policy about a national lottery. Therefore it may be of interest to the House if I read a very brief passage from the reply to the debate on the Amendment on July 1 in the other place, where the Financial Secretary said this: We have no Government view on whether we should or should not have a national lottery. Hence the free vote."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, 1/7/68, col. 1181.] I myself happen to disagree with my noble friend Lord Stonham. I should be in favour of a national lottery run by the State, so long as one knew its terms and its precise details. But, unlike many previous speakers to-day, while I am in favour of a national lottery I am against the particular kind of lottery envisaged under the Bill of the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham. And, taking to heart what the noble Baroness, Lady Horsbrugh, said, I shall try to confine myself to the Bill itself.

I think we must all be very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, for introducing this Bill which has given the House an opportunity to discuss the whole merits of a non-national or local lottery, as I might perhaps describe it. But I must come down on the side of my noble friend Lord Soper whose Amendment I shall support. The Bill sets out certain general indications about the lottery that is envisaged, but it gives no precise details beyond saying that no more than one lottery shall be promoted in a month. This is, in fact, a kind of enabling Bill. All the details, all the hard facts, all the guts of it, are to be brought in later by the G.L.C., under what is described in the Bill as a "scheme". In actual fact it is difficult to know what one is passing in legislation of this form.

There is nothing in the Bill about the price of the tickets. The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, said that they would be 10s.; and I have seen that sum mentioned in the Press. He also said that the prizes in a month would amount to £225,000. I have seen other figures in the Press. One was £255,000 and another was £10,000 a month. But of course I entirely accept what the noble Lord has said. There is nothing in the Bill, however, about the prizes. There is nothing about how the prizes are to be allotted; and, even more important, there is nothing about the proportion of the proceeds to be given over to prizes. There is also nothing about the ratio of expenses, including promotional expenses, to total proceeds.

All these important details are to be dealt with under the so-called "scheme". None of them will be subject to Parliamentary approval, and whatever form the scheme itself may take when it has been worked out, it can also be amended or revoked by any subsequent scheme, as my noble friend Lord Stonham pointed out. I therefore suggest to the House that we are being asked to-day to pass some unusually vague legislation, and to give the G.L.C. what is virtually carte blanche to conduct a large-scale lottery in any form it likes. As my noble friend Lord Soper has said, it is a miserable Bill in its imprecision.

I am also concerned about the implications of Clause 3, dealing with the agreements. This clause allows the Council (and this was confirmed by the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham) to farm out the promotion and conduct of the lottery to any person or body, including any local authority. Therefore the lottery could be run in co-operation with other local authorities not only in the G.L.C. area; and in fact I think the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, rather hoped that this would happen after the experimental period of one year was over. It is therefore certain that people from all over the country would compete in this lottery. It would become virtually a national lottery though in another guise, but the proceeds would be only for the benefit, wholly or partly, of Greater London bodies, or of persons living and working there.

Then there is the matter of the projects. These are described in Clause 4(2), and of course they are all very worthy in intent. But I agree with previous speakers who take the view that it is undesirable that projects of this kind should have to depend on lotteries for their financing. Also, it might produce an excuse for local authorities to opt out of their responsibilities in this field. I agree absolutely with the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London, who said that such projects should be provided by the ratepayer. The point, really, is how important one regards these matters. If you approached them only from a materialistic point of view, you would probably find that you could not afford them, as seems to have been the case with the Nine Elms Library at Wands-worth. But if you were to regard them as amenities in a fuller and perhaps more civilised sense, then you might find that the money spent on them was well worth while.

My Lords, I should like now to touch, very briefly, on the possible effects of such a G.L.C. lottery on the national Exchequer. This point, I think, has not so far been dealt with in detail. I believe it is the Government's view that if there is a national lottery run by the State a duty similar to the pool betting duty should be levied on it. This was mentioned by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury during the debate on July 1 in the other place, and is reported at column 1185. I feel sure that this is right, because it is clear that some people would move their patronage from the pools to the lottery, with a consequent loss of revenue to the Exchequer, if both were not taxed equally. On the other hand, the lottery envisaged in this Bill would not be required to pay any tax to the national Exchequer at all. In fact, this is specifically excluded under Clause 6(c).

Lastly, my Lords, I agree with other speakers over the question of creating a precedent. I feel sure that if London, our capital city, has a lottery, other cities will wish to follow suit—and there is really no reason at all why they should not. And if other cities follow suit, why should not other local authorities, large and small, also run lotteries? And how could the Government resist applications from charitable organisations and worthy societies of all kinds? The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, said he thought that many of these would not need to resort to lotteries, but a very different situation might arise if we had a plethora of lotteries, large and small, up and down the country. I feel sure that in that event many of these charities would feel the need to demand their own lottery.

The last Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming dealt in paragraph 393 of their Report with this question of large-scale lotteries not conducted by tit, State, and they concluded—quite rightly, I think—that they had received no evidence that the promotion of large public lotteries of this kind should be permitted. For these reasons, while, as I said at the outset, I am not against a national lottery run by the State, I am against a local lottery run by one particular corporation, the G.L.C., as envisaged in this Bill; and for this reason I support the Amendment of my noble friend Lord Soper.

4.53 p.m.


My Lords, I have come to the opposite conclusion, and I wish to say shortly why I propose to vote for the Second Reading of this Bill. May I deal at the outset with the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, when he mentioned the debate in another place last July? He said, quite rightly, that that debate ended with a free vote, but I think the point that many of my honourable friends had in mind was that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I think other Treasury Ministers, voted in favour of it—an action which they certainly would not have taken had they thought that there was anything particularly wicked about lotteries.

While I listened, as I always do, to the sincere, emphatic and reasoned view of the noble Lord, Lord Soper, and of the right reverend Prelates, perhaps I may say, as one who very long ago studied moral philosophy at Oxford, that I always concluded, as I think my friend Quintin Hogg concluded—and I think he once expressed this view in this House—that we really ought to bear in mind the philosophical principle known as Occam's Razor; that is, Entia non multiplicanda praeter necessitatem, which in English means that entities must not be unnecessarily multiplied. I think that what applies to entities also applies to sins, and that we ought not constantly to seek to invent new sins. I have no reason to think that taking part in a lottery for a good purpose is sinful.

The noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, and the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, said that we ought to be bound by the view of the House of Commons last July, but that view, of course, was expressed on a totally different measure, and we do not know the view of the House of Commons on this present measure. We shall know that if we give it a Second Reading and a Committee stage—and I should like to say to the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, that many of his points seem to me more appropriate to the Committee stage than to Second Reading. I think many lotteries—some of them, I think, have been quoted this afternoon—have led to very happy results. I think that the British Museum was involved in one. I rather think that we owe Guy's Hospital to another, but I may be wrong on that. I think I am right; I think that a great deal of the original funds for Guy's Hospital came from a lottery. Anyhow, there is no doubt about the good purposes which may be served by this method of raising money.

That brings me to my main point, which nobody on either side has yet raised this afternoon. What I think we ought to do is to compare this method of raising money by the local authority with other methods of raising money by the local authority. We are not proposing that the Greater London Council shall not be able to raise money by a loan. The moral thought that I wish to put before the House is that this way of raising money is considerably more honest than the usual method of raising money by a loan in a depreciating currency. My Lords, if this Bill gets a Second Reading and passes into law, anybody who pays money for a chance in the lottery of the Greater London Council will know exactly what he is doing. He will almost certainly lose the money that he stakes, but it will serve, in part, very good purposes; or he will win a prize in the currency with which he is familiar.

Contrast that with what happens when the Government or local authority contract a loan in sterling. I think, my Lords, that that should be borne in mind. The wretched person who subscribes is often told that he is making a good bargain. The Government or the local authority do not bring specially to his or her notice that he will be repaid, if at all, in a sadly depreciated currency, and will lose a great deal of the money that he lends. Compared to the morality indulged in by the Government and local authorities in raising money in a depreciating currency by the promise of interest over a long period, the method proposed in this Bill seems to me to be honesty itself.

My Lords, these facts will not be without their influence when I record my vote this afternoon. It is said—I do not know—that the Bill might have unfavourable results or influence on bingo or the pools or the "one-armed bandits". So what? I do not mind adversely affecting any of those interests, if it be so; but we simply do not know how they will be affected. I suppose I must have it on my conscience that in the past I have joined in appeals to contribute to national savings. I persuaded myself—and I think that at times there was some ground for my belief—that Governments possibly intended to tackle the problem of inflation and that the money lent might ultimately be repaid. Now, from the experience of a long lifetime, I know better. I know that few Governments—and certainly not this one—have the slightest intention of dealing with the great swindle of inflation; that when they borrow money there is not the slightest intention of repaying it at the value at which it was borrowed. If it were only for the example of honesty set by this Bill, I should vote for its Second Reading.

5.0 p.m.


My Lords, I do not think any of your Lordships will be surprised to hear that I, with my past bad record, support this Bill; because in March, 1965, I introduced a Bill of a very similar type. The purpose of that Bill was to authorise a sweepstake, some of the proceeds of which would be used to save Aintree racecourse and the Grand National. At that time it had been announced by Mrs. Topham, who owned Aintree, that she could not carry on and that in 1966, the following year, the last Grand National would be run. Her Majesty's Government were against my Bill; but I am glad to say that on Second Reading I carried it with a substantial majority. It was lost in another place, but I like to think that the publicity engendered by my Bill did something to save Aintree and the Grand National; for subsequently arrangements were made which enabled Aintree to carry on and enabled us to have an annual Grand National.

Just before the introduction of my Bill the Daily Express carried out a public opinion poll. They asked two questions. The first question was this: "Would you, in general, approve or disapprove of the idea that we have a State lottery in Britain, if the proceeds went to some good cause—for instance, hospitals, medical research, playing fields or such like?". The answers were as follows: 88 per cent. approved and 12 per cent. disapproved. The second question was this: "If there were a lottery once a month with tickets at the rate of 10s. each, how often do you think you would buy a ticket?". The answers were as follows: 19 per cent. said "Every time"; 60 per cent. said "Sometimes"; 21 per cent. said "Never".

My Lords, I see no reason why the answers to those questions if they were in relation to this Bill would be very different to-day. And if that is the case, surely it is fair to conclude that the vast majority of the people of this country are in favour of it. Most of them would buy a ticket sometimes, but not every time. Nobody can call that excessive gambling. The noble Lord, Lord Soper, who moved his reasoned Amendment against the Second Reading of the Bill is clearly against all gambling, as I think he is against all drinking—a counsel of perfection in this imperfect world. Like him, I know many cases of people mined by gambling. The man who spends his afternoons in the betting shop chasing the money that he lost on the first race; the man who spends hours glued to the "one-armed bandit"—these are the addicts, these the people who need protection; not the man who buys a 10s. ticket once a month.

At this hour I do not propose to go into the details of this Bill. They were clearly described by my noble friend Lord Windlesham. They seem to me to be quite sensible and practical. I agree that perhaps we can improve the Bill a good deal in Committee; but that is no reason for not giving it a Second Reading. To me the objects of the Bill appear to be worth while, the social implications quite harmless. I will certainly vote against the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Soper.

5.7 p.m.


My Lords, I feel some gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, for moving this Bill. I am a youth leader and I feel considerable gratitude to anybody who gives a kind thought to the very rickety financial position in which the youth movement always stands. For that reason I say, "Thank you"; but, "Thank you— no!". As a youth leader, I would much rather not have this money. It is true that financially we in the youth movement have our problems. They are quite endemic and I have long come to the conclusion that it is our duty to have our problems. I believe that if we had money in our pockets it would mean that we were not doing our job. It is our duty to spend all that we have and perhaps a little more. So, we are, as a movement, chronically broke. Nevertheless, I do not think that we should be helped by money produced in this way.

There are a number of times in the course of a day when, sitting around the fire in our club barge, chatting with the kids, all sorts of subjects come up. I have to give my opinion on many matters affecting young people, their lives, their futures, what they should do, what they should not do, why they should do so, or why they should not. I feel that a powerful weapon will be wrenched from my grasp if I can be countered with the argument that the Government are gambling. If the Government are gambling, then I will find it very much more difficult to explain to these young people why they should not. And so it is that the noble Lord will excuse me if I say, as I have said before, "Thank you, no!".

My Lords, I am well aware that in the past Governments used to gamble; that all sorts of things were considered right in the past which are now considered wrong. There was a time when badger baiting and bear baiting was considered right. I well remember the nicer parts of the old rules at Eton, where I was educated. I remember a master discovering a wonderful old rule which said that no boy resident in the college should keep within the precincts of the college badgers, bears or a wife. Why "wife" was included in the list I do not know. Apparently the head boy was allowed a wife; but badgers and bears were clearly excluded by the college for those within its precincts because it was felt that they were bad for the students. And I consider, for exactly the same reason, that we should not raise money in this way, especially for this purpose. The noble Lord, Lord Conesford, with whom I agree heartily on some matters, asked what sin it was and whether it was a new sin that we were trying to suppress. It is not a new sin, my Lords, it is an old sin: the sin of leading the young and innocent into temptation. That is a very old sin. For that reason, and because these things were mentioned by noble Lords, I decided to speak in this debate.

5.10 p.m.


My Lords, earlier in the debate the Minister seemed critical of the employment by a State-controlled agency on the Continent of poor or physically handicapped persons to sell State lottery tickets. I agree with him that that in itself cannot be a reason for justifying this Bill, but I see little difference between having, as we have in our streets, large numbers of kind persons voluntarily selling flags and so forth for charitable purposes, and having poor persons selling lottery tickets for worthy causes. But, be that as it may, the noble Lords, Lord Stonham and Lord Soper, may be surprised to hear that I shall support the rejection of this Bill, though not entirely for the same reasons as they might have.

I would stress that I am definitely in favour of a State-controlled or a national lottery as run in France, where every week one has an opportunity to win a million new French francs. There may be temptations in buying in France a lottery ticket for large prizes, or a tenth of a ticket, but I do not think that that temptation could occur once a week. I do not think, either, that it leads any Frenchman to compulsive gambling. I do not think there is any record to show that the people there are tempted in that way. In effect, I think that with a lottery of that kind, a State-controlled lottery, one is tempted from time to time to chance one's luck, and that is about all there is to it. I do not consider any moral element whatsoever is involved.

I am very sorry not to be able to support my noble friend Lord Windlesham, but I feel that to some extent this Bill constitutes the thin edge of the wedge so far as lotteries are concerned. I do not think that it is a pilot scheme so much as the means whereby one could get a proliferation of lotteries in this country. If one takes the example of our gambling clubs and casinos, of which the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, is well aware, it was through the introduction of what I consider rather regrettable legislation that we are now plagued with gambling clubs and casinos. If we passed this Bill, I feel that numerous lotteries could be set up all over the country within the next few years.

Another reason why I regret opposing the Bill is that it is sponsored by a Conservative-controlled council. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Soper, that Clause 3 is widely drawn and that it is somewhat undesirable, in that it empowers the Council to enter into agreements with any body or person to act on the Council's behalf in the promotion and conduct of the lottery. I do not agree with the noble Lord that it may tempt financial wizards, and so forth, to take an interest in the matter, but it may tempt publicity and marketing interests to take an interest and to bring pressure to bear on the Council. I was rather surprised that, in effect, the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, should be against a State lottery, especially, as was mentioned by my noble friend Lord Clitheroe, when we have premium bonds. I suppose one could say that the premium bond draw provides a temptation, and it could be considered by some to be morally wrong to buy premium bonds because one could win £25,000. As the Government accept premium bonds, I feel that all the members of the Government should accept the idea of a State lottery, which the premium bond draw is in effect.


My Lords, I do not know whether the noble Lord was in the Chamber when this matter was raised before, but I made the point that the essence of gambling is that if you do not back a winner you lose your stake. With premium bonds you retain your stake all the time; you only forgo a dividend for the sake of participating in the possibility of winning a prize.


Or gambling.


My Lords, I take the noble Lord's point. I still feel that there can be no compulsion about buying a lottery ticket; though I agree with the noble Lord that there may be a slight difference in respect of premium bonds in that you retain the bond.

I hope this Bill will not be accepted. I am sorry to say that, because it is a Conservative-sponsored Bill to some extent. On the other hand, I hope that the Government will take another opportunity soon to endeavour to promote a State-controlled lottery, for I believe that it would not lead to compulsive gambling. It does not seem to have had any disadvantages in France. It has not increased the amount of hard gambling there, and the lottery is of great benefit to hospitals.

5.18 p.m.


My Lords, as your Lordships came to the House this afternoon I expect you saw on the news posters that the G.L.C. rate is up. An enormous extra sum has had to be asked for from the ratepayers of this city; and of course, in those circumstances, which all of us have probably had a hand in at one time or another, it is always the fringe activities which suffer. You have to continue with the basic services which stem from Acts of Parliament and the costs go up all the time. The rates have to go up, too. The difficulty we are in nowadays is that we all want these fringe activities to be better supported, whether it be the youth movement or the Arts or any of the purposes which I understand the G.L.C. has in mind.

My Lords, you can do what many Governments have done: starve these fringe activities when they ought to be given money, simply because you are frightened of putting up rates and taxes too much. You know that there are limits to the amount which the public will stand. Therefore you cast round and say, "How do we get some money?" That question has come up in many a vicarage. I know in my constituency how often I have been out on the lawn and been asked to take tickets in a raffle which had been organised because it was not possible to get the money for a very worthy cause. I could point to a large number of denominational schools (I will not mention the denomination) which would never have been built but for the financial aid derived from gambling. I really do not think that the moral problem is one that right reverend Prelates can put easily, because we know that, when pushed to extremes, there are few people like the noble Viscount, Lord St. Davids, who says that he does not want money for his youth club if it comes from a lottery. I respect him for his point of view, but there is a large majority of people who, if they have something which they know they can do but do not know where they will get the money to do it, would be prepared to have a lottery.

I entirely agree with him in wishing that money for these purposes did not come from any form of gambling. It would be far better, for example, if the Government would allow contributions to charity to rank as deductions from income tax. The system in America is infinitely better than the one here, and I only hope that one day we shall have it. But if we are really concerned about these cultural and social activities and have to increase the rates to meet the cost—the sum of £75 million is mentioned in connection with the G.L.C. rates—what are we to do? The G.L.C. say that, in spite of the fact that their ordinary expenditure is going up all the time, they would like to do more in these fields, and here they are trying a new experiment. I do not like it. I do not like the idea of the G.L.C. having a lottery. But I would vote for the Bill in order to give a hearing to the really urgent need to find voluntary sources of funds for this work which very much needs to be done.

5.22 p.m.


My Lords, if, by leave of the House, I may, speak again at the end of the debate your Lordships will be relieved to know that I shall not claim any further right of reply even though my name appears on the Order Paper once more. We have noted the deep differences of opinion in the debate this afternoon. But it is interesting that, from whatever side of the House the speeches have come, the debate h is been exactly balanced—seven speakers in favour of the Bill, and seven speakers against.

Some of the opponents of the Bill have tried to steer a rather unhappy course between saying that the proposal was wrong in principle, and that it would not work out in practice. I was asked by the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, about some of the details of the proposed lottery. I avoided going into this matter because I thought the House would prefer to stick to the central issues raised by the Bill on Second Reading. If the Bill receives a Second Reading we can go into the detail of the scheme in Committee. A scheme for the lottery has been drawn up in draft by the G.L.C., and can be debated at a later stage when it can receive a rather different form of consideration.

The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, made it clear that the Government as a whole had abandoned the position of neutrality taken up in another place last year. The noble Lord, Lord Conesford, made the point that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had made the speech on July 1 in another place which we have heard to-day from the Minister of State, there could have been no free vote and no division of opinion of the sort that occurred on the Finance Bill Division. On that occasion some members of the Cabinet voted one way and some the other. Regrettably, we have seen the Government depart from this principle of complete neutrality to-day, and come down unequivocally in favour of the House rejecting this Bill.


My Lords, I did not say anything of the kind. What I said then, and I repeat, is that the Government found, on the perfectly free vote in another place for the purpose of deciding the view of Parliament, that Parliament rejected by 188 to 72 votes a proposal for a State lottery. I said that they felt bound, and feel bound now, to observe the wishes of Parliament, and that those wishes are quite incompatible with the principle of the noble Lord's Bill. Therefore the Government advised the House to vote against it.


My Lords, I wish the noble Lord would not use the expression "Parliament". Parliament did not reject the clause. The House of Commons rejected it. We are still perfectly entitled in this House to have a debate of our own in order to decide on a measure of our own. I regret that the noble Lord was not able to inform the House, as the Financial Secretary to the Treasury did in another place, that the Government maintained its position of complete neutrality. The Financial Secretary told Members of another place that he personally was in favour. I have no doubt that the noble Lord would have told us that he personally is against the idea of a lottery. But consistency would have been preserved. I regret that it has disappeared in this instance.

The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, made considerable play with the Government's policy towards gambling. He said that he sits behind his desk in the Home Office and sees some of the appalling consequences that can result from gambling. To me Government policy, as a result of legislation over the past ten years—not necessarily only by this Government, but by their predecessors too—is, on the whole, confusing and unsatisfactory. Parliament has allowed the really vicious forms of gambling to take place, whether intentionally or unintentionally. This is the compulsive gambling that can take place in gaming clubs and casinos and in betting shops. When the last Gaming Bill was before the House, the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, said that we had to accept that the previous legislation in this field had not been effective. The promoters had got round the existing law and it was now necessary to have another shot at it. I doubt if the noble Lord would tell us that he is perfectly satisfied with the law as it stands to-day.

It is curious, then, that when this innocent and rather benevolent Bill comes to your Lordships' House the Government turn round and fiercely oppose it. It is rather like a weak and ingratiating bully who joins a street gang in tying a tin can to his dog's tail, while a few minutes later preventing a small boy from giving a lump of sugar to a tame rabbit. The form of betting to keep in mind is the pools and bingo. If we can distinguish in our minds between these lesser activities, which I think most people find hard to condemn as gambling, and as wrong, and the type of gambling that takes place in the betting shop, gaming club or casino, then we shall see this Bill in proportion.

My Lords, that is all I have to say. The vote of substance comes on the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Soper. I would urge all noble Lords who support this Bill to vote against the Amendment. This is the only way —as we have heard the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, emphasise once again—in which the G.L.C. themselves see that they can raise the additional funds needed for amenities and recreational purposes. It seems to me a healthy, constructive and imaginative proposal and one that should be put to the test of a vote in your Lordships' House. The Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Soper, is essentially negative—I think he would accept that. He would like the situation to remain as it is, and not he changed in the manner described in the Bill. Therefore I ask all noble Lords who support the Bill to vote against the Amendment.

5.30 p.m.


My Lords, I would invite the House to support the Amendment, and I intend, with the permission of the House, to press it. I take advantage of the opportunity of replying to the debate to express my gratitude alike to those who have supported the Amendment and those who have opposed it for the quality of the contributions that they have made. If I do not refer to all the points, it is for two reasons: first, that it would take me too long; and secondly, that I have forgotten quite a number of them.

What I should like to do, first of all, is to thank my ecclesiastical brethren for the support that they gave me in this Amendment. When the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London first jumped into the river I was not quite sure which bank he was making for, but he ended up on Canaan's side. I am intensely grateful to him, as I am to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Portsmouth, for the unanimity with which they pressed one of the substantial matters of this debate, which is nothing less than the fact that a responsible and adult public authority should behave in a responsible and adult way in seeking to raise money for those purposes which it regards as part of its civic duty.

I was not impressed, if I may say so, when the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, regarded these professed intentions in the Bill as fringe benefits. Perhaps I may read your Lordships some of the fringe benefits included in Clause 4(2)(c) of the Bill: the provision, maintenance or improvement of youth, community or welfare services or for the care and upbringing of children and young persons or their education and training for citizenship. These, my Lords, are not fringe benefits. They are part of the normal traffic of enlightened administration, and ought, therefore, to be treated in a responsible way and not left to the hazards of private interests and greed.

The noble Lord, Lord Cottesloe, and the noble Baroness, Lady Horsbrugh, were bothered about premium bonds. The noble Lord, Lord Conesford, dazzled us with some Latin and Occam's razor, and perhaps I might refer to two Latin phrases, which come in the ecclesiastical discussion, but usually describe the difference between a premium bond and a lottery. It is a question of lucrum cessans, that is to say, the non-fruitability, as it was said, of money which is involved in the premium bond; whereas it is damnum emergens which is involved in philosophy. The noble Lord, Lord Conesford, will I am sure appreciate that distinction. Having complimented him by such a reference, may I regret that he did not go to Cambridge but to Oxford for his moral philosophy. For having told us of the fallacy of seeking to find new sins—and not succeeding, if I may say so, as the noble Viscount, Lord St. Davids, pointed out—he went on to commit, I thought, a rather unfortunate error in attempting to prove that a particular sin is to be counted as righteousness if you can find something that is worse. I find that unacceptable. The habits of a capitalist society (if this were another debate) would be regarded by me as execrable in any case, but that does not justify, it seems to me, the even less unworthy but nevertheless sinful habits of philosophy.

I should like to say just a word about the support that I have received from those I could not perhaps count as full-blooded allies, on principle, but as cobelligerents—the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, and others—and to say how grateful I am to them for specifying particular reasons for having nothing further to do with this Bill, though they might, perhaps in moments of moral aberration be prepared to support a State lottery. This is a conditional piety which I gladly accept.

I found it difficult to see the dog from the rabbit in the particular illustration given by the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, in his summing up, but what I think he was saying—at least, I hope so—was that this is not the worst of crimes, and, in fact, it would possibly be regarded by most people as more or less a trivial offence. What I wish to exemplify in the Amendment (and to which, if I may say so, no answers have been proffered by those who oppose the Amendment) is that in this particular Bill we are seeking to provide greater opportunities for what is already a substantial evil; that there is an excessive opportunity for gambling now, and that you do not remove the danger of it by saying that a particular bit of gambling that is now to be added is not as bad as the sum total of the gambles which are already permitted. I think that again is a very imperfect use of reason. This is an addition to the amenities already provided, which will calculatingly, I am sure, provide an increase of gambling as a whole; and, in principle, that which will now be done in one local authority, if this Bill goes forward, may well be copied in a rat race that can only contribute, I think, to general chaos and diminish progressively the amount of money to these very charities. I ought to declare an interest, because I should be one of the recipients of some of these charities; but, like the noble Viscount, Lord St. Davids, I would rather be without them, because I think that in the ultimate sense they will only contribute to a greater sense of insecurity rather than to a general sense of welfare.

Therefore, granting that there are many ancillary questions which still have to be answered about many of the ways in which we seek to fill our coffers and to provide services which are necessary, I still invite your Lordships to declare no further interest in this Bill, as being unsuitable even to the objects which

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

can be regarded as well worth while, and, in principle, a retrograde and not a progressive step.

5.36 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 76; Not-Contents, 60.

Addison, V. Foot, L. Raglan, L.
Airedale, L. Gardiner, L. (L. Chancellor) Rockley, L.
Albemarle, E. Garnsworthy, L. St. Davids, V.
Amulree, L. Granville of Eye, L. Segal, L.
Archibald, L. Hall, V. Serota, Bs.
Arwyn, L. Hawke, L. Shackleton, L. (L. Privy Seal)
Auckland, L. Henley, L. Shepherd, L.
Beswick, L. Hilton of Upton, L. Soper, L. [Teller]
Blyton, L. Hirshfield, L. Sorensen, L.
Booth by, L. Jackson of Burnley, L. Southwark, L. Bp.
Bowles, L. Kennet, L. Stocks, Bs.
Brock, L. Kilbracken, L. [Teller] Stonham, L.
Brockway, L. Kirkwood, L. Stow Hill, L.
Brown, L. Latham, L. Strabolgi, L.
Buckinghamshire, E. Leatherland, L. Strang, L.
Burden, L. Lindgren, L. Strange, L.
Carron, L. London, L. Bp. Summerskill, Bs.
Champion, L. McLeavy, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Chorley, L. Maelor, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Clwyd, L. Merrivale, L. Willis, L.
Cooper of Stockton, L. Merthyr, L. Winterbottom, L.
Douglass of Cleveland, L. Mountevans, L. Wise, L.
Dundonald, E. Moyle, L. Wright of Ashton-under-Lyne, L.
Energlyn, L. Noel-Buxton, L.
Exeter, L. Bp. Pargiter, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Ferrers, E. Phillips, Bs.
Aberdare, L. Eccles, V. Luke, L.
Atholl, D. Elgin and Kincardine, E. MacAndrew, L.
Audley, Bs. Emmet of Amberley, Bs. Milverton, L.
Baldwin of Bewdley, E. Ferrier, L. Morrison, L.
Bourne, L. Geddes of Epsom, L. Rankeillour, L.
Brecon, L. Goschen, V. Rathcavon, L.
Bridgeman, V. Gowrie, E. St. Aldwyn, E.
Clifford of Chudleigh, L. Grenfell, L. St. Helens, L.
Clitheroe, L. Gridley, L. St. Oswald, L.
Conesford, L. Grimston of Westbury, L. Sandford, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Headfort, M. Sandys, L.
Craigavon, V. Hertford, M. Strathcarron, L.
Croft, L. Horsbrugh, Bs. Swansea, L.
Daventry, V. Howard of Glossop, L. Thurlow, L.
Denham, L. Hylton-Foster, Bs. Tweedsmuir, L.
Derwent, L. Iddesleigh, E. Vivian, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Ilford, L. Wedgwood, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Inglewood, L. Windlesham, L. [Teller]
Dudley, L. Jessel, L. [Teller] Wolverton, L.
Ebbisham, L. Lloyd of Hampstead, L. Wootton of Abinger, Bs.