HL Deb 15 September 1972 vol 335 cc612-45

11.25 a.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. I think I should attempt to explain it to the House because it is perhaps not altogether an uncomplicated subject. The immediate problem which made the Bill necessary is the future of the Tote, but there is a fairly wide background as well. When my right honourable friend the former Home Secretary first introduced this Bill in another place, he explained that the Government had to decide what course to adopt in the face of a critical financial situation which the Tote then faced, and which indeed threatened its imminent collapse. I shall have more to say about the Tote's finances later. But for the moment it is enough to say that, for a variety of reasons, the Tote's finances are no longer in the critical condition that they were earlier in the year. But the underlying imbalance still remains and the recent improvement, gratifying though it is, cannot be regarded as more than temporary. The same factors still threaten the Tote's future and the purpose of this Bill is to give the Tote the powers it needs to re-establish itself and to safeguard pool betting as a competitive alternative to betting at fixed odds.

When the Tote was first set up in 1928 this was done under the Racecourse Betting Act of that year, and it had the role of operating what was then the relatively novel system of Totalisator betting for the benefit of horse racing. In fact, the Act was initiated by the Jockey Club. But in view of the potential abuses that were involved in the uncontrolled proliferation of this system of betting which at that time was making its appearance in a number of undesirable ways, the Government insisted that the Horserace Totalisator should be a non-profit-making system controlled by a statutory board called the Racecourse Betting Control Board, and that the Board would be responsible for distributing any surpluses for the benefit of horse racing and horse breeding. In fact between 1928 and 1960 the Board contributed a total of some £15 million in various ways to the industry. Since 1960 the Tote has contributed to the levy almost a further £6 million, which makes £21 million altogether, and additional sums above this direct to courses in the form of admission charges and contributions to the commentary fee.

Since 1928 there have been a number of changes in the law concerning betting. Easily the most important one was the legislation for off-course betting shops which was introduced in 1960. The policy underlying these developments has been that betting should be a lawful activity, but subject to controls designed to prevent the total volume of gambling being stimulated to excess and to exclude undesirable or criminal elements. The system of controls is complicated; it is one of checks and balances. In this the Tote itself plays an important part. That part has become even more important as off-course cash betting has developed in the way it has. But it is that very development of off-course cash betting which has threatened the basis of the Tote as it stands at present, and the Tote's freedom to counter these threats has been limited by its statutory powers. So the purpose of this Bill has been to relieve the Tote of many—I emphasise not by any means all—of the restrictions which fetter it to enable it to operate a bit more freely.

The essential interest of the Government in this field is to maintain a form of social control over commercial gambling. Few people in these days regard betting as inherently bad. The law recognises it as a legitimate activity subject to a reasonable system of restraint. The Tote Board is an essential part of this system, and changes in its fortunes over the last few years have weakened the whole system. The most significant thing that emerged during the earlier stages of this Bill in another place, despite all the shades of opinion expressed—and there were a great number of shades of opinion—and the one thing upon which almost everybody was agreed was the need to preserve a strong and viable Totalisator Board. The essential objects of the Bill have always been to maintain the Tote in fair and effective competition with bookmakers in the interests of racing, the punter and, most important of all, of society in general in the way I have explained.

It is perhaps understandable that in its original form the Bill aroused among bookmakers some suspicions—which I think were exaggerated—about the Government's ulterior object. I hope that the Amendments made during the course of the passage of the Bill in another place have served to dispel this. It has never been the Government's intention that the Tote should so merge itself into the bookmaking business that it should become merely one large bookmaker among others, but of course with special privileges in backing. The primary purpose of the Tote is, and will remain, to provide a comprehensive pool betting system and service to the general public as a competitive alternative to betting with the bookmaker. This must surely be apparent from the very title of the organisation, which remains, by statute, the Horserace Totalisator Board. It is in furtherance of this purpose, and also to give the Tote access to the outlets which its pool betting business needs, that the Bill confers upon it the right also to engage in fixed odds betting. The extent to which it is necessary to exercise that right and to invoke other powers in the Bill to support it will depend upon what alternatives can be offered, especially perhaps by the bookmakers themselves. This is particularly relevant to Clause 3. But it was never the intention, and is not now, that the end should be abandoned or obscured in pursuit of the means. It was never intended that the pool betting side of it should be in any way upset or that it should disappear.

The essential value of the Tote is that it provides a method for determining the odds on a race objectively by reflecting the relative amounts of money staked on different horses. This is of course not unlike the bookmakers' own operation, but the calculations there—that is, the bookmakers' calculations—are much more flexible, the bookmaker being anxious to maximise his profits. So the potential exists for the odds to shorten to the disadvantage of the public. Some would contend that this process has started already, and there has for some years been anxiety about the weakness of the on-course market, on which the whole system of starting prices depends. The Government recognised the weight of these anxieties when shortly before the Recess the Chancellor of the Exchequer reduced the rate of on-course betting from 5 per cent. to 4 per cent., so increasing the differential between the on-course and off-course rates to a 2 per cent. gap. At the same time, the Government are satisfied that the continued and strengthened existence of the system of odds resulting from Tote betting is a further essential safeguard.

The threat to that system lay in the fact that the Tote's betting was, partly for historical reasons, largely confined to the credit and on-course markets, both of which are declining; that Totalisator betting demands a costly system of overheads; that the statutory restrictions on the Tote's powers limited the use it could make of its resources; and that the growing off-course cash market has become a virtually closed shop, with the Tote out of it. The Tote was accordingly confined to offering pools on only one kind of business, and limited in the outlets through which it could promote those. Although it had powers to open licensed betting offices off-course, it could only offer pool betting in them, and by itself this business could not be operated at a profit. So the Tote found itself in a statutory and economic straitjacket. The Bill seeks to cure this by greatly enlarging the Tote's powers and by making conditional provision for dealing with the problem of outlets. I do not think I need say any more about the question of the Board's corporate powers, but the question of outlets calls for further explanation.

The two provisions in the Bill as originally introduced which attracted most criticism were the new procedure for dealing with the Tote's applications for licensed betting offices and the unqualified power to help the Tote financially by means of the levy. I shall explain in a moment why it has now been found possible to drop the latter provision from the Bill entirely. As regards the former. this was originally included in the Bill to enable the Tote to acquire off-course outlets of its own, the enlarged powers conferred by Clause 1 making it possible for the Tote to operate these profitably for the first time. The combination of these two provisions was widely misinterpreted as representing an intention on the part of the Government to turn the Tote into yet one more major bookmaker, with incalculable effects for the market. So I hasten to assure this House, as has been done in another place, I think, on many occasions, that this was never the Government's intention, and is not now.

But I am glad to say that the bookmakers did not confine themselves to destructive criticism. They came forward at the same time with constructive proposals for the Tote's pools or at least the jackpot—to be promoted on a much wider scale than hitherto through the bookmakers' own offices. The feasibility of these proposals is currently being examined in the course of negotiations between the bookmakers and the Board. I cannot yet say whether they will result in a satisfactory outcome. But in recognition of the fact that the Government's primary objective may now be obtainable by means other than adding a new chain of licensed offices to those which exist already, the new licensing procedure for Tote offices has been made subject to a commencement order procedure, and will not now be brought into operation unless circumstances show that the Government's objectives cannot be obtained in any other way.


My Lords, I wonder whether it would be appropriate for me to ask the noble Viscount if at some stage in his speech he is going to elucidate further the meaning of the words, on any other event approved by the Secretary of State for the purposes of this paragraph". I ask this not with a view to cramping the noble Viscount's style at all. but simply out of a curiosity, which springs to some extent from interest concerning the extent to which this Bill can be used to provide for such purposes as, for instance, the lottery which financed the Sydney Opera House.


My Lords, I was coming on to some points on the clauses. This of course arises under Clause 1. I shall certainly be able to say something to the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, about this, but I do not think lotteries come into the ambit of the Bill. I was talking about the commencement procedure, and I should like to assure the House that my right honourable friend would regard the activation of Clause 3 as something of a last resort. The procedure is indeed subject to Negative Resolution, so that Parliament will have an opportunity, if desired, of debating the matter again before this change in the law is ever brought into force. This, incidentally, is a very unusual provision for a commencement subsection of this sort, because it will give an opportunity to discuss the policy as well as the actual date of its coming into operation.

The other provision which was much criticised was the access given the Tote to financial support from the levy. When the Bill was introduced the Tote's finances appeared to make this quite unavoidable. At that time the Tote had shown itself quite incapable, for two years past, of making any contributions to the levy, and indeed had ended the previous financial year as much as £250,000 in deficit. It seemed highly probable at that time that it was heading for another deficit in the financial year 1971–72. I am happy to be able to tell your Lordships that this has been avoided; indeed, the figures will show a modest profit. The exact amount of this profit is still provisional; it will be published in the Board's Annual Report, which will be presented to Parliament later in the year.

It is nevertheless clear that we should not be misled by this modest improvement in the Tote's position to conclude that the provisions of this Bill are no longer required. The improvement in the Tote's trading position last year seems to have been due to a combination of causes, aided by good fortune. An arrangement it was able to enter into with a bookmaking firm, City Tote, within the strict limitations imposed upon it by the existing law, has now borne some fruit; savings have been made in operating expenses which I think the House will welcome; fees obtained from bookmakers for authority to offer Tote odds have yielded more than was expected; and the last winter was an unusually fine one, with good racing conditions, so that, although the Board's turnover continued to fall compared with the previous year, it did so by less than had been feared. This was a hard-won improvement for which the Board deserves credit—and my noble friend Lord Mancroft will, I am sure, do his best to keep it up if he can—but it did nothing to remedy the underlying weaknesses of the position of which the low level of turnover compared with earlier years, despite favourable conditions, is perhaps the clearest and most worrying indicator.

The Government have been glad to take advantage of this improvement to delete from the Bill the provisions which empowered the Levy Board to give general financial assistance to the Tote Board. Indeed, the improvement has made it possible to go farther than that. After its primary social role the main objective of the Tote is to devote its surpluses to the benefit of horse racing and breeding by the contributions it makes to the levy. These contributions had to be suspended for the years 1970–71 and 1971–72. The Tote's contribution for the current year, because of the failure of the two Boards—the Tote Board and the Levy Board—to agree, again falls to be determined by the Home Secretary.

The Government have made it quite clear during all the stages of this Bill that it was intended that the Totalisator Board should resume its contributions to the levy as soon as it was able to do so. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has therefore determined in the light of the Totalisator Board's present financial position that it shall pay a contribution of £75,000 to the Levy Board in respect of the levy period beginning on 1st April, 1972. Although this is only a small contribution compared with the amount which the Tote Board was contributing before 1970, it is an indication of the improvement which has already taken place in the Tote Board's fortunes and an earnest of the Government's intention that full contributions shall be resumed as soon as possible.

Now I turn to the substantive provisions in the Bill. Clause 1 enables the Tote Board to conduct pool betting on horse racing abroad as well as in Great Britain and to conduct fixed-odds betting on any sporting event. I do not think this fixed-odds betting would cover the sort of thing which my noble friend Lord Robbins had in mind. Extension of its activities in either pool betting or fixed-odds betting to any further events would require the approval of the Home Secretary. The previous Home Secretary, my right honourable friend, Mr. Maudling, made clear in another place that it is not the Government's intention to enable the Tote Board to undertake pool betting on football pools; nor would the Tote be likely to secure authority to take bets on the outcome of the next General Election. These broad powers are necessary, partly to enable the Tote to offer attractive and lucrative business on other events—for instance, international sporting events—but mainly to ensure that the Tote is not in future prevented from entering into the best possible arrangements for pursuing its primary objectives because this would involve it even indirectly in betting business which falls outside its powers. This provision is essentially an enabling one. It is certainly not designed to turn the Tote from an organisation concerned with pool betting into a bookmaker.


My Lords, may I follow up the inquiry made by the noble Lord, Lord Robbins? Would this affect greyhound racing? Is that one of the sporting events which would be included in these new powers?


My Lords, for greyhound racing there is already a Tote, but that is run by operators of the dog-racing courses; and if the Tote Board wanted to get into that it would have to do so by arrangement with the owners of those courses. This is a possibility, but it certainly would not have any monopoly there and would have to compete with the pool betting which exists.

Clause 2 enables the Home Secretary to appoint members of the Totalisator Board without any limitation as to number, which has previously been the intention.

Clause 3, if brought into force, would enable the Totalisator Board to obtain betting office licences without the application being liable to refusal on the ground of want of local demand, which is the present situation. The justices who authorise betting offices would, however, retain all their other powers relating to such applications unimpaired, and in addition would acquire a new power to refuse the Tote application if they considered that there were already reasonably adequate facilities in their area for betting at offices of the Board. So this is a compromise giving a position not quite so rigid as that which obtains now, but the Board is still given a power to refuse on these grounds. Because the new procedure, and the grant of licences to the Tote under it, might otherwise threaten the continuation of existing licences held in the area by bookmakers when these came to be renewed, or in certain circumstances transferred, a safeguard is introduced in the case of all renewals and transfers by exempting these also from the possibility of refusal on the ground of lack of local demand. As I have already explained, however, the whole clause is subject to a Commencement Order procedure. This will enable Parliament if the need arises—and as matters have developed it seems unlikely to do so—to consider the case for its implementation before this clause is ever brought into operation.

I come to Clause 4, which enables the Totalisator Board to permit the management of a racecourse that is providing sponsored pool betting facilities to retain something more than their expenses from the amounts deducted from total stakes. The second half of the clause also makes clear that the Levy Board's power to distribute the levy for, inter alia, purposes conducive to the improvement of horse-racing includes power to make payments towards the provision of sponsored pool betting facilities on horserace courses. Clause 5 transfers from the Tote Board to the Levy Board the responsibility for approving horserace courses under Section 13 of the Act of 1963 but leaves unchanged the powers conferred by Section 13. Clause 6 enables the functions of the three Government-appointed members of the Levy Board to be exercised by any two of them. It does not affect the extent of their functions in any way but will enable them to despatch their business more expeditiously.

Clause 7 empowers the Levy Board to remit sums owed to it by the Totalisator Board which are outstanding at the time of the passing of the Bill. There is a long-standing debt, dating from the original re-allocation of functions and liabilities between the Tote and Levy Board when they were created out of the Racecourse Betting Control Board in 1961, amounting to £465,000. It may well be sensible for this to be written off. The Levy Board, however, has no power to do so at present, and this clause confers such a power.

My Lords, the Amendments made to this Bill in another place have met much, if not all, of the criticism which has been levelled at the Bill. It has been very thoroughly discussed and considered before reaching your Lordships' House. It is a Bill which sets out to achieve an important social purpose. I hope your Lordships will agree that it is now in a form which may be readily accepted and which will achieve with the minimum of controversy the restoration of a healthy and viable Totalisator Board.


My Lords, before the noble Viscount resumes his seat, may I thank him for his explanation and ask if there would be responsibility for sums of money distributed from time to time as to expenditure and use?


My Lords, I wonder whether if Lord Davies of Leek is to make a speech in the debate he could identify the sums he has in mind. There are many sums of money concerned and it would be easier if he could identify them rather than ask in an intervention about them.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Viscount Colville of Culross.)

11.49 a.m.


My Lords, we are grateful to the noble Viscount for explaining the Bill. I think that we are more indebted to him than the House realises. He has had an unenviable task in presenting what may be called the remnants of a Bill and he has done it in a very interesting way.

I simply cannot claim to have great knowledge of the betting industry. I am not unaware of it, however, and I know a considerable number of people connected with it. My experience of betting at a race meeting was when I was invited by the late Jim Chuter Ede, along with my noble friend Lord Wigg—whose name is not unknown in this context—to be guests of Jim Chuter Ede in his box at Epsom. I perhaps ought to say quickly that horseracing did not occupy a lot of my time, but I am willing to confess that along with Jim Chuter Ede I spent many hours at the Oval, and there we enjoyed the cricket—and being strictly neutral we enjoyed it all the more if Surrey won. Even if they did not win, of course we still enjoyed it. But it was in that context that I remember Jim Chuter Ede, along with his sister, and his love of horseracing and of sport of all kinds.

When this Bill was first introduced in another place, it engendered considerable heat. Indeed, on one occasion during the Second Reading debate in February—I take it this Bill has taken its natural nine months before coming here—it was openly stated that one Member who claimed to have no interest at all in horseracing had sponsored a "booze-up" in another place, so that Members might be brainwashed by the bookmaking fraternity into passing the Bill in an alcoholic haze. This was rich language, but I think it portrays the feeling that then existed, because the proposals in the Bill as originally drafted upset a considerable number of people, rightly or wrongly.

I think that what we have to consider to-day is a Bill which quite frankly was gutted in another place. Indeed, I am told that in both spiritual and temporal circles what is before your Lordships to-day is known as "the gutted version". This may or may not be true, but I think the noble Viscount himself would not deny that the Bill before your Lordships this morning bears little resemblance to the Bill as it was originally drafted. Substantial chunks were removed. If one looks at Clause 6 of this Bill and thinks of the first Bill, one can measure the differences that have taken place. So I think that what the noble Viscount could have done very simply was to say in a few short words why the Bill was introduced, because when it was introduced in another place by Mr. Maudling he said that the Tote had paid for more than its fair share in the past to the Levy Board. Indeed, one of the main reasons for the Bill was to correct what he then thought—and still thinks, I presume—was an imbalance. The opening words on Third Reading of the Parliamentary Secretary in another place were: The main purpose of the Bill was then, as now, to provide for a viable future for the Totalisator Board.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, 7/8/72; col. 1437.] In between these two points of view a considerable amount of discussion has taken place. There is no doubt about the contribution that the Totalisator Board has made to racing. To-day I do not want to take up a great deal of time in your Lordships' House because without being too critical, I do not think the Bill ought to occupy too much time, since it takes us very little further along the road. In fact, having looked at all the proposals I would say that nearly 90 per cent. could have been carried out without an Act of Parliament at all but, merely by administrative processes. But the Bill having been introduced, obviously the Government had to go along with it. I can only think that any speeches that are delivered to-day will not perhaps be on this particular Bill but on what people would have liked to see in it. It may also provide an opportunity for people to give vent to their feelings for or against betting. Otherwise I can see no great purpose at all in the debate. I regret having to say this, but it is my fair and honest estimate of this Bill. So as far as I personally am concerned, I would not care whether the Bill was passed or not, and I certainly would not take any steps to object to its Second Reading.

11.54 a.m.


My Lords, I should like to join in the congratulations which the noble Lord, Lord Hoy, has offered to the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, upon the clarity with which he has presented this Bill. Unfortunately for me, that clarity has only increased the misgivings which I have about the Bill as it is presented to us to-day. I will not use the rather crude phrase which the noble Lord, Lord Hoy, has attributed to certain spiritual sources, "a de-gutted Bill". I would rather say that it is an emasculated Bill, because, so far as I can judge, as a result of the changes made in the Bill in another place it no longer serves the purpose which Mr. Maudling, in introducing it, said it had.

If noble Lords will read the speech of Mr. Reginald Maudling in introducing the Bill on Second Reading, they will see that he used the word "competition" as being the fundamental nature of this Bill; and he said that it was intended to place the Totalisator in a position of competition with the bookmakers. That was, he said, fundamental to the Bill. I hope that in what I have to say to your Lordships I shall be able to show that the element of competition has been almost entirely removed from the Bill. As a result, the many valuable attributions that I would have seen in the original Bill have been removed.

When this Bill was published last November I certainly did not expect to find myself in the position of making a speech about it when it came before your Lordships' House. I have for a long time taken an interest in the whole question and problem of gambling in this country—albeit, I hasten to add, in an academic and detached way—and neither I nor those who are much more experienced and knowledgeable saw anything in the Bill, as it was first presented, to merit great criticism. For we took note that due to financial difficulties, which were largely the result of falling attendances at horseracing courses, Her Majesty's Government had to decide whether they were going to wind up the affairs of the Horserace Totalisator Board or whether they were going to take steps to make it viable. For us this seemed very much a matter for the Government and for those who are interested in horse-racing and betting.

In March, however, as some of your Lordships may be aware, the Churches Council on Gambling—a body which I need not remind your Lordships is very knowledgeable and expert, and brings an extremely measured and commonsense judgment on all matters concerning gambling—published its review, The Facts about the "Money Factories". One of the chapters in this review concerned the social impact of the betting levy; and another chapter dealt with the way in which bookmaking has developed commercially since betting offices were licensed just over 11 years ago. Other chapters—very important chapters, as I think your Lordships will agree—refer to the growing problem of compulsive gambling in society and of the many distresses caused socially by the compulsive gambler.

All this led those of us who were interested to see that there are a number of very real matters of social concern which lie close to the subject matter of this Bill. Noble Lords will remember that before 1961, when most betting in cash off the course was conducted illegally, off-the-course bookmaking was in the hands of a few small firms, and even of individuals who operated their own pitches. Certainly there were some large bookmaking firms, but they dealt mostly in credit or postal betting. Today, the situation has changed enormously, and this is of very great importance to the subject matter of this Bill. There are several combines with anything between 500 and 1,000 betting offices each, and their success and profitability has been so great that some have been made the subject of take over bids by great financial and industrial concerns. The previous Home Secretary had this development in mind, apparently, when he introduced this Bill. I believe that it does represent his view, and I hope that it represents the view of Her Majesty's Government. It would be very disturbing if this field were left completely open to the bookmaking industry, especially in view of the way in which it has developed. We ought to add, in our recollection of this, that most of these larger bookmaking concerns have increasing holdings in gaming and in bingo clubs, as well as in gaming machines, and we should remember in this connection that the Gaming Board for Great Britain has said that anything approaching a monopoly in the field of gambling should be viewed with very great concern.

Were that the only danger I do not think it would be necessary to utter a grave note of warning in your Lordships' House, because Her Majesty's Ministers and many noble Lords keep a watchful eye on such things. But in thinking about this Bill we ought to have in mind the social consequences. I appreciate that it is very difficult to judge what these are, but there are certain pointers, and we ought to bear them in mind in our discussion. Many people will be aware that whereas for several years after the Betting Levy Act bookmakers scarcely provided £2 million a year for the betting levy, they are now providing £5 million a year. Probably not so many people realise how this has been achieved, and fewer still will know the probable results of the methods used or the way in which they relate to this Bill, so I ask for the patience of the House if I try to make this clear.

In the first years, from 1962, bookmakers had to pay a fixed sum on their premises and were then levied according to the scale of profit they made in any year from horserace betting. From 1968 this was altered and off-course bookmakers were primarily levied on their turnover on horserace betting. This was made possible when a duty based on turnover was introduced in 1967. In 1969 the rate of levy was doubled, and I am told that it now averages about one-half of 1 per cent. of bookmakers' turnover. This would by itself have resulted in an increased levy. But in the same year, 1969, the Horserace Betting Levy Board implemented what it called its expansionist policies. The success of these policies depended on the fact that the commentary from the course is provided in betting offices. This commentary gives not merely a description of the race but also a commentary on the way in which the odds on a particular horse are fluctuating prior to the race. Immediately after each race the results are announced and the winnings are paid. In order to exploit this situation and take advantage of it the Board made sure that, whenever possible, there were two race meetings in the afternoons from Monday to Friday, and provided racecourses with prize money in order to promote an extra meeting. Previously, on most days there had been only one meeting a day, and sometimes none at all. Furthermore, it was arranged that races should alternate in their starting times, first one on one course and then one on another, so that that the interval between races was only a quarter of an hour and not half an hour.

My Lords, the report to which I have referred, The Facts about Money Factories, was written by the Secretary to the Churches Council on Gambling, the Rev. Gordon Moody, who knows the inside of betting offices—though I understand in a non-contributory sense—and also knows personally, and as a friend, many hundreds of compulsive gamblers and their families.

He said in that report— The point to be noted is neither the desirability of the betting levy nor its size. It concerns the social consequences of having betting offices open in racing hours, allowing in them relayed broadcasts from the course giving betting information prior to the race, a description of the race itself, and the result as soon as it is known, with immediate payment of winnings, together with an arrangement of horserace meetings designed to maximise betting. These conditions generate an atmosphere dangerous to those in whom gambling has passed, or is passing, the point of control. Such people make up a far greater proportion of the population of betting offices during racing hours than they do of the betting population as a whole. He went on to say: A betting office has one ethos out of racing hours and quite another during racing hours. In racing hours the conditions encourage gamblers to chase their losses and re-stake their winnings until often they are lost. The present conditions intensify this. When races follow each other at short intervals the commentary is practically ceaseless and the atmosphere of involvement in continuous betting complete. These policies are succeeding, my Lords. This can be shown from the reports of Her Majesty's Customs and Excise which record the duty derived from betting turnover.

As I have said, the betting duty was first applied at the end of 1966, so that 1967 was the first full year of its application. Recorded betting turnover declined by £112 million from 1967 to the financial year 1968–69. There is no need to go into details, but the imposition of the duty tended both directly and indirectly to reduce recorded turnover. Reductions were made by bookmakers from punters' winnings to pay the duty, so there was less money to be re-staked. Also, as bookmakers have asserted, some bets were taken by people acting illegally, and no duty was paid on these. Further, many legal actions instituted by Her Majesty's Customs and Excise showed that bookmakers actually suppressed quantities of losing betting slips to avoid paying duty on them.

In 1968, the betting duty was doubled from 2½ to 5 per cent., so that the decline in recorded turnover ought to have accelerated. Instead, from 1969 the opposite occurred. In that year, the Horserace Betting Levy Board implemented its expansionist policies and betting turnover increased, and it has continued to do so. From 1968–69 to 1971–72 it has increased by £270 million. It fell from 1967 to 1968–69 by just over 9 per cent. It rose from 1968–69 to 1971–72 by 24 per cent. That is for the whole of betting—on-course and off-course. The case with off-course betting, mainly in betting offices, is much more striking. The fall from 1967 to 1968–69 was less—8.5 per cent., as against just over 9 per cent.; and the increase from 1968–69 to 1971–72 is greater—30 per cent., as against 24 per cent.

These expansionist policies are designed to get more money out of gamblers in order to increase the horserace levy, and they have increased the volume of gambling at the same time. This is a stimulation of gambling. It operates as a tax on human weakness. It would have had no effect if we were dealing solely with the genuinely occasional or the genuinely controlled gamblers, but the impact is falling upon those who are so weak that they are falling into the temptations of compulsive gambling.

I hope your Lordships will agree that these are very serious matters indeed, both for society and for the individuals who are concerned. I do not in any way attribute evil intentions to the Horserace Betting Levy Board, and I am equally sure that no horserace owner wants to receive additional prize money at the expense of the distressed families of compulsive gamblers. But that in fact is what is happening. The reason why those who are interested in this subject would have supported the Bill as originally introduced is that if it had proved successful these policies might well have been revised. Before the Horserace Totalisator Board encountered its present financial difficulties, it contributed, proportionately to its turnover, vastly more to the Horse-race Betting Levy Board than the bookmakers did or are doing.

In most countries where off-course betting is legalised and is expected to support horseracing as well, it is almost always operated in a Totalisator or a pari-mutuel form. Noble Lords may be interested to know that in Great Britain in 1970–71 a duty of 6 per cent. of turnover was paid from off-course betting and a 0.5 per cent. levy was also paid for horseracing. In France in 1971 13.4 per cent. was paid to the State, and 4.6 per cent. to racing societies. In 1970—the latest figures we have for New Zealand—9.4 per cent. was paid to the State and 4.3 per cent. to racing clubs. I do not want to suggest that the off-course bookmaking system should be replaced entirely by a Totalisator system, but if the Bill had succeeded in its intention and the Totalisator had become viable and sufficiently strong to make substantial payments to the Horserace Betting Levy Board, the present expansionist policies could have been controlled and possibly reversed. The Bill would then have served a very useful social purpose. However, as the noble Lord, Lord Hoy, pointed out, the Bill has not remained in its original form and there are now grave doubts as to its usefulness socially.

I am not quite clear yet, despite the speech of the noble Viscount, what form the revised Totalisator Board is now proposed to take. Orginally, as the previous Home Secretary made clear when he moved the Second Reading of the Bill in February in another place, the intention was to permit the Tote to open, say, a few hundred offices over a period of years. For that purpose Clause 5 was included to enable the Totalisator Board to obtain betting office licences more easily. The previous Home Secretary said that the Board would find it exceedingly difficult, particularly without capital, which it did not possess, to buy its way with artificial prices into that very tightly held market. He explained that the original Clause 5 was to empower the Levy Board to assist the Totalisator Board by grants and loans. He said the object was to enable the Totalisator to equip itself with working capital which it had to have if it was to be properly competitive in the future. The Minister of State at the Home Office, when he wound up the debate, said that the Totalisator had to be given power to operate with much more commercial freedom than it had at present. It had to be given access to the off-course market, and it had to have capital to enable it to implement its plans. Originally, then, the Board was to open betting offices and so market its pools in competition with the bookmaking industry.

Clause 5, the clause which was to provide the capital, has now been dropped. I understand that the reason for doing so is that, as the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross said, the Tote is beginning to make a profit and therefore will be able to finance anything that it wants to do. The noble Viscount has warned us that it is by no means a certainty that the modest profit this year will continue. The Tote made a loss in previous years and if it is, as we have been told, the intention of the Bill that the Totalisator should open betting shops and go into competition, then it will need very large sums of money and may need them very quickly. I cannot understand why Clause 5 of the original Bill has been dropped. It was an extremely simple and very inoffensive clause. It simply said that the Levy Board should have the power to give financial assistance to the Totalisator Board, whether by way of grants, loans, guarantees, or otherwise. I understand that the Tote needs a great deal of money not only for the buying and equipping of betting shops, but for many other good purposes. I very much hope that Clause 5 will go back into the Bill so as to give the possibility of help to the Totalisator.

The provisions of the Bill, as it was first published, were strongly opposed by bookmakers because they feared the competition of the Tote. As we have been reminded by the noble Lord, Lord Hoy, their case was very strongly represented in another place. Great pressure was brought upon the Government to allow the Levy Board to help the Totalisator Board financially. But that clause has now been dropped and the clause giving preference to the Totalisator Board in securing a licence for its first betting office in any area has been made the subject of a Commencement Order presumably so that the results from negotiations between the Tote and the bookmakers can be seen.


My Lords may I interrupt the right reverend Prelate? May I ask how it is that he supports Clause 5 (the clause that has been dropped) which would make betting easier through Totalisator offices, and therefore spread betting, and yet makes the statement that he deplores the increase in betting during the past three years?


My Lords, I can answer the noble Lord by saying that I support the creation of betting offices by the Totalisator Board because I believe that the stronger the Tote is the more control there will be over gambling, and the more control over the expansionist policies which have resulted in very serious social consequences.

The bookmakers are very pleased with what has been done to the original Bill in another place. I do not normally include the Sporting Life in my reading, but my attention has been drawn to an article which appeared on August 10 and which is headed, "The bill for making the Bill harmless". This draws attention to the cost to the bookmakers for their having been able to make the Bill harmless. The article starts: The bookmakers' fight against the Government, the Home Office and the Tote has achieved its main objective and now comes the cost of defraying the cost. It continues: The now virtually harmless Horserace Totalisator and Betting Levy Board leaves the Bookmakers' Action Committee with certain consequential problems. Sporting Life clearly attributes what has happened to the Bill in another place to the campaign which the bookmakers had been waging against it. Now, so I understand, negotiations are taking place between the Totalisator Board and the bookmakers as a whole. Indeed, in some of the negotiations in some of the stages of the Bill in another place Members of Parliament spoke as if agreement had already been clearly arrived at. I do not know whether or not that is the case, but one's suspicion is that the Totalisator Board will not avail itself of Clause 1 at all; that is, to conduct fixed odds betting as if it were a bookmaker; that it will not open betting offices at present but that it will market its pools through the bookmakers' betting offices.

Such arrangements as I have outlined could well result in the recovery of the Totalisator Board financially. But they are also likely to result in the strengthening of the bookmakers, including the giant bookmaking chains, because of the general attractiveness of betting which will be now available and because they are extending the opportunities of pool betting in a betting shop. When the previous Home Secretary spoke in the Second Reading debate in another place he said, as I have reminded your Lordships, that the Bill was to put the Totalisator in a position to compete—I repeat, to compete—fairly with the bookmakers. Will such arrangements, if indeed they are going to happen, be called competition? Rather I suggest to your Lordships that this is going to be cooperation, and I cannot now have the same hopes that it will prepare the way for a realistic appraisal of the social consequences from the way in which betting is organised and is moving in these days.

None the less, I am grateful to have the opportunity of airing my concern about current developments in the betting field which are relevant to this Bill. In previous years some of us were inclined to consider that the moral decision might be whether or not to open betting offices a all or to legalise some forms of gambling or not. Experience may be teaching us that, if sufficient people wish to gamble, then it is proper for the Government to legalise it but that there is a socially important aspect of all this and a moral decision therefore has to be made when it is decided in what way gambling shall be legalised. Countries which take a more sophisticated view are often wiser than we are in these matters and by encouraging a non-proprietary Totalisator they provide facilities for betting for those who want them, taking the maximum proportion in levy and duty but seeking to contain gambling rather than to stimulate it.

My Lords, the comment "I told you so" is a tiresome one and I do not propose to indulge in it, except to remind your Lordships that on at least one occasion previously over the gaming legislation the Churches Council on Gambling warned the Government of a serious gap in their proposals. That warning went unheeded and chaos followed with serious social consequences on a wide scale, and we had to have that long debate over the new Gaming Act which has now brought some sense and order into the situation. Unless the Government implement their original intentions in the Bill of providing betting shops in competition with the bookmakers, and so exercising governmental control and restraint to some degree, I greatly fear that we shall have need to meet on some occasion in this House to consider these matters again and we shall have to do so, unfortunately, under the pressure of the social distress caused by commercially stimulated gambling when it has reached such a stage that it cannot be further ignored.

12.25 p.m.


My Lords, I was proposing to begin by saying that those whose experience in recent weeks has driven them to a state of despair in thinking that Governments can never be persuaded to change their minds about anything, would be heartened if they were to compare this Bill as it was presented originally to the other place with this Bill as it emerges from the other place, because that comparison indicates that this Government, on this occasion at any rate, have changed their mind very considerably indeed. But then what happens? The noble Lord, Lord Hoy, says that all we have here is the remnants of a Bill, and the right reverend Prelate says we have an emasculated Bill. I suppose the answer is that between General Elections a Government cannot win.

However, my Lords, I was going to refer in detail to only one aspect of the Bill, and that is the power given to the Tote to operate as a bookmaker as well as a Tote; and to suggest that this power might lead to consequences which Parliament has never intended and would not approve of unless we have a further proviso inserted into the Bill. The Tote under its new power I suppose may feel its way carefully into operating as a bookmaker. It may find that this venture is promising and successful. It may find that bookmaking is more profitable to it than running pools, and it may gradually, I suppose, start reducing the number of pools that it operates on horseraces and increasing the amount of bookmaking on horseracing that it does. So far as I can see, the Tote would be perfectly within its powers to do this because, although it is given power to operate pools, it is under no obligation, as I understand it, to operate a pool upon every horserace. It does do so, but then of course that is because at present the only form of betting that the Tote is empowered to use is pool betting and if it did not run a pool on a horserace it could not bet on that horserace at all.

It is clear from the speech of the Minister in opening this debate that it is not intended at present, at any rate, that the number of pools that the Tote runs should be reduced. I took down one or two phrases from the Minister's speech. He referred to a comprehensive pool betting service which was to continue, and he said that it is not intended to turn the Tote into a bookmaker. So I have no immediate fears. I do not suppose the present Tote Board under the present Government would in any event start reducing the number of pools that it operates and simply do bookmaking instead. But we have to consider what other Tote boards might do under future Governments. A Tote board is as entitled to look to its own commercial best interest as is anybody else, and if a future Tote board thought that it was going to do better commercially by reducing the number of its pools and increasing the amount of bookmaking that it did, then what would there be to stop it from taking that course? All I say about that is that it would be entirely contrary to the intention of Parliament as expressed in all the legislation regarding the Tote, which has always been regarded by Parliament as being required to give a full betting alternative to bookmaking, and that it would be wrong therefore if the Tote were to cease to operate pools in favour of bookmaking. Therefore, I suggest that we need in Committee to insert a proviso to make quite clear that on any event upon which the Tote operates as a bookmaker it shall give equal facilities for pool betting on that event in order to keep faith with Parliament's intention that it should primarily be a pool betting concern.

12.30 p.m.


My Lords, in rising to support this Bill, which I do wholeheartedly, I must say that I would not have done so if it had arrived in your Lordships' House in the form in which it originally appeared in the House of Commons. I thought it extremely unfair that the money derived from bookmakers should go to bolster up the Tote Board, because the money provided by the bookmakers from their clients should be for the betterment of racing and breeding and not to bolster up an alternative organisation. At the same time I think we all wanted to see a strong Totalisator Board. It was my noble relative, the late Lord Glyn (then the honourable Ralph Glyn, M.P.) who piloted that Bill through the House of Commons in 1928 on behalf of the Jockey Club. He did so as a Private Member, and it was then considered to be a considerable achievement that he was able to pilot that Bill at least through its Second Reading, after which I think he did have some Government assistance. That Bill set up betting on racecourses for cash only.

As the Minister has rightly told us, the position has changed tremendously. Until a few years ago the Tote Board was able to pay a considerable amount (I think, as he told us, it was about £250,000 a year) and from 1928 to 1972 it provided over £21 million, but in the last two years it ran into considerable financial difficulties. It had to be let off paying its levy, which I think was about a quarter of a million pounds a year, and it also made a trading loss of about a quarter of a million pounds a year. So it is gratifying to know now that attendance at racecourses is once again increasing, that it has made a modest profit this year and it will be able to contribute £75,000 again for the betterment of racing. This sum of £5 million which the Levy Board extract from the bookmakers, and the £75,000 which it will get from the Board is needed to keep the sport in a healthy condition. Tremendous improvements have been made in racecourse construction and in breeding, and also in prize money, which is very important to keep the sport in a healthy condition. It seemed to me to be quite wrong that the Levy Board should have to finance the Tote Board. Unfortunately, in the original Act no provision was made that the Government of the day should give the Tote Board any financial help if it got into difficulties. However now it has got out of the red and is to be allowed to run pool betting, if it so desires, we hope it will go from strength to strength.

In saying these few words may I—as I am sure the whole House would like to do—wish my noble friend Lord Mancroft all success in the job that he has taken on as the new Chairman of the Tote Board. It is undoubtedly an uphill task, but I am sure he is pleased to know that the Board is now out of the red. I think this Bill will do some good. I think that answers the point made by the right reverend Prelate; it really was unfair to leave in the original financial clause that the Levy Board was supposed to finance the Tote Board. It is not; it is supposed to help in the betterment of racing and breeding.

In conclusion, may I also pay my respects to the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, who is shortly to retire from the Levy Board after, I believe, six years in office. He has done a great job for the racing industry and I am sure we are all indebted to him. I hope this Bill will do some good in carrying on the fortunes of the Tote Board, which I am sure we all want to see continued.

12.35 p.m.


My Lords, I apologise to the House for not putting down my name to speak, but the noble Lord on the Front Bench was kind enough to suggest that I might wish to develop this question. He was also kind enough to admit that the question was so broad that he was unable to answer it in a general way. Since then I have checked up and I am satisfied with an answer that I have received, and consequently I will not detain the House in expanding on that.

While I can never hope to know as much about this part of human activity—racing—as the noble Lord who has just spoken, I should like to link my name with his kind remarks about the work done by my noble friend Lord Wigg in this field, and for racecourses. I do happen to know about that. I should like also to endorse the speech made by my noble friend on the Front Bench. Quite frankly, as it stands I do not think that this "emasculated Bill", to use the language of the right reverend Prelate, has any purpose.

I will sit down after giving one little warning. The prosperity of the racecourse is due in no small measure to the vital power of television in portraying racecourses. Nobody is against human beings' enjoying being able to see these magnificent and beautiful beasts in their racing, but I have been most concerned about the vast sums of money involved. Like other noble Lords I have appreciated what this country has done in breeding horses, and I want to make sure that the vast sums of money which are available for distribution do go towards a constructive effort in breeding; because if we are going into Europe, and with other parts of the world growing nearer, there is a vast legitimate income to this country in the judicious use of the knowledge in this country in connection with breeding. So I am concerned that more money than previously has been the case should be put into this activity.

With those brief remarks I think it would now be judicious of me to reiterate that the excellent speech made by my noble friend on the Front Bench hit the nail on the head. I do not think that we should have had this Bill in its present form, but nevertheless in Committee we may be able to make one or two constructive changes.

12.39 p.m.


My Lords, I shall not detain your Lordships for more than two or three minutes but I should like to make a personal explanation. I am not a betting man: I think I have laid about three bets in the course of a long life, and my general attitude to this Bill has been admirably summed up by the declaration of comparative indifference made by the noble Lord, Lord Hoy. However, I should like to confess to a certain ulterior purpose in the question which I put to the noble Viscount when he was making his introductory remarks. I sought elucidation of the sentence in question in Clause 1 because I cherish the hope that perhaps by subtle legal manipulation this might be the way of inserting the thin end of an utterly non-dangerous and non-anti-social wedge.

I submit that in regard to the general question of placing money on matters of chance we have reached a position which, viewed in the large, is totally ridiculous. We licence bookmakers, nationalise the operations of the Totalisator and enlarge its scope to make it more profitable; the Chancellor of the Exchequer issues premium bonds and surrounds their issue with all the glamour of possible dreams of opulence, increased social elbow room and the rest; but we do not allow lotteries for decent social purposes under decent social control. Because of that many of us must spend a great deal of time lobbying Ministers and wealthy potential donors in the shape of individuals and corporations for money which could be raised in a trust if it were done under some Governmental organisation in the shape of lotteries. I therefore very much regret the reply which the noble Viscount gave when he said that he could not conceive that the organisation of lotteries could by any means be brought within the working of this Bill.

12.41 p.m.


My Lords, this Bill has had a slightly mixed reception from noble Lords. At the stage when my noble friend Lord Wolverton was making his most welcome speech, I detected on the face of the noble Lord, Lord Hoy, that well-known Front Bench smile which comes over those who have heard a Bill criticised on the one hand and applauded on the other, in the one case for not going nearly far enough and in the other for being exactly right, and it is then that one feels that one has perhaps not done too badly on balance after all. This may be an occasion when something of that sort can be said to exist in the outcome of the discussions in another place. I hope the noble Lord will forgive me if he thought that my introductory speech was too long.


My Lords, I did not say that.


My Lords, I am glad to know that. I thought that the House required an explanation of the Bill because it is not by any means straightforward.


My Lords, I should not like there to be any misunderstanding. I was seeking to commend the noble Viscount for making his speech so long and interesting with what he had at his disposal.


My Lords, that backhander is very welcome indeed. The noble Lord and the right reverend Prelate discussed the surgical operations which this Bill has undergone and indicated that in their view they have been extremely severe. I agree that the emphasis has changed, but it is fair to say that it has changed so as to result in a Bill which is not quite as feeble and useless as some noble Lords have indicated. Perhaps I may be forgiven for not going into quite the broad range of items on which the right reverend Prelate touched, and the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek to some extent mentioned some of those points. In no way do I wish to discount the seriousness and enormous interest of the speeches that have been made on the broader issues, but I do not believe that this Bill is the vehicle, because it is comparatively limited, for the wide-ranging changes that some people would like to see made in this matter. All the same, it was encouraging to hear the right reverend Prelate say that he understood that the Government were keeping an eye on the dangers he mentioned. We certainly try to do that, and the information that he has given will be studied, if it is not already well known by my Department. It is, of course, always a good thing to learn from as well informed a body as that referred to by the right reverend Prelate, particularly if it was right in 1960 and had to have its views accepted subsequently.

All the same, I have a feeling that one must recognise what it is possible to do under this Bill. I have said that it is the intention of the Government that there should be no wholesale embarkation on the off-course betting office fixed-odds market by the Board. The day-to-day policy both for this Board and for the Levy Board is of course a matter for the members of the Boards; the Government cannot direct them. What I am particularly glad to note is that my noble friend Lord Mancroft has been here throughout the debate and has therefore heard every word that has been spoken. I join in the welcome which noble Lords have given to him because I am sure that, difficult though I believe the job to be, he is a marvellous person to have taking it on. At the same time we are all indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Wigg—I regret that he is not in his place at the moment but perhaps he will read my words in the OFFICIAL REPORT—because for all these years he has done a very fine job indeed for racing, as everyone connected with this subject knows. Here we have two noble Lords, one with a contribution already established and another eminently suitable to make as good a contribution in the years to come. My noble friend Lord Mancroft has heard these remarks and I am glad of his presence.

I draw the attention of your Lordships to that exceedingly thorny subject in this House, the Annual Reports of the Boards, and there are therefore possibilities in these circumstances for Parliament to express a view on the activities of these Boards. In this connection, I suggest that the whole realm of competition has not been entirely understood by everybody, and it might be helpful if I commented on the subject. It is of course within the powers of the Bill for the Board to go into the betting office business, but one thing I gleaned from the speech of the right reverend Prelate was that he would like to see the Tote extend its influence and the control it brings. But to do that we must have a Tote. It is no use letting the Tote die, and to keep the Tote going is what this Bill has in view, at any rate at the moment.

Exactly how the Tote keeps going is a matter for the day-to-day policy of the Board, but within the sort of intentions which I have expressed. At the moment negotiations are going on for competition of a certain sort to come through the bookmakers, so that they may offer through their own betting offices some of the pools that the Tote can offer to the public. That is one way of doing it, but it may prove not to be satisfactory. The negotiations are not concluded, and we have power in Clause 3 if necessary to allow them to go further than that. If that were to happen and they went further than that, they would not be doing only what they are doing now. At present, or until the City Tote deal, the Board had their own off-course offices, but under the law they could offer only the pools; they could not offer fixed odds. This caused economic dissatisfaction with the arrangements because that offer alone was not enough to bring the public to resort to those offices. We envisage that there may be occasions when they want to add to that by having other sorts of betting on offer at their offices. At the moment it is being done by this arrangement with the City Tote and it appears to be working satisfactorily.

There is another form of competition. It is not just a question of going into competition with bookies. There is competition of the sort of odds that are offered as competition between the starting price, fixed odds, by the bookies and really competitive pool odds offered by the Tote. The idea, equally valid in terms of competition, is that the Tote should be able to get to the public widely a really attractive system of pools, with, of course, the benefits that come from this whole system. That is inherent in the Bill. There are therefore two forms of competition, and the second form is what the present negotiations are intended to achieve. Thus, in the terms of that realm of competition, here is something worth having under the Bill and under the negotiations as they stand.

When one comes to talk about what used to be Clause 5 and its excision from the Bill, one has to remember that one of the advantages would have been not necessarily that the Levy Board would have provided capital but that the power of the Levy Board to provide capital might have given credit to the Tote Board to be able to raise the money for itself. In present circumstances if it is making a profit—as it now mercifully is —and if in the future it continues to make a profit it may be able to raise the credit out of its own resources and there will be no question of asking for it from the Levy Board should it be necessary to go into the business of buying betting shops and renting them on its own. But the removal of Clause 5 in the present circumstances is not so bleak and utter a disaster as noble Lords may think.


My Lords, I would point out that in the last return the profits shown are exceptionally small, only a matter of a couple of hundred thousand pounds. If anybody was going in for that type of investment it would require not a couple of hundred thousand pounds but something in the realm of millions of pounds. Therefore I cannot see that change taking place.


My Lords, that is perfectly true; I appreciate that. It would be millions of pounds very probably but I do not think it is all black and all white. I believe that there is a vast grey area in the middle which has not been perhaps entirely appreciated.


My Lords, before the noble Lord leaves this part of his speech, is it still the policy of Her Majesty's Government, as Mr. Reginald Maudling said, to go into competition possibly by opening 100 betting offices which would put them something on a par with one of the big combines? And if that is the policy, where is the money to come from when, as the noble Lord, Lord Hoy, pointed out, the credit of the Tote Board in the City will not be very attractive if there are only going to be modest profits which, as the noble Lord has told us, may even have disappeared in future years and the money is not to be available from the Board?


No, my Lords, I do not think it is the intention at the moment that this sort of change would be started up. The existing offices have been rented to City Tote under the arrangements which I think are well known, and the whole point of the negotiations at present going on is to get the sort of competition I was talking about, the wide availability of the Tote odds, the pool, through the other betting offices which are already in existence. That is the line being taken at the moment and it would only be if failure on those approaches were to take place—and one hopes that it would not—that one would have to start thinking of different policies. I do not think that is the intention any more: it may have been originally, but not now.

I should like to say a word about the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Airedale. I rather doubt whether, having heard the noble Lord, Lord Hoy—and he was supported by his noble friend Lord Davies of Leek—there would be any danger of another Government of that complexion moving away from the sort of policy that the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, would want. I believe that possibly his point of view might even be reinforced by noble Lords opposite if they were in power. Therefore, we have a Board strong and reliable and two political Parties who are probably not very far apart on this issue. What I should like to do is to consider the point the noble Lord made about requiring a pool on any event where the Board was proposing to offer fixed odds. He was good enough to give me notice of this point and I have not failed to take advantage of that. But there are fairly substantial practical difficulties about requiring this, particularly in the field of dog-racing where somebody else already has a statutory monopoly and it is necessary to negotiate one's way in. What I should like to do is to consider this and if the noble Lord would like to come and talk to me about it I should be glad to do so. It is an interesting possibility but not one which is as straightforward as at first sight it may appear.


My Lords, my thought was that the Tote must exercise its statutory monopoly. If the Tote does not operate a pool on a horserace nobody can because the Tote has the monopoly. It has the power but not the obligation and if it decided on a particular race meeting, "We will operate only as bookmakers and we will close the pools", nobody would be running the pools.


My Lords, if the noble Lord is confining it to horseracing, where it does indeed have the monopoly, that is another matter. Perhaps I could consider this. It is a detailed point and I rather think the local government phalanges are massing outside waiting for me to stop.

Finally, the speeches of the noble Lords, Lord Davies of Leek and Lord Robbins, are, I am afraid, self-cancelling because the situation is this: the sort of lottery that the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, was talking about I think could have been attached to a sporting event. In that case, theoretically at any rate, it would be within the powers of the Tote Board to run a pool on it. It would have to be on a specific event; you cannot have it as a general lottery. But the snag from the point of view of the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, is the advantage from the point of view of the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, and that is that any surplus the Tote Board achieves after paying its expenses has to go to the Levy Board and cannot go for building opera houses. The Levy Board uses it, as the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, knows and I think welcomes, for improving racecourses and particularly for improving breeding. Therefore we would need massive rethinking before we could do anything in the way of adaptation for the purpose of the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, and in doing so we should run headlong into the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek. Therefore, I am afraid that at the moment the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, wins on this. The horse breeding element is strengthened and supported by the viability and economic success of the Tote but I regret that this must be at the expense of any subtle insinuation of artistic matters in the way the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, was suggesting to us.

My Lords, I hope that that deals justly with the interesting and most helpful speeches made. Even if they were not all enthusiastic they were all constructive and I am very glad to have had a chance of listening to them.


My Lords, before the noble Lord concludes his speech—I am very sorry to interrupt him again and I do assure him that I am not trying to make things difficult—may I point out that he has not referred in any way to the very important social consequences of the expansionist policy of the Levy Board such as I referred to in my speech. Does he not think that, if it is going to be that the Tote will in the first place seek its opportunities through services that are provided by the bookmaking industry, this is not competition but is co-operation which is going to increase the attractiveness of the betting shop? Will he give this aspect of the matter very careful consideration when we come to consider the Bill at further stages?


My Lords, I am in some difficulty about this. The question of competition as stated in that way by the right reverend Prelate is one way of looking at it, but this is a philosophy which has two sides. I understand the point of view of those like the right reverend Prelate who take this view, but this is a Bill of limited scope and I really do not believe that we can start writing into it major directions as to the way in which the Levy Board exercises its power. This is an enabling Bill primarily for the Tote Board, and to start to write in major governmental directives of a policy nature is something I would strongly suspect is outside the scope of the Bill. What is important in a debate like this is that we have an opportunity for Members of this House to express their views, their strong sincere and, I am sure, very important views, on the day-to-day operation of these boards. That is the way to get over to the boards the sort of attitude that noble Lords think they should take. It cannot be done in a Bill of this sort. You cannot have boards of this character set up and run by responsible, knowledgeable people and then have Parliament tell them all the time what policy they are to adopt. What I hope is that the right reverend Prelate's speech will be looked at by the Levy Board itself and certainly will be looked at by my Department, but not in such a way as to dictate to the Board.


My Lords, may I assure the noble Viscount that I do not want to do that. All I ask is that the Government should return to the Bill as originally presented. Many of us feel that the alterations made to the Bill are in fact providing these great changes which the noble Viscount himself says should not take place.


My Lords, I have to confess to the House that I should be in the very greatest difficult in trying to revert to the Bill as originally introduced, and I strongly suspect that I cannot give the right reverend Prelate any undertaking at all in encouragement. I am afraid this is beyond the bounds of Parliamentary possibility at this juncture. I very much regret that, but that is the cruel fact of the matter.

On Question, Bill Read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.