§ 4.40 p.m.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
My Lords, I wish I thought that this Bill was going through at the same hectic speed as the previous business. It is, of course, essentially concerned with the question of rates, and one only has to mention that word at this particular moment to bring to mind the great wail that has gone up all over the country about astronomical increases and the great burden that is being imposed on many people, to the extent that they are beginning to say that they can hardly bear it. For many years, really very many years, people have searched for alternative sources of local income other than the rating system as we know it, or possibly methods of supplementing it from different sources run in conjunction with rates. Nothing, so far, has emerged except for an increasing tendency for central Government to take over the financial burden of local government expenditure. That, incidentally, always tends in its turn to weaken the local autonomy of the authorities themselves. Until the day before yesterday (or was it Monday?) the figures were that out of a total this year of £5,600 million spent by local authorities, £3,400 million came from central Government, which is well over half, and of the remaining sums £1,100 million came from householders all over the country. I am not certain what the effect of the mini-Budget will have been on those figures, but whatever it is it is only a short term palliative and certainly not intended to be a long-term reorganisation.
My right honourable friend the Member for Crosby was at the Department of the Environment in a very senior capacity in the last Government, and he knew as well as anyone else, and probably better, how much it was desired to find some method of providing some additional local revenue; and when he did rather well in the lottery, I suppose it is, in another place whereby Private Members draw then-Bills, he decided to try to do something to help. Of course, this is a particularly apposite moment to do it, when local authority expenditure is rising fast. I cannot see any hope of this rise stopping because inflation attacks local government; increased salaries apply there, too, 1936 and there is really no prospect, I think, of a major cut-back in this form of expenditure. What is likely to go is all ! expenditure except on the very basic essentials. There will be paring back; there will be economies, and in general it is going to be a period of very tight money for local government.
All those who spoke in another place on this Bill at its various stages seemed to be in agreement at least on this point; that something needed urgently to be done. What this Bill does is to give to all local authorities at every level, from the biggest down to the parish and community councils, an optional method of supplementing their rate revenue. I say optional; they do not have to do it; they can do it if they wish and they can do it to such extent as they wish. They can do it in order to provide for specific projects of which they give notice in advance. The lottery, if it is to be run at all, is to be designed to achieve a certain purpose, and I will come to the kind of things that are in mind in a moment.
The Bill, therefore, allows such a local lottery not more than once a month and with a limit on the proceeds. The limit is either £6 million or 10 per cent. of the rateable value of the whole of the local authority in question. In fact I think I am right in saying that the £6 million will apply only to a comparatively small number of large local authorities, 34 counties, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Leeds, the Greater London Council, three London boroughs and the City. I think that is all. The others proportionately will have lower limits based on the 10 per cent. of their rateable value. Of course, in the case of parishes, although some are bigger than others, the limit would presumably be very small. That is one limitation upon the way in which these lotteries are to be run.
But there is another very important limitation, upon which the Government insisted in another place, and I am sure rightly, which is to be found in Clause 1(2)(b) and 1(3), whereby regulations are to be made; and the purpose of these regulations is to lay down some common standards for a number of things. For instance. it is thought right that there should be common standards on advertising, on preventing sales to children, on restricting the points where tickets may be sold and on restricting methods of 1937 distribution; controlling the people employed on this project and methods of remunerating them, and control of house-to-house sales and things of that sort. There are, of course, further possibilities for local rules to be made, but the idea at least is that central Government should provide these basic ground rules.
The proceeds are to go for a purpose which the local authority in question can choose, and they have the opportunity to choose, whenever they like, as often as they like, the sort of things they would like to spend them on. It is thought that they will really be some of the supplementary items. They will not spend it on basic services; they will spend it on some of the amenities, and some of the more pleasant things which are likely to be cut out in a financial economy drive, So there it is; the local government body itself will be able to choose what it wishes to spend the money on. In fact if one looks at Clause 2, it does not say so specifically, but there was no doubt in the discussion in another place that what everybody had in mind was the sort of thing I have just suggested.
There have also been some other methods of regulation imported, largely as a result, I think, of the Government's views on this matter, and perhaps the most important of them is bringing in the Gaming Board. The Gaming Board comes in under Clause 4. First, it has to be told about all details of a local lottery, and it further has the power to scrutinise them and tell the Home Secretary—or I suppose the Secretary of State for Wales—if it thinks there is anything going wrong; then there are all sorts of dreadful penalties imposed whereby a sinning local authority cannot hold any further lotteries for a certain period of time So there is that scrutiny and it all comes, as does most of the rest of gaming, under the control of this now well-known Gaming Board.
There are obviously going to be some objections. The noble Lord, Lord Wigg, would not have put down an Amendment otherwise. However, as I understand it, the Government at least agree in principle that there should be local lotteries. The honourable lady the Parliamentary Under-Secretary described the Bill as experimental, but she did not object to the principle of having local lotteries. What she did not like was 1938 the size of the limits, and she had two goes in another place to get them reduced and each time she lost the Division. So the limits stay as they were. It may well be that we have them about right, because when one side tries to reduce them and then, on the other hand, I get a letter from the G.L.C. saying that the limit is far too small, there is always the possibility that we are somewhere in the right region.
But I must, in all honesty, remind the House that when the Inter-Departmental Working Committee chaired by Mr. Whitney wrote its Report, they were talking in terms of a very much smaller limit indeed for local lotteries; much smaller indeed than put forward by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary in another place—in a different league altogether. That was the objection of the Government. Certainly the other objection they originally had has disappeared, because my right honourable friend made the bold and daring suggestion that these lotteries should not be taxed, but the onslaught upon him was such that he had to concede that point, and a levy would be collected under this Bill on lotteries as it is on all others, so at least the Treasury will not be losing its revenue that way.
When it comes to the question of the size of it, those of us who support the Bill say that that is a matter of judgment. There is not a great deal of data to go on, but if you make the limit too small then it just will not be worth while for a local authority to run one or a series of these lotteries at all. Staff are scarce at the moment and very precious; it takes a good deal of time and organisation; and if what you get out of it (after paying the prizes, all the expenses and your tax to the Treasury) is a very small sum, then people will not think it worth while and local authorities probably will not go in for it at all.
Therefore, the choice of the limit has been determined to some extent in order to try to make it attractive for people to run lotteries if they wish to.
There have recently sprung up other objections. It was always plain that there was the possibility that people who now are prepared to support other forms of a small lottery—perhaps for sporting or cultural purposes, I know not what— 1939 might transfer their custom to the new local authority lotteries of these were permitted. Again it is a matter of judgment. I must again, in fairness, remind the House that the Inter-Departmental Working Committee thought that it had found fairly strong indications that there was not an endless source of money for betting and gaming in this country, and that there was not an endless elasticity in the amount that could be extracted willingly from people who would like to go in for a flutter.
But in another place at least there did not seem to be a major onslaught or attack on the Bill on the basis that it was going to spoil the field for sporting, artistic or cultural lotteries, and I do not think this was very seriously canvassed. Not so now, alas! because the Central Council for Physical Recretation has got a whole lot of its members to send identical telegrams to me, and it has got some of its individual members to write letters in identical terms; and there have been other people from the amateur boxers, the people who shoot at Clay-bridge, to the All-England Women's Lacrosse Association, who all take the gravest affront at this measure. All I can say about it is that, rather like the Rehabilitation of Offenders Bill we were discussing yesterday and will revert to to-morrow, it is the most awful pity that they did not notice the Bill at the time when it was in another place.
I am all for these things being discussed, and if noble Lords this afternoon have strong views upon them I hope that they will ventilate them. But it is a great pity, if we come to the end of July on a measure like this which has gone through another place, and there suddenly emerge large objections in principle from those connected with sport, or the Arts, or something else, which were never discussed in another place at all. At any rate, we can put that right by talking about it here, and I certainly would not wish to discourage anybody who wishes to do so. I think that we owe it to those who, at the present moment, depend upon lotteries to raise money for football associations or other forms of activity of that sort, to see, so far as we can, that we are not doing something that damages them. But my difficulty, and I think the difficulty of everybody else, is that there 1940 really is no firm evidence to go on, and we can only back our judgment.
The only other objection that I have come upon in reading the previous debates in another place is that this was the subject matter that Mr. Whitney's Committee was intended to deal with—at any rate, it was part of his remit—and that there has not been enough public discussion about it since. Certainly that does not apply in this House, because that Committee reported just before Christmas and on January 30 this year we had a full scale debate on the whole subject, initiated by my noble friend Lord Mansfield. I have just read what I said on that occasion, and I have not said anything inconsistent with it to-day. I was speaking at the time of course from the position now held by the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich.
We have discussed it; it is not my fault, or the fault of this House, if other people think that they have not discussed it adequately. It has been printed, it is Cmnd. No. 5506) and available ever since Christmas, and all I can say about it is that, as so often seems to be the case, people do not apply their minds to this sort of thing until something turns up which urgently requires them to do so. Now it has turned up, and they are all complaining that they have not bad enough time for thought. I sympathise with people who have a large number of reports and things to look at, to consider, and comment upon, but the other complaint that frequently comes—not least from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner—is that there lie around in sheaves on dusty shelves reports from Government committees on which nobody ever does anything. Here at least is my right honourable friend trying to do something on the subject matter covered by that Report. I hope, therefore, that we shall not again be told, at least this afternoon, that there has not been sufficient discussion on the subject.
I do not think there is anything else in the Bill that I need explain to your Lordships, because it is clear, straightforward and plainly drafted. I look forward very much to hearing the views of those who have now been appraised of the fact that there are objections, and indeed have objections of their own. Of course, I do not know what your Lordships want to do with this Bill, but it has passed all 1941 its stages in another place; it has had pretty strenuous scrutiny both in Standing Committee and on Report and, as I say, when the Government have tried to intervene they have tended to lose their Divisions—which is a fate that seems to apply in both Houses at the moment, but I hope that we shall not have to deal with a similar blow to the Government here again.
Therefore, I would commend the Bill to your Lordships. It is not a very ambitious Bill. It is, however, one which can come into effect, if a local authority wishes it to, very soon. It will enable them to do something about the problem of providing services, facilities, amenities and other things which they just cannot afford out of rates. It will give them an alternative source of income. In the current attitude towards lotteries, I do not think that it is anything to which anybody is likely to object in principle, although I must remind the House that there are certain people in this country who have moral objections to lotteries. I pay full attention to their case. I do not know whether that case will be argued this afternoon, but I suspect that that group is in a substantial minority. If lotteries are to be in the hands of responsible elected local authorities that, I feel, would be some comfort to them. Therefore, I hope that the House will give the Bill favourable consideration. I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Viscount Colville of Culross.)
§ 5.1 p.m.
§ LORD WIGG
My Lords, I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name on the Order Paper. May I congratulate the noble Viscount on his excellent speech? If ever I am before a court and I am guilty, I should certainly employ him. He has no case at all. He is very conscious of it. In a gentle, skilful way what he has done is to attack those who have ventured at the 59th minute of the eleventh hour to wake up, perhaps belatedly, as to what is about to be done to them. Having been as kindly as I can towards him, I trust that at least he will acquit me of the charge that I have come into the list only at the last moment. I assure him that from the moment the Bill was printed I have been sitting outside its hole waiting to 1942 shoot it, strangle it, cut it up into mincemeat. Now the time has come.
First, I think that the House should reject the Bill. With the case I shall present I hope I can persuade the noble Viscount to withdraw it. Unfortunately, the Rules of your Lordships' House are such that a Bill which has come from another place cannot be withdrawn. I learned the other evening from the mouth of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, that your Lordships' House is not governed by precedent. He did so, looking at me in a rebuking way, to remind me that I was not now in the House of Commons but in the House of Lords and that precedent does not matter. We make our own rules as we go along; so what is good enough for the noble Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, is good enough for me. Therefore, when I put on the Order Paper a Motion, That the Bill should be read in six months' time, I did not mean this as it is normally meant as a means to reject it. Far from it. What I mean is what I say and I say what I mean.
In terms of helping local authorities the Bill is excellent. Of course we all pay rates and if we can persuade somebody else to pay our rates for us or ease the burden in our rate bill so much the better. That will get enthusiastic support. But here is a proposition which has entered into not only Governmental thinking but into the thinking of anyone short of money, including the Church. I have never gone to a church garden fete in which I have not been asked to buy a ticket or two on the judging of the weight of the cake cooked by the vicar's wife. I am dense in these matters. I have no moral judgments. I have never been able to—
§ LORD WIGG
The noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, should do her homework. One of the difficulties about the Bill is that the difference which would make a distinction between it making a bet, and therefore subject to general betting duty, and it being a transaction which would be subject to pool betting, has never been worked out.
I am sorry to digress, but the distinction seems to be that if one buys a lottery ticket with a number on it that 1943 apparently is a lottery. If on the other hand one buys a ticket and it is associated, shall we say, with the Derby, that is not a lottery, but it comes under the general betting duty. It is a distinction so fine that my mind boggles. I much prefer to return to the vicar's cake. The point I sought to make was that I have never been able to understand the distinction in morals between buying a ticket for sixpence or 1p if you like, which may entitle me to sample the vicar's wife's cooking and doing as I have just done, backing a horse at Sandown which, unfortunately, has not won. I cannot understand the difference. However, I do not wish to attempt to pursue it this afternoon.
May I return to the Bill? On May 3, 1974, it was introduced in the House of Commons under a different name. It was then called the Local Revenue Bill, It received its Second Reading. It set out to enable the local authorities to promote lotteries, to charge fees for application for planning permission and to levy a rating surcharge upon the occupiers of hotels. In the course of proceedings in another place, two of those objects were dropped. The one that remained was the power to promote lotteries. It completed its procedure in another place but changed its name from the Local Revenue Bill to the Local Lotteries Bill.
While I accept and indeed support the desire to raise money to aid local rates, in my submission the Bill overlooks one fundamental fact. In football pools we have in Britain that which fills the function of lotteries in other countries. It is, I think, to the credit of a previous Labour Administration that they rarely claimed credit for the things they did well but they inherited from the Conservative Administration revenues from betting and gaming of £33 million in 1962–63. To-day, that figure is £200 million and, of course, it could be substantially increased.
I am not seeking to make any Party point, but if the problem was handled with competence that sum could be greatly increased. What I mean by competence is that the totalisator would have to be run efficiently and we should have to persuade this Chancellor, as all other Chancellors, that they may know a great deal about the economy but they know 1944 mighty little about the social habits of the British people and how they bet. The way they bet is to try to win large sums with small stakes. Hence in Great Britain we have one of three bets, win, place or "any-to-come". The "any-to-come" bet takes the form of doubles, trebles, accumulators, Yankees, pattents and round-the-clock. I could go on with this subject, but basically the "any-to-come" bet is the equivalent of a lottery and manifests itself in its more aggravated form, if I may so describe it, in football pools. Here we have what is the tiercé in other countries. As long as this country has football pools—and the sum rose as a result of measures introduced by Mr. Maudling when Chancellor from £80 million to nearly £200 million taxed stakes—and we accept, as I hope your Lordships will accept, that there is a limit on the money that can be gambled, the possibility of getting added money is not very high. If one takes it from A to give it to B there must be less in added money. There is not, as some think, "gold in them thar hills." The betting and lottery laws in this country have got into the most almighty mess.
The reason why the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, can make the charge he does with justification, that people have only just woken up and started to squeal, is because they never thought that anyone would be so foolish as to introduce a Bill of this kind. Secondly, they have a greater faith in the House of Commons than have I. They thought that no House of Commons in its senses would ever pass such a Bill. So the home of common sense is your Lordships' House.
Let us examine this Bill with just a little care. The Bill itself—and I am surprised that the noble Viscount, Lord Colville, has not spotted this—imposes a duty on the Gaming Board, which, after all, is not a statutory board, although it describes itself as such. It exists under the umbrella of the Home Office; its staff, its costs, are borne on the Home Office. Who is going to pay the expenses? I cannot understand why, in another place, it was not realised that for this Bill to be implemented in the form in which it is needed a Money Resolution; and, of course, you cannot get a Money Resolution on a Private Member's Bill. Indeed, I should like to say to the noble Viscount, Lord Colville, if I may, in 1945 order to convince him of the fact that it is not new to me, that I drafted an Amendment long ago for this Bill:
"That the Gaming Board for Great Britain shall be entitled to recover all fees and expenses which have been incurred".
The Bill is imperfect to that extent; that it imposes a duty on a Government Department and does not say where the money is coming from.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
My Lords, I think I should just remind the House that it was the Home Office themselves who introduced this clause into the Bill. It was the Parliamentary Under-Secretary who moved the clause, which was, of course, accepted in Committee; and I have little doubt that, had there been any need for a Money Resolution, this fact would have been brought to their attention.
§ LORD WIGG
Again, my Lords, if I may say so, the noble Viscount has a greater faith than I have in what happens. I have studied this Bill from the beginning, and one of the most extraordinary things about it is that on Second Reading it was moved by the Minister of State for the Environment, a Department which was not concerned with the Bill at all, whereas the Treasury, who are vitally concerned about it, never had a spokesman. Furthermore, the Under-Secretary for the Home Office, who spoke on Second Reading and who linked this Bill, as did the noble Viscount, with the Departmental Committee on Lotteries, spoke, presumably with the authority of the Government, as if that Report had been accepted, whereas we know very well it has not been accepted. That Committee (if I may again digress) was set up by the previous Administration—and here I want to be as kind as I can be—because they did not have the guts to make their minds up about one fundamental question.
At the present moment there is a limit on bingo, but no limit on football pools. Therefore, as the Government were unable on the eve of an Election to make up their minds, to take such a decision which, whatever way it went, would be unpopular, they set up a Departmental Committee under the chairmanship of a Home Office official. Then, when the Report came last December, they did nothing about it. The present Government in 1946 herited it, and at least they did this: they invited people to make comments and to get those comments in before the end of May. That is the situation at the present time; but let me proceed, for otherwise I shall be detaining your Lordships for too long.
It is interesting that, on the morrow of the completion of the Bill in another place, the right honourable Graham Page, who was responsible, wrote an article for the Daily Express welcoming this Bill and saying what was going to happen. In that article he said it was the concern of 378 authorities. I did some sums, and the number of authorities which is in fact concerned, which can take advantage of this Bill in some form or other, is no less than 8,737, which is a margin of error which I should have thought was enough to justify your Lordships sitting; up and taking notice.
Now who are the objectors? A Member of this House, not wishing to weary your Lordships with a speech, has asked me to draw your Lordships' attention to a letter written by the Secretary of the Gaming Board of Great Britain—a body which, as I say, exists as part of the Home Office; a body for which the Home Office are responsible. He sent this document to many of the sports organisations in this country, but this particular letter was written to the Football League. It said:
"Sir Stanley Raymond considers that if this Bill passes into law it will throw the whole lottery situation into confusion, and it is in the interest of all concerned, and particularly those concerned with charities and sports, that amendment of the lottery law should await general legislation based on the Report of the Interdepartmental Working Party on Lotteries, on which the Home Office have already invited comment". So here we have the Home Office, Sir Stanley Raymond, writing up and down the country saying that this is a piece of nonsense and that it should await the later legislation which should be introduced by the Government. The reason why the Football League now protest—and they have protested to many Members of your Lordships' House—is not that they are late in the day, as it were, not because they have been dilatory, but because they did not know the considered views of Sir Stanley Raymond and others until they got that letter.
1947 That is not all. I have a telegram—in this case the telegram is addressed to me—from the Secretary of the Football Association. He said: "In the interests of the smaller football clubs and other sporting organisations greatly dependent on lotteries, the Football Association is strongly opposed to the Local Revenue Bill having its Second Reading in the Lords to-morrow, and we ask you to give support in defeating the Bill in its present form".
In addition to that we have the Central Council of Physical Recreation, of which the President is Prince Phillip. I mention that, again not to involve the Royal Family in any way; but this is a body with which the present Minister of Sport was actively associated, and I believe still is. It reads thus: "The Central Council of Physical Recreation, representing over 200 governing and other bodies in sport and recreation, asks you to vote against the Local Lotteries Bill on Thursday the 25th July in the House of Lords. Sport and recreation clubs are desperately short of money and are dependent for a large part of their income on their own raffle schemes. For the last three years the income from raffles has been declining, and any further large-scale competition will inevitably cause many sports clubs to close down".
So you have powerful institutions worried about the effect of this.
But that is not all. Only recently the Conservative Party defeated the Government in another place on a Budget proposal that the pool betting duty should apply to those clubs, sporting activities and organisations like the spastics which keep themselves going on the basis of lotteries. Your Lordships will recollect that there was a decision, I think by your Lordships' House or by the Law Lords, that, in the form in which they were, "Spot the Ball" competitions were illegal, and the Government (I think the Conservative Government) enacted a measure, the Pool Competitions Act. There are a number of organisations licensed under that Act—and here, if I may, I will quote from the Gaming Board Report. I hope the House will pardon me if I read out a lengthy list, but your Lordships ought to know what you are doing if you pass this Bill, and ought to know how wide it is.
These are the clubs and the beneficiaries, and the list starts with Scotland: the Celtic Football Club; the Chelsea Pools Association; then, a professional organisation situated in Southampton which covers the Southampton and District 1948 Spastics Association, the Winchester and District Spastics Association, the Bournemouth, Poole and District Spastics Association, the Portsmouth and District Spastics Association, the Andover and District Spastics Association and the Gos-port and District Spastics Association; the Dundee United Sportsmens' Club; the Huddersfield Town Football Club; the Manchester United Development Association; then, Pembroke (C. & P.) Limited, which covers cancer and polio research; the Pools Clearing House Limited of Bristol, which covers the Norwich City and Poole Town Football Clubs; Rangers Football Club, Singette Limited of Cardiff, which covers a number of charities. Sky Blue Pools Limited, which covers the Coventry City Football Club. Top Ten Promotions, which covers the Friends of Spastics League, the Sembal Trust and the Van Neste Foundation, and the Warwickshire Cricket Club Supporters' Association. All those organisations carry on their affairs and make a profit for the beneficent purposes which they exist to support, and all of them will be affected by the Bill.
What is perfectly clear is that the opposition to this is not new. There is an organisation called the Group of Self-Supporting Pools and it came out against local lotteries for assisting the rates in general and against Mr. Page's Bill in particular from the word go, because it was very conscious that, if the measure goes through, it will have the most disastrous results. Being charitably minded—as I hope I am myself—the organisation realised that the promoters of the Bill did not know what they were doing. I have mentioned one figure—a figure of 378 authorities, it was thought—it is over 8,000, but what is the total amount? I have made an effort to do some sums and I have done my best to get them checked. I have been to the Ministry of the Environment, and the figure which could be taken out is of the order of £1,000 million a year. It will not be, for reasons I shall go into in a moment, but it is perfectly clear that those who have been running these organisations are fearful of the consequences.
My Lords, I now come to the point of what is likely to be extracted from the running of lotteries by the local authorities, if your Lordships pass the Bill 1949 through all its stages. Let us take the biggest authority of all—the G.L.C, which has been the first in the field. The G.L.C. sent out a circular on May 21—which was almost as soon as the Bill saw the light of day—which seems, again, to answer the point made by the noble Viscount, Lord Colville. The G.L.C. did some sums, based, I presume, upon Mr. Graham Page's figures: it was estimated that there would be a distribution of some 40 per cent. by way of prizes and some 40 per cent. to the project. The G.L.C. did its sums in the following way: assuming that it ran a lottery of the largest amount permissible—£500,000 a month—it would not, the Council said, be worth running unless it could offer prizes of £225,000. Mr. Page himself has said that, of that figure, £100,000 should go to the prize-winner, and that the project should receive £225,000. The expenses would be £43,500 and the reserve fund would be £6,500, making a total of £500,000. But what they forgot—and I telephoned them and pointed out that there was an omission—was the 40 per cent. pools betting duty. To be perfectly frank, I do not believe that one can sell two million tickets a month at 25p each and that the only expenses incurred will be £43,500. The G.L.C. is the largest authority and, from it right down to the Parish Councils, none will get the money it thinks it will if the Bill is passed. All the Bill will do is to add confusion to an already very confused situation.
Before I leave this subject and sit down, I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to another measure which was introduced last Friday—the Safety of Sports Grounds Bill. This measure had its origin with the previous administration. It was debated in this House, went through all the procedures here and went to another place, where the Genera] Election killed it. The noble Viscount, Lord Colville, will recollect the argument which took place on that occasion because I was his ally then, as I really am now, in so far as he is a servant of truth. What did he argue? He argued against those on the Opposition Benches who said, through the mouth of my noble friend Lord Garnsworthy that the Bill was a bad one and that it was based upon the Wheatley Report. It may be remembered that at an early stage the 1950 noble Viscount, Lord Colville, said that Lord Wheatley had based his Report and advice on the proposition that there should be no Government money. I was quick to point out to him that Lord Wheatley did not say that: following the Ibrox disaster, in paragraph 60 of the Report, what he said was:
"I went to the Treasury and the Treasury said, 'No money'. If there is no money, this is the kind of report I offer."
The House will recollect that there were many speakers—not including me—on the Labour Benches who said that the Government ought to put up the money, but, of course, that was when they were in Opposition. When the Bill reached another place, the present Minister of Sport, Mr. Howell, was quite dogmatic, saying that the Bill was no good and that the Government should put up some money.
That was the position until last Friday afternoon, when almost the same Bill appeared with notes from the Home Office for guidance. What does it say? The Labour Party now says exactly what the noble Viscount, Lord Colville, said when he was on the Government Benches. "No money." What is to happen, therefore? As sure as night follows day—as I said on that Bill and I now repeat—there will be another Ibrox. Your Lordships should not let the crocodile tears trickle down your cheeks nor should Members of another place ask why something is not done: Ibrox is one of many similar disasters and we all know that it will cost astronomical sums to put right. The Bill and the accompanying memorandum suggest that not everything should be done at once, but that gradual steps should be taken and improvements made gradually. Do it gradually one may, but, with logic which I do not understand, the international grounds are to be tackled first, although they are the grounds which are the best anyway: the risks are on those grounds which happen to have a run in the Cup and whose grounds are not very safe, but there will be no Government money, despite what the Labour Party said in Opposition. Now they say, "It is to come from lotteries".
That is the proposal of the Government. They will get the money from lotteries. A thousand million pounds is being wagered in the form of betting in this country; at present, large sums are 1951 going to the spastics and to football supporters' clubs. The Government will come along and force not only football grounds but, in the long run, sporting activities of all kinds—including horse racing, if the attendances at the courses come within the orbit of the orders—to get the money they want from lotteries. This does not make sense; it is sheer nonsense.
If neither the Government nor the Opposition will act, presumably they think that there are no votes in it; but T believe that, if there was a sane approach to what noble Lords might like to regard as a human frailty—if there are, in fact, astronomical sums being wagered in small amounts and this human frailty can be turned to advantage—it would be nice, for example, if we had a football training centre. We are the only advanced country in the world which is concerned with soccer and which has none. I had a feeling of shame and of chagrin when I listened on that Sunday afternoon to the final of the World Cup, to which an audience of 1,200 million was listening, and Great Britain was not even at the races. We shall not be at the races so far as football is concerned or any other sport. It does not matter whether your Lordships' approach to it is in terms of participant or spectator sports, it is clear from the Safety at Sports Grounds Bill that there is no money coming from the Government. Other sources have to be looked at.
I shall not weary your Lordships by giving details of how I think it could be approached, but I believe that it could. I believe that without cost to the Government a sensible, sane approach could be made to this problem. But to-day is the opportunity for your Lordships to say that the method indicated in this Bill is not the way. On the other hand, I pay my tribute to those who have worked on it, because even if at the end of the road they find a cul-de-sac and have to turn back, it is not a waste of time because it has demonstrated that those who believe that the solutions to all our problems, whether safety on football grounds, or care of the spastics and that they are sure of a few bob to solve the problem by saying, "Have a lottery", are wrong. If you are going to run 1952 lotteries it is a highly skilled professional business, not a job for amateurs. If this Bill is passed this afternoon your Lordships will have underlined one simple fact, and that is that once again you have forgotten that the claim made for the existence of this House is twofold: a revising body and a delaying body. I have said some hard things on your Lordships' failure to act as a delaying body in connection with the Common Market. There it may well be that Party interests were involved. But here I am making an appeal, across and beyond Party, and saying that this House should exercise its power to delay. For that reason, I hope your Lordships will support my Amendment.
§ Amendment moved—
§ Leave out ("now") and insert ("this day six months").—(Lord Wigg.)
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER (LORD GOSCHEN)
My Lords, the original Question was, That this Bill be now read a second time, since when an Amendment has been moved to leave out "now" and insert "this day six months". The Question I therefore have to put is that this Amendment be agreed to.
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, may I allude for a moment to the question of the vicar's cake. The noble Lord said that he could see no moral difference between paying sixpence at a church bazaar for judging the weight of the vicar's cake or putting sixpence on a horse. There is a great difference, because the weight of the vicar's cake runs true to form—though vicars' wives may not run true to form; I do not know about that. But, having reared horses, I can assure the noble Lord—and I am sure he will agree with me—that horses do not always run true to form. Therefore, to judge the weight of the vicar's cake is a question of skill.
§ LORD WIGG
My Lords, as a lifelong backer of horses I hold the view, and sometimes with profit, and sometimes with none, that betting as opposed to gambling is just as much a skilful operation and a much more precise operation than weighing the vicar's cake, because one would not know whether the vicar's wife had put in sultanas or lead shot.
§ 5.34 p.m.
§ LORD HARRIS OF GREENWICH
My Lords, this debate is notable, if nothing else, for two particular features: the first is the temporary presence—I am sure—of the noble Viscount on his Party's Back Benches. I suspect we shall see him elsewhere to-morrow morning when we return to the pleasures of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Bill. The second is the glowing tribute paid to this House by my noble friend Lord Wigg. For both reasons, this debate is notable and I am sure that we much enjoyed the views of my noble friend that this House should save the country from the effects of the behaviour of the elected House. I am particularly happy to say that, because I happen to share his view on this matter as a matter of general principle on this Bill. I know that many people both inside this House and outside it naturally have sympathy with the notion of allowing local authorities, particularly as the noble Viscount said, at this particular time, to raise funds by way of lotteries. I should say straight away that the Government are not, in principle, opposed to this or to other changes in the lotteries law.
The existing law on lotteries, contained in the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963, is already over ten years old and contains financial limitations which were set some years before the passing of the Act. On these grounds alone, there is a case for revision. I would not dissent from the general proposition of my noble friend that the law is in a mess at the moment and that action should be taken to straighten it out. But this is not, just for that reason, in my view a case where there is room for hurried or piecemeal legislation, which frankly this particular Bill before us is. We cannot lose sight of the fact that what we have before us to-day is a piece of social legislation, which closely affects the public interest, and has repercussions for the whole of the law on gambling. The Inter-Departmental Working Party, which reported last December, made a number of proposals for revision of the lotteries law, including a recommendation that local authorities should be permitted to run lotteries. But it was recognised that their proposals involved conflicts of interest, and issues of social and moral 1954 judgment, which needed careful consideration and discussion.
Following the publication of the Report, as my noble friend Lord Wigg pointed out, the Home Office initiated consultations with various of the interested bodies on their reaction to the Report. Those consultations have now been generally completed, but there has not yet been sufficient time for a proper assessment of opinions or for a final formulation of a coherent policy. We should be reluctant to see legislation hurried through on one aspect of the law before we have a clear picture of the requirements over the whole field. The law on all aspects of betting and gaming is already sufficiently complex without adding further changes which are not well-founded.
But, considerations of timing aside, there are some major objections to the content of the Bill. The Government made it plain, in the various proceedings in another place, and particularly my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary, that the Bill, as it stands, is not acceptable to the Government. When the Bill was first introduced, we had two major criticisms, and the noble Viscount alluded to these: first, the absence of any power of control over these lotteries; and then the scale proposed. The first of these objections has to some extent been met, as the result of an Amendment, Clause 1(2) of the Bill now provides that the Secretary of State for the Home Department may prescribe provisions to be included in any schemes made under the Bill. Such a provision is, I believe, essential. Lotteries—and this includes local authority lotteries—are ultimately subject to the criminal law like any other form of gambling, and must be closely supervised. And obviously, if that supervision is to be effective, there must be power to lay down basic rules of conduct to act as guidelines.
As to our criticism of the scale of the proposed lotteries, the Bill as it stands would allow local authorities to run lotteries with a maximum annual turnover of £6 million or one-tenth of their aggregate rateable value, whichever is the less. This would mean that over forty local authorities could run lotteries with the maximum £6 million turnover: several hundred more could run smaller lotteries 1955 Put another way—and this is the way my noble friend Lord Wigg put it—the Bill would allow local authority lotteries with an annual turnover of £1,000 million, representing an annual sale of 2,000 million tickets at 50p each, or 10,000 million tickets at 10p each. Obviously the "limit" in the Bill is illusory and could lead to unchecked competition among local authorities.
A more difficult problem is the market for such lotteries. Under the existing law, most legal lotteries are run to support charitable, cultural and sporting interests. The proceeds from these lotteries are, in many cases, vital for the continuance of the bodies concerned. For example, I understand—and my noble friend has already referred to this point—that the Spastics Society receives a large part of its income from a charity football pool. But the pool of money in gambling is not bottomless. The money for local authority lotteries will have to come from somewhere and our very real worry is that it would come from the existing charitable and sporting lotteries.
It was this concern which led the Government to try to amend the Bill, in its earlier stages, so that the maximum turnover would be limited to £500,000. This, we felt, was a generous limit which would have allowed local authorities to collect worth while revenue for their purposes, while at the same time preventing both excessive competition between the authorities themselves and the offers of extremely valuable prizes which would have drawn money away from the existing lotteries. Even with this amendment, the Government's view would be that this Bill was a premature step. But with the scope of these lotteries virtually unlimited, we can only feel that the Bill could, potentially, distort the whole of the lottery law and make it difficult to achieve a coherent law in this field.
The noble Viscount, when moving the second Reading, alluded to correspondence he had had with the Greater London Council. He gave an indication of their views. The House should be made aware of this fact: the local authorities are by no means united behind this measure. I have read a letter which we have just received from the Association of County Councils. A section of the statement which they made reads as follows:
1956 "At a time when the Government themselves, following pressure from the local authority associations, have set up an inquiry into the whole field of local authority finance, it does not seem appropriate that Parliamentary time should be devoted to a Bill whose effect on local authority sources of income will be minimal."
It is interesting whether their judgment on that matter is right. But what is clear is their general lack of enthusiasm for this measure.
My noble friend Lord Wigg made a reference to the communications he had received. I am bound to say to the noble Viscount that the one person who must be extremely grateful to him for his activities is the Chairman of the Post Office Corporation, because he has nearly managed to put the telegram service into surplus—a remarkable achievement. The Government have received a number of messages not altogether indicating total support for the noble Viscount's measure. They come from the Rugby Union, the Amateur Rowing Association, the Secretary of the Cricket Council—and I supose in these rather sensitive times I should declare my membership of the Kent County Cricket Club—the Rugby Football League and a number of other organisations, including the same shooting organisation which communicated with the noble Viscount.
This indicates the difficulty of approaching this type of legislation on this piecemeal basis. I do not think that it is possible to deal with a small sector of the gambling laws in this way. We have come forward with a strong, all-embracing piece of legislation dealing with these problems. As a result of that I hope, depite the procedural difficulties to which my noble friend Lord Wigg referred, that the noble Viscount will decide not to proceed with this Bill.
§ 5.43 p.m.
§ THE LORD BISHOP OF LEICESTER
My Lords, I rise to oppose the Second Reading of this Bill as I expect your Lordships will anticipate, although I hope in not too puritanical or solemn a spirit. Bishops, however, innocent they may look, are not so ignorant of the facts of life that they do not realise that gambling and betting in various forms are part of the way of life for large numbers—perhaps the majority—of our fellow countrymen. I certainly do not either expect or hope to stop it or reduce it very 1957 much by any measures in Parliament or elsewhere. I was amused at the references of the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, to church bazaars. He made a little slip, as amateurs do when they touch on ecclesiastical matters. He should not have taken the question of the cake; he should have said "guessing the name of the doll". Then he would have had a perfectly clear case of a lottery. But even here one has to be careful.
I will not delay the House for more than a moment with this stupid incident, but, just to show that this is not the first time I have thought about these matters, I once had to speak on this subject in Cambridge. I was rash enough to say there were certain forms of gambling that I considered pretty harmless, and I mentioned one or two of the examples which the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, has mentioned. By an extraordinary coincidence, my words were taken over in a reported form to one of the islands in the West Indies where there was an enormous row going on as to whether or not a casino should be built. The local Anglican padre was leading the case against the casino. Unfortunately for him, my words were sent to the West Indies by a Cambridge undergraduate and published in the local paper there. I had a heartbroken letter from him saying that, in a few sentences, I had undone all the good work he had been trying to do for many months. Even in these little matters one has to watch one's step.
In spite of accepting a great deal of gambling, I will admit that I do not want Parliament to do very much to encourage the gambling mentality in our country. We have enough of it, and I do not want to give any obvious push to it to increase it in such a marked way as would happen if we passed this Bill. I must also say that, so far as I understand the implications of the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, it would be infinitely preferable for us to reject the Bill, because unless I read the Amendment wrongly we shall be passing it but only at a date in six months time from now, which I suppose means we can only then amend it in Committee; the actual principle would have been passed. He does not ask that it should be re-opened in six months' time, but that in six months' time it should pass I hope that 1958 I am not misunderstanding him on this point.
That is why I am taking the plain line of asking the House to reject the Bill. In doing so I must say that I am leaning heavily on the views of the Churches Council on Gambling, of which the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London is president, and the noble Lord, Lord Soper, is a distinguished member, and both of them have asked me to associate them with the views which I am expressing this afternoon. The Churches Council on Gambling is by no means a puritanical association; it is very realistic, very down to earth, very well-informed and on excellent terms with the bookmakers contrary to what many people think.
They and many other similar bodies have asked a lot of questions about this Bill and I want to list briefly the reasons which they and others feel are relevant to this question. The first one is the fact that, in spite of what the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, feels, there has not been much time for adequate discussion. The report which we have in our hands was dated only December, 1973. Since then there have been a few distractions in the country if one looks back to the times of the General Election, strikes and other upsets. However, many bodies have been formulating their answers and I have read a number of them; most of them are critical. They are by no means all trivial organisations. I think that the noble Viscount who moved the Second Reading picked out a number of organisations which he felt fairly confidently would create a smile-lacrosse associations and things of that kind.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
My Lords, I did not. I merely quoted all those which had written to me.
§ THE LORD BISHOP OF LEICESTER
My Lords, then I can remind the noble Viscount that I picked out from the communications which I had in my hands Manchester United and the Warwickshire Cricket Club, which I thought might stand up a little better to the lacrosse team if it came to some kind of competition. It is perfectly true that these bodies are expecting a much longer discussion of this matter than would be possible if we gave this Bill a Second 1959 Reading to-day. They will feel that there has not been adequate time for discussion.
Secondly, what we are offered in this Bill is in no real sense a proper continuation of the work which has been done by the inter-departmental Working Party. I suppose in one sense that there is no particular reason why it should be so. But do not let anybody be under the illusion that it is so, because we were offered in the inter-departmental Working Party's Report what I might describe as a "package deal". We were offered a number of proposals which all hung together. One was the limitation of the pools prizes to be offered. Another was the licensing of lotteries by the Gaming Board, and I am sure that your Lordships will have noticed that the Gaming Board comes into this Bill in an altogether different way from the way in which it came in under the proposals of the interdepartmental Working Party. In their Report, lotteries were to be licensed by the Gaming Board before they ever took place, but the Gaming Board is reduced here to a kind of auditing function.
When it is all over and done with, but after a reasonable time, the body concerned must send in a report; and the Gaming Board will just skim through it to see whether any offences have been committed. And that it all that the Gaming Board can do. There is no real sense that the Gaming Board will control the whole thing in the way which was suggested in the inter-departmental Report. There is also a tremendous difference, in that the Report proposed large lotteries for major charitable or sporting purposes in the country, and suggested that local authorities should engage upon lotteries only if they were concerned with an institution of such a quality that it might be felt to have a national status. There is absolutely no comparison between the kind of lotteries that were envisaged in the inter-departmental Report, and those which are now suggested on an enormous scale in the present Bill.
My Lords, that brings me to the question of how many of these lotteries there will be. That is anybody's guess. I heard somebody say the other day that he was particularly reluctant to prophesy, especially in regard to the future, and I think that that is a very wise attitude 1960 to take. However, what we can discuss and must discuss is what is actually offered in the Bill. I was grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, for being able to compute the number of authorities that could, if they wanted to, run these lotteries. I began to try to work it out but it was beyond my mathematical powers.
The noble Lord has produced an answer and I have no doubt that it is the right one. However, it is a fact that even' single authority, from the Greater London Council down to the smallest parish council, is authorised to run a lottery.
Here I will make a little guess. I have a feeling that this is the kind of thing which local authorities would want to do when they saw other people doing it. I may be wrong, but undoubtedly this is the way in which many people's minds work. One has only to have a good television report of a "sit in" in one university, and one will very soon see a "sit in" taking place in another. That is just the way in which it goes. If Manchester, Leeds or Birmingham have successful lotteries, I believe that there will be a feeling on the part of other authorities that they must not be left behind in the race. I believe also that it will grow into something very considerable.
It has been my experience that much legislation of what one might broadly call a permissive kind produces a good deal more in the way of positive results than its promoters expect and anticipate for it. To mention three which I put down when I was preparing this speech, the Divorce Reform Act, the Abortion Act and, I regret to say, the Sexual Offences Act have in all cases produced very much larger effects in the empirical world than were anticipated at the time. I think, therefore, that the idea that these lotteries will be a comparatively small and unimportant thing in the life of the country is almost certainly illusory.
It has been mentioned, and rightly, that in order to run lotteries using the full ceiling of £6 million a year, it will be necessary to sell 2 million tickets at 25p each in every month of the year. Therefore, I ask myself where the staff will come from to run them. Do we really want all of our local government people to be largely involved in this kind of thing? Have they not got enough to do without giving their minds to this? 1961 And if they are not going to do it, who is? I cannot see things of this scale being done on a purely voluntary basis. I think that it will make an enormous demand on the staff of our town halls of a rather undignified and, I think, generally unprofitable type.
The effect on other charities and sports has been mentioned, so I need not enlarge upon that. I am bound to say that I do not feel absolutely certain that money for these lotteries will, in fact, come from the money which people would otherwise spend; I think that that is anybody's guess. However, what we do know is that if they are effective they will draw in an enormous amount of money, and the spending of that money will not be related very closely to effort or sacrifice of any kind. There will be an attempt to cash in on the natural sporting instincts of men and women. I do not underrate those; I do not even despise them. I think that one of the great secrets of gambling and why it has such a hold is that it gives a lot of ordinary people a stake in the future which they might not otherwise have. That is something which all moralists and social philosophers will have to think about.
I do not think it would be a step forward for this country to become largely dependent on this gambling and acquisitive instinct for its amenities up and down the country. I received an advertisement the other day for some kind of hire-purchase system. I did not study it very carefully, but it had as its large slogan on the brochure, "Why wait till tomorrow for something that you want to-day?" I think there is every reason to wait if you do not have the money and have not earned it. I think that if the people of our country want certain services and certain amenities, it is far better that they should pay for them in the proper way through the rates or through taxes, than through the rates or certain instinct of gambling.
§ 6.2 p.m.
§ LORD LUKE
My Lords, I rather fear that I cannot follow my noble friend Viscount Colville of Culross in what he said, although he did help me right at the beginning of his remarks by saying that this was an optional method of relieving the rates and that specific projects and amenities came in by a sort of side wind. I suspected that it was for the 1962 relief of rates and not for helping amenities. He discounted that there would be a transference of local support to lotteries, but there I have to disagree with him. He also said that this matter was not discussed in another place. I do not see really what that has to do with the matter.
However, I find myself on the side of the noble Lord, Lord Wigg; I support his Amendment, which in effect would reject the Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Wigg, has really made most of my speech for me. Probably that is the first time he has done that. I do not know whether it will be the last time or not. I was very glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, say that he was reluctant to see legislation hurried through; that the Bill was not acceptable to the Government, and that local authorities were not united behind the measure. So I am very grateful all round.
As the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, says, we all seem to have woken up—well, so much the better! If I have woken up at the same time as Lord Wigg, I am delighted. I am in very good company. This method of raising money may have very unfortunate consequences for other existing methods in the voluntary field of money raising, and might lead to a too centralised form of distribution. Any local authority, in-including parish councils, would be able to syphon off voluntary contributions which would otherwise go direct to the causes concerned, and there is no guarantee what those causes would receive from the central fund. That would be at the discretion of the local authority. There are many charitable causes which might suffer from this arrangement while others might benefit, perhaps out of all proportion to the others.
The lotteries would be limited to one per month, 12 in a year; but there are many more than 12 charities, local and national, which are benefiting from contributions large and small all over the country—sports clubs, recreation centres and so on. The method suggested would channel money into a selected few. The decison on distribution of funds would be taken out of the hands of individuals and decided by local authority committees. The attractions of a lottery are very great as seen by the present system of raffles 1963 and lotteries now operating in most localities, but the prizes are much larger and local lotteries might well drain away too much money from direct giving.
If we are to see county councils, district councils, parish councils all having lotteries in proliferation, that is likely to produce a most unfortunate effect on the present, not unsuccessful, methods of local efforts to support local causes by local individuals. Money would instead flow into local authority funds from which distribution might be very different and decisions might be prejudiced. I do not support this Bill and I shall vote against its Second Reading if possible; but I agree to postponement through the proposed Amendment.
§ 6.6 p.m.
§ LORD HOUGHTON OF SOWERBY
My Lords, the last time I addressed your Lordship's House, earlier this week, the speech I made was attributed in The Times newspaper to my noble friend Lord Pannell, who tells me that he received numerous congratulations on the style and content of his "maiden speech" to your Lordships' House. My noble friend and I have been such old friends and agree upon so many things that no harm is usually done when a speech by him is attributed to me or mine is attributed to him; but it does seem to me, my Lords—and I hope this is not a breach of the conventions of the House—that on rising to speak a noble Lord in these circumstances should identify himself, for the benefit of The Times newspaper if no one else. My name is Houghton of Sowerby and what few remarks I am addressing to your Lordships I hope may be attributed to me.
I listened with enjoyment to the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, and admired the ease with which he launched this important Bill upon your Lordships' House. I think I would have enjoyed more the speech he would have made had he still been a Minister at the Home Office occupying the place of my noble friend Lord Harris of Greenwich, speaking from a similar brief and saying much the same thing as my noble friend, because from what I have heard the noble Viscount had no such revolutionary ideas about lotteries for local authorities when he was a spokesman for the Home Office. 1964 This is a most important Bill, but I think it would be very undesirable indeed for your Lordships to give a Bill of this importance a Second Reading without a great deal more public discussion upon its content and implications. I have only a brief point to make. I think that it would be a pity to launch another contentious matter upon local government for no good public purpose. We are not in need of additional money for local authorities to the extent that we have to turn to lotteries for it, as against more conventional methods of raising revenue for local purposes.
This would be a most contentious subject in local politics. There are other matters of great controversy in local affairs, but there is usually some significant, if not overriding, public purpose in what it is proposed to do which is not present on this occasion and in this Bill. So I think we should spare local authorities having to deal with this matter. I can conceive of circumstances in which citizens might take very strong moral objection to local authorities raising money in this way.
I come from a family of passive resisters. In the early part of the century, my father went to prison rather than pay the education rate which, under the Act of 1903, was to be devoted in part to the maintenance of Church schools. That was a very strong movement indeed among Methodists when I was a young boy. One can, I think, conceive of a passive resistence movement springing up among those who feel strong moral objection to raising money for public purposes by public authorities in this way. Certainly I think it should not be undertaken without a great deal more public discussion than this matter has had so far.
That is really the only point I wish to make because the other points have already been made. Our gambling and lottery laws are in a mess and they need to be sorted out, and I hold a personal judgment that there is a great deal too much gambling going on in this country at the present time. I think we should exercise great care before widening the scope for raising money by means of lotteries and other forms of gambling. This is an oppportunity for your Lordships' House to take a strong stand, if not on moral grounds then on grounds 1965 of expediency and good government for local authorities.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ LORD AIREDALE
My Lords, I do not want to make a speech, but I should like to ask a question, having listened to this debate. I do not know whether I shall receive an answer now because I have not had a chance to give advance notice of the question, which is to do with taxation. I think the noble Viscount made it quite clear in his speech that the Treasury will get its "rake-off" in taxation from these lotteries. Suppose a local authority wants to raise £100,000 for a swimming pool by means of a lottery. The tax bill will not be the amount which will leave £100,000 after tax has been paid. If I heard the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, aright, only some 40 per cent. of the total pool of a lottery constitutes the proceeds; one has to have another, perhaps, 40 per cent. to distribute as prize money and the remaining 20 per cent. has to cover such things as advertising, running expenses, and so on.
The result of this surely is that one would only get £40 proceeds after tax had been paid on £100, and my question—to which I should like to have the answer some time—is this: what is the total tax bill expressed as a percentage of the 40 per cent. proceeds? My suspicion is that the tax bill is an extraordinarily high proportion of the proceeds and that this adds up to the most extraordinarily expensive way of raising money to build a swimming pool.
§ 6.12 p.m.
My Lords, in rising to support the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, I should like to support also everything that all noble Lords have said about the effect that these lotteries could have on those organisations which now depend very much on them for their income: charitable organisations, voluntary organisations, sporting organisations and all the rest of them. I have a certain amount of experience because for the last five years I have run a lottery for our church—which might interest the right reverend Prelate! The tickets cost 5p, the first prize is £100 and there are four other prizes graded downwards, and the draw is open until November 11. I thought your Lordships might be interested.
1966 The point I am coming to is that the Bill—as well as the probability of these local lotteries taking away from the pool which at the present moment these other organisations can tap—has a very unfair clause in it; namely Clause 2(2)(a), which says:
"It shall be the duty of a local authority to give such publicity to the purposes for which they are promoting a local lottery as will be likely to bring them to the attention of persons purchasing tickets".
Under my lottery I am not allowed to advertise. I have now done so, I suppose, in your Lordships' House; but we know that this is a House of privilege and I have my noble friend Lord Colville of Culross to defend me if I am "run in" so I hope I shall get away with it. This is one other point which I do not think has so far been mentioned to-day and I strongly support the Amendment.
§ 6.14 p.m.
§ LORD WAKEFIELD OF KENDAL
My Lords, in moving the Second Reading of this Bill, the noble Viscount said—and he complained that he had a grievance—that sporting bodies had not made known their objections to the Bill until the very last moment. For over 50 years I have been connected, either at club, regional or national level, with various sporting organisations. Sporting organisations are concerned with their game, with promoting the interests of their game for their players, and they are not really concerned with what is happening either in this House or in another place. It really takes time for clubs and sporting organisations to understand or to appreciate that some legislation is going through Parliament which vitally affects them. This is exactly what has happened now. It takes not days or weeks but months—and even perhaps a year or two—for this understanding of what is happening to take place. That is why I support so strongly what has already been said, that we should delay the Bill or, if you like, vote against it.
However, I most strongly support the Amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, and I suggest that this Bill needs very much greater consideration than it has been possible to give it. I believe that all around the country there should be greater opportunities for people to know much more of what is contained in the Bill than up to now it has been possible for them to know.
1967 Last night, I was presiding at the annual general meeting of the Harlequin Rugby Football Club, followed by a committee meeting. One of our main concerns is how are we, as an amateur club, to keep going in these days of inflation and rising costs. This is the concern of a great many amateur clubs, whether the sport is cricket, soccer, rugger, athletics, sub-aqua, water-skiing or anything you like, and one of the ways they go about it is by means of lotteries. It is due to the devoted work of many honorary secretaries and officers of clubs who get "stuck into it" in every way they can, and one of the way of raising money to keep these voluntary organisations going is by lotteries.
Believe me, my Lords, this will be a kind of knockout blow; it will be something that is just hitting them altogether too hard. They have raised this money and they are now going to be faced with local authorities right down to the parish council hitting them and competing with them. I do not want to delay your Lordships any longer, but I most urgently suggest that it is only right and proper that a much deeper and further consideration should be given to the Bill, and I oppose the Bill.
§ 6.19 p.m.
§ BARONESS PHILLIPS
My Lords, I feel that I should be false to my own conscience if I did not intervene in this debate. As the vice-president of the National Association of Local Councils—the old parish councils—I was originally asked if I would introduce the Bill into your Lordships' House during the period of the last Government, but there was not time to do so. As vice-president of the Keep Fit Association—and I do not feel a very good exponent of that at the moment—I was asked to oppose the Bill. So I have to approach it to-day with an open mind.
I have listened carefully to the debate. Unfortunately I missed the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, but knowing most Governmental speeches it was probably very neutral and would not have influenced me. But I did hear the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, who I still say does not know the difference between testing the weight of a cake and taking part in a lottery, and as a great expert in this sphere for many years, I can assure him that there is a great difference. 1968 But seriously, I am general secretary of a charity that depends on the raising of money. I am also a member of a church which raises a great deal of money from lotteries, and a member of a political Party (and many of your Lordships are members of that Party) which would be in very sad straits if it did not get money from lotteries. So we must have no moral objections to this unless we examine very carefully where the money comes from that we use. We must discard that angle.
My Lords, we then look at another angle which is more prevalent—that here is a rival to the charities. This is a much more practical approach, one about which the noble Lord has just spoken. If we have this vast monster, it will take money from the little local charities. I would say to your Lordships that very few have spoken about the vast commercial concerns who take the big money in the lotteries. Even now, it is not the charities who draw the vast money, but the commercial concerns. Why should there not be a transferance from that group to the local authorities?
I rest my support for the Bill on the words of the noble Viscount. This is a very important factor in this discussion. The noble Viscount said it would be optional for the local authority. There is no reason to suppose that every local authority would wish to engage in this, despite what has been said. It would be optional for the citizen to purchase a ticket, so if the citizen did not like the idea, if he were part of a church or a group that was against it, then there is no compulsion to purchase. If people prefer a charity, it would still be there. It would be only fair to emphasise that this is a totally permissive measure; there is nothing mandatory at all about it. I believe many local authorities of the smaller kind, the parish councils, would engage in this with every kind of dignity, and would be able to help their own case where they found it difficult to raise money.
My Lords, we are a gambling community. Personally, I am not a gambler. I cannot even bear to part with my cards when I play bridge. I know I am no gambler. I long ago decided that anything I got in life was going to come to me because I worked for it. But there is no doubt that most people enjoy the excitement of waiting to find out if they 1969 have won something. My own organisation of women finds it impossible to have even a meeting on a serious subject without there being a raffle; it is part of the ritual, and they thoroughly enjoy it. We are dealing with something already with us. People enjoy gambling.
For the benefit of the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, I also once worked for a commission agent, and he missed out of his list the accumulator, the "up-and-a-downer" and "anything to come". There is a number of facets to this sort of thing. There can be very little real harm in introducing what is a permissive measure. I feel there is no great danger that we shall all be immersed in 6,000 local authorities filling our hoardings, asking us to buy lottery tickets. I support the noble Viscount, because I have a strong suspicion that if I do not, he may find he has no other supporter this evening.
§ LORD MAELOR
My Lords, in intervening I am going to deliver the shortest speech I have ever delivered. The last sentence of the Bill is this:This Act shall not apply to Scotland or to Northern Ireland.I ask the question: why was not Wales excluded?
§ 6.25 p.m.
§ LORD WIGG
My Lords, I will not weary the House by exploiting my right of reply but one or two points must be made. First, may I deal with the point of taxation. The Promoters originally put into the Bill when it was first printed a provision to exempt it from the pool betting duty. But they changed their minds, and subsequently the right honourable Mr. Graham Page, who produced the Bill, accepted that the betting duty of 40 per cent. was correct. So there will in fact now be three rates of betting duty, three different categories, one for the commercial pool promoters, another for the pool which deals with the sporting activities, and then there will be this third one. It will take 40 per cent. out of the pool.
Of course, the other deduction which I think is grossly underestimated is the expenses. To sell 2 million tickets at 25p a time is going to be difficult. But as has already been said, this may become a habit if it were successful. Then one would find in one area a county council running a lottery, a parish council running 1970 a lottery, neighbouring authorities run ning a lottery. It would lead to chaos. I do not wish to weary the House—
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
My Lords, I hesitate to interrupt the noble Lord, but I think I am being done out of a chance to answer. The noble Lord, indeed, has the right to make a speech on the Amendment, but I think I might be entitled to be heard in opposition to it. I have not made a speech on this particular Motion, and I was proposing to say a word or two. I think if the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, goes on with his speech, I am pre-empted. Of course, I am in the hands of the House. If they do not want to hear me I shall not be surprised. But that is the situation.
§ LORD ABERDARE
My Lords, we are discussing the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, on which my noble friend Lord Colville of Culross has not yet spoken. I think it is right that he should speak on the Amendment, and then the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, has the right to wind-up.
§ 6.28 p.m.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
My Lords, I thought that was what was happening! If I could intervene, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, for answering the point about taxation, if indeed he has done so, because I do not know what the answer is myself, although I could find out.
The other thing that has happened to me this afternoon is that I have at last been converted to the practice whereby people come in and do not put their names down to speak, but in fact decide to do so at the last moment, because I 1971 am really looking wherever I may find it for small mercies this afternoon. A rather large one has come my way in the form of the speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips. I am grateful to her, because otherwise I feel the House would not be entirely with me on this matter.
My Lords, I do not want to say a great deal, but I think we ought just to consider what we are doing. First, I am probably right in suggesting that most of your Lordships would like, if they could, to find a method of supplementing local revenues. We have had the general rating system since 1601. Nobody has yet found any method of supplementing or substituting something else for it. I would suggest to your Lordships that the proposition that is put forward in this Bill is worthy of at least this consideration: that it is certainly in my case an honest attempt to do something about a situation that is going to hit a lot of people very hard who would like to have amenities or cultural activities, or something of that sort, within their own locality for which there simply will not be any money.
That is the point of this Bill. It is not to encourage gambling; it is not to produce a proliferation of lotteries. It is to try to get hold of some more money for local government, particularly at a time when, as has been recognised by a number of noble Lords, it is going to be very short indeed. That is what we are talking about. If noble Lords wish to be critical of the way in which I do it, that is one thing. But at least let all of us be aware that if we turn this Bill down we are missing an opportunity—and there will not be another one, because we are not going to get any other measure which deals with this matter in the foreseeable future—whereby we can immediately provide some method of supplementing the local rates. That is the main point of this Bill.
I would say one thing to the right reverend Prelate. There was at one stage in his speech, I thought, a suggestion that the Bill would encourage more gambling. If that is so, that is an argument which cannot exist with the pleas which have come from others in this House—from my noble friends Lord Luke and Lord Wakefield, for instance—that the result of this Bill will be to take 1972 money away from other existing lotteries. You cannot have it both ways: either it is going to increase gambling, in which case the right reverend Prelate is unhappy but my noble friends will not be upset; or it will come from the same pool, in which case the right reverend Prelate is happy but my noble friends will find themselves out of pocket.
The difficulty about the arguments—and the right reverend Prelate said this—is that both of them are anyone's guess. We have no argument on which to go. It is very easy forcefully to assert that the money will come from the sporting lotteries, the charitable lotteries such as the spastics, or the long list that the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, read out—people of that sort. I do not think the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, knows that that is so. He does not claim to know that that is so. Nobody knows that that is so. They fear, they guess, and if they are involved in these activities themselves it is right that they should be a little worried. Nobody can prove that that is where the money will come from.
The noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, suggested that there are other, richer sources, which may also make their contribution. Perhaps it is to be the greater contribution. Certainly, there is no information that I know of—and there was no information available to the inter-departmental Working Party, and they, after all, had plenty of time to consider the matter—which suggests to anyone where the money for a small lottery would come from. If they do not know, and they had all the time in the world and all the expertise to study it, then I do not think, with the greatest respect, that anybody in this House knows either.
§ THE LORD BISHOP OF LEICESTER
My Lords, I read the Report as saying that they could find the money for these extra lotteries only if the prizes for the pools were reduced. I may have misunderstood it, but I think that was their answer.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
My Lords, the right reverend Prelate is right—it was. That indicates that, at any rate, there is something to be said for the noble Baroness's point of view, that the sufferers may not be the small charities, the small lotteries of football and other sporting associations, but the 1973 larger, commercial organisations. I am grateful to the right reverend Prelate for reminding us of that fact.
What we then have is this situation. We are faced with these fears which I entirely understand. We do not know whether or not they are well-founded. Nobody is prepared to try to see. Everybody says we should have a lot more discussion. Nobody so far has wished to discuss it except in this House when, as far as I remember, there was no great outcry of the nature that has come forward to-day. A number of your Lordships, like the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, and my noble friend Lord Luke, joined with the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, in saying it was a great mistake to have piecemeal legislation. Very well, when will the Government legislate? The noble Lord will not be able to tell me, because he does not know. Anyway, he does not have a Bill, and if he did have a Bill he has no Government policy upon its priority. He cannot tell me, and I know this perfectly well.
It is no use merely saying that you must not have piecemeal legislation; you must wait for a wholesale review of this subject by Government legislation. I thould think it is well down the list of priorities in the Home Office. Apart from anything else, it is extremely difficult. I do not believe that the Government are likely to come forward with it first. For the sake of long inaction we are asked to throw out a modest measure. We are asked to throw it out on a Division. There were no Divisions as to the principle of this matter in another place. It has gone through that House in every stage. I am certainly not going to withdraw it because, first of all, I do not think I can; and, secondly, I think it would be the greatest disservice and most unsympathetic to my right honourable friend the Member for Crosby if I did so.
Your Lordships are always making new rules, as the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, reminded us. However, there have not been many occasions when Private Members' Bills which have come from another place have been rejected on Second Reading. May I say this about the Amendment? I understand it is not what is normally meant by a six months' Motion, but in fact it will come to the same thing, because we all know we are to have an 1974 Election in September or October. It is very unusual to reject a Bill in these circumstances, and I wonder whether your Lordships really wish to do so.
I must leave it to your Lordships as to whether you wish to vote for the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, whether you wish to vote against the Second Reading of the Bill itself, or what you ought to do. I think your Lordships should at least consider the points that I have made, and also consider the precedent you are setting. I hope that, at any rate, we may be prepared, if further discussion is what everybody wants, to allow it to go through and then discuss it. My Lords, what better opportunity are we to have than a measure of this sort upon the Floor of the House at Committee stage—I suppose during the spill-over period? I shall look forward to my noble friends saying exactly why they fear the competition that this Bill will set up, what data they have to suppose that the money will come from one source rather than another. They all ask for discussion; discussion let us have and in detail. If that is the only reason that appeals to your Lordships, I hope it will be sufficient to defeat the noble Lord's Amendment and to give my Bill a Second Reading to-day.
§ 5.1 p.m.
§ LORD WIGG
My Lords, the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, has moved his ground. The principal point he made when moving the Bill was that various organisations, very late in the day, had come along and only now at the eleventh hour had spelled out their objections. That statement is just not true. I suspect that the noble Viscount has discovered it is not true. I want to make it quite clear that I do not want to take up a Party position on this matter. This subject covers all Parties. The question of sport, the financing of sport and the handling of gambling in this country are not matters which could ever satisfactorily be dealt with from a Party point of view. If any noble Lord doubted me on this point I would regret it.
I must point out that I served on the Horserace Betting Control Board at the request of a Conservative Government. I subsequently voted against my own Parly many times on the legislation, be-because I could not say one thing in private and do another in public. I was 1975 appointed a member of the Totalisator Board by the then Home Secretary, Mr. Butler, and subsequently reappointed by Mr. Brooke. The whole time I was there I tried to handle this problem as objectively as I could. Having said that, may I point out to the House that the Group of Sports Clubs—to give them their right title—were asked by the Home Office, as were many organisations up and down the country, to deal with the problem which the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, bequeathed them. I repeat that I am making no Party point. The inter-departmental Working Party's report was left to my noble friends in the Government to deal with. They asked for opinions.
To say that a group of men, of which the group of self-supporting pools is one, are squealing, to say that they came forward only at the eleventh hour, is a rank injustice. They printed the report in May. They printed it before the Page Bill reappeared. Indeed, in their report—and I will willingly supply the noble Viscount with a copy—they published an addendum which reads—Since this booklet was prepared Mr. Graham Page has introduced a Bill to permit local authorities to operate lotteries. We presume that Parliament will feel that such a measure should await the outcome of the review of the whole of the lottery laws.That is their position; that is the position of the Gaming Board and of sporting organisations up and down the country. They say that this problem would not be dealt with piecemeal.
The noble Viscount made another point. He said that one Party says that this will increase gambling while the other Party says that it will take gambling away from us. That is a contradiction. It can do both. He then suggests that those of us who have tried to do our homework on this over a very long period do not know what we are talking about. I claim that my reputation for accuracy in this field will stand up against that of Mr. Graham Page. I informed the House that in his article in the Daily Express he said it would affect 378 authorities, whereas in fact it will affect 8,737. I cannot do better than that, or worse than that.
There is another factor—and here again it seems to me that the noble 1976 Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, is an innocent. In this game what you will get depends upon the effort and the resources you use. The commercial pools advertise like mad, but they also now use personal collections. Imagine the position of the G.L.C. in seeking to sell 2 million tickets a month in competition with the pools, without advertising. They propose to spend only £43,000 out of each pool. At the same time the London boroughs are doing precisely the same thing. That is why I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, that if she thinks that there is any "gold in them there hills", she has another shock coming. From a gambling point of view, this is a piece of unutterable nonsense. But that does not alter the fact that it confuses an already very confused picture. At the same time it will break not only sporting clubs but the Spastics and the Cancer Research, all of which are depending on the resources from lotteries which successive Governments, because they have neglected the problem, have encouraged them to build up.
One must assume the good faith of any Government; one assumes the good faith of the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross. The Government have gone to authorities up and down the country, saying, "Please let us have your comments". They came in only in May. One has therefore got to assume that whatever Government are in power after the next Election, they will have to tackle this problem. If they do not do so then Nemesis is over their shoulder because there will be another Ibrox. The last Government introduced the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wheatley, on the moral of Ibrox to supply them with an alibi. Here was a problem that had been known for years; they had done nothing about it, and some sixty people lost their lives. So what do we do? In order to quieten criticism we have an inquiry. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Wheatley, took on the job and the first thing he is told is that there is no Government money available. The Labour Party say that there ought to be Government money available. The Labour Party are now the Government; so they, like the Conservative Government, say, "No money". They say they are all going to depend on lotteries.
1977 If we are not to spend all of our money on lotteries there must be a limit. We are asking that they accept the efforts of those who put effort into it—somewhat misguidedly I think—and say, "Please, there is enough in this. When the new Government come in let us have a Select Committee on an all-Party basis and let us look at our gambling laws as a whole—pools, lotteries, the lot. Let us rationalise legislation which has served the country well but which is now out of date through nobody's fault." Therefore I would ask noble Lords to support me in the Lobby. By delaying this Bill they will be fulfilling the historic function of this House, which all those who support a second Chamber have always claimed to be one of its powers—to act as a brake, as a delaying operation, so that we can have second thoughts and at least take a decision when we have found out the facts.
§ LORD ABERDARE
My Lords, before we divide we ought to be perfectly clear what the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, entails. Although he says that it is a delaying Motion, under our Standing Orders it is in effect the rejection of the Bill. If I may draw the noble Lord's attention to the relevant position, it says that the carrying of an Amendment to leave out the word "now" and add at the end of the Motion "this day three or six months", which purports to the Bill receiving a Second Reading during the current Session, is treated as the rejection
§ of the Bill. It goes on to give the Motions that are put and says that if the Amendment is carried the Bill is rejected. I know that the noble Lord says that we are masters of our own procedure; but this is the current procedure, and I do not think that his Motion could mean other than the rejection of the Bill.
§ LORD WIGG
My Lords, I am much obliged to the noble Lord. I have read that, but of course I live by precedent. I can do no other than read other men's words, and abide by them. But that great authority, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, looking at me the other night, said "Precedents do not operate here. We make our own rules. We live by common sense". I repeat, if this is good enough for the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, it is good enough for me. I am not concerned with what is in the book. I am concerned with the use of my words. I mean what I say, and I say what I mean. I am asking the House, in the light of the fact that there is going to be a General Election, to delay their decision and to support me in the Lobby on my Amendment that this Bill be read in six months' time.
§ 6.48 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 49; Not-Contents, 27.1979
|Aberdare, L.||Granville of Eye, L.||Platt, L.|
|Arwyn, L.||Halsbury, E.||Rhodes, L.|
|Berkeley, B.||Hanworth, V.||Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.|
|Bernstein, L.||Henderson, L.||St.Davids, V.|
|Blyton, L.||Houghton of Sowerby, L. [Teller.]||Shinwell, L.|
|Boolhby, L.||Slater, L.|
|Boyle of Handsworth, L.||Inglewood, L.||Somers, L.|
|Clitheroe, L.||Lee of Asheridge, B.||Stamp. L.|
|Clwyd, L.||Leicester, Bp.||Stow Hill, L.|
|Davies of Leek, L.||Longford, E.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Darling of Hillsborough, L.||Luke. L.||Vernon, L.|
|Douglas of Barloch, L.||Massereene and Ferrard, V.||Wakefield of Kendal, L.|
|Drogheda, E.||Monck, V.||Wigg, L. [Teller]|
|Feather, L.||Oakshott, L.||Willis, L.|
|Ferrers, E.||Onslow, E.||Wolverton, L.|
|Foot, L.||Pannell, L.||Wynne-Jones, L.|
|Alexander of Tunis, E.||Colville of Culross, V. [Teller]||Cowley, E.|
|Bourne, L.||Cranbrook, E.|
|Cathcart, E.||Colwyn, L.||Croft, L.|
|de Clifford, L.||Janner, L.||Phillips, B. [Teller]|
|Drumalbyn, L.||Killearn, L.||Popplewell, L.|
|Emmet of Amberley, B.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.||Rankeillour, L.|
|Gaitskell, B.||Macleod of Borve, B.||St. Aldwyn, E.|
|Grenfell, L.||Merrivale, L.||Selsdon, L.|
|Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.||Milner of Leeds, L.||Windlesham, L.|
|Napier and Ettrick, L.||Wootton of Abinger, B.|
§ Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed accordingly.