HL Deb 05 November 1987 vol 489 cc1132-73

6.36 p.m.

Lord Wyatt of Weeford

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Wyatt of Weeford.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.


Clause 1 [Admission to tracks on Sundays]:

Lord Graham of Edmonton moved Amendment No. 1: Page 1, line 7, after ("track") insert ("licensed under Schedule (Licensing of Tracks for Sunday Sport) and").

The noble Lord said: I categorise this amendment as the local option issue. I should like to explain why I believe it is necessary and will be beneficial to the Bill's promoters. I shall refer to the speech made on Second Reading by the noble Lord, Lord Wyatt, in which he said: This is a harmless little Bill. It can hurt no one".—[Official Report, 15/7/87; col. 1105.] I looked at the Independent today. A gentleman called Ken Jones says: It is really the Sunday Racing Bill and therefore the Sunday Betting Bill".

The noble Lord, Lord Wyatt, may be right; Ken Jones may be right. I merely illustrate that there is some dubiety as to the Bill's purpose and consequences. In asking the Committee to support the premise of my amendment, I wish to speak about one or two other interests that do not see the Bill as harmless. In the Newmarket Weekly News in September the head lad at Henry Cecil's yard said: I am 100 per cent. against Sunday racing. We work enough hours in the day now. It would disrupt what family life we have. About 55 out of the 60 lads here are against it, and so is everyone I have spoken to".

I listened to a debate on the radio on Tuesday morning in which the whole issue of Sunday, not solely sport, was introduced. I took careful note of one lady who said that she had worked for the Tote. She declared herself to be totally against Sunday racing. She also said that 50 of the employees in the team with which she worked were against it.

I shall bring before the Committee the views of various other interests. With great respect to the noble Lord, Lord Wyatt, the picture that he painted is not the picture that has been drawn to my attention. I am certainly not against horseracing or betting. I attend horseracing meetings and I bet. I am against the Bill because it is deficient in a number of important areas.

The Bill says nothing about the protection of employees. I have read the fine words saying that they will be looked after and that negotiations will resolve the issue. We all know that protections must be written into a Bill. I say that with no disrespect to the integrity of those who believe that matters can be resolved. When we consider other issues, I shall be more definite about what those in the industry feel in regard to their chances of proper protection.

The amendment says that when a race meeting takes place other people are affected besides those who race or who work at the racecourse. There are the people round the track; there are those who are forced to work in other ways; there is the total environment. The Bill purports to be concerned not only with racing—if the Bill dealt with racing only it would be easier to debate—but with sport in general. When a sporting event is likely to occur on a Sunday, I submit that the community in the surrounding area can be affected detrimentally.

The schedule proposed in a later amendment says that when the Bill is enacted the licensing authority will have the power to take into account not only those who ride racehorses or make profits out of the industry but also others who are even more detrimentally affected, that is, the people living in the community.

The proposed new schedule states: The licensing authority may refuse to grant the licence if they are satisfied that, in the event of the licence being granted, the existence or user of the track would injuriously affect either the health or the comfort of persons residing in the neighbourhood of the track, or be detrimental of the interests of persons receiving instructions or residing in any institution in that neighbourhood". It has to be satisfied that that would happen, but no protection would be provided. The schedule continues, would seriously impair the amenities of that neighbourhood". I invite the Committee to say that a responsible body, if it considers that that would happen, has a choice: either to ignore it or act upon it. The schedule continues, would result in undue congestion of traffic or seriously prejudice the preservation of law and order". I suggest that those are reasonable criteria and preconditions for a community that may or may not want the event to take place but that will be affected by the event taking place.

I understand the general trend towards sport on Sunday and what might be called liberalisation. I take strong issue with those who say that it is all or nothing at all, that there are no half-way houses and that because no protections can be built in one must accept or reject. However, if it is a question of the legal right to race horses on a Sunday, that provision can be made without detriment of the kind to which I have referred.

In considering the interests affected, one needs to ensure a balance of interests. I shall be interested to hear the views of those who oppose the amendment and who believe that the interests of residents, traffic and the general environment can be protected by some means other than legislation. I am open to persuasion. As we consider the amendments, I hope to hear that the interests of various groups of people are considered to be as important as racing horses or making money, the two prime purposes of the Bill. If I can be persuaded that those who wish to race horses and make money are prepared to tailor the Bill to take account of the interests that I have put forward, then I believe that the Bill can be passed to the satisfaction of the Committee.

The promoters of the Bill seem to believe that they have taken into account the interests of the people I have mentioned and that they have consulted them. I have not been briefed in detail, but I have read the newspapers. When we come to consider the employee issue, I shall certainly quote the trade union that represents employees and many others. I invite the Committee to say that if the Bill is to go forward we can improve it.

As a local government man all my life before entering the other place and then your Lordships' House, I have always firmly believed in the ability of a local council, regardless of its political complexion, to judge the issues affecting the local community and to be responsible for its interests. The council invariably consists of those living in the locality. Many noble Lords who will vote in favour of racing taking place in certain parts of the country do not live in those parts; they visit on race days. What is at issue is the people who live in an area. Local councillors move about, listen to the people and are advised by them. At the end of the day, they will carry the can. Unless there is a mechanism to provide a voice for the local community, we shall be guilty of enacting one sided legislation. I am certain there will be some contention on that issue.

I seek a willingness on the part of the promoters to take account of the interests that I have mentioned. They should not seek to escape by saying that this is a simple and harmless little Bill.

6.45 p.m.

Viscount Brentford

In supporting the amendment, I welcome the principle of the Sunday sports law being updated in a form in which it is right. The question before us is what that form should be. I support Sunday recreation—good family recreation or other activity. However, I am not in favour of total deregulation of all Sunday sporting activity.

Let me remind the Committee of the Crathorne Committee of1964. Many of its arguments remain valid. The report stated that, there is a case for some relaxation of the prohibition on spectators' sports on Sunday but we do not recommend that it should be completely abolished". I subscribe to that view. I believe that we need to work out the considered and sensible application of that principle. There should be a balance between the needs of those who want the sport and those whose interests conflict, and we need to find the right balance. It is an important question. The interests of many people will be affected. The noble Lord, Lord Graham refers to the police in the proposed schedule. The local police force is important. Then there are the people who live in the area of the track, the governing bodies of schools, other institutions and the licensing authorities, all of whom could be affected.

If the local community believed that the opening of a track would seriously affect the local amenities, the local authority should have some say as to whether or not it was right to open. The local authority is in a position to balance these conflicting interests. It might give rise to undue traffic congestion on a Sunday. Those who live in the area of a football stadium have said to me that they dread to think of losing the peace of Sunday when the football stadium is opened in their vicinity.

This procedure of a licensing authority has worked well for licensing of sports stadia for betting facilities for many years. I believe that we should give it a try to see whether it will meet the needs of the local authority area. The Crathorne Committee said that we should hit a balance. I believe that we should have a balance, and that the local authority could provide the answer. I support this amendment.

Lord Milverton

I rise to support this amendment. It is very important that a check is kept on Sunday sports. Many people wish that Sundays should not be unnecessarily disturbed by those wishing to play sport. Where this concerns horseracing, or sports where there is gaining and getting of money, one cannot help asking whether it is really necessary on seven days of the week to think just of gaining and getting.

One may ask a person in my position about a sport such as cricket. Perhaps one is splitting hairs if one says that that is slightly different. On behalf of those who have strong feelings on conscience and about family life I support the principle behind the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton. This Bill needs to be made thoroughly safe. I support this amendment and all the others. Let us not make Sunday simply another weekday.

Baroness Ewart-Biggs

I support this amendment as moved by my noble friend. It seems to produce a compromise which, as he explained, would allow for racing on Sunday at the same time as providing a safeguard for local communities.

I remember the arguments put forward against the idea of local control on Sunday trading. The main argument was that traders would face a very real risk of losing business to their competitors across local authority boundaries. There was therefore a need to avoid regional discrepancies in order for justice to be done in the market place. However, our local authority sports option deals not so much with public justice as with public nuisance. Moreover, a sports fixture can always be rescheduled. The demand for Sunday sport is not so great that many sports would be competing for spectators within a locality. This contrasts directly with the local trade option, where competition is very concentrated.

The issue here is not one of justice but more of nuisance. Under a local sports option the local community has within its grasp the power to say no to the opening of a track on Sunday because it feels that it would impair the amenities of the district and disturb the peaceful environment that it prefers to have one day a week. After all, the local population will know and experience the consequence of Sunday sport. I feel that on reasonable criteria it is in a better position to decide than a similar form of centralised control.

The most important result of including this amendment in the Bill would be to safeguard the interests of the local community. It is the lack of such safeguards in the Bill at present that worries so many people.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

Perhaps my noble friend will be good enough to confirm that she is speaking on this matter in a personal capacity from the Dispatch Box, because it is the tradition on our side that we do not take an official view on Private Members' Bills.

Lord Denning

When we had the Sunday trading Bill I was in favour of local options, of the local community granting permission or not, with regard to do-it-yourself centres or garden centres and so on, because this is a matter which concerns a community and the attitudes in one district or county of England are different from those of another. I do not live so very far away from a big racecourse. It is the nuisance—the congestion on the roads, and matters of that kind—which affect the local people. Let it be a local option. Let it be dealt with by the local authority, which knows the feelings of the place. I support the amendment.

Lord Wyatt of Weeford

It would not be a harmless little Bill if, as the noble Lord, Lord Graham, would like, we spawned from it a vast host of new licensing authorities. I cannot imagine anything worse than the spattering blare of lots of little committees and authorities all deciding whether or not this cricket field, that football pitch or that athletic ground should be allowed to open.

The schedule provides that one obtains a licence for two years and one has to notify in advance of the whole two years how many Sundays one proposes to use the sports ground on in each year. That is a total impossibility. If one takes the example of football, there might be a replay of some important cup match. How does one know on which Sunday, or on how many Sundays, this will take place? Although there may be a good intention behind this schedule, it is utterly impractical and would make restriction where none exists today.

We already have at least 3 million people a year attending sporting functions for which they are charged entry. There is none of this regulation. I thought that we had reached a period in our lives where we wanted less regulation and not more, especially when it is quite unnecessary. I do not see how anybody will be able to say so long in advance what grounds will be used, when, for what and why.

I should like to correct one misapprehension which seems to be gaining ground quite rapidly this evening. This is not a Bill simply about racing. It covers the whole of sport in Great Britain. It covers Wimbledon finals on Sundays or the Liverpool v. Everton cup match last Sunday, which was broadcast by the BBC. That was of course aiding and abetting the keeping of a disorderly place! Do let us realise that we are not talking in this Bill about one narrow aspect of sport but about all the sporting activities of this country which are very much valued. Many would like to be able to perform them on Sundays as well as any other day.

7 p.m.

Lord Elton

The noble Lord, Lord Wyatt, has usefully reminded Members of the Committee that this is a Bill not only about racing—although it was as a Bill about racing that it came to my attention very belatedly in the last 36 hours. As it is a Bill on racing, it is also a Bill about betting, as the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, has said.

It is difficult to dissociate the two considerations, but if we can for a moment I should like the Committee to consider the local disruption that can occur when a large sporting event takes place either close to or, as happens in places like Leicester, in the middle of a large community. All the people who live there are affected in one way or another.

There are those who want to take part in whatever joyful activity it may be and there are those who have to provide the services for them. There are those whose livelihood depends upon providing those services and who will not be looked well upon by their employers if they decline so to do, whatever any act of Parliament may say about wrongful dismissal. There are those whose duty it is to keep the traffic moving and those whose duty it is to separate the fierce and sometimes bloodthirsty encounters of those who are not participators in but spectators at the joyful and harmless occupation. There are those who have to get the crowds there and those who have to bring them back.

We are talking not only about the little local cricket club, the ground, that the noble Lord referred to, but also the large amphitheatre and stadium. I therefore think that as long as the Bill is in its present shape and does not distinguish between large and small activities, the onus must be on the promoters of the Bill to protect those affected by the large events they may wish to authorise. They cannot shelter from that duty by saying that it is not necessary to produce that protection in regard to the smaller activities which will thereby be facilitated.

That being so, it seems to me that there is a good deal of sense in giving power to the local authority to decide what goes on in the local community. I must remind the noble Lord that it is not a question of scattering the country with a vast list of new licensing authorities. They all exist. The local authorities already exist; they are licensing authorities; they carry out exactly these functions for other purposes. They have a staff equipped and trained to do so, with remarkably little fuss and at no great expense. This would not add to the expense one whit.

I do not doubt that the Minister—I do not need to read over his shoulder to tell the Committee—will in due course say that the amendment is flawed and that the schedule is wrongly drafted. Ministers always say that and I regret to say that they are always right when they do so. But it is not the function of those noble Lords who wish the Bill to proceed in a proper manner to draft it so that it does. It is the Committee's function to bring upon the promoters of the Bill notice that that is a requirement of this Chamber if the Bill is to proceed. That therefore seems to me good ground for regarding with some favour what the noble Lord Lord Graham of Edmonton, has proposed to the Committee.

I say only this. It is, as the noble Lord has said, a Bill about betting as well as about sport. if the two remain wedded, as they now are in the text of the Bill—it is, after all, also a Bill about racing and we know where the motive power for this Bill lies—if it is a Bill about racing and about betting, then it will not be economically worth while having the Bill unless all the betting shops in the high streets are open when racing takes place. As the Bill is drafted they can be open whenever any function takes place at any venue in the country. That is a sweeping commission.

If the decision as to whether racing or another event is to take place is delegated to the local authority in whose area it is proposed to hold it, and if there is later proposed, very sensibly in my view, permission to keep the betting shops open on Sunday only on days when there is racing, then the Committee would, if the Bill is not amended again after this amendment, be delegating to the local authority in Derby or Leicester the decision as to whether the betting shops should be open on Sunday in Norwich, Exeter, Oxford or Cambridge. I think noble Lords might think twice about that if they happen to live in Norwich, Exeter or Cambridge.

Therefore, I support the noble Lord in his amendment, but, first, he will almost certainly need to have it redrafted and, secondly, if it is accepted it will be necessary also to untie it in some way from this great mass of betting shops, which I do not think any of us want to see open on Sunday anyway.

The Earl of Caithness

Perhaps at this stage it would be appropriate for me to say a word or two. The Government's position on racing is that, provided suitable arrangements are made for betting to take place lawfully, we see no reason to stand in the way of horseracing on Sundays. That is the view that we have expressed before and are expressing again. We do not have any plans at present to introduce legislation of our own on this subject, so it will be for the Committee to decide how to handle the amendments before it.

I say to my noble friend Lord Milverton, who is very much one of those who wants to keep Sunday special, that already there are over 5,671,000 people—that is, one fifth of the paid working force in 1986—working on Saturday and Sunday or on Sunday by itself. For them Sunday is a day that is rather like many others. Indeed I suspect my noble friend does one or two duties on Sunday that he does not do during the rest of the week.

Because of the schedule in Amendment No. 19, which is consequential on this amendment, one can see some of the effects that this will have. Indeed my noble friend Lord Elton pointed out that it should be the responsibility of those who organise the events under the amendment to make suitable arrangements if they are held. I take my noble friend back to the Crathorne Committee, which was mentioned by my noble friend Lord Brentford, because this committee made recommendations for change for sport. It sought as part of its balancing act a distinction between sports played for reward, which should continue to be prohibited on Sundays, and those played by amateurs, which were acceptable even if they drew big crowds. So since 1964 we have had amateurs being allowed to play on Sundays drawing large crowds, and for over 23 years some of the things that my noble friend has wanted have already been in existence.

The definition in the Crathorne Committee report seems an increasingly hopeless distinction for the purposes of Sunday observance and sport. Therefore in view of changing attitudes we do not think there is much purpose in looking back and taking too seriously some of the committee's amendments.

We think that the amendment proposed would be additionally restrictive on the operation of sports on Sundays and we see no justification for applying to sports the burdens of licensing arrangements. It would be a huge burden on a wide variety of sports, as set out in the schedule introduced to this amendment.

If this amendment were to be carried on a Division, if that is what the noble Lord, Lord Graham, would like, it will have very serious repercussions on those people whom he seeks to support in other ways, such as the Prison Officers' Association—some of whom find Sunday is their only free day and would like to go to some of the sports, which probably will not be held under the schedule—or indeed the firemen and police, who work some weekends.

Noble Lords

Oh no!

The Earl of Caithness

That is true, and I hope the noble Lord will take it on board.

Lord Elton

Is my noble friend suggesting that the Prison Officers' Association is actually in favour of this Bill?

The Earl of Caithness

No, what I was saying—my noble friend was quick to try to turn my words, but he was wrong—was that the effect of the amendment would have serious repercussions on other sporting events that exist at the moment. People who work on Saturdays and find that Sunday is a free day may wish to go to such a sporting event but they would not be able to in the future.

Lord Manton

Perhaps I may comment briefly on one point made by the noble Lord, Lord Graham, in proposing his amendment. I am speaking now only from a racing point of view, but I suspect that what applies to racing applies to cricket as well. The racing fixture list is compiled about 18 months to two years before the racing takes place. The fixture list is drawn up in about March of one year for the following year. One may be talking in March about an event that is to happen in December of the following year. Local authorities can change. What is acceptable to one local authority 18 months in advance may well not be acceptable 18 months later.

The racecourses will not have many opportunities to race on Sundays anyway, but if a racecourse gets an opportunity to race 18 months later the amendment suggests that one has to go to the local authority for the licence. I do not think that a local authority would be in a position to give authority 18 months in advance. If it were, there could be a local election and the decision might be overturned. A racecourse which had advertised the meeting would find itself in an extremely difficult position. I suspect that that might also happen to a cricket fixture list and to other sporting events.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

Perhaps I may deal with the point fairly made by the previous speaker. We are talking about legislation and powers. If this Chamber and the other place were to take a decision on the matter, there is nothing to say that a subsequent opportunity for a change of mind would not result in a change of legislation. If the noble Lord is saying that one council which approved the fixture list that was presented to it would be in danger two years later if there were a change of control and a change of heart, the answer is, yes. That is what we call democracy. If the second group of people were so minded as to change something, they would be doing it because they believed that it was in the interests of the local people. They could be right or they could be wrong.

I should have said this at the beginning, but I did not and so I do so now. I certainly do not put forward the schedule as complete and perfect. I am well aware of the drafting errors that can be pointed out, but let us stick to the principle. The principle I am asking the Committee to accept is that, in addition to the many other people who are consulted about whether a race meeting, a football match a tennis match or a golf tournament is arranged, the local people should be consulted. I suggest that this be done through their representatives. That is a fair point.

The noble Lord, Lord Wyatt, tried to tell us that this would open up a can of worms. He said that a multiplicity of boards and committees would be spawned. The noble Lord, Lord Elton, pointed out that if one wants to be dramatic one can use words like that, but if one wants to be practical and if one has good will one can find ways around it.

The Minister told us that the Government see no objection to horseracing and betting on a Sunday if arrangements can be made. I have a letter before me from a Member of Parliament, who says: I am very much against horseracing and gambling on Sundays". It is signed, "Margaret Thatcher". I shall repeat the letter: I am very much against horseracing and gambling on Sundays". The letter was to a constituent. The letter is of some age and she may have changed her mind, but this lady is not for turning. On the other hand, she is apparently able to change her mind. She changed it once and she can change it again. I say to Members of the Committee: besides thinking of your interests in the matter, think of the people who are going to be affected locally.

Baroness Macleod of Borve

Before the noble Lord sits down, can he tell us the date of that letter?

Lord Graham of Edmonton

It is dated 9th June 1970.

Lord Elton

As the noble Lord has manifestly not sat down, perhaps I may ask him to address himself to one narrow point which I think would help the Committee very much.

My noble friend Lord Manton is concerned about the possibility of the revocation of a licence after it has been granted in the 24 months that may elapse between the grant and the event. Does the noble Lord agree that the power of revocation of licences is restricted to paragraph 13 of the schedule and that the grounds for a revocation are all listed there and relate to the mismanagement of the track, public safety or analogous conditions? There is no power to revoke it on a political whim. It is simply a matter of a clear breach of the circumstances when the licence could be held to be valid. It would be helpful if the noble Lord could confirm that.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I am most grateful to the noble Lord. Lord Elton. Paragraph 13, which is headed "Revocation of licence and appeal therefrom", takes up most of the schedule. Care and concern has been taken to make sure that there is fair play if the licensing authority considers for one reason or another that the licence needs to be revoked. I say again to the noble Lord, Lord Manton, that I am certainly in the business of looking at amendments to this schedule at the next stage if the principle of the schedule to allow local people to express their views is accepted by the Committee. I wish to press the amendment.

7.17 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 1) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 30, Not-Contents, 35.

Airedale, L. Ingleby, V.
Ashbourne, L. Kissin, L.
Attlee, E. Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.
Brentford, V. [Teller.] Milverton, L.
Brockway, L. Murray of Epping Forest, L
Bruce of Donington, L. Nicol, B.
Caldecote, V. Robertson of Oakridge, L.
Carter, L. Seear, B.
Coleraine, L. Southwark, Bp.
Denning, L. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Elton, L. Swinfen, L.
Ewart-Biggs, B. Turner of Camden, B.
Faithfull, B. Underhill, L.
Gallacher, L. Vinson, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L. [Teller.] Ypres, E.
Allenby of Megiddo, V. Macleod of Borve, B.
Allerton, L. Manton, L. [Teller.]
Balfour, E. Merrivale, L.
Benson, L. Monson, L.
Blatch, B. Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Craigavon, V. Newall, L.
Craigmyle, L. Orkney, E.
Crawshaw, L. Plummer of St Marylebone, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Reay, L.
Greenway, L. Roxburghe, D.
Head, V. Russell of Liverpool, L.
Hemphill, L. St. John of Fawsley, L.
Houghton of Sowerby, L. Strathclyde, L.
Howie of Troon, L. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Lane-Fox, B.
Leverhulme, V. Trevethin and Oaksey, L.
Lindsey and Abingdon, E. Windlesham, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. Wyatt of Weeford, L. [Teller.]

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly

7.26 p.m.

Lord Graham of Edmonton moved Amendment No. 2: Page 1, line 7, after ("used") insert ("after 2 p.m.)".

The noble Lord said: The purpose of the amendment is to achieve a degree of certainty in the Bill which is a case of all or nothing. There is no time element in the Bill as regards the sporting event. There is no restriction on the playing hours of other sports. The only restriction is in respect of the opening of betting shops. I believe that two o'clock is a much better time to legalise the other events.

We are looking at a series of imperatives that we are trying to protect. It is not merely a question of Sunday morning and of worship by Christians and others; we are trying to protect Sunday morning as such. In later amendments I shall return to my deep desire of trying to provide the maximum protection for those who are forced by circumstance, economic and otherwise, to work on Sunday. Therefore, I am anxious to make the legalisation of the commencement of sporting events on Sunday as late as is practicable. In practice, a two o'clock start on a Sunday is not far from that which is the vogue. Not many events start earlier than that time on a Sunday. The amendment is an attempt to give the Bill a little more meaning while protecting a number of people who have no protection at all under the Bill. I beg to move.

Baroness Macleod of Borve

I should like to draw the attention of the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, to the words at the top of the Bill. He will see that the hour of 12 noon is mentioned. I do not think that this has anything to do with betting offices but rather with the starting of events. I thought that the noble Lord had said that the time was not mentioned.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

With respect, I said that the only reference in the Bill to time was the noon in respect of betting but as regards the commencement of events there is no control. The problem is that the Bill seeks to serve a number of purposes, one of which is to legalise betting on Sundays. We are also trying to be fair to the promoters who tell us that the Bill is about more than betting; it is about the holding of sporting events. In this amendment I am proposing that sporting events are not commenced before 2 p.m. It may not be acceptable and the Committee may take the view that it wants no restriction of any kind at all.

7.30 p.m.

Lord Airedale

I should like to interpose a few words at this point. I have tabled two amendments, one of which, Amendment No. 6, is very much on the lines of the present amendment. My second amendment, Amendment No. 11, simply suggests that the opening hours of the betting offices should be the same as those of the racecourses, and perhaps I may now speak to that amendment also. I should make it clear that I am speaking only about horseracing.

I was very impressed by the Second Reading speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Brentford. I remember that some years ago I heard a very impressive speech from the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Coggan, who was of course speaking from the Bishops' Front Bench. He spoke several times in this Chamber about a matter which was very dear to his heart; namely, the preservation of family life at all costs. That particular debate was on an occasion very similar to this one. We were discussing Sunday afternoon sport. He was not against the idea at all but his message was: "Don't start too early in the afternoon, that's all, because if you do, you will injure that splendid occasion, the family Sunday lunch". The pace of modern life today and the large numbers of people who do shift work and so on mean that Sunday lunch may be the only time in the week when the family come together. Sunday lunch also ensures at least one square meal a week for young members of the family, some of whom may subsist for the rest of the week on junk food taken at uncertain and irregular intervals.

The other day I opened at random a copy of that reliable guide, Sporting Life, and I found that one of the race meetings that day began at 2.30 p.m. I suggest that we declare that Sunday horse racing shall begin at 2.30 p.m. I do not suppose that at the races a bet for the 2.30 race can be placed with a bookmaker before 2 o'clock, so I should have thought that if a 2 o'clock start were right for the racecourse on Sunday then a 2 o'clock opening would be equally right for the betting shop.

I have heard it suggested that there might be a big race taking place and that there might not be time for all the punters to be accommodated should there be a 2 o'clock opening. I do not follow that argument. I understand that Sunday racing will take place at only one racecourse, so the scene in the betting shop will not be similar to that on a hectic Saturday when there are perhaps five race meetings and races taking place at 10-minute intervals all through the afternoon. I should have thought that the punters could be adequately accommodated on Sunday with a 2 o'clock opening for both the betting shop and the racecourse.

The two amendments that I have tabled refer to British summertime. I have to accept that it might be thought desirable to have a race meeting on a Sunday in the middle of the Christmas holidays, and daylight hours being as they are in mid-winter, it would not be satisfactory for a race meeting to begin at 2.30 p.m. I am afraid that on that particular Sunday of the year the family Sunday lunch might have to suffer, but I daresay that not too much damage would be done.

Viscount Brentford

In supporting this amendment, perhaps I may briefly endorse the remarks of both the noble Lords, Lord Graham and Lord Airedale, with whom I agree. Different groups of people would be affected by sporting activities that go on all day on Sundays. I also endorse everything that has already been said about the family.

Secondly, I think that we should remember the local community. Sunday morning is a time of peace and quiet for many people. I touched on that point earlier when we were discussing the previous amendment. I believe that it is very worthwhile to keep some part of every week free from noise, traffic congestion and everything that accompanies large sports meetings. This amendment will keep Sunday different from every other day of the week. For that reason I endorse the starting time of 2 o'clock. Further, there may be churches close to sporting stadia and it may prove difficult for churchgoers if they cannot park nearby. There are of course many other problems associated with large sports meetings.

For those reasons I believe that the 2 o'clock start is infinitely preferable to having a meeting going on all day.

Lord Murray of Epping Forest

I support the amendment because it seeks to limit the harmful effects of the Bill on employees whose needs, as has already been mentioned by many Members of the Committee, are ignored in the Bill. During our discussion of the Shops Bill, this Chamber made it clear that whatever its merits, it was wrong—and I think that it was the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, who used the phrase—to smuggle into the Bill a worsening of employees' conditions. Whatever the standards used, by requiring people to work on Sundays this Bill is worsening their existing rights and expectations as well as those of their families. Therefore any way in which the Bill can be improved so as to limit the ill effects of this legislation on those employees and their families will, I hope, commend itself to the Committee.

Lord Manton

I should like to comment very briefly in answer to the noble Lord, Lord Airedale. Certainly the intention of the Bill is for racing to take place on three courses—perhaps geographically in the North, South and Midlands—on the Sundays when racing is allowed. That will initially perhaps amount to seven Sundays, so we are talking about 21 race meetings. The noble Lord seemed to think that there would be only one race meeting on a Sunday.

Lord Elton

The noble Lord, Lord Manton, pauses to recollect what he intends to say next. Where does it appear in the Bill that the intention is only to race on a handful of Sundays?

Lord Manton

That is correct.

Lord Elton

But where in the Bill is it stated that that is the intention? We are debating a Bill, which is a draft Act of Parliament, that may allow these things to happen on every day of the year except Good Friday and Christmas Day. Where is the restriction to which the noble Lord refers?

Lord Manton

We shall come to that when we come to my amendment later on.

Lord Elton

Is my noble friend saying that if the Committee agrees to his amendment that will be the effect of the Bill but that as drafted at present the Bill permits racing on every Sunday? I think that that is the point that the noble Lord was addressing.

Lord Airedale

Do we not have to entertain the possibility that Sunday racing will catch on and that there will be a clamour from racecourses all over the country to have their meetings on Sunday'? We cannot tell how popular it will become.

Lord Manton

The Jockey Club very closely monitors and controls the fixture list. The Committee will have to take it at face value perhaps. The Jockey Club has stated that there will not be more than perhaps 12 Sundays on which racing can take place. There is absolutely no intention of allowing racecourses to say, "We want to race on Tuesday," or, "We want to race next Sunday". As I explained earlier, the fixture list is drawn up two years in advance, and is very carefully approved, controlled and fine-tuned. That is the answer.

Lord Wyatt of Weeford

Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, has not understood the full implication of his amendment. If it were the case that no sporting event where admission was charged should take place before 2 p.m., it would make utterly impossible such events as one-day cricket at Lord's, because they have to begin well before 2 p.m.; otherwise they do not get a result. Likewise, any sport which requires a great deal of daylight, like motor racing or motorcycle racing, has to begin before 2 o'clock and must be able to do so. On the other hand, if you only begin racing at 2 p.m., in the winter it will be dark before the last race.

So in one way or another, although no doubt the amendment is intended to be helpful, I do not think it would help anybody. Goodness knows what one would do with the vast crowd of a quarter of a million at Silverstone and their Sunday lunches, while they were waiting for the performance to begin at 2 p.m. Normally I think that they put on other races for them while they are waiting. I think that the amendment would simply wreck a number of sports that take place already on Sunday, because the intention of it is in some way to regulate existing sports.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

I always hesitate before disagreeing with a fellow member of the MCC, but if I may say so to my noble friend Lord Wyatt, surely Sunday one-day games do not begin before 2 p.m. Am I wrong about that? Maybe I am.

Lord Wyatt of Weeford

The noble Lord is quite wrong. I live close to Lord's and I am frequently woken up early on a Sunday by people queuing at 7 a.m. for a start at 10 a.m. or 11 a.m.

Lord Elton

I do not wish to weary the Committee or my noble friend Lord Manton on this question, but he said that the intention would be evident on his Amendment No. 9. Although I see that there is a reference to permission for racing being granted, I see no reference to the number of permissions that may be given. The Bill, even as amended by that amendment—and we are not discussing that amendment—would appear to give a power to race on every Sunday.

We are familiar with undertakings given by governments, when large powers are claimed, not to use them. The persuasive argument on those occasions is, "If you do not use them you may not have them". So I am not persuaded by my noble friend's saying that this is only to happen on seven days a year, because it seems to me that it is not in his gift, or in anybody's gift at the moment, to say how the power may be used, once it is there, in five, ten or fifteen years' time.

I do not wish to detain the Committee longer, but I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Murray, for the reason given by the right reverend Prelate in the Second Reading debate, that we must seek to limit the effects of this Bill because it is wrong to try to change Sunday by fraying the edges. That is what the right reverend Prelate said. If we are to change Sunday, then let us only change the afternoons.

At present, a great many things happen on Sunday. As I understand it, it is not the intention of the noble Lord, Lord Graham, to stop those. He wishes to limit the permissive effect. if that is not the effect of his amendment, it can always be rectified on another occasion if he so wishes. In any case, he may wish to reflect until Report.

The Earl of Caithness

That is the effect, as I understand it, of the noble Lord's amendment. It will affect not only cricket matches, but also British open golf and Wimbledon if they start before 2 o'clock. It precisely affects sports that take place now.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

It is perfectly true that rather than have, as the Bill stands, a sporting event at which money is charged for admission starting at any time of the day, we are trying to limit the time. Some people may argue that 2 o'clock is too late. The Crathorne Report suggested 12.30. This Bill is absolutely silent.

Points have been made in the Committee about the manner in which local people may be affected—the noble Lord, Lord Wyatt, mentioned this—by people who queue. That may not disturb the noble Lord, Lord Wyatt, but it may disturb other people. It may be that 2 o'clock is the wrong time. Certainly one envisages the ability to gain admission earlier, and I wonder whether the noble Lord has heard of arrangements for pre-selling tickets. There is a principle involved in trying to restrict the disturbance on a Sunday to the afternoon, as opposed to having an elastic time.

However, I am not in the business of standing in every ditch and fighting on every issue. There are other issues that need to be debated. I have listened very carefully to what some people have pointed out about the serious difficulties in putting in a time. I am not persuaded that a time need not be put in, though I am satisfied that we have served a purpose on this issue by debating it tonight for 17 minutes. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

7.45 p.m.

Lord Wyatt of Weeford moved Amendment No. 3: Leave out Clause 1 and insert the following new clause:

("Sporting events on Sundays.

The entertainments and amusements to which the Sunday Observance Act 1780 applies shall not include any race, athletic sports or other sporting event.").

The noble Lord said: This amendment is intended to clarify what the Act is all about, so that people may not be confused into thinking that every place which has a sporting event is a track. It also makes it clear, doubly sure, that anyone involved in promoting, running, organising or taking part in the running of a sporting event for which admission is charged will be free from prosecution under the Sunday Observance Act.

When the Cuerden Park motorcycle scrambling organisation was prosecuted in 1956, the clerk of the course and the chairman of the stewards were each fined £50 and the convictions were confirmed by the Divisional Court. But there were also further convictions for aiding and abetting against the chief marhsall and the starter. So the net being spread so wide, with various humble officials or insignificant cogs in the wheel being prosecuted, we thought it wiser to make it quite clear that nobody involved in the promotion of such an event will be prosecuted. The amendment, also lets out organisations such as the BBC, which regularly televise sporting events for which money is charged on a Sunday, from being under the charge of aiding and abetting. I beg to move.

Lord Elton

If anybody else is going to speak, I think I should just point out that the effect of this amendment would be to make it very difficult for the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, to move his Amendment No. 4, and he may not therefore be speaking to it. But if he is going to do so, then I need not say that I do not agree with it.

Baroness Macleod of Borve

May I very briefly say what I said at Second Reading? As a magistrate, I have been very worried for many years that since 1780, when the Act was passed, all the people, not only those promoting but those attending and paying to go to any sporting fixture unless it is for charity, have been infringing the law. I want the law altered so that people are made into law-abiding citizens.

Viscount Caldecote

This amendment clarified the present situation, which is unsatisfactory because a lot of paid sports are taking place which are illegal. I should like to come back to the point which the noble Lord, Lord Elton, made earlier—that we do not want to make Sunday like any other day and have paid sport carried on throughout Sunday. If only we could find some way, perhaps with a different amendment from the one that was defeated earlier, to deal with the subject in that way, I should feel much happier. Perhaps we can come back to this point at Report stage, because this is a very sweeping but tidying-up amendment which does not meet the points that many noble Lords have already made in this debate.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

New Clause 1 agreed to.

Lord Graham of Edmonton had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 4. After Clause 1, insert the following new clause:

("Fine for contravening s. 1.

In the case of any contravention of the Sunday Observance Act 1780 (as amended by section 1 of this Act) in connection with any race, athletic or sporting event taking place at a track on a Sunday, the occupier of the track shall be liable to a fine not exceeding £50,000.").

The noble Lord said: This amendment hinges upon matters that have already been debated. Therefore, in the light of what has transpired, I certainly do not give any undertaking not to return to the earlier debates and the consequences of not carrying through a licence. To be fair to the Committee one needs to reflect upon the consequences of what has transpired. Therefore, to be helpful, I shall not move the amendment.

[Amendment No. 4 not moved.]

Clause 2 [Removal of restrictions on betting on Sundays]:

Lord Graham of Edmonton moved Amendment No. 5:

Page 1, line 12, leave out from beginning to (";and") in line 14 and insert— ("(a) in section 5(1)(b) for the words "or Sunday" there shall be substituted the words "or any Sunday other than those Sundays (being not more than seven in number in any period of twelve months) designated by the Jockey Club as Sundays on which betting might take place on Sundays on tracks throughout the United Kingdom (excluding Northern Ireland."").

The noble Lord said: This is a simple amendment. I am trying, as always, to limit the effect of a Bill which has very little restriction whatever. As the Bill hangs so heavily on racing on a Sunday and betting shops being open on a Sunday I do not want the Bill because it is a unity. However, I acknowledge that there is a desire on the part of certain interests to have racing on a Sunday.

I know that Members of the Jockey Club said on 13th September during their meeting at Sandown that they envisaged that in 1989 racing should take place either on seven Sundays or thereabouts. That does not mean, I understand, seven race meetings. It could very well be 17, 18 or 19 race meetings but held on seven Sundays. In fact it is 21 meetings. It is not so much the 21 spots that may or may not be benefited or affected; it is the seven Sundays that are important. So the purpose of this amendment is to take on board that which has been professed and to decide that if that is what the intention is we must give it effect in legislation. Let us limit it to seven. I beg to move.

Viscount Brentford

I support the amendment. Bearing in mind what my noble friend Lord Manton has said, this amendment puts into the Bill what he says is its intention. It seems to me that we should have in the Bill what is intended. I feel confident that my noble friend will support the amendment. It is an important amendment that will clarify the position. The whole nation will know what is going to happen. Nothing else can go beyond it unless Parliament were so to direct. I therefore feel that the amendment is a right and proper move to incorporate in the Bill.

Lord Manton

I wish to reply to my noble friend Lord Brentford. If he recalls, on Second Reading the current senior steward of the Jockey Club, the noble Lord, Lord Fairhaven, told the House that the intention in year one was to have perhaps three or two but probably one meeting in the North, one in the South and one in the Midlands. I hope that that point is taken. It was to be a special family occasion allied perhaps to a fair or acrobatics— that type of thing. Another point is the early opening or closing of a racecourse. The noble Lord told the House that if that was a success, there could perhaps be an expansion to 12 race meetings. The Committee can read that in Hansard. It is the hope of the Jockey Club that the amendment will not be limited to seven meetings. Perhaps if the amendment were altered slightly there might be more ground for acceding to it.

Viscount Brentford

While my noble friend is still on his feet I wish to ask him whether, if he were to accept this amendment, another amendment could be moved on Report to alter the figure to a slightly higher one if that was thought appropriate on reflection?

Lord Harris of Greenwich

With great respect, I think that this debate is not a particularly serious one. We cannot start having an auction as to whether the number is five, seven or nine. I am not necessarily convinced that picking out racing and taking it up on its own is the right way to do it either. I did not vote for the first amendment, but I at least saw the logic of it. I accept that there are legitimate anxieties on the part of people living near to sites where major sporting fixtures may take place. But it is not right to have a discussion on the basis of what somebody said on Second Reading and try to write that into the Bill. That is not a way in which we can possibly create legislation in this country.

Lord Elton

I did seek to tempt my noble friend Lord Manton to locate a limitation on the power in the Bill without success on the last amendment. I hope that he will seize the opportunity which this amendment presents him of limiting the Bill to the extent that is in the amendment. The noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, has settled on seven days. Twelve days would be one a month. This is a limitation exercise. I hope that we shall not have an auction of any kind.

I hope, however, that the Committee will see reason in this limitation because it provides the means to carry out the experiment which some Members of the Committee wish to see carried out. Members may come back to the Chamber if there is an escalation of the wish to race on Sundays in the five or six years it may take for that escalation to take place. In that case they can seek to increase the permission. Given that the stated intention is to have only a modest number, this is a modest number. I hope the Committee will limit the power thereto.

Lord Wyatt of Weeford

The amendment seeks to give the Jockey Club rather unusual powers. It would enable the Jockey Club to decide on which other sports grounds betting might take place through the Jockey Club having horseracing on a Sunday. As the Bill stands at the moment it would be quite possible for Ladbrokes to open a tent on Sunday at Lord's for betting and for betting to take place at show jumping and golf tournaments. That is quite customary on a weekday. One cannot tie this to the number of days on which by whim or necessity the Jockey Club decides to have horseracing on a Sunday because other sports where betting is quite customary take place on a Sunday too.

I understand that the reason for a later amendment is to limit the opening of betting shops off the course to days when there is horseracing on a Sunday. We cannot now put in an amendment of this kind to say that the Jockey Club shall decide whether or not there may be betting at Lord's on a particular Sunday. One reason I am rather pleased about this amendment is that it at last concedes the principle that betting is all right on a Sunday on a track. So the principle has gone. The principle has been admitted that it is all right to bet on Sunday on a track. That is a very good starting point for considering why in that case one should not have betting off the track in betting shops and why it should be limited to seven Sundays or to any other particular number.

I agree with the Jockey Club that one would not wish to begin with more than five, six or perhaps 12 Sundays a year but we have had it clearly conceded by the opponents of the Bill that the principle has gone. They no longer object to betting on Sundays on tracks. I am delighted to hear of their conversion.

Lord Elton

I ask the noble Lord to look at the Marshalled List between Amendments Nos. 11 and 12 and he will see that there is a better alternative available which does not permit betting shops to open on Sunday and which I shall warmly advance. However, it is unwise to count on success. Therefore, it is right to have an alternative open. I dare say that the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, may feel it would be prudent to await the issue of the debate on Clause 2 stand part and return to the less attractive alternative—perhaps deposing the Jockey Club in the process—between now and Report. That is the seven day limitation contained in Amendment No. 5. I should be happy to do that and to speak rather more forcefully on the Motion whether Clause 2 shall stand part of the Bill.

8 p.m.

Lord Airedale

I think it follows from most of the speeches which we have had from the noble Lord, Lord Wyatt, that the Committee would be a good deal happier if it had two Bills, one dealing with horseracing and possibly greyhound racing and betting shops and a separate Bill dealing with other sports on Sundays with which betting and betting shops are not normally associated.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

The noble Lord, Lord Wyatt, has done the Committee a service by indicating that once opponents of the Bill concede an inch, they provide the ground for the next step. The noble Lord says that if, in this amendment, we envisage on-course betting on those Sundays then ipso facto we must also concede the case for off-course betting on those Sundays. Nothing of the sort is true. There is a distinct argument.

I take the point which has been made by the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, that the issue has been deliberately confused by certain interests. I mean no disrespect to those interests. They are responsible for running the horseracing industry. However, they have brought before the Committee a Bill which I believe is an attempt to gain popularity by ostensibly legalising the redundancy of an Act which is more than 200 years old.

The noble Lord, Lord Wyatt, tempts me to make more of what he has said. I take the point of the noble Lord, Lord Elton. However, the fact that we are attempting to improve the Bill as we go along does not mean that we concede for a moment that we may succeed in amending a clause and then eventually decide to get rid of the whole clause. If we wait for the chance to get rid of the whole clause, we may well lose the opportunity to make our argument to improve it.

The noble Lord, Lord Wyatt, is far more experienced in the tactics of the other place than I. In our position, we are attempting to obtain a concession. The noble Lord says that, far from that, when we appear to be conciliatory, we are the ones who concede the point.

Without any prejudice to future action, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 6 not moved.]

Lord Wyatt of Weeford moved Amendment No. 7: Page 1, line 12, leave out from ("words") to ("or") in line 13 and insert (" "Christmas Day or Sunday" there shall be substituted the words "any Christmas Day".").

The noble Lord said: This amendment is designed simply to make Section 5(1)(b) of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963 read more simply. I believe that the Home Office prefers this wording. Section 5(1)(b) will then read: Betting by way of bookmaking or by means of a totalisator shall not take place on any track … on any Good Friday, any Christmas Day or Sunday before the hour of twelve noon". It is as simple as that.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Viscount Brentford moved Amendment No. 8: Page 1, line 14, leave out from ("noon") to end of line 18.

The noble Viscount said: In moving this amendment, I should like to make it clear to the noble Lord, Lord Wyatt, in case he is in any doubt, that I am not now a supporter of off-course betting on Sundays, The object of the amendment is to preclude off-course betting on Sundays.

There are a number of points which I should like to make concerning this matter. First, I turn to the question of Ireland. As was said in the Second Reading debate, Ireland has racing on Sundays without having betting shops open. That works very well. I should add that illegal betting is not perceived to be a problem there.

In Ireland, the runners are named on Friday, punters bet on Saturday and horses race on Sunday. That is a neat mechanism which alleviates all problems. That system has been functioning for the past two years and there have been no great problems.

I can see no reason why such a system should not work here. My noble friend the Minister, in the Second Reading debate, referred to a poll. However, the question of their views on betting when names of runners are declared on Friday was not put to the people participating in the poll. Therefore, the argument that many people would bet illegally on Sunday does not, in my view, hold good.

I now turn to consider the matter of illegal betting, which one racing correspondent has described as a red herring. There is and no doubt there always has been illegal betting. However, nobody has convinced me that it will necessarily accelerate enormously. As my noble friend the Minister has said, there may be some five million people already working. However, most of the workplaces which are one of the main sources of illegal betting are probably not those that function anyway. I suggest that for that reason illegal betting will not be a great problem if betting shops are closed on Sunday.

When I spoke on evening betting in the Second Reading debate, the noble Lord, Lord Wyatt, produced an argument which I should like to repeat to him because I believe that that argument strengthens my case rather than his. He may not entirely agree with me. When I put forward the argument that evening racing did not produce much illegal betting, he pointed out that 7 per cent. of a day's betting takes on evening racing. If the percentage is so small, surely the same will be true of Sunday racing when the runners are declared on a Friday. Betting can then take place on a Saturday and there will be no need for betting shops to be open on Sunday.

In this amendment, we are not dealing with the question of on-course betting. People who attend a racecourse will be able to bet at the noble Lord's Tote or on course, as they wish. The amendment simply precludes betting shops being open.

I plead again, as I have so often, for consideration of the impact of deregistration on the communities involved. In this case, I am concerned for those who live in the high street areas. So far as this amendment is concerned, I believe that if betting shops are open on Sundays, there will be much hardship suffered by people who live in such areas. There are some 35,000 to 40,000 betting-shop workers. Many of them work long hours. I plead for them to be allowed to spend Sunday with their families. They need a day off regularly, week by week, and they need to know exactly where they stand. I beg to move.

Lord Airedale

I think it is pertinent to this amendment to remind the Committee of something said by the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, on the Second Reading of this Bill. He said that if the Bill goes through as drafted the high street is going to be rather a strange place on a Sunday afternoon. The only shops open will be the betting shops and if you want to buy a loaf of bread at the supermarket next door you will not be allowed to.

Lord Wyatt of Weeford

If I might deal with the point which the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, has just raised, there are 150,000 establishments licensed to sell drink on a Sunday, and they do so. They would be very much missed if they did not. There are only 10,000 betting shops altogether in the country and obviously they would not all be open on a Sunday because many of them are in areas like city centres where there would be nobody to come to bet. I do not think therefore that the danger is very great.

If I might deal with what the noble Viscount, Lord Brentford, said. Ireland is a strange place and I do not think we should be drawing our habits from Ireland.

I should like to deal with the question of why there is no illegal betting when there is evening racing and the betting shops close at 6.30 p.m. It is perfectly true that I said that the amount of the betting taken at evening meetings would be about 6 or 7 per cent. of the whole of the day's takings considering the afternoon meetings as well.

One of the reasons for that is the afternoon meetings will already have been an attractive series of meetings for the punter. He may have been betting quite a lot in the afternoon and by the time 6 o'clock or 6.30 is reached he is not particularly attracted to betting. At that hour he is not allowed to stay in the shop to hear the commentary or the result. He would be unable to watch the SIS live picture or anything of that kind. It is quite obvious why there is not the weight of betting on the evening meetings—there has been quite enough available for the punter in the afternoon.

This does not apply to a Sunday meeting, because there would not have been any other race meetings taking place. The Jockey Club has already said it would like to see the Grand National and the Two Thousand Guineas run on a Sunday.

Clearly those are attractive races. Racing on a Sunday afternoon is going to be very interesting to the general punter. You do not get illegal betting necessarily—although I am not sure about that—as a result of evening racing, but you would certainly get illegal betting as a result of Sunday racing if the betting shops were not open. It is very difficult to decide how much illegal betting there is. I heard a figure put today by people who are very knowledgeable in the betting industry that it runs at 15 to 20 per cent. of the amount actually bet.

There is one very interesting illustration of what has happened on course since the 4 per cent. tax on course has been removed. Your Lordships may have seen last Saturday if you were watching racing that the bookmakers were very jubilant as to the amount their turnover had increased since the tax was removed. It was not merely the factor of people not wishing to pay the 4 per cent. tax; it was because previously they were not paying any tax at all. So a great number of illegal bookmakers on course were collecting their wages and the honourable bookmaker who charges tax was losing out.

The reverse therefore would also be the case. You can see at once that if you have any racing at all in England on a Sunday there is bound to be betting on it whether you like it or not. There is going to be racing anyway of a quite legitimate nature at credit offices, where it is perfectly legal. This is the case on foreign courses on Sundays as well.

We are not strangers to betting on Sundays. For some eccentric reason casinos are open on a Sunday; bingo halls are open. There are the one-arm bandits and the other robbers of the poor fully available on piers and other places of amusement. I cannot understand where is the moral distinction in the minds of the Members of this Committee who oppose the proposal to allow betting shops to be open on Sunday when there is horseracing on a Sunday. Where is the moral distinction between a decent, ordinary working man who goes into a betting shop and puts a couple of quid on a horse and a man who sits at home and does it on the telephone? It may cost him more because there may be a minimum bet of £5, as there is with most bookmakers. What is the moral distinction? There is none.

It is an anti-working class device. The person who has the credit account is more likely to be thought creditworthy because he can give bank references and the bookmakers are willing to take the strain of a modest credit account. The ordinary working man is to be penalised and nannied and told, "You are not fit to be allowed to bet on a Sunday because you are so much inferior to these worthy middle-class people with their telephones and credit accounts". They are at home watching television; they have probably three sets in the house and they do not bother anyone else in the family while watching the racing on Sunday. The poor chap who has only one television in his house would have to annoy his wife; but in any case he is still not allowed to bet because he does not have a telephone or he does not have a credit account.

It is about time that we stopped having this class distinction in betting. Everybody should be treated exactly the same. For those reasons I oppose this amendment.

8.15 p.m.

Lord Elton

The sweeping assumption made by the noble Lord that he has the whole of the working classes on his side is a piece of arrogance which takes the breath away. Will he please accept that there is a depth of genuine objection to high street betting, off-course betting, on Sundays which transcends visibly the party divisions in this House and evidently the social divisions outside it.

It is not the only, but it is by far the principal reason why a number of noble Lords object to what he now proposes. It would be welcome to see even a glimmer of recognition of this or a concession. I regret that we see none.

There was an oddity about what my noble friend described as the situation in Ireland. It did not altogether surprise me and it would not incommode my form of betting at all in my experience of a lifetime. In Ireland they declare the horses on Friday, they bet on them on Saturday, they run on Sunday and there is no mention of a payout. That is my experience of racing. I would not have thought of it as a commercial proposition.

I think that with the Bill as it is the noble Lord has suggested a sensible way out; that is, by moving a separation between the issues of the joyful and moral activity of racing, on the one hand, and another activity which for some people is dangerous and which for other people seems to me is out of tune with the day.

A noble Lord referred to a passage in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, but he should have continued. The noble Lord went on to say that if you open the betting shops in the high street on Sunday and if you proceed with this Bill as it is now drafted, then there is no doubt that the Sunday Trading Bill will have the door opened to it. Your Lordships will be taking a much more momentous decision on this Bill than has so far been represented. I hope at the very least that you accept this amendment.

Viscount Caldecote

I support this amendment. I wholly support the remarks of the noble Viscount, Lord Brentford, and those of the noble Lord, Lord Elton. The fact is that this illegal betting issue is a red herring, as indeed were a number of the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Wyatt, just now. Life is becoming more and more stressful these days. More and more people are suffering from that and more and more people are having a shorter working week and are now able to do those things which previously they could do only at weekends.

To introduce legislation to open betting shops on Sundays is to add one more item of stress to life. For that reason I oppose it and I very strongly support this amendment.

Baroness Ewart-Biggs

Perhaps I may just say a few words. I speak personally and not on behalf of my noble friends, as I have been asked to make clear. The noble Lord, Lord Wyatt, has not proved to me that it is necessary to bring in this very controversial clause. I should have thought that a limitation to on-course betting would be sufficient for most racegoers and the Foundation for Sunday Racing. He has put to one side the example of Ireland in a way which does not persuade me at all. I believe it is fairer to say that the Irish have racing on a Sunday because they are true believers and lovers of the sport and therefore they have not thought it necessary to have off-course betting.

The evidence shows there has been no significant evidence of any illegal betting, and I should have thought that, if there was a place where there might be illegal betting that place could easily be Ireland. My understanding is that there have been very few prosecutions. Therefore, I do not think that the noble Lord, Lord Wyatt, has given an acceptable reason for instituting off-course betting on a Sunday.

Lord Robertson of Oakridge

I support this amendment because of its effect on family life. Every working day I pass a betting shop which has a notice on the outside to that effect that no one under 18 years of age is allowed on the premises. Therefore, the husband will be in the betting shop, while the wife will be left behind, probably because she may not want to go to the betting shop. The children are barred from it, quite rightly in my view. As a result, the family is split. This happens on Saturdays and I believe we should not allow it to happen on Sunday afternoons.

Lord Murray of Epping Forest

The noble Lord, Lord Wyatt, has painted a touching picture of the working man in a cloth cap popping along to his betting shop on a Sunday afternoon to put on a couple of quid. That is no doubt extending his range of choice and enlarging his freedom, and those are very fine matters in themselves as well as contributing to the proceeds of the betting shop owners for seven days a week instead of only six.

However, at whose expense is this freedom to be enlarged? At whose expense is this choice to be widened? It is the expense of 35,000 or 40,000 people who because of the level of wages already have to work for at least five, and in many cases six, days in betting shops and who have to work every Bank Holiday. Surely those people are entitled to some consideration, not only for their own sake, but, as the noble Lord, Lord Elton, said, because, whatever the morality of the situation, it contains much irony. May I point out that, if we are talking about morality, betting debts cannot be sued for in a court of law, so there is surely a distinction between betting and other kinds of activity?

Sunday opening will be a precedent for many other shops, too, but the point is that there will be an effect on the people working in the betting shops. They will be subject to arm twisting because once one betting shop can open then others will open, taking bets on Irish racing or American racing—you name it, it will be enlarged. Therefore, I believe that the debate has been of extraordinary value in making clear that, whatever the Jockey Club can do about racecourses, this would give carte blanche for betting shops to open 52 Sundays in the year; and they would.

Baroness Macleod of Borve

Does the noble Lord agree that, according to my information, at least two-thirds of all the people who work in betting shops are part-timers?

Lord Murray of Epping Forest

Even if that were true it would leave 14,000 people who would be under great compulsion and great strain. They would have no redress at industrial tribunals unless we adopted certain other amendments, and would have no defence whatever.

The Earl of Caithness

I believe it would be wise for me to say a word at this moment. I go back to what I said at the beginning. One of the keys to this Bill, so far as the Government are concerned, is that suitable arrangements are made for betting to take place lawfully.

My noble friend Lord Brentford rested much of his argument on the validity of the declaration on Friday. Experience does not prove him right. Experience of the betting industry is that most punters want to place their bets on the day that the race is to take place, when such things as the running conditions are known and overnight declarations have been finalised. The poll to which my noble friend referred seemed to bear this out, because that poll, taken by the Jockey Club, showed that some 36 per cent. of regular punters would find unlawful means of placing a bet on Sundays if the betting shops were not allowed to open. That cannot be compared with evening racing because evening racing is not televised.

Let us take as an example the Grand National taking place on a Sunday and being televised. The betting on the Grand National last year totalled about ?30 million, most of which was placed on the day of the race. Does my noble friend really think that people are not going to bet illegally if the Grand National is held on a Sunday?

Lord Graham of Edmonton

The noble Earl should appreciate that even if the Grand National were run at midnight on a Tuesday there would be £30 million wagered on it. Everybody would want to see it. The Grand National is one of those events, like the Derby and many other races, that causes enormous interest whenever it takes place. That is a fact.

The main point that I wish to deal with is the attempt to assert that whether betting shops open on a Sunday has nothing whatever to do with the arguments about Sunday trading. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Wyatt, in his Second Reading speech, said that this Bill had nothing to do with Sundays and the Shops Bill. He is entitled to his view. I can tell the Committee that when the Horserace Betting Levy Board issued its 25th Report it said: We recognise that the defeat of the Government's Shops Bill is likely further to delay the introduction of Sunday racing and betting". If they felt the Bill had nothing to do with it, why draw attention to it? Of course, if the Sunday trading Bill had been passed last year, judging from the tactics which the noble Lord, Lord Wyatt, has deployed tonight, he would have said, "The breach has been established. You cannot really argue against Sunday racing". Equally, if Sunday racing in this form comes through the argument on Sunday trading next year or the year after will be, "You cannot really argue because we have already started Sunday racing". They hang together as part of a movement which is designed to liberalise and to allow no compromise at all. I am one of those people who are willing to liberalise but I will try to make sure that the interests of people affected are looked after.

On Edmonton Green this morning Dirty Den from "Eastenders" opened a new betting shop for Mecca. I am certain that that shop will be very well patronised. I have no doubt at all that the event was a huge success. That shop is in the middle of high-rise developments where 2,000 people live. The shop is right outside their door; and I do not mean just one door but the doors of the flats in which 500 people live. They are thankful when Sunday comes. It is a day of rest, with all that that implies.

The noble Lord, Lord Wyatt, was frank enough to admit on Second Reading that he could not guaranteee that betting shops would be closed on those Sundays when the racing that the Jockey Club had authorised was not taking place. He admitted that they would be open for many more than the racing days. That is a theme which is running through this debate. There are some people who see this Bill in romantic, bright—

Lord Wyatt of Weeford

If I may intervene, since I said that, an amendment has been proposed that the number of days on which betting shops may be open off the course shall be limited to the number of days on which horseracing takes place. I am happy to accept that amendment. There is no danger of betting shops off the course being open on days when no horseracing take place.

8.30 p.m.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

We have yet to come to that amendment and I await with interest the view of the Committee. If the noble Lord is saying that if all those interests who have already expressed their views have big investments in betting shops they will be satisfied only to open them on seven days, we may certainly get into the illegal argument, not merely concerning the punter but concerning the people who own the shops. I say simply that in a place like Edmonton, where the betting shop is open and where there is the opportunity for other shopkeepers to seize upon the traffic that is coming through in the vicinity, it is only human nature to say, "If the betting shop is open legally I am going to chance my arm because the law is going to be changed and I will open my shop"—whatever it may be.

Before one can turn round, to the people who live in that place Sunday is the same as any other day. I think quite frankly that we have an opportunity to take head-on the argument of those who ask, "Why can you not have racing and betting on racing on Sunday?" So far the Committee is saying "So be it", because that will take place on the track.

However, I argue with the Committee and I plead with those who are in favour of the generality of the Bill: think about other people who will be living in the dirt, the disturbance and the distress, with all the social consequences following the break-up of a family Sunday. This is when you can do it. It is no use crying afterwards or leaving it to the other place. We can do it here tonight with this amendment.

Viscount Caldecote

Before the Minister speaks again, can he clarify a point? As I understand it, the point the noble Lord is making is that we must have betting shops open on Sundays if there is racing because if we do not there will be illegal betting. I understand that is because you must bet through an authorised place of betting in order to collect taxes.

If the argument is that we must have betting shops open to do something on Sundays which we think would be unfortunate, for the reasons which have been very well advanced already, surely that is a very poor argument. If necessary, the law that makes illegal betting other than through a betting shop on Sunday should be changed.

The Earl of Caithness

I am surprised to hear my noble friend advocating illegal betting. The noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, did not actually answer my point. He freely admitted that a race like the Grand National was bound to stimulate interest. He then said that the new betting shop at Edmonton would be well patronised. If you have the Grand National on a Sunday with the amount of betting that takes place on it on the day, rather than on the Friday or the Saturday before, and the people of Edmonton who are the regular betters who use that shop on a weekday find that on the Sunday of the Grand National they cannot put their bet on, does the noble Lord accept that they will find other means to put that bet on, which would be illegal?

Lord Graham of Edmonton

We have already had the profession by the noble Lord, Lord Wyatt, that 20 per cent. of the betting in this country is illegal already, under the present laws. No one can produce any reliable statistics as to the extent to which there would be an increase in illegal betting. Customs and Excise cannot give a figure because they have no experience since 1963, since the change in the law. There could be an increase. But where does illegal betting take place? At work? We are not arguing about industry being open, so that opportunity for illegal betting will be gone. Where else? In the pub? It already exists in many pubs: you cannot stop that. We know that is the main source of betting on a Sunday in France. Where else? In homes? That is human nature and that is going on now.

If we are asked to accept a possible potential increase in illegal betting or a restriction on the kind of Sunday that people need in order to rest and to be revived and resuscitated for the rest of the week, then I am prepared to say not that I want to encourage illegal betting—putting words in the mouth of the noble Lord behind the Minister—but that if it takes place it has to be proved. Even if it did happen, I would tolerate that rather than damage the environment of millions of families.

Lord Monson

Before the noble Lord, Lord Graham, sits down, he used the emotive words "dirt" and "distress" in talking about present betting shops. I frequently have occasion to park near betting shops. I have never heard any noise emanating from them. I have rarely seen much dirt and certainly very little distress. I wonder if he would care to elucidate a little more what he means.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I certainly did not mean to refer to the inside of betting shops, because most of them, after certain changes were made, have been vastly improved. I am talking about the ambience in which the betting shop is situated in the high street, in the community. We are talking about the normal dirt and distress which is caused by traffic—not just by motor cars but by people. I can envisage in my mind parts of Enfield, Enfield Town and Edmonton Green, and I can see the way in which certain councils will be called upon to spend more money to clean up the streets. There will be more police and buses and all the rest of it. It is an aggregation of additional aggravation, and in my view we can do without it.

Viscount Head

The working party that was set up by the Jockey Club in 1985 to investigate the effects of Sunday racing disovered in a referendum that 36 per cent. of the people who bet more than once a month would take to back-street betting if the betting shops were not opened. That is undoubtedly what would happen. The back-street bookmakers would be patronised if there was no outlet for legal betting. It is really like putting an iced cake in front of a child and saying, "You may look at it but you may not eat it" to have racing without betting shops being open.

Lord Elton

Let us not entirely lose sight of the major issues. It is no doubt the case that there will be illegal betting on Sundays if there is racing on Sundays. I do not doubt that there is illegal betting on Sundays now. It is admitted that 20 per cent. of betting is illegal anyway. The principle is breached. It is wrong to rest opposition to the amendment on that principle, because that principle is breached.

The major issue is: do we or do we not want betting shops open in the high street up and down the country on Sundays, and manned by people—some of them part-time, it is true, and others full-time—whose Sundays are spoiled and whose families are threatened? It is an occupation which in any case threatens other families simply because of those who are addicted to it. I do not think noble Lords want that. Nor do I think that noble Lords should lightly take a step which makes more probable the success of an attempt to have a Sunday trading Bill passed in this Chamber. I think this is a momentous matter and I hope the Committee will divide on it.

Lord Plummer of St. Marylebone

I find great unreality in these arguments, because my experience of going round London on Sundays is that the shopping centres are thronged with people going to the shops and buying goods in large quantities. Do they create dirt, confusion and so on? What difference will it make if there is a betting shop open?

As regards the question of whether or not there will be any more illegal betting on a Sunday than on a weekday, it stands to reason that if betting shops are open on weekdays there is much more availability for people to go and bet; but if on a Sunday no betting shops are open obviously this must inevitably increase the amount of illegal betting.

Viscount Brentford

I am grateful to all those who have supported this amendment. I make the point to the noble Lord, Lord Wyatt, that I have no Irish blood in me and therefore I shall not take any personal umbrage at his conversation about brushing aside the Irish experiment. I feel upset, however, that he has not paid more attention to it. I believe that what has been happening in Ireland is a fact. What the noble Lord, Lord Wyatt, has said about what will happen here is hypothesis. What has happened in Ireland is fact. They do not have problems in Ireland.

I believe that there are many affinities between the Irish and different parts of the United Kingdom. I reiterate that the hole that has been quoted so much did not pose the question of what would happen if the runners were declared on Friday so that bets could be placed on a Saturday. Therefore, we do not know how people would bet.

I believe that there are many law-abiding people who, given the opportunity to bet on Saturday and not on Sunday would do so. There are many people who would like to stay in bed on Sunday and not have the feeling that they must get up, and let peace and quiet reign.

There is a letter in the Daily Telegraph from someone in the betting industry, which states; I do believe that most betting shops staff have no desire whatsoever to work on a Sunday". For the sake of those betting shop staff, the communities in which the betting shops are and families, I hope that the Committee will accept the amendment.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Aberdare)

I apologise to the noble Viscount. I had not realised that he moved the amendment.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 8) shall be agreed to?

The Chairman of Committees

I think that the Contents have it. The Contents have it. I call Amendment No. 9.

Noble Lords

Not Content.

The Chairman of Committees

I did not hear it.

Lord Wyatt of Weeford

I said, "Not content". I heard about five people around me saying, "Not content".

The Chairman of Committees

I shall put the Question again.

On Question, whether the said amendment (No. 8) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 24; Not-Contents, 21.

Airedale, L. Gallacher, L.
Ashbourne, L. Graham of Edmonton, L. [Teller.]
Attlee, E.
Brentford, V. [Teller.] Gregson, L.
Brockway, L. Ingleby, V.
Bruce of Donington, L. Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Caldecote, V. Nicol, B.
Carter, L. Robertson of Oakridge, L.
Craigavon, V. St. John of Bletso, L.
Craigmyle, L. Seear, B.
Elton, L. Turner of Camden, B.
Ewart-Biggs, B. Underhill, L.
Faithfull, B.
Ailesbury, M. Howie of Troon, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V. Macleod of Borve, B.
Balfour, E. Manton, L. [Teller.]
Barber, L. Massereene and Ferrard, V.
Benson, L. Monson, L.
Bethell, L. Plummer of St Marylebone, L.
Greenway, L. Reay, L.
Grimthorpe, L. Roxburghe, D.
Head, V. Trevethin and Oaksey, L.
Hemphill, L. Wyatt of Weeford, L. [Teller.]
Houghton of Sowerby, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

8.50 p.m.

Lord Manton had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 9:

Page 1, line 15, leave out paragraph (b) and insert— ("(b) for paragraph 1 of Schedule 4 there shall be substituted— 1. The licensed premises shall be closed—

  1. (a) throughout Good Friday, Christmas Day and every Sunday on which racing on an approved horse racecourse does not take place;
  2. (b) before the hour of twelve noon on every Sunday on which racing on an approved horse racecourse does take place; and
  3. (c) at such other times, if any, as may be prescribed,
and shall not be used for any purpose other than effecting of betting transactions."").

The noble Lord said: I am speaking also to consequential Amendment No. 25 to the Long Title.

The effect of the two amendments would be to restrict the opening of betting shops to those Sundays on which there is racing on an approved racecourse. An approved racecourse is one that has been approved under the Horserace Tote and Betting Levy Act 1972. The amendments do not seek to change the general purpose of this admirable Bill, to which I gave my full support on Second Reading. I remain totally in favour of legalising admission charges to all sporting events on Sundays and legalising on- and off-course betting on Sundays to enable racing to take place.

I listened to the arguments put forward by other noble Lords on Second Reading and I follow closely the views of the interested parties in the racing and betting industries. Although a large majority of noble Lords on Second Reading fully supported the Bill of the noble Lord, Lord Wyatt, a few voiced their concern about off-course betting. Among them the noble Lords, Lord Graham of Edmonton and Lord Newall, chairman of the Greyhound Racing Board, feared that even if the number of Sundays on which horseracing takes place were to be limited, if betting shops were allowed to open they would undoubtedly open every Sunday. By limiting the opening of betting shops to those Sundays on which horseracing takes place, the amendment seeks to meet those concerns.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I wish to be helpful. Can we receive guidance on the stature of the amendment in the light of what has just taken place?

Lord Elton

Are we not seeking to amend a part of the Bill that does not exist? As I understand it, Amendment No. 8 has removed everything in the Bill from "noon" on line 14 to the end of line 18. As Amendment No. 9 strikes at line 15, it strikes at something that no longer exists.

I take this opportunity to say how grateful I am to my noble friend for his courteous move in the right direction, although it goes not far enough.

The Chairman of Committees

Amendment No. 8 leaves out from "noon" to the end of line 18. Therefore, Amendments Nos. 9, 10 and 11 are preempted. I think that that is correct.

[Amendment No. 9 not moved.]

[Amendments Nos. 10 and 11 not moved.]

On Question, Whether Clause 2, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Elton

There is an understandable pause, because the Clause 2 that we are asked to leave in the Bill is a great deal better than the Clause 2 that was in the Bill when we tabled the amendment. I do not know exactly what my noble friends and other noble Lords who have put their names to the Motion feel, nor have we had a chance to discuss it. I should welcome guidance from the usual source. Although there is no clause stand part procedure—I am not sure whether the usual source is following my question—I should like guidance on whether it is possible to amend the Bill to strike out a clause if so desired. If so, we could leave the decision this evening and speed things up very much.

The Chairman of Committees

I believe I am right in saying that there is no reason procedurally for not moving that a clause be removed on Report. It is undesirable to put down a Motion that a clause be not accepted in order to have a general debate on it. If the clause itself is objectionable, there is no reason why such a Motion should not be moved on Report.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

In order to consider the significance and extent of the vote, I think that we should have time to reflect. I fully understand that means that all sorts of things can happen, not least to supporters and the support at another stage. To be fair to all the interested parties—not least the genuine attempt by the noble Lord, Lord Manton, to seek to overcome the difficulties that he foresaw may arise—we need a period of time. My noble friends and I would be willing not to proceed with the Motion that Clause 2, as amended, shall not stand part of the Bill.

Lord Elton

In those circumstances I would not wish to move the Motion. We can take a proper view later.

Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.

Lord Graham of Edmonton had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 12: After Clause 2 insert the following new clause:

("Withdrawal of agreement to work.

. Any agreement by an employee employed in connection with a licensed betting office or a track to do work on a Sunday may be withdrawn by the said employee after one month's notice.")

The noble Lord said: Amendments Nos. 12, 13, 14 and 15 substantially all relate to the prime interests of those who could be classified as workers, those who work in the industry. In the interests of making progress and to focus on what I believe is most important, without making any future commitment I shall not move Amendments Nos. 12, 13 and 14.

[Amendment No. 12 not moved.]

[Amendments Nos. 13 and 14 not moved.]

9 p.m.

Lord Graham of Edmonton moved Amendment No. 15: After Clause 2, insert the following new clause:

("Rights of established employees concerning Sunday working.

All established employees employed in connection with a licensed betting office or a track, shall have the rights set out in Schedule (Rights of Established employees concerning Sunday working) below."

The noble Lord said: The Bill is silent on the protection and interests of those who work in the industry. This is no accident. I cannot believe that those who have drafted the Bill have not considered those interests. I accept what I have read in the press, that the promoters of the Bill have very much at heart the interests of those who work in the industry and are satisfied that there are ways in which they can be protected. If the Bill is enacted, we wish to have established legitimate ways to which employees who do not want to work on Sunday for a variety of reasons can refer.

Members of the Committee may have had a sense of déjàvu when they read the terms of the amendment and the schedule. This is substantially the amendment moved on behalf of the Government on 11th February by the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, to protect the existing rights of workers. I know that the noble Earl will be consistent in supporting his noble friend and that the Government will recognise that there must be equity. As the Government were prepared without opposition to add a schedule to the Shops Bill, they must accept this. It is in essence the same amendment relating to those who work in this industry.

I shall not weary the Committee by spelling out the concerns that have been expressed to me in writing. These have come from the Stable Lads Association and from the Transport and General Workers' Union. They tell me that the union is totally opposed to the Jockey Club proposals, although it recognises that different segments of the industry have different views. For example, it represents shop employees, who are totally opposed to the opening of betting shops. It represents also stable staff and transport drivers. They all have reservations in varying degrees about having to work on Sunday. I use the term advisedly. People can say that they are volunteers, that they do not have to work, that people are queuing up to do this. If the Committee has listened to what is said, Members would be as alarmed as I am.

I do not have a secret source of information. I have before me an article from The Times of Friday 9th October in which a gentleman called Simon Barnes—who no doubt is well known to those in the Chamber closer to the scene than I am—regales the views of those who work in the industry. The article says: Both the Trainers Federation and the Stable Lads Association are keen to crack down on such 'cowboy trainers' but lads, fearful of getting blacklisted as troublemakers, will not put their names to such statements. Most of the lads I spoke to were anxious to remain anonymous. They were prepared to give a straight answer to a straight question, without whinging, but very few wanted to test the fragile trust between trainer and staff".

I do not wish to be offensive. There are those who are trainers, stewards or owners. They have their way of going about things. I am prepared to accept that there is some reticence on the part of those whose livelihood is affected to speak out too often.

A gentleman called Bill Adams is the national secretary of the Stable Lads Association. What stable lads are saying appears in that part of the article which states: Not a lad I spoke to in Newmarket, probably not a lad I spoke to in the country, wants Sunday racing. Sundays are seen as the last frontier; not something to be crossed for a couple of quid".

I accept that arrangements can be made. Money talks. Those who are on an average wage of less than £100 a week for whatever they do—and it can include six mornings, six afternoons and six nights in some weeks—are being invited to work on Sundays because of the desire of some groups. We are saying that if Sunday racing takes place we ought to have written into statute a means whereby they can seek redress.

I do not wish to weary Members of the Committee. The lineage, the parentage, of the schedule is impeccable. It comes from a first-class stable. It comes from the Government's own parliamentary draftsman who felt that the schedule was needed to protect shopworkers. I say that we also need to protect those who work in industry. I beg to move.

Lord Murray of Epping Forest

This Chamber has agreed that race tracks should open for a limited number of Sundays. But surely the least that we can do as a corollary of that is to ensure that the basic rights of existing employees—of established, not new, employees—are protected. These are rights they have always had and have a proper expectation of maintaining. I have no doubt that some employees support the Bill. I have no doubt that there are other employees who do not like the Bill but who will settle for extra pay on Sundays or extra time off.

However, we are concerned with those who want to preserve their existing way of life, who hold Sunday as a day of worship, or who simply want to go out with the family. There may be only one man or woman in this situation. Are we to say to that person, "You may be a long-serving employee but if you do not come in on Sunday you can collect your cards or you can forget about promotion". This amendment would give that person some protection. At the very least it would give him the right to go to an industrial tribunal and object to unfair dismissal.

Unless we adopt this amendment the Bill will materially, indeed fundamentally, change conditions of work which these people have always had and thought that they were always going to have. It was reasonable for them to think that. The change proposed in the Bill cannot be right.

Baroness Seear

I should like to ask the noble Lord, Lord Graham, one question. I entirely agree with what he says in this amendment about the rights of established workers. I am not clear why he limits it to already established workers. These are surely safeguards that should be available not only for people who are now in the industry but for those who will be entering the industry. Will the noble Lord please explain why he has limited the amendment only to those people who are already there?

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I do so with some diffidence. In the Shops Bill we moved amendments designed to apply to all workers. In seeking to resist that, the Government conceded that there could be a case for those who were already working in the industry. We were not greedy. We did not try to provide a basis of protection for everyone. We said, "Let us see whether we can get the Chamber to accept that those who presently enjoy whatever they do enjoy shall not have that disturbed". When new people enter the industry they may then be prepared to accept the kind of terms or conditions which they freely enter into.

I deeply respect the noble Baroness, who is experienced in labour and employment matters. She recognises that the horseracing industry is very poorly unionised. It does not have a lot of muscle or clout in its representation. We are seeking to provide legal protection for those who have at present told us that they will be detrimentally affected. If it were felt that something else needs to be added either during the passage of this Bill or in another place that could be done. It is a modest attempt to provide the minimum of sensible protection.

The Duke of Devonshire

I rise with diffidence to support this amendment, partly because I have great sympathy with what was said on behalf of the stable lads employers. I must make it clear that I speak alone. I have the privilege of being a member of the Jockey Club and I have the good fortune to be the owner of racehorses. It is as an owner of racehorses that I support this amendment.

The inevitable result of Sunday racing will be an increase in training fees, because those who have to work on Sundays quite rightly will demand more for their labours on Sundays. That is only right and as it should be. But this, in turn, will lead to an increase in fees.

Anyone who is lucky enough to be financially able to own racehorses is a very lucky man. I am fully conscious of that. Racing in recent years has undergone a period of unparalleled prosperity, but that may not last. Recent events in the City are perhaps an indication that it will not be so easy to own racehorses. I remind the Committee that it is a very expensive business, and conceivably some noble Lords may not be aware that it is much more expensive to own one racehorse than to have your son educated at Eton. When the chill economic winds begin to blow it is very important, if racing is to continue and flourish, that it should be as inexpensive as possible for the owner. I am convinced that racing on Sunday will add to the cost of ownership.

Times change. When I was a lad we talked about racing as a sport; indeed, it was called the sport of kings. That will not do at all these days. Now we talk about the racing industry, never about a sport; but basically it is a sport. Although the punter, through the levy board, makes an enormous contribution to racing—without the 1961 Act racing as we know it would not exist in this country—at the end of the day it is the owner who is the goose that lays the golden egg. Nothing should be done, privileged though he is, to add to the expense for the owner; for without the owner the racing industry—as I understand I must now call it—will wither away.

Both with sympathy for the workers whom the noble Lord, Lord Graham, has associated himself with and because I believe that in the long term it is against the interests of owners to have Sunday racing, I support the amendment. I can only ask the forgiveness of my colleagues in the Jockey Club and also my fellow members of the Racehorse Owners' Association.

Lord Robertson of Oakridge

I support the amendment, but I shall not expand on that. I want to ask the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, one question. He speaks about: All established employees employed in connection with a licensed betting office or a track. Does that include stable lads?

Lord Graham of Edmonton

Yes. If there is any dubiety about that, I should certainly be prepared to bring forward a drafting amendment. As far as I am concerned, this covers all those who are employed in the racing industry.

Lord Wyatt of Weeford

I object to this amendment because it is one which singles out sport specifically and does not deal with all the other activities that go on on Sundays. If we are to have laws protecting people's rights on Sundays, they should be applicable to all people who are called upon to work, or want to work or have to work on a Sunday, such as coal miners, railway workers, bus drivers, catering staff, the police, the people who provide our electricity, telephone service and gas. It seems nonsensical to say that sport ought to be treated in some curiously different way from all the other activities that go on on a Sunday. There is seven-day working in certain mills and manufacturing industries.

I sympathise with the notion that I believe lies behind this—that people should be properly rewarded and properly respected in relation to their views on working on a Sunday.

As regards the Tote, no one will be required to work on a Sunday who does not want to, and no one will be penalised for not so doing. The noble Lord, Lord Graham, mentioned the lady on BBC Radio who said that she was a member of a tote team and did not want to work on a Sunday. She does not have to. Lots of other people will be willing to do it. Whenever we have our credit offices open on a Sunday, two to three times the number of people want to work as there are places available for them to do so.

The noble Lord, Lord Graham, mentioned the phenomenon in which people might work for seven days a week in betting shops. This is simply not possible because neither the employers nor the employees would wish to have such a curious state of affairs. If betting offices are to be open on a Sunday, as appears to be the suggestion hanging in the balance, clearly a proper shift system will have to be worked out by negotiation, and people who did not want to work on a Sunday would not have to. I suppose that railway workers who do not want to work on a Sunday do not have to either.

It is a great mistake to inject into this harmless little Bill, which has been made to look more dangerous every second that goes by, a vast apparatus of legislation which if it is applicable to the sporting industry must be equally applicable to the rest of industry. That is trying to do by stealth something that ought to be done openly throughout the entire country. Therefore I must oppose the amendment.

I should like to say one word about stable lads.

Lord Elton

Before the noble Lord leaves that point perhaps I may ask him to take on board the fact that this amendment is directed to existing members of the industry. The difference between a policeman and a person working now in the racing industry is that when the policeman joined he knew that he would have to work on Sundays. When the person joined the racing industry there was no proposal that there should be racing on Sundays. There is a genuine difference.

The other point that I should like to make (since I do not wish to rise twice and we all ought to go home quite soon) is that a great many of us believe it is not sufficient to ensure that everybody possible gets one day or two days a week of rest if they wish it; we wish one of those days to be the same for everybody in the family.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby


Lord Elton

Therefore the day of rest needs to be established on one day a week and that is Sunday. That is aside from the strong convictions I have about Sunday on religious grounds which I think would appeal to a wider audience.

9.15 p.m.

Lord Wyatt of Weeford

I thank the noble Lord for his intervention but I am still a little mystified. Is he saying that if you join after this Bill becomes law you are not protected against working on Sunday?

Noble Lords


Lord Wyatt of Weeford

And that you are only protected if you join before?

Lord Elton

It is not my amendment, but that is the effect of it precisely. It is the established workers who are referred to in the schedule, not the new joiners.

Lord Wyatt of Weeford

If that is the case it is not a very adequate distinction. Surely newcomers should have the same privileges as those who are there already because those who are there already will die and nobody will be protected by this manoeuvre.

I want to say one word about stable lads, who I feel have been the Cinderellas of the industry. They have been somewhat underpaid and are still underpaid even on their current minimum wages. Not only that, but there have been cases where trainers, either because they have no money or because they are rather unscrupulous, do not pay even the minimum wages. I regard that as a serious matter.

I am sure that the noble Lord will be delighted to hear that, with the advent of Sunday racing, the authorities concerned have been mightily stirred up to make sure that all trainers pay minimum wages. I think we shall move towards stable lads being paid a more reasonable wage. That is a direct result of the idea that there should be Sunday racing. So we have already had a good benefit from it and I can assure the noble Lord that there will be many wider and happier benefits from Sunday racing if it takes place. There will be more employment, not less, because nobody will work seven days a week. Extra staff will be taken on and so on. I still feel that if this schedule is necessary for sport it must be necessary for the entire country. It is not sensible to deal with sports alone with a schedule of that kind.

Baroness Ewart-Biggs

This amendment was chosen because the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, moved a similar amendment during the passage of the Shops Bill to protect the workers who were already employed before the law was changed. My noble friend chose this amendment because it had been moved by the Government during the passage of the previous Bill. If the noble Lord, Lord Wyatt, does not like the amendment's wording he can amend it on Report. Everything he has just said points to the fact that he himself would very much like to see the workforce right behind the reform which he is bringing about. Successful sport on Sunday would need the support and the backing of the workforce. Therefore, so far as I can see, the noble Lord, Lord Wyatt, agrees with the principle of the amendment. Perhaps he would like to re-word it for Report.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I think that two or three points need to be made. I do not doubt for a moment that what the noble Lord, Lord Wyatt, has told the House is the intention of those who control the purse strings if racing on Sunday comes about. However, the people who work in the industry—and reference has been made to the stable lads—have their own store of experience against which to judge what their employers say will happen in the event of certain action.

I have a copy of the Newmarket Weekly News in which it states that the stable lads are in an angry mood about their present pay and conditions and will use their demands as a bargaining tool. That was said by Mr. Bill Adams. The basic rate is £91.59, but some are paid less. Not for a moment are we saying that they are oppressed or badly done by in total. However, those who represent the interests of those people, including the Transport and General Workers Union, have told me that they would be happier if they did not have to rely on pleading their case. I shall use not the phrase, "going cap in hand".

The noble Lord, Lord Wyatt of Weeford, said that if someone does not want to work on a Sunday he does not have to. People are telling me that whether or not they want to work on Sunday there are certain circumstances in which it would be impossible not to do so. The noble Lord says that extra staff can be employed but I can envisage some employers trying not to take on extra staff. I can also envisage a situation where, when it comes to promotion or preferment within an organisation, willingness to work will be a crucial factor.

I do not say that this amendment is the be all and end all but it is a genuine attempt once more to resolve some of the problems that will occur if the Bill is not amended in this way. I earlier pleaded the case for the residents around the track and I am now pleading for those who feel that they need the protection of the law. We in this House ought to give that to them. I beg to move.

Lord Trevethin and Oaksey

Although I do not look forward to working on Sundays, I strongly support this amendment so far as concerns stable lads. It seems to me that a certain benefit of the introduction of Sunday racing may be that the stable lads will obtain a more satisfactory agreement under which the cowboy trainers, to whom the noble Lord has referred, are compelled to pay the minimum wage. Also, a satisfactory wage structure will be built up in the industry to enable lads to improve their status. I cannot speak for Tote or betting shop employees, but from the point of view of the stable lads I believe that this amendment is necessary.

Lord Monson

I wonder whether we could have some guidance from the Government as to the merits or demerits of this amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 16 and 17 not moved.]

Lord Wyatt of Weeford Moved Amendment No. 18: Page 1, line 20, leave out subsection (2)

The noble Lord said: This is a consequential amendment because the word "track" has now been removed from Clause 1. I beg to move.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I should be grateful if the noble Lord would say a little more about the significance of deleting the words referred to in the amendment—that is, the whole of subsection (2).

The whole premise of the Bill has rested upon a definition of the word "track", yet the amendment seeks to delete the only reference that there is to a track or sporting event. There must be some deep meaning as to why, in a Bill that relates to Sunday sports, we should have deleted from it one of the strong pegs on which we can hang our understanding of what is meant. I should be grateful if the noble Lord would explain.

Lord Wyatt of Weeford

It is because we have already covered the same situation in an earlier amendment. Originally all sports grounds and suchlike were described as tracks. Even a ping-pong room or a snooker hall came under the heading of tracks. Therefore it seemed wiser, simpler and clearer to leave the amendment that was passed earlier as it stands and alter subsection (2) to match it.

Lord Elton

Can the noble Lord kindly point us to the definition in the earlier amendment, which I take it is Amendment No. 3? It does not contain a definition of "track".

Lord Wyatt of Weeford

It does not have to, because that point has already been covered by the earlier amendment.

Lord Elton

It is late and no doubt we shall return to this point, but I must just stress that I see danger in this amendment and the noble Lord ought to be aware of it. We may have to return to this matter at Report stage, because as I recall the word "track" occurs in amendments that have been put in; in fact, it is essential for the working of the amendment that the noble Lord has just accepted so prudently, courteously and well. To remove the definition in what he has accepted seems to me perhaps to be a considerable mistake which may involve him as well as us in embarrassment. I quite accept that if he is briefed that this amendment is consequential on his first amendment—

Lord Graham of Edmonton

Perhaps the noble Lord will allow me to say—

Lord Elton

Perhaps I may first finish what I was saying. I am merely saying that it would probably be open to the Committee to accept on trust that the amendment is consequential, but on the understanding that we shall return to it at a later stage if it makes the Bill nonsensical, which it may do.

The Earl of Caithness

I think that on this occasion my noble friend is wrong. He is not wrong very often.

Lord Elton

Oh yes; all the time.

The Earl of Caithness

With his experience of the Home Office, the noble Lord is seldom wrong, but I think that he may be wrong on this occasion. We gave the noble Lord, Lord Wyatt of Weeford, some help with this matter. The point of Amendment No. 3, which is the main amendment on which the amendment that we are now discussing is consequential, is in fact better worded. It has the correct wording, in contrast to the first clause which was originally in the Bill.

Lord Elton

My noble friend does not address the point that I am making. The wording may be more effective, elegant, up-to-date and splendid but it does not contain a definition of "track". Unless I am mistaken, it seems to me that the so-called consequential amendment strikes out the definition of "track". The word "track" is in an amendment to the Bill. The Bill now contains the word "track". It did not do so under the amendment referred to by my noble friend, which is the first amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Wyatt.

It contains it now that the wording has been amended. In normal statutory procedure it is usual to include a definition of the terms used. I think I may just possibly be right and that my noble friend just possibly is wrong. Indeed, if I keep speaking for long enough, someone may bring him a piece of paper to confirm it.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

There is a solution to this difficulty. The amendment that we have just passed, which includes a schedule relating to protection of employees, contains the word "track". To that extent events have moved on since the Committee accepted Amendment No. 3. The way out of this difficulty is for the Committee not to proceed with this amendment if, in order to make sense, at the next stage we look at further amendments. Rather than accept the amendment and then put it right, the sensible thing to do would be not to accept this amendment and if there is need for clarification at the next stage a further amendment can be made.

Lord Wyatt of Weeford

Perhaps I may point out that in a moment I shall be moving another amendment which alters the title. That will clear up the mystery for the noble Lord, Lord Elton.

The Earl of Caithness

Perhaps I may clarify this matter. In fact the amendment that we are discussing, which is consequential on Amendment No. 3, is designed to ensure that it represents a surer way of providing that no offence is committed under the 1780 Act if there is Sunday racing. The trouble is now that the Bill is a piece of drafting nonsense.

Lord Craigmyle

If the noble Lord will look at Amendment No. 20, to which we shall be coming in a moment and to which we have already agreed, there is at the top of page 12 of the Marshalled List a definition of "track" which is almost identical to the one which we are now deleting.

Lord Elton

If it is there, I stand or sit corrected.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 3, as amended, agreed to.

[Amendment No. 19 not moved.]

9.30 p.m.

Lord Graham of Edmonton moved Amendment No. 20: After Clause 3, insert the following new schedule:

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