I beg to move, in page 1, line 5, to leave out from the beginning to "which" in line 6 and to insert:
This section applies to any lottery (not being a lottery which is deemed not to be unlawful by virtue of any other enactment)".
If it will help the House, I am glad to comply with that request. The three Amendments not selected are the following, to Clause 1:
In page 2, line 5, at end insert:
and no commission either in cash or in kind shall be paid to vendors of the lottery tickets".
In line 22, at end insert:
and their sale shall be limited to the members of the society in whose interests the lottery is being promoted".
In line 35, at end insert:
and in the case of members, no unsolicited tickets shall be sent through the post".
All the others we will deal with in the proper order as we come to them.
Yes, Sir, that is a consequential Amendment.
At the outset, I apologise to the House for the number of Amendments standing on the Notice Paper in my name and in the names of some of my hon. Friends. To a large extent they are drafting Amendments and have arisen from the speed with which the Bill had to be drafted in view of my good fortune in drawing the first place in the Ballot.
This one is a drafting Amendment, but the second one to line 18, to leave out "lottery" and to insert:
lottery to which this section applies.
is of more substance. Its purpose is simple. It seeks only to ensure that the lotteries which are legal under the 1934 Act remain legal and are not affected by this Measure. This Bill creates a new kind of lawful lottery and we want to make it clear that those which are already lawful are in no way made illegal by its terms.
Of course, it is possible for a particular lottery to be legal both under this Bill and under the 1934 Act, and in that case it is not affected. However, there are cases where it has been realised that, as the Bill is drafted, lotteries which are legal under the 1934 Act might also have to comply with the conditions of this Bill. We do not wish that to be the case, because those are already protected, particularly in regard to the persons to whom tickets can be sold.
I am not clear what my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies) intends by the words
… to any lottery (not being a lottery which is deemed not to be unlawful by virtue of any other enactment) …
which appear in his Amendment. He explained that some of the small lotteries which are legal under an earlier Act might fall outside the scope of the Bill. Perhaps he would explain it in a little greater detail.
I must reply to my hon. Friend by repeating what I have already said. As the Bill now stands, lotteries which are legal under the 1934 Act might have to comply with the terms of the Bill, including registration with local authorities. Under the 1934 Act the lotteries which could operate did not have to register with the local authority. Those lotteries are confined to people working in the same offices or living in the same building and there are certain other minor provisions. That being so, we did not see any reason why we should extend the terms of the Bill to cover those lotteries.
I beg to move, in page 2, line 11, to leave out from the first "purposes" to the end of line 12 and to insert:
of the society, being purposes described in paragraphs (a), (b) or (c) of subsection (1) of this section.
The Amendment tightens up the provisions of the subsection. The intention is that funds raised from the lotteries shall be used only for the purposes of the society as defined in subsection (1). It may well be that certain societies have other purposes than those defined here, and it is necessary to make it clear that any proceeds of a lottery shall not be used for any other purposes than those stated by the Bill, such as charitable purposes, athletic sports or games, cultural activities or other purposes not for private gain.
The Amendment merely represents a further protection to ensure that the proceeds of lotteries are used for the purposes which the House approved on Second Reading.
I beg to move, in page 2, line 15, to leave out "seven and a half" and to insert "ten."
When the Bill obtained its Second Reading it contained the figure of 5 per cent. During the Committee stage an Amendment by the hon. Member for Faversham (Mr. P. Wells) was accepted, altering it to 7½ per cent. Since then I and other hon. Members have received representations from persons interested in the Bill to the effect that 7½ percent. for expenses is, in all the circumstances, not adequate.
The main reason for this is the considerable costs of printing. I will not weary the House with details, but I have had a number of quotations for the printing of lottery tickets of various sizes, and the percentages for printing alone of the likely receipts vary between 5 and 8 per cent. There are also various expenses such as postage, clerical assistance and bank charges. In almost every case the expenses would amount to more than 7½ per cent. One of the problems is that one cannot be certain of selling all the tickets that are printed and that raises the percentage of costs. In those circumstances, it is felt that 10 per cent. is the minimum if the Bill is to work satisfactorily.
I need not elaborate the matter very much. I would merely point out that the object of the Bill is to ensure compliance with the law, and it would be most unfortunate nowadays, when prices are tending to rise, if the effect of setting too small a percentage for expenses led to people evading the provisions of the Bill and returning to the existing situation in which no one is quite certain whether or not the law is to be enforced.
I beg to second the Amendment.
After the clear and concise way in which the Amendment has been moved by the hon. Member for Aldershot (Sir E. Errington) the House may feel that it is not necessary for me to say very much about it.
However, we shall no doubt be asked why the original figure was 5 per cent., why it was altered in Committee to 7½ per cent., and why we now seek to make it 10 per cent. The House will need to give some consideration to this point. It may well be argued, as it was in Committee, that the increase will necessarily reduce the net amount going to the charitable purposes for which the lottery is conducted.
I suggest that those who will be conducting these lotteries on behalf of their organisation will, naturally, not wish to have expenses any greater than need be for the lottery to be conducted efficiently. If they can run the lottery for an expense of 5 or 6 per cent., they will clearly do so, because they will be seeking to assist their organisations as much as possible. It cannot, therefore, be validly argued that there will be extravagance in promotion to take advantage of the extra expenses.
The hon. Member for Aldershot put his finger on the main point behind the Amendment. We hope that we are here legislating for lotteries for a considerable time. The House will recall that the last time this matter was before the House was in 1934, and one can well wonder what a percentage fixed in 1934 would have been worth today had it been based on costs then obtaining for printing, postage and other considerations. Clearly, we do not want the Bill to be completely unworkable in two or three years' time. I do not want to make a political point, but costs are obviously going up. Printing costs have risen during the time that the Bill has been before the House. Any time now there may well be a considerable increase in postal charges over and above those already announced.
It will be very foolish for the House to put the Bill on the Statute Book while containing a provision which might later make it unworkable. We should then come back to the position, which we all wish to avoid, that the lotteries will be conducted in places where for one reason or another the police are less interested or less vigilant, but it will not be possible in other places for the same bodies to use the same means of raising money. I beg to the House to accept the Amendment. The hon. Member for Aldershot has already given figures and we could supply detailed figures of the cost of printing tickets which is the necessary first step in the promotion of a lottery.
The House will appreciate that obviously these costs are much greater pro rata for those who are running a small lottery. None of us has any objection to lotteries being run by organisations where the total amount involved is £60 or £100 or even less, but in those cases the cost per ticket is higher. One can print many tickets more cheaply per ticket than one can print a few tickets. It is doubtful whether even today a lottery can be promoted with a figure of 7½ per cent. expenses.
In Committee, I put down an Amendment, which I later withdrew, to increase the figure to 10 per cent. for small lotteries to give assistance to those promoting lotteries involving £50 or less. However, the more I thought about it and the more representations I received the more I thought it was undesirable to have a complicated arrangement of that sort. This is a Bill which will have to be operated by a great number of people without much legal knowledge and the figure of 10 per cent. for all lotteries is the best and fairest arrangement.
I hope that the House will decide not to accept the Amendment. It confirms the apprehensions which many of us felt and expressed in the Second Reading debate. We made the point quite clear and said that we regarded the Bill merely as the first instalment towards achieving a much wider purpose, and that we considered it as the beginning of the opening of the door towards something very much bigger than was proposed in the Bill in its original form.
Five per cent. was the permitted amount for expenses when the Bill was given its Second Reading. In Committee there was an Amendment to increase that figure to 7½ per cent. The matter was given prolonged consideration in Committee. Many hon. Members, of whom I was one, expressed some concern at that proposal and some of us went to the length of dividing the Committee against it, because we felt that 5 per cent. was adequate and that the case for an increase to 7½ per cent. had not been made out. In its wisdom or otherwise, the Committee came to the conclusion that the points brought forward by various hon. Members could be met by accepting the increase to 7½ per cent.
One thing leads to another and the increase from 5 per cent. to 7½ per cent. has encouraged other hon. Members to wish to have a larger percentage which will reduce the amount which will be available for the charities. Emboldened by their success, at this late stage they have come to the House and suggested that 7½ per cent. should be increased to 10 per cent. I hope that the House will register its disapproval when the opportunity comes of both the tactics involved in the matter and the merits of the proposal.
The hon. Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies) emphasised a number of points on Second Reading. He made it clear that he was mainly concerned with making it possible for small lotteries to be held for the purpose of benefiting charities and other public objects and that it was his desire that all elements of commercialism or private profit should be removed from the scope of what he was advocating. I want to examine the matter for a moment or two from that point of view. The hon. Member made the point that he conceived the Bill as following the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming, which reported in 1951.
The Royal Commission made it clear that it considered that the Betting and Lotteries Act, 1934, which at present governs lotteries, was working satisfactorily where lotteries were concerned and it did not advocate any change in the law. It went on to say that if Parliament was to decide that there should be a Measure to legalise small lotteries for charitable and other public purposes, there were various conditions which should be incorporated in it. One of the conditions recommended by the Royal Commission, in page 122 of its Report, was that no administrative expenses should be allowed except for printing and stationery.
Many of us held the view, and do so still, that 5 per cent. should be adequate to cover printing and stationery, which were the only items for which the Royal Commission said provision should be made in an expense allowance. I maintain that 5 per cent. was much more in line with the recommendation of the Royal Commission than 7½ per cent. and certainly much more in line than 10 per cent. In the Committee we had the benefit of a fairly prolonged consideration of the matter and we also had the benefit of the advice of the then Joint Under-Secretary to the Home Office, who gave the Committee the view of the Home Office on this matter.
I want to detain the House for a moment by reading what the then Joint Under-Secretary said in the advice which he gave to the Committee. The right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) had asked that the Home Office should indicate its view and the Joint Under-Secretary said:
If the right hon. Gentleman invites me to speak, I will express the view of the Government. The discussion has revealed that the Committee agrees that a figure of 7½ per cent. is about right. The Government are concerned to see that an excessive figure is not
adopted, but it is for the Committee to decide on what is a reasonable figure. I should say that 7½ per cent. appears to the Government to be reasonable and, if the Committee see fit to accept that figure, I shall raise no objection."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee C; 7th December, 1955, c. 24.]
I think that the Committee was largely influenced, and, I think, properly influenced, by the view of the Home Office on this matter and although some of us remained dissatisfied with the increase, the majority felt, in the light of the advice of the Home Office, that they could support the figure of 7½ per cent. Certainly, no case has been made this morning, and I do not believe that one can be made for the proposed further increase to 10 per cent. I hope, therefore, that the House will reject the Amendment and adopt the view of the Government and the Home Office that 7½ per cent. is sufficient.
The hon. Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Black) has rendered good service by reminding us that this matter is not being considered for the first time this morning and that the House, through its Standing Committee, gave serious consideration to it at an earlier stage. We shall make ourselves ridiculous if we are to have this leapfrogging of increased costs allowed to the promotors of these lotteries. The sum of 2s. in the £ is a lot of money to allow for expenses in running a simple lottery.
What expenses are incurred? It has already been made clear that:
… no remuneration shall be paid in respect of the lottery to the promotor or to any person employed by him in connection therewith who carries on a betting business or is otherwise engaged by way of business in the organisation of betting.
An allowance of 10 per cent. would open the way to an evasion of the law. It would be an incitement and encouragement to people to evade some of the earlier provisions of Clause 1. We shall make ourselves ridiculous if we cannot stand by a figure which was reached after reasonable deliberation in Committee.
Few other organisations in our social set-up are premitted to charge up to 10 per cent. for expenses of this nature. The cost of printing is known to every hon. Member, because we have our own printing bills at Election time; but we also know that the cost when running small lotteries is very much smaller. I assume that 6d tickets or even 3d. tickets will be sold—we all know the sort of thing where five tickets are offered for 1s. just to encourage people to buy them, and we all know how much money is made. We are being dishonest if we pretend that a lot of money is not made through lotteries.
There is no need for an allowance of 10 per cent., because the profit made now is shown after deduction of expenses, and we know that the promoters do very well. That is why they want the position legalised. I do not like the Bill at all, quite honestly. To me a small lottery is no more worthy in principle than a big lottery. The principle is exactly the same, and we ought to face the fact that if the House is to acknowledge the principle of gambling as part of our way of life we shall open the door to something very much wider indeed.
I do not expect my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), who thinks of Epsom every other moment, to go very far to meet me on this point, but I expect him to say, from his long experience, that an allowance of 7½ per cent. is enough for any promoter and that to ask for 10 per cent. really proves the case for our uneasiness about the whole business. I certainly am prepared to go into the Lobby to vote against the Amendment.
I was not a member of the Standing Committee, and my reason for taking an interest today is that I have had a communication from my constituency from people who run these small lotteries expressing apprehension that 7½ per cent. is not enough. I have no conscience in the matter at all; I voted for the Bill. The important question is that of the cost of printing. My hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Black) asked what had happened since the Bill was considered in Committee. One thing has happened. We have had a printing strike and, although the London printers have gone back to work, they are still negotiating on the findings of a Court of Inquiry which recommended substantial increases in pay.
Perhaps I ought to declare my interest. I am the proprietor of certain trade and technical journals, and I know how much the cost of printing has gone up. We also have to send out circulars, etc., and the cost there has also increased. I should be extremely surprised if before the next General Election a request for candidates to have increased expenses allowed because of printing charges is not necessary.
I agree with the hon. Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) that we want to make the Bill workable. I am doubtful whether 7½ per cent. is enough. All who are interested in the matter have had circulated to us some specimen charges for printing, and one can see that with an allowance of 7½ per cent. there would be very little left to cover other expenses. It is to the small lotteries, much more than to the big ones, that the printing costs percentage will be of great importance. I do not believe that anybody will get rich on this extra 2½ per cent., but we ought now to make the figure 10 per cent. This is our last opportunity. We cannot bring the Bill back again in another year. Once it is on the Statute Book it will have to survive for a long time. I heartily support the Amendment.
This is a narrow issue, and I hope that hon. Members who are opposed to the Bill itself and to betting generally will not seek to divide the House on it. I share the opposition of the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Black) to betting generally, and I hope that when he promotes a Bill to abolish the Stock Exchange he will ask me to sign it, too.
My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) can be assured that there is no danger of these expenses being used for any other purpose, because the Bill itself protects the moneys involved in lotteries from being used by the promoters for their own personal interest. Moreover, no lottery promoter will wilfully add to his expenses. He wishes either to benefit the charity or the prize money, and obviously he will keep his expenses down within the 10 per cent. if he can.
I support the Amendment, because I think it benefits the little lottery. The promoters of small raffles with a total income and expenditure involving some £2 or £3 will have to buy tickets which I am assured cost more than 4s., and they will find themselves unable, because of the terms of the Bill, to proceed with what they have been doing regularly week by week. I think that 7½ per cent. is reasonable for the lottery or raffle involving £200 or £300, but if we leave the figure at 7½ per cent., we may make illegal the very small lotteries—the only kind of lotteries in which I am interested—which this Bill is designed to protect. I hope that the Amendment will be accepted.
I wish to give an example which may influence hon. Members who are opposed to this Amendment. Suppose a small raffle has been organised, either by a church or a charity or whatever it may be. The promoters go through the normal process of preparation; they get their printing done, and so on. Then suppose that a General Election is suddenly announced and the whole idea of the raffle has to be abandoned. The expenses already incurred would represent far more than the figure of 7½ per cent., assuming that the promoters were calculating that they would obtain £400 or £500. Such a case is one in which a figure of 7½ per cent. would be totally inadequate to meet their obligations.
For the sake of the smaller kinds of lotteries, and in view bf the fact that the difference represents only 2½ per cent., I hope that the House will accept the Amendment.
The information was known to the Committee. The hon. Member for Lewisham, North (Sir A. Hudson) referred to the cost of advertising. What kind of advertising will be necessary? I know it has been said that the promoters have their minds on running at a small expense, but I do not think that that is so. I am of opinion that those people who want to gamble will exploit the situation and advertise as much as possible. This was all known during the Committee stage of the Bill.
I know that I am not permitted to discuss other parts of the Bill, but there is a request for bigger amounts of prize money—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—bigger funds, and there we see the same point of view. I hope that the Committee will reject this Amendment. What has been said this morning reveals a desire for publicity, and I shall oppose the Amendment.
I am sure that all hon. Members, whether they are in favour of the Bill or whether they oppose it, will agree that if this Measure is to be placed upon the Statute Book, it should arrive there in a workable form. Strong representations have been made to me from my constituency that the Bill will be unworkable unless the figure of 7½ per cent. is increased. The promoters of a lottery involving a sum up to £50 would be able to expend only £3 10s. under the 7½ per cent. figure. It would not be worth while to have a lottery for anything under £50 and, therefore, small lotteries would not be held. That would constitute an invitation to organise larger lotteries, but even then the figure of 7½ per cent. would be inadequate.
Suppose an organiser sent out tickets of a maximum value of £500 and not all the tickets were sold, what would happen then? The organiser would probably have spent the £37 10s. which he is allowed to do and then would discover that he had broken the law although he has done so quite unconsciously. What would happen to him? Unless we increase the figure to 10 per cent., we shall be inviting people to break the law. I agree with the hon. Member for lichen (Dr. King) that we should protect the smaller lottery and if we put a Bill on the Statute Book which proves to be unworkable we shall merely confuse the situation.
The hon. Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Black) said that the supporters of this Amendment were doing so because they received encouragement during the Committee discussions, when an Amendment was successfully moved to increase the permitted amount for expenses from 5 per cent. to 7½ per cent. I moved that Amendment, and at that time I did so because I was pressed by promoters of lotteries in my constituency to seek to increase the expense allowance to 12 per cent., 15 per cent. and even to 20 per cent. I obtained particulars regarding a long-established and well-conducted lottery which is held in my constituency, and on the facts supplied to me I was satisfied at that time that 7½ per cent. for allowances would meet the situation.
Since then, as has already been stated, there have been considerable increases in the costs of printing, and I now find that to run the lottery about which I obtained information before moving my Amendment during the Committee stage it would be necessary to increase the permitted expenses to 10 per cent. For that reason I shall support this Amendment.
May I remind the hon. Member for Faversham (Mr. P. Wells) that he says now that he supports an increase from 7½ per cent. to 10 per cent. because of increases in the cost of printing? Has the hon. Member overlooked the fact that during the Committee discussions he said:
… since that time there has been a great increase in the cost of paper and printing, and in the wages of compositors and other printing workers. Consequently, the cost of running a lottery has increased tremendously."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee C. 7th December, 1955; c. 24.]
The hon. Member has taken that factor into account once in gaining the increase to 7½ per cent. and now he wishes to take it into consideration a second time in order to increase the figure of 7½ per cent. to 10 per cent.
The hon. Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Black) and my hon. Friends on this side of the House who have opposed this Amendment have been speaking under some misapprehension. They need entertain no fear that money will be made out of lotteries if the people running them can charge legitimate expenses of £50 on the maximum figure instead of £37 10s. The position has changed since we debated this matter in the Standing Committee three months ago. I suggest that if the hon. Member for Wimbledon reads through the proceedings again, he will find that a number of hon. Members were even then doubtful whether the amount of 7½ per cent. was sufficient. The hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies) suggested that it should be 10 per cent. or 15 per cent.
All hon. Members interested in this Bill have received correspondence, not only from constituency parties but from supporters of clubs of all sorts and other organisations, making representations that the figure of 7½ per cent. is inadequate. But even were 7½ per cent. adequate now, it would be the bare minimum, and within a period, it may be in twelve months' time, it would prove inadequate. We are now in an inflationary period when costs are rising, and apparently it is not possible to keep them down. As a matter of fact, some claim that it costs them 20 per cent. to run these lotteries at the present time, and I have had representations made to me to that effect. Of course, so far as the pools are concerned, with which we are not dealing today, the expenses are as high as 20 or 30 per cent.
I would remind hon. Members who oppose this Amendment that these lotteries are to be run by charitable societies or organisations purely for the sake of raising moneys for those societies, and not for private gain. The people concerned give their time voluntarily. If it is necessary to convince the House of the expenses involved in running such lotteries, many of us can quote figures in support. I will give the House some figures which reached me only this morning in a letter from Dover. There, a society ran a lottery on the Grand National. The total income was just under £100 and the expenses came to £10 5s., of which printing represented eight guineas.
If there are other expenses in addition to printing of less than £2and that is just about 10 per cent. how is anybody going to make any money out of running such a lottery? Again, the same society ran a lottery on the St. Leger. In that case, the proceeds amounted to £98 and the total expenses to £9 13s., of which printing represented £7 10s.
I suggest that this is a reasonable Amendment, and, as the promoter of the Bill, I am quite satisfied that a case has been made out for it. I suggest that the Committee should accept it. I hope that hon. Members will not find it necessary to take the matter to a Division. I do not believe that it is a point of sufficient substance to justify dividing the House on it.
The sum involved is not very great. There are restrictions on the size of the lotteries and on the way in which they can be operated. Conditions have changed considerably since the time of the Royal Commission's Report. The hon. Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Black) said that we had stated that we were not going beyond what the Royal Commission had recommended. But I would remind the hon. Gentleman that considerable changes have taken place since 1934, the chief one of which is that a large number of lotteries which were intended to be legalised under the 1934 Bill were found, by certain law decisions, to be illegal.
That, I think, Mr. Speaker, would be very convenient to the House if it is agreeable to my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore).
This Amendment does, of course, raise the whole principle of the Bill, but I see no need to waste the time of the House by repeating the arguments which were put so well from both sides of the House on Second Reading and during the Committee stage. I wish to submit, quite shortly, that in my opinion, £500 is too small a sum after deducting expenses—now allowed at 10 per cent. and prize money, to achieve the objects of the Bill.
Personally, I should have like to make it £1,000. I share the views of my hon. Friend, but I thought, out of deference to the feelings of some hon. Members opposite who, I know, feel strongly on this matter, that £750 might be accepted by them as a reasonable compromise, and if they will take it in that spirit I am prepared to close the deal on that.
If we are to keep the figure at £500, and allow for a deduction of 10 per cent. for expenses plus the prize money, the main object of the promoters will not be achieved. I know that many hon. Members object in principle to this Bill altogether. They do not like lotteries. But I think that even they admit that the law at present makes nonsense, and has been brought into considerable disrepute as a result. They do not like lotteries; I do. I like small lotteries, I like medium lotteries and I like big lotteries; and I hope to live to see the day when we have State lotteries. At the present rate of progress of inflation. I believe that that day cannot be far off.
I appreciate that certain hon. Members opposite do not fully share my views on this matter; and I would only add that if we are going to introduce a Bill dealing with lotteries in any shape or form then, surely, those hon. Members would agree that we might as well do it on a scale that makes it worth while. If we restrict the sum to £500, with the expenses involved, then I do not think that all the trouble to which the House was put on Second Reading and in Committee will have been worth it. I think that £750 will make it just worth while, and that is why I move this Amendment. I confidently hope that it will receive universal acceptance.
I beg to second the Amendment.
This Amendment has been so ably moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Sir R. Boothby) that all I wish to do is to remind the House that both my party and the party opposite have had great difficulty during the last ten years in stabilising the value of money. Therefore, if £500 is considered even by the opponents of the Bill to be a reasonable figure, and if we do not want to have this matter rehashed again in a few years' time, it would be a wise thing to make the figure in the Bill at this stage sufficiently large in order to be a worthwhile figure in the years to come.
When we consider that Warwick the Kingmaker had an income of £200 a year and realise that whatever Government has been in power money has dropped in value considerably over the centuries, I think it wise, when passing a Bill of this sort, to fix the figure at a reasonably high level.
I do not share the views of the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Glover)—much as I dislike his Government—that between the Committee stage and the present stage of the Bill the cost of living has risen by 50 per cent. and thus necessitates an increase in the prize money of £250. I hope that the House will dig in its heels. This is certainly not an occasion on which to raise the figure.
We are talking about small lotteries and from the very beginning we have had in mind the little people. I hope that in spite of the blandishments of the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Sir R. Boothby), we shall dig in our heels, proceed to discuss more important matters and leave the prize money at £500.
As will be seen, my name is down as supporting this Amendment and it is also down to a further Amendment to raise the sum to £1,000. I happen to be associated with a number of charities of which, in two or three cases, I am the hon. treasurer. There is no doubt in my mind that the chief source of income of many worthwhile charities today comes from running these more or less small raffles. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Oh, yes, it does, and also through the kindly assistance of the people as a whole doing what their consciences tell them to do, that is, to support such societies and, at the same time, to have a little fun out of it by having a raffle. That is a perfectly human and natural emotion. Some of our churches and many admirable charities are really dependent on this method of raising money.
The hon. Gentleman has made a very serious statement. He said that many of our churches were dependent upon this sort of lottery. Would he be good enough to give the House an instance?
Certainly not. I am not going to be carried into an argument about the moral qualities either of the Methodist Church or any other Church. There are churches which very properly support the various building programmes and other methods of extending their work by the aid of charity bazaars in which raffles take place. I cannot see any reason for any hon. Member of this House getting hot about this, because it is doing no harm at all.
I believe we are all agreed that £500 is too low. Some may think £1,000 is too high. Personally, I do not believe that it is. I think that the more money we can rake in for admirable purposes of this kind the better, especially as it has been pointed out that the expenses are going up and that an inflationary period, if not altered, will mean that they may go on increasing. But as I see that the temper of the House is now fixed on £750, I would be prepared to agree to that figure and not press for £1,000.
Speaking entirely for myself, I supported the Bill on Second Reading because it was to deal with small lotteries. While listening to the speech of the hon. Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore), I began to wonder, when he reached the figure of £1,000, whether he would ask the question, "Any advance on £1,000?" I still feel that £500 is about the right figure for a small lottery, and I want to see the people supporting the small lotteries given an opportunity of remaining within the law.
I hope, if I catch your eye, a little later, Sir, to deal with my hon. Friend's reference to Epsom. Let me say that this Bill will not add or subtract anything from the glories of Epsom, but I feel that we are now getting on to the slippery slopes which some people feared from the first. If there is a desire to go beyond the small lottery—and £500 is quite big enough for that—there ought to be a Government Measure and it should take into account the whole of the issues raised by the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire. East (Sir R. Boothby).
I do not say that I would be opposed to such a Measure when I saw its details. This, however, is a Bill to deal with small lotteries, and I do not want to see it so inflated that, no matter what may be the fate of general inflation, this will be allowed to run away. I hope that the House will not support the Amendment of the Hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East or the more ambitious, but I thing, rather more sincere, Amendment of the hon. Member for Ayr.
I wish to support the objections to both these Amendments, voiced by the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), because I find myself in most complete agreement on this occasion with the reasons he has advanced for objecting to them. Before I go on to my main argument, may I express a sense of regret, which, I think, many hon. Members will feel, about what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) concerning the practice of the churches in this matter.
It is not my purpose to suggest that there are no churches which take part in raffles or lotteries for the purpose of raising church funds for building projects or other church purposes, but I think it is only right and fair, seeing that the matter has been raised, to say that a large majority of the churches of various denominations look with the greatest disfavour upon the use of these methods for the purpose of raising money for church or other Christian work. It is quite wrong to suggest to the House or to convey the impression that these kinds of practices are general or widespread among the churches, or are indulged in by more than a small minority of them. I think that it is right that I should have an opportunity of saying this to try to put the matter right.
The right hon. Member for South Shields spoke of getting on to the slippery slope. I was going to refer to the fact that this is further evidence of the thin end of the wedge which many of us foresaw when the Bill was introduced. We are now having revealed to us the real and ultimate intentions of some of those who, up to the moment, under the guise of innocence, have given their support to a Bill to regularise the position in regard to small lotteries. They are not really concerned with maintaining these lotteries within the category of small lotteries, but are merely concerned with using one advance as a springboard towards a further advance—to go on from 5 per cent. to 10 per cent. in the case of the expenses and from £500 to £750 or £1,000 as the total value of the tickets that may be sold.
One can advance towards the darkness as well as towards the light. That is the error into which my hon. Friend and those who think like him are falling.
The way in which the argument has been developed this morning is rather significant. One of the arguments advanced in favour of increasing the total value of the tickets is that, now that the percentage expense has been increased to 10 per cent., £500 is no longer adequate and ought to be raised to some larger figure. My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Sir R. Boothby) suggested £750. This is an example of using one departure from the original purpose of the Bill in order progressively to justify other departures as we go further into this matter.
The arguments which have been advanced in favour of this Amendment—I do not think that those who approve of it will disagree with this—are arguments which would be equally relevant if we made the figure £1,500, £2,000, £5,000, or £10,000. There is no kind of merit in the argument which says that because of the reasons given the figure ought to be £750 instead of £500 or that it ought to be £1,000 instead of £500. If we accept the arguments advanced they would be just as relevant to any larger figure, however great that figure may be, over and above £1,000, which is the highest figure which has been put before the House today. I hope that we shall stick to the figure of £500 for the reasons given by the right hon. Member for South Shields.
I think that the putting down of two Amendments at two different figures is rather naive. I could not help thinking that when my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) saw that an Amendment to increase the figure to £750 was on the Order Paper, he thought, "I will put down an Amendment to increase it to £1,000. That then makes £750 the mean figure between the £500 in the Bill and the £1,000 which I am seeking to achieve in my Amendment, and would give me the opportunity possibly of achieving a very typical business compromise and the mean difference between £1,000 and £500."
There is nothing the matter with that as long as hon. Members realise exactly what methods are being adopted to achieve this purpose. I cannot think that hon. Members will fall for anything so naive as that. I hope that we shall adhere to the idea of small lotteries with a limit of £500.
I think it is a pity to try to arouse feeling in this way. This is a serious matter and we must not try to arouse religious prejudice. We all have a right to our opinions on this matter. Some religious organisations do raise money in this way and do not think it wrong, whilst others think that it is wrong. It is a common practice in this country for religious organisations to try to raise money for purposes connected with their organisations in this way, and the House is trying to deal with that subject. I hope we shall be tolerant and not raise these matters in the course of the debate.
I do not think there is the thin end of the wedge here, but that this is merely a question of trying to keep pace with inflation. Unfortunately, the value of money has been dropping in recent years, and it may continue to drop. We hope that it will not, but it has gone down and it is a fact that the proceeds of £500 from a lottery for a purpose connected with some public object are worth less now than a year or two years ago. Surely there is no ulterior motive here and no question of trying to extend lotteries all over the country when we take note of that fact. In the same way as we have just dealt with the question of expenses and the House has accepted the principle there because of inflation, we should now agree to increase the total amount. I see no earthly reason why the same principle should not be applied in the case of the total amount.
I was not on the Committee which dealt with the Bill, but when I heard that the limit was to be £500 I must say that I felt some apprehension because, from personal experience, I knew there were many draws of a perfectly usual nature in which the amount was £600 or £700. My wife was a secretary of a club which had a draw at Christmas time, which she organised. Quite often it raised more than £500. Unfortunately, she was appointed a justice of the peace and was advised to have her name removed from the tickets.
In my constituency, I am told, there are no fewer than 323 societies of one type or another, all kinds of sporting clubs, dramatic and musical associations, etc., and a few of them run draws of a reasonable nature in which the total amount is more than £500. If we have a limit of £500 the total amount raised will be really about £450. The promoters would have to be cautious to see that they did not go beyond £500 if that was the legal limit, whereas, if the limit was £750 the total sales of tickets would, in practice, not exceed about £650, and I think that would be very reasonable.
There has been some talk about the fall in the value of money. It is said that it is about a third of what it was before the war. If we relate that to the position in 1938 we find that the total of £650 would be equal to just over £200 before the war.
I am not suggesting that at all. I am speaking of the position about twenty years ago, and suggesting that a draw which before the war would raise £200 would require today about £650 to raise an equivalent amount. To raise £650 for a charity a total of £750 would be needed. This proposal would be very helpful to many organisations, and I hope that the House will accept the figure of £750.
I belong to that class of people referred to by the hon. Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) who do not like lotteries, but my dislike of them is not uniform. The bigger they are the more I dislike them.
When we were discussing this Bill on Second Reading the promoters went to some lengths to assure those of us who were not favourably impressed that it was only the small lottery with which they were concerned. They spoke of little lotteries held in connection with bazaars run by political organisations, to collect relatively small amounts of money which otherwise were difficult to collect because many people—I do not say all—were not ready to put their hands in their pockets unless there was some chance of a reward for doing so. As I see it, if we increase the stakes, as is now proposed, we shall be changing the whole character of the proposals of the Bill.
Many of us have relatively small objections to little lotteries, but when big lotteries, organised in a big way to collect £1,000 are involved, the matter is entirely different. I hope that the Amendment will not be accepted.
I wonder whether the House is making unnecessarily heavy weather about an extra £250. The hon. Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies) made the point that expenses had gone up to or were slightly above the 10 per cent. mark. I certainly have had evidence sent to me from a variety of organisations all tending to emphasise that contention.
If we accept that, and look at what would be done if we put up the total value of tickets which may be sold from £500 to £750, that would allow for an increase in the prize money from £250 to £375 and an increase in the amount that the promoters can take out of the draw from £200 to £300. In fact we are arguing about whether a society or charity can or cannot make up to a maximum of another £100. With due respect to the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), I cannot see that to increase the profits to be made from £200 to £300 can possibly take a lottery out of the category of a small lottery and make it a large lottery.
If the right hon. Gentleman will allow me, I think I shall probably cover the point that he has in mind.
One could, of course, apply that argument until the figure was £400, £500 or £600. That is not what we are trying to do. We are agreed that there is to be a limit to the gross proceeds of either £500 or £750; some will be satisfied with the one, and some will be satisfied with the other. None of us, I am sure, want to go further than the latter figure.
Fundamentally, we are arguing now about an increase of £100 in the amount that a charitable organisation can hope to make, and we may, therefore, be arguing about whether such organisations will sit back and hold only one lottery a year or whether they will perhaps hold two or three in an effort to make more money.
The hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire (Sir R. Boothby) is always a pleasant speaker. He makes unattractive propositions look attractive; he makes black look white. He did his best to do the same this morning, and I congratulate the hon. Gentleman. I agree that there is no need for us to get "het up" about the matter. I agreed with my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Philips Price) when he used almost the same words, though I think that he was not exactly reasonable himself.
We need not get excited about this matter. It is a question of arithmetic. Sometimes arithmetic affects principle, and it does this morning. There is room for honest disagreement between us on this question. When we discussed a figure of 10 per cent., we heard about the poor little people worrying about £20 or £50. We have forgotten them now: they are not the people we are now concerned about; we are dealing with much bigger fish, thinking in terms of big money. A figure of £500 is a lot of money where I come from. We do not call £500 a small lottery—we retire on about £500. Of course, it may be true that money has lost its value. None the less, £500 is still a very attractive sum. Who is there, what organisation is there, who would not say, "Thank you very much" for £500? However, we shall be leading ourselves nowhere if we pretend that £500 is not the very limit that we can possibly accept for something which is supposed to be a small lottery.
The value of money has been brought into account this morning. These Friday debates are very interesting. It takes a Friday non-party issue for us to find hon. Gentlemen who support the Government falling over each other to tell us how much money is falling in value these days.
It is curious how these issues make strange bed-fellows; they cross all party boundaries. We are agreed, of course, that in this period of inflation money has lost its value. But where is the faith of hon. Gentlemen? Is the £ never to be restored in value? Shall we always have a Government who have no faith in the future of the £? Are we always to have a Government who say that the £ will be worth still less next year.
Not officially; but it is being revalued every day.
The Amendment really lets the cat out of the bag. It exposes the whole reason behind the activities of some hon. Gentlemen. I want to be reasonable to them as I know they will be to me if they speak after me. I cast my bread upon the waters. Why put a limit at all on the amount that can be gained? Why stop at £750? Why not £751, or £749? What is the special virtue or merit of £750? There is, of course, no merit other than its being £250 more than £500. Hon. Gentlemen are out to wrest as much as they can from this Measure.
I do not want to raise the temperature of the House, but reference was made to the activities of the churches and chapels. Everyone must speak for the Church which he knows best. I am a Methodist. I say to the House and to anybody who reads these words that what the hon. Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) had to say about churches depending upon gambling does not apply to the Methodist Church.
We are here dealing, of course, with gambling. We can call it a lottery—sweet euphemism. It is gambling that we are talking about. We are here considering people who try to get something without effort, people who will not give 6d. to a charity unless there is a chance of getting a lot more than 6d. back again. That is the real issue we are concerned about now.
I like the confidence of the hon. Gentleman. He is like my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley). He thinks that he speaks in this House for everyone in the rest of the country.
It is not always that one finds a listener as quick to take up a point as is the hon. Gentleman. I was right; I was justified in casting my bread upon the waters.
I suggest that we leave the churches out of this discussion. I am quite sure I can say in strict truth that when my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucestershire, West referred to the activities of churches and chapels, he was not speaking for the chapels of the Forest of Dean. I should like that to be made perfectly clear. By all means, let us debate this matter with good humour and good spirit, disagreeing on principle; but let us not try to bring in our respective religious organisations in some sort of competition to show who is broadminded and who is narrow-minded.
Of course, I am narrow-minded. Any man worth his salt is narrow-minded about some things: there are limits which we set ourselves for our conduct on certain specific occasions. A man who is not narrow-minded in some matters is not a man at all. Of course I am narrow-minded: some hon. Members may say that I am a narrow-minded bigot. I do not mind; it is not hurtful, so long as they do not tell me.
If we vary this amount, we change the character of the Bill. We are going away from the declared intention of the promoter; I hope that he will stand firm, and that the House will reject the Amendment.
There are some hon. Members, and certainly many people in the country, who are not prejudiced one way or the other about small lotteries and this sort of gambling. All we are concerned about—hon. Members ought certainly to be concerned about it—is the legalisation of what some of us feel to be an innocent pastime.
If we are to legalise it, we ought to be very realistic about doing so. A small lottery should not be judged entirely by the amount of money involved. A small lottery covering a large area often involves a lot of money. In the case of a church bazaar or similar function a lottery may realise £20 or £30 and may be regarded as small or large according to the number of people attending. A similar lottery held by a cricket or football club covering a city the size of Birmingham, which has more than one million people, may still be a small lottery even if the amount involved is £750.
To be realistic, I feel I must support the Amendment. I do not think it should in any way harm the conscience of those who want to limit the size of lotteries. In any case, in the course of a few years the figure of £750 will have to be reviewed as it may then be too small, because the value of the £ always goes the same way whether we have Labour, Liberal or Conservative Governments.
We have had an interesting debate on the value of the £ and the extent to which the churches participate in gambling. Unlike the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Sir R. Boothby), I am not a lover of lotteries and that was not the reason why I introduced the Bill. In fact, the only lottery that I have ever won was the lottery which allowed me to be here this morning. The only lottery tickets which I have ever possessed have been those which I am more or less compelled to buy in my constituency, and I have never won any of those lotteries. Indeed, if one did so, one would feel compelled to return the prize.
The House ought to recall the Second Reading. The Bill was given an unopposed Second Reading on the basis of its being a Small Lotteries and Gaming Bill. During Second Reading it was not suggested on either side of the House that the amount of the proceeds should exceed £500, and it was not so suggested in Committee. The Second Reading took place in November, and it is true that the value of the £ has declined since then, but not even the present Government has succeeded in reducing it to such an extent as to justify the proposed increase of 50 per cent. in the total amount of proceeds permitted.
While the matter is clearly one for the House to decide, I, as the promoter of the Bill, after consultations with my colleagues, came to the conclusion that £500 was a reasonable sum to select in order to define a small lottery. I am unconvinced by the arguments put forward this morning in favour of increasing the amount to £750. I share the view expressed by my right hon. Friend that if larger lotteries are to be legalised, that is something for the Government to do. The Government have assured us that they are going to implement some of the recommendations of the Royal Commission, and when that legislation is brought before the House there will no doubt be opportunities for extending the scope of lotteries if the House so desires.
Whereas hon. Members will have received considerable representations about expenses, I very much doubt whether
many have received representations about the enlargement of the size of the lotteries. The two things are not analogous. The reason why we desired to increase the percentage for expenses was that it helped the people running the smallest lotteries. I do not think the same arguments apply for increasing the size of the lotteries. After all, it is possible for societies to run weekly lotteries under the Bill and if they can raise about £250 per week for their funds it represents a considerable amount over a year.
It was essentially to assist those who were without the law in running lotteries that I decided to introduce the Bill. As I have said, I am no lover of lotteries and I am not concerned whether the churches run lotteries or not. In fact, I have been almost embarrassed by the way in which some churches have embraced me because the introduction of the Bill has assisted them. I desired to help small societies who were in difficulties about remaining within the law. I have introduced the Bill because I want the law to be respected and enforced and not held in contempt, and I believe that that will be achieved if we retain the figure of £500.
I appreciate the motives behind the Amendment and I very much regret that I am opposing hon. Members who support it. I hope they will not consider it desirable or necessary to press the Amendment to a Division. Views have been aired and opinions stated, and I believe that the balance of opinion expressed is against changing the nature of the Bill, which would happen if the amount were raised to £750.
|Division No. 142.]||AYES||[12.40 p.m.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Anderson, Frank||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Redhead, E. C.|
|Boardman, H.||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.)||Jeger, George (Goole)||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St. Pncs, S.)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Watkins, T. E.|
|Deer, G.||King, Dr. H. M.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Gibson-Watt, D.||MacColl, J. E.||Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Hastings, S.||McLaughlin, Mrs. P.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis)||Mellish, R. J.|
|Holmes, Horace||Oram, A. E.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Houghton, Douglas||Owen, W. J.||Mr. Black and Mr. G. Thomas.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)||Moore, Sir Thomas|
|Barber, Anthony||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Mulley, F. W.|
|Bartley, P.||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Nabarro, G. D. N.|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.|
|Bossom, Sir A. C.||Hill, John (S. Norfolk)||Parkin, B. T.|
|Boyd, T. C.||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Channon, H.||Hughes-Young, M. H. C.||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Hunter, A. E.||Redmayne, M.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Iremonger, T. L.||Snow, J. W.|
|Dance, J. C. G.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Studholme, H. G.|
|Fell, A.||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)|
|Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale)||Linstead, Sir H. N.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Freeth, D. K.||McLeavy, Frank||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Glover, D.||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Mahon, Simon||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Gurden, Harold||Mathew, R.||Sir Robert Boothby and|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Mitchison, G. R.||Mr. Rees-Davies.|
Question put and agreed to.
I think that that would be for the convenience of the House, Mr. Speaker.
I beg to move, in page 2, line 22, at the end, to insert:
and if on any day on which tickets or chances in the lottery are on sale tickets or chances are on sale in another lottery to which this section applies promoted on behalf of the society, the total value of the tickets or chances sold in those lotteries taken together shall not exceed five hundred pounds".
The words "five hundred"—the last three words of this Amendment—will have to be changed to "seven hundred and fifty" in consequence of the Amendment which has just been made.
This is largely a drafting Amendment. Paragraph (m) of this subsection was inserted as an Amendment by my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies), the promoter of the Bill, to avoid a difficulty very properly indicated by the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Black), the possibility of the provisions of the Bill being circumvented by a society's running three or four lotteries concurrently. We want to ensure that in a rather different way, and it is the purpose of this series of Amendments to ensure that a society shall not run two or more lotteries together if the total value of the lotteries exceeds the maximum prescribed in the Bill. The reason for doing it in this new form is a practical one. Many societies have a regular clientele for a weekly lottery, but they may want to have in addition a Christmas draw.
I would draw attention to the last of this series of Amendments. It requires that a return which has to be made under the Bill by a society shall include the dates between which the tickets in a lottery were sold, to make it easier for people to check to see that the amount involved did not exceed £750, the amount which the Bill now permits. The Amendment in page 3, line 33, provides that the various dates between those on which tickets are first and last sold shall be effective dates from the point of view of legal proceedings, and so there will not be any necessity, in the event of a prosecution, for the police to prove the sale of tickets on any one of those days.
The Amendments will permit two or more lotteries to be held by a society concurrently provided the maximum permitted amount is not exceeded.
I beg to second the Amendment.
I do not think that I need to go into this matter in very great detail. The effect of the Amendment in page 1, line 5, which the House has accepted, together with this Amendment and the consequential Amendment in page 2, line 44, make it unnecessary for me to move an Amendment which stands in my name and the names of my hon. Friends in page 3, line 5.
The Amendment which we are now considering will achieve the object which I have in mind, namely, to avoid a situation wherein if one of the lotteries is being held under this Bill when it becomes an Act at the same time as a legal lottery is being held under another Act, the lottery held under this Bill is illegal. That is an undesirable position.
I beg to move, in page 3, line 5, at the end to insert:
(n) no child or young person of under eighteen years of age shall be permitted to undertake the sale of tickets".
I submit to the House that this is by far the most important Amendment involving a principle which the House will consider today. I hope to introduce the Amendment with a minimum of heat and a maximum of reason. I feel sure that if we approach the matter in that way there is only one conclusion to which the House can come. I think that it will be generally agreed by hon. Members, however diverse their views may be on the general merits of the Bill, that there is a wisdom in keeping children and young people away from betting and gambling activities so far as we possibly can. Whatever views one might hold about it being right or wrong for adult people to engage in betting and gambling, I do not think that there is any serious doubt that it is other than wise for children and young persons to be subjected to this temptation.
Two main matters seem to arise from the Amendment. The first is whether there should be a prohibition at all against children and young people undertaking to sell lottery tickets. Secondly, if so, what is the appropriate age at which to draw the line? In Committee, I introduced an Amendment in terms similar to those of the Amendment which we are now considering.
After the matter had been discussed for some little time, the then Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department suggested that there had been no opportunity for consultation with the various youth movements of the country, and that it would be unwise, in his opinion, for the Committee to reach a decision until such time as that consultation had taken place. His advice to the Committee, therefore, on behalf of the Government, was that if I could be induced not to press my Amendment in Committee, inquiry would be made in the meantime about the attitude of the youth organisations, and that if I or any other hon. Member saw fit, the Amendment could be discussed on Report in the light of the greater information which would then be available.
Consultation has taken place with a wide range of youth organisations, and it is right that I should tell the House of the result of those consultations. The following organisations favoured a prohibition of children and young people being allowed to undertake the sale of lottery tickets: the Boy Scouts Association, the Girl Guides Association, the Boys' Brigade, the Girls' Life Brigade, the Girls' Guildry, the Young Men's Christian Association, the National Association of Boys' Clubs, the Sea Cadet Corps, the St. John Ambulance Brigade, the National Sunday School Union—and I point out that there are still 3 million children in regular attendance in our Sunday Schools—and the British Council of Churches, representing all the main denominations other than the Roman Catholic Church.
All these organisations, having been consulted, have expressed themselves in favour of a prohibition. There is a certain difference of opinion among some of them about the age at which the prohibition should operate, and I will come to that in a moment, but on the principle of there being a prohibition all these organisations are unanimous.
I am not aware of that. The consultations were conducted in the main by the Home Office.
I understand that the Home Office approached the youth organisations but not the church organisations. The opinion which has been expressed by the British Council of Churches was not, I think, expressed as a result of it being invited to express it, but the Council attached such importance to the matter that it felt it wise to make its views known.
What were the considerations which led these very impressive and influential youth and church organisations to express such a united opinion in favour of the prohibition? I should like to read three letters—they are not unduly long—which I think fairly sum up the views of the organisations on this matter.
The first letter was written by Lord Rowallan, the Chief Scout, to the Home Secretary. In it he gives the view of the Boy Scouts movement as follows:
The Small Lotteries and Gaming Bill has been carefully considered by the Committee of the Council of the Boy Scouts Association"—
so we are not dealing here merely with the personal opinion of Lord Rowallan, important and valuable though that would be. He continues—
and they were unanimously agreed on supporting Mr. Black's Amendment."—
that is, the Amendment which I am now commending to the House—
We have always believed that one of the great temptations to young people is the temptation to get something for nothing. There are innumerable ways in which they can earn their funds by giving something in return. Raffles and similar methods, however popular they may be, have been forbidden in Scouting since the early days, and we earnestly hope that nothing will be done which will in any way encourage the boys to take part in such activities.
The second letter comes from Major General Wilson-Haffenden, the General Secretary of The Boys' Brigade. It was addressed to the Home Secretary, and reads as follows:
I see from HANSARD dated 14th December, 1955, columns 57 and 58, that you are proposing to consult with youth organisations on this question of young persons selling lottery tickets. May I say at the outset that The Boys' Brigade, with its 200,000 members wholeheartedly supports the Amendment put forward by the hon. Member for Wimbledon. It is difficult enough to explain to boys the inherent evils of gambling when, in many of their homes, this is an everyday pursuit. This in its turn breeds a belief that there are easier ways of obtaining money than working for it, with results to our nation of which you, as Home Secretary, are only too well aware.
If the Amendment is not approved, our position will be considerably undermined, and
some of our Companies may be tempted to adopt this method of raising funds. One of the main reasons why God has so abundantly blessed The Boys' Brigade, and enabled two million of our finest citizens to pass through its ranks, is because we have firmly set our face against less desirable methods of raising finance. We therefore hope that the Government will support this Amendment.
The third and last letter is from the Secretary of The British Council of Churches, which, as I have mentioned, represents all the principal Christian churches of this land with the exception of the Roman Catholic Church. This is what the Secretary writes in his letter which, unlike the other two, is addressed to me and not to the Home Secretary:
I enclose a copy of a statement adopted by the Youth Department of the British Council of Churches which supports in strong terms your Amendment to exclude young people from the provisions of the Small Lotteries and Gaming Bill. We have sent this resolution to the Home Secretary, and it is also being communicated to the Press.
We would very much like it to become known that although many youth organisations have been unable to express an opinion on this question we, representing the youth work of all the non-Roman Catholic Churches in this country, are entirely convinced that the Bill will prove to be morally harmful to young people unless some such Amendment as that proposed by yourself during the Committee stage is adopted by Parliament.
The terms of the Resolution passed unanimously by the British Council of Churches and enclosed with the letter to me, are as follows:
At its half-yearly meeting on 15th March, 1956, the Youth Department of the British Council of Churches considered the Small Lotteries and Gaming Bill now before Parliament, and particularly the Amendment proposed … by Mr. Cyril Black, M.P. during the Committee stage on 14th December, seeking to exclude young people under 18 from the provision of the Bill.
The Youth Department, deeply concerned for the spiritual and moral well-being of the young people of the nation, wishes to record its conviction that this Bill, whilst removing certain indefensible anomalies in the present law"—
I feel sure that the promoter of the Bill will be gratified that this purpose of the Bill has been recognised by the British Council of Churches—
will undoubtedly lead to an increase of gambling, to the enfeeblement and impoverishment of national life. Further, the encouragement of lotteries for charitable purposes is destructive of the basic Christian principle of direct giving which we wish to see preserved among the young people growing up.
In considering Mr. Black's Amendment in the light of the above observations, the Youth Department of the British Council of Churches, is convinced that the planning of a lottery may prove to be as great a moral danger to the young as the actual selling and buying of tickets. The following resolution was accordingly unanimously passed:
Whether hon. Members of this House agree entirely, or not at all, with the opinions of the organisations to which I have referred, and with the reasons given for those opinions, they cannot fail to recognise two things: first, the extremely influential and comprehensive character of the organisations who have expressed themselves on this matter; secondly, the sincerity of the opinions advanced. It is open to any hon. Member to come to a different conclusion from those expressed in the letters and resolutions, but as to the sincerity and the public spirit of the organisations concerned, I am sure that hon. Members will agree there can be no question.
'No child or person under 18 years of age should be permitted in any way to be concerned with the promotion of such a lottery either in organisation, sale or purchase of tickets.'
Now I pass to the second matter to which I want to direct the consideration of the House, namely, what is the appropriate age at which to draw the line? I know that the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) has tabled an Amendment which seeks to substitute the age of 16 for the age of 18 years in my Amendment. In matters of education and youth work, as in other matters, I have the greatest respect for the experience and the wisdom of the right hon. Gentleman. However, I want the House to consider two or three powerful arguments in favour of 18 as the age of prohibition in preference to the age of 16.
First, however, I will tell the House which of the national organisations supported the age limit of 18 and which preferred another age limit. Support for the age limit of 18 comes from the Boy Scouts, the Boys' Brigade, the Girls' Life Brigade, the Girls' Guildry, the Young Men's Christian Association, the National Sunday School Union and the British Council of Churches. There is support for an age limit of 16 from the Girl Guides, the National Association of Boy Scouts and the Sea Cadet Corps, whilst the junior section of St. John Ambulance Brigade apparently prefers the age of 15, which is the present school-leaving age.
I support and am asking the House to support the 18-year limit in preference to 16 or 15 years for several reasons which appear to me to be overwhelmingly convincing. The first is that among the youth organisations themselves there is a far greater body of support for the age of 18 than for a younger age. In Committee, the former Joint Under-Secretary of State evidently had in mind the view that the House should pay serious regard to the youth organisations and their opinion in this matter, otherwise there would have been no point in deferring the matter to ascertain the views of the youth organisations. We have obtained those views, and there is a tremendous preponderance of opinion among the youth organisations and the church organisations in favour of the age of 18 in preference to a younger age.
The second point is really one of convenience and practicability. At present there is a prohibition on young persons under 18 years of age being engaged in the selling of flags in the street on flag days and in taking part in house-to-house collections for charitable purposes. Therefore, that would appear to me to suggest that the view has been taken by the Home Office in the past that the right point at which to draw the line in regard to these activities is 18, and not a younger age.
If the House were to adopt the age of 16, as the right hon. Member for South Shields desires, we should have the entirely anomalous position that young people between 16 and 18 years of age could sell raffle tickets for charity while between those ages they would be debarred from collecting money from house to house for charitable purposes and would be debarred from selling flags on flag days for charities. To create that anomaly—to say that it is right for a young person aged 16 or 17 to be engaged in the sale of lottery tickets but wrong to be engaged in house-to-house collection or the selling of flags on flag days—is an anomalous position that cannot be justified.
If the House decides that the line should be drawn at 16 years of age in regard to the sale of lottery tickets, it seems to me inevitable that an early opportunity must be taken of lowering to 16 the age below which young people cannot take part in the selling of flags or in house-to-house collections. I think that on every ground of reason the age should be the same for the different purposes. This constitutes a very strong argument on practical grounds and on reasons of expediency for fixing the age at 18 and not at a lower age.
There is the third point—this is not an analogy but it is a point worth making in passing—that the limitation in regard to children and young people in respect of licensed premises is drawn at 18. There is ample support in the existing law of the country for saying that 18 is the age at which the line is normally drawn. I therefore commend to the House the view that the age be fixed at 18, if my Amendment is adopted, rather than at 16.
It is clear from what I have said that there is overwhelming public support on the part of both individuals and organisations most concerned with youth that this prohibition should be written into the Bill. It seems to me extraordinary to have achieved such a large measure of common agreement among a large number of organisations which on other matters might not agree one with the other. But here is an overwhelming consensus of opinion by those in touch with youth and engaged upon the many problems with which we are familiar which relate to children and young people that this prohibition should be written into the Bill. I suggest that we ignore such a wealth and body of opinion at our own peril; and only if there were the strongest possible reasons for doing so should we be justified in ignoring opinions coming from such sources.
Do not let us make it more difficult for those who, in a voluntary capacity, are giving of their time and their sacrificial service to the development of habits of sound citizenship among children and young people, by ignoring such a unanimous request on their part that this safeguard be introduced into the Bill.
I think that hon. Members know that on general grounds I dislike the Bill, and I should have preferred that it had not been introduced because I believe it will do more harm than any good that it does. So far as the promoters and supporters of the Bill are concerned, however, they ought at any rate to meet the views of those of us who share the kind of apprehensions which I have expressed by giving way and accepting my Amendment. I am quite certain that it would be to their advantage to do so. They want the co-operation of all sections of the House in achieving the main purpose that they have in view.
The Bill is likely, perhaps, to get on to the Statute Book at an earlier date and more easily if, on an important question of this kind, one of—in the views of many of us—its more objectionable features can be cured by the Amendment. I hope that the necessary co-operation and good will may be forthcoming so that the matter to which so many people attach such a high degree of importance may be safeguarded before we part with the Bill.
I beg to second the Amendment.
The Amendment has been moved in a manner to which no one could take exception. The hon. Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Black) has spoken for a wide public indeed in voicing the sentiments which he has just expressed on the question of young people being concerned in the sale of lottery tickets. I have always taken the view that this House is the custodian of the best interests of the nation, and that anything affecting or likely to affect the national character should receive absolute consideration before Members walk into the Division Lobbies and cast their votes.
There is not the slightest doubt that the national character can be influenced by the attitude which we adopt on the Bill, for in the nation's schools, the day schools as well as the Sunday schools, honest, decent people are trying to teach our young folk how to give generously, how to live by principle and how to think of others rather than themselves. They are engaged in the task of teaching the value of honest work and of getting on in life. It would make the position of both the day school teacher and the Sunday school teacher almost impossible if this House made it permissible for children to be engaged or caught up by people who have an interest in lotteries in which as much as £750 may be at stake.
I regard this as a very serious issue. If I had a son, I should not like to think that in his immature years, due to his loyalty to some movement, he was connected with things which in later life might decide his attitude on bigger issues. From these lottery interests, we might find young people developing a taste for gambling on a much bigger and broader scale. We cannot evade our responsibilities in this matter. The age of 18 is likely to be challenged by folk who are known to hold a very deep concern for the well-being of young people, I submit that if there be any element of doubt in our minds as between the ages of 16 and 18, we should, since we are dealing with the well-being of young people, play for safety. We should act with caution. Caution is justified when we are dealing with the character of young people.
They are immature at 16. They are immature at 17. Of course, youngsters of 17 would not like to be told that, and I should not like to tell them. They do not believe it. I did not believe it. I was much more confident of my knowledge of the world when I was 17 than I am now. The youngster in his early 'teens will be willing to take a chance and risk that he might be exploited. The House must erect as many bastions as we can to protect young people. If there is a doubt, we should come down on the side of safety and say that the age should be 18.
The hon. Member for Wimbledon has read a most impressive list of organisations which are in favour of keeping the age at 18. They are not people who have any vested interest, other than the well-being of the youth of the nation. When Lord Rowallan writes on behalf of the Scout movement, when the Sunday school movement makes an appeal to the House, when the British Council of Churches speaks with one voice, we are acting foolishly if we think that our judgement is wiser on issues on which they are specialists. We might damage where we do not seek to damage; in seeking a small advantage for the Bill, we might find that we have hurt the nation in its most sensitive place.
It is a matter of concern to us all that the law, which has many anomalies, shall not be made to look still more ridiculous by steps which we take in the House today. It is ridiculous, if young people cannot go round collecting for the Salvation Army until they are 18, that they should be allowed to sell lottery tickets from door to door. We ought not to lend the dignity of the House to creating consciously further anomalies which have no advantages. What advantage can there be to the promoters of the Bill and the promoters of lotteries to be able to have young people helping in lotteries before they are 18?
All my instincts lead me to say that we should hearken to those people who specialise in caring for the youth of the nation, people who get no financial reward, but who receive a moral reward; whose only reward for service is in seeing a healthy development of the character of the rising generation; people who will give unbiassed advice. When I say unbiassed, I mean unbiassed on everything but the well-being of the young person.
As we have been guided in this way by organisations outside, I hope that the promoters of the Bill will accept the age limit of 18. We are all concerned these days that the British people should have a due sense of the dignity of work and of their personal responsibility for the well-being of the community. In future years the attitude of the British people towards work could be changed if we encouraged this sort of thing among our young people at too early an age. The question of the small lottery in the club or other organisation does not appear to be very harmful, but there are some things with which we cannot deal lightly, and principle is one of them. We cannot play with the interests of young people. I have great pleasure in seconding the Amendment moved so cogently, so sincerely and so effectively by the hon. Member for Wimbledon.
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, to leave out "eighteen" and to insert "sixteen".
I do not want to assist in the destruction of the Bill by talking at undue length on small points. I accept all that the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Black) said about the impressive nature of the bodies he cited as being in favour of his Amendment and resisting my Amendment. I point out that one of the unfortunate things in this country is that about the time boys and girls leave school, they leave most of the organisations which the hon. Member listed. It is one of the things which give me most misgiving. When boys and girls leave school, they leave the Scouts, the Guides, the Life Brigade and all those other influences. They go out into the world where they work, in factories, workshops and all sorts of industries and callings where they mix with other people.
I want to see this Bill a workable Bill which will not lead to the kind of difficulty that now confronts us where some chief constables are more vigilant than others and people are caught within the meshes of the law while others in adjoining areas escape. A county borough chief constable may operate the existing law in all its severity and in the surrounding county area the same view may not be taken. It will be very difficult indeed, when these young people are at work in the circumstances that I have described, for this law to be enforced against them. Some people may act almost as common informers. They may have a grudge against a certain youth or a certain firm or even against the organisation promoting the lottery, and information may be given. In those circumstances, the new law will be brought into the same contempt as the existing law.
Let us be quite firm. These young people who go out into the forms of occupation I have described—and, after all, they are the bulk of our young people—very soon get into contact with a good many things with which we would not desire them to get into contact. I regard all gambling as folly. I do not regard it as wickedness until it reaches a certain stage; I regard it as folly. People in the workaday world ought not to be unduly protected from folly. They should have the opportunity to learn what folly costs.
In this matter I adopt the principle enunciated by Lord Hugh Cecil, as he then was, as long ago as 1909, in his inaugural address as President of the Associated Societies of the University of Edinburgh. He said:
The principle which I venture to suggest to you ought to be substituted for that which Mill lays down, the sound ground for maintaining liberty is that liberty is the condition of human progress and that without it there
cannot be in any true sense virtue or righteousness. Virtue is attained in proportion as liberty is attained: for virtue does not consist in doing right, but in choosing to do right.
These young people, when they go to work, will be faced with choices. Do not let us make the choice whether they shall run the risk of being caught by the policeman or not, because that makes it worth while. Let us make the choice the reasonable one between folly and wisdom. I say quite frankly that I do not yield to the hon. Member for Wimbledon in my desire to see young people protected, but they must be protected in a way that leaves some responsibility on them. Where it is unnecessary to do so we do not want to make the feeling, "If we do this we shall be getting one up on the policeman," one of the determining factors.
That is where I draw the distinction between the street collection, the house-to-house collection, and the kind of thing that my Amendment would permit. The policeman can see all the house-to-house collections. He gets the returns. He can see this sort of operation being carried on on a flag day—on certain defined days—and it is done in the street; but these lottery tickets will not be sold in the street. They will be sold in the factory, the workshop and the office.
If the age of 18 is put in the Bill for this purpose we shall very soon revive some of the difficulties that we are trying to avoid. Young people nowadays are inclined to be older in their knowledge of some of these matters than young people were years ago. Certainly, when I discuss some of the things of this world with nephews of mine who are now 16 years of age I find that they know their way round in the world a great deal better than I did at that age. The cinema, the wireless and television bring them along at a far earlier age than was the case 40 or 50 years ago.
I hope that the House will feel that it does desire that this Measure, for which I have a great deal less enthusiasm now than I had earlier this morning, should be effective. Throughout the Committee stage I was concerned with making the Bill workable. I believe that the hon. Member for Wimbledon, with the spirit of whose Amendment I have complete sympathy, would be making the Bill more difficult to work if he insisted on the age of 18, and that is why I suggest that the age of 16 is a suitable one to insert.
May I put one question to the right hon. Gentleman? Inasmuch as the great majority of Children leave school and go to work at 15, would not the whole logic of the argument which the right hon. Gentleman addressed to the House apply more strongly to an age limit of 15 rather than 16?
No. As a matter of fact, children do not leave at the age of 15. They leave at the end of the term in which they reach the age of 15, and I am glad to know that in the secondary modern schools an increasing number of them are staying until they reach the age of 16. For practical purposes I regard the age of 16 as about the age which marks leaving the shelter of the school to go into the workshop and the factory.
It might be convenient if I intervene now. I had expected to intervene because of the undertaking, which my predecessor gave when this matter was discussed in Committee, to obtain the views of the youth organisations. My hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Black) has anticipated my skirmish in this respect, and it will save the time of the House if I do not repeat what he quite accurately gave as the findings of the youth organisations—
Perhaps I ought to give a very quick summary.
The following organisations support the Amendment making it illegal for young persons to handle tickets under the age of 18: the Boy Scouts Association, the Boys' Brigade, the Girls' Guildry, the Girls' Life Brigade and the Young Men's Christian Association. Those who support making it illegal for young persons under the age of 16 to handle tickets are: the Girl Guides Association, the National Association of Boys' Clubs and the Sea Cadet Corps. The National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs recommend that no limit be placed upon the age at which young persons should be permitted to sell tickets.
I must make one reference to the point made by my hon. Friend about the comparison of limitations imposed on young persons selling lottery tickets and young persons making house-to-house street collections. I am sure that he did it quite unwittingly, but he did not get his facts quite right. The regulations applying to house-to-house collections have been made by the Home Secretary and by the Secretary of State for Scotland. They prohibit the making of such collections by young people under the age of 18 in the Metropolitan Police district and under the age of 16 elsewhere. Regulations applying to street collections can be made in England and Wales by the police authorities and in Scotland by the local authorities. The Metropolitan Police district and big centres of population have fixed the age at 18 below which collections may not be undertaken. Most other police authorities have adopted the age of 16.
I am obliged to my hon. Friend and I accept at once his correction. I was familiar with conditions in the Metropolitan Police area and I am afraid that I assumed that they were general throughout the country. As I understand it, what my hon. Friend is now saying is that within the big centres of population 18 is the usual age and elsewhere it is 16. If that be so, would it not be correct to say that so far as the great majority of the population is concerned, inasmuch as they live in the big centres of population, they would live in areas where the age rule of 18 applies?
My intervention was merely to get the record straight. I did not wish to join issue with my hon. Friend.
What will concern most hon. Members is whether it is morally harmful for young persons to undertake the sale of tickets, and if so, at what age? In this respect I am sure that hon. Members will be grateful for the lead which has been given on this point by the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede). I was interested in what he said about police supervision, because that is a matter to which particular attention has to be paid at the Home Office.
If we are to include in this Bill anything which the police either cannot enforce or which they can enforce only by incurring a great deal of odium, that would not represent an advance on the present position. I do not wish to take up more time on this point, but I think that many hon. Members will probably feel that the proposal of the right hon. Member for South Shields would cover a situation which we are all agreed should be dealt with.
The words of the present Amendment may raise some difficulty. I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon will feel willing to accept the proposal of the right hon. Member for South Shields and will be prepared to withdraw his Amendment. I have a form of words which I might, with permission, submit to the House in the form of a manuscript Amendment to this effect: In page 3, line 5, at the end to insert:
(n) no ticket or chance shall be sold by a person under sixteen years of age.
I put that forward only for the convenience of the House, and it remains to be seen what the mover of the Amendment now feels that he should do.
I wish to add my plea to that of the Joint Under-Secretary to the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Black) and other hon. Members who support his Amendment. I do so because when I first saw the Amendment which proposed to prohibit the sale of tickets by children under 18 I had considerable doubts about its wisdom. I doubted whether it was enforceable, and one of the main purposes of this Bill is to make the law enforceable.
Having heard my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), I am convinced of the wisdom of including some such restriction as this, and that 16 would be the right age. I hope, therefore, that the hon. Member for Wimbledon will co-operate in this respect and agree to the suggestions of the Under-Secretary. Clearly, it is the wish of the House that there should be some restriction, and it is essential that it should be a practical restriction and one which can be enforced. We have heard from my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields and from the Under-Secretary that 16 is the age at which they consider the restriction should be enforced. I ask hon. Members to accept that figure rather than the figure of 18.
I wish to support my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede). We all feel that it is undesirable that young persons should take part in the sale of these tickets below a certain age and the question is what that age should be. There now exist regulations which cover children while they are at school. I happen to know that the Gloucestershire County Council has forbidden the sale of raffle tickets by children at Christmas draws, and I have no doubt that there are other county councils which do the same. The question is whether young persons should be released immediately from this sanction when they leave school, or whether there should be an interim period.
I was impressed by the argument of my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields and what was said by the Joint Under-Secretary. I think the age should be less than 18. My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) said that we ought to build as many bastions as possible for the protection of the young. That is true up to a certain age, but I am concerned with teaching these young people to build their own bastions. There is good reason for protecting them up to the age of 16, but beyond that we must try to teach young people to help themselves and not keep them strait-jacketed.
We must try to draw the line between schoolchildren, adolescents and adults. There is a period of adolescence and during that time we should try to educate young people by giving them responsibility and teaching them to be good citizens. I hope, therefore, that the House will agree to accept the age limit as 16.
Further Amendment made: In page 3, line 33, at end insert:
(5) For the purposes of this section tickets or chances in a lottery shall be deemed to be on sale on each day between the dates on which such tickets or chances are first and last sold, whether or not any such ticket or chance is sold on that day.—[Mr. Mulley.]