Taxation is far too high already, particularly direct taxation. I hope that the whole House would reject the second possibility, namely, to accept an inadequate rate of building, because that would be a counsel of despair.
In my view, we are left with the third possibility only, namely, to find additional sources of revenue for these very worthy causes. This is one additional sources of revenue which I believe is highly desirable, and the Clause would enable us to vote in favour of the principle of it.
If it is desirable that we should spend more money on new hospital building, why is it right to say that we should not get that extra money from increased taxation? We should take it out of the same pockets by means of gambling.
We would find additional sources by means of the sort of suggestion which I have made. If there were merely a transfer of funds from one form of gambling to another, we would be no better off.
I rest my case—and I agree that we cannot prove this one way or the other until we have seen it in practice—on the distinct possibility that we shall tap additional sources, particularly at local level, through this proposal. In view of the desperate need to improve our hospital services and many other services, it would be a great pity if the House were to reject this proposal. We are being asked only to approve the principle of lotteries; we are not agreeing to any way of carrying it out. I hope that hon. Members will think very hard before rejecting the principle.
I am delighted to follow the hon. Member for Somerset, North (Mr. Dean) in the debate, for more than one reason. We became Members of the House at the same time, I representing Carlisle and the hon. Gentleman representing Somerset, North, the constituency in which I was born. He lives in the same village as my mother lives today. In that respect, we have something in common.
I was greatly alarmed to hear the hon. Gentleman say that he was in favour of establishing the principle of lotteries in this country. I say in modesty and with sincerity that that will not go down very well in the hon. Member's constituency, even among some of his supporters. He went on to give this country's position in the hospital building league table. I do not wish to make party political capital out of this issue; it far surpasses party controversy.
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Stoke Newington and Hackney, North (Mr. Weitzman) accused some hon. Members of being emotional. I make no apology for being emotional on this matter. I am not unmindful that when Mr. Harold Macmillan introduced his Premium Savings Bonds he was thoroughly attacked for doing so by hon. Members on my side of the House. Whether that attack was made for party political gain, or whether it was made on moral issues I do not know, but the plain fact is that the Labour Party opposed Premium Bonds at that time.
That may be so, but, with all respect to the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Sir A. V. Harvey), hon. Members have no need to throw stones in that respect. On that occasion, the principle was strongly condemned by the Labour Party.
The main issue as I see it is whether the State should be the custodian of some kind of national lottery. In discussing the Clause, it would be wise to look at history, particularly of this country. Lotteries were first heard of in England in 1569 and for some time were legal, but, alas, so many of the lotteries in those days became private and cheating affairs and became mixed up with the more reputable ones that legislation was necessary and State lotteries were put to an end in 1826. Now, the whole question of a State lottery is being revived. If the House of Commons, by its decision tonight, gives the green light for "Go", I believe that it will be one of the most disastrous decisions taken in this House for a considerable time.
Of course, I am all in favour of some kind of control of gambling. I am glad that the question was considered by the present Lord Butler. I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer is looking at the question in the Bill. I look at this aspect from the moral point of view. I make no apology for that. I suppose that in many cases, to some of us, morality stems from religious modes of thought and, possibly, some kind of theological understanding, whilst to others morality may be simply an activity of conscience. To me, the question of a State lottery is a moral issue. If I think that a State lottery is morally wrong, in my view it cannot be politically right, from whichever side of the House it stems.
Parliament is right to look at gambling and to legislate, but for the State to become involved in it is wrong. Therefore, I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) that gambling stems in the main from selfish desires and a kind of get-rich-quick mentality—not that people who gamble are bad by any means. Some of my best friends are heavy gamblers. On the other hand, a "bookie" built a row of houses and named them "Mugs' Cottages". To many, gambling is antisocial, and for the State to indulge in anti-social business is morally wrong.
The redistribution of wealth through the disbursement of large prizes by chance without reference to need or effort is contrary to a just society. To pander to the desire for personal gain without service is demoralising to society at any time, and particularly at this time of economic crisis, when appeals are made from almost all sides of the House to the nation for greater productivity and responsible citizenship.
If a national lottery is established, it will encourage further the already considerable incidence of gambling in our society. Have we not reached the point when a ceiling should be placed on it, to try and tone it down? Assuming that the House gives the Government its support tonight, I believe that gambling will be given the green light.
Despite all that may be said, and however well it is intended, the principle of a national lottery will be received by most people as an assurance that taxes will not be increased. Is there any responsible hon. Member who can give that assurance? We shall increase rather than diminish the generally accepted idea that we are over-taxed.
A lot of play has been made in the course of the debate about money for hospitals. Compared with my younger days it can be safely said that we are living in an affluent society. The 1968s are far different from the 1930s. In those days, we had only two places to go. Either we went to the chapel or to the "pub", and many of us had to go to the chapel because we had no money to go to the "pub"—
Mr. Speaker, I respect and respond to your Ruling, but I was trying to point out that we had no money for gambling in those days.
I believe that the people have a genuine sense of responsibility. If they are asked to do something to bring our medical services right up to date, I am sure that they will be prepared to do it. I believe that they would accept a proposition that, instead of setting up a national lottery the Chancellor held a kind of national levy whereby everyone contributed 5s. towards our health services, given the assurance that all contributions would go to the health services.
I am against this lottery, and I shall vote against the proposal. I believe that gambling in this country is out of control. I beg hon. Members on both sides of the House to reject the proposal contained in the Finance Bill.
My controversy with the hon. Member for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn) began on 23rd January last in a Parliamentary Question. My views were expressed shortly in that and, for the sake of brevity, I will quote it, without relating the argument in any detail. I said:
Will the Chancellor bear in mind the fact that there is a good deal of opinion in this House and elsewhere that gambling in Britain is already excessive and that for the State to add to the burden would be immoral and unacceptable to millions of men and women in this country? Will he study the Church Commission on Gambling to ascertain the facts of the situation?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd January 1968; Vol. 757, c. 190.]
The reply from the Chancellor was sarcastic and procrastinating in character. I shall not relate it.
The exchange took place two months before the Budget. The Chancellor did what I wanted him to do in his Budget. He increased substantially the taxes on gambling. The yield in 1967–68 was of the order of £70 million. Of that, £35 million came from the football pools and the remainder from the gaming duty and licences for one-armed bandits and similar machinery. Under Clause 4 of the Bill his yield is expected to be £100 million, and he has therefore marked up the revenue yield expected from gambling by about 43 per cent. In my judgment that is the correct policy.
But the taxable limit on gambling has not yet been reached in this country. Far from it. A calculation was made by the Chancellor in his Budget speech, which, for brevity, I will not quote in which he said that doubling the gaming duty from 2½ per cent. to 5 per cent. was the equivalent of raising Purchase Tax on gambling to 70 per cent. I cannot follow his mental processes in that, nor can anybody else. The aggregation of the turnover on gambling is between £1,200 million and £2,000 million per annum. Nobody knows the exact figure. Those are the figures given by the Churches Commission on Gambling. If one assumes that the correct figure is about the mean between the two limits which I have given, one can call it £1,600 million a year as the aggregation of all gambling. In my judgment it is ridiculous to suggest that the taxable limit for gambling, on a turnover of £1,600 million, is only £100 million. It is much more.
I am arguing what is the alternative to a State lottery, Mr. Speaker, and if I may be allowed to finish my paragraph, I will demonstrate that.
A State lottery will not raise the sums of money which have been attributed to it. The wildest estimates have been made by participants in the debate as to what the yield of a State lottery would be. The particular miscreant, the greatest culprit, in that exaggeration is the hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Gwilym Roberts). In a Parliamentary Question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 23rd January, he asked whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer realised that a State lottery would produce
a net profit to the Exchequer of £200 million a year.
It was not a word used in a slipshod fashion. It was in the Parliamentary Question on the Order Paper He spoke of
a net profit to the Exchequer of £200 million a year."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd January, 1968; Vol. 756, c. 189.]
It is generally said that out of £100 vested in a State lottery, £50 is allocated
to prizes, £20 is allocated to administrative expenses and £30 is allocated to the Revenue or to profit. That is the consensus of statistical evidence available from other minor countries.
I thank the hon. Member. Briefly, if we had 5s. tickets and sold 32 million weekly, it would bring in £8 million a week. If 50 per cent. of that were paid to the Exchequer, that would be £4 million a week or £200 million a year.
The hon. Member is statistically wrong and his Question on the Order Paper was wrong. I will demonstrate by mental arithmetic why he is wrong. I said that the revenue yield from a State lottery was about 30 per cent. In his Parliamentary Question the hon. Member said that the profit would be £200 million a year. If £200 million represents 30 per cent.—
On his own showing it does. In that event, the total sum invested is £700 million a year which, divided by 52, is almost £14 million a week. The argument is nonsense. We could never ever raise £14 million a week by a State lottery. The hon. Member has indulged in statistical hyperbole about a State lottery on many occasions. He is by profession a statistician but I would not employ him.
One might, given very great success with a State lottery, raise a sum approximately equal to the sum we now raise by football pools, £30 million to £40 million a year, but it would be at the expense, and to the detriment, of the football pools. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO."] I am against the principle of a State lottery and if hon. Gentlemen opposite say "No", then I ask them, including the hon. and learned Member for Stoke Newington and Hack- ney, North (Mr. Weitzman) who has been a consistent opponent of mine in this matter, to remember that they are arguing, perhaps inadvertently, that by having a State lottery one would get a great deal of additional gambling. Is that what they want? It is not what I want, because gambling in Britain is already utterly excessive.
I do not object to reasonable gambling by people who can afford it and who are prepared to forgo other things to punt. I do not smoke and I drink very sparingly. The money I save on cigarettes and drink I am perfectly prepared to use for gambling purposes, notably on by-elections. There is a moral in my telling this story. I put 100 guineas on the Oldham, West by-election and I am delighted to see my hon. and learned Friend who won that constituency waving to me—
I mention it en passant, Mr. Speaker. I got 7 to 4 on at Oldham, West and the odds were 2 to 1 on at the Dudley-Stourbridge by-election. I had 100 guineas on each. The proceeds of these wins at by-elections are virtually tax-free. The reason for excessive gambling in Britain today, which we all recognise—the hon. Member for Liverpool, Kirkdale (Mr. Dunn) complained about the way it is increasing—is because of the continuous increase in the level of taxation, which is equally excessive. It is also due to the fact that gains from gambling are almost tax free and certainly show a much greater yield to the punter than honest hard work. That is why gambling is excessive—
For all these very good and valid reasons I shall tonight repeat the performance which I gave in the company of my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Mr. Channon), when I was first teller and he was second on 2nd February when he divided the House against what was then the private Bill of the hon. Member for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn). I therefore advise my hon. Friends to trip into the Lobby in support of the Amendment and against Clause 50.
When the Ballot for Private Members' Bills takes place and we queue up, we are very much aware that, one by one, we tend to dither over the number of our choice. It is a moment of time when each of us, even the most rational, is suddenly impressed with the superstitions which belong to the irrational and fantasy world of gambling. Although we know the absurdity of the lottery in which we indulge, we guarantee, by participating in it, that we will rarely discuss the right matter at the right time and, particularly if we have not been drawn, by the right hon. Member—
I know, Mr. Speaker, and I think that it is necessary, to try to understand the consequences of what is behind the principle of a lottery, that we should begin to understand the consequences in ourselves and the consequences to the Government if we permit this sort of Clause to go through.
I was seeking to explain that at the time when we are indulging in our own little phantasy we are regressing to the most primitive mode of thought. We are entering into a gamblers' world, where the impossible, where everything that challenges causality, everything that is absurd, is greedily believed. It is a world where two and two never make four— they may make 100, or nothing.
As I have listened in past years to those who have come to me professionally in difficulty as a consequence of gambling —the embezzling clerk, the falsifying trade union official, or the fraudulent bank manager—I have heard them explaining how they thought their luck would change. I have always glimpsed a world of their absurd magic: pick up a pin, wear a charm, touch a dwarf, or see the moon through glass, see a magpie, three parrots or so many crows.
I do not mock at those who find real life so bewildering or so painful that they must escape to gambling. I do not mock at those who are disenchanted and disappointed with life, so that, perforce, they must dream of wealth and riches, vainly hoping that by a ballot or bet their impoverished life may perhaps at some time be magically transformed by some external gain of fortune. I do not mock at them. I do not bring to this problem some of the puritanical zeal which has informed some of the speeches we have heard, nor do I choose, as some hon. Members have, to quote theology, because I have not forgotten that one of the Apostles himself was chosen by lot. But by very different means. I come to the same conclusion, as I notice from past readings of debates, as even the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Sir C. Black); and I can assure my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary that a time when I find myself in agreement with the hon. Member for Wimbledon is so rare a phenomenon that he should take regard of the wide section of public opinion that is against the proposal.
In this House we seek to govern by rational argument and rational discussion —[Interruption.] We try. We do not necessarily succeed. We try to lead people from irrationality and prejudice and our task all the time in our legislation is to defy those who pessimistically believe that the perplexity and helplessness of the human race is such that it cannot be remedied, that we are the playthings of gods, of chance, or luck or fate.
The House should remember when it focuses its attention on a Clause such as this that there was a time when all Governments were dealt with by chance. I do not want to provoke Mr. Speaker, who is looking at me vigilantly, but we should remember when involving ourselves in this matter that there was a time in ancient Greece when people would flock to the oracles to seek guidance in public affairs, for no law was enforced without oracular approval—
Perhaps I might quote just a little— and I shall not trespass far—in aid, by saying that from the time of the Scythians, the Turks and the ancient Germans, as we know from Ezekiel and Nebuchadnezzar, we have again and again had Governments who have governed by all sorts of magic: by, for example, labels on which were written various alternatives and then attached to arrows. The archers let fly, the advice attached to the furthest arrow being accepted—
I am seeking to show that the Romans had government by bibliomancy. By many magic ways past Governments have been motivated in deciding legislation in other times. If there are those who think that this recall is irrelevant, it is well to remember when dealing with a Clause of this kind that there are millions of people in our electorate who regularly read their horoscopes in the popular Press and glossy magazines. We should understand with a sense of responsibility when we introduce a lottery of this kind what is the state of public opinion. If people are influenced by Fleet Street astrologers more than by any social legislation we pass, it is time for us to assert the voice of reason. The voice of reason, of the intellect, is very soft, has to be endlessly repeated, has many rebuffs, but, although it is a soft voice, fortunately the voice of reason is one which does not rest until it has obtained a hearing.
It is true that people cannot be bludgeoned into hearing it. As has been well said, it is true that we cannot end gambling legislation. We cannot force the community into rationality, but surely our role should be to contain it, to curtail it and certainly not to activate it as an act of State so that we spread and create more superstition and more irrationality. I do not regard this debate at all as one between those who are puritans and the permissive. As a humanist and a rationalist, I find the idea of a national lottery as no less repugnant than those nonconformists in my constituency who have written to me urging opposition to the proposal.
Some hon. Members are so fascinated by an opportunistic approach to government that each piece of legislation is considered by them an as isolate with no apparent awareness of the need for a Government to have a style and a philosophy. They are utterly indifferent, for example, to the possible effect of interposing pleas for greater productivity and less absenteeism and bringing in or suggesting a national lottery. One thing I observe, and I say this to the Financial Secretary, is that when we had a proposal from Harold Macmillan he brought it forward with consummate skill. He saw to it that our present national lottery was called Premium Savings Bonds. The moral value of saving is a dogma of the theologically-minded politician for which Britain is rightly renowned.
Harold Macmillan could claim that he conferred a twofold blessing on his country. By his inventive mind he gave us savings bonds which enabled the citizen to achieve affluence in the flesh as well as salvation in the spirit by one and the same coupon, and the beatific mirage of everlasting glory is greatly enhanced by the chance of winning £50 on the way.
But my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn), to whom we are primarily indebted for this debate, has, I am astonished to find, made no similar attempt. Nor has there been any similar suggested attempt to be drawn in Socialist terms by the Financial Secretary. He has not attempted to create any philosophy to justify his view. I am astonished to find that no similar attempt has been made to justify this extraordinary suggestion to the Parliamentary Labour Party. Arthur Henderson, one of our founding fathers, I have recently read, once told a T.U.C. conference:
Gambling is a greater foe to Labour than all the forces of capitalism.
Doubtless most would consider that an overstatement.
But when today's Labour Members stand their philosophy on its head, I am bound to query the spectacle. Socialism surely has something to do with the redistribution of wealth, with the community taking unearned income from the undeserving and deploying, according to determined priorities, the money for the benefit of the whole community. Is not that what Socialism is supposed to be about?
The national lottery is the very antithesis of this. It would collect money from all the community. It would hand over a substantial proportion of the proceeds—unearned, untaxed, undeserved— to a newly-created capitalist. Then it would use the balance under the guise of hypothecation for causes which succeeded in jumping the queue. I have sought in Private Members' Bills sometimes to introduce bold notions, but this is the biggest piece of effrontery that I have ever encountered since I have been in the House.
I do not want to talk about the economics of a national lottery. It is clear, as hon. Members have pointed out, that they are, to say the least, ambiguous. I want, however, to draw attention to one point my right hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) did not bring out in her wonderful speech. When I opposed the Betting and Gaming Bill, I said that I believed that it would lead particularly to a spread of betting among women. That is confirmed. Anyone who has spoken to bookmakers knows, as I know from the experience in South Wales, that women are going into betting shops in the morning in the middle of their shopping. Although they may not remain in betting shops with the men in the afternoon, in fact they are going there regularly in the mornings. Every bookmaker knows that there has been a great growth of betting among women.
It may be, as has been said by Simone de Beauvoir and others, that women believe more in luck than men. It certainly seems to be proven by statistical surveys and tests which have been pointed by Professor John Cohen of Manchester. Perhaps it is, as Simone de Beauvoir says, that when a woman wants something and goes into a shop for it she believes that she will get it by adopting a passive attitude. She is there. She sees what she wants. She thinks that she is going to get it; perhaps like when a woman is thinking of seducing somebody. She is there and she will get it. She takes it as given. A man, on the other hand, will want to do something more to determine his fate. Certainly, there is a different psychology.
What seems to be certain is that women believe in luck more than men. This is very dangerous at this time, because at least as long as there is some obstruction, like filling in a football coupon, or even the fact that one must make a bet, which comes between women and betting, there is a built-in check. With a national lottery, women can participate in betting upon a large scale merely by handing money over and without actively participating in any other way. We must accept that, if we adopt the idea of a national lottery, we are inviting women to participate in gambling on a very large scale indeed.
It is obvious from what the Financial Secretary has said that, if he has to put a tax of 33⅓ per cent. upon a national lottery, it can be worth while only provided that we extend the whole sphere of gambling. It is obvious from what my hon. Friend has said that this can be done only provided that we remove all the present inhibitions—all the present restrictions on advertising, and so on —that are, fortunately, in-bulk into our gaming laws.
This, in fact, is an attempt to institutionalise irrationality. It is an attempt to activate a primitive mode of thinking among the community. Those who have stood up and said that we have got to accept it are yielding to this irrationality, and being utterly defeatist. I believe that there is is a moral and ethical question here. The real question is whether we want to govern our affairs in a rational form, or whether we want to regress into the most primitive way of thinking.
I consider the substance and the timing of the proposal utterly inept. That it lacks gravitas, as the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) said, is self-evident. These are seasons where, if we as a people are to succeed, we have to adapt ourselves to a new role and have to be realistic. It is no good our pretending that we can retreat into illusion. We must retreat from fantasy worlds and fantasy thinking.
I am surprised at what the Chancellor has suggested. We have in my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer someone who, if he has done anything, has made a great attempt to make this country think more realistically. He has done more, in my view, than any member of the Government, perhaps, in making us understand our present rôle. I am surprised and somewhat disappointed that a person with his sense of realism should, even obliquely, suggest that the House should move towards a piece of legislation which is founded on fantasy, dream and irrationality.
Like the hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse), I add my modest tribute to the right hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison), who made what seemed to me to be the moral case most powerfully. I am bound to accept nine-tenths—I say that advisedly— of what she said. At the same time, I do not base my moral objection to the Clause on the ground that the moral case as the right hon. Lady put it is wholly self-evident or that the case which my hon. Friend the Member for Somerset, North (Mr. Dean) argued, that there was no morality in the question, was itself a proven proposition. The important point is that the moral issue is disputed. There are those who feel that this is a moral question, and there are those who do not. It is a disputed question.
My charge against the Government is precisely that they have come down on one side of the argument, quite improperly, by saying, in effect, that, whether it be moral or immoral, they are prepared to accept a national lottery. That is to take a moral decision on the issue, and that is what I find objectionable.
That seems rather like a married man saying that he is prepared to enter into relations with a woman of easy virtue if a lot of people tell him that it is all right to do so. It is no defence at all. The Government have made a deliberate moral choice, coming down on one side of the argument. That is inescapable, as one looks at the way they have handled the matter.
In my view, it is quite improper for the Government to do that, on moral grounds. The hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) underestimates the extent to which what is written into law nowadays acquires a sanctity and a hallowed quality which, perhaps, it did not have in days gone by, when there were more tenable and more closely observed laws in other spheres. Nowadays, what the Government write into legislation tends to be accepted by the great mass of people as the standard and the norm. This is why it is an improper decision for the Government to make in a disputed question of morals.
Would the hon. Gentleman suggest that the Government should not allow the House to take a moral decision on such matters as abortion or divorce legislation? Is it not normal in many moral matters to allow Members freedom of conscience to decide for themselves, the House making a collective decision, rather than the Government taking it upon themselves to seek to impose their own moral view on the House as a whole?
There is a distinction there. The proposals regarding divorce, for example, are in the form of a Private Member's Bill, and there is scope for specific Amendments or a series of changes in the Bill which the Government may make as a condition of giving it time. That is a different matter. It is wrong for the Government to adopt a position on this issue and say—
The Financial Secretary cannot get away with that. They are prepared to say that they will accept it if the House indicates a certain view. They are undervaluing and underestimating the significance of the effect it will have upon the population, who often take the moral lead they seek in life from the nature of the laws which we pass in the House. There are few other means available nowadays. What we write into law becomes hallowed and regarded as the appropriate norm for conduct. That is why the right hon. Member for Lanarkshire, North was right in the passionate vehemence with which she argued against this course.
Besides being undesirable on moral grounds, the proposal is irrational and would mean an inefficient use of resources.
I thought that in his speech tonight my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) created a wholly new situation with his reference to gravitas. He struck a note that is absolutely right, and I fall into line behind that.
I do not think that a national lottery would lead to a net increase in saving, which must be the economic justification for it. A switch from one kind of saving to another is quite unproductive. I underline the point of my hon. Friend the Member for the City of Chester (Mr. Temple) about a switch from pool betting, and, in addition, I wonder whether the Chancellor appreciates that the real victims of the switch from saving which I believe would come would be the voluntary collectors of the National Savings Movement.
Like all Chancellors, the right hon. Gentleman handed out the usual bouquet to the movement this year. I have been a Member for only a very short time, but I have not heard a single Chancellor who has not made the statement that the right hon. Gentleman made this year about the debt of gratitude he owes to the voluntary National Savings Movement. The voluntary collectors should not be underestimated. The voluntary seller of National Savings Certificates who persuades somebody to dip into his or her pocket for five or 10 bob is making a genuine contribution to saving that sum, which will not be spent on consumption. If such a saver is approached not by voluntary hawkers of National Savings Certificates, but by paid officials of the Government with a lottery ticket as the alternative it is almost certain that the five or 10 bob will be switched into the ticket. Not only on moral but on economic grounds, it is not a good thing to undermine the efforts of the National Savings Movement.
The argument about the worthiness of the cause is rather specious. The Government have been in a bit of a dichotomy about this rather delicate ground. They are not certain how much emphasis to put on the argument that there are so many deserving projects held up for the lack of the wherewithal that the Government cannot scrape together. If they are sensible projects that the country must have nobody says that the money is not available. As the Churches' Council on Gambling put it, are we prepared to have a national lottery on the defence budget?
Was the hon. Gentleman in the House when his right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) behind whom he has just fallen in, made this point, and said that tarpaulins had to be put over hospital buildings that were half ready when he was in office, and, therefore, he wanted money for a lottery?
It is always rash to give way to that sharp commentator the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson), but I repeat that I fall entirely into line behind my right hon. Friend.
The Government would not dare to argue that we should finance the defence budget, for example, by a national lottery. That is something that one cannot gamble on. We must have it. That means logically that they are prepared only to bring into the periphery of the lottery what are really secondary needs, important though they may be. It is conceded that the funds available from the national lottery should be hypothecated, but hypothecated only to matters of secondary importance. The show has really been given away, because when a crisis comes the money must be found for something really important, such as continuing free school milk or free spectacles, and the national lottery funds, which, by definition, are matters of secondary importance, will always be available for the Government.
I believe, therefore, both on moral grounds and on grounds of economic efficiency that we shall not create net new savings but shall undermine the National Savings Movement, particularly the small savers part of it, and so we should accept the Amendment.
Those who argue in favour of the Clause seem to have produced two very diverse and curious arguments. On the one hand, my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn) suggested that taxation can be reduced because there is such a golden bonanza in organised gambling that the State can cash in on it and so we can cut taxation by relying on this painless means of raising revenue. On the other hand, there are those who would have the money denied to the Treasury and specially allocated to some cause which they have usually dressed up as hospitals because this makes a special emotional appeal to people who would not otherwise be particularly impressed by this means of raising money. These diverse arguments do not fit together.
I find the schizophrenia of the Government more peculiar. They have only just put through the House a Bill, which has my full support, to bring under proper supervision and public control the very serious evil of gambling, which has grown up as a consequence of the ill-thought-out and disastrous legislation of the Conservative Party a few years ago. Now they are incorporating this Clause in the Finance Bill.
It is no use the Government saying that this is just a technique for a free vote. The Finance Bill is the most important Measure of any Government in any year, and to put in it a Clause which does not vaguely say that the Government may or may not have a lottery, but gives specific power to create one when the time is ripe, is an indication of Government thinking. No Chancellor will take up the time of the House with this kind of proposition unless it is one to which he has given serious thought and which he believes should be seriously considered by the House and the country at large.
I do not accept the argument that the Clause is just to test opinion. There are scores of other ways in which that can be done. It is most peculiar that the Government should bring in the legislation that we have just passed to bring gambling under control and almost at the same moment bring forward a proposition deliberately designed to encourage, spread and create gambling.
My position on gambling is clear: that organised gambling, the calculated exploitation for profit of the gambling instinct which is in all of us, is a social menace and ought to be brought under the strictest possible control.
The arguments against gambling were put with classic simplicity and cogency by the late Archbishop Temple. He put forward three reasons. First, it is based on a bad principle—reward without effort. In the year in which the Government are endeavouring to impress upon all our people the importance of productivity, the importance of using skill, whether of hand or of mind, to the best possible effect, it seems incredible that in the Finance Bill, the most important Bill of the year, there should appear this Clause suggesting that the technique and process of raising revenue by gambling somehow has something special to commend it.
The second reason is that gambling originates in a bad frame of mind— coveteousness, desire for gain as such. The third is that it has bad social consequences. This is incontrovertible. We know that the calculated spread of organised gambling produces serious social consequences, with which this House has spent a great deal of time trying to deal.
It has been argued that somehow the money will be produced for worthy causes. But it is not a question of raising money, but of employing resources. Money is merely an index of the amount of resources to be used. For anyone to suggest that development of these resources should be determined in a magical manner by the institution of gambling is, to me, fantastic. It has also been suggested that those who oppose gambling are hypocritical because they do not object to the taxation of existing forms of gambling. But checking existing forms of gambling by levying taxation on them is a different matter from deliberately setting out to create a whole new market and enhancing the amount of gambling that is already going on.
Those who argue that this proposal will merely transfer money from one form of gambling to another must bear in mind that, if a State lottery is created, then presumably the State is deliberately setting out to make people gamble. There is no point in it otherwise. One does not set up a vast apparatus of administration and organisation for this activity unless one wishes to raise considerable sums of money. This implies advertising, persuading people to gamble, presenting to the nation the idea that organised gambling is something which a civilised State should encourage and promote. That proposition is totally repugnant to me and to a great many others.
I accept the moral case put by my right hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison), but I believe that, in addition, there is a sound social and economic case for rejecting the Clause and supporting the Amendment.
The House is wearing its mantle as preserver of the nation's morals. Even though I have a forebear who enjoyed or suffered the nickname of "Old Morality", I do not intend to argue on the moral issue. I wish to examine this proposition from the practical point of view, and from that point of view I am not convinced—even less so after hearing the debate—that the advantages of a national lottery would outweigh the disadvantages.
If the lottery is to be financed by new money coming into gambling, surely it would be much better if the money were raised by the Government through a really attractive savings scheme, which would benefit everyone taking part and not just a few lucky prize winners. If, on the other hand, the money comes from funds already used for gambling, they are more than adequately taxed now. I believe that a lottery could have an adverse effect on resources at present used in support of sport of various kinds. That fear is echoed by a number of sports club chairmen.
I want to refer, first, to the pools. If a national lottery is to cut into funds at present going into the pools, a very important source of revenue to the Football League clubs will be harmed. At present, the Football League receives about £1 million per annum from the football pools by way of royalty for the use of the League's fixture list and this is paid as a percentage of turnover. Very few League clubs are in a healthy financial state and any diminution in the pools' turnover could clearly be serious for football.
The recent Chester Report on football has recommended that there should be established a pools levy board which on the turnover of the pools would levy another £1 million a year to be used for the benefit of football. If this recommendation is adopted, the potential for football could be reduced by a national lottery.
I want, secondly, to refer to the many small pools and sports clubs' competitions such as raffles and jackpots which are often the main, and sometimes the only, source of income for development funds and current expenditure for a vast number of small sports clubs. I have had several letters from sports club chairmen expressing their fears about a national lottery. They all reiterate the fear that something will have to give way for a national lottery and that it is more likely that their types of small gambling will have to give way first.
I should like to quote one letter from the chairman of a county cricket supporters' association who wrote of the proposal, perhaps a little harshly in view of what the Financial Secretary has said:
How like the present Government! They care little for those who merely want to work hard to earn what they need to keep sports and charities going. Instead, they increase the duties we pay, then propose to compete with us unfairly and, having driven us out of existence, to leave us to the caprices of the Minister for Sport. I place little reliance on this.
If the "Minister for Sport" had made more money available, his caprices might not be a bad bet, but there is nothing to say that a national lottery would benefit sport as a whole more than the losses which its establishment would incur.
Nothing that the Financial Secretary said earlier tonight draws me any nearer the conclusion which I should have liked to have reached—that, on balance, a national lottery would benefit sport or any of the other excellent causes mentioned throughout the debate, and, therefore, I am not prepared to give the Government carte blanche nor to support a national lottery tonight.
I begin with a word of comfort to my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench. Perhaps someone should send for the Financial Secretary and tell him that someone hopes to be able to say a kind word to him, because he has been present for most of the debate and has suffered slings and arrows which ought not to have been cast at him. His back has looked more like that of a porcupine than the back of a Financial Secretary. That is poor reward for someone who had to go in to bat on a sticky wicket and defend Government intentions which were clearly supportable, namely, to give the House the opportunity to make a decision on a free vote. There cannot be many hon. Members who would disagree with that intention. The opposition is concerned with the manner in which the issue has been chosen and with the choice of issue.
Many hon. Members have said that gambling is a moral issue. My position is quite clear—I am in favour of gambling and winning and opposed to gambling and losing. There is no doubt about the dangers of gambling and those hon. Members who have drawn attention to them should have given the rest of us credit for being aware of them.
There is a difficulty about that. The gamblers mention only their winnings. The hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) told us what he had won on by-elections, but he did not say how much he had lost on the by-elections at Gorton and Brightside.
I am grateful for that reminder. I asked him about Brightside, but not about Gorton. In between these two extremes, there are those who support gambling and see nothing wrong with it, and those who support it in principle, and see nothing right with it. Perhaps I should explain that I was brought up in a Primitive Methodist home. Gambling has been here for a long time, and is likely to be here for an equally long time. It is a fact of life.
We have to come to a decision in the House about gambling. The majority of the House would, I believe, have preferred that this should have been left to a decision on the Private Member's Bill, as introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn), and that it should have been the duty of the Government to intervene only to ensure the integrity and efficiency of the organisation that would be set up.
They would have given it underlying status, they would have said that it was an honest organisation, and have guaranteed it. I thought that the opinion of the House had been expressed on the Bill introduced by my hon. Friend. It was a little harsh of the Financial Secretary to say that the Government want to ensure that the House has a free vote. We have already had one. If I heard him rightly, he drew a distinction between a free vote on a Private Member's Bill and a free vote on Government business or an Opposition Motion. This is a very dangerous doctrine.
If there is to be a vote, and I doubt it, having listened to the speeches, this automatically means that the Government will be committed to producing a scheme if the Clause is accepted. My objection is that the House is being asked to support or oppose the principle. I agree that it is logical to decide the principle, and decide later whether one supports the scheme that comes forward. The House is entitled to be illogical. I would have preferred a scheme brought forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland, which I could have opposed, or a scheme brought forward by the Government. We would know the type of organisation, the place, the profits. This is not something detailed and concrete, to which we can give a "yea" or "nay". It is only when the House has that information that we would be entitled to say"yea" or "nay".
We listened carefully to the Financial Secretary. We can always rely on a Treasury Minister to give us good reasons why taxation should be increased. He explained that it was proposed to take 33⅓ per cent. from this fund in order to be fair to the football pools people, because we take that amount from them. This is equity, but not the kind of equity that I would support. It is one thing to take it as unearned income, out of profits; it is a different thing to take it from charitable organisations. This is what we would be doing. The Financial Secretary left a number of unanswered questions about the purpose, scope, organisation, headquarters of the lottery, its efficiency, controllers, its place in the national economy and accountability to the House.
Finally, I have 14,751 reasons for opposing this and 14,750 of those are people employed on Merseyside, at present working for Littlewoods. A total of 1,589 of them are my constituents and I make no apology for defending such employment on Merseyside, unless someone else will come along and give us alternative employment. I had a visit from a pools courier, not the one who brings £75,000, who brought with him a lot of useful information. We employ a lot of people. If we can provide alternative employment it might be different. I do not like the idea of the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) of farming this out. In principle, I dislike the idea. It is one thing to tax gambling; it is another to support and encourage it. For that reason alone, I hope that the House will oppose the Clause and support the Amendment.
I agree with everything that the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Ogden) said about our lack of information on the proposals on which we are required to vote. I listened to what the Financial Secretary said, but it must be a rare occasion for the House to be asked to vote on any matter on which it has been left so completely in the dark about the Government's proposals. We do not know how much they propose to sell the tickets for. We do not know how many prizes there will be or what their size will be. We do not know who will run the scheme. Most important, we do not know what will happen to the money if there is a profit from the scheme.
Having heard the Financial Secretary, it seems to me that three things are clear. First, in spite of all the protestations about neutrality, the Treasury wants this lottery. Secondly, the Treasury intends to take the lion's share of any money that the lottery may produce. Thirdly, if charities are fortunate in getting anything, it will be merely a derisory amount. I would advise hon. Members to ignore any belief that charities in which they are interested will benefit from these proposals, because, to put it no more strongly, what the Financial Secretary has said is indefinite and nebulous in the extreme.
Reference has been made to the effects of a national lottery, if introduced, on the volume of savings. However, I do not think that anyone has referred to the significant speech of the President of the National Savings Movement only a week or two ago on the occasion of the annual congress of the movement. This is what Sir Miles Thomas said:
My own personal view is that a thoroughgoing national lottery would be unethical in itself, morally bad for the country and economically bad for our standing abroad. Surely there are opportunities enough for those who want to gamble without the State promoting and sanctifying it as a new form of social service. Surely the Government can get the revenue from gambling by taxation without giving it the dignity of the new aura of Government finance.
Following that speech, and having heard the defence of a national lottery by the Financial Secretary, by an overwhelming majority the very large attendance at the congress passed the following resolution:
That this Committee expresses its strong disapproval of the suggestion of a national lottery and supports the personal views of the Chairman, Sir Miles Thomas, in the matter.
With the emphasis and importance that I believe the Government place on savings, I cannot understand that the Government should be proceeding at this time above all others with this proposal when they have a clear indication from the National Savings Movement of the effect, in the judgment of that movement, upon national savings as a whole.
I hope that the House will repudiate this undesirable, unethical and untimely proposal.
Much of what I wanted to say has already been said, but this is an important decision we have to make: whether or not we want a national lottery. I do not agree with the Financial Secretary that it will not have this effect. If we agree to it, I believe that the Government will go ahead, and very rapidly. If we vote for this Clause, it will go a long way along the road towards having a national lottery.
I hope that everybody will think carefully about it, as the consequences could be very serious indeed. Some people may say that it does not matter, but I believe these sort of things do matter and that the Government should give some leadership in these matters. I much regret that they are, in a sense, encouraging a national lottery, as I do not want to see any extension in gambling at present, however attractive it may be.
Tonight, we have had the attractive propositions of health, hospitals and re- search, but this is not the way to get them; the way is through savings, a better economic situation and further taxation on gambling. There is a large source still to be tapped and that is the way to provide the money so necessary for research, hospitals, and so on.
It seems dreadful that this country should stoop to this method of providing funds 'or these worthy causes, so I hope that we shall support the Amendment.
|Division No. 257.]||AYES||[11.19 p.m|
|Abse, Leo||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Nabarro, Sir Gerald|
|Allen, Scholefield||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Newens, Stan|
|Armstrong Ernest||Hannan, William||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Ogden, Eric|
|Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Orme, Stanley|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere||Osbom, John (Hallam)|
|Baxter, William||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Oswald, Thomas|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Haseldine, Norman||Palmer, Arthur|
|Bell, Ronald||Hay, John||Pardoe, John|
|Bishop, E. S.||Hazell, Bert||Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Peel, John|
|Blaker, Peter||Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Percival, Ian|
|Body, Richard||Hiley, Joseph||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Booth, Albert||Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin||Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.|
|Braine, Bernard||Hooley, Frank||Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)|
|Bromley-Davenport,Lt.-Col.SirWalter||Hooson, Emlyn||pym, Francis|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James|
|Buchan, Norman||Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)||Randall, Harry|
|Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Rhy8, Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Buchanan-Smith,Alick(Angus,N&M)||Hunter, Adam||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Hynd, John||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak)||Roberts,Rt.Hn.Goronwy(Caernarvon)|
|Campbell, B. (Olclham, w.)||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Roebuck, Roy|
|Carlisle, Mark||Judd, Frank||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.|
|Clegg, Walter||Kenyon, Clifford||Sharpies, Richard|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Cunningham, Sir Knox||Kerr, Russell (Fentham)||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Currie, C. B. H.||Kershaw, Anthony||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)|
|Dalyell, Tarn||Kimball, Marcus||Smith, John (London & W'minster)|
|Dance, James||Kitson, Timothy||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Davidson,James(Aberdeemhire,W.)||Lane, David||Stodart, Anthony|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart)|
|Dempsey, James||Luard, Evan||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Dewar, Donald||Lubbock, Eric||Temple, John M.|
|Dickens, James||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Thomas, Rt. Hn. George|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Tilney, John|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||MacArthur, Ian||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Driberg, Tom||Macretman, Robert||Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)|
|Dunn, James A.||Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|Elliott,R.W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.)||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Wallace, George|
|Eyre, Reginald||Manuel, Archie||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Femyhough, E.||Marten, Neil||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)|
|Foot, Rt. Hn. Sir Dingle (Ipswich)||Mawby, Ray||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Galbraith; Hn. T. G.||Mendelson, J. J.||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Gilpern, Sir Myer||Miscampbell, Norman||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Gilmour, Sir.John (Fife, E.)||Monro, Hector||Worsley, Marcus|
|Glover, Sir Douglas||More, Jasper||Yates, Victor|
|Goodhew, Victor||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Younger, Hn. George|
|Gower, Raymond||Morgan, Geralnt (Denbigh)|
|Gregory, Arnold||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Grey, Charles (Durham)||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Mr. Michael Alison and|
|Gurden, Harold||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Mr. Peter Mills.|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Murton, Oscar|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Biffen, John||Channon, H. P. G.|
|Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice||Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony|
|Bamett, Joel||Bradley, Tom||Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Beaney, Alan||Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Crouch, David|
|Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.)||Iremonger, T. L.||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Diamond, Rt. Hn. John||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Reynolds, Rt. Hn. C. W.|
|Doig, Peter||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Richard, Ivor|
|Doughty, Charles||Kirk, Peter||Rodgers, William (Stockton)|
|Dunnett, Jack||Lawson, George||Rose, Paul|
|English, Michael||Lee, John (Reading)||Sheldon, Robert|
|Ennals, David||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Ensor, David||Loughlin, Charles||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John|
|Fisher, Nigel||Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.)||Taverne, Dick|
|Fletcher, Raymond (likeston)||Marquand, David||Tinn, James|
|Fraser, John (Norwood)||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Varley, Eric G.|
|Ginsburg, David||Murray, Albert||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Gourlay, Harry||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Watkins, David (Consett)|
|Hamling, William||Norwood, Christopher||Weitzman, David|
|Harper, Joseph||O'Malley, Brian||Whitaker, Ben|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Oram, Albert E.||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Hordern, Peter||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Horner, John||Park, Trevor|
|Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Parker, John (Dagenham)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Howie, W.||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||Mr. R. Grabam Page and|
|Huckfield, Leslie||Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)||Mr. Gwilym Roberts.|
|Hunt, John||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter|