Sunday observance

Petitions – in the House of Commons at 12:27 pm on 17th February 1989.

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Many spectator events are now organized on a Sunday, and this creates a potential difficulty under the Sunday observance laws.

The Sunday Observance Act 1780 provides that it is an offence where 'any house, room or other place … shall be opened or used for public entertainment, or for publicly debating on any subject whatsoever, upon any part of the Lord's Day, called Sunday, and to which persons shall be admitted by the payment of money, or by tickets sold for money.…'

This offence is not confined to entertainments in buildings, a point discussed in Culley v. Harrison (1956). 20In this case, a motor-cycle scramble had been held in a fenced-off area within a large park, to which members of the public who purchased a ticket were admitted. The organizers were charged with an offence under the Sunday Observance Act 1780 for using, on a Sunday, a place for public entertainment to which people were admitted on payment of money. They contended that 'other place' should be construed in relation to the preceding words 'any house, room,' and that a park was not a 'place' within the meaning of the section. The court decided that 'other place' in the Act was not restricted by the words 'house' and 'room' preceding it, and that the part of the park used for the motor-cycle scramble came within the Act, and an offence had been committed."

I disagree with the hon. Member for Crawley who said that betting was not the crux of the Bill. Some hon. Members have talked about France. Hon. Members should realise that betting shops in Britain are different from those in other countries. It cannot be said that the off-course betting industry in France operates in the same way. The Pari-Mutuel system in Paris is a tote-like operation and works through cafes and some registered establishments throughout France. I have checked with the organisation in charge of that and it confirmed that it has 650 Pari-Mutuel outlets throughout France. Those offices operate on some Sundays, but only for a limited period on Sunday mornings. However, I am informed by the organisation that it has just been granted the right to operate 77 such units in the afternoon. That is a vital and significant point.

The Bill would allow people to enter betting shops and place bets during the times of races. That is not the case in France, although some hon. Members have wrongly said that the French system operates in that way. Apart from placing bets in the 77 outlets in France that I have mentioned, people are confined to betting in a registered cafe or similar establishment on a race to take place some time later in the day. What is the reason behind the Bill's purpose to open betting shops? It is that it is a betting Bill and will cater for the betting industry's needs and wishes. That, rather than a wish to allow people to place bets, is the purpose of the Bill.

Photo of Nicholas Soames Nicholas Soames , Crawley

I know that the hon. Gentleman is speaking from an entirely partial point of view and is representing a specific interest, but will he accept that this is not a betting Bill? It is about allowing racing to take place on Sundays and to legalise other sports which at the moment are being carried on entirely illegally on Sundays.

Coincidentally, because of the dangers of the abuse of gambling, which the Government take very seriously, they rightly do not believe that it is possible to have racing without off-course betting shops being open on 12 Sundays in the year. That is purely coincidental. The main aim is to allow millions of our constituents and fellow citizens to go racing if they would like to do so. Betting is a sideshow.

Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield

I disagree. the hon. Member for Crawley has referred to the French system. Even if we replicate that with the proposals in the Bill, people would still be allowed to place bets in betting shops on Sundays. That worries the majority of Opposition Members. I accept that there is no difference between hon. Members on both sides of the House about the issue of people participating in other sports on Sundays.

The hon. Member for Crawley should bear in mind the technological advances. A report in Horse and Hound on 9 February—I am sure that the hon. Member for Crawley reads that magazine regularly, although I do not—stated that the Pari-Mutuel is investing heavily in a Minitel system to allow people to place bets from home without going to betting establishments.

This is a betting Bill. It is intended to open betting shops. The hon. Member for Crawley is aware that over the past 18 months many discussions have taken place between the Jockey Club, the racing and bloodstock group and others about the possibility of racing on Sundays. The stumbling block has always been the opening of off-course betting shops in the high streets on Sundays.

Opposition Members are concerned about the Bill and we are worried about what is happening in the bookmaking industry. We must consider the new technological advances and satellite information services. We should also be concerned about the purchases being made by bookmaking organisations in this country and abroad.

The Sporting Life recently referred to the big four betting chains in Britain making inroads into the Irish market and purchasing betting shops in Southern Ireland. It referred to purchasers in Dublin and stated that 250 shops have been purchased in the capital by Corals, Mecca, William Hill and Ladbrokes.

The Financial Times recently stated that Ladbrokes has been heavily engaged in purchasing betting facilities in the United States and now has the contract for betting shops in California and Ohio. Major betting chains can now operate—

Photo of Mrs Edwina Currie Mrs Edwina Currie , South Derbyshire

The hon. Gentleman is wittering on about betting shops and the control of the betting industry. I am not sure what he is recommending. Does he think that it should be nationalised? What would he say to his ordinary, local, working-class constituents who are generally denied the credit accounts available to many of my constituents who can bet 24 hours a day, seven days a week? What would he say to them? Does he believe that they should not be allowed to visit betting shops?

Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield

I will surprise some hon. Members on your side of the Chamber—

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster Central

Order. Not on my side of the Chamber. It is not mine.

Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield

I apologise, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

The argument for a nationalised betting system was lost a considerable time ago. However, the industry and the Government should encourage great participation in the tote enterprise. I say to the the hon. Member for Derbyshire, South (Mrs. Currie), that I do not seek to deny to any of my constituents the facility to place bets. I am drawing international comparisons because one must take into consideration new technologies such as SIS and domestic satellite television reception.

Photo of Nicholas Soames Nicholas Soames , Crawley

The hon. Gentleman's remarks are self-evident nonsense. If betting shops—against which, obviously, he has a great vendetta—and betting organisations were to permit his union to recruit members, would he withdraw his opposition to the Bill? Yes or no?

Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield

The hon. Gentleman makes a very interesting proposal, but I am unaware that he has the power to offer such a deal. However, the hon. Gentleman refers to the Transport and General Workers Union as though it is the union I represent, whereas I have been asked to speak on this matter by the Transport and General Workers Union only because of my general interest in racing. If the hon. Gentleman has time today or next week to examine the Members' register of interests in the Library, he will find that I am sponsored not by the TGWU but by a different union. My concern is a general one, for all who work in the industry, and it is not confined to the interests of the TGWU.

Photo of Nicholas Soames Nicholas Soames , Crawley

If I confused the hon. Gentleman, I apologise. Nevertheless, he is speaking to a Transport and General Workers Union brief. If betting shops were prepared to allow TGWU membership, would that union withdraw its opposition to the Bill? Yes or no?

Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield

As an independent observer, I can only say that any trade union would have to consider seriously a proposal such as that which the hon. Gentleman makes, mainly because of the wages and conditions that obtain in the betting industry. I have always found trade unions to be extremely amiable. Of course, they always try to make the best arguments for the people they represent, but they are always open to negotiation and discussion, for that is their function. I suspect that unions would be interested in the hon. Gentleman's proposition, but it is not enough to offer such a deal. A trade union would have to say to the industry—mainly Ladbrokes, "It is all right giving us the option to recruit members, but what about the pay and conditions of your employees?" Such a deal would need to have a dual purpose.

With new technology, the betting industry can beam into its betting shops live coverage of racing from different countries of the world, and some of those services are in the charge of major betting organisations. If the Bill is passed, bookmakers will have an opportunity to approach the Government at some time in the future and say,"We need to extend or amend the law slightly, so that the public can go to betting shops more often, or on a greater number of Sundays".

Photo of Mr Patrick Duffy Mr Patrick Duffy , Sheffield, Attercliffe

And in the evening as well, to cover evening race meetings.

Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Attercliffe for reminding me that in the last few days, the betting industry has told the Home Secretary that opening on six days of the week is not enough, and that it also . wants Sunday opening. It does not want just Sunday opening—it is also seeking to extend the licensed hours for the opening of betting shops into the evening. I am sorry if the hon. Member for Crawley disagrees, but this has been published in the national press.

One has to recall the proposals from the European Community about summer time. It looks as though, because of our failure in the negotiations on summer time, we shall have longer hours of light in the evening from 1993. That will give more opportunity for evening racing. When that happens, betting shops will be open not only seven days a week but seven nights a week.

Photo of Nicholas Soames Nicholas Soames , Crawley

I am not sure how the hon. Gentleman arrives at seven days and seven nights. Would he define his objections to evening racing? Does he envisage there being racing in the dark?

Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield

No, I do not envisage racing in the dark. I am reminding the House that, because of the failure in negotiations with the European Parliament on summer time—something about which those who support the Tories are worried—there will be the opportunity for a major extension of evening racing. I am not against evening racing. It would be beneficial to the industry if racing were extended into the evening rather than into Sunday, because of the dangers inherent in the later proposal.

We also oppose the Bill because of the state of the industry. We have already heard that everybody in racing, from the bookmakers to the starting stall attendants, from the owners to the trainers, is well aware that the racing industry is in a mess.

Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman does not read the daily papers. In recent months, there have been turmoil and arguments in the industry over the levy contribution, between all sections of the bookmaking community, the Jockey Club, the levy board and many others.

Photo of Mr Richard Holt Mr Richard Holt , Langbaurgh

The hon. Gentleman is talking out of the back of his head, and he does not know the first thing about the levy board negotiations, to which I have been a party. There is a dispute between the two sides, but there always is a dispute. This is the 28th set of negotiations on this matter, and it will be resolved in the way that it always has been before. There is no turmoil in the industry and it is arrant nonsense to suggest that there is.

Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield

I am pleased to hear it because that is what I understood from the short discussions that I have had with the hon. Gentleman in recent weeks. He has made it plain that there is anger in the bookmaking community about the size of the increase in the levy that has been demanded. There is no doubt about that. I understand the hon. Gentleman's concerns. He is a consultant for one of the bookmaking organisations. The on-course book-makers have been rightly concerned about the increase in percentage terms of the amount of levy demanded.

There is also concern about the facilities on racecourses from representative bodies such as the TGWU. Through a private Member's Bill, I have spoken about the problems on British racecourses, and in that debate I repeated a statement made by senior people in the industry that it is a miracle that there have not been any major accidents on our racecourses, as there have been in other sporting venues. Other parts of the industry are continually arguing and bickering among themselves. Those who are involved in breeding are very worried about the inability of management to get across the message that they are losing business to other EEC countries. That is not a new problem. A few years ago, the Royal Commission on gambling, chaired by Lord Rothschild, reported on the need for a restructuring of the industry. The levy board has called for a financial inquiry into the state of the industry. That was reported in Update on 15 February 1989. The Horseracing Advisory Council has said exactly the same. It would be nonsense to pretend that concern is not felt throughout the industry.

The industry must be reshaped before a measure such as this reaches the statute book. If hon. Members doubt that assertion, they should read the debates on racing. They would then realise that the majority of people in the industry have called for its reshaping. My British Racing Commission Bill seeks to reshape the industry. I did not just sit down and draft the Bill because I thought that that was the new shape that the industry ought to adopt. It was drafted after many consultations with every organisation in the racing industry. Their views have been taken into account. I hope that my Bill will reach the statute book.

A Bill such as this ought not to proceed while the management structure remains as it is. The industry as it is now managed, particularly by the Jockey Club, is incapable of accepting change. The Royal Commission on gambling, which reported in 1975, referred to the urgent need to restructure the industry, and particularly the Jockey Club. It referred to the need for a senior management board to cover all aspects of the industry, including betting, racegoers, punters and the media who provide daily reports about racing. The Commission said: It is a curious but perhaps appropriate feature of the Jockey Club that its secretariat should be bred rather than recruited. That says it all about the industry. It is in a heck of a mess. It would be absolute madness to allow Sunday racing.

Many eminent people in the industry believe that a major restructuring is needed before there is any extension of racing. Major parts of the industry are finding it difficult to cope.

Photo of Mr Richard Holt Mr Richard Holt , Langbaurgh

Name one person. If large numbers of people in the industry claim that it is turmoil and needs restructuring, I am suggesting that the hon. Gentleman names one of them.

Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield

I could list person after person who has thought about the need for restructuring the industry. I could give many examples.

Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield

I could quote many individuals. The hon. Gentleman who continues to shout, "Name one" is typical of the attitude problem of people who manage the racing industry at present. Part of the rot is that many people in the industry fear the people who run it. Stable staff, jockeys, apprentice jockeys and people who work in betting shops—even people holding senior posts in the racing and betting industry—continually complain about various aspects of that industry.

I remind the hon. Gentleman about our conversations in the Corridors of the House and elsewhere. I remind him about my conversations with the organisations for whom he is a consultant.

Photo of Mr Richard Holt Mr Richard Holt , Langbaurgh

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for reminding me about our conversations in the Corridors. I recall his telling me that he became interested in and knowledgeable about the betting industry as a result of one local bookmaker in his constituency. Perhaps if he had spent a lifetime in the industry, as I have, he would know a bit more about it.

Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield

I am pleased that the hon. Gentleman recalls that, but I recall that particular conversation quite vividly and that was only one aspect of it. I shall remind the hon. Gentleman about the reason why I became involved in the industry. When I came to Parliament, I was asked by people in the east midlands to take up the cause of people employed in the racing industry. Occasionally people had raised some matters, but no one had been involved on a regular basis. Like other people, I thought that I would do something, but not become fully involved. However, after examining the feudal circumstances within the industry, and seeing how people were treated in that feudal environment, I agreed to take up their cause. I ask the hon. Gentleman to recall conversations in the House with senior persons in the industry about the anger within the industry. If the hon. Gentleman wishes I shall repeat those conversations across the Chamber. But I would rather not go into that and shall allow them to remain confidential.

It is symptomatic of what is wrong with the industry that every section is afraid of the section above. It is no good hon. Gentlemen shaking their heads and saying that it is not true. Racing journalists have come to me and said, "We cannot raise that matter because if we do we shall not get any information elsewhere." I have met people involved in training who say, "If you say publicly that I gave you this information, I shall probably lose my licence". Whether or not that is true, they are worried about losing their licences and that is why the industry needs reshaping.

The hon. Member for Crawley and my hon. Friend the Member for Attercliffe spoke about misbehaviour in the industry. Hon. Members will be surprised that I commend the Jockey Club on its approach to that problem. On 21 November 1988 it sent me details of the action it was taking to control crowd behaviour. That shows that it is taking seriously the problems that might occur on British racecourses if there were an extension of operations. Such problems have occurred for a considerable time at evening meetings and some weekend meetings. I pay tribute to the work it has done and to the proposals it has produced, which go a long way towards solving the problem.

However, I must ask whether the House should accept that the Jockey Club is capable of carrying out the recommendations. It has done nothing fundamental yet and the problem still recurs occasionally. I have talked to the Jockey Club about various aspects of its work and I pay tribute to its work on security and fraud, which it has developed in recent years after the recruitment of a senior steward from Australia. It has tried to implement security systems to solve the problem of crowd control. However, I do not think that it has yet reached the stage at which we should allow racing to be extended. New management techniques and structures should be introduced.

The Horseracing Advisory Council was set up as a sop to the industry. It was decided that the industry should be restructured, but the Government did not agree to set up the type of body required for an industry that accumulates billions of pounds every year and which involves thousands of people. The key word in the title of that organisation is "advisory". The Government formed the council, but gave it no teeth. However, it is representative of all organisations within the industry and I value its judgment. It supports Sunday racing and I am not surprised about that because many senior people within the industry support Sunday racing and are campaigning for it.

Section 5 of the report published by the Horseracing Advisory Council says: HAC supports the view that the campaign for Sunday racing should be divorced from any Sunday trading legislation with concentration on parliamentary lobbying, rather than on a public campaign, and on betting legislation reform. It goes on: We are, however, concerned that what is potentially the most effective way of covering I he additional cost created by Sunday racing, namely the addition of licensed betting offices being open off-course, could prove the one serious stumbling block to the overall objective of Sunday racing in this country. It also says: We therefore feel that, if the opening of betting shops in the High Street should prove the major impediment to the realisation of Sunday racing, any alternative paths towards Sunday racing with the provision of legal betting facilities must be kept in mind and then explored as to their feasibility. The council is saying that it would prefer to have betting shops—that is what the Government are insisting on—but it is irrelevant to the racing industry. The industry simply wants Sunday racing and that is the point that the hon. Member for Crawley was trying to make. It is about people who want to watch racing.

The Transport and General Workers Union and the SLA are in that organisation but they represent a minority of the feelings within the industry. The industry is saying that it is not really concerned about whether betting shops are open as long as there is Sunday racing.

The report also says: Those Member Associations involved have emphasised the disproportionately high costs compared to the extra physical hours worked, the need to employ supplementary staff who are skilled in the handling of thoroughbred horses and the socially disruptive consequences to the lives of the staff concerned. In the light of these effects HAC believes consideration should be given to the introduction of a 'dark' day in lieu of Sunday, especially if the experimental fixtures lead to a more widespread demand for Sunday meetings.

The key word is "experimental". We are talking only about 12 days, but it will probably mean three meetings on each of those days. That could mean between three and 36 communities being disrupted by racing throughout the year. An amendment could easily further extend the number of days. In its report on Sunday racing, the Horseracing Advisory Council said that it was art experiment. Paragraph 4 of the report states: We recognise that, if the experiment was a success, Sunday racing would become a feature for most of the year. Also the fact that betting shops would be open 52 Sundays a year from the outset would put pressure on the racing industry to produce Sunday fixtures to meet off-course betting market demand. The advisory council says that the industry is not ready because it cannot meet the criteria in the Bill.

The chairman of the all-party group referred to polling. Before I was a Member of Parliament, I worked in this place as an assistant. Before that, I worked in an organisation in which I occasionally had to deal with polling. I attended a meeting at which senior people in the Labour party expressed concern about the fact that we were nine points behind in the polling between elections. For some idiotic reason, the senior Labour party officials at the meeting decided to invest in polling. Eight weeks after we invested in polling, we were three points ahead.

As he read out one set of polling documents, the chairman of the all-party group recalled that the polling questionnaires were in racecourse cards at race courses. There was a captive audience, but there was only a 75 per cent. response.

Photo of Eric Martlew Eric Martlew , Carlisle

Does my hon. Friend believe that if questionnaires had been put in church hymn books and people were asked whether they wanted Sunday racing, opposite results would have been obtained?

Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield

That is a good point, and I hope to expand on it.

I have one of the advertisements that were placed in the national racing press. People leaving racecourses were asked if they wanted another day out at the races. The same applies to Sunday trading. The MORI polling organisation hired people in Northampton and sent them to my constituency to stand outside DIY centres on a Sunday morning and ask people whether they believed in Sunday opening. Of course they did. They were in the DIY shops, buying stuff on a Sunday. They would not say that they did not believe in it. It is important to consider how polls are conducted. My hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Mr. Martlew) is right. If we put the same questionnaire in every hymn book in every church in the United Kingdom, we would have a different view. I am interested in the polling of betting office staff who work in the most deplorable conditions in the industry.

Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield

If he thinks that, the hon. Gentleman is talking out of the back of his head. The hon. Gentleman would not work in any betting shop for those wages and in those conditions.

Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield

If the hon. Gentleman did, he soon got out and became a Member of Parliament on £20,000 odd a year.

Photo of Mr Richard Holt Mr Richard Holt , Langbaurgh

I do not have to work so hard here.

Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield

He probably does not. That is all the more reason for those people to get more pay and better conditions.

My interest in polling is that it shows that 95 per cent. of betting office staff do not want the Bill. A majority of TGWU members on the stable side do not want Sunday racing. Those who do—they are in the minority, although it is a large minority—tend to be young people. They still believe that they will become top-class jockeys and come to the fore of their industry. Statistics show that to be nonsense because one new entrant in 4,000 reaches the professional rank of jockey. The SLA and TGWU, which represent both stable staff and betting office staff, are against the Bill.

Let us take an independent polling organisation. On 4 February The Racing Post reported on a survey carried out by an independent organisation, the London-based Survey Research Associates. Interviews were carried out at 52 sampling points throughout Britain on 13 and 14 January. The survey shows that 51 per cent. are in favour of Sunday racing and that 45 per cent. said that betting shops should not be open. Obviously, the people who paid for the survey wanted Sunday racing. They did not expect that 45 per cent. would not want betting shops to open.

The TGWU, which is the major trade union in the industry, whether or not Tory Members like it, has made a good statement. It is good because it does not fit the image put out by the national media, the press and people in senior positions in racing, that racing is stuck in the 1800s. It states: The TGWU is a very broadly based Trade Union having membership in virtually every industry in the country. Because of which it already has many members who are obliged to work on Sunday. For example; it is the overwhelmingly predominant Union in the Bus industry, and in many areas of manufacturing there are continuous processes which require a measure of Sunday working. In consequence there is no policy of total opposition to Sunday working within the TGWU in general, although in all sectors of the Union, the importance of Sunday as a leisure day with the requirement to minimise Sunday working is clearly recognised.In so far as the Racing Industry is concerned, Stable staff already have Sunday working as part of their contract of employment because it is necessary to provide care for the horses. Within the national agreement, there is provision for the payment of overtime, in recognition of this fact.Sunday working is kept to a minimum in order that maximum numbers of Stable staff can have a day with their families. If Sunday Racing was introduced this would change the Sunday from a minimum day of working to a full day of working and racing would be on a seven day week basis. There is a great concern for the well being and leisure time of the stable staff in this situation.As far as betting shops are concerned they are currently covered by Law which restrict their opening time to Monday to Saturday and the only real leisure day which the staff are able to spend with their family is the Sunday. Because of the very full Saturday and Bank holiday Racing programme Rest days can only be taken between Monday and Thursday, when their families are possibly at work or school etc. If the shops were allowed to open on a Sunday then in all probability they would be offered an alternative rest day also in the earliest part of the week which would seriously weaken their domestic situation still further.For this reason the TGWU has adopted a policy that it must oppose the introduction of Sunday Racing unless and until satisfactory terms and conditions to protect our members' interest are agreed with the various bodies. Because of the provisions of the national agreement for stable staff we are in a fairly strong negotiating position and are moving towards the framework of an agreement. However, in the past, efforts to secure negotiating rights with Mecca, Ladbrokes and William Hill have not been successful, therefore, the policy of the TGWU has been that we would reluctantly accept Sunday racing with on course betting but would oppose the opening of betting shops.Although some progress has now been made with Coral Racing … on the Sunday racing provisions we have not as yet reached a satisfactory conclusion. Unless or until we do reach an understanding it would be difficult to move our policy". That is very important. That is a shift from the image that some Conservative Members present of the union's approach towards the racing industry. I stand four square with my right hon. Friend the Member for Small Heath, who says that we should move towards the position where we can expand and, perhaps, give people the opportunity to enjoy racing on a Sunday. It is nonsense, however, to inflict it at present when we have the inadequate position in the racing industry, where the betting industry itself cannot and will not agree on proper terms, conditions and times of working for the people whom this measure would most affect.

Photo of Ms Audrey Wise Ms Audrey Wise , Preston

Workers in other trade unions may be affected, although more indirectly. I draw my hon. Friend's attention to a statement of a member of the planning inspectorate who said in relation to a planning appeal: It is now generally accepted that betting offices are an integral part of shopping activities. That means, of course, that other shopworkers are deeply concerned about the issue. It might mean that, if betting shops opened, it would be said, "Oh how dreadful it is, you can place a bet, but you cannot buy butter in the high streets." Many workers are therefore at risk.

Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield

I thank my hon. Friend for those remarks. She is quite right. If one wishes to examine the attitude of senior betting organisations towards people employed in the industry and represented by the unions, all one needs to do is to read a letter sent to Brian Cox, the national official of the Transport and General Workers Union, by a Mr. Burroughs, who is group director of personnel at Ladbroke Group plc. It says: Dear Mr. Cox,We refer to your two letters dated 9th and 14th November 1987 addressed to Sir Cyril Stein, and would point out that, as yet, he has not had a knighthood conferred upon him."— He wrote the letter to Sir Cyril Stein. It continues: You have stated nothing which is materially different to that mentioned in earlier correspondence, and our reason for rejecting your proposal for a meeting in the past remains the same as of now. That was a great opportunity lost to the betting industry to meet the representatives of those working in' the industry to establish some common sense in the conditions of the people employed in that industry.

The hon. Member for Crawley said that he did not believe that such a Bill could proceed if proper arrangements were not made for the stabling industry. I appreciate his concern to try to extract guarantees for the people who work in the industry. It would be nonsense if the House approved the Bill to allow Sunday racing before the terms and conditions of the workers had been agreed. I have been informed in the past few hours that negotiations on those terms and conditions have failed to reach any agreement.

I share the concern of the hon. Member for Crawley and I draw his attention to a letter sent to me on 16 November 1987 by the Jockey Club. In paragraph 3 on page 2 it states: However, at our Sunday Racing Industry Conference at Sandown Park"— my hon. Friend the Member for Attercliffe referred to this earlier—

General Blacker, Chairman of the Jockey Club Sunday Racing Campaign made clear that before Sunday racing can be successfully introduced financial and working arrangements must be negotiated for all who work within the industry. Agreement has not been reached and little leeway has been shown about such proposals.

Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield

Again, I note that the hon. Member for Langbaurgh (Mr. Holt) is shaking his head, but I have in my hand the statement on Sunday racing sent to the National Trainers Federation, the Horseracing Advisory Council and the Jockey Club. The unions are not asking for enormous amounts of money, but £20 a day for travelling fees and such things. Such demands do not even meet the criteria of people who work in shops and factories and who get double time for working on Sundays. Those proposals, however, have been rejected.

If one accepts that the Jockey Club is the senior management body in racing—obviously the hon. Member for Langbaurgh does—it is clear from its statements that the Bill should not proceed, because no agreement has been reached with the industry's unions.

Reference has been made to the state of some of the courses used by the racing industry. We all know about some of the harrowing details that have emerged and that appear to be the norm in the industry. My right hon. Friend the Member for Small Heath was correct in saying that nothing should be done about Sunday racing until people are aware of, and made to respond to, the needs of the workers.

Some time ago during a discussion on my British Racing Commission Bill I spoke about the harrowing state of some of our racecourses. After that debate some people suggested that I had received information from organisations about some of the bad courses. The hon. Member for Berkshire, East, however, knows that I was complimentary about the work that is being done at Ascot , which, I believe, is in his constituency. Some people might argue that I visited two good courses followed by five bad courses and, as the bad ones backed up my argument, I presented my report in that light. That is nonsense. I got up in the early hours of the morning and, with my wife, visited courses around Britain to look at the facilities. I did not merely stand at the winning post to watch horses win or lose. I turned up at courses at 8 o'clock in the morning and saw horses being unloaded at some courses, and kept in disgraceful and disgusting conditions. I have seen horsebox drivers and stable staff—many of whom are young or very old—queueing for buckets of water to wash down animals after they have raced. They work under the most deplorable and disgraceful conditions. The hon. Member for Cleveland raised that valid point—

Photo of Mr Richard Holt Mr Richard Holt , Langbaurgh

I wish that the hon. Gentleman would get my constituency right. I do not represent the whole of Cleveland—just one of its six constituencies, Langbaurgh.

Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield

I apologise to the hon. Gentleman. I remember him from the days when he was further away and a Member of the European Parliament—I do not know whether he still is.

Photo of Mr Richard Holt Mr Richard Holt , Langbaurgh

The hon. Gentleman's evidence on my background is about as factual as most of his one hour five minute diatribe. I have never been a Member of the European Parliament.

Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield

I apologise to the hon. Gentleman for giving him that tribute.

The hon. Member for Langbaurgh raised a valid point about the failure of the Horserace Betting Levy Board and other organisations to respond to the needs of those who work at racecourses. That is a central part of my argument and is the major reason why the Bill should not proceed. A new senior management and approach are needed within the industry.

Before Sunday racing is introduced we should provide the vital extra training and education which will be necessary for those employed in the industry. There are already many inexperienced people in the industry and more will join because experienced racing and betting staff are leaving in droves. There is very little training in the industry and certainly not enough to meet its requirements. It would be absolute madness to introduce Sunday racing without first establishing sufficient training facilities. There is already extreme difficulty in recruiting to both sections of the industry. If Sunday trading is introduced, more people will be employed and it would be crazy not to provide extra training for them. Therefore, I urge hon. Members not to support the Bill.

I have much more to say, but I keep being passed notes and given nods by my hon. Friends asking me to give way to other hon. Members who may wish to speak on a Bill which will, if enacted, affect so many people.

It is doubtful whether trainers will be able to cope if Sunday racing is introduced. The hon. Member for Crawley will recall that at the Sandown Park conference trainers were split on Sunday racing for two reasons. First, some trainers did not believe that owners could meet the increased costs that would be levied. Secondly, they did not know whether their staff could cope with more work.

I have not read out the relevant figures, but if Conservative Members wish me to do so, I certainly shall. Magazines such as Horse and Hound, The Sporting Life and The Racing Post—all top horseracing journals—contain harrowing articles. They are about people who work in stables having to deal individually with up to 10 horses during the working day. Already the agreement says that those people have to work seven days and it also says that they should go in only to feed the horses on Sundays. That is not true. They do not exercise horses on Sundays but in many of the poorer areas they work seven days a week. If hon. Members would like me to do so I shall give examples of that. If the Bill would allow trainers to force stable staff to work more hours than they now work during a six-day week that would be a disgrace.

We also need to discuss the breeding industry before we enact legislation such as this. Hon. Members spoke about the EEC. The breeding industry is in a terrible state because the Government have not acted on EEC directives on VAT.

Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield

The hon. Member of Derbyshire, South (Mrs. Currie) seems to disagree. Our breeders are paying 15 per cent. on thoroughbred stock whereas in Ireland there is a zero rate and the rate is 5·5 per cent. in France and 7·5 per cent. in Germany. Already our breeding industry is moving to Ireland because of zero rating.

Photo of Nicholas Soames Nicholas Soames , Crawley

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman's flow, but I wonder whether you could help me. I understood that the debate was about Sunday sport. I am unclear about why we should have to listen to a diatribe about breeding.

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster Central

I take the hon. Gentleman's point. Although conventionally a Second Reading debate is allowed to go wide, it is my view that the hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Meale) is going a lot wider than is proper. I hope that he will return more closely to the subject of the Bill.

Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield

I raised the matter of breeding because it is connected to Sunday racing. People are having great difficulty in getting and selling horses. If any hon. Member has any doubts about whether breeding has anything to do with Sunday racing he should look to see what happens in France where various grades of horse racing takes place on Sundays. That is completely against a European convention and that view will be strengthened after 1992. The French are organising races for French-bred horses. If we introduce Sunday racing we will present an opportunity for French and Irish-bred horses to come here. Those countries have restrictions that prevent our horses from running there and that is in no way fair to our horse breeding industry.

I should like to discuss many other aspects of this matter, and one is the important Single European Act. Many areas need to be tackled, one of which is protection for our work force. We need to talk about Mr. Papandreou's view of workers in industry participating in sport. An hon. Member spoke about the effect that the Bill would have on the greyhound industry. That is important because that industry has seen a gigantic increase in betting and that increase has been promoted by the bookmakers. If the Bill becomes law people will not go into a betting shop on Sunday morning and wait until the first race at 2.30. People will bet on other things while they wait for the first race to begin and they will even bet on things in between those races.

Hon. Members must be aware that there are many registered and unregistered courses in the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland at which races take place and people can bet on them. Bag services could operate at courses if betting shops are not open.

Betting shops are also concerned with greyhound racing. All betting shops deduct 10 per cent. of people's money; 8 per cent. goes on tax and only 0·88 per cent. goes to the levy and the industry. Before we pass this Bill, we must consider its effects on horse racing and greyhound racing. We must consider why the bookmakers are allowed to pocket 2 per cent. of punters' money. Will we clear those matters up in the Bill?

We should reject the Bill. It is a bad Bill and a betting Bill. Let us rid ourselves of it and get down to some constructive things on behalf of sport in general.

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 1:36 pm, 17th February 1989

The hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Meale) spoke for an hour and a quarter. I hope that he will forgive me if I say that he could have compressed his arguments into 15 minutes. They would have been better for that. As a consequence of his speech, hon. Members on both sides of the House who know a lot about this issue will be excluded from the debate, and I regret that.

I want to consider the Government's attitude about Sunday sports. I begin by congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire, East (Mr. MacKay) on bringing forward this Bill. As the debate has clearly shown, a range of questions must be answered about Sunday sport in general and Sunday racing in particular. The Bill plainly gives the House an opportunity to express a view, and it perhaps offers some answers to those questions.

It may be helpful if I start by stating the Government's view. In broad terms, the Government support the Bill. That will not surprise hon. Members because we have supported two previous Bills on this matter. We will be happy to see the Bill make progress for a variety of reasons which I propose to outline concisely.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley (Mr. Soames) said in a most impressive speech, a variety of sporting events already take place on Sundays. My hon. Friend itemised them and they include tennis, cricket, golf, soccer, motor racing, athletics, badminton, hockey and no doubt many other activities. For the life of me, I can see no reason in principle why we should not make it easier for Sunday racing to do likewise.

My hon. Friend the Member for Crawley explained that a number of sporting organisations which hold events on Sundays resort to a variety of strategems to avoid the Sunday Observance Act 1780. I do not like strategems to be used for that purpose. I should be much happier to bring clarity to the law, which is the effect of clause 1.

I question whether the right hon. and hon. Members who passed the 1780 Act had in mind the holding of sporting events in general or of racing in particular. The House may be interested to learn the preamble to that Act, which explains what was in the minds of those legislators 200 years ago. The preamble, which I have edited slightly to avoid repetition, states: Whereas certain houses, rooms or places within the cities of London or Westminster … have of late frequently been opened for public entertainment or amusement upon the evening of the Lord's day, commonly called Sunday … under pretence of inquiring into religious doctrines, and explaining texts of Holy Scripture, debates have frequently been held on the evening of the Lord's day concerning divers texts of Holy Scripture, by persons unlearned and incompetent to explain the same, to the corruption of good morals, and to the great encouragement of irreligion and profaneness; be it enacted. In other words, that statute had nothing to do with kicking a ball or riding a horse; it had everything to do with the publication of false doctrine. That is to say, it had to do with practices of the kind in which some right hon. and hon. Members, but particularly Opposition Members, engage on most week days.

Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Shadow Spokesperson (Treasury)

The hon. Gentleman, as a Home Office Minister, can surely confirm that there is no law against kicking a ball or riding a horse on Sunday. If the Bill was only about that, we would not be arguing against it.

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

The hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, (Mr. Beith) is right, though one might derive the impression from speeches made by some right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House that that is what the Bill is about.

I turn to the way in which the Bill fits into our concept of betting. I begin with a personal observation. I know that I shall cause offence to my hon. Friend the Member for Langbaurgh (Mr. Holt), but personally I have no great sympathy with betting. I am not an enthusiast of betting; I have always regarded it as a waste of time and money. But this is not a betting Bill, and right hon. and hon. Members should not allow their prejudices about betting to colour their judgment.

Photo of Mr Dennis Turner Mr Dennis Turner , Wolverhampton South East

Why is it, then, that the Minister, in his earlier deliberations, insisted that provision be made in the Bill for betting shops to open?

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

For precisely the reason I shall explain. I start from the premise that I am not an enthusiast of betting, and personally, regard it as a waste of time and money. However, it would be wrong for us as individuals to allow our personal prejudices, to the extent that they exist, to interfere with a reasoned judgment as to need.

I believe that there is an intrinsic need to provide a mechanism for lawful betting on days that racing takes place, and that is what the Bill does. If we were to allow racing on Sunday without making proper provision for off-course betting, there would be a growth in unlawful betting. If that happened, I believe that it would spill over to other days of the week. I start from the considered view that one cannot allow racing on Sunday without providing also for off-course betting. I understand why the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed does not like betting. He does not like gambling. I do not like gambling either, but I think it wrong to start from the premise that because betting shops will have to be open for 12 extra days a year we should place a prohibition on all sporting activities on Sunday, and racing in particular. That is the wrong way round.

Photo of Mr Stuart Randall Mr Stuart Randall , Kingston upon Hull West

On this interesting point of illegal betting, how does the Minister square what he has just said with the comments made by the hon. Member for Langbaurgh (Mr. Holt) about evening racing? The hon. Gentleman is an expert on these things and he seems to think that evening racing has not given rise to increased illegal betting.

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

The hon. Gentleman has forstalled me because I was about to reply precisely to that point and to the point raised by the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) about Ireland.

Photo of Eric Martlew Eric Martlew , Carlisle

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

No; I must proceed, because time is running on.

I recognise the expertise of my hon. Friend the Member for Langbaurgh and I am not trying to denigrate him. However, three points need 1.o be made about evening racing. First, high grade racing does not take place in the evening, according to the advice that I have been given, whereas the racing industry intends to put on high quality racing on Sundays. Secondly, as a rule, evening racing is not televised, whereas it might be the intention of the television companies to televise Sunday racing. Thirdly, it is one thing to say to a customer at a betting shop who is there at 6 o'clock, "You can bet on the 7·30 at" wherever it may be. It is another thing to say to a punter on Saturday, "Is not the time right for you to put a bet on the Sunday race at" wherever it may be? On the whole, people like to put their bets on fairly close in time to the event, because runners are scratched, conditions may change or the race may not be held.

Photo of Mr Richard Holt Mr Richard Holt , Langbaurgh

Punters want to put bets on at the latest possible moment to get the best possible price. It has noting to do with anything other than pure old-fashioned greed. I find my hon. Friend's arguments slightly illogical in that he is talking about the grading of racing. I assure him that the vast majority of the hundreds of people who go to the betting shops of which I have knowledge are not interested in whether the owner will win £10,000 or £5,000—they are interested in whether they can make a winning bet. The quality of racing is irrelevant.

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

It may be irrelevant to individuals, but it is almost certainly relevant to the volume of betting that is likely to occur.

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

The cumulative effect of the three considerations that I put to the House makes the comparison unsound.

The same is true about Ireland. I urge two considerations on the right hon. Member for Small Heath. First, in Ireland the majority of race courses are close to the main centres of population. Therefore, those who wish to place bets have easy recourse to the on-course betting facilities. Secondly—I have no personal knowledge of this, but I have been advised and I accept that advice—the majority of off-course betting in Ireland is done on English racing, so once again the comparison is not useful.

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

No. I wish to press on because I am trying to keep my speech to a quarter of an hour or 20 minutes to allow other hon. Members to speak.

A number of hon. Members have been worried about the effect of the Bill on Sunday trading in general. The Bill is not a stalking horse for Sunday trading legislation. It stands wholly separate and wholly apart. Hon. Members can express their prejudices in a debate of this kind, but there is nothing in the Bill that has a direct impact on Sunday trading. It does not have even an indirect impact on Sunday trading. It deals with a particular problem—the prohibition of a variety of sporting events for which a charge is made on Sunday.

To turn to the employment protection clause, a number of hon. Members including my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley, have expressed anxiety about those with existing contracts of employment. I believe that my hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire, East has tackled the problem in an extremely responsible way. He has provided that those with existing contracts of employment should not be prejudiced as a result of the legislation. That is right. However, he has also said by implication that we cannot build similar safeguards into prospective contracts of employment. That is quite right, too.

There is a variety of occupations in which people have to work on Sundays—the fire service, the police, hospitals, power stations, garages, the transport industry. Even hon. Members—whom some people may suppose are not essential—have to work on Sundays. We cannot say that they are obliged to do that, whereas jockeys and stable lads are not. It is for them to decide whether they want to go into an occupation that may have that consequence.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse , Pontefract and Castleford

We cannot compare essential services with betting shops, which are certainly not essential on Sundays. The Government have recently extended drinking hours in public houses to 3 o'clock on Sunday afternoons. Are we not steadily eroding Sunday as we have known it? Ought not the Sabbath to be kept special? This is the thin end of the wedge. Before we know where we are, it will not be 12 Sundays but even more Sundays. Does the Minister share my view that the Bill would be more acceptable if no betting shops could be opened on Sundays?

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

The Bill might then be more acceptable to some of its opponents, but I have already made the point that in the opinion of the Home Office it is necessary to allow off and on-course betting on Sundays, for the reasons that I have already given. As for essential services, the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) blew the hon. Gentleman out of the water. The right hon. Gentleman aptly remarked that if one goes to Blackpool or Cornwall on a summer Sunday one sees that the sea fronts are stacked full of operations being worked by people—roundabouts and whirligigs, ice cream parlours and this and that. They are not essential services, but they are providing a service. Now that we have identified that kind of service, nobody could call them essential services. However, they are services that many people happen to perform as part of their contract of employment. We cannot make a distinction in principle between jockeys and people who look after dodgem cars. They are not different in kind.

Each hon. Member will view the Bill in the context of his beliefs about Sunday as a whole. I respect and understand the views of those who, as a matter of conscientious conviction, wish to retain the present pattern of Sundays.

Speaking on behalf of the Government, and expressing my view, the balance of the Bill is right. I very much dislike the concept of prohibiting what is now covered by clause 1. I welcome the liberalisation of the law, and I think that it is desirable to introduce limited betting to safeguard the proper observance of the law. The position of existing employees is properly protected in the Bill, and I should like it to be considered in Committee.

Photo of Mr Stuart Randall Mr Stuart Randall , Kingston upon Hull West 1:55 pm, 17th February 1989

The debate has been very stimulating. Although I am opposed to the Bill, I believe that the hon. Member for Berkshire, East (Mr. MacKay) has done the House, racing, entertainment and British people a service. I very much hope that the points that have been rasied in the debate can be built on so that we can reach an agreement that will be good for those who enjoy the sport, those outside the sport, religious groups and those with moral views on the matter. That is a good thing. We are all for racing. There is no question about that. It is just a question of how we link it to betting.

I was disappointed by some of the bad humour earlier in the debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Duffy) is very knowledgable on these matters and expressed concern about the sensitivity surrounding the issue. I was sorry that the hon. Member for Crawley (Mr. Soames) responded as he did. I do not think that it added to the debate. Nevertheless it demonstrated that sensitivity and concern exist and are being expressed in the correspondence that we receive on the subject.

Unquestionably, the issue is sensitive and the solution in the Bill is not satisfactory. The Bill is based on straight deregulation. No Bill based upon straight deregulation will get through the House. It is necessary to win over a great many people in the country and achieve a consensus. We have to reach a balance, and the notion of using a free-market approach to deregulation, forgetting everyone's feelings, will not win. The Opposition will never support the Bill, although we support racing, until we have an assurance that the 100,000 or so people who operate the industry will have a decent standard of living, reasonable terms and conditions of employment, and so on. Those matters have to be taken into account. I was pleased that the hon. Member for Berkshire, East mentioned the appalling conditions in which stable lads work.

We also have to take account of the sensitivities of members of the Church and those who believe that Sunday should be kept special. Some Conservative Members tend to dismiss such things because they consider that only the market matters, but we feel that even those who are not believers should take those matters into account in reaching a balanced solution. We advocate a balanced solution.

Photo of Mr Donald Anderson Mr Donald Anderson Shadow Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

Does my hon. Friend not find it rather puzzling that the Conservative party considers itself to be the party of tradition, yet is subject to the very gross forces of commercialism and latterly has totally yielded to commercial pressures? That distinguished grocer from Grantham who apparently inspired the Prime Minister would be turning in his grave at what is now being done in the name of the Conservative party.

Photo of Mr Stuart Randall Mr Stuart Randall , Kingston upon Hull West

That is a good point. One of my hon. Friends referred to Conservative Members as, "modern Tories". They are not such nice people as the old Tories. This deregulation approach is associated with the modern Tories, and the old Tories with their traditional ways would despise it.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Party Chair, Labour Party

Outside the House I heard the new-fangled Tory party described as the political wing of the SAS.

Photo of Mr Stuart Randall Mr Stuart Randall , Kingston upon Hull West

That is an interesting point but one has to look at the matter more sensitively.

I do not think that anybody would disagree with the fact that British law is currently being brought into disrepute. It is irrational that some sports and gambling activities can take place on a Sunday but others cannot. We have to find a solution. I do not believe that the Bill as it stands is the right solution. One cannot punch through the problem with a Bill such as this. We have to ensure that we take account of the views of all the interested groups.

Photo of Ms Audrey Wise Ms Audrey Wise , Preston

In the list of those whose views and interests that have to be considered, would my hon. Friend care to include children? The Bill would affect the children of the employees who would have to work on Sundays in betting shops and shops in general. It would also affect the children whose parents would be spending their time in betting shops instead of at home.

Photo of Mr Stuart Randall Mr Stuart Randall , Kingston upon Hull West

My hon. Friend has made a good point. As the party of the family, the Labour party takes such things into account. The Conservative party believes that everything depends on the market. Deregulation is based only on the market and does not take family values into account.

My hon. Friend the Member for Preston (Mrs. Wise) mentioned the children of those who work in the industry and those who would go to betting shops on a Sunday if they were open. Those children have to be taken into account. The progress we make must he based on consensus, and that, in turn, must be based on respecting the views of all the interested groups.

Photo of Mr James Couchman Mr James Couchman , Gillingham

I apologise for not having been here earlier but I was taking part in a phone-in on my local radio station. I was there with a member of the Keep Sunday Special campaign. He told me that the campaign is interested in deregulation on the basis of recreation, emergencies, social gatherings and travel. Does the hon. Gentleman find it strange that the Keep Sunday Special campaign should oppose the Bill, as there can be nothing more recreational or a. bigger social gathering than the Wimbledon finals, the grand prix or many of the Sunday games that take place?

Photo of Mr Stuart Randall Mr Stuart Randall , Kingston upon Hull West

I was about to come to the Keep Sunday Special campaign, which has made suggestions. The campaigners recognise that everybody should, if they so desire, go out and enjoy their racing. It is simply attempting to find a balanced solution to the betting problem. We know that the two things are inseparable and, therefore, to look at racing without taking betting into account would be absurd.

Photo of Nicholas Soames Nicholas Soames , Crawley

The hon. Gentleman started by saying that he is much in favour of racing. He went on to say that the Bill is not the right way to proceed, that there must be consensus and that we must all rally round. I do not want him to disappoint the House, but would he be good enough to say exactly how we could arrive at that conclusion?

Photo of Mr Stuart Randall Mr Stuart Randall , Kingston upon Hull West

I shall comment on the hon. Gentleman's intervention and then continue with my speech. There are two possibilities. First, the Irish have racing on Sundays. Irish racing operates in a similar way to the proposals that were put forward by the Keep Sunday Special people. They propose that we should have racing, but allow betting to take place on Saturday. The horses would be named on Friday, the betting would take place on Saturday and the racing would take place on Sunday. I understand that the group put that proposal to the hon. Member for Berkshire, East but it was rejected.

Photo of Mr Stuart Randall Mr Stuart Randall , Kingston upon Hull West

I will not give way. I have been allowing too many interventions and I am losing the thread of my speech.

Photo of Mr Stuart Randall Mr Stuart Randall , Kingston upon Hull West

I am not giving way for the moment.

Photo of Mr Stuart Randall Mr Stuart Randall , Kingston upon Hull West

I accept that there is on-course betting, and the Keep Sunday Special Campaign—mainly Christian people—accept on-course betting on a Sunday. Off-course betting is the stumbling block.

Will the Home Office keep an eye on what is happening in Ireland to see what lessons can be learned and find out about illegal betting? Secondly, in the next five or so years, there will be a technological solution, and we need to keep an eye on it. Again, I hope that the Home Office will look at this matter. A problem arises because workers will be required to take bets and man betting shop tills. But one can make instantaneous banking transactions—electronic cash transactions—through one's home telephone. Developments are taking place rapidly and it will be possible for people to carry out such transactions in their own homes. At the moment, we have a system of credit card payments. It is limited to people with sufficiently high credit ratings, but it proves that there is a demand for home gambling transactions. With the development of home terminals—we can buy them now—and the new phones that will come on to the market in the near future, it will be possible to carry out cash transactions, possibly even using phonecard-type technology.

In answer to the hon. Member for Crawley, those two matters are the possible bases on which we should build. I hope that the Minister will examine the matter and write to me about his views on those possibilities.

Photo of Mr Stuart Randall Mr Stuart Randall , Kingston upon Hull West

The Minister contemptuously said that he will send a postcard.

Photo of Mr Stuart Randall Mr Stuart Randall , Kingston upon Hull West

The Minister says, "Rubbish." His reason for saying that is his obsession with illegal gambling. He is worried about it because it might grow and, therefore, revenue to the Exchequer will drop. That is his only concern. I am deeply worried that the Home Office is showing such contempt for the racing industry that it is not prepared to build on the legislation.

Photo of Andrew MacKay Andrew MacKay , Berkshire East

The House is anxious to know where the Opposition stand. We have moved a little nearer since the intervention of my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley (Mr. Soames). The hon. Gentleman seems to be in favour of Sunday sport, Sunday racing and gambling on Sunday provided that it is on-course, and happy with off-course betting provided that it is high-tech. In other words all we are waiting for is high-tech and then he will be in favour of the Bill. I am not sure that all of his hon. Friends agree. The hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) definitely disagreed with him, so he needs to clarify the position for his hon. Friend's benefit.

Photo of Mr Stuart Randall Mr Stuart Randall , Kingston upon Hull West

I can sum up what we are saying. The hon. Gentleman has not summed it up well. Several points that he made were incorrect.

Photo of Mr Stuart Randall Mr Stuart Randall , Kingston upon Hull West

I have just said that I will tell the hon. Gentleman. I do not need him to decide what I am saying. We must carry out a study of what is happening in Ireland because the system is in operation there and we must learn from it. That seems reasonable. For the longer term we must consider other technological methods. For several years I was in the banking industry and I picked up information on this which is coming rapidly to fruition. I hope that the racing industry will take that into account.

Photo of Mr Richard Holt Mr Richard Holt , Langbaurgh

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Photo of Mr Stuart Randall Mr Stuart Randall , Kingston upon Hull West

No, I shall proceed because I have had too many interruptions.

Hon. Members referred to the Bill's impact on family life. We must have consensus or the Bill will not proceed. We must have the agreement of Church groups and those in the industry. The conditions of some of those who work in the racing industry are a disgrace to the nation. Stable lads are treated appallingly. We should be ashamed of their working conditions, pay, security and the way in which they are often intimidated by trainers. In reviewing and building a case for racing, which could include Sunday racing, we must take those matters into account.

There are 100,000 people working in the industry and they are strongly opposed to the Bill. Who is in favour of racing on Sunday? I suppose it is the gambling industry. It is a multi-billion pound industry and its turnover and profits will increase. We have no objections to that—[Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen scoff. That is absurd. If the industry is not viable, racing will not be viable. If anyone disputed that, it would be remarkable.

Photo of Mr Richard Holt Mr Richard Holt , Langbaurgh

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Photo of Mr Stuart Randall Mr Stuart Randall , Kingston upon Hull West

No, I am not giving way again because I have run out of time and others wish to speak.

The hon. Member for Berkshire, East said on the Jimmy Young show that people should run their own lives and politicians should not interfere. He said that he despised the nanny state. That is the wrong attitude to adopt in promoting the Bill. If he is to get consensus, one must take many people along with him. His rather narrow attitude is not the way to proceed.

In response to a question from the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook), the hon. Gentleman implied that he does not believe that Sunday should be kept special in this respect and that people should decide for themselves. Once people decide for themselves without considering others, one does not have a society,. Again, that is not the way to proceed.

We all welcome the hon. Gentleman's comments about the stable lads, and I am glad that they are on the record. It was interesting to see how appalled the hon. Gentleman was at the conditions of work, the pay and the hours of the stable lads. I believe that the hon. Gentleman saw the stable lads and they shocked him. If nothing else comes out of today, I believe that we all welcome the fact that the hon. Member for Berkshire, East recognised that the conditions of the stable lads are appalling.

I hope that when it comes to working out the levy and the investment in the industry—in which the hon. Member for Langbaurgh (Mr. Holt) is involved—the stable lads will be a serious consideration.

My hon. Friend the Member of Attercliffe made some interesting points. Essentially, he said that he felt that there was a need for a greater balance in the case for racing. We are talking primarily about racing, although I accept that the Bill covers other sports, too. My hon. Friend said that a finer case is needed, which I believe was a good way of making his point. He is an expert on these matters. He referred especially to greater unity within the industry, which I believe is a good point. We must take into account the social consequences on those who work in the industry. My hon. Friend also mentioned the churches. He added that the racing industry is in a healthy state. I gathered from some of the points that the hon. Member for Langbaurgh was making that the racing industry is not down on its heels. It has high revenue. It is unacceptable that an industry that is so relatively opulent has employees who are treated in such an appalling way. If nothing else comes out of today, we have made some progress for stable lads.

The hon. Member for Devizes (Sir C. Morrison) said that he felt that the Bill regularised the situation. I agree. We know that there are no practical constraints on racing. Betting, however, would be a new item. Betting and racing are inseparable. The hon. Member for Devizes is a member of an all-party racing and bloodstock committee, and he knows that Sunday racing would not be viable unless there was betting, too. The two are inseparable.

Photo of Mr Richard Holt Mr Richard Holt , Langbaurgh

The hon. Gentleman probably does not know that the National Association of Bookmakers, and the overwhelming majority of small bookmakers in this country, do not want the betting shops to open on a Sunday. They have asked for them not to be open. The Home Office cannot understand that, and is pressing that matter. The betting industry does not want it.

Photo of Mr Stuart Randall Mr Stuart Randall , Kingston upon Hull West

I listened with great care to what the hon. Gentleman said. Clearly, if one considers the extra revenues to those companies—the small number of substantial companies—their interest must be to increase their revenues. That is a key motivating force behind the Bill.

The hon. Member for Devizes talked about the anomalies. His point about illegal betting left a lot of questions unanswered. His statistics on illegal betting did not stand up. He added the interesting point that Christians should not impose their views on society.

Photo of Mr Stuart Randall Mr Stuart Randall , Kingston upon Hull West

The hon. Gentleman did, because I wrote it down.

Photo of Mr Stuart Randall Mr Stuart Randall , Kingston upon Hull West

Because I referred to the hon. Gentleman, I shall give way. The hon. Gentleman claims that he did not say that. If he did, however, I believe that it was a just example. Although I am a churchgoer, I do not believe that any group should impose its will on the rest, just as I believe that the Jockey Club should not attempt to impose its will on the racing industry.

Photo of Mr Charles Morrison Mr Charles Morrison , Devizes

I did not say that Christians should not impose their views on society. I was quoting what the Bishop of Liverpool had written in the foreword to the Sunday sport booklet.

Photo of Mr Stuart Randall Mr Stuart Randall , Kingston upon Hull West

Well, if that is so, it seems that the hon. Gentleman believes that no group should impose its will on the rest of society, and therefore I find it suprising that he intends to support the Bill.

My hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton (Mr. McFall) made an interesting speech and he—

Photo of Andrew MacKay Andrew MacKay , Berkshire East

rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster Central

Perhaps we should allow the Opposition spokesman to conclude his remarks before putting the Question.

Photo of Mr Stuart Randall Mr Stuart Randall , Kingston upon Hull West

I am grateful, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I shall speedily bring my remarks to a close in the next five minutes.

Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Shadow Spokesperson (Treasury)

On a point of order. Mr. Deputy Speaker. The exchanges that took place just now were a little muffled and I was not able to hear what was said.

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster Central

I suggested that perhaps the House should hear the views of the spokesman for the Opposition, but expressed the view that we would have the opportunity to enable the Question to be put before 2.30 pm.

Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Shadow Spokesperson (Treasury)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. What I had understood you to say was that the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, West (Mr. Randall) must complete his remarks at a certain point. That seems to be a rather dangerous precedent.

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster Central

I was expressing the hope, and I do not think that I went beyond that. Let us get on with it. Mr. Randall.

Photo of Mr Stuart Randall Mr Stuart Randall , Kingston upon Hull West

I shall conclude as rapidly as possible.

My hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton said that he believed that there was a link between the Bill and Sunday trading. When we discussed the deregulation of the Sunday trading laws

Photo of Mr Stuart Randall Mr Stuart Randall , Kingston upon Hull West

No, I shall not.

The spirit behind the deregulation of the Sunday trading laws coincides with the deregulatory attitude adopted by the hon. Member for Berkshire, East.

My hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton said that in Ireland there is racing on Sundays and that the betting shops are closed. He felt that we should consider following that practice. He also mentioned the trade unions and said that the TGWU and USDAW are opposed to the Bill because of the serious effects that it will have on employees in the industry.

If we are to make progress we must ensure that the terms and conditions of workers, as outlined in the Bill, are made appreciably better. People should be able to feel that they can work on a Sunday if they desire without its having an unacceptable effect on their way of life.

The hon. Member for Crawley spoke about the law being in disrepute and he is correct. As I said in answer to the hon. Gentleman's earlier intervention, the important thing is how we work in the future to re-establish the law's repute. The hon. Gentleman said that he does not believe that the Bill is a stalking horse for Sunday trading, but I am not sure that that is so. I have my doubts and I believe that many people in the country are suspicious. I believe that—

Photo of Andrew MacKay Andrew MacKay , Berkshire East

rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be no put.

Question put, That the Question be now put: —

The House divided: Ayes 51, Noes 67.

Division No. 102][2.25 pm
AYES
Adley, RobertDavis, David (Boothferry)
Alexander, RichardDorrell, Stephen
Arbuthnot, JamesDurant, Tony
Atkinson, DavidEggar, Tim
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Baldry, TonyFraser, John
Bowis, JohnGilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Browne, John (Winchester)Gow, Ian
Buck, Sir AntonyGreenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Carlisle, John, (Luton N)Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Haselhurst, Alan
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Cohen, HarryHolt, Richard
Colvin, MichaelHowell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Currie, Mrs EdwinaHunt, David (Wirral W)
Janman, TimSoames, Hon Nicholas
Knapman, RogerSummerson, Hugo
Knox, DavidTownsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)Waller, Gary
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir PatrickWalters, Sir Dennis
Morrison, Sir CharlesWells, Bowen
Nelson, AnthonyWheeler, John
Rathbone, TimWhitney, Ray
Rhodes James, Robert
Richardson, JoTellers for the Ayes:
Ruddock, JoanMr. James Couchman and
Shaw, David (Dover)Mr. Peter Thurnham.
Sims, Roger
NOES
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelMaclennan, Robert
Allen, GrahamMadden, Max
Alton, DavidMaginnis, Ken
Anderson, DonaldMarek, Dr John
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Martlew, Eric
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)Meale, Alan
Battle, JohnMichael, Alun
Beggs, RoyMolyneaux, Rt Hon James
Benyon, W.Murphy, Paul
Carrington, MatthewNellist, Dave
Corbyn, JeremyPaisley, Rev Ian
Cousins, JimPowell, Ray (Ogmore)
Cryer, BobQuin, Ms Joyce
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)Randall, Stuart
Dover, DenRobinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Dunnachie, JimmyRossi, Sir Hugh
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs GwynethSkinner, Dennis
Field, Frank (Birkenhead)Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Flynn, PaulSmyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S)Spearing, Nigel
Goodhart, Sir PhilipStanbrook, Ivor
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)Straw, Jack
Ground, PatrickTaylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Hinchliffe, DavidTaylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Hughes, John (Coventry NE)Turner, Dennis
Hughes, Roy (Newport E)Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)
Jessel, TobyWareing, Robert N.
Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn)Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Kaufman, Rt Hon GeraldWiddecombe, Ann
Kennedy, CharlesWise, Mrs Audrey
Lofthouse, GeoffreyYoung, David (Bolton SE)
McAvoy, Thomas
McCrea, Rev WilliamTellers for the Noes:
McCusker, HaroldMr. A. E. P. Duffy and
Macdonald, Calum A.Mr A. J. Beith.
McFall, John

Question accordingly negatived.

It being after half-past Two o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.

Debate to be resumed on Friday 24 February.