Sunday observance

Part of Petitions – in the House of Commons at 1:36 pm on 17th February 1989.

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

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.