New Clause 14 — Self-exclusion for remote gambling

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the House of Commons at 3:14 pm on 26th November 2013.

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Photo of Gerry Sutcliffe Gerry Sutcliffe Labour, Bradford South 3:14 pm, 26th November 2013

It is a pleasure to follow Philip Davies. We disagree on some things, but he is an excellent advocate for the horse racing and betting industries. We might draw different conclusions on the purpose of the Bill, but I think that we agree that it is important. I pay tribute to the Minister for bringing it forward. The process started, as my hon. Friend Clive Efford said, more than three years ago. I also pay tribute to the officials in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, because it is important that they work with the Gambling Commission and the sector to understand the nature of the industry, which is very important to this country given the number of jobs it creates, the amount of tax that it pays and the investment it makes in the economy.

Opportunities to discuss the gambling industry in the House are few and far between. One of the difficulties is that some people take a blanket approach to gambling and oppose anything to do with it because they think that it is alien to our country, but in reality that is not the case. As we have seen with the success of the national lottery and national institutions such as the derby, the grand national and many other racing events, sport and gambling are interlinked.

The important thing about the Bill is that it offers a consumer safeguard, and in that respect it fills a gap in the previous legislation, the Gambling Act 2005. However, we have put a lot of trust in the Minister today—I do not doubt that it will be honoured—to do things we have asked her to do. We have asked her to look at the casino industry and, outside the scope of the Bill, the opportunity to put right some of the wrongs for that industry. I look forward to hearing what she has to say as a result of her consultation with the sector in due course.

I think that the Minister is wrong not to support the new clause on the horserace betting levy. The horse racing industry is important to the country. The problem is that if it takes four years to reach a conclusion for the next negotiations, some race courses and parts of the industry might not survive. I hope that she can give some momentum to that. I referred in Committee to the other place, and I am sure that when the Bill goes to the other place its Members who are even more committed to racing than we are in this House—if that is possible—will remind her of the levy’s impact on the industry.

The Bill is a good one. I am grateful to the Minister for listening to the comments that have been put to her from both sides of the House. I look forward to its passage through the other place. However, I feel that the House needs to look at the impact of gambling on society, because there are people who have problems, and Jim Shannon is right to raise those concerns. It might sound like a small percentage—0.9%—but my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham is right about the number of people affected, so there needs to be adequate research, education and treatment. I support the Bill.