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I commiserate with the Minister for having to repeat this embarrassing Statement. Does he realise that it essentially shows that the Government have become the pawns of the big gambling industry? He has said, with the full authority of the state behind him, that the Government are not prepared to move at all to tackle a massive social evil that is wrecking hundreds of thousands of lives, including those of young people who are becoming addicted to gambling in their early and mid-teens, which will then afflict them for life. Instead, the state is relying on the industry that has caused these evils to regulate itself by making paltry contributions, given the overall figures involved in this industry.
The noble Lord started to lose the House when he accused the right reverent Prelate of exaggerating. He made a compelling argument, along with the noble Lord, Lord Foster, about exactly what the social evils are and why the Government should be addressing them. When people come to look back at this massive social evil of gambling, they will equate it with the problems caused by tobacco addiction in the previous generation, when, after huge rearguard actions by the industry involved—particularly on the issue of advertising—the state finally moved. After that, everyone said, “Why has it taken so long?” The big issue that the Government will have to address is: when will they move to end the wall-to-wall advertising that promotes people into gambling? To my mind, that is morally and socially unjustifiable. Until the Government start to move on banning gambling advertising, everything they do in the meantime will seem beside the point.