Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Amendment) Bill: Extension of Committee Stage

Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 12:15 pm on 19th October 2021.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Paula Bradley Paula Bradley DUP 12:15 pm, 19th October 2021

I beg to move

That, in accordance with Standing Order 33(4), the period referred to in Standing Order 33(2) be extended to 28 January 2022, in relation to the Committee Stage of the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Amendment) Bill.

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

The Business Committee has agreed that there should be no time limit to the debate.

Photo of Paula Bradley Paula Bradley DUP

I request Members' support to extend the Committee Stage of the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Amendment) Bill to 28 January 2022. At the Second Stage debate on 27 September, I said that the Bill marks the start of the process to bring about important and long-awaited amendments to the 1985 Order, which has remained largely unchanged since it was enacted. As a result, gambling legislation here is very outdated.

The Minister is taking a two-stage approach to reforms, including this Bill, which, unfortunately, will not establish a new regulatory framework but will amend parts of the 1985 Order. The Committee has already identified a number of key areas and stakeholders from which it wishes to take evidence to understand the impact of gambling-related harm and the impact of the Bill on the local gambling sector, local government, sports organisations and groups, local support organisations for gambling-related harm, and current treatment and prevention services.

I will not repeat everything that I said a few moments ago regarding the Private Tenancies Bill, but there is a need for this extension. First, as I said, in relation to logistics, we are currently in the Committee Stage of three Bills, and we are progressing all three at once in a planned process. We will be meeting twice a week from the start of November. The Committee needs sufficient time and space to undertake thorough scrutiny of the Bill and to ensure that it achieves as much as it can. We know that we will likely be hearing as much about what is not in the Bill as what is in the Bill. We have all heard the Minister say that, as many of the challenges cannot be addressed through our present system of regulation, the Bill is about what is:

" achievable and realistic within the existing statutory framework". — [Official Report (Hansard), 27 September 2021, p13, col 1].

As with the Private Tenancies Bill, Members raised many issues and matters of concern during the Second Stage debate for the Committee to consider. Widespread views were expressed, with some focusing on the Bill's shortcomings and the missed opportunities to do more. Others recognised it as a starting point for widespread reform in the next mandate.

It is very clear that the Committee has a tall order ahead of it with this Bill. I ask the House to allow the extension in order to provide the Committee additional time to scrutinise the Bill so that we can do our very best to ensure that the Bill achieves as much as it can. As always, we will not hesitate to seek clarifications and propose amendments if needed.

Question put and agreed to. Resolved:

That, in accordance with Standing Order 33(4), the period referred to in Standing Order 33(2) be extended to 28 January 2022, in relation to the Committee Stage of the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Amendment) Bill.