Clause 1 - The licensing objectives

Part of Gambling Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 9th November 2004.

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Photo of Mr Tony Banks Mr Tony Banks Chair, Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art 10:30 am, 9th November 2004

The hon. Gentleman knows that I did not say ''Victorian values''. That would be a very stupid thing to say. I leave it to the former Conservative Prime Minister to come up with such sayings. Little boys used to go up chimneys, too, as the

hon. Gentleman knows. He also knows that I would not be in favour of that, although if I remember rightly—not personally, of course: I might be old, but I am not that old—there were all sorts of lurid tales and suggestions that if little boys were prevented from going up chimneys, it would mean hunger and starvation for their families and they would lose their jobs. There is a Victorian aspect to what I am hearing this morning. I said that there is something Victorian about it; I did not refer to Victorian values.

In situations such as this, it pays the Opposition—opposition to the Bill crosses the Floor; there is opposition among Members of all parties—to paint the most lurid possible picture of what might happen: huge casinos on every street corner causing poverty, distress, destitution, suicides, family break-ups and civilisation as we know it to grind to a halt. That is a rather lurid picture. We ought to keep what might happen in some context.

The Bill is a welcome development, offering large numbers of opportunities for regeneration and enhanced facilities. People will have the opportunity to go into casinos, which they do not have now because of the limited number of them around the country. Although it is good to talk about social responsibility, in the end people must be responsible for their own actions. We in this place are taking people's individual responsibilities away, because someone will always say, ''What are the Government going to do about this? Why don't the Government do something about this?'' I get sick and tired of hearing that. It is necessary to move with caution, but not to be overly patronising in our view of the population as a whole. If we can resist temptation—well, if most of us can resist temptation—why on earth cannot the rest or the great majority of the population? Oscar Wilde said:

''I can resist everything except temptation.''