Clause 1 - The licensing objectives

Part of Gambling Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:00 am on 9th November 2004.

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Photo of Malcolm Moss Malcolm Moss Shadow Minister, Home Affairs 10:00 am, 9th November 2004

I take your guidance, Mr. Gale.

As far as amendment No. 1 is concerned, the idea of public nuisance was introduced as an amendment in debates on the Licensing Bill. For whatever reason, the Government saw fit not to accept it. In retrospect, it might have been a very useful addition, bearing in mind the increase in binge drinking and the problems associated with it in our towns and city centres since those debates and the enactment of the Licensing Act 2003. If that increase is to be complemented—I cannot think of an alternative word—by large numbers of people visiting large casinos in the same town and city centres, we may have even more of a problem.

If the regional casinos at the top end of the scale are to open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and if the rules on membership are swept away as the Government propose, the binge drinkers will simply turn out of the pubs and head for the casinos where the bars are still open. That will place an enormous amount of responsibility on the shoulders of those people running the casinos, and something in this Bill that relates to public nuisance may indicate to them that they have serious responsibilities.

Turning to amendment No. 71, which refers to paragraph (a), we have no problem with the Government's proposals and the licensing objectives for

''preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder; or being used to support crime''.

We agree with all those objectives, but do they cover preventing people with a criminal record from becoming involved in the operation of casinos, or anything relating to gambling and betting? No doubt the Minister will explain why the words in my amendment are not needed. They are intended to tease out whether the words used in the Bill would include people with a criminal record. Those people may now be going straight—if that is the right term. However, we do not want those kind of people associated in any shape or form with gambling.