Clause 1 - The licensing objectives

Part of Gambling Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:15 am on 9th November 2004.

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Photo of Mr Richard Page Mr Richard Page Conservative, South West Hertfordshire 11:15 am, 9th November 2004

As my hon. Friend the Member for Maldon and East Chelmsford said, the hon. Member for West Ham and I served on the scrutiny Committee.

I am in a little difficulty at the moment, because having listened to what the hon. Member for West Ham said, I find myself to the left of him politically. That will put me into an extremely difficult position, but I shall try to overcome those problems.

As I am talking of degrees of difficulty, the scrutiny Committee had a difficulty in that the whole Bill was not available on day one to be gone through and seen as a piece. It emerged from some osmotic process, which shows the difficulty in getting the drafting of the Bill exactly right. I think that everybody agreed that the Bill was not exactly right on Second Reading.

Amendment No. 73 goes to the heart of the difference between the scrutiny Committee and the Government, and produced a torrent of concern from the media. I think that the media overdid it and exaggerated, but why let the facts get in the way of a good story? There has been plenty of publicity about the issue, and there we are. My hon. Friend the Member for Bromsgrove (Miss Kirkbride), with her journalistic background, may wish to comment on the accuracy of journalism and the various areas that have an impact on politics.

The scrutiny Committee asked for comprehensive planning guidance and advice to be available from the various regional bodies, so that anybody making any form of application could know exactly where they were and what they were about to do in their application. We would all agree that those regional bodies are as new-born babes compared with the existing county council structure, and they do not have the tried and trusted case law to advise them on how to go forward with various planning applications. I thought that my hon. Friend the Member for Surrey Heath was cruel to refer to the recent result from the north-east, but I wonder what that will do for the effectiveness of the various regional assemblies.