I beg to move amendment No. 81, in
clause 3, page 2, line 7, after '9', insert 'and section 11'.
This is a probing amendment. We seek clarification from the Minister. Paragraph (b) says in brackets, after ''betting'',
''within the meaning of section 9''.
Our amendment would insert ''and section 11''. It is uncertain whether section 11 has been left out because it relates to prize competitions. It would appear that prize competitions are also subject to the Bill and we believe that a specific reference should be made to avoid any doubt or confusion.
Clause 3 gives a general definition of the concept of gambling as meaning gambling, betting and lotteries. Betting itself is defined in clause 9. The amendment is a probing one, but we are not clear why the hon. Gentleman thinks it necessary to add a reference to clause 11. That clause makes it abundantly clear that prize contributions that satisfy the conditions set out in it thereby constitute betting for the purposes of clause 9. Betting of the kind defined in clause 11 is not a different and separate kind of betting from that described in clause 9; it is clause 9 betting. I hope that the hon. Gentleman understands that and will take it as an explanation in response to his amendment. We resist his amendment and ask him to withdraw it.
I have to be honest and say that I did not really understand that. If I am being entirely truthful, there were so many nines and 11s that I was confused about where we ended up. On this occasion, however, I am prepared to take the Minister's assurance. We still have a chance to return to this point when we discuss clauses 9 and 11. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
These are technical drafting amendments. Their purpose is pretty straightforward: it is to introduce clear and consistent language into the clauses that refer to participation in a lottery. The amendments do not serve to change the substance or meaning of the clauses; nor do they introduce any new policy into the Bill. Amendment No. 12 makes it clear that the clause applies only to competitions where all participants are required to guess or predict the answer.
Amendment agreed to.
The nature of the national lottery is that money raised for good causes is clearly different from other forms of gambling. The Bill should therefore treat the national lottery separately from the rest of gambling. The national lottery has its own legislation, and any fundamental changes to it are best made through national lottery legislation. However, certain aspects of the Bill should apply to the national lottery. First, it would clearly be inconsistent for any individual who cheats at the national lottery to be treated differently from someone who cheats at gambling. Government new clause 3 makes cheating at the national lottery an offence, punishable to the same extent as someone cheating at any other form of gambling.
Additionally, the provisions relating to the enforceability of contracts should also apply to the national lottery. Those who operate or play the national lottery should have the same assurance that they will receive what they are owed as those entering into any other form of gambling contract.
It is right that the national lottery and the rest of gambling have separate regulators, but that does not mean that they should operate in a vacuum. The Government believe that the gambling commission and the National Lottery Commission should be in regular contact with each other about issues that affect them both. The Bill already attaches a duty for the gambling commission to consult the National Lottery Commission when it becomes aware of a matter in which the National Lottery Commission may have an interest. It also adds a power for the Secretary of State to enforce that.
Will the Minister clarify for the Committee an issue that arose a few months ago? I believe that a young man in some sort of young offenders institution or even prison won a very large payout on the national lottery. The Secretary of State, as she is wont to do when the newspapers get on to an issue, demanded that action be taken and that such people should be deprived of their benefits from the national lottery. Does the Minister intend to do that?
I do not know the exact details of the case, so it would be wrong of me to respond today, but I will consider the matter and write to the hon. Lady.
I shall finish the rest of my explanation. My officials will give me an answer to the hon. Gentleman's point, which I will give to him when I sit down.
Paragraph 1 to the new schedule adds the same requirements to the National Lottery Commission. For the first time, the Bill provides a definition of a lottery. The national lottery is the biggest lottery in the country, so it is entirely correct that the definition
should also apply to it. Paragraph 2 to the new schedule would achieve that.
Government amendment No. 33 repeals section 2 of the National Lottery etc. Act 1993. That is consequential on the repeal of the Lotteries and Amusements Act 1976, which the Bill replaces. None of the provisions will extend to Northern Ireland. The amendment therefore simply prevents the repeal of section 2 in Northern Ireland.
I want to raise a couple of issues and make a couple of comments. I was interested in what the Minister said about people who might defraud the national lottery. I entirely understand what he is getting at, but the thought immediately came to mind that that is a bit rich coming from a Government who in opposition said during the passage of the National Lottery etc. Bill that lottery money should never be used for purposes that should really be funded by the taxpayer. Since they have been in government, they have hijacked a large proportion of what should have gone to good causes and directed it to purposes connected with health and education—which should be taxpayer funded. The biggest defrauding of the national lottery has been carried out by the Government.
Nevertheless, I know that that is not what the Minister is aiming at in the provisions that we are considering. I am surprised to hear him say that he does not remember the case to which my hon. Friend the Member for Bromsgrove (Miss Kirkbride) referred. I accept his word that he does not, and I do not expect him to be able to answer off the top of his head, but I am surprised, because it received huge publicity not only at the time but regularly ever afterwards. The person concerned has wasted all his money and been involved in breaches of the law following his release from the institution, which has received further coverage.
When I was a Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Department of National Heritage before 1997, Ministers were provided with a news cutting service, so that every story that related to the Department's work—particularly something as potentially controversial as lottery winners—was automatically given to Ministers. Perhaps only the Secretary of State sees those things now, or perhaps it is only the Under-Secretary in the House of Lords.
I echo what my hon. Friend the Member for Bromsgrove said; I think that it sticks in the craw of law-abiding people, who pay their pound, their standing order of £16 or whatever to compete in the lottery for a week or eight weeks at a time, when large wins are handed over to criminals. That undermines the purpose of the lottery. The Minister says that the Bill is not the right provision in which to do something about that, and that any changes should be made by amending national lottery legislation, but the fact remains that the Bill deals with aspects of the national lottery.
I am sure that my hon. Friend clearly remembers that many of our national
newspapers were in full flight on the issue and Ministers, including the Secretary of State, were very keen to suggest that the fault lay in the drafting of the original Act by a previous Conservative Government. Now that the moment has arrived to tackle the matter, the whole thing has been forgotten.
My hon. Friend is right. Time after time, not only in matters that are the province of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, but across the Government, Ministers are always in favour of the knee-jerk response that gets the eye-catching headline: ''Of course we will do something.'' However, faced with the acid test of a real opportunity—which the Bill provides, as my hon. Friend points out—they duck it. They think that the press agenda has moved on. My hon. Friend, as a distinguished former journalist, knows how the media caravan moves on. The story is no longer the focus of attention. I hope, however, that now that my hon. Friend has raised the matter, she will be able to alert some of her friends in the media about yet another broken promise, and yet another occasion when the Government have proved to be all talk but no action.
I remember the case particularly well; the thing that annoyed me most was that I had not won that amount of money on the lottery. I do not understand; the guy did not steal the lottery ticket. I assume that he paid his pound. I do not understand why people who might find themselves detained at Her Majesty's pleasure should be precluded from joining in the lottery, if they want to pay their pound. What is the problem?
I shall of course abide by your ruling, Mr. Pike, but my hon. Friend's intervention, which gave rise to this short passage of the debate, was relevant, because the fact that the Government amendments and the new clause and schedule deal with one category of offences in relation to the lottery means that the Government could have used the opportunity to deal with some other issues had they chosen to do so. My answer to the hon. Member for West Ham, to finish the point, is that I think that most law-abiding citizens think that those in prison should not be allowed to buy lottery tickets. If we had a referendum, I suspect that the votes would be on my side, but we shall leave that for another day.
There is an opportunity to raise one other serious point about the new clause and new schedule that I wanted to ask the Minister about. Government amendment No. 34 inserts a note into schedule 14 stating that the repeal of section 2 of the National Lottery etc. Act shall not extend to Northern Ireland. I would like the Minister to explain why that is being inserted into the Bill, because I do not understand what makes Northern Ireland different. I would be grateful if he responded to that point.
I shall respond to the question that was asked about entering, which is the word the hon. Member for Colchester (Bob Russell) used. ''Entering'' is used in the National Lottery etc. Act 1993, which is why it appears in the amendments—to maintain consistency. On the question of Northern Ireland, none of the provisions in the Bill will extend to that country. The amendment simply prevents the repeal of section 2 of the 1993 Act in Northern Ireland. That was the explanation I gave, and I stand by it.
I am sorry if this sounds pedantic, but although I understand the advice given I am now more puzzled as to why the original wording in the previous amendments was carried. I cannot work out why it is necessary to include the two phraseologies in the same Bill.
I thought that I had given a reasonable explanation of that. I shall ask my officials and counsel to supply further explanation if the hon. Gentleman is still concerned about the wording, and I shall return that to the Committee. The advice given by counsel was to maintain consistency and simplicity and to marry the national lottery with provisions in the Bill, which we believe protects the punter even more than at the moment. If that is not right, I shall return to the matter and explain it to the Committee.
I am not saying that the 1993 Act is wrong. We believe that there are more protections relating to offences under the Bill that were not in the 1993 Act. If the hon. Gentleman reads my explanation in Hansard tomorrow, it will be clear that where we are using the powers in the Bill, weaknesses in the 1993 Act will be strengthened by the amendments.
One purpose of the Bill is to streamline the regulation of gambling, so that it is consistent
across all forms of gambling. Until now, gambling regulation has operated separately and differently for different forms of gambling. The Bill will introduce consistency by means of a regulatory mechanism. The product of that is that we need a single definition of gambling that is regulated by the Bill.
Question put and agreed to.
Clause 3, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.