Clause 6 - Gaming and Game of chance

Part of Gambling Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:34 am on 11th November 2004.

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Photo of Richard Caborn Richard Caborn Minister of State (Sport and Tourism), Department for Culture, Media & Sport 10:34 am, 11th November 2004

In saying that the Bill is incredibly unpopular and that it should be ditched, Coin Slot International is naive, as I am sure the hon. Member for Bath would acknowledge. I remind the Committee that we came to the Bill by way of the Budd report. It is unfortunate that on Second Reading there was a difference between what was reported in the press and the reality in the world outside. Today, many people are vulnerable because the House of Commons has not introduced regulations and powers to deal with the new technologies of remote and internet gambling. Many young and vulnerable people have been exposed

because of the law's inability to act. Indeed, 90 per cent. of the Bill is about protecting those people. I had responsibility for gambling when I joined the Department two or three years ago, and I had a dialogue with the Churches, GamCare and many others. That dialogue is what the Bill was predicated on, and to a large extent it still is. Some newspapers ran headlines of ''Kill the Bill''. If the Bill is killed, many people will remain vulnerable to some of the biggest sharks. That is why we are doing what we are doing.

Let us keep the issue in proportion. There was discussion about one part of the Bill—casinos—and it was brought to our attention that it was creating concerns. That is absolutely right. We have responded in a way that, as the Secretary of State clearly said, shows that we take those concerns on board. Surely, that is what the democratic process and consultation are about. The Bill is about a change in the law from 1968. I agree that because it tried to take crime out of gambling, that area of the law was draconian, prescriptive and time-consuming for the House of Commons and the legislative process. We are trying to move it to a modern pattern for the 21st century, but with all the safeguards that we need.

We would have abrogated our responsibilities had we not brought a Bill of this nature to Parliament, so I make no excuses for doing so. We went out and consulted. I make no apologies for coming to the Committee and saying, ''Can we have a few more days?'' We want to return with a considered statement so that we can respond in full to concerns on that limited part of the Bill. I do not know what Coin Slot International and the others are lobbying for, but naive editorials, such as the one in the Daily Mail, saying that they want to kill the whole Bill do a disservice to millions of people in this country.

I give the hon. Member for Maldon and East Chelmsford an assurance that on Tuesday we will make sure, subject to your agreement, Mr. Pike, that there is plenty of debate on clause 7. We will be more than ready to accept such scrutiny. In reply to the hon. Member for Bath, there will be no public statements or announcements before I come to Committee.