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Christmas Prize Draws, Manchester

Volume 236: debated on Monday 10 March 1930

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72, 73 and 74.

asked the Attorney-General (1) the number of Christmas prize draws which took place in Manchester last year and the number of prosecutions following upon his instructions:

(2) whether he is aware that the directors of a Lancashire Socialist paper were recently prosecuted in Manchester for running a Christmas prize draw, whilst a precisely similar draw by the Lord Mayor of Manchester has not been interfered with; whether he has in his possession a report of the trial; and whether he will explain the reason for this discrimination;

(3) whether he proposes to alter the law of 1823 which stigmatises as rogues and vagabonds any persons raising money for purposes which seek no personal gain?

I have been asked to answer these questions. The Chief Constable informs my right hon. Friend that the police have information regarding two, and only two, draws organised for Christmas in Manchester last year. The police warned the promoters, and, as in one case the warning was disregarded, they took proceedings. During the proceedings reference was made by the defence to another draw; but although the police have since tried to obtain the papers relating to this draw, they have, so far, been unsuccessful. No discrimination is or was intended for or against any particular organisation, and all chief officers of police know that none should be shown. My right hon. Friend does not propose to introduce legislation in favour of lotteries that are not conducted for personal gain.

May I ask whether the information of the Under-Secretary that the papers relating to the other draw have not been made available, is quite correct. Is it not the fact that the Home Secretary was shown these papers personally by me?

I understand that efforts have been made to obtain information respecting this draw from the counsel acting in the case, and under notice. Counsel has not yet been able to supply my right hon. Friend or so far as I am aware, the chief constable of Manchester with the information that they desire.

Is there any objection in applying to the Lord Mayor of Manchester for information in respect of this draw?

Does the answer of the hon. Member mean that, if information is supplied, he will take steps against the Lord Mayor, or does it in effect, mean that the police know all about this draw, but have discriminated in the matter?

If the information is brought to the notice of my right hon. Friend, he will certainly carry out his duty, which is to notify the police in the area concerned. It is a matter for the police to initiate prosecutions.

Does the Under-Secretary really mean that the Lord Mayor of a town would arrange a draw unknown to the police in the area? The Lord Mayor of Manchester had one himself.