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Commons Chamber

Volume 885: debated on Friday 31 January 1975

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House Of Commons

Friday 31st January 1975

The House met at Eleven o'clock


[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Iran (Trade Agreements)

11.5 a.m.

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a statement on the outcome of my visit to Iran this week.

I went to Iran for the Third Session of the Joint Ministerial Economic Commission of which the Minister of Commerce and I are joint chairmen. The occasion enabled me to have wide-ranging talks with the Iranian Prime Minister and other leading Ministers in the Iranian Government. At the conclusion of these markedly cordial and positive exchanges I was able to sign agreements offering valuable business and many new job opportunities for this country.

First, we established a new programme of joint ventures between British and Iranian firms in the agricultural and industrial spheres. Second, we agreed a number of major new areas of co-operation, including railway electrification, housing, hospitals, distribution of goods, and training. Third, we have agreed to supply Iran with ships. Fourth, Iran has affirmed its intention that its national airline, Iranair, should be one of the first airlines to operate Concorde. Fifth, we have agreed to examine possibilities for joint ventures not only in Iran but also in this country and in third countries. Sixth, we have agreed to negotiate a double taxation agreement. Seventh, we have agreed to hold a financial conference in Tehran in the spring which my right honourable Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said he will attend.

Iran is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. With its ability to transform its oil wealth into major development of its industry, agriculture and infrastructure, it represents a market of first importance for Britain. We already enjoy a strong position with a firm base of economic and industrial partnership. I am convinced of the immense economic importance of Iran. The Iranians are convinced of this country's technological achievements and of its underlying industrial strength, reinforced by our imminent entry into the ranks of oil producers. What we now need is a vigorous response from industry, both public and private sector.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, unlike a number of hon. Members opposite, who a year ago were critical of the discussions which my right hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker) and the then right hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale, Mr. Anthony Barber, had with the Iranian authorities, we shall support the Secretary of State's efforts to promote British exports? Is he further aware that we are reinforced in this view by the need for Britain to pay its way instead of living beyond its means, as the latest figures for prices and incomes show we are doing, by international borrowing? Is he still further aware that this statement, in which he says that the agreement will create many more jobs, will refute the contention of Mr. Jack Jones and others that wage restraint would create unemployment? In fact, it is essential if we are to increase exports and employment.

What is the precise nature of the agreement? The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the agreement "offering valuable business". To what extent is the agreement firm? Will the Government themselves be negotiating individual contracts, or is it proposed that the firms concerned should negotiate those contracts? If the latter, how firm are the contracts which have been negotiated? It is difficult to avoid the impression that what the right hon. Gentleman has given us this morning is a declaration of intent rather than a specific set of contracts which have actually been signed and sealed.

According to reports in the Financial Times, the right hon. Gentleman took part in discussions about the EEC, which the right hon. Gentleman did not mention today. If he did discuss the EEC, was this a seminar on the Government's new attitude of collective irresponsibility or did it relate to specific EEC statements? Also, are any further meetings of this committee to be held to continue the trend of increased exports from Britain to Iran, which we most certainly believe would be in the interests of the country as a whole, both with regard to the overall interest and with regard to the creation of employment?

Order. This is Private Members' day and I rather deprecate a barrage of questions raising all sorts of wider issues. I hope that the Secretary of State will not be tempted too far.

I shall not respond, Mr. Speaker, to the general points with which the hon. Gentleman prefaced his remarks, except to say that this was not an oil-for-goods deal. It was a straight commercial and industrial trade agreement.

The hon. Gentleman asked me about the nature of the agreements reached. They cover two categories—contracts which have been entered into and signed between British firms and Iranian partners; and, secondly, agreements between our two Governments that business will be placed with United Kingdom firms. In some cases, we have been able already to agree which British firms are to be partners; in other cases the matter is yet to be established and worked out. But in principle there is agreement to do business with this country in the defined areas and defined projects.

The question of the EEC was mentioned in the discussions, and I made plain to the Iranian Government the position of Her Majesty's Government.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is heartening news? We congratulate him on the part he has played in making the agreement possible. I should like to ask him three questions.

First, what is the value likely to be? There have been conflicting figures about that. Secondly, without casting any reflection on existing Personnel, does the right hon. Gentleman feel that the commercial section of the embassy in Tehran should perhaps be strengthened? Thirdly, since the concept of joint economic ministerial commissions is a totally new departure but does not appear to be unsuccessful in its outcome, can the right hon. Gentleman tell us the next country he has on the list for similar discussions, and does he accept that this might be one of the most valuable and constructive ways in which he could devote the rest of his time?

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his kind remarks at the beginning and his courteous reference to my future at the end.

I am always reluctant to put firm figures on deals, but I was asked, and therefore we did our best, to aggregate. Because I am cautious by nature, I chose the lowest figure which it was reasonable to give—£500 million. It does not include a number of deals in which it has been agreed that business should be steered towards British firms but in which we have not agreed the British partner firms. That includes hospital and housing projects in Iran, both of which are potentially on a large scale.

The commercial section in Tehran is doing a first-class job. It is a very good section. But I am conscious of the need to strengthen our commercial representation throughout the Middle East—in Iran and other places.

On the right hon. Gentleman's last and, in my view, most important point, the House will perhaps at some other time have the opportunity to debate the new structure of trade which is developing not merely with East European countries but with planned or semi-planned economies in the Middle East, in Latin America, to some extent, and elsewhere. This calls upon us to make an entirely different response in terms of our trading effort.

I add my congratulations to my right hon. Friend on his trading efforts. He mentioned one area of co-operation as being railway electrification. Is the public sector in this country, such as British Railway workshops, involved in these trading arrangements and, if not, can my right hon. Friend encourage its involvement? Secondly, will he confirm that Iran is only the third country, in addition to this country and France, which is prepared to buy Concorde?

In the Tabriz-Iran railway link electrification programme the British lead firm is GEC, but working in partnership with British Railways. I have no doubt that as the details of the contract are worked out the possibility of a contribution from British Railways, not only in the consultancy sense but in the hardware sense, will be considered.

On the question of Concorde, a continuing series of negotiations is going on with countries. My belief is that once the aircraft is in the air we shall find a very considerable difference in the attitude of other airlines to this remarkable achievement.

Do the ships mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman in his welcome statement include naval vessels?

The matters which I discussed with the Iran Government were concerned wholly with civil trade.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am most anxious not to encroach on Private Members' time, but the Secretary of State's statement could perfectly well have been made yesterday when he was in the House to answer Questions.

Bill Presented


Mr. Secretary Benn, supported by the Prime Minister, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Secretary Foot, Mr. Secretary Varley, Mr. Secretary Ross, Mr. Secretary John Morris, Mr. Secretary Rees, Mr. Fred Peart, Mr. Eric S. Heffer, Mr. Gregor Mackenzie and Mr. Michael Meacher presented a Bill to establish a National Enterprise Board; to confer on the Secretary of State power to prohibit the passing to persons not resident in the United Kingdom of control of undertakings engaged in manufacturing industry, and power to acquire compulsorily the capital or assets of such undertakings where control has passed to such persons or there is a probability that it will pass; to amend the Industry Act 1972 and the Development of Inventions Act 1967; to make provision for the disclosure of information relating to manufacturing undertakings to the Secretary of State or the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and to trade unions; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time upon Monday next and to be printed. [Bill 73.]

Statutory Instruments


That the draft Diseases of Animals (Northern Ireland) Order 1975 be referred to a Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments.—[Mr. James A. Dunn.]

Orders Of The Day

Local Lotteries Bill

Order for Second Reading read.

11.15 am

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

As the Long Title shows, the Bill authorises local authorities to promote lotteries. The House will recognise the Bill. It is in exactly the same terms as the Bill which was fully debated in the last Parliament. It passed through all its stages in this House and was given a provisional Second Reading in another place. I confidently say that had not a General Election intervened the Bill would have been on the statute book by now. The fact that the law forbids local authorities from running lotteries comes as a complete surprise to many people. They have said to me, "Why cannot the democratically locally elected council be allowed to raise money for desirable purposes, such as improvements of the town, by a form of contribution so plainly acceptable to the majority of the public?"

The Bill seeks to remove the anomalous legal restrictions on local authorities to manage the affairs and revenue of their localities in that way. Thereby it offers a significant relief to the hard-pressed ratepayers. Both Houses of the last Parliament recognised the value of the proposed legislation. This House gave the Bill a Third Reading and in another place it was given a Second Reading postponed for six months.

The powers which the Bill gives would be given to all local authorities—metropolitan counties and non-metropolitan counties, metropolitan districts and non-metropolitan districts, parishes in England and communities in Wales. It gives such councils power to promote lotteries not more frequently than once a month and amounting in gross proceeds to not more than the equivalent of 10 per cent. of the rateable value of the properties in the council's district or £6 million, whichever is the less. The limit of £6 million would apply only to some of the larger authorities, such as metropolitan counties.

The local council would draw up a scheme for running the lottery, subject to supervision by the Secretary of State, who is empowered by the Bill to make regulations for the administration of lotteries by the local councils and to scrutiny by the Gaming Board. The purpose of each lottery would have to be within the normal powers of the local council and the project to be supported by each lottery would have to be well publicised so that the public knew for what they were contributing.

I recognise that there is a need to reform the law on lotteries in other respects than in relation to local lotteries. My Bill allows clubs, institutions, organisations and associations established and conducted wholly or mainly for charitable purposes, for athletic sports or games or for cultural activities—indeed, any purposes which are not for private gain or commercial aims—in this easy and pleasant way to extract money from the public for a good and worthy cause.

The Second Reading of the previous Bill in another place was postponed because of a fear that local authorities would unreasonably compete with those voluntary associations in this form of money raising for good and worthy causes. I informed both Ministers on the Front Bench, the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department and the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment only a few weeks ago that I proposed at a later stage in the Bill, if Parliament so agreed, to meet that fear and to bring such voluntary and sporting organisations, cultural societies and so on within the terms of the Bill. I had in mind to make it mandatory on local authorities to devote, say, 50 per cent. of the proceeds to the causes espoused by these voluntary associations.

I am delighted to discover that the Government have relieved me of the difficulty of drafting clauses to that effect by producing their own drafting. The drafting of the government draftsmen is entirely acceptable to me and if the Government choose to put down amendments at a later stage on the voluntary associations matter I shall try to rally all my supporters to help them to get the amendments accepted.

The Government announced their intention on this matter in a strange way as I had already said that I wished to include this subject in my Bill. Two days ago the Government published their own Bill. I am not sure whether to call that discourtesy or just a childish game of yah-boo, but I would rather be kicked in the teeth by the Ministers now sitting on the Front Bench than by any other Ministers. They always take their shoes off before kicking me in the teeth and do it in the most kindly way. I hope that we shall be able to come to an arrangement about this in due course.

The situation now is that as the result of my efforts on this and the previous Bill the Government have acknowledged that local lotteries are acceptable to them and to the public. They have produced their own plans for the reform of the law of lotteries for local authorities and voluntary societies.

This is a Second Reading debate on my Bill and not on the Government's Bill, but to ascertain the Government's intentions I scanned their Bill. It was presented to the House two days ago—in fact, the printing was authorised at one moment and the Bill was ready printed in the Vote Office two minutes later, which was a brilliant illustration of speed and energy on the part of the Government. I scanned the Bill to see why the Government were so anxious to drive their own bandwagon instead of jumping on mine. There is plenty of room on mine, and I would welcome them on to it. Apart from one fundamental question, the differences between the two vehicles are reconcilable.

For example, the Government want to apply the reform to Scotland. I welcome Scotland into my Bill and the Government can put down an amendment to bring Scotland into it. The Government would allow the lotteries to be run weekly instead of monthly. I was not so brave as to say weekly, but if the Government encourage me to allow lotteries weekly I am quite happy about that. The Government want the schemes to be registered with the Gaming Board. My Bill provides that the schemes should come under the scrutiny of the Gaming Board after they have been set up, and the Gaming Board can so report to the Secretary of State. I do not mind whether that is done before or after the scheme is set up. It must be scrutinised and supervised by the Gaming Board in some way.

My Bill gives the Secretary of State power to lay down the administration of lotteries by regulation. The Government wish to set out in legislation a great many of those regulations. That is splendid. I am glad that they have advanced so far in acceptance of the principle, and in the administration of the principle in practice, as to write down the details of administration in their Bill.

There is one exception—"ay, there's the rub". I have been anxious to make local lotteries a real addition to local revenue and thereby a significant relief to ratepayers. I do not think that that will happen under the Government Bill in which the limits are restricted to £520,000 a year from any one council's lotteries spread over that year. My figure for the larger authorities is £6 million and for any other authority 10 per cent. of rateable value.

That point is one which can be dealt with in Committee.

The hon. and learned Gentleman, as usual, reads my mind. I am coming to that later, if he will be patient.

Although the mathematics can be worked out in various ways, I think that a greater sum could be raised on my limits of 10 per cent. on the rateable value of £6 million, whichever is the lesser figure, than the £520,000 for any local authority in the Government's proposals. The Government and I are so close that there is only a difference between us on that one matter.

Neither of the Under-Secretaries has a good poker face. They cannot put on a disguise and pretend that they have not organised the payroll to come in and vote my Bill down just because of that one difference. They cannot disguise the fact that they have organised their back benchers to talk the Bill out if I insist on proceeding with it. Why should we play this silly little game? Why do the Government want to defeat the Bill?

In my constituency last weekend I saw a performance by an amateur operatic society of "Pirates of Penzance". We know that the payroll is hidden away upstairs, like the policeman in "Pirates of Penzance", to be brought in to defeat the pirates. I do not particularly want to be the chief pirate but I am sure that the payroll is sitting there saying:
"When constabulary duty's to be done, to be done,
The policeman's lot is not a happy one."
I am sure that the payroll supports the principle of the Bill and would not wish to defeat it on such a small point.

The right hon. Gentleman should recognise that in my party the payroll does some strange things at times.

I have always thought that the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling), whom upstairs on the Finance Bill we have come to know as "Plumstead man", was a member of the establishment and that he would possibly support the payroll. I am glad to have his support for me and not for the payroll today.

I have not said that I will support the right hon. Gentleman. All I am saying is that "Friday Members" come to listen to the arguments now and again.

I have put forward the arguments today. The arguments deployed on previous occasions in many debates on the earlier legislation need not be rehearsed again. The whole principle has been accepted by the Government, and I am pleased that that has happened. All they have to do now, to allow other private Members to proceed with their Bills, is to give an undertaking that they will produce amendments to my Bill, or give an assurance that if I produce them they will not oppose such amendments and will leave it to a later stage to fight on this single point of the amount.

My right hon. Friend said that there was one point of difference between the two pieces of legislation, but I would remind him that there is another substantial difference in that his Bill, as it stands, is limited to local authorities, whereas the Government's Bill clearly attempts to cover the whole field. Do I take it that he is intending to widen his Bill to allow all charities or cultural bodies to take advantage of the proposals which he wants to apply to local authorities?

I think my hon. and learned Friend must have been too busy writing his own notes in opposition to my Bill to have heard me say that in my Bill I intended to accommodate voluntary associations. The Government have drafted some very nice clauses for this to be done. I accept those clauses entirely and I would take them as an amendment into my Bill.

I was tempted on this occasion, having been successful in the Ballot, to introduce exactly the same Bill so that I might use, if necessary, the provisions of the Parliament Act 1911. That would mean that if the Bill went through this House in exactly the same form, it would go to another place and could not be delayed there for more than a month before going for Royal Assent. The effect of taking such a constitutional point would have been to force the Government to make concessions, but I do not seek to take it. I believe that we should be wasting the time of the House if we attempted to debate at length a measure which has already been debated in a previous Parliament and which has been debated between the two Front Benches and on which any points that remain can be fought out in Committee.

I make that offer, and ask the House to give the Bill a Second Reading.

11.35 a.m.

I must congratulate the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) on his uncanny success in the Ballot for private Members' Bills—[An HON. MEMBER: "It's a lottery!"] Exactly.

This is not the first time that we have discussed the right hon. Gentleman's views on lotteries. The Government made very clear their opposition to his earlier proposals at the time. We attempted to amend them in Committee and on Report but, failing that, we were forced to vote against the Third Reading of the Bill. I am afraid that the passage of time has not helped the situation. The proposals in the Bill remain, in our view, seriously objectionable.

Superficially, the Bill has a certain attractiveness. It mentions large sums of money and may seem to offer the promise of raising substantial revenue in a pleasant and painless way. Anybody who objects can look doctrinaire or killjoy, or both. But the truth is that there are objections of a real and practical kind.

The promise of the Bill as a revenue-raising measure has been exaggerated, as the hon. and learned Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle) pointed out. The consequences for voluntary organisations already in the lottery field could be extremely serious and, as has also been pointed out, there is no mention at all in the Bill of those voluntary organisations or of charity or sport. The proposals in the Bill, therefore, are infinitely less realistic than those in the Government's own Lotteries Bill.

Will the Minister direct our attention to the fact that it was not made clear by my right hon. Friend when moving his Bill that all the euphoria about the benefits to the ratepayers will be rapidly dispelled when it dawns on the Press and on local authorities, who do not seem to have realised it yet, that 40 per cent. of all money contributed will go in betting duty?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for pointing that out. I was about to come to that point, but I am glad that he emphasised it to the House.

We believe that the proposals in the hon. Gentleman's Bill are at variance with those in our Bill. The provisions in his Bill would allow any local authority, ranging from the Greater London Council and the City of London to small parish councils and community councils, to run lotteries not more frequently than once a month and subject to a maximum annual turnover of one-tenth of total rateable value—that is the figure which is important—or £6 million, whichever is the less. These provisions would, in theory, enable a large number of local authorities to run lotteries of a considerable size.

Since in the Government's proposals exactly the same local authorities are to be given permission to run lotteries, I cannot see what the hon. Lady is complaining about.

As the hon. Gentleman said earlier, we are discussing scale, which is one of the great differences between his Bill and the Government's Bill. The other difference is the omission in the right hon. Gentleman's proposals of sports, charities and other organisations. That is why I emphasise that the upper limit of £6 million would apply to all local authorities with a rateable value in excess of £60 million. We estimated at the time of the right hon. Gentleman's earlier Bill that there were over 40 such authorities with an annual turnover of £240 million. There would still remain 8,000 authorities who could run lotteries on a smaller scale, and it has been estimated that the possible total annual turnover would be £1,000 million. It is a huge sum and compares with the current football pool turnover of a little over £200 million. This is about 10 per cent. of the total spent on gambling.

My right hon. Friend has limited his Bill first to county councils and secondly to district councils. The Government's Bill, however, appears to cover anything, including any parish, and therefore very small bodies. I draw the Minister's attention to the fact that it might be much wiser to restrict the measure in the way my right hon. Friend has in mind and then go for a higher scale. One would have a smaller number, but the district councils and counties would take the benefit.

I think the right hon. Gentleman would agree that his Bill covers everything from the Greater London Council and the City of London to the parish councils and community councils.

Both Bills apply to exactly the same authorities, from counties down to parishes. But the point made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Thanet, West (Mr. Rees-Davies) was that in the Government proposals the limit is £500,000 a year, which applies to parishes as well as to counties. Therefore, the amount that could be raised is about 1,200 times £500,000—about £600 million, which is not so far off what the Minister talks of as the £1,000 million in my Bill.

All the estimates that we have made about the possible consequences of the right hon. Gentleman's Bill, taking into account the scale that he proposes—he does not give many details of figures, but £6 million is the figure in the Bill—show that the scale would lead to stultifying competition and the failure of many of the smaller schemes to make any profit. At one end of the scale large local authorities would be running more successful lotteries and at the other end the smaller parish councils would be competing against them. It would lead to harassment and confusion of the general public, who would be faced with this terrific range of choice.

I should emphasise that when we speak of scale, it is in the interests of the public, of the local authorities promoting lotteries, and of the good causes mentioned in our Bill which are not mentioned in the right hon. Gentleman's Bill. We cannot consider lotteries in isolation. They are a form of gambling, and must therefore be considered in the context of the whole of the gambling law.

The broad philosophy of the gambling law today is that it should interfere as little as possible with the freedom of the individual to gamble but should impose controls on those who promote gambling to prevent fraud and abuse and excessive stimulation of gambling. The strictness of these controls are on lotteries. Tens of thousands of small societies are registered with local authorities to run lotteries within the limits at present laid down. The limits on scale operate to prevent any excessive stimulation of the total volume of gambling. The gambling market is strictly regulated. All evidence and experience suggests that lotteries must be limited either in scale or in number. The right hon. Gentleman's Bill does neither.

Lotteries are not an economical form of raising large sums of money, as the right hon. Gentleman rightly pointed out. First, the prizes offered have to be attractive if people are to buy tickets. The expenses of promotion, advertising, printing and distribution are very heavy. This puts the right hon. Gentleman's proposals in a new light, because the Bill does not offer easy money. It offers local authorities the opportunity to enter a market which is not capable of infinite exploitation. The smaller local authorities are likely to go to the wall in the face of the larger local authorities, because heavy expenditure will be involved. This is all for the sake of a small and unreliable income.

More serious than the possible disappointments in store for local authorities would be the consequences for voluntary organisations.

Would not the hon. Lady's argument apply even more to the Government's Bill? The expenses are likely to be a higher proportion when the total proceeds raised are to be smaller.

I appreciate and have considered that point. If the total sums involved are larger, expenses will probably be much larger in proportion, and the return possibly not so economical. This is not a vitally important matter, but I thought that I should refer to it.

The consequences are more serious for charities, football clubs and other organisations which promote good causes. They run small lotteries under the existing law, which will not be affected by the right hon. Gentleman's Bill but will be affected by the Government's Bill, because we are proposing to raise the scale. Under the right hon. Gentleman's Bill small lotteries would have to be run in the same way as now, but in competition with the large-scale lotteries to be run by local authorities.

Small lotteries have strict controls. Turnover must not exceed £750 weekly, the price of a ticket may not exceed 5p, and no prize may exceed £100 in value. The Government propose to make substantial increases in these limits, to which I shall refer later. However, the Bill that we are considering today would, I think—as do the charity organisations and sports interests—inflict irreparable damage on many of these voluntary societies which have been running lotteries for many years. Often they depend for their existence wholly or mainly on the income from lotteries. If local authorities were to run lotteries on the scale proposed, the competition would inevitably attract people away from the small lotteries.

I turn now to the important point concerning the position of Football League clubs. The House knows that these clubs will shortly be faced with extra expenses under the provisions of the Safety of Sports Grounds Bill when it goes through the House. The vast majority of clubs are already running lotteries which make important contributions to their incomes. The Government want to enable them to increase their turnover and revenue. Under our proposals it should be possible for many clubs to double or treble their incomes very quickly, as the machinery is already there. We hope that this will be of considerable help to them in meeting the extra expenses that they will have to face. The clubs have welcomed our proposals.

This is an important point. As I read the Government's proposals, they would apply only to voluntary associations, not to those for private gain or commercial objects. The Football League clubs run their bingo, and so on, for commercial gain. Therefore, I doubt whether they would benefit under the Governments' proposals. If the Government propose that they should benefit by running lotteries for more than the present £750, all well and good. I should like that point made clear here and now.

The football and sports interests to whom we talked welcome the Government's proposals for these types of lotteries and the fact that we are raising the scale.

Is not the answer to my right hon. Friend's intervention that all sporting purposes are specifically covered in the Government's Bill, in Clause 1(2)(b) and that the limitation that it shall not cover any commercial undertaking in subsection 2(c) does not apply to any undertaking specifically referred to in paragraph (a) or (b)? All sports clubs, whether commercial or voluntary, would appear to be covered by the Government's Bill.

I assure the House that the sports grounds with which we are concerned will definitely be covered by our Bill. That was one reason for bringing in the Bill quickly. We have been accused of having ulterior motives, but the Safety of Sports Grounds Bill is due to go through the House and we are anxious, if possible, to provide some additional form of revenue to help those clubs.

When the right hon. Gentleman's proposals were last before the House the Government were engaged in consultations about the report of the Interdepartmental Working Party on Lotteries, which was presented to Parliament at the end of 1973. Our Lotteries Bill is based very much on the recommendations of the working party, which recommended that the limits of small lotteries, charitable, sporting and other purposes, should be raised—we are doing that in our Bill; the right hon. Gentleman is not—and that local authorities should be allowed to run lotteries, but only within the same limits. The right hon. Gentleman's Bill does not do that. Those recommendations have been incorporated in the Government's Bill. That is in total contrast to the Bill before us today, which does not raise the limits for small lotteries but allows local authority lotteries to be run in competition on a far greater scale.

The Government accept the principle that local authorities should be able to raise funds for deserving causes, but only on the basis of parity of opportunity. On that basis, public support will go to the cause to benefit, and not only to the promised prize. In our Bill the maximum turnover for all lotteries will be £10,000 a week and the maximum for a single prize, for a weekly lottery, will be £1,000. Such limits would represent a considerable increase over existing limits, but they should allow both voluntary organisations and local authorities to benefit from lotteries without prejudice to anyone and without the serious consequences which we think the right hon. Gentleman's Bill would involve.

Perhaps the hon. Lady will apply her mind to the local authority, for example, which wants to undertake a specific project. I understand that it is the Government's view that there should not be a pure lottery but a lottery only for something which the local people specially want. For example, they may want a swimming pool. In those circumstances it would be necessary to get £200,000 or £250,000. It might well be that a lot more money would be needed. The total could be £300,000. The local people would probably be perfectly content if the money were obtained within a reasonable time. That is the way to approach scale. Let us say that a reasonable time would be a year. The people may not want to have a weekly lottery. They may want it to be held monthly. It may be that many people would take that view. There should be a sort of scale that would enable a local authority—for example, a district council—to carry out the type of project that it wants. Such a project might be a swimming pool worth about £250,000. It would have to undertake that project out of its share of about 50 per cent. That is the way in which we should approach scale. Have the Government tried to consider scale, along the lines suggested by my right hon. Friend?

I can see that point. We do not see why the small parish council or the Spastics Society, for example, should be swamped in its efforts by some magnificent lottery run by the Greater London Council. We want to see parity. That seems to be the fair and just way in which to proceed.

I now turn to the strange remarks of the right hon. Gentleman. He appreciated that there is no mention of sports or charities in his Bill. He said that he would meet the fear that has been expressed. That struck me as a very strange remark. If he genuinely wants to assist charities and sport, why has he not put such a provision in his Bill? The House could then have discussed his proposals and it would have had his proposals written into the Bill in front of it. Instead of that he is asking us to support his Bill with the dubious undertaking that charities and other organisations will at some later date be covered in his Bill.

The right hon. Gentleman seems to be saying "Support my Bill. It is not just as I would like it and it is not just as you might like it, but I am hoping to meet your fear later. I cannot promise I will do so, I cannot give a 100 per cent. guarantee, but please accept my Bill as it stands." Is that a correct interpretation?

I do not like the phrases "dubious undertaking". I thought that I gave a firm undertaking that I would accept amendments exactly along the lines of the Government's Bill.

Everyone knows that the progress of a Private Member's Bill is dubious.

The Government does not know what might happen in Committee, on Report, on Third Reading, or in another place. To say to the House of Commons on Second Reading "Accept my Bill and I shall arrange to accept amendments" seems to be a strange attitude. If the right hon. Gentleman feels that his Bill needs an extra provision for charities and sport—I take that view strongly—he should have put it in his Bill.

I am sorry to keep interrupting the hon. Lady. She is gracious in allowing me to do so. Perhaps I may turn the argument round the other way. If I accept the Government's Bill will they accept amendments to limit the figures?

I can only return to what I have already said. The Government have a Bill which we believe is extremely good in terms of scale and in terms of sport and charities. The House has a Bill before it which will cover all those maters. The Bill that we are now considering is grossly deficient in those respects. Even if I stopped to argue the point that is not in the right hon. Gentleman's Bill but which might be in it at a later stage, it still seems that the right hon. Gentleman is saying that half the annual income from local lotteries will be dispensed to sporting and charitable concerns by the local authorities. That puts local authorities in the difficult position of having to choose between all the sporting and charitable interests which might want some of the 50 per cent. There is no guarantee that sports grounds would benefit under the scheme. That is an important part of our case.

Those organisations would also find that their independent fund-raising capacity would be damaged or destroyed by that possible amendment to the right hon. Gentleman's Bill.

I must put one fundamental question to the hon. Lady. Is it the Government's intention to bring forward a further Bill on lotteries, or is it their intention that the Bill that they have now produced is to take the place of the Pools Competitions Act 1971. The hon. Lady will remember that the working party of the Home Office specifically recommended that large-scale lotteries for charitable purposes should have no monetary control on the amount that could be obtained by the lotteries.

Yes, as the hon. and learned Gentleman points out, we have adopted the working party's recommendations for the first tier lotteries, namely, the smaller lotteries. We hope at a later stage to deal with what the working party called the second tier of lotteries. That legislation will be complicated and we want to get it just right before we bring it in.

May I have an assurance that before the Government bring such far-reaching proposals before the House we shall for the first time have a chance to debate the working party's report?

As I said, we are not rushing in to legislate for the second tier. There are different views on the matter, and it is a complicated one. I shall refer the point about a debate to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House.

My hon. Friend anticipated the point that I wanted to raise. I was going to ask for some assurance that there would be an opportunity to debate the matter before legislation is introduced.

In conclusion, the Government have made it clear from the outset that they believe that the right hon. Gentleman's Bill is not only ill-conceived but positively damaging in respect of scale. Our attitude has been consistent throughout. By limiting itself to local authorities the Bill falls far short of the changes needed in lottery law. It is discriminatory in its effect and seriously prejudicial to the chances of charity and sport. It compares most unfavourably with the Government's Bill, and I must ask the House to reject it.

11.59 a.m.

I, too, congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Page), as did the Under-Secretary, first, on his winning streak in your own privately-run Ballot, Mr. Deputy Speaker and, second on the clarity with which he presented his Bill to the House. The House is enormously indebted to my right hon. Friend for his persistence in keeping this subject before us. He clearly has enormous expertise in this area, and if ever a Private Member's Bill deserved to be successful, it is his.

I must say to the Minister that that is one reason why we find the behaviour of the Home Office so extraordinary in this matter. Last Friday the Government did not reveal their intention on another Private Member's Bill until the very last minute. This week they have, without warning, come forward with a Bill of their own, covering the same area, only two days before this debate. The House should either be given the opportunity of a debate or at least warned of the Government's intention.

What is also most extraordinary is that I have a copy of a letter which the Department sent out to local authorities on 19th December 1974, which clearly states the Government's intention to allow local authorities to hold lotteries. The Government's intention is put forward in that letter to local authorities, although not in any communication to the House, and proposals on how this should be done. Nor is this the end of the matter, because the Home Office asked at that time for observations on their proposals, and yet now, only three or four weeks later, we have the Government's Bill being proposed. I suggest that, once more, the Home Office has failed properly to inform the House of its intention. Its own Bill has been pushed forward at a breakneck speed in an attempt to wreck the legislation of a private Member.

The position today is that although we are debating my right hon. Friend's Bill we are also being urged by the Government to consider it in relation to their own proposals. It is my view that, presented with this choice, my right hon. Friend's Bill deserves the support of the House. Over the last 15 years a big gambling industry has been established. We have football pools, betting shops, bingo halls and gambling clubs. It is an industry with a combined turnover of over £2,300 million a year. In effect, the decision on the principle of gambling has been taken.

In Britain we have a system in which gambling is legal but is controlled by bodies such as the Gaming Board. For a long time I have taken the view that the controls should be extended with a more general gambling board. It is true, also, that lotteries will add to the gambling turnover, and that there must be a system of control. But what is also true is that lotteries, as envisaged by my right hon. Friend's Bill, and, indeed, by the Government's Bill, have the capacity to produce proceeds for the public good. The bodies which will benefit under both proposals are local authorities, charities, societies and sporting organisations. We believe that lotteries should be able to provide resources in both these major areas.

What does the hon. Member mean by "we"? Is there a Whip on the Opposition side?

There is no Whip on this side, unlike, I understand, the Government side. The support that is now being given—[interruption.] If the hon. Member will let me finish he may intervene again—is given by private Members, on the Opposition side of the House, not responding to a Whip. I withdraw "we" and insert "I". Let me assert to the hon. Gentleman, whom we are always glad to see here on a Friday, that the support which comes from the Opposition side is genuine support. It is a genuine interest, and has not been produced by a Whip.

I do not come here on a Friday on a Whip. I am here every Friday, unlike the hon. Gentleman. I have been coming here on Fridays ever since I became a Member of the House, and before the hon. Gentleman was a Member—

Order. There is no need for heat over this. Unfortunately, I am here every Friday.

It might also be said, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that I am here on many Fridays.

If I may return to the subject matter we are discussing on this particular Friday, I was saying that I support the view that lotteries should provide resources for the public good. We all know that local authorities have great concern about the upward spiral in rates. It is a feeling which goes across the nation and, I think, across parties. I do not pretend that lotteries are any solution to this problem, but finance raised in this way can be used for valuable local projects. Equally, it is clearly important that charities should be able to raise money in this way, particularly at a time when outright donations are becoming more difficult to obtain.

These are the two major objectives, and it is by those objectives that the two Bills should be compared.

Is the hon. Member telling us that there is strong support in the Conservative Party for this most unsound method of local government finance—immoral as it is? Is he really telling us that this recycling of money in the community, with the considerable administrative expense entailed, is adding in any way to the sum of money available to do the things that are necessary in local government?

I do not think that the hon. Gentleman can have heard what I said, so I will repeat it. I do not pretend that lotteries are any solution to the problem, but finance raised in this way can be used for valuable local projects.

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman has read the Labour Party's evidence given to the Layfield Committee. If he has done so he will have found that in that the Labour Party is recommending lotteries as a source of finance for local authorities.

Indeed, I shall come to another point about other evidence which has been presented by the Labour Party. But perhaps I may continue, rather than debating the Labour Party's view. Clearly one recognises that there are deeply felt private views—moral views—on this subject which cut across party divisions. There is no debate on that.

The hon. Gentleman has cleared up the point I wished to make. The Labour Party may have given evidence of that kind, but there is still room, I hope, within the Labour Party for people to express their own opinions about matters of this kind. Certainly, I would not support the evidence that was given.

I entirely accept that. We all know that various hon. Members have consistently held opinions on gambling which do not coincide with any party view. Indeed, it would be curious if there were such a thing as a party view on gambling. But what is important in this debate is to compare my right hon. Friend's proposals and the proposals put forward by the Minister in two respects: their effects upon local authorities and their effects upon charities and private organisations. My right hon. Friend's Bill lays down that the total proceeds of local lotteries promoted by one local authority should not exceed £6 million in one year. That is a substantial sum. But, given the budgets of some local authorities, it is not necessarily out of proportion. In fact, some local authorities argue that it is still on the low side. The Home Office's Bill, however, provides that local authorities shall be restricted to proceeds of £500,000.

At this stage of this Bill—although obviously I listened to what the hon. Lady said about her future intent—basically the Government's position goes back to their view in the last Parliament, when the hon. Lady argued exactly this case. That point has already been debated, and it was rejected by the previous Parliament.

If the test is that the local lottery should be of benefit to the local authority, there is no doubt which is the better scheme. The Home Office scheme is literally a non-starter, because several local authorities—perhaps many local authorities—will think that it is not worth the trouble of running a lottery.

If the hon. Lady thinks that I am exaggerating, I ask her to consult the Greater London Council—which, as she knows, is not under the control of the Conservative Party—and find out its views on the subject. The Greater London Council has said:
"The Council would not consider it worth while to set up a lottery on such a small scale as that envisaged in the Home Office proposals".
The council has also said:
"It would not be worth the time and effort involved for the Council or perhaps for any other large authority to set up the machinery (involving staff time, computer use, etc.) for lotteries with turnovers of such modest proportions."
The Greater London Council has its views about the financial limits of my right hon. Friend's Bill, but it clearly rejects the Government's plans as inadequate. I imagine that many other large councils will take that view. Councils such as Birmingham would find it not worth while to proceed with lotteries of that kind.

The hon. Gentleman appears to be quoting from something which he said was a GLC document. I have in my hand the memorandum of evidence presented to the Layfield Committee. It was published only on 28th January. Is the hon. Gentleman quoting from that? There is reference in the memorandum of evidence to the question of lotteries

It is exactly from that document that I quote. I shall give the hon. Gentleman the page number so that he can find it. He will find that on page 7, paragraph 15, of its observations on the local Lotteries Bill the GLC states:

"The Council would not consider it worthwhile to set up a lottery on such a small scale as that envisaged in the Home Office proposals".
If the hon. Gentleman goes backwards from there, he will find the other observations of the GLC. I hope that that helps him.

I am slightly at a loss to help him any further.

Secondly, there is the question of benefits to charities, to societies, and to sporting organisations. We on the Opposition side—or should I say I and, I am sure, my hon. Friends—would want to see a benefit going to such organisations and would not want to see them harmed. I think that my right hon. Friend has made his intentions absolutely clear on this point. He has already put to the hon. Lady what he intends to do in his Bill and the kind of amendment that he would have liked to see introduced in the Lords. At least my right hon. Friend informed the right hon. Gentleman of what his intention was, even if the hon. Lady did not inform my right hon. Friend, and he said that half the proceeds under his Bill would go to such purposes.

I bear in mind what the hon. Lady says. I believe that the Government are falling between two stools. They have not accepted the interdepartmental report. They are putting forward a proposal which does not deal with large lotteries. Therefore, the hon. Lady cannot claim that she is backed by the interdepartmental report.

The scheme that the Home Office is putting before us gives no advantage to the national charities, and is subject to all the disadvantages that apply to local authorities.

In conclusion, on one side we may have right hon. Friend's proposals, which have already gone through the House, which would help local authorities, which would provide resources for charities, societies and sporting organisations, and from which the public would be able to see some benefit. On the other side, we have the Government's Bill, which has been proposed abruptly by the Home Office, which is rejected by the local authorities that it seeks to help, and which adds very little does very little for charities.

I submit that, given the choice, it is not very difficult. The Home Office has again set out to wreck a Private Member's Bill. I think it will be the view of both sides of the House that it does not deserve to succeed.

12.15 p.m.

In view of the references we have had to the payroll vote and to the various activities of the Government Whips, I should declare my interest from the start. I have been for many years—indeed, I still am—a member of a local authority. I also spent 12 years as a Labour Party agent and in that time I ran rather more than my fair share of lotteries. Indeed, my standard of living depended very much on my expertise in these matters. Therefore, I claim some knowledge.

I have no objection in principle to local authorities running lotteries, indeed, I was responsible for giving the Labour Party's evidence to the Layfield Committee. However, our belief that local authorities ought to have the freedom to run lotteries was based very much more on a belief on greater freedom for local councils than on any great love of lotteries in themselves.

I have three basic objections to the Bill. The first is the way in which it would confer on all classes of local authorities powers to run massive lotteries. The second is that because it takes lotteries in isolation, it elevates their importance far above what it should be as a contribution to the solution of the very real problems of local government finance.

The third objection—I believe—is that the sponsors of the Bill have totally overestimated the gains from local lotteries and have substantially under-estimated the practical problems involved. I challenge the suggestion we heard this morning that lotteries would provide significant relief to the hard-pressed ratepayer.

As we have heard, the Bill would confer upon every sort of authority, from the Greater London Council down to the tiniest parish council, the power to run lotteries. It even includes the Council of the Isles of Scilly, which was no doubt kindly put in for the Prime Minister's benefit. Those who know something about local government and who have had experience of the duplication of powers at more than one level of local government know that this can lead to unnecessary waste of effort and resources, and often to confusion in the minds of local residents.

As for the London situation, if the GLC were to launch a local lottery under the Bill—we have heard this morning that there seems to be some enthusiasm on the part of some members of the GLC, though whether it was shared by GLC officers I know not—in view of the friendly rivalry which exists between the GLC and the London boroughs it is very likely that at least some London borough councils would decide that if the GLC were creaming money from their ratepayers they would run lotteries themselves. One could have a situation in which the GLC and the London boroughs were all running massive lotteries at the same time.

Even the City of London might be tempted to run a lottery. It is always telling us how poor its ratepayers are. After all, the City of London has vast experience of running lotteries on the Stock Exchange, so it might become involved in the lottery game.

As we have heard already, we are talking about major lotteries, with a top whack of £6 million in the case of the GLC. Under the Bill, every London borough would be empowered to run lotteries with a pool of between £3 million and £4 million, calculated in accordance with the formula in Clause 1(1)(b).

The competition which might result in London alone—competition for sales outlets, battles on commission payments for sellers—would be phenomenal.

My second basic objection is that the whole approach to lotteries overestimates the importance of the contribution they can make to local government finance. I find little sign that local authorities are straining desperately at the leash, saying "Please let us run lotteries."

I point particularly to the lack of enthusiasm on the part of local authorities which have gone into this question and examined what practical problems are involved. In its evidence to the Layfield Committee, the Association of Metropolitan Authorities dismissed lotteries in the one sentence—
"Lotteries would not provide revenues of the order required."
The association represents the great metropolitan industrial cities in whose areas one might have thought that lotteries would be the most fruitful operation.

The GLC's evidence to the Layfield Committee was fairly optimistic. It said:
"The Council feels that although the revenue from lotteries is not great in comparison with London's total needs it is nevertheless significant and has considerable public relations benefits.
I was intrigued by the reference to public relations benefits. I can see that the winner of the first prize might be keen on the lottery, but the other millions who have contributed but have won nothing might have less regard for the authority running it.

In view of this enthusiasm, I looked at the GLC's draft evidence to Layfield on the financial calculations on which its reaction was based. This estimated that, in 1974–75, if it had had the power to run a local lottery there would have been a gross yield of £25 million. That was based on selling a 10p ticket on a weekly basis, which would involve sales of 5 million tickets a week. The mind boggles at the machinery involved in such a large operation. It would mean virtually every adult in greater London buying a ticket every week.

The net gain was put at only £5 million. In other words, only one-fifth of the total pool would be a contribution to the coffers of the local authority. That estimate was based on a weekly lottery, but the Bill would limit the lotteries to a monthly basis. Since one could hardly quadruple the cost of the ticket, one would have to divide by four the estimates of the GLC in order to work out the yield on a monthly lottery. This would reduce the gross yield to £6 million and the net yield to £1¼ million a year.

None of us would turn up our noses at that, but we must bear in mind that the total rate income of the GLC will be £740 million his year. I do not think that £1¼ million extra would remove the worried frown from the brow of the financial controller, or bring London's citizens dancing out into the street. Any detailed study of local authority lotteries shows very large costs of administration and collection. The London Boroughs Association highlighted this point by saying
"The problems presented by the need for innumerable distribution points, even on an agency basis, registration of numbers, advertising, security precautions and other administrative costs, would make this an expensive form of raising revenue."
That is the crucial factor.

The interdepartmental working party's report in December 1973 estimated that even on the basis of 40 per cent. of receipts going on prizes—this was estimated on the basis of the lowest foreign precedent—the administrative costs of a national lottery would be between 16 per cent. and 33 per cent. It may well be argued that on a local lottery basis the cost of administration would be less. I doubt it. I have long experience of local authority officers. They are good at drafting reports and servicing committees, but I doubt their expertise in the specialised world of lotteries, involving problems like the recruitment of salesmen, the payment of commission, sales promotion, and so on.

Some of us do not regard these pronouncements by the working party as ex cathedra. I remind the hon. Gentleman that some hon. Members know at least as much as the working party about these matters.

All I am saying is that local lotteries are not quite the soft option that some people suggest—that they are not quite the painless source of large extra sums of money for local authorities as is claimed. They would make a minimal contribution to local authority finances and involve substantial investment of manpower and resources which would be better spent elsewhere. They could divert public attention from the real and serious issues of local authority finance and debase the whole debate about the way in which we finance our local authority services into an argument in the local Press and among ratepayers about the running of raffles, bingo, lotteries, and so on. They could also raise false hopes in the minds of worried ratepayers that ventures of this sort would have a substantial impact on their total rate bill.

I have quoted evidence presented to Layfield by various local authority associations. It is clear that Layfield is looking at the question of local lotteries, along with all the other options involved. We cannot stop everything while we wait for the report, but why make a substantial departure at this stage, in advance of a report which we can expect later this year? I was briefly a member of the Layfield Committee and have given evidence before it. It is working very hard and is going deeply into the issues. It would be far better to await its report and give the whole question of the financing of local authority services the detailed consideration it deserves than to fall for a minor gimmick now. On those grounds, I oppose the Bill.

12.26 p.m.

I am happy to be a sponsor of the Bill. The House will pay tribute to the great work of my right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) for the cause of local government. I do not think that what he proposes raises the great problems which the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Cartwright) so long and eloquently described in explaining the difficulty of raising funds for the Labour Party through lotteries—and I do not wonder at that. This Bill is not a major proposal to relieve the afflicted ratepayer but a small step which could be of some considerable public benefit. That is why we put it forward.

The Under-Secretary of State spoke to us on the basis of figures which are out of date. The rate of inflation gallops on relentlessly and the areas available for finding new causes for gambling are unlimited. One would have thought, listening to the hon. Lady, that we were dealing with a fixed available sum which could be made available to good causes, whether local government or of charities—a sum fixed and immutable by some law of the Medes and the Persians. Especially with the present Chancellor of the Exchequer at the helm, that is a mad exaggeration of the true position.

I believe that the true position is that very large sums of money are available, and the question is how best they should be channelled into good causes through the machinery of the lottery, the tontine, or whatever one likes to call it. The Government have produced a very opportunist Bill trying to catch some of the support from clubs, football associations and so forth, which I believe should be given to my right hon. Friend's Bill. The Government's Bill would do two things for which I oppose it.

First, it would proliferate the potential number of lotteries—and the overheads of these lotteries are very large. The greater the proliferation, the less successful will be the movement. Therefore, there is a much stronger case than the hon. Lady made out for the larger lotteries. The fact that there would be larger lotteries would mean that they would push out the smaller lotteries. We have to deal with the reality of the situation, and that is that we want to use a system of lotteries for good causes in local government and for charities.

Therefore, there is a much stronger practical case for the Bill being put forward by my right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby than there is for the minnow of a Bill being put forward by the Government. My right hon. Friend has a whale of a Bill; the Government have produced a minnow to try to impede its regal progress.

My right hon. Friend has made an offer. He is a large man. He is generous. He is prepared to meet these tiny manœuvrings by the Government and suggests that, in a miracle of parliamentary osmosis, either the minnow should swallow the whale, or the whale should swallow the minnow, and that either the Government should accept our Bill and tack their Bill on to it by a series of amendments, or that we should accept the Government's Bill and change its nature by our amendments. In that way the hon. Lady and my right hon. Friend can reach reasonable agreement. Otherwise, we shall be forced to divide the House.

12.31 p.m.

Let me first declare an interest. In the nearly 30 years that I have been a Member, I have balloted regularly in order to introduce a Private Member's Bill, or a motion for a Monday or Thursday, but I have never yet been successful.

Secondly, let me make this preliminary remark. It is rather odd that the hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Fowler) should complain from the Opposition Front Bench about the conduct of the Government in this matter. Apparently the Government sent a circular to local authorities announcing their intention to introduce legislation about lotteries. That was in December, and in January they produced a Bill. I do not know what other Government could have acted so expeditiously in this matter, yet the hon. Member complains bitterly.

The Home Office sent a letter to local authorities on 19th December, just before Christmas, asking for their observations and those of other interests. The point that I was making was that that gave precious little time for the Government properly to consider any representations. I therefore cherish the slightly unworthy suspicion that perhaps the Home Office was pressed by other influences to bring forward its Bill with such speed.

We have had long talks, debates and consultations on this subject. It does not lie in the mouth of the hon. Gentleman to complain about the Government having acted so expeditiously: it is a good lesson for hon. Members opposite.

When in February 1968 my hon. Friend the Member for Redcar (Mr. Tinn) introduced his Bill for the promotion of a national lottery, I supported his efforts. That Bill secured a Second Reading. It was withdrawn on a promise by the then Government that they would introduce a measure in the Finance Bill to take the opinion of the House on a free vote.

It seems that nearly everyone now agrees that there ought to be lotteries. The right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) made no mention of the arguments on the other side, although we know that there is some sincere opposition to his Bill on moral grounds.

The Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for Redcar was withdrawn on that promise. Unfortunately, the relevant clause in the Finance Bill was defeated, in my view because of how it was framed. A considerable number of hon. Members took the view that it was wrong to divert any sums to the Consolidated Fund when they had been made available through a national lottery. However, there was a declaration by the House that it was not in favour of a lottery.

I supported the Bill introduced last year by the right hon. Member for Crosby. I note the change that he has made in the title by now calling it the Local Lotteries Bill and not the Local Revenue Bill. Frankly, I would have supported him today but for the Lotteries Bill now being introduced by the Government. I make it clear that there is no Whip on this side of the House and that we are all entirely free to express our views. But the Lotteries Bill introduced by the Government follows the line that I have always supported. The right hon. Member for Crosby may feel that the Government have spiked his guns, but it is a fact that a Government Bill has been introduced. I regard the debate today as a sort of preliminary canter to the debate on the Government's Bill.

I have said before that, although I recognise the sincerity of the views of those who oppose gambling on moral grounds, I regard much of the opposition as being hypocritical. The considerable sums spent on gambling show how much people in this country like a flutter, and, as long as it is kept on comparatively moderate lines and under strict supervision, I see nothing wrong with it. The only effect of trying to suppress it would be to drive it underground and that would mean that all sorts of unscrupulous methods would be used, with evil results.

I have long felt that it is wrong for private individuals to be able to make large fortunes out of pools, casinos, betting and the like while the State and local authorities may not do so. I appreciate that the State takes a share by way of taxation and benefits from football pools in that way.

The hon. and learned Gentleman objects to private individuals making a profit out of gambling whereas the State is denied that opportunity. Surely he is aware that the State makes far more money from gambling than does anybody else.

I went on to add—perhaps the hon. Gentleman did not hear—that I appreciated that the State took a share by way of taxation, and I know that it benefits from football pools. It may be a considerable sum but I wish that the State took even more. There can be no moral objection to the Bill, therefore, on that ground.

If the State can take taxation from gambling despite any moral objection to gambling, I do not see why the State and local authorities should not be permitted to run lotteries in order to raise money for worthy objects. Many worthy objects are calling for support. Ideally, the State should give that support, but we know that that cannot always be done and we know how limited the help that the State can give is, particularly in present economic conditions.

Medical research is of course of paramount importance and support for sport is necessary, but I am particularly interested in the help that can be given to the disabled. Section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 lays a duty on local authorities to provide services for the disabled. Let me take a rather small instance—the necessity to provide telephones for the disabled. I have had many sad and deserving cases in this respect alone.

Many local authorities, particularly my own, seek to spend as much as they can in serving the needs of the disabled, but they are severely handicapped by lack of funds. We know with the increasing burden of rates how difficult it is for the authorities to satisfy these needs to any great extent. The House will know that many local authorities have sought help in fulfilling these duties by asking for the provision of finance through lotteries, but we know that to date that opportunity has been denied them. The right hon. Member for Crosby, in his efforts last year and today, seeks to remedy that position. I strongly applaud his efforts because he seeks to obtain something which is long overdue. I think he has achieved his purpose in the fact that the Government have introduced a Bill.

Criticism can be made of some of the provisions of the Bill. It may be right to reject the limits placed on the value of prizes or on the total value of tickets sold, but those are matters which can be dealt with in Committee when we discuss the Government's Bill. I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on his efforts. He will doubtless note with pride and satisfaction that many of the words which he used in his Bill are contained in the Government's Bill. He should rest on his laurels. In view of the fact that the Government Bill adopts a view which I have always put forward, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will withdraw his Bill.

12.42 p.m.

It is always a great pleasure to follow in debate the hon. and learned Member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington (Mr. Weitzman). I agree with much that he said, although I cannot share his eulogy of the Government's Bill which I think, for many reasons, is a rather poor effort. The suggestion was made in the opening speeches that the Opposition supported the Bill. Much as I admire and respect the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page), I fear that I am not an avid supporter of his Bill.

While I respect the views of those who find moral objections to gambling, that is not an objection which I share. It is accepted throughout the country, as it was accepted with the introduction of the premium bond, that the State can involve itself in pursuing an interest in gaming shown among the people. Therefore, I have no basic objection to lotteries, and I find no moral objection to them. Indeed, I believe that there is a case for large-scale lotteries. I should like to think that part of the money spent on gambling today went to good causes generally rather than to commercial interests. The lottery is a perfectly legitimate way of raising money for a good cause in the widest sense.

However if there are to be lotteries, we have a responsibility to limit their number, first because if there is a proliferation of lotteries we undoubtedly give further encouragement to gambling. While I have said that I do not join those who have a clear moral objection to gambling, nevertheless I do not think we should encourage a great expansion in gambling. Secondly, we have a responsibility to limit the number of large lotteries, because to do otherwise would be counter-productive. With the proliferation of lotteries, the various bodies wishing to run lotteries will find that they receive less money from the lottery because of the number of lotteries taking place, and therefore no society will gain substantially from them. Therefore there is a clear case for large-scale lotteries. However, on the practical grounds of the encouragement of gambling, we should attempt to limit their number.

The hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Cartwright) pointed out that lotteries are not a very effective way of raising money, because a great proportion of the money raised goes in either expenses or prizes. I also oppose the Bill because I am opposed to each local authority holding its own lottery.

My first objection is to the Bill as it stands. My right hon. Friend has given various undertakings that if his Bill is read a Second Time he will amend it to include all the provisions regarding cultural, charitable and sporting activities, and the associations and societies which are referred to in the Govenment's Bill. I do not doubt my right hon. Friend's undertaking in any way, but we are debating the Local Lotteries Bill, which is clearly limited to establishing the right local authorities, and no one else, to hold to run large-scale lotteries. If my right hon. Friend wishes to amend that Bill in Committee he will have to amend the Long and Short Titles because an amendment of that significance would be outside the Long Title of his Bill.

My reason for opposing the right of local authorities, and not one else, to hold large-scale lotteries is that I believe that it would work against the interests of various charities and other bodies who receive at least part of their income through small lotteries, inadequate as their level may be. My right hon. Friend says he will amend the Bill so that all societies mentioned in the Government's Bill will be able to take advantage of his Bill, and therefore presumably to run lotteries of up to a maximum turnover of £6 million a year.

If my right hon. Friend does that, he falls foul of my second objection. It seems to me that he then leaves no control over the number of such lotteries. He will allow every local authority, society, district, county and parish to hold lotteries. He will allow every society, however limited, to run a large-scale lottery. He attempts to put no geographical limitation on the area in which tickets can be sold. He puts no limitation on the need for the society or club promoting the lottery on a nationwide scale to have nationwide support. Therefore the effect would be that, under the Bill as my right hon. Friend says he will amend it, any club, society or local authority down to a parish would have the right to promote large-scale lotteries throughout the country.

I believe that that would offend, because the number of lotteries would become such as to encourage further gambling, and secondly the lotteries would become highly counter-productive for any of the bodies which attempted to raise money in that way.

While there may be an argument in favour of local authorities having the right to run lotteries on a geographical basis, why, as I walk down the streets of London, should I be asked to buy tickets for a Walsall local lottery, a Stoke-on-Trent local lottery, a Manchester local lottery, a Runcorn local lottery, or whatever other local lottery it may be? I fear that that would be the effect of the Bill if amended in the way proposed by my right hon. Friend. It would mean that one would receive continual requests to enter large-scale lotteries by various bodies, societies and groups, many of whose interests were purely of a local nature and limited to one geographical locality, yet selling the tickets throughout the country.

Therefore, both as it stands, because it would give a monopoly to local authorities, and as my right hon. Friend proposes to amend it, because he would attempt no control over the number of bodies which could run lotteries, I regret to say that I find my right hon. Friend's Bill unacceptable.

I turn my attention to the Government's Bill, and here I part company with the hon. and learned Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington, who praised the Government's Lotteries Bill. With respect to the absent Home Office Ministers and those who advise them, I believe that they have committed the disastrous error of falling between two stools. They had presented to them the report of a working party set up by my right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Carr) when he was Home Secretary, which reported during the period in office of the last Government. It made two clear recommendations. The first was that large-scale lotteries should be allowed, but only for cultural, sporting or charitable purposes and where the purpose for which it was run was one which had support throughout the country. In other words, the spastics organisation or some similar body could run a large-scale lottery, whereas a local fishing club could not. Secondly, it said that bodies which wished to run small lotteries found that the present limits were too low and it proposed that they should be raised to take account of the fall in the value of money which had occurred.

Having received those two quite distinct proposals, the Government have muddled them up. Instead of merely raising the financial levels of small lotteries, as the working party recommended—it recommended a turnover of £3,750, though possibly £5,000 would have been a better figure—they have brought in this very complicated Bill, the effect of which is to say that it will be permissible to run a lottery limited to a turnover of £10,000 a week and that, if it is proposed only to have one a year, it shall be limited to a turnover of £40,000. In addition, they have brought in all the paraphernalia whereby any society which wishes to run a small lottery has to apply to the Gaming Board, and so on. All that could have been avoided merely by raising the financial limits under the existing Lotteries Act as recommended by Home Office working party.

If we are talking about a local lottery or one run by a small local society, I think that the limit of £40,000 is too high. Clearly the present limit of £750 is too low. Probably the working party did not take sufficient account when it set the limit at £3,750. But I think that £40,000, or £500,000 a year, is too high.

The Government's Bill does not meet the need for the large-scale lottery, and, as I understood the reply of the Under-Secretary to my intervention earlier in the debate, the Home Office proposes at a later stage to introduce a second Bill. It will need to do so, because the Pools Competition Act, with which I had something to do in the life of the previous administration, runs out next year. That was a Bill which had to be carried through at short notice to save bodies such as those aiding the spastics from financial disaster.

I do not believe that the limit in this Bill of a turnover of £10,000 on a weekly lottery will be sufficient to meet the type of turnover that the Government envisage in their pools competition legislation. So, in the end, we shall have this Government Bill, which is a muddle because it tries to do both things and sets up the necessity to go to the Gaming Board, and then the Government will have to bring in another large-scale lotteries Bill to safeguard the position of the spastics organisation and the other bodies covered by the Pools Competition Act. At some stage, the Government will have to face the thorny, prickly, politically very difficult and possibly unpopular issue of what, if anything, is to be done about commercial pools if large-scale charitable lotteries are to be allowed the chance to live alongside them.

Therefore, although I cannot support my right hon. Friend's Bill, for the reasons that I have expressed, equally I cannot agree with those who think that the present Home Office effort is any better.

12.56 p.m.

I am opposed to this Bill and the Government's Bill on moral grounds. I do not intend to weary hon. Members with a long lecture about the evils of gambling, because they have heard it all before and I have no doubt that they would attempt to rebut my argument by saying that there is so much gambling in society already that matters have gone too far to try to do anything about them now.

We have been given figures showing how much is gambled on football pools and in society generally. Despite all the gambling that goes on and despite the fact that the Exchequer already has considerable revenue from gambling, I object to this further extension of it.

I have a little experience of local government, and I find it disappointing that this Bill is being promoted a second time by the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) for whom I have the highest regard both as a person and because of his deep knowledge of local government. I spent many long hours in the Standing Committee which considered the legislation to re-organise local government when the right hon. Gentleman was the Minister responsible. I was very impressed by his knowledge of local government. Probably he is as well versed in it as anyone in the House. Throughout our proceedings in Committee, no matter what tricky questions we asked the right hon. Gentleman always had the answers. It is very disappointing that he should think this a suitable method of raising local authority finance.

Having said that I am against his Bill on moral grounds, I suppose that I ought not to go into its details. However, we had from my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Cartwright) a very impressive rebuttal of the argument that it will help local authority finance. He made it quite clear that the amount of relief to ratepayers would be marginal. There is no doubt, however, that the feeling of people who read about this proposal is that it will relieve the burden of rates on them to the extent of 50 per cent. We know that that is out of the question, because of the limits set by the Bill on the amounts which may be raised by this method.

If we are really interested in local government, we ought to get down to the basic principles of the way in which it should be financed. I charge the Conservative Party with having got its priorities wrong when it reorganised local government before it reorganised local government finance. Although the reorganisation is working quite well in the area which I represent—in the greater Manchester area it is working better than I dared hope when we considered the previous administration's Bill—everyone involved in local government knows that the greatest problem is the level of rates. We must obviously do something about it, but it is wrong to use that concern to justify a Bill to extend gambling.

Gambling does not produce a penny of extra revenue; it merely recycles the money, and it costs people in the community more money to finance its administration organisation. Money is drawn from the community in the same way as rates, and people are falsely lulled into the belief that they are getting something for nothing. That is the great drawback of gambling. We hear that people like a flutter and that therefore they should have the opportunity, but this liking for a flutter is found mainly among the poorer people, because it is one way of solving their financial problems. Those who put 20p a week into a football pool are hoping to win £500,000 to take them out of their miseries to a higher standard of living than they could achieve in any other way. It is wrong to encourage that belief and doubly wrong to introduce the principle into local government.

As one who gave a little service to local government, I came here determined to sustain and encourage good local government. The Bill will undermine it. For once, the right hon. Member for Crosby is wrong in his assessment of what is best for local government. I appreciate that he is acting from the best of motives, but I appeal to him not to proceed with the Bill; it can only do harm to what he holds so dear—good local government.

1.2 p.m.

One always respects the views of the hon. Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Lamond). There is nothing wrong with declaring a moral objection in these days.

I want to go rather more deeply into this subject than has hitherto been done, and to pursue the line taken by my hon. and learned friend the Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle). I believe that all substantial lotteries should in future be limited to those for charitable, sporting and cultural purposes, so I take issue with my hon. and learned Friend. I believe that the purpose of lotteries will depend upon the best way of achieving that objective and harnessing lottery money only for those purposes.

The best thing that we can do is accept the Bill as it stands. It is limited to local authorities. In Committee it will be the subject of amendments. First, one can limit its objectives. I should wish to define its purposes with greater clarity. Second, we can discuss its scale. I think that the amount which can be applied to a local authority is about right.

The third possible line of amendment would be to adopt all the measures contained in the Bill so far as they affect societies, particularly local societies. We should then have a temporary lottery measure—a great improvement. We should immediately be on to the path of harnessing some money for desirable purposes for local societies and local authorities.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Runcorn is right to say that the Government's measure has botched up the whole thing. I have been here long enough to remember Bob Boothby bringing in a national lottery Bill on a Friday. We opposed it then, and for many years the all-party Tourists and Resorts Committee opposed local authority lotteries on the grounds that they would harm the societies promoting lotteries for cultural, sporting and, particularly, charitable purposes.

The lottery tax is 40 per cent. One of my reasons for wanting to limit the scope of lotteries is to avoid that taxation entirely. I want lotteries to be limited to charitable purposes and to matters of great moment to the local community, so that they will not have to carry the burden of tax and representations can be made to the Exchequer in that regard.

The Government should come forward at an early date with a measure to deal with large lotteries. A national lottery would be too large, but there should be a lottery capable of being promoted by the GLC, by Birmingham, by the Kent County Council, and other major authorities. The Government's Bill is valueless in that respect. It is not worth the candle for large authorities. The amount involved would have to be about £5 millon or £6 million. The tickets would have to cost 25p, and we should consider the propriety of a price of 50p. Certainly Ministers should have discretion about increasing the figure.

I remember discussing this matter with my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths), who, in the Tory Government, was the Minister responsible for sport. I know that the Sports Council and its regional councils are concerned about getting money for their objectives. They believe that they should have a fair share of money which might be obtained from lotteries. The Spastics Society and other disabled organisations also feel that they are entitled to a fair share.

Many of us are also concerned with cultural activities—such things as local theatres, dramatic societies, operas and, in Wales, the promotion of Welsh music. The real question is whether these matters should be subject to a tax of 40 per cent. If we are to follow that approach we must recognise that lotteries should still be severely limited to objectives which benefit the community.

This approach has a great deal more support from churchgoing people who innately object to the general proposal to take in this type of money. Many lotteries are promoted by the Roman Catholic Church, and these days it is not unheard of—although it was a few years ago—for lotteries to be promoted by the Methodist Church. The Government should have another look at their Bill to see whether it should not be withdrawn in favour of a larger and more comprehensive measure which would provide for the large lotteries. It must answer the case of the big charities—the GLC, the Kent County Council and others—which may wish to promote only one lottery in the year but a major lottery, which will produce something worthwhile. The Government must consider what projects and aims they are prepared to allow.

The Bill is not designed simply to ensure that money will be forthcoming to decrease the rate burden, it has other objectives. I can think of one or two worthwhile objectives in the Isle of Thanet. For instance, the local authority is having to put off a proposal to provide up-to-date changing rooms at Jackie Baker's hockey ground, for which we have been waiting 25 years. It would involve the expenditure of about £25,000 or £30,000, which the district council could easily obtain through a lottery of the type which could be allowed under my right hon. Friend's Bill. Other charitable objectives, such as the relief of cancer, could be covered by a local lottery.

I am sure that my right hon. Friend does not pretend that his Bill is anything more than a temporary measure. It is merely a means of getting the matter off the ground until the Government put forward proposals in an all-party sense.

I therefore have two requests to make. First, the Government should withdraw their Bill and introduce a measure which deals categorically with these matters. Are they prepared to support the holding of large lotteries, provided they are carried out by local authorities solely for the advantage of charitable, sporting or cultural activities? If so, what is wrong with lotteries on a scale greater than that proposed by the Government? This effectively answer the Under-Secretary of State's suggestion that all lotteries should be treated in parity. They cannot be.

Secondly, will the Government consider the question of the right scale for small lotteries? Such lotteries would be of two types—district council and parish council. A lottery might assist a parish council to build a community hall. In the village of Minster there is a desire to build such a hall. It would cost about £40,000. The Government would perhaps give one-third, and the local authority one-third. There would be a balance of about £15,000 to be found. That is the sort of project which could be tackled by the parish council. It might take a year, but at the end of that time the money would be available.

In this category come the groups to which the Under-Secretary of State referred—small charitable groups such as local Roman Catholic organisations wishing to obtain money for their schools or, indeed, local Tory and Labour parties. I am sure that the Liberals do not do this sort of thing.

The right way to deal with this matter is for the Government to withdraw their Bill and to use and amend my right hon. Friend's Bill in the hope of introducing a full and comprehensive measure at the end of 1975. They would then obtain the support of the whole House.

My right hon. Friend recognises the difficulty of defeating the Government at 4 o'clock. He knows that the difficulty lies not in obtaining a majority of those present who will vote for the Bill—he could obtain three times that number—but in having to produce at short notice more than 100 Conservative Members by 4 o'clock. Some of us have tried to do that, but it is very difficult with less than 24 hours' notice.

I therefore appeal to the Government to allow the debate on the Bill to stand adjourned. They can then decide whether they should go ahead with the Second Reading of their Bill or withdraw it, or adjourn it so that they may consider whether they wish to use the mechanics of my right hon. Friend's Bill, which on reflection, they may well find to be right. Furthermore, that would enable discussion of the wholly admirable measure of my hon. Friend the Member for Staffordshire, South-West (Mr. Cormack), which is the next Bill on the Order Paper, to proceed.

In that way the House would acquit itself well. We should have had a satisfactory discussion on my right hon. Friend's Bill, to which an entire day has previously been devoted. The parties must agree about this matter in due course anyway. My right hon. Friend naturally feels a little injured about the way in which he has been treated. The Government would adopt a very generous attitude if they allowed the debate to stand adjourned sine die and let us get on with other business. They would then be able to consider everything that has been said today.

This is not an easy subject. Not many people know much about it. However, my right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) knows a great deal about it, and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Runcorn indicated the wide scope and nature of what must be undertaken. Ministers responsible for sport and the environment are fighting each other for a share in these matters. This is not a party political matter; it is inter-departmental. The Government should give further consideration to it and say that they will introduce a first class measure in 12 months. Meanwhile, we should make use of my right hon. Friend's Bill.

1.17 p.m.

Everything that I wished to say has been said by the hon. and learned Member for Thanet, West (Mr. Rees-Davies). I am in some despair. I have great sympathy with the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page)—in fact, I am proud to be a sponsor of the Bill—because I did not know until yesterday morning—and perhaps it is my fault—that the Government would introduce a lotteries Bill. I spent until two o'clock this morning trying to understand the Government's Bill.

The Bill of which I am a sponsor has one great asset: it is simple and readily understood. When it was introduced in the last Parliament with the title of the Local Revenue Bill, I was attracted to Clause 2 which provided that the money raised would be used for
"educational, recreational, or cultural activities or amenities, for the improvement, preservation or conservation of the natural or built environment or for the alleviation of suffering or hardship brought about by any disaster."
We remember the disaster which happened in a village in Somerset not long ago when there was a terrible plane crash. Most of what is proposed in that clause is covered by Section 137 of the Local Government Act 1972.

I agree that we are running the danger of causing a proliferation of lotteries, and it would be a bad thing if local authorities competed against each other. It would be nonsense if, say, Walsall—I do not know why one should pick Walsall; perhaps it has connections with a certain gentleman—were to promote a lottery in London.

I represent the Isle of Wight. Many hon. Member and many of the staff of the House come to the Isle of Wight for holidays, and I am ashamed to say that we have no heated indoor swimming pool. The hon. and learned Member for Thanet, West referred to £200,000, but the cost of such a pool would be £750,000. I have been involved from the word "go" in the Isle of Wight Swimming Pool Association the members of which have worked like beavers. Many people gave a great deal of time to this organisation and over nine years we managed to raise £20,000. Eventually we convinced the county council, of which I was a member, to take over the project. We were just about to place a contract, which at that time cost just less than £500,000, when the great squeeze of the latter part of 1973 occurred and no more contracts could be placed. Now the project is in jeopardy and is unlikely to get off the ground unless the House passes this measure, or a similar one.

The great fault in the Government's measure is the financial limitation. I feel that the £6 million in the Bill before us is about right. It is strange that the Government should have published their Bill before giving local authorities time to comment. I cannot believe that the local authorities have yet had time to react to it. I consulted my county council, and it would not be the least interested in the Government's proposals.

We have a fine private sports ground—J. S. White's—where county cricket has been played. It was built by Sir James Milne who, unfortunately, died, and the American-controlled company which owns it wishes to sell. Everyone thinks that it would be desirable to buy it, but we have no money to do so. The Southern Sports Council does not have the finance to help us.

We know that the arts are in trouble. When I went to the Turner Exhibition I saw Turner's paintings of Cowes. Why should those pictures be left in the archives of the Tate Gallery instead of being exhibited on the island? The trouble is that we have no gallery in which to exhibit them. Orchestras are running into difficulties. I had great trouble in persuading my local authority to assist the South-West Concert Board which contributes to the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, which is one of the finest provincial orchestras in the world.

Last night I rushed home to see the programme which was shown on BBC 2. I am sure that if the Minister could have told the people that he would support the measure before us today he would have had a favourable response.

The appeal which has been made by the hon. and learned Member for Thanet, West is right. Both sides should get together. If the right hon. Member for Crosby wishes to move to adjourn the debate so that that can be done, I shall go along with him. The Government's proposals fill me with despair. Let us not put it off for a year. It must be done now. The Bill was passed by the House during the last Session but was delayed in the House of Lords.

The people on the Isle of Wight who managed to raise £20,000 are disgusted that after all their efforts the money has been thrown to the winds. The fees already spent on architects' plans have amounted to £28,000—more than was raised. If we intend to do something, let us get on with it, do it now and do it together.

1.25 p.m.

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in the debate. For the past two hours I have been interested in hearing the experience and expertise particularly of Opposition Members. I listened carefully to the hon. and learned Member for Thanet, West (Mr. Rees-Davies), the hon. and learned Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle) and the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page). The more one hears the more one realises that this is a confusing and complex matter. The measure has a history, the course has been cantered over more than once and there is a genuine desire on both sides of the House for something to be done. One can see from the names of the sponsors that the Bill is not a party Bill. There is no party animus, but it is clear that whichever measure we adopt is likely to contain defects. There are certainly defects in the Bill and in the Government's proposals.

I am in favour of lotteries to raise money for the purposes outlined in the Bill. It is common ground on both sides of the House and in many other places that the existing legislation is inadequate, and must be changed.

I listened with sympathy and interest to hon. Members who spoke about the difficulties of local authorities. For several years I served on the London Borough of Enfield Council, and I am well aware of the battle of priorities. I have much sympathy with the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross) in his desire to provide a pressing social need in the Isle of Wight. For years the community wanted a covered indoor swimming pool and I image that the local authority regularly said that it must do something about it, but there was always another priority. That was in the hands of the local people, but with limited resources the priority for the swimming pool had to be put back. The hon. Member for Isle of Wight mentioned £750,000, but he is mistaken if he believes that a lottery based upon the Isle of Wight is likely to provide as much money as that.

I accept that we are not suggesting that the running of local authority lotteries should take the place of properly funded and worked out local government finance. "On the margin" is a phrase that has been used more than once. The legislation needs to be improved. People's attitude to modest gambling has changed over the years. The public will go along with changes in legislation to allow gambling on lotteries, whether through the efforts of the right hon. Member for Crosby or by a Government measure. I believe that the public will welcome any changes which will advance these proposals.

One defect in the right hon. Gentleman's provisions lies in the limited nature of their purpose. Therefore I believe that legislation—whether it be through the present Bill as amended or by a Government measure—should be drawn much more widely than are the present proposals.

Reference has been made to the interdepartmental committee, and strictures were passed by the hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir S. McAdden) on the fact that the Committee's report has yet to be put before the House. This merely emphasises the fact that over the years there has been a long catalogue of inquiries and investigations. I hope that we are now moving, albeit slowly, nearer to a change in present legislation which will allow local authorities to take steps on the lines of the proposals in the Bill. Throughout the debate I have detected in the remarks of the right hon. Member for Crosby his willingness to compromise and to find solutions—even solutions not contained in his Bill—which will further his objectives.

I believe that there should be competition in raising revenue of this nature. There are those who like a flutter in the form of the pools, sweeps or draws and, of course, many members of the public already gamble on horse racing and dog racing. Therefore, I welcome the opportunity for those people to assist the activities of local clubs, whether they be cricket or football clubs or whatever they may be, and also to further the efforts of local authorities. However, I share the apprehension expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) that we need to be sceptical about the amount of relief which is likely to result.

Earlier this week, I along with other Members of Parliament, met with representatives of the manufacturers' association of Enfield, since the Edmonton constituency is covered by the London Borough of Enfield. That association was concerned first to keep down expenditure, but its main concern related to the level of rate burden which it was likely to face. The association's representatives recognise that if the rate bill is to be kept down, there should be other means of raising money. Those representatives could put up a worthwhile list of projects which would benefit from income of this nature and which at present certainly do not benefit to the extent they should.

I would welcome local lotteries because they will give an opportunity to local people to contribute from their own pockets to activities which will be beneficial to their community, to their town and its children. I like the idea of local people putting their hands in their own pockets with the feeling that the money will go to a purpose which will be of benefit to the community. It remains to be seen whether the rates will be relieved to a large extent.

I should not like to see the debate on the funding of local authority expenditure debased by too many gimmicks. One fear is that some local authorities will put off necessary spending—expenditure that is vital for the community—with the cry that a local lottery will be organised to provide the money. I am also concerned about the effect of the relative affluence of one community compared with another. In some communities the rateable value may be high because of the residential or industrial content, and this will have an effect in raising money required for local purposes through the rates. Another area may be poor, there may be little industry and the ability to raise money will be quite different. Because the income of a highly-rated area contains people who are perhaps more affluent than others in an adjoining area, they are likely to support a local lottery in a bigger way. Consequently a local authority which already enjoys a larger rateable income is likely to make a bigger success of a lottery of this nature.

I believe that the provisions in the Bill are commendable and they have my support. I have noticed a great deal of activity on the Opposition benches in the past ten minutes—no doubt designed to save most of the intentions in the Bill and to try to keep open all possibilities. I have listened with a great deal of interest to hon. Members who have spoken in favour of the Bill and who have set out to marshall the support of new Members of Parliament, such as myself, who seek to find their way out of the morass of detail—a morass out of which the right hon. Member for Crosby, in a cheerful and helpful way, sought to lead us over two hours ago.

1.38 p.m.

I am disappointed in the Government's attitude over the Bill, and I believe that my attitude is shared by my constituents. I say that not because I believe that these proposals, or similar proposals, will solve our major rating problems, but because I know that Blackpool shares with a number of other towns around our coasts a unique position, and certainly a unique problem.

I believe that the proposals contained in my right hon. Friend's Bill, which envisage the holding of a major lottery, hold out an almost overwhelming advantage for towns such as Blackpool. Like many other holiday resorts, Blackpool faces a reduced base on which to raise rates. This is due to local government reorganisation. However, we must still provide the facilities for the enjoyment of holidaymakers who, in a good season, total 8 million people. The facilities provided in Blackpool are extensive and, indeed, expensive. Those facilities must be paid for out of rates—rates borne by the whole of the town's community. One-third of the town and about one-third of its industry earns its money from holidaymakers, but all have to contribute to the facilities provided. If we were able to run a major lottery, we should have the opportunity of tapping the resources not just of those who live in the town but of the 8 million others who come to Blackpool and yet make little or no contribution to the rates.

I have one particular aspect in mind. For instance, Blackpool has the growing burden of providing its lights. They are great entertainment value and should be preserved. None the less, their preservation will be a growing burden upon a town whose rate basis has been reduced. If we were able to hold a lottery which would tap the millions who come to enjoy Blackpool's lights throughout the season, it would go a long way to preserve them.

I support my right hon. Friend's Bill because it contains the opportunity for a major lottery. I do not say this in any partisan spirit. If the Government intend to amend the Bill which they laid before the House two days ago, or the second Bill which we expect to come within the next year or 18 months, which would allow lotteries of that type, I believe that they will have the support of many Opposition Members. I shall certainly support my right hon. Friend's proposals.

1.42 p.m.

I am glad to speak directly after the hon. and learned Member for Blackpool, North (Mr. Miscampbell) or, if his views carry the House with him, the Las Vegas of the North.

I know Blackpool well. It has considerable holiday facilities. I have no doubt that the way in which the hon. and learned Gentleman outlined his support for the Bill would react favourably not only to Blackpool's advantage but to that of New Brighton—another seaside resort which is well known to people from Lancashire, from where the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) comes—and Southport. Seaside resorts have fallen on bad times recently, and the proposals in the Bill would be useful to such towns.

I visited New Brighton on one of my recent holidays to Merseyside. It may come as a surprise to many right hon. and hon. Members that people go to Merseyside for their holidays.

And the third prize is a fortnight's holiday there.

I congratulate the right hon. Member for Crosby not only on his good fortune in this lottery but on the agreeable way in which he presented the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman is an old hand in this House. He has the professional touch. Indeed, I think that he might often get away with murder. He said that he was prepared to co-operate with my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State and the Government. I thought that the right hon. Gentleman made a very useful contribution to our Friday debates.

It seems to me that we are beginning to get away from the real tradition of Fridays in the House. Fridays are for Private Members' Bills. I was surprised when, after the right hon. Gentleman opened the debate, we had the Government Front Bench spokesman and then an Opposition Front Bench speaker. I began to wonder whether this was a Private Member's Bill at all. Bearing in mind some of the comments that were made last Friday—at a late hour in the afternoon—and the exercises that Whips have undertaken in the past on Bills with which I have been connected, I take a dim view of Front Benchers on Fridays. [An HON. MEMBER: "Or any other day."] I happen to be speaking from below the Gangway today.

Or any other day. After all, my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Ogden) represents the area where I was born. Blood is thicker than water. Whether it is thicker than Mersey water I am not sure.

I was about to commend to the House the course suggested by the hon. and learned Member for Thanet, West (Mr. Rees-Davies) of adjourning the debate and allowing the Bill to remain on the Order Paper. It would of course go to the bottom of the list. Those of us who know how things are done know that it will not get another debate, but at least it will keep the idea before the House.

Having heard both Front Bench speeches and bearing in mind what was said by the hon. and learned Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle)—even though I was not here, I knew what he would say—I should point out that he is a gamekeeper turned poacher. The hon. and learned Gentleman, who spoke from below the Gangway, has had responsibilities at the Home Office and knows this subject very well. I have no doubt that if electoral fortunes had gone another way and the right hon. Member for Crosby, with his usual good fortune, had won this lottery and presented the Bill, the hon. and learned Member for Runcorn from the Dispatch Box would have opposed the Bill in the same terms and with the same grief as my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary did today. On these matters there is a certain departmental as distinct from a governmental point of view. I think that we have had the departmental view of the Home Office presented to us today.

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I wonder why the Chief patronising Whip should come on to our side and endeavour to whip my hon. Friends. It is rather strange.

Order. The right hon. Gentleman has been a Member long enough to know that what the Whips do is anybody's business but mine.

There seems to be some confusion. I happen to get on with hon. Members opposite. I was not in fact talking about whipping. I was just telling a couple of rude stories.

Thank you very much. Mr. Deputy Speaker.

I think that there are points on which the right hon. Member for Crosby and the Home Office could get together. I regard the Bill as rather limited from the local authorities' point of view. I cannot accept that a possible contribution of £750,000 or £1 million as the product of a lottery would be of very great financial help to local authorities in general, but it might be of some value in specific cases, as the hon. and learned Member for Blackpool, North (Mr. Miscampbell) has pointed out.

I hope that on Fridays we may get back to the situation which once obtained when we did not have dogmatic party views attributed to certain Bills. It is all very well for the hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Fowler) to nod his head in agreement. My mind turns to certain things that have gone on in the past regarding Private Members' Bills with which I have been connected. The hon. Gentleman is a late repentant. I hope that we can now have a far more flexible attitude towards Private Members' Bills than that which has been adopted in the past.

Certainly. As my right hon. Friend knows, I was here. I helped to expedite that process. I am only emphasising our attitude towards Private Members' Bills. I was thinking particularly of certain things that took place in the past.

I was thinking of the time when I sat gnawing my fingers on the Oppositeion benches while the Conservative Whips went around persuading Members on both sides of the House to speak at great length on my Bill. That sort of thing never happens now, whatever may have happened in those bad old days.

Yes, I have my eye on the clock, because there is another Bill which might come on which I consider to be quite disgraceful. I hope, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that I shall catch your eye when we consider that Bill. I hope to correct some of the larger stupidities which are contained in it. I shall be out of order if I spend too much time talking about that Bill, and I return to the Bill of the right hon. Member for Crosby.

We have had a useful and co-operative debate. I end as I began, by congratulating the right hon. Gentleman not only on his good fortune but on the agreeable way in which he presented his Bill to the House.

1.52 p.m.

I add my congratulations to my right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) not only on the lucid way in which he presented his Bill—of course, he has done it all before—but on his good fortune in getting such a high slot in the Ballot. I must say to the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) that there is nothing dogmatic about my hon. Friend's view about my right hon. Friend's Bill. We are by no means united in supporting it. I believe that a consensus of opinion would show that the majority of my hon. Friends favour what my right hon. Friend is trying to do. However, I for one will oppose his Bill unless I can see any reason at a late hour to do otherwise.

I feel that my major concern about local lotteries is being entirely overlooked. In my right hon. Friend's Bill there is no mention of the rôle which will be occupied by local sporting, social and cultural clubs. I do not come to the House because I am particularly enamoured with any one clause of my right hon. Friend's Bill. I am here because when my right hon. Friend starts to talk of figures such as £6 million per annum as the sums in question, it seems that we are losing sight altogether of the desperate need of many social, sporting, charitable and religious groups to run local lotteries on a basis which gives them a fair chance of securing reasonable financial assistance for the cause that they advocate.

In the Bill we are talking about vast sums. My right hon. Friend talks about considerable sums going into the rate fund. If my right hon. Friend's Bill becomes law, I think that the local sporting, social, political and religious clubs will be completely swamped. I shall give the House an example of the type of lottery that I have in mind. I go back to 1973 when the secretary of the Leicestershire County Cricket Club wrote to the then Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, and pointed out how essential it was for his club to have the receipts annually from their local lotteries. He stated that in 1972 the club's total income had amounted to £71,263, of which no less than £19,000 came from lotteries and competition fund raising. He went on to explain to my right hon. Friend the difficulty that the club faced because of the limits imposed by the existing legislation. He advocated that the ticket limit should be raised from 5p—it had been a shilling as long ago as 1934—to 25p. He suggested that the prize money should be raised from £100 to £200 and that the total value of tickets sold in the lottery should be increased from £750 to £1,500.

My right hon. Friend the then Prime Minister properly placed the secretary's letter in the Department concerned. He wrote to the secretary and told him that the matter was the subject of an interdepartmental report. I shall refer to the working party report which was published in December 1973. In pages 1 and 3 of the report it is clear that the authors recognise the difficulties which face those who run small public lotteries because of the existing level of tickets and the limits placed on prize money. In page 1 the working party acknowledges that
"… The monetary limits on small lotteries promoted incidentally to entertainments should be increased …"
It also recommends that prize money should be increased. In page 3 of the main recommendations it recommends that the maximum price of tickets should be increased from 5p to 25p, that the maximum prize limit should be £500 and that the maximum turnover should be increased to £3,750.

What I dislike about my right hon. Friend's Bill is that it makes no mention of the social and sporting clubs which rely so much on lotteries for their existence. In the Government's Bill—it is necessary to refer to it now and again even though we are discussing my right hon. Friend's Bill—there are certain sections which include extracts from the recommendations of the working party's report. In particular, the Government's Bill recommends that the level of the price of tickets should be increased from 5p to 25p and that the level of prize money should be increased in line with the working party's recommendations. One of the reasons why I do not like my right hon. Friend's Bill is the effect it would have on local sporting and social clubs. What I have said can be borne out by a letter from the Sports Council which was received by me. It is signed by the director and dated 28th January. The director refers to my right hon. Friend's Bill, the Local Lotteries Bill, and says that,
"The voluntary organisations of sports and charities which run local lotteries are extremely concerned about the effect which such authority lotteries would have on their own fund-raising efforts."
That is the view of the Sports Council.

I have examined my right hon. Friend's Bill closely and regard his schemes and ideas as entirely too grandiose. Our new local authorities have quite enough to do without running local government lotteries of the size he contemplates. I regard the steps that he has proposed as another move towards what one would call the "bingo estate". As I have said, there is no mention in my right hon. Friend's Bill of local sporting and social club activities and their existing lotteries. If the Bill were enacted, I believe that it would kill these little lotteries.

The Government's Bill, however, introduces amendments to increase the cost of the ticket, the prize money and the maximum of the contribution. But both Bills have one particular joint failing, and that is that they authorise all parish councils to run local lotteries. If we are to have a situation in which 1,200 parish councils in Britain can each run a lottery at a maximum level of £500,000 each a year, we shall have so many local lotteries jostling with each other that the local sporting, social, and religious clubs' lotteries will be overshadowed in any event. Is it right that all our little parish councils—never mind the district councils and county councils, which are also lottery authorities under this Bill—should be competing with each other, 1,200 of them, in this way to raise money by this scheme, which is common to the Government's Bill and my right hon. Friend's Bill?

I hope that the Government's Bill is successful but that an amendment will be made so that the local authorities which can run these lotteries do not include parish councils. In one district council area alone there could be as many as 30 or 40 parish councils. It is difficult to imagine how parish councils will proceed if they are each allowed to raise up to £500,000 by lotteries. Presumably they will engage professional organisers. But their minds will be taken off their task of running local government affairs. It will be a bad day for Britain if we give this authority to parish councils.

I am trying to follow the hon. Gentleman's argument. It seems to me—he can correct me if I am wrong—that he is in favour of the smaller local authorities and small lotteries combining in some form to make a bigger lottery so that the prize money is much more attractive, and so that we end up with a national lottery such as those in Europe and elsewhere. We know what a shambles that is. Is that what he is advocating—bigger and better lotteries?

I am not advocating anything of the sort. In the Government's Bill—to which strictly it is not in order to refer in detail—it is recommended that all local authorities shall have the right to organise a lottery. As defined in the Bill, "local authority" includes parish councils. All I am saying is that I do not think that, from the definition in that Bill, this power should be given to parish councils. It is a reasonable idea to give it to district councils and county councils, which will not allow too much proliferation of lotteries, but to give it also to 1,200 parish councils will distract them from their task of proper local government.

In conclusion, I have looked at the two Bills in an endeavour to do what is best for local sporting, social, political and religious lotteries in my part of the world. My right hon. Friend's Bill would swamp them. The Government's Bill, with amendments, would be acceptable, and when that comes along I shall be giving it my support.

2.7 p.m.

I am only too glad to follow the speech of the hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr). I share many of the sentiments he has expressed. I agree with him entirely that the scope of the Bill would swamp those worthwhile efforts on the part of sporting, religious, political and like associations, which depend almost entirely for their working on the proceeds of this activity. Frankly, however, I am not too happy about this Bill or, for that matter, the Bill which is to be brought in by the Government—except for allowing, perhaps, that the Government's Bill will involve much less in the scope and size of the activities which can be carried out by the various organisations which engage in this activity.

What worries me more than anything else about the present Bill is the fact that it would bring just one more element into the already fragmented pattern of gambling in this country. I am not opposed to the small lottery. There is a demand for it. That has been pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Mr. Graham). It would be churlish of the House to deny people the opportunity of having a small flutter. But I am worried by the proliferation of various gambling activities which have been legalised by the House. In my view this is doing a great deal of harm to the country. One almost comes to the conclusion that Britain is becoming one vast casino. The mug will find no difficulty in being parted from his money. One can take one's choice between horse racing, dog racing, casinos, bingo and even hare coursing—you name it and you can find it.

I almost forgot to mention that there is also the Stock Exchange, if one likes that sort of thing. However, on leaving the Chamber a little while ago I noticed that shares had plummeted by about 15 points. That may worry some hon. Members of the Opposition but it does not worry me greatly. It is something, however, which can be added to the general picture.

My hon. Friend may have noticed that a certain dark horse in another race which is taking place at present has been in the Chamber for most of the debate and has only recently left. There are many issues which are being made the subject of bets at present.

That is true. Whether it is on the result of a leadership contest in a party which I shall not name, or on the winner of a beauty queen contest, or on the favourite of two flies crawling up a wall, there is always a demand for a flutter. This is possibly a case of the Devil triumphing over all other forces. I therefore do not oppose the concept of the small lottery, which does untold good in some respects.

I wonder whether, before we proceed to further fragmentation, it would be a good idea to seek to tidy up all the procedures in betting and gaming. Many forms of gambling have far outstripped the purpose for which the original legislation was introduced. It was never envisaged that betting shops should become virtually social clubs which keep many people from doing their proper everyday work.

The result of the Bill would be that smaller lotteries would be swamped. Many lotteries are accepted readily for the very reason that they are moderate in their scope and do not require the outlay of large sums. People are prepared to spend 5p or 10p if it is a worthy cause. Some organisations in my constituency depend entirely upon such small efforts.

My hon. Friend is quite right. I do a great deal in my constituency and in the Labour Party generally to propagate the objects of a lottery which I will not name but which does no harm to those who engage in it. I have no doubt that similar lotteries take place all over the country for the benefit of cricket and football clubs, and so on.

I was saying that if the Bill is accorded a Second Reading it will do irreparable harm to the smaller lotteries, and they will not thank the right hon. Gentleman.

The hon. Gentleman is getting himself worked up into a bit of a lather about the Bill. Was he present when the identical Bill was accorded a Second Reading? Does he agree or disagree with his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Mr. Weitzman) who, on the Second Reading of that Bill, said that there was a great deal of humbug and hypocrisy on this subject?

I was not here at the time. That does not alter the fact that I do not like this Bill. I am here today and, in accordance with my privilege as a Member of Parliament, I am taking the advantage of this occasion to speak. There is no reason why I should not do so. There are occasions when Members attend even though they have no particular interest in the subject being discussed. On one occasion I was interested in a Bill but had to wait all day while hon. Members opposite filibustered on another Bill. The result was that we managed to debate our Bill for only five minutes. I do not suggest that I am filibustering now.

The right hon. Gentleman does me a disservice. I am speaking because I sincerely believe that this Bill and the Government Bill have defects, but I believe that the defects of this Bill are even greater than the defects of the Government Bill.

Hon. Members will have received a letter from the Central Council of Physical Education which lists at the foot the following organisations, amongst others, which are worried about the prospects of the Bill's passing—the British Olympic Association, the British Paraplegic Sports Society, the British Sports Association for the Disabled, the National Council of Social Services, and the Spastics Society.

I have been in local government for many years. The prospect of selling lottery tickets to ratepayers to advance certain functions of local government—for example, the building of a swimming pool—appals me. We have already lost the glory of the Empire. If we descend to those depths we shall lose much that is good in our public life. I cannot equate the function of local government with a lottery which seeks to replace the job of the ratepayer.

The Bill makes no mention of the mechanics of the operation. How are lottery tickets to be sold? In one continental country in which I have had experience municipal lotteries are all the rage. On every street corner there are ticket vendors who are a perfect nuisance. The addition of this street-corner activity in British capitals, or even in British villages, will not do much to promote the tourist industry.

Largely in an effort to protect the interests of voluntary organisations, and in the hope that there will be a tidying up of the whole operation of gaming and lotteries, I shall oppose the Bill.

2.20 p.m.

We have had a very interesting debate. We have heard again all the arguments which were rehearsed on the Second Reading of the previous Bill. They have all been reiterated. I support the suggestion of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Thanet, West (Mr. Rees-Davies) and of my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Fraser) that there should be a meeting between those responsible for the two Bills. Surely the two Bills could be put together into a reasonable proposal to the House and we could get on with business. We are beginning to abuse Private Members' time, and as an ordinary back bencher I am worried that we may spoil a valuable asset of the House unless we are more expeditious. I beg to move, That the debate be now adjourned.

The Question is, That the debate be now adjourned.

2.21 p.m.

I rise to oppose the motion that this interesting debate be prematurely terminated when other hon. Members are waiting to speak—for example, my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Ogden), who has patiently waited throughout the debate for an opportunity to speak. Many of his constituents are employed by a professional pools firm and could have their livelihood affected by the Bill.

The hon. Gentleman, by a slip of the tongue, said that several other Members wished to speak. Exactly one hon. Gentleman rose.

I do not have eyes in the back of my head, so I accept what the right hon. Gentleman says. But if that is so, is it not rather contemptible prematurely to try to end the debate when one hon. Member would like to speak, perhaps for ten minutes or so?

The Bill has had a curious history—becoming even more curious when a motion like this is moved. It is not true that the Bill as drafted was debated in great detail on Second Reading in the last Parliament. That Bill had three parts to it. The first part referred to lotteries, the second to planning applications, and the third to a tax on beds in seaside resorts. A veritable tide of hon. Members representing seaside resorts rushed in on that occasion, and more than two-thirds of the debate was concerned not with lotteries but with the provisions about seaside resorts. The right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) withdrew the provisions about seaside resorts and the tide of seaside Members receded.

It is no wonder that the right hon. Gentleman introduces a lotteries Bill. No one could be more successful in the art of lotteries than he. The statistical odds must be enormously against any Member coming first in the Ballot to present a Bill in one parliamentary Session only to come second in the Ballot in the following year. With luck like that, who would not be interested in lotteries?

But, the Bill having been drafted, rather strange and unusual events began to happen. First, the right hon. Gentleman told us that he would like to make various amendments and would agree to them during its passage through the House. It is a curious state of affairs that, having a glorious sheet of white paper on which to write a Bill, the right hon. Gentleman introduces a Bill and promptly says that he will amend it in various ways. Then the hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Fowler), speaking from the Opposition Front Bench, said that the amendments would be made not in this House but in another place.

Order. The current debate is on the Question whether the debate on Second Reading should be adjourned.

I am trying to adduce arguments why the debate should not be adjourned now. I am questioning why hon. Members who presumably support the Bill are behaving in this peculiar fashion by asking that the debate be adjourned. The right hon. Member for Crosby introduces a Bill and then confesses that amendments should be made to it—but not, we are told, in this House but in another place. That is unusual procedure, and it is worthy of note in deciding whether we have adequately debated the Bill. We do not know the full motives behind the process suggested. We suspect that the Parliament Act 1911 has a lot to do with it. The luck of the right hon. Gentleman never deserts him, and if the Bill were passed by this House it must have an uninterrupted passage, the other place being unable to do anything about it because of the Parliament Act 1911.

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman does not mean to mislead the House, but on occasions when the 1911 Act has been used on three Government Bills, the procedure has been laid down that this House can suggest amendments to their Lordships. Therefore, the hon. Gentleman is wrong to say that their Lordships could do nothing to the Bill. They could accept suggestions from this House.

I do not know whether I heard the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) aright when he moved the Second Reading, but I understood him to say that he was going to press for the passage of the Bill unamended so that it could go to the House of Lords and have an uninterrupted passage. Did he give that undertaking?

Order. The hon. Member for Lambeth, Central (Mr. Lipton) is not able to question anyone except the hon. Member addressing the House at the time.

My impression is that it was not the right hon. Member for Crosby who suggested that to the House. He was talking about amendments, about which we would like to know rather more in this Second Reading debate, which is yet another reason why we should not adjourn the debate now. The hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield, speaking from the Opposition Front Bench, suggested that the amendments might best be put into the Bill not in this House but in another place. But surely, if amendments spring to mind when we are discussing a Bill in this House, this is the place where we should try to include them in the Bill. The House should have an opportunity to examine this aspect more closely before it comes to a determination on the merits of Second Reading.

This was why my hon. Friend the Member for Reading, North (Mr. Durant) suggested that the debate be adjourned.

If the debate were adjourned, presumably the Bill would remain on the Order Paper, but at the bottom of the list. We have a Government Bill before the House which I concede was brought in early because of this Bill. It would have been unfair of us to do otherwise, and we would have been severely criticised if we had not done so, since we would then have been debating this Bill while simply promising legislation of our own without explaining what our proposals would be. The Home Office introduced its Bill precisely so that hon. Members could have the opportunity to compare the Home Office's comprehensive Bill and this limited Bill—limited to local authorities—that has been introduced by the right hon. Member for Crosby.

The right hon. Gentleman is talking nonsense. It was part of the hon. Lady's case that the Home Office proposed to bring forward fresh proposals, about which we know nothing.

Those further proposals were related to what the hon. and learned Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle) was talking about. They are further proposals connected with the Pools Promotion Bill. There is still an urgent need for legislation on this subject, following the recommendations of the working party. That is why, as we said it would be, the Government Bill has been introduced in this Parliament. It may have been updated by a few weeks, but that has been done to give the House an opportunity to compare the two Bills.

If the Government had wanted viciously to attack the right hon. Gentleman's Bill, they could have used a dirty tactic, as the right hon. Gentleman thought they might when on Wednesday he asked a point of order on this subject. They could have answered when asked when they would introduce the Bill, "Tomorrow"—that would have been yesterday—and that would have killed the right hon. Gentleman's Bill. We did no such thing and we had no intention of doing any such thing.

The hon. Gentleman has made a most astonishing proposition. With the consent of those who are supporting him, an hon. Member promoting a Private Member's Bill has offered to permit the debate on his own Bill to be adjourned so that the Government may proceed with theirs. It is an astonishing proposition that the Government should object to that. That only makes me think that the Government are trying to kill this Private Member's Bill—and the next.

I have no interest in the next Bill. The Government consider that the comprehensive proposals in the Home Office Bill are preferable to those in this, and the two Bills cannot run together. Therefore, after a full debate on this Bill today—and by that I mean until four o'clock—it is expected that I shall ask the House to reject the right hon. Gentleman's Bill because of the existence of far better provisions.

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I put it to you that what the hon. Gentleman is trying to do is to kill two Bills. It has been suggested that the debate on this Bill should be adjourned. That would not in any way impede progress on the Government's Bill. My right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) could not have been more co-operative in that regard. The hon. Gentleman's tactic seems to be a ploy by the Government to prevent a debate on another Bill about to come before the House, a Bill that many wish to be debated this afternoon. I suggest that the Motion should now be put to the House.

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was the only Member on this side of the House behind the Front Bench when the motion was moved. You will know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that officially there is no one in the Chamber other than hon. Members, but we have to recognise that unofficially we are surrounded, if not by heavenly angels, at least by a cloud of witnesses, who must be wondering what is going on—if there is anybody there at all, and, according to the rules, there is not.

The hon. Member for Reading, North (Mr. Durant) must recognise and must have been advised that he has started a second debate. I hope that anything that I say now will not preclude me from taking part in the debate on the Second Reading of the Bill that was moved some two hours and 30 minutes ago. I have been in the Chamber since before eleven o'clock, having met the right hon. Member for Crosby and his good lady in the Chamber shortly before that time.

There seems to be some confusion. I do not know how the hon. Member for Christchurch and Lymington (Mr. Adley) has become involved if the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Ogden) is still making his original point of order.

It is a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was saying that I had been in the Chamber since before eleven o'clock, having met the right hon. Gentleman and his good lady at about half-past ten.

I have a constituency interest in this matter [HON. MEMBERS: "That is not a point of order."] I am coming to the point of order. Hon. Members should relax.

The progress of any Private Member's Bill is uncertain, but a Private Member's Bill should not be killed by the use of parliamentary verbiage. There should be a decision on it. The hon. Member for Reading, North, who has not been here long enough to get a shine on his trousers, said that we had heard all the arguments. He may have heard all the arguments that he wishes to hear, but there are many arguments that I want to put to the House, and I should have the right to do so.

In due course, the hon. Member will have the chance to do so, should he catch the eye of the Chair. I want to make it clear that this debate is on the merits or otherwise of the proposal that the debate should be adjourned.

I was making the point that, as a Member who has been in the Chamber from eleven o'clock and who has not yet been able to make his contribution to the major debate, I should be affronted if an hon. Member who has not had the time to get a shine on his trousers had the right to get the debate adjourned because he thought that all the arguments had been heard. I have arguments to put against the right hon. Gentleman's Bill and I have arguments to put against the Government's Bill, but if the debate is adjourned, I shall not be able to put them.

I assure the hon. Gentleman that he would get the opportunity to put his case on the merits or demerits of the Bill in due course.

Is the hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir S. McAdden) rising on a point of order, or intervening in the Minister's speech?

I was only on the point of speaking, but I willingly give way to the hon. Gentleman. I should like to listen to what he has to say.

If the hon. Gentleman listens, he will learn.

The Minister and his hon. Friend the Under-Secretary have frequently referred to the working party and its report. I remind them that the House is not governed by civil servants. Although civil servants may have conferred and produced a report, that does not satisfy me. The House has not yet discussed the report. I want an assurance—I did not get this assurance from the hon. Lady, although she said that she would speak to her right hon. Friend the Leader of the House—that no further proceedings on the report of the working party will be taken until the House has had an opportunity to consider what civil servants have recommended in a report.

That is not my Department and I cannot given that undertaking, but that is apposite to the motion. That is precisely why I am opposing the motion.

We believe that the House should have the opportunity to debate the right hon. Gentleman's Bill in the light of the proposals produced by the Home Office. It is essential on a Bill of this kind and of such interest to the nation as a whole that the House should have the fullest amount of time to hear hon. Members on both sides of the question so that the very argument that the hon. Member for Southend, East has put may be fully explored and so that we may hear, for instance, the hon. Member himself, for the House knows of his intimate knowledge of this subject, a knowledge that probably far excels that of the civil servants who worked on the Bill.

The hon. Gentleman referred to Members not having been present. I watched the hon. Gentleman's performance on BBC television last night. He knows that what is going on is in the best interests of neither the people nor democracy. This matter was properly debated during the last Session.

Order. I remind the hon. Member that he must debate the merits or the demerits whether the debate should be adjourned.

It is in the best interests of the ratepayers that a measure of this sort should be passed fairly quickly. That is necessary for many local authorities, and the Minister will agree that that is so.

The Minister is delaying the debate deliberately. If he will accept the adjournment motion and introduce his own measure we shall be able to get on with the job.

We are in the middle of a debate. I have no doubt that if the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross) catches your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, he will say why he considers that the debate should be adjourned.

I wish to ask a technical question. If the right hon. Gentleman's Bill remains on the Order Paper we are, by the rules of the House, precluded from having before the House another Bill for a similar purpose and bearing the same title. Is not that the position, according to Standing Orders?

That question can be answered, because Mr. Speaker gave a ruling that the two Bills could be presented at the same time and that the Government Bill could proceed even though my Bill was to be debated on its Second Reading today. There is no objection to this debate being adjourned and to the Government proceeding with their legislation and discussing the matter fully.

I was present when the hon. Gentleman raised this point of order with Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker said—he emphasised the words—that the two Bills could be presented to the House at the same time, but that if one of those Bills obtained a Second Reading it was doubtful whether the other Bill could then proceed if the two Bills were parallel. Presumably the Government Bill will obtain its Second Reading and, in that light, the right hon. Gentleman's Private Member's Bill, according to Mr. Speaker's ruling, cannot then proceed even though it remains on the Order Paper.

The Opposition are not united. Why do the sponsors of the Bill want to end prematurely the debate on a Friday when it is customary on most Fridays for one Bill, particularly one as important as this, to be given the opportunity of full and frank debate? That is why I am opposed to the premature adjournment of the Bill at this early hour on a weekday, when one of my hon. Friends wishes to speak and when so many of the arguments adduced in the Bill have not been answered.

The hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross) kindly mentioned the television programme in which I appeared last night in connection with the question of rates. I think this myth as to the effect of the Bill on rates should be killed this afternoon. The effect of the Bill on rates in Greater London would be a reduction by about one-seventh of one penny. That is the effect of a successful lottery. I put the point now because no answer can be given if the debate is prematurely ended.

People think that if the Local Lotteries Bill is passed there will be enormous rate relief, and I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman is saying so. He said it would make a significant contribution to the rates.

I did not say that it would have any effect on the rates. However, the Bill, if passed, will help worthy causes such as sports grounds.

That again proves the need for a full debate on the Bill. The hon. Member for the Isle of Wight, who is advocating that we end the debate prematurely, clearly has not fully grasped the difference between the two Bills. The right hon. Gentleman's Bill does nothing for sports grounds. That is one of our objections to the right hon. Gentleman's Bill. The Government's Bill allows lotteries for sports grounds. The right hon. Gentleman's Bill does nothing for charities. Indeed it may cause a considerable degree of hurt to charities if it is passed. The views of Churches and charities were voiced but were not fully debated. The Bill could cause the death of many charities because massive lotteries with massive prizes are provided for in the right hon. Gentleman's Bill.

There is a difference between the two Bills. The Government's Bill will treat all authorities fairly and evenly so that they can award the same prizes. Under the right hon. Gentleman's Bill the big and rich can offer the largest prizes whereas the small and poor authorities, who do not have great rateable resources, cannot offer such large prizes.

A person who buys a ticket is not concerned with the object for which the fund is being used. He is concerned with the prize he will win. Therefore if two tickets are for an equal amount—

On a point of order. I moved the motion and I should like the debate to concern itself with the Question whether we should adjourn. We are now having a full-blown debate on both Bills.

The difficulty is fully understood by both sides. This is a narrow discussion on the question of the adjournment of the debate and we must attempt to keep it so. However, I reiterate that it is a difficult matter, although I know that hon. Members will do their best to keep within the terms of the motion.

I am trying to show the House why it should not adjourn when important considerations such as the effects on charities have not been fully debated. The result will be that two Bills which are entirely incompatible with each other will come before the House at the same time. That will be the effect of adjourning the debate on the Bill.

I give full credit to the right hon. Gentleman for the Government having introduced the provisions for local lotteries in their own Bill. The credit is due to the right hon. Gentleman. I suggest that the proper way is to treat all charities fairly and alike and not to give enormous advantages to the local authorities over the Church charities, the sports charities and charities on behalf of the disabled, and so on. The House should debate those matters to the full in the time available, which is until four o'clock this afternoon.

Having debated it fully, and having given a full tribute to the right hon. Gentleman for having introduced the basic principle of local lotteries, it would be far better if the House came to the conclusion that the Bill should not be passed, so that the Government's Bill would be the only Bill dealing with the matter. That would be cleaner, neater, tidier, and far more effective, and would still give full credit to the right hon. Gentleman for what he has done.

Instead it is proposed that a Private Member's Bill should remain at the bottom of the Order Paper for no known or apparent reason. I cannot see what possible object the sponsor of the Bill will conceivably achieve by cutting short the debate today.

I know, just as the Opposition know, that, whenever any attempt is made to curtail a debate, the time involved in discussing the curtailment very often is a lot longer than the time which would have been involved in dealing with the Bill under discussion. I remind the hon. Member for Staffordshire, South-West (Mr. Cormack) of that, because, had this motion not been moved, it is more than likely that his Bill would have had an airing. Any motion to curtail a debate always generates more discussion on both sides, for and against, than the original subject for debate is likely to generate.

We still have another hour and 10 minutes in which to debate the Bill. I suggest that that time should be devoted to the pros and cons of the Bill and that we should not cut short our discussion of the Bill in the way that the hon. Member for Reading, North suggests.

2.50 p.m.

I rise to speak on this motion to adjourn the debate because I think that the Under-Secretary has done himself and this House less than justice.

My hon. Friend the Member for Reading, North (Mr. Durant) proposed his motion in brief and explicit terms. His motion is entirely unexceptionable. With one exception, every hon. Member had said what he wanted to say in the debate. What is more, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Thanet, West (Mr. Rees-Davies) reminded us, this House had the opportunity very recently to debate a similar measure and to take it through its Committee stage. Had it not been for the manipulation of a procedural device by a certain noble Lord in the other place, that measure would have been on the statute book already.

It is shabby that under the guise of a speech on an adjournment motion, the Under-Secretary should launch into a tirade against my right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) and others who have debated this Bill with eloquence and fervour. When my hon. Friend the Member for Reading, North moved his motion there had been some three and a half hours debate.

This House is watched by the country. In his long point of order, the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Ogden) said that there were eyes upon us. Those are not just eyes which are within the capital city. All over the country people look to this House knowing that two extremely important motions are on today's Order Paper. The first is the Local Lotteries Bill, on which my hon. Friend the Member for Reading, North sought to adjourn the debate. The second is the measure which hon. Members on both sides of the House supported me in presenting—the Cinematograph and Indecent Displays Bill. That is a Bill which touches everyone in the country and which could have a profound effect on all children in the country. If for no other reason, in my view we should adjourn the debate and permit that measure to have an airing. I know that many hon. Members on both sides of the House take a contrary view. One hon. Member has already indicated his reasons for doing so.

All that my hon. Friend the Member for Reading, North wanted to do in seek-to adjourn the debate on my right hon. Friend's Bill was to serve the interests of this House and of the country. He was trying to ensure that we debated another extremely important measure, and I was grateful to him for his motion.

The Under-Secretary had been in the Chamber for most of the debate. If he had wished, he could have intervened earlier to try to tear my right hon. Friend's Bill to tatters. Instead, he got steamed up, waited for an entirely proper procedural motion to be moved and, under the guise of an attack upon that motion, launched into an attack on a very splendid Bill.

That was not my intention. My intention was to wind up the debate from this side of the House at the end of the afternoon, in the ordinary manner.

That underlines the significance of my argument. If that was the hon. Gentleman's intention, he should have made that his point when he opposed the adjournment motion and quickly sat down so that the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby could make his speech. In those circumstances, I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Reading, North would have withdrawn his motion, and then the Under-Secretary could have made a proper winding-up speech on the merits of the Bill instead of treating us to almost half an hour of nonsense directed against my right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby.

Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that we should accept the adjournment motion in order to debate another matter which appears on the Order Paper? If so, that is rather interesting. I can remember a Friday when we were discussing Private Members' Bills, and I was sponsoring a Bill which appeared in second place on the Order Paper—in exactly the same position as the Bill being promoted by the hon. Member for Staffordshire, South-West (Mr. Cormack). In first place on the Order Paper there was a completely innocuous Bill with which hon. Members on all sides agreed. However, the debate on it went on until five minutes to four, and I had to contain my impatience. I am afraid that I cannot accept the doctrine being advanced by the hon. Gentleman.

Will the hon. Gentleman give way? I ask that to indicate that in my view, in the guise of an intervention, the hon. Gentleman was making another speech. He has made one already. We all appreciate the difficulties on Fridays, especially for those of us who are not top of the batting order.

I was saying that my hon. Friend the Member for Reading, North sought to do a service to the House and to the country by suggesting that a topic which had been debated fully should be adjourned, not because he wished to cut short a proper and full ventilation of committee points in the right place and at the right time but because he knew from his post bag, as I am sure other hon. Members know from theirs, that another measure with all-party support was on the Order Paper and that people all over the country who do not fully understand our procedures were expecting it to be debated.

How can the hon. Gentleman say as part of his case that the matter has been debated fully when my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Ogden) desires to take part in the debate and when the Minister wishes to wind up the debate?

The Minister did not indicate his desire to wind up the debate until a couple of minutes ago. Whatever else he may have said during the half hour that he was at the Dispatch Box, he never indicated that what he wanted to do was to wind up the debate.

May I point out to the hon. Gentleman that I came here today to take part in this debate? I left the Chamber for a short time to have some refreshment and, while I was away, an hon. Member moved the adjournment of the debate. How was I supposed to know that that would happen? I am still prepared to speak. Will the hon. Gentleman accept that, having done a great deal of research into the matter, I am anxious to contribute to the debate?

That in itself is not a very good reflection of the way in which some hon. Members treat this House if they do not listen to major speaches. The hon. Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. Stallard) has not been in the Chamber for the greater part of the debate. He may have been doing some research. I do not dispute that. But he has missed several of the speeches. If he had been listening he would have been able to take part. When each of the three previous speakers from the Government side got up, he was not even in the Chamber—

On a point of order. The hon. Member has made a grave reflection on my hon. Friend. He said that had not heard the major speech. To my knowledge, my hon. Friend was here for the major speech. I hope that the hon. Member, with appropriate courtesy, will withdraw that grave allegation.

I said that the hon. Member was not here for a large part of the debate. Anything that I have said which may be taken as a reflection on the hon. Member's integrity, I unreservedly withdraw, but he was not here when the three previous Labour speakers rose to speak.

It is proper that this debate should be adjourned and that we should proceed to the next business, upon which millions of people are looking to the House to come to a decision.

3.0 p.m.

We might at least agree that life in this Chamber sometimes gets complicated. The right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) must be wishing that he could be saved from his supporters. If the hon. Member for Reading, North (Mr. Durant) had not misjudged his time, and if my natural modesty had not prevented me from bounding to my feet when it was time for a speaker from the other side of the House—we on this side take turns to rise, rather than getting up in a body—I should by now have made my speech, the Minister would have replied and we could have reached a conclusion on this Bill.

I am concerned that the right hon. Member for Crosby should say that only one hon. Member rose to speak when that one happened to be me. I think that he will agree that one from Merseyside equals half a dozen from somewhere else. I take it that he is not trying to kill a speech from his own area on his own Bill.

Hon. Members have said that the Bill was read a Second time last Session. It was not last Session but in the last Parliament. The fact that it had a Second Reading in the last Parliament is no guarantee that it will have one in this Parliament.

The motion for the adjournment is mistimed. The hon. Member should have noted that one other hon. Member was in the Chamber.

I have two simple points to make on the Bill. The first is that it is not the job of a local authority to go into the gambling business. The second relates to the practical effect of the Bill on my constituents.

If even one hon. Member cannot get in for five minutes at this time of day, when he has been here since 11 o'clock, it is not yet time for the House to adjourn.

3.3 p.m.

We are witnessing a monstrous abuse of the House of Commons. My hon. Friend the Member for Reading, North (Mr. Durant) put his motion briefly, sanely, quietly and sensibly to try to bring some conclusion to these proceedings. I was present throughout the Second Reading and Committee stage of my right hon. Friend's Bill when it was last debated. I would say to two of the nicest Ministers in the Government that at least one of them for the second Friday running is behaving in a way which is unworthy.

We have heard during the last week about some mysterious Cabinet Committee which has now been set up to decide what should be done about Private Members' Bills, which is a monstrous and disgraceful way for any Government to behave towards Private Members' business. The present procedure is miserable and deceitful, nothing short of skulduggery. Following the behaviour of Lord Wigg in another place, also aimed at killing off this Bill, this procedure is disgraceful. I entirely agree with the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross) that this sort of behaviour is bringing this House and this Parliament into disrepute.

We have already had a through debate on this Bill. I do not wish to weary the House with what happened, but if hon. Members refer to the Official Report of the proceedings of Standing Committee C which considered the Local Revenue Bill they will see that on a number of occasions the Home Office, in particular, tried to defeat the purposes of the Bill.

What has happened is disgraceful. I am almost ashamed to be here. The occupants of the Government Front Bench look uncomfortable. They should feel uncomfortable. One Minister has left: he has crawled out in shame. What has happened is rotten.

I wish to help the House. We are considering whether the debate on the Bill should be adjourned. What happened in previous Parliaments is irrelevant. What happened during the Committee stage of another Bill is irrelevant—

What happened during the Committee stage of that Bill is irrelevant to the Question whether the debate on the Second Reading of this Bill should be adjourned.

The Under-Secretary of State said that if the Second Reading debate on this Bill was adjourned it would preclude the Government from introducing their own Bill and having a Second Reading debate on it. Apparently, the proceedings on the Government's Bill could not take place as long as an adjourned Second Reading debate was on the Order Paper.

I seek your guidance, Mr. Deputy Speaker, on whether the rules of the House preclude the Government or anyone else from tabling for Second Reading a Bill with the same title and having much the same purpose while an adjourned Second Reading debate on a similar Bill is still on the Order Paper.

The Government Bill is much wider in scope than is the Bill now under discussion. The motion would not preclude the Government Bill from going forward.

If your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, is that if the Second Reading debate on this Bill were adjourned and the Bill were to go to the bottom of the Order Paper—which would mean that virtually it would be dead—it would not preclude the Government's Bill from going forward, I do not know what objection the Under-Secretary of State can have to that course being followed.

The right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) could make a contribution to the general feeling of good will that I am trying to promote by withdrawing his Bill. He will have achieved his object, because the Second Reading debate on his Bill will remain on the Order Paper but it will never be resumed. The right hon. Gentleman knows from his experience in government, and I know from my experience in the Whips' Office, that an adjourned Second Reading debate is seldom resumed.

That was over a long time and only with the agreement of the Government Whips. Either that, or they were caught napping, and when I was in the Whips' Office we were never caught napping—certainly not on Fridays, because I was always here.

I suggest that from the right hon. Gentleman's point of view it would be a satisfactory solution for him to withdraw the Bill. His object would be achieved. I know that the title of the Bill would no longer be on the Order Paper, but the Government would be able to go forward without peradventure, and honour would be satisfied on both sides.

3.10 p.m.

I notified your predecessor in the Chair, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that I did not want to take part in the debate unless I was provoked. I am afraid that I have been provoked, because the motion to adjourn the debate presupposes that the issues have been fully and adequately discussed. They have not. There is profound ignorance about the objects of the Bill and what it is likely to achieve, and that ignorance has been exhibited by my colleagues.

We have the example of the hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross) who obviously has never read the Bill. He imagines that it has something to do with sports clubs, but it has nothing to do with them. A cursory glance at the Bill would tell him that it had nothing to do with sports clubs. As these matters have not been fully debated and understood even by hon. Members the debate should not be adjourned.

There is a reference in the Bill to Section 137(2) of the Local Government Act 1972 and the 2p rate to be used for recreational and similar purposes. So it is in the Bill, and I have read it.

Order. I refer the House to Standing Order No. 27. We are on what is termed a dilatory motion and the debate thereon should be confined to the matter of such motion, which is whether or not the debate should be adjourned. I should be grateful if hon. Members would not attempt to embark upon details within the Bill.

Certainly, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I know that it is a dilatory motion. I am anxious that we should not adjourn the debate until the subject of the Bill has been made crystal clear to hon. Members. That seems to be perfectly proper.

On the other hand, the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) and several of his colleagues argued that the fact that the Bill was discussed in a previous Parliament was not relevant. Does not my hon. Friend agree that exactly the contrary argument was used when the Anti-Discrimination Bill was given official Government time and the hon. Member for Woolwich, West supported that argument?

Far be it from me to discuss the Anti-Discrimination Bill. I want to confine myself to the motion before the House. It has not been properly seized by the House or the Press that the idea of vast sums being raised in relief of the ratepayers is nonsense. The mover of the Bill did not even mention the 40 per cent. pool betting duty to which the money would be subject. I do not think that any succeeding speaker has mentioned that.

I beg my hon. and learned Friend's pardon. I know that he has a nodding acquaintance with the subject.

As the gravity of the situation has not impinged upon the minds of Members of Parliament, let alone upon the Press and still less upon local authorities, we should debate this matter at greater length, so that the Bill is fully understood and appreciated by the people who will be affected by it. I am afraid that there is a great sense of euphoria on this topic.

Surely if the motion is accepted by the House and the Bill goes to the end of the list and the Government Bill goes forward, all the matters about which my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Sir S. McAdden) is anxious will be debated.

I think that my hon. Friend is not as familiar with the procedures of the House as I am. If the Bill goes to the end of the list, it will never be debated at all. Therefore, these great issues will not be raised for discussion.

That is not what I said. I said that the Government Bill will come forward and that on Second Reading my hon. Friend's anxieties can all be debated.

That may be so, but it is wrong to debate my right hon. Friend's Bill at present since that is not the motion now before the House. Indeed, at present it would be wrong to debate my right hon. Friend's Bill or a Bill which the Government may introduce in future. Therefore, I shall confine myself to the motion before the House, which is an adjournment motion.

My hon. Friend the Member for Reading, North (Mr. Durant) may argue that there will be room to debate the subject later, but he is wrong. It is extremely unlikely that this subject will be debated at a later stage. I am anxious that these matters should be discussed now and that all the facts of the situation should be before the House, rather than that we should merely rely on extravagant stories about relief to London's rates amounting to £50 million. That is a lot of nonsense. Nothing like that sum will be available. The public must recognise that 40 per cent. of the money will go in pool betting duty and 20 per cent. in expenses and in other directions. After the figure is grossed up, there will be hardly any contribution to relieve the rates.

If the public knew those facts, the present propaganda would not receive the support that it appears to be achieving. Therefore, I plead with the House to allow more time to debate this subject, so that we shall have a greater knowledge of the whole situation. I said all this during the Second Reading of the last piece of legislation on this subject, and I repeat it today.

3.18 p.m.

I have great pleasure in finding myself in complete agreement with the hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir S. McAdden). It only goes to show that this Bill, just like the Common Market issue, cuts across party lines. Therefore, there is no point in making it a party political issue.

I was very surprised to hear the hon. Member for Staffordshire, South-West (Mr. Cormack) say that the eyes of the world were on the House this afternoon, and that all were waiting to know the result of the debate on this wretched little Bill. The eyes of the world are not on us. I am almost certain that today's proceedings will scarcely be reported in tomorrow's newspapers but that, instead they will be filled with more sporting events than the one on which we are now engaged.

With the best will in the world, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you have done your best. We have been debating two motions at one and the same time—the first relating to the Second Reading of the Bill, which you have correctly tried to limit, and, secondly, the motion for the adjournment of the debate.

The Chair did not attempt to limit the original discussion on the Bill. What the Chair must endeavour to do is to limit within close confines discussion of the merits or demerits of adjourning this debate. I should like to make that correction to what the hon. Gentleman said.

I fully accept what you say, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If anything I have said is capable of being misunderstood, I withdraw it completely. I came to the House at 11 o'clock this morning and made arrangements to stay here until 4 o'clock for the purpose of discussing the Local Lotteries Bill. I do not want to be frustrated in the discharge of my parliamentary duties by some procedural wrangle introduced by the hon. Member for Reading, North (Mr. Durant) at such a comparatively late stage in these proceedings. Although it has been introduced at a late stage, it has still prevented us from the full discussion to which the hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir S. McAdden) referred. There are still many things to be said and I should have liked the opportunity (of saying them. If the motion is carried, a very good speech that I have prepared will never see the light of day. That would indeed be a disastrous culmination to a long political career.

The Order Paper is already cluttered up with a lot of rubbish. We do not want it unnecessarily cluttered up with Bills, items or motions which will never be discussed. I do not understand why the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) is unwilling to withdraw the Bill. In effect, it makes no difference to him or to anybody else if the Bill is withdrawn and the Order Paper is cleared so that we can get on to the next business.

By his motion the hon. Member for Reading, North is preventing the House from having a full discussion on the Bill and, when the House in its wisdom has decided that that full discussion has taken place, proceeding to the next Bill on the Order Paper.

I appeal to the right hon. Member for Crosby to withdraw his Bill and to the hon. Member for Reading, North to withdraw his motion. Let us get on with the business before the House, so that our work is not unnecessarily confused by the ridiculous performance to which we have been subjected today.

I am not sure whether I need the leave of the House to speak again or whether this is another motion—[HON. MEMBERS: "This is another motion."] Then I can speak freely.

I do not want to play the silly game that the Government Front Bench are playing with me. The normal procedure, when a private Member has a Bill on a subject on which the Government propose to bring forward their own measures, is for the private Member to have an adjourned debate, or to talk to the end of the day, leaving the Bill on the Order Paper until the Government come forward with their own proposal. That is the normal procedure. I say that advisedly because I have done it previously.

The advantage is that it acts as a sword of Damocles hanging over the Government to bring forward their legislation. I want to put forward a proposition, because I think that the House should proceed with other legislation on the Order Paper.

What the right hon. Gentleman said would be relevant if the Government had not brought forward their Bill. I accept the logic of saying that a private Member can move the adjournment of the debate so that his Bill stays on the Order Paper and acts as a sword of Damocles hanging over the Government to bring forward their alternative, but they have done that. Therefore, I see no merit in wasting further time. My hon. Friend the Member for Lambeth, Central (Mr. Lipton) said that he had prepared a marvellous speech. Hon. Members should hear the one that I would have made. That is grieving me as much as anything. I cannot see the merit of the device being used by the right hon. Gentleman.

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will exercise self-sacrifice and not make the great speech that he was going to make. I ask hon. Members to allow the House to go on to the next business. I have no reason to believe that the Government will not bring forward their legislation. I should like an assurance that it is the intention to bring forward the Government Bill at an early stage. It was introduced only two days before my Bill was on the Order Paper for Second Reading. I suspected, along with many other people, that there was no real intention of the Government's going ahead with their Bill. It was suspected that it was placed on the Order Paper to stall my Bill.

If I had a complete assurance that the Government have every intention of going forward with their Bill within the next few weeks—I know that the Ministers on the Government Front Bench do not control the conduct of the business and I do not ask them to say whether it will be brought forward next week or the following week—it would not matter to me whether this debate were adjourned or whether I withdrew my Bill. I ask for an assurance before I take any step regarding my Bill.

The Government could be in grave danger if my Bill were taken to a Division and if the House voted against it. The Government would be in extreme difficulty in putting anything that is contained in my Bill into their own Bill, as the House would have decided the question. All that I was trying to do was to leave the House with the freedom to debate and decide upon the Government Bill.

As I have already explained, I disagree with the Government's Bill on only one point. I would fight the Government on that point in Committee. I believe that I am putting forward a reasonable proposition which will allow the House to proceed with further business this afternoon. If I had the assurance that I seek from the Government Front Bench, namely, that there is a full intention of proceeding with the Government Bill—

I see that the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Ogden) wishes to intervene. If I had a Government assurance I should beg to ask leave to withdraw the Bill which came before the House today for Second Reading. That could be done in time to allow the next item of business to proceed for a short time. I am asking for an assurance that there is an intention to go forward with the Government Bill, so that the Government do not merely use it as a strategem to defeat my Bill.

3.28 p.m.

I am amazed by the proposition which the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) has put to the House at this stage of our proceedings—

I have only just started. If the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to develop my argument I shall give way willingly. I know that he and I have much in common in trying to arrange for local authorities to be able to raise revenue other than by rates and to supplement rates. I am with him on that basic argument. However, it is a bit much at this time to put a proposition of such a nature before the House.

I must begin by apologising to you. Mr. Deputy Speaker, and to the House, for my late intervention in this debate. The reason for my late appearance is that like so many other hon. Members on a Friday I was fitting in a constituency engagement. This morning I was engaged in such a manner in my constituency. That delayed my attendance. On top of that, I had another important function to perform, namely, to interview a prospective employee whom I was considering taking into my employ as a private secretary. That is a matter of some importance. I apologise for the lateness of my intervention. I am sure that the House will understand and forgive my late arrival.

I came to the House today to support the right hon. Gentleman's Bill in broad principle. I came in the hope that the debate would not be overlong because I wanted to have the opportunity of supporting the Bill of the hon. Member for Cannock (Mr. Roberts)—the Cinematograph and Indecent Displays Bill. But he has frustrated me in that desire because he himself has supported the hon. Member for Reading, North (Mr. Durant) in this disgraceful motion for the adjournment of the debate on his right hon. Friend's Bill. There are many things I shall not trespass upon—