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Ready Money Football Betting Bill

Volume 41: debated on Wednesday 11 August 1920

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Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.

My Lords, this Bill has been carefully considered in another place. It is supported by the Football Association, which represents 15,000 amateur amid 500 professional clubs, a quarter of a million amateur players and 6,000 professional players. When a body of that kind is united in the view that an evil exists in connection with coupon betting and that it is detrimental to the great game of football being played in a proper and pure manner, then in the interests of sport and honesty in connection with one of our great field recreations I think your Lordships need not hesitate to pass the Second Reading of this Bill. Further, as the football season is approaching I ask that it may be permitted to pass through all its stages, so that as soon as the football season commences it will be actually the law of the land.

It has been found in a great number of factories, mills, workshops, and shipyards that a system has been growing up which enables a certain number of firms and bookmakers to reap a great harvest out of the young men by this coupon system. The men of most influence in these works are often induced to become agents, with the result that something like 40 per cent. of the money taken goes in profits to the firms, and those who speculate receive very inadequate terms in connection with this system. Perhaps the worst part of it is that those who play football are tempted to act in a way which may prevent the game being played in the true British and sporting spirit which we all desire. It is because of these evils, and on account of this Bill, together with the penalties, having been very carefully considered in another place, that I beg to move the Second Reading.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.(Lord Gainford.)

I hope that your Lordships will give a Second Reading to this Bill. I support it from the point of view of sport. In my younger days I was a most enthusiastic football player, and I am sure that all football players must feel that this ready money football betting is detrimental to one of our principal manly field games. The noble Lord, Lord Gain-ford, has given you some very good reasons why the Bill should he passed, but I am going to ask you to think of it from the national point of view. Our urban population is increasing at an enormous rate, and if we want to have a generation of really strong and healthy men we must do all we can to encourage these manly virile sports. This system of ready money football betting does more to destroy real football than almost anything. The men who put their money into it do not care twopence about football. My hope, therefore, is that after this Bill is passed football will become a really pure national game, which will immensely increase the physique of our race.

My Lords, I do not think it is necessary for me to detain your Lordships by adding anything to the two interesting speeches delivered by the noble Lord who moved the Second Reading of the Bill and the noble Earl who followed him. I would only say that the Government view this Bill with sympathy and are prepared to support its passage into law.

On Question, Bill read 2a.

I hope that your Lordships will agree to take all the stages of the Bill to-day. I move that the House resolve itself into Committee.

Moved (Standing Order No. XXXIX having been suspended) that the House do now resolve itself into Committee,— (Lord Gainford.)

I venture to think this is really a rather strong request. Although I am entirely in favour of the Bill, look at the benches of the House, and you will agree that it is not quite fair to ask us to take all the stages of a Bill of this kind, on which there may be something to be said on the other side. This method of suspending the Standing Orders so as to pass necessary legislation is very proper in matters of urgency, but this Bill cannot surely be considered urgent. No doubt there is a certain advantage in passing it into law before the football season commences, but if it is passed into law a few weeks after it has commenced it will stop the evil. I think your Lordships would be very unwise to depart from your privilege of discussing this Bill in its various stages.

I recognise that the noble Marquess is a great authority on procedure, and it is only because the Bill has been unanimously accepted in another place, accepted also by the Government, and is really required in the interests of pure football so that this system should not commence at the beginning of the football season, that I hope your Lordships will consider this a rather special matter, an urgent matter, and pass the Bill through all its stages. If I thought any one had anything to say against the Bill I should take a different view.

I have no right to say anything because I am the greatest offender, but I would remind Lord Gainford that this Bill was brought from the House of Commons on June 15, and he now asks your Lordships to take it through all its stages.

May I also make an observation? Clause 1 of the Bill contains a number of technical expressions which I should not be prepared to sanction passing into law until I have considered them.

That being the view of the noble and learned Lord, I will not press the point, but will put down the Committee stage for to-morrow.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.