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Mr. Duffy : Did the hon. Gentleman consult the Racecourse Staff Association--the men who man the gates? Well, did he? Silence. The hon. Gentleman claimed that of the bodies he consulted he found only two who were opposed to the Bill. However, my chairman, the hon. Member for Devizes, and I attended the last conference of the industry held on this subject less than 18 months ago
Column 628at Sandown park. The hon. Member for Devizes will confirm--because he is familiar with the record which I have here-- that more than two of the organisations on the list of the hon. Member for Berkshire, East came out against Sunday racing before this most representative gathering of the industry. More than two qualified their position, as I shall show.
The Horserace Betting Levy Board asked if racing was united and--as I have done-- if this was the right time to introduce Sunday racing. The Betting Office Licensees Associaton said that there should be no compensatory blank day, but the National Trainers Federation thought that there would have to be one. To some of us, that seemed to torpedo the case for Sunday racing.
Did the hon. Member for Berkshire, East consult the staff of the Betting Office Licensees Association, as distinct from the TGWU? It is true that the TGWU organises both sets of staff but it tends to be identified with the stable lads. Did the hon. Gentleman consult the staff of the betting offices? They firmly oppose the Bill.
Mr. Thurnham : The hon. Gentleman seems to suggest that the whole of Sunday racing should be run by a sort of cartel of people who would get together to decide whether there should be racing on certain days. The Bill does not suggest for a moment that anyone should be made to race on Sunday. If people do not want to, they need not.
Mr. Duffy : The stable lads, under the leadership of Bill Adams--as opposed to the TGWU--told the conference that 95 per cent. of its members voted against Sunday racing. They oppose the present pay structure, the unacceptable pay deal for evening racing which gives them little, or sometimes no, overtime, and the small payment
Mr. Holt : The hon. Gentleman is speaking entirely about racing. The Bill before us is about Sunday sport. Let us take the hon. Gentleman's argument to its logical conclusion--did the professional Football Association consult anyone before starting to play football on Sundays? Did anyone go round asking the men who man the turnstiles whether they wanted Sunday football? As the hon. Gentleman is against racing on Sunday, would he also seek to enforce the law and ban all other sports that take place on Sundays?
Mr. Andrew Mackay : Before he leaves this subject, will the hon. Gentleman answer this question : does he think that it is purely my advocacy that has caused people to write to me with a completely different view from the one that he says that they put forward at the meeting at Sandown park 18 months ago ; or does he think that they are all lying to me in their letters?
Mr. Duffy : The hon. Gentleman must make up his own mind on that matter. I have already shown the House a considerable and growing discrepancy between his earlier claims and my findings, from which his hon. Friend the Member for Devizes cannot and, I know will not, dissent.
Column 629The National Trainers Federation entertains reservations, not only about the possible blank day but about costs and staff redeployment. The Jockeys Association thought there should be a blank day, possibly, Monday, on which there could be evening racing. It was concerned about the possibility of traffic jams on bank holiday Mondays. The Jockeys' Valets Association was against the Bill because it thought that seven days work would erode family life. Interestingly, the Racegoers Club said that 78 per cent. of its members were in favour but warned that attendances would not rise dramatically because they would drop between Monday and Friday. It did not believe the Bill would increase opportunities to generate increased spending throughout the industry over the week.
The hon. Member for Berkshire, East will accept that the industry is not united on this matter. Important components of it are either against the idea or have strong reservations about it. The hon. Gentleman also said that it was vitally important that no one working in racing should feel exploited or be denied the opportunity of consultation. However, in a recent survey by The Times, the facilities for stable staff at Wolverhampton racecourse were described as a disgrace. A recent survey, not by the Jockey Club but by a trade union, discovered that mattresses in the lads' hostel were dirty and showed signs of bedwetting.
Mr. Duffy : It has this to do with it--when, only recently, the Jockey Club set up a working party on Sunday racing, it could not be bothered to invite the stable lads' representatives--either Bill Adams or the TGWU--to join it. That is how important my example is. The hon. Member for Berkshire, East said that no one in racing should feel exploited or be denied the opportunity of consultation, but to that I would add that no one should feel neglected. The hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friend the Member for Crawley--who described the idyllic conditions at Longchamp--believe that racecourses can provide family entertainment. In the view of the Horserace Betting Levy Board we shall not see those conditions here until hooliganism has been dealt with. [ Hon. Members :-- "Come on--try harder."] I shall come on. I do not have to try any harder because there is enough evidence of the growing incidence not only of hooliganism but of loutish behaviour and violence. Last year there was a fatal stabbing of a racegoer at Newmarket.
Mr. Duffy : Bookmakers have been assaulted at Redcar, Haydock and York. Even at such fashionable courses as Ascot, Lingfield and Goodwood there has been drunkenness and hooliganism, despite the best efforts of the Jockey Club to stamp out such problems.
Mr. Soames : The hon. Gentleman is raising an important point that is of great concern to the industry and to the people who run racecourses. Does he accept--even in the middle of his bilious little speech--that the Jockey Club and the racing authorities throughout the country acknowledge the problem? They have taken important, prompt and effective steps to ensure that, where possible, such problems do not arise, and they will take any necessary further steps. As the hon. Gentleman
Column 630well knows, the thrust of his argument is entirely negative. It is not a reason in any sense for not proceeding with the Bill.
Mr. Duffy : No, because I wish to proceed with my speech. I shall give those hon. Members who have not spoken a chance to intervene, but I hope that those hon. Members who have already intervened will allow me to proceed.
The hon. Member for Berkshire, East claimed that racing is now ripe for family entertainment. The Horserace Betting Levy Board takes the view that that is not so, and in view of the evidence that I have given to the House it is quite demonstrably not ripe for family entertainment. The hon. Gentleman said that he had been influenced by racegoers interviewed on a racecourse, but he has not taken the trouble to consult those who live near racecourses and who will be most affected. I have done that and I can tell the House that such people object very strongly to the traditional peace of their Sunday afternoons being disturbed in this way. They ask, "Can we not have one day free?" I now come to what seems to be the strongest argument made by the hon. Gentleman, the matter of choice.
Mr. Holt : Has the hon. Gentleman discovered from his researches which racecourse has the most days' racing per year? As a consequence of the Bill that course would have one more day's racing per year. How can the people in the neighbourhood of that course be materially affected if at the moment the maximum number of days out of 365 on which they can be disturbed is probably 18?
Mr. Duffy : I have no doubt that when research in the neighbourhood of racecourses similar to that undertaken in the area of football grounds is available to us we shall find the same results. The hon. Member for Berkshire, East settled for an interview of racegoers carried out at Haydock park. My consultations with people who live near racecourses, which did not depend on second hand research, show that those people will be as much opposed to Sunday racing as people who live near football grounds are opposed to Sunday football. I shall now return to what seemed to be the strongest point made by the hon. Member for Berkshire, East--the one about choice. A balance needs to be maintained. Freedom to pursue leisure interests for some involves others in the obligation of work. A meeting called by the Transport and General Workers Union at Newmarket a year ago attracted the attendance of Bill Adams and prompted a report. The report says :
"One lad caught the mood of the meeting when he said : I think we are going to be told "there is Sunday racing and you must work", rather than us having any choice in the matter.
I want to be at home with my family, not working. A day off during the week is no good, because wives are working and kids are at school.' "
In many important respects that simple contribution from the stable lad says more than any of us will say in the debate for that side of the argument.
When racing is on an ordinary day it will become an ordinary working day for many people, in addition to those employed in racing. Can we not have one day free
Column 631from normal pressures to provide opportunities for rest, recreation, reflection and worship? Must all seven days of the week now become the same? Of course, recreation, leisure pursuits and social habits have changed. They may now involve some of us in travel and organised recreation, but there is a balance to be kept. There is more to social life than trading, commerce and betting and in opening betting shops in the high street especially for the purpose, irrespective of the wishes of the staff in those betting shops. I challenge the hon. Member for Crawley to repeat what he said sotto voce to his hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire, East a moment ago. I thought I heard him say, "Quite right."
Mr. Soames : What I said was, "Hear, hear." The hon. Gentleman is getting so carried away with his bile that he is losing track of what other Members have said. I agree that proper arrangements have to be made for people who work on Sunday. Does he admit that part of his bitch against Sunday racing is that the Ladbroke organisation will not allow TGWU membership in its branches? I remember a senior official of the TGWU telling me plainly that if we were able to square this away we could have the Bill without any opposition from the TGWU. How does the hon. Gentleman answer that?
Mr. Duffy : I know what the hon. Gentleman is saying. Ladbroke and especially its chairman, are only part of the problem. Unfortunately there is a bigger problem here and it is coming across. I say with the greatest respect that some Conservative Members are giving the impression that there will be Sunday racing irrespective of the wishes of the people who are most directly involved, and especially the wishes of stable lads and others, such as the staff of betting shops who are organised by the Transport and General Workers' Union. There must be a balance, not only within the industry but between the industry and the rest of society. Genuine humanism requires such a perspective. That is confirmed by the Christian vision of Sunday. For all its shortcomings the regulated Sunday is a sign that points society beyond itself and affords people the opportunity to stand back and renew themselves. That is the meaning of recreation. It is not horse racing, motor racing, cricket, football or cinemas. That is the view of 1,800 people across the city of Sheffield who have signed these petitions and have asked me to convey their views to the House.
Those people believe that there is another view of Sunday that is precious, has served this country well and needs to be retained. For racing on Sunday to become a practical possibility there must be, first, greater unity in the industry, such as that which the Horserace Betting Levy Board has called for. Secondly, there must be such improvement in the working conditions as is acceptable to the labour movement. Thirdly, there must be a more sensitive approach by the promoters of the Bill to the social consequences. Fourthly and finally, there must be reassurances for the churches and for those hon. Members who wish to preserve our traditional Sunday. We must not simply dismiss those people, as the hon. Member for Berkshire, East has done, as sabbatarian zealots. The hon. Gentleman does not meet those requirements and neither does his Bill. I shall vote against it.
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Sir Charles Morrison (Devizes) : The hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Duffy) has the best interests of racing at heart. I well know that because, as he has told the House, he is vice chairman of the racing committee of which I have the honour to be chairman. I also know that the hon. Gentleman has done a great deal on behalf of racing, especially in the north of England. Therefore, it is with considerable regret that I have to take him to task and strongly disagree with him on the Bill. He is misjudging the situation to a considerable extent.
The hon. Member for Attercliffe said that this is not the right time to introduce the Bill, but by the end of his speech I was no clearer about when the right time would be. He said that my hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire, East (Mr. MacKay) was not the right person to introduce the Bill. I entirely disagree. In my judgment my hon. Friend spoke as a very good constituency Member of Parliament. After all, in his constituency he has one of the three or four major racecourses at which there are a considerable number of race meetings during the year. He has taken the trouble to obtain the reactions of his constituents who live in the vicinity of the racecourse and he has concluded--I am not sure whether it was unanimous--that a large number and certainly a fair majority--
Sir Charles Morrison : Certainly a majority favour Sunday racing. I would go further than that. Far from being unsuitable to support his Bill, my hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire, East is a much more suitable hon. Member to introduce the Bill than someone who might be described as a racing Member.
My hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire, East has not been influenced by any subjective, partisan or pro-racing thoughts. He is reported as saying that racing bores him. Therefore he clearly has the interests of his constituents and other members of the public at heart, in spite of his being bored with the sport.
My hon. Friend has reached an objective judgment about the right of his constituents to do what they want on a Sunday. On the other hand, it is quite clear that he will have taken account of any opposition among his constituents before he concluded that he wanted to sponsor the Bill.
Taking all those considerations into account, the foremost evidence of the support for the Bill is the fact that my hon. Friend has decided to introduce it once again. I do not detract from the splendid job performed by my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley (Mr. Soames) last year. He was a kind of John the Baptist in this respect. The Bill has a better chance of reaching fruition as people interested in Sunday sport, and particularly in racing, have had more time to consider the Bill's pros and cons.
It seemed rather excessive for the hon. Member for Attercliffe to assume that there should be unanimous support for the Bill from everyone who has anything to do with racing or from every member of the public. If this House worked on that basis, no legislation would be passed.
Column 633With one exception, the Bill regularises what is happening already in the light of changing social conditions. Sunday sports have become a tradition. It may be a tradition which did not exist 20 years ago, but in recent years prople have traditionally enjoyed some form of Sunday sport for which they have paid, either legally or illegally--and very often the latter.
If the Bill's opponents feel so strongly, why have they not tried to initiate prosecutions under the Sunday Observance Act 1780? Why has the Lord's Day Observance Society not done that? Does it want to stop the final of the Open golf, or Wimbledon or Henley Royal regatta? Does it want to stop Sunday cricket or Sunday football? Does it not have the courage of its own convictions? Or does it realise that it would have very little public support, and if it acted it would create a major wave of public indignation and hostility? In truth, I suspect that the Lord's Day Observance Society knows as well as the rest of us that it is no more than an anachronistic facade dedicated solely to opposing the entainment and freedom of other people. My hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire, East referred to the more moderate Keep Sunday Special campaign. It is worth mentioning in passing that a publication produced last year entitled "The Sunday Sport Question" by Mr. Simon Jones contained a foreword by the Right Rev. David Sheppard, the Bishop of Liverpool. The foreword's first sentence reads :
"As Christians we have no right to impose our values on the whole of society."
I think that he is absolutely right. Of course he went on to qualify that statement. However, I agree with his opening statement. That was a reasonable way of approaching the question whether sport on Sunday should be legalised.
Miss Widdecombe : My hon. Friend has just referred to the fact that Christians should not seek to impose their standards on the rest of society, and a similar comment was made by my hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire, East (Mr. MacKay). Does my hon. Friend accept that the opposition to deregulation measures for Sundays comes from much wider quarters than just Christians? It also comes from workers who are concerned about their days of rest and from people who want a traditional Sunday. The opposition is somewhat broader than he has given it credit for.
Sir Charles Morrison : Of course I agree with my hon. Friend. There is some opposition to this measure, not just from active Christians, but from a range of people. However, the same is true of every measure that passes through the House. There is no compulsion in the Bill. It simply provides a certain number of people with an opportunity to do what they want on Sunday in the same way as the people described by my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe) have the opportunity to do what they want on Sunday. I want now to consider the exception in the Bill relating to the legalisation of existing Sunday sports--explicitly betting and implicitly horse racing. Is horse racing wanted on Sunday? The evidence is that it is. Last year, before the Bill reached the light of day, there was considerable discussion. The Jockey Club had undertaken a comprehensive inquiry and concluded that there was strong support for Sunday racing.
A recent survey on Sunday horse racing showed that 51 per cent. of those questioned said that Sunday racing
Column 634should be allowed and another 20 per cent. said that they did not mind whether it happened, or they had no opinion. In other words, 71 per cent. of those questioned were in favour of, or not opposed to it. Obviously those figures show that 29 per cent. said that Sunday racing should not be allowed.
Mr. Martlew : With regard to opinion polls, is the hon. Gentleman aware that 75 per cent. of the population of this country are against the privatisation of water? I suspect that that will not stop it getting through the House.
Sir Charles Morrison : I do not believe that opinion polls are the be-all or end-all, but they provide a guide. Whereas 75 per cent. may be against the privatisation of water now--no doubt many will change their minds in the fullness of time--in relation to this Bill we start with the knowledge that 71 per cent. of the public are in favour of, or not opposed to, Sunday racing. The only conclusion that I can draw from that is that the arguments in favour of the Sunday Sports Bill are infinitely greater than those in favour of the privatisation of water.
Sir Charles Morrison : I accept that there is a strong linkage. The Government have said that if there is to be Sunday racing, there must be off-course betting--and, therefore, betting shops must be open. A questionnaire enclosed in a race card for a meeting at Warwick on Easter Monday last year asked,
"If racing is introduced on Sundays, will you visit Warwick more often?"
In response to that question, 124 people answered yes, 28 answered no, and there was one "Don't know." My hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire, East spoke about public support for racing in other countries. In France, it is much greater than on the average weekday. In Ireland, where Sunday racing was only recently introduced, the same is true.
Mr. Robert Banks : The French do a lot of things that we do not do, and one of them is shooting game on Sunday. Is my hon. Friend suggesting that, if we follow the French, we should also alter our laws so that game may be shot on Sunday?
Sir Charles Morrison : No, I am not saying that we should automatically follow the French, in doing something that they do. I am saying only that in countries where there is Sunday racing there is more support for it than there is for racing on an ordinary weekday.
There cannot be horse racing without betting, and that is the crunch for many people who oppose gambling on Sunday. However, there is already Sunday gambling, so I find that argument difficult to accept. On Sundays, casinos and bingo halls are allowed to open, and credit betting is available to those who are well enough off to enjoy it. The only people who cannot make a bet on a horse race on Sunday are those who do not have the facility of credit
Column 635betting. That is nonsensical in 1989, when most people can legally go to a bingo hall, or can pour money into a fruit machine. Another aspect that must be considered is the arrival of satellite television, because, as that becomes more prominent in everyday life, more racing will be transmitted from countries that stage Sunday race meetings and will be seen in British homes. The consequence will be that those who enjoy credit betting facilities will indulge in their desire to bet. What will people do who if they do not have that facility? It is an odds-on certainty that unless people are given a legal opportunity to make their bets in betting shops, there will be a renewed growth of illegal betting. That is a point to which the Government must pay considerable attention in forming their attitude to the Bill.
As for employment and those who work in racing and allied industries, my hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire, East has already referred to the protection that the Bill provides. Paragraph 1 of the scheule to the Bill states that
"Subject to paragraph 3 below, the dismissal of an employee who is employed in a licensed betting office or in connection with sport and was so employed on the day before the commencement date shall be regarded as unfair for the purposes of Part V of Employment Protection (Consolidation) Act 1978."
It is not only the person employed in a betting office or in a stable, not only the stable lad or the racing staff, but, presumably, also the man who drives the horse box to the meeting who will be protected. the schedule provides considerable protection.
"and was so employed on the day before the commencement date". That is a closing door form of protection that applies to people already employed in the industry, but not to anyone who subsequently enters it.
Sir Charles Morrison : Anyone who enters a new form of employment should know beforehand what are his working conditions. Having entered that employment, the employee then knows what to expect, in the same way that a waiter in a restaurant knows that he has to work on Saturdays, but is protected if the law is changed and he does not wish to observe a new requirement to work on Sundays. Anyone entering a new form of employment knows what are the conditions, and enters it with eyes open.
Mr. Holt : When I was director of personnel for the William Hill organisation 25 years ago, all new employees were told that they were liable to work on Sundays. That was because, in those days, we had a large business in fixed odds football pools that had to be checked on Sundays.
Sir Charles Morrison : My hon. Friend emphasises the validity of my argument, and demonstrates that, for a long time, people have been required to work on Sundays in relation to one aspect of the betting industry.
The success of Sunday racing will depend on the good will of all those employed in racing and in related industries. That good will shall be forthcoming only if their pay and conditions of work are adequate. I was glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire, East laid such stress on that point. I believe that a larger return from
Column 636the levy would be the main and best means of bringing more money into racing. That money would gradually feed through to the benefit of everybody employed in the industry. I equally believe that if Sunday racing were to be supported in this country to the extent that it is in every other racing country where it occurs--which is every country except New Zealand--it will follow that Sunday racing itself will bring in a little more money to the benefit of all those employed in the industry.
It is important to put the Bill in its proper perspective. It is an important Bill for racing, and it will remove the fear of prosecution and the dislike of acting in breach of the law felt by the organisers of sports that are already enjoyed on Sundays. In national terms, the effect of the Bill will be virtually unnoticed. There will be 12 Sundays, on each of which there will be three race meetings, making a total of 36 meetings spread over 59 racecourses. Twenty-three courses, therefore, will never have a Sunday meeting. That number may be even larger, because certain courses may hold two or more meetings. In the holiday season, one or two seaside race courses may hold two Sunday meetings, but that will be a matter for the judgment of the Jockey Club and for the owners of the various racecourses.
Overall, I believe that Sunday racing will have a minimal impact on non- racing people. I am convinced that there will be Sunday racing sooner or later, and there is no better time for it to start than now.
Mr. John McFall (Dumbarton) : I congratulate the hon. Member for Berkshire, East (Mr. MacKay) on the way in which he introduced the Bill and his skilled advocacy of it. I am profoundly against his Bill, but he made an excellent speech. He stuck to the arguments, and I shall endeavour to do so myself. This is a short Bill and--
Mr. Ray Powell (Ogmore) : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I know that you normally take points of order on Fridays at 11 o'clock, especially on issues that hon. Members think are of grave importance. You will recall, having been here in the early hours of the morning, at 10 past 12, the disruption caused by Conservative Members during the Adjournment debate. Have you taken up this matter with Mr. Speaker? If so, has he made any decision about what future attitude will be taken by the Chair about points of order when an hon. Member is speaking on the Adjournment particularly on a Thursday night, which is when Mr. Speaker makes the selection, and has been interrupted for the best part of the half an hour allowed for the Adjournment debate? Could you inform the House, for future reference, whether a decision has been reached?