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Point of Order

3.30 pm

Mr. Patrick Nicholls (Teignbridge) : On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Have you yet received from the Government the terms of reference for their inquiry on the Ouseley report, which showed that Labour councillors in Lambeth had been found guilty of fraud, corruption, negligence and intimidation? As those councillors have managed to turn that area into a political cesspit, should not we have the terms of reference of that report at once?

Madam Speaker : Order. The answer to the hon. Gentleman's question is, no, I have not.

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Orders of the Day

National Lottery etc. Bill

[The Third Report from the National Heritage Committee on the National Lottery etc. Bill, HC 389 of Session 1992-93 is relevant.] Order for Second Reading read.

Madam Speaker : I must tell the House that there is a great deal of interest in this matter and that, therefore, I have had to limit speeches between the hours of 6 pm and 8 pm to 10 minutes. I hope that those hon. Members who are fortunate enough to be called outside those hours will exercise voluntary restraint on the length of their speeches.

I have selected the amendment in the name of the Leader of the Opposition.

3.31 pm

The Secretary of State for National Heritage (Mr. Peter Brooke) : I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

I am delighted to be here today to assist the House in its consideration of the National Lottery etc Bill, which my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary presented on 16 December. My father spoke on the occasion of the introduction of premium bonds more than 35 years ago--an occasion of some controversy when there was some criticism of the Government for introducing a form of state gambling which would rot the moral foundations of our society. Whether or not this has been the outcome is for others to decide. Those loving grandparents who buy premium bonds for their grandchildren may be a little disconcerted to be reminded of the controversy which the bonds created when they were first proposed.

Premium bonds went on to become a runaway success and something of an institution. The Bill before the House today proposes the establishment of a further institution, the first national lottery in the United Kingdom since 1826. That lottery fell into disrepute, chiefly because the main focus had turned from the lottery itself to bets placed on its outcome. We hope that our lottery will be well-regulated. We have sought to make specific provision to prevent the kind of abuse which beset its predecessor.

The Bill's provisions have attracted widespread, popular support in the country, both in the response to the White Paper presented by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Mole Valley (Mr. Baker)--out of more than 200 responses there were only 17 objections--and in the reaction since the Bill was published. In fact, one of the most common reactions was, "At last --but why have we alone of all the western countries had to wait this long before being allowed the opportunity to have a lottery which will benefit the people of this country?"

In establishing the national lottery we are, of course, establishing a major new industry. That is clearly a benefit in itself. But this new industry will be operating firmly within the framework of what I might call the vision of the national lottery--an enterprise the primary aim of which is to raise money for activities which will improve the quality of life of the citizens of this country.

In much of the business that we undertake in this House, we must be mindful of wider perspectives. In the case of the national lottery there is a clear European perspective. If we did not introduce such a Bill with such

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obvious public support as the one before us today, we believe that the general public's desire to play the lottery would still be satisfied--eventually by playing foreign lotteries, whose sole purpose is to improve the quality of life of the citizens of other countries. Those lotteries would continue to be unlawful, but with modern telecommunications it will not be possible to stop people participating. The choice therefore is not between one lottery and none, but between benefit from the lottery in the United Kingdom and benefit abroad. Hon. Members are being asked, therefore, to approve a measure which will ensure that the public thirst to participate in lotteries is harnessed to good effect through enhancing the national life of the United Kingdom.

The national lottery will benefit five broad categories--charities, arts, sport, the heritage, and a new fund established to celebrate the year 2000 and the beginning of the third millennium. These are clearly all areas that involve the achievement of excellence, the opportunity to participate and the extension of choice in leisure and voluntary activity. They add to people's lives and thus the well-being of the nation as a whole.

Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West) : What assurances can the Secretary of State give the House that the money from a national lottery, if one is instituted, will not be used to replace central Government funding for a number of the areas that he has designated? If the Government no longer publish their forward plans for funding the arts, how can we ever know whether they have taken the national lottery money into consideration when making a settlement for the arts and other areas?

Mr. Brooke : The subject of additionality will obviously interest the House and I shall come to it if the hon. Member will bide with me.

Using the lottery money in that way, we can reinforce a sense of national pride in the citizens of the United Kingdom. We can create new public facilities--in inner cities or in rural areas--which will encourage citizens' involvement in activities that will broaden their outlook and experience.

Hon. Members may be aware of the example being set by Chris Eubank who, by making Moss Side his training base, hopes to lead by example and persuade the young people there that the opportunity to participate in sport offers an alternative to the world of drugs and crime. That is precisely the sort of benefit that the lottery is intended to bring to the nation. Sports facilities in inner cities, better arts facilities, preserving the nation's heritage, allowing wider access to facilities and generating additional wealth through the encouragement of tourism--the lottery will fund all those.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster) : My right hon. Friend is no doubt aware that the lottery would not only help with other activities in rural areas, but could fling a lifeline to village shops if they were allowed to sell tickets.

Mr. Brooke : I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that intervention. I shall come to the method of selling tickets.

Mr. David Alton (Liverpool, Mossley Hill) : I am grateful to the Secretary of State for giving way ; I realise that he has been generous in giving way. He has mentioned the inner cities. He will be aware that in cities such as

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Glasgow, Liverpool and Cardiff people are concerned about the implications of a lottery for jobs. We are gambling with people's jobs in those areas without any evidence that they will not go out of existence as a result of the introduction of a national lottery. At the minimum, can he assure the House that organisers of the national lottery will not be able to do anything that the pools industry is not allowed to do and that it will have the same opportunities to advertise and to offer the same types of promotion and prizes?

Mr. Brooke : I give the hon. Gentleman the same assurance that I gave to the pools promoters when they visited me on 9 December. The Government will listen carefully to the arguments put forward on each of the concessions that they are requesting rather than respond to a blanket request.

Mr. George Howarth (Knowsley, North) rose--

Mr. Brooke : Knowing the hon. Gentleman's constituency, I think that he wants to address me on the subject of the pools. I shall come to that case in a little while and guarantee that I shall give way then.

The charitable and voluntary sectors are an important part of our national life. They encourage the participation of large numbers of citizens and carry out vital work in all areas of life--whether it be in villages or in inner cities. Those activities are important both in terms of their final outcome and the way in which they involve large numbers of people in a creative and fulfilling way. Those activities will also be funded by the lottery.

Any new proposal naturally raises worries about its impact. In particular, the pools companies have been lobbying all who would listen. Their concerns are reflected in the reasoned amendment tabled by the Leader of the Opposition and the hon. Member for Derby, South (Mrs. Beckett). It would be wrong to view the lottery from the perspective of the pools companies and a pity in that, as I hope to demonstrate, it shows a remarkably narrow viewpoint and fails to address what the national lottery is all about. It is also a pity as it shows a woeful lack of appreciation of the public support for the Bill.

Mr. George Howarth : If the case that I think that the Secretary of State is about to try to establish--that the lottery will not affect the pools companies--is to stand up to a credibility test, why does he not publish the GAH group report, commissioned by his Department, so that we may have an objective, independent assessment of the likely impact?

Mr. Brooke : The arrival of any new institution in our national life is bound to affect people, and I recognise that the pools industry will be affected by the national lottery. I do not share the pools promoters' view about the scale of that effect. I think that the House is fairly familiar with the GAH report. We commissioned consultants to draw it up and they talked to those around the world who run lotteries. The consultants were given confidential information on condition that it would remain confidential. Several hon. Members rose --

Mr. Brooke : I shall give way in a moment, but I think that the spirit in which I am making the speech is clear to the House. I should like to spend a little time dealing with pools matters as I believe that it will assist the House.

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Introducing a new industry has always aroused fears in those who imagine that their livelihoods might be under threat. Change will always engender fear among those who have operated in a stable, unchanging environment for a number of years. It might also encourage those who have been looking for a chance to change the regulatory framework under which they work to achieve long-cherished ambitions. It provides a perfect occasion for the skills of the lobbyist to come to the fore and to divert the attention of the House away from the central objective.

Mr. Jon Owen Jones (Cardiff, Central) : Will the Secretary of State comment on the inquiry that Littlewoods commissioned Coopers and Lybrand to carry out? The inquiry found that several thousand jobs would be lost and employees would be retrenched outside Cardiff and Liverpool. In my constituency, 600 jobs are certain to go as a result of the National Lottery etc. Bill.

Mr. Brooke : All such assumptions and hypotheses assume that we live in a wholly unchanging world. Since I met the pools promoters on 9 December, they have already made significant changes to their arrangements which postdate the Coopers and Lybrand report.

Mr. Thomas Graham (Renfrew, West and Inverclyde) : Is the Secretary of State aware that pools industries in a number of countries have gone to the wall and many jobs have been lost? Pools companies and others who know the industry in detail have estimated that thousands of jobs will go to the wall. Is the Secretary of State also aware that this nation has one of the highest levels of gambling, and there is talk of £2 per head being spent on gambling? Will the Secretary of State include that statistic in his thoughts on poor families?

Mr. Brooke : I have seen the observations made about the experiences of other countries. When I have read those accounts--which are all particular to specific countries and situations--it has seemed to me that the pools promoters pay insufficient tribute to their own skill, longevity and the impressive role that they currently play in our national life.

Therefore, it would be a pity were the House to lose sight of the real purpose of today's debate. We are here to debate an opportunity. We are here to debate a measure that will create a new multi-billion pound business that will benefit our national life. We are talking of an enterprise that might create about 1,000 core jobs in its central operation, with many others in associated service industries, which will help to underpin the incomes of thousands of retail businesses throughout the country--as my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster (Dame E. Kellett- Bowman) said--and provide many exciting projects for the construction industry.

Mr. Barry Jones (Alyn and Deeside) : The Secretary of State came under strong pressure, as did the Under-Secretary of State, during Question Time when dealing with employment, or the lack of it. In Cardiff, more than 20,000 are out of work. How many are jobless in the Liverpool area?

Mr. Robert N. Wareing (Liverpool, West Derby) : About 70,000.

Mr. Brooke : I am familiar with the figure which was helpfully provided by the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing). As I said during Question

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Time, the nature of the opportunity for the construction industry that will be afforded by the capital projects--the erection of buildings--is not taken into account in the calculations.

Sir Malcolm Thornton (Crosby) : Before we leave the important subject of the impact on employment in a particular area, it is only right to say that reference has already been made to the GAH report. I ask my right hon. Friend to confirm--leaving aside any confidential information which may have appeared in this report--that the conclusions of the report were that, in spite of the advantages which possibly the United Kingdom pools have over their European counterparts, the impact is assessed--this is without any changes--as a reduction in revenues of 17.5 per cent. overall. It is estimated that job losses will amount to 1,100. I am aware of what my right hon. Friend said about the improvement in job prospects arising from the national lottery, but I do not think that the two things are mutually exclusive. Will he confirm that these are the conclusions that came from the report?

Mr. Brooke : The quotations from the GAH report, which appeared in The Guardian on 27 November, referred to numbers such as my hon. Friend has quoted. They were obviously a particular quotation from the report. They were, to a degree, quoted out of context in that the figures in the GAH report--in this respect I do not think that I am offending confidentiality since it was the view of the

consultants--applied if the organisers of the pools themselves did nothing to respond, which we know they have already done. The focus of the debate should be on the real opportunity which we now have, and which we must now seize, irrespective of party affiliation, to provide maximum benefit to the quality of life. We owe it to our constituents to get this measure right and to give them what they clearly want.

Mr. William O'Brien (Normanton) : The Minister has referred to quality of life. Does he realise that there will be injury to the quality of life of many who rely on local charities if no provision is made within the Bill to defend local charities? The scratch card was introduced by local charities, and it seems that it is now to be taken over by the national lottery. There is nothing in the Bill that provides a real safeguard for local charities, which suggests that they will be damaged. Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that the interests of such charities will be safeguarded and that there will be no reduction in the quality of life of those who depend on local charities?

Mr. Brooke : I am aware that the hon. Gentleman had an exchange with my hon. Friend during--

Mr. George Howarth : On a point of order, Madam Speaker. A few moments ago the Secretary of State was kind enough to give way to me. I took the opportunity to press him on the report which his Department commissioned from the GAH group. Some moments later the hon. Member for Crosby (Sir M. Thornton) quoted directly from the report. The Secretary of State declined to publish the report when I pressed him earlier. The hon. Member for Crosby, as I understand it, quoted directly from the report, and the Secretary of State then referred to The Guardian but confirmed the points that the hon. Gentleman had made. In the light of your earlier rulings

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on this point, Madam Speaker, should not the report now be put on the Table? Should not it be made available to right hon. and hon. Members during the debate?

Several hon. Members rose--

Madam Speaker : Order. I think that the Secretary of State wants to make a point of order.

Mr. Brooke : Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker. I want the House to be clear about what we are discussing. I have said that we will not publish the GAH report. In particular, I said that in the aftermath of the report in The Guardian on 27 November, which quoted isolated parts. My hon. Friend quoted from The Guardian quotations, and I was responding to that.

Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington) : Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker. May I ask you to read the Hansard report of the debate because I believe that I heard the Secretary of State confirm that the contents of the report were as published in The Guardian? Furthermore, I believe that I heard him then qualify that document. Would you please check Hansard, Madam Speaker? It would be most unreasonable if the point of order raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Knowsley, North (Mr. Howarth) were to go amiss and if it were not to be studied by the Clerks of the House with a view to the document being placed on the Table of the House.

Mr. Wareing : Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker. I heard --and I hope that you did, too--the Secretary of State say that he did not think that he was breaching confidentiality and then quoted a view expressed in the report, not in The Guardian version of the report. Is not there either a convention or a reference in "Erskine May" that provides that when a report is referred to in a debate in the House it must be published or at least placed in the Library?

Madam Speaker : On the hon. Gentleman's last point, it must be a direct quote by the Secretary of State. I shall certainly look carefully at Hansard to see precisely what has been said on the matter.

Mr. Brooke : I have undertaken to listen to the legitimate concerns of the pools companies and to consider amendments to the Bill as they are tabled. The Bill is designed to take such amendments and I am prepared to be persuaded by arguments of high quality. I have to say that I am yet to be convinced-- [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field) knows me to be a generous and fair-minded man. I am not minded to give way on concessions that hang on the Bill as a flag of convenience.

Mr. Peter Bottomley (Eltham) : An interesting point is whether the money that is taken in taxation on the pools investment automatically and by definition goes to good causes, because the Government decide how to spend it. Is not there some rough equivalence between the money that goes to good causes through the taxation of pools and the money that might otherwise go directly to good causes through the national lottery?

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Mr. Brooke : It is true that the pools promoters have argued that taxation is money that goes to good causes. I am not sure whether my hon. Friend is endorsing that. The comparison is not absolutely precise.

The pools companies refer most often to employment and have managed to worry their employees, even to the extent of asking--

Mr. William O'Brien : On a point of order, Madam Speaker. The Secretary of State was about to answer points that I raised in an intervention when he was interrupted by points of order. Is the right hon. Gentleman now able to answer my points ?

Madam Speaker : It is not very often that I get so many genuine points of order. I can well understand that sometimes we get a little confused in the debate across the Floor. I am sure that the Secretary of State has it in mind to answer the hon. Gentleman's points.

Mr. Brooke : I apologise to you, Madam Speaker, and to the hon. Gentleman for the fact that, as a consequence of the points of order, I did not immediately respond to the hon. Gentleman's points.

Mr. Tony Banks : Genuine points.

Mr. Brooke : Yes, genuine points. As the hon. Gentleman knows from his exchange with my hon. Friend earlier today, there are provisions in the Bill to protect the position of small lotteries. If he chooses to enlarge his remarks in his speech later in the debate, I am sure that my hon. Friend will respond further.

Mr. John Greenway (Ryedale) : Many right hon. and hon. Members who have misgivings about the Bill will be greatly encouraged by my right hon. Friend's remark that the Government will listen carefully to reasoned amendments. Will my right hon. Friend share with us his thoughts about clause 12 and the proposed regulations, which deal with lottery marketing and advertising ? While some of us have already suggested that there should be even competition in the marketing of pools, bingo, and the lottery, we are equally gravely concerned that the Government should not go too far down the road--

Madam Speaker : Order. I cannot allow interventions that constitute a speech.

Mr. Brooke : I regret, Madam Speaker, that when a right hon. or hon. Member intervenes I am not readily able to anticipate the length of his intervention.

Madam Speaker : Order. I will take care of that.

Mr. Brooke : I know that you, Madam Speaker, agree with me that it is most uncharacteristic of my hon. Friend the Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway) to misbehave in the way that you, Madam Speaker, thought that he might have done. I will address specifically my hon. Friend's question about clause 12 when I deal with the clauses in general.

The pools companies suggested to their 70,000 part-time collectors that they should write to their Members of Parliament asking for a change in the regulations to allow sales in retail outlets. Employees might reasonably fear, despite the companies' assertion to the contrary, that such a change could itself pose a threat to their jobs in the long run.

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The pools appear to be a well-managed operation. They have already started to change their rules--which they would not have done if it were not for the prospect of a national lottery. To suggest that they cannot adapt their management or marketing strategy within the existing framework of regulation is to underestimate their considerable resourcefulness, to which I can personally pay tribute. As the House may know, my Department commissioned a report, to which I have already referred, based on confidential information supplied by lotteries world wide. It examined the key determinants for a successful lottery and also touched on the likely effects on the pools industry. I will not, for the reasons that I gave, publish that report, simply because the information supplied for it was given on the understanding that it would not be published. However, I will refer to certain assertions made by the pools companies on the basis of particular leaks of that research.

The report considered--and here I am going back over ground that I covered in answers to my hon. Friends--that, only on the hypothesis that the pools did nothing to change the management of their operation, their turnover might be affected in such a way that the pools might lose 1,100 jobs in their central operations nationwide. However, we have all seen that the pools are well able to adapt to change, to preserve their own interests.

The report did not take into account either the existing intentions of the pools, with or without the advent of the lottery. Given the pools' tendency to cut their work force in recent years and a drive to increase mechanisation that was in place long before the lottery was suggested, I wonder whether the pools companies themselves would be able to guarantee existing levels of employment if there were no lottery. I am not aware of such an undertaking. In fact, it seems that the pools themselves have been seeking for some time, through voluntary redundancies, to reduce their work force. It might have assisted the House if the pools, in their lobbying, had made clear their own strategies in relation to employment.

Mr. Richard Tracey (Surbiton) : My right hon. Friend mentioned the impending mechanisation of parts of the pools' operation, which I understand will lead to the loss of some jobs. Is it not true that, in the 20 years to 1971, pools companies lost 12,000 jobs and that in the 20 years since 1971 they have lost a further 6,000 jobs? With technology, logically they will lose more.

Mr. Brooke : I have seen figures similar to those quoted by my hon. Friend, though they were not necessarily precisely the same. Nevertheless, my hon. Friend's point is well taken.

Some right hon. and hon. Members may find the argument that the pools do not have a level playing field quite seductive. I counter that by reminding the House that we are talking about adjacent playing fields for different games rather than the same field. If the pools were, as it were, playing the same game on the same field, perhaps the odds would be tipped in their favour. They have loyal players and established distribution networks ; their position is strong against any newcomer--especially one that, like the lottery, will have to start from scratch and appeal to everyone.

In countries with lotteries, the profile of those who play almost directly matches the profile of the population

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overall. It goes far wider than the profile of those who spend on other gambling, including the pools. Spending on lotteries is drawn from marginal disposable income. The more successful the lottery, the broader the range of expenditure from which it will attract funds. Lotteries do not attract the serious gambler ; the odds are too long. They attract those who want the chance to win, and to know that the money that they pay will go to good causes. Lotteries are not compulsive or addictive in the way that other games of skill and chance can be : they do not encourage excessive participation. There is no current product in the United Kingdom market place quite like that of the national lottery. That is why I warn hon. Members against looking too closely at what may seem to be existing analogues. Instead, I urge them to look beyond, to what the lottery can achieve for everyone.

Mr. Frank Field (Birkenhead) : In what way would the operation of the pools have to change, to place them on the same level playing field rather than an adjacent one?

Mr. Brooke : I was talking about the concessions that the pools operators were seeking, because they wanted exactly the same rules as would apply to the national lottery. During my discussions with the Select Committee, there was considerable debate about whether there was a difference between the pools, as a game of skill--

Mr. Tony Banks : It is not a game of skill.

Mr. Brooke : Let me finish my answer to the hon. Member for Birkenhead.

It was suggested to me in the Select Committee that the pools were not an exercise in skill but an exercise in chance. If that is so, why have they not been liable to the provisions of the Lotteries and Amusements Act 1976, which is very tightly drawn and would have greatly reduced the sphere of activity in which the pools could have featured? If the pools were a game of chance, as is being implied, they should have been subject to the Act ever since 1976.

Several hon. Members rose --

Mr. Brooke : I shall give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Burns), who made a specific point during Question Time.

Mr. Simon Burns (Chelmsford) : I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. Does he share my amazement at the lobbying efforts of the football pools operators? As I said earlier, they have enjoyed a monopoly in this country for many years, running what is basically the equivalent of a national lottery. Now they are seeking simply to protect their own interests and to maintain the status quo. They do not like the idea of anyone else running a similar operation that will raise money for good causes--unlike their own game, which raises money for football and profits for themselves.

Mr. Brooke : I am grateful-- [Interruption.]

Mr. Burns : On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I strongly resent the implication that I have been paid to intervene on my right hon. Friend. I have no financial interest in any company. [ Hon. Members : -- "Withdraw."]

Madam Speaker : Order. Let us make some progress. [Interruption.] Order. I accept what the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Burns) has said, but I did not hear the remark to which he referred. Let us make some progress,

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and let us have some order. [Interruption.] Order. I have just told the hon. Member for Chelmsford that I did not hear what was said, although I accept what he himself said. If I did not hear what was said, I cannot ask an hon. Member to withdraw it.

Mr. Brooke : I was about to deal with the specific content of the Bill--

Sir Ivan Lawrence (Burton) : Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker. Of course you are quite right, but the hon. Gentleman over there knows that he made the remark. He should do the decent thing and withdraw it.

Madam Speaker : The hon. and learned Gentleman refers to "the hon. Gentleman over there". As I did not hear the remark, and as I do not know to which hon. Member the hon. and learned Gentleman is now pointing, I cannot deal with the matter.

Mr. Brooke : I have sought to give way generously. As I shall deal next with the provisions of the Bill, perhaps you, Madam Speaker, will allow me to give way to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Kilfoyle), who has been trying to intervene.

Mr. Peter Kilfoyle (Liverpool, Walton) : The Secretary of State compared the pools with the national lottery and other forms of gambling. Does he not recognise that the lottery will not be harmless entertainment but another form of gambling?

Mr. Brooke : I have not sought at any stage to deny that the lottery will be at the softer end of the gambling spectrum. The Bill before the House is--

Mr. George Howarth : On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I apologise for detaining the House, but the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Burns) is under the impression that I accused him of being paid to lobby in favour of the Bill. If the hon. Gentleman says that that is not so, I unreservedly withdraw what I said. The reason for my confusion, however, is that I understand that the hon. Gentleman works for several lobbying organisations.

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