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Several hon. Members rose—

Tessa Jowell: So views on gambling vary enormously, and the purpose of this Second Reading debate is to allow those views to be heard.
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The House should recognise, however, that gambling is at the boundary between personal freedom and state intervention. On one side of the boundary is the reasonable expectation of adults who, within the law, exercise their right to live their lives as they choose. On the other is the role of the state: to recognise human frailty, and in particular to respect its duty to protect children and the vulnerable. As a Government and a society, we have three options in that respect: prohibition, a free-for-all or regulation. We have no doubt about choosing the regulatory route. The question for the House is how best to apply the regulatory framework for the benefit of society as a whole.

Bob Russell: Can I ask the right hon. Lady how many residents of Dulwich and West Norwood have asked her to provide that part of London with a super-casino?

Tessa Jowell: As of yet, the provisions governing super-casinos are not on the statute book. The hon. Gentleman may have encountered all sorts of wild speculation about planning permissions being granted or applied for, but not a single planning permission for a new casino under the new regime has yet been granted.

Donald Anderson (Swansea, East) (Lab): I do not know whether I fall into the category of an opportunist or a snob, but I would certainly accept do-gooder as the definition of someone who tries to do good in this matter. Do-gooders are certainly better than do-badders. Does my right hon. Friend not see the world of difference between ordinary folks who want to go to bingo halls and the proliferation of mega-casinos, which must be the intended effect of what she is proposing? Why cannot she have a few pilots in order to test her own views against what will happen in the real world?

Tessa Jowell: My right hon. Friend falls into the particular category of very talented and important Members of the House.

Mr. Ken Purchase (Wolverhampton, North-East) (Lab/Co-op): Better than being a do-badder.

Tessa Jowell: My right hon. Friend did not expect a tribute. If proliferation were to be the consequence of these proposals, my right hon. Friend would have reason for concern, but if he will allow me to develop my argument, I hope to persuade him that his prediction will not, in fact, be realised. Let me just set out briefly how we reached this Bill—

Geraldine Smith (Morecambe and Lunesdale) (Lab) rose—

Tessa Jowell: I shall give way now, but then I want to make some progress.

Geraldine Smith: On children, clause 56 specifically states:

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Are the Government seriously suggesting that a parent could be prosecuted for allowing her child to go into a seaside amusement arcade and roll a 10p piece down a shoot to win a cuddly toy? If so, it is the nanny state gone mad.

Tessa Jowell: If that were the case, my hon. Friend would be absolutely right that it would be an example of over-zealous and interventionist government. I shall explain at the appropriate point later in my remarks exactly why that provision sits in the Bill.

Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham) (Con) rose—

Tessa Jowell: I am not giving way yet.

Let me briefly recap how the Bill came about. New regulation is, by common consent, undoubtedly necessary. Every year and every week sees new developments in the gambling market, often in poorly regulated environments. The danger of the status quo lies not in more of the same, but in the current growth of poorly regulated gambling with little or no protection for those who play. Those who argue against the Bill cannot, if they are concerned about protection, defend the status quo.

We have recently seen roulette machines installed in betting offices against the wishes of the Gaming Board and similar machines proliferating in bingo halls and amusement centres. Since 1968 there have been many deregulatory measures affecting gambling. They have been brought forward on a piecemeal basis. That has been the problem. They included measures to allow the advertising of bingo, to allow betting offices to have clear windows and to increase the number of jackpot machines in casinos. Most came under the deregulation orders following the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994. We can all remember who was in power at that time.

The Lords deregulation Committee pointed out how unsatisfactory a piecemeal approach can be and initiated the process that led to the establishment of the gambling review body in the late 1990s, under the chairmanship of Sir Alan Budd. So the Bill is not a radical departure. It is a continuation of adapting to change since we last legislated for gambling 36 years ago, but this time, the Bill does so comprehensively rather than in fragments.

Part 1 of the Bill provides definitions, including the new licensing objectives that I have set out. Part 2 establishes the gambling commission, which will control commercial gambling to ensure that it is fair and safe. Parts 3 and 4 consolidate and modernise gambling offences. Part 4 concentrates on the new offences to protect children, which I know are of concern to the House. Parts 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 set out the new licensing system to be administered by the gambling commission and local licensing authorities. The commission will take over the Gaming Board's responsibilities for casinos, bingo, gaming machines and the lottery.

Mrs. Joan Humble (Blackpool, North and Fleetwood) (Lab): Will the Secretary of State explain how the rules on licensing can be linked to planning arrangements, because one of the major fears of many Members, even those like me who support the
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introduction of the Bill and regional casinos, is that of proliferation? How will planning arrangements be linked to the excellent provisions on licensing in the Bill?

Tessa Jowell: I promise my hon. Friend, who I know has taken a great interest in this matter, that I will deal with it in some detail. I know that it is of such concern to Members to understand how the triple lock will operate in order to prevent the proliferation of new casinos.

The gambling commission will regulate through conditions on operating and personal licences, and for the first time, anybody who is licensed to run gambling premises will be obliged to pursue social responsibility as a condition of their operating licence. If operators breach the terms and conditions, they will face very tough sanctions. Unlike the Gaming Board, the new gambling commission will have the power to impose unlimited financial penalties on operators who breach their conditions. Local authorities will take on the licensing of premises under the guidance of the gambling commission. In Scotland, licensing boards will license premises.

Part 10 establishes a new regime for gaming machines that accommodates the developments in technology that have occurred since 1968. Part 11 provides for a new regime for charity lotteries. Parts 12, 13 and 14 deal with gambling that is small scale, incidental to other entertainment, or non-commercial. Part 15 provides new powers for effective inspection. Part 16 addresses advertising, and part 17 gambling debts. Lastly, part 18 deals with Bill-wide provisions.

Mr. Peter Viggers (Gosport) (Con): The right hon. Lady's Department said that the Bill would be revenue-neutral, implying a very substantial reduction in gambling duty. Although that statement was later slapped down, was the reduction in gambling duty discussed when the Labour party fundraiser Lord Levy met representatives of the international gambling industry?

Tessa Jowell: No, it was not. Secondly, the reference to revenue-neutrality was an error. It was a term in common use that was misunderstood. [Interruption.] Let me explain. The point being made was that revenue is not a motivator for this legislation. It is my job as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to establish the regulatory framework; it is the Treasury's responsibility to establish the taxation regime. [Hon. Members: "Ah!"] Precisely. The taxation regime will follow once the regulatory regime is in place. I do not think that anything has changed very much on that front in the past seven and a half years.

To reduce the risk of harm, the Bill provides new powers to regulate the way in which gambling is offered. Our controls are currently limited to specifying what can be offered and where that can happen. The Bill will give us powers to change the way in which gambling is offered to avoid harm.

We have a low level of problem gambling in Britain. Approximately 0.6 to 0.8 per cent. of adults report the types of behaviour that are associated with problem gambling. However, for them, gambling can be a dangerous and destructive addiction. It can ruin the
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lives and livelihoods not only of gamblers but of their families. As with other forms of addiction to legal activities, we have to balance carefully the citizen's right to act freely with the state's duty to minimise harm and warn of the risks.

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