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The Minister for Sport and Tourism (Mr. Richard Caborn): This has been an encouraging and, to a large extent, constructive debate. Some 30 Members have contributed, for which I thank them. The quality of the debate reflects the concerns and interests of hon. Members on both sides of the House. The right hon. Member for North-West Cambridgeshire (Sir Brian Mawhinney) and my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgend (Mr. Griffiths) put a very strong case in arguing for no change to a large extent. That reflects an attitude something like that of my mother, who is a very strong Methodist and is 87. She gave me a lecture when I took her to church a week last Sunday on why there should be no change. Such matters split families as well as the House, but I genuinely look forward to continuing the lively debate in Committee, because I believe that that is where these changes can start to take place.

I want to remind the House where we have come from in the past five years. Five years ago, Professor Budd was asked to look at gambling in this country. The Lords deregulation Committee asked him to do so, and many people were concerned at the time that remote and internet gambling had to be brought under control and addressed in law. In 1968, a Labour Government had to legislate to bring gambling under control, remove it and clean it up. Indeed, I believe that Budd, "A Safe Bet for Success" and the pre-legislative scrutiny Committee—I congratulate the Committee, which worked under the able chairmanship of the hon. Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway)—brought to the House considered work, along with a Bill that will restore control over gambling. That has been central to the Government's thinking, as it was in the 1960s. We must do the same at the beginning of the 21st century. More importantly, we must look at legislation that can respond to the ever-changing needs of society as it is today.

I ask Labour Members who are thinking of voting against the Bill to look at Budd, the work of the pre-legislative scrutiny Committee and what we said in "A Safe Bet for Success". This is about protecting the vulnerable. The three principal parts of the Bill are
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protecting children and vulnerable adults, keeping gambling crime free and making sure that gambling is fair and open. That has been the bedrock of this—

Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock) (Lab): The candyfloss society. That is what Harold Wilson called it.

Mr. Caborn: It might have been the candyfloss society in 1968 when Harold Wilson introduced the Gaming Act and brought gambling under control, as we will.

Let me deal with the key points raised by hon. Members on the capping of regional—

Mr. John Smith (Vale of Glamorgan) (Lab): Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Caborn: Unfortunately, I cannot give way. I have only 10 minutes left. Those on the two Front Benches have tried to get as many Back Benchers in as possible. That was the condition.

Some have suggested that the national cap on regional casinos ought to be 20 or 30. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State explained the tough triple lock that we are putting in place through the Bill. First, there will be the gambling commission. Then, under clause 157, there will be local powers for a licensing authority to say no if it wants no new casinos. Finally, there will be a tough planning system. We are confident that this combination will put casinos in the right place, run by suitable people, and keep them out of places where they are not wanted.

A number of hon. Members spoke about the Government acting together. The combined planning and licensing systems will achieve regeneration in the right place. Regional planning bodies will be able to specify suitable locations for regional casinos. Several hon. Members asked how those could be directed to places of need. If casinos are proposed outside the appropriate areas, the proposal can be referred to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

We have strengthened the planning regime further with the announcement from the Secretary of State of the use class order, so there will be no escaping the location controls that we envisage. Suitable locations for regional casinos will be considered by regional planning bodies. If they think regional casinos can help to regenerate seaside resorts, they can guide developments to those areas.

It has been interesting to hear the numbers bandied around. The hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) suggested a formula for one or two casinos per region. With nine regions, that would make 18 regional casinos, plus Scotland and Wales, which would give a total of 22. The bottom line proposed by the industry is about 20—between 20 and 40. The official Opposition Front Bench spokesman spoke of regionalisation. The official Opposition and the Liberals intend to vote against Second Reading, claiming that we will not direct the proper number of casinos to the regions, yet their proposals would produce more regional casinos than projected by those in the industry.

The risk to problem gamblers was another topic of concern. If there is a risk to problem gamblers because of the location of casinos, the gambling commission can advise against licensing them in those locations. The
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licensing authority must have regard to such guidance. I am trying to answer serious questions that were posed about the potential for development on estates in built-up areas to encourage problem gambling. That would be covered by the commission's guidance on licensing, and we would expect it to act accordingly.

The hon. Member for Bath asked about individual applications and how they could be rejected. They can be rejected under clause 157. We have said clearly that that would not contravene any European measure. To suggest otherwise is to mislead the House. The provisions of the Bill would enable local authorities to take action so that casinos were not located in built-up areas.

If we had taken the Budd review at face value and incorporated its recommendations in the Bill, many Opposition Members would have argued forcefully against the proliferation of casinos, because that would have meant many more small casinos than proposed in the Bill. The Joint Committee's recommendations would have meant more casinos, with category A machines being used in the large casinos. It is estimated that the recommendations would have doubled the number of casinos. We have taken a cautious approach, and a number of Members asked us to do so. We estimate that the increase will be about a third. Given the Budd report, the outcome of the scrutiny Committee and the contents of the Bill, we have taken a cautious approach.

There are real concerns, and there are some who have had the opportunity to visit Australia, where gambling has got out of hand. The Australians deregulated in a way that even they wish they could roll back, but that is difficult. We took a great deal of advice from people in Australia and throughout the world, and that is why we have adopted our approach. One of the recommendations from the Joint Committee that we did not accept was a 3:1 ratio for machines to tables. We have proposed 2:1. We tightened up on that recommendation. The Joint Committee recommended category A machines in all casinos and we have recommended such machines in only regional casinos. Again that is a cautious approach and a tightening up of the process.

The Joint Committee recommended an increase in stake and prizes for machines in small and large casinos. We have kept them at their present level, which we believe is the right approach. Via the gambling commission there can be an incremental release over a period if it thinks that that is necessary. We have, as it were, moved back from the Budd report and from the Joint Committee and we have a much more cautious Bill than the measure that would have been if the recommendations of those two bodies had been taken forward.

The hon. Member for Bath talked about the Human Rights Act 1998 being used to resolve local conflicts. We have checked that through and we believe that what the hon. Gentleman said was incorrect. Local authorities are allowed to consider more than the three licence objectives when resolving local issues on casinos. They are able to take the views of local communities into account. They are unable to do anything that is unlawful or irrelevant to them.

Some red herrings were raised. My hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey) said that sports would be denied revenue from the machines. That is
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totally untrue. The situation will be exactly the same as it is now. There was a lot of debate about working men's clubs—

Kate Hoey: Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Caborn: I said that I would not give way to anybody, so there are no exceptions to that.

Working men's clubs, Conservative clubs and British Legion clubs made representations. We shall ensure that they are protected and will continue to be protected.

The Budd report recommended removing arcades from seaside resorts. We have not done that. I believe that there are effective proposals for the regeneration of casinos within the Bill. We can get on with regional regeneration in a way that many would want, particularly those in resorts.

Registration for casinos and members' clubs is allowed. Any casino that wants to run a registration system can continue to do so. The matter could be up to the gambling commission. If it believed that that was desirable within the licensing structure, it could ensure that that would be the position.

The Bill sets out a clear direction for bringing gambling under control again, as we did in the 1960s. If Members vote against Second Reading, they will be allowing young people—children—to be exposed to internet gambling, to remote gambling, in a way that would be wrong and irresponsible. We can take the other parts of the Bill on board. We can deal with the issues relating to regional casinos in Committee. I am sure that we can find a solution to the problems that have been raised.

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