Gambling Bill

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Mr. Moss: I point out to my hon. Friend that in fact the Act is entirely different. The Bill refers to

    ''a county council for a county in which there are no district councils'',

I thought that he read ''a district council for which there are no county councils'' from the 2004 Act, which is the opposite.

Mr. Whittingdale: The wording in the Licensing Act is slightly different. It refers to

    ''the council of a county in England in which there are no district councils'',

which we can probably take to be the same as a county council in which there are no district councils.

Mr. Hawkins: My hon. Friend the Member for North-East Cambridgeshire is on to a very good point. The wording in the Licensing Act is much clearer than the wording in the Bill. If the Bill said, ''a council for a county in which there are no districts'', it would be much clearer. The Minister and his officials have lifted and edited the words incorrectly, but no doubt we will get a clearer definition when the Minister has done his checking with his colleague at the ODPM.

Mr. Banks rose—

Mr. Whittingdale: I will give way to the hon. Gentleman if he can cast light on the matter.

The Chairman: Let the hon. Gentleman respond to the point that has been raised before he gives way again.

Mr. Whittingdale: In answer to my hon. Friend, he has made it even clearer that complete confusion reigns over the three pieces of legislation.

Mr. Caborn: Before the hon. Gentleman, who has gone through all this like Sherlock Holmes, gets too

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excited, let me just say, fine, I hear what he says. Mistakes may have been made, or we may be right—I do not know, as I did not take the legislation through the House—but obviously both your side and this side missed it. I do not think that it is anything to get excited about. It is not a major political score.

We will rectify any mistake. I will come back to the Committee and explain who has responsibility for liquor licensing and gambling. The hon. Gentleman should not get over-excited, as I shall come back with a rational answer for him.

The Chairman: Just to confuse matters further, the Minister said ''your side'', but I do not have any side.

Mr. Whittingdale: I promise that I shall remain entirely calm about the matter. However, as my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Cambridgeshire has said in my ear, the so-called triple lock is undermined if we discover that large parts of the country are not covered by the Bill at all. We shall look forward with considerable interest to the Minister's explanation of the apparent contradiction.

Mr. Banks: I do not want to intrude in this terrible mess. However, because it pays to do so in politics, I just want to point out that the mess of local authorities is entirely the responsibility of successive Conservative Governments.

Mr. Whittingdale: Had we introduced yet another layer in the form of regional assemblies, it would have been an even greater mess. Happily, that has not happened.

Mr. Banks: At least the Labour Government were prepared to consult. The proposals were rejected, but we consulted, which is far more than the Conservative Government under Margaret Thatcher were prepared to do when the abolition of the—

The Chairman: Order. We are getting wide of clause 2.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: May I shed a little more light on the problem? I served on the Standing Committee considering the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill and you were in the Chair, Mr. Pike, so you will remember clearly that we spent almost a whole sitting debating an amendment, very similar to that tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Cambridgeshire, on unitary authorities. Eventually, the Committee was convinced that unitary authorities were covered by the definition in the Bill. However, we carefully probed the idea that metropolitan authorities were very different from district councils. The Minister's Department needs to look carefully to see whether his definitions are consistent with those of the ODPM. I think that he may find that they are not.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 3

Gambling

Mr. Moss: I beg to move amendment No. 81, in

    clause 3, page 2, line 7, after '9', insert 'and section 11'.

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This is a probing amendment. We seek clarification from the Minister. Paragraph (b) says in brackets, after ''betting'',

    ''within the meaning of section 9''.

Our amendment would insert ''and section 11''. It is uncertain whether section 11 has been left out because it relates to prize competitions. It would appear that prize competitions are also subject to the Bill and we believe that a specific reference should be made to avoid any doubt or confusion.

Mr. Caborn: Clause 3 gives a general definition of the concept of gambling as meaning gambling, betting and lotteries. Betting itself is defined in clause 9. The amendment is a probing one, but we are not clear why the hon. Gentleman thinks it necessary to add a reference to clause 11. That clause makes it abundantly clear that prize contributions that satisfy the conditions set out in it thereby constitute betting for the purposes of clause 9. Betting of the kind defined in clause 11 is not a different and separate kind of betting from that described in clause 9; it is clause 9 betting. I hope that the hon. Gentleman understands that and will take it as an explanation in response to his amendment. We resist his amendment and ask him to withdraw it.

Mr. Moss: I have to be honest and say that I did not really understand that. If I am being entirely truthful, there were so many nines and 11s that I was confused about where we ended up. On this occasion, however, I am prepared to take the Minister's assurance. We still have a chance to return to this point when we discuss clauses 9 and 11. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Caborn: I beg to move amendment No. 12, in

    clause 3, page 2, line 8, leave out 'entering' and insert 'participating in'.

The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments Nos. 14 to 17, 23 and 24.

Mr. Caborn: These are technical drafting amendments. Their purpose is pretty straightforward: it is to introduce clear and consistent language into the clauses that refer to participation in a lottery. The amendments do not serve to change the substance or meaning of the clauses; nor do they introduce any new policy into the Bill. Amendment No. 12 makes it clear that the clause applies only to competitions where all participants are required to guess or predict the answer.

Amendment agreed to.

3.45 pm

Mr. Caborn: I beg to move amendment No. 27, in

    clause 3, page 2, line 8, at end insert

    'and subject to section [national lottery]).'.

The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Government amendments Nos. 28 to 34.

Government new clause 3—National Lottery.

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Government new schedule 1—Amendment of National Lottery etc. Act 1993 (c.39).

Mr. Caborn: The nature of the national lottery is that money raised for good causes is clearly different from other forms of gambling. The Bill should therefore treat the national lottery separately from the rest of gambling. The national lottery has its own legislation, and any fundamental changes to it are best made through national lottery legislation. However, certain aspects of the Bill should apply to the national lottery. First, it would clearly be inconsistent for any individual who cheats at the national lottery to be treated differently from someone who cheats at gambling. Government new clause 3 makes cheating at the national lottery an offence, punishable to the same extent as someone cheating at any other form of gambling.

Additionally, the provisions relating to the enforceability of contracts should also apply to the national lottery. Those who operate or play the national lottery should have the same assurance that they will receive what they are owed as those entering into any other form of gambling contract.

It is right that the national lottery and the rest of gambling have separate regulators, but that does not mean that they should operate in a vacuum. The Government believe that the gambling commission and the National Lottery Commission should be in regular contact with each other about issues that affect them both. The Bill already attaches a duty for the gambling commission to consult the National Lottery Commission when it becomes aware of a matter in which the National Lottery Commission may have an interest. It also adds a power for the Secretary of State to enforce that.

Miss Julie Kirkbride (Bromsgrove) (Con): Will the Minister clarify for the Committee an issue that arose a few months ago? I believe that a young man in some sort of young offenders institution or even prison won a very large payout on the national lottery. The Secretary of State, as she is wont to do when the newspapers get on to an issue, demanded that action be taken and that such people should be deprived of their benefits from the national lottery. Does the Minister intend to do that?

Mr. Caborn: I do not know the exact details of the case, so it would be wrong of me to respond today, but I will consider the matter and write to the hon. Lady.

Bob Russell: I want to ask the Minister a sub-editing question. We have just had a vote on deleting the word ''entering'' and replacing it with ''participating in'', yet the phraseology in new clause 3 is ''entering'' each time. Should it be ''participating in'' or ''entering''?

Mr. Caborn: I shall finish the rest of my explanation. My officials will give me an answer to the hon. Gentleman's point, which I will give to him when I sit down.

Paragraph 1 to the new schedule adds the same requirements to the National Lottery Commission. For the first time, the Bill provides a definition of a lottery. The national lottery is the biggest lottery in the country, so it is entirely correct that the definition

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should also apply to it. Paragraph 2 to the new schedule would achieve that.

Government amendment No. 33 repeals section 2 of the National Lottery etc. Act 1993. That is consequential on the repeal of the Lotteries and Amusements Act 1976, which the Bill replaces. None of the provisions will extend to Northern Ireland. The amendment therefore simply prevents the repeal of section 2 in Northern Ireland.

 
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