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Mr. Gummer: Why does my hon. Friend think that the Minister was entirely willing to listen to those who wanted him to hit at category D machines, but until the furore, was entirely unwilling to listen to those same people when they told him, with much greater evidence and much firmer statements, about casinos?

Mr. Simmonds: My right hon. Friend makes a good point, as there is a contradiction in the Bill. The Minister or a future Secretary of State can invoke clause 58 to ensure that children are not allowed to play on category D machines, but no such clause exists for category A machines, which may create far more serious gambling problems for the adult population.

If the Minister or his successor invokes the clause, what is a family supposed to do on a day out in Skegness? It rarely rains in Skegness, but when it does, are mother and father supposed to go into the family amusement centre and leave the children outside, because they are not allowed to play on category D machines? In fact, families will no longer come to UK tourist resorts such as Skegness. With the clause hanging over amusement centre owners, there will be a spiral of decline. There will be a lack of investment, and tourists will go elsewhere—probably abroad, where they can take advantage of such facilities. I very much hope that the Minister will reconsider his position and remove the clause from the Bill.

The Government do not pretend that there are any arguments or evidence to support the inclusion of the clause in the Bill. In correspondence on this issue, the Minister for Media and Heritage said:

If that is the Government's view, what on earth is the clause doing in the Bill? It should not be there at all but, as it is, it should be deleted.

In conclusion, family amusement centre owners in Skegness, as elsewhere, are extremely concerned about the future of their businesses. They will not commit to investing money in those businesses until they are sure that the clause has been deleted. Like many other Members, I would like the UK tourist industry to maintain its vibrant family atmosphere, and in particular, I would like Skegness to retain its vitality as a successful family resort. Clause 58 will do nothing but harm to its reputation, so I hope that the Minister will agree to delete it.

Sandra Osborne (Ayr) (Lab): I would like to add my concerns to those expressed by other hon. Members.
24 Jan 2005 : Column 97
I speak as someone who represents three seaside towns on the south-west coast of Scotland, and who hopes to represent even more seaside towns there in future. If the Minister has not visited Ayrshire, I can certainly recommend it to him. It certainly does not rain there has much as it does in Kirkcaldy. When it does rain, however, family amusement centres are an important mechanism for supporting tourism and small businesses in those towns.

I recently visited Girvan, which is currently part of the constituency of my right hon. Friend the Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes), to remind myself of what family amusement centres are like. It is some years since I frequented them, but in common with other hon. Members, I enjoyed the experience and it did not do me any lasting damage. As other hon. Members have said, the fact that there is not any evidence that category D machines are harmful is significant. When I went to Girvan I could not think of a logical reason for the Government's proposal to ban children from traditional games such as "grab a toy", penny falls, ticket redemption games and Derby races, all of which seemed to be quite harmless.

However, I draw Members' attention to the briefing from the Methodist Church, in which it draws a distinction between different category D games:

That sheds light on the reasons for the Government's proposals. We have all had a great laugh this evening about "grab a teddy", but that does not necessarily reflect the views of the Government or the Churches. We all accept that some games are harmless, but the Churches are concerned about children playing fruit machines, and we should not ignore or discount those concerns. We all want to do everything that we can to protect children.

Mr. Don Foster: The hon. Lady is making an important point, and has drawn our attention to the distinction made by the Churches. However, does she not accept that any changes in the categorisation of category D machines could be covered by changes made by the Secretary of State on advice from the gambling commission, which is already covered by other parts of the legislation? The sword of Damocles approach goes much too far.

Sandra Osborne: I agree, and I hope that the Government will take that into account when the Bill goes to the Lords. I hope that the Minister will give us such an assurance tonight. I am merely trying to shed light on people's concerns, and on why the Government have introduced the measure.

Finally, I think that I am right in saying that everyone who has spoken on the amendment tonight is concerned about clause 58. I do not think that anyone was in favour of it. I am reassured by what the Minister has said, and I wait to see what happens when the Bill goes to the Lords.

Mr. Caborn: With the leave of the House, I will say a few words of, I hope, reassurance.

I have said that the Government will review carefully the need for reserve powers, including clause 58. The length of the consultation was conditional on that
24 Jan 2005 : Column 98
review, and we will report our conclusion and any alternative proposals in the House of Lords, if the Bill completes Third Reading this evening. I went on to say that the Government wanted to work with the British amusement industry to make sure that this important part of the leisure and tourism economy has a bright future. My hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Sandra Osborne) has lobbied very hard indeed, and as I said earlier, we have taken on board the comments that she and other hon. Members have made. They would like the Government to consult people who have concerns and to give them reassurance about clause 58. We will review the reserve powers in clause 58 very carefully indeed. When we have completed our consultation, we will report to the House of Lords, so there is a time limit on our review. I hope that I have been as helpful as possible. The last thing that the Government want to do is harm that part of the tourism and leisure sector. I have gone as far as possible in my reassurances, and have taken into account the fact that other people need to be consulted. However, we will report forthwith in another place.

Mr. Whittingdale: I welcome the Minister's remarks, as far as they went. However, we have been expressing these concerns since the Bill was published. There has been ample opportunity to review the position. The Minister and the Secretary of State have consistently argued that the reserve power is necessary, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Even tonight, when the Minister sought to make a statement, he prefaced it by explaining why the Government had included a reserve power in the Bill. In his intervention, he again defended the inclusion of that power. If he wishes to accept that it is not necessary, he should do so tonight. While I welcome the fact that he has agreed to review the power and consult on it, the Opposition do not believe that a further review is necessary. The evidence all points one way: there is no need for the clause whatever, and its retention will do serious damage to seaside resorts throughout the country. I welcome the Minister's comments, as far as he was prepared to go, but they are not sufficient, and we will press the amendment to a vote.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 139, Noes 211.

Division No. 39
[7.58 pm


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Amess, David
Arbuthnot, rh James
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bacon, Richard
Barker, Gregory
Beith, rh A. J.
Bellingham, Henry
Beresford, Sir Paul
Boswell, Tim
Brady, Graham
Brazier, Julian
Breed, Colin
Browning, Mrs Angela
Burns, Simon
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, Sir John
Clappison, James
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Conway, Derek
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice & Howden)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Dorrell, rh Stephen
Duncan, Alan (Rutland)
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Field, Mark (Cities of London & Westminster)
Flight, Howard
Flook, Adrian
Forth, rh Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Fox, Dr. Liam
Francois, Mark
Garnier, Edward
Gibb, Nick (Bognor Regis)
Gill, Parmjit Singh
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James (N Wilts)
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Gummer, rh John
Hammond, Philip
Harris, Dr. Evan (Oxford W & Abingdon)
Hawkins, Nick
Heathcoat-Amory, rh David
Hendry, Charles
Hermon, Lady
Hoban, Mark (Fareham)
Hoey, Kate (Vauxhall)
Holmes, Paul
Horam, John (Orpington)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, rh Michael
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Key, Robert (Salisbury)
Kirkwood, Sir Archy
Knight, rh Greg (E Yorkshire)
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Laws, David (Yeovil)
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, rh Oliver
Liddell-Grainger, Ian
Lidington, David
Lilley, rh Peter
Mackay, rh Andrew
Maclean, rh David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Maude, rh Francis
Mawhinney, rh Sir Brian
May, rh Mrs Theresa
Mercer, Patrick
Mitchell, Andrew (Sutton Coldfield)
Moore, Michael
Moss, Malcolm
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Norman, Archie
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Prisk, Mark (Hertford)
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, John
Redwood, rh John
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Angus (Moray)
Robertson, Hugh (Faversham & M-Kent)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Selous, Andrew
Shephard, rh Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Simpson, Keith (M-Norfolk)
Smith, Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns & Kincardine)
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob (Castle Point)
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Swire, Hugo (E Devon)
Syms, Robert
Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Dr. Richard (Wyre F)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Teather, Sarah
Tonge, Dr. Jenny
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyler, Paul (N Cornwall)
Tyrie, Andrew
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve (Northavon)
Whittingdale, John
Wiggin, Bill
Williams, Betty (Conwy)
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Willis, Phil
Winterton, Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Sir Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Yeo, Tim (S Suffolk)
Young, rh Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Crispin Blunt and
Mr. David Ruffley


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Allen, Graham
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Bailey, Adrian
Barnes, Harry
Barron, rh Kevin
Battle, rh John
Beard, Nigel
Begg, Miss Anne
Bennett, Andrew
Benton, Joe (Bootle)
Berry, Roger
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Bradley, rh Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Browne, Desmond
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burnham, Andy
Byrne, Liam (B'ham Hodge H)
Caborn, rh Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian (Brigg)
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Clark, Dr. Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clarke, rh Tom (Coatbridge & Chryston)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Cook, rh Robin (Livingston)
Cooper, Yvette
Corston, rh Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Ann (Keighley)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, rh Dr. Jack (Copeland)
Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Dalyell, Tam
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, rh John
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim (Heywood)
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Brian H.
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim (Lewisham W)
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff (Barnsley E)
Farrelly, Paul
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flint, Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, rh Derek
Gapes, Mike (Ilford S)
Gerrard, Neil
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Hain, rh Peter
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Healey, John
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith (Streatham)
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hoon, rh Geoffrey
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Alan (Newport E)
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley (Stretford & Urmston)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Illsley, Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jamieson, David
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Eric (Falkirk W)
Keen, Alan (Feltham)
Keen, Ann (Brentford)
Kelly, rh Ruth (Bolton W)
Khabra, Piara S.
King, Andy (Rugby)
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Laxton, Bob (Derby N)
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom (High Peak)
Liddell, rh Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian (Wrexham)
Luke, Iain (Dundee E)
McAvoy, rh Thomas
McDonagh, Siobhain
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWilliam, John
Mahmood, Khalid
Mann, John (Bassetlaw)
Marris, Rob (Wolverh'ton SW)
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Meacher, rh Michael
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Miller, Andrew
Mole, Chris
Moonie, Dr. Lewis
Morley, Elliot
Morris, rh Estelle
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Olner, Bill
Organ, Diana
Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Pope, Greg (Hyndburn)
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quinn, Lawrie
Raynsford, rh Nick
Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Coventry NW)
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (City of Chester)
Savidge, Malcolm
Sheerman, Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Siôn (B'ham Erdington)
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, rh Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Helen
Steinberg, Gerry
Stewart, David (Inverness E & Lochaber)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Tami, Mark (Alyn)
Taylor, rh Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth (Harrow W)
Tipping, Paddy
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr. Desmond (Brighton Kemptown)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Tynan, Bill (Hamilton S)
Vaz, Keith (Leicester E)
Wareing, Robert N.
Watson, Tom
Watts, David
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Alan (Swansea W)
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Woodward, Shaun
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Iain (Hartlepool)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. John Heppell and
James Purnell

Question accordingly negatived.

24 Jan 2005 : Column 101

New Clause 1

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