The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (Mr. David Lammy): A note has been placed with the Mental Capacity Bill's draft code of practice in the Libraries of both Houses. The note lets Members know what changes we expect to make to the draft code of practice as a result of discussions on the Bill and code in both Houses.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (Mr. David Lammy): On 4 April 2005, the Department for Constitutional Affairs introduces the new Asylum and Immigration Tribunal, hereafter referred to as the AIT, under the provisions of clause 26 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc) Act 2004.
At present, ministerial and non-ministerial correspondence concerning asylum and immigration appeals are the responsibility for the Home Office and handled by the immigration and nationality directorate.
As from 4 April 2005, the responsibility for dealing with all new correspondence (ministerial and non- ministerial) items relating to appeals will be transferred to the Department for Constitutional Affairs and will be handled by the AIT.
The Minister for Sport and Tourism (Mr. Richard Caborn):
This statement provides information about a number of amendments tabled on the Gambling Bill, which is currently being considered in Committee in the House of Lords. The Government believe it may be of assistance to Members of both Houses if they were to provide their view on amendments to the Bill that have not yet been considered formally, but which have been the subject of extensive discussions between Ministers and Members in both Houses, as well as a range of interested parties. The Government have also placed a
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copy of associated letters to Opposition spokespersons, setting out its position on all amendments tabled to the Bill, in the Libraries of both Houses.
The Government hope that this statement reflects the level of consensus that these constructive discussions have brought about, which has been reflected in a considerable number of improving amendments being tabled by the Government. References to clauses and schedules in this statement are to those in the Gambling Bill, in the draft brought from the House of Commons on 25 January.
The Government acknowledge that effective definitions in this area are of great importance, and sympathise with the intention of the amendments. However, we do not believe that the amendments would add clarity to the schedules or improve their effect.
We consider that the addition of the words "has been calculated so as to reflect", in relation to the cost of goods that may constitute payment to enter the competition or lottery, would not make a practical difference. Where the cost of an item "reflects" the opportunity to enter an arrangement, the price of that item must include a calculated increase that is attributable to the opportunity to enter the arrangement. We also believe that amendments relating to the normal rate are unnecessary as this will necessarily exclude any supplement or premium that reflects the opportunity to enter the lottery or competition.
The Government agree with amendments requiring free communicationsoffered as an alternative to a payment to enter the competition or lotteryto be genuine, realistic and not unduly inconvenient nor more expensive than payment to enter. We believe, however, that this is the effect of schedules 1 and 2. Paragraph 8 of both schedules requires a choice between paying to enter and entering through a form of communication. If the communication is not a genuine or realistic option, the requirement for a choice cannot be said to have been fulfilled.
This paragraph also requires that the free communication route must be no less convenient than entry by paying. This is designed precisely to rule out schemes that are not genuine or realistic, if, for example, an individual has a choice between paying to enter, and travelling to an inconveniently located office. It will not prevent companies from using what might be legitimate free entry routes such as e-mail.
Amendments have been tabled that seek to clarify that a requirement to pay in order to collect a prize will only be deemed to be payment to enter where the payment is to the arrangement promoter or his associate. The Government do not believe these amendments are necessary: payment for anything other than possession of the prize itself cannot be payment to enter for the purposes of the Bill.
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A number of amendments have been tabled that represent contrasting views in the debate over the level of skill required in a prize competition for it to fall outside lottery regulation under the Bill.
The Government do not agree with the amendments which would weaken the protection of charity lotteries, offering commercial prize competitions a wide discretion to encroach on the area of activity that the Government believe should remain the preserve of charity lotteries. Conversely, the Government believe that the amendments that introduce the notion of 'substantial skill' into the definition of a lottery bring an unreasonably stiff test.
The Government amendments introduce the notion of "reasonable expectation" into the test. This changes the nature of the test from a strictly empirical one to a normative one, and thereby improves its practical application. It is also important to note too that the Bill provides for a gambling commission with the powers it needs to investigate and tackle any abuses.
Amendments tabled to the Gambling Bill would require the proposed gambling commission to issue, to betting licensees, codes of practice on betting on sports. Clause 24 of the Bill already provides the commission with powers to issue such codes.
The Government agree that protecting the integrity of sport from potential threats posed by betting will be a priority for the commission. Indeed, one of the commission's licensing objectives is to ensure that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way. The Government also published, last month, their code of practice for betting on sports. In future, this code will complement codes of practice issued by the gambling commission. The Government believe, therefore, that further requirements to issue codes of practice are unnecessary, as both the powers and objectives of the commission are already in place to tackle this issue.
This section concerns amendments tabled to the Gambling Bill that would involve the Government, rather than the proposed gambling commission, offering guidance to local licensing authorities about the exercise of their functions under the proposed legislation.
Amendments tabled require the Secretary of State to issue guidance to licensing authorities under clause 25, in place of the gambling commission. The Government disagree with these proposed amendments. The commission, not the Government, will be the primary regulator of gambling in Great Britain and, with its
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experience of regulating and communicating with the industry, will be the main source of knowledge on gambling issues.
The commission, along with licensing authorities will also be responsible for monitoring and inspecting gambling activities, ensuring those activities take place in accordance with licence conditions.
Amendments tabled require the gambling commission to make any advice given to the Secretary of State available to the general public. The Government agree with the objectives of this amendment, but do not think it necessary to add this amendment to the Bill.
The gambling commission will be bound, like other bodies, by the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Requiring the commission to publish all the advice given to the Secretary of State will, however, put an unnecessary burden on the gambling commission. However, where it is appropriate to do so (having regard to the 2000 Act), the Government agree that the gambling commission should make public the advice it gives to the Secretary of State.
The main purpose of the amendments is to enable test purchasing to be carried out to assess compliance with under-age gambling. The commission will be able to use children and young persons in test purchasing activities to assess whether the offences of under-age gambling are being complied with. The amendments follow the model suggested by the Trading Standards Institute, which is involved in the protection of children from harm and the prevention of children from access to restricted goods, such as alcohol, cigarettes and lottery tickets.
This statement addresses concerns raised by remote gambling operators about licensing of remote gambling under the Gambling Bill. The Government have held detailed discussions with the operators on these issues, and has accordingly tabled Government amendments Nos. 79, 82, 84, 89, 142, 143 and 158.
Clause 35(4)(a) of the Bill defines remote gambling equipment as that which registers a person's participation in the gambling. Operators believed this an unduly onerous approach. Amendment No. 80, therefore, would require gambling operators to only verify the identity of customers. The Government do not think this sufficient, so Government amendment No. 79 requires this and requires operators to keep records of customers' gaming and transaction history.
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Amendment No. 81 deals with operator concerns that clause 35(4)(c) would capture all poker-room equipment used by British operators, which is often based overseas and whose location in Great Britain need not be necessary for the effective regulation of such remote gambling. The Government acknowledge that this is a legitimate concern and accordingly tabled Government amendments Nos. 142, 143 and 158 which allow the gambling commission to take a case by case approach to deciding which items of gambling equipment can be located outside Great Britain.
Amendment No. 83 and Government amendment No. 82 address the same issuethe records which remote gambling licensees must keep. We believe that amendment No. 83 would retain a requirement on the operators to maintain financial records, whereas Government amendment No. 82 has withdrawn this requirement and replaced it with a requirement to record game result history.
Amendment No. 88 seeks to exclude remote communications software from the offence of installing or supplying gambling software. The Government agree with this objective, but believe that Government amendment No. 89 achieves it more effectively by clarifying that a person does not supply or install gambling software if they provide solely communications equipment, e.g. a mobile telephone network, even if it is subsequently used to download gambling software.
Amendment No. 141 would require the gambling commission to regulate equipment outside its jurisdiction. The Government believe this impractical, but have instead tabled amendments Nos. 142, 143 and 158, which allow the gambling commission flexibility to judge which equipment can be located offshore.
The Government are confident that their amendments, which were shown in draft to the Association of Remote Gambling Operators, deal effectively with the remaining issues of concern to the remote gambling industry.
Amendment No. 90 seeks to replace clause 41(1), which makes it an offence to cheat at gambling (without defining cheating) with a new subsection which includes a definition of cheating. The Government appreciate that the intention of the amendment is to make the scope of the offence more specific; but we believe that, while it may achieve this objective, it involves undesirable consequences.
First, and most importantly, it narrows the scope of the offence, by excluding forms of cheating which do not alter the element of chance in a game of chance or its outcome. Second, by tying the definition of cheating specifically to games of chance it raises a question mark about cheating in the context of other forms of gambling than gaming, such as betting and lotteries.
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The Government believe that it is an important strength of clause 41 that the expression "cheating" is not defined. This will enable the commission and the courts, in prosecuting and punishing cheats, to deal with the full range of culpable conduct. The Government believe that the practical effect of a specific definition (however desirable from a drafting perspective) will make things easier, not harder, for cheats.
Amendment No. 91 appears to be intended to broaden the definition of the offence. It would bring within the definition of the offence any act which allows an advantage not intended by the manufacturer or operator of a game. The Government fear, however, that the effect of the amendment will be uncertain, because the operator's intention can only be a wholly subjective concept.
Amendment No. 92 seems intended to ensure that the offence of cheating catches the type of scam that involves using electronic equipment to reduce the odds on games like roulette, of which there was a high profile alleged incident last year at a London casino. The amendment makes specific provision concerning use of equipment in a casino that could be used to record, analyse or predict the outcome of, or the manner in which a game is played. The amendment would make the possession of any electronic equipment capable of recording games in a casino an offence. The Government are unclear about whether such activity will always constitute cheating, and accordingly think it unsafe to accept the amendment.
Following the incident last year, the Government considered carefully the use of electronic equipment to narrow the odds of casino games, and whether we needed to strengthen the offence of cheating in the Bill. We concluded that the Bill already covers everything that it should. A person who does anything unfairly to increase the chance of winning is cheating at gambling, and already falls within the offence. We are afraid that being more specific than this would risk making the clause too complicated, and vulnerable to evasion.
This section concerns amendments to the Gambling Bill, which relate to the employment of children, particularly those intended to allow gambling operators to employ children to work on category D machines and otherwise than in the provision of gambling in betting offices, adult gaming centres and casinos.
The control of machines is an adult responsibility and we think it would be irresponsible to allow children to be involved. Of course, children can be employed in family entertainment centres and in other places, to man the change counter or to serve food. There is no harm in that and the Bill allows it to continue.
The Bill prevents children from entering betting offices and adult gaming centres when they are being used in reliance on the premises licence, and the Government think this is an important principle. The Bill does not prevent persons aged under 18 from
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entering these premises at other times, however, so that 16 and 17 year- old apprentice joiners could work on the refurbishment of the premises.
This section concerns Government amendments to the Gambling Bill which require that the Secretary of State, before setting any age limit for playing category D gaming machines, consults the gambling commission, the industry and those with knowledge of the social problems relating to gambling. Government amendments also allow age limits to be set for only certain types of gaming machine e.g. we could exclude cranes and grabbers from any age limit.
These Government amendments follow up the commitment made by the Government during the Second Reading of the Bill in the House of Lords, to give Ministers power to limit the effect of any new age requirements for category D machines to particular types of gaming machines.
Government amendments insert new subsection (3) into clause 58. This subsection means that, before using this power, the Secretary of State must consult the gambling commission, relevant parts of the gambling industry and people involved with problem gambling. Government amendments also insert new subsection (4) into clause 58. This subsection allows the Government to distinguish different types of category D machines. This means that the Government can exclude machines such as penny pushers and crane machines from any future age restriction, if necessary.
This section concerns Government amendments proposed to the Gambling Bill which prevent the use of credit cards for gambling payments in casinos. This delivers on a commitment the Government offered at Second Reading.
The Bill as drafted already prohibits the use of credit cards in gaming machines, and these amendments extend the effect of that prohibition to all gambling in a casino. The amendments tabled do allow cash machines to remain in casinos, as long as there is no commercial relationship between the casino and the machine provider. The casino must also ensure that conditions about the location of such machines are observed properly.
The Government understand the concerns of the greyhound racing industry. At present, occupiers of greyhound tracks have an exclusive right to offer pool bets on the races taking place at their tracks. Betting offices cannot offer pool bets on greyhound tracks. The Government propose to lift this restriction; to widen consumer choice and allow the more substantial off-course pools to flow into on-course pools, thereby enhancing the attractiveness of greyhound pools.
The Government acknowledge, however, that there have been concerns expressed in the greyhound industry about the potentially disruptive effects of a rapid move to an open market.
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Following detailed discussions with representatives of the greyhound industry, the Government have therefore decided to table their own amendment on this issue. This will require pool bets on greyhound racing to be offered in betting premises only where they are offered in accordance with an arrangement with the greyhound track occupier. This restriction will apply until 31 December 2012, after which it will cease to have effect. The Government hope this transitional measure will provide reassurance to the greyhound industry, but note that it will also allow a wider range of betting choices for the betting consumer than exist at present.
Amendment No. 147 seeks to remove the limits altogether; amendment No. 148 would increase the maximum permitted proceeds of any one lottery (£10 million); amendment No. 149 would remove any limit on the annual proceeds of a lottery (currently £10 million); amendment No. 150 doubles the maximum prize that can be won in a lottery to £50,000 (if 10 per cent. of the proceeds is less than £50,000); and amendment No. 152 would make it a statutory obligation for the gambling commission to review proceeds and prize limits every three years.
The Government acknowledge that society lotteries raise a great deal of money for good causes, in part as a result of the recent increases in maximum permitted prizes and proceeds. In most cases, it seems unlikely that the limits in the Bill will act as a restraint for most lotteriesas few approach the limits on proceeds set out in the Bill.
The Government think it important to retain some control over the size of large society lotteries. In particular, prizes for these types of lottery are limited to a maximum 10 per cent. of the proceeds of the lottery. If the limits on the proceeds were removed it could lead to a situation where people were tempted to gamble more to chase higher prizes. We think the existing limits, which were doubled in 2002, are fair, but we agree that there should be flexibility to alter them. The Secretary of State has the power to vary any monetary amount or percentage in clause 97. She will, of course, keep these limits under review and increase them as necessary. With respect to the proposals in amendment No. 152 for a triennial review, it will be well known that the arrangements for a review have arisen as a matter of custom and practice on the part of the Gaming Board. We expect those arrangements to continue, and the Bill already makes provision, in clause 26, for the gambling commission to offer advice to the Secretary of State.
Amendment No. 151 is intended to remove the requirement that electronic tickets must be sent in a way that enables them to be retained, replacing it with a requirement only that the information contained on it should be accessible. The Government do not think it prudent to accept this amendment.
We do think it important that a person should be sent his ticket in a way that enables him to retain it, whether electronically or otherwise. This is both so that he can
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prove his entry, and so that the information is there to be checked if necessary by those responsible for monitoring gambling activity. We believe these are reasonable requirements.
This section concerns amendments which have been tabled to the Gambling Bill which seek to ensure that any levy raised under clause 121 is not raised in such a way that society lotteries pay more than reflects their impact on problem gambling or their relative size in terms of gambling revenue.
The Government hope that it will not be necessary to commence the levy provisions of clause 121. If, however, that proves necessary, there are a number of options for determining the levy allowed under the current clause 12including provision to determine it by reference to receipts. In raising any levy, the Government will of course discuss with the gambling commission how best to ensure that contributions, including any from the society lottery sector, are fair and reasonable. We do not consider that we should limit our options in the way that these amendments imply.
In addition, we do think that to tie the levy applicable solely to the incidence of problem gamblingwhether or not linked also to revenue, and for society lotteries only, would be unfair. We, therefore, believe that the possible operation of a levy should be dealt with in the round, in the manner facilitated by clause 121.
This section concerns amendments tabled to the Gambling Bill that would remove the Secretary of State's power to set annual premises licence fees. Licensing authorities would be able to set their own fees for premises licences in accordance with guidance issued by the Secretary of State.
The Gambling Bill gives to the Secretary of State a power (in respect of England and Wales) to set bands of fees for premises licences, with a prescribed maximum. This maximum is proposed because the Government believe it important that fees are fair and consistent. Within these bands, authorities will be able to set the precise fee in order for them to be able to recover their costs. We recognise that, in some circumstances, it would be appropriate to devolve fee-setting to licensing authorities, so long as the principle of cost-recovery is maintained.
Therefore, the Secretary of State has a power under clause 206 to devolve fee-setting to some, or all, licensing authorities. The Government have been, and will continue to liaise with the local government association and LACORS regarding the setting of all fees charged by licensing authorities under the Gambling Bill. The Government consider that this approach balances a desire for a degree of local autonomy with a reasonable desire on the part of gambling operators for a level of consistency.
The Government intend to use powers under clause 166 (default conditions), to set opening hours for gambling premises. The Government have no detailed
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proposals to make about the future opening hours of betting offices, other than to confirm that they believe they should be standard over the year. The Government will continue to consider this matter in consultation with all interested parties.
This section concerns amendments tabled to the Gambling Bill that address requirements for door supervision of gambling premises. Amendment No. 250 would exclude bingo hall door supervisors from needing to be licensed, as security operatives, under the Private Security Industry Act 2001. The Government have now tabled Government amendments Nos. 247, 248, 249 and 381. These ensure that where bingo and casino operators use their own staff for door supervision purposes, they continue to be exempt from being licensed under the Private Security Industry Act 2001. We believe that the controls in the Bill are sufficient to regulate these matters. As a result, there is no longer a need for amendment No. 250. We understand that the Bingo Association is also satisfied that the matter has been dealt with satisfactorily.
This section concerns Government amendments tabled to the Gambling Bill. The Government note concerns in the House of Commons and Lords about the availability of commercial gambling services on Christmas day. Accordingly, the Government have tabled amendment No. 251, which will have the effect of preventing licensed premises from being used to offer facilities for gambling on Christmas day.
This section concerns amendments tabled to the Gambling Bill that seek to allow the practice of trading up of two smaller prizes from a gaming machine, for a larger one to continue. The Government agree with this aspiration and believe that this is achieved in clause 337(3), which permits trading up so long as the value of the prize received is not greater than the total value of the prizes that could have been lawfully won by the player.
However, the proposal to introduce the phrase "be permitted without restriction", which is included in amendments, is of concern to the Government because it could be interpreted to mean that trading up to any value of prize could occur. If the amendment were interpreted in this way, two £5 prizes could be traded up to a prize of the value of £100, which would clearly be undesirable.
This section concerns amendments tabled to the Gambling Bill that would have the effect of making a triennial review of gaming machine stakes and prizes a statutory obligation. It also concerns amendments that would increase the maximum prize payable by a category C machine from £25, as proposed by the Government, to £35.
A triennial review of stakes and prizes has been carried out by the Gaming Board for Great Britain, as a matter of custom and practice. However, the Government do not think it desirable to make the process binding. The proposed gambling commission (which will take on the responsibilities of the Gaming
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Board in this area) might have reason to undertake a review more frequently than every three years. Conversely, there may be circumstances that lead the commission to conclude that a review of stakes and prizes is certainly not appropriate. Nor would the Government wish to encourage an assumption that they had ruled out adjustments to stakes and prizes that were thought necessary in response to advice and research from sources other than the gambling commission, even if the Government would always consult the commission about the use of its powers in part 10 to adjust stakes and prizes.
The Government gave careful consideration to the board's advice, but came to the conclusion that stakes and prizes for these gaming machines, which are available in pubs and other premises not dedicated to gambling, should stay where they are, pending the passage of this Bill. That means retaining the £25 maximum prize for category C machines for now, while keeping this under review in the future. The Government are not minded to change their view on this point.
During the Second Reading of the Bill in the House of Lords, on 22 February, the Government announced that the existing maximum prize of £8 for gaming machines that offer non-monetary and non-exchangeable prizes (i.e. goods, like teddy bears) will remain. The Government have previously announced that maximum stake for these machines will remain at 30p.
For other types of category gaming machine, like those that pay out in either cash or in tokens that can be accumulated and traded for significant prizes (known generally as 'redemption' machines, the Government continue to take the view that the appropriate stake and prize limits for these machines are 10p and £5.
Machines with cash or exchangeable prizes involve incentives for repeat play that the Government believe justify a more cautious approach than for non-monetary and non-exchangeable prizes, particularly where these machines can be played by children. Clause 230 gives Ministers power to adjust stakes and prize limits for all categories of machine. The Government believe that this flexible approach is the correct one in relation to machine stakes and prizes.
This section concerns amendments tabled to the Gambling Bill that seek to ensure that the gambling commission cannot arbitrarily attach conditions to licences for rapid draw lotteries, without first having evidence that these lotteries are harmful.
The Government agree with the intention of this amendment, and can confirm that we have no desire to place restrictive conditions on lotteries in the absence of compelling evidence of harm.
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The Government have therefore tabled amendments to delete clause 258. The Government intend, instead, to rely upon the powers in clauses 73, 75, and 76 to facilitate such conditions, as are necessary, on the offering of lotteries. Under clauses 73 and 75, the gambling commission may attach conditions to lottery operating licences. Under clause 76 the Secretary of State may make regulations which require specified conditions to be added to operating licences. The Government will consider, with the gambling commission and lottery providers whether it is necessary to use these powers in relation to lotteries. We will do so through the processes for consultation provided for in parts 2 and 5 of the Bill.
Schedule 13: Licensed Premises Gaming Machine Permits and Clause 279: Removal of Exemption This section concerns amendments tabled to the Gambling Bill that address the provision of gaming machines in pubs and other alcohol licensed premises.
Amendment No. 316 seeks to prevent a licensing authority from taking away the entitlements of alcohol licensed premises to provide gaming and up to two gaming machines until representations relating to the licensing objectives have been received and upheld. Amendment No. 310 imposes the same requirements on a licensing authority before it can cancel a licensed premises gaming machine permit.
Amendment No. 317 removes the condition under which a hearing is only required to be held if the licence holder requests one. It provides for a hearing to be held specifically to consider the relevant representations; and for that hearing to take place unless the authority, the licensee and each person who made representations agreed that a hearing is unnecessary. Amendment No. 311 makes the same provisions with regard to the cancellation of a licensed premises gaming machine permit.
The Government take the view that these amendments are unnecessary. Clause 279 and paragraph 16 of schedule 13 already restrict the circumstances in which an authority can take away an alcohol licensed premises' entitlements to offer gaming and gaming machines. We are confident that licensing authorities will act reasonably in the exercise of their functions in this regard. If the licence holder believes the authority's actions are unjustified, there is a right of appeal to the magistrates' court (or, in Scotland, to the sheriff). We believe this provides an adequate protection for licence holders.
There are also dangers in preventing a licensing authority from being able to act unless it has considered representations from a responsible authority. There may be cases where the authority has received information from other sources, or has gathered on its own initiative, that would justify it in taking action urgently to remove gaming or gaming machine entitlements. In these circumstances, the amendments would potentially put consumers and children at risk, if the licensing authority could only act in response to representations.
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The Bill also already provides for a licensee to request a hearing if he or she wants one. The Government believe that this provides sufficient opportunity for the licensee to make representations to a licensing authority before any entitlements can be taken away.
This section concerns amendments to the Gambling Bill proposed by the Government. These amendments provide further clarification in respect of foreign gambling. Government amendment No. 345 is a technical amendment designed to rectify an overlap between parts 11 and 16 of the Bill. As a result of this amendment, lotteries will be regulated, largely, under part 11. This will mean that advertising foreign lotteries will not be prohibited. However, there will be little point in doing so because no ticket for such a lottery will be permitted to be sold to a person in Great Britain.
Government amendment No. 346 fulfils a commitment that the Government gave to clarify the position that gambling operators based in Gibraltar will be permitted to advertise in the United Kingdom. Government amendment No. 347 widens the Secretary of State's powers to specify "places" as well as "countries" that can be 'white listed' under clause 325(3).
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