House of Commons portcullis
House of Commons
Session 2004 - 05
Publications on the internet
Standing Committee Debates
Gambling Bill

Gambling Bill

Column Number: 339

Standing Committee B

Thursday 2 December 2004


[Mr. Roger Gale in the Chair]

Gambling Bill

2.30 pm


    That the order of the Committee made on 9th November, as varied by the orders made on 11th and 16th November, shall be varied so as to provide that the words ''5.30 pm on Thursday 2nd December'' shall be deleted.—[Mr. Caborn.]

Clause 126

Multiple licences

Mr. Malcolm Moss (North-East Cambridgeshire) (Con): I beg to move amendment No. 259, in clause 126, page 57, line 37, at end add—

    '(3) The provisions of this section shall not prevent the reissuing of a personal licence which authorises the performance of more than one function, which function may include requirements for remote gambling and non-remote gambling'.

The amendment is designed to make it clear that a function can be added to a licence and the licence then reissued to reflect all the functions that have been approved. That would allow an individual to operate under an operating licence that requires a number of different functions. Under clause 64, which is headed ''Combined licence'', the commission may issue operating licences to cover more than one of the 10 types of licence, provided that they are remote or non-remote. The amendment would permit a personal licence, which would fall under the requirements of separate remote and non-remote operating licences.

The Minister for Sport and Tourism (Mr. Richard Caborn): The Bill clearly states that the commission cannot issue combined remote or non-remote licences. That was a deliberate policy decision designed to ensure appropriate regulation of different types of gambling. Remote and non-remote gambling require different regulation, which places different demands on the gambling commission. For example, the age-checking systems required by online bookies are very different from those that might be expected of a betting shop. The same applies to anti-money laundering procedures and the management of customer accounts. It is essential that those differences are reflected in tailored licensing conditions set out in separate licences.

There is nothing to prevent an operator from applying for a remote licence and a non-remote licence, but I maintain that qualification for one should not entitle someone to qualification for another and I ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw his amendment.
Column Number: 340

Mr. Moss: There will be, and already are, occasions when servers are used for remote gambling and onshore gambling. We have discussed equipment and no doubt that will be sorted out later. The amendment is an attempt simply to enable personal licences to reflect that mode of operation. If the Minister is adamant that there must be a separate remote, as opposed to non-remote, licence and that that is enshrined in the Bill, we shall not make much progress on that. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 126 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 127 and 128 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 129


Mr. Moss: I beg to move amendment No. 261, in clause 129, page 58, line 26, at end add—

    '(4) Disqualification may be in respect of the carrying out of a specified function under the personal licence but shall not operate as a disqualification for all functions unless otherwise stated in an order for forfeiture under section 108 as applied by section 121.'.

A personal licence may specify a number of functions, and disqualification may apply to a specified function that should perhaps not apply automatically to the personal licence in totality, unless otherwise specified by the disqualification order. The amendment would preserve the remainder of the licence not covered by the disqualification order.

Mr. Caborn: I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's explanation of his amendment, but I must make it clear that, unfortunately, the Government cannot agree with it. It is important that disqualification should apply to all positions of trust in the gambling industry. A court will be able to make a disqualification order only if the licensee has been convicted of one of the relevant offences listed in schedule 6. In those circumstances, if the court thinks that a period of disqualification is merited, disqualification should apply to the entire licence. I do not understand why a croupier who has been convicted of theft should be able to carry on performing other functions that his licence might authorise, such as supervision of the cash cage in a casino.

I appreciate that the hon. Gentleman is trying to allow the courts some flexibility, but in this case it is important to protect the public by excluding people who could be a threat to the good name of the industry. With that explanation, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will withdraw his amendment.

Mr. Moss: I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 129 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Column Number: 341

Clause 130

Notification of operating licensee

Mr. Caborn: I beg to move amendment No. 296, in clause 130, page 58, line 28, at end insert

    '(za) suspends a personal licence under section 111 (as applied by section 121),'.

Clause 130 specifies that if the commission revokes a personal licence or is informed that the courts had made either a forfeiture order relating to a personal licence or a disqualification order, the commission is under a duty to notify relevant holders of the operating licence. The commission should also be required to inform relevant holders of operating licences if it suspends a personal licence. Government amendment No. 296 rectifies that omission.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Moss: I beg to move amendment No. 262, in clause 130, page 58, line 34, leave out from beginning to second 'the' in line 38.

The amendment seeks to delete from clause 130(2) the words from the beginning of the subsection to the end of the word ''activities''. It seems to us that unless there is definite proof, the commission ought not to be making any moves against a personal licence.

The wording as it stands starts ''If the Commission believes''. Our question is, ''Believes as a result of what?'' Is that belief based on anecdotal evidence, a tip-off or something else? We believe that there ought to be more concrete evidence before the commission starts taking action. The attempt of the amendment, which is a probing amendment to determine how much the Government think the commission needs to know before taking action, is to delete the first three lines of the subsection, so that it reads on automatically from subsection (1).

Mr. Caborn: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I am sure that the Committee can see the sense in what he said. I agree that the commission should always notify employers about staff whose personal licences have been revoked. I imagine that that is what the commission will do.

However, the words that the amendment would delete have a purpose. It is possible for someone to apply for and hold a personal licence without being employed by an operating licensee. That was made possible because we thought it a good idea for people to train and apply for a personal licence in the hope of getting a job.

So, the words that the amendment would delete are needed to lift the burden on the commission if the personal licensee has no employer. That is the responsibility of the commission. It is not about the merits of the disqualification order but is an administrative matter. With that explanation, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will withdraw his amendment.
Column Number: 342

Mr. Moss: I think I got that. If the clause is not about the merits of the case but is a matter of administration and assistance, I am happy to accept it. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 130, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 131 to 133 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 7

Gambling appeals tribunal

Mr. Moss: I beg to move amendment No. 332, in schedule 7, page 162, line 2, at end insert

    ', and in the event of a tie, the president shall have the casting vote'.

This is a simple amendment. We understand that under the current procedure tribunal decisions may be made by majority vote, but there does not seem to be any provision for procedure in the event of a tie. That is what the amendment seeks to address.

Mr. Caborn: For once, I agree with the hon. Gentleman's view that the tribunal should not find itself in the position where a tied outcome is possible, however the amendment is unnecessary. I draw his attention to paragraph 9, which allows the tribunal to consist of a member or the president sitting with two other members, so, in general, a tie will not be possible. Paragraph 9(3)(a) also provides for a three-member tribunal to continue with two members. That could result in a tie, but paragraph (9)(3)(b) provides that, in those circumstances, the president shall have a casting vote. It deals precisely with the situation that the hon. Gentleman seeks to address, and I therefore ask him to withdraw the amendment.

Mr. Moss: I am most grateful for the Minister's explanation, and I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 7 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 134

Appeal to tribunal

Mr. Moss: I beg to move amendment No. 263, in clause 134, page 60, line 6, after 'section', insert '71, 72 or'.

The clause allows for an appeal only to an imposition of an individual condition under clause 73. However, a right of appeal should apply to every condition that can be imposed, including general conditions under clause 71 and the decision to amend or revoke a decision under clause 72, and it should include the right of appeal against a condition imposed under clause 74 by the Secretary of State. Without the amendment, there will be no right of appeal against those other conditions, which would perhaps be inequitable.

Column Number: 343
Reference is also made to decisions made pursuant to clause 121. Such rights of appeal are critical to rights conferred when the Bill is enacted and to provisions regarding personal licences. The amendment must be included in order to avoid any uncertainty over the right of appeal with respect to personal licences.

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries ordering index

©Parliamentary copyright 2004
Prepared 2 December 2004