Gambling Bill

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Clause 235

Territorial application

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.
Column Number: 483

Mr. Moss: I have another quick question. Clause 235(a) says that part 10 applies

    ''to anything done in relation to a gaming machine which (or any part of which) is situated in Great Britain''.

I am not quite sure how a gaming machine can be partly in this country and partly in another country, although I suppose a computer server might be. Can the Minister clarify whether the provisions refer to a dual server for remote gambling, where one facility is offered over the internet and another by a UK-based application?

Mr. Caborn: The provisions apply to gaming software or a server. Part 10 applies to anything done to a gaming machine that is in Great Britain and anything done in Great Britain in relation to a gaming machine. That deliberate distinction means that people in Great Britain manufacturing and supplying gaming machines will need to comply with our best practice, even where those machines are supplied elsewhere in the world. With that explanation, I hope that the clause can stand part of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 235 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 236

Promoting a lottery

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Nick Hawkins (Surrey Heath) (Con): We have turned to part 11, which deals with lotteries. I have expressed my concerns on behalf of hospice lotteries before and there have been quite a lot of debates about the issue. I want to ask the Minister, first, whether he is absolutely satisfied that there is nothing in the Bill that can damage the important contribution that hospice lotteries successfully make to fundraising.

Bob Russell (Colchester) (LD): The hon. Gentleman twice used the phrase ''hospice lotteries'', but would he confirm that we are talking about lotteries generally, not just those lotteries? Many other voluntary and charitable organisations have similar lotteries.

Mr. Hawkins: I am happy to confirm that. I am simply referring to the fact that when I have spoken in the Committee I have been particularly concerned about the hospices that have written to me, not only in my area, but throughout the country. I know that the hon. Gentleman shares my concerns, which have been widely expressed by many members of the Committee. He is of course right that there are lotteries working for many worthwhile causes, not just hospices. However, I strongly support the hospice movement and have worked with it for many years, both before and since coming to the House. It would be helpful if the Minister could give an assurance that nothing in part 11 will in any way damage or add to the expenses of hospices and similar organisations conducting fundraising lotteries.

10.30 am

My second concern is that in the Queen's Speech the Government announced their plans to introduce proposals to change the national lottery. I wonder
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whether we are seeing once again a lack of joined-up thinking, which is all too typical of this Government. They are changing the law on lotteries through the Bill, but are at the same time introducing further changes to the national lottery in separate legislation. There was a lot of comment immediately after the Queen's Speech, but the Government's changes to the national lottery—expected in a Bill in the previous Session—have been delayed until now.

It was originally anticipated, from earlier statements by Ministers, that what turned out to be the Horserace Betting and Olympic Lottery Bill—I dealt with that from the Front Bench for the official Opposition, with my hon. Friend the Member for South-East Cambridgeshire (Mr. Paice)—would also incorporate changes to the national lottery. It was delayed, and the changes will be in the new Bill. Who knows whether that Bill will become law before the anticipated general election? Are the Government wise to be changing the general law on lotteries when they are making changes to the national lottery?

Labour Members said in opposition, when my party was introducing the national lottery, that money from it should not be used for anything that would otherwise be funded by the taxpayer, but as soon as the Labour Government came to power, they did precisely what they had been suggesting might happen. We have regularly expressed concern from these Benches—

The Chairman: Order. I do not want us to start discussing the national lottery, which is not relevant to the clause or the Bill.

Mr. Hawkins: I abide by your ruling, Mr. Pike, but I wanted to express my concern that part of this legislation, which changes the law on lotteries, should not in any way be used for further depredations on the national lottery. However, I shall not pursue that line any further.

I hope that the Minister can deal with the important issues that I have raised and that this part of the Bill will fit in with whatever the Government introduce with their changes to the national lottery. I hope also that there will not be the same chaos, with the Government's frequent changes and U-turns, that has characterised this legislation.

Mr. Don Foster (Bath) (LD): Although the clause is relatively limited in scope, it is one of a number of clauses that we are going to go through fairly quickly. Rather than speak on each, I shall use this debate as a peg on which to hang for the Minister a reminder of his clear assurance to the Committee about the ticketless lotteries, which, as the hon. Gentleman and my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester (Bob Russell) said, particularly affect hospices and a number of other organisations. Perhaps this is the Minister's opportunity to say whether he has reflected on that assurance and to give any news of the Government's plans. No doubt some amendments will affect this part of the Bill.

I want to ask the Minister a question about definitions, although I am not sure whether it would be more appropriate under schedule 9. Can he explain to the Committee whether something that is often
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called a 100 club, a 200 club or a 500 club, which several organisations run, would constitute a lottery under the definitions in this part of the Bill? People are, in effect, buying a number, with a ticket that says what their number is, on a monthly basis. Very often, this takes the same form as a ticketless lottery, so perhaps it will come up in amendments tabled by the Minister. I raise the matter because I am conscious that such fundraising activities take place in the constituencies of a large number of hon. Members who are present. It is important for us to know whether we shall be affected and whether all those organisations, political or otherwise, that run such activities are covered by the legislation.

Mr. Caborn: On the question whether we are satisfied that nothing in the Bill can damage hospice lotteries, which was asked by the hon. Member for Surrey Heath, the answer is yes. We are looking at the question of ticketless lotteries and will ensure that those are covered, as I previously assured the Committee.

I shall just dismiss the political rhetoric about the lottery and not go down the route of answering it, although there are good answers to be made. Coming off the back of Budd, there has been a good reception from lotteries for what we have done, because of the protection that charitable lotteries now have and because the relevant charities find it helpful. Our action has been welcomed.

Whether a 100 club is a lottery depends on circumstances. Those that the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) described would be lotteries, and indeed always have been. They may be small, private society lotteries, depending on the circumstances. I think we will have to examine that point, because it might affect my constituency as well.

Mr. Foster: I did say that it might be more appropriate to raise the matter under schedule 9 and I assumed that the Minister might want to say that these matters fit into the category of a private society lottery. Perhaps he will give some thought to the schedule 9 provisions on how a private society lottery can operate, which make it clear that it can be promoted only on the premises of the private society. That means that it would not be possible to approach members of the organisation in their homes to involve them in the lottery. That might cause a problem in the future. The Minister has time to reflect on the issue, so he may not want to refer to it now.

Mr. Caborn: I am sure that my officials have heard the hon. Gentleman's remarks with great interest. We shall have an answer when we reach schedule 9.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 236 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 237

Lottery ticket

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.
Column Number: 486

Mr. Moss: My remarks follow on from something that the Minister said in giving an assurance to the hon. Member for Bath on ticketless lotteries. Clause 237(1) states:

    ''For the purposes of this Act a document or article is a lottery ticket if it confers, or can be used to prove, membership of a class for the purpose of the allocation of prizes in a lottery.''

The Minister gave an assurance that all would be well but did not say why, so all the people in the charities lottery sector who have been lobbying us still do not know exactly how they will avoid being caught due to their ticketless method. Perhaps a ''document'', in the definition under subsection (1), becomes a ticket in a way that gets round the problem—I do not know and just raise that as a possibility.

The charity lottery representatives say that people sign up with a direct debit or banker's order and the money goes in, very much as happens with our 200 clubs. Some strong Conservative associations have 500 clubs. The Liberal Democrats probably have a smaller number—

Mr. Foster: 50 clubs.

Mr. Moss: But the same principle applies, in which membership of the club or lottery is the acceptance letter in which people are told, ''Yes, you have been signed up, here is your number, or whatever, and thanks for your donation.'' A different amendment or new clause may be needed on Report, but it would be interesting to have the Minister's response on clause stand part as to whether this is the context in which charity lotteries can obtain the comfort they seek.

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Prepared 9 December 2004