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17 Oct 2005 : Column 716W—continued

Digital Television

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many people have switched from analogue to digital television services in each year since 1999. [18328]

James Purnell: Great progress has been made. 63 per cent. of households are now estimated to have digital television.

Please visit the Ofcom website ( for digital penetration in each year since 1999.

Gambling Act

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the timetable is for the publication of (a) secondary legislation and (b) guidance in relation to the Gambling Act 2005. [18053]

Mr. Caborn: We plan to bring the Gambling Act 2005 fully into force with effect from September 2007.

The first two commencement orders were made at the end of August 2005. These brought into force on 1 October 2005 the provisions of the Act formally creating the Gambling Commission; and, giving effect to parliamentary commitments to abolish the 24-hour membership rule in respect of casino and bingo halls, and to increase the number of jackpot machines allowed in a casino to 20.
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My Department has been considering the remaining subordinate legislation needed to complete the process of implementation and the timetable for that legislation. We propose to publish details shortly.

It is the responsibility of the Gambling Commission to issue guidance to licensing authorities. The commission plan to consult on its draft guidance in December 2005 and issue final guidance from May 2006.

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans the Government have to change the number of (a) small, (b) large and (c) regional casino licences to be allowed under the Gambling Act 2005. [18190]

Mr. Caborn: The Gambling Act 2005 initially allows for one regional casino, eight large casinos and eight small casinos, and we are proceeding with the implementation of the Act on that basis.

The Government have made it clear that it wishes to take a cautious approach to the development of new casinos until it has been possible fully to assess the impact of their introduction on problem gambling. We have not ruled out the possibility of asking Parliament in the future to agree to a larger number of regional casinos, if further evidence is needed for the purposes of making a more reliable assessment.

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate (a) her Department, (b) the Gambling Commission and (c) the Gaming Board have made of the anticipated average floor size of the whole licensed premises, including non-gambling uses, of (i) small, (ii) large and (iii) regional casinos. [18192]

Mr. Caborn: Under Section 7(5) of the Gambling Act 2005, the Secretary of State is required to make regulations by reference to which any casino may be classified as a regional, large or small casino. By virtue of Section 7(6)(d), these regulations may make provision by reference to the floor area used or designated for a specified purpose. In the Government's response to the first report of the joint committee on the draft Gambling Bill, we set out the minimum floor areas that would apply to the different categories of casino. This information is set out in the table. We have made no estimate of the likely average floor sizes of the new casinos.
Square metres

Minimum table gaming areaMinimum additional gambling areaMinimum non-gambling areaMinimum total customer area

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) what estimate the Government has made of the change in the number of adult gamingcentres as a consequence of the Gambling Act 2005; [18196]

(2) what changes the Government has made to controls on (a) the number, (b) the needs test for new premises and (c) maximum prizes allowed for adult gaming centres under its gambling reforms. [18197]

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Mr. Caborn: The Gambling Act 2005 creates a specific regulatory regime for adult gaming centres for the first time.

This will clearly distinguish adult gaming centres, which children will be prohibited from entering, from other premises like seaside arcades (termed family entertainment centres in the Act) which children will be permitted to enter. Adult gaming centres will be subject to the full requirements for operating, premises and personal licences introduced by the new Act, and operators will need to comply with new requirements relating to social responsibility or risk losing their licence.

No estimate has been made of the number of arcades likely to apply for adult gaming centre licences under the new Act. However, the Gambling Commission estimates that a total of 1,750 arcades will apply either for adult gaming centre licences or for family entertainment centre licences. A Regulatory Impact Assessment of the Gambling Act was published on 21 April 2005. It concluded that the gaming machine reforms in the Act would increase competition between adult gaming centres and other venues offering machine gambling, including casinos, bingo halls, licensed betting offices and members' clubs.

Arcades are not subject to any control on numbers or a needs test under the existing legislation. Currently, all arcades are permitted to offer gaming machines with a maximum prize of £25. When the 2005 Act is implemented, adult gaming centres will additionally be able to offer up to four gaming machines with a maximum prize of £500.

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what role the English regional chambers will play in the allocation of casino licences under the Gambling Act 2005. [18198]

Mr. Caborn: We have established an independent Casino Advisory Panel to advise the Secretary of State on the exercise of her powers under Section 175(4) of the Gambling Act 2005 to specify which local authorities may issue the new casino premises licences created by the Act.

The Advisory Panel will invite the English regional chambers, in their role as regional planning bodies, to identify a list of broad locations for the one regional casino permitted by the Act, emerging from their work on the regional spatial strategies.


Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will make it her policy to return the responsibility for the issue of licences for the sale of alcoholic beverages to magistrates; and if she will make a statement. [17151]

James Purnell: The Government have no intention of returning responsibility for the issue of licences for the sale of alcohol to magistrates. Indeed, the 24 November marks the full implementation of the new licensing regime, including the transfer of the bulk of alcohol licensing matters to the licensing authorities.
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The new regime is an enhancement of the former arrangements providing elected councillors with the power to resolve disputes, taking into account the views of local residents and against a back drop where the licensing objectives on crime and disorder, nuisance, public safety and the protection of children from harm, are paramount consideration at all times.

Mr. Wareing: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what representations she has received requesting a review of the proposed changes in the licensing laws; what response she has made; and if she will make a statement. [17524]

James Purnell: My Department has received many representations on this subject, both in favour of the changes introduced by the Licensing Act 2003, and requesting a review of the new framework.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I are satisfied that the Act provides a balanced package of freedoms and safeguards which will bring considerable benefits. The Act integrates six existing licensing regimes into one. It creates a system that enables local communities to influence licensing decisions and provides a more effective range of sanctions to be used against badly run premises. And over time the changes will provide the law abiding majority with a more diverse choice about how they spend their leisure time.

As with any major reform, the Government are committed to monitoring and evaluating the impact of the changes e.g. Sir Les Elton's Independent Fees Review Panel is about to publish it's interim findings, and following full implementation of the reforms on 24 November, there will be an early review of the statutory guidance in consultation with all stakeholders.

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