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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I shall speak to government Amendments Nos. 28, 29, 31, 32, 293, 297 and Clause 258 stand part. Before I do so, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, and the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, for their opening remarks. I give them both an assurance that the Gambling Commission, when it is established later this year, and the Gaming Board are very conscious of the issues they have raised. Much of the discussion has not been, as it commonly is, in Committee and on the Floor of the House, but elsewhere.

I am grateful to the noble Lord and the noble Baroness for acknowledging that on the most important issues raised by amendments other than government amendments, I have been able to respond—giving, I hope, a degree of satisfaction—to the points made in those amendments. By including them in a Ministerial Statement which was published on Monday morning, I have ensured that those responses and arguments appear in Hansard and provide some protection which is not possible to provide in private letters.

That is not the case for the government amendments. The Committee will forgive me, but I have to say some words about those because although I have explained them in letters to Members of the Committee, I have not actually said so in Hansard.

The government amendments in this group are designed to improve protections for charity lotteries and are the result of extensive discussions between DCMS officials and a number of interested parties. One of the problems that the Bill has sought to tackle is the vague and subjective boundary between lotteries and competitions. We think that it is right that lotteries should be permitted only for good causes and not for commercial ends. It is not fair that some companies are running de facto lotteries and not having to comply with the regulatory rules that charitable lotteries must follow.
 
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We have listened to those who suggested that Clause 14, as originally drafted, was hard to understand and would present practical difficulties for prosecution and defence alike, and we agree that it can be improved. Amendments Nos. 28, 29, 31 and 32 therefore make the clause more user-friendly, without diluting the rigour of the definition or the principles underpinning it.

The amendments allow those designing competitions to judge, in advance, whether their competitions are in fact illegal lotteries. In addition, they assist those who need to police the boundary between lotteries and prize competitions to determine where that boundary is placed. That benefits promoters of prize competitions, who will be able to satisfy themselves that their competitions are not in breach of gambling law, and lotteries, which can rest assured that the boundary between lotteries and competitions can be properly and fairly policed.

Our intention under Clause 14(5) has been clear all along: any competition that calls for a derisory element of skill will be treated as a lottery. The companies running commercial competitions will need to ensure that they stay well on the right side of the law because the Government will expect the Gambling Commission, with its new enforcement remit and powers, to be energetic in clamping down on abuses in the area of lottery scams that divert money from charitable causes.

We have listened carefully to the many society lotteries that have asked that the monetary limits on lotteries set out in Clause 97 should be reviewed on a triennial basis. We think that that it is preferable to retain the flexibility to review the limits when a review is needed, rather than prescribe reviews at regular intervals. However, given the importance that the sector attaches to such reviews, the Government will as a matter of custom and practice expect the Gambling Commission to offer them advice every three years.

The Government are also aware of the society lotteries sector's strong request for an increase in the limits now, and the Government will expect the Gambling Commission to undertake the first such review before the end of the current calendar year. If the case for an increase is accepted, implementation will not be delayed. Amendment No. 293 addresses a technical concern over who may promote a small society lottery.

We have received a number of representations from society lotteries stating that they use people such as barmen and newsagents to sell their lottery tickets. Paragraph 32 of Schedule 11 would stop that practice. We do not think that it is necessary to limit the promotion of society lotteries in that way, and we are happy to see the current practice continue.

Under the current draft of the Bill, if a person does anything in Great Britain in relation to a lottery, wherever it is held, they will commit an offence unless the lottery is licensed or exempt. That would prevent business in Great Britain from taking advantage, for example, of contracts to print material for foreign lotteries. We do not wish to constrain businesses in Great Britain in that way. Amendment No. 297 will, therefore, permit certain activities to be done in Great Britain in
 
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relation to foreign lotteries, while maintaining the general prohibition on tickets for foreign lotteries being sold in or to persons in Great Britain. The amendment also creates a defence against the offences of promoting or facilitating a lottery where a person reasonably believed that the lottery was a foreign one.

We have looked carefully again at the need for Clause 258, which makes specific provision for controlling rapid play lotteries, in the light of concerns expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft. On further reflection, we have concluded that there is no need to make separate and specific provision for excessive repetitive lottery play. There are enough powers in Clauses 73, 75 and 76, so we propose to remove Clause 258.

I would like to respond in advance to the amendments tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Howe of Idlicote, starting with Amendment No. 37. I understand her determination to act against bogus lotteries because such scams prey on the vulnerable. They lead them to believe that they have won a prize when either there is no prize or people are forced to part with considerable sums to collect it. They reduce public confidence in legitimate charitable lotteries. I pay particular tribute to the citizens advice bureaux for their work tackling that problem.

I assure the Committee that the Gambling Commission will have the powers that it needs to investigate and prosecute commercial lotteries or lotteries that break the rules with the utmost vigour. The problem is that many of the scams that the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, describes are just that—they are scams, not lotteries. If there is no prize, it is simply not a lottery. We agree that we should make life difficult for those people, but the Gambling Bill is not the place to do it, as it can regulate only gambling activities. There is other legislation in the Enterprise Act 2002 and there is the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive. Ofcom, ICSTIS and the DTI work closely together to tighten the regulatory regime, improving the likelihood that the victims of scams will get redress. We expect further announcements to be made on that matter shortly.

The noble Baroness, Lady Howe, raised an important point. I want the Gambling Commission to play its role alongside those other authorities, and I want to say two things to her and to the Committee. First, we expect the Gambling Commission to draw to the attention of the appropriate authority any scams of that sort that it comes across. Secondly, my officials will arrange a meeting with the Gambling Commission, the DTI, ICSTIS, Ofcom and the OFT to discuss arrangements for information sharing and joint working, so that nobody slips through the gap.

Baroness Howe of Idlicote: I am grateful to the Minister for what he said. As he knows, it was my intention to make a detailed attempt through the amendments in my name to persuade the Government that the Bill could be changed in such a way as to give the Gambling Commission power to deal with what is clearly a growing epidemic of fraudulent so-called scam lotteries.
 
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I know, too, that other noble Lords hear my concern at the growing number of individuals who find themselves the target of bogus lotteries. Indeed, as the Question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, on 21 March, showed all too clearly, noble Lords themselves have been bombarded by many such scams. But as has been said, organisations such as the CAB are at the receiving end of many of the vulnerable people who are increasingly being targeted in that way, and there are a considerable number of victims of those unscrupulous fraudsters.

I accept what the Minister and the Government have said and their firm belief, about which I originally had my doubts, that the Bill is not the appropriate vehicle to deal with such scams. I was particularly impressed by what the Minister said in expressing his own concern and by the firm undertaking that he made that more efforts would be made to bring all the interested parties together to take the necessary action required to end that situation.

I am sure that the Minister will not be surprised to hear me say that once your Lordships are once again back at work in this Chamber, I shall keep an interest in the issue and see how far the situation can be remedied.


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