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Lord Clement-Jones: The group of amendments brought forward by the Minister is absolutely crucial to the agreements that have been reached between the Government and the Opposition Front Benches. I add my thanks to those of other noble Lords to the Minister for tabling the amendments, which hide a considerable amount of work carried out by officials and those who have had discussions with the Minister and his colleagues. We on these Benches agree that they broadly improve the Bill and emphasise the precautionary approach.
To that extentand I note what the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, saidI very much agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, on the issue of identity. The government amendments address the key issues that we raised in principle on the first day in Committee, despite the fact that they do not go as far as referring to photographic identification. We shall see the upshot of this when, in a sense, the experiment is carried out. We will then be able to assess whether or not this really is a proper precautionary approach or whether a firmer approach should be taken.
Finally, I could not stand here without mentioning Blackpool. I will draw the attention of my noble friend Lord McNally, my leader in this House, to the words of all noble Lords who have mentioned Blackpool, including myself. We will not be allowed by competition law to stack the cardsif that is the right expression in the context of this Billin favour of Blackpool, but it will depend on the strength of its case. I think that all noble Lords agree that it has a very strong case indeed.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I am grateful to everybody who has expressed support for different parts of this group of amendments. I do not think that anybody has expressed support for everything, but it is a pretty satisfactory state of affairs as far as I am concerned.
Let me assure the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwell that the petition he referred to is in place in the office of the Secretary of State. I cannot promise that she has studied every signature on every sheet in
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every box, but I assure the right reverend Prelate that she cannot go to work without being reminded of the Salvation Army logo on the side of the petition boxes.
The right reverend Prelate is quite right that as a result of this process we know more than we did about problem gambling, and we have brought that to the fore. That has been true of the process right the way through, from the Budd report to the Government response to the Greenway committee and to the proceedings in Parliament. We may know more than we did, but we do not know anything like enough. I still think that much more needs to be done in researching problem gambling before we can be certain that we have our policy objectives right. There are indications which we have followed, but I repeat the assurance about continuing with prevalent studies and going further in terms of research into problem gambling.
The right reverend Prelate asked me to give an assurance that when we use our order-making powers, we will test them and consult widely. I can certainly give him that assurance. The Gambling Commission will of course be critical in advising us on what order-making powers should be used and how they should be used. We will also be consulting widely, as I have said on more than one occasion, not just with the industry but with the public and those who are expert on issues of problem gambling.
I shall not be drawn down the path of support for any one location for a single regional casino. It would be absurd for a Minister to bring forward a Bill which institutes an independent advisory panel to say where regional large and small casinos would be and then say, "By the way, we have decided the answer to the question we are setting you". Anybody with any sensitivity will have heard the views that have been expressed in the House but they are not going to be expressed by me.
My noble friend Lady Thornton asked about Amendment No. 243A. I can confirm that the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, is right that we have tabled Amendment No. 243A in preference to the amendments which were debated on the first day of the Committee stage. We took the view that behind those amendments were two particular problems, those of money laundering and preventing access by children. There were problems with the amendments which were debated before, which I shall not go into, but we believe that these amendments address those issues, and I am glad that there has been agreement on that.
The noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, asked when and in what circumstances we think it would be safe and prudent to permit more than one regional casino. It is not possible to predict that at the moment. We would have to make a judgment that balanced the risks of enlarging the number of people who would be affected against the risk of drawing the initial phase too narrowly to produce reliable evidence. In due course, it might be possible to remove numerical limits altogether, but we would not rush to any such judgment and I can repeat the assurance that I gave the noble Baroness that this decision would be one that would be taken by Parliament.
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"(3) Before making an order under subsection (1) the Secretary of State shall consult
(a) the Commission,
(b) one or more persons who appear to the Secretary of State to represent the interests of persons carrying on gambling businesses, and
(c) one or more persons who appear to the Secretary of State to have knowledge about social problems relating to gambling.
(4) An order under subsection (1) may apply to a class of Category D gaming machine determined by reference to
(a) the nature of the facilities for gambling which are made available on the machine,
(b) the nature or value of a prize offered by the machine,
(c) the manner in which the machine operates, or
(d) any other matter."
"(2) Where a person commits an offence under this Part by employing a person or by being employed, he shall be treated as committing the offence on each day during any part of which the employment continues."
"USE OF CHILDREN IN ENFORCEMENT OPERATIONS
(1) Nothing in this Part renders unlawful
(a) anything done, in the performance of his functions, by a constable, an enforcement officer or an authorised person, or
(b) anything done by a child or young person at the request of a constable, enforcement officer or authorised person acting in the performance of his functions.
(2) Subsection (1) applies to an order under section 58 as to the provisions of this Part."
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