In truth, I think that the Government have now accepted the principle of what my noble friend’s amendment is intended to do; I hope that they have. The debate before us this evening is really about whether it is better to put it in primary or secondary legislation. I know that, originally, the Government’s view was that this was not the right legislative vehicle. I have heard that before so many times. I am not quite sure what the right legislative vehicle is, but I am absolutely certain that the general public do not care; they just want it done. As my noble friend Lord Astor said, the right legislative vehicle—any legislative vehicle—does not come along very often, so when one comes along, you want to grab it.

If the amendment is to be withdrawn and the Government are to move forward in a different direction, the Minister should give your Lordships a commitment on a timetable, so that this does not just drag on and on, as issues have before. The problem with secondary legislation is that it is impossible to amend. If that is the route that the Government are determined to go down, my understanding is that the industry is not happy with it and would much prefer primary legislation but, obviously, like any industry, it will take what it can get. It seems to the industry, and it certainly seems to me, that primary legislation is the right vehicle for this. Unless the Minister can give us a very good reason why it is not, that is what we should do. There is quite enough flexibility in the provision. I think that your Lordships deserve the Government’s commitment to a timetable and to flexibility for the industry to make sure that we get this right. Unless we have those commitments, I see no reason not to take the view of my noble friend Lord Clement-Jones and pass the amendment. I look forward to hearing the Minister’s response.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, first, I thank my noble friend for his amendment and all my noble friends who have spoken to it. It is intended to allow the casino sector to introduce its specific remote gambling product into casino premises. As I said in Grand Committee, the Government are not opposed in principle to that, provided that appropriate player protections are put in place. We remain concerned that any changes should be effected within existing machine regulations so that appropriate controls can be put in place, rather than outside them in primary legislation, which this amendment would cause.

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I have looked into this issue carefully and particularly because, on the face of it, this seems like a simple change to current arrangements by allowing casinos merely to promote their own online games within their premises. On further reflection and in reality, however, this is a more complex change that would introduce credit card play into the casino environment for the first time and permit far broader sports betting. It could also allow casinos to develop even more sophisticated remote gaming machines without the proper controls afforded by machine regulations.

Casinos are already able to offer remote gaming devices in their premises within existing machine controls. Those regulations create a carefully crafted hierarchy to ensure that machine-based play can be offered only with appropriate player protections in place. Player protections are a key part of this; they include restrictions on the number of machines, their location and the circumstances under which they can be used. I acknowledge that my noble friend Lord Clement-Jones is absolutely right to say that casinos are at the top of the regulatory pyramid. However, I also hope that noble Lords will agree that it is incumbent on the Government—indeed, that the Government have a responsibility—to consider carefully the impact of any new gambling arrangements, to ensure the avoidance of unintended consequences and an increase in problem gambling. My noble friend Lord Mancroft mentioned the way in which developments can take us and given the pace with which gaming technology develops, this is not merely a theoretical risk.

The casino industry recognises that any changes need to be made subject to appropriate player protections. We welcome this, as it reflects the very constructive dialogue that officials have had with the industry to date on this issue. This is also acknowledged in my noble friends’ amendment, which gives the Secretary of State power to make regulations for the nature and circumstances in which remote gaming machines can be used in casinos. This brings us much closer to the current regulatory structure and, in our view, it is difficult to see the need for primary legislation. Indeed, there would be a real risk of introducing regulatory anomalies in the existing primary legislation route.

For these reasons, the Government do not think that taking remote devices outside existing regulation is the right route to tackling this issue. The Government consider that this issue is best progressed instead through the ongoing and very constructive discussions with industry, and that any changes implemented can be done through secondary legislation. I emphasise that the Government are actively engaged in constructive discussion with the casino industry and the Gambling Commission to consider the appropriate legislative and regulatory tools that would need to be put in place. I understand entirely that the industry would like to have primary legislation as its first objective but it has acknowledged that secondary legislation is a viable option to pursue these proposals.

My noble friends Lord Astor, Lord Mancroft and Lord Clement-Jones quite rightly asked for some assurances. The discussions are scheduled to conclude at the end of this month and Ministers will then consider the outcomes. This is very much a live discussion

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and I give those reassurances to my noble friends. I also emphasise to your Lordships that the Government are not ruling out change but that we think we need to approach this in the right manner and ensure that such changes are made through an existing regulatory framework that applies to gaming machines while bringing proper scrutiny, assessment, consultation and—this is paramount—consumer protections. It is for these reasons and because I think that there is another route for this that, while I understand what my noble friend would prefer, I ask him whether he might withdraw this amendment.

8.45 pm

Lord Clement-Jones (LD): My Lords, I thank the Minister for that response, albeit that it was somewhat disappointing in the circumstances. It was somewhat circular, in that he said that we must have appropriate player protection and the appropriate protection is that provided by secondary legislation, so we go around the loop that says that secondary legislation must be the way forward. Yet the Minister almost admitted himself that the amendment reflects a lot—in fact, most if not all—of what could be reflected in secondary legislation.

The Minister described the discussions taking place with the industry as ongoing and constructive, but to date the industry itself has found them to be ongoing but frustrating because of the insistence on bringing the whole issue within secondary legislation and categorising these terminals as machines subject to all the existing secondary legislation, rather than finding a new and more flexible way of dealing with them. However, it is not incumbent on me to keep bashing my head against a brick wall. I very much hope that the Minister’s discussions will be rather more fruitful than they have been to date. From the timescale, I fear that we will have had Third Reading in this House by the time that his discussions come to a conclusion.

The Minister said that it is incumbent on the Government to consider the consequences of any new arrangements and that there are complexities surrounding these issues. I must be very simple-minded because I cannot see that the matters are quite so complex. I feel that the Minister is busy building the barricades as we speak. In fact, the barricades seem to be much higher on Report than they were in Committee; I was rather more impressed by his reply then than I have been on Report. I live in hope, though, and, in the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 6 withdrawn.


Amendment 7

Moved by Lord Browne of Belmont

7: After Clause 1, insert the following new Clause—

“Remote operating licence

(1) Section 89 of the Gambling Act 2005 (remote operating licence) is amended as follows.

(2) After subsection (1) insert—

“(1A) The Commission shall hold a list of persons who have registered to be excluded from access to remote gambling websites.

(1B) It shall be a condition of a remote operating licence that an operator must exclude any person access who has registered for self-exclusion with the Commission under subsection (1A).””

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Lord Browne of Belmont (DUP): My Lords, the Government have been very clear that this Bill is about consumer protection. As others have noted, this was made very clear by the Minister, Helen Grant MP, in another place when she said that the new licensing proposals address,

“the fundamental purpose of the Bill, which is to enhance consumer protection by ensuring that all operators offering remote gambling in Britain are regulated by the Gambling Commission, whether they are based in Britain or overseas”.—[

Official Report

, Commons, Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill Committee, 19/11/13; col. 75.]

As has also been pointed out, though, that statement makes sense only if the new requirement for all online gambling providers based beyond the UK to obtain a UK gambling commission licence is backed by a parallel provision preventing those that do not have a licence from accessing the UK market.

In that context, the main effect of the Bill, far from enhancing consumer protection, is actually to place it under greater pressure by dramatically widening the scope for online gambling advertising in the UK. Rather than enhancing consumer protection, the Bill’s principal implication will consequently be to make the British people more aware of gambling opportunities, and not just any such opportunities but opportunities associated with a far higher problem gambling prevalence figure than gambling generally. While the basic 2010 problem prevalence figure was 0.9% for online, it was over 9% on an annual basis and over 17% on a monthly basis.

Mindful of that, I find the intervention of the Secretary of State over the weekend rather odd. She has said that she wants to clamp down on gambling advertising, yet her department is at the same time introducing dramatic online gambling licensing liberalisation. I am genuinely at a loss to know how these two commitments fit together. Estimates differ, but it is widely recognised that the UK embraces about 450,000 problem gamblers. That may not seem very many as a proportion of the total population, but it is a very significant number of people in absolute terms. We rightly devote very considerable care and attention to other social challenges that affect similar numbers of people, yet we do not seem to accord problem gambling the same level of concern or attention.

Problem gambling is a very debilitating condition that takes over people’s lives and destroys them. Last week, I was privileged to hold a briefing on this amendment in the Palace of Westminster that was addressed by two recovering problem gamblers who bravely shared their stories. Justyn, aged 45, and Dino, aged 36, developed gambling problems relatively recently, within the past four years or so. Of particular interest for the purposes of the Bill, which liberalises online gambling advertising, is that they both began online gambling in response to adverts they had seen promoting free bets. In one case, the advertising was at a sporting event; in the other, it was on a bus. The destructive impact of problem gambling on both was remarkably similar. They got into difficulty relatively quickly and ended up losing their jobs and families and became hugely involved in debt.

They both said that one of the problems with online gambling is the fact that it is available 24/7 with no natural barriers, such as those pertaining to a

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betting shop. You do not have to leave the house to gamble, and there is no closing time. They also highlighted that it is an enormously solitary experience without any kind of accountability to fellow humans. One of them even ended up selling his son’s christening presents to raise funds to feed his habit. It is a matter of great concern to me that this Bill, which is supposed to be about consumer protection, not only proposes making life much more difficult for problem gamblers, such as Justin and Dino, but completely fails to take any balancing or compensating steps to help them.

In this regard, the failure to do so is further compounded by the fact that online gamblers are already seriously disadvantaged in terms of the support available to them when compared with terrestrial gamblers. One of the key mechanisms for helping problem gamblers is self-exclusion. Problem gamblers, like other addicts, experience days when they are stronger and days when they are weaker. On a stronger day, a problem gambler can get around the five betting shops in his town and self-exclude for a fixed period—say, six months—and thereby cut himself off from local gambling opportunities for the period in question, during which time he can seek help and try to put his life back together again. Crucially, however, the same provision does not have the same effect for online problem gamblers. On a strong day, the online problem gambler can self-exclude from five online gambling providers, but he cannot cut himself off from all locally available online gambling opportunities because there will still be hundreds, if not thousands, of online gambling providers that remain equally accessible from his bedroom.

Not only do online problem gamblers have to exclude themselves far more times to cut themselves off from locally available gambling opportunities, they would have to self-exclude to an extent that is physically impossible. Mindful of the fact that self-excluding once is a difficult step for a problem gambler to take, the idea of doing it hundreds, if not thousands of times, simply is not credible.

Given this problem, it is my firm belief that we should provide online problem gamblers with the credible form of self-exclusion promoted by my amendment. Amendment 7 proposes that instead of trying to self-exclude from multiple online gambling websites, online problem gamblers should have the option of self-excluding just once to the Gambling Commission. The Gambling Commission would then relay the self-exclusion to all online providers with Gambling Commission licences and all such providers would be required to honour the terms of the self-exclusion as a condition of their licence.

The need for a one-stop shop online self-exclusion mechanism was demonstrated clearly through the testimony of the online problem gamblers who came to Parliament last week. Justyn Larcombe said that had a one-stop shop self-exclusion mechanism been in place in 2012 it could have saved his marriage. Justyn, with the support of his wife, made the difficult decision to self-exclude from the online gambling site he had been using. The reality of his self-exclusion provided both Justyn and his wife with a real sense of security. It was, however, only a matter of time before he saw adverts for other online gambling websites and,

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three months on, he had been fully set back into using alternative sites. When his long-suffering wife found out, that was it; she left him.

Dino Panayi, meanwhile, explained how he had managed to self-exclude from 25 websites but, in words that all too eloquently sum up the problem, he said:

“The problem is, there is always another website”.

Again, he was adamant that a one-stop shop self-exclusion mechanism would make a real and practical difference to their lives. Of course, neither was suggesting that the one-stop shop was a magic wand that would liberate them from their problem, but they were both very clear that it was one relatively simple step that could be taken and would make a clear, positive impact on their lives. They could not understand why the Government had not already intervened to introduce a one-stop shop, and were shocked that the Government had whipped against an amendment proposing this change in the Commons.

I find it extraordinary that the Government should introduce what is, in effect, our first Bill specially on online gambling without seizing the opportunity it presents for dealing with the long-term disadvantaging of online problem gamblers. I find it even more extraordinary that the Government should instead use the Bill to make life much more difficult than is already the case for online problem gamblers in the United Kingdom by introducing far-reaching online gambling liberalisation, so that any provider anywhere in the world can now advertise so long as they get a Gambling Commission licence.

Amendment 7 presents your Lordships’ House with the opportunity of ensuring that this, the very first piece of legislation specifically on online gambling, seizes the opportunity to address the historic disadvantage of online problem gamblers. Amendment 7 also provides a means of balancing the online gambling advertising provision in the Bill, which will make life much more difficult for online gamblers, with a provision that would at least provide some assistance. I beg to move.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My Lords, I support the amendment. Gambling is an extraordinary business, and it is never more so than when otherwise sensible, able people become addicted to it. I was present at the meeting kindly organised by the noble Lord, Lord Browne, and I was very moved by the testimony of the two men there who had fallen prey to this addiction. One was a Regular Army officer who was thereafter a senior figure and shareholder in a City business; the other was an engineer who had been a broadcast disc jockey. Listening to those two men—who were being extraordinarily brave, forthright and frank—drove home to me the sheer loneliness and social isolation that goes with the addiction to gambling and what an awful business it is.

I then read Section 1 of the Gambling Act 2005, which is substantially amended by the Bill. This section —in Part 1 of the Act, which is headed “Interpretation of Key Concepts”—under “Principal concepts”, says:

“In this Act a reference to the licensing objectives is a reference to the objectives of”—

the third of which is:

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“protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling”.

The people we are talking about in this amendment are “other vulnerable persons”, and they are harmed and exploited by gambling and exploited by the companies that run these betting opportunities. They are ruthless in the way that they advertise. They go straight for the jugular. They care not what happens as long as their betting odds come piling in.

9 pm

I do not see what objection there can be against a one-stop shop as described by those two gamblers. It is an opportunity, by a single voluntary act of self-exclusion, to be safe from all the gambling outlets. That, of course, overcame the reservation that I first felt about this amendment and which others may feel about it—namely that it tinkers with the freedom of the subject. It does no such thing because the subject—the addict—has to self-exclude. Nobody is forcing it on the addict. Surely we must help the addict self-exclude where they want to do so, and not leave a vast vista of opportunities unchecked for the reasons so well explained by the noble Lord, Lord Browne.

I hope the Government will accept this amendment, because to leave it for further consideration, deliberation or consultation is not good enough. The incidence of addiction gambling is growing. Its consequences do not just affect the addicts but, of course, directly affect their families and their creditors. I therefore hope very much that the Government will listen.

Baroness Howe of Idlicote: My Lords, I also support the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Browne. He put the case so clearly, as did the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, that I find it very difficult to think of any further reasons at all for not accepting it. He and the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, were present at that gathering where we heard, as has been said, these incredible addicts talk extremely frankly about their own addiction and what situations it had caused for them and their families and about the total horror of all that. I therefore hope the Government will realise that there is a role for what is proposed in the amendment and take on board just how important it is to make certain that it is included in the Bill.

The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, I associate myself very closely with the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Browne, and that of the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, so I will not repeat the points they made. Noble Lords will realise that it is quite rare for Members from this Bench to quote the scriptures. For understandable reasons we are a bit coy about doing that. However, I cannot avoid going to a verse from the First Epistle to Timothy, which says that,

“the love of money is the root of all evil”.

There is great truth in that. The lure and attraction of wealth so often lies behind the person who turns gambling from an innocent pastime into an obsession, an addiction or whatever. A responsible society has to do what it can to protect people against these false gods and false goals. When you get into the digital world, you simply raise the stakes, to use a gambling analogy. If I am a problem gambler and I have to walk

4 Mar 2014 : Column 1313

down to the betting shop in Chester, there is a natural restraint—there may be only two or three people there and they will wonder what I am doing when I walk through the door. But if those restraints are taken away, you have to be cognisant of the potential dangers.

I often think that we are now, in the digital age, in a digital version of the wild west, where there was all the excitement and discovery and all the positive aspects in America when it opened up, but the reality of law and order had to come in later. We must provide proper protection to people in the online world.

I shall briefly refer to a completely different area that concerns me very greatly—the way in which the internet is used in relation to pornography. The noble Baroness, Lady Howe, has talked about this on previous occasions. I have had a particular problem with two or three clergy in my diocese who have innocently thought that accessing child pornography on the internet was somehow not as serious as interfering directly with an actual human being. Of course, the law quite properly says that accessing child pornography on the internet is to be complicit in the actual original abuse. People have that sort of innocent view of the internet so often. The more checks and balances that we can introduce, the better.

If the net effect of this Bill is that the advertising of online gambling is much more in our face and much more prevalent, it behoves us to put in place what protections we can. I warmly support the amendment.

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Browne, for introducing the amendment. We are also signed up to it. The noble Lord spoke at length about the issues that he wanted to raise, building on the meeting that he kindly organised, at which I was also present. I endorse what has been said by other noble Lords who were there, including the noble Lord, Lord Phillips.

The interesting thing about gambling, to me, coming to it relatively unskilled in this area, is that it is one of those areas about which we make a set of assumptions when we approach it, then we discover as we get closer to it that they do not stand up. For example, one thinks of addiction very much in terms of what substance people are taking that has a chemical effect on their body which makes them addicted. But with gambling, all the signs, evidence and research suggest that we are dealing with addictive activity, but there is no physical substance. Of course, it may well be, as the right reverend Prelate was saying, that something about the internet has a way of interacting with our neurons and has an effect that we do not yet fully understand. There is absolutely no doubt, from the reading that I have done for these debates, and from the evidence that we heard at that powerful meeting, that we are talking about something really rather serious and deep-seated worries should flow from that. It is not that the problem is extremely widespread—it is not—but the numbers are still significant. If we are talking about 450,000 people in our society, of course, we as a responsible society should take action to try to help them.

The situation, as I understand it, is that the regulatory position is very clear. There has to be a process for self-exclusion, because it is recognised that it is a

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helpful way to do it. It may not be the only way to get people away from gambling and it may not be sufficient on its own, but at least—as long as the evidence is there that it is helpful—we must make sure that the regulatory framework supports it. It is obviously right that, for those who obtain a licence to operate in current systems, and in future systems envisaged by this Bill, we need to see the self-exclusion procedures in place. I do not think any of us would be against that, but I have a problem in understanding why it is sufficient for the Government to argue that simply having a voluntary scheme operated by those who perpetrate the harm is sufficient in this case. The evidence that we have—and the very moving testimony that we have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Browne—suggests that those affected by this, those who are addicted and those who are trying to help, say that simply having the mechanism available on a case-by-case basis, on every website that they go to, as it may be regulated in future, and therefore having available the ability to self-exclude, is not sufficient.

If it is not sufficient, what system can we put in place to make sure that it works? Again, the evidence shows that the detailed proposal of the noble Lord, Lord Browne, seems to work for those with whom we have been in touch. Therefore, it seems to me a bit perverse for the Government to continue to say that they do not think that any further action is required in this regard. But what are they saying? I hope that when the noble Baroness responds, she will try to tease out the wording in the letter that we received yesterday from the Minister, which states:

“But this issue is not standing still: the Gambling Commission has indicated that it will be reviewing the self-exclusion provisions as part of a wider exercise to strengthen player protection, with the aim of significant progress within six months towards the establishment of a national remote gambling exclusion scheme”.

That text is not in capitals; I capitalised it as I said it.

That seems to suggest that there is at least the option of having something that will meet the criterion emerging from this evening’s debate—namely, that there must be something that will work for those people who are addicted. It must be something that does not mean they are constantly coming across additional websites which are not part of the scheme. It should, if possible, work with areas that are not yet regulated, although I understand that will be difficult. Certainly, if it were possible to keep open the proposal of the noble Lord, Lord Browne, until such time as the review is completed, that would help us a lot in dealing with the issue behind this amendment.

We are not saying that that is the only way in which this issue can be tackled. However, given what we have heard today and at meetings, I am certainly persuaded that this is something which works. Therefore, if it does the trick, we should keep it in play until such time as all the evidence is available.

It is becoming a theme of our discussions today that we are offering the Minister the chance to get this right at the next pass. My noble friend Lady Jones was a bit nervous about the issue of the watershed and I have my concerns about this big and important matter. As a responsible society, we should take action in this regard. The noble Baroness will say, when she responds, that there is a review and will ask why we should

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anticipate it. I understand that, but I hope she will recognise that we will want to come back to this issue if satisfactory progress is not made. I support the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Browne, and the very powerful speeches made tonight on this matter. I hope to hear some good news from the noble Baroness when she responds.

Baroness Jolly: I start by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Browne of Belmont, for his amendment, which seeks to create a centralised self-exclusion scheme. I seek to reassure him with regard to the Secretary of State’s letter and with regard to the noble Lord’s suggestion that gambling is being liberalised. The Government do not see this as a liberalising Bill. It ensures that all operators who currently advertise in Britain, and wish to do so in the future, are required to have a Gambling Commission licence. This is consistent with what the Secretary of State was saying.

Problem gambling is debilitating and I reassure noble Lords that the Government take this extremely seriously. I am in absolutely no doubt about the commitment of the noble Lord, Lord Browne, to this. Problem gambling is not only debilitating for the gambler himself or herself, but creates a heavy burden on their families and on society at large. I was not at the relevant presentation but I have heard that it was very powerful. Strategies to prevent and address problem gambling are key aspects of the social responsibility obligations set out in the Gambling Commission’s licence conditions and a priority within the Government’s approach to gambling more generally. Self-exclusion is a very important tool to assist those who are experiencing problem gambling or wish to exclude themselves to prevent it.

Under the Gambling Commission’s existing licence conditions, all licensed operators are required to have effective procedures in place to allow consumers to self-exclude. Therefore, once the Bill is enacted, all remote gambling operators licensed by the Gambling Commission will be required to offer self-exclusion to their customers.This marks a real step forward in increasing player protection for British consumers and will mean that future improvements in this area by the Gambling Commission will apply to all operators selling into the British market.

9.15 pm

We fully agree with the spirit of what the amendment seeks to achieve but believe that it may be detrimental to achieving that goal by being too specific and embedding only one potential solution in primary legislation—that of a Gambling Commission central list. Over the next few months we will learn far more about how to achieve the end goal of allowing consumers to exclude across multiple remote sites, which may or may not include the Gambling Commission holding a central list itself.

Therefore, while there are practical and legal difficulties associated with the creation of a one-stop shop for self-exclusion, work is progressing in two ways to explore how these might be overcome and delivered appropriately. First, the Gambling Commission will be reviewing the self-exclusion provisions as part of a wider exercise to strengthen player protection, with

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the aim of making significant progress within six months towards the establishment of a national remote gambling exclusion scheme. This review will consider with the industry and other stakeholders how to solve the various practical and legal impediments, for example in relation to data protection and identity checking. Further, it will bring together learning from the remote and non-remote sectors to expand participation across types of operators and products where necessary.

Secondly, the Responsible Gambling Trust is reviewing the effectiveness of the current self-exclusion provisions. The Responsible Gambling Strategy Board, in its 2013-14 strategy, identified self-exclusion as requiring further research—in particular, on how effective it is and on what changes could improve its usefulness to those who wish to control their gambling. The Responsible Gambling Trust is expected to report in May 2014. This work will provide an analysis of the effectiveness of self-exclusion, its limitations and the challenges to creating enhanced systems. It will also review experiences in other jurisdictions. We welcome the Remote Gambling Association’s announcement this week on its willingness to do more in respect of making existing self-exclusion mechanisms as accessible and easy to use as possible, and making arrangements with GamCare and providers of treatment for problem gamblers to self-exclude at the same time as seeking treatment.

The Government are not sitting back. They are driving the agenda forward on self-exclusion more generally. For example, the Secretary of State made clear last weekend that the Government want a system to be developed within six months that allows customers to exclude themselves from betting shops on a national basis. Put simply, a customer need ask only once in their local betting shop, and their exclusion would apply to all shops in that chain and all other chains within the UK. We are therefore confident that all this work will result in real progress on allowing consumers to exclude across multiple online sites—which is what the noble Lord is looking for; the concept of a one-stop shop, as is it often described—and help deliver this important tool to assist problem gamblers to get control back into their lives.

I hope that I have persuaded noble Lords that it is better for us to await the outcome of this critical work to advance the best means of achieving a national remote self-exclusion scheme, rather than enshrine in primary legislation a potential solution that may not be the most effective approach. Of course, that option remains open, and if it is found to be the best route forward it will be pursued without the need for primary legislation. For those reasons, I ask the noble Lord to consider withdrawing his amendment.

Lord Browne of Belmont: My Lords, I am very grateful to everyone who has spoken in this debate and I have listened carefully to what the Minister has had to say. I very much welcome the fact that the Government have moved a long way on one-stop shop self-exclusion since the beginning of the passage of this Bill in another place—from clear opposition in the Commons to commending research in the Lords—and they now talk of making significant progress in the next six months towards creating a one-stop shop self-exclusion mechanism.

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I have a number of questions for the Minister. First, can she clarify that it is the clear and deliberate intention of the Government to establish a national self-exclusion scheme for remote gamblers? Can she confirm that it will happen? Secondly, can she provide a little more detail on the timing? In the letter from the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Gardiner, reference was made to making significant progress in the next six months but there was no reference to when the Government hope that the arrangement might be in place. Finally, can she confirm that the new arrangement will be statutory in the sense that it will be achieved under the Gambling Commission licensing conditions that are upheld by the 2005 Act?

Baroness Jolly: I am sorry. Would the noble Lord mind repeating his third question to me?

Lord Browne of Belmont: Can the Minister confirm that the new arrangement will be statutory in the sense that it will be achieved under the Gambling Commission licensing conditions that are upheld by the 2005 Act?

Baroness Jolly: That was really fast work by those in the Box, for which I thank them. The report is due in May 2014. Having made a decision, we will then need to move as fast as is practically and technically possible, because this is not the sort of thing that we can just turn to in the morning and switch on. We need to decide what we are going to do. That is our intention, if it is practical and possible to do so, and it will form part of the licence conditions.

Lord Browne of Belmont: I am very grateful for the Minster’s reply. Perhaps I may ask just one further question and I do not think that there will be a problem with this. Will the Minister undertake to meet me and online problem gamblers to listen to their stories and to allow their experience to feed through into the development of the one-stop shop?

Baroness Jolly: Of course.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: Perhaps I may interject and ask the Minister for clarification arising out of the answer that she gave. I simply want to be sure that the scheme that she talked of will be comprehensive and compulsory.

Baroness Jolly: We need to make a decision when we have seen what the report says. There is no point in having something that is not comprehensive. I have explained that it is part of the Gambling Commission licence so it will therefore be compulsory.

Lord Browne of Belmont: My Lords, on the basis of the Minister’s replies to my questions, I congratulate the Government on the significant steps that they have taken to date. Since the Bill entered the Commons, they have moved forward in relation to self-exclusion and I hope that we will be able to make more progress as time goes on. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 7 withdrawn.

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Amendment 8

Moved by Baroness Heyhoe Flint

8: After Clause 4, insert the following new Clause—

“Cheating at gambling

Cheating at gambling: amendments to section 42 of the Gambling Act 2005

(1) In section 42 of the Gambling Act 2005, in paragraph (a) of subsection (4), for the words “two years” substitute “ten years”.

(2) In section 42 of the Gambling Act 2005, after subsection (3) insert—

“(3A) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1), cheating at gambling may, in particular, consist of—

(a) a person engaging in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of an event or event contingency—

(i) knowing that, or being reckless as to whether, the conduct corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of the event or the event contingency, and

(ii) intending to obtain a financial advantage, or to cause a financial disadvantage, in connection with any betting on the event or the event contingency (whether or not a financial advantage was actually obtained or a financial disadvantage was actually caused),

(b) a person offering to engage in, or encouraging another person to engage in, conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of an event or event contingency—

(i) knowing that, or being reckless as to whether, the conduct corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of the event or event contingency, and

(ii) intending to obtain a financial advantage, or to cause a financial disadvantage, in connection with any betting on the event or the event contingency (whether or not a financial advantage was actually obtained or a financial disadvantage was actually caused),

(c) a person entering into an agreement or arrangement in respect of conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of an event or event contingency—

(i) knowing that, or being reckless as to whether, the conduct the subject of the agreement or arrangement corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of the event or event contingency, and

(ii) intending to obtain a financial advantage, or to cause a financial disadvantage, in connection with any betting on the event or the event contingency (whether or not a financial advantage was actually obtained or a financial disadvantage was actually caused),

(d) a person encouraging another person to conceal from a relevant authority conduct, or an agreement or arrangement in respect of conduct, that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of an event or event contingency—

(i) knowing that, or being reckless as to whether, the conduct corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of the event or event contingency, and

(ii) intending to obtain a financial advantage, or cause a financial disadvantage, in connection with any betting on the event or event contingency (whether or not a financial advantage was actually obtained or a financial disadvantage was actually caused),

(e) a relevant person—in each case, where the relevant information possessed by that relevant person is relevant to the bet concerned.

(i) betting on an event or event contingency, or

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(ii) encouraging another person to bet on an event or event contingency in a particular way (whether or not that other person actually bet on the event or event contingency concerned), or

(iii) communicating the relevant information possessed by that relevant person, or causing that relevant information to be communicated, to another person who the first person knows or ought reasonably to know would, or would be likely to, bet on the event or event contingency (whether or not that other person actually bet on the event or event contingency concerned),

in each case, where the relevant information possessed by that relevant person is relevant to the bet concerned.

(3B) In subsection (3A)—

“bet” and “betting” includes (without prejudice to the generality of section 9)—

(a) placing, accepting or withdrawing a bet, and

(b) causing a bet to be placed, accepted or withdrawn,

but, for the purposes of subsection (3A) only, shall be limited to bets placed, accepted or withdrawn by means of remote communication,

“causing a financial disadvantage” includes—

(a) causing a financial disadvantage to another person, and

(b) inducing a third person to do something that results in another person suffering a financial disadvantage—

whether the financial disadvantage is permanent or temporary,

“conduct” means an act or omission to do an act,

“conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of an event or an event contingency” means conduct that—

(a) affects or, if engaged in, would or would be likely to affect the outcome of any type of betting on the event or event contingency, and

(b) is contrary to the standards of integrity that a reasonable person would expect of persons in a position to affect the outcome of any type of betting on the event or event contingency,

“encouraging” includes inciting, inducing, persuading, urging, threatening or pressurising,

“engaging in conduct” means—

(a) doing an act, or

(b) omitting to do an act,

“event contingency” means a contingency connected to an event,

“obtaining a financial advantage” includes—

(a) obtaining a financial advantage for oneself or another person, and

(b) inducing a third person to do something that results in obtaining a financial advantage for oneself or for another person, and

(c) retaining a financial advantage that one has,

whether the financial advantage is permanent or temporary,

“relevant authority” means—

(a) a member of a police force, or

(b) the Commission, or

(c) any person or body listed in Schedule 6, or

(d) any other authority of a kind as may be prescribed by the Secretary of State by order,

“relevant information” means information in connection with an event or event contingency about conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of the event or event contingency,

“relevant person” means a person who possesses relevant information and knows that, or is reckless as to whether, that relevant information is about conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of the event or event contingency.

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(3C) A person will be taken to have intended to obtain a financial advantage, or cause a financial disadvantage, if, and only if, that person—

(a) intended to obtain a financial advantage, or to cause a financial disadvantage, in connection with betting on an event or event contingency, or

(b) was aware that another person intended to obtain a financial advantage, or to cause a financial disadvantage, in connection with betting on an event or event contingency as a result of the conduct concerned.””

Baroness Heyhoe Flint: My Lords, I move this amendment because I believe passionately in the power of sport, which does so much good in society. I believe that we have a duty to protect sport from those who seek to interfere with its integrity for financial gain by match fixing.

We recently had an excellent debate in Grand Committee about the importance of competitive sport—the skills, health benefits and pleasure that it brings to millions who take part in it. Sport, whether people take part in it or watch it, has the power to unite a nation and thrill the billions who watch across the world. All this is threatened by match fixing. If supporters cannot trust an event to be genuinely clean and fair and an honest competition, it will diminish in value and all belief in its authenticity will be lost.

I am very sorry that my noble friend Lord Moynihan cannot be with us. He was intending to lead this amendment on cheating in gambling and he is of course an expert on the problems of this subject, having been Minister for Sport and, more recently, chairman of the British Olympic Association. He backs wholeheartedly this amendment and has in recent years been on working groups at the International Olympic Committee on match fixing. Perhaps I may remind this House that in the run-up to the Olympic Games in London 2012 it was interesting that the president of the International Olympic Committee at that time, Jacques Rogge, opined that the greatest threat to the Games in London was illegal gambling activity.

My noble friend Lord Moynihan wishes me to convey his apologies to noble Lords for not being present. Urgent business has taken him overseas. He asked me to relay just how important he sees the fight against the match fixers. He describes this amendment as vital. To use his words:

“Going right to the heart of integrity in sport and the fight against irregular and illegal betting is critical if we are to maintain the integrity of sport on which all international sport and, indeed, all sport depend. In my work at the International Olympic Committee, which has sought to define a common approach in the fight against irregular and illegal betting, we identified one of the most important things that can be done: to get nation states to strengthen their offences of cheating at gambling to influence sporting events”.

In Committee, several noble Lords urged the Government to look more widely at the legislative framework for gambling. Many of those who administer sport feel that there is now a need for clear and specific laws against match fixing to cover all activities which fixers might engage in around a sporting event, with clear definitions, including match fixing, spot fixing and the passing on of inside information. This would improve considerably the current Gambling Act which does not, as such, provide any specific definitions. They also want to introduce stricter penalties by increasing

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the current maximum sentence of two years to 10 years in line with the penalties applied to serious fraud offences. We are told that the low level of penalty in the Gambling Act is one reason why prosecutors may not seek to use this measure.

The measure would create a strong deterrent effect as sports bodies will be able to point to this legislation to warn and educate participants about the risks associated with being caught cheating. If the United Kingdom were to strengthen the legislative framework, it would become an exemplar nation on this issue and would catch up with the advances in such legislation in Australia. Perhaps it might catch up in cricket a little later as well. As an example, the England and Wales Cricket Board would like to see more effective measures taken against match fixing in other countries where cricket is played. It would be an advantage to be able to point to effective measures in our UK market before calling for improvement in other countries. In the absence of adequate legislation, the burden falls on sports governing bodies to prosecute offenders under their own disciplinary charges in circumstances where the sport does not have the same recourse to investigate as the police and other relevant bodies and does not possess the same deterrent penalties as with legislation.

The current offence of cheating is to be found under Section 42 of the Gambling Act 2005. It states:

“A person commits an offence if he … (a) cheats at gambling, or (b) does anything for the purpose of enabling or assisting another person to cheat at gambling”.

Noble Lords will immediately note that this is a very general clause which does not specifically criminalise the acts of fixing—either match fixing or the more common and harder to detect form of spot fixing. It simply is not designed to protect the integrity of sport. I believe that there has been only one prosecution under the Gambling Act in several years. Prosecutors instead use the fraud and conspiracy offences which were designed for different purposes and are now being used where possible to shoehorn in charges to fit a sports corruption context. It is of course worth reminding ourselves that we are not replacing any offences here. We are merely adding further strength to the fight against fixing which must equal best practice. As mentioned, there has been a dearth of criminal prosecutions under the Act for fixing offences in sport and I wonder whether that in part is reflective of the fact that the existing statutes were fundamentally flawed.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport commissioned a report in 2010 into the integrity of sport. Its primary recommendation for government was that the definition of “cheating” in the Gambling Act 2005 should be reviewed and given greater clarity— as this amendment does. Will the Minister consider establishing a review into the most appropriate way to address the offence of cheating, as recommended by the DCMS Parry commission’s report in 2010?

Integrity in sport is a challenge for every Government and for every sports governing body in the world. It is our duty and responsibility to make sure that our domestic market is regulated as effectively as possible. I beg to move.

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9.30 pm

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts (Con): My Lords, I have taken no part in proceedings on the Bill so far, but I will take the opportunity tonight to say a few words in support of what I consider to be an important and significant amendment. My noble friend Lady Heyhoe Flint ran through the technicalities with great precision and the hour is late, so I will not repeat her arguments but will restrict myself to three separate points.

I asked myself why people consider a couple of years’ imprisonment a relatively light punishment and not a serious deterrent for a serious match fixer. For many people, it seems a victimless crime—except, perhaps, for the bookmakers, who as a group do not command much public sympathy. When I began my career in the City, there was another victimless crime—or rather, a crime that was believed to be victimless—which was insider dealing. In my generation it was perhaps not as widespread as in the previous generation, when you were not paid much money because it was expected that you would trade inside in order to make good your rather inadequate wages. Undoubtedly quite a lot of it went on.

When one asks why people accepted that situation, it was because the crime was believed to be victimless—and, if it was not victimless, it was extraordinarily difficult to prosecute and eradicate, because one could never catch up with insider dealers. Any law would be unenforceable, and an unenforceable law would have no merit. More importantly, if it was unenforceable it ran the risk of bringing the wider law into disrepute.

I have not had a chance to glance over the Minister’s shoulder to see the notes that he will use in a few minutes, but I suspect that there will be a good deal about the issue of unenforceability as a reason for not wishing to accept my noble friend’s amendment. However, to go back for a moment to the example of insider dealing, over a period of years, as the legal framework changed, the attitude to enforcement changed and the reputational risk increased, the prevalence and acceptability of insider dealing diminished. While I will not claim that it does not exist now in the City, its instance is pretty small.

That is what this amendment seeks to achieve: a higher penalty, linked to a higher reputational risk for engaging in this crime, so that its frequency is likely to be very much reduced. For match fixing is not a victimless crime. Its victims are not, of course, those on the inside, be they investors or gamblers; it is usually the smaller, poorer and less experienced people who suffer.

That takes me to my second point. If I could see further down my noble friend’s speaking note, I think I would see that he will emphasise not just the difficulties of domestic enforcement but the much greater challenge posed by the extraterritorial nature of so many of these crimes, which seem to have overseas origins. Leaving aside the desirability of our making the greatest possible effort to root out match fixing completely in the UK, my noble friend on the Front Bench should remember that Her Majesty’s Government have not always found extraterritoriality to be an insuperable bar. The Bribery Act, although not uncontroversial

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in its application, requires UK companies to take responsibility for their agents overseas, even where the agent is not directly employed by them. There are precedents and experience in this area which we could build on to develop our activities to inhibit, prevent and eradicate match fixing in the UK.

To conclude, it seems that this modest amendment sends a clear signal that the heat is being turned up as regards this crime: 10 years on conviction, not two years, could not be clearer. I shall of course listen very carefully to my noble friend’s reply in due course. The Hippocratic oath says, I think, “First, do no harm”. I want to hear from him not why the enforcement of this amendment will be difficult—I am sure it will be—but why its existence on the stature book would do any harm or not take us in the right direction towards eradicating this extremely unpleasant and, apparently, increasingly prevalent activity.

Lord Grantchester (Lab): I speak in favour of Amendment 8, in the names of the noble Baronesses, Lady Heyhoe Flint and Lady Grey-Thompson, the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, and my noble friend Lord Stevenson. This amendment not only comes from all sides of the House but is in the names of great sporting personalities who have participated at the highest level of elite sport. I support them in their contention that sport must maintain the highest levels of integrity and be recognised to be fair and honest. Sport governing bodies have been relentless in stamping out cheating, whether through drugs, unfair equipment or fraudulent activity, in order to maintain the public’s interest and trust. We all enjoy the pursuit of excellence and recognise that competition is the spur to improvement. The public will turn away, sponsors withdraw funds and participants lose interest if they detect any level of cheating or corruption, or any lack of fair play.

The amendment creates a clear and specific offence of cheating that covers all activities that fixers may engage in. All sports would have this offence available under the Gambling Act. Recently, we have witnessed the difficulties cricketing authorities had to face in prosecuting and getting convictions regarding the bowling of no-balls by Pakistani cricketers. This situation could easily occur with throw-ins and other events in professional football. I understand that the authorities had to go to great lengths to enforce fair play and that they went ahead under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906. This offence will enable a strong deterrent from stricter penalties to warn and educate all sportspersons. Professional bodies such as the Professional Footballers’ Association in soccer can underline to their members the dangers and risks associated with being caught cheating.

I urge the Government to take this amendment seriously and, if they cannot accept it tonight, to be amenable to bringing forward their own amendments at Third Reading, otherwise similar amendments will be pressed very vigorously then.

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara: My Lords, I am reminded by my noble friend Lord Grantchester that I have joined a rather elite and special grouping in turning up on this list. I certainly cannot pretend to

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have, in any sense, any quality that matches theirs in terms of the sporting achievements they have had. Along with the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, I was a not-indifferent squash player, but I am afraid that does not take me far towards either the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, or the noble Baronesses, Lady Grey-Thompson or Lady Heyhoe Flint.

I apologise for intruding on their party but I do so because this is a really interesting amendment, and I am rather annoyed we did not think of it ourselves on this side of the House. The 2005 Act was much castigated earlier on in our debates but is still a rather good Act in its way. It goes out of its way to make it clear that it is not dealing with the integrity of sport—this point has been made already—and does not attempt to try to deal with the actual issues around the playing of sport. Its actions are about gambling, and sport is only one of a number of things that people can gamble on. We should not therefore expect that Bill to carry us all the way to where we want to get to in this new area, which is about trying to make sure that the sport that we all love and enjoy is played to the highest standards.

I talked earlier about the need for integrity. It is an issue that we need to think very hard about. It is not necessarily the case that if you follow the argument that I am about to make through to the end we would end up with simply amending the current Bill; I suspect our ambitions are a bit broader than that. When the Minister responds, perhaps he could reflect on the question that has been posed implicitly in the speeches we have heard today and explicitly outside by a number of people who are now saying that there is something slightly odd about the way in which we pay so much attention to the process of gambling around the sporting activity but we do not think hard enough about what we need to do to ensure that the sporting activity itself is as clean and above suspicion as it should be. That is the way in which I want to approach this.

The noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, said that we were talking about something that is called a victimless crime and pointed out that that was a contradiction in terms. I follow him on that: his point is very well made. My noble friend Lord Grantchester, who has substantial experience in running a sports club of great distinction, knows all too well about some of the issues that have arisen there.

It is interesting that the only serious case we have seen in recent years, which involved spread betting rather than fixed-odds arrangements, was prosecuted under a conspiracy to defraud offence and not under the provisions of the Gambling Act. On my reading of it, that is not unreasonable because the Gambling Act does not go in that direction but, if that is the case, the point was made earlier about the need to level up the tariffs on all these approaches to try to clean up sport—they need to be the same. So we are talking about a 10-year penalty being the standard for crimes against sporting activity. If anybody affects the integrity of the sports that we are concerned about, we should be able to use a range of penalties and approaches to ensure that the person is nailed.

We have looked at the number of prosecutions for match fixing in sport and there seems to be about one a year at the moment. Although, as I have said, there

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are difficulties in raising these offences, it is important to recognise that they do take place. There is evidence that there is quite a lot of match-fixing activity going on, not necessarily all related to gambling, and that is one of my points.

The DCMS itself has a sports integrity review. It must have been ahead of the game in thinking that it would need to look at that, and the Rick Parry report calls for further action in this area. Therefore, the onus is on the DCMS to come forward with proposals on this. The European Parliament and Commission have called for all member states to have specific match-fixing legislation. Again, one might ask the Minister what action the department will take to respond to that call. The amendment before us derives from evidence of recent work in Australia, where legislation has recently been introduced. The amendment is based on a model that seems to be working well and is widely seen in the sport as an exemplar.

To return to my first point, although we must be thinking about the question of what to do to strengthen our sport, of which gambling is a part but not the full amount, it is interesting that the gambling industry supports this approach. Sue Rossiter, director of projects and policy at the Remote Gambling Association, which supports the amendment, says:

“Cheating is already an offence under the Gambling Act and match-fixing falls into that category. But anything which further clarifies the fact that it’s illegal is welcomed by us. Players should be made aware that if they get involved in match-fixing, they’re involved in a criminal activity wherever they are. We work closely with sports governing bodies to make sure players are clear about that”.

There is an educational element to this, which will be very important.

This amendment may seem to be at a distance from the main purpose of the Bill but it should not be rejected out of hand. I appeal to the Minister to think about bringing this back at Third Reading for a further debate, when it might be possible to get the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, and the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, to add their arguments to this. We will have to fix this in the future if we do not fix it now.

The sport that we play in Britain somehow makes a huge contribution to our culture. As my noble friend Lord Grantchester said, if people feel that the games they watch are in some sense fake then, to quote from “The Hunger Games”—a recent film that I am sure all noble Lords have seen—the games will not be quite as enjoyable as they might otherwise have been. That is rather an unfortunate and sad analogy but I hope some of it might live long in memory.

9.45 pm

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, first, I thank my noble friend for moving this amendment. I very much agree with her and regret that my noble friend Lord Moynihan is not with us tonight. I thank all noble Lords for speaking in this debate.

Match fixing is an issue about which I know many of your Lordships feel very strongly. The Government fully share those concerns. Match fixing has no place in sport and we must do all we can to eradicate it. That is precisely why the Secretary of State held a match-fixing

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summit on 10 December and the Sport and Tourism Minister followed that up with a second meeting on 3 February. That work remains a priority. I emphasise that Ministers in the department see this as extremely important ongoing work.

My noble friend’s amendment suggests that Section 42 of the Gambling Act 2005, covering the offence of cheating at gambling, is inadequate in its current form. The Government recognise that sports governing bodies have concerns about that section. Indeed, sports governing bodies were invited on 3 February to provide case studies that they believe demonstrate the failings of Section 42 in dealing with gambling-related match fixing. The Government will consider any such evidence when it is supplied. We have received two case studies to date and are aware that there may be others in the pipeline. However, we have yet to see robust evidence demonstrating a problem with Section 42 as opposed to other factors such as lack of evidence. Indeed, lack of evidence of a link between match fixing and corrupt betting would make it difficult to pursue a successful prosecution under either Section 42 or my noble friend’s amendment.

I should also say to my noble friend Lady Heyhoe Flint that Section 42, as a gambling provision, can apply only where there is evidence of cheating at gambling, as has already been discussed. As the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, said, that is why we have long established and recognised that other criminal offences may need to be used, given that match fixing can be realised in various forms.

The noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, also referred to Section 42 in the context of negotiations on the Council of Europe’s draft convention. The Government recently reviewed Section 42 in that context. All the legal teams and others came to the conclusion that Section 42 as currently drafted, together with other fraud and corruption offences already on the statute book, gives prosecutors the tools required to deal with the circumstances that might constitute match fixing.

As the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, said, there have been some criticisms of the 2005 Act and, perhaps, some of its consequences. At the time, Section 42 was deliberately crafted to be a broad offence in which “cheating” was intended to have its normal, everyday meaning. The provision expressly extends to actions that involve actual or attempted deception or interference with the processes involved in the conduct of gambling or any other race, game, event or process to which gambling relates. That was done precisely to ensure that it could be used in a wide range of circumstances. That is why we are concerned about changing it. I emphasise that point.

Section 42 also clearly spells out that the offence is committed not just by the person who cheats but also by a person who does something for the purpose of assisting or enabling another person to cheat. That means that Section 42 already covers all the ground that my noble friend’s amendment seeks to add. Section 42 already applies to both remote and non-remote types of betting, whereas this amendment applies only to remote betting. We therefore believe the amendment could create confusion and that it is better to retain the existing provision for that reason.

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My noble friend’s amendment would also raise the custodial tariff for Section 42 offences from two to 10 years. It has been argued that an increase in custodial sentencing will both act as a deterrent to those who may be involved in criminal match fixing, and influence law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute more cases.

I will explain to your Lordships why we believe that there is no need for a change in the tariff. The Government consider that the penalties in Section 42 remain proportionate and appropriate, and are consistent with other offences in the Gambling Act. There is nothing to suggest that the threat of a two-year jail sentence is not a sufficient deterrent or that law enforcement agencies do not take match fixing sufficiently seriously.

The UK has a number of legislative tools at its disposal to combat corruption of sports competitions. The toolkit naturally includes Section 42 of the Gambling Act 2005, where there is a link with betting. We can also use other fraud and corruption offences where that link with betting cannot be established. It does not mean that Section 42 is inadequate simply because it cannot be applied in every situation. When a sportsperson is found to be engaged in match fixing not linked to betting, the penalties under the bribery and fraud Acts are severe, as your Lordships have already said.

The fight against match fixing is not just about legislation. The UK’s approach to combating match fixing, based on effective collaboration between the Government, the regulator, betting operators, sports governing bodies and the law, is working and, indeed, is highly regarded internationally.

I emphasise that the Government take the fight against match fixing extremely seriously. I do not know whether the match-fixing summit was the first, but it is an indication that the Secretary of State and Ministers take this matter very seriously and want to work with the sports governing bodies.

My noble friend Lady Heyhoe Flint asked whether the Government would be prepared to undertake a formal review of Section 42, in line with what the Parry review suggested. As I said, in the cross-government review of Section 42 in the context of the European convention on match fixing, we concluded, and the legal advice was, that Section 42 was robust as written. However, of course we are willing to consider carrying out a review if and when sports bodies provide robust evidence demonstrating that there actually is a problem with Section 42. That is the position that we have come to.

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I will be asking my noble friend to withdraw her amendment—not because we think that match fixing is not a priority; we do. The lawyers have looked at the provisions of Section 42 and we are of the view that, until we have proper and robust evidence that elements of Section 42 are not working properly, we think it is premature and unwise to move. I have not gone back to read Hansard, but I have been informed that Section 42 was drafted to capture as much of the conceivable parameters as possible. That is why it was couched in the way it was.

I have looked into this matter very strongly because I know that it is of extreme concern to the sporting world and beyond, to those who enjoy sport. I have looked into it. I have sought to outline the reasons why we think that Section 42 is robust but, as I said, we are willing and look forward to hearing from sports bodies if they can come forward with robust evidence, which we will then consider very thoroughly. In the mean time, I ask my noble friend to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Heyhoe Flint: My Lords, we are moving into extra time. I thank the Minister for his responses and, in most cases, his assurances. I know that there has been a great amount of background work and energy put into what he referred to as a small or niche Bill. I thank the Bill team sincerely for the courtesy of the meetings which we have had and I apologise for not being fully attentive in the earlier debate on Amendment 4, when I think that I must have been dreaming in the outfield.

Perhaps I might reiterate that sport has had and has concerns and, to a certain extent, I am very aware of the fact that the Government are seeking to deal with them. In the eyes of sport and in the protection of its integrity, even though my noble friend the Minister referred to the Bill in the early days as a small Bill, I think that sport considers it to be a big Bill because this is a growing threat to the integrity of sport. I accept the assurances from the Minister in true sporting spirit. I came off the substitutes’ bench to support my noble friend Lord Moynihan, who bowled me a googly when he told me that he had to be abroad at this stage and was unable to contribute. I have a feeling that he may continue to pursue his concerns on his return but, in the hope that he will not then put me into the sin bin, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment 8 withdrawn.

House adjourned at 9.57 pm.