Lords Amendment: In page 23, line 28, at end insert:
(including the said paragraph 25 as applied by sub-paragraph (2) of paragraph 25D of that Schedule)
§ Mr. Vosper
I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.
This Amendment together with the Amendments in page 25, page 26 and page 30 and the Amendments in page 34—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Sir William Anstruther-Gray)
Order. The Amendments in page 34 include the Amendment to line 31 to which the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) has an Amendment down, and that had better be taken by itself.
§ Mr. Vosper
Perhaps I might initiate a general explanation, because the earlier Amendments are paving Amendments for the second Amendment on page 34. Here there are two points at issue—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Order. I am anxious to avoid any confusion, regarding the second Amendment in page 34, to which there is an Amendment in the name of the right hon. Member for South Shields. So let it be clear that we are not discussing that Amendment.
§ Mr. Vosper
My difficulty is to explain the Amendments prior to those on page 34, because they would make complete nonsense unless I include an explanation of the Amendments in page 34. I think that I can meet the point which you have in mind, Mr. Deputy-Speaker.
Here there are two points at issue which were not raised in the debates in this House, although one was brought to my notice at a late stage before the Bill went to another place. It was represented to me that, whereas it was not possible for a bookmaker to obtain a licence and to transfer the licence to another bookmaker, there was no possibility of one bookmaker getting a licence as a fit and proper person and then transferring it to another person who was not fit and proper. But if the bookmaker was a company and a new director who was not a fit and proper person joined the company he would not be covered by the Bill. The purpose of the Amendment to which these earlier Amendments are paving Amendments is to take care of that possibility.
The second and more substantial point is that it was represented to me, and it was pressed in another place, that it was wrong that a bookmaker who defaulted during his year, and who was warned off the course by Tattersall's or some other body, should be able to enjoy the benefit of a permit for the rest of the year, and that some power should be available to deprive him of his permit before the new period came up.
The purpose of these paving Amendments and the long and complicated Amendment to which the right hon. Member for South Shields has an Amendment, is to deal with the issue that power is now available for a bookmaker who commits some offence or defaults and is warned off the course to come before the justices, or at least for a complaint to be made to that effect It provides power for complaint to be made to the clerk of the court who then submits the case to a licensing justice, who decides whether or not the case is 1771 sufficiently severe to be brought before the full court at that period or can stand over until the annual period as proposed originally in the Bill.
I do not expect that many such cases will come up during the year. It was argued from many points of view in another place that at least that power ought to be available and that the protection of a bookmaker's permit should not allow a bookmaker who had been found guilty of some serious default to continue in practice, or at least to prevent his case being heard before the licensing justices. I bad some doubt about accepting those proposals, but there was considerable pressure to do so and I understand that bookmakers themselves would welcome some provision on these lines. It is protection for the public.
We hope that we have devised some machinery which will not impose too great a burden on the licensing justices. That is the purpose of the Amendment, which I hope will commend itself to this House as it did to another place.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Subsequent Lords Amendments agreed to.
§ Lords Amendment: In page 32, line 49, leave out "to the authority".
|"Notification of change in directors during currency of bookmaker's permit|
|5||25A. If, where the holder of a bookmaker's permit is a body corporate, any change occurs in the persons who are directors thereof or in accordance with whose directions or instructions the directors thereof are accustomed to act, the holder of the permit shall as soon as reasonably practicable after the occurrence of the change give particulars thereof in writing to the clerk to the appropriate authority and to the appropriate officer of police; and if the holder of the permit fails to comply with this paragraph he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding ten pounds.|
|Cancellation of bookmaker's permit by appropriate authority|
|15||25B. If in the case of any bookmaker's permit an application is made at any time to the clerk to the appropriate authority by any person in the prescribed form and manner requesting that the permit be forfeited and cancelled and accompanied by two copies of a statement of the grounds on which the application is made, the clerk to the authority shall submit the application to any one member of the authority who, after considering the statement accompanying the application—|
|(a) if he is of opinion—|
|25||(i) that further consideration of the matters referred to in that statement is unnecessary or inexpedient before the renewal of the permit falls to be considered; or|
|30||(ii) that the authority would be required by virtue of sub-paragraph (3) of paragraph 25C of this Schedule to refuse the application,|
§ Mr. Vosper
I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.
A separate point is raised by this Amendment and the Amendment which follows with all the Amendments to page 33. Perhaps they can be discussed together.
This is a somewhat technical point relating to appeals. As the Bill was drafted, it was laid dawn that the licensing authority should be respondent to an appeal both in regard to an appeal against refusal to grant a bookmaker's permit and refusal to grant a betting office licence. It has been urged that in the case of the bookmaker's permit it is not reasonable that the licensing authority should be respondent in that facts only are relevant to the appeal, whereas in the case of the betting office licence the question of licensing policy comes into effect as it does under the licensing Acts. This Amendment makes the licensing authority no longer respondent to an appeal in respect of a bookmaker's permit.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Subsequent Lords Amendment agreed to.
§ Lords Amendment: In page 34, line 31, at end insert:1773
|shall cause notice in writing to be given to the applicant that the application is refused without prejudice to the raising of the same matters by way of objection in accordance with the provisions of this Schedule to a renewal of the permit;||35|
|(b) unless he is of such opinion as aforesaid, shall refer the application to the appropriate authority.|
|25C.—(1) Where an application for the cancellation of a permit is referred to the appropriate authority under the last foregoing paragraph, the clerk to the authority shall, unless the application has been withdrawn, give to the applicant, to the holder of the permit and to the appropriate officer of police not less than twenty-one days notice in writing of the date, time and place appointed for the consideration of the application by the authority, and shall send to the holder of the permit together with that notice a copy of the applicant's statement of the grounds on which the application is made.||40|
|(2) Subject to the next following sub-paragraph, at any meeting of the appropriate authority to consider the application, the applicant and the holder of the permit shall be entitled to be heard either in person or by counsel or a solicitor; and where the applicant is a person other than the appropriate officer of police the authority shall also hear any representations made by, or by any person authorised in that behalf by, that officer; and paragraphs 14 and 15 of this Schedule shall apply in relation to the application as they apply in relation to an application for the renewal of a permit, subject to the following modifications of the said paragraph 15. that is to say—||50|
|(a) as if the reference therein to the applicant for renewal were a reference to the holder of the permit; and||60|
|(b) as if the reference therein to any person who made an objection as mentioned in that paragraph were a reference to the person by whom the application under paragraph 25B of this Schedule was made.|
|(3) The appropriate authority shall refuse the application if they are satisfied that it is made on grounds which—||65|
|(a) have been or ought properly to have been raised previously by way of objection either when the permit was granted or on an occasion when it has been renewed; or||70|
|(b) are or have been the subject matter of proceedings for such an offence as is mentioned in subsection (1) of section eight of this Act.|
|(4) The appropriate authority shall not cancel the permit unless—|
|(a) satisfactory evidence is produced that the holder is no longer a fit and proper person to hold such a permit; or||75|
|(b) the authority are satisfied that the business to which it relates is being managed by, or carried on for the benefit of, a person other than the holder, being a person who would himself be refused the grant of such a permit either under paragraph 16 or under subparagraph (a) of paragraph 17 of this Schedule:||80|
|Provided that for the purposes of this sub-paragraph the authority shall disregard any conviction such as is mentioned in paragraph 19 of this Schedule.||85|
|(5) If the appropriate authority decide not to cancel the permit, they shall cause notice in writing to be given to the applicant that the application is refused without prejudice to the raising of the same matters by way of objection in accordance with the provisions of this Schedule to a renewal of the permit.||90|
|(6) If the appropriate authority decide to forfeit and cancel the permit, the forfeiture and cancellation shall not take effect—|
|(a) until the expiration of the time within which notice of an appeal under the next following paragraph may be given; nor||95|
|(b) if such notice is duly given, until the determination or abandonment of the appeal.|
|100||25D.—(1) Where the appropriate authority decide to forfeit and cancel a bookmaker's permit on an application under paragraph 25B of this Schedule, the holder of the permit may appeal against that decision to a court of quarter sessions (or in Scotland the sheriff) having jurisdiction in the authority's area, whose decision on the appeal shall be final.|
|105||(2) Paragraphs 22 (except sub-paragraphs (4) and (7) thereof), and 23 (or, as the case may be, sub-paragraph (1) of paragraph 25) of this Schedule shall apply for the purposes of an appeal under this paragraph against the forfeiture and cancellation of a bookmaker's permit as they apply for the purposes of an appeal against the refusal of an application for the renewal of such a permit subject to the following modifications, that is to say,—|
|(a) as if any reference therein to the applicant for renewal were a reference to the holder of the permit; and|
|115||(b) as if any reference therein to a person who opposed the application before the appropriate authority were a reference to the person by whom the application under paragraph 25B of this Schedule was made,|
|120||and, in the case of an appeal to the sheriff under this paragraph, the sheriff may make such order as to the expenses of the appeal as he thinks proper."|
§ Motion made and Question proposed, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Ede
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the Lords Amendment, in line 21, to leave out from "to" to "after" and to insert:a member of the authority appointed by the authority for the purpose at the January meeting in each year for the period until the next January meeting. Such member".The right hon. Gentleman has done me the courtesy of telling me in writing that he intends to advise the House to reject this Amendment. Realising the balance of power in the House at present, I have no doubt that he will have his way, but that is no reason why one should not go down fighting. I regard this matter as of very considerable importance. The effect of the Amendment would be that, instead of the clerk of the licensing authority selecting the member who is to decide whether or not the case shall proceed or be adjourned until the annual meeting, the justices themselves will do it.
I had a conversation with the right hon. Gentleman's colleague, the other Joint Under-Secretary of State, and he conveyed my views to the right hon. Gentleman. Among the inquiries I made was whether there was a precedent for what the Government are doing. It is a wonderful example of the need for the most meticulous examination of Bills that there is a precedent for this to be found in the Maintenance Orders Act, 1958. One of the problems which con- 1776 front the House is how, with the detail and volume of legislation, we are to ensure that what we understood were accepted principles are always applied in the administrative parts of Acts of Parliament of this kind.
As a justice, I object to the clerk selecting who among the justices shall do a certain thing. The clerk is the servant of the justices. The best thing that Lord Goddard did when Lord Chief Justice was to make quite certain that the justices were responsible people and that the clerk was not to accompany them when they retired to consider their decision unless they wanted his advice on a point of law. Of course, once they have him in their room, what happens there only the justices can tell us.
However, I have worked with clerks who, when a justice has put a question, have said, "Sir, that is not a matter of law. That is a matter of fact and you are the masters of that. I have no right to express an opinion to you about it". I have even known a justice ask the clerk what the proper sentence should be. He was given the same answer, namely, that it was nothing to do with the clerk as long as the maximum sentence allowed by the law was not exceeded.
It is important that that principle should be maintained and should never be deviated from in these administrative arrangements. There are plenty of people who believe that the clerk runs the court. There are plenty of evil-minded people who say, "He chose old Bill Smith to be the justice to try the 1777 case because he knows that Bill Smith will always do as he wants him to do and will raise no objections."
My hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) has been imploring me for the last week not to move the Amendment. He said to me, "If you do it, you will wreck the Bill. They will not be able to get the necessary Amendment through the other place in time for the Bill to become law". I should shed no tears over that, although my hon. Friend would.
We are faced with this difficulty. It would be quite wrong for one Member to wreck the Bill, even assuming that the Government have no way of getting a quorum into the other place tomorrow morning to deal with any Amendment that we pass tonight. After all, they require only three for a quorum there. The quorum could be made up from the three Lords Commissioners who will have to announce the Royal Assent later in the afternoon. However, it would be quite wrong of any one Member to wreck the Bill on an administrative point like this, and I do not intend to do it.
I impress on the right hon. Gentleman that it is important that the position between justice and clerk should always be most carefully observed in this sort of matter. The right hon. Gentleman has assured me that he could find other objections. First, this is a layman's drafting, and the profession must be protected. Secondly, if we provided that it should be a justice, on the day he was wanted he might be suffering from an infectious disease and nobody could get to him. He might even be away from home on holiday.
One of the things we on this side complain about is that in drafting a fairly complicated Amendment we have no drafting assistance, although some of our hon. and learned Friends render us very great assistance in this respect, particularly my hon. and learned Friends the Members for Newport (Sir F. Soskice) and Kettering (Mr. Mitchison).
I admit that what I am proposing must break any draftsman's heart, because it is quite clear on the face of the Amendment exactly what I mean to do. If I had had the services of the draftsmen available to the right hon. Gentleman, I have no doubt that I could have tabled an Amendment which would deal with 1778 the case when the justice selected was for some reason not available and there might be an alternative person to whom people could go. Even if I had done that, I should have received exactly the same advice from my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley, who has just returned to see that I remain of good behaviour. He would still have said to me, "If you do that and you carry it", which is a thing I never expected to do, "you will wreck the Bill and we shall not get it this year".
I move the Amendment, in the circumstances, as a protest against expecting the clerk to select the justice who is to fulfil this particularly responsible job of advising on how the complaint is to be dealt with. I think that it should be the choice of the justices, and when the law is consolidated I hope that this will be one of the minor Amendments and that proper provision will be made to secure that the appointment shall be by the justices. I should not have thought that it would have been too revolutionary to suggest that the application should go to the chairman of the authority instead of the clerk selecting a member.
I do not intend to delay the House any longer, but I make my protest against taking a function which belongs to the justices collectively and giving it to the clerk.
§ Mr. Vosper
I appreciate the way in which the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) has moved his Amendment to the Lords Amendment. There is, as he said, a perfectly respectable precedent for this in the Maintenance Orders Act, 1958.
I would not rest my defence of the Lords Amendment simply on that, however. That would be most inadvisable. Nor would I rest my defence simply on the argument that if I were to accept the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment it would wreck the Bill. I must disclaim any responsibility for the activities of the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg), much as I appreciate his good intentions.
There is a difficulty here. I see the force of the right hon. Gentleman's argument, and I must accept from him, in the light of his experience, that the clerk to the justices could select a justice to 1779 his own way of thinking and not necessarily the man best suited to give a decision, but I should have thought that that would happen only in the minority of cases.
I think that the right hon. Gentleman realises that if I were to adopt his procedure that the justices should name for the whole of the year one justice there would be the risk that the procedure would fall down because that justice might not be available. That is particularly so in the opening year of this procedure, when there may be quite a number of rather irresponsible applications. I even envisage that there may have to be more than one justice named, and possibly a panel in some of the large petty sessional divisional areas. I think that if the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment were accepted it would probably be open to more dangers than would result from the Lords Amendment in its present form.
I hope that it will work out all right in the way that the justices themselves will select for a period, a month or three months, one, or two, of themselves, and it might be left that the chairman might do it for an initial period. I would have thought—I am open to correction, because I have not the right hon. Gentleman's experience—that, in fact, the justices would sort this matter out for themselves without being open to the dangers to which the right hon. Gentleman has quite correctly drawn attention. Even if I did not think that, I would still think, on balance, our method to be slightly better—it may be only slightly better—than the method that the right hon. Gentleman suggests. I think that it is true that it was probably inserted in this form on the precedent of the 1958 Act. I have no evidence that that has not worked extremely well.
I ask the right hon. Gentleman not to press for his Amendment. I do not know whether there is any way in which one can bring this to the attention of the justices and suggest that they should on a voluntary basis arrange something on these lines, but I think that in the majority of cases they will meet the point that he has raised.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Wigg
I must apologise to my right hon. Friend the Member for South 1780 Shields (Mr. Ede) that I had to leave the Chamber during the latter part of his speech, and therefore unfortunately did not hear the allusion to myself and to our conversation on his Amendment. If my right hon. Friend did press his Amendment, and it was carried against the Government's wishes, the result would be that we would not get the Bill, which I would regard as regrettable.
One could make too much of this Amendment, although it is important, because one of the influences that have been at work is a desire among the bookmakers themselves to weed out undesirable characters, and make it more difficult for them to operate. I think that the House should know of that gesture, as it is an encouraging sign that the bookmakers intend to do their best to make the Measure work, and that is of importance if the Bill is to have any chance at all.
For that reason, I hope that my right hon. Friend will not press his Amendment. I understand, of course, his reason for putting it down, but, if he will pardon my saying so, I do not think that it is as important as is the Amendment enshrining the definite decision of the bookmaking profession to put its house in order and do its best to make the Measure operate in the public good.
§ Mr. E. Johnson
I very much welcome the Lords Amendment. It was very badly needed, and will greatly improve the Bill. There are those who believe that the possession of a bookmaker's permit means that the bookmaker is a man of honesty and financial stability but, as the Bill stood, if, during the course of the year, he proved himself otherwise he would have been able to go on. This Lords Amendment will safeguard that position, and the Bill is very much the better for it.
§ Mr. Ede
I do not wish to prevent any other hon. Member from speaking on the Lords Amendment by maintaining my Amendment before the House, Having listened to what the right hon. Gentleman has said, I would point out to him that the Lords Amendment says… the clerk to the authority shall submit the application to any one member of the authority …The type of clerk I most dread is the one who, if a justice said to him, "Will 1781 you use my esteemed colleague, Thomas Robinson, for this purpose?" would reply, "If you will read the Act you will see that you have nothing to do with it. The Act puts the duty on me". I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment to the Lords Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Question, That this House doth agree wth the Lords in the said Amendment, put and agreed to.
§ Subsequent Lords Amendments agreed to.