Examination of Witnesses (Questions 360-373)
RT HON RICHARD CABORN MP, MR ELLIOT GRANT AND MR DAVE BAWDEN
TUESDAY 2 JULY 2002
360. I am absolutely delighted, Chairman, that the licensing and policing of it, and the full costs of it, will be available via the licence feewhich I suggest will be an absolutely substantial increase which will stop a lot of things happening, which will allow the proper policing to go on.
(Mr Caborn) I would suggest that it is not just the policing of this and why the local authorities have been brought into playit is because if you license premises, if you take a fish and chip shop for example, they have responsibilities for many other issues around fish and chip shops, health, hygiene and safety as well, and if they have got a gaming machine they would inspect that as well. There could well be a one-stop-shop approach by the local authorities to inspection and policing in many areas. It may not be as one would probably expect from your description.
361. I doubt it somehow actually. I suspect with these sorts of things there is a rather different expertise between hygiene regulations and what we need to know with gambling things. I think they will be hugely different. I think you will find you will need specialist inspectors that really know what they are about.
(Mr Caborn) We will probably be looking at multi-skilled.
362. I do not think food hygiene, which may be one, will come anywhere close to machines.
(Mr Caborn) We will see. I can assure you that we have taken a view and we are determined to carry that out. We will give powers to the Commission to do that. That Commission will be responsible to Parliament as well and will be scrutinised, like we are scrutinised.
363. Minister, as I pointed out earlier, the Budd Report, as you will be aware, said the societies' lotteries should have the £1million limit taken off of them. I should like to know if you have lobbied the DCMS so that your report said that that limit should go to £2 million?
(Mr Bawden) With all the organisations that responded to consultation obviously copies are in the House Libraries. Camelot obviously responded, and I think published their own response, as too did the National Lottery Commission, as did a wide range of charitable and voluntary organisations and the distribution bodies responsible for distributing National Lottery revenue to good causes. I think it is fair to say there were probably a number of other private correspondents who raised similar concerns about the potential impact of the Budd recommendation on the Lottery.
364. How did you pick on the figure of £2 million, when Sir Alan Budd has said unlimited?
(Mr Caborn) That is what the societies' lotteries wanted us to bring in, and we thought that was reasonable. We looked at the impact that would have on the National Lottery and thought that was a fair balance.
365. The representatives of societies said a doubling to £2 million would be
(Mr Caborn) And the rollover, and we said, "Okay". Basically we have given the societies' lotteries pretty well everything that they asked for.
(Mr Bawden) I do not think we would now get the Lotteries Council on behalf of the societies' lotteries saying they would not want more. What we took was their own evidence to Sir Alan Budd's review in terms of what deregulation they were seeking, and they sought a doubling of the limits, which we have subsequently doubled.
366. We have heard a lot about the lack of in-depth knowledge about problem gambling, how it evolves, what it means etc etc. Is there going to be funding to ensure that that happens in the long-run? It seems to me that everyone has a rough idea that just under 1 per cent of gamblers are problem gamblers; but everyone seems to say, "Well, we've got this idea", but we do not really know what it means.
(Mr Caborn) I think you are absolutely right, it is an area where there needs to be more work done on that and that indeed will reflect that. If you look at the international comparisons where ours is 0.6-0.8 per cent, in Australia it is 2.3 per cent, in the US it is 1.1 per cent, and Spain is 1.4 per cent. There the margins you are looking at seem to be reasonably consistent. I think you are absolutely right, it is something that we will be discussing with the Trusthow we could use the monies. I am very keen also to involve the Department of Health in this. I think there are implications for the Health Service which we need to take on board. Therefore, we plan to some extent to give the type of resources that we need to take and use to address this particular problem. I think this is an area that has been under-resourced in terms of research.
367. Are you disappointed by the response of the National Lottery to the Trust?
(Mr Caborn) In a word, yes.
368. Finally, we heard earlier about exporting the problems, and what-have-you. Say somebody from Manchester goes to Blackpool, and when he goes home as a problem gambler (in one short weekend!) it is Manchester's problem whereas Blackpool has benefited. Have you thought about how you would equalise that distribution?
(Mr Caborn) No.
369. Do you think the Government ought to?
(Mr Caborn) I do not know. I thought I had every possible question posed during the consultation but obviously that one has not been posed!
370. They have many problems in Manchester!
(Mr Caborn) Taxation is a way of providing the Service nationally and we would deal with it nationally.
371. The reason for mentioning it, you also did mention the Department of Health. Evidently there is going to be, one presumes, a lot of gambling in Blackpool, but a lot of people come from elsewhere.
(Mr Caborn) Yes.
372. It will be a greater problem. Problem gamblers are probably going to be thicker on the ground within a day's journey of Blackpool than they would be, say, in the Outer Hebrides, per person. Therefore, would you liaise with the Department of Health to make sure that resources go around where there are casinos?
(Mr Caborn) I do not think I was engaged with the Department of Health in that particular regard. What I was trying to do was get their expertise out of them to make sure they influenced what was happening in the Trust. In terms of the operation of the Health Service, then it is a universal Service. The problem with alcoholism is probably more important in Blackpool than problem gamblers.
373. That was a point I made earlier today.
(Mr Caborn) It is a universal Service and I think taxation probably deals with that effectively.
Chairman: A constituent of mine went on holiday from Manchester to Blackpool. During his time in Blackpool he booked a mystery coach tour. The mystery coach tour took him to Belview in the street next to where he lived in Manchester, so he had a cup of tea with his mother and went back to Blackpool! Minister, thank you very much indeed for your answers, particularly the monosyllabic ones!