EXTRACTS FROM HOUSE OF LORDS HANSARD 23 JULY 1999
MOTION FOR APPROVAL OF THE DRAFT DEREGULATION (CASINOS)
Baroness Anelay of St. Johns:
... I want to make one further remark with regard
to what the committee refers to as the "salami slicing approach"
to the deregulation of proposals affecting casinos. The statement
by the Home Office which accompanies this order refers somewhat
opaquely to paragraphs 17 to 22, and to paragraph 7 as follows:
"The Home Office has noted the Committee's
comments on the future use of the deregulation power to amend
the gaming laws and the need for a review of the legislation".
In fact, the committee raises some serious questions
about how and when future reform should take place. At paragraph
19 of the report, the committee asks whether this will be the
last in a series of deregulation proposals affecting casinos and
observes that there is every indication from the Government that
it will not be the last. The committee points out that the response
of London Clubs International, which was submitted to the latest
consultation paper, urged the Government,
"to move quickly to allowing the introduction
of at least 20 machines and a proper casino slot machine regime".
Can the Minister say whether this change could be
made in the future under existing law?
The committee concludes its consideration of the
problems of salami slicing by pointing out that one consequence
of such an approach is,
"that it becomes unclear as to when the
principles governing the legislation are being fundamentally undermined".
The committee continues to say that it does not believe that that
point has yet been reached, but concludes that the piecemeal relaxation
of the gaming laws by way of deregulation is clearly unsatisfactory
and that it is its strong view that the legislation is now due
In the past, I have sat as a magistrate on a local
betting and gaming committee. Like other noble Lords, I am perfectly
well aware that reforming such a body of legislation is no easy
matter; indeed, it would be a very complex task. However, if the
Government are not able to undertake such a review in the short
term, can the Minister say whether they have any plans in the
medium term to carry out such work? In the meantime, I support
the making of the order.
Lord Elton: My Lords,
my eyes were drawn to this order because I was a member of the
Select Committee on delegated powers when the first of these orders
came in and the first slice of the salami was taken off the sausage.
It seems to me to be a rather regrettable way of treating statute
law to lower it gently, gently, gently until the toes touch the
water, as it were. I do not think that this is how we should proceed.
When responding to my noble friend on the Front Bench, it would
be very helpful if the Minister could give an undertaking that
the Government will review this piece of legislation and either
bring it up to date or keep it in its present state. It should
not come to us for a fourth time by way of another slice; indeed,
at some time, someone holding the sausage will get his fingers
Lord Burlison: My Lords,
I can understand the concern about the salami approach to the
issue. I am sure that this is not the first occasion that the
issue has been raised in relation to gambling as a whole. The
Government do not accept that the changes here would encourage
excessive gambling. These are comparatively modest changes, which
remove some of the irksome restrictions that are no longer necessary
in this day and age. They have been the subject of very public
consultation and have been very carefully considered by the deregulation
committees. It should be borne in mind that casinos are very strictly
regulated in this country. The noble Baroness mentioned the age
limit of 18 and that is something that I should certainly wish
to be maintained.
The House of Lords committee commented in its report
that it was concerned that amendments to the gambling legislation
were being made on a piecemeal basis by deregulation order and
that the gambling law should be reviewed. Although this is the
first under this administration, in the past there have been seven
others. The committee was, however, content with this order. Proposals
would be laid only if they had been fully consulted on and were
consistent with the general principles of gambling regulation.
There are a number of concerns in this area; namely, keeping gambling
crime free; ensuring that gaming is honest and fairly conducted;
that players know what to expect and that the vulnerable are protected.
Changes could not be made under the existing law
to the extent that the industry would like, but we are considering
this issue. A review would be a large task involving three major
Acts of Parliament on betting, gaming and lotteries. The legislation
still achieves its primary objective of keeping gambling crime
free. As regards further use of the power, we do not want to rule
out judicious use of appropriate changes which are in the public