Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Commission for Equality and Human Rights

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The Government will set out their proposals for the statutory powers and duties of Commission for Equality and Human Rights, including its investigative and enforcement powers, in a White Paper to be published in the spring. The Government will take account of the advice of the task force of representatives of the key interests concerned that they are establishing to provide advice on key issues for the CEHR, as mentioned in the written statement to the House on 30 October Official Report, col. WA 54–7, by my noble friend the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs.

London Stock Exchange: OFT Investigation on Increase in Issuer Fees

Lord Taylor of Warwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) will announce the outcome of its investigation into the London Stock Exchange's increase in issuer fees when it has been completed. The timing is a matter for the OFT.


The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The Government hold neither current nor projected comparative data about growth in the number of Internet-enabled house subscribers offering speeds of 512 kbps and above either in the United Kingdom or in other European Union and G7 countries.

Data in the following table indicate the total number of subscribers for mass-market broadband services (which includes services at lower speeds) at September 2003 and the growth rate in the previous 12 months for a number of countries including the G7 and selected EU countries.

19 Nov 2003 : Column WA313

Total broadband lines12 month growth rate

Total mass market broadband lines September 2003

[Source: Analysys]

Market Sensitive Statistical Information

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Following the premature publication of the September retail sales figures:

    (a) whether they will name the individuals within the Treasury, with their job titles, who had pre-release access to those figures, indicating in each case whether this access was for briefing purposes, for management information or for quality assurance purposes; and (b) whether they have now reduced the number of individuals who have pre-release access to the monthly retail sales figures, and, if so, to what number; and [HL5391]

    Why releases of market sensitive statistical information require early access by Treasury officials and Ministers, either (a) up to 40.5 hours in advance or (b) at all; and [HL5392]

    What are the monthly releases of statistical information which they consider to be market sensitive, showing the numbers of individuals within the Treasury who received early access to each release in the month of September 2003.[HL5393]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord McIntosh of Haringey): In line with long-standing practice under this and previous administrations, Ministers with policy responsibility for the relevant subject matter, and a small number of their officials, are granted limited early access to statistical releases to enable them to respond completely when questions arise at the time of the release of the data. The list of Treasury Ministers and officials who have authorised pre-release access to National Statistics First Releases is available on the Office for National Statistics (ONS) website.

In addition the Macroeconomic Statistics Service Level Agreement, drawn up between ONS and HM Treasury in 1998, lists a further small number of individuals at HM Treasury who receive copies of HM Treasury's internal briefing on these statistical releases before the publication of the data. Since 1998, this list has been updated to reflect changes to personnel and staff structures with the overall number of individuals reduced from eight to seven.

19 Nov 2003 : Column WA314

As noted in the Treasury's statement of 5 November, the Treasury views this incident extremely seriously and is rigorously examining all its procedures to ensure that any repetition is avoided.

Licensing Decisions: Representations by Interested Parties

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What opportunities are provided in the Licensing Act 2003 for individual residents to make representations about licensing decisions. [HL5568]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Licensing Act 2003 provides that interested parties, which include persons living or involved in a business in the vicinity of a premises or bodies representing them, may make representations about applications for provisional statements and about the grant or variation of premises licences or club premises certificates, except where a simple conversion of an existing licence or certificate is made under the grandfather rights provisions in Schedule 8 of the Act. Interested parties may also apply for the review of a licence or certificate at any time as well as make representations about a review once it has been applied for. Representations must be about the effects of the application on the promotion of the licensing objectives.


Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have plans to bring forward further draft proposals for a modernisation of the law on gambling.[HL5577]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: We have today published the major sections of the draft Gambling Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny.

The Bill will make major changes to the way in which gambling is regulated and controlled in Great Britain. It will build on the work undertaken by Sir Alan Budd and the Gambling Review Body that he led.

It is based on the three key principles. First, the principle that the system of gambling law and regulation must keep the gambling industry free of crime. Our industry has a high international reputation for integrity, which must not be put at risk. Secondly, the law must ensure that gambling is conducted fairly, so that players know what to expect. Thirdly, there must be effective protection for children and the vulnerable.

The current laws on gambling dating back to the 1960s have failed to keep pace with rapid technological change. Attitudes to gambling have changed too. The law needs to be modernised but we must make sure that it is flexible enough to cope with further change.

However, modernisation does not mean a gambling free for all and reform must not be allowed to generate

19 Nov 2003 : Column WA315

an upsurge in problem gambling. The provisions published today combine a managed relaxation of outdated restrictions with the strongest protections for children and the vulnerable. Following reform, there will be greater choice for adults but there will remain important limitations on what types of gambling are available and where they can be located.

In A Safe Bet for Success (published in March 2002, Cmnd 5397) we accepted the vast majority of the Gambling Review's recommendations. Since then, we have been working closely with the interested industries, representatives of groups encouraging responsible gambling, local authorities, consumer groups, other government departments and the devolved administrations to prepare draft legislation that would give effect to this new system of regulation.

The proposals published today build on and subsume the draft clauses published in July 2003. They will simplify regulation by establishing a single regulator for commercial gambling. The Gambling Commission will have wider functions, greater flexibility to act and stronger enforcement powers than the Gaming Board that it will replace. Local authorities will license all types of gambling premises, to ensure that local people have a say in where gambling outlets are sited.

The draft Bill will keep crime out of gambling and protect the industry's reputation for integrity and excellence. The Gambling Commission will be a strong, effective regulator and will root out illegal gambling; its staff will have statutory powers of entry, search and seizure.

The draft Bill also removes unnecessary restrictions on the ability of business to meet consumers' wishes. The rule allowing casinos to be established only in designated parts of the country will be abolished, as will the rule requiring membership of a casino or bingo club at least 24 hours before playing. Remote gambling, for example on the Internet, interactive TV and through mobile telephones, will be licensed and regulated effectively in Great Britain for the first time.

The published clauses also strengthen safeguards protecting children and the vulnerable. The current minimum age limits for access to gambling products will be retained and enforced strongly. The draft Bill also includes reserve powers for a statutory levy on gambling operators. These powers will be used if the gambling industry does not keep its promises to contribute to a charitable trust funding research, prevention and treatment programmes for problem gambling.

A Joint Committee of both Houses has been convened to examine the Government's draft proposals. We are confident that what they will scrutinise is a set of mature proposals that will achieve a sensible reform of the law on gambling. Such scrutiny will improve the legislation and build parliamentary understanding and public confidence, enabling us to strike the right balance between deregulation and the protection of young and vulnerable people.

19 Nov 2003 : Column WA316

We intend to publish the remaining sections of the draft Bill early next year.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page