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It is true that an air of almost academic naivety runs through the CAP report. Blackpool was excluded because the social impact would be “exported”. Yet destinations casinos had clearly been preferred by the Joint Committee and experts on problem gambling in terms of least social harm. Indeed, it appears that the panel did not consult the leading expert, Professor Collins of Salford University, on the social impact of gambling at all. It is hardly surprising that the Merits Committee concluded that the order,

It sounds like an understatement but it is strong language for this committee.

This is an important decision we are making today, and I recognise that the Motion I have laid before the House is a strong one. But we need to be particularly cautious in taking the decision about the location of the super-casino. There is rising concern about the growth of gambling and the issue of problem gambling. The number of casinos in total is growing rapidly. We were assured by the Minister, Mr Caborn, during the passage of the Bill, that there would be no more than 150 casinos in the UK in total. There are now some 90 new casinos in the pipeline under the 1968 Act alone. The figure of 150 will be comfortably exceeded, and 250 now looks more likely.

4.45 pm

Advertising of gambling facilities is now being permitted by the new regulations. Gambling on the internet has exploded, little of it regulated here in the UK. Despite promises, services to combat problem gambling have not yet been funded adequately. Above all, since the terms of reference for the CAP were originally mooted, just before the general election in 2005, the number of initial regional casinos has been reduced to one. It looks as though that one casino will not be a pilot but will be the only super-casino, certainly for the next 10 years. The fact is that despite the terms of reference for the one location, which are couched as a test or a pilot, this may not be a pilot at all. In fact, it is highly likely that this one super-casino

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will be the only super-casino, so the process by which we choose it is absolutely crucial. This is no laboratory test; nor can we leave problem gambling to the planning process. There is no room for error.

Finally, why remit the regulation to a Joint Committee, and why must the Joint Committee report by 1 June? When it came to scrutinising the draft Gambling Bill, by common consent the Joint Committee did a superb job. We have seen what is possible in just a short space of time from the Merits Committee. We need a new Joint Committee to advise us on whether the process for the selection of east Manchester was correct and, if necessary, to make recommendations for a new process. The order was due to come into effect—perhaps is due to come into effect—on 1 June. If the committee is asked to report by 1 June on whether the process by which the super-casino was chosen was properly conducted, no time will have been lost if it makes no recommendation for change.

If we could, we would be dealing today with two orders, one dealing with the recommendations on the locations of small and large casinos and one with the super-casino. The Secretary of State, faced with the prospect of today’s amendment passing and having received serious advice from constructive Back-Bench Labour Peers, set her face against that, hoping that it would drive us to support the order. My motives in tabling the amendment are not to provide a consolation prize for any town or city; explicitly, this is not “Blackpool or bust”, nor is it designed to do down Manchester. It arises out of concern about a process which, for a variety of reasons, has clearly gone very wrong. My amendment suggests a way forward. It is not reliant on vague assurances about the setting up and the remit of a committee, and it is a non-binding Motion. I very much hope that, in due course, noble Lords will support the amendment. I will deal with the other amendments in my winding-up speech. I beg to move.

Moved, as an amendment to the Motion, to leave out all the words after “that” and insert “this House, taking account of the 13th Report from the Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee, declines to approve the draft order; considers it desirable that Lords be appointed to join with a committee of the Commons as a Joint Committee to consider the process by which a decision was reached on which licensing authority should issue the regional casino premises licence and to report by 1 June 2007; and calls upon Her Majesty’s Government to take account of the recommendations of any such Joint Committee and to lay regulations including the licensing authorities as set out in the draft order whose responsibility it is to issue the eight large and eight small casino premises licences”. —(Lord Clement-Jones.)

Baroness Golding: My Lords, I agree with almost every word that the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, has said. However, if he had been with me and with many other noble Lords in the past few weeks trying to negotiate something and get something out of the order, he would not be so certain that his amendment would achieve anything.

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I have always been a strong supporter of Blackpool. I can see no good reason why Blackpool should not have been the destination casino. If I thought that supporting the amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, would achieve anything for Blackpool, I would more than consider supporting it. However, I do not believe that that is possible. Many of us have gone through negotiations that have seemed to produce something for Blackpool and have then not been accepted. We have gone back again and again, and things have altered right up until today at 1.30 pm, when we finally got an agreement that we could consider that would give some hope to Blackpool and to other areas that felt that they had been done down by the agreement.

I am not critical of the Government for wanting to bring the legislation on gambling up to date. Indeed, I would be critical if they had ignored the real problems of internet and telephone betting, as well as the growth in other forms of gambling. Many in this House are against all forms of gambling; I understand that, but the Government have to live in the real world, as do we. We have to strike a balance between gambling as a legitimate leisure pursuit while mitigating any potential negative consequences of people’s desire to gamble.

I recognise that the Government made some positive moves in the Gambling Act. In addition to the National Lottery Commission and the Financial Services Authority, the Government have established the Gambling Commission to regulate gambling. The financing by the industry of such charities as GamCare, which look after problem gamblers, is also very much welcome, and the increase in money that has lately been guaranteed by the gambling industry is more than welcome. The Government recognise—I agree—that sweeping under the carpet the desire of people to gamble is not in anyone’s interests. We have to face up to our responsibilities towards people as things are today, not as we wish they were and wishing they would not gamble.

Having said all that, I have great criticism of how the Government have arrived at their decision to accept the report of the panel and Professor Crow, and especially of its decision to propose Manchester rather than Blackpool as the one regional casino. I applaud the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, for stating so clearly why the panel got it wrong. It demonstrates clearly to me the danger of putting legislation in the hands of people who have little understanding of or responsibility in the outcome of their recommendations. I could go through Professor Crow’s report page by page and criticise paragraph by paragraph, but I will not do so, as I am sure that other noble Lords will have much to say on the subject, as did the noble Lord, Lord Filkin, in his Merits Committee’s outstanding report to this House.

I have asked for a Joint Committee to be set up to consider the report of Lord Crow before any decision is arrived at. I am sorry; I meant Professor Crow—he has not yet been made a Lord. The Minister has put forward an interpretation of that request and I am minded to accept it, but we have not quite got there yet. I will certainly recommend people to vote against

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the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, because I fear that if it is carried, it will do Blackpool down and give no satisfaction to anyone, other than the fact that an order that should never have been put forward in this way has been defeated.

The process was wrong. The Government must recognise that it is for Parliament to make decisions that affect people’s lives. The House should have considered the report before it was accepted, and I hope that the Government will learn that lesson. I intend to say no more as I have agreed with my noble friend Lord Lipsey, who has worked on this so effectively with me for many hours over the past weeks, that he will voice our concerns about the process. He was unable to add his name to my amendment because of the rules of the House, but without his help and that of many Members across the House there would have been no hope of getting where we are today.

The Government have compromised at the last hour, and I am prepared to accept that. However, when the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, encourages the House to vote for his amendment, he does no good to anybody, especially Blackpool.

Lord Mancroft: My Lords, I have tabled my amendment, which is the third on the list, alongside those of the noble Baroness, Lady Golding, and the noble Lord, Lord Walpole, to demonstrate that the concerns about this order are not party political and are shared by all those who have been involved with the Gambling Act since its inception, and in particular by those of us who were members of the pre-legislative scrutiny committee.

That committee sat for a long time, took an enormous amount of evidence and produced two reports, the bulk of whose recommendations were accepted by the Government and incorporated into the Bill. Much of the evidence conflicted, as evidence often does, or was not as clear as it might have been. But in one area, in relation to the siting of what are now called “regional casinos”, but are more accurately called “resort destination casinos”, the evidence was unequivocal in relation to the two key criteria—the likelihood of causing adverse social problems, such as excessive gambling and possible crime, and the potential for regeneration.

It is in relation to those criteria that there is real concern regarding the Casino Advisory Panel’s choice of Manchester, which has led to the furore that has surrounded this order. These issues, as the noble Baroness, Lady Golding, said, have been more than adequately dealt with in the excellent report of the Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee, so ably chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Filkin, so I shall not examine them now.

There is no advantage in repeating the conclusions in that report, but two points are crucial. The first relates to Professor Crow’s admission that the choice of Manchester was made on the basis that customers to the casino would largely come from the local residential population, and thus the social impact on it was far easier to measure; whereas if the casino was situated in a place such as Blackpool, Great Yarmouth or Bournemouth, where 90 per cent of customers would be tourists or people coming for the

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primary purpose of gambling, it would be far more difficult to measure the social impact. So the CAP’s decision was based on the requirements for academic research, rather than identifying the most appropriate place for a casino. That is an obvious and fundamental flaw.

In relation to regeneration, the decision creates a further problem. Regeneration is predicated not just on the ability to attract new capital investment to a project but on attracting new income in the future. But if the new casino is sited in an area where it is dependent mainly on customers resident in the locality, rather than on visitors, there will not be any new money; it will simply be a case of recycling existing money—which in the case of east Manchester is not very much, as the noble Lord, Lord Davies, pointed out. You do not have to be an expert on casinos or regeneration to realise that that is crazy stuff.

I must make it clear that for me, unlike other speakers, this is not a debate about the merits of Blackpool over Manchester. I hold no remit for Blackpool, nor do I have anything against Manchester. The great Mark Twain wrote that he would like to die in Manchester, because the transition between Manchester and death would be so small as to be hardly noticeable. That is rather unkind but, whatever we have heard today and for all its many merits, it would stretch my imagination a little to describe Manchester as a “destination resort”. However many people go through Manchester airport and increase the visitor figures, I have never heard of anyone sunbathing at Old Trafford.

The evidence submitted to the scrutiny committee, which was apparently accepted by the Government at that time, was that a casino development of this type should never be sited in a city near a residential population, as that would be bound to lead to social problems. It said that it should be sited in a destination resort where the bulk of customers would be tourists. What the CAP has recommended goes completely against that advice. I do not lay the blame for that at Professor Crow’s door, but it is pretty clear that the DCMS’s terms of reference for that committee and presumably the ongoing communications between the committee and the department were at best careless and at worst downright incompetent.

Furthermore, the Secretary of State’s determination to combine the relatively uncontroversial decisions in relation to siting the eight large and eight small casinos with the decision on the single regional casino was a blatant attempt to bulldoze the order through Parliament. The ensuing row is a consequence of that crass mistake, the responsibility for which lies with the Secretary of State. The idea that there had to be eight, eight and one casinos in the same order is a complete fantasy; that had nothing to do with it at all.

5 pm

Following so closely on the shambles of the Olympics funding, the resulting raid on lottery funds and the mess surrounding the sale of the Tote, one can now only conclude that, like the Home Office, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is simply not fit for purpose, and the sooner it is placed under new management, the better.

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The Casino Advisory Panel’s advice was just that: advice. The Secretary of State could quite reasonably have rejected it or, far better, all those weeks ago she could have referred it to an ad hoc Select Committee to resolve the matter. Instead, she has chosen to blunder on, which is why the Government now find themselves in this ridiculous and unnecessary position. This is not an issue of principle, nor is it even a great political issue in the overall scheme of things, but it is an issue of the competence of government.

On balance, of the three non-fatal amendments, I believe that that of the noble Baroness, Lady Golding, is best—it is rather better than mine—because it compels the Government to set up the committee that they should have agreed, and had the opportunity, to set up some weeks ago. If the House decides to proceed with this matter, it is likely that I will not press my own amendment but will vote for that in the name of the noble Baroness.

The amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, is of course fatal and, as such, it pushes the conventions of your Lordships’ House to, and possibly beyond, its limits. Indeed, it may well remind the Government and another place exactly what would happen on a regular basis if this House were to flex the muscles given to it by democratic election. My inclination, as a member of the pre-legislative scrutiny committee and, unlike some of my noble friends, as a fan of an elected House, is to support the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, but I shall make my decision when I hear the Minister’s response—in particular, to three questions.

First, will he confirm that the order can be reintroduced—I think that that is set out in Sections 175 and 355 of the Act—and, indeed, must be reintroduced if this House rejects it? Secondly, the offer that he made in accepting the noble Baroness’s amendment implies that a certain amount of activity will take place in the future in terms of Governments accepting committee reports, which are prepared over several months. Bearing in mind that this matter will probably continue beyond the summer and into the autumn, will he confirm that the Secretary of State’s offer to the noble Baroness, Lady Golding, has been rubber-stamped by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who will play a rather more significant role in these matters as the year progresses? Thirdly, will he confirm that everyone is absolutely clear about the last line of the noble Baroness’s amendment, which says that,

and that his offer to accept the amendment means that no casino premises licences will be issued until the committee, which will be set up under the terms of the amendment, is agreed to?

Lord Walpole: My Lords, it gives me great pleasure to get to my feet here rather than going to meetings in practically every meeting room in the Palace of Westminster and outside, as I have done over the past two weeks. I was the Cross-Bench member of the

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pre-legislative scrutiny committee on the Gaming Bill. I felt very strongly that all of us—three party members and the independent member—should put our names down. Of course, I have only one vote and I have to try to persuade my colleagues here that they should follow me in the same direction. I do not know whether I shall succeed in that but I shall try.

I declare my interest in gambling. I was a justice of the peace for Great Yarmouth, where a lot of things happen: there is a casino, or probably two now; various amusement arcades; a very nice racecourse, if anyone wants to go there; and, of course, the dogs.

When on the committee, I learnt an enormous amount about gambling and realised how totally ignorant I was. The committee held two very special events. One was a visit to GamCare. As the number of casinos and the possibility of gambling increase, the number of people who require help will increase substantially. The cost to the National Health Service and other services will be great. The committee heard first hand from former compulsive gamblers how, with great difficulty, they gave it up. Even worse, we heard from the partner of a gambler who had to get to the post before he did, because yet more credit cards would come pouring through the letterbox. The problems are unbelievable and they will get worse.

I do not say that they will be worse in Manchester than in Blackpool. I am not a fan of Blackpool; I am a fan of Yarmouth. I like Blackpool and, on occasions, have enjoyed myself there. We learnt a great deal about GamCare and the problems that will occur.

We visited France, where we had the extreme good fortune to meet a very nice, smart, young—younger than I am—French police officer who was in charge of all gambling in France. Before she started, she said, “I am going to speak to you in French because then I shall be absolutely clear about what I am saying to you”. She said, “You are on the wrong track; you must have destination casinos only, for the big ones”.

There is no gambling in Paris. For those in Paris who wish to gamble I believe that Aix-les-Bains is the nearest place. It is definitely a resort—not a seaside resort. It is designed extremely well for gambling, for going to the theatre or the cinema, or for just sheer enjoyment. As a result of something that happened to me there, I felt slightly relieved. When two or three of us left the casino where we had dined that evening, we were followed by security officers until we got back to our hotel. Unfortunately, we did not win anything, but we might have done.

We also went to Trouville, where again we learnt what a genuine seaside resort—it is virtually seaside—was like. I have been through the list of all 17 sites. I did not know that Milton Keynes was a resort, but it is a rather fun place to go to. You can get lost there so easily, especially with the new signposting around it.

I have come to the firm conclusion that, although I like the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Golding, I shall vote for the one in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones. I ask those Cross-Benchers who have listened to the arguments to follow me through the same Lobby.

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I have four different interests to declare. None of them prevents me from speaking, but the House will be pleased to know that at least two of them restrict what I can say. First, I am a part-time member of the Gambling Commission. The commission is not responsible for the location of casinos or any other gambling premises, but it is responsible for the regulation of those premises—or that part of the regulation that relates to operators and individual employees. Premises licensing, of course, is a matter for local authorities. The Gambling Commission has never taken a view on where gambling premises should be, but it takes the view that it will provide a proper regulatory framework, wherever Parliament or local authorities decide gambling should take place. I shall therefore not express any views on the location of either the regional casino or any of the others.

My second interest is as president of GamCare, which, I am glad to say, has been referred to twice in the debate. It is the leading charity responsible for treatment and assistance of people with gambling problems and the largest recipient of funding from the Responsibility in Gambling Trust, a charity set up voluntarily by gambling industries. I am happy to tell the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, that the Responsibility in Gambling Trust has assured GamCare of funding for the next three years, in response to GamCare’s business plan. GamCare’s activities are currently not restricted by lack of funding. I am not saying that we would not look for more funding if we could get it, but the noble Lords’ assertion that it is under financial pressure is none the less incorrect. Again, GamCare is not concerned with the location of gambling premises. It undertakes to help people with gambling problems, wherever they may be. Therefore, I shall not be commenting on the location of gambling premises in that capacity.

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