INTERPRETATION BILL, 1923. - GAMING BILL, 1923—SECOND STAGE.

Mr. O'HIGGINS

This Bill is short and very simple, and I trust that its introduction raises no false hopes. It does not legalise gambling, and it does not enable a person to sue for recovery of gambling debts. It has simply one effect, and that is to repeal Section 2 of the Gaming Act of 1835. Under that Section an action could be taken to recover money paid by cheque on foot of a gambling transaction, and in an action which went, I think, to the House of Lords, it was held that an executor was bound to take such action for the recovery of monies paid by cheque by the deceased person on foot of a gambling transaction. That created a very serious and awkward position for executors, and it must be remembered that it was not a one-sided provision. The book-makers or the executors of bookmakers could take — and the executors were bound to take — action for the recovery of monies paid on foot of a gambling transaction.

The single effect of this Bill is that when a person has lost and paid in a gambling transaction, an action will not lie for recovery. It does not exclude the right of pleading the Gaming Act. It does not put it in the power of any person to sue in the Court for the recovery of money won in a gambling transaction; but it does remove that anomaly by which, after the transaction is closed and after the money is paid over, the person who actually paid, or his executor, could sue for its recovery. That is the single effect of the Bill and I think it will be generally agreed that a law which puts the onus on the executor of the deceased person to sue for the recovery of all monies paid by him in the course of his life on foot of gambling transactions, is a provision that ought properly to be repealed. This short simple Bill repeals that provision.

Would it be in order to propose an amendment to this Bill legalising gambling?

That is a question for the Committee Stage.

Mr. O'HIGGINS

On the Committee Stage, yes.

Would the Minister tell us what would be the effect on gambling if this Bill did not pass? I realise the strength of his argument; but as one unversed in these matters I am curious to know whether, if this Bill were not passed, the effect would be to limit very materially any gambling except ready money gambling.

Mr. O'HIGGINS

To an extent it might have that effect, but it is very likely that people would continue to pay by cheque and receive cheques in payment believing that action for the recovery of the money would not follow. In any case the law as it stands puts on the executors the active duty of proceeding to sue for the recovery of monies paid by the deceased person. It is felt that is a hardship—quite apart from the possible effects in future of this short piece of legislation— that ought to be removed, and removed instantly. If the Deputy cares to press his point of view in order to bring about ready-money gambling, that of course is a point of view he is entitled to press.

As far as I am concerned, I desire to give this Bill my absolute blessing. It is the first time I have found myself in complete agreement with the Government, so far, in the introduction of any of their measures. This Bill, so far as I understand, does away with a legal anomaly, and if it were not proposed we would be in the position of "as you were," namely, that where transactions took place between two citizens whereby cheques passed, being a formal insignia of honourable transactions, as the law now stands these transactions could be, and in some cases, as the Minister for Home Affairs has stated, would have to be the subject of proceedings. Therefore, I think it a very just and a very proper measure, and also a very equitable one, and I congratulate the Government upon its introduction.

Question —"That the Bill be now read a second time"— put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday next.