I move amendment 1:—
In page 4, lines 9-10, Section 6 (b) to delete the words "or under the Betting Act, 1926."
This amendment is designed to deal with the position which was created by a certain uncertainty in the law as it stood under the Act it is supposed to amend regarding loitering. According to my information a certain bookmaker or bookmakers were refused a licence on the ground that they had permitted overcrowding on their premises. These bookmakers subsequently appealed I think to the District Court. In one case at any rate the District Justice decided in favour of the appellant and against the superintendent. In subsequent proceedings after a lapse of a year that decision was reversed by, I think, another District Justice in the same district. At any rate, the position in which certain of these bookmakers found themselves was that they were compelled, or at any rate they were asked, to give an undertaking before a licence would be issued that they would not permit overcrowding or loitering on their premises; that they would not permit a nuisance to be created. They contended that they had not, in fact, permitted that to be done; that the people who had congregated in the premises they occupied were gathering there for the purpose of transacting business which was legitimate under the Act.
After a great deal of demur some of them did, I understand, give this undertaking. Then they discovered that this condition was not being insisted upon by superintendents in the neighbouring districts, so that they found that, while they were only granted a licence under certain conditions, neighbouring competitors secured their licence without those conditions being attached. In one of these cases a bookmaker, because he had been advised that the action of the superintendent in exacting this condition was not in accordance with the law, that it was ultra vires, permitted a certain amount of overcrowding in order to create a test case. That was a perfectly legitimate thing to do in order that the law in the matter might be clarified in view of the conflicting decisions of the District Justices in the case. I understand they now fear that the provision which I propose to delete in Section 6, paragraph (b)—the provision that an applicant who has been previously convicted of an offence under the Betting Act, 1926, may be refused a certificate of personal fitness—may be used against him though, as I have said, they acted in a bona fide way, as any citizen is entitled to do, in order to have the law clarified. They are afraid that this may be made an excuse for refusing them a certificate. The people involved are men of high character, and some are of exceptionally good standing in racing circles, and I think the Minister ought, if not prepared to accept the amendment, to see if the danger which they fear cannot be safeguarded.