I do not want to take up the time of the House very much on this Bill but I confess that I am one of those old-fashioned people who believes that betting is still an evil and that it is an evil which, as a result of the working of this Bill, is to some extent comparable with the evil of intemperance. Personally I do not believe that intemperance could be wisely cured by prohibition, and I am not going to vote against this Bill. But I really think that there has been an increase of betting amongst people who cannot afford it as a result of the Bill of 1926. I think an assurance was given in the Dáil that before another Bill to extend the Betting Act was placed before this House there would be some kind of an inquiry into the whole position of betting shops. I am very strongly of the opinion that a competent inquiry should be held. Everybody in this House desires to see drunkenness abolished. One of the difficulties has been that over a long period certain vested interests arise which are extremely difficult to deal with. If we do not immediately deal with vested interests growing up in betting shops as a result of the 1926 Act and place them under proper restriction, I think you will find it extremely difficult to do it in the future. I am not an extremist in this matter but on the whole I think it is far better—this view is not shared by many of my friends—to make betting legal than to have it carried on more or less under State supervision and call it illegal. At the same time I think it is wrong to continue this Act for more than another year without proper investigation. What I want now is to ask the Minister if he can tell us what pledge was given in the Dáil in consist of members of the Dáil. Personally I would prefer if certain outside experts representing both sides of the question were on the committee. At least I think it should be a committee representing the Oireachtas. I am not including myself as I am not in any sense an expert but I think there are some members of this House who would be extremely useful on the committee. I would prefer a committee which included one or two outsiders. I am not opposing the Bill because of the assurance given, but as it stands I do not think it gives the safeguards that are necessary or respects the wishes of those who want to have betting carried on in a legalised form. I would like to have a little more information from the Government.
PUBLIC BUSINESS. - BETTING BILL, 1928—SECOND STAGE.
Speaking from recollection, I think you will find that in the report of the Dáil debates a specific statement was made by the Minister in charge of the Bill. My recollection is that he stated that it was the intention of the Government to set up a committee—I am not talking of the constitution of the committee now—to look into the matters mentioned.
That is what I tried to convey to the House. My impression was that it was to be a committee of the Dáil, and I think it would be wiser if some people outside who understood the question were added to the committee.
I would have no objection to a joint committee, but I am not sure that I would like to agree to a committee on which there would be people outside. As a matter of fact, its proposed terms of reference will enable the committee to examine documents and witnesses, and I think the people who have studied it outside can go before the committee and give help in that way.
That would meet my point.