I move amendment No. 3:
In page 16, before section 33, to insert a new subsection as follows:
"33. No notice or announcement concerning the National Lottery (other than normal news or other reporting) shall be broadcast on radio or television."
This section contains probably the most devastating two lines in the entire Bill. We are, with one swoop in a line and a half, eliminating this lottery from all the wisdom of our community about how to regulate gaming and lotteries. We are saying this is something new which should be regulated by this Bill and nothing else.
A number of Gaming and Lotteries Acts were passed between 1956 and 1979 — although I think the effective Act is still the 1956 Act, which goes through the method of conducting lotteries and many things related to it. Contained in the 1956 Act is section 22 which, until now was never publicly challenged because most people recognise the wisdom of that section. Section 22 of the 1956 Act states:
No person shall print, publish in any newspaper or periodical publication, exhibit on any cinema screen or broadcast by radio any notice or announcement concerning a lottery (other than an announcement of the results of a lottery declared by any provision of this Part not to be unlawful or cause or procure any such notice or announcement to be so printed, published, exhibited or broadcast or knowingly circulate or cause or procure to be circulated any newspaper or periodical publication containing any such notice or announcement.
Effectively it said that advertising to encourage the sale of tickets in lotteries was illegal, whether it be in newspapers, periodicals, on the radio or television. Presumably there is some section in the Broadcasting Acts which incorporates television into the definition of radio. That was not put in as some sort of extreme puritanism. It was put in because it was recognised that the whole area of lotteries and gaming is part of the area of gambling and that gambling, notwithstanding what we have been hearing here, is not a matter of free choice. It is potentially as addictive as alcohol or drugs. There is overwhelming evidence that addiction to gaming can be as destructive of individuals, of society and, in particular, given the quantity if not the quality of talk we have had about the family over the past six weeks, of family life.
As the Minister said earlier, we currently spend over £200 million a year on on-course and off-course betting. It is not by any means an insignificant sum. It represents about one fifth of what we spend as a society on education. It represents as much as we spend on the Department of Justice. It represents nearly as much as we spend on the Department of Defence. It is a large sum spent on gambling. This is not a minor issue.
Thirty years ago legislators recognised that gambling had potentially serious social consequences, that lotteries were part of ordinary living, particularly the small scale lotteries envisaged in earlier legislation and that they were potentially damaging if they got out of hand. A very wise provision was inserted prohibiting advertising of such lotteries in newspapers, periodicals or on the radio. It has worked well. Until this proposal for this national lottery came in, I had not been aware that most of the voluntary organisations were clamouring for a fundamental change in legislation about advertising lotteries. They had their own methods of enabling lotteries to be known about and of promoting those lotteries, usually by word of mouth, or door to door. This avoided a number of things. In particular, it avoided young people and children being introduced to a gambling culture because of radio and television in particular. Television is a children's medium which is consumed in large quantities by young people under 15 years of age. Unless the Minister is going to introduce regulations saying that the advertising of the national lottery can only be carried on after 9 o'clock at night, which I suspect he will not say, children will be fed a diet of advertising of this new form of gambling, and it will not be a particularly innocent form of advertising.
I would like the Minister to confirm that the Canadian Federal Government have decided to give up lotteries because of the negative effects of such lotteries. In an article inThe Toronto Star of 7 October 1984 the United Church, the Salvation Army and the Baptist Federation of Canada said that millions of Canadians are now gamblers who never were in the past or would be without the aggressive promotion of lotteries by Government. They went on to say that with subtle deceptive advertising techniques citizens were lured to buy and be a winner when most all of them would be losers, many losing money they could ill afford.
In our case, this will not be some sort of bland, detached advertisement saying: "Buy tickets in the national lottery". It will be based on the prospect of people winning a large fortune. The odds of somebody winning a large fortune are about a million to one against but this will not be advertised. What will be advertised is the possibility of winning a fortune. To whom will advertising the possibility of winning a fortune mean most, but to those who have nothing. They are the people who see no way out, no escape from their own misery, and the prospect of winning a fortune will appeal most to them. Those of us who have a reasonably comfortable life style will not risk our income on the prospect of making a fortune because we are reasonably all right the way things are. We can complain and grumble but our children do not go hungry. We have reasonable housing and access to many services. But people who have none of those things can easily be led into believing that this is the way out.
The Canadian newspaper documents people who have done extraordinary things. It mentioned the sort of advertising where the woman whose number came up the one week she had not bought a ticket is identified as what can happen if you do not buy your ticket every week. Appeals to people's sense of being oppressed, isolated or alone, are the traditional standard techniques of television advertising. Advertising is not some sort of detached profession. It operates on the level of people's weaknesses, fears and needs. It is a highly sophisticated business based on the best available analysis of people's psychological needs. That is the kind of advertising that will be used here. It is one thing to use it in newspaper advertising, which does not have the same person to person impact, but to use it in television advertising, which is recognised to be the most effective and to have the highest impact, is a danger in itself. The best way to work out the impact of television advertising is to look at the rates they charge. They are enormous. One would pay up to £10,000 for a slot on "The Late Late Show".
Where do you think the national lottery are going to go looking for their slot? It will not be on a late night television discussion in the Irish language. It will be on those programmes which have the maximum audience ratings. They will include programmes like the news and "The Late Late Show", programmes which are not by any means watched exclusively by mature adults, capable of making free decisions who are the only persons entitled to purchase tickets in the national lottery.
I would be happier to have section 22 of the 1956 Act remain in force, because that was a reasonable and sensible provision. My view about alcohol, cigarette smoking and, for that matter, one soft drug, is that the best way to deal with all these things is to legalise them and prohibit all forms of advertising of them. Gambling fits into that category. It should not be permitted to be advertised because it has at best a neutral role in society, and probably a destructive role. I find it astonishing that we cannot advertise something sensible, useful and practicable — such as contraceptives — on television because of moral scruples, but we can advertise something as potentially lethal and devastating to many families as the national lottery on television. Because of that, because the wisdom contained in the 1956 Act was based on commonsense, and because of the sort of advertising which is going to be used in a television campaign about this national lottery. I propose that no notice or announcement concerning the national lottery other than what would be normal news or other reporting shall be broadcast on radio or television.