Prime Minister’s Questions. 18th January 2012.
Tessa Munt (Wells) (LD): I was shocked to discover that mainstream terrestrial television carries adverts for online bingo at 5 o’clock in the afternoon and that 31 hours and 55 minutes each week is dedicated to live casino betting and gaming, which has been classified as teleshopping since 2009. At a time when there is ฃ1.45 trillion of personal debt in this country and when we are encouraging people to be moderate in their expectations and behaviour, will the Prime Minister please protect consumers, children and the vulnerable from this kind of activity by asking for a review by Ofcom—
The Prime Minister: The hon. Lady raises an important issue about gambling advertisement on television. I am all in favour of deregulation and trying to allow businesses to get on and succeed. Gambling programmes and betting advertising were not permitted until the last Government allowed them in 2007 and they are strictly regulated by Ofcom and the Advertising Standards Authority. It is not just a question of regulation, as it is also a question of responsibility by the companies concerned. Anyone who enjoys watching a football match will see quite aggressive advertisements on the television, and I think companies have to ask themselves whether they are behaving responsibly when they do that.
Meg Hillier (Hackney South and Shoreditch) (Lab/Co-op): On the subject of gambling, Hackney has 90 bookies—three times the national average. Will the Prime Minister listen to the debate that took place yesterday and take action this Friday and instruct his Ministers to support the private Member’s Bill that will be before the House and will give local authorities more planning powers over bookies?
The Prime Minister: I will certainly look at the debate the hon. Lady mentions and the ideas expressed in it. We are all for localism and giving local authorities greater powers in these sorts of regards. I will look at the suggestion she makes.