Thursday July 14, 2011 : Labour Party's shadow secretary of state for DCMS addresses BISL gathering
The UK’s Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Ivan Lewis MP, outlined a largely positive attitude towards the gambling industry when he addressed the recent Business In Sport & Leisure (BISL) members meeting.
Lewis told BISL members that he regarded gambling as a mainstream leisure activity for the vast majority of the UK population.
Confirming his philosophy he said: “My position is that for a small number, gambling is either a problem or has the potential to become a problem. Where that’s the case we have to have systems in place which provide protection. Beyond that it is clear that large numbers of the UK population enjoy gambling and that it is a part of their leisure choice.”
He continued: “My focus is on legitimate intervention and to work with the gambling industry, which has demonstrated a firm commitment to social responsibility.”
The Labour Party politician argued the need for the Department of Culture Media & Sport (DCMS) to be a more robust department, hinting that decisions impacting the gambling sector were being made in other parts of government.
Fast forwarding to the election of a future Labour government he said: “My aims for DCMS are for it to be a more economic department, for it to be a more heavyweight department and for it to have a much stronger voice across Whitehall.”
Moving on to broader business issues Lewis revealed a pragmatic approach to business, inviting the audience of BISL members to provide him with a list of what he described as ‘barmy (mad) regulations’ as part of an undertaking to try and rid commerce of unnecessary red tape.
There was also positive noise on taxation, with the Shadow Secretary acknowledging that if the Labour Party was perceived as a party of punitive taxation it would never get back into government again.
Reflecting on the meeting, BISL chief exec Dominic Harrison said: “It was very encouraging to hear a senior member of the Labour Party respond to questions from our members in such a positive way. Mr Lewis demonstrated a pragmatic as opposed to a dogmatic approach to both the business world generally and the gambling industry in particular. I think BISL’s broad church approach to key issues allows it to engage with politicians and decision makers and take the debate forward in a constructive way.
“I am certain this will be the start of a positive relationship with Ivan Lewis and another strand of the constructive dialogue the gambling industry needs to put in place with mainstream politicians.”