A smile was raised in the People's Republic a week ago when the Lords voted down plans which included the building of a super casino in Manchester. Mancunian MP's and Councillors piled onto every media outlet in sight decrying the "unelected house" for ignoring the will of the elected representatives. What they failed to mention is that the party in power, which held their autumn conference in Manchester last year, have had ten years to reform the House of Lords in which they have failed to do so and indeed all of their favoured options included an unelected element.
The defeat was caused by supporters of the Blackpool bid, who were regarded as favourites to get the super casino ever since the Government announced it was only going to allow one to be built. Thought for the Day on Radio 4 had an excellent suggestion. Why don't the Mayor of Blackpool and the Lord Mayor of Manchester play a game of poker to decide who gets the rights to host the Super Casino? After all, if gambling is not good enough to make such a decision, why is it such a good method of redeveloping a deprived area?
However, let us be a bit more balanced. Manchester had the best bid and deserves to hold the casino, you cannot throw the rattle out of the pram just because you do not like the result of the outcome of the selection process. Wolverhampton and Solihull will lose the rights to two of the sixteen smaller casinos which are also included in the bill, which would be bad news for the West Midlands. I suspect if the plans would not have been voted down if the casino had been awarded to Greenwich, London.
My personal view is that super casinos are a good way to redevelop inner city areas, but there should not be just one; there should be as many as necessary. Then the market can decide where they will be placed, rather than having controverdial decisions made by committees whose decision then needs to be scrutinised. The Government does not really need to interfere in such processes, except to liberalise the law.
It would also mean a 50% tax on them, as imposed by Gordon Brown in the budget, would mean less investment coming into the country and would not be economically acceptable.