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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 March 2007, 13:48 GMT
Government to back super-casino
Slot machine
Manchester is the preferred location for the super-casino
The government is backing the decision for Manchester to have the super-casino licence despite a Parliamentary motion calling for the move to be rethought.

A total of 101 MPs have signed the motion asking the government to reconsider the independent advisory panel's recommendation.

However, Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell has instigated proceedings for it to be debated by both Houses of Parliament.

The decision cannot be amended, it must only be approved or rejected.

They should listen to... the anger that exists out there that some unelected body has decided - and in our minds - made completely the wrong decision
Geraldine Smith, Labour MP for Morecambe

But because of the controversy surrounding the surprise announcement that Manchester was considered the best location for a super-casino, MPs will have three hours - twice the usual time allowed - to debate the issue.

Ms Jowell said: "As the Gambling Act makes clear, it is for Parliament to make the final decision about the locations of the new casinos.

"After careful consideration, I have decided to put to Parliament the recommendations of the independent Casino Advisory Panel.

"Given the exceptional level of interest in the issues, and the importance of Parliament being able to properly consider the matter, the debate in the Commons will be an extended one."

The Parliamentary motion, lodged by Blackpool North MP Joan Humble, calls on the government to reconvene the expert scrutiny committee of members of both Houses of Parliament which examined the draft gambling bill.

Artist's impression of the proposed Manchester casino
The proposed casino could be in east Manchester

It wants it to assess the panel's report dealing with the regional casino and then make recommendations to Parliament before any final votes take place.

In January when it was announced that Manchester was the recommended location for a super-casino, the decision outraged Blackpool residents and MPs alike who were hoping that the seaside resort would be the preferred destination.

Labour MP for Morecambe Geraldine Smith is among those opposed to Manchester.

She told the Daily Politics on BBC 2 the government needed to think again.

"The government may well struggle if they don't allow a free vote in parliament on this issue," she said.

"Ultimately we should make the decision as MPs. It is a political decision and Blackpool is the right location.

"The government should listen to the lobby - the Blackpool MPs have done a great job in lobbying them.

Wrong decision

"They should listen to the concerns they've expressed and also the anger that exists out there that some unelected body has decided - and in our minds - made completely the wrong decision."

However, leader of Manchester City Council Sir Richard Leese told BBC Radio 4's World at One on Monday that while there was "a lot of sympathy for Blackpool and [people] want to see successful regeneration there", Manchester also needed regeneration.

The panel also recommended that large casinos should be licensed at Great Yarmouth, Kingston-upon-Hull, Leeds, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Newham, Solihull and Southampton.

And it said that small casinos should be sited at Bath and North East Somerset, Dumfries and Galloway, East Lindsey, Luton, Scarborough, Swansea, Torbay and Wolverhampton.

These locations will also be debated by both Houses of Parliament.


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