Blunkett admits cabinet division on gambling Bill

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David Blunkett yesterday fuelled the rebellion over the Government's gambling Bill by breaking ranks and admitting there were "disagreements" in the Cabinet over allowing US-owned "mega casinos" to open across Britain.

The Home Secretary, who has been in behind-the-scenes negotiations with Tessa Jowell, the Secretary of State for Culture, over the threat of organised crime, said on the BBC that "thrashing out" details of legislation in private was the "sensible way" of "dealing with disagreements".

One of the leading Labour rebels, Frank Field, the former social security minister, said: "There is obviously a big row. David Blunkett is desperately worried about money-laundering and gangs who may get involved in running casinos." Mr Field last night tabled a Commons motion calling for pilot schemes before towns are free to give planning permission for casinos. Alan Simpson, a Labour left-winger, said: "This Bill smacks of the row over Formula One motor-racing and Bernie Ecclestone."

Ms Jowell is facing a Commons rebellion on the second reading of the Bill next week. The Tories announced they would also vote against the measure. Normally, she meets backbench MPs for talks, but she flew to New York on Sunday to be with her younger brother who is gravely ill.

Tough planning regulations and provisos are to be introduced in secondary legislation by the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott.

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