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National Lottery

Volume 300: debated on Monday 10 November 1997

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1.

I published my proposals to reform the lottery in the White Paper "The People's Lottery" in July. They will make the lottery work better and increase the number of people who will benefit from the good causes that it supports. Some of the proposals require legislation and I expect to introduce the lottery reform Bill before Christmas.

Has the Secretary of State seen the comments from Lord Rothschild who. like others, is complaining about the increase in ministerial interference and diktat and the reduction in sums available for heritage, sport, the arts and charities? Lord Rothschild estimated that £200 million less will be available for heritage as a result of the right hon. Gentleman's proposals. Is he aware of the growing anger at his disregard for the principles of additionality and the arm's-length arrangements? Is he aware that, increasingly, his proposals are being described not as a people's lottery but as a Chancellor of the Exchequer's lottery through which Ministers' pet projects can be funded through the back pocket?

I will make three brief points in response to the right hon. Lady's six. First, we stand firmly behind the principle of additionality. In September 1994, the previous Prime Minister said:

"The money raised by the Lottery will not replace public expenditure."
If the right hon. Lady does not think that that is good enough, I would remind her of her own definition. In July 1996, she said:
"Lottery funds are not intended to substitute for funds which would have otherwise been provided by conventional public expenditure."
We agree, and there is no intention in the people's lottery proposals to do anything other than stand by those definitions of additionality.

Secondly, each of the existing distributary bodies will receive exactly the amount that they originally anticipated receiving when the lottery began: £1.8 billion during the seven-year lottery franchise. Thirdly, the right hon. Lady is ignoring the benefits that will come from the new proposals for £1 billion of additional spending on health and education-related projects, which the people of this country supported when they voted on 1 May.

The right hon. Gentleman will have to go after me. After all, he is only a little Liberal.

When the reform takes place, will my right hon. Friend ensure that the distribution of lottery money throughout the country is different from what it has been in the few years of its existence? It is well known that in the east midlands and certain counties, such as Derbyshire, the distribution has been woefully weak, and we want to ensure that in future those who participate in the lottery in our part of the world get a fair crack of the whip. If we can get rid of that dome and find some more money, so much the better.

My hon. Friend will know that one of our proposals is that the distributary bodies should draw up a strategic plan for the deployment of their resources; as part of that, we shall look to them to ensure a fair distribution across the whole country.

Bearing in mind the fact that the previous Government presided over a decline in the vote money for the Secretary of State's Department and that he has not arrested that decline, how does he propose to deal with the revenue difficulties of many companies, such as the Gate theatre in London, and the Greenwich theatre, to which Ms Polly Toynbee drew attention today—never mind the Royal Opera house? Does he believe that his proposals for changing lottery rules will in any way deal with the decline of many companies throughout the country that have so far not been assisted by the lottery?

Yes, because the proposals in the White Paper specifically suggest that we should move away from the exclusive concentration on capital spending, on bricks and mortar, and start to give more support from lottery funds to people and activities; that will be the start of resolving some of the problems that the right hon. Gentleman identified.

The Secretary of State will be aware that national lottery funding is to be used for the British academy of sport. Any hon. Member who listened to the Minister for Sport's reply could have drawn the reasonable inference that there was to be an announcement of the winner this Friday, but that will clearly not happen. It should be made clear that the announcement on Friday will be of the criteria by which national lottery bids could be judged.

Given that the Government announced on 21 July that a winner would be announced by September, is it not time that a grip was got on the whole project and that we had a clear timetable for the announcement of a winner for the British academy of sport? Many people have invested a lot of time, effort and energy. In the Heyfords, for example, we believe that we are a winner, and we have the support of the British Olympic community, but it is very frustrating not knowing where we stand. Can we have clear criteria and a clear timetable against which everyone can bid?

It is precisely because inadequate energy and effort were put in by the previous Government that we have had to spend all of the past six months trying to get a grip on this issue. On Friday, we will be announcing a clear set of details and a framework for the academy. There are three possible locations, which will be invited to submit final proposals within one or two weeks to accord with the framework that we will put in place on Friday, and a decision will then be made rapidly.