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Lottery Funding

Volume 405: debated on Monday 19 May 2003

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2.

What proportion of lottery funding has been spent on projects and good causes in the constituency of Chesham and Amersham in each of the last five years; and if she will make a statement. [113827]

The following figures are the amounts awarded for the hon. Lady's constituency in each of the last five years. In 1999, the amount was £1.775 million; in 2000, it was £423,000; in 2001, £1.272 million; in 2002, £398,000; and in 2003, £380,000. That puts her constituency 134th from the bottom of the per capita table of constituencies.

I thank the Minister for that answer, but is he aware that smaller charities in Chesham and Amersham find increasingly that bureaucracy and the length of time that it takes to leap through the hoops set up by the various distributing bodies are a positive disincentive to applying for lottery funding? Will he consider our proposal, which would give a fair deal to smaller charities by allowing players to specify a local charity on their lottery ticket, or by turning it into a gift token that could be given to a local charity of the player's choice? I hope that the Secretary of State is giving the Minister the inspiration that he needs to answer my question.

I do not need inspiration, as it was my right hon. Friend's idea and we put it out for consultation some months ago. Indeed, we have pronounced on the matter on several occasions and we shall report to the House in due course. While I am on my feet, I can point out that the hon. Lady's constituents did far better under Labour than under the previous Administration; between 1995 and 1998, the figures were considerably lower.

I welcome the right hon. Gentleman's remarks, but does he accept that one of the problems is that people purchasing lottery tickets in Chesham and Amersham, as elsewhere, are losing confidence that the money for good causes will actually reach genuine good causes? Our proposal is that people should be able to indicate specific local charities, rather than the tick-box scheme that the Government were suggesting, so that people can have complete confidence that they know where the money is going. I hope that he will give that proposal some consideration.

We will give the proposal consideration, just as we have given consideration to the wide-ranging consultation and the responses to it. As I said, we shall report back, and I hope that hon. Members will engage in constructive debate. I think that all Members appreciate the institution of the lottery for the role that it plays, so I hope that we can have constructive dialogue and discussion about how to proceed when we make our report to the House.