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Lottery Funding

Volume 469: debated on Monday 10 December 2007

1. How much lottery funding was spent on sport in each of the past three years; and if he will make a statement. (172197)

The five sports lottery distributors together drew down about £242 million from the national lottery distribution fund for expenditure in 2004-05, about £264 million in 2005-06 and, subject to audit, about £209 million in 2006-07.

While we are on the subject of sport, I am sure that the whole House will join me in congratulating British boxing on a fantastic weekend, and Amir Khan and Joe Calzaghe in particular on their victories. I pay especial tribute to Ricky Hatton, who throughout his 38 victories has been a great inspiration to my constituents in Hattersley and Hyde and who, in the manner and dignity of his defeat, will continue to be such.

I add my congratulations to our sporting heroes, whom the Minister has highlighted. However, is he aware that only 13.5 per cent. of the UK population are members of sports clubs? That compares unfavourably with other EU countries, such as Germany and France, where 33 per cent. and 26 per cent. of the population respectively are members of sports clubs. Is that because the Government are not giving enough from the lottery funds to our sports clubs, to encourage people to participate in sport more?

In fact, we have increased the amount of money going from the Exchequer to sport by seven times since 1997. We are completely committed to building a world-class community sports infrastructure, which is why we have asked Sport England to conduct a review in order to achieve exactly that.

May I welcome the money that the Government are putting into sport through the lottery? Will my right hon. Friend take a particular interest in the need for his Department to invest in sport in Stoke-on-Trent? We have an admirable gymnastics club, albeit with insufficient coaches, and we have great hopes that through the regeneration agenda and the building schools for the future programme we can invest more in sport. Will he look to ensure that we have the right—

I quite agree with my hon. Friend that we should increase the amount of money going into sport. The amount going in over the next three years will be higher than the amount going in this year, which is a great opportunity for Stoke to make its claim for increased investment in sport. I know that my hon. Friend has been a strong campaigner for that and, given her question, I am sure that she will welcome the emphasis that we are putting on having a world-class network of clubs and coaches.

The Minister knows that the money for sport from the lottery has gone down by about a third in recent years. Now the Government are taking away more than £500 million to fund the Olympic black hole. The Minister will have received an authoritative and detailed report showing how, by changing the taxation regime for the national lottery, additional money can go to both the Treasury and community sports, to deliver the Olympic legacy that we all want. Has he seen the report, does he accept it and what is he doing about it?

I take it that the hon. Gentleman is referring to the report into a gross profit tax for the lottery. I know that he is trying to supplement the Liberal Democrats’ money tree, but he knows well that even if that were possible, it would yield only a fifth of what he identifies as the black hole—in fact, the contribution from the lottery. It will be interesting to see whether the Liberal Democrats support that, and if not, where they would get the funding from. Given that the amount involved is only a fifth, that leaves nearly £500 million that he would have to find from somewhere else.

I hope that this is not the hon. Gentleman’s last Question Time as sports spokesman—there is an upcoming reshuffle, in the light of the leadership contest. I say sincerely to him that he is a credit to Opposition spokesmen. He is always a master of detail, constructive when necessary and tough when he feels he needs to be. I hope that we see him again.

Where will funding for activities such as cycling and walking come from in future? As a result of the redefinition of sport, which I understand excludes cycling and walking, there will be a shortfall in funding. Is that money likely to come from Departments such as the Department of Health, rather than the Department for Culture, Media and Sport?

No, we are committed to the goal that we set out in the Olympic bid of raising participation by 2 million. Sport England’s role in that is to raise participation in sport. One of our promises in the Olympic bid documents was to create a world-class infrastructure for sport in this country. We are well on the way to doing that in school sport; we have gone from 20 per cent. of young people doing two hours to more than 80 per cent., and we are now well on the way to five hours. On elite sport, the Australians are now copying us, rather than the other way around. Our priority is to deliver a world-class community sports infrastructure, to match that of school sport and elite sport.

Although lottery sports funding has been quite consistent over the past three years, we are set to lose £13.1 million from SportScotland to pay for the London games and London’s redevelopment. Now that we are to have the 2014 games in Glasgow, will the Secretary of State acknowledge that there is a case for Scottish lottery funding to remain in Scotland rather than diverting it to London to fund London redevelopment?

The hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways. He cannot describe the Olympics as the London games and then say that the Glasgow games are national games. There is an internal contradiction in his allegation. I met his colleague, the Minister for the arts, recently to discuss the lottery, and I would be happy to meet his colleague who leads on sport to discuss it. Indeed, we are convening a group to consider the issue. The Scottish National party cannot criticise the London games while championing the Glasgow games as a national event.

Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating Anne Reid and her Into Work team in my constituency, who have recently received a cheque for nearly £500,000 from the Big Lottery Fund? Part of their rehabilitation strategy is to encourage clients to participate in sports. Let us not be undermined by the arguments from the Opposition, who continually want to talk down Scotland. Substantial funding is still coming into Scotland from the Big Lottery Fund.

That is a very good point. I believe that the nationalists’ policy is to have a “Scot Lot”. Anyone who knows anything about lotteries will know that that would bring in less money, because it is the size of the jackpot that determines how many people play. That would be another cut as a result of their proposals. My hon. Friend is quite right to say that the Big Lottery Fund is investing in Scotland and in sport. In fact, it invested £238 million in 2005-06, and then £207 million, so the Big Lottery Fund is contributing to sport, as are the sports lottery funds.