The Government most recently amended the National Lottery Act 1993 in 2010 to restore the lottery shares for arts, sports and heritage good causes to 20%, reversing Labour’s cuts. Together with strong lottery ticket sales, the change has meant that funding for those areas has risen significantly since the beginning of the Parliament.
I welcome the 2010 changes, but will the Minister also consider the Culture, Media and Sport Committee report from a couple of years ago? The health lottery effectively markets itself as a national lottery, yet it does not give the same proportion of money to good causes or of tax to the Government. Will he look at the situation again? It desperately needs changing for the benefit of all.
I hear what my hon. Friend says. Hon. Members agree that society lotteries play an important and successful role in raising money for local charities, whereas the national lottery serves a different purpose. The erosion of the distinction between society lotteries and commercial gambling makes it clear that any consultation on society lotteries would need to be more wide ranging. We have therefore asked the Gambling Commission to advise us on how the national lottery, society lotteries and commercial gambling markets interact. We will assess that advice and, if necessary, frame a consultation document.
I declare an interest as chair of the John Clare Trust—it is John Clare’s 150th anniversary this year. We have received a lot of money from the Heritage Lottery Fund. I was against the lottery when it came out, and I was wrong.
As an aside, my right hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr Burns) wins the prize for heckle of the year. I will certainly look into the concerns raised by the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman). It is important that hon. Members have access to lottery distributors to press their cases.
If I did not know of the link of the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman) with the John Clare Trust, I would have a quite serious problem both with my short-term and long-term memory, as he has mentioned it several hundred times in the deliberations of the House.
Will the Minister undertake to discuss with the Northern Ireland Executive particular issues relating to the operation of the Big Lottery Fund in Northern Ireland? If he has, will he update the House on the result of those discussions?