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National Lottery Funding

Volume 583: debated on Thursday 3 July 2014

1. What steps he has taken to promote national lottery funding to sport, heritage and arts groups in the past 12 months. (904613)

Through the work of the national lottery promotions unit and individual national lottery distributors, we continue to raise awareness of funding for good causes. Demand for lottery funding continues to outstrip supply, with over £1.5 billion spent on national lottery projects in just the past 12 months.

The Heritage Lottery Fund recently made a large contribution to the new visitors centre at Bletchley Park in my constituency and also paid for the restoration of some of the old codebreaking huts. May I invite my right hon. Friend to visit Bletchley Park to see for himself what a vital role the Heritage Lottery Fund plays in preserving the heritage of the country?

I have visited Bletchley Park a number of times, as I am sure all hon. Members have done, to look at its vivid story and see how that is brought to life. I would be more than happy to do so again. It is a fitting tribute to the remarkable men and women who worked there, including a wonderful woman in my own constituency, Betty Webb, who served there. I am delighted that Bletchley Park has received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund for its restoration. My hon. Friend is right to give credit to John Major, as he has done in the past, for setting up the fund.

The Secretary of State may know that as chair of the John Clare Trust, I have been the beneficiary of quite a lot of Heritage Lottery funding. I am delighted with it and would like more for projects going forward in my constituency, but will the right hon. Gentleman remember that it does not replace a Government committed to culture and heritage?

I am pleased to hear that the hon. Gentleman supports the work that the fund is doing for the causes that he holds dear, which are very good causes. The principle of additionality is very important and the distributors must adhere to it at all times.

The Secretary of State will be aware that alongside the national lottery, society lotteries contributed £145 million to good causes in 2012-13 and could provide a lot more if the prizes, draw and turnover rules were deregulated. His Department has long promised a consultation on this but has yet to publish it. In the light of the recent Centre for Economics and Business Research report on society lotteries, can he tell the House when the consultation might come?

Changes in lottery and gambling markets have made it clear to us that the consultation on society lotteries should be more wide ranging than we had previously thought. The Gambling Commission is providing us with further information and advice, and we are planning to conduct the consultation later this year.

The Arts Council announced this week that 99 organisations will be financed solely by the national lottery and it has to cut support to 58 other arts organisations because of the huge cuts in the Department. Local authorities have also been forced to reduce support to arts organisations. Given that London gets 20 times as much philanthropic money per person as the rest of the country, does the Secretary of State agree with the statement from the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, the hon. Member for Wantage (Mr Vaizey) that arts organisations that cannot raise philanthropic funds are totally misguided and “pathetic”?

The hon. Lady will know that I do not agree with her. She knows that Government grants for arts funding have been cut because the Government of whom she was part left our country with the largest deficit in the industrialised world and left us with very difficult decisions to make. The good news is that the Arts Council receives funding from other sources and, taken together with total funding of almost £3 billion during the life of this Parliament, the level of funding is virtually unchanged from the situation in the previous Parliament.

Given that many regions, particularly in the north, generate disproportionately more revenue for the national lottery, what further steps will the Government take to ensure that other regions where more money is generated get their fair share of sport, heritage and arts funding?

The hon. Gentleman is right to raise that important point about the regional distribution of the funds. It is something we discuss with the lottery, and I shall be taking it up with it further.