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Apportionment Of Money In The National Lottery Distribution Fund Order 2000

Volume 620: debated on Thursday 14 December 2000

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4.37 p.m.

rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 23rd November be approved [33rd Report from the Joint Committee, Session 1999–2000].

The noble Lord said: My Lords, as the House now knows, the first order extends the funding of the commission until the 20th August 2001, after which it will receive no more proceeds from the lottery. This order, the Apportionment of Money in the National Lottery Distribution Fund Order 2000, takes up the story from that point by determining what happens to the Millennium Commission's share of lottery funding thereafter.

I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, is no longer in his place. He and I have both inadvertently misled the House on the previous order and I should like to put that right. My noble and learned friend Lord Falconer has indicated to me, sotto voce, that the £3 million extra was for last year's London river event. I allowed myself to be distracted by the confident assurance of a member of the Millennium Commission. I apologise to the House for that error.

It has been a long-standing government policy that once the Millennium Commission's share of lottery income ceased, its share should be transferred to the New Opportunities Fund. The second order before us gives effect to this policy. It provides that immediately after the Millennium Commission stops receiving new income from lottery proceeds, the New Opportunities Fund's share of lottery income increases from 13⅓ per cent to 33⅓ per cent. In other words, from the 21st August 2001 onwards, NOF will receive one out of every three pounds paid into the National Lottery Distribution Fund.

The creation of NOF as a new UK-wide lottery distributor focusing on health, education and environment reflected the Government's intention to target lottery funding more directly on key areas of social inclusion and disadvantage. The fund has established itself as a major grant-maker and has developed innovative grant-making practices. It has enabled much-needed educational, environmental and health-related initiatives to go ahead which would not otherwise have been funded. Barely two years from its creation, NOF is already making an impact on the nation's quality of life. From a healthy living centre for the elderly in Devon to new childcare provision where none previously existed in County Tyrone, NOF money is flowing into projects of great benefit to people and communities.

A recent MORI survey confirmed public support for the targeting of lottery funding on the areas of health, education and environment in which the fund distributes grants. When asked to identify the two or three most important areas for lottery funding out of a list of 10, 69 per cent of respondents identified health, 55 per cent education, and 26 per cent the environment. Over 2,000 grants have been awarded, many involving large numbers of individual projects. Over £614 million has been allocated to projects. The impact of these grants already includes childcare schemes that will create more than 110,000 new childcare places; training in the use of information and communication technologies for over 160,000 teachers; new cancer equipment in hospitals; and new preventive health services for deprived communities. NOF's increased income will allow it to target more areas where a real step change in the quality of people's lives can be achieved.

The Government launched the consultation paper, New Opportunities from the Lottery, on 6th November, which proposed a number of new initiatives for NOF to fund. In summary, these proposals are: £750 million for additional sports facilities for schools and wider community use; £50 million for outdoor adventure and other activities for young people; £300 million to boost the fight against heart disease and strokes, providing extra money for the fund's existing initiatives to combat cancer and provide palliative care for adults and children with life-threatening and chronic illness; £200 million for the provision of childcare places for children aged nought to three years, together with further support for the over-threes, particularly in deprived areas; £150 million for a programme of environmental renewal and community regeneration which would support community regeneration, promote recycling and develop renewable energy sources; and an amount to be provided as small grants for community groups to support local health, education and environment projects.

The order fulfils a second purpose. In the event that the Millennium Commission receives more than £2,286.5 million in the period up to 20th August 2001, the order ensures that any additional amount is transferred to NOF—in other words, the order acts as a cap on the Millennium Commission's income. I commend the order to the House. Together, the two orders give a coherent account of our plans for extending the funding of the Millennium Commission and redirecting the commission's funding to NOF after 20th August 2001. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 23rd November be approved [33rd Report from the Joint Committee, Session 1999–2000].—(Lord McIntosh of Haringey.)

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his clear explanation of the order. It indeed gives effect to the Government's intention that 33⅓of all lottery funds shall be handed over to the New Opportunities Fund when the commission completes its financing of the millennium projects next August as a result of these provisions.

In the past we have made our views and concerns about the New Opportunities Fund very clear. We believe that the fund diverts money which would otherwise have gone into the arts, sports, and good causes, as originally agreed by Parliament. I want to make it clear again today, as I have in the past, that I have absolutely nothing against the projects themselves; they are good causes in their own individual right. My objection is to the fact that the Government are taking money from the arts, sports and good causes lottery funds to provide for them.

The National Lottery was established in 1994 in order to,
"restore our heritage and promote projects which will become a source of national pride";
It became a massive success story. Lottery money has brought about a renaissance in the arts in Britain and it has revolutionised sport. Today, the Minister has referred to £750 million which will go through the New Opportunities Fund to sport in schools and for use by the wider community. But surely money such as this would be better channelled through Sport England, with its excellent track record, rather than being subject to the vagaries of lottery funds.

The Labour Party opposed much of the National Lottery scheme at its inception, saying that the Conservatives would use the proceeds as a surrogate for government expenditure. Time and again, during debate on the Bill in Committee in another place, Labour Members accused us of that—and it was untrue. The Conservative government presided over the lottery for three years and no such action was taken. That action was taken when this Government took over. My worry has always been that the creation of the New Opportunities Fund has made a mockery of the additionality principle under which the lottery fund was established.

We believe that the National Lottery should not be used to fund projects which should be the Government's core responsibility. The Government should have the courage to say which projects are worthy of core government funding and back them. We should not go on year after year committing projects to the New Opportunities Fund.

It is important that the projects that currently receive funding are not subject to any risk of losing it and thus losing their future security. We must all work to achieve that. Today, I shall not ask my noble friends to oppose the making of this order.

My Lords, it will come as no surprise to the Minister and other noble Lords that we on these Benches greet this order with less enthusiasm than we did the previous one. We disagreed in the first place with the redistribution of these moneys to areas that were a departure from the five original good causes. We have rehearsed these arguments on various occasions.

We have no objection to the New Opportunities Fund. We fully support the concept behind many of the projects listed by the Minister. He referred to the popular support for the use of lottery funds in areas such as health, education and the environment. There is no argument with that. Unlike many other countries in Europe, were they to face the same debate, in this country the prospect of lottery moneys going to the arts—it may be a question of language or of history and culture—is met in some cases with indignation and in many cases with reserve. If asked where they would like funds to go, many people in this country would say that they do not want money to go to the Royal Opera House, that they do not like going to museums and galleries and that they do not like Radio 3. There is a division in our society as regards the role of the arts and the good that they do. That is a fact of life. I know that the Minister fundamentally shares my views. He has been an effective, excellent Minister for the arts and we have had some excellent debates on various subjects in this House.

My noble friends on these Benches agree, as may other noble Lords, that it is a great pity that this escalation in the amount of money going to the New Opportunities Fund—from 13⅓ per cent to 33⅓ per cent as a result of the inclusion of Millennium Commission moneys—accentuates the problem. There may be an overlap in funding; there may be matters which can be dealt with by the New Opportunities Fund.

However, one considers, for example, the tragic events that recently took place in New Cross and in other deprived areas. I shall probably receive a measure of agreement from the noble Lord, Lord Cocks, who talks about "working-class interests" and "working-class areas", although they are not terms that I would use. It has been said on television by child psychologists and others that such projects as sports centres and new schools are not always the answer in terms of improving the lot of people living in abject misery. It is much more fundamental and basic than that; and the arts can do so much.

It is not a question of opening theatres or providing access to better television programmes or, indeed, organising trips to museums or to performances of Shakespeare. It is much more basic. People in this country, especially young people in deprived areas, need to know that there are new perspectives available to them that they could be enjoying. They need to know that there is a new quality of life, which is not currently open to them but which will be available if the arts are carefully projected, planned and funded. We were so overjoyed when the lottery was created, with approval by Parliament, because we believed that those areas would be covered. Such areas are not easy areas to deal with out of central taxation. Therefore, we are somewhat dejected that this trend to move away from the arts and sports into other areas seems to have become a part—an accelerating part—of the Government's programme.

There is nothing better for young people in deprived areas, as well as those in other areas, that will give them self-confidence, a feeling of self-worth and which will—probably more than anything else—unlock the creativity that is to be found within all of us. It enables people to do things that are positive in life rather than engaging in certain negative activities in deprived areas, such as, vandalism, absenteeism, crime, and so on. The trend that is illustrated in the order by way of the proposed shifting of funds, which were originally so welcomed by the arts community—as well as by the sports community, because sports play a similar though not as basic a role as the arts—is a fairly desolate progression.

I know that the Minister is sympathetic to our views. But perhaps the noble Lord can tell us in his reply whether the imbalance created by the order could in some way be corrected by the department. I know that both he and the Secretary of State basically share much of the thinking that I am trying in my inadequate way to articulate. I wonder whether they can redress this imbalance by finding further funding. That will enable better concentration in these areas to take place, so that this will seem less of a deprivation to the arts community.

My Lords, I am tempted to follow the noble Viscount who has just spoken, but the Minister and I debated these issues at length in the Moses Room when the legislation was before the House. I rise to speak because I am rather anxious on this occasion that the noble Lord should be spared embarrassment. I believe that he should qualify the answer that he gave very much on the spur of the moment about the extra £3.8 million, which he put down to some kind of celebration. I have the advantage of having the two comparative budgets in front of me today. I think it is very unfair that the noble Lord should be asked to produce an immediate answer. It is clear that the increase comes from an increase in the other close-down legacy costs. It would be wise for the noble Lord to seek further advice and, perhaps, return to the matter by placing the relevant information in the Library of the House, or by providing it in some other way. I shall certainly not hold it against him if he finds that he has to change the advice that he has been given—

My Lords, perhaps I may respond to the noble Lord now and say that I shall certainly do so.

My Lords, I am happy to accept the remarks of the noble Viscount, Lord Falkland, about deprived areas because I used to represent one of the most deprived areas in Bristol. In fact, the council has just closed the secondary school in the area, which was the heart of the community. It was labelled a "sink" school and castigated publicly by the authorities; and then those authorities closed it on the grounds that parents were reluctant to send their children to the school. I am afraid that my own Secretary of State endorsed this, although when I was the Member of Parliament for the area I managed to persuade Sir Keith Joseph to keep it open.

But what is becoming objectionable here is the blanket of secrecy about the source of this lottery money. It is the most successful lottery in the world, and produces an enormous revenue. But, basically, that comes from the working-class people of this country. They are the people who play the lottery. Yet there is no acknowledgement of that fact. We have been given figures this afternoon regarding so many million on one cause and so many million on another cause. We are told about a MORI poll relating to what people think about the question of whether 67 per cent should be spent on this, that and the other. The one thing that we are not told is who is actually playing the lottery and producing the cash.

As the Minister will know, I referred in an earlier debate on the matter to the conversations that I had with Camelot. I recalled how a very helpful person on the telephone said, "Oh, yes. We do survey the social classes that the money comes from, and there is a regular report". When I mentioned this in the House, as I told the Minister during that debate, I received a "snow job" of information from Camelot within days, followed by persistent questioning about who in the office had actually revealed this information. As your Lordships know, one does not give away one's sources. But we are still not told who are the players. We deserve to know that. When we are considering the allocation of the resources and where they should go, the people who are paying in should receive special attention.

Therefore, can there not be some proper acknowledgement of where this money is coming from, so that we can make a better judgment as to its disposal? As the noble Baroness said, basically things are now going on which would otherwise be funded by the Government—ergo, if it is the working class who are playing the lottery, it is a tax on the working class.

My Lords, I fully recognise that both the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, and the noble Viscount, Lord Falkland, are expressing concerns that they have held consistently and honourably since the origin of the New Opportunities Fund was established under the National Lottery Act 1998. They have not changed their views in that respect, and it is entirely appropriate that they should express them again. It is also entirely appropriate that I should give the same answers, because they are still true.

The first answer that I have to give is that, as we anticipated in 1998, increased receipts from the National Lottery into the National Lottery Distribution Fund have meant that there has been no loss in cash terms to the original four "good causes" of arts, sports, heritage and charities. Of course, there has been a loss in percentage of a larger figure, but money has not been taken away as a result of the creation of the New Opportunities Fund, or, indeed, of NESTA.

I believe that I should also repeat the argument that I used about additionality, because that is still true. The projects of the New Opportunities Fund add to, but do not substitute for, services that are already provided by government. The NOP's money is for specific, time-limited initiatives that are additional to core taxpayer-funded programmes. Sometimes they overlap with some of the projects that might be undertaken by the arts, sports, heritage or charities lottery distribution bodies. The example of sports facilities for schools and for wider communities, to which I referred when introducing this order and which the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, mentioned in her speech, is very appropriate.

The noble Baroness asked why the money should not he spent through Sport England. The answer is that there is no reason why it should not be. The New Opportunities Fund is a UK-wide provision, but there is no reason why Sport England and the other sports bodies in the other countries of the United Kingdom should not be involved. Indeed, they are being consulted to ensure that the money is targeted to achieve the maximum benefit for young people and the communities in which they live. So nothing has really changed since 1998. With this order, we are doing what we said we would do two years ago when the Millennium Commission came to an end. I understand and respect the reservations that the opposition parties have expressed regarding that provision, but we still do not accept the argument put forward.

As for my noble friend Lord Cocks, he has, as recently as Monday of this week, made the point that this is a regressive tax. I cannot contradict him because I ought to have the information but do not. As I said on Monday, this is a matter which in the first instance Camelot has a duty to establish. I rather think that the amounts paid by people in socio-economic groups C2, D and E are similar to or less than those paid by A, B, and C1s, but they probably account for a higher percentage of their income. I think that that is a proper definition of a "regressive tax". However, we shall see what information we can find on the subject and we shall see in what way we can best share it with the noble Lord, Lord Cocks, and with other Members of the House.

I want to say a few words to the noble Viscount, Lord Falkland, about arts provision. I entirely take his point that there is unfortunately in this country a great deal of public reservation about arts expenditure. That is expressed as reservation about expenditure on particular projects such as the Royal Opera House. However, one must consider the wonderful Great Court at the British Museum—that museum is visited by nearly 6 million people a year—and the projects which have until now been supported by the Millennium Fund and may be supported by the New Opportunities Fund in the future. I believe that the balance between arts, sport, heritage, charities and the new good causes of health, environment and education is a proper balance. On that basis I commend the order to the House.

On Question, Motion agreed to.