§ 42. Mr. Channon
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware that holders of Premium Bonds today have far less chance of winning a prize than at the inception of the scheme; and whether he will increase the total sum payable as prize money.
§ Mr. Barber
There has been no change in the rate of interest or the prize structure and, apart from the exceptional first draw when all the eligible bonds contributed six months interest to the prize fund, there has only been a slight lengthening of the odds as the proportion of bonds entering for the first time, and so contributing six months interest, has decreased.
The Answer to the second part of the Question is that the prize fund is already increasing with the increase of bonds in each draw and my right hon. Friend 1337 does not consider it desirable to make any change at present in the rate of interest.
§ Mr. Channon
While thanking my hon. Friend for that reply, may I ask him whether he agrees that as time goes on the odds against winning a prize will get steadily longer? Is not this becoming a serious and growing disincentive to people to hold Premium Bonds?
§ Mr. Barber
I think it is true to say that there is a tendency as time goes on for the odds to lengthen, but there is no question of this happening to any great extent. Perhaps I can best explain this by saying that if one excludes the first draw, which I think everybody agrees was exceptional, in the first six months of normal draws the average odds against a bond winning in a draw was just under 9,600 to 1, whereas in the last six months they have been 10,900 to 1. The lengthening of the odds is thus less than 15 per cent. Even if, which everybody knows is most unlikely, people were not to subscribe for bonds, the worst which could possibly happen would be a lengthening of the odds from 10,900 to 1, as at present, to 12,700 to 1. The suggestion which my hon. Friend has made is not borne out by the facts. I do not want to delay the House any more, but it is important that hon. Members should realise that these bonds are being successful. They are being sold in large numbers, the prize money last time was larger than on any of the previous occasions and the number of bonds now held by the public is greater than at any previous time.