HC Deb 16 February 1988 vol 127 cc841-6 4.28 pm
Mr. Simon Burns (Chelmsford)

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to establish a national lottery to provide additional funds for the National Health Service; and for connected purposes. So that there may be no confusion as to the purpose of the Bill, I emphasise that it has nothing to do with Government funding of the Health Service, but seeks to raise funds over and above the record levels of Government spending, to provide equipment such as kidney machines and CAT scanners, to help with building programmes such as the one at the Great Ormond street hospital and to reduce waiting lists.

Comic Relief, Band Aid and many other charitable fund-raising activities on a local level over many years have shown that there is a rich seam of good will towards deserving causes. Many countries which have completely diverse political directions run lotteries. Communist Russia has a lottery, and many of the free-enterprise states of America have lotteries. Socialist Spain and conservative West Germany have lotteries, as does cohabiting France.

To see the potential success of raising additional funds, one has only to look at the record of those lotteries. In 1983, in the 23 states of America that had lotteries, $5 billion was raised in sales revenue. Last year that figure had jumped to over $12 billion. If we assume that between 40 and 45 per cent. of the takings were spent on health, education or senior citizens in those American states, we are talking about a substantial sum of money. The same pattern is reflected in Europe. The French lottery in 1983 raised £1.7 billion through sales revenue; West Germany raised £1.8 billion; and last year the sales revenue in Spain was £3.5 billion.

The development of computer technology is making the running of lotteries infinitely safer and less likely to be the subject of fraud or chicanery. I envisage that we would have between 17,000 and 25,000 retail sales outlets at confectioners and tobacconists, with machines similar to cash registers which are connected to a central computer, so that information and winning numbers can be transmitted instantaneously.

The average price of a ticket, depending on the scheme to be introduced, would be £1, which is within the range of most people over the age of 18. That is less than the price of a pint of beer or a packet of cigarettes. To make the proposition attractive, substantial cash prizes would be offered, with the possibility that if one was successful in one week the main prize money would be rolled over to the next week, as is done in the United States. In that way, people would have the excitement of hoping to win some money and at the same time giving money to a genuine good cause that they want to help.

For too long we have not given thought to organising a lottery; now is the time. While we are debating the review of the Health Service and its efficiency and ways of raising funds, a lottery should be seriously considered as a way of involving the country in a worthwhile exercise. For that reason, I beg the House to approve the motion.

4.33 pm
Mr. Dave Nellist (Coventry, South-East)

The hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Burns) carries the heavy burden of having been described by The Daily Telegraph on 14 December last year as a "cerebral Thatcherite zealot" and one to watch when picking the next-prime-ministers-but-three. The most useful contribution of this short debate is a clue to the direction in which the Tory Right wishes the country to go; that is its only use.

The last major investigation into national lotteries was the Royal Commission on Gambling in 1978, which warned against transplanting lotteries from Europe and America into Britain. The hon. Gentleman quoted some figures from the Peacock report which looked at the financing of the BBC by lotteries. He gave the sales figures of the lotteries, not the revenue figures after deducting the cost of prizes and administration.

In the American states the hon. Gentleman mentioned, the highest amount raised by a lottery was £200 million; in France it was £540 million; in Spain it was £690 million; and in Germany it was £910 million. Those figures are based on December 1987 prices and exchange rates. Even if his harebrained scheme were successful, the money raised would amount to 10 to 15 per cent. of the current underfunding of the National Health Service being met by a lottery.

The biggest caveat is that in all those countries there are no pools or premium bonds—and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) has said, no bingo, casinos, horse racing or dogs. Vast amounts of money are spent on gambling in this country. Last year, £4.5 billion was spent on horse racing and dogs, £1.6 billion was spent in casinos, £775 million was spent on bingo and £600 million was spent on the pools. If the hon. Gentleman were serious about raising money for the NHS, he should have brought forward a Bill to nationalise horse racing, casinos, bingo and the pools to raise money for the National Health Service. But that would take away some of his mates' profits, so that would be the last thing in this mind.

Does the hon. Gentleman want to promote gambling? Is that what the Prime Minister means when she talks about Victorian values? Are we to have television advertisements promoting gambling, such as the advertisements for BP shares, with a 1980s equivalent of Hughie Green talking about doubling our money? Has he talked to the Treasury about the tax revenue from the pools, which is about £250 million a year?

All the investigations on this issue have concluded that a lottery would be successful only at the expense of the pools, premium bonds and small lotteries run by charities and sports clubs. I assume that that is why Baroness Trumpington said a year ago that her Department's estimate was that at best a lottery would raise £50 million. That £50 million would be less than 3 per cent. of the current level of underfunding of the NHS.

The hon. Gentleman, in his article in The Times yesterday, talked about Band Aid, Comic Relief and telethons, and the generosity of young people. Yet the Government, days after the first Band Aid concert in July 1985, rewarded all those young people by abolishing the wages councils for under-21-year-olds and now intend to abolish supplementary benefit for 16 and 17-year-olds—precisely the same young people who are expected to have money in their pockets to contribute to charities.

The hon. Gentleman talked about computer technology. Did he not watch the "Horizon" programme on BBC2 last year? If he wants to improve computer technology, he should look first at the Civil Aviation Authority at West Drayton, which has a 17-year-old computer and desperately needs money for a new one. We need computers in the NHS for recall systems for cervical cancer screening and to reduce the waiting lists, not to pick out numbers for a lottery.

The NHS has real problems in the west midlands. Those problems have been described graphically today by my hon. Friends the Members for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Ms. Walley) and for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick). In the past few months, hardly a family in the west midlands has not been troubled by the crisis in the National Health Service. Over this past weekend, we as a region have grieved over the two deaths and the other deaths in recent months which have been caused by the Prime Minister's lottery — whether the raffle system works, whether our bairns get their operations when they need them at the Birmingham children's hospital. This weekend, two children lost their gamble My region had £30 million cut from its funding this year, and over the past six years, according to the Select Committee on Social Services the nation has lost almost £2,000 million from its National Health Service funding. There is only one source for that finance, and it is not the ideas of the loony Right. On 15 March, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will offer a reported £3 billion to £4 billion in tax cuts to the richest 5 per cent. of the population. He should put at least £2,000 million of that into the Health Service to cure the underfunding and £500 million into improving the wages and conditions of those who work in the Health Service.

We are told that there are 21 rich countries in the world. Britain is 17th in the league when it comes to funding the Health Service. What are the consequences of that? I have spoken about the consequences in personal terms. Last year, for the first time since 1970, infant mortality in this country rose. That is light years away from a Tory Cabinet stuffed with BUPA cards in its back pocket and from a Secretary of State for Social Services who could afford £1,000 a week when he was ill before Christmas.

The underfunding has taken its toll on Health Service staff. Twenty-seven thousand nurses join the Health Service each year, but 30,000 leave each year. Sixty nurses a week leave the Health Service. That is not surprising, when nursing auxiliaries start at only £90 a week. That is the problem that needs curing in the Health Service.

According to a local newspaper in my constituency, a state-enrolled nurse in Coventry asked for five light bulbs to be replaced on a ward last November, and she is still waiting. Patients are being treated in corridors because 100 beds have been closed. A geriatric hospital is due for closure, if the Government approve the closure plans. Before Christmas, physically and mentally handicapped people, from children to old-age pensioners, suffered the supreme indignity of being told that there was no more money to supply incontinence pads in Coventry. Some of my constituents and drying out used incontinence pads on radiators overnight so that their parents can use them the next day.

Then the loony Right comes in and says, "Let's solve the problems with raffle tickets. Let's salve our conscience by having a bit of a flutter." We do not need escapism; we need a bit of realism from the Government. We need the £2,000 million which it is estimated is needed to solve underfunding of the Health Service.

There is huge, widespread and deep anger among working people in this country about the callous indifference of the Cabinet towards the Health Service. In the past few months, health workers have come out on strike everywhere — today, it is COHSE members in south-east London and Kent. Next Wednesday, Scottish workers will come out on strike. On 5 March, the TUC will hold a national rally in London, which I predict will be bigger than the industrial relations rallies of the early 1970s. COHSE has called for 14 March, the day before the Budget, to be a national day of action in support of the Health Service. That will receive enormous support throughout the country, particularly from young people.

We cannot end the suffering of hundreds of thousands of families or improve the working conditions of Health Service workers through raffles, jumble sales or lotteries. We can do that only through the industrial action of workers on 14 March, nationally and in a generalised fashion, to force the Government to give back the money which they have robbed from working people 'n recent years. The hon. Member for Chelmsford and his hon. Friends should wipe the smiles off their faces. The day that they come forward with a proposal for a lottery or a flag day for Trident, we could think about a lottery for the National Health Service.

Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 19 (Motions for leave to bring in Bills and nomination of Select Committees at commencement of public business):

The House divided: Ayes 121, Noes 164.

Division No. 180] [4.45 pm
Alexander, Richard French, Douglas
Arbuthnot, James Gale, Roger
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Gardiner, George
Ashby, David Glyn, Dr Alan
Atkinson, David Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Gower, Sir Raymond
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')
Blackburn, Dr John G. Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Hampson, Dr Keith
Boswell, Tim Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Holt, Richard
Bowis, John Hordern, Sir Peter
Brazier, Julian Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Brittan, Rt Hon Leon Hunter, Andrew
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Irvine, Michael
Browne, John (Winchester) Irving, Charles
Buck, Sir Antony Janman, Tim
Burns, Simon Jessel, Toby
Butler, Chris Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Butterfill, John Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Carrington, Matthew Kilfedder, James
Cartwright, John Kirkhope, Timothy
Chapman, Sydney Knapman, Roger
Colvin, Michael Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Conway, Derek Knox, David
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Latham, Michael
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Lawrence, Ivan
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Davis, David (Boothferry) McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)
Devlin, Tim Malins, Humfrey
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Mans, Keith
Fairbairn, Nicholas Marland, Paul
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Fookes, Miss Janet Meyer, Sir Anthony
Forth, Eric Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Fox, Sir Marcus Monro, Sir Hector
Franks, Cecil Morrison, Hon Sir Charles
Moss, Malcolm Speller, Tony
Nelson, Anthony Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Stokes, John
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley Summerson, Hugo
Paice, James Temple-Morris, Peter
Patnick, Irvine Thorne, Neil
Pawsey, James Thornton, Malcolm
Porter, David (Waveney) Townend, John (Bridlington)
Redwood, John Tracey, Richard
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Riddick, Graham Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Watts, John
Rossi, Sir Hugh Wiggin, Jerry
Rost, Peter Wilshire, David
Shaw, David (Dover) Winterton, Nicholas
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Shelton, William (Streatham) Tellers for the Ayes:
Shersby, Michael Mr. Nicholas Bennett and
Sims, Roger Miss Ann Widdecombe
Skeet, Sir Trevor
Abbott, Ms Diane Cummings, John
Allen, Graham Cunliffe, Lawrence
Anderson, Donald Darling, Alistair
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Dewar, Donald
Armstrong, Hilary Dixon, Don
Ashdown, Paddy Doran, Frank
Ashton, Joe Duffy, A. E. P.
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Dunnachie, Jimmy
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Eastham, Ken
Battle, John Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)
Beckett, Margaret Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)
Beith, A. J. Fatchett, Derek
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Fearn, Ronald
Blunkett, David Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Boyes, Roland Fisher, Mark
Bradley, Keith Flannery, Martin
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Flynn, Paul
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Fyfe, Maria
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Galbraith, Sam
Buckley, George J. Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Golding, Mrs Llin
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Gordon, Mildred
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Graham, Thomas
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Clay, Bob Grocott, Bruce
Clelland, David Harman, Ms Harriet
Cohen, Harry Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Coleman, Donald Haynes, Frank
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Heffer, Eric S.
Cousins, Jim Henderson, Doug
Cox, Tom Hinchliffe, David
Cryer, Bob Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Holland, Stuart Pike, Peter L.
Home Robertson, John Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Howells, Geraint Primarolo, Dawn
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Radice, Giles
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Randall, Stuart
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Hume, John Reid, Dr John
Ingram, Adam Richardson, Jo
Janner, Greville Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
John, Brynmor Robertson, George
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Robinson, Geoffrey
Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn) Rogers, Allan
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Rooker, Jeff
Lambie, David Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Lamond, James Rowlands, Ted
Leadbitter, Ted Ruddock, Joan
Lewis, Terry Salmond, Alex
Litherland, Robert Sedgemore, Brian
Livingstone, Ken Sheerman, Barry
Livsey, Richard Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Short, Clare
McAllion, John Skinner, Dennis
McAvoy, Thomas Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
McCartney, Ian Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
McFall, John Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West) Soley, Clive
McLeish, Henry Spearing, Nigel
McWilliam, John Steinberg, Gerry
Madden, Max Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Marek, Dr John Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn) Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Maxton, John Turner, Dennis
Meacher, Michael Vaz, Keith
Michael, Alun Wall, Pat
Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute) Walley, Joan
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Wareing, Robert N.
Moonie, Dr Lewis Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Morgan, Rhodri Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Morley, Elliott Wigley, Dafydd
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Mowlam, Marjorie Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Mullin, Chris Wilson, Brian
Murphy, Paul Winnick, David
Nellist, Dave Worthington, Tony
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Young, David (Bolton SE)
O'Neill, Martin
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Tellers for the Noes:
Parry, Robert Mrs. Alice Mahon and
Patchett, Terry Mr. Bill Michie.

Question accordingly negatived.

Mr. Nellist

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Having won three of these debates in a row, may I keep the Mace, or have I to fight the right hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) for it?