HC Deb 15 June 1992 vol 209 cc641-2
9. Mr. Alton

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what assessment he has made of the impact on the pools industry of the introduction of a national lottery.

Mr. Mellor

The consultation period on the White Paper finished on 1 June. We have had a number of responses from the pools industry. We shall be considering its views, and those of other respondents, before bringing forward proposals for legislation.

Mr. Alton

Will the Secretary of State confirm that in the course of examination of the implications of the national lottery he will look at examples elsewhere in the world? Does he recognise that there is no example anywhere in the world of a pools industry thriving alongside a national lottery? Given that the football pools industry employs 6,500 people, mainly women, that last year £300 million came into the national Exchequer from football pools, and that in areas such as Greater Liverpool many people depend on the pools for their jobs, will he give great consideration to the consequences for those employed and consider bringing a national lottery, should there be one, to an area such as Merseyside to compensate for the jobs that will be lost?

Mr. Mellor

I shall certainly bear those points in mind, along with the others made. One is always keen to look at international experience, although I am not sure how well developed pools industries are in other countries compared with that in our own. I want the national lottery to be a great success, as I believe do most hon. Members. I do not see the national lottery as meaning the end of the football pools. Far from it—many people who do the football pools will continue to do so: it is part of their way of life. The hon. Gentleman should not be too gloomy about the future of the football pools.

Sir Ivan Lawrence

rose— [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I begin by congratulating my right hon. and learned Friend on his inspired appointment. Is he aware that nowhere in Europe has a national lottery killed off a football pools industry where the football industry is strong and the pools industry is efficient? Can he tell us whether any of the pools in Britain have applied to run the national lottery, and whether he has told them that if they are so feeble and weak that they cannot bear the idea of competition they will not be much use running the national lottery?

Mr. Mellor

My hon. and learned Friend will have noted the pleasure that his knighthood has given his many friends in the House and I join them in congratulating him.

I wish to consider with care a number of issues relating to the football pools. I believe that it is absolutely clear that the industry can continue, and that it cannot and does not expect to have the right of veto over other developments. I cannot help feeling that the national lottery, as my hon. and learned Friend proved in a debate that he instigated a few months ago, is an idea whose time has come. We want to ensure that the maximum benefit from the proceeds of the national lottery goes to the many things that we all care about, but which, unfortunately, are never in pole position to obtain major increases from the Treasury.