HC Deb 22 February 1993 vol 219 c665
4. Mr. Knox

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage when he expects funds to be available for distribution from the national lottery.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for National Heritage (Mr. Robert Key)

We hope that the licence to run the national lottery will be awarded later this year, and the national lottery will be operational towards the end of 1994. Funds will be available for distribution shortly after the lottery starts up.

Mr. Knox

Will my hon. Friend give an assurance that the main objective of the national lottery, which is to improve the quality of life, will not be diluted?

Mr. Key

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for pointing out the importance of not diluting the main objective of the lottery. It is true that we seek to have the best national lottery in the world, but, of course, it is also true that concerns have been expressed by small and charitable lotteries, the charities themselves, the pools industry and others. All the concerned bodies are being listened to with great care in Committee, but we are dealing with the problem by ensuring that 20 per cent. of proceeds go to charities and by the enhancement of small lotteries. It will, indeed, be a very British lottery.

Mrs. Clwyd

When the National Lottery etc. Bill was first published, the Minister pledged that the revenue raised from the lottery would be truly additional and would not be a substitute for Government funding. Does the Minister agree that when hundreds of local arts and sports organisations are being savagely cut because of the revenue support grant, the lottery pledge of additionality rings very hollow and, along with many other Government promises, should be taken with a large pinch of salt?

Mr. Key

I do not think that the hon. Lady understands local government finance. Most of the local government equation—priorities within it must be for local authorities —is based on the principle of revenue funding. The whole point of the national lottery is that the vast proportion will be concerned with capital funding.

Mr. Tracey

Could my hon. Friend go a little further and say when he envisages the appointment of the director general of the Office of the National Lottery which will be an important part of the operation? Is he aware that a great deal of expertise is already available in the operation of lotteries, and it is estimated that the national lottery could be up and running successfully by the spring of next year?

Mr. Key

Nothing would please me more. I hope that we shall be able to proceed to the appointment of the director general of Oflot as soon as Royal Assent has been granted. In order to achieve that, we must make speedy progress in Committee.

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