HC Deb 25 January 1993 vol 217 cc698-9
7. Mr. O'Hara

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what representations he has had from representatives of charities and voluntary organisations about the likely impact of a national lottery; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Key

I have received a number of representations from representatives of charities and voluntary organisa-tions about the likely impact of a national lottery. They include organisations such as the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, the Charities Aid Foundation and the Association of Charitable Foundations.

Mr. O'Hara

Does the Minister accept that the vast majority of the proceeds of the lottery—if it is introduced —will be collected at local level? Does he accept that that money would otherwise have been spent on local charities, and that a disproportionate amount will be contributed by people on low incomes? Does he agree that if such a lottery is introduced, the mechanism for distributing the proceeds should ensure that local charities and voluntary organisations are not penalised, and can continue to serve the people who need them most?

Mr. Key

I do not accept that most of the money that may be spent on a national lottery will come from what would otherwise have gone to local charities. It is precisely because we wish to protect and, indeed, enhance local charities—whether they are private or local authority charities—that we are changing the law in the National Lottery etc. Bill, so that better prizes and bigger turnovers will be allowed for small charities.

The evidence suggests—and I firmly believe—that we shall attract a completely new market and that the whole community, right across the kingdom, will receive the overall benefit. That is an important point. It will not be a question of a few grand projects in London; that is why we are setting up the distribution mechanism that we propose.

Mr. Burns

When my hon. Friend considers the representations that he has received from charities and voluntary organisations, may I ask him not to allow himself to be seduced by the special pleading of the football pools? Does he accept that prior to the introduction of a national lottery, the nearest thing that this country has ever had to a national lottery is the football pools? Apart from the money that they give to football, they are profitable organisations. They are organising a self-motivated, self-interested special plead-ing to defend their special interests and privileged position.

Mr. Key

Yes, of course my hon. Friend is absolutely right. I respect entirely the very strong representaions that have been made by Members of Parliament who represent constituencies where the football pools are based, but there should be no doubt in anyone's mind that the football pools, which are extremely profitable, should continue to be profitable under the new arrangements. However, that is profit for the private sector, and what the national lottery will address is the wider public good.