HC Deb 07 February 1994 vol 237 cc5-7
5. Mr. Tyler

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what criteria he would expect to be used in deciding the location of the national lottery operation.

Mr. Brooke

The location of the national lottery operation is a matter for the applicants for the main licence to operate the lottery to consider in making their applications to the director general. I cannot comment on the criteria that they might use in making their decision.

Mr. Tyler

Does the Secretary of State agree that the national lottery will be a success only if, as well as distributing its funds to good causes, national economic and employment objectives are met? Does he agree with the view of the Minister at the Department of Employment, who said this week that there are sound labour market reasons for locating the headquarters of the lottery in Cornwall? Does he accept the view of all the people of Cornwall, of all parties, backed by the county council which took the initiative, that this should be a case of Cornwall first?

Mr. Brooke

Some of my hon. Friends might think that the hon. Gentleman was leading with his chin by asking that question, as his party and his colleagues voted against the Bill on Second and Third Readings. Having said that, I recognise that he has joined my hon. Friend the Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Coe) to press Cornwall's cause.

I have issued directions to the director general that, consistent with his duties under section 4 of the National Lottery etc. Act 1993, location must be taken into account in assessing any bids. I dare say that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary would have sound labour reasons for the lottery being located in a number of different places in the kingdom.

Mr. Waterson

Will not many new jobs be created by the establishment of the national lottery headquarters? When making recommendations about the relevant criteria, will my right hon. Friend be able to suggest that they entirely exclude the constituencies of Members such as the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler), who asked the question and is a member of a party which was against the idea? Also, will he consider including Eastbourne in the list of potential sites?

Mr. Brooke

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for drawing attention to the contribution that the national lottery will make to the economy. To be fair to the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler), he avoided voting on the matter on Second and Third Readings. His is yet another of those cases to which I have referred of running with the hare and then apologising to the hounds when they catch up.

Ms Eagle

Will the Secretary of State consider carefully Merseyside's claims to be the home for the national lottery, in recognition of the high unemployment rates in the region and especially as the House had long and important debates about the effect that the lottery will have on employment in the football pools industry?

Mr. Brooke

The case that the hon. Lady raises was mentioned frequently during our debates. The Act states that it is for the director general to decide on the site, but contractors who are bidding to run the lottery will no doubt take the considerations that she mentioned into account when formulating their bids.

Mr. Simon Coombs

Besides excluding the constituencies of hon. Members who have demonstrated their opposition to the national lottery, would not it be sensible to consider areas of the country where there is a reasonable chance of finding staff trained in information technology and which have good communication links with London? Can he think of any other criteria that I might suggest to help with Swindon's bid?

Mr. Brooke

I said in my original answer that it was for the bidders to make their decisions, but my hon. Friend is right about the scale of the opportunity. I have been criticised for making conservative forecasts of how successful the lottery will be and I am delighted that other people think that it will be still more successful.

Ms Mowlam

As the Secretary of State has made it clear that he will abdicate on the criteria for the location of the lottery and as he is clearly going to abdicate on the criteria under which the five funds that have been set up will allocate the money, will he at least assure the House that, when the announcements are made for the Millennium Commission in the near future, we will not get the sort of sleaze that we have had with other quangos and that the commission will not have a majority of Tory sympathisers?

Mr. Brooke

I found the language in the first part of the hon. Lady's question slightly curious, given the way in which the Act is drawn. It is all very well for the hon. Lady to say that I am abdicating my responsibility. The Act makes it perfectly clear where the responsibility lies and that is with the director general.

Mr. John Marshall

Does my right hon. Friend accept that those who work for the national lottery will tend to be doing office jobs and that London is the part of the country where people have the greatest experience of office work? The logical place for the headquarters of the national lottery is therefore London.

Mr. Brooke

It is difficult for me to find another form of words to say that those matters are not my responsibility. The invitation to apply reflects the intent of the directions that I have issued to the director general, by drawing attention to the importance of location because of its effect on operating costs and therefore on the contributions to the national lottery distribution fund.

Back to