HC Deb 31 October 1994 vol 248 cc1196-7
4. Mr. Simon Coombs

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will make a statement on the issue of guidelines for applications for funds from the proceeds of the national lottery.

Mr. Dorrell

As I have already said, I understand that most of the distributing bodies intend to publish their guidelines for applicants in November.

Mr. Coombs

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that answer. Does he agree that the success of the national lottery is dependent on the widest possible spread of applications being made and, indeed, on many of them being successful? Does he agree that user-friendliness should be the key to the applications? When he reviews and gives his view on them, will he ensure that people are encouraged to opt in, rather than in any way to opt out, by making the guidelines on who may apply and be successful as wide as possible?

Mr. Dorrell

It is obviously important that the guidelines communicate the purpose for which the lottery was established and the rules that the distributing bodies will apply in making their decisions. With that proviso, I agree with my hon. Friend that the lottery's success will be determined, in part, by the quality and range of the applications received by the distributor bodies. I would encourage any organisation that feels that it has a project that could benefit from lottery funding to get in touch with its distributor body and ensure that its project meets the criteria laid down.

Mr. Maxton

When issuing guidelines to the various sports councils about how the money will be distributed, will the Secretary of State make it clear that they should not give money or grants to any sport that discriminates against women's participation?

Mr. Dorrell

I am sure that it is the sports councils' policy not to distribute resources from the lottery or any other source to sporting bodies that engage in such discrimination.

Mr. Jessel

Does my right hon. Friend think that more funds will be raised than was thought in the original, and apparently rather cautious, estimates?

Mr. Dorrell

I have very good news for my hon. Friend. Our original estimates were quite cautious when set against those offered by Camelot in its offer for the licence. It estimates that, at its peak, the lottery will raise £1.6 billion a for the five good causes—an increase in resources for those activities in our national life on a scale that could not have been envisaged from any other source.

Ms Hoey

Does the Secretary of State agree that the success of the national lottery will depend very much on whether the public feel totally confident that the maximum amount of money is going to good causes? Will he assure us that he will keep a careful watch on Camelot's profits, as other bidders wanted to run the lottery without making a profit? How will he monitor that?

Mrs. Dorrell

Opposition Members have a unique capacity to focus on the wrong thing. In an earlier question, we discussed television ownership, and concern was expressed not about the rights of the viewer but about profits and shareholders. In the lottery, the key is not the profits earned by Camelot but the scale of the resources raised for good causes as a result of the lottery. The director general of Oflot is bound to apply that criterion when selecting licensees, and it is precisely the criterion that he applied when reaching the conclusion that Camelot offered the best deal to the distributor bodies of the various applicants for the lottery.