HC Deb 27 February 1995 vol 255 cc683-4
17. Mr. Hawkins

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what representations he has received on the timing of distribution of national lottery funds for good causes; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Dorrell

I have received a number of representations from members of the public and others expressing a variety of views.

Mr. Hawkins

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. Will he bear it in mind that the historic success of the national lottery—which has so captured the public's imagination and is an enormous credit to the bravery of those in the Government who decided to push ahead with it in the face of much carping and unfair criticism from the Opposition—must be reinforced by ensuring that the funds raised are distributed in a timely manner and to good causes?

Mr. Dorrell

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I assure him that arrangements are proceeding to ensure that the distributer bodies make the first announcements of lottery distribution decisions within the next few weeks. As my hon. Friend said, I am confident that they will reflect a major step forward in funding not only sport, the arts and heritage but, ultimately, through the millennium fund and the charities board, those activities that will result from the decision of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to introduce the lottery.

Mr. Olner

What has happened to the lottery moneys that are waiting to be distributed to those bodies? How transparent are Camelot's accounting procedures? What is happening to the interest that is accruing on the millions of pounds that are still waiting to be distributed?

Mr. Dorrell

Each week Camelot pays the amount available for good causes into the national loans distribution fund, where it is invested in public sector instruments and collects interest which accrues to the benefit of the distribution fund. So far, that interest amounts to more than £1 million.

Mr. Jessel

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the projection for the sums available for good causes is substantially larger than originally forecast and, if so, should we not all take credit for what is a brilliant national achievement?

Mr. Dorrell

My hon. Friend is quite right to say that the amounts being raised by the lottery week after week are substantially greater than the estimates that were offered when the legislation was introduced. They are also higher than the more ambitious figures that were published around the time when the licence was granted. My hon. Friend is absolutely right to say that the lottery is a substantial success which has unlocked a new source of funding for various good causes that could not reasonably be anticipated to come from any other source.