HC Deb 26 June 1995 vol 262 cc553-6
7. Mrs. Clwyd

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will make a statement on the impact of the national lottery on good causes. [28748]

Mr. Dorrell

The national lottery is already having a major impact on sport, arts and heritage activity throughout the country. About £673 million has been raised for good causes by the lottery, and £95 million has been awarded to a total of 486 projects. I am today placing in the Libraries of both Houses a report giving details of the projects supported to date.

Mr. Clwyd

As there is no longer a Secretary of State for Wales, may I ask the Minister to look sympathetically at the problems of the Welsh-based cancer charity, Tenovus, which has had to finish its own lottery because it could no longer sustain it? That lottery provided 50 per cent. of its income. May I ask him to consider the possibility of giving Tenovus, and charities like it, some type of compensation for the effect that the national lottery has obviously had on its activities?

Mr. Dorrell

The hon. Lady is wrong to say that there is no Secretary of State for Wales. Downing street made it clear this morning that my right hon. Friend the Member for Wirral, West (Mr. Hunt) is conducting the duties of the Secretary of State for Wales.

On the hon. Lady's question about Tenovus, she will know that there is different experience in different parts of the charities world since the introduction of the national lottery. For example, the takings of the UK charities lottery, which operates a scratch-card lottery alongside Instants, have increased by roughly 50 per cent. since the introduction of the Instants game, so the suggestion that the national lottery has had a uniform effect on charities funding is simply not correct.

However, the Government recognise that the national lottery has an effect on those activities which operate alongside it, and that is why my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary is working with the charities world to ensure that we properly understand the effect of the lottery on charitable funding.

Mr. Waterson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, if he is looking for examples of good causes that have already benefited from the national lottery, he need look no further than Cavendish school in my constituency, which recently received notification of a grant of well over £200,000 for an activity centre and related activities?

Mr. Dorrell

My hon. Friend quotes one example from a list of nearly 500 valuable projects where lottery money is being used to enhance the level of provision for sports, arts and heritage activities in Britain, not to mention the support that will flow from the Charities Board and the imaginative range of projects that were listed, 10 days ago, for further assessment by the Millennium Commission.

Mr. Faulds

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that there are a number still of old-fashioned and moral Scots in the House, who vastly disapprove of public gambling and the appalling social consequences of such practices? Will he accept—not much of a hope with the modern Tory party—that heritage and the arts should be a direct responsibility of Government and not of those who are tempted to buy scratch cards during the week?

Mr. Dorrell

I have seen lots of unlikely scenes in the House, but that of the hon. Gentleman as an advocate for old-fashioned moral Presbyterianism is a proposition that is entirely new to me. The hon. Gentleman's suggestion that the Government should continue to accept responsibility for funding for the arts and for sport activity in Britain is not controversial, because the Government have made it entirely clear that we intend to continue to observe our obligations in that regard.

The lottery has, however, unlocked a new source of funds—on a scale which has been offered by no British Government in history—for an activity which I had always thought the hon. Gentleman considered important. I would have hoped that the hon. Gentleman would want to welcome new sources of support for an activity which he thinks, and certainly regularly says, is important.

Mr. John Marshall

Will my right hon. Friend consider reapportioning the proceeds of the national lottery so that more goes to charity, which currently gets only 8p out of every pound spent, and slightly less to some of high-falutin' projects associated with culture, theatre and other minority tastes?

Mr. Dorrell

The allocation of the money available from the national lottery for good causes was, of course, the subject of debate when the legislation establishing it went through the House. It is perfectly true that it can be reassessed, but to reassess it within three months of the beginning of the distribution process is a trifle previous.

Mr. Dafis

Although I welcome the Secretary of State's undertaking to examine the position of Tenovus, we are looking for a firmer undertaking than that. Is he aware that Tenovus has now made it clear that its research programmes, including a research programme conducted in my constituency at the university of Wales, Aberystwyth, will have to be discontinued unless it is able to obtain additional funding? Is he aware that Tenovus has prepared a checklist of six possibilities for changing the way in which moneys are distributed? Will he now undertake that at least one or more of those possibilities are implemented to ensure that Tenovus can continue to conduct its important research?

Mr. Dorrell

No. I have made it clear that we shall look at the effect of the national lottery on the charitable sector as a whole. We shall not seek to assess the performance of individual charities, because they are influenced by a wide range of factors, not least the individual choice of people who give money to charities.

The hon. Gentleman would be wrong to believe—he certainly did not suggest it in his question—that the effect of the national lottery has been uniformly to undermine the effectiveness of charitable lotteries. That has not been the experience. The Government have said that we shall consider the effect of the national lottery on the charitable sector as a whole, but we certainly shall not look at its effect on individual charities, because they are affected by a wide range of factors, of which the national lottery is only one.

8. Sir Fergus Montgomery

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what is his assessment of the national lottery's effect on the sporting culture of the United Kingdom. [28749]

Mr. Sproat

The national lottery represents a major boost for sport. So far, 35 different sports have benefited.

Sir Fergus Montgomery

Does my hon. Friend agree that the national lottery will give an enormous boost to sport in the United Kingdom because it will mean more new sports centres and sports scholarships and will encourage international athletes?

Mr. Sproat

My hon. Friend makes an extremely important series of points. So far, some 292 different projects around the country have benefited. When the lottery is operating to its fullest extent, we expect about an extra £320 million a year to go to sport.

Ms Eagle

Is the Minister aware of the increasing worries that a gambling culture is taking hold because of the scale of the national lottery, especially its prizes? Does he agree that that seems to have gone all the way to the top and affected the current incumbent of No. 10, who took an appalling gamble, which he looks set to lose, last Thursday?

Mr. Sproat

I do not agree with the latter part of the hon. Lady's comments. As to the first part, the lottery is benefiting not only sport—to the tune, I hope, of some £320 million pounds a year—but the arts, charities, the built heritage and the millennium fund.

Mr. Hawkins

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is most important that this is new money that would not previously have gone towards sporting ventures? In particular, it gives an opportunity for us to provide new facilities for elite sport. We hope that the beginning of the rebuilding of our sporting excellence will be when England beat the West Indies later this afternoon.

Mr. Sproat

I hope that my hon. Friend is right in his latter prediction. As to facilities, sport has benefited so far to the tune of, I think, £45.22 million, most of which has gone to capital facilities. I look forward to seeing even that sum increased.

9. Mr. Jim Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what guidelines he is planning to introduce for national lottery funds to be used to enhance disabled people's opportunities in sport. [28750]

Mr. Sproat

My right hon. Friend drew attention to the importance of national lottery funded facilities being widely accessible to people with disabilities in a letter which he sent in June 1994 to the chairman of the distributing bodies covering his directions under section 26 of the National Lottery etc. Act 1993. No further guidance is planned.

Mr. Cunningham

Is the Minister aware that the Secretary of State probably sent that letter to the organiser of the national lottery because I wrote to the right hon. Gentleman asking when action was going to be taken? While the Government are considering funding, will they also consider matching that funding pound for pound to help local authorities assist organisations, because it is going to be an extremely costly and slow process?

Mr. Sproat

As the hon. Gentleman will know, local authorities are usually, or very often, part of a partnership that puts a substantial part of the money towards any project that is partially funded by the lottery. What the hon. Gentleman wants is already happening most of the time.

Mr. Harry Greenway

Has my hon. Friend heard of the apparent distress caused to some people who have won as much as £17 million or £18 million on the lottery? Does he have any plans to limit the top win to £5 million, even if that means changing the rollover programme? Would that not make more money available for disabled sportsmen and everyone else?

Mr. Sproat

My hon. Friend raises an important point to which, I know, many people have directed their minds. However, the Government have no plans to do as he asks, for one simple reason. Experience has shown that the larger the jackpot, the more people buy tickets; the more tickets that are bought, the more money is available for the distributing bodies. The short answer to my hon. Friend's question is no.

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