HC Deb 05 February 1996 vol 271 cc13-4
12. Lady Olga Maitland

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what representation she has received on providing revenue support from national lottery funds. [11769]

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

I have received a number of representations, of which I have taken account in considering the changes that I propose to make as part of the natural development of the national lottery. I intend to make it possible for the distributors to support the new areas of youth, talent, access and participation.

Lady Olga Maitland

May I congratulate my right hon. Friend on her resounding success with the national lottery, as distributing more than £2 billion to good causes is no mean feat? It is not surprising that the Labour party carps and criticises—it never thought of the idea itself. Will she give an assurance that charities will be able to qualify for some sort of revenue support—for example, Victim Support will be able to get help to find people to man telephones; an orchestra might get help to appoint a conductor?

Mrs. Bottomley

My hon. Friend pushes at an open door. Some 2,460 awards have been made to caring charities, three of which are in her constituency— Carshalton scout group, Sutton Crossroads care attendant scheme and the Sutton centre for voluntary services. All those organisations are helping my hon. Friend's constituents. I have no doubt that, as the lottery progresses, the different distributing bodies will learn from their experiences and want to modify their rules as they continue to invest in good causes.

Mrs. Anne Campbell

Will the Secretary of State comment on the remarks made to my constituent, Professor Colin Humphries, who applied for support for science funding from the Millennium Commission and was told that it would not be appropriate because it would not appeal to readers of the Daily Mail?

Mrs. Bottomley

The Millennium Commission has made many awards, from the 303 that have been made, that would appeal greatly to readers of all the different newspapers. It is the commission's purpose to invest in the environment and regeneration and to ensure that a range of interests are addressed. It is especially looking for science projects. There has probably been a misunderstanding about the comment that the hon. Lady reports, because the commission hopes particularly to make progress with science.

13. Mr. Congdon

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage how much revenue the national lottery has generated for good causes. [11770]

14. Mr. John Marshall

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what is the latest estimate of proceeds from the national lottery. [11771]

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

With permission, Madam Speaker, I shall answer this question and question 14 together. [HON. MEMBERS: "Give the answer, then."] I am sorry, Madam Speaker; I was overcome by the rollover answer.

Revenue generated by the national lottery for the five good causes totals more than £1,500 million so far. I think that the House may be aware of that information by now.

Mr. Congdon

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. May I especially welcome the recent initiative, announced by the national heritage memorial fund, to invest in urban parks? I am sure that it will be greatly appreciated by people who live in cities—especially in our greatest city, London. Is that not another example of how the lottery can be used to benefit a good cause— the environment?

Mrs. Bottomley

The national heritage memorial fund's announcement was important and significant. Investment in our built and natural heritage is of great importance. There are many projects, including cycle routes, urban forests and restoration of coastal paths, for which lottery money is being used to restore our environment. As my hon. Friend rightly says, in the inner cities it is often the natural—as much as the built—heritage that people want preserved.

Mr. Marshall

May I welcome that figure of £1.5 billion, which demonstrates that the lottery has been a major success? I especially welcome the grant of nearly £150,000 to the Wilf Slack sports ground in Barnet, which will benefit a large number of schoolchildren, in particular those from Christ's college, which my son attends.

Mrs. Bottomley

Conservative Members have no difficulty declaring the schools to which our children go. I hope that that school sets high standards.

Mr. Marshall

It is a local authority school.

Mrs. Bottomley

I am most impressed to hear that.

That is another example of how the lottery works in practice. It is probably the most successful lottery anywhere in the world. It is carefully regulated. If we can improve it further, we shall certainly do so. The Labour party sneers and jeers. It would cap prizes, reduce the amount of money coming through to good causes, and increase operating costs. The lottery has been a great success, and I pay tribute to all those who have made it possible.

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