HC Deb 04 March 1996 vol 273 cc5-6
4. Sir John Hannam

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage how many good causes have been awarded funds from the national lottery in south-west England. [16354]

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

In the south-west of England, 377 national lottery awards totalling £52,681,000 have been awarded. City Screen Ltd., the Riding for the Disabled Association and the Devon branch of the British Red Cross have received awards and are three examples of 10 awards that amount to more than £1 million in my hon. Friend's constituency.

Sir John Hannam

I congratulate my hon. Friend on, and thank her for, the wide range of awards to my constituency and to the south-west. However, will she accept that the tremendous success of the national lottery has created its own problem because many organisations face increasing difficulties in raising matching funds for the grants that they have been given? Will she therefore consider relaxing the rules of matching funds to ensure that many such projects reach completion in future?

Mrs. Bottomley

All the distributing bodies have flexibility in the extent of partnership funding for which they ask. The Sports Council, for instance, recently announced a number of initiatives for which it wants only 10 per cent. funding. The caring charities do not ask for partnership funding at all. In spite of the cries of concern, the evidence to date has been that matched funding is increasing. Overall, for every £1 of lottery money, £1.49 has been produced in partnership funding. Figures for the latest three months suggest that for every £1 of lottery money, £1.61 has been raised in partnership funding. In other words, lottery partnership money is improving in the same way as business sponsorship of the arts last year increased by one fifth on the previous year.

Mr. Barnes

Is it not demeaning for hon. Members to have to get up in National Heritage questions to try to get funds for their constituencies or to be informed by the Minister how much money has gone to their areas? Why do we not have proper Question Times such as those that we used to have on energy and on employment, which address serious matters rather than who happens to get what for his area in the log roll?

Mrs. Bottomley

I think that hon. Members know that it is not within my power or gift to distribute lottery money. They also celebrate the fact that many arts, sports and heritage projects are able to receive funding on an unprecedented basis. That is a source of great pleasure and a great achievement for all those who are benefiting throughout the country through more than 5,000 different awards.