HC Deb 04 March 1996 vol 273 cc3-4
2. Sir Teddy Taylor

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what is the total sum contributed by the national lottery to seaside piers; and if she will make a statement. [16352]

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

The national lottery has contributed £790,042 towards two projects aimed at assisting seaside piers.

Sir Teddy Taylor

I applaud the generosity of the national lottery in giving funds to what appear to be modest and unambitious pier projects. Is my right hon. Friend aware of the unique features of Southend pier, which is the longest pier in the world—more than 1 mile long—and which has a wonderful train running its length? It has survived three fires and vessels crashing into it. Given that great record, will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that, if Southend council applies for help further to improve that wonderful pier, careful consideration will be given to that application?

Mrs. Bottomley

The piers of the realm need careful protection and I am delighted that the national lottery benefits them. My hon. Friend will be aware that I do not have direct control over the lottery distributors—more is the pity, I sometimes think. However, I shall do all that I can to encourage the chairmen of the distributing bodies to give piers every favourable consideration.

Mr. Tony Banks

I am all in favour of lottery money going to seaside piers, but I hope that no lottery money will go to hereditary peers. Will the right hon. Lady make it quite clear that no lottery money will go towards funding a royal yacht, just in case it crashes into Southend pier?

Mrs. Bottomley

No such application has been made. However, the hon. Gentleman will be aware that a number of hereditary peers are chairmen of some of the distributing bodies that make the decisions on how lottery money is allocated.