HC Deb 19 May 1997 vol 294 cc365-6
8. Mr. Rendel

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what plans he has to alter the way in which funds raised by the national lottery are used. [367]

Mr. Chris Smith

The Government's plans will widen access to the benefits of the lottery by extending the range of initiatives that can receive lottery funding. The creation of a national endowment for science and the arts, in particular, is an imaginative proposal for investment in youth, in talent and in the future.

Mr. Rendel

May I add the congratulations of Liberal Democrat Members to the Secretary of State and his team on their appointment? Does the Secretary of State agree that his response makes the bid for the restoration of Shaw House school even more important, as it is not only probably the second most important historic building in Berkshire but it comes within the scope of his new funds for matters on the periphery of the educational establishment?

Mr. Smith

The hon. Gentleman will know that it is not up to me to make a decision on that application, but I have no doubt whatever that he will vigorously promote the interests of his constituents in that regard. However, our proposal for the use of lottery money for the national endowment for science and the arts and for education and health-related projects—which will come forward in legislation later this year—will do an enormous amount to put money into worthwhile initiatives, including after-school clubs, the national endowment, healthy living centres and information technology training for teachers. Those projects are crying out to be undertaken, but at the moment there is no Exchequer funding to do so. That is valuable work done by the people's lottery in accordance with the people's priorities, and I hope that Liberal Democrat Members will welcome the proposals when they are presented in legislation.

Mr. Cohen

I offer my congratulations and commiserations to my right hon. Friend—congratulations on his appointment, and commiserations because it presumably means that he will have to sit through the Eurovision song contest next year. On the use of lottery funds, will he specifically allow local authority schools and nurseries to bid for money for projects dear to their hearts?

Mr. Smith

On my hon. Friend's first point, if we have such a landslide victory again in the Eurovision song contest it will be a pleasure to sit through it. On his second point, there is a wide range of projects coming from all sources, including those closely related to schools and education, to which we shall want lottery money to be allocated. Precisely to assist that process, we intend to reform the lottery by means of the amendment Bill later this year.

Mr. Fabricant

It may be the people's lottery, but will not the people will be rather confused since the right hon. Gentleman said today that the principle of additionality would be adhered to but he also said that plans such as those for the training of teachers in information technology would be funded out of the national lottery? The two do not agree.

Mr. Smith

I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman is mistaken. The two do agree. We intend to hold to the proposal that we announced during the election campaign because we intend to hold to everything that we said during the election campaign—unlike a certain other party elected five years ago. The proposal in relation to IT training for teachers is to ensure, as a one-off exercise, that existing teachers can develop the skills in teaching and using information technology that many of them do not currently have. I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman is not interested in ensuring that the school pupils of this country can learn properly from their teachers about the use of new technology.