HC Deb 16 February 1998 vol 306 cc750-1
10. Mr. Green

If he will make a statement on his plans to change the mechanism for disbursement of lottery money. [27594]

Mr. Fisher

The National Lottery Bill implements many of our plans to reform the distribution of lottery funds.

Mr. Green

Will the Minister confirm what I was told by one of the existing grant-giving bodies in the south-east region—that, because of the changes proposed in the Bill, perfectly good sports and arts projects, which would previously have been approved, are being turned down and discouraged because of the Government's desire to get their hands on money that will amount to £ 1 billion over the lifetime of this lottery licence? Will he apologise to those sports and arts bodies that want to do good in their local communities, but are being prevented from doing so by the fact that the Government are grabbing their money?

Mr. Fisher

The hon. Gentleman clearly was not in the House a few minutes ago, when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State answered the question of the former Secretary of State, the right hon. Member for South-West Surrey (Mrs. Bottomley). If he had been, he would have heard the answer. Each board was always going to receive £1.8 billion; that is exactly the planning total that they will receive.

Ms Walley

May I draw my hon. Friend's attention to the real concern in my constituency? Although larger organisations may find it easy to make applications for lottery bids, small groups find it difficult to do so. Will he ensure that such groups have a way in which to obtain help from the lottery in making their bids?

Mr. Fisher

Yes. My hon. Friend makes a good point. It is difficult for small groups and bodies to access the lottery, which is why some of the reforms in the new National Lottery Bill will be welcome—in particular, the small grants scheme.