HC Deb 16 February 1998 vol 306 c750
9. Mr. Sheerman

What steps he is taking to tackle problems encountered by groups that win lottery funding but fail to raise matched funding. [27593]

Mr. Chris Smith

Any applicant who experiences difficulties in raising partnership funding should speak to the distributor, who will consider the best way in which to proceed in each case. Our reforms to the lottery will ensure that distributors have a more flexible approach to partnership requirements.

Mr. Sheerman

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that answer, but is not the matched funding scheme very regressive? Will he go back to his Department, knock a few civil servants' heads together and ask the following question? Why did we get into matched funding in the first place, as the poorest areas of the country have the most difficulty? As a Labour Government, we should be tackling this problem.

The Earth centre in Doncaster is struggling to be completed because there is not so much industry there as in London and the south-east. I hope that my right hon. Friend will knock a few heads together and kick a few bottoms in his Department.

Mr. Smith

I have already done precisely that. My hon. Friend will know that the National Lottery Charities Board requires no partnership funding whatever. He will also know that the Millennium Commission, which funds the Earth centre, had a very strict rule of 50 per cent. partnership funding. That rule was put in place by the right hon. Member for South-West Surrey (Mrs. Bottomley) and her predecessors. However, I am pleased to say that we are strongly encouraging the other distributors to be much more flexible about their partnership requirements, in particular to take into account the needs of projects in areas where the group proposing a project does not have ready access to private sector money.