HC Deb 19 January 1998 vol 304 cc679-80
6. Sir Sydney Chapman

If he will make a statement on the introduction of the sixth good cause category of national lottery funding. [21446]

Mr. Chris Smith

The National Lottery Bill will create a new good cause for health, education and the environment. This will support a rolling programme of targeted initiatives, the first three of which will be new technology training for teachers and librarians, out-of-school hours activities, including child care, and healthy living centres.

Sir Sydney Chapman

I thank the Secretary of State for that statement, but will he concede that the introduction of a sixth good cause must lead to national lottery funding replacing public expenditure? Given that the experience of many people who have run national lotteries shows that revenue from the lottery will inevitably decline, will that not be a double blow to the interests of the five good causes?

Mr. Smith

No, on neither count: first, because the money that is going to child care, out-of-hours school activities, information technology training for teachers and healthy living centres is entirely additional to any existing Exchequer expenditure and, secondly, because the money that each of the existing distributors will get will be exactly in line with their expectations when the lottery was first established, as I have told the House on many occasions.

Mr. Maude

Will the Secretary of State confirm that, if the National Lottery Bill were enacted unamended, he or his successor would have the power by order to reduce the proceeds allocated to the existing good causes from the existing 20 per cent. to no more than 5 per cent. and that 75 per cent. of the proceeds could therefore be allocated through the new opportunities fund to Government initiatives promoted by Ministers?

If that is the case, will the Secretary of State accept amendments that would prevent the allocation to the new opportunities fund from being increased to that level? I am sure that he understands the point that, while it may be unexceptionable for there to be reallocation between existing good causes—the allocation of funds to which is administered at arm's length from Ministers—the uninhibited power to replace that arm's-length administration with Government-administered initiatives would be unacceptable.

Mr. Smith

The right hon. Gentleman is incorrect: no Government-administered good causes are to be established by the Bill. The new opportunities fund will operate at arm's length from Government exactly as the existing distribution does. We will of course examine any amendments tabled by anyone, either in the House or in another place, entirely on their merits.