HC Deb 26 July 1999 vol 336 cc5-6
5. Mr. Desmond Swayne (New Forest, West)

If he will make a statement about the performance of the national lottery in relation to funds raised for (a) good causes and (b) the new opportunities fund. [91343]

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Chris Smith)

At the end of June 1999, over £7.7 billion had been raised for the good causes, including £564 million for the new opportunities fund. Earlier this month, the new opportunities fund announced its first awards, worth £1.8 million, for the out of school hours child care programme. That is creating a total of nearly 9,000 new out of school child care places. Twelve new summer holiday play schemes funded by NOF opened today.

Mr. Swayne

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that some things ought properly to be paid for out of taxation and that, had that been the case, the original good causes would now be £3.7 billion better off?

Mr. Smith

I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman's arithmetic escapes him. As I said earlier, £564 million has been made available for the new opportunities fund to date. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that, during the licence period, at least £1.85 billion is available to each of the original good causes, which is more than they were originally expected to receive. Would the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues on the Conservative Front Bench remove that funding for out of school places? Would they remove the holiday play schemes and cut the funding for child care? That is the implication of what they are asking us to do.

Mr. Bill O'Brien (Normanton)

May I express appreciation to my right hon. Friend for the initiative that he took to help the former coal mining areas? We look forward to further developments in that respect. May I make a special plea? Some of the mining villages, which had to depend on the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation for sport and recreational activities, now find that there is a tremendous shortage of such activities. Such facilities as could be provided are important for some of those villages. Will my right hon. Friend assure me that this issue is not lost and that small villages, such as Sharlstom in my constituency, can look forward to some assistance to develop their recreation and entertainment facilities?

Mr. Smith

I can, indeed, give my hon. Friend that assurance. Part of the findings of the research that we have undertaken demonstrates that the former coalfield areas have not done as well as the national average in terms of their receipt of funds from the lottery. That applies across the board, including arts and sport. We are now undertaking urgent work with the lottery distributers to try to rectify that imbalance.