HC Deb 16 July 2001 vol 372 cc10-3
8. Mr. Kevin Hughes (Doncaster, North)

What plans she has to ensure an even geographical distribution of lottery grants. [2428]

12. Glenda Jackson (Hampstead and Highgate)

What measures she intends to promote the equitable geographical distribution of lottery funding. [2432]

13. Paul Goggins (Wythenshawe and Sale, East)

What action she is taking to ensure an increase in the distribution of lottery funding to disadvantaged areas. [2433]

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Tessa Jowell)

I understand that you have linked questions 8, 12 and 13, Mr. Speaker. With permission, I shall answer all three together.

Mr. Speaker

The right hon. Lady linked the questions, not me.

Tessa Jowell

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Government are determined to ensure that there is a fair distribution of funding throughout the country. We have directed distributors to ensure that all parts of the United Kingdom have access to lottery funds. In addition, I have asked the community fund to target £100 million, and the new opportunities fund to target an additional £50 million of its funds, to 50 areas that are both deprived and have received less lottery funding than other parts of the country. The scheme will be UK wide and will begin in April 2002.

Mr. Hughes

I welcome my right hon. Friend to her new post, as, indeed, I welcome her answer. However, I have heard fine words before, from her predecessor. My right hon. Friend will be aware that the average for constituencies around the country is £14 million or thereabouts. We have heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Andrew Mackinlay) that his constituency received as little as £2.5 million. However, I have to tell the Secretary of State that my constituency had less than £1 million: the amount is £900,000 for Doncaster, North. That was despite the meetings and correspondence with my right hon. Friend's predecessors, which were all to no avail. Will my right hon. Friend now address the issue properly so that my constituents have a fair share of the money that they pay into lottery funding? In all fairness to her predecessors—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I think the Minister has enough to go on.

Tessa Jowell

I entirely accept my hon. Friend's analysis. He is right about the figures for his own constituency. Nationally, the average per capita award is just over £76 but my hon. Friend's constituency received less than £11 per head of population. That is why I made my recent announcement about the investment of £150 million in precisely such areas, not only so that the lottery is fair in its distribution but so that it produces benefits for some of our most deprived communities, many of which lack the high levels of organisation and so forth that are needed to develop lottery bids. I intend to put that help in place to ensure that my hon. Friend's constituents benefit from the lottery as they should.

Glenda Jackson

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. She is entirely right: it is not only the amounts that go to the most deprived areas—certainly in London we have the largest number of such wards in the UK—but the difficulty experienced by many community groups in actually putting together a bid. Will she ensure that it is not as difficult to tap into her proposals to assist such communities as it is at present?

Tessa Jowell

I thank my hon. Friend for that question. Yes, we are determined—as was my predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith)—to ensure that the bureaucracy and administration of the lottery are as simple and as cheap as possible, consistent with efficiency. However, it is also worth comparing the per capita lottery spend of £286 per head in my hon. Friend's constituency of Hampstead and Highgate with the sum of just under £11 in Doncaster, North to which I referred earlier. That makes the case for the Government's announcement.

Paul Goggins

I warmly welcome my right hon. Friend's remarks, but in my constituency, which has two of the 100 poorest wards anywhere in the country, projects have received a little more than £4 million over the past seven years—well below the average. In future, can my constituents who spend money on the lottery look forward to more of their cash coming back to fund activities in their own community?

Tessa Jowell


Mr. Roy Beggs (East Antrim)

I, too, welcome the right hon. Lady and her team to the Front Bench. Does she agree that a number of excellent projects that had attracted millennium lottery funding, such as the Gobbins Path project in my constituency, could not proceed because of the burden that was going to be placed on the sponsor—in this case, Larne borough council—and hence on its ratepayers? Will she examine those previously approved projects that did not proceed, and give consideration to alternative matching funding to enable those worthwhile projects to proceed at some time in the future?

Tessa Jowell

With respect, it would be a matter for the individual lottery distributors to reconsider any previously considered projects. I am sure that, as a strong advocate of his constituents and projects in his constituency, the hon. Gentleman will make sure that that step is taken if necessary.

Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East)

Does the Secretary of State think that she might have fewer complaints from her own Back Benches about the distribution of lottery funds if the Government had stuck to the pledge that they gave in their July 1997 White Paper, in which they stated that they don't believe that it would be right to use Lottery money to pay for things which are the Government's responsibilities"? Perhaps if the Government were raiding the lottery funds less for health, education and environment matters, which are Government responsibilities, the right hon. Lady would not be facing criticisms of the kind that she is justifiably facing now.

Tessa Jowell

The most important thing about the lottery is that it has the confidence of the British people, 70 per cent. of whom play the lottery. The priorities of the new opportunities fund—health, education and environment—are precisely the priorities to which people wanted their lottery spending to be devoted. We are doing what people asked us to do. That is why my right hon. and hon. Friends support the Government's position. They know that in every one of their constituencies, there are about 21 lottery-funded projects improving the quality of life of their constituents.

Adam Price (East Carmarthen and Dinefwr)

I am sure that the Minister is aware of the recent University of Newcastle study which showed that in rural and disadvantaged areas, the community fund was responsible for providing up to 50 per cent. of the funding for voluntary and community groups. In the light of that, will the Minister explain why the Wales committee of the community fund is projecting a cut in expenditure of 43 per cent. over a three-year period, compared to a reduction in the UK of 17 per cent? Why is there such a discrepancy? The cut will be devastating to the voluntary sector in Wales. Will the Minister today agree to reverse that decision? Otherwise her protestations about a fair distribution across the UK will seem hollow.

Tessa Jowell

I will not announce a reversal of that decision today, but I will study with care the research that the hon. Gentleman mentioned, and I will write to him once I have had time to consider both its conclusions and the figures that he gave the House this afternoon.

Mr. Derek Wyatt (Sittingbourne and Sheppey)

My right hon. Friend will know that the longer a lottery exists, the less people play it. Hon. Members say that they would like much more local distribution of the spend on the lottery. Will my right hon. Friend consider the idea that 10 per cent. of the spend on a lottery ticket should stay in the local community in the first place without having to go to the centre and come back, a process the cost of which is substantial and unnecessary?

Tessa Jowell

I have made clear in my replies the Government's intention to make sure that every part of the country benefits as it should from lottery funds and lottery investment. There will be a review of the lottery in the next two years or so. I am sure that right hon. and hon. Members will submit their specific proposals for further improvement of the lottery in the next licence period, although that is some years hence.

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