HC Deb 22 July 2002 vol 389 cc650-2
3. Sir Teddy Taylor (Rochford and Southend, East)

If she will make a statement on the changes in the number of lottery tickets purchased over the last two years. [68959]

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

Total national lottery sales in the financial year 2001 to 2002 were £4,000—(Interruption.] I am terribly sorry, £4,983 billion—I am terribly sorry; wrong glasses—£4,983 million. In the last financial year, they were £4,834 million—a fall of 3 per cent.

Sir Teddy Taylor

As the national lottery is obviously a little less popular than it once was, would the Secretary of State remind the public that it performs a great service in providing about £2,500 to worthwhile causes every single minute of the day? In particular, would she bear in mind the fact that in the Republic of Ireland, where spread betting on lotteries was introduced, the income of the lottery has been reduced by more than 20 per cent? Could she therefore give a clear assurance that after the gambling review, the Government will not introduce spread betting in Britain, observing that that practice is purely gambling in bookmakers and does not give any help to worthwhile causes?

Tessa Jowell

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising that issue, which I know he has pursued very energetically. He will know that Sir Alan Budd's review of gambling law recommended opening up the possibility of side betting on the lottery. We considered carefully the potential impact on lottery sales if that reform were allowed. In view of the risk to lottery sales, we did not accept that recommendation, so we will not introduce legislation to allow side betting on the lottery.

Alan Howarth (Newport, East)

Does my right hon. Friend agree that lottery proceeds need to be considered together with grant in aid, money derived from local authorities, money from European sources, charitable donations and box office receipts if we are to form an overall view of cultural funding? In congratulating her on the settlement that she secured in the spending review, may I put it to her that it is extremely important, as she considers the array of causes that deserve her Department's support, that she should be able to do substantially more for heritage and national museums and galleries?

Tessa Jowell

My right hon. Friend is right to say that from the public's point of view, the source of funding is largely undifferentiated. The public are keen to ensure only that public money is well spent. My right hon. Friend is well aware that we have always sought to draw a distinction—not always an easy distinction—in relation to lottery funding, regarding it as additional to Exchequer funding, and not as a replacement or substitute for Exchequer funding. He draws attention to the spending review announcements made last week. I know that as a former Minister for the Arts, he will welcome, as the arts community has welcomed, the settlement that we announced for the arts.

My right hon. Friend will be aware of our determination to ensure that national museums and galleries have the necessary funding to maintain the popular public policy of free entry, which has seen the number of people going to our national museums and galleries increase, in some cases, by up to 75 per cent. He will also be aware of our clear aim to increase the level of investment in regional museums and galleries—a long neglected quarter. We will make as much progress in that as we can. My right hon. Friend is right to welcome the settlement. It is important to maintain a clear distinction between lottery money, which is by and large a one-off, and Exchequer funding, which ensures sustainability in the public interest.

Mr. David Cameron (Witney)

Does the Secretary of State share my concern about recent media reports that village shops that do not sell many lottery tickets may have their terminals withdrawn? Is she aware that in rural areas such as mine, where often the shop serves a few hundred houses, sales may not be that great, but the lottery terminal has an important role in making sure that there is footfall into those shops and that there is custom? Will the Secretary of State have words with the lottery operator to make sure that it sticks to its licence obligations and maintains a thorough network of terminals?

Tessa Jowell

As to the conduct of the lottery operator in accordance with its licence, the relationship is between the National Lottery Commission and Camelot. Yes, I am aware of the proposals by Camelot to withdraw terminals from a number of shops on the ground that they do not yield the maximum ticket sales. It is important to remember that, as with most of Camelot's decisions, that is a commercial decision. It is also important to remember that, as hon. Members on both sides of the House will understand, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of shops that are queueing to be awarded the licence to run a terminal. It is good for trade, as the hon. Gentleman makes clear. The important point is that we have secured protection for precisely the kind of communities to which he refers, and Camelot has agreed that in about 1,000 areas, considerations other than mere profitability will be brought to bear. Hon. Members who may be concerned should remember that even in isolated communities where there may be a threat of withdrawing the operating licence from one retailer, it is highly likely that there are other retailers in the same area who will be awarded a substitute licence because of the volume of demand to engage in such a highly profitable activity.

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