HC Deb 02 February 2004 vol 417 cc517-8
4. Michael Fabricant(Con) (Lichfield)

What representations she has received from the operators of charity lotteries with regard to the draft Gambling Bill; and if she will make a statement. [151923]

The Minister for Sport and Tourism (Mr. Richard Caborn)

Most representations from charity lotteries are about the distinction between lotteries and commercial prize competitions. We believe the Bill contains legal tests that make that distinction clear. Representations have also been made on the proposed 24-hour rule, which will control faster draws. We are reflecting on that rule and the representations at the moment.

Michael Fabricant

I thank the Minister for his answer. While the whole House will acknowledge the marvellous work done by the national lottery, does he agree that private lotteries such as those operated by hospices have an important part to play? Does he accept that the current draft Gambling Bill presents serious obstacles to the success of those hospice lotteries, on which those hospices depend to look after people in our communities? Has he received representations from groups such as the Acorn Children's hospice lottery and the St. Giles hospice lottery, which—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman's question is far too long.

Mr. Caborn

I got the gist of the question, Mr. Speaker, and I have some sympathy with such groups. When we were considering the Gambling Bill we had to clarify the role of the national lottery, probably the most successful lottery in the world, all of the proceeds of which go to good causes. We made a political decision to protect that role. We were also mindful of other charitable lotteries, which the hon. Gentleman has just raised. Indeed, we tried to be fair and responded to all their questions about stakes, prize money and roll overs, and that is reflected in the Gambling Bill. As I have said, we tried to protect the role of lotteries in total, and draw a distinction between them and prize competitions. I believe that the hon. Gentleman knows that the pre-legislative scrutiny Committee, ably chaired by the hon. Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway), is meeting representatives from the lotteries tomorrow. We will look very carefully at the results of that pre-legislative scrutiny, as we want to protect the lotteries, and make a clear distinction between them and prize competitions.

Miss Julie Kirkbride(Con) (Bromsgrove)

I am grateful for the opportunity to question the Minister further on this matter as there is much at stake for charitable lotteries, many of which, as hon. Members know, do excellent work in their communities. The charitable lotteries are concerned about the Department's proposals because, compared with prize competitions, they must be registered, submit returns, and they must limit their prize money and stake. In addition, their participants must be over 16 and they cannot sell tickets in public kiosks. None of those things is included in regulations for prize competitions, and the charitable sector would like to know why. Given the fact that there has been a quarter drop in the amount of money given to charitable causes over the past 10 years as a percentage of gross domestic product, will the Minister promise to look again at creating a level playing field for the commercial and charitable sectors?

Mr. Caborn

The answer is yes, but there are two distinct issues. Lotteries for charity are one thing. We make it clear that the national lottery, which is for good causes, should continue and should not be undermined. I am surprised to hear the hon. Lady say that the charities do not support the steps taken by the Department. The Bill will remove the £2 cap, allow roll overs and allow the sale of tickets by machines. The top prize money has been doubled, as the charities requested. The maximum price of tickets has been doubled to £2 and the Bill will remove that cap altogether. However, there is still a problem, which is why we look to the pre-legislative scrutiny Committee to make a clear distinction between lotteries and prize competitions. That is where the real commercial market exists. I give an assurance that we will take account of the pre-legislative scrutiny Committee's views.

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