HC Deb 13 September 2004 vol 424 cc969-70
4. Kevin Brennan (Cardiff, West)(Lab)

If she will allow sponsors' names to be used in the titles of Millennium Commission projects. [187895]

The Minister for the Arts (Estelle Morris)

The Government do not control the identity of projects supported by the national lottery. The Millennium Commission's grant agreements specify that any change in the name of a project that it funds must be agreed by the commission.

Kevin Brennan

I thank the Minister for that answer. But is it not crazy to fetter the future of some wonderful projects such as the Millennium stadium in Cardiff, which many Members have had the opportunity to visit, and which many more may visit in future, particularly when Wales play England at football next year, by not allowing them to maximise the commercial opportunities in the long term by having a sponsor's name in the title of the project? Will she and her colleagues consider this issue with a view to assisting the long-term future of those important projects?

Estelle Morris

First, may I share my hon. Friend's enthusiasm for the Millennium stadium? I reiterate, however, that this is a matter not for the Government but for the Millennium Commission. I know, however, that the Millennium Commission is in discussions, and has made it clear that it will consider any proposal that is put to it. That is right. It has also said that when there is lottery money involved a project, that must be made clear to the public and to people who buy lottery tickets. That is why, whatever the title is, it must continue to use the word "Millennium". If my hon. Friend looks a bit further, he will see that the Millennium Commission has allowed naming rights in other projects, such as the Donald Gordon theatre, as part of a much wider project. I do not know what the commission will decide, but it has certainly not said no to considering naming rights. That will be a matter for it and the stadium in the weeks and months to come.

Mr. Patrick McLoughlin (West Derbyshire)(Con)

Bearing in mind the fact that the Millennium Commission gets its money from the lottery, what action are the Government taking to ensure that undesirable people are not allowed to buy lottery tickets? The Secretary of State referred to one such case during the summer recess.

Estelle Morris

First, I understand the hon. Gentleman's comments. Over the summer, people were aghast at the fact that someone who was not able to repay money to victims suddenly came into millions of pounds. To state the obvious, one of the elements of the lottery is chance: there are no criteria in relation to worthy, deserving or non-deserving winners of the lottery. As far as what might happen in the future is concerned, we have no intention of introducing criteria on who should win. If it is legal for someone to buy a ticket, it must be legal for them to take the winnings. The Home Office is considering further what action it may need to take as to the criteria that it decides to impose on who may or may not buy lottery tickets. The gatekeeper is the person who buys the lottery ticket, and there cannot be decisions taken retrospectively when people have bought tickets and won prizes.

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