HL Deb 21 July 1997 vol 581 cc1227-40

5.12 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat a Statement being made in the other place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on reforming the National Lottery. The Statement is as follows:

"With permission, I should like to make a Statement about reforming the National Lottery. I am today publishing a White Paper, The People's Lottery. It will be available in the Vote Office when I have finished speaking.

"The White Paper takes forward the plans outlined in our election manifesto and in the details we published in The People's Money on 23rd April. Both received the endorsement of the British people on 1st May.

"I believe the package of proposals we are publishing today will mark a turning point in the fortunes of our National Lottery. It will make it even more popular and even more relevant to people's daily lives. It is less than three years since the first tickets were sold. Yet in that short time the lottery has become a tremendous success. Nine out of 10 adults play at least occasionally. There have been 180 million winning tickets—360 of them for more than £1 million.

"The lottery has already raised over £3½ billion for good causes. By the time the current licence ends, we expect it will have raised £10 billion. Thanks to the initiative and hard work of those who have been involved in developing projects, and the lottery distribution bodies, funds have already been committed to over 24,000 projects throughout the United Kingdom. But I suspect it is the smaller proposals which make the most difference to many people's lives—like the grant of some £2,000, featured in the White Paper, for a summer arts festival for children predominantly from low income families in Norfolk. I welcome this success. The proposals in the White Paper are about building on it. We will be introducing the legislation needed to give effect to aspects of these proposals later this year.

"The proposals in the White Paper fall under four headings. First, we will set up a new good cause—the New Opportunities Fund. It will support specific initiatives, additional to core programmes funded through taxation, to support our priorities of health, education and the environment. Subject to Parliament, the fund will begin its work next year with three initiatives, two helping to raise standards in schools and one promoting better health. Other initiatives will follow—for the environment as well as for health and education.

"By 2001 the fund will be supporting programmes of activity outside the school day involving at least half of all secondary schools and a quarter of all primary schools. Activities will range from extra coaching in basic literacy and numeracy to new opportunities for creative and sporting education and structured play, fun as well as learning—helping parents who work as well as raising school standards. By 2001 the fund will also have trained some half a million teachers and 10,000 public librarians to help children and adults learn throughout their lives using new technologies.

"The new fund's health initiative will be a network of healthy living centres throughout the United Kingdom. They will provide a wide variety of facilities and services in different ways and to help different groups but all with the same fundamental aim of promoting good health. In designing the detail of these initiatives and delivering money to projects the new fund will work closely with bodies expert in the relevant fields in each part of the United Kingdom.

"The financial success of the lottery will enable us to set up the new fund alongside the existing good causes. In 1994 the lottery was forecast to raise £9 billion for good causes in the period up to 2001. We now expect it to raise £1 billion on top of that. It is from that extra £1 billion that we will find initial support for the New Opportunities Fund.

"We will continue to allocate the bulk of the proceeds of the lottery to the existing good causes. I pay tribute to the work the distributing bodies have already done—some fine examples are included in the White Paper—and I want them to build on their success. That is the second main theme of the White Paper.

"Excellent as the distributors' record has been, it has been limited by some aspects of the framework within which they have to operate. These constraints are at the root of the concerns expressed about lottery distribution—the lack of a clear overall strategy, the uneven geographical allocation of grants, the failure of some activities to get enough help from the lottery, and the feeling that decisions are remote and unaccountable.

"The Bill will contain measures to help us work with the distributors to tackle these constraints. I want to encourage a debate involving the distributors and everyone else with an interest in making a success of the lottery on the way distribution will work within the new framework—and on the extent to which we can make progress in the same direction before the legislation comes into force. Among the main issues on which I am consulting are how the existing distributors can provide even more support for our priorities of health, education and the environment; the contribution they can make to regeneration; how, through delegation and working together, they can meet needs better; and how they can bring decision-making closer to the grass roots.

"I now come to our third major proposal. It is a major part of our vision of a lottery for the people. We will use a part of the £ 1 billion of extra lottery money to establish NESTA—the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts. NESTA will help ensure the fruits of the outstanding talents with which our nation is blessed and benefit our own country rather than others. It will encourage the development of an environment which fosters creative talent and innovation and allows it to flourish for the benefit of the country, its economy and its people. In doing so it will support my central objective of promoting the creative industries.

"NESTA will have three simple objectives: to help talented individuals to develop their full potential in the creative activities and industries, and in science and technology; to help to turn creativity and ideas into products or services which are effectively exploited with rights protected; and to contribute to the advancement of public education about, and awareness and appreciation of the areas with which NESTA is concerned.

"These objectives will be set out in the forthcoming Bill, but once established as a trust independent of Government, NESTA will determine for itself its priorities and activities. Its first task will be to map what support and provision already exists, so that its own activities complement existing publicly and privately funded programmes.

"Finally, the White Paper outlines our proposals to make the lottery itself a more efficient and transparent operation. In the White Paper we invite proposals to meet the twin objectives of maximising the return to good causes and removing unnecessary profit. Within the framework we set the licence will go to the bidder who will deliver the greatest return while running the lottery efficiently, transparently and with propriety. So that the selection of a new operator is seen to be independent and objective, we will appoint a panel to assist the director-general in his choice, including people with expertise in business, lottery distribution and the views of consumers.

"We want to ensure that the director-general has the full range of powers necessary to make sure that the operator complies with its licence. The Bill will therefore contain provision for him to fine the operator where serious licence breaches occur.

"I look forward to the widest possible consultation on our proposals, from right honourable and honourable Members, and everyone else with an interest in building on the lottery's success, in the consultation period which is now beginning. To help everyone participate, a summary of the proposals is available in a leaflet which will be distributed widely throughout the country in the coming weeks.

"A new good cause; a reform of lottery distribution; NESTA, to unlock people's potential; better operation and regulation—this White Paper sets out to enable the National Lottery to become even more successful and to become truly a people's lottery".

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.


Baroness Rawlings

My Lords, from these Benches perhaps I may express my gratitude to the Minister for repeating the Statement on the reforms to the National Lottery in the White Paper.

During the week in which the National Lottery was launched, I said in my maiden speech that it was expected to provide huge additional resources for our national heritage, the arts, sports and charities, and that it could be the most important piece of legislation in the heritage field since the Second World War. Financially, it has proved exactly that.

Is it not churlish of the Government now not to congratulate John Major and the previous Conservative government who set up the largest, most successful lottery in the world, played by over 30 million and raising over £3.5 billion for good causes in two years? Why do the Government want to play killjoy, stopping people winning money and having a little fun? The lottery Bill was debated at length in both Houses. The outcome was that at all costs it should be independent of government interference. What we are now witnessing is blatant contravening of the spirit of the agreement by the party opposite.

Arising from what the Secretary of State said in another place, perhaps I may ask the noble Lord whether he can assure the House that funds raised by the National Lottery will not be used as a substitute for public spending but will be additional to government expenditure? Does he accept that lottery money spent on education and health projects violates the additionality principle? I am sure he would also agree that essential services like education, health and the environment cannot be properly funded by relying on the lottery because it is inherently an unreliable source of income. Vital public services should be financed from taxation and should not be dependent on the vagaries of the lottery.

The Statement is a little unclear as to where the fine money will come from in a non-profit organisation, as mentioned in the Labour Party's manifesto. In less than three months, the words "not for profit" do not even appear. The organisation can be fined as a result of the new powers of the director-general of Oflot. Will the Government raid the charities or good causes for money? Do we really need two operators and a panel of new businessmen? Is that not just another quango? What would be the costs?

I sympathise with the Secretary of State for having his chest raided by the Treasury. Only one person is smiling today—the Chancellor. Emptying community chests and depriving local projects enable him to balance the books. The lottery was meant to be kept at arm's length from government. Will the Government intervene next to nationalise what is already the people's lottery? Perhaps they would like to turn it into premium bonds. Is this the start of new Labour's nationalisation programme?

The Viscount of Falkland

My Lords, we on these Benches thank the Minister for repeating the Statement and receive it with mixed feelings. We appreciate some of the thinking underlying the Statement and the White Paper; they appear almost simultaneously. I have been able only to glance over the White Paper.

At first sight the Government seem to take a curious view of the National Lottery which is rather removed from reality. When the issue was debated in your Lordships' House the main objection from the Opposition was that should funds become available in the amounts predicted—indeed, they far exceeded them—the Government of the time would be tempted to use them for purposes which should be met out of taxation. The present Government are doing just that by adding to the good causes the proposals in the White Paper.

While some of us had qualms about the wisdom of a national lottery and the effect that it would have on poor people's income and spare time, there is no doubt that the lottery has been extremely successful. I agree with the noble Baroness. It has been successful because it has been efficiently run. We are anxious to hear more, as we undoubtedly shall, about how the Government will approach the running of the lottery after Camelot's contract expires. The Government seem to have reversed somewhat on the proposal after many high moral words about "not-for-profit" lotteries rather than "non-profit" lotteries—a carefully worded phrase. They seem to accept that a profit is necessary. Calling it a people's lottery is rather good jargon. It is rather like talking about a fair profit or a just profit.

I hope that my noble friends on these Benches will agree that it is extremely unwise to tamper with something that is going so well. Often in a commercial company someone comes up with an idea, and you say, "We'll give you a commission for your idea", although you do not think much of it. Then that person starts to make more out of the commission on the idea than the chief executive. The accounts department always tries to knock down the commission. Because of the extreme success of the lottery and the agreement reached—after all, Camelot takes only 1p out for every card filled in—it has made extremely large amounts of what the Government term profit. That is profit, and profit well earned. I believe the Government will agree with me that there were some unseemly pictures of Camelot executives making V-signs for victory when they heard of their increased emoluments as a result of the success of the lottery. But that was the mistake of the company's public relations. I hope that the Minister can assure me that when the matter is fully examined, the Government will ensure that the criteria established by Camelot will be at least matched by those the Government propose to put in its place. Whatever else Camelot has done, it has made the lottery extremely attractive for those who buy tickets twice a week. If it had not been so efficient, we should have seen a marked drop-off in the turnover of the lottery.

Perhaps I may mention one or two other areas of anxiety which the noble Lord may be able to answer in some measure. I refer to the idea that now certain areas of health, education and environment will be given the chance to dip into the lottery pot. How are the Government able to justify amounts going to those areas which one would normally expect to be funded out of Treasury moneys, out of central taxation?

What is the difference, for example, between a teacher being trained to be more efficient and productive in his or her profession when that is paid for out of government initiatives through taxation and what is suggested in the White Paper? Is teacher education now to be subject to the fluctuations of a gambling activity? Surely, it should be treated as an activity with a certain, rather than uncertain, end. The lottery may not be as profitable in future as it has been.

There is another curious matter which we shall have the opportunity of discussing. The White Paper rightly points out the great blessings of talent in our country. No one would disagree with the conclusion that such talent exists. We are to dip into the lottery pot to make sure that what is produced and invented as a result of that talent will now be exploited and we shall be able to gather in more of the profits than we were previously required to do. As I am sure the noble Lord will agree, it has always been a cultural fact in this country that, for all our great talent, we often do not reap the rewards, from the film industry, the motor industry or whatever, because we do not apply long-term thinking in many areas. Sadly, in marketing and other areas, we are out-performed by other nations, notably the United States and Japan, closely followed by other areas of the Far East. I am therefore interested to know what impression the Minister believes taking money from the lottery fund will have on changing what is a cultural phenomenon in this country; namely, that the fruits of our many talented people are picked up and exploited by other countries, which often make the profits. We rightly begrudge them those profits, because they are based on our ideas. Is this an appropriate area in which to use these moneys?

Finally—I am sorry to be so tedious about this matter—does the Minister not agree that it would be better initially to attempt to continue with the way in which the lottery performs now and try to bring about a greater take-up of funds available in the five areas presently designated—in particular, charities, sports and the arts. Only about 25 per cent. in total of the funds available are taken up, and for all kinds of reasons. Some people are chary about applying, and in many cases there is difficulty in choosing. Mistakes have been made and always will be. How is it that the Government now propose to follow the very grandiose scheme in the White Paper when there is a sad need to make sure that the distribution of funds as already structured is more fully and completely achieved?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness and to the noble Viscount for the way in which they responded to this admittedly complex Statement about what is an admittedly complex White Paper. I am happy to confirm at the outset that the noble Baroness's maiden speech at the time of the original establishment of the lottery was prophetic. She correctly anticipated the benefits that would come from the lottery. I am happy to join her in congratulating all those—it was not a party political matter—who supported and encouraged the establishment of the National Lottery and contributed to its success, acknowledged in the Statement and in the White Paper.

The noble Baroness rightly said that the principal point of the distribution of lottery funds to good causes was that it should be independent, that it should be at arm's length from government. The noble Viscount, Lord Falkland, made very much the same point. The noble Baroness rightly said that funds from the National Lottery should not be a substitute for public spending. I give the absolute assurance that that will not be the case. It is not our intention that funds, either from the existing distributors or from the new distributors—that is, the New Opportunities Fund and the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts—should be under the control of government. The existing distributors have always worked, just as Camelot has worked, under direction and advice from government. That was not only established by the existing Act but was continued by subsequent directions. No one ever thought it improper for government to express their views, just as nobody thought it improper for the director-general of the lottery to express his views, where appropriate, on the activities of Camelot.

When we talk about initiatives in health, education and environment as being the first activities of concentration of the New Opportunities Fund, I confirm that these are not, and never were intended to be, core expenditure items from taxation. The provision of schools and buildings, the funding of teachers and education, is the role of taxation and of the Chancellor. I do not think that the Chancellor will in any way be smiling at what is proposed today. The specific example of teacher training was raised. What is proposed is a one-off attempt to deal with the problem that something like 40 per cent. of existing teachers have never received any training in information technology other than at a very basic level. This one-off attempt is necessary to bring them up to scratch in order that all children in all schools can benefit from teachers who understand information technology.

The same is true of the health centres that are proposed. Those do not come within the ordinary remit of the National Health Service and never have done. Some have been provided by local authorities and some by private initiatives, but it has never been a priority for the National Health Service to do what is proposed in the White Paper. I repeat, with all the strength at my command, that it is not our intention to depart from the principle of additionality which says that proceeds for good causes from the lottery should be in addition to those provided by public expenditure.

The noble Baroness questioned the idea of fining the lottery company in the case of serious breaches of the rules. The legislative framework proposed will be designed to ensure that the regulator has a range of sanctions available according to the nature of the operator and according to any breach of licence conditions. It will be up to him to choose the appropriate sanction. If he operates effectively, as I am sure he will, he will make sure that any fines come from the operator's income rather than from good causes.

I was slightly puzzled by the noble Baroness's reference to a panel of new businessmen. There will of course be distributors, both for NESTA and for the New Opportunities Fund. Indeed, the arm's-length nature of NESTA will be even greater than for the other funds. The intention is that the distributors will have an amount of capital and freedom to use the income from that capital as they think fit within the guidelines set down, and the amounts they have will be dependent upon the returns from that capital.

I apologise to the noble Viscount, Lord Falkland, for the short time he has had to study the papers. It was my experience over many years that this has always been a difficulty for those in opposition. However, it has led him into error in thinking that we have succumbed to the temptation to use the National Lottery for purposes which would otherwise properly be met from taxation.

The noble Viscount is correct in saying that the National Lottery is efficient because it has been efficiently run; I certainly acknowledge that. But that does not mean that it is not possible to improve the efficiency of the National Lottery, the directions which are given to it and the way in which an operator is chosen.

Our primary concern in the choice of a new operator will be to maximise the return to good causes. We believe that the public will prefer to see that objective achieved by a not-for-profit operator; but, if we cannot have that within the primary objective of maximising income to good causes, then so be it. All we are ruling out at this stage is the two extremes, one, a state-run lottery run in effect by civil servants, which we do not think would be appropriate, and the other, a lottery with an open-ended profit commitment, which is what we have now. Camelot will, of course, be welcome to submit proposals within our guidelines to become the new operator after 2001.

I understand the thoughtful points which the noble Viscount makes about NESTA and about reaping rewards from our own skills and scientific, technical and artistic achievements. It is true that there are a number of organisations in the field, including particularly the higher education system, which already touch on the fringes of what we are trying to do with NESTA; but I believe that NESTA will be able to meet needs which other organisations cannot reach and bring together our effort in this area, as some other countries have succeeded in doing.

The final question which the noble Viscount asked was whether it would not be better to continue with the existing lottery system. I hope I have shown in my replies that what we are proposing will be an improvement which is possible because of the success of the existing lottery.

5.43 p.m.

Lord Taylor of Gryfe

My Lords, the Statement made by my noble friend certainly impresses, but I regret that I cannot share his enthusiasm. The test of the lottery is being judged purely in financial terms.

I should like to ask my noble friend whether, in pursuit of its policies, new Labour looked at the social consequences of the lottery and questioned whether they were consistent with our general view of the nature of the society we are creating. We are creating a nation of gamblers, a culture which thinks that there is easy money and success to be gained by gambling and buying tickets, whereas I assume that the Labour Party's new philosophy is to encourage initiative and energy. Was any analysis made of the people who buy lottery tickets and of the social consequences for those who are accumulating poverty and debt as a result of the new habit of buying tickets in the hope of success?

I believe that the nature of our society and the consequences of the lottery should be questioned before we embark on this widespread enthusiasm for getting money for nothing.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, my noble friend's attitude towards the lottery is well known and well respected. It is a view expressed not just by him but by many sincere people who feel very profoundly that even a lottery which contributes as much as this one does to good causes is somehow immoral and an attack on the fabric of our society. I respect that view without sharing it.

My noble friend asks whether there has been research on the effect of the National Lottery upon individuals who take part in it. The cant word is "invest" but I think it right to call it gambling because that is really what it is. The answer is that research has indeed been carried on through the Office for National Statistics and on the effect on other charities in collaboration with the National Council of Voluntary Organisations. That research is continuing.

Compared to some other forms of gambling, the National Lottery is very soft gambling. In most cases it is not the kind of gambling where the return is immediate, except for the relatively minor scratch cards. The amount of expenditure on the National Lottery per household per week is of the order of £2, which is not earth-shattering when compared to something like £9 spent on cigarettes and £15 on alcohol. It is not really a destruction of the fabric of our society. On the whole, provided we keep the National Lottery to soft gambling, as it is at the moment, I do not think that my noble friend's most dramatic fears are likely to be realised.

Lord Renton of Mount Harry

My Lords, I find the Statement made by the Minister very puzzling. If Camelot had not been a success and if the National Lottery had failed to meet the targets which the previous Conservative government had in mind for it of revenue of about £2 billion a year and perhaps £100 million or £150 million going to each of the five good causes, then there might have been good reason for change. In fact, the lottery and Camelot have exceeded all the hopes that we had when the project was started by the Conservative government four years ago. So if it ain't broke, why fix it?

My fear is that what the noble Lord has told us this afternoon is the thin end of the wedge. It is ministerial hands getting on the funds produced by the lottery in order to direct them into ideas and conceptions which are appealing to the Secretaries of State for the Environment, Health or Education. I do not blame them for that: every Secretary of State worth his salt should have his own ideas. But surely the last thing that your Lordships would wish to see is the money generated by the lottery, which was intended to go to causes such as arts, sports and heritage, which were not getting government money, being diverted into pet schemes of Ministers?

It seems to me that what we are seeing today is the first signs of the lottery being treated as another windfall tax, a means of Ministers finding additional money for their own ideas and conceptions. However good those ideas may be in themselves, they should not be funded by the lottery. I would remind the noble Lord that ministerial hands on the neck of the marvellous goose that the lottery has turned out to be could very quickly lead to the death of the goose and no more golden eggs.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Renton of Mount Harry, made two generic comments. Perhaps I may encapsulate his arguments into the two most important points. The first was: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. We acknowledge the success of the lottery and pay tribute to all who contributed to it. But the allocation of the licence to the operator for the first time was made in a very considerable spirit of insecurity. We did not know how successful the lottery would be. Camelot did not know, and Oflot did not know. Therefore, perhaps there was an undue degree of caution in the extent to which profits were allowed to be taken out of the lottery.

We have the advantage now. I acknowledge the justice of some of the noble Lord's comments. But we know much more about the success of the lottery. Nothing is secure in gambling, but at least we have experience of success and may be able to achieve a better bargain on the next occasion in four years' time when the licence is awarded. It would be foolish and irresponsible for the Government not to take advantage of that knowledge to secure the best deal for the taxpayer and, above all, for the good causes.

The noble Lord's second point concerned the pet schemes of Ministers. I recall that the first award made by the heritage lottery fund was an award of £13 million not for the acquisition of the Churchill papers and not even for the copyright of the Churchill papers, but for a certain degree of access to the Churchill papers. We must recognise that there is a great deal of public concern about the extent to which lottery funds, paid for by all sections of the population, have gone to elitist organisations. That was recognised by Lord Rothschild when he chaired the Royal Commission on gambling in the first instance in 1978.

We recognise that public concern and the fact that the public have an interest in more local, targeted, universal and popular causes than some—I shall not go further than that—of the causes to which money has been given in the past. We reflect public opinion as we expressed it in our manifesto, our policy document, and as it was recognised in the election.

Lord Ewing of Kirkford

My Lords, if I were to take a snap show of hands, I wonder how many Members of your Lordships' House would be found to buy lottery tickets. I would be among those who do not buy them. We sit in this Chamber patting one another on the back and congratulating ourselves on the success of the National Lottery. However, I join my noble friend Lord Taylor of Gryfe in asking whether there is anything in the White Paper that will deal with the problem of addiction to gambling. Contrary to what my noble friend the Minister said, in a supermarket on Saturday morning or just before the closing time for buying tickets, one can see young couples—sometimes, just a young mother with three children—buying not £2 worth of tickets but spending £4 or £5 on tickets and sometimes buying scratch cards as well. Is my noble friend aware of the social damage that that is doing to less well-off families who can ill afford to gamble but who are seduced by the constant promise that on Saturday night by eight o'clock they will be multimillionaires—a forlorn hope?

Finally, just as the drinks industry contributes substantial sums of money to investigations into the problem of alcoholism and just as the tobacco industry contributes substantial sums to investigations into the relationship between cancer and smoking, so, I ask, why should not the gambling industry, led by the National Lottery, contribute substantial funds to investigate the social evil of gambling?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, my noble friend is one of the 10 per cent. of adults who have never taken part in the National Lottery. Let me confess that I equally am an oddball in that I have not taken part. But, then, I have never done the pools, either. I have most of the vices but gambling is not one of them. In that sense, he and I are on the same side.

In answer to my noble friend Lord Taylor of Gryfe, I hope I made the point that whatever may be the evils of gambling—I do not deny that excessive gambling in particular is very much an evil; I do not look at the noble Viscount, Lord Falkland, as we had his confessions on the subject some months ago—the National Lottery, compared with some other forms of gambling, is a relatively soft form of gambling. It does not have the same immediate pay-off and the amounts of money put in from the average family in the course of a week are rather low. I cannot, however, resist the thrust of my noble friend's question about whether there should not be greater research into addiction for gambling. I shall consult on that matter and write to him.

Viscount Thurso

My Lords, there is much in the Statement that I instinctively feel able to support. However, I share many of the reservations enumerated by my noble friend. Therefore, would it be possible for the Government to consider whether the House should be given an early opportunity to have a fuller debate on what is clearly a complex and large subject?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, the proper answer to that question is that it is a matter for the usual channels. Personally, I would welcome such an opportunity. When the noble Viscount has had an opportunity to read the White paper he will see that its whole emphasis is on public consultation. That is why I referred to the free leaflet which will be made very widely available, with the help of Camelot, in the outlets for lottery tickets. We hope that the general public as well as Parliament will feel able to comment on the proposals in the White Paper.

Lord Monkswell

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for repeating the Statement. But perhaps I may associate myself with the remarks made by my noble friend Lord Ewing of Kirkford on the problems of poorer members of our society in relation to the lottery. In that sense, I wonder whether the Minister is prepared to comment on the response from the other side of the Chamber which seemed to be that the National Lottery is a success and that nothing should be done to change it. Let us consider their criteria of success. Are they saying that it is successful to take money from poor people? Are they saying that success is when rich and powerful people have the ability to determine where the lottery proceeds are spent? Is it a criterion of success that money should go in matching funds to organisations which presumably have recourse to other funds in order to match that money? Surely part of the thrust of the Government's White Paper is intended to detract from those criteria of success and use the proceeds of the National Lottery in areas that strike a much greater resonance with the ordinary people in our society.

With regard to disbursement being judged by what I describe as relatively rich and powerful people—the great and the good in our society—would not it be a better way of determining where lottery funds are disbursed to ask local councillors to judge where the money should be spent? Also, bearing in mind that every lottery ticket bought is bought in a specific geographical area and therefore in a local council area, surely we should be able to find some way of ensuring that the money spent by people in a local area goes directly back to that area and is spent in good causes within that area.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, it would be quite impertinent of me to attempt to analyse the motivation of noble Lords opposite in putting their questions. With regard to my noble friend's questions about distribution and consultation, in the White Paper there is quite extensive coverage of the requirement to ensure that the geographical distribution of lottery receipts is in accordance with need and the recognition that there should be far more people, including local people—why not councillors as well?—involved in the way in which funds are distributed. There will also be a serious attempt to make sure that the hurdles that have to be cleared before a person can put forward a lottery fund application are as low as possible.

Lord Crickhowell

My Lords, will the noble Lord, who is a civilised man, refrain from the too-common current practice of amending and distorting the English language by always assuming that "élitism" is a word that describes something that is unsatisfactory and to be avoided? It can simply mean excellence in the arts, culture and history and those matters which the lottery ought to be supporting.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, I acknowledge the noble Lord's correct representation of dictionary definitions. He will notice that when I used the word "élitism", I was not describing my own reaction, but the public reaction to some of the awards that have been made.

Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare

My Lords, is the Minister able to acknowledge that Camelot, who set up the National Lottery, has been praised worldwide for the competent way in which it did so? Will he also acknowledge that the sums raised were far higher than expected? We on this side of the House will have every right to be angry if the contract is given to someone claiming to make no profit and at the end of the day the sums fall considerably lower than they are at the moment through sheer inefficiency. I hope that the Minister will not allow the contract to go to someone on those grounds alone. Camelot should be respected for its amazing achievements in launching the lottery.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, not only do I acknowledge the first two points made by the noble Lord, but I also acknowledged them in advance. In other words, I made those points in my speech. I acknowledged that the lottery is successful and that Camelot deserves a considerable part of the credit for that. It is an efficient operation.

That is not to say that it cannot be improved by an operator who is judged by those best qualified to judge—in this case the director general of Oflot—as being that which is most conducive to maximise the revenue for good causes. That is the fine criterion with which we shall be concerned. That may or may not mean a not-for-profit operator. The objective of maximising the return for good causes is consistent with the noble Lord's wish to have an efficient and effective lottery.