HL Deb 14 March 2005 vol 670 cc1072-3

2.51 p.m.

Lord Clement-Jonesasked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have any plans to abolish the duty payable on lottery tickets.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord McIntosh of Haringey)

My Lords, the taxation of the lottery is a principle that has been accepted by Parliament since the lottery was established in 1994. The lottery is a mainstream gambling activity and., like other gambling activities, should make a contribution to revenues for the funding of essential public services.

Lord Clement-Jones

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that rather disappointing reply. Out of a £1 National Lottery ticket, 50p goes on prizes, 28p goes to good causes and 12p goes on lottery duty. Something of the order of £10 billion has gone to the Treasury over the past 10 years, or £500 million each year. Is it not time that the Government reconsidered the recommendation made at almost exactly this time last year by the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee so that that sum is available for good causes, especially with the creation of the big lottery fund, which means that the Government will control just that much more lottery spending?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, the basis on which the 12p in the pound calculation was made in 1994—by the previous administration, I hasten to say—was that it would replace the loss to the Revenue of taxation on other forms of gambling or, indeed, other forms of charitable giving. I agree that that is more than 10 years ago and it is certainly true that the matter should be, and is being, kept under review. The Treasury evidence to the Commons Select Committee gives credence to that point.

Lord Tomlinson

My Lords, can my noble friend give us any advice and guidance on how far the Exchequer would become dependent on the revenue from the lottery in making up the shortfall following the Liberal Democrats' proposed 50 per cent taxation rate on those earning a salary off £100,000? Is my noble friend of the opinion that there would be enough money from that source to fund all the promises made by the Liberal Democrats?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, this is Starred Questions. I do not have time to list the spending commitments of the Liberal Democrat Party. I would keep your Lordships here all night and that would be quite unreasonable. But certainly the lottery duty brings in £559 million a year, and that should be added to the long list of Liberal Democrat commitments.

Lord Roberts of Conwy

My Lords, can the noble Lord, in his omniscience, tell us whether the original justification for the 12p—as compensation to the Exchequer for other duties lost—has in fact proved to be correct?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

Yes, my Lords. To be precise, research was carried out after the lottery came into force in 1994. Clearly the question of how much other revenue is lost is not a matter of official statistics; it is a matter which has to be examined by research, and that was certainly true at the time or in the years immediately after the lottery came into being. I cannot say whether calculations have been carried out more recently.

The Lord Bishop of Worcester

My Lords, given the figures that the Minister gave us and given the current proposals in the Gambling Bill, does the Minister occasionally think that there might be a risk that the Government will acquire such a vested interest in people gambling that it will make it very difficult for them to address the many social evils which follow when gambling increases to the extent that it has?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, that is an interesting extension of the original Question, although I acknowledge that the right reverend Prelate has succeeded in basing it on the answers that I have given to the Question. Revenues from any kind of gambling, including from the lottery, are a very small part of the revenues of this country—something less than 1 per cent. Therefore, I find it difficult to believe that policy could be dictated, or even influenced, by that degree of contribution to revenues.

Lord Renton

My Lords, having never asked for one of these lottery applications to be sent to me, I find that they now come to me in ever-increasing numbers—the total has reached more than 60 a week—but I have never become rich as a result. Is the state benefiting from this ever-increasing number?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, I am afraid that I do not really follow the question from the noble Lord, Lord Renton. The National Lottery, which we are talking about, requires people to buy National Lottery tickets. I do not know to which applications the noble Lord is referring.

Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville

My Lords, as the beneficiaries of the lottery in 1994 were agreeably surprised that the figure was struck as low as 12 per cent, does that suggest to the Minister that, as in so many other things, Ministers at that time got it about right?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, I should have looked at Dod's or Who's Who before answering this Question.

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