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Mr. Maclennan: Yes, I am aware of that. However, I do not think that the Secretary of State can do that and, at the same time, pray in aid public opinion, as that runs against the evidence that he cited in his opening remarks to our short debate. To be candid, the point of the lottery was to find money for meritorious projects that did not enjoy enough public support for taxpayers' money to be proposed for them by Government or voted for by Parliament. That distortion of the lottery's purpose is unfortunate and it contradicts the Government's intention, as stated by the Prime Minister.

Before I am asked, I shall answer directly the question, "Do you not approve of the objects that will receive money from the new opportunities fund?" Of course, I approve of them, as they all seem to be meritorious projects. Those that have already benefited from expenditure in the fields of health, education and the environment are all justifiable as objects of taxpayers' expenditure. If they had been put to the taxpayer in the kind of questionnaire that the Minister cited, they would undoubtedly have enjoyed support. Without question, many of them seem to be the direct responsibility of Government. Why, for example, should computer training for teachers be dependent on the largesse of the lottery, as it seems to be at the core of teacher training in the new millennium?

There are many other examples, such as healthy living centres. Public health and preventive medicine are among the most important central functions of Government and should not be dependent, as they have been, on expenditure from the new opportunities fund. I face squarely the issue of cancer funding. The Government have not shouldered that burden, but I personally attach a great deal of importance to cancer. Perhaps I have an interest to declare, although not a financial one, as I am a member of the council of the Cancer Research Campaign, which had spent £60 million at the last annual count.

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No one could use me of not caring about cancer. That head of expenditure could clearly be described as one that should attract Government responsibility, not simply the vagaries of a lottery.

Those are not new points for me, or any Liberal Democrat Member, to make, and they reflect our consistent view. I welcome the fact--and this is a modest point--that several proposals emanating from the new opportunities fund appear to have been within the programmes of existing lottery spenders.

For example, let us consider the £750 million for sports facilities for communities and schools. The redistribution of that money to one of the existing lottery distributors could have been justified as being within the terms of the original lottery pitch. However, that is not true of some of the other sums. I regret that. I do not believe that the body should have been established and I shall encourage my hon. Friends to express our view in the Lobby on Wednesday.

1.15 am

Mr. Peter Brooke (Cities of London and Westminster): In opening the debate, the Secretary of State referred to the Government's long-standing policy on the new opportunities fund and the allocation of resources. Perhaps it is worth outlining the previous Government's intention, which brought the lottery into being.

The House will recall that the original distribution of percentages in the National Lottery etc. Act 1993 was: arts--20 per cent; heritage--20 per cent; sport--20 per cent; charities--20 per cent; and the Millennium Commission--20 per cent. That distribution was not amended during the measure's passage and it emerged unscathed. The previous Government used those percentages throughout their time in office.

There was unease during the initial debate on the Bill that introduced the lottery about charities and the lottery's potential effect on their receipts from other sources. The only direct paradigm was the Republic of Ireland, and its experience produced a somewhat variable note. Some charities had no complaints, while others had clearly suffered. No amendment was tabled, but there was pressure to return to the question of how much money charities received when we had more experience of the way in which the lottery worked.

We included in the Bill the ability of the House to review the five 20 per cent. figures at least once a Parliament. The then Government gave a commitment to effect in secondary legislation the House's preference as expressed in a day-long debate. In the context of the problem of the charities, it was said that the 20 per cent. for the Millennium Commission was available as a reserve that could be diverted to charities. It was therefore conceivable that the charities figure could have increased to 40 per cent.

Mr. John Greenway (Ryedale): My right hon. Friend is introducing an element to the debate that I find difficult to understand. Is he saying that much of the pressure for support for charities came from the Labour party, which was then the loyal Opposition? If so, is it not incongruous

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that their first act in government in respect of the lottery was to reduce the amount for charities? The Government have made no effort to restore the amount tonight.

Mr. Brooke: I recall that I gave way approximately 30 times during my speech, which lasted about an hour, on Second Reading. The question of charities was raised during the debate, and continued to be raised in Committee, on Report and on Third Reading. I would be surprised if the question did not reassert itself in another place, given its natural sympathy for charities.

The Government chose a different course, and their initial trawl of ideas bypassed the House. The Secretary of State has described that course. Consultation, to which the Secretary of State referred, has taken place. It is not surprising that alternative producer interests preferred other uses of lottery money to those that had been enjoyed previously. I personally regret the paring of the allocations of other lottery distributors at an earlier stage to create the initial tranche for the new opportunities fund. That happened prior to tabling the order that we are discussing.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: I am extremely grateful to my right hon. Friend for giving way--and delighted to see him here. It is only proper that I recognise the important role that he played in establishing the national lottery.

My right hon. Friend will recall that, as with charities, so with the arts. When the original legislation was passed, there was a great deal of pressure from the arts in particular for lottery money to be additional to, and administered separately from, Government spending. What do the arts make of the establishment of the new opportunities fund and the fact that, from August next year, 30 per cent. of all lottery money will be taken by the Government?

Mr. Brooke: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his kind remarks about the early stages of the lottery's gestation. I have said before in the House that a decent-sized architectural practice could be staffed by those who claim to be the architect of the national lottery. I made no claim other than that I was the master mason, but that was a pleasurable role to fulfil.

My hon. Friend is right that pleas were made by those supporting others of the distributors to increase the amount, though my judgment that the fivefold 20 per cent. figure would survive turned out to be right, because those who might have amended that figure to make it larger realised that someone else might amend it to make it smaller. He is also right about that concern; indeed, the issue of additionality was fundamental to the original decision that the money should go on capital schemes until we knew how matters would work out, perhaps for the better.

The consequence of the order is that the new opportunities fund will receive, if my arithmetic is correct, twice as much as any of the other distributors. Additionality is believed in by the Secretary of State, and I pay ready tribute to him for that, though he will recall a particular moment in the House when his then deputy--the right hon. Member for Coatbridge and Chryston (Mr. Clarke)--had no little difficulty in explaining what additionality was, and said that the Secretary of State would tell us an hour or so later.

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I, too, acknowledge the fact that the new opportunities fund is supposed to be in charge of the money that it distributes and to be an arm's-length distributor in the same way as the others, but the then Secretary of State for Health wrote to tell me the specific beneficiaries for cancer treatment in my constituency before the new opportunities fund had written to me on the same subject, which suggested that the Government were using a longish spoon in the distribution of those particular prizes.

The right hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross (Mr. Maclennan) mentioned information and communications technologies training for school teachers. Capita, which, as I understand it, is bestowing the training in this part of the country, has written to ask me whether I would like to observe it. I have politely responded that I would rather it started to deliver housing benefit to my constituents promptly and accurately before asking me to observe anything else that it seeks to do.

I have put to the National Lottery Charities Board the question whether the new opportunities fund's concentration on health, education and the environment means that the board will no longer be expected to make grants to charities concerned with health, education and the environment. If that is so--the Minister might care to comment--it will not solve the original problem of the charities almost certainly losing out as a result of the lottery, but it will make a small contribution to doing so. However, it will not take away the support that I offer to my hon. Friend the Member for East Surrey (Mr. Ainsworth) and the right hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross in terms of the inappropriateness of that fund's diverting money, which was clearly being used by the then distributors responsibly and additionally to Government expenditure, to the uses to which it is now put.

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