Examination of Witnesses (Questions 536
THURSDAY 18 JANUARY 2001
Thank you very much for coming back to see us.
We are moving towards the end, though not absolutely the end,
of this inquiry. Of course, since we last saw you, you have made
your decision about who will be the licensee for the next period.
Obviously, for that and for other reasons, we have more questions
to ask you. Mr Fearn will begin.
536. Do you think that the problems over the
selection of licensee will have any lasting effects on the popularity
of the Lottery?
(Lord Burns) Of course that is very difficult to judge.
At the moment I have no evidence that that is the case. I hope
that from now on things will settle down, that life will go back
to something approaching normality, and that, whatever adverse
memories there are from this process, they will be forgotten.
I think I said at the last evidence session that I do not see
any clear evidence at this stage, in sales levels or whatever,
that there has been any impact from this process.
537. There was an impact during that period,
though, was there not? Camelot reported that sales were greatly
(Lord Burns) You have to smooth out the figures and
to look at them over a period. My best reading of the total sales
figures is that the underlying trend is broadly flat.
538. I know you particularly were not there
at the time but do you think that the Commission themselves created
the problems that we had? I do. Do you?
(Lord Burns) The fundamental problem that arose was
that there were two bids in the summer which were not compliant.
They did not meet the hurdles that were set in the legislation.
My view is that that is the core of the problem that then emerged.
Obviously the handling of the second stage, in particular the
judicial review and the fact that the Commission's proposals for
handling that were overturned by the judge, contributed to the
problem. We should not forget that the basic problem that emerged
from this was that, after a long period of looking at the two
bids, neither of them passed the first two tests that are set
out in the legislation. That should be given the right amount
of weight in asking what contribution the Commission made in terms
of the judgment in August that was found to be faulty.
539. Can I remind you of what you said actually
at our last session? You said that you had not had an opportunity
to consider the future of regulation of the Lottery. Have you
now reflected on this issue and what are your conclusions?
(Lord Burns) I think you will probably
accept that, between the period when I was last giving evidence
and now, I have been rather heavily engaged in other matters,
most particularly in completing the process of evaluation. I have
not given as yet any further thought to the future of regulation.
I hope that, once we have these hearings out of the way and once
I get through the rest of this month, I will have the opportunity
to give some further thought to it. In all honesty, I have been
quite busy since the last time I was here.