Previous SectionIndexHome Page

10.11 am

Miss Anne McIntosh (Vale of York): I am delighted to respond on behalf of the official Opposition to this welcome debate on the achievements of the national lottery. I personally welcome the Secretary of State on one of her rare appearances at the Dispatch Box, having missed an interesting debate on Ofcom on Second Reading and a debate on the earlier Select Committee report on the subject.

Today we celebrate the national lottery as one of the lasting achievements of the Major Government, as it was launched in November 1994. It has raised £12 billion for good causes, and £36 billion has been spent on tickets. We also welcome this first major debate on the lottery.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Camelot, whose lottery is consistently ranked among the top lotteries in the world in terms of efficiency and returns to good causes and Government. The lottery duty paid to the Government over this period has been £4.2 billion; retailer commission has reached £1.8 billion; and the total of prizes across games has reached more than £7.3 billion.

Like the Secretary of State, I congratulate the distributing bodies. The Arts Council and others; the community fund; Sport England and others; and the national lottery fund each distribute 16 per cent. of the total, while the Millennium Commission distributes 20 per cent.

During the second licence period, it is estimated that the national lottery will help to create and secure in the region of 121,600 jobs. The national lottery has made more than 97,000 awards, benefiting thousands of communities across the UK.

The overall size of a jackpot ticket is in the region of £2 million, and the overall average amount going to jackpot winners is £639,301. I would like to declare an interest, in that having purchased a lottery ticket on normal weeks, I do not seem to have become a jackpot

1 Mar 2002 : Column 956

winner. About 60 per cent. of the adult population plays the national lottery generally. The average spend per week is £3.32 and there are approximately 36,000 national lottery retailers throughout the UK.

As the Secretary of State has suggested, every constituency in the land has benefited, and Vale of York is no exception. The Leonard Cheshire foundation received £146,000 from the community fund; a playground at Newton-on-Ouse received £37,000; Topcliffe and Asenby village hall received £5,000; Topcliffe playing field received almost £5,000; Stillington village hall received almost £5,000; and Thirsk hockey club received just under £2,000 from Sport England.

Nationally, by September 2001 the Sports Council across the UK awarded nearly 17,000 grants, worth nearly £1.6 billion. It is important to recognise that the lottery fund contributed to the success of Great Britain's team at the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney, where Britain won 28 medals, finishing tenth in the overall medals table. At the Paralympic games, Britain won 131 medals, finishing second in the medals table. At the recent Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Britain had its best result since 1934, and I add our congratulations on their magnificent achievement, which was recognised on Monday.

Before we get carried away by the huge successes and achievements of the national lottery, let us pause to consider the fact that there are disappointments under the stewardship of this Secretary of State and this Government. My hon. Friend the Member for South Suffolk (Mr. Yeo)—who leads for the Opposition—said at Question Time on Monday, with reference to a written answer from the Minister for Sport on 13 February, that:

If it is correct that more than £3 billion in unspent lottery funds is sitting unused—the Secretary of State alluded to this—the rejection of proposals such as that from the university of Hertfordshire to build an Olympic-sized swimming pool is, as my hon. Friend said on Monday, profoundly discouraging for budding sportsmen and sports fans, and undermines the chances of future Olympic success.

It has come to my notice that there is a category of young athlete, aged 16 to 18, who currently do not qualify for any training funds under the sports fund. I take this opportunity to make a special plea that they should qualify in future.

An earlier disappointment, to which the Secretary of State referred, was the setting up of the new opportunities fund. On 7 April 1998, the former Prime Minister and right hon. Member for Huntingdon, John Major, said in a debate on the National Lottery Bill:

Tessa Jowell: The hon. Lady refers to the record of the previous Prime Minister and to his comments that funding

1 Mar 2002 : Column 957

for certain activities now funded by the new opportunities fund should be tax borne. Why did the previous Government never take steps to fund such activities from tax?

Miss McIntosh: The right hon. Lady will recall that, particularly in relation to health, we had a year-on-year increase in spending.

Tessa Jowell: Rubbish.

Miss McIntosh: It is very well for the right hon. Lady to say that, but I stand by my Government's record. Subsequent to the eloquent intervention of my hon. Friend the Member for Epsom and Ewell (Chris Grayling), it is a source of concern to the Opposition not only that lottery funds are being diverted from the good causes for which they were originally intended, but that the Government appear to be intervening to set objectives for lottery distributors.

Also in the debate in 1998, John Major said:

this Government—

—[Official Report, 7 April 1998; Vol. 310, c. 189-90.]

Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham): Will the hon. Lady give way?

Miss McIntosh: Why not?

Mr. Steinberg: Is the hon. Lady saying that if we had a Conservative Government in 20 or 30 years' time, they would stop that sort of expenditure and not keep the new opportunities fund, which has given millions of pounds to constituencies throughout the country for many different schemes, which would never have been paid for by the taxpayer, neither under this Government or the previous one?

Miss McIntosh: I fear I would be ruled out of order if I set out the objectives of a future Conservative Government. When the time comes, we shall have plenty of opportunities to discuss our priorities.

The raiding of the lottery for causes that were always intended to be funded from general taxation is deeply regrettable. General tax spending is substituted by money raised through the generosity of ordinary people who purchase lottery tickets week in, week out, in the belief that they may win the jackpot—in the Secretary of State's words, their personal dream—safe in the knowledge that they are contributing to good causes. Their trust should not be abused.

That money is not public money—it is not taxpayers' money—and the two should not be confused. Even the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) who, regrettably, is not in the Chamber today, has been known to refer to lottery money in that

1 Mar 2002 : Column 958

way. Let us recognise and rejoice in the generosity of national lottery players, who raise funds for good causes which, historically, taxpayers' money has not reached.

I welcome the Secretary of State's refinement of the definition of the principle of additionality and her further commitment to it. The principle that lottery money should be additional to existing public expenditure is as relevant today as it was in 1994. Even now, good causes are under threat from another direction. The Budd review on the deregulation of betting shops and other gambling outlets could pose a threat to the national lottery and money raised for good causes. I am sure that the right hon. Lady will have received, as all Opposition Members have, many heartfelt representations from lottery distributors about that.

Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: Pinner Wood school in my constituency has just received an £18,000 grant to run an after-school club. Is the hon. Lady's party committed to abolishing the new opportunities fund? Will she make a commitment today, or has she secured a commitment from her education and Treasury spokesmen, that her party would match from general taxation the money that would be lost by schools like Pinner Wood to fund after-school clubs, which were not being provided when this Government came to power?

Next Section

IndexHome Page