Previous SectionIndexHome Page

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. Perhaps we have dealt adequately with the matter. Will the Minister get on to the substance of his remarks?

Mr. Caborn: Very much so, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I have no doubt that the theme of the debate is that the Opposition's remarks were not as constructive as they ought to have been. Indeed, they reflect the legacy that the previous Administration left this nation. There is no doubt that the lottery is a national institution that most people think of as good. We all ought to acknowledge that and try to keep the ethos going.

May I make a general reply to points that were made by a number of Members? On sport, changes have been made to the allocation and national distribution of lottery funding. My parliamentary answer of 13 February shows that sport received £302 million in 1997 while the figure for 2002-03 is £202 million—a reduction of a third. However, in 1998, we revised the distributors and introduced the new opportunities fund and the community fund. Both are making major contributions to sport. In fact, over the next two to three years, the school sport initiative will receive £750 million. That is probably three times greater than the annual income that goes to Sport England.

Some £30 million from the new opportunities fund is going to the school sports co-ordinators and a further £25 million is going to space for sport and arts. The football museum will receive £9.3 million from the heritage lottery fund. We are also making a major contribution out of Exchequer expenditure to the school sports co-ordinators through Sport England.

1 Mar 2002 : Column 997

My hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Mr. Bryant) referred to the millennium stadium in Cardiff, which was given £46 million by the Millennium Commission. Hampden Park in Scotland was given £24.2 million. A total of £884 million has been given to sport as a result of the changes in distribution made in 1998, so the contribution to sport has not been reduced by a third, as the Opposition claim. On the contrary, it has increased.

Miss McIntosh: How would the right hon. Gentleman respond to Sport England's criticism that ticket sales are falling? The hon. Member for North Devon (Nick Harvey) said that in many countries the lottery got off to a cracking start but then imploded and had no sense of permanence. Sport England has said that it regrets any further cuts. Will the Minister respond to the lack of facilities for 16 to 18-year-olds, who are the next generation? We want them to do just as well as the winter Olympics athletes have done this year.

Mr. Caborn: I was going to deal later with falling ticket sales, but as the hon. Lady has raised the matter I shall deal with it now. It is unfortunate that a fall occurred as a result of the licensing round. Camelot has been experiencing difficulties for nearly two years. I shall not go into all the details of that, because they have been extremely well rehearsed, but there was a considerable decline in participation in the lottery and no fresh ideas were being developed. However, lottery ticket sales are now levelling out. The latest figures that I saw were for January, and they were beginning to increase.

I know that Camelot is putting a lot of effort into relaunching the lottery later this year, and I hope that we can now put the licensing round behind us. The new licensing review is all about learning from that. I hope that, with the help of Camelot and cross-party support, we can now support the lottery in a way that will encourage an increase in ticket sales. The past couple of years have been extremely difficult and the consequence has been a decline in participation, and a subsequent decline in income to good causes. That has now been stemmed and, although one swallow does not make a summer, the January figures have increased.

On investment in sport, I reiterate that more money is going into sport via the lottery, through the NOF, the community fund and Sport England. I understand Sport England's concern that the £750 million from the NOF should have gone through the offices of Sport England rather than through local education authorities. Nevertheless, that is the decision that was made. I know that the new chief executive of Sport England is working closely with the NOF and I hope that that working relationship will be strengthened and that sport will gain from that.

It would be wrong to see these matters in isolation, because a major investment is being made in sport, not only through the lottery but through the education structure—sports colleges, school sports co-ordinators, whom I mentioned earlier, and the links with primary schools. We are dealing with the group of young people whom the hon. Member for Vale of York rightly mentioned—the 16 to 18-year-olds, among whom there is a massive fall-off in participation in sport—not by

1 Mar 2002 : Column 998

providing a short-term fix, but by making the structures sustainable. We are doing that not just with lottery money but with general education money, encouraging local clubs to work with their local communities. It is important that we do not regard lottery money as standing in isolation from other sources of funding, whether for sports, the arts or anything else.

Earlier this week when I visited Canterbury I saw the very first sports hall that had been built with private finance initiative and sports lottery money. That is to be encouraged, because it serves the education structure and the community. A sports college has been funded directly out of taxation, which enhances the investment that has been made by Sport England.

I want to put on the record the fact that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is again present. The development that she referred to in her persuasive and perceptive opening remarks showed that we want to move the lottery on from where it is now. We want to ensure that the review that she announced produces a sensible debate on how we can make the lottery more effective.

Hon. Members argue that the lottery has been politicised, but they should consider the dome, which was one of the great fixes of previous Administrations, and compare that with the question of coalfield communities raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda. The Deputy Prime Minister made no bones about it. He believes that we need to do something for coalfield communities, and to use lottery funds to do so. I do not think that the vast majority of British people have any objections to that. They believe that it is right to do that. Hon. Members may argue that that was a political decision, as was the direction from a Prime Minister that there was a weakness in our sport infrastructure so our new opportunities fund should direct £0.75 billion into sports facilities in our schools. I do not believe that many people in this country would disagree with that. Government's are elected to effect policy, and in the broad context of developing policy Governments have a right to tell distributors how we believe the policies that we have been elected on should be implemented.

Chris Grayling: The concern that I raised was that the announcement of the money for sport in schools was used as a policy announcement at a Labour party conference. My concern is that the more individual allocations of funds from the national lottery become used for specific party political policy announcements, the more they will become an adjunct of Government, and the national lottery's independence from Government will be compromised.

Mr. Caborn: I do not remember where the dome was announced, but I shall find out. The Wembley stadium project was also initiated by a previous Administration. I shall look back at some of the speeches made at Tory party conferences when it was in power. It would be wrong for the impression to be given that we are not investing in sport.

I made the point that the fair shares scheme is yet another refinement of the lottery to meet the needs of the nation. As my right hon. Friend said, it is not the last, and we shall continue to keep the lottery under review. That is important, because we want a sensible debate on how to take it forward.

1 Mar 2002 : Column 999

On the national balances, the commitment by distributors totalled £3.82 billion at the end of December 2001. That was £290 million more than was in their balances, so if everyone drew down on those funds immediately, they would be left with a deficit of £290 million. The corresponding figures for the end of September 2001 were £3.6 billion and an over- commitment of £159 million, which shows that they were committing more funds, not fewer. If everyone drew down on those funds, they would be over-committed. As that commitment is over a period of time, we need to revisit the subject of how those balances are used. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said that very clearly this morning, and has said the same to all the distributors. I shall meet each of them during the coming months to ensure that they do what has been suggested. We want the balances to be reduced by about 50 per cent., and we think that that can be done in the next couple of years. We are committed to a better use of resources, as are the funding bodies. We also think that some of the money could be distributed more effectively.

My hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda spoke of simplifying application processes. That could indeed make the lottery more efficient, and distributors are currently simplifying the system of applications for smaller grants. The heritage lottery fund, for instance, introduced a simple application form for capital grants of less than £50,000, which came into force in April 2001. The community fund has launched a new grant programme relating to awards of between £500 and £60,000, based on the awards for all programme. There is a short, simple application form and a quick turnaround time. I have told the new opportunities fund that I want some fast-tracking in the distribution of the £750 million for school sport: I want things to start happening by the summer.

We shall continue to engage in constructive dialogue with distributors. We shall ensure that they are diligent and that public funds are protected, but we shall also ensure that there is not too much bureaucracy, and that the smaller organisations mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda move more quickly.

My hon. Friend also mentioned coalfields. I understand the problems. I am glad that my hon. Friend acknowledged—as has the coalfield communities campaign—that we have made significant progress since 1998, but structural weaknesses still exist. As my hon. Friend knows, at a conference late last year we discussed with the coalfield communities how the applications system could be made simpler and more effective. Some local authorities have received money to enable them to help organisations in coalfield areas to make their applications. We will keep the situation under constant review, and hope to see improvements. I was not aware of the figures relating to the arts that my hon. Friend mentioned, but the matter should be given more consideration.

I have expressed our concerns about the last licensing round. Camelot—to which, like others, I pay tribute for the efficient way in which it deals with the lottery—embarked on a new seven-year licence in January. I hope that our review will consider how that could have been handled more effectively. Certainly it could not have been handled any worse.

1 Mar 2002 : Column 1000

At the time of the Budd report in 1997, the lottery had already been subjected to one review, and people did not think it very logical for another to take place. Time will tell whether they were right or wrong, but I think our licensing review is important in the context of Budd. A number of the report's 176 recommendations could affect the lottery, and we must consider them carefully. As I think we have all agreed, the lottery is almost a national institution, and is recognised as such. We must think carefully before making changes that might affect that status. The Government are close to reaching a conclusion on the three-month review by Budd. I hope that soon we will be able to announce to the House our reflections on it and the many submissions that were made during the consultation period.

The hon. Member for Epsom and Ewell (Chris Grayling) mentioned a constituent who had problems with the allocation of money for the millennium dome. As I understand it, the additional £179 million did not come from lottery money but from the Millennium Commission. I think that the allegation was that it slowed down or detracted from the allocation of other lottery funds. As I do not want to mislead the House or the hon. Gentleman's constituent, I will get my officials to look into the matter and write to him to clear up the problem once and for all. I do not have the information that I need to make a definitive statement on it now.

The contribution by the hon. Member for Vale of York was not as constructive as I would have expected it to be. Perhaps it was written by central office, because all Friday speeches seem to be. She gave some interesting statistics. We may not believe that MORI polls are always right, but the poll in question was carried out on behalf of several organisations. It asked people to identify two or three of the most important recipients of lottery funding out of a list of 10. Some 69 per cent. of respondents identified health, 55 per cent. identified education and 26 per cent. identified the environment as causes on which lottery money should be spent. Obviously we would have to look at the survey in more depth to understand why people think that. However, it is interesting that people outside the House in the real world think that health, education and the environment can gain from lottery involvement.

Next Section

IndexHome Page