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The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Tessa Jowell): The National Lottery Commission made it clear, when it awarded the licence to Camelot in December, that it thought both biddersCamelot and The People's Lotterywere over-optimistic in their sales projections. The commission's best estimate is that sales will be maintained at their current levels of around£5 billion a year, which would mean more than £10 billion for good causes over the duration of the next licence. Of course, everyone will be delighted if Camelot achieves more than that, but that is partly in its gift and partly depends on the confidence that the British public have in the lottery.
Phil Hope: I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply and welcome her to the Dispatch Box. There is a concern that there might be a shortfall in the amount of money available from Camelot going into good causes. The Furniture Turnaround project in my constituency applied to the community fund; as it is a marvellous project, everyone agreed that it should receive the money. However, not enough money was available and that was
Tessa Jowell: I entirely accept my hon. Friend's point. Every single constituency has benefited from lottery funding, and it requires the powerful advocacy of individual Members of Parliament to secure the maximum available for their constituents.
Mr. Chris Smith (Islington, South and Finsbury): May I give my warm congratulations to my right hon. Friend on taking up what is undoubtedly the best job in government? She will find that it has its ups and downs but that she has the potential to make a real difference to the lives of millions of people in this country. In that context, whatever the sum of money raised for good causes by the national lottery, will she give a firm commitment that the percentages within that sum for the arts, sport, heritage and charities will be maintained throughout the period of the current franchise?
Tessa Jowell: I can certainly give that undertaking to my right hon. Friend, whom I thank. I know that the House will want to pay tribute to his outstanding period as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. As he will know, because he was responsible for renegotiating it, there will be a realignment of the amount allocated to each of the beneficiaries when the millennium fund ceases and the funds currently allocated to the millennium fund are allocated to the new opportunities fund, whose share will rise to 33 per cent. of the total.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Dr. Kim Howells): The number of overseas visits to the United Kingdom was estimated to have fallen by 6 per cent. in the three months from March to May 2001 compared with the same period last year. My predecessor as Minister had planned to address a loss of this nature when awarding the British Tourist Authority an extra £14.2 million this year. Its strategy is to stimulate the recovery of inbound tourism, and I am confident the benefits of this initiative are now emerging.
Tony Baldry: I thank the Minister for that answer, but I am not sure that he appreciates that another Department is seeking to claim back 17.5 per cent. in supposed VAT payments out of the £14.2 million that his Department has made available to the British Tourist Authority. That seems somewhat bizarre.
Will the Minister take this opportunity to make two announcements? First, will he confirm that the British Tourist Authority will receive the full £14.2 million? That is what it believed it would receive and it seems only fair that it should receive it. Secondly, for those of us who represent English constituencies, there is some concern that the English Tourism Council does not have a
Dr. Howells: First, I was surprised to hear that VAT payments had not been factored in. It was certainly a miscalculation on the part of the British Tourist Authority, and we are looking closely at that. Secondly, there is no question but that foot and mouth disease has severely tested present marketing arrangements. Marketing is the responsibility of regional tourist boards and, latterly, regional development agencies. We will be working very hard with them and the English Tourism Council to ensure that there are no inadequacies or slippages in the marketing of English regions in this country.
Mr. Lindsay Hoyle (Chorley): Would my hon. Friend consider the introduction of grants to local authorities where tourism has been affected by foot and mouth? In that way, we would know that the money was going to constituencies that have been directly affected.
Dr. Howells: We are working closely with local authorities to ensure that deferments of rates, for example, do not become a burden that they cannot stand. I very much hope that the considerable packages that we have made available will see local authorities and indirectly, businesses through what promises for some to be a very hard winter.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth (East Surrey): I welcome the new Minister for tourism to the Front Bench. He has got off to a slightly ropy start. It was not the British Tourist Authority that put out press releases about £14.2 million, but his Departmentwithout any reference to VAT.
Does the Minister understand why the insensitive and ill-timed insultstalk of slave wage rates and rip-offsthat he levelled at the tourism industry recently have caused such outrage? With tourism facing a £5 billion shortfall in revenue this year, investment falling and thousands of jobs at risk, do not people in the tourism industry have a right to expect some support from the Minister responsible? Will he therefore take this opportunity to redeem something of his reputation and apologise to the industry for his remarks?
Dr. Howells: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for acknowledging that I have some reputation left. The article to which he referredhe clearly has not read it; he has never heard of the thingappeared in Caterer and Hotelkeeper. His comments are clearly driven by the same geniuses who proposed the last Conservative manifesto.
The Minister for Sport (Mr. Richard Caborn): Up-to-date information on the proportion of lottery money raised is not available. As of 5 July 2001, the total number of grants awarded to Thurrock is 79, and they are worth just over £2.5 million.
Andrew Mackinlay: The last figures that I had showed that the number of lottery tickets purchased in my constituency was twice the national average. When I listen to such replies, I am reminded of the song:
It's the rich wot gets the pleasure,
It's the poor wot gets the blame"
Mr. Caborn: I thank my hon. Friend for that kind question. Camelot has carried out only one survey of ticket sales in each constituency, which it conducted on the fifth anniversary of the lottery. My hon. Friend is right: sales in his constituency were £60 million compared with the mean of about £30 million, and those figures are in the Library. The lottery distributors must develop a strategy to assess the needs of different areas. However, we must be careful if we are going to dispute the money based on the sales of lottery tickets. It is not entirely true that the better-off do not participate, because they do, and we would have to consider those figures as well.
On 27 June, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced £150 million for initiatives to secure a fairer share of lottery money for the 50 most deprived areas. We are trying to address the questions that my hon. Friend raises.