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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, my noble friend's attitude towards the lottery is well known and well respected. It is a view expressed not just by him but by many sincere people who feel very profoundly that even a lottery which contributes as much as this one does to good causes is somehow immoral and an attack on the fabric of our society. I respect that view without sharing it.
My noble friend asks whether there has been research on the effect of the National Lottery upon individuals who take part in it. The cant word is "invest" but I think it right to call it gambling because that is really what it is. The answer is that research has indeed been carried on through the Office for National Statistics and on the effect on other charities in collaboration with the National Council of Voluntary Organisations. That research is continuing.
Compared to some other forms of gambling, the National Lottery is very soft gambling. In most cases it is not the kind of gambling where the return is immediate, except for the relatively minor scratch cards. The amount of expenditure on the National Lottery per household per week is of the order of £2, which is not earth-shattering when compared to something like £9 spent on cigarettes and £15 on alcohol. It is not really a destruction of the fabric of our society. On the whole, provided we keep the National Lottery to soft gambling, as it is at the moment, I do not think that my noble friend's most dramatic fears are likely to be realised.
Lord Renton of Mount Harry: My Lords, I find the Statement made by the Minister very puzzling. If Camelot had not been a success and if the National Lottery had failed to meet the targets which the previous Conservative government had in mind for it of revenue of about £2 billion a year and perhaps £100 million or £150 million going to each of the five good causes, then there might have been good reason for change. In fact, the lottery and Camelot have exceeded all the hopes that we had when the project was started by the Conservative government four years ago. So if it ain't broke, why fix it?
My fear is that what the noble Lord has told us this afternoon is the thin end of the wedge. It is ministerial hands getting on the funds produced by the lottery in order to direct them into ideas and conceptions which are appealing to the Secretaries of State for the Environment, Health or Education. I do not blame them for that: every Secretary of State worth his salt should have his own ideas. But surely the last thing that your Lordships would wish to see is the money generated by the lottery, which was intended to go to causes such as arts, sports and heritage, which were not getting government money, being diverted into pet schemes of Ministers?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Renton of Mount Harry, made two generic comments. Perhaps I may encapsulate his arguments into the two most important points. The first was: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. We acknowledge the success of the lottery and pay tribute to all who contributed to it. But the allocation of the licence to the operator for the first time was made in a very considerable spirit of insecurity. We did not know how successful the lottery would be. Camelot did not know, and Oflot did not know. Therefore, perhaps there was an undue degree of caution in the extent to which profits were allowed to be taken out of the lottery.
We have the advantage now. I acknowledge the justice of some of the noble Lord's comments. But we know much more about the success of the lottery. Nothing is secure in gambling, but at least we have experience of success and may be able to achieve a better bargain on the next occasion in four years' time when the licence is awarded. It would be foolish and irresponsible for the Government not to take advantage of that knowledge to secure the best deal for the taxpayer and, above all, for the good causes.
The noble Lord's second point concerned the pet schemes of Ministers. I recall that the first award made by the heritage lottery fund was an award of £13 million not for the acquisition of the Churchill papers and not even for the copyright of the Churchill papers, but for a certain degree of access to the Churchill papers. We must recognise that there is a great deal of public concern about the extent to which lottery funds, paid for by all sections of the population, have gone to elitist organisations. That was recognised by Lord Rothschild when he chaired the Royal Commission on gambling in the first instance in 1978.
We recognise that public concern and the fact that the public have an interest in more local, targeted, universal and popular causes than some--I shall not go further than that--of the causes to which money has been given in the past. We reflect public opinion as we expressed it in our manifesto, our policy document, and as it was recognised in the election.
Lord Ewing of Kirkford: My Lords, if I were to take a snap show of hands, I wonder how many Members of your Lordships' House would be found to buy lottery tickets. I would be among those who do not buy them. We sit in this Chamber patting one another on the back and congratulating ourselves on the success of the National Lottery. However, I join my noble friend Lord Taylor of Gryfe in asking whether there is anything in the White Paper that will deal with the problem of addiction to gambling. Contrary to what my noble friend the Minister said, in a supermarket on Saturday morning or just before the closing time for
Finally, just as the drinks industry contributes substantial sums of money to investigations into the problem of alcoholism and just as the tobacco industry contributes substantial sums to investigations into the relationship between cancer and smoking, so, I ask, why should not the gambling industry, led by the National Lottery, contribute substantial funds to investigate the social evil of gambling?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, my noble friend is one of the 10 per cent. of adults who have never taken part in the National Lottery. Let me confess that I equally am an oddball in that I have not taken part. But, then, I have never done the pools, either. I have most of the vices but gambling is not one of them. In that sense, he and I are on the same side.
In answer to my noble friend Lord Taylor of Gryfe, I hope I made the point that whatever may be the evils of gambling--I do not deny that excessive gambling in particular is very much an evil; I do not look at the noble Viscount, Lord Falkland, as we had his confessions on the subject some months ago--the National Lottery, compared with some other forms of gambling, is a relatively soft form of gambling. It does not have the same immediate pay-off and the amounts of money put in from the average family in the course of a week are rather low. I cannot, however, resist the thrust of my noble friend's question about whether there should not be greater research into addiction for gambling. I shall consult on that matter and write to him.
Viscount Thurso: My Lords, there is much in the Statement that I instinctively feel able to support. However, I share many of the reservations enumerated by my noble friend. Therefore, would it be possible for the Government to consider whether the House should be given an early opportunity to have a fuller debate on what is clearly a complex and large subject?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the proper answer to that question is that it is a matter for the usual channels. Personally, I would welcome such an opportunity. When the noble Viscount has had an opportunity to read the White paper he will see that its whole emphasis is on public consultation. That is why I referred to the free leaflet which will be made very widely available, with the help of Camelot, in the outlets for lottery tickets. We hope that the general public as well as Parliament will feel able to comment on the proposals in the White Paper.
With regard to disbursement being judged by what I describe as relatively rich and powerful people--the great and the good in our society--would not it be a better way of determining where lottery funds are disbursed to ask local councillors to judge where the money should be spent? Also, bearing in mind that every lottery ticket bought is bought in a specific geographical area and therefore in a local council area, surely we should be able to find some way of ensuring that the money spent by people in a local area goes directly back to that area and is spent in good causes within that area.
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