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House of Commons

Friday 17 January 1992

The House met at half-past Nine o'clock


[Mr. Speaker-- in the Chair ]



9.34 am

Mr. Stuart Randall (Kingston upon Hull, West) : To the honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, I wish to present the humble petition of Richard Jackson, the organiser/secretary of the Hull Asbestos Action Group and the humble petition of numerous residents of Great Britain, there being the massive number of 4,413 from the great city of Kingston upon Hull alone.

The petition

Sheweth :--a humble plea requesting the banning of all asbestos in Great Britain.

Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House might bring forth a Bill prohibiting the importation, manufacture and use of all asbestos in Great Britain, at the earliest possible date. And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, etc. To lie upon the Table.

Kashmir (Human Rights)

9.35 am

Mr. Ray Whitney (Wycombe) : I have the honour to present to the House a petition signed by some 500 of my constituents in which they express deep and understandable concern about the very worrying situation in Kashmir which I believe should be resolved in accordance with the United Nations resolutions of 1948 and 1949 and the Simla agreement of 1972 between India and Pakistan.

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My constituents call upon the House in the following terms : Wherefore your petitioners pray that your honourable House will condemn the systematic mass murders, torture, arson and rape by the Indian forces of occupation in Kashmir ; promote international efforts to help refugees fleeing Kashmir and to relieve the hardship and suffering of the people who remain in the territory ; demand that India permit Amnesty International and other independent human rights agencies to enter Kashmir, with a view to investigating and reporting on human rights violation ;

and calls for the withdrawal of the Indian armed forces and security forces from the State of Jammu and Kashmir and their replacement by an interim United Nations Administration, with the task of restoring law and order and, as soon as possible, conducting the said plebiscite.

To lie upon the Table.

Education (Ealing)

9.36 am

Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North) : I have the honour to present a petition signed by Christine Eborall, Maggie Dimakopoulos, Helen Burns, Anthony Whitford and nearly 400 of my constituents to the honourable House of Commons of the United Kingdom, of Great Britain and of Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled.

This is the humble petition of the Friends of Compton first school and the Home school association of Gurnell middle school in Ealing W13, which shows that in the case of the London borough of Ealing proposals for the reorganisation of primary, secondary and tertiary education have not yet been decided by the Secretary of State for Education and Science and that such a decision is urgent. My constituents' children will not know until that decision is taken the precise school for their children next September. Teachers will also not finally be in post until the decision is taken.

Wherefore your petitioners pray that your honourable House will press the Secretary of State for Education for an immediate decision on the merger of these two schools

and on the decision relating to the remaining Ealing schools, to ensure that teacher recruitment and building alterations can be completed by September 1992. This decision is vitally important to the morale of the teaching staff and the well-being of the children. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, etc. I beg leave to present the petition.

To lie upon the Table.

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Orders of the Day

National Lottery Bill

Order for Second Reading read.

Mr. Speaker : In view of the large number of right hon. and hon. Members who wish to participate in the debate, I propose to put a 10-minute limit on speeches between 11.30 am and 1 pm. I hope that the hon. Members who are fortunate enough to be called before that time will bear the limit in mind.

9.39 pm

Mr. Ivan Lawrence (Burton) : I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

I am delighted that the Bill has attracted so much interest and enthusiasm from my parliamentary colleagues that, unusually for a Friday, a 10-minute time limit on speeches has been proposed. I shall endeavour to comply, but I cannot guarantee that I shall be able to conform. I hope that you, Mr. Speaker, will not insist that I limit my speech to 10 minutes.

I hope that the House will think it appropriate that, having won the lottery of the private Members' ballot, I should devote the proceeds of my good fortune to a more glorious lottery. I look forward to the time--very soon, I hope--when a national lottery, so big that it will attract millions of players and tens of millions of pounds every week, will breathe considerable new resources into areas of British life which the taxpayers' money barely reaches--to the arts, to sport, to our national heritage, to charities and, of course, into the pockets of the lucky winners. The aim of the Bill is nothing less than to raise the quality of life in Britain to even higher levels.

When the political air is alive with the conflict of party politics, it is a real joy to be able to introduce a measure which has the enthusiastic support of Members on both sides of the House. I pay tribute to the Bill's distinguished sponsors.

Every country in Europe has a national lottery, except one--Albania. I say nothing against that fascinating yet unhappy country, but I do not recall any other area of national life in which we have claimed to be the equal of Albania. In all, 116 countries, at the last count, are known to have national lotteries. Why? It is because a large enough lottery raises huge sums which can be used to do a huge amount of public good.

A Gallup poll taken in October told us that 72 per cent. of the adult population of Britain would play a national lottery if we had one. If other national lotteries are anything to go by, we could expect to raise about £3 billion a year from 25 million to 30 million players. We could for example, split that sum three ways. We could say that a third would go to the beneficiaries--the Bill specifies the arts, sport, heritage, and charities such as medical research--a third could go to the prize winners, and the other third would be for operating costs and for the taxpayer.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) : Will the hon. and learned Gentleman give way?

Mr. Lawrence : I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman in a moment.

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My hon. Friend the Minister might say that the taxman will not be interested in the lottery, in which case its beneficial results would be so much the greater. But I am not as confident as I should like to be about the Government's attitude, so I have taken the precaution of incorporating in the Bill an opportunity for the Consolidated Fund to work its way.

Mr. Skinner rose--

Mr. Lawrence : I see that I am about to receive the support of the hon. Member ; I welcome that.

Mr. Skinner : Will the hon. and learned Gentleman confirm that, although a distribution into thirds may be the going rate, in the United States, where there are lotteries, some of the money finishes up in the pockets of politicians? In one recent case, a senator got done for corruption because he had been lining his pockets with money from lottery schemes.

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman confirm that the people behind the move towards a lottery in Britain are in no way connected to the United States lottery schemes that have been lining the pockets of politicians there? Apparently, money has been offered to the people who want to operate the lottery scheme in Britain. Will the hon. and learned Gentleman give us an assurance today that no money has been received from the United States for the campaign and that no such money will be used in future? Many suggestions have been made in United States newspapers that that is taking place already.

Mr. Lawrence : The hon. Gentleman brings his well-known anti- Americanism even into a debate on a private Member's Bill on a lottery. In presenting the Bill, I am not in a position to give any undertaking about details that still have to be worked out. I do not know whether Americans are involved in any offers that may be made in the course of the tendering.

However, I am sure both that the integrity of British public life is beyond question and that when my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary makes the necessary choices and formulates the necessary regulations for the national lottery regulatory authority he will certainly not do anything to encourage any kind of dishonesty or malpractice. We can all be confident of that-- that is, all of us except the hon. Member for Bolsover, (Mr. Skinner).

Mr. Ray Whitney (Wycombe) : May I make a more constructive point than that made by the hon. Member for Bolsover? I very much support my hon. and learned Friend's Bill. He said that the lottery was likely to raise £3 billion. I wonder whether he has considered the findings of the Peacock committee, which in 1985 considered the possibility of a lottery for funding the BBC. It estimated that £500 million was the outside figure that might be raised. Grossed up in today's terms, that could mean £1 billion. I wonder whether that thought might allay the fears of the pools promoters. The lottery would open up a new market, so the football pools--with the good that they, too, do--may not be damaged as much as some apprehensions suggest that they might.

Mr. Lawrence : My hon. Friend has made a helpful point, and I am grateful for all such help. I cannot confirm anything about broadcasting history or public opinion polls of 1985. I shall try to explain to the House how we came up with our figure.

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We have observed a number of other national lotteries elsewhere in the world, especially in Europe. We have seen how popular they are and brought our estimates into line with that, and with the Gallup poll that suggested that 25 million to 30 million British people would take part, and told us the sort of price that they would be prepared to pay. Two rather good estimates have been made. The lower estimate--made by the Sports Council--is that £2 billion would be raised. Another estimate--that £4 billion would be raised--was also made by a reputable body. In my normal, moderate, middle-of-the-road way, I have taken the middle path and used a figure of £3 billion.

Mr. Denis Howell (Birmingham, Small Heath) : Will the hon. and learned Gentleman give way?

Mr. Lawrence : I shall give way to one of the most distinguished sponsors of the Bill.

Mr. Howell : I need to deal with the regrettable interference of my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), and the suggestion that he made. I must declare that I am a director--unpaid, as we all are--of the National Lottery Promotion Company. In view of the suggestions that have been made, I wish to tell my hon. Friend that no director has received a penny from our activities, nor intends to do so. Our purpose would be at an end if a lottery were promoted. Secondly, no American money has come forward for the promotion of the national lottery. It is true that £20,000 has been paid towards our expenses, but that pales into insignificance compared with the expenditure on the other side. It was paid by a British company which is a subsidiary of an American company-- [Interruption.] I am telling the House frankly what has happened. If my hon. Friend says that there is anything wrong in British companies operating in this country supporting the cause, he has an extraordinary sense of values. I hope that that clears up the matter and that the debate can now proceed normally.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker) : I should tell the House that interventions will be a factor taken into account in determining who will catch my eye later.

Mr. Lawrence : I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell). Those comments could not have come from a more authoritative source than a former Labour Minister for sport. I am only sorry that, when I have come here in a spirit of ecumenicalism, expecting that there will be no conflict between the Labour and the Conservative sides of the House, it seems that our Labour friends are falling out among themselves. Please, gentlemen, maintain that spirit of ecumenicalism, which I want to encourage today.

Mr. Peter Bottomley (Eltham) : I hope to develop some arguments later, if I catch Mr. Deputy Speaker's eye. On a point of fact, does my hon. and learned Friend agree that the net consumer spend on gambling and gaming is about £3,300 million a year? My hon. and learned Friend's estimate of £3,300 million being spent on a national lottery would be either an addition, thus doubling the amount of gaming and gambling, or a substitution.

Mr. Lawrence : I do not agree. It seems that the Treasury is not quite sure how much money it gets from gambling. There is a discrepancy of £3.5 billion between the figures at the end of 1990 and the figures at the beginning of 1991. I am sure that we can work rather more

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on that matter during our debate. For the moment, I say that my hon. Friend is wrong in suggesting that there will be no element of new money and no element of increased money to the Treasury, if the Treasury decides to take money from the national lottery.

Mr. Derek Conway (Shrewsbury and Atcham) : My hon. and learned Friend is very patient. I must tell the House that I act as adviser for the National Association of Bookmakers, as my hon. and learned Friend knows. He will recall that the Select Committee on Home Affairs produced a report on the effects of the levy which bookmakers pay to the Government. The figures in that report and Home Office figures often differ considerably. Will my hon. and learned Friend describe the impact of clause 2 on the licensed betting offices, which run gambling in a proper and regulated way and which have a genuine and understandable concern that the Bill will have a serious impact on their livelihoods?

Mr. Lawrence : I have nothing but the best regard for licensed gamblers. From time to time I have advised them on a legal basis and I must declare that interest. Some of my best friends are bookies. On the question of the Bill's effect on a particular interest, I am unwilling and unable to give an answer, simply because the Bill is an enabling measure. Everything is to be played for and everyone's interest is to be competed for. I have no reason to think that anyone's interest is likely to be excluded.

There is an important point for hon. Members of all parties about the financing and taxation of gambling. The figures show that the return from the sporting and gambling industry to the Exchequer outweighs the money that the Government spend on sport by about 8.5 : 1. The more money that the Government put into sport, the more--eight and a half times more--will come back.

Mr. Patrick Cormack (Staffordshire, South) : Will my hon. and learned Friend underline the fact that, worthy as bookmakers may be and wealthy as they may be--the Rolls-Royces on the racecourses testify eloquently to that--the money paid under the Bill will come to the public good?

Mr. Lawrence : I know that it is sometimes to the public good that people win large sums with the national bookmakers. Let us not fall out over that. I think that the Bill will please everybody-- [Hon. Members : -- "No."] I am sure--

Mr. Thomas Graham (Renfrew, West and Inverclyde) : Will the hon. and learned Gentleman give way?

Mr. Lawrence : Having given way on half a dozen occasions, I am sure that I have your support, Mr. Deputy Speaker, in asking to be given the opportunity to make progress. In due course, I may give way to the hon. Gentleman when I feel like having a breather. Why should the arts, sport, heritage and charities be the beneficiaries of the Bill? My answer is that they are areas of British life which are important to the character and reputation of our nation and to the quality of life, but which are not sufficiently well funded by taxpayers' money.

France has 20 times as many covered tennis courts as we have. Germany has 20 times as many covered

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swimming pools and 96 more opera houses. Our 50,000 competitive swimmers have to share only 12 Olympic pools. More amenities would not be just plain indulgence.

How many more of our children would spend time in sporting activities if there were more and better facilities for them? What is the curse on our children today? It is sitting in front of television sets and being subject to boredom. Most of us are parents and know that boredom leads to crime. It is no coincidence that the peak age of criminality is not the twenties and thirties, involving those who are unemployed, but the middle teens. Those kids are bored out of their little minds and find mischief to do. If we give them better swimming pools, better and more football pitches, more and better athletic grounds and gymnasia, and more local theatres and musical instruments to engage their interest and vitality, there is likely to be a reduction in juvenile crime. That is one way in which such expenditure would help British society.

That is why the Bill is backed enthusiastically by the Arts Council, the Sports Council, the Amateur Boxing Association, the Amateur Swimming Association, the British Music Society, the British Olympic Association, the British Ski Federation, the National Youth Orchestra, the Musicians Union, the Scottish Arts Council, the Welsh Arts Council, the great museums, the great orchestras, the operatic and dance groups, the National and Tate galleries, the Council for the Protection of Rural England and English Heritage. The list is almost endless. I give way to the great champion of the arts.

Mr. Terry Dicks (Hayes and Harlington) : I am in favour of the principle of a lottery, but I find myself in a dilemma. I cannot support a Bill that proposes giving more money to the arts. It is clear that the arts get more than enough from the public purse. The weakness of the Bill is that it proposes spending money on the arts. I accept sports, but not the arts which get too much. I have had a letter this week from the great and good Sir Richard "call me Dickie" Attenborough asking for my support for the Bill. However, unless my hon. and learned Friend can guarantee that the arts aspect will be withdrawn, I will vote against the Bill.

Mr. Lawrence : As long as my hon. Friend votes for the closure, I do not mind whether he votes for or against the Bill. In the hope of winning over my hon. Friend, I must point out that few measures are 70 per cent. as we should wish them to be. Even if provision for the arts were deleted, the other 70 per cent. must involve matters of which he is in favour.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster): My hon. and learned Friend knows that I support the Bill strongly, especially on the question of money going to arts and charities. Does he think that he has got the percentages right? I should like a little more to go to charitable purposes, especially to help disabled people who have rather a raw deal in life.

Mr. Lawrence : I have not broken down the percentages except to suggest that 90 per cent. of the funds should go to art, sport and heritage in whatever proportion the Home Secretary or the national lottery regulatory authority decides. Up to 10 per cent. would be for charity. I must tell my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster

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(Dame E. Kellett-Bowman) that there are problems. One is that many big charities do not want me to rain on their parade. They do not want to ask for money and then to be told that, because the national lottery will provide all the money, their finely tuned and dedicated activity will be less welcome.

On the other hand, I want something to go to charity, because the charities are concerned that some of them may be threatened, and I want to ensure that any likely threat is more than compensated for by what goes to them from the lottery. I quite understand my hon. Friend's feelings about these matters, however, and I am sure that they will be taken into account.

I reiterate that this is a skeleton Bill. It is an enabling Bill--in a sense, the worst possible kind of Bill to have to try to defend against the suggestions and attacks of others. But there is good sense in bringing an enabling Bill to the House because the concept is pretty simple--one is either for a national lottery or against a national lottery--and if I do not go into too much detail, many of the arguments and, perhaps, possible interventions can be avoided so that we can get on with the debate.

Mr. John D. Taylor (Strangford) : Will the hon. and learned Gentleman explain why he thinks that our experience in the United Kingdom should be different from that in the Republic of Ireland, where the emergence of the national lottery has severely hit the funding of charities?

Mr. Lawrence : That is an unusual intervention from the right hon. Gentleman, who usually makes very sensible contributions. With great respect, I draw to his attention the fact that, although it may be perfectly true that, since the introduction, in point of time, of the national lottery in Ireland, there has been a fall-off there in charitable contributions, there has been a similar fall-off in charitable contributions in Northern Ireland, where there is no national lottery. The one conclusion that one can draw from that is that one cannot draw the conclusion that the right hon. Gentleman suggests. There is probably no link whatever between the two facts ; otherwise why has the same thing happened in Northern Ireland? I shall come back to charities a little later ; for the moment, I am dealing with the first limb of the Bill.

Mr. John D. Taylor rose--

Mr. Lawrence : I am sure that the House will look forward to hearing the right hon. Gentleman's answer when he catches your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I do not want to be the only hon. Member to speak in the debate and I have already spent the best part of half an hour giving way and answering interventions. I hope that the House will be considerate and allow me to get on and develop my argument. With such a fund, our cathedrals, churches, national monuments and works of art could be protected from destruction by the ravages of time and weather and from purchase and removal from Britain by foreign buyers.

Some people have asked why the Bill does not help the national health service, which it does not do directly. There has been much fuss about keeping the national health service a state concern and, although it is not remotely possible, and has been denied vigorously, that the Conservatives or anyone else will privatise the national health service--there is no merit in the suggestion at all

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--the very idea makes people very angry. It is clear, therefore, that everyone wants the national health service to be funded by the taxpayer and only by the taxpayer, and funding from a private lottery would be a strange way of maintaining a state health service, especially as we spend £33 billion of taxpayers' money a year on the NHS and the lottery would raise only 3 per cent. of that. Nevertheless, the Bill will help the nation's health. First, it will help charitable research foundations such as the Cystic Fibrosis Research Trust, with which I am particularly closely concerned. There are also research trusts for diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and multiple sclerosis, which depend largely upon private contributions, and those would benefit from the £100 million a year that would be allocated to charity under the Bill, if the figures that I have put before the House are right.

Secondly, there is the money that the Exchequer will take from the national lottery--possibly hundreds of millions of pounds--which could be used to help to fund the national health service or to relieve the taxpayer of liabilities that give him a big headache and make him sick.

Thirdly, an improvement in the nation's health would inevitably result if we had more sports facilities such as squash courts, running tracks and football fields--the list is very long. That is the first way in which the income of the lottery could be split between the beneficiaries.

In addition, the prize winners would obviously benefit. Many hundreds of millions of pounds a year--with my model, up to £1,000 million a year- -would go to them. That would make a lot of people happy and would considerably improve the quality of life.

Mr. Graham : Would the money go only to private clubs, running private facilities, or would some of it go direct to local councils which provide sporting facilities? Will the hon. and learned Gentleman explain whether his Bill would channel any money into local government? And can the hon. and learned Gentleman tell me whether he gambles himself and what form of gambling he knows all about?

Mr. Lawrence : On the hon. Gentleman's first question, nothing has been ruled out. The local authorities have everything to play for in making their bids for the various activities involved in the national lottery, so I do not wish the hon. Gentleman to lose heart. My own gambling proclivities are very modest and I have placed no bets on the outcome of today's debate, although I think that I can say that I am certain of success in the long run.

Mr. Graham : Will the hon. Gentleman tell us what gambling he does himself?

Mr. Lawrence : I do not do very much gambling of any kind. Let me give some examples of benefits to the prize winners. In France, the lottery, now 15 years old, is a national institution, with draws twice a week, televised at peak viewing time, and an average stake of 80p per person. Some 50 per cent. of the population play and Today tells us this week that last year's big winners walked away with a £5.5 million jackpot.

In Italy, the Government raised £1.5 billion from gambling. Italy has 13 lotteries, and 40 million tickets are sold at £2.50 a time.

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In Ireland, 60 to 65 per cent. of all adults play regularly, spending about £3 a week--the cost of one newspaper a day--and £250 million has been raised over four and a half years. Yesterday, Ray Bates, the Irish lottery secretary, told a meeting in Committee Room 13, to which all hon. Members were invited, that a nun in full regalia--so much for religious objections--won £50,000 and a weekend for two in Paris, which she raffled to raise more money for her order.

In Spain, players spend £3 billion to £4 billion a year on the lotteria nacional, with a pay-out one Christmas reaching £115 million. I read this Christmas that a department store's employees--64 of them--won £16 million between them, or £250,000 each. The only person who did not join in was the English manager. If you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, can imagine what a sick parrot looks like, you can imagine how that gentleman must have looked when the lottery result was announced. In addition to the arts, sport, heritage, charities and health of the nation, ordinary men and women from one end of the nation to the other would gain from a national lottery.

The third way in which the national lottery income would be split would be among the operators and their workers, the taxpayers and the Exchequer. If my right hon. Friend the Chancellor wanted, several hundred million pounds could go to help to relieve the burden on the taxpayer or be used to improve the welfare state.

Some have said, "With so much good, where is the catch? Are not there any losers?" What objections are there to a national lottery, and how valid are they? The short answer is that, provided that a national lottery is properly, fairly, efficiently and honestly run, the only losses are the amounts voluntarily and freely placed in the purchase of tickets that do not win. Society still benefits, however, and one cannot really call the players losers in the sense that they have been harmed by the national lottery. I have heard some very feeble objections advanced by self- interested groups over the past few weeks. I have also heard some very old- fashioned ideas. No doubt we will hear more of them today as there are some very old-fashioned Members on the Opposition Benches and, perhaps, also behind me. I have heard it said that the state should not engage in gambling or encourage it in any way. However, it already does that with regard to premium bonds, which are state controlled and state run. That is not the purpose of my national lottery. There are also quite lowly taxed gambling events such as horse racing and casinos. Low taxation is a form of encouragement for gambling by the state. I am afraid that the pass about the state's encouragement or otherwise of gambling has long since been sold.

A state lottery is not hard or addictive gambling. It is harmless gambling and it is fun. It is a very different kind of gambling. I have also heard it said that the poor must be protected from the temptation to abuse their charity and that they must be saved from fecklessness. What outdated paternalism that is for the 1990s. It seems that people cannot be trusted to spend their money as they wish and that people at the lower end of the socio-economic scale must be deprived of entertainment and the chance to win prizes.

I am pleased to say that the Church of England no longer adopts that dated approach. It has a very laid-back attitude to the Bill and, as I am instructed to say by those who are knowledgeable about these things, the Church of

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England claims that the Bill is a matter for individual conscience--as indeed it should be. The Catholic Church exists side by side with some of the biggest national lotteries in the world. If hon. Members are still in doubt about this, let me point out that in 1978 the royal commission on gambling, which examined all those matters and considered all the lotteries operating at the time, concluded :

"We have neither heard nor seen anything to suggest that its remarkable success"--

that is, the national lotteries in other countries--

"has been accompanied by any socially harmful events."

We have all been deluged with literature of a sort from the pools lobby--as unself-interested a body as it is possible to meet. I have nothing against the football pools or the pools promotion companies. Long may they all flourish and prosper. However, they should not insult our intelligence by claiming that a national lottery would kill off the pools in a few weeks. It has not killed off the pools in Italy or in any other country in Europe where football is a strong national game and where the pools are well run and efficient. Why do our pools companies fear competition? Are they so feeble and weak that they will disintegrate if any other group is after their money? If they are weak, perhaps they should have spent more money on spectator facilities and less on high-priced players. I have advice for the pools companies. The picture of weakness and incompetence which they are apparently painting will not stand them in good stead when they bid to run the national lottery as an operator which they have said that they will if such a lottery is instituted, and as Vernons already does with other state lotteries in the United States.

Mr. Joseph Ashton (Bassetlaw) : Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the Treasury received £309 million from the pools last year? Is he aware that the pools give £40 million to football and £20 million to the arts and other facilities? Is he also aware that 6,000 jobs in Liverpool are at risk because of the lottery? Is he further aware that in Belgium the pools collapsed three weeks after a national lottery was introduced, that in Greece the takings went down by two thirds and that in Australia they fell by 50 per cent? That is the effect that a national lottery would have.

Mr. Lawrence : The hon. Gentleman has made several points on behalf of the pools promoters and I will deal with them seriatim. With regard to Belgium and any other country in which the pools have gone down, if those countries do not have a strong tradition of football--as those countries do not--and if their pools are weak and inefficiently operated, of course they will go out of business. However, the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton) cannot be suggesting that that applies in Britain.

Mr. Simon Burns (Chelmsford) : Does my hon. and learned Friend accept that the football pools in Belgium and Greece were not based on the internal football matches of those countries in the way that pools are run in this country? Therefore, it is hardly surprising that there should be less interest in the pools in Belgium and Greece when there is a more attractive alternative. As we have a strong and fine tradition of football in this country, a lottery would not have the same effect.

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Mr. Lawrence : As I expected, my hon. Friend has made the point so much better than I did. I hope that the hon. Member for Bassetlaw will be reassured. Indeed, I can reassure him further. If the pools promoters had bothered to commission Gallup or any other public opinion poll--although they do not always say the same thing--to carry out a poll on the threat to their survival, they would have discovered the following facts : first, 92 per cent. of pools players will continue to play the pools even if there is a national lottery. Only 8 per cent. of pools players would spend less on the pools. Secondly, only one in three people play the pools--fewer than one in five of women--while 72 per cent. would play a national lottery as would a much higher proportion of women. Why should women be discriminated against? They are as important in society as men and they have as much right as men to ease of access. Not all women are as interested as men in filling out complicated football pool coupons.

Most of the national lottery payments would be-- [Interruption.] Due to the ribald behaviour of Opposition Members, I had better repeat that point. Most of the national lottery payments would be new money. The pools have little to fear, especially if they are planning to run the new lottery.

The pools promoters have also warned--and this point was supported by the hon. Member for Bassetlaw--that they would lose 6,500 jobs. No doubt many hon. Members will oppose the Bill because their local football clubs have written to them claiming that jobs would be at risk because of the lottery. However, the football pools have been losing jobs steadily over the past few years without a national lottery and they will continue to lose jobs as they modernise their systems and install on-line computers in place of people. Let the pools promoters deny that they have such plans.

Had the pools promoters and the hon. Member for Bassetlaw consulted the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, they would have been advised that once the national lottery achieves a turnover of £3 billion after three or four years, 85,000 jobs--and not 6, 500--would be created.

Just think of the people who would benefit from a lottery. It has been suggested that there may be 25,000 outlets. Those may be in corner shops or village stores. Small business people would be grateful for an extra £100 a week to ensure that they remained in existence. What about the new employees in sport, the arts, heritage and related areas? Those people would not simply be working for the lottery office. Many more jobs would be created, and that is another answer to the hon. Member for Bassetlaw.

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