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Column 1339sure that that is right. Any change in fortune that is so unexpected is dislocating, whether it is a change for the better or for the worse.
Mr. Maclennan: I share the hon. Gentleman's view that that is desirable, although at one point he suggested that the trickle-down effect of lottery winnings might be spread over the great City firms of solicitors. It is difficult to suggest, other than in the broadest terms, that expert advice should be sought in dealing with such substantial sums of money.
There are risks. We know of them from the experience of other countries. Winners may be vulnerable to exploiters, fraudsters and even violent crime. It is not hard to understand, therefore, that people want to secure anonymity. If it is possible, that should be recognised as a legitimate objective.
I question the possibility of anonymity because, obviously, there is a great deal of interest in sudden changes of fortune. It is the stuff of drama. I do not hold the press or media guilty in seeking to feed that sense of excitement which flows from sudden changes in fortune. We look forward to the report that will be produced by the director following the review that I understand has been put in train.
The other major problem that appears to have developed involves the National Lottery Charities Board, the only disbursal body that has not so far issued guidelines for applicants, despite the fact that, by common consent, charities are at most risk of losing income to the lottery. It appears that the board will not be in a position to distribute its estimated £100 million until next autumn, almost a year after the lottery began. It has no permanent office; it has no chief executive; and its telephone number is not available from directory inquiries. Some public accusations have been made that that is the fault not of the Department of National Heritage but, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Home Office, which has been rather slow to back up the initiative of the other Department, particularly in relation to the appointment of the board's chairman Mr. David Sieff, who did not take up office until May this year.
It must be recognised that charities are far from enthusiastic about this development. Of all the interests involved, they are the least enthusiastic. The money arrives next autumn and the charities seem ungracious in their response. It is worth remembering that the charities receive among them about 5p in every pound spent on the lottery, while otherwise they receive 100 per cent. of their money directly.
It is balm to the consciences of people who buy lottery tickets that there is some side benefit for charities and good causes but that, of course, is not the reason why people buy lottery tickets. They do so for the reasons that
Column 1340the hon. Member for Twickenham described in his speech--the outside, remote possibility that one's fortune will be substantially enlarged.
Rev. Martin Smyth: I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's point. Does he accept that those who have had experience of the national lottery in the Republic of Ireland and of working in the charity sector have gone on record as saying that there has been a substantial adverse impact on charitable giving there?
Mr. Maclennan: I accept that. I made that point in my speech on the Second Reading of the National Lottery etc. Bill. I thought that we should recognise that charities in the Republic of Ireland had asked the Government there for a drastic change. We are advised, rightly, in this debate that it is too soon to seek substantial modification of the principle behind the lottery. It is also too soon to judge the scale of the losses that charities will suffer if their income is diverted to the lottery. I hope that the Minister will keep a close eye on the situation. Charities play an important role for which there is no other provision and they have an increasingly important role in providing services that have previously been provided more directly by the state.
The true measure of the lottery is not the number of millionaires that it creates. If it has value, it is the amount that is distributed to good causes and where that money goes. We must consider the effect of lottery spending on charitable giving and the pools, and the extent to which the Government substitute lottery cash for core funding of the arts from the public purse.
I do not think that the four weeks' experience we have had can provide us with any real indicator. I have noted what has been done in respect of the Art Council's allocations for this year. It is, of course, quite inconceivable that the Government would blatantly cut funding for the Arts Council in the first year of the lottery and thus prove all the gloomy predictions correct. That would be a political folly that not even this Government would embrace. We must watch the trends in expenditure on the arts, especially expenditure by the Department of National Heritage.
There has been a great inflation of expectations about the benefits that the lottery moneys will bring. Among those who seem to have been the most gullible are those who are most aware of the need for expenditure. By September, it was already clear that the lottery moneys had been heavily over-subscribed before the first ticket had been sold. A number of projects, from the proposed Olympic stadium in Manchester to the Hartlepool indoor bowls club, had already laid claim to £752 million.
The predecessor of the present Secretary of State put in for money for the millennium festival, his pet project, to emulate the great exhibitions of 1851 and 1951. I rather favour that idea; we all have our pet projects. I have already made the point--I am glad that the Minister
Column 1341responded so positively--that a national festival should be celebrated at the millennium throughout our country. The festival of Britain was largely celebrated on the south bank in London. We still need greater guidance about the prioritisation of funds because that is a key element in the success of the lottery. Is the priority to be opera houses or bowling greens, cinemas for rural areas or great stadiums in our metropolitan centres? The same arguments will rage over the choice of projects as already preoccupy those in the Arts Council, in English Heritage and in Scottish Heritage who are charged with making similar choices. An excess of elitism would be as damaging as an excess of populism in the allocation of funds.
The most important principle is that lottery projects do not produce a drain on otherwise limited resources, especially Arts Council and Sports Council resources. Nor should the lottery penalise those in the charity, arts and sports world who receive money from competing sources, such as the Foundation for Sport and the Arts, or directly in donations from the public. I believe that the Foundation for Sport and the Arts has been one of the most beneficial organisations set up in this country in recent years. There are already threats to its operation. I shall not repeat what others have said in the debate about the impact of the lottery on the football pools. That point was made by the hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans) and by other contributors to the debate. There is a serious risk of a big diversion of funds from the pools to the lottery. Although the odds on winning the lottery are longer than those on the pools, the money that the lottery provides far outstrips that of the pools.
The pools companies provide the resources for the Foundation for Sport and the Arts, which has a proven track record of backing small community-based projects. For every £1.05 spent on the pools, 5p goes to the Foundation for Sport and the Arts and in three years it has handed out £215 million. That is about one sixth of the amount that the lottery will target to projects in a similar period.
Those projects may not be supported by the lottery, which will have larger sums to spend, perhaps on more prestigious projects. If the pools are squeezed by the lottery, the Foundation for Sport and the Arts and those who benefit by it will also suffer. I am glad that the Government have given it another five years' lease of life, but it has been represented to me by the foundation, and must commend itself to the House, that the pools are disadvantaged in comparison with the lottery. They are debarred from advertising on national television and radio, they are not enjoying the promotion by the BBC, the betting duty that they pay is set at 37.5 per cent. whereas lottery income is taxed at 12 per cent., and the terms governing the roll-over of pools jackpots, although there have been some adjustments, are certainly not as advantageous as those of the lottery.
All those factors have to be examined specifically and carefully by the Minister, as I would regard it as a great tragedy if the Foundation for Sport and the Arts were to disappear. Its influence has been tangible--very significant indeed in a number of small communities--and it has been operating on a tight bureaucratic budget. One of its most attractive features has been how little has been spent on overheads.
Column 1342The lottery will be judged by its impact upon the nation through the munificence of its large sums of money. Britain lacks a number of modern flagship institutions that other countries have. For example, our national stadium at Wembley is only slightly larger than some European metropolitan stadiums. We lack a theatre or dance house dedicated to dance, and for a long time I have felt that it was quite unsuitable to ask the Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera to share the same house. There is a growing interest in both opera and ballet and I would like a permanent venue established for dance in our capital city.
A potential beneficiary or a way of removing what is becoming an increasingly embarrassing problem from the Department of National Heritage would be to devote resources to the national library. I rather object to the way in which expenditure on the national library tends to be rolled up with expenditure on the arts. Quite frankly, it has been a disgraceful episode in our administrative history. It is not something that should be allowed to drag on for much longer. The lottery money could be directed to the national library, perhaps through the national heritage memorial fund, or the Millennium Commission.
In a press release on 22 June 1994, the Millennium Commission said that it was
"considering allocating funds in four areas",
one of which would be
"a small number of major projects of national or regional importance."
It also said that it was considering contributing
"around 50 per cent. of our estimated income"
to those projects and that
"these schemes are likely to cost tens of millions of pounds." The House will remember that the project was first brought forward by Lady Williams of Crosby, the then Secretary of State for Education, as long ago as 1978, to cost £164 million. The library was originally intended to seat 3,440 readers and have sufficient storage space to last until the next century. Currently, there is no date for its opening. The cost is now estimated at £450 million, it is to seat 1,176 readers--only 76 more than it can seat at its present site--and it is estimated that the storage space will be full by the time it opens in a few years. That is the sort of project for which lottery money could be used. I draw particular attention to the desirability of enabling the library to hold on to adjacent empty land rather than it being disposed of, as has been proposed. For a cost of less than £2 million, it would provide much needed space for storage, reading and parking.
I hope that this experiment with a national lottery is not wholly bad. The Minister knows my reservations about it. I am sure that there will be benefits, but it is difficult to judge what the social consequences will be. However, within a year or two we shall be able to judge some of the economic consequences and the impact on the targets of the so-called good causes. Then, we shall want to rethink the matter.
This country has experimented with lotteries before. We built the British museum with lottery funds. We have also disposed of lotteries for good and sufficient reasons. I dare say that we shall turn full circle once again.
Column 1343been counselled to stay away--and quite sensibly in view of the elitist nonsense that we have heard. Indeed, I could do with some counselling--perhaps a double Scotch--after having had to sit here listening to it for three hours. Anyone who is daft enough to stay for my speech should have the same sort of counselling afterwards. I must make it clear that I am not opposed to the lottery. I am opposed to the idea of so-called good causes--the arts, heritage, sport, charities and the millennium. The only one with a dollop of good sense and a dollop of good cause is charities. Who created good causes? From where did they come? I do not know, but I bet that it was the luvvies, the establishment and all the people who meet together wearing bow ties and frocks. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Eton--I am sorry, I mean the hon. Member for Stoke-on- Trent, Central (Mr. Fisher), who went to Eton--is no longer here to nod his head because I am sure that he has made a contribution to a good cause.
Let us examine each of the so-called good causes. The House knows my views on the arts. The Arts Council's grant was raised by twice the rate of inflation--the forecast of £146 million became £191 million. It is what I call and what most people see--especially those whom I represent- -as the luvvies' feeding trough. To give money to it now would be nothing more than a charitable confidence trick, a bit like people believing that Picasso could paint when he just scribbled all over the art paper.
What about the royal opera house? Why not have a royal bingo house? We could open a bingo place for my old-age pensioners in Hayes and Harlington. We could get royalty--as long as it is not the Duchess of York--to open it. A royal bingo house would be every bit as important as the royal opera house--an organisation so inept and incompetent that it spends money that it has not got on artists that it cannot afford. People call that the right thing to do. Why is it done? It is because it is what the luvvies want.
Mr. Maclennan rose --
Mr. Dicks: No, I will not give way. The hon. Gentleman had a long talk and, with great respect, I needed counselling to listen to him. Now, the royal opera house wants money for its building projects. It cannot make any savings from revenue, despite a subsidy of almost £40 a seat. It is going out with begging bowl in hand to raise money.
The Arts Council--a so-called good cause to which some of the lottery money will go--is actually giving out money so that an artist can have a dead sheep stuck in a fish tank on display at the Serpentine gallery. I do not give a damn what two luvvies do with a dead sheep as long as the sheep is dead and the door is shut. What I said in an article in May is most appropriate. I said: "I detest the way this network of luvvies cling together, feeding on flattery and false values, fawning on Arts Councils in pursuit of grants, and worming their way into the theatres and galleries with a wholly bogus elitism. Because they like opera, ballet, orchestral music and obscure dramatic works, they club together within the state, persuading successive governments to give more money to the arts--and then using it to subsidise their own leisure at the expense of the rest of us."
I could not have said it better than I did earlier this year. That is exactly what I think about the arts and everything connected with them.
Column 1344I find it almost obnoxious to listen to my hon. Friend the Minister--he is a real friend, despite his views on cricket --justify the fact that the Government have given more to the arts and the throw-away of a mere £5 million more to the Arts Council. It is a shame. It is degrading and disgusting.
What bunkum we hear about heritage. Everything that is old and ancient must be used to grab money from the national lottery to keep it in being. One of the richest organisations in Britain is the Church Commissioners. That body has bags of money. It is one of the worst landlords for a long time, but never mind that. All that we see is appeals everywhere to keep churches up. If we go there on a Sunday we are lucky to get three people at 7 o'clock mass, perhaps 24 at 11 o'clock and perhaps one and a dog at 6.30 pm. Yet we have this drive to keep going a church with a broken spire and bits falling off. Then we hear the Bishop of Wakefield say that a few bob on the horses or the lottery is wrong. If he wants £1 million or £18 million, the 10 per cent. that the Church pressurises its parishioners to give to the Church would be a tremendous improvement. Then he could do something useful instead of pontificating to empty churches and the rest of us about how people should spend their hard-earned money. I find that appalling.
Who benefits from stately homes? The chap whose family have lived there all their lives. Then the chap says that it is a stately home and it must not fall apart. So we give him money. Now we are to give him more for the upkeep of his house, which he charges people to look round while he lives in the luxury bit down the end. What nonsense. What absolute bunkum. What happens to my constituents? They have to apply for grants to insulate their homes to keep warm. I find it amazing that we give money to all this heritage nonsense. If a thing is not worth keeping or being paid for by the people who live there and benefit from it, why should my constituents have to make a contribution?
I am a sportsman. Someone has said that I am a daft one because I support Bristol Rovers and have done for 50 years. That is another leisure pursuit. Why should anyone subsidise or contribute to someone else's leisure pursuit? My hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Jessel) made a lovely case for squash. I did not hear him make a case for ferrets up a trouser leg. That is a sport in some parts of this country, yet that issue is not raised. That is the problem. We all want some subsidy for our own sport. It ain't going to happen. There are Opposition Members present who support Hartlepool United. The team kick a ball around, I think. They have to ensure that people who come to watch them pay the full economic cost of keeping the club open. There is no subsidy. So why should there be subsidy for other sports? The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Fisher) mentioned chess. That is another elitist game although it is perhaps not now so elitist as it used to be. Why should we subsidise it? Why should anything from the lottery go to any sport? The issue is mad, but no one wants to go along with me. I tend to be a lone voice ploughing a lonely field.
Let us consider the millennium fund. Could someone please tell me the difference between 31 December 1999 and 1 January 2000? It is probably 24 hours, half a minute or half a second. What is so important about that calendar
Column 1345change that we have to set money aside for all sorts of funny things? The briefing that has just arrived from not far away says that the projects
"will enhance the quality of the nation's life."
My God! The year 2000 will be marvellous--enhancing the quality of the nation's life just because the clock ticks past 11.59 pm. I have never heard so much nonsense as the idea of a millennium fund. For a change, words fail me. Members of Labour's Front-Bench team and the Liberals, when they are here, talk about whether the Secretary of State did not like the fund's director general, and whether his views did not fit in with those of the committee's other members. Now they are getting together to decide on another director, whether the national heritage man likes him, and whether the wife is sleeping with him-- it is absolutely crazy.
More time should be spent running a simple lottery, in which all the winnings go to the people who buy tickets. Nobody has thought about that. If the truth were known, members of my own Front-Bench team, let alone those of the Opposition Front-Bench team, could not agree on one good cause. They talk about five good causes--it is madness. The only good cause is charities. We all, I am sure, involve ourselves in charities but we could never agree on them.
My concern is that the money does not go to a luvvies charity for the AIDS people, such as the Terrence Higgins Trust. Except for haemophiliacs, AIDS is a self-inflicted luvvies illness. It has decimated the arts world in the United States and has made a good contribution to decimating the arts world in this country. It is not a genuine charity. My Government, to their great discredit, have given about £10 billion to advertise and to tell silly stories to youngsters about the dangers of AIDS. The money given to help research into child leukaemia or into spinal injuries is tuppence ha'penny by comparison. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will take that on board. If I find out that organisations such as the Terrence Higgins Trust connected with AIDS get a penny of this, I will kick up hell in here.
One of the two charities important to me is Children with Leukaemia, based at Great Ormond Street. It used to be called the O'Gorman foundation. A father who lost two children from leukaemia decided not to feel sorry for himself but to raise money for more research. He is working his socks off, along with many other people. That important charity should get a fair crack of the whip. So should the Spinal Injuries Association. I take this opportunity to say a few kind words about Coral, which supports that work, and Malcolm Palmer, a close friend of mine, who spearheads that work. Virtually no money comes from the public sector, and certainly not from the Government, for those genuine charities. They do an excellent job of research and support.
The £10 billion spent on AIDS in six years could have been used to help disabled people. What a difference that money could have made, instead of being spent on four nonsensical, so-called good causes. I see that the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central is creeping into the Chamber. I am sure that he has been out for some counselling before he winds up.
Column 1346The lottery is good. Most ordinary, working -class people enjoy it. I have been lucky, winning three lots of £10. They are happy and I am happy. I cannot understand the concept of good causes. If my constituents managed to listen to this debate without counselling they would say, "What an elitist crowd, with all their pretensions and the sanctimonious nonsense that they talk."
The hon. Member for Vauxhall (Ms Hoey) made valid points about the lottery's organisation, but that was the only valid contribution I have heard so far.
I know this is not a day on which we can change legislation, but let us think about letting all the money, except that needed to fund the running of the lottery, go to winners. Let the people who win decide how to spend the money. Some will spend it on charitable works; some, if they are daft enough, will spend it on the arts. Some people will spend it on sport. No one with any sense would worry about the millennium. After all, many of those who win will not be around by then.
Please let us stop the pretentious nonsense about good causes. Let people enjoy the lottery. Let them keep more of the money than they are allowed to now. Let us stop bickering about technicalities. For God's sake, not a penny should go to the arty-farty crowd who walk around with their hands in someone else's back pocket.
Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West): It is always interesting to be called after a speech from the hon. Member from hell--the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Dicks). He emerges from his constituency like a one-man horde of vandals to lay waste to the arts and the heritage. As ever, of course, he made some good points. I am with him in his remarks about the arts establishment and the way that "these people"--I still do not know who they are--have suddenly emerged from the drawers where lists are kept of the great and the good to decide what good causes will receive money from the proceeds of the national lottery, from moneys paid in by the hon. Gentleman's constituents in Hayes and Harlington and by mine in Newham, North-West. The hon. Gentleman made some good points about the arts establishment. I am critical of it myself.
The hon. Gentleman tends to lose some of his good points in the general brutality of his argument. He is eccentric, however, and unique; we must be grateful for that if for nothing else. I supported the concept of the lottery and I participate in it each week. I would love to win the jackpot. We have heard about the enormous odds that one faces in trying to win it, but they cannot be as enormous as the odds that were facing the Conservative party last night at the by-election at Dudley. I welcome the piece of good news that came from Dudley. I suppose that if I were given a choice between winning the jackpot and the by-election, I would choose the by-election.
There have been references to anonymity. The lottery is national and there is a great deal of interest in it. If someone enters the lottery, he must be prepared to have his name and identity revealed. If everyone understood that on going in for the lottery, we would take much of the terror from winning the biggie. When the biggie is won, it is not surprising that everyone wants to know who has won it.
Column 1347We have talked about roll-over. I think that we should continue rolling over. Why should roll-over be limited? Why should someone decide that it should be restricted to three weeks? Why should the establishment say that someone might not be able to handle an enormous prize of £100 million, for example? Why not let roll-over continue until the money is won? We know that more people tend to be attracted into the lottery each week as the prize becomes greater and greater. If roll-over were allowed to continue, there would be more money to disburse to good causes. We should let that happen. There are a few worries and problems about the national lottery so far. Some of them are fairly significant while some are quite small. Large amounts of money are being produced. I listened carefully to the Minister, who made a good speech. There were plenty of interventions because hon. Members on both sides of the House want to ask many questions about the lottery. I did not hear--perhaps I missed it--how much money is now available. More to the point, when will it be distributed? Many organisations would like to know the answer to that question. I assume that the interest that is being earned on it will remain within the kitty to add to the amount of money that will be distributed.
We understand that the arts--I shall take that sector as an example--might benefit by about £100 million a year. I have heard assurances from Ministers that there will be no substitution, and I accept their word. But, frankly, I do not think that it will happen--there will be substitution. The Treasury will consider the amount of money coming in from the lottery and the predictions. When it is conducting the annual spending round, it cannot ignore the money--in many ways, it would be irresponsible to do so. The only way to guarantee that there is no substitution is if Ministers are prepared to index the budgets of arts, sport and heritage for at least the next three years. We should then know that there was no substitution.
It might be a lottery for punters, but it is certainly not a lottery for the Government, who win the jackpot every week. The lottery should not be yet another tax-raising device--I strongly object to that. The lottery should be made a charitable foundation, which would allow an extra 12 per cent.--which the Government presently cream off--to be distributed to the good causes and the spheres of activity that we have been discussing.
As Opposition Members have said, Camelot is a privatised monopoly that has been given a licence to print money--that is objectionable. A monetary limit should be set on any profits made by Camelot--not a percentage, but a cash limit on its rake-off. Alternatively, there should be a windfall tax, although my objections to such a tax are the same as those that I have to the tax that the Government are taking from the lottery. There must be a way of ensuring that Camelot does not find itself with riches beyond the dreams of avarice without ever having to do anything significant for them. Camelot should not get money for old rope.
Another big concern is the impact that the lottery has on smaller charities, football pools and bingo. I hope that Ministers will closely monitor that impact. Clearly, the pools should be allowed to advertise. We should not start subsidising football pools or bingo, but we could take off some of the present limits on pools industry advertising
Column 1348and on the sizes of the prizes that the bingo industry can distribute. Ministers must closely monitor the lottery's impact on small charities and other sections of the betting industry, and report regularly to the House of Commons.
The national lottery is national, and it has broad support across the House. The Government can maintain that support only by being honest and open with the House--I admit that that will bring some problems for Ministers.
There are some smaller but significant problems. I went to my local ticket outlet in Woodgrange road in Forest Gate and asked what problems had been experienced by shopkeepers. The location of ticket outlets needs more careful consideration. Particularly on Saturdays, there are large queues outside ticket shops, which spread down the shop fronts and along the road. Other shopkeepers complain about the impact that those queues have on their business. We must acknowledge that and start to look more carefully at locations. That problem may gradually go away as people start to spread their spending more evenly during the week. But in a working-class district such as mine, someone usually has the money in his or her pocket or purse to buy a lottery ticket on a Friday or Saturday. We need to deal with such problems.
I was told by one ticket seller that he and others like him have experienced some cash flow problems over the sales of tickets. It appears that Camelot deducts receipts by direct debit from the seller's bank account, so the seller has no control over the way the money goes out. The ticket sellers are expected to pay out the smaller prizes and can run into difficulties over their cash flow on a Saturday and Monday. They have to pay large amounts into the bank, which attracts bank charges for deposits that are not refunded by Camelot. Those are small problems in terms of the global picture, but problems enough for those small shopkeepers who are making the lottery such a great national success.
I shall be having my weekly flutter on the lottery on Saturday, and if I am not in my place on Monday, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you will know that I have either been kidnapped or have won the lottery. It is more likely to be the former than the latter, as I do not have the same luck as the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington, but I will not need any therapy to get me over the trauma of winning oodles of cash. I am saving that therapy for the victory at the general election. 1.4 pm
Mr. Nirj Joseph Deva (Brentford and Isleworth): It has been a rather interesting and, at times, exciting debate. We heard detailed explanations on the national lottery, and comments from my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Dicks), who has just left the Chamber, on the value of the arts.
I shall concentrate my remarks on the speech that was made by the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan), who, I believe, is now coming to the view that perhaps a lottery is not so morally repugnant after all. I detected in his speech a grudging acceptance that the lottery may be a very good thing indeed. Perhaps he will correct me if I am wrong.
Chancing one's luck is in the nature of mankind. The history of the world is awash with people consulting the stars, reading horoscopes, determining auspicious times and conducting themselves in such a manner that their fortune or misfortune is left in the laps of the gods. One
Column 1349chances one's luck, even if the odds are calculated at a million to one because man is fundamentally always optimistic. Without that optimism--that tomorrow will be better than today- -mankind would have made no progress whatever: progress from caves, woad and huts to the planets and the stars would not have been possible. It would not have been possible to move from subsistence living to the consumer society.
Without a sense of adventure, mankind would have stayed in his primeval state. No entrepreneurial opportunities would be possible. The underlying basis of our capitalist society would have been doomed from the start. The great merchant adventurers of the past, who chanced their luck and, more recklessly, their lives, in small, fragile sailing ships against the mighty oceans, would not have been possible. All of life has its moments of chance. Even politics, ultimately, are a gamble, as the Labour party knows only too well to its cost.
So let us have no humbug, and even less sanctimonious breast beating, that the national lottery is anything but a small expression of our people's hopes to do better for themselves by chancing their luck--and what fun it is. Since the only certainty in life is death, what happens between birth and death has a lot to do with luck. Even the act of birth itself is wrapped around the mother lode of luck. Some are born clever, some not so; some extremely intelligent, others less so; some advantaged, others disadvantaged or even, sadly, disabled. Some, particularly in Asia, call it karma: others of us in the west call it luck.
So let there be luck. Let it flourish and pour forth. Let us all enable as many as possible to be lucky. Let them empower themselves with optimism. Let them look forward to better things. Let them play the national lottery- -and, so far, what a success it has been. Lotteries in the UK are not new. In 1569 the Cinque ports were repaired by raising funds through a lottery. Even Westminster bridge and the British museum were funded by national lotteries. The national lottery set up by this Conservative Government has all the hallmarks of being a permanent and resounding success. It is a success because it is generating huge sums of money for theatres, sports centres, swimming pools, the restoration of historic buildings and for charities, as we heard from my hon. Friend the Minister. Between now and 2001, more than £10 billion will be made available, equally, to the arts, heritage, sports, charities and the millennium fund. That is £2 billion to each of those good causes. Can one imagine what £2 billion will do for the arts, for heritage, for sport, for charities and for the millennium fund? The mind reels at the possibilities and opportunities, especially in Brentford and Isleworth.
We now face another renaissance in Britain, which is due entirely to the imagination, innovation and drive of my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for National Heritage. That renaissance was nurtured, inculcated, enthused and brought into being by an imaginative Government in the teeth of opposition from the Liberal Democrat party--I notice that all its members have left the Chamber--and many Labour Members. Let us never again hear from the Liberals that theirs is the party of culture, the arts, heritage, sport and charitable projects. They have paused and they have been found wanting. They lacked the imagination, spirit and grit to further those great and good causes and have left
Column 1350the stage to the boring old Conservative party to create this renaissance in our cultural life. How ironic and ridiculous, but how poignant. Never again will we have the arty Liberal or the culturally sophisticated, articulate and all-things-to-all-men Liberal. As for the Labour Members who opposed the national lottery--as you know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, some did--they will learn that they made a mistake. The national lottery is a success because it is well managed: knowing how to manage things well is what the Conservative Government know best. That is why the Camelot group was chosen, after the most competitive tendering and bidding process, which drove down costs and maximised the money available to good causes. To instal 10,000 on-line, computer-based, real-time outlets, as it did by 19 November--with a projected 40,000 later--was a massive logistical undertaking. It was done, and at a huge cost to the operator, yet it will receive only up to 5 per cent. of turnover to cover those expenses and profits. As a business man, I can say that the Government did a brilliant deal. I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on striking such a good deal, while enabling more than 50 per cent. of the turnover to go in prizes and between 28 per cent. and 33 per cent. to good causes and, to cap it all, reducing the burden on the taxpayer by having 12 per cent. go to the Exchequer. It almost sounds too good to be true, but true it is, no doubt much to the chagrin of the Opposition.
We are the party of good management, of which the national lottery is a prime example. The £10 billion that will be raised for good causes during the next seven or eight years will be managed well because the Arts Council will distribute the arts fund. The primary criteria for distribution will be the maximisation of benefit to the greatest number of people including, most important, providing maximum access for the disabled; the long-term viability of the project; quality of artistic activity planned; relevance of the project to local regional and national artistic life; and the quality of the educational and marketing proposals.
The Arts Council's lottery director said:
"Not all grants will go to large scale projects. We can help a small touring company, or buy a van or a portable lighting rig. We can help to improve a village hall and help to improve the access of all arts facilities to disabled people."
The lottery is well managed because the heritage funds will be distributed by the national heritage memorial fund and the Sports Council will distribute funds for locally based sports projects. A new National Lottery Charities Board will be established to provide for charities.
Most exciting of all is the millennium fund, which will be run by the millennium commissioners, whose work will endure when we are all gone. Not only will the fabric of our great buildings and monuments be restored to their former glory, but the achievements will include an international trade fair to boast about Britain's innovations in design, millennium bursaries for young people undertaking special projects and studies, the endowment of chairs at universities to study the enhancement of the quality of life and special prestigious monuments to mark the third millennium. It will be a lasting and enduring one.
Today we have heard some excellent speeches--although I see that most of my hon. Friends have had to leave--especially from my hon. Friend the Member for Surrey, East (Mr. Ainsworth). We also discussed another
Column 1351important aspect: privacy. Privacy for lottery winners is important for the continued success of the lottery. It is important not only for the person who wins, but for the lottery as a whole. Winners do not want publicity because they wish to avoid being harassed and pestered. If there is no possibility of publicity, people will buy tickets. However, the feeling that they will be harassed and pestered if, on the off-chance, they win, is a disincentive to try the national lottery. It is time, therefore, that we strengthened our privacy laws, if only to protect the ordinary citizen.
Why be begrudging? Are the Opposition incapable of stating what is obvious? The national lottery is a success. Good causes will benefit enormously and the Government have done a very good job indeed. 1.15 pm
Mr. Joe Benton (Bootle): I am speaking as a kind of new boy to the heritage scene and to the lottery scene, although I must admit that I was one of the Opposition Members who voted against the lottery. My reasons for doing so were quite parochial: along with many other Merseyside Members of Parliament, I rightly feared for the future of the pools industry. I was pleased to hear my hon. Friends the Members for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) and for Vauxhall (Ms Hoey) express concerns about the pools industry, with which I totally agree and support.
As a new boy, I found the debate most entertaining and most enlightening. Having given my reasons for voting against the lottery, I must say that the debate was enlightening in the sense that this morning--I want to make it clear as the hon. Member for Brentford and Isleworth (Mr. Deva) misheard an awful lot--there was ready admission among Labour Members that the lottery has elements of great success. I say that although I opposed it. Labour Members are not really saying that it is not successful. We are approaching the matter from another angle.
I criticise the Government for many reasons, many of which have already been mentioned adequately by my hon. Friends. Hon. Members have referred to the area that most concerns me--charities. I am very disappointed. We have learned, for example, that there is no chief executive in place on the National Lottery Charities Board. I want to emphasise my concern by reading to the House a letter that I received only this week. It exemplifies all our concerns about the future of charities. That concern was another reason why I voted against the lottery in the first place. My fears were not only for local employment but for the impact that the lottery would have on small charities.
I can do no better than quote the letter that I received from Mr. Kevin Hookham, the chief fund-raising manager at the Liverpool school of tropical medicine. I do not know whether hon. Members are aware of the function of that establishment. I can tell the House that it goes back almost a century. It has charitable status and has supplemented the health service on Merseyside and in the north of England. Indeed, it has a national and a
Column 1352worldwide reputation. The contribution that it has made to tropical science and diseases is renowned. Mr. Hookham says:
"I telephoned the NLCB on 29 November. I was shocked and surprised to be informed that no moneys were yet available for distribution, even though at the time of writing at least four Lottery games will have been played with the result that, cumulatively, there must be now millions of pounds awaiting dispersal to charitable and needy causes. In addition, I was informed that no application form actually exists but the charities would be consulted `early next year' (no specific date could be given). When I asked which specific charities would be consulted and which methodology would govern the consultation process, I was told, `that had not yet been decided'.
I was also aware that no announcement regarding the appointment of a Chief Executive to the NLCB has yet been made and was informed that `interviews are being held in December'. This is totally unsatisfactory. It is reasonable to assume that the calibre required of a potential Chief Executive would require three months' notice and therefore it is unlikely that an incumbent could take up post prior to March 1995."
Mr. Deva: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that if the funds had been distributed too hastily, he or one of his hon. Friends would have said that the wrong criterion had been applied and the wrong methodology used? The Government are trying to take care in considering the distribution of funds. Is he saying that that is wrong?