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8.30 pm

Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East): I should like to add to my considerable reputation for parliamentary eccentricity by saying that I was always doubtful about the whole concept of the lottery. I felt that it would damage existing charities and drain from them funds that would otherwise go directly to them. My outlook was probably soured by the brilliance of George Orwell's description in "Nineteen Eighty-Four" of the effects of a lottery in a totalitarian society. He said:


I thought that, with such a start, the lottery could only be a somewhat corrupting force in society. The Bill shows that it is also corrupting the Government. Effectively, the Bill is the second stage in the Government's attempt to make good their promise to try to keep their spending and tax-raising targets at Conservative levels. The first stage of that attempt was the raid on the pension funds and the second stage--

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael J. Martin): Order. We are debating the new clause and the amendments. We are not worried about possible inequities of the lottery. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman could hang his jacket on that peg.

Dr. Lewis: The amendments seek to ring fence the amount that will be available for good causes. Good causes were nominated to enable money that formerly went to charities to continue to be spent on such activities. There is an attempt to get away from the safeguards that were provided for the lottery. That is part of a general, corrupting strategy to enable the Government to get their hands on money that, had the lottery not been created,

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would have gone to charity. That charitable money will be used for Government expenditure. I predict that this is not the last time that such an unethical sleight of hand will be employed.

Mr. Banks: The hon. Member for New Forest, East (Dr. Lewis) described himself as eccentric. That is a middle-class word for loony, and he adequately proved his case. The lottery has been a great success and the hon. Gentleman was wrong to oppose it. People go in for the lottery because they want to win oodles of cash. I do not wish to strip away all the talk about good causes, but that is why I go in for it. So far, I have been unsuccessful, apart from a few tenners here and there, but I dream about the big one coming along, as do many people. As I fail, week after week, to win the biggie, I have the consolation of knowing that money is going to good causes. It is clear that people do the lottery to try to win prizes.

The right hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Brooke) spoke about Wells cathedral. I have never been high in the nave of that cathedral--I have never been high anywhere--but I was interested to hear that the right hon. Gentleman will not spend much time revisiting his past. According to the interests that he declared, he will spend some time in Peru.

The Opposition amendments demonstrate two matters. First, they show the Opposition's inability to decide their position on the new good cause. As my hon. Friend the Minister for Arts said, in Committee and on Second Reading, the Opposition argued that there was something intrinsically wrong about spending lottery money on health, education and the environment. However, amendment No. 8 accepts the idea in principle, merely postponing it for a few years. Secondly, the amendments demonstrate the Opposition's failure to recognise that we are not harming the existing good causes. They are receiving the £9 billion that everyone expected them to receive when the lottery started.

Perhaps it is rather odd to say in this place that there comes a point when we ought to try to trust each other. [Interruption.] I knew that Opposition cynics would not accept that. They have described my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State as if he were Josef Goebbels. Somehow, there was an evil manifestation sitting next to me and planning all sorts of dire happenings to the existing good causes. My right hon. Friend is a perfectly sweet, decent honourable gent who does not have a vicious thought in his mind. The House should trust him.

The Liberal Democrat new clause 4 gives us a chance to explain our approach to the reallocation of the millennium stream, which seems to have worried people.

Mr. Brooke: I greatly enjoyed the Minister's reference to his right hon. Friend. In his capacity as Chairman of the Select Committee on National Heritage, the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) once said to me, "Of course I trust you Secretary of State: it is the ones who come after you about whom I am worried."

Mr. Banks: I do not know anything about impending reshuffles. There has been one in the Opposition and we constantly read about them in the Government. Whoever is Secretary of State--and I know that it will be the present incumbent for many years--can be accorded the same trust as my right hon. Friend. Why should we want

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to destroy the existing good causes? It offends me somewhat that Opposition Members should feel that we have ulterior motives--that we are somehow intent on destroying the existing good causes and the national lottery. On Sunday, the front page of The Observer stated that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had squirrelled away £50 billion. That is a great deal to squirrel away, but I think that we can rely on our Chancellor to manage the economy in good order and to make sure that there are sufficient funds for our spending priorities.

The right hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross (Mr. Maclennan) apologised to me for the fact that he would not be here for the winding-up speeches. I thank him for that and for his short speech. I assure him that when the time comes for us to decide how to reallocate the millennium share, we shall carefully consider what the lottery distribution bodies have achieved and the case for giving each a higher share. There is no assumption that it should go to the new opportunities fund. If that happens, it will be because we have concluded, after looking at all the good causes, that it is the right thing to do. We shall obviously take account of the representations by hon. Members and others on the merits of each good cause and, to address one of the issues in the amendments, we shall explain the basis on which we have decided the allocation.

When deciding what to do with the millennium share, we must try to ensure that each body has the potential to achieve at least as much as it has already achieved. We have adequate arrangements in place to ensure that we can evaluate the effectiveness and performance of each body. As the right hon. Gentleman will know from his membership of the Public Accounts Committee, the Department is accountable to Parliament for the effective use of national lottery distribution funds. As part of its normal sponsorship activities for the lottery overall and for individual distributing bodies, the Department is continually engaged in reviewing the performance of those distributing bodies. We will look very carefully at what has been done by each of the bodies and what can be achieved in future. That is the way in which we shall assess the performance of those lottery bodies, but, before reaching any final decision, we shall, of course, listen to what the lottery distributors and others have to say about the case for increasing the share of each good cause.

The hon. Member for West Suffolk (Mr. Spring) effectively said that the Bill goes beyond the manifesto. The manifesto, covering as it did the whole range of Government's responsibilities, dealt with the lottery only briefly. We did publish, as he acknowledged, during the election campaign a policy document, "The People's Money", which set out in more detail our plans for widening the benefits of the lottery. It fleshed out our plans for the new good cause and made it clear that the lottery's success enabled the new good cause to be established while the millennium stream was still continuing. Who could object to that? If having such a new good cause is a good idea, why not do so as soon as it can be afforded without damaging the other good causes?

"The People's Money" received wide and favourable media coverage, and we all know the result of the election that followed a week after its publication. The ideas in "The People's Money" are, in all essentials, the same as those that were put forward in our White Paper last July, which nine out of 10 respondents supported. I fail to see why it is not perfectly legitimate for us to base the Bill

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on ideas that we put forward so clearly before the election and which were so comprehensively endorsed by the British people.

The hon. Member for West Suffolk is completely wrong to imply that there is some fundamental difference between the new good cause and the existing good causes. Is he saying that arts, sport and heritage are not core Government responsibilities? That may be his view, but it is certainly not mine.

I turn to the matter of damaging existing good causes, which was raised by the hon. Members for Ashford (Mr. Green) and for West Suffolk. The Opposition have returned to the most tired argument that has been used throughout the passage of the Bill--that we are taking money away from the existing good causes. That is simply not true. The Bill reduces the percentages that the arts, sport, heritage and charities will receive, but the greater than expected success of the lottery means that those are smaller percentages of a bigger total--in terms of hard cash, which is surely what matters to everyone, particularly the lottery distributing bodies, the existing good causes will receive £1.8 billion each during the current licence period, exactly the same as was forecast when the lottery started.

The other point that was made was that the good causes were counting on the extra income. The Opposition, when in power, never guaranteed that there would be no changes in the good cause percentage. They must have envisaged the possibility because they included in the 1993 Act provision to change the percentages by order. They never made it clear how they might use that power.


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