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1.24 am

Mr. John Greenway (Ryedale): The order constitutes the most telling evidence yet of the scale of the Labour party's change of attitude to the national lottery between being in opposition and being in government.

When the lottery was created, Labour spokesmen--then shadow spokesmen--made great play of the need to ensure that the principles of arm's length and additionality were an integral part of the decision-making on the basis of which good causes should be supported. Moreover, as my hon. Friend the Member for East Surrey (Mr. Ainsworth) said, one current Minister at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport--the Minister for Sport--strongly supported the additionality principle.

Actually, that applies to two Ministers. Back in 1993 the Minister for the Arts, the right hon. Member for Newport, East (Mr. Howarth), expressed strong support for additionality. And--as the right hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross (Mr. Maclennan) reminded us--even on gaining office, the Prime Minister himself reiterated Labour's commitment to additionality, saying that this money should not be spent on matters that were the responsibility of Government.

The Government increasingly interfere in decisions on lottery funding, demanding that more and more money be ring-fenced for specific projects. More important is the fact that my right hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Major)--who I think my right hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster

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(Mr. Brooke) would acknowledge was the architect of the lottery, if he was the master mason--said in The Mail on Sunday on 29 October:

--the new opportunities fund--

The order takes us even further down the road of Government control over lottery spending, by awarding to the new opportunities fund all the current 20 per cent. of lottery funding paid to the Millennium Commission in order to fund projects that have been determined by Ministers. The debate is not about whether the causes that will be supported are worthy--[Interruption.] It is not. It is about whether it is right for at least a third of lottery proceeds to be spent under Government direction, and with the clear involvement of Government Departments.

Mr. Chris Smith: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Greenway: Just a moment.

When we debated sport the other day, I asked the Minister for Sport how the £750 million for sport in schools would be spent. We are told that a forum will be established, including the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Education and Employment, but not local authorities. There will not even be a bidding process. In other words, Government Departments will determine where the money is spent.

Mr. Smith: The debate is about whether, after the flow of funds to the Millennium Commission has finished, lottery money should be spent on health, education and the environment. That is the issue, and it would appear that that is what the Opposition are opposing.

Mr. Greenway: The right hon. Gentleman is wrong. It is about the mechanism, the architecture, of the lottery, not about which individual good causes will be supported.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster explained the original percentages that were awarded to the then five good causes. He expressed regret that the funds paid to those original good causes had been cut, and, in particular, that charities were losing out. My hon. Friend the Member for East Surrey made it clear that we would honour all the commitments made by NOF to the various projects for which funds had been announced. For example, I have already made it clear that we will honour the £750 million for school sports promised by the Prime Minister.

In his article, my right hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon reminded us that sport in schools would be a major beneficiary of the redistribution of Millennium Commission funds. However, the decision about the distribution of such funds should be the decision of Sport England and the three other home country sports councils. They have the necessary expertise. The Government should trust them. As it is, it will be the Government who decide whether that money is spent.

I come to the Secretary of State's criticism. Arguably, more money for charities, including health charities, could be distributed at arm's length by the National Lottery

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Charities Board, the very body that, as every hon. Member knows, is under greatest pressure from applications for good causes--more applications have been turned down for lack of funding. Is it not interesting that the very body that Labour, when in opposition, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster confirmed, wanted to see as an important fifth good cause--charities--should have been short changed by Labour in office? If the order is passed, it will be short changed not temporarily on the creation of the sixth good cause, but permanently.

In awarding the entire Millennium Commission funding to NOF, the Government have disregarded the effects of their cut in the funding of the other lottery distribution bodies. The cut in income to the sports lottery fund has already led to many worthy projects being turned down. More to the point, as the vice-chairman of Sport England pointed out in March, applications are being actively discouraged for lack of funds. Projects that would have been rubber stamped two and three years ago will now not be funded.

It is astonishing that Ministers could ever think that they know best where lottery money should be spent, when their track record in respect of the projects in which they have been involved has been spectacularly unsuccessful. We have already debated the abysmal mismanagement of the dome, the continuing uncertainty over the Wembley project and the likely venue for the World athletics championships in 2005. All those projects share the common curse of ministerial interference.

The Government came to power promising to create a people's lottery, but they are creating a "Government's lottery". The debate provides a timely opportunity for Parliament to make a stand on the re-establishment of the arm's length and additionality principles. I warn the House that failure to do so will project us further down the slippery slope, leading to a lottery where all the money is spent by Government diktat. Nothing would be more likely to destroy the public's enthusiasm for the national lottery. Decisions on funding should be the preserve of genuinely independent lottery funding bodies, not Ministers. For that reason, we shall oppose the order.

1.33 am

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Janet Anderson): As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has explained, the order provides that, after the extension period, all the lottery income that previously went to the Millennium Commission will instead be allocated to the new opportunities fund. He has outlined the many valuable and popular programmes that NOF is carrying out, or has planned. We want that good work to continue; hence the order.

NOF's increased income will allow it to make a real change in the quality of people's lives. I make no apology for that. Indeed, in the light of some of the comments by those on the Opposition Front Bench, it is important to remind the House what the new NOF initiatives are. There is £750 million for additional sports facilities for schools and wider community use. The hon. Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway) has said that the Conservative party, should it ever come to power again--heaven forbid that that should happen--would honour that commitment. However, he has not given us any commitment on the

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other projects, such as £50 million for outdoor adventure and other activities for young people. Would Conservative Members support those projects?

Would Conservative Members support the use of £300 million to boost the fight against heart disease and stroke, to provide extra money for the fund's current initiative to combat cancer and to provide palliative care for adults and children with life-threatening and chronic illness? What would Conservative Members do about that?

Mr. Paul Tyler (North Cornwall): I am very confused by the Minister's comments. Is she saying that those very worthy objectives which surely should be central to all Government programmes would not be funded if there were not a new opportunities fund? That is the logic of what she is saying. Why is she now advancing a case for lottery funding that was not thought to be relevant or appropriate when the lottery was first established?

Janet Anderson: I shall deal with the hon. Gentleman's point on additionality in the course of my closing remarks. However, I remind him that all the projects that I am outlining are additional to the extra money that the Government have already put into health and education. Would Opposition Members support the NOF provision of £200 million for child care?

Mr. Brooke: Is there not a difference between the way in which the lottery was established initially, when distributors were allowed to choose what they spent the money on--admittedly, at the behest of the then Opposition, with a concentration on capital projects--and the way in which, under the current Government, decisions on where money should be spent on health, education or the environment are being taken by the Government as their central focus, so that the new opportunities fund has to decide only how it should spend the money? However, I have to assume from the letter that I received from the Secretary of State for Health that the fund is taking Government advice on that matter, too.

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