Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 536 - 539)




  Thank you very much for coming back to see us. We are moving towards the end, though not absolutely the end, of this inquiry. Of course, since we last saw you, you have made your decision about who will be the licensee for the next period. Obviously, for that and for other reasons, we have more questions to ask you. Mr Fearn will begin.

Mr Fearn

  536. Do you think that the problems over the selection of licensee will have any lasting effects on the popularity of the Lottery?
  (Lord Burns) Of course that is very difficult to judge. At the moment I have no evidence that that is the case. I hope that from now on things will settle down, that life will go back to something approaching normality, and that, whatever adverse memories there are from this process, they will be forgotten. I think I said at the last evidence session that I do not see any clear evidence at this stage, in sales levels or whatever, that there has been any impact from this process.

  537. There was an impact during that period, though, was there not? Camelot reported that sales were greatly down.
  (Lord Burns) You have to smooth out the figures and to look at them over a period. My best reading of the total sales figures is that the underlying trend is broadly flat.

  538. I know you particularly were not there at the time but do you think that the Commission themselves created the problems that we had? I do. Do you?
  (Lord Burns) The fundamental problem that arose was that there were two bids in the summer which were not compliant. They did not meet the hurdles that were set in the legislation. My view is that that is the core of the problem that then emerged. Obviously the handling of the second stage, in particular the judicial review and the fact that the Commission's proposals for handling that were overturned by the judge, contributed to the problem. We should not forget that the basic problem that emerged from this was that, after a long period of looking at the two bids, neither of them passed the first two tests that are set out in the legislation. That should be given the right amount of weight in asking what contribution the Commission made in terms of the judgment in August that was found to be faulty.

  539. Can I remind you of what you said actually at our last session? You said that you had not had an opportunity to consider the future of regulation of the Lottery. Have you now reflected on this issue and what are your conclusions?

  (Lord Burns) I think you will probably accept that, between the period when I was last giving evidence and now, I have been rather heavily engaged in other matters, most particularly in completing the process of evaluation. I have not given as yet any further thought to the future of regulation. I hope that, once we have these hearings out of the way and once I get through the rest of this month, I will have the opportunity to give some further thought to it. In all honesty, I have been quite busy since the last time I was here.

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