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23 Oct 2002 : Column 292—continued

Tessa Jowell: I certainly do. My hon. Friend has been an unstinting advocate and supporter of the Eden project which is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country—another successful investment by the lottery. In addition the lottery has provided more than 320,000 child care places, 156 neighbourhood nurses, 300 healthy living centres, which serve more than 30 per cent. of the population in some of our most deprived communities and more than 570 pieces of cancer diagnostic equipment. Which of those do the Opposition regret the lottery paying for?

All in all tens of thousands of grants have been made to improve the lives of millions of people.

Matthew Green: We heard earlier from the former Secretary of State, the right hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith), that one of the Government's priorities for lottery distribution was young people, yet in the west midlands the regional board of the community fund has removed young people from its list of five priorities. Does the Secretary of State have something to say about that? Does she regard it as the correct decision? From what Conservative Members have been saying from a sedentary position about young people, they clearly do not consider them a deserving cause.

Tessa Jowell: I am surprised that that regional board has taken that decision, because 26 per cent. of the community fund's income goes to children and young people; 12 per cent. goes to older people and their carers and 33 per cent. goes to disabled people.

Mr. Challen : On Sunday lunchtime, I was at Morley rugby club to present a cheque for #60,000—#30,000 from the lottery and #30,000 from a local company under the Sportsmatch scheme—to help the club go to into schools over the next three years to encourage young people, both boys and girls, to take up rugby. The Opposition might argue that that should be done by schools—that it is a state function. Yet here we have an example of the lottery arrangements that they decry helping young people.

Tessa Jowell: My hon. Friend provides a good example from his constituency, and he has campaigned

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tirelessly for fair shares of lottery allocation to constituencies across the country. His example shows clearly how the lottery can fund sport as a force for good and a force for community cohesion, in his constituency and beyond.

Seven years ago, Britain was a different kind of country. The fact that we now have one of the most diverse and exciting cultural scenes in Europe is in no small part due to the success of the lottery. It is why the Sydney Olympics gave Britain the biggest medal tally since the 1920s and why every school in the country has books that it could not afford before. It is why—as my hon. Friend the Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Ms Atherton) said—the Eden project is revitalising the economy of Cornwall, giving us one of the greatest centres for environmental learning in the world. It is why Childline has a new home, where it can continue to help abused children. It is why Belfast has a new 10,000-seat arena and a science centre that is helping to regenerate the whole city. We are helping unite people through sport, education and having fun. The list is endless but I use it to illustrate a point.

The Tories gave us a politician-proof lottery, for which they deserve credit. But there were flaws in the original design of the lottery because it was also people-proof. People had, and still have, too little say in the allocation of funds. Under the Tories, the lottery focused on big capital projects, with 97 per cent. of lottery money in 1995–96 spent on such projects. That was reduced to 35 per cent. by February this year. Lottery funds were not spent on the areas that needed them most; the most deprived and needy areas and the places with fewest facilities.

In 1998, the then Secretary of State, my right hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith), re-oriented the lottery towards people and communities.

Mr. Andy Reed (Loughborough): Does my right hon. Friend agree that many local organisations found the process difficult? In my area, the sports clubs that were successful were tennis clubs and others with professional support on their management committees. Those who were most deprived were the clubs that most needed the money. The biggest change that we made was to ensure that there were fair shares. I am sure that all hon. Members would agree that that was the right move at the time.

Tessa Jowell: It was the right move at the time. We have made more progress in getting a proper and equitable distribution of lottery funds, but there is still more to do.

The lottery does not belong to the Government, to the lottery distributors or to Camelot. It belongs to the people who play the lottery, week in and week out, who play in the hope that their dreams will come true. When we spend lottery proceeds on good causes, we are giving back to the people what is already theirs: their inheritance.

Miss Kirkbride : It would be a shame if the right hon. Lady finished her remarks without offering some

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clarification. She denigrated the Conservative Government for not giving people enough choice, but surely she approves of the capital project spending for the millennium, to which she has just paid tribute in her speech. Can we make it clear that that was a considerable achievement on the part of the Conservative Government, and not to be denigrated?

Tessa Jowell: I gave generous praise to the previous Government for their role in starting the lottery, but I also made it clear that the lottery had become too heavily focused on funding capital projects, to the exclusion of the range of community projects and support for voluntary organisations that we have now secured for the lottery.

Because the lottery belongs to the people of this country we owe it to lottery players—many of whom pay to play it out of their most marginal income—to ensure that their money is used wisely for the benefit of the whole nation. Our 1998 reforms have opened the way to massive investment in communities: #300 million for healthy living centres to tackle the underlying causes of ill-health; #750 million to transform the quality of sports and PE facilities across the country for schools and their communities; #200 million for after-school learning and summer camps; and #160 million for those areas that have done least well from the lottery. I pay tribute to the Members of Parliament from those areas, who have pressed their case so effectively. They made their case well for the good causes in their constituencies, and we listened. Because the lottery is strong, because people can have confidence in it, and because it is flexible and responsive, many good causes in those constituencies will now benefit. All in all, that will give everyone the chance that the lucky take for granted. Such a grant does not replace Government spending—it complements it.

Mr. Lansley: Will the hon. Lady give way?

Tessa Jowell: No, I want to make some progress. I do accept that this distinction—the so-called principle of additionality—is a fine one to draw, but draw it we do. If we were not a Government who drew that distinction, people would not have seen, for instance, the investment in the sure start programme that we made in the past four years.

The review that I established in July will take a long, hard look at the way in which the lottery operates. I expect it to be radical in scope and no-holds-barred in its analysis. It will plot a route map for the lottery in the future. It will look at how to award the lottery licence in the future, and consider whether there are too many distributors. Do they complement each other's work, or do they overlap? It will also consider how to strengthen public understanding of how the lottery works, and what is does with the public's money.

Some problems we have identified already. We know that it can be too difficult for some groups to apply for grants. The process can be too long and too complex. We know that the poorest areas should receive a greater slice of the cake. The fair shares programme will distribute #169 million to areas of deprivation that have not fared well from the lottery. It is worth recording that coalfield communities, which fared very badly in terms of their share of lottery funding, have seen such income rise by 50 per cent. in the past four years.

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We know that the lottery should be democratised, and that the people who play the lottery should have a greater say in how its proceeds are used. For politicians and bureaucrats, asking people what they want can be a painful business, but we must not be afraid and we must not shy away from asking searching questions.

Caroline Flint (Don Valley): I intervene because my right hon. Friend mentioned coalmining communities, one of which I represent. Does she agree that delivering the substantial funds created by the lottery is a learning process? The Government have been prepared to listen to the problems faced by some communities, and to make changes when and where necessary. Is that not a strength, rather than a weakness?

Tessa Jowell: I entirely agree. We must—and will—build on the success of the lottery in changing the landscape of arts and sports funding in Britain. It has put culture and communities back at the heart of our country, and in that way put right the contempt for both expressed over the previous 18 years.

I am considering a number of ways to bring democracy to the lottery. There are many practical obstacles to overcome, but the principle is secure.

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