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Orders of the Day

National Lottery Bill

[Relevant documents: The Fifth Report from the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Session 2003–04 HC196 on Reform of the National Lottery, and the Government's response thereto, Cm 6232.]

Order for Second Reading read.

Mr. Speaker: I inform the House that I have selected the amendment in the name of the Leader of the Opposition.

3.32 pm

The Minister for Sport and Tourism (Mr. Richard Caborn): I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

It is 10 years since the national lottery was introduced, and it has grown to be part of our national way of life; indeed, some would now call it an institution. That is underlined by the fact that 70 per cent. of us play on a regular basis. Last year, just under 5 billion tickets were sold. Over the period of its life, the lottery has raised about £17 billion for good causes. By any standards, it has been a huge success, and I give credit to the Opposition for introducing it when they were in power. In particular, the Prime Minister of the time, John Major, played a major role in introducing the lottery, which has had broad support across the House for that decade or so. That is to the credit of all those on both sides of the House who promoted the original National Lottery Bill back in 1993 and developed it further in 1998.

Tickets do not sell themselves, and the choices between good-cause projects are sometimes hard to make. Success is the result of constant hard work and creativity by Camelot, the lottery distributor, the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts and the National Lottery Commission, all of which should be congratulated on how they have conducted themselves over the past decade or so. They have helped to maintain interest and, importantly, confidence in the lottery.

Last year, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the first lottery draw, and people all over the country have been marking the 10 years since the first lottery awards went to good causes. Advice centres, leisure centres, cricket clubs, wetlands sites and film theatres from all over the country have joined in and held celebration open days to say, "Thank you" to the people of this country who have played the lottery and who have therefore contributed to good causes. Nowhere celebrated more enthusiastically than the Eden project in Cornwall, which is one of many excellent projects that the Millennium Commission has supported with spectacular success.

When I became a Minister in 1997, I worked on regeneration, setting up the regeneration agencies and planning. I travelled to Mevagissey in Cornwall to examine the site of the Eden project and visited the Cornish clay quarry, as it was then, in a battered old Land Rover. When someone explained the concept of a big bubble on the side of the quarry, I thought, "They must be mad", but the Millennium Commission and
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others had the vision to back that futuristic project, and they were right to do so. I have visited the Eden project on a number of subsequent occasions—my children have visited it, too, and I hope to take my grandchildren there this year. The project was a good investment in itself, but it has also had a considerable impact on that part of Cornwall's economy, and it is important to acknowledge the contribution of the lottery, the Millennium Commission and others.

Mr. Don Foster (Bath) (LD): Does the Minister agree that the organisers of the Eden project had a phenomenally good idea when they decided to open up the project for people to view while it was being built? They called their idea, "The big build", which was a great way to get people to take an interest in the Eden project.

Mr. Caborn: That was an excellent idea, and the specially built greenhouses in which the plants to fill the Eden project were growing also became a visitor attraction. The organisers did a lot of work to ensure that the Eden project was a success when it was eventually launched.

However, such success cannot be taken for granted. The national lottery must stay in close touch with what people are thinking and striving for, and it needs to communicate its achievements, which it has not done as well as it could have done. The lottery must develop to meet new aspirations, and all those involved must work hard, respond to change and deliver the best value for public money.

Some of those changes require a new legal framework to get money to those who are not expert in the system and who need money quickly, to allow good-cause funders to raise awareness of the lottery's successes and use modern techniques to involve the public in decision taking, to get more of the money into the front line rather than into administration and bureaucracy and to improve the powers of the regulator of the lottery games.

Mr. David Drew (Stroud) (Lab/Co-op): I agree with my right hon. Friend that we must get the money to where it will be spent best, but some hon. Members have slight misgivings about clauses 7 and 8, which might allow the redistribution of balances of some elements of the lottery. He has discussed the Eden project; I am working on a project to raise money through the Heritage Lottery Fund to reopen the Cotswold canal, which relies on balances being held over on occasions until all the funding is in place. Does my right hon. Friend recognise the worry that if the Secretary of State could pilfer those funds, he might rob Peter to pay Paul?

Mr. Caborn: I recognise that worry, which I shall address later in my speech. A related concern is the question why more than £4 billion was being held in reserve at one stage. It is a matter of striking a balance, but I hope that I can reassure my hon. Friend that the Secretary of State will not pilfer anything and will act in the best interests of the lottery.

John Bercow (Buckingham) (Con): Like many Members, I am concerned about the transparency of the process. With regard to clause 14(2) and the power to
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distribute funds under section 36B of the National Lottery etc. Act 1993, can the right hon. Gentleman tell the House whether the order-making power is exercisable by the negative procedure of the House or according to its affirmative counterpart?

Mr. Caborn: If hon. Members would allow me to get through more than three paragraphs of my speech I will probably answer some of their questions when I come to the relevant points.

These changes will renew the vigour of the lottery and, we hope, sustain it for the next 10 successful years. Some hon. Members may ask me about the Olympics. Let me say that the Bill does not, of course, cover the framework needed for staging the Olympic games in London. Parliament has already approved legislation to make the new Olympic lottery games possible and to set up the distributor for that money.

Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP): Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Caborn: Just give me 30 seconds.

I am sure that on 6 July, when we come back from Singapore with the Olympic games, even the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) will be saying from his place in Scotland how welcome that success is for the United Kingdom.

Pete Wishart: Absolutely—I wish London great success when it comes to the bid in July. Nevertheless, can the Minister confirm that no funds will be taken from the mainstream lottery and given to the London Olympic lottery game? Is not it right that the commitment and purchases of those who continue to play the mainstream lottery should be honoured?

Mr. Caborn: The answer is yes. There will be displacement in terms of the Olympic draw. That has already been debated in this House during the passage of the Horserace Betting and Olympic Lottery Act 2004. The situation was clearly explained and the House voted for that legislation.

Let me re-cap on how we got to this Bill. The proposals are based on two rounds of consultation and involvement. The first of those was launched in 2002, with a very open agenda for change. People were asked for views on our emerging thinking and encouraged to make their own suggestions for change. What came through the reading of those reports and the subsequent comments that were made was a resounding vote of confidence in the lottery. We found that people wanted to know more about where the money had been spent and felt that it was right for Camelot and distributors to work together on this.

People also wanted more consultation and more involvement in decision making, while stressing the need for impartiality. They wanted it to be easier to apply for lottery funding and welcomed the idea of a single front door, particularly for smaller grants. There was overwhelming support for the concept of additionality and a strong belief that it was still relevant. There was recognition, too, that lottery funding needed to complement other streams of funding in order to deliver most benefit.
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Although most people did not want to move to a single lottery distributor, there was support for a possible merger of the Community Fund and the New Opportunities Fund, as long as a sound case was made for rationalisation.

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