|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
"this House declines to give a Second Reading to the National Lottery Bill because it creates the Big Lottery Fund, which will take the National Lottery further away from its original purpose of providing new resources to charities, sport, heritage and the arts; because it breaches the principle of additionality and allows the Secretary of State too much interference over the direction of Lottery funds and distributors; because it fails to restore funding to the original four good causes, which have lost £3 billion in Lottery funding since 1998; and because it fails to give the public sufficient say in where Lottery funding will go."
I feel that at the beginning of this debate I should almost declare an interest because many good causes and projects in my constituency have benefited from lottery fundsnot least the £5 million given to the first class Norden Farm arts centre in Maidenhead. Of course, that could be said for all Members. Equally, I am sure that we all know of causes that have bid for funds and been turned down. Sadly, I fear that as a result of the Bill more good local causes will be deprived of
14 Jun 2005 : Column 173
fundsnot because they do not have a good case, but because they do not fit the Government's ideas of what money should be spent on.
As the Minister said, the lottery has become part of our way of life. Every week, millions of hopeful Britons buy their lottery ticket, not only convinced in the knowledge that it could be them, but reassured that by taking part they are contributing to a host of good causesthat the money they donate goes to charities, to community groups, to improving the arts and sports and to restoring our heritage sites.
Billions of pounds have been raised as a result of public support for the lottery, and it is a shame that the Government do not hold the lottery in the same esteem. The Bill will lead to the lottery further becoming just another arm of Government. The Government's contempt is evident in the fact that we are only now debating this issue, when in fact the Department for Culture, Media and Sport started the administrative process of establishing the Big Lottery Fund back in October 2003. It was set up by ministerial sleight of hand, without consultation or legislation in the House, and it is extraordinary that, more than 18 months later, we are only now getting down to the nitty-gritty of the Billand that the Government intend that the Committee stage of the House should start and finish in October.
Mr. Don Foster: Later tonight, we shall debate a programme motion stating that deliberations in Committee must finish by 20 October. Does the right hon. Lady agree that even if the Committee were to sit on 11 October, the first day back after the summer recesswhich is extremely unlikelywe should have only four days to consider the Bill in Committee? Is not that bizarre?
We agree wholeheartedlybut those were not my words, they were those of the Prime Minister in 1997, spoken in the heady days of new Labour and cool Britannia[Interruption.] The Minister says that he agrees with those sentiments.
Let us look at what the Government have actually done with lottery funding: £231 million has been spent on ICT training for teachers and school librarians; £93 million on hospital equipment, as my hon. Friend the Member for Henley (Mr. Johnson) pointed out; £50 million on renewable energy; £42 million on the school fruit project; and, of course, there was the £45 million that the Government snaffled to pay for the Jamie Oliver school dinners project, trumpeted by the Secretary of State for Education and Skills as the Government's solution to the school dinners crisis. How many people bought their weekly lottery ticket thinking that the money would be spent on school dinners?
None of us would argue that those are not worthwhile projects and that they do not deserve support, but we take exception to the Government dipping their hand into the cookie jar to take money from good causes
14 Jun 2005 : Column 174
throughout the country. By establishing the Big Lottery Fund, the Government will establish in law the right to fund projects, through the lottery, that the taxpayer would rightly expect to be funded direct from Government. Training for school dinner ladies and the provision of hospital equipment are things that we all expect to be paid for by the taxes that the Chancellor raises, not to come from the coffers of charities and good causes. Every pound that the Government choose to snaffle in that way is a pound that cannot go to help community groups or to preserve our historic buildings.
The Minister claimed that the Bill will turn the lottery into something holistic and joined up. I say that the Government are turning the national lottery into yet another of the Chancellor's stealth taxes. I am surprised that we cannot see a great golden hand pointing down from heaven over No. 11 Downing street, because Members should have no doubt that, increasingly, the Chancellor will be a guaranteed lottery winner without even having to buy a ticket.
When the lottery was established in 1993 by the then Prime Minister, John Major, he was clear that its proceeds should be spent on the then five good causes: sport, the arts, charities, heritage and the millennium fund, which by definition was to be wound up by the end of the last decade. He was clear from the outset that lottery money should be used for additional spending on causes and activities that the taxpayer had not been able to cover. He said:
"Additionality has never meant that Lottery projects should be completely divorced from public services and existing Government initiatives. They must be additional and they can be additional in many different ways."
Ms Angela C. Smith (Sheffield, Hillsborough) (Lab): Will the right hon. Lady tell me the difference between lottery money given to charitable groups providing sports facilities for children and lottery money given to charitable groups providing sports facilities for children in schools as part of an extended school facility? Does that not mean that the additionality principle is not breached?
If the money is given to charitable causes that choose to use it for sports facilities, whether or not on a school site, the additionality principle is not breached. However, I suggest that the hon. Lady read the Bill to discover the Government's precise intentions, because the Secretary of State will be able to direct funds in a way that was not intended when the lottery was set up.
14 Jun 2005 : Column 175
Mr. Caborn: I give a guarantee that between 60 and 70 per cent. of the Big Lottery Fund's income will go to communities or charities. The fund will be bigger because we will have removed bureaucracy: between £6 million and £12 million will be available to the distributor because bureaucracy and administration will have been reduced by bringing three schemes together into one. I repeat, there will be a bigger pot and between 60 and 70 per cent. of the money will go to communities or charities. Whoever made the statement to which the right hon. Lady has referred is wrong about the amount of money going to charities and communities.
Mrs. May: It is no good the Minister saying that a great benefit of the Bill is that it will reduce bureaucracy, when it was the Government who created that bureaucracy when they introduced the New Opportunities Fund. The Minister claimed on the radio this morning and in the House this afternoon, both in his speech and his intervention, that one of the great benefits of the Bill is that it will reduce administrative costs and bureaucracybut why were they there in the first place? They were there because the Government set up the New Opportunities Fund, a body that was to direct how lottery money was spent. I listened carefully to the Minister's statement about the percentage of Big Lottery Fund money that will go to charities and I am grateful to him for having made it, but we know that the Big Lottery Fund will be subject to far greater direction from the Government and the Secretary of State because that is stated in the Bill.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|