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7. Dr. John Pugh (Southport) (LD): Whether the amount of associated investment from the public purse required to establish a super-casino project is taken into account in deciding whether to approve such a project. [29640]

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Tessa Jowell): The Gambling Act 2005 allows for one regional casino, which will require a licence from the Gambling Commission and the local authority. It will be for the regional and local planning bodies to address the question of infrastructure provision and any associated costs.

Dr. Pugh: The Minister will know that, on the continent, casino operators contribute massively towards regeneration, in both capital and revenue. Here, the taxpayer is helping to assist the casinos into operation. Does the Minister know how much money the regional development agencies are proposing to spend on assisting the casino developments to become established?

Tessa Jowell: As the hon. Gentleman will know, we have in prospect proposals for one regional casino, eight large casinos and eight small casinos. The location of these casinos is being considered by the independent panel that I established, which will report later next year. One of the issues that it will consider will be the cost of provision, but ultimately it will be for local authorities to decide what, if any, conditions they wish to set on the development of a casino to offset the infrastructure costs to which the hon. Gentleman refers.

Mrs. Joan Humble (Blackpool, North and Fleetwood) (Lab): The Government are already making a very welcome investment in our local community to regenerate the areas that so badly need regeneration. Will my right hon. Friend liaise with her ministerial colleagues to ensure that any public money, including funding for skills retraining, is linked into the private investment from the casino developers to ensure that there is genuine regeneration in the area in which the new regional casino is to be built?

Tessa Jowell: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The impact on regeneration—of which improving skills levels and employability is a key part—will be one of the issues to be considered by the independent panel that will frame its recommendation on location.
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Mr. Malcolm Moss (North-East Cambridgeshire) (Con): Given that the decision on the location of the one super-casino has been delegated to the independent panel, does the Secretary of State think it right and proper to have held ministerial meetings with Philip Anschutz and other members of the Anschutz Entertainment Group to discuss their plans for such a casino at the millennium dome as part of their redevelopment of the site? Will all other super-casino operators be given similar high-level access, and, if so, why?

Tessa Jowell: I am interested in the hon. Gentleman's question. I am not aware of any ministerial meetings as such having been held. I attended a dinner at which Philip Anschutz was a guest. He certainly talked to me about casinos, but got absolutely no information that was not freely available in the newspapers.

Mr. John McFall (West Dunbartonshire) (Lab/Co-op): What plans, if any, does the Secretary of State have for super-casinos in Scotland? What negotiations have taken place with the Scottish Executive, and what emphasis will be placed on local authorities and communities' criteria regarding increased employment and regeneration?

Tessa Jowell: As my right hon. Friend will be aware, the independent panel is considering the location of the single regional casino, and I have made it absolutely clear that Ministers have no intention of initiating any proposals for further regional casinos. That being the case, no discussions have been entered into about regional casinos specifically with the Scottish Executive since the Bill's passage. There were certainly discussions with Scottish Ministers as was appropriate before that, but not subsequently.

National Lottery

8. Mr. Henry Bellingham (North-West Norfolk) (Con): How much lottery money intended for good causes is unallocated. [29641]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. David Lammy): Seven lottery distributors have unallocated funds totalling £67 million. I am very pleased that the other eight distributors have committed not just all the money held for them in the national lottery distribution fund, but a further £1.3 billion of future income.

Mr. Bellingham: What the figures do not show is that cash for key projects being financed by the lottery is taking far too long to draw down. Projects in my constituency are being delayed and people who buy lottery tickets expect that money to be spent as quickly as possible on good causes. Is it true that Her Majesty's Government have set targets and have those targets been met?

Mr. Lammy: The hon. Gentleman is right that the public want to know that money for good causes will get to the front line quickly and efficiently. Yes, there are targets. They are National Audit Office targets to which the distributors have agreed and we are pleased about
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that, but it is surprising that the official Opposition are not supporting us in ensuring that we take the reserve power to deal with those balances if distributors do not get on with the job.

Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab): I know that it is not for the Minister to decide whether any particular project should or should not receive money from the lottery, but will the Department undertake to research the situation affecting former mining constituencies? If he looks, he will see that, although there was an improvement two or three years ago in the amount of money going to former mining constituencies, in particular for arts and sports projects, thanks to some of the work done by the Government, that has fallen off again recently. I urge him to look at that.

Mr. Lammy: I shall be happy to ask officials to look into that and to get back to my hon. Friend.

Damian Green (Ashford) (Con): The Minister will be aware that many categories of lottery bidders have found their chances hugely reduced by the Government's changes to the distribution bodies. In particular, village halls and other rural community projects in my constituency and others now find their bids much less likely to be successful. In that context, should not the Minister do something effective about the £67 million of unallocated money that he mentioned, so that those categories of bidders who have lost out because the Government do not find them fashionable have a fairer crack of the whip?

Mr. Lammy: The hon. Gentleman knows that it is not about fashion; it is about good causes. No one will suggest that the good work that has been done by the Heritage Lottery Fund has not benefited village halls in shire communities or that the good work that is going on with the Big Lottery Fund has not benefited those communities. All around the country, £17.8 billion has been spent on good causes over the lifetime of the national lottery. He should celebrate that instead of talking down the benefits.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) (Lab): Is the Minister aware that Bolsover has a good cause, although it does not quite fit the categories? It is an ex-mining area, which fits in with what my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) said. We need a swimming bath. Will he tell Sport England that, if there is any money hanging around, we will spend it straight away? By the way, will he also tell it that we do not want a super-casino? A swimming bath will do.

Mr. Lammy: That is precisely the message that we wanted to convey to the distributors, but, as always, my hon. Friend has put the case extremely well.

Mr. James Paice (South-East Cambridgeshire) (Con): I assure the Minister that Conservative Members celebrate the national lottery. After all, we introduced it.

May I repeat the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for North-West Norfolk (Mr. Bellingham)? Funds have been massively over-subscribed in the case of, for instance, applications on behalf of village halls and sports communities. Villages such as Fulbourn in
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my constituency now realise that the plans that they devised cannot be fulfilled because the funds have been cut. Would it not make sense for the Minister to shift money quickly from under-subscribed funds to areas in which there is clearly an unmet need?

Mr. Lammy: The hon. Gentleman will have ample opportunity to make his case during the consultation on good causes and shares that will take place over the next few months, but I am sure that Sport England would disagree with the suggestion that it is not funding sports facilities throughout the country.

9. Mr. Adrian Bailey (West Bromwich, West) (Lab/Co-op): What progress has been made on linking educational initiatives for young people with second world war 60th-anniversary activities through the use of lottery funding. [29643]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. David Lammy): The veterans reunited initiative is providing £49.3 million of lottery money to help commemorate the events of the second world war and allow new generations to learn from the experience of veterans, and £10 million was made available specifically to provide educational activities for young people and schools.

Mr. Bailey: In my constituency, the Tipton branch of the Royal British Legion and Alexandra high school have united to promote a number of events, including a veterans' trip to Normandy and educational visits to war-related places. The consensus is that not only has the initiative promoted harmony between the generations, but the living history has contributed to educational achievement at the school. Will the Minister assure me that, under the new regime of the Big Lottery Fund, such funding will continue?

Mr. Lammy: My hon. Friend is right. Veterans reunited has widened children's understanding of the role played by ex-servicemen in the second world war and also enabled heroes to return to the battlefields and remember that contribution. I know that he will be pleased to learn that funding will continue not just for projects involving two schools in West Bromwich, but for 23 other projects there. That will ensure that our young people understand the contribution that was made.

Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con): Given that a third of young people under the age of 10 believe that we fought France in the second world war, does the Minister think that the money was wisely spent?

Mr. Lammy: The hon. Gentleman will know that the veterans reunited initiative makes an important contribution. He will also know that the work of teachers in our schools, citizenship and other aspects of public policy makes a contribution as well.

Mr. Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op): I accept that this has been a very good programme, but will my hon. Friend consider using it as a pilot? Lottery money could support the extended school initiative, which enables children to engage in out-of-school
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activity between 3.30 pm and 6 pm. It could provide a wonderful opportunity to involve young people in the history of their localities.

Mr. Lammy: My hon. Friend makes an interesting point, which I shall draw to the attention of the distributors. He may wish to bring it up in his response to the consultation on good causes.

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