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I begin by congratulating the hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Field) on his elevation to the shadow Department for Culture, Media and Sport team. I am sure that all who have followed the National Lottery Bill debate will enjoy his contribution today. It is said that a week is a long time in politics, but those who have studied the Bill will know that, unfortunately, it has taken a very long time to reach this stage. It is some 60 weeks since it was given its First Reading, on 25 November 2004, and here we are still working our way through it.
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I want to make clear, as I did in Committee, my own position regarding the national lottery. I believe that my party was wrong to oppose establishing the lottery all those years ago. The evidence is very clear that it has been of enormous benefit to many communities throughout the country. Indeed, since it began, some £17 billion to £18 billion has been given to good causes, thereby benefiting people from all walks of life.
Some 200,000 grants have been made and, pleasingly, a very large proportion of them have been relatively smallsome £5,000 or lessand have brought real benefit to local communities. There may have been disagreement on the odd lottery grant here and there, but in general everybody acknowledges that those awards have brought real and tangible benefits to such communities. My own community of Bath has received some £50 million in lottery grants over the years, including money for Bath university's new sports training village, a facility that I believe will enable us to capitalise fully on the benefits of the 2012 Olympics.
Parts of the Bill will be criticised today, but I stress that my party supports much of it. For example, the establishment of a legal framework for the Big Lottery Fund is especially welcome, as that organisation has operated for 18 months before being allowed to come into formal existence. However, our biggest disagreement with the Government has to do with additionality, the subject of new clause 1, as we are concerned about the Government's tendency to try to get their hands on lottery money.
Sir John Major set up the lottery when he was Prime Minister, and made it clear that the money raised would "not replace public expenditure". In 1997, the present Prime Minister used similar words, saying that it would not be right
That is exactly why we have tabled new clause 1; to put into effect what the Minister said that he wanted. The hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster will move new clause 2 shortly. Both it and new clause 1 are attempts to give the Minister what he said he wanted and ensure that the Bill deals with the question of additionality. If new clause 2 were to be pressed to a Division, I can assure the hon. Gentleman that my party would support it.
The public also believe that additionality is an important matter. Almost three-quarters of respondents to a 2003 YouGov poll said that it was "vitally
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important" that lottery distribution remain independent of Government interference. We must ensure that lottery money is not used as a slush fund by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, something that has happened far too often already.
For example, £93 million of lottery funds has been spent on magnetic resonance imaging scanners for the NHS, and £42 million on providing fruit in school. That led Sir Clive Booth, the Big Lottery Fund's excellent chairman, to say that the
Increasingly, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is not spending as much money, as a proportion of gross domestic product, as it used to, but that is because it has come to rely increasingly on money from the various lottery distributors.
Another aspect of the problem is that there is increasing confusion about which expenditure comes from the DCMS and which comes from the lottery. I shall give two examples. On the one hand, the Government claim credit for projects that in fact are funded by the lottery; on the other, they try to pass the buck for failure to the lottery. Parliamentary answers last November revealed that one Department incorrectly claimed credit for a supposedly independent project that was successful, whereas a Minister in another Department has blamed the lottery for unwise Government spending.
A report from the Department for Trade and Industry said that the £1.9 million spent on renewable energy research into biomass was funded by "DTI and lottery spend". However, further questions uncovered the fact that none of the money spent on that research came from the DTI. In other words, the Government were claiming credit for research that was funded entirely by the lottery.
On 31 October last year, I asked a parliamentary question about a highly contentious sports questionnaire survey that was criticised by various newspapers. The survey cost £6 million, but the Government answered that the money came from the national lottery. I pursued the matter, and several weeks later the DCMS admitted that the original answer was incorrect and that the vast majority of funding for that controversial project came from the Department. That shows that the Government have tried to confuse the public about what is lottery money and what is departmental money.
Have the Government plundered lottery money? There are many arguments about that, but today's Daily Mail carries an article about a report from the Centre for Policy Studies. That is a Conservative-leaning think tank, but that does not mean that it is always wrong. The newspaper uses the headline "Labour Has 'Plundered Billions out of the Lottery'", and its analysis may go a little far. However, the centre's website carries the
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preface to the report, which I understand will be published tomorrow, and it makes very interesting reading. In it, Sir John Majorwho, as I noted earlier, founded the lotterystates:
"From the outset, I insisted that Lottery money should be used for additional spending on causes or activities that the taxpayer should not be expected to cover . . . When the Lottery Bill was going through Parliament, the Labour Opposition was at pains to stress the importance of Government keeping an arms-length relationship from the Lottery and, in particular, grant distribution. But, since it took power, Labour has diverted Lottery funding into areas that have historically been funded by the Exchequer. Indeed, the "Big Lottery Fund" has a specific remit to fund health, education and environment projects when taxpayers would rightly expect many of these projects to be funded directly by Government. The Labour Government's deliberate muddying of the waters between Exchequer and Lottery revenues is an unwelcome development and which, as its creator, dismays me greatly."
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