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8.43 p.m.

Lord Howell: My Lords, in my judgment, this debate has been of a very high standard, which I must try to maintain. I should like to congratulate my noble friend Lord Attenborough on a brilliant maiden speech in philosophy and concept. Of the other two maiden speakers, my noble friend Lord Dubs made a speech which was extremely pertinent to the subject of this debate. I was not present to hear the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Tope, but I have been told that it was excellent. I have thus been able to congratulate my three colleagues.

In my judgment, the gracious Speech should be more than a catalogue of forthcoming attractions. It should also express concern for what I should like to call the ethos of our society--the spirit and indeed the soul of life as we live it today. I composed those words before I knew that the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury was to speak in the debate. He spoke wonderfully well on a whole range of subjects of concern to our society. I should like to express my appreciation of the service that he has done us today.

Such thoughts occurred to me as I contemplated the launch of the national lottery, about which I intend to speak. It proved to be a total marketing operation, devoid of any sense of ideals or fairness toward competing competitions such as the pools or premium bonds. Most importantly, it trampled underfoot all the consideration that we should have for the charities. Charities are important. There are 200,000 charities in this country and 500,000 voluntary bodies. They are the lifeblood of our community.

I have always supported the national lottery. I was a member of the National Lottery Promotion Company which championed it. I supported it in Parliament by speech and vote and I bought tickets last week. So my concerns do not arise from hostility to its concept. I am concerned that the operation should be promoted fairly and should respect the interests of everyone else in the field. The public good should receive equal consideration to the marketing promotion of the lottery.

As I see the matter, Ministers have laid no responsibility upon the director general of the lottery (who awarded the lottery to Camelot) to ensure that the public good was a factor in determining who should operate the new bonanza. The football pools, which I also support, have made a magnificent contribution to the Football Trust, which I myself instituted. Now, every football ground in the country has been transformed in matters of comfort and improved in safety. Also, the pools-funded Foundation for Sport and the Arts has accepted responsibility to aid the whole

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field of sport and art. The football pools have every right to feel aggrieved by the treatment that they receive in comparison with the lottery. They and the betting industry are now subject to direct competition from the lottery. But, unlike the lottery, they are excluded from access to television. They cannot even buy time to advertise their wares--nor, incidentally, can the premium bonds do so.

Yet the extent to which the BBC promoted the lottery--several minutes at a time of free advertising--was a blatant abuse of its charter. The advertising went far beyond anything which could be said to be advertising the programme when the draw took place. The advertising of the BBC amounted to no less than a promotion of the lottery itself. As I said, that is an abuse of its charter. It is a matter of considerable importance and is directly the responsibility of the Home Office. Therefore, I ask the Minister whether he and his colleagues will investigate this matter and report back to Parliament on it.

The pools have other sources of complaint. A roll-over prize, which the lottery can operate, cannot be undertaken by the pools until it has been first operated by the national lottery. That seems an extraordinary state of affairs. Unlike the national lottery, the pools cannot show the checking of pools coupons, nor can they take part in handing out any of the prizes won on the pools in the newsagent shops where the tickets were bought. Incidentally --this is a figure which I came across only today and will probably astound your Lordships, as it did me--if one adds up the tax that the pools pay and the donations that they now make to good causes through the Football Trust and the foundation, it seems that the pools now pay out 47 per cent. of their income in that way. The lottery pays out 40 per cent. of its income in that way. That is an astonishing comparison. I feel that the Chancellor should examine the discrepancy in his forthcoming Budget. Again, the national lottery can pay out small prize money at the shops. That, as I said, is unlawful for the pools to do.

Finally, I should like to turn to the matter of charities. I ask the House to consider the treatment suffered by charities. When the Lottery Bill first appeared, there was no provision for charities. That was added later in response to widespread criticism from all parts of the House regarding the likely effect of the lottery upon charities. The charities receive 6p in the pound for every ticket sold in the national lottery. It is already clear that charity income will suffer as a result of the over-the-top promotion of the national lottery. The amount for the lottery launch alone is said to be £45 million--an astronomical sum and grotesquely over the top in my judgment. If that sort of advertising is maintained it will be certain to damage every other lottery in the land.

It may be recalled that Part II of the Charities Act 1993 stipulated that in the case of joint ventures--private companies operating with charities--the tickets must clearly state how much of the stake money goes to the charity. I think most of us would support that. Why does that principle not affect the national lottery? As I say, the contribution is 6p, yet most of the propaganda for the national lottery sought to suggest that the way to support charities was to buy national lottery tickets. That

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is quite ludicrous. If we want to support a charity, we must give £1 to the charity and not give £1 to the lottery, which will then give the charity 6p. I remind the House again that the 6p is not a donation to the charity. It is 6p to compensate the charities for the income which it is assessed that they will lose as a result of the operation.

The charities say that they are already experiencing considerable problems in promoting their causes because of the saturation coverage of the national lottery. Tenovous --a group of 10 charities which gave themselves that name --has been operating at 150 sale points in Tesco stores. That has now been reduced to 50 because of competition from the national lottery. There is therefore a direct reduction of its income as a result of the national lottery. Littlewoods Pools tell me that it has been asked to lend its professional expertise to promote charity lotteries, which it is pleased to do. But it is experiencing the greatest possible difficulty, acting on behalf of charities, in obtaining outlets in shops and supermarkets because the lottery seems to win every time.

Some may say that it is too early to judge the effect of lotteries upon charity giving. I do not think so. For example, in Ireland, where there has been a lottery for some time, they have now been able to measure the reduction of income to charities and they put it at 4 per cent. Here it has been estimated that the drop will be around 7 per cent. or £200 million a year--an exceedingly large figure.

The Institute of Charity Fund Raising Managers is so concerned about the way in which the national lottery is being launched that it wanted to complain to the Advertising Standards Authority against Camelot. It said that in its view,

    "the advertisement for the lottery could lead the public to believe they are giving for charity when they are not".

As I said before, they are compensating charities for loss of revenue. That is a universal view in the charity world. Michael Taylor, the director of Christian Aid, put it very starkly when he said,

    "We positively hate the ads".

We must take account of those views.

The institute estimates that at least £100 million per annum will be lost to charities. I see that on the tape today it was stated that £2.5 million of this week's lottery will go to help the charities. If there are 52 charities, that amounts to £125 million, which is well short of the £200 million which the charities already estimate they will be losing. The £45 million spent on the launch of the lottery and its massive advertising campaign is distorting the concept of charity giving and therefore it should be a matter of great concern to us all. It is damaging the ethos and community spirit of our society. It must be reined in.

In this country charities are a great national asset. They save the country billions of pounds. Even more important, they provide thousands of hours of dedicated voluntary service--service which money cannot buy. I submit that it is the duty of Parliament, and especially of government, above all to protect the position of the charities. I hope that the Government can assure us tonight that they will accept that responsibility and pay

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close attention to the operation of the national lottery which quite properly causes many of its supporters the greatest possible anxiety.

8.55 p.m.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: My Lords, although not mentioned in Her Majesty's speech, the news that a children Bill for Scotland was going to form part of the "other measures" to be laid before us, was welcome indeed. This evening I am wearing my hat as the Lords' Convenor of the Scottish All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children, which I believe I took over from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Morton of Shuna, who spoke earlier. I should like to endorse every word he said, particularly in regard to the timescale between the publication of the Bill and any Second Reading or further debate on it.

The Children Act 1989 affected mainly England and Wales. The last major piece of legislation affecting children in Scotland was the 1968 Social Work (Scotland) Act, so it is now 26 years since the law regarding children in Scotland was revised. The Child Care Law Review was set up in 1988 and published its report in 1990. The Scottish Law Commission made its recommendations on family law in 1992. The consultation period for adoption law ended on 31st August 1993. We have had Lord Clyde's report on the Orkney child abuse inquiry and a number of others which have shown, as did the Cleveland inquiry in England, that all is not well with the law as it stands or with related matters which will, I hope, be included in the Bill. Will the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, be able to tell us in his winding-up speech when the Government expect the Bill to be published? Will he also be able to answer a few more questions?

A checklist of items which the Scottish All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children would like to see included in the Bill was sent last summer to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Fraser of Carmyllie. Can the Minister say whether all the items included in that checklist have been incorporated in the Bill? Can he tell us also what the Government's intentions are regarding resources?

We understand that the Bill will be dealt with in another place by the Scottish Grand Committee sitting in Scotland--at least for Second Reading and Committee stages of the Bill. I heard, as did the noble and learned Lord, Lord Morton of Shuna, that it would debate it on Monday, 5th December. Can that be so when that is less than a fortnight hence and the Bill is not yet available? How will its procedures work? Is the report true which appeared in the Herald, I think, last Thursday 17th November, that it would be able to call witnesses? If that is so, how will that work? Will children's organisations in Scotland which would like to give evidence or produce witnesses, be able to request a hearing, or will the committee alone decide whether or not it wishes to call any witnesses; and, if so, what witnesses they wish to call?

Finally, how will the Committee stage work in this House? Is it true, as the Herald suggests, that the legislation will be taken off the Floor of the House? If so, who will be able to table amendments and who will

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be able to speak to them and vote on them? I know that I am asking the noble Lord a great many questions at this very early stage, but we should very much like to know where we stand.

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