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House of Lords

Tuesday, 6 December 2005.

The House met at half-past two of the clock: the LORD CHANCELLOR on the Woolsack.

Prayers—Read by the Lord Bishop of Chelmsford.

Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick

Michael John Hastings Esquire, CBE, having been created Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick, of Scarisbrick in the County of Lancashire, for life—Was, in his robes, introduced between the Lord Alton of Liverpool and the Lord Puttnam.

Olympic Games 2012: National Lottery

2.42 pm

Lord Renton of Mount Harry asked Her Majesty's Government:

What plans they have to ensure that local art, culture and heritage development throughout the United Kingdom is not affected as a result of £1.5 billion of National Lottery funds being channelled to the Olympic Games in London.

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, hosting the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics is a magnificent opportunity for the whole of the United Kingdom. It will invigorate culture, boost tourism and foster regeneration. To minimise the impact on other good causes, new lottery games have been launched and more are planned.

Lord Renton of Mount Harry: My Lords, that is precisely the Answer I expected from the Minister. He is quite right to regard the Olympics as an opportunity and not a threat; clearly that is so. But I hope he will agree that there are a number of what I would call customers—existing customers or future customers—of the lottery who are very worried at the potential diminution in the amount of money that will be available for them. For example, the Heritage Memorial Fund has said that it expects its moneys to fall from about £350 million a year to £230 million a year. Against that background and at this interim period of change in the lottery, could the Minister suggest to his Secretary of State two pieces of advice? First, Ministers should stop interfering in the lottery as much as possible and trying to direct money to their favourite projects for which they have failed to get money from the Treasury; and, secondly, if by chance the Olympics are overspent, that overspend will not be loaded on to the lottery.

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, we certainly do not expect the Olympics to be overspent. The planning and investment that we are putting into the Olympics are to guarantee that the necessary resources are
 
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available. I must emphasise to the House that the Olympics are conceived of as a cultural as well as a sporting event. London outscored Paris because of the emphasis that we put on the cultural legacy from the Olympics and the part that that would play in demonstrating the rich culture and varied inheritance of the British people. Of course I accept what the noble Lord says, but I will not take his first advice to Ministers—about interference in the lottery—because I do not think that it is justified. When changes occur to the proportions distributed from the lottery, those changes are carried through due process and are not interference by Minister in quite the way that the noble Lord indicated. What I will take back to Ministers is the very important point which he makes that we must safeguard funding for culture, heritage and the other good causes.

Lord Sheldon: My Lords, I am very pleased to hear what my noble friend said about culture but is there not a problem with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in that it comprises a bundle and that, because there is not much in common between each of those elements, there is a danger that one of them might take moneys from the other? I am worried that culture may be the loser here. I should like some assurance from him on that.

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, it is often suggested that problems in government occur because of collisions between departments—much reduced, of course, since joined-up government has been such a theme of the Labour Administration. I am sure my noble friend will recognise that getting priorities right is easier within a department which embraces the three concepts that the DCMS does than it would be if there were conflict between departments.

Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, yesterday the Treasury shut the door on the move to a gross profits tax for the lottery and yet some two years ago a PricewaterhouseCoopers report, which was commissioned partly by the Revenue, said that a migration to gross profits tax,

Is not that a very sensible way of mitigating the effect of the Olympic lottery fund and another reason to be very disappointed at the Chancellor's performance yesterday?

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, as I have indicated, we have costed the lottery—its proposals and potential. The noble Lord will recognise that the lottery has recovered very significantly from the decline in sales which occurred a few years ago. It is now very much in a steady state, we are pleased to relate. It is early days for making calculations on improvements, but the Olympic Games, of course, provide the opportunity for new lottery games which are being taken up with considerable enthusiasm and help to spread the message among the whole of the
 
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population. The noble Lord will recognise from that that we have the right to anticipate that the lottery will make gains as the years go by.

Lord Morgan: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that these criticisms are short-termist and misconceived because, as he said, the bid included a very strong cultural and heritage dimension? There will be a cultural Olympiad as well as a sporting Olympiad. In any case, surely culture and heritage will benefit enormously from the £2 billion-plus that will come in. Are not these criticisms wholly out of place?

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, that is true. In addition to my noble friend's important statistic, many billions of people—4 billion people—will watch the opening ceremony. A very large number of people will watch the Olympic Games. A great deal of the games are taking place in iconic buildings which represent our cultural heritage. Sydney ensured that 88 per cent of the people who had visited the city for the Olympic Games went back for a second visit. Why cannot London do at least as well as that? Does not that help to give us cause for optimism in the future in the amount of revenue that will come to all aspects of our heritage to the benefit of the whole country?

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: My Lords, while I am filled with admiration for the leadership given by my noble friend Lord Coe on the Olympics and the Olympics bid, given what the Minister has just described as the benefits, which are a public good and which everyone shares, is it right that so much of it should be funded by a highly regressive form of taxation, which is what the National Lottery is becoming because the Government are reneging on the clear commitment that was given that funds which were raised through the lottery would be additional and not used to fund matters which should be the proper province of the taxpayer?

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, the noble Lord will recognise that the Olympic Games are a unique phenomenon. Of course it was right, given the significant investment necessary before the undoubted returns would occur, that such investment should have strategies attached to it that were different from those normally associated with the Treasury's taxation structure. That is why, surely, it is right that the lottery should play its part, not least because it gives us a chance to alert and awaken the imagination of the British people to what the Olympic Games can achieve for us all.

British Army Uniforms

2.50 pm

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether British Army uniforms are being manufactured in China.

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, some British Army uniforms are being manufactured in China, including
 
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those being successfully supplied under the cut and sewn garments contract awarded to a UK supplier in 2004.

Lord Hoyle: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that interesting reply, because no jobs are being created in Northern Ireland. Are any of those garments being manufactured in Lithuania? If so, what percentage? Are the breatheability and waterproofing to specification?

Baroness Crawley: Yes, my Lords. All items manufactured in China are to specification and meet the required standard. I cannot go into details about breatheability, but I am happy to write to my noble friend on that. Yes, some of our forces' clothing is manufactured in Lithuania through UK suppliers. I cannot give him the percentage. Last time I looked, Northern Ireland was part of the UK, and therefore we are using a UK company. That Fermanagh company will obtain many benefits as a result of its five-year contract.


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