National Lottery

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:59 am on 6th March 1992.

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Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley 10:59 am, 6th March 1992

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a statement about the Government's plans, set out in a White Paper being published today, to introduce a national lottery for good causes.

As hon. Members will know, we have been considering for some time the merits of a national lottery. It raises a number of complex practical issues, but the potential benefits are substantial. In the past in our own country, a lottery funded the foundation of the British museum. More recently, in Canada a lottery also helped to fund the Olympic games. A lottery helped to fund the building of the Sydney opera house.

Many other countries have long been using the proceeds of national lotteries to fund a wide range of projects which improve the quality of life of their people. Every other country in western Europe has a national lottery. In the years ahead it will become increasingly difficult in practice to prevent their lottery tickets from being sold in this country. Without a national lottery of our own, other countries rather than our own will benefit.

In the light of all these considerations, and bearing in mind the opportunities it will give us to raise substantial sums for the public benefit, the Government have decided to introduce a national lottery to be promoted throughout the United Kingdom.

We propose that the national lottery proceeds should be used to support projects of lasting benefit to the nation. The good causes to be funded will be sports, arts, our heritage and charities. This means that sporting facilities could be further improved and new ones provided; a whole range of additional facilities for young people could be developed; our historic buildings, houses, museums, galleries and cathedrals could be restored and worthwhile new buildings constructed; art treasures could be purchased for our national collections; and a wide range of other charities could be supported.

A national lottery could be operating by 1994, but it will take some time to become fully established. Once fully developed, it could raise up to £1 billion a year for good causes. I must emphasise that this will be additional funding. The Government do not intend that the money provided from the lottery should substitute for existing expenditure programmes. Nor do we believe that lottery proceeds should go to the main areas of public expenditure, such as the national health service. These services are of fundamental importance to the community and must continue to be funded by the Exchequer in the normal way.

We have concluded that a single national lottery is the best way forward. This would allow major prizes to be offered and it would maximise the potential funds which could be raised for good causes, while minimising the risk of fraud or mismanagement.

The White Paper sets out the broad framework for the operation of the national lottery. There will be an independent national lottery board whose task will be to distribute the proceeds of the lottery. The day-to-day operation and management of the lottery will be undertaken by the private sector under contract and subject to strict regulation.

Today's White Paper sets out a number of practical issues, and on some of them we want to consult interested parties. We are aware of the concerns of the football pools companies and others. We intend to discuss their concerns with them, and to assess the possible effect of a national lottery on their activities. In the light of these discussions we shall consider whether there is a case for any changes in the controls under which they operate at present.

Charities will be among the beneficiaries of the lottery. But we still need to consider how best to protect their interests, both in the allocation of the proceeds and the effect on their income from existing small lotteries. We would welcome the views of all charitable organisations on both these points.

A national lottery will be a popular development of great significance. It provides a unique opportunity to improve in a lasting way the quality of our national life. I look forward to its early introduction.