My Department has commissioned research on participation levels and we are undertaking a study of the economic impact of national lottery proceeds on the cultural and sporting sectors.
Does my right hon. Friend accept that although there is widespread public approval for the success of the lottery there is considerable anxiety about its impact on charities and on the competitive position of small shopkeepers who have been denied the right to sell lottery tickets?
Allegations have been made about the lottery's effects on charities; so far, they have been without substance. A recent MORI poll suggested that, of those playing the lottery, 4 per cent. had increased their contribution to charities, whereas 2 per cent. had reduced their contribution. There are many charities. In some years, they are very successful, in others they are less so.
My hon. Friend will be aware that the Home Office is monitoring the impact of the lottery on the charitable sector. Whatever the result, I have no doubt that the £300 million a year that is being made available for the caring charities will far exceed any possible minor effect that the lottery may have had.
The 18,000 retailers who have a lottery outlet have had a great advantage. I know that Camelot is on target to have 40,000 outlets, and it is another way in which the lottery is benefiting not only the retailer but the people who win the prizes and play the games.
Is the Secretary of State aware of the Rowntree Foundation's concern that a disproportionate number of lottery grants are going to the most prosperous parts of the country? Will she address particularly the Rowntree Foundation's recommendation that the matching funding requirement should be relaxed in disadvantaged areas where the problems of raising local funds are the most severe?
All the distribution bodies take a flexible approach to the way in which matching funding is interpreted. I dispute very strongly the hon. Gentleman's allegation with regard to the Rowntree report. Lottery money is going to a wide range of regeneration projects, such as the recent renaissance of Portsmouth harbour, which received £40 million; the Earth centre at Doncaster, which received £50 million; the Welsh highland railway, which received £4 million; the trans-Pennine trail; the millennium forests in Scotland; and the Sustran cycle tracks up and down the country. Regeneration is proving to be a great boost to the country.
The distribution bodies have invested particularly in projects for disabled people. Some £4.5 million was invested in the Jubilee sailing trust and a touring theatre company has received new vans. Many projects have helped the disadvantaged—and that is before the caring charities have begun to make their awards.