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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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,
"would benefit the Good Causes to the tune of £50 million additional revenue a year".
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?
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 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.
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?
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?
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?
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.