Lotteries: Good Causes - Question

– in the House of Lords at 11:22 am on 18th July 2019.

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Photo of Lord Addington Lord Addington Liberal Democrat 11:22 am, 18th July 2019

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to ensure that lottery providers who operate on a national basis, other than the National Lottery, spend a minimum of 25 per cent of their profits on the funding of good causes, which are currently funded by the National Lottery.

Photo of Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord Ashton of Hyde The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

My Lords, the Government’s response to the consultation on society lottery reform was published two days ago, on 16 July. As set out in the Gambling Act 2005, all society lotteries must return a minimum of 20% to good causes; the average is 44%. We expect that lotteries will use the administrative costs saved as a result of higher sales limits announced earlier this week to return a higher share to good causes.

Photo of Lord Addington Lord Addington Liberal Democrat

I thank the Minister for his reply. Does he accept that when we speak about lotteries, we speak about “the” National Lottery? Indeed, in a Statement on Tuesday, he repeatedly referred to its “unique position”. We have two synthetic national lotteries operating and funding from the National Lottery has guaranteed long-term support which has turned us from a third-rate sporting nation to a first-rate one. Can the players in this field guarantee this long-term support? If they are not prepared to do this, can they be restricted to operating as the other society lotteries do?

Photo of Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord Ashton of Hyde The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

The noble Lord is right: we stressed in the reforms that we would preserve the unique status of the National Lottery. That is why we did not raise the annual sales limit by as much as was suggested in the consultation, and by as much as some of the larger society lotteries wanted. We said that the Gambling Commission would take specific evidence and look at the evidence for raising the annual sales limit to £50 million to make sure that it did not impact on the National Lottery. As far as sport is concerned, the Gambling Commission has found no evidence that society lotteries have impacted on the National Lottery in any way. Indeed, they are complementary; in both sectors, lotteries have increased in recent years. I know that sport is of interest to the noble Lord, but there is no reason to think that funding for sport will reduce. Indeed, for next year’s Olympics the amount of money has been underwritten by the Treasury.

Photo of Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Opposition Whip (Lords)

The outside world will have noticed the very generous welcome given by the whole House, but particularly by the other side, to my noble friend Lady Hayter when she entered this morning.

Noble Lords:

Hear, hear.

Photo of Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Opposition Whip (Lords)

It is perhaps a bit forward of me, but I am sure she would never do it herself, and I should like to thank the House for its generosity on this occasion. With changes around on both sides of House and imminent adjustments to the order of things, I risk congratulating my opposition spokesman, who has today celebrated three years in his position in that department. I hope it will last.

May I take it from the recent Statement referred to by the Minister that the Government accept that there is space within lottery activity in this country for both the National Lottery dealing with national causes and society lotteries? The figures he quoted for the percentage going to good causes are good but concerns remain—alluded to, I think, in the Statement—about the transparency of the payments of some society lotteries and the payments they make to individuals.

Photo of Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord Ashton of Hyde The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

First, I am very grateful to the noble Lord. I assure him that nobody is more amazed than I am that I have survived for three years. Moving on to society lotteries, it is right that we did what we did. We agree that there is cause to look at transparency, particularly in what society lotteries do with the money they raise and the good causes. They should be clear about that and their expenses. That is why the Gambling Commission is specifically looking at that and consulting on what increased requirements should be in place, particularly if we move from a £50 million annual sales limit to a £100 million annual sales limit, which we have not said we will do. We are taking evidence on that and on whether the very few large society lotteries that the annual sale limit applies to should have increased transparency requirements.

Photo of The Bishop of St Albans The Bishop of St Albans Bishop

My Lords, research shows that not all lotteries that operate on a national scale make it clear that they are neither charities nor not-for-profit organisations. People often do not realise that. Does the Minister agree that making it mandatory to declare on each ticket the minimum percentage of each pound spent on charity, for both draw-based and instant-win games, would ensure that users really understand just where their money is going?

Photo of Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord Ashton of Hyde The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

There is of course already a difference between the National Lottery and society lotteries on that. The National Lottery has no minimum amount going to good causes and no limits. As a result, over the 25 years it has been in existence, it has had an average return of 25% and £40 billion has gone to good causes. Society lotteries already have a statutory minimum limit. They have to give 20% to good causes. The average is 44%, so the system is working well. On increased transparency, suggested by the right reverend Prelate, the Gambling Commission is looking at increased transparency requirements for society lotteries and will be consulting on that.

Photo of The Earl of Clancarty The Earl of Clancarty Crossbench

My Lords, I wonder whether more can be done to publicise the good causes that the National Lottery funds. I am thinking in particular of telling the public at points of sale what has been done at local and regional level.

Photo of Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord Ashton of Hyde The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

I am sure that more could be done. I will certainly take that suggestion away. The interesting statistic is that 55% of people who buy society lottery tickets are motivated by supporting a specific charity. On the National Lottery, however, only 15% buy a ticket to support good causes; people want to win large jackpots and life-changing amounts of money.

Photo of Lord Hamilton of Epsom Lord Hamilton of Epsom Conservative

As we are discussing good causes, perhaps we could return to the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter. We bitterly regret her removal from the Front Bench. She and I have had great disagreements over Europe, but we very much regret the fact that she will no longer represent her party on this issue.