Clause 3 - Gambling

Part of Gambling Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 9th November 2004.

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Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Conservative, Surrey Heath 3:45 pm, 9th November 2004

I want to raise a couple of issues and make a couple of comments. I was interested in what the Minister said about people who might defraud the national lottery. I entirely understand what he is getting at, but the thought immediately came to mind that that is a bit rich coming from a Government who in opposition said during the passage of the National Lottery etc. Bill that lottery money should never be used for purposes that should really be funded by the taxpayer. Since they have been in government, they have hijacked a large proportion of what should have gone to good causes and directed it to purposes connected with health and education—which should be taxpayer funded. The biggest defrauding of the national lottery has been carried out by the Government.

Nevertheless, I know that that is not what the Minister is aiming at in the provisions that we are considering. I am surprised to hear him say that he does not remember the case to which my hon. Friend the Member for Bromsgrove (Miss Kirkbride) referred. I accept his word that he does not, and I do not expect him to be able to answer off the top of his head, but I am surprised, because it received huge publicity not only at the time but regularly ever afterwards. The person concerned has wasted all his money and been involved in breaches of the law following his release from the institution, which has received further coverage.

When I was a Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Department of National Heritage before 1997, Ministers were provided with a news cutting service, so that every story that related to the Department's work—particularly something as potentially controversial as lottery winners—was automatically given to Ministers. Perhaps only the Secretary of State sees those things now, or perhaps it is only the Under-Secretary in the House of Lords.

I echo what my hon. Friend the Member for Bromsgrove said; I think that it sticks in the craw of law-abiding people, who pay their pound, their standing order of £16 or whatever to compete in the lottery for a week or eight weeks at a time, when large wins are handed over to criminals. That undermines the purpose of the lottery. The Minister says that the Bill is not the right provision in which to do something about that, and that any changes should be made by amending national lottery legislation, but the fact remains that the Bill deals with aspects of the national lottery.