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Clause 7 - National Lottery Distribution Fund: apportionment

Part of National Lottery Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:45 am on 25th October 2005.

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Photo of Tom Harris Tom Harris Labour, Glasgow South 10:45 am, 25th October 2005

I understand the arguments made by the hon. Members for East Dunbartonshire (Jo Swinson) and for East Devon, but there is an issue of public confidence that has not been addressed. It is addressed by clause 7.

The national lottery is not as popular as it was when it was launched, although no one expected the high demand for tickets in November 1994 to be maintained. Part of the drop in support stems from bad publicity—sometimes exaggerated—that has highlighted some of the so-called good causes which the public do not believe are good causes. An obvious example is the large amount of money given to the Churchill family to release papers that by any estimation should have been the property of the country in the first place, but which the public purse, or the national lottery, had to pay for to bring into public ownership.

There have been other cases. I remember a scheme to support failed asylum seekers, funded through the national lottery, that got a lot of criticism. In my constituency I have a number of failed asylum seekers who do not benefit from any state support. I am sure that that is so in the constituencies of many Committee Members. I do not make any judgment about whether organisations that fight for the rights of failed asylum seekers should have state money or national lottery money, but the issue is controversial. That particular scheme did not have the support of the public.

If we are to engage the public again in support of the national lottery, they must have confidence that the so-called good causes will be prescribed and set out by the Government.