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Clause 7 - National Lottery Distribution Fund: apportionment

Part of National Lottery Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:30 am on 25th October 2005.

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Photo of Hugo Swire Hugo Swire Chair, Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art, Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport 11:30 am, 25th October 2005

I entirely share the Minister's sentiments about the continuing popularity of the lottery being a remarkable achievement, not least because I believe that the Government's tax take makes it the most overtaxed lottery in the world. However, call me a cynic, but I disagree with him about the reasons why people play the lottery. I do not believe that the majority of people go into their corner shop on a Wednesday or a Saturday with altruistic thoughts of helping out some fund or other; I think that they play the lottery because they want to win £6 million. That is certainly why I play it. [Interruption.] Well, yes, I am mercenary. When I am on a ministerial salary, in the next year or two, I will be able to take a more elevated view of such matters. Unfortunately, that moment has been delayed by the electorate, who were consulted in their numbers on which Government they wanted—although that was not the case with the Bill and the division of funds.

The Minister cannot have it both ways. Even his own Back Benchers do not agree with him. The hon. Member for Glasgow, South drew attention the adverse effect on lottery sales and the lottery's reputation of the stories that the Daily Mail reported. That is why I suggested that we include a reputational impact clause, which would deal with that. However, to return to the core of the argument, the stories about fattening guinea pigs—or whatever else it may have been—are no reason to give draconian prescriptive powers to the Secretary of State. That just does not add up and neither does the Minister praying in aid the rather spurious consultations he has carried out with 800 people.