Indeed, the hon. Gentleman was extremely eloquent and has made up for any deficit he may allegedly have suffered from on Second Reading. He is also making up for an unfamiliar and unwelcome period of self-denying ordinance in not contributing to our proceedings as much as he could. No doubt that was the result of aftershock, having served so valiantly with the hon. Member for East Dunbartonshire on the Standing Committee that considered the London Olympics Bill.
The hon. Member for Bath was, I think, not quite with us at the beginning of our deliberations this afternoon and missed my points about consultation. I am happy to repeat them, or make slightly different ones, because they are seminal to the argument.
I was certainly not being personal about the current Secretary of State, and Hansard will bear me out when we read it tonight with our candles, night lights and cups of cocoa or Bovril. I was not any sense suggesting that the present Secretary of State would be involved in misappropriation of funds by using them to shore up a lack of Treasury dividends—perish the thought. However, I pointed out that when we legislate in this place, it is incumbent on us to do so regardless not only of who the Minister may be on a given day, but of who the Government may be on a given day. This is the fundamental point about the whole sorry enterprise: we are talking about the people’s money. The lottery is about individuals going out and spending their money in order to win prizes, to enrich themselves and to better their lives—a good Conservative philosophy—and to help out worthy and justifiable causes along the way.
That is what the late Prime Minister, Sir John Major—[Hon. Members: “Late?”] He was on occasion late. He is a certainly a former Prime Minister and a very great man, too. Where was I? In mid-flow, I think. Why did the former and not often late Prime Minister, Sir John Major, set up the national lottery? He set it up because, having been a Treasury Minister and then First Lord of the Treasury, he was acutely aware that the Government would be unwilling or unable to fund in the way that he envisaged charities, sports, the arts and all the other areas that were covered by the original national lottery.
That was the idea. It was a simple philosophy that did not enjoy universal support at the time of its launch. It was much criticised. There was a tremendous and justifiable worry about families going into debt. However, here we are, years later, looking at a situation in which millions of pounds have reinvigorated parts of the country that Government money would not have reached because that would not have been provided for by the Treasury.
Cut to the early days of an incoming Labour Government and what do we have? There was a scratching of heads and people were saying, “Well, Treasury dividends are falling. There are worthy causes that follow our social and political agenda which we would like to fund. How are we going to do that? We are constricted by the 1993 Act and subsequent Acts. There is far too much scrutiny.” It was a brilliant idea to then say, “I know what we’ll do. As phase 1”—this is hypothetical—“we will merge these different funds and create a big lottery fund.”