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Part of National Lottery Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 3rd November 2005.

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Photo of Richard Caborn Richard Caborn Minister of State (Sport), Department for Culture, Media & Sport 2:00 pm, 3rd November 2005

It would not be a bad idea to have the reputation of the national lottery written into every hon. Member’s terms of reference. That might curtail some of the more extreme and sometimes misleading statements that have been made about the lottery. The hon. Member for East Dunbartonshire made a very good case as to why we should not support proposed new clause 2. I wish to be clear about inappropriate grants; the distributors can simply decide not to make a grant, and that is wholly for them to decide. They have the powers to do that, and that is not affected in any way, nor would it be affected by the proposed new clause.

The purpose of proposed new clause 2 is to require lottery distributors to have regard to their own reputation and that of the national lottery when making grants. None of us wishes to see the reputation of the national lottery or distributors adversely affected. We all agree that it is important that the national lottery’s reputation be maintained. Lottery distributors will want to ensure that their reputations are maintained, too.

It is because we want to maintain the national lottery’s reputation that we are making considerable efforts, not least through provisions in the Bill, to enable the public to know more about what lottery good causes are achieving. The hon. Member for East Dunbartonshire (Jo Swinson) indicated that, through people’s millions, we shall engage people in ways in which we have probably not done before. We hope that that will give the lottery credibility.

The proposed new clause is an attempt to prevent lottery distributors giving grants that the media might deem controversial. What could be considered controversial?I suspect that the hon. Member for East Devon is thinking of a grant that the former Community Fund made a few years ago, to which the hon. Lady also referred. It is important to remember   that, since 1995, only around 1.6 per cent. of the money that has been awarded to the Big Lottery Fund and its predecessors—the Community Fund and the New Opportunities Fund—has gone to projects to help asylum seekers and/or refugees.

Ambulance services, mountain rescue groups, and rescue groups for missing and injured people have been awarded £1.8 million of lottery money. The Big Lottery Fund has given grants of £4.1 million to the Samaritans in the UK. The hon. Lady gave figures for the amount of money that has gone to disabled people that were a factor of 10 greater than that that has gone to asylum seekers. If one had believed the perceptions of the press from stories that they had printed, lottery distributors would not have given that type of indication and definition. The media totally distorted the figures.