RAIDS ON THE LOTTERY – 1 June 1998

Dr Julian Lewis: I should like to add to my considerable reputation for parliamentary eccentricity by saying that I was always doubtful about the whole concept of the lottery. I felt that it would damage existing charities and drain from them funds that would otherwise go directly to them. My outlook was probably soured by the brilliance of George Orwell's description in "Nineteen Eighty-Four" of the effects of a lottery in a totalitarian society. He said:

"The Lottery, with its weekly pay-out of enormous prizes, was the one public event to which the proles paid serious attention. It was probable that there were some millions of proles for whom the Lottery was the principal if not the only reason for remaining alive. It was their delight, their folly, their anodyne and their intellectual stimulant."

I thought that with such a start, the lottery could only be a somewhat corrupting force in society. The Bill shows that it is also corrupting the Government. Effectively, the Bill is the second stage in the Government's attempt to make good their promise to try to keep their spending and tax-raising targets at Conservative levels. The first stage of that attempt was the raid on the pension funds and the second stage – 

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Michael J. Martin): Order. We are debating the new clause and the amendments. We are not worried about possible inequities of the lottery. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman could hang his jacket on that peg.

 

Dr Lewis: The amendments seek to ring-fence the amount that will be available for good causes. Good causes were nominated to enable money that formerly went to charities to continue to be spent on such activities. There is an attempt to get away from the safeguards that were provided for the lottery. That is part of a general, corrupting strategy to enable the Government to get their hands on money that, had the lottery not been created, would have gone to charity. That charitable money will be used for Government expenditure. I predict that this is not the last time that such an unethical sleight of hand will be employed.