Camelot's numbers come under scrutiny

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THE lottery operator Camelot's books are to come under scrutiny from the Government's spending watchdog, it was announced yesterday. The National Audit Office will be given access to the company's records to ensure the right amount of money is being paid to good causes.

The move was hailed as a step towards "greater transparency and stronger parliamentary accountability" over the lottery.

The Tory MP David Davis, chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts, said yesterday: "People play the lottery voluntarily but this does not detract from the need to ensure that it is well regulated and that the money collected is properly accounted for.

"This will be possible now that Parliament's auditors will have access to Camelot's records relating to the financial control of lottery activities. Today's announcement is extremely good news both for people who take part in the lottery and the good causes that benefit."

Mr Davis said the need for greater access to Camelot's accounts had been flagged up by the NAO in 1996 when auditors warned that they were unable to check whether the right amount of money had been paid into the National Lottery Distribution Fund.

Although payments are monitored by the regulator Oflot, the NAO said Oflot had not carried out 11 of 21 checks designed to ensure the licence was being stuck to, prompting calls for greater accountability.

The changes are to be incorporated into the National Lottery Bill. Camelot - which is a private company - said that although it had no objection to the National Audit Office having access to its accounts, the change meant altering a contract drawn up at the start of the licence term.

Joanna Manning-Cooper, for Camelot, said: "We have nothing to hide so it's not a problem for us, but it's another unilateral change to our licence half-way through the contract. We're already one of the most audited organisations in the country."