Labour urges £5m lottery limit

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The Independent Online
The Labour Party yesterday joined mounting criticism of the massive jackpot prizes being offered in the National Lottery.

Chris Smith, the party's national heritage spokesman, said in an interview with BBC radio that he wanted the first prize won by an individual to be limited to £5m. He had no quarrel with the weekend's result, which saw 133 people share a jackpot of £16.2m but felt it was wrong for a single person to win such an amount.

"You should have a ceiling on the amount that any one winner can actually win, around about the £5m mark. So it's still a very substantial amount of money. If you put a ceiling on the top prize then any addition within the jackpot can be spread amongst the runners-up," he said.

Mr Smith's concern follows strong criticism from leaders of the Church of England. The House of Bishops issued a statement last Thursday condemning the lottery as "a form of nationally-sponsored gambling designed to encourage false hope and over-indulgence". The bishops' attack followed calls for restraint over the lottery by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, at Christmas.

A spokesman for Camelot, organisers of the National Lottery, said the fact that no winning line had been selected the previous week and that 133 people had chosen correctly on Saturday demonstrated the "random nature" of the draw.

"We are totally at the mercy of the numbers drawn. The numbers chosen this weekend were widespread." Charities were the big winners of last week's lottery, with ticket sales up 21 per cent on the previous week to total a record £69.8m and raise more than£18m for good causes. Because of the large number of players tempted by the prospect of a massive jackpot - it was forecast at more than £19m - there were more than two million winners, another record.

A total of 246 people each won £7,872 by matching five numbers plus the bonus number and more than 6,000 enjoyed a £181 share of the £1,205,460 third prize. There were almost 166,000 people who won £16 and nearly two million who won £10. The winning numbers were 23, 38, 17, 7, 32 and 42. The bonus number was 48.

Leading article, page 13

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