`Luckiest' MPs whose seats scoop the lottery millions

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The Independent Online
THE former Tory minister, Peter Brooke, has been officially declared the "luckiest" MP in Britain, because his constituency in the heart of London has won first place in the race for funds from the National Lottery.

London seats scooped the pool of the lottery funds, and a House of Commons library report shows the Tory seat of the Cities of London and Westminster took first place in the rankings, with pounds 346m. The pounds 78m awarded to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in Mr Brooke's seat boosted its funds, as did pounds 50m for the new Tate Gallery building at Bankside.

Other London seats did well because of the predominance of arts and heritage funding projects in the capital. Holborn and St Pancras, the seat of Frank Dobson, the Secretary of State for Health, came second with pounds 133m in grants partly because it includes the British Museum (pounds 15m) and the Countryside Commission (pounds 10m).

The big awards for arts, millennium and heritage projects for seats in the centre of London could work against some of the smaller groups, according to one source. "Smaller arts groups may be in danger of being overlooked because of the large sums going into this constituency," the source said.

The survey of all 659 seats is being eagerly studied by MPs. "The MPs are very keen to see how they are doing. It's the equivalent of a best-seller," an official said.

The free guide lists the other top 10 as: 3. Birmingham Ladywood (Clare Short, overseas development minister) pounds 104m; 4. Manchester Central (Tony Lloyd, foreign minister) pounds 103m; 5 Liverpool Riverside (Louise Ellman, Labour) pounds 66m; 6 Belfast South (Martin Smyth UUP) pounds 59m; 7=. Sheffield Central (Dick Caborn, minister for the regions) pounds 58m and Kensington and Chelsea (Alan Clark, Tory) pounds 58m; 9. Islington South and Finsbury (Chris Smith, Secretary of State for Culture) pounds 56m; 10. Portsmouth South (Mike Hancock, Liberal Democrat) pounds 55m.