Letter: Counting the cost of the lottery

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Sir: The National Lottery Bill has been rapturously received. Opposition has been dismissed as 'churlish' and, where it has been covered, has largely centred on the effect on the football pools industry ('A flutter for the nation', 18 December).

Naturally, those of us who represent cities where the pools industry is based are alarmed about the effect on jobs. With 6,500 employees nationally (4,700 on Merseyside) and nearly 80,000 part-

time collectors, we are surely not churlish to wish to protect them.

Yet, this is not our only concern. Charities big and small are aware of the potential downside. The worst case scenario presented by the National Council of Voluntary Organisations suggests a loss to charitable income of pounds 428m. If this proved to be the case, on the basis of the proposed disbursement of the proceeds, the lottery would need to gross pounds 6bn a year in order to ensure no loss to the charities it purports to help. We do not accept that the lottery income will be 'new' money. It is bound to detract from other fund- raising schemes.

Finally, we ask whether it is ethical to fund government schemes through a lottery. Evidence suggests that C2 and D/E social classes will disproportionately support the lottery, although the A/B social groups use sports facilities at a rate one-third above average and cultural facilities at twice the average. We would describe the suggestion that such ventures be funded in this way as a form of regressive taxation.

We would urge those many individuals and organisations we know to be concerned to forcibly make the case against what is far more than a harmless flutter. Has our national political life become so debased that we are to accept income from any source, regardless of cost?

Yours sincerely,


MP for Liverpool Walton (Lab)


MP for Liverpool Broad Green


House of Commons

London, SW1

18 December