LETTER: National Lottery is a success

Sir: Your leader (11 April) about the National Lottery raises important issues about regulation and distribution of money to good causes.

Parliament decided on the distribution of money to good causes. Already the distributing bodies have made over 5,500 awards to projects the length and breadth of the country. As the number of awards increase, I will continue to keep under review the rules which allow the benefits of the National Lottery to be felt by people in every community.

I have already made changes to the rules on distribution. On 1 April I announced that lottery money could be used, for the first time, on developing the talents and potential of people such as talented athletes and sports people and individual performers and young artists.

The UK lottery is one of the most effectively regulated lotteries in the world. Parliament is the ultimate regulator. The National Audit Office, the Public Accounts Committee and the National Heritage Select Committee have all scrutinised various aspects of the organisation, regulation and distribution of lottery funds. It is wrong to say that there has been little or no monitoring or research on the National Lottery. Oflot has conducted research using four different organisations over the last ten months.

Government research shows that the average household spent pounds 2.10 per week after prizes in the first year of the lottery. This compares with an average weekly spend of over pounds 5 on cigarettes and over pounds 12 on alcohol.

This does not suggest excessive participation. But there will be further research, and I will continue to monitor the results of that work, taking appropriate action if it is justified.

In an extremely short period of time, the National Lottery has become the most dynamic national institution in Britain. It is the most successful of its kind in the world. It devotes one of the highest proportions of proceeds to good causes, and one of the lowest to running costs. I intend to ensure that it remains a success.

Virginia Bottomley

Secretary of State for

National Heritage

Department of

National Heritage

London SW1