LETTER: The Lottery: happiness, public involvement and His opinion

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From Ms Elizabeth Kendall

and Mr James McCormick

Sir: The public and media frenzy surrounding the National Lottery proceeds unabated. Winners of the largest lottery prizes have found themselves subjected to intense media scrutiny. Politicians on all sides have conceded that some of the Lottery's excessive prizes may need to be reassessed. In addition, both the chief executive of the Charities Board and the chairman of the Heritage Lottery Fund have admitted that a reassessment of how the proceeds are distributed may be needed.

However, no one is yet arguing that the public should have a greater say in how the Lottery is run. It is not enough for politicians to berate the excesses of roll-over prizes. The public should have an input into not just how much money is paid to each Board, but how much of the proceeds should be taken as profit by Camelot, and indeed over who should hold the franchise.

Why is the public apparently not to be trusted with its own money? A snap-shot measure of public opinion (such as a tear-off slip on each ticket, where Lottery players could vote on their preferred "good cause of the week") may well lead to a different set of priorities from those decided by the appointed chairmen of the Lottery Boards. In addition, polling evidence from Mori points to a public preference for charities: on average, 32p in the pound should go to them, rather than the even split of 20p for each of the five Lottery Boards.

One cost-effective means of enabling the public to have a greater voice would be to hold a citizens' jury on the National Lottery. Citizens' juries are groups of ordinary people, selected at random to represent the general public rather than a particular interest. They could meet for a week to deliberate the issues, with jurors having the power to take evidence and cross-examine witnesses. Juries could take place on a regional or national basis, funded by an ear-marked share of Lottery profits.

However we use the Lottery money, it should not be simply a game of chance, whose rules are decided by unelected and unaccountable committees.

Yours sincerely,

ELIZABETH KENDALL

JAMES MCCORMICK

Institute for Public

Policy Research

London, WC2

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