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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 February 2008, 11:05 GMT
Tories proposing Lottery reforms
Lottery balls
The Tories say their bill will return power to the communities.
The Tories plan a reform of the National Lottery which they say would end political interference, and ensure an extra 182m a year for good causes.

Since 1998, 3.8bn for the National Lottery's four "good causes" has been diverted to fund government priorities like health and education, they say.

They plan to introduce a bill that will ensure the money goes to the arts, sports, heritage and voluntary sector.

The government denied the Lottery was subject to political interference.

David Cameron says the Tories' proposal will "stop ministers grabbing Lottery cash".

Under the plans, the National Lottery Independence Bill would introduce a gross profits tax regime for the Lottery and cap the administration costs of the bodies which distribute the money.

By funding grassroots initiatives that have nothing to do with politicians the National Lottery puts power into the hands of communities
David Cameron
Conservative leader

The Conservatives claim the additional cash it would deliver could provide 74 swimming pools or 173 athletics tracks a year, or restore funding to all organisations under threat from Arts Council cuts.

Launching the bill, Mr Cameron said: "By funding grassroots initiatives that have nothing to do with politicians the National Lottery puts power into the hands of communities and allows them to transform their quality of life.

"Our National Lottery Independence Bill will end political interference, stop ministers grabbing Lottery cash and potentially generate an extra 182m for the good causes of the arts, sport, heritage and charities."

Shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said Lottery money was being used to pay council staff in some areas, with good causes "really suffering".

He said: "Labour has never understood that the point of Lottery funds is that they should be independent of government.

"These reforms will cut the bloated bureaucracy of Lottery distributors and mean more money is used to back the initiative and enthusiasm of arts, sport, heritage and voluntary organisations - the very groups the Lottery was always meant to support."

Any controls are easily subverted by defining things as "good cause" projects.
Dean Maidenhead
The plans would also involve the renaming of the Big Lottery Fund to the Voluntary Action Lottery Fund to reflect the shift of emphasis in its activities.

But the government said the Tories had over-promised on the lottery and were trying to distract attention "with a host of false accusations."

A spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said: "Ever since John Major set it up, grant decisions have been made at arms length from government. That remains the case.

"It is ridiculous to suggest that we have cut funding to sports, arts and heritage projects - they also receive generous exchequer funding."

Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe said: "Under his [Mr Hunt's] proposals he wants to split the Lottery into four good causes, and each have 25% a piece.

"We're already putting 40% to the voluntary sector. So he's going to cut the voluntary-sector funding."

Jeremy Hunt MP on Tory plans to reform the Lottery

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