National Lottery Bill, 1986: Second Stage (Resumed).

Wednesday, 25 June 1986

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 368 No. 6

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Question again proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”

Mr. Skelly: Information on Liam Skelly  Zoom on Liam Skelly  I want to conclude my contribution by making some references to the Bill before the House. Under the terms and conditions for the licensee company the Minister can set the licences. There are a few points to which I would like to draw the Minister's attention especially in relation to the legislation he is setting up. A company such as An Post can decide to license a number of outlets which seems to be the proposal. The instant game will have scratch off tickets similar to the promotional games run by petrol companies. These will be an sale through a national network of sales agents which will not be limited to post offices but will include newsagents, tobacconists, food stores, grocery stores and supermarkets. The agents will work on a sales commission.

This means they will also be available [1349] through post offices. If, in this case, An Post operated as a monopoly, the small outlet should get the same advantages. The commission payable to these outlets may be based on the amount of sales. If any company set up in this situation — we are probably talking about An Post — are to award a commission on the basis of sales, it must apply on an equal footing to the outlets. Therefore, An Post could get around the compensation system by restricting the amount of sales to individual outlets. For example, they would only be allowed a certain amount to sell. There could be a volume rebate or a sliding commission scale. For example, they could decide if they sold x thousand tickets they would get a premium, rebate or discount of 12 per cent. If they sold less than that, they might only get 10 per cent. An Post could lump all their outlets together and get a bigger commission. In that way it would be a disadvantage. It is important that we have equity throughout the system. As the Minister holds the controls, he should be able to ensure that he does that.

Under section 6, it is important that there be an ongoing outside audit for the draw procedure to allay any public fears. There is mention in the Minister's speech of employees being unable to purchase tickets. Section 6 has to do with the independent scrutiny of the national lottery. It is vital that the sales and various other outlets be properly monitored. There is provision in the Bill to ensure that employees cannot purchase tickets. That seems to me to be somewhat silly. If it is properly run, with no possibility of any leakage of information, then employees or anybody else should not have to worry. ‘Perhaps it is somewhat superfluous, being associated with the old idea of insuring the public in the case of lotteries, but this will be a more sophisticated type.

It will be important that the Minister retain sufficient power so that he can incorporate in the terms and conditions of the licence contingencies that may arise in the future which might warrant a tightening of its operations. Because of the large amounts of money with which we will be dealing it will be important [1350] that the board take decisions and that all expenses above a certain level, likewise, be approved by the board of directors. That is a precaution which warrants no explanation. The same would apply in the awarding of contracts. Because of the promotional aspects of the lottery, its wide-ranging activities — different types of promotions and businesses, suppliers and the goods to be supplied — it is important that the maximum amount of jobs be created.

I read somewhere that perhaps one is talking about 80 jobs. This is certainly an area in which jobs could be created for people otherwise difficult to employ. For example, a large number of widows were employed by the sweepstakes. If we utilise technology of too high a standard in the operations of this lottery we could do away with much employment. On the other hand, much employment could be created by a more manual operation. I think the operations of the sweepstakes are almost totally manual. It is my understanding that the pools in Liverpool are similar, and they employ huge numbers of people. From my research it appears that that board in Britain give consideration annually to computerisation. Yet they do not do so, I think, because the Government in Britain do not run a lottery in opposition to those pools so long as they continue to maintain the same numbers in employment. Probably that is the reason they do not have a national lottery in Britain.

I do not know the extent to which employment could be created in the operations of this national lottery. For example, if we were to have a semi-automatic or manual checking system — if at the end of the day it is Government policy to subsidise sporting and recreational activities, the building of community centres, arts and culture — this would have a high labour content especially amongst groups of people not easily employable. That factor should be borne in mind before finalising the details of the operation.

As against what Deputy O'Kennedy had to say, there is another reason certain controls and regulations should reside [1351] with the Minister and the board, so that they can report to the Minister and he can effect improvements. When dealing with such huge amounts of money, in the area of contracts, it is important that the management of the company should reflect Government policy of the day in job creation. I am thinking of something along the lines of the IDA, somebody that would advise on the best method of creating jobs, advise the board on the selection of contractors or suppliers so that the maximum potential would be exploited.

While accepting that An Post have undertaken a huge amount of research, as did the other companies who advanced proposals we should remember that they have had no previous experience of running a lottery. Likewise, we should remember that the Minister is responsible to this House, that ultimately the buck stops with him. In the drafting of the provisions of the Bill the Minister has been given the requisite tools to ensure that it is run properly.

The opportunities to be created out of the revenue yield will fall to be implemented by the Government or the company concerned. Therefore, it is essential that the Minister or the Government maintain this control, even if at arms length. In this case — because a semi-State company have been awarded the first contract — one is inclined to assume that the Government will benefit when that need not necessarily be the case. Certain things are ruled out because of the way in which the Bill has been drafted. I might make some suggestions to the Minister before Committee Stage. All contracts associated with this lottery should have a substantial Irish content, so that if the legislation does not so specify An Post will, at their own discretion, take major decisions about suppliers without necessarily considering such things as job creation.

The Government's interest and those of An Post are not identical. That is not said by way of criticism of An Post. Without fail new lottery legislation has a rippling effect on other Acts already in [1352] existence. I am talking about such activities as horseracing, football, pools, slot machines, sweepstakes, contests and so on, all of which inevitably are affected by a lottery law. The result can be unfortunate consequences for the lottery itself and sometimes for the Government when troublesome and time consuming amendments must be drafted and passed. It has already been inferred that the impact on charitable lotteries and bingos can be substantial and immediate.

In addition to definition problems already mentioned there are other problems that must be addressed in relation to this type of legislation, such as the payment of winnings. For example, are winnings to be paid out as an annuity or a lump sum? There are other questions regarding the tax status of winnings, trust accounts for prize funds, the timing and methodology of profit transfers to the Government, the spending of profits, the closed prize fund system, meaning that once money has been allocated to a prize account it must be paid out in prizes; the period in which a prize is claimed, the methodology determining winners, interest on prize money and the revenue that accrues either to An Post or the Government; the period in which claims can be made and prizes that are not won. The last point reminds me that it is very difficult to get information from insurance companies on claims which are not made when people die because their relatives do not know that they had insurance policies.

There is nothing in the Bill about potential for joint ventures. If we were not generating enough revenue and running into a loss making position, we might want to consider a joint venture with a foreign pool like Littlewoods. Such a joint venture might salvage the project. A whole host of issues must be considered.

Section 30 allows the Minister to give directions to the company. That is an essential requirement to guarantee its success. I could suggest a lot of added detail. Section 7 refers to the sale of national lottery tickets. It deals with the [1353] employees and it seems to be just plain silly. It certainly does not give a vote of confidence to the company selected to run the lottery. It is certainly an honourable clause but it is totally impractical. We are really saying that people who work in the organisation could tamper with the system. I cannot see any other reason for the clause, but if that were a problem we would have to reconsider the position. Perhaps the Minister could tell me whether the proceeds payable from the lottery are tax exempt. I should also like to know whether under the terms of this legislation it would be possible for video games to be legalised if we had already banned them nationally. I hope that point will be considered.

The Minister approves the members of the board and has the right to appoint a scrutineer to make direct recommendations to him. I suggest that this appointment should be made from the very beginning and that the scrutineer should report back to the Minister even at this early stage. The Minister would be in a stronger position from the start. He would have another source of information in relation to this project. I referred earlier to the running of a different lottery which gave rise to a lot of dissatisfaction. If this lottery were set up properly at the beginning there would be less criticism of it.

I do not want to delay the House any further but I reiterate the reservations I have about lotteries. If this project comes about, as seems likely, even though the main Opposition party are against it, it should be set up properly and given the best possible chance to operate. I should like the Minister to consider the points I made at the beginning of my speech. I am sorry that I had to speak so long but I wanted to stress the moral implications of setting up such a lottery in this State. It would not be going too far to say that the Government are now participating in a massive financial con job on the population, without meaning to do so. That is what the net effect will be and it would be wrong of me not to make that point in blunt language. We are carrying out something against our own people. If [1354] a colonial power did it, there would be an outcry. The bookies are in the same position as a lottery owner and the Government are now stepping into a similar type of position. If they decide to go ahead regardless, as usually happens here, I hope they will take all possible precautions and provide jobs, since that is our biggest need. If it is too much of a burden on the poorer sections I hope the lottery operators will desist and get away from that area.

I do not doubt the intentions of the Government and I can rattle off the social legislation that has been introduced in the past couple of years and the attempts we have made to aid the disadvantaged and the less well off. There were different types of Bills, ranging from that dealing with the Combat Poverty Agency to the three Children Bills as well as the Bill legalising the sale of contraceptives and the proposed amendment on divorce. All these measures were taken with the intention of improving the lot of the people. I would ask the Minister to make a simply statement to the effect that if the things I am forecasting come to pass then the Government will without hesitation pull out of it. It is too late now but if I had been around at the time I would have called for an investigation by the DPP into the operation of the sweep. I hope that the points that concern those who do not approve of or suspect this form of taking easy money will be dealt with and that the loophole will be closed off.

I regret that the Government are about to train young people to gamble. It is ridiculous to say that tickets will not be sold to those under 18 years when they may get them as presents. When those children get accustomed to the lottery they will follow on to the bookies offices and the gaming machines. We will have to deal with a big problem brought about by the Government, and we will get precious little out of the lottery. We may get a spanking new hall or a national sports centre fairly quickly but such centres will come anyhow. We should bear in mind that taking money in this way is like taking candy from children. The Government [1355] should consider the problems that result from the expenditure of £1,200 million on alcohol. Tax from that source represents 12 per cent of the national income. The lethal mix of drinking and gambling that will come about makes it difficult for anybody to speculate on the damage that will be done to society as a result of drinking and gambling to excess.

Parents will discuss the lottery at the kitchen table and children will ask them if they have bought tickets in the lottery. That will encourage them to buy tickets. It is bad enough for the Government to be promoting Bord na gCon and greyhound racing, which amounts to pure gambling, without getting involved in this area. The Government refused my request to introduce a law to undo the damage that will result from the emergency legislation introduced in November to increase the stakes and the prize money in gaming machines. They refused to ban those machines and now are encouraging gambling.

I regret having to contribute on this Bill but I have been waiting for two years to try to get the Government to change their minds. The Government are lending gambling a cloak of respectability and millions of people who were never interested in gambling will be encouraged to get involved. The lottery will not survive without aggressive promotion and that will come with the blessing of the Government. It will create untold problems. The Bill, as drafted, appears to be a good piece of legislation and I will be making a number of suggestions in regard to its provisions on Committee Stage. Anything I have said in regard to lotteries, and gambling is not meant to cast any reflection on those responsible for preparing the legislation. Their intentions were the best.

Mr. F. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  I should like to welcome the principle contained in the Bill to set up a national lottery. Most people accept that there is room for such a lottery and that it will generate a lot of revenue. The Bill is a big disappointment in that its provisions run contrary to the original [1356] intention for a national lottery. A national lottery was first mooted by the Department of Education and various Ministers with responsibility for sport carried out investigations into the possibility of running such a lottery for the purpose of generating extra revenue for the development of sport.

All sides of the House welcomed the announcement by the former Minister of State with responsibility for sport, Deputy Creed, to run a national lottery and to devote the proceeds to the promotion of sport. As spokesman for sport for Fianna Fáil, I must express my disappointment that the lottery will be a mechanism for the collection of revenue to be lodged in the State revenue system with the proviso that it will be distributed, according to the Minister, to benefit the community in a number of ways without the need for recourse to taxation or other compulsory revenue-raising measures. I find it objectionable that the proceeds of the lottery, instead of going to sport, will, according to the Minister, be applied to a variety of purposes including sport, health care, the arts and cultural activities. The Government should not have changed the original intention. It appears that the proceeds of the lottery will be used to replace Exchequer expenditure. The Minister of State also told us that the proceeds will be spent on sport and recreational facilities, national culture, including the Irish language, the arts and health. The word “health” is of great significance. Will the proceeds be used to finance a subhead at present financed by the Exchequer? Will we be financing such things as the CAT-scanner at Galway Regional Hospital? Will the proceeds be used in other areas that are being financed by the Department of Health? That appears to be the intention and it does not bear any resemblance to what Deputy Creed outlined when proposing a national lottery.

The Government's document, Building on Reality, stated that the proceeds of the lottery would go to the promotion of sport and the change now proposed by the Government is totally unacceptable to us.

[1357]Mr. Nealon: Information on Edward Nealon  Zoom on Edward Nealon  Including the provision for the arts and culture?

Mr. F. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Yes. The original intention was to use the proceeds to finance the promotion of sport. The national lottery should be operated by a Department of Sport and the proceeds should all go to sport, as originally intended. The arts and culture should continue to be financed from the Exchequer.

Mr. Nealon: Information on Edward Nealon  Zoom on Edward Nealon  Is the Deputy proposing extra funding for the arts and culture from the lottery?

Mr. F. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  I would be strong in my support for it and for the promotion of the Irish language, but my point is that such extra expenditure should come from the public capital programme. The expenditure for sport should come from the lottery.

Mr. Nealon: Information on Edward Nealon  Zoom on Edward Nealon  That would come from the capital programme.

Mr. F. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  There is an essential difference. Funding of sport in the last few years — this applies to both Governments — has been considerably lower than politicians on all sides would have wished. The benefits to be gained from extra expenditure on sport has no equal because of the therapeutic, health and amenity values of sport to the community. There can be no question about the return on investment from such extra expenditure. It is appreciated that the case made in the Cabinet for extra expenditure on sport at the expense of what are considered other areas of greater necessity has been difficult for the Minister involved, and it is for that reason that the raising of money for sport was particularly attractive; and we on this side welcomed the announcement that the proceeds of the national lottery would go to sport. The £2 million annually being spent on sport at present is totally inadequate.

However, a change came and caused us considerable anxiety. Other areas which had been financed from the public purse [1358]— there have been reductions there — will be financed from the national lottery in future and the finance that heretofore has been provided from the public capital programme will be taken from the lottery proceeds. In other words, people will be making an extra tax contribution towards extra expenditure in these areas. That is totally unacceptable. It has happened already in regard to the 1 per cent income levy. Exchequer expenditure has now been replaced by the extra revenue generated by the income levy. If people made sacrifices to pay an extra £300 million annually for job creation it should have been devoted solely to that purpose.

It is expected that the national lottery will make £10 million in the first year, and that money is additional to the funding already there. The difficulty is that when the Government open up areas on which expenditure can be incurred, including Irish language promotion, the arts and culture, there is nothing to stop the Government putting the whole proceeds of the lottery into the Department of Health or elsewhere. That is the part of these provisions that are not acceptable to us because that would be completely contrary to the original intention announced by Deputies Creed, Geoghegan-Quinn and Tunney when they were in charge of the sports section of the Department and devoted considerable time and effort to examination of the advisability of a national lottery. The wise thing for the Government to do would be to withdraw this Bill and return to the original intention: that the Department of Education would have sole responsibility for the running of the national lottery and that the sole proceeds would go to a Department of Sport and that the proceeds would be in addition to current Government expenditure on sport.

It is not often I get an opportunity to speak on sport as Opposition spokesman, so I will say a few words now on the desirability of providing additional expenditure for sport. There can be no question that increased expenditure on sport would produce a good return on investment. We are in an era when leisure and free time activities have taken on a [1359] new meaning. Because of more free time, forced or otherwise, people have become more engaged in sporting activities. We have a very strong voluntary membership of amateur sports and we have excellent voluntary organisations who make enormous efforts to provide facilities for sporting organisations. In our policy document on sport we suggest extra expenditure in addition to money now being squandered in other areas. Extra expenditure on sport would quite quickly replace present expenditure on health care, on the prison service, etc., because most of the ills suffered by people in the inner cities are because of lack of proper facilities for sport.

Sport is a preventive medicine and if this and the next Government were to promote sport, particularly the “Sport for All” concept, and gave it the financial backing sufficient to provide proper facilities, we would be creating a healthier and fitter society. Because of its preventive qualities, the promotion of sport would mean that the vast amount of money used to try to cure society's ills would not be necessary.

I argue that extra expenditure on sport would create a healthier and more physically fit society and this would undoubtedly reduce the need for heavy expenditure on health. This is particularly evident in deprived communities where we are spending enormous amounts of money trying to cure health problems. There would be no need for Spike Island, for instance, if we had more sports facilities in inner city areas. If we could keep those young minds occupied through sporting activities the need for prison services would be greatly reduced. I am not suggesting for a moment that the provision of sporting facilities would replace the need for detention centres but I am saying it has been proved in Britain and other countries where the action sport programme has been immensely successful that you can prevent young people getting into trouble, coming into conflict with the law and becoming disaffected if adequate leisure and free-time facilities are available.

[1360] Sadly, we have been desperately negligent in providing such facilities. Extra expenditure, particularly in the deprived areas, would save the Government money in keeping young people behind bars. Although it is not related directly to the Bill, I want to make that point. It emphasises my argument that the Government should think again about including other areas and thus replacing Exchequer expenditure in other areas. I know that Deputy Creed was very disappointed when the areas of responsibility were extended. I urge the Minister present to appeal to his colleagues in Government that no other areas should be included——

Mr. Nealon: Information on Edward Nealon  Zoom on Edward Nealon  I could not possibly do that. I represent the area of the arts and culture.

Mr. F. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  The arts and culture are being funded from the public capital programme. The problem of the Minister is that he needs to get more money from that programme. If what he has said is the case, why not extend the national lottery to all areas, giving a cut for education, for the Defence Forces and so on? If the Government want to replace public Exchequer expenditure by means of a national lottery they should say so, but that was not the original intention.

This Bill is simply another mechanism to raise more money for the public purse. The proceeds of the national lottery will go to the Exchequer as do the proceeds from taxation. We have been told that in this case the money will be made available in the public capital programme. What is the difference in the revenue from VAT and the revenue that will come from the national lottery? There is no difference. There has been an attempted cover-up by the Government — it is not working — and they are trying to establish that extra money will go to the areas they mentioned. With regard to health, the way the Minister referred to this matter in his speech this morning it could mean any aspect of the health services. By including health one could literally decide to commission a CAT scanner in the Galway Regional Hospital from the proceeds of the [1361] national lottery, but that was not the original intention. We should confine the proceeds of the national lottery to sport and we should scrap the provisions in this Bill that provide for a replacement of Exchequer expenditure.

With regard to the operation of the lottery, I do not consider the national lottery need have a serious adverse effect on other lotteries, and particularly on the Irish Sweepstakes. There is a niche in the market for what I would describe as the working man's lottery. I understand this type of lottery is very successful in France. I am referring to a lottery where tickets would be available at newsagents or other outlets where people could use their small change to purchase them. That is an entirely different market from the pounds that must be spent on the Sweepstakes. In other countries where such other lotteries have been successful it has been proved there is a large market for this kind of operation. With the proper marketing and the availability of tickets at outlets where small change could be used, such a lottery could operate very successfully. In addition, it would not have the adverse effect that other lotteries could have from the point of view of gambling and it would open up a new area in the lottery business that has not been exploited.

If the national lottery were operated in that way I do not consider it would have serious adverse effects on existing lotteries operated by charities and voluntary organisations. While the Minister in his speech assured the various organisations that their interests will be protected, he has made generalisations about how this will be done. I consider it necessary to write in specific protections into the Bill.

I cannot follow the logic of the Minister in suggesting there will not be serious adverse effects. I quote from the Minister's speech where he said:

The Government believe that these measures will enable the lotteries in question to operate successfully after the start of the national lottery. It is not, of course, the Government's intention that the national lottery should supplant or replace the present [1362] fund raising activities of voluntary and charitable bodies. The loyalty of subscribers and participants in existing permitted or licensed lotteries will ensure that these are still a substantial source of funding for the voluntary and charitable organisations concerned. I believe that the start of the national lottery will in no way diminish this loyalty, which is rooted in a deep appreciation of the excellent work which charitable and voluntary bodies undertake in our community.

I do not quite go along with that. While I agree the lottery need not necessarily inflict serious damage on the voluntary organisations, I do not believe that it is simply because people will continue to be loyal. People will invest their money in the best way possible. Loyalty may be a factor, but it will not be the major factor. For that reason I should like to see written into the Bill specific protection for the organisations that may be affected.

The specific proposal I have in that regard is that the income from the various lotteries be monitored and if there was a fall-off in their income, which undoubtedly would mean a corresponding increase for the national lottery, the voluntary bodies should be compensated for the loss. That is the only way we can protect the interests of the various charities and voluntary organisations. The Minister said the Government would be sympathetic to their situation in deciding on the allocations of the lottery's proceeds. I do not believe that is an adequate safeguard for the charities which would be seriously affected if there were to be a decline in their income from the various lotteries.

If the national lottery is to be so successful that it will reduce the revenue to existing lotteries, then the national lottery should make up the difference to the organisations concerned. I do not honestly believe there will be a very serious decline in the income from existing lotteries. From my study of lotteries in other countries I noted that those lotteries were very successful in creating new markets. If we aim for the part of [1363] the market which is at present unexploited, we can create a significant amount of income without interfering with the two main areas, the sweepstakes and the voluntary organisations.

The Irish Hospital Sweepstakes have put forward a very worthwhile case as to the adverse effects this lottery would have on them but I have a mixed reaction to their argument. There was a great deal of truth in what they had to say, but over the years they have been negligent because they did not ensure a greater success for their operation. They had a monopoly and they sold tickets on foreign markets. This should have ensured the success of the company. One would have expected them to be in a stronger position to face the challenge of this national lottery. I have not been impressed by their argument that if there is a national lottery they will immediately go to the wall. If they go to the wall that easily, they might as well go quietly and let us get on with the job. With a more professional approach and a more dedicated effort the sweepstakes can be more successful and the national lottery need not interfere with their performance.

Our view is that this Bill should be withdrawn and we intend to oppose it. It is completely contrary to the original intention of the previous Government and the present Government. This is yet another attempt to collect taxation and to replace Exchequer expenditure with a new form of revenue. That is not acceptable, nor is the fact that money from this lottery will be spent to meet Government cut-backs. If we try to slice the cake to that degree, no organisation will benefit substantially. The main area in need of a significant increase in expenditure, namely sport, will not benefit either.

I believe this lottery, without interfering with existing lotteries could generate about £10 million per annum. Anything less would not be worthwhile. If we cannot operate a national lottery which will provide £10 million in addition to the present Government expenditure on sport, then such a lottery would not be [1364] worth while and we should forget about it.

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Mr. Nealon): Information on Nuala Fennell  Zoom on Nuala Fennell  I was very interested in the excellent case made by Deputy Fahey for lottery funds for sport and I will be making the same type of case for lottery funds for arts and culture.

Mr. F. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Why did not arts and culture think of the lottery first?

Mr. Nealon: Information on Edward Nealon  Zoom on Edward Nealon  Fianna Fáil Ministers of State, Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn and Deputy Tunney had the concept of a national lottery for sport and so had other people. They brought it a certain distance along the way but there was no lottery. They wanted 100 per cent of this money to go to sport, but what was there on the ground? There was 100 per cent of nothing.

Deputy Fahey asked why nobody thought of a national lottery for arts and culture. I will tell him. There was no Minister of State with special responsibility for arts and culture. One of the first things I did was to ensure that arts and culture would be included in any talks about funds from a national lottery. That was my job. I give credit to all the people who worked towards this ideal — Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn, Deputy Tunney and Deputy Creed, but as Minister of State with responsibility for arts and culture I was determined that if there was to be a national lottery the case for arts and culture was as strong, if not stronger, than any other. I am surprised Deputy Fahey did not agree with me, coming from a great centre of the arts where the Druids Theatre are doing by far the most significant work in the theatre at the moment. The Irish language comes under the heading of culture and I was surprised Deputy, Fahey would not concede that some of this money should be allocated to this area.

Why does this money not come from the Exchequer? We have to be realistic. At the moment with all the demands for very worthy causes, it is not possible to make the great leap forward in financing [1365] which is needed in arts and culture in the ordinary way. We have been giving tax concessions to improve the financing of the arts, but a great leap forward is still needed because the arts have been grossly under-funded. Everybody accepts that. How are we to make this great leap forward? While getting money from the Exchequer in the ordinary way, I see the lottery as the way to progress towards realistic and deserved funding for arts and culture.

Mr. F. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Would the Minister accept that in view of the fact that health is also included, the amount of extra revenue the arts will get will be negligible?

Mr. Nealon: Information on Edward Nealon  Zoom on Edward Nealon  I will be making a case for 50 per cent of the proceeds for arts and culture. As the Deputy said, the first year's disposable money from the lottery could amount to £10 million. I have seen figures for later years of up to £27 million, after paying costs and prize money. Fifty per cent or even a lesser per centage of that is very sizeable money. Remember that the entire Arts Council budget now is something like £5.82 million. That is not the entire funding of the Government for the arts; it is the Arts Council section. Therefore, the kind of money available can make a big difference to the arts and culture. My concern in this Bill derives from the Government's commitment to devote part of the proceeds of the lottery to the arts and to culture.

When Deputy Liam Cosgrave introduced the Arts Bill in this House in 1973 he began a process of renewal and change in State aid to the arts which continues to this day. Arising from the 1973 Arts Act, there was a major re-organisation of the Arts Council and a steady development of the funding of the council for the ensuing decade.

Successive Arts Councils and their staff have developed a whole range of supports and encouragement for the arts in all branches of creative endeavour. As a result of their efforts and of various other significant changes in our social, economic and cultural life, there has been a great upsurge in interest in the arts, [1366] no more than now when we have come through a recession. What the explanation is I do not know, but today the arts occupy a much more important place in our society than ever before. As a result of this there is a corresponding expectation and demand for continued development and assistance for arts institutions and for the individual artist.

This process has been an enriching one for our society. A continued trajectory of growth in this area represents a great development of our creative potential in the future. It also holds out the prospect of considerable employment — a point made on behalf of sports by Deputy Fahey — in the arts, among practitioners of the arts, in the running of arts organisations — galleries, museums, theatres, arts centres and so on — and in the organisation of artistic and cultural events. This richer cultural environment which has been created has benefits for all of us living in this country, in particular, I would suggest, for our young people, more and more of whom are becoming involved in different ways in creative activities. It is also an important factor in making our country a more attractive tourist destination.

Anyone reading the White Paper on Tourism will see just how important this is to the attractiveness of our country and making it a destination for people with, of course, the whole world as the option, for their holidays. Our whole economy benefits from the extra activity generated in the arts and culture sector through the income tax and PRSI paid by those employed and the VAT at cultural venues.

In the eighties the level of support which it has been possible to give the arts has increased only modestly. This is the kernel of the whole argument regarding lottery money for arts and culture. In the eighties it is little more in reality than compensation for inflation. It has been possible to supplement the ordinary grant to the Arts Council by other forms of assistance to the arts. For instance, substantial moneys have been made available from the Funds of Suitors to assist capital projects in the arts. Specific [1367] concessions have been made by this Government in the form of tax reliefs and incentives. An example of this is VAT on theatre tickets which stood at 23 per cent and is now eliminated totally. This was a substantial additional subvention to the theatre in Ireland on an ongoing basis. Therefore, the theatre and live performances, from the best evaluation we have, will be gaining to the extent of about £1 million a year every year. The removal of VAT is not just a one off gain.

The section 32 provision in the Finance Act, 1984, allowed the Minister for Finance to designate various arts bodies so that gifts up to £10,000 might be claimable by a donor or sponsor against income tax. I have recommended a considerable number of such bodies to the Minister for Finance for designation, and I must say they are coming through fairly fast at the moment with a fairly liberal interpretation of designated bodies. I hope that as a result, the fund-raising efforts of these groups and organisations will be considerably facilitated.

I commend the interest of the Minister for Finance, Deputy Bruton, in this area. He mentioned to me once that not sufficient tax rebate was being claimed in this area and he asked me what was happening. That is the first time in my experience as a politician — or otherwise — that I heard a Minister for Finance claiming that not sufficient money was being claimed back from him. I told him I would do my best to remedy that. It is a very attractive incentive whereby a person or a body giving £10,000 to a designated body under this section can get full tax rebate, and this is gradually beginning to pick up and to become a great incentive to people to give money to designated bodies. I believe that in the years ahead it will become a significant factor in the funding of many of the institutions designated under the section.

As well as these developments, there have been other directly financed projects in the arts and culture area. The most notable of these is the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, now about to become a great national centre for culture and the [1368] arts. Many Members of this House will have seen the fruits of that expenditure and the potential for the future which it has provided.

These are challenging and exciting developments and there are other areas where development is clearly needed. In particular, following the passing of recent legislation, a new headquarters is required for the national archives. The need to establish a national gallery of modern art has been felt for many years and a national folk museum is required to provide a permanent home for our national folk collections. These are high priorities. In this respect I take the occasion to pay tribute to Sir Sydney Nolan, a very celebrated Australian-Irish artist who recently contributed 50 of his paintings which we hope will become the starting point for a new gallery of modern art which is so badly needed in the capital. These are merely the institutional matters. An additional national investment clearly is required for development of many branches of contemporary arts.

The huge increase in activity in the cultural sector which I have managed only to outline in the most cursory way and the many new exciting projects which are in the pipeline all point to the need for a massive increase in investment in the infrastructure of the nation's cultural and artistic life. I have indicated the economic benefits which can derive from this investment, and I would like to emphasise the very important social aspects of increased Government spending in this area. Greater spending in the cultural field, which will allow the development of imaginative cultural programmes particularly in culturally disadvantaged areas is undoubtedly an important means of achieving greater social stability and harmony.

However, it is apparent, given the present state of public finance, that it will not be possible for the Government to finance from Exchequer sources alone the substantial investment programmes in the area of culture and the arts which are necessary to meet the demands of today or of the future, or the medium [1369] term future. Therefore, it is essential that the major new financing which is so badly needed in this area will be provided from the proceeds of the national lottery. I hope we will start to reap the benefits of the national lottery in the arts and culture sector in the next year. Listening to Deputy Fahey as spokesman for sports, I do not think he could possibly have had his full heart behind his request to withdraw this Bill.

The Taoiseach has already announced that a substantial portion of the lottery proceeds will be allocated to culture and the arts. It would, perhaps, be idle at this stage to speculate on how much might accrue from the national lottery. Various figures have been given which are only projections but at least they are based on the experience in other countries. As I have indicated, the needs of this sector are very substantial and the capacity of the State at present to invest in this area is extremely limited and is curbing development.

Our primary aim is to get the lottery off the ground and to ensure a popular response to it. I believe that our commitment to invest heavily in imaginative projects in the area of the arts, to create greater access to culture throughout the country and to provide increased opportunities for our people, particularly our young people, to become involved in creative activity, will help to capture the public imagination and will encourage people to join in the lottery. This is in addition, of course, to the primary incentive for each lottery participator of seeking to win a substantial amount for a small outlay. This can be a “fun” involvement for the members of the public requiring only a comfortably modest outlay from their discretionary spending.

I believe that people will respond well to the lottery in the knowledge that their money is being invested in improving the quality of life in this country, in developing the resources we have already in our museums and galleries and our heritage buildings, in creating new cultural amenities around the country and in funding new and exciting ventures in the arts. [1370] These will all benefit from the injection of funding from the national lottery, in addition to the ordinary funding which we will continue to maintain through the Arts Council and other cultural bodies.

I can assure you that, as Minister of State with responsibility for Arts and Culture, I would be resolutely opposed to any suggestion that funding from the national lottery could be substituted for funding from existing sources.

I am very conscious of the Government's responsibility to make adequate resources available for the cultural life of the nation and I am equally conscious of how far we have to go before we can claim to be making adequate provision in this area.

The introduction of a national lottery, therefore, is an imaginative break-through in public funding in this country. It has been seen to work effectively in other countries and to provide substantial benefits without great cost, difficulty or hardship. I believe it will be a painless form of providing additional funding on a voluntary basis for a range of important Government services. You will forgive me if I think of arts and culture as having the strongest claim on the fruits of this lottery. Because of the needs and the potential in this area, I will be seeking 50 per cent of the disbursable moneys on a permanent basis.

Work has been going on in my Department on the drafting of a White Paper which can map out important areas of growth and development in the arts over the remaining years of this century. Various agencies are helping to shape that document. The Arts Council earlier this year furnished me with a major document as an input to our thinking on this. The White Paper is at an advanced stage — the second draft has been completed — and I hope to have it available in the autumn. I mention it because I believe it provides the sort of framework for more considered planning for the arts than has been possible up to now. Part of that planning will be the spelling out of the funding required for developments in the arts. An important additional source for [1371] that funding will now be the national lottery.

For all these reasons, I strongly urge the House to endorse this measure and ensure that we can get the lottery under way as quickly as possible so that funding from it can flow substantially in 1987.

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  I give a guarded welcome to the proposed national lottery because there are dubious proposals contained in the Bill which will be used by the Government to reduce the amount of revenue expenditure for which, normally, the Government would be responsible. The Minister said he believes that the lottery will be a painless form of providing additional funding on a voluntary basis for a range of important Government services. That is very vague and seems to indicate a concept of the utilisation of the resources that would be garnered and procured from the lottery for a wide range of services. This debate has gone on for many years, long before I came into the House, and I had a totally different concept of a national lottery. I thought its main purpose was to provide funds for sporting facilities in scattered rural areas as well as in large urban centres to ensure that there was equal opportunity of investment in the provision of facilities. Of course, the obvious need for such facilities is in areas of high unemployment in inner city Dublin and in large urban areas.

The Government in the budget made some funds available in areas of large urban population which was selective and discriminatory towards rural areas where the population is not as great. In many of these areas resources would not be great and enormous tasks are performed to try to raise funds to provide facilities on a voluntary basis. I was certain that when we had a national lottery it would be specific in regard to sporting facilities for all the people. Having listened to the speeches of the Ministers of State, Deputy O'Keeffe and Deputy Nealon, I am worried that they seem to have other ideas in regard to the disbursement and expenditure of the funds which will be available from the lottery

[1372] The Minister said that the proceeds of the lottery will be applied to a variety of purposes including sport, health care, the arts and other cultural activities. This year there have been tremendous cutbacks in the health area, staff have been laid off and there are proposals to close about 15 hospitals and sections of others. When the lottery is in operation will the funds coming from it be used instead of funds that would normally come from the public capital programme and the Votes passed in the House for various Government Departments to pay for services? This would be a totally new concept which I would not be prepared to accept.

The Government said that surplus funds would be spent on sport, recreational facilities and national culture, including the Irish language, arts and health. That has been consistently reinforced by the various contributions from Ministers and Ministers of State who have already spoken on the Bill. They talked about creating 40 to 50 jobs in the lottery company, and that is welcome, because no company or lottery can run without staff. We must balance that against the serious situation that will occur in regard to existing lotteries and draws run by voluntary and sporting organisations. These draws are also run by charitable organisations, clubs and societies throughout the length and breadth of the land. Because of the cost of running these organisations in modern times, it is very hard to keep them going on membership fees alone, which were sufficient up to about 12 years ago. Nowadays, all these clubs and societies must run lotteries, draws, raffles, silver circles and so on. They are all systems of persuading people to invest in a gamble in order to create funds, the surplus of which would be used in administering the affairs of these voluntary, sporting and charitable organisations.

There are many reasons for having a national lottery. Equally, there are many reasons why we should not have a national lottery. But I worry that if this national lottery proceeds other lotteries — perhaps the very big ones or the very [1373] small ones — will not survive in the marketplace. I know it is the desire of the Government and the Ministers of State involved that they would survive. But the financial reality is that the market will be overtaxed. The disposable income of the people is being eroded and diminished daily due to high unemployment, high taxation and the escalating and ravaging unemployment. The very high emigration rates confirm the seriousness of the position. We are eroding the human base, the population structure from which the contribution to sustain another broad national lottery would be available.

The resources can hardly be there to sustain this lottery and the other lotteries, draws, gambles and silver circles that have been organised consistently on a weekly, monthly or annual basis. Traditionally those that have survived are very well organised, professionally administered and publicly popular, but they are under threat. Not alone will this diminish funds for those organisations and institutions, but it will also create a situation whereby the staffs of these institutions, particularly the national administration staffs which many voluntary organisations have, will have to be cut back. In many cases they are the only staff they have, professional administrators who run their affairs on a national level, usually here in Dublin and in some provincial centres. In some cases they might have to close shop all together.

We must take cognisance of that. The Minister has said that there has been plenty of discussion and debate between these organisations. I hope this has been taken into account and that there will be no threat to voluntary and charitable organisations and the institutions which have a very well structured lottery system going for many years. Examples are the CRC and the Rehabilitation Institute. Toghermore Training Centre in my own constituency has been a major beneficiary from the CRC and National Rehabilitation draws over the years. Of course, in regard to the Sweepstakes, there is a danger that upwards of 120 staff will be made redundant.

Studying the Bill and the contributions [1374] of the various speakers today I hope it will be possible to incorporate the existing well-structured systems into making their contribution to this national lottery. If it comes about, I hope it will be very successful. I hope the funds will be used for the specific sporting and voluntary areas mentioned and that they will not be used by the Government of the day, irrespective of what Government it is, for the normal day to day running of the country or for funding any Government Department or any part of the public capital programme.

I had thought that there was no doubt about the Government's position in allocating this lottery to An Post. An Post already have plenty of experience in this field. They administer the national prize bond draw, which is held monthly, and is an excellent system. That money is made up of bonds which are purchased traditionally by the middle to older generation at £5 each. There is no risk involved. Once the £5 has been invested it still remains £5 and can be withdrawn by the investor at any time. There would have been scope here to extend that system into a national lottery scheme. While there is an element of gamble in the prize bond scheme, because the chances of winning are not too great, the money that has been won by people has been of major benefit to individual prize winners and also to voluntary and charitable organisations who have won a lot of money in the prize bonds scheme. Perhaps the Minister of State, who will be speaking next, could clarify this for us. I hope the Government will investigate this to see if it would be possible to extend the prize bonds scheme as part of the national lottery. I hope in particular that the Sweepstakes people could be involved, because it would be sad if the tremendous contribution they have made was forgotten and their highly professional staff dumped on the dole queues. I hope this does not happen. I suggest that the Government should liaise with them to see if it would be possible to incorporate these people into the proposed national lottery.

The Government propose that 40 per [1375] cent of the lottery's gross receipts will be returned in prize moneys. I would have hoped that at least 50 per cent of the lottery funds would go in prize money. I can see no reason for not doing this. The Minister of State looks very worried at that statement. We must have the maximum incentive if we are to sell this across the country to all the people. Let us remember that it is not those with the huge bank deposits who will be supporting this but the ordinary people in the corporation houses, the council houses, small farmers, the working man, the person going into have the pint. It is those people who will make a success of this national lottery and decide whether or not it will be a success. If it is to be a permanent ongoing system it is important that the maximum incentive will be there. Perhaps 40 per cent will go on prizes, 10 per cent on administration and the balance will go to the funding of the various projects to be decided on.

I said already that I thought that the Government had decided that An Post would run this national lottery. I can see why the Minister might want to keep an open hand and be in a position to decide any particular allocation to any particular institute, company or group in regard to the running of the lottery at any time. The fact that there will be sales and agent's commission worries me to some extent. It seems that the Government may have ideas about using other agents on the ground for the sale of the tickets. I see nothing wrong with that. It is important to have the maximum opportunity to create funds and the maximum opportunity for people to invest in the system. But I would be grateful to the Minister if he would spell out exactly what he means by commission to ticket sales agents because I would have thought that if An Post were to run it there would be standard administrative costs, a standard benefit to them and that there would be no commission whatever, unless it means using the postal staff, the postmen and postwomen who have given such wonderful service to our people.

It is my feeling as a Member of the [1376] Oireachtas that the postal staff on the ground, the people who deliver the letters and parcels, have not been used to the maximum to make a better contribution to the running of this country in regard to dispensing documentation and news to the people. There is tremendous respect for these people and tremendous confidence by the people in them. If the commission is to be paid to the staff, I welcome that. I would welcome it equally if they are to be involved in this. Of course, this is a matter totally for them and their union and I am not going to go into that area. There is probably scope for expansion of the responsibilities of the postal staff and obviously they will have to be well remunerated for whatever extra work they do. There is tremendous confidence in them. They will do an excellent job if this is to be part of their new function.

The Minister alluded to the voluntary and charitable organisations. The Minister of State Deputy O'Keeffe, said this morning that the Government's intention was to ensure that the good work funded by existing charitable and other voluntary lotteries which operate nationally does not suffer as a result of the national lottery. Can there be any guarnantee given that the existing jobs in the administrative structures of the various voluntary and charitable organisations will not be lost? I hope a guarantee will be given that there will not be under-funding of the existing draws and lotteries causing them to terminate, to the detriment of the administration and the facilities that are being provided by these organisations. More details should be given to this House on this commitment and guarantee, within reason, in so far as this is physically, politically and financially possible. Provision has been included in the Bill to protect and enhance the position of existing charitable and voluntary organisations. I should like that to be spelled out more clearly and to see what provisions or guarantees there are for their protection.

I am disappointed that section I defines the term used in the Bill as the National Lottery Fund. I would have thought the [1377] Government's proposal to ensure that some of the moneys that will accrue from the surplus on the national lottery would go to the promotion of the Irish language would lead to the use of an Irish term for this draw. I would like the Irish language to be used much more in the promotion of the draw, that the tickets involved would be in simple Irish and the people would be rededicated to the use of that language, their interest in it aroused and the expansion of its use sought. Ba cheart go n-úsáidfí “Crannchur Éireannach” nó “Lotto Éireannach” nó ainm mar sin, a bheadh oiriúnach don Rialtas.

I ask the Minister to involve the promotion of the Irish language, not alone financially but physically. I can understand the interest of the Minister of State Deputy Nealon, in the development of culture and the arts. We all want to see the promotion of these, but what better culture can we promote than our national games, hurling, football, handball and camogie? These are traditional and specific to this country and identifiable with it. These are games which hold this country apart among the nations of the world and give us a unique distinction as an island people with our own way of life and customs. I hope that much of the funds accruing from this lottery will go to the promotion of our national games.

I have been worried over the past number of years that there has been a feeling in the Government of the day, not specific to this Government but over the years, particularly in the Department of Education, and perhaps the Department with responsibility for sport, that our national games are strong enough and funded enough and do not need any more support than is being given to them. Not alone must we take account of inflation, but there must be much more investment in these games. We must preserve them. I had the privilege, as a young person, of playing all games possible, but my main interest has been in our national games. I never reached any great heights in those pursuits, but that does not mean I did not participate in them. There appears to be a feeling that we must put more money into funding new types of sport rather [1378] than into preserving our national games. I hope that as Irish people committed to our own distinct was of life we will ensure that the main funding will go to our national games. That is our fundamental duty.

The other games played on a national basis like rugby, soccer and athletics, are also entitled to very good funding. There are, however, other more selective sports and pastimes which seem now to be gaining popularity and which appear to be getting pro rata much more funding and investment than would be justified on the basis of the involvement of people in these games, by comparison with the thousands and perhaps the million people who are taking part in all our games played at national level. I hope we will never lose sight of the fact that we have that duty as legislators, civil servants and national administrators in whatever function we are involved in, particular vis-à-vis national games, national pastimes and the culture of the land. I hope we will never under-finance these in comparison with the other cultures or sports. I hope this will be borne out in the disbursement of funds when this national lottery proceeds.

This morning the Minister alluded to the Gaming and Lotteries Act, 1956. I would have hoped that it would have been possible to bring forward amending legislation to that Act along with this proposed National Lottery Bill. We were promised that by the former Minister for Justice, Deputy Noonan, but the amending legislation never came. I refer to that because of the threat to jobs throughout the land as a result of that Bill not having been amended.

There are a number of other systems of creating funds which have not the blessing of or been incorporated into the 1956 Act. I refer in particular to one specific system which has been used by many voluntary sporting and charitable organisations to create funds and that is the use of film racing, particularly film horse racing. As one who is involved in many sporting organisations which use that system, I can say it is invariably immensely enjoyable, with tremendous [1379] participation by all involved whenever it is used. This results in tremendous funds being available, 50 per cent of the money expended usually going back to the organisers, the charities — perhaps GAA clubs acting voluntarily, golf clubs, rugby clubs or the charities that use them. The other 50 per cent usually goes out in prizes. You invest your money, have your racing film and get your money back. That has not been legislated for in this country and there seems to be a doubt about whether it can be run in the normal halls or, in particular, in a licensed premises.

While I can appreciate that the 1956 Act is very specific, in that even television sets may be precluded and the playing of cards with stakes over 5p per game, I hope some consideration will be given in the funding of charities and sport and national culture to ensuring that specific opportunities for film racing are legislated for. I hope the Minister of State can take that thought to his colleague, the Minister for Justice to see what can be done.

I can understand that there could be some legitimate reasons why people under 18 years of age would be debarred from buying tickets, but perhaps the age limit could have been brought down to under 16 years of age. We all hope that whatever proposals go through this House the result will be the best possible legislation for the maximum benefit of the maximum number of people. I hope we will try to stimulate an interest in the national lottery among young people, not an interest in gambling but in supporting the lottery as something which is good for the country in the provision of sporting facilities which young people so urgently need, desire and aspire to use. We are being a little exclusive and selective in keeping people under 18 years of age from investing in this national lottery. I would like the Minister to explain the reasons for this either today or when the Bill is being put through its final stages in the House.

I said at the outset that I felt there was an opportunity here to use existing [1380] systems. Not alone are An Post an ideal body to operate the national lottery but it could also be operated through the banks and the building societies who have a national network. Deputy Fahey, our spokesperson on sport, stated that in France when people go into a shop to buy the morning papers and have change left over, they have an opportunity to purchase tickets for the national lottery there and then. I hope we can look at and perhaps operate a similar system. I appreciate that everything cannot be put into operation over night. Perhaps people who go into banks and building societies could have an opportunity to purchase lottery tickets there. Because they have a national system it would be possible to transfer those funds to the Exchequer or the Central Bank or to the national headquarters each evening. The money would be collected quickly, would be accumulating and creating interest which would ultimately offset the administrative costs of the national lottery to the advantage of the people. The difficulty would be that that interest would be subject to deposit interest retention tax, this draconian measure which was introduced this year in the budget and in the Finance Bill by the Government. We must balance that against the proposals for the national lottery which would fund sport and other facilities.

As a result of the DIRT tax the biggest amateur sporting organisation in this country and maybe in the world, the Gaelic Athletic Association, will be under serious financial pressure. We must balance that against the national lottery contributions that would be made towards sporting facilities. As this debate goes on and before it is concluded, it may be possible for the Minister to have discussions with the Gaelic Athletic Association to see what their problems and needs are and if it would be possible to alleviate them. There is no reason why all sporting, voluntary and charitable organisations and institutions should not be excluded from the deposit interest retention tax.

[1381]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  That does not arise on this Bill.

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  The common denominator is the provision of sporting facilities. I thought that the main purpose of the national lottery was the provision of those facilities. If this House passes legislation which threatens the provision and administration of those facilities then I cannot see how——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  I am ruling that taxation imposed by the budget or the Finance Act does not arise in this debate.

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Can we have a passing reference to it?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  You can, but the passing reference is taking a little too long.

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  I ask the Minister to examine the position because it is having a very serious effect on the voluntary and sporting organisations, particularly with regard to the public liability insurance cover these organisations must have. This year the GAA have to make provision for £1 million in order to have adequate insurance cover for their players, their administrators and the paying public. The deposit interest retention tax is eating into that. The insurance cover and the funds that will be there to protect all our players, administrators and the paying supporters are now under threat. I hope something will be done about it.

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Mr. Barrett,: Information on Nuala Fennell  Zoom on Nuala Fennell  Dún Laoghaire): If it is put into Government bonds there will be no retention tax on it.

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Putting money into Government bonds that would be on call quickly is not an ideal way of avoiding this tax.

Mr. Barrett:  (Dún Laoghaire): It is.

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Anybody who puts [1382] money into bonds at any level usually invests it for a period of a year, two, three, four or five years.

Mr. Barrett:  (Dún Laoghaire): That is not necessary.

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  It is not necessary but from an administrative and a financial point of view for the day to day running and for the cash flow it would not be ideal. As I said at the outset, I expect that the national lottery will be used not alone to promote and fund the Irish language but that there will also be an element of Gaeilge isteach ann and that adults and children will be able to identify with this national lottery on the basis of understanding it through a good Irish catch name. There should be an element of Irish in it and perhaps the tickets could be printed in Irish.

It is important that with such high unemployment we should provide sufficient sporting facilities. I hope this national lottery will be specifically used for that purpose. I also hope the funds from it will be used in particular to promote our national culture and games. I would not have any real objection within reason to the funding of arts and culture through the national lottery provided it is specific and there will not be incidental allocations of funds at any period to take the Government out of financial difficulty vis-a-vis the funding of any body. We have seen in the budget this year that there was specific funding for specific areas of high urbanisation. That is very selective and unfair to the voluntary and sporting organisations who need State funds urgently and who, I hope, will benefit from this national lottery. In my constituency there are several GAA clubs and community organisations providing community centres for their own areas and their own people. They expected to get funds and were promised funds by various members of the Government parties. They have not got those funds and will not get them. They are now in serious financial trouble because of this.

[1383]Mr. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  (Dún Laoghaire): There are a few applications knocking around since the Deputy's time.

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  It is my privilege at all times to make representations on behalf of my constituents. I want to reinforce the applications that have been made on their behalf by my Oireachtas colleagues. I hope the applications which were received will be considered favourably either through the national lottery when it is set up or more immediately out of whatever funds are available from the Department responsible for sport and the Department of Education this year.

I hope what has been said by the various speakers will be taken in a positive manner, that whatever suggestions have been made will be examined and, if the national lottery is established it will be used mainly for the provision of sporting facilities for the benefit of all people in all areas of activity and in all parts of this island. I hope when it comes about it will not infringe on the other voluntary and charitable organisations which have had their own system in operation for many years. I hope it will not interfere with the voluntary efforts of people to provide their own facilities and that sufficient Government financial support will be made available to these voluntary and charitable organisations to enable them to bring their present projects to a successful conclusion. I wish the national lottery every success if and when it is set up.

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Mr. Barrett,: Information on Nuala Fennell  Zoom on Nuala Fennell  Dún Laoghaire): I would like to say at the outset that, as the Minister with responsibility for sport, I am delighted the National Lottery Bill is being introduced. In welcoming the Bill I share with the general public and sportsmen and women all over the country a sense of joy that we are providing a system whereby funds will be made available for sport. The Bill has particular relevance to sports persons in that the Government have clearly stated and decided that part of the net income from the lottery will be allocated [1384] to sport. I was pleased to listen to Deputy Treacy as he had a positive attitude to the Bill not like some of the previous Opposition speakers who struck me as trying to find an objection to it for the sake of finding an objection. Deputy Treacy made some very valid points which should be noted. I hope that when the Minister is replying he will deal with the points he made.

In the Bill it is stated in the language of Government legislation that the income shall be applied for such general purposes, and such amounts of those moneys shall be applied for each such purpose, as the Government may determine from time to time. As Minister with responsibility for sport, I do not see anything devious about that, because it is standard enabling legislation which gives the Government flexibility in determining whether x per cent should go into sport this year, or y per cent into arts and culture. If in the following year, more money is needed for sport, I am sure it will be given. If this language sounds cryptic to some people, I want to assure the public, an enthusiastic sport loving public, that sport will be a beneficiary from the proceeds of the lottery.

I would like to make two points in relation to that. First, in the Government policy document Building on Reality 1985-1987 it is clearly stated as follows in relation to sport:

The Government are anxious that, despite the difficult financial situation, additional funding should be provided for sport. The Government have decided that a National Lottery should be established, part of the proceeds of which will be allocated to the promotion of sport.

Second, I would like to refer to a statement released by the Government Information Service on 17 October 1985 in which the Government said the proceeds of the lottery will be used by the Government to assist sport and recreation, arts and culture including the Irish language, and health. It cannot be stated more clearly who the beneficiaries are.

I find it difficult to understand how [1385] anybody can fail to recognise the commitment clearly and frnakly made by the Government, that is, that sport will be a major beneficiary from the national lottery. It should be pointed out that sport for a lottery which would provide funds for sport came initially from Cospóir, the National Sports Council, which carried out research and prepared a submission in the matter some years ago. On 17 September 1982 Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn, who was then Minister with responsibility for sport, forwarded a copy of this submission to the then Taoiseach, Deputy Haughey. In a letter to him she said:

I am of the opinion that a properly devised sports lottery would in general be regarded as being very much in the public interest and would, in the event, be of a political advantage. Undoubtedly, the demand for greater expenditure in the sports/leisure area will grow and a sports lottery will certainly greatly reduce demand on the Exchequer.

In his reply, Deputy Haughey, as Taoiseach, advised Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn to have the proposal explored, first, on a preliminary basis with the Departments of Justice and Finance. Therefore, from very early on it was obvious that the Opposition did favour the idea of a national lottery, admittedly, following the examination carried out by Cospóir. For that reason I am surprised — and I note from the tone of those speaking here today that things have quietened down a little bit — to read in the newspapers when the Bill was first published that the Opposition were to oppose it. I fail to see why they should do that.

However, all that having been said, I would like to record publicly my appreciation of my predecessor, Deputy Creed, who brought home to the Government the advantages of investment in sport through the establishment of a lottery. During his term of office the preparatory work was done, which is culminating in the Bill before us. The income from the lottery will, as the House well knows, be invested in different areas but sport will [1386] definitely be a beneficiary. I am sure Deputy Briscoe, who is keenly interested in sport, would not disagree that more funding is needed for sport.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Ben Briscoe  Zoom on Ben Briscoe  The objection is that the Bill does not specify any of these areas.

Mr. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  (Dún Laoghaire): The Bill is enabling legislation which enables the Government to establish the national lottery.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Ben Briscoe  Zoom on Ben Briscoe  That is the basis of our objection.

Mr. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  (Dún Laoghaire): It would be rather unwise at this stage to be quite categoric about what percentage goes into what. It could be to the disadvantage of sport in the long term as ultimately——

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Ben Briscoe  Zoom on Ben Briscoe  It does not even mention sport.

Mr. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  , (Dún Laoghaire):—— people will eventually see the main benefits to be derived for sport. As we all know, Ireland is no different from many other countries. We are faced with unemployment problems. There is an increase in the amount of leisure time available to people but, above all, we have a population of 1.5 million people under the age of 25. It is quite obvious from my short term in office as Minister with responsibility for sport that, despite the efforts of local authorities, local organisations, sports bodies and community associations, we still have a shortage of proper facilities in relation to sport and physical recreation. We must find a way to provide the funds to enable us to provide those necessary facilities.

Any fair minded person would recognise that over the last few years the Government have considerably increased their contribution to sport and to youth involved in sport. This year, we are providing grant aid for sport to the sum of £1.605 million while the youth and sport fund has increased to £1.05 million. These are significant improvements notwithstanding [1387] the economic recession we have faced over the past number of years. In addition, I was very pleased that the Minister for Finance accepted my amendment to the Finance Bill whereby we are now giving tax incentives to companies and individuals who donate up to £10,000 to Cospóir for sport and claim it against tax. This is a tremendous opportunity for many people who want to contribute to a well worthwhile cause. Be they an individual or a company, they can now invest up to £10,000 and claim it against tax.

We are also providing this year scholarships for athletes who can go abroad or stay at home and avail of additional coaching to improve their standards. We have included in the Estimates sums for sport in deprived areas. We are trying as far as possible to provide a reasonable sum of money for sport through current expenditure. There is no doubt that there is a need for a greater contribution to sport, particularly for capital projects. I would hope that the national lottery would provide us with that opportunity, bearing in mind that our young people are being bombarded by violence and drugs and, because of the many problems facing them, are perhaps becoming rather bored with life. Sport can fill that sort of vacuum, relieving people of that boredom, removing them from the possibility of becoming involved in violence, drugs or all the other things to which we all particularly object.

Sport, leisure and recreation, seen in the context of contemporary Ireland, demonstrate that we have reached a watershed in our society. I acknowledge the great work done voluntarily by members of sports and youth organisations, providing for the recreational needs of our young people and community in general. I should like to pay particular tribute to the thousands upon thousands of people who work day in day out on a voluntary basis helping young people in sport, providing them with facilities, all for no monetary reward. These people who give of their time voluntarily are not sufficiently recognised. I have had occasion to attend many functions in recent months when I [1388] have seen at first hand the tremendous input of people on a voluntary basis. They deserve our support. The passage of this Bill, ensuring that the national lottery is initiated without delay, will provide funds for the facilities these people will manage for us in the future.

We must recognise that economic and technological changes are undermining our conventional attitudes to work and leisure. Undoubtedly, there will be a large and sudden increase in people's free time over the next 20 years. This hiatus in people's lives must be filled, largely through the provision of sport, leisure and recreational facilities, because there is no doubt that less time will be spent at work. The consequences for those of us who must provide leisure opportunities or prepare children for a life in which leisure opportunity may be as important as work are more significant than ever before. The manual content of work will be reduced. Indeed, a large proportion of the adult population may not engage in sufficient physical effort at work to remain physically fit.

I have had occasion to read various articles written abroad. The level of fitness in many countries is astonishing, in that it is not now common for people to engage in much manual work. The consequences for this or any other nation in the future will be larger health bills having to be faced. It is to everybody's advantage that we initiate programmes and provide facilities to help people reach a level of physical fitness, particularly our young people. I read recently that in Australia they had carried out a survey among schoolchildren in which they found, to their astonishment, that their level of fitness had deteriorated substantially. Therefore the Australians have decided to pump a lot of money into sport and physical recreation. They recognise that, if they do not make such investment in children at a young age, they will be facing problems in the future.

Those people who feel that investing in sport and grant-aiding sporting organisations may not be a priority and that there are other things on which we should be spending our money should think for [1389] a moment of the health bills we will have to face, the buildings we will have to provide by way of hospitals, other institutions or indeed prison places in the future if we do not ensure that we have a healthy, active, young population involving themselves in sport and physical recreation. No matter who may be in Government I shall continue to argue that it is vitally important that people recognise the need for investment in sport and physical recreation. In the past when people were seeking means of effecting savings it was much to easy to effect cut-backs in areas of sport and physical recreation, knowing that somebody else would provide those facilities. That was very negative thinking, which meant that the State would be funding hospitals and institutions because of an unhealthy and unfit nation.

I recognise that the income generated by the national lottery must be utilised wisely and effectively to provide for the leisure needs of the deprived in our society. We must also cater for the needs of structured sport. It will be my intention to strengthen the national governing bodies of sport by providing fulltime administrators, coaches and development officers where required. In addition to the need for buildings, much emphasis has been placed on the need for proper coaching and development officers to assist the many people working on a voluntary basis throughout the country. I hope this year we shall be able to augment the number of development officers in assisting national governing bodies in the development of their sports. We need the professional skills to help those people who are prepared to give of their time voluntarily. Therefore, a national coaching structure is vital to progress.

Sport in disadvantaged areas must be developed also. That speaks for itself. Far too often when people speak about facilities they fail to recognise that in some areas there are people who are prepared to give of their time but just cannot raise the necessary funds for the provision of the requisite facilities, be they community facilities or other sporting [1390] and physical recreational facilities. While there are the willing bodies, the people do not have the financial capacity to provide the requisite structures. This year the Government allocated a special sum of £5 million towards the provision of community facilities, the bulk of that money being invested in newly developed urban areas where it is extremely difficult for people to raise the necessary finance to provide the buildings in which sport and physical recreational activities can take place.

It will be my intention to ensure that we have a proper administrative structure in relation to sport and physical recreation when these moneys are forthcoming from the national lottery. We recognise also that if we want to attract young people into sport we must have the elite athlete. All one needs to do is observe the increase in popularity in cycling with the success on Seán Kelly, Stephen Roche and others, who automatically attract young people into cycling. Therefore, we need the elite athlete. We need the Barry McGuigans. Incidentally, I should like to say to Barry McGuigan through you, a Cheann Comhairle: Well done, Barry, you brought a great deal of pride to this country and the fact that you were defeated recently does not diminish your previous great achievements.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Ben Briscoe  Zoom on Ben Briscoe  We look forward to his victory again.

Mr. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  (Dún Laoghaire): Yes, indeed, we look forward to his regaining his title. These sorts of elite athletes have managed to attract young people into sport. Therefore, it is necessary to grantaid outstanding sports persons so that they may improve their performances and in so doing encourage others into sport. One need only go back 30 years when Ronnie Delaney won his gold medal in Melbourne and remember the string of 1,500 metre runners we have had since then who competed at world level. It has been quite astonishing. In our future plans we must recognise that sums of money will have to be devoted to elite athletes to enable them develop [1391] their skills further and to compete at international level. To that end we are using the Olympic movement and grant-aiding them this year to the tune of approximately £275,000.

Debate adjourned.

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