National Lottery Bill, 1986: Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

The purpose of this Bill is to give effect to the Government's undertaking to establish a national lottery first set out in their White Paper Building on Reality in October 1984.

As I said in my speech to the Dáil, lotteries have a long history going back to the 15th century. When it was discussed in the Dáil some Deputies suggested that the history went back beyond that but my research did not go back beyond the 15th century. The establishment in Ireland of a national lottery is not, in international terms, a very unusual step. State lotteries exist today in over 80 countries. Among our partners in the European Communities, State or national lotteries are established in the Federal Republic of Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, Spain and Portugal. Britain, of course, has its football pools. In the United States lotteries exist in some 22 states, including New York, New Jersey, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Before I come to some specific aspects of the Bill I should like to outline the considerations which determined the general thrust and shape of the legislation. Public trust and confidence is of crucial importance in the operation of state lotteries. Such trust can only be secured and held by comprehensive legislative provision which demonstrably protects the public interest and guards the integrity of a national lottery on behalf of prospective participants. It is, accordingly, appropriate that the legislation should provide for the award by the Minister for Finance of a licence to operate the national lottery to a body in which he can be satisfied that the public interest can be safeguarded. As the House is aware, after due consideration of the matter the Government decided to award a licence to operate the national lottery to a subsidiary of An Post. The general enabling provision to award the licence is contained in section 3.

A matter which may be of concern to Senators is the question of the purposes to which lottery surpluses are to be applied. These were not specified in the Bill as circulated but in response to the debate in the Dáil I have decided upon an amendment to section 5, the relevant section of the Bill, which will be more specific as to the purposes for which lottery funds will be used. These purposes, as already announced by the Government, are sport and recreation, national culture, including the Irish language, the arts and health. The needs of sport were very much to the fore in the Government's thinking when drawing up plans for the lottery. I am convinced that we will see in due course substantial support from the lottery funds for projects in the sporting area. A strong case has also been made for funding for the arts and national culture. There have also been calls to support various other causes including those charitable and voluntary organisations which operate in the health area. The areas identified by the Government to benefit from the national lottery a balance of deserving causes to be given assistance from the lottery.

There will, of course, also be provision to extend the list of purposes should the Government so decide. Any addition to the list of purposes to be contained in the Bill will have to be published in Iris Oifigiúil. Moreover, through the process of allocation of funds, the Dáil will have the opportunity to consider all the purposes for which the funds are used and the entire proceeds of the lottery will be accounted for in a completely visible manner.

The legislation needs to allow for extension of the purposes in order to cater, for example, for arrangements which may become necessary in relation to existing charitable and voluntary lotteries when the national lottery becomes operational and also to allow the Government flexibility to meet other beneficial community purposes which may arise in future without having to amend the Act. There need, therefore, be no fears among Senators that lottery funds will be absorbed into general public expenditure purposes.

I wish now to turn to the question of the impact of the national lottery on those existing lotteries operated by voluntary and charitable organisations. The Government when announcing the national lottery indicated that consideration would be given to measures, including changes in the existing legislation governing prizes, designed to ensure that the activities of existing lotteries could continue. The Minister for Finance, in his budget speech of 29 January 1986, reiterated that the Government's intention 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. Extensive discussions have taken place with those voluntary organisations, charities or umbrella groups that had earlier expressed disquiet at the possible adverse effects of the national lottery on their fund-raising.

Specific measures are being provided in the Bill to help existing lotteries to compete. Section 33 will enable the Minister for Justice to improve the prize limits at present specified in the Gaming and Lotteries Act, 1956 for lotteries operated under Garda permit or licence from the District Court and also will exempt such lotteries from the restrictions on advertising and publicity set out in section 22 of that Act. As I informed the Dáil, the Minister for Justice has new prize limits of the order of £3,000 for lotteries under permit and £10,000 for lotteries under licence in contemplation. I believe strongly that these measures will provide adequate opportunity to those bodies concerned to compete successfully with the national lottery.

Only time will tell how, if at all, the national lottery will affect the situation of the bodies who hold existing periodical lotteries. However, I have already given an assurance that where such bodies can demonstrate satisfactorily that the lottery has adversely affected their receipts, the Government are prepared to take steps to make funding available to them from the lottery's surplus. To conclude on this aspect of the Bill, I regret to say that there appears to be some misunderstanding about the participation of charities or voluntary bodies in selling tickets for the national lottery. Such participation would not be consistent with the intention to support, not to supplant, existing charitable fund-raising. Moreover, the best technical advice indicates that sales outlets should be fixed retail business locations which will have to satisfy a number of criteria from a business and security point of view.

Coming to the specific provisions of the Bill, there are largely self-explantory; an Explanatory Memorandum has also been provided so I propose to refer only to a few specific provisions in any detail.

In addition to my proposals on section 5, I might mention at this stage that a number of amendments covering minor drafting and presentational aspects of the Bill as circulated have been dealt with during its passage through the Dáil.

Section 4 provides that the total value of the prizes to be distributed by the national lottery must not be less than 40 per cent of the total amount received in respect of national lottery ticket sales in any financial year of the authorised company. I would point out that this is a minimum and the amount returned in prizes could be more.

Section 6 is an important provision of the Bill. It provides for the appointment by the Minister of an independent scrutineer who will examine on the Minister's behalf the operation of the national lottery in order to ensure its integrity and to guard against fraud. The scrutineer is not intended as a substitute for or aide to the auditor who will in the normal course under the Companies Acts audit the balance sheet and accounts of the authorised company. His function will be to act as the Minister's and the community's watchdog over the operation of the national lottery to ensure its correct and proper functioning.

Section 7 provides for the appointment by the authorised company of ticket sales agents on such terms as the company may determine with the consent of the Minister. Lottery tickets may be sold only by the company or by its sales agents and may not be sold to anyone under the age of eighteen years. The purchase of tickets on behalf of those under eighteen years, for example as presents, is not however to be prohibited. Section 7 also makes it an offence for certain categories of person, for example, directors or employees of the authorised company, to own a national lottery ticket.

Section 8 provides for the establishment under the Minister's management and control of a national lottery fund at the Central Bank. All lottery receipts, with the exception of sales agents' commission and any "instant" prizes payable in any lottery game at point of sale, will be paid into the fund from which the authorised company's remuneration and operating expenses will be paid. Prize moneys will also be paid periodically en bloc from the fund to the company for distribution. Surplus moneys in the fund are to be remitted at least annually to the Central Fund. Section 9 provides for payment of remuneration due to the licensee from the fund.

Section 14 provides that the number of directors of the authorised company shall be seven including the chairman and sets out their mode of appointment. The Government envisage that An Post will nominate four of the seven directors of the subsidiary company, including the chairman, with the consent of the Minister, who will nominate the remaining three directors.

I do not propose to refer in detail to the remaining relatively standard provisions such as those regarding memorandum and articles of association, share holdings, accounting and financial arrangements. I might mention the following sections as of particular note:—

Section 28 provides that a scheme of rules in respect of each lottery game in the national lottery must be prepared by the authorised company for approval by the Minister. Only those games in respect of which such a scheme has been provided by the company and approved by the Minister can be operated by the company.

Section 29 enables the Minister to issue such directions as he considers necessary or expedient in the public interest to the authorised company. Section 30 as well as giving the Minister certain powers of share acquisition provides for the appointment by the Minister if he so thinks fit at any time of a manager who would, in terms of the section, take over the management of the authorised company as a going concern.

Section 31 confines the use of the names "National Lottery" or "Irish National Lottery" to the Minister, the licensee, the authorised company or a person so authorised by any of these. A person who uses these terms unlawfully will be guilty of an offence.

Section 32 exempts the national lottery from the provisions of the Gaming and Lotteries Acts, 1956 to 1979.

Section 33 authorises the Minister for Justice to amend by regulations sections 27 and 28 of the Gaming and Lotteries Act, 1956 by altering the prize limits specified in subsections (2) (b) and (4) of section 27 and subsection (2) (c) of section 28 of that Act. Lotteries held pursuant to sections 27 and 28 are also exempted from the provisions of section 22 of the Gaming and Lotteries Act, 1956 in relation to advertising.

With particular regard to the latter measures I have mentioned, 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 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.

In the event that, despite these measures, it can be shown that the net income to charitable and voluntary bodies from the lotteries they operate has declined as a direct consequence of the activities of the national lottery, I have given an assurance in the Dáil that the Government will be sympathetic to their situation in deciding on the allocation of the national lottery's proceeds.

I would like to conclude by commending this Bill to the House and assuring Senators that the Government's wish is to see the beneficial causes which have been identified begin to benefit as soon as possible from the national lottery.

In the normal way I would like very much to be able to give a welcome to this Bill. As the Minister said, a number of countries over many centuries have had lotteries. All parties in both Houses of the Oireachtas have from time to time lauded the notion. My difficulty, and it is shared by quite a number of individual commentators on this Bill since it was introduced, is to decide whether or not the moneys which will come into the Exchequer arising from this lottery will be disbursed in the areas where they are greatly needed. I realise that in the Dáil, the Minister did pull back at least somewhat from his original position, which certainly appeared to all of us to be going to suck these funds directly into the Exchequer without committing himself as to where the expenditure would eventually lie.

Section 5 says:

the purposes of such one or more of the following, and in such amounts as the Government may determine from time to time, that is to say, sport and other recreation, national culture (including the Irish language), the arts (within the meaning of the Arts Act, 1951) and the health of the community, and

(b) such (if any) other purposes, and in such amounts, as the Government may determine from time to time.

If the Minister had confined himself to paragraph (a) he would have received fairly broad acceptance but once paragraph (b) is included there seems to be a number of other possibilities. The Minister will argue that it gives him power to deal with situations which could not now be envisaged. But it is far too comprehensive, too open, too vague, to be acceptable by this House. Remember, we have very grave and great competing considerations for funds of this kind. I think of people on the margin of society and organisations in this city and in other parts of the country who have failed to convince the Minister for Health of the need for the provision of shelter and overnight accommodation for people in desperate need. We have failed here: members of the Eastern Health Board have failed to convince that board and the Minister for Health of the necessity to provide funds for matters of that seriousness. I have witnessed the Department of Finance, over years, failing to support essential schemes where the EC was prepared to provide £1 for every £1 we expended.

With the background of that experience, and with the looseness in section 5 I find it very difficult to accept from the Minister that the surplus funds which will come out of this lottery will go directly into these areas. I remain unconvinced that this Bill, when it is introduced, will be sufficient to ensure that the interests of the charitable organisations, those groups in our society who do such laudable work — unpaid for their efforts on behalf of the handicapped and the poor in our society — will be fully protected.

When mention of a lottery first came up most people thought in terms of sport. Because of our very young population and the necessity for people to lead active lives up to the end if possible, the provision of sports facilities is very essential. But I am not one who would argue that all the funds should go in that direction. It is quite clear that there are other very major competing considerations. I have mentioned the charitable organisations and the question of our arts. In recent years there has been a happy and welcome development in relation to the growth of historical societies, the building of heritage centres and the awakening of an interest in our population in our history and in the protection of the environment, of architectural buildings and matters of this kind. In so far as it is possible — we will never have enough money for all of those considerations — it is important to give those causes sufficient funds. The Minister, in paragraph (a) has tried to cover this aspect of it. I welcome that.

The greatest contribution the Minister could make would be to be far more specific. In his statement to this House, he said:

Such trust can only be secured and held by comprehensive legislative provision which demonstrably protects the public interest and guards the integrity of a National Lottery on behalf of prospective participants. It is, accordingly, appropriate that the legislation should provide for the award by the Minister for Finance, of a licence to operate the National Lottery to a body in which he can be satisfied that the public interest can be safeguarded.

I believe that all of that is very good. But the Minister is undermining his own statement by not "coming clean" as to how this lottery will operate. We have had representations from groups, charitable organisations and others who feel that their interests will not be safeguarded. But the central question is not that. It is: is the Minister going to use this lottery as a means to supplement Exchequer funds, without having regard to the needs which we would suggest should be covered by it? We would agree — there is no way around it — that there is no surplus money: if we were to pay our debts we would not have a penny. Our problem, in that climate and bearing in mind the considerations I have already mentioned and the experiences we have had up to now, is how the Minister is able to convince the officials in the Department of Finance and the Minister for Finance that the surplus funds from this lottery should be totally available for the specific purposes which have been outlined. There is practically no previous experience on which any one of us can rely on to indicate that that is what will actually happen. As far as we are concerned we would be very anxious to support the lottery and ensure that the funds which derive from it are used exclusively for the purposes which have been laid down. If we could be satisfied on that count the Bill would have our full and total support. It is the key question which, I consider, has remained unanswered.

I would therefore conclude by asking the Minister, if he wants to gain the trust which he mentions in his Second Stage speech, where he was asking the people to trust him that this will be what he purports it to be, to give it that additional strength by making a categorical statement to this House that none of the surplus funds, after the prizes have been paid for in the lottery, will be sucked into the Exchequer under the control of the Department of Finance, but that they will be specified, spent on and go directly into the areas covered in section 5.

In giving my full support to the concept of a national lottery, I welcome the fact that the Bill has eventually been put into legislative form and is before us for debate in this House. It is a matter on which our party, in particular, had many views to express as regards the desirability of this type of funding for specific projects. It is fair to say that in the preparation of the National Programme for Government, Building on Reality, when this concept came about, I was satisfied that our party had a major input in ensuring that legislation enabling this lottery to be set up would be introduced in the lifetime of this Government. It is because of that that I particularly welcome the Bill as amended. Initially, when the Bill came before the other House, there were certain sections about which we in the Labour Party in particular, had reservations. I want to thank the Minister for the removal of some of the sections which were worrying to members of our party. I am glad that the old section 15, which was in the original Bill, has now been removed. That section gave statutory control of wages but now the normal, accepted right of free collective bargaining is allowed to operate in the area of remuneration of people involved in the running of this lottery.

Having said that, our party were also aware that other governments throughout Europe, in America and elsewhere, have had the concept of a national lottery built into their budgeting arrangements over many years. These lotteries operated quite successfully. It was always a matter of mystery to us — particularly those of us who are members of local authorities — that we were always precluded from initiating the concept of a lottery to help to pay our way because the Irish people, by their very nature, enjoy "a flutter". They are not compulsive gamblers but they enjoy a bet. If that enjoyment can be linked to specific projects which will be of benefit to the community, then a dual purpose will have been fulfilled. The Prize Bond Scheme, which is not a lottery as such, and there is no gamble involved in it, has been extremely successful. An extraordinary amount of money has been invested by people in that scheme because they have the opportunity to win a prize which is tax free. I feel that the extension of that concept into a national lottery will have even better spin-off effects. The new section 5 specifically determines that the moneys shall be applied for the purposes of such one or more of the following, and in such amounts, as the Government may determine from time to time, that is to say, sport and other recreation, national culture, including the Irish language, the arts, within the meaning of the Arts Act, 1951 and the health of the community and any other purpose the Government may from time to time determine. All of us want to ensure that funds would be available to a much greater extent for sport of all descriptions than has been the case in the past. There are Senators here with a specific interest in sport and they will be making a case specifically for that, I am sure.

There is no doubt that the amount of money we have been able to allocate to sport and the promotion of sport has been negligible. It always amazed me that despite very little State support by way of assistance for training, facilities and recreation we have managed to produce some of the best sportsmen in the world and some of the best sporting teams in the world. Everybody welcomed the concept of a lottery which would channel more money into the particular area which would do our country credit abroad and at Olympic games and benefit our national sport also. I am satisfied that that is the cardinal purpose of setting up this lottery. It is accepted by most people that that is what it is about.

There is also the question of our culture, our heritage, including the language. I am thinking particularly about organisations promoting Irish music and culture which have had difficulties with the existing allocations that they get from the Arts Council. That body have been subjected to severe and critical analysis of their role and their functions and have suffered from a lack of finance from Government agencies. I felt they were entitled to funds. We had facilitated them in the past through the Funds of Suitors Act and through other non-statutory means. It is important when we are legislating here, to give them a slice of this cake as well. Nobody will object to that and many would welcome it.

I am not quite sure in what area health will benefit from this fund, whether it is in the area of advice or care. It is important that the Minister in his reply would be as explicit as possible as to how the various purposes which have been listed here will be allocated funds. I know how the money will be spent, it is a matter for an order laid before the Dáil, subject to Dáil scrutiny. Do I take it from the Minister that each Department which will be distributing the money under their jurisdiction will have a specific subhead written into their Estimates which will come before the Dáil for discussion but, will not come before this House as we have no input into a budget or departmental Estimates? It would have been useful if this House also had an opportunity for discussing how the money which will be collected will be spent.

I am disappointed that there is doubt in people's minds, particularly in the mind of the Opposition about how the money will be spent because in order to be successful the lottery must have the confidence of the people. If the electorate, as I will refer to them, consider that any Government will absorb some of the funds of this lottery into the normal day-to-day running of the affairs of State, the lottery is doomed to failure from the beginning. I hope that the discussion of the Bill in this House any doubts that might exist about how the money will be dispensed will be completely dissipated and every assurance humanly possible will be given so that we will start with a clean slate and the people will realise that if they support the lottery, they can get a certain amount of pleasure out of doing so with the possibility of winning prize money amounting to at least 40 per cent of the intake. To ensure that the intake is good enough will require the fullest support of the people and that can only be secured by reassurances from the Government that at no time will money be used by Departments for the normal day-to-day running of their Departments. If that assurance can be given we can be assured of a successful lottery.

I would like to deal briefly with the various submissions that were made to all Members of the House from existing voluntary agencies who depend on their livelihood and depend on the success of their enterprises, on lotteries, draws, raffles or anything else. This arises in the case of the very smallest clubs in our parishes and the national voluntary organisations which were dependent in the past on the generosity of the Irish people. I honestly do not feel that a national lottery will interfere at all with them. They are immediately successful because people know exactly what they are contributing to and they know that by buying a ticket for a draw for any voluntary organisation the money being collected, apart from the commission or the handling fee, goes directly to the benefit of the charity or other cause. The Irish Hospital Sweepstakes has been dramatically successful over the years basically because people felt that in some way they were helping the construction of hospitals or the hospitals programme. Dr. Noel Browne when he was Minister for Health was successful in ensuring that the Hospital Sweepstakes was widely subscribed to by people throughout the world and was associated with the racing industry. People subscribed to it because it benefited hospitals, and they had a chance of winning the sweep. The Hospitals Sweepstakes was so great that there was a certain amount of mystique about it. I would be sorry to feel that anything we are doing now would interfere with that concern and I sincerely hope that they will continue with their project although they have intimated that they will not. I hope they will because I can see a national lottery as completely distinct and separate from anything that has been run in the past. In every other country in Europe where a lottery is run, as far as I am aware it is run successfully.

It is important that the outlets that the Minister has referred to are accessible and readily available because if one sees an outlet and if one has £1 or £2 for a "flutter" and it is for a good cause, that is the time to have it. Otherwise, the Irish punter, as we would call him in the past, would have access to only a limited area in this regard. Again, the deposits made very rarely come back into society as a whole and certainly not into the area of sport, art, culture or health.

Perhaps the Minister might clarify for us his idea of how the allocations would be made in the area of health because of the problems that health boards are faced with in their budget restrictions. One would want to ensure that the national lottery would not be used to take up the slack in health boards. Certainly we would agree and commend the idea of subscribing to the Health Advisory Council or the Health Education Bureau because that could be of benefit to the people as a whole and could be linked to sport and recreation and other facilities which would be to the benefit of the nation as a whole. It would reduce the cost on institutional health care afterwards. With those comments I welcome the concept of a national lottery.

I welcome, too, the fact that An Post have been chosen by the Government as the authority they consider would have the greatest success in the area of sales and distribution and of the actual operation of the lottery. They have shown in recent times some imaginative ideas. I am satisfied that they will be capable of doing the job that the Houses of the Oireachtas will be placing on their shoulders.

It is important, too, to ensure that we do not legislate for An Post in this regard. This allows us the opportunity to review the process of how the lottery is worked. A time might arise when An Post might feel that it was a burden on them in some way and within the restrictions that might be placed on them as a semi-State company, decide some other agency should take on the job. By legislating for the type of organisation we want without naming them there, we are allowing ourselves a certain flexibility in the future to make any changes that might be necessary. In the meantime, it is important that we all know that in the initial stages at least An Post will be the agency involved. I am confident that they will be successful.

A figure of £20 million per annum has been mentioned as the amount that may accrue from this lottery. I have no doubt that Ireland will be a better and healthier country as a result of the benefits to sporting and recreational organisations of the proceeds from the lottery. I fully support the Bill and I hope the House will, too.

It is not for me to do the puritan but I think certain issues have not been addressed in the period since the proposal to introduce a national lottery. There are certain proposals which have been floating around for a long time and emanated from local authorities on occasions. Somewhere around £50 million is going to be generated in revenue which is going to work out, as Senator Ferris said, at around £20 million which is about 40 per cent of £50 million. Where is it going to come from?

This country is awash with economists who will tell us that you cannot create money out of nothing. If you are going to get £50 million from the Irish people, it is either going to come from surplus funds they have at their disposal, from a different choice of how to spend some of their current income or it is going to come by their biting deeper into what funds they have at the expense of one or the other of the necessities that they or their dependants may need.

There are very few people in either House who would suggest that Irish people, by and large, have any surplus funds available to them. I have not heard it said. I tend to be in a minority of people in either House who actually believes that it is possible to generate greater revenues from taxation from different areas. I would hasten to add that those groups and institutions I would identify as being capable of paying higher levels of taxation are most definitely not the sort who would be buying large numbers of tickets in a national lottery. I would identify corporation tax, capital tax and other taxes. We have to assume, therefore, that the ordinary citizen will be the one who will be buying these tickets. What we are now being told is that the ordinary citizen who, according to what we have being hearing for the past five years, cannot possibly afford to pay any more tax is now going to voluntarily contribute at least £50 million a year.

We have been told the reason he cannot pay any more tax is because he cannot afford it and because already people's living standards have been severely affected. We cannot have it both ways. If people are going to pay for a national lottery, the money is either coming out of what they cannot afford or it is going to be taken from something they are contributing to already. For instance, it may well result in people deciding to spend money on this lottery rather than on funds they traditionally give to existing groups. That is why some of the concerns of existing groups are legitimate.

The pitiful plight of the Irish Hospital Sweepstakes is one that comes to mind. I have enormous sympathy for the employees of that company, but far less for the group and one could almost say the family who have run that organisation for a considerable number of years and who, notwithstanding their pleas of poverty, have not yet impressed me that they have actually lost money out of the general business of running the sweeps for a considerable number of years. I will not abuse my privilege by naming the family. I do not think they have exactly gone poor or broke on the basis of their charitable impetus to run the Irish Hospital Sweepstakes. I am sorry for the employees of that concern if they do lose their jobs though I am not particularly sorry to see the Irish Hospital Sweepstakes departing.

There are many other voluntary organisations running greater or smaller lotteries who are quite rightfully worried that this new lottery will simply result in a transfer of funds from one hand to the other, funds which may or may not be recycled back to these bodies. At the end of it all everybody will be working much harder to get their hands on the same funds — if that is to be the case.

What I am concerned about is the alternative third possibility which is that we will end up spending more money out of people's very limited incomes on yet another inducement to spend money — the lottery. It will be visible and will be easily accessible, it will not have any upper limit. Its frequency of operation and the fact that it will presumably be a weekly draw is going to make it more tempting for people to spend far more money.

At least the sweep had the advantage of being an infrequent event and, therefore, people did not have a riveting interest of a weekly lottery to concentrate their attention. We are liable to end up with a transfer of resources from people who already cannot afford to maintain a reasonable living standard to areas which would be nice and proper and worthy of support but do not rate nearly as highly in my priorities as does the question of the basic standards of living of our deprived society. On the basis of studies so far, it appears that many lower income group people, given the misery of their situation, tend to spend disproportionate amounts on alcohol and gambling. That is apparently the case in respect of most household budgets, as surveys suggest. Not that these people would spend large sums in this way but they would spend proportionately large sums.

What we are talking about is gambling, a form of gambling sponsored by the State. We tend to brand our young people with terminology about sex and drugs and rock ‘n' roll. For most of our society the two great abuses which devastate families are alcohol and gambling. It is a fact of life in Irish society that alcohol and gambling can consume huge proportions of many families' incomes. We do strike quite righteous moral poses about the abuses of alcohol and we are deeply concerned about it. If somebody decided that the State should go on an advertising binge to encourage people to drink more because of the fact that it would generate masses of increased revenue, we would all work ourselves into paroxysms of moral indignation about how immoral that was. But we are launching into a national lottery — I do not want to strike a position of moral superiority — without any more than passing reference to the question of the fundamental morality of what we are doing.

One of our flaws as legislators is that, when it comes to morality, we think it only applies to one area of life and that once we get beyond the area of human sexuality it is a bit soft or lily-livered or almost effeminate to suggest that there is a morality which operates in other places. There is something immoral about families being left penniless because the income earner in the family cannot control an impulse to drink or an impulse to gamble. Therefore, when we as a society, choose to extend the opportunities for gambling we are taking decisions which have profound moral implications for society. It has been reported — perhaps, the Minister could confirm this — that one State in Canada which had a national lottery has actually abandoned it because of the damage being done to lower income families. The Minister can tell us if this is correct or not.

When we are talking about legalised State gambling on the scale of people spending the equivalent of £1 million a week on a national lottery, we cannot just pretend that moral questions do not exist. If I suggested that we should set up a legalised State brothel system, questions of morality would descend upon us like a shot. Or if I suggested we set up legalised massage parlours, questions of morality would be presented on the spot.

Gambling presents exactly the same moral questions. I do not believe in the State imposing moral values on anybody. But I believe legislators have no right to ignore moral values when making decisions. I have a good record of being, perhaps, excessively liberal, in some people's eyes, on what are regarded as the proper areas for morality. I have often suggested that we need to extend our perception of morality well beyond the traditional areas. In that extension of perceptions of morality we are beginning to face up to the fact that alcohol and its use in society has moral overtones and moral implications. It is about time, given our history as a gambling nation, that we faced up to the moral implications of gambling. There is more to it than seeing that we are a nation of gamblers and trying to redistribute some of the money being spent on gambling into, perhaps, more deserving areas.

For anybody who goes to race tracks frequently — I include myself in that — one of the more pathetic sights is the number of obviously close to penniless people who seem to be attracted there like bees to a honey pot to gamble what little money they have. A body was set up called Gamblers Anonymous because it is a recognised fact that gambling is as addictive as alcohol. Therefore, there are moral questions involved. We should address these questions. I am not going to say that I oppose a national lottery but there is a question of a profound and careful evaluation in the coming years of where the income for the national lottery is coming from, whether the national lottery is causing further addiction to gambling by greater numbers of people and consequential damage to women, children and to families.

It ought to be part of this legislation to do a social evaluation on the impact of the national lottery. It would be useful to require a small portion of the revenue to be recycled into evaluating who is buying national lottery tickets. Is it being funded by a general contribution of about 50p a week per head of population, which would generate £50 million a year, or is it being funded by a small number of people spending very large sums of money? If it turned out that most of its revenue was being generated from a small proportion of our population spending £10 or £15 a week on the national lottery, then we would all agree that there were serious questions of public morality involved in pursuing a course like that, however positive and beneficial the outcome would be in terms of where the revenue would be spent.

I would invite the Minister and the House to address the question of morality because there will not be an upper limit to the amount of money people can spend annually or weekly on the tickets. There will not be any physical barriers no more than there are physical barriers to people spending large amounts of money on horse racing. Other lotteries run by voluntary organisations, because of the nature of their method of collecting money, makes it more difficult to spend large sums of money. If tickets are going to be sold through large numbers of retail outlets, then it will be easy for people who are already addicted to gambling to find one more area to spend money.

We should attempt, with as much dedication as there has been to getting this lottery going, to ensure that there are no overwhelming social consequences to some section of our society. It will not be directly to the people who spend the money that the worst social consequences will be. It will be the victims of the gambling addiction as in the case of alcoholism at present. I have no objection to either drinking or gambling. But we must confront moral questions when they are presented to us. There is a moral question involved here. I regret that the guardians of the consciences of this nation both inside and outside these Houses seem to find it much easier to contemplate the sort of morality and fudging of morality that goes with gambling than they do about attempts to face up to certain difficult questions in other areas of life. It would have been useful to have moral guidance from those who claim the right to give us moral guidance, about gambling and the idea of a State lottery and the ideas and possible damage that can be caused by a State lottery.

I say that not because I want to throw cold water on the whole idea. If the national lottery turns out to be something in which the average citizen throws in 50p here and there and if there is no damage to existing voluntary organisations, then it is probably a good idea. But we will never know if we do not go and find out. We will never know whether a minority are addicted to the national lottery, spending vast sums of money which we will see will generate positive outcomes. We could end up using the revenue from the national lottery to remedy the damage being done by the national lottery. It is not inconceivable if damage on the scale that I would worry about is being done. Let us not forget that if everybody were to contribute to the national lottery, everybody would pay 50p a week. If half the population contributed it would be £1 a week, if it is a quarter of the population it becomes £2 a week. If it is 10 per cent of the population we are talking about people paying at least £5 a week. At that stage we begin to run into questions of morality. If people are spending £5 or £10 a week on a national lottery, it is extremely doubtful if, unless it is the upper income group who choose to do it, people can afford to be spending that much money on something as non-essential as the funding of a national lottery. I would invite the Minister and the Members of this House to confront the moral questions. I would request the Minister to consider — I do not think it even needs an amendment — the extraordinary powers he has under section 34. I was in the other House for the debate last night and it drew my attention to them. The Minister has powers to rewrite the Bill.

I accepted the amendment.

I apologise to the Minister. If it is a lot better than it was, then it must have been much worse that I thought it was. That is as good a political answer as I can give the Minister. I am sorry, Minister. I apologise. I did not realise that you had amended it. Nevertheless, that was by way of peripheral issue to what I wanted to say, which is that it does give considerable powers to the Minister. It could be possible for the Minister in terms of making it work or in terms of making regulations for the purpose of enabling this Act to have full effect. Maybe he can or cannot, but if he cannot he should consider some other way of doing it.

It ought to be part of the terms of reference of the institution of this lottery to study the social impact that it has on families and on society. It is an inadequate provision unless we are sure that it is something that is being indulged in on a small scale by everybody rather than being indulged in on a grossly inflated scale by a small section of our society, and in the process doing damage which will be entirely out of proportion to any of the good that it might have done.

I pay special tribute to the former Minister of State, Deputy Donal Creed, who was very committed to the concept of a national lottery during his period of office. It is unfortunate that he is not here with us today. By saying that, I do not mean any disrespect to Deputy O'Keeffe. I feel the reason that this Bill is with us is due in no small way to the commitment of Deputy Creed. During his period as Minister with responsibility for sport I felt that he put sport on a new plane. The function of the National Lottery Bill will be to generate surplus funds that will benefit our community in a number of ways without the need for recourse to taxation and revenue raising measures. I am very much in agreement with the general thrust of the Bill and the general philosophy behind the Bill. However, I have some fears and reservations about section 5. This has been debated thoroughly in the Dáil and mention was made of it again here today.

Section 5 states:

(1) Moneys paid into the Central Fund pursuant to section 8 of this Act shall be applied for—

(a) the purposes of such one or more of the following, and in such amounts, as the Government may determine from time to time, that is to say, sport and other recreation, national culture (including the Irish language), the arts (within the meaning of the Arts Act, 1951) and the health of the community, and

(b) such (if any) other purposes, and in such amounts, as the Government may determine from time to time.

I feel that that definition is far too broad. I could see that sometime in the future the Government could decide in any area where pressure groups put a sufficient amount of pressure on for funding. This is very dangerous. I am not in agreement with subsection (b). With regard to subsection (a) I would much prefer if reference was made only to sport and recreation rather than mention the remainder of areas, not that I have anything against the funding of national culture or the arts. Nevertheless, I feel that these should be funded adequately from Government resources as they are already there. By mentioning these, I feel that it takes away somewhat from the thrust and the effect of the Bill in the eyes of the general public and in the eyes of the punters, so to speak. Basically, most of the contributions and interest will come from the gambling community. Those people who gamble on horses also gamble on sport in general — soccer, Gaelic football and hurling, rugby. Those people would feel that their money would be going to the development of sport.

Section 5 should be looked at again and the areas mentioned should be restricted to just sport and recreation and delete entirely subsection (b). That is a very dangerous subsection; and, as somebody who has a very genuine interest in sport, I am in total disagreement with the powers it gives the Minister in respect of the disposal of any funds that will accrue from the national lottery. There is some disagreement about who first mooted the idea, but whoever did, did so in the interest of sport. Indeed, it was mooted at the beginning in order to make funds available for sport. We should not lose that objective. That objective should remain. There will be various pressures, as I mentioned already. There may be the danger of pressure groups getting at Ministers for special funding. I could envisage in time to come that the support for sport would be diminishing all the time because it has been the experience in this country that sport has always been the poor relation.

The situation has improved since 1980 because we had a succession, since the time of Deputy Jim Tunney, of very good Ministers for Sport. However, because of the scarcity of resources, sport is always the one to be left out and the area to get the least amount of public funding. For that reason I feel that by leaving section 5 as it is that it could endanger future funding for sport. That is why I am very wary of it and, indeed, opposed to it. This was and still is a major opportunity to put sport on a very firm footing. For years sport has been denied the type of support it deserves because of the importance and the impact it has for our society and the future of our society. It is vital that an assurance be given that sport and the recreational facilities will be the major beneficiaries from profits made.

Sport and recreation have always played a very important part in the history and culture of this country. I do not have to remind the House that through the centuries numerous references have been made by historians and by commentators to the important role sport played in the culture and the day to day lives of the people. Nevertheless, for that reason I feel that the national lottery should be solely for sport and for the development of recreational facilities. We cannot allow the opportunity to be missed. Whereas the Minister may have the right philosophy and favour sport, future Ministers could change the overall policy and place funds in other directions.

The 20th century has witnessed major development of sport, both on a national and global basis. Since the introduction of television and the coverage of the Olympic Games, World Cup Football, the Tour de France, golf competitions, cricket tests, rugby internationals and so forth, there has been a growing awareness and interest in sport.

Indeed since 1970 Ireland has witnessed a type of sporting revolution when people have taken to the roads and beaches, when people who were not normally interested in sport have taken up some sport. The general population have realised that in order to be a sportsman one does not have to be a footballer, a rugby player or a golfer but that sport is open to all. For that reason there is a demand for a wide variety of facilities in order to ensure that sports people from all backgrounds are accommodated.

We need so much funding in sport in order to provide even the minimum facilities to cater for such a wide-ranging interest in sport, that we would be justified in claiming that all revenue accruing from the national lottery should be donated to sport and sport development. No doubt the National College of Physical Education in Limerick which was set up in the seventies has been a major contributor to sport. Graduates from that college have created an awareness within the school system and in communities in general of the importance of sport and recreation. The health and fitness craze that grew during the seventies in America has also had a major impact here. Again, this has been communicated to us through health magazines and magazines such as The Runner and so forth and also by television, even by the American soap operas. The overall concept of health and fitness in Ireland is now reaching a very significant stage and it is important that it is encouraged, fostered and developed further.

Consideration must be given also to our very young and active population and also to the matter of the very high unemployment figures. In 1984 I introduced a motion on sport in this House and pointed out the necessity for larger recreational centres where in addition to the availability of swimming pools, sports halls, weight training facilities and fitness rooms there should also be provision for courses in the various skills that would help the unemployed. Unemployed young people could spend a whole day in these centres. It is commonly acknowledged that sport, recreation and fitness can act as a great safety valve for a society and can also reduce crime rates, vandalism and so forth. This gives further justification for increased funding in this area.

Senator Brendan Ryan mentioned the moral implications of gambling. If people are gamblers they will gamble their money anyway and there are plenty of opportunities to do this through horse racing, casinos, "one-arm bandits", "space invaders" and so on. Therefore, Senator Ryan's argument has no basis and I was disappointed in the main thrust of his speech. Though he claims to have an appreciation of the concept and the value of sport in our society, that it is not the impression one would get from listening to his contribution.

The idea of a national sports centre has been discussed extensively recently. Various groups and regions have put forward reasons for having it sited in their locality. No matter where it is set up it will be an important development for the future of sport and recreation and again I would request the Minister for Education, who will be responsible for the setting up of this centre, to give immediate attention to this task and to decide on a venue as soon as possible. I hope the centre will be located at some place outside Dublin.


No doubt the Minister will be making a case for Athlone.

There must be a case for Limerick because this would give additional recognition to the physical education college there. The expertise and facilities are already on the site available which is on the banks of the Shannon. There is an airport nearby and the road network in the area is good. All of those factors would justify the location in Limerick of the sports centre. The Minister for Education has said that it would spoil what is a very good college to locate the centre in Limerick but I cannot see any justification in that argument.

Mr. Cooney happens to live in Athlone.

Limerick has a very good case. I certainly hope that the centre is not located in Dublin. I know there are good reasons for having it centred in Dublin but everything is centred in Dublin at present and this is an opportunity to locate something outside of the capital.

When I addressed the Seanad on the motion on sport in 1984 I mentioned that there was a need also for a national sports assembly. On that occasion I said that this assembly could be a place where different sporting groups and organisations would be represented and that there could also be a resource library available on sport in general, on injuries, on training and coaching techniques, and so forth and that it could also act as resource library with material available for organisations around the country. Consideration should be given immediately to the setting up of this sports assembly. I would have no objection to such a sports assembly being centred in Dublin. It would be an attraction for visitors and tourists on the same lines as the National Museum and the National Art Gallery.

There must be a great case to be made for the setting up of such a sports assembly in this country. I know one has been set up recently in Victoria, Australia and it has proved very successful. It could act as an umbrella for all sport organisations. It could create the cross-fertilisation of ideas between various sporting organisations.

I should like to mention here the growing awareness of outdoor activity in the country. Some of the funds which will become available could be committed towards the development of outdoor activity centres. There is a very successful outdoor activity centre operating at Cappanalea, Killorglin in County Kerry. However, because of the lack of funding this centre is now on the point of closing. It would be a national disgrace if it were allowed to close. The reason for the problem is that the Department of Education have not recognised outdoor activity pursuit centres and do not allow, in this case, the VEC in Kerry to fund Cappanalea and to keep it in existence. The funding that the VEC are making towards Cappanalea at this stage is illegal. I am sure the Department of Education are throwing a blind eye to that. Nevertheless, it is a very uncertain type of footing to be on. It has created among the staff at the centre a sense of their not being looked after, a sense that they have no future. Such outdoor centres like Cappanalea and others throughout the country should be developed. Moneys from the national lottery could be put towards the development of these centres.

The development of outdoor activity centres could also have very good tourist potential. The centres could be made available also to foreign students or fishermen, for instance. Again, I do not have to remind you that the whole area of outdoor recreation and leisure is recognised now as the fastest growth industry in the world. With our environment and considerable natural facilities, Ireland could become a major outdoor education and recreation centre in the western world. Because of the very unsound financial footing of these centres proceeds from the national lottery could ensure that they be put on a firm footing and helped to develop.

When I mention sport, I would like to consider sport in a very wide spectrum and not confine our idea of sport to field games or to the traditional types of sport that we think of. The many different areas that we could invest money in would justify the spending in this sphere of whatever amount of money will accrue from the national lottery, be it £8 million, £20 million or £50 million.

Money should be spent on capital projects rather than making allocations available to individual sporting bodies for their day to day running. There would be dangers involved here. The Government should draw up some form of policy and identify what areas the money would go into so that the maximum benefit would be derived from any investments in the overall area of sport.

The proceeds from the lottery should not replace any existing funding and should not affect the allocations to Cospóir and the subsequent allocations which Cospóir make to various organisations. There could be a danger here that the revenue accruing from the national lottery would in some way justify a decrease in funding from central funds. Both must be kept separate. I would be looking for further and increased allocations to Cospóir in the years ahead.

There is reference in section 5 to health. I would regard sport and the provision of recreational facilities intrinsic to health. The amount of money spent in this country on curative medicine compared with preventive medicine is totally disproportionate. In countries like Australia that have a very high awareness of the value of sport and physical exercise, there has been a positive correlation found by various surveys which indicates that where money is spent on preventive medicine the overall health of the community benefits to the extent that there is less money spent on curative medicine. This is a major case for having large investment in sport.

Fears have been expressed that the national lottery will affect existing voluntary and charitable organisations. I do not share that view. There are provisions in the Bill to protect and enhance the position of existing charitable organisations. However, in his speech in here today, the Minister stated:

In the event that despite these measures, it can be shown that the net income to charitable and voluntary bodies from the lotteries they operate has declined as a direct consequence of the activities of the National Lottery, I have given an assurance in the Dáil that the Government will be sympathetic to their situation in deciding on the allocation of the National Lottery's proceeds.

There is an inherent danger in this statement. I could see the possibility that voluntary bodies, through lack of effort or because they had a bad year, could claim that whatever loss of revenue they suffer should be made up from the national lottery. The Minister may have many demands from a great number of sources for money to make up for shortfalls. This is a very dangerous commitment. I would prefer if that commitment was not made. It will lead to further pressure from various groupings. As we know, people are inclined to blame somebody when there is a shortfall in revenue. In this case it will be the national lottery. It is a case which is being made against the whole concept of the national lottery. Nevertheless, any charitable and voluntary organisation, if they work hard enough can still do well with their own fund raising events, as they have done in the past.

Senator Ferris has mentioned here, and I am glad of this too, that An Post have been given the licence to run the national lottery. This will put the national lottery on a firm footing. Mention has been made of public confidence and public trust. An Post have this respect. Giving the licence to them will ensure that the people will have confidence that their money is being properly looked after and that there will be no scare about it being misappropriated. It has been the experience of some organisations that people are not as trusting as they were in the past in giving money to them. On market day in most provincial towns, as I am sure is the experience of all of the Members here today one could be met by representatives from each of four or five different organisations collecting money. The public are becoming more wary of these collections. The entrusting of the national lottery to An Post will ensure public confidence in this venture. If people buy tickets they know the money will be used properly and will not be misappropriated.

An Post, since becoming independent, have proved themselves to be very effective with their marketing techniques. They have come up with some very innovative ideas. I am sure, that in promoting the national lottery, they will show the same type of initiatives and will try to promote it, not just in this country but among the Irish communities abroad.

I welcome the thrust of the Bill. It is a very imaginative approach, the type of approach we need in this country today in order to sort out our many problems. It is a great opportunity for sport. It is a great opportunity to put financial support for sport on a very firm footing for the future. It gives great hope to those people who are involved in sport, and who have devoted much of their time to the promotion of sport on a wide scale. The Minister must, as far as possible, ensure that sport will be the major beneficiary.

Senators from the opposite side of the House have again voiced their fears and opposition in relation to section 5. To a considerable extent, I am in agreement with them. Senator Smith has already mentioned the broadness of the terms of this section. I share his fears and I agreee with him that the areas referred to will have to be restricted and more clearly defined. The debate on Committee Stage is our last opportunity to ensure the clarity of the Bill. My amendment to section 5 of the Bill will be recommending that paragraph (b) of section 5 be deleted completely.

I welcome the Bill. It has been mooted since the early eighties. I am glad that it has been brought before the House. It is another victory for the Government in terms of what they committed themselves to.

Finally, I would like to mention Deputy Donal Creed, who deserves much credit for having ensured that this Bill is before us here today.

I would like to say that in general we are not opposed to the concept of a national lottery. The Bill is entitled:

An Act to provide for the holding by or on behalf of the Minister for Finance of a National Lottery, to amend the Gaming and Lotteries Acts, 1956 to 1979, and to provide for matters connected with the matters aforesaid.

As the Minister has said in his Second Stage speech national lotteries all over the world have been successful. He has mentioned that in European countries, for instance, there are very active and successful lotteries. These are in France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Spain and Portugal. Indeed, as he rightly says, in Britain the football pools are extremely big business. For very small outlays people can win huge sums of money. Equally, he mentions that there are very successful lotteries in many states of America. We often hear of people who travel to America buy tickets there and on returning tell us that they missed hundreds of thousands of dollars by single digits. We know that for small money huge prizes can be won. National lotteries are about many people participating for small stakes but with the possibility of big prize money. We know of jackpots worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in America and all over the world. Part and parcel of the attractiveness of lotteries is that small sums can bring in huge dividends.

There is no reason to suggest that a national lottery in this country will not be successful. We all know that the Irish people, by and large, like a little flutter. I know that the kind of people Senator Brendan Ryan referred to like to have their game of bingo or their bet on a horse or a dog. They bet small amounts. They are not compulsive or big gamblers because they do not have the money, but they enjoy their gambling and often have some success. Certainly, the kind of activity proposed in this Bill is very different from the gambling on one arm bandits and such machines. I saw the Acting Chairman, Senator Cregan, almost cringe when Senator Ryan compared the limited gambling of a national lottery with the morality of a brothel. That is indeed an absurd and unfair comparison.

In Ireland we have, very big, professional punters, as we have all over the world. Our own Grand National, bingo, tickets for our local draws and raffles, are all part of an Irish way of life. A national lottery will be well received. There is no reason it should not be successful, I do not know whether it will produce £20 million as had been said, there should be quite an interest in it.

Having made the point that we are not opposed to the concept of a national lottery our major concern clearly is section 5 of the Bill. The Bill in its original form was positively described as a Bill whereby the proceeds of the lottery would go to the general purposes as the Government may decide from time to time.

Subsection 1 (a) of the amended section 5 reads as follows:

Moneys paid into the Central Fund pursuant to section 8 of this Act shall be applied for—

(a) the purposes of such one or more of the following, and in such amounts, as the Government may determine from time to time, that is to say, sport and other recreation, national culture (including the Irish language), the arts (within the meaning of the Arts Act, 1951) and the health of the community, and...

This is the one that I certainly would disagree with, as indeed did Senator Deenihan. If Senator Deenihan puts in an amendment, which I am sure we will also, to have that section deleted he will have our total support; and, hopefully, Senator Deenihan will see his way to voting with us on that particular section. Paragraph (b) of the section says:

(b) such, if any, other purposes and in such amounts as the Government may determine from time to time.

I would have to argue that there is very little difference between what was in the original Bill and what is now in the amendment before us.

Paragraph (a) refers to the health of the community and, again, that has not been defined. But Senator Deenihan presumes, as indeed I would, that it is not, for example, about salaries of nurses or general hospital or community care. I must assume it is about health education and the importance of physical fitness in our community which in turn would lead to a better and a more healthy nation and that it would be a form of preventative health care. Certainly, we would not be objecting as we are.

Would the Leader of the House say what is the position regarding a break?

There is an indication that there are quite a few speakers who want to speak on this Bill now, so I propose that we would break for lunch from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended at 1 p.m. and resumed at 2 p.m.