1997 Onwards -
Below is the text of Sir John Major’s article on the National Lottery, published by the Sunday Telegraph on 24th August 2008.
SIR JOHN MAJOR:
One would need a heart of stone not to have enjoyed the wonderful British triumphs at the Beijing Olympics. Day after day, young British athletes have surpassed themselves and the whole country has been uplifted by their performances. As we celebrate the most successful modern Olympics we have known, we can marvel at the dedication of the athletes who have sacrificed so much in pursuit of their dreams.
But such commitment needs support. Athletes need gymnasiums, swimming pools, velodromes and running tracks upon which to hone their skills, and the Lottery has helped pay for them: talent is the first ingredient for Gold, but the best coaching and facilities are indispensable.
Of course, the purpose of the Lottery is much wider than support for our sporting elite -
And it has done so. Since its launch in 1994, over £21 billion has been distributed to over 300,000 local projects, as well as to the many mega-
But it is more than that. The provision of grassroots facilities for sport and the arts offers lasting social benefits. Where would we prefer our young people to be -
Lottery funding has also benefited our heritage and the arts, with repair and renovation to churches and ancient buildings, and encouragement of artistic talent.
And, at the top level of sport, we love to win. Our national characteristics may enable us to accept defeat with good humour, but we cherish success.
Success uplifts our nation: witness the impact of the Olympics, or the 2005 Ashes win or, sadly long ago, the 1966 World Cup win. We will enjoy more such triumphs only if we develop the grassroots of sport. And we love to celebrate our icons. The success of Freddie Flintoff or Chris Hoy or Rebecca Adlington, or the talents of Kenneth Branagh or Judi Dench, are more exciting to us than the activities of politicians or businessmen. If we nurture grassroots talent, a new generation of icons will surely follow.
The Lottery is more than a cash dispenser: it is a social tool and the present Government has a mixed record in caring for it. To their credit, they have widened the use of Lottery funds -
It is not easy to disentangle by how much the four main good causes have lost out, but it is literally billions over the last decade. At present, I calculate annual funding has dropped by about one-
What of the future? I would like to see Lottery proceeds returned in full to their original purpose so that sport, the arts, heritage and charities would each receive 20%. The final 20% could be ring-
I should also like the distributing bodies to set out their objectives for the next decade -
If Lottery largesse is to continue at a high level, prizes must remain attractive even though they are often controversial. I am not personally offended by instant wealth -
Over time, Lottery proceeds can further advance the renaissance of British sport and the arts; widen leisure for every age group; improve services for the disadvantaged; and repair our ancient buildings for future generations to enjoy.
My hope is that, with the help of Lottery funding, our 2012 Olympians may be able to build on success in Beijing, to win an even greater haul of medals on their own home soil.
I, for one, will be cheering them on.