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Statement today by Labour leader Tony Blair on 'The People's Money': ...
Statement today by Labour leader Tony Blair on 'The People's Money':

'At the start of the election campaign. we said we would announce changes to the national lottery. Today we spell out those changes in full.

In just two years the national lottery has become a national institution.

There's scarcely a family in Britain that hasn't bought at least the occasional ticket.

People buy lottery tickets for two reasons. The first is that it's fun and they want to win. The second is to give to good causes.

Labour can't guarantee that you'll win. But we will guarantee your money goes to causes you care about.

Today we're setting out how we intend to start doing that - right after the election.

The popularity of the lottery means that, between now and 2001, the five good causes it supports are likely to get two and a half billion pounds more than they expected, a billion of it coming from the new midweek draw. But at the same time there is plenty of evidence that many people, and some parts of the country, are missing out.

That can't be right. It is the People's Lottery. It should address the people's priorities. It should make an impact on the lives of every man woman and child in Britain. That's what John Major promised when the lottery began.

We welcome the lottery's success. The five good causes - the arts, sports, charities, heritage, the Millennium - are all important. And they have had support in generous measure. But as lottery revenues grow it's time to rethink priorities, time to reform what should continue to be one of the most popular institutions in Britain.

That's why today we are announcing a major initiative that will bring benefit to people across the country. We will create a special fund with the proceeds of the midweek draw. It will be worth at least one billion pounds over the next five years.

And it will go to support what the great majority of people think the lottery should support - the most important things to us all - education and health. The People's Lottery. The people's priorities. It will not substitute for what the taxpayer does: it will add to what people get.

Education, education, education. Health. The People's Lottery, the people's priorities.

We want to see this new fund supporting innovative projects that fall outside the services normally provided by taxation.

We think it should be used to achieve clear targets over a limited period of time, so that it can be used to address issues of real concern to people.

This morning we are setting out four projects which capture the spirit of what this new fund will do. It's not an exhaustive list. It's illustrative. But each of the four meets a real and immediate need. Each one provides a launchpad to get new initiatives off the ground. We believe all of them will command popular support from lottery players throughout the country. And as each one achieves its target it will make way for another new project that responds to people's concern to raise standards of education and health.

The first is a crash programme to make sure that all our teachers have the skills and competence they need to take advantage of information technology in the classroom. We have already committed ourselves to funding this from the lottery once the Millennium Exhibition is over. Now we can bring it forward so this vital investment happens much sooner.

The second is a fund to support the growth of after school homework clubs. The most successful schools set the highest standards of homework and give their pupils an educational bonus with after-school sports and activities. We have already launched our plan to develop partnerships with Premier League football clubs to establish homework centres in urban areas. We want to encourage more schools and voluntary organisations to develop programmes of their own by giving them a startup boost.

The third is a fund to promote healthier living. In some parts of the country imaginative partnerships are being formed between health service professionals and local health and leisure providers. We want to see those alliances spread to every community, reaching out not just to the young and fit but to the elderly, too.

Finally, we propose to give a lottery-aided launch to our proposal for a national talent fund - a National Endowment for Science and the Arts. NESTA will be an independent charity which will encourage successful people in the arts and sciences to donate part of the proceeds of their talent to an endowment fund which will foster new talent for the future.

As you have heard from Anthony Minghella. NESTA has already been welcomed as an urgently needed source of support for some of our most talented young people. We think the new lottery fund should give NESTA a good start so it can begin to make an impact as soon as possible.

Today is good news Wednesday - good news for those who buy lottery tickets good news for those who want more money in education good news for those who want more money in health

good news for those who want to see their lottery money spent on good causes that benefit the many, not the few.

New Labour plans to make the midweek lottery a billion pound jackpot for the whole of Britain. The People's Lottery. The people's priorities.

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