Tories condemn Labour's lottery links

Tories warn of Labour cronyism in Big Lottery Fund
Tories warn of Labour cronyism in Big Lottery Fund

The Conservatives have condemned as "appalling" the revelation that almost half of the board members on the Big Lottery Fund are Labour party members.

The fund is responsible for distributing half of all money raised by the national lottery, about £630 million a year, and is run by a board of 12 members.

It emerged today five of these are also members of the Labour party, including the chairman, Clive Booth. There are no members of any other party on the board.

Shadow arts minister Ed Vaizey described the revelation as "appalling" and "astonishing" and accused the government of cronyism.

However, a spokeswoman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said the appointments to the Big Lottery Fund board were made in accordance with the code of practice of the commissioner for public appointments.

"Appointments are made on merit and the needs of the Big Lottery Fund board. Political activity plays no part in the selection process," she said.

The Big Lottery Fund has been controversial because it funds a number of health and education projects, including IT training for teachers and providing fruit in schools.

Critics argue the Treasury should fund these projects, not the national lottery, which was set up to help the arts and charity programmes.

Mr Vaizey told BBC News 24 that change in the use of lottery funding meant "by definition the Big Lottery Fund is a political fund - this is the thing that really outrages us".

He added: "I think if the boot was on the other foot and it was a Tory government that suddenly announced that a board distributing 50 per cent of lottery funds was pretty much made up of Tory members there would be an outcry."


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