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Mr. Don Foster (Bath) (LD): I am delighted to follow the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. David). The House owes him a great debt for raising several issues that are not covered in the Bill but which perhaps should be. I particularly welcome his comments on sustainability and support for organisations looking for match funding.
The Minister was not as brave as I am about to be in pointing out that when the national lottery, which he now champions so vigorously from the Front Bench, was first mooted and debated in this House in 1993, my Liberal Democrat colleagues and I, and indeed the Minister and his colleagues, voted against it. I am at least prepared to say, in view of all the very good work that has subsequently been done by the national lottery, that we may have made a mistake.
Hon. Members have already referred to the significant amount of good work that has been done with the nearly £17 billion expended since the national lottery came into operation in 1994. I noted with considerable interest the large number of projects mentioned by the hon. Member for Caerphilly that have benefited his constituency. The House need merely surmise what are the differences between his constituency, where a large number of small organisations have benefited, and that of the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant), who tells us that organisations in his constituency are having huge difficulties.
In my constituency, we have reaped enormous benefit from the national lottery. More than £50 million has been spent on projects as diverse as the new sports
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training village at Bath universitya facility that I am convinced will assist us in attracting visiting teams for the 2010 Olympics and Paralympics if we are, as I hope, successful in winning in the bid on 6 July. Money has gone to the Michael Tippett centre at Bath Spa university college, as has funding for what will, in due course, be our fantastic Bath spa project.
The national lottery remains enormously popular, and despite a dip in sales over the past couple of years, sales are again rising, with even more money going to good causes. However, that is not to say that everything is right with the lottery. The current Government's record is frankly disturbing. Time and again, they have breached the additionality principle set out by John Major when he first proposed the national lottery back in 1993. It is worth putting it on the record that the Prime Minister said:
The Minister, who is still with us, albeit at a distance, referred throughout his contribution to opinion polling. I remind him of the YouGov poll in The Guardian a couple of years ago, which showed that almost three quarters of the population believe that it is "vitally important" for lottery funds to remain independent of Whitehall interference. Yet we have witnessed Government interference. In my view, it is not surprising that the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport report of 200304 states:
The prime example of that breach of additionality was the establishment of the New Opportunities Fund in 1998. As we have heard, since that time, some £3 billion has been awarded to education, environment and health projects, including MRI scanners, and, as the right hon. Member for Maidenhead said, giving a piece of fruit a day to children aged four to six. Although no one doubts that those are worthy causes, do they breach the additionality agreement? I believe that they do. It was interesting that, when the Minister intervened on the right hon. Lady, he made it clear that that extent of Government interference would never happen again. That is a clear admission that the Government are guilty as charged.
Several debates could be held about the definition of additionality. The hon. Member for Rhondda rightly said that we need to tackle what we mean by additionalityeven Labour Members are uncertain and unhappy. I remind the Minister of the words of the former arts Minister, Estelle Morris. In an article in the New Statesman on 8 October last year, she said:
I therefore hope that the Bill will give us the opportunity to resolve once and for all what we mean by the additionality principle. I hope that we get a consensus and will perhaps consider doing exactly what the Minister said only a few minutes ago. He said from the Dispatch Box that future legislation should embody
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additionality. Those are his words, not mine. Let us hope that he will agree to include in the Bill something, which we can all support, about additionality. We can then expect the Government and future Governments to stick to it.
"Funding from lottery distributors must be additional to that which is properly funded by government and not a substitute for it. It should not be used to fund essential services or government-inspired programmes."
The last point is crucial and could form the new part of the definition. Such a definition of additionality, which implies that it is not for the Government to dictate on what lottery money is spent, would go a long way towards reassuring all parties and, more important, the people of the country who have said that they do not want Whitehall interference.
I hope that we will agree to do more about a recommendation from the Culture, Media and Sport Committee. It suggested that there should be an annual report to Parliament about the application of the additionality principle. I hope that we will accept that. I also hope that the Minister, or the Under-Secretary who replies to the debate, will assure us that, if the Government are so keen on separating Government funding and lottery funding, they might agree to produce their annual reports rather differently. The annual report currently conflates lottery money and Government money and makes it hard to understand which is which. It leaves open the opportunity for the Government to claim credit for projects that were funded by the lottery. That happens all too often. The school dinners project was one example of that.
Having said that the Labour Government have been guilty of dipping their fingers into lottery money and claiming the credit, we at least ought to put it on the record that the Conservative party is not as innocent as it would have us believe. I am sure, Madam Deputy Speaker, that you read, as all Members will have read in great detail, the Conservative party's manifesto at the last election. You will therefore have seen that that manifesto introduced a school sports scheme to be called "Club to School", with funding of £750 million. Where was that money to come from? The House has guessed itfrom the lottery.
We have already had debates about some good and bad aspects of the Bill. Of course, the Bill has some good points: it provides a legal framework for the creation of the Big Lottery Fund, which has already been created, but is a proper legal framework. While we opposed the creation of the New Opportunities Fund, continue to oppose it and believe that activities should no longer take place under the Big Lottery Fund, if the Government are to force the proposal through against our wishes, there will at least, as the hon. Member for Caerphilly pointed out, be benefits in terms of savings on administration and economies of scale amounting to between 10 and 20 per cent. of expenses a year, which would release £6 million to £12 million a year for good causes. We would prefer the NOF activities not to go ahead at all, but if they are to do so, at least that makes sense.
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I have one particular concern, and I should be grateful if the Minister would intervene to clarify the point. He, the acting chairman of the Big Lottery Fund and the Secretary of State have all said that they will make sure that 60 to 70 per cent. of BLF funding will go to the voluntary and community sector. I am grateful for those assurances, and I hope that the Minister will be prepared to include that in the Bill. What exactly does he mean, however? As the right hon. Member for Maidenhead pointed out, the Bill changes the definition in relation to areas of funding. It changes the definition of charitable expenditure in relation to lottery funding from expenditure by charitable, benevolent or philanthropic organisations to expenditure for a charitable, benevolent or philanthropic purposethere is a big difference between the two. The House will be aware that the provision of education is defined as a charitable purpose, which could mean that rather than going to charitable organisations, money could go to the local education authority sector for the provision of education. Will he therefore intervene and tell me whether or not that commitment of 60 to 70 per cent. is to be given to organisations? I am waiting, and he is not replying. We will get an answer at the end, and I look forward to it.
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