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Mr. Swire: A number of confusing statements are coming out surrounding the Bill. As far as I am aware, Macmillan nurses are a charity, so I would be happy to put out a press statement tomorrow saying that they would get more money under the Conservatives' proposals. Given the confusion about additionality in particular, will the Minister undertake to speak with his Whips to ensure that we get more than the prescribed four days in Committee?
James Purnell: Clearly, that is a matter for the usual channels, but the Whips have been perfectly clear that the amount of time necessary for scrutiny will be granted. The delay until October is because of the link with the Olympics decision and to ensure proper scheduling of debates. We agree that the Bill must have proper scrutiny.
On Macmillan nurses, the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues opposed New Opportunities Fund money going on health and yet I have three examples of Macmillan nurses benefiting from NOF, with money spent on nursing care, on the Borders general hospital in Melrose and on a hospice in Moray. I presume that he agrees with such activities and that he therefore supports the idea of lottery money going on health.
Mr. Swire: I am not allowing the Minister to get away with this. The fact is that Macmillan nurses are a charitycharities are one of our original four pillarsand as such will be entitled to receive money.
James Purnell: It is a health charity that spends money on cancer, which clearly confirms that the Opposition's whole case has been blown apart as the hon. Gentleman thinks that money should be spent on health.
Mr. Horwood: I have worked with Macmillan Cancer Relief, which is a charity. The percentage reserved for charities under this Government has gone down from 20 per cent. to less than 20 per cent. and is now proposed to be abolished altogether. Under the current system, help would be given according to the charity's priorities, whereas under his system it would be given according to the Secretary of State's priorities.
James Purnell: No, the priorities would be those for which the charity had applied and which the distributors decided that they wanted to fund. [Interruption.] I will return to the matter later in my speech.
I accept the Minister's point that a significant proportion of the population would like to see lottery money spent on education and health. Can he
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tell me, however, what percentage of the UK population supports spending £1.5 billion of lottery money on infrastructure for the London Olympics bid?
James Purnell: The hon. Gentleman started off by wishing us all the best with the Olympics decision on 6 July, and the Government are united in support of our bid. I know that both main Opposition parties support us and that he does, too. If he wills the ends, he must will the means to have a fantastic Olympics as well.
On additionality, it is clear that the distinction should not be between the causes that we fund, but the projects. The attention of distributors should be focused on funding projects that are innovative, that pilot new developments, that do things that Government could not otherwise do, and that could bring organisations together in a way that Government might otherwise find difficult. I hope that I can reassure my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgend that that will continue under the Bill.
Let me deal with the issue of Government control, which was raised by the hon. Members for Cheltenham and for Hornchurch. It was claimed that the Government were seeking to control grants. That is the opposite of the fact. What happened was that people raised concerns about NOF having prescribed programmes set by the Secretary of State. We have listened to those concerns and, therefore, under the Big Lottery Fund, those decisions will be much further away from Government. The Government will set some high-level priorities and then it will be up to the Big Lottery Fund to formulate the programmes, as set out in the Bill. If we consider the new programmes put forward by the Big Lottery Fund, such as children's play, parks, support for the voluntary sector infrastructure, we will recognise that those are clearly additional and clearly welcome. I assume that the hon. Member for Hornchurch supports them. The whole thrust of the proposals is to put distributors further away from Government and closer to the public, and to give the public a much greater say in how these funds are spent. That is exactly rightit should be the public, not politicians, who have the keenest influence on how the money is spent.
I thought that the right hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May) was slightly churlish to say that the £65 million being spent through the People's Millions was a small amount of money. Most people would say that having £65 million allocated by the public is a very good initiative, and it is just the start of what we want to seewe want widespread consultation through citizens juries, through the telephone service and through whatever ways that distributors think are appropriate to ensure that they can properly reflect what people want. Therefore, the Bill puts distributors further from Government, much closer to the public and much further away from some Conservative Members' views, which we have established today.
On the critical issue of members of the public being more involved in the decision-making process, will the Minister join me in expressing some reservations about whether the internet can be effectively used in that respect given that socially excluded people do not have good access to the internet?
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James Purnell: Clearly, we must ensure that we consult the whole range of people and must not repeat the mistakes made at the beginning of the lottery, when only a subsection of the population was involved. My hon. Friend makes a good point.
On charities, I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgend has been reassured by what was said about the reserved amount for charities. We guarantee that between 60 and 70 per cent. of Big Lottery Fund grants will go to the voluntary sector, which is an increase. On lifeboats, I reassure my hon. Friend the Member for Blyth Valley (Mr. Campbell) that lifeboats can apply for grants. They have already received £2 million, and if he wants to write to me, I will be happy to examine the issue that he raised.
Finally, the hon. Member for Ludlow (Mr. Dunne) showed his keen interest in heritage, and he will clearly be campaigning on that during his time in the House. We have made it clear that the Heritage Lottery Fund will not lose any money under this Bill. I hope that he will be reassured that the power concerned would not remove any money from the Heritage Lottery Fundit is merely there as a backstop if people are failing to spend their balances.
We should give credit where credit is due. Many people have paid tribute to John Major and the previous Conservative Government for creating and launching the lottery. Clearly, we should repeat that tribute. The Major Government will be remembered for three things: the national lottery, Black Wednesday and the cones hotline. One out of three is not bad. I pay tribute to Chris Smith for bringing the lottery much more into line with the people's priorities. When we came to power, nearly half the value of lottery grants was going to London and the south-east even though they contain only a quarter of the population of this country. Clearly, that was a scandal. The Tories were on their way to ruining the national lottery. They were turning it into a lottery run by the great and the good, for the great and the good. Chris Smith put that right, and the Labour Government changed that, so that lottery priorities are now much more in line with those of the people. The amount of money going to London and the south-east is now in line with the number of people in London and the south-east.
This Bill will put the distributors at a much greater distance from the Government. It will give the public much more power. It merges three distributors into one, and it will save money to put back into good causes. It will raise confidence in the national lottery, and I commend it to the House.
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