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I suppose that this would be a good time to thank all those who have been involved in the passage of the Bill, so I start by thanking the members of the Committee and all hon. Members who contributed on Report and, indeed, on Second Reading back in the summer. I especially thank the hon. Members for East Devon (Mr. Swire) and for Bath (Mr. Foster), who led for the Opposition in Committee and, in the latter case, on Report. Both hon. Members were nothing but dogged in their determination to test me on certain points. Hawkeye, as the hon. Member for Bath is now called, must undertake midnight reading of explanatory memorandums to ensure that everything is right with that as well. Of course, the doggedness of the hon. Member for East Devon actually paid off, and I would seriously like to congratulate him on his promotion to shadow Secretary of State. As I said earlier, I welcome the hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Field) to his post and have no doubt that we will clash over the Dispatch Box in the future.
The National Lottery Bill has been debated for a long time, as the hon. Member for Bath said. When we look at legislation in great detail, it is easy to lose sightas we sometimes do in Committeeof the overarching principles. The Bill will allow money to go to the good causes that are funded by the lottery. The formal creation of the Big Lottery Fund out of the merger of the Community Fund and the New Opportunities Fund, and the dissolution of the Millennium Commission, will yield a predicted £6 million to £7 million a year more. That money will be available to be spent across a range of good causes. It is good to be able to say to our constituents that more money will be available. We all know of many examples in our constituencies whereby lottery funding has made a difference to the lives of individuals and, on many occasions, to communities as a well. Once the Bill is passed, we can look forward to our constituencies receiving even more money from lottery funding and to the lottery as a whole becoming more open and responsive to those who play it.
By enabling the public to have a say on lottery awards and the awards made in their communities, we will build on their confidence in the lottery. I can only reiterate that people vote with their feetor their pocketsand if that can be taken as a sign, then the lottery is in good health. I said in Committee that the lottery came on to the statute book under a Conservative Administration. We have modernised it, and it is something of which we can all be proud. The lottery is now an institution. It is well respected, which is why people continue to play it. All the indications that we got from the consultation are that it is well respected and is doing a good job.
There have even been lottery funds for the constituency of the hon. Member for Broxbourne (Mr. Walker). The heroes return programme allows people
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who saw active service during world war two to fund commemorative visits. Of his constituents, it enabled six veterans, one widow, three spouses and seven carers to travel to France. That is what the lottery is all about. It can make all the difference to such brave people. Although the programme received a small amount, it probably changed, or at least enriched, their lives in a way that nothing else could.
The Bill exemplifies what we always say: that the lottery has been, and will continue to be, independent of the Government. It also paves the way for a streamlined and easier application process for lottery grants with the one-entrance approach. Stephen Dunmore and the staff at the Big Lottery Fund are working hard to ensure that once an application is made, it gets to the right department in an efficient way.
Under the Bill, the Government will take a lighter touch at the highest level on directing the way in which lottery money is spent. In addition, through the Bill, we will underline our commitment to ensuring that lottery money gets out of the door and into communities where it can do good as fast as possible.
Mr. Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): When I was canvassing a few years ago, I knocked on a door that was opened by someone who said, "You Tories are wonderful", which was not the usual response at the time. He continued, "You brought in the national lottery and we won £50,000."
However, my serious point is that two villages in my constituency, Wollaston and Irchester, want to build a community hall. They have been turned down by the lottery, and I do not understand why. Does the Minister think that the Bill will make it easier for them?
Mr. Caborn: Very much so. I hope that the one-door approach to the Big Lottery Fund will help those villages. It will be able to solicit applications and give advice, which will also help such applications. The lottery has evolved over the decade or so in which it has been in operation, and it is now sensitive to such needs. I am not saying that it is perfect, because it will not be, but we will continue to review it against the background of the consultation. The Big Lottery Fund fits in with the public mood. It is important that it is transparent and has credibility and integrity, because then people will continue to play it. That is why it is the great institution that it is. All in all, the Bill creates a framework that will allow the lottery to continue to be modern, dynamic and successful, so I am delighted to commend it to the House.
Mr. Mark Field: It is a great pleasure to make my Front Bench debut speaking on the culture and arts brief. I noticed with horror, however, that in my previous incarnation as the shadow Minister for London and the shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury I confessed on my website to a cultural expertise that extended only to a passion for rock and pop music. I will have to do better in future.
Indeed, but I will have to do better in future, not least because the Royal Opera house and the
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Royal Albert hall are both in my constituency. As the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) and the Minister pointed out, the Bill's passage has been long and drawn out. Second Reading took place as long ago as June, and the Committee stage meandered through October and November. As a conscientious Opposition, we have endeavoured to table reasonable amendments, and I thank my hon. Friends the Members for Windsor (Adam Afriyie), for Isle of Wight (Mr. Turner) and for Broxbourne (Mr. Walker) for their sterling efforts in Committee.
While some progress has been made, we remain concerned about a number of provisions in the Bill that undermine the fundamental principles of the national lottery. We shall continue to oppose in the strongest terms the vastly increased Government control and direction over the distribution of lottery funds. It is unacceptable that money should be withheld from the original deserving causes to be channelled into areas for which state funding should be preserved. Furthermore, the lottery was set up to improve the daily quality of life for all people in Britain by earmarking funds for activities that might otherwise be neglected in the everyday distribution of tax receipts.
In short, the flagrant breach of the additionality principle has fuelled the public's faltering confidence in the lottery. Controversial awards are always meat and drink to an ever more voracious press, but a strict focus on directing lottery receipts to the arts, heritage, sport and charity would doubtless minimise such criticism. Additionality is a principle that has been widely recognised, and political concern about it took up a significant part of our debates both on Report and in Committee. There is no doubt in our mind that the Big Lottery Fund has been used and, we presume, will continue to be used to replace core Government expenditure. We therefore sought to introduce a new clause that would provide a double lock in an effort to apply the principle that lottery money should not be spent on the services and works that are usually provided by Government. That applies not only to the Secretary of State in her activities but to the distributing bodies in their strategic plans. The additionality principle is central to all that is best about the national lottery, and it is highly regrettable that the Government have sought to flout it.
It was understood by Members on both sides of the House when the original lottery legislation proceeded through Parliament that Governments of whatever party should maintain an arm's length relationship with lottery operations and, perhaps more important, all aspects of grant distribution. Since 1997, however, there has been a systematic and presumably focus group-led strategy to allocate lottery money to projects whose funding should be the responsibility of the Government. When the Millennium Commission was wound up in 2001, its one-fifth share of lottery funds was transferred to the New Opportunities Fund, thus accounting for one third of good causes money in health, education and the environment. Inevitably, the strain on the public purse has resulted at the very least in the emergence of a grey area, with health and education funding for projects divided between departmental budgets and New Opportunities Fund expenditure. Expenditure on healthy living centres and a programme to provide cancer equipment in England has taken up almost
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£400 million of lottery resources, which has been spent on projects that, arguably, should be regarded as mainstream NHS responsibilities. The same applies to the information and communications technology training for teachers and the school librarians initiative and the out-of-school-hours learning programme, which account for a similar aggregate sum in education.
The Conservatives would like a more transparent system. The Big Lottery Fund has been charged over the past 18 months with the distribution of half the good causes money from the amalgamation of the New Opportunities Fund and the Community Fund. We believe that the latter should be restored, and that by scrapping the Big Lottery Fund we would save some £450 million, which would be released annually for charities, sport, arts and heritage.
We appreciate the need for a special London Olympic lottery initiative before 2012, but otherwise we favour a system granting 25 per cent. of lottery funding to each of the four pillars of the lottery that I just mentioned. That would help restore confidence in a distribution process that has increasingly become discredited in the eyes of the general public. Indeed, the Conservatives estimate that the four original causes have missed out to the tune of £1.29 billion in the five years to 2004.
We remain doubtful of the Government's wisdom in inserting clause 19 to widen the definition of charitable expenditure. We hope that a full debate will take place on the matter before the Bill goes to another place.
Where does the national lottery go from here? I have a small confession to make. I am one of the small minority of people who have never played the national lottery. [Hon. Members: "Shame!"] That is not because of my technical inexpertise, but I have always regarded it with a somewhat puritanical eye.
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