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I hope that I was pushing my luck with great gentleness, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and that I was teetering on the borderlines of being in order, because there is a relationship between tax forgone and the concerns that are directly being debated today about heritage. Those things need to be considered together. One of the ways in which we could strengthen the Bill would be through tax forgone. I trust that the
Chancellorparticularly if he has wider ambitions in the futurewill realise the good and sensible ways in which he can assist without putting a further strain on the taxpayer.
To return to the heart of todays considerations, I hope that the Minister has taken on board some of the concerns from both sides. Although I welcome the general drift and direction that the Government are taking with the Bill, I hope that we are not going to fall into the trap of ignoring the needs of the culture of this country and that we will not sell future generations short.
Mr. Caborn: That was a tour de force of special pleading. There was some slight straying from the amendments [ Interruption. ] I will answer the questions. The hon. Members for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Field) and for Bath (Mr. Foster) have been involved in the passage of the Bill over many months and I welcome what they have said. We have responded to and rightly addressed some of the concerns that have been expressed here and in another place, and the amendments before the House reflect that. I do not say this disrespectfully, but some hon. Members who were not on the Committee may not quite appreciate how we have evolved the Bill. It was against the background of a wide consultation that we came to bring in the Big Lottery Fund and to give a clear indication to heritage, the arts and sport regarding their proportions and a clear ongoing commitment in relation to licensing and the proportions thereon.
I should tell my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mark Fisher) that, interestingly, there was strong support for heritage in that consultation. That is reflected in what we have said in the Bill about the arts, heritage, sport and the Big Lottery Fund. However, I am also bound to say that there was a tremendous amount of support for education and health. Sometimes we get those in a narrow band.
One of the areas in which the lottery has been hugely successful relates to sport, education and health. We have 3,000 or so school sports co-ordinators who are operating effectively in the 400 or so school sports partnerships. They were funded by the lottery, but because they became so important to that project and the development of the two hours of quality physical activity and sport for every child every week from the age of five to 16, that aspect has been taken away from the lottery and put into mainstream spendinginto Exchequer expenditure. Sometimes we can experiment and put pilot schemes in place to develop ideas and concepts, and the lottery can be a useful financial mechanism to do that. Eventually, the projects can transfer to mainstream spending.
It was clear from the consultations that people thought that it was useful to use lottery moneywe are talking about people who play the lotteryfor health and education and to have part of the funding from the lottery. That would be additional. I repeat that through the annual reports that will be presented to Parliament, the lottery distributors will have to show how they believe that that additionality has been used. Indeed, if it is the desire of hon. Members, that can be scrutinised. The measures in the Bill on additionality respond to many concerns that Members of both Houses have expressed.
It would be wrong to say that the Olympics will be a distraction. I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central is an expert on the history of art and heritage. Gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded in the ancient Olympics for works of art and culture. As we come up to 2012, I hope that we will see in this country the important cultural aspect of the Olympics that makes them successful. With the London organising committee for the Olympic games and other bodies, such as the nations and regions committee, the Government intend to ensure that the Olympics are not London-centric and that we use the vehicle of the Olympics to bring art and culture, as well as sport, to all parts of the kingdom. It is pleasing that the trust that we are setting up with lottery money from not only the Millennium Commission and the Big Lottery Fund, but the arts lottery, is seen as a good way of using the platform of the Olympic games to get out to the British people. Money is being used in many and varied ways, so there are dangers in trying to departmentalise through legislation, as hon. Members sometimes try to push Ministers to do. The Olympics will be used for not only sport, but art and heritage as we move towards 2012.
I do not know whether the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) has read the draft statutory instrument that we have published alongside the Bill. Hon. Members said that they wanted to read such a document, so we have produced a draft order on national lottery prescribed expenditure. I will not read it out, but I hope that it gives the House a guide to the measures that we would expect to be in such affirmative statutory instruments. I think that right hon. Gentleman shakes his head, but the draft is a good guide to what we are trying to do. We are trying to be as transparent and open as possible. I hope that the House will support the motion.
The Governments amendments concern the proposed reserve power to reallocate an excessive national lottery distribution fund balance from a lottery distributing body to another body. The
proposed new power has been the subject of extensive debate at all stages of the Bill both in this House and in another place.
Ministers have given repeated assurances that the Government would seek to use the proposed new power only as a last resort against a distributor that had failed over an extended period to tackle an excessive NLDF balance and had refused to take steps to manage that balance down to a reasonable level. Those assurances were not accepted by some Members, particularly those in another place, which is disappointing to me as it feels like an attack on my integrity, and I am deeply hurt. To get into such a dismal position a distributor would need to have ignored not just the Governments guidance, but, as I have said on a number of occasions, the recommendations of the National Audit Office and the very powerful Public Accounts Committee.
I emphasise again that at the moment I am very pleased with the progress that distributors have made to get lottery money out of the bank to where people need it to do good. As things stand there is no question of our exercising the reallocation power in relation to any of the distributors.
The Heritage Lottery Fund has often been mentioned in our debates. I want to pay tribute to the trustees of the Heritage Lottery Fund and their chair, Liz Forgan, for their wisdom in choosing the best projects to support. They have balanced care in the selection process with a higher rate of spend, and they have reduced the balance from a high point of over £1 billion in early 2003 to just under the target of £800 million by the end of the 2005-06 financial year. In the two months to the end of May the balance came down by a further 4 per cent. to around £764 million. That is a significant achievement by the HLF, and I understand that it plans a further significant reduction in the balance over the next three years or so. That is genuinely to be welcomed.
No distributor that manages its balance down in a sensible way has anything to fear from the proposed reallocation power. I should also remind hon. Members that the power is framed so that it cannot be used to transfer lottery proceeds away from any one good cause, whether it is the arts, sport, heritage or causes supported by the Big Lottery Fund. It can be used only to transfer a balance from one body to another within the same good cause.
In the reallocation power as framed in the Bill as it left this House, the Secretary of State would not have been able to exercise the power without first consulting the body from which the NLDF balance, or part of it, was to be transferred, and the body to which it was proposed to reallocate that money. The Secretary of State would also have been obliged to consult the devolved Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Neither of these requirements has changed. Nor was there anything in the Bill as it left this House to prevent the Secretary of State from consulting more widely if she so wished. The Government fully recognise that there would be legitimate wider interest in any proposed use of the new reallocation power.
Any use of the new power would be subject to affirmative resolution. There would be no question of the Government being able, somehow, to exercise the
power in secret or without giving people time to make representations. However, there was no provision specifically enabling the Secretary of State to consult more widely. The desirability of clarifying that point was pressed on the Government at various stages of the Bills passage in another place, and, indeed, in Committee in this place. In response, the Government agreed to table appropriate amendments to require the Secretary of State to consult more widely before she can exercise the reserve power to reallocate balances. I trust that hon. Members will agree to amendments Nos. 3 and 4.
On amendment No. 5, I think that there is now general agreement about the benefits of wider promotion by lottery distributors of the benefits of the lottery good causes funding. Our research tells us that people are much more supportive of the lottery and its benefits when they know how the money has been spent and why. But concerns have been expressed both in this House, notably by the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster), and in another place about the original drafting of new section 25E(c) of the National Lottery etc. Act 1993, inserted by clause 11, which refers to
encouraging participation in activities relating to the National Lottery in general.
There was concern that that could give lottery distributors the power to encourage people to play the lottery, but we have repeatedly pointed out that there was no such intention on the Governments part. We included that provision because we wanted to make it clear that lottery distributors have the power to encourage participation in activities related to the promotion of the lottery good causes funding, such as national lottery day and the national lottery awards. Those activities are more successful in conveying the way in which lottery money has been used if more people become involved. That is different from merely publishing information about the way in which the good causes money is spent, although it is still related entirely to the good causes funding. Hence the amendment, which makes it clear that the encouragement activity is restricted to
distribution of money under this Act.
Mr. Mark Field: As the Minister pointed out, Lords amendments Nos. 3 and 4 require the Secretary of State to consult other persons as she thinks appropriate in the extreme circumstance that she decides to exercise the balance relocation power in clause 8, which is a common-sense safeguard. Similarly, the Government proposal in Lords amendment No. 5 to make it clear that the powers in clause 11 cannot be used by lottery distributors simply to promote their own lottery games makes sense, especially if there is to be more effective competition in the lottery in the next decade. We welcome those minor amendments, and we will not press them to a vote this afternoon.
As we are debating national lottery issues, I wish to put two of the Oppositions longer-term concerns on the record. Like the Secretary of State, I am a London Member of Parliament. Our capital city has every reason to be proud of securing the Olympic games for
2012, but I agree with a number of concerns expressed by the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mark Fisher). Serious questions remain about the means of funding the Olympic games. Given the track record of all recent Olympiads, with the exception of the two held in the United StatesLos Angeles in 1984 and Atlanta 12 years laterthere is a significant likelihood of a substantial cost overrun. One need only look at the experience of the hapless council tax payers of Montreal who, 30 years on, are still paying the price of their Olympic games, to understand that risk. Even the much admired Sydney Olympics six years ago cost almost three times as much as the initial budget. As the Minister will be aware, the current arrangements place the burden of any cost entirely in the hands of London council tax payers. Realistically, for political as well as economic reasons, that is unlikely to come to pass. There is little doubt that a cost overrun will partly be met by the national lottery
Mr. Field: You are right to upbraid me, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It may even be a fifth reading speech, given the length of my contribution. As I have just used the words, national lottery, you can be assured that I shall address one or two issues to do with the lottery.
While welcoming the capping of liabilities for many central London constituents, I am deeply concerned that countless millions of pounds of lottery money earmarked for arts, heritage, charities and general sporting expenditure may be transferred to an avaricious London Olympic monster. The Opposition are concerned about plans for the hypothecation
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I have been generous in allowing the hon. Gentleman to express one concern, but we must maintain the general rules on keeping the debate in order. The hon. Gentleman would be out of order if he proceeded to make more general comments than this group of amendments will stand. I therefore suggest that he wind up his remarks quickly.
Mr. Field: Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for your comments. I understand what you are saying, but I simply wanted to say that there is a strange paradox. We have discussed the tick-box culture and the hypothecation of the national lottery, so it is important that the Government accept the Lords amendments and the independence of the operation of the Big Lottery Fund. Distributors should be free from political interference, otherwise I fear that many initiatives would be open to hypothecation.
As the Minister is aware, the bidding process for the third franchise, which now involves a 10-year term rather than a seven-year term, is already under way. The decision will have been made by this time next year, with the new lottery term beginning in February 2009. I hope that in the next six months we can debate in Government time the broader national lottery issues that I have tried to touch on in this brief contribution.
As I have said, the Opposition have no objections to this group of amendments. I suspect that the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) has a few more words to say, although I do not want to steal his thunder.
Depending on the decisions in another place, it seems likely that this will be the last occasion when the Bill is debated on the Floor of the House. The Minister has been robust throughout our deliberations and seemed to be fearless, so I was surprised when he became over-sensitive at the last minute because he thought that Opposition Members were impugning his integrity in connection with the Secretary of States powers to redistribute lottery distributors balances.
Lest the Minister become too over-sensitive, I should explain that I wanted to ensure that the Secretary of States powers were limited and that consultation took place before the Secretary of State made any such decision. That seemed reasonable at the time, and I am delighted that the Minister now says that it is reasonable; if that were not the case he would not have tabled amendments that do exactly the same thing as our proposal many months ago. I am delighted that the right hon. Gentleman has had a change of heart, and it was unnecessary for him to be over-sensitive.
I welcome the Ministers comments about the Heritage Lottery Fund. This is the first time that we have heard praise for the work of the HLF during the passage of the Bill. I am delighted that the Minister has praised its work, and he is right to say that it also deserves praise for its work to reduce balances. However, he must know that it operates in a different environment from other lottery distributors, so it is not surprising that its balances are different from theirs.
Finally, I thank the Minister for at long last accepting the amendment, which I initially introduced, that would restrict lottery distributors from promoting the playing of the lottery. He is right to say that it is critical that the public should know how their lottery money is being spent, which is why I welcome the work of all the distributors on the blue plaque scheme, on informing Members of Parliament about their work, and on promotional advertisements to make sure that lottery players know where their money is being spent.
My key concern is that we should never get into a situation in which members of the public believe that if they want to give money to a good cause, the most efficient way to do so is by playing the national lottery, because playing the national lottery is, in fact, an inefficient way to give money to a good cause. If a person wants to be inefficient, they can give £1 to the national lottery, of which 28p will go to a good cause, but if they want to be efficient, they can give £1 directly to a good cause, which can use gift aid to pick up £1.28. Distributors should not therefore promote playing the national lottery. At long last, the Minister has seen the need to address that matter in the Bill. I am delighted that he has done so, and I support the amendment.
Committee appointed to draw up Reasons to be assigned to the Lords for disagreeing to certain of their amendments to the Bill: Mr. Richard Caborn, Mr. Mark Field, Mr. Don Foster, Nia Griffith and Huw Irranca-Davies to be members of the Committee; Mr. Richard Caborn to be the Chairman of the Committee; Three to be the quorum of the Committee .[Huw Irranca-Davies.]
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