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Standing Committee Debates

Draft Big Lottery Fund (Prescribed Expenditure) Order 2006

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chairman: Sir Nicholas Winterton
Allen, Mr. Graham (Nottingham, North) (Lab)
Caborn, Mr. Richard (Minister for Sport)
Corbyn, Jeremy (Islington, North) (Lab)
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H. (Central Ayrshire) (Lab)
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias (Bournemouth, East) (Con)
Etherington, Bill (Sunderland, North) (Lab)
Field, Mr. Mark (Cities of London and Westminster) (Con)
Fisher, Mark (Stoke-on-Trent, Central) (Lab)
Foster, Mr. Don (Bath) (LD)
Irranca-Davies, Huw (Ogmore) (Lab)
Mahmood, Mr. Khalid (Birmingham, Perry Barr) (Lab)
Mann, John (Bassetlaw) (Lab)
Marsden, Mr. Gordon (Blackpool, South) (Lab)
Sanders, Mr. Adrian (Torbay) (LD)
Stuart, Mr. Graham (Beverley and Holderness) (Con)
Walter, Mr. Robert (North Dorset) (Con)
Wilson, Mr. Rob (Reading, East) (Con)
Frank Cranmer, Committee Clerk
† attended the Committee
The following also attended, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(2):
Keeble, Ms Sally (Northampton, North) (Lab)

Third Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation

Monday 30 October 2006

[Sir Nicholas Winterton in the Chair]

Draft Big Lottery Fund (Prescribed Expenditure) Order 2006

4.30 pm
The Chairman: In saying this I shall be entirely out of order, but I rule whether we are out of order, so I shall not rule myself out of order. I wish publicly to pay tribute to Frank Cranmer, our Clerk today. He will be leaving the House of Commons at the end of the week, and I wish to put on record that he has been an outstanding servant of the House and to Members of Parliament. We shall certainly miss him. As a member of the Chairmen’s Panel I shall personally miss him very much indeed. We wish him every success for his future. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”]
The Minister for Sport (Mr. Richard Caborn): I add my congratulations to Mr. Cranmer. As you well know, Sir Nicholas, I was Chairman of a Select Committee for a good number of years. A big mistake that I made was when I got mixed up between the employees of the House and civil servants. I was told in no uncertain terms, “We are not civil servants. We are servants of the House.” That is a great tribute to people such as Frank Cranmer. I wish him the best of luck for the future and thank him for all his dedication as a Clerk of the House of Commons.
I beg to move,
That the Committee has considered the draft Big Lottery Fund (Prescribed Expenditure) Order 2006.
Following the National Lottery Act 2006, which received Royal Assent in July, we aim to make the Big Lottery Fund fully functional on 1 December. That will also be the date on which the distributors—the National Lottery Charities Board, the Millenium Commission and the New Opportunities Fund—will be dissolved. To enable the Big Lottery Fund to start distributing money from that date we need to make an order under section 22(3A) of the National Lottery etc. Act 1993 and issue new policy directions under section 36E of that Act. The order will allow the Big Lottery Fund to distribute money to good causes that are
“charitable or connected with health, education or the environment”.
It will largely enact within the new legislative framework the interim orders that we made last year on the New Opportunities Fund. It is almost identical to the illustrative order that we made available to the House during the passage of the 2006 Act. It will ensure that the Big Lottery Fund can fund exciting and worthwhile projects, making a real difference to communities the length and breadth of the United Kingdom.
The order also specifies one type of non-devolved expenditure: transformational grants. They are defined as expenditure that is
“intended to transform communities, regions or the nation as a whole.”
It will be delivered by the Big Lottery Fund through its living landmarks and people’s millions projects.
Let me remind the Committee why we sought the power to prescribe types of expenditure for the Big Lottery Fund. The new Big Lottery Fund good cause is broad in scope and large in terms of the percentage of lottery money allocated to it. It is different from other good causes such as arts, sports and heritage, which are more narrowly prescribed areas. Without the ability to prescribe types of expenditure, the fund would be given 50 per cent. of all the lottery good cause money to spend on anything that is charitable or connected with health, education or the environment, without further recourse to Parliament. We did not believe that to be sensible. That is why we sought the power to set out at the highest level the types of expenditure that the fund should focus on.
The order reflects our policy to adopt a less prescriptive approach with the Big Lottery Fund than we did with the New Opportunities Fund. It sets out only broad and high level themes of funding. In contrast, NOF orders often set out relatively narrow funding initiatives, detailing the specific outcomes to be achieved and the way in which those outcomes should be achieved. Under this order and the accompanying policy directions, which we have also made available to the House, the Big Lottery Fund and not the Government will make all the important decisions.
The fund will have sole responsibility for deciding on programmes, choosing delivery mechanisms, identifying partners and selecting projects. I must stress that less prescription does not mean a lack of clarity. The terms used within the order are understood by the fund and the wider voluntary and community sector that it funds.
We consulted widely with lottery stakeholders on the interim orders and directions issued to NOF last year, which are almost identical to this order, and on the draft directions to be issued by the Big Lottery Fund. Furthermore, they are identical to the illustrative big lottery fund order and directions we made available during the passage of the 2006 Act. Therefore, on this occasion we were conscious of the need to avoid consultation fatigue, which we have been accused of on a number of occasions, as the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) knows, given his contribution to the Financial Times the other day, but we will leave that as an aside. We did not think another full consultation was warranted, although I have no doubt that the hon. Gentleman will tell us it was, and we agreed with those outside who live in the real world rather than those who debate such points in the House.
We have therefore limited consultation this time to the statutory requirements, the Big Lottery Fund and the devolved administrations. I must stress, however, that we remain committed to our policy of increasing transparency as we move forward to the Big Lottery Fund.
It is important to keep in mind why we are introducing this order. It is needed so that the Big Lottery Fund can fund its new programmes. The fund hopes to launch all of its new programmes by the end of the year. The new programmes reflect two rounds of public consultation and as they are developed, the fund will continue to involve stakeholders.
Underpinning all programmes is the fund's mission to improve communities and the lives of the people who most need it. Programmes deliver the funding themes set out in this order. They will also help achieve the four outcomes and the funding priorities set out in the policy directions.
The fund has said that it will distribute no less than one third of funds via demand-led programmes, which encourage organisations and groups to advance their own ideas and local solutions for funding. It has also given an undertaking that 60 to 70 per cent. of its funding will go directly to voluntary and community sector organisations.
This statutory instrument will allow the Big Lottery Fund to continue to fund its new programmes and distribute money to deserving projects all over the UK. I commend it to the House.
The Chairman: I am grateful to the Minister for introducing the order. Before I call the Opposition spokesman, I point out to members of the Committee that the draft order is what I would describe as fairly narrow. From the Chair’s point of view, it would be difficult to have a sensible debate on this order without perhaps raising, en passant, the more general issue of how money from the lottery is being used. I am not tempting members of the Committee to launch into detail, but I am prepared to use my discretion from the Chair to have a slightly wider debate than the order might in normal circumstances allow.
4.39 pm
Mr. Mark Field (Cities of London and Westminster) (Con): May I associate Opposition Members with the kind comments made about Mr. Cranmer on his impending retirement? Who knows—given the rush of statutory instruments in the last week of term, there may be one or two more to come before his retirement is upon us. I also, Sir Nicholas, assume that the rumour about your impending retirement to make way for one of the A-list Conservative candidates is entirely without foundation.
The Chairman: Order. It is entirely without foundation—not a word of truth in it.
Mr. Field: The fortunes of your home football club in Macclesfield are much maligned, Sir Nicholas, but if it is not Paul Ince, it will have to be you who rescues it in the months ahead.
As the Minister pointed out, the order reflects what is in the 2006 Act and the indicative policy directions that were issued during its passage. There is nothing new in the order, which simply implements what Parliament has already agreed to do, which is to provide for devolved expenditure and to require the fund to set up committees to oversee that spending.
I repeat the point that we made umpteen times during the passage of the 2006 Act, which is that we have always strongly disagreed with the way in which general Government expenditure has been taken out of lottery funding. One of the relatively few policy announcements that the Conservative party has made in advance of the next election—[Hon. Members: “Oh!”] This will warm hon. Members’ hearts on both sides of the Committee. One of those policy announcements is that we shall ring-fence the lottery. The idea is that the £3.2 billion that has been lost over the past nine years out of arts, heritage, charities and sports will be returned to those heads. It is therefore with some disappointment that we heard the Minister making it clear that moneys would be put aside for the promotion of physical and mental well-being, community safety and cohesion, and community learning, which we regard as general Government expenditure.
My only other point is about article 4(3), which says:
“The maximum amount that may be distributed by the Fund before 1st April 2008...shall be £140 million.”
I assume that the matter was relatively straightforward, but on what basis was that sum calculated? The Minister went into some detail about the importance of the wide discretion, which we support, as the provisions should be not over-prescriptive. We have made it clear that there has been too much Government and ministerial prescription in that regard.
One of the advantages that has flowed to the lottery in recent years is the idea of a multitude of different distributors. Having a single distributor has not necessarily produced economies of scale. Time and again we have expressed the worry that giving the Big Lottery Fund control of 50 per cent. of the moneys that go to good causes means that it is effectively a sole distributor. The range of distribution has allowed a healthy sense of competition among a number of locally-focused causes that the lottery has supported over the past decade or so. In having such a gargantuan organisation controlling many billions of pounds over the course of any one Parliament, I hope that the Minister will give at least some credence to ensuring a range of distribution. However, with those one or two minor issues, we would be happy for the order to be passed without further delay.
4.44 pm
I was delighted that the Minister explained the reasons why we were here. He said in his peroration that the purpose of the order was to allow the Big Lottery Fund to continue its programmes. However, as Committee members know, the Big Lottery Fund does not exist; it will not exist until 1 December 2006, when the order that we are debating comes into force. The fact that the Big Lottery Fund does not exist at the moment has not prevented the Minister from telling us lots of things about what it already does—and it has not prevented the Big Lottery Fund, or Big as we are now to call it, from producing T-shirts, mugs and having its own headed notepaper.
The excellent chairman of Big, Sir Clive Booth, always tells me that his family get upset with me whenever I say how excellent he is. However, I genuinely believe him to be an excellent chairman of Big. More than two years ago, Sir Clive rightly said that the days of the Government instructing lottery distributors about what to do are over. I am delighted that he believes that and I hope it will be so when the Big Lottery Fund is formally established.
In that regard, and in respect of how money is spent—the subject of this order—I was a bit taken aback by some of the humbug from the hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster, who said that the first manifesto pledge of the Conservative party for the next general election, if in Government, would be to leave the distributors alone. This is the same Conservative party—the one that does not believe in instructing anybody about what to do—that in 2001 said that lottery funds would be used
“to provide assistance to Local Authority controlled museums and galleries in forming endowed self-governing Trusts where this is appropriate.”
Much more recently, in March 2005, it said:
“We will ensure that village halls and community facilities receive greater support by making them an explicit priority for the Lottery Community Fund”.
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Prepared 31 October 2006