Dormant Bank and Building Society Accounts Bill [Lords]

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Mr. Browne: I can understand the Minister’s reluctance to commit himself to rigid percentages and in fact, despite wanting the amendment to achieve that, both the hon. Member for Fareham and I have conceded the point. However, by not committing himself to any percentages or even any indication, the Minister seems to be going right to the other end of the scale. Were I a representative of a youth services organisation, my attitude towards the Bill would be different if I thought that my organisation would be the beneficiary of 10 per cent. of the funds rather than 90 per cent. of the funds. That makes a substantial difference to what we want to achieve by the Bill. I accept that the hon. Gentleman will not say 47 per cent., 33 per cent. and 20 per cent., but he could say that he envisages that youth services would receive more than half the total money. People would then know roughly where they stand in relation to the Government’s ambitions.
Ian Pearson: It is premature to specify percentages to individual areas but, when it comes to spending directions, we will give guidance to the Big Lottery Fund on such matters. I appreciate that organisations out there see what we are proposing to do and are already anxious to bid into the Big Lottery Fund for exciting new projects, but throughout the Government we must have a detailed look at our overall priorities within such areas so that we can make sufficient funds available that will be complementary to the Government’s current activities and genuinely additional. Discussions have taken place with a range of organisations on how potential sums might be put together most effectively, and it is right that those discussions have been held.
Mr. Hoban: Is there in the Minister’s mind a case for looking at the money that comes through in two different ways? There will be a big lump at the start, after which amounts will drip through annually. Clearly, to go back to the social investment wholesaler argument, it would be easier to meet its needs from the big lump at the beginning, rather than that coming through on an annual basis, given its estimate of how much it needs. For youth services it may be easier to fund a building project from that big lump at the start, rather than from the annual amounts coming through. If the money is to be used to help capitalise credit unions, for example, that initial release of money from dormant accounts might be the best way to do it. Will the money that is available at the start be looked at strategically and will it be looked at differently from the money that comes through on an annual basis?
We still do not believe that there needs to be the order-making power that amendment No. 5 would give us because we think that these priorities will be enduring. We still do not think that amendment No. 32, which rigidly specifies equal amounts for the three areas, makes sense, although I appreciate its probing nature. Finally, stocks and flows are still unknown. An interdepartmental working group is looking at the issues and trying to work out what a sensible strategic programme would look like over a period of time. We will obviously want to consult outside Government too, not necessarily on a formal basis to delay things, but to ensure that we work closely with the Big Lottery Fund, which already does lots of work in these areas.
Mr. Browne: That was a useful conversation. It would have been nice if it had gone further. We await developments with interest. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 19 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clauses 20 to 22 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Further consideration adjourned.—[Mr. Blizzard.]
Adjourned accordingly at two minutes to Five o’clock till Thursday 16 October at Nine o’clock.
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