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Lord Skidelsky: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. Did I hear him rightly to say that there had been examples of retrospective legislation that had restored the law to what it was assumed to be? Perhaps he will not use those examples because it seems to me that they have no relevance to this particular case.

Secondly, is it not the case that taxation legislation is governed by special powers which Parliament has given to government to introduce taxation in advance of parliamentary approval in the Budget? Is it not the case that there are no such powers in this case?

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4.30 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, on the noble Lord's second point I was correctly corrected by the noble Lord, Lord Rees, in Committee because I had neglected the provisions of the provisional collection of taxes Act. I accept that rebuke and I repeat my apologies. The noble Lord is right to say that this is not a case of restoring the law to what it had been assumed to be before a decision of the courts made it uncertain. I am not making that point; indeed, I am simply saying that there are a number of different categories of benign retrospectivity and I believe this to be one of them. As I said, no money is being taken from anyone before Royal Assent. If there is no Royal Assent, there is no possibility of the money which has been set in a shadow account doing anything other than being returned.

I suggest to the House that what is required is a judgment of not whether the retrospection exists, because there are benign examples, but whether it is unfair. If we were seeking to do something unfair or improper, the existence of precedent would not make it any less unfair or improper. However, in this particular case it is hard to see where the unfairness or the impropriety lies as carrying the re-allocation of funding back to October 1997 does not affect the total amount of money re-allocated from the existing good causes to the NOF and NESTA over the current licence period. The Government's intentions have been very clear and indeed were so as far back as the election. I give way to the noble Lord.

Lord Rowallan: My Lords, if the National Lottery had not actually been as successful as it has been in raising money, and if the existing four causes were going to lose money, can the Minister confirm that the new fund would not have been set up?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, if the assumptions upon which we based our manifesto commitment had not come about, we could not have had a White Paper; we could not have had an announcement in October; and we could not have had a Bill in this form. That is certainly the case.

However, on the basis of the case that I have put forward for benign retrospection, which I believe to be unassailed by the arguments that have been produced, I invite your Lordships to reject the amendment.

Lord Redesdale: My Lords, if that is the case, can the Minister confirm that shadow funds of this nature have never been established?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, that is not the issue. Shadow funds do not require a legal authority. It is purely an administrative mechanism and it has been put into place so as to ensure that as soon as possible after Royal Assent--and only after Royal Assent--funds will be available to give a good start to the new causes.

Lord Skidelsky: My Lords, we have had an interesting discussion on the issue, during the course of

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which the Minister made one or two statements which are perhaps more helpful to our case than to his. For example, he confirmed that the shadow accounts are the actual accounts in respect of which the distributors are required to plan, and have been since 14th October last, without any parliamentary authority having been given for that diversion.

The noble Lord also made a most interesting statement about the manifesto. He said that the distributors had known since April that the Government are committed to spending £1 billion of lottery money on their new good cause. Irrespective of whether the money was there, £1 billion was committed. Moreover, if the other good causes were taking up money that would detract from that £1 billion, he said that in such a case they had to expect that the Government would cut their percentages. I give way.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I am much obliged. We made a very clear promise; namely, that they will continue to receive £9 billion between them over the life of the licence. I repeat: distributors spend money not percentages.

Lord Skidelsky: My Lords, how could the Government make those two promises--on the one hand, to spend £1 billion on the new good causes and, on the other hand, guarantee that the existing distributors would not lose any money? They were making an assumption about the total flow of lottery money over the period. They made it perfectly clear that, if the flow of lottery money was less than expected, it would not be the new good cause which would suffer; indeed, it would be the other causes. That is what that £1 billion means. It is simple arithmetic, is it not?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I have made myself clear on more than one occasion, especially in response to the noble Lord, Lord Naseby. I have always said that the guarantee we gave to provide £1 billion for the new good cause and to maintain the £1.8 billion each for the existing good causes was of course dependent on the £10 billion being raised. That is actually what will happen. I repeat what I said to the noble Lord, Lord Naseby. I have not said that if there is a shortfall it would all come from the existing good causes.

Lord Skidelsky: My Lords, where then would it come from? I am pretty sure that it would not come from the new good cause. After all, that was a manifesto commitment. All that information has been extremely helpful. However, as I stated when moving the amendment, the bottom line has been that since 14th October last the Secretary of State has been diverting money to purposes that were not intended by the 1993 Act. In our contention, he had no right to do so. As I said before, the shadow accounts are the actual accounts to which the distributors are required to work. The effect of our amendment would be to restore that money to the purposes for which it was intended under the 1993 Act. I repeat: the new good cause does not exist until the Bill becomes law and the Secretary of State has no right to divert money to it until the legislation becomes law.

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The Minister put forward an interesting argument. He said that had they not started planning earlier, the existing good causes would undoubtedly have suffered an even greater percentage reduction. However, that is entirely dependent on the absolute priority given to that manifesto commitment to spend £1 billion irrespective of the amount of money available. We will withdraw the amendment at this point in the proceedings, but reserve our right to return to the matter on Third Reading.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 6 [The New Opportunities Fund]:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 4:

Page 9, leave out lines 1 to 10.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving the above amendment I shall speak also to Amendment Nos. 5, 6, 8 and 23. The amendments have been tabled in response to an amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Howell and the noble Lord, Lord Weatherill, in Committee, which the Government agreed to consider. The meat is in Amendment No. 8, which enables all lottery distributors to utilise vouchers or other non-cash methods of grant making. The amendments to Clauses 6 and 7 remove the similar provisions which relate only to the NOF and are now superfluous. The final amendment in the group ensures that the provision will come into force when the Bill is enacted.

As noble Lords will recall, the Government undertook in Committee to consult other departments and distributors to ensure that there was no objection to the power that we had not thought of. We have now done so without any objections being raised. Indeed, all distributors welcomed this purely permissive power.

In case it may not be clear, I will give the House a few examples of the ways in which vouchers might be used. Indeed, from my reading of the amendments, I am sure that it is not clear. Sports councils may wish to issue vouchers for volunteer football training coaches to receive a few days' professional training at a number of approved training centres. Similarly, arts councils may wish to issue vouchers for materials which are redeemable at a number of arts supplies stores. Moreover, the National Lottery Charities Board may wish to issue vouchers for IT equipment, which would be redeemable at a number of computer suppliers.

These amendments would offer distributors the scope to improve the distribution process by speeding up the disbursement of funds as well as facilitating the monitoring and evaluation of projects. These powers could also, in appropriate cases, allow distributors to engage in contract or bulk purchasing, gaining economies of scale and spreading lottery funds that bit further. I should emphasise that the power is entirely permissive and within the financial directions which will be revised to take account of that. Distributors will be able to decide when the new power can best contribute to an enhanced approach to distribution. I commend the amendment to the House. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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