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Lord Monson: My Lords, I am sorry if I did not speak clearly enough for the noble Lord. I was not talking

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specifically about the Bill; I was talking about the concessions made generally in Northern Ireland over the past few months and those that are in train at the moment.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, I do not agree that the majority of the concessions have been made to nationalists. I think that concessions have been made fairly even-handedly across both communities. However, I think it would be trespassing on the time of the House this afternoon if I were to be tempted to go down that path and try to elaborate. I think we ought to leave that point for another day.

There was widespread support for the Bill's provisions as it left another place. Its aim is, after all, to provide effective and fair policing for all people in Northern Ireland. I believe that is the right way forward. I urge the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment, particularly as it will not have the effect which he intends it to have.

Lord Molyneaux of Killead: My Lords, the noble Lord will recollect that in my opening words I said that this was a probing amendment and that we wanted to discover the Government's thinking on this matter. It is very interesting and reassuring that the Secretary of State has given a target date for the implementation of nearly all of the provisions, because at earlier stages there was an implication that it would be a never-ending process and that parts would be introduced from time to time without any coherent plan.

I derived great reassurance from what the Minister appeared to be saying in his final words--I do not want to put words in his mouth--that the Government hope to bring the legislation into effect and have it in place. Then there was something he did not say but I would say. I hope that, that being the case--the will of Parliament having been expressed on these matters and the Bill having been carried through both Houses and receiving Royal Assent--the Patten Commission might respect the will of Parliament and would not lightly embark on changes which would be likely to cut clean across what your Lordships' House and the other place have put in place.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, perhaps I may say, for the avoidance of doubt, that the Patten Commission has a free hand to decide the best way forward. I would not wish to say anything to, as it were, limit the freedom of the Patten Commission to deal with its terms of reference.

Lord Molyneaux of Killead: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that clarification. However, I should have thought that, your Lordships' House having given the final seal of approval to this legislation, it would not entirely welcome a suggestion from the Patten Commission that it should overturn its previous conclusions just because the commission had produced proposals which ran counter to what we have put in place today. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 2 [Form of declaration]:

[Amendment No. 5 not moved.]

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National Lottery Bill [H.L.]

4.19 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I beg to move that the Commons amendments be now considered.

Moved, That the Commons amendments be now considered.--(Lord McIntosh of Haringey.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.


[The page and line refer to Bill (148) as first printed for the Commons.]


1Clause 1, leave out Clause 1.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 1. In doing so I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 12. The Government are determined to ensure that the lottery is given the most effective regulation possible to provide the objectivity, independence and transparency that the public rightly demands. The Bill, when it left this House, recognised the importance of widening the experience and expertise brought to bear on the selection of the lottery operator. It made provision for an advisory panel to help the director general with that task. But we have looked at this again and, particularly in the light of recent events, the Secretary of State has concluded that there is more that we can do to ensure that the public can have confidence in the independence and objectivity of the regulator. In particular, a move away from a focus on a particular individual will help to remove any possible criticism as regards conflicts of interest, actual or perceived, which threaten effective regulation.

I should say at this point that none of what is proposed should be taken as any criticism of the acting director general or his staff, whose professionalism and commitment are not in question. These amendments therefore replace the post of director general and the advisory panel currently provided for in Clause 1 and Schedule 1 to the Bill with a new national lottery commission. That commission will consist of five members whom the Secretary of State will appoint. It will be a permanent body which will take on the same statutory functions and duties as the director general. Therefore, its role will be to ensure that the lottery is run and promoted with all due propriety and that the interests of all players are protected and, subject to those duties, to do its best to ensure the best possible return for the good causes.

The commission will be able to choose one of its members as a chair to run meetings and to act as spokesman for no more than a year at a time. No member will be reappointed immediately so the responsibility is rotated between members. I appreciate that noble Lords might find an analogy with the rotating presidency of the former Republic of Yugoslavia, but nevertheless, I hope that they will put such thoughts out of their mind and recognise the appropriateness of this solution.

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This measure will avoid focusing attention and influence undesirably on any individual. The new commission will have in its armoury the power already contained within the Bill to fine licence holders. That fills a gap highlighted by the Select Committee on Public Accounts. Any fines levied will go to the good causes and not to the Treasury. The power to fine will apply in respect of existing licences as well as future awards. The commission will be supported in its work by the existing Oflot staff. The amendments will provide for their employment by the commission on the same terms and conditions as they currently hold, save that the commission will not be a Crown body and so its employees will not be civil servants. I believe that these provisions ensure a lottery which will inspire full public confidence. I commend these amendments to the House.

Moved, That this House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 1.--(Lord McIntosh of Haringey.)

Lord Skidelsky: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his explanation of these changes, but I put on record my disquiet at the practice of legislating on the hoof. No hint of these amendments was given when the Bill passed through Committee nor when it was read a second time in the other place. The Government only introduced the necessary amendments in Committee in the other place, I believe, last month.

As the noble Lord stated, the intention was to restore public confidence in the regulatory system following events surrounding the resignation of Mr. Peter Davis, the previous director general. But it would be a great pity if governments felt that they had to legislate every time a regulator or regulatory system was criticised in the press. As everybody knows, public confidence in the regulator fluctuates with every newspaper headline. Who now remembers the events which gave rise to these amendments?

My present purpose is only to point out that the regulatory system for a natural monopoly should not be changed in response to passing events because any change in the regulatory structure in one sector is bound to have knock-on effects on the regulatory regime as a whole. The amendments introduced by the Government seem to pre-empt the consultation envisaged by the White Paper, A Fair Deal for Consumers: modernising the framework for utility regulations, published in March 1998. In that document the Government put forward three possible models for regulation as an alternative to an individual regulator. They were a statutory advisory committee to assist each regulator; the replacement of individual regulators by small executive boards and the replacement of individual regulators by small commissions. In these amendments the Government seem to have opted for the third model. Is this now the Government's preferred model for all monopoly regulation or will there be a different regime for each sector? What about the promised consultation? I hope that the noble Lord will answer these questions.

I am not particularly happy about the procedure for rotating the chairmanship of the commission around the five members every 12 months, quite apart from the example to which the noble Lord alluded. Is the rotation

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also intended to be a general model for the regulatory system applying to other monopolies? If so, I see some disadvantages, not least the danger that it will produce a weak regulator and not a robust one, with everyone shuffling off responsibility to another member of the commission. I should be grateful if the noble Lord would answer the questions that I have raised.

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