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Our main criticism of the Bill is that it centralises far too much power in the hands of the Secretary of State. That feature is largely attributable to the new good cause, which is radically different in character from the previous good causes. The 1993 Act defines five areas or activities to be supported by the proceeds of the National Lottery on an equal percentage basis. As noble Lords will know, they were the arts, sport, national heritage, charities and the millennium. The money was to be drawn on by the five distributing bodies to make grants to such projects as they chose to support within their terms of reference. The Secretary of State had no power to tell the distributors what projects to support. For example, he could not tell the Sports Council to build 50,000 new squash courts. That is the "hands off" principle.
The first three initiatives are to be ICT training for teachers and librarians, out-of-school hours activities and healthy living centres, but we are promised many others. Yet the Secretary of State and the Minister in Committee had the gall to claim that such instructions are consistent with the arm's length principle. They are not. The new opportunities fund will simply be a government agency with limited operational autonomy.
In Committee we tried to remove the Secretary of State's fingerprints from Clause 6. I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, for supporting that attempt. The Minister would not budge an inch, and given the Government's aim to use the National Lottery money for their social programme, his response is perfectly understandable. But we then have to ask another question. What is to stop him from channelling more and more National Lottery money towards the new opportunities fund at the expense of the other distributors?
The sums involved are not negligible. So far, the distributors have received almost £5 billion. The good causes can expect another £5 billion over the next three years. The Secretary of State is at perfect liberty, as things now stand, to channel £3.75 billion of that expected £5 billion to the new opportunities fund. He does not have to give the five other distributors more than 5 per cent. each of the total, as the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, pointed out. That minimum of 5 per cent. was put into the 1993 Bill before this voracious new cause made its appearance. We now believe that that percentage is too low. It does not sufficiently curb the Secretary of State's political appetite. It is significant that at Second Reading the Government declined to give any assurance about lottery funds for the arts or sport after the Millennium Fund stream comes to an end.
So we support the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, in proposing to raise the minimum percentage for all the causes to 13 1/3 per cent., which is the present percentage allocated for the new opportunities fund. The effect will be to ring fence £3.3 billion of the £5 billion for the five original good causes as opposed to £1.25 billion under existing legislation. The Secretary of State will still have the flexibility to give the new opportunities fund more than the others, but not nearly as much flexibility as there is now.
I ask again whether the Minister will give a binding undertaking that in this Parliament he will not reduce the percentages going to the original good causes below 16 2/3 per cent. That is something we tried to elicit from him at Committee stage, but he would not give that binding assurance. He simply said that it is not the Government's present intention to do so. We believe that we must have more protection than the present intention. It is essential that the arts, sport, heritage, the charities and even the Millennium Fund should have that protection. That is why I support the amendment.
Lord Naseby: My Lords, I was unable to take part in the Committee stage. I wish to speak particularly on this amendment because I am deeply concerned about the possible strategy that is being followed. I believe that all of us in the other place who were involved when the original lottery Bill became an Act were quite clear that the four-plus-one good causes--in other words, arts, sport, heritage, charities and the Millennium Fund--recognised at that stage that we would end up with just four causes. The Millennium Fund would pass and it would then be for the other place to decide whether something should replace the fund or whether the percentage that it received should go to the original four.
The point raised by the amendment is entirely right. The thrust of the amendment--in a sense I am less concerned with the detail of it--is saying, "What safeguards are there for the original four core causes?". There are some signs on the wind at this time that the new opportunities fund is becoming all-embracing. I attended a meeting the other evening of the Food and Health Forum and listened to one of Her Majesty's Ministers speaking about healthy eating centres, which are part of a very laudable project. I understand that they are called healthy living centres; I thought they were healthy eating centres. Nevertheless it was a food and health forum. The sum mentioned was £300 million, a very large amount by any yardstick, and that was only one of many potential users of these funds.
The question I ask today is this: is the Minister in a position to give a categorical assurance to your Lordships' House that the funds that currently go to the Millennium Fund will not all go to the new opportunities fund? Will those funds be shared across what will then be the five causes of arts, sport, heritage, charities and the new opportunities fund? It is against that background that the amendment is a pretty moderate one. All it seeks is that 13 1/3 per cent. should be safeguarded. The Minister will recognise that that is not one-fifth of what is on offer. At the very least I believe that the Minister should be able to say that that is totally assured as a minimum and it may be a little more. If he is unable to do that, then I say to him that we on this side of the House and, I suspect, throughout the Chamber and outside, will have to say to ourselves, "What is the agenda? Is it really to pump more and more money into the new opportunities fund and to starve the rest?". We await the Minister's reply.
Lord Addington: My Lords, I support my noble friend's amendment. We are talking about guaranteeing the original good causes for which the lottery was introduced. I recall the long arguments saying what tremendous opportunities there would be for such things as sport and how new facilities would be provided. These things, it was said, would be guaranteed. We are now over the building period; we are incurring the really expensive part of any project, which is investing in people. We shall have to find money, for example, to support athletes who often try and fail at international level. There is a need to support them. We need to guarantee their funding.
I also recall the phrases that were used in this Chamber--I definitely heard them from the Minister when he was sitting on my left--such as, "We know about this Home Secretary" or "We know about that Minister, but we are worried about those who come in future. The present one we trust". I know that the Government are familiar with that argument. In this Chamber those who are now Ministers advanced it themselves. I do not know how many times in the past decade members of the Labour Party in this House said, "This Minister is a thoroughly good chap, but what happens if we get a nasty one in future?" It is basically
Lord Rowallan: My Lords, can the Minister clarify something for me about the Millennium Commission? On the website of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, as of today, there are 131 projects listed, but on the National Lottery Distribution Fund figures for that same Millennium Commission there are 12,334 projects, which is a difference of 12,200 projects. That is quite substantial in terms of money. Can the Minister comment as to what is happening ?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I am always happy when the debate ranges more widely than the amendment on the Marshalled List. The noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, began by saying that his purpose in moving the amendment was to ensure that the new opportunities fund should not be allowed to grow disproportionately. That seems to me to be a legitimate objection. I propose to treat the matter entirely seriously although that is not quite what his amendment says.
A great deal of debate has taken place on matters with which the amendment is not concerned. It has been about the arm's length principle and the extent to which the new opportunities fund is claimed to be less independent than any of the other funds. The debate has been about the additionality principle. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, for his acknowledgement that he could not go over the additionality ground again. In effect he has been doing so in the way he has put forward the argument.
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