|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord Skidelsky: My Lords, not only did the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, explicitly deny that we were pursuing the additionality question, but I certainly did not mention it and I do not know who else did.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, nobody did, but the word used by the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, was "voracious", while the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, used the phrase "all-embracing" about the new opportunities fund. To me, that suggests that noble Lords feel that the new opportunities fund has a greater scope for expansion than some of the other funds. Even if that were the case, the point is not addressed by this amendment.
The noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, also referred to the issue of retrospection by talking about the percentages which would apply when the Millennium Fund comes off stream. Again, I do not think that that is addressed by this amendment; nor is the issue of the Millennium Fund itself.
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, I was not talking about retrospection. In his letter covering these issues, the noble Lord specifically stated that if it were not for the retrospection that has taken place--I seek to leave aside the argument about retrospection altogether--there would be no alternative but to raise the percentage of the new opportunities fund to a quarter of a percentage
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the noble Lord has not misread the letter. The point that I am seeking to make is that that is an argument for a later amendment. It does not particularly relate to this amendment. I must make it plain that this amendment does not relate specifically to the new opportunities fund; it relates to all of the distributors and it treats them all equally. I am not saying that it is any the worse for that, but I must advise the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, that in Committee I pointed out to him that what was proposed in an amendment then--and what is proposed now--relates to a fallback provision made not by this Bill but by the 1993 Act. The minimum figure that was proposed then has been carried on into this Bill.
I understand the argument that noble Lords have put forward that there is something different about the new opportunities fund. I do not agree with it, but I understand that that is what noble Lords are saying. I understand that it is for fear of this "voracious" new fund that they have put forward this greater limitation. However, I am not convinced that the argument is all in one direction and that the flow will be entirely from other funds to the new opportunities fund. Referring to what was said not only in Committee but also on Second Reading, I am sure that the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, would put forward considerable arguments for an increase in the arts share; that the noble Lord, Lord Rothschild, would do the same for an increase in the heritage share; and that my noble friend Lord Howell and the noble Lords, Lord Rowallan and Lord Addington, would argue for an increase in the sports share. Everybody has their own very good, well argued case for more money from the total pot to be given to a particular fund--
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, but one of the problems that we have with the new opportunities fund is that it is directly affected by the wishes of the Secretary of State. It will be the Secretary of State who will alter the percentages. A level playing field--I apologise for using that over-used phrase--is certainly not in existence here.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: No, my Lords, that is not entirely accurate. It is the Secretary of State who proposes initiatives for the new opportunities fund, although the way in which the money is spent on those initiatives is a matter for the trustees of the fund. However, the Secretary of State can do so only by designating the initiative in an order which is approved by Parliament. Therefore, noble Lords have two means of protecting the existing good causes: by their control over any order reducing a percentage and by their control over the activities which the new opportunities fund can undertake at any one time. Apart from that great fear about the new opportunities fund, there is no good reason to change the 1993 Act.
I have been asked specifically to make undertakings--the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, calls them "binding undertakings"--about our future intentions. I can certainly do that. First, barring the extremely unlikely circumstance in which lottery income for good causes is less than £10 billion in total, we shall ensure that each of the existing good causes receives by 2001 the £1.8 billion expected when the lottery started. I recognise that that is not directly answering the question from the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, who asked for an assurance for the whole Parliament, but I am saying that the date 2001 is more meaningful than the phrase "the whole Parliament" because 2001 represents the end of the operator licence. There will then be a new licence. Neither this nor the previous government would give any undertaking--rightly, I believe--about what happens after 2001. I am giving the noble Lord an assurance for the next three years--in other words, for four years into this Parliament and stopping at a rational time, not whenever the next election may be held--that, barring a shortfall in money, there will be no decrease in the £1.8 billion expected when the lottery started. I believe that that is a proper and sustainable response to the questions I have been asked by noble Lords opposite.
Lord Skidelsky: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. It is because lottery proceeds are necessarily uncertain that we asked for that assurance in terms of percentages. I repeat: could the noble Lord give us an assurance that the arts, sports, national heritage and charities will continue to receive 16 2/3 per cent. of the money available, whatever it is, during the present Parliament? The noble Lord answered the second part of that in the negative, but said "four years". What about the percentages?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, funds do not spend percentages; they spend money. I am giving a much more realistic and sensible undertaking to noble Lords opposite. I am saying that the existing distributors can, for the remainder of this licence, count on receiving the amount of money that they expected when the licence started. I cannot go further than that--nobody could go further than that--because we do not know what the amount of money will be and we may want to make quite different decisions about any excess. So, subject to any shortfall, I am giving, I believe, a realistic response to the assurances for which I have been asked.
Lord Naseby: My Lords, the noble Lord said that he could not be more realistic or sensible. Surely he must realise that the disaster that he contemplates might just happen, in which case the £1.8 billion will not go to the original four good causes. However, he has not said that in that circumstance the percentage will remain constant; rather, he has indicated to the House that the new opportunities fund already has enormous commitments, and "tough luck" on the original four. Alternatively, the lottery may continue
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I believe that the noble Lord has unwittingly misinterpreted what I have said. I did not say that I did not believe in percentages but that funds spent money, not percentages. I certainly did not say that if there were any shortfall all or any of it would be at the expense of the existing causes and not the new opportunities fund. In those circumstances I believe that it would be necessary for the Government to return to Parliament with a proposal for the cuts that should take place in the expectation of all of the funds including the new opportunities fund. I do not ring fence the new opportunities fund against any cut that may be required if the lottery produces less than £10 billion in the period of the licence.
To sum up, I believe that I have given a possible and sensible assurance as to the money that will be available for existing causes between now and 2001, which is the end of the licence. In those circumstances, I believe that it is right to adhere to the fallback position of the previous government enacted in the 1993 Act. I suggest that to overturn that would be to overturn the wishes of the previous government, not this Government. I ask the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, to withdraw his amendment. If he does not do so, I invite noble Lords to oppose the amendment.
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, I thank the Minister for the commitments that he has given. They were generous to a degree. However, the problem is that we are not discussing amounts of money but are far more interested in the principle that all of the good causes should be equal and none should grow disproportionately to the others. To a degree we are not returning to the previous Act. Under that enactment each of the good causes was in a different field and would not be significantly altered by a change in government and political emphasis. We are concerned that the new opportunities fund, however worthy and commendable may be its objectives, does not grow disproportionately so that the others suffer. On that principle I feel it only right to seek to test the opinion of the House.