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Division No. 1


Aberdare, L.
Addington, L.
Ailsa, M.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Annaly, L.
Ashbourne, L.
Avebury, L.
Biffen, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Buckinghamshire, E.
Butterworth, L.
Calverley, L.
Carlisle, E.
Cochrane of Cults, L.
Crickhowell, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L.
Dacre of Glanton, L.
Denham, L.
Dholakia, L. [Teller.]
Erne, E.
Ezra, L.
Falkland, V.
Fookes, B.
Freyberg, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Grey, E.
Harding of Petherton, L.
Hardwicke, E.
Hayhoe, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Johnston of Rockport, L.
Kingsland, L.
Kitchener, E.
Leigh, L.
McNair, L.
McNally, L.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Milverton, L.
Moyne, L.
Naseby, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Rawlings, B.
Razzall, L.
Redesdale, L. [Teller.]
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Rowallan, L.
Russell, E.
Selkirk of Douglas, L.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Skidelsky, L.
Southwell, Bp.
Sudeley, L.
Swansea, L.
Swinfen, L.
Taverne, L.
Taylor of Warwick, L.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Tope, L.
Tordoff, L.
Waddington, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Westbury, L.
Wharton, B.
Wigoder, L.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Wynford, L.
Young, B.


Acton, L.
Ailesbury, M.
Amos, B.
Annan, L.
Berkeley, L.
Blease, L.
Blyth, L.
Borrie, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Burlison, L.
Carew, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.
Carter, L. [Teller.]
Chorley, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Ewing of Kirkford, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Gallacher, L.
Gilbert, L.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Gregson, L.
Grenfell, L.
Halsbury, E.
Hardie, L.
Haskel, L. [Teller.]
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hylton-Foster, B.
Ilchester, E.
Irvine of Lairg, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Islwyn, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Kilbracken, L.
Longford, E.
Lovell-Davis, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
Marsh, L.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Merrivale, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Molloy, L.
Monkswell, L.
Montague of Oxford, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Nicol, B.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Richard, L. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Sefton of Garston, L.
Serota, B.
Shepherd, L.
Shore of Stepney, L.
Simon, V.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Stallard, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Tenby, V.
Thomas of Macclesfield, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Watson of Invergowrie, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Whitty, L.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Young of Old Scone, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

9 Mar 1998 : Column 24

4.2 p.m.

Lord Skidelsky moved Amendment No. 3:

Page 8, line 12, leave out subsection (9).

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I start by reminding your Lordships of what subsection (9) of Clause 5 does. Clause 5 as a whole is concerned with the allocation of money to the distributors. It provides for a reduced percentage of National Lottery money to go to the arts, sport, national heritage and charities to make room for expenditure on the new good cause; that is, education, healthcare and the environment. Subsection (9), which we are seeking to leave out, states that that revised allocation shall apply to sums on or after 14th October 1997; that is, for several months before the new cause which it is the main object of the Bill to set up acquires a legal existence. The effect of subsection (9) is to make retrospectively legal actions taken by the Secretary of State which he had no authority to take at the time.

In this country we have always regarded retrospective legislation as pernicious, and not to be resorted to except for grave cause or genuine inadvertence. That does not apply to this case. The Secretary of State announced on 1st October 1997 that funds for the new opportunities fund would start accumulating as from 14th October. Since then, the shares for the existing good causes, except the Millennium Commission, have been reduced from 20 per cent. to 16 2/3 per cent. with 13 1/3 going to the new opportunities fund.

Why do we contend that that act was unlawful? It is because no power to divert National Lottery money to a new good cause had been given by the 1993 Act. It is to give the Secretary of State that power that the Bill has been introduced. Yet he goes ahead and starts exercising it from 14th October last year. Since 14th October last year, the arts, sports, heritage and charities have lost money that they would have expected to have received until the Bill became law. That is why in Committee I called it robbery, and why I repeat that charge today.

The sums involved are not a trifle. Let us assume, to simplify matters, that the Bill becomes law in the middle of May. For seven months the four good causes have been told to plan their expenditure on the basis of shadow accounts based on the reduced percentages. Lottery money available for distribution is accumulating

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at the rate of £30 million a week. Of that, the four good causes could have expected 80 per cent. or £24 million. As it is, they will have had paid into their shadow accounts 67 per cent. or £20 million. That is a loss of £4 million a week. Multiplied by 30 weeks, that comes to £120 million that they would have lost and which they would have expected to receive. I am sorry that I gave a lower estimate in Committee. The robbery is even greater than I thought.

The Government's defence of that outrageous procedure was pathetic. I do not blame the Minister. He had a poor case. He made the best of it. First, he said that there were many benign examples of retrospective legislation. Challenged to give some, he came out with one: the Recreational Charities Act 1958. I have taken the trouble to look into this. The Recreational Charities Act reversed a decision by the courts so as to put the law back to what it had been generally thought to be. It is no precedent whatsoever for the clause in this Bill, which is not about removing an ambiguity in the law, but about legalising powers that the Secretary of State has seized without having any authority to do so.

That was one of the Minister's's defences. The Minister then said that had the Government waited until the Bill became law, the national opportunities fund would have received less money. That is sometimes the consequence of obeying the law: that one does not get as much. He then said that knowing that they were going to lose their money on a definite date would enable the distributors to plan sensibly. Fair enough. But why did that date have to be 14th October? Why could it not have been nearer the anticipated date of the passage of the Bill into law?

The Minister then said that the distributors had agreed to that procedure. What choice did they have? Had any one of them objected, the Secretary of State could simply have reduced the percentage--a power which he has in the existing legislation, and a power that we have just tried to remove. He said that the distributors had large cash balances. He must know that that is just a result of the time it takes for applications to come in; to process; and to start capital projects. In any case, it is irrelevant to the issue of principle.

Finally, the Minister said that the Secretary of State's announcement had the advantage of informing lottery players where their money was going. That really is scraping the bottom of the barrel. It is because the Government have failed to provide a satisfactory justification for this retrospective piece of legislation that we oppose it. In doing so, we defend an important constitutional principle: that the Government have no right to Supply until Parliament has voted it. Talk of shadow accounts is mere obfuscation. The essential point is that the Government have been diverting money which the existing causes could rightfully have expected to continue until the Bill became law towards the new good cause--the national opportunities fund. We contend that they had no right to do so. I beg to move.

Lord Redesdale: My Lords, the amendment is like locking the stable door after the horse has bolted. The money has already been allocated and almost spent. I asked the Minister about retrospective legislation at

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the previous stage of the Bill, and he was kind enough to write to me. He gave me not one, but two examples. He said that there had been many more, although he did not quote them. Has there ever been a case of shadow accounts before the Bill? At the previous stage of the Bill he was not able to answer that question. I should like to get a feel of what legislation this form of accounting has been used in.

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