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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I always enjoy wide-ranging discussions on culture and politics such as we have heard from the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, and the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell.

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When I nodded in response to the noble Lord, it was in approval of much of what he said. I certainly do not believe that we should interfere in the decisions of the distributors. It would be extraordinarily foolish, politically and culturally, to do so; I certainly do not believe that we should impose strategic plans on the distributors. That is not what the Bill does.

The amendment before the House does not question whether there should be a strategic plan. The noble Baroness told us in Committee, and again this afternoon, that she is not opposed to those parts of our policies with which this clause deals--the desirability of distributors preparing a plan, finding out where there are gaps in provision and deciding what to do about them. The noble Baroness's difficulty is with the language at the beginning of the clause, which states that,

    "If the Secretary of States instructs it to do so",

a distribution body shall prepare a plan. What is wrong with that? Where is the intrusion into the arm's length principle of which the noble Baroness speaks? Looking through the rest of the clause, where else does the Secretary of State figure? Line 16 refers to him issuing policy directions--a power created by the Conservative Government in the 1993 Act. Is that an intrusion into the arm's length principle? I suppose one could argue that any power of direction is in principle an intrusion, but that is clearly not the Opposition's view. In line 19, the Secretary of State gives the body an estimate of the money likely to be available to it. Is that an intrusion into the arm's length principle? I think not; it is simply an essential piece of background information which the body needs in order to build its plans. In lines 39 and 40, the body sends the draft plan and consults the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State does not write the plan or determine the plan, and cannot amend the plan. The Secretary of State is consulted.

What clearer demonstration of the arm's length principle could we have than that? A government intent on taking over the lottery--the nanny state--could have done a great deal better than that. Why did we not seek the power to approve plans, as we could have done? A Napoleon of a Secretary of State could have sought to write the strategy himself. Finally, in line 46, the Secretary of State lays the plan before Parliament. He is reduced to the status of a messenger boy.

The debate is worthwhile and valuable, but the Bill says none of the things that the Opposition fears. It simply says that the Secretary of State shall ensure that the distributors produce a plan. Let me make it clear that a strategy plan is of value not simply to the Secretary of State nor to the Government. The plan is required largely in order to ensure that the distributors take account of the needs of people who are likely to apply for grants. It is important that they should apply for grants in the light of the strategic plan because then they know what the priorities of the distributors are and they are less likely to spend enormous amounts of time and money sometimes on producing applications which are outwith the real intentions of the distributors.

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I find the clause as unamended extremely benign and I invite the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment.

Lord Chorley: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, could he explain to me, as an amateur in matters of legislation, why we need the clause at all? Does not Section 26(1) of the National Lottery etc. Act 1993 give the Secretary of State all the powers that he needs? Perhaps I may read it:

    "A body shall comply with any directions given to it--"

a body being a distributing body--

    "by the Secretary of State as to the matters to be taken into account in determining the persons to whom, the purposes for which and the conditions subject to which the body distributes any money under section 25(1)".

It seems to me that he already has the power.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Of course, my Lords. But it is evidence of our desire to conduct government in the open that we spell out what a strategic plan should do and why it should be there. It is true that under the 1993 Act the Government have all the powers to which the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, referred and which Members of the Opposition so much fear.

In effect, here we are tying the hands of the Secretary of State by spelling out what kind of strategic plans distributors should produce, why they should produce them and how they can help in the effective distribution of funds.

Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for responding in such detail. The amendment basically hinges on the word "instruct" which we are not happy with. But without the amendment the Secretary of State will have tighter control and we feel that we are losing the arm's length principle.

I am afraid this leaves us with the possible position as stated so clearly in the article in The Times last week which quoted from the late Lord Goodman's memoirs:

    "An enthusiastic and ambitious Minister wishes to direct the arts ... Between him and that direction is a large independent body of people who rate him as a useful animal for finding money, respect him if he finds it in greater abundance than hitherto, but have no real use for his views on artistic matters".

We feel that the Secretary of State should leave decisions to the distributing bodies as in the 1993 Act. But no doubt we shall return to this important matter at Third Reading. Therefore, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.15 p.m.

Lord Redesdale moved Amendment No. 13:

Page 15, line 28, at end insert ("and
(e) a statement of the body's assessment of how the body's policies will further sustainable development.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the purpose of the amendment is simply to seek to give all distributors an obligation to maximise the contribution that their funding can make to the achievement of sustainability.

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I have no briefing, but I could quote comprehensively Mr. Prescott's views on opportunities for change. However, I feel that the indications the Minister gave me earlier in the proceedings are that he feels that there is something that the Government can say beneficially on the amendment. I very much look forward to listening to his comments. I beg to move.

Baroness Young of Old Scone: My Lords, perhaps I may refer briefly to the anxiety of the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, about giving a sustainable development duty to the distributors. There are many pieces of written evidence to show that the Government are committed to bringing sustainable development to the heart of all policies. Indeed, the recent consultation document on sustainable development strategy asked the specific question: how should we promote decision-making at all levels of government which takes full account of sustainable development?

The lottery is a big and important set of expenditures which can make a difference, either on behalf of the environment or against the environment. I think that giving distributors a sustainable development duty would not be asking for much. It would not be complicated, it would not be rocket science. It would merely ask them to show how they would ensure that the projects they funded were either good for the environment or at least not bad for it.

The Government rejected the idea very much at Committee stage. In the spirit of being anxious to help the Minister, if the sustainable development duty cannot be placed on the face of the Bill, I wonder whether we can seek an assurance from him that the Government will use the power of direction that has already been noticed and outlined in Clause 11(3), line 15. It was drawn from Section 26(1)of the original Act. Perhaps we may have assurances from the Minister that the Government will make directions under that provision that distributors should take account of sustainable development.

Lord Chorley: My Lords, I support the amendment in the sense that it tries to bring into the open the importance of sustainable development, particularly in the way suggested by the noble Baroness, Lady Young. It would be more helpful to deal with it by way of a direction under Section 26(1) rather than putting it on the face of the Bill. It seems to me that that is a rather more flexible way of dealing with the matter.

My difficulty is in knowing what "sustainable development" means. The noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, may remember that when we were both Members of the House of Lords Select Committee on sustainable development, we spent quite a long time trying to decide what it meant. The answer is that everyone knows individually what they think it means, but at least 57 different varieties have been suggested and therefore it is difficult to put it into legislation. In particular, there is the Brundtland definition which mentioned not compromising the needs of future generations. That is the most popular definition, but I find it difficult because I have no idea what the needs of future generations may

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be. All things considered, it is much better to deal with the rough concept of sustainable development by way of a direction rather than in the primary legislation.

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