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Orders of the Day — National Lottery Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:00 pm on 14th June 2005.

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Photo of James Purnell James Purnell Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Media and Tourism), Department for Culture, Media & Sport 7:00 pm, 14th June 2005

The hon. Gentleman started off by wishing us all the best with the Olympics decision on 6 July, and the Government are united in support of our bid. I know that both main Opposition parties support us and that he does, too. If he wills the ends, he must will the means to have a fantastic Olympics as well.

On additionality, it is clear that the distinction should not be between the causes that we fund, but the projects. The attention of distributors should be focused on funding projects that are innovative, that pilot new developments, that do things that Government could not otherwise do, and that could bring organisations together in a way that Government might otherwise find difficult. I hope that I can reassure my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgend that that will continue under the Bill.

Let me deal with the issue of Government control, which was raised by the hon. Members for Cheltenham and for Hornchurch. It was claimed that the Government were seeking to control grants. That is the opposite of the fact. What happened was that people raised concerns about NOF having prescribed programmes set by the Secretary of State. We have listened to those concerns and, therefore, under the Big Lottery Fund, those decisions will be much further away from Government. The Government will set some high-level priorities and then it will be up to the Big Lottery Fund to formulate the programmes, as set out in the Bill. If we consider the new programmes put forward by the Big Lottery Fund, such as children's play, parks, support for the voluntary sector infrastructure, we will recognise that those are clearly additional and clearly welcome. I assume that the hon. Member for Hornchurch supports them. The whole thrust of the proposals is to put distributors further away from Government and closer to the public, and to give the public a much greater say in how these funds are spent. That is exactly right—it should be the public, not politicians, who have the keenest influence on how the money is spent.

I thought that Mrs. May was slightly churlish to say that the £65 million being spent through the People's Millions was a small amount of money. Most people would say that having £65 million allocated by the public is a very good initiative, and it is just the start of what we want to see—we want widespread consultation through citizens juries, through the telephone service and through whatever ways that distributors think are appropriate to ensure that they can properly reflect what people want. Therefore, the Bill puts distributors further from Government, much closer to the public and much further away from some Conservative Members' views, which we have established today.