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Clause 7 - National Lottery Distribution Fund: apportionment

Part of National Lottery Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:30 pm on 25th October 2005.

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Photo of Jo Swinson Jo Swinson Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport), Liberal Democrat Whip 12:30 pm, 25th October 2005

Indeed. I thank the hon. Gentleman for that intervention. We seek assurance from the Minister and, if he cannot give it, a good and sound reason as to   why the figure cannot be enshrined in the legislation. After all, he assured us on Second Reading that the voluntary and community sector would not lose out. He stated that

''some have said that a Big Lottery Fund could lead to voluntary and community sector organisations losing out. I can give a categorical assurance that that will not happen.''—[Official Report, 14 June 2005; Vol. 435, c. 170.]

How can such an assurance be given? The Big Lottery Fund has said that it would commit to 60 to 70 per cent. of the funding going to the voluntary and community sector—that is its current position. However, the board may change and take a different view after 2009. Indeed, the Minister may change, and he or she could take a different view. That is why the assurances being given now must be enshrined in law. We seek an assurance that the proportion of lottery funds going to the voluntary and community sector, not just the absolute amount of money, will not decrease.

To pick up on the point about whether this group of amendments contradicts the earlier group, I believe that these amendments are entirely consistent with the argument for greater independence of lottery distributors. The Big Lottery Fund has agreed on a definition to be used in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland for the voluntary and community sector. The definition states that the sector consists of organisations whose defining features are

''independence from the state, a motivation derived from values and social purposes rather than the pursuit of profit, and the re-investment of surpluses principally in pursuit of these values rather than for private distribution.''

The definition for Wales, which has been agreed with the National Assembly, is slightly different.

The key words are ''independence from the state''. The definition also preserves the independence of lottery distributors, which should be enshrined in the Bill. As the Minister suggested that the changes that he is making are not intended to undermine us, I hope that he will be able to give us the assurances that we require.