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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 Richard Caborn Richard Caborn Minister of State (Sport), Department for Culture, Media & Sport 12:30 pm, 25th October 2005

Mr. Cook, the only red-and-white terrace I shall be on is at the Sheffield United ground at Bramall lane; we are top of the Championship at the moment, 23 points ahead of Sheffield Wednesday—but that is totally irrelevant to our proceedings.

One of the allegations that has been made is that we and the voluntary sector do not consult. I am a little concerned about that because, as we have demonstrated in this Committee and in the Committee that considered the London Olympics Bill, my officials and I have been incredibly open. We have tried to be as helpful as possible in explaining what we are doing and why we are doing those things. We have given all the information available to us to the Committee, and to the voluntary sector.

Indeed, we value that compact; I say that genuinely. I have met with the voluntary sector on a number of occasions, as have my officials. The NCVO has told us more than once that it thinks we could do better by meeting all its requirements in full. It is obvious that it should hold that opinion; everybody comes along with a shopping list, and if we do not accept everything on it, they think that is wrong. I understand that. However, we have shared all the information with the voluntary sector, and in particular the emerging plans as they have been prepared, in order to make sure that we were interfacing.

Voluntary sector organisations might not agree with everything that we have said or that is in the Bill; far from it, and it would be stupid to think we could achieve that. However, the one thing I can say with certainty is that we have gone to great lengths to consult. In fact, at the last meeting I was at, people said they had consultation fatigue, because more of their time was being absorbed responding to our consultations than delivering services to the clientele of their charity. Consultation has taken up huge amounts of time. We have to strike a balance.

I value the compact that we have. We must strike a balance so that we make sure both that we consult on matters and that we consult at the right time, so that others' views can be factored in to Government policy. That has happened, and it will continue to happen.