Clause 14 - Functions

Part of National Lottery Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:30 pm on 25th October 2005.

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Photo of Hugo Swire Hugo Swire Chair, Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art, Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport 6:30 pm, 25th October 2005

Mr Gale, you were right to prevent me from speaking again after the hon. Member for Bath sat down and not to allow me to register my disappointment that the Minister had not addressed the two questions about balances that I had asked.

Amendments Nos. 39 and 40 would remove the ability of the person contributing non-lottery funds to the Big Lottery Fund to control what happens to the money. The amendments relate somewhat to the previous discussion and touch again on the financial operations of the Big Lottery Fund. I want to hear from the Minister how he envisages the Big Lottery Fund will be able to distribute non-lottery funds in practice. I admit to what I have been accused of earlier, which is a degree of scepticism, but my fear is that the Big Lottery Fund will become a conduit for Government or taxpayers’ money and the lines will become so blurred that no one will be able to distinguish which is which. It will become a brand through which the Government can channel money in any school dinner-type emergency, as they so enjoy doing.

Amendment No. 41 therefore proposes a reasonable limit on the amount of non-lottery funds that the BLF can handle. It is designed to ensure that the lines do not become blurred. Amendments No. 39 and 40 would remove the ability of the person who gives the Big Lottery Fund non-lottery funds to influence where the money may go. The Bill states that that person may

“limit the Fund’s freedom of action in relation to the distribution of the money paid under the arrangement.”

That impacts on the operational freedom of the Big Lottery Fund. The provision is akin to someone giving money to a charity and saying that they only want it to spend it on this project or that good cause, or even to a taxpayer giving his taxes to the Chancellor and saying, “Don’t spend this on the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.”—perish the thought. We know the Treasury’s view on those who advocate hypothecation in general taxation terms. We feel strongly that if the Big Lottery Fund is to handle this money, those who provide it will have undue influence on its eventual destination.