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 Don Foster Don Foster Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport 6:30 pm, 25th October 2005

I will confess at the beginning of my remarks that I am going to do as the Minister says and beg leave to withdraw. Notwithstanding his joke and his assurance that it is not anyone’s intention to create “Loans R Us” and that loan making is not to be a major function of the Big Lottery Fund, the Committee would have found it helpful had he given some ballpark indication of the split between loan making and grant giving, at least so that we could get a feel for the Government’s position. It is slightly odd that he is not prepared to do that while resisting amendments that would remove the right of the Secretary of State to specify in detail how different parts of the BLF money is to be spent. On the one hand, he is asking us to allow the Secretary of State to have powers to micro-manage and to specify precisely how the money will be distributed; on the other hand, he is not prepared to give any indication of the sort of split that there might be. I say to the Minister that perhaps he has not treated the amendments with the respect that they deserve.

I end by saying to the right hon. Gentleman, in the kindest and most gentle way possible, that he seems to want to have his cake and eat it. One minute he is telling us that it is disgraceful for the Opposition parties want to write in the Bill that 60 per cent. to 70 per cent. of the money should be spent in a particular area—in this case, on voluntary community activities—despite the assurances that everyone under the sun has given; the next minute, he wants us blithely to accept that at some later date, via an order to be laid at a later stage, the Secretary of State will be able to do all of that. He will not accept the will of the Committee and perhaps of the House to specify that 60 per cent. to 70 per cent. proportion.

There are many inconsistencies in what we are hearing today and we will want to explore them in more detail, perhaps in another form at a later stage. I am disappointed with the Minister’s response, but I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.