Clause 7 - National Lottery Distribution Fund: apportionment

Part of National Lottery Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:00 pm on 25th October 2005.

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Photo of Richard Caborn Richard Caborn Minister of State (Sport), Department for Culture, Media & Sport 4:00 pm, 25th October 2005

I welcome you, Mr. Gale, to the Chair; I did so in your absence this morning. I can definitely say that you are not indulgent—I have been under your chairmanship before—but I know that you are fair.

I ask the Committee to resist amendment No. 29. It would insert a new subsection into section 22 of the National Lottery etc. Act 1993 requiring a statutory consultation process before the Secretary of State makes an order. It would also require such consultation to take place at least three months before an order was made. We discussed consultation requirements in our debate this morning, and I can add little to what I said then.

We expect to consult widely before making orders, as we did recently on the interim order for the New Opportunities Fund, but we also need flexibility. We may sometimes need to act quickly, and a minimum of three months consultation would not be practical. However, the safeguard is there, because such orders would still be open to parliamentary scrutiny, as they would be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. With that assurance, I hope that the hon. Member for East Devon will withdraw the amendment.

There has been some talk of consultation. The compact is important to us and, yes, a departmental review was undertaken by the NCVO. It was funded by the Big Lottery Fund; in effect, we funded it. There is nothing like funding if Members want to criticise, but that is democracy. The Big Lottery Fund decided that it would be appropriate to fund the review.

I am not going to say that we got everything right—we did not—but the compact is a significant move in the right direction. We might have missed a few dates by two weeks here or three weeks there, but I did not say that my Department was suffering from consultation fatigue. It is not; it is there to be consulted. I said that those outside bodies had said that the consultation took a lot of time and resources, and some quantified that as fatigue. When one looks at this document, by any standards, consultation has taken place. Not all the answers that the NCVO sought are there, but no one could deny that we take seriously the compact and the consultation with the voluntary sector. I say that genuinely because of the massive contributions that it makes to our society and our communities, and long may they do so. Long may the lottery also be there to ensure that the voluntary sector can carry out its tasks. That is what the Bill is all about—the modernisation and evolution of the lottery. Given those few words of assurance, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will withdraw the amendment.