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Clause 13 - Establishment

Part of National Lottery Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 25th October 2005.

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Photo of Don Foster Don Foster Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport 4:30 pm, 25th October 2005

We will get a full answer in a moment when the Minister replies, but I hope before that the hon. Gentleman will make a further contribution. I am sure that he would wish to draw attention to the concerns of the NCVO and other organisations about the depth of consultation, an issue he picked up on just before lunch and about which he has now been more thoroughly briefed. If not, I have a briefing on the matter, but I thought that the hon. Gentleman might want to tell us why he is concerned, as I am, about the way the Government consulted on the creation of the new body.

I do not want to go into detail and steal the hon. Gentleman’s thunder, but I hope that the Minister will acknowledge that, notwithstanding what he told us before lunch, many voluntary and community organisations are deeply concerned about how that consultation took place. They are particularly concerned that in 2004, while consultation was still going on about the key purposes of the Big Lottery Fund, the Secretary of State announced what they were to be, before that consultation had been completed.

I end on a more conciliatory note. We are told that the bringing together of the New Opportunities Fund and the Communities Fund will bring economies of scale of between 10 and 20 per cent. That, I am sure, is likely to be the case; I have been assured by the Big Lottery Fund that it is. However, during the deliberations that led to the decision to go ahead with it, there was quite a lot of talk about some of the additional functions that the Big Lottery Fund might take on: being a centre for excellence, giving advice to anyone applying for a grant and so on.

I can find no reference to any of that additional activity in the Bill, nor can I find that in the explanatory notes. I may have missed it, but I hope that when the Minister responds, in addition to saying why we should go ahead and do exactly what he wants by accepting the Big Lottery Fund, despite all my misgivings and concerns about it, he will explain in a little more detail the fund’s area of activity. I particularly ask him to do that because there is concern that if it takes on the additional functions, that may reduce expertise among other distributors and the availability of funding for good causes.