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Schedule 1 - National lottery licensing

National Lottery Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:15 pm on 1st November 2005.

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Question proposed, That this schedule be the First schedule to the Bill.

Photo of Don Foster Don Foster Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

Welcome back, Mr. Gale. You will be pleased to note that we are making rather more rapid progress than we did the last time you occupied the Chair.

Schedule 1 deals with national lottery licensing. It makes several changes to the National Lottery Act etc. 1993, including in respect of licensing persons to promote lotteries. I do not disagree with any particular aspect of the schedule, but I suggest to the Minister that the changes he wants to make to the 1993 Act do not go far enough.

I do not deny that I am slightly confused by some of the paperwork before us. The Minister has helpfully provided us with a copy of the now infamous Keeling document, which incorporates all the proposed changes to the 1993 Act, as amended by later legislation. I have struggled to make some sense of how schedule 1 has been incorporated in that document. On the assumption that I have got it wrong and the document is absolutely correct, no change is planned to section 6(5) of the 1993 Act, in particular paragraph (a). According to the Keeling document, after the Bill is passed, section 6(4) of that Act will state:

''The Commission shall not grant such a licence''— to promote lotteries—

''unless it is satisfied that the applicant is a fit and proper person to promote lotteries under the licence.''

Subsection (4) is very clear, stating that the commission shall not grant a licence unless it is satisfied that the person is fit and proper. However, immediately afterwards, subsection (5) states:

''In determining whether to grant such a licence, the Commission may consider—

(a) whether any person who appears to it to be likely to manage the business or any part of the business of promoting lotteries under the licence is a fit and proper and person to do so''.

The first of two successive subsections in section 6 states that the commission must ensure that a person is fit and proper, but the second says that it may consider whether the person is fit and proper. I am totally confused about what it is meant to do and why both provisions are necessary. I would be grateful for an explanation from the Minister.

Photo of Richard Caborn Richard Caborn Minister of State (Sport), Department for Culture, Media & Sport

I shall try to explain. The hon. Gentleman has omitted to say that, before the changes we propose, the 1993 Act states:

''The Commission shall not grant such a licence unless it is satisfied that the applicant is a fit and proper body to promote lotteries under the licence.''

The Bill will delete ''body'' and insert ''person''. We had a debate this morning about the definition of ''person'', and I told the hon. Gentleman that I shall write to him because the legal interpretation of that term is not as clear to the layperson as we want. We shall go to the lawyers and get the proper interpretation of whether the term includes the corporate body as well as persons. We were informed that ''persons'' includes the corporate body.

Section 6(5) of the 1993 Act states:

''In determining whether to grant such a licence, the Commission may consider—

(a) whether any person who appears to it to be likely to manage the business or any part of the business of promoting lotteries under the licence is a fit and proper person to do so''.

That is clear in the sense that the term ''body'' has been deleted and ''person'' inserted. I shall give the explanation of ''persons'', as we discussed this morning. I do not see any conflict at all.

Photo of Don Foster Don Foster Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

I shall read my copy again—I apologise for putting it on the record twice and to anybody who may be given the task of recording what we are saying. I accept the change from ''body'' to ''person'', so I am incorporating that in what I say. Section 6(4) clearly states:

''The Commission shall not grant such a licence unless it is satisfied that the applicant is a fit and proper person to promote lotteries under the licence.''

Subsection (5) states:

''In determining whether to grant such a licence, the Commission may consider—

(a) whether any person who appears to it to be likely to manage the business or any part of the business of promoting lotteries under the licence is a fit and proper and person to do so''.

It seems to be saying the same thing, with the exception that one says that the person must do it and in the other it says that they may. Surely it has to be one or the other. I assume that it has to be that they will do it.

Photo of Richard Caborn Richard Caborn Minister of State (Sport), Department for Culture, Media & Sport

There are two different persons involved. Section 6(4) applies to the licensee while   section 6(5)(a) applies to managers of the business and to key employees or directors.

Photo of Don Foster Don Foster Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

That brings us back to the debate that we had this morning about the change to ''person''. The Minister is telling us that a person, who could be a body, gets the licence while a person, who is not a body, will be the manager of the operation. We come back to the issue of which of those ''persons'' needs a personal licence. Can the Minister tell us whether the manager will be required to have a personal licence? A yes or no answer would be helpful.

Photo of Richard Caborn Richard Caborn Minister of State (Sport), Department for Culture, Media & Sport

I am not going to give a yes or no answer. I think that subsection (5)(a) defines that person. Let us go back to section 6(4):

''The Commission shall not grant such a licence unless it is satisfied that the applicant is a fit and proper person to promote lotteries under the licence'', while subsection (5) reads:

''In determining whether to grant such a licence, the Commission may consider—

(a) whether any person who appears to it to be likely to manage the business or any part of the business of promoting lotteries under the licence is a fit and proper and person to do so''.

We are using ''person'' to encompass two different categories of people. The first is, as we said, the person and the body corporate. This is what the lawyers say. I acknowledge what members of the Committee are saying; it is a little confusing. We will try to give an explanation in layperson's language and I have given a commitment to do that. In the second case, ''person'' is given definition by the reference to the fact that it means the person who will

''manage the business or any part of the business of promoting lotteries under the licence''.

It also stresses the importance of their being

''a fit and proper person to do so''.

That is clear to me. Following the discussion on the body corporate that we had this morning, the change from ''body'' to ''person'' in section 6(4) needs clarification. I will communicate that clarification to the Committee by letter or by a different form of explanation.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale Conservative, North Thanet

Order. Before we proceed any further, I have to point out that the past five or six minutes of the debate have, strictly speaking, been out of order. I let it run because I think that it is important that matters are placed on the record and members have the opportunity to ask questions. However, we are debating a document that is not before the Committee, which is improper. The Keeling schedule is not, strictly speaking, before the Committee. We are actually debating schedule 1, and I fear that I must now ask the Committee to return to it.

Photo of Don Foster Don Foster Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport 4:30 pm, 1st November 2005

I may be in some difficulty. I do not want to try your patience, Mr. Gale, and you can tell me whether I am in order. I believe that it is legitimate to raise this matter because schedule 1 changes the 1993 Act and, in particular, makes small changes to section 6 of that Act, which deals with the licensing of persons to promote lotteries.  

I am arguing that the amendments made by the Bill do not go far enough and that a further change should have been incorporated in the schedule. I am asking the Minister to help me with that. If I have understood him correctly, when determining the licence the commission will look at the person—which might be a body corporate—who will be the licence holder and is required to determine whether that person is fit and proper. It is, however, possible that the body or the person who has the licence will leave the task of delivering promotion of the lottery to some other person, who is a manager. I fail to understand why it is deemed appropriate to insist that there be a check on whether the person who receives the licence is fit and proper, but there is no similar requirement to insist on a check to ensure that the manager is a fit and proper person. If the licence is to be run by someone as a manager, I am sure that we would all be much happier if we knew that there was a requirement on the commission to check that the person who will do all the work and conduct the day-to-day operation is fit and proper to do so. The word ''may'' should be changed to ''shall''.

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

I think I understand where the hon. Gentleman is coming from, but is not the point that whereas the person or body to whom the licence is granted will be the licence holder for the duration of the licence period—10 or 15 years—the manager might change, and that whereas one can deal with the expectation of one, it is difficult to see how to deal with the expectation of the other?

Photo of Don Foster Don Foster Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

I understand where the hon. Gentleman is coming from. However, if I were giving a contract to someone to do work for me—perhaps a builder or a plumber—I would want to be confident that the person to whom I let that contract would not employ to carry out the work people who I was not confident were fit and proper to do the job. I would seek some assurances and would certainly want to check that the staff carrying out the work were fit and proper to do the job. I am merely saying that the same should apply to the lottery.

The Minister, more than most members of the Committee, will be aware of why I pursue the matter with such vigour. We had similar debates about other aspects of gambling outwith lotteries during the passage of the Gambling Act 2005, when matters of great concern were raised about family arcades and so on. One person may own a family arcade but what matters in ensuring that the laws of the land are upheld, young people are protected and so on is that the people who manage that arcade are fit and proper to do the job. The Minister will be aware that we have debated the issue in the past.

Photo of Adam Afriyie Adam Afriyie Conservative, Windsor

Again, I apologise to the Committee if I am being naive. I have scanned through the papers and I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman agrees that the schedule reveals major changes to the 1993 Act. The schedule refers to three subsections, but section 6 of the 1993 Act has six subsections. I know that the   marked-up document is not part of our proceedings but that is definitely not reflected in that document, which is why I have only just spotted it. I hope that the Minister will respond.

Photo of Don Foster Don Foster Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

I alluded in my opening remarks to a similar confusion, although I did not express it as clearly as the hon. Gentleman. As you rightly pointed out, Mr. Gale, the Keeling document is not before us, so it is not to be commented on; but if the Minister were considering making available to members of the Committee any subsequent paperwork, it would be helpful if he checked that it reflects the changes in schedule 1.

Photo of Richard Caborn Richard Caborn Minister of State (Sport), Department for Culture, Media & Sport

Your guidance is, of course, correct, Mr. Gale. The Keeling document does not include schedule 1, because it is an amendment to the 1993 Act. We are in danger of misleading one another. This is the last time we issue a Keeling document, I can assure you, Mr. Gale. It was issued to try to be helpful—as guidance. As you rightly say, Mr. Gale, we are debating some of the amendments to section 6 of the 1993 Act. Schedule 1 is an amendment to the 1993 Act and it will, I hope, become part of the new National Lottery Act. Schedule 1 has to be brought into play, and that is where one can easily be misled by the Keeling document.

Photo of Don Foster Don Foster Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

I shall leave it there. I have raised the issue. I still believe that someone who is going to manage a licence ought to have been checked out and declared fit and proper. I hope that we get the opportunity—perhaps by my moving an amendment—to discuss the issue at a later stage of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Schedule 1 agreed to.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale Conservative, North Thanet

Before we proceed, the Minister has made reference to the Keeling document and he has endeavoured to be helpful. There would have been nothing wrong with that document being placed on the Table, with the permission of the Chair; it could then have been included in debate. By seeking to be helpful but surreptitiously so, the Minister has fallen into the trap of not making the document available of the Clerk and the Chairman, which means that it is not technically admissible. Should the Minister ever want to do that again, he should do it properly.

Photo of Don Foster Don Foster Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

On a point of order, Mr. Gale. Is there a mechanism in order to pass a message to the Minister saying that everyone on the Opposition Benches in the Committee has found the document to which you refer, Mr. Gale, to be extraordinarily helpful? We hope that nothing said by any of us will prevent the Minister from wishing in the future to do something similar.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale Conservative, North Thanet

I know of no such mechanism.

Further consideration adjourned.—[Claire Ward.]

Adjourned accordingly at twenty-two minutes to Five o'clock till Thursday 3 November at half-past Nine o'clock.