New Clause 1 - GUIDANCE TO DISTRIBUTING BODIES

Part of National Lottery Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:30 pm on 3rd November 2005.

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Photo of Don Foster Don Foster Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport 1:30 pm, 3rd November 2005

In all fairness to the Minister, I think that he lost most of us with that argument. The new clause does not say that there has to be a definition. It refers to areas in which a discussion should take place.

The Minister should think through some of the things that he has been saying during the passage of the Bill. When it suits his purpose he tells us that we should not have definitions; at other times he says that we must have precise definitions of words that some of us do not think need to be defined. To use an example picked at random schedule 1 deals with licensing procedures. We had a debate the other day about whether a licence should be issued to a person who is “suitable. The words used in the schedule are that the commission must be

“satisfied that the applicant is a suitable person to promote the lottery or lotteries”.

We have only to read down a few lines to see that it is crucial to define the word suitable; we cannot run the risk of a lawyer’s nightmare there, so we have to have a definition. “Suitable” is clearly defined in terms of the integrity, competence and financial circumstances of the applicant. In one set of circumstances the Minister thinks that it is important to have a definition to avoid the lawyers’ paradise, but in other circumstances we should avoid having a definition because having one will create a lawyer’s paradise. The argument does not work both ways.

My problem is simple: I have not had a response from the Minister to new clause 1. I have had a response to an amendment that he thought was tabled, but it is not the amendment that I proposed. It strikes me that rather than delay the Committee now, because this is clearly an issue to which the House will want to return, we would do well to accept that so far the Minister has not marshalled his arguments well. He accused me of not presenting the case for the new clause particularly effectively, so perhaps both of us should go back to the drawing board and find another way of approaching the issue. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.