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Part of National Lottery Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 3rd November 2005.

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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 2:00 pm, 3rd November 2005

The Minister—in his words, not mine—said that distributors can simply decide not to make a grant. Of course they can decide not to make the grants, but they must give reasons for not doing so. The problem is that because of the politically correct world that we now inhabit, at times they have found themselves having to make those grants rather than fighting their case, because they have no reputation or impact clause on which to fall back. The Minister has not quite grasped the point.

The Minister was quick to say what the Government were doing to get more publicity for the lottery so that more people are aware of what the lottery does. I suppose that that is manifestly a good thing. However, it still does not address the problem of giving distributors the ability to fall back on a reputational impact clause. I know that some of them would like to have such a clause, and it would have avoided some of the grants that have undermined the lottery.

We live in a plural society, and there is no absolute failsafe method of preventing adverse comments made by the press about grants that a particular paper with a particular agenda might consider inappropriate. That will always happen. However, that does not mean that we should not try to stop that by including the provisions of the proposed new clause in the Bill. If that was our argument for legislation, we would not have much legislation on anything.

I was disappointed in the hon. Member for East Dunbartonshire who spoke on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, because I hold her in high regard. She made a motherhood and apple pie Liberal Democrat speech, saying “on the one hand” and “on the other hand”. Although the hon. Lady did not agree with me, she did not say what she thought could replace the provisions. This may be one of those occasions when we end the Committee divided, with the Opposition seeking to vote against the Government but without the support of the Liberal Democrats, who have been such supporters of ours during most of the Committee’s deliberations.

I am not satisfied that the proposed new clause should not be included in the Bill; in fact, I am convinced that it should be included. The hon. Member for Glasgow, South is also keen for it to be included in the Bill; his criticism seems to be that we are being contradictory by prescribing. It is not really a prescription: a reputational impact clause is empowering the distributors to take decisions based on their own judgment rather than being forced to do so for reasons of political correctness or other agendas. It is therefore with some delight and anticipation, Mr. Gale, that I seek to attract your eye in order to press this final amendment to a vote.