Clause 17

Part of Dormant Bank and Building Society Accounts Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:15 pm on 15 October 2008.

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Photo of Mark Hoban Mark Hoban Shadow Minister (Treasury) 4:15, 15 October 2008

I am grateful for the Minister’s comments on how he will seek through the Bill and schedule 3 to ensure transparency in the way that the money is distributed by the Big Lottery Fund. As the schedule makes it clear, there will be a separate set of accounts for that. It is an important principle—particularly as we are talking about a voluntary scheme—that people should know that this is not a substitute for Government expenditure. If people thought that it was, it would increase their cynicism. It would be seen as another way of fleecing people and as a ruse to find a substitute for tax revenues by raiding dormant accounts. It is important to have transparency in the way that money is used, and as much effort as possible must be made to ensure clear blue water between the Government’s own spending priorities and the uses to which the money will be put. That would lend credibility to the assertion that the funding is additional, and it would provide a helpful backdrop against which we could debate the avenues to which other assets could be directed. The scheme would be seen to be working for the benefit of the wider community and not as a substitute.

There are many reasons why additionality is an important feature of the debate and of how the fund will operate in the future. I take on board the comments that the wording may be defective, but parliamentary draftsmen are available to the Government and if they were really keen, I am sure that they could polish it up. It sounds as if the national lottery debate and the National Lottery Act went through the same process without much success, but perhaps Treasury draftsmen would be more efficient and effective. In view of the Minister’s assurances, and my recognition that he takes the issue very seriously, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.