Clause 17

Part of Dormant Bank and Building Society Accounts Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:00 pm on 15 October 2008.

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Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Conservative, Cities of London and Westminster 4:00, 15 October 2008

My hon. Friend has got is absolutely right but I fear that the pass has already been well lost on this matter. Immediately after my hon. Friend succeeded me as the shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury I had the joy of spending a year on the arts and culture brief, one of the elements of which was the National Lottery Act 2006. As my hon. Friend rightly points out, at the outset the national lottery was designed with four heads in mind: arts, charities, heritage and sports, as well as the millennium fund in the run-up to and immediately after the turn of the century.

The 2006 Act set up the Big Lottery Fund. There are some very good people working there. I cast no aspersions on their work, but there is little doubt that the whole issue of additionality and substitution was cast to one side by the Government at that time. Time and again we warned that setting up the Big Lottery Fund would move away from the initial heads for lottery funding. I fear that is precisely what will happen with the Big Lottery Fund taking over the issue of dormant accounts.  It will inevitably be assumed that a certain amount of money will come from these dormant accounts each year and there is a worry that it will not therefore be additional. There will be an element of substitution, particularly when Government spending at local or national level is likely to be tight in the years to come.

The Big Lottery Fund, which now spends over half of the lottery funds that are distributed, does so according to one or two of the original objectives when the lottery was set up nearly a decade and a half ago. It also spends, as the Minister will be well aware, significant sums in areas such as health, education and other promotional elements, which would usually be expected to come from general Exchequer funding. The worry here is that there will not be that sense of additionality in some of the funding and some of the proposals that the Big Lottery Fund will have in mind in its distribution policies. I fear that by passing it on to the Big Lottery Fund, we will not be in any position to monitor it properly.