Focus: Policy and Politics - Lords dig in for additionality clause

Opposition peers will fight for reform of the National Lottery Bill, writes Stephen Cook.

Conservative and Liberal Democrat peers have told the Government it will have a fight on its hands when the National Lottery Bill goes through its committee stage in the House of Lords next month.

During the second reading debate last week, they warned that they would continue to push for less government control over the Big Lottery Fund - as did their counterparts in the Commons.

They also want the Bill to contain a stronger commitment to the 'additionality' principle and a clear statement that between 60 and 70 per cent of BLF spending will go to the voluntary sector.

The Government rejected all three proposals in the Commons, but campaigners are still hopeful that it can be persuaded to change its mind on some of them.

The groups include the NCVO, which believes the political composition of the Lords increases the chances of gaining concessions, although they could later be reversed by the Commons.

Pete Moorey, its parliamentary and campaigns officer, said there was "probably not much room for manoeuvre" on the clause that permits ministers to direct the grant-making of the BLF.

"But there are signs they are willing to move a bit more on the additionality question that featured strongly in the last debate in the Commons," he said. " We don't think that's a lost cause at all."

The BLF and other lottery funders have pledged to prepare annual reports on additionality - the principle that lottery funding should not replace government funding.

But ministers have declined to make this a requirement in the Bill.

During the second reading debate, Viscount Astor, Conservative spokesman on the lottery, gave notice that he would seek a clause on additionality and press his party's policy of replacing the Big Lottery Fund with the four original lottery distributors. "Ministers will not admit that they have broken the principle of additionality and they claim to be committed to it," he said. "However, it is clear to everyone else that they have (broken the principle)."

Liberal Democrat culture media and sport spokesman Lord Clement-Jones said that changes to the Bill's definition of charitable expenditure would "allow for further moneys to be siphoned off for programmes in the areas of health and education".

KEY POINTS

- Opposition peers have vowed to fight for amendments to the National Lottery Bill

- They want less central control over the Big Lottery Fund and more commitment to the additionality principle

- NCVO believes there is room for negotiation on the latter point

- BLF and other lottery funders have pledged to prepare annual reports on additionality.

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