Focus: Policy and Politics - Question Time - Don Foster, Liberal Democrat MP for Bath

What are your main concerns about the National Lottery Bill?

Six areas concerned us before the first sittings of the standing committee last week. First was the definition of additionality and the need to ensure we arrive at a definition, and that we have annual reports on whether or not those criteria are being met.

Second, through the entire Bill unprecedented additional powers are being given to the Secretary of State. Third, we think a debate is needed on the nature of public participation.

We also have concerns about getting the balance right in terms of the Big Lottery Fund's ability to give out loans as opposed to grants, and making sure we don't turn it predominantly into a loan-making body.

Then there is the issue of the new purpose-based definition of charitable expenditure and the need to get absolute assurances that 60-70 per cent of the Big Lottery Fund's money will be spent on the voluntary and community sector.

What has happened in standing committee so far?

What we have seen so far is a fair degree of intransigence from the Government.

It has been largely unwilling to accept many of the amendments either we or the Conservatives - including those recommended to us by the NCVO - have put down.

Although we're getting a large number of assurances on the record, we would prefer to see those we're concerned about on the face of the legislation.

What has happened about clause 8?

In terms of the power of the Secretary of State to be able to set up new distribution bodies and take away the role from others (as recommended in the Government's amendment to clause 8), the Government has given one critical assurance. That is: in any such transfer, which would be as a last resort, both the funds and the commitments of lottery distributors would be transferred to the new body.

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