All 4 Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay contributions to the Dormant Assets Act 2022

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Mon 21st Jun 2021
Tue 16th Nov 2021
Tue 23rd Nov 2021
Wed 9th Feb 2022
Dormant Assets Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

Consideration of Commons amendments
Moved by
6: Clause 2, page 3, line 8, leave out “were” and insert “are”
Member’s explanatory statement
This would correct an inconsistency between Clause 2(2)(a) and corresponding provisions elsewhere in Part 1, such as Clause 8(2)(a).
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My Lords, on 14 June the Minister tabled minor and technical amendments that, as she has explained to the Committee, are needed to ensure that the Bill works properly. These included changes for clarity and consistency and updates to references and consequential amendments. My noble friend set out these amendments, along with some further detail, in her letter to all noble Lords on the same date.

The changes relating to consistency can be grouped into two categories. The first, including Amendments 6, 10 and 12, seeks to ensure consistency of language in the insurance and pension transfer provisions. This includes a change of tense to align with other transfer provisions. These amendments would change references to a person to whom the benefits or proceeds

“were payable immediately before the transfer”

to a person to whom they are

“payable immediately before the transfer”.

The other change to the insurance and pension transfer provisions is to correct a minor terminological error in Clause 7(5)(c), which should refer to the “benefits” rather than the “proceeds”, aligning with the pension benefits mentioned in the opening words of Clause 7(5).

The second category, including Amendments 34 to 37, seeks to ensure consistency of language in references to shareholders. In particular, it would change references to the individual in whose name the share was “held” to the individual in whose name the share was “registered” so that there could be no doubt that the Bill refers to the same individual. I beg to move.

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Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, I have nothing to add except that government Amendment 12 is described as a “verbal error”. I am not quite sure that you can have a verbal error in a piece of written legislation; perhaps the Minister can help us with that one.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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I am grateful to the noble Baroness and the noble Lord for their support and brevity. As I said, these are minor amendments.

The noble Lord, Lord Bassam, alighted on “verbal”. I changed that word in my opening to this short debate to “terminological”; I hope he agrees that that is a bit clearer. Either way, I hope he sees that it is de minimis.

Amendment 6 agreed.
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Moved by
11: Clause 7, page 6, line 43, leave out “the person mentioned in subsection (2)(a) or” and insert “a person mentioned in subsection”
Member’s explanatory statement
This would correct two minor errors in Clause 7(3)(b)(ii). The reference to subsection (2)(a) is unnecessary and should be removed. And “a person” at the beginning is more accurate than “the person”, as there may be no person of the kind mentioned.
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My Lords, again, these amendments relate to the minor and technical amendments about which the Minister, my noble friend Lady Barran, wrote to your Lordships on 14 June.

Amendments 66 to 72 are consequential amendments to the schedules to other pieces of legislation. Amendment 66 would amend references in the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 to an “authorised reclaim fund”; it would also amend the regulated activities order to ensure that it reflects the wider activities of a reclaim fund provided for by the Bill.

Amendments 67 to 71 would amend the Dormant Bank and Building Society Accounts Act 2008. Amendment 67 would ensure that the provisions made in Clause 17(1) of the Bill, on trust and fiduciary duties, apply to banking assets. Amendments 68 and 69 would clarify that the Reclaim Fund is to transfer money from unwanted assets to the National Lottery Community Fund while being able to retain the amount it needs to meet regulatory requirements or expenses. Amendment 70 would remove an unnecessary reference to the deduction of expenses from surplus funds. As these have already been identified as surplus and therefore available in full for transfer to good causes, no further deductions would be needed. Amendments 71 and 72 would ensure that the 2008 Act refers to all types of eligible pensions benefits.

The other amendments—Amendments 11, 32, 38 to 41, 43, 47 to 49, 73, 74 and 76—would ensure that cross-references to the Bill are correct. I beg to move.

Baroness Kramer Portrait Baroness Kramer (LD)
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My Lords, I will again be brief but I went nearly mad trying to track some of these amendments through. I accept that they are consequential but I have one question. FSMA 2000, an Act with which I have spent far too much of my life, will—after these amendments—now use the phrase “unwanted asset money”. Are the Government comfortable that we do not have a problem with the word “unwanted”? There is a difference between dormant money and money that is unwanted. We all know that the reclaim process is critical but I want to be sure that we have not got ourselves into any tricky corners with all of that. That is my only comment; the intent is obviously consequential.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, I too am broadly satisfied with this collection of amendments, although they raise some questions about the initial drafting. I made a point about that at the outset of this afternoon’s deliberations. I just wonder why we have to amend the definition of “third party” by government Amendment 47. Also, what is not right—this is in government Amendment 49—with the definition of “repayment claims” that requires amendment? Perhaps the Minister could help us with that.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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Again, I am grateful to the noble Lords for their support, particularly given the large number of amendments, albeit small ones. To answer the question of the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, the use of “unwanted asset” is the intended terminology. “Unwanted” is different from “dormant”.

On the question raised by the noble Lord, Lord Bassam of Brighton, if he will forgive me, given the speed of progress on this group, it might be better if I make sure that I have understood it and write to him with a full answer so that he has that before Report. With that, I commend these amendments to the Committee.

Amendment 11 agreed.

Dormant Assets Bill [HL]

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Excerpts
Baroness Barker Portrait Baroness Barker (LD)
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My Lords, when I initially heard about community wealth funds, I was rather sceptical, and I perhaps remain on the more sceptical end of the spectrum in your Lordships’ House. But during discussions on the Bill, I have become less sceptical about the idea, as the noble Lords, Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, have talked to me, along with the groups mentioned by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Ely.

Two things in particular have caused me to think again. The first is the experience of the pandemic and how everybody’s sense of locality and place has changed. I happen to live in south London, and one of the many things that got me through the toughest of times was discovering local parks that I had never come across before. Watching other people having to live their lives in a much more geographically restricted scope has made a new sense of place. I now understand —in a way that I perhaps did not before—that being able to appreciate and develop your community space will be a very important part of people’s physical, economic and mental well-being in future.

The second reason why I have changed my mind is this. The noble Baroness gave a long list of community initiatives that have flowed out over the past 30 years, many of them from the National Lottery, the new deal for communities and so on. Pretty much all of them were the release of resources into a community, with varying degrees of restriction on how they could be spent—but they were resources to be spent in poor communities.

This is about something different. It is about an investment fund that has to generate wealth within those communities. To do that, the people who will be managing it locally will have to learn and display economic development skills themselves. That is a different proposal from the ones before. The noble Baroness is right that, as we move through a huge period of economic change—green development and the green economy—if we get away from the old idea of development solely in buildings and talk about investment in economic skills and new jobs, managed in a much more local way, that has the potential to be different.

The noble Lord, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, was absolutely right: we had to grab a passing Bill and shove something on to it. But the very purpose of this Bill is to take assets that are lying dormant and put them into communities where people are financially excluded, do not have business skills or need some help with the generation of wealth and well-being. This is about doing that with people in their community, not yet another building. So I have changed my mind and think this is something different, and therefore I now think it is worthy of support.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay) (Con)
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My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Bassam of Brighton, the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Newcastle, and my noble friend Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts for tabling this amendment relating to community wealth funds. I am also grateful to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Ely, who spoke on behalf of his right reverend friend, who, as he explained, has made her valedictory speech to your Lordships’ House and is therefore unable to speak today. I offer my best wishes to her as she leaves your Lordships’ House for a well-earned retirement and thank her for her contributions, both here in your Lordships’ House and across the diocese; it is one I hold particularly dear, having been baptised in it and having many relatives who live there still. I know that she will be much missed, but we are delighted that, through the apostolic succession, the right reverend prelate the Bishop of Ely was able to speak for her today.

I hope that, during my remarks, I can reassure all noble Lords who have spoken that it is already possible for community wealth funds to be a named cause in an order made under Section 18A, and that I can demonstrate why this amendment, even in its semi-skimmed form—if that is the evolution from the full-fat version to which the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, alluded earlier—is still unnecessary.

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Baroness Barker Portrait Baroness Barker (LD)
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My Lords, I will just add two points to the very convincing case made by noble friend Lady Kramer. First, the Minister knows from all our discussions that we on these Benches have concerns about the loose nature of this scheme and the somewhat loose definition of its purposes. Therefore, it remains a concern that it is a not insignificant pot of money that can be very easily diverted. Part of what we are trying to do this afternoon, in a number of different ways, is to bring this scheme under a much tighter definition and close loopholes.

Secondly, we listened very carefully to the noble Baroness, Lady Barran, and the noble Lord himself, when we had discussions. They explained to us, in particular, that the new purposes under the Bill—financial inclusion and the very ambitious programme that Fair4All Finance has of putting loan sharks out of business—might necessitate the sorts of skills that are not commonly found within the social enterprise or charitable sector. It might require there to be companies in forms that are not usually found within the social enterprise sector, either. So I would like the Minister to acknowledge, in dealing with this amendment, that it is specifically that part of the scheme which has caused us to move. We are not talking about private companies entering into the other parts of the Bill, to my mind—unless he can make a case for them to do so.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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I am grateful to the noble Baronesses for their amendment and for their vigilance and scrutiny in this area. I am grateful also for their time the other day, when we had a helpful discussion.

Amendment 2 concerns the direction of the English portion of dormant assets funding and seeks to ensure that money cannot be used purely for profit but must have public good at its heart. It is already enshrined in primary legislation that dormant assets funding must be distributed to initiatives with a social or environmental purpose. This is a clear and core function of the scheme and it remains unchanged in the Bill. The Government of course agree that private profit is not the purpose of the dormant assets scheme.

The noble Baronesses’ concerns, as expressed in the amendment and their contributions today, relate to the scheme’s current support for social investment. As I mentioned in the debate on the previous group, dormant assets funding has provided £465 million to Big Society Capital and Access over the last 10 years. During that time, social impact investing in the UK has grown almost eightfold, increasing from £830 million in 2011 to £6.4 billion now, thanks in large part to those two organisations. It is largely by leveraging private capital alongside dormant assets that the market has been able to expand in this way, providing the voluntary, community, and social enterprise sector with access to billions of pounds of investment.

To give an example, dormant assets funding enabled Big Society Capital to invest £6 million in the Fair By Design fund, which aims to eradicate the poverty premium by 2028. Fair By Design invests in several initiatives, including some businesses with considerable impact which provide services in sectors such as energy, insurance, borrowing, transport and food, to support over 340,000 people across the country. Its work has helped those people collectively to save £12 million per year on goods and services for which they were previously paying more than those who were financially better off. The scheme advances important opportunities such as this for collaborating with the private sector and civil society organisations to amplify its impact, within the boundaries of governance structures which ensure that the money is managed appropriately.

I hope I can reassure noble Lords that robust systems are in place to ensure that the money funds projects delivered by organisations that prioritise impact. As a registered charity itself, Access employs strict eligibility criteria for its funding, which ensures that money flows only to those social enterprises and charities that it was created to support. Similarly, £2.5 billion from Big Society Capital and its co-investors is being used to support over 1,500 social enterprises and charities across the country. Both organisations apply layers of due diligence to ensure that the intermediary fund managers with whom they work also have impact embedded in their approaches. Fund managers applying for Big Society Capital funding are required to present a social impact plan during the due diligence process, and Access requires its funds to be held in finance structures that cannot be used commercially.

As these existing structures have operated effectively over the past decade, we do not consider it necessary to place in primary legislation a requirement such as that proposed by Amendment 2, though we understand the concerns the noble Baronesses had and the vigilance which led them to table it. The scheme already ensures that funds go towards organisations with the overall aim of delivering public good, and we will ensure that this continues to be the case.

Ultimately, it remains the Government’s priority to afford people the opportunity to have a say in how funds are distributed in the country, including whether social investment should remain a priority. That is why we have committed to a public consultation to welcome wide-ranging views on how these funds can best have an impact on social and environmental priorities in England. Those are the reasons we cannot accept the amendment, and I hope that the noble Baroness will be satisfied to withdraw it.

Baroness Kramer Portrait Baroness Kramer (LD)
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My Lords, I am glad to have raised the issue and I will be withdrawing the amendment, but I hope very much that the point that I have made will carry through into the Government’s thinking, because this is a constantly changing field. As the Minister knows, with mission-focused companies there is nothing to say that they cannot pay their directors what they like; they can pay what salaries they like and make what returns they like to their core investors. We very much hope that in the reporting requirements that he will talk about later there will be real clarity around this issue. He can expect to find quite a number of Written Questions asking him to detail those kinds of benchmarks, so that we understand what is actually happening with this dormant assets fund. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Moved by
3: Clause 29, page 22, leave out lines 17 to 20 and insert “—
(a) carry out a public consultation about the purposes for which, or the kinds of person to which, the money apportioned under section 17 for meeting English expenditure should be distributed, and(b) consult the Big Lottery Fund about a draft of the order.”Member’s explanatory statement
The amendment would have the effect of adding to 18A(3) of the Dormant Bank and Building Society Accounts Act 2008 (as inserted by Clause 29) a new duty to carry out a public consultation before making a section 18A(1) order, in place of the duty in the current section 18A(3)(b). The consultation would relate to what, or who, should be supported by dormant assets money distributed in England.
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My Lords, a number of noble Lords tabled and signed amendments in Committee which sought to broaden the range of consultees listed in Clause 29 of the Bill, which I believe remains the primary intention of this group of amendments. We share the view about the importance of considering how dormant assets funding can be used most effectively, and we are keen to get a wide range of views to help shape our position, as I said in previous debates. That is why we have consistently committed to launching a public consultation on the social or environmental focus of the English portion of funding before the first order is laid under Clause 29.

In response to the multiple calls which have been made in your Lordships’ House, we are happy to formalise this commitment in legislation. Amendment 3, in my name, therefore makes a public consultation a requirement before any changes can be made to the focus of the English portion of funds now or in the future. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Bassam of Brighton, for adding his name and the support of Her Majesty’s Opposition to our amendment.

Amendment 3 takes the broadest and most inclusive approach to ensuring that the scheme benefits the most pressing social or environmental priorities in England. The Government plan to launch the first of these consultations after the Bill receives Royal Assent and are happy to commit to this lasting at least 12 weeks. Our amendment requires the Secretary of State to consult the National Lottery Community Fund, as the named distributor of dormant assets funding, about a draft of this order. The order would then be subject to the scrutiny of both Houses through the draft affirmative procedure. I beg to move.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, I am speaking on behalf of my noble friend Lady Merron, who signed Amendment 4 but is unable to participate in today’s debate. I should explain that one of our concerns has been a lack of clarity around future consultation. We have already had some discussion this afternoon about consultation, and, of course, it was raised by a number of colleagues during the Bill’s Second Reading and featured fairly heavily during the debates in Grand Committee.

On the face of it, we do not really understand why Amendment 4, which lists a variety of topics and proposed participants, is not acceptable to the Government, but we are nevertheless grateful to the Minister for tabling Amendment 3. For that reason, I agreed to co-sign it on behalf of our Benches. That amendment ensures that there will have to be a full public consultation, as the noble Lord, Lord Parkinson, has already described, which will have to take place before uses for dormant assets funds are determined in regulations.

I am grateful to my noble friend Lady Lister of Burtersett for tabling Amendment 5, which seeks to ensure that future consultations include consideration of the merits of establishing community wealth funds. This is a good addition, and we hope that the Minister can address this point explicitly in his response—not least, of course, because we have passed and supported the community wealth fund amendment this afternoon.

I am therefore looking for further reassurance from the Minister that the public consultation will be run in accordance with Cabinet Office best practice, including the Secretary of State being proactive when engaging with charities and social enterprises, rather than merely posting a notice online. We are satisfied by the Government’s amendment, but we would like to see them go further. I guess that our amendment is inviting them to flesh out exactly how they see this working in some more detail.

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Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts Portrait Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts (Con)
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My Lords, I have put my name to Amendment 5 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Lister. I was reassured by my noble friend’s introductory speech and the deal that has been hacked out between him and the noble Lord, Lord Bassam of Brighton. The noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, has, in part, shot my fox because I wanted to talk about the usual suspects, which she referred to. That is the danger, although I say to the signatories to Amendment 4 that it looks to me like a pretty good list of usual suspects in that amendment. I was not sure that we were not just going back down the track that we were trying to avoid going down.

My reason for supporting the amendment in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, was to make sure that we would make a big effort to get down to the smaller organisations, which often had unique insights into the problems of a particular area. From my point of view, I rather doubt whether that goes well into legislation, but it is the sort of area where a good strong ministerial Statement, given on the Floor, would reassure a lot of us that there will be words that we can go back to if the consultation does not reach as far, as deep and as wide as some of us think it should.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My Lords, I thank noble Lords for their recognition of the action the Government have taken on this, even if it is conditional at the outset. I am grateful to the noble Baronesses, Lady Kramer, Lady Merron and Lady Lister of Burtersett, for the important issues they have raised in tabling Amendment 4. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, my noble friend Lord Hodgson, and the noble Lord, Lord Blunkett, for Amendment 5.

We have had a good debate, both in Committee and again today, and I welcome the support shown for securing the widest possible input into determining the future spending priorities for England. I share the desire raised by noble Lords to ensure that the public, beneficiaries, both Houses of Parliament, social enterprises and charities can have their say on the future focus of dormant assets funding; although I disagree about the means and submit that Amendment 3 is a better way to achieve this, we all share the same intent.

As my noble friend and predecessor Lady Barran outlined in Committee, it is our position that everybody who is interested, rather than a collection of predetermined or specified stakeholders, should be consulted. That is why we have chosen to take the broadest approach available in Amendment 3, and why we believe that Amendment 4 is not as inclusive.

Dormant assets funding is not government money; it originates from individuals who have lost or forgotten about their asset and is voluntarily transferred into the scheme by responsible industry participants who, despite their best efforts, have not been able to reunite those moneys with their owners. The scheme is a unique example of collaboration between the public, private and civil society sectors, responding to the imperative to put forgotten money to better use, rather than letting it gather dust in inactive accounts. Because of the wide range of organisations and individuals that are potentially affected by the scheme, we want to avoid at all costs making further specifications in this clause which could imply that certain groups are more important than others that it might be equally appropriate to consult.

The government amendment is sufficiently broad and, in line with common practice, parliamentary committees will continue to be able to consider relevant issues as they see fit in the future. That is why we do not think it is appropriate or necessary explicitly to name parliamentary committees as a consultee. However, we are happy to commit on the record to engaging with relevant and interested parliamentary committees for the first consultation.

As noble Lords have highlighted, the social and environmental focus of the English portion is a significant and important question. The Government agree that the consultation must be open for a proportionate amount of time to allow for considered and good-quality responses. That is why I am happy to place on the record our commitment that the first consultation under this section will last for at least 12 weeks. I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, and others for their appreciation of that.

I also reassure noble Lords that our intention is to consult widely, taking care to welcome local community voices into the discussion to ensure that we capture as many views as we can, as the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, my noble friend Lord Hodgson and others rightly pressed.

The Government will continue to consider the most appropriate length of future consultations, in line with Cabinet Office guidance. I hope that our previous conduct in this area has proven we take that seriously and are committed to ensuring fair and open consultations on the dormant assets scheme. The 2020 consultation on its expansion, for example, was extended from 12 to 21 weeks, as requested by voices in the industry in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, to ensure that everybody had the time to contribute meaningfully. I am pleased to say that that was very successful: we received 89 responses, representing over 500 organisations and individuals, which informed the development of this legislation. Given the range of interested parties involved and the complexity of the policy area, we will always ensure that a proportionate length of time is provided for consultation. In order to preserve the integrity and protect the impact of the scheme, we also do not anticipate changing the causes regularly.

The consultation would seek views on what social or environmental causes should be supported with dormant assets funding in England. However, we do not think it is appropriate to specify the scope and content of the consultation in primary legislation, including the extent to which the scheme is meeting some of its underlying policy objectives or what additional assets or operational changes would improve its performance. We believe it would be most appropriate and effective to consider those as part of Amendment 7. We therefore do not support combining aspects of this equally important work with the duty to consult, particularly as the latter relates only to England.

Our commitment to an open, fair and inclusive consultation is also the reason why we cannot accept Amendment 5, from the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, which seeks to require the Government to consult on community wealth funds every time an order on English expenditure is considered. I am conscious that we went into a more detailed discussion of the community wealth fund model in our debate on Amendment 1. Even if I did not convince your Lordships’ House not to support that amendment, I hope I convinced noble Lords that the Government are by no means against the proposals for community wealth funds but maintain that putting them in the Bill, and in the case of this amendment legislating for them to be consulted on every time an order was considered, would be inappropriate.

Baroness Lister of Burtersett Portrait Baroness Lister of Burtersett (Lab)
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I am conscious that the Minister has said “every time” every time. Could he give the commitment on the record that the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, was looking for: that the first time—that is, in the first consultation—the Government will give serious consideration to including a reference to community wealth funds and an explanation of what they are?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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The noble Baroness has anticipated my next remarks: I was going to reiterate the commitment given by my noble friend Lady Barran in Committee that the Government will consider including community wealth funds in the first consultation launched under Clause 29. I have already noted that the Government are considering the community wealth fund model as part of the wider development of the levelling-up White Paper. As the work on that is ongoing, now is not the right time to commit to any particular source of funding to be associated with the proposals, but we will continue to look into this matter. As I committed earlier today, the Government will ensure that the consultation provides the opportunity for people to respond with their view, including advocates of community wealth funds and those who think that is their preferred course of action.

For these reasons, the Government feel that our amendments to bolster the consultation requirements and to introduce a separate review and reporting requirement better accomplish our joint aspiration to secure the scheme’s success. I believe that Amendment 3, which I am pleased to say has cross-party support, strengthens the Bill and addresses the House’s desire that any consultation on the use of future dormant assets funding in England must not be restricted to a limited number of perspectives.

In the light of that, I hope the noble Baronesses, Lady Kramer and Lady Lister, will be content with what we have proposed in our amendments and the assurances that I have given today and so may be minded not to press their amendments. With thanks again to the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, for putting his name to it, I commend Amendment 3 to the House.

Amendment 3 agreed.
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Baroness Barker Portrait Baroness Barker (LD)
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My Lords, I wish to add two points to those made by my noble friend Lady Kramer. It is right that in the next government amendment there is reference to a report and the additionality principle being included in that report. The reason why we drafted this amendment in the way we did was the requirement for the Secretary of State to certify the matter. One of the criticisms that was initially made of this Bill by the Delegated Powers Committee was the number of Henry VIII powers being assumed by the Minister.

The second reason is that the next government amendment refers to:

“Periodic review and report to Parliament”.


It does not say what those periods should be. Therefore, we are trying to deal with exactly the sort of scenario outlined by my noble friend Lady Kramer, where the Government suddenly dip into this back pocket of money and start to use it. That is the reason why it is there and why we think it is so important.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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I am grateful to the noble Baronesses, Lady Kramer and Lady Barker, for tabling Amendment 6 on the additionality principle. I also thank the noble Baronesses for their time in the productive discussion that we had on this issue. I hope that during the course of my remarks I can reassure them and other noble Lords that the intentions of this amendment are sufficiently covered both in the 2008 Act and through the Government’s Amendment 7, to which the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, just alluded.

The principle of additionality has successfully under- pinned the scheme since its inception and will continue to be a core principle of its distribution across the UK. In line with the proposed wording in Amendment 6, the 2008 Act already describes additionality as the

“principle that dormant account money should be used to fund projects, or aspects of projects, for which funds would be unlikely to be made available by … a Government department”

or devolved Administration. Therefore, the principle as defined by this amendment is already enshrined in legislation.

Baroness Kramer Portrait Baroness Kramer (LD)
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Can I just ask for some clarification? Does not that responsibility apply only to the one distributive entity—to the Big Lottery Fund, or whatever it is called—and very conspicuously not to any other distribution sources or to the Secretary of State?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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Without having the 2008 Act in front of me as well as the Bill, I am afraid that I may not be able to give the noble Baroness the speedy response that she seeks.

I shall address the point that she also raised—while seeking an answer, if I can give her a definitive answer now—about the £150 million that was released last June. As she noted, the scheme released £150 million of dormant assets funding to support the response to the Covid-19 pandemic and recovery across England. That was distributed by the four spend organisations in line with the 2008 Act. In this instance, it is important to note that the funding was entirely separate from the UK-wide charity support package of £750 million, which was announced in April 2020.

Baroness Kramer Portrait Baroness Kramer (LD)
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The reference is in Schedule 3 to the 2008 Act—on page 24—under Part 3, headed “Reports and Accounts”, where it says in paragraph 9(3), in relation to the Big Lottery Fund:

“The report shall set out the Fund’s policy and practice in relation to the principle that dormant account money should be used to fund projects, or aspects of projects, for which funds would be unlikely to be made available by”—


and then it lists

“a Government department … the Welsh Ministers … the Scottish Ministers, or … a Northern Ireland department”.

That does not appear to apply to anything other than the Big Lottery Fund. When the 2008 Act went through, the only distribution entity was the Big Lottery Fund. There are now three others, and the new Bill anticipates potentially creating more distributors, whose responsibilities will be directed by the Secretary of State.

I fully accept that, in the original concept and structure of the Act, additionality was a fundamental underlying principle. That does not appear to have carried over into the expansion that is embedded in the new Bill. That is my concern.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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I am grateful to the noble Baroness for that, and I hope that what I go on to say will address that point. If there is a change in distributor or an additional distributor is established, there are already powers in the 2008 Act to amend the legislation to ensure that any new or additional distributor must similarly report on their policy and practice in relation to the additionality principle. The noble Baroness is very welcome to intervene again, if I have not addressed her point.

The question to consider is not about the definition of additionality but where the accountability for that principle should lie. We fully support all the points raised in Committee regarding the fundamental importance of ensuring that the principle is adhered to, but we believe that how the 2008 Act positions the additionality principle, plus the new provisions in government Amendment 7, is the right approach to ensuring this and I welcome the opportunity to clarify why.

The Labour Government which brought in the 2008 legislation ensured that the accountability for the additionality principle lies with the named distributor responsible for all the funds across the UK, rather than the Secretary of State. This Government agree that it remains the most appropriate place for its inclusion in primary legislation. As we outlined in Committee, Schedule 3 to the 2008 Act requires the National Lottery Community Fund, the current distributor of dormant assets funding across the UK, to set out in its annual report its policy and practice in relation to the additionality principle. These reports must be laid before Parliament, and this Bill does not change that requirement. In fact, Amendment 7, to which we will come in a moment, seeks to bolster this further by requiring additionality to be included in periodic reports of the scheme’s effectiveness, as the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, noted. Your Lordships’ House will continue to have the opportunity to scrutinise how the National Lottery Community Fund approaches this in practice. This will ensure that funding continues to be directed to causes which fulfil the scheme’s objectives while being additional to central or devolved government funds.

As has been noted, the principle as it stands is critical to the scheme’s success, and our partners in industry have made it clear that their participation is reliant on it. As this is not central government funding, and as the Government have limited control over only the English portion, it is appropriate that the primary accountability for the principle should sit with the UK-wide distributor of the funding and its accounting officer—namely, the National Lottery Community Fund. Indeed, the fund is well versed in making this assessment, as an additionality principle also applies to its other portfolio of funds. To date, there has never been a breach of this principle of which the Government are aware.

We feel there is no evidence that the principle needs to be altered, and we believe the current approach is serving the scheme well. It has been upheld for 10 years, and we do not think it necessary or desirable to significantly change a demonstrably successful approach.

Baroness Kramer Portrait Baroness Kramer (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Is the Minister saying he is making a commitment from the Floor that, when additional distributors are added—and this Bill contemplates that —they will be put under the same additionality requirement as the Big Lottery Fund?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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The commitment is already made in the 2008 Act. If there is a change in distributor, or if an additional distributor is established— and I should stress that there are currently no plans for that—there are already powers in the 2008 Act to amend the legislation to ensure that any new or additional distributor must similarly report on their policy and practice in relation to the additionality principle.

However, we have responded to the noble Baroness’s desire to see the Secretary of State more specifically held accountable to the principle, and we have reinforced its importance even further by including it within Amendment 7, which we will come on to shortly, on reviewing the scheme and reporting to Parliament. The noble Baroness, Lady Barker, said in Committee:

“We must also be able to work out from all the reporting that we do get to see that the principle of additionality is being adhered to.”—[Official Report, 21/6/21; col. GC 9.]

We thoroughly agree, which is why our Amendment 7 will ensure that the report must include any policies and practices of the principle by the Secretary of State as well as the National Lottery Community Fund. This provision responds to requests made by noble Lords that the Secretary of State should be held more expressly accountable for ensuring that and explaining how dormant assets funding is used in ways that are genuinely additional to central Government expenditure. This demonstrates our ongoing commitment to ensuring that the principle continues to be honoured, including the ways in which funding flows to distributing bodies and on to beneficiaries.

That is why we cannot accept the amendment. I hope I have reassured the noble Baronesses that we understand their concerns, and that is why we have brought forward the additionality provision in our review and reporting amendment, Amendment 7. I can see the noble Baroness is rightly consulting the 2008 Act for the references to it. I hope on that basis she will be content with what we have proposed and content to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Barker Portrait Baroness Barker (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I thank the Minister for the attention he has given to this, but I will pick him up on one issue. A power to do something is only a power; it is not an undertaking that the thing will be done. I do not think he has spelled out, as I hoped he would, how exactly the Secretary of State would be reviewing the additionality and demonstrating the additionality. It may be that he is going to come on to that under Amendment 7. But it seems to me that it is only the Secretary of State who can determine whether something is additional or not, because only the Secretary of State can have full knowledge of what the Government’s overall intentions were. I think this is important. I think we have had the example my noble friend talked about, and I would therefore like to test the opinion of the House.

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Moved by
7: After Clause 29, insert the following new Clause—
“Periodic review and report to Parliament
(1) The Secretary of State must carry out periodic reviews of the following matters—(a) the operation of the dormant assets scheme and the alternative scheme under section 2 of the 2008 Act during the period to which the review relates;(b) the effectiveness of the steps taken during that period (by institutions holding or providing assets within the scope of the dormant assets scheme or the alternative scheme) to reunite assets with their owners;(c) any use made of the powers conferred by section 19 during that period;(d) any use that may be made of those powers after that period.(2) In reviewing the matters described in subsection (1)(a) the Secretary of State must consider—(a) how many institutions have made transfers;(b) how much money has been transferred;(c) the effectiveness of the arrangements made with institutions for meeting repayment claims.(3) The steps referred to in subsection (1)(b) include anything done with a view to tracing, and verifying the identity of, either (or both) of the following, in relation to a particular asset—(a) the person whose right to payment (or right to direct payment) is or would be extinguished by a transfer;(b) where the asset is the proceeds of another asset, the owner or beneficiary of that other asset (before its conversion into proceeds).(4) In subsections (2) and (3)— “transfer” means a transfer of an amount to an authorised reclaim fund as mentioned in section 1(1)(a) or 2(1)(a) of the 2008 Act or section 2(1)(a), 5(1)(a), 8(1)(a), 12(1)(a) or 14(1)(a) above;“repayment claim” means a claim against an authorised reclaim fund relating to a right to payment arising as mentioned in section 1(2)(b) or 2(2)(b) of the 2008 Act or section 2(2)(b), 5(2)(b) or (3)(b), 8(2)(b), 12(2)(b) or 14(2)(b) above. (5) The matters within the scope of a review do not include the regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority of an authorised reclaim fund or any other institution.(6) The Secretary of State must—(a) make arrangements to enable anyone with an interest in any aspect of a review to make representations,(b) consider all representations received, and(c) set out the results and conclusions of the review in a report and lay it before Parliament.(7) The report of a review must also include—(a) information about the uses made by any authorised reclaim fund of its financial resources during such period as the Secretary of State considers appropriate,(b) information about the uses made of dormant assets money for meeting English expenditure during such period as the Secretary of State considers appropriate,(c) the text of any directions given by the Secretary of State under section 22 of the 2008 Act which have effect during the period mentioned in paragraph (b), and(d) information about any policy and practice in relation to the additionality principle of—(i) the body or bodies specified in section 16(1) of the 2008 Act, and(ii) the Secretary of State, in exercising functions under Part 2 of that Act.(8) The report of a review may include information about the uses made of dormant assets money for meeting Welsh expenditure, Scottish expenditure or Northern Ireland expenditure during such period as the Secretary of State considers appropriate.(9) In this section—(a) “the additionality principle” is the principle that dormant assets money should be used to fund projects, or aspects of projects, for which funds would be unlikely to be made available by a government department, the Welsh Ministers, the Scottish Ministers or a Northern Ireland department;(b) “dormant assets money”, “English expenditure”, “Northern Ireland expenditure”, “Scottish expenditure” and “Welsh expenditure” have the same meaning as in Part 2 of the 2008 Act.(10) The first report under this section must be laid no more than 3 years after the day on which this Act is passed.(11) Any subsequent report must be laid no more than 5 years after the day on which the previous report was laid.”Member’s explanatory statement
The amendment would require periodic reviews of the dormant assets scheme and the alternative scheme, with a report to Parliament on the results. A report would include certain additional information, on matters such as the expenditure of the reclaim fund, and the use made of dormant assets money, and the additionality principle, in England. Information about use of dormant asset money in the rest of the UK would be optional. For practical reasons information included about the use of dormant assets money, or the additionality principle in England, is likely to be information publicly available elsewhere.
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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I thank noble Lords for their amendments in this area and for the issues raised in Committee and during meetings with me and my predecessor, my noble friend Lady Barran. We have carefully considered the different concerns raised about the need for the dormant assets scheme to be periodically reviewed and reported on to Parliament. We have both heard the strength of feeling about the importance of transparency, and welcome and echo the enthusiasm for maintaining momentum beyond this phase of expansion.

That is why the Government have brought forward Amendment 7, as many noble Lords invited us to do in Committee, which would require the Secretary of State to review and report on various aspects of the scheme on an ongoing basis. I again thank the noble Lord, Lord Bassam of Brighton, for adding his name to it.

Our amendment mirrors Section 14 of the 2008 Act, which some amendments tabled in Committee also sought to replicate. It goes further, however, responding to noble Lords’ calls for maintaining momentum for further scheme expansion, greater transparency over the use of funds as well as reporting on how the principle of additionality has been met. We heard in the debate on the last amendment about the importance of ensuring that this principle flows through to not only the National Lottery Community Fund but any new or additional distributors, were there to be any. To clarify, the National Lottery Community Fund is the only named distributor, and the four independent organisations receive funding from it rather than being named distributors themselves under the Act.

I would also like to draw noble Lords’ attention to the very deliberate phrasing of subsection (7)(d)(i) of our Amendment 7, which refers to any distributor or distributors named in Section 16(1) of the 2008 Act. We have done that, rather than specify the National Lottery Community Fund, so that in the event that a distributor is changed—which Section 24 of the 2008 Act allows the Secretary of State to do as well as allowing them to make consequential amendments to Schedule 3 to ensure that the principle of additionality similarly applies—this would ensure that it is still covered by our Amendment 7.

Amendment 7 will require the Secretary of State to carry out periodic reviews of specified matters, including the operation of the scheme from transfer to reclaim; the effectiveness of tracing and reunification efforts by scheme participants; and any efforts to expand it to include new dormant assets. The amendment will require the results of the review to be laid in a report before Parliament within three years of the Bill receiving Royal Assent and every five years thereafter. This is in line with Amendment 8 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Bassam of Brighton.

In Committee, my noble friend Lady Barran explained that a number of mechanisms for reviewing and reporting on various aspects of the scheme already exist. We agree, however, with the helpful suggestion of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Etherton, that it is sensible to bring these together in one place. Therefore, Amendment 7 also requires the report laid before Parliament to include information about the uses of dormant assets money, including the principle of additionality. This will build on reports already published by Reclaim Fund Ltd and work done by the National Lottery Community Fund and, currently, the Oversight Trust, which oversees the four existing distribution organisations, to assess the scheme’s impact.

I hope that this amendment provides reassurance that the Government are committed to ensuring the ongoing success of the scheme and reflects a number of the helpful suggestions that noble Lords have made in our debates on the Bill hitherto. I beg to move.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, I should first say that our amendment, signed by me and the noble Baroness, Lady Bowles, was an attempt to combine different aspects of previous amendments into a single text. The result is, as noble Lords can see, a fairly lengthy shopping list. The thing about shopping lists is that something is always forgotten; something always falls off the end. That makes their operability in legislation perhaps less than perfect.

We envisaged, in construct, that the amendment would cover what had happened during the relevant period and whether the funding was delivering on the scheme’s priorities. So, we are grateful—I am certainly very grateful—to the Minister for his constructive approach to discussions since taking up his post. I believe that Amendment 7 represents a fair compromise. I think the Minister has said the reports will combine information that was already available from other sources —annual reports et cetera—but also require the Secretary of State to go somewhat further, including by giving information on whether and how the additionality principle has been adhered to. We have heard in earlier debates how important that is.

We hoped to gain more from the Government, including more concrete data on the contribution that funds make to people and communities subject to high levels of deprivation and inequality, but I am sure that there will be further consideration of such issues in the other place, and perhaps in our debates here as well, as this legislation kicks in. I am impressed with the approach the Government have taken, and they have certainly listened to our Committee considerations, taking on board the core of what we are after. Nothing is ever perfect, but this goes a long way in the right direction. While I would have preferred our amendment, I was more than happy to sign up to the Government’s, as it represented real progress in the way we considered the Bill.

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That suggests some of the things that concern us and why I would still have preferred Amendment 8, or for more of its content to be reflected in government Amendment 7. I am glad that we have this extensive review, but it is important that we know that it will actually do a proper analysis and not just give facts and figures essentially extracted from the annual report—that it will do a kind of audit, if you like, of how well the processes have worked and whether they are actually delivering, particularly on the criteria and principles that have surrounded the dormant assets scheme right from the start.
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My Lords, I welcome the collaborative and pragmatic approach of the noble Lord and the noble Baroness in relation to government Amendment 7. I am also grateful for the contributions on that and on Amendment 8 on reviewing and reporting, which would require a review of the performance of an authorised reclaim fund and the Big Lottery Fund, now operating as the National Lottery Community Fund, in administering the scheme. Although I recognise the intention to ensure that the scheme’s success is maintained, bringing such details within the scope of a review would only duplicate processes that already exist.

Both the National Lottery Community Fund and Reclaim Fund Ltd are arm’s-length bodies, of DCMS and Her Majesty’s Treasury respectively. As they are public bodies, robust mechanisms are already in place for the monitoring of both organisations’ delivery against their objectives. These are more frequent than every five years and enable regular assessment of whether they are running effectively and efficiently. Instead, Amendment 7 will ensure that there are periodic reviews of the operation of the scheme from transfer to reclaim and that relevant information from both organisations’ existing reports is included in the report laid before Parliament. This will enable it to track the journey of dormant assets money from participant to beneficiary. This includes how the principle of additionality has been approached, and we can confirm that it is the intention of this part of Amendment 7 to ensure that the principle has been met and that Parliament receives information about how.

As a scheme that is led by industry and backed by the Government, it is appropriate that the scheme’s primary policy objectives—namely, to reunite customers with their money, to ensure voluntary participation and to guarantee full restitution—are similarly the primary focus of the periodic reviews. However, as part of the journey from participant to beneficiary, the scheme’s impact on social and environmental initiatives will, of course, be an important aspect to report on. There have been calls to assess the impact of the scheme here as well as at previous stages of our debates on the Bill. It is absolutely crucial that the funds have a positive impact on social and environmental initiatives. However, Amendment 8 seeks to assess the scheme against more narrow criteria than social and environmental causes. In line with the scheme’s impact to date, it specifically focuses on the benefit to people and communities subject to high levels of deprivation or inequality, and the impact on developing the capacity of social enterprises and charities.

I understand that the overarching purpose of this is to ensure that the scheme has maximum impact on the communities that need it most. However, the Government are clear that the nature of this impact should be subject to a future consultation. That is why we tabled Amendment 3, which would require this to be realised through a public consultation. The Bill must therefore be sufficiently broad to accommodate the outcome of this and future consultations, and to ensure that it is captured by the requirement to report on the scheme’s impact. It may be, for instance, that the public wish to see more of the funds being targeted at environmental initiatives, which would not be satisfactorily covered by the more narrow definition of the scheme’s objectives in Amendment 8.

Amendment 8 also seeks to review the extent to which administrative, investment policy or other changes to the scheme would improve its performance. Government Amendment 7 will ensure that the relevant information from organisations in the ecosystem are presented in the report. In particular, subsection (7)(a) provides that it must include

“information about the uses made by any authorised reclaim fund of its financial resources”.

The amendment should not encroach on the governance arrangements and regulations in place for managing and maintaining an authorised reclaim fund by both Her Majesty’s Treasury and the Financial Conduct Authority.

Finally, Amendment 8 would also require the Secretary of State to consider the views of specific groups when conducting the review. We agree that the review should be informed by a range of views, including those of social enterprises and charities. However, as I said in relation to previous amendments, we believe that prescribing a set list would be too restrictive. The Government’s amendment will instead enable anyone with an interest in the review to make representations and all representations received must be considered by the Secretary of State.

We think that the changes proposed in Amendment 7 strike the balance that noble Lords have called for today and in previous stages. I am again grateful to the noble Lord for his support. I hope that our Amendment 7 demonstrates that we have listened and are committed to transparency and robust reporting. That is why I hope your Lordships’ House will support the amendment and that the noble Lord will be minded not to move Amendment 8.

Amendment 7 agreed.
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Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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As the noble Baronesses, Lady Barker and Lady Kramer, have said, Amendment 9 has been tabled with a view to ensuring that the Oversight Trust is appropriately resourced and empowered to monitor the distribution of dormant assets funding. The DCMS and the National Lottery Community Fund have worked closely with a range of partners to ensure that the right levels of accountability and transparency are in place for the organisations that are given the task of distributing dormant assets money in England. We have sought to support their independence while respecting that dormant assets funding is money which comes from the public.

The four spend organisations’ operations are regularly reviewed by the Oversight Trust, which, as the noble Baroness said, is an independent organisation that ensures accountability and transparency in each of the spend organisations’ activities. I should flag that the trust’s reviews are not conducted in-house; it commissions external experts to conduct them independently. The Oversight Trust does not intervene in day-to-day operations, which are of course the responsibility of the organisations’ boards; rather, its aim is to ensure that each remains true to its objectives, which involves having oversight of the general operations of the spend organisations, as referred to in subsection (2)(a) of the new clause proposed in the amendment. In particular, the Oversight Trust is required to ensure that the four organisations are well governed and that their strategic plans and budgets are in accordance with their objects; and to review their achievement of social impact and transparency of financial and impact reporting.

Those powers are formalised in legally binding governance contracts between the Oversight Trust and each organisation. These contracts empower the Oversight Trust, for example, to remove directors in the case of significant mismanagement; to approve any changes to remuneration policies; and to be involved in the process of appointing new chairpersons, including ratifying their formal appointment. The contracts set out the key processes to enable the Oversight Trust to fulfil these responsibilities, and the trust may make reasonable requests from each spend organisation, in addition to those set out in the governance arrangements, if necessary, to help it meet its obligations.

The Oversight Trust receives quarterly updates, conducts annual deep dives and publishes quadrennial reviews on each organisation, which is required to co-operate to ensure that it can perform its duties effectively. This includes a commitment to participate with the independent review panel and to provide any information and assistance that may be necessary. We therefore do not believe it would be necessary or appropriate to provide the Oversight Trust with further powers in legislation for it to perform its current mandate effectively.

Access to up to £500,000 per annum from the English portion ensures that it can draw on sufficient resources to fulfil these important objectives. We are confident that this enables the Oversight Trust to meet its objectives, but we continue to keep that under review. Last year the Oversight Trust published its first quadrennial review, which focused on Big Society Capital, with the review of Access following in June this year. The next review, which will be of Fair4All Finance, is due next year.

I am very glad that the noble Baroness has had the opportunity to meet the Oversight Trust. Since Committee, my noble friend Lady Barran has met the trust as well, to press the importance of in-depth quantitative impact data. The trust has been working with the four organisations that it oversees on this issue, including through its annual governance review meetings. The trust provides robust governance, transparency and accountability over the four organisations’ use of dormant assets funding in England. As ever, though, we are mindful of our commitment to consult widely and with an open mind about the best social or environmental uses of this money.

When the Government consider the outcome of this consultation, we will also need to determine the best approach to ensuring continued good governance over the scheme. This could include asking the Oversight Trust to consider expanding its role to oversee any additional bodies if necessary and appropriate. If so, we would review whether the trust would need additional resources to fulfil a broader remit. It is worth noting that the trust would not be involved in decisions around what, if any, new distributing bodies may be chosen in England.

As it is too early to pre-empt the outcome of that assessment and, given that the Oversight Trust is independent and not an arm’s-length body, I hope the noble Baronesses will agree that it would be inappropriate in the Bill to mandate its role in the way that the amendment suggests. However, we have included a requirement to report on the uses of dormant assets funding as part of the Government’s Amendment 7. The National Lottery Community Fund will also remain responsible for ensuring that funds are distributed in line with legislation. We hope that this, alongside our record to date in ensuring that the distribution of funds is appropriately monitored, will provide the noble Baronesses with reassurance that this is an area that we will continue to take very seriously.

Baroness Kramer Portrait Baroness Kramer (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

While the Minister is on his feet, could he tell me with a straight face whether he thinks that £500,000 a year is sufficient for the wide range of responsibilities that he just described? He might wish to talk to some of his colleagues who work in the world of consultancy.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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We do; we keep it under review and, if the oversight trust took on a broader role, would review whether it would need additional resources. For the reasons I have set out, we cannot accept Amendment 9, and I hope the noble Baroness will be content to withdraw it.

Baroness Barker Portrait Baroness Barker (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his full answer. It will come as no surprise to him that we do not intend to seek to put the amendment in the Bill, but the issues we have raised have a great deal of merit.

When we met Sir Stuart Etherington, the chair of the oversight trust, he set out clearly to us, as the Minister just has, exactly what the responsibilities of the trust are and how it goes about discharging them. He said that, although it has a responsibility to look at governance and management arrangements that impact on reporting, and has the power to remove directors and the chair, the oversight trust regards that as being a nuclear option—it would have to be something rather major for it to do that. By the time it got to that stage, there would already have been a significant scandal. That is what we are worried about with this whole scheme, and have been since the very beginning, because there are so many loopholes.

However, I hear what the Minister says about this being kept under review, alongside the periodic review of the whole scheme. With that assurance, I am quite happy to withdraw the amendment.

Dormant Assets Bill [HL]

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Excerpts
Moved by
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
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That the Bill do now pass.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay) (Con)
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My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass and, in doing so, take the opportunity to thank noble Lords from all sides of your Lordships’ House for their interest and contributions to the progress of the Bill so far. I am grateful for the scrutiny that they have brought, and the co-operative and constructive spirit in which the debates have taken place. I am also grateful for the broad cross-party support that the Bill has received so far. It is clear that all corners of your Lordships’ House share the same ambition to ensure the scheme’s continued success in unlocking dormant assets for public good.

I first thank my noble friend Lady Barran, who expertly led the Bill through Second Reading and Committee. I am very grateful for the opportunity to follow in her capable footsteps. I pay tribute also to the Front Benches opposite. The noble Lord, Lord Bassam of Brighton, and the noble Baroness, Lady Merron, have helpfully challenged the Government’s approach, and I thank them for the collaborative way in which they have done so. I also thank the noble Baronesses, Lady Barker and Lady Kramer, from the Liberal Democrat Benches, for all their invaluable contributions, which have been detailed and thoughtful. Noble Lords from across your Lordships’ House have contributed to a rich discussion on the Bill, and I am very grateful for all the points which have been raised.

As ever, I am grateful to the House authorities and parliamentary staff for their hard work behind the scenes. I acknowledge the extraordinary work of the officials who have worked so hard on the Bill for many months: the Bill team, the policy teams at DCMS and at Her Majesty’s Treasury, the lawyers in both departments, my own private office, the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel and the clerks in this place.

I take this opportunity to clarify aspects of the debate on Report regarding the additionality principle, an issue I discussed with the noble Baronesses, Lady Barker and Lady Kramer. Section 24 of the 2008 Act empowers the Secretary of State to add or remove named distributors of dormant assets funding. Currently, the only named distributor is the National Lottery Community Fund, and all funds, including those distributed through the four independent spend organisations in England, flow through it. Section 24 also provides for making consequential amendments, including to Schedule 3, where responsibility for reporting on the additionality principle is set out.

The Government consider additionality to be critical to the scheme’s success, and we have reiterated this position throughout our debates on the Bill. Indeed, we are clear that the voluntary participation of the industry is dependent on it. While we emphasise that there are no plans to change or add new distributors, I can reassure noble Lords that it is the Government’s policy that any new distributor added should be required to report on this principle in the same way that the fund is required to do so now.

The dormant assets scheme has spent the last decade working to tackle systemic social and environmental challenges and to level up communities which need it most. This Bill is set to unlock almost £1 billion of additional funding to ensure that the scheme continues to support innovative, long-term initiatives that seek to address some of the UK’s most important challenges.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, the Minister will be pleased to hear that I will be brief, but some thanks are worth echoing. I thank the Minister; it is never easy taking up another person’s Bill halfway through. I have had to do it myself and, at times, I lurched from being completely out of my depth to being a total shambles, so I know how it feels. The noble Lord was neither of those things; he was courteous and considerate of the points that we made and the amendments we moved.

Like the noble Lord I am delighted that we are moving to unlock previously untapped assets. I hope that the next iteration of this legislation—this is, after all, the second Bill on dormant assets—will bring forward even more dormancy and unlock it, so that communities can benefit.

I also thank the Minister’s predecessor, the noble Baroness, Lady Barran, for her time spent on the Bill. She was, like him, very courteous and open-minded about ways in which we can forge improvements. She was also willing to meet and discuss aspects of the legislation. I echo his thanks to my noble friend Lady Merron—my good friend—for her part in this. It is always a pleasure to work with her. I also thank the noble Baronesses, Lady Kramer and Lady Barker, on the Lib Dem Benches, who also played an active and energetic part.

Of course, the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, played a decisive role on Report in helping to support the amendment that we sponsored on the community wealth fund, for which there was all-party support. Before the Commons is invited to reject that amendment, I suggest to the Minister that it might be an idea to sponsor some discussion between his ministerial colleagues and other Benches in your Lordships’ House to see if there is a way in which we can find some common ground on this—because I am very persuaded, as I know others are, of the benefit of the community wealth fund as a way forward. As he said, these resources can do a lot to take forward the shared agenda of levelling up and bring additional resources to bear in hard-pressed communities. We for our part would be very happy to meet and discuss this to see what common ground we can secure, because this is an important opportunity for us all, if we want to make it stick.

We wish the Bill well. It has been improved by your Lordships’ House, not just by the amendment on the community wealth fund but in other aspects as well. I thank the Minister for his comments on additionality, which will be very helpful. I am happy to support the Bill as it goes on its way.

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Baroness Barker Portrait Baroness Barker (LD)
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My Lords, I also thank very much the Minister, his predecessor—the noble Baroness, Lady Barran—and the team. As is always the case with a Bill that is very technical and arcane, they had to display endless patience with the opposition as we painstakingly made our way to the place that they were already at. I also thank my noble friends Lady Bowles and Lady Kramer, who brought to the Bill a completely fresh eye from the financial sector and who set a very high standard of scrutiny for a Bill that is normally given over to those of us interested in the world of charity.

We achieved three things during the passage of the Bill. First, we made it clear that this is not simply an exercise in spending dormant money because it is there. We made sure that the scheme is about achieving impacts on financial inclusion in areas of deprivation. Secondly, we enabled it to be run using far more difficult asset classes than just bank accounts, and we made sure that the reporting systems for that were fit for purpose. Thirdly, we made sure that everyone involved in the scheme is under a duty to report—this is about additionality, not giving the Government a fund that they can dip into in difficult times.

In years to come, we will have reports from the disbursing body and the Secretary of State that I hope will show the impact of this, particularly in one respect: the endeavour to get rid of moneylenders in poor communities. If we achieve that, we will together have achieved something good and which we can be proud to support.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord and the noble Baroness for their comments, and I echo the tributes that they paid to the noble Baroness, Lady Bowles of Berkhamsted, my noble friend Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts and many others who contributed to the debates on this.

I will certainly discuss the point that the noble Lord raised with my honourable friend Nigel Huddleston, the Minister with responsibility for the Bill, in his capacity as Minister for Charities and Civil Society, as we just heard in Questions. I am sure that he will want to continue the discussions that we have had on community wealth funds as the Bill goes to another place but, as I say, I am very grateful that it does so with genuine cross-party support and a fair wind behind it. I grateful to all noble Lords who have ensured that this is so.

Dormant Assets Bill [HL]

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Excerpts
Moved by
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
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That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments 1 to 4.

1: Clause 12, page 12, line 6, at end insert—
“(4A) The reference in subsection (4)(b) to money that could be transferred as mentioned in section 8(1)(a) includes money held by an investment institution that is not within the definition in section 8(3) which—
(a) is proceeds of the conversion by the investment institution of a collective scheme investment into a right to payment of an amount, and
(b) could, if it were held by an investment institution falling within section 8(3), be transferred as mentioned in section 8(1)(a).”
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4: Clause 34, page 26, line 3, leave out subsection (8)
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay) (Con)
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My Lords, with the leave of the House, I will move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments 1 to 4. In doing so, I will briefly summarise the changes which have been made to the Bill since last it was before your Lordships’ House. All of the amendments which have been made were brought forward by Her Majesty’s Government and garnered support across all parties in another place. Commons Amendment 1 is minor and technical, responding to a drafting issue that was helpfully highlighted by the Investment Association in its written evidence to the Public Bill Committee. Amendments 2 and 3 respond to the lengthy debates on how dormant assets money should best be spent, and specifically the calls to establish a community wealth fund. Amendment 4 is wholly procedural and removes the privilege amendment made in your Lordships’ House, as is the procedure in these cases.

First, I will speak to Amendment 1. This is a minor and technical government amendment which is required to uphold the key principle of full restitution: to ensure that people can reclaim the amount owed had the transfer to the scheme not happened. This amendment clarifies that money derived from collective scheme investments cannot be transferred into the scheme as client money. This is in response to feedback we received from the Investment Association during the passage of the Bill, and we thank it for its helpful feedback on this issue.

Without this amendment, there would be an unintended loophole where ISA fund managers and investment platforms that hold collective scheme investments, and are able to convert them to cash, would be able to transfer this money into the dormant assets scheme under client money clauses. The investment and wealth management clauses of the Bill recognise the fluctuating market value of investments by entitling owners of dormant collective scheme investments to reclaim the value of the share or unit at the point of reclaim. In contrast, the right to reclaim under client money clauses does not account for the market value, as the asset is already held in cash. We believe that this applies to a small number of cases. However, if relevant institutions have the contractual cover to sell the asset on behalf of its owner and transfer the funds to the scheme as client money, this would mean that the owner would be treated differently from if their dormant asset had been transferred under the investment and wealth management clauses. Remedying this discrepancy protects the vital principle of the scheme: full restitution. It ensures that the collective scheme investments are excluded from the client money clauses, so that the owners of these dormant assets will not be treated differently depending on which type of investment institution happened to hold it for them. Unfortunately, this will have the effect of excluding collective scheme investments held by investment platforms and ISA fund managers from the scheme at this time. Bringing them into scope would require complex technical work, and we are working with the industry to understand if and how this can be accomplished in future under the power to extend the scheme through regulations. We thank our industry partners again for their thoughtful and very helpful feedback on this issue.

I now turn to Amendments 2 and 3. As noble Lords know, a key topic of debate throughout the passage of the Bill has been the proposal to use dormant assets funding to establish community wealth funds in England. We have heard, both here and in the other place, the merits of considering this model, not least from the former Bishop of Newcastle before she left your Lordships’ House. This is a model whereby left-behind communities are empowered to make their own decisions on how best to develop vital social infrastructure in their local areas. This kind of devolved and very local decision-making is, of course, a key tenet of the Government’s levelling-up White Paper, which was published last week. We agree that this important proposal warrants careful consideration—not only by the Government, but by the public and voluntary industry participants that underpin the scheme’s success. In Committee in the other place, the Government made a formal commitment to include community wealth funds as an explicit option in the first consultation launched on the purposes of the English portion.

My honourable friend the Minister for Sport, Tourism, Heritage and Civil Society met Her Majesty’s Opposition and the co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for “Left Behind” Neighbourhoods to discuss this commitment. With their support, the Government brought forward Amendment 3 to place this commitment in legislation. This responds to calls heard in both Houses to refer to community wealth funds on the face of the Bill—making a clear statement that the Government are considering this model and are supportive of its underlying principles, while protecting the integrity of the consultation process. We maintain that an open and fair consultation, without predetermining its outcomes, is essential to securing the expanded scheme’s impact.

The Government are clear that Amendment 3 is the furthest that the legislation is able to go in this area, and that is why Amendment 2 removes community wealth funds from being pre-emptively named as a possible option in a future order, in favour of Amendment 3.

I thank noble Lords on all sides of the House for the constructive debate that we have had on this issue. I am very grateful for the spirit of positive collaboration shown throughout the passage of the Bill. It is in this spirit that the Government brought forward their amendments. I am also grateful for the scrutiny it has received in the other place, and I believe that this has presented your Lordships’ House with a strengthened Bill. I hope that noble Lords will, therefore, support the Government in these amendments, as was the case in the other place. Sending this Bill on its way to the statute book will enable the Government to shift our focus more swiftly to the implementation of the scheme expansion, including launching the consultation and unlocking hundreds of millions of pounds more across the UK. I beg to move.

Baroness Barker Portrait Baroness Barker (LD)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for his explanation of these amendments. It was most helpful, particularly about Amendment 1, which is very technical. Since it has come from the industry and the whole thrust behind the Bill came from the financial sector, which wishes to see many more assets unlocked in this way, we should accept his explanation and stand behind that.

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Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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I am grateful to my noble friend for his support on that point.

We on our Benches look forward to the consultation in due course and hope that the department will continue to engage with proponents of community wealth funds. Such funds could play an interesting and, we think, valuable role in levelling up and empowering local communities seeking their own solutions to local problems, a feature of the White Paper that we very much endorse.

May I use this occasion to ask the Minister what the Government intend to do to ensure that we continue to widen the potential scope for unlocking other dormant assets? Here I am thinking of Oyster cards, proceeds from crime funds, unclaimed pensions and unused insurance. It is worth reminding ourselves that the independent commission report identified some £715 million from investments and wealth management, £550 million from the pensions and insurance sectors, £150 million from securities, and £140 million from banks and building societies. Unlocking that sort of wealth unlocks a lot of power and gives great potential for social benefit. These are not inconsiderable sums of money, and if put in the right place and adapted, used and adopted for levelling up, they could leverage in bigger sums still for the hard-pressed communities that we want to see levelled up in the next few years.

We are again grateful to the Government for what they have done in improving the Bill. Your Lordships’ House played a valuable and valid part in that process. We are slightly underwhelmed by what has come back, but we are extremely grateful.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My Lords, I thank the noble Lord and the noble Baroness for their remarks, which reflect the cross-party work that has improved this Bill throughout its passage and the interest that it has garnered from all corners for the benefits that it will bring. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Blunkett, for reminding the House of the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Field of Birkenhead, and indeed many others who have played close attention to this issue for a long time.

To respond to the questions and points raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, we recognise that the provisions that were inserted on Report in your Lordships’ House were permissive, but the Government contend that Amendment 3 is preferable in three main ways. First and foremost, it fulfils our commitment to consult openly; we have emphasised throughout the passage of the Bill that the consultation must be fair and transparent, and we remain mindful of the need to bring industry along with us alongside civil society and the general public. We cannot therefore agree to any amendment that would suggest that the process would be undercut.

Secondly, it recognises the widespread support and positive impact that the current causes of youth, financial inclusion and social investment have had. I am sure that noble Lords did not intend to imply that those would be disregarded, but the provisions that were inserted on Report in your Lordships’ House were silent on those and thereby afforded community wealth funds more legislative attention than those initiatives.

Lord Flight Portrait Lord Flight (Con)
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My Lords, who is intended to select the investment managers for these funds?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My noble friend asks a good question, on which I will have to write to give him the answer and the full list, if he will forgive me for doing so.

I was just coming to the third reason why Amendment 3 is our preferred way of proceeding. The provisions inserted in this House would not achieve their objective of speeding up the pace of delivery. We must reiterate that releasing this money will not be immediate; indeed, we anticipate it taking several years for the £880 million to be released, and we do not expect any funds to be available for some time. Undercutting the consultation process would not materially affect the pace of that funding release. The Government have committed to launching the first public consultation on the purposes of the expanded English portion as soon as possible after Royal Assent. We anticipate that it could be live as soon as this summer and will be open for at least 12 weeks.

I repeat my commitment to write to my noble friend with the answer to his question, and I beg to move.

Lord Moylan Portrait Lord Moylan (Con)
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My Lords, before my noble friend sits down, does he agree that, especially in current circumstances, it would be wholly inappropriate to transfer funds from the TfL balance sheet by way of seizing what are alleged to be surplus Oyster assets, many of which are there because people, often from abroad, choose to leave assets on their Oyster card for when they visit London, which may be only once every few years?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My noble friend raises an interesting point that has not been made hitherto during the passage of the Bill, but I know that he speaks with considerable experience from his time working with TfL. If he allows me, I will write to him with further information about the implications for Oyster cards, which is a matter that has not been covered. It may have been covered in another place, but I have not seen whether that is the case.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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I remind the noble Lord that he did not answer my last question regarding reviewing the future of other dormant assets. If he is unable to do so at this point, I am happy to receive correspondence on the topic.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, for not responding to his question. We share the view that it is important to consider how dormant assets funding can be used most effectively. We are keen to get a wide range of views to help shape our position from Parliament through the Select Committees in both Houses. I will certainly write to him with further details if I am able to provide them.

I can tell my noble friend Lord Moylan that Oyster cards are not in scope of the Bill, which is why the point has not been raised hitherto. I will, however, take it back, and if there is any further information to furnish him with, I will do so. I repeat my thanks to noble Lords for the cross-party working on the Bill.

Motion agreed.