HC Deb 10 August 1916 vol 85 cc1364-71

(1) The registration authority shall—

  1. (a) as respects the City of London, be the Mayor, Aldermen, and Commons of the City of London in common council assembled;
  2. (b) as respects a county borough or a borough having a separate police force, be the borough council;
  3. (c) elsewhere, be the county council:

Provided that any such council may act through a committee of the council, which may, if the council think fit, comprise persons (including women) who are not members of the council.

(2) Applications for registration under this Act shall be sent to the registration authority for the area in which the administrative centre of the charity is situate, and any question as to where the administrative centre of any charity is-situate shall be finally determined by the Charity Commissioners.

(3) The registration authority may,, before registering any charity, make such inquiries with respect to the charity as they think fit, but shall not refuse to register any charity having its administrative centre within the area of the authority unless they are satisfied that the charity is not established in good faith for charitable purposes or will not comply with the conditions imposed by this Act, or that it will not be properly administered.

(4) An appeal from a refusal by a registration authority to register any charity shall lie to the Charity Commissioners, and if as the result of such-appeal the Charity Commissioners determine that the application for registration ought not to be refused, the registration authority shall register the charity.

(5) Every registration authority shall keep a register of the charities registered by them under this Act, and shall send to the Charity Commissioners a copy of such register and a list of all charities registration of which has been refused by thorn, and shall from time to time notify the Charity Commissioners of any changes in the particulars entered in the register.

(6) The Charity Commissioners shall keep a combined register of all charities registered under this Act, and of all charities in respect of which applications for registration under this Act have been refused.

(7) Any expenses incurred by a council as registration authority under this Act may be paid out of any fund or rate, out of which the expenses of the council are payable.


I beg to move, in Subsection (1), after the word "shall" ["The registration authority shall"], to insert "(a) as respects all charities providing similar relief to that obtained under any Government scheme of pensions be the Statutory Committee."

I move this Amendment in order to raise an issue which deserves some consideration in a Bill of this character, which was not really discussed on Second Reading, because the Second Reading was taken at an hour when no one wanted to speak at any length. In connection with schemes for relief of various kinds in connection with the War certain objects have been specified in these attempts, many of them successful, to raise money. A public fund is now being raised to commemorate the bravery of the boy Jack Cornwell in the Jutland battle, and one of the objects for which money is being raised is the provision of cottages for disabled soldiers, and sailors. Under legislation which this House has already passed, particularly the Naval and Military War Pensions Act, one of the objects which is specially committed to the care of that Committee is the care, training, and employment of disabled soldiers and sailors, and it is obvious from the literature which has been issued by that Committee that it will have to deal with a great many phases of disablement, which in some cases will actually mean the housing of these men. In one part of Scotland there is a scheme by which veterans who have been disabled are to have special housing arrangements. I am glad that is being done voluntarily, but there is an extreme danger of over- lapping unless some one authority has a complete knowledge of what is being done-all over the country, and while the suggestion of my Amendment may be put in the wrong way, I want to feel sure that in what is being done that body whose-special care it is to look after the pensions of our soldiers and sailors shall have-complete knowledge of everything that is-being done. A great deal of direction could be given to local authorities and others who care to raise extra money for extra purposes if they were informed by the Committee that had cognisance of the whole facts how and for what purpose that money could be best contributed. I believe the hon. Gentleman is going to-reject the Amendment, I being the only-Member present who has not had an opportunity of meeting him and persuading him that my Amendment is as-good as anyone else's. I put it to him that is a point that he has overlooked, and unless the statement he makes is satisfactory, I am certain this must be raised on future stages of the Bill, because the sooner some authority recognises that after the War you are going to have a tremendous number of schemes which will overlap, it will be better for the men who are going to enjoy those benefits and better for the administration.


I am sorry the hon. Member did not join with his colleagues-in meeting me to discuss an Amendment of great importance and substance, and I am equally sorry that I am unable to accept his Amendment. What he is proposing is to set up the Statutory Committee as an additional registration authority for the purpose of this Act. We have devised the scheme of this Bill upon a broad basis of registration by the public-authorities—the councils and the urban councils, which I shall accept in an Amendment later on, and the borough councils—which seem to me the best kind of registration authority you can have as a check against any exploitation of the-public through the medium of touting funds. The hon. Member raises a great point of principle which would be quite good if we were introducing an entirely different kind of Bill, but to ask us to recast our Bill and to give the Statutory Committee the powers of a registration authority would, in my judgment, be-quite wrong, bearing in mind how we propose to administer the Bill when it-becomes an Act. The right hon. Gentle- man (Mr. Hayes Fisher), who is the chairman of the Statutory Committee, discussed with me at considerable length to-day the situation in which the Statutory Committee under the Naval and Military Pensions Act and the Royal Patriotic Fund would find themselves unless they were exempted from the provisions of this Amendment. The Statutory Committee and the Royal Patriotic Fund are institutions created by Act of Parliament and are controlled by Parliament, and to ask that body, which is controlled by Parliament, and whose funds and business can be the subject-matter of discussion of this House, to come under the operation of this Bill and to be placed for registration purposes under the control of an urban council is, of course, quite an impossible thing to think of. I feel that the Royal Patriotic Fund and the Statutory Committee have a right to ask to be exempted. I therefore propose, inasmuch as their case is altogether different and exceptional to any other case I have been asked to consider, to consider the matter further before tabling a proposal to exempt them. It is only right that I should bring the matter before the Committee on this Amendment. If, after further consideration, I determine that the Royal Patriotic Fund and the Statutory Committee ought to be exempt from the operations of this Bill for the reasons I have laid before the Committee, I will make the alteration in another place. I regret I cannot accept the Amendment, and I hope the hon. Member will not think it necessary to take it further.


I am very glad that the Under-Secretary for the Home Department has decided to reject this Amendment, which appears mainly to have been moved because the hon. Member lost the opportunity of discussing the Bill on its Second Reading. [Mr. HOGGE dissented.] At any rate, that was one of the reasons the hon. Member put forward for moving the Amendment. A fundamental objection to an Amendment of this sort is that you are proposing to establish as a registration authority a committee in competition with the very charities that are going to be judged by that committee. Clearly your registration authority ought to be an absolutely impartial body, and ought not to have any loyalty to one party as against another, but that would be quite impossible if you make the Statutory Committee a registration authority. I am sure they do not want to have their work added to in this way. I agree entirely that the Statutory Committee and its work is altogether in a different category from private charities. Therefore, I would very readily support any Amendment which proposed to place the Statutory Committee in a special position. We cannot for a minute entertain the Amendment put forward.


After the speeches which have been made I do not intend to press this Amendment to a Division, but before I ask leave to withdraw it I should like to say that I am perfectly certain the House will ultimately come round to the view I have advanced to-day. It would be an excellent thing both for the House and the Statutory Committee. We had a long discussion the other day, which lasted from four o'clock until eleven, upon the question as to which local funds the Statutory Committee should take into consideration in awarding pensions. If the Statutory Committee had power to say that charities could not be registered which were for purposes similar to those for which they were affected, then at once every other local fund would be for a different purpose, and could not be considered by the Statutory Committee at all. It would wipe out of existence half the difficulties that this House has been discussing. However, the prophet is always before his time. I am sorry that my hon. Friend who represents Labour so well on the Front Bench has to resort to the expedient of attempting to pacify me by promising to promote an Amendment in another place. That is a real declension of the powers that used to reside in my hon. Friend. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made: In paragraph (b), leave out the words "county borough or a borough having a separate police force, be the borough council," and insert instead thereof the words "municipal borough or urban district be the council of the borough or district."—[Mr. Brace.]


I beg to move, in paragraph (c), to leave out the word "county," and to insert instead thereof th word "district."

As far as an urban district council is concerned, this point is covered by the Amendment just inserted. I am very anxious that the rural district councils should be the authority in the rural districts. My reason is that it ought to be easy for the people in small village committees to get at the registration authority. The place where I live is thirty-five miles distant from the county town, and it is practically a day's work to get there and do any business and get back. We have not a county councillor, so far as I know, living within eight or nine miles, while, on the other hand, the district council is near our home, and application could be made and the information given quite easily. I think that a near-at-hand body with whom we are in touch should be substituted in rural places for the county council which is so far away that we are not in touch. They know nothing about us and we do not know much about them.


I think my hon. Friend should be satisfied with what we have accomplished in his previous Amendment. We had intended making the boroughs and the county councils the registration authority, but, in reply to strong appeals on the Second Reading by my hon. Friend, we have altered that part of the Bill, and have brought into the Bill not only boroughs which control the police, but all boroughs and all urban councils, the county council to be the registration authority for the rest of the county. I think my hon. Friend has accomplished quite a good stroke of business in getting urban councils put in, and I would ask him to withdraw his Amendment.


I do not see why rural district councils should not have these powers. You are sending some very trivial details to the county council. It is not a mere matter of local government in which the oversight of large bodies is necessary. This power is wanted in order to prevent fraud, and in order to secure that local opinion is properly consulted in regard to these charities, so that no one is deceived. It appears to me that this is one of those small matters in which a rural district council might as well have this power.


The hon. Member (Mr. A. Williams) is under a misapprehension. The work which is put upon the councils is simply the registration of the charity once for all. There is no necessity under the Bill that the bazaar, or concert, or other local entertainment has to be registered. Therefore, it only means one journey to the county town if he has the good fortune to have in his district a charity which requires registration. Unfortunately, as some of us think, there is-no Clause in the Bill which requires registration of the concert or the bazaar or other entertainment in the local district.


The registration authority is supposed to know whether the people who are making the application are reputable, and is supposed to grant or refuse registration on that account. Our district councillors who live amongst us know who we are, but the-county councillors do not. Therefore they will have to refer the matter to the police, or somebody like that, and it will be a very much less desirable state of things, than if the district councillors, who really know us by personal touch, were allowed to be the judges in this matter. However, I do not wish to divide the House, and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Further Amendment made: In Subsection (2), after the word "registration" ["applications for registration"], insert-the words "or exemption."—[Mr. Brace.]


I beg to move, in Sub-section (5), after the word "shall" ["Every registration authority shall"], to insert the words "give to each charity registered or exempted a certificate of registration or exemption, and shall."

The object of this Amendment is to make it incumbent upon each registration authority to give to each charity registered or exempted a certificate of registration or exemption. I think it is obvious that it is absolutely necessary for a charity which is-registered or exempted to have something in the way of a certificate to that effects.


As the hon. Member has made out such a good case, I have pleasure in accepting the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: After the word "Act," insert instead thereof the words "and lists of all charities registration of which has been refused by them and of all charities which have been exempted from registration by them."

Leave out the words "a list of all charities registration of which has been refused by them," and insert instead thereof the words "such lists."

After the word "register," insert the, words "and of changes in such lists."

In paragraph (6), after the word "and," insert the words "a combined list."

At the end of paragraph (6) insert the words "and a combined list of all charities which have been exempted from registration under this Act."—[Mr. Brace.]


I beg to move, at the end of the Clause, to insert the following new Sub-section: (8) Any expenses incurred by the London County Council under this Act shall be defrayed out of the County Fund as expenses for general county purposes. This is a small Amendment affecting London. It is proposed that the expenses shall be paid out of county funds as expenses for general county purposes. That would cover the City of London as well as the general county. I understand that the City people have no objection.


I should be glad to accept that Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.