HC Deb 10 August 1916 vol 85 cc1382-6

(1) Where the Charity Commissioners are satisfied on the representation of the registration authority that there is reason able ground for believing that any unregistered war charity is not being carried on in good faith for charitable purposes or is not complying with conditions substantially corresponding with the conditions imposed on registered charities under this Act or is not being properly administered the Commissioners may exercise as respects the charity any of the powers which are exercisable by them with respect to a charity which, having been registered under this Act, has been removed from the register, and for the purpose of an inquiry into any charity under this Section the Charity Commissioners shall have such powers in relation to the charity as are conferred by this Act on the Commissioners for the purposes of appeals.

Provided that the Charity Commissioners shall not exercise the power of establishing a scheme for the regulation of any charity under this Section without giving the charity a full opportunity of being heard.

(2) This Section shall apply to unregistered war charities whether or not an application for registration has been made, and to war charities registration of which has been refused.

Clause brought up, and read the first time.


I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a second time."

During the early proceedings on Clause 1 it became clear that the general body of opinion of the Committee was overwhelmingly in favour of devising machinery whereby it would be possible to deal with cases of unregistered war charities. The hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. Anderson) and other hon. Members in the discussion pointed out that some war charities with funds in hand might evade the provisions of this Bill by neglecting to register. The Bill as drafted contained no provision on the subject, for we had not been able to devise procedure which might not have operated also as an embargo on the operations of genuine charities. In the interval since the discussion to which I have referred we have been successful, I hope, in overcoming that difficulty. This proposed new Clause gives power to the Charity Commissioners over unregistered charities under certain conditions, and, following the general scheme of the Bill, places the initiative in the hands of the local registration authority, and I trust that the Clause will receive the approval of the Committee. It is very comprehensive in character, and it is intended to be so. It is hoped that there will be no opportunity for any charity desiring to exploit the public to get outside the four corners of this Clause. I commend the Clause. I think it will make the Bill very much stronger. I am much obliged to my hon. Friends who have taken part in the discussion and to endeavour to correct what was a weakness of the Bill. If the Committee will accept this new Clause I believe that the Bill as a whole will be found to be an effective instrument for dealing with a great deal of the exploitation which this country has experienced in the past.


As I moved the Amendment on the point with which this new Clause deals, I wish to thank the Under-Secretary for bringing in the Amendment in a much better way. I think it will very considerably strengthen the Bill. It not only allows public control over future appeals, but provides some measure of public control over the future expenditure of money already in hand. From that point of view I think it considerably strengthens the Bill, and I am very glad it has been possible to adopt the Amendment in this way.


I agree with the last speaker that this Clause very much strengthens the Bill. I would like it, however, to go a little further on one point, and I would ask the hon. Gentleman whether he could not see his way to insert the words "or has not been," so that the Clause would read, "that any un- registered war charity is not being or has not been carried on …"I think that would strengthen the Clause very much.

Question put, and agreed to.


I beg to move, after the word "being" ["war charity is not being carried on"], to insert the words "or has not been."


I understand that some so-called war charities which feel the effect of this Bill have intimated in the newspapers that they are not appealing for further subscriptions. The intention no doubt is to evade the operation of the Act. I am not quite sure whether the phraseology of the new Clause covers such a case as that. The words of the Amendment do not appear to me to be the proper words, and if the case is not covered by the Clause as it stands I would appeal to my hon. Friend to insert words which would prevent the evasion of the Act by the ostensible winding up of a charity before the Act is passed.


I can assure my hon. Friend that the Clause is intended to do all that he desires. I am not sure that these words are required, but I have no objection to accepting them. I have consulted the Lord Advocate, who advises me that the Amendment will not weaken the Clause, and may strengthen it. I do not want to weaken it; I want to make it as strong as possible. We will, therefore, give the hon. Member the benefit of the doubt and accept the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: After the word "complying" ["is not complying with conditions"], insert the words "or has not complied."

After the word "being" ["or is not being properly administered"], insert the words "or has not been."—[Mr. A. Williams.]

Clause, as amended, added to the Bill.

Bill reported.

As amended, considered.


I beg to move, to leave out Clause 1.

10.0 P.M.

I believe that this is a most, admirable Bill, and that it is thoroughly watertight. But a Bill which affects a large number of interests as this does ought to be seen in print by the people concerned. I have not the slightest intention of moving any Amendment on the Report stage if it comes on on Monday, but I would suggest that it is extraordinarily risky to put through in this way a Bill which nobody has seen in print.


The House has treated the Bill and me personally with such great consideration that I will not attempt to do anything against its wishes. If there is a feeling on the part of hon. Members that they would like the Report stage deferred I will not offer any opposition. My only desire was to get the Report stage and the Third Reading so that the Bill could go to the House of Lords and come into operation as soon as possible.


I congratulate the Under-Secretary on the way in which he has conducted the Bill and met the various criticisms which have been made. I hope the House will realise that no unnecessary delay will take place. Perhaps arrangements may be made to get the Bill considered on Monday. I agree with the hon. and learned Member opposite that, seeing that the Bill has been altered in so many details to-night, it would be much better to delay the Report stage for a day, so that hon. Members may see the amended Bill in print. I would point out, however, that it is necessary to get it, and especially the new Clause, into operation as speedily as possible.


I am quite sure that if this matter is adjourned till Monday there will be no desire on the part of any Member of the House to put forward any new Amendments or to bring forward any new matter. Therefore, I think that will be the wiser course. I am quite sure the Government will get that Bill on Monday without any trouble.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I beg to move, "That further consideration of the Bill, as amended, be now adjourned."

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill, as amended, to be further considered upon Monday next, and to be printed. [Bill 89.]