HC Deb 26 June 1940 vol 362 cc521-4

7.25 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Westwood)

I beg to move, in page 12, line 41, at the end, to insert: (h) any expenditure incurred by a county or town council for the purposes of this Act shall be defrayed out of such rate payable by owners and occupiers in equal proportions as the council may determine. The purpose of this Amendment is to give direction to local authorities in Scotland as to the method of raising any expenditure under the Bill which is to be met from rates. Such expenditure is likely to be of a negligible amount in view of the fact that Clause 4, Subsection (1) of the Bill empowers the Secretary of State by regulation to prescribe fees not exceeding 10s. to be paid on the registration of a charity, and fees for making or obtaining copies of and extracts from registers and lists. The provision in the Bill will, however, provide for the contingency of rateborne expenditure. Even though it may be infinitesimal, there may still be a rate charge, and as the rating system in England is different from that in Scotland, provision is made in the Amendment which will make it clear that in the case of burghs in Scotland, where certain rates are chargeable only on occupiers, the rateborne expenditure under this Bill is to be divided equally between owners and occupiers.

Amendment agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

Mr. Westwood

I take this opportunity very briefly to explain the operation of the Bill as far as Scotland is concerned, because this Clause deals with the application of the Bill to Scotland. There is no body in Scotland corresponding to the Charity Commissioners in England, who have very important functions under this Bill, and it is proposed in this Clause that in Scotland the corresponding functions shall be discharged by the Secretary of State. These functions are, briefly, to decide appeals from the decision of registration authorities; to keep a combined register of all charities registered under the Act and a combined list of charities in respect of which applications for registration have been refused and which have been exempted from registration; to make regulations for various purposes necessary under the Act; to direct the removal of a charity from its register or the withdrawal or exemption from registration from an authority; to exercise winding-up powers in respect of charities which have been removed from the register, charities which have had an application for registration refused or which would be likely to have an application refused, and charities the objects of which have failed or become obsolete.

In connection with the winding-up powers to which I have just referred, the Bill extends to war charities powers which the Charity Commissioners already possess in relation to charities within their jurisdiction under the Charitable Trust Acts, 1853–1939. As the Secretary of State cannot operate under these powers, it has been necessary to provide in the Bill corresponding powers for winding-up purposes in Scotland. Under the House to House Collections Act, 1939, all county and town councils in Scotland are registration authorities, and that is provided for as far as this Clause is concerned. In applying the War Charities Bill to Scotland it is proposed that the registration authorities shall be the same as under the House to House Collections Act in its application to Scotland. This is not a new thing. We are simply following the precedent under previous Acts in applying these powers to the local authorities that are referred to in the Clause now before the Committee. I may point out that this arrangement accords with the view of the Convention of the Royal Burghs of Scotland, who were consulted on this particular matter, and that the county councils lodged no complaint. It is necessary in connection with this variation in regard to registration authorities in the two countries to modify in its application to Scotland a provision in the Bill for slightly amending the grounds for refusal of licences and exemptions from registration under the House to House Collections Act, 1939.

7.31 p.m.

Mr. Tomlinson

May I thank the Minister for having given us an opportunity of seeing once again how Scotland leads the way? The reason I put my question was to find out whether there are any limitations or any qualifications in numbers, and I am glad to find that there are not. I am glad the Secretary of State is taking over these duties, and I wish that the Under-Secretary would take note of this, not only in this direction but in many others. Scotland shows us the way in England, and I wish instead of Charity Commissioners we had the same powers mentioned by the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland.

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