§ 75. Mr. Keeling
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been drawn to the conviction of a clergyman for the misuse of large sums of money collected from the public during the last 14 years through charitable appeals by circular and advertisement; and, in view of previous similar 925 frauds, whether he will appoint a committee to consider the registration of persons making such appeals and the supervision of their accounts, subject to the exemption of approved charities?
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Peake)
Yes, Sir. It is satisfactory to find that the law has not proved ineffective to deal with these serious offences. When the general question of the supervision of charities was inquired into by a representative Committee in 1927 they came to the conclusion that the fraudulent gains of a few rogues amounted only to a very small part of the vast sums which are given for charity, that these frauds were not likely to remain undetected for long and that the existence of these occasional abuses would not justify a general system of supervision over charities. Since then Parliament has passed the House to House Collections Act, 1939, and the War Charities Act, 1940. Whether any further strengthening of the law is practicable and desirable is a matter which is receiving consideration but it should not be assumed that the recent conviction of one individual necessarily indicates the need for an amendment of the existing law.
§ Mr. Keeling
How does my hon. Friend reconcile the first part of his reply, which expresses satisfaction with the present law, with the fact that these frauds continued for 14 years before the offender was brought to justice?
§ Mr. Keeling
What is the objection to applying the system which so satisfactorily controls house-to-house and street collections to this graver evil?
§ Mr. Messer
Will not the hon. Gentleman agree that if everyone was properly maintained, there would be no need for these charities?