HC Deb 21 July 1960 vol 627 cc909-12
Mr. Renton

I beg to move, in page 49, line 23, to leave out paragraph 5.

This is a drafting Amendment, but as I cannot believe that there is a desire to hear a speech from me at any later stage, I should very much like to take this opportunity to thank the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) and those few hon. Members on both sides of the House who have helped us with this Bill, have worked very hard in scrutinising it, have don, a lot of valuable work, and have mace constructive suggestions, which were necessary and which we have found most helpful. I should like to express my warmest thanks to them, especially, if I may, the Solicitor-General, from whose wise and patient and skilful guidance we have benefited so much.

I should like also to pay tribute to the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. Fletcher) who has had a lonely task, especially tonight. He has borne a very great burden for the Opposition which certainly needed to be borne. The right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) has a great interest in religious trusts, and I hope that even now he may feel, as I reminded him the other day, that In faith and hope the world will disagree, But all mankind's concern is charity.

Mr. Ede

You did not rule the hon. and learned Joint Under-Secretary out of older for the personal remarks he made. Mr. Deputy-Speaker. May I say that I have enjoyed my association with the Bill? But I regret that, as far as I can see, nobody has profited from my efforts. The hon. and learned Gentleman said in Committee about this same stage that there had been batsmen and bowlers but there had also been an outfield who had watched them and had rendered a useful service. We have so many hon. Members here now that it is quite evident that they are expecting the last man very soon to be out and I would not delay them from that pleasure.

Mr. Graham Page

May I also have one sentence out of order in congratulating most sincerely from this side of the Chamber my hon. and learned Friend the Joint Under-Secretary for the Home Department and my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General on carrying the Bill through to this stage and being so kind to us on the back benches in conducting a Bill to which I personally still remain wholly opposed?

Sir Hugh Linstead (Putney)

A Minister and a right hon. Gentleman having been out of order, perhaps you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker and the House will give me the opportunity of being equally out of order for a very personal reason. We have circulated to us from time to time in the OFFICIAL REPORT a list of Ministers and Principal Officers of the House. In that list there are two hon. Members who are neither Ministers nor Principal Officers. One is Parliamentary Charity Commissioner and the other is Second Church Estates Commissioner. As the Bill brings to an end my tenure of office as Parliamentary Charity Commissioner, I hope that the House will allow me very briefly to say that on balance I am very glad to see the Bill being passed and to see the improvements it makes not only in the law relating to charities but in the way in which the Charity Commission will be able to function more amply in the future.

If I have a criticism it is the rather fundamental one that in future the Charity Commissioners are to be appointed by the Home Secretary and not by Her Majesty. I thing that the bringing of the Executive still closer into contact with charities is not a wise procedure. It may to some extent dry up the source of charities in some cases. Nevertheless, taking the Bill as a whole. one has to recognise an improvement in the law of charity. In the two Houses the Home Secretary's powers have been substantially cut down and therefore one has every reason to hope that the Commissioners will function very much as they have done in the past and that the Executive will not be interfering too closely in the administration of charities.

I should like to thank my colleagues on the Commission for the friendly way in which they have collaborated with me over the last few years and also the House for the way it has allowed me to pilot Bills with very exotic titles through all their stages with, I think, only one interruption from the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) on one occasion. I should also like to thank the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway, who asked me the only Question I shall ever have tried to answer in the House, and hon. and right hon. Members for the applause they gave me on that occasion upon my satisfying an hon. Member who is not normally satisfied at Question time.

Retiring from this office which has given me so much pleasure and satisfaction, I am leaving my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Sir H. Ashton) as the sole example extant of the genus Parliamentary Commissioner.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. Gentleman has concluded his career with a very disorderly speech.

Mr. Fletcher

I should hate to be out of order, but I should equally hate to be excluded from this exchange of pleasant courtesies. I am sure that all of us who have taken part in the discussions on the Bill feel that we have been engaged on a very useful and fruitful piece of constructive legislation. We are all glad, as we said on Second Reading, that the Government have been able to embark on this task and carry it through. We feel that there are still certain defects in the Bill, but we are nevertheless glad that it will be put on the Statute Book. We are glad to have had the opportunity of making some modest improvements in it.

At this concluding stage, I should like to thank both the hon. and learned Gentleman the Joint Under-Secretary and the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor-General for their thoroughly patient, courteous and conscientious replies to all the points that we have raised at the different stages.

Amendment agreed to.

Bill read the Third time and passed, with Amendments.