HC Deb 27 November 1975 vol 901 c1019
2. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to send an official reply to the Committee which reported some time ago on the work of the Charity Commissioners.

Dr. Summerskill

We are studying the recommendations made in the recent report from the Expenditure Committee, but would prefer to defer our reply until we have also seen the report of the committee set up by the National Council of Social Services to study this subject from the standpoint of the voluntary organisations themselves.

Mr. Hamilton

Does my hon. Friend appreciate that this was an all-party report, unanimously agreed to by the subcommittee and the full Expenditure Committee? It is clear, is it not, that there are considerable abuses within the charity field, not least of which is regarding public schools such as Eton and Harrow as charities? If there are to be cuts in public expenditure would not that be a good place to start, since it would save considerable sums of money for taxpayers at central level and for local ratepayers who have to foot half the rate bill for these expensive and exclusive educational establishments?

Dr. Summerskill

I agree with my hon. Friend. This was a unanimous report, and a valuable one, with more than 20 separate recommendations, so it is important that we give it careful study.

Mr. Steen

Is the Minister aware that her right hon. Friend could save many neighbourhood and community self-help organisations which are threatened with extinction as a result of the no-growth phase of local government expenditure next year, by supporting the setting up of non-profit-making voluntary bodies that would have the advantages of the financial awards enjoyed by charitable organisations?

Dr. Summerskill

That is obviously one of the points concerning our whole examination of charity law which we shall take into consideration before we make final decisions.