HC Deb 01 December 1983 vol 49 cc975-6
5. Mr. Chris Smith

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will place in the Library a copy of the text of the speech made by the Minister of State to the National Council of Voluntary Organisations on 13 November.

Mr. Waddington

I have placed a copy in the Library today.

Mr. Smith

Will the Minister be good enough to deposit in the Library an explanation of what he meant by political activities carried out by charitable organisations."? Will he confirm to the House that it is perfectly right and proper for charities to express public anxiety on issues of a general, and sometimes political nature if their experience of individual suffering leads them to believe that general issues are at stake?

Mr. Waddington

I made it clear in my speech that I was talking about party political activities. I see nothing wrong in voluntary bodies campaigning even for changes in the law — and, in the case of charities, within the restraints of the law. I said that in the longer term a neutral or an apolitical stance was important for the voluntary sector and in its own interests.

Mr. Jessel

Is it a welcome fact that an increasing number of voluntary organisations that are financed partly by public money devote a growing proportion of their time and money to campaigning on what they think Parliament and the Government should do? Why should the Government be expected to vote finance for such matters? Would it not be much better if voluntary organisations and charities concentrated more on their traditional role of helping people direct?

Mr. Waddington

I said in my speech that if I were a member of the management team of a charity or voluntary body I should rather be criticised for putting too much emphasis on services to clients and too little on their political context, than to risk the opposite criticism and a loss of public good will.