HC Deb 03 March 1983 vol 38 c359
6. Mr. Les Huckfield

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many times he has given effect to schemes for the administration of charities.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. David Mellor)

Three times.

Mr. Huckfield

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that the allegations that I have referred to his right hon. Friend about internal matters in the RSPCA now relate to large sums of money and make many damaging remarks about the individuals concerned? If his Department and the Charity Commission refuse to intervene, and my constituents Dr. and Mrs. House now face expulsion from the society for trying to act internally, will not much damage be done to the RSPCA if it is to remain a credible body on animal welfare matters?

Mr. Mellor

The hon. Gentleman knows only too well that the aim of the 1960 Act was to keep politicians out of the affairs of charities. As a result, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has no responsibility for the affairs of individual charities. The Charity Commission has no power to intervene in the administrative affairs of charities, including internal policy disputes such as appears, unfortunately, to be taking place within the RSPCA.

The hon. Gentleman knows that the chief charity commissioner has endeavoured to play a constructive role in the dispute between the charity and the hon. Gentleman's constituents, and said as much in his letter of 21 January to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Christopher Price

If the aim of the 1960 Act is to keep politics out of charities, why is the Charity Commission pursuing the Exclusive Brethren and picking on a religious charity in that way? Would it not be better for the Government to come forward with comprehensive legislation so that distasteful charities, such as the Moonies and Eton college, may be separated from decent charities, which might then have an opportunity to get relief from value added tax?

Mr. Mellor

Most of the matters raised by the hon. Gentleman, especially that of the Exclusive Brethren, are the province of the chief charity commissioner, not me. In asking for fresh legislation the hon. Gentleman is looking further into the future than I would care to do.