HC Deb 06 June 1991 vol 192 cc398-9
8. Dr. Goodson-Wickes

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what consultations he has had towards implementation of the Woodfield report on charities.

Mr. John Patten

A wide range of charities and other interested bodies and individuals made helpful comments on the Woodfield report. The Government took account of those comments when preparing the 1989 White Paper and are continuing to do so in preparing forthcoming legislation.

Dr. Goodson-Wickes

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Woodfield report, which addresses the proper administration of charities, has gathered dust for far too long? Does he further agree that recent allegations about misconduct in well-known charities does enormous damage and undermines the confidence and thus the generosity of the British people's charitable giving?

Mr. Patten

We want to sustain charitable giving in this country at its present record level. The British people are very generous, but my hon. Friend is right to say that nothing undermines that generous streak in the British character more than the fact that money is not reaching the right target or the right people or that political agitation is linked to charitable activity.

Mr. McAllion

Will the Minister confirm that the complaints against Oxfam are focused on its support for the use of sanctions against the apartheid system in South Africa and on its opposition to international support for the murderous Pol Pot who threatens a new holocaust in Cambodia? Why is it too political for charities to put the needs of the poor before self-serving power politics in the west?

Mr. Patten

That is not a matter for Ministers. Under British law it is entirely a matter for the charity commissioners.