§ 4.11 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF CORK AND ORRERY moved to resolve, That the formation of any new Service associations and charities which make appeals to the public for funds is unnecessary, leads to a waste of money, time and labour, and should be prohibited under the War Charities Act. The noble Earl said: My Lords, I do not think there can be many of your Lordships who have not recently been approached to lend your names, or your aid in some other way, to the formation of some association or fund designed to benefit Service and ex-Service men and women. There is no difficulty in forming such societies at the present moment. All that has to be done is for the promoters to approach the regional authorities, and perhaps, they may have to go later to the Charity Commissioners under whom the regional authorities act. But if they can prove their bona fides, and there is no ground for suspicion of any kind, they are all right. Their charity will be registered under the War Charities Act and the new venture will be launched apparently, so far as the public is concerned, with official approval. This is, in some ways, misleading to the public. If you examine the War Charities Act you will see that it is not necessary, in starting one of these new ventures, to prove the necessity for the charity or that there is any need for assistance in the direction it wants to take. The public, therefore, are often asked to subscribe to what is quite redundant and, in this particular, are not in any way protected by the Act.
§ Who are the regional authorities? They are the county councils, or the borough, or urban, or rural district councils, provided the population of the district, according to the last census, was 15,00o or more. These bodies are, no doubt, admirably fitted to protect the residents of their districts against being defrauded, and they go into the question of the genuineness or otherwise of a proposed charity. But they are not so well adapted to decide whether the charity is really necessary. They would know nothing about it in regard to any activities which it might be carrying on in other parts of the country, and they could not be expected to. The Charity Commissioners may well be able to do so, for they have reports of all charities which are started 138 sent to them, but there is nothing in the regulations under the Act which requires them to satisfy themselves that a charity-proposed is, or is not, necessary.
§ There are in existence now for all three Services, well-established funds, many of which are serving under Charters, which are quite capable of catering for all the needs of the Services in the future— I am including under the heading of Services the Merchant Navy—and issuing to the public any appeals for funds which may be necessary. These funds are in the hands of men with ample experience of the work. Your Lordships may remember that in October of last year a question was raised in another place regarding a collection that was made on Salisbury race-course by some men of the Airborne Division on behalf of the Airborne Force Security Fund. Now the Airborne Division had only just previously been withdrawn from Arnhem. It was at that time very much in the public eye and standing high in the estimation of the public. The contributions to the boxes were no doubt liberal. From the answer which was given to the question, by the Secretary of State for War, it became quite evident that the War Office had no control over this fund. It was registered under the War Charities Act but it was completely outside the control of the War Office which had nothing to do with its management and no right to interfere in its activities.
§ When it was suggested that the Minister should consult with the Home Secretary to see whether the War Charities Act was a sufficiently efficacious measure to prevent the founding of war charities which would conflict with the activities of other war charities already in existence, the Minister undertook to see his colleague on the subject. It would be interesting to be told what was the result of that conference. So far, I believe, nothing has yet transpired.
§ That such a conflict of war charities does exist was clearly shown only a few weeks later when, through King George's Fund for Sailors, the Lord Mayor of London issued a national appeal on behalf of all marine charities, and the First Lord of the Admiralty and the Minister of War Transport in supporting the appeal considered it necessary to emphasize the fact that King George's Fund for Sailors was recognized by them as the central medium 139 of appeal on behalf of all marine benevolent societies, and that they, the Ministers in question, were, "most anxious that competitive appeals to the public on behalf of the sea Services should be avoided." Should such requests be necessary? I might add that it was in a few cases disregarded.
§ It might be thought that with the end of the European War so near, there would be no need to raise this subject, but the fact is that there is an increasing number of new Service associations and charities coming into existence and appealing to the public for funds. I feel sure that when the war comes to an end there will be a spate of these charities. People will be only too anxious to do anything they can to reward and help those who have helped to win the war. There will be no lack of new charities and no lack of people to subscribe to them. Many of these new charities, like some of their forerunners, are certain either to falter after a promising start and drag on in a much reduced form, or to die out altogether. In either case the result is a waste of money which could have been much better employed if directed through properly charted channels. Not only is the money wasted but so also are time and labour, and disappointment is caused to those who have put their faith and hope into the new venture.
§ I have the names of some of these new associations, but I do not propose to mention them. I could not mention them all, they are too numerous, and to name only a few would be somewhat invidious. There is, however, one which I should like to mention. It is connected with the R.A.F. It is a recently-formed association and it took as its object the rehabilitation of ex-R.A.F. prisoners of war and the provision for them of club facilities. The council of the association includes some prominent names, but not the name of any highly placed Air Force officer. The moving spirits seem to be two officers —one I think a serving officer and one a retired officer. But that does not matter. The fact remains that this association has been formed. I cast no aspersion on the two gentlemen I have mentioned when I say that, however good their intentions, they would not appear to be well qualified to launch a new venture of this kind, the aims of which seem to cut right across the functions of the Royal Air Force Benevo 140 lent Fund. The association was, however, registered under the War Charities Act, and there was therefore nothing more to be done about it, apart from the refusal of official recognition.
§ Now I hear that this body has, in deference to the representations made to it, curtailed its object, which is now only to provide club facilities for ex-R.A.F. prisoners of war. Common sense has prevailed, but how much better it would have been if, when an attempt was made to promote this venture, it had been pointed out that there was no room for it, that what was wanted was being done, and that this new body could not be registered as a new war charity. Many of the original subscribers were very likely attracted by the idea of rehabilitating ex-R.A.F. prisoners of war, and may not have been concerned about club facilities, particularly if they knew of the large club facilities existing and of the appeals now being made to increase them. It seems a thousand pities that some of this money which has been collected is destined, after paying the running expenses of these new associations, to be distributed by many people who have very little experience or knowledge of how best to do it, when there are many old-established societies whose names are well known and who have the competent administration, offices and experience for the purpose.
§ We hear now of local funds being started for welcoming back the men returning to our cities and towns. So long as these are only "welcome back funds," for some celebration to show how pleased we are that the men have come back, well and good; but if it is a question of making provision for the future requirements of, for example, sick men and their dependants, it only leads to confusion and to varying amounts being distributed, and this must cause jealously in time. All this could be largely avoided if these matters were dealt with by the long-established and officially-recognized funds. I will quote the King George's Fund for Sailors as an example, because I know something about it and am on its Committee. It has a Charter. It dispenses great sums of money, which it pays out to numerous Navy and Merchant Navy charities, but not until these have rendered their annual accounts and the accounts have been scrutinized, and it is shown that their money has been properly expended, and that these bodies are 141 worthy to receive grants. That does not interfere with any local loyalty to the charities. All these charities have their own funds, and people in Liverpool and elsewhere subscribe to them; but they can appeal to the central fund for money, and if they can prove that they have a good case they get it. I suggest to the Government that the public and the men in the Services should be protected by this War Charities Act—the public against the waste of the money which they so generously subscribe and the men against having money which is subscribed to benefit them frittered away, as so much of it is al: the present time. I am asking that the Act should be altered to attain these two objects, and I beg to move.
§ Moved to resolve, That the formation of any new Service associations and charities which make appeals to the public for funds is unnecessary, leads to a waste of money, time and labour, and should be prohibited under the War Charities Act.—(The Earl of Cork and Orrery.)
§ 4.24 p.m.
§ LORD WINSTER
My Lords, I wish very warmly to support the Resolution proposed by the noble Earl. Apart from the overlapping and waste involved in what he has described to your Lordships, it seems to me that if such appeals on behalf of the men of the Services are not unnecessary they ought to be unnecessary. British tourists used to return to this country and make very caustic remarks about the Spanish beggars exposing their sores on the steps of Spanish cathedrals and asking for alms. I think it is equally objectionable to have to have street collections or race-course collections on behalf of men of the type who won the Battle of Britain or who went to Arnhem. If those appeals have to be made, they amount to an admission that the Government pay their armed men bad or even sweated wages. It is a regrettable fact that this country has a bad record for trying to get its fighting men on the cheap. We in the Navy have experience of a parsimonious Treasury which has twice broken down or damaged the wonderful structure of naval discipline built up by the Navy itself. If any of your Lordships doubt my words, I would recommend you to read a book entitled Service Pay, by Captain Russell Grenfell. It is a most remarkable book by a man who has made a deep study of the sub- 142 ject and has a wonderful knowledge of it. In that book your Lordships can see how badly the men of the Armed Forces have been treated by the Treasury in the past. The only criticism that I would make of that book is that I think Captain Grenfell lays at the door of the Admiralty matters for which the Treasury is more to blame.
These appeals on behalf of men of the Armed Services are very easy to make, and the response to them does great credit to the warm and generous heart of the public; but I think that the public, in responding so generously to these appeals, does not always reflect that the appeals are made on behalf of self-respecting men who ought to be given conditions of service putting them above the necessity for any such appeals. I have the honour to be President of the Navigation and Engineer Officers' Union, which represents the interests of the officers of the Merchant Navy. I can certainly say that the officers of the Merchant Navy do not wish to be made an object of charity. We all recognize, of course, that in all callings men fall on evil days, either through misfortune or through folly, but surely in the case of the Armed Forces those instances should be dealt with by regimental funds and funds of that nature, on the principle of "consuming your own smoke."
There are, of course, certain funds which have rendered great service in the past, and which remain necessary to-day, although I hope to an ever-diminishing extent. As regards the Merchant Navy, however, there has grown up an unnecessarily large and unwieldy number of charitable and benevolent societies. These societies have competed in erecting hospitals and missions and institutes. Denominational differences have, I think, led in some instances to the competition and to the redundancy. During the war we have had the Merchant Navy Comforts Service. The Federation representing the officers of the Merchant Navy was at one time represented on that, but it withdrew feeling that the funds collected were out of all proportion to the needs involved, and that there was insufficient control of collection and distribution. The Federation made representations which led to some improvement. It urged control, which led to the introduction of coupons for comforts, which I think had a good result.
Then the Graham White Committee was set up. The Federation to which I refer 143 endorsed the findings of that Committee. That Committee found that there was redundancy in this matter, and recommended the control of all appeals and their centralization in some such fund as the King George's Fund. In that connexion I would urge any society which resists that proposal to reconsider its decision, for I am sure it is a wise proposal that these appeals should be centralized in some such fund as the King George's Fund.
I have referred to the principle of "consuming your own smoke," of a regiment or other body looking after its own men. In that connexion I would point out that the National Maritime Board has recommended that both sides of the shipping industry should agree to a per capita joint levy, so that the industry itself may look after the welfare of those engaged in it. That seems to me to be the right approach to this question of welfare—that the industry and the State should both recognize a moral responsibility for the welfare of those engaged in our Services—and I am certain that the officers of the Merchant Navy would favour such a proposal as that for a per capita joint levy. I have the very warmest possible regard for the work of many of the missions connected with the Merchant Navy. For instance, there is the society called Missions to Seamen, which is represented in this House by the noble Lord, Lord Thurlow, who made such an effective contribution to debate on this subject the other day; then there is the British Sailors' Society, and there are others. I do not want to say anything detrimental to their work, but in regard to appeals I would urge them to appoint representatives of the officers and men in the Merchant Navy to their governing bodies, for if they appeal to people to subscribe money I think those for whom the money is to be subscribed should be consulted as to how the money should be spent.
Voluntary organizations, voluntary charity, voluntary appeals have done magnificent work in the past, but in these matters we have to move with the times. Welfare, in my opinion, must be entirely divorced from conceptions of charity, or patronage, or puritanism or prejudice—anything of that sort. Those things are out of line with modern thought. They are certainly resented by officers and men 144 of the Merchant Navy. I am sure we all admire the devoted work which has been done in the past by many associated with voluntary charitable organizations, and many people deplore the passing of such work into the sphere of the State, but it seems to me that we are witnessing at the present moment the substitution of the idea of welfare for the idea of charity. I believe that to be a healthier thing. And, after all, much of what is called charity and many of these appeals made on behalf of charities are really an admission of the State's neglect of the nation's welfare. There will always be plenty of room for charity in our personal relations with each other. We need not think that, even if much of this volunteer work does pass into the sphere of State control, there will be any lessening of the need for charity in this world; but I think that there should be no room left for charity which arises out of conditions of service imposed by the State on those who serve it. It is for that reason that I would so warmly support the Motion of the noble and gallant Earl.
§ 4.33 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT TRENCHARD
My Lords, I will not follow the noble Lord who has just spoken on the question of whether the Government could do more. That is an interesting subject, but I think it is not quite relevant to this Motion of the noble and gallant Earl. I would like to support the noble and gallant Earl. I have been for a long time connected with a large number of Air Force and Army charities, and I feel very strongly that something should be done now. They are called charities, they are often welfare—they have nothing to do with charity at all. But there are many charities being started, some by ex-Service officers and ex-Service men and other very well-meaning and useful people outside, and others by serving officers in the three Services. I would suggest that we have enough associations in the three Services now, which have done good work in the past, old-established associations which can carry all the load there is to be carried after this war. I think the first thing the three Services should do is to get together and decide that they will not allow any new charities to be started by serving officers. Those could surely be stopped by the Service Departments without interfering with any of the rights of the citizens 145 of this country. I would ask the Government to consider that point, and I hope the noble Lord in his reply will say that they can do it. I see no reason why it cannot be done.
As I say, a number of new societies are being started, and at present I get a large number of letters from civilians all over the country asking me "Is this organization one I should subscribe to?" Sonic people get overwhelmed with demands for subscriptions. These demands are sponsored sometimes by very important and useful and kind-hearted people, but these new charities are sometimes not necessary. There is no way of finding out about them except by writing to friends or to one of the Services. The Services cannot interfere with charities controlled completely outside the Services, but there is one way to carry out what the noble Earl, Lord Cork, suggests, and that is by legislation. I know the Government will say there is no time for legislation, but in my short career in office I found it did not take very long to get through legislation. I know of two cases in which it took five weeks from the day it was initiated to its passage into law.
Cannot the organization be strengthened? I know some of these old societies; could they not get together in a voluntary advisory council? Could they not be advisers to the charity organizations, and could not an amendment be made to the Charity Organization Act, or whatever the name of the Act may be, to provide that no new Service charity should be started unless it has the support of an advisory council? Would not the three Services agree to support that advisory council? Is it not possible in some such way to amend the Act of which I have spoken so that the Charity Commissioners have the power to refuse a licence if they are satisfied that there is another organization in existence which is doing the same work? The noble and gallant Earl took the words out of my mouth when he referred to a charity in the Air Force that I have heard of as being started. There are several in the Army also. All I ask is that the Charity Organization Act, or whatever the Act is under which these charities come, should be strengthened so as to take into consideration the views of an advisory council and to refuse a licence to any charity proposing to do 146 work which is now covered by existing societies.
§ 4.38 p.m.
THE EARL OF CAVAN
My Lords, at this late hour, when I find myself so very much in agreement with the noble and gallant Earl and the noble and gallant Viscount I will not detain you for more than a moment, but I think someone should speak on behalf of the Army. The noble Lord, Lord Winster, just flirted with the word "centralize," and to a certain degree I think that is the ideal, but I should be glad if we could ever arrive at the happy moment when we had nothing but the King George's Fund, the R.A.F. Benevolent Fund and the corresponding body representing the Navy. The important thing is that individual touch should be kept with the men, so that they should not help men who are impostors. I would therefore advocate from the Army's point of view full encouragement of such well-known and well-managed charities as the S.S.A.F.F.A., which has regional organizations in every county in Great Britain, the Soldiers' Help Society, and above all because of the close and intimate touch, the corps and regimental associations which have been in existence practically from the foundation of the Army. In the Army Benevolent Fund, of which I have the honour to be the Chairman, it is our sole desire to see that no soldier, nor his children, nor his dependants, shall be in need, and we are conserving for the moment our main funds so as to meet the years that may be full of difficulties—not this year nor next year but a little later. I support the Motion.
§ 4.41 p.m.
§ LORD JESSEL
My Lords, I have very great pleasure in supporting the Motion of the noble Earl opposite. It does seem to me that there is tremendous overlapping, not only in Service charities but in all charities. What happens when you start a charity is that you have to go to the Charity Commissioners under the Act and be registered and get a licence. Now it seems to me to be very, very easy to get the necessary licence. It is just about as easy as it is to open a club in London or anywhere else on payment of 5s. to the police, who do not inspect the club or do anything else. The remedy appears to me to be to tighten up the power of 147 the Charity Commissioners. They are the body who should be concerned.
I have always taken a great interest in this matter because an association in London with which I am connected—the Metropolitan Mayors' Association, which consists of all the ex-mayors and reigning mayors of London—were very much alarmed some years ago at the multiplicity of flag days in the metropolis. Those flag days were a bother to people. Finally we got it more or less settled that there should be only a certain number of big flag days, like Alexandra Day and Poppy Day. For others you must go to the Commissioner of the Police for permission. That arrangement was arrived at and it has worked very well. There is just this point about it. I believe it is not quite certain whether, under the War Charities Act, the Commissioners really have the power to stop these flag days and other local flag days which are stopped on the advice of the consultative committee. I do suggest to the Government that it will not be very much for them to do to get that Act amended, so that the Charity Commissioners shall be the judges whether a charity is, or is not, redundant or conflicts with existing charities, especially with regard to Service charities. As a regimental officer, I was very glad to hear what Lord Cavan said about the Army Benevolent Fund which relies for its support upon regimental charities, because, as he rightly points out, it is the regimental organizations which know the history of every individual who makes an application, and a great fund like the Army Benevolent Fund could not possibly, on its own, go into all the thousands and thousands of cases that arise all over the country.
I wish to impress upon the Government that there is an easy method of getting this matter put straight. I am not going to repeat the arguments used by the noble Earl, Lord Cork, who put the matter so well before the House. There is a waste both of money and of time, and one is not always quite certain whether, under the unauthorized charities which are competing with one another, the money does reach the right quarters. After the war there will be a multiplicity of appeals—in fact one is getting them every day, as the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, said. Men bother and write to and ask people in authority in a particular Service 148 whether a certain charity is a proper one to subscribe to or not. I hope, therefore, that the Government will get a short amendment to this Act put down, and that the Charity Commissioners—not the Charity Organization Society, but the Charity Commissioners—will see whether there is a fit case for registering a new charity. I do impress that upon the Government. I do not think it would arouse controversy in either House of Parliament and I am sure it would be for the benefit of the public and of those whom the public desire to help.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY OF THE ADMIRALTY (LORD BRUNTISFIELD)
My Lords, those of your Lordships who have taken part in this second debate have achieved a degree of unanimity which is in marked contrast to that which prevailed in the course of the previous discussion. The noble Earl who sponsored this Resolution stated his case, if I may say so, with accuracy and with cogency, but if he left your Lordships with the impression that the matter which he has raised in his Resolution is a simple one, I must immediately take steps to correct that impression. To state the situation perfectly clearly, as did the noble Earl, is quite simple, but to find the solution to the situation of which he and other noble Lords have complained this afternoon is by no means simple.
It is, of course, true that at first sight there do appear to be many attractions in forestalling and eliminating redundant war charities, for the existence of a number of organizations all working in the same field naturally suggests that there is overlapping and that there is duplication of overheads, all leading to waste and loss of effort. But the difficulty lies in deciding which of several charities covering the same field is, in fact, redundant, or would be so if formed, and what authority should undertake the invidious task of making this decision. For example, take the Y.M.C.A. and the Salvation Army. Both of them are organizations of great public reputation, and both do admirable work, amongst others, in the provision of canteens and clubs. Can anybody reasonably say that because they are covering the same field one of them is redundant, and, if so, which? In much the same way it is customary for mayors and other persons of importance in a locality to organize a 149 fund, perhaps to supply prisoners of war who hail from that district with parcels and comforts, despite the admirable work which we all know the Red Cross Society is doing in the supply of parcels to our prisoners of war generally. Yet it cannot be doubted that a mayor's fund with a strong local appeal can satisfy a special field of interest, and it may often be that it will attract greater local support than that available to the larger Red Cross organization.
As regards the authorities who are to decide which charity is redundant, we come up against a very similar: difficulty. It will obviously be impossible for a central authority to assess the value of the local charity, and almost equally difficult for a local authority to assess whether the activities of the larger charity entirely cover the objects of the local charity. The fact that there are these difficulties of assessing the extent of redundancy, and of making decisions which would effectively deny registration to or close down one charity and so leave the field clear for another, is no doubt the reason why no general legislative action to eliminate redundant charities has been undertaken.
§ LORD BRUNTISFIELD
Yes. I am using the word "redundant" to cover new charities as well as those that are already in existence.
§ LORD BRUNTISFIELD
If I may say so, that is exactly what I mean. A charity may be just as redundant, if new, as the charity that is already in existence, it seems to me. The history of the matter is this. The matter was considered in the last war when the War Charities Act, 1916, was under consideration, and then no action was felt to, be practicable. Exactly the same point was considered when the War Charities Act, 1940, was being considered. Consultation took place between the Home Office and the authorities, including the Charity Commissioners and the charities themselves, as to methods for the elimination of redundancy in charitable work and for the prevention of the setting up of new charities, but again the decision was that such 150 control would be difficult and would work unfairly as between one charity and another, bearing in mind that the charities themselves would greatly resent interference with their freedom and initiative which might inevitably paralyze a considerable amount of beneficial charitable work. From the practical point of view, too, administrative machinery for the purpose of eliminating redundancy requires to be most elaborate and extensive whether centrally organized or left to local control. Failing agreement among the interests chiefly affected I cannot hold out to your Lordships that there can be very much hope of any effective machinery being erected, but the picture which has been painted here by other noble Lords and to which perhaps I have myself contributed is not quite as black as it might appear to be. Figures have been obtained from the London County Council, which is the largest registration authority under the War Charities Act of 1940, showing that whereas 73 new war charities were registered in 1941 the number of new charities registered in 1942 fell to 30.
§ LORD BRUNTISFIELD
They are Service charities. In 1943 the figure had fallen to 20, and in 1944 it was only 5, so that it is not quite accurate to say that the tendency to promote these new efforts, charitable or whatever you like to call them, is on the increase.
Lord Winster raised a point very germane to the discussion but one which is not quite in the same key as that in which the noble Earl was speaking. He said that he deplored the necessity for what are called charitable organizations for the benefit of Service men and in the term "Service men" he included the Merchant Navy for which he so often speaks in your Lordships' House. My Lords, none of us would oppose any increase in pay or allowances given to our fighting men which national economy permitted, but I cannot help feeling that, whatever their rates of pay and allowances, they would still wish to contribute towards benevolent funds, for the benefit of the dependants of their fellow fighting men and for their comrades who are unluckily injured or wounded because, quite obviously, no State-run organization which must be the subject of regulations can 151 possibly provide for all the cases that will arise. So you never will eliminate the desire to promote benevolent organizations, as I prefer to call them, for the Fighting Services just in the same way as in civilian life almost every profession I have heard of runs some sort of benevolent Lind to which those who practice that profession delight in subscribing.
§ LORD BRUNTISFIELD
I agree, but I wanted to put the point. Then Lord Jesse' suggested that the Charity Commissioners should be given greater powers. Here let me say this. From the point of View of the Service Departments most of what has been said this afternoon appeals to us very much indeed. We do not want to see redundant organizations set up to promote interests in some quite narrow section of one of the Services, which will duplicate effort and lead to waste of money, waste of labour and other disadvantages of that kind. But this is a matter in regard to which we in the Service Departments realize that we have to tread warily. If you were to introduce a system under which the organization of charities was too rigidly controlled you might very easily bring about a state of affairs which would be most disadvantageous to the very causes which we want to help. For instance, nothing should be done which would prevent some public-spirited rich man from leaving provision in his will for a large sum of money to be set aside in the form of a trust to provide some benefit for one of the Services, and if the law was that that money had to be paid into existing organizations it might well be that the Services would lose very considerably.
My noble friend Lord Woolton at the beginning of the war decreed that the housewives of this country for certain purposes had to go to certain shops. That was not one of the measures which added to his popularity in other respects throughout the country, nevertheless it did not do any harm because people still had to shop whether they liked it or not. But if you say that people have got to subscribe to a particular charity and shall be prevented from organizing their own, maybe quite small organizations, it is quite possible that you will deprive the 152 Services of certain subscriptions that would otherwise be forthcoming. Therefore, although the noble Earl's point of view generally appeals to the Service Departments, it must be realized that we have to be a little careful how we proceed. As I pointed out, the difficulty here is that we cannot get those who are chiefly concerned to agree as to how they should proceed. The charitable organizations themselves have not been able to agree upon a workable scheme
§ LORD BRUNTISFIELD
The three Departments agree in principle. It is the charities who cannot agree among themselves. The authorities who have got to regulate the position cannot therefore find an acceptable solution. That is a very real difficulty, and therefore all that I feel I can do this afternoon is to suggest that the Service Departments might look further into the possibility of some method of voluntary action for the elimination of redundancy in charitable effort. But to be honest with your Lordships I must point out that the prospects of getting an agreed policy are not particularly bright having regard to our experience in the past. The War Office set up a Council of Service organizations under the chairmanship of Lord Rushcliffe in 1943 which was promoted with the best of motives. That Council had a very short life. It fell to pieces, I believe, because those who were members of it could not agree how its expenses should be met. So there are all these difficulties to be got over. I feel that is all that the Government can be expected to say this afternoon, and, in view of the many pitfalls which surround this question, I hope that the noble and gallant Earl will be content to accept this reply and to withdraw his Motion.
§ VISCOUNT TRENCHARD
Could the noble Lord answer the question I put as to whether the Service Departments cannot stop serving officers starting these charities?
§ LORD BRUNTISFIELD
I would like to look into that point. I am not sure what the position is, but I will have the point examined and if I may I till communicate with the noble Viscount.
§ 5.3 p.m.
THE EARL OF CORK AND ORRERY
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his answer. I think in the first part of his speech he rather misunderstood what I was asking. I was not going over past history. Certain charities are now registered and all I am asking is that no more should be allowed to come into existence unless it can be proved that there is need for them. I believe that the Services want no more of these charities either inside or outside the Services, and I think they could come to some agreement on this subject. The noble Lord spoke of the London County Council, but many of these charities do not come under the London County Council. Some have been started within the Services. My Motion quite clearly sets out what I ask, that no new Service charities should be brought into existence, and by that I mean charities for the benefit of men in the Services. The Charity Commissioners could quite well decide whether a charity was redundant or not, and if there was any doubt the Ministry could give them the information. I do not wish to press my Motion this afternoon, but I hope the noble Lord will study what has been said and see whether something can be done, because if not I and my friends will have to raise the subject again. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.