HL Deb 07 April 1960 vol 222 cc801-34

2.30 p.m.

Amendments reported (according to Order).


My Lords, my noble friend Lord Silkin has asked me to apologise for his inability to be here to-day, owing to an indisposition. His Amendments will therefore not be moved, and he would be very grateful if he could deal with them on Third Reading.


My Lords, I am sure the House would like me first of all to express sympathy with the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, and your Lordships' hopes that he will very soon be completely recovered. I am sure that we can make arrangements for his Amendments to be dealt with on Third Reading. I am also sure that, although it is contrary to the general wish of the House that we should deal with Amendments on Third Reading, in the case of Lord Silkin, who has given such great attention to this Bill, the whole House would like his Amendments to be dealt with.

Clause 3 [The official custodian for charities]:

LORD SALTOUN moved, after subsection (3) to insert: () If in any case the charity trustees so require the Commissioners shall make such arrangements as may be appropriate for vesting in the official custodian for charities the property of the charity and for the administration of the charity by such person as they may appoint.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this Bill introduces what seems to me to be an entirely new set-up in matters of charity. It not only calls into force laws which have been fairly generally neglected, but it imposes new laws in matters of charity, and it gives the Charity Commissioners new duties and an enhanced position. I hope that it will also give them sufficient means to carry out the duties imposed upon them; because if it does not, there will be very great delays. So far as concerns the various large collecting charities that have asked me to make representations, there is little more that I need say. This Amendment, however, is quite independent of anything I have been asked to do. It is a matter which the noble and learned Viscount in charge of the Bill promised he would consider before this stage. Amendment No. 2, coupled with Amendments Nos. 10, 11 and 12, enables charity trustees to resign if they find that their position is intolerable, or if they cease to be able to carry out their duties.

I do not know what is the Government's view about charity generally in this country. When I first read this Bill, long before the Second Reading, it occurred to me that the Government had rather come to the conclusion that the days of small private charities were over; or, possibly, that the Inland Revenue had stimulated them to do something to check the amount of money that was being devoted to charity and was escaping from estate duty. A little reflection soon showed me that that was not the case. I have been making such inquiries as are possible to a private individual, and I find that there is less and less money being devoted to charity by way of gift and bequest—certainly by way of bequest—than in the past. People have not the money to leave. Any bequests that are made to charity tend to be smaller than they were in the past, even if they are more numerous. But it stands to reason that, as people get poorer and poorer, and more and more equal in income and property, they will be less and less able to leave money to charity by means of bequest. I do not think that this Bill that we have before us this afternoon is going to help the establishment of new charities. In the past, nearly all new charities have been quite small affairs in the beginning: a private person has seen a need; he has devoted some money to relieving that need, and so has established the charity. That is how the great organisation for which I work has grown up. It started as small individual and isolated efforts all round the coast; then in 1824 it was all gathered together in one institution. However, there is, I believe, still one private lifeboat in service in England—which shows you how the old organisation of these things persists.

It appears to me that one effect of this Bill may well be that the trustees of quite small existing charities will find the new duties laid upon them very irksome. The big organisations, of course, and the great collecting charities, can stand on their own feet, and I think they can defend themselves. I tried on Second Reading to give a picture of the frustration that charity trustees feel when they are too much bullied by a supervising authority, and on Committee stage the noble Lord, Lord Granville-West, drew a very moving picture with which I entirely agreed—it tallied entirely with my own experience. It therefore seems to me that the Government ought to be prepared to make arrangements to allow charity trustees who feel their position to be too uncomfortable to go on to resign their duties and their funds to the Charity Commissioners—to, I suggest, the official custodian, or to anybody whom the Charity Commissioners may appoint as trustee—and so be relieved of their position if they find it intolerable.

After all, these people do their work gratuitously. I know, because I have lived with many of them. I know how earnestly they use their spare time to forethink measures for the improvement of their work; how they use their professional skill; and how they devote an enormous amount of time, thought and energy to their task. I think the country owes them a debt, not a bearing-rein. If they find their position intolerable, I think they ought to be allowed to be relieved of it. After all, the Charity Commissioners have the task of supervising their work. If they get the money and the property, I imagine that that is more or less what is wanted: and these people may well be allowed to retire and leave the Government to undertake the task which they have not carried out to their satisfaction. Once more, my Lords, I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 33, at end insert the said subsection.—(Lord Saltoun.)

2.38 p.m.


My Lords, if I may deal first with the general approach of my noble friend Lord Saltoun. I am very glad that on second thoughts he has abandoned the standpoint that this Bill meant that the days of private charity are over. The whole purpose of the Bill is to ensure that voluntary effort is encouraged and that the vast existing body of voluntary effort is used to the best advantage; and, as I have indicated several times, there is a great deal of work to be done in this field. As to the second point, about the Inland Revenue, I am glad that he has also abandoned that conception; because, of course, the result of this Bill will be that the Charity Commissioners, being in touch with the Inland Revenue, will in many cases ensure that there is no suggestion of the funds of organisations being taxed, because the Charity Commissioners will have made it clear that they are charities. I am afraid one has to concede his next point: that with the general redistribution of wealth that we have seen in our lifetime there will be fewer people in a financial position to leave money to charity; and I do not intend to go into the wider questions which that involves.

But, broadly, I think that involuntarily my noble friend did not do justice to the trustees of charities as they exist to-day. They are, as he said in another connection, a most hard-working and devoted band of people, and I am sure that they do not undertake their heavy responsibilities in the spirit of running a hobby which they can pick up or drop as it suits them. They adopt the responsibility of dealing with funds provided by other persons for purposes beneficial to the community. I am sure that generally they would be glad to be bound by their trusts and the general law relating to trustees.

My noble friend will know that, in general, the charity trustee who wishes to resign can do so only in accordance with the trust instrument or the ordinary law. The Trustee Act, 1925, applies to charity trustees as much as to private trustees. Then there is the ultimate position under Section 39, that if his resignation would reduce the number of trustees below two, of which neither is a trust corporation, he cannot resign. On the other hand, as my noble friend will see if he looks at Clause 17 (7), the Commissioners are given a new power under the Bill to discharge a charity trustee at his own request; and under Clause 19 there is a power to remove him and appoint another in the circumstances contemplated by that clause. The trustees can, of course, go to the court and ask to be relieved of their trust, and that is a matter for the discretion of the court.

What puzzles me about my noble friend's present Amendment is this. I do not think I am doing him an injustice if I say that throughout our discussions he has rather resented giving the additional powers to the Commissioners, and I have intimated in reply that by Clause 1 (4) the Bill excludes the Commissioners from acting in the administration of a charity and throughout rests on the full responsibility of trustees for their trust. I am surprised that in this Amendment my noble friend Lord Saltoun contemplates that any charity trustees who get tired should drop the trust in the lap of the Commissioners, leaving it to them to hold the property and administer it through nominees. That is not the approach of Her Majesty's Government. The Government, both in the White Paper and in the Bill, have done their utmost to maintain the status of charity trustees. It would be contrary to that to accept my noble friend's Amendment. I hope that he will not press it, and if he does, that it will not be accepted.


My Lords, before my noble and learned friend sits down, could he tell us what the present law is? Suppose the trustees decide among themselves that they are not prepared to carry on with a trust, and abandon it (or can they not abandon it?), what is the position?


If they abandon the trust and do not carry it out, then anyone can apply to the Commissioners, who can act in accordance with the provisions of this Bill. The Bill deals with cases where trusts are being badly administered, and there are a number of powers which are included in the Bill. Apart from that, I tried to explain the position of the individual trustee, and I put it quite broadly for the purposes of this short debate. One starts from the trust instrument, which may provide for this. Then, under Clause 17 (7) of the Bill, the Commissioners can act in a case where they have had to hold an inquiry, and the results are produced as stated in Clause 19. They can then, under Clause 19, remove and replace. But, apart from that, the trustee can apply to the court. I hope that my noble friend Lord Hawke will not tie me to haying given an exact account, but I have given him the general position and hope that it will satisfy him.


I think that Clause 17 (7) is my answer.


My Lords, until recently I was a trustee of a charity which was important in the sense of the scope of its work and income. I should like to make two comments of a quite friendly character on the interesting speech we have just had from the Lord Chancellor. I am a little doubtful whether he and my noble friend who moved the Amendment are right in thinking that the sources of charity, despite the heavy taxation of the moment, are drying up; because if one reads the wills in the newspapers one sees still a very large amount of money left to charity. I do not want to get outside the scope of the Amendment, but it is to me rather regrettable that so much of that money goes to animal welfare societies instead of to societies for human welfare; but that is as it may be.

With regard to the other point, I agree, as one who has had 30 years' experience of trusteeship of a large charity, that Lord Saltoun's fears are really unjustified. I regard this Bill as a tidying-up Bill which will really strengthen the position of charitable trusts and do away with some abuses. I do not think a properly run charity has anything to fear from it. I am sure that other noble Lords in this House who have been trustees, as I have, or who are trustees, will agree with me that there was need for this tidying up Bill, and personally I am grateful to the Government for having brought it in.


My Lords, with your Lordships' permission, I should like to rise in response to the point made by my noble friend Lord Winterton, because he is so often right and I am wrong. I have done the people of this country an unintentional injustice. I was allowing my mind to argue a priori, I am afraid, but in fact I have been informed, as my noble friend was speaking, that the Charity Commissioners in a report a year or two ago said that, so far as can be seen, charity revenue continues buoyant. I am glad to say that, and I say it because I am sorry I allowed myself to drift into a false impression. If one takes two specific examples, the Gulbenkian Trust and the Isaac Wolfson Trust, your Lordships may remember that I expressed the thanks of Her Majesty's Government to Mr. Isaac Wolfson and the trustees for their help in matters of criminology a short time ago; and since then I have had the honour to lay the foundation stone of the school of nursing at the Westminster Hospital, in my official capacity as vice-patron of the hospital, representing your Lordships, which was also a creation from a gift of £250,000 from the Wolfson Trust. Therefore I am sorry that I allowed myself to argue a priori, and I at once confirm what my noble friend Lord Winterton has said.

2.50 p.m.


My Lords, with regard to what the noble Earl, Lord Winterton, said, I quite agree that I ought perhaps to have said in my speech moving the Amendment that I rather imagined that the Government were dependent for future resources of charity on these great foundations like the Gulbenkian Trust, and not on what I call private charity. It is true that private charity has kept up in a most extraordinary way, but I have made certain inquiries to try to arrive at some idea of what the future holds. My information tends to make me think that charity by bequest is beginning to dry up, but that there are more people who, during their lifetime, make considerable benefactions to charity than there were perhaps ten years ago.

To go back to what the noble and learned Viscount has said, I think that if he reads the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow, he will see that in the main I drew exactly the same picture of the work of charitable trustees as he did. I think their work is wonderful and patient, and of extraordinary value to the country. Where we differ is that I think one tendency of this Bill will be to diminish the money left for charitable purposes by testators or by private founders in a small way. I have some reason for what I think. Anybody who looks at the terms of bequests in wills will see the formula. Seven years ago, when we had a debate, I produced a page and a half of foolscap containing different formulae which people put in their wills, saying, "This bequest shall become invalid"—or words to that effect— "if at any time the Government take a hand in this particular charity."

There is another side to that, and that is that people are extraordinarily nervous and frightened that any money they give to charity may be diverted from that purpose to another purpose. Clause 13, however useful it may be, and however bad the condition of charitable trusts in England may be, I think will be a deterrent. That is a difference of opinion between me and the Government. That difference of opinion existing, I have put down an Amendment which allows charitable trustees to resign and to hand over their responsibilities to the Charity Commissioners if they feel that they are being driven too far.


My Lords, may I interrupt my noble friend? My noble and learned friend on the Woolsack has satisfied me that my noble friend's point is already covered under Clause 17 (7). Is he not satisfied?


My Lords, I do not think we are covered, because the Charity Commissioners can turn round and say, "If you desire to retire, then the trust will become vacant. You have got to go on". I want to put my position perfectly clearly. I tried on Second Reading, and at times during the Committee stage, to give a fair picture of the frustration that charity trustees do and can feel if they are too much mothered by a Department. In such a case the proper thing to do—especially when powers are granted by this Bill—is to allow them a chance of retiring. If one does not do that, it is rather a cruel thing. That was my reason for moving the Amendment. I do not wish to press my Amendment, but I ask the Government carefully to consider what I have said, because I am perfectly certain that there is a great substratum of truth in it. I beg your Lordships' leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 4 [Register of charities]:

2.55 p.m.

LORD SALTOUN moved, in subsection (4) (c), to leave out "property" and insert "such endowment". The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is quite a simple Amendment, and it may yield to an explanation from the noble and learned Viscount in charge of the Bill. Under Clause 4 (4) (c) the charities which are not required to be registered are: any charity not having any permanent endowment, nor any income from property amounting to more than fifteen pounds a year, nor the use and occupation of any land … I am seeking to substitute the words "such endowment" for "property". The point is this. I am told that the Government take the view that if somebody leaves or gives a sum of money—let us take my own Institution—to build a lifeboat, and you build that lifeboat, as soon as you get that sum of money it is considered to be an endowment and has to be registered with the Charity Commissioners. You have to keep them informed of the expenditure of the money on the lifeboat. That lifeboat, which is the expendable tool of our trade, has to be renewed when it becomes old, and yet it is still considered a permanent endowment. I am coupling this Amendment with Amendments Nos. 21 and 22 to Clause 44 which go together, and say that an endowment is a permanent endowment only if the capital has to be kept intact and the income alone is applied for the purpose of this charity.

It is very important that we should know the precise view taken by the Government and the legal meaning of these things, because while one can quite understand the Government's desire for registration of capital sums which must be preserved, when only the income may be used for charity, it is a very different thing for a charity to have to register every sum of money which is given to it in order that it may carry out the duties the public have entrusted to it. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 4, line 43, leave out ("property") and insert ("such endowment").—(Lord Saltoun.)


My Lords, my noble friend was good enough to say that he thought possibly his Amendment might yield to an explanation which I shall do my best to give him, although if his decision depends on a more detailed explanation of the legal point he has just raised it might perhaps be better if my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack were to add something. Meanwhile, I hope that I may be able to show my noble friend that one effect of his Amendment would be to exclude from registration all charities not having a permanent endowment of over £15 a year. That would destroy one main purpose of the register, which is to record and secure the preservation of a great many small charities which are only too likely to get lost. If your Lordships look at the printed Reports of the Royal Commissioners of 130 years ago, you will see that there were thousands and thousands of small local permanent endowments, of which a considerable proportion have now disappeared. We think that there are still a great number of under £15 a year, often consisting of small rent charges, and it is very necessary and desirable that they should be recorded.

The other effect of accepting my noble friend's Amendment would be that no charity without a permanent endowment would be registerable at all unless it occupied land; and that would really wreck the register altogether. There are a great many charities with accumulated funds which they are not required to hold as capital. Very few charities nowadays appeal for funds on the footing that only the income is to be used. Many of the most important and active would not be required to register, and the information which is intended to be available through the register to potential beneficiaries and social workers would then be hopelessly incomplete; and, of course, the certainty of charitable status which is conferred by the register would also be withdrawn from large areas of the charitable field. As my noble friend Lord Winterton said just now, this Bill is intended to help and strengthen the charities, and this applies to registration as well as to other parts of the Bill. We want to help everybody interested in social and charitable work to get more easily the information needed; that is the main purpose of the register. For those reasons I hope that my noble and learned friend will not press his Amendment. I was rather under the impression that his two later Amendments, Nos. 21 and 22, were consequential not to this Amendment but to another one. If he is not satisfied with the legal definition, perhaps my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor will be able to help in that field.


May I interpose with a question? Would the noble Earl or the noble and learned Viscount tell me what is the difference between a man who gives you £40,000 to build a lifeboat and a man who gives you 2s. 6d. in the street for the same purpose—why one should be registered and the other not?


If a man gives you £4,000 allowing for a good investment you have an income of £200 a year; or you could have an income of £200 a year if you did not spend it at once. That is not a permanent endowment. It may be that the charity accumulates a large sum of money which they can spend if they like, but they do not choose to spend it; they put it on one side for activities at a later date. If you are going to have registration, if you are going to give everyone who is interested in that field of work the chance of seeing what the charities are doing, and if you are going to give potential beneficiaries the chance of seeing what the charities are doing, to exclude the charities that have large sums of money merely because they can spend that money whenever they like, if in fact it brings them in an income, seems to me to be unreasonable.

We have gone into this matter very carefully. I hope that my noble friend will accept from me that the points he has raised have been the subject of long and arduous discussion between my noble friend Lord Dundee and those who have been doing the work on this Bill. We have been in touch with charities, and perhaps I may quote an example on which we have had an actual letter, because it shows the sort of point and shows the sense of it. The letter that came to us through the National Council of Social Service, from the Royal United Kingdom Beneficent Association for the Support of Gentlefolk in Need, says: One of the most pressing problems facing our Association, and indeed other charities concerned with the elderly, is to find suitable homes accommodation for all those amongst our annuitants who need it—particularly for the infirm. The problem exists, of course, because of the general shortage of such homes, but we are sure that the effect of this shortage can be considerably mitigated if we can have complete up-to-date information of what homes accommodation does in fact exist throughout the country. The register of charities will, in our opinion, be of enhanced value in ensuring that the fullest use may be made of charitable resources, if it contains in a separate section lists of all charitably run homes"— and then the Association suggest categories. The noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, might say that that implies the use of land. But the same thing would apply in the case of pension charities. That is what we want to do. Therefore it is important in many cases—and, after all, we are not legislating for one charity but for the run of charities—that we should know what funds are available, and those funds may be available for the moment and providing an income, although they can be used out and out at once.

The other point on which my noble friend Lord Dundee suggested I might be able to help, was on Lord Saltoun's Amendments, Nos. 21 and 22. There, at page 41, line 3, my noble friend proposes to omit the words, "on its being so expended" and to substitute, "that only the income thereof shall be used for charitable purposes". I should like my noble friend to understand why the draftsmen have drafted in this way. If my noble friend will look back to the first part of the subsection, he will see that it says: Subject to subsection (9) of section twenty-one of this Act, a charity shall be deemed for the purposes of this Act to have a permanent endowment unless all property held for the purposes of the charity may be expended for those purposes without distinction between capital and income … That lays down the main provision of the subsection. Then it goes on: and in this Act 'permanent endowment' means, in relation to any charity, property held subject to a restriction on its being so expended. The reason we have used the words "on its being so expended" is that we shall have the same criteria in the second part of the subsection as the first, and it is better to do that than to employ another form of words. The noble Lord's point is perfectly good. If my memory is right (I admit to your Lordships that I did not check it), he has taken the ipsissima verba of the White Paper. He will appreciate the point: one wants the two things to be read together, and for that purpose our form is better; it will be more helpful for those who have to interpret the Act. That is really the drafting point, having got over the first point with which my noble friend dealt.


My Lords, I know that as mover, I am entitled to speak a second time, but we are really dealing with more than one connected Amendment, and therefore I hope your Lordships will give me a little licence, because there are one or two things I should like to say on which the noble and learned Viscount might be able to enlighten me, and it will save your Lordships' time in the end. There are two points here. The noble and learned Viscount said that if somebody left £40,000 for a lifeboat (I am taking a lifeboat because I am familiar with it; there are hundreds of other charities in similar positions) that was a sum that could be invested. But quite apart from being given a half-crown in the street, we are left all sorts of sums, £1,000, £2,000, £15,000, £100,000. The interesting point is: where is the dividing line between the half-crown in the street and the £40,000? When does it become a permanent investment—an investment that has to be separately registered? That is my first point. The second point concerns Clause 44. There is a fear that under subsection (3), as it is expressed in the Bill, it may be held that a lifeboat provided by such a sum was itself a permanent investment, and had to be kept permanently on the station as if it were a permanent investment. Those are the two questions which occurred to me in regard to my interest, but similar questions will occur with regard to every other charity. Can the noble and learned Viscount enlighten me on those points?


My Lords, I can enlighten my noble friend only with the leave of the House. I know that your Lordships are not over-particular about the Rules, though I think that broadly, we have always tried to maintain a distinction between the Report stage and the Committee stage and, generally speaking, not to allow on the Report stage two or more speeches on the same Amendment. But if the House will allow me, I should like to deal with these points, because the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, has held out two baits: one, the silent one, that he has taken a great deal of interest in this Bill, and therefore I am anxious that he should be satisfied; and, secondly, that he has said that it will save time later. Therefore, on both those grounds, perhaps your Lordships will allow me this once the indulgence of speaking again; but I promise that I shall not make it a general practice.

The point that I do not think I made clear to my noble friend is this. We are now dealing with the necessity to register. In my view, on that point it is immaterial whether or not it is a permanent endowment. What we want to know—when I say "we" I mean everybody interested in the charity, the people that I mentioned in my speech—is whether there is a sum of money that will be available for this purpose. We take a sum of money that brings in an income of £15 a year, because after that amount the Inland Revenue are interested from the point of view of lax. As I said in another connection a short time ago, we want to prevent the charity from being worried at all by the Revenue. Therefore, if it is registered the Commissioners will have looked at the charity. To take my development of my noble friend's case, suppose that a charity have a balance at the time of £4,000, which brings them an income of £200 a year. We want the charity to be registered so that it may be known what funds are available for a certain purpose in that area; and secondly so that the Commissioners can say to the Inland Revenue, "This is quite clearly a charitable purpose. Do not bother any more about the fact that at this moment they have an income of a couple of hundred pounds on their £4,000 balance." That is the reason why we want it registered.

The second point is this. I always hesitate to give, if I may use the phrase, "off the cuff" legal opinions; but so far as I can see, having studied it, I do not think that my noble friend Lord Saltoun need sustain his fear. What the subsection does (and this is really what his friends may have in mind) is to put on those who want to say that they have not a permanent endowment, the onus of showing that fact. That is why subsection (3) of Clause 44 is drafted in that way. But I do not for a moment think that that means that in an appropriate case they will have any difficulty in discharging the onus. I do not think it goes any further than that. With that explanation, I hope that my noble friend will not press the Amendment.


My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble and learned Viscount for what he has said on both these points. I am greatly comforted by his explanation. I am also grateful to him for the strong support he has given to an opinion which I have repeated in your Lordships' House again and again; that it would be much better for us, when we have difficult Bills, to recommit them. With those two remarks, I beg leave to withdraw this Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

3.16 p.m.


My Lords, this is a point which the noble and learned Viscount promised to consider in the interval between the Committee stage and this stage. It particularly affects boys' clubs, Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, the Boys' Brigade and similar organisations. It is a point that we have greatly at heart, and I should be grateful if the noble and learned Viscount could give me some information on it. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 5, line 1, leave out ("use and") and insert ("rateable").—(Lord Saltoun.)


My Lords, my noble friend has indicated that this is a probing Amendment. I am sure that he will not press it, because the Amendment would defeat itself. Where, by the operation of existing law, or future amendments of the law, land occupied by a charity was wholly exempted from rates, occupation would cease to be rateable and the requirement to register would not arise. There would be other difficulties, as I am sure my noble friend appreciates, arising from the occupation of de-rated land.

But he has told me that what he really has in mind is the fear that the clause will require the registration of Scout camp sites occupied for the week-end by licence from a farmer. I want to repeat (I hope your Lordships will take this to be generally applicable) the assurances I have given, that there will be a flexible administration of the register machinery to produce sensible and useful results. "Use and occupation" must involve the legal right to exclusive possession and actual occupation under that right. Everyone who drives up to a farm uses the drive and occupies part of it with his car in a sense, but he cannot possibly be said to be in "use and occupation" of the land within the meaning of this clause, or indeed, so far as I know, of any Statute whatever.

If there proves in practice to be any difficulty or doubt—I cannot see it—about temporary camping sites, the Government will certainly be ready to consider putting the matter beyond doubt by means of excepting regulations. But on the face of it, there is no more reason to treat a temporary Scout camp site as land occupied by a charity than the farmhouse itself in which campers lodge indoors. So, both in fact and in our method of treatment, I can give the noble Lord assurances that this matter will be well and truly and reasonably dealt with.


My Lords, I was very interested in the noble and learned Viscount's reply, because that was a point worrying myself and various others who thought that that could be held to be a defect in the Bill; but my noble and learned friend has promised to do various things, by regulation, to make sense of the Bill. I should have thought it would be much more sensible to have some safeguard in the Bill, and I throw out such words as "occupation of any land which would be rateable in the hands of a rate-paying body" or something of that kind—because in the eyes of many people a phrase like "The use and occupation of any land" is a most alarming one.


My Lords, I am not going to speak again, but I would ask my noble friend Lord Hawke (although this sounds very egotistical) to look at a judgment of mine, given in a Scottish rating case a month ago. I believe he will then find his troubles go.


My Lords, I, too, am particularly grateful to the noble and learned Viscount for his explanation, and I am glad to learn, if my noble friend Lord Hawke is right, that the law we are passing to-day will not be put into force. In those circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 10 [Local authority's index of local charities]:


My Lords, the purpose of this Amendment, which is inserted in the Bill at the request of the City Corporation, is to enable them to maintain an index of local charities—that is to say, those which are confined to the City—to undertake reviews and to incur rate-borne expenditure for this purpose. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 11, line 10, at end insert: but the Common Council of the City of London shall have the like powers under this section as the council of a metropolitan borough".—(The Earl of Dundee.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 12 [Co-operation between charities, and between charities and local authorities]:


My Lords, perhaps your Lordships will agree to consider Amendments Nos. 7 and 8 together. Their effect is to add parish councils, the City of London and the Isles of Scilly to those local authorities which the clause at present empowers to make arrangements with charity trustees for co-ordinating activities in the interests of beneficiaries. The clause should enable the fullest possible arrangements to be made for putting charitable resources to their best use. We have included parish councils within this Amendment. In Committee my noble friend Lord Colville of Culross moved an Amendment to that effects which I undertook to consider favourably. I believe it is an advantage for those to be included, and that meets the Amendment—I believe it was No. 33—which the noble Viscount proposed in Committee. The City of London has been included here at its own request.

Amendments moved—

Page 11, line 36, leave out from beginning to ("and") in line 37, and insert ("Any local council")

Page 11, line 47, at end insert— ("In this subsection 'local council' means the council of a county, of a county borough, of a metropolitan borough, of a county district, of a borough included in a rural district or of a rural parish, and includes also the Common Council of the City of London and the Council of the Isles of Scilly.").—(The Earl of Dundee.)


My Lords, I thank my noble friend for these Amendments, designed, I believe, to meet an Amendment put down on the Committee stage. I feel sure they are likely to meet the point of those who advised me in the matter, although as we have been rather short of time I have not really been able to consult them yet. With that reservation I thank my noble friend.

On Question, Amendments agreed to.

Clause 22 [Power to authorise dealings with charity property, etc.]:


My Lords, again perhaps I might couple this Amendment with Amendment No. 14. They give effect to what was agreed during the Committee stage, subject to consideration of the drafting of an Amendment of my noble friend Lord Hawke—No. 57AA. The present drafting is understood to be acceptable to the Church of England authorities on whose behalf my noble friend was speaking. The Amendments recognise that the Charity Commissioners have no power to authorise a transaction in respect of a consecrated church, or land associated with it, which is for the time being appropriated to use for secular charitable purposes under a scheme having effect under the Union of Benefices Measures, 1923 to 1952, or the Reorganisation Areas Measures, 1944 and 1954, and which, on determination of such use, would continue to be subject to those Measures. That is intended to meet the point raised by my noble friend Lord Hawke I beg to move.

Amendments moved— Page 26, line 29, after ("charity") insert ("or confer any authority in relation to a disused church as defined in that sub-section,") Page 26, line 34, at end insert (";and in that subsection 'disused church' means a building which has been consecrated and of which the use or disposal is regulated, and can be further regulated, by a scheme having effect under the Union of Benefices Measures, 1923 to 1952. or the Reorganisation Areas Measures, 1944 and 1954, and extends to any land which under such a scheme is to be used or disposed of with a disused church, and for this purpose 'building' includes part of a building.").—(The Lord Chancellor.)


My Lords, I thank my noble and learned friend very much for these Amendments which I understand fully meet the point of the Church of England. As he knows, these Amendments mask a very spirited struggle between the lawyers advising the Home Office and those advising the Church of England—an almost metaphysical struggle on certain points. I am glad to see that the lawyers advising the Church of England have, in the end, been admitted to be right.

On Question, Amendments agreed to.

Clause 28:

Restrictions on dealing with charity property

28.—(1) Subject to the exceptions provided for by this section, no property forming pan of the permanent endowment of a charity shall without an order of the court or of the Commissioners, be mortgaged or charged by way of security for the repayment of money borrowed, nor, in the case of land in England or Wales, be sold, leased or otherwise disposed of.

(2) Subsection (1) above shall apply to any land which is held by or in trust for a charity and is or has at any time been occupied for the purposes of the charity, as it applies to land forming part of the permanent endowment of a charity; but a transaction for which the sanction of an order under subsection (1) above is required by virtue only of this subsection shall, notwithstanding that it is entered into without such an order, be valid in favour of a person who (then or afterwards) in good faith acquires an interest in or charge on the land for money or money's worth.

3.28 p.m.

LORD SALTOUN moved, in subsection (2), after the first "shall" to insert "not". The noble Lord said: My Lords, although this Amendment and Amendment No. 16 go together, I am going to deal with them separately, because I have to remember that the Bill is not to be re-committed; and one is a little limited in finding out things. I believe, however, that the effect of these two Amendments together pretty well amounts to that of the Amendment I moved in Committee to omit subsection (2). My reason for asking your Lordships to do that is because I understand that new legislation is involved, and if it is carried out that will really make it impossible for many charities to carry on at all. A charity like St. Dunstan's, which has I do not know how many hundreds of houses which are inhabited by blind people, has to buy and sell those houses with complete freedom; that is the only way in which the charity can be managed.

We, in the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, have to provide houses for mechanics, sometimes buying a house, sometimes selling; and it would be quite impossible for us to carry on if we had to apply to the Charity Commissioners every time we wanted to buy or sell a small house. There is a good deal more that could be said upon this subject but I believe that that is the real point. If this subsection is to be insisted upon I should very much like to be told the procedure that will have to be adopted if the Royal National Lifeboat Institution wish to buy or sell a house used by a lifeboat mechanic, or St. Dunstan's wish to buy or sell one of the houses in which their blind people are living. It would be very interesting to see the processes that have to be gone into. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 30, line 11, after ("shall") insert ("not").—(Lord Saltoun.)


My Lords, the reason of my noble friend's Amendment has my fullest possible support, because the particular difficulty which he points out is universally felt among people who have to deal with charity property, such as diocesan finance boards and the like. My only trouble is that I do not really know whether this is the right way of doing it. I was proposing to suggest that there would have to be a wide list of exceptions and the charities such as he mentioned might hope to be included in that list in due course, as I would expect the other people I have mentioned to be. I can assure your Lordships—and I have taken fresh advice the whole time on this matter—that, in spite of what my noble and learned friend said the other day, the procedure for selling property under the ægis of the Charity Commissioners is most irksome, cumbersome and slow. It leads to loss of money and of purchasers at times, and it is utterly unnecessary in the case of large and responsible bodies who are constantly in the property market. Moreover, the comment is frequently made that there is only one way to do the thing quickly, and that is to go and see the Charity Commissioners yourselves. Any sort of procedure which makes that necessary in the case of a Government Department or semi-Government Department is so bad that it is surely unnecessary.


My Lords, I do not want to stop any of your Lordships from expressing your views, but there have been certain negotiations and I have certain undertakings to give in consequence of them, especially with regard to the point the noble Lord, Lord Granville-West, raised, and it might be convenient if I dealt with this case and showed that I have, I think, moved considerably from the position that I mentioned on the Committee stage. Then, when noble Lords have heard what I say, they will see whether it meets the point. Otherwise, they may be pushing at an open door if they approve of what I have to say.

The effect of the Amendment of my noble friend Lord Saltoun, in conjunction with the Amendment on Clause 44, is apparently to exclude altogether from the control of the Commissioners and the Ministry all land which does not fall within the revised definition of "permanent endowment"; that is, land which is held subject to the restriction that the income only may be spent. It is tantamount to the Amendment moved in Committee to leave out subsection (2), as my noble friend Lord Saltoun has foreshadowed, and it would exclude all functional land from control. I hope that I gave sufficient reasons in Committee to show that the control of land transactions exercised by the Charity Commissioners was both necessary and beneficial in preserving charity capital. The question is how to define the transactions to which it should be applied. What all who have studied the problem are agreed on is that the present state of the law is indefensible.

The exemption which Section 62 of the Charitable Trusts Act, 1853, attempted to create for land which the trustees were free to dispose of by linking it to subscription charities has probably caused more litigation, trouble and uncertainty than any other section of the law of property. This is the general point: that this is not so much a problem of charities; it is a problem of the law of property and the passing of a good title and a title that is not going to cause trouble in the future to purchasers in good faith.

Hundreds of applications are made to the Charity Commissioners to settle whether or not the sale of a piece of land is subject to their control, or, much worse, was subject to their control when it was sold years ago. It is a bad state of the law that that sort of thing can frequently arise, and this question should be an urgent one. In hundreds of cases, after long research, the answer is that it is not subject to control, or, indeed, in the case of an old matter, that the Commissioners cannot say but are willing to authorise the sale in case consent is required. It is our view—and here I speak as a law reformer as well as the Minister in charge of the Bill—that such a state of uncertainty, confusion and waste of labour cannot be allowed to continue. The White Paper seeks to cut away the difficulties inherent in the conception of what is called a "mixed" charity and sets out to make a fresh start, settling the law on readily ascertainable principles, so that conveyancers and all concerned will know whether or not consent is required.

The case of investment land was simple. If the trustees are required to preserve the capital and use the income only, the consent of the Commissioners must be obtained; if they can spend the proceeds of sale as income, no consent is required. And this represents a very considerable liberalisation of the restrictions in the present law. Your Lordships may remember that in the course of an almost intolerably long reply on the Second Reading I pointed that out to my noble friend Lord Saltoun, who had asked me about it. But this does not dispose of the case of functional land which does not produce income, but represents a very considerable part of charity's capital. Here, your Lordships may remember that I tried to make this clear on the Committee stage, but it is a difficult point for laymen to appreciate that there it is not possible to see whether or not it is required to be preserved as capital by looking at the trusts or conveyance; the circumstances and nature of the gift must be taken into account. I gave the example of a village hall, and a school is another example, because if the building is sold the charity comes to an end.

Again, I say that this clause is not a policy clause; it is about the law of property. Its purpose is not to change materially the incidence of control of sales, but rather to preserve the existing position in its main features and introduce certainty into the areas where there is doubt by applying new principles, and so get rid of the enormous amount of fruitless and unnecessary work in charity and lawyers' offices, as well as in the departments, in dealing with dubious cases.

May I just point out how the Bill deals with this problem? It sets about it first by demolishing the old definition of "endowment" and replacing it by a new and much stricter one of "permanent endowment". Functional land was almost invariably part of the old "endowment", but will not necessarily be part of the new, "permanent endowment". Subsection (2) then goes on to say that functional land shall be treated as though it were part of the permanent endowment; and subsection (4) allows regulations to be made to take out of this the classes of functional land which are not now, and will not be, subject to control.

That brings us to the point we have discussed in various connections in the Bill, as to the desirability of using subsidiary legislation. It is desirable to do this by regulation, because in the regulation one can go into detail and can specify many things so as to produce certainty in a way that a general principle in a Statute will not. A prime and obvious example is Section 62 of the Act of 1853, which has been mentioned and which, as I have said, has produced so much trouble—and I do not want to fall into that trap again. On the last occasion my noble friend Lord Saltoun objected—he put it rather melodramatically, but I sympathise with his point of view—and said that he was being invited to put his head into a noose and trust the Government not to pull too hard. I am with him to this extent: I am sure he is right in asking for firm assurances about what the Government intend to put into the regulations, and it is hoped that the undertakings which are being given will satisfy him as regards the class of property transactions with which it is understood the collecting charities are chiefly concerned: and I hope that they will satisfy the noble Lord, Lord Granville-West, also.

The Government have repeatedly declared that this Bill is not intended to interfere with the work of the living churches or with their freedom to deal with their working funds, and since the Committee stage the cases which noble Lords have wished covered have been gone into very carefully and discussed with the officers of the Baptist Union and the Congregational Union. It was thought previously that they would be covered in principle by the words used. It is now realised that this was not so, and agreement has been reached on a formula which I believe meets the essential points that were raised on the Committee stage. I therefore give this firm undertaking: that the Government will make regulations to except from the control of land transactions under Clause 28 the following classes of case—this is not drafting, but is a statement of policy, and I want to make it broad and clear. The first is as regards the point of my noble friend Lord Saltoun: that regulations will be made to except transactions in respect of local premises provided at its discretion for the purpose of the charity by a national charitable organisation from its general expendable funds. I think that that covers quite clearly the two points which my noble friend Lord Saltoun put to me. The organisations concerned will probably be named in a Schedule, and I can assure my noble friend that this will apply (to take the example nearest his heart) to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution: and I see no reason why it should not cover the other point which was raised to-day.

I turn now to the Amendment by the noble Lord, Lord Granville-West. There, the regulations will except the transfer of places of religious worship and manses to new premises within the terms of a local trust where there is a living church. If I may say so, I was most impressed by the description of that given by the noble Lord, Lord Granville-West. He took the example where there are local trustees, a local church, and an active local congregation. Indeed, that is one of the matters to which I gave great consideration. Therefore the regulations will except, if I may repeat my words, the transfer of places of religious worship and manses to new premises within the terms of a local trust where there is a living church.

Secondly, they will except transactions in respect of places of religious worship and manses held on the model trust deeds of various denominations, or held on trusts, whereby a denominational authority or trust corporation is empowered to provide, close and dispose of local churches. The noble Lord will remember that I was not sure how far that went, but I did not want my covering of his first point to raise any doubt that I was not standing by what I said on the second point. He understands that my undertaking goes to both. Now I hope that will meet the request made by the noble Lord in col. 590 of Hansard for last Thursday, both as regards chapels controlled solely by the local congregation and those held in model trust deeds or by denominational trust corporations. The undertaking, as I have said, has been given in general terms, but I want to emphasise that to produce absolute certainty it is intended that the regulations should be drafted in consultation with the denomination concerned. It may well prove convenient to have separate regulations for each of the principal denominations and to specify the model trust deeds or trust corporations concerned—in this case, those mentioned in the first and second parts of the Schedule to the Baptist and Congregational Trusts Act, 1951.

May I now say one other word about regulations. As I am afraid I have told your Lordships before, I have probably given as much attention to this subject as to any other in the course of my political life, and I have tried very hard to confine subsidiary legislation to its proper purpose and not to use subsidiary legislation when it really ought to be something in a Bill. But everyone who has had to deal with legislation has come up against the general problem of the complex, modern, scientific State, in which the Government, of necessity—no politics can stand against it—has to work, and therefore to interfere, in a much wider field. If one is doing that, one must have a flexible instrument. That is the first point. Otherwise, one will do injustice, or else will cause uncertainty, as our old legislation did, But, secondly—and this is a practice of modern legislation which I think is entirely right—subsidiary legislation ought to be made after consultation with the people affected.

I have always said that there are two equally important aspects of legislation. The first is to carry out the philosophy of the Government, which may be a political philosophy—although in this case it is not; here it is a general philosophy of trying to improve the existing instruments for carrying on life in this country—but, equally important to that, is the adjusting of legislation to the comfort, security and happiness of the people for whom we are legislating. One difficulty is that we are dealing with different organisations who have a different history—for example, the Baptist Union and the Congregational Church, who have a different history; they have grown up on different lines, have different deeds and so on. But we must make the regulations work. Therefore I ask your Lordships to believe that I am not going back on my own political beliefs as to the importance of Acts of Parliament, but I think this is a field where regulations are necessary. They will, of course, be subject to Parliamentary control and the matter can be raised.

Equally, with regard to the other argument, it is always said politely to Ministers: "Well, we can trust you, but we do not know who is coming after you". That is an entirely formal thing which is said to any Minister who happens to be in charge of a Bill, and I am not saying that it is a particular compliment to myself. In this case, however, we are not dealing with a political matter; we are dealing with a common effort—that is how I regard it—to improve the state of the law of charities, and therefore I think the likelihood of someone going back on the solemn and full undertakings I have given to-day is very small. I am sorry to have detained your Lordships for so long, but this is one of the most important points raised in the Bill. We have given it great consideration and I have tried to meet the anxieties in the noble Lord's mind.


My Lords, I think the indication which the noble and learned Viscount has given of how his mind is working in defining the sphere at which legislation proper stops and legislation by reference starts is acceptable—at least, it is to me. His undertaking that the regulations will exempt certain properties is also acceptable to me. However, I should like to ask him whether his suggestion, that in making the regulations for the churches he will consult the churches and in making regulations generally he will consult those concerned, means that in making regulations for national charities he will consult such bodies as St. Dunstan's, who have vast properties all over the country and who would be inconvenienced if this set of words meant what it says. But now that the noble and learned Viscount has shown me that it does not, I am tolerably satisfied to let the matter go on.


My Lords, I have been asked for the undertaking about consultation, and that it should apply not only to churches but to charities. I give that at once. I did not intend to limit it to churches. I am told that St. Dunstan's, for which my noble friend Lord Fraser of Lonsdale has worked so devotedly, will be covered by the matter, just as Lord Saltoun's charity will be.

3.55 p.m.


My Lords, I wonder whether I may make so bold as to support what my noble friend Lord Hawke said, as he and I together engage in diocesan finance work. A great deal of our time, month by month, is taken up with details of the purchase of curates' residences. The noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor used the word "manse". I was a little nervous whether by confining himself to the word "manse" as a recognised place of religion he was not exempting the curate's residence, which a parish from time to time must procure when they get a curate. I will not press the point at the moment, but perhaps I may leave it with the Lord Chancellor. I would suggest that possibly the whole work of the diocesan boards of finance could be covered by the regulations which he has mentioned in regard to the Lifeboat Society and the like. But if that is not possible, I should like him to consider whether he is not unduly restricting himself by the use of the specific word "manse".


My Lords, the position of the Church of England is covered and my noble friend need not worry about that. The reason why I mentioned it was that I was using the actual words of the Amendment which the noble Lord, Lord Granville-West, put down on the Committee stage. I think my noble friend Lord Hawke was already satisfied that the position of the Church of England was covered.


My Lords, I should like to express my personal gratitude to the noble and learned Viscount for the care and consideration he has given to the points which were raised on the Committee stage. I am sure that his assurance this afternoon will be a source of pleasure, not only to the noble Lords who supported the Amendment on the Committee stage but to the Free Churches generally. I am sure that this is a difficult problem, and speaking, as I believe I can, on behalf of the Free Churches, we readily accept the assurance which the Lord Chancellor has given and thank him very much for the consideration which he has given to our problem.


My Lords, first of all, there is one small matter on general procedure. It seems to me that this is an important clause of this Bill, and I feel that it would have been for the convenience of the House if we had recommitted this clause alone and discussed it, because we all want to come to a clear understanding and agreement upon it and for it to go out in the best possible form. That is by the way. I would say at once that I am grateful to the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor for his assurance, which I unhesitatingly accept. It does not, however, quite end the matter, and there are one or two points I want to present to him for consideration, because I think they are of some importance. The British Legion, I think, will have to be excepted for subsection (1) as well. We know what often occurs. You raise a sum of money to get a British Legion hall; then the first thing you do is to mortgage it to get working capital, and you pay off the mortgage: that brings it immediately under subsection (1).

There is another point to which the noble and learned Viscount referred, on which, if I may say so, I do not altogether agree with him. He said that if you have a village hall, and the hall is sold, the charity disappears. Does it? You have the money for it, and the probability is that if you sell it, because you still have the village you will want another hall. We have known many village halls go from a shed to a moderate hall and to a much better hall; and they go by means of the money made in the smaller hall and from the collections of those who want to help. And so the charity goes on. If every time a charitable organisation has to sell a village hall it is required to go through the processes set out in this Bill, it will be most awkward. I should like to suggest to the Lord Chancellor that the dramatic instances he gave on the Committee stage may have been due to the state of the law. I am informed that nowadays, when people know that they have to go through all this process, they take any offer and submit it just to start off the machinery. Very often the dramatic increase in price may be entirely illusory, however convincing it may appear in Parliament.

There is one other point. When I came into this Chamber this afternoon I had received correspondence which rather suggested that the noble Lord, Lord Granville-West, might be going to make a separate peace. I suppose that every one of the charities that has been mentioned or indicated by the noble and learned Viscount this afternoon may be considered to have made a separate peace. But that leaves out the very people whom, in my experience, it is sought to help, thus giving the most exasperating trouble and frustration—I refer to the small bodies of what I might call private trusts who are affected in the same way; for instance, a small private trust in a church hall. They see an opportunity of getting a bigger hall and of selling the old one. They need to act at once because they need the bigger premises, and they are held up by the whole thing. I am very glad to make a separate peace, but I am a little frightened of doing so because I may be deserting a lot of deserving people for whom, as an ordinary Peer, I ought to be speaking. I am certain that the noble and learned Viscount will consider that point. With those words I beg your Lordships' leave to withdraw the Amendment.


My Lords, before the Amendment is withdrawn, I should like to raise one or two points. I appreciate that the object of the noble and learned Viscount is to simplify conveyancing transactions. But I wonder how in practice, if I am acting for a purchaser of land belonging to a charity, I discover whether or not it is part of the permanent endowment. I should like to know the answer to that question. Still more I should like to know how I find the clear and conclusive answer to the question of whether a piece of land is or has at any time been occupied for the purposes of a charity. That seems to throw the matter back into a completely indefinite past. I am afraid that that will not simplify conveyancing transactions. I am anxious that they should be simplified, and I am sure the noble and learned Viscount is equally anxious to do so. The other point I wanted to make was this. I gather from what the noble and learned Viscount said that it is intended to make regulations which will exempt certain classes of property belonging to charities. I confess that I do not understand this Bill, and it may be that there is some power somewhere to do it. But I understood that the power to grant an exemption meant an exemption to the charity in toto and not to some class of property which it owned. I should be grateful if the noble and learned Viscount could enlighten us on that point.


My Lords, I do not think it would be within your Lordships' general pleasure that we should make this a Committee stage debate. I have dealt with the general points, and I think (I hope in accordance with your Lordships' wishes) that on these more particular points I should merely say that they will be considered, and that I will do my best to write to the noble Lords about the points they have raised. I feel that that would be the most convenient course, otherwise we simply make the Report stage a Committee stage, and I do not think your Lordships in general would desire that that should be done.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


My Lords, the breach of our Rules on the first Amendment enables me not to move my next Amendment, because we are now at one on it.


My Lords, in view of the assurance which the noble and learned Viscount has given in the earlier discussion, I do not intend to move my Amendment.

Clause 34 [Transfer and evidence of title to property vested in trustees]:

(6) The Trustee Appointment Act, 1850, the Trustee Appointment Act, 1869, the Trustees Appointment Act, 1890, and in so far as it applies any of those Acts the School Sites Act, 1852, shall cease to have effect; but the repeal of those Acts by this Act shall not affect the trusts of any charity in relation to the manner of appointing trustees of land assured before the commencement of this Act for a purpose to which any of those Acts applies.


My Lords, I notice that the noble and learned Viscount has an Amendment on the Paper which goes to some extent to meet the points that I had in my Amendment to leave out subsection (6). If I may refer to the Amendment which the noble and learned Viscount will be moving, I would say at once that it goes a long way to meet the difficulties that we find owing to the existence of subsection (6). There is, however, this difficulty, which I should like to put to the noble and learned Viscount. Although it cures the difficulties of those trust deeds which are in existence at the commencement of this Act, it will leave chapel trustees in a considerable difficulty with regard to trust deeds coming into existence after the commencement of the Act when they adopt the model trusts of the Baptist or Congregational denominations, because they do not contain any provisions at all with regard to the appointment of trustees. This means that until the model trusts can be amended—and I am informed that it will take about eighteen months for that to be done—there will be a difficulty. I appreciate that, in new deeds coming into existence after the commencement of this Act, it should be possible for those acting on behalf of the trust to include not only a clause stating that the property is being held upon the model trusts, but also one relating to the appointment of trustees in the future. That is a conveyancing matter which I think those advising the charities would be able to observe. Having regard to that, and in view of the Amendment which the noble and learned Viscount will himself be moving, I shall not move my Amendment.


My Lords, this is the Amendment to which the noble Lord, Lord Granville-West, has just referred. It is a drafting Amendment to implement my undertaking on Committee to consider the drafting of subsection (6). The noble Lord, Lord Granville-West, says that it goes some way to meet his difficulty, and the Amendment is designed to bring out clearly that, as regards such trusts now in existence, the provisions of the Acts are preserved in relation to land. The Acts do not extend to personalty. I should like to read—I was going to say at my leisure—after this debate the speech the noble Lord has made today and have another look at the point. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 33, line 40, leave out from ("but") to end of subsection and insert ("where at the commencement of this Act, the provisions of those Acts providing for the appointment of trustees apply in relation to any land, those provisions shall have effect as if contained in the conveyance or other instrument declaring the trusts on which the land is then held.")—(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 44 [Construction of references to a "charity" or to particular classes of charity]:

4.10 p.m.


My Lords, this is another Amendment implementing an undertaking which we gave in Committee. It was on an Amendment proposed by the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Chelmsford, and by my noble friend, Lord Hawke, and it was intended to remove a doubt which had been felt as to whether glebe land which had been let to a farmer could be said to be, "held and applicable" only for ecclesiastical purposes. It is intended, in any case, that glebe land should be excluded from this Bill, whether it is let or not, and this Amendment removes any doubt about the matter. I think the difficulty which my noble friend, Lord Hawke, had in mind in Committee arose out of the use of the phrase "applicable only for ecclesiastical purposes", and my noble friend will see that the word "applicable" has now been eliminated. There can be no doubt that land is held for the purposes for which its revenues must be applied. In any case, under the subsection as it is re-drafted this matter would have to be considered only in the comparatively rare case of the ecclesiastical corporation aggregate having some purposes which are not ecclesiastical. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 40, line 36, leave out from ("property") to end of line 37 and insert ("of the corporation, except to a corporation aggregate having some purposes which are not ecclesiastical in respect of its corporate property held for those purposes").—(The Earl of Dundee.)


My Lords, I should like to thank my noble friend for producing this Amendment, which is an extremely complicated-looking one, but the net effect, I understand, is to prevent there being any chance of some legally-minded incumbent selling parts of his glebe and popping the proceeds into his pocket with the aid of the Charity Commissioners, without going anywhere near his Bishop or Diocesan Board. Any doubt, I think, is removed by this Amendment, and I thank my noble friend.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


had given notice to move in subsection (3), to, leave out "a" [restriction] and insert "the" The noble Lord said: My Lords, I do not think it is necessary for me to press this Amendment. I think I have got my answer from the noble and learned Viscount. It looks to me as if in the case of a lifeboat we shall have to thank the donor for his donation and not for giving us the lifeboat. If that is so, it is an easy thing to do, and I beg leave not to move the Amendment.

House adjourned at a quarter past four o'clock.