§ 2.42 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ [The LORD MERTHYR in the Chair.]
§ LORD SILKIN moved to insert as a new Clause 1:
§ Definition of "charitable purpose"
§ "For the purposes of this Act a charitable purpose is either—
- (i) one which exists for
- (a) the advancement of religion; or
- (b) the advancement of education, learning, science or research; or
- (c) the relief of poverty; or
- (d) the promotion and advancement of social welfare, including public recreation and sport.
- (ii) one which otherwise than in paragraph (i) of this section benefits the public generally, whether with or without reference to or limitation within a locality, or within some group or section of the community.
§ Provided that where the beneficiaries of a trust for any of the objects specified in paragraphs (i) and (ii) of this section are identified by the tie of blood relationship the trust will not be one for a charitable purpose; and where the beneficiaries of a trust for any of the objects specified in paragraphs (i) and (ii) of this section are identified by some contractual or similar bond of a continuing character, whether as members of an association or as employees of a limited company or other similar organisation, the trust will be one for a charitable purpose; and provided further that the promotion of public recreation and sport shall not be for a charitable purpose unless it is for the benefit of persons who participate in it without financial remuneration."
§ The noble Lord said: In this Amendment I have endeavoured to lay down a definition of "charity". I need hardly say that a definition of charity, or perhaps I should say a modern revised definition, is highly desirable if it can be provided. This matter was raised on the Second Reading of the Bill, and I am bound to say that I received little or no encouragement either from the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor or from anybody else in this House as to the practicability of finding a definition which would be appropriate to modern requirements and which would be acceptable in all respects. I do not 6 suppose that the definition that I have put forward in this Amendment will be entirely acceptable to everybody in this Committee. Nevertheless I think it is worth while, and I hope that I have put forward something which can be used as a basis for formulating some kind of definition of charity.
In the Nathan Report, in Chapter 3, the Committee deal with this question of definition of charity and say (paragraph 140):
We consider a rewording of the 'definition' of charity is needed".
They allow for flexibility of interpretation. They refer to the existing definition by reference to the Preamble to the Statute of Charitable Uses, which they say should be repealed, and they recommend that in its place there should be placed on the Statute Book a definition based on Lord Macnaghten's classification but preserving the Case Law as it stands. I am bound to say that later on in their Report they rather, if I may respectfully say so, wobble a bit, because we find that they do not recommend after all that there should be a definition of charity. But the words that I have read are perfectly clear and I think that the Committee were right in their first thoughts and wrong in their second thoughts.
May I read what is the existing definition of charity under the Statute of Charitable Uses Act, 1601? I may say that the whole of that Act has been repealed except for this precious definition of charity which has been retained. These words are in the Nathan Report, and I gather they are translated into modern English because the actual language of the 1601 Act would be quite unintelligible. This is the definition upon which we are working at the present time:
Whereas Lands, Tenements, Rents, Annuities, Profits, Hereditaments, Goods, Chattels, Money and Stocks of Money have been heretofore given, limited, appointed and assigned as well by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, and Her most noble Progenitors, as by sundry other well disposed Persons, some for Relief of aged, impotent and poor People; some for the Maintenance of Sick and Maimed Soldiers and Mariners, Schools of Learning, free Schools and Scholars in Universities, some for the Repair of Bridges, Ports, Havens, Causeways, Churches, Sea-Banks, and Highways; some for the Education and Preferment of Orphans; some for or towards the Relief, Stock or Maintenance for Houses of Correction; some for Marriages of Poor Maids;
some for Supportation, Aid and Help of young Tradesmen, Handicraftsmen, and Persons decayed; and others for Relief or Redemption of Prisoners or Captives; and for Aid or Ease of any poor Inhabitants concerning payment of Fifteens, setting out of Soldiers and other Taxes …
That is the law of charities as it stands to-day. Superimposed on it is a vast number of cases, a body of Case Law, a good deal of it contradictory, as I hope to point out in a later Amendment, and certainly difficult of access and understanding by an ordinary person who desires to create a trust. So I think that there can be no doubt as to the desirability of providing a modern definition if it can be conveniently and appropriately done.
An attempt was made in 1891 by Lord Macnaghten to lay down such a definition in a case of the Commissioners of Income Tax v. Pemsel which has become known as the Pemsel case. In fact a good deal of the Case Law since that time has been based on the definition as laid down by Lord Macnaghten. My Amendment is based upon the definition as laid down in that case by Lord Macnaghten in the House of Lords. If your Lordships will refer to the Amendment, you will see that paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of subsection (1) almost exactly follow Lord Macnaghten's definition. Paragraph (d), which says:
the promotion and advancement of social welfare, including public recreation and sport
is new. I have included social welfare because to-day that is an accepted purpose of charity. There is no difficulty about the definition of "social welfare". It appears already in two Acts of Parliament; it is set out in the Miners' Welfare Act, 1952, and also in the Rating and Valuation Act, 1955, in Section 8. It appears also in Section 1 of the Recreational Charities Act, 1958. In the later Act Section 1 (1) reads:
Subject to the provisions of this Act, it shall be and be deemed always to have been charitable to provide, or assist in the provision of, facilities for recreation or other leisure-time occupation, if the facilities are provided in the interests of social welfare.
The other two Acts that I have referred to contain similar provisions referring particularly to social welfare. So there is nothing new in the reference to social welfare as one of the purposes of charity. In my paragraph (i) (d) I have
slightly widened the definition so as to include amateur sport, and the last words of the proviso provide also that it should be amateur.
The second paragraph of my Amendment is a general provision which incorporates the conception of the public benefit, and is designed to deal with anomalies and ambiguities arising out of a number of decisions of the courts. I have in mind particularly two recent cases quoted in the Nathan Report. They are there for anybody to read, but the names of the cases are In re Hobourn Aero Components Limited's Air Raid Distress Fund, 1946, and Oppenheim v. Tobacco Securities Trust Company Limited, 1951. They are referred to in paragraph 135 of the Report. Perhaps your Lordships will allow me to read just a few lines from the Report:
In a recent case the decision appears to have been based"—
this deals with the nexus of common employment—
on the principle that the element of public benefit is not present if the class concerned has the nexus of common employment, for example, if, as in that case"—
that is the case of Hobourn Aero Components Limited's Air Raid Distress Fund, 1946—
the beneficiaries of the trust were the employees or former employees of a particular limited company and their dependants. This principle was later approved by the House of Lords in
the other case Oppenheim v. Tobacco Securities Trust Company, Limited. The Report points out that in the latter case
the object of the trust was the education of children of employees or former employees of a limited company which employed over 110,000 persons.
Although there was a dissenting opinion in the House of Lords, nevertheless the House of Lords came to the conclusion that, because the trust was for the benefit of this limited class of persons who were connected with the donor by the nexus of employment, the trust was not a charitable trust.
§ In the proviso to my Amendment I tried to put that situation right by stipulating that although where there is a blood relationship between the donor and those who benefit a trust is not to be charitable, where the relationship is between an employer and em- 9 ployees then it should be regarded as a charitable trust. The proviso also lays down that where the trust is for the advancement of education, learning, science or research, the mere fact that the trust is for the benefit of employees of a company shall not invalidate it as a charitable trust.
§ I have given a fairly long explanation of what is a long Amendment. I do not pretend that as it stands the Amendment is necessarily acceptable in all respects, but I think it is worthy of serious consideration and should be regarded as a first shot at creating a modern, up-to-date definition of a charity. I put it forward in all humility, and in that sense I hope that neither the noble and learned Viscount nor others, who I can see are itching to speak in opposition to it, will reject the idea out of hand. I know that your Lordships can make holes in certain parts of the Amendment. No doubt the drafting is imperfect—I have not been able to get the assistance of Parliamentary draftsmen for the purpose of drafting this clause, although I have been helped by a number of friends who are interested in providing a definition. But it the noble and learned Viscount is satisfied that a case has been made for some definition somewhat along the lines of this one, then I shall be quite content. With that I beg to move this Amendment.
Before Clause 1, insert the said new clause.—(Lord Silkin.)
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (VISCOUNT KILMUIR)
My Lord Chairman, before the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, speaks, it might be convenient if we we were to discuss his Amendment on the same point. Of course, it does not prevent him from asking for a vote on it when the time conies.
§ 2.59 p.m.
§ LORD CHORLEY
I am grateful to the noble and learned Viscount. I was going to propose that it would be most convenient, on the whole, to deal with my Amendment to Clause 5 at this particular stage. It is substantially the same point as that which my noble friend Lord Silkin has explained to your Lordships, and I am in general agreement with the argument which he has put forward. If by good chance the noble and learned 10 Viscount felt that he was able to make a concession in regard to this matter, which is one of great importance, the rather different approaches of the Amendment which I have put down and that of my noble friend, Lord Silkin, could no doubt be reconciled on the Report stage.
Here there are really two essential matters. I think that the definition of "charity", as applied in the courts, has become too narrow for the purposes of the modern world, and the courts have been finding it very difficult—and not unnaturally so, because of our doctrine of precedent which very much ties their hands in this type of case—to develop the law relating to charities in the way required by the circumstances of the world in which we are now living in 1960, which are altogether different from those at the time when many of these decisions were taken. It seems to many of us that the only way to put the situation on a proper basis, the kind of basis which is required at the present time, is by legislative amendment of the law on the lines proposed by my noble friend Lord Silkin, in his Amendment, or that which I save tabled.
There is, of course, the other point, which I believe was touched on by the noble and learned Viscount himself and by other noble Lords in the Second Reacting debate, in regard to a certain difference which has grown up between the practice of the Inland Revenue Department and the Charity Commissioners. As your Lordships are aware, for the purposes of reclaiming or deducting income tax the Inland Revenue authorities have adopted an attitude rather different from the more legalistic attitude taken up by the Charity Commissioners, who are, of course, professional lawyers and, perhaps naturally, take a rather more rigid view of the situation than the Inland Revenue authorities have taken, at any rate in many cases.
The attitude of the Inland Revenue Department, on the whole, has been very liberal, and the Department has recognised many bodies which, from the point of view of strict law, could not, I think, really be regarded as charities at all. There are many organisations, with some of which I am myself fairly closely connected, which are very worried about this 11 particular matter. The Council For the Preservation of Rural England is one which comes to my mind. It is very doubtful whether that kind of object is charitable, according to the ordinary acceptance of the term; the Ethical Union is another, and I am sure that other noble Lords here are connected with organisations which are equally worried. I believe that there has been a meeting at which something like 80 organisations were represented, all of whom are worried about this particular point, and it seems to us that this is a very good reason why we should put in this Bill a much wider definition of "charity" in order that this difficulty may be overcome.
It may well be (indeed, I think the noble and learned Viscount himself went some distance in that direction) that the Inland Revenue authorities will continue to take a charitable view of this matter, and no doubt we are and shall be grateful for that assurance so far as it has gone; and if it could be made more explicit we should be even more grateful. But I feel that it would be better to have the matter expressly dealt with in the form of a Statute, rather than left on the basis of assurances, especially as Clause 9 of the Bill empowers the Charity Commissioners to furnish to the Commissioners of Inland Revenue, and to other Government Departments and local authorities, particulars of bodies which are treated as charitable, or information to enable the Inland Revenue authorities or a local authority to decide whether or not a particular body is charitable. That indicates that there is at any rate a possibility of the matter being dealt with on a uniform basis in these two Departments, and if the Charity Commission's view prevailed that would certainly smash up the finances of a substantial number of organisations which are doing work of the greatest value.
As your Lordships are aware, under Clause 5 (1) a body is conclusively presumed to be a charity while it is on the register and that will certainly be very valuable, provided that a wide view can be taken. But in a number of cases, as I have already indicated, the Charity Commissioners have themselves taken a rather narrower view. I am aware of one particular case in which the Charity 12 Commissioners for a long time consistently refused to recognise a particular body which was established for purposes of political research and education—the work of which, I am sure, is known to most of your Lordships and is generally recognised to have been of the greatest value for a number of years now. That organisation was accepted by the Inland Revenue Department but was rejected by the Charity Commissioners. In the end, I believe, a decision of the Court declared that the body is, in fact, a charity. In other words, the Charity Commissioners were overruled and the more liberal view taken by the Inland Revenue Department was accepted.
I appreciate that, generally speaking, the Bill provides a sensible simplification both of the law and of the administration, and that, theoretically at any rate, there ought not to be any difference of opinion between the Inland Revenue Department and the Charity Commissioners. This matter was to some extent considered by the Radcliffe Commission who indicated, as I understand it, that there ought to be a clear separation of these two particular aspects of the problem. In an interesting article in the Guardian on February 8 last the view was taken that it is important that the definition of "charity" should now be drawn sufficiently wide to cover all those bodies which are really doing a job of work that is in the interests of the country at the present time. The phrase used in the Guardian was "public purposes". I believe that that is a very useful phrase, because it is to the interest of the country as a whole that public purposes should be regarded as charitable and that every effort should be made to give them encouragement.
Unfortunately, the law as it stands at present does not enable that to be done—my noble friend Lord Silkin has referred to some of the cases in point. One was the famous Baddeley case, which had to be put right by a special Act of Parliament. Another was the case of the Glyn's Will Trusts, reported in The Times of March, 1953, where it was held that a gift of land, by will, as a sanctuary for birds and wild flowers, with provision for admission of the public by invitation, was invalid as a charitable gift. Obviously, that was very much in the public interest and was, in a wide sense of the term, for public purposes.
13 It is considerations of that sort that we have had in mind in drafting the provision which stands in my name on page 4 of the Marshalled List of Amendments. I do not know that it is necessary for me to take your Lordships through it in detail. The purposes are there stated as:Purposes otherwise charitable notwithstanding that the class of persons to benefit, directly thereunder is or may be limited by a requirement of membership of an organization, employment, race, religion or other qualification:"—because qualifications of this kind have in a number of cases been held to prevent a bequest or settlement from being held charitable—Provided that"—and the provisos are, of course, necessary, I think, in order to safeguard the situation—
Then my Amendment goes on—and this is where I get the principal general criterion which I have explained already:
- "(i) … the persons to benefit directly there-under exceed fifty in number;
- "(ii) in the case of educational purposes relationship to any person is not a qualification;
- "(iii) in the absence of a direct benefit to the community as a whole that an element of indirect public benefit appears;"
Then we seek to add an explanatory paragraph which makes it perfectly clear that "public benefit" is to include
- "(b) Purposes however expressed from which an overriding intention to secure the public benefit appears;
- "(c) Purposes otherwise charitable in which for the better performance of the primary object of the institution or trust public participation is restricted or, in the case of land held upon charitable trusts, public access is restricted.'(a) the conservation of nature and nature resources and the improvement of plant and domestic animals"—which I should have thought everyone would agree ought to be regarded as charitable and have the advantages which a charity gets—and(b) the improvement of professional and personal standards in public and private life.Quite a number of professional organisations, associations of professional men of one kind or another, are ruled out as charities, yet are doing exceptionally valuable work. And to some extent, of course, they have now been recognised under the recent 14 Finance Act, so that subscriptions to them may be treated as expenses and deductions made on that sort of basis, which I should have thought in principle concedes the point. The Amendment then refers to:(c) Any purpose tending to improve human conditions of life and to advance civilisation anywhere in the world".And finally, a general omnibus paragraph:any purpose beneficial to the community.I hope that the noble and learned Viscount will feel that he can agree with us that the law in relation to charities requires to be expanded on the sort of lines which I have suggested and which my noble friend Lord Silkin has suggested; and even if he cannot accept the ipsissima verba of either of these Amendments will, nevertheless, feel that their spirit can be accepted and at the Report stage some sort of Amendment of this kind will be agreed to.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
Perhaps it would be for the convenience of the Committee if I said that I think there may be two or three occasions during the Committee stage of this Bill when it may be desirable from all points of view for debates to take place on several Amendments at one time. I have in mind particularly Clause 5 and Clause 11. I am sure there is no objection to this, provided, of course, that I call only one Amendment at a time and that sooner or later I call all the Amendments, though possibly by that stage there will be no need to have a debate upon them.
I was interested in listening to the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, and I am not quite sure what the effect of his Amendment would be if it were passed into law. Would it be an addition to the general law of charity or would it form a definition? I can give him the case of a kind of charity that is now not so common as it used to be and which will illustrate very well the point at which I am driving. We will say that a Scotsman has been abroad and made a considerable fortune, and that during that time his life was saved by a gentleman of the name of Watt, who lost his life in doing so. When he comes back he founds an educational trust; he mortifies (to use the old Scottish phrase) the sum 15 of £10,000, or whatever it is, to provide a bursary for three years at a Scottish university for any promising boy of the name of Watt belonging to the village of New Leeds. It seems to me that that which has always hitherto been held to be a charity would be entirely barred by the wording of the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Chorley. I think that that would be an alteration in the general law which would be a pity.
With regard to the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, I should very much like to know the legal meaning of the words, "identified by the tie of blood relationship", because I believe that most of us, if we go back a number of generations, will find that we have ties of blood relationship. I think it would be very difficult to define that phrase, unless it has already got a legal definition, and in that case I think we ought to know it.
May I say one word upon this Amendment? I think we all owe a debt of gratitude to the noble Lords, Lord Silkin and Lord Chorley, for raising the point, but I venture to hope that the Government will not find it possible at this stage to accept either Amendment. It seems to me that there is great difficulty, as the Nathan Report recognises, in framing an entirely satisfactory definition. As the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, has said, one gets very near to a good deal that is in the Report in his proposed Amendment. But contrast that with what is said in paragraph 173 of the Report of the Royal Commission on the Taxation of Profits and Income, where Lord Radcliffe and his colleagues state:We conclude from this that there would be no insuperable difficulty in producing a satisfactory definition of charity for tax purposes that would at any rate correspond more closely than the present with accepted ideas of what charity is. It would be on these lines:— 'the relief of poverty, the prevention or relief of distress, the advancement of education, learning and research, the advancement of religion'. This would be an enlargement of the three classes specifically included in the present working rule, but it would omit the fourth indeterminate class.Personally, I should regret it if we adopted a definition which completely excluded the class. What I should like to see done is this: the Amendments should not be accepted at the present time, but the matter should be considered 16 before Report stage; or, preferably, that we do not rush this matter but have a special Committee of people fully experienced in these subjects to draft, if necessary, by a short supplementary Bill a workable definition of "charity". If that were done a definition of "charity" might be found for perpetuity, other than one which is required for Revenue purposes. But I do not feel that we should adopt either of these Amendments at this stage without careful consideration.
§ LORD DOWDING
May I intervene very briefly on this subject? I think, although my opinion is not of any particular value, that although it may be so difficult as to be almost impossible to find a complete definition of what is or what is not a charity, nevertheless, Her Majesty's Government might lay down some general principles for the guidance of judges who have to give rulings on these matters. I rose to speak to-day particularly in the interests of various societies which are concerned with animal welfare, whose position is rather nebulous at the present time. When reading Lord Chorley's Amendment, I felt that I should like to support that personally, with a single exception. In the last two lines on page 4 it reads:… the conservation of nature and natural resources and the improvement of plants and domestic animals;If Lord Chorley's Amendment were passed to-day I should like, during the Report stage, to propose another, minor Amendment, to leave out the word "domestic"; because it seems to me that an organisation which concerns itself with plants should not ignore the welfare of animals which cannot be classed as domestic. For instance, deer, birds, whales, seals, and various animals of a like nature, are not included under the definition of "domestic", but nevertheless deserve the attention of any organisation which purports to include among its purposes the improvement of plants and domestic animals.
I hope that Her Majesty's Government will firmly reject these Amendments. If I had to run a charity, I would far sooner rely on the courts to decide whether or not my purpose was charitable—and my purpose in going to the court would be as to whether or not I got relief from taxation—than rely on wordings of this sort, 17 because it seems to me impossible to produce wordings which will be suitable for every purpose. For instance, in the Amendment put down by the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, No. 17, I believe that, under his last phrase, a rural bus company would become a charity, and, under the first one, one of the most famous charities in the world, the Red-Headed League, would not be one.
§ 3.23 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I echo what my noble and learned friend Lord Cohen has said as to the gratitude which we ought to feel to the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, for putting down this Amendment, for the research which he has done, and for the learning which he has displayed in propounding it to us. I agree with my noble and learned friend Lord Cohen that this task is too difficult for us, and I should like to give some very practical reasons. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, commences his Amendment with the words, "For the purposes of this Act", and he of course does so, from old experience in the House of Commons, to bring it within the Long Title.
But, even if we do not worry about that, it shows the first difficulty: that if we were to have an Amendment which was limited to the purposes of this Act, it would create grave difficulty; because I think your Lordships would agree that what we could not have is one meaning of "charity" for this Bill and another for the Finance Act, and one law of cy près from the charities within the Bill and another for charities which were not within the Bill. That exposes, I think, the first difficulty, which is: is this Bill the sort of Bill where we ought to attempt such a definition? Again, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, will acquit me of making a debating or a technical point. I am not; and I think he will agree that I never do in the arguments we have in this position. I am merely mentioning it to show the difficulty of bringing it within this Bill.
I think that it must be our fundamental policy not to alter the corpus of Case Law as to what at present constitutes the field of charity. This is the point that I put to the noble Lord, Lord Silkin—I also put it to the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, but I do not think it has any validity with him—that it is impos- 18 sible to devise a statutory definition without altering the law. The noble Lord, Lord Chorley, wants to alter the law, and I will deal with his points in a moment. Now if that is so, if one cannot devise a definition without altering the law, it will mean, in the first place, that many deserving organisations at present enjoying the fiscal and other privileges of charity would be excluded and would find themselves in grave financial difficulties, quite apart from the claim of other parties to property held upon trusts that would be void. On the other hand, other organisations not hitherto treated as charities would be admitted; and since the process is, I think my noble and learned friend Lord Cohen would agree, to extend by analogy, and then by analogy upon analogy, it is quite uncertain where this matter would stop. I do not like to carry out a piece of applied psychology in public, but I should think that the same course of thought occurred to the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, and his Committee in coming to their ultimate conclusion.
Reference was also made to the Report of the Royal Commission on Taxation. There, one is immediately brought up against the point that, as the noble Lord, Lord Cohen, indicated by his quotation, the effect of that definition (I am speaking in broad terms) would be to exclude Lord Macnaghten's fourth category. That, if I may put it rather colloquially, is the category which vitally interests the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, because he wants to extend it in various directions. Therefore one has the position that the Nathan Committee, if I may use the phrase we are so accustomed to now, really felt at the end of the day that this was not a desirable accretion to carrying out the urgent tasks which this Bill does, and that the Royal Commission on Taxation wanted the definition of "charity" restricted.
Now I just want to show the difficulties. I am not saying that they could not be at any rate decreased at the end of the day. If one takes Lord Silkin's proposed clause, one finds that it refers in paragraph (c) to "the relief of poverty"—and that, of course, is one of Lord Macnaghten's categories—but it omits a reference to the relief of sickness and of the aged. Once you have brought in poverty it would, at any rate, become 19 arguable whether you did not exclude other forms of distress. With regard to sub-paragraph (ii), the noble Lord has made a most gallant effort (I ask him to accept my assurance that I say this in no derisory way) to deal with the fourth category in Lord Macnaghten's categories in the Pemsel case. I say "gallant" because there was a happier time when I knew that judgment more or less by heart, because I had to argue it so often from various points of view. As I said on Second Reading, I have always found it a most difficult matter, and, with all the ingenuity which the noble Lord has shown, I think it would be difficult to see what line is drawn by paragraph (ii).
One comes then to the other proint. The noble Lord has brought in the trusts for the benefit of employees which were rejected by the House of Lords in the Oppenheim case, and trusts for the promotion of mere sport which were rejected as long ago as the Nottage case and were definitely circumvented in the Recreational Trusts Bill which I had the honour to introduce in this House a year or two ago. I should construe the words—and again I am subject to correction—"social welfare including public recreation and sport" as "social welfare which is extended to include sport and would include sport, as such." I was one of those who not only introduced, but literally spent months on the drafting of, the Recreational Trusts Bill, and the conception which we tried to achieve of social welfare and the forms of recreation (of which examples were given in the Bill) was one of the most difficult pieces of drafting I have ever had; and that was only a small part of the problem.
I should like to say a word or two on the general administration of the law. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, quite rightly, went back to the Preamble to the Statute of Elizabeth in 1601 and, without making too much of it, rather suggested that that was a curious and slightly ridiculous basis of the law of charity. He knows that that is not a definition; but the Preamble gave examples of matters that were undoubtedly charitable. The interesting thing—and I should like to assure the noble Lord that I, too, have done some research, in answer to his—is that the list which blossoms in the Preamble to the Statute 20 of Elizabeth I can be traced back to Piers Plowman, which I think I am right in saying is fourteenth century; and if the House will bear with me, just as a matter of interest I should like to read, as well as I can read Middle English, a few lines:and amend mesondioux therewith: and miseased folk helpe:and wicked ways wightly amend:and do bote to bridges that to-broke were:Marry maidens, or make them nuns:Poor people and prisoners—find them their food:And set scholars to school, or to some other crafts:Relieve (men of) religion and rent them better.I thought that your Lordships might just bear with me, because it is interesting when one can go back 600 years.
These are the examples of charity which appeared sound to the England of the fourteenth century and again at the beginning of the seventeenth century. But they are only examples, of course, and what has happened is that in the last 359 years a corpus of law has been built up which has endeavoured to cover the new problems and to adapt itself to them. One may have disagreements, such as the disagreement exposed between the Radcliffe Commission and the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, as to what should and should not come in, but broadly the matter has been done well. I do not think it is possible to reduce the work of 359 years into a clause, at any rate without a great deal of labour which would have to be done by experts of all sorts, and then it would have to be submitted to the draftsmen and eventually to Parliament.
I do not want the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, to think that I have not considered his Amendment. Broadly the noble Lord, with courage of a different sort—because I think the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, was for his purpose seeking to express in brief terms the law as it exists—has in his Amendment sought to reverse a number of the leading decisions. Paragraph (a) reverses the decision in Oppenheim; the proviso to sub-paragraph (iii) reverses many decisions which have rejected charitable purposes because the public benefit was too indirect; and paragraph (b), although I have spent a lot of time trying to understand it, so far as I can see 21 would state a rule in regard to imperfect trusts. I am very much afraid that the effect of it would be that if you had trusts for religious education or relief of the poor or other charitable or benevolent purposes, because you had four good ones and one bad one, then, with the noble Lord's Amendment, it would be a good charitable bequest and the money could all be applied to a non-charitable purpose. I do not think that would take the matter very far. I am not going to go through it, but if I take his definition of "public benefit" thenany purpose tending to improve human conditions of life and to advance civilisation anywhere in the worldwould be in conflict with a number of decisions which I need not go into, and it would really provide a rule which was so vague as not to be workable.
I want to say just one more word about the question the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, has raised with regard to the agencies of Government, because I think that is an important matter. I must say that, speaking as an old Law Officer of the Crown who conducted many cases for the Inland Revenue, I shall convey to the Inland Revenue with great pleasure Lord Chorley's view that they are more charitable, in another sense of the word, than the Charity Commissioners, and take a more lenient view. But as the noble Lord knows, there always has been a double duty on the Law Officers which I think is very valuable—at least I find it so. One is, of course, that they are briefed to argue the cases for the Inland Revenue, but the other is that the Attorney General, in his parens patria jurisdiction, argues for the extension and justification of charitable purposes. If your Lordships will allow me to digress for a moment, it used to be a favourite custom of the late Lord Greene, when he was Master of the Rolls, if I was arguing a case for the Inland Revenue, to find some argument of a predecessor in the parens patria jurisdiction in order to try to show me the faults of the present argument addressed to the Court, and vice versa. That is important, because it shows that the Government have always recognised that there are these two views.
The second point, I think, is more important. This Bill, by Clause 9 and by its general tenor, will mean that the Charity Commissioners and the Inland 22 Revenue will get together and try to find a sensible view to take of the claim that something is a charity. Of course, as the noble Lord knows, if the view of the Commissioners is ultimately disagreed with there is an appeal. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, has set us a task which we ought to bear in mind. I promise him that I will, and that I will look again not only at the problem, but at the methods of solving it. I feel, however, that what he wants could not be done, on the present state of our knowledge, without introducing complete uncertainty into the administration of existing charities. Therefore, while genuinely asking him to accept our gratitude for raising the problem, I would ask him not to press it for a solution in this Bill.
§ LORD SILKIN
I am exceedingly grateful to the noble and learned Viscount—and I hope he will accept that from me—for the way in which he has dealt with this matter. He has shown that he has given it careful consideration. I was looking at this question largely from the point of view of a donor who wanted to be quite certain that his intention would be accepted as charitable, if that really was his intention, and remembering the difficulties with which so many donors are faced to-day in creating a trust and in finding, at the end of the day, that what they generally desired to be a trust turns out, because of some vagary of the law, not to be a charitable trust. I was hoping that, by some kind of definition, we should be able to give to such donors a guide, in the same way as the Act of 1601 was a guide. I did not intend it to be more than that—merely a guide as to what was charitable.
Nor did I intend that the body of Case Law which has been built up should be completely disregarded. It is silly to say that one would rather rely on the courts than on a definition. That is a completely wrong antithesis. In any case, the question must go to the court if there is any doubt. I certainly had in mind—and I thought that was the position—that the existing Case Law would remain as the law, and that this would be merely something additional, giving a guide, particularly to persons about to create a trust. However, I should like an opportunity of studying what the noble and learned Viscount has said. I should not like to give up 23 the pursuit. I did not think that the noble and learned Viscount completely closed the door, and I do not think that the fact that it is not appropriate to this Bill is conclusive. I have seen so many inappropriate clauses put into Bills merely because it was convenient to have them included in legislation somewhere, that I do not think a definition of "charity" in a Bill which deals with charity would be all that inappropriate. In the belief that the door is not entirely closed, I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ LORD CHORLEY
Before the question is put, perhaps I might add a word at this stage, and then I need not move my Amendment when the time comes—I hope that will save time. I wish only to say that neither did I want to have the Case Law swept on one side. It is true, as the noble and learned Viscount said, that I should like some of these too narrowing decisions changed. I would point out that what I should have done, if the noble and learned Viscount had acceded to the Amendment, was to provide thatthe following purposes shall from the coming into force of this Act be charitable.That does not mean that what has been held charitable under the decisions in the past would not continue to be so, except in so far as they conflict with this provision. But I do not think they would. This is, so to speak, an enabling clause which would enable the courts to take a rather wider view than they have felt themselves able to take in a number of these cases in the past, as a result of the earlier decisions which they had to follow, as English courts do. It may be that this Amendment goes too far. The noble and learned Viscount has pointed out one or two aspects about which I think he is right, but we should be glad to have it narrowed in order to get a really workable clause. I should like to make that perfectly clear before we leave this matter.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 1 [The Charity Commissioners]:
§ 3.49 p.m.
LORD NATHAN moved to add to the clause:
() The Secretary of State shall, after consultation with the Minister of Education, appoint as early as practicable after the passing
of this Act a Council (to be called the Charities Advisory Council) for the purpose of advising the Secretary of State, the Minister of Education, and the Commissioners on matters submitted to the Council by them or any of them and of making submissions on their own initiative to the Secretary of State, the Minister of Education, or the Commissioners, as the case may be. The Council shall consist of not less than eight or more than twenty members, including a Chairman to be nominated by the Secretary of State, and shall be persons of standing and experience in public affairs, with special regard to voluntary service, the administration of charities, social welfare, and education.
The noble Lord said: The Amendment which has just been discussed is one dealing with a point of law—and a most technically intricate point of law at that. The Amendment which I submit for the consideration of your Lordships deals with administration of the law, what ever old it may ultimately be determined to be.
§ It was at one time within the contemplation of the Committee over which I presided that the body of Charity Commissioners should be along the lines of the governing body of the British Broadcasting Corporation. In their White Paper, however, Her Majesty's Government made it clear that any such suggestion would be unacceptable. They preferred that the Charity Commission should remain a small body of civil servants; that, whereas in the past all except the Parliamentary Commissioner (who now disappears) had been lawyers, now not more than two of the three need be a lawyer, or, more accurately, one need not be, though all will be members of the Civil Service.
§ Nobody has a greater regard than I have, both from observation and experience, for the work of the Civil Service. I have always been one of those who have upheld the reputation of the Civil Service as maintaining a high standard of public duty and a desire to do the best that can be done for the public within the limits of the law which was being administered. Of none do I feel that more than in such experience—which is not small—as I have had with the Charity Commission. Of course, they are a small body of civil servants whose task is to administer the law as they see it; and that task is not merely administrative but is also, in a sense, judicial, or at least semi-judicial. They are bound, perhaps, by precedent; their experience is limited to that which has come before 25 them, and it may be that they tend in the course of time to adopt in the administration of their task an attitude which may appear somewhat inflexible.
§ By long historical tradition, from the days when charity came within the jurisdiction of the Ecclesiastical Court, the view extended towards charities has always been of a peculiarly liberal character. The courts have looked with a kindly eye upon charity, and the bias has been, as I think it should be, towards extending, rather than limiting, the range of charity. As that bias becomes wider and wider it may well be that a small body of men dealing with the day-to-day administration may, inadvertently perhaps, keep that range narrower and narrower. I believe that it is to the public good that the range of charity, within certain limits of course, should gradually be extended. Indeed, I believe that it must be extended in order to meet the changing needs, the changing circumstances, economic and social, of the changing times in which we live. I should like to furnish to the Charity Commission, in the Advisory Council, a body of men and women experienced in social welfare (I do not use the term in a technical sense), in voluntary service and in the administration of charities, so that, as new needs arise and new charitable purposes are brought into being, the Charity Commission may have an opportunity of consulting with a body of men who deal with these matters in the wider aspects of voluntary service and who, by reason of their voluntary service, may have gained experience of the trends of charity and the trends of social thought beyond what would normally come within the range of the knowledge and experience of those who compose the Charity Commission itself.
§ I believe, too, that it would be an advantage for the Secretary of State, for the Minister of Education and for the Charity Commission themselves were they able to refer for guidance, for advice, for comment, to such an advisory body the problems with which they may from time to time find themselves confronted in this new field, which in the nature of things is always bound to be a field of empiricism. It may be well that they should have someone to whom to refer matters for opinion. I think it might be a source of strength to the 26 Secretary of State, the Minister and the Commission if such a body were available to make submissions upon the changing trends of social life and thought, so that in the administration of their task the Charity Commission, as well as the Minister of Education, and, above ail, the Secretary of State, might find themselves with an informed body of opinion ready to hand at their disposal drawn from men and women who, as part of their daily lives, were engaged in voluntary service and perhaps have acquired knowledge and experience enabling them to be helpful to those with whom the administration of this important task would lie. I beg to move.
Page 2, line 10, at end insert the said subsection.—(Lord Nathan.)
§ LORD CHORLEY
Perhaps I might say a word in support of this proposal. As your Lordships are no doubt aware, I, liking the original proposal of the Nathan Commission more than the proposals made in the Bill, had put down Amendments to the First Schedule. The First Schedule is the place in the Bill in which the organisation, so to speak, of the Charity Commission is dealt with, and my Amendment is really intended to restore the proposal of the Nathan Commission. It provides that there shall be not less than five and not more than nine Commissioners, and there should be a certain spread, so that, for example, Wales would be represented, and other points of that kind, which I hope your Lordships will think are useful almost on the basis that the Nathan proposal is the right one and should be accepted.
But Lord Nathan himself has made a proposal which seems to provide a sort of compromise which would, I think, go a considerable distance, if the Government could accept it, towards obtaining this rather less legalistic attitude with regard to the administration of the Bill than that which has been apparent, in the Charity Commission for quite a long time, as I indicated in the speech which I made a few minutes ago. It is very natural, if you get two Charity Commissioners who are lawyers and who are in effect civil servants working together in a legal department, that these matters will be regarded from the strictly legal point of view. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, is undoubtedly right when he suggests that 27 the rather wider experience of men who have been engaged in public work, particularly public work with a social slant to it, and more than anything in work which has a definitely charitable side to it would be valuable. We all know the great work which Lord Nathan himself is doing as Chairman of one of the most recently established and already significant trusts which have already made a contribution to some of the public activities in this country, which I am sure are going to produce tremendous fruits. Men of this kind giving advice to the Charity Commissioners could do most valuable work, widening and developing the extent of charity. It seems to me that this is a method by which a compromise could be arrived at and by which much of the value proposed in the original Nathan Report could be achieved, and yet the objective of the Government could at the same time be safeguarded.
I think that the most charitable people in Britain, far and away, are the Jews. After them come (it may be national prejudice) I think the Scots, but I am perfectly certain that the people of England do not fall far behind. My experience of charity in Scotland is that at the working end of charity one finds a very large number of people who are intensely sensitive to the growing and differing needs of charities in this country. They are always looking for needs that should be filled, and examining their own funds to see whether they can fill those needs. If you look at the history of any of our great national charities you will see that they were always started, not at the centre, by a central committee, but at the bottom—at the working end. The National Lifeboat Institute, the Boy Scouts, the Boys' Brigade and nearly all the others were started in this way, and not by a beneficent and wise committee at the top. Therefore it seems to me that this Council proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, is merely going to be a fifth wheel on the coach. I suppose I might quote Parkinson's Law. I do not think it will be of any great assistance to the development of charity, or fill the new needs.
§ 4.1 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord 28 Nathan, for putting down this Amendment and for going into some detail as to the sort of council which he would like to see. As I said, I think in the reply on Second Reading, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has not made up his mind on this subject and the door is certainly not closed. The position is that one does not need statutory powers to have the committee. My right honourable friend views it in this way: that he would like to hear the various views expressed during the debate and then come to a conclusion upon it; and he would like—I hope your Lordships will think that this is natural—to be free as to the composition and the terms of reference of the committee. But I must say that I was most impressed by the argument which the noble Lord put up to-day because, as he may remember, I had a rather similar point with regard to the Council of Tribunals which was one of the recommendations of the Franks Committee. We had a most interesting debate in this House on what I may call the two-way traffic which the noble Lords suggests—that is, that problems might come from the Commissioners to the committee, but the committee should have the right to put up their own ideas. I think that that is a most valuable and, if I may use the word, exciting idea, because it keeps the thing alive and prevents the danger of soporific developments which we all fear. Therefore I hope that the noble Lord will not press his Amendment to-day, because I shall certainly ask Mr. Butler to read the debate and to consider the matter again, and I will discuss it with him myself, because I think that everyone who heard it would agree that the noble Lord made an impressive case for his suggestion.
The noble Lord, Lord Chorley, was kind enough to remind us that he had down a series of Amendments—I think they are Nos. 77 to 81—which exemplified the original idea in the Nathan Committee Report which, unfortunately, we were not able to accept. I would say just this to the noble Lord, Lord Chorley: that on the present construction of the Bill, assuming that everything up to Amendment No. 77 is accepted as being the structure of the Bill, it would be rather difficult then to have the kind of set-up for the Commissioners for which he argued, because the conception 29 of the Commissioners, and in the Parts of the Bill which precede the Schedules, is that, apart from the fact that they are a public department, their work is quasi-judicial and subject to appeal to the court. I put it to the noble Lord—it is for him, when we come to that point, to decide whether he wants to return to the subject—that the Bill having been drawn in that way, it is difficult to conceive of the work which has been entrusted to the Commissioners under the Bill being done by part-time Commissioners without training and experience in the law of charity and in public administration. I think it would be necessary under this structure to give the trustees of the charities the help and assistance which they want, and then leave it to them to deal with the policy.
The noble Lord, Lord Nathan, was really conceiving a committee which would be a policy engine. There is obviously much to be said for that, but, after great consideration, we were unable to accept it. Therefore, I should ask the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, the Bill being drafted in this way and this other type of machine being part of the Bill, whether he feels he ought to press the matter. That is entirely for him when we come to that part of the Bill.
§ LORD CHORLEY
In reply to the noble and learned Viscount, I would just say that he has been receptive to Lord Nathan's proposal and it seems that there is a good chance of its being carried. If it were, I think it would be a better way of handling this matter than the Amendment which I have down. When the time comes I shall not move my Amendment.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
Well, I cannot say more, but I want to say that I personally have been impressed by the argument that Lord Nathan has propounded to-day, and I shall tell Mr. Butler so—or perhaps he may read it when he comes to read the account of to-day's debate. Therefore I do not think the noble Lord need press it at the moment. But I will do this. If I am wrong—if there is any question of Mr. Butler shutting the door: I cannot think that there will he—I shall communicate at once with the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, so that he may take what steps he likes.
§ LORD NATHAN
I am greatly indebted to the Lord Chancellor for the sympathetic way in which he has spoken on this Amendment. I may say to the noble and learned Viscount that I did not put it down in the expectation or even the hope, that it would be accepted upon this occasion, because I was conscious of what he said on Second Reading. But it seemed to me that it would be well to have the matter ventilated and on the Record of the House for the assistance of the Lord Chancellor in discussing the matter with the Home Secretary, who I hope may be inclined to look upon the suggestion with a favourable eye. In that hope, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ On Question, Whether Clause 1 shall stand part of the Bill?
§ 4.10 p.m.
§ LORD SILKIN
This clause for the first time brings the Home Secretary into the picture of the charities. I see from subsection (5) that the Commissions have to make annually to the Home Secretary a report which he places before each House of Parliament. I presume that it will then be open to each House to con sider and discuss the Report, and I imagine that the Home Secretary will be ready to answer questions on it in another place. I should like to ask the noble and learned Viscount whether the Home Secretary would be the person to answer questions on the day-to-day administration of charities; and if not, who would be? The Home Secretary becomes the Minister responsible for charities, and it would seem, in the ordinary way, that he is the right person to answer questions. I should like to know who will be the person responsible for answering questions on the day-to-day activities of charities.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
The noble Lord has put a real poser to me because, as he knows, it is a subject which has always been a matter of controversy and discussion. He will remember the debates we had on the nationalisation proposals when both sides of the House were anxious that, speaking broadly, there should not be questions on the day-to-day working of the various Corporations set up. Since then there has been a general tendency to want a wider sphere 31 than Parliamentary questions. Frankly, I have not considered this point, though I ought to have done so. The power of direction is taken out, and I am asking your Lordships to accept Amendments which will restrict the powers of the Secretary of State; so perhaps I could look more closely into that point. I do not want to say anything that would prejudice the position. I should really like to consider the point and perhaps the noble Lord would raise it again on the Report stage.
§ LORD SILKIN
If I have a chance I will certainly do so, but I would just amplify what I said by saying that I believe there is a person appointed by the right honourable gentleman the Prime Minister as a Charity Trustee—
§ LORD SILKIN
Yes. I am not asking the noble and learned Viscount to give me an answer to this point now, but is he not the person who hitherto has been prepared to answer questions on the day-to-day workings of charities; and if he is, would not the Home Secretary take his place? Perhaps the noble and learned Viscount will put that point to his right honourable friend the Home Secretary.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I will do so. As I understand it, the Home Secretary would certainly answer questions which would have been answered by the Parliamentary Charity Commissioner, but I should like to check that point. The aspect on which I am rather doubtful is day-to-day administration, because such questions as whether it would be desirable to have a debate in Parliament on whether or not somebody should have appealed in a certain case, or whether an appeal should have been resisted, are matters that I should like to think about. Perhaps the noble Lord will not hold me to that, but I will write to him and give him a chance of returning to the charge on Report stage.
§ Clause 1 agreed to.
§ Clause 2 [The Minister of Education]:
THE LORD CHANCELLOR moved, in subsection (5) to omit paragraph (a). The noble and learned Viscount said: This is a paving Amendment for my Amendments to Clause 17, dealing with
the position of the Secretary of State; and in view of what has been said by the noble Lord, the Lord Chairman of Committees, it might be useful if I now indicated the scope of these Amendments. That will not prevent anyone from raising any points if he wishes to do so later. This Amendment goes with Amendments Nos. 18, 41, 43, 44 and 47. Amendment No. 18 is:
Page 6, line 44, leave out from second ("time") to ("institute") in line 45.
The power to be conferred on the Home Secretary was intended to enable the Charity Commissioners to enrol his support before embarking on an inquiry into an influential charity likely to have supporters in Parliament, and also to help the Home Secretary to satisfy Parliament when a public scandal arose over a charity. Though I will not quote any name, your Lordships may have a case in mind. It was criticised in the debate as a means of enabling political pressure to be put on a charity. That was not intended, but since the provision is suspect and no power for the Secretary of State to give other directions to the Commissioners has been inserted in the Bill, there is now no reason to retain this power. But the result can be achieved by administrative arrangements—which, of course, will be subject to criticism if they are not approved.
Perhaps I may now come to the remaining Amendments in this series. By Amendment No. 41 I am proposing to leave out part of subsection (6) of Clause 17—namely:
(6) Where it appears to the Secretary of State that there are special reasons for him to move the Commissioners to make a scheme as respects any charity, not being an exempt charity, he may refer the case to them, and they may proceed on any such reference …
Instead, I am asking that your Lordships should insert:
in the case of a charity, other than an exempt charity, the Commissioners are satisfied that the charity trustees ought in the interests of the charity to apply for a scheme, but have unreasonably refused or neglected to do so, the Commissioners may apply to the Secretary of State for him to refer the case to them with a view to a scheme, and if, after giving the charity trustees an opportunity to make representations to him, the Secretary of State does so, the Commissioners may proceed accordingly
That does not proceed quite on the same lines as my noble friend Lord Saltoun suggests, but it is coming near to his
suggestion, in that it starts with the Commissioners being satisfied and then, if the Commisioners feel that the trustees have unreasonably refused or neglected to apply, they may go to the Secretary of State and he may refer the case to them. I feel that that is really taking up the spirit of the idea of the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun. The next Amendment that I shall propose at page 17, line 22, to leave out "or by the Secretary of State" is really consequential upon the first. The Amendment proposed at line 40 is a different point. The Chancery Judges have represented to me that it would be better that this matter should go to a Judge of the Chancery Division and not to a Judge nominated by me; and I willingly accept that.
Then there is the Amendment at page 18, line 3, to insert as a new subsection:
() In the application of this section to the Minister of Education, subsection (6) shall have effect so as to authorise him to proceed with a view to a scheme in the circumstances in which it authorises the Commissioners to apply to the Secretary of State for him to refer a case to them.
If I may just summarise to your Lordships the effect of this Amendment, this is the point to which I announced I would give consideration after the Second Reading, to make it clear that it was limited to cases where trustees default in their duty to apply for a scheme. The new subsection limits the power of the Home Secretary to the case where the Commissioners are satisfied that the trustees ought to apply for a scheme in the interests of the charity but have unreasonably refused or neglected to do so. The Committee will remember that the duty to apply for a cy-près scheme is stated in Clause 13 (4) but there may be other cases where a scheme is obviously necessary, where a testator of the last century has placed undue limitations. Where the Commissioners are satisfied they may apply to the Home Secretary, and if he, after giving the charity trustees an opportunity to make representations to him, refers the case to them for a scheme they may proceed accordingly.
§ My noble friend Lord Saltoun will therefore see that the charity trustees not only have the right to communicate to the Commissioners but have the right to make representations to the Home Secretary; and he may refer the case to 34 them for a scheme, and they will proceed accordingly. That, I think, meets the case where the trustees have refused to answer letters—there must be some means of bringing the matter to a head—and the case where trustees honestly but misguidedly cling to some outmoded method which is detrimental to the charity. I ought to point out that there is, of course, an appeal to the court when the scheme has been made as against any other scheme; that is another safeguard. I think that the Committee will see that this has the merit of confining the initiative to the Commissioners, and to cases where they are satisfied the trustees are in default and the interests of the charity are suffering.
§ The second Amendment, in subsection (9), page 17, line 12, is consequential. The third meets the views of the Chancery judges, and on a procedural matter the Government are glad to be advised and to accept the advice. The fourth Amendment deals with the conferment of the powers of the Home Secretary in subsection (6) to the Minister of Education. I hope that the Committee understand the whole series of Amendments which I have endeavoured to explain, for it is on that basis that I have done so. And I now beg to move the paving Amendment, Amendment 3.
Page 3, leave out lines 18 to 20.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ On Question, Whether Clause 2, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?
I thought this was the more appropriate method of raising a point which has been made to me by the National Association of Parish Councils, rather than by putting down a specific Amendment. Many people consider that it is time for a review of the functions of the Charity Commissioners and the Minister of Education. The boundaries of their respective domains are very extraordinary, and to the simple village trustee quite inexplicable. A charity may fall as to some of its objects under the Minister and as to some others under the Commissioners. This situation occurs rather more often than can be imagined at first sight. For instance, a donor having the idea of the relief of helplessness, may leave money to the parish to help poor apprentices 35 and also to help aged persons. Under an old inclosure award, land may have been provided to compensate the poor for their recreational and terminary rights in the manner common. The trustees would find they had to deal with the Commissioners about the old people and fuel allotments, and with the Minister about apprentices and village greens. These examples are not fanciful or rare. There are several thousand inclosure awards, the majority of which provide for fuel or recreation, or both, while parochial charities with multiple purposes are prevalent. In a typical district 20 out of 179 were found to have multiple purpose.
Then there is the other point. Even where the charity has a certain object it may be difficult to discover which scheme-making authority should act in the matter. No one, by the light of nature could be expected to know that "recreational elements", which the Committee and I know are the village green, are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry; and it is understood that since the passing of the Recreational Charities Act, 1958, disputes have arisen between the Ministry and the Commissioners about their respective rights over certain village hall charities. And even if disagreements are settled by Order in Council, there is no guarantee that others will not arise in the future. In any case, when Ministers speak from the Dispatch Box for Her Majesty's Government, surely one ought not to put on simple village trustees the onus of taking what the Minister or the Charity Commissioners decide are the reasonable steps to make their approaches through the right channels.
Both the Minister and the Charity Commissioners will naturally think that reasonable steps are ones to approach themselves, and this obligation of taking reasonable steps to ensure that the right authority is approached may mean taking legal action which the small charities cannot afford. In any case, it is stupid to spend charitable funds on lawyers' fees. I ask that Her Majesty's Government should look into the question with a view to re-drawing the boundary between the Charity Commissioners and the Minister of Education, preferably in favour of the Charity Commissioners, and to make that boundary 36 easier to comprehend. After all, surely the Minister of Education has enough "on his plate" at the moment. I would also ask that there should be set up some sort of liaison committee between the two bodies to adjudicate in doubtful cases. I imagine that perhaps the committee which Lord Nathan had in mind would possibly do that, though it might be rather too high level a committee for that purpose. Thirdly, I would ask that there should be arrangements for a transfer between the two authorities, so that when the wrong one is approached the papers get to the right one quickly and smoothly. Fourthly, I think there should be removed from the Bill any words which seem to put on the trustees the onus of finding out what are the right channels in what is often a very devious course.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I am sorry, but, so far as I understand this clause, the noble Lord and those who are instructing him are really fighting shadows. However, I think the easiest course would be if I were to say what I understand by the clause, and then, if the noble Lord still has any difficulty I should be grateful if we could discuss it. The duality arises from the fact that, in relation to education, the powers under the Charitable Trusts Acts are allied with the powers under the Endowed Schools Acts, with which this Bill is not really concerned; and, accordingly, since 1900 the Ministry of Education has been responsible for exercising the functions of the Charity Commissioners in relation to educational charities. Under the Education (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1948, the Minister's jurisdiction was extended to certain related classes of charity.
The present Bill was drafted with this in mind; and, in order to get rid of the legal difficulties inherent in two mutually exclusive jurisdictions, it is now provided that both the Departments should have legal power to act over the whole field of charity, so that no act of either Department will be capable of being impugned on the ground that it should have been done by the other. There will therefore be no trouble for my noble friend's clients, if I may put it that way, who go to the wrong authority and get action taken: the action cannot be impugned. But, equally, an application made to the 37 one will not be invalid because it ought to have been made to the other. If my noble friend will look at subsection (2) of Clause 2, he will see that the broad division of responsibility intended is indicated in the second limb of subsection (2). But, as he had in mind, this division may be clarified or overriden by an Order in Council made under the opening words of the subsection.
What I want to make clear to my noble friend is that the clause supersedes Section 1 of the Education (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1948, and also the Orders in Council wholly repealed under Part 1 (c) of the Seventh Schedule. So I do not really think that this difficulty arises, but if there is some aspect which has escaped my researches I shall be pleased to see my noble friend about it.
§ On Question, Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 3 agreed to.
§ Clause 4:
§ Register of charities
- (3) Any institution which no longer appears to the Commissioners to be a charity shall be removed from the register, with effect, where the removal is due to any change in its purposes or trusts, from the date of that change; and there shall also be removed from the register any charity which ceases to exist or does not operate.
- (4) The following charities are not required to be registered, that is to say,—
- (b) any charity which is excepted by order or regulations;
- (c) 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;
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
Again would it be convenient—I am simply asking—for my noble friend to take Amendments Nos. 12, 14 and 16 with Amendment No. 4?
§ 4.44 p.m.
§ LORD SPENS moved, in subsection (3) to omit "no longer appears to the Commissioners" and to insert, "is declared by the court not". The noble Lord said: I was going to ask permis 38 sion to do as the Lord Chancellor suggests, because all these Amendments go to exactly the same main point—namely, questioning whether it is wise or desirable to give to the Commissioners (and, of course, the Minister of Education in his own sphere) the wide powers of making what are really judicial decisions, as to whether an institution is or is not a legal charity, and accordingly, whether it should or should not be entered or removed from the register.
§ Now in subsection (3) of Clause 4, the subject of the Amendment which I am moving at the moment, the Commissioners are given power to remove from the register any institution which appears to them no longer to be a charity—and that, too, with apparently unlimited retrospective effect to a date of some change in its object or trusts which the Commissioners think made it cease to be a legal charity at some time in the past. In subsection (2) of Clause 5 the Commissioners are given powers to decide applications, made by parties who may be affected by the registration of an institution, to refuse to register an institution and to remove from the register an institution on the ground that it is not a legal charity; and among the parties affected who could make use of those powers are the Commissioners of Inland Revenue. Finally, in subsection (5) of Clause 5, notwithstanding a decision of a court that an institution is a legal charity, the Commissioners may start afresh and reconsider the matter, first, if they think there is some change of circumstances, or, secondly, if they think the decision of the Court as regards the particular charity is inconsistent with some judicial decision.
§ Now all these matters are matters of law, and of very difficult law; and, as your Lordships will realise, while a charity is on the register it is entitled to all the fiscal privileges which we know mean so much to a charity. It is a serious matter indeed if a charity can be refused to be put on the register, or can be turned off the register, without a very full and careful consideration. It is quite true that in Clause 5 there is an appeal allowed from a decision of the Commissioners, and that appeal can be taken either by the Attorney-General or by the trustees—or, if an application to remove or refuse to register a charity has not 39 succeeded, it can be taken by the objector—to the Court.
§ I question with great anxiety whether it is really wise to give the Charity Commissioners these very important semi-judicial powers, and whether it would not be far better to leave them as administrators—as to which, of course, they have very large functions, both to accept registration of recognised charities and to deal with schemes and matters of that sort—and to leave to the Courts the really important decisions, from time to time, as to whether or not a charity is a legal charity. It is going to be a very curious situation, because once a charity has been admitted on to the register by the Commissioners it is conclusively and for all purposes while it remains on the register a legal charity; and it will be curious if, in cases coming before the Courts, counsel are able to point to the decisions of the Commissioners as to what is or is not a legal charity. It seems to me that it is proposed to put far more legal powers into the hands of the Commissioners than I think personally is either wise or desirable. I beg to move.
Page 4, line 35, leave out from ("which") to ("to") in line 36 and insert ("is declared by the court not").—(Lord Spens.)
§ LORD SILKIN
This, at first sight, strikes me as being a wholly unreasonable Amendment. It is putting either the trustees or the Commissioners to considerable expense in going to court when the case may be a perfectly obvious one. It is not every case which is likely to be a disputed case, or is likely to create substantial difficulties. I imagine that in cases where the Commissioners desire to initiate a striking off the register, they would have a pretty clear case. After all, they are not ignorant people. According to the Schedule, two out of the three Commissioners have to be lawyers, and it seems to me inconceivable that they would act irresponsibly or in an ignorant way. But if they do act in a manner which is the subject of complaint by one of the parties, there is the appeal to the courts. It seems to me that that is much more satisfactory than forcing people to go to the courts on matters which may give rise to no difficulty whatever, and may be matters with which the Commissioners could deal quite easily and simply. So 40 unless there is a much stronger case than the one which the noble Lord has made, in my view, the clause is better left alone.
§ VISCOUNT SIMONDS
I wonder whether the noble Lord could help me. He said that this is a very simple matter. I find it a most troublesome one.
§ LORD SILKIN
I did not say that it was a simple matter. I said that a great many of the matters which would fall to be decided by the Commissioners, as to whether they should strike a charity off or put it on the register, would be simple.
§ VISCOUNT SIMONDS
I am sorry to have misunderstood the noble Lord. But I should still like to know what sort of case is in mind. This clause speaks of:Any institution which no longer appears to the Commissioners to be a charity. …It has been put on to the register as a charity. How does a charity cease to be a charity? I thought that, once a charity, always a charity, although its objects may disappear and the cy-pres scheme has to be adopted. I am asking only for information as to what this is directed to. As the noble and learned Viscount in charge of the Bill knows, I object to this register altogether and think it is wholly superfluous, but this is a point upon which I would ask for enlightenment.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I will certainly do my best to deal with the point which my noble and learned friend Lord Simonds has raised. I should like your Lordships to consider these Amendments en bloc, because I find it difficult to see the advantage which this set of Amendments will give. If we take the first one, my noble and learned friend would leave out the words:no longer appears to the Commissioners to be a charity",and insert the words:is declared by the court not to be a charity".I understand that this not only deals with the point where there is an appeal to the Court, and the Court, as a result of that appeal, says that the organisation is not a charity—and in that case the Commissioners must strike it off the register—but also deals with an organisation on the register ceasing to be a 41 charity in other ways, the purposes for which it is carried on having changed. There I think would arise the point which the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, has in mind: that there might be no dispute at all as to the cessor of charitable activities and the taking up of non-charitable activities. Or, indeed, the charity might be wound up. There it seems to me a waste of money and of time to go to the Court, when really there is no dispute about it and the Commissioners have merely got to take it off the register. The effect of Lord Spens's Amendments would be to multiply the litigation and the costs falling on the charity, which it is a considerable object of the register to avoid.
§ LORD SPENS
May I interrupt for one moment? I do not amend the last sentence of subsection (3); that is to say, that where a charity ceases to exist or does not operate it automatically comes off. It is where there is a real dispute as to whether it is legally still a charity or not.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
But the trouble is that my noble and learned friend's Amendment would also cover the case where there was not a dispute, because, according to the Amendment, the Commissioners could not amend the register and one would have to go to the court.
On the next Amendment, No. 12, there, after "register", my noble and learned friend would omit the words,or apply to them for it to be removed from the register",and substitute the words,and may apply to the High Court for an injunction to prohibit any such entry on the register".I do not know why my noble and learned friend wants an injunction there, because the recourse to the Court provided by the appeal is ample, and if it is entered immediately it would have the same pratical effect. I do not know whether my noble and learned friend seriously wants the injunctions to issue against the Crown and its department.
Then we come to Amendment No. 14, to insert the words:to the said Court for an order that any such entry".I should have thought that the Commissioners should have the opportunity of 42 rectifying the register before the proceedings were brought; and again I say that in the light of new facts or changed objects there may be no dispute. The appeal to the Court against a decision to remove from the register provides the same protection as apparently my noble and learned friend seeks.
Then, if one comes to the final one of the quatrain of Amendments, No. 16, on page 6, at line 15, toleave out front ('register') to the end of line 41",the substance of Lord Spens's proposal would appear to be to remove all discretion from the Commissioners as to registration in the event of an objection, however unreasonable, and refer all disputed cases straight to the Court. That would simply paralyse the register. At the present time administrative decisions have to be taken every year by the Charity Commissioners and the Inland Revenue as to whether they will treat an institution as charitable. If they are disputed, application can be made to the Court in one way or another to resolve them. The registration machinery provides a simple and cheap means of establishing status on these lines, and the reference of every disputed case to the Court would, I submit, be unworkable.
I am told that the position is that over a thousand new charities come into existence every year and probably at least a hundred more claimants over and above that thousand seek tax relief and are rejected as not being charities. One object of the registration system is to introduce certainty and to avoid needless court proceedings and costs which charities can ill afford. As I understand it, that has been the principle of the Charitable Trusts Act for 107 years, since the Act of 1853. My noble and learned friend Lord Simonds has been good enough to tell me his doubts as to registration; and I appreciate those doubts. But if one accepts the principle of registration, as one has to for the basis of this Amendment, then I suggest that Lord Spens's suggestions would simply be to wreck that by a back door. I am sure that none of your Lordships would like that.
One would consider the question whether there should be registration. But to do it in this way, which would simply make the matter expensive and take 43 away a lot of the common sense of the system of work, would not, I think, be a real help to the Bill. Therefore I would ask my noble friend not to press the Amendment today. If he has any particular anxieties about the way in which he thinks the Commissioners would do their work, I should be pleased to consider them. Obviously, a Committee stage in a Bill like this is a stage par excellence where one wants to get improvements in the Bill, but I cannot see that this would have anything but an adverse effect. I ask my noble friend not to press it, and if he has any points I shall be glad to discuss them with him.
§ VISCOUNT SIMONDS
A charity is on the register as a charity. If its objects fail, then eventually there must be a scheme made and it continues to be a charity.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I should have thought that if the charity ceases carrying on as a charity, then the first thing is that it would disappear from the register. It would then be a matter to consider whether one would make a scheme. I should like to consider this point. Every difficulty of my noble and learned friend Lord Simonds is worthy of consideration, and I should like to look at it again before the Report stage.
§ LORD SPENS
Before asking leave to withdraw my Amendment, may I say that where the cases are perfectly clear I do not think it requires express legislative power to enable a person to agree with the Commissioners that the charity should go off the register. As regards the rest, I still feel very strongly that the Commissioners have large functions in schemes and other things, and that in disputed cases the decision should go, as I think they have done all these centuries, to the courts, and not to something in the nature of an administrative tribunal. In the circumstances, I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.44
§ 4.55 p.m.
LORD SALTOUN moved, in subsection (4) (b), to leave out "any" and insert:
The Royal National Life-boat Institution, The Boys Brigade, The Boy Scouts, The Girl Guides, The Salvation Army, Dr. Barnardo's Homes, The Royal Normal Colleges, The Royal National Institute for the Blind, St. Dunstans and any other".
The noble Lord said: Before I address myself to my Amendment, I should like to thank the noble and learned Viscount for the explanation he gave on the first three Amendments, which will help me when the time comes. The names I have mentioned in my Amendment are not, of course, all the organisations which should be so considered. But they are the names of all the bodies I know which have given earnest attention to this Bill and feel that they would be injured by it, were they not excluded. For that reason, I have made it possible to insert others.
§ In addressing myself to the Amendment, I should explain, first of all, that none of these charities objects to inquiries, or at any rate to inquiries which do not entail a great deal of expense upon them and would not prove futile. We ourselves often get inquiries from the Charity Commissioners, and we have no difficulty in satisfying them. I think the greatest confidence exists between the Commissioners and ourselves; I think that is true of all those for whom I speak. We do not wish to be faced with the additional expense and administration which will be entailed by later clauses in this Bill if we are not exempted. After all, these great national charities are household names. All their particulars are published in every reputable work of reference, and it seems to me unnecessary to make this new imposition upon them. A great many of them are already registered once, some of them twice—some of them actually as charities—and they have to supply a great deal of information.
§ If there is any case for the registration of small charities, I think these bodies should be exempted. As I say, they do not regard the registration, per se, as bad. But they do object to the considerable expense to which they will be subjected if this Amendment is not carried. For example, in the charity with which I am connected (I suppose I ought to have 45 declared that interest at the beginning, because it constitutes an interest) we publish every year the percentage of our expenditure taken by our administrative costs. If that figure rises considerably—and if this Bill comes into force our expenses under that head will rise considerably—it will mean that we shall lose a good deal of confidence with our public and it will make things much more difficult. I asked the secretary of one charity what addition to staff certain later portions of this Bill would impose upon them. He suggested the number of eleven, and said that he would also have to take additional premises. Your Lordships can understand why, if one clause of this Bill entails such a great increase of expenses on these charities, these bodies want to be excluded.
May I interrupt my noble friend? This is a very alarming situation. Which clause is this?
It is the one dealing with accounts. I will explain to the noble Lord that the accounts of this charity are spread over not only England, but Scotland and the whole of Ireland. The disentangling of a year's accounts would be a laborious matter. Possibly it would mean entirely new books, and I should not like to say how I would start to set about it. But certainly it would entail new premises and a considerable increase of staff.
After all, the Welfare State in which we live to-day owes a great deal to the bodies which I have put down in my list. For 100 years the Salvation Army has been doing work among the very poorest of our population, a work which cannot be paralleled, I think, in any other country in the world. Not only that, but it is a fact of which I am extremely proud that during the whole of the war they functioned entirely unmolested and uninterfered with in Hitler's Berlin. That is a fact of which we ought all to be proud. We have great confidence in the present Secretary of State, but it is always possible in the future for a Secretary of State to alter the regulations to take these charities off the register and take away from them any exemption that may be granted. They feel that it is necessary for their protection that they should be exempted in the Bill itself, and they attach a great deal of importance to it. I have been 46 told—I do not know if it is the case—that under the powers granted to the Secretary of State in this Bill, charities which are exempted by regulation might even be nationalised almost with the stroke of the pen. I do not know if that is true: on the intimation from the noble and learned Viscount, I will abandon that argument. At any rate we feel that we should be protected by the Statute itself. I beg to move.
Page 4, line 45, leave out ("any") and insert the said new words.—(Lord Saltoun.)
§ LORD SILKIN
I should be very surprised if this Amendment were acceptable to the Committee as a whole. Nobody would wish to say one single word against the charities the noble Lord has enumerated: they are highly reputable and deserve every possible support. But to select them and put them in an Act of Parliament for special treatment as against so many others that many of us could think of seems to me unthinkable. Moreover, they do not even fall into a particular class. If we are to exempt those charities from registration ought we not to exempt all others that fall into the same group as each of these? As the clause stands, it is proposed that any charity which is excepted by order or regulation shall be exempt. I take it that in due course the order or regulation will be made; that it will be laid before Parliament (I hope it will, and I should like an assurance from the noble and learned Viscount that these orders or regulations will be laid before Parliament, and that we shall have an opportunity of considering them), and then, after we have approved it, all charities which fall within a particular class will be exempted. Or it may be that the order or regulation will specify a particular charity. But just to take a jumble of charities and say that those are to be excluded, are to be the untouchables, and that all others are not, seems to me to be asking Parliament to swallow a good deal. I hope the noble and learned Viscount will not accept this Amendment.
§ EARL HOWE
It seems to me that the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, has not addressed himself at all to the point mentioned by my noble friend Lord Saltoun on the necessary increases of staff that will be entailed by the administration of this 47 Bill when it becomes an Act. I should have thought that even the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, would have hesitated before advocating a course which is bound to lead to an increase of staff and, therefore, expense to the various charities concerned. The noble Lord has dismissed the Amendment as hardly worth while considering; he thought the Committee probably would not consider it. But the people who run these charities are forced to consider it; they cannot help considering anything which entails an increase in staff, and perhaps also premises and work. I wish the noble Lord would address himself to that.
§ LORD SILKIN
May I say one word? I did not address myself to that point because it seems to me that if it is true that there will be considerable increases in staff involved, that will not be peculiar to these particular charities: it will apply, to a greater or lesser degree, to all charities. The reason given by the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, for the alleged increase in staff is that it would be necessary under this Bill for the charities to prepare annual accounts—it is the preparation of the annual accounts which will involve an increase in staff. The noble Lord's remedy for that is to release charities from the obligation to prepare annual accounts. If he will do that at the proper time we can consider an Amendment on those lines. I would not accept that, because one of the purposes of this Bill is to ensure that we do get annual accounts. Frankly I am very sceptical of the suggestion that these charities do not at present prepare proper annual accounts but that, as a result of this Bill, they will have to do so and that this will mean increasing their staff.
I think that the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, has read more into what I said than I actually said. In the first place, I said that this list ought to be very much extended; and I think it ought. The second thing I said is that a charity which prepares annual accounts to cover Great Britain and 48 Ireland will be subjected to considerable expense if they have to go through those accounts and select portions which refer only to the area to which this Bill refers. That means an entirely new set of books and a great deal of analysis and new information to be dug out of the accounts.
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
The Boy Scouts are mentioned in the Amendment moved by my noble friend, and one of the reasons why I am speaking now is that I am a member of the Scout Council. I do not want necessarily to disagree with the argument the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, put forward just now, but I would ask the Committee to have another look at the case implied in the Amendment moved by my noble friend. A large number of these organisations are charities. Some of them have been mentioned, possibly rather arbitrarily, in the Amendment put down. A good many others, for various reasons, have not been included in this Amendment—the National Association of Boys' Clubs, for instance; and, I fancy, a number of the youth organisation members of the Standing Conference. All these organisations, as I think the noble Lord will agree, follow the same pattern; that is to say, they have central funds, and funds at lower levels, at county level and at the level of the unit of the boys' club in the village, the local cadets and the scout troop. All are charities, and all will be required to be registered if the Bill becomes law as it stands and if no exemption is given. That, to my mind, would be a very tiresome and foolish thing to do. The Boy Scouts' Association have given me figures showing that in their organisation alone there are some 10,500 scout groups, 900 local associations and 75 counties, all to be registered as charities. Multiply that by all the other youth organisations in the Standing Conference, all the lifeboat organisations, and the others mentioned by my noble friend, and you see it adds up to a very big total.
Now let us see what good it would do if all those people had to be registered. First of all, as the noble Earl, Lord Howe, pointed out, it would throw a great burden on those branches of voluntary organisations. Secondly—and this has not been mentioned—it would introduce the need for a lot of what I might call rather low-grade establishment in 49 Government Departments, and that is not the sort of thing we are accustomed to advocate readily from these Benches unless a clear need can be proved. Then when it has been done what good is going to come of it? There may be a very exceptional case where something goes wrong, but everybody knows that the local Scout troop, the local club, is a charity: it exists for no other purpose. So when you have set up all this administration and taken all the trouble I do not think you are any better for it at the end. Therefore there is a case for exempting in some way or other—whatever way my noble and learned friend decides is best—those people. This is not a case only for the Scouts. I know that my noble and learned friend has a soft spot in his heart for all Scouts, but I am not relying on that: I am relying on the case as a whole.
There are four ways in which my noble and learned friend could deal with the problem implied in the Amendment which my noble friend has moved. He could, of course, give us a "dusty answer". I hope that he will not do that. He could, of course, accept the Amendment. I am not quite sure whether I expect him to do that, partly for the reasons which the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, has given. Then there are two other courses, either of which I think would satisfy most of the organizations we have in mind at the moment. He could either tell us—give an undertaking perhaps—that charities of this sort, the Scout troop and so forth, will be exempted by an order under Clause 4 (4) (b); or if, for any reason, that was not possible, he might agree to look at the matter again between now and the Report stage. So far as I am concerned, I should be happy if my noble and learned friend followed either of the last two courses. In view of the arguments I have put, I hope that he will agree to do one or the other.
§ 5.11 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO (THE EARL OF DUNDEE)
I should perhaps have asked my noble friend Lord Saltoun whether he intends to take Amendments Nos. 19, 42 and 53 together with this one, or whether he would prefer to deal with them separately later. While perhaps they seem not to be quite consequential, they deal with the same matter.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
Certainly. Possibly what we say on this Amendment may help my noble friend when we reach the others. I feel a little anxious when I hear my noble friend suggesting that, in the case of the charities which he has mentioned, registration is likely to involve them in so much additional expense and trouble. It is a point which is a little difficult to argue off-hand. I do not know what the estimated order of the additional expense is, or what proportion it would bear to the total turnover of the societies which my noble friend has in mind. I can tell him that discussions have already been undertaken with most of the charities mentioned in this list, with a view to working out flexible and appropriate means of registering the charities administered by these associations. This will be, in effect, by administrative regulations on which the societies concerned will be consulted. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, asked whether the regulations would be laid before Parliament. They will be laid as statutory instruments, and they are intended to make convenient and workable arrangements for registration.
Some of your Lordships have suggested that there may be a case against registration altogether, but certainly I do not think it would be possible to create a kind of arbitrarily exempt class in which certain particular charities were excluded. If we are going to exclude the Salvation Army, why not the Church Army? And if Dr. Barnardo's Homes, why not the Church of England Children's Society? So, if you exclude the Boys' Brigade, why not also the Jewish Lads' Brigade? As for St. Dunstan's, if you are going to exclude them, why not the British Red Cross Society? I do not think we can start to make exemptions to this rule of registration. I do not know whether your Lordships consider this is not so, but I understand that organised charities in general support the registration requirements. Exclusion from the registration requirements would mean that the charities concerned would lose the benefit of certainty as regards the exemption of their functional premises from income tax, and possibly, in the future, from rating relief, if the recommendations of the Pritchard 51 Committee should be implemented. The purpose of this register is to provide a complete and not a partial index of social welfare charities, and I think it would be wrong in principle that some of the most important ones should not appear on it.
I do not think any of your Lordships would expect my noble and learned friend to accept this Amendment. I hope that you will even less expect him, and us, to give a "dusty answer" to my noble friend behind me. As for his other two alternatives, I am not sure what undertakings it is possible to give about accepting regulations which are provided for under Clause 4 (4) (b); but I would again repeat that discussions have been undertaken with most of the charities mentioned in this list. I find it a little difficult to believe that the additional expense and trouble which will be created has not been a little exaggerated. I find it a little hard to think that it will in fact be so serious as my noble friend has suggested. But I will certainly gladly undertake to find out what the present stage is in regard to these discussions and let my noble friend know. So far as his Amendment is concerned, I am afraid that we could not undertake—it would be quite contrary to the principles of the Bill—to start making exceptions of this kind to the registrations of charities under this clause.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
Yes. The Second Schedule contains exemptions, but those there exempted are exempted for quite a different reason, because Parliament has already made special provision for the inspection and control of the charities contained in that Schedule. They are exempt for that reason. The charities proposed to be exempted in this Amendment would not be subject to supervision by any authority except the Court, even in respect of their permanent endowment. That is the difference between them and those excluded under the Second Schedule.
§ 5.19 p.m.
The noble Earl has cast doubts on what I said about accounting, but if he will consider that accounts are made to cover the whole of 52 Great Britain and Ireland in at least one instituton that I know of, he will realise that to select accounts dealing only with one portion of that area would require a great deal of additional work. It would mean going through the whole of the books for the year and making up new ones. It cannot be done while the institution is running very well—for this reason; that in a charity that depends to a large extent on money given by the public, often there is no record of money received that can be automatically produced. Each charity has to take the most stringent precautions about how every letter is opened, and of monies received. The best method, and the one the auditors greatly prefer, is to have the simplest possible accounts that can be devised, because then the auditor can have a reasonable certainty that every penny received has been devoted to the charity. Your Lordships will see from that that we cannot start off and keep a complete set of different books going at the same time. Each year will have to be analysed after it has been concluded; and that is going to be a very expensive course. If I am going to be asked to withdraw my Amendment I feel that we ought to be reasonably assured, before the Report stage, of the kind of regulations to which we shall have to submit; because it is not right to put a really considerable burden upon these charities without caring one way or the other or considering what means can be taken to lighten the burden upon them. Can the noble Earl give me any indication of what may happen?
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I do not think I could give any indication "off the cuff" or say any more than I have already said—that discussions are taking place with most of the associations which are mentioned in this Amendment, and particularly with the Boy Scouts, with a view to ascertaining what would be the most convenient and flexible method of having them registered. I should not like to undertake that a definite statement on the precise nature of regulations could be made before the Bill becomes law, or for some time afterwards.
—and I do not think any satisfaction was obtained by any of the parties that have been mentioned by the noble Earl. Therefore, I am left exactly where I was. To have abortive discussions is not really very helpful.
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
I believe we have gone a certain distance further, in the light of the reply given by my noble friend, and if we could be assured that there would be another set of discussions between the Department and the associations concerned, between now and the Report stage, I should be quite happy.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I do not see why I should not give that assurance, for the request seems a very reasonable one. With regard to the Boy Scouts, about which my noble friend asked, I should say it is obvious that national associations with a great many branches should not be required to register at all levels; and that is the purpose of excepting regulations. Negotiations have begun for this purpose between my right honourable friend the Minister of Education and the Boy Scouts. I cannot say (because I do not know) whether or not any other discussions may have been abortive, but I hope that they will be pursued, and I will certainly give the undertaking for which my noble friend asked.
§ LORD MILNER OF LEEDS
Is the noble Earl able to say whether or not the British Legion will be concerned? They, too, have a number of branches.
On the strength of that assurance from the noble Earl, I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment. I do so the more willingly because, from what the noble Earl has said, I have a little hope that he will accept a later Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ LORD HAWKE moved, in subsection (4), to leave out paragraph (c) and insert instead:
- "(c) Any charity not having income from property amounting to fifty pounds a year.
- (d) Any charity not having a freehold or leasehold interest in land".
§ The noble Lord said: I put down this Amendment so that it would be possible to have some discussion about the principle of the register and to enable Her Majesty's Government to give their ideas as to the objects they have in mind in registration, and the scope of registration. So far as I can see, a register can be compiled with two ends in view: first, we can have a register in the hopes of protecting the funds of a charity from loss or abuse; and, secondly, we can have a register as a mine of central information which could be of benefit to beneficiaries and social workers.
§ First, with regard to protecting the funds, there is a school of thought which believes that some endowments are lost or overlooked through the disappearance of trustees. I do not mean that they take passports and fly, but they die, and their executors do not know anything about their being trustees. This school of thought claims that registration would stop this wastage. So far as I can make out, the Nathan Report does not greatly stress this. The Committee do not seem to think there is much going on in the way of abuse, though I admit, of course, that there must be some cases, particularly with very small trusts.
§ If one wants a register for this purpose, however, it has to be a universal register, because the wastage is likely to be among the smallest trusts. For instance, we have in our village a trust which threatens to disappear at any moment. It is a fund for the weak and needy and has an income from endowment of about 15s. 7d. a year—and we find it very difficult to spend. Under this Bill this problem would be solved for us, of course, for at least three years' revenue will have to go to lawyers in return for giving us advice on whom to approach and how to approach them for registration. But the benefit of this universal list must be set off against the cost to charitable funds, and, of course, to the Charity Commissioners as well. I, for one, am very sceptical that the one will pay for the other.
§ Then we turn to the second object for which a register could be thought to be beneficial; that is, the question of abuse rather than loss. What kind of abuse? I was much struck the other day to read 55 in a local paper that in a village which shall be nameless a review of annual parochial charities was being held. Reading between the lines of that report, it was obvious what people thought had been happening to those parochial church charities—that sums were being paid out to people to whom they really ought not to have been paid, people who were not in need. I believe that where there is abuse that is the most likely form of abuse.
§ How would a register help in this particular case? The income was properly safeguarded, the expenditure was duly made and the annual accounts were properly prepared. Those annual accounts might even have been filed with the Charity Commissioners. But how could any one of the Charity Commissioners discover that Mrs. A. had been getting loaves of bread when, it was alleged, she had won a football pool? Only local opinion could do that, and local opinion was already at work in the annual meeting. I do not believe that the register, universal as it would have to be, would be much use against the abuse of income.
§ Then we turn to the other possible benefit of a central register: providing central information for would-be beneficiaries—and this was the point which was greatly stressed by the Nathan Report. Although figures have been floated about without any information, and amounts of £150,000 upwards have been mentioned, we find that the vast bulk of these trusts would be quite uninteresting to any but the local beneficiaries; and may I remind the Committee that local authorities have power to set up a voluntary local register? So in the case of the vast bulk of these trusts universal registration would be quite useless and a waste of money. In fact the mere bulk of the list would frustrate its purpose of being a help to beneficiaries. So we have here a conflict of interest: on the one hand, a gigantic list designed to safeguard the funds, though I do not believe it would do any such thing; on the other hand, a much smaller list from which beneficiaries might hope to extract some useful information. Now which of those horses does Her Majesty's Government back in this Bill?56
§ My Amendment is not designed as serious draftsmanship—I am sure it would probably be quite unworkable—but merely to suggest that a line must be drawn somewhere to try to make the list small enough to be of value to beneficiaries; because the other side—for it to be of value in preserving funds—I believe to be of very small merit. Even a list of this size will have unfortunate consequences to charitable trustees such as my noble friend Lord Saltoun has mentioned in the last Amendment and as I pointed out on Second Reading. Perhaps at this stage it might be helpful, when Her Majesty's Government give some idea of the full scope of the register, if they could give an idea of how much it will involve increasing staff for the Charity Commissioners. It obviously must be great if it is to be a live and effective list. Legal fees for registration and so on will fall on the charities. We have to decide how far the game is worth the candle, what should be the scope of the register, or even if there should be a register at all. I beg to move.
§ Amendment moved—
Page 5, line 1, leave out paragraph (c) and insert—
("() any charity not having income from property amounting to fifty pounds a year;
() any charity not having a freehold or leasehold interest in land;").—(Lord Hawke.)
§ VISCOUNT SIMONDS
May I add a word on this Amendment? I will not make my Second Reading speech again. As some members of the Committee may remember, while welcoming this Bill heartily, I ventured to challenge these provisions in regard to a register. I do not think that any member of this Committee can have listened to the debate on the last Amendment, which was moved by my noble friend Lord Saltoun, and not thought it was absolutely useless to register these great nation-wide charities. It serves no useful purpose whatever. I have not heard any useful purpose suggested; and when I heard my noble friend Lord Dundee, if he will allow me to say so, somewhat floundering over this Amendment, it was obvious that the register is useless in regard not only to the charities mentioned in the Amendment but to a thousand others which are nation-wide. That is one end.
The other end is this, which my noble friend Lord Hawke deals with in his 57 Amendment, which I support. I want to reduce, so far as I can, the dimensions of what I regard as a perfectly useless register. We can reduce it at the lower end, as it were, if we accept his Amendment; and I cannot see an intelligible reason—and nobody has persuaded me of one; nobody has suggested one—for requiring every little village charity from Land's End to the Border to be registered in Whitehall.
I want to correct an impression which I may have made on the last occasion, when I used language which might be thought to involve some reflection on the Charity Commissioners. I should be very sorry to do that. I believe that I, in the course of many years at the Bar, on the Bench and in office, had a greater opportunity of seeing the work the Charity Commissioners do than many members of the Committee have had, and I know there is no body of men more zealous and more efficient in the performance of their duties. But I see in this enormous increase of the task which will be thrown upon them a wholly unnecessary burden. I do not think it is unfair to say it is a soil in which Parkinson's Law might very well flourish. I see an increase and a further increase of officials dealing with these charities. Therefore I support, as enthusiastically as I may, anything which will reduce the burden which is put upon the charities and upon the administration of charity in general. Therefore, if my noble friend Lord Hawke seeks to include among those charities which are exempted charities which do not have an income amounting to £50, rather than £15, and which do not have a freehold or leasehold interest, as contrasted with having the use and occupation of any land, I heartily support him. I think that anything we can do to reduce this burden will be an admirable course.
Having listened to the arguments of my noble friend Lord Hawke and the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Simonds, I am—and I think many other members of the Committee must be—becoming increasingly frightened of the size of this register and the number of people it is going to take to administer it; and this matter has a bearing also on what was said by my noble friend Lord Saltoun. If the Boy Scouts are to have just one registration 58 as a whole, that might be all right, but if every association throughout this country is to be concerned it will need all the staff of the Charity Commissioners to deal with the administration of one organisation only. I think that any Amendment which can reduce the number of registrations and the enormous administrative burden that that will entail must have our support.
The Amendment of my noble friend Lord Hawke is really on exactly the same line as my own. The only difference is that I said £100 a year, and I think I am bound to say that £100 a year is a very much better limit. It would preclude probably—I do not know, but perhaps Lord Bridgeman could tell us—half the local charitable trusts and the Boy Scouts, and it would save the registration of a very large number of trusts which are carrying out their work very well and which do not really require registration.
I would certainly accept an Amendment to £100. In fact, £100 was the figure in my mind first of all.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I do not know whether this auction is going any further and whether any other noble Lords would like to bid £300 or £400 as the next stage.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
It seems to me that if my noble and learned friend Lord Simonds or any other members of the Committee really want to reject the whole principle of registration, it would be better that they should move an Amendment to that effect. I cannot agree, and the Government cannot agree, granted the principle of registration, that this Amendment would be an improvement. The effect of the Amendment of my noble friend Lord Hawke for a new paragraph (c) would be to exclude from registration any charity, whether having a permanent endowment or not, with an investment income of less than £50 a year, representing a capital of between £1,000 and £1,500. There are many charities smaller than this and it is important that they should be registered. It is difficult for possible beneficiaries and other persons interested to learn about them, and it is, as I think the 59 noble Lord himself mentioned, quite easy for them to be lost. These small charities who can least afford it would be deprived of the benefit of certainty as to charitable status which is provided by inclusion in the register.
I am not quite sure about the purpose of my noble friend's new paragraph (d). I do not quite know what the effect of it would be. My noble friend asked what our intentions were. The present paragraph (c) as it stands is based on the recommendations of the Pritchard Committee. That reads:… any charity not having any permanent endowment, nor any income from property amounting to more than fifteen pounds a year, …I think that practically all land held by charities would either be a permanent endowment or else would produce over £15 a year. As to the figure of £15 which is in the Bill as it stands at present, the reason why that was selected as the lower income limit was, first, that it represent an accumulation of funds of about £500, and we thought that this was a sufficiently considerable sum to be worth recording. The other reason is that it is, for tax relief purposes, administratively convenient, because interest above that figure in a savings bank deposit attracts the attention of the Inland Revenue. It is on the recommendation of the Pritchard Report that these definitions have been introduced, and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, will appreciate at least the intentions of the Government, and what they are trying to do under this clause.
May I ask my noble friend whether he will give me a straight answer to this question: which horse are the Government backing? Are they backing the horse of the universal register to safeguard the funds, or the horse of the useful register for beneficiaries? That is the main purpose of my putting down the Amendment—to elicit that answer.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
We certainly want to have a useful register for the benefit of the beneficiaries, but I do not see why, in certain circumstances, that should be inconsistent with the other purpose of safeguarding the funds.
§ LORD TEVIOT
As president of the Old Contemptibles Association, which is 60 an organisation throughout the whole country, I am a little anxious to know about this, as ours is definitely a dying organisation. We are getting fewer and fewer members every year, and I hope that those of us who remain are not going to be detrimentally interfered with or suffer from the passage of this matter we are now discussing.
The noble Earl said that the purpose of the register was to enable people to discover charities by which they might benefit. I have been to the highest authority on this Bill to which I can go, and I have been informed that that is a matter solely within the discretion of the trustees. It is for that reason that I do not see that the register can be of any particular value to anybody. He has access to the trustees himself if he thinks he is the proper person; and if the trustees say "No," that is apparently where the matter rests. With regard to the question of £15, it seems to me that the charities which are likely to disappear, and which the noble Earl wants the register to keep alive, are just the ones that are exempted by the £15 limit that the Government have set.
I do not want to take this Amendment any further at this stage, but I remain entirely unconvinced that Her Majesty's Government have made up their mind between these two conflicting ideas. Nevertheless, perhaps by the next stage of the Bill they will be able to come down firmly on the side of which horse to ride. I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
This Amendment is very much the same as the earlier Amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Hawke. The point is this: I think that as the Bill stands many Boy Scout groups or companies that book a field for their sports, for camp or for any purpose, would fail to get exemption under this clause. Surely it is sufficient that the rateable occupation or ownership of land should be involved, and not merely, as put in the Bill, "the use and occupation of any land." That surely goes much too far. I beg to move.
Page 5, line 3, leave out ("nor the use and occupation of any land").—(Lord Saltoun.)
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
Acceptance of this Amendment would completely wreck the possibility of implementing the recommendations of the Pritchard Committee, that machinery should be provided which would enable local authorities to ascertain, for the purpose of rating relief, whether the occupier of land in their area was a charity. The certainty which registration would provide in this respect would be of great advantage both to charities and to local authorities in obviating expensive litigation, and I think that it has been generally welcomed. Certainly that is its purpose.
The noble Earl says that the rating authorities use the rateable occupation of land. Well, let that stand; but not the rateable occupation of land for which the users are not responsible for rates. I do press him to turn his mind to that particular point.
§ LORD MILNER OF LEEDS
May I ask the noble Earl what is included in the term "property"? Does that include Government stock, stocks and shares, and things of that sort? Real property has been specifically provided for. What other property is in mind?
Will the noble Earl answer me on that point? His answer referred to rateable occupation, but use or occupation so temporary that it does not lead to payment of rates surely ought not to be included.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
All I was pointing out was that the effect of accepting this Amendment would be to render impossible the implication of the recomdation of the Pritchard Committee, the purpose of which was to enable local authorities to obtain information with a view to giving rating relief.
May we hope that the Government will reconsider this passage before the next stage of the Bill? That is what I am trying to get at.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I wonder if the noble Lord could explain his trouble. I do not understand him.
I am informed that a Boy Scout group which takes a field 62 for a camp in the summer will, ipso facto, be not exempt under this clause, even though they will not be liable for the rates, or anything of that kind, as the occupier is liable for them. That is the point. There is a difference.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I will have a look at that point. If the noble Lord has in mind that, for rateable occupation, it must be something more than a mere temporary occupation, there might be cases where there will be a difficulty. I will willingly have a look at that.
I am obliged to the noble and learned Viscount. In those circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 5.48 p.m.
LORD SALTOUN moved, in subsection (4), after paragraph (c) to insert:
() any charity registered with a local authority in accordance with section forty-one of the National Assistance Act, 1948.
The noble Lord said: This is a very important Amendment. As matters now stand, every charity for the disabled must be registered under Section 41 of the 1948 Act, and they have to be registered with the local authority, the council of a county, the county borough or a large borough. The particulars which have to be registered include the full name, address and occupation of the secretary and honorary officers; details of its bankers and auditors; and annual accounts must be submitted. In addition, up-to-date information must be supplied of the names and addresses of all members of the executive council or other managerial body, and of all persons authorised to sign cheques. A very considerable amount of detail thus has to be furnished to local authorities; and if it is really the purpose of this Bill to provide information to the local authorities, it seems to me reasonable to ask that this should be a two-way traffic. If the local authority already has this information then they ought to be able to pass it on.
§ There are even worse cases than this. St. Dunstan's, for example, is registered as a company limited by guarantee and it has to make returns to the Registrar of Companies. So that St. Dunstan's, in any case, would have to make two 63 returns. It seems to me most important that charities of this kind should not have to make new and different returns for the Registrar of Charities, in addition to what they have already had to do. If duplicates were served, well and good; but if the Charity Commissioners want other information, that means imposing an intolerable burden. I beg to move.
Page 5, line 4, at end insert the said subsection.—(Lord Saltoun.)
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I fully appreciate my noble friend's desire to avoid any kind of duplication, but I do not think there is any here. The purpose of the central register is to collect and make available complete information showing the charities which exist, the nature of the benefits which they provide and the address at which they can be communicated with. Registration of other particulars for other purposes at other places has no real relevance to the central register. The purpose of registration by the local authority under the War Charities Act and the National Assistance Act is to ensure supervision by the local authority of collecting charities for certain purposes to prevent bogus or fraudulent appeals to the public. The purpose of registration under the Companies Act—if my noble friend wants to discuss Amendment No. 10, as well; or perhaps he would like to move it separately—
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
The purpose of registration under the War Charities Act and the National Assistance Act is. I would submit to my noble friend, not really relevant to the purpose of the central register. It would not really do any good to exempt a charity from the central register simply on the ground that it happened to be registered for some purely local purpose under one of these other Acts.
What the noble Earl says may be so. I should like to apologise to him for my voice. I caught a very bad cold in the train and my voice sounds rather higher and more peevish than I like; it is not meant that way. If the same returns would do, I have no doubt that these bodies could quite well send duplicate returns. But 64 if the noble Earl is asking for an entirely separate form to be filled up, and quite separate figures to be given, I hope he will realise that he is putting a heavy burden on these bodies, and it means making some demand, at any rate, upon the money subscribed by the public for an entirely different purpose.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I am afraid I do not accept what my noble friend says, that it would be an intolerable burden. As I have tried to point out, the purpose of registration on the central register is for entirely different purposes from the local register which he has been describing.
I do not feel inclined to press this Amendment, but I do not understand the noble Earl's answer. If it is registration for an entirely different purpose, then it will mean that an entirely different set of figures has to be provided and entirely different questions have to be answered; and the noble Earl says that it does not impose an additional burden.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
It is wanted precisely because it will be an entirely different set of questions and an entirely different set of answers. I do not see how we can exempt a charity from one set of questions and answers because it happens to have filled up an entirely different form, giving entirely different answers to entirely different questions.
In that case, the Government are imposing an entirely gratuitous expense on these charities of using money supplied by the public for one purpose for an entirely different one; that is to say, for the purpose of compiling their register.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I do ask my noble friend to bear in mind that the idea is that it will be a benefit to these charities to be on the register. If your Lordships disagree with that, that is another matter: but it is not imposing hardship on them.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I have already described the certainty of qualifying for tax relief, and probably for rates relief later, if the recommenadtions of the Pritchard Report are implemented
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
If my noble friend does not press this Amendment, I do hope that my noble friend Lord Dundee will ask his advisers to give full consideration to the way in which Parkinson's Law will work on a matter of this kind.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
It seems rather an unlikely extension even of Parkinson's Law that a new official should be taken on for the purpose of filling up two forms instead of one.
The noble Earl has given me a great shock. He has actually suggested that there is a doubt that the National Institute for the Blind is a charity; that it has to be registered with a central register to prove that it is a charity. It has been a charity hitherto, and a most important one. I am very much inclined to press this Amendment. However, I have more important Amendments later. I will not press this one, but I do ask the Government to think over the matter. I ask your Lordships' leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
LORD SALTOUN had given notice of an Amendment to insert as a new subsection:
() any charity registered as a company under the Companies Act, 1948, in any case where the use of the word 'Limited' in the name of such company has been dispensed with by licence of the Board of Trade.
The noble Lord said: This Amendment is not such a strong case as the previous one, and I am not inclined to say very much about it. These charities are already registered under the Companies Act, and I realise that if this Bill goes through they will have to register again. I therefore do not propose to move this Amendment.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
Your Lordships may remember that in the debate on the Second Reading the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chelmsford made the point that charities should not be compelled by registration to furnish copies of trust instruments already held by the Charity Commissioners, and I informed your Lordships that I would gladly meet this point. It was, in fact, intended to deal with the 66 matter administratively, but it can be dealt with in the Bill and I am happy to meet the point by the Amendment which I now move.
I beg to move.
Page 5, line 40, leave out from ("scheme") to ("shall") in line 41, and insert (", require a person, if he refers the Commissioners to a document or copy already in the possession of the Commissioners or of the Minister of Education, to supply a further copy of the document; but where by virtue of this subsection a copy of any document need not be supplied to the Commissioners, a copy of it, if it relates to a registered charity,").—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ On Question: Whether Clause 4, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?
§ EARL HOWE
I should like to ask the Government whether, at some stage during the passage of this Bill through Committee, we can be told what will be the effect of the Bill upon the Civil Service. Will it entail a large increase in the Civil Service in order to complete all the details of registration and so on?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I will try to get as helpful figures as I can for my noble friend Lord Howe at some convenient stage in the Bill.
§ Clause 4, as amended, agreed to.
EARL ST. ALDWYN
I feel that it may be convenient if we adjourn the Committee stage of this Bill until to-morrow. I beg to move that the House be now resumed.
§ Moved, that the House do now resume.—(Earl St. Aldwyn.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to and House resumed accordingly.