HL Deb 27 July 1967 vol 285 cc1221-3

[No. 108]

Leave out Clause 31.

My Lords, I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons in Amendment No. 108.

Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendment.—(Lord Brown.)


This is an Amendment to leave out Clause 31, which is the clause dealing with

"Disclosure of Companies, as regards certain Gifts of Money for charitable Purposes, of Amounts thereof and Identities of Donees or Purposes of Gifts."

This was a clause put in at the instance of my noble friend Lord Polwarth. My noble friend had moved an Amendment to a clause, and this clause was brought forward in place of that. The point here is quite simply that when this Bill first came before this House it had a provision dealing with a combination of political and charitable contributions, which is a matter still covered by Clause 18, and in this case both political and charitable contributions exceeding £50 in value had to be declared. A list of political contributions had to be provided under Clause 18, and a list of charitable contributions under Amendment No. 108. The truth is simply that the decision to put in charitable contributions at all was intended as a justification of the decision to put in the political contributions. It was, so to speak, to soften the blow and make the thing look a little more respectable. Now that the clothes have been taken off, the political contributions stand in their stark nakedness as a purely political measure.


My Lords, it is an impressive commentary on this Government that they come along full of pious intentions that all charitable contributions must be disclosed, without even taking the trouble to find out in advance the enormous amount of additional work that will be imposed on all the companies concerned. Despite the fact that we made representations in your Lordships' House, the Government remained adamant. Then, when they really start looking at it, they see the enormity of their actions, and they remove the clause. We are grateful that they have removed the clause. We hope they will learn from their bitter experiences, so that when they prepare the next Bill they will not resort to the same sort of insulting and incompetent procedures.


My Lords, I do not want to prolong this discussion, but I must comment that the noble Lord has overlooked the fact that in the discussion on what I may call the abortive Bill of 1964 in another place it was the Opposition who proposed that lists of charitable contributions should be included.


Not by the Opposition Front Bench.


No. Nevertheless, it was Opposition speakers from the Back Benches. It was because of their pressure that the Government moved and put in this clause about charitable contributions. I am happy to see it removed, because I agree that it was put in as a measure of equity, because political contributions appear. I do not feel the slightest bit ashamed of the fact that political contributions have to appear. I feel it is just and proper that in a society of this sort political contributions made by companies should be shown. I think the lessons of pre-war Germany alone are sufficient to indicate what can happen when these things get out of hand. I am not ashamed of the clause itself, but I am happy that charitable contributions are dealt with as they are in this Amendment.

On Question, Motion agreed to.