HL Deb 05 November 1992 vol 539 cc1535-6

Lord Allen of Abbeydale asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they are satisfied that the Charity Commissioners have sufficient resources for their part in implementing the Charities Act 1992.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Earl Ferrers)

Yes, my Lords.

Lord Allen of Abbeydale

My Lords, I am obliged to the Minister for that informative reply. That keeps up the high standard for succinctness for which my old department is well known. But I view with some apprehension the effect of the current spending review. It now appears that the deployment of staff from the winding-up of the Official Custodian's department will take some years. Looking to the future, can the Minister really say that he is satisfied that the commission will be able to cope with all that is involved in implementing these regrettable new provisions in regard to levying fees, charging for publications and also with all the reports and accounts which will come pouring in in their tens of thousands when the relevant sections of the Act come into force?

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Allen of Abbeydale, said that he felt some apprehension over the forthcoming public expenditure review. He is not alone. But I do not see any reason why the Charity Commission should not possess sufficient funds. Five years ago they had £6.2 million; in the current year they have £20.7 million, of which £1.2 million was included specifically to meet the provisions of the Act. The commission sent out an explanatory booklet of the Charities Act to every registered charity. It will be able to charge for other more specific items. As to the future, the noble Lord, Lord Allen of Abbeydale, will know from his own experience in the department in which I have the honour to be an ornament that he would not expect me to comment any further.

Lord Renton

My Lords, I agree with my noble friend that it is satisfactory that in the past year or two the Charity Commissioners received considerable increases in resources. But is he aware that, thanks to the generous tax concessions made with regard to gifts to charities and the ever-increasing number of charities, it is important to keep in mind that the Charity Commission needs ever-increasing resources?

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, everyone believes that everything needs ever-increasing resources. My noble friend is quite right that there have been a great deal of additional demands made upon the Charity Commission, and provision has been made for them. I cannot tell my noble friend whether those demands are such that they will require the resources forever to be increased.

Lord Morris of Castle Morris

My Lords, is it not a fact that the Home Office is required to write the regulations for fund-raising in Part II of the Act and complete a consultation before April 1993, yet they have not even started on it because they are so busy with other matters and there are only two people currently working on it?

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, they are doing well. No doubt the results will be forthcoming in the near future.

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