§ Bob Russell
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether charitable and voluntary organisations in receipt of sponsorship money raised by participants in the London Marathon on 18 April 2004 will be required to pay value added tax; and if he will make a statement. 
§ John Healey
I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Simon Hughes) on 19 March 2004,Official Report, column 25W.
Donations to a charity, for which nothing is received in return, are VAT-free, even if a charity asks individuals to 'pledge' or 'commit' to raise a certain amount of sponsorship.
Some charities insist that their runners in the London Marathon pay a registration fee or a minimum amount of sponsorship, before they take part in the race. These charities are, in effect, selling places in the race, so VAT is due, but only on any registration fee or the minimum amount runners have to pay. Any money raised above the minimum amount or registration fee will be free from VAT.
So, as they have always been able to do, charities can choose whether to organise their activities in this manner, enabling them to recover some of the VAT on the costs associated with the race, or in such a way that no VAT is due on the amount paid to them by runners.