HC Deb 13 September 2004 vol 424 cc1402-3W
Mr. Hancock

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make it his policy to issue a definition of public benefit in relation to the activities of charities; and if he will make a statement. [187493]

Fiona Mactaggart

The draft Charities Bill was published on 27 May 2004. It takes forward a number of the recommendations of the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit, which made its report 'Private Action; Public Benefit' in September 2002. Copies of both documents are available in the Library.

At the heart of the draft Charities Bill is a new statutory definition of charity, based on a list of charitable purposes, and the principle of charities providing public benefit. This will make clear exactly what a charity is.

The Strategy Unit thoroughly reviewed the pros and cons of putting a definition of public benefit onto the face of the Bill. It concluded, and the Government agrees, that the future development of charity will be better served by keeping the current, flexible, non-statutory definition of public benefit.

The draft Bill is the subject of pre-legislative scrutiny by a Joint Committee of both Houses, which is expected to publish its recommendations by 30 September 2004. The Government will publish their response to the Committee's recommendations.