§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Fiona Mactaggart)
The Charities Bill has today been published in draft for pre-legislative scrutiny by a specially constituted joint Committee of both Houses. The remit of the Committee is to consider the draft Bill, and to report to both Houses by the end of September 2004.
Charities are active in every area of national endeavour, helping to transform people's lives and to build strong communities. They are a strong force for good in society. The Government believe that a vibrant and diverse charitable sector, independent of Government, is essential for the health of our democracy. The Government support the charitable sector in many different ways. One of the most important things we can do for the sector is to create a legal framework which will enable established and new charities to thrive and to achieve their full potential and which will sustain high levels of public confidence in charities through effective regulation.
The draft Charities Bill will deliver significant benefits both to the public and to the charitable sector itself. For the first time there will be a clear definition of charity containing all the purposes that are, or ought to be, recognised as charitable, with the requirement of public benefit. It introduces a range of law reforms designed to enable charities to be administered more efficiently and to be more effective in their work. It provides for better regulation of public collections by charities. It will put in the public domain an improved range and quality of information about charities and it will introduce improvements to the Charity Commission's objectives, functions and accountability to enable it to be an even more effective regulator.
Copies of the draft Bill have been placed in the Library and are available from the Stationery Office and from the Home Office website at: www.homeoffice.gov.uk/comrace/active/charitylaw/index.html/