Unification Church

Oral Answers to Questions — Attorney-General – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th March 1983.

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Photo of Mr John Hunt Mr John Hunt , Bromley Ravensbourne 12:00 am, 14th March 1983

asked the Attorney-General if he is now in a position to make a further statement with regard to his application to the charity commissioners for the removal of charitable status from the Unification Church.

Photo of Mr Michael Havers Mr Michael Havers , Wimbledon

The chief commissioner having twice declined to hold an inquiry into the affairs of the two trusts, I wrote to him on 7 March calling on him to remove them from the register of charities. On 9 March I provided the chief commissioner with a detailed statement of the grounds for de-registration. It is now up to the charity commissioners to decide whether to take steps to remove the trusts from the register. They will require a little time to consider the statement.

Photo of Mr John Hunt Mr John Hunt , Bromley Ravensbourne

Will my right hon. and learned Friend explain the complacent and obstructive attitude shown by the chief charity commissioner in this case? If, as Mr. Peach now tells us, he is waiting for evidence to justify the removal of this so-called Church from the register, could his attention be directed to the transcript of the Daily Mail trial and to the anguish suffered by hundreds of parents in this country who have lost children to the Moonies and who look with despair at the charity commissioners' reluctance to take effective action?

Photo of Mr Michael Havers Mr Michael Havers , Wimbledon

Over the past 12 months I have provided the charity commissioners with all the transcripts that I believed would assist them in reaching a conclusion. They will also have had the opportunity of reading the Court of Appeal judgments. We had, of course, to wait until the petition for leave to appeal to the House of Lords had been dismissed. Thereafter, I moved quickly. I do not believe that it would be appropriate for me to comment upon the charity commissioners or the merits of the case, because they are now acting in a quasi-judicial capacity in reaching a decision upon my request.

Photo of Mr Arthur Davidson Mr Arthur Davidson , Accrington

Nonetheless, as the Attorney-General has, to his credit, had to lean heavily on the charity commissioners and seems to have been faced with considerable difficulties in removing charitable status from a body that most people would regard as being distinctly uncharitable, when the question of reappointments arises will he consider changing the composition of the charity commissioners so as to appoint people with perhaps a broader view of life than the present charity commissioners seem to have?

Photo of Mr Michael Havers Mr Michael Havers , Wimbledon

The appointment of the charity commissioners is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. However, on the two occasions on which I asked the charity commissioners to set up an inquiry under section 6, it was a complete surprise to me that they twice refused that request.