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Clause 11 — Donations to charity by individuals

Part of Orders of the Day — Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:15 pm on 13th June 2005.

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Photo of Ivan Lewis Ivan Lewis The Economic Secretary to the Treasury 5:15 pm, 13th June 2005

They will appear as soon as possible, when we can sit down with those affected and make sure that we get the list right. The point is that the list was never intended to be exhaustive.

Amendment No. 35, which would reduce the 12-month period to three months by allowing gift aid to apply when the right of admission is granted for only three months, would diminish the distinction between paying an admission charge and making a gift that generates an ongoing relationship between the donor and the charity—the point that I was making earlier. That undermines an important principle of gift aid, which is about additional giving or additionality. Furthermore, a short period might encourage charities to manipulate the scheme when they think that it is unlikely that visitors will come back within such a three-month period: they could offer a three-month season ticket for a donation equivalent to a single admission and ensure that gift aid applies, rather than asking for a donation that is 10 per cent. more than that admission. We believe that the principles of gift aid are very important, and that the 12-month period is about right for sustaining those principles. It is also important to mention that there is no requirement to offer annual membership for the same price as a single admission. That decision is for the charity, taking account of the relevant circumstances.

Amendment No. 1 relates to the definition of "family". With regard to the contribution from the hon. Member for Wimbledon, one must ask whether a ménage à trois would qualify as part of a definition of the term. The key point about the legislation and guidance is that it is for the charity to determine what constitutes an accompanying family. Therefore, it will be for the charity to determine whether the definition relates to a relatively small number of people or a far more significant number of people. The scenario given on Second Reading by the hon. Member for Wimbledon, I think, raised the issue of what happens when one takes one's children and their friends to visit a museum. Clearly, those friends are not part of one's immediate family. Under the legislation and guidance, which we wish to keep as flexible as possible, it is absolutely clear that it is for the charity to define the term "family". In my view, there is a danger of an unintended consequence if we refer to 20 individuals, as charities might assume that that is the norm or median. As far as I am concerned, it makes sense to leave the provision as it is, whereby the individual charity defines flexibly, in this context, the term "family".