Clause 2 — Meaning of "charitable purpose"

Part of Point of Order – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 25th October 2006.

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Photo of Charlotte Atkins Charlotte Atkins Labour, Staffordshire Moorlands 2:30 pm, 25th October 2006

Dr. Harris will not be surprised to hear that I wish to speak about the issue that he just raised. I welcome Government amendment No. 3 because it is clearly intended to include activities such as chess in the scope of the clause on the advancement of amateur sport. I applaud that, because the promotion of chess will bring a huge public benefit for not only people who are disabled or elderly, but young people, especially. When we talk about chess, it is often not recognised that it does not require mental agility and concentration alone. At higher levels, a lot of physical effort is required to engage in a match lasting perhaps several hours.

Cheddleton and Leek chess club, which is one of the most successful chess clubs in the country, is in my constituency, and plays at national level in the four nations chess league. It has produced five British junior champions and one visually impaired international player, so I can tell the Conservative Members who are smiling that it is not a joke club.

Charitable status would enable the club to attract even more people into the sport, and would mean that it could put on more events such as its successful annual congress, which draws many people, including international masters and grand masters, to Leek. The club could then also provide much more coaching for young people. It always holds a session on Friday nights for the adult and junior clubs, and also goes into schools to promote chess.

The Cheddleton and Leek club grew out of the passion of many young chess players. Back in 1973, chess was on the junior school curriculum, but there was nowhere for the youngsters to play after they got into high school. They thus pleaded with a teacher, Robert Milner, to set up a club so that they could continue to play. It is absolutely remarkable that the same Robert Milner is leading the club today; he should be congratulated on that.

Chess remains on the curriculum at St. Edward's middle school, because it is recognised that chess hugely improves pupils' concentration and benefits their learning potential overall. When I was a school governor in London, a team of young black students took on many private schools in south London and did remarkably well. Many of those students played chess in their playgrounds on the benches provided. Chess gave them huge motivation and massively improved their concentration and learning potential.

The Cheddleton and Leek club now boasts a junior section with 70 members, and its overall membership is more than 100. It has nine teams in the junior league. Many of the youngsters take on older players—frequently beating them—and there is a great rapport between the students, who can be as young as eight, and club members in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and even 80s. The club does a tremendous job locally and should receive recognition for it. I am extremely grateful for Government amendment No. 3, because it will ensure that the club can get on the road to charitable status, which will allow it to get the support that it deserves and continue its valuable work in the community. I hope that other chess clubs throughout the country will follow its good example.