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 Humfrey Malins Humfrey Malins Conservative, Woking 2:30 pm, 25th October 2006

The hon. Gentleman makes a good point. My understanding is that rugby union sevens would fall within the ambit of the definition as part of the Commonwealth games. He and I must have a chat some time about my distinguished rugby history, although I did not perform at any of those games.

On the edge of my constituency, Woking, can be found the Great Britain Target Shooting Federation, based at Bisley—a very fine organisation indeed. The federation manages target shooting with both rifles and pistols, and co-ordinates those sports at the Olympic and Commonwealth games. It works hard with and is admired by Sport UK, and has an exemplary reputation. I say immediately for the avoidance of doubt that I am talking about target shooting with rifles and pistols, which has nothing whatever to do with hunting.

The Bill introduces the concept of "the advancement of amateur sport" as being a charitable purpose. Sport is defined, rather narrowly, in clause 2(3). The Government have tabled their own amendment No. 3, which slightly broadens that definition. That is all to the good. The federation, not unnaturally, is concerned about the fact that target shooting with rifles and pistols, which is recognised by the Olympic and Commonwealth organisations as an amateur sport, could be excluded by reference to the current definition of sport, though I hope not by the Government's new proposed definition.

The sport to which I refer, and its governance, must not be confused with hunting or any gun lobby. Target shooting sport in the UK was founded in 1859 and featured in the first Olympic games of 1896 and every games, bar two, since then. Target shooting is an Olympic, Commonwealth and Paralympic sport. The home nations have a high reputation internationally and regularly win medals. Target shooting provides many opportunities for competitive sport at county, national and international level through recognised international governing bodies.

Target shooting sport, as regulated and governed by the national governing bodies, is an inclusive sport without any discrimination and with special emphasis on encouraging the young. It provides a safe sport requiring physical and concentration skills, and promotes and maintains health. It also provides a safe sport for those with disabilities, including blindness or sight impairment, in some cases on equal terms with the fully able-bodied. It provides a lifelong sports activity for the very young to the very old. It is a sports activity encouraged by many local councils, schools and cadet units. It encourages a responsible attitude to shooting and the handling of firearms from club level upwards, and is therefore a force for good in society.

The listing of target shooting sport as a charitable activity in the advancement of amateur sport is fundamental to the federation, and would help to give it the financial ability to support target shooting not only for its members, but for the blind and the Paralympics, and for the training of Olympic hopefuls. I believe that the Minister of Sport is sympathetic to the federation's position, for I gather that in relation to the Olympics he has written a paper for the Home Secretary to help facilitate the making of arrangements for squad practice for target pistol shooters in the UK in preparation for 2012.