Charity Funding (Icelandic Bank Deposits)

Part of Point of Order – in the House of Commons at 12:32 pm on 19th November 2008.

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Photo of Maria Miller Maria Miller Shadow Minister (Children, Young People and Families) 12:32 pm, 19th November 2008

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 24, to debate a specific and important matter that requires urgent attention, namely, the funding emergency which is mounting for charities like Naomi House as a result of the continuing banking crisis in Iceland.

Naomi House provides emergency support for terminally ill children living in my constituency and in the constituencies of a great number of right hon. and hon. Members in all parts of the House. Some six weeks ago, Singer and Friedlander, a British bank that was taken over by an Icelandic bank in 2006, was put into administration by Her Majesty's Treasury. Naomi House had £5.7 million on deposit with that bank, which amounts to one third of its assets.

When the Government took that action, specific reassurances were given to charities such as Naomi House that special arrangements would be made for them. Indeed, the Leader of the House made it clear on two separate occasions, both here in the House and in the media, that charities such as Naomi House would receive particular support. Yet now it would appear that under the Financial Services Authority regulations, Naomi House may not be eligible for any such special protection and faces the prospect of a protracted fight to recover any of its money at all.

That would have serious consequences for the services that this unique charity provides for very ill children in Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Dorset, West Sussex, Berkshire, Wiltshire and Surrey. There were plans to extend to other areas the outreach service provided in my constituency, but if the money is not recovered, those plans will not come to fruition. That would be devastating for the children involved and their families and for the staff and volunteers, and would be a blow for the people who raise money for this important organisation.

This could take years to resolve—years that many of those children simply do not have. Naomi House was using a bank that was regulated by the British Financial Services Authority and, indeed, that was on a list specifically approved by the Charities Commission. There are very serious questions to be answered, Mr. Speaker, including whether the Prime Minister himself was aware of the impending banking disaster in Iceland as early as March this year. A full debate in the House will certainly help Members get the information and certainty that charities such as Naomi House need at this difficult time, and I hope that you feel that it is right to grant such a debate at this time.

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