Charities Bill [HL]

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:45 pm on 12th October 2005.

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Photo of Lord Phillips of Sudbury Lord Phillips of Sudbury Spokesperson in the Lords (Id Cards & Charities Bill), Home Affairs 4:45 pm, 12th October 2005

My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who contributed to this mini-debate and particularly to the noble Lords, Lord Best and Lord Borrie, and the noble Baroness, Lady Warwick, for supporting the amendment.

If the Minister thinks that the Bill strikes a balance on this central and important issue, I would not like to depend upon it. There are difficult conventions about the role and view of the Charity Commission which I do not wish to transgress. But I reassert what I said when I intervened a few moments ago: the Charity Commission would wish for the amendment for the reasons that I endeavoured to explain which have their basis in the common law and the case of Re: Resch. It was notable that the Minister—although he said much—said absolutely nothing about those key arguments that are not novel, but ones I have addressed to the House on two previous occasions. I suggest that the reason he did not address them was that what I said is incontrovertible. It is not only my view but that of distinguished charity lawyers and academics.

It is the job of this House to legislate in a manner which is "seaworthy"—which will achieve on the ground that which we want it to achieve and which will give support to those who have to implement it. This central issue in the Bill is not seaworthy. There is no partisanship in the amendment. It follows the best practice which is already the norm in the independent school sector. I wish to test the opinion of the House.