Charities Bill [HL]

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:30 pm on 12th October 2005.

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Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Government Whip, Government Whip 6:30 pm, 12th October 2005

My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Swinfen, said, we discussed this at Second Reading and in Committee on 28 June. The noble Lord is concerned about the issue. In Committee he said:

"There is a significant gap in the regulation of charities which has historically been concerned only with the material assets of a charity".

He also said:

"As charities exist for their beneficiaries, it is rather odd that charity law allows the regulator to ignore their interests".—[Hansard, 28/6/05; col. 193.]

I take issue with the assertion that there is a gap either now or when the Bill is passed. Section 1(4) of the Charities Act 1993 states:

"It shall be the general object of the Commissioners so to act in the case of any charity . . . as best to promote and make effective the work of the charity in meeting the needs designated by its trusts".

I repeat the phrase,

"the needs designated by its trusts".

Whose needs? It is the beneficiaries' needs. The commission's new objectives in the Bill also have the interests of beneficiaries.