Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill [HL] — Second Reading (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:25 pm on 10th June 2015.

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Photo of Lord Bridges of Headley Lord Bridges of Headley The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office 7:25 pm, 10th June 2015

My Lords, I thank all those who have spoken for their excellent contributions and for the kind words spoken about me. Clearly, the pressure is now on for me to live up to your Lordships’ expectations. I particularly thank the noble Lord, Lord Watson of Invergowrie, for his speech and for his contribution to the pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill. The last few hours confirmed what I said at the start of the debate: your Lordships’ House is indeed a place for quiet but incisive scrutiny. Much more than that, it is a forum in which the voice of our nation’s “little platoons” can be heard. I counted more than 30 charitable organisations being represented by the speakers in this debate.

Taking a step back, it is clear to me that, thanks in very large part to those who spent so long scrutinising these proposals over many months, there is considerable support in this House for the principles that underpin the Bill and most of its measures. Let us not forget why these powers are needed. It was the independent National Audit Office that pointed to,

“gaps in the Commission’s statutory powers which were hampering its ability to regulate effectively”.

In the years since that report was written, many in the charity sector have supported the need for change, as my noble friend Lord Hodgson did again today. These powers need to be carefully balanced, as does the role of the Charity Commission, between being a regulator and an adviser, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope of Craighead, said. Here again I pay tribute to and thank the noble and learned Lord—the Usain Bolt of charity law, as we are told to call him—for all he did in making that process so productive and worth while.