Clause 45

Charities Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:00 pm on 11 July 2006.

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Regulation of public charitable collections

Photo of Martin Horwood Martin Horwood Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 6:15, 11 July 2006

I beg to move amendmentNo. 144, page 53, line 20, at end insert—

‘it does not include a charitable appeal which is made on private property;’.

Photo of Joan Humble Joan Humble Labour, Blackpool North and Fleetwood

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 45, page 54, line 22, at end add—

‘(8) Nothing in this or any other legislation shall permit a condition to be attached to the permission for a public collection which prevents the collectors from shaking their collecting tins—

(a) between the hours of 8am and 6pm; or

(b) at other times unless it can be demonstrated that the shaking of tins is likely to cause a public nuisance.’.

No. 130, page 54, line 22, at end insert—

‘(8) Persons making a public charitable collection shall be allowed to shake or rattle collection tins or vessels.’.

No. 145, in clause 49, page 56, line 16, at end insert ‘, and

(c) ensure that all collectors carry photographic identity badges in a form approved for this purpose by the local authority.’.

No. 150, in clause 60, page 65, line 41, leave out paragraph (b).

No. 143, in clause 60, page 65, leave out line 42 and insert

‘a day which, when taken with the day on which that other collection is already so authorised, would result in collections being undertaken in that locality more frequently than once every other day.’.

No. 46, in clause 63, page 68, line 24, at end insert ‘excluding local collections;’.

Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley Conservative, Worthing West

On a point of order, Mrs. Humble. Have you had any indication of how far the usual channels think we ought to get this evening?

Photo of Joan Humble Joan Humble Labour, Blackpool North and Fleetwood

That is not a point of order for the Chair. I call Martin Horwood.

Photo of Martin Horwood Martin Horwood Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Amendment No. 144 would introduce a new provision in clause 45, which concerns the regulation of public charitable collections. I am aware that it is a mildly contentious clause for Committee members and many other MPs, because it touches on the practice referred to on Second Reading as chugging—charities’ ability to raise sometimes vital funds not through traditional forms of charitable appeal or by shaking tins but by making appeals for standing orders and direct debits in public without some of the restrictions applying to traditional charitable collections. The Bill rightly proposes a range of amendments to fundraising rules that will bring such fundraising under proper regulation by law and, on many occasions, by local authorities. However, there is a risk that by being too enthusiastic in our regulatory zeal, we might impose undue restrictions on charities that would damage the income that we all want to go to their beneficiaries.

Clause 45 contains one such unduly restrictive measure. As I read it, the clause restricts collections defined as public charitable collections under subsection (2). Public collections are those made

“(i) in any public place, or

(ii) by means of visits to houses or business premises (or both)”.

So far, so good, but the problem lies with the definition of “public”. A public place is defined in subsection (6)(b) as

“any other place to which, at any time when the appeal is made, members of the public have or are permitted to have access and which either—

(i) is not within a building, or

(ii) if within a building, is a public area within any station, airport or shopping precinct or any other similar public area.”

That will take us into an extraordinary situation. For instance—to quote an example that was familiar to me a few years ago—if the Alzheimer’s Society agrees with Tesco that charitable collections will take place on Tesco premises, which are Tesco’s private property, the society will have to seek the local authority’s permission and obtain a permit to do so. The conditions will apply because the collection will be in a public place as defined by the Bill.

Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley Conservative, Worthing West

Has the hon. Gentleman taken advice on whether being on the premises of the shop is different from being within a shopping precinct?

Photo of Martin Horwood Martin Horwood Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

I have not, but I assume that the shop would not be covered by the broader definition of “public place” in subsection (6). However, a shopping precinct clearly would be. Perhaps Tesco was a bad example, although Tesco and large supermarkets have equivalent public areas. However, if the proprietors of a shopping precinct agree with a charity that collection is to take place and the arrangement has been made between those two private parties, I cannot see that it is the law’s job to step in and say that extra conditions should apply.

Photo of James Duddridge James Duddridge Conservative, Rochford and Southend East

By way of example, there is an area in my constituency, Victoria plaza, that has a public right of way through it. If a private citizen passed through it to go shopping, he would still pass through a right of way. Surely, it should be considered a public area, rather than foisting the private views of that particular property holder upon the individuals wandering through.

Photo of Martin Horwood Martin Horwood Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

The views of the Conservative Party on private property seem to be developing.

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Labour, Cardiff South and Penarth

It is interesting that the hon. Gentleman is developing as a protector of the rights of private property owners. Does he not agree that the general public would apply a common-sense approach to what a public open space is—somewhere that is open to general access to the public? The question of who owns the land over which the public are walking is often fairly academic to people.

Photo of Martin Horwood Martin Horwood Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

The right hon. Gentleman says that common sense should apply. However, common  sense should say, if a reasonable arrangement has been made between a charity and the owner of a private shopping precinct and there is no likely objection to that from members of the public because it is not of a nature to obstruct the public, that the private owner of that property and the private charity should have the rights to make that arrangement. The real effect of the provision will not be to stop the collection either way, but to impose an extraordinary administrative burden in the form of permit collections from the local authority.

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Labour, Cardiff South and Penarth

The hon. Gentleman used an interesting phrase—if the public have no “likely objection”—but surely they have elected representatives in the local authority to make that judgment. They have no way of expressing an objection or support to private property owners of those public open spaces that happen to be privately owned.

Photo of Martin Horwood Martin Horwood Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

The public have every means of expressing their discontent. They can withdraw their custom, their donations or both. Those sanctions are available to them.

By way of background, I would say that when I was a fundraising director, the number of complaints about telephone marketing was relatively high, but there were very few complaints about public, charitable collections because they are the easiest thing in the world to avoid. People can simply walk past and not give. That is the same in the case of shaking tins as it is with giving direct debits or standing orders.

The amendment would prevent an onerous administrative burden from being placed on charities. We have to remember the net effect of these things. This is not a cost-free exercise. If the administrative burden will be as bad as I think that it will be, it will result in fewer donations and consequently less income to the very causes that we are trying to support with the Bill. Therefore, it is a serious amendment and I would like the Minister’s response to it.

On amendment No.145, I was puzzled to find it listed under clause 45 because it is an amendment to clause 49, which is several pages later on page 56. That should not be interpreted as any change in the broad Liberal Democrat scepticism about the carrying of identity badges. In the case of people who call door to door, well established guidance from the police and others says that those carrying out official business or business that is recognised by law should carry photographic identity badges wherever possible. This is an opportunity to reinforce that point.

One of my concerns about the reputation of the charitable sector is that it is being impinged upon by collectors who purport to be charitable but are actually running a variety of either commercial operations or ones that are even less reputable than commercial operations. Those are intended, on occasion, to defraud householders of their money. That seems a real threat and I am concerned about it. Locking in the idea of photographic identity badges at this point seems a good opportunity.

Photo of Tom Levitt Tom Levitt PPS (Rt Hon Hilary Benn, Secretary of State), Department for International Development

The hon. Gentleman will recall that I raised this matter in my speech on Second Reading. My  hon. Friend the Minister said that he thought that the requirement for carrying identity cards on door-to-door collections was not being changed by the Bill. Therefore it was not necessary to put it in. However, I would be interested to hear his specific response to this amendment.

The amendment would require the badge to be approved by the local authority. However, if the badge is connected with a collection certificate issued by the Charity Commission and if one of the purposes of that is to allow an organisation such as Oxfam only to have to apply for one collection certificate for the whole country, would it not be more appropriate for the badge design to be linked to the collection certificate from the Charity Commission, rather than having individual badges from individual local authorities?

Photo of Martin Horwood Martin Horwood Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

The hon. Gentleman makes an excellent point, which I am happy to accept. Had I been able to move the amendment, I would have been content to withdraw it on that basis, as he has suggested a significant improvement. I commend his thoughts to the Minister.

Amendment No. 150 would amend clause 60. The clause is well intentioned, but there is an onerous restriction—albeit possibly an inadvertent one—that could be placed on public charitable collections. The Institute of Fundraising has raised a concern about that restriction with me and possibly also with other Committee members. Clause 60(2)(b) provides for possible restriction by local authorities of public collections when it is proposed to conduct such a collection

“on a day on which that other collection is already so authorised, or on the day falling immediately before, or immediately after, any such day.”

Let us imagine the practical impact of that. There is a seven-day week, and Sunday is a day on which public charitable collections rarely take place, so there are really six days at people’s disposal. The local authority might authorise a collection on a Tuesday and then choose to restrict collections on either side of that day, thereby ruling out Mondays and Wednesdays. There might then be an application for a collection on a Friday, following which the local authority might choose to rule out collections on a Thursday and a Saturday. In effect, the local authority would then have reduced the opportunity for public collections to two days in the week, which is rather less than was intended. The Public Fundraising Regulatory Association has raised concern about that, and I believe that the Institute of Public Fundraising has done so too. I look forward to hearing the remarks of the hon. Member for Isle of Wight on the other amendments.

Photo of Andrew Turner Andrew Turner Conservative, Isle of Wight

I have some sympathy with the hon. Member for Cheltenham in relation to his amendment No. 144. I am not sure whether I heard him correctly, but it seemed to me to be slightly curious that one can require a licence in order for a collection for the Alzheimer’s Society—or indeed any other body—to be held in a Tesco car park, but not in Tesco itself. That seems bizarre.

Clause 45(6) says that

“ ‘public place’ means...any other place to which...members of the public have or are permitted to have access and not within a building.”

So Tesco’s car park could be a public place but Tesco could not. That does sound pretty curious. I cannot understand why anyone should complain about a collection in Tesco’s car park. If they did not like it, they would have two ways to demonstrate their dislike—more than two ways, in fact.

My amendment is about something different. It is about the rules that local authorities appear to impose on people who are undertaking collections. I raised it on Second Reading. The constituents with whom I discussed the Charities Bill—I cannot for the life of me remember how we got on to the subject; it is not the type of issue that I often discuss with my constituents, particularly teenage ones—complained that they were not allowed to shake their collection tins. Ryde carnival was not the example that they gave—I forget the example that they gave—but Ryde carnival would have been a perfectly good example.

When I was once collecting for Marie Curie outside Newport post office, I was firmly instructed by the organisers of the Marie Curie collection not to shake my tin because it was illegal. I have subsequently done a little work—a little research, you might almost call it—and I find that on page 65, clause 59, line 21, a local authority may “attach any condition” to the determination of an application for the power for the right to make a street collection. If that power currently exists, and I would not be surprised if it did, it would also not surprise me in the least if a local authority attached a requirement that collectors should not shake a tin. It seems to me completely and patently absurd that the local authority should be indulging in this type of petty nit-picking. I can understand why it does it; it is concerned that people sleeping nearby may be awoken if the vessel into which money is deposited is shaken too vigorously.

However, nowadays, most collecting tins are not tins at all; they are plastic vessels. It is much harder to shake those and make an effective noise. If you were collecting money in a milk churn, I would understand the local authority being concerned. However, I see no reason why the local authority should have this blanket power to ban the shaking of tins. Amendment No. 45 relieves them of that power, except in the case of collections that take place

“between the hours of 8am and 6pm;”

—and only when they have a good reason to believe that they will cause trouble.

Amendment No. 46 deals with the Secretary of State exercising similar powers. For some reason the Secretary of State has taken it upon himself to regulate, in detail, on page 68, clause 63, line 24.

The Secretary of State may make regulations...for the purpose of regulating the conduct of public charitable collections”.

There may be a possible justification for that if one is doing so nationally. Although I would like to hear from the Parliamentary Secretary as to whether he can think of any. However, there is no justification for the  Secretary of State making regulations about the making of public charitable collections on the Isle of Wight. That is a matter that is better left to the Isle of Wight council. I propose that local collections should be exempt from this power for the Secretary of State. That is amendment No. 46.

Photo of James Duddridge James Duddridge Conservative, Rochford and Southend East 6:30, 11 July 2006

I wish to speak to amendmentNo. 130, which is in my name. I put it in my name without the benefit of fully looking at amendment No. 45 tabled by the hon. Gentleman. However, having seen it, I am glad that I did put the amendment in my name, because with all respect to him, I believe that his amendment No. 45 is deficient for the same reason that current legislation is inappropriate.

Both current legislation and clause 45 are not needed because we already have environmental health regulation. Therefore, if someone is making a nuisance by shaking a tin, it is already covered. That is something that causes distress and, as the hon. Gentleman said, he was briefed not to shake the tin. The simpler we make these matters, the more likely we are to raise money. I believe that amendment No. 130 would be more appropriate. It being one of the first amendments that I have introduced, I am sure that it is badly drafted, but perhaps the Government will table another amendment.

Photo of Tom Levitt Tom Levitt PPS (Rt Hon Hilary Benn, Secretary of State), Department for International Development

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will approve of the practice used by charities that I have noticed. For noise abatement purposes, they make collections of notes only, not coins. I am interested that he wants the tins to be allowed to shake or rattle, but not yet roll.

Photo of James Duddridge James Duddridge Conservative, Rochford and Southend East

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that contribution. He obviously comes from a more affluent part of the country than Southend, where parting with our change is charity enough.

Photo of Martin Horwood Martin Horwood Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Although other parts of the Bill already exempt local short-term collections, the hon. Member for Isle of Wight is proposing under amendment No. 46 that local long-term collections should also be exempted. If I understand the effect of the amendment correctly, that seems sensible. An entirely local collection should be a matter more for the local authority than the Secretary of State.

I come now to amendments Nos. 45 and 130. I cannot help but read out the note that my researcher put on amendment No. 130, which is that it does what it says on the tin. However, the amendments give rise to questions that are sometimes best not asked, partly because they may land all of us in Private Eye for having slightly spurious parliamentary debates at vast public expense, which do not make a great difference on the ground. Furthermore, during my experiences of fundraising, I never received one complaint from local collectors that they were not allowed to rattle their tins. People have more important things to worry about than that. There would be more risk of having complaints from local shop workers who might have to listen to the rattling of tins all day long outside their shops. Such provisions are best left out of the Bill.

Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley Conservative, Worthing West

We have not asked my hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Wight whether he was forbidden to shake his tin when the island was under Liberal control or whether it is still the same under Conservative control. The hon. Gentleman referred to the Ryde carnival collection. Can the Parliamentary Secretary say whether an unincorporated organisation like that, collecting money for a public purpose, is philanthropic, benevolent and charitable? If not, it would not be covered by the Bill.

Photo of Ed Miliband Ed Miliband Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)

We are having an incredibly important discussion about the amendments. I accept that the issue has been of concern to the hon. Member for Isle of Wight, but although the Bill was scrutinised heavily in another place, this part might not have received so much attention so I am glad that we have a proper chance to debate it today. I do not want to try the Committee’s patience too much at this late hour, but I want to put part 3 of the Bill on public charitable collections in context. It might benefit the Committee to know that, at present, the collections are governed by a combination of the Police, Factories etc. (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1916, which required individuals or charities to have a licence for street collection, and an order. Obviously, direct debit fundraising did not exist then.

The Act was subsequently amended by a 1974 order, which transferred the licensing responsibilities from the police under the 1916 Act to local authorities. That is important because it refers to something that the hon. Members for Isle of Wight and for Rochford and Southend, East said. Within the order, regulations governing conduct mean that no person shall collect in a manner likely to inconvenience or annoy any person. I suspect that that is from where the tin-rattling objections arose. The problem with that legislation, apart from the fact that it was drafted a long time ago, is, as I said on Second Reading, that it is inconsistent and bureaucratic. It is applied inconsistently throughout the country. Some local authorities use the legislation to allow hardly any public charitable collections. Some restrict direct debit fundraising to once a month. It is also bureaucratic because the local authority has an incredibly wide range of powers. For example, in authorising a collection, it has to make a judgment about whether that collection will raise sufficient resources to justify its taking place. In the middle of that rather complicated explanation, I give way to the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Bone).

Photo of Peter Bone Peter Bone Conservative, Wellingborough

Should we not rejoice in local democracy making local decisions? Are we not seeing this centralising Government wanting to impose their views on local democracy? Does the Parliamentary Secretary agree?

Photo of Ed Miliband Ed Miliband Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)

No. Surprise, surprise—I do not. We are trying to develop minimum standards across the country, while ensuring local discretion. What does the Bill suggest? It suggests two things—first, that organisations that want to collect in public will have to apply for a public collection certificate, which will be issued for five years, from the Charity Commission. I am determined to ensure that that process will be non-bureaucratic, and one that will give a sense of the bona fides of a collecting organisation.

Secondly, if an organisation wants to engage in street collections, it must apply to the local authority for permission to do so. That already happens. We are doing an interesting thing, which should reassure the Committee, in the Bill. Clause 60, which is very important, concerns the refusal of permits. We shall come to that later, although it relates to the amendments that we are discussing.

The clause provides narrowly circumscribed reasons for why a collection can be turned down—for example, if it would cause undue inconvenience to members of the public. However, the clause sets out certain clear reasons: the day or days of the week, the time, the frequency and the locality or localities in which the collection takes place.

There has been huge consultation on the issue, with local authority licensing officers, the Institute of Fundraising and a range of parties, all of which have different and often contradictory demands. In simple terms, we are trying to balance the need for charities to collect on the street. There has been huge growth, particularly in direct-debit fundraising, on the streets. The hon. Member for Cheltenham was part of that—not collecting on the streets, but working for an organisation that did so. He was not a chugger, but, as someone said to me, an Ã1/4ber-chugger. We need to strike a balance between the need to raise money on the street and the questions of public nuisance that were also raised on Second Reading.

I turn to the amendments. Amendment No. 45 stands in the name of the hon. Member for Cheltenham. I am not sure whether he has completely thought through the effects of his amendment, which would exclude all private property—including privately owned sections of the highway, the common parts of shopping centres, supermarket forecourts and railway station concourses—from the regulation. Perhaps he wants all that; he wants such a provision to apply to Tesco’s car parks. However, if we are to respond to people’s worries about lots of charity fundraising taking place in a concentrated area, we need to work out where that is happening and give a proportionate response. The Bill tries to do that.

Photo of Rob Flello Rob Flello Labour, Stoke-on-Trent South

I cite the case of Longton in my constituency, where the large Tesco’s car park is used by people using shops other than the very large Tesco store. It has effectively become a public access route to the rest of the shopping area well away from the Longton Tesco, which I have now plugged twice, although I did not mean to. Would my hon. Friend accept that there are places throughout the country where what would seem to be a private area is very much a public one?

Photo of Ed Miliband Ed Miliband Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)

I agree with my hon. Friend. He puts the point extremely well.

It is difficult to create such a definition. The broad definition of a public place was not widely supported, particularly by the Institute of Fundraising, in responses to consultation on the new licensing scheme.  I hope that that will satisfy the hon. Gentleman. Again, we are trying to strike a balance between allowing fundraising to take place and properly regulating it.

That brings me to amendment No. 130, the tin-rattling amendment. I am sympathetic to the concerns of the hon. Members who proposed amendments Nos. 145 and 130. I have good news for them. The 1974 regulations contained a rather catch-all phrase about inconvenience or annoyance, which has been interpreted as an objection to tin-rattling. With respect to the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Bone), the reasons for refusal of a permit are now drawn significantly more narrowly in clause 60. That will make it possible for such collections to take place without putting authorisation for tin-rattling in the Bill.

Photo of Andrew Turner Andrew Turner Conservative, Isle of Wight 6:45, 11 July 2006

Will the Minister tell me whether any qualification apart from reasonableness attaches to clause 59(5)(b)?

Photo of Ed Miliband Ed Miliband Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)

Clause 59(5)(b) is relevant, but it must be read in conjunction with clause 60, which deals with the grounds for permit refusal. The hon. Gentleman could tell me what he is getting at, but it seems to me that the material part of that provision is in clause 60(1), which sets out the grounds on which a permit can be refused by local authorities.

Photo of Andrew Turner Andrew Turner Conservative, Isle of Wight

I shall give an example. I am pleased to say that my local authority has just rejected recommendations from its officers that all taxis should be painted silver, which seems patently absurd. One can rely on the good sense of the now Conservative-controlled Isle of Wight council to have done that. It might be, as my hon. Friend the Member for Worthing, West suggested, that tin-rattling is banned on the Isle of Wight because it was under Liberal control for more than 20 years.

It is one thing to refuse a permit and to limit the reasons for which a local authority can do so, but it is another thing to attach damn-fool conditions such as “They must wear a tabard with the name of the charity on it” or “They must stand to the left of a lamp post and not on the side towards the road”. That is exactly the sort of thing that local authority environmental health officers love dreaming up and imposing. I accept that, fortunately, more and more councils have sensible Conservative councillors to reject such conditions, but even so, some are taken in.

Photo of Ed Miliband Ed Miliband Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)

I think that the hon. Gentleman’s remarks would be best directed to the hon. Member for Wellingborough, who is desperately keen for more local devolution, whereas the hon. Member for Isle of Wight seems to want us to hem in local authorities’ discretion as much as possible. The Government have more trust in local authorities than he does; perhaps we have more in common with the hon. Member for Wellingborough. Reasonableness is in the clause, and that will prevent the rather strange examples that he mentioned. I hope that I have provided some reassurance on the amendment.

That brings me to amendment No. 145. I agree with the hon. Member for Cheltenham in principle that all  door-to-door collectors should carry identity badges, but that is an operational matter that does not need to be included in the Bill. We propose to cover it in the regulation that will be issued by the relevant Minister to ensure that identity badges for door-to-door collectors are prescribed in a form applicable across England and Wales. In preparing the regulations on such a detailed issue, we want to consult widely and I am happy for the hon. Gentleman and other members of the Committee to be kept up to date.

Amendments Nos. 143 and 115 were tabled by my hon. Friend for Bishop Auckland. They have not been moved, but I shall address them briefly because they raise some issues that are relevant to the other amendments and that we shall discuss in the context of clause 60. I think that my hon. Friend was essentially concerned about the grounds for refusal in clause 60(2)(b). That provision attempts to strike a balance between not allowing essentially blanket refusal of any collecting by local authorities, while at the same time not tying their hands. It is in same spirit as the views of the hon. Member for Wellingborough. We are not trying to tie the hands of the local authority to an excessive degree, though I cited the apparently true example of local authorities that allow collections only once a month. Subsection (2)(b) essentially says that a local authority may refuse a street collection in a particular locality if there has been a collection the day before or the day after. What that will mean is that local authorities cannot simply permit one collection a month and prevent others from collecting. We are trying to strike a balance.

Photo of Martin Horwood Martin Horwood Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

The idea that any council would be able to reduce face-to-face fundraising to once a month is extraordinary. It would be a disastrous.

Photo of Martin Horwood Martin Horwood Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

I do not think they are able to do it. The officials are shaking their heads, so I may be wrong, but very few councils have successfully managed to restrict collecting in that way. The PFRA is concerned that councils might take clause 60(2)(b) and interpret it in the most restrictive way possible, so that collecting would be restricted in effect to two days a week. The Minister shrugs but, as I said, this is not a cost-free exercise—it means less income and fewer resources for charities of the kind that we are trying to support. If the strictest possible interpretation is made, we may not be tying the hands of councils but we may be allowing them to tie the hands of charities unduly.

Photo of Ed Miliband Ed Miliband Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)

That is the dilemma we all face in politics—the balance between national decision making and top-down centralisation, as the Liberal Democrats often call it, and leaving things to the discretion of local authorities. We are providing a degree of discretion for local authorities—not enough for the hon. Member for Wellingborough, but too much for the hon. Member for Cheltenham. I am not sure about the hon. Member for Isle of Wight. It is a dilemma, and perhaps in the spirit of the Quaker friends, we have tried to reach a consensus. I was not involved in the reaching of the consensus—it was before my time—but, as I understand it, we have  reached a consensus with the local authorities who were concerned about the way that the Bill would tie their hands in refusing collections. I hope that that will satisfy the Committee.

I should also deal with amendment No. 46, which was tabled by the hon. Member for Isle of Wight. The Government accept that there should be different levels of regulation for different types of collections, and that is why the Bill proposes that certificates and permits need not be obtained for collections that are local and short-term in nature. However, it is essential to have some basic safeguards for the conduct of collectors involved in all types of collections. Certain respondents to our public consultation expressed concerns that small, local collections were often the ones most susceptible to fraud and abuse. Nevertheless, I can reassure the hon. Member for Isle of Wight that it will be possible to have different regulations for different types of collection. Some requirements, such as the requirement for collectors to have photographic identity cards, ill apply to street and house-to-house collections that we would not expect to be met by exempt local short-term collections. We will consult widely on the matter and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not press his amendment.

I hope that I have dealt with the concerns of the Committee on a difficult subject. We should be honest that it is a hard balance to strike, but I hope that Members will think that we are striking the right balance.

Photo of Martin Horwood Martin Horwood Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

I am impressed by the spirit in which the Minister is addressing the amendments. I hope that he will take on board many of the remarks that have been made. I am reassured by some of the things that he has said, but not about the issues addressed by amendment No. 144. It seems that for the law to step in and restrict relationships between consenting charities and shopping precincts, or even Tesco car parks, is an undue restriction.

Alun Michaelindicated dissent.

Photo of Martin Horwood Martin Horwood Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

The right hon. Gentleman is shaking his head, but I speak with some experience. The Alzheimer’s Society was Tesco charity of the year, and we know how much administration is involved in running a large national charitable appeal. To add many burdensome permit applications when collections are happening on private property seems to be an undue restriction.

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Labour, Cardiff South and Penarth

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that he is over-concentrating on the question of the ownership of the property rather than on whether there is general public access? I suggest that he is allowing his previous professional experience to stand in the way of the expectations of the general public. We all have experience of such issues as constituency Members.

Photo of Martin Horwood Martin Horwood Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

I hope that I am not allowing anything to stand in my way, but that I am allowing it to inform what I am saying. The Bill already places much greater restrictions on face-to-face and door-to-door fundraising than previously existed. That includes  public collections in the street and door-to-door collections. I welcome that, and I know that the Institute of Fundraising welcomes it, too. I am dealing only with the minority of examples where collections have been agreed between the owner of something like a shopping precinct and a particular charity. It seems that that would be an area where the law did not need to intrude. However, I sense that the will of the Committee is not sympathetic, so I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Ed Miliband Ed Miliband Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)

I beg to move amendmentNo. 175, page 53, line 21, leave out ‘to give money or other property’ and insert ‘which is—

(i) an appeal to them to give money or other property, or

(ii) an appeal falling within subsection (4),

(or both) and’.

Photo of Joan Humble Joan Humble Labour, Blackpool North and Fleetwood

With this it will be convenient to discuss the Government amendments Nos. 176, 180, 183, 188 to 190, 177 and 178.

Photo of Ed Miliband Ed Miliband Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)

We have tried to avoid cluttering up the Committee with lots of Government amendments, and I apologise that there are quite so many in this group. I shall explain them briefly, because they are mainly technical.

Amendments Nos. 175 and 176 are simply technical changes recommended by the draftsperson to improve the wording of clause 45, and they do not change the effect of the provisions. The other amendments do make a change and I shall explain briefly why I think that that is necessary. The Police, Factories, etc. (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1916, which I mentioned earlier, regulates charitable collections in the street. The provisions of the Bill will replace those provisions. However, it has been pointed out to us that the scope of the 1916 Act is wider than merely regulating public charitable, philanthropic or benevolent collections. The hon. Member for Worthing, West might have raised that point. Although no regulations are being made to regulate other types of collections, we think it prudent to retain the power for local authorities to regulate collections that are not charitable, philanthropic or benevolent in nature. We are responding to requests from local authorities on that. The circumstances that were mentioned to us include collections that involve animal rights activists, where the purposes of the collections were clearly not charitable, philanthropic or benevolent.

Government amendment No. 180 will retain the provision in the 1916 Act to enable local authorities to regulate non-charitable collections, provided that they are consistent with regulations made by the Secretary of State. Government amendments Nos. 178, 183, 189 and 190 are consequential amendments. I hope that the Committee will see the value of retaining those provisions.

Photo of Andrew Turner Andrew Turner Conservative, Isle of Wight 7:00, 11 July 2006

I am concerned to hear that the Minister is restricting the controls over collections more tightly than was the intention. I suppose that it makes no difference to the man in the street whether the collection is for a charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institution or for someone else—the disturbance may be no greater and no less.

Photo of Ed Miliband Ed Miliband Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)

Perhaps I did not make myself clear. We are not imposing further restrictions, but we have had pointed out to us that although the Bill will regulate charitable collections, non-charitable collections were in danger of being left unregulated. We were replacing the Police, Factories, etc. (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1916 with the Bill, but leaving non-charitable collections unregulated.

Photo of Andrew Turner Andrew Turner Conservative, Isle of Wight

I understand what the Minister is saying. In other words, the provisions are not a re-regulatory measure, but equally they are not a deregulatory measure.

I apologise if I have misunderstood, but perhaps I had better move on to my other objection and give myself and my hon. Friends a chance to think about what the group of amendments means for the sale of goods in the street for non-philanthropic, non-benevolent and non-charitable purposes by animal rights activists, for example. Exactly what regulatory mechanism is the Minister proposing?

Photo of Ed Miliband Ed Miliband Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)

Essentially, my understanding is that the provisions restore the status quo in relation to non-charitable collections. The problem with our drafting—and I apologise for this—is that it did a fine job in relation to charitable collections, but left non-charitable collections unregulated. The Government’s amendments, which are highly technical, restore the status quo. If the hon. Gentleman did not object to the status quo before, I hope that he will not do so now.

Photo of Andrew Turner Andrew Turner Conservative, Isle of Wight

I do not object to the status quo, but I am trying to understand. Let me put myself into the position of an animal rights activist for one moment—or into the position of non-animal rights activist, because the Countryside Alliance could be affected as well as the League Against Cruel Sports. Let us say that a group is marching through the centre of London with about 400,000 people and that it wants to collect money. To whom would such a body apply for permission to collect money? If such a collection were part of a national appeal, who would occupy the position that the charity commissioners occupy in relation, say, to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children when it conducts a national street collection? Perhaps I do not know the answer to that question because I have misread or misunderstood the Government amendments, but I would be grateful if the Minister could assist me on that.

Photo of Rob Flello Rob Flello Labour, Stoke-on-Trent South

Perhaps I could give a further illustration; for example, the far right go from door to door in my constituency collecting money. Have I misunderstood the hon. Gentleman’s point or is he suggesting that he would prefer the NSPCC to be regulated, but for far right groups not to be regulated?

Photo of Andrew Turner Andrew Turner Conservative, Isle of Wight

The hon. Gentleman has misunderstood, but that is a perfectly reasonable question. I was asking who would stand in the place of the Charity Commission. The charity commissioners regulate the NSPCC, but who regulates the far right?

Photo of Ed Miliband Ed Miliband Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)

It is useful to have this discussion. The position is the status quo, which is as follows. In London, the relevant body will be the Metropolitan police and in the rest of country it will still be local authorities. The Charity Commission has no involvement. The hon. Gentleman might regard the position between the police and local authorities as anomalous, but that is a matter for another Bill, not this one.

Photo of Andrew Turner Andrew Turner Conservative, Isle of Wight

In that case, I am reasonably happy. I was concerned that the Charity Commission regulates whether the Conservative party could go from door to door collecting memberships. Sadly under this Bill, that is not defined as philanthropic or benevolent despite it obviously being both.

Photo of Andrew Turner Andrew Turner Conservative, Isle of Wight

Certainly, it is for public benefit. I believe that the Bill opens the way for the Conservative Party to become a registered charity because it fulfils all the public benefit requirements that are set out in this Bill. However, that was not the purpose of my rising to speak on this group of amendments.

My purpose was to raise a question that I raised with the Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the hon. Member for Wythenshawe and Sale, East (Paul Goggins) in a letter of 21 July about raffles—not the man, the ticket things.

Photo of Andrew Turner Andrew Turner Conservative, Isle of Wight

Nor the cigarettes.

I asked the Under-Secretary whether raffles would be allowed. He replied that a raffle for charitable, benevolent or philanthropic purposes—although presumably not for the far right—would come within the definition of a charitable appeal in clause 45(2)(b). It would be regulated under part 3 except where the exemption for local, short term collections applies or the raffle is not a public, charitable collection under clause 46. I understood from that explanation that a raffle would be regulated. The Minister’s amendments made it even clearer that a raffle will be regulated because it falls under amendmentNo. 176, which says that

“the making of an offer to sell goods or to supply members of the public.’.”

However, I am confused as to what amounts to a local, short-term collection.

If I give the Minister some examples, perhaps he would answer them. A raffle conducted at the Benbridge street fair by the Benbridge branch of the  Royal National Lifeboat Institution is probably local in character because it supports the Benbridge lifeboat, although it supports a national institution that funds lifeboats. The duration of the appeal is probably only for the one day of the Benbridge street fair.

On the other hand, what about the scenario in which the raffle is conducted by the Halifax branch of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution—were there such a branch—which presumably does not have its own local lifeboat? Does that amount to a local, short-term collection or to some other type of collection? What if an event takes place in Tesco’s car park, but it is a short-term local collection for the Isle of Wight branch of the Alzheimer’s Society? Does that count? Does it depend on whether the Alzheimer’s Society is a national institution with local branches or a series of local organisations with a national, federal headquarters?

Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley Conservative, Worthing West

I am not certain whether I have missed something. If someone believes that they are making a local short-term collection and they notify the local authority and the local authority responds either by doing nothing or serving a notice under subsection (4), page 57, it seems that duties have been fulfilled on both sides. The local authority either responds or it does not. If it does, it is challengeable. If it does not respond, it can be allowed to go ahead. I am not sure whether I have missed the point.

Photo of Andrew Turner Andrew Turner Conservative, Isle of Wight

From my reading of the Bill, it seems that my hon. Friend has hit on the point. I had hoped that the Minister would confirm that but my hon. Friend appears to have done so.

Photo of Andrew Turner Andrew Turner Conservative, Isle of Wight

I am not disappointed that my hon. Friend has confirmed it. I want to know whether his amendments make the position more onerous than the Bill as originally drafted and what exactly is meant by a “local collection”.

Photo of Ed Miliband Ed Miliband Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)

I will be brief. It is important to get this provision on short-term local collections right. The hon. Member for Worthing, West was correct. The intention is to enable locally organised small-scale collection activity to take place. Regulations will be drawn up, partly to help local authorities, to specify criteria that will include ensuring that the collection takes place in a small, defined area over a short period of time, is organised by a local promoter, does not form part of a series of collections and does not involve paid fundraisers. The hon. Gentleman is correct that the matter is to be referred to local authorities, on whose discretion and good judgment we will have partly to rely, in the spirit suggested by the hon. Member for Wellingborough. My amendments do not make the task more onerous.

Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley Conservative, Worthing West

The Parliamentary Secretary makes sensible suggestions in his amendments on restoring the situation for non-charitable, non-benevolent, non-philanthropic collections. Perhaps he might indicate on Report, if he cannot do so now, whether a subsequent change to the position for non-charitable, non-benevolent, non-philanthropic collections can be made under the regulation-making power that he will have  later on, or whether we will have, as I suspect, to look for something outside the Bill to do that.

Photo of Ed Miliband Ed Miliband Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)

We cannot do that. I suspected that we could not do so; I had a one-in-two chance.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment made: No. 176, page 53, line 35, leave out subsections (4) and (5) and insert—

‘(4) An appeal falls within this subsection if it consists in or includes—

(a) the making of an offer to sell goods or to supply services, or

(b) the exposing of goods for sale,

to members of the public.’.—[Edward Miliband.]

Clause 45, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Ed Miliband Ed Miliband Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)

I beg to move,

That paragraph (3) of the Order of the Committee of 4th July 2006 be amended by the substitution for ‘4.00 p.m.’ of‘9.00 p.m.’.

Members will be delighted to hear that that will enable them to debate until 9 pm on Thursday evening to ensure that there is proper scrutiny of the Bill, which is important. Proceedings have speeded up somewhat, although I hope that that is not to the detriment of scrutiny. I think that all parties felt that there might not be enough time for proper scrutiny to take place if we only had a four-and-a-half-hour sitting on Thursday afternoon. We have extended the deadline till 9 pm so we can sit for longer and ensure that there is proper scrutiny.

Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley Conservative, Worthing West

That is reasonable, although I should be surprised if we needed all that time. May I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the Minister and his officials, who have helped us to consider a number of issues reasonably?

Question put and agreed to.

Further consideration adjourned.—[Liz Blackman.]

Adjourned accordingly at fourteen minutes pastSeven o’clock till Thursday 13 July at Nine o’clock.