Clause 5

Part of National Insurance Contributions Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:15 pm on 7th December 2010.

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Photo of Richard Harrington Richard Harrington Conservative, Watford 5:15 pm, 7th December 2010

You correctly reprimanded me before, Mr Howarth, for making an intervention the size of a speech. I shall now try to make a speech the size of an intervention to balance things up.

There were one or two points in previous speeches that I felt I should comment on, and perhaps explain the reason why I do not feel that the amendment is a good thing. First, I congratulate the hon. Member for Walthamstow on quoting Latin. It is the first time that I have heard that done in these proceedings, although—to be a bit pompous about it—we were actually taught  that the “c” in ceteris paribus should be pronounced as an “s”, although that was 31 years ago. The hon. Lady made a very important point about the complexities of setting up a trading business compared with a charity. I have tried both, and it is a lot easier for a charity to set up a trading company than it is to go through all the Charity Commission’s paperwork to become a charity—that is actually the hard bit. It is quite easy to separate commercial activities, which would get the benefits of the holiday if they were in the right area, from the charitable institution.

The hon. Member for Luton South made the point that that many charities have changed dramatically and become part of the public sector. That is certainly true in my constituency of Watford, much known and loved by the right hon. Member for Delyn, who seems to enjoy mentioning it on any occasion—I am very grateful for that. Mencap is a very good example. When my late father was in charge of it some 30 years ago, 95% of its income came from voluntary contributions and 5% from different organs of state. That has completely reversed. However much we all support charities, and for all that they are excellent institutions with social benefits—and are, actually, a very efficient way of spending public money—they get plenty of benefits.