Charitable Registration — [Jim Dobbin in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:30 pm on 13th November 2012.

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Photo of Fiona Bruce Fiona Bruce Conservative, Congleton 2:30 pm, 13th November 2012

That is a good point. It is also particularly concerning that in coming to its decision, the Charity Commission has decided not to treat as a precedent a High Court case some 30 years ago, Holmes v. Attorney-General, which held that the Plymouth Brethren’s Kingston Meeting Rooms Trust was a valid charitable trust, despite the Brethren’s well-known “separatist distinctives”; I am not sure that we would use that term now. The Court did so because those who were not members of the Brethren, provided that they came in the proper spirit and not a spirit of levity, were allowed to attend meetings of the Brethren other than Holy Communion and business meetings and furthermore because the Plymouth Brethren publicly attempt to evangelise by conducting campaigns in the streets and open spaces similar to the Salvation Army. Mr Justice Walton concluded in that case, which has held for 30 years, that

“it appears to be quite impossible on the evidence to come to the conclusion that there is a lack of benefit to the public”.