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

Yes. Professor Rivers says that the law on the registration of religious charities

“is not completely clear and coherent… careful legal analysis and authoritative restatement would be helpful.”

One area of concern and confusion that he highlights is what we mean by the phrase “a section of the public” in relation to religious charities. If an organisation is to pass the test for charitable registration, a section of the public must benefit, but are not members of a denomination—the Methodists, for example—also members of the public? It has been suggested that the Charity Commission is trying to turn the question on its head by thinking of a class as restricted and therefore not consisting of members of the public, rather than as public because it is, on the face of it, open to all. The issue sounds complicated, but it is very important in the Plymouth Brethren case, in which it is clear that openness is a crucial factor in the Charity Commission’s thinking.