Charitable Registration — [Jim Dobbin in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:42 pm on 13th November 2012.

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Photo of Sheila Gilmore Sheila Gilmore Labour, Edinburgh East 3:42 pm, 13th November 2012

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Dobbin. I congratulate Fiona Bruce not only on the way in which she presented the debate, but on the way in which she included so many people, giving a lot of hon. Members an opportunity to air their views through speeches and interventions. It has been a good example of how this part of the parliamentary process can work and enable people to express their views.

The 2006 Act was not intended to prevent religious organisations from doing their vital work. That was said by Ministers at the time, as many Members have mentioned. I was not a Member of the House then, but I know that the intention was sincere. It was not simply an attempt to cover up the aim of narrowing down those organisations that could receive the benefits of charitable status. We have to hold to that as the stated intention; it still is the position of the Opposition. It is true that the Act stated that no particular type of charity—not only religious charities, but others too—should have an automatic presumption of public benefit. Until that is changed, that is the view that has been taken.