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Charities

Volume 130: debated on Thursday 31 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will take steps to amend the law governing charities so as to give the Charity Commission power to take action against a charity operating contrary to the law.

Charities are subject to the criminal law in the normal way. In addition, the Charity Commission has powers under sections 6 and 20 of the Charities Act 1960 to investigate any charity and where necessary take action to protect its property. The Government have accepted that the commission's powers for dealing with abuse should be strengthened in line with the recommendations of the Woodfield report, and will introduce legislation accordingly.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will take steps to amend the law governing charities to ensure that greater importance is attached to the methods by which the charity fulfils its objects.

Number of classesAverage number of inmates in each classTotal number of class hours
DayEvening
Birmingham3308·366
Leeds75367·2222
Pentonville64336·5193
Manchester44157·6109
Wandsworth47497·8209·5
Wormwood Scrubs21398·3120
Holloway1102208·6244
1 Figure includes vocational training.
As the Government's recent reply to the second report from the Select Committee on Education, Science and Arts on prison education makes clear, very positive efforts are being made to improve both the quantity and the quality of education in Prison Department establishments. The figures for a small selection of prisons, including some of our most overcrowded local establishments, should not be regarded as representative. At Birmingham, for instance,

Trustees are under a clear obligation to ensure that the method by which a charity fulfils its objects are within the law. Action can be taken against a charity wherever there is evidence that its activities are not in the public interest.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce legislation to ensure persons with convictions for dishonesty are not permitted to become charitable trustees.

One of the recommendations of the Woodfield report is that provision should be made that no person should, without the permission in writing of the commissioners, act as the trustee of a charity if they have been convicted of any offence involving fraud or dishonesty. The Government intend to introduce legislation to implement the Woodfield report's recommendations before the end of the life of this Parliament.