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Voluntary Organisations

Volume 511: debated on Wednesday 9 June 2010

3. What assessment he has made of the effects on voluntary organisations of the Government's regulatory and administrative requirements.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (Mr Nick Hurd): One of our priorities is to make it easier to run a voluntary organisation, so we are committed to clearing the thicket of bureaucracy that too often gets in the way of doing good and to setting up a joint task force with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to look at how we can reduce red tape for small organisations. (1343)

The requirements for people to obtain more than one Criminal Records Bureau check when working or volunteering with different community organisations is causing much duplication and expense, both to individuals and to community groups such as Crossroads Care Cheshire East in my constituency. Will the Minister consider reviewing the CRB check procedure and introducing one single registerable and transferrable check for each individual?

I welcome my hon. Friend to the House and wish her every success in following in some quite formidable footsteps. The point she makes is extremely important and that frustration has been expressed to me by a number of voluntary organisations. I hope that she will be pleased to know that, in the coalition agreement, the Government are committed to reviewing the criminal records and vetting and barring regime and I will make sure that the relevant Minister in the Home Office is aware of her concerns. She and I will be following that review very closely.

I welcome the hon. Gentleman to his new and important role. Given statements made in recent days by the Prime Minister and others about deep and early cuts in public spending at the same time as statements about an extended role for voluntary organisations in the delivery of public services, I am sure that, as the Minister for the voluntary sector, he will want to move swiftly to reassure anyone who thinks that there is any suggestion that this means that the Government want to get public services on the cheap. He will want to rebut that suggestion very swiftly. Therefore, will he confirm to Members on both sides of the House who value greatly the work of voluntary organisations that he and other Ministers will uphold the compact with voluntary organisations and, in particular, the commitment to three-year funding as a minimum and to full recovery of costs for volunteering?

Again, I am afraid that that question was a little on the long side. I know that the answer will not be.

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point, but it is a bit rich coming from a member of a Government one of whose last acts involved the breaching of the compact by the then Minister for the third sector. The compact is an important framework for the relationship between the state and the sector at a very important time in its development. We want the sector to work more closely with the state and the compact has an important part to play in making sure that that relationship works productively.