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Charitable Work

Volume 559: debated on Thursday 7 March 2013

8. What assessment the Church Commissioners have made of the steps taken by the Government to support the role of churches and faith groups in their charitable work since May 2010. (146572)

The charitable and voluntary work of the Church at local and national levels is so diverse and varied that it is difficult to generalise about the impact of recent Government policy on it. One positive development has been funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government for the Near Neighbours programme. That is managed by the Church of England through the Church Urban Fund and does much to promote understanding between people of different faith communities in different parts of the country.

Will my hon. Friend use his good offices to lobby the Government to review the public benefit test in terms of its application by the Charity Commission to religious groups, so that we may avoid the situation ever again in which the Christian Brethren are discriminated against but pagan religions are given charitable status?

The previous Parliament decided that there should be a public benefit test for religious groups. If it is felt that the Charity Commission is applying the public benefit test incorrectly, I suspect that that is a matter for judicial review.