What do you think about the delay to the Charities Bill?
I'm very disappointed at the delay because there have been ample opportunities for the second reading, at least in the House of Commons. The Government appears not to think it is urgent or important. It was last seen during the first reading in the House of Commons on 9 November 2005.
What's the reason for the delay?
I can't detect a reason at all. My suspicion is that it is because the Home Office was bogged down with other matters. That may be why the Government moved responsibility for it to Hilary Armstrong, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. The Government says charities are important, but it doesn't seem to treat them that way.
What are you particularly keen to debate?
I'm anxious that the fundraising element should be properly scrutinised. It's an element that even the House of Lords hasn't gone into in great detail. It could be because there is general agreement, but it needs to be looked at.
What are your concerns?
I know some backbench peers and Labour backbenchers in the Commons are anxious about the public benefit test - this may be why there is a delay.
I hope the delay is not because some deal is being arranged about changes to the public benefit test. That would make it very difficult to get the Bill through.
What is your position on this?
The Government's proposal is a reasonable compromise. There are some areas in which I think they have gone too far. For example, I don't see how the relief of poverty can be anything but charitable, so I don't understand why you need to have a further test of public benefit for that.