News special: Charities Bill - Tories to support the amended Bill

Government amendments to the Charities Bill have been welcomed by the Conservative Party, which seems likely to back the Bill at its report stage in the Commons today.

Andrew Turner, the Tory spokesman on the voluntary sector, said the most significant concession was the definition of sport, which will now include mental as well as physical exertion, allowing charitable status for chess, billiards and darts clubs.

Turner said he was pleased that one of the definitions of charitable purpose had been extended so that charities such as the Police Dependants' Trust would definitely be included.

The Government had also accepted that the work of the Charity Commission should be scrutinised by a Commons select committee, expected to be the Public Administration Committee.

"This has been a very good Bill as far as working with MPs is concerned," Turner said. "We support it and there is nothing major left for us to moan about."

Turner said he would be unlikely to pursue his earlier proposal that the presumption of public benefit should be restored for education, religion and the relief of poverty. But there was still "concern from both sides" on how charities should demonstrate public benefit, he said. "Some think long-standing charities are going to get caught, and I continue to ask how religious organisations can show public benefit.

"On the other hand, there are those with long-standing opposition to fee-charging charities who will be backing the amendment put down by John Grogan."

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