'Rebel' MPs lobbied on Charities Bill contents

Mathew Little

Voluntary sector representatives are to meet 'rebel' Labour MPs on Monday to discuss amendments to the Charities Bill.

Representatives from the NCVO, the Directory of Social Change and the RNID will meet Labour MPs, including John Grogan and John McDonnell, to examine alternative ways of strengthening the Bill's public benefit test.

Labour MPs have shown interest in both Lord Phillips' amendment, which requires the Charity Commission to take account of the impact of fees on public benefit, and the stronger 2005 Scottish Charities Act, which denies charitable status to organisations whose public benefit is "unduly restrictive".

Stephen Lloyd, partner at law firm Bates Wells & Braithwaite, who will chair the meeting, said: "The strong possibility is that the Bill will be passed in its current form only through a coalition of Government loyalists and Conservatives - like the Education Bill. The concern is that the Government won't pu t it through at all."

Grogan said that most MPs still had open minds on what amendments to put down. "But Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs believe the public test should be a rigorous one," he said.

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