Return of Charities Bill ends eight-month wait

The Charities Bill is to return to Parliament before the start of the summer recess, ending an eight-month delay since its first reading in the Commons last November.

Westminster sources have confirmed that the minister for the third sector, Ed Miliband, has told parliamentary colleagues the Bill will have its second reading before the house rises on 25 July for a two-and-a-half month break.

The news was greeted with enthusiasm by sector representatives and has allayed fears that the Bill might not return until the end of the year, if at all.

Downing Street has recently been involved in discussions on how to handle the Bill, including its new public benefit test, which has implications for the charitable status of private schools.

If the public benefit proposals are not strengthened, the Government could face a backbench rebellion that would leave it relying on Conservative votes for a Commons majority, as it did with the Education Bill.

Andrew Turner, shadow minister for charities, told Third Sector he hoped the delay had not been caused by a deal to make changes to the public benefit test.

Pete Moorey, parliamentary and media manager at the NCVO, said: "We'll obviously be very pleased if it does come back in the next few weeks. We've been wanting to see it and for it to make progress."

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