Third Sector at Large - Do you believe in a sanity clause? You won't after this

Public benefit, Lord Wei and the Cabinet Office are on our minds this week

Delays in the impending charity tribunal hearing about public benefit and private schools have been caused in part by some tetchy to-ing and fro-ing between the Independent Schools Council and the Charity Commission. They were arguing about how to address the case, and a labyrinthine series of hypothetical questions was finally thrashed out about Nowhere First School Limited and the bursaries and other benefits it might provide.

The resulting document for the court makes for challenging reading, including the notable sentence: "As in 1, but the school also does one only or some (and in both cases if so which) of the things listed in 2." It brings to mind the famous contract scene in the Marx Brothers film A Night at the Opera. You remember - "It says the first part of the party of the first part shall be known in this contract as the first part of the party of the first part ... " and so on, ad infinitum. When the case opens, perhaps they should charge for entry.

* Lord Wei, the government's youthful adviser on civil society, has already had a public spat with Stephen Bubb over his remarks on 'big charity'. How's he going down among the rest of the sector's chattering classes? Very clever, but may lack a certain amount of experience, comes the cautious response. One complained that you don't get a conversation with him - you receive a "brain-dump".

* We all know fundraisers are different and can't be relied upon to be fully PC. At the International Fundraising Congress last week, the consultant Daryl Upsall told his audience that attempts by face-to-face fundraisers to reclaim the sector's very own c-word - 'chugger' - would be like lesbians trying to reclaim the word 'dyke'. But he survived.

* At the Cabinet Office, they're clearly allowed to put two and two together and make five. One reader points out that the figures in its press notice last week don't add up correctly in four out of the five spending review years: for 2010/11, for example, £0.3bn and £0.0bn is added up to £0.4bn. And so on. Presumably it's to do with rounding up, but it doesn't say so. Still, it's only money, isn't it?

Mathew Little is away. Contact Third Sector at

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