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November 05, 2006

The Charities Bill

I'm sorry, you what?

Next week, the new Charities' Bill will finish its passage through Parliament. It should become law before the end of the year. In spite of being billed as "the biggest review of charity legislation in the past 400 years", it has generated very little comment. This is surprising, because the Bill will vastly increase the power of the Charities' Commission to dissolve charities, confiscate their endowments and assets, and give them to what the Commission considers a more genuinely "charitable" cause.
If they do not, the Commission will declare the organisation no longer a charity. And then, under the new Bill, its endowments can be seized and given to a charity of whose aims the bureaucrats do approve.

We've really come to this? That a bureaucracy can confiscate the assets of a charity? Think of this for a moment. There are those who think that SPUC (or whatever it is called now) is actively evil because it campaigns for what some think of as a restriction of women's rights. There are other charities (Marie Stopes for example?) who actively campaign on the other side of the same question, insisting that, as some would have it, children are being killed to maintain those same women's rights.

It doesn't take all that much imagination to think that we might at some point in the future have a government or bureaucracy that is more extreme than the one we have, coming down firmly on one or other side of this particular thorny question.

And we're going to give the bureaucracy the right to take the money of one and give it to the other?

Law shouldn't be based on the idea that we are ruled by the wise and the benevolent: it should in fact be drafted so as to protect us from the possible effects of the not wise and benevolent gaining power.

OK; yes, I agree, this is alarmist, but think of what might happen to Liberty if they piss off John Reid one to many times?

This law is an absolute godsend to any wannabe dictator type (for of course, we'll not have one of those with the jackboots, but we might well get one by bureaucracy):  civil society can be simply reordered by a quango's fiat.

How did we get into this mess?

November 5, 2006 in Your Tax Money at Work | Permalink


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Tracked on Nov 21, 2006 1:30:32 AM


>"Law shouldn't be based on the idea that we are ruled by the wise and the benevolent"<

You're not kidding. Law should be based on the certainty that we are ruled by misanthropic, bloviate, trotters-in-the-swill, smug, self-satisfied, hypocritical, power-crazed, expense fiddling, drunken, womanising sociopaths. And the male MPs are no better.

Posted by: furriskey | Nov 5, 2006 11:11:04 AM

"How did we get into this mess?" We voted for Tonito, who pollutes everything he comes into contact with.

Posted by: dearieme | Nov 5, 2006 12:10:29 PM

It all goes through by stealth, with those in power pretending what they are doing is fine and reasonable, putting forward a general fine-looking principle under which the specific dangerous applications of that principle are hiding. Add to that an apathetic population and the lack of a media that publicises what is happening, and you have the result.

Posted by: Terry | Nov 5, 2006 12:57:52 PM

"How did we get into this mess?"
We voted in New Labour, the political mission of which has always been to set up the conditions for a dictatorship.

Posted by: chris | Nov 5, 2006 8:22:11 PM

I can't foresee the RNLI or Oxfam getting rolled over by ZaNU Labour's principled objections quite yet, but how long before the Charitable status of single sex, private schools gets attacked and all that endowment capital, those healthy bursary funds, those manicured playing fields and state of the art science labs become enrolled into the state education sector?

Posted by: Tinxx | Nov 6, 2006 2:12:46 PM

So how do we stop charities (especially charitable foundations) pissing away taxpayers' and donors' money however they like? A serious question. Answers ideally to http://www.intelligentgiving.com (a not-for-profit regulated by Companies House)

Posted by: Dave | Nov 7, 2006 8:15:43 PM