Recent Developments and Future Directions
Edited by Myles McGregor-Lowndes and Kerry O’Halloran
Chapter 2: England and Wales: Pemsel Plus
Lindsay Driscoll INTRODUCTION – HISTORY There is a long history of attempts at reform of charity law and proposals for a statutory definition in England and Wales. As far back as 1952 the Nathan Committee recommended a statutory definition of charity based on the Pemsel categories which preserved the existing case law1 but the legislation that followed, the Charities Act 1960, which introduced charity registration, omitted this recommendation. The next major report on charity law was the Goodman Committee Report2 of 1976, which recommended an updated list of the objects contained in the 1601 Preamble, but no action was taken on this. The Charities Act 1992, which followed the White Paper Charities: a Framework for the Future, introduced major reforms of charity law, mainly with regard to the regulation and accountability of charities, but again omitted any reference to definition. In each case there was a reluctance on the part of government to open the floodgates of debate on problem cases within existing charitable purposes and calls for new ones from a wide range of interest groups. Over fifty years after the first recommendation, the statutory definition finally reached the statute book in 2006 but in all the debates and press coverage this has been totally overshadowed by discussion of the new emphasis on public benefit, particularly how this will affect fee-charging charitable schools and religious charities. It is the public benefit aspect rather than any extension of charitable purposes which is seen to be the modernising element. It has been...
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