On numerous occasions over the last few years I have noticed that MPs when speaking about charities have betrayed a great degree of ignorance. It is always fantastic when the opportunity arises to write about MPs who indicate a real grasp of the way in which charities and the voluntary sector operates. One of these MPs is Wes Streeting, Labour MP for Ilford North. He was speaking on Tuesday during a debate on the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill which if passed without a great deal of changes will be a very damaging law. However the discussions that are ongoing in the House of Commons do offer the potential for that to happen. Mr Streeting said as part of his contribution:
It is important that the public have confidence in the vibrant voluntary sector throughout the UK. It is worth stating that, considering the professionalism of the work that takes place in the sector as a whole, the public should have that confidence. In a week where there has been some unhelpful and, I would argue, misleading coverage about the quality of charities and the way in which donors’ money is spent, it is worth repeating that case, because there is a lot of mischief-making going on. It is important to have in place the right regulatory framework to give the public confidence, but whenever we pass legislation in this place we should ask ourselves what problem we are trying to solve; whether the approach we are considering would be effective; and, most importantly, whether the legislation is proportionate. The measures in clause 1 fail many of those tests.
It is worth pointing out that the state also gains a great benefit from charities. As my hon. Friend the Member for Hove said, many voluntary sector organisations deliver public services. I would also argue that the voluntary sector is increasingly picking up the slack and the burden of a lot of public sector cuts by supporting some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in society.
It is easy to find fault with our MPs and so rather than doing so on this occasion I wanted to say well done Mr Streeting. Your constituents have an MP who is well informed and prepared to speak out on behalf of others. Thank you.