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Adam Afriyie: Will the Economic Secretary tell us about the research and the facts and figures that he used to analyse the clause's effect on the various museums throughout the country? Instead of the assertions and individual points that have been made today, I should like know what quantitative analysis has been conducted.
Mr. Lewis: My hon. Friend the Financial Secretary was described as reasonable for the way in which he dealt with the consultations. A significant period of re-evaluating and analysing the provision that we wanted to introduce has taken place to ensure that it did not have unintended consequences. I want to cite some expert and relevant stakeholders. According to my briefing, Sam Mullins is chairman of the Association of Independent Museums, although the hon. Member for Rayleigh had a different person fulfilling that role. Perhaps we need to check. However, Sam Mullins is a world expert on such matters. He said:
"The need to attract an additional donation of 10% will be a challenge. But one advantage is that it gives us the opportunity to communicate our educational and charitable objectives to visitors. We look forward to working with Government to promote public awareness and buy-in to the concept of Gift Aid."
It is important to put clause 11 in context. The exemption of rights of admission as a benefit was first granted in the Finance Act 1989 in relation to charitable deeds of covenant and was applied to gift aid as part of the 2000 reforms. As many hon. Members have said, the exemption applied only to specific heritage and conservation charities.
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Some unintended consequences of the changes to gift aid donations have come to light. The clause tries to maintain the original objectives of generating new and additional giving and increase the range of charities that might benefit from the exemption while closing down the unintended consequences. The hon. Member for Rayleigh was fair enough to acknowledge that the consequences of the provision would be to increase the overall number of charities that benefit from the exemptions.
Mr. Lewis: I cannot do that now, but I shall write to the hon. Gentleman. We will have a comprehensive list of the charities that are known to us but we will not know of every single charity in the country. However, we know from consultation that the scope of the Bill covers a far larger number of charitable organisations than would be supported through sustaining the status quo. Although the hon. Member for Rayleigh tabled amendments on specific aspects, the thrust of the Opposition contribution has been to question the principle of the changes. Without clause 11, the additional charitable organisations would not be in a position to benefit.
Mr. Francois: Before the Economic Secretary writes his letter in response to the reasonable question of my hon. Friend the Member for Ludlow (Mr. Dunne), will he confirm that the Treasury's regulatory impact assessment admits that it does not know how many charities will be affected?
Mr. Lewis: I just said that. I said that it is impossible to know the exact number of charities that are affected. However, my hon. Friend the reasonable man, who was described as reasonable because of his handling of the consultation, sat down with the stakeholder organisations and assessed the impact. We did not do it simply as a paper exercise or conduct the regulatory impact assessment in an abstract way. We have spoken over a period to the relevant organisations and we have been assured. The scope of legislation will be extended to support a significant additional number of voluntary organisations. I do not have the precise figure to hand but I will endeavour to give the hon. Member for Ludlow as much information as I can.
Mr. Greg Knight (East Yorkshire) (Con): Many of us are interested in this important point. Rather than merely writing to my hon. Friend the Member for Ludlow (Mr. Dunne), will the Minister place a copy of his letter in the Library so that we can all see his answer?
Mr. Lewis: I welcome the right hon. Gentleman to the Chamber. Perhaps he has been in the Library reading letters that I have been writing to his colleagues. If it will help, of course I am happy to place in the Library any answer that I give to the hon. Gentleman.
I want to put the matter into context. The clause provides details of property where the right of admission will be disregarded as a benefit where a donor is given a
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right of admission to view that property. It is an important point that the list is not intended to be exhaustive. It is a guide to the types of property held by a charity where a right of admission to view that property will benefit from the exemption. The rights of admission must meet the other requirements of clause 11 to qualify. When I write to the hon. Member for Ludlow, it is important that we consider the other element in the issue.
It is important also that the clause makes a clear distinction between simple payments to view the property of a charity and donations to a charity demonstrating a commitment and gift beyond the simple admission price. As has been said, to be eligible the donation must be at least 10 per cent. higher than the cost of the equivalent right of admission, or secure unlimited rights of admission for 12 months during all times when the site is open to the public.
The hon. Member for Richmond Park raised the question of the practical implementation of these changes. My hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Rob Marris) pointed out that a dialogue has to take place on the implications of the proposals. It is also true that a qualitative dialogue between the charity and the individual visiting that charitable organisation is surely in the interests of that voluntary organisation.
A specific objective of gift aid is to build a sustainable and credible long-term relationship that is meaningful with the donor base. Potentially, for entrepreneurial voluntary organisations, it is a real opportunity to help them go further in terms of their original intentions in the context of the gift aid scheme. We are aware that there are practical implementations to consider. We do not seek to deny that. In the long run, once people have become used to changewe know that change is never easythe position of charitable organisations that use the clause positively and practically could be enhanced.
It is important that I respond directly to the amendments, which were presented in a reasonable and fair way, but we are not convinced by them. I shall deal first with amendment No. 36. The list of types of property in clause 11 is not exhaustive. Where charities meet the other conditions of the clause, they will be able to use gift aid. I can confirm that the list, in terms of guidelines, will specifically include interactive experiments with an educational purpose. We can allay the fears that have been expressed about that.
Military memorabilia would also be included in the list. As I have said, the list as published is not exhaustive. The two specific examples that have been raised during the debate will be included in it.
Effectively, the Minister has said that he has accepted amendment No. 36 in that the guidelines that the Treasury will produce will incorporate that, too. I thank him for that. Can he give the Committee some idea of when those guidelines will be availableat least
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the month in which they will appearas those museums and charities that might be affected will want to get their hands on them as soon as possible?
Amendment No. 35, which would reduce the 12-month period to three months by allowing gift aid to apply when the right of admission is granted for only three months, would diminish the distinction between paying an admission charge and making a gift that generates an ongoing relationship between the donor and the charitythe point that I was making earlier. That undermines an important principle of gift aid, which is about additional giving or additionality. Furthermore, a short period might encourage charities to manipulate the scheme when they think that it is unlikely that visitors will come back within such a three-month period: they could offer a three-month season ticket for a donation equivalent to a single admission and ensure that gift aid applies, rather than asking for a donation that is 10 per cent. more than that admission. We believe that the principles of gift aid are very important, and that the 12-month period is about right for sustaining those principles. It is also important to mention that there is no requirement to offer annual membership for the same price as a single admission. That decision is for the charity, taking account of the relevant circumstances.
Amendment No. 1 relates to the definition of "family". With regard to the contribution from the hon. Member for Wimbledon, one must ask whether a ménage à trois would qualify as part of a definition of the term. The key point about the legislation and guidance is that it is for the charity to determine what constitutes an accompanying family. Therefore, it will be for the charity to determine whether the definition relates to a relatively small number of people or a far more significant number of people. The scenario given on Second Reading by the hon. Member for Wimbledon, I think, raised the issue of what happens when one takes one's children and their friends to visit a museum. Clearly, those friends are not part of one's immediate family. Under the legislation and guidance, which we wish to keep as flexible as possible, it is absolutely clear that it is for the charity to define the term "family". In my view, there is a danger of an unintended consequence if we refer to 20 individuals, as charities might assume that that is the norm or median. As far as I am concerned, it makes sense to leave the provision as it is, whereby the individual charity defines flexibly, in this context, the term "family".
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