Charities Bill expected to lose out to election but others set to succeed

The voluntary sector described this week as “one of the most
disappointing for the UK charity sector for a long time” after the
Charities Bill was expected to be dropped.

As Community Care went to press, the bill was set to become a
casualty of the dissolution of parliament after prime minister Tony
Blair announced a general election on 5 May.

Chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations
Stuart Etherington said: “The failure of the three parties to find
the time and the agreement to make this excellent bill a law is
very frustrating.”

He added that the NCVO would be seeking “cast iron guarantees” from
all the parties during the general election campaign that the
Charities Bill would be brought back in the next Queen’s
speech.

It was expected that the Mental Capacity Bill would make it onto
the statute book in time.

Last week The Making Decisions Alliance, a coalition of
organisations that have pushed for the legislation, wrote to MPs
urging them not to table last-minute amendments that could throw
the bill off track. The bill was due to complete its parliamentary
journey in an hour-long debate in the Lords earlier this
week.

The Disability Discrimination Bill was also predicted to make it
through. A spokesperson for the Disability Rights Commission said
it was “99.9 per cent certain” the bill would go through because
the government had shown its commitment to passing it.

On the Drugs Bill, drugs think-tank Transform said a deal had been
struck between Labour and the Conservatives and it was “very
likely” to go through unless it was “torpedoed” by a few
Lords.

But information officer Steve Rolles added that the time allotted
to the bill had been “grossly inadequate” and charities were angry
that it had not been properly debated or consulted on. He said
there were rumours of a “part 2″ of the bill after the
election.

Despite Home Office denials last week that it was planning to
sacrifice plans to criminalise incitement to religious hatred, a
clause introducing these measures was expected to be removed from
the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill this week to allow it
to complete its passage through parliament before dissolution.

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