But Tanya August-Hanson, who wants to make changes to the Charities Registration and Regulation Bill, came under fire for not having her amendments ready at last week’s sitting, when they should have been debated.
The Bill aims create a modern register of Manx charities and at the same time increase the amount of information required to become registered as a Manx charity.
Organisations must prove a genuine connection to the island to be registered as a Manx charity.
The Bill received a first reading in the Legislative Council before Christmas and last week went through the second reading stage.
Detailed scrutiny of the Bill’s clauses was also due to take place last week - the usual point at which amendments are tabled. But MLCs agreed to a request from Miss August-Hanson to defer that by one week, as she did not have them ready in time.
She suggested the Bill could be simpler for charities to understand.
’In terms of substantial and genuine connection to the Isle of Man it feels something is missing in terms of actually explaining what it is,’ Miss August-Hanson explained.
’You go through the bill and yes, OK, fair enough, you could discount things as you go along, but that would require you having to read the entire bill from start to finish.’
She also complained the process for UK charities wishing to register here could take months and some lost interest in coming here.
Attorney General John Quinn, who is in charge of the Bill, said he would not argue against a deferment of the clauses stage, but added he was ’at a loss’ why Miss August-Hanson did not want to debate the issues there and then.
’We do not have before us any amendments tabled by Miss August-Hanson or anybody else,’ he added.
’There has been sufficient time in which those amendments could have been shaped and brought forward and we could move on.’
The first reading of the Bill took place before Christmas.
On the ’substantial and genuine connection’ issue, he said: ’There must be circumstances which would lead and provide evidence of the genuine connection.’
This would include whether funds were raised in the island or whether the charity’s objectives would be delivered here. Other pointers would include whether there was a local board of trustees and whether the charity would be administered here.
On the length time it took a UK charity to register here, he cited an example where one such charity had completed the process within hours.
He acknowledged there were times when it took much longer, or where fast-tracking was inappropriate. Sometimes it could be that a charity had not been able to address some of the issues he had outlined, or documents were not submitted in a satisfactory format.
’This is what regulation and checking is all about,’ he added.
Mr Quinn also revealed that Miss August-Hanson had contacted his department to express reservations that exemptions granted to ecclesiastical charities would continue. She also emailed her colleagues on the eve of the debate. He said there had been no call for a change in the consultation ahead of the bill.
Miss August-Hanson acknowledged the attorney general’s concern at her timing.
’Granted, I would have been happier with myself perhaps if I had put those amendments forward earlier, so I do apologise to the attorney general and to the Attorney General’s Chambers for having done so, so late on in the day, and to my colleagues on the Legislative Council as well.’
The clauses stage of the Bill, including amendments to the exemptions granted to ecclesiastical charities now lodged by Miss August-Hanson, will take place today.