MPs blast Charity Commission over Brethren group refusal

Scores of MPs from across the political spectrum have criticised the Charity Commission for denying charitable status to a Plymouth Brethren group.

MPs have signed a motion warning against “politically correct bias” and the issue has also been debated in Parliament and attracted media comment.

The Charity Commission has refused to register the group because its Holy Communion services are for members only.


The Christian Institute is intervening in the case in a bid to protect religious liberty for all churches.

More than 60 MPs have signed an Early Day Motion saying they believe “Christian groups who are serving the community have the right to charitable status and should not be subject to politically correct bias”.

MPs from Labour, the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, and the Scottish National Party say that the Brethren group involved “does a lot of good work for charity and community groups”.

They warned that the case has “widespread implications for all Christian charitable trusts”.


Over the weekend, Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail warned that the Brethren have been “picked on”.

He said: “The Brethren choose not to vote in elections. So maybe the commission thought MPs would not care about them.

“Wrong. A Westminster debate this week erupted with anger at what MPs considered the Brethren’s mistreatment.”

Over 40 MPs took part in the debate in Westminster Hall and Government minister Nick Hurd called for the issue to be resolved quickly.


The row, which has been going on for seven years, began after the Commission denied charitable status to one of the Brethren group’s assemblies in Devon.

A spokeswoman for the Commission has said: “The application [by the brethren] was not accepted on the basis that we were unable to conclude that the organisation is established for the advancement of religion for public benefit within the relevant law.”

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