Those Lib Dem donation figures in full

by Stephen Tall on August 30, 2008

The Electoral Commission this week published the latest donation and borrowing figures for the political parties this week – LDV’s own Mark Pack has already blogged about the innumerate ways in which these were interpreted both by the Commission’s own press release, and then by the news media.

The Commission’s website does allow us, though, to gain a picture of the Lib Dems’ fundraising efforts over the years. Below, for a bit of fun, is the full breakdown of cash and non-cash donations received by quarter since 2005, and annually between 2001 and 2004.

What the figures suggest is that the party’s efforts have stepped up a level during this time. Rather astonishingly, in 2001 – the year of a general election – the party raised less than half the total it achieved in 2006, our annus horribilis.

But, since 2004 – and most notably in 2005, with that Michael Brown donation – the party’s annual donations have never dipped below £2m. 2008 looks like continuing that relatively impressive track record.

I say relatively because the equivalent 2008 figures for the Tories to date total £9.85m, with £6.80m for the Labour party. Looked at like that – and given the old-school media’s two-party bias – it is actually pretty extraordinary how well above its weight the party manages to punch.

2008, Q1 = £462,340
2008, Q2 = £691,572
2008 (to date) = £1,153,912

2007, Q1 = £694,835
2007, Q2 = £748,143
2007, Q3 = £731,464
2007, Q4 = £954,349
2007 = £3,128,791

2006, Q1 = £256,604
2006, Q2 = £264,092
2006, Q3 = £626,667
2006, Q4 = £1,706,500
2006 = £2,853,863

2005, Q1 = £3,723,671
2005, Q2 = £798,881
2005, Q3 = £214,622
2005, Q4 = £366,323
2005 = £5,103,497

2004 = £2,529,377

2003 = £1,444,682

2002 = £682,216

2001 = £1,140,265

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But whem you consider that the Electoral Commission shows a total of £3,626,107.80 paid to the Lib Dems by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust and add that to Brown’s £2.4 million, the rest of the Great British Public are keeping their hands firmly in their pockets when it comes to funding the Lib Dems.

Let’s face it, nowadays the Reform Trust is a slush fund hijacked by the Lib Dems – JR was not a Liberal party member and his Reform Trust was established primarily to support social ventures and not established political parties. In fact the Trust didn’t make a donation to the Liberal Party until 13 years after Rowntree died. Until 10 years ago the few donations it did give were given out across the board – even the Tories got some. Now its board of trustees has been crammed with LD worthies and the Trust’s funds are being shovelled into LD party coffers as fast as is decently possible.

by Mark Williams on August 31, 2008 at 12:40 pm. Reply #

An observer writes (constantly) –

Lib Dems – irrelevant — slush funds — no public support — terminal decline — why are you bothering? — defections (drone, drone, drone)

So why pay us so much attention???

by perhaps? on August 31, 2008 at 12:48 pm. Reply #

“JR was not a Liberal party member”: I think you’re in danger of misleading yourself and others with this comment Mark.

Joseph Rowntree was a firm supporter of the Liberal Party all through his life and whilst he was alive the trust committed large sums of money to helping the Liberal Party (e.g. through the purchase of The Nation, Morning Leader and Star newspapers).

He was also heaviily involved in the Liberal Party. As the Dictionary of Liberal Thought puts it, he was “a committed Liberal and, together with other members of his family and associates, effectively controlled the local assocation and the Liberal group on York council.”

I’ve not come across any reference to him not being a party member, though I wouldn’t claim to be an expert on his life. Given his clear support for the Liberal Party, I’m not sure that it’s really relevant to the main point, but I’m curious where you came across the claim Mark?

by Mark Pack on August 31, 2008 at 4:11 pm. Reply #

The JRRT directors are:
David Shutt (Lord Shutt)
Dr Christopher Greenfield
Danny Alexander MP
Mandy Cormack
Peadar Cremin
Tina Day
Pam Giddy

The first four are probably Lib Dem members as their biogs mention past LD activity. Don’t know about the other three

In the recent past the directors included (at the same time) William Wallace, Richard Wainwright and Jo Grimmond (both MPs) so I’m not sure any “packing” by Lib Dems is particularly recent!

by Hywel Morgan on August 31, 2008 at 5:53 pm. Reply #

@Mark Pack:
I think you are misleading yourself over the difference between liberal causes and the Liberal Party. It is notable that the Joseph Rowntree Social Service Trust Ltd. made its first political donation to the Labour Party and not to the Liberals. (source and bear in mind this was written by the JRRT after the LD invasion).

Rowntree was a noted liberal and philanthropist but that had as much to do with his Quakerism as any allegiance to any political party. The fact that the Trust bought liberal newspapers is more a consequence of Rowntree’s willingness to promote an alternative view to that of the Tory press, but it didn’t indicate a general preference for the views of today’s Liberal Democrats over any other left-wing party, and it is clear from the stated purposes of the company on its founding and its operations during Rowntree’s life that its purpose was for social enterprises (education especially adult literacy temperance, the alleviation of poverty and bad housing, the improvement of civic life and the electoral process) and not for the funding of political parties.

To get back to my original point, given that the JRRT is stuffed with Lib Dem activists, councillors and other worthies (last chairman was Archie Kirkwood), after subtracting the JRRT money and the M.Brown money, the cash flow from the rest of the country is less than impressive.

by Mark Williams on August 31, 2008 at 9:03 pm. Reply #

Mark: I don’t think you’ve addressed my comments, such as his personal involvement with the Liberal Party in York or the query about where you’d got your point about him not being a member of the Liberal Party from?

As I said, I think your comment about him not being a member is, even if accurate (and I’ve an open mind about that until you present your evidence), misleading given his active support for the party.

As with the membership comment, you’ve now made another comment – “it didn’t indicate a general preference for the views of today’s Liberal Democrats” – which I think is very misleading given the context you’ve put it in.

How could he have expressed a preference for the Liberal Democrats versus other parties during his lifetime, as he died decades before the Liberal Democrats were founded?

But he did demonstrated repeated preferences for the Liberal Party over other parties during his lifetime, and the Liberal Democrats are the successor party to the party he supported.

by Mark Pack on August 31, 2008 at 9:37 pm. Reply #

Mark: I am afraid that you have missed my point. The JRRT was not established as a funding mechanism for the Liberal Democrat Party or the Liberal Party, rather it was established to set up a series of social programmes with practical outcomes.

Your contention seems to be that JR’s political prefereneces were closer to the views of the Liberal Democrats – not at all proven (the views of many in the Labour movement on gambling, temperance and the relief of poverty were probably closer to the Quaker view than the views of the Liberals of the day), but irrelevant – and you seem to think this justifies the current LD’s swiping 50% of the Trust’s revenues. Apart from a lot of spin from current LD’s and JR Trustees there is nothing to suggest that Rowntree would have wanted to donate this money to today’s LD’s rather than Labour or any other party promising social reform. Indeed there is no evidence that he intended that the Trust’s funds should be used for contributions to the general funds of political parties, and went so far as to say that the funds should not be used to support established organisations.

In 1910 the Trust gave its first “grant” to the Labour Party to fund an overseas trip, but the first grant to the Liberals for general funds (to avert a funding crisis rather than because of any specific policies) was made in 1939, 14 years after Rowntree’s death. It seems that was the start of the Liberals cosying up to the Trust.

And you have also failed to address my point that this money and the M.Brown money forms the majority of donations to the Lib Dems over the last 6 years or so. Not very healthy really.

by Mark Williams on August 31, 2008 at 10:03 pm. Reply #

Mark: you made a specific factual claim (about party membership) and also strongly implied that Rowntree wasn’t really a supporter of the Liberal Party (both by making the comment about party membership and also with your comment about Rowntree not supporting the Liberal Democrats).

I’ve simply queried whether either are accurate claims.

My comments really boil down to two questions, which seem quite reasonable to ask given what you’ve written: (1) what is the evidence for your claim that he wasn’t a party member? (2) do you agree that he was an active supporter of the Liberal Party, including being closely involved in the running of its affairs in York?

I’m puzzled as to why you’ve not been willing to answer these given that they both flow directly from the words that you’ve penned in this thread?

by Mark Pack on August 31, 2008 at 10:20 pm. Reply #

Mark: Seebohm Rowntree was known to be a member of the Liberal Party, as was were various relations who were Liberal MP’s but Joseph’ biography never mentions that he was a member of the party. However, it is interesting that you should pick on that point because it leads to one of the few unseemly episodes in the family history. In the late nineteenth century many chocolate companies, including Rowntree, Cadbury, Fry and Hershey decided to purchase their cocoa from Sao Tome and Principe, islands forming a Poruguese colony off the coast of West Africa. In the 1900’s a political storm brewed when it became apparent that the workers in the cocoa plantations were held in conditions which amounted to slave labour. When it became known that the companies had been offered plantations, with a separate price quoted for the sale of labourers, the Tory press attacked the chocolate companies but in particular George Cadbury, on the basis that he was a member of the Liberal Party and thus fair game. They made no such attacks on Joseph Rowntree. Cadbury won token damages from a lawsuit. For more details see A Civilised Savagery by Kevin Grant. Rowntree and Cadbury stopped switched their cocoa purchases elsewhere in 1908.

So although I didn’t intend to mention it, it is a historical curiosity that so much of the current Lib Dem funding comes from a fortune that was built on cocoa produced by slave labour.

Also, I was reminded that one of the reasons that the JRRT decided about 10 years ago to switch so much funding to the Lib Dems (prior to which they had made donations to all parties, even the Conservatives) was that they considered that the finances of the Lib Dems were weak, and going back to the original point of the thread, it seems that without the JRRT funding things would be the same.

I am also reminded of another issue regarding the JRRT. Exactly what business are they in? Until 2000 a company could be a political donor without being a business, but since then it is unclear what that business might be. Simply holding shares is no more a business that your granny holding 50 shares in BT is a business. The JRRT holds shares in 2 property companies that have their own management, but owning those shares does not amount to a business unless the JRRT directors take an active role in managing those companies, which they do not.

by Mark Williams on September 1, 2008 at 12:16 pm. Reply #

Mark: so in the end, you haven’t given a direct answer to either of my two questions (saying a book doesn’t mention something is hardly solid evidence for saying it can’t be the case – and your words were very specific and firm: “JR was not a Liberal party member”).

Instead you’ve (again) decided to move on and raise other points rather than providing evidence for earlier comments.

It’s a free country, and that’s your choice – but if you make claims and then don’t substantiate them (or where mistakes happen, admit them), it doesn’t make for a very convincing case.

by Mark Pack on September 1, 2008 at 12:35 pm. Reply #

The dictionary of Liberal thought extract on the Joseph Rowntree Trust’s website says that he was a “committed Liberal” – so the trust seem to disagree with your assertion that Rowntree was not a Liberal supporter.

by Grammar Police on September 1, 2008 at 1:25 pm. Reply #

Mark P,

As you should know, it is going to be rather hard to prove that JR was not a member of the Liberal party, although Mark W does seem to have quite a lot of evidence that points to this. It would, of course, be much easier for you to try to prove that he had been a member. Why don’t you just pop along to the archives and take a look if it matters so much to you?

I also have to say that Mark W appears to have a rather better grasp of the history surrounding the JRRT than you do. Maybe, rather than quibbling about these minutiae you would care to express a view on his main point, namely that once you remove contributions from JRRT and Mr Brown that donations to the Lib Dems are not really that high.

by passing tory on September 1, 2008 at 1:29 pm. Reply #

In the April 2008 Quarter, amongst other things the Trust gave:

£44,000 to support a campaign to establish a ‘progressive consensus’ for change in Britain in advance of the next General Election.

Conservative Group for Europe
£5,000 towards the development of the Conservative Group for Europe’s website and party conference magazine.

[*To join Compass, you have to be a member of the Labour party or agree with the principles in the Constitution]

by Grammar Police on September 1, 2008 at 1:30 pm. Reply #

I never said he was not a Liberal supporter, although I suspect that was written by LD’s wishing to claim him as their own. There is a big difference to my mind between being a LD supporter and a member. Bear in mind that during his lifetime the Trust gave money to the Labour Party but gave none to the Liberals. Most political parties would cancel your membership if you gave money to another party. Accepting money from “supporters” is a different thing.

To put it in the context of the JRRT and the current Lib Dems. To assume that it would be reasonable to swipe 50% of the Trust’s income if he had been a member would be tenous. To do so if he is just a supporter or fellow traveller is even more so. I give plenty of money to charities but I don[‘t expect them to assume that it would be OK for them to swipe 50% of my estate simply because I support them from time to time.

by Mark Williams on September 1, 2008 at 1:38 pm. Reply #

Mark: Read my post again and you will see that the Tory press attacked Cadbury and not Rowntree because Cadbury was a member of the Liberal Party and Rowntree apparently was not.

As I have already pointed out, parties require their members to not make donations to other parties and Rowntree’s Trust is known to have made a donation to the Labour Party during his lifetime. As both the settlor and the trustee of the Trust, to make a donation out of the Trust while it is under his control would be tantamount to making a personal donation, so either Rowntree would have been in breach of membership rules in fact or in spirit, more likely given his upright nature, he was not a member of the Liberal Party.

by Mark Williams on September 1, 2008 at 1:46 pm. Reply #

The full quote is “Rowntree was a committed Liberal and, together with other members of his family and associates, effectively controlled the local association and the Liberal group on York council in the Edwardian era.”

Remember, this is on the Trust’s website. Rather suggests to me he was a member.

by Grammar Police on September 1, 2008 at 2:24 pm. Reply #

Passing Tory: it was Mark who made the claim that he wasn’t a member, so it doesn’t seem unreasonable to ask for evidence to back up his claim. It’s a rather weird situation where someone makes a claim, they don’t provide evidence for it and then you expect someone else to prove it or not for them.

Mark: you’re still avoiding the point about Rowntree’s active involvement in and support for the party.

For example, now you’re talking about “if he is just a supporter or fellow traveller”, even though I’ve pointed out that he was closely involved in the running of the Liberal Party in York.

That’s not “just a supporter or fellow traveller.”

If you’ve got evidence that my comment about York is wrong, let’s hear it.

It seems to me you’re repeatedly trying to downplay Rowntree’s actual support for the party and when asked for the detailed evidence to back up your claims, it isn’t there and instead you just reword the same basic claim in a different way.

by Mark Pack on September 1, 2008 at 2:31 pm. Reply #

Also on the Trust’s website

“Joseph had been a lifelong liberal and regarded a strong Liberal Party as a vital factor in the life of the nation. A long strand of liberalism subsequently ran through the life of the Trust, and continues to this day. But it has not necessarily taken a party political form. Indeed, Joseph’s own support for the Liberal Party must be viewed within the context of the largely two party system that existed at the time.
His liberalism did not so much reflect the views of a particular party, as the values of personal and corporate responsibility which Joseph also espoused as a lifelong Quaker.”

You really didn’t look very hard.

by Grammar Police on September 1, 2008 at 2:34 pm. Reply #

Mr Police: You are not reaing between the lines. Nowhere does it say that he was a member, unlike his relations who were professional politicians. You are obviously not familiar with the phenomenon of big businessmen who are happy to buy political influence but don’t want to be bound by the rules of party membership.

Oh dear, Lib Dems being controlled by big money who may or may not be members. Never mind, here is a Scottish businessman I would like you to meet. he’s got a business in “derivatives or something” and he is based in Zug, I mean, Upper Brook Street, and he is goind to donate £2.4 million with no strings attached, but don’t worry that neither you nor the press has ever heard of him apart from a US conviction for passing dud cheques in the US.

by Mark Williams on September 1, 2008 at 2:44 pm. Reply #

Mark P,

Mark W seems to have given some fairly strong evidence that he was not a member. Are you going to provide any evidence that he was (and given that he would have been a fairly high-profile member it seems rather remarkable that no documentary evidence would have been passed down to the Lib Dems on their creation)?

If I have understood Mark W correctly he is not claiming that other members of the family were not fully paid up members of the Liberal Party, just that JR was not which makes it harder to justify the huge siphoning of funds from his trust to the Lib Dem party.

by passing tory on September 1, 2008 at 2:48 pm. Reply #

“Oh dear, [Tories/Labour]* being controlled by big money who may or may not be members.”

I’ve corrected the sentence for you.

*delete as appropriate. Please.

As for JR – the extracts I’ve quoted suggest to me he was a member. Why can’t we “read between the lines” (like you suggest) the other way?

But irrespective of that, have a look through “Trusting in Change” (link above) which gives lots of reasons the Trust would continue to support the LDs.

by Grammar Police on September 1, 2008 at 3:01 pm. Reply #

Mr Police: You could just as easily quote the part from the JRRT website that says three of the current trustees are former LD councillors or PPC’s. The blurb written about JR’s attachment to the Liberal Party is clearly put there to gloss over the fact that the Trust was established in order to alleviate poverty, promote temperance and a variety of social projects, not as a funder of political parties that have lost their purpose and run short of funds. It is tragic that a temperance fund should have been appropriated to fund a political party run by a sot.

by Mark Williams on September 1, 2008 at 3:08 pm. Reply #


Of course you can read the evidence “the other way” as you put it. However, if he was a member then there should be some records and these should be fairly conclusive. If JR was a central as you say he was, then it shouldn’t be hard to track them down. Presumably the Liberal party kept some record of its members … which are gathering dust in some Lib Dem vault now. The evidence indicates him having been involved (which, frankly, as a wealthy high-level businessman with close relations involved in a party that spend a considerable amount of time in power is hardly surprising) but not to the point of having been a member.

Out of interest, if he had been a member, do you really think that the bumf on the JRRT site (which seems to be spun from a pretty Lib Dem angle as it is) would have ignored the fact??

Most interesting from my point of view is the last paragraph you quote above: “His liberalism did not so much reflect the views of a particular party, as the values of personal and corporate responsibility which Joseph also espoused as a lifelong Quaker.” Sounds as though he was explicitly not a man taken with party politics then.

by passing tory on September 1, 2008 at 3:29 pm. Reply #

In the 19th Cent there was no central party membership list. The Liberal Party and Conservative Party were federations of local associations – you became a Liberal Party member by joining your local Liberal Association – each having its own membership system. So unless someone was a candidate or MP it is hard to prove they were a ‘member’as we would understand it today. But JR was a member of the National Liberal Club, and Punch shows him as a Liberal grandee.

by David on September 1, 2008 at 3:51 pm. Reply #

@ Mark Williams – Oh, so the 50-odd page article that covers the Trust’s political, campaigning and charity work over the years and the discussion of why it does that, is just put there to gloss over the fact that it has made larger donations to the LDs recently than it has made to Labour, Tory and a host of other minor parties. Sorry, I should have known.

@ PT, the “bumpf” on the JRRT website that I’ve quoted from are more extensive articles, not the blurbs of the directors – they’re not written by the same people so the absence of the statement is not necessarily as conclusive as you want it to be. As for records – I believe the Conservative Party still doesn’t keep centralised records, so why should we expect the 19th/early 20th Century Liberal Party to have done so? I have no idea whether they would or not.

The evidence certainly does not indicate anything like as clearly what you want it to.

by Grammar Police on September 1, 2008 at 3:54 pm. Reply #

I like the idea that if Punch represented someone as something that it must be true.

I suppose you think that every time Rory Bremner opens his mouth an attributable quote emerges.

by passing tory on September 1, 2008 at 4:21 pm. Reply #

@Grammar Police: Your logic is a non-sequitur. The drivel about links between Rowntree and the Liberal Party is written by the current or recent trustees to gloss over Rowntree’s purposes. Here in its full glory is Rowntree’s Memorandum stating the purposes of the trusts. If you read it you will see the Stalinist-style revisionism of those LD hacks. Rowntree does not mention the words “Liberal” or “party” once. As I said before, if you read the man’s intentions and then realise that he was bailing out the drunk whowas running the party a few years ago, you will realise just how much of a heist this has been.

(Mr Pack, sorry to clog your blog)

I desire in the following Memorandum to indicate in general terms the considerations which have induced me to found the above Trusts. I wish it, however, to be distinctly understood that it is of no legal or binding force in any way or direction, and is not intended to restrict or extend the full discretion given to the Trustees and Directors by the legal instruments creating the Trusts, or to affect the interpretation of those instruments. I have thought, however, it might assist those who will be associated with me, and who will succeed me in the direction of these Trusts, to know the thoughts which have influenced me in their creation, and which will guide me in their administration so long as I am spared to take part in it.

It is frequently and truly said that money is generally best spent by persons during their lifetime. I have in the past, according to my power, endeavoured to act in remembrance of this. Considerably larger means have, however, come to me in later life, and the practical question was presented to me: How can this property be applied in the future so as to secure equal results to those which have might have been obtained had I had the administration of it over a lengthened period? It is a matter of great satisfaction to me that these Trusts have been established with the cordial assent of my wife and children.

It will be observed that the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Joseph Rowntree Social Service Trust, Limited, will come to an end not later than 35 years from the date of their formulation, while the Joseph Rowntree Village Trust is permanent. The two former Trusts are, in all human possibility, likely to be mainly administered by the original Trustees, who are closely in sympathy with my general thoughts and aims, and will, I believe, give to the administration of these Trusts the same thought and direction which I should have given them myself. The Charitable Trust is established for purposes which are “charitable” in the legal sense of the word; the Social Services Trust for purposes which, though to my mind at least of equal importance to the well-being of the community, are, as I am advised, mostly outside the limits within which the law at present confines the operations of Charitable foundations, and would, if included in the former Trust, impair its legal validity. I hope that in the future those limits may be considerably widened, and that it may be permissible to include among charitable objects those which can only be attained by alterations in the law of the land. If this should be so, the Directors of the Social Service Trust may find themselves able to transfer some of their property to the Charitable Trust. However this may be, my motives in creating two Trusts are the same. I regard the distinction between them as merely a legal one. In connection with both of these Trusts, there is one general principle that I hope will be kept in mind, namely: that the Trustees and Directors should not, except in very special cases, make grants to existing associations, but should themselves direct and guide the appropriation of the funds. Any appropriations which tended to interfere with donations or subscriptions which others ought to give should in my view be carefully avoided.

The original Trustees and Directors will be familiar with the thought which I now wish to express. I feel that much of the current philanthropic effort is directed to remedying the more superficial manifestations of weakness or evil, while little thought or effort is directed to search out their underlying causes. Obvious distress or evil generally evokes so much feeling that the necessary agencies for alleviating it are pretty adequately supported. For example, it is much easier to obtain funds for the famine-stricken people in India than to originate and carry through a searching enquiry into the causes and recurrence of these famines. [* footnote] The Soup Kitchen in York never has difficulty in obtaining adequate financial aid, but an enquiry into the extent and causes of poverty would enlist little support. Every Social writer knows the supreme importance of questions connected with the holding and taxation of land, but for one person who attempts to master this question there are probably thousands who devote their time and strength to relieving poverty and its accompanying evils. In my view, therefore, it is highly undesirable that money should be given by the Trusts to Hospitals, Almshouses, or similar Institutions. The objects of these two Trusts fall under three heads – Religious, Political, Social. I append a few notes as indications of my thoughts in connection with each.

If the Charitable Trust is to achieve practical results, its income must not be too widely scattered, and doubtless objects connected with the Society of Friends will have a first place in the minds of my co-trustees as they have in my own. For the reasons stated above I should not, unless under very special circumstances, think it wise that money should be given towards the erection of Meeting Houses, Adult Schools or Social Clubs, whether in connection with Adult Schools or otherwise. The need for suitable and well-equipped buildings is so obvious, that I think it is almost to certain to be supplied. On the other hand, the need for Religious teaching to the Members of the Society of Friends of all ages, especially with a view to the fostering of a powerful Ministry, is a need which is not clearly seen, but upon the right meeting of which the prosperity of the Society will largely depend. I should, therefore, entirely approve of support to the Woodbrooke Settlement, or to kindred efforts. I should, however, regret if it were necessary to make grants on account of buildings, but should desire rather to supplement the funds appropriated for the support of a lecturing staff in order that no lack of money should stand in the way of securing the best possible teaching. It would also be in accordance with my views that grants should be made for Scholarships to the Woodbrooke or similar Settlements; although an obvious need of the kind is, I believe, less likely to require support than the object previously mentioned.

I should also approve of expenditure necessary for strengthening the periodical or other literature of the Society. The historical enquiry in relation to the Society of Friends which my son John Wilhelm is undertaking, with a view to elucidate right principles of Society action, is an object which would rightly come within the scope of the Trust.

In connection with Religious, Political and Social work, it is to be remembered that there may be no better way of advancing the objects one has at heart than to strengthen the hands of those who are effectively doing the work that needs to be done. Not unfrequently one hears of persons doing excellent work whose service is cramped, or who are in danger of breaking down through anxiety about the means of living. It would be quite in accordance with my wish that cases of this kind be assisted.

Then with regard to our Public Schools, and especially Bootham and the Mount – I doubt whether teachers of the present high caliber will be secured in the future without a considerable advance in salary. Neither the need for these higher salaries nor the supreme importance to the society as a whole, and to the individual children, of wise Quaker training, appears to be sufficiently seen by Friends, and I do not think that the working of supply and demand will secure an adequate income for the teachers. If, therefore, the Trustees saw their way to give money as to secure highly qualified men and women of moral earnestness as Teachers, without relieving the School Committees of ordinary expenditure I should quite approve of such educational grants being made. And further, if the prosperity of the Schools demanded a certain number of Scholarships for Members of the Society, I should quite approve of these.

Whilst in favour of an expenditure upon the Schools of the kind indicated above, I should not for reasons already given, think it wise to expend money upon building alterations.

Perhaps the greatest danger of our national life arises from the power of selfish and unscrupulous wealth which influences public opinion largely through the press (e.g. the Opium and Drink traffic, and the South African War). If the funds permitted, and the Directors of the Social Services Trust were equal to the task, it would be quite in accordance with my wish that they should control, by purchase of otherwise, a newspaper or newspapers, conducting them not with a primary view to profit but with the object of influencing public thought in right channels.

If, commencing with an experiment near home the Trustees found that they were able, without undue strain, to undertake this work, they might possibly extend it cautiously elsewhere. This should not, however, be done on such a scale as seriously to impoverish either the Religious or Social effort.

I hope those who come after me will do their best to maintain the purity of Elections in York. For this end it may occasionally be necessary to prosecute offenders or to lodge petitions against the return of those who have been elected through corrupt means. I should wish the funds of the Social Service Trust to be available for such purposes.

Ordinary subscriptions to political organisations will, I believe, be inexpedient, but occasional crises might arise when the funds of this Trust might rightly be drawn upon. In illustration: It is said that the campaign led by Joseph Arch for the elevation of the Agricultural labourers was on the point of breaking down for want of funds, but was saved by a timely gift from Samuel Morley.

The thought to which expression has already been given of the need to search out the under-lying causes of weakness or evil applies with a special force to social questions. If the enormous volume of the philanthropy of the present day were wisely directed it would, I believe, in the course of a few years, change the face of England. Perhaps there is no need more urgent in the present day than for the wise direction of social and philanthropic effort. In a semi-private Memorandum of this kind I may allude to the Temperance work in which I have been engaged as illustrative of what I mean. It was necessary to ascertain once for all the actual facts as to intemperance, its causes – legislative and social – and when these were understood, the remedies that must be applied. I hope this particular work will be carried on so long as the occasion for it lasts.

I have already alluded to the Land question. Such aspects of it as the nationalisation of land, or the taxation of land values, or the appropriation of the unearned increment – all needs a treatment far more thorough than they have yet received.

If one or other of the directors and Trustees were able to collaborate with competent investigators and workers upon these questions, it would be quite suitable for large sums to be appropriated in this direction.

The same remarks apply to the question of our Foreign policy and Imperialism.

It will be observed that the amount of money given to the Social Service Trust is larger than the value of the property with which the Charitable Trust has been endowed. This larger appropriation with the Social Service Trust is made in view of the heavy demands which the establishment or support of newspapers may involve, and also in view of the fact that while the Social Service Trust will have power to make grants towards objects which fall under the Charitable Trust, it will not be within the power of the Charitable Trust to make grants to the objects which fall under the Social Service Trust.

As already stated, the Charitable Trust and the Social Service Trust will come to an end not later than 35 years from the date of their formation. Great liberty is, however, given to the Trustees with regards to the manner in which the Trusts shall be wound up. Three separate courses are open to them:-

The Trustees have the power, during the continuance of the Trusts to make use not only of the interests but of the principal, and they might so arrange that the principal was exhausted with the term of 35 years.
If the Trustees were acquainted with men in whose judgment and integrity they had confidence, who would carry out the Trusts, either one or both of them, in accordance with the general aims of the Founder, it would be open to the Trustees, before the end of the 35 years, to create new Trusts and to hand over the property to the new Trustees with such conditions regarding the winding up of the new Trusts as they might deem fitting.
The property of the two Trusts can be transferred to the Joseph Rowntree Village Trust.
If the second course be adopted, I hope that in the selection of Trustees for the new Trusts the question of their relationship to me or to the then Trustees and Directors will be regarded as altogether subordinate to the paramount consideration of their fitness for the offices they will have to fill.

The question of the creation of a new Trust in connection with the Social Service Trust is one that ought to be maturely considered before the 35 years come to an end. This Trust may very possibly acquire Shares giving to it a predominating influence with a portion of the newspaper press, and it will be of great moment that a right influence should be secured for the future of these papers. I hope that they may sound a clear note with regard to the great scourges of humanity, especially with regard to war, slavery, intemperance, the Opium traffic, impurity, and gambling. The influence of the newspaper should also be on the side of religious liberty, Free Trade and economical government. I feel further that every measure which tends to improve the position of the great mass of the population resident in these islands is of paramount importance. It is difficult so to forecast the industrial and economic development of the country in the next 35 years as to speak in other than general terms of what this social policy should be, but if legislation is influenced by the spirit of human brotherhood and alive to the claims of social justice, the right measures for social advancement will be increasingly seen.

If the Trustees were able so to arrange that after the expiration of the 35 years, this newspaper influence should be exercised in the direction indicated above, it would, I have no doubt, be a source of great satisfaction to themselves and entirely in accordance with my wishes.

I turn now to the Joseph Rowntree Village Trust. As this is of a permanent character, its Trustees will not be burdened with any questions similar to those just discussed. I have sought, in view of the modifications of social conditions which must ensue with the lapse of time, to make the provisions of the Trust as elastic as may be compatible with adherence to the objects of the Trust as defined in the Deed of Foundation. I may be allowed to draw attention to the words in Clause 4 of the deed which say that “the Founder is specially desirous that nothing may be done under the powers hereby conferred which may prevent the growth of civic interest and the sense of civic responsibility amongst those who may live in any community existing on the property of the Trust”. I should regret if there were anything in the organisation of these village communities that should interfere with the growth of the right spirit of citizenship, or be such that independent and right-minded men and women might resent. I do not want to establish communities bearing the stamp of charity but rather of rightly ordered and self-governing communities – self-governing, that is, within the broad limits laid down by the Trust.

I began this Memorandum by saying that it was not intended to have any legal or binding force. I wish in closing it not only to repeat this disclaimer, but to express the hope that nothing I have written may discourage those who will have the administration of these Trusts, and of any new Trusts which may be created to continue their work, from entering into fields of social service which I have not indicated and which I cannot at present foresee.

Still more emphatically would I urge that none of the objects which I have enumerated, and which under present social conditions appear to me to be of paramount importance, should be pursued after it has ceased to be vital and pressing in the interests of the community.

I hope that the Institutions to which contributions are made from these Trusts may be living bodies, free to adapt themselves to the ever changing necessities of the nation and of the religious Society of which I am a member. The need of seeking to search out the under-lying causes of weakness or evil in the community, rather than of remedying their more superficial manifestations, is a need which I expect will remain throughout the continuance of the Trusts, and some of the principles indicated in the Memorandum, as to the most effective methods with regard to the appropriation of funds, are I think likely to have continued force. At the same time, realizing not only that “new occasions teach new duties”, but that “time makes ancient good uncouth”, I have given to the Trustees and Directors of these foundations, very wide powers and very few directions of a mandatory nature as to their exercise.


St. Mary’s

29th December, 1904

by Mark Williams on September 1, 2008 at 7:35 pm. Reply #

This is interesting but it isn’t technically a statement of the purposes of the trusts. It clearly isn’t intended to bind the trustees – for that you would need to look at the trust instrument.

The trustees would actually be in breach of trust if they went against those instruments to follow the instructions given there.

In any case it seems from this that the initial trusts were only to last for 35 years – but with the trustees having power to create a new trust. I assume this is where the Social Services Trust morphed into the Reform Trust the name change alone suggesting a change of emphasis.

by Hywel Morgan on September 1, 2008 at 9:44 pm. Reply #

Hywel Morgan Says:
“This is interesting but it isn’t technically a statement of the purposes of the trusts”

Well strictly speaking it isn’t a trust, it is a company established with a board of directors so they wouldn’t be in breach of their legal duties unless they acted contrary to the memorandum and articles of the company, which would typically be drawn as widely as possible. It is the memorandum which would give the directors their direction.

You are correct that theinitial trusts were supposed to last 35 years, but they only had 3 options: spend all the money in 35 years, establish a further trust with the same objects (in accordance with the general aims of the Founder) or give all the money to the Joseph Rowntree Village Trust. In the event they did neither. After 35 years Seebohm Rowntree took over and gave it more of a directly political focus, but I think the name change was much later.

Now if you read that memorandum as a trustee and turned up to the first meeting of the trustees and suggested giving half of the company’s inclome to a political party, you would expect to be asked to resign.

In particular there is one passage that is very worthy of note: “In connection with both of these Trusts, there is one general principle that I hope will be kept in mind, namely: that the Trustees and Directors should not, except in very special cases, make grants to existing associations, but should themselves direct and guide the appropriation of the funds. Any appropriations which tended to interfere with donations or subscriptions which others ought to give should in my view be carefully avoided.”

by Mark Williams on September 1, 2008 at 10:38 pm. Reply #

I thought we were talking about the man’s connection to the Party, not what he set up the Trust to do? (I gather you feel that by denying the man’s connection to the Party you feel that this assists in your argument in that the Trust’s money shouldn’t be given to the LDs).

As long as the money is being spent as it should be and lawfully, then all is well. Money is given by the Trust to lots of political parties, and if you read some of those links (and I don’t think the centenary one was written by a director) you would see that there is a history of supporting opposition parties, and specifically those ones that call for constitutional reform. Not really a surprise then that over the years the Liberal Party/Liberal Democrats should have benefitted.

Ps I’m glad I looked into the Trust more, I see that it has given donations to individual local parties (LD and non-LD) in the past. We’re drawing up our application already.

by Grammar Police on September 1, 2008 at 10:55 pm. Reply #

“Well strictly speaking it isn’t a trust…”

It can be both – Equity looks to substance rather than form and all that 🙂 This depends on the precise detail of how it’s constituted.

“After 35 years Seebohm Rowntree took over and gave it more of a directly political focus,”

In which case it’s that trust that you need to look to. If it was set up in breach of the objects of the original trust then it would be Seebohm who would have been in breach of trust rather than the current trustees. As his decisions haven’t been challenged in the 70 years since then you’d have to think they were legitimate.

by Hywel Morgan on September 1, 2008 at 11:18 pm. Reply #

As far as I am aware there was no new trust agreement in 1939, the Social Security Trust just continued with the same company structure and constitutive documents.

OK for Mr Police’s benefit and understanding, let’s just recap where we have got to:
1. The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust was established as the Joseph Rowntree Social Security Trust as a practical philanthropic venture, whith the specific aims of acting against war, slavery, intemperance, the Opium traffic, impurity, and gambling, and working to promote religious liberty, Free Trade and economical government – all worthy motives but probably most recognisable as Quaker and mercantile principles – not surprising from a Quaker merchant.
2. Rowntree’s biography makes no mention of him being a member of the Liberal Party, although many members of his party are known to have been prominent members, and the attacks on George Cadbury as a member of the Liberal party, but not Rowntree, confirms that Rowntree was not a member.
3. The Social Service Trust’s first donation to a political party is to the Labour Party, and no donations are made to the Liberal Party during Rowntree’s lifetime.
4. Rowntree’s memorandum to the Trustees states explicitly that he did not want the trust to fund established political parties, and they should particularly avoid funding organisation where others oght to give donations or subscriptions.
5. The memorandum mentions the Quakers and Quaker principles several times, but fails to mention the Liberal Party at all.

… and yet somehow the trustees of the JRRT seem to think that by giving 50% of the company’s income they are acting in accordance with Rowntree’s wishes?

by Mark Williams on September 1, 2008 at 11:50 pm. Reply #

Mark: as with the question of his membership and Rowntree’s involvement with the Liberal Party, I think again you’re misprepresenting the evidence.

For example, you wrote, “Rowntree’s memorandum to the Trustees states explicitly that he did not want the trust to fund established political parties,” but actually it says something different: “Ordinary subscriptions to political organisations will, I believe, be inexpedient.”

That wording doesn’t mean what you said in your comment.

Given how the word “subscriptions” was used in nineteenth and early twentieth century politics, that’ isn’t saying that no money should be given to political parties; it’s talking about regular payments without strings into general party funds. It doesn’t rule out specific payments for specific projects (and indeed by being so specific, clearly implies that he thinks such specific payments would be ok). Those are indeed the sorts of payments the trust and its successor made and makes. Even today, they don’t make general payments into party funds.

And anyway, Rowntree also said that his document “is not intended to restrict or extend the full discretion given to the Trustees and Directors”. How can the trust’s successor not be following his wishes when one of his very wishes was that the trustees should be able to decide for themselves what to do?

by Mark Pack on September 2, 2008 at 7:31 am. Reply #

Mark Williams – “Rowntree’s biography makes no mention of him being a member of the Liberal Party, although many members of his party are known to have been prominent members, and the attacks on George Cadbury as a member of the Liberal party, but not Rowntree, confirms that Rowntree was not a member.”

The last part of this sentence makes no sense at all. Just because Cadbury was being attacked for being a Liberal member doesn’t mean other people weren’t members. There is documentation on the Trust’s website that indicates at the very least a strong support for the Liberal Party.

Whether he was a member or not, the second part of your argument is just as pointless. The Trust’s money is being used appropriately. If it wasn’t, I’m sure someone would have sued. The Trust supports constitutional change and a vibrant democracy, none served by our two party system. So it’s not surprising that the largest third Party is the biggest benefactor (both the other two large parties get some money, as do a host of smaller parties and organisations). I don’t much like Ashcroft a non-UK taxpayer spending millions to buy a Tory Government, but sadly it all seems to be lawful; Mark, sometimes people spend their money in ways we don’t support.

Get over it.

by Grammar Police on September 2, 2008 at 8:04 am. Reply #

Oh what a tangled web we weave … when politicans do conceive.

by David Evans on September 2, 2008 at 9:24 am. Reply #

I think you are misrepresenting my quotation of Rowntree’s wishes. The part I was referring to reads:

“In connection with both of these Trusts, there is one general principle that I hope will be kept in mind, namely: that the Trustees and Directors should not, except in very special cases, make grants to existing associations, but should themselves direct and guide the appropriation of the funds. Any appropriations which tended to interfere with donations or subscriptions which others ought to give should in my view be carefully avoided.”

It is beyond doubt that Rowntree would have considered the Liberal Democrats as an “existing association”, and furthermore as the Liberal Democrats have donors/members/subscribers, Rowntree’s view was clear that donations by the Trust to the party should be avoided.

Of course you are ignoring the real scandal, which is that whereas Rowntree established the trust for a variety of noble causes, this money is now used to pay for a middle of the road party with policies flexed to maximise electoral success.

Amongst Rowntree’s aims were the desire to rid society of a variety of scourges, including drunkenness and the “Opium trade”. We still have binge drinking in our cities, and 55% of the people entering our prisons have a serious drugs problem, yet Rowntree’s funds are used to pay for “Whining here!” posters and election campaign helicopter rides for the leaders of a party thet will never have any power and will make a negligible difference to society.

by Mark Williams on September 2, 2008 at 10:47 am. Reply #

Surely the “real scandal” as far as you’re concerned, Mark W, is that the trust dares to financially support a party you do not.

by Anonymous on September 2, 2008 at 12:17 pm. Reply #

On the contrary, I really don’t care who gives money to the Liberal Democrats as the likely impact will be negligible. This party is nothing more than a home for disgruntled voters and politicians who will bnever have real power. The scandal is that a political party can usurp funds that were clearly set aside for a social purpose. The other scandal is that 50% of the funding for this party in the last 10 years has come from this source and from a convicted fraudster. The Lib Dems are like the OMRLP with more history and less humour.

Say what you like about Asil Nadir or various Labour donors, they didn’t have anything like the same impact on the other parties, but despite the sleazy nature of their funding Lib Dems persist in their holier-than-thou, butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-my-mouth priggishness.

by Mark Williams on September 2, 2008 at 1:12 pm. Reply #

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