The following was said in Parliament in 1978 (as reported in Hansard 1st August 78) by Malcolm Rifkind:
“In 1974 the Commissioners appointed Mr Hugh Elvett Francis QC to conduct an inquiry under the Charities Act into the doctrines and practices of the Exclusive Brethren. Mr Francis submitted a report in 1976 recommending that, pending a decision by the courts, the Commissioners should not register any meeting house of the sect which had adopted the doctrine of “separation from evil” as practised by the followers of James Taylor Junior. “
Mr Hugh Francis came to the following conclusion, “The doctrine is harmful and calculated to disrupt family ties and perfectly normal and proper business relationships. It has caused widespread distress and anguish among many deeply religious and decent people and is against the true interests of the community.” The Exclusive Brethren’s response was to appeal claiming that the Charity Commissioners had acted outside their powers in promoting the inquiry and in refusing registration. It was ruled that the inquiry had not infringed the rules of natural justice. It had been purely fact finding, (as reported in The Daily Telegraph).
Malcolm Rifkind continued “The Charity Commissioners, however, after considering representations made on behalf of the pro-Taylorite group, decided that in the present uncertain state of the law, to which I referred earlier, and in view of the legal proceedings then pending, it would not be right for them to adopt Mr Francis’s recommendation. I emphasise to hon. Members who signed the early-day motion that the Charity Commissioners had not acted to remove charitable status from any of the trusts mentioned but have said that the questions are so special that the courts, not the Commissioners, must decide. In the meantime, the Commissioners are preserving the status quo. The proceedings which were pending in 1976 subsequently lapsed, but have now been renewed. The issues are thus sub judice and I ought not to comment on them any further.”
This whole thing was not settled until 1981 and can be examined in “The Report of the Charity Commissioners for England and Wales for the year 1981.” The Kingston Meeting Rooms Trust (Feltham) Holmes & others v Attorney General (The Exclusive Brethren). Rule and Others v Charity Commissioners for England & Wales and Another (The Exclusive Brethren).