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(1)The Commissioners may from time to time institute inquiries with regard to charities or a particular charity or class of charities, either generally or for particular purposes:
Provided that no such inquiry shall extend to any exempt charity.
(2)The Commissioners may either conduct such an inquiry themselves or appoint a person to conduct it and make a report to them.
(3)For the purposes of any such inquiry the Commissioners may by order, and a person appointed by them to conduct the inquiry may by precept, require any person (subject to the provisions of this section)—
(a)to furnish accounts and statements in writing with respect to any matter in question at the inquiry, being a matter on which he has or can reasonably obtain information, or to return answers in writing to any questions or inquiries addressed to him on any such matter, and to verify any such accounts, statements or answers by statutory declaration;
(b)to attend at a specified time and place and give evidence or produce documents in his custody or control which relate to any matter in question at the inquiry.
(4)For the purposes of any such inquiry evidence may be taken on oath, and the person conducting the inquiry may for that purpose administer oaths, or may instead of administering an oath require the person examined to make and subscribe a declaration of the truth of the matters about which he is examined.
(5)The Commissioners may pay to any person the necessary expenses of his attendance to give evidence or produce documents for the purpose of an inquiry under this section, and a person shall not be required in obedience to an order or precept under paragraph (b) of subsection (3) above to go more than ten miles from his place of residence unless those expenses are paid or tendered to him.
(6)No person claiming to hold any property adversely to a charity, or freed or discharged from any charitable trust or charge, shall be required under this section to furnish any information or produce any document relating to that property or any trust or charge alleged to affect it.
(7)Where the Commissioners propose to take any action in consequence of an inquiry under this section, they may publish the report of the person conducting the inquiry, or such other statement of the results of the inquiry as they think fit, in any manner calculated in their opinion to bring it to the attention of persons who may wish to make representations to them about the action to be taken.
(8)The council of a county, . . . F1, county district . . . F1 . . . F2, the Common Council of the City of London and the council of a . . . . . . F1 borough may contribute to the expenses of the Commissioners in connection with inquiries under this section into local charities in the council’s area.
(9)If any person wilfully alters, suppresses, conceals or destroys any document which he may be required to produce under this section, he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding [F3level 3 on the standard scale], or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to both.
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