Members of the Lords who have worked for volunteer organisations, charities and in corporate social responsibility roles, former MPs, a bishop and a former private secretary to the Queen debated the future of civil society yesterday (Thursday 17 July).
The debate looked at the meaning of civil society and the difficulty of defining it because of the many and various people and organisations it encompasses.
Members addressed the relationship between the state and civil society. Many talked about to what extent the state should involve itself and the role of the 'third sector' in 'filling in the gaps' where the public sector may be withdrawing.
The various forms of funding - government, corporate and individual - and the impact of its decline were raised. Members said it was particularly difficult for charities and organisations to manage at a time when demand for support services is rising.