“In Re Scowcroft [  2 Ch 638] Stirling J. held that a devise … of a building “to be maintained for the furtherance of Conservative principles and religious and mental improvement” was a good charitable gift. The furtherance of religious and mental improvement was an essential portion of the gift and the gift might, as the judge observed, be supported on the ground that it was for the public benefit just as a gift of a library or museum would have been held to be a good charitable gift. Thus the decision did not depend solely on the element of mental improvement since there was also an element of general public utility. Similar considerations applied in Re Hood [ [ 1931] 1 Ch. 240] to a gift for the promotion of temperance otherwise than by political means. Both elements were present.
“In Re Price [ Ch.422] the charitable character of the bequest depended exclusively on the element of moral improvement…
On the evidence of the actual teachings apart from the evidence of benefit to individuals, Cohen J was satisfied that the teachings [of Dr. Rudolf Steiner – ] were directed to the mental or moral improvement of man and that they were not contra bonos mores. He held as a matter of law that the court was not concerned to determine whether the carrying on of the teachings of Rudolf Steiner would in fact result in the mental or moral improvements of anyone, and he did not find as a fact that they would. His Lordship’s finding of fact was that the teachings might have that result, and his conclusion of law was that this was sufficient to satisfy the requirement of public benefit.
“Although Cohen J. considered that the trusts of the residuary gift resembled trusts for the advancement of religion, he treated the gift as falling under Lord Macnaghten’s fourth head of charity.
“In Re South Place Ethical Society [ 1 W.L.R.. 1565], Dillon J. held, as an alternative ground for his decision, by analogy with Re Scowcroft, Re Hood and Re Price, that the objects of the Society were charitable within the fourth head of Lord Macnaghten’s classification as being for mental or moral improvement.
“None of the cases considered provide a reasoned argument for the promotion of mental and moral improvement as a general charitable purpose, nor do they set any guidelines for the future application of this category of charity although the overall purpose is now fully acceptable as charitable
Extract from The Law and Practice Relating to Charities, 4th Edition Hubert Picardo QC (pp. 124-126)