Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 120-139)



  120. Does that include the management?
  (Mr Sparks) No.

  121. So how many of the management came from Wales?
  (Mr Sparks) None of them.

  122. So of the Trustees and the managers, how many?
  (Mr Sparks) One.
  (Revd Mr Glover) One voice out of how many in total?
  (Mr Sparks) Well, there were 23 Trustees and there are six members of the management team.

  123. So out of 29 people, one of them came from Wales. Do you think that is a fair allocation, a fair input from Wales?
  (Mr Sparks) Well, Trustees are not appointed on allocation. Trustees are not representatives. They have a duty to the whole charity, so wherever you come from is not material because you all have to have consent for the whole of the charity.

  124. So the fact that Reverend Glover was the only one out of those who voted against it and he came from Wales is just an accident?
  (Mr Sparks) It was not an accident because he made his views quite clear, but the Trustees themselves as a body carry the legal duty for the whole charity, not for the parts of England or Wales that they come from.

  125. But with greater representation from Wales—
  (Mr Nall) Can I put the question back to you and ask what is the population of Wales?

  126. The population is about 2.9 million.
  (Mr Nall) What is the population of England?

  127. About 50 million.
  (Mr Nall) So in terms of 53 million, one member is not so far out as you might think.

  Mr Ruane: Can I say that it is the job of the Committee to question you rather than the other way round.

Julie Morgan

  128. What about the role of the Chair of the Committee? The previous Chair, how often did the previous Chair of the Committee visit Wales and take into account their views? Lady Toulson, since you have taken over as Chair, how many times have you been to Wales and how many meetings have you had with staff in this distressing situation?
  (Lady Toulson) I have not met the staff at all and I have been once to see the Archbishop and that is my sole visit to Wales. I do not know how many times Bishop Jim went, but I think Mr Sparks will.
  (Mr Sparks) I am not sure that Bishop Jim himself went to Wales and one of the reasons we do not have the Bishop as Chairman anymore is because of the impossibility of chairing this organisation and leading a diocese.

  129. So Lady Toulson, you have actually been to see the staff in Wales since all this blew up?
  (Lady Toulson) No, I have not and I think here one has to think about what the non-executive and executive roles are, and it is not the job of the non-executive Chairman to get involved in the day-to-day running of the Society. I am there to work alongside Mr Sparks and the senior team and to hear their views, but it is confusing for them if the non-executive Chairman starts, as it were, to dabble in the day-to-day affairs of the Society. It is actually a negation of governance and it actually causes great fogs and misunderstandings, so my remit is very clear. I am not there to take everyday action in relation to the work of the Society about governance.

  130. I certainly did not mean dabbling in anything or trying to subvert decisions, but I just thought the role of the Trustees and the Chair of the Trustees was to show some sympathy and understanding in the difficult situation.
  (Lady Toulson) Yes, I accept your view. I was not asked to go to Wales. I do not think that there was any—

  131. Who would have asked you?
  (Lady Toulson) Presumably Mr Sparks and his team would have said, "We want you to go to Wales. We want you to talk to the staff. They need to hear from you".

  132. You did not have any sort of feeling of, "I really should go to Wales to show that, as the Trustees, we care about what is happening there"?
  (Lady Toulson) No, I did not, and, to be honest, as the situation became more complex and deteriorated both with the staff and with the Church in Wales, I do not think I would have helped at all. It is my job to back the management team.

  133. You do not have any independence at all? It is just your job to back the management team?
  (Lady Toulson) Yes, it is, because we have put them in place.

  134. So you are not able to take any decisions?
  (Lady Toulson) Yes, I make Board decisions about strategy and policy and we address the issues that are put to us by the senior management team. What I do not do is unilaterally get involved in the day-to-day workings of the Society. That is a negation of my job. It is not what my job is about.

  Mr Ruane: Who guards the guards?

Mr Williams

  135. Lady Toulson, I do not think anybody would regard this as the day-to-day management of the charity; it is fairly fundamental, a real change and a real difficulty for Wales. If I understood what you said earlier, it was that you were a co-opted member on the Board for one meeting.
  (Lady Toulson) Yes.

  136. And then you took over as Chairman, but that you could not take part in the meeting.
  (Lady Toulson) I could have done if I had wished to. I received the papers, as all Trustees did, a few weeks before the meeting and everything in them with regard to Wales came as totally new to me, and I did not think it was appropriate for me, being so new, to get involved in what we are discussing here which was a long history.

  137. And then you went on to be Chairman, but my point is to ask you is it a good way to induct new members of the Board, that they do not have the full appreciation of all the decisions that the Board are about to take?
  (Lady Toulson) I think I had the same appreciation as every other Board member who received those papers. We all received the same papers. The Bishop of Bath and Wells wanted to retire at the AGM this October. It was the end of a three-year term and he was very keen to go because, as you may know, he has now retired completely and this fitted in with his plans, so he was always, always going to step down as Chair at this meeting. There was never any doubt about that and it was essential that the new Chair started and it was a very unfortunate coincidence that my beginnings and this tragic situation coincided, but I am afraid it was not something I could have done anything about.

  138. I think the point I am trying to make is that new members and particularly new chairmen perhaps should have a fairer grounding and understanding of the momentous decisions that the Board are about to take.
  (Lady Toulson) Yes, well I certainly had no knowledge, until I got the papers, before the October meeting of the complexities and critical difficulties that the Principality were facing.

Mr Caton

  139. Lady Toulson, in the circumstances that you were in where the Trustees are making the big decisions they have to make and where, as we have established, the management do not have any consultation mechanisms for procedures, do you really think that it should be incumbent on the Trustees to fill that gap, if you like, not to interfere with management, I quite agree with that, but to go out there and talk and listen to the people on the front-line, to help inform you when you make those final decisions?
  (Lady Toulson) My understanding from the October meeting is that because of a number of service-level agreements in which we were involved and which were starting to be renegotiated for March of next year, it was absolutely imperative that we made the decision finally on that day in October.

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