Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 140-159)



Julie Morgan

  140. Based on information.
  (Lady Toulson) And the reason why we were told that it was not possible to duck the issue was because of that; we had to make it clear that we could not renegotiate those service-level agreements. That is my understanding. Therefore, it was essential that on that day, they reached the decision they did.
  (Revd Mr Glover) Can I say that I have been able to the best of my ability to meet with the staff in Wales and to help them, but obviously I am in a difficult position as a Trustee because there is confidential information that I am not able to disclose to them, so it is difficult, but they hopefully know that I support them.

Mrs Williams

  141. Can I come back to some figures that you have presented us with which show that over the last three years Wales has provided between 5.5 and 6.6 per cent of the Society's income from shops and between 2.3 and 2.9 per cent of the income from fundraising activity. This accounts for between 3 and 3.5 per cent of the Society's total income. Could you tell us what proportion of the Society's outgoings is spent in Wales?
  (Mr Nall) Yes, if you will allow me to do a brief calculation, I certainly can. It is 8 or 9 per cent in total.

  142. Perhaps you could send us a note—I do not expect you to do it now—to tell us how you arrived at that calculation as that would be helpful to the Committee, I think.

  (Mr Nall) Certainly. I can tell you very briefly now.

  143. No, please provide it in writing[3]. Going back to your memorandum, you say, "the reality remains that the Society has been subsidising its work on Wales from donations made in England". Is it not the case that some of your activities in the less affluent areas of England are "subsidised" by money raised in more affluent areas, which is something that Mr Nall mentioned earlier?
  (Mr Nall) Absolutely right, and I would return to this point that this is a financial matter and the largest area of additional receipt of funds is Wales, 1.4 million. No other area of the UK comes close.

Mr Ruane

  144. Does that reflect the poverty in Wales?
  (Mr Nall) It may well reflect the poverty in Wales, but if I can remind you, and I do apologise for repeating the point, the issue came down to pounds and pence.

Mrs Williams

  145. Are you, therefore, saying to us that each region of England is to raise the funds to support the projects which you run in that region?
  (Mr Nall) I do apologise, but could you repeat that?

  146. Do you require each region of England to raise the funds to support the projects which are run in that particular region?
  (Mr Nall) No, self-evidently not, otherwise we would not have been working in Wales.

Mr Ruane

  147. Wales is not a region of England.
  (Mr Nall) And in England too, so there are other regions of England where we make a contribution and a good example would be the north-east.

Mrs Williams

  148. Have you got any figures?
  (Mr Nall) I do not have them with me, but if you would be interested in receiving that figure, I can look it up[4].

  Mrs Williams: Thank you.


  149. What about legacies in Wales, Mr Nall? Are you intending that the legacies bequeathed to the Society from people that have died in Wales now will not be used?
  (Mr Nall) That is very helpful. I want to distinguish three groups of legacy and they are distinguished on time. In the past, legacies have been received. Where those are restricted funds they are placed in endowment if that is the legator's wish or from house sales, for instance, where we run homes. We are in discussions with the Charity Commission under what is called a cy-pres application to see if those funds cannot be released specifically to Wales. It is quite complicated because I have to go back to a lot of very old documentation, need to uncover the original purpose of the bequest, the endowment and look to what is the best use in line with the charitable objectives of that particular bequest. I have got a slightly absurd example, but it helps illustrate the point, for instance, the sons of cobblers in Newport. Did the individual who left the sum intend to benefit sons of cobblers or children in Newport who happen to be cobblers because he was a cobbler or did he have that as a proxy remit because he could not afford to leave a larger sum to the whole of Wales? Those are the sort of considerations the Charity Commission needs to take into account. Also given in the past are legacies on an unrestricted basis as part of the Society's general fundraising income and those funds will have been spent because of the degree of additional funding that has to be given to Wales, that all money raised in Wales is spent in Wales effectively. Legacies that are notified to the Society at the moment will be used, as is the current case, to support work in Wales. Legacies given in the future, we will ask where we have potential legators whether they, as donors, would be willing to make their legacy to the benefit of another body in Wales. We are conscious that it is a valuable resource for the continuing work for children and young people in Wales and we wish to see those activities transferred to Wales. There are two concerns. The first is of course the obvious confusion which may have been caused in donors' minds by the Society's decision and the understandable furore it has raised in Wales and the second is of course that it is dependent on the decision of the individual donor; it is not in the Society's gift. For instance, you might have an individual who has moved to Wales from England and has some long connection with an English home or an area of the Society's work and feels that a donation should be made to the benefit of the English Society.

  150. Is that an example of the Edward Nicholl Home one?
  (Mr Sparks) That is exactly right. That is the one which is the cy-pres application and we have spoken to the Charity Commissioners. It is an endowment fund at the moment which means we cannot touch the capital. We have asked them if the capital can be released on the basis that it would be used appropriately in Wales, not by us—

  151. By a successor body.
  (Mr Sparks) Whatever it might be. We do not know yet.

Julie Morgan

  152. Can we come on now to last Friday's Board meeting and perhaps, Lady Toulson, you can tell us exactly what happened at the Board meeting on Friday, tell us what the decisions were first and then how you reached them.
  (Lady Toulson) I cannot tell you what happened at the Board meeting. I stressed to everybody there several times that everything we talked about and the way we talked about it was confidential and I will not be disclosing that beyond those four walls, and that is why Mr Glover has not been able to tell people who have been ringing him up what happened.

  153. Perhaps you can give us the factual points then?
  (Lady Toulson) I can tell you three things: first of all, we revisited the decision and it will not be changed; secondly, that we will co-operate fully with Christine Walby and her task force in every possible way we can to ensure that the work is transferred to suitable bodies and progressed in the best possible way and, subject to the report from our Finance Committee to the Board, we hope to extend our time of co-operation from July 2002 to March 2003; and the third thing was to look very closely at the money we would hand over to Wales, as illustrated by Mr Nall just now, in terms of endowments and legacies that will go to Wales. Those are the three things we agreed upon. Everything else that was discussed is confidential and I am not in a position to disclose it.

  154. So on the three things that you are able to disclose, you said that you were willing or wanted to extend your commitments up until March 2003, so are you able to tell this Committee here now today that you will extend your funding up to 2003?
  (Lady Toulson) What I have just said is that the Finance Committee, and Mr Nall in particular, are revisiting the figures following last Friday. I do not know where that revisiting has reached and I would perhaps ask if he would kindly tell you.

  155. Are you in a position to tell us now today what the situation is?


  156. Can I just say for the purposes of the record that technically we can ask you what went on at that meeting, but all we really want to know is just what you have decided and I think you have given us indications in that way, so perhaps you can expand on the indications.
  (Mr Sparks) What I took to the meeting was a letter from Christine Walby proposing ways in which it might be possible to carry on the running of projects to March 2003 in order to facilitate handover processes and so on. I was asked to put that to the Board to ask for their approval. What she laid out in that letter is that there are obviously issues about a funding gap and she laid out various ways in which that could be met. At the meeting on Thursday, our representative, our Director for Children and Young People, and I have confirmed this in writing to Christine Walby, will be able to go along to say yes, we are willing, we want to do our best to help that, and she has a remit also to say that we can make some contribution towards bridging the finance gap, although we do not think we are able to meet the full cost of it, so I think what the Board tried to do was to give our Director sufficient leeway to take part in those negotiations and to make some contribution towards meeting the costs without saying, "The Society will meet all of the costs".

Julie Morgan

  157. I understand that if a decision is not made by the end of this month that redundancy and TUPE arrangements will have to be assessed and processed, so have you actually got as high as saying how much money you could actually give?
  (Mr Sparks) Well, I think there are two stages to it. The first stage is about running through to July because if that is agreed, that gives us more leeway and I wrote some while ago to Christine Walby saying that yes, we would continue through to July conditional upon local authorities agreeing to roll their funding forward and conditional upon our being able to ensure safe practice in those projects. So if the local authorities agree, that gives a breathing space for this further discussion to take place.

  158. But if the redundancies are going to happen in July, do you still have to give notice?
  (Mr Sparks) We will have to give people six months' notice of impending.

  159. So that would be now.
  (Mr Sparks) No, that would be at the beginning of February because it is six months. It is the end of July.

3   See page 31. Back

4   See page 31. Back

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