Appointment of the Chair of the Charity Commission Contents


1.On 26 January 2018 the Government informed this Committee that its preferred candidate for the role of Chair of the Charity Commission was Baroness Stowell of Beeston.1

2.The post of Chair of the Charity Commission is one of those listed as subject to the agreed pre-appointment hearing process.2 We held a pre-appointment hearing for Baroness Stowell on 20 February 2018. We thank her for her evidence, which is published on our website.

3.The Committee wrote to the appointing Secretary of State, Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, on 20 February, saying that it could not support the nomination of Baroness Stowell. We set out four key reasons for this decision, relating to the recruitment process, and to the candidate’s: experience; neutrality; and performance at the hearing. This letter is published, alongside other correspondence, in Appendix 1.

4.Mr Hancock’s response was issued immediately upon receipt of our letter on the evening of 20 February. We were surprised and disappointed that Mr Hancock chose to make this initial response so hastily, and via a statement to the Press Association, rather than to us directly.

5.When we did receive a direct communication—a letter from the Secretary of State, received the next day, 21 February—we were again disappointed to find that our points were dismissed without any meaningful engagement on matters of substance.3 We wrote again to Mr Hancock on 22 February, requesting fuller and more specific answers, and asking a further four questions about the recruitment process.4 We received a letter in response on 23 February. The correspondence is included in Appendix 1.

Our Report

6.In this Report, we elaborate further on the points in our letters to the Secretary of State. We retain strong reservations about both the candidate’s suitability for the role, and the process used to determine her selection as the Government’s preferred candidate. We request a response to this Report from the Secretary of State within a fortnight of this report’s publication. This is far shorter than the usual eight-week timescale for Government responses to select committee reports, but we are confident that the Department will share our sense of urgency about addressing the concerns we have set out.

1 ‘Preferred Candidate Selected for Charity Commission Chair’, Joint press release, DCMS and Charity Commission, 26 January 2018. Further details about the recruitment process are included in Chapter 2.

3 This response is also published in Appendix 1.

4 Letter from Damian Collins MP to RT Hon Matt Hancock MP, 22 February 2018

27 February 2018