Draft Protection of Charities Bill - Joint Committee on the Draft Protection of Charities Bill Contents


Appendix 2: Call for Evidence


The following call for evidence was issued by the Committee on 17 November 2014:

The Joint Committee on the Draft Protection of Charities Bill, chaired by Lord Hope of Craighead, was appointed by the two Houses of Parliament in early November 2014 to consider the Draft Protection of Charities Bill, which was presented to the two Houses on 22 October 2014. The Committee invites interested individuals and organisations to submit evidence to this inquiry.

The Committee in particular will explore the following key issues in detail, and would welcome your views on any or all of the following questions. Please note that questions are not listed here in any particular order of importance.

Written evidence should arrive no later than 16 December 2014. Public hearings will be held in November and December 2014 and January 2015. The Committee will report to the Houses, with recommendations, in February 2015. The report will receive a response from the Government. The time available for the Committee's inquiry is short, and its focus will be on the contents of the draft Bill rather than more general aspects of charities policy. The Committee will not consider as part of its inquiry the merits of individual cases which have been, or are now, subject to formal inquiries by the Charity Commission, but will welcome any general observations from charities and others based on the experience of working with the Commission.

Questions

1) The draft Bill would provide the legislative basis for a number of new powers to the Charity Commission, the unitary civil regulator of a large and diverse range of charities in England and Wales. In doing so, the Bill acknowledges that charities require protection from misconduct and mismanagement by trustees. What is the current nature and extent of mismanagement and misconduct in the charity sector? How is this data gathered at present?

2) The Charity Commission has been perceived by some to be struggling to act as an effective regulator. Is this borne out by the evidence? If in your view it has been an ineffective regulator is this down to a lack of sufficient powers, reduced resources, or problems with its strategic or operational approach? If the problem has been one of reduced resources, from where should any additional resource be drawn?

3) Would the new powers in the draft Bill allow the Charity Commission to be more effective having regard to its statutory objectives set out in section 14 of the Charities Act 2011? Would any of the seven proposals (Proposals 4, 5, 7, 10, 11, 13, 14) for new powers which were part of the Government's consultation in December 2013 which have not been included in the draft Bill be appropriate as well or instead?

4) How do the current and proposed powers of the Charity Commission compare to those of other civil regulators?

5) Will the provisions in the draft Bill, as currently drafted, fulfil their policy objectives (pages 78-79)? How could the drafting of the Bill be improved?

6) Is the Government right to expand the criteria for the automatic disqualification of trustees (clause 8)? Do the suggested new criteria go far enough, or do they go too far? Should the disqualification power also extend to persons holding other positions of responsibility in a charity?

7) Are there sufficient safeguards in the draft Bill for those subject to investigation and possible sanction by the Charity Commission? Is the role of the Charity Tribunal sufficient?

8) What is the case for the Charity Commission to be able to issue statutory warnings (clause 1)? What would be required for this warning regime to achieve the policy objective of providing a reasonable and proportionate way for the Commission to deal with lower risk breaches of the Charities Act 2011 or of fiduciary duties?

9) Should the Commission have power to prevent or restrict actions which in the Commission's view would amount to misconduct or mismanagement if they were allowed to proceed? If so, what safeguards should this power be subject to?


 
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Prepared 25 February 2015