Joint committee on the Draft Protection of Charities Bill endorses call for stronger powers for the regulator.
The Charity Commission says it is delighted that the cross-party committee appointed to scrutinise the Draft Protection of Charities Bill (‘draft Bill’) recommends the introduction of new powers for the regulator.
The joint committee has today published a report of its conclusions, which offers broad endorsement for powers set out in the draft legislation, as well as recommending the inclusion of further statutory provisions requested by the commission.
The committee, which included MPs and peers from across the political spectrum, and was chaired by crossbench peer Lord Hope of Craighead, has acknowledged that the commission is using its existing powers more effectively and that there is now a strong case for strengthening further the regulatory framework and closing legislative gaps.
The draft Bill addresses gaps in the regulator’s powers, and will strengthen the commission’s ability to protect charities from harm. Current anomalies mean, for example, that individuals with convictions for money laundering or terrorism-related offences are free to serve as charity trustees.
Among the additional provisions the committee calls for are:
a provision preventing individuals disqualified from trusteeship from assuming another position of power within a charity
a power allowing the commission to prevent/restrict trustees from taking certain action
The commission had voiced its disappointment that these provisions were not included in the original draft legislation, published in October 2014.
William Shawcross, Chairman of the Charity Commission, said:
I am delighted the joint committee has given the draft Bill its vote of confidence and has supported our calls for additional powers to be added to the legislation.
As the report makes clear, the Bill will help us deal more effectively with charities that are at risk of deliberate abuse or the negligent action of trustees. The number of such cases is small given the 164,000 charities on our register, but their impact on public trust and confidence in all charities can be significant. The measures in the Bill will strengthen the commission’s ability to act quickly to stop abuse and will thus enhance public trust in charities.
The committee noted the unusual consensus behind these proposals; its endorsement underlines the importance of the draft Bill becoming law swiftly. I would like to thank the joint committee for its conscientious work.
The commission says it will consider the report’s findings carefully, and looks forward to working with others to address issues and questions raised by the joint committee.
In a report published in January, the National Audit Office acknowledged improvements in the commission’s approach to tackling abuse and mismanagement in charities, including its increased use of powers.
Notes to editors
- The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales.
- Our mission is to be the independent registrar and regulator of charities in England and Wales, acting in the public’s interest, to ensure that:
- charities know what they have to do
- the public know what charities do
- charities are held to account
- For information about the Commission’s compliance case work, please see Tackling abuse and mismanagement 2013-14.
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