The new Joint Committee on the draft Protection of Charities Bill has today published its Call for Evidence. The Committee is inviting written evidence to be received by 16 December.
The Committee is working to a tight deadline and will report in February. It will limit its inquiry to specific contents of the draft Bill rather than charity policy more generally.
The Committee would welcome general observations from charities based on their experience of working with the Charity Commission but will not consider the merits of individual cases the Commission has investigated.
Commenting Lord Hope of Craighead, Chairman of the Joint Committee, said:
"Charities play a vital role in our country and internationally, and they do vital work across many areas of society. The public needs to have confidence in how they are run and regulated and at the same time the regulation of charities must be carried out in a way which is appropriate to the size and diversity of the sector as a whole.
New legislation could have a significant impact on the charity sector. The Committee's role is an important part of the process. Its aim is to ensure that we get the Bill in the best possible form when it is eventually put before Parliament.
As we are working to a tight timetable, our inquiry will focus on key areas in the Bill, which would provide a number of new powers to the Charity Commission."
Areas of interest
Some of the questions the Committee are inviting evidence on include:
- What is the current nature and extent of mismanagement and misconduct in the charity sector?
- Is the Charity Commission an effective regulator? If not, is this due to limited powers, reduced resources or problems with its strategic approach?
- Would the draft Bill give the Charity Commission the powers it needs? How do its powers compare with those of other civil regulators?
- Is the Government right to expand the criteria for the automatic disqualification of trustees? Should the disqualification power also extend to persons holding other positions of responsibility in a charity?
- Are there sufficient safeguards in the Bill for those subject to sanction by the Charity Commission? Is the role of the Charity Tribunal sufficient?
- Should the Charity Commission be able to issue statutory warnings? Should it have the power to prevent or restrict actions which it believed would amount to misconduct or mismanagement if allowed to proceed?