Joint Committee on the Draft Charities Bill

Press Notice

No. 2 of Session 2003-04, 27 May 2004

Embargo: For immediate release

Further information: Francene Graham [email protected] 0207 219 8387

FIRST ORAL EVIDENCE SESSIONS ON DRAFT CHARITIES BILL


FIRST ORAL EVIDENCE SESSIONS ON DRAFT CHARITIES BILL

Following publication of the draft Charities Bill on 27 May 2004 (Cm 6199), the Joint Committee will start taking oral evidence on Wednesday 9 June.  Evidence sessions are planned up to Wednesday 21 July and the Committee has to report by 30 September.

The draft Bill will be available to download from the Home Office website: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/comrace/active/charitylaw/index.html

The text of the draft Bill will be available on the website link below from Friday 28 May 2004:

http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/jcdchb.cfm

ORAL EVIDENCE

The Committee will take oral evidence in public from the following witnesses:

Wednesday 9 June at 9.05 am

Stuart Etherington, National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), Stephen Bubb, Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO), Mary Marsh, National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and Dr John Low, Royal National Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing People (RNID).

Wednesday 16 June at 9.05 am

Christopher Spence, Centre for Volunteering, David Emerson, Association of Charitable Foundations, and Rhona Howarth, Governance Works; Charity Law Association (tbc)(at about 10.25 am)

The Committee is planning to take oral evidence on Wednesday 23 June on the issue of how independent schools and hospitals which charge fees demonstrate adequate public benefit arising from their charitable status.

The Committee has deferred taking oral evidence from small charities to give them more time to prepare, but is now planning to take oral evidence from small charities at two meetings on one day in July.

Further evidence sessions are to be announced. Meetings will take place in Committee Room 5 in the Palace of Westminster; it is advisable to ring the office on 020 7219 8387 to check the precise venue of each meeting a few days in advance.

For maps and directions to Parliament please click on the link below:

www.parliament.uk/visiting/maps.cfm

A transcript of each public meeting will be placed on the Committee's web pages.  The web pages also contain the Committee's call for written evidence, and will contain much of the written evidence received by the Committee: www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/jcdchb.cfm

Notes to Editors

1 Membership of the Committee:

Chairman: Rt Hon Alan Milburn MP (Lab, Darlington).

Lord Best (Crossbench); Lord Campbell-Savours (Labour); Earl of Caithness (Conservative); Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall (Labour); Lord Phillips of Sudbury (LibDem); Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover (Con); Mr Alan Campbell MP (Lab, Tynemouth); Rt Hon George Foulkes MP (Lab, Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley); Ms Sally Keeble MP (Lab, Northampton North); Mr Andrew Mitchell MP (Con, Sutton Coldfield); Bob Russell MP (LibDem, Colchester).

 2 Scope of the Committee's inquiry

The Joint Committee is very aware of the wide spectrum of charity activity, the number of small organisations and the distinction between fund-raising and grant-giving charities. It expects to concentrate its inquiry on the following themes:

1. Does the draft Bill strike the right balance between flexibility and accountability? How can the danger of over-regulation be avoided? How will this affect smaller voluntary-run charities?

2. Will the Bill improve public confidence in charities?  Will it encourage more giving and volunteering?

3. Are the 12 new charitable purposes the draft Bill proposes for a charity satisfactory -- should there be additions or deletions? Is the phrase 'public benefit' best left undefined in the Bill?  Do fee-paying schools which are charities demonstrate adequate public benefit arising from their activities?

4. Are there aspects of the draft Bill which would permit the charity and voluntary sector to play a greater role in the delivery of public services if they wished to do so?

5. What are the likely benefits and costs of the draft Bill? What level of funding will be necessary for the Charity Commission to carry out its additional tasks effectively?

6. Is it right that the draft Bill does not include the recommendation in the Strategy Unit consultation paper, Private Action, Public Benefit, that charities should be allowed to trade as part of their normal activities without the need to set up a trading company?

7. Are the proposals to regulate fund-raising workable?

8. Are the specific proposals in the draft Bill (such as the new corporate legal form, the Charitable Incorporated Organisation) adequate, workable and beneficial?

The Joint Committee also intends to take into account developments in similar legislation in Scotland and progress on the provisions for Community Interest Companies in the Companies (Audit, Investigations and Community Enterprise) Bill currently before the House of Lords.

3 Further information about the inquiry can be found in the attached Call for Evidence.

To follow the inquiry: www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/jcdchb.cfm. All oral evidence session will be webcast and available on : www.parliamentlive.tv

CALL FOR EVIDENCE

The Joint Committee invites interested organisations and individuals to submit written evidence as part of its inquiry into the Draft Charities Bill. The Committee is working to a very tight timetable set by the Government. Oral evidence has to be taken in June and the first half of July.  If written evidence is going to influence those sessions, therefore, it needs to be sent in as soon as possible. We hope larger charities will submit evidence no later than Monday 21 June and that smaller charities will do so by Monday 28 June. Written evidence received up to 15 July will still be taken into account.  The earlier submissions are made the greater the chance that the Committee will be able to consider them in detail.  

Scope of the Committee's inquiry

The Joint Committee is very aware of the wide spectrum of charity activity, the number of small organisations and the distinction between fund-raising and grant-giving charities. It expects to concentrate its inquiry on the following themes:

1. Does the draft Bill strike the right balance between flexibility and accountability? How can the danger of over-regulation be avoided? How will this affect smaller voluntary-run charities?

2. Will the Bill improve public confidence in charities?  Will it encourage more giving and volunteering?

3. Are the 12 new charitable purposes the draft Bill proposes for a charity satisfactory -- should there be additions or deletions? Is the phrase 'public benefit' best left undefined in the Bill?  Do fee-paying schools which are charities demonstrate adequate public benefit arising from their activities?

4. Are there aspects of the draft Bill which would permit the charity and voluntary sector to play a greater role in the delivery of public services if they wished to do so?

5. What are the likely benefits and costs of the draft Bill? What level of funding will be necessary for the Charity Commission to carry out its additional tasks effectively?

6. Is it right that the draft Bill does not include the recommendation in the Strategy Unit consultation paper, Private Action, Public Benefit, that charities should  be allowed to trade as part of their normal activities without the need to set up a trading company?

7. Are the proposals to regulate fund-raising workable?

8. Are the specific proposals in the draft Bill (such as the new corporate legal form, the Charitable Incorporated Organisation)  adequate, workable and beneficial?

The Joint Committee also intends to take into account developments in similar legislation in Scotland and progress on the provisions for Community Interest Companies in the Companies (Audit, Investigations and Community Enterprise) Bill currently before the House of Lords.

Written evidence

Given the limited time available for the submission of evidence and for the completion of the Committee's work, written evidence should be short, concentrate on the major issues arising from the draft Bill and contain a brief introduction to the persons or organisations submitting it. Submissions should take the form of a memorandum and should have numbered paragraphs. An indicative length would be 1,000-1,200 words - memoranda which exceed five pages should be accompanied by a one-page summary. Memoranda may be accompanied by background material (perhaps already published elsewhere) which would not be reprinted by the Joint Committee.

We wish to receive written evidence, if possible in MS Word or rich text format, by e-mail to [email protected].  A single hard copy (single-sided, unbound) should also be sent to : Francene Graham, Committee Assistant to the Joint Committee on the Draft Charities Bill

Scrutiny Unit,  Room G10,  7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA  (fax: 0207 219 8381)

Once written evidence has been submitted it becomes the property of the Committee. Those who have submitted written evidence to the Joint Committee are welcome to publish their evidence themselves (for example, by placing it on their own website), provided that it is not published until after the Joint Committee has acknowledged receipt of the evidence and that it is made clear that the document was prepared as evidence to the Joint Committee. Written submissions from those giving oral evidence will be available at the relevant hearing. Written evidence from others will either be published by the Committee with its final Report or placed in the public domain when that Report is published. Individuals and organisations considering submitting information to the Committee that they would wish the Committee to treat as confidential should consult the Clerks in advance, initially by sending an e-mail to the address given above.

To follow the inquiry, see: www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/jcdchb.cfm

Webcasts of all evidence sessions are available within 24 hours at http://www.parliamentlive.tv/

If you wish to be added to the mailing list for future notices, please contact: Francene Graham, Committee Assistant to the Joint Committee on the Draft Charities Bill

Scrutiny Unit,  Room G10,  7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA 

Email: [email protected]
Tel: 020 7219 8387
Fax: 020 7219 8381.