Reviews of the operation of this Act

Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 7:30 pm on 5 January 2016.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Rob Wilson Rob Wilson The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

This is a review clause. We took on board the concerns raised in the other place that five years would be too long before the first review, and we have debated some of those concerns today. We amended the Bill so that the first review will have to start within three years of enactment and conclude within a year. Subsequent reviews will have to take place every five years. All the reviews will be reported to Parliament.

We must remember that the Charity Commission estimates that some of the new powers might only be exercised once or twice a year, so allowing time for the development and publication of guidance and, in some cases, public consultation before the provision can be commenced means that for some of the powers there may be a limited evidence base for the first review after three years. Nevertheless, this is a sensible provision that will enable us to determine whether the Bill has achieved its aims, and I commend it to the Committee.

Photo of Anna Turley Anna Turley Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

The Opposition support this clause because it is a simple and practical way of providing for the Minister to review the operation of the Bill. As he mentioned, we have had quite a lot of discussion and debate today about the timeframe for monitoring the Bill. We have had a lot of debate about the onus that much of the Bill puts on the Charity Commission, about many of the new powers and about many of the new expectations that will be placed on charity and community groups. It is right that we review those things.

The Minister has used the word “proportionate” many times when talking about the decision making and judgments that the Charity Commission will have to exercise in taking steps to raise standards within the charity sector. Continuing to review that will be important. We will also continue to assess the financial impact, particularly on the Charity Commission but also on the charity sector, of many of the new demands and powers.

As the Minister said, it is important that new guidance, new policy papers and new explanations, definitions and criteria for the Charity Commission will be set out, consulted on, established and reviewed consistently within three years of the enactment of the Bill. Three years, moving to five years thereafter, is a perfect timeframe to establish that, so we support the clause.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 16 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 17