The government has accepted the majority of the recommendations made by the Joint Committee on the Draft Protection of Charities Bill, but it has also called for the introduction of two further powers not included in the draft.
The draft bill includes a range of measures designed to strengthen the Charity Commission’s powers and thus protect the charity sector from abuse, including the power to ban people with convictions for criminal offences, such as terrorism or money laundering, from being charity trustees, and to disqualify people from being charity trustees in certain other circumstances.
In its official response to the joint committee, published yesterday, the government gave its backing to most of the committee’s recommendations, which had largely sought greater clarity on how the proposed powers would work and additional safeguards in some instances.
But the government has called for the reintroduction of two measures that were included in the initial consultation but not included in the draft bill. These would give the commission the preventive power to direct charities not to take certain actions and extend the power to disqualify people from being charity trustees to other roles within charities.
Lord Hope of Craighead, the crossbench peer who chaired the committee, has previously said that the government should consider reinserting these measures into the draft bill.
But the government rejects the committee’s recommendation that the Charity Commission should wait for the conclusion of the appeals process before it acts in instances of misconduct or mismanagement. The government says in its response that there are some circumstances in which it would not be appropriate to "wait for the conclusion of the appeals process before it acts for the protection of charity".
William Shawcross, chair of the commission, said in a statement: "We welcome the government’s response to the Joint Committee on the Draft Protection of Charities Bill. This is another important step towards ensuring that the commission has sufficient powers to tackle serious abuse and wrongdoing in charities. We hope that the new government after 7 May will enact this bill as soon as possible so that the commission has the powers it urgently requires."