Little at Large

Could charity leaders put the House in order?

- Conservative charities spokesman Nick Hurd confessed to an audience last week that time away from Parliament was like "day release from death row".

The House of Commons is possibly the only institution in Britain that actually has any vacancies just now, and Acevo's Stephen Bubb has piped up with the suggestion that third sector leaders should stand in winnable seats.

But would the entry to the Commons of the paragons of the most trusted sector in Britain really result in the house-cleaning that Bubb hopes for? In 2001, one third sector leader, the chief executive of Cats Protection, decided to stand for Parliament. His name was Derek Conway. Phil Hope used to work for the NCVO. Shahid Malik is a former chair of Urban Forum.

- European third sector network Euclid has been bemoaning the fact that only 5 per cent of European Parliament candidates bothered to respond to its questionnaire on their attitudes to the third sector.

Strangely, the highest response rate came from the UK Independence Party. In answer to the question "why should civil society leaders vote for your party?", its leader, Nigel Farage, promised to represent electors' best interests rather than "conceiving some treacherous, twisted concept of the party's own interest". But does UKIP support a European Compact or not?

- "We have had what could best be described as light-touch regulation," Northern Ireland social development minister Margaret Ritchie said last week as she welcomed the country's first Charity Commission. "We have been out of step with the rest of Britain," she explained. But isn't light-touch regulation what another Charity Commission has been practising in England and Wales for a few years?

- Sharp intakes of breath as NCVO boss Stuart Etherington posts on the web that his expenses total £111,000. Murmurs of disappointment as he rapidly corrects that to £11,000. You're all thumbs when you're having a cyber ding-dong with someone.

Mathew Little is a freelance writer, mathew.little@haymarket.com.

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