Two Labour peers have tabled amendments to the new charities bill that would force all fundraising charities to become members of the Fundraising Standards Board and abide by the Code of Fundraising Practice.
The Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill, which would expand the powers of the Charity Commission and give charities an explicit statutory power to make social investments, will be debated by peers at the committee stage today.
Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town and Lord Watson of Invergowrie have made two amendments on fundraising regulation, which are likely to be discussed on 1 July. They would add a new clause to the CPSI bill called "Regulation of fundraising", which would say: "All fundraising charities must be members of the Fundraising Standards Board and abide by the Code of Fundraising Practice."
Watson has previously said that FRSB membership should be compulsory only for charities that raise more than £1m a year.
The second amendment would change the existing powers given to the Minister for Civil Society by the Charities Act 1992 to make orders about charity fundraising.
The peers’ amendment says the minister "must" exercise these powers when he or she sees necessary and would replace the exising wording, which says the minister "may" do so.
Parliamentary convention means, however, that both of these amendments will be withdrawn, because procedure dictates that amendments tabled at grand committee stage are never put to vote.
Nonetheless, Hayter told Third Sector that if the government did not pick up these amendments, she and Watson would table them for a vote when the CPSI bill entered its report stage, the next step on the parliamentary path.
"It is clear that something must happen – I don’t think the government can get away with doing nothing," she said. "My feeling very strongly is that we have to end up with the bill giving teeth to the FRSB."
She said another option would be to legislate that non-compliance with the code would be considered misconduct.
Other amendments tabled by Hayter and Watson will be debated on the first two days of the grand committee stage. These include making it a statutory requirement for charities to report serious incidents to the Charity Commission, and adding convictions for sex offences or being on the sex offender register to the list of reasons for automatic disqualification from trusteeship.
Amendments tabled by other peers that will be debated in the grand committee include Labour peer Lord Lea of Crondall’s suggestion that the commission’s annual report should include its assessment of "the extent to which, in its opinion, it acted in a proportionate, accountable, consistent, transparent and targeted manner".
Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, the Conservative peer, has tabled amendments that would dramatically simplify the rules governing who can bring an appeal against a decision of the commission at the charity tribunal.
Other amendments would tweak the existing definition of social investment in the bill and modify the duties of trustees in considering making such an investment.