Peers propose ad hoc committee to consider challenges facing charities

The House of Lords Liaison Committee wants to establish a committee for one session of parliament that would consider issues including sustainability

House of Lords
House of Lords

Peers have recommended establishing an short-term select committee in the House of Lords to examine challenges facing the charity sector.

Ad hoc committees are set up to look at a specific subject outside of the remit of the permanent House of Lords committees, and they generally run for one session of Parliament.

The House of Lords Liaison Committee makes recommendations on which ad hoc committees should be held during each parliamentary session, which are then voted on by the house.

If established, the new committee would examine "sustaining the charity sector and the challenges of governance".

The Liaison Committee’s third report of the 2015/16 session, published this week, says the Conservative peer Lord Shinkwin suggested the ad hoc committee could "explore how the charity sector could be strengthened through the development, dissemination and application of best practice, of mechanisms and of procedures for improving transparency and accountability".

The report lists topics that might fall under the ad hoc committee’s remit, including considering whether the regulatory role of the Charity Commission has distracted it from its more supportive work with charities, and how the regulator can promote trust in the charity sector.

The "recent controversies" in the voluntary sector could also be discussed, the report says, as well as how these problems could be avoided in the future and examples of best practice in transparency and accountability.

Other topics the committee might discuss, according to the report, arel examine how the recent decline in public trust can be addressed, the fiduciary duties of trustees, lessons that can be learnt from devolved administrations’ experiences and the impact of recent legislation, such as the lobbying act.

The next step is for the Liaison Committee’s report to be debated in the House of Lords, but it is rare that the committee’s recommendations are rejected.

The debate will take place at some point before the start of the next session of Parliament on 18 May. 

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