Five minutes in parliament – December 2014

Civil Society APPG Christmas Reception

We were delighted to welcome MPs, peers, and NCVO members to our annual Christmas reception, where Minister for Civil Society Rob Wilson and NCVO chair Martyn Lewis spoke.

The next Civil Society APPG session takes place on 20 January at 16.00 and will focus on small charities. If you would like to attend, please email

NCVO public affairs network

Shadow Minister Lisa Nandy launched her policies for the voluntary sector, following a consultation held over the summer. She then headed straight to NCVO to talk to our Public Affairs Network and answer their questions. You can read more about the policies Lisa discussed with us in her interview with Third Sector.

We hope to hold similar events in the New Year with representatives from the other major parties and will be in touch with Public Affairs Network members with details soon.

Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill

If you’re following the progress of the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill, you will have seen that it completed report stage this week.

The bill is intended to reassure ‘everyday heroes’ that the courts will take this into account should they face legal proceedings for their actions. The government brought an amendment that removed the phrase acting ‘without regard to the person’s own safety or other interests’, because it was thought this might exclude trained first aid volunteers from the scope of the bill.

The bill will have its third reading on 6 January.

Draft Protection of Charities Bill

The pre-legislative scrutiny of the Draft Protection of Charities Bill continued this week with an evidence session with the Charity Commission setting out their rationale for additional powers. Transcripts from the sessions are available on the committee’s website.

The call to evidence has now closed and the committee will finish with an evidence session with Civil Society Minister Rob Wilson in the New Year.

You can read more about NCVO’s recommendations in our response to the consultation on the new powers.

Society Lotteries

The Media, Culture and Sport Select Committee’s inquiry into society lotteries continued this week with evidence from the Minster for Civil Society Rob Wilson, Culture Minister Helen Grant, the Gambling Commission and the Big Lottery Fund.

NCVO’s Director of Policy Karl Wilding featured on the Today programme discussing the proposed deregulation of society lotteries.  You can listen again on BBC iPlayer.

E-petition proposals

The Commons Procedure Committee has published proposals that would extend the current e-petitions system.  At the moment, e-petitions that receive over 100,000 signatures are eligible to be debated in parliament, although very few are.

The committee suggest establishing a Petitions Committee that would consider the eligible petitions and could hear evidence from petitioners, as well as scrutinising the government response.

Christmas in parliament

Parliament is a wonderful place to be at any time of year, but it is especially lovely at Christmastime.

One annual tradition is the Downing Street children’s party, hosted by the Chancellor for Starlight Children’s Foundation for children with serious and terminal illnesses.

Parliament also has its own Christmas party for the children of MPs and staff. It must be said that Father Christmas bears a striking resemblance to the Shadow Chancellor.

Further reading

  1. I’ve shared Electoral Calculus graphs on this blog before. This one shows just how complicated the rise of smaller parties is making this election.
  2. From Guide’s Greig Baker, why public affairs is more about professional geekery than cash for access.
  3. Take a look at each of the party leaders’ Christmas cards. It’s fair to say that Miriam and Nick win Christmas again this year.

And finally…

That’s all from me, folks.  I’ll be joining the public affairs team at the Local Government Association in January.  It’s been a pleasure working with colleagues at NCVO and our members this year.  I hope you’ll stay in touch.

Applications for the Senior External Relations Officer role are open until 12 January 2015.

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Charlotte was our senior external relations officer and public affairs consultant. She has left NCVO

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