The inside track: April 2018

Some of you might be familiar with our quarterly political update, the Inside Track. We want to give you the latest news on what’s going on in Westminster and what it means for charities, so this is the first in a series of monthly blogs that will focus on political and parliamentary news, and less on policy. If you miss the policy content, you can follow Elizabeth’s monthly update blog.

Parliament

The European Union (withdrawal) bill is finally nearing the end of its passage through parliament. The key votes in the Lords will take place over six days in the next few weeks – any amendments that are agreed will then go to the Commons.

Key issues include the process for approving the withdrawal agreement, and the protection of environmental standards and human rights currently not included in the bill. Liberty recently wrote a blog for us on how they are trying to ensure the bill maintains existing human rights protections.

The most contentious issue is likely to be devolution, or which legislative bodies powers leaving the EU are transferred to. Negotiations to provide greater certainty that powers will be devolved are ongoing, but the Scottish and Welsh governments are still threatening to oppose legislative consent for the bill unless further changes are made.

Pre-appointment hearings inquiry

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee has opened an inquiry into pre-appointment hearings for public appointments following recent controversy over the government’s decision to appoint Baroness Stowell as chair of the Charity Commission despite the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s negative report.

NCVO will be submitting evidence on how the appointments process can be improved. The deadline for submissions is 4 May.

Lords ad hoc committees

The House of Lords Liaison Committee has recommended the establishment of four ad-hoc committees to undertake inquiries on:

  • the Bribery Act 2010
  • inter-generational fairness
  • regenerating seaside towns and communities
  • and the rural economy.

Ad-hoc committees allow crossbench groups of peers to look into specific subjects in greater detail.

Last year’s inquiry on citizenship and civic engagement is expected to publish its report in the next few weeks.

People news

Danny Kruger has been appointed as an expert adviser to DCMS, focusing on the civil society strategy. Mr Kruger was previously a speechwriter for David Cameron and set up charity Only Connect.

Select committees

Nigel Mills has replaced fellow Conservative MP Robert Courts on the Backbench Business Committee. Labour MP Daniel Zeichner has been appointed to the Petitions Committee, replacing party colleague Susan Elan Jones.

A new political party?

Speculation about a new centrist political party has reignited, after a plea for David Miliband to lead a new movement. However, the high levels of support for both main parties and the challenges of the UK’s electoral system mean that new centrist parties will likely remain ideas rather than genuine political forces.

It’s still possible that internal tensions in the Labour party will push some towards an alternative movement. But unless that happens the prospect of a British Macron, however well funded, seems limited.

In reality, UK politics has been in something of a holding pattern and will probably remain in a relatively stable position until further developments take place on Brexit. For charities that means building relationships with government and opposition parties to influence both the current day-to-day agenda, but also to start setting out what the UK could and should look like post-Brexit.

Join us at our annual Campaigning Conference

We’ve opened bookings for our annual Campaigning Conference on 10 September. Whether you’re in a campaigns, policy or public affairs role at a charity, we have workshops and debates to support and inspire you. We’ll highlight the latest developments in campaigning, provide practical examples of what’s worked and give advice on how to create real change through your campaigns.

NCVO can help you to navigate Westminster and Whitehall

Make sure your voice is heard by those making the decisions. We can provide a range of advice, support and training. Contact chris.walker@ncvo.org.uk for details.

If you want to learn more about how you can use parliament to secure change, our next Influencing Parliament course is on 28 September.

If you want to take your campaigning to the next level, applications have opened for Series 19 of NCVO’s Certificate in Campaigning, starting in October. We are also running our next Leadership in Campaigns course on 14 and 15 June.

Feedback

Please do get in touch with me at chris.walker@ncvo.org.uk if there’s anything you’d like to see included, or you have any other comments.

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Chris Walker Chris is a Senior External Relations Officer at NCVO, focusing on parliamentary work. He started his career working for several MPs in Parliament, and has also worked in public affairs and policy roles for the Federation of Small Businesses.

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