The inside track: May 2019

Our latest update on what’s going on in Westminster that might impact charities, including why there might be an opportunity for charities in parliament, new ministers, and whether charities should be preparing for a new prime minister.


Wild animals in circuses and an opportunity for charities

While Brexit legislation is being held back due to the lack of a Brexit deal, we have started to see government progressing smaller, non-controversial, bills to fill the gap. Last week saw the second reading of the wild animals in circuses bill, which will ban the use of wild animals by travelling circuses by January 2020, something many animal charities have been advocating for many years.

This might signal what’s to come over the next few months, with Brexit discussions stalling. It’s been reported that the government is expecting to delay the Queen’s Speech and looking for similar opportunities to pass non-controversial legislation. For charities it might be time to think about what you want that would need relatively limited legislative time and civil service capacity. In particular it could be worth pushing on things that have been promised, but are yet to materialise.

Select committees inquiry

The liaison committee is holding an inquiry on the effectiveness of select committees. They’ve started taking oral evidence, and recently held a session with constitutional experts.

How charities can influence regulation

We spend a lot of time looking at how regulation will impact charities and voluntary organisations, and have been talking to the Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC) about how we can ensure charities are able to input into impact assessments. The RPC is a statutory body which assesses how effectively regulatory impact assessments have been carried out, and how widely they have consulted. Laura Cox, the RPC commissioner with specific responsibility for ensuring charities’ views are taken into account, has written a blog for us about how they’re looking to involve charities in the process.

People news

Gavin Williamson’s sacking after the Huawei leak inquiry, means that we have a new defence secretary in Penny Mordaunt, and a new international development secretary in Rory Stewart. Ms Mordaunt has retained her position as minister for women and equalities.

Bond have welcomed the appointment of Mr Stewart, most recently a minister at the Ministry of Justice.

These appointments have also initiated several ministerial changes at the Ministry of Justice with Robert Buckland becoming prisons and probation minister, Lucy Frazer taking over from him as solicitor general, and Paul Maynard joining as courts and justice minister.

Peterborough by-election

The first successful recall petition means that Fiona Onasanya is no longer an MP and a by-election will be held in Peterborough. Ms Onasanya is eligible to stand in the by-election (though had already been replaced as Labour candidate), but has chosen not to. The seat is generally seen as a Labour-Conservative marginal, but the Brexit Party could also potentially challenge.

Other appointments

  • Recently elected Labour MP Ruth Jones has joined the environmental audit committee, replacing Alex Cunningham. Colin Clark has left the committee, and will be replaced by fellow Conservative Derek Thomas.
  • Angela Crawley has replaced fellow SNP MP Dr Philippa Whitford on the health and social care committee.
  • Labour MP Stephanie Peacock has replaced Change UK MP Gavin Shuker on the women and equalities committee.

Should we be preparing for a new prime minister?

On Wednesday the prime minister will be meeting with the 1922 committee, the body that represents the Conservative parliamentary party. She has been asked to set out further details of her departure, after previously announcing she would stand down once the withdrawal agreement has been passed.

It’s difficult to tell, but it seems that Conservative MPs are increasingly looking towards a leadership election, and several have called for the prime minister to resign. While under current rules the prime minister cannot be subject to a no confidence motion by Conservative MPs until December, it’s relatively easy for those rules to be changed if there is agreement that she should go sooner. If no timescale for her departure is given, there is every chance this option will be taken.

While charities probably shouldn’t be second-guessing the always unpredictable Conservative leadership election process, if you’re putting together a long-term public affairs strategy, it’s probably worth noting that there’s a strong possibility of a new prime minister, with a different approach and new priorities, in the not too distant future. And it’s also likely that whoever that new prime minister is will take a harder line on Brexit, and will put the prospect of a no-deal Brexit back on the table.

NCVO Campaigning Conference

As usual we’ll be holding our annual Campaigning Conference in September, and we’ve opened bookings. We’re delighted that Sue Baker, global director of Time to Change, will be giving a keynote speech. We’ve also added some info on workshops (with more to be announced), and if you book before Friday 28 June you’ll get a 10% discount.

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 for details.

If you’re looking for campaigning training, our new training website now has all of our courses in one place.

Our next Influencing parliament course will be on 8 July. As Brexit continues to limit parliamentary and government time for other matters, it’s even more important that you make effective use of the tactics available to influence through parliament.

Brexit updates

We’ve produced a factsheet for charities to help them prepare for the impact of Brexit.

If you want to keep in touch with the latest Brexit news, it’s also worth following these:

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Avatar photo Chris is NCVO’s public affairs manager, 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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