The inside track: March 2021

Our latest update on what’s going on in Westminster that might impact charities, including a delay to the controversial police bill and a new interim chair of the Charity Commission.

Parliament

Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill has been delayed, with the Commons committee stage set to take place later in the year.

The controversial bill, which includes sweeping powers to restrict protests, is the subject of significant concern from civil society. A carry-over motion has been agreed, which means the bill can be brought back in the next parliamentary session.

Charity Commission decision on the National Trust

The Charity Commission has found there were no grounds for regulatory action against the National Trust over its report on links between its properties, colonialism and slavery.

It wasn’t a surprise that the Commission made this finding, but it was welcome that they stated very clearly that charities are “allowed to campaign and to take controversial positions in support of their purpose”. If you’re a charity that is seeking to engage on a contentious issue, it’s worth reading the blogs by Helen Stephenson and Hilary McGrady discussing the issue.

People news

After a change to the law, attorney general Suella Braverman has become the first cabinet minister to take maternity leave. Michael Ellis will take up the post, with Lucy Frazer replacing him as solicitor general.

By-elections

SNP MP Neil Gray has resigned to stand in Airdrie and Shotts at the upcoming Scottish parliamentary election, the same area he has represented in Westminster, initiating a by-election.

Labour MP Mike Hill has also stood down, meaning a by-election will also be held in Hartlepool.

A new party

Two SNP MPs have defected to Alex Salmond’s new Alba party. Kenny MacAskill and Neale Hanvey have made the move ahead of the Scottish parliamentary election, in which Mr Salmond has said his new party will aim to secure a super-majority for Scottish independence.

Charity Commission interim chair

Ian Karet has taken over as interim chair at the Charity Commission, after Baroness Stowell announced she would not seek a second term. A solicitor and deputy high court judge, Mr Karet has served on the Commission’s board for two years.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has started advertising for a permanent chair, with applications open until 9 April, with an announcement expected in the summer.

Consultations and inquiries

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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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