Northern Ireland Assembly
Communities Committee Launches Call for Evidence and Views on the Charities Bill
The Assembly’s Committee for Communities has today launched its ‘Call for Evidence and Views’ on the Charities Bill. The Bill proposes an amendment to the Charities Act (NI) 2008 with retrospective effect to render lawful many previous decisions made by Commission staff.
The new Bill also includes fresh appeal rights for those orders made lawful and will also “carve out” other decisions to remain unlawful to allow them to proceed to their natural conclusion, by way of the courts, if necessary.
Speaking after today’s launch, the Committee Chairperson Paula Bradley MLA said:
“As well as examining proposals to amend the Charities Act (NI) 2008 and the inclusion of fresh appeal rights, my Committee will also be ensuring that the new Bill provides clarity on the future delegation of decision-making powers to Charity Commission staff.
“We will also be considering proposals within the Bill to introduce a registration threshold via subordinate legislation, which would exempt any charity falling below that threshold from registering with the Charity Commission and being subject to the Charities (Accounts and Reports) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015.”
Ms. Bradley continued:
“It is important to stress that the Charities Bill and the Committee scrutiny of the Bill is being taken forward in parallel with the Independent Review of Charity Regulation in Northern Ireland’. This means that many of the wider issues around charity regulation are being considered by the Independent Review and do not form part of this particular Bill.”
Ms Bradley concluded:
“The overarching objective of this Bill is to deal with issues raised from the McBride Judgement of 2019 and subsequent Court of Appeal Judgement.
“We look forward to hearing from relevant stakeholders on the detail of the Bill so that we can ensure future legislation plays its part in protecting charities, protecting rights and restoring the pillars of the regulatory framework for charities.”
The Committee’s ‘Call for Evidence and Views’ provides further information and details on how to respond. The closing date for responses is 5pm on Friday 3 September 2021.
Notes to Editors:
The McBride Judgment of 2019 which found that the 2008 Act, taken together with section 19 of the Interpretation Act (Northern Ireland) 1954, did not provide express or implied power for the Commission to delegate its functions to staff acting alone.
The judgement further found that all decisions could only be taken by the Board acting collectively or by a Committee established by the Board in accordance with Schedule 1 of the Act. Read further information on the ruling.
The Committee for Communities membership is:
Paula Bradley MLA (Chairperson)
Kellie Armstrong MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Andy Allen MLA
Pam Cameron MLA
Mark H Durkan MLA
Alex Easton MLA
Sinéad Ennis MLA
Fra McCann MLA
Karen Mullan MLA
Media enquiries to:
The Communications Office
Northern Ireland Assembly
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