Former Commission CEO calls on MPs to scrutinise new chair

 In news, updates

Andrew Hind, former chief executive of the Charity Commission, has written to MPs to express concerns about the person the government has put forward as its preferred candidate to chair the regulator.

Baroness Stowell, a former Conservative leader of the House of Lords, was announced earlier this month as the government’s preferred candidate and will appear before the the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee tomorrow for a confirmation hearing.

In an open letter to Damian Collins, Conservative MP and chair of the committee, Hind said: “This is a public appointment which should be conducted in compliance with the Cabinet Office’s Governance Code on Public Appointments and under the principles of merit, fairness and openness.

“Why then is the Government’s preferred candidate to be the next chair of the Charity Commission a former Conservative Leader of the House of Lords, with little direct experience of either charities or regulation? Her fit with the published person specification is poor.”

The pre-appointment hearing will take place tomorrow at 11am. Collins has already indicated that the committee is concerned by the fallout from the Oxfam scandal, particularly the regulator’s role.

The committee will indicate whether it supports the appointment, but the government can still make the appointment in the face of the committee’s objections.

Earlier this month Hind wrote an article for Civil Society News warning that the regulator’s reputation is being “seriously damaged” by the board appointments process, and called for sweeping reform to the system.


Full letter

Dear Mr Collins

Pre-appointment hearing for Chair of the Charity Commission for England and Wales

The recent scandal at the President’s Club and safeguarding issues at Oxfam underline the crucial role of the Charity Commission in maintaining public trust in charities.

The need for the charity regulator to be independent from both government and party politics is surely self-evident. Its judgement and quasi-judicial decisions must be perceived to be unbiased by people of all parties and none.

This is a public appointment which should be conducted in compliance with the Cabinet Office’s Governance Code on Public Appointments and under the principles of merit, fairness and openness. Why then is the Government’s preferred candidate to be the next Chair of the Charity Commission a former Conservative Leader of the House of Lords, with little direct experience of either charities or regulation? Her fit with the published person specification is poor.

Your select committee will hold a pre-appointment hearing with Baroness Stowell tomorrow morning.  I urge committee members to explore how it can be in the public interest for Baroness Stowell to be confirmed in post when at least one other candidate in the public appointments process, with outstanding experience of both charities and regulation, has been overlooked. Perhaps it is because that individual has no political connections?

I ask the select committee to keep front-of-mind the long-term credibility and legitimacy of the Charity Commission.

Yours faithfully

Andrew Hind CB
Chief executive, Charity Commission 2004-10

– See more at: https://www.civilsociety.co.uk/news/former-charity-commission-ceo-calls-on-mps-to-scrutinise-suitability-of-baroness-stowell.html?utm_source=Civil+Society+News+List&utm_campaign=698c677a62-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_02_19&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_26f393b813-698c677a62-86503597#sthash.95hQaYlF.dpuf

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