The Queen's Speech 2014

A draft bill to give more powers to the Charity Commission was among the measures announced in the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday 4 June.

The Protection of Charities Bill would enforce some or all of the changes to the law proposed in a consultation late last year by Nick Hurd, minister for civil society.

Proposals in the consultation included:

  • A wide-ranging group of powers for the Commission to disqualify trustees;
  • A right for the Commission to shut down a charity and transfer its assets to another charity; and
  • A right for the Commission to act in more situations, and use its power outside a statutory inquiry.

The government said in a document outlining measures in the speech that the main benefits of the proposals would be protecting charities from abuse by people who present a known risk, making it easier for the Charity Commission to take robust action against individuals and charities in cases of abuse, and supporting public trust and confidence in the effective regulation of charities.

The bill will not appear during the current Parliamentary session.

A bill which gives volunteers more protection from being sued was also announced in the speech.

The Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill was announced prior to the Queen’s Speech by Chris Grayling. The Ministry of Justice, who said it will give extra protection against legal action to those acting “in the common good”, and singled out the fact that volunteers were among those intended to be protected.

The Ministry of Justice said the law will be changed so that judges will have to give weight to three additional factors when deciding negligence cases. They are:

  • If the person was doing something for ‘the benefit of society’ such as volunteering;
  • If they had been acting in a ‘generally responsible way’; or
  • If they were ‘acting in an emergency’ by helping someone in danger.