QUAKERS IN BRITAIN are joining other civil society members in a move to ensure the appointment of a new Chair of the Charity Commission is not politicised.
The joint open letter from the Good Law Project to Nadine Dorries MP – the new Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – says: “We, the undersigned, would like to welcome you as the new Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. We write as concerned members of UK civil society to ask you to ensure the appointment process for a new Chair of the Charity Commission is not politicised.
“Earlier this month, your predecessor Oliver Dowden MP announced his intention to crack down on charities in a Telegraph opinion piece. Talking about the hiring process for the new Chair of the Charity Commission, Mr Dowden complained about ‘a worrying trend in some charities that appear to have been hijacked by a vocal minority seeking to burnish their woke credentials’. He said the new Chair will be chosen based on their ability to ‘rebalance’ charities away from that agenda – and Ministers will only hire someone who convinces them they will do this.
“Charities exist for the important purpose of serving the public good, a fixed test set out in statute, which differs from the political agenda of the government of the day. Reflecting this reality, legislation is explicit that it should not be influenced by the Secretary of State.
“We believe Mr Dowden’s comments showed his ambition to direct and control the work of the Charity Commission to achieve political ends.
“I am sure you can see, as the British public can, there is a huge risk to our way of life if politicians hire a Chair to explicitly pursue a political agenda. We call upon you, as the Culture Secretary, to make clear your vision for a strong civil society, correctly regulated but free of Ministerial influence.”
Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain, said: “Quakers have played an active part in British civil society over nearly four centuries. Our faith tradition impels us to speak out where we see injustice or the seeds of violence in the world around us. We welcome fair and impartial regulation to improve our sector, but charities and faith groups must retain the right to speak out publicly about their concerns without fear of repercussions from the Charity Commission for England and Wales.”
* This issue applies to England and Wales only, as Scotland has its own regulator, The Scottish Charity Regulator.
* Source: Quakers in Britain