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The inside track: July 2022

Our latest update on what’s happening in Westminster that might impact charities. This month sees the Prime Minister stepping down, the race to replace him, and the introduction of several bills.

Parliament

Status of bills

A new Prime Minister may choose to end the parliamentary session and introduce a new Queen’s Speech to reflect their agenda. Historically, however, Prime Ministers taking over mid-term haven’t immediately moved towards a new session. If you are currently working on legislation which you support and would like to go through, you should engage with officials about the progress of the legislation and, if necessary, argue for the bill to be carried over to the next session, or passed as swiftly as possible.

Procurement bill

The procurement bill has reached committee stage in the House of Lords. There has so far been welcome support for strengthening social value provisions, and ensuring contracts are accessible for smaller providers, including charities. We have briefed peers and suggested a number of amendments and hope the government will ensure that the legislation is strengthened.

Bill of rights bill

The government has published a bill to reform the Human Rights Act, resulting in significant concern about measures which would weaken existing human rights protections. NCVO is part of a broad coalition of organisations opposed to the legislation who have written to the justice secretary, calling for the bill to be subject to more scrutiny before it is introduced.

People news

Resignation of the Prime Minister

After over 50 of his MPs resigned from government, the Prime Minister last week indicated he would stand down as leader of the Conservative Party and would resign as Prime Minister once his party has chosen a successor.

There are a number of immediate challenges for charities in responding, with influencing strategies needing to be adapted to reflect the new political environment. Some charities may be concerned by pledges of some of the leadership candidates on rescinding net zero targets, and getting rid of ‘woke rubbish’. This could mean that charities have to defend policies that already seemed to be settled, and potentially being drawn into additional contentious political debates.

Conservative leadership election

The Conservative Party’s backbench ruling body, the 1922 committee, has announced the rules for the contest:

20 nominations from MPs will be required to stand in the first ballot, which will take place on Wednesday. Any candidate who fails to secure 30 votes in that ballot will be eliminated. Further ballots will eliminate the lowest placed candidate until only two are left, who will then be subject to a vote of the party membership, with the result expected to be announced on 5 September.

Currently, there is a wide field of declared candidates, though the rules on number of nominations should see that narrowed down significantly in the next day or two. Potential candidates so far are:

  • Rishi Sunak, former chancellor of the exchequer
  • Penny Mordaunt, former defence secretary and current trade minister
  • Liz Truss, foreign secretary
  • Tom Tugendhat, chair of the foreign affairs committee
  • Kemi Badenoch, former levelling up minister
  • Priti Patel, home secretary
  • Nadhim Zahawi, newly appointed chancellor of the exchequer
  • Jeremy Hunt, former health secretary and runner up in the 2019 leadership contest
  • Suella Braverman, attorney general
  • Sajid Javid, former chancellor, whose resignation as health secretary was the first of over 50 in a matter of days
  • Rehman Chishti, newly appointed foreign affairs minister

Labour leadership

There had been speculation that the leadership in both parties would be vacant, after Sir Keir Starmer pledged to resign if issued a fixed penalty notice for attending a campaigning event held in 2021. However, Durham Police indicated on Friday that he and his deputy Angela Rayner had been cleared, meaning he is now highly likely to lead Labour into the next general election.

By-elections

The House of Commons has welcomed two new MPs after the Conservatives lost two by-elections, one each to Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

Simon Lightwood won Wakefield for Labour, returning it to the party after Imran Ahmad Khan won it for the Conservatives in 2019 — the first time the party had held the seat since 1932. Mr Khan stood down as an MP after being convicted of sexual assault.

Tiverton and Honiton was lost to Liberal Democrat candidate Richard Foord, overturning a majority of over 24,000 to take the seat. Previous MP Neil Parish resigned the seat after being caught watching pornography in the Commons chamber.

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