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The inside track: September 2023

Policy and public affairs manager, Chris Walker, shares the latest Westminster updates that might impact charities. This month sees a Labour reshuffle, an update on new APPG rules, and a look ahead to party conferences.

Parliament news

New APPG rules

Parliament has adopted new rules for All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) proposed by the Committee on Standards.

An APPG is an unofficial cross-party grouping in parliament. APPGs are based on a shared interest and are often supported by charities. For example, NCVO provides the secretariat for the APPG on Charities and Volunteering.

The Committee recognised there were concerns over the activities of some APPGs. They’ve recommended new measures that aim to make APPGs more transparent. They’ve also set higher levels of engagement to start up.

The new rules include the following.

  • MPs will only be able to serve as officers for a maximum of six APPGs.
  • APPGs can have a maximum of four officers.
  • The annual general meeting (AGM) of an APPG must be chaired by an MP who is not a member of the group. This is to ensure rules are followed. A minimum of eight parliamentarians must also attend the AGM.
  • Groups must publish annual reports detailing their work. They must also publish income and expenditure statements. · Groups may no longer have a secretariat that is provided or funded by a foreign government.

Procurement bill

The procurement bill will return to the House of Lords next week. Peers will consider amendments made in the House of Commons.

If Peers vote to approve the amendments, the bill will complete the last of its parliamentary stages and will pass into law once it has received Royal Assent.

Party conferences

MPs have returned from their summer recess this week, which means party conferences will be starting soon.

NCVO will be attending the following party conferences.

  • Liberal Democrat Conference: 23 to 26 September, Bournemouth
  • Conservative Party Conference: 1 to 4 October, Manchester
  • Green Party Conference: 6 to 7 October, Brighton
  • Labour Party Conference: 8 to 11 October, Liverpool

If you’d like to catch up with us at one of the conferences, please contact me at chris.walker@ncvo.org.uk.

Reshuffle and by-election news

Government reshuffle

The government has carried out a minor reshuffle. As expected, Ben Wallace is stepping down as defence secretary, with Grant Shapps replacing him.

Grant Shapps’s replacement at the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero is Claire Coutinho. Claire was previously a junior minister at the Department for Education.

Labour reshuffle

The Labour reshuffle was more comprehensive. It’s expected to be the last major change to the frontbench team before the general election.

Angela Rayner, shadow levelling up secretary

Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, has moved from shadowing the cabinet office to lead on Labour’s levelling up work.

First elected in 2015, she has held a number of frontbench positions under both Jeremy Corbyn and Keir Starmer.

Lisa Nandy, shadow cabinet minister for international development

Former leadership candidate and shadow levelling up secretary Lisa Nandy is now shadowing the international development brief.

First elected in 2010, the Wigan MP has served in a number of shadow roles, including civil society.

The appointment also raised questions about whether Labour would restore the International Development Department if elected. There has been recent speculation that the party could drop this pledge.

Thangam Debbonaire, shadow culture secretary

First elected in 2015, Thangam Debbonaire has served the Labour frontbench in a number of roles. Most recently she was shadow leader of the house.

Thangam is now shadow DCMS secretary, which includes charities policy. Before becoming an MP she worked for a number of years in the violence against women and girls (VAWG) sector.

By-elections

Nadine Dorries has formally resigned as an MP after announcing she would stand down in June. The by-election will be held on 19 October.

There will also be a by-election in Rutherglen and Hamilton West after a successful recall petition against former SNP MP Margaret Ferrier. Ferrier was suspended from the House of Commons for 30 days for travelling to Westminster and participating in debates while experiencing covid symptoms and awaiting test results.

Another by-election will take place in Tamworth after MP Chris Pincher’s eight-week suspension from the House of Commons was upheld by an independent expert panel. The MP was suspended for groping two men at a London club and chose to resign rather than face a recall petition. Pincher lost the Conservative whip after the incident.

The Conservatives lost two seats in by-elections over the summer. Labour’s Keir Mather won the seat in Selby and Ainsty, and Sarah Dyke gained Somerset and Frome for the Liberal Democrats.

The Conservatives did hold former prime minister Boris Johnson’s Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat, with new MP Steve Tuckwell winning by 495 votes.

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