Charities Act 2022 implementation plan: update
DCMS has updated the timetable for implementing the Charities Act 2022, as follows:
Provisions expected to come into force in June 2023:
- Sections 9-14 and 35(a): Permanent endowment.
- Sections 17, 19-22: Charity land.
- Sections 25-28: Charity names.
- Section 38 and 39: Connected persons.
- Part of Section 40 and Schedule 2: Minor and consequential amendments.
Provisions expected to come into force by the end of 2023:
- Section 1-3: Charity constitutions.
- Sections 18 and 23: Charity land.
- Section 24 and Sch 1: Amendments of the Universities and College Estates Act 1925 (while section 24 and Schedule 1 will be included in the phase 3 commencement regulations, they will come into force in Spring 2025).
- Section 29: Powers relating to appointments of trustees.
- Section 31: Remuneration etc of charity trustees etc.
- Sections 33, 34 and 35(b): Charity mergers.
- Section 37: For remaining purposes.
- Section 40 and Schedule 2: For remaining purposes.
Provisions under further consideration prior to commencement:
- Sections 15 and 16: Ex Gratia Payments.
There is a full list including those provisions already in force, with a press release, here.
Grants by parish, town and community councils to places of worship
On Wednesday, the House of Lords Grand Committee debated Amendment 485 to the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill, which was tabled by the Bishop of Bristol and intended to clarify the law about the powers (or lack of them) of parish, town and community councils to make grants to places of worship. Bishop Faull explained the problem (which both this blog and the Historic Religion Buildings Alliance have been moaning about for years: see this) in some detail but, to no-one’s surprise, she received a muted response.
In reply to the debate, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at DLUHC, Baroness Scott of Bybrook, said this:
“The intention of the Local Government Act 1894 was to provide a clear separation between the newly created civil parishes and what are now parochial church councils. However, the Government do not consider that it includes any general or specific provision that prohibits parish councils from funding the maintenance and upkeep of churches and other religious buildings. Parish councils have other powers that enable their contribution towards the upkeep of these buildings if it were deemed to be within their local communities’ interest to do so. However, I understand the confusion and I thank the noble Lords who have raised these amendments. We have heard their concerns that the law may be ambiguous, and I know this is of great concern to parishes and noble Lords. I can assure them that we in the department are considering this issue carefully and will reflect on the comments made during this debate” [emphasis added].
So we continue to “watch this space”. And remain unconvinced.
Holocaust Memorial Bill
The Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills have published their Report and Statement of Reasons for ruling the Holocaust Memorial Bill hybrid. Joshua Rozenberg comments on the saga: Holocaust memorial setback.
Humanism and “religious education”
In R (Bowen) v Kent County Council  EWHC 1261 (Admin), the Claimant, Stephen Bowen, is a humanist who sought to be appointed to join Group A of Kent County Council’s Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education as a full member: his predecessor as chair of Kent Humanists had had observer status. Under s.390(4)(a) of the Education Act 1996, Group A is required to be “a group of persons to represent such Christian denominations and other religions and denominations of such religions as, in the opinion of the authority, will appropriately reflect the principal religious traditions in the area”. The Council refused to appoint him on the grounds that, as a humanist, he did not represent “a religion or a denomination of a religion”.
Mr Bowen challenged the Council’s refusal on the grounds that it was discriminatory and in breach of Article 9 ECHR and Article 2 of Protocol 1 when read with Article 14. His application for judicial review succeeded and Constable J quashed Kent County Council’s decision on the basis that it was unlawful.
We hope to post a full note on the decision later in the week. [With thanks to Simon Hunter and David Lamming for the alert.]
Joshua Sutcliffe: Panel decision by the Teaching Regulation Authority
Joshua Sutcliffe taught Maths at The Cherwell School between September 2015 and February 2018 and at St Aloysius College, Islington, between September 2018 and November 2018. It was alleged that he was guilty of unacceptable professional conduct and/or conduct that might bring the teaching profession into disrepute, in particular:
- by refusing to use a pupil’s preferred pronoun:
- by expressing his views to pupils on the wrongfulness of equal marriage and/or homosexuality during Maths lessons;
- by showing pupils a video) about masculinity which contained inappropriate comments; and
- by encouraging or directing pupils to watch his YouTube channel/profile which contained derogatory comments about Islam and the Latter-Day Saints and the statement that Muhammad and Joseph Smith were false prophets.
He denied all the allegations and disputed that they amounted to unacceptable professional conduct and/or conduct that might bring the profession into disrepute.
In Mr Joshua Sutcliffe: Professional conduct panel outcome: Panel decision and reasons on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education, the TRA panel found the allegations against him proved and recommended a prohibition order from teaching, with provision for a review after two years. On behalf of the Secretary of State, the Department for Education agreed with the panel’s recommendation. Mr Sutcliffe plans to appeal the decision.
Failure to provide legal recognition for same-sex partnerships – again
Article 277(1) of the Romanian Civil Code (Prohibition on equating other forms of cohabitation with marriage) states bluntly that “Same-sex marriage is prohibited”. In Buhuceanu and Others v Romania  ECHR 424, the applicants were 21 same-sex couples who argued that the absence of any form of legal recognition for their relationships was a violation of Article 8 ECHR (respect for private and family life).
Unsurprisingly in view of the Grand Chamber judgment in Fedotova and Others v Russia  ECHR 55, the Court held (though only by five votes to two) that there has been a violation of Article 8.
- Jonathan Chaplin, LSE Blog: Beyond a coronation – the case for a civil investiture.
- Hattie Williams, Church Times: Independent Safeguarding Board serves dispute resolution notice to Archbishops’ Council: “Board members say Council has frustrated their work and threatened their independence.”
Over at Religion Clause, Howard Friedman reported (entirely accurately: we checked the transcript of the judgment on Justia) that a trial court judge in Ohio had told a defendant convicted of sexual battery that
“The statutes, the law, every social moray [,] every religious system at least in terms of the New Testament years have said there is a duty to protect children.”
Every social moray?????