BW transfer order to be examined by five Parliamentary committees

The draft order to transfer BW to charity status will be scrutinised by five Parliamentary committees and in addition has to be agreed by both houses of Parliament. This means that there will be opportunities to lobby Parliament about the risks of homelessness for boat dwellers of the move to the Canal and River Trust (CRT), in particular to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee. In addition, there is still time to object to the registration of the CRT to the Charity Commission, as the application to register the charity has not yet been submitted.

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee is likely to hold public sessions to take evidence from witnesses. Below is an extract from a report to the BW Board meeting in January 2012 by Nigel Johnson, BW’s Legal and Corporate Services Director. BW is clearly concerned that this will delay the transfer to the new charity. You can download Nigel Johnson’s report (obtained by a Freedom of Information request) and the draft transfer order below. Here’s the extract:

3.1 The making of the Transfer Order is subject to an enhanced ‘super-affirmative’ process in the Westminster Parliament that must last a minimum of 40 days, though it is almost certain the BW/CRT Order will be made subject to an enhanced scrutiny period of at least 60 days.  As a consequence it is virtually certain that the original target date for the transfer of 1 April 2012 will not be achievable, with it more likely to take place in the last quarter of May 2012.

3.2 The draft Order will be considered by as many as 5 parliamentary committees together with a debate on the floor of each House. The Committees are:
Merits of Statutory Instruments (HL)
Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee (HC)
Delegated Legislation Committee (HL)
Delegated Legislation Committee (HC)

For all of the committees it is expected to be a paper process other than for the Efra Select Committee. It is anticipated that the Efra Committee will wish to hold public sessions at which it takes evidence from witnesses.  This element of the scrutiny process is the reason for an extension of the default 40 day scrutiny to a 60 day period and is also the source of greatest risk of general delay.  The view of government is that, because the BW Order will be the first significant order under the PBA 2011, Parliament will want to demonstrate both to Government and to the public generally, its intent to fully scrutinise public body reform proposals made by ministers under the 2011 Act and not to be treated as a rubber stamp.”

Here’s Nigel Johnson’s report Corporate Services Directorate Report Jan 2012

Here’s the Draft Transfer Order BW Draft Transfer Order 2012

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