Examination of Witnesses (Questions 100-119)|
TUESDAY 18 DECEMBER 2001
100. Do you think he will be as supportive after
he reads the minutes of this Committee? The Chairman touched on
the issue that geography should play no part in your decision
in deciding where the axe should fall. Your decision should have
been taken on need. South West Wales and the Valleys is an Objective
1 area which means it is one of the poorest areas, not in the
UK, but in the whole of Europe. Coming down to your basic philosophy
on where the axe should fall, what happened to the Christian philosophy?
You mentioned Christian ethics before in the people you appoint
as your Trustees, but what happened to the Christian philosophy
of looking after the lost sheep and is it not a case of suffer
little Welsh children? If you carry on this philosophy, you are
in danger of divesting yourself of your responsibilities in the
poorest communities of England because those are the areas that
cannot raise many funds because they are poor. Those are the areas
of greatest need which means you will need to spend more in those
and if you carry on, it will be like a salami slicer with Liverpool
and then Sheffield, the Objective 1 areas of England, until you
are left as the Children's Society of the Home Counties and Virginia
(Mr Nall) Well, that may sound somewhat antagonistic.
Let's be clear, income is growing, we are righting a financial
problem. There are other Objective 1 areas outside Wales. There
is a particular concentration of them in Wales and you mentioned
the South Valleys.
101. The South Wales Valleys.
(Mr Nall) I was referring to it in the context of
Wales. We will be able to sustain our work in the future. I am
confident of that. We have sufficient reserves. We have a growing
profile of income and we will reach break-even next year. We will
not face inflation. We have management in place and a reduced
workforce in place to deliver that work. In Wales, what we seek
to secure is a smooth transfer of our work in whatever way will
be helpful within the financial constraint we face to try and
salvage work for children and young people in Wales. I heard the
idea of an independent charity in Wales. I very much welcome it
and will seek to work with all interested parties to try and bring
102. What message does your action send out
to other England and Wales-wide charities? What message does your
action send out to those charities?
(Mr Nall) I think you have to draw your conclusions
103. I hope it does not send out the message
that we seem to be getting. What do you think the effect on the
wider Church will be of this decision?
(Revd Mr Glover) Well, certainly the effect in Wales
has been enormous. My telephone has been ringing constantly from
supporters feeling very, very let down. I think that the Anglican
Communion will feel that this is a Society that may not be able
to be trusted.
104. It is one of the hallmarks of a well-run
charity, according to the Charity Commission, that it is "open
in the conduct of its affairs, except where there is a need to
respect confidentiality". Do you think that the Trustees
were sufficiently open in the conduct of their affairs in this
(Lady Toulson) I am not in a position to answer that
question, I am afraid.
105. That is all right, it is a judgmental question.
(Lady Toulson) Yes, I understand exactly what the
question is, but I just do not feel qualified to answer it, I
106. Would anybody else like to make a judgmental
comment? Perhaps Reverend Glover?
(Revd Mr Glover) No.
107. It is not actually a very nasty question
if you say yes, but it is up to you to tell us what you think.
(Mr Sparks) I think it is difficult because the Trustees
did, if I may say, what they believed to be their duty as the
Trustees of the organisation operating in what they considered
to be the right way to operate.
108. On advice from yourself and your colleagues.
(Mr Sparks) Yes, but the process that they used seemed
to be quite straightforward.
109. I am sorry that you have not answered this
a little bit more openly because it struck me that if one project
had been allowed to continue in Wales, you would not have been
in the position you are in today. However, you have been very
open about your decision, you have revisited the decision and
you have told us what you think. I think perhaps you can detect
from the sentiments of my colleagues that there is a great deal
of anger as a result. It was quite clear from what you said earlier
that there was a Welsh Board in place which I believe you, Reverend
Glover, sat on.
(Revd Mr Glover) It never sat.
110. Okay, but you were due to, were you not,
the point being that up until really quite recently there was
a commitment to Wales which was entirely laudable. I think you
touched, Mr Nall, on what was needed and perhaps this would be
a good time to get on the record what the charity needs in order
for it to continue in Wales.
(Revd Mr Glover) Can I just take you back a little
bit. There was a suggestion at the meeting in October that instead
of pulling out of Wales totally, one project, say, in Newport
could have stayed and that could have been managed from the Bristol
office. I think that the Trustees felt that that would have been
tokenism and would not have been acceptable to the people of Wales.
(Mr Sparks) Your question was?
111. What do you think you need to continue
operating in Wales? I think there was a figure you said.
(Mr Sparks) I think what Charles said earlier is that
the voluntary income costs of staying in Wales are £1.3 million.
112. So instead of being vilified, if that money
was found, you would be able to continue?
(Mr Sparks) That was the whole point about the paper
that went to the Trustees about the financial situation.
113. How long did the Trustee Board spend considering
the decision to pull out of Wales?
(Revd Mr Glover) Two or three hours.
(Mr Sparks) I think it was longer. The difficulty
is that it is the one Trustee meeting which lasts for a day. This
paper about the whole organisation was not the only paper, but
it was the main paper and I think there is a difficulty about
pulling out of that which was solely on Wales and which was about
the whole issue which involved England as well, but it was the
major item on that day-long agenda.
114. Was the decision unanimous?
(Lady Toulson) No.
(Mr Sparks) No, because Mr Glover voted against it.
(Lady Toulson) And there was an abstention.
115. You were the sole opponent?
(Lady Toulson) There was one abstention.
116. Five of the 23 Trustees retired at the
Annual General Meeting, the day after the meeting, if I am correct,
including the then Chairman.
(Mr Sparks) Yes, the then Chairman.
117. Given clearly the magnitude of this decision
and its implications, do you think it would have been desirable
for the decision to have been taken at a time when there could
have been a greater degree of continuity in the membership and
in the chairmanship of the Trustee Board?
(Mr Nall) I regret the implication you seem to be
making there. If you had read our Council report, you would see
that the Trustees do retire by rotation, so the Trustee body,
and, Ian, you will have to correct me if I am wrong, is normally
about 18 to 20 members strong, so you would expect a number of
Trustees to step down at each year and that is what happened this
118. How many Trustees came from Wales?
(Mr Nall) One.
119. Out of?
(Mr Sparks) There were 23 at that meeting.