The Hansard Society is a charity and our governance rules are set out in our Articles of Association. The Society is governed by a Board of Trustees and the Speakers of the two Houses of Parliament are honorary Co-Presidents. Our Annual Reports and Accounts provide our financial records for the year and an aassessment of how we have delivered on our mission.
The company was established under a Memorandum of Association which established the objects and powers of the charitable company. The company is governed under its Articles of Association.
Legal responsibility for the management and stewardship of the Hansard Society is vested in the Board of Trustees. Day-to-day management of the Charity is delegated to the Director and senior staff.
The Society’s auditors are haysmacintyre.
The Board of Trustees meets at least four times per year. The Society does not operate standing sub-committees but convenes these on an ad hoc basis as required.
Trustees are elected and co-opted under the terms of the Articles of Association. The Chair and Treasurer are appointed on a yearly basis at the Annual General Meeting. Other members of the Board of Trustees are appointed for terms of three years, after which they may put themselves forward for reappointment for a further three-year term. In some circumstances, Trustees may be co-opted for a further period.
The Rt Hon the Baroness Taylor of Bolton has chaired the Board of Trustees since 10 September 2019.
Underpinning our commitment to non-partisanship, the Speakers of the two Houses of Parliament serve as Co-Presidents of the Society. These are honorary positions, reflecting the Society’s unique ‘critical friend’ relationship with the Westminster Parliament. The Speakers are very supportive of the work of the Society, but they have no formal role in or responsibility for its administration, governance or activities.
The Rt Hon the Lord Fowler, Lord Speaker, has been Co-President of the Society since he assumed the Woolsack on 1 September 2016. Prior to his election as Lord Speaker, he served as Chairman of the Hansard Society Board of Trustees for two years. He stood down as our Chairman when he announced his intention to run for the role of Lord Speaker.
The Rt Hon Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP became our Co-President shortly after he was elected as Speaker of the House of Commons, on 4 November 2019. Previously, as the Deputy Speaker (Chairman of Ways and Means), Sir Lindsay regularly chaired the Hansard Society’s Annual General Meetings.
2019 was an eventful year, with the ongoing Brexit process, the unlawful prorogation of Parliament and an early general election late in the year.
Our annual Audit of Political Engagement highlighted public frustrations with the state of our democracy, with opinions of the system of governing at their lowest point in 15 years – worse than in the aftermath of the MPs’ expenses scandal.
Nonetheless, despite any exasperation they may have felt about the political process as MPs ground their way to a stalemate over Brexit, many people developed a new-found interest in the parliamentary proceedings. Week-by-week, viewers in their hundreds of thousands tuned into BBC Parliament to listen to the BBC’s parliamentary correspondent, Mark D’Arcy, and the Society’s Director, Ruth Fox, explain the political and procedural implications of the Brexit votes, drawing the parliamentary channel’s highest-ever audience ratings.
Our Brexit Statutory Instrument (SI) Dashboard became the go-to resource for campaigners, journalists and diplomats keeping track of this important strand of the UK’s preparations for Brexit. Alongside it, our SI Tracker subscription service helped a wide array of organisations across the corporate and civil society sectors to monitor the legal changes and manage the regulatory risks arising from the Brexit process.
The SI Tracker data generated new insights into the delegated legislation process and provided a rich vein of information that was used by MPs and Peers during parliamentary debates and committee inquiries. The data was also cited in evidence in the Supreme Court prorogation case.
In partnership with House Magazine we co-hosted hustings for the election of the new Speaker of the House of Commons. We also launched a series of online procedural and constitutional guides with a specially curated collection, ‘Back to Business: procedure at the start of a new Parliament’.
Our next Annual Report and Accounts, for the year ending 31 December 2020, will be published after our Annual General Meeting in July 2021.
Each year we publish our Annual Report and Accounts. This contains our financial records for the year and an assessment of how we have delivered on our mission.