Civcom Constitution

I am a little puzzled.

My understanding, based upon research, is that all Charities are required to be Governed by a Constitution which has been tested for legal sufficiency ie it complies with both Charity and Trust Law.

It might then be expected that such a document has benefited from legal input, to establish that it is compliant. The Charity Commission may wish to see it, but as they do not dispense legal advice, they cannot then actually approve a constitution. If they were to approve a constitution that would render them potentially liable, but would actually compromise their position as the Independent Charity Regulator.

The question then is why, under ACP11 Annex A Clause 29, does it say that any specific variation to Clauses 6, 19 21or 22, requires the written consent of the Charity Commission? (Those clauses are in themselves significant)

Logically if the Charity Commission cannot approve a Constitution, it cannot consent to any variation, as they might be inclined to say that it is matter for the Trustees.

HQAC is pushing all Civcoms to adopt this Constitution, but on this point it seems to be severely flawed.

In any case, as far as I know, the Charity Commission for England & Wales, cannot act on behalf of the OSCR, Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, the Manx Government or the States of Jersey nor States of Guernsey, under whose jurisdictions the ACO has operating Charities, and who should surely be involved in the same process.

Anyone out there clued up on this, because on the face of it, it appears that Civcoms are being forced into accepting something which is not entirely kosher.

Our committee wrote their own constitution years idea how ‘legal’ it is to do this.

Your Committee may have considered the flaws, but presumably in writing their own, they will have had legal advice or guidance, and I dont think they are alone.

I presume therefore what they have adopted, does not allow third party interference.

As Trustees, the Committee are of course accountable to donors and beneficiaries, but NOT the RAFAC because they are supposed to independent, which is not what ACP11 Annex A is saying.

It is in entirely legal and provision was made for it up until the most recent ACP-11.

The legal principle here is that it is the trustees and they alone who can vary their constitution (assuming there is provision for that within - and there usually is).

In providing a sample constitution through ACP-11, RAFAC are reasonably providing a starting point for committees who are new or need to have something in place. In more recent years, that document has unfortunately become misunderstood as a means of universal control which is reinforced by its being part of a set of reference documents that are the bible for all things uniform.

That said, if a committee is minded (foolish?) enough to accept ACP-11 at face value, then it still requires a formal vote of agreement/adoption by the trustees of the Civcom who are under no obligation to change anything.

It is a real challenge for ATCHQ who clearly need to know that something credible is in place, but who should be acting as a resource to Civcoms, educating and encouraging them rather than trying to dictate to them as an element of the uniformed structure.

I think your committee had foresight and frankly, I would advise all squadron committees to register themselves with the Charity Commission using the simple model constitution available online - adapted to take into account any local needs if required.

This would lighten the load across RAFAC, ensure that CivCom accountability to the Charity Commission (who are the only regulator) woulds be in place. Also annual returns would be publicly available, the F60 debacle could be dropped along with the pretence that ATCHQ, Region and Wing have any authority in squadron Civcoms.

This may actually be a moot point in the near future as all Civcoms outside England and Wales have been required to register with the relevant charity regulator (Scotland, N Ireland and other overseas) anyway. So encouraging your committee to write its own constitution and register would be progressive and sensible and probably the best steps in doing the best by your squadron.

Most likely off piste but interested…

What are the rules relating the length of service in the three key roles; Chair, Treasurer or Secretary? Are they the same for Squadron, Wing, Region?

Notice that higher up the CoC, the longer they stay in role :shushing_face:

For as long as they get voted back in.

Although anyone with any experience of committees and especially the “excec” roles it’s until they die or give it up. Our RBL & RAFA execs only really do it as no one else wants to, as seen when the sign up sheets come round. It’s the same with the squadron.

It seems a general thing that there are fewer volunteers for these positions. The terms of the appointment are usually spelt out within the constitution, and usually these appointments are made via election at an AGM. There is however nothing to stop someone being re-elected, unless there is a finite term imposed by the Constitution. The only change arises because the main three players are also Trustees, and they may be disqualified if he/she has been in breach of Charity Law.

I think it is usual for a President to have a three year term, but this is non voting position anyway and is not part of the day to day management.

The problem of willing volunteers exists with RBL and RAFA perhaps because you have either a) a decreasing membership or b) an increasing age profile. Unless I am imagining things, neither should technically affect the RAFAC.

Which then leaves a puzzle as to why some Civcoms are non existent and who in fact simply disappear en bloc; this renders the Charity without any control and should raise concerns with the Regulator that charitable fund are not being properly managed, which can lead to a public inquiry.

With regard to length of appointment, the GPF appears to behave differently. Some of those Trustees act as such, as a secondary duty, which is part of their contracted employment at HQAC. There is a finite term but this is longer and also seems to allow for the selection of other Trustees. Interesting then that the Chairman of Trustees, happens to be head of the RAFAC and chair of the ACMB.

But at grass roots level, the Sqn Chair role is totally divorced from running the Sqn.

Fewer volunteers definitely across the board not just Air Cadets.
As for age profiles, I would say the same for the Air Cadets. While may be not as old as RBL and RAFA there are not many if any youngsters around (ie under 40) according to the Sqn Chairman when they go to the Wing meetings. The youngest member of our CWC is in her late 40s/early 50s.
The key word is “willing” in any volunteer capacity.
A friend of ours was effectively coerced into the Chairman role of their son’s sqn 2 years ago, after the CO decided they wanted a change of Chairman as the current chairman had been doing it for a while. Speaking to him the strong hint was when his son goes to uni and leaves the ATC next year, he can’t see any reason to hang around either. He said that they got chatting to the CO when he went to pick his son up and succumbed to the suggestion. his wife isn’t interested in committee work at all.

RBL and RAFA is an age thing, and in many local cases it might be argued that they are not in touch with the beneficiaries. Not so with the RAFAC, I am sure you will agree.

Yes I have found that a parent is only on the Civcom for as long as the offspring is a Cadet. Give them their due though , several individuals I knew on the Civcom were parents and stayed on long after, but eventually pulled out later because of business commitments.

It is not about how long they have been there, but whether they are an essential part of what makes the Civcom work, and which ultimately benefits the Cadets.

I feel your example might be suggesting that the OC was unable to work with the Chair, but it is surely down the Civcom (by vote) to decide who is Chair and not the OC.

One time the Civcom Chair was expected to be consulted on replacement Sqn OC - so is it now the other way around and if the OC doesn’t like things, he/she can raise a complaint with Wing who can then act.

This is what my original post was about and whether a Civcom who sees the Constitution is wrong actually needs to get any consent. But it is everyone’s interest to work together - and from that do we not generate mutual respect?

But as WO-ATC seems to suggest, HQAC wont achieve 100% adoption of ACP11 as evidently some do smell a rat.