A thorough review was undertaken during 2006-07 by a sub-committee under the chairmanship of Vice-President David Cufley, looking at both the FFHS and the Charity Commissioners' models. After a few further amendments the revised version was approved at the Society AGM in April 2007. The text of David's report to the AGM follows below.

Summarised Report by the Constitution Subcommittee to the AGM, 14 April 2007 Chairman David Cufley

"The executive committee brief to review the constitution dated 22 February 2006 set out seven main terms of reference but was not restricted to them. A number of members showed interest in voicing opinions on the constitution. Submissions by members were received in writing.

The Charity commissioners (CC) guidance is contained in CC22 ‘Choosing and preparing a Governing Document’ in addition we also considered the Federation of Family History Societies ‘sample constitution’. A master Glossary has been compiled from the CC documents for reference purposes.

It was decided that the format for the presentation of the revised constitution to the AGM would be a three column document similar to that adopted for the Society’s previous review. The three columns being the present constitution (2006 rev 9), the proposed new redrafted constitution (for the AGM 2007) and a remarks column setting out the changes between columns 1 and 2.

The first agreement when compiling the revised constitution was that there was a need to understand the difference in constitution items and procedural items needed for the good management of the Society. When talking about the clauses in the constitution it was found that the numbering and lettering system used was not adequately specific. To aid the understanding of what a procedure is compared to a constitution clause. We have included in a master reference file those procedures that are in place and draft examples where the constitution mentions the Society has a procedure.

  1. The complaints procedure. Is a procedure and is covered by the Master file. It is not part of the constitution.
  2. The reserve policy. It like procedures needs to be reviewed annually by the Society Committee when preparing the annual report to the CC.
  3. Expelling members. This is covered by the constitution in Section 3 Membership.
  4. Non renewal of membership.
  5. Disqualification and removal of Trustees. A procedure has been drafted (see master file section 2). It was not felt necessary to elaborate on this in the constitution.
  6. Disqualification and removal of Patron, President and Vice Presidents. It was felt the annual review clause allowed for their removal was adequate. The Society Committee could draw up a procedure but it was considered unnecessary at this time.
  7. The use of virtual and electronic technology by committee for meetings. This subject was discussed at the subcommittee meetings but was not thought appropriate to make it a constitution item. The CC and accepted legal practice of meetings being ‘face to face’ is maintained. Telephone conferencing and virtual meetings may only be used for preliminary discussion. Decisions can only be transacted at ‘meetings’. Meetings are only valid where people can both see and hear each other.
A copy of the constitution was sent to the Charity Commissioners who responded on the 1st February 2007. The proposed draft incorporates the wording as approved by the Charity Commissioners.

May I as Sub Committee Chairman thank the subcommittee of Jean Stirk, Joyce Hoad, Stella Baggaley, Ron Anthony and Bob Woodward for their time, humour and tenacity in preparing the draft."

David Cufley
Sub-committee Chairman

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