Letter: Openness at the National Trust

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The Independent Online
Sir: The agenda for the coming annual general meeting of the National Trust on 2 November includes a members' resolution which draws attention to the somewhat unusual status of members' resolutions at annual general meetings of the Trust.

The statutes of the Trust state clearly, no doubt for good reason, that the Trust is not bound by any vote taken on a members' resolution. Nevertheless, it is the custom for members to vote on such resolutions either by being present or by the use of mandated or unmandated votes.

At last year's annual general meeting, three different non-political resolutions concerning the governance of the Trust and the preservation of its properties were supported by about 15,000 votes and opposed by about 50,000 votes (either mandated or unmandated).

As the voting is not binding on the Trust, the purpose of the vote is presumably purely advisory. Yet the Trust is unwilling to state how many of the 50,000 or so votes against the resolutions were mandated and how many unmandated (and presumably mainly cast at the discretion of the chairman).

Bearing in mind that the result of this voting is in no way binding on the Trust, it appears to us unfortunate that the Trust is unwilling to set out a more complete account of members' opinions. We therefore hope that members will read the resolution urging more openness about the voting result on this year's agenda and then express their opinion either at the meeting or by a mandated proxy vote.

Earl KITCHENER of Khartoum