Bill to remove ministers' power to appoint trustees to NHS charities makes progress

The NHS (Charitable Trusts) Bill, a private member's measure, would also allow the Great Ormond Street Children's Charity to continue receiving royalties from Peter Pan, even if it becomes an independent body

Bill now goes to committee stage
Bill now goes to committee stage

A bill that would remove the government’s power to appoint trustees to NHS charities has passed its second reading in the House of Lords.

The NHS (Charitable Trusts) Bill was debated in the Lords on Friday, with peers from all sides of the house praising the proposed legislation, which will remove the health secretary’s power to appoint trustees for NHS charities linked to NHS bodies in England.

The legislation, introduced in the House of Commons as a private member’s bill by Wendy Morton, the Conservative MP for Aldridge-Brownhills, would also transfer the right to royalties from all publications and performances of the children’s story Peter Pan to the new Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.

The author, JM Barrie, gave Gosh the rights to the story in 1929, and special legislation was passed in 1987 to ensure the charity could receive royalties in perpetuity.

The bill would ensure the charity could continue receiving these royalties if it decided to become an independent body with its own trustees.

The Labour peer Baroness Massey of Darwen, who presented the second reading, said the bill introduced "a level playing field to improve the ability of charities to work more efficiently to raise money and spend it to the advantage of children, in the case of Great Ormond Street, and of clients generally".

She said that by amending the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 the bill meant Gosh would not have "to run two charities, one the independent arm and the other the existing one, into which royalties from Peter Pan would be transferred".

Massey said: "Thus, although the bill is short, it is significant. It will sweep away bureaucracy, clarify and simplify the position of trustees and NHS charities and will give charities more freedom to operate."

Lord Prior of Brampton, a minister at the Department of Health, declared the government’s "wholehearted support" for the bill.

The bill was passed to the committee stage.

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