22 Jan 2016 : Column 1669

House of Commons

Friday 22 January 2016

The House met at half-past Nine o’clock


[Mr Speaker in the Chair]

Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg (North East Somerset) (Con) rose—

Mr Speaker: A point of order?

Mr Rees-Mogg: It is not a point of order, but I beg to move, That the House sit in private.

Mr Speaker: Indeed. Other than by reason of formality and constitutional precedent, I cannot ordinarily imagine the hon. Gentleman “begging” anything.

Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 163).

The House divided:

Ayes 1, Noes 56.

Division No. 172]


9.34 am


Rees-Mogg, Mr Jacob

Tellers for the Ayes:

Kevin Foster


Nigel Huddleston


Bacon, Mr Richard

Blackman-Woods, Dr Roberta

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brennan, Kevin

Buckland, Robert

Coyle, Neil

Crouch, Tracey

Dakin, Nic

Ellison, Jane

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Gardiner, Barry

Glen, John

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Hinds, Damian

Hollingbery, George

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Kennedy, Seema

Lancaster, Mark

Latham, Pauline

Malhotra, Seema

Malthouse, Kit

McDonald, Andy

Milton, rh Anne

Morris, Grahame M.

Morton, Wendy

Murray, Mrs Sheryll

Opperman, Guy

Perkins, Toby

Perry, Claire

Pursglove, Tom

Rees, Christina

Rudd, rh Amber

Smith, Julian

Smith, Nick

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Stride, Mel

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Thomas-Symonds, Nick

Throup, Maggie

Tomlinson, Justin

Tomlinson, Michael

Turley, Anna

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vaz, Valerie

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Wilson, Mr Rob

Winterton, rh Dame Rosie

Tellers for the Noes:

Martin Vickers


Jeremy Quin

Question accordingly negatived.

22 Jan 2016 : Column 1670

Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): On a point of order, Mr Speaker. It does seem an awful waste of the House’s time to divide when only three Members support the motion, in order to close down the debate and prevent people from hearing what the House has to say. What chiefly worries me, however, is that when the voices are heard, there always seem to be more Members shouting “Aye”, that we should sit in silence—[Interruption.] I mean in private—[Interruption.] The Whips might think it would be better if we sat in silence, but when we sit in private no one can hear us, so we are effectively sitting in silence.

Let me return to my main point, about the shouting. I shouted “No” quite loudly. In the same part of the Chamber, there seemed to be a shout of “Aye”, yet none of the Members who are sitting here voted that way. I know that they do not have to, but is not the procedure a complete waste of the House’s time?

Mr Speaker: The principle is that vote should follow voice. It is disorderly for a Member to voice in one direction and vote in another. However, it is not obligatory for someone who has shouted “Aye” to vote “Aye”. He or she is perfectly free to abstain. The same applies to a Member who votes “No”, a point that the hon. Gentleman acknowledged in his point of order.

That said, in an age in which we prize intelligibility and transparency, it is much to be preferred if Members are, and appear to be, consistent in what they do relative to what they say. I think we will leave it there for now. I hope that that satisfies the constitutional palate of the hon. Gentleman.

22 Jan 2016 : Column 1671

NHS (Charitable Trusts Etc) Bill

Consideration of Bill, not amended in the Public Bill Committee

Clause 1

Removal of Secretary of State’s powers to appoint trustees

9.48 am

Michael Tomlinson (Mid Dorset and North Poole) (Con): I beg to move amendment 4, page 1, line 15, after “may” insert “after appropriate public consultation”.

Mr Speaker: With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 1, page 1, line 17, at end insert—

“(2A) The Secretary of State may by order or regulations made by statutory instrument make such provision as the Secretary of State considers appropriate to re-establish the Secretary of State’s powers to appoint trustees in respect of—

(a) one,

(b) more than one,

(c) a type, class or category of, or

(d) every

(2B) A statutory instrument containing an order or regulations under subsection (2A) which amends or repeals primary legislation (whether alone or with other provision) may not be made unless—

(a) a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament, and

(b) a draft of the order or regulations was published three months before laying before Parliament.”

Amendment 3, page 1, line 21, at end insert—

“(bA) provision for one trustee to be appointed by the NHS institution, service or function for whose benefit the charitable trust exists,”.

Amendment 2, page 2, line 1, leave out “and” and insert—

“(cA) provision by which the Secretary of State may appoint one or more trustees where—

(i) the Secretary of State has satisfied himself that exceptional circumstances exist, or

“(ii) all the trustee positions in relation to a particular charitable trust have been vacant for a period exceeding three months, and”.

Amendment 5, page 2, line 4, leave out “Subject to subsection (5)”.

Amendment 6, page 2, line 7, leave out subsections (5) and (6).

Amendment 7, clause 2, page 3, line 14, at end insert—

“(8A) A statutory instrument under subsection (8) may not be laid before either House of Parliament without an accompanying statement by the Comptroller and Auditor General that he is satisfied with the treatment of public assets and funds envisaged in the regulations contained within such an instrument.”

Amendment 8, page 3, line 13, leave out subsection (8) and insert—

“( ) A statutory instrument containing regulations under subsection (1) may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.”

Amendment 9, schedule 1, page 9, line 9, at end add—

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“(14) The Secretary of State may grant permission for—

(a) one;

(b) any number of, or

(c) a category or type of

charitable trust, established for the purposes of supporting an institution, service or function of the NHS, permission to use the NHS logo or NHS branding in their fund- raising and other communications.

(15) The Secretary of State may, having given 6 months’ notice, rescind a permission granted under paragraph 14 (the notice period may be reduced in exceptional circumstances).”

Michael Tomlinson: I want to focus on amendments 4, 5 and 6, which stand in my name and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Erewash (Maggie Throup). Amendment 4 deals with the need for a public consultation; amendments 5 and 6 remove the requirement for the draft to be laid before, and approved by, each House.

I shall turn first to amendment 4 and the principle behind it. It inserts

“after appropriate public consultation”

in clause 1, page 1, after “may” in line 15. It seeks to oblige the Secretary of State to carry out a public consultation that he considers appropriate before making regulations. The principle of a public consultation should be relatively uncontentious. After all, the origins of the Bill being ably presented to the House by my hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Wendy Morton), which I fully support, were found in public consultation. The Department of Health conducted a review in 2011, and consulted publicly in 2012. The 2012 consultation set out the rationale for reform. As a result of that consultation and review the Government committed to move to a model of greater independence.

Jeremy Quin (Horsham) (Con): Does my hon. Friend have any idea of the costs associated with the consultation? While the principle of public consultation is not contentious, we need to make certain that consultation is necessary, and all these things come with a cost.

Michael Tomlinson: My hon. Friend makes a sound point: one must always balance the benefit and the cost. I do not have figures on the cost of the consultation, but I think he will agree that the principle of a public consultation is a sound one, and that is what I am speaking to.

Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg (North East Somerset) (Con): Will my hon. Friend explain what he means by “appropriate”? Does it mean the Secretary of State should ask a few mates in the pub what they think of the proposals, or a more formalised system through petition of this House?

Michael Tomlinson: I shall turn to what I mean by “appropriate” in due course, but I think hon. Members on both sides of the House will know on plain reading of the word “appropriate” what is or is not appropriate.

Kit Malthouse (North West Hampshire) (Con): In my mediocre experience in local government I have participated in a huge number of Government consultations. I cannot recall a single one that changed the initial decision of the Government. Will my hon. Friend acknowledge that more often than not Government consultations

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just go through the motions? The only one I can remember ever having an effect was by the incoming Mayor of London on removing the extension of the congestion charge in the west of London, which was overwhelmingly supported by consultees, and he did in fact enact that in the teeth of opposition from Transport for London. Beyond that, I have never quite seen the point of consultation when Ministers’ minds are made up. Does my hon. Friend agree?

Michael Tomlinson: I certainly would not agree that my hon. Friend’s experience is mediocre—quite the opposite. I understand the thrust of his point, but I disagree, because at a time when politics can be seen to be remote it is important that the public are engaged in these debates. I also think it would be wrong to say Ministers’ minds are closed. I am sure those on the Front Bench this morning would agree that Ministers’ minds are not, and should not be, closed—certainly not before a public consultation.

Mrs Sheryll Murray (South East Cornwall) (Con): May I repeat a question already asked: who would finance the public consultations? Would it be the charitable trust, the Government, or local government? Will my hon. Friend expand on that?

Michael Tomlinson: The point about cost is important. At the end of the day it would have to come from taxpayers, which I accept is a challenge and a potential disadvantage. My argument is that in the principle of a public consultation the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

Mrs Murray: What is my hon. Friend’s estimate of the consultations’ cost to the taxpayer? Has he done any analysis of how many consultations there might be, and of their cost?

Michael Tomlinson: Again, I do not have those figures to hand. My hon. Friend is right to raise this because it is an issue of concern; cost must always be borne in mind, but, as I have said, I am speaking to the principle, and unfortunately I do not have the specific figures she asks for.

Maggie Throup (Erewash) (Con): Cost is important, but the transparency angle outweighs it.

Michael Tomlinson: My hon. Friend, who has put her name to these amendments, makes a valid point, and helps me make the argument that the public consultation is the right way forward.

Jeremy Quin: My hon. Friend the Member for North West Hampshire (Kit Malthouse), a far from mediocre figure in any sense, is far too self-deprecating, but I want to come back to the point he made. He referred to the consultation in west London, which was on a huge issue that affected vast numbers of people and had been the subject of a hard-fought political campaign. It was also a very costly consultation, but that was appropriate and proportionate. A lot of the changes that your amendment refers to—sorry, that the amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Dorset and North Poole (Michael Tomlinson) refers to—are purely technical in nature and this would not be necessary.

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Michael Tomlinson: I think Mr Speaker would agree that these are not his amendments, but are my amendments. I understand, again, the point my hon. Friend makes, but I disagree with it.

May I return to the review on which the Government consulted in 2014? Following that consultation, the Department of Health published its response—it is an important point of principle in public consultations that there is a formal response. As a result of that response, we have these proposals and eventually this Bill, which is being ably presented by my hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills.

Pauline Latham (Mid Derbyshire) (Con): Who will the consultation be with? Will it be with other charities, hospital users, people who have been to see “Peter Pan”, every hospital in the country, or every child who has ever been treated at Great Ormond Street? Who exactly will my hon. Friend be recommending the consultation is with? So far, that is not clear to me.

Michael Tomlinson: I envisage the consultation being as wide as possible. My hon. Friend mentions everyone who has been to see “Peter Pan”, and that would be a pretty wide consultation—perhaps not everyone has seen “Peter Pan” and I highly recommend that those who have not, do so. I envisage that the principle is that it is as wide a consultation as possible.

The Bill, which has wide support on both sides of the House, is the product of a public consultation, so I fail to see how Members can disagree with this proposal.

Kevin Foster (Torbay) (Con): I thank my hon. Friend for giving way; he is being incredibly generous in taking interventions. Every charity has a group of people it benefits. Does my hon. Friend agree that for this consultation to have any meaning, it would have to be with the entire area of benefit, which could in some cases involve literally millions of people? Does he also agree that most of them would probably feel their charitable funds would be better spent getting on with the job, rather than having a very large consultation about who appoints a director of the trustees?

Michael Tomlinson: I understand that point, which is similar to other points questioning the benefit and the cost, but I respectfully suggest that the benefit outweighs the cost in this case and that the public, seeing that they are consulted, would once again be re-engaged with the political process, which I think my hon. Friend should support.

Wendy Morton (Aldridge-Brownhills) (Con): My hon. Friend rightly points out that my private Member’s Bill emerged as a result of consultation with NHS charitable trusts. Does he agree, however, that it is unusual to be seeking public consultation on a technical change that is consequential to my Bill?

10 am

Michael Tomlinson: Again, I am grateful for the intervention and understand the point being made, but I disagree with my hon. Friend. Although this is technical in nature, I believe the principle of public consultation would be beneficial to the wider public. It would be

22 Jan 2016 : Column 1675

curious to be opposed to public consultation, certainly in principle, given that this Bill is a product of just such a consultation.

Let me give one further example of public consultations attracting wide support. Many in this House, on both sides of the Chamber, have been fighting for fairer funding.

Mrs Sheryll Murray: I completely agree with my hon. Friend that most of us would support adequate public consultation, but I am concerned that we do not know how much cost we will burden the taxpayer with. I press him again: how many consultations does he envisage? What would the cost be?

Michael Tomlinson: Once again, I am grateful for the intervention, but, with respect, may I say that my hon. Friend is merely repeating a point that she made before? As I explained, I do not have those figures to hand and so, with regret, I cannot give her a specific figure. I understand the general thrust of the point she makes, but I respectfully disagree with it and am giving a further example in relation to fairer funding, with which I think she will agree. I refer to the successful campaign for fairer funding for our schools, where there will be a period of public consultation following it.

Mrs Murray: Is my hon. Friend indicating that local authorities would have to bear the cost?

Michael Tomlinson: Again, with respect to my hon. Friend, may I say that she is repeating a point she made before? I did accept that this money would have to come out of the public purse, but I am seeking to persuade her and other hon. Members that the benefits of public consultation will outweigh the costs. I am giving a good example, or at least I hope I am, about fairer funding. I hope she will agree that having fought and campaigned for fairer funding for our schools, for example, those in Dorset and Poole, which are grossly underfunded, it is right that the public and the stakeholders are consulted. It is right that parents, local authorities, school governors and the general public are consulted, and I encourage everyone to respond to that consultation to ensure that we—

Mr Speaker: Order. I gently exhort the hon. Gentleman to consider the merits of moving on to one or other of the two other amendments that he has for consideration. I would not want him to be led astray by someone, discontented with his previous answer, somehow feeling that he requires to attend to the point beyond what he has already done. The hon. Member for South East Cornwall (Mrs Murray) has made her point and he has made his, and I know that he would not want to engage in tedious repetition.

Michael Tomlinson: I am very grateful for that guidance, Mr Speaker.

Mr Rees-Mogg: I remind my hon. Friend that he said he would explain what the word “appropriate” meant in this context, which is an important point for the House to be clear upon.

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Mr Speaker: That would be entirely orderly and would involve no repetition. The hon. Member for North East Somerset (Mr Rees-Mogg) has done us a service in reminding us that his question has, thus far, been unanswered.

Michael Tomlinson: In which case, let me turn to that very point. As my hon. Friend rightly says, my amendment 4 contains the word “appropriate”. We can all envisage inappropriate public consultations. I again contend that this term should be relatively uncontroversial, because we all know what it means. An inappropriate consultation would be too short or would take place over a festive period such as Christmas, when either people would not have the opportunity to respond or an insufficient number would have the opportunity to do so. Although I welcome the opportunity to expand on the word “appropriate”, I believe it is pretty obvious what it means.

Kevin Foster: The word “appropriate” also relates to the level of the thing to be consulted upon. We have a tradition in this country: certain things—for example, Britain’s membership of the European Union— are decided by consulting every member of the public in a referendum. Other issues such as school funding also affect the wider public, but on issues such as who is a director of something we do not usually go to the length of a full public consultation to decide the process. This is about what is appropriate given the nature of the issue, as well as what is appropriate in terms of the time of year the consultation is held and how long we give people to respond.

Michael Tomlinson: I am very grateful for that helpful intervention. I would wish to expand on the issue of an EU referendum, but I suspect that Mr Speaker would encourage me to move on, so I will not be tempted down that line. I understand the point my hon. Friend makes and will merely respectfully suggest that the word “appropriate” speaks for itself and requires no further elaboration.

Given your encouragement, Mr Speaker, I will now move on to amendments 5 and 6, which also stand in my name and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Erewash. They seek to remove the requirement that the regulations may make provision consequential to the removal of the Secretary of State’s powers; in effect, they would remove the affirmative resolution procedure and insert the negative one. They are simple amendments, so I will not take up your time in debating them at length, Mr Speaker. In effect, the debate is being held now, as is perfectly appropriate, and it would therefore be unnecessary in this case to bring it back.

Wendy Morton: We have discussed the use of the word “appropriate”. Does my hon. Friend feel that these two amendments are appropriate and necessary? I do not feel that they add anything to the Bill, and there is no need for them.

Michael Tomlinson: I am grateful for that intervention, but my view is that in this case it is unnecessary to use the affirmative procedure to approve the matter and the negative procedure would suffice. I understand the point that my hon. Friend makes, but I respectfully suggest that these amendments are appropriate. I was looking up one of the notes in the Library, perhaps one prepared

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by one of your predecessors, Mr Speaker, and I found that it stated that the affirmative procedure is less common, being used in perhaps only 10% of cases.

I will not take up time by referring to the other amendments, merely noting that several and other hon. Members will speak to them in due course. I look forward to a constructive debate on this group.

Mr Rees-Mogg: I had not intended to follow on so quickly, Mr Speaker, as I thought there would be a great rush to the barricades of people wanting to speak. I am moved to speak in opposition to what my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Dorset and North Poole (Michael Tomlinson) is proposing before dealing with my own amendments. I am very concerned about what he is suggesting, given its radicalism and its move away from proper parliamentary scrutiny and from the sovereignty this House enjoys. He asks us to throw all that away for this vague “appropriate” consultation. One of his amendments would remove the following provision in the Bill:

“A statutory instrument containing regulations under subsection (2) which amend or repeal primary legislation…may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House”.

You will know, Mr Speaker, that one of the most dangerous powers this House can give to Ministers—one we have always been cautious about giving them—is the power to amend primary legislation without going through the normal procedures for repealing primary legislation. Therefore, slipping in an amendment to a Bill that would take away that safeguard from this House and the other place, and allow things to be nodded through, is an extraordinarily radical proposal. It takes away the authority of this House and is therefore fundamentally dangerous, and so I oppose it.

Jeremy Quin: Does my hon. Friend envisage any de minimis provision whatsoever? Should everything come before this House as primary legislation?

Mr Rees-Mogg: If primary legislation is being changed the default position should be that it can be changed only by primary legislation. That should not be subject to a de minimis level because primary legislation is by its nature important. If something is not important, why is it in primary legislation? If it is in primary legislation it can be assumed that it is a matter of such nature, state and standing that it has required this House, the other place and Her Majesty to approve it. If we are dealing in trivialities, that is a broader constitutional question that should be considered and we should stop doing that. If something is in primary legislation, it ought, as a starting point, only be changed by primary legislation.

To allow Ministers what have been known as Henry VIII clauses to wipe out primary legislation is something that constitutionalists have been concerned about for many years. That is why I am very uncomfortable with this provision being slipped in as an amendment and brushed over when what it does is of fundamental importance and is quite rarely used. My hon. Friend the Member for Mid Dorset and North Poole made the point that the affirmative route for statutory instruments is rarer than the negative one, and that is quite correct, but the negative one is mainly used for routine regulations

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that do not engage in any change to primary legislation. When primary legislation is changed, that ought to be brought to the House.

Michael Tomlinson: My hon. Friend says that this is being slipped in, but surely now, today, we have the opportunity to debate it and he has the opportunity to speak against it. We are having that discussion right now.

Mr Rees-Mogg: That is absolutely right, but I think that slipped in is a perfectly fair phrase on Fridays, because the debates then tend to be quiet and relatively poorly attended. However, it is nice to see our Benches so full and well trooped, if I might say so, by people who are in the Chamber to support the Bill. I am rather surprised that our friends from Scotland are all absent, but I suppose that the Bill does not immediately affect them, at least not in the first half.

I want to move on to the comparison between the amendment getting rid of the affirmative route for statutory instruments and the one on public consultation. It seems to me to be an extraordinary approach to take to say that when a regulation is changed by the Secretary of State, it is better that it should be consulted on with a group of self-selecting individuals who take the time to get in touch, taking away the ability of this House to act as that safeguard and check. Surely we are here, with a democratic mandate, as the main people to be consulted on behalf of our electorate, to whom we have to report every so often. Issues should not be put out to local consultation, which, as my hon. Friend the Member for North West Hampshire (Kit Malthouse) said, is often more of a fig leaf and an attempt to consult and either achieve a result that is already intended. If not, the consultation is ignored. Consultation has become immensely fashionable and we should always be cautious of fashion. Fashion ebbs and it flows, it comes and it goes, but there is a permanence to this House and in our way of doing things. We are the democratic sounding board for our constituents, so that there are not endless self-selecting consultations with people who are not necessarily particularly interested in the issue.

Mr Speaker: Order. If the hon. Gentleman himself has ever been fashionable, which is in itself extremely doubtful, it can only have been by accident.

Mr Rees-Mogg: Mr Speaker, as always, you are correct. I think that I would take being called fashionable as a grave insult, although I know that your ties are regularly a model of fashion.

Michael Tomlinson: Moving away from the dangers of fashion back to the substance of what we should be debating, will my hon. Friend address the point about the principle of the public consultation and the fact that this very Bill was the product of public consultation?

Mr Rees-Mogg: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that intervention, but I am afraid that I think that most public consultation is bogus. It is about going through the motions and pretending we are interested in views when the Government, or councils or whatever else, want to get on and do whatever they wish to do anyway.

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It simply allows opportunities for judicial review to gum up the process. We should be incredibly cautious about chucking public consultation into Bills, because that does not actually achieve anything.

Seema Kennedy (South Ribble) (Con): Does my hon. Friend agree that our constituents would look on agog at a Bill designed to simplify the process requiring a three-year consultation followed by yet another one?

10.15 am

Mr Rees-Mogg: My hon. Friend hits the nail on the head. That is the problem with this endless consultation; nothing gets done. Last May, people voted and gave us a mandate to do things, not to ask them what we should do.

Michael Tomlinson: May I ask my hon. Friend to consider this point? He mentioned the word “appropriate”. Nowhere does my amendment suggest a three-year consultation period—rather, it suggests an appropriate consultation.

Mr Rees-Mogg: I raised the question of what the word “appropriate” meant earlier and I was indeed intending to come back to it. Appropriate, inappropriate, unacceptable and disappointing are those new Labour words that get dropped into conversations and they mean remarkably little or what, in a Humpty Dumptyish way, what the person hearing them wishes to think that they mean. What is an appropriate consultation? There is no qualification or clarification in the amendment, so what is it intended to achieve? Does “appropriate” mean that signs should be put on noticeboards, as with planning issues? Does it mean that letters should be written to local residents? Does it mean that something should be squirrelled away on the internet? Does it mean that a paper should be laid before this House, or put in the Library, where, no doubt, many people would follow its contents closely? Or does “appropriate” mean that the Secretary of State has a word in his office with the permanent secretary, saying, “Do you think this would be a good idea, Sir Humphrey?”, then Sir Humphrey replies, “Well, you would be very brave, Minister,” and then the idea is dropped on the basis of that consultation? Does it mean the Secretary of State can have a word at home with his family—with his kitchen cabinet—telling them that he is minded to appoint or not appoint a few trustees? I could tell all sorts of anecdotes about how that used to happen in the good old days, but I think it might be wandering slightly from the point. “Appropriate” is a very imprecise word and legislation ought to be precise.

Kevin Foster: My hon. Friend is giving us the benefit of his usual style of speech—[Interruption.] Of fashionable speech, yes. It is certainly in fashion on a Friday to hear my hon. Friend the Member for North East Somerset (Mr Rees-Mogg) speak so well. Does he agree that the problem is that “appropriate” can mean anything under the sun and that various people have different views? For example, with the recent pension changes, some have said that the information should appear in adverts in the press and others that it should be provided in

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individual hand-delivered letters. This term is so vague and really would have to be defined. I think it is strange to say that we want to consult if we are handing out something that is unlikely to get more than a handful of responses given its detailed and technical nature. That will merely build up in the public’s mind the idea that yet again people have decided what they will do and are now consulting on it.

Mr Rees-Mogg: I agree with my hon. Friend. I want to finish on this set of amendments by saying that this House should be jealous of its role as the major focus of consultation in the nation. We were elected to represent our constituents and therefore to express views on these issues. That is why we are here, and what is done with consultation so often is a pretence. It is not about the Government wanting the wisdom of the millions before making up their mind but about the Government wanting the comfort of having been through a rigmarole to get what they wanted in the first place. We should not give up our authority lightly or increase the power of the Executive.

I know want to turn briefly to the amendments tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for North West Hampshire, which are absolutely glorious in their conception. They basically reverse what the Bill is trying to do in the first place, which is a great thing for him to have slipped past our ever-attentive Clerks. That does not often happen on Report. Perhaps the amendments—and this is why our Clerks in their wisdom let them go through—would ensure that there is a safeguard. Safeguards may be sensible. There have been occasions where charities have got into trouble when public money is being spent. Although it is broadly considered a good idea to remove the power from the Secretary of State to appoint trustees so that a decision is made more locally and so that the construction of the charities may be more suitable for the local organisations—that has a great deal of support —we know that something will go wrong at some point.

That is not a particularly Cassandra-like view to take; it is just the experience that we have. We know that there will be a small charitable hospital that puts all its money into an Icelandic bank, for example, and suddenly loses it. The trustees get criticised and attacked, or they write 3,000 letters a year to elderly ladies asking them for money and are seen to have behaved badly. Then somebody will come forward, probably a Member of this House, who will ask the Secretary of State at Question Time, “Why is it that you, Secretary of State, are not doing anything to stop this problem arising? Why have you not kept those residual powers? Why did you not ensure that when the Bill went through Parliament, there was a safeguard, something to protect—”

Maggie Throup: I agree with my hon. Friend’s argument. That could happen to any charity, not just an NHS charity, so why introduce safeguards specifically for NHS charities?

Mr Rees-Mogg: My hon. Friend makes an interesting and important point. NHS charities are different because of the structure of the national health service and the conception of the national health service in people’s minds. There is much less of an immediate governmental interest, or concern with, ordinary private charities that were founded sometimes centuries ago with grants from

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generous benefactors that through the mists of time have evolved and developed. NHS charities work side by side with the state in all that they do, so they are a marginal extension of the state rather than something completely different from it. If we draw a Venn diagram of the third sector, we have a part that is very private and another part that is very much state. NHS charities are very much in the state part of the Venn diagram.

Kevin Foster: I thank my hon. Friend for giving way. He is generous with his time, as always. He talks about NHS charities being close to the state and therefore needing particular provision, but many other charities work closely with our national health service. I think of Rowcroft hospice in my constituency which provides palliative care across south Devon. Why, then, safeguard only certain charities? Why not expand it to all? The amendments do not strike me as worth while.

Mr Rees-Mogg: My hon. Friend ignores the starting point, which is that the Secretary of State makes the appointments, whereas that has never been the case for other charities. They have evolved differently, whereas NHS charities are evolving out of the NHS, more towards the private sector. To put in place a safeguard which one hopes would not be used seems to me quite a prudent thing to do. It says, “This is our hope, this is our intention. We expect it to work and we think it will work in the vast majority of cases and make NHS charities more like other private sector charities.”

Wendy Morton: Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr Rees-Mogg: Of course I give way to the promoter of the Bill.

Wendy Morton: I am grateful. The Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill is proceeding through this House. It comes back to the Chamber next week, giving us the opportunity to hear more about the work of the Charity Commission. Does my hon. Friend agree that when the NHS charities that we are discussing today become independent, there is the assurance that they will be covered by the Charity Commission? That goes a long way to ensuring public trust in those charities, which is the crux of the matter.

Mr Rees-Mogg: I suppose the answer is “Up to a point, Lord Copper.” The Charity Commission has marvellous and admirable elements. It has a brilliant chairman who has been a great force for good in that organisation, sorting out some of the problems that it had before his appointment. I think particularly of the dreadful treatment meted out to the Plymouth Brethren before he was there. It is none the less an unelected, unaccountable quango. I take the rather extraordinary view that we should trust our democratically elected politicians more than we should trust the unelected. That is why I am always banging on about this House maintaining its own powers, and why we should hold Ministers to account. We should be very cautious about thinking that an independent, unaccountable body is a better supervisor than the democratic will of the nation expressed through this House.

When responsibility is shifted, it is prudent to do that cautiously, in stages, and to keep a safeguard in place. When the first case goes wrong, which it will—within

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10 years something will have happened; there will be an NHS charity where the accountant has snaffled off all the money and gone to Barbados or wherever it is fashionable to go at this time of year, or perhaps gone off to South Africa to watch the test match—at that point people will say, “Why didn’t the Government do something about that? Why have they not got a plan? Why didn’t they make sure that they could keep it under control?”. Having a protection, possibly even a time-limited one—

Jeremy Quin: I agree with the gist of what my hon. Friend is saying, but does he agree that if that power exists, it is even more likely that charities will fall into that predicament? If they are fully cognisant of their own responsibilities and know that they have to look to themselves to ensure that such problems do not occur, it is far more likely that fewer such problems will occur.

Mr Rees-Mogg: No, I cannot follow the logic of that argument. I do not think charities will be more likely or less likely to have ill governance because the Secretary of State is in or out. The protection would be there in case there is ill governance, which there invariably is to a small degree. In charities, businesses and Governments there is invariably ill practice somewhere along the line, and I do not think the motive for ill practice is affected by the knowledge that the Secretary of State may be keeping an eye on them or a feeling that he is not doing so. We need to ensure that if the problem arises, there is a safeguard—a mechanism to put things right.

Jeremy Quin: My hon. Friend misunderstood me. I was not for one moment suggesting that a board may be encouraged to act in an adverse way because of powers resting with the Secretary of State? A presence that could rescue a charity in dire straits may influence the judgments of a board of trustees.

Mr Rees-Mogg: I quibble about the word “rescue”. It is not so much rescue as fire. If the trustees do things badly, the Secretary of State may fire them and put other people in their place. That would not encourage slackness, idleness or malpractice. It would encourage probity, forthrightness and good management. The logic of my hon. Friend’s argument supports what I am saying, rather than what he thought he was promoting.

My hon. Friend the Member for North West Hampshire has proposed extremely sensible, prudent measures that will keep a broad eye on what is going on.

Kevin Foster: I am listening to the points being made, but I am still struggling to understand why a handful of NHS charities performing wrongly would be any different from any other charity performing wrongly. I see the hon. Member for Bristol South (Karin Smyth) in her place. We remember the recent discussions in the Public Accounts Committee about the Kids Company collapse. Why should we not have a good system of charity regulation, rather than a specific power, as suggested in the amendments?

Mr Rees-Mogg: I reiterate—I am sorry, Mr Speaker, to reiterate. I may be becoming repetitive, but I hope not yet tediously repetitive; that may come at a later stage. We need to look at the starting point. These charities are coming out of the control of the Secretary

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of State. To move them completely away from his control in one fell swoop may be relatively imprudent, whereas to do it more cautiously and keep a safeguard is perfectly sensible. By contrast, in the case of charities that have never been under the Secretary of State and have never had their trustees appointed by the Government, it is perfectly sensible to leave them with their existing regulatory system.

Wendy Morton: We have had a lot of debate about the term “appropriate”. What exactly does my hon. Friend mean by “cautiously”? I have to say that I am very sceptical about this amendment.

10.30 am

Mr Rees-Mogg: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for trying to out-pedant me, which is a great thing to do, and she may well have won this particular bout of pedantry. By “cautiously” I mean proceeding in a step-by-step way. I am fully supportive of the thrust of what her Bill is trying to do, which is admirable, sensible and wise. I am merely suggesting that in seeking to reach the same destination, we should ensure that there is a fall-back position in case things happen that are less than ideal. That is simply a matter of good sense and good housekeeping. There is no need to do everything in a great rush. As somebody once said, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, and there are no doubt other clichés of a similar kind that I could use.

I want to turn to my own amendments, two of which are concerned with preserving the rights of this House. Amendment 8 would remove clause 2(8), which is about how the statutory instrument setting out regulations of this kind should be brought forward. It would ensure that a draft of the instrument is laid before the House and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament. Laws are always best made when they go through the full democratic process, controls are kept on Ministers, and we do not have arbitrary government.

We need to ensure that the assets underlying this are being protected, so in amendment 7 I suggest that there should be a statement by the Comptroller and Auditor General—a comptroller who is properly spelt rather than a controller with the modern spelling—that he is satisfied with the treatment of public assets and funds envisaged in the regulations. This is public money, to some degree—money that is under public auspices.

Jeremy Quin: I challenge my hon. Friend on that remark. Surely it is not public money but charitable money. It has been invested in the charity by donors, and the last thing they would expect is for the Comptroller and Auditor General to opine on it.

Mr Rees-Mogg: I go back to what I said earlier about where NHS charities sit. By virtue of the money being given to a charity that supports the NHS, that money comes into the public purview and is subject to the way in which the public sector ought to ensure the good management of money. That is why I think it is appropriate—“appropriate”; I am using that awful word—rather, suitable and proper that it should be audited thoroughly to make sure that assets are not handed over that should not be handed over or misappropriated,

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and to give confidence to this House, and indeed to the other place, that moneys are being sensibly protected. These are very modest amendments.

Kevin Foster: Does my hon. Friend agree that some of his comments strike against the heart of this Bill, which says that these charities should be independent so that people feel encouraged to donate to them rather than feeling that by doing so they are replacing what could be, or they might believe should be, funded by the Government. Saying that it becomes public money when donated hits at the whole point of the Bill.

Mr Rees-Mogg: What a pleasure it is to see you taking the Chair, Madam Deputy Speaker. We have been waiting for this happy hour to arrive to help us carry our debates forward.

No, I do not think my hon. Friend is right. When people give money to a charity that is linked to the Government, they are even more concerned that it will be spent well, and they therefore want extra protections to assure them of that.

Seema Kennedy: Does my hon. Friend not agree that the entire point of the Bill is to dissociate the charities from the Government and to provide independence, which is what gives them such a great reputation in their local areas?

Mr Rees-Mogg: As I said, it is a question is how we get to where we are going from where we are starting. As we make the transition, it is absolutely crucial to ensure that the money is handed over in a way that is properly audited so that people can have confidence in the NHS charities and not feel that there is some kind of sleight of hand or money is being siphoned off.

Wendy Morton: Does my hon. Friend not agree, though, that funds donated to the NHS and put into these charities must be held separately from Exchequer funding provided by the taxpayer? Charities exist to support their beneficiaries, and there is a special relationship between the charities and the—

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): Order. I am trying to be helpful to the hon. Lady in saying that I know it is a great temptation to address her remarks to the hon. Gentleman and look at him to gauge his reaction—looking at him is always, of course, a very great pleasure—but if she turns her back on the rest of the House, it does not work. It is really important that she should face the Chair. She can still speak about the hon. Gentleman and imagine him in her mind as she does so.

Wendy Morton: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. It is wonderful just to be able to imagine my hon. Friend in my mind. I have finished my intervention, but I am grateful for your advice and reminder.

Mr Rees-Mogg: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. This has been a very distracting interlude, I must confess.

The key is the safeguarding of money and ensuring that things are done properly with an audit trail.

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Kit Malthouse: Does my hon. Friend agree that my hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Wendy Morton) gave herself away at the beginning of her intervention when she referred to this money being donated by the public to the NHS? In the public’s mind, there is often a confusion between the charity and the institution that it serves, and it is therefore crucial to have these controls.

Mr Rees-Mogg: My hon. Friend puts it extremely well. That confusion is almost inevitable. In the case of charities linked to hospitals, most members of the public will expect the money that is spent charitably to be as thoroughly audited as the money that is spent by the state, and it is prudent to formalise that.

Jeremy Quin: I am desperately trying not to look at my hon. Friend; I will try to imagine him. He is being typically modest in saying that these are modest proposals, as they go to the heart of the Bill. He refers to the necessity of an audit trail, and I agree. However, there are plenty of very good firms of auditors fit and proper for making such pronunciations, so I do not see why we need to trouble the Comptroller and Auditor General, who is a busy man with lots of other stuff to do.

Mr Rees-Mogg: My hon. Friend’s kindness towards the Comptroller and Auditor General is, I am sure, noted in many other places beyond this one, and I expect that his office would be delighted not to have the extra work. However, he is missing a point that I may already have laboured, so I will labour it only once more. This is a transition phase. This money is very close to public money. It is in a Neverland, one might say, in that it is not quite separate from charitable money and not quite ordinary public expenditure. Therefore, keeping an eye on how it is used in the most formal and protected way, at least in an initial stage, is a prudent way of ensuring that the assets are not used or transferred unsuitably.

Amendment 9 is different in nature and arises from a constituency issue. A constituent of mine, with the support of the NHS, established a charity that put defibrillator boxes around the country. These are very admirable boxes that operate in conjunction with the ambulance service and have been shown to save lives by ensuring that defibrillation equipment is available throughout small villages across the country. It has been a most successful charitable endeavour.

While my constituent was working with the ambulance trusts, they wrote to him to say that it was perfectly all right—indeed, they wanted him to do this—to put the ambulance service logo on the boxes, so that people would know that they were formally connected to the NHS. He then received a letter out of the blue from some little-known bureaucracy that protects the NHS logo. I understand the reasons for that: we do not necessarily want random private companies to call themselves the NHS or for unrelated businesses to use the logo. Some protection is needed, but the letter struck me as a heavy-handed way of going about things. It was an excessive response to something that was linked to the NHS and that was, at its core, a health issue operating with and through the support of the NHS.

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The amendment would merely make it straightforward for the Secretary of State to overrule the whole procedure. When there is an issue of this kind, the Secretary of State would have the power to say, “Well, there may be this bureaucracy that safeguards the NHS logo, but I am overruling it and giving permission for the logo to be used, because I think it is a sensible thing to do.”

The reason I like the amendment is that, in a strange way, it relates to what this place is about. It is about seeking redress of grievance for our constituents when they are badly treated by bureaucracy. The best way of doing that is not through independent, unaccountable and unelected bodies that have been separated off from Government, but by a Minister being held accountable at the Dispatch Box. That is how we get things put right for our constituents.

This very small amendment would simply allow the Secretary of State to short-circuit the system when it is behaving badly. It provides that the permission given by the Secretary of State can be cancelled with six months’ notice, which is a reasonable amount of time for people to change any boxes, stationery or anything else they may have with the NHS logo on it, if they are found to have been abusing the permission or for some other reason. The principle that power should be with democratically elected people, and that it should be there to override off-shoots of bureaucracy that nobody previously knew about or cared for, is a very good and sound one. As I understand it, the issue that my constituent has had has been mainly sorted out, but the amendment would be a better and clearer way of dealing with such things.

Of the amendments that I have tabled, amendment 9 is of the greatest importance to me. As is the case with so much of what I have been saying, it is about the fundamental principle of what we are trying to do when we legislate. We are trying to ensure democratic accountability and the rights of our constituents, and not to be constantly handing things over to ever-growing bureaucracies.

Kevin Foster: The primary aim of this Bill is to make very clear that the charities are independent of the Government. The NHS logo relates to an organisation that is the epitome of what many people see the public sector as being about—that is, the Government. My hon. Friend’s amendment would, therefore, strike at the very heart of the Bill and make it less worthy.

Mr Rees-Mogg: My hon. Friend is absolutely wrong. He has misunderstood, misconstrued and possibly even misread the amendment, which uses the word “may”. I am not compelling the Secretary of State to go out and chuck the logo on to every box he sees all over the country or to spray the NHS logo on every shopping centre he passes. I do not see him as a vandal going around with a spray can and a little cut-out stencil, spraying “NHS” on everything or engraving it on our foreheads when we come into the Chamber. That is not what the amendment proposes—it uses the word “may”. It says that when those charities that work immeasurably closely—hand in glove, on some occasions—with the national health service find it useful to use the logo and the Secretary of State thinks it is a good idea, he may give them the authority to do so.

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Michael Tomlinson: Is my hon. Friend not at risk of falling foul of his own test? He criticised my amendment’s use of the word “appropriate”, but is not his use of the word “may” just as vague and risky?

Mr Rees-Mogg: Of course not. “May” is a very precise word: it is an allowing factor and it gives permission to somebody to do something, and they are allowed to use their discretion to do it. The amendment uses “may” so that people may go directly to the Secretary of State, who is democratically accountable, and get the decision made, rather than have to go off to a bureaucracy that is not accountable or that is accountable only indirectly. “May” is about restoring democratic and, ultimately, parliamentary control over something that belongs to the nation as a whole.

10.45 am

The NHS logo does not belong to an obscure body. It may do in some legal sense, but the NHS is the peoples’, for want of a better turn of phrase. It is not something truly vested in an obscure bureaucracy. Therefore, to allow it to be used by charities that are co-operating with the NHS is a sensible ability to have within the Bill. The amendment does not compel the Secretary of State to do that, but if another Member of Parliament finds themselves in my position, where a charity in their constituency has been treated badly, they may ask the Secretary of State whether he will give his permission. They could write to and lobby him, or send a petition to his house. The amendment opens up all sorts of ways to seek redress of grievance, but it also achieves the main object of the Bill, which is that there should be a great flourishing of charities that will help the NHS to do even more than it already does, and some of them may need this flexibility. My hon. Friend the Member for Horsham (Jeremy Quin) looks as if he wishes to intervene.

Jeremy Quin: I was halfway to asking whether my hon. Friend would give way, so I am glad that he has invited me to intervene. His argument in favour of the amendment is very persuasive, but I am not fully convinced. Some liability is accrued by the use of a well-known logo associated with a national asset such as the NHS. Does he believe that the Secretary of State is the right person to be the final arbiter of whether it is acceptable to the public purse to undertake such a liability? The charities may be doing a great thing, but they are not actually the NHS.

Mr Rees-Mogg: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving me the opportunity to clarify that. I think that the Secretary of State is the right person, because that is his responsibility and that is where the buck stops, but the financial liability for the use of the NHS logo in the circumstances I have described is likely to be highly limited. Its use would merely indicate co-operation and collaboration with the NHS, not that the NHS was taking on all the responsibilities and liabilities of the organisation. Legally, it would not create the liability my hon. Friend suggests.

The amendment is the result of a specific constituency issue, which I have raised with Ministers on behalf of my constituent. It is an answer to that issue, but it also has broader application, which is why in due course I hope to move it formally.

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Mr Richard Bacon (South Norfolk) (Con): Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr Rees-Mogg: I was about to finish, but yes I will give way.

Mr Bacon: I was in the Tea Room and heard that a very fashionable Member was making a speech, so I thought I had better return to the Chamber at speed, which I did, and I am glad that I caught the end of my hon. Friend’s remarks. A liability might not arise in the way he describes, but surely he recognises that if the Secretary of State may allow the logo to be used, that would give rise to the possibility of judicial review. The Secretary of State may allow it in one case but not in another, and somebody who felt aggrieved by that could challenge the decision in the courts. Has my hon. Friend made any assessment of the extra cost of litigation for the Government and the NHS in defending such proceedings?

Mr Rees-Mogg: My hon. Friend has been caught up in this idea of fashion, and I am afraid that he speaks of yesterday’s fashion of judicial review. The great work done by the now Lord President of the Council and former Lord Chancellor, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, in restricting judicial review means that I simply do not think that that would now be a risk. It would have been a risk in those fashionable new Labour days, when people were judicially reviewing everything and having bogus consultations, which I spoke about earlier. That set the fashion for judicial review, but it is yesterday’s fashion. Those of us who are modern and who are with it—in the current phraseology—know that judicial review is yesterday’s news in such a context. Therefore, I do not believe that this would be a risk. It is a sensible way to deal with a problem that has arisen and to prevent it from arising again.

Jeremy Quin: Madam Deputy Speaker, I promise that this will be my last intervention on my hon. Friend. To return to the logo, if any of my constituents saw the NHS logo on a letterhead, they would naturally assume that they could go through the relevant complaints procedures for the NHS. Is that what my hon. Friend has in mind? To me, it seems that that would be perfectly apparent to my constituents and a natural thing for them to do.

Mr Rees-Mogg: I am not sure that those are the circumstances under which the Secretary of State would use his discretion to allow the logo to be used. I am thinking more of a sign outside a charity shop that supports the NHS, saying “We support the local NHS”, with the name of the local hospital that it is supporting and the local hospital’s logo, which includes the letters “NHS”. I am thinking of that sort of circumstance. It is not about promoting the charity as an offshoot of the NHS; it is about indicating its co-operation with the NHS.

Defibrillator boxes give the name of the ambulance service—the ambulance service’s logo includes the letters “NHS”—to indicate that people should ring 999. The ambulance service will then give them the code to open the box and talk them through how to use the equipment. Most of us probably would not know how to use it without some advice. It was entirely rational to use the

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logo until some idiotic bureaucracy got in the way. Initially, it was very stubborn—the worst type of pettifogging bureaucracy. If the Secretary of State had had the power to cut through such bureaucracy, that could just have been done.

The circumstances in which the discretion is used would be limited to where there was genuine co-operation—where the charitable sector and the NHS are working hand in glove—and there was a benefit from using it. It is not about charities posing as the NHS where they are not part of the NHS. If the Secretary of State thought the logo was being misused, he would have the power to rescind the permission. This protected and limited power would solve a particular problem.

Kit Malthouse: I rise to speak to amendments 1, 3 and 2, which—inexplicably, given their strength—stand in my name only, as well as the splendid amendment 9 and the unfortunate amendment 4. It is a pleasure to speak under your chairmanship, Madam Deputy Speaker. In my experience, debates with you in the Chair are often the most efficient and good natured. I hope that today’s debate will be just that.

On amendment 1, when one tables an amendment, it is a great pleasure to have one’s speech made for one much more eloquently than one could make it oneself, so I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for North East Somerset (Mr Rees-Mogg) for his support. Recently, there have been significant charitable scandals in this country. Much of the time of the House and of the Public Accounts Committee has been taken up with Kids Company. I have become convinced that one of the phenomena at work in that organisation was group-think. Those hon. Members who are students of psychology will know of the phenomenon of group-think: individuals in a group, often when they are led by a charismatic leader, can get lost in a miasma of consensus, in which they are unwilling or unable to acknowledge any view that departs from theirs, and indeed are hostile to outside views of their conduct.

The most famous political example was the Bay of Pigs disaster: the group around President Kennedy became trapped in group-think. We have seen commercial examples of it in the UK. Marks & Spencer and British Airways got trapped in group-think in the 1980s, when they went for massive international expansion. They did so against the views of everybody on the outside, but both boards convinced themselves that it was the right thing to do. Disastrously, Kodak and Swissair, which was once talked of as the “flying bank”, went bust because the management were unwilling to look for outside views.

Seema Kennedy: My hon. Friend takes me back to my time as a student in Paris 20 years ago, when I was very grateful for the expansion of Marks & Spencer so that I could get my English pies and pasties, but I digress. My hon. Friend is giving examples of group-think from 30 years ago. Does he not agree that the world has moved on, and that the rise of the individual makes our children—the millennium generation—much less likely to fall into that sort of psychology?

Kit Malthouse: I assume that my hon. Friend was not a shareholder of Marks & Spencer at the time. For those of us whose families were shareholders, it was a complete disaster, but I am glad that she was able to

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munch her pasty. The answer to her question is no; it is quite the reverse. The modern mind is much more akin to group-think, indeed to group hysteria. As politicians, we experience that daily on social media. We have all seen how small untruths, half-thoughts or theories can whip themselves up, on Twitter and Facebook, to become reality in a short space of time.

Mr Bacon: I agree with my hon. Friend. Was not one of the most profound and surprising examples of that, through the use of social media, the collective view that suddenly gained ground among hundreds of thousands of people that the right hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) would be a good leader of the Labour party?

Kit Malthouse: My hon. Friend makes a remarkably good point. For Members of this House, that is a very pertinent example of the damage that social media can wreak on our ancient institutions, such as the Labour party.

The truth is that the modern mind is much more susceptible to such things, and particularly to charismatic leaders. One only has to look at the effect of Instagram, and the millions of followers that otherwise unmeritorious individuals have on it, to see how willing people are to go along with such things these days, like sheep in a herd.

Mr Rees-Mogg: Will my hon. Friend give way?

Kit Malthouse: Yes. Sorry, I should have said “flock”, not “herd”.

Mr Rees-Mogg: That was exactly my point.

Kit Malthouse: I thought so. I am grateful to the hon. Member for pedantry, who is right.

This is one of the things about which I am concerned. We saw the notion of group-think in Kids Company. A group of trustees, led by a charismatic leader, felt themselves to be invulnerable. They thought that they should not be doubted, and they were hostile to external views expressing doubt about them. One only has to review the correspondence of Mr Yentob, with his wild claims about the death and insurrection on the streets that Kids Company’s demise would cause, to see that group-think in action.

I studied politics and economics at university, specialising in the psychology and behavioural side of politics, and we studied group-think quite closely. When future students come to study group-think, they will look at Kids Company as a perfect example of it. Those involved were trapped in group-think. If only somebody had been able to step in and take control earlier, the charity and the remnants of its good work could have been saved.

Jeremy Quin: My hon. Friend is referring to the charitable sector, which has billions of pounds of assets and does a vast amount of good. Tarring every charitable board with the same brush is grossly unfair.

Kit Malthouse: No, I am not tarring them with the same brush. I am saying that all boards—commercial, charitable or even political—must bear this in mind.

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That is the whole foundation of our modern governance structures. It is the idea behind having non-executive directors, who are meant to be external and to provide a challenge to make executives and those more involved in the work of an organisation think more carefully about what they are doing.

Jeremy Quin: My hon. Friend will be aware that a good board contains non-executive directors to fulfil that challenge function. They are appointed by the board; they do not need to be appointed by an external body.

Kit Malthouse: The truth is that non-executives are technically appointed by the shareholders, so they are appointed by people who have an interest in the board being challenged constructively. The problem with charities is that non-executives are appointed by the board, the members of which more often than not appoint people in their own likeness. When the members of a board get trapped in group-think, they will appoint people who agree with them. Brave would be the chairman or chairwoman of the trustees who appointed somebody awkward or difficult, who might question or challenge them, particularly when one charismatic person is in charge.

Seema Kennedy: My hon. Friend clearly feels passionately on this matter, but he paints a bleak picture of a nation of volunteers and charity workers led by demagogues, where everybody follows their leader blindly. I have been a trustee and can reassure him that that is not the case. There are challenging voices. Given that his amendments would reinsert the power of the Secretary of State, he seems to lack confidence in people’s independence of mind and confidence in their charities.

11 am

Kit Malthouse: No, I do not lack confidence in people’s independence of mind. I have great admiration for my hon. Friend, who is very independent-minded and, I am sure, conducts herself extremely well as a trustee. The point is that there is a danger of group-think, and I have given a number of examples illustrating how it can come about. I am sure that happened at Kids Company.

That point is important in respect of this Bill because, as my right hon. Friend the Member for North East Somerset—sorry, my hon. Friend—said, the charities we are talking about here are different. They are not like other charities. People associate them in their minds with the institution with which they are connected. They are seen as part of the national health service. When I give to the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, I know that I am giving, at one remove, straight to the ward. I am not giving the money because the charity might spend it elsewhere. I know that I am giving it to that hospital. The two are inextricably linked.

My right hon. Friend the Member for North East Somerset—I hope he will forgive me for constantly referring to him as right honourable, but it is only a matter of time—is absolutely right when he says that, at some point, something will go wrong. Even with Kids Company, which did not have such links, but was in

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receipt of public money, there were demands on the Government to do something. Indeed, the Prime Minister was on the rack to a certain extent because he had been associated with Kids Company.

Pauline Latham: My hon. Friend might not have been in the Chamber the other night for the debate on banking regulation, but the right hon. Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart) said that she had been prevented from becoming a member of the trustee board of a charity because she was a “politically exposed person”. Does my hon. Friend recognise that some of us will have difficulty supporting amazing charities, such as Great Ormond Street, which are not like the one he mentions?

Kit Malthouse: Yes. I am trying to get to a position where we can have confidence in the governance of charities, and confidence that when things go wrong, there are appropriate mechanisms for someone to step in and deal with things quickly. My point is that in the case of national health service charities—that is what people think of them as—at some point, the Secretary of State will be asked to sort out problems.

We have to remember that there are practicalities involved in this. If the Secretary of State is unable to take control of the board and replace the trustees, he or she cannot get immediate access to the bank account. They cannot get anybody to sign a mandate to allow them to control the money, or even to freeze the account to stop money flowing in or out. When this hospital pass, this UXB or unexploded bomb of a hospital charity that has behaved badly or got into trouble, perhaps through no fault of its own, lands in the lap of a Secretary of State, whoever it may be—it could be one of us here on these Benches in the future, perhaps—the inability to step in and take control will have a significant political, and indeed financial, impact. That might impact on the care that takes place on the ward.

Mrs Sheryll Murray: My hon. Friend has cited one charity as an example, but does he have any recent information about any NHS hospital charities or NHS charitable trusts on which he is basing his assumptions?

Kit Malthouse: I do not, and the reason is that the Secretary of State currently has control of the appointment of trustees. That is exactly why. If I were Secretary of State—I assume that the same is true of the current Secretary of State and past Secretaries of State—I would be very careful about who I appointed, so that I was sure that I was handing that fiduciary duty to people whom I trusted and who had an element of accountability to me.

Kevin Foster: My hon. Friend is being very generous in taking interventions. I want to get to the nub of his amendments. The examples that he has cited of corporate governance, and Alan Yentob’s emotional blackmail in respect of the Kids Company charity, relate to general issues of regulation. Why should NHS charities be different? We are trying to make them independent. Why should the Bill be amended in this way? I do not think that my hon. Friend would argue that any time a business or charity goes wrong, the solution is for the Government to appoint a director, so why is he making that argument in respect of this Bill?

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Kit Malthouse: I hesitate to be repetitive, but the truth is that these charities are different. Let me give a practical example. Say, for instance, that an NHS charitable trust that has become independent and that has independent trustees runs a huge appeal to raise money for a CAT scanner to go into a hospital. It gets three quarters of the way through the appeal and, suddenly, it becomes apparent that the money has gone missing. There are people queued up, waiting to use the CAT scanner. The charity may get lost in months and months of inquiry, and much of the money, which was for a dedicated purpose, may be defrayed on other things to deal with the problems—accountants, lawyers, judges, challenges from elsewhere or whatever else. We have seen that sort of thing happen before. I would want the Secretary of State to be able to step in and say, “No. We are now going to appoint trustees who will make sure the money is spent on the CAT scanner, and that people get the treatment they need.”

Seema Kennedy: I thank my hon. Friend for giving way. He is giving an excellent pitch to be the Health Secretary one day. I want to return to my previous point about his bleak outlook on the way that charitable boards and their trustees conduct themselves. There is adequate provision in charity law for interventions to take place. It is not necessary for the Secretary of State for Health to step in.

Kit Malthouse: The truth is that there have not been adequate safeguards in charity law, as my hon. Friend will know. That is why the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill is going through the House at this very moment. Anybody who has followed the passage of the Bill or sat on the Committee will know that part of it will beef up the powers of the Charity Commission to give it greater control in the event of financial misdemeanour or charities getting into financial trouble. It will strengthen exactly those powers about which I am talking.

Mr Bacon: My hon. Friend the Member for South Ribble (Seema Kennedy) pre-empted me. One might think that there was no need for the amendments because the Charity Commission, which was established in law to supervise these functions, would step in. However, does not the evidence from the National Audit Office report, “Giving Confidently”, from autumn 2001, and the much later evidence from the NAO’s studies over the past two or three years on the Cup Trust and the Charity Commission more generally, show that, in practice, the Charity Commission has a track record of not doing a particularly good job? In the circumstances that my hon. Friend the Member for North West Hampshire (Kit Malthouse) describes, where swift action is needed, the existing framework is not adequate. It is not enough simply to say that what he describes has not happened yet in a way that we can readily recall. The point, surely, is that we must create the governance architecture and environment to respond quickly when it is necessary to do so.

Kit Malthouse: My hon. Friend makes a very good point. I recommend to the House his book, which is filled with examples of Government incompetence, many of which were brought about by the group-think phenomenon and a lack of good governance. He is an

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expert in National Audit Office reports, having pored over many of them in his time on the Public Accounts Committee in the last Parliament and, I think, the one before that.

Mr Bacon: Fifteen years.

Kit Malthouse: Fifteen years on the Public Accounts Committee—extraordinary! I therefore take his words seriously. He is right that the key is to get the governance entirely right.

I guess the point that I am making—maybe I am a lone voice, although perhaps I am joined by my hon. Friend the Member for North East Somerset—is that even with the most ideal governance in the world, things occasionally go wrong. In that instance, the Secretary of State must have the power to step in, given the critical nature of the services these charities perform and their inextricable link to the national health service.

Maggie Throup: My hon. Friend’s amendments would undermine the whole purpose of the Bill, which is to give these charities their independence. As he rightly says, the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill, which is going through the House at the moment, will strengthen the protections and the governance arrangements for charities such as these.

Kit Malthouse: I acknowledge that point, but we have been round this carousel a couple of times. I pose just one question to those who are nervous about my amendments: in the event of something going wrong, who would fire and replace the trustees? No one. They become a self-governing group. One of the problems with charitable governance is that there are no shareholders to dispose of underperforming trustees. Charities have to acknowledge their own bad performance and fire themselves. In a situation where there is an inextricable link to a particular establishment, the Secretary of State needs to have the ability to step in, in extremis.

It is often forgotten that charities receive public money, and no charity is more likely to receive public money than an NHS hospital charity. Such charities are more likely to receive grants for their performance of services, projects, equipment and so on. We therefore have a particular interest in NHS charities.

Mr Rees-Mogg: I support my hon. Friend’s amendment because it is an emergency provision that would be rarely used. From the tone of the debate, there is an impression that the Secretary of State would use it the whole time. Does my hon. Friend agree that it would probably not be used more than once in 10 years?

Kit Malthouse: My hon. Friend is right. Proposed subsection (2B) in amendment 1 provides that the Secretary of State would be allowed to use the powers only by permission of the House. I am with my hon. Friend in his desire to protect the House’s privileges and powers. I did not get elected to give the Government a free run. When the good people of North West Hampshire elected me, they placed two votes: one for a Government and the other for somebody to hold them account. I will try to do that job. Should the Secretary of State wish to step in, he would have to lay a statutory instrument

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before both Houses of Parliament and seek their support. It could not be done easily, on a whim or through a signature on a piece of paper. It would require debate and examination, and need all of us to do our job of scrutiny and reach a settled decision to allow him to step in. I recognise that it is a fundamental step and that an element of separation should be maintained.

Kevin Foster: My hon. Friend is generous with his time. In my constituency, Torbay Hospital League of Friends has operated successfully for 60 years, raising millions of pounds for the benefit of local people. A picture is being painted of needing a step-in power, but the whole process that must be gone through to achieve it, which my hon. Friend has just outlined, probably makes the amendment meaningless. Why do these charities need such a provision when other successful charities that are linked to hospitals do not?

Kit Malthouse: My hon. Friend is a dog with a bone. As I have explained—I think five times—I believe that the charities that we are considering are different because of the inextricable link with the institution that they serve. In the public’s mind, they are just a vehicle to give the money to the hospital and the national health service. Indeed, many boast about the percentage of money given to them that will be spent on the wards of a hospital. Those charities are seen co-funding, along with the Government, the NHS. I can see that not everybody is convinced, but I hope that others will speak in support of my amendments.

As I have said, the provision would be in the House’s control through a statutory instrument. It is not as though the Secretary of State could act unilaterally. We would all have control.

Jeremy Quin: I apologise to my hon. Friend: I rise not to support his amendment, but to oppose it, particularly on the point that he is making. His time is valuable. Does he really think that it is a good use of it for orders on this subject to be laid before this House and the other place, and for the matter to be considered on that grand scale? If he must vest these powers with the Secretary of State, does their exercise need to come back to this Chamber?

Kit Malthouse: I have the utmost respect for my hon. Friend, but that was a slightly odd intervention, given that much of the Bill is about one hospital and it is taking up many hours of debate in the House. I do believe that those kinds of things are serious, and, frankly, he and I have sat on Statutory Instrument Committees on much more trivial matters that take up the House’s time.

11.15 am

Wendy Morton: I take exception to the point about the Bill taking up the House’s time. It covers not only Great Ormond Street hospital, which is only one clause in it, but the group of special NHS charities. There are about 16 in total; there were 20. In the bigger scheme of things, there are around 260 NHS charities throughout the country, which all do fantastic work, and the

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Bill really deserves the debate, and the discussion about some interesting amendments. Although I will speak later, I will not support my hon. Friend’s amendments.

Kit Malthouse: My hon. Friend makes a mistake. I did not object to the time; my hon. Friend the Member for Horsham (Jeremy Quin) objected to time possibly being used on these matters. I am perfectly happy. I think that the Bill is very good and I support its broad thrust.

Mrs Sheryll Murray: Will my hon. Friend confirm that, when he said that the Bill relates to a single NHS charity, he was referring to one clause? It would help if he clarified that because I got the impression that he said that the Bill related to one specific NHS charity.

Kit Malthouse: My hon. Friend is right. I correct myself. One clause relates to Great Ormond Street and the rest of the Bill clears up some anomalies. The debate is not about Great Ormond Street’s requirements, but about other ancillary bits in the Bill. One wonders whether the rest of the Bill could have been included in the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill, and we could have had a short measure about Great Ormond Street, but that is a matter for the Bill’s promoter and sponsors.

Jeremy Quin: Will my hon. Friend give way?

Kit Malthouse: No, I would like to move on to amendment 2. I am conscious that others wish to speak.

Amendment 2 would address a particular issue that I have come across in my constituency work. The only national charity that is located in North West Hampshire is the Macular Society. It is quite small and raises about £5 million or £6 million a year, most of which goes into research. One of the complaints of the Macular Society, which obviously deals with sight-related illnesses, is that enormous charities for sight and blindness, such as RNIB and Guide Dogs for the Blind, which raise many tens of millions of pounds—more than £100 million each—put hardly any money into research. Although they are engaged in blindness in its wider sense, they do not use their muscle to improve the lives of those who are afflicted by blindness or partial sightedness through trying to find cures and therapies.

The Macular Society and others complain about that and the fact that, if there was more research, we might be able to do something about the conditions. Part of the reason for the lack of research must be the disconnection with the organisation with which the charities should engage. For example, although I have not looked, it would doubtless be helpful to Guide Dogs for the Blind if it had representatives on its board from the scientific community and some hospitals, such as the Western eye hospital, because then the charity might be compelled to put money into the right causes.

The amendment seeks to ensure that, when an NHS charity is attached to a particular hospital, that hospital is allowed to put at least one trustee on the board. The charities need to stay connected. They need to have a line of communication and to be able to see the right priorities in the organisation rather than decide on their own pet projects, which they foist on the hospital without

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negotiation. The disconnection between charity and purpose can often happen, and it seems to be particularly pertinent to blindness.

Wendy Morton: On the point about making these appointments, it would be helpful if my hon. Friend clarified to exactly which bodies the Secretary of State would have powers to appoint under the amendment.

Kit Malthouse: I am sorry, but I am actually talking about amendment 3, not amendment 2. I am getting myself confused because, in usual British fashion, the amendment paper has the amendments in the wrong order. I will deal with my hon. Friend’s point when I get to amendment 2.

Amendment 3 would simply ensure that, if any hospital has a charity attached, it has the power to appoint one trustee. That seems sensible. Many of those charities will already have such a provision in their trust document. The amendment would just to make sure of that.

Amendment 2 states that in “exceptional circumstances” the Secretary of State should have the power to

“appoint one or more trustees”.

That returns me to my primary point about when charitable trusts go rogue or off the reservation, or where charitable trustees become locked in a group-think situation. Rather than dismiss them all and take control, the Secretary of State may feel that it is more appropriate to appoint one or two people from outside who can add a bit of ginger to the board’s discussions, and challenge what they are doing.

For example, a particularly powerful charity that is attached to an NHS hospital might feel that it is flush with cash and that it needs to intervene in a dispute with its doctors, or that it may have cause to campaign politically against some of the things that the Government are doing. It might want to lobby on the NHS settlement by region. When trustees or charities stray into that area—there has been a lot of consternation about that across the House with regard to particular charities—the Secretary of State may reserve power in those exceptional circumstances to appoint one or two trustees to challenge that view.

Nigel Huddleston (Mid Worcestershire) (Con): My hon. Friend is making some valid points. Does he agree that instead of a laser focus on the number of trustees in charitable organisations, the motivation, character and skills of those trustees is the important element to investigate?

Kit Malthouse: My hon. Friend is right, and anyone who is putting together a board of trustees wants to ensure that it contains a full range of skills and experience. As I have said, trustees appoint themselves. No one externally is taking a wider view of how broad the ambit is of those people’s experience, how fruitful or consensual their discussions are, or whether they are being challenged. We all know of charities that are made up from small numbers of people. Often, those jobs are undervalued and take a lot of work. The people who act as charity trustees are often heroic, and there are too few of them. Many people will not take on such onerous duties, so there are often small numbers of trustees, particularly in some of the smaller charities such as friends of hospitals and so on. In such circumstances

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it behoves the Secretary of State to keep a weather eye, and when problems with a local charity are brought before MPs and we wish to raise them with the Secretary of State, we must be able to do so in the knowledge that he or she will be able to do something and appoint somebody to challenge or change things.

Jeremy Quin: My hon. Friend paints a very dangerous picture. He was referring to circumstances in which a charity strays into inappropriate political activity, but that is purely the remit of the Charity Commission. In such circumstances, the last person who should be intervening is the Secretary of State—we would be inviting them to wade into a political quagmire.

Kit Malthouse: That may be so, but—I hesitate to stress this point again—in my view these charities are different. They trade off the advantage of being associated with the national health service. People see them as part and parcel of the health service; they are not viewed as separate in the way that Oxfam or the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association might be. If something is called the Great Ormond Street hospital charity, people see it as a wing of the national health service.

Craig Whittaker (Calder Valley) (Con): My hon. Friend raises a point about charities going off and lobbying. Does he feel that enough safeguards were included in the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014, which was designed specifically to prevent charities from taking non-transparent action?

Kit Malthouse: This is a difficult area. Some charities are composed in such a way that their entire purpose is a social mission. For War On Want or the Child Poverty Action Group, for example, decisions made by politicians are intrinsic to their objectives. Other charities, including some in the health sector, are more about providing funds and ancillary support to hospitals, and that kind of political campaigning is not intrinsic. I am not knowledgeable about the 2014 Act, but since my hon. Friend has raised it I will go and have a look. He may well be right to suggest that it contains enough protections, but I maintain my point that the special status of these charities, and the fact that they raise their money because of their association with the NHS, means that the Secretary of State must maintain some kind of toe-hold. To set those charities completely free is asking for political disaster at some point in the future.

The second part of amendment 2 would mean that if all trustee positions were vacant for three months, the Secretary of State could—and indeed should—appoint some new trustees to kick-start the organisation. That obviously will not happen often, but much of the business of this House involves planning for the unexpected. If a charity were for some awful reason to lose all its trustees at once—perhaps they are all off on a fact-finding mission together and there is a horrible accident; who knows what may happen, but let us pray to God that it does not—the Secretary of State will have the power to appoint people.

Seema Kennedy: I apologise to the House for being repetitive, but my hon. Friend has a vision of doom for the trustees and others. I once applied to be a trustee of

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Great Ormond Street hospital, and there were hundreds of applications. Those places are filled, and the amendment provides for a situation that does not seem to have any basis in fact.

Kit Malthouse: I apologise if that is a vision of doom, but much of our life in this House involves dealing with the stream of human misery that comes through our letterbox daily. We have urgent questions and statements on all manner of horrific events here and overseas, and much of our legislation is to plan for the unexpected, which seems sensible. Much of our legislation dates back many hundreds of years, and I hope that this Bill will last for a similar period. Who knows whether there will be trustee vacancies in the generations to come. I hope not, but if there are, it would be sensible for the Secretary of State to appoint someone. At the moment, there is nobody else to do it.

Jeremy Quin: In these hopefully extremely unusual circumstances, does my hon. Friend envisage that, once again, the process could drag through both Houses? If a charity tragically loses all its trustees, are we expected to go through the full rigmarole of full parliamentary scrutiny? That seems strange.

Kit Malthouse: I do not think that I have attached that requirement to this straight appointment. If there are no trustees, who objects to the Secretary of State making those appointments? Can anyone think of anybody better? I certainly cannot. Possibly the chief executive of the hospital, but given that they are probably appointed under the influence of the Health Secretary, why not allow the Health Secretary to do it?

Tom Tugendhat (Tonbridge and Malling) (Con): My hon. Friend is generous in allowing interventions. Barely 150 years ago we abandoned press-ganging for the Royal Navy, yet we are now reintroducing it for the charitable sector. It strikes me as odd not to “encourage” the Secretary of State or chief executive to recruit more trustees, but rather to force them to do so. As my hon. Friend rightly said, trustees are volunteers who step forward and step up for the community. They do something that is above and beyond their social duty every day, and we should encourage them in that. He is right to place such an important weight on that, but I question the legislative requirement of making the Secretary of State able to make those appointments. He seems to be asking not for the Secretary of State to be able to ratify a volunteer, but rather for them to go out and call somebody in from the fields, factories and cities and tell them to take up that position. That is slightly losing the focus. If the Secretary of State is not required to do that, all we need is for people to have the opportunity to volunteer, in which case the chief executive or Secretary of State can merely advertise the post.

Kit Malthouse: That is exactly what I am proposing. If there are no trustees for three months, the Secretary of State will have the power to appoint someone. They could run an advert, or decide to press-gang somebody if they want—they can choose their own method. The point is that somebody has to do it.

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An interesting technical point that Members who belong to Conservative associations may know is that if an association runs out of trustees its members can appoint a new trustee in a special general meeting. Great Ormond Street charity has no members. There is no group of people who can appoint a trustee, so if it all falls vacant the thing effectively dies. In my view, the amendment is very sensible and I am amazed it is causing such controversy. This very sensible amendment would allow the Secretary of State to appoint one or more trustees to get the thing going again.

11.30 am

Craig Whittaker: I need to challenge my hon. Friend on the assumption of “Who else better than the Secretary of State?” Of course, our current Secretary of State is a very highly esteemed colleague of great standing—I do not question that at all. What I question is the previous string of people who have appointed politically biased appointees to various quangos around the country. Surely he can see that a Secretary of State would have the potential to be not the best person to make the decision?

Kit Malthouse: My hon. Friend will make a great diplomat when the time comes. I agree there is the possibility of misbehaviour by politicians, but we politicians come with a great advantage. We have had a few thousand people vote for us and those few thousand people can vote us out if they think we have behaved badly. There are not many other people in public life who come with that brake on their behaviour.

Kevin Foster: I will make this my last intervention. My hon. Friend has been very generous. With the provisions in the Bill I was expecting today to go off on a trip to Neverland. Instead, with all the death, doom and disaster in this speech I feel we are in an episode of “Eastenders.” Does he not agree that there is a very large area of charity regulation to deal with things going wrong and difficulties emerging? Charities will still be subject to that. Merely allowing the Secretary of State to appoint the odd trustee will not deal with any systemic problems. That is what the wider area of regulation is there for.

Kit Malthouse: Many years ago, my mother and father went on a camping trip in Europe. On their first night, they pulled in, in their Thames van, to what they thought was a campsite. In the dark, my father attempted to pitch the tent. Every time he tried to hammer a tent peg into the ground it went “Ping!” and disappeared off into the darkness. Only in the morning did he realise he had been trying to hammer the tent pegs into a concrete tennis court. That is how I feel this morning.

I have tried to explain many times now that these charities are different. They come with a badge upon them that says to the public they are partially in the public sector. Secretaries of State will always have an eye to their conduct, because what they do will impact politically and financially on the national health service and on whichever party happens to be running it at the time. I realise that, in the eyes of the sponsors, I might be pushing water uphill. Most people know I am a

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relatively optimistic person and I am hesitant to put these pessimistic circumstances to the House; nevertheless, someone has to do it.

I will move on now, finally, to other amendments. Amendment 9, in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for North East Somerset, seems eminently sensible and reflects exactly the point I have been making about the special connection. In these days of the internet, it is quite easy to download the NHS logo from any hospital website, affix it to a piece of paper and fire it off to raise money. I am sure it has, on occasion, been used fraudulently to raise money. I therefore completely support his wish to have some kind of control over the use of the logo, the name and the brand.

Giving that power to the Secretary of State seems eminently sensible to me, not least because these charities maintain most of their fundraising ability through their connection with the NHS. The leverage is extremely powerful and very useful. Many will raise millions and millions of pounds off the back of their connection with the NHS and they should be encouraged to do so. The judicious use of the brand, the logo and the name is absolutely to be supported, but it needs to be done in a relatively nimble way. The only way I can think to do that is via the permission of the Secretary of State, so I support the amendment.

Unfortunate amendment 4 deals with consultation. As I said in my intervention earlier, during my career in local and city politics consultation became the bane of my life, and of my residents’ lives. We all knew, when we participated in a consultation, that the decision had broadly been taken already and that the politician or Department in question was largely going through the motions to make sure they were not judicially reviewed or challenged.

Of course, the notion of consultation was promulgated by the Blair Government. It is a characteristic of our managerial, technocratic politics. Where we have a House filled with conviction politicians who know what they believe, and that what they believe is right for the country, they do not need to go out and consult. They consult once every four or five years through general elections and display the philosophical sheet-anchor that sits underneath every decision they make. However, when politicians drift from their basic principles into unknown waters, they feel a bit uncertain. They feel a need to consult, to be told what to do and to get a feel. That is what politicians do these days: they have focus groups and polls. They consult constantly about their image and what they should and should not do.

I would therefore like to play a small part in doing our bit to rein back the amount of consultation. We could get to a situation where this House becomes redundant. With the advent of technology, the thing that naturally follows consultation is permanent referendums where everybody can vote from their desks, and we do not need to have a House that discusses and debates from points of experience and different aspects. I therefore firmly oppose the amendment.

Michael Tomlinson: Is my hon. Friend not being, once again, overly pessimistic this morning? Does he not recognise the benefits of public consultation, such as the very one that produced this Bill?

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Kit Malthouse: No, I am not being pessimistic. I am, I hope, exhorting a message of confidence and optimism that we as politicians should have some sense of belief in what we do. We take our chances—sadly, only once every five years now, rather than once every random number of years—and have confidence. Like my hon. Friend, I want to be a champion for the power and the outlook of this House, so that we do not have to go out and consult constantly, that we are based in a philosophy of which we are sure, and that people understand why our decisions are made given what they have seen of that philosophy.

Mrs Sheryll Murray: My hon. Friend mentions his experience in previous roles of engaging in unnecessary and lengthy consultation procedures. How much of a financial burden does he feel they have been on the taxpayer?

Kit Malthouse: I cannot give my hon. Friend an exact figure, but it is enormous. Many, many hundreds of millions, if not billions, have been spent on consultation where, broadly, minds were made up beforehand. I well remember, back in 2002, the then Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, consulting on bringing in the congestion charge. He, of course, had already made the decision. In fact, during the consultation the gantries to put the cameras in were already going up. Of course, the response from the public came back overwhelmingly against—nobody wanted it. We could all see the disaster it would be, not least because it was not a congestion charge but a tax on central London. He just shoved it in anyway.

I led the judicial review against the congestion charge in the High Court and sadly failed. The only chink in the armour we could find was the environmental audit, which was useful to me then but is a vehicle that Ministers and other politicians go through to tick the box. We find ourselves, as a country, in this enormous box-ticking exercise. So uncertain are we of what we should and should not do, and so wary are we of the vagaries of public opinion and fashion, that we feel the need to consult constantly.

The wider point is that it communicates to the public an uncertainty about political institutions and therefore undermines respect for them. When people talk about the politicians they respect, they always talk about—even though they did not agree with him—the great Labour Member, Tony Benn. Tony Benn always used to say, “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” I do not think Tony Benn ever consulted about anything in his entire life. He had his beliefs pretty much set at an early age and he delivered them. Everybody knew where he stood. Our former great leader, Margaret Thatcher, was exactly the same. A lack of consultation with her party colleagues might have done for her in the end, but consultation on the broad thrust of policy was anathema to her. She displayed and promoted what she believed. On that note, I commend my amendments to the House.

Several hon. Members rose

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): Order. I did not want to interrupt the excellent flow of the hon. Gentleman’s argument, but, for the sake of clarity and the avoidance of doubt, and because he referred to the numbering and order of amendments—he has not said

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anything wrong; I wish merely to educate the House—I wish to explain that the order in which amendments are numbered is that in which they are received in the Public Bill Office, but the order in which they appear on the amendment paper is that in which they relate to the Bill. It is actually very logical, but if one does not know why, it sometimes is not obvious.

Wendy Morton: As the Bill’s promoter, I rise to contribute to its Report stage.

We have listened to some interesting amendments from hon. Members, for whose submissions and contributions I am grateful, as they have enabled us to discuss, probe and question the Bill further, which is really important. It is worth reminding ourselves that, as of March 2015, there were about 206 NHS charities, with a combined income of £327 million. They do a terrific job and make a huge contribution to many patients, hospitals and NHS staff. Everyone will agree that the vast majority of them, like all charities, do fantastic work and that only occasionally does something go wrong. Sadly when it does, as has been said today, it always makes the headlines.

The vast majority of NHS charities use the corporate trustee model, whereby the Secretary of State does not appoint the trustees.

Pauline Latham: I do not know whether my hon. Friend plans to mention the special care baby unit at Royal Derby hospital, but it has existed for more than 50 years and raises millions of pounds to help those special babies who are born prematurely and need extra help. Does she agree that all the charities that support NHS hospitals do incredibly valuable work?

Wendy Morton: I agree wholeheartedly, and I am grateful to my hon. Friend for sharing with us the example of a hospital charity in her constituency and the fantastic work it does.

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Dorset and North Poole (Michael Tomlinson) for his amendment that would oblige the Secretary of State to carry out public consultation before making regulations consequential to the removal of his power to appoint trustees to NHS bodies. I understand where he is coming from. In my time as a councillor, many were the days when we discussed the pros and cons of public consultation. On the one hand, we often want more public consultation, but there are times when, as my hon. Friend the Member for North West Hampshire (Kit Malthouse) said, we feel it leads nowhere. It is an interesting point, though, and one that has provoked some lively debate. We, as elected representatives, often ask these questions about public consultation.

Craig Whittaker: I am reminded of my family’s frequent trips to Disneyland Paris when my three children were much younger. Their favourite ride was the Peter Pan ride. They played a game to see who could first spot Wendy quivering on the end of the gangplank as Captain Hook chased her into the sea. Does my hon. Friend think that Wendy might be quivering that little bit harder at the thought of yet more public consultation?

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11.45 am

Wendy Morton: Absolutely. I hope not to be pushed out to sea either, but that remains to be seen. I sincerely believe, however, that the Bill has a lot of support, as I will mention later on Third Reading.

Michael Tomlinson: Does my hon. Friend not recognise the central thrust of my argument—that the Bill itself was the product of public consultation? All those doom-mongers who have spoken against public consultation fail to see that such consultation has produced some good—namely, her own Bill.

Wendy Morton: My hon. Friend is correct that my Bill is the result of public consultation, as I will expand upon later.

Schedule 1 already makes a range of amendments to primary legislation consequential to the removal of the Secretary of State’s powers in England to appoint trustees to NHS bodies and to appoint special trustees, and it would be unusual to consult the public on regulations making such consequential changes. Proper scrutiny of such consequential amendments would be undertaken by Parliament. That is the main reason I do not support his amendment even though it is a valid discussion point.

I will move now to those amendments that relate to the appointment of trustees. My hon. Friend the Member for North West Hampshire has clearly given a lot of thought to my Bill and introduced some very worthy and interesting amendments. I wish to make it clear, however, that I do not wish to swap the letterbox of Aldridge-Brownhills for that of North West Hampshire, given the apparent tone of much of the mail that he receives, and neither would I wish to go camping with his family—the thought of my sleeping bag being laid on concrete does not appeal. I would prefer something more comfortable. Even a field would be preferable—ideally undercover.

The removal of the Secretary of State’s powers to appoint trustees is central to my Bill. Having him appoint trustees makes it difficult for these NHS bodies to demonstrate visible independence from Government in the eyes of potential donors. That cuts to the heart of my Bill. Having read and considered the amendments carefully, and having listened to this debate, I struggle to see how they would work on a technical level. The current power is to appoint trustees to particular NHS bodies or to appoint special trustees, not, as the amendments suggest, to appoint trustees to NHS charitable trusts. They therefore seek to re-establish a power that does not currently exist in such a form. I know that the Bill at times gets very technical, but we have to keep coming back to what it sets out to do and the consultation it came from. Similarly, the amendments seeking to retain the Secretary of State’s power to appoint trustees in particular circumstances, when there is a commitment to remove them, are not appropriate.

Before I talk further about amendments relating to trustees, it is important to remind ourselves of the background to clause 1, which I have alluded to before. The Bill concerns the removal of the Secretary of State’s powers to appoint. Since 1973, the Secretary of State has had powers to appoint so-called special trustees to manage charitable property on behalf of hospital boards.

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In 1990, powers for the Secretary of State to appoint trustees in relation to NHS trusts were enacted, and have since been extended to other NHS bodies. These powers are now set out in the National Health Service Act 2006, as amended.

My private Member’s Bill fulfils a commitment made by the Government subsequent to the Department of Health review and consultation—there is that word again—in 2012, which covered the governance of NHS charities. As a result, NHS charities will be allowed to convert to independence and the Secretary of State’s powers to appoint trustees will be removed at the earliest opportunity. That is what my Bill is designed to achieve.

Mrs Sheryll Murray: In the light of what my hon. Friend has said, are not some of the amendments completely unnecessary, because consultation has already taken place? Is that correct?

Wendy Morton: Absolutely. As I am explaining, the amendments, worthy of consideration though they be, are not necessary in the light of the research I have done, and they would fundamentally change the objectives of the Bill.

The amendment to make

“provision for one trustee to be appointed by the NHS institution…for whose benefit the charitable trust exists”

is an interesting one, but again I do not believe it necessary. Under the new independent charity model there can be a “blend of trustees”, meaning there can be a link to the hospital—on the proviso that the NHS members remain in the minority. That is important. When we are seeking to move away from Secretary of State appointments to a more independence model for special charities, it is the word “independence” that is crucial. These charities are seeking to be independent of Government for fundraising and many other purposes.

Kevin Foster: My hon. Friend may be aware that the Public Accounts Committee recently considered a report on the sustainability of NHS trusts, many of which are in deficit. Does she agree that if they had a right to appoint a trustee, it could reinforce in the public’s mind that these charities are about back-filling money into the NHS that could or should be provided by the Government rather than being independent charities providing extra money to what is provided by the Government and the public sector?

Wendy Morton: My hon. Friend raises an interesting point. The key point of my private Member’s Bill is to enable this group of charities to achieve what they said they wanted in the consultation, which is a shift away from the Secretary of State’s powers to appoint so that they can demonstrate independence. The charity world has moved on so much since charities were first created, and the model of governance needs to change in the same way.

What makes this particularly interesting is that previous rules surrounding the appointment of individual trustees were restricted to one linked person only. In any case, I believe that the new arrangements in the Bill—not the amendments—are far better and far more beneficial because this “blend of trustees” helps further to help

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and enhance communications and understanding by both the charity and the trust. Surely that can only be a good thing.

If I may, as the Member in charge of the Bill, I would like to touch on amendment 9, which deals with the use of the NHS logo and was tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for North East Somerset (Mr Rees-Mogg). I shall not make too many references to fashion. Although I could make many a link between logos—and, indeed, brands—and fashion, I shall leave Members to draw their own conclusions about the fashion, style or otherwise of my hon. Friend. To be fair, he raised the issue of the NHS logo on Second Reading, so it is only right for him to bring it forward today as an amendment for consideration. I bow, if not to his fashion sense, to the grace and eloquence of his style in speaking to his amendment today. Perhaps we could share some lessons.

The term “logo” can be defined as a symbol or other small design adopted by an organisation to identify its products, uniforms, vehicles or perhaps a company or organisation. It is often uniquely designed for ready recognition, and I think the NHS logo fits that definition. It is instantly recognisable, and the public know exactly what it is all about. However, I cannot support the amendment because I believe it is a matter best explored through the Department of Health or perhaps through the memorandum of understanding, which is part of the move to independent charity status. It should not become part of this Bill.

At risk of sounding—hopefully not appearing—more like Hook than Wendy Darling, I will bring my comments to a conclusion by simply saying that although we have explored worthwhile amendments this morning and raised some important points, I shall not support any of those amendments.

Maggie Throup: I am delighted to speak in support of this important Bill on Report and congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Wendy Morton) on leading it through the complexities of the House. In the time available—I shall keep my contribution short because I realise how long it has taken us to get this far this morning—I shall speak specifically against amendment 2. If accepted, it would give the Secretary of State the power to introduce secondary legislation to re-establish his or her right to appoint trustees to NHS charities.

Charitable giving is one of the cornerstones of our society, with the Charities Aid Foundation estimating that in 2014 alone £10.6 billion was donated by the British public to a variety of good causes. Indeed, we are the home of some of the world’s greatest charitable fundraisers such as Children in Need, Comic Relief, Sport Relief, and not forgetting, of course, Live Aid.

One clear message that came out of the 2014 consultation on the governance of NHS charities was that potential donors felt put off by the perceived lack of independence of the charities from the Government. One of the Bill’s fundamental principles that seeks to rectify this perception —one that I wholeheartedly support—is the removal of the right of the Secretary of State to appoint trustees to particular NHS bodies or to appoint special trustees.

The Bill is designed to give more autonomy to NHS charities to appoint their own trustees and bring them into line with most of the rest of the charitable sector, in

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which that is already common practice. As well as removing the perception that the charities lack independence from Governments, such a move would enable them to adopt different legal forms specific to their needs, particularly those offering limited liability. It would remove the barriers of dual regulation under both NHS and charity legislation, which currently make it difficult for NHS charities to achieve and demonstrate true independence.

Seema Kennedy: My hon. Friend is making a very good point. Members may have seen a report in today’s Times about trusted professions. Apparently doctors are trusted by 89% of the population, but Ministers—not politicians as a whole—are trusted by only 22%, although I am sure that that does not apply to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State. Surely vesting independence in these charities independently and drawing them away from Governments will only enhance their local reputation.

Maggie Throup: I entirely agree. That is exactly why I feel that they need to be independent from Secretaries of State and Governments. I must read the whole of that article: it sounds extremely interesting. We must think about how we can improve our image in the public domain.

12 noon

I understand the need for safeguarding measures, which I believe amendment number 2 genuinely seeks to introduce, but although the amendment is well intentioned, I feel that it is unnecessary and inappropriate in this case. In the past, sadly, there have been instances in which trustees have clearly not acted in the interests of the charities that they purported to represent. We have already had too much doom and gloom this morning, so I will not go into any more detail, but that has only served to damage the reputation of charities and disrupt the great work that the majority of them do in and for our society. However, I believe that the issue has been addressed to a great extent by the Government’s own Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill, whose remaining stages will be debated in the House next week, and which seeks to implement new safeguarding measures that include giving the Charity Commission the power to remove trustees who have acted in an inappropriate or negligent manner.

Furthermore, I believe that the amendment would have an undue impact on the process of making all NHS charities with appointed trustees independent, or returning them to a corporate model. By reintroducing the role of the Secretary of State, we would give the impression that where that process had not taken place the status quo was adequate, which contradicts what was said by NHS charities during the consultation that was conducted during the last Parliament. I therefore cannot support amendment 2, and must politely ask my hon. Friend the Member for North West Hampshire (Kit Malthouse) to consider not pressing.

Kevin Foster: I am conscious of the time, so I shall be careful not to be either repetitive or irrelevant, and to confine my remarks to the amendments. I should make clear at the outset that, while I respect the points of

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passion—and fashion—that have been made in support of them, I do not think that any of them would enhance the Bill.

Amendment 4 deals with public consultation. We surely do not want to ask people to comment on a matter that has already been decided, or in circumstances in which a response to a consultation will not make any real difference to the outcome—other than, as was pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for South East Cornwall (Mrs Murray), potentially helping to take funds away from either the charity and its objectives or the Department of Health, which is paying for the consultation.

As several Members said, nothing is more likely to build public cynicism about politics than the idea that people have been asked to comment on something and their comments will then be virtually ignored. I can think of an example in local government. A council wanted to reduce free weekend parking, because that had been a manifesto commitment and the council had been returned with a majority. However, it then had to engage in a legal public consultation to find out whether motorists objected to the idea of free parking at the weekend, as opposed to the idea of paying for it. That was an absolute nonsense. Several thousand pounds were wasted on advertising in the local press with public notices, and, funnily enough, no motorist wrote in saying, “Do you know what, I would actually like to pay two quid next time I park.”

We should not introduce measures that will engender cynicism. We should not say that a measure has been decided on and announced, but will be subject to a consultation; nor should we provide for a consultation on a matter that is highly technical, and with which very few people will be able to engage. When I was preparing for the Second Reading debate and for today’s Report stage, I found myself burrowing into a huge amount of detail. I do not see how a consultation would be effective.

Mrs Sheryll Murray: With individual consultations as well, there is no guarantee we are going to reach everyone. I remember when a consultation was entered into on whether Cornwall should have a unitary council, and the company used admitted in the end that it had not reached all the households concerned, so a lot of people were missed. This is one of the downsides of consulting on individual things.

Kevin Foster: My hon. Friend makes excellent points about the difficulties in reaching everyone. In the consultation that created Cornwall Council, there was a major discussion to be had on, I believe, six district councils and one county council being merged into one. There was significant media coverage on, for instance, BBC “Spotlight” and BBC Radio Cornwall, but still, even after all that, some people will have said, “I didn’t know the consultation was going on,” or “I didn’t know exactly what the nature of the consultation was.”

I sat through discussions about future local government structures, including referendums on an elected mayor, during my time in the midlands. People could, I think, engage with some things—for example, planning decisions or social services decisions—but in terms of how a local charity board is structured at the local hospital, and who can make appointments, how they are structured

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and the process gone through to make them, I cannot see many people saying, “I want to go out to talk about that on a Tuesday night in mid-February.”

If we are having consultations, they should be meaningful. On the question of what is “appropriate”, we should be asking what the appropriate stage is of decision making for each item. As I have argued in the Chamber before, on major constitutional change—the voting system for this House, for instance, or whether we abolish, or significantly change, the other place—we would probably at least need a manifesto commitment, and without that people should be directly asked for their consent to make that change. In terms of the fundamental constitution, it should have the direct consent of the people, therefore. At the other end of the spectrum, however, none of us would argue that the things that this House deals with through secondary legislation would be appropriate subjects for public referendums.

We should ask what the appropriate process is, and in this case the appropriate level of consultation would more be along these lines: “Yes, the charities should talk to each other and, yes, they should go through the normal process to appoint trustees by speaking to their members, but they do not necessarily have to host a public meeting to discuss that.” If this amendment were passed, there would be the nonsense that these particular charities would be required to go through a public consultation, yet the vast majority of charities in this country, who are regulated under the normal method for charities, would not have to do so. I recognise the intention of my hon. Friends the Members for Erewash (Maggie Throup) and for Mid Dorset and North Poole (Michael Tomlinson) in wanting people to be able to engage with the NHS and its services, but this amendment is not the right way of going about it.

On amendments 1, 3 and 2, tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for North West Hampshire (Kit Malthouse), I found the level of doom and disaster that was presented as possibly affecting these particular NHS charities quite interesting. If anyone listening is thinking of becoming a trustee, they might be slightly put off from doing so when they hear all the things that could possibly happen to them as a member of the board of trustees of one of these charities. I am not at all convinced that we need special provision in this Bill for these charities, rather than the wealth of charitable legislation that we already have, including a Bill currently before this House to change that legislation.

I do not think these amendments would tackle the issues, and worst of all they still give the idea that the Secretary of State is in control of a charity. As I said on Second Reading, at the heart of this Bill is independence. It is about these charities not being seen as an arm’s length part of the Department of Health—not being seen as government by the back door.

Wendy Morton: Does my hon. Friend therefore agree that these amendments on trustees, which seek to re-establish the powers that my Bill wishes to remove, represent a regressive step, rather than the progressive step the Bill seeks to deliver?