On 26th February 2016 the House of Lords debated at Second Reading the NHS (Charitable Trusts Etc) Bill – a Private Member’s Bill from Baroness Massey of Darwen. The Bill’s provisions include securing continuation of funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital from the royalties of JM Barrie (the author of Peter Pan). The Bishop of Bristol supported the Bill.
The Lord Bishop of Bristol: My Lords, I am grateful for this opportunity to speak in the gap. For reasons I do not fully understand, my name was missed off the list. I am pleased to stand on behalf of these Benches to say how warmly we support the Bill. I also congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Massey, on her introduction of the Bill, and her ability to take some of the detail of the legislation and, to quote Garrison Keillor, put the hay where the goats can get it. I am most grateful to her for that.
I also thank the noble Lord, Lord Bird, for his remarkable, spontaneous, interesting and engaging maiden speech. I wonder quite what volume he might muster when his throat recovers.
As I said, I am glad to speak in favour of the Bill. I am in favour both of the principle behind it and of its practical application, as many in your Lordships’ House have said, in relation to Great Ormond Street Hospital, which is a remarkable hospital. These charities—260 of them, I believe—have been of huge significance in the NHS in helping to raise funds for research and for other things. I support the principle of giving those charities that wish it the ability to avail themselves of the provision to release themselves from the oversight of the Secretary of State so that they might grow their work.
The particular issue is the Barrie legacy to Great Ormond Street Hospital. We may not all be famous authors, industrialists or entrepreneurs, but I believe that we can all play our part in getting behind the Bill and supporting its important provisions. I was interested to read that Great Ormond Street Hospital opened in 1852 with 10 beds and a nursing complement of one. This is remarkable, given that in 1845, if my memory is correct, of the 2,400 in-patients in hospitals, only 26 were children, despite the fact that overall deaths in London that year were 50,000, with 20,000-odd being children. Great Ormond Street has not just been excellent in care, hope and research but has played its part in the advocacy of the rights of children.
Many noble Lords will recall in Barrie’s wonderful children’s novel that Peter explains to Wendy that the Lost Boys are lost as they have no one to tell them stories and that they will never grow up because they will not have any stories to hand on. Today, we have an important opportunity to get behind the Bill and make sure that the great, ongoing story of National Health Service trusts, in particular Great Ormond Street, continues. I hope that your Lordships will feel able to support this wonderful piece of legislation.