National Citizen Service Bill [Lords]

Part of Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 3:43 pm on 16th January 2017.

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Photo of Karen Bradley Karen Bradley The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport 3:43 pm, 16th January 2017

I agree that the adventure side of the programme is incredibly important—it might mean that some young people get to reach the dizzying heights of being a knight of the realm like my hon. Friend—and represents an opportunity for young people to be away from home and to manage in an outward bounds situation. I met some young people from Liverpool who had camped in the Peak district, just outside my constituency, and they were astonished to discover just how hilly some bits of the country are and how cold they can be at times—although very beautiful, of course.

This short Bill is focused on establishing sound, transparent governance arrangements. It works in conjunction with a royal charter, making it clear that the NCS is above partisan politics. A draft of the charter was published as a Command Paper and laid before the House when the Bill was published. I have published an updated version today, which we will lay before both Houses, that reflects commitments that the Government made in the other place and will accompany the Bill as it goes through this House.

The Bill begins by outlining the royal charter and the functions of the NCS Trust, which will be a new body in a new form that is designed to last. However, we do not want to lose the talent and experience of those who work in the current body, which is also called the NCS Trust, who have overseen the fastest-growing youth movement in this country for 100 years. The Bill makes provision for schemes for the transfer of staff, property rights and liabilities from the current body to the new trust, and allows the Government to fund that trust out of money authorised by Parliament. It also allows the trust to charge participation fees at variable rates to maintain the principle that anyone can afford to take part. At present, the maximum fee is £50, but many participants pay no fee at all. The royal charter requires the trust to ensure equality of access to the NCS.