asked the Secretary for Technical Co-operation, how many meetings have been held by the Council for Volunteers Overseas; when the Council will start offering advice to the voluntary societies and to his Department on the further expansion of this scheme; and whether the Council will be issuing regular reports on their work.
Whilst recognising that the responsibility rests in the hands of the Council, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he is aware that there is the very widest interest in this matter, especially among universities? Will he do his utmost to encourage them to give the widest publicity to their schemes? In connection with the further expansion of voluntary service overseas, is it within the powers of the Council to consider extending this so as to make it a Commonwealth scheme?
Taking the last point first, so far as I know, it is certainly within the powers of the Council—the terms of reference are very wide—to consider and to make suggestions about any point, including the one made by my hon. Friend. I attended the first meeting of the Council and I sensed the great enthusiasm among its members, and I am sure it will take appropriate action in relation to the general public interest in this subject
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that this Council was launched by the Prime Minister himself in this House, with a tremendous fanfare of trumpets, about the sense of urgency which the Government felt about the kind of work which it could do? Are two meetings in 12 months a sign of the sense of urgency which they feel?
In the first place, this is not the Government's Council. It is an independent Council. There is a great sense of urgency among its members, and the House would be wrong—I am sure that the hon. Gentleman realises this—to imagine that its members are promoting its purpose only when they actually sit in Council meetings. The executive work is done by the Lockwood Committee. There is much activity now being undertaken by this new Council, apart from actually attending meetings.