Oral Answers to Questions — Voluntary Service

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th July 1966.

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Photo of Mr Frank Judd Mr Frank Judd , Portsmouth West 12:00 am, 28th July 1966

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the total financial assistance granted by his Department to organisations sponsoring international community service projects by young people as a practical method of education in international understanding.

Photo of Mr Denis Howell Mr Denis Howell , Birmingham Small Heath

None, Sir. Grants for this kind of activity are already made by the Ministry of Overseas Development. The Department makes grants in respect of "Service by Youth" work in England and Wales.

Photo of Mr Frank Judd Mr Frank Judd , Portsmouth West

Is the Minister aware that in Germany the Government make available £80,000 and in France the Government grant £70,000 towards international work camps of this kind in their own territories? Would our own Government be willing to consider grants of this order?

Photo of Mr Denis Howell Mr Denis Howell , Birmingham Small Heath

I am informed that the amount of money being made available by the Department of Overseas Development and, therefore, by the Government in respect of oversease voluntary work is at the moment running at something in the order of £500,000, which, in view of the fact that the scheme started only recently, I should have thought was eminently satisfactory.

Photo of Mr Reginald Freeson Mr Reginald Freeson , Willesden East

While that is a very welcome figure, will the Minister accept that there is no sharp dividing line between the kind of service provided by young people going abroad and the activities of their own organisation in this country, both with their own young members and introducing foreign youngsters into this country for such work? Will he look at this again?

Photo of Mr Denis Howell Mr Denis Howell , Birmingham Small Heath

I think that this takes us on to the next Question.

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

In view of the Minister's reply to the earlier supplementary question, would he consider making a statement to the House about the progress of schemes, such as the "Study and Serve" scheme, which was approved at the Ottawa Conference two years ago?

Photo of Mr Denis Howell Mr Denis Howell , Birmingham Small Heath

I will certainly consider that.

Photo of Mr Frank Judd Mr Frank Judd , Portsmouth West

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what action he proposes to take in response to the Bessey Committee report on voluntary service by young people in Great Britain; and in this respect what action he has taken to consult officially the organisations at the national and local level involved in this work.

Photo of Mr Denis Howell Mr Denis Howell , Birmingham Small Heath

I would draw my hon. Friend's attention to Circular 15/66 of 2nd June, 1966, of which I am sending him a copy. This says that my right hon. Friend will make a considered statement on the implementation of the report and, before doing so, will take into account the views of interested bodies.

Photo of Mr Frank Judd Mr Frank Judd , Portsmouth West

Is the Minister aware that many of the local and national organisations are very fearful that a heavy, high-powered national structure would kill local initiative, which is the essence of voluntary service and which is desperately needed in the country at this juncture?

Photo of Mr Denis Howell Mr Denis Howell , Birmingham Small Heath

I am very anxious, as soon as we can and as soon as the country can afford it, to get voluntary services going. I am equally anxious to see that it is not bogged down by a hierarchical structure such as my hon. Friend mentions.

Mr. Bob Brown:

Will my hon. Friend give an assurance that he will expedite the implementation of this, and can he say whether International Voluntary Services will be one of the organisations consulted?

Photo of Mr Denis Howell Mr Denis Howell , Birmingham Small Heath

Certainly that organisation will be consulted. I can say that this is something dear to my heart, and, as soon as the possibility exists of extending this service, we shall be happy to do so.