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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.