National Citizen Service Bill [Lords]

Part of Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 4:14 pm on 16th January 2017.

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Photo of Julian Brazier Julian Brazier Conservative, Canterbury 4:14 pm, 16th January 2017

My right hon. Friend, who is an absolute expert on this matter and did so much in this area in his time as a Minister, not just with the National Citizen Service but in the adventure field more widely, anticipates my next sentence. That is why it is crucial that at a time when we are about to start a public consultation on the future of the AALA, which will be conducted by a panel appointed by the HSE, the licensing authority not only survives but has its brief expanded so that it can ask why such centres have been closing over the past few years and, crucially, ask not just whether the practice is safe in the centres but what the quality is of the adventure that is being delivered. It is very easy to make so-called adventure training safe if it is not adventurous, so the authority needs to be able to ask what the character-building quality of the activities is.

I am delighted to say that the HSE has taken the decision to include on the panel one outside member, Ian Lewis, the director of the Campaign for Adventure— one of the patrons of which is, I should mention, another former Prime Minister, Tony Blair. I very much hope that when we have a National Citizen Service whose patrons are headed by one former Prime Minister and the Campaign for Adventure is represented on the panel considering the future of the AALA, that panel will come up with a conclusion that will guarantee a future for the AALA that ensures it can continue to speak independently and expands its brief so that we discover why the centres are closing and get the focus back on the high-quality adventure that is so essential to the future of the National Citizen Service.