National Citizen Service Bill [Lords]

Part of Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 4:34 pm on 16th January 2017.

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Photo of Alan Haselhurst Alan Haselhurst Conservative, Saffron Walden 4:34 pm, 16th January 2017

I do agree with that. Of course, the adventure part of the NCS is distinct from the ordinary activities in which there could be a safety risk.

It seems to me that the real test to which we should apply our minds is whether the core programme is delivering—whether the numbers going through are continuing to rise. What I have found so encouraging is that those who have graduated, if that is the right word, are increasingly ready to take on a further role, as was mentioned by the hon. Member for Dagenham and Rainham, and come back as mentors, tutors and so on. I had the pleasure of meeting some of them earlier this afternoon, and it is great that they admit their eyes have been opened and their experience deepened and that they are so willing to pass that on. The best recruiters are those people going back to their schools to talk about it among their acquaintances and encourage further participation. If we keep on raising the numbers wanting to go into the NCS, we will do the quality of our social life in this country a great deal of good.

Schools should be encouraged. I heard what the Secretary of State said about the role of HMRC. Yes, that is good, but we need to get to the schools. If I may say so, the fact that only about 150 Members of this House have as yet found the opportunity to meet a group on an NCS project is way below what is needed. I encourage all colleagues to find an opportunity to do it, so that they are well informed from their own impression in their own constituency of what a good project and concept the NCS is.

It is absolutely right that we are conferring royal charter status on the NCS, which will give it a higher profile and make it more obviously a proper organisation in the eyes of anybody who might doubt it. Finally, we should build, with enthusiasm on our part, a movement that already seems to have established firm foundations.