National Citizen Service Bill [Lords]

Part of Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 4:46 pm on 16th January 2017.

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Photo of Dan Jarvis Dan Jarvis Labour, Barnsley Central 4:46 pm, 16th January 2017

I absolutely agree with the hon. Lady. If I might say so, I thought my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon North was slightly unfairly chided for seeking to make the most constructive of contributions to this debate, because there is a consensus across the House that this is a great scheme and that young people benefit enormously from it. The challenge that Government and all of us find is that those who would perhaps benefit the most are, as I have said, the hardest to reach. Opposition Members are offering a constructive critique of the scheme—a scheme that we support and believe in—to ensure that it maximises the benefit for all those who we think would benefit from it.

Prior to the hon. Lady’s most helpful intervention, I was alluding to the incredibly important work done by The Challenge in dedicating personal coaches to support young people with complex needs and ensuring that they have the same opportunities as participants from more affluent backgrounds. For the programme to have integration at its heart, it must be a programme for all and providers must have adequate resource to focus their attention on this work. Although the NCS plays an important role in enabling social mobility, it should not be seen as a ready-made remedy to the problems caused by cuts to other youth services. It must be part of a sector-wide investment strategy.

My life both outside and inside politics has shown me the value of service and active citizenship. The National Citizen Service is a 21st-century manifestation of those values. I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this debate. I look forward to hearing the Minister’s response to the Opposition’s point—which, I think it is fair to say, was made most constructively—about the NCS’s role in facilitating integration and including the hardest-to-reach groups in our society, but most of all I look forward to the programme growing from strength to strength as a result of this Bill and the royal charter.