Amendment 38

Part of European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill - Committee (3rd Day) (Continued) – in the House of Lords at 2:30 pm on 16th January 2020.

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Photo of Lord Wigley Lord Wigley Plaid Cymru 2:30 pm, 16th January 2020

My Lords, I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Storey, for missing the first half minute of his speech in rushing into the Chamber for this debate. I am delighted to support the amendment, which is one of the most important that we have before us. I welcome the speech of the noble Baroness, which brought in the whole dimension of multilingualism and our responsibilities towards the wider world, to show that our minds are open in that way.

A good friend of many of ours in Brussels, Hywel Ceri Jones, was one of the instigators of the original Erasmus programme, which, as has been mentioned, has been developed so that it now reaches and is relevant to far more people. It can therefore exert its influence in a much more beneficial way.

Over the period since the referendum, the Government have stressed that we are—sadly—leaving the European Union but not Europe. Having the Erasmus+ programme available sends a signal that we still want our young people to engage with Europe. That is a two-way process: equally, we want to see the Erasmus+ programme enabling young people from European countries to come to the countries of the United Kingdom. This is a very modest amendment, but it sends a very strong signal and I urge the Government to accept it or at least to come back with some statement or amendment of their own that shows that Erasmus+ will certainly be part of our future.