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 The Duke of Somerset The Duke of Somerset Crossbench 2:30 pm, 16th January 2020

My Lords, I too would like to support this amendment. Erasmus has been a most successful EU scheme and benefited 800,000 people in 2017, which seems to be the last year for which statistics are available. It has existed for three decades, benefiting 9 million people in that time. In 2015, the UK received funds of €113 million to implement the scheme.

As we know, it funds students and staff on vocational courses, voluntary work and sports programmes throughout the 28 EU countries. I should declare an interest: one my daughters attended the University of Naples for a year on the scheme and she has gone on to live and work there. In general, the scheme is hugely influential in broadening the education and cultural values of our young, including introducing them to foreign languages, which is not a natural skill for us Britons, as we have heard. When they return home, this knowledge helps them obtain more challenging jobs that benefit our own UK economy. Vice versa, EU students who study here learn to appreciate the British way of life and its values, which they spread back home in a positive manner.

It is hard to overestimate the often life-changing benefits Erasmus has bestowed on those who have participated—from all walks of life, as we have heard. We all gain from this programme and to refuse to commit to trying to continue our participation after IP seems unworthy of this Government and a kick in the teeth for so many aspiring young people.