My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Storey, for tabling Amendment 38 and affording me the opportunity to probe the Government’s intentions with regard to excellent Erasmus+ scheme.
As we have heard, the current Erasmus+ scheme has benefited thousands of our young people and given tens of thousands of EU young people the opportunity to spend time in the United Kingdom. Despite previous statements that the UK will consider options for continued participation, the Government may be tempted to make a clean break. That would be a mistake. If we were to leave Erasmus+, current participants would be able to wind up their placements but other young people would be denied the opportunity to study, to work and to volunteer, which has become so commonplace. We on these Benches very much hope that this will not be the case. It would be a huge mistake to walk away from a scheme that has led not just to better employment outcomes but to an increase in the participants’ confidence, independent thinking and cultural awareness.
The Prime Minister has indicated that the UK will seek to continue participating in Erasmus+. As the noble Lord, Lord Storey, and others who have participated in this debate have said, we support the Prime Minister in that position. I hope the Minister can confirm that this is definitely the Government’s intention, as well as outlining what discussions—if any—have already taken place with the EU 27.
If I may abuse my position for just a second, could the Minister also confirm whether any progress has been made on our continued participation in the Horizon research programme, which is similar in many respects?