International Development Programme (Support for Youth Volunteering)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 7th May 2014.

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Photo of Margaret Mitchell Margaret Mitchell Conservative

7. To ask the Scottish Government how its international development programme supports young people wanting to carry out voluntary work overseas. (S4O-03192)

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government has committed £9 million per year to its international development fund. Although the fund does not offer direct financial support to young people who want to carry out voluntary work overseas, we provide funding to the Network of International Development Organisations in Scotland and the Scotland Malawi Partnership. The member will be aware of those organisations, which provide information to young people about volunteering opportunities. On 31 March 2014, the Scotland Malawi Partnership hosted a youth congress, which I attended along with 200 young people from across Scotland. The event included information stalls and exhibitions on volunteering in Malawi.

Photo of Margaret Mitchell Margaret Mitchell Conservative

The minister will be aware that the Department for International Development in East Kilbride funds a successful programme for young people to volunteer abroad—the international citizens service—and that approximately 600 people work in the East Kilbride DFID office. Will the minister confirm that such programmes will remain open to Scottish young people if Scotland separates from the rest of the UK and that the 600 people who are employed in the administration of schemes to improve some of the world’s most deprived areas can be assured that their jobs will be safe in an independent Scotland?

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

Yes. When I was at the European and External Relations Committee, I made the point—I have made it various times since then—that the Government has promised continuity of employment for those who are employed in DFID and in other reserved functions here in Scotland.

I find it poor when UK Government ministers use that issue, particularly when they come up to lecture Scotland about not going independent. I know that Margaret Mitchell is not doing that, but I was quite upset by some of the comments of her colleagues Alan Duncan and Justine Greening, in using the poorest people in the world as a political football in the debate. We should be very much above that.

Scotland will have a great contribution to make. Historically, we have made a great contribution to tackling global poverty, so let us continue to do that. As an independent country, we will of course work with DFID, the United States Agency for International Development and anybody from across the world who wants to fight global poverty.