HC Deb 23 February 1965 vol 707 cc214-5
14. Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

asked the Minister of Overseas Development to what extent the receipt of Government subsidy has obliged the Voluntary Overseas Organisation to change its objects and methods.

Mr. Oram

Not at all, so far as I am aware. I certainly would not wish to alter the essentially voluntary basis of the scheme, which I believe greatly appeals to countries receiving volunteers from Britain.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

Has not some of the enthusiasm been dissipated owing to the fact that the original founders have felt obliged to resign because they consider that the movement has become bureaucratised, that the service is being absorbed into the civil administration of the British Council and that the difficult tasks in difficult countries are now disapproved of and frowned upon by the Government?

Mr. Oram

The figures I gave in reply to an earlier Question show that enthusiasm has not by any means abated. The organisation rightly accepted the services of the British Council and I do not think that any of the difficulties to which the hon. and learned Gentleman has referred are really arising.

Sir Knox Cunningham

On a slightly different aspect-will the hon. Gentleman agree that Voluntary Service Overseas is of great value to those giving this service as well as to those at the receiving end?

Mr. Oram

That is certainly true. This is a two-way benefit—to the developing countries themselves and to those who go out there to help and thereby gain useful experience. The hon. Gentleman used the familiar phrase "Voluntary Service Overseas". I point out that that is the name of only one of four organisations all engaged in this valuable work.

Mr. Dalyell

Will my hon. Friend confirm that the enthusiasm of founders such as Alan Dickson remains untarnished?

Mr. Oram

I expect to see Mr. Dickson quite soon. He will get an enthusiastic reception from me and I expect him to reciprocate.