HC Deb 10 February 1972 vol 830 cc1538-40
15. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what support she will be giving to the young volunteers during the next financial year; and what advice she is giving to local authorities about continuing to give support to groups of young volunteers in their areas.

Mrs. Thatcher

I have offered a grant of approximately £75,000 to the Young Volunteer Force Foundation. A grant of £17,500 has been allocated to the Community Service Volunteers. Applications from other organisations in this field are under consideration. I am most anxious that local authorities should continue to give active support to the voluntary youth organisations in their areas.

Mrs. Short

I thank the right hon. Lady for that reply, but does she not agree that certain local authorities—for example, Wolverhampton, which has allowed only £2,000 this year for young volunteers working in the area—are being far too stingy? Does she not also agree that young people are doing valuable social work and thereby relieving local authorities of much expenditure? Will she not therefore encourage local authorities, or perhaps send out a directive to them asking them to be more generous?

Mrs. Thatcher

I am only too happy to encourage local authorities to spend more on this work. I hope that we have given a lead in putting up the grants to both these organisations.

Dame Irene Ward

Does my right hon. Friend receive reports from local authorities on how the money is spent? If she does not, will she seek them and have them placed in the Library of the House, to enable hon. Members to know how the money is spent?

Mrs. Thatcher

No, I do not have reports on how the money is spent. The P.E.P. is doing a review of the work of many of the voluntary organisations before any increases in grants can be considered. In the meantime, special applications for grants are being met. I fully appreciate the youth work that is being done and I have a great admiration for it.

Mr. Moyle

I pay tribute to the work of the young volunteer service, but does the right hon. Lady recall that the last Government grant to this body was spread over three years to allow it to plan ahead? Will she make a similar arrangement this year and also substantially increase the grant? I think the right hon. Lady will admit that the young volunteers are in considerable demand all over the country and there is a danger that the service may have to cut back its work.

Mrs. Thatcher

I have offered to keep the grant in real terms at its present value for a period of three years. This is the single biggest grant to any youth organisation, and other youth organisations doing work which is just as excellent would like similar increases.