HC Deb 18 February 1976 vol 905 cc1278-80
33. Mr. Steen

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is his policy towards promoting better relations between young people within the Common Market.

Mr. Ennals

We consider it important that relations among young people in Common Market countries should improve, in a spirit of co-operation and understanding. To this end Her Majesty's Government encourage and actively support exchanges and contacts between British and other European youth.

Mr. Steen

What steps are the Government proposing now that the Heath-Pompidou funds are at an end, the Rippon package is exhausted and the Helsinki Basket has not yet started to be filled? Will the Minister reverse his disastrous policy on reducing grants payable to the British Youth Council and opting out of the European Youth Foundation, which policy, if he continues to pursue it, will result in British youth being splendidly isolated?

Mr. Ennals

I was not quite certain whether the hon. Gentleman said that Rippon was exhausted or that the funds were exhausted. However, I should like to point out that we shall be spending in the financial year 1976–77 a total of £176,000 on youth exchanges with Common Market countries. Certainly the figure for the following financial year is reduced, but not surprisingly so in view of demands for the limitation of public expenditure, coming particularly from the Opposition Benches.

On the proposed EEC youth policy, we have conferred widely with voluntary organisations in this country and we are now considering the Government's position.

Mr. Heffer

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is much better if Governments try not to get youth together artificially but to do as the Liverpool Trades Council did long before there was a Common Market or even discussions about a Common Market—to have an exchange of young trade union workers between West German trade unions and Liverpool workers? Could not this idea be extended to all sections of the working-class movement in Britain?

Mr. Ennals

I am ready to pay my tribute to the Liverpool Trades Council at any available opportunity. I agree with my hon. Friend's view. The more trade unionists can be involved in exchange schemes, the better. A good deal of the money concerned is involved not in Government-sponsored projects but in assisting projects which have been put up by voluntary organisations.

Mr. Speaker

I believe that the Liver-pool Trades Council has brief questions and answers.

Mrs. Bain

Does the Minister agree that one way of improving relations between young people in Europe would be to grant all of them equality of opportunity? In this context will he please study the report called "Euroscot", which is published by the Scottish Standing Conference of Voluntary Youth Organisations and which shows that young Scots are seriously disadvantaged in economic factors as compared with their European counterparts?

Mr. Ennals

I have not seen that report. If the hon. Lady will send me a copy, I shall be glad to see it.