HC Deb 22 May 1979 vol 967 cc859-60
11. Mr. Steen

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is his policy towards the effectiveness of the youth service.

Mr. Macfarlane

My right hon. and learned Friend recognises the important contribution which the youth service makes towards meeting the needs of young people and will continue to support the voluntary youth organisations. I shall be seeing the interested bodies in the near future.

Mr. Steen

Is the Minister aware that, to effect savings, local authorities are cutting grants to the voluntary youth organisations rather than making cuts in their own bureaucracy? Will he look at the London borough of Islington, where the grant to Task Force is threatened to be cut by as much as 25 per cent. this year, although it has worked for the past 14 years in the borough recruiting young people to give community service to old and lonely people?

Mr. Macfarlane

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, whose assiduous care and attention to the details of the youth service over past years is well known in the House. I shall certainly make it my duty to see precisely what the Islington council is doing on this matter. It is very much a matter for local authorities to review each programme. The bodies which exist within the youth service are many and varied. I want to look at this matter closely between now and the end of next month.

Mr. Christopher Price

Has the hon. Gentleman seen the report in The Guardian today to the effect that £48 million is to be cut from the youth opportunities programme? Is he aware that this will cripple the programme, which is meant to provide reasonable employment opportunities for young people? Will he ensure that the Secretary of State will receive a delegation from the National Youth Bureau and the other national youth organisations so that we may point out the damage that this cut will do to young people's employment prospects?

Mr. Macfarlane

The hon. Gentleman should not pay close attention to all that The Guardian writes. I take note of what he said and will convey it to my right hon. and learned Friend. If it is any encouragement to him, I have already had a telephone call this morning from the National Youth Bureau, of which the hon. Gentleman is chairman. Therefore, I am glad to have his comment on it. It is a dual responsibility between the Department of Education and Science and my right hon. Friend at the Department of Employment. We shall be reviewing that aspect with keen enthusiasm.