§ 5. Mr. Freeman
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the operation to date of the voluntary projects programme.
§ Mr. Peter Bottomley
I have been very encouraged by the achievements of the voluntary projects programme, which, in the course of this year, will be providing some 55,000 unemployed people with the opportunity of constructive activity. The Government announced in November that the programme was to be extended for a further three years.
§ Mr. Freeman
Is my hon. Friend aware that this popular and important programme helps two projects in my constituency, one of which, Furniture Turnaround, certainly helps the poor and the unemployed? Will my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State argue with the Treasury for funding all such future programmes on a longer term albeit declining, basis, so that the voluntary societies can make plans with greater certainty?
§ Mr. Bottomley
My hon. Friend's encouragement and support are most welcome. However, if initial funding is given, with the possibility of extension, it is possible to see whether the projects are worth supporting in the future. Many projects are in their second or third year of funding.
§ Mr. Meadowcroft
Is the Minister aware that his hon. Friend the Minister of State was generous enough to visit my constituency to view the CATS project in Bramley? Is the hon. Gentleman prepared to step outside the narrow limitations on the number of VPP places available in any one city, in order to assist an especially large project, such as that one, which is in need of help?
§ Mr. Bottomley
We are always interested in views that are put forward. The extension of the programme for three years gives greater support than there would have otherwise have been. The hon. Gentleman's comments will be noted.