HC Deb 29 January 1986 vol 90 cc944-5
9. Mr. Maxton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the future of the youth training scheme run by the volunteer centre in the west of Scotland.

Mr. Allan Stewart

Since the decision by the Glasgow volunteer centre to discontinue its participation in the YTS when the two-year scheme begins in April was announced on 15 January, the centre has sought further clarification from the Manpower Services Commission on a number of points — I understand with a view to its possible continued involvement with YTS.

Mr. Maxton

Is the Minister aware that there will be a loss of 213 training places on the scheme and 50 full-time jobs if the volunteer centre is forced to close because of the financing now given by the MSC? That will also apply to many other voluntary organisations throughout Scotland. Will he meet the MSC urgently to ensure that such schemes continue, otherwise there will be a loss of places, which will make nonsense of the Government's promise that every youngster will get a training place?

Mr. Stewart

I am in touch with the MSC on this matter, but I emphasise that the MSC has gone to great lengths to accommodate the current mode B1 providers. In addition to the standard monthly payments and management agents' fee, such providers would get premium funding of £110 per month and transitional funding over the first two years of up to £70 per filled place per month. Naturally I would regret it if the centre withdrew, but my understanding is that out of 15 voluntary organisations currently providing the one-year YTS only four have said that for various reasons they will not participate in the two-year scheme.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

Is the Minister aware that widespread dismay is being caused by the prospect of the cessation of the centre's work in this respect? As this is due to take effect in March, owing to a change in the method of funding, will he at least ensure the postponement of that change so that the matter can be discussed in depth to see whether a satisfactory solution can be found?

Mr. Stewart

I repeat that detailed discussions are continuing. On the general point, the funding arrangements take full account of representations on behalf of voluntary bodies at the youth training board and were agreed by the MSC, which, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, represents a wide range of interests.

Mr. Bill Walker

Is my hon. Friend aware that the problems in Glasgow have also occurred elsewhere? Is he further aware that experience in other areas shows that disabled individuals can be offered training under the schemes and that an approach by my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General for Scotland, the hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Ross) and myself in relation to this problem has met with a very positive response?

Mr. Stewart

My hon. Friend is absolutely right about provision for disabled youngsters. On the point that he and others have raised with me, I can reassure him that there are applications on the Dundee schemes.

Mr. Buchan

Is the Minister aware that more than one third of the people involved in this come from my constituency in Paisley? Is he further aware that the real problem is the alteration in funding, because certain organisations are not in a position to raise, as it were, employer money? Does he accept that this means not only a social loss for the young people, who could not easily adapt to participation in a Government scheme, but the loss of the social work carried out by them, which includes the decoration of 2,000 houses in my constituency, which otherwise could not have taken place?

Mr. Stewart

I know of the hon. Gentleman's constituency concern, as he has written to us about it. I must emphasise, however, that employer placement is an important aspect of the two-year YTS because it provides wholly realistic work experience and enables employers to contribute directly to the cost.