HC Deb 17 December 2001 vol 377 cc17-8
11. Phil Hope (Corby)

If he will make a statement on the work of his Department's active community unit. [21154]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Angela Eagle)

The Government want active, confident and self-reliant communities that are in control of their lives and well-being. To achieve that, we need to revitalise communities and build social cohesion so that everybody has a sense of belonging and that their views matter. The active community unit, in co-operation and partnership with Whitehall and the voluntary and community sector, drives that work forward.

Phil Hope

I thank my hon. Friend for her reply and for attending the parliamentary youth hearings that I chaired in the House last month. I draw her attention to the views of those young people, many of whose programmes are funded by the active community unit. They said that they wanted to be involved directly in the decision making of voluntary sector, local government and central Government programmes. Does my hon. Friend agree that involving young people directly in planning and providing those services means that they will be better able to meet young people's needs? Will she promote that principle throughout Government?

Angela Eagle

I agree wholeheartedly with my hon. Friend. The remarkable thing about the hearings that I attended the other day was how committed, focused and talented the young people involved were. The difference that they were making to their communities was also remarkable. Too often we see young people as a problem, but they are our future, and we need to engage them not only in the political process but in the process of building, changing and strengthening their communities. We all gain when they realise that society is made better by their own involvement.