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Welfare To Work

Volume 300: debated on Wednesday 12 November 1997

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What assessment she has made of the potential for the Government's welfare to work proposals to benefit the overseas aid programme. [14107]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development
(Mr. George Foulkes)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising the issue, but as the schemes are designed to help young people available for work in the UK they cannot be used to support work overseas. However, we are contacting the relevant development organisations to draw their attention to the proposals and to suggest that they examine the scope for participating in the scheme at their headquarters in Britain.

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Is it not exciting that Labour's new deal for young unemployed people may lead to more young Britons helping, albeit in this country, to eradicate poverty and suffering in other parts of the world? Is it not pleasing, too, that that answer shows that the Government are capable of working corporately to meet important policy objectives? Does he think that such success might lead to a wider appreciation of and concern for suffering in less fortunate parts of the world?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Such involvement would be doubly valuable in that it would help young people and the work of organisations such as Voluntary Service Overseas and Oxfam. I understand from the Department for Education and Employment that those organisations have not yet shown an interest, but we are encouraging them to do so, and I hope that from today they will take up such schemes.