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Volume 456: debated on Wednesday 31 January 2007

Since 2002 the Government have set a target to increase levels of volunteering, including most recently to increase substantively levels of volunteering by communities at particular risk of marginalisation. In the financial year beginning April 2007 more than £64 million will be invested by the Government in volunteering programmes in England. That is up from £5.3 million in 1997.

I am sure my right hon. Friend will be interested to hear about the work of Swansea Council for Voluntary Service’s development project for 14 to 19-year-olds. The projects raises awareness about volunteering for young people and provides new opportunities for them, which is much appreciated by the people they work with. Will she join me in congratulating SCVS on its work and ensure that volunteering continues to receive Government funding?

I am happy to welcome the reports from Swansea that the local authority there is working hard to improve opportunities for volunteering. That is happening across the country. I welcome local government’s recognition that encouraging young people in particular to volunteer is an important way for them to improve their self-esteem, engage effectively with other people, and build skills and confidence that will serve them well in years to come.

What steps is the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster taking in the farms, communities and lands for which she is specifically responsible in the north of England to promote volunteering?

The Duchy is of course involved in the entire programme and has available to it all the programmes that the Government have initiated. I shall certainly look at that as I go around many of the farms and so on. The volunteering for all programme is designed to encourage everyone, especially those who have been in areas of social exclusion and marginalisation. I am not sure that that would apply to all the Duchy tenants, but we are seeking to widen the range of people coming forward. The hon. Gentleman will be pleased to know that over the past two years the number of people volunteering has increased by 2 million. That will no doubt be welcomed across the House.