The Labour shadow minister for civil society has told the government it cannot “ignore underperformance” of the National Citizen Service project ahead of next stage of the bill’s passage through Parliament today.
Yesterday the Public Accounts Committee published a critical report into the NCS Trust, the community interest company set up by the government to deliver the programme, which is set to become a Royal Charter body if the bill passes.
Steve Reed, Labour’s shadow minister for civil society, said that while NCS “provides great opportunities”, the government shouldn’t “ignore underperformance just because David Cameron has a senior role there”.
‘Mustn’t turn a blind eye to failings’
Reed called for more transparency and accountability for the NCS Trust.
He said: “The public need to know that every penny spent by the NCS is better spent by them than on the many other youth activities the Tories have cut. Turning a blind eye to failings at the NCS will just fuel concerns that it is little more than a Tory vanity project.
“The NCS can do great things for young people – but only if the government makes sure it’s run effectively.”
The comments signal a change in tone from the Labour Party, which until now has been broadly supportive of the bill.
Bill in closing stages
The bill is due to have its report stage in the House of Commons – after that there is just the third reading before it receives royal assent.
So far there has been little opposition to the bill during debates in the House of Commons. The Labour Party has been broadly supportive.
Reed said Labour still supports the principle of the NCS and he and others MPs have previously raised concerns about making sure there is proper oversight of the NCS Trust and the amount of money being given to one programme while others have been cut.
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During the committee stage Reed said: “One of the problems with such a consensual bill is that I find myself in the happy position of agreeing with what the government are proposing. I am sorry that the minister has had a lot of talking to do, but we are happy with the bill.”
The committee stage, where a bill is scrutinised line-by-line, lasted just a few hours. The report stage is an opportunity for MPs to consider further amendments and the third reading is a chance to ‘tidy up’ the bill.