Paul Flynn (Newport West) (Lab): Is the National Citizen Service not heading for that same graveyard of three-word prime ministerial gimmicks like Back to Basics, The Third Way, The Citizens Charter, the Cones Hotline and The Big Society?
Mr Hurd (The Minister of State, Cabinet Office): Not for the first time, I could not disagree more with the hon. Gentleman. NSC is proving its value across communities. Many Opposition Members visited the programme over the summer and Opposition Front Benchers have nice words to say about it. We are determined to embed it in the youth sector and for it to be part of the landscape of programmes that try to help young people achieve their full potential. We are extremely proud of it.
Mr Speaker: The hon. Member for Gloucester (Richard Graham) was gesticulating as though he was training to be an opera singer. I have no idea why, but let us hear from the hon. Gentleman.
Richard Graham (Gloucester) (Con): The gesture was one of frustration and disappointment that some Opposition Members do not seem to understand how valuable the National Citizen Service is. Does my hon. Friend agree that what Gloucestershire college has been doing in my constituency to help people on to this wonderful course, which it is now replicating with a mini course for the new sixth form at the Gloucester academy, is an example of how the NCS can spread into the school curriculum too?
Mr Hurd: I could not agree more, in sharp contrast to my response to the hon. Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn). I look forward to visiting my hon. Friend in Gloucester to see in practice what he is talking about. The NCS is growing fast. We are seeing schools and colleges embrace it precisely because they see the value to their pupils of participating in a programme that helps young people develop the confidence, self-esteem and skills that will be valuable to them in life.
Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish) (Lab): But can the Minister confirm that Serco has cut the funding it makes available to charities under the National Citizen Service? What impact does the Minister think that will have on the charities delivering this important initiative?
Mr Hurd: Serco leads a consortium that includes many large and small charities. It is an important provider. We manage our providers very carefully, and when there are signs of underperformance, we take action to protect the taxpayer. The hon. Gentleman would not know anything about that because he represents a party that over time has not represented the taxpayer sufficiently. In the case of Serco and that consortium, we took action to protect the taxpayer, and I am proud of that.