London, June 11 (MTI) – Human Resources Minister Zoltan Balog discussed the transformation of the social welfare system with British Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith in London and opportunities for cooperation in higher education with Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Angela Constance in Edinburgh.
Balog told MTI by phone late on Wednesday that the transformation of Britain’s labour and social welfare system was progressing in a similar direction as Hungary’s, with services increasingly tied to meeting certain conditions. In Britain social help is only offered if the recipient meets certain conditions that help him or her switch from a passive condition to an active one, Balog said. This approach is similar to Hungarian regulations that tie family benefits to children attending school, he added.
The minister assured Duncan Smith that the Hungarian government understood British plans that oblige EU citizens seeking work in Britain to return home if they are unsuccessful for six months.
During talks with Constance, Balogh asked for Scotland’s support for a new scholarship scheme named after 11th-century queen Saint Margaret of Scotland, who was born in Hungary. The scheme is based on private donations to help Hungarians study in Scotland and Scottish people study in Hungary. The Queen Margaret Legacy Programme was launched last November to offer study possibilities in areas linked to Saint Margaret and her legacy.
Addressing an event at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, Balog highlighted episodes of Hungarian-Scottish cooperation, including Adam Clark, a Scottish engineer who supervised the construction of Budapest’s Chain Bridge in the mid-19th century, the Bethesda Children’s Hospital in Budapest set up with Scottish help, and Scottish Presbyterian nurse Jane Haining, who looked after Jewish children in Budapest. She was arrested by the Nazis and died in the death camp of Auschwitz.
Balog said an estimated nearly 1,000 Hungarians were studying at Scottish universities.