§ [FOURTH DAY]
§ Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question[27th October]:
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as follows:
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.
§ Question again proposed.
§ 11.6 a.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Greenwood (Rossendale)
There are in this country over 4,000,000 young men and women between the ages of 15 and 20. They were born in and between 1939 and 1944—years which tell their own story—and have been educated in overcrowded classrooms … In three to five years' time, owing to the bulge in the post-war birthrate, there will be about 1,000,000 more of these ages and there will be more teenagers in the population than at any time since the First World War.These words are taken from "The Younger Generation," the Report of the Youth Commission appointed by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and presided over by Mr. Gerald Gardiner, Q.C. It is to draw attention to some of the problems of these young people that I am opening this debate today on behalf of the Opposition. The Gracious Speech refers to—more effective means of dealing with young offendersand to the Government's intention to improve the youth services. On the first proposal, I shall say very little, because I hope that some of my hon. Friends, and particularly my hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (Mr. A. Brown), will discuss it in greater detail. It is an important problem, and we shall look forward to reading the Bill and debating it when it is before the House.
I believe that we must keep this problem of juvenile delinquency in perspective. There is a disturbing increase in some forms of juvenile crime, 541 but not in all. There is a depressing increase in drunkenness among young people. But the number of offenders, although far too high, is infinitesimal compared with the total of 4 million teen-agers that we have in the country. And when we remember the world in which they were conceived and reared, with its insecurity and its faith in violence, it is remarkable that the number is not larger than it is.
The great majority of our young people are hard-working and sober. They are better educated and more prosperous than their predecessors. They mature physically much earlier, and they have a poise and self-confidence which I find refreshing. They are a generation to whom the bossy paternalism of Oxford proctors and the self-conscious and sometimes patronising efforts of well-meaning people to "improve" them are both equally suspect. I believe that excessive regimentation at school is repugnant to them, and I am sure we need to establish a new relationship between teachers and pupils which is more akin to the relationship between tutors and students.
I said earlier that in three to five years' time there will be another million teen-agers who will need to be found employment. I have heard little from the Government Front Bench during the discussion on the Gracious Speech to lead me to suppose that the Government have any plans for finding the million additional jobs during the next four or five years. But failure to provide those jobs may have a disastrous effect on the fabric of society, and, quite apart from the moral responsibility that we all bear, we cannot risk having a frustrated generation which believes that society has failed it.
The jobs, moreover, cannot be just any jobs. A very high proportion of them must be skilled jobs, especially if we are to keep pace with our industrial rivals. The Carr Committee—and we would all wish to compliment it on its work—saidThe problem is how to ensure that the facilities for training over the next few years are adequate, both in number and in quality, to take advantage of the extra number of young people who will be entering employment during this period.542 That is the problem, but already training facilities are a bottleneck. So far, provision for improving them has been inadequate. Apprenticeship training needs to be encouraged. Young people who have gone into blind-alley occupations ought to have the opportunity at a later stage of obtaining the kind of training which will enable them to acquire a skill or a craft. I hope that the Government will tell us what steps they are taking to this end.
I wish to know also what they are doing about implementing the recommendations of the Gowers Report in respect of the working conditions of young people. I hope they will tell us how they are setting about improving the Youth Employment Service on the lines suggested by the Piercy Committee, by the King George V Jubilee Trust, and by the Select Committee on Estimates.
Now I wish to turn to another aspect of the problem of our young people. Of every 100 young people, about 20 stay at school after the statutory school leaving age. For those 20 there are proper facilities for games and the use of leisure in reasonable surroundings. But for the 80 who leave school at that age the need is the same but the provision of facilities is lamentably inadequate. In some towns there are good youth clubs, and some industrial undertakings provide excellent facilities in the way of playing fields and other amenities. But the national provision we are making is far from adequate.
The 1944 Act, however, which followed the lines of the Ministry's 1939 Circular to local education authorities' establishing the Youth Service, was quite clear as to what had to be done. Section 41 (b), for example, placed upon local education authorities a duty to secure the provision of facilities for further education includingleisure-time occupation, in such organised cultural training and recreative activities as are suited to their requirements for any persons over compulsory school age who are able and willing to profit by the facilities provided for that purpose.Section 53 of the 1944 Act went on to lay a further duty upon local education authorities, which wasto secure that the facilities for primary secondary and further education provided for their area include adequate facilities for recreation and social and physical training …543 In the face of that, what has happened to the Youth Service in the years between 1939 and the present day?
In 1957, a Select Committee of this House investigated the Youth Service, and particularly the Youth Service during the time when the right hon. Gentleman the present Minister of Education was holding the same position. That was in the days when he once told us that he believed in the principle—"Treat them mean and keep them keen." I hope that was a jocular remark the Minister made and that it will not in any way influence the policy he proposes to adopt to the Youth Service in the future.
It is extremely difficult to find out how much money is being spent on the Youth Service. It seems to me extremely probable that we are spending less than we were in 1950. But the Select Committee had great difficulty in finding out exactly how much money was spent. I should like to read paragraph 22 of the Select Committee's Report, in which it stated:Dissatisfaction with the size of the Grants appeared to the Sub-Committee to be part of a general feeling of disappointment and uncertainty pervading the Youth Service as a whole. Those actively concerned in it described the Service as 'stagnating and even declining. Another witness spoke of 'the general depression which has been over the Youth Service for a bit'. It was stated that there is a shortage of full-time leaders and the number has been declining fairly steadily. Moreover, facilities for training leaders are not being fully used and there is a lack of applicants with suitable qualities. Simultaneously, the membership of voluntary organisations has diminished considerably since 1953 in the case of youngsters over fifteen. Premises were described by several witnesses as being often unsatisfactory.In the course of the Committee's investigations, Lord Weeks, the vice-chairman of the Jubilee Trust, having described one of the present Minister's statements as "complete baloney," went on to say that the Ministry of Education was probably the least helpful of Government Departments towards the Youth Service. The Association of Municipal Corporations, in written evidence which it submitted, said:… there has been very little evidence indeed that the Government minded very much whether the Service waxed or waned provided that no more money was spent on it.I think that perhaps the unkindest cut from the point of view of the present 544 Minister was when the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Sir Gilbert Flemming, told the Committee that… amongst the many services which might be further expanded and developed in order that all the possibilities open to an education ministry were fully carried out, the Youth Service is one which it has been definite policy for some time now not to advance.I have no doubt that was an observation which was instrumental in making the Select Committee report that it was… not satisfied that the Ministry of Education is properly exercising its responsibility for the money voted. The impression gained from the enquiry is that the Ministry is little interested in the present state of the Service and apathetic about its future.If the Government are now going to do more than they did, their decision will be welcome, but it is a decision which has come years too late. We want to know today what the references in the Gracious Speech to the Youth Service really mean. How are the youth leaders to be trained? I remember that when we were drawing up the Labour Party's educational policy statement, called "Learning to Live," we did not want to exaggerate the position. We said we believed that less than a thousand full-time trained youth leaders were employed in this country.
That was a considerable over-estimate of the situation. On 5th September of this year, Mr. Walter Stokes, president of the National Association of Local Education Authorities Youth Leaders, wrote a letter to The Times in which he pointed out that at the moment the 146 local education authorties between them directly employ only 227 full-time leaders. Nearly half of this number, to be precise, 101, are in the service of five local education authorities, Essex, Kent, Surrey, East Sussex and Huddersfield. The remaining 126 full-time leaders are dispersed within 39 authorties. And there are 22 county councils and 54 county boroughs not directly employing any full-time youth leaders. We want to know what the Government are proposing to do to remedy that situation.
The Association of Municipal Corporations has reported that prospects and security within the Youth Service are quite inadequate. Does the promise in the Gracious Speech mean that there is to be a national salary scale for youth 545 leaders? Is there to be a proper training scheme on the lines that the Labour Party proposed in its statement on educational policy? Are there to be more generous grants to the Youth Service beyond the rather paltry additional £20,000 which the Ministry awarded to the headquarters of voluntary organisations earlier this year after representations had been made by Lord Pakenham in another place?
Quite clearly, more generous provision for the Youth Service is urgently required. Although it is difficult to find out the exact figure being spent, it seems quite certain that it is less than £4 million a year. That is about half of 1 per cent. of the Ministry's annual budget. It is £1 per head of our teenage population. We have got to spend much more than this, on better buildings, designed for the purpose for which they are used, with better equipment. Otherwise, they will not attract the teen-agers in the numbers that ought to be making use of the Youth Service. Over the last few years we have spent hundreds of millions of pounds on teaching our young people to kill. Now we have to find a fraction of that amount in order to teach them how to live.
We want to know to what plan the Ministry is working. Is there a plan at all? May we know what facilities and what standard of facilities the Minister of Education believes the Youth Service ought to provide? What encouragement is he going to give to local authorities and voluntary organisations to make good the deficiencies which exist at present? Or is the reference in the Gracious Speech just a piece of window dressing to cover up the Ministry's inactivity and inertia until the Albemarle Committee presents its Report? I hope that even if the Minister cannot say any more today, he will at least tell us when he expects the Albemarle Committee to report to him and when the Government's decision will be taken.
There is another aspect of the problem to which I want to turn which is of importance to young people but which is not exclusively a youth problem. It is the need for proper facilities for games and recreation. I wish very strongly to commend to the House the proposals which the Labour Party produced in a 546 document called "Leisure for Living" prepared by a committee consisting of a number of hon. Members of this House and on which my hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg), whose return I greatly welcome, played a notable part. The report of that committee was generally praised in the Press at the expense of the rather slight pamphlet with which the Conservative Central Office sought to anticipate it.
Before the war I was employed in the Ministry of Education upon the work of the National Fitness Council. The last work on which I was engaged when war broke out was the preparation of a survey of recreational facilities throughout the country. Unfortunately, on 3rd September, 1939, that survey came to an end and, as far as T know, has never been revived. It is therefore difficult to know the present extent of the provision of these facilities and the need for additional ones to be provided.
Nevertheless, I believe that certain facts are irrefutable. In very few parts of the country do we achieve the standard of playing fields provision laid down by the National Playing Fields Association. I believe, too, that there is a desperate shortage of running tracks compared with the position in countries like Sweden and Finland. There is a complete lack of physical recreation centres of the kind provided in great cities overseas and of which we are proposing to built one in this country at the Crystal Palace.
Indoor training facilities for games are virtually unknown in this country. Many more swimming baths need to be provided. Those are deficiencies which must be repaired if we are to keep faith with the younger generation which is growing up.
There is, too, a severe need for proper coaching facilities and for helping with the administrative expenses of the sports organisations of the country. I thought that one of the most interesting commentaries on the lack of provision that we are making at present was the fact that when in the summer the Ministry of Education made a grant of £800 to the Amateur Swimming Association for the provision of a full-time coach it made headline news in the newspapers. I believe, too, that we have got to make things a great deal easier for individual sportsmen.
547 In the document to which I have referred, "Leisure for Living," we speak of the need in this way. We say:When our sportsmen achieve international distinction—and we have no wish to minimise our national achievements—they do so in spite of our indifference, and not because of the help and encouragement their country has shown them. Indeed, they are often humiliated and embarrassed by our thoughtless meanness. One of our European champions—a working miner—was only enabled to compete through the generosity of his coach, who paid both their fares and hotel bills out of his own pocket; and a British representative at the Olympic Games in Melbourne was sometimes literally unable to afford stamps for letters home to his wife.I noticed in the Evening Telegraph, a Lancashire evening paper, in its issue of 16th of this month, a story of two young champion divers in Nelson who stand a good chance of representing England in next year's Olympic Games. But the facilities for training are not available in the town in which they live. So far, the superintendent of the local baths has been paying a great deal out of his own pocket in order to ensure that these two boys shall have proper coaching and opportunities for developing their abilities. It is a monstrous thing that it should be necessary to rely upon the spontaneous generosity of individuals like that before it is possible for young people, who have qualities which they wish to develop, to have the full opportunity of developing them.
On 13th August I read in the Daily Sketch that Gordon Pirie had found that he could not come back from Norway in order to compete against Poland at the White City. His reason was that he could not afford to pay the expenses out of his own pocket. The Daily Sketch went on to say:Then, much more important from an international prestige point of view, Gordon added: 'Even if I were selected, I don't see how I could afford to run for Britain in Moscow and Helsinki. That would mean ten days off work. What people forget is that is cost Shirley'"—that is, Mrs. Pirie—'and me £538 to come back from New Zealand to train for a chance to go to Rome for next year's Olympics.'In our view, it is monstrous that our great athletes and sportsmen should be handicapped by financial considerations of that kind. I hope it will be possible for the Government to say that they are going to do more to make it easier for 548 our great sporting organisations to ensure that we have the strongest representation when we take part in international competitions of the kind to which I have referred.
We do not want a Ministry of Sport. We believe that the only solution is for the Minister of Education to set up a sports council of Great Britain with adequate funds at its disposal and answerable to the House of Commons. We believe it should include representatives of various sports and physical pastimes, and interested laymen not identified with particular forms of sport. We believe that such a council should have a threefold task. First, it should co-operate with the national sporting organisations in the provision of coaching and recreational facilities and should administer grant aid for those purposes. Secondly, it should ensure fuller British co-operation in international sporting events. Thirdly, it should stimulate interest in sports and fitness and promote co-operation between local authorities and voluntary organisations.
Perhaps I could here interpose my own view about something that I would like to see in every local authority area. It is that there should be a committee under the auspices of the local authority upon which the sporting organisations in the area would be represented. We do not wish in any way to weaken or obstruct the present direct relations between Whitehall and the local education authorities, and in our statement on educational policy we stress the important part which we believe the local authorities will have to play. But even the best local authorities are all the better for a little prodding from the public whom they represent.
There are many other things which the Government could do to help and to encourage young people. The stimulation of voluntary service, more generous university maintenance grants, the provision of adventure scholarships, the raising of the school-leaving age, the extension of further education—these are just five of the ways in which the Government could help. I hope my hon. Friends will give other examples.
And I hope that at the end of the day the Minister will be in no doubt whatsoever as to the importance which we attach to the problems of youth. We shall seek 549 throughout this Parliament to persuade him to apply more and more of the bold and imaginative policies for young people upon which the Labour Party fought the General Election.
§ 11.31 a. m.
§ Miss Joan Vickers (Plymouth, Devonport)
It is a very great honour to be called to follow the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood) in his well-reasoned and interesting speech. There is only one thing in which I disagree with him. He said that over a period of years youth had been taught to kill, but I should like to suggest that they were taught to defend themselves and, if they had not shown their willingness to do so, it would have been a very poor look-out for this country. I happened to take part in a high school debate the other day on this very question and I am glad to say that, although I was opposing a motion for unilateral disarmament, I won. I think young people are still prepared to learn to defend their own country.
When I put down my name to speak in this debate I did not think there would be a special subject for today, so I should like to mention two particular points before referring to the Youth Service. Those points are on the question of employment. I know from the Gracious Speech that there is to be a new Bill in regard to employment. I wish to suggest to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education—he may realise this from his previous job—that that Bill will be of no use to a great many of us unless we can have the cooperation of the Ministries of Transport and Aviation.
Take the question of the West Country, for instance. We have heard a great deal from hon. Members opposite about winning the election on full employment and stable prices. In Plymouth the unemployment figure is 3.4 per cent. The situation is very serious. Even if this Bill is brought in—I hope it will be and that it will be successful—in many areas such as Plymouth, unless we get better transport facilities, the Bill will not do what we wish it to do. No one can go to Plymouth for just a day. One either has to spend the whole night in the train or stay the whole night in Plymouth. That makes it very difficult for directors of companies to take an interest in bringing 550 a factory to Plymouth. Unemployment among juveniles there is particularly high.
The other point I want to bring to the attention of my right hon. Friend is the question of "meals on wheels". Hon. Members opposite may remember that on two occasions they have put forward Private Members' Bills on this question which I have supported. I was very gratified when I saw in the Conservative manifesto a reference to this subject and I hoped for a Bill and that we might have the support of hon. Members opposite on this occasion. The reason I want particularly to draw attention to this matter is that recently in Devon one of the medical officers of health stated that a great many people were not getting sufficient nourishment, in fact they were living on white bread, butter and tea. This is not a question of pensions and money, but simply that these people are elderly and cannot go out to do their shopping. They are living alone and, as a spinster, I know the boredom of cooking just one individual meal. They are therefore living below proper nutritional standards.
I hope either that we shall make a survey, or that some pressure will be brought on the Ministry of Health to consider bringing in a Measure as soon as possible to allow local authorities that cannot now supply meals on wheels to individual people the opportunity to do so. This is very well done by the W.V.S. in areas where there are sufficient voluntary workers, but in many cases it is extremely difficult to find people either with enough money or time to give service, so I hope we shall have some action by the Government in this matter.
I welcome the fact that we are discussing education and the Youth Service and the needs of the young in society today, which I think specially warrant attention. It was very gratifying to see—I think for the first time for many years—the question of youth mentioned in the Gracious Speech. I think we all in this House agree that there is nothing wrong with our young people today. They are moving into a new age and we must give them every support. The sudden emancipation of young people because they enjoy more money and leisure and, with better feeding, have more energy, warrants our attention. The scientific revolution through which we are going at present 551 promises to make the standard of living even higher and leisure time even greater. I see that in I.C.I. working hours are to be cut still further. With the end of National Service and also with the extra bulge of young people leaving school, the youth services will be all the more important in future years.
There are two kinds of service which want looking into. First, the Youth Service for those in employment and for those in unemployment, because employment of juveniles is still causing a great problem. I speak with some knowledge, because we have great difficulty about it in Plymouth. In Plymouth there will be 84 per cent. more children aged 15 in 1962 compared with the national increase of 52 per cent. That is a very large increase. By 1967 the increase in Plymouth will be as high as 49 per cent. while the national average, I understand, will be about 19 per cent. There will be a need for facilities to help the unemployed for a considerable time.
In my opinion, facilities offered by the Youth Service should be purposeful and creative for the employed and should provide shelter and incentive for those without jobs so that they may have some object in life. I think we must ensure that some of these centres are kept open all day so long as we have unemployed young people. We were rather disappointed in Plymouth the other day when one of our voluntary organisations asked for a grant of £500 to help with carpentry classes for unemployed youths and that application, unfortunately, was turned down. At present it is only too easy to attract the types who naturally are club-minded, or we can attract them into the uniformed organisations, but the failure is to interest those who need to be taught how to live in a community. They need to be taught and, although I do not mean any disrespect to them, many of them are anti-social and need our particular care.
The Conservative manifesto said that a National Council for Social Training would be set up. I presume that it would deal mostly with the social workers who are discussed in the Younghusband Report, but I understand that the Albemarle Committee's Report will deal with training as well. T should like to know whether this Council will be used for training youth leaders, which I think 552 would be very helpful. I hope, too, that youth leadership will become a profession. It is absolutely essential that we should make youth leaders a real profession and raise their status. In a very interesting book on youth work in Britain Mr. Kuenstler put forward a suggestion in 1953 in regard to the training and recruitment of youth leaders and community centre wardens.
I am afraid that not much action has been taken about this, but I wish to draw attention to two particular points. He thought there should be no youth leader under 23 years of age and that they should be encouraged by the University Appointments Board to undertake practical work of some kind when they leave university. He wanted to improve the conditions and he said that the Committee's recommendations, which are too long for me to give in detail, suggested two possibilities:that with improved conditions of service the stream of recruits who wish to make the Youth Service a life career will increase; and that there will be recruitment to the Youth Service from industry and social work as well as from teaching.We need to co-operate with industry and social work as well as with teachers, and a link with these two sources of recruitment should be developed as closely as is the link with teaching. This is action which should be taken in the near future if we are to get the right type of leader into our youth clubs.
I took part in the debate on the Estimates for the Youth Service in order to discuss the question of better contact with industry. I am still not satisfied that we have sufficient contact with industry, either through the youth committees or through the youth employment officers, and I do not believe that enough of the school leavers are taken round industries in time to prepare them for the very great jump which they will make when they leave the sheltered school life and go into industry. As a result, this often makes them frustrated.
I recommend to hon. Members the excellent leaflet issued by the British Pottery Manufacturers' Federation called, "Off to a Good Start", and I suggest that this type of leaflet, which helps to provide co-operation between parents and industry and which gives children practical details about the work they will do, should be used more often. 553 We should have more of this type of leaflet telling young people exactly what type of job they will do if they go into a particular industry.
I also suggest that industry might cooperate more in the provision of facilities. As we travel in the train we pass many playing fields, see beside them the names of firms to which they belong, and very often these fields are empty. During the week they may be seldom used. We should encourage industry to lend their playing fields at times to young people. The same comment applies to industrial canteens. In some cities the best halls are in the canteens of factories. Perhaps it might be possible on one or two nights a week to allow these to be used for young people.
As far as I can ascertain, the clubs and evening classes attract only the responsibly-minded. The masses, I think, regard their leisure as going to the cinema, the greyhound track, the palais-de-dance or wandering round the streets. Too many are not satisfied with their work, which makes it all the more difficult for them to take an interest in further education. From the details which I could find in the books in the Library, I believe that less than half the young workers have undergone any sustained training for a job. One in four are in stop-gap jobs and three in four never make the best use, or indeed any use, of the facilities for further education. Half the young people have no contact with church, club or any other organisation and about 88 per cent. regard their weekly visits to the cinema as being their only real leisure-time activity.
There is a charming Japanese proverb which says, "A little thing is a little thing but faithfulness in a little thing is a big thing." I want to give young people nowadays faithfulness in a little thing so that it will grow to a big thing in the future.
I should like to suggest one or two organisations which I think are particularly helpful to young people at present and which should be encouraged. The first which I should like to mention is the Outward Bound Trust which, I am glad to say, deals, now, with both boys and girls between the ages of 14 and 19. I should like to see every boy and girl in 554 the country have the chance, if they wish, to go on one of these courses. I understand that there are four in Britain, and another is shortly to be opened in Devon by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which means that it should get off to a good start. There are two in Germany, one in Malaya, one in Kenya, one in West Africa and one in Australia. That is a very great advantage because it means that it is an international organisation and a Commonwealth organisation. This is a great advantage for young people. I suggest that we should have more interchange of youth leaders between this country and the Commonwealth. We have an interchange of teachers and a considerable interchange of nurses, and if we had more interchange of youth leaders it would be for the better understanding of the Commonwealth.
I support what the hon. Member for Rossendale said about the need for more playing-fields. This is essential, and I hope that it will be borne in mind in any future planning of our towns. Many provincial cities, like Plymouth, have no swimming bath. The provision of a swimming bath, I think, has become almost a "must" in a city of any size. The provision of such a swimming bath can be very expensive for the local authority, and I hope that the Government may find a way of giving them perhaps half the money towards the cost. I always remember General Slim saying, "It is better to be a bad player than a good spectator." I want more young people to have the chance to take part in some sport and some club activity.
I remind hon. Members of the Ancoats experiment in Manchester, which I have watched with considerable interest. An old hall was taken and young people allowed to look after it themselves, to redecorate it and to run it. There is a type of young person we should allow to do that. Whether they jive, have juke boxes or just "a get together," I do not think it matters as long as they have the idea of having their own community responsibility for their own hall and running their own club. We must be quite open-minded about this and not lay down any hard-and-fast rules as to how this type of youth organisation should be run.
555 May I also mention the question of further fishing facilities? This may be one of my own pet ideas, but I have found that young people are turning more and more to coarse fishing. This is a very soothing occupation, one in which I indulge myself, although I am not an expert in coarse fishing. For example, at chalk pits at Newton Abbot, which are not being used, permission has been given to fill them with water and to use them for coarse fishing. I believe that more use could be made of our canals and lakes for fishing. They are extremely popular, and I have found that young people are taking a great deal of trouble to learn the art.
I want to see, therefore, two types of centres in the future—those which we might describe as educative and elevating and those which concentrate on amusement, even if it is rather undisciplined entertainment. The Carnegie Report of the United Kingdom Trust, 1943, produced a pamphlet called the "Disinherited Youth". This meant disinherited as a result of unemployment. Today we have very much to offer to youth, but it must be done quickly and in the right manner. I do not want hon. Members to feel that we shall be responsible in the future for a report called "The Disillusioned Youth".
§ 11.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Alan Beaney (Hemsworth)
In addressing lf to you for the first time, Mr. Speaker, I humbly crave your indulgence and I earnestly beseech right hon. and hon. Members for their forbearance in my temerity in so doing. Representing, as I do, the great constituency of Hemsworth, with the largest majority in Great Britain, perhaps I may be forgiven for bringing forward three reasons why Hemsworth is placed in this very proud position. Primarily it is because this vast majority, as at previous General Elections, is consumed with a burning, passionate desire that social justice shall be dispensed to all people.
Therefore, it is my duty to draw the attention of the House to two grave omissions from the Gracious Speech. I refer to the needs of our old-age pensioners and to the situation now present in the mining industry. The electorate of Hemsworth has heard the cry of the old-age pensioners and has affirmed that 556 it is immoral to deny them and unjust to deprive our senior citizens of their fair share of the national income. Hemsworth has recorded its support for the contention of right hon. and hon. Members on this side of the House that old-age pensioners' right of citizenship of our noble country should be freedom from poverty and want. It is regrettable that the Gracious Speech makes no mention of righting this injustice.
Hemsworth is predominantly a coalmining area. Its people are, once again, being faced with the spectre of the hungry 'thirties. I hasten to assure the House that we are not living in the past, but memory forbids us all to forget, and it is by the pains of the past, by the remembrance of our sacrifices, struggles and inspirations in the past that we relate our present-day experiences. The result is our fearful apprehension for our future.
Our nation owes an immeasurable debt of gratitude to its mining community, not only for their response to the call of the nation's need in the immediate post-war years to rebuild the national economy, after six weary war years when the miners sacrificed their weekend leisure by operating the extended working hours agreement, but also for their noblest response by producing the coal for victory over Fascism. Even in a maiden speech I make no apologies for reminding the House of that, which was the miners' greatest achievement.
I have a very vivid recollection of being summoned to a conference at Westminster in 1944. Every pithead in Great Britain was represented at that conference, which was addressed by the late Field Marshal Smuts and the then Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill). They disclosed to us the dire peril in which our beloved country was placed in the war against Fascism. They implored us to act as their ambassadors, to go out into the mining villages, relate to our people the grave danger in which we were all placed and to tell them of the vital necessity to produce more coal.
I shall never forget the concluding words of the right hon. Member for Woodford, which will bear repetition in the House today. He said, "In the postwar years when the history of our present 557 struggle has to be written, posterity will ask of us, 'What did you do to bring us our great inheritance?' Someone will say, 'I was a fighter pilot'. Another will say, 'I served in the Army'. Another will say, 'I served in the Royal Navy'. Others will say, 'I did my share in the field and in the factory'. But you, the miner, with joy in your heart and justifiable pride in your soul, can say, 'Yes, you all played a part, but all your efforts depended upon mine, because I cut the coal.'".
How well the miners responded to that appeal is a matter of history. Is it to be the heritage of the miners that the mining valleys are to become the derelict, murdered Jarrows of 1960? Her Majesty's Government must discharge the nation's debt to the mining community by adopting a comprehensive and coordinated fuel policy for the production and consumption of the nation's overall fuel requirements. They must adopt a planned policy which will have full regard to the strategic issues involved, will not leave the economy at the mercy of the whims of some outlandish sheikh, and will have the fullest regard to the balance of payments issue involved in the use of imported oil and gas fuel. The Government must ensure that coal and the miners get a fair crack, and not the lash, of the whip.
Miners will spurn charity, the dole and National Assistance. We shall demand the right to earn our livelihood in the full dignity of our labour. If Her Majesty's Government fail to do this, miners will regard them as the political henchmen of the handful of oil monopolists who are the would-be assassins of the mining community. Members of the House, by insisting upon the measures I have outlined, will acquit themselves as honourable gentlemen.
§ 11.57 a.m.
§ Mr. Martin Maddan (Hitchin)
In following the hon. Member for Hems-worth (Mr. Beaney), who has just made a very eloquent maiden speech, I am certain that the first thing that all hon. Members on both sides of the House would like me to do is to congratulate him on that speech and on his election to the House. The hon. Gentleman has already shown us something of an independent mind by starting the day by 558 referring to old-age pensioners when we are mostly talking about the problems of youth. Perhaps this is healthy, too, because we cannot regard any of these problems in isolation. From his experience in the coal industry and the active part he has played in the life of his neighbourhood, we know that the hon. Gentleman is well qualified to speak for the mining industry.
I shall not follow the hon. Gentleman—I hope that he will forgive me—into the ins and outs of the mining industry and the problems of a national fuel policy, except to say that in the remarks which I intend to make about the problem of youth employment in new towns I hope he will find something of interest in the way in which, in certain areas, new employment is being found for people whose old employment, for different reasons, has suffered.
I see the hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) in his place. He has in his constituency the new town of Cwmbran. The problems there are probably more similar to those facing the hon. Member for Hemsworth than the problems in my constituency, where the new town of Stevenage is situated. In my case, our problems are perhaps more like those of the hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee), who has the new town of Bracknell in his constituency.
The problem of youth in this House is that we are losing our youth, but in the new towns the problem is that they are gaining it. They are gaining it with increasing abundance. Although it is an important subject, I do not want to talk about the problem of providing amenities—youth clubs, leadership and so on—for leisure activities. In Stevenage this has been reported upon under the auspices of the Gulbenkian Foundation by a committee headed by Brigadier Williams of Rhodes House, famous now for his chairmanship of two committees. I am glad to say that steps are already being taken in Stevenage to implement the recommendations of this Report.
The underlying assumption of the Report was that there would be good jobs and ample jobs for the young people in this new town, and it is this underlying assumption that I want to examine. The present situation is satisfactory—there is no youth unemployment—but a problem lies ahead, as is stated in the 1959 Report 559 of the Stevenage Development Corporation. At the end of that Report appear the following words:The problem of providing the amount and variety of employment which the unusually large number of school leavers will require in the next ten years or so has yet to be solved.This problem has not yet been solved, and I should like to define its size and nature. As we all know, there is the general national bulge of school leavers, and from the employment point of view that will be aggravated—or so I hope—by the ending of National Service, but in the new towns the position is much more severe than the average, and much more severe than it is even in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers), who gave quite startling figures.
The statistical picture in Stevenage is that half of the people coming in are of the age group 20–40 years, and one-third of them are under 15. Therefore, there is a very high birth rate, and as there are also very few retirements—about one-seventh of the national average—there is not much point in Stevenage in waiting for dead men's shoes. People are not dying.
The national average of people aged from 15 to 21 years, which is a definition I have taken of youth, is today 83 per 1,000, but in Stevenage it is only 60 per 1,000. Therefore, at the present time we are well off, but the position will dramatically reverse itself in the next decade. Indeed, by 1975, the national figure will have risen to about 85 per 1,000 in this age group, but in Stevenage it will be 130 per 1,000, which means that we will have half as many again in this group as the national average.
The employment of school leavers will become difficult in the next few years because of the lack of retirements, so that it will be seen that the problem is not something for the far future but one that is approaching us quite quickly. I was glad that in the last Parliament my right hon. Friend, who is now the Colonial Secretary, became seized of the matter when he was Minister of Labour, and referred it to the Industrial Training Council, with particular reference to apprenticeships; but the problem can only be solved on a very wide basis, and that is what I want to suggest this morning.
560 There are two main aspects of the problem. The first is that of providing enough jobs for the sheer numbers of young people, and the second is ensuring that the jobs fit their capabilities. As to the sheer numbers, after the war, when Stevenage was a small town, it had a population of 6,000 or 7,000. That has now risen to about 35,000, and will rise to 60,000 or 80,000 inhabitants. In terms of school leavers, this means that in the present year there are about 500 boys and girls leaving school, but in 1969 there will be 1,400. Or, taking the 15–21 age group as a whole, there are about 2,000 at present in Stevenage, and there will be 6,000 or 7,000 there in 1969. Therefore, while the population will double, the number of school leavers will treble. And this, as I say, is all against a background of a very low retirement rate.
If there are not enough jobs in terms of sheer numbers, the people who will suffer will undoubtedly be the less bright boys and girls, because the bright ones will do jobs beneath their capability and the less bright ones will have no jobs at all. In this connection, it is important to note that there seems to be a strong tendency for those up to the age of 18 not to wish to leave their homes, and for their parents not to wish them to go, and I must say that I have every sympathy with that attitude. I think that it would be very bad socially if they were forced to leave their homes too young.
This leads me from sheer numbers to the provision of jobs of the right kind. We must have this or the bright ones will waste, as well as the less bright boys and girls being out of jobs altogether. In Stevenage we have a lot of bright boys and girls. The number staying on for the extra year at school is double the national average, so this new town should have lots of bright people in it.
First, we need more craft apprenticeships, then we need more office work, and, thirdly, we need unskilled work that is suitable for the less bright. I will deal first with craft apprenticeships. Engineering predominates in Stevenage. Some of the big firms there have already stepped up their numbers of apprentices recently by as much as a quarter, but they are the first to agree that this is only scratching the surface of the coming problem.
561 For these firms, the economics are simple. With the best will in the world, they cannot absorb more apprentices than they need for their own use, or more than they think is good business for them from the prestige point of view, of having apprentices trained by, say, G. W. King or English Electric spreading the gospel of the high quality of the products of these factories. It is interesting to note that there is no lack of what might be called "social" spending by these firms in Stevenage. They provide very good facilities for their employees, and my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport will be glad to hear that they are also showing signs of contributing very munificently indeed to local general needs.
What, therefore, can be done about engineering apprenticeships? An extension of the idea of a year of in-school apprentice training might relieve some of the pressure on the actual physical facilities for training but, of course, it will not relieve the problem of the numbers that, in the end, the firms can take on. We might have in-school training under the local education authority or at Government training centres, but that in itself will not solve the problem. Here I would add that I do not think an extension of sandwich courses, similar to those used in student apprenticeships, is possible on a large scale, because, however bright these boys and girls are, the number who can take advantage of the student apprentice type of course is bound to be limited.
Again, the Government might be able to help the smaller firms to absorb more apprentices. This is important, because in Stevenage we shall have a greater balance of smaller firms than we have at present. Further, firms in the surrounding districts might absorb some of these apprentices—Luton, with its motor car industry and, perhaps, the aircraft industry in Hatfield, in which town de Havilland at present train all their apprentices, although they have a large propellor factory in Stevenage.
However, not one of these suggestions would be sufficient by itself. Only by applying some of them in combination will the problem of apprenticeship eventually be solved—and solved it must be in the context of the national need for engineers and technicians. This need is 562 great, and it must be met; but, equally, we must not dream that there is any solution in training people for jobs that will not be available for them anywhere in the country.
Then we have the problem of the non-engineering craft apprentices, particularly in the building trade. There are virtually no building apprentices at the present time, despite the tremendous amount of building activity which is going on. The contractors say that with contracts which run for perhaps only a year at a time they cannot take on boys for apprenticeships in the building trade. I would, therefore, ask the Government to examine the possibility of the development corporations being enabled to make long-term contracts with these firms, which would help them to be in a position to take on apprentices and train people in work of which there is a tremendous amount in the neighbourhood, but which, owing to the short-term nature of their contracts, they cannot entertain at the present time.
From the question of apprentices, I want to turn to that of office work and to say that the failure of the development corporations to attract offices has been marked and disappointing. This is despite the fact that rents are favourable and sites and conditions are good compared with those in London. In fact, in Stevenage less than one-quarter of the population is employed in non-industrial work, and in that one-quarter come the distributive trades, professions and commerce generally, as well as offices. So the amount of office employment is really negligible.
One reason given for this is that there is no subscriber trunk dialling on the telephones in Stevenage. Not only would it be too expensive, but it would be very awkward for offices removed so far from London. The Post Office cannot give any idea when subscriber trunk dialling may come, but this would be an important help to the corporation in attracting offices to Stevenage.
It has been suggested that an office development certificate, something like the industrial development certificate, might help the Government to force offices into the new towns. I am not certain that this is practicable. At the present time, the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and the London County Council 563 are anxious to restrict office building in London, but so many places have had permission granted in the past for office development that, quite apart from the administrative problems of office development certificates, I doubt whether the introduction of such a scheme would be a practical help. Nevertheless, the situation which remains is that offices are not being attracted to the new towns and, unless they are, there is no hope of providing enough work for skilled and brainy people to absorb the great bulge of school leavers that will come.
I turn to the question of unskilled work. I am glad to say that in Stevenage this seems well on the way to solution. There is a large firm making cosmetics and toiletries which will be able to absorb a high proportion of unskilled youths and women.
I conclude by saying that the problem is very intricate and cannot be solved unless it is seen as a whole. It affects at least half a dozen different Ministries—in fact more—the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, the Board of Trade, the Ministry of Aviation and the procurement departments of the Service Ministries. It also affects the Post Office, and I could mention several others.
I suggest very seriously that the Government should select one Ministry to be responsible for arriving at a policy and forcing through this policy, and for co-ordinating the policies of the other Ministries concerned, to solve this problem. I do not believe that such an intricate problem, such an important problem, can be left to the more or less chance of inter-Departmental committees with no one Minister responsible for seeing that the problem is in fact going to be solved.
I end by saying that we must not drift, and by repeating the words in the Report of the Stevenage Development Corporation that the problem "has yet to be solved."
§ 12.15 p.m.
§ Mr. John Mackie (Enfield, East)
Never has my name sounded so ominous, Mr. Speaker. I doubt whether I have ever been so nervous or spent such a nervous morning since my wedding day over twenty-five years ago. 564 The occasions are not dissimilar. The church I was married in placed my wife's friends and relations on one side and mine on the other, and any disapproval was silent. I understand, Mr. Speaker, that today disapproval will be silent, for which I thank you very much. There I am afraid the similarity ends, because on that occasion the "opposition" stood me a very good lunch and spoke afterwards. I have to speak of my own volition on this occasion, and so far I have had no offer of lunch from the other side.
It may be unnecessary for me to say that I am a Scot and a farmer. I farm extensively, although I stand for the English industrial constituency of Enfield, East. I am proud to do that, because I am representing the people who consume most of my produce. Like the hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers), I did not know—and I am sorry that I did not know—that this was to be mainly a debate on youth, but, unlike her, I have not the experience to alter my speech at so short notice, so I am afraid I shall not be able to talk on youth, not that I am not interested in the subject, because I have five of them and I know the problem.
Few people realise that all that people eat and wear, right down to their shoes, comes off the land, and more than half of it off the land of Great Britain. Far too many people believe that things come off the shelves in shops and do not stop to think about where they came from originally, and that is what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about what happens to produce after it leaves the farms of Great Britain until it gets into the housewife's shopping bag.
I was prompted to choose this subject because of questions I was asked during the election campaign. When people discovered that I was a farmer, they immediately shot at me: Why are eggs so expensive? Why is milk so expensive? Why is bacon so expensive? and so on. I found it very difficult to answer their questions knowing the prices that we were getting.
One of the reasons why I sit on this side of the House is because when I went to my farm in Scotland in 1930 I had to cast 30 acres of my predecessor's potatoes into a quarry hole, and at the 565 same time farmers were having to pour milk down the drains in the West of Scotland. At that time there were thousands of unemployed in the industrial belt of Scotland who could well have done with those potatoes and that milk. That is one of the reasons why I began to think about things and why I am on this side of the House.
Having mentioned potatoes. I should like to speak about them first. I was on my farm this morning. I try to be there every morning before coming to the House so that I can keep my feet on the ground. I think that it is essential to do that, because one can quite easily get one's head in the clouds if one stays too much in the House of Commons.
On Wednesday morning, we were digging potatoes on my farm. We had a squad of men and women picking, sorting and so on. I saw them having tea under the rather inadequate shelter of a hedge. It was a very cold, windy and rainy morning. Then while driving to the House of Commons, I passed one of the factories in my constituency—the Ferguson factory—where I saw through the windows people sitting in the canteen enjoying their coffee in tremendous comfort compared with that of my workers a couple of hours earlier. That led me to think of just what I got for producing an acre of potatoes and how long it took me to produce that acre.
In the field over the hedge from the one where we were picking we were starting preparing for next year's crop, putting on dung, and shortly we shall be ploughing. When I go back to Scotland I shall arrange to send more seed down. We buy the fertilisers in December. We shall have to chit the seed and then comes the planting and spreading and the summer cultivations, for a whole year until we lift and dress the potatoes. For all this, I receive today between £11 and £12 per ton. We have had a bad crop in Essex this year because of a bad spring and other reasons, and for us the return works out at about £66 or £70 per acre. This is just under 1¼d. per 1b. For the sake of argument, I will call it 1¼d. per 1b.
On my way here, I looked into the shops in North London and saw that potatoes are selling there at 3d. per 1b. for the rough, big potatoes, up to 5d. a 1b. for good reds. Let us take 3¾d. as 566 the average price. This means that, between the time the potatoes leave my farm and the time they reach the housewife's shopping basket, somebody adds £22 a ton. They add that in one week. It took me a year to put the potatoes there. I simply do not think anyone can justify that kind of thing.
We have had a splendid crop of lambs this year—first class, the best for a generation. Unfortunately, we had a very dry summer and all those lambs had to come on the market very cheap. I will give the House an example within my own experience. A brother-in-law of mine bought a lamb for his own use and paid 73s. for it. He took it to the killing house, had it killed, selling the skin and inedible offal for 20s. The lamb, 60 1bs. of it, cost him 53s. I see from The Times today that a Scottish firm is advertising lamb at 2s. 6d. per 1b. At 2s. 6d. a 1b. the animal will cost £7 10s. My brother-in-law got it for 53s. If one buys over the counter at an average price of 3s. or 4s. 6d. a 1b. in the shops, which I again checked today, it will cost over £10. The situation seems ridiculous.
I will give an example now from the marketing of eggs. I do not intend to talk about everything, but I wish to give several examples to make my point. We are producing more eggs than people are buying. A large surplus is left. The surplus this year is likely to be greater, but last year the surplus was such that the Egg Marketing Board had to break and sell to the bakers 360 million eggs. Egg prices to the consumer have never come down sufficiently. If those 360 million eggs had been consumed by the public generally, it would, after all, have meant only about 7 eggs per person per year or, putting it in another way, an egg and a half extra per week for the 5 million old-age pensioners, who, I am sure, could well do with them. It is a curious situation that the more the Egg Marketing Board breaks eggs and puts up the price to the consumer, the less the farmer receives. That is an anomaly which the Government should look into; the Egg Marketing Board should not have temptations like that put before it. The surplus is not really large. It amounts to only one million cases out of a total of 23 million, although, as I say, the figure this year will be larger.
567 Various suggestions have been made of ways to overcome the difficulty in egg prices. I have heard it said that it would really be cheaper in the long run to dump the eggs into the sea rather than have the cost of breaking them, freezing them, and so forth, for the bakeries. I hope that that will not be resorted to.
My hon. Friend the Member for Dept-ford (Sir L. Plummer) has dealt with the subject of bacon, but I wish to emphasise that we have another crisis in the pig industry. We have not enough pigs. Not many years ago we had too many. The reason is not difficult to find. It is that the Government have put extraordinary variations of policy to the farmers—they want more pigs, they want less, they want them cheaper, they will give us more for them next year, and so on. Since 23rd August until today the price of pigs to the farmer has dropped £3 a pig. Bacon is a little cheaper, but, if one works the figures out, the price should come down by nearly 6d. a lb. It has not dropped anything like that, and, again, the consumer is not receiving the benefit.
Turning now to milk, we have a butter crisis. Not very long ago, I had a letter on my desk from the Milk Marketing Board asking me for goodness sake to reduce production because there was far too much milk in the country today. There are reasons given for this situation, and, of course, the weather is always blamed. But now we are in the winter. If farmers had plenty of animals to keep their stocks going and dairy herds were maintained at the same level as last year, they should be producing the same amount of milk, but, nevertheless, whether as a result of the weather or because farmers have cut down in answer to that letter from the Milk Marketing Board, milk is scarce, and butter, according to the Daily Express anyway, is to be 6s. per 1b. this weekend. Again, the consumer suffers.
Horticulture has had to be subsidised. I think that £7 million has been spent on the industry. I understand that tomato growers have never had a worse year. Yet tomatoes have not been cheap in the shops, and neither has lettuce. If I may digress for a moment—I think it is a pertinent digression—I will refer to 568 what was said a day or so ago by my hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Pavitt) when he spoke of the need for preventive medicine. I have been watching the habits of right hon. and hon. Members, and I have noticed that, in the excellent cafeterias provided in this building, the practice is to take a tray and have put upon it a cup or pot of tea, saturated with white sugar, flanked by a couple of chocolate biscuits. This seems to be the main diet. After that, apparently, hon. Members then go to sit on the very comfortable chairs in the various public rooms. I feel that this is a very bad habit. If only hon. Members would buy a glass of milk, a slice of brown bread, with some tomato or lettuce, afterwards going down to the gymnasium to take some exercise, not only would they set a good example in the application of the principles of preventive medicine, but the doctors would soon be put out of business. We should here set an example which the country might follow, and horticulture and the milk industry would benefit.
I will give another example from my own experience. I have an interest in a fruit growing business in Lincolnshire. This year we had an excellent crop of beautiful greengages. We had a struggle to sell them at 3d. a 1b., and we gave 1¼d. a 1b. to pick them. Hon. Members can see how much we received for them. In Aberdeen, my home town, there were greengages for sale in the shops at 1s. 3d. a 1b. It seems to me ridiculous that it should need the addition of 1s. a 1b. to put greengages into the shopper's basket.
Now cereals, particularly barley. The Minister of Agriculture, about a year ago, spoke to the Millers' Association of this country deploring the fact that we were spending an increasing number of dollars, up to £140 million worth, on importing feed grains. He thought that we should produce more at home. In the same speech, he said that he could do nothing about it. Of course, he can do nothing about it. The Government abolished—I am merely stating the fact, not trying to be controversial—the controls with which they could have done something about it. This year, we had an excellent harvest, the best I have ever known. Are we taking advantage of this to save dollars? The barley—indeed, any 569 cereal this year—has been in beautiful condition, dry and capable of storage for long enough. Are we doing anything about it?
I had a surplus over my storage capacity of about 110 tons of barley. I tried to sell it immediately after harvest and I could not because, at that time and during all the summer, Australian and Canadian barley was coming into the West Coast ports, imported by the importing companies who had brought it over in ships, and it was being taken in lorries to fill the stores of the distilleries on the Spey right up in Scotland, where it is used to make whisky. People were just not buying barley. A month ago, exporters on this side of the country bought barley up and down the East Coast, loaded it on to lorries, shipping it from East Coast ports to the Continent. No doubt, both these operations were carried out with great efficiency, one on one side of the country and one on the other. But, putting the two together, it seems that a state of anarchy exists when things like that go on.
I simply give the House those examples to show that the part of the Gracious Speech which deals with agriculture and horticulture—I shall quote it:My Government will encourage the more economic marketing of produce"—applies only to horticultural produce, but I submit to the Government that it must apply to all agricultural produce because the situation is becoming quite chaotic.
I think that it was Napoleon who said that we were a nation of shopkeepers. We are now becoming a nation of middlemen. I do not blame the middle-men. Many of them are my friends who handle my produce. They are simply working in a system, and they work very hard and well. They have to, because there are so many of them to get a living, but our system for marketing produce is rotten. We should take a look at how the Dutch and the Danes do it. They encourage co-operation, and I want to see much more co-operative marketing which I should like the Government to encourage so that the hard-won food of ours—and, believe me, Mr. Speaker, it is hard-won food—gets into consumers' shopping bags cheaper than it does today.
§ 12.31 p.m.
§ Brigadier Sir John Smyth (Norwood)
I count it a great privilege to follow the hon. Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Mackie) in his maiden speech, which I think was quite remarkable and outstanding. It was full of humour and full of knowledge of his subject and it contained some extremely interesting points. If he really felt nervous, as he said, he certainly did not show it. I can hardly wait to hear the hon. Member speak in the House again. I am sure that we shall all look forward to hearing him on many other occasions.
I do not want to attempt to follow the hon. Gentleman. I should like to say a few words about the enthralling and all-important subject of youth leadership, which has been mentioned by several hon. Members already. We have wonderful material in this country on which to work. I believe that, because the newspapers are so full of news about the young people who do not behave very well, there is perhaps not sufficient appreciation of the splendid young men we have in this country who I think have never been excelled. The way they took part in the defence of freedom during the war and have adapted themselves to National Service and then back again to their various professions is commendable, but the violent juvenile crime among the minority of our youth today is causing, I think, very much more concern in the country as a whole than it is even in this House. People outside are becoming extremely concerned about the increase in gang warfare and that sort of thing, and I think that we must give very serious consideration to this problem.
I should like to follow the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood) in something which he mentioned and which has been mentioned by other hon. Members, namely, the necessity for more swimming baths and running tracks in this country. As a London Member, I speak very feelingly. Playing space in London is very hard to come by, and it is no good saying that we want more football fields and cricket grounds, and that sort of thing, because the space just does not exist. I therefore feel that it is extremely important—and I hope that my right hon. Friend will give earnest attention to this matter—that we should build the things that we can con- 571 struct in London, particularly many more swimming baths, which can be used all the year round I think that a great deal more can be done in London and our other big cities in this sphere.
As this is a general debate, I want to touch very briefly on an entirely different subject. It was stated in the Gracious Speech that the Government will give close attention to the needs of the war disabled and the old people. I think that the country as a whole—certainly the people chiefly concerned, the war disabled and the old people—is confident from the past record of the Government and previous Conservative Governments that these needs will be borne constantly in mind and given very high priority.
In 1951, when we took over the reins of Government, the war pension was at a very low ebb. It had fallen in value from 45s. to 35s. between 1946 and 1951, and nothing was done about it. As I have said before, that was not the fault of the Labour Ministers in charge of pensions. Mr. George Isaacs and Mr. Jim Simmons, who were in the last House, were two men for whom I had very great admiration. They were excellent Ministers, but when the economy of the country is in a mess, as it was in 1951—in that year alone the cost of living rose by 12 points—the first people to suffer are those on pensions and small fixed incomes.
In 1951, we gave this matter top priority, and early in 1952 we raised the basic war pension by 10s. Since then, we have practically doubled it from what it was in 1951. The single retirement pension has had the same treatment, with the result that its real value today is over 10s. more than it was in 1951.
During the General Election, I found that the question of pensions was not nearly such a burning topic as it was in the General Elections of 1950 and 1951. I think that the reason is that in 1950 and 1951 the pension, as I say, was at a low ebb, and war pensioners, in particular, were very concerned about it. I know that great temptations were dangled before the old people in the last election, and the sheer charm of what was known as the "Labour Party's public school T.V. team" put over their new proposals for increases in pensions in what I would have thought was probably 572 a way which would be attractive to the old-age pensioners. But they did not seem to be very much influenced by all the propaganda. I found that the old people and the war pensioners remained completely confident that a Conservative Government would look after them in the future as they have done in the past.
In our manifesto, the Conservative Party said:We pledge ourselves to ensure that pensioners will continue to share in the good things which a steadily expanding economy will bring".As I say, I think that the pensioners themselves are confident that we will do that, and we must do that.
There is, however, one point of detail in the manifesto for which there was not room in the Gracious Speech. It concerns a matter very dear to my heart and for which I have campaigned over several years. I have raised it several times in the House. What we said in our manifesto was:Particular attention will be given to providing more suitable vehicles for the badly disabled.I hope that the Government will follow that up immediately, and that it will mean that the antiquated invalid tricycles which are issued now to the badly disabled, both war disabled and civilian disabled, who have lost their limbs, will be replaced by some form of two-seater car such as one sees on the roads in large numbers today.
I know all the objections which have been put forward to the introduction of such two-seaters. There is the old objection that the war-disabled man may not drive it himself and that his wife will probably drive it. What does it matter if she does? I maintain—and I know that in this I have the support of many hon. Members on both sides of the House—that the very last people who should be made to travel alone, particularly on the roads as they are today, are the badly disabled. I urge most strongly that we should not lose sight of that important little sentence in the manifesto which has not been repeated in the Gracious Speech and that the Minister of Health particularly will press ahead with the project. By doing that, we shall be giving great comfort to a section of the community to whom we ought to give the very first priority.
§ 12.42 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Hill (Midlothian)
In rising to make my maiden speech I recognise my limitations, and I hope the House will bear with me in my effort.
I shall not speak about youth, although I recognise the importance of the subject. I want to speak about something in the Gracious Speech as it affects my constituency. The Gracious Speech indicates that the Government are entering into a trade agreement with the Outer Seven. I regret that the Government have so far paid no heed to the warnings given by the paper industry about what is likely to happen when that agreement is signed. In my constituency there are 2,500 workers who, with their families, depend upon the industry, and for some time this subject has been causing great concern in Midlothian and also throughout Scotland.
During the last Parliament the Scottish mill owners approached the then President of the Board of Trade asking that some protection should be given to the industry. I regret to say that those approaches did not get very far. Under the proposed agreement the quota on imported paper will be progressively reduced over the next ten years until it is completely eliminated. The Scottish paper industry has been trying to tell the Board of Trade and the Government that when that happens a flood of cheap Scandinavian paper will come into the country at prices with which our people cannot afford to compete. Because of that, the paper industry and local authorities have been trying to get some concessions from the Board of Trade in order to protect the industry.
It seems strange to me—I am prepared to admit that I am not an expert in any way—that while Norway can get some protection for its fishing industry and Denmark some protection for its agricultural and pig industries, we cannot get some protection for our paper industry.
In Penicuik, Midlothian, 80 per cent. of the population are wholly dependent upon the paper industry. One can appreciate that if the present policy continues Penicuik, a fairly thriving burgh at the moment, will at the end of ten years become another derelict area. If there were alternative industry to absorb the men
574 and women workers in the paper industry when they became unemployed it would not be so bad, but at the moment we have no alternative industry to absorb the unemployed in Midlothian. The Midlothian County Council has been trying for a considerable time to get the Government to ensure that light industry goes to Midlothian, but so far we have been unsuccessful.
I was the convenor of the Midlothian Planning Committee, and I know that in the county's draft development plan many sites have been zoned for industry. We have the sites and the labour but so far we have not got the industry. I beg the new President of the Board of Trade to look at the paper industry again, because it affects Scotland from Aberdeenshire to Berwickshire, and in my constituency what may happen will have a tremendous effect upon the social life of the community. The Government ought again to look at the question of the paper industry and the agreement with the Outer Seven.
I regret that the Gracious Speech says nothing about the Government's policy for the coal industry. I notice that it was made public by the National Coal Board yesterday that ten more pits are to be closed next year in Scotland, involving 3,300 miners. The miners in Scotland are gravely concerned about their future. I can speak with authority here, for I have been a miner for forty years. Our men are wondering what will happen and when it will happen. I was present at the meeting in 1940, to which reference has already been made, when we in the mining industry were told how good we were and that if only we pulled our weight the country would never forget us. That does not seem to be working out now.
I am told by various people that coal is on the way out and that in future oil will be used to run this country's industries. Surely there is a place for coal in our economy? Surely it is wrong to displace the thousands of miners anticipated by the Coal Board within the next five years without providing alternative industry to absorb them. I do not want anyone to think that I am advocating that our men should spend the rest of their lives down the pits if they can get jobs somewhere else, for I am not. Unlike the hon. Member who has already 575 mentioned this question, I think that, with a co-ordinated fuel policy, coal can still take its place in the economy of this country.
I represent 10,000 miners in my constituency. Some of them within the last few years have been redundant, and now there is every possibility that, on travelling from what was termed a derelict area, a problem which my hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison), who is sitting in front of me, knows, they are going to find themselves again redundant, and possibly may have to take up their roots and transfer somewhere else for work. The miner is asking only for the right to work.
In the Gracious Speech there is no indication of what is to happen to the shale oil industry, and on this I should like to take up where my predecessor the hon. Member for Midlothian left off. He advocated in this House on many occasions that the tax on shale oil should be removed. At the moment on home-produced oil there is a tax of 1s. 3d. per gallon, and I understand that all it brings to the Treasury is £650,000 per year. Surely it would be better for the economy of the country to remove that tax, to take the stranglehold off the shale oil industry, which, in Scotland, can supply a large part of the transport. I would, then, beg of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that, when he considers his Budget, if not before, this tax should be removed. The people responsible for shale oil are on record as saying that if this tax were removed they would be prepared to spend money to develop shale oil production more than is being done at the moment, but because that tax is there they are unable to do so.
I represent the County of Midlothian, the premier county of Scotland, a county which has great political traditions, the county that returned to this House one of the greatest Premiers Great Britain ever had, Mr. Gladstone. I should like to make a passing reference to my predecessor, the late Mr. David Pryde—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear"]—who, I understand, was a very respected Member of this House, respected on both sides—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear"]—and I hope that I shall be 576 worthy to fill his place and carry on the traditions of this county which has sent me to represent it in Parliament. I thank hon. Members for their patience with me.
§ 12.53 p.m.
§ Mr. R. P. Hornby (Tonbridge)
My first duty—and it is the first time I have had this duty—is to congratulate the hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. J. Hill) very sincerely on his maiden speech. Little did I think that, when it fell to me to congratulate a hon. Member on his maiden speech, I should be congratulating the victor in the latest Midlothian campaign. It seemed to me something which could not historically ever happen to me. I do congratulate the hon. Member. He has spoken with great sincerity and conviction on behalf of his constituents, and that, after all, is for each of us our foremost duty. The hon. Member has made his points about the paper industry and the coal industry, and others on which, if he will forgive me, I shall not follow him, because I wish to return to the main theme of the debate; but I think he has made a notable speech on behalf of those he represents, and I wish him very well when he makes similar contributions.
From the time when the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood) opened the debate we have had a great many suggestions for increased expenditure on education and the youth services, expenditure on those who are at school and those who have left school. Every single one, or very nearly every one, of those suggestions I think commands one by one our support and enthusiasm, whether it be for swimming pools or running tracks—though I think there may be little more difference about whether and where Mr. Gordon Pirie should travel. There have been a great many suggestions for a great many projects all of them demanding the expenditure of public money.
The question in this debate, as in many others, is surely which come first and in what order. This is the problem in education within the Ministry of Education; it is the problem also as between one social service and another; it is the problem also as between expenditure of public money on things which are going to help us earn our living and expenditure on the other hand on things which 577 are going to help us enjoy our leisure and recreation. I suggest that with our enthusiasm for these subjects, the youth services and education, we should not lose sight of the importance of deciding where our priorities lie and asking ourselves what will be the total effect of increased expenditure on these and other things on the earning capacity of the nation. If we forget these things, I believe that we shall forget them at very great cost even to the things which we are discussing and enthusing over.
Let me try to concentrate briefly on my own priorities, the priorities affecting, first of all, all those who are at school, secondly the priorities affecting those who have left school. First, those at school. What are the first priorities? As I see them, in the Government's education policy there is the question of the all-age schools which are still with us fifteen years after the 1944 Education Act. I think that perhaps that comes first and foremost especially in what we are trying to do with the rural re-organisation programme.
Secondly, we have to acknowledge the problems of over-size classes, the very large number of over-full classes all over the country. We are still faced with the very limited objectives of 30 in secondary classes and 40 in primary classes. That is our next priority. Third, and linked with that one, and perhaps most important of all, we need more teachers, and, if possible, better teachers, too. Fourthly, we have to make progress, for reasons of national survival, in making major provision for better and more technical education. My right hon. Friend will correct me if I have placed the emphasis wrongly, but I believe that these are the immediate objectives of education policy, and I believe that by and large they are the right objectives.
Of course, there is more we want to do. In every single one of our constituencies we could underline slum schools, weaknesses in the youth services, the shortage of youth leaders, and so on, but I have named the priorities, and in anything which I may say later about the youth services I do not want to be understood to mean that I want to put the youth services above these priorities, these things at the top of the list, as I believe they are at the present time.
578 Let me make one or two comments on those priorities and how we can move on from them. I believe our biggest single problem over the next two or three years concerns the supply of teachers. It is people that count in education, in the schools and in the youth services, and it is people who should be put at the top of our list. After all, if we have a good headmaster we shall have a good school, and if we have a good staff we shall have good education. People are more important than buildings, although buildings play their part, too; but it is good people who produce a good school and good children coming from it, and I believe that the supply of teachers is the biggest problem with which my right hon. Friend must concern himself over the next few months.
We all know that there are very special problems about this. At the moment I believe the original estimates for the supply of teachers have been falsified, partly by the unexpected buoyancy of the birth rate, partly by the increased staying on at school, and partly—and, perhaps, this is what we should look at most—the wastage of teachers. More people are leaving the teaching profession. Teachers are coming in, but we are not keeping enough.
The plans that we have for teacher training colleges are the bare minimum. I hope my right hon. Friend will look carefully at the figure and satisfy himself that he has got enough. Secondly, it is possible to make more use of part-time teachers. This is particularly true in the case of women teachers in primary schools. As soon as the crisis in the secondary schools caused by the bulge in the birth rate is over, the Minister should begin to think about concentrating as much of his resources as possible on the primary stage. The child who gets off to a bad start in the primary stage finds it difficult to catch up. We have a major problem in the secondary schools which has been brought on by the bulge. It will gradually pass, and I hope that as soon as my right hon. Friend finds it possible to do so he will switch some resources back to the primary schools.
Under the quota scheme, there is one thing that might be done at the present time to meet the demands for teachers. 579 It so happens that there are people who would and could teach in primary schools. I am thinking of married women who can only teach in areas where their husbands live but who, by the workings of the quota scheme, cannot teach because their particular area may have reached its quota. If I am right about that, if the regulation could make allowances for individual circumstances, we would get a few more teachers, particularly in primary schools. I am thinking of teachers who have married and left the profession. This would make up for one of the sources of wastage.
I realise that my next point about teachers is a thorny one. I am not happy about the salary scales for teachers. Money is one of the influences on the recruitment of teachers, as it is on recruitment for almost any profession. The teacher is well paid when he starts, and the longer he stays in the profession the worse he is paid, when compared with other professions. This is a difficult problem and I know that the Burnham Committee has considered it. A great impetus would be given to our standards of education if we could so weight the scales that there are better rewards at the top.
My other point about conditions in schools rather than conditions after leaving school is this. I hope that during the educational debates in this Parliament, though I realise that this is sometimes viewed with suspicion, we may have more discussions about what we teach in schools and what the curriculum is, than about the organisation of secondary education, which I do not regard as the major problem. This latter is a point on which there were political differences that were fought out at election time. The teachers and what is taught in schools is what we should concentrate on more than anything else in our discussions on education.
I now turn to matters affecting those who have left school. One point made by the hon. Member for Rossendale concerned the employment of school leavers. We all recognise that there is a problem here because a large number of children will be leaving school from now on. The prospects for school leavers are completely and utterly linked with the prospects of every 580 other person looking for a job. One cannot separate the problem of school leavers as sharply as has been done in some of our discussions. I do not want to go over the individual points that emerged out of the Carr Report, because I spoke on this in the last Session, but I want to remind the House of one point. The prospects for school leavers are dependent upon the prosperity of our economy and are linked with the prospects of all our industries and other employments also.
The next points concern the youth services. What are we trying to do? One gets many suggestions, but I think we usually come back to the question: exactly what are we trying to do? I suppose we are trying to provide decent enjoyable facilities for leisure. We are also trying to encourage the idea of voluntary service and the practice of it.
We want leaders. We want leaders in the voluntary organisations as well as leaders employed by local education authorities. We should not underestimate the continuing and growing importance of the voluntary organisations. I was impressed by the point made by the hon. Gentleman that he would welcome more use of joint councils of one sort or another. I think he was referring to sport and bodies connected with it. That is important for sporting organisations, youth organisations and also for partnership between local education authorities and voluntary organisations. I suppose most of us could point to cases where there have been signs of friction and jealousy between one and the other. This can do nothing but harm to both and the causes they are trying to serve.
Wherever we can, or wherever it may not exist at the present time, there should be some sort of joint council to bring these bodies together and examine in what way they can best share their resources and make provision for the varying interest of the people of their locality. If this can be done, so much the better, because there will be a better use of the resources in that area.
The hon. Gentleman attached importance to national prestige in sport. I know this is reported in considerable detail in the newspapers and I have no doubt that prestige has accrued to Sweden because of her lamentable victory over England last Wednesday. 581 Far more important than the financing of teams going abroad is the provision of facilities in this country. I am not prepared to support ideas for financing Mr. Gordon Pirie's trips abroad and that sort of thing until we have done what needs to be done in terms of our running tracks, gymnasia, or whatever it may be. National prestige comes at the bottom of the list. Those sports writers who write about national prestige do no service to the games that they serve. If they described the game rather than talked about national prestige I, for one, would be grateful to them.
Finally, there are a great many things that want doing and we want to see done. We know that the proportion of the national income spent on education has to be decided in conjunction with what old-age pensioners and others claim, but I am convinced that the amount of money spent on education must rise with our increasing national income. If we want education to have a bigger share of the national income than it has at present, then in all honesty we must say what should receive less, and I have not heard a single word about that in the debate. If we propose a larger slice of the national income to one of our social services, we must also say which should have a smaller slice.
My hon. Friend will have a wealth of advice in the months ahead from the Wolfenden Committee on Sport, the Albemarle Committee on the Youth Service and the Crowther Committee. It is arguable that in some subjects which we have raised it would be premature to take action before we have received the evidence of those Committees, unless it is to be received much later than we hope. I should like to hear any prophecies as to when this evidence will be available. When this evidence is available to my right hon. Friend I hope that he will be able to take some of the action to which we all look forward and that he will regard his transition from the Board of Trade back to the Ministry of Education as being "Paradise Regained" rather than "Paradise Lost".
§ Mr. Harry Gourlay (Kirkcaldy Burghs)
I trust that the House will bear with me and grant me the customary indulgence in what is my very difficult task of addressing the House for the 582 first time. The other great difficulty under which I labour is that I sit here in place of one who throughout many years won the highest esteem and regard of hon. Members in all parts of the House. I refer to Mr. Tom Hubbard, who was a popular Member of the House. I should like to pay my tribute to the work which he did in the House on behalf of the Kirkcaldy Burghs constituency.
Unlike Mr. Hubbard, I am not a miner, but I was reared in a mining family and I well remember the hardships and indignities of the years of rationalisation—not nationalisation—and depression in the 1920's and early 1930's. I regret that no reference is made in the Gracious Speech to the difficulties in the coal industry today. Arising from the policy of concentration adopted by the National Coal Board at one of the largest pits in my constituency, the Wellesley colliery, 45 men are being made redundant immediately, with the threat of another 230 by May of next year. Since this colliery is by no means the most uneconomic pit in the area, a feeling of fear and insecurity has spread among the mining population in the area, to such an extent that the wastage in the past few weeks has averaged about nine per week, consisting, unfortunately, mostly of the younger men, who are joining the Armed Forces. While the Board's policy may be failing in one respect, it appears that it has become a most successful recruiting officer for Her Majesty's Forces.
In addition to this drift of young miners away from the industry, only 25 school leavers have been recruited this year into the industry, compared with approximately 200 in 1957. If this position is allowed to persist, the industry will eventtually become over-weighted with older personnel. These unfortunate circumstances are due, in my opinion, to the lack of a national fuel policy and the lack of sufficient funds being allocated by the Government for research into the numerous potential by-products of coal.
In shipbuilding a serious position prevails in Kirkcaldy and Burntisland, where the labour force in the local shipyards has been reduced from 1,800 men in 1957 to about 700 at the present time, along with a substantial reduction in overtime, with all the consequences of reduced purchasing power in the community.
583 I turn to the question or youth employment. A serious trend is becoming evident by the latest figures of the Youth Employment Service. In the year ending July, 1958, £1,250 of unemployment benefit was paid in my constituency to unemployed persons below the age of 17, compared with £3,526 in the year ending July, 1959. That is an increase of over 100 per cent. in unemployment benefit in a period when, we are told, we have "never had it so good". In the light of all these factors, it is surely crystal-clear that there is a strong case for the Government to take action immediately to provide alternative light industries in the constituency.
As a former vice-chairman of Fife County Education Committee, I should like to make a brief reference to education. The major bogy of education in Scotland at present is, in my opinion, not so much the system of promotion from primary to secondary education as the serious shortage of qualified teachers, particularly in the secondary schools.
The Gracious Speech makes no reference whatever to attracting more graduates into the profession. It is well-known that industry offers attractive salaries and perquisites to those leaving the universities, while those graduates who take up the teaching profession have to undertake a further year in a training college, with an inadequate bursary from the education authority, and then, to add to the indignity, they have to wait a further eighteen to twenty years before qualifying for their maximum salary. There would be a considerable number of major changes in the Government if the same criterion of experience were required before one became a Minister.
In Fife, where we are short of some 200 teachers, which is approximately 10 per cent. of the teaching force, 146 of the vacancies are in secondary schools. There are also some 80 over-sized classes. This is not a problem which has just emerged but one well-known to the Government for several years. Yet, despite the representations made by Fife County Education Committee and many other authorities, no alteration whatever has been made in the scales to reduce the qualifying period for receiving the maximum salary. This is a condition which would not be tolerated 584 in any other industry or profession. Unless the Government take some drastic and immediate action we shall soon reach the calamitous position where the pool of highly educated manpower, so essential to the economic survival of this country, will be irretrievably submerged.
In Kirkcaldy Burghs we have possibly the most active branches of the Old-Age Pensioners' Association in the country. Despite what hon. Members opposite may say, I can assure the Government that the pensioners, at least in my constitutency, are far from satisfied with their treatment during the past eight years. I therefore hope that the promise in the Gracious Speech to attend to the needs of the old people will be implemented by an immediate and substantial increase in old-age pensions.
I have taken this opportunity to focus attention on some of the problems affecting my constituency and other parts of the country. If the Government can deal effectively with them, then at least some of Scotland's problems will be solved.
§ 1.19 p.m.
§ Mr. J. C. Jennings (Burton)
It is a very great pleasure and privilege to follow the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy Burghs (Mr. Gourlay) on his taking the first hurdle which one meets when one reaches the House—his maiden speech. Unlike him, I cannot give the word "Kirkcaldy" its correct pronunciation, but it is appropriate that I should follow him because I am sure that my forebears robbed his and his forebears robbed mine.
I come from the County of Durham, and once we had a Prince Bishop there who defended Durham against the marauding Scots. It is, therefore, appropriate that I should follow the hon. Member for, although we may be potential political enemies, there is an example from history in the fact that our two countries are now friends. In the speech of the hon. Member this afternoon, there was a forthrightness, firmness and sincerity and a grasp of his subjects that will certainly appeal to the House, which will be quite anxious to hear more from him.
I was delighted to see in the Gracious Speech a reference to the Youth Service. There is an implied promise that the 585 Youth Service will be expanded and developed, and for a moment or two I want to confine my remarks to this subject. The changed conditions of modern youth necessitate a completely new look at our youth organisations for the future. Much has been said about modern youth, and I should be the last to denigrate it. I think that modern youth is neither any better nor any worse than we were.
§ Mr. Jennings
My hon. Friend says "Better." I am not so sure. The whole point is that they have better opportunities, they have any amount of surplus energy, they have more time than we had, and they certainly have more spending money—indeed, more spending money than almost any other section of the community. These facts must be borne in mind when we look at the problem of modern youth. They certainly have more than their parents ever had to spend. This constitutes a new challenge not only to authority, but to modern youth itself.
As some hon. Members have said, when we talk about youthful delinquency, we must remember that it is the bad boys and girls who are headlined in the Press, not the good boys or girls. Therefore, it is as well to keep this question of delinquency in its proper perspective. It is true that it is bad enough, and it has to be dealt with, but it is significant that in the various agencies of the Youth Service that are available in this country, it is estimated that about 30 per cent. of the age group between 15 and 21 use those agencies. Personally, I think, that the estimate is just a little high, but it is an approximate estimation.
In addition to that, we must remember that there is a very large section of this youth community which is using most of its spare time for study. Some are staying on at school after the age of 15, many go on to training colleges and universities, and a very substantial number attend evening classes and go on studying. I would say that that proportion alone would go well towards representing 20 per cent. of the age group of 15 to 21, and I do not think I am 586 exaggerating. In terms of occupation of leisure time in an educational and utilitarian way, we dispose of about 50 per cent. of the age group. It is the other 50 per cent. that causes us to consider this very great problem, and it is because of this 50 per cent. that we are in need of two things in our approach to the youth question.
First, there must be expansion and improvement in the youth services of this country, which would certainly need more money. Above all, we must search for new ideas, first in the approach to youth, and, secondly, in the carrying out and the practice of youth services, the organisation of youth clubs and the things that are done in youth clubs. Therefore, as my hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge (Mr. Hornby) said, we must look at the priorities. I agree with him wholeheartedly that in the question of the youth services the priority must be people, not necessarily premises. I will deal with premises in a short while.
The greatest problem facing the Youth Service is the shortage of fully qualified youth leaders, and I suggest that that is the first thing that we should look at. Before the war, we used to hear a lot in education about the three R's, and just after my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) got to work on the 1944 Education Act, we heard a lot about the three A's—age, aptitude and ability. In the Youth Service, I suggest that we should hear a lot about the three S's, particularly in regard to youth leaders—status, salaries and security. Unless we have these three, we shall have no recruitment to the positions of youth leaders, and, secondly, we shall not have a successful and sound Youth Service.
I have certain suggestions which I should like to put to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education and his colleagues. We must improve the status of the youth leader. We must give him a salary commensurate with his job which will lift his status and will be equivalent, in effect, to a Burnham scale salary. We must give him security in that respect, especially with regard to his pension rights. It is because of these needs that I want to make the following suggestions.
587 First, I should like to see the integration of the youth leaders into the teaching profession. That may not look quite so good at the start, but certain advantages would follow. First, the youth leader would get the benefit of a secure national scale of salary. Secondly, it would give him as a youth leader mobility and interchangeability with another profession, and this is most important. I had long experience before I came to this House in running youth clubs, and I can say that there are times when we talk about modern youth when I feel very old. I feel that I have lost contact with their outlook, and that I do not talk the same language.
A youth leader reaches the stage by middle age, round about 45, when he feels as if he is losing his grip on his job, but he looks to the future and says "I must hold on to this." Specialists in physical education experience exactly the same feeling. If they could feel that when they reached that stage they could move into the teaching profession and do much useful work there, without losing their salary increments or their pension rights, they would have obtained the one thing that counts—security. Give them that and we shall get far more recruits to the ranks of the Youth Service leaders than we are getting at the moment.
The second thing is that we have a glorious opportunity to pinpoint this question of youth leadership in the establishment of the three-year courses at the training colleges. I do not suggest that we should start separate colleges for training youth leaders, but what I do suggest—and this is not original—is that more colleges should provide courses which specialise in youth service as a main subject. That would tie up with the first point I made. It would give those in the teaching service the opportunity to transfer, if they wished, and also give the educational service the opportunity of counting on a substantial number of fully qualified leaders.
Over the years I have seen advertisements from some authorities, not many, for personnel to do part-time teaching and part-time Youth Service work. I think that is something which my right hon. Friend might explore. A man or woman might teach part of the week in school and then for part of the week 588 run a youth club. All that is very fair, but we shall get nowhere unless we have a national co-ordinating body to guide and advise the Youth Service. Again, this is not an original thought, but we should appoint a national central authority, call it what we will, with responsibility for the Service. I go a step further and say that we should have considerable devolution to the areas.
What should be the work of such an authority? It should be responsible for the financing of the Service and for grants, especially to both the local authorities and the voluntary organisations. It should be responsible for the recruitment of leaders and—this is an important thing—for guidance and advice in the search for new techniques and ideas. Lastly, it should always have in mind in the government of this Service a full recognition of the part played by voluntary bodies.
Here I wish to say something to the youth leaders and organisers, because I think it important that it should be said. Statistically, as we have seen, they are a small body. They are a hard-working, loyal and conscious body and they are perturbed about some of the conditions under which they have to work. They have organised themselves into two associations in order to apply pressure and for their own protection, and we have this horrible amalgamation of initials—N.A.L.G.A.Y.L.—which is the National Association of Local Government Authority Youth Leaders, and the N.A.L.E.A.Y.O.—the National Association of Local Education Authority Youth Organisers. This is the cult of initials gone completely haywire, but it means something more. Here we have in the country a nucleus of youth leaders and organisers employed by local authorities split into two separate organisations. When representatives have come to interview the Conservative Parliamentary Education Committee the first fact that the Committee has had to establish is which organisation they represented. As right hon. and hon. Members know full well, in the teaching profession we have seen the mal-effect of splinter organisations and splits in professional bodies.
In my own profession, the teaching profession, I want to see one umbrella covering all teachers whether men or 589 women. If my advice to youth leaders and organisers is worth anything at all, I would say that they should cut away from splinter organisations and get under one umbrella. Then they would be able to exercise far greater influence and we, as legislators, or would-be legislators, would know exactly where we were.
I said that people were more important than premises, but premises present a great problem to the Youth Service. I have run youth clubs in some horrible places and got away with it, and we enjoyed ourselves. But it is the fact that one-third of the children in this country are now being taught in new schools built since the end of the war. I give credit to Governments from both sides of the House for providing those new schools. As an ex-headmaster I know exactly the feelings of a headmaster when he is asked by, or told by, the board of managers or the governors that his school is to be used for two nights in the week as a youth club. I know the damage which can be done by irresponsible members of a youth club—the tearing down of demonstration drawings from the walls and so on. It is a psychological problem as well as one of administration.
The answer lies in discipline, and the whole question of our youth problem is based on discipline. That is why we need good youth leaders to see that the discipline in the clubs is firm, yet kindly. I am suggesting that more schools should be used by youth organisations and that it should be their responsibility to see that the premises are used in a right way—or else. That is the only answer, but I think there is something else which we might look at.
When we are planning our new schools, particularly for the new towns or urban areas, we should regard a new secondary modern school, for example, more as a community centre than specifically as a school, and provision should be made in the building plans for that sort of thing. Such a co-ordinating council or committee as has been suggested should make sure that voluntary organisations are helped financially far more than in the past in order to bring their premises up-to-date, to make them better and more comfortable.
Just as I believe in a mixed system in the basic educational system in this country so I believe in a mixed system 590 in our organisation of the Youth Service. In other words, I wish to see local authority clubs and voluntary clubs running side by side. In that sense, we must have both unity and diversity. That is the job of the co-ordinating council, or whatever we like to call it.
What are the aims of the Youth Service? Is it to be aimed at delinquents or potential delinquents? We cannot cure the problem of delinquency simply by providing youth clubs, although such a provision will help. Are we to aim at recreational facilities only or cultural, educational or moral facilities? I think the deciding factor must be modern youth and what modern youth requires. It needs a combination of all those aims. That is why I say, in summing up, that in addition to people and premises the prime need now is for an entirely new look at the needs and problems of our Youth Service. The first question to get down is that of the new techniques and ideas required to deal with an entirely new type of youth in this age and generation.
§ 1.40 p.m.
§ Mr. R. E. Prentice (East Ham, North)
I do not propose to follow the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings) in the details of the proposals which he has put forward. I am sure the whole House welcomes the sense of urgency which he introduced into his speech in talking about the Youth Service.
The sentence in the Gracious Speech on this matter could mean a lot or a little. It is a vague declaration of good intentions. When the hon. Gentleman opposite says, with the sincerity which he obviously feels, that we have got to have expansion, that the Service has got to cost money and that we have got to have new personnel and give new status to the youth leaders, I hope that represents a mood which is common to many hon. Members opposite, which will penetrate Government circles and will be carried out.
I want to range rather more widely than many speakers in the debate have done today, although I want to say something in a moment about the question of youth employment. I would like to put the matter in the context of the Gracious Speech and make this general comment on it. Practically all the speeches made from this side of the 591 House and the majority of the speeches made from the benches opposite since last Tuesday have dealt with the things that are not in the Gracious Speech rather than with those which are in it. The reason for that is that the Gracious Speech this year is empty of any major piece of legislation. This is something about which, I think, we ought all to be concerned as Members of Parliament.
When the Prime Minister spoke on Tuesday he used the following words:Conservativism, as I understand it and have seen it develop over the years, has never meant a negative policy of keeping things as they are.
§ Mr. W. Yates rose—
§ Mr. Prentice
May I finish this point and then I will give way to the hon. Gentleman?
I do not want to enter into an argument about the Conservative Party's past which is implied there, although I rather differ from the interpretation of the Prime Minister. Whatever Conservatism may or may not have meant in the past, if the present Gracious Speech is an indication of the kind of programme which the Government are going to bring forward, then things are going to be left as they are. There are some minor alterations in the betting laws and in horticultural marketing, and so on, but no major legislation is forecast.
§ Mr. Yates
I think the hon. Gentleman will be interested if he will refer to the following phrase in the Gracious Speech:The Commonwealth Education Conference which met last July made a number of recommendations designed to spread the benefits of education more widely within the Commonwealth.I want the hon. Gentleman to note the next sentence:The consequential legislation will be laid before you.
§ Mr. Prentice
I note that sentence, and I agree that if one takes the Gracious Speech as a whole there are a number of Bills proposed, many of them useful and non-controversial, of which the hon. Gentleman has just given an example. What I am saying is that there is no major legislation. All these items would be a respectable backcloth to two or three major Measures which 592 one would have expected that a Government which had just won a victory at the poll and had been returned with a big majority would have a programme for carrying out. We cannot expect hon. Members opposite to carry out the programme in which we believe, but we think that they ought to have ideas of their own.
Many things which would commend general support in the House could have been brought forward. One thinks at once of the recommendations of the Gowers Committee which nominally have the support of both sides of the House. One thinks of the need to expand the National Health Service, and especially the hospital service, which do not got a mention in the Gracious Speech but which were featured in the election manifestoes of both parties. One thinks of the demand that has existed for many years for a new system of insurance and compensation of the victims of criminal assault. There are all sorts of reforms which could have been mentioned in the Gracious Speech but which are not.
Among the items which I wanted to see in the Speech—and this is coming back to the main theme of the debate—was some reference to the urgent question of youth employment. I disagree with the hon. Member for Tonbridge (Mr. Hornby) who suggested that this was just one facet of the general problem of full employment. Of course, it is tied up with that, but we ought to recognise—and the Government ought to recognise—the real urgency of the crisis which is approaching in the employment prospects for young people.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood) reminded the House when he opened the debate today, we have at the moment just over 4 million young people in the country between the ages of 15 and 20. Within the next three to five years that number is going to increase by something like 1 million. Simultaneously, during that period it is the intention of the Government to end National Service. In other words, there is going to be a need for over 1 million extra jobs for boys and girls between the ages of 15 and 20. A sense of urgency is needed in this matter which should have been expressed in some positive way in the Gracious Speech.
593 My hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy Burghs (Mr. Gourlay), who today made a maiden speech which we all enjoyed, pointed out that already in his area, before the main bulge has entered the labour market and before the end of National Service, there has been a drastic increase in unemployment among young people. He gave figures showing the extra unemployment benefit being paid.
In my own constituency of East Ham, which is an area of higher employment than is average throughout the country, there is already a problem in placing young people and in finding firms which will give them training and apprenticeships. If that is the case now, it is obviously going to be all the more urgent a problem in the next few years. I believe that it is the most important problem in connection with youth. Vital as are the other problems of the Youth Service, the use of leisure and so on, they are subsidiary compared with the major question of whether or not young people when they leave school will have worthwhile jobs and, where necessary, a choice of jobs. Unless we take steps to deal with the matter we shall have a frustrated generation with all the terrible social consequences that will flow from it.
I wish to make two further points in this connection. The first is that it is absolutely essential, if this problem is to be tackled at all, that there should be industrial expansion every year. If we had a trade recession in this country and a slackening of demand the consequences upon the younger generation would be far more serious than those upon any other section of the community. The first thins; employers would do, before they started introducing short time and making people redundant, would be to cease taking on new workers. Therefore, the proportional effect on the young people would be more serious than on any other group of the community.
If we had another balance of payments crisis, as we had in 1957, and if the Government dealt with it as they did then, by instituting the credit squeeze and a high Bank Rate, there would be the most terrible consequences on the employment of youth. We cannot afford the stops and starts in the level of production that we have seen in the last eight years under a Conservative Government.
594 My other point is that this matter is obviously allied with the question of apprenticeships. All of us who follow this problem must have welcomed the Carr Committee's Report. We gave general support to the Government when they followed up that Committee's recommendation by forming the Industrial Training Council, making it a grant and allowing the Council to appoint training officers to advise firms on these problems. But all that Council is able to do is to advise and to exhort employers to play their part. Time is running out and industry is not meeting this challenge.
The Carr Committee rightly pointed out that we should not regard the bulge in the population as an embarrassing problem but- as an opportunity to industry to have available to it the extra number of skilled and trained people of which it is short in so many fields. This could be an opportunity to introduce the extra number of trained people that our economy so badly needs. But industry generally is not keeping up with the problem and time is running out.
I think that the Gracious Speech should have included a Measure along these lines. It should have imposed a special levy or tax on all firms which employ skilled workers. It should then have paid back a rebate to those firms which were willing to expand their training facilities. In other words, it should deliberately have penalised the firms who did not play their part and should have encouraged those who did.
I think that the Government should also have done something else. They should have started training centres for the training of young people, particularly in those areas where there is a need for something extra, something besides the efforts of local authorities. At any rate, I hope there will be a new sense of urgency in dealing with this problem before it is too late.
I said earlier that I wanted to range more widely in my remarks than the general scope of the debate today. I want to say a word about the problems of old age. When the hon. and gallant Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth) was addressing the House he referred to the election argument about pensions and to the statements in the Conservative manifesto by which it was promised that the Government would continue to take care 595 of the pensioners. Yet, in fact, we see in the Gracious Speech no proposal to raise pensions, no proposal to do anything except to amend the earnings rule.
Most of us probably welcome what we think the Government have in mind about the earnings rule, but we recognise that that will affect only men under 70 and women under 65 who are able to go out to work and will not affect the majority of pensioners. I think the Government should come clean on this matter. I should like the hon. Gentleman on the Government Front Bench to convey to the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance the need to make a clear statement on this question.
I think it should be confirmed or contradicted that the Government have no intention whatever of raising the basic level of pensions for at least two years. The reason I say two years is based on these two pieces of evidence: first, there is no proposal in this Gracious Speech, which means that nothing is intended within the next twelve months; and, secondly, the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance is at the moment working out details of the Government's new pension scheme, introduced by the National Insurance Act of the last Session. It is full of complicated figures and calculations based on the existing flat-rate pension.
If a change were contemplated, all those figures would have to be altered and the Act of last Session would itself require amendment, but it is due to come into operation in April, 1961. That is about eighteen months ahead and, presumably, the Government intend that until April, 1961, and for some time beyond that, existing rates should apply. It would be far better if, instead of putting these vague and platitudinous phrases in their manifesto, they had told the public honestly that they had no intention of improving the rates.
It is now eighteen months since they were last adjusted, eighteen months in which there has been some rise in the cost of living and in the general standard of living so that the gap between the standard of living of the pensioners and the average standard of living has increased. If we have to look forward two or three years, or indefinitely, to no rise in the basic pension and no improvement in the conditions of most of 596 the pensioners, we shall see that gap grow wider. That is something I should hope people throughout the country, and, indeed, some hon. Members opposite, would regard as a scandal in this day and age. I hope that is something on which they will urge the Government to take some concrete action.
There is still a lot of fairly desperate poverty among old-age pensioners, widows, the chronic sick and other people struggling to make ends meet on small fixed incomes. In some ways I believe this poverty is harder to bear than the sort of poverty of the old Distressed Areas because it is more lonely. Down a street in any of our constituencies where most people are in regular work earning a fairly high salary, a widowed mother or an elderly couple have to struggle to keep up appearances with their neighbours. I hope this real social problem will receive some attention, even from this Government.
The last matter in which I want to say something is perhaps rather more controversial even than the question of pensions. I want to preface it by saying that I believe the duty of the Opposition in this Parliament is not only to attack the Government—and that, I hope, we shall do with gusto and energy—but also to advance whenever we can the positive proposals of the Labour Party. I do not think we did that sufficiently in the last Parliament. We should start doing it now and, quite deliberately, for a few moments I want to say something on the thorny question of public ownership.
When the Prime Minister spoke on Tuesday he made a jaunty reference to this and said that of course there is nothing in the Gracious Speech about renationalising the steel industry or re-nationalising road haulage. Other hon. Members have made passing reference to that, and the hon. Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore), now the deputy Father of the House, spoke of the problem of the coal industry in his constituency and suggested that nationalisation was at fault. I believe that we on this side of the House have to reiterate our belief in public ownership and have to do far more in this House and outside to explain why we believe in it. We should remind the public that the economy of this country, which is a high-level economy 597 but a vulnerable one, permanently requires a large degree of public planning and that the public planning should include the ownership by the nation of the basic industries.
We should say, moreover, that as it is one of our objectives as Socialists to move towards a more equal, more fair and more just society, one of the means we shall use towards that is to increase public ownership so that capital gains in the future go to the community as a whole and not solely to those who happen to be shareholders. As this argument develops, I should like to see three features of it high-lighted. First, we should not allow hon. Members opposite or their supporters outside, including the Conservative newspapers, to get away with all their cynical statements by which they put down every problem in the coal industry and the railway industry to a fault of nationalisation.
I was privileged to spend a few weeks in America this summer. There I heard Americans discussing the plight of the privately-owned railways, which are suffering from the fact that more people are using cars just as our railways are suffering from that fact. They discussed the plight of the privately-owned coalmining industry in the United States, which is suffering from the fact that more people are burning oil instead of coal, just as our coalmining industry here has the same problem.
We should remind the nation that there are certain industries in this country suffering from changing patterns of demand. Those include not only coal and transport, which are publicly-owned, but the cotton industry, which is privately-owned, the shipbuilding industry, which is privately-owned, and agriculture, which is privately-owned and cannot subsist without a substantial subsidy from public funds. We should not allow this stale propaganda technique of blaming everything on to nationalisation so far as coal and transport are concerned to go unanswered. We should say to the Government that in so far as Government policy has anything to do with this, a Conservative Government have been in office for eight years and they should have done far more to help those industries than they have done.
598 The second thing we should do if we are to be told over and over again by the organs of propaganda hostile to us that certain publicly-owned industries are in difficulty, is to make a lot more of the fact that some of the outstanding successes in British industry today are in the public sector. We ought to remind people that there is no industry in Britain with a more spectacular record of expansion than the electricity industry and that hardly any industry in Britain has raised its prices less in the last ten years than the electricity industry. We ought to remind the nation that the atomic energy industry has led the world in the commercial use of atomic power and that that is a nationalised industry.
Over and over again we heard the right hon. Gentleman who is now Minister of Transport, when he was Postmaster-General, telling us about new techniques and developments in the Post Office. Let us remind ourselves again of that spectacular progress in a nationalised industry. If we look overseas, we see that in the motor car industry the two most spectacular successes in Europe are those of Renault in France and Völkswagen in Germany, neither of which has private shareholders.
Perhaps surmounting all that is the fact that a rocket has gone to the moon and photographed the other side of the moon, and that was a nationalised rocket, not a private enterprise endeavour. Both at home and abroad, we are entitled to say, public ownership has produced some startling successes.
I have never been and I do not believe that most members of the Labour Party have ever been, certainly not now, doctrinaire on this matter. We believe that for a very long time our country will have to have a mixed economy, with a public sector and a private sector. When we talk of the public sector, we mean not only nationalisation, but other forms of public ownership as well. If we are to have an argument about the proper boundary between the public and private enterprise sector, the onus of proof is not always upon us. We should challenge hon. Members opposite and the Conservative Party generally on this argument and ask them what is the case for private ownership of, say, the steel industry.
599 Very large sums of money were poured out by the steel companies in an advertising campaign against public ownership, money which ultimately came from the public as consumers of steel and to some extent from the public as taxpayers. In all the fuss they made about the successes of the steel industry, they never told the nation what contribution was made by the private shareholders. The success of this industry was due to the workers, technicians and managers.
I would like someone, perhaps an hon. Member in this debate, to tell us what contribution the private shareholder made to the progress of the steel industry. The private shareholders do not now control the industry. It is controlled by the managers, by functional boards consisting of people who came up through the industry, and there is a measure of public control, even under a Conservative Government.
The private shareholder has certainly not provided the new capital of recent years. The industry has been able to get along without him in that connection. The private shareholder no longer takes a risk with his capital, because he is investing in an industry which is likely to expand under any kind of Government and from which he can expect a capital gain over the years. The private shareholder in steel is redundant. There is no noticeable difference between the conduct of Richard, Thomas and Baldwin, which is a firm without private shareholders, and the rest of the steel industry. Although he is redundant, he is allowed to continue in this position and to draw profits which are provided by the work of others and he can enjoy a capital gain from money which should go to the community. If we had a Government which put the public interest first, public ownership of steel would have been one of the measures in the Gracious Speech.
I repeat my hope that from these benches during this Parliament we will argue about this sort of issue and that we will take every opportunity we can to explain to the nation, in Parliament and outside, the constructive ideas of our party. There is every indication in the Gracious Speech that we shall have plenty of time to do so, because the 600 Government themselves will not be providing the House with a very big agenda with any major issues to discuss.
§ 2.3 p.m.
§ Mr. William Yates (The Wrekin)
I am very glad to have the opportunity of following the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice), who gave us an interesting post-election talk about his party's policy. I have the honour to represent an area concerned with coal, steel and transport. I should have thought that the result of the elections in 1951 and 1955 was vital in this argument, and I am very glad, indeed, that there is no mention in the Gracious Speech of any interference with the steel industry or with any other British industry which is serving the nation so well at the moment.
The chairman of the hon. Member's party is sitting behind him, and I hope that he enjoyed what the hon. Member said.
§ Mr. Yates
Never mind. You might get it next year—you never can tell.
In the hon. Gentleman's party there was a very experienced Attorney-General, Sir Hartley Shawcross, respected throughout the country as a man of considerable learning and wisdom. Speaking at the University of Leeds in May, 1957, Sir Hartley Shawcross said that where an industry was doing well we should not interfere with it and that where an industry, like I.C.I. or Unilevers, had vast international interests, both here and abroad, to nationalise it would be a disaster. That is my belief, and it is a belief shared by the country. I assure hon. Gentlemen opposite that if they continue with the argument, even if they change the name from nationalisation to rationalisation or common ownership or public ownership, the Labour Party will also lose the next election.
§ Mr. Prentice
Will the hon. Gentleman explain to the House in what way the success of, say, the steel industry is due to the private ownership of shares in that industry and in what way its successful operation—which we all admit and welcome—would be hampered if the shares became public property?
§ Mr. Yates
I am very glad to be here as the Member for The Wrekin, because this year we are celebrating the 250th anniversary of the Industrial Revolution and the great skill and enterprise of the Coalbrookdale Company and the risk its shareholders took in the foundation of the company concerned with iron and steel, an industry which made our country the greatest in the world in the last century. Shareholders contributed to that success and we believe that unless people will risk their money we shall not have such great companies now or in the future. We think that this is the best way for industries in this country to develop. I am not disputing the hon. Member's argument about outer space rockets not having shareholders. I would not mind being a shareholder in an outer space rocket, although I do not know what possible advantage I might gain out of it.
I for one—and hon. Friends with more experience of the City can argue the case better—strongly disagree with the hon. Member if he is suggesting that shareholders should receive no return. I appreciate that the hon. Member has a case in some respects, but he has not appreciated the one important difference. Services such as electricity and the Post Office are such that it can be argued that they should remain and be publicly owned. The public control of those services does not seem to have done our economy any great harm, but to start to control industries and the intricate day-to-day arrangements of industries seems to me to be absolute folly. At any rate, the hon. Member's party must argue it out. I have no time to pursue the matter here today.
The hon. Member tried to argue that from the Gracious Speech it appeared that the Government did not intend in the next two years, if at all, to increase the basic rate of pension for old-age pensioners, widows and service pensioners. With the record of the Conservative Government between 1951 and 1959 compared with that of the Socialist Government between 1945 and 1951, I should have thought that the chances of an increase were definitely more favourable under our economy than under a Socialist one.
Hon. Members opposite must remember that in 1950 the hon. Member for 602 Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) wrote in the Daily Mirror that under the Labour Party there had been soaring prices, profits and wages and that the old-age pensioner had been cheated out of his slice of the national cake. I suggest that the old-age pensioners will like the Tory cake better than they liked the Socialist one I am sorry to say it in that rather harsh way. I did not mean to be contemptuous about it.
§ Mr. Prentice
It is rather a pity that we should always go over the old ground again, but, in so far as we do go over it, it should be recognised that the postwar Labour Government made the biggest increase that has ever been made in the rate of pension. They increased the pension from 10s. to 26s. per week. It is true that we are saying that the National Insurance system introduced then needs to be reformed now in the light of experience. As the hon. Member knows, we put forward detailed plans for this. What does the hon. Member think of the prospect in the next few years, bearing in mind the point I raised earlier, of any increase in the present rate of pensions by the present Government?
§ Mr. Yates
I have a great misfortune in that I am not a member of the Government, but as I sit on these back benches I shall do my very best in the interests of my constituents to see that the three pensions—old age, widows and ex-Service—are increased. I am especially anxious about widows' pensions. When a lady is nearing the age of 50, ten years before she draws her old-age pension, then certain considerations ought to be made. I know that these problems are being considered by the Minister of Pensions, because I have to write to him about them.
I should like to see the National Assistance Board and the Ministry of Pensions combined under the same title of perhaps the Ministry of National and Home Security, or Welfare. If that were done, anyone needing any form of additional pension would not have to go to different offices. That is a terrible business now when such persons have to go from one end of the town to the other to obtain a form. All such business could be conducted in one building by one Government Department.
603 I mentioned that suggestion in my maiden speech. I raised eight points at that time, one of which covered Cyprus. Her Majesty's Government have been very helpful over the last four years and most of them have been granted to me, but certainly not my suggestions about the old-age pension, the widow's pension, and the combination of the National Assistance Board and the Ministry of Pensions.
I am afraid that I have been rather side-tracked by the interesting speech of the hon. Member for East Ham, North. I rose to put a few problems to the Government concerning my own constituency. All of us in Shropshire are very proud people, and we have every reason to be proud. Last night I attended the dinner of the Shropshire Society in London. That society was founded for the admirable purpose of protecting people like myself in the old days of 1790 when we had to leave the City and journey back through the roads and lanes all the way to the fair lands of Shropshire. The society looks after, as best it can, the interests of Shropshire people both in London and in the constituency. I do not suppose that many people realise that every single piece of the wood in this Chamber was taken to my constituency, to Newport, there marked and moved to London and put in this Chamber. That is but one example of why we have every reason to be proud.
I should now like to ask for the Government's attention in one or two matters. The Minister of Education came to visit us and was very helpful. I see that he has his notepaper there and his spectacles, so he can start writing these things down. It is remarkable that to cross a street in some of the small towns in one's constituency is more dangerous than trying to cross Piccadilly today. In the industrial areas most of the streets were not designed to carry the present weight of traffic. For example, in Hadley near Wellington there is the biggest wheel plant in England—Sankeys. That plant employs three to four thousand people. Then down the road there is the Combined Ordnance Depot, employing about three thousand people. The roads both round the Ordnance Depot at Donnington and 604 again at Sankeys are completely blocked during the times when people want to go to work and when they want to leave work.
In the offices of the Minister of Transport there is a plan to build a by-pass to alleviate the traffic in this area. It was prepared in 1938. Now it could come out of the pigeon-holes and nobody would be very upset. It would be very helpful if during the next five years the Government would care to look at the problem of a by-pass, not only there, but also in Dawley.
This brings me to another reason why we are particularly proud of Shropshire. After all, the first man to swim the English Channel—Captain Webb—was born in Dawley.[An HON. MEMBER: "Trying to get away?"] If hon. Members become too obstreperous I will remind them that the Chief Commissioner of Police for the City of London was likewise born in Dawley. If hon. Members opposite have any affection for their own Members of Parliament, Mr. Tom Williams's mother was a Dawley girl.
I should therefore like to proceed, if the Minister is ready, and name the next road which needs attention. The main arteries taking the heavy goods out of the Midlands to Liverpool and Chester have to pass through Wellington and Whitchurch. Thanks to the visit of the Parliamentary Secretary two years ago, we managed to get the road widened at Crudgington at a cost of £40,000. There it stops and goes into a very narrow bottleneck. It is still waiting for the next release of money. I suggest that the money for that road should be released very soon.
I turn now to technical schools and the education problems we have in the area. This debate has been built mostly around the Youth Service, schools and subjects concerning youth and the future. I have noticed in certain areas that people of the smaller communities, which are just as important as the larger national communities, like the Catholics, have great difficulty in carrying out their education plans for the benefit of their children. I understand that it is an inalienable right of British people and of all parents to educate their children according to their wish. I must tell the Government that the wish of the parents 605 cannot be granted in this case, because there is no money for extending the Catholic school in North Road, Wellington. Over the last four years I have asked that this matter should receive Government attention, and I hope that in the next year something will be done to allow the Catholic community, not to have a grant, but to borrow the money and to return it to the Treasury. I will not go on with this problem at the moment, because it would be better dealt with as a special subject for an Adjournment.
There is another very nasty incident likely to occur to damage the fair fields of Shropshire. That is a proposal by British Railways to build one of the most gigantic marshalling yards ever seen in Shropshire, if not in the whole of the United Kingdom. So far various parts of the county have found reasons for refusing to have this monstrosity thrust upon them, however necessary it is for the nation.
I have noticed that in the more affluent areas outside my constituency planning permission has been always turned down. For years gone by until I had the good fortune to come to the House, The Wrekin tended to be rather a Cinderella. It was not Tory-represented. It was very well represented on the council, but it was still the Cinderella. I wonder why we are suddenly faced with the demand to build this enormous marshalling yard? After all, there are plenty of other areas. There are old camps at Nescliff and at Wemm. There is even a mass of old pit banks which could easily be flattened at Hollinswood and made into a very valuable marshalling yard. Why take up to 200 acres of some of the most valuable farmland in The Wrekin and dispossess the farming fraternity?
I should like to tell the Patronage Secretary—I see that he is not here, so I should like him to be warned—that if the British Railways, or the Government via British Railways or the Transport Commission, present a Bill to install this marshalling yard at Walcot contrary to the wish of the entire farming community, the local residents and the county N.F.U., I shall have to do something that I have not yet had the pleasure of doing in this Parliament, and that is to go into the necessary Lobby 606 to vote against it.[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Hon. Members should remember that this is a different Parliament.
In the last Parliament we hung up our hats and coats, we then put our consciences in the Whips' Office and came in here. I think that this Parliament will be a valuable one. A standard of debate is already developing that will give both Government and Opposition a lot of opportunities to enable Parliament to function as it was meant to—to temper the Executive. In the last Parliament, if the question of, say, Cyprus came up in a foreign affairs debate one was either a pro patria or a traitor—thank goodness that situation has happily passed. I apologise for that diversion—I always get rather carried away on foreign affairs and anything to do with the Patronage Secretary always affects me.
As a start, at any rate, those are the minimum requests I have to put to Her Majesty's Government on behalf of The Wrekin.
It has struck me forcibly that one of the youth problems is to try to understand what youth really desires; what is in its mind. I have given the matter some thought over the last few weeks, and have decided that the real desire and aim in the minds of young people is to be men before their time. They want responsibility and a feeling of adventure rather earlier than was the case perhaps twenty years ago. Therefore, when the youth clubs or the Government are considering some of these problems I suggest that they consider very carefully whether youth could not play an even more important part in national affairs.
Youth is very fortunate today. It has a wonderful future, but it also has a duty, and I hope that this duty will commend itself to them and to this House. Many of our old people, especially those mentioned by the hon. Member for East Ham, North, lead what I call "grey lives" through no fault of their own. Old, retired, they do not receive perhaps so many visits from their families as once they did. I believe that one of the duties of the youth of today must be to learn to serve their elders and betters.
One of the disciplinary things so ably mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings) as being desirable, 607 is that they should learn as part of their training to visit old people and talk to them once or twice a week. As part of their youth club routine work they should do this as thanks for what the older people have gone through in order to give them the wonderful opportunities of today.
It was for this reason, in particular, that when the London-to-Paris air race took place I gave an opportunity to the youth of Britain and France, by raising money publicly, to race against each other. The purpose was that a French boy could race from Paris to London, and we, on our side, enabled a young student to take part in the race on the constituencys behalf. Some say that people will not give money for youth clubs, though there are some honourable exceptions, but I know that when a venture is made clear to the general public, or when matters concerning youth are made public, the money is always there, and the will is always there. I hope, therefore, that the Government will give real consideration to matters that capture the public mind and spirit of adventure.
I was very pleased to hear what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Billericay (Mr. Gardner). His statement was remarkable, and should be repeated. Referring to the Commonwealth and education, and the general exchange of youth, he said:We need something more imaginative than that. We need a two-way exchange of ideas and learning. We know what we can teach the young who come over here from the Commonwealth to learn in our universities, and our Inns of Courts and our technical colleges, but do we know what we have to learn by sending our young people to the new universities of Africa and Malaya?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th October, 1959; Vol. 612, c. 59.]I most sincerely commend that thought. I remember quite clearly, when attending a Committee of this House in 1956, that we had a representative from the British Council—in fact, the leader of it. I was anxious because at the time we were not having any contact with the youth at the universities of the Middle East. I made the revolutionary suggestion, which did not commend itself to many of my friends, that university students should be given bursaryships and scholarships to the universities of the Middle East and, in particular, the great Moslem 608 University in Cairo. Some of my friends thought that we could not very well do with an Egyptian scholarship, but I believe that such thoughts as that were not misplaced then or even today.
I believe that the Gracious Speech is a pattern for progress. It is one that I shall certainly commend to my constituents, and I have every confidence that if Her Majesty's Government pay attention to the very well-informed speeches made by hon. Members today, our Youth Service will be second to none and will be admired throughout the world. That is what I hope for.
§ 2.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Tom Driberg (Barking)
We have heard four notable maiden speeches today. I am not quite sure whether one's first speech on returning to the House after being away for more than four years counts as a maiden or not, but perhaps I may crave the semi-indulgence appropriate to a demi-vierge.
I must not be tempted into talking too much about the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. W. Yates) and his very enjoyable speech, but I must congratulate him on having re-established himself so successfully in his own party. At one moment I was afraid that he was about to slip once more into too great a show of independence, but I always like independence of mind in an M.P.—on whichever side he sits—as I know the hon. Member also does. I must congratulate him also on providing such admirable material for his local newspaper, and for passing on to the various deputations which he evidently had to meet during the campaign.
There was only one point at which I got a little cross with the hon. Member and that was when he quoted the well-known remark made by an hon. Friend of mine about "cheating" the old-age pensioners. If one speaks of cheating the old-age pensioners, I am quite certain that the hon. Member for The Wrekin—because I know him to be an honest as well as an independent-minded man—did not sink to the level of some of his hon. Friends who included in their election addresses statements about the Labour Government's record on old-age pensions which were directly contrary to the facts—totally untrue statements. I am sure that he did not do that—
§ Mr. W. Yates
In my election address, I referred only to the pension rates as between 1945 and 1951. I understand that the Labour Government, when it was returned to power, put up all pensions by £1 or something of that nature. I should have thought that the hon. Gentlemen's party would have made some capital out of that.
§ Mr. Driberg
We put up old-age pensions by 16s. very soon after our return to power. Some Conservative candidates' election addresses, such as those of the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Emery) and the hon. Member for Bromsgrove (Mr. Dance), contained direct mis-statements of fact about that and said that the Labour Government put up pensions by only 4s. during the whole of their term of office.
§ Mr. Yates
To make remarks about two hon. Members not in the House is not normally courteous. I know that the hon. Member for Bromsgrove, who was in the same regiment as myself, if chat is of any help, and the hon. Member for Reading, who so successfully won his constituency, would both regret it if in any of their election addresses there was any deliberate mis-statement of fact to deceive people.
§ Mr. Driberg
I accept the hon. Member's apology for his two absent friends, but he will appreciate that, in the circumstances in which this little dispute has arisen, I could not have notified them that I intended to raise the matter. I naturally accept that apology, and I accept from the hon. Gentleman that we must attribute the mis-statements in those election addresses to pure ignorance.
This debate, as indeed we have observed in the last few moments, has followed a somewhat meandering course. Some of my hon. Friends have spoken, rightly and eloquently, about redundancy and the fear of unemployment, but the main theme of the debate has been youth and the Youth Service, and, to some extent, the wider topic of leisure, which, of course, concerns every one—the old even more, perhaps, than the young, and people of all professions, trades and jobs. The point that I want to make is simply that in the future, once we have got away from the fear of unemployment, once full employment is really established in this 610 country, which I believe can happen only when there is again a Labour Government—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—but let that pass, whether that is so or not—and as automation advances, leisure and the creative use of leisure will increasingly become a preoccupation of all thoughtful people.
I was very glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale (Mr. Greenwood), when he opened this debate, kept in proportion the actual extent of juvenile delinquency. Sometimes, from the enormous publicity given to it in the newspapers, one might imagine that all or the majority of teen-agers were delinquents or hooligans. In fact, as he said and as we know, it is probably quite a small minority. None the less, there is a rather disquietingly large number of young people, mostly teen-agers, who seem to drift through life in a bored and sullen apathy—that urban and subtopian malaise which is perhaps the twentieth-century equivalent of the medieval sin of acedia.
One difficulty, when we are talking about youth in this House, is this. In youth work, as in any democratic activity, we get the best results only when there is full co-operation by all concerned. When we in this House are talking about youth—and many of us are middle-aged or elderly; a few are still young or relatively young—we are talking about millions of people large numbers of whom regard us as practically senile and hopelessly "square". It may be said that this is a problem that has always arisen in every generation since the world began.
There has always been a war between age and youth: it is the one war in which, as I think Cyril Connolly said, every one changes sides. There are, however, some new aspects of this problem which suggest that the situation which we have in Britain today may be without precedent. The Gardiner Commission, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale referred, found in its Report that there was this totally new, or largely new, situation and drew attentionto the widening gap between contemporary youth and the adult communityand the Report lists various signs thatYouth today increasingly feels that it belongs in a community of its own. This sense of separate identity is not only reflected in 611 the cultural and other goods that young people buy, it is sharpened and magnified by the commercial interests which supply them.The Report goes on:It is significant that this self-awareness should coincide with decreased interest by young people in adult organisations.The point that I am trying to make is that whatever we are planning or legislating here is necessarily something which is being planned, mainly and primarily, by adults for young people—but lots of young people, quite naturally, do not like being done good to.
The Gardiner Commission went on to try to analyse some of the reasons for this situation. It gave three main reasons, to be found indeeply rooted features of the adult world. First, the whole trend of our society is towards centralisation and bureaucratisation. These have become features of voluntary bodies just as they are of industrial and governmental organisations. All the things that are associated with bureaucracy—that it is cautious, slow, compromising and impersonal—are profoundly hostile to the mood of youth.Secondly, a major element in the estrangement of the young … is the feeling that society itself and most of its institutions are still run by people of different outlook and class background.Thirdly"——and perhaps most fundamental in my view, the Gardiner Report suggests that—our nation provides no clear or inspiring objectives to arouse the latent idealism of the young. Apart from 'getting on,' the major message that the adult society transmits to youth is the necessity to consume. Not only is personal consumption presented as in itself the most important goal of human endeavour but as the outward and visible sign of personal success. Vast resources of cash and persuasive talent are today mobilised to educate the young as consumers. Virtually nothing is done to awaken them to the tasks and challenges of a democratic society.I am sorry to have quoted at such length, but I am very glad that my hon. Friend, in opening the debate, referred both to this document and to the other document "Leisure for Living", which we in the Labour Party produced shortly before the election—rather too shortly before, I am afraid. I must congratulate our opposite numbers in the Conservative Party on getting their document through the printers rather more quickly than we were able to do because of the dispute, and also, of course, on the almost telepathic similarity of some of 612 their proposals—even to the actual phrases—to our own proposals which appeared only a few days afterwards. If it is true that great minds think alike, and if these proposals are acceptable to hon. Members on both sides of the House, so much the better. There will be some hope that they may be carried out by the present Government. I myself, at any rate, feel that both the Report of the Gardiner Commission and our own document "Leisure for Living" have somewhat more permanent value than, shall I say, the average ephemeral election throwaway.
At any rate, if the hon. Member for Tonbridge (Mr. Hornby) will look at our document "Leisure for Living", he will find there the answer to some of the problems of priorities and costs with which he was concerned. He laid great emphasis, quite rightly from his point of view, upon how much these things will cost and what the priorities should be. I think I understood him to say that what was being discussed today—the Youth Service and so forth—had, in his view, a rather low priority in comparison with the education services proper.
If we look at the matter from a purely practical, cash point of view, quite apart from the social or ethical arguments, there is surely a great deal to be said for spending, simply as an insurance premium, a fairly large amount of money on providing proper club facilities and sports facilities. In our "Leisure" document, for instance, we suggested that the lack of facilities for games contributed to the social evils of delinquency, hooliganism and the like; and we added:… it is not always realised how much delinquency and hooliganism costs us in terms of hard cash. In one recent year, the price that we all had to pay for the hooliganism of a few—a few who smashed street-lamps and damaged telephone-booths, railway compartments, public parks, and unfinished houses—added up to some £10 millions. This is a total and senseless loss to the nation. Moreover, the job of rounding-up, supervising and restraining delinquents is the whole life's work of many able men and women; it takes up much of the time and labour of the police and of the Courts. The juvenile delinquent of today may become the criminal of tomorrow: to keep a criminal in prison costs £300 a year—so our annual prison bill is another £10 millions".These are, of course, pragmatical arguments, but I address them particularly to the hon. Member for Tonbridge who 613 spoke about the cost of providing youth clubs, sporting facilities and such, because they seem to be part of the answer to him.
The same document deals not only with youth and with sport but also with many other ways in which people spend their leisure, and, in particular, with the arts. Diverse as the themes of this debate have been, it would, I think, be trying your patience, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, too far if I were to embark on a prolonged speech and initiate anything in the nature of a real debate on the condition of the arts today.
I am quite sure that hon. Members on both sides who care for these things must be aware that the condition of the arts in Britain today is, to put it mildly, most unsatisfactorily precarious. One has but to think of the theatre, in particular, and of the repertory theatres in the provinces. As for the prospect of a National Theatre, I do not suppose that the right hon. Gentleman who is to reply for the Government today will be able to give a firm commitment, but I hope that he will at least be able to express some sympathy with the idea of a National Theatre—not, of course, merely as a building on the South Bank in London but as a national theatre company associated with a chain of theatres throughout the provinces; in this respect, as in others, decentralisation is tremendously important.
Such subjects as these are dealt with most conveniently and compendiously in the latest Report of the Arts Council which came out only two days ago and is significantly still called, as it must be, "The Struggle for Survival". It seems to me quite wrong that the arts, by which to some extent, after all, the value of a civilisation is tested, should have to struggle for survival in what is, so we are assured, a highly prosperous community. I hope, therefore, that, without too much party difference or rancour on this aspect of policy, the Government will give us a lead and will be more generous to the Arts Council and in other appropriate ways than they have been in the past few years. I cannot, of course, mention all the aspects of the matter now. Help is needed for the museums, particularly provincial museums. There is the preservation of the countryside, the development or redevelopment of water- 614 ways, the development of footpaths—all of which, incidentally, were dealt with in the document "Leisure for Living" from which I have quoted.
These are all important to a truly civilised nation; and, to revert again to what was said by the hon. Member for Tonbridge, if the Government were to increase their annual grant to the Arts Council by the amount really needed—to use a phrase from a previous report of the Arts Council—on the basis of "ascertained and accepted need", and if they were to set up, as we propose, a Sports Council of Great Britain with an adequate initial grant to make a survey of what is needed throughout the country, the cost would be infinitesimal in relation to the total national Budget and to the total expenditure on education. We reckoned, indeed, that if the Government were to give the Arts Council another, say, £4 million a year and to give the Sports Council, say, £5 million a year, that would work out, roughly, through the Exchequer, at one penny a week per head of the population. It is a derisory sum when it is broken down like that, and even in its total millions it is very small in relation to the national Budget.
I hope and believe that this can be done within the next few years, partly, perhaps, by this Government. If this Government will make a start and we, perhaps, are able to carry on afterwards, I believe—although it may sound over-ambitious or optimistic to say so—that we shall make Britain a civilised nation within the lifetime of many hon. Members of this House.
§ 2.50 p.m.
§ Dr. Donald Johnson (Carlisle)
It is a considerable honour and pleasure to follow the speech of the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) on his re-entry into the House, and I hope that he will not consider it too much of a semi-compliment if I do not say more than that, except to say that my pleasure is enhanced by the fact that I shall be following certain of his arguments.
This debate is, indeed, a signpost in our political history. It is difficult to realise that it is less than one hundred years ago when the interest in youth inevitably took a quite different form from that of today. I am, of course, referring to the Factory Acts, which were marked by the harrowing revelations of 615 Lord Shaftesbury, and I was surprised myself, on looking up the reference, to find that this was as recently as 1875. In view of the remark of the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice), I think it is worth recalling that these Acts came from the Conservative side of the House, as these things are apt to be forgotten.
Our problems are no longer those of sweated labour, longer hours and poverty among our youth, but of a youth which, by and large, has not too little money but probably too much and a leisure which, in these days, it does not know what to do with. However, a simple statement of that kind has qualifications and riders, and, of course, the principal one is that, if we do not suffer from poverty today, we still suffer from the legacy that that policy and hasty industrialisation have left.
As a native of Lancashire, I read with some interest the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. E. Johnson) about the state of affairs in Manchester today. One must, indeed, live very much more dangerously in Manchester today than in the days of my youth, which were spent in the vicinity of that city. The point I want to make, however, is that, while Manchester is a city of many civic virtues, no one can possibly represent that it is an ideal place in which to spend one's leisure hours.
In fact, I think that one of my most barren memories is when I had a complete day's leisure in Manchester, and I was possibly prevented from going up and down coshing old ladies only by the fact that I had a very charming lady companion with me. I remember that in desperation, for want of anything else to do—[Laughter.] I am afraid that I come to an anti-climax here—we ended up by walking in a very bitter wind along the front at Southport. I would suggest to my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Blackley that that is perhaps an even more formidable punishment for juvenile offenders than some of the suggestions which he made. However, while this is true of Manchester and of many other places, these problems are not confined to Manchester and to the older industrial towns. The boredom and disinterest in worthy pursuits about which we have heard extends also to 616 places like the new towns, in which, of course, every prospect is meant and designed to please.
We must recognise, therefore, that the legacy of poverty is a spiritual as well as material one. On the one hand, we have a generation of young people growing up which probably has no tradition behind it in the use of leisure. On the other hand, they are recipients of benefits which have come, by and large, through outside agencies, such as the Welfare State, and in regard to which they have not been called upon to shoulder any responsibilities of their own. What is most important, they have a feeling in regard to those benefits that they have not any voice in the way in which they are conferred on them.
We have heard during the debate of the many extremely worthy and important measures that are being taken to help the youth problem and youth services, but it seems that the most baffling problem of all is that there is a large section of our youth which cannot be reached by any of these endeavours. In the manner indicated by the hon. Member for Barking, it is withdrawn, unapproachable and even resentful of efforts made to help it. It is on this particular problem that I want to try to concentrate my remarks.
One must reflect whether the faults responsible for this state of affairs are not, perhaps, in considerable part those of our own society. Every hon. Member has had a recent experience of electioneering. When one has fought one or two elections, particularly in the towns, one becomes well aware of the trend of things, to a large extent, by the shouts of the children in the streets, because it is these shouts which reflect what is happening in the children's homes and one gets a pretty shrewd idea of how one's fortunes are faring. We must therefore ask of these young people we now discuss whether they are not in considerable part reflecting an adult attitude to the authoritarian trends of today, the bureaucratic organisation of society and the peculiar conception of "they" on one side and "we" on the other, the Establishment, and so on, about which plenty has been said and written in other connections.
What is happening is that the clever and more brilliant ones among our young 617 people are creamed off and given opportunities, but they are not the ones who, by and large, constitute the problem among our youth. It is those who are left behind with a smattering of education and then brought forward into a society to which so many of them feel they do not belong.
This problem of not belonging is a psychological one, and I shall have something to say about it in a few minutes. It is also one of transcending importance as we look towards the future. It is some years now since I read that excellent book by Viscount Samuel, Belief and Action. After all these years, I remember only one thing in the book, but I remember that the author was debating the problem which occurs to so many of us, whether our present civilisation will be able to go forward even further than it has gone today or whether it will relapse in the way other civilisations in the past have done, such as the Greco-Roman civilisation. Viscount Samuel make the point that the Greco-Roman civilisation collapsed under the attacks of barbarians from without, and that, at any rate as he alleged at the time the book was written, could not possibly happen in modern times.
He then made a point which has cogency to this debate when he said that "with each generation there is a fresh eruption of barbarians from within." Those words need to be pondered very deeply. The book was written at the time of Hitler and Nazi Germany, and it was proving only too true in that instance with the German youth. We surely have occasion to ponder whether it does not have reference to the problems that we are discussing today. Without taking too forbidding an attitude on the subject, I suggest that in our attitude to the problem, as with so many other problems today, we suffer perhaps from too little belief in the doctrine of original sin.
It is possible that more severe measures may be the answer, but I think that they are only part of the answer. As I have said, it is primarily a psychological problem. As the hon. Member has just said, we have this considerable mass of young people who suffer from boredom, and in many cases this boredom is alternated with curious outbreaks of violence, which nobody can 618 quite understand, with weapons such as one sees displayed on television features about this problem.
When dealing with psychological problems, if we look at the abnormal, it sometimes provides lessons for the normal. In doing this, I shall refer to the sights which one sees when one goes round the wards of our mental hospitals. One sees people sitting about in this same withdrawn and silent fashion, an utterly uninterested fashion, alternated in the same way by very dangerous outbreaks of violence in which the nurses and attendants are frequently in danger. These people are the advanced schizophrenics. Until the last year or two these people were regarded in many instances as utterly hopeless cases, but in a more enlightened era in our hospitals it has been found that they can be won round by sympathy in the first place and by being given some purposeful and creative work to do.
Trying to relate this lesson to the problems raised in the debate, that is why I was particularly pleased to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers) talk during her speech of the necessity for purposeful and creative work as a part of the solution to this problem. The other important thing is leadership. These appear to be the two absolute essentials in solving the problem, and rank well above the actual amount of money spent, the premises or any physical or material things of that kind.
I would again emphasise that, whether it is provisions for work and interest or whether it is leadership, the result will be hopeless unless in some way we make adjustments to our society as it is today to make it a more attractive proposition for the young people to share in it.
My remarks hitherto have been of a purely general nature. So that I do not appear to be talking too much in the clouds, perhaps I may be allowed to give one specific example. There is one characteristic of young people in their attitude to society. It is that they are susceptible to any suspicion of unfair treatment. They resent anything done to them which they consider to be unfair.
Inasmuch as I have had contact with the youth problem it has been on the very seamy side indeed, and it has 619 been in connection with those young people who have been unfortunate enough to find themselves in our mental defectives hospitals and even in places like Rampton and Moss Side. They are listed as mental defectives under the old legislation. We have different terms now, of course, but up to the present moment they have been there as mental defectives, even though, of course, this is a contradiction in terms which is bound to affect anybody who looks at the problem, as they have often seemed quite reasonably normal and sometimes even intelligent people to talk to.
Of course, this is no place to indulge in the rather complicated story of how they are really psychopaths, and all that sort of thing. I want only to make the point of the effect on the young people themselves. One does come on stories which on the surface seem very odd ones. Two boys appear in court together on a comparatively minor charge, breaking into a shop and stealing a few papers and pencils—something of that kind. They come up together. One boy is put on probation. The other, however, does not appear very bright or does not have a very good report from the education authority. He is taken in front of the doctor. He is sent to the local mental defectives home. There he may be a nuisance because he is a reasonably intelligent boy of a fairly high level and resents being put with defectives. He is a nuisance, and so he finds himself sent to Rampton or Moss Side for what is really a long stretch of several years' imprisonment.
One finds a girl, the type of girl who runs away with lorry drivers and has an illegitimate child; one finds a girl of that kind imprisoned for many years in a place like Moss Side Hospital, Liverpool, right away from the only thing which could really help restore her to a sense of responsibility in society, her daughter, who is now four or five years old.
I have such case as this, and I know also a case of a young man of good intelligence who has spent several years in Rampton, listed, of course, as a psyco-path. When one talks to him and asks him how he got there he tells one that he was got to court and was examined by a doctor and certified, but the doctor 620 who certified was a doctor who could hardly talk English; he was a foreign doctor who had quite recently come into this country.
These are the sorts of things that happen. Frankly, they do not make sense to me; but more importantly, they do not make sense to the young people themselves. These are cases which are known not only in the limited circles of inmates of these homes; they are widely known in the towns and places where these people come from, and particularly among the young people themselves. It is all very well satisfying ourselves from our point of view, or from the point of view of the administration, in saying they are being sent to Rampton or being sent to Moss Side for their own good. The point is we do not convince them of that, as anybody who has had any extensive correspondence with the inmates of Rampton or their relatives and friends can quite well realise.
This is one instance, I suggest, of a type of unfairness which is, if I may be excused the use of a technical phrase, a cause of psychological trauma not only on the young people themselves but on their relatives and the wide circles of their friends who know about these cases. I feel that these are the types of things that do want adjustment—there are others as well—if we are to gain the confidence of this difficult and resentful section of young people.
I am making no attempt in any way to decry all the other things that are being done, that are intended to be done, and that have been said should be done. They are all very important, but so much of that will be of little avail while there are these faults in ourselves and our own society.
§ 3.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Leo Abse (Pontypool)
I should like to comment on the remarks made by the hon. Member for Hitchin (Mr. Maddan) who has within his constituency the new town of Stevenage. I do not want to go over the same ground, but I wish to emphasise that the problems arising in these new towns, where there is such a high natural increase in the population, are linked with the level of employment available in such towns.
I hope that the concern which has been expressed on all sides of the House about 621 the future of youth employment prospects will be conveyed to the Minister of State for Welsh Affairs, because it is a matter of deep concern in my constituency that, despite the representations which have been made by the Cwmbran Urban District Council to the Minister to receive a deputation to discuss and to deal with future employment prospects of young people, that deputation has not been received. I trust that the general concern which has been expressed here will be conveyed to the Minister so that we can begin to meet the serious youth problems that lie ahead, bearing in mind that Cwmbran lies at the bottom of a valley, the top of which is largely dependent on the coal-mining industry.
Although it is right that the problem of juvenile delinquency should be seen in its proper perspective, it is nevertheless a real and urgent problem. I observe that in the Gracious Speech there is a reference to penal reform, and there is in almost every chief constable's report a bemoaning of the fact that in these days of material prosperity we are confronted with an increasing problem of juvenile delinquency. There is a tacit assumption within all the phrases used that there is something bewildering about the fact that, at a time and age when clearly there is more general material prosperity, there is more and more delinquency. I am convinced from my own experience that there is a myth in existence which leads people to believe somehow or other that the benefits of the social welfare State and the benefits of this material prosperity are reaching out to everybody.
If, however, one examines the actiology of juvenile delinquency in any city with the aid of research workers like Dr. Terence Morris in Croydon and Harriet Wilson in Cardiff, certain striking features become evident. It will be found that a large proportion of this juvenile delinquency is related to inadequate homes in slum areas. It will be found that the main basis of this juvenile delinquency in most of our cities comes from those families which are described as "problem families". The children of these "problem families" are living within a grim form of sub-culture. They are continually in difficulties and in trouble. Statistics of these problem families in Cardiff reveal that between 80 and 90 per cent. of the children of "problem families" enter the 622 juvenile courts by the time they have reached 17 years of age.
Bearing in mind that in Cardiff there is a most efficient police force, but which like most police forces has only a 45 per cent. rate of detection, it is substantially true to say that most children of problem families are almost inevitably bound to enter the juvenile courts or commit undetected acts of delinquency. That is undoubtedly the main base of adult criminality. These delinquents are usually the children of unskilled labourers earning about £7 10s. a week who, typically, will have about five children under the age of 15. Bearing in mind what the present family allowances are, and that families living on such low incomes usually have parents of inadequate personalities and low intelligence, it is inevitable that the children are brought up in an atmosphere not only of emotional deprivation but of material deprivation.
Nor must we regard this as a marginal problem, because it is possible that there are 100,000 children materially deprived in the manner of which I am speaking. Whether the men are employed and earning about £7 10s. a week, or whether they are unemployed, the same problem arises, for the National Assistance Board dares not—and in fact applies regulations to prevent it—give the people who are unemployed as much as they would normally earn. So there is a system in existence whereby the National Assistance Board in this Welfare State sees to it that the children of problem families are caused material deprivation by the State itself.
It is because this problem is so obvious and has not been tackled that it is with some dismay that I see that there is nothing in the Gracious Speech to indicate that the recommendations of the Younghusband Report are to be put into effect. It is clear that what we require are the social agencies which were urged in that Report so that we can minister to the acute needs of these problem families.
The Report urges that we should train up to 800 professional social workers, who are needed to cope with this task. It will probably take a decade to deal with the problem. We need psychiatric social workers, almoners under the local authority and, above all, in particular 623 reference to the problem of juvenile delinquency, family case workers. It is scandalous that we have only a handful of family service units ministering to the needs of this backward section of the community. Most juvenile delinquency comes out of poverty. Most of it comes from the submerged tenth of the nation. It is no use attempting to deceive ourselves into believing that it comes from anywhere else. I indeed hope that we shall speedily hear something of the proposals for the establishment of a national council for social work which was recommended by the Younghusband Committee.
The second group about which I wish to speak covers those juvenile delinquents, a very large group, who come not from problem families but from broken families. I observe within the Gracious Speech that there is a memtion of the extension of legal aid. That is so much the better, for it is right and proper that there should be such extensions and that no one should be deprived of their right to go to court. But this extension will undoubtedly include legal aid within the magistrates' matrimonial courts.
On the last occasion when legal aid was extended, to matrimonial causes in the High Court, we saw a vast increase in divorces. I do not complain about people having a right to go to court, but I wish that the same regard was being paid by the State to healing broken families as is given to enabling those marriages to end. We urgently need more effective help for marriage guidance councils which receive only a niggardly amount from most local authorities and we need, perhaps more than anything else, a greater supply of trained psychiatrists who could be attached to the courts and who could give help and guidance to marriage councils and who would be able to give aid to the social agencies which the Younghusband Committee has recommended.
There is a chronic shortage of psychiatrists which is referred to in the White Paper on Penal Reform when pointing out the difficulties existing in prisons today, where they are without any adequate psychiatric help. I referred recently in the House to the fact 624 that scores of people while awaiting trial are being put into strait-jackets when they were believed to be suffering from some mental instability. It is wrong and improper that when no self-respecting mental hospital would employ the strait-jacket in these days, we should still have them available in such prisons and that they should be so regularly used.
I refer to this lack of psychiatrists attached to prisons because I am wondering, in the proposed legislation which is to come before us about detention centres, what psychiatric help within these centres will be available to deal with disturbed youngsters who form a substantial proportion of juvenile delinquents. In Wales, we have the unfortunate position that there is no chair of psychiatry inside the universities, and this is due to no small extent to squalid medical intrigue. No Welshman can qualify as a psychiatrist in Wales. It is because we on this side of the House knew and understood that there was a need for an investigation into medical education that we stated in our manifesto that we should conduct one. We well know that half our hospital beds are filled with mentally sick people, and we know the needs of the prisons and the courts for more and more psychiatrists if we are to minister to the mental health of this nation.
I know that undoubtedly there will be very much bad advice given on this question of juvenile delinquency to the Home Secretary. I am aware of the advice given by the Lord Chief Justice, who has advocated the return of the birch. I would only say with all humility that the Lord Chief Justice, in advocating the return of the birch for offences like robbery with violence, is little short of being criminally ignorant of criminal statistics. We have to recognise that if we are to deal with this problem of juvenile delinquency, we must understand that punishment inflicted from outside, as I know from my own personal knowledge, produces only a hostile response. It produces an intensification of hatred against society, and, what is worse, it produces a diminution in the healthy restorative trends of mind, which will make a young man capable of inwardly accepting punishment and making salutary use of it.
625 I hope that the Home Secretary is not only relying upon advice of the kind given by the Lord Chief Justice or relying upon bigger or better teen-age prisons or some extended detention centres in order to deal with the problem of juvenile delinquency. Certainly, it would be good to get the young delinquents out of the appallingly overcrowded and medieval local prisons existent in this country today, but we can be certain that unless we are prepared to create the social agencies to administer this problem, and unless we are prepared to have more psychiatrists, then all the detention centres and all the prisons that will be set up under the proposed new legislation will be as full to overbrimming as are the present local prisons.
§ 3.25 p.m.
§ The Minister of Education (Sir David Eccles)
The hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) has a great experience of juvenile delinquency, and I can assure him that I will call the attention of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to his speech. In this debate, we have had four excellent maiden speeches which deserve the tributes paid to them. The hon. Member for Hemsworth (Mr. Beaney) talked with great feeling about the coal industry. If my memory serves me right, when I first came into the House the hon. Gentleman who then represented Hemsworth had the affection of the whole House. He was someone with the kindest nature of almost any hon. Member I can recall, and I should be proud were I his successor.
The hon. Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Mackie) talked to us about the profits one can make from marketing foodstuffs, and I daresay he made our mouths water. The hon. Gentleman certainly will have many opportunities to return to that interesting subject. Two hon. Gentlemen who represent Scottish constituencies, the hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. J. Hill) and the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy Burghs (Mr. Gourlay) naturally referred to coal, and the hon. Member for Midlothian also referred to the paper industry. They spoke with great knowledge about unemployment that they feared might come among young people. As one of my hon. Friends said, that is a matter which 626 will be determined by the state of the economy as a whole. If we can, as we believe, keep an advancing level of production, I believe it will be possible to absorb these young people who are coming out of the schools in greater numbers in the next few years.
I feel I ought to apologise to many hon. Gentlemen for returning to the subject of the debate. But we came to an understanding that we would devote our debate this afternoon to the needs of youth and, especially, to their leisure. We have many discussions in this House about the education of the young people and about their employment. I can assure hon. Members that these are vital aspects of the life of the young to which the Government will pay continuous attention and about which, I hope, we shall have more frequent debates in the future than we have had in the past.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hitchin (Mr. Maddan) stressed the general need for apprenticeships in the new towns, and I will convey to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service what he said. My hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge (Mr. Hornby) brought into his interesting speech the priorities to which one might call attention. We agree with him. It is never possible to do all that one would like in the education service all at once and there have to be certain priorities. But today we decided to discuss another aspect of the lives of young people, their leisure. I have no quarrel with the manner in which the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood) introduced this interesting topic.
That it should be the subject for debate at all arises, of course, out of the prosperity of the post-war world, with all the new opportunities to move about, all the multitude of attractive things on which money can be spent, and the longer hours of time outside the job for which pursuits must be found. But, as this field of opportunity increases, we have to recognise that a question is posed, a very old question, and one which I think we shall have more incessantly in the future to ask ourselves as the material resources of the scientific age increase. It is whether we are really making progress in terms of human values?
627 We can be quite sure that in the next decade our children will be richer, but can we be sure that they will be more contented and better citizens? None of us would dare to give a wholly unqualified answer to that question. In a greater or lesser degree, we have our doubts whether the end results of all our economic progress will be the unmixed blessings that we all hoped for. I suppose we have always known that earning more money and working shorter hours are not ends in themselves. At least it is now clear that the fifteen to twenty-year-olds have the most difficult task of any group in the community in adjusting themselves to the material security and the material gains of an expanding economy. One can got out any evening and see in the streets of our cities knots of young people standing about, all dressed up and, apparently, with nowhere to go. We all know that this is a problem.
If a comparison is made between the spending power of different sections of the community, between pre-war and the present day, it is the teenagers who have gained far the most in relative terms. No other group has enjoyed such a dramatic increase in cash to spend and freedom from accepted or imposed restraints. No other group has less experience with which to deal with its changed circumstances. It is therefore all the more satisfactory to find that the very great majority of the young today are using their new opportunities and are enjoying their work and their leisure in a way which is good to see. I was very glad that last Tuesday the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mrs. Slater) made that point with great vigour. It was made again today by the hon. Member for Rossendale and others, and it is certainly my own experience.
When visiting factories for the Board of Trade, I heard over and over again from the managers how well their youngest employees were shaping and how the educational qualifications of each new batch of entrants showed a slow but perceptible improvement, thanks, of course, to the good work done in the primary and secondary schools. We can be thankful about that and for the fact that so many of our young people today, 628 in spite of the temptations which have come to them more than to other generations, are making worthwhile use of their leisure time.
I think we can all testify to the very excellent work which youth organisations, local authorities and churches are doing today for about one-third of the 15–18 year olds; that is to say, for the three in ten in this group who like to be members of a club or a group. Therefore, we already have the foundations for a great advance in the Youth Service, an advance at which we are now aiming. But still there are more outside the Service than there are in it at the present time.
I must ask the House to look at the other side of the picture. Though there is so much to be proud of in the present generation of young people, there is also quite a bit to be disturbed about. There have been many references in this debate to those boys and girls who do not find it easy, indeed, seem to find it impossible, to adjust themselves as soon as school is over to the new age of earning £5 a week, or something like it, and to the new freedom from restraints.
I am sure that the way to help these young people is not to treat them as a separate problem. They are not outsiders; they are simply members of a generation all of whom have not yet found the way to use their leisure to their own real satisfaction. The difficulties and the troubles of these young people are not theirs alone. They are ours, too. Far too many of the teenagers are, without I expect knowing precisely why, angry with society or just sorry for themselves, and too many of them are getting into trouble.
What saddens me about them—and I meet them in one place or another—is really the loneliness of these young people. They may go rushing about in groups from here to there, but if one talks to them one finds that they do not seem to have a real friendship with those with whom they spend their evenings. It is sad also to see how defiantly they drift in and out of jobs and in and out of trouble.
I am sure we cannot put all this down to the war. I am sure it would be wrong to believe, as some people say, that we are just passing through a temporary bad patch that will clear itself up in a year or two when all the children who 629 were born in the years of war become 21 and more. I believe the causes lie deeper and elsewhere. Nor is there much prospect that the numbers of those who need our help will automatically grow less. On the contrary, as has already been said, we shall have more teenagers. In a very few more years now, there will be six 15-year-olds for every five we have today.
Then there is National Service. I think most hon. Members would agree that two years in Her Majesty's Forces provided a discipline which has done good to the majority of the boys. For reasons which we all know, National Service is coming to an end, but that places upon us the responsibility of seeing what we should put in its place.
Those who have worked closely with young people have been aware for some time of the growing problem. I fully agree with those who have said that perhaps in the past the Government have so concentrated on the schools and on simply providing enough places for the increasing number of school children between the ages of 5 and 15 that we have not sufficiently heeded the voice of those who have been studying the particular problems of the leisure of youth. I admit that, but I would also say that the scale and seriousness of this problem seem to have taken the general public somewhat by surprise. People cannot understand what can be going wrong at a time when science and full employment are opening up so many new opportunities for better living.
I was very interested in what my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Dr. Johnson) said and how he analysed what had gone wrong. I do not entirely agree with him and, for myself, I think the answer lies in the unexpected conjuncture of two changes, two separate changes, in our society. One has to do with money and the other has to do with morals. To put it briefly, the teenagers of today have more leisure and more cash than ever before, but at the same time they have more liberty and far less moral guidance on how they should behave towards each other and towards society. Just at the very moment when these young people need extra special care and guidance on how to use the new opportunities, many of their elders 630 have become uncertain of what is good and what is bad in behaviour and in morals.
It is certainly not fair to put all the blame on the schools for the lack of discipline and the lapses in taste and conduct which are in evidence today. Schools cannot take the place of parents, although many a teacher most manfully and courageously tries to make good the deficiencies of an indifferent home. The fact is that it is the parents who have the chief responsibility.
Nor, of course, is it fair to put all the blame on the young themselves. They will always follow the example of older people, and especially the older people in their own family. We should face the fact that it was not the children who changed public opinion about marriage and divorce. If there are today many complaints that young people can get hold of nasty stories and nasty pictures of crime and violence, these things were produced by grown-ups and have been marketed for profit. If we are disturbed, as I am sure the whole House, is, by what is commonly known as the decline in religion, we cannot hold the children responsible for a decline in religion.
I am convinced that one reason why many of these teen-agers seem so determined not to take any advice, determined not to be organised in any way in their activities but rather to insist, and often truculently, on going their own way, is precisely that over the last twenty years or so they have seen that their elder brothers and sisters looked for guidance and found too often that grown-up people were either cynical or silent.
I have set out, therefore, as well as I can, both the good and the bad circumstances of youth today, because, as has been said in the debate before this afternoon, we must get this in perspective. We must see that although we have a very great problem, it is against the background of the great majority of our young people who are, if I may use the word, thoroughly satisfactory. Our policy has to be framed for youth, as a whole, not for trying to pick out and do something for those who happen to be called problem children for the time being.
The Government have undertaken to increase the material resources available to the youth service, and that we are 631 determined shall be much more than a rescue operation of an awkward or tiresome minority. We intend to extend the opportunities for all young people to enjoy their leisure. That is what we said in the Conservative manifesto. I should like to quote it:Our policy of opportunity will be extended. In particular, we propose to reorganise and expand the Youth Service. Measures will be taken to encourage youth leadership and the provision of attractive youth clubs, more playing fields and better facilities for sport.I will say a word or two about that programme in a moment.
The Government want at the outset to make absolutely clear their view that we cannot, simply by spending public money, solve that part of the problem which is largely a failure of morals. What we require, therefore, is a new determination to help all young people to know, not to be in doubt about, what a good life is in terms of behaviour. If we can succeed in that, then, of course, the provision of youth centres and sports grounds will bring all the results for which we hope.
I very much agree with what the hon. Member for Rossendale said about the need for the provision of recreational facilities. I took note that he thought there ought to be a survey of the present facilities. I also noted that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth) drew our attention to the difficulty of finding space in London and argued, I thought very cogently, for swimming baths and other indoor or concentrated facilities for taking exercise. We shall approach this task of expanding the facilities for the use of leisure with enthusiasm but also with humility.
There is the very difficult problem of knowing about the young people involved. We expect to receive much help from the Crowther and the Albemarle Reports. The House might like to know that the Crowther Report is in the hands of the printers and should be published at the end of next month at the latest. I have not yet received the Albemarle Report, but it is coming, and I am hopeful that it will be published during the latter part of the Christmas Recess. I do not know the exact timetable of Sir John Wolfenden's inquiry into sport, 632 but I hope and believe that a report will be available early in the new year. I should like to pay a tribute to the many publications and statements which were made before the election by different parties on the needs of youth, from which I have learned very much in a very short time.
The House will not want me to try to anticipate in detail the recommendations of the Crowther and Albemarle Reports. I do not know what the latter are, and in any case I feel that, having asked such distinguished people to look into these subjects—they have done, as I know, a very great deal of work—the House will want their advice to be taken into account before we decide upon action. We have not long to wait now to be in that position.
On the other hand, there seem to be one or two principles, on which I should have thought that we are all agreed, on which the expansion of the youth service might proceed and about which it would be safe to say a few words now. It follows from the independent attitude of that great section of young people who are not now touched by youth organisations that, if we are to bring them in, we shall have to look for ways and means by which they do most of the work for themselves. We cannot hope to impose upon them any kind of national or ready-made system of leisure activities. We shall have to work through the voluntary organisations and the local authorities, filling in the gaps and strengthening their resources. These people tell me that they are well aware that they do not at present have anything like all the answers to the new demands of youth. They want to experiment. It will be right to find the proper means to give them the resources to experiment. Many new ideas will be worth trying and it may well be that, if those young people now outside the youth service can be helped, perhaps in unconventional ways, to find what they want, they will take hold of it and make it a success for themselves. Therefore, we should be prepared to let those who have been working in this field have the resources to experiment in different, and probably novel, directions.
I was very glad to hear one or two hon. Members say that loyalty to the 633 community in which we live is very important. That excellent Report from Dr. Williams on the needs of youth in Stevenage, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Hitchin referred, shows by taking the example of a new town that young people, like anyone else, need to have roots in the place where they live if they are to pursue a balanced life. Therefore, I think that we shall have to take very great care to see that the expansion we hope to build up will be based on local loyalties.
I am much impressed by the need to smooth the transition from life in the schools to the world of earning and spending. When I was last at the Ministry of Education, I tried to bring the schools in industry and the schools and technical colleges closer together. Much good work has been done in that field, and much more remains to be done, but I think that we now have to make a very special effort to bring the schools and the youth services together.
It is a melancholy fact that the age group that has always given the police most trouble is that in the last year of compulsory school life. When the leaving age was 14, it was the 13-year-olds who gave most trouble. The leaving age is now 15, and it is the 14-year-olds who are giving most trouble. We must think about this. It is a serious matter. I have not made up my mind, but I hope that we shall get advice on this sort of topic from the Albemarle Committee, and it may be that the Youth Service should go down into the schools to begin work in the last year of compulsory school life.
My hon. Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings)—whose speech I am sorry I missed—referred, I understand, to the recruitment and training of youth leaders. Whatever else we must do, we must have more of these invaluable men and women. Full-time youth leaders have to be well trained, and we must see that their conditions of service are right. Therefore, although, again, I wish to wait for the recommendations of the Albemarle Committee, I would suppose that we would wish that full-time qualified youth leaders are paid salaries that are properly related to those of teachers, and that there is scope for interchange, at the right moment, with other careers, including that of teaching.
634 In any case, having received these Reports, and before long the Report of the Albemarle Committee will be in my hands, I would examine how such aims can be realised for youth leaders—and, of course, we shall not forget those who are employed by the voluntary organisations. Whatever the results of that examination and of the action we may propose to take, there will be no falling off in the demand for part-time youth leaders, without whom the Youth Service would collapse. No man or woman could do more valuable work for society week by week than to give up their leisure to be a part-time worker in running clubs or other youth activities. We now believe that the national conscience is so alive to the danger of letting youth drift that, given a strong lead and the prospect of adequate resources, sufficient volunteers will be found for both full-time and part-time in the Youth Service.
Obviously, it will not be easy, particularly as we must not be content with providing premises and youth leaders for the young people who are already club minded. We have to go out to get the others. Somehow, we shall have to allay their suspicion and catch their imagination—because, of course, they have plenty of native energies, plenty of capacity for self-expression, and if that is now running to waste and being used in ways that we find not very attractive, it is really only the proof that they have the energy, if we can only direct it into more useful and enjoyable directions.
I agree with the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg), who said that these young people do not want to be done good to. I am sure that he is absolutely right there. They want to feel that they are important to the community as a whole and, especially, that they have a place in the area to which they belong.
This, then, is essentially an individual problem. It is a problem of individual boys and individual girls, and a problem also of individual areas. It must, therefore, cut across all political boundaries, and I hope that when we have all digested the Albemarle and the Crowther Reports, and when the Govt-bring some firm proposals to the House—and I assure hon. Members that we shall not delay a week longer than we 635 need—Parliament will look at those proposals, improve them, and endorse them with a great sense of good will on all sides.
The education service, which I had something to do with before, has always seemed to me a very long strung-out line of advance. It is always moving—one part of it pushes ahead and then it is revealed that some other part has been left behind. I think it is fair to say that in the last Parliament the greatest pressure was put on advancing on the front of technical education. I think we now feel that the 15- to 18-year-olds, especially in their leisure time, and especially in non-vocational education of all sorts, have been a little left behind, and perhaps in this Parliament we can give a push there. Then we shall come back again, as one hon. Member so rightly said, to consider the primary schools.
636 That is the nature of this enormous front, with 7 million children in schools, 300,000 teachers and all sorts of schools and colleges. It is a colossal operation that we are taking on. I like to think that if we do make, as it is the full determination of the Government to do, a major push on the front of what is known as the Youth Service and the leisure activities of young people, we shall have with us the sympathy and support of all Members of the House.
§ Debate adjourned.—[Mr. E. Wakefield.]
§ Debate to be resumed upon Monday next.