§ LORD MOUNT TEMPLE had given Notice that he would ask His Majesty's Government what steps they propose to take in order to improve the physical fitness of the young people of this country; and whether any decisions have been reached since the statement on this subject by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on October 2 last; and move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, being greatly interested in the state of the physical health of the young people of this country, I greatly welcome the statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer made at the beginning of last month that, at long last, the Government propose to do something to increase their physical 48 fitness. And I am indeed glad that it was the Chancellor of the Exchequer who made that statement, because it means (hat if concrete and definite proposals are put forward to that end he, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, having raised the question, cannot very well refuse the money to carry it out.
§ Everybody seems to assume that the physical state of the English youth between the ages of fifteen and nineteen or twenty is bad, and if one travels abroad in Germany, or Italy or, above all, in Sweden, I think, he will find; here that the young people are in-finitely better equipped for the battle of life by physical health than they are in this country. "But," you may say, "that is a matter of opinion." I would then answer: Well, what about recruits for the Army? A Secretary of State cannot lie, and we have it from the Secretary of State for War himself that if all the recruits, who came forward in 1935 to fill the depleted ranks of the Regular Army could have been accepted, as coming up to the physical standard, there would have been no deficiency in the Army. Even more important, we have the definite figure given by the War Office representative that in 1935 47 per cent. of the men wishing to enter the Army had to be turned down because they were not physically fit; and we all know that the standard of physical fitness for the Army is not very high. That, surely, discloses a most deplorable state of affairs. Can you imagine Germany or Italy or Sweden or France having half their recruits turned down because they were not fit to serve their country?
§ We heard a great deal about C3 men during the War, and it really is supprising that this nation has gone on so long allowing no care to be taken of its bodily youth. While doing a great deal more than most nations in respect of booklearning and cramming the brain with matters which probably are of no use in after life, we pay no attention to the physique of our young people, male or female, after they leave school. What is carried out by the State to look after those who have not money or opportunity to look after themselves? We have maternity care, and we have reduction in the infant death-rate, a very mixed blessing, I think, myself, because it seems to me that we are preserving the unfit 49 whom nature really designed should die. Be that as it may, however, we have reduced the death-rate among children. Slums are being demolished, overcrowding is being taken in hand, whole cities of new houses are being built, and, above all, though the Labour Party do not give any credit to the Government for it, an increasing number of meals are being given to the school children so chat they may take advantage of the learning which is put before them and be strong and healthy during their school-time.
It is very difficult to assess the value of these services at the present day, because—let us be fair—most of these services were not working when the recruits who are coming forward now were children. Therefore you may say that the services I have enumerated will, in due course, so improve the health of the young people of this country that no further action is necessary. That is a matter of opinion, and one which the Government no doubt will investigate. Personally, I do not think that will meet the case altogether, or indeed go very far. What happens to the child as regards physical improvement while at school? That really is a very important aspect of the question. For the sake of convenience I should like to divide the school population into three classes—children from five to nine years old inclusive, a class containing all those ten years old, and finally, a senior class containing those from eleven years to fourteen plus.
§ I do not think the State does very much for the health of those children as far as games and exercise in the open air are concerned. I am informed that generally speaking the children in the five to nine years class spend twenty minutes every school day in physical exercises, and that is all. That does not seem to me very helpful, as most of these exercises, I suppose, are carried out in the school building whereas four-fifths of the benefit of exercises conies from being in the open air. Those children who are ten years old get the same amount of physical exercise and in addition they get half-an-hour of games once a, week. The senior class of children from eleven to fourteen plus are given the same physical exercise, but in their case the time spent on games is generously extended from half-an-hour to three- 50 quarters of an hour. That depends upon there being playing grounds. As some noble Lords know, perhaps, better than I do, the provision of playing fields, though it is now being augmented to a certain degree, is ludicrously inadequate to meet a programme even so meagre and so skimpy as the one I have outlined to your Lordships. I think we may fairly say that these specific remedies for bad physical development among children are, to put it moderately, very inadequate to carry out the object in view.
§ It is very difficult in a debate such as this to pin any noble Lord who is going to speak, including myself, to any specific remedy. Perhaps the point would be better put if I said that each one has his own specific remedy. Members of the Labour Party say that the whole trouble is due to the fact that the children are not given sufficient food. Personally, I think that what is even more important is that their mothers are not taught to cook food. The children must be well fed in the home as well as at school. I think the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, would agree with me in that, and I would support him regarding the provision of more meals for school children if he would support me in urging that greater facilities should be given for the future mothers of the children of this country to learn how to cook, and in urging that they should not be allowed to finish their school course until they do know how to cook. Everybody has his own particular hobby. Mine is physical exercise in the open air. What can we do? It would be absurd and perhaps even impudent for me to lay down any plan. The subject is very complex and the Government have only just taken it up. Probably the Government do not know themselves what they are going to do. They must make investigations and see what can be made out of the present situation.
§ But what I would beg of the Government is this, that that they should not take some very exiguous plan. If they are going to have a plan at all it should be worthy of the nation and worthy of the object in view. One thing that strikes me as being possible is this. At the present moment the local education authorities both in town and country, through powers given to them by the Ministry of Labour, are able to compel, and do compel, youths who are unemployed between the ages of fourteen plus 51 and nineteen to attend evening continuation schools for the purpose either of receiving more book learning or learning a trade. I would propose that that policy be earned further. If the Ministry of Labour, with the concurrence of Parliament, can adopt that measure of compulsory attendance at evening classes, there is nothing to prevent, and I do not think anybody ought to object to, the same policy being applied with the object of remedying defects in their bodies. If that policy was adopted these youths would be given a certain amount of open air life and exercise which I consider so important. It would be given at any rate to a portion of the youths of the country—a small portion now, thank goodness, because there are few unemployed among the youths of the country. But I would go further and say that any youth, whether he is employed or not, so long as he can show that he is not in a position to pay for it, should be allowed to attend classes free of charge for courses of physical exercise.
§ That is one end of the programme. The other end is something which one hardly dare mention to your Lordships' House because one might be accused of abolishing the personal liberty of the young people of this country. There is a land which I visited two months ago, which my noble friend Lord Dawson also visited—perhaps I may be allowed to call it Ruritania—where there is the most complete and successful scheme of physical training which I suppose any man could imagine. At the present time in Ruritania every young man between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one is compelled to join a labour unit for a period of six months. That is not new in Ruritania. Before the present régime came into office there were in Ruritania 200,000 young men who voluntarily, absolutely without compulsion, served in these labour units—not, I think, for six months, but for three or four months—because they were told by their leaders that it was a fine thing to do something for your country and not do everything for yourself. That system went on, and it was done largely for the relief of unemployment, so that all the young people between eighteen and twenty-one were "mopped up" and not on the unemployed list. For various reasons, when the present régime came 52 into office, it was made compulsory because it was found that the effort was largely wasted; there was no co-ordination and generally the maximum effect was not produced; so that now in Ruritania from the first day of last month this obligation was taken on by the youths there to serve six months in a labour battalion.
§ What do they do, these labour battalions? They carry out works which the local authority cannot carry out because they are not immediately profitable undertakings. A work may be profitable to the country as a whole but not profitable to the town or local district who would have to foot the bill if it were carried out on a commercial basis. What sort of works are these which the labour units do? They reclaim land from the sea, they take part in fighting coast erosion, they do large works in afforestation—afforestation which could be trebled and quadrupled here without any damage to anybody and with great advantage to the country. They do land drainage and repair bridges. In fact, 90 per cent. of what they do is connected with the land, and surely that would be a great advantage in the scheme if it were applied, even in part, in this country. Heaven knows that the countryside wants looking after much more than the towns, and here is a way to do it. What are the objects of this movement? It is a large movement, because at the present moment, with their instructors, there are 230,000 of these youths seeing service in Ruritania, and by 1939 their numbers will have risen to no less than 300,000. The first thing, the second thing and the third thing is to improve the physique of the nation, and those of us who were in Ruritania two months ago and saw the unbelievably fine body of young men which had been turned out by these three or four, five or six months of out-door life were deeply distressed to think that you could not see anything among the youth of this country comparable to it. Then again, the movement rests upon the desire to increase the wealth of the country, and undoubtedly if you can do land reclamation, if you can do afforestation, if you Can do land drainage by the State at no cost to the locality, then you are adding very greatly to the assets of the nation.
§ Last but not least is a rather curious object: to get all classes to know each other better. You will say, "Well, they 53 do that in the Army." In Ruritania they have, of course, a conscript Army, but not on the same basis as these labour battalions, because the labour battalions are all run on a territorial basis. If you had anything of that sort in this country the Isle of Wight, we will say, would provide one or two of these units, which are only 140 strong. No one who was not an Isle of Wight man would be allowed to be in that unit, and all the Isle of Wighters would have to go into a unit which was made up of Isle of Wight people. The idea is that if boys of eighteen to twenty-one, fifteen to nineteen, or anything you like, are brought together for six months into close contact, know each other, call each other by their Christian names, work together, eat together and sleep together, then when they go back to their homes class divisions will have been swept away; they will be friends and will understand each other better than they did before they went into the unit.
§ I do not suppose anything of that sort would be adopted in this country at the present time. Noble Lords opposite would call it compulsion conscription and all sorts of bad names, and noble Lords on this side would say that individual liberty must be preserved. Probably there is a great deal of truth in all that they would say. But what will probably happen as the result of the Government's views and of debates in both Houses of Parliament is that we shall do something on a voluntary basis, and something more on a voluntary basis, and finally we shall probably do something which is linked up with compulsion and linked up with the Board of Education and with no other Ministry. I regard it as a vital thing that this physical improvement of the people by the Government should be a continuation of the work done by the Board of Education and should not be done by any other Government Department at all. After all, the Board of Education, which has had the care of a child from the age of five to the age of fifteen—or fourteen plus, whatever it is—is obviously the authority to carry on with the good work, not from the book-learning point of view but from the physical point of view. Thank you, my Lords, for listening to me in such a very courteous and patient way. I only hope that my simple proposals may not be jumped upon too violently by noble Lords who will follow me. I do not pretend to 54 lay down the law as to what should be done. All I ask of your Lordships is that you should concentrate on the point that something ought to be done, and that soon. I beg to move.
§ LORD DAWSON OF PENN
My Lords, I listened with great interest to the speech of the noble Lord. I have had the advantage, like himself, of visiting other countries as part of the policy of my profession to seek knowledge wherever we can find it. I have visited not only Germany but also Sweden and Denmark, and I will say here and now that they have in many respects studied these questions to greater advantage than we have. To my mind this is a question so big that it transcends in importance and in scope this or that political or social question. I suggest to your Lordships that it goes far deeper in its extent, and also further back in point of time. A time has arrived when we need to take stock of our ideas and keep pace with events. For instance, it is surely a small view to take to espouse nutrition and depreciate physical education, as certain right reverend Prelates of late have done. Surely it is equally foolish to pretend that the human race can be independent of the laws of sound breeding, though it is equally true that the qualities we seek in the human race are more complex and, if you will, nobler and more beautiful than we seek in animals. That, however, does not alter the fact that we are bound by the laws of breeding, and if we neglect them as a nation we are going to suffer. There are evidences now that we are suffering. It is evident, therefore, that only if we take a large and not a parochial view of this question can we hope to achieve our object.
I want at the outset of my remarks to save myself from any errors in the understanding of those who are good enough to listen to me. To avoid circumlocution in expression I do not know of any better terms than those of "fit" and "unfit,'" it being understood once and for all that the term fit comprehends the whole man, body, mind and character. It is a little difficult to determine where the signs of physical defect in the nation reside. There is—and it is good that there should be—a conflict of facts. It would, in my opinion, be quite wrong to say that this nation is a deteriorating nation. On the other hand, I think it 55 would be right to say that there are in our midst the seeds of deterioration, and we all know that seeds quickly multiply. To those in search of encouragement I would suggest that they visit our elementary schools, say in London. There they will find the children as a whole well nourished, well kept, bright, of good colour and brimful of vitality, with better promise of good teeth. The scourge of rickets is disappearing. It is true that I have chosen a good sample, for the London County Council is in the forefront of enlightenment, and has brought the physical education of its children to a more advanced stage than other parts of the country. At the same time it is true that amongst these children there is a minority of weaklings.
If you inspect, on the other hand, various groups of adolescents—I mean boys in our public schools, young men in factories, and groups of hikers and Territorials—you are at times ill at ease. So often groups will show defects in their bodies which bode ill for the future of their health as they grow older. It must be borne in mind that youth can afford to have defects and not show the results. There is such a margin of energy and power in youth that they can be good at games, despite the fact that they have defects which bode ill for their future ten years hence. I remember that about a year ago I saw a group of Territorials at a ceremonial function. When you looked at their heads, and their bearing, they obviously belonged to a good class of men, but when you looked at their bodies half of them were defective, and you felt what a shame it was that these fine fellows should not be endowed with the best that the nation could give them. It is the same with the hikers. Watch a party of high-spirited hikers making the best of their Sunday. You will see physical defects—one shoulder higher than another, a back not straight, defects perhaps of breathing, defects which do not affect them until later in life and then render them unfit for their work.
We have had definite warning of the C3 men after the War. We had warnings lately from Aldershot. We have had those definite warnings, and as a result the question has become very urgent at the present time. If it is said that the average boy and girl of to-day are taller and stouter and heavier, the answer at 56 once is that that is true, but mere bulk of frame is not evidence of fitness, and we have to remember that the demands on our race to-day are greater than they were in days gone by, for a nation, like an individual, can never stand still. Standing still is more often followed by regression than by progression. If we are to live up to the highest standard which the modern world requires of us, and this nation is to maintain its leadership, the physique of its race has to go on improving to the very fullest of its capacity.
I do not propose, my Lords, to spend much time on the side of physical development. That question has taken such a hold of the nation that it is common ground that it must be in the forefront of our programme, but I would urge that we must distinguish between the functions of physical education and the functions of physical recreation. Physical education should take place in school hours. It should train the youth to get the best out of their stature and powers, and it should be guided by the teacher. It is astonishing to think that whereas we do not allow the mind of a boy to stumble along as best it may, without training, we think it is quite enough to let the body of the boy stumble along without any training or guidance. In fact physical education and training are complementary of one another, each in its proper sphere, and there is no division of opinion at all that the best of physical recreation, which teaches the boy leadership and team work, and gives him qualities of character, should be given to every class of the community.
I cannot bring myself to think that the present need for going into this matter depends upon political considerations. I suggest that the defects which compel us to take stock of the situation go deeper than that. No doubt problems like urbanisation and the depletion of the countryside are playing their part. But there is this further, and I am inclined to think underlying, reason, that in increasing measure, to-day, we are not only reaping the advantages of the progress of medical science and the operation of our social services, but also are beginning to reap the disadvantages. Years ago nature's methods were to have a high birth-rate and a high death-rate, both adult and infant, and with that a 57 big turnover. That brought about a substantial elimination of the weaklings of the race. Thus we obtained a strong race by the rather rough method of eliminating the unfit Now, the effect of medical knowledge and the growth of public conscience have lowered the death-rate and steadily, year by year, nature's method has been rendered nugatory. I take another example. In former years the weaklings of both body and mind sank to the lowest economic level. They lived precariously; they mated with their kind; and amongst those there was a very high death-rate Take for example tuberculosis, which carried people off by hundreds, and similarly with other diseases of nutrition. Now what is the state of affairs to-day? That group of weaklings is not eliminated to anything like the same extent. We give them maintenance—and I am not complaining that we do; I am simply trying to analyse the facts—we give them maintenance, and we give them treatment. They are even able to many on their maintenance allowance. So these weaklings are preserved, and they are contributing to a lamentable extent, in so far as they do contribute, to the future of the race.
It seems to me clear that we are more and more feeling the result of having rendered nature's methods nugatory: we are preventing the elimination of the unfit. We have removed nature's method of selection, and nowadays more and more the responsibility of selection rests with ourselves. In short, we are preventing the death of the unfit as the result of our civilisation, but we have not planned any adequate substitute. So far as I can see, there is only one adequate substitute, and that is to promote the fit on the one hand, and see to it that we take care of the inherently unfit and prevent them from vitiating the race. If we allow the policy of promoting the fit to affect our policy, and we turn to our social and intellectual services, I suggest that we have to make them more selective; that is, while securing for the child of average abilities every opportunity in the limited sphere of usefulness for which it is fit, we have to do everything we can to push forward the better and the best. The administrative difficulties might at first be great, but if we would, say at the age of fifteen, put down a sieve and let those pass through and go on to the next stage, and again at sixteen or seventeen put 58 down another sieve and see how many get through it, and then take the final filtering, there is no money that it would not be worth our while to spend to push that filtrate forward.
The testing of the fit at each of these stages is not a thing to be determined just by an examination, or a mere test of the boy's or girl's mind, but it must include also a study of their bodies and their development, and a study of their character, In other countries, if it is found that a boy or girl reaches a certain stage of mental fitness, say at fifteen or sixteen, and that boy or girl has not a physique equal to the standard that should exist, that child is turned back and given sufficient further physical training to make it fit, to make it pass through the requisite sieve. I want to make myself clear, if I may. It is only by pushing forward the fit by active measures like that that you will make up for the fact that you are rendering nature's methods nugatory. You are not putting anything in the place of what you are steadily taking away. If you once get the fit forward, you will got a group of young leaders whom you will train, no doubt in special schools, and once you get those leaders forward they will be a pattern and a model. They will set the pace, they will set the fashion, and they will also influence the taste of the young community; those leaders will put their impress on those who follow. More than that, you get a process of collective maintenance, because like will attract like, and you will get the healthy girls being married to the healthy men, and you will thereby get the good race. A great danger I see at the present moment is that we go on—rightly go on—rendering nature's methods nugatory, but we do not apply ourselves sufficiently seriously to a substitute in the shape of promoting the fit.
I pass to another aspect of this question, the smaller families of to-day. The smaller family, if we rightly consider it, does add to fitness. At one time nature eliminated the weakling children by a high infant death-rate We have put a stop to that. Now that we have reduced our infant death-rate down to 57 we must remember that we are not only saving the fit children but we are also saving the unfit children. In so far as we save the unfit children—and it would have been far better if many of them had not survived— 59 we are doing a damage to the community; an unavoidable damage if you will, but we are doing a damage to the community. We have therefore to add something to make up for that, and the way we are striving to do it is by having fewer children and fitter children. It is a fact that the smaller families of to-day have a higher proportion of fitter children, and the mothers of those children are as well as, and in my judgment better than, those of any previous generation.
And there is this interesting reflection, that it is the high infant death-rate that has accounted in large measure for contraception. It is one thing to have twelve pregnancies and five children reared—which was the state of things some years ago—and it is a very different thing, with our lower infant death-rate, to have twelve pregnancies and ten children reared. In other words, if you are not going to have families of a size which to-day is impossible, you are forced to have contraception largely because you are lowering your infant death-rate. At the same time it is true—and I think it must be owned to be true—that we do not want a population that is too small. From a national point of view, if we have too small a population our leadership in the world might easily be imperilled, and I think we need an appeal—and I believe it would be answered if we applied reasoned arguments—that there should be adequate parenthood.
I pass lastly to another and difficult part of the question. On the one hand we have to plan actively for a fit race. That must activate all our policy, whether it is physical education, physical recreation, or family life. We must get the fit citizens to the forefront and secure leaders of youth and make them set the pace. But now we have to realise that by our lower death-rate there is a residue of inherently unfit that no environment, however favourable, is going to raise up to the level of good citizens. They are the tares in the field of life. Now, in days gone by those inherently unfit were eliminated, not entirely, but in larger numbers; they were cared for but little. They just floundered along as best they could. To-day we are preserving them. It is quite proper we should. But we have to protect them and to protect the race. From 60 the point of view of education, surely those who are inherently unfit should be given a kindly, simple shelter, and no effort should be made to raise them above their biological level. If you raise them above their biological level and plant them on the community, you run the risk of vitiating the race by the increase of their defects. These defectives, whether they are physical, mental, or moral, if they happen to be carriers of disease to descendants or if they are undesirable parents, should, I suggest, be discouraged from reproduction and, where possible, prevented from undertaking parentage.
Let me give one or two examples. Take the tragedy of bleeders. Every generation the girls, if they marry, are liable to transmit the bleeding disease to their sons. It has been traced back for generations. You see tragedy arising here and there if you only follow it. I take another example—hereditary blindness—not a very common disease, but a very tragic one. Then take inherited deformities of the hand. Children are born with a considerable prospect of inheriting deformed hands. Then take the question of cyclical insanity. Think what happens. The parent is in an asylum, gets perfectly well after a while, demands discharge, receives it, and during the period of discharge produces another child. The mother, in an agony of mind, knows full well that the child when it comes is liable to be insane.
May I pass to the question of mental defectives? There are 250,000 mental defectives in our community, sufficiently fit to hold their own economically in that existence but unfit from the point of view of parents. It has been calculated that if one parent or two parents are subject to this disease, the children born of them are liable to be defective to the extent of one-third, and to the extent of one-half the children will not be normally minded. That is a considerable figure when you have 250,000 such defectives in the community. May I quote one outstanding case which shows graphically how easy it is to get the race vitiated? A woman who was a mental defective, with a bad heredity on that side, after two illegitimate children, had fifteen children born in wedlock. Of these, nine were mental defectives and only two were normal. If these children were free to move about the community, if they were 61 not really incapable of looking after themselves—they have a greater freedom now after the age of sixteen—if ten of these children should marry and produce families, it does not require much thought to realise to what extent the race could be vitiated, say, after fifty years. It might easily run into thousands.
We doctors are always being exhorted to think in terms of prevention, and we are more and more striving to do so. We take sanitary measures to prevent the spread of infectious diseases; we inoculate practically whole communities, schools and other places, in order to prevent the spread of disease and arrest it at its outset. I ask in all reason why we should not use preventive measures to prevent the birth of children who are not wanted, who are a misery to themselves, a misery to their parents, and damaging to the race. My experience is—and this is certainly true of the Western part of America—that these people do not want to be parents. Where they have been deprived of the possibilities of parenthood, there is hardly an instance where they express any regret; they know they are incapable of the responsibility, they know they cannot stand the racket; and if they are of a higher standard of intelligence, they are terrified of producing bad children for the race.
It is only an accident that we doctors at the present time have not the power of offering—only offering—to these poor things relief from the dangers of parentage. It is a mere chance, and that chance is this, that back several hundred years ago, when there was an awful practice of getting someone to maim you in order that you might escape military service, there arose a law against maiming. That law has existed down to this day. It was never meant to apply to any skilled profession, but the law is there. At the present time it is doubtful, and more than doubtful, if I would be enabled to advise the prevention of parenthood, however grave the risk to the person involved. I should lay myself open to be guilty of a breach of this law against maiming. I suggest, as a remedy, simply that the medical profession be exempted from the terms of that ancient law and that we be enabled to extend our powers of preventive treatment in such cases as we are asked to treat and where it is right to proceed. It would be on all fours with 62 the rest of our treatment. We advise; we do our best to persuade what is the best course. There is no compulsion; there is no suggestion that any other course should be followed. I have been trying to show that this is a question of large import which cannot be approached except from all these varied aspects, and I would plead in the months to come, when this great question is being considered, that it should be considered in all its bearings, remembering that on our efforts may well depend the destiny of our race.
§ LORD MILNE
My Lords, my sole reason or excuse for intervening in this debate is that for practically the whole of my life I have had to deal with the training of young men. For the past few years as chairman of possibly the only physical training institute in the East End of London, I have come across and had to deal very intimately with young men who have passed the school age and who are desirous and anxious to improve their physical development. Quite lately the Minister of Health said: "We are not a C3 nation, but the reverse." It is true we are not a C3 nation, but we are very far from being an A1 nation.
May I just refer to the statistics of the War? Owing to the lack of any form of physical training and any standard of physical fitness in this country there are no statistics at all that we can rely on; but when the nation was mobilised for the Great War only under 50 per cent. came up to grade, which was not a very high standard. I was rather surprised when the noble Lord, Lord Mount Temple, said that only 47 per cent. of the would-be recruits for the Army in 1935 had been medically rejected. That is certainly an improvement in the standard since I left three years ago, because I think that in 1932 57 per cent. of those who were medically examined were rejected. And I would ask your Lordships to remember that of that number probably 40 per cent. were in employment; they were not unemployed but they were employed young men. But there is a worse standard. Many men never come up for medical examination because they are turned down by the recruiters, and that comes to about 23 per cent annually of those who offer themselves. I think, therefore, that you will agree that the standard is a very 63 low standard and that much must be done for this nation. I would ask your Lordships to recognise what is done in the Services and what could be done for the nation by a proper co-ordinated physical and mental training, by good food and properly cooked food, by proper medical supervision in which defects are remedied, by proper physical training, and also by instruction in hygiene which, I think, is possibly more required than other things.
Something has been said about the children. In the primary schools only round about 20 per cent. of the children suffer from defects which can be remedied by physical training. These defects generally arise before they come to school. In the secondary schools, where the children are selected to a certain extent, the reports show that the standard of physique is very much better; but I should like to stress that there is a danger of questions of health giving way, especially sight giving way, to that striving after success in examinations which is becoming so prominent at the present moment. But I should like to congratulate the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education for what is being done in the State-aided schools. Possibly the time allotted is short, but it is taken out of school hours and not out of games. It is part of the curriculum of the school. The instructors are based on a very sound system. They are the schoolmasters themselves. They are trained as schoolmasters, they work with the children, they get special training in physical education, but that training is not sufficiently detailed and not sufficiently long. That wants distinct improvement. But the great point is that owing to sound medical examination defects can be found out and remedied by physical training.
I wish I could say the same of another class of school which ought to be very much better. I refer to the preparatory and public schools of this country, where games are studied and carried out possibly to perfection, but where physical training as physical training is very often, much too often, very badly neglected. For some reason headmasters will not allow physical training to be taken out of the time allotted to mental training and to games, and in those schools there is no medical supervision 64 on the same lines as in the State-aided schools. Defects are not being remedied in the same way. And last, and almost worst, there is no proper system of instructors. Too often—and I will return to that later—the drill instructor is put in charge of physical training, and I have no hesitation in saying that I think the drill instructor is the very last person who ought to be told off for physical training. The difference of the two is very great indeed.
What does seem to be lacking in this country, and the defect, I hope, will now be remedied, is a universal system. There are many systems of physical training in the world, but we do want a British system of training to suit the British temperament and British characteristics. That should be easy to find and when found it ought to be carried out in all the schools, because it is essential that the physical training and the mental training and the medical man should act together. Much more than people imagine the one reacts on the other. Too often physical training is carried out—I speak with deference to the noble Lord, Lord Horder, by my side—without reference to the medical man, and often very much damage is done. It is essential that those two should work together, and it is essential that physical training and physical education should not be regarded as something separate, but should be regarded as part and parcel of the education of every young man in the country. It is during these formative years from fourteen to eighteen that I am certain, by a proper system, we could build up not only the bodies of the young but the mental faculties and the character. We could quicken the brain power, and, I believe, by a proper system of physical training, we should add to the moral strength of the young men of the country. I would stress the point, that the training of the physical instructor is just as important as the training of the mental instructor.
Many of the people in this country who are in close contact with the young men and the young women after they leave school feel that what they have gained at school they lose once they leave school. The reason of that is that there are no facilities at all for the youth of the nation to carry out physical-exercises. They are lacking in all opportunities for physical development.
65 That is why as we go along the streets we see thousands of weakly, badly developed bodies which might be made by a proper system into fine, well set-up men. I am certain that if industry demanded any standard of efficiency in physique we should be sadly lacking in workmen in this country. Our modern methods of mechanisation, in which no use is made of the physical attributes of the body, are adding every day to the depreciation in the physique of the nation. It is on behalf of the young people after they leave school that I appeal. The Government should do something for those young men and young women. I welcome very much the statement made by the Minister of Health the other day that physical education and development should be aided by further Government assistance and should be given a definite place in the Government's health scheme. That assistance must be of a financial nature, because finance is the difficulty with which all those who are keen on physical training have to contend at the present moment. I am certain that any such expenditure will be repaid tenfold in helping the industry and commerce of our nation.
There is one other thing I want to say quite clearly and that is that there is no connection between physical education and militarism. Physical education is a totally different thing from drill. As I have said, the worst; instructor in physical training is very possibly the best drill sergeant. What those of us who are interested in physical training are aiming at is so to develop the bodies of the young men of the country as to raise them to a standard of fitness that will stimulate their mental activities and really enrich their lives, by giving them pleasure in their games and pleasure in their work, which only a sound body can possibly give. But there is one very great obstacle to the carrying out of any constructive scheme of physical training. There are in this country, outside the Services, practically no properly qualified instructors. The extraordinary thing is that in that respect girls are better off than boys. There is only one, college in Leeds that turns out instructors About sixty a year are turned out and they are swamped.
As the head of a college in the East End of London, the Lucas Tooth Institute, where boys pay a small fee out of their 66 hard earnings to receive instruction once a week and to develop their bodies, I appeal to His Majesty's Government to help to inaugurate centres for training leaders of boys' clubs. It takes some time to train instructors but it is an easier matter to train leaders, and these boys' clubs are crying out for leaders to instruct them. Those leaders are justified in demanding payment. The instruction and production of leaders is the first thing we have to consider, together with the provision of places—not only playing grounds but covered places, because they will be used a great deal in the evening after the day's work is done—where instruction can be given. That is what the youths of the nation are crying out for at the present moment.
§ LORD HORDER
My Lords, I do not abate in the least degree the customary plea for indulgence on the occasion of first addressing your Lordships. As a doctor I am interested a great deal in this subject, but I do not propose to weary you with a long speech. In that way I hope to obtain your favour on future occasions. My noble and distinguished colleague, the President of the Royal College of Physicians, referred to the great importance of clarifying our terms. The noble Lord, Lord Dawson of Penn, differentiated between physical training and physical recreation. But we are surely all agreed that what is wanted, to use the noble Lord's own words, is the bettering of the national physique. My noble colleague takes a long view, a view that begins with eugenic preparation for physical and mental fitness, that plans for a continuation of this fitness, that concentrates on the plastic and trainable period of life and on the importance of selecting at about that age those who can lead and so spread the gospel of fitness. It is a long road that we are asked to travel, and I know no short cut. I know of no royal road. What I say to your Lordships this evening I want to be taken as supplemental to rather than substitutional for the ideal of the noble Lord, Lord Dawson.
Mr. Greenwood and some others seem to scent an ulterior and veiled motive in the references of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Minister of Health to a possible campaign for physical fitness as though a short view was to be taken, with intensive methods, with the Government's 67 mind perchance bent upon a prepared nation for a special if not an immediate objective. Well, why not? If we are precariously unfit in regard to mechanised defence that surely is no reason why we should be equally unready in regard to personal fitness. The universal assent that has been given to adjustment in the former case surely must not be withheld in regard to the latter. But whether we take the long view or the short view, we must surely take the wide view. Fitness for living, fitness for working—fitness for fighting, if it must be—can never be attained by mere physical measures, whether these be educational or re-creative. As has been said, it cannot be thought that the Government have such limited methods in view. There are other still more basic things that are imperative in this matter: food, shelter, air and leisure. All these are essential to that rise in health and morale which, if we take the long view, are requisite. I therefore urge the Government not to cease from any of the efforts in these directions which already stand to the credit of the Ministry of Health, of Labour and of Education, but rather that these methods be intensified and expedited.
The Minister of Health has had an opportunity of advertising legitimately, as I think, what has been done in these directions. Why not advertise more fully what the nation has itself done in these directions? Such advertisement would be wholesome for our self-respect and would be salutary reading for some other nations. We should have heard more about it if other nations had gone half the length that we have gone in the last decade. Here is propaganda of an attractive kind of which I venture to think, with his past successful experience in another Department, that the Minister of Health will take notice. But, my Lords, much remains to be done. Surely there is need for more co-operation between Government Departments concerned in these things. The Ministries are Departmental, we understand, but must they be so compartmental? I spoke of food because I believe food to be fundamental in all questions of fitness. I prefer the word "food" to "nutrition." As a scientist I am interested in calories and vitamins; as a doctor I am a little dubious whether nature really intended us to be so selective in our diet as some 68 people suggest. But as one who is anxious to avoid the delays that exasperate, I would say: Look after the accessibility of the right foods and nutrition will look after itself. Then, as I see it this question of food and its distribution is surely not a matter of one Ministry but of several, and I should like to see more co-operation in this respect between the Ministries of Health and of Agriculture, the Board of Trade, and—why not?—the Ministry of Transport.
Then I think it is vital that the interest of the nation itself should be roused in this question of fitness. You cannot really plan for improved fitness; even the best doctor cannot make his patient healthy, and we are beginning to see in Russia some of the effects upon a nation of being—if I may use that telling phrase—more planned against than planning. I am not decrying forethought. I welcome the promised Factories Act as an important contribution towards a better design for living for our younger raw material. But my own lead, if I may put it in that way, would be that the Government should speed up all those social services upon the results of which depend the health and happiness of the people. Does the Treasury bill appal some of an? I am not appalled if I can believe that the money has been wisely spent and spent rather for enduring than for merely temporary benefits. When I look at the cost of revolutions elsewhere I think that the cost of our revolution is small by comparison. We have so far spent nothing on bloodshed, but we have kept the greatest of all our assets, which is our individual liberty.
As for physical training, I am not sure that the methods and the means will not emerge rather naturally, given health and contentment. I know that the Board of Education sent delegates to Germany to study methods of physical exercise; but since when have Britons been dependent upon other nations for giving them the incentive to, or for teaching them, physical exercises? Let the Government stimulate and also subsidise existing institutions of whatever kind that centralise physical training and physical recreation, chief amongst which I should like to put the Central Council of Recreative Physical Training, a body in whose work several members of your Lordships' House take an active part. 69 By doing this they will rebut the charge of a hollow slogan on the one hand and encouraging a "ramp" on the other. Finally, my Lords, I hope that we shall not be regimented towards this act. I cannot think it is necessary. Let the Government have faith that if the people of Britain are given the modest requirements of security at home and security of sustenance, their sturdy commonsense will do the rest. The word "democracy" has been debased, out if I dare use it I would remind your Lordships that democracy, especially a democracy asked to be physically fit, also advances on its stomach.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, I hesitated very much to intervene, even for a few minutes, in this interesting discussion. I cannot claim to be an expert, and yet the subject is one which necessarily causes in my mind the greatest possible interest, affecting as it does the welfare of the whole people. I certainly cannot traverse the ground covered by the speech of my noble friend Lord Dawson, to which we listened with profound interest and close attention, nor do I propose to enter into the larger fields which have been put before us in the speeches of the noble and gallant Field-Marshal and Lord Horder. I only want to call attention to one particular and limited point. I do so partly because I know that two of the right reverend Prelate? on this Bench, if they had been present, would have called attention to it, and I should like to associate myself with what they would have said. The very limited point to which I wish to refer only in a few sentences is one that has already been mentioned in the course of the debate. It is the danger less the standard of nutrition, whether among children or among adolescents, should fall short of the standard of body necessary for profiting by physical exercise or physical training.
With regard to the children, of course there has been in this? matter a very great deal of exaggeration, and I noted—and I am sure we all noted—with great satisfaction the statistics which were brought before another place not long ago by the Minister of Health. I should like to say how glad I am to notice everywhere o an extension of the provision of milk and suitable meals for 70 children in our elementary schools. But it is one thing to have a standard of nutrition which is adequate for the ordinary school life, and another thing to have a standard of nutrition which is adequate to withstand the actual strain which physical exercise is bound to bring upon the body, to say nothing of the extra hunger which these physical exercises are bound to create. Therefore I think it is of very great importance that, so far as the children are concerned, there should be the most careful medical inspection as to whether in point of nutrition any of the children can safely be put through the physical exercises which on every other ground are so desirable.
When we turn to the adolescents, those who have left school—and I should hope most of them have received some employment—there it is abundantly evident that the need is not less but greater for opportunities for physical training and physical recreation, but there are multitudes of these younger men and women who have not the advantage which in our elementary schools the children have of free meals or the distribution of milk, and it seems to me not improbable that some of them, and those often the most eager for physical training, may not be sufficiently nourished to stand the strain, so that what we would wish to be a benefit may be actually a hindrance to their full development. It is extraordinarily difficult to know how to deal with that problem, but I should hope that further and fuller consideration will be given in this matter to a considered policy of food production in the country, food distribution, and not less food preparation. I have no doubt the quite admirable Committee on Nutrition, which I understand has been appointed, will give adequate consideration to the matter. I am sure it is one of very real importance, and that we are in danger, if I may use the words in a letter to The Times by the Bishop of Winchester, of putting the cart before the horse; in other words, we must be sure that the body, whether of the child or of the adolescent, is capable by proper nutrition of development before attempting to make it more fit by physical exercise and training.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, it is a privilege of which I am very 71 sincerely proud to be able to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Horder, on his maiden speech in this House. I shall not pay him the doubtful compliment of saying that he is an ally of those of us who sit on these Benches, although I should be entitled to do so on the basis of his remarks this afternoon, but I should like to assure him that whether he speaks as an ally or as an opponent of any political Party represented in this House, he will always be listened to with attention and with the utmost respect. The fund of specialised and expert knowledge on which this House is able to draw is an advantage of which we are particularly proud, and our only complaint is that those who are best qualified to make constructive contributions do not do so as often as we would wish.
Your Lordships' House has, I think, been particularly fortunate to-night in securing speeches from two distinguished members of the medical profession, and from a Field Marshal of His Majesty's Army, because they have been able to provide information which otherwise it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to come by. At the same time I am bound, speaking with all due deference to the scientific knowledge of Lord Dawson of Penn, to be a little less optimistic about the prospects of scientific breeding as applied to human beings. I should like to remind your Lordships of a remark which Mr. George Bernard Shaw is supposed to have made in answer to a proposal of marriage from the eminent dancer, Miss Isadora Duncan. She knew his views about eugenics, which are, I suppose, rather similar to those of Lord Dawson of Penn, and on that basis was sufficiently bold to approach him. "Well," he said, "might it not happen that our children would inherit my body and your brains?" I do not tell that story in any jesting sense. I honestly believe we have not sufficient accurate knowledge of human heredity to be able to tell what people are best fitted to bring children into the world, and I should like to remind Lord Dawson of Penn that geniuses have very often been born of the very poorest stock. So I think it would be extremely dangerous if we were to adopt physical fitness as the criterion of fitness for parenthood.
I should like to say, in speaking for those who sit on these Benches, that we 72 welcome the obvious awareness of the Government to this urgent problem of the state of the national health, and that we are very glad that they intend to do something to improve the physique of the young. I am not one of those who are sceptical about the value of what you might call more scientific methods in the physical education of the young, and from that point of view it is, I think, the common ground of all Parties that any step forward would be welcomed. For other reasons we are bound to express our dissatisfaction with the attitude of the Government towards this problem of physical fitness. In the first place I think we are entitled to look back over a certain period of time. The Government have been in power for a year already, and another Government of which the composition was very similar—not identical but at least very similar—were in power in this country for four years previously, but only now has the machinery of State been put into operation to improve the physical standards of the young. It can hardly be a mere coincidence that this should occur not a year ago, not two or three or four years ago, but at the very time when His Majesty's Government are embarking on the largest programme of rearmament put forward by any Government since the War. I am not suggesting for a moment that any Government, of whatever political Party it might be composed, regards the working class from the angle of defence exclusively. That would clearly be unfair and unjust. What I am suggesting is that it should not require a national emergency of this kind, a period of great tension in the relations of European countries, to induce the Government to take definite steps towards improving the physical health of the young.
The essence of the few remarks that I have to make has, I think, already been expressed far more ably than I should be able to express myself on this subject, in two letters that appeared in The Times; his morning and in the speeches of the most reverend Primate and the noble Lord, Lord Horder, who spoke from the Cross Benches. It is simply this, that if the Government intend to face up to this problem of physical debility on the part of hundreds of thousands of the population of this country, then they have got to detect the root cause of this low standard of physical well-being and to 73 strike at that. And the root cause, as those to whom I have already referred have either said or implied, is surely malnutrition or under-nourishment. I do not wish to labour a point with which your Lordships' House is already exceedingly familiar, but I think it worth while to stress it again, and to stress it emphatically, owing to the peculiar circumstances of the debate to-night.
Your Lordships will remember that the great nutrition expert, Sir John Orr, produced a Report on the state of the national health in which he divided the total population of the country into six separate categories or groups on the basis of average income per person per week—on a basis, therefore, of wealth. Now the three lowest of these six groups, comprising together a half of the population, had an insufficient income to procure those nutritious foodstuffs which are necessary for an optimum standard of health. I would like to quote one sentence from Sir John Orr's Report. He says:The average diet of the poorest group, comprising 4,500,000 people, is deficient in every constituent examined. The second group, comprising 9,000,000 people, is adequate in proteins, fats and carbohydrates, but deficient in all the vitamins and minerals. The third group, comprising another 9,000,000, is deficient in several of the important vitamins and minerals.I would suggest that, however effective in a limited sphere the proposals of the Government may be, a mere increase in the amount and quality of sports and physical training available for the young cannot reduce under-nourishment or malnutrition. Such a routine is surely best suited to the physical health of any person who leads a sedentary life and enjoys the best possible nourishment, but who requires definite periods of physical recreation of a rather active order. I cannot see how measures of this very limited kind are going to affect beneficially, or to any appreciable degree, the children who inhabit the Depressed Areas of South Wales and North-West and North-East England.
It is generally urged by those who are in disagreement with our point of view that we are always ready to criticise the Government and to carp at the measures they propose, but at the same time can never suggest any constructive alternative. What I would like to do is to suggest a few practical and concrete measures that could well be adopted, 74 not in place, of what the Government are going to do but as a sort of supplementary programme. I do not wish to discourage any improvement in our existing social services; at the same time I am perfectly certain that the one suggested by the Government needs to be greatly added to if it is going to have the desired effect on the standard of physical health prevalent at this moment. Surely, as many of your Lordships and so many people outside have suggested, if the fundamental programme is one of adequate nutrition, then what we have to consider is how to increase the purchasing power of the ordinary working class family and how to reduce the cost of those essential foodstuffs that are necessary for an optimum standard of health.
I hope I shall not be considered to be ranging over too wide a field if I say that the problem envisaged in this way entails action in other directions as well. There should be an attempt at this moment to secure a reduction of indirect taxation, represented by tariffs and quotas, by mutual agreements with other countries, it is perfectly obvious that indirect taxation of this kind forces the working class family either to spend more money on manufactured products or other commodities that are not essential—or not so essential—from the point of view of health, or to spend more money upon agricultural products. I suggest that a reduction of this kind should first and foremost affect those necessary agricultural products which are the staple food of millions—I am thinking, of course,- of butter, eggs, milk and meat—and that a really determined effort should be made to strike what might be called a fair deal between the farmers and the consumers, which I think at present has not been struck owing to the tendency of the Government to give an excessive advantage to the farming community. In the second place I should like to endorse the appeal of the most reverend Primate for an extension of the supply of fresh milk in the schools and possibly for a reduction of the price at which it is provided to the children. This might well be coupled with an extension of the number of child welfare centres, which could certainly be extended with the encouragement of the. Government, and with a greater provision of fruit juice and fresh milk and other vitamin-containing foodstuffs in those centres.
75 Thirdly, I wish to make a plea that has been already made by those who belong to my persuasion in another place for the abolition of the family or household means test. I am not thinking of this regulation in regard to the general welfare of those thousands of working-class families who are affected by it at this moment. I am thinking merely of the reduction of income owing to the fact that, out of a wage that should only suitably be used to support themselves, they have to support as well all those relatives who may be living under the same roof. I suggest there is such a large surplus in the Unemployment Insurance Fund that the Government could afford to spend a little more on those who are now receiving unemployment allowances and who are past the period of unemployment benefit, while agreeing, of course, with the Government that in the two cases there is essentially a difference of principle.
Finally, there is one matter to which I would like to allude in a very few words, because I feel certain that, after nutrition, it is the most important contributory cause of the state of physical debility in which so many of our working-class families find themselves at this moment, and that is the chronic overworking—indeed I believe the word "exploitation" could be used without exaggeration in this context—of young persons between the ages of fourteen and eighteen. I should like to remind your Lordships that the only statutory regulation of hours of these young persons applies to factories and to the cotton mills where there is respectively a limit of sixty hours and fifty-five and a half hours per week. I am perfectly certain your Lordships will agree that a sixty-hour week is far too long for any child of fourteen, fifteen, or sixteen to work. We welcome the appearance on the programme of His Majesty's Government of a Factories Bill, but one cannot help being apprehensive lest it should not go far enough. We do urge His Majesty's Government to set an example to other countries—an example of which we certainly could be proud—by reducing the hours of work of young persons of both sexes to forty per week without overtime. This problem is specially urgent at the moment because, owing to the wave of prosperity, there is a natural demand for juvenile labour up to the very limit to 76 which it can be worked. I cannot help also putting in a plea for those young persons who would not be covered by any Factories Bill, but who are worked very often even longer hours than those who are so protected. For instance, there are 5,000 page-boys in London between the ages of fourteen and sixteen working seventy-two hours per week—an average of eleven hours on six days and six hours on Sundays.
I feel perfectly convinced that if the Government could envisage this problem, which all Parties and all persons of good will are anxious to solve, as a problem primarily of poverty on the part of those who wish to buy essential foodstuffs, then they could adopt measures which would go a very long way towards providing a solution. I am not satisfied that the mere increase in facilities for physical training and recreation and shorts is going to diminish very appreciably the appalling incidence of physical defects to which attention is being drawn at the present moment, and I am perfectly certain that unless His Majesty's Government are prepared to be more courageous and to expand the social services generally in a bolder and more generous way, we shall be faced for many years to come with a problem that is one of profound anxiety both from the point of view of the happiness of millions of working-class people and from the point of view of our own national defences.
My Lords, I feel very much like a minnow among the Tritons in intervening in this debate, and I am sure your Lordships will sympathise with me. I only want to say a few words on one particular angle and that is the comparison with Germany—I shall not call it Ruritania. I happen to have been three times in the last twelve months in Germany, not in Prussia, but in the South and in the centre, and in August last I drove slowly across the country from Belgium to Czechoslovakia, stopping at different places. The impression that remains upon one's mind is so remarkable that I cannot possibly agree with noble Lords who suggest we have nothing to learn from Germany. We have a great deal to learn from Germany. I do not wish in any way, in what I am going to say, to be understood as approving or disapproving of Germany's internal policy. 77 I do not consider I know enough about it to give an opinion, and, even if I did, I would not consider it my business to do so. I am speaking merely of what one sees with one's own eyes.
To begin with, there is no question about the difference in physical appearance between the people of Germany and the people of the southern part of Belgium, the northern part of France, and the people of Czechoslovakia. Physically, these people look definitely inferior to the ordinary people in Germany. The people in Germany are healthy, of good colour, civil, cheerful. I am talking of the country people. The villages are as clean as a new pin. One hardly ever sees a slum dwelling—and this is not only on the main roads. This does not only apply to the men but to the young women also. As your Lordships know, the young women in Germany do not use paint or lipstick, and I must say that that does not derogate from their attractions. The people look well set up; they are proud of themselves. Their clothing-is not perhaps very up to date but it is quite good enough. I cannot help thinking, speaking of course purely as a layman, that one of the essential causes of this is that they undoubtedly eat a great deal less than they used to do before, the War. The "stomach" and spectacles seem to have entirely disappeared. They are a healthy, active people.
Another cause which I am also convinced has a great deal to do with it is the form of physical training which they undergo. A good deal of it is drill. The noble and gallant Field Marshal (Lord Milne), my own chief, who has frequently had to reprove me in other days, will forgive me if I differ from him. I do not think drill is such a bad thing, at any rate the drill administered there. I personally am inclined to think that my presence in this House to-day is due to drill. I was what was known as a very bad "drill," and I have often thought that, owing to that reason, early in the late War I was transferred to the staff from my regiment, and that probably made a great deal of difference to me. For that reason I owe a certain debt to drill. The young people in Germany, more particularly the boys and young men go about in little companies. You meet them in the towns and villages. They have what they call a fuhrer or 78 young leader who is probably a little more intelligent than the rank and file. These young leaders take them about. I met one such party at Trèves, being shown the Roman amphitheatre in which I must say they appeared to take more interest than did their elders. You see these young people all over the countryside, which is a smiling picture of prosperity. You see them in the valleys of the Moselle and the Rhine being shown the local sights and all taking an interest in what they see. This I think is largely due to their healthy condition. This is common knowledge to everybody who is interested in these matters and knows what is being done in Germany, and I only emphasise it because I cannot agree with the suggestion that we have nothing to learn from Germany. I think we have a great deal to learn from Germany in this particular direction.
Something has been said about not enough being done in this country to supply physical training to our own workpeople. There, again, I should like to differ entirely. I myself—your Lordships will forgive me speaking of myself—am connected with two very large industrial companies who employ between them something like 50,000 workpeople. We provide our workpeople, both men and women, with almost every kind of opportunity for recreation. We have large playing fields for games such as tennis, cricket, football and golf, and there is a corps of Territorials which we largely support. We find that the provision of these facilities makes an enormous difference to productive capacity. We lose far fewer working hours than we should do if we did not provide these facilities for recreation.
I should very much like to recommend to any of your Lordships who may desire to see it a film which has been recently produced by one of these companies called "Nutrition." It is being shown in London. I think the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, knows about it. It shows exactly those points which the noble Earl has brought out. It shows the different classes of the population and how underfed some are. It is a film which can be seen for nothing, so I am not advertising it. It puts in a concentrated form what needs to be remedied and suggests what ought to be done. I may say that there is added to 79 it a shorter film of a lighter nature showing M. Boulestin cooking a very hot and very excellent dinner on certain sorts of cooking apparatus. It would probably interest the noble and gallant Field-Marshal who said we did not know how to cook. I should like to conclude by saying on behalf of the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Crewe) who cannot be in his place to-night, how greatly he is interested in the whole question. I should also like to remind your Lordships how great is the work that he has done as President of the London and Greater London Playing Fields Association which is affiliated with the National Playing Fields Association. That is one of the causes nearest to the heart of the noble Marquess among the very many activities to which he devotes himself.
§ LORD AMULREE
My Lords, I wish to take this opportunity of congratulating my noble friend opposite (the Earl of Listowel) on the speech he has made. So far as we are dealing with physical fitness I venture, if I may respectfully say so, to agree with my noble friend when he said that physical training, food and nutrition must go together. It seems to me impossible to expect any real physical training if that training has to be done on an empty stomach. Speaking of physical training and physical fitness, it is necessary that we should draw a clear distinction, as I think was done by the noble Lord, Lord Dawson, between physical training and physical recreation. We must distinguish between exercises for the purpose of promoting physical fitness on the one hand, and sports and games the object of which is recreation on the other hand. Broadly speaking we have at the present a national system for promoting physical fitness in our schools up to the age of fourteen. I am somewhat sceptical of its effectiveness. I think that the instructors aim far too much at smartness, and I do not think that the children really understand what they are doing, why they are doing it or how it is to be associated with the talks which they hear in class upon what is called hygiene and what would be much more intelligible if it were called health.
In a letter appearing in a recent issue of The Times, Professor Harris of Cambridge gives a caution against military smartness in the physical training of the young, and he observes that "sound 80 physical education should connote something distinct from regimentation." I think the noble and gallant Field Marshal bore out that statement. I do net wish it to be understood that I am against smartness in the training of children, but what I am anxious to emphasise is that that part of the training should net be overdone. In regard to this part of the subject I think the time has now come when we should have an inspectorate of physical training parallel with the inspectorate of class teaching. I believe that the influence of such a body would be very great and its reports would give us something solid to go upon in our discussions.
I come next to recreational facilities, including sports and games. These apply to the old and the young. They differ enormously both in quality and quantity. One town, for example, may have two or three large business establishments each of which provides playing fields for its staff. Another town may have no large establishments but a number of small firms which naturally do nothing for their employees. I would urge a survey of recreational facilities, which should be provided either by the local authority or by private enterprise, so that We may know how far the expansion of these facilities is going hand in hand with the redistribution of our population which is now in progress. At present we can only guess at it. In this connection it would be important to determine whether our town-planning legislation has had any effect whatever on the provision of proper recreational facilities alongside the development of new housing estates by local authorities and by private enterprise. A survey such as I have suggested would show this.
The other side of the recreational problem is presented by the voluntary societies. Generally speaking, these bodies get hold of the young people but do not and cannot provide the playing fields which they need. What we want to know is how far these voluntary agencies overlap or how for they stimulate one another. For example, is the Boys' Brigade strong in areas where the Boy Scouts are also strong or does strength in one agency tend to imply weakness in other agencies whose work is closely parallel to it? Further, how far do these 81 voluntary agencies, large and small, really cover the country? I am very greatly impressed with the need of preserving and extending all these voluntary agencies and I am equally impressed with the immense difficulty of fitting all our rich variety of voluntary agencies into a national system. Yet we managed to do something of this sort in our legislation for national health insurance, and we ought to try and do it again, realising that the national temperament dislikes too much bureaucratic uniformity. The need for a systematic and comprehensive survey is particularly great here. If it could be undertaken, either by the State or by some such body as the Council of Social Services it would enable us to see what is the position and whether any, and if so which, parts of the country are not covered by these organisations. With such a survey we should be in a position to act on the attractive suggestion made by one of the speakers at the recent National Labour Conference. This suggestion was that per capita grants should be made to the voluntary associations, subject, of course, to periodical inspection.
That brings me to nutrition. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, quoted Sir John Orr. No doubt he speaks with great authority, but what troubles me about his statement that roughly half the population are underfed, is in the first place that it is a generalisation. What trouble's me further is to know what evidence he was acting upon, and how far was that evidence adequate? In what way, if at all, can it be supplemented? What agencies are available for collecting information of this kind, and how far is their work to be encouraged and made more effective? These are the sort of qustions one would like answered before accepting the statement which my noble friend relied upon, which is of an alarming nature. The official information provided by the cost-of-living figures is now practically of little value. The cost-of-living figures are in fact based upon a large number of working-class budgets collected some thirty years ago. The immense change in public taste during the interval makes a new basis essential. If a new inquiry is in progress, as I am told it is, or is about to be undertaken, what method has been adopted or is to be adopted to collect information on these topics?
82 The noble Lord, Lord Horder, in a recent address in Edinburgh, emphasised the fact that "enough of the right food" is essential. If family budgets are again being taken as the basis, will particular attention be directed to the "right food"? This is really important, because many existing scales of wages and salaries are adjusted according to the cost-of-living figures. It is to be hoped that the new scheme will be well considered. An ill-considered scheme may have the effect of creating a good deal of industrial discontent. It appears to me, therefore, that to secure an effective scheme for the improvement of physical fitness in young people a good deal of spade work is necessary.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
My Lords, I think the noble Lord who moved this Motion must be very gratified with the debate which has resulted from it. There can be nobody, I think, who is not disturbed by the present condition of the physical fitness of the people. The noble Lord, Lord Amulree, is inclined to quarrel with the statistics of Sir John Orr. I do not think we need go further than the number of rejections for the military and naval forces, which I believe amount to well over 50 per cent. We need no more than the evidence of our own eyes as we go about, particularly in our towns, to be satisfied that there is need for a very great improvement.
I have listened with great attention to the debate this afternoon, and no one can have failed to be struck by the twin threads which have run right through it. We are agreed that the conditions call for drastic action, and we have had here this afternoon, broadly speaking, representatives of two schools of remedy. The noble Lord who moved the Motion emphasised rather the physical exercise side, whereas other speakers have dwelt on the nutrition side—or, as Lord Horder wishes us to say, the food side, and I think he is right. "Food" is much more expressive than "nutrition." There is only one point which I wish to make to your Lordships, and I venture to make it now, because I think it is important. First let me say how much I welcome what fell from the noble and gallant Field Marshal about the difference between drill and physical exercise. I was delighted to hear that, because I think that that remark, falling from 83 him, must help to allay the apprehensions which are evident on the Front Bench opposite. The word was not used, but I know what is in the minds of the noble Lords of the Socialist Party: they think that the only reason for this campaign for better physical conditions is to create cannon fodder.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
I hesitate to interrupt the noble Lord, but I was very careful in the remarks that I made earlier to point out that I did not cast on the Government the aspersion of regarding the working class as nothing but cannon fodder. I should like to make that perfectly clear, if I might, because I am quite certain that the noble Lord did not wish to misrepresent me.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
The noble Earl did certainly guard himself very carefully, but I thought he was a little ungenerous. If I were in his position I should be glad to see the campaign for improvement whether it came under the threat of a national crisis or not. But do not let us waste time in debating that point. The point I want to make is that, as between these rival advocates of physical exercise and food, the balance really falls down heavily on the side of those who are advocating better feeding, and for this reason. The younger the individual the greater the importance of good feeding; the need for good feeding is there long before you can bring the children within reach either of the drill sergeant or of the physical training instructor. It goes back, of course, to before the birth of the child. The importance of the proper feeding of the expectant mother is no less great than the importance of the feeding of the children in the early years of their existence.
The knowledge which has become available on the subject of proper diet in the last few years is, of course, very great. The noble Lords belonging to the medical profession who are here of course know all about it, and I expect most of your Lordships know about it. Reading on the subject recently, it has come as a surprise to me to learn of some of the experiments which have been carried out. I hold in my hand a report, issued under the auspices of the Medical Research Council, which gives an account of an experiment carried out 84 in a boarding-school where a pint of milk was given in addition to the ordinary diet over a considerable period. The existing diet was one which by itself satisfied the appetite of growing boys, but the addition to that diet of a pint of milk a day converted an average annual gain in weight of 3.85 lbs. per boy into one of 6.98 lbs., and an annual average increase in height from 1.84 ins. to 2.63 ins. That result was achieved simply by the addition of a pint of milk a day to what was regarded as a satisfactory diet. If that could happen on top of a diet which was satisfactory, obviously the addition of a pint of milk a day to a diet which was unsatisfactory would be more startling still.
It seems fantastic, when we consider that a greater production of milk would be a wonderful thing from the point of view of keeping people on the land and of helping agriculture, and at the same time that a greater consumption of milk by the population would be one of the test things that we could possibly have, to realise that we are unable to find the means of uniting that need with that supply. I do not think that the noble Earl who is going to respond for the Government will quarrel with me for bringing up the subject of milk. The advantage that the food advocates have over the physical exercise advocates, because of the importance of the early years, is what I really want to stress. I am not belittling the importance of physical exercises later on. I share the view that every sort of physical exercise and organised game is important, and I lope that the Government will push on with them.
Before I sit down, may I refer to one remark of the noble Lord, Lord Dawson? He mentioned the fact that, owing to our better social services, nature was now being prevented from eliminating the weaklings to a very great extent, and he emphasised that that circumstance perhaps produced a new problem. With very great respect to the noble Lord, that is surely not quite the whole picture. While the infant mortality rate is reduced—I speak with very great respect for the noble Lord—surely the rate of impaired health must be reduced also. Surely the noble Lord would not indicate that on balance the social services are having a deleterious effect, which I think 85 would follow if the only result was the prevention of the elimination of the weaklings. Surely there must also be very good results in the maintenance of a good standard among those who would otherwise have become weaklings. I only mention the point because I think it is dangerous for any statement to go out from the noble Lord, with his great authority, which appears to indicate that the social services, instead of being beneficial, might in that way be productive of a harmful result.
§ LORD DAWSON OF PENN
I am afraid I did not make my meaning clear. What I said was that the diminution, for instance, of the infant death-rate, so far as it saved those who were not inherently unfit, brought benefit to the rest; but unfortunately we have no means of deciding between the inherently unfit and fit and therefore we very rightly proceed with our measures to save as many infants as we can. But we must realise that this problem exists, and that we do incidently preserve inherently unfit children who would otherwise have been eliminated.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (EARL DE LA WARR)
My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, has said, the noble Lord who raised this question must indeed be feeling most gratified. I should think it is some time since your Lordships' House has had a debate in which so many real specialists have been able to contribute their point of view. A debate in which we have had the benefit of the combined advice of the noble Lord, Lord Dawson, and the noble Lord, Lord Holder, on questions of health is in itself an historic debate. It has given us an opportunity, incidentally, of hearing the noble Lord, Lord Horder, in his maiden speech. He said that he was going to be short: I can only say that he was just long enough to make us all feel quite sure that we are looking forward to the occasion when we shall hear him speak again.
Your Lordships will, I think, forgive me if I do not follow the speakers on every point. If this debate is distinguished for one thing more than another, it is that it has displayed the tremendous breadth of the subject with which we have had to deal. We have wandered from such questions as the 86 sterilisation of the unfit to the effect of lipstick on a lady's charms, and it is very difficult to contend that any subject which has been raised is in any way irrelevant to the matter under discussion. It is therefore very remarkable that, although the debate has wandered so far from one aspect to another, yet, as the noble Lord, Lord Balfour, has already said, there has been a central theme of agreement the whole time. For instance, your Lordships were, I think, agreed on the essential point that there is a need for a drastic attack on the health problems of this country. I think, equally, that your Lordships were agreed that, while there is that very great need, yet we can congratulate ourselves on the fact that some progress has been made in the past, and that we have at least some sound foundations upon which to build. Finally, I think there was complete agreement on the point that if we are going to tackle this problem at all, and tackle it effectively, then any policy we bring forward must be a comprehensive policy; and that if we follow on the one hand only those who say there is nothing but the question of nutrition or on the other hand those who say there is nothing but the question of physical training of a particular character, then we are bound to have an incomplete policy. We have even at a later stage—I think the noble Lord would himself admit that we cannot debate them at this stage—to consider the fundamental points made by Lord Dawson of Penn. I think he would be the first to admit that we are a long way from action on any of those points, because a great deal more knowledge is required, but none the less they are fundamental questions affecting the future of our race, and will have to be considered by any Government which wishes to make a contribution to this problem.
I think there is one other point on which there is complete agreement, except perhaps by one of the speakers, and that is this: that really, looking at the way in which the Government have already tackled the problem, it is not fair to use the present situation of the health of the nation as a stick with which to beat the Government's back. I think the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, which had some extremely interesting and important material in it, did perhaps a little lose by his anxiety to make a political 87 point against the Government. I was particularly interested when he came to the point of putting forward his proposals. What are they? The first was an extension of the cheap milk scheme. Who was it who initiated the principle of the cheap milk scheme for children? He asked for an extension of the welfare centres. In the last year or so they have been extended to the number of over 300. He also might have asked for an increase of the ante-natal clinics. During the last year they have been increased by about 117. Then we have had the question of playing grounds and facilities for recreation. How many of your Lordships realise that during the last year over £2,500,000 has been spent on that object, and over £1,000,000, double the amount spent in the year before, has been spent on the provision of swimming pools and gymnasiums.
Figures which have already been quoted were given the other day by the Minister of Health in another place as to the general improvement of the health statistics of the country. We have, of course, to be prepared to make certain exceptions with regard to exceptional areas, but, taking the country as a whole, those figures, from whatever angle you look at them, whether you take tuberculosis or infantile mortality, give some basis for confidence in the future. I do not put forward this statement as to what we have done, or those figures as to improvement, in any spirit of complacency in respect of the past or as a reason for suggesting that anything like enough has been done. Indeed there would be no case whatever for the new Government health policy if that were so. I simply want to make that point in order that we should start quite clear and on the basis which I think Lord Dawson of Penn appealed for—namely, a basis devoid of any intention to make political capital, one way or another.
What is it, if we have this sound foundation, that is proposed to be new in the Government's health drive that was announced the other day by the Chancellor of the Exchequer? To begin with I must say to your Lordships that if this debate had occurred a little later it-would have been possible to have told you a great deal more definitely what the policy was, and much of what I say will have to be very much talking about a skeleton. What is new, I think, in this 88 drive is that, while a great deal has been done in the past in this direction and in that direction, for the first time you are going to have a real central comprehensive drive, in all the fields of health at the same time, and that drive is to be of a very much more positive character. In the past—this is generalisation and therefore like all other generalisations to some extent lacks accuracy—on the whole I think we thought rather in terms of preventing harm being done than in the direction of developing positive good health. On what grounds are we now going to proceed?
First of all comes the fundamental question whether we are going to proceed on voluntary or compulsory lines. Lord Mount Temple, I think, was perfectly clear in his feelings. He is convinced that unless we are prepared to resort in some measure to compulsion we are not going to have an effective policy. That is not our view. It is our intention to mobilise voluntary effort, plus the local authorities, and help and encourage them to give facilities for greater health. It may be that legislation will be necessary for certain improvements of machinery. It may be that aid of a financial character will have to be considered, but the basis of the scheme will rest on the local authorities and the existing voluntary authorities. We are convinced that if only we can provide playing fields and swimming pools, and the right type of instructor, they will be used. And on the subject of nutrition we are convinced that if the right food is available and the right knowledge is available, immense strides can be made in that way. There need be no question of going into the people's homes and telling them what a benevolent Government intend them in future to consume.
What is this voluntary machinery, then, that we intend to develop? You have the Midwives Act, the maternity and infant welfare work—all that has to continue and to be developed. You have your nursery schools and your nursery classes, still in very small numbers—far too small numbers; and the Board of Education has already circularised authorities on that subject, urging that they should be increased. Then there is the question of the physical training of school children. The noble Lord, Lord Mount Temple, has spoken about the very slight amount of that training at the 89 present moment. The increase of the physical training in the schools is a matter that will obviously have to be considered in the future policy. Already the local authorities have been circularised on this subject, and have been urged to appoint more instructors; and although it was only a few months ago that the circular went round, quite a number of additional instructors—twenty or thirty, I think—have already been taken on.
Then there is the question of school buildings. Certain school buildings with their playgrounds surrounding them make it quite impossible that there should be any effective physical exercise, particularly—as the noble Lord rightly stressed—out of doors. The whole idea now of school planning has been completely changed. Not only are all the new senior schools being encouraged to have their gymnasiums, but they are also being encouraged to have very much larger playgrounds. I can give the noble Lord an instance of a school for, I think, 1,000 children, which in 1921 had a playground of 1½ acres, whereas I know of one comparable school to-day that has a playground of no less than sixteen acres. There is also the question of all your bodies that are doing social work at the moment—your National Council of Social Service, the boys' and girls' clubs, some attached to central organisations, some not; the hostels movement which is providing for hikers, the Playing Fields Association, the Central Council of Recreative Training, and probably a great number of other bodies also. All their efforts have to be mobilised and assisted.
Then we come to the last question, that of food—I hesitate to use the word "nutrition" now. A very great deal of capital has been made, not in your Lordships' House but in another place and on the public platform, about this question of food and nutrition, and it has been made by people who have not the slightest right to make capital thereby. I once had the honour of serving in a Labour Government. Never once was it mentioned. The fact of the matter is that here is a comparatively new subject, comparatively new to the medical world, and completely new to the political world, and the first Government that has ever so much as discussed it, or used the word, is this 90 National Government. It was we, it was Sir Kingsley Wood—not Mr. Arthur Greenwood—who set up the Nutrition Committee of the Ministry of Health; it was this Government for which I went out to Geneva to join in international discussions on the subject. It was the Marketing Supply Committee, set up by this Government, that enabled Sir John Orr to get the basis of the book that is so frequently being quoted against us. This Government at the present moment is undertaking a new budgetary survey of family budgets. The noble Lord, Lord Amulree, has drawn our attention to the fact that Sir John Orr's book was based on a comparatively small number of cases. Well, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour are at the present moment engaged in increasing our knowledge on that subject, while on the other side we have the Report of the Milk Reorganisation Commission, which we hope will very shortly be to hand, and which will enable us, we hope, to deal particularly with the question of milk, which must come first.
All these things are going on, and all these inquiries are at the present moment in the process of being made. They are obviously going to provide a great deal of material, and that material, before it can be welded into a real policy, will need a considerable amount of thinking out. But I can give to your Lordships this definite undertaking, that we recognise that no health policy can be effective unless it is comprehensive; and if it is to be comprehensive it will have to deal, further than we have already done in the milk in schools scheme, with the question of nutrition. Your Lordships must realise, having heard the few remarks which I have ventured to make, that we are really on the fringe of this subject. All I would wish to do is to make it clear that His Majesty's Government realise that there are immense fields that we have not begun to touch. We are only on the outskirts of a great number of fields which we have begun to touch.
It has been most useful to the Government that we should have had this debate, and that we should have all your Lordships' views and suggestions. I can only say that every one of them will be most carefully considered. If there are any matters which your Lordships may feel at 91 a later stage have not been dealt with in my speech, or which you feel are not likely to be dealt with in the Government's policy, I can only ask your Lordships to let us know what your suggestions are, because no one realises more than we do that we are dealing with a great subject, capable of immense experiment. Finally, I can give your Lordships a firm assurance that so far as we have gone—and I hope quite soon we shall be able to give you a much more definite picture of policy—we intend to drive forward with all the force and imagination at our command.
§ LORD MOUNT TEMPLE
My Lords, in rising to ask leave to withdraw my Motion, perhaps the noble Earl who has just spoken will allow me to thank him most sincerely for his speech. I think I speak for every noble Lord here when I say we are really gratified and pleased to learn that the Government mean business, that they really intend not only to speed up the present social services, including the supply of food at schools and similar activities, but that they are really going to tackle the physical improvement of the youth of this country over fourteen and fifteen years old. The noble Earl said—I was delighted to hear it—that what they proposed to do would be done on a voluntary basis. More power to their elbow, as the Irishman said. In other parts of the world voluntary efforts have been tried and they have failed. In Germany they tried for six years on a voluntary basis, and they had to come down to an obligatory one. Therefore, if the noble Earl succeeds, all the more credit to him. I thank the noble Earl for what he has said and ask leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.