§ 3.58 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
THE LORD BISHOP OF LONDON
My Lords, may I join in the expression of thanks already given to the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, for giving the House the opportunity of discussing this important Report. Like him, I welcome the fact, whether it was happy chance or design, that this subject should be introduced when His Royal Highness represented youth in the House on this occasion. The Report is an important one for many reasons, not least because it brings together in an official document a great deal of contemporary thinking about the youth work which has been going on for some years. As has been said, it is basically a discussion document, and for this reason it is important that it should be adequately discussed, not least because it is based upon a social philosophy which cannot be ignored but which certainly has to be discussed and considered.
As to the main principles and recommendations of the Report, speaking at any rate for the Church of England Board of Education I think we can welcome them wholeheartedly, and not least the emphasis on people before buildings. The noble Lord the Leader of the House asked for the opinions of noble Lords 904 out of their own experience on this and other points. Certainly we have a great deal of experience in London, where we have clubs which were flourishing five years ago, with leadership no less devoted, trained and intelligent, but which do not now make the same appeal as they did in the past. A new movement is clearly required to meet the needs which young people themselves express. This is going to depend on leadership which, as has been said, is capable of being inspired without being paternal, and of being young without being foolish.
We welcome, too, the idea of the integration of the Youth Service with the general community work and the suggestion of a closer partnership between all the social human community agencies. This, I believe, is already happening so far as the youth work of the voluntary agencies is concerned, and especially that of the Churches. We are beginning more and more to express our concern and commitment in community terms. These affect already our priorities, our training and the sharing of our resources. We think that in the voluntary agencies, which, as the Report points out, on the whole still carry the greater weight of all youth work, much has been achieved during the ten years since the Albemarle Report. But we have no sense of complacency, and we realise how much needs to be done. In so far as paragraphs 218 to 222 and recommendations in paragraphs 9 and 11 of the Report are addressed to the churches, with the recommendation that they should do something about them, I think the answer is quite clearly that we are already moving in that direction and will co-operate to the full extent of our ability.
To return to the main principles of the Report, how is the social philosophy on which a great deal of it is based to be worked out? What is this active society going to look like in practice? It is obviously impossible that everybody involved in youth service, or presumably concerned with national government—that is, every citizen—should have a share in every decision. Yet sometimes, as one reads the Report, it seems almost to be suggesting that. How can the link be forged between the concept of popular participation and traditional representative democracy? Do we as a nation 905 really want the active society which the Report describes? I do not think that any of us knows.
Here is the dilemma for the youth leaders and those who are to train the youth leaders. It is a dilemma expressed some years ago by Mr. T. S. Eliot in an Essay on Education, when he said that the teacher had to sit on the horns of a dilemma: he had to educate children for life in a society in which they were going to live 20 years hence, without any clear idea of what that society was going to be like, and at the same time be conscious of the fact that in teaching his children he was changing the shape of society without knowing the direction in which it was to be changed. That dilemma is still with us, and it will be particularly active in this growth and development of youth work.
The Report seems to envisage that the new active society will emerge from the interplay of free and educated persons, as individuals and in groups in which they practise social responsibility and learn it as they practise it. That is the way in which growth comes. But it will not follow a uniform pattern, and it will not look the same from one youth centre to another. I believe that a great deal more thinking out is required to make quite sure that in this new Youth and Community Service the criteria for social life and social government (and, of course, the Christian criteria must be there) are presented with an openness which does not impose commitment, and yet effectively communicates values and ideas.
While I am not sure that I know exactly what the "active society" means, I welcome what is said about it, because this is the direction in which we must move if we are to have responsible citizens; citizens who are concerned about the affairs of the nation and who are not willing to be led like sheep in one direction or another. What I notice is absent from Chapter 8, in particular, is any reference to the problems of those who have apparently written off society altogether, those who have rejected it as we know it: and their numbers are undoubtedly increasing.
The Report points out that there are individual youths who feel powerless to influence social policy and who become 906 apathetic, indifferent and, at worst, cynical, nihilistic or anarchic. That is true, and we all know in our experience some of those. But how are people who have rejected society to be involved in a new activity which is to create an active society? It seems to me that a great deal more study and thought need to be given to the reasons why they reject society as we know it, as well as to the ways in which some effective communication may be re-established. At the moment, it is generally true to say that there is no communication because they do not wish to communicate. That, therefore, is a further reason why the study and discussion of this important document should go on.
There are, of course, other reasons. If the authors of the Report are right in their apparently cynical anticipation that more money will not be forthcoming, then it is clear that greater responsibility will be thrown upon the voluntary organisations. It is nearly always the case that they have to take up the slack. There is a need, particularly in the field of youth and community service, for a redefinition of the role of the voluntary agency in a plural society. This is, in a sense, overdue. There was a time when the voluntary sector was independent, and gloried in its independence; when it liked to refuse Government grants, even if they were offered. That was a long time ago. Now they would not exist without substantial Government aid. But it means that the agencies are now related to Government aid, to other agencies and, above all, to a young population with its own independence, its rejection of paternalism and a very acute sensitivity to anything that looks like "doing good".
What is the function of the voluntary agency in relation to community need? It is clear that if our voluntary agencies are going to respond to this challenge, they, in turn, have to be willing to sacrixice some of the sovereignty which they had in their own spheres in the past. We are finding already in our own voluntary agencies within the Christian Churches that we are able to do this, and to gain rather than lose by it, both in the Church of England Board of Education Youth Council, working intimately with the Methodists, and with the British 907 Council of Churches. We are creating already in that voluntary sphere something like an integrated pattern. We have had for some years—and here I must say, thanks to financial aid from the Department of Education and Science—one of our staff working as a school and community officer exploring the common ground between the school, the Youth Service and the community, with encouraging results.
But all this seems to me to emphasise the need both for continuing thought and discussion and also for a major policy statement from the Department of Education and Science for which the Report itself asks—a major policy statement in which some of these issues will be pinned down so that we shall have to take our positions and, instead of having a discussion which can go on happily in general terms, face up to the particular issues. One of those issues is one about which the noble Earl, Lord Arran, will in a few moments—as few as possible, so far as I am concerned—be explaining what he means. If I think I know what he is going to say—something which is always dangerous—I would say that from our own experience the more the voluntary organisations such as V.S.O. engage directly in community activities and can be encouraged to do so, the better, provided that they remain completely, absolutely and entirely voluntary and that there is no attempt (and here I may find myself differing from the noble Earl) to appear in, so to speak, the school curriculum, because that could be very dangerous indeed. If they can grow, as they have grown, for instance, in the experiment at Cheltenham between the local authority, the schools and the Churches, into a most fruitful extra-curricula activity, they can yield surprisingly good results. But I leave the working out of that thought to the right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Norwich, who knows much more about the matter than I do.
There are two points to which perhaps I may be allowed to refer briefly. One is the particular needs of young immigrants. Here I should like to underline what is said in the Report: that the Hunt Report, which was made three years ago, needs to be implemented more fully. We in the Churches have just given 908 to one of our officers the responsibility of studying community relations in the dioceses as they affect young immigrants, and I hope that there will be more such officers, both of the Churches and under the Community Relations Council, before long.
There is one point on which I differ from the Report, and that is on the question of the length of training required for youth officers. The National Youth Training Centre has done most valuable work in difficult conditions over the past few years. I suspected when I read the Report that it might seem not to have received all the praise which is due for the work which it has done. The suggestion that for the apparently quite considerable future two years' training will be adequate seems to me to be wrong. There are many reasons for this view, but the principal one is that there must be equivalence between the training of teachers and the training of youth leaders since they will both be engaged, side by side, with the same people. Many of their posts will be dual ones, and if one section are having a three-year course and another a two-year course, and if the latter cannot get these dual posts unless they go back and do another two-year course and so end up with a four-year course for youth work, whereas the teacher has got away with three years, it will not be the happiest way in which to build up the live partnership which is so urgently needed. This is quite apart from the fact that it is doubtful whether all these new insights which are needed can possibly be conveyed in two years.
If the work is to be done in connection with the colleges of education, I should think, again, that it is not a particularly happy idea to have one part of the college on a shorter course: than another part, when they are both eventually going to do parallel work. That I hope will find its proper answer in this process of discussion, and I trust that a proper professional parity will be created.
The Report offers exciting possiblities, and its recommendations, if they can be implemented without too long a delay, may afford the opportunities which have already been referred to, to give our young people, the majority of whom are full of ideals, the opportunity to express those ideals in service and to find for the 909 human compassion which is in almost all of them an outlet in the service of the nation.
§ 4.17 p.m.
THE EARL OF ARRAN
had given Notice of a Motion, That this House calls upon Her Majesty's Government to put forward to all young people a programme of voluntary service to the community as an integral part of their education, taking into account their wishes as shown in a recent National Opinion Poll. The noble Earl said: My Lords, I am privileged to speak so early this afternoon simply because I have a Motion before the House, already outlined by the noble Lord, Lord Byers, which was to be debated after the Motion in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare. But in order to avoid wearying your Lordships, it was thought convenient, as it were, to telescope the two Motions together, though it is Lord Aberdare's Motion which naturally comes first.
It is to his Motion, and to the Report which it covers, to which I must first naturally devote my attention. I am more than a little embarrassed in so doing, for clearly a great deal of patient work has gone into it. But the result is, to my mind, prolix and impractical. Indeed, the more I read the Report the more confused I become. There are some 70 proposals, and they seem to involve four Government Departments, numberless local authorities and local education authorities, and voluntary bodies, albeit seemingly by courtesy; the Churches, as it were by order, and something called "social relations officers", as in the new towns. I have lived for twenty years in a new town and never heard of one yet. All in all, I can see a new army of civil servants—central and local—and administrative chaos. I can also foresee vast expenditure: almost every paragraph calls for one grant or another.
I must also particularly take exception to recommendation 6, paragraph (o), which calls for political education. "Political education", my Lords. What a positively ghastly thought! Does this mean photographs of the Party Leaders in every youth centre, and the sayings of Mrs. Castle in a little red book as part of the school syllabus? Seriously, is not the very idea anathema to us British? That was how, as we know, it all began 910 under Hitler. That is how it is being carried out to-day in Soviet Russia and in China. I am sorry to go on about this, but I never thought to see the day when such a proposal would be made in this country.
Now for the voluntary services and the Churches. Room is admittedly allowed for the existing great voluntary movements but, as it were, under orders. I refer to paragraph 9(d). I wonder how the voluntary organisations will like being told:They should ensure that their role in and contribution to the Youth and Community Service are fully understood";or, for that matter, that theyshould study the committees' recommendationsandconsider the ways in which they might take some initiative towards achieving these goals.Or—and I quote again:They should ensure that their role in and contribution to the proposed Youth and Community Service are fully understood.In other words, they should stand to attention and take orders from a Government-inspired and sponsored setup. Still less do I fancy (although the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London does not take exception to this paragraph) that the Churches would appreciate being told by the Council—and I quote again:to take a look at their role in the community in the light of our report.What impudence! Are they not doing this already? Is not that what they are there for? I could go on for a long time, but I will not do so.
My purpose this afternoon, anyway, is not to destroy but to try to build up, which is far more difficult. In short, I want to lay before the House the Motion which stands in my name on the Order Paper. I will read it, if I may:To move that this House calls upon Her Majesty's Government to put forward to all young people a programme of voluntary service to the community as an integral part of their education"—perhaps the right reverend Prelate will notice that I did not say "syllabus" or "curriculum"—taking into account their wishes as shown in a recent National Opinion Poll.Whatever the faults or merits of this Motion (and the present phrasing, I may say, was suggested by the right reverend 911 Prelate the Bishop of Norwich), it is simple and it means what it says. It is in every sense a Liberal conception. But, although this is not a political debate, I think I may be allowed to quote Mr. Edward Heath, with whom I do not always agree but who, in his speech to the young Conservatives three nights ago, said this:You want to go on active service—not military service, but service to the community. Care for the elderly, the sick, the disabled and the under-privileged. Here are the battlefields of to-day. Here is the call of the new patriotism.My Lords, I agree, and I should like to think that others agree, too.
The proposal before the House is simply this: that when the school-leaving age is raised the last year, or part of it, may be spent at will—and I repeat "at will". for the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, seemed to think there was some compulsion about it. Nothing of the sort!—on voluntary service to the community instead of on continued book learning. I fear, and fear greatly, the idea of boys and girls sitting and fretting at their desks when they could be out helping others. Moreover, are there going to be the teachers; are there going to be the classrooms available for these educational conscripts? I doubt it. my Lords. The danger is that we may get the same situation as we had under National Service, under which, while many profited, others sat idly and uselessly on gun sites and played pontoon or poker—and, quite simply, rotted.
What is the alternative to this? It is there, I think; and it is in conformity with the expressed wishes of the young people themselves. In a National Opinion Poll undertaken in 1967 74 per cent. of the boys and girls between the ages of 16 and 20 who were asked said they felt that they were not doing enough for the community. Seventy four per cent., my Lords: no mean figure! I feel we must accept the fact, the blessed fact, that the young people of to-day are more kindly than we were and that they develop a social conscience perhaps earlier than we did. I read about "Skin-heads" and "Mods" and "Teds" and general indiscipline, but (and this has been said a million times before) bad news is news; good news is not. I defy any Member of this House, crime figures and 912 all, to say that, given the opportunities, the youth of this generation is not the best we have ever had.
However, this is only one of the points. What I believe most people are after is the harnessing of youthful enthusiasm to the service of others. That such work already exists in large measure has been made abundantly clear already, and I am the first to admit it. But I think we are still only touching the fringe. The task is far greater still. The will is there if the opportunity is there. What is needed is to give the very young the chance to do the job they want to do, and to give it to them early in their lives. With the raising of the school age these opportunities, one hopes, will be there. Should we not grasp them with both hands?
I know the difficulties. It is said, for example, that such a scheme will run into trouble with the trade unions. Untrue, my Lords. I spoke personally yesterday to Mr. Vic Feather, who allowed me to say this to your Lordships: "No pay, no objections". I find that a good start. Moreover, the National Union of Students sent a memorandum to Mr. Edward Short urging that community service be integrated with the curriculum in higher education and asking the Secretary of Slate to help in bringing about a "deferred year scheme" so that students may have experience of practical work concerned with the community's needs. To come back to Mr. Feather's point about payment, I am always against payment. After all, young people are not paid for sitting in a class-room.
Then it is said that there will be trouble with the voluntary organisations. Why? Unlike the Report under discussion, which seems to tell them where to "get off", the voluntary bodies would in no way lose their independence. The extent to which they joined in would of course rest with them, and no doubt many would want to. But they would remain masters of their own houses. What about the Churches? Well, that of course would be up to them. But at least no one would tell them where their duties lay. Then what about money? My noble Leader, Lord Byers, said that people would think in terms of millions, and indeed of tens of millions. He may be right. Perhaps I am an innocent, but 913 I do not see the necessity for these things—at any rate, not big money. The liaison would be between the schools and the local authorities. If the local council needed volunteers—and what council does not, especially in hospitals and on slum clearance, as was implied in the Seebohm Report?—the schools would provide them. If volunteers were not required, then they would not be forth-coming. It is as simple as that.
To my mind, my Lords, the priorities are these. First find the jobs, then send the young people to do the jobs.Don't give me that stuff about 'service", just give me a job to do",was the remark of a 14-year-old in Huyton, quoted in the Guardian to-day, and he cheerfully mended an old lady's iron. It is no good getting all dressed up with nowhere to go. That, if anything, would take the heart out of those with a sense of duty. In some places, particularly in rural areas, there will perhaps be no need to help. In that event, let the young people sit at their desks and learn what is taught, however much it bores them. I am not trying to introduce some wild-cat scheme to send young people on missions, the failure of which would take the idealism out of them for ever. I am simply seeking to make it possible, on principle, for the young to help where help is needed. This is not "instant legislation". I think in terms of years, even of decades. There will be the pilot schemes in various areas, some successful, some not. I am simply seeking to make the best locally and voluntarily—I repeat, "voluntarily"—of the first-class material which lies at our disposal and which is "raring to go". I am seeking to establish a principle.
I have no idea what the House or the Government will say about all this, but I am comforted by the noble words of the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, who in the debate initiated by the noble Lord, Lord Robertson, two years ago (to which I think the noble Lord the Leader (referred), when I called for national voluntary service, said forthrightly:I know that he"—that was myself—hopes that it will be something vast, for if it comes out right I hope it will be something vast, too."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, (289), 11.2.68, col. 549.]914 And he went on:If … it is to be voluntary, the only question is: how much can we do, and how soon?He said, further:I hope the movement may get bigger and bigger. I hope it may turn out to be something like the noble Earl envisaged … provided it is voluntary, let us try it out and hope that it goes in the right direction.If your Lordships are lukewarm about these proposals—and I have not detected any great enthusiasm so far—I shall not, of course, move my Motion at the end of this debate. But if there should be strong support I should be very embarrassed indeed. I think the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, need not worry, but I very much hope that he will take some note and that he will take to heart some of the forthright and simple things that I have tried to say.
§ 4.31 p.m.
§ LORD BUTLER OF SAFFRON WALDEN
My Lords, I should like to join with other noble Lords in welcoming his Royal Highness to this House. If I may say so as Master of Trinity, I am torn between my desire to see him in the cloisters of Cambridge and my pride in watching him take part in the nation's councils, which he does so gracefully.
I shall certainly take a leaf out of the book of the noble Lord the Leader of the House, who asked us to be short. Before deciding to take part in this debate I read the Report of the previous debate on February 21, 1968. I must tell your Lordships that there seems to have been considerable obscurity as to what some noble Lords, including myself, were seeking at that date. I sincerely hope that this debate will lead to a rather clearer definition of what we mean by "voluntary service." I was glad to hear the noble Earl, Lord Arran, refer to the fact that he has decided in favour of "voluntary service".
My Lords, the last debate ended with a considerable tone of asperity and criticism directed at myself by the noble Lord, Lord Kennet. I was delighted to hear this, because I have been accustomed to asperity and unpleasantness in debate all my life in another place. I only hope that that will not be necessary to-day, but if the noble Lord the Leader of the House wants to resort to it I shall not mind at all, though I hope I shall say nothing to offend him.
915 The ideal after which some noble Lords seemed to be groping in our last debate was that youth could render some idealised sense of service to the community. Unfortunately, the expression "compulsory voluntary service" crept in which rather clouded the debate. I should like to clear this up at the opening of my remarks by saying that I agree with the noble Earl: we must concentrate our attention in this debate on voluntary service. I do not believe that any other way will work in peace time.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Norwich and the noble Earl, Lord Arran, would, I think, like to see some sort of social service of youth attached to our system of compulsory education. I must say that I see great difficulty in welding these ideas together. But if they are to be considered, I must stress again the importance to all youth work of raising the school age as quickly as possible to 16. I had the greatest difficulty in preventing Sir Winston Churchill doing this very thing in 1943, even before the age had been raised to 15 by Miss Ellen Wilkinson. He said, "My daughter, Mary, who is in the Services, says that this must be done at once. She has a lot more sense than you have, though you are Minister of Education, and you must go away and do it immediately".
Unfortunately, in 1943 I had not the teachers available even to raise the age to 15. But it seems rather a scandal that 27 years later we are still waiting for this desirable reform. And I would say to the noble Earl, Lord Arran, that without this reform there is no hope for his scheme or for that of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Norwich, of associating service with our compulsory system of school education. It would be possible to do something in the last year of the 16 year olds if it was on a voluntary basis, but I do not think this is possible at the present time. However, I see the possibilities of associating a system of voluntary service with our higher education, and I was glad that the noble Earl quoted the remarks of the National Union of Students. In writing to the Department of Education and Science they used the expression "a deferred year scheme", the idea being that if any young persons have taken up a year's service to the community their entry to the university or to an institution of higher education should be delayed 916 for a year while they occupy themselves in this beneficial way. I know at least one Vlice-Chancellor—in fact I know two—who would consider such a scheme and would put off the entry until a later date.
Speaking as one who is associated with universities, I would say that those who come later to the universities profit more than those who come earlier. That was one of the advantages when we had a system of compulsory service. They had more time to develop before they took advantage of the undoubted merits and advantages that one can get from a university to-day. Therefore, I see possibilities in the ideas expressed by the noble Earl in the realm of higher education—and I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, referred to the polytechnics because I believe that along these lines some sensible plan might, by degrees, on a voluntary basis, be worked out. I am trying to be as practical as possible because I thought our last debate was somewhat clouded.
In my opinion, the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, has done us a service in drawing our attention to the Blue Book Youth and Community Work in the 70's. The first point that struck me in this Report was the difference between youth work—and this is called "youth and community work"—and youth service. What I am interested in—and I know the noble Earl, Lord Arran, is chiefly interested in—is the actual service of a young man or young woman to the community. This book is composed almost entirely of a description of what used to be called—and here we get into a confusion of words—"youth service" and now is called "youth work and development'". As such it is a good Report. I agree with some of the criticisms of the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, and some of the other criticisms that have been made of this Report, but on the whole I think the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London is correct in saying that the Report has much in it which could be followed up actively by the Government.
The paragraphs in the Report which interest me are only five out of 396, and they relate to community service. They are paragraphs 242 to 246. These paragraphs refer first of all to the Bessey Report in 1967. They refer to the needs of training, screening and looking after 917 young people who are going to do service, so that they are effective. They refer to the establishment of a Young Volunteer Force Foundation; to a subsidy of £100,000 by the Government and, so far as it goes, they encourage, in a minute way of a few hundred people, some youth service to the community. The Community Service Volunteers, who are doing such excellent work, and other voluntary bodies are also mentioned, but that is the only reference in the Report. It is in this direction that I would press Her Majesty's Government to take more initiative. The spirit is there, but the extent is almost nil, and I think it is vital to-day to make a bigger drive in this direction than is envisaged in this Report.
I also read some of the rather ambivalent and sonorous prose of Section VIII on what is described as the Active Society. All educational documents have the privilege of being written in this sort of English, part of which is almost incomprehensible, but there is a controversy here as to whether you should have direct or indirect participation in social service. Mr. R. A. B. Leeper, whose initials coincide with my own, of the University of Swansea, is quoted as supporting a non-directive approach, and he is supported by Dr. Batten of the London University Institute of Education. Dr. Batten says that a directive approach is one where the community worker tries to direct, lead, guide or persuade people to accept his judgment of what is for their betterment. He thinks that this should be reserved only for crises; namely where people are homeless, hungry or diseased. In other situations, he thinks, the non-directive approach is stimulating people to act for themselves is recommended.
They are kind enough to say that the object of my Education Act in 1944 was to develop the moral, spiritual and mental wellbeing of the individual. And that is precisely what youth service should do. The Report goes on, in even more obscure language, to quote the Seebohm Report on Local Authorities and the Social Services, and I can see my way through this rather highsounding prose only by saying again to your Lordships that we should organise youth service on a voluntary basis much more 918 than it is at present. We should obviously work on the principle of getting people to help themselves. But there will be occasions when the direct approach will be necessary, and this should not be confined only to the crisis of disease and hunger but to the many cases which are described in to-day's Guardian in an article by Alec Dickson of the Community Service Volunteers, including every aspect of social welfare from retarded children to slum clearance, not forgetting what the Americans have done in the field of conservation, nature study and other ways.
In conclusion, I would say to your Lordships that, taking the subject as a whole, one is appalled by the size of the problem. The Report does its best to cover what is being done at present, but the Appendix at the end shows that this covers only 29 per cent. of the youth age group. Lady Albemarle quoted a figure of 33 per cent., one in three. The figure in this book is now 29 per cent. That is for youth work; that is the youth service as we know it. When we come to study voluntary service, only a few hundred, and at the most in all the voluntary societies only a few thousand, are involved at all. Therefore, surely we ought to be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, for raising this subject this afternoon, because frankly we are not yet touching the fringe of the problem. We are touching under one-third in youth work and only a handful in youth service. This is an occassion when I think your Lordships' House does a service to the country in enabling us to air subjects for which there is no time in another place, and I hope therefore that some attention will be paid to this debate.
I now live among youth. As Stephen Spender has pointed out, their discontents spring from a failure, as they see it, to remedy the society created by their elders. This is not, of course, universally true because there are a great many of them who are quite happy and normal; but there are a great many who are dissatisfied and not quite normal. Lewis Mumford stated that in America, where their problem is greater than ours:It should not need a war to effect the purposeful mobilisation of youth".I think that is an exaggeration. I do not want the whole mobilisation of 919 youth; I do not want a war-time atmosphere. But William James, the philosopher, put it far better. He said that we want "the moral equivalent of war". That I understand, because I would not have got the Education Act through both Houses of Parliament with a united Party supporting me if it had not been for the spirit of war. We do not want war or the spirit of war, but we want some greater social urge in our midst to deal with the problem of youth. That is why I am taking part in this debate to-day, and that is why I hope some attention will be paid to it.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ LORD ENERGLYN
My Lords, I, too, should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, for bringing this subject into your Lordships' House, where it will attract a great deal of attention and add significance to the thinking of youth in this country. Everybody recognises the sterling qualities of British youth—our youth is the same now as it has always been—but it seems to me, working as I do in universities, that it is we adults who might have a second took at ourselves; and perhaps the rather diffuse characteristics of this Report show that we are not prepared to look at ourselves critically. Can we, for example, say that as fathers and mothers we are projecting the right image into the community when we may take part in irresponsible strikes or shift the burden of parenthood, the care of children, on to the machinery of the Welfare State? Is this the sort of image to which we are asking youth to respond? That is the kind of question I meet with, time and time again.
Frankly, my Lords, I have rarely met a case of student difficulty which could not be related either to lack of communication with home or a lack of understanding of authority when it, of necessity, sometimes becomes a little cold and clinical and moves away from the living heart of a university—which, as your Lordships know, is the pursuit of knowledge. I have never met a situation where dons and undergraduates have had disagreements which have not resulted in healthy discussion and constructive conclusions. It is only in those wider areas where communication breaks down that difficulties seem to arise. Often parents know very little about the wonderful work their sons and daughters do, 920 quietly and efficiently, in their own spare time as undergraduates in universities. In fact undergraduates are very conscious of the unfortunates of this world and therefore realise how lucky they are to be able to enter into adult life well prepared, mentally and physically. But often even these undergraduates, when they become graduates are unaware of the citizens who are pushed slowly sideways into the cold fringes of the community. These people they would like to know about, and I am sure they would help them if they did.
I would therefore suggest to them that they should read reports such as, for example, the penetrating analysis which was carried out by the Youth Development Trust in Manchester in 1969. They carried out an analysis, a survey, of the young and physically handicapped in that area. It is a fascinating and penetrating report, and what it really says is that handicapped adolescents are essentially no different from able-bodied adolescents in wanting to be useful citizens.
It also says that any theme that could be developed for a community should have clearly embodied within it the co-existence of the able and the disabled. If youngsters were made aware of this I am sure that they would give of their best and, as a result, would be brought very early into contact with these most dramatic realities of life among the disabled. I am quite convinced that as a consequence it would be so much easier to put the problems of girl/boy relation-ships into a happy natural position.
Up to now, such services in this country have grown up in rather a piecemeal fashion in the extent to which the needs of the disabled have been recognised. If we could integrate disabled young people into the community, then able young people would recognise their worth and respond in a way that would be quite splendid, because once their imagination and their hearts had been touched they would involve their parents. Using the energy and enthusiasm, and indeed the initial integrity, of these youngsters is a very good way of bringing parents into the community.
May I remind your Lordships that it was barely 18 years ago that a voluntary organisation for spastics came into existence? I am given to understand that, in the initial appeal for funds, the first 921 quarter of a million pounds raised included one cheque for £1,000, one for £800 and one for £250. The remainder of this large sum of money was made up in small sums given by the general public. To my mind, this illustrates the inexhaustible depth of the British way of life. It is this that I think we can work on. But there was one ingredient in such a voluntary enterprise which money could not buy—a place in the living heart of the community where these disabled people could find normal companionship and a purpose for living.
To adversity and disablement a person responds in many different ways. In 1962, a number of disabled people decided to form a club to which only disabled people would be admitted as full members, so that they could run their own club and demonstrate to the community that they were useful citizens. Within eight years, 34 of these"'62 Clubs", as they are called, existed in this country. These"'62 Clubs" exist in practically every country in Europe, and also in Australia and Canada. Their main purpose is to enable disabled people to show the community generally, and us able people, that they are useful and are no longer to be regarded as dependent citizens within the community. The impact of these clubs upon able-bodied people has been quite dramatic. To extend this impact to youngsters would, I think, be quite revolutionary, because young people always admire determination, bravery and courage. And disabled people have these characteristics in no small measure. They need financial support, but above all they want, and I am sure they will prove that they can have, their full and unqualified place in the community in which they live.
I therefore say to the youth of to-day: Look around and help to bring happiness and companionship to all less fortunate girls and boys in your district. The Council suggests, for example, that more extensive use should be made of school buildings. This is a spendid idea, and we should support it in every possible way. Imagine many of the activities which used to stem, and can now stem even more effectively, from school. For example, if a school has a gymnasium or a swimming pool, youngsters can take 922 disabled youngsters there in the evenings. This would mean that the disabled youngsters would be part of the crowd. This is really all they ask: to be part of the crowd, part of the community. Then the youngsters who had taken their disabled friends to the schools would have to see that they were escorted safely home, an involvement which would be deep and lasting. I should like to develop this theme a great deal, but I will not take this point any further.
What I should like to do from your Lordships' House is to suggest that a large number of boys and girls might do worse than read a little book called Crossed Wires, written by Bill Howe. With your Lordships' permission, I will quote first from the Introduction to the book, which reads:If you were to walk into the little world of Bill Howe he could not stand to greet you, he could not shake your hand, and he could not speak to bid you welcome. He would sit in his wheelchair, twisted, immobile and speechless, and only his quick, intelligent eyes would tell you of the courageous spirit which has led to this book you are reading today. For Bill Howe is a severely disabled spastic. His little world consists of one small room in a North of England hospital where he has lived since 1942… When he was admitted to the hospital at the age of 17, his medical records declared that he was a ' spastic imbecile'.His left leg is the only limb with controllable movement, yet with a peg fitted to this foot he typed out his book. It was published by the Spastics Society as a source of inspiration to all spastics, but I feel that the book has a wide and deep appeal to all youth, because if every boy and girl read this book they could not fail to be impressed with the imagination that it showed, and they would want to go out and search for other "Bill Howes" who have been wrongly classified.
At the end of the book—and again I quote Bill Howe's words—they would read:I wish this story to be an example of what can be achieved by spastics like myself, if only they have the opportunity. It would give to them the feeling that they are some good on this earth, and they would be happier because it is awful to think as other people, yet not be able to express your opinions on life. All that is needed is a little courage and a lot of will power. That is all you want. I sincerely hope that you have understood this book. I tried my best.
§ 4.58 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT AMORY
My Lords, it has been said that the denigration of young people is very good for the hygiene of older people because it greatly promotes the circulation of the blood. I confess that I found the Report that we are debating this afternoon, Youth and Community Work in the 70s, rather disappointing. But lest it appears that I have a negative attitude to these problems, I should like to put on record, as have other noble Lords, my feeling of tremendous admiration for the generation that is growing up to-day. I should also like to say that in any criticism I offer I am certainly not criticising the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, who in his speech to us this afternoon I thought covered the ground most excellently. I should also like to say that I agree with every word of the speech of my noble friend Lord Aberdare, particularly in his slight criticism that he made of the definition of the aims of the Youth Service as they appear in this Report.
In comparison with the Albemarle Report, I personally found this one less lucid, less clear cut in its recommendations, and terribly repetitive and far more difficult to read. I did complete reading the Report, but I own that I did it rather as I used to complete some of my holiday tasks about sixty years ago. Perhaps it is partly because there is no question but that youth problems have, I think, increased in complexity during the past decade. Having made one good point early on of the advantages of the Youth Service being associated with community development, it seemed to me that the authors then plugged that one idea to the exclusion of most other considerations, and at the end I found myself remembering the song which I seem to remember from old days, "A-hunting we will go". After about three verses one took on board the idea that there was a definite intention to go hunting; but after about the sixth verse one began to wonder whether one would go hunting after all.
I am sure that all of us will agree with certain of the assumptions made in this Report. Most young people are clearly physically, and in most other ways, more mature than their predecessors at a given age, and from 16 or 17 upwards it is also clearly right that they should be treated as the young adults they are. The more 924 responsibility they can be given, the more they can be involved in decision-making, the better. I agree with what the noble Lord. Lord Byers, said, that young people want to be fully stretched. All kinds of bridging operations are needed to ease the transition to full adult responsibility; but I think these things are realised, recognised, and practised in all the well run youth movements to-day.
I have always felt that adults owe three things to young people; the provision of opportunity, encouragement and guidance. The last, guidance, must be given with tact and sympathy, and plenty of room left for reasonable opportunities for experimentation. But if adults shy away from, and fail to give, guidance from their own experience of life, then adults fail in their responsibilities; and from my experience young people understand this perfectly well.
I think my main quarrel with the Report is that the authors have over-stressed the concept of a merger between youth service and the community service. It is a good point, but it is only one aspect, and in their enthusiasm for social involvement they have forgotten that unless involvement is based on sound standards of personal conduct, character and a sense of responsibility, it is valueless. I think they have under-valued the work of voluntary youth movements because, to be fair, if it were not for that work to-day the existing Youth Service would not exist.
I have one or two other criticisms to offer. First of all, having stressed the inadequacies of finance available and likely to be available, the authors of the Report then seem to go on to recommend a dilution and spreading of those resources more broadly over a far wider field; but if that is to be the premise, that the resources are limited to something like the present, I doubt whether that would be a good idea. The youth clubs and other voluntary membership organisations come in for some depreciation in favour of going out after uninvolved young people. I believe to the contrary; that member clubs are probably the best single way—not the only way—of inculcating those lessons of a sense of responsibility and consideration for others, virtues that are particularly needed by modern society. Making contact with young people "wherever they 925 may be found", as the Report says, sounds attractive, and it is; but unless methods of achieving that object are clearly defined the words have very little value.
Then the Report recommends that because of the desirability of bringing young adults of both sexes together, grant policy should favour mixed work. My opinion is that grant policy should give no such preference. Grants should be given on merit and achievement, and not on grounds of furthering one aim alone—though each aim should be taken into consideration and given weight. Some young people like mixed clubs. Boys seem keener on clubs than girls. Many boys prefer clubs of their own where they can pursue activities of special interest to boys, and where they find those interests perhaps better provided for, but there is clearly a place for both single sex and mixed clubs. However, as my noble friend Lord Aberdare said, many young people find that their home, their work, and perhaps one hobby, provides them with all they feel that they need.
The Youth Service is admittedly going through a difficult phase, but I think the prime need is not so much for further investigations and surveys, because all sorts of new ideas are bubbling up and being tried out all the time. The outstanding need at present, and the present bottleneck, is more than anything else the need for more voluntary and full-time professional leaders dedicated to the encouragement and guidance of young people, and who have the necessary gifts. Age ranges and groupings of course must be kept flexible and must change in the light of changing conditions, and I see no great difficulty there. As I have said, those over 16 or 17 should certainly be regarded and treated as the young adults they are. As regards the training of youth leaders, this is very important, and I entirely agree with what the Report says about the desirability of making it possible for transfers to take place between the Youth Service and the teaching profession in the schools. I believe that would help the career service of the Youth Service, and be to the advantage of both schools and youth services. But I think my main worry with this Report is that the image it creates of youth service is so ill-defined 926 and blurred that in its result it is likely, I fear, to promote continuing uncertainty rather than increased momentum.
I want, if I may, to say a word or two about the Motion of the noble Earl, Lord Arran. I should like to declare myself an unqualified admirer of the voluntary community service being given to-day by an increasing number of young people. When young people find something that they themselves think worth while—not what we may think worth while—they give generously and un-selfishly, and what they give is most valuable. It brings a two-way gain: to the recipients, help; to the givers, experience and understanding of their fellow citizens.
I have had the good fortune to have been in touch with Voluntary Service Overseas almost from its inception. Mr. Alec Dickson and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Norwich—who I am so glad to see here—saw what young people could do when faced spontaneously with a challenge. They got this scheme going, and to-day V.S.O. (which of course is only one of the schemes) has over 1,500 volunteers in the field at the present time in almost seventy different countries. There are three types of volun-teers—I must speak only in telegraphic form because I must not keep your Lord-ships more than another two minutes—the school leavers aged 18 to 19, boys and girls; graduates; and a very valuable intermediate category of young men and women with technical qualifications, such as those derived from apprenticeship in industry. Of recent years the trend has been towards the graduate and the qualified, at the expense of the numbers of school leavers. But I want to make it plain that this is in no respect due to any failure on the part of the school leavers. They have done superbly. The reason is the availability of projects. Many countries are now turning out a great many young people from their own universities and schools, and the demand has settled down more and more for those with some technical qualifications.
Because of the limited number of projects which can be found—and that is the bottleneck to-day—the number of young people who can hope to get an opportunity of serving overseas is clearly somewhat restricted. The number is still going up, I am glad to say, but not so 927 fast. But for many more there are opportunities of service at home, and I should like to remind your Lordships, as did my noble friend Lord Aberdare, of the excellent work which has been done under the aegis of Community Service Volunteers and by young people from schools, Y.M.C.A.s and various other youth movements. This kind of voluntary service merits the strongest encouragement from us all.
We each have our own ideas as to what are the essentials. I want to be very diffident about this, because who am I to have the right to hold an authoritative view on this point, having never been a volunteer myself? But, first of all, I think—and this is a point which I believe the noble Earl, Lord Arran, made—the tasks available must be proportionate to the number of volunteers, otherwise severe discouragement will result. Nothing is more discouraging than to find keen young volunteers of 15, 16 and 17, and then to have to say to them, "Sorry, there is not much for you to do after all." The second essential is that tasks must be real ones, the value of which the volunteer can understand and believe worth while, and then the volunteer should be brought into the organisation of those projects to the greatest possible extent.
In present circumstances, I believe that a national scheme with the slightest smell of compulsion about it would be a total failure. 1 believe that in present and foreseeable conditions—though one hesitates to say what may happen one day, because we have to keep in our minds a balanced appraisal of our experience of compulsory National Service—the work must be on a spontaneous and voluntary basis, as my noble friend Lord Butler said.
What then can be done to encourage and promote these excellent initiatives on a wider basis? First of all, everything possible should be done in schools, and during the school period of these young people's lives, to convince them of the value of voluntary service in a vigorous democracy, and to convince them of the fact that voluntary service offers them a ready-to-hand way of becoming involved in the community of which they are part. Secondly, I am sure that there is a lot to be done—and I think the noble Lord, Lord Byers, referred to this point—in 928 convincing adult people, especially those in positions of responsibility, of the value and quality of the work that these young people can do. If they are presented with a challenge that they think worth while, then their response is apt to be far more effective than they are commonly given credit for by adults. The best way of teaching responsibility is to give it, and I believe that a modern society will only flourish if it can harness the enthusiasm of youth.
I want to ask the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, and my noble friend Lord Jellicoe, to forgive me if I am not here at the end of this debate, but I have a commitment in the field of voluntary youth service which I must perform. It is very neat that I have got that into my speech in this way, in the hope that your Lordships will think that I know something about a subject of which I am really fairly ignorant I should like to thank my noble friend Lord Aberdare, and the noble Earl, Lord Arran, very much for between them giving us this opportunity of debating a subject which is of absolutely first-rate importance.
§ 5.16 p.m.
§ LORD HUNT
My Lords, I should like to follow the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, with my own brief word of appreciation to the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, for giving us the opportunity to debate this new Report. I would preface my few remarks with a sincere tribute to the authors of its predecessor, the Albemarle Report, and in particular to the Chairman of the Committee which produced that Report, Lady Albemarle herself. The fact that this Report is now before us—and, indeed, is very necessary—is in no way a reflection on the validity of the Albemarle Report which appeared in 1960, and which has done such a tremendous service for young people and for those concerned with them since that date.
I recollect that the Report which we are debating to-day had its origin in two Reports that were already on the stocks of the Youth Service Development Council when I was still on the Council in 1967. We have heard a good many critical remarks to-day about this Report, but I do not have as many criticisms as some of your Lordships. My criticism is really that the Report has seemed to be a very long time in coming, but I 929 realise that it would have been a serious mistake to publish separately those two previous Reports, even though they would have come out earlier.
Whatever the differences in need and approach in catering for young people at different stages of their growth and development, it is increasingly realised that young people have a comprehensive requirement. One recognises the difference at different ages, but this does not alter the fact that we must view this subject comprehensively. After all, growing up and going into society is an on-going process, as is the whole of life—I was going to say, before I heard the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, until one reaches the stage of entering your Lordships' House. It must therefore involve a great many spheres of social activity and, in practical terms, many Departments of State and organisations.
In general, I welcome this Report. I was greatly interested in what the noble Lord, Lord Butler, had to say in pointing out what a large proportion of the Report is devoted to community and youth work, as distinct from service. I hesitate to argue with the noble Lord, whose knowledge in this field is pre-eminent. I do not suppose he meant that he would wish to have the proportion the other way round, but my own feeling is that the main point that we should be considering is youth work. After all, work among young people covers the provision of opportunities in their leisure, the opportunities for association, providing the bridges between gaps in generations, and encouraging the development of positive and constructive attitudes towards the community, for it is from this that the urge to be of use, to give practical service to the community, arises. I am also concerned that if one over-emphasises the provision of actual opportunities for service in the community, one is doing exactly what the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, warned us about—providing a tremendous incentive for which there may not be enough outlet. It is very important that we do not over-emphasise this; I think it will come naturally.
It is no disparagement of this Report to observe that it is not so much a compendium of brand-new ideas as a bringing together of policies and practices 930 which are already in operation, in use, in a number of local education authorities, in a number of schools and youth organisations, in a number of firms and so on. I venture to hope that, despite the useful and constructive criticisms that we may be making of the Report, it will receive general endorsement by the Department of Education and Science, and indeed by your Lordships' House, because it is only in this way that it will prove to be a cross-fertiliser of ideas—and I believe it is full of them—and, indeed, a galvanizing influence for those bodies, in whatever quarter, which have more to contribute to the service of youth. I hope, even, that those bodies which rightly regard themselves as in the van in youth service will look to see whether there are not still some new ideas which they may adopt and learn from other people.
There are just three areas on which I would venture to lay stress. The first is the role of the schools (and one or two noble Lords have already mentioned this) in making community provision, within their timetables as well as outside, the main theme for the final year at school. I am quite sure, with the noble Lord, Lord Butler, that this cannot become a reality until the school-leaving age has been raised; and, like many others, I regret the postponement of the date when that will be done. But I believe that this is of absolutely vital importance to the whole of this subject.
My own view is that the accent is, or should be, on the universality of this introduction of the theme of community studies or social service in the last year before young people leave school—universality within the context of the secondary school. It may well be that the Certificate of Secondary Education, Mode 3, can be adapted and used for this purpose; but I should like to feel that this theme, this course, this programme, whatever it is called, should be recognised as ranking in the public esteem, and not least in industry, with the academic courses. I believe, with many others, that it should include training to render some form of service to the community or to individuals, and, of course, the opportunity while at school to volunteer where there is a real opportunity to serve.
I share the doubts, and in fact the disbelief,, which have been expressed in 931 this House about the principle and the practicability of making compulsory the rendering of actual and meaningful community service by every single boy and girl in a certain period of their school life. It has to be necessary; it has to be voluntary. But of one thing I am sure. The secondary schools, as was shown so brilliantly by the Cambridge-shire village colleges which pioneered this thought, should be power-houses for community life in action. I like very much the notion that the links between the school community provision and that of the Youth Service—and industry and youth employment, of course—should be strengthened and made general practice. And I say this for a particular reason: that the more time spent on community activities outside school and in the community, rather than in the classroom, the better. I think that this will have a very beneficial effect on the problems which teachers are facing in terms of discipline and order in their schools.
My Lords, the second area to which I should like to allude is that part of the Report which refers to young immigrants and the Youth Service; and I was very glad to hear the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London make a reference to this, too. When the Report on young immigrants and the Youth Service, which was prepared by a Committee of which I was privileged to be chairman, was published early in 1967, there was a good deal of hope that its recommendations would be widely acted upon, and particularly in the areas of the main immigrant settlement. With some notable exceptions my information is that this has not in fact happened, and I venture to hope that this Report will give an impetus to action in this vitally important matter. The main burden of our Report in 1967 was that if racial integration was to become a reality in our society—or, perhaps, as I would sooner put it, if racial prejudice is to be removed—if this is right and necessary (and who would doubt it?) then it must start with young people, and it needs strenuous and imaginative effort to bring this about. Pious hopes that it will happen naturally are not realistic. I still believe that we are in danger of drifting into segregated societies along a colour line, because of a failure to cultivate among our youth the contacts which alone can remove the misunderstanding; 932 and the Youth and Community Service of the future has a tremendous responsibility to contribute to this.
My last point, my Lords, is to place my accent where others have placed it, on the emphasis in this Report on the adult status, on the adult aspirations and the adult competence in the 18-plus range of our younger generation, for whom this newly-named service purports to provide both a service and incentive. Other noble Lords, I know, have touched on this, and I will content myself with saying that the involvement of youth in the whole fabric of the community is at once one of the basic needs and one of the dilemmas, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London put it, of our age. It is all very well, in a young, developing country like Nigeria (yesterday we were having a debate on relief in Nigeria, which put me in mind of that country), or in any other young, developing country where youth holds the reins of power and responsibility. But what about our old country, with our high proportion of older people, having the wisdom of years but also the determination not to give way, not to concede competence or responsibility to youth?
No Report can of itself bring about a miracle of changed adult attitudes. Nor can anyone insist that older people should at a certain age be put into cold storage for a century or so while youth gets on with the job. So what is the answer? The principle, as others have said, is a partnership of willingness to go shares; for young adults to work alongside older adults on work jobs and committees, and for the older ones to be more advisory and supervisory and the younger ones more executive. In every appropriate context—in industry, in the social services in the schools, in the universities and in same of the professions—this is the ideal, the principle; and it is for each sphere of our community to work this out in practice, to produce the practical solutions. Of course, it is not easy, but to some extent, as we all know, this is beginning to happen already, and if this Report gives this notion of a practical partnership between the generations a push, so much the better.
933 My Lords, in their summary the authors of this Report state as follows:Our aim is to involve young people as fully as possible. We hope they will join vigorously in the implementation of the proposals.The question is: will they? I would say that, given a chance, you bet they will! But will more of them be given a chance? That is the real question.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I join with other noble Lords in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, and the noble Earl, Lord Arran, for tabling the Motions which have created the opportunity for this very important debate. Earlier to-day one noble Lord said that this was a notable day in your Lordships' House—and indeed it is; not only for the piece of history we witnessed earlier, but also for the fact that 25 noble Lords have put down their names to speak in a debate on a subject which I regard as one of the most important there can be for the future of our country. I feel so strongly about the importance of voluntary service in the community that I am bound to say that I think our country's domestic peace and the quality of life of our people are endangered by the failure to help effectively the strong desire of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of people to give voluntary service to the community.
For that reason I was very much attracted to the Motion of the noble Earl, Lord Arran, until I carefully studied the last half of it. Lord Arran said that his was a truly liberal Motion, in that it was simple and said just what it meant or meant just what it said. Having listened with appreciation and care to the noble Earl's speech, I do not think he did himself justice in that; because I found myself agreeing with almost everything he said. But I just cannot accept that part of the Motion which calls for:voluntary service to the community as an integral part of their education …".The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, quoted a definition of voluntary service of which he approved. I approve of it also. But, in short, the essential part about voluntary service is that it must be voluntary. I feel that while we should encourage Her Majesty's Government to take a larger part in channelling it into suitable and 934 worthwhile projects, we must ensure that we do not destroy the voluntary principle by making community service of this kind part of a curriculum. That has been the sense of the speeches of most noble Lords on this particular point.
My Lords, I think it will be generally agreed that we have a Welfare State today only because of the pioneering work of volunteers and voluntary organisations over the centuries. It has always been the volunteer who, out of concern for his fellows, has seen a need and tried to do something about it and to persuade others to do something about it. And if all goes well, in due course the rest of us, through legislation, take over. The job is then done by the community, but it is always done better if a voluntary interest is preserved within the organisation just as it has been in the hospital service. I think that the lead we want from the Government is the stimulation of a climate in which voluntary service can flourish, the provision of an easy and flexible framework completely removed from any form of conscription. This means a willingness everywhere, in Government and outside Government, to welcome offers of service by young people and to adapt the thinking of older people so that the desire of young people to serve can have adequate expression. Questions of reward, either of money, status or prestige, should be completely removed from the concept of voluntary service. But I think that the Government should provide financial assistance where needed for organisational costs, for training costs, for preparation, for travel and, perhaps, for accommodation.
The right reverend Prelate said that many voluntary organisations did not want any financial help from the Government. Because I have been connected with such organisations myself I know that that is true; and often they are the most successful. But a stage can be reached where some help—at least, some guidance—is needed. If we provide it we shall not only be able to provide essential services which are at present weak or non-existent, we shall give young people the opportunity of creating relationships and of maintaining human communication in areas which are at present virtually unexplored. We shall build bridges across gaps which divide society—and not only the gap between the generations. I think that this may 935 make a greater contribution to the life of the community than labour applied to a specific task.
My Lords, I hope the noble Lord will forgive my interruption. I was interested in what he was saying about encouraging the stimulation Which the Government of the day can give to voluntary organisations and service. He defined the area where Government financial aid could be provided. Did he include in that financial aid to the administration of the organisations concerned in the provision of really professional help at the centre, if necessary?
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I particularly included—I thought I mentioned it—administrative help in terms of a financial grant for approved staff. My noble Leader, in referring to school leavers from secondary modern schools, suggested that they might be an under-privileged minority through lack of facilities. I want to illustrate my case—and, I hope, establish it—by referring to a minority who are not merely under-privileged but submerged. I refer to the mentally handicapped. They have a great need for voluntary help because, so far as statutory provision is concerned, they are the most neglected minority in this country. But, unhappily, they are a very large minority. A mentally handicapped child is born every three hours of every day; one family in every hundred in the country has such a child—which means that there are several hundreds of thousands of them in the community, although we do not know the precise number. We know that of the total, only 100,000 are cared for in any way in hospitals or training centres. This means that several hundred thousand of them are hidden away and the world knows nothing, and apparently cares nothing, about them.
We heard a speech this afternoon from the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, author and hero of a great Education Act. We had another Education Act in this country one hundred years ago which provided that parents should have a statutory responsibility to send their children to school. For the last century, official eyes have been wilfully closed to the fact that the parents of mentally handicapped children have been obliged to break the law, and to go 936 on breaking the law, because the State would not provide schools for their children. I am not referring to those children with the higher I.Q. who, in recent years, have been able to go to E.S.N. schools, but to the much larger number with an I.Q. lower than 50 who have been officially, and quite wrongly—and this parallels the kind of case mentioned by my noble friend Lord Energlyn—labelled as "ineducable" or "incapable of receiving education at school". What a commentary on our education system!
So, of course, volunteers stepped in; and by great effort the National Society of Mentally Handicapped Children—of which my noble friend Lord Segal is the chairman—set up schools and even industrial centres where they proved beyond question that children with a low I.Q. could be trained and educated, some of them even trained—I have met them—to take jobs in open industry and to keep them. The important thing is that unquestionably almost all of these affectionate, happy, innocent people—which indeed most of them are—are educable if, as we must, we regard the word "education" as embracing the whole range of human experience and meaning the development of the whole person.
My Lords, this century of shameful neglect of a defenceless minority ended just over a year ago when my right honourable friend the Prime Minister announced the Government's decision to transfer to the Department of Education and Science responsibility for the education of mentally handicapped children. Since then the Secretary of State, my right honourable friend Mr. Short, has made clear that this enlargement of the education service will be developed as rapidly as possible. To use his own words:The process of exclusion from the educational system will be brought to an end. We ought never to write off any children at all as being ineducable.This is most welcome. In my belief, this compassionate but at the same time exceptionally sound educational step will, in the years to come, rank among the finest things that this Government have done. It marks an historic stage in the nation's educational story. For the first time we shall be offering to every indi- 937 vidual an opportunity for educational development to the full extent of his ability.
Although sending these children to school will help develop whatever talent they possess and thus give them fuller, happier lives and their relatives much needed relief, it will not, and it cannot, make them able to compete on equal terms in the community, either at work or at play. They will need continuing help out of school hours. That applies also, but in far greater measure, to the large number of all ages who have been obliged to grow up without the benefit of school at all. That need, again, has been recognised by volunteers who decided to do something about it. In 1966, just over three years ago, the National Society formed the National Federation of Gateway Clubs. I must declare a kind of interest as I recently became the President of this new body. Its purpose is to open the gateway to life; to set up clubs all over the country, financed and staffed by volunteers, with the object of providing leisure time facilities for mentally handicapped people who, of course, are precluded by the nature of their handicap from taking part in activities in the community: in other words, to bring a little sunshine into the lives of this large, concealed minority which would not be able to get this kind of happiness in any other way.
It started only a little over three years ago. At the end of the first year there were 39 clubs with 1,200 members. There has been continuing expansion since and to-day there are 150 clubs all over the country with well over 5,000 members. That is a very significant rate of growth; but still more significant is the fact that, in addition to the membership, there are more than 2,000 voluntary helpers and leaders. Of particular reference to this debate and the Motion that we are considering is the fact that of the 2,000 voluntary leaders and helpers, 1,500—that is 75 per cent.—are below the age of 25. In London alone there are 500 young people who help in the clubs every week. In Coventry, almost all the helpers are under 23.
They ensure that the members take part in a very wide range of activities. There are 40 different indoor occupations, almost every conceivable indoor 938 sport, arts and crafts and so on, and all the amusements that young people enjoy. Recently my right honourable friend the Secretary of State witnessed a play staged and acted by the members of one of the London clubs. He said he had been in education all his life but he did not think that progress of the kind those children had made was possible. The fact is that with this opportunity, despite their handicap, these people can be made to feel that they are full members of society.
The noble Viscount, Lord Amory, and my noble friend Lord Hunt mentioned that there must be a need. It is no good recruiting people before you have a worthwhile job for them to do. They must not be disappointed. There is no danger of that kind here. In many cases the young people themselves start the clubs. They cannot start them without a certain number of members; that is laid down in the constitution. The job is there to do, and it frequently happens that the club soon outgrows its original premises and the increased membership has to have larger premises. The voluntary helpers take the members to theatres, exhibitions, and art galleries, and they go camping. Last year large numbers of handicapped children were provided with holidays entirely run by young volunteers of both sexes. They washed and dressed the children, fed them, put them to bed, organised their games, took them for picnics, ministered to their aches and pains—they did everything. My Lords, you can imagine what a whole new world this opened up to handicapped people who previously had no human contacts except with their relatives, assuming, of course, that they were fortunate enough to have any.
Think also, my Lords, what it does for the young volunteers who, in the process of serving these children, enlarge their own horizons and discover immeasurable things both for themselves and about themselves. Your Lordships will know that for years I have had a considerable interest in young delinquents. You cannot say that borstal boys are exactly volunteers, although they do volunteer when they do service of this kind. In fact, it is more a privilege than for them to volunteer. They have done wonderful work for cripples and handicapped children and for old people, and in the process they have of course done wonderful things for themselves. There is a 939 two-way benefit in this; it benefits the receiver and the giver, as do most worth-while gifts. The young volunteers enlarge their horizon and discover immeasurable things for themselves and about them-selves. I repeat that this effort is over-whelmingly from young people who are giving this service and who so often have started a club.
Mention has been made of efforts by schools. We are still getting fifty letters a month from schools asking what they can do to help the mentally handicapped. That does not mean including it in the curriculum, but I agree with the suggestion that was made that we should encourage the schools to encourage children to take an interest in the possibility of voluntary service in the community. Although what I have said about this new effort will be heartening, your Lordships may be asking yourselves why the Government should interfere when the project is going so well. I do not advocate interference, but, referring to the question addressed to me by the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, I do advocate that help should be given where necessary and where it may be proved to be useful.
I said that there were 5,000 to 6,000 members of these clubs. That is a large number, but it is small compared with the total need. It is difficult to say what is the total need. Of the 100,000 in training centres and hospitals we estimate that 60,000 should be members of leisure-time clubs. My own estimate, adding a considerable number for those who are hidden away, is that there is a need for clubs for some 150,000; that is 30 times our present effort. They could be provided, but it can be done only with some help, and society can provide that help in the shape of a small grant to enable a full-time development officer to be appointed with a clerical staff. I do not suppose that my noble friend will be able to tell me how that application is getting on, but even if he cannot do so to-night, I hope he will be able to do so soon, because we want to make the appointment soon. I feel that the answer must be "Yes", but speed is of the essence.
In these and in so many other similar cases the help which is being asked for is microscopic compared with the enormous value of what has been, and will be, accomplished. The important thing is that if we have that kind of relationship 940 between a Government Department and a voluntary body, which shows what it can do and that it is fit for fulfilling a great need, it will be a partnership of the right kind and will asist those voluntary bodies who have shown that they can do the job to act in a flexible way to meet pressing and perhaps unfulfilled needs. I am convinced that in different fields there are a great many opportunities of this kind which could transform the life of our people, if they were followed up and dealt with urgently and energetically. I hope that this debate will help to reveal those opportunities, so that they can be considered and acted upon.
§ 5.52 p.m.
§ LORD SANDFORD
My Lords, this subject of young people and community work is one in which I have had a great interest for some years, though I cannot claim the experience and skill that most noble Lords who have spoken can claim. At present, however, I am a member of the Advisory Committee of Task Force. I was directly concerned with the establishment of one of their centres in Hertfordshire and I am closely associated with their centre here in the City of Westminster. There are one or two points arising out of this connection and these insights which I think it would be appropriate to share with your Lord-ships. One thing I should like to say straight away to the noble Lord, Lord Byers, is that Task Force is an organisation almost wholly staffed and managed by young people, who only occasionally turn for advice to old stagers like myself.
As the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, said earlier, it is not a bad thing to look at our definitions. First of all, I think it is a good thing that the age of young people that is now implied by the term "youth"should be more widely and less precisely defined. If we think of young people who are involved in youth work we are covering no more than a third of the young people in this age range, and a declining third at that. If we look at those at school above school-leaving age we are covering half, and an increasing half. If we think of those still at school and below school-leaving age, we are covering virtually the whole of the population of that age range. That is what I am doing in the rest of my remarks.
941 As to community, I believe that we should not think of community as an abstract idea of communities in general but of each particular residential community in which each particular population of young people live and play and feel concerned. From that it follows that a local approach and not a national approach is the one to be emphasised. I believe that we should think of community work for young people as falling into two parts. First of all, there is community studies, an educational subject, albeit an extracurricular one, a proper responsibility for each local school and college and the teachers and lecturers in them. The community study itself is in two parts. First of all there is a finding out and an assembling of facts about one's own particular community, and secondly—and this is important—a questioning of how and why those facts are as they are. The second part of community work by young people is as the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, said, community service, and of course voluntary community service. It derives from community study and itself is in two parts. It involves, first, a practical attention to tasks seen to need immediate attention, and secondly—and this is also important—the discerning of long-term objectives and the applying to them of solutions.
The application of insights acquired by young people in school to short-term practical needs and also to long-term solutions is a matter calling for the support, guidance and encouragement of statutory and voluntary agencies in the social service field. From these propositions, it follows that "young people in community work" is a term covering a range of activity lying between the schools and colleges, on the one hand, and the social services, on the other hand, in each place. If it is to touch and cover all young people, if it is eventually to provide opportunities for all young people, it must be keyed into the schools at, say, a year before school-leaving age. If it is to be realistically related to the real needs of each actual community it must be keyed into the social service department, into the social service area teams, when we have them, and into the local council of social service or to its nearest equivalent in each community.
942 There may be some schools and colleges in some communities where the present teaching staff is competent enough and plentiful enough to undertake community studies without further ado, and there may be some places where the present community organisation is sufficiently comprehensive and the leadership sufficiently imaginative for all young people who wish to be able to contribute here and now in a practical way to meeting real immediate social needs and to helping to plan future provision and changes in the local social structure. But in most places the teaching staff will need help and reinforcement, and voluntary and statutory social services will need development, in the best ways of involving young people in service to the community in a really valuable way.
How can help and reinforcement to the schools and colleges and the teaching staffs in them, and how can guidance and encouragement from the social services, best be given, is, I believe, the great question which we have to solve. I do not believe that at this moment, if ever, a single answer can be given, but I believe that the following can and ought to be said. First of all, let each particular community itself and its own particular needs and its own particular resources dictate the pattern of study, the pattern of involvement and the pattern of leader-ship. Secondly, let whatever provision is required in each place be, if at all possible, by one or more voluntary agencies, who alone have the necessary flexibility at this stage. I believe that in this respect Task Force has played a notable part, but I should be the first to say that Task Force is not alone in this. Thirdly, let each part of the work done under this general heading of community work by young people be assessed, developed and judged by its own proper criteria. Let the study of the community in schools and colleges be judged by its educational value in the widest sense to the children. Let service for people in the community be judged by the value of what is done for those who receive the service.
But as to who is to do it all, and how it is to be organised and done, I do not believe anybody at this stage can say. All I can say is that many patterns and possibilities are being tried. Much more needs to be done, many more experiments 943 need to be undertaken and more impetus and resources need to be given. I am quite sure that it is much too soon to attempt to crystallise and formalise the movement as a whole. Anything approaching a national service now would be premature; a compulsory school subject would be quite counter-productive, and a single organisation or a universal pattern of provision would simply not do justice to the rich variety of our society.
Any attempt by one statutory service—the Education Service, the Youth Service or the social services—or by any one voluntary body to stake a monopoly claim in this field should at the moment be firmly resisted. The only universal thing that is wanted is a universal and growing opportunity; a chance for all the boys and girls at school and in college who so desire to learn more about the place where they live and to make their own best contribution to its betterment. I believe that here at the moment, if ever there was a field for it, is a field for the style and the skill in which the British are such masters. What is needed is a piecemeal, local approach, accelerated, by all means, but still by means of pragmatic improvisation. This approach will in time and with sufficient impetus yield the best value for money—and, as tax-payers, we are all concerned to secure that—and it will also yield the best results both for the young and old, the served and the servers.
§ 6.3 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF NORWICH
My Lords, I should like first to thank the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, both for introducing this subject to-day and for the manner in which he has done it, and also for the allusions he made to the historical and moving occasion which preceded it when His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales took his seat. I wish to single out from the noble Lord's Motion that aspect of the Report of the Youth Service Development Council to which Lord Arran's Motion refers and which I support. This issue of endeavouring to extend voluntary service to all young people, to which reference has been made in previous debates both in this House and in another place, is not, as I understand it, a Party issue, and support for such a concept has stemmed from all three political Parties, though 944 there may well be very different views as to the means by which such a concept can be implemented or extended.
I should like at the outset to explain the reason why I support, and indeed proposed to the noble Earl, Lord Arran, the use of the word "education" in the wording of his Motion. I am afraid it has been misconstrued in the sense in which it was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham. I regard education in this context not in the narrow sense of formal education but as comprising what I believe education rightly represents: those factors which provide knowledge and experience for young people, including their formal education but including also other influences, of which I hope service and involvement in the community may be one. In retrospect, I could wish that I had suggested to the noble Earl, Lord Arran, the word "experience "for the word" education"; and he agrees that it would have been better.
Nevertheless, such a concept must enlist the goodwill and guiding initiative from within the existing educational system if it is to become a feasible possibility. I suppose it would be true to say that education has developed out of all recognition in the past thirty years. A higher standard is available, free, gratis and for nothing (except for the taxpayer) for all children in this country. We accept this as a good thing, and in this connection we owe an immeasurable debt to the noble Lord, Lord Butler.
As one who has worked in universities for many years, I should be the last to wish to see the academic disciplines within the educational system as a whole in any way weakened: rather should I wish to see them continually strengthened. But is it not the case that there is a tendency for many young people, for parents, for employers and, indeed, for some educators to lay stress on examination results as almost the only operative factor for a young person's future place in society? I do not for one moment question the importance and validity of examination results, but I sincerely question the position to which I think unwittingly the education system lends support; namely, that these are the only things that matter, and the most important thing that a young person can do is to win the academic 945 battle against his fellows. Even the comprehensive system will not in itself ease the frustrations that are experienced nowadays by the "failed 11-plus" or the "failed university entry", for this is too often translated as "failed society", though no one in this House would accept such an implication.
If the first drawback of the examinations system is the pressures it produces—and one must admit the complementary values which those pressures also produce—the second is that it stimulates a competitive attitude to life. Your Lordships may know in Clough's modern decalogue:Thou shall not covet, but tradition approves all forms of competition.Here, indeed, is a powerful incentive, accepted as axiomatic in economic life and responsible, yes, perhaps, as a stimulus to produce the goods, but responsible also, I would judge, for some of the worst evils of our society. It can too easily lead to an individual being set against his neighbour; to competitiveness rather than co-operation; to anti-existence rather than co-existence: or, to put it in blunter terms, it can induce the first stages of a disease from which society and the world in general suffers—namely, the "rat race".
There is another feature of education which gives rise to a great deal of difficulty and frustration for young people when they leave school and go to a job or to some type of further education. I can illustrate this by quoting from a recent article by Professor Niblett, in which he is referring to universities, not to schools, but the points he is making have their application throughout the whole educational system. He says:Universities are rather good at educating experts, and by no means so good these days at educating people generally. Anyway, they are no longer sure what a good education should produce, except a spectrum of qualities which just of themselves are a bit negative—tolerance, seriousness, lucidity in argument, a critical sense, ability to look straight at the facts.But then he adds, with a series of question marks:Commitment to a cause? Capacity to love? Sympathy with other human beings? Recognition of moral authority? Such qualities "—he says,it is usually thought can be left to develop by themselves.946 "I am in favour of intellectual education", said an able young professor, "because I am not confident enough about my moral and personal position to be in favour of anything else". A collapse in consensus about what human beings are really like, and what they ought therefore to become, is widespread in the world, but it is tragic if education offers no contribution. To these strictures on education there are many qualifications and exceptions. I am drawing attention only to two dangers of which many educationists themselves are only too well aware.
I believe that Lord Arran's proposal has its significance in the help it can give to ameliorate some of the dangers among young people that are implicit in a competitive society, and also in helping young people to find a greater sense of co-operation and purpose within society which the great majority of them properly desire, for it does not take a very profound analysis to see that society at the moment is producing disenchantment among too many young people. Some have become alienated from society by what, rightly or wrongly, they regard as the hothouse atmosphere of the educational system, and they often feel unable, even disinclined, to participate in the wider life of the community—which, as they see it, has confined rather than broadened their own lives in order to make them serve its interests. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that many young people are more and more being forced into their own thinking and action to "disengage", and try to create some kind of radical alternative, sometimes with creative results but often, I should judge, with results that serve only to increase their own frustrations. Can we not find ways in which young people can achieve their own life-style—a real sense of personal purpose, fulfilment and usefulness—within society, while still accepting that part of their contribution will rest in critical protest and an urge for changes and reforms?
The proposition which the noble Earl, Lord Arran, urges could, I suggest, help towards this end. It is not a new proposal, but I believe that the time is ripe for its vigorous implementation; and that by progressive stages. It is a proposition which will be difficult to organise, which will require widespread acceptance, 947 political, educational and by the public in general, but which I feel to be eminently desirable and feasible. From what I have gathered from the speeches made this afternoon I believe that most of your Lordships also feel the same.
The proposition that I should hope to see is this: that service to and involvement in the community should in course of time become part of the normal experience of all young people, either before, or a year or two after, entering work, or before going on to further education, technical college, professional training or university. In many instances, such service could well take the form of a period of some months or a year of service along the lines of Community Service Volunteers, or Voluntary Service Overseas, in which the young person has enough time to make a specific and useful contribution, such service being given from, one hopes, a progressively widening range of options, as several speakers have already mentioned. The same objectives could well be achieved by part-time activities spread over a longer period of time.
§ LORD ABERDARE
My Lords, would the right reverend Prelate excuse my interrupting him. He said he thought that in due course this should be part of every young man's or young woman's experience. Does he mean that it should be compulsory.
THE LORD BISHOP OF NORWICH
My Lords, if the noble Lord will wait for a moment I hope to answer that question, but I think I shall answer it more satisfactorily a little later.
It would, I submit, be a mistake if we applied this idea of service exclusively to any one section of young people—either school-leavers with no prospects for university or other forms of higher education, or those in between school and university. Both should be involved, but the way in which this concept could be implemented would naturally vary in these two different categories. If it is granted that the concept of giving all young people the opportunity of being involved in and serving the community is, in principle, one to be encouraged and fostered, then we are faced with the problem of how this can be implemented. This has raised a hot debate as between compulsory and voluntary service.
948 The argument against compulsion—in the sense of reintroducing some form of national service for all young people—is that it could, and probably would, kill the spirit of service (the value of which lies in a large part in its being something voluntarily undertaken) unless the needs for that service were recognised by young people themselves as "compelling" in the national interest, and not merely for the good of their souls. This situation existed in war time, and although I believe it could be argued that it is as equally compelling to-day, this is not universally apparent.
Furthermore, military service in war time applied only to young men. Allowance was very properly made in war time for conscientious objectors. I could see a number of conscientious objections by young people to compulsory service, social or, for that matter, military, to-day. On what grounds would a tribunal assess the validity of a conscientious objection in such a case? I can see a compulsory scheme of this sort open to all the problems and liabilities of a Youth Corps or Labour Corps, against which Heaven forfend us! I hope that that has satisfied the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, with regard to the question that he raised.
On the other hand, the objection against voluntary service is that only those young people "that way minded" would volunteer. And many who have most to give, and would benefit by service to the community, do not volunteer unless there is some inducement or persuasion, or public opinion, particularly among their own contemporaries, to induce them to do it. The existing organisations already probably provide opportunities for a fairly high percentage of those who want to be given the opportunity to serve within the limits of what they at present see as jobs which they could usefully do. The problem is how to extend service to the community to those who, for all sorts of reasons, do not at present want to do it, see any point in it or have any opportunity for it.
My Lords, what I wish now to suggest are the lines along which I believe this dilemma can be resolved. If service to the community is to be fostered from within the educational system, it can do so primarily only at the level of training, rather than recruitment. The real need is not primarily to recruit young people 949 to do odd jobs or chores, but to get young people thinking how they can best participate, according to their different abilities and temperaments, in forwarding the benefit of society. This is explicitly stated in paragraph 160 of the proposals by the Youth Development Council's publication, Youth and Community Work in the 70s:In a country such as ours, subject to the changes consequent upon a rapidly developing technology, society needs to engage in an intensive and perpetual transformation of itself, unless it is to respond to tomorrow's world with yesterday's activities and modes of organisation. Our commitment is to a society in which every member can be publicly active; for only in this way can society become positively responsive to them, and, in the constant renewal of itself, reflect their values".I take it that the use of the words "publicly active" does not necessarily imply that they should all appear before the television screen. What can be achieved within the educational framework is to educate young people to an awareness of the needs of the community and the reasons why those needs are not being met. That will inevitably involve possibilities for action to meet these needs.
The Youth Development Council's Report has stressed the importance of service within the educational context and has drawn particular attention to the role of the teachers in this respect. Certainly one of the features which encourage us to believe that the time is opportune for progress along these lines is that schools have begun to see themselves much less as enclosed communities but rather as openended—in fact as part of the wider community from which their pupils come. As well as this, in the school life itself the interest and participation of the parents is being recognised as being vitally important. So there is, so to speak, a two-way traffic within the educational system: the children moving out into the community, and parents and others playing a greater part in the life of the school.
By means of training and extra-curricula activity young people can be educated to accept a constructive role within the community; for instance, they can be educated in the kinds of activities which would help allay the threats and assist the improvement of our environment. This has already been mentioned, 950 and there is a vast range of needs that young people could meet in this respect. They could be trained for certain emergency situations, such as life-saving and accident prevention, which has been one significant element in the education of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, in schools such as Gordonstoun and Atlantic College.
These illustrations will, I hope, help to indicate that what one really hopes for is that young people may be free to participate in ways which they can do best, because they are young, and where their age is a particular asset. For, my Lords, the impression which I think may well have been gained from reading our previous debates on this subject is that service is a privilege that is offered to young people rather than a meeting of the needs of society. There is a need for the contribution of young people, and this cannot be over-stressed if our society is to remain healthy. "It is," as Mr. Dickson has said in his article in the Guardian, "the situation, the need, which makes the volunteer." If the training and motivation is provided for from within the educational system, there seems little doubt that there will be a response to the opportunities for service which voluntary organisations have in so large a measure stimulated and piloted, and which I hope will be increased more and more.
In terms of service by young people, what really matters is the quantity and quality of jobs available. If there are jobs that present an appropriate challenge to young people, and that give scope for imagination, the chance to feel needed and useful, then, as Lear said—and I repeat a quotation which I made in one of our previous debates:To expose thyself to feel as others feel";if they can make the individual want to serve and give a practical demonstration of the values that have been put forward by the educational system, then such a voluntary system of service can, and I believe should, work.
There are three practical recommendations which I should like to put for the consideration of the House. First, the most urgent need is for a properly constituted investigation to be launched into the current, largely voluntary, situation and to assess the practical problems 951 and probable implications of extending service progressively to all young people. There is no doubt, as the Report, The Voluntary Worker in the Social Services makes clear, that the role of the volunteer is vitally important in that field. It states:We are left with a conviction that the social services as we know them as they are developed give almost unlimited scope for voluntary effort.The task of a Working Party should be to consider the range and character of work appropriate for young people, and it should establish what kind of financial assistance would then be necessary. It is my belief that the scope of assistance which can be given by young people will prove to be quite as big in course of time and through stages of development tend to engage all the young people in this country. But this needs to be examined; it needs to be tested by a competent body, which I hope the Government may see their way to appoint, or at least to consider.
The second recommendation—and this has been referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Byers—is for co-ordination of information from all the organisations concerned in voluntary service. Surely this is a quite patent need. One of the major problems at the present moment is in bringing together users of young volunteers—perhaps more of a problem than the recruitment of young volunteers them-selves. This is probably the most immediate need, and something which the Government could respond to, by coordinating, or fostering the monetary assistance to co-ordinate, voluntary organisations, and by providing information on opportunities open to young people.
My third and last recommendation is that there should be an incentive to the voluntary scheme by making the contribution of a young person to society regarded as having some honour among those who engage young people, whether in industry or higher education. Young volunteer workers need not only encouragement and organisation but also, I would submit, recognition. This could be done both from within industry and also in places of higher education. In this connection I must say how immensely encouraged I was to hear the remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Butler of 952 Saffron Walden, when he said (as I understood him) that it would be all to the good if, between leaving school and going to university, those going to university had such an opportunity of a year of service: that they would come to university the better equipped personally for what would lie ahead of them.
§ VISCOUNT AMORY
My Lords, will the right reverend Prelate allow me to intervene? What he says is true. But he will remember that in Voluntary Service Overseas we are fortunate enough to have the good will of universities at large for the postponement of entry, whenever it is possible, to permit the volunteer to do at least a year before going to university.
THE LORD BISHOP OF NORWICH
My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Viscount for saying that, because I hope that what the noble Lord, Lord Butler, has said may be extended to those who are leaders in education in other universities, with just that specific type of encouragement.
Granted the will, and granted sufficient public recognition of the importance of this experience for young people in general, I submit that the problems set by these questions can and should be progressively met, so that service to the community is not so much something imposed on all young people as something which all young people expect, and are expected, to perform as part of their normal development to take their part as responsible adults in society.
§ 6.29 p.m.
§ BARONESS ELLIOT OF HARWOOD
My Lords, I rise to take part in this debate after having listened to the right reverend Prelate, and with a slightly muddled impression about what he really wants to do. I am as much in favour of community service as anybody. All my life I have been associated with youth organisations and I have seen voluntary service given on a very big scale indeed by youth organisations, by club members and other people in their free time. But I do not think we want all—and I use the word "all" very strongly—people to do the same kind of service, because they simply do not want to. Unless you are going to make it compulsory, you will not get everybody to do it—and I do not want to get everybody.
THE LORD BISHOP OF NORWICH
My Lords, may I interject for one moment? I did not say "the same kind of service"; most certainly not.
§ BARONESS ELLIOT OF HARWOOD
No, my Lords; but if I understood the right reverend Prelate aright although he did not say,"the same kind of service", he did say that everyone should under-take service. I do not think that everybody should. People who want to give that type of service should have every opportunity to do it. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden: that this is something which it is up to the individual person to do if he wants to or feels in any way inclined to do it. The only way in which one can make people do things is by compulsory or statutory service of some kind. We had that during the war—it had to be so in the war, of course. If I may, I would remind the right reverend Prelate that there was conscription for both men and women during the war. I am not sure whether or not he realised that.
THE EARL OF ARRAN
My Lords, if the noble Baroness will forgive me for intervening, I had hoped that we had got rid of the word "compulsory" now. There is no question at all of everybody having to do something. They do it at their own option, but not otherwise. There is no element of compulsion in the Motion which I shall put before the House later.
§ BARONESS ELLIOT OF HARWOOD
My Lords, it was quite clear from the speech made by the noble Earl, Lord Arran, that he was not talking about anything being compulsory, but when I listened to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Norwich I could not see how we could involve every single person in community service unless it was made compulsory. If we say that the opportunity shall be given to those young people who want to go into community service, that is excellent, but I know from long experience of running youth organisations that it will not include everybody because not everybody works that way. Indeed, I am glad that they do not, because I should hate everybody to work in the same way. In this country we have a great variety of opportunity 954 and of attitudes towards things, and surely it is important that we should stress that.
In the work that I have done all my life in youth organisations I have always been anxious to give young people the opportunity to develop their own individual tastes. It might be that some were extremely keen to do a community service, such as caring for old people, digging their gardens, taking them out, or helping the mentally defective. I have been sent a list by the National Association of Youth Clubs of the type of voluntary service that is given to-day in youth clubs and by youth organisations. That is admirable, and many people who have been speaking in this debate do not seem to realise how much is being done at the present time. It would be a great pity if we were to underestimate this.
Furthermore, it would be a great pity if a great deal of this work were recorded and, as it were, chalked up as a good mark for the young. In fact they do it out of a desire to give service. They do not want to have it chalked up to them as something of merit, and it would be a tremendous mistake if the feeling got around that everybody had to do this work because it would give them a good mark in society. I do not think that is the right attitude.
The noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, mentioned environmental studies, and I think the young people who study the history of the area in which they live, or who go in for stamp collecting, photography or any of the one hundred and one things that young people do, are deriving education by that means. Such things are great educators and methods of developing young people. It is the variety in which I am interested, not simply the fact that one can do a lot of community service, although personally I am keen that people should do it.
I am a member of the education committee of my county council, and only last week we learned that in Scotland young recruits going into the Army are doing community service as part of their training. One thing they are doing is organising adventure courses at weekends for boys and girls who come through local education authorities or voluntary organisations. The Army recruits provide the guidance in these adventure courses and the boys and girls come from 955 Friday until Sunday night or Monday morning to take part in such courses. That is a service which I think is excellent. I do not know whether that is being done among other sections of the Army, but it is in Scotland, and my county council agreed to send groups for the weekend to the Highlands where this work is being undertaken.
A great deal of work is also being done in connection with the physically handicapped. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, spoke of the mentally handicapped clubs. The National Association of Youth Clubs, which I know best, now has some physically handicapped and able-bodied clubs known as "Phab" clubs where severely handicapped young people, such as paraplegics and others who are chair bound, can go to classes for music and drama. All these things are going on at present and it would be excellent to encourage them. But we should not think that everybody will take part, because people will want to do different things.
I do not know whether the right reverend Prelate and the noble Lord, Lord Byers, had it in mind but I am not in favour of an overall organisation to co-ordinate community service, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, that one wants to keep community service local, in a local education authority area, and that it should be exceedingly varied. It is quite impossible to put it into a huge overall organisation, which would cost a great deal of money and involve a great many people; and in the end there would be no improvement on the present position. After all, the local education committee has an enormous knowledge of what is wanted in its own area. The Social Services Committee also has a tremendous knowledge of all the services in the area and the kind of help that volunteers can give. Most areas have branches of the Women's Royal Voluntary Service, the Red Cross and other voluntary organisations of that kind who also know what is wanted. It only requires someone to make a liaison between these groups. It is quite unnecessary to have an overall organisation; indeed that would only complicate matters and make them much more difficult.
A great deal can be done in this sphere, but in my opinion it must be done in a simple, pragmatic way which will 956 appeal to the type of young person with whom we are dealing and will also fit into the area in which those people are living. A great many changes have taken place, as has been brought out in the Report we are discussing. There have been changes among the young people and the ways in which they lead their lives. I speak with a long experience of youth work, and I can say that one thing which has made an enormous difference is the fact that young people to-day go about a great deal in motor cars. They go on expeditions abroad for their holidays, and many schools run school journeys which take young people into Europe and to oilier far away areas. That produces a much wider vision. Instead of being conlined in the rural area of their own village, they hop into a motor car on Saturday with their young friends and go off to somewhere where they can get a better band for dancing, or better entertainment, than in their own tiny rural community. This is happening everywhere and altering the pattern of rural community life. I do not think it is any better or any worse than any other pattern, but it is there and it is something we have to look at and cater for.
Some little while ago there was great trouble in some areas, I think mostly seaside resorts, of rather rough young people going about and almost breaking up the peaceful areas in which other people live. That has now died down, largely, I think, because they are now being catered for by a group called the Weekenders who are organising the activities and possibilities for this type of person—I do not know what their technical name is, whether they are "hippies". This is now being handled, I think very successfully, by different groups in the areas where these young people made so much trouble. The Weekenders have done a very fine job indeed. This is something which sprang out of an inquiry undertaken by the National Association of Youth Clubs; from the ingenuity and general enterprise of a group of people who wanted to try to find out why these young people spent their weekends so very unremuneratively from every point of view, and I think they have done it very well.
I was interested, too, to see stress put in the Report on the question of mixed 957 clubs. This is something very close to my heart. The noble Viscount, Lord Amory has gone, but I have argued this point with him many times. He is not in the least opposed, but he still has strong feelings about organisations catering only for boys or only for girls. I have always thought that a mixed society, which people have in their own homes and at school and in their leisure time, is one which should be encouraged. I am glad to see great stress put in the Report on mixed clubs and organisations. I am sure that that is the right approach. Of course, boys can go off and take part in boxing or something which is an entirely boys' sport, and the girls too have this special entertainment. But the fact is that the community should be a mixed community, and I agree wholeheartedly with the Report when it stresses this aspect of youth work.
The community service point is, I think, a most important one. It is one which I entirely support provided that it is done in a pragmatic way and is a matter that is handled as locally as possible. We cannot expect, nor do I think it should be, a universal activity. I do not agree about this; I think this is a mistaken idea. I think we want to have as much variety as possible. If young people want to volunteer for community service, I think it is up to the local authorities, the youth committee, the social services committee, to try to provide that kind of work for that service. But I do not like to feel that it is something which must be part of an education service or part of an all-over service. It should not be that; it should be something they do because they want to, and not for any reward. I am sure that this would spoil the whole spirit of what is going on here and now and is being done widely, not only here but overseas. I hope very much that that will be encouraged, and that we shall stick to our fundamental spirit of independence and freedom for the young to get what they can and give what they can to the community, but avoiding the idea that this is an all-embracing service that everybody is going to join, because I am quite sure that they never will.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ LORD SOPER
My Lords, it may well emerge that the value and potency of 958 this debate will be realised in the imperfections of the document considered. That in no way abates my gratitude to the noble Lord for introducing it and for the measured tones in which he laid the work out for us. If anything has emerged up to now in this long and interesting discussion, it is surely that the problem is immense, that the information is inadequate, that the options are many and that this document itself is highly imprecise. It was kind enough of the noble Lord, Lord Butler, to describe the sonorous prose. I think he indicated that the sonority was in inverse proportion to the clarity, but that in many cases ambiguity was preferable to the discovery of what was set down in clear language.
I refer to paragraph 70 on page 28 which says of the present situation:It has both strength and weakness, strength in that a significant number of customers are attracted, weakness that the service has not achieved a wider appeal".I looked at that carefully. I take it that it means that it has been successful where it has been successful and unsuccessful where it has failed. That is indubitably and incontrovertibly true, but as a creative addition to our argument it is about as pregnant as a paper bag. This is a very poor document semantically, and pompous, often I think reminding us more of a sermon we fear we might have preached than a solid contribution to an argument to which we must address our-selves. Nevertheless, it was a happy relief for me when one speaker referred to this document as a discussion document, for it contains within it, I believe, ammunition which can be properly distributed and can finally constitute an effective fire power.
This is a document which describes a marginal activity which ought to become a major one. It is a document which hazards a number of guesses at what the future will hold. It is a document which semantically has no distinction clearly enough drawn between the various meanings of the word "service", and it is in this particular field that I shall do a bit of ploughing. In the first place "service" can mean service rendered by youth to the community. In the second place "service" can mean service rendered by the community to youth. And in the third place "service" can mean that mixture of a curriculum and of a practical participation whereby the one who 959 is instructed by the community in public service has at least some baptism of fire in that particular field. But to confuse these three areas—and this, of course, leaves out the whole area of Divine service, to which I will not attract your Lordships' attention now—and not to discriminate between them is to produce the kind of thought which I suggest has overspread a good deal of our appreciation of what we are supposed to be talking about.
May I use the illustration of V.S.O. to say something which I hope may not be without some illumination in the field, first of all, of voluntary service, service which is rendered by the youth of the community to the community as such? It is a fact that in 1968 the volunteers for Voluntary Service Overseas were 1,024; in 1969 they were 1,350; to date in 1970 they are 1,675, and we are reliably informed that by the end of the year they may reach the total of 3,000. Anybody who doubts the availability of voluntary service if it is challenged and if it is channelled may well look to this particular and splendid piece of voluntary service and have no further doubts on the matter.
How heartily do I corroborate what has been said again and again in this debate, that if a recognisable target of public service is offered there will not be lacking those who would wish to take part in the contest and to reach that target if they can. But there are problems here. Perhaps the most serious problem is the identification of the need to which voluntary service is attracted. We must be careful not to fall into the error of taking all the old ladies across the road, because it may be that some of them may not want to go and do not believe that the grass is greener on the other side. There is a perceptible danger already—and I quote the Director of V.S.O.—that the manufacture of needs is a very poor alternative to the response to true needs.
There is here a further problem. It is the sinister aspect of apartheid which masquerades with respectability; that you are prepared to do anything you can for the black man provided that he does not want to do it for himself. Here is a problem, where the enthusiastic V.S.O. ventures out to places in the African continent and, unless he is very careful, 960 unless the need is reconciled with the emergent capacities and opportunities of those who are resident in that particular part of the world, it is likely that, sooner or later, there will be an unfortunate reaction to what can become a kind of paternalism. I am glad to say that that is not true at the moment, but it is a perceptible danger.
It is also interesting to reflect that those who volunteer for service overseas naturally, for obvious reasons, come from the further end of the age group. There is a kind of voluntary service that is already existent in many school curricula; and it is interesting that, although Voluntary Service Overseas creams off some of the most energetic and useful members of the growing community, the tendency is for those who volunteer in the lower age groups to be of the third stream, because they are not so likely to be effective in the more scholastic studies in which their more brilliant or more successful colleagues are involved. Here, too, is a problem which has to be faced Here, too, is an emergent situation. But let me return to the one solid and incontrovertible fact: that where we offer to young people, almost of any kind, the sort of opportunity to respond to a challenge of need, we need have little fear that they will not respond.
I turn to the other side, the service that is rendered by the community to youth. Here is a much more thorny problem and one in regard to which I have a great deal of enthusiasm for the substance, though perhaps not for the details, of Lord Arran's Motion. I think we have to recognise that compulsion and voluntary service are not the antipodes, they are not the anode and cathode of the problem. I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Butler, was absolutely right in his insistence that this kind of voluntary service must ultimately come within the framework which is essentially compulsory; namely, that of an educational system which extends beyond the age of 15. I think that that which Lord Arran is seeking would most favourably and successfully be found within that frame-work of an extended system of education which, for those who sit at desks after the age of 14, should be regarded as an offering to them by the community of participation in the kind of life in which, when they leave school, they will 961 be involved up to the hilt. It is there-fore an excursion into a very large field; and I believe the value of our deliberations to-day will lie in the extent to which we recognise that hitherto we have not seen that excursion in anything like the comprehensiveness that it demands, and have not applied to it either the money or the material without which it cannot possibly succeed.
For some practical contribution, I hope, to the last of the things I have been speaking about, may I now refer to the Church? I find here an even more clear and awful example of what persuaded the noble Earl, Lord Arran, to almost a condition of umbrage and excites in me a little less violent reaction. But listen to this, the voice of authority:The Churches will have to take a look at their role in the community in the light of our Report.It may be that we shall. But this is no voice from Sinai. When I look later for the evidence, the thunder and lightning and these Tablets of Stone, I find at page 84 this monumental mouse: that what we in the Churches have to do is to consider ourwork in relation to the theory and opportunities of community development".What do your Lordships think of that? Then, in sub-paragraph (b), we have to:study the implications of this approach for the training of the clergy, part-time clergy and laity "—which I should have thought was a natural consequence; and that the Churches will have toconsider means of sharing more widely their provision and personnel with the community as a whole.It is a very large mountain to bring forth such an inconsiderable mouse.
I would refer, equally kindly I hope, to their excursions into theology which take over half a page, and remind them that they ought not to tread too firmly. They have already "put their foot in it" very firmly in what they have said. I notice that there was only one apparent clergyman on the membership of the Committee. I hasten, with some sorrow, to say that he was a Methodist. But I have no desire to poke fun at the Church, or at those who poke fun at the Church.
I should like to say that there is an inference which hitherto has not been mentioned in this debate. I take it that 962 "youth" is an existential term. It may be a bit furry at the edges, but it has a substantial nucleus. We know what we mean. I suggest that "community" is a speculative term; and the real fact that lies behind this Report is that we have no community in the first place, either to offer to youth or to ask that youth should offer a service to it. Perhaps this is due to two factors which are not unconnected with the Church. There is a widespread and increasing diminution in Church attendance, and it would be foolish of me, wearing the collar I do, to pretend that we are not passing through a time of accelerated decline. Though it may be true that few people are much the worse for non-attendance at some religious celebrations or services, it is true that the Church did give, and Christianity or some like religion gives, a sense of moral obligation. It may be a question of moral taboo, but it is certainly a question of obligation. Secondly, whether the Kingdom of God is regarded as above the sky or here on earth, here is community, and here is an obligation related to community.
I was talking yesterday to a young fellow who lives in that horrid conurbation called Becontree. If there is anybody here from Becontree, I am referring to Dagenham. I spoke to him of community. He said, "What do you mean?". I think I understood his difficulty. He lives in a heartless system of housing with no centre, no community, no sense of belonging. He works for Ford's and, whether or not he is right, what he told me at least has substance. He said,"I do not feel any obligation to do anything for Ford's because I do not think that what I do will benefit this country at all. I suspect that the benefits will finally be found in Detroit." I dare say he is right. But whether he is right or wrong, that is the prevalent idea of a vociferous set of circumstances for which there is little or no centrality and simply no moral obligation.
I believe that the greatest and most effective usefulness of the voluntary societies and the Churches today is in the creation once again of a sense that we belong to one another, and that youth has a part to play as much in its own interests as in the interests of the community in which it lives. And a marriage of that concept of enlightened self-interest—if I may baptise a Conservative 963 fallacy—with a sense of true altruism, is in my judgment a hope alike of the youth service and of any other service.
A few weeks ago some of us contributed a letter to The Times in which we suggested that under Working Paper 11 of the Schools Council some kind of diploma should be offered to those at school who were prepared to enter upon a wider and more community-centred educational process. I believe this is one of the things which can immediately be put into effect. I heartily endorse—where I fully understood what was being said—what the previous speaker had to say about the iniquity, let alone the impractical nature, of endeavouring to regiment all people into one kind of service. However, I would end by saying what I found in V.S.O. I believe it will be found as a general principle that where we are prepared to equip young people for a community, introduce them to that community and then offer to them the chance of serving that community, we shall have proceeded upon the right lines to which this debate has been dedicated and in which I hope it will be profitable.
§ 7.1 p.m.
My Lords, at the age of 68 I am hardly in a position to pontificate on the aims and aspirations of youth, but I am encouraged by the universal acceptance of this House that a system of service at home or overseas is most desirable. My regret has always been that with the passing of National Service there are so few opportunities for young men in this country to have some experience of the more distant countries. They can hitch-hike to the Continent of Europe, but it is not very easy to hitch-hike into darkest Africa or down in the depths of the Andes. Listening to the speeches, I appreciate that the difficulty of providing these opportunities of service overseas are very considerable, and for that reason I welcome any initiative in that matter which seems to offer some solution.
I should like to tell your Lordships of a comparatively new overseas and adventure scheme which is being christened "Project''. It was thought out by a young major in the Scottish Regiment together with his wife, who happens to be my fourth daughter. That is the extent of my interest, except as a modest 964 subscriber, but I hear a certain amount of what happens thereon. The Army authorities, as part of their programme of military aid to the civil power, have agreed to back Project to the extent of seconding an officer to organise and get the thing going, and they seconded the said major. At the end of his period of appointment they have seconded another major, who happens to be a son of a former Chairman of Committees of this House. These officers act as executive directors, responsible to a purely civilian council of a charitable trust. This is something in the nature of the Government aid which the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, was talking about.
The idea behind the scheme is to give boys and, in some cases, girls an opportunity of seeing the world, and doing something between school and university which will help to form their own characters and will also be, one hopes, of use to the countries where they are performing their projects. But the emphasis is on the benefit to the volunteers themselves. The most difficult part of the scheme has been the fund raising, as it always is, but with generous help from four of our over-seas banks and some of the big mining houses, finance is now becoming a little bit easier. I must not say too much on that because I see one of the financiers in front of me. I think Barclays Bank D.C.O. have the credit of being the first big subscriber. Of course, transport of volunteers is an expensive item, but sometimes the R.A.F. have been able to help, and one or two of the shipping lines have been most generous in providing cheap transport.
The projects undertaken tend to be of a rural character. For instance, at the moment boys with A Level geology are joining survey parties going out under experienced geologists into the field in Chile, British Honduras and Ethiopia. Young farmers from Scotland are helping Ethiopian farmers with their new high yield imported dairy cattle. Boys studying zoology are attached to the wild life preservation authority in the National Park in Ethiopia. Boys are helping to run a farm at a leper colony in Ethiopia. Boys are instructing blind and handicapped children in handicrafts in a school near Addis Ababa. Archaeological students are preparing to go into the field 965 for a dig in Mexico, which up to date has been more or less a monopoly of the Americans. Boys are on their way to farms in Australia. The returning boys have all been most enthusiastic about the opportunities they have had, with the experience that they could never have got in any other way. One hopes that in due course it will become plain that this short period in their lives will be of lasting benefit in broadening their minds and forming their character. I am sure that the subscribers look at it in this way.
One feature of Project which is very desirable is that so far it has been possible to give all volunteers a short course of a week or two under rather rough conditions in the Hebrides—sometimes with a Pioneer sergeant lent by the Army to instruct and help—doing minor public works in the Island of Coll. Their capacity can be assessed, and those who do not appear to meet up to the difficulties need not be sent abroad. If the Project scheme gets too big for the present arrangements, then perhaps the Army might be able to help.
All this stems from the foresight of the Ministry of Defence in providing a serving officer to get the scheme going. A new venture of this sort would never have been able to afford to pay a director of a sufficiently high stature to be able to talk with Ministers and high officials of foreign Governments, arranging projects and so on. Of course, the Army get some residual benefit from this in that any of the officers they second will have had some rather unique experience at a rather higher level than they would receive in any ordinary Army job. The whole thing is good for the image of the Army, and is well representative of what I think to be an excellent programme, military aid to the civil power.
People might say that this is only another V.S.O., but the answer to that is that there are a number of important differences here; and this is recognised by V.S.O. In fact, one of the greatest enthusiasts of V.S.O. mentioned by the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, is on this particular Committee of Project. V.S.O. places emphasis on help to the under-developed countries, and for that purpose it is no good sending somebody who does not have a reasonable length of time to spend in that country. Project lays 966 emphasis on the character-building of the individual volunteer, and so it becomes possible to send somebody who does not have such a long time to spare.
From a psychological point of view, it is rather important that Project allows the host country to feel that it is not receiving charity, because nobody likes receiving charity. The host country can feel that it is helping to educate British boys, as some return for the large quantity of aid which it receives in other directions from this country. By providing a serving Army officer, it is possible to receive help all over the world from the network of military attaches and so on, in arranging interviews with foreign Governments and in getting the right contacts.
So far Project is small enough to be able to test out the volunteers under conditions of some roughness and hardship before they go overseas. I understand that the bigger organisations, such as V.S.O., cannot undertake such a test. This has already proved its worth in one case, where a boy who would have been turned down by the selection committee was given a chance on the week's course in the Hebrides, was passed and has since reacted marvellously in a very grave emergency overseas. I believe that that testing out in this country is of very vital importance, and I hope that, if this particular "show" ever gets big enough to grow beyond the private facilities available in the Isle of Coll, some official help might become available from the Army.
For all those reasons, I think that Project is something a little different from the other youth organisations and for that reason is worthy of support. There is no dearth of volunteers; there is no dearth of projects for them to do. The only problem is that funds continue to be difficult.
§ 7.13 p.m.
§ BARONESS GAITSKELL
My Lords, before I thank the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, for introducing this Motion on such an auspicious occasion may I, as a humble Back-Bencher, welcome the introduction of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales into this noble House.
I am grateful for this Motion, not so much for the opportunity it gives me to speak, however briefly, as for the opportunity to hear the views of other noble Lords. But I have been very worried 967 by one strain throughout this debate—the continuous twinning of the words "youth" and "problem"; the juxtaposition of those two words, and the exaggeration of the problems involved. After all, there has never been a time when youth has had so many opportunities, so much money in certain spheres, so much employment and, generally, a better life. Of course we have many problems in an advanced, industrial, highly populated country, and the problems about youth are no more than the problems in many other fields. We also have problems about old age and middle age. However, the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare. in his admirable speech, was not guilty of this exaggeration. I do not feel sentimental about youth or age. I have only a feeling of irritation that the passing of the years do not bring with them sufficient compensation in wisdom.
Having read the whole of Youth and Community Work in the 70s, I can understand why the summary and recommendations are placed at the beginning of the document. I reached the end of the study rather battered by clichés, and turnea once again to the summary for greater enlightenment. But the exact meaning of the words "community development" still eluded me, despite the fact that they had been repeated throughout the text like a drum beat. However, I realised that the words stressed an expansion in youth work. But I was helped out of my dilemma by reading the first progress report of the Young Volunteer Force Foundation, the educational trust helped by the Government and by local authority and industrial funds. I am full of admiration for the dynamic quality of the projects which this organisation undertakes, though not convinced by its exaggerated claims, or of its ability to change the whole of our society.
However, the article by Mr. Robin Guthrie, Peterborough's social development officer, in this Report is not only the most constructive contribution I have read about the training of community workers, but the most lucid explanation of the distinction between case work and community work. Mr. Guthrie says that nobody has yet decided what community work is and that we are too far from reaching a consensus about what community work might be, let alone about what training might be appropriate for 968 it. Perhaps the simplest definition he gave is that community work, in its social application, is complementary to case work.
When some of the vague philosophical words in the proposals set out by the Youth Service Development Council are stripped away, their approach, which is new and valuable and relevant to our highly populated urban society, can be recommended. What I found lacking in this study were any references to situations. There seems to have been a great deal of evidence from the two Committees—the Milson and the Fairbairn Committees—but no research into the shortcomings of the existing youth services. In fact, both this study and the Task Force Report denigrate the work of voluntary organisations and what they call "do-gooders". I cannot see why these should not take the new road proposed and broaden their outlook.
I think my reservation about the Youth Service Development Council and the Young Volunteer Force Foundation is that they claim too much. There are many problems in our society and many lacunae in our Welfare State which a Youth Service such as we have at this time, or such as we are likely to have for many years to come, can tackle in a really big way. Bad housing, imperfect education, persistent poverty—these are primarily the business of the Government themselves. Bad social conditions cannot be overcome by any Youth Service, however inspired and energetic.
Such claims that the young want to help society, but on their own terms and not on those forced upon them, simply underline the fact that if an uncritical acceptance of the society in which we live—for which they attack the older generation—has no future, so an uncritical wholesale rejection of our society by the younger generation is not constructive either. Youth service is part educational and part social service. The emphasis in this study is on social service. I welcome it. I wish that this Report had been shorter and much clearer, but I agree with its main provisions, contentions and goals, and I believe that as a basis for research it will serve a very useful purpose. The fact is that community development is a good thing because it involves more people in social 969 work, and suggests that what might be called a greater measure of self-government be given to the young.
Finally, my Lords, I wish to make a very few comments on some of the points which have been raised. As I have said, many noble Lords—in fact, most of them—exaggerated the problem. The noble Lord, Lord Byers, with whom I usually agree, painted a really lurid picture of our society to-day. He suggested that we need to spend millions on administering youth services; and I could see a picture of the country with half our young people overseas and half our young people in the country being trained as youth officers. This seems to me completely unrealistic. The noble Lord, Lord Hunt, whose excellent Report on immigrant youth I have read, highlights a sphere where the need for youth work in the community is the greatest and the opportunities the least.
I myself am against the Motion standing in the name of the noble Earl, Lord Arran. I think that National Service (if one can call it that) is not really suitable for this country. The noble Earl's Motion, in any case, takes a step back-wards. It separates the sheep from the goats. It will separate the academic young people and the manual workers even more than they are separated at the moment. We are not a country beset by enemies, nor a developing country like Israel—that is why I believe that National Service is so successful there. Altogether, I think it is not at all suitable here. It exaggerates the problem. We can take this problem in our stride if we have the will to do so.
§ 7.22 p.m.
§ BARONESS HYLTON-FOSTER
My Lords, I should like to add my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, for initiating this debate. As is customary, I think I should declare my interest, which is that any experience I have gained has been entirely through the Red Cross; and that is my only excuse for speaking to-day.
Now what is youth, and where does it begin and end? I think this is a real problem. But I welcome the proposed elasticity of age limits for grant aid, and hope, therefore, that projects undertaken, as well as age groups, will be taken into 970 consideration when grant aid is being considered. This, to me, is not clear from the Report, and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, may be able to give this point some thought. I greatly dislike the idea that we are divided up into categories. You cannot divide community work up into categories—young, old; coloured, white; paid, voluntary; us, them. We are all part of the community. It was the father of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Edinburgh, who was reported in The Times the other day, when speaking of one of his Award Schemes, as saying… that age difference had replaced class difference and that the segregation of the ages would be a terribly bad thing".Much of what is recommended in the Report is already being done, but very little is made of it; and I find that it is presented as though it were a new idea. Since there is a shortage of money, would it not be wiser to build on what has already been pioneered until new leaders are trained?—because if grants were given to existing organisations, they would probably be able to produce more leaders. It seems to me that the whole emphasis of the Report is on occupying the young, with very little consideration given, where welfare work is concerned, to the client at the receiving end. So often, young people who have had no training or preparation for the jobs they undertake are worried by the personal needs and requests of the handicapped, the ill and the old people, whereas those with even elementary training take it in their stride and give confidence to those they are helping.
This is brought out very much in the Aves Report, The Voluntary Worker in the Social Services, which I expect your Lordships have read, when it says:The Committee feels strongly that all volunteers need preparation for their work.Noble Lords living in the country will, I am sure, have noticed how much more sensibly equipped the Boy Scouts are than any other group of walkers and campers, who are largely unprepared. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, will agree with me when I say that in the Voluntary Aid Societies all the junior members have elementary training in first-aid, nursing, mothercraft, child welfare, health, hygiene and safety 971 in the home. But this is done through the Voluntary Aid Societies, whereas in the United States and Canada it is part of the school curriculum. It is part of the school curriculum as a preparation for later on: it is not a voluntary service.
The older age groups, of course, are looked after by many organisations. Many things are done to prepare them for work, I know, but I can give only one or two examples from the organisation to which I belong, which of course teaches people. They take part in exercises in disaster relief; they have residential week-ends, and training days and evenings; and they have demonstrations and talks on a wide range of subjects, including all the Reports that we have talked about—Newsom, Albemarle, Seebohm and, of course, now, the Avis Report. All this is in addition to many other interesting talks which are a preparation for a community service, such as learning about housing, about drugs, handicapped people, central and local government, whom to approach when you have problems and so on. Quite apart from themselves taking part in week-ends for the handicapped—that is, week-ends for both young people and for not so young people—there are many weekly activities such as teaching disabled people to swim—which of course is one of the best things for them. Another service which the young like doing very much is teaching the deaf to lip-read. All this is being done by many organisations, statutory and voluntary, yet it would appear from the Report that none of this is happening.
The Report does say, however, on page 19, paragraph 49:Some young people feel out of sympathy with the social and economic values of the established order.I think that they may end up by being the demonstrators who just get carried along, not necessarily knowing in the least what it is all about, but enjoying being in the front line of the news, in the papers and on television. These young people are the victims of mass media. They have the advantage of mobility, and they have a great deal of money; but they are very unlikely to benefit from what I suspect they would call trumped-up schemes to occupy them. I believe that if they could be given a chance to take part in something on the lines of Outward 972 Bound Schemes, or work off their steam on the playing fields, or somewhere where they have to battle with Nature, this might help them to find friends; and perhaps they might eventually become the imaginative leaders of the Community Service.
A great deal of thinking has been put into this Report, and I hope that it will bring about better facilities indoors, and belter facilities for sports out of doors, and also that it will produce many more leaders. But I also hope that it will discover the inspiration, or better still the ideal, for which the young people of to-day are searching.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT MONCKTON oF BRENCHLEY
My Lords, tonight I want to say a few words primarily on behalf of the voluntary organisations and more particularly on behalf of the boys' clubs, in my case, the Kent boys' clubs. We welcome the interest that has been shown in the Report and the work that has been put into it. But the Report is too involved, it is two separate Reports of Committees unhappily married; and, as has already been said, the vagueness and generalisations and clichés in it are really too many to be borne. In paragraph 131 there is a short note about two "things" lubricating wheels. The next complete paragraph reads:On the whole, we feel that the tide has turned in favour of better relations and that the improvement will continue.I do not know what that means to the writer. I see visions of an uncle and aunt sailing in on the crest of a wave.
In paragraph 164, the Report says:Our call then for people to be democratically involved in decision making is the outward and audible expression of the other strand of our underlying principles …Then it says:… all individuals should grow towards maturity;Heaven knows what that means! With great respect, it is the same all the way through the Report; except, as the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, said, for the summary at the beginning of the Report.
The voluntary organisations had less than three months in which to submit their views to be taken into account by this Report which itself had a gestation period of two and a. half years. So one 973 can realise the difficulties which the voluntary organisations had. None of the voluntary organisations thinks that it has the one and only answer; none claims to be the holder of the faith and the one way of looking after and helping youth. This is the advantage of having so many different youth and voluntary organisations. The very catholicity of it gives a greater freedom of choice. We all know that we must not be paternalistic towards youth. But that is exactly what this Report has done. It pontificates and tells them what to do as well as telling the voluntary organisations what to do.
Of course, there are things in the Report that we must welcome. It would be wrong to be entirely destructive, as I shall be shortly. What I welcome is the idea—not a very new one—that common facilities should be open to all. This makes sense: schools, old T.A. drill halls, scout groups, should open their facilities for other youth clubs to use. There is nothing very exciting about that; but it is obviously good. We must not, as the old, tell youth what to do. It is their choice, what they want to do in their organisations and where they want to go. It says in paragraph 2(a) that we must get away from the"club-is-the-youth-service"idea. There is no"must"or decision about it. Paragraph 6(d) says:One of the objects of the Youth and Community Service must be to bring young adults of both sexes together.Why"must"? It is their choice. Sometimes a young man wants to go out with a girl; at other times he does not. There is no"must ", no orders from on high, and still less from a Government body. We must let youth do what they want. There is a"must"there.
A young man, or a boy who is going to be a man. is going to be prepared by some help from outside and we think that the boys' clubs are one of the best ways of helping him. He is a chap who is going to take a risk, a challenge, an adventure. And probably those risks are best taken without girls. On the days when he is not doing those things, he will want to go to a mixed youth club. But he must have the freedom of choice to do what he thinks is right and not what we adults think is right. I believe so much with the noble Baroness, Lady 974 Gaitskell, that the whole of this debate has tended to over-complicate the problem, if problem there is. Simplicity is one of the attractive sides of youth. I think we ought to look at it in a more simple way. Let us get away from all these complicated words in the Report and some of the complicated ideas that come forward. The majority of our youth are normal, healthy and excellent people. They want outlets, in the case of boys for their virility; and they want outlets for opportunity to be able to make a choice by themselves.
Speaking now more particularly from the viewpoint of the Kent boys' clubs, I should like your Lordships to realise how different they are from other organisations in the sense that there is no uniform, there are no set disciplines, there is no set routine. The club evolves around and is shaped by the boys them-selves. We do not accept, as the Report suggests, that we should confine ourselves only to the younger age groups. We find that the spread all the way from 11 to 19 years of age is better.
Let me give just a few examples of the Kent boys' clubs' activities now. On the physical side: camping, cycling, fishing, canooing, gymnastics, boxing, trampolene, judo, swimming, sailing, cricket, table tennis, archery; also painting, chess, modelling, photography, drama, rhythm groups, essay competitions.
I turn more particularly to what we are discussing. Last year we gave a new impetus to the community service side. All the Kent boys' clubs helped in some way with the social service side—even those clubs where the boys themselves had suffered more than most youth in this country: those of the clubs in the approved schools in Kent which are some of the best clubs in the county. Even they have gone out to dig gardens for old people and to paper walls in their houses. Others have gone into mental hospitals to read and talk to the patients and to play games with them. Others have gone to do normal duties in the hospitals. All are voluntary, all of their own accord, not ordered to do so from on high.
In paragraph 382 there is a comment on grants saying that they have been given in the past on historical grounds and that they now should be re-looked 975 at in the light of this Report. This would be fatal to the voluntary organisations and fatal to the Kent boys' clubs. The Kent County Council, in wickedness, last year halved the grant to the Kent Association of Boys' Clubs. I have 66 clubs and 4,600 boys. We cannot raise enough money to pay the wage of the one organising central secretary who helps with training and the central competitions for all those clubs. If this Report's recommendations on grants are accepted we shall be in a still worse position.
My Lords, there is a minority of youth about whom I feel most of the debate has been about. That is the minority who go wrong or who opt out of life. How much time is spent on trying to cure those who are in that position is known to most of us. How much time should be spent on stopping it I do not think has been thought out. To stop it we must get at the parents and the things that go on and what we adults have done to help these chaps get in those terrible positions. I cannot but think that we are guilty in this House for the legislation we have passed in the short time I have been here: the abortion laws, the legalisation of homosexual action between consenting adults, marriage for two years' trial or five years at the worst. Censor-ship, I suppose, is on the way out; and perversion is available to those who take the magazines which deal with these things or who go to the films. Is it any wonder that youth looks with some askance at us, the adults, and at what we have done. How can we say what they should do when we have done those things which I believe to be wrong? Statistical analyses of boys in approved schools, remand homes and borstals show that they mostly come from broken homes—the cause is with us, the adults. You cannot cure the boys; you must stop it first in the adults.
Why are so many of the young going to the Maharishi, or taking part in witchcraft cults in the nude in the woods in our countryside? For the same reason, that we adults have failed to offer them what I think to be the true religion. My Lords, even the Bishops have left the Chamber before I have said this. How can we believe that they should follow our own religion if our own religion is so unsure? I believe it is mostly because adults, and the Bishops of all the 976 Churches, are trying to be"with it". The young do not respect the old who try to be"with it". Youth is a very short period in life and one certainty is that the young are going to get old—with a bit of luck. The only thing they cannot get at once, and something which we have got, is experience.
We have not enough leaders in the voluntary organisations. It is difficult to persuade men, preferably married men who, with their wives, could help, to do what is really week-end work. We do not want"commanders"; we do not want chaps who are going to order other people about. We want leaders who merely by their example and service can help and show youth what to do. Going round these clubs and meeting all these young men, what I find so refreshing is the way they tell you straight what they think. It is very revealing, my Lords, to discover how their thoughts are changing, rather like the Master's song of the Broderers' Company:Not thinking of all they should tell us,But telling us all they think.Telling us straight, and it is fascinating.
My Lords, I am sorry, but I have missed one thing which I wanted to say. I wished to refer for a moment to Lord Arran's Motion because I found some things in it which were very attractive but others which were not so attractive. I wonder whether there is not yet another alternative which is at least worth considering. The noble Lord's Motion is not one of which we should"take vote"or anything like that, but is it, perhaps, right that those who go on to higher education, by which I mean university education, owe something to the State, if you like; or to their fellow beings, which is perhaps a better way to put it because we do not like the word "State"? In the old days when the Knights of St. John warded off the infidels at Malta, every young man who joined them either went there and did his tour of duty, which was three years in the galleys, or he paid. I wonder whether there is something in that. Every young man who, by his own hard work and with the help of the State, goes to university, should either pay for that or give a year of his life to helping his fellow beings. How that service should be given, what form it should take of serving the community, is something 977 which ought to be considered. So much of Lord Arran's Motion, I feel, wants a lot of further consideration and this is just another idea that I am floating.
My Lords, I have said that I believe there is a change in youth and there really is. There is a reaction coming from them, from the majority of young people. It is extraordinary how healthy and normal is this majority. They want their opportunities and challenges. They are fed up with the permissive society; they are, I am ashamed to say, fed up with politics, and I suppose that is our fault as well. The idea in the Report, and as was said by the noble Earl, Lord Arran, that Political Parties should come into the voluntary organisations and youth groups, fills me with horror. Heaven forbid that that should happen! The young people do not want it. They are looking for a lead and for a challenge, and I am afraid, my Lords, that this Report does not give that lead; though I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, that it gives a basis for further research and discussion.
§ 7.44 p.m.
§ LORD ARWYN
My Lords, we are indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, whom we all regard with sincere respect, for initiating this debate; though I feel that some of the remarks in the opening part of his speech could be challenged to his advantage. The youth of this country, particularly in Wales, regard His Royal Highness as one who can readily understand their problems, and there could not have been a greater or more appropriate occasion than to-day. In our youth we were sustained by traditional"lighthouses ": our parents, our teachers, the church and the chapel all influenced us. But where do we rate these"lighthouses"now? In our youth we were not subjected to bombardment as targets for propaganda. Our patterns were not confused with new, conflicting and unorthodox views, or by masochistic dirges from"pop" groups. Whenever I hear these horrible exercises in self-pity I find them disturbing to my conscience, inasmuch as they underline our own failure to understand modern youth.
These proposals of the Youth Service Development Council, following the 978 Albemarle Committee's Report, represent another milestone in progress; and the decision of the Council and the Chairman, Mr. Denis Howell, to review the situation ten years after publication of the Albemarle Report was a good one. The interval between now and the next Report should not, I suggest, be over ten years; and five years might be wiser. Some youth clubs are too inward-looking; they become a closed shop. I was one of the first boy scouts in the Swansea Valley. I belonged to the 1st Swansea Valley Troop. I found, as I grew up, that we became inward-looking; and this danger could become a little too prevalent. Clubs can form a wonderful basis—and this is just common sense—for service to the community without the formal commitment of club membership. This must require a great deal of new thinking by local authorities and club management committees, and that means involvement in financial arrangements. More needs to be done, as other speakers have stressed, on general community principles in the educational curriculum in schools.
My Lords, the idea of a new adult service is one of the most exciting recommendations in this Report. Since the adult age is now 18 we need an entirely new approach to the 18-plus group. Young people are aware of the increase in leisure time. What they need is a leisure service where they can do what they choose and not what someone else thinks is good for them. It is in such leisure settings that good leaders will be able to develop their best social work and that new leaders will emerge. If we allow these recommendations to gather dust the consequences will certainly be serious. The units of society today are becoming gargantuan. How can we expect youth to identify itself with what appears to it to be an increasingly soulless society? We must recognise the growing need for affiliations as a reason for regional, cultural and language identity in order to restore an identifiable focus.
I am sorry that I cannot agree entirely with the general critcism of the Report by the noble Viscount, Lord Monckton of Brenchley; but I agree with him that what we are concerned with here is the recommendation for action. I would also ask: what have we done? The purpose of the debate is either to endorse 979 or condemn the recommendation for action. My purpose, in common with other Members of your Lorships' House, is to voice our approval and to have it on record. We cannot deprive our youth of the capacity to answer any challenge. The culture of our nation depends on the opportunities that we can provide. As the noble Lord, Lord Byers, said, youth resents that fact that it has had no opportunity to prove its mettle. I am a member of a generation that went to war in 1914. We had to prove our mettle in battle unfortunately.
Finally, I think it appropriate to quote an extract from a letter written to me last year by a young friend of mine, Geoffrey Williams, who won the single-handed Atlantic race in 1968. He wrote:Almost every progressive society has had some mechanism whereby young people can answer a challenge and work off their energy and enthusiasm and gain self-satisfaction which helps them to see beyond their problems. But the environment we are building makes it difficult for them to see a challenge, let alone answer it.This young man, like Captain Ridgway, the Atlantic rower, took advantage of opportunity. We must create opportunities, be they to test physical endurance or for dedicated service to help others. If we are now aware of the need for action, we shall have rendered a service to our youth which has never been done before, and again, I hope, take our place as moral leaders in this troubled world.
§ 7.50 p.m.
§ LORD CRAWSHAW
My Lords, may I start by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, and the noble Earl, Lord Arran, for introducing this debate to-day. Before turning to the Report, I should like to say something about the back-ground from which I speak, and it follows directly on what the noble Viscount, Lord Monckton of Brenchley, was saying. I am closely connected with the Scout Movement; in fact, I am a county commissioner. Over the past few years the Scout Movement has played a considerable part in developing the Youth Service. Everybody concerned is keenly interested in the recent Report and in the developments which we hope will lead from it. I have myself been in close touch with the Chief Scout, Sir Charles Maclean, and some of his staff. We also hope to learn how the Movement can serve the country more.
980 I can assure your Lordships that the Movement is not hidebound: I would not have anything to do with it if it were. The Chief Scout has been implementing a whole series of reforms lately. He has been subjected to a certain amount of criticism within the Movement, but it is only a very few people who have been criticising and they are only criticising several changes that have been made to try to modernise and improve the Movement. They really represent the Old Guard, who simply want to keep the trimmings and trappings of the past.
Scouting to-day is still attractive to boys, and we are proud of the fact that we have over half a million members in this country, led by 65,000 voluntary leaders; and, of course, there are just as many Guides. It is perhaps worth reflecting, in passing, what it would cost the country if all these people had to be paid. I am afraid that the pockets and time available of the existing volunteers are now pretty fully stretched. Before speaking about the Report itself. I should like to make a few more points about modern Scouting, which I think are important. I should also like to see how the points of the noble Earl, Lord Arran, might be met, although his proposals seem mainly concerned with what goes on in the schools. However, the young man who as a Cub Scout promised to do a good deed to everybody some day, although slightly confused, is probably a man after Lord Arran's own heart.
First, Scouting is associated with good fun and with outdoor life and adventure. Together with the Girl Guides, we cater for one of the widest age ranges in the Youth Service, for over a span of ten or more years, taking in the most formative years of young people's active life. Although Scouting continues to be based on Baden-Powell's original ideals, we have steadily evolved a system to keep in step with society. Short trousers, rubbing sticks together, rather forced smiling and whistling, represent a past image.
Scouting has always provided for physically and mentally handicapped boys, not in a self-conscious sort of way but quietly and unobtrusively. We have heard a little about that this afternoon. Boys of this sort are welcomed into Scouting as equal members with as much 981 to give and to gain as their more fortunate brothers. This is a service to the community of which, to my mind, we are justly proud, which appeals to me greatly and which would appeal to the noble Earl, Lord Arran.
Also, for over 60 years, we have made a contribution to international understanding. This subject has not been touched on much to-day. At a recent conference I attended people from over 50 different countries were present and I was intrigued to see Afrikaaners, Zulus, Egyptians and Israelis, all together. I think that most of them look to this country for a lead. We have also been able to play an increasing part in the absorption of young immigrants into this country. I think that this is a field in which we can do a bit more in the future. We are proud, but not complacent about our achievements up to now. Ours is a movement which we must fit into the general framework and try to reconcile its demands with consideration of the taxpayer.
Now I turn to the Report itself. Like many noble Lords, I am a little upset at some of the conclusions and some of the proposals. I agree very much with the views of the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, and of the noble Lord, Lord Soper. I suppose it is natural that ten years after the Albemarle Report, we should have this review. I am not quite sure that it is adequate. When the Report turns to the present Youth Service and attempts a review of the present situation, there is scant evidence of any serious research. The Report says:We are spending more and more on fewer and fewer.Try as I may, I do not know what this means. The total numbers in the Youth Service, according to the Report itself, have remained fairly constant over the last ten years, and how we are spending"more and more on fewer and fewer" I just do not understand. I could have hoped for a more serious investigation to show how the money had been spent and whether it was spent wisely. If we are to judge from the Report, the money spent over the last ten years has mostly been wasted. I am sure that this is not the case. I think that we are entitled to a more serious study of the last ten years, so that we can plan for the future.
982 An important chapter of the Report, to which I want to refer, is Chapter 7, entitled, "A philosophy for the 70s." Here there is a good deal to consider. I agree very much with the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, when he said that Lord Redcliffe-Maud's long-standing decription of the aim of youth work is one we want to keep. In this chapter there is a statement to which I take great exception. The writers of the Report say that they are not concernedwith the communication of an agreed belief or value system.That seems to me to be an implied criticism of Scouting and of many other national voluntary youth organisations, as our stated aim, which is the stated aim of many other organisations as well, is:to encourage the physical, mental and spiritual development of young people so that they may take a constructive place in society.We stand by that and find it hard to believe that any youth work which sets out to provide for the all-round development of young people can possibly ignore beliefs or value systems. Opportunities for discussion and establishing beliefs or value systems are essential in the social education of young people.
I have already spoken about the ideals of Scouting, which I believe are admired by the greater part of the community. Those ideals and ethics are embodied in the Scout Promise and Law and remain at the very centre of our training. Without that fibre Scouting would simply be a series of enjoyable but purely superficial pursuits. If this is what the writers of the Report want, then we in Scouting do not subscribe to it. Chapter 7 goes on to talk about the question of partnership. Here I very much endorse the sentiments of the noble Earl, Lord Arran, because I assume that by"partnership"the Report means partnership between the voluntary and the statutory bodies. I agree that partnership is desirable, but for a partnership to be successful it must be a partnership of equals. It is of no value to a voluntary organisation to be invited to work with a statutory organisation on terms laid down by the statutory organisation. This is not partnership; it is dictatorship.
I do not think we can attach too much importance to the question of premises, except in the case of Scouts, where fairly humble prefabs often serve the purpose, and one finds that people will work to 983 raise funds for their headquarters if they feel a part of it. If everything takes place on a school campus this feeling goes, and one gets the feeling of a sort of sausage factory churning out people. I am also worried that here, as in so many spheres, economy seems to be the overriding factor. Obviously one wants where possible to achieve the maximum economies, but I am worried about the possibility that if we put everything in school premises (and I think the Department of Education and Science in their own Report agree with this) young people may well be put off. I think that it narrows young people's outlook if everything they do up to a certain age goes on at or near school. The whole point of the Youth Service may be missed if the young people do not mix with people who have no connection with school or with their parents. They should meet other people who can open up new aspects.
I want now to say a word or two about age ranges, because here again the Scouts have a certain amount of experience in this field. The Report says that the membership of the youth services falls away by the age of 20. This is not new, and it is quite natural. We are also told that the voluntary organisations, such as Scouting, attract and hold a high proportion at all ages, including those over the age of 15. I think we have always known that, but I am not sure that other people in the youth services have realised it. We are told in the Report that the number of girls in the Youth Service declines with their age. This may be true of the Youth Service as a whole, but it is certainly not true of the Boy Scouts' Association or the Girl Guides' Association. Your Lordships may be interested to know that the total number of boys in the age group 16 to 20 is almost identical with the number of girls in the same age group. I think the figures show there is one more girl than boy: it is as near as that.
Later on in the Report there is more about age ranges; and this is obviously a controversial subject. The Scouts accept the arguments for reconsidering the existing age limits of 14 and 20, and heartily endorse the suggestion that such age ranges should disappear. We have never accepted the concept of a national Youth Service firmly tied to specific age limits. 984 We believe that in the nature of things a young person's development is an individual and continuing process, and this is what I believe Scouting and similar organisations provide. I also welcome the suggestion that an investigation should be made into the needs of the under-14s, and the Scouts' and Guides' Associations would very much like to co-operate in the proposed investigation. I think it is a pity that more has not been done for the under-14s.
As for the upper age limit, we recognise the folly of hard-and-fast age limits, and although our new Venture Scout section goes up to the 20th birthday we have always envisaged that young men would leave it from the age of 18 on-wards, as and when they felt it had served their purpose. Some of them, of course, turn to helping the Scout movement as adult leaders, and it is for that reason that the minimum age for our adult leaders is now set at 18. Continuing in youth work as an adult is no doubt their contribution to adult society. I also want to endorse what many other noble Lords have said about mixed activities. I do not think that one should have preference over another. Some activities are better mixed, and some are not. I do not think we can press priorities one way or another.
Much later in the Report there is talk of"a new administrative orientation". I have already said that partnership is attractive to us on the understanding that it is genuine and is not based solely on economic necessity. We try to ensure that Scouting people are represented at local level at the start of any development. We agree with the view that, so far as children who are still at school are concerned, co-operation between teachers and youth workers is essential, but I am not convinced that this will be achieved while youth workers, both professional and voluntary, are treated as second-class citizens in so far as the teaching profession is concerned. I cannot find much in the Report to remedy this situation. I support the proposed three-year training course for professional youth workers, and I am sorry that the Department of Education and Science have not yet approved this: I believe that they have approved two years.
I cannot find much in the Report to suggest ways of improving the training and 985 help offered to voluntary leaders and potential voluntary leaders. This is a serious omission, because the whole Youth Service, whether it be statutory or voluntary, rests to a large extent on voluntary leaders: and this seems to have escaped the authors of the Report. So many people are put off helping by the feeling that they must have a parlour trick or a stunt of some sort. I think we must do more to encourage them to join and to help.
As for the youth work in schools, I am a little mystified by the statement thatthe tide is turning towards youth work in schools ".Research which we have carried out in conjunction with the Girl Guides' Association suggests that there is not much progress in this field. As I say, I personally should object to all youth work being closely associated with schools.
The Report also has a great deal to say about the active society, and I agree that young people should play a real part in decision-making. Indeed, in the sense that the patrol system, encouraged in Scout troops from the earliest days, is a system of self-government, we have always been committed to participation. We have recently taken several steps to emphasise the importance of the Scout troop being self-run. The recently introduced Venture Scout section for the 16 to 20 age group is entirely self-programming and self-governing, and this feature of its work has produced regular results.
There was a national convention of Venture Scouts and Ranger Guides last Christmas, at Loughborough University. This was attended by a junior Minister of the Department of Education and Science, Miss Lestor, whom I was glad to see here to-day. She told me that she was most impressed with the calibre of the young people and the quality of the discussions which took place. I was also at the convention and was witness to the fact that, in so far as participation is concerned, Scouting is aware of the need for the voice of the young to be heard in the highest quarters. At Loughborough I was impressed that these young adults—and that is what they really are—were deeply concerned about the failings of the society in which we live. Many things came up for critical examination, such as 986 hunger, the Establishment generally, the Church and so on.
Apart from this, there is no doubt that in their comparatively quiet way the Venture scouts and the younger scouts are giving practical service to the community on a pretty impressive scale. This service is often rather parochial, and goes unsung and unheralded; and I do not think they would want it otherwise. I think I can reassure the noble Earl, Lord Arran, that this is being done on a large scale.
Finally, I should like to turn to the question of finance. There is the suggestion in the Report that:Youth work is likely to be weakened by lack of public funds.That is a statement by representatives of the Youth Service. I can understand the Government or even Members of your Lordships' House being worried about what we might be spending on the Service. It seems to me that for this to be in the Report is defeatist, and shows the writers to be more or less beaten before they start. If one accepts—and I say that one must accept—shortage of funds with some reluctance, there comes the question of priorities laid out in the Report. I think that here there are a number of conflicting priorities. On the one hand we are told that there should be a correct balance between the younger and older age groups, and then we are told that those who have left school and are socially deprived are to have priority. On the one hand we are told that the final decision must be made on local priorities established by local needs, but later on we are told with some force that young people over thirteen must be catered for first. And then, even later on, there is the suggestion that grant policy should favour mixed work, although, as I have said, this is not discussed or justified anywhere in the Report itself. Obviously we must have priorities, but I cannot see how we can reconcile the conflicting priorities of the Report.
I should like to finish with one word of warning, because I have heard that many local education authorities are already taking steps to implement some of the recommendations of the Report. This is premature to say the least, because the Government, as we know, have not yet accepted the Report, nor expressed 987 a view on it. There is a great danger that local education authorities are selecting those priorities which appeal to them most. With such a wide range of priorities to choose from it is not surprising that there is serious concern in many parts of the country that unless the Secretary of Stale acts fairly quickly the situation will get seriously out of hand.
My Lords, I think I have spoken for long enough. There are certain other things on which I should have liked to comment. 1 could have said something about counselling. I could have said something about the training of part-time leaders, and I should also have liked to say a little more about service to the community by the young. I hope that I have not been too critical of the Report. I am seriously concerned that some of the muddled thinking must be clarified fairly urgently. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, when he called for a climate, a framework, in which we can all work, and I would ask the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, for some assurances on the problems that I have raised.
§ 8.14 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF ELGIN AND KINCARDINE
My Lords, for someone in the Youth Service like myself, who has a voluntary part to play, the whole of this afternoon has been quite fascinating. Never has there been such a tremendous amount of wonderful advice which has come so fully and so freely to us, and I should like at once to thank my noble kinsman, Lord Aberdare, for having initiated this debate.
When the decade to which we have been referring ends, the Boys' Brigade will be entering its one-hundredth year of service. It may be thought that any comment which I, as President of such an elderly organisation, may make is quite unrealistic in this present age. But with the greatest respect to your Lordships' debate of last week, I would assure you that my organisation is not by any means at the age of retirement. Indeed, as the Report on The Youth Service in the Seventies so rightly comments, it is one of the older organisations which, in recent years, has undertaken considerable reshaping. This has, in effect, thrown upon the younger leaders a large burden of responsibility. It is one thing to think about change, quite another to 988 gather understanding co-operation. But as a result of a measure of change, leadership is in a more buoyant frame of mind and action. It is in this mood that the Report, has been examined and though time has not been long I venture to put forward some of the feelings and hopes which the Report has engendered in an old-established uniformed youth organisation for boys and young men.
One historic reference to the founding of the movement may help to clear the way to this appreciation. In Glasgow, in 1882, it was from a minister of the Church of Scotland to a young man of his congregation that the start was given when he said to William Smith,"Do something about the boys in the parish." Such a statement has a tremendous ring of Victorian purpose, but when one realises that the minister was none other than the father of the noble Lord, Lord Reith, the potency of the command may be better understood. It has remained over the past eighty years the firm, simple inspiration for countless others, and there may well be alive to-day over 2 million men who have enjoyed membership of the organisation.
While such an organisation was once in an almost exclusive pioneering position, it has over the years been proud and happy to help in the start of other movements, and is therefore now all the more ready to welcome co-operation in any new arrangement for the next decade. For certainly no ore voluntary organisation believes that it can of itself produce a complete range of opportunity. Yet each expects to be able to gear its work sensibly so as to act in understanding partnership with education authorities and with the Youth Service as a whole. Though the Report makes searching reference to the training of full-time permanent leaders, it also shows, from the numbers taken in and the amount of time such training takes, that a decade will be short enough in which to establish a professional staff to be of value across the country So the burden of keeping up quality and quantity must fall largely upon the voluntary organisation.
The Boys' Brigade, like many other voluntary bodies, has national training centres in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. In the limited times, often weekend time, in which potential 989 leadership training is done, it is essential for the organisation to inject something of the continuing inspiration of the movement and its methods. Such courses of training, though simple, must be effective enough to cover the future lines of communication within the organisation and to engender in these trust and understanding. It is only by some such approach that over 3,000 sub-units all over Britain are held in touch and have an entity. It is possible to get to know the staff and the members of the organisation, and so is confidence more easily exchanged.
The setting up of a leader in a voluntary organisation is a matter of some care. For the Boys' Brigade the leader must also be a member of a Christian Church. At the earliest possible stage an opportunity is taken to bring to the course trained, specialist leaders from the Youth Service and local education authorities, which helps to create a better understanding, and certainly seems the sort of co-operation outlined in the general recommendations of the Report in paragraph 8(k). Effort has always been made to escape what the Report describes as the"poor relation" attitude. To me it has been often very interesting to get the reactions of professional leaders to their experience attending the training sessions of a voluntary organisation. Perhaps the easiest way to describe the sense is to quote the request,"When can we come again? "—this because they had found a tremendous atmosphere of enjoyable inspiration. The more such personal relationship can be fostered the better.
One further point along these lines is that in the normal course of affairs many young members of the movement expect to complete their education at university or training college. It well may be that some will specialise in youth leadership and so be in a position to come back with wider sympathy to continue the mutual understanding between voluntary and professional training. Certainly my own organisation has set up definite links in 18 universities in order to continue contact with former members of the movement, and has always found it essential over the years to strengthen every link and contact with Churches and educational authorities so as to counter 990 any feeling of isolation. When this is done on a personal level, understanding is often more sure. So it is stressed at every level of leadership in our movement as a definite part of policy that useful contacts be made and refreshed as often as possible.
To-day few voluntary organisations have complaints about lack of numbers joining in the eighth to tenth year. But there are some who will tell you that six years is barely too young an age at which to start. There are many organisations in the country dealing with these young children. Probably the greatest number now is between the ages of 8 and 14, and the problem confronting an organisation is to create such a continuity of training and activity that the urge to stay in dominates. To this end a more sophisticated and adventurous programme for the 8 to 12-year-old range has proved for us most successful, and searching consideration of the 12 to 14 age group is now seriously in hand.
It is at this moment that the Report most clearly challenges the voluntary organisations, asking if from their proud history they cannot produce some plan of contemporary force. Certain factors would be helpful in this search. The first is material and involves the scope of the Youth Service age. It would be extremely helpful if, for the sake of continuity, the range could be dropped so as to cover the 8 to 14 age period. The new programme which my organisation has brought in for part of this range is more expensive, but because of its good results in attracting membership it would be the better to be dealt with in conjunction with any plan for 14-year-olds and upwards. In this respect if grants were received spread over a wider age range, and were more realistic, we would accept a greater measure of accountability. It is hoped that this suggestion in the Report, that the Youth Service range be widened, will be taken into account and favourably determined.
The second feature is more a matter of understanding and co-operation. At the most decisive age of 14 to 16 several factors determine whether a member stays in the organisation; equally, whether he joins for the first time. Among the most pressing reasons are school commitments. Whatever these may be, it is essential for the well-being of the voluntary 991 organisations that all work between the ages of 14 and 16 is not Wholly school-centred. During this period you can expect to hold two types of member: the one who is preparing for and taking the first steps in responsible leadership; and the other who stays because of the fellowship. And it is vital for the life of the unit that there be enough of both to make the work satisfying. With reasonable understanding, it must surely be possible to link work and attendance in a voluntary organisation with a similar phase in school.
The third point we propose is to make all the training and fellowship in our older age groups become less personal and more outward-giving. While this agreeably coincides with the burden of the Report, this approach may be considered to be only a speeding up of our original purpose, which tried to ensure that a member leaving the organisation was that much better fitted to useful service in the community. My own organisation heartily supports the line that, in addition to offering training and discussion on a personal basis, there should be definite and persistent projects for purposes which can be roundly planned and achieved.
Like so many other noble Lords who have referred to their own. organisations, I have just received from my organisation a report of 350 projects which have recently been undertaken in England. These, taken collectively, feature something which is particularly important because they represent the determination of young men to reach into the community and show what they feel Christianity means and that they have been encouraged to do this by use of the collective strength of an organisation whose proud yet humble spirit was begun to promote an understanding of Christian manliness. This method of approach helps to correct the isolation into which it is all too easy for such an organisation to drift. Voluntary organisations can do, and have done, something to start this type of work, but if in future there is to be a joint organisation available to take groups from any part of the Youth Service, then there is a wonderful opportunity for mixing the individual approach of organisations with diverse backgrounds. An organisation like the Boys' Brigade, which is mono-sex. Church-centred and uniformed, would 992 certainly not stand out of such a scheme in sole preference to its own.
Many noble Lords have spoken of the field of service which is open overseas; and here again in many countries there are autonomous Boys' Brigades, and others rely upon our international head-quarters in London. The Report stresses overseas service and fellowship through youth, organisations. My own would greatly hope to encourage, as they have done over a few years, the interchange of young people on a fairly lengthy residential basis in each other's country, backed up by shorter camping tours for groups of younger boys—and here bulk air travel is certainly making it more feasible. We have been given a start to this by the former Lord Mayor of London's special fund; and we have two young men at the moment in Africa. The voluntary youth organisations which started, and continue, their work overseas present an opportunity unique to Britain, for they have only the axe of fellowship to grind. Certainly the fullest support is given to paragraph 214 of the Report.
One had almost come to the end of the Report before finding that most burning of questions, finance. Undoubtedly the summary is very fair and covers much of the ground. Practically all voluntary organisations have some form of financial call on each member. In my own case such a call is regulated annually to keep pace with the central administrative and training costs. But there comes a limit to the time and trouble each sub-unit should spend in raising funds. At this point one must heartily endorse the reflection in the Report that the level of Government grants is often of more historical than logical determination. There is also the question of the discriminatory clauses in the Social and Physical Training Regulations of 1939, which concern attendance or non-attendance at any form of religious worship and instruction. Removal of these restrictions has been repeatedly sought over thirty years.
However, an even more serious situation has arisen recently for those organisations which use a modest uniform. In my own case, the Boys' Brigade uses a simple uniform of cap, belt and haver-sack. We also issue a certain amount of training manuals and other literature and training aids through our own supplies department in Britain. Last year we paid 993 a total in purchase tax on these items of £12,500, which has risen from £4,000 in six years. As a result it has been exceedingly difficult to keep a balanced budget and only stringent economies have been able to cut severe losses. Quite apart from this aspect, it has made almost derisory the kindly grants from the respective Government Departments in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, which total £14,200, leaving us only £1,700 net. I hope, having given advance notice, that it may be possible for some sympathetic action to be taken, because the realisation of all the hopes to which I have referred depends on something of this kind.
My Lords, the recommendation in this Report which says that the future of the Youth Service depends, among other factors, upon voluntary organisations taking their own special initiatives is almost as decisive as the original command which started the Boys' Brigade: "Go and do something!" In this specialist role the Boys' Brigade is determined to continue to create the opportunity in which an individual can find a sense of leadership, and by which the quality of Christian fellowship is at the service of the community.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ LORD FERRIER
My Lords, when I telephoned to put down my name to speak on the Motion which was to be proposed by the noble Earl, I found I was frustrated in that it had been merged with the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare. I was not capable of speaking on that, because I had not read the Report as it does not apply to Scotland. Whether or not I have missed something I am not quite sure after hearing the noble Lord, Lord Soper.
I had intended to support the noble Earl's Motion if it had gone forward, and I had armed myself with a good deal of information as to what has been done by the Church of Scotland in regard to youth work, in which it is a good deal ahead of England and Wales. I will not weary your Lordships with that at this late hour, although I will give to the noble Lord, Lord Crawshaw, a brochure with regard to the work at Carberry Tower which is devoted all the year round to the training of leaders in youth work. I agree with the remark made by the noble 994 Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, that we must not lose sight of the fact that up and down the country people are doing a great deal of voluntary work. Whether this applies in urban areas to the same extent as in rural areas I am not quite sure.
One point I wish to make and which has not been mentioned before concerns premises. In our neighbourhood there is a small borough in which the youth club is now flourishing because they have obtained the use of the old corn exchange. A neighbour of mine has, out of his own resources, built a hut in a pleasant situation near a little loch which is full of trout, and by arrangement with a slum parish in Glasgow batches of Glasgow children go out there, boys one week and girls the next, and the neighbours all join in and help with such things as bird-watching, angling and generally interesting these children, who are absolutely thrilled, in rural life. This is made possible as a result of the hut being available.
I have a daughter who now has a family of her own. She has taken a teacher's diploma and has a good deal of experience in difficult communities. I have been engaged by her never to lose an opportunity of"shouting from the housetops ", to use her own phrase, that we may well be to blame for what is going wrong with the youth in some of these difficult areas and that one of the possible cures is to make absolutely certain that in all development, whether it be slum clearance and replacement, or the building of New Towns, space is allocated for premises for youth work. In some respects this links up with the plans of the National Playing Fields Association. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Crawshaw, that a Nissen hut is good enough, but my daughter and her friends have emphasised the fact that it is space that is wanted. The young people and the organisations can put up the premises but they cannot do anything if there is not the room available, whether it be somewhere in a mighty block of flats or the corner of a field in a rural area.
When I listened to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, I wondered whether I would indeed have been able to support the noble Earl's Motion, because the noble 995 Lord, Lord Butler, made the point that nothing can be done in that regard until the school leaving age is raised to 16. However, if 1 may return to my point as to space, this can be achieved now. Local authorities and anybody entrusted with planning and development of living space can ensure that somewhere there is always room for youth work. It should not be linked with the community centre and it need not necessarily be linked with a school—in fact it probably should not be so linked—but there should be space where youth organisations can plan and develop the work which is so necessary to keep young people out of mischief.
§ 8.35 p.m.
My Lords, we have had a long and full debate, extensive in time and intensive, I think it is fair to say, both in ideals and interest, and my noble friend Lord Aberdare and the noble Earl, Lord Arran, deserve our thanks for taking us into orbit with them to-day in this immensely important sphere. I must say that there was a moment earlier this afternoon when I did not quite know where my noble friend was taking me, since a message reached me that Lord Aberdare was entertaining his mother-in-law in the Ladies' Room and would like me to join him there. Needless to say, the message was garbled, and needless to say the noble Lord's speech was not garbled.
I personally believe that this debate has come at a good moment. It is right as my noble friend has said, that we should periodically review the development of our Youth Service, and it is clearly appropriate and right that we should do so in the light of the Report of the Youth Service Development Council. On the Report I should like to say only this. As the noble Lord the Leader of the House may not have suspected, I have read it. I agree with much in it but like others I found it pretty heavy going, and I agree with some of the criticisms which have been voiced about it. Above all, perhaps, I agree with what was said by the noble Earl, Lord Arran, about the involvement of political youth groups in the Youth Service. It conjured up to my mind a really horrible vision of the noble Earl, Lord Arran, and the noble Lord, Lord Byers, one dark night digging up the pitch at 996 Lords; but I am glad that that vision has been dispelled.
My Lords, there is another and even more important reason why I think that this debate is particularly apropos, and that is the concern which we all feel, and which has been voiced in your Lordships' House this afternoon, about some of the development factors at work in our society to-day: the generation gap, which may be growing wider; the growing alienation of at least some of the younger people in our society as we conceive it, and the opting out of others. But of course there is the other side of the coin to put it in the balance. I do not know whether this is the best generation this country has ever had, as I think the noble Earl, Lord Arran, suggested. I have not known many of them, but I agree with him that the younger generation to-day is certainly better than the younger generation in my day. I do not know about the noble Earl's day.
It is better in one respect, and that is because of a keener sense of involvement in our society as a whole and in its problems. I think the response which one has seen from the organisations engaged in community work and the younger volunteers shows this; and that response presents us with a challenge which I think makes this debate particularly appropriate at this present time.
My Lords, I do not wish to cover all the ground which is covered in the Report. I was struck with what was said about counselling. I believe that this is one of the areas where real help and real advice can be given to young people who have left school, who are socially deprived and who should be, as the Report rightly says, one of our main priority concerns. The point was made, rather wisely I think, about making hobbies more attractive. There is also the whole field of adventure, of more demanding sports and adventure training, and this is again one area where a lot has been done. I still believe that we have been only scratching at the surface of what in fact is possible.
I wish to turn to what I think the debate has naturally centred upon: what is said in the Report and what we know 997 about the growing involvement of our younger people in community service in our society to-day. I conceive this as essentially a two-way traffic. There is the help which our society can give its younger members, and, equally important, there is the help which our younger people can give to society as a whole. We have heard a great deal this afternoon of what is being done here, and I would add my tribute to the individuals and organisations involved: the International Voluntary Service, Community Service Volunteers, Task Force, Young Volunteers' Force Foundation and so on. I have seen just a little of the work which some of the members of these organisations are doing and I have been deeplv impressed by it.
I should like at this stage of our discussion to put my simple beliefs, a number of very simple propositions, before your Lordships. I believe, and I believe profoundly, that community service by the young is not only of great benefit to the young people involved in it; it is also of great benefit to our society as a whole. I remember very well what the Seebohm Committee said about voluntary activity, and their words bear very directly on what we have been discussing this afternoon. These are the words:With the continuing growth of the personal social services it will be more and more necessary for local authorities to enlist the services of larger numbers of volunteers to complement the teams of professional workers, and the Social Service Department must become a focal point to which those who wish to give voluntary help can offer their services.In this field, therefore, volunteers and voluntary organisations have an enormous role to play, and we have already seen something of what the young volunteer and the younger and more youthful organisations have to offer. I believe it is to be something quite distinctive in its freshness, in its imagination, in its enthusiam and in its idealism.
My second proposition is equally simple. I believe, with my noble friend Lord Butler, that what we have seen so far of the involvement of our younger people in work of this nature has been a mere scratching of the surface of the possibilities. We have yet as a society done very little indeed to tap the tremendous reservoir of young voluntary effort and 998 idealism which is waiting there to be tapped. My third proposition is that we should be wise to remember, as my noble friend Lord Aberdare and my noble friend Lord Monckton have reminded us, that young people are just as varied in their outlooks and in their tastes as middle-aged men or elderly people. What appeals to one and attracts one may repel another. Therefore, when we are thinking of community service by young people I hope we shall be thinking of a wide spectrum of possibilities, not only of the sort of possibilities which have been opened up by the organisations concerned —visiting the elderly, helping them to organise and decorate their houses, helping the physically handicapped, visiting hospitals, visiting the mentally handicapped and mental hospitals; all of that is of course immensely valuable work, and there is much more that can be done there—but there are other fields we should be thinking of, too.
There is the field of help to the younger immigrant, the field pioneered by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, in his notable Report over two years ago and about the progress in which field he is rightly concerned. There is voluntary service abroad about which again we have heard this afternoon and where the possibilities, as the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, reminded us, may be limited, but I still believe there are further possibilities here which should be extracted from the situation. There are the possibilities of enlisting voluntary effort, and above all young voluntary effort, in all the tasks which our nation should put its back behind if we are really serious and sincere in what we say about conservation, about removing the physical stigmata of the 19th and 20th century industrial revolutions, about enhancing the beauties and the amenities of our countryside.
I am convinced that many young people, many more than at present, would gladly undertake hard, demanding physical tasks, like helping to bulldoze pockets of urban dereliction, helping to plant over old slag heaps, helping to clean and develop our old canals, helping to keep our National Parks as they should be, and so forth. This is the sort of work and opportunity which might have a tremendous appeal if rightly and imaginatively presented to many of our younger people.
999 These, therefore, are my simple propositions. First, 1 believe this work to be of great benefit to the community as well as to those engaged in it. Second, I believe it to be capable of very great expansion. Third, I believe it can take many forms, some of which we have not yet begun fully to explore, Jet alone to exploit. And fourth, I believe that as a society we are only beginning to clear our minds about some of the problems involved in this situation. It is those problems, the problem of approach, the philosophical problem, the problem of organisation, the practical problem, to which I should like to turn briefly in conclusion.
First, there is the approach. It would seem to me—I may be wrong—that almost all of us, indeed perhaps all of us, have rejected this afternoon the idea of compulsory voluntary service. That has always seemed to me a contradiction in terms, and, as I have understood it, a concept fraught with the great danger that if we were to mobilise the voluntary effort, or the compulsory effort, that is latent, the real tasks to be done might not be there for the young people concerned; and nothing is worse, as the noble Lord, Lord Byers, and others have said, than for the effort to be mobilised and the worthwhile tasks not to be there.
By the same token, my own disposition is at present against introducing community service as such into the school curriculum. On the other hand, I entirely agree that the last year of schooling now, and above all the last year when the school-leaving age is raised, does present great possibilities. I believe that in that last year we should seize the opportunity of giving a greater social content to the school curriculum and of doing all we can to open up opportunities within and from the schools for voluntary social service.
I am personally greatly attracted by the possibility to which my noble friends Lord Butler and Lord Amory referred and one which the National Union of Students has, I think, suggested to the Secretary of State, of making it attractive for young men and women to give a year of voluntary service between leaving school and going on to some field of higher education, be it university or elsewhere. I hope that the noble Lord, when he winds up in a moment, will be able 1000 to assure us that that idea will be pursued actively by the Government with the university and other authorities involved. In my own case, I went to university direct from Winchester and then came the War immediately afterwards. I have always rather regretted that I had not had a maturer experience—not perhaps five years of war, but two or three years of involvement elsewhere—before going to university. I know I should have gained much more from university if: that had been the case. Having said that, I remain convinced that our long-term aim as a nation should be to do all we can to provide opportunities for community service, really worthwhile opportunities at home and abroad, covering the widest possible spectrum of interests to all those young men and women who wish to accept those opportunities, with maximum local identification and with maximum self-determination for the young men and women involved in those jobs. I believe that that should be our objective.
As I see it, however, we are not yet ready to move on to that objective. We have a great deal of thinking and preparation to do at the centre, especially in the light of the Seebohm reforms. We have a great deal of thinking and preparation to do within our educational system, not least with the teachers. We have a great deal of thinking and preparation to do with the local authorities. There is a lot of spadework and conversion to be done there. We have a great deal of preparation and thinking to do, above all, perhaps, in relation to the voluntary organisations. Like the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, I believe there is a point beyond which Government should not seek to do everything for everybody.
I also profoundly agree with the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, who said that we should be seeking to stimulate a climate in which voluntary work can really flourish in this country. Everybody says that now. It has been said by Seebohm; it has been said by Miss Aves. This Report is studded with lip service to this. But I do not believe that any of us, be they Government or the political Parties, have addressed themselves seriously and systematically enough to the problems involved behind these; bland words; and I think it is time that more serious attention was paid by all concerned in that particular area. Above all, I feel that we need to be much clearer about 1001 the needs and the possibilities, and there-fore I personally wholeheartedly endorse the suggestion by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Norwich for a full and thorough investigation into the range and character of community work which will be really appropriate for young people. I hope that if such an inquiry is initiated by the Government it will deal with the practical problems, and with the ways in which they can be overcome and with the best way of offering all young people a real opportunity for service.
I have only two things to say, in conclusion. I believe the tasks ahead of us in the framework of this Report to be not only important but also urgent. I perhaps quizzed the noble Lord the Leader of the House rather unfairly in his opening speech about when the Government would be able to announce their conclusions. I understand perfectly that this Report should be further considered as a Green Paper. On the other hand, it is perhaps understandable that one should get this wrong when we have a Green Paper dressed up in a blue cover with extraordinary red hieroglyphics at the bottom of it. Perhaps the noble Lord will be able to explain what these red "footprints" mean—whether they are the footprints of some Left Wing sociologist.
The other point that I should like to touch upon is the size of the problem. My noble friend Lord Butler said at the conclusion of his notable speech that he was appalled at the size of the problem here. I think those are the only words which fell from the lips of my noble friend from which I would wish to dissociate myself. I would have agreed if I felt that we had tried to tackle this problem and had failed. But that is not the case. The fact is, my Lords, that we have not as yet seriously addressed ourselves to this challenge; and I believe that it is time we did so.
§ 8.54 p.m.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, let me first answer one question for the noble Earl. If he looks closely at the hieroglyphics—or, perhaps, takes off his glasses and looks at them from a distance—he will see that they spell "Youth". I may say that it took me some while to interpret that.
1002 This is the moment when, if the Episcopal Bench will forgive me for saying so, the faithful are gathered to-gether—those of us who have remained, and I see two noble Lords who have not taken part in this debate for whose presence we are particularly grateful. We have had a very long and most interesting debate, and one with which I think the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare can be extremely satisfied; and a debate which was, I think, more relevant to the problems than was our last one when we were analysing youth generally. I think we can be pleased at that.
I will say straight away that this debate will also be helpful to the Government—and any Government needs help in this sort of area—because of the wide range of views that we have had. I am bound to say that the debate has had one effect upon me: I am a little more reactionary on the subject than I was at the beginning. I am a little more inclined to believe in some of the wisdom that resides in existing voluntary services. I am glad that we have had both the noble Earl, Lord Elgin speaking on the Boys' Brigade, and the noble Lord, Lord Crawshaw, speaking on the Scouts. I am glad that they are still there, working as hard as they are and making the developments that they are doing. This is not to suggest that we should not look widely across the field and take stock.
I agree very much with what the noble Earl has said. There is the implication that he skated round these difficult problems. Let me say that I also find myself skating round them, because there are all sorts of viewpoints from which one can look at them. But I find that one of the rather more curious facets of our age is that the more successful we are in dealing with problems, the more depressed we become by the problems with which we are beginning to deal. In a way, I think that this Report is a challenge: it makes us think. But it does not alter the fact that a great deal of progress is going on already.
I will deal with some of the main issues. I am afraid that I shall not be able to answer all the many interesting points that have been raised. I have heard nearly every speech. I must apologise to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London and to the noble Lord, 1003 Lord Energlyn for not hearing all of their speeches. But I think I have heard something of most speakers. I have some notes of the speeches that I did not hear, and I will deal with some of the points raised in them.
Let me say first to the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, that I think he made one slightly unnecessary remark. There seems to be a compulsion nowadays to bring Wales into everything—and I say this with great nervousness, looking at my noble friends. But there must be some subjects which Wales shares with England. The fact is that there were two members of the Council representing Welsh interests; there was ample evidence submitted by bodies representing both England and Wales, and I should be greatly surprised if a couple of Welshmen, sitting on a Council of this kind, who felt that something specifically relating to Wales had to be said did not make certain that it was said.
§ LORD ABERDARE
My Lords, will the noble Lord excuse my interrupting him? It was rather a black mark on that Council not to mention the Secretary of State for Wales and his Department when calling on all Government Departments to co-operate. To leave out one particular Department seems to me really to be a matter of fault, even though there were two Welsh members of the Council.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, this is symbolic of the excessive sensitivity of our age. I am quite sure that if this Report had in fact passed through Government hands my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Wales would precisely have demanded a reference if it were necessary. I am only trying to say that no slight is intended and that we should, I feel, take the Report as it is.
The noble Lord, Lord Energlyn, mentioned the importance of the joint use of facilities; and this point has come up in other speeches. I should like to draw his attention (I am sure he knows it, but it is important to emphasise this) to the Department of Education circular, published on February 2 of this year, entitled Co-operation in the Provision of Facilities for Educational Establishments and the Community. In that circular the 1004 Department recommended to local education authorities the wider application of the principles of joint use, and asked them to exploit every opportunity for dual provision. Of course, as the noble Lord knows, there are a number of examples of joint planning and more provision already in existence. This in no way diminishes the importance of the point: he was making, however, and I am only indicating that we agree with what he had to say.
There were some interesting proposals on the training of youth workers, and this aspect was particularly mentioned by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London. Our object is to take a big step forward in the area, in a way sufficiently flexible to allow for future developments without another major upheaval. The noble Earl may say that this is a somewhat elliptic or cryptic statement, but I assure the House that this is a matter which not only is under active consideration, but is so much under active consideration that what 1 had originally intended to say is about to be reconsidered to see whether we can improve on it. So I hope that there may be an opportunity of making an announcement at a not too distant date.
I always admire the ability of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, to confine his speeches within a short compass when he has such a vast experience in so many areas.' When in doubt the cry surely echoes through Whitehall and Downing Street,"Send for Lord Hunt"or, sometimes, just"Send Lord Hunt ". On this occasion careful note has been taken of his Report on the youth services and young immigrants. The response to the request by the Department of Education and Science to those in the field for information on progress in this area was good, and while things always seem to move too slowly I should say to the noble Lord that they are nevertheless moving. The practical difficulties—and he knows these—cannot be swept aside overnight. Out of the nine experimental youth "work projects at present being financed by the Department of Education and Science, no less than three were concerned with immigrants. And I do not doubt that the noble Lord will continue to keep the heat on if he feels that we are not moving fast enough.
1005 There was another point dealt with by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, and also by the noble Lord, Lord Soper, who, incidentally, gave us one of his beautifully lucid speeches; I always think that perhaps I am wasting time here—no reflection on your Lordships' House—and that I ought to follow him around, whether it be to Sandringham or to Hyde Park Corner, because of the clarity of his speeches. He recently went into print in The Times, together with the noble Lord, Lord Hunt; and while we applaud the motives of the letter he wrote last November, I do not think it follows that the Government should accept the concrete suggestion which, if I understood it, was for a compulsory G.C.E. or other similar course in, as it were, social objectives. I should like to say why, because I hope I am interpreting this rightly. For one thing, it would seem a pity to tie pupils to an examination in an area where the real proof of the pudding would be their social adjustment and involvement in the community, rather than their ability to answer questions about it—particularly in the case of less able children. Also no G.C.E. or C.S.E. subjects are at present compulsory, and there is no readily available way, even if it were desirable, of making subjects compulsory. Indeed, a substantial proportion of pupils take no public examination of any kind, and if I may say so, it is not necessarily desirable that they should. As for the community service which the noble Lords would have liked built into this new "required" area of study, my right honourable friend, the Secretary of State—and indeed this is apparent—has already made known his support for voluntary service, but compulsory voluntary service would be a different thing and would be a contradictory, and probably self-defeating concept.
These remarks may be a little unfair—and I am now coming on to the noble Earl, Lord Arran. It is very difficult for us to get clarity in any debate on as wide a subject as this. Different trends come in, and people approach it from different angles. This Report on youth and community work is primarily related to youth in its relation to the community, rather than in relation to service to the community. None the less, these are proper subjects to talk about.
1006 May I just touch very quickly on one or two other points that have been made on the subject of voluntary service over-seas, adventure and the rest. I listened to a number of noble Lords, particularly the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, who was Chairman of Voluntary Service Overseas when I was a member. The noble Lords, Lord Hawke, Lord Aberdare, and Lord Soper, have all paid justified tribute to this organisation.
It is worth while at this stage making one absolutely fundamental point, which I am sure is well known to those who are active in some of the existing youth organisations—that one of the limitations on the work of V.S.O., as we move from a colonial age, is finding opportunities for service. This is a real "stopper", and it is one that calls for a great deal of hard work to find places where volunteers can be sent and can do effective work. What the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, said about Project filling a gap is true, therefore. It aims at a different kind of activity, and it is more directly orientated to the needs of the individual, and is not such a balance between service to the community in a country and the needs of the individual. I think this is an admirable example of a voluntary body coming in to meet a need, and those of us who have been concerned with this field are well aware of the difficulties.
I share the view of the noble Earl that there is a great deal to be said for young men taking a spell between school and university. I know a number who have done it and who have benefited; and, indeed, that is how V.S.O. works. But there are some who are not able to do it. The initiative for starting the work arose from joint consultations between the Government and the voluntary organisations, and the Government have co-operated here as in the case of Project. The noble Lord, Lord Hawke, pointed to the advantages of having an office. I think it is Major Bristol who is involved in this, and this is another example of Alec Dickson's burning energy in starting interesting activities. It is also an example of co-operation which I think is right.
The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, who unfortunately has had to leave us, like other noble Lords, mentioned the Federation of Gateway Clubs. I can only say 1007 that the application is being considered, along with a number of other applications, and that no doubt an answer will be given fairly soon. But Government have to make choices. Inevitably, resources are not as great as we should like. None the less, one purpose of a debate of this kind is to give a chance to noble Lords to press the Government; and, indeed, the people who are being pressed in the Departments concerned can sometimes make good use of the speeches that are made here.
I wish I could refer to all the other speeches, particularly those of the noble Baronesses, Lady Hylton-Foster, Lady Gaitskell, and Lady Elliot. I was impressed by the brisk, direct and effective argument which Lady Elliot put forward. I find myself in a great deal of sympathy with her concerning the Motion of the noble Earl, Lord Arran. Turning to the latter, there is a consensus of support for community service by young people, but noble Lords are looking at this matter in a number of different ways. The noble Lord, Lord Sandford, gave his clear view, which is certainly not the view of the noble Earl, Lord Arran.
The noble Earl, Lord Arran, has reassured us about compulsion. I think that, like most of us, he wants freedom of choice not only as to what kind of service to give, but also as to whether it should be given at all. This is a fundamental point. I was none the less uneasy about some aspects of his proposal. He seemed to base his case partly upon the assumption that the raising of the school-leaving age is something which is not altogether necessary or desirable in educational terms. I may be being unfair, but that is the impression I got.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
I may be being unfair, but on occasions the noble Earl gives these misleading impressions of what he means; and he has certainly misled me, and may mislead others.
There was also the suggestion that the country is not ready for the raising of the school-leaving age in terms of buildings and teachers. I will not say who made that suggestion, but it certainly came from one noble Lord. I can only 1008 say that that is quite untrue. The buildings and teachers will be there in 1972, and, as the noble Lord, Lord Butler, said, there is a clear need for the extra year to be used to the full advantage in the schools, which does not mean only desk work. The curriculum is developing in a number of exciting ways, of which community is just one.
The noble Lord, Lord Butler, also spoke of the desirability of a year's deferment of entry to higher education to give young people the opportunity of service. This is excellent, but again it must result from an entirely free choice by the individual. I do not believe it is for the Government to prescribe these arrangements, although we can suggest. I think it is far better that the House of Lords should give advice in these delicate areas, rather than that the Government should be continually issuing circulars. Universities and other institutions of higher education are autonomous and it would be for them to adapt their admission arrangements. I am delighted, incidentally, by the very fine initiative of the National Union of Students in sponsoring voluntary work by students. I know that as one example of this£
My Lords, the noble Lord has uttered sentiments of great interest to me, which I have long advocated in this House. Will he in future always carry out this practice, so that we shall never hear from any Government on either side that the position is not yet right for a debate? A debate should always be held before Governments have made up their minds. I have advocated that for twenty years, but I have not got much more forward.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, the noble Lord has obviously been asleep during the last two years, because the Government have not ceased to pour out an endless flow of Green Papers, on which they have sought the public's views. We need not pursue the point, but it is a matter of judgment and I stand firmly by what I have said in this matter.
As I was saying, the National Union of Students are already in touch with various public bodies, including the Home Office, about work with immigrant children. We all agree with the desirability of increasing involvement in the community. In the past, no one could 1009 have doubted the need for community service; it stared us all in the face. Things are better now for most people; but there should still be no doubt about the value of involvement in the community. We are all concerned about people being sealed off nowadays in a"plastic"life, with gadgets around them; but they have only to join the Boy Scouts or the Boys' Brigade, or one of the many clubs which exist in schools and which are concerned with adventure or nature, and they will be able to move out of it. The interesting point is that many of the opportunities which it has been suggested we should make available to young people are already available in large measure to large sections of youth, but they do not take advantage of them. We can give leadership and we can stimulate, but it just happens that people have different interests. I think it may have been the noble Earl who said that young people have as wide a range of interest as adults, and we need to recognise that fact.
My Lords, the statutory services must play the leading part in meeting general social needs, but there is still plenty of scope for voluntary effort. We should be cautious about not jeopardising the great progress which has been made. I could quote many examples to show the effect of Government initiative and of local authority initiative, but time is short. Again, this is an area where the much stronger local authorities, the development of the social services departments, and so on, will contribute; it is an area for complex and co-operative effort.
There is so much more I could say, but let me hasten to reassure your Lordships that I intend to follow the good example which the three opening speakers set and to conclude my remarks now. I think we have had a good debate. A good deal more information will be available—and noble Lords have asked for information. There is a survey which Her Majesty's Inspectorate have recently undertaken of community service in schools and colleges. The results of this, when they are published, will, I think, include examples of good practice which many will find helpful. So much of what noble Lords have asked for is in some degree already happening; but at this stage, despite the eloquence of the noble Earl, Lord Arran 1010 —and I must apologise; I heard only a little bit of his speech—I hope we shall allow things to develop, with Government being prodded, and with wide and increasing support from Government to those voluntary bodies which are already doing great service, and that we shall not be discouraged about the progress which is being made.
§ 9.17 p.m.
§ LORD ABERDARE
My Lords, I began by expressing my pleasure that so many of your Lordships were here for this debate. I cannot quite end on the same note, but I would express my deep appreciation for so many of your Lordships having taken part in it and, if I may say so with respect, for having given such a lot of constructive thought to it. I am glad to know that the noble Lord the Leader of the House thinks that it has been a useful debate. I hope it has. We may differ on detail, but if there is one common attitude which unites the noble Earl, Lord Arran, and myself, and all of us who have spoken to-day, I think it is that the time is ripe for action. Even if this should be rightly developed at local level, we can address ourselves only to the Government; and the message that I would send to the Government to-night, in the words of my noble kinsman Lord Elgin, is, "Go and do something". In that hope, I beg leave£
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I hope the noble Lord does not regard the role of the House of Lords as being con-fined solely to addressing itself to the Government.
§ LORD ABERDARE
My Lords, I certainly do not, but I think that is one way in which one gets things quickly done. I hope they will do something; and I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 9.20 p.m.
THE EARL OF ARRAN
My Lords, when I referred to my Motion in my speech during the debate on Lord Aberdare's Motion I said that I would not weary the House with further talk; and it is not my intention to do so now. I also said that if your Lordships' reception of my Motion was lukewarm, I would not press it any further. However, I confess that I find myself now in some- 1011 thing of a quandary. As the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Norwich pointed out, though this is in no way a political issue, the proposition in my Motion had the support of the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, two years ago—that is to say, of the Government£
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, may I interrupt? The noble Earl is of course entirely in order in doing what he is doing. But it is most unusual. What we should like to know is this: is he going to make a speech and not move his Motion? If so, he puts all the rest of the House at a disadvantage. Or is he going to explain briefly why he does not intend to move his Motion? As he knows, we have no control over him in this matter. But I am, I think, in saying this, being consistent with the spirit of how we do things in this House.
THE EARL OF ARRAN
My Lords, I have no intention of dividing the House. I should like to speak for two minutes, if your Lordships will spare me the time. I think that that is proper and in accordance with procedure£
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: By leave!
THE EARL OF ARRAN
My Lords, may I have your Lordships' leave to speak? I had reached a position where I said that my proposition had the support of the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, and of the Government two years ago; from Mr. Edward Heath, the Leader of the Opposition, two days ago; from my noble Leader, Lord Byers, in general 1012 terms, to-day, and from the T.U.C.—Mr. Vic Feather, personally—yesterday. It has also been more and more received by the Churches. Despite this strength of support—and strong it is—I do not think it would be fair to divide so small a House. Moreover, 1 am advised by my noble. Leader not to do so. Undisciplined as I intend to be, I must accept his advice. But may I very briefly say this to the House? Although in the two years since the debate initiated by the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, real progress (and I mean real progress) has been made, we are still, as two noble Lords have said, and as the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, described in a phrase equally happy and accurate, on the fringe. I think all of us should be heartily ashamed of ourselves that we have progressed so little in these two years. I am also going to make myself unpopular with the House by saying that I do not believe we have progressed a single inch to-day. I do not propose to move my Motion.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, I am bound to say that this has been the oddest procedure I have ever heard in this House. He was not out of order, but such procedure—I will just make this point—provides an opportunity for a noble Lord to make his speech without any other noble Lord having an opportunity to reply. I say no more on that.
§ House adjourned at twenty-four minutes past nine o'clock.