HC Deb 08 June 1962 vol 661 cc858-79

1.1 p.m.

Mr. A. E. Hunter (Felham)

I welcome the opportunity given to me today of debating two items of paramount importance to the Youth Service for England and Wales—the need for trained leaders and the need for buildings. All people interested in this service, so vital to our nation, will also welcome the debate.

Several attempts have been made to discuss in this House the Albemarle Report on the Youth Service, but we have always been unfortunate in that our Motions have been second on the Order Paper. Today this debate will give the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education, who, I know, takes a great sympathetic interest in the Youth Service, an opportunity to report on the progress made since the Albemarle Report was published.

Here I should like to quote the well-known statement by Sir John Maud, a former Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Education, of Youth Service aims: To offer individual young people in their leisure time opportunities of various kinds, complementary to those of home, formal education and work to discover and develop their personal resources of body, mind and spirit, and thus better equip themselves to live the life of mature, creative and responsible members of a free society. That sums up very well the aims of the Youth Service that we desire for this country.

Today youth is growing up into a changing world, and one must discuss the subject in the light of changing social and industrial conditions. Young people have more leisure, more knowledge of the world than their forefathers, more opportunities of expanding their lives not only for their own benefit but also for that of their country.

Can we provide the Youth Service with the necessary trained leaders and equipment needed to meet this challenge of youth, for in my opinion the age of 15 to 20 years is the most important of a boy's or girl's life? During that period the character is moulded and the personality is formed. Youth always wants to meet youth for friendship and fellowship in sports, games, recreation and culture. Can we in this country provide the opportunities for our young people? If we have the purpose and will to do it, I am sure we can, and I feel confident that many hon. Members will agree with that statement. The increase in the numbers of youth is taking place in the large cities and towns and the expanding urgan areas. That is where the problems are most urgent. I know that youth centres and trained leaders are needed urgently in areas in my constituency, in Feltham, Hanworth and Hounslow, and similar districts in England and Wales which have expanded rapidly in the last twenty-five years have the same problem.

I want now to raise the two main points of my subject. I strongly plead for purpose-built buildings, for in the new, expanding urban areas there is often a complete lack of suitable premises. My boyhood and youth were spent in central London. I have not seen better premises than some of the settlements built by private benefactors. One which I regularly attended and knew so well had everything—a fine gymnasium for physical recreation, a large hall with a stage for theatrical productions, many classrooms for the arts, crafts, music and cultural activities. There we had a splendid building, and it is not as though the young people who attended that settlement had much money to spend. That settlement is still active in central London. I remember that in those days—this was about 1914—a cup of cocoa was a halfpenny and a rock cake was also a halfpenny. Although we often had not the penny to buy the cocoa and the rock cake, we had very enjoyable evenings in that settlement, which was built by one of the private benefactors I believe at about the beginning of this century, and is a great social asset to the area.

I know that it may not be possible to provide such buildings today, but it is possible to provide and to construct proper and suitable premises. Often in the urban areas and cities the only premises for youth centres are huts and sheds, and surely that should be out of date in the 20th century. I plead for purpose-built buildings with proper halls and classrooms, where sports and games can be played, with classrooms for music, the arts and other cultural activities. I know that this will cost money. In my opinion, the spending of money today is often a matter of priorities. I sigh when I think of the extra £78 million for the beef subsidy last year, for no one seems to know exactly where it has gone, and I think of the number of youth centres which could have been built with that money. I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) will sigh with me.

A generous, imaginative building programme is recommended in the Albemarle Report, with special attention to the design of the buildings for youth, good lighting, modern furniture, decorations and other equipment which is essential. I trust that the Government will give the building programme for the Youth Service urgent priority.

I come to my next essential point, the need for trained leaders for the youth centres. We welcome the steps which the Government have taken in opening a training college at Leicester. Again, the problem is urgent, for I have been given to understand that in some areas the Youth Service has completely broken down through lack of leaders. This should be deeply deplored. The selection of the leaders is of paramount importance.

First-class leaders are required. They must have the personality for leadership amongst youth, so that they can win their support in assisting in the activities of the service. Full-time leaders are necessary in many districts. It is most difficult for persons, however keen, to have the heavy and arduous duties of managing a youth centre in addition to carrying out full-time work in industry or commerce in order to make a living. Like the clergyman and the teacher, the youth leader takes part in a dedicated service. One does not enter it mainly for a living. But the community, knowing the devotion which these people give, should see that they are paid proper and sufficient salaries.

Part-time leaders and voluntary workers should also be trained, as they can give great assistance to the Youth Service, for it is also essential to develop voluntary service at every level, just as in the Church and other great national movements where they are guided by the clergymen and other leaders to assist their activities.

The Youth Service of tomorrow will want not only much better facilities and richer opportunities but a much greater number of workers. This is youth's challenge. Let us meet it and assist and develop the challenge. With the increase in the number of youths leaving school, for every five leaving in 1959 there will be six leaving by 1964. In 1958 the estimated population of young people aged between 15 and 20 years was just under 3¼ million. The combined effect of the bulge now coming through the schools, the ending of National Service and the lowering of the Youth Service age to 14, which the Albemarle Report recommended, will add another 1½ million, making 4¾ million in all. Let us give the Youth Service the trained leaders and the buildings so that we can offer our young people opportunities for association, training and challenge. Group or club life can provide sport, ant, music and culture, which all assist in making a good citizen.

I urge and plead with the Government to give the Youth Service top priority in finance and assistance. It is so urgent and vital to the nation that it brooks no delay. I know that the Parliamentary Secretary is interested in thus matter and that he has sympathy for it, but it is the Government and the Treasury who control the money, and I therefore put these points to the Parliamentary Secretary: are the Government moving to build up our Youth Service, to expand it in the urban areas, and are they making progress? Is the Youth Service handicapped by lack of finance? How many full-time leaders have we at present in the Youth Service? How many are at present being trained at the college opened at Leicester? What is the expansion figure? How many youth centres have been built since the Albemarle Report and what is the Government's target? Since the Albemarle Report we have had the Wolfenden Report on sport, which must be linked with the Youth Service. What progress have the Government made in carrying out these recommendations?

I trust that this debate will assist our young people, the heirs to the great traditions of our nation, who are now growing up in a changing world. I mentioned earlier the splendid settlements built by private benefactors in some of our cities. Voluntary effort often has come before official action. The problem today is far too serious and far too large to depend only on voluntary action. We must have Government action now. There is an old saying which I think meets the case today—"He that wins the youth wins the future." Let us give the Youth Service all the assistance it requires so that our youth have the opportunity, in association and challenge, which will develop their characters and personalities to win that future.

1.15 p.m.

Sir Eric Errington (Aldershot)

We are all grateful to the hon. Member for Feltham (Mr. Hunter) for raising this matter. My interest in it started when I was a member of the Estimates Committee under the chairmanship of the now Baroness Burton, which produced the Seventh Estimates Report, 1956–57. It is probably fair to say that that Report sparked off the realisation for the need for a good look at the Youth Service. Since then we have had the Albemarle Report and the acceptance by the Government of the terms of that Report. It is most fortunate that we have this discussion, for we have not had a full-dress debate on the subject except immediately after the presentation of the Albemarle Report. It is desirable that we should have an opportunity in the House to discuss it at greater length than I propose to do this morning.

I congratulate the Government on the arrangements which at long last have been made by them in connection with the fulltime leaders. The courses at West Hill, Swansea and Leicester are very satisfactory, and the probability is that the target of 1,300 by 1960 for full-time leaders will be reached. I do not want to say much more about leaders, except that I am not happy about the position of part-time leaders, some of whom we try to get by half-time school teaching and half-time club leadership, as well as from university departments and the extra-mural side of education. I am not happy that enough is being done about part-time leaders.

In particular, however, I want to refer to the question of consultation, because that seems vital to me. The Albemarle Committee indicated in its Report, at page 50, that local authorities bear the chief responsibility for co-ordinating effort and that they alone can assure that the necessary close relations are established between those working in the various educational and social services that had to do with young people—teachers, youth leaders, probation officers, social workers and youth employment officers.

My opinion is that in spite of this and of the Administrative Memorandum No. 62, which was sent out by the Minister on 16th February, which sets out in two paragraphs the methods of consultation, these methods are not being adopted everywhere—and this is quite a serious matter. I hope that when he sends out another memorandum, the Minister will be much more specific. Though I do not want to make an attack in general on the local authorities, because some are extremely good, there are also some which do not come up to the standard which is required in this very important respect.

Let me give examples. One local authority did not ask the local boys' clubs organisation to submit schemes for the 1962–63 programme. In two cases local authorities prepared priority lists without any consultation. In a third class of cases consultation took place at divisional or area level but no final list was discussed with the local voluntary bodies. In the fourth set of cases no information was given about the final local authority proposals, and in the fifth set of cases no information was given about the list which was sent to the Minister.

In this connection, it goes right against paragraph 7 of the Administrative Memorandum to which I have referred, which reads as follows: In many areas proper arrangements for this purpose already exist, but where they do not authorities are asked to take the initiative in making them. The Minister hopes that agreement on the programme will be possible in most cases: where it is not, authorities are asked to submit an order of priority and to send it with a statement of the extent of any disagreement. It is obviously impossible to send an intelligible statement of any disagree- ment unless one has first seen the proposals. I suggest to my hon. Friend, and I ask him to suggest to his right hon. Friend, that a much more definite and determined effort should be made to put the responsibility for dealing with this on the youth committees of local authorities. The majority of local authorities have formed youth committees, but there are some which treat this as the Cinderella of the education services and have not even taken this important step.

I understand that the building ceiling for 1962–63 is £4 million. To my amazement I find that the building ceiling for 1963–64 is £3 million. This is a retrogressive step, and I hope that the Minister will reconsider the position. There is apparently to be a cut of £1 million. The Government are not taking full advantage of the voluntary help which has been promised and which in some cases would amount to about 70 per cent. of the total amount required. It is impossible to take up this help which is being offered voluntarily unless the Government are prepared to produce the other 30 per cent. The result may well be that voluntary help becomes frustrated and disappears, and nothing is done about it, and development suffers.

My other point about this reduction in the building ceiling is that as a result ordinary developments will suffer. There must be replacement of these old places to which the hon. Member for Feltham referred. I hope that this will be given first priority. We must also provide for buildings in the new housing areas, and in addition there are the ordinary developments in existing areas. If there is a reduction of £1 million in the 1963–64 programme, it will result in delay and frustration, and a generally unsatisfactory building up of delay.

In the 1963–64 programme for boys' clubs alone it is likely that 39 schemes at a total building cost of £548,000 will have to be omitted. These are not airy-fairy schemes but the money from voluntary sources is available. This is a serious matter, and I hope that the Government will consider it carefully.

My final point is that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when making an announcement about sport and recreations, said: I am also prepared to make available an additional £100,000 a year for capital expenditure by these voluntary bodies, in other words, an increase of £200,000 upon an existing figure of £470,000."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th May, 1962; Vol. 659, c. 226.] It is not clear from that statement whether this is capital expenditure in regard to the youth services, or which may be used in regard to the youth services, or whether it is simply and solely money for sport and recreation in accordance with the Wolfenden Report. The point I wish to make is that we have to plan these things ahead, and it is no good providing an extra £100,000 on one occasion, and something else on another. These figures of building ceilings ought to be wisely considered, programmed, and adhered to, and we ought not to get to the position in which nobody knows what this sum of £100,000 is for, even though, needless to say, we are glad to receive it.

I hope that these criticisms have been constructive. I believe that the Government, thank goodness, have been doing much that ought to have been done a long time ago, but it would be a great pity if this reduction of building ceiling were made and thus put back the carrying out of the work that we all want to see done.

1.26 p.m.

Mr. George Thomas (Cardiff, West)

Until I came to this House an enormous amount of my time was spent as a voluntary youth leader, and I am therefore deeply grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Feltham (Mr. Hunter) for raising this debate. The deep sincerity of my hon. Friend shines through everything he says, and I gladly pay tribute to him, and to the hon. Member for Aldershot (Sir E. Errington), who I believe let the cat out of the bag when he said that the Ministry was proposing to reduce the building ceiling by £1 million. I hope that the Minister will have something to say to set our fears at rest.

High-powered commercial interests are eager to exploit our youth today through mass media. It is harder to be a teen-ager in the 'sixties than at any previous time in our modern history. The pressures on youth today are ugly and severe and the youth movement is therefore a life-saver. I believe that it is better for us to spend our money on the proper service of youth than to wait until youngsters have got into trouble and then have to expand our probation service. I pay tribute to the dedicated people, both voluntary and paid, who give their energies to caring for youngsters and ensuring that they know how to live with the right values in a community.

I want briefly to address two or three questions to the Minister in relation to Wales. In the Albemarle Report, Wales did not come out very well in the picture that was painted of poor youth services. We are a people with great traditions, a great national culture, and a language of our own, which nearly 30 per cent. of our people use as their first language, and I believe that the youth movement must be used to encourage and develop the Welsh national culture.

How many of the Welsh colleges which run three-year training courses allow those attending these courses to include training for youth leadership in their courses? Is this work limited to Swansea? How many at Swansea are taking part in this one-year course? It was estimated that there would be twenty, but the need will be for many more. What is the target for full-time youth leaders in the Principality of Wales? I am sorry that I did not give the hon. Gentleman notice of this question, and if he cannot answer it now, I presume that he will let me have the details later. Also, what guidance does the Minister give to local authorities on grants, on premises, on equipment, and on training? Has he had any communication with the Welsh Joint Education Committee to co-ordinate youth work so that youth services in North, South and Mid-Wales are given equal opportunities?

Will the Parliamentary Secretary also let me know how many youth centres have been built in Wales since the Albemarle Report was published? Many youth clubs meet in pokey places quite unworthy of them and of us. Many local authority youth clubs have to meet in day-school buildings. Those are not the best places for teen-agers' youth clubs. Teen-agers do not want to go back to school when they have started work. They ought to have their own youth centres. Can the hon. Gentleman assure me that there is a plan for providing youth centres other than in school buildings, particularly in the Principality of Wales?

It was estimated that 1,300 full-time youth leaders would be wanted by 1966. I believe that that estimate was very low. It ought to have been far higher, but can the Parliamentary Secretary tell us whether that target will be reached, and will he give an undertaking that at the first opportunity we shall have a full day's debate on youth work in this country?

1.31 p.m.

Dr. Alan Glyn (Clapham)

A large number of Members want to speak, amid therefore I shall be as brief as possible. I would echo what has been said about this being one of the greatest problems that we face, with an all too early school-leaving age followed by a period of probably the greatest susceptibility in adolescent life. Any money spent on this service probably saves us considerable expenditure in other directions.

I should like to ask, first, to what extent, since the Albemarle Report, we have been able physically and in terms of finance to help the voluntary organisations? The great difficulty is to pay a youth leader a salary which will attract the right type of man. Secondly, I would ask my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary whether the Wolfenden Report on sport and the Albemarle Report should not be considered together as part of a service embracing both sport for youth and youth centres. These things cannot be dealt with separately. The Government should take both into consideration in a comprehensive plan for the education of youth.

I agree with the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Sir E. Errington) about the correlation of the services being of vital importance. The Government must ensure that the money they spend is not spent twice over and that services are not duplicated. They should see that every possible liaison takes place at county council level, possibly by youth committee, so that the money is properly spent and the services to provide both sport facilities and youth centres are co-ordinated.

I hope that the Government will also ensure that the teachers coming forward will have that extra bit of training in youth service so that they are able at a later stage to help in this important task. My own local authority is doing everything possible in an endeavour to coordinate these services, and I hope that we shall see that done throughout the country.

1.34 p.m.

Mr. Frederick Willey (Sunderland, North)

I join with other hon. Members in thanking my hon. Friend the Member for Feltham (Mr. Hunter) for seizing his opportunity at last to raise this subject in the House. I should like also to express my personal appreciation of the tone of the debate. When we are discussing youth there is a great temptation to make one or two exaggerated remarks which attract a good deal of publicity but do not help us in getting the essential work done—the essential work which was set out in the Albemarle Report.

I pay tribute also to the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary for their ready acceptance of the Report and of the earnest that they have given us of implementing it. We must remember, to quote the Report, that the Youth Service is in "a state of acute depression" and that the members of the Committee felt that they were conducting their inquiries with an unusual sense of urgency. This is why we must not be content with the progress made and we must spur the Parliamentary Secretary to further progress.

I should like to confine myself to two subjects which hon. Members have raised. I join in recognising what has been done about the training of youth leaders. I had a reply that there were 137 students at Leicester. This is an achievement. I anticipate that the Parliamentary Secretary will claim that he is keeping up to the Albemarle target, but I am afraid that this is not enough. I pay tribute to the work being done by voluntary associations and to the importance of full-time courses not only in Swansea and Westhill but also at the boys' clubs courses organised in Liverpool. This training is being successfully done and, because it is successful, we want more of it done. The Albemarle Report uses a phrase to the effect that youth service is an integral part of education. This being so, we must recognise the importance of well-qualified and well-trained youth leaders.

There is another point which was raised at Question Time the other day and has been raised previously. We are concerned here largely with mature students and there is a general feeling that the provision we have made for them hitherto has not been adequate. I hope that this will be borne in mind when there is a revision of grants for mature students. People who qualify are largely mature students and we do not want them to suffer hardship when they seek a career of this kind.

Although I know that it is a subject which is difficult to raise at present, I believe that the salaries of full-time youth leaders are due for revision this year. This is again of importance when we are considering the expansion of youth services. I also join with those hon. Members who have stressed the importance of providing adequate training for part-time youth leaders. I am told that there are precedents in other fields which could well be developed, and we might encourage diploma and extramural courses at some of the universities.

The important point that I want to emphasise, as other hon. Members have emphasised it, is that we can no longer be content with attaining the Albemarle Report target. I pay tribute to the Minister that we have taken the difficult step of establishing courses. Now we must take advantage of experience and expand those courses.

The Albemarle Report stresses the importance of a generous and imaginative building programme. Therefore, in parentheses, I pay tribute to the Ministry for the experimental work that is being done at Bristol. It is of enormous importance. Quite frequently, in discussing youth centres with those who take part in this service, I have found how difficult it often is to provide suitable youth centres on housing estates. We can provide a building which looks very good as a building but is not right for young people who have come to live on the estate from the centre of a town where they had premises which were not so grand but were better suited to a youth club. We know the good work that the Ministry has done in other fields by way of building research. I hope that it will set an equally good building standard for youth centres.

We are worried about the amount of the resources which are being devoted to building. The Parliamentary Secretary knows that this is a matter to which I have given continuous attention. It appears that, although the Minister undertook to provide for starts amounting to £3 million by the end of the financial year 1961–62, that has not happened. Although some substantial progress has been made we are even running well behind that target. We know in the case of buildings, just as we now know in the case of full-time leaders, that the demand is even greater than the Albemarle Report supposed. We know that when the Minister called for proposals he got proposals amounting to £14 million, and, as the Department itself has said, the rate of demand shows no sign of slackening. We must not be content with present progress. We are entitled to complain that even present progress is running behind what was envisaged, but apart from that, we have got to make a more imaginative and generous provision for buildings for youth centres.

Here I touch upon the point raised by the hon. Member for Aldershot (Sir E. Errington). I do not complain of the new approach. Representations, however, were made to me by voluntary organisations which are apprehensive of the new arrangements. The advice I gave was that if difficulties arose I would then intervene. I can only say that I have not received any further representations. In these cases, at any rate, the local authorities and voluntary organisations have worked well together, and this is what we want. It is far better that the local education authorities and the voluntary organisations should work together and should decide priorities, regretting if at should ever be necessary to refer to any disagreements. In view of what the hon. Member for Aldershot said, I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will repeatedly offer his good offices so that if there are any difficulties he will be available to help to resolve them.

We want equal enthusiasm from the local education authorities and from the voluntary organisations. I think all speakers have emphasised that we are concerned here with inculcating a sense of urgency. We know the difficulties. The Parliamentary Secretary is aware of the criticisms to which he has been subjected as a servant of Government policy. But, in spite of these difficulties, we want a sense of urgency and a recognition that the two factors to which my hon. Friend has called attention are the key factors if we are to do anything for the young people of this country. We have to recognise, too, that here are the children of the bulge, who have suffered disadvantages throughout their childhood and in education, and who are now suffering a further disadvantage.

I hope the debate will help the Parliamentary Secretary to feel, as the Albemarle Committee felt, that we are working against time. This is important. As has already been said, the Youth Service is something which affects the shape and character of our country, although I would add that it does not do everything. It is a support for the family and not a replacement of the family. All the same, it is important. It is a greatly rewarding job. With encourgement, it can help us towards a far better Britain.

There has been reference to mass media. I hope that interest in this service will be aroused through the Press and television. I do not decry the valuable support that we get, but I hope that we shall get more. By chance I have before me a statement by the Romford Youth Council which vividly illustrates what young people can be encouraged to do. This is an exercise of and not an experiment in democracy. I hope that we shall get an annual report from the Youth Service Development Council. I do not think that the references in the Minister's Annual Report are adequate. I recognise that bulletins are issued and they are very helpful, but an annual report devoted entirely to Youth Service would be even more helpful.

At any rate, I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will consider how he can encourage support for those engaged in Youth Service work. Some time ago some of the youth leaders in my constituency came to tell me of the difficulties against which they were working. We allow our young people today to be vulnerable to many temptations and pressures which young people have not experienced before. Probably the best way of tackling this problem is to regard the Youth Service as an integral part of education, as the Albemarle Committee did, and, in fact, quite contrary to what we have anticipated, the more we become educated the greater are the demands.

1.45 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education (Mr. Kenneth Thompson)

I join with those hon. Members on both sides of the House who have paid respectful tribute to the hon. Member for Feltham (Mr. Hunter) for giving us an opportunity, after many attempts, to discuss, however briefly, the Youth Service and the situation that prevails today, some time after the publication and adoption of the recommendations in the Albemarle Report. I know how great has been the hon. Member's interest and how disappointed he has been on other occasions when he has not been able to raise the matter.

The publication of the Albemarle Report gave us not only a charter for the steps we ought to take in developing the Youth Service but it also gave us the kind of stimulus we needed and to which the hon. Gentleman referred and which he says we still need. That is perfectly true. I am very glad that hon. Members are able to commend some of the work that we have been able to do since the Report appeared, and I hope to catch up many of the points which have been raised and to explain how far we have managed to achieve some of these objectives.

The Civil Estimates for this year provide for direct Exchequer expenditure of £878,000 on the Youth Service. This money will go in grants to national voluntary youth organisations, local youth service voluntary capital projects and the training of full-time youth leaders. It compares with less than £¼ million in the year immediately preceding Albemarle.

Mr. G. Thomas

It is still pitiably low.

Mr. Thompson

If the hon. Gentleman will contain his indignation, I will show how it adds up and comes to a less pitiable sum.

To this Exchequer figure must be added the very considerable increase in expenditure by the local education authorities themselves and by the many voluntary bodies.

We have made a very good start, as hon. Members have said, towards achieving the target figure for qualified full-time youth leaders which the Albemarle Committee recommended and which we adopted. This was to increase the number from 700 in 1957–58 to 1,300 by 1965.

The National College for the Training of Youth Leaders at Leicester got off to a very good start, and 86 students successfully completed the first course last January and are now in full-time posts in various parts of the country. In addition, there are at present some 200 students in training at the National College and the four other institutions, all of which have been referred to, at present providing full-time courses. All these institutions, incidentally, the House will be pleased to hear, report an improvement in the quality and the number of candidates coming forward. These figures are in addition to those in teacher-training colleges who will be embracing this kind of course in addition to their training as teachers.

One of the main reasons for the great improvement must be the step taken last August to place full-time youth leaders on a national salary scale and to provide them with conditions, of service which will be attractive to them and will recognise them as highly qualified professional people.

I will not embark on a discussion of maintenance grants whether for mature students or otherwise, or on salary scales, for since machinery now exists for the negotiation of salary scales, salary is not likely to be a bone of contention or a difficult handicap in the attraction of students to the courses in the future.

My right hon. Friend is at present taking steps to compile a register of qualified full-time leaders, which I am sure will be useful and encouraging. He is also—and here I take up the point mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Sir E. Errington)—discussing with those concerned the question of training courses for the small number of leaders who are already in posts and may have held them for many years but to whom we cannot offer qualified status under existing arrangements.

Of course, the Youth Service relies, quite properly, very heavily upon part-time workers, many thousands of them in all parts of the country. We ought to pay the most generous tribute to the work that is done by these thousands of people whose names never publicly appear except at the foot of an annual report, or perhaps they speak at a very small meeting; their service to the community is beyond all measure, and I think the House would like to go on record as expressing their appreciation of what is done in this way.

Last July, my right hon. Friend set up the Bessey Working Party to go into the question of the training which should be available to part-time youth leaders. I know that there is a good deal of training through the various voluntary courses already under way in different parts of the country, but we thought it right to get a complete picture, and the report of this working party should be available this autumn. My right hon. Friend will then be able to discuss with the other partners what action should be taken. I hope that the House will feel that although we are constantly raising our targets—there is nothing wrong in doing so—as to the task that we have set ourselves, we are making good progress in the matter of providing youth leaders for the service.

Sir E. Errington

I hope that this question of part-time leaders, which is a most serious matter, will not be held up for any report. Cannot something be done at once?

Mr. Thompson

There is no question of holding anything up. The services of the part-time leaders are going on as they have done for a great many years. We are simply waiting to find out what would be the best way of providing the part-time youth leaders with suitable training. I am sure that we should get the details right before we go in for some proposals which may in fact be not adequate for the purpose. There will be no delay that we can possibly avoid.

I come to the question of buildings. The Albemarle Committee reported a great need for more buildings and equipment for the Youth Service. The first response to the announced building programmes of £7 million for the years 1960–63 was very slow. Not unnaturally, the authorities and organisations required time to prepare their proposals and bring them forward. Then the tempo quickly increased and towards the end of last year the value of the projects submitted for inclusion in the programmes was greatly in excess of the allocations that we could make. We were at that time being asked to allocate about twice the money that we had. That is very familiar ground for my Department.

I must admit that the resources that we are able to make available at present for this service in the way of new buildings are not enough. The value of the proposals submitted for the 1963–64 programme is more than three times the amount available. Some areas are having a more difficult time than others. On the other hand, when we consider the total of demands throughout the national economy and all the claims that are being made on the resources available for the education and social services, I do not think that the Youth Service is at present doing too badly.

I now refer to the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot as to how the programmes are initiated in the local authority areas and sent in to my Department. My right hon. Friend decided, after consulting the local authorities and the voluntary bodies, to introduce a system of allocations which will rest upon locally agreed orders of priority covering both local education authority and voluntary projects. This new procedure requires the local people in both fields to come together to discuss their various proposals and agree between themselves upon an order of relative urgency and importance so that the balance can be right and proposals which do not get into a programme for one year should find a suitable place in a subsequent year. I have no knowledge of disagreement or difficulty arising on this point.

Sir E. Errington

The point is that these programmes have to be formulated by the local authorities under the Minister's Circular and the Albemarle Committee's Report. The local authorities are not providing the consultation that is envisaged in these two documents.

Mr. Thompson

That may be so. I should be very surprised if in fact voluntary organisations were being crowded out or neglected in this way without making their views known to my right hon. Friend. We have little evidence—I shall not say that we have none—that there is any difficulty. Only four instances of difficulty have been reported to us in the whole of this exercise so far. If my hon. Friend has evidence that the system is breaking down or working unsatisfactorily to the detriment of some organisations or authorities, I shall be very glad to hear about it, and I shall certainly do the best that I can to try to get to the bottom of it and find a solution. Our evidence so far is that it works reasonably well. I shall refer in a moment to the importance of co-operation between the various partners, but surely it is here on this level that co-operation and good will are most important.

In all our considerations of the practical and logistical programmes facing the Youth Service, the underlying essential is the partnership between the local education authorities and voluntary bodies. The Minister of Education is only one partner in what is now a very big business. We can facilitate developments; only the other partners can see that they actually take place. We want to see this partnership continue and develop with the aim of providing, without waste or duplication of effort, the many and infinitely varied facilities that are needed.

Throughout the last two years we have had the benefit of the valuable advice of the Youth Service Development Council. My right hon. Friend has taken the chair at most of its meetings and its work has been in everyone's view of inestimable value in planning the steps that we have made so far. The House, I am sure, will share the view expressed about the news-sheet which we publish regularly. I believe it to be a very considerable achievement and that it has been well received throughout the country. Its circulation is now about 23,000, which, I am sure the House will agree, is a good deal, and it serves a very useful purpose in many ways.

I shall refer to the point raised by the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) concerning the interests of Wales.

Sir E. Errington

Would my hon. Friend deal with the question of the allocation of £1 million less for 1963–64 as against 1962–63?

Mr. Thompson

As my hon. Friend knows, we have to decide what resources are available among all the various claims upon the national resources, so far as we can. The Government decided that in this year, when some concessions on all fronts were necessary in order to achieve a stable economy and to limit the rate of growth in Government expenditure, the Youth Service programme should be £3 million. Very strong views are sometimes expressed, not least from hon. Members on this side of the House, about Government expenditure. We have to take all these views into account in trying to get our various programmes night Nevertheless, the building programmes are going on at a considerable pace at present. Young people will also benefit from the extra resources for sport which the Government recently made available. From the Department's share of the extra £1 million, my right hon. Friend has already added to the current building programme some important proposals.

Dr. Alan Glyn

Would my hon. Friend say whether the recommendations of the Albemarle Committee are being considered together and the benefits for youth looked at as a comprehensive whole?

Mr. Thompson

It is not quite as easy as that. If there were some powerful central authority which ran all these organisations—youth services, coffee bars, sports centres and swimming pools—which decided by fiat what is to happen in each one of these spheres, it might be easy; but there is not. We are dealing with hundreds of local authorities, thousands of organisations of all kinds, scores of different kinds of interests, and they have all to be fitted in by agreement. It is to that agreement that we are working.

I was about to give the House some details of some of the projects which we have been able to add to the current building programme. Some of them are very important Youth Service centres. They include one in London, at Abbey Wood, at a cost of £80,000, one in Newcastle-upon-Tyne costing £50,000, and one in Stoke-on-Trent at £50,000. Another indoor sports centre is being provided in Bradford, and a large sports hall for general youth use is being attached to a secondary school in Swin-don. Extensive changing accommodation is being provided at playing fields in Rochdale which are used by schools, youth organisations and sports clubs. Other additions to the sports programme include a swimming pool in Northamptonshire and a running track in Wakefield.

In Wales an indoor recreation centre is being provided at Wrexham in Denbighshire and a covered sports area at Romilly Secondary School, Barry, Glamorgan. On the general question of how Wales is being treated, I think the House, and particularly the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas), will be interested to know that the number of young people in the relevant age group in Wales was about 5.4 per cent. of the whole, and out of the £7 million building programme for the first two years Wales has about 9 per cent. So I think that, giving and taking a little one way and the other, Wales is getting a reasonably fair share of the proposals, but of course, we shall always try to see that the resources go where they are most needed.

Some of these projects are being undertaken by voluntary bodies which will receive financial help from the Department out of the extra £100,000 which has been made available for cash grants, to which my hon. Friend referred. Another part of this money will be used to enable the Central Council of Physical Recreation to purchase its national recreation centre at Bisham Abbey and to add a residential block to the sports centre at Lilleshall. From the Department's share of a further £100,000 which is available for grants to national voluntary sports organisations for administration and coaching schemes my right hon. Friend is helping the Central Council of Physical Recreation to complete the staffing of its regional offices. These regional headquarters do a great deal to stimulate local coaching schemes and courses of basic instruction in sports of all kinds.

National associations concerned with a single sport—10 of them—already receive grants, including the Amateur Swimming Association, the Amateur Fencing Association and the Amateur Athletics Association. Out of the extra money we now have, my right hon. Friend has just offered grants for the first time to some other national sports associations; we are considering a number of other applications. We shall endeavour to spend this money in such a way as to benefit the greatest possible number of those who actively take part in sport.

I return to the Albemarle Report. This was an operational document, making specific recommendations to the Minister, local authorities and all the voluntary organisations. We are within sight of completing the administrative and financial changes recommended for the first five-year period of redevelopment.

The Report envisaged a new philosophy for the Youth Service. The Committee suggested that the broad aims should be association, training and challenge. It urged that young people themselves should be brought in as full partners in the Youth Service and encouraged to assume full responsibility for their own activities and programmes. Our task, therefore, is to see how far we can realise these principles. An over-organised, over-paternal service, "in which all basic decisions have been made", is not likely to attract substantially greater numbers, however large the resources and however efficient the administration behind it. We are dealing, after all, with young people who have more independence and initiative than any other adolescent generation in our history. To meet this situation we must broaden the scope of the service and invigorate its work in accordance with the principles I have just mentioned. This is, I am sure, the avenue to success in the next few years, and it is this for which we shall continue to strive.

Mr. G. Thomas

Will the hon. Gentleman undertake to send me answers to the detailed questions I asked about the position in Wales?

Mr. Thompson