§ 2.40 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF ARRAN rose to call attention to the problems and increased opportunities of leisure available during the next decade; and to move for Papers. The noble Earl said: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name. I thought we might this afternoon have a short walk into the future, a future not so many miles ahead of us. It looks as though, for the first time in the history of man, we are approaching an age of mass leisure. Nothing can stop it. Automatic processes proliferate; every day brings a new labour-saving invention; we have atomic power. If not in our time, then most certainly in our children's time we shall have a four-day week, and perhaps even a three-day week. In the United States of America, the average working week decreased from 70 hours in 1850 to 40 hours in 1950. In New Zealand, they work only 38 hours; and so, of course, it will go on, here, as elsewhere, and at an ever-increasing rate.
This sounds a most delightful thing; and if, as we believe, the soul of man is the most important part of him, we must welcome this opportunity for him to develop his intellectual and spiritual powers. But will it work out like that? Material well-being does not necessarily lead to happiness—exactly the contrary, in fact. In Sweden and Switzerland, where they have few national worries and the highest living standards in Europe, what happens? They shoot themselves, my Lords; they shoot themselves in great numbers. Their suicide rates are the highest in the world, except for Japan, where it is a national tradition. And they openly admit to their frustration. The Swedish Prime Minister recently accused his fellow countrymen of finding life meaningless and Sweden of being an unhappy country. The leading Swiss weekly recently wrote:
What on earth is wrong with us Swiss? Our faces are morose, cheerless and surly.
§ No, my Lords, the picture is not so attractive as it might at first seem. Indeed, I personally find the prospect of mass leisure positively frightening, for the truth is that it is difficult for man to be happy unless he is fully occupied. Those of your Lordships who from time to time may have found yourselves with not enough to do will know just how soul-destroying that can be. The enemy, of course, is boredom. There has admittedly been a leisured class for many hundreds of years, but in the past it comprised only a minute section of the population, and with that leisure there usually went great responsibilities. Moreover, they were highly educated people. Even so they suffered from boredom. One has only to read the novels of Jane Austen to realise that.
§ Now we are faced with the prospect of tens of millions of leisured persons with few responsibilities and with incomplete education. What are they going to do with their spare time? I do not underestimate the British character when it comes to improvisation and the ability to "do it oneself", but judging by present social habits one envisages a great sea of blank, gaping faces stretching out before innumerable television screens from midday to midnight, with short pauses for the absorption of tinned foods recommended on the advertising programmes. This may sound fantastic, and perhaps it is; but you will remember that that far-seeing writer, Mr. Aldous Huxley, forecast something just like this thirty years ago in his book Brave New World. The solution in his ghastly Utopia was a pill called soma which made one happy. It took one outside time, and it left no hangover. Fortunately, soma has yet to be discovered; but meanwhile we are well on the way to it with these things called tranquillisers.
§ Let me pursue my forebodings. What else can we expect with our new heaven on earth? "Satan finds some mischief still" may be a cliché, but it is very true. If I may again take the case of Sweden and Denmark, the pattern there is of alcoholism and promiscuity. The divorce rates in Denmark and Sweden are the highest in Europe: in Sweden they are twice as high and in Denmark three times as high as in this country—and ours are nothing to boast about. 657 The illegitimacy figures are 10 per cent. in Sweden and 7 per cent. in Denmark as against 4.8 per cent. in this country. It is not for me to take a moral line, but sociologically at least these things are bad.
§ I hope your Lordships will not think this is too sombre a canvas. At least you will admit, I think, that the dangers are there. How can they be met, or, to put it more positively, how can people be helped to make good use of this new found opportunity? Let me say first what I think are the wrong ways. I cannot believe that leisure is a matter for Governments or for legislation of any kind. A Ministry of Culture or of Sport is an abhorrent thought; it smacks of totalitarianism. Ours is an individualistic race, and leisure is or should be an individualistic thing. Therefore I would deprecate the regimentation of leisure in any form. I must admit to an instinctive dislike even of such excellent things as holiday camps. I know that they are happy places and that they provide easy rest for tired people who want everything done for them, but I do not like the idea of people being exhorted by loudspeaker and invited to answer the question "Are we having fun?" with a great cry of "Yes." Again I do not think that subsidies are a complete answer, though of course money is involved in this as in everything else. The Election manifestos of all the Parties recommended Government grants for the promotion of culture. That is fine, but first of all you have to get people interested in culture, and they cannot be bribed by money into that; they have to find it for themselves.
§ It is easy to be negative and say what things one thinks should not happen. It is difficult when it comes to putting forward constructive ideas, particularly in a field so new and so unexplored. All I propose to do to-day is to point to the places where I think an answer can and should be found. It is natural that one should think first of all of education. Put quite simply, the problem is to make people inquisitive and to make them think for themselves. If the seed is sown early, it will eventually germinate, even though it may lie dormant for many years. I do not propose to elaborate this theme. It is too obvious, and it will be discussed fully and no doubt expertly when the Report of the Committee on 658 Youth Services comes before your Lordships' House. I would only throw out the thought to-day that in our passionate and justified absorption with youth we tend to overlook the claims of the present generation and still more the claims of those whose work is done but who remain sentient and, all too often, suffering human beings. "To-morrow belongs to the young" is an easy catch-phrase; but what about to-day and what about yesterday? Everyone will have the new leisure, the old most of all, and meanwhile I believe we are paying far too little attention to the problem of geriatrics.
§ Next I think of the churches. To them, above all, we look for a lead. No doubt they are giving serious and dedicated thought to this matter, and I am particularly glad to see that the right reverend Prelate will speak to us this afternoon. I believe that the age of leisure offers the greatest challenge to the Christian churches for a hundred years. If they accept the challenge, if they can persuade people to devote a small part of this God-sent bounty to the service of God, they will have justified themselves. If they fail, then I would go so far as to say that the survival of our faith may be in jeopardy.
§ Last of all, I think of those who might give us advice and inspiration—I think of the trade unions. I conceive that the purpose of that massive organisation, the T.U.C., is to care for the welfare of its members in every form. This it does most faithfully on the practical side. But one may be allowed to wonder whether, in the struggle for more pay and better working conditions, it does not sometimes tend to overlook the longer-term and even more essential parts of its task, whether it does not sometimes mistake the trees for the wood. I have not been able to find any evidence so far that it is occupying itself with the problem of keeping the workers contented after it has secured for them the material benefits which it seeks. With respect, II think that it should.
§ Here, then, are the three great bodies—the churches, the educational authorities and the trade unions. For all of them, I believe, there is a special responsibility. At the working level there are the cultural organisations, the voluntary organisations and the sporting organisations. I wonder 659 whether it might not be a good idea to appoint a non-governmental committee—a mixed bag of a committee, with the broadest terms of reference, to take a look at this subject. The Albemarle Committee has done splendid work, but in a limited sphere. The part has been considered: should we not now also consider the whole?
§ My Lords, I would end as I began. I am frightened by this new social marvel. It should be a blessing; it may be a curse. I do not know the answer. I do not believe that anyone does. We should be wise to plan and prepare for it now, lest it come upon us unawares and the last state of man prove worse than the first. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 2.53 p.m.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, I know that the whole House will be delighted with the most charming speech which the noble Earl who moved this Motion has just made, and with the fact that he has raised this important question. The interest which has arisen in this House is obvious from the long list of distinguished speakers to whom we are going to listen this afternoon after I have finished, and I know that this debate will have been well worth while.
I should like to join issue with the noble Earl straight away in the main function of his speech, which is, I imagine, to frighten us, as he is himself frightened, at the results of the increasing amount of leisure which we are going to enjoy in the next ten years. I should like to challenge that statement. I see no special reason to believe that the amount of work that will be done by most people in the next ten years will be materially different from the last ten years. It may surprise noble Lords to find that in fact the average number of hours worked over the past ten years has increased. We are, on the whole, working longer and harder to-day than we did in 1947 or in 1937. I could quote figures from the Ministry of Labour reports, but I will not bother the House. I hope noble Lords will take it from me that that is so: that these returns indicate, that the hours worked over the past twenty years have not decreased but have, though only fractionally, increased. It is true that the nominal hours per week 660 have gone down—in most industries the working week has gone down from 48 to 44 or 45. But if you take two facts into account—first of all, that additional work is done and paid for by way of overtime, and that to-day far more women are engaged in occupations than they were before—I think you will find that the average is rather higher.
What is there in the economic and industrial conditions to make us believe that there is going to be any revolutionary change such as the noble Earl fears, over the next ten years? I should not like to prophesy that there will not be a reduction of an hour or two per week, but when the noble Earl talks of a three-day or a four-day week in the next ten years, I should certainly be prepared to join issue with him and say that I do not believe that that is going to happen. I take it that the reason why he fears this is the growth of automation, because it is only automation which can produce these results, if anything can do so. But automation is not of universal application; it applies only to repetitive work, to certain manufacturing industries, to machine accounting; and, to my mind, at the moment, there is only a very limited field in which it can be applied.
Whether, in actual practice, automation is introduced is in most cases a question of cost and balancing. In my own office I could introduce a great deal of automation, but I should have to make a lot of money before I did so, and it would be many, many years before, in the end, one would get a reasonable return on one's money. I imagine that that will deter a great many people. In fact, I would suggest that only in large industries is automation practicable, and although it is already taking place to a considerable extent, it has not produced the dangers the noble Earl fears. But so far as I can see, automation will never be applicable to high-class or quality work, to individual processes, to agriculture and horticulture (although there is room for a good deal of streamlining in both of these industries), to transport, to building, to catering and to a great many other industries and occupations that I might mention. So I hope that the noble Earl will leave this House tonight in a somewhat more comfortable mood than when he first introduced this 661 matter, and will not fear that this frightful thing is going to come upon us, at any rate as soon as he contemplates—and certainly not in the next ten years.
If and when we do get a substantial reduction, however, not only in hours but in days, then I agree with him that there are a great many dangers to which we have to look. For instance, is he assuming that there will be a reduction in hours and that it will be necessary to work only two or three days a week in those industries in which there will be mechanisation and automation, but that in others, where those conditions will not apply, just as many hours will have to be worked as now? If that is so, it is bound to arouse a great deal of discontent. How are we going to reconcile those who are engaged in one form of industry, which, according to the theory of the noble Earl, will require them to work only two or three days a week, with other people who have to work the whole week round—such as in industry—very much as they do to-day?
§ LORD SILKIN
Like Ministers. There will arise problems of pay. Are people who are going to work only half the week to be paid as well as those who work the whole week? Of course, they must be, in practice, because generally speaking they will expect the same standard of living as those who occupy themselves the whole week; and that is going to create a great many difficulties and dangers.
The other point is that, generally speaking (and one can speak only in generalities), I would say that those who are likely to be engaged in work involving automation will be less well equipped, by reason of education and conditions of life, to make profitable use of leisure than those who have had a more formal education. And these are the people who are going to suffer from the boredom which the noble Earl fears. On the whole, I suppose we may say (again as a very broad generalisation) that those with the least leisure are best equipped, mentally and culturally, to appreciate and enjoy it; and those who have the leisure are, broadly speaking, those who have not yet learned how to make the best use of it. There is one other danger about leisure under present conditions, to which the noble Earl did 662 not refer; that is, that most people to-day, and particularly those of whom we are thinking, have a good deal of loose cash in their pockets. If they do what the noble Earl visualises as the worst, and spend their evenings sitting by the television, things would not be so bad. But they could be much worse. They could use their spare cash for much more injurious things than merely sitting by even an expensive television set.
What can we do to prepare people for the increased leisure which I suppose will come one day, though nothing like so soon as the noble Earl fears? In my view it is all a matter of education. I agree that the Churches have a part to play. I agree that the trade unions could play a part, and even the Press and a good many other organisations of opinion—indeed, I would say that the Press have a very great part to play. With all respect to the Press, I do not think they are being particularly helpful at the present time, because the interests they are arousing in people are not those best calculated to enable them to enjoy leisure. They are arousing a spurious form of interest and enjoyment which, on the whole, is not beneficial. But all these things—eaucation, the Churches, trade unions and the Press—have a very big part to play.
I want particularly to say a few words about education. I do not believe that the right moment at which to start educating people for leisure is when they are on the point of enjoying it. I believe that that teaching should start in the schools, and should start early; and I agree most cordially with the noble Earl when he says that the right method is to stimulate people, to arouse their interest and to do it in a great variety of different ways. I know that already a good deal is being done. Those of us who come to your Lordships' House frequently see constant streams of children visiting the House, being shown Westminster Hall and other places of historic interest, and having these things explained to them, so that they may understand them. At any rate, they are coming here; that is something, and one would like to see far more of it.
In my view the right age at which to start this education for leisure is when the child first enters school. I believe 663 that children, apart from having knowledge pumped into them, should have their interest aroused in matters in various ways; and that can be done because children up to a certain age, like dogs and other animals, are inquisitive creatures. I keep pigs, and they are frightfully inquisitive. They will run away from one but they come back because their curiosity gets the better of them. Children are the same in that respect; and so are dogs. I believe that if we start with the very young, and arouse their curiosity and interest in a great variety of things, it will be found that there is something in Which they are especially interested. Whether it be the use of their hands or some particular subject is a matter for the teacher to ascertain, and, having ascertained it, to encourage the child along those lines.
There are some things of which we do not do enough in the schools—homecraft, stimulating interest in gardening and hobbies of various kinds, painting, and participation in creative work. There is too much watching of other people doing things and not enough of people doing it for themselves.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Hear, hear!
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, I believe in television. I think it could be an instrument for good—although I do not possess one myself. I feel that there is a great deal in television which could help to arouse people's interest. But we must pay far more attention to the programmes. Among the things we feared in television was that the programmes would not be entirely of the educational kind, suitable for the purpose of stimulating people in the right kind of leisure; and I am afraid that that is happening. I suppose those who sponsor television programmes have to cater for the masses, and the masses want entertainment, rather than matters of interest. But I believe that, with the use of a judicious mixture of the two, television can play a big part in providing music, discussions, readings from the classics, and so on.
It is remarkable that the sale of gramophone records has increased enormously since music began to be broadcast and televised. Broadcasting has had some effect in arousing an interest in music, and I believe that television 664 could play a very great part here. Her Majesty's Government ought to be ready to spend money on this. Like the noble Earl, I do not believe that it is necessarily the business of the Government to intervene in the ordinary life of people, but there are some things which only a Government can do. We obviously want young people to have opportunities for playing games themselves. That involves an increased number of playing fields. I agree that money should be found privately as well, but I feel that the Government should make themselves responsible for providing a certain amount of the necessary funds. Then we ought to encourage people to go to see various parts of the country for themselves. There is a difficulty here. It may be that when we have three days off a week life will be a little easier in the countryside, but at present anyone who tries to take his recreation in the countryside over the weekend finds it by no means a pleasure. It is a great ordeal, and when you get to your destination, more often than not you find it extremely difficult to get even a cup of tea because things are so overcrowded. I think we ought to do something about that, if only to encourage people not all to use the Brighton road or the Southend road on a Sunday.
There are other places in the countryside that are equally interesting, and equally enjoyable and beneficial. There are houses of historical interest which people ought to be encouraged or, rather, stimulated to become interested in. They are fascinating once interest in them is aroused. But this is a thing which needs to be done at the very earliest age. If we could take young people, school children, away for a week-end, take them to some of the historic country houses and explain to them in simple terms what they are all about, the history of the houses and the works of art and the furniture, I think we should arouse a permanent interest in these children, and we should find that as they grew up they would discover other outlets for their energies than speeding up the Brighton road. And so I could suggest a great many things that could be done in the years before a child leaves school.
One of the problems I have been thinking about, anticipating a debate which I hope to have the privilege of 665 opening in a few weeks' time, is what we should do with the ordinary child if we raise the school-leaving age. I am very unhappy about merely raising the school-leaving age and otherwise leaving schools and the curriculum very much as they are. I doubt whether another year of the same thing would be of very great advantage. But if we could teach children what really amounts to the way to live, teach them to enjoy a fuller life, it would be a great achievement. After all, this world is full of riches and culture which have been handed down to us over the ages. How few people really enjoy and appreciate them! If we could use the school life of a child for that purpose, to enable him to enjoy the riches we have inherited, how much more worth while would be the raising of the school-leaving age and the years which the child spends at school!
I have largely concentrated on the child, because I believe that the problem of helping the older people who have more settled ideas to enjoy recreation, which in any case I doubt whether they will have for a long time to come, is too big a problem. But if we start with the child, I think that by the time we are likely to have to face up to this problem we may hope to have a generation capable of enjoying the blessings of leisure—and they can be blessings, as weal as the reverse; and we shall, as a nation, have the satisfaction of feeling that our people are really enjoying a fuller and a better life. I should like once more to express my deepest gratitude to the noble Earl for having raised this very interesting and important subject.
§ 3.15 p.m.
My Lords, I remember reading some 73 years ago in a book called A Child's Garden of Verses some lines by Robert Louis Stevenson:The world is so full of a number of things I am sure we should all be as happy as kings.But Nanny never told me that you had to bring to this wonderful world a certain modicum of mentality in order to obtain that happiness. And she did not tell me, either, that there are quite a lot of kings who are not as happy as all that. Indeed, the problem of leisure is not a new one. I have read recently that the Plantagenets nearly died of boredom 666 in their cold and gloomy castles. To come to more recent times, my grandmother, who was a beautiful but not very intelligent woman, suffered severely when she had to draw down her blinds in Ennismore Gardens during the month of August in order to pretend that she had been asked out of London in that unfashionable month. Her ennui, as she called it, was even more profound when she stayed with Lord Lonsdale at Lowther Castle where the men went out shooting all day.
But in the old days great trouble was taken to assist the limited minds of the rich from the affliction of boredom: shooting and hunting for half the year; racing and yachting for the other half. Golf courses and tennis courts, health resorts and a great deal of changing of clothes among the women, helped to fill the long, empty hours of prosperity. Nevertheless, in spite of all that, my grandmother was bored. And I find this inability to make life interesting, this depression and disillusion, disbelief in their own future and in the future of the world, still more dangerous and conspicuous in some of my grandchildren.
I hope this important matter will not be approached from above with well-meaning plans on a class basis, because this boredom is not a class affliction. John Osborne's Jimmy Porter represents no special class; but it is because he represents the delinquent mentality common to all classes in the modern world that we are afraid of him and feel that something ought to be done to excite the interest and fill the time of the countless young people who stand, with a great deal of money in their pockets, at the corners of the streets, before they fall into the temptations of actual delinquency. In my view, delinquent behaviour is very rare, but delinquent mentality is widespread among our prosperous proletariat.
The noble Earl who put down this Motion knows that it is an important subject, well worthy of your Lordships' attention. It is easy enough to say that it is a long-term problem that can be solved only by education. Surely we cannot wait for that, even if it is true. Surely the first step is to change the atmosphere; to change the attitude towards things of the mind which is conspicuous in this country. How can you 667 expect to develop the mentality of our vast urban and suburban populations if the people at the top, to whom they are accustomed to look for guidance and example, despise the intellectual and artistic approach to life? A distinguished professor said to me the other day that the House of Lords and the House of Commons represent the democracy of this country perfectly in their hatred of the arts. Occasionally the intellectual minority gets its way, as it has done during the last 100 years about education, and a few financial sops are thrown to the arts. I do not want to be accused of looking a gift horse in the mouth, but I must say that the quality of that spavined nag which was produced by the Government last week does not really come up to expectations. The promises made are to keep us quiet and they are pretty low.
The fact is that the differential (I believe that is the favourite word, like that word used by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, just now, which I did not understand) between what the Government respect and admire and what they consider unimportant is very conspicuous; and we have evidence of this on every side. I could give your Lordships a dozen examples of this disastrous prejudice reflected in the policy of those who govern us. An institution of utmost value, like the London Library, is crippled by sudden taxation. The subsidy allowed to a propaganda body, like the British Council, is far larger than that to a creative body like the Arts Council. This country, with a Budget of £5,000 million, cannot afford two of those millions to build a national theatre. If £100 million is added to the £1,500 million that is usually spent on obsolete armaments that everybody knows cannot be used, no letter of protest appears in the Press: and the Opposition cannot bring themselves to oppose the nuclear war, either. But if a sum so small as to be invisible to the so-called Ministry of Defence is spent on preventing a Rembrandt from going to the United States, angry voices are raised on every side, protesting against this waste of money—an amount of money which is quite insufficient to buy even one of those bombers that are so useless in modern war.
668 If the people at the top (the Establishment, I think we are now told to call it) the so-called educated people, value the development of the mind at so low a rate, then what can you expect of the television millions? Everybody remembers the famous saying of Goering, that when he heard the word "culture" he felt for his revolver. Well, we are not as barbarous as that, but when politicians and civil servants hear the word "culture" they feel for their blue pencils—although the appointment of Lady Albemarle's Committee and its admirable Report show that the Government are becoming slightly anxious about the situation of these empty minds in the Welfare State. Surely it is obvious, even to those boisterous extroverts in your Lordships' House who think that culture is effeminate, that the development of the mind is in fact the only cure for boredom and the only solution of the problem of leisure. This is the next freedom that we are waiting for, and I suggest to your Lordships that it is time that the able and very friendly men in the Government stopped standing in the way of its attainment.
§ 3.29 p.m.
§ THE LORD PRIVY SEAL AND MINISTER FOR SCIENCE (VISCOUNT HAILSHAM)
My Lords, enough has been said already to indicate that this is an enormous subject. The noble Earl who introduced this meal to-day began with what I can describe as a delightful soufflé the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, gave us a huge and most effective cut off the joint; and that has been enlivened with a piquant sauce from the noble Viscount, Lord Esher, who has just spoken. In some ways, what I have to offer is a vast lump of suet pudding by way of sweet; for I have with me one of the most formidable briefs that I have ever caused to be assembled, designed in every respect to show the splendour and munificence of the work of the Government through their different Departments in the sphere of leisure.
My Lords, the Apocrypha, which we are enjoined by the Prayer Book to read for the improvement of manners, and which for some reason has fallen out of the common culture of Protestants in Europe, although it contains some of the greatest wisdom in Holy Writ, 669 assures us—and I quote (Ecclesiasticus, c. 38, v. 24):The wisdom of a learned man cometh by opportunity for leisure, and he that hath little business shall become wise.If this be so, it is surely encouraging that the noble Earl should have decided to raise the subject of leisure to-day in your Lordships' House. I would say that it was not only encouraging but also in accordance with the movement of public opinion, since I think that this has shown lately a stirring of interest in the whole subject of the use of leisure. One sign was that both political Parties at the last General Election gave ground for belief that more was to be done by the Government in the encouragement of the wise use of leisure. And certainly, so far as I am concerned, I will do my best to see that this promise is kept. Both Houses of Parliament have already shown an increasing interest in branches of this subject, from the fine arts to youth clubs, and I would say that the more discussion we have about it, the more we can rely on a wise and informed public opinion.
But as must already have been obvious to your Lordships, for a free society the subject is not devoid of fundamental difficulties, and the discussion already, it seems to me, has thrown out two separate issues for debate upon which two different points of view have been taken. Are there in fact the increased opportunities for leisure referred to in the Motion, or are shorter hours simply another name for more overtime? On this issue the noble Earl, Lord Arran, and the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, took diametrically opposed points of view. What are the Government doing to encourage the proper use of leisure? What, in theory and in practice, are the limits of what they can do in a free society? On this I thought that the noble Viscount, Lord Esher, was unaware of the fact that although the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, had taken a fundamentally liberal view on the limitations of government, the noble Viscount was expounding the Socialist case with considerable power and with his inevitable and admirable vigour.
When I first saw the terms of the noble Earl's Motion, I was struck with both questions, and my first action was to ask my right honourable friend the Minister of Labour to discuss the question how far 670 there was statistical evidence that increased opportunities for leisure depend on shorter working hours, since I myself have observed, in the course of my life, that every new labour-saving device inevitably leads to an increase of human activity and not to a diminution of it. At first sight, my right honourable friend was on the noble Earl's side. He told me that between New Year's Day and the end of this month of March, between 3 and 4 million workers would have their standard hours reduced by between one and two hours a week and a number of substantial claims for reducing working hours are still outstanding.
But, as the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, pointed out to your Lordships, a reduction in standard hours does not necessarily mean increased opportunity for leisure. We have had experience of that before. We had the experience of 1946 and 1947. in which there was a reduction of between one and two hours in the standard hours worked, but that reduction did not mean an increased opportunity for leisure. It did not involve any reduction at all in the actual hours worked. Shorter normal working hours can conceivably mean nothing but more overtime. It is still too early to dogmatise about the present trend, but so far as my right honourable friend is concerned, he has enjoined me to say that while Her Majesty's Government stand for increased standards of life, the question of what proportion of these will be taken in leisure and what proportion in pay must be left to the two sides of industry, and to some extent to the inclination of the individual, to decide.
Nevertheless, perhaps I may be allowed to express a purely personal preference. I range myself unequivocally on the side of more leisure. If this is not possible, and if it be true, as the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, has indicated that it might be, that these great savings in drudgery lead to more activity, the moral, as a matter of fact, is that the right use of leisure—on this hypothesis, a scarce commodity—becomes the more, and not the less, important, and the preservation of leisure, in the sense in which the writer of Ecclesiasticus would have understood it, is an important national objective. I have never been one of those who cried,Go to the ant, thou sluggard!671 or who have lauded the socialist economy of that malevolent, restless and bloodthirsty little creature, the honey bee. Rather my sermon would be that it would be essential to preserve and popularise the idea of leisure.Be still then,the psalmist says,and know that I am God.I am unequivocally for the legend which makes rest an essential part of the process of creation and lays down at least one day in seven for repose as among the human freedoms never to be lost.
There is much to be said for reviving the idea of leisure in the twentieth century, for leisure is in truth a condition inseparable from the hard work to which, by and large, humanity is condemned. It is a natural requirement of the human race, but I would say that it was not something separable from life or even from work. For what is leisure for one man is the work of another. The hobby of one age becomes the technology of the next. A gardener may want to sit in his chair of a Sunday, but I like to be in my garden. Both of us are enjoying leisure. The schoolmaster and politician may climb the Zinal Rothorn on their holidays, but the factory worker and the housewife prefer to enjoy cooked meals in a hotel or a seat on the front at Blackpool. Who is to judge between the rival claims of sailing boats and grand opera—and who is to pay for either?
When it is grand opera, the noble Viscount, Lord Esher, says that it should be the Government, and complains bitterly at the increase we propose, because he described it as almost invisible. But how are we to discriminate? How far is a benevolent Government to encourage, to subsidise or to finance? To what extent is it morally right for the taxes paid by Jones to support the personal interests and tastes of Robinson? These questions can be answered authoritatively only in a dictatorship, and then only because a dictatorship does not require a political or moral philosophy. All can be subordinated to expediency, policy or prestige. But a free Government which endeavours to govern in accordance with public opinion and to justify its actions in the light of justice and reason must at least ask these ques 672 tions, even if it does not conclusively answer them. And when we want to divert more public funds to this or that, we have to say to ourselves, in an age of full employment and abounding wealth, "To what extent and on what principles is the money to be used?" That is not a question to which the noble Viscount, Lord Esher, addressed himself; and so far as my noble friend addressed himself to it, he arrived at a wholly negative conclusion.
We live in an age when there never has been so much money spent on entertainment and the use of leisure. Motor bicycles, television, juke boxes, dance bands, cinemas, steamships, aeroplanes, compete together for an increasing share of the wages of full employment. But it is not always wisely spent. To what extent have the Government a part to play in all this? Have we a responsibility for the public taste? And, if so, how are we to discharge that responsibility? Can we act by prohibition if we disapprove of the lubricity of certain Sunday newspapers? If we do not like commercial television, we have argued to what extent we can substitute a public monopoly.
On one thing your Lordships have all so far been in agreement, and that is the vital rôle of education in the inculcation of the right standards. For there, at least, the Government have a responsibility which is both plain and undisputed. But I should also add the home. Of the home I can, of course, say virtually nothing this afternoon, and yet in talking about leisure and its use the home is surely the foundation without which nothing else is much avail. Good moral standards, good æsthetic taste, good conversation, good manners, a respect for books and works of art, for friendship and hobby, even for love and courtship, for philosophy and idleness—where are these things to be learned at their best save in the home, our own and other people's? For the home is the place where people are at their best and at their worst; and in the use of leisure the home is, of course, the critical battlefield between good and evil.
As noble Lords have said, however, of the home the school is the invaluable ally. If education is a preparation for life viewed as a whole, it is, as the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, pointed out, as much 673 a preparation for leisure as a preparation for work. I therefore should feel bound to begin any account of Government action in this field by some account of what we are doing for leisure in some of our schools and technical colleges. For, strange as it may seem to the pupils, it is no coincidence that even our word for "school" is derived from the Greek word [...], which means nothing less than "leisure". More and more, staying on at school, even going to the university, is the characteristic of our time. By the time they leave, the new generation requires and in fact enjoys a higher type of sophistication and taste than any of the ages which have gone before. Whilst they are in full-time education it is vital, at least in my judgment, to emphasise that young people have, or at least ought to have—and I think that they do have—a finer opportunity for instruction and practice in the art of using leisure than anywhere else. Nowhere more than in education it is true thatAll work and no play makes Jack a dull boy";and I hope, indeed, that we may have an opportunity in various debates which we shall be holding to give some more particulars of the way in which our schools are playing their part in education for the use of leisure.
This is also true of our technical colleges. The key place occupied now by scientists and technologists in modern life has made it imperative to try to increase their awareness of the economic and social implications of their studies, and a large and increasing number of experiments are going on. Subjects such as the history of science, economics and human relationships are finding their way into full-time and sandwich courses at all levels, from the Diploma in Technology downwards, and more and more of the larger colleges are appointing staff to teach liberal subjects and to develop, what is even more important, in many cases, extracurricular activities voluntarily organised.
Leaving, then, formal education, I come to approach once more the questions which I have posed from the factual point of view. To what extent can the Government play a part in these matters; and to what extent are they doing so and do they mean to do so? The noble Viscount, Lord Esher, was 674 quite right to refer to Lady Albemarle's Committee on the Youth Service. Thirteen months ago we had a debate on that. But so much has happened since then that there is a good deal that is new which can be said; and perhaps again we may have some opportunity of discussing it in greater detail. To-day the youth service comprises club and other facilities made available by local education authorities and voluntary organisations, both jointly and separately. It encourages many voluntary activities and such things as the Duke of Edinburgh's Award. About one million people between the ages of fifteen and twenty—and this is only one in three of the available public—use these facilities. Here, again, is a field for debate upon which I would say it is quite clear that recent events have shown that the Government are playing an increasing part; and the turn of the youth service has now come for considerable development and encouragement.
The Minister of Education has already announced that those parts of the Albemarle Committee's Report which are the subject for Government action have been immediately accepted, and he will as soon as possible be discussing with the local education authorities the part they should play; and he also desires me to lay great stress on the need for voluntary effort. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland will be carrying on parallel activities in the realm to which his Department extends.
Then, again, we must consider the question of adult education. This is a subject upon which the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, already has a Motion down, and I am hoping to take part in that discussion in two weeks' time. To-day, therefore, I will only say that facilities for adult education offer great opportunities for the constructive use of leisure. These facilities are already expanding and changing to meet changing needs, both in the realm of liberal studies and in the realm of more practical courses.
The noble Viscount, Lord Esher, referred in detail to the Government's interest in and support for the arts or "the things of the mind" as he calls them; and these, of course, form a completely separate and specialised field of 675 leisure activity. My right honourable friends have always been acutely conscious of the importance of opportunities for the practice and appreciation of the various arts, and I think I may claim that, on the whole, they have been more sympathetic and helpful to the arts than any previous Government in the history of Parliament, in spite of the somewhat opprobrious terms in which their generosity was referred to by the noble Viscount.
My Lords, I think we have to give the Labour Party credit for having produced £40 million for the preservation of artistic buildings in this country.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
I certainly was not going to indulge in any Party recriminations in this matter but the fact is that our present contribution to the arts is higher in absolute and in relative terms, even than the record to which the noble Viscount refers. I merely think that it was a little ungenerous of him to refer to this munificence as a "spavined nag". The truth is, as the noble Viscount does not seem to have appreciated, that the rôle of the Government in this field is not at all easy to establish. For them to try to direct artistic activity in the community would, as we believe, and as we think we know from other countries and other times, be largely to strangle it. At the same time, we recognise that to leave the arts to fend for themselves is an almost equally arid policy. What the Government have tried to do is to take the place, to some extent, of the best of the private patrons in the past, under whose encouragement and financial help many things of beauty have been created to the lasting benefit of all. Of course, this is not a field which is free from controversy. At the moment I would say—and it is for your Lordships to judge whether I be right—that our increased patronage of the arts is highly popular. But the whole process inevitably involves a delicate balance of judgment between the inclinations, on the one hand, of those taxpayers who would prefer to patronise the arts themselves with the money still in their own pockets and, on the other, those who feel that the State must help even more in this field with money which belongs to the taxpayer.
676 Your Lordships will no doubt have noticed a discussion in another place last Friday. I think this will necessarily shorten what I have to say on this subject. But I would remind your Lordships of one or two of the outstanding features. In the first place, the Arts Council is to receive next year an extra £300,000, bringing its total grant up to £1½ million. We understand that this will enable the Council to double its expenditure on drama, and that the greater share of this increase will go to provincial repertory theatre companies. Orchestras, opera, ballet, particularly in the provinces, and other Arts Council activities throughout the Kingdom will similarly benefit.
Next, Parliament will be invited to approve for national museums and galleries, excluding the science museums, an increase of £350,000, or 13 per cent., in 1960–61 over the current year. This excludes any special grants which have been or will be made towards the purchase of particular outstanding works of art beyond the capacity of the ordinary annual grants of the trustees concerned. Annual purchase grants for our national museums and galleries were increased last year from £125,000 to £335,000, and to ensure that the public galleries of the United Kingdom, and in particular the major national collections, should have their share of the few remaining important masterpieces, the Government have, as your Lordships will know, authorised nearly £200,000 in special grants in the last year or so. These grants have been supplemented by some particularly magnificent gifts, the most recent of which is that of Mr. Alexander Maitland, Q.C., to the National Gallery of Scotland.
Moreover, we have increased from £15,000 to £25,000 the amount which the Victoria and Albert Museum has available for giving assistance to provincial museums towards the cost of approved acquisitions. Only two years ago this figure was only £2,000, and when one considers that, in addition to this twelve-fold increase over two years, the Government have recently offered Liverpool Corporation a special grant of £25,000 to enable them to make a bid for the important painting by Rubens which would otherwise have gone out of the country, I should have thought that, 677 on the whole, the record was one to be proud of.
Of course, the initiative in these matters does not rest only with the Government; local authorities have wide powers under the Local Government Act, 1948, to provide, or contribute to, various types of cultural entertainment. These powers have, for instance, enabled local authorities to assist the Hallé Orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the City of Birmingham Orchestra, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic and the Scottish National Orchestra, all of which have received contributions from local authorities.
Then there is the whole question of libraries. This again is a field in which the Government have played a part. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Ohorley, will be interested to hear that provision has now been made to keep the Reading Room of the British Museum open a little later on two evenings of the week for most of the year 1960–61. Of course, public libraries generally contribute greatly to the constructive use of leisure. To quote figures, in 1957–58 libraries in England and Wales had some 13 million registered readers and made about 392 million issues of books. That cost the rates about £15 million. Libraries in Scotland, in addition, made about 35½ million issues and cost about £1½ million. The part of public libraries in local government has been so important that, two years ago, when I was Minister of Education, we appointed a Committee to report on public libraries, and it has now reported. The Government have now accepted the need for legislation and are about to begin discussions with the interests concerned.
Again, we have to consider the provision for sport. In a sense we flatter ourselves that it is little short of a national passion in this country. Watching or reading about sport certainly takes up more of most people's leisure activity than almost any other single item. But there is a danger that we may become a nation of sports viewers, instead of a nation of sports players. Far too few young people continue their active participation in games after they leave school, and the ending of National Service for boys makes it even more necessary that games and other physical activities should be encouraged during 678 the immediate post-school years. I would agree with the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, that sport is one of the matters which must clearly be a matter for Government activity, although it is even more a matter for private spending and voluntary organisations. In fact it is so. The provision of playing fields and swimming baths is one which comes within the purview, not only of the Minister of Education, but also, under a variety of powers of various local authorities, of the Minister of Housing and Local Government. The Ministry of Education also makes annual grants towards the salaries and clerical expenses of professional coaches employed. The noble Viscount, Lord Esher, suggested the appointment of a wide Committee to deal with the whole. I would say that we have, in fact, been conducting, in one way or another, a thoroughgoing series of inquiries into the various departments of the use of leisure, and I certainly would hope that this would continue.
In the field of sport, to which I was adverting a moment ago, which is a limited field, the Central Council of Physical Recreation, in 1957 appointed a committee—which was, of course, a private committee, and not a Government committee—under the chairmanship of Sir John Wolfenden, to examine the factors affecting the development of games, sports and outdoor activities, and to make recommendations to the Council as to the practical measures which could be taken both by the statutory and by the voluntary bodies. I understand that the committee's Report is expected in a few months.
It would, of course, be fair to the local authorities to say that their activities in this field have been hampered, and still are to some extent, by the restriction on capital expenditure. They certainly have not, I think, been hampered by lack of willingness to discharge the duties placed upon them by Parliament. Even so, the total capital expenditure on these services by local authorities since the war is of the order of £35 million, and now capital expenditure is running at something like £6¼ million a year. This is in addition to the voluntary expenditure of such bodies as the National Playing Fields Association, the work of the Central Council of Physical Recreation and the sports provision of 679 the educational building programme, and of the many national and voluntary organisations concerned with sport and other activities.
I think this survey of the field shows conclusively that, however difficult it may be to formulate in terms of a free society the rôle which Governments should play in prescribing taste or in aiding the free exercise by the individual of his choice between the various ways in which he can spend his leisure, both sides of the House and all political Parties in the country are aware that there is work for the Government to do, work which is probably best done by Government and which can be done without undermining but, rather, by encouraging the use by the individual of the free faculties which he has been given. The noble Earl, Lord Arran, closed his speech on a note of something like pessimism, I thought. The result of too much leisure, he believed, was in some other countries a mixture it seemed of suicide and promiscuity. I am not sure that this is correct. The fact of the matter is that, of the various doctrines of the Church which we must believe by faith, original sin is one of those which can be proved empirically and a posteriori. Man is a strange amalgam of carbon atoms and discarnate sensibilities, and one never knows which one is going to see, the countenance of the ape or the expressed image of the Creator. But I would say that it is a great mistake to view the developments of the modern world and to think of them either as materialistic or as dull. On the contrary, we are living in an exciting age of opportunity, and I hope that this afternoon's debate may show exactly how full of opportunity and excitement that age is.
§ 4.2 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I am sure that we all owe the most sincere thanks to my noble relative, Lord Arran, for tabling a Motion which is so thought-provoking in character and which has already, I think, produced so attractive a debate. I must confess that when I first read the terms of his Motion my first reaction was to wonder what exactly he had in mind. Had he any definite proposals to put forward for utilising the increasing leisure which he anticipated would be at the disposal of 680 the ordinary man in the years ahead? Or did he, as I rather gather he does, merely want to ventilate a subject which he felt sure was likely to become of steadily increasing importance in a world where, more and more, at any rate in the sphere of production, the machine is taking the place of man. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, I gathered from what he said, thinks there is not going to be much, if any, more leisure for any of us as a result of automation. He may very well be right in that rather sad view. But personally I cannot help thinking that, sooner or later, the greater mechanisation of life is going to mean less work for the individual man, and I felt, therefore, with the noble Earl, Lord Arran, that we must be prepared even now to be thinking, so as to be ready to meet that challenge when it comes.
But that thought led me on, like no doubt other noble Lords, to a further and more fundamental thought. What exactly do we mean by leisure? It is a word we use constantly rather loosely. We talk of the value of leisure; we talk of the need for leisure; we talk of the leisured classes and so on. But how do we define the word? I tried and I found I could not do it. Therefore, eventually, as so often when I am puzzled, I went to that mine of information and wisdom, the New Oxford Dictionary, and there I made what was to me an extremely interesting discovery. The oldest meaning of this word—and it is a very old word, dating back at any rate to the fourteenth century—was not negative at all, as it has tended to become since. It is not what might be called a "lolling" word; it is a severely positive, even austere word. It meant originally, to quote the words of the Dictionary:Freedom or opportunity to do something specified or implied".And that meaning of opportunity to do yet more is further brought out by the second definition which appears in the Dictionary:In the narrower sense, opportunity"—that word is again stressed—afforded by freedom from occupations".And, indeed, it appears that it is only comparatively lately that it has come to 681 have a less austere meaning. This is my last quotation from the Dictionary:The state of having time at one's disposal: time which one can spend as one pleases: free or unoccupied time.There, for the first time, there seems to appear what may be called the dolce far niente conception of leisure.
I hope your Lordships will not regard all that I have said as too academic and even pedantic. It is, I think, of more practical importance than might at first appear. For, first of all, it underlines the idea that leisure, when properly used, is something essentially good, in that it should enable a man, as it were, to cram something more, new experiences, new knowledge, new enjoyments, into his life. And secondly it implies that that something more, which leisure should give a man—that something which leisure should add to his life—ought to be something (and here I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, said) involving some personal creative activity of his own. I am sure that that is an important point about leisure. And it is especially important because, with the increased mechanisation of life, the fear that is most generally expressed nowadays, the danger which is most generally anticipated—it is the danger I think anticipated in Lord Arran's own speech—is that our leisure is going to be increasingly taken up by doing less and less ourselves and relying more and more on the activities, both physical and intellectual, of others to give us recreation and enjoyment: and as a result all our brains are going to atrophy.
In older days, even not so very long ago, before the latest inventions of science, men and women were inevitably thrown much more on their own resources than they are nowadays. If one wanted to enjoy a particular masterpiece of music, one either had to play it oneself or get a friend to play it or go to a concert hall, and that, to many people, was either too distant or too expensive for them to attend. Now one has only to make the comparatively simple effort of switching on the gramophone or radio to hear an authentic interpretation of that masterpiece of music by the greatest performers of the day. Or, to go back again to earlier years, if one wanted to keep alive in one's mind the memory of some scene or building 682 which one regarded as particularly striking or beautiful, one probably had either to paint it or draw it oneself, well or ill. Most of our family homes are full of such pictures; most of them extremely badly done. But now all one has to do is press the button of a camera to have the thing reproduced in its natural colours, send it to be developed and so record it for one's permanent enjoyment. The machine does all the work for one. I may be told that such things are at present only for the rich. That may be so now; but very soon no doubt these things will be for all.
And what about television, which has already been mentioned, particularly by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, and which is already, if I may say so, a luxury rather of the poorer than of the richer sections of the community? That requires even less effort than those other new adjuncts of life to which I have just referred. All the owner of a television set needs to do is to switch the thing on, and then he can sit, if he wishes, hour after hour, making no effort or movement of any kind, hardly even thinking if he does not want to, just receiving on his retina what appears on the screen in front of him. It may be the Derby, it may be a League football match, it may be the Opening of Parliament, it may be a discussion between some of the most distinguished and brilliant men of the day. He need never move from his armchair; all these things are handed to him, as it were, on a plate. Hundreds of thousands of people already occupy much or all of their leisured time in that particular way.
I am not criticising television. I am, like Lord Silkin, not a viewer myself; but I know very well the pleasure that it gives, and, what is more, that it has transformed the lives of countless people, especially those who are old and infirm. I merely point out that, in the view of many—I rather gather that the noble Earl, Lord Arran, is one of them—there is a real danger that the result of all these wonderful inventions that have come within his lifetime may be that a great part of the population of this country, in a very few years, will be required to make practically no effort of their own, physical or mental, to occupy their increasing leisure hours, and will become, as it were, merely receiving sets, watching passively and indolently the posturings 683 of small, immensely active groups of their fellow citizens who will exist solely for the purpose of keeping them amused. If that were to be the only future before modern civilisation, I hardly feel that it would be very desirable.
On the other hand, it is equally possible to take, as I personally on the whole do, a far more cheerful view of the future. Indeed, I believe there are already indications that point in a quite different and more encouraging direction. Take one, for instance. I think there is little doubt—I would say, in parenthesis, that the main credit for this must, I think, go to the B.B.C. for the high standard that it has always maintained in matters of the humanities—that to-day the ordinary man and woman in this country has a far greater appreciation of beauty and the arts generally than ever before in its history. The noble Viscount, Lord Esher, was really too pessimistic about that. I know that his own personal standard is extremely high, but I would tell him, if he were here, that not long ago a most distinguished foreigner said to me—and he was one who ought to know—that he regarded Britain to-day as the most musical nation in the world. That really is something to cheer up the noble Viscount, and indeed all of us. It is a compliment, I imagine, that could not have been paid to us with any truth since the reign of Queen Elizabeth I; and one must hope that this appreciation of beauty will ultimately blossom into a desire to create, and will lead, at any rate to some extent, to a new renaissance of the arts, and that that urge to create will, in the long run, more than counteract those less desirable results of our age of scientific discovery, to which I referred earlier.
It is, surely, to this re-stimulation of the creative urge that our educational system should, as one of its main aims, be directed. Anything that broadens the mind and gives us an appreciation of things we have not hitherto understood must be to the good. Travel, for instance, which has not been mentioned to-day—and yet a great many people nowadays can, to some extent at any rate, afford to travel somewhere—is a very good instance of this. Quite apart from anything else, it makes people appreciate that their own country is, on 684 the whole, the best country in the world to live in, when they see what other people have to put up with. I feel, therefore, that we should stimulate the desire for travel in any way that we can. Then there is reading. I imagine that the more people who read, the better. After all, if not actually creative, reading is certainly a main aid to creative thought. We are constantly stimulated to read by those extremely high-spirited discussions between literary experts which are transmitted to us weekly on the television and radio. That is all to the good.
But, on the other side it is a great pity that books have become so terribly expensive. I do not know whether anything could be done about that. I do not know whether there could be discussions between the Ministry of Education and the book trade to encourage the production of more cheap editions, not only of good books but of new books. If that could be done, I am sure it would be a most admirable thing. The binding and the paper need not be at all of high quality; after all, it is the contents that matter. In that connection I was delighted to hear what the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, said about the assistance which the Government hopes to be able to give to public libraries. Then there is gardening, which I think was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin. Nowadays a great many people have gardens, and I am sure they are a perpetual delight to those who have acquired a love of gardening and a love of flowers. I personally am always amazed, as I drive through the outer parts of London in the summer, to see the wonderful quality of gardens one passes and, what is more, the evident passionate interest which is shown in those gardens by their owners. That, I am sure, is another thing we should encourage.
My Lords, those are only one or two of the ways in which we can try to broaden the interests of our fellow citizens and give them new occupations for their leisure. Whether, whatever we do, things will turn out exactly as we intend, I do not know. One can only hope for the best and do what one can to jog them along in the right direction.
I remember many years ago, when I was an undergraduate at Oxford, that 685 I was a member of a political club, and a most distinguished statesman came down to speak to us. When he had finished his talk and the time came for questions, an enthusiastic undergraduate got up and asked him, "What, sir, in your view, is the cure for unemployment?" After some perceptible pause for thought, the great man replied, "Well, I don't rightly know, but I expect it will work itself out somehow." I thought at the time, and I think now, that that was not only an extremely courageous but, on the whole, a very sensible answer. And it is, I expect, also the right answer to the question: what ought to be done about the future of leisure? It will probably work itself out somehow.
The noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, has told us many things that the Government are doing to train our people, especially young people—who, I agree, are much the most important—how to deal with their leisure and to encourage the arts, and they are clearly doing a great deal. But I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Arran, in what he said today: that there can be no really standardised solution to a problem of this kind. For no two men or women are alike, and therefore no two people need exactly the same treatment. It will have to work itself out. But what is certain, I think, is that whatever encourages men and women to broaden their minds, to develop their own personalities, to think for themselves and to take their own line, is likely in the long term to be to the advantage both of themselves and of their country: and it is for that, if I may suggest it diffidently, that Governments and all those who are connected with this subject—the education authorities, the Churches, the trade unions and all those others whom the noble Earl mentioned—must work in the years that lie ahead.
§ 4.20 p.m.
§ LORD BEVERIDGE
My Lords, when, a few days ago, the noble Lord who has so charmingly introduced this Motion spoke to me about it, and went on to suggest that I ought to say something on it, I felt very doubtful. I regard myself as a person without any leisure at all, always desperately busy, and I thought I did not know anything about leisure. But as the noble Earl urged me 686 to find something to say I thought that the best thing for me to do was to make some research by asking a few questions of some of my friends.
Living as I do in an academic city, my first inquiry, naturally, was addressed to a professor. He had no difficulty at all in telling me what he thought was the main problem of leisure. It was, he said, to discover how to prevent others from using up one's leisure against one's wishes. I told him, "You have set me the problem; what is your solution". He said, "I am not going to give you the solution." Professors never do. Their business is to set the problems and leave one to find the solution. So I thought that the best course was to go to some other people, and I went in turn to the manager of a bank, to a stationmaster, to a young married woman with two small children, to the driver of a hire car driving in London and to the secretary of a social club. All gave me something interesting and relevant to the present subject. They did much better than the professor—but then most people always do.
The manager of the hank said, "I am going to be much busier than ever before." I do not know if he was thinking of my overdraft—he did not say so; but clearly he contemplated that in the new world he would have less leisure than before. The stationmaster really said the same thing: "I work seven days a week while every single factory in the town in which I live has a five-day week." I want to suggest that that was a very significant remark. It is the fact that there is leisure, and growing leisure, in industry, and also that leisure is unequally distributed. My stationmaster friend went on to say, "I do not complain at all about that. Before I went on to the railways I realised the kind of life I should have, and that I should never have any real freedom at all from the job." He was not complaining. But your Lordships will see he confirmed the point that I am going to try to make most strongly; that there will be more leisure and that it will be most unequally distributed.
Next I came to the young married woman with small children—and we all know the position of that kind of young woman. She is never off the job, although every now and again the 687 children go to sleep, so that if she is capable of reading she can, perhaps, read a book in the intervals. Then I came to what was, to me, one of the most illuminating answers, the one I got from the driver of the hire car who was driving me two days ago. He expressed great anger at the demand of the railway clerical staff for a 38-hour week. His own view was that most of them would seize the opportunity to go and make some extra money by doing other odd jobs and probably put somebody else out of a job. His own view was that they would all get more money by overtime rates. I will not say whether he was right or wrong about what they wanted, but obviously that is a possibility with this continual shortening of hours in organised industry.
Next I came to the secretary of the social club, who gave me what was in some ways the most surprising answer of all—surprising because it dealt with women; and nobody can foretell what any woman will do. I mean that no man can, though every woman can, of course. He said that in his job he was continually having to employ charwomen to keep the club clean and tidy, and he told me, "The more I pay them, the less they want to work. If I want to shorten their hours I put up their pay, and if I put up their pay they say. 'I have enough money now. I will do less work'." I do not know whether that is a common experience.
I think I have told your Lordships enough to show that nobody can quite tell how this growing change that is coming over this country, the greater facilities for leisure, is going to affect the actions of the people. I draw from my researches two main conclusions: one that, in total, there will be more leisure; the second that the leisure will be very unequally distributed. This leisure is coming about as the result of the revolution brought about by full employment. We all know that full employment has brought prosperity, but we all know, too, if we face facts at all, that prosperity is very unequally distributed. Whilst some of the people in this country are much better off than they ever were before, and some have more money than they know how to spend, others, particularly old people, under inflation are in bitter want and 688 need. It is a very unequal revolution in its working among human beings. I am not going to dwell upon that to-day, for it is a different subject; but in just the same way the leisure—and I believe that it is going to be more rather than less—is going to be very unequally distributed. We have to pay attention to how we can do justice. Perhaps those who have to work six or seven days a week might have a longer holiday, or something could be done in other ways to adjust the injustice.
Of course, leisure in the past was unequally distributed. We used to have what we called a "leisured class" of landowners and the like. To-day I should say that the leisured class, on the whole, is going to be those whom we used to call the "working class". I hope that we shall be able to call them the leisured class, and I shall not do so as any term of criticism, for I do not so regard it. It is not a term of abuse: it means people with time to spare. What we have to do with them is to cause them to be determined to spend their time in things that are worth while; not in gambling on pools, not impassively seeing or bearing things, whether on television or otherwise, but in doing things, reading, travelling, gardening or—a new occupation to which a friend of mine (not one of those I have mentioned) introduced me the other day—the occupation of dowsing, a very interesting occupation which people undertake, looking for water—that is, if they still want water—or the education of children and so on.
We have to look forward to more but unequally distributed leisure, spare time that has to be filled in. I want to urge—and I am sure everyone would really agree—that, for happiness, leisure must be used in doing things, not for pay, but for their own sake and to a large extent. I believe, in doing things for others. On this, I agree of course entirely with what has been said by the noble Viscount who spoke from the Government Front Bench: the Government can, and should, help greatly in education. But I hope he will allow me to go on to say that the real thing that has to be done, not by the Government, is to get into the minds of all the people of this country the idea of using leisure well. We want to form the right public opinion; and the right public opinion for 689 Britain's happiness, when we do not have a job that we must do and can choose, is that happiness is doing something, not wanting things.
§ 4.31 p.m.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I should like to add to those of others my thanks to the noble Earl, Lord Arran, for introducing this Motion, and also, if I may say so, for the felicitous manner of its introduction. I have heard the noble Earl speak on a number of occasions and he appears to me to be one of those fortunate speakers who always deal with their subject on a high plane and in the most elevated language. It may well be that for that reason I do not always understand all his words on first hearing and profit by reading them again afterwards. Although I may not understand all the words, I certainly like the music very much. That is somewhat different from the case of the noble Viscount, Lord Esher, whose words are always so entertaining that one never knows whether there is a tune or not.
I felt, however, that the noble Earl struck one false note when he referred to the trade unions and the part they can play. Of course I agree that they can play a very important, and increasing, part in the work of helping people to appreciate leisure and to have the facilities for that appreciation. But we must not ignore the very considerable part they are playing already. Many trade unions have quite extensive, and expensive, education and training schemes within the union. Then, of course, they contribute considerably to the Workers' Educational Association, and to the National Council of Labour Colleges; and any trade unionist who is one of their members can have courses such as those bodies provide entirely free. Indeed, the difficulty is not so much in the provision of the courses; it is in the fact that individual trade unionists do not, unfortunately, support them in anything like the numbers they should. I think that that in itself is part of the malaise which I believe afflicts society to-day. On that point, my noble friend Lord Lawson was telling me just now that a man over 70 years of age, a prominent trade unionist, is now at Durham University and is in the final stages of achieving his degree, which is an example of somebody who has learnt to appreciate leisure after retirement.
690 I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Arran, when he says that leisure is not a matter for Governments; and certainly in the sense of compulsion and direction it is not a matter for Government, because, if it were, it would no longer be leisure; it would be work. I was struck by the number of extremely valuable suggestions made by my noble friend Lord Silkin. There was one point which he mentioned, the question of hobbies, which is, of course, very important. Young people, in particular, have many different hobbies until they alight on one which is, as it were, their hobby or interest for life, and there can be no possible measure of compulsion there. I like the story I was told this afternoon, about a headmaster who was very keen on hobbies for his pupils and he insisted that they all had a hobby. When Her Majesty's inspector visited the school he was most impressed to find that every boy had a hobby and how interested they were, until he was going out and he saw a boy working in the garden who did not seem quite so cheerful as the rest. He asked the boy, "What are you doing?" and the boy replied, "This, sir, is my hobby—and I hate it." That illustrates how compulsion can turn something which ought to be desirable into something which is detestable; and that is one of the reasons why Governments cannot possibly, as it were, promote leisure. But I think it is the duty of Governments to help to provide the facilities for the enjoyment of leisure, and there is there a very big distinction.
I feel that it is quite in the tradition of your Lordships' House that we, who, as the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, said, have far less leisure than most, should this afternoon be debating the question of increased leisure for others ten years hence, especially as, in my view, those who will benefit most from any practical steps that spring from our deliberations will take no more notice of what we say (and I am referring to young people) than if we were goldfish swimming around in a bowl. In fact, if we were, they might take a little more notice, because a talking goldfish might raise even a teenage eyebrow. But everyone has agreed on the vital rôle of education; and I, too, would agree. It seems to me that young people are really appallingly indifferent to the opportunities around them for education.
691 That indifference of so many young people to what is happening in the world was demonstrated on Monday night in a T.V. programme "Searchlight on Oxford". Although that happened to be "Searchlight on Oxford", I am willing to accept from anyone who went to Oxford that it would, or might, equally well apply to any other university. But I saw the programme, and five undergraduates, of both sexes, were asked simple questions which, as the interviewer said, could have been answered, or should have been answered, by anyone of any age who read a single newspaper a day—such questions as, "What was the recent increase in railwaymen's wages?"; "In which country is Dr. Banda imprisoned?" Now, they had not any idea at all; not one of them could answer those questions. And, most astonishing of all, not one of them had the faintest idea what he wanted to do when he came down from Oxford. In fact, the very intelligent undergraduate who was editor of Cherwell said that, so far as he knew, he was one of the very few who knew what he was going to do. If that is so, then here we have 8,700 of the nation's brightest and best without a clue. There was one girl I heard, a girl brimful of intelligence and charm, who said, "It's quite enough to think about to-morrow". And that is the keynote.
This is important, because most of us who are adult or middle-aged or elderly are fairly set in our habits so far as leisure is concerned, and if we are going to share the future at all, or assist in the sharing of the future, then it is in connection with the enjoyment of increased leisure, if it is going to be enjoyed, by the young people. I say that because to-day's 15 and 20-year-olds will in ten years' time be mothers and fathers. What a prospect for them and for the nation!—unless meanwhile they can be helped to find themselves.
They have lived their whole lives in a world which believes in the need to maintain, as a deterrent, the power of utter destruction. Their minds are not only conditioned, therefore, to the idea of violence but to uncertainty about the future, and not unnaturally they live for the satisfaction of the moment. They reach physical maturity at an earlier age than their parents; they are more 692 prosperous and have experienced almost none of the material hardships which used to form the normal pattern of life. Consequently, although older in appearance, they are much younger inside than we were at the same age. If they are ever to learn the proper use of leisure, we have first to provide a framework in which they can find their place within, and not apart from, society; to provide facilities for the activities which appeal to them and through which they can express themselves.
My Lords, the trouble is that two out of every three young persons, teenagers, to-day will have nothing whatever to do with the normal youth clubs or organisations. Though, of course, they still need improved facilities for education, for further education and for adult education, it is not so much a question of those facilities: it is a question of using them in sufficiently large numbers and in sufficiently large proportions. They just will not have anything to do with the normal organisations; indeed, anything which bears an official stamp is by definition doomed to failure.
The lack of the facilities acceptable to these young people is, for obvious reasons, particularly acute in the new towns. For example, I have here an extract from an article which appeared recently in the Harlow Gazette (Harlow is a new town near London) under the headline, "Harlow's bored teenagers are future menace".
This is what it says:Harlow is sitting on a gunpowder keg—its teenage problem—and the fuse is already lit. Already, 40 per cent. of the town's population is under fifteen, and the figure is rising".Imagine, my Lords: two out of every five of the town's entire population is under fifteen!Harlow's children are growing. It is now a familiar sight to see groups of teenagers aimlessly roaming the streets. They are bored and frustrated and don't care for the youth centres supposed to cater for them. Juvenile crime is increasing. At the Juvenile Court, the Magistrates are dealing with crimes of theft, violence and indecency. It pales the adult court, with its long lists of motoring offences, into insignificance. What do these boys and girls want? They want something to do, somewhere to go, where they will not be preached at, where they will not be treated as children. There are many people and organisations in Harlow working for youth, but they work for a section of youth which appreciates and needs them. They ignore the section which needs them and does not appreciate them.693 That is taken from the local newspaper of that town.
My Lords, that section which does not appreciate the ordinary youth organisations which we in our youth did so much appreciate is much the larger section. Very properly, in my view, they will not be coerced or driven, and if they can see the leader they will not be led. They are not unclubbable: they just do not like the usual sort of club. But they do respond overwhelmingly when afforded facilities for occupying their leisure in a manner congenial and attractive to them.
The Nuffield Foundation is very conscious of this need and in an attempt to meet it they provided the initial finance for the formation of a non-profit-making company called "Youth Ventures," of which I am chairman and of which my noble friend Lord Pakenham and the noble Lord, Lord Denham, are directors. We have a somewhat curious combination on this board, because other directors include such prominent figures in the world of sport and entertainment as Stirling Moss; Tommy Steele; Miss Sheila Van Damm, who runs the "Windmill"; and Mr. Butlin, who runs the holiday camps to which the noble Earl made a reference somewhat earlier—although I imagine that people who go voluntarily to such places, and who shout "Yes" when they are asked if they are happy, do so in a somewhat different frame of mind from that of the people whose home team is three goals down and answer "No" when asked if they are downhearted.
In this organisation we intend, throughout the country, wherever the need exists—and, as our despairing correspondence shows, it exists everywhere—to open premises to provide, on commercial lines and charging commercial prices, a combination of coffee bar, club and small dance hall. The front portion would be the normal coffee bar, with a juke box and record players, beloved of the nation's youth. At the rear there will be a dance hall, with a stage at one end. Music would normally be provided by a record player, which again would provide opportunity for the members to play their own records. The stage could be used for amateur dance groups or other instrumentalists, or dramatic entertainments, again provided by the members themselves. We also intend 694 to provide a gymnasium, and rooms for other activities. Each establishment will be in the charge of a permanent, paid staff—men and women with a special interest in, and a liking for, young people. The bar will be open seven days a week, serving light refreshments, tea, coffee and minerals; and the ball will be open every evening from six o'clock.
Apart from the resident staff, and within certain defined limits, the "Venture" will be run by the members themselves, in order to provide that measure of independence and "do-it-yourself" which is so essential for success. Each "Venture" will start its own club, with a nominal membership subscription. The club, which will elect its own officers, will be responsible for the programme of activities, and for ensuring the observance of its own rules and conduct. We do not wish to make these hard and fast, because there is need for variety to meet local conditions. For example, membership would normally be restricted to the ages of 15 to 25, but this could be varied if the majority of members wanted it otherwise. Of course, one rule basic to all of them would be that membership would be open to all, irrespective of sex, colour, creed or social class. We have no wish to make a profit, although we should charge commercial prices. The organisation as a whole is non-profit-making, and ranks as a charitable organisation, but we must make each "Venture" pay its way, because it is only in this way that we can get that "spread" throughout the country which is so badly needed.
Moreover, it is essential, in our view, that young people should pay for what they have—and, indeed, they are able and willing to do so if it is what they want and, of course, in their view worth paying for. But, my Lords, they will not go to disused church halls, converted air-raid shelters or cow byres. It may seem extraordinary to suggest that a youth centre should be in a converted cow byre, but only a few weeks ago I had a desperate call from Newton Aycliffe, a new town in the North, begging for a contribution of furniture for a converted cow byre. They said that they had had £50 from the local authority. Young people to-day just will not support those things, particularly with their own money.
695 We feel that if this organisation is prepared, as it is, to run these "Ventures" without any cost to the local authority, in staff or otherwise, those local authorities should provide the premises on lease at a reduced rent. In this way, available public funds would do twenty times the work that would be possible if such centres had to be provided and staffed by the local authority. Your Lordships may ask: why do the local authorities not run the places themselves? My answer is: there is no reason at all. I hope they will; but they would suffer one serious handicap. It would be official, and, therefore, would be suspect to many of the youngsters in greatest need. We shall be able to avoid this. For example, it would be a dismal failure if I or any other "square" of my age and generation were to be a prime mover in opening any of these "Ventures"; but we shall entrust that task to other members of our Council, such as Tommy Steele, Stirling Moss or one of the others—all of whom are willing to give all possible practical help and will bring in other teenage "idols" to provide the initial advertising and give the necessary cachet of what I call "roundness", as distinct from being "a square". Then, of course, we shall be able to use the exceptional knowledge in catering matters of Mr. Butlin.
We have no desire to compete with, or in any way belittle, the great work done by orthodox boys' and girls' clubs and youth organisations. They have, and always will have, their place. We exist to meet a comparatively new but very great and very pressing need. Our purpose will not have been achieved when young people come into the "Venture" for jive and a coco-cola. The real purpose only begins then, but it cannot begin until they do come in. People can preach at youth so long as they like, and tell them what they ought to do; but unless youth are there to hear them, all our words are useless, are wasted on empty air. They have to come in first. and the only way to bring young people in is to say to them that they can do what they want to do and not what we want them to do.
I believe that the youth of to-day have the same stuff in them as the youth of yesterday, and that once they are "in", 696 it will begin to show. But for most teenagers, it is better that they demand facilities for using their minds as well as their muscles; and when they ask for such help, we will provide it. I have deliberately refrained from mentioning the Albemarle Report, because we hope to have a full debate on it on my noble friend's Motion. But I want to put two specific questions to the Government regarding their attitude to assistance for voluntary organisations. We know that, until now, assistance from central funds has been grotesquely inadequate—one penny in the pound out of the total spent on education. Now there is to be an additional £3 million over the next two years, mainly to local authorities for buildings.
I know the procedure in respect to the ordinary boys' club. One, with which I am connected, has just been promised a grant from the Ministry of Education of some £5,000 towards the £30,000 cost of new premises. What would be the position of a non profit-making company, such as the one I have mentioned, which ranks as a charitable organisation? Should we deal with the local authority or can the Ministry assist us from central funds? Another difficulty arises from the need for speedy decisions when suitable premises are available. I am going to Leicester on Saturday to see the Director of Education and perhaps make a decision regarding premises which have been favourably reported, but I understand that grants can be given only against schemes not yet started. If we buy these premises, we shall not be eligible for grant. If we wait for grant, we shall lose the premises. Is there some way of getting over this difficulty? In our view it is better and cheaper to take over and, if necessary, convert suitable premises, than to wait two or three years for them to be built. The need is there now and the need is nation-wide.
Five million young people with time on their hands ask for something to do, not quite knowing what they want to do, but certain that it is not what most adults think they ought to be doing. Money is needed, certainly, but in my view by far the greatest need is understanding, imagination and enthusiasm. I hope that we shall be told to-night that in spending the little money which has been promised, the Government intend to use to 697 the full all the enthusiasm and imagination they can rekindle and inspire in the voluntary organisations. I hope that this debate will help in achieving that objective.
§ 4.54 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHICHESTER
My Lords, I hope the fact that there is only one speaker from the Bishops' Benches—and, I might add, a very inadequate one for this purpose—does not argue arty failure to recognise the importance, as well as the interest, of this Motion which the noble Earl, Lord Arran, has propounded to us. At the beginning, he said that he was taking us for a walk ten years into the future. Other noble Lords suggested that that future was an uncertain one: that, in fact, it was a matter of solvitur ambulando. There is an uncertainty, and I think that it would be a pity if, in any sense, this debate ranged round the question of how much leisure would be obtainable in ten years' time than there is now. There is more leisure to-day than there was for the majority of people a generation ago, and there is the problem—the very interesting problem—of how this leisure should be spent. If we have not yet reached the leisure of a 4-day week, many people do enjoy a 5-day week, which brings them the leisure to perform the duties which I should like to propound to them.
This leisure has to be spent in an age in which, whatever else is happening, we are becoming more mechanised, when there is a process at work which, on the whole, makes less and less physical demand upon us, and in which certainly we are not going to become less urban than we are, less surrounded by the conventional setting of bricks and mortar and streets, and perhaps not less sedentary in our occupations. In view of that, I welcome what the noble Viscount said in his reference to the realm of physical activity. And in view of the high cultural level at which so much of this debate has been, it seems as if I might almost apologise, as a Bishop, in propounding this as a first priority. I cannot resist doing so, for physical activities in their many varied forms will surely be recognised as not only enjoyable and health-giving in themselves but as conducive to real and valuable qualities of character. Battlefields and playing fields may not really be associated together on all occasions, 698 but at least we should all acknowledge that there are some benefits in sport and physical activity over and above their actual immediate effects. Here is one fact which we must admit and which no doubt will be referred to later in the debate which has reference to the Albemarle Report.
There is such a wide gap between what is available through the educational system of the country proper and what is acceptable to those same boys and girls or young people afterwards. It has been reckoned by the Council for Physical Recreation that only one-quarter of the boys and girls who passed from school to working life in 1958 will now be taking any part in regular physical activity. If that is so, no doubt it is partly through lack of facility, but only partly so: lack surely also of example and encouragement, for they will be going into a community which does not itself take a very active part in physical things. They encounter that immense paradox, already referred to, of a nation devoted in its interests to sports, a nation whose newspapers at least would suggest from the very start that this is one of the primary considerations of human life, yet in which relatively few people have any real participating share.
Of course, we must be thinking not of these young people coming from schools only in that setting, for after all, youth is not so separated from its elders. It will take its cue from them in many ways. In an age when a greater range of sport and recreation is possible, in an age, too, when perhaps health and vigour remains with us longer than it did before, we can acclaim the fact that there is an increased interest in sport and in those wider varieties of sport in which in recent years (as the Albemarle Report comments), apart from athletics and team games, there has been a great development—such as climbing, hockey, riding and canoeing—which perhaps used to be the monopoly of a few people. We should all welcome a proper extension in these varied fields to a far wider public.
The question is: how much public community encouragement is needed for that to take place? It has to be recognised that many of these activities are expensive in their equipment and preparation. They can be made 699 possible only by a considerable community action, otherwise they do not remain free for all or even for a large percentage of the community. Moreover, they need more than material provision; they need coaching, training and encouragement. It is easy to say that keen people will find their way into physical recreation anywhere: boys will pick up a bat or a football in almost any conditions. I think the games that have been fostered in back streets and on the slagheaps of our industrial towns will be for all time a triumph of man over his environment. But, on the whole, human nature is sufficiently lazy not to pursue anything to the point of real, deep enjoyment or excellence unless the facilities for it are made easily accessible. Many will not make a start: many will not persevere, to any extent, unless they have been coached or trained. It is not enough to provide the water or to take the horse to it if he is to drink. Surely nothing but a much greater provision of public facilities in this field will develop what we must all want—namely, a healthy, active people in an age when the more passive and receptive forms of amusement are so rife.
Reference has been made by the Government speaker to a report that is expected soon from the Central Council of Physical Recreation. It comes under a good name; it comes after a survey; it comes of the present condition of sporting facilties throughout the country, and it will speak with a great weight of expert knowledge. I am sure we all hope that the Government will receive that report, when it comes, with sympathetic attention, and listen to its recommendations.
There must inevitably be a great deal of repetition in a debate of this kind, for my share of which I hope your Lordships will grant me indulgence. There is one field which I was glad to hear touched upon this afternoon and which has been almost entirely absent, for instance, from those attractive surveys which have come out under the political Parties dealing with this age of leisure for living and its challenge to us. Perhaps those publications, comprehensive in themselves, raise largely the query: how far do the producers desire or intend to implement them with full public backing? I noted that there was only 700 one small reference, and that a rather grudging one, to what the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, referred to earlier—namely, the question of books. To those who have come to find their value, that is surely one of the most precious and enduring expenditures of leisure one can find. It should be one of the greatest legacies which education at school can give to a child: that he or she should go away with some beginnings of an appreciation of what is locked up in the realms of gold through which they can travel in the book world. It would no doubt need some pressure to begin, but it is something which is an activity. It is not a passive amusement, but something which you can carry with increasing vigour and interest into later years, and will always provide much food for the mind and much stimulus to the imagination.
We would say that to-day this country is almost a literate country. Yet we are also asking ourselves: what are the uses of that literacy to which we are submitting ourselves at the present time? The libraries of schools are a very heartening sight: they are not always full of books or of people, but they are full of promise. Yet to move out from them into the world outside is to move out into a world where reading is on a very sad and elementary level. The Crowther Report says that over half the secondary modern school boys and girls have belonged to a public library during their school years, but only 16 per cent. of them still belonged two years after leaving school. No doubt there are many reasons for that. It may be that we blame television too hardly. The Nuffield Foundation, to which reference was made earlier, has promoted some researches into the effect of television on boys and girls and their reading which are, on the whole, rather encouraging. It is true to say that the researchers felt that, on certain specialised areas of study, at first to the young viewer reading receded into the background for a time, but for most of them this balance was righted later; and there were many instances where the right kind of television programme stimulated a healthier appetite in better reading. We may even sometimes have to come to Hamlet by way of the play or film; but still, we may come that way.
701 But not all television or reading which can Abe submitted to them is an ally to this, what should be, growing use of leisure with which they are to some extent equipped when they begin. A great deal, for instance, of magazines for the young men and women in their 'teens breeds a view of life and a habit of reading which would be disastrous if it were carried on very far. A librarian has shown me some of this lately—it not being my normal literature—and the subject matter of these books is trivial in the extreme. The way in which they are portrayed is rather through pictures than letters, and one is bound to feel that there is an obvious commercial interest behind most of them which perhaps defeats any true reading objects they might have.
Those who handle the great media of television and the Press have an immense and heavy responsibility in a coming literate age. If the criterion is to be a commercial one, then it would be almost better if they could not read. No doubt we cannot expect the reader to graduate from "Westerns" to Shakespeare easily, but I should like to ask your Lordships in what ways could the community, through the home, through schools, through authority, and in what ways by spending as well as by example, try to lead these potential readers into some conception of the enjoyment and the profit which could be theirs if they could only be brought to persevere? Do we give in this age of growing opportunity enough to the public libraries which are doing such splendid work? I notice that it is a common complaint of many officials of libraries that their value is underrated by some local authorities. They claim that 75 per cent. of the central municipal libraries in the country are in the veteran class of buildings; and, although one would not judge a library by its outward amenities any more than one judges a book by its cover, yet its outward appearance does count, and it suggests how much value the community puts upon this exercise. We welcome the report to which reference has been made on this subject. If there is any question whether some local authorities are too small to foster and develop the varieties of public library in the way we should like, I hope that that question will not be solved in terms of local pride, but rather more in librarian's efficiency.
702 There is one particular question to which I should like to address myself for a moment, since I was invited to do so partly by the noble Earl who moved this Motion. The challenge of leisure, as it has been termed, is clearly a challenge not only as to how it is spent, but what it is for, and whether there is such a thing as the good life possible for all citizens which it should serve. Hitherto this has been a question, as many of your Lordships have shown, which has applied only to the few. Now we hope it is going to be one for the many. When work occupied the bulk of a man's time, his leisure was mainly a matter of rest and recuperation, and to be judged largely by its value in terms of that. We talked more then of the gospel of work as the activity of his life in which man would mostly express himself. That is still true; and we hope, indeed, that it will always be true that, through his work, his personality and his contribution to the community will find their best utterance. But in the meantime, if it is only partly true now, and if hours of work do grow less, or even if the nature of that work becomes more repetitive or automatic, then the time and the uses of leisure will more and more decide what manner of a man he is to be.
Leisure is surely something more than recreation. It is something in terms of the good life. Within our own culture there is the classical ideal of the all-round man—physically, mentally, æsthetically active. It is embedded in much of our education, and it was the purpose of a great many of the independent schools of the last century. It will be extended, and should be, as education extends, even though at times there has been perhaps a disproportionate imagination for the physical prowess in the all-round man. It would be disastrous if this conception of the all-round life were lost under the pressure of a technical or industrial society. Therefore we would all welcome the extension of those facilities, in sport, art and thought which might speak to the many-sided nature of man.
But, my Lords, there is one danger, is there not, that we might in this process revert to a purely pagan idea of the good life. It is this that is disquieting about some of the pamphlets about leisure, and some of the utterances about it 703 which we see in print to-day. Leisure ought to include the whole man, and not only the cultural man but the spiritual man. It is only fair to point out that, within their limited field, many churches, and voluntary organisations sponsored by them, have sought to cultivate for their people a round of activity in which physical recreation, social fellowship, instruction, have their places alongside the more specific religious exercises. There is a famous Rugby League side in the North of England known as "Wakefield Trinity," which traces itself back to the football side of the local parish church from which it originated. I have always imagined that another still better-known football club, known popularly as "The Saints," is not of divine origin but comes from ecclesiastical beginnings. Some of these things have proceeded from the initiation of the Church, and we may not always have done it well. But that is not the real point. The point is that these have been aimed at a fully balanced view of man and his leisure. Had my distinguished predecessor, the late Dr. Bell, been here, as undoubtedly he would have been on a debate of this nature, he would have taken up the way in which the Church through the ages has been indeed the patron of the arts, and how to-day it is returning to that link trying to restore the partnership between the two to which he himself contributed so much in his own life.
In a more prosaic way I would say the Churches are doing something in what has commonly come to be called the realm of stewardship—that is to say, trying to maintain that religion is not one specific aspect of a man's life outside which he is at liberty to pursue with complete independence any other occupations he may like. It should supply the motive and the basis of it all. Therefore, we are asking them whether their religion does not impose upon them a kind of duty in the spending of their time or their money, or the balance of capacities which nature has given them. That is along the right lines of this approach to leisure as leading to the full man.
What I would ask in the name of the Churches in this respect is not only some acknowledgement that this is not a new 704 question for us, but one in which we have been trying, and hope will continue to try, to serve the community. What is sometimes lacking in so much official literature and, alas! in so much local planning, is the recognition that this proper use of leisure which they have in mind will include the possibility, especially for younger people, of religious inquiry and experience and some chance of digging into the fundamental questions of life itself. Can this be taken for granted when we think of the spending of leisure? As an example, a long memorandum from one local authority dealing with the needs and provision of those needs in cultural and æsthetic ways for youth, made no reference to the spiritual aspect of life at all. If only such bodies could see that the Christian religious organisations are allies in this field, then I think we could be making a more concerted action on what is going to be this increasing problem. Leisure, as your Lordships have recognised, is a two-edged weapon. It is surely our duty as a community not only to provide some of the means to enjoy it, but also to safeguard a proper ideal of the full human life which we ourselves have inherited from our own past.
§ 5.18 p.m.
§ BARONESS SWANBOROUGH
My Lords, like other noble Lords I am very grateful indeed to the noble Earl for having brought up this subject to-day. I am especially grateful to him for having painted such a broad and big canvas, because I think that too often, when we start discussing measures of this sort, we get restricted to our own ploys and our own methods of procedure and lose the strength of the vision of the whole. I must acknowledge that my own contribution to-day is very pedestrian, because I have approached the subject entirely from the point of view of how individuals would use their free time, which to me means their leisure time, in order to steer themselves towards a fuller and a happier life. In doing this I have taken what I think the majority of ordinary human beings would think as regards the use of their leisure time and I feed it would be to welcome the fact that they have an opportunity to read, to play, to think, to create, to enjoy, to test, to study and all the other things that leisure time can mean. I do 705 not agree with the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, who said that education for leisure should start in school: I think it should start before a child can speak, with the way its mother begins to make it understand there are things worth watching and things worth playing with and things worth listening to and doing.
I believe that a mistake all of us make is that we do not recognise that training for leisure can be carried through by every single human being if he would play his part. I speak as one who has witnessed the use of leisure on a mammoth scale, many millions of hours a year, and I am not frightened by the talk of increasing leisure time to come. My experience lies in the direction of women who sometimes do not know they have leisure but who, on having an opportunity made for them to use time which they perhaps could find, begin to realise that there is something they might like to do. And from many years of watching this I recognise that the first responsibility one has in regard to other people's leisure is to make available to them the information of what there is that they could use their time for, and allow them in every case to select for themselves what they want to do. My experience is that a woman will first of all examine, then select, then undertake, and subsequently will be so interested in what she is doing that she will make further time, in fact fabricate the leisure, to acquire the skill with which to carry out what she originally selected as the occupation of her leisure time.
This makes me realise that leisure is a very strange commodity, a commodity that most people do not even know they have. Arid very many have little knowledge as to how much they possess. I wonder if your Lordships actually know how much leisure time you each have. I am not a betting woman but I should be ready to lay a small bet that everybody thinks he has much less leisure time than actually he does have. Leisure is like life itself. It will be used by humans in just as prodigal a way as they will use their lives, and I feel that leisure, like life, must not be interfered with by outside people. What we are discussing to-day is surely how the background for greater ability to select one's leisure time occupation can be prepared. I would reiterate what the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said: that one of the greatest 706 leisure time occupations of this country is in the gardening field. It was started by men of all kinds, and a few women, too, selecting the occupation for leisure time. They either had, or had to make, the opportunity, that has come to be a great cult, the cult of the British gardener. If you take American friends to see a village vegetable and flower show, they invariably giggle, and from their point of view it is a childish way of starting a great enterprise; and yet to-day we cede to nobody in the world in the field of gardening and horticulture. All these things have stemmed from the original interest of the men and women who devoted their little time of leisure to gardening and out of that interest vast commercial interests have grown.
I feel, after listening to this debate, even more strongly than I felt before, that leisure is a very personal thing. It belongs to human beings just as their thoughts or outlook or any other of their personal possessions. In order to use leisure, quite obviously the human being must have his understanding of that usage developed. But because leisure is such a very personal belonging it should not be interfered with; it should not be regimented. I personally hope that those who are responsible for starting any enterprise in this direction of leisure time will select the people who are to steer it on the basis that the qualification should not be a paper one or a diploma, but the possession of wisdom, sagacity and a depth of understanding.
§ 5.25 p.m.
THE DUKE OF ATHOLL
My Lords, I hope you will forgive one of the younger Members of your Lordships' House occupying your time for a moment or two, because I feel that this problem is of even more concern to what I might describe as my generation than to the generation of some of those who have already spoken. I am very grateful to my noble friend Lord Arran for giving me the opportunity to say a few words on the subject.
I, too, am rather depressed by the problems attached to leisure. I think it is all bound up to a large extent with the problem of boredom and loneliness which your Lordships have frequently discussed in relation to old people. I, too, like my noble friend who introduced this Motion, took the suicide rate as an 707 example. When I was up at Oxford we were almost proud of the fact that Oxford had the highest suicide rate of any town in Great Britain. This is entirely due, let me hasten to add, to the gown element and not to the town element.
The authorities at Oxford took immense trouble, somewhat naturally, to try to cut this rate. We were encouraged to go and discuss any problems we had. Nevertheless, it seemed to get worse and not better, and the authorities put it down to fear of examination results. I think that to some extent it was that, but I do not believe this explanation holds water, because other universities also have examinations. The Oxford examinations were differently placed. We had one at the end of two terms, and then our finals at the end of three years. So for a year and a half, very nearly, students had an immense amount of leisure time if they cared to make it so. I think many of them did. This situation, instead of being used to its best advantage, sometimes brought about a sense of boredom and loneliness, and in the case of a very few people this showed itself in the suicide rate. I think that, due to this great leisure, there was a certain amount of unhappiness.
So, my Lords, I am quite convinced that, not in ten years' time, as the noble Lord, Lord Silkin said, but in 30 or 40 years' time, when we are working a 31½day week, there will be a very great problem attached to having three and a half days of leisure. I have taken three and a half days because I think that machinery will have become so expensive by then that it will have to work the whole week, and firms will endeavour to have six shifts of three and a half days each. When this happens I feel that everything possible must be done by the Government, by voluntary organisations, by local authorities, to encourage people to put their leisure to the best possible use. I quite agree with what the noble Baroness, Lady Swan-borough, said: that one must not have one's leisure organised for one; it is a purely personal thing. The people who like to sleep for three and a half days a week are easy to cater for, but I think that the other people, who have excessive energy and wish to use it up, in some 708 way, should be encouraged to use it in a fruitful way, one that causes no one any harm, rather than by going round in the older equivalent of Teddy boy gangs, which I can see arising only too easily if we have a lot of time on our hands.
Several industries have recently reduced their working week by up to two hours, and this, I think, is a start towards that trend. So, while the problem is still probably 30 years away I do not feel it is inappropriate, even if the Motion limits the time to a decade, to look very quickly at it. I would also pause for a minute here to make an allied point, one which is slightly off the main theme of my argument but which I feel is relevant. At the moment, the industries that have cut their working time by two hours do not seriously think—and I am sure everyone will agree—that they will have two hours less time at their factory, or whatever it is. They will merely work two hours more overtime and therefore they will have no extra leisure. But if, in a year or two, we go through a recession (and I do not think we can blind ourselves to the fact that a recession is not absolutely impossible again) presumably the industries will cut down to the bare minimum the hours they need to work. In that case, many of these people will have thrown upon them each week an extra eight or ten hours' leisure in which to amuse themselves, and they will have a lot less money with which to do it. One problem of leisure is that when you have the maximum of leisure you usually have the minimum amount of money. I feel that this is a problem which one ought to consider seriously. I have no remedy at all to suggest for it. I do not think that it would be at all popular to have compulsory savings during profitable hard-working times to help with the less hard-working times. I think it is a problem which we must consider.
I think that one way in which the problem might be lessened when it hits us would be for the Government to consider subsidising to an even greater extent than I know they do already the running and making of such sporting facilities as golf courses, tennis clubs, bowling greens; even ice rinks and football grounds, all of which, I feel, keep people off the streets and prevent them from 709 feeling bored and just wandering aimlessly around. I think they could also help by de-rating libraries—and I should like to add by de-rating historic homes; but there I might be considered to have rather a personal interest. I should like to assure the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, that in Perthshire, at any rate, many children from all the schools are brought to look round historic homes which are within easy reach, and they are taught their history in those homes. I think that as a result they probably have a much greater appreciation of history; it does something to make them appreciate that history is not just something to be learned at school and forgotten the moment one passes the appropriate examination. I think this is an important point.
I also feel that if it is thought that people should use their leisure as they like, the Government should be encouraged to do something about the restrictive laws by which they are restricted on one day of the week. I should hate to see Sunday made like any other day, but though you may have to work "flat out" for six days a week, in the North of Scotland you can do nothing on a Sunday because the local cinema, the local municipal tennis courts and other things are not open. All you can do is to bathe in the sea, and even that is frowned upon by some of the local people. I think that this is something that ought not to be encouraged, and that we ought to have more toleration for people who come from other parts of the world. I do not feel that Sunday is a day on which it is wicked to do anything which entails going outside your house other than going to church. Therefore, I would ask the Government to look at all the Sunday Observance laws.
I saw from the papers the other day that the organisers of a charity football match were fined because they charged gate money on a Sunday—and this regardless of the fact that none of the players was paid and all the gate money was going to some charity. I think that this is something which the Government would do well to look into, and that in 1960—and even more so when we reach 1970—such laws ought not to be tolerated. If people are good enough to give their time and services on a Sunday in aid of charity, I cannot see why they 710 should not be rewarded. Having said that I am slightly frightened by the problem of the increased leisure of the future, I should also like to say how much, like everyone else, I welcome the thought of increased leisure. I am sure that when the time actually comes the British people, being what they are, will find a way to put it to much more profitable use than the more gloomy among us anticipate at the moment.
§ 5.35 p.m.
§ BARONESS RAVENSDALE OF KEDLESTON
My Lords, in speaking to Lord Arran's Motion to-day, in whatever way we look at it, whether it is in regard to ten years' time, or less, or more years, the problem has to be faced; and, as we are all agreed, leisure hours come down to education. It has already been seen that you cannot organise leisure. What frightens me is that there is a tremendous tendency to-day, in the earnest desire for all these improvements, to have a blueprint on everything, in all fields of welfare; to straitjacket people, old and young, into a mould: to say that you must have a course of instruction for the obtaining of a degree, or a one or two years' course to train you for such and such a branch of welfare work.
To me, the whole pattern of life, as I see it to-day, is to reduce individual thought to what you want to do with your leisure hours. We are brainwashed from morning to night by the Press, radio, television and I.T.V., so that human reason is being dethroned, and we prefer to become automata in a mass-group thinking, because it is so much less trouble. Thereby, we are reducing our ordinary intellectual operations so that we shall not think for ourselves. As has already been said by other noble Lords, we are becoming a nation of watchers. We watch activities, whether it is in football, boxing, cricket or tennis, rather than take part in them ourselves. I think that professionalism is a terrifying bugbear which we are all up against; or, alternatively, we are living, alas!, on a second-hand level, with also the bloodless monster of specialised technology hanging over us.
Therefore it seems to me that we need a light that is released by the creative energies and talents within every child and adult. Those latent talents are rarely findable in the mass ant-like existence, 711 for example, in these vast new housing estates which have already been mentioned. It is all very well to talk about the cost, which I appreciate, of buying good books, but if one reads the statistics in relation to the new tenement estates, whether of Coventry, Stevenage or anywhere else, it is terrifying to find that there are no good books about. One sees only cheap and sexy magazines and novels in those flats and houses. There is no furniture from a loved past heritage, no handicrafts adorning a chair or a hand-embroidered bedspread or quilt for the beds. How do you educate for leisure in those surroundings? It seems to me that you have to start again from scratch, and make the coming generation see that the true use of leisure must have foundations that are spiritual and intellectual as well as material.
Again, it has been said already that leisure hours must have in them a sense of fellowship and comradeship, because it strikes me, alas!—although they have been quoted enough this afternoon—that the age of hobbies is dead, and we must therefore participate in a new process of comradeship. But again we have to be told how to start. Youngsters to-day are frighteningly hemmed in by organisations, and we have heard already this afternoon that they kick violently against being controlled or organised in anything. We all know that, from our work in youth clubs; and, equally, the Albemarle Report repeats it frequently enough. We are highly personal beings, and I contend that personality must be planted again, and we must revive the enthusiasm which existed in the old craftsmen and women and the country folk of the past era.
I am not at all sure, either, that home life helps towards the healthy employment of leisure. Family life has been "clocked-out of", so far as I can see, and no one is ever in the home, except to look at television. Relaxation is taken outside, in cheap entertainments and half-baked amusements — all spurious stuff. Countless people to-day do not enjoy their work; hence the great importance of making them enjoy their leisure. Equally, they do not really enjoy that, because they have nothing much to do and nowhere to go, because their jobs have not demanded that they 712 shall find further uses for their brains, or how to develop manual skill. Hence the dislike of suggested hobbies and collective games or sharing in activities.
Soviet Russia knew perfectly well years ago the problem of employing leisure hours, and all of us who have been there have seen the pleasure parks and Halls of Culture. That, again, has a political bias and is organised. As I look to-day at what goes on in films of violence and sadism that only excite further restlessness working against leisure or quiet, I have come to the conclusion that the need for the good employment of leisure hours could be helped all over the country by volunteers in new housing estates, whether they come from the clergy or welfare bodies, interesting the community in social activities, bringing up new ideas and new plans. Only—as has been said before—there is the need for a community room in which people can meet to discuss these subjects, without having jazz and rock-and-roll records in a corner bursting one's eardrums.
I entirely agree, too, that we should use the great modern inventions, B.B.C. and I.T.V. television, and I have no doubt that if Her Majesty's Government had in their heads a plan for this terrifying future, if only they would ask these bodies to help in instruction I am quite sure that they would not fail us. For look at what those great instruments of modern invention have done to help in publicity in the World Refugee Year. Although the noble Baroness, Lady Swanborough, loves her garden, I still contend that something more is needed than a gardener on television, telling us weekly how to plant a dahlia in a teapot—useful as that may be.
I still feel we could evolve countless activities that could be learned through these modern media—and use them we must. They are of immense power for good or evil. The Ministry of Education instruction broadcasts in school can all be brought into a scheme for employing leisure hours. We have already heard of the countless efforts made, whether in youth clubs, the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme, or the countless other plans and ideas. We need, finally, an overall comprehensive vision of how to exploit the vast new field opening up before us, before we slide down the scale 713 of civilisation into an earthy mould that is totally unworthy of the soul the good God has given us.
§ 5.46 p.m.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, in the ten years that I have had the privilege of being a Member of your Lordships' House it is certain that there has been no subject debated by your Lordships about which I am better qualified to talk than the best use and pursuit of leisure. It is also doubtful whether in my remaining years, which I hope will be many, I shall again have an opportunity of talking about something which, through the good fortune of the accident of birth, I have been privileged to undertake and study. Other speakers have said that leisure is something entirely one's own affair and that one does exactly what one wishes with it—and long may it remain so! Indeed, one does not need to have to do anything. Sometimes one can just do nothing—and sometimes it is very nice, too. There is a story, no doubt apocryphal about the distinguished Charles James Fox who on a summer's day was passing the time sitting idly in the shade of a tree in his garden. Beside him was a book. A lady called, a rather fulsome lady, who said, "No doubt in your very busy life there can be nothing more pleasant than to spend a little time lying in the shade with a book," Mr. Fox replied, "But, Madam, why the book?"
I believe that it is entirely legitimate to spend one's leisure as one wishes. The field of activity of leisure is vast and I suppose, if the truth be told, covers a multitude of sins. I believe it is true to say that with the increasing standard of living which this country so happily has been enjoying—and we all trust will continue to enjoy—the leisure pursuits and habits of very large numbers of people will change, and that what we have up till now considered leisured pursuits, perquisites of the well-to-do, will become those of great masses of the people. To give but one example, it was only a short time ago that ownership of a motor car was considered the hallmark of the prosperous and well-to-do; yet to-day very large numbers of working men and women can and do own a motor car. They buy it, I imagine, under the misguided impression that they are going to get a great deal of pleasure from driving about the roads of this country.
714 Here I should like to make my first constructive suggestion on what Her Majesty's Government might do to provide facilities for the enjoyment of the people of this country. If they want to give a great many people greater pleasure, they will continue, at a very much increased rate, to build some decent roads for the millions of motorists in the country to drive about on. I believe that if people have more money to spend and more time in which to spend it—though possibly it seems a little doubtful from the course of this debate whether they are going to have more time in which to spend it—they will tend to be more interested in what they do in their off hours. I believe that for family people, the visit to the public-house or sitting on the sands on holiday at Margate or Blackpool—though admirable in itself—will not be sufficient. People will want to do more with their leisure hours and holidays.
I should like to think that what until recently have been considered purely the rich man's pleasures will become those of very large numbers of people: that riding, shooting, fishing and yachting will be not for the privileged few but for the many. Indeed, on yachting I think proof of that is shown in the enormously increased popularity each year of the very newly introduced national boat shows, and very many more people are taking a wide interest in this very admirable and healthy outdoor activity. Equally, I feel the same about riding and shooting and fishing. I myself do only one, the last of those three, but they are all admirable in their way and provide healthy oudoor exercise. As another approach to the way in which Her Majesty's Government might give to the facilities for pleasure, I should like to see the Ministry of Agriculture ensure that this country is criss-crossed with bridle-paths for those who wish to ride, and that the hedgerows are well stocked with game for those who wish to shoot; and, last but by no means least, that the rivers of this country are clean, unpolluted and full of fish.
I said earlier that people are fully entitled to do nothing, but I believe that nearly all would find that very unsatisfying. If I were to introduce a motto for the use of leisure hours I think I would say this: if a thing is worth doing it is worth doing badly. 715 It may sound a little strange but I think it is true. What we want to get out of life, particularly out of leisure hours, is fun and enjoyment. In this connection, I think that the words "leisure" and "pleasure" are virtually synonymous. If you get fun out of a thing, it does not matter if you do it badly. Again, I can speak only from my own experience. I play tennis and—though alas! I do it no longer—I used to ride. But I do both abominably. I broke the heart of the chap who tried to teach me tennis, and frequently fell off my horse. If I had said to myself, "You are no good at either, therefore don't do them," I should have missed an enormous amount of innocent pleasure out of my life. So I say: if you like to do a thing, do it as hard as you can—it does not matter very much how good you are at it—and you will get fun from your pursuits. I think this might be applied to a wider field.
I was most interested by what the noble Viscount, Lord Esher, had to say about the arts; but I believe that what we want to do is to get fun and pleasure out of life and to acquire a habit of hobbies. He talked of grand opera and of the very modest subsidy it received. I believe that if we want to get people interested in grand opera, we must first get them interested in musical comedy. We cannot introduce people to Wagner without initiation. I do not say always, but I think that in many cases people who begin at a very low cultural level will soon find their art and cultural appetites satisfied in the stronger meat; from musical comedy they will go on to light opera, and from light opera to grand opera. I am quite sure that in any cultural activity people should begin at a low level, and if a particular activity is their forte they will rise as they become accustomed to it and learn more about that particular art.
It is the same with reading. Here I would not altogether agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Ravensdale of Kedleston. There is no better recreation than reading, and there is no hobby more worth while cultivating. In times of stress, toil and grief it is to books that one can turn in the certain knowledge of finding comfort and consolation. But the important thing, particularly in the formative years, is to learn 716 the habit of reading. I would certainly draw the line at horror comics, but I learnt my reading from E. Phillips Oppenheim, and gradually, by degrees, I acquired higher tastes and started to enjoy other criminal books of a higher level, such as Crime and Punishment. But the important thing is to get the habit, and if you like it you will find after a time that you will not be satisfied with the second-rate and third-class, but that your mind demands more and better subjects to bite into.
I have talked very largely about outside pursuits. That is partly because so much more has been done for cultural and indoor activities. There has been set up a widespread and comprehensive system of public libraries, and, indeed, of art galleries, in this country, and much money has been spent on acquiring pictures to hang in galleries, both in the capital and in the provinces. Many of these works of art have been plundered from previous owners. I should like to take up the "culturals" for a moment with my noble friend Lord Hailsham. Those who heard him speak will recollect that he made some allusion to the grant of £25,000 of Her Majesty's Government to Liverpool Art Gallery for them to acquire a Rubens.
If I may digress from the subject of this debate, I should like to say a word about the history of this picture. For many centuries it belonged to my family. Some years ago, about fifteen years ago, my father had nowhere to hang this particular picture and so, being a keen Cambridge man, he lent it, naturally free of charge, to the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge, where it hung for something like fourteen or fifteen years and was no doubt very much enjoyed by the inhabitants of Cambridge and the surrounding area. Then, much to my regret and grief, in order to pay the death duties that followed upon my father's death, I was compelled to sell this picture. It is now going to Liverpool. Liverpool's gain is Cambridge's loss. But it seems a little hard on the population of this country that they should have to pay £25,000 for Liverpool to gain a picture which was previously on view at Cambridge and which, but for death duties, I should like to think was still in the Fitzwilliam Museum. It is hard that in order to meet taxes I am compelled to sell my 717 picture and, through taxes, am then compelled to buy it back again. But I have talked long enough about my particular grievance.
I should like to say how much I appreciate what has been done by successive Governments in providing the facilities for the enjoyment of leisure hours. That, to my mind, seems to be the keyword: the provision of facilities. Let there be no interference with what we call leisure hours! For Heaven's sake! as has been said, let us have no Ministry of Leisure, no Ministry of Culture, and, above all, no Ministry of Sport. But what I think is the Government's rôle in this field is to see that the legitimate leisure pursuits of the population in this country are given adequate facilities by the Government. And may I ride one more hobby horse and say a word in support of my noble friend about gardens? I personally get more pleasure from gardening than anything else, and I am somewhat appalled by the large blocks of flats that go up throughout the country, built by local authorities, which are such that many of the people who live in these flats will find it very hard to indulge in gardening. We are a nation of garden-lovers, and I would urgently press the Government to see that the example now being put forward in the Gorbals district of Glasgow, where big blocks of flats are being built, each flat with its own garden, is widely pursued in other parts of the kingdom. People do love gardens, and to be deprived of a garden is to many citizens a very serious omission. I apologise for taking up so much of your Lordships' time. May I end by congratulating my noble friend and kinsman on his courage and foresight in initiating this debate?
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ LORD LUKE
My Lords, I am sure we have been delighted by the speech of the noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire, and during the course of it I felt that I should scrap what I was going to say and start again. In view of all the references to gardening, I might tell some of my own gardening experiences, but I will tell those in private, probably on another occasion. I must apologise for not being here at the start of the debate and for missing some of the earlier speeches, including that of my noble friend Lord Arran, to whom we are grateful for having introduced this debate. It was in 718 every way a subject which could give the widest scope to all of us, and I have found great difficulty in confining myself to one, or at the most two, aspects of it. I could speak for a long time on playing fields and such kindred subjects, but I think your Lordships have heard me speak on that before, and so on this occasion I am going to desist. But, in passing, may I say how glad I am that the question of facilities for recreation has been mentioned by the noble Duke, the Duke of Atholl, and the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester; and the National Playing Fields Association is naturally most concerned in that, as are Her Majesty's Government.
I want to confine myself to a subject which has been dealt with to-day—that of what I call the occupational leisure for the growing-up members of the community. We have heard a good deal about the young people and their affairs. A great deal of consideration has been given to the subject, and I would say that in the Reports that we have had recently there have been great thoughts and considerable vision. Much has been spoken about the subject, and many practical efforts are in operation. We all know about the Crowther Report; the Albemarle Report; the Wolfenden Committee on Sport, which has not yet reported but which we have heard about; the Carr Report on Apprenticeship; the Report to the Dulverton Trust on the Leadership of Youth, and the Report by the Templer Committee on a Commonwealth Youth Trust—and I have no doubt that there are others.
But what is perhaps not quite so well known by your Lordships is the practical measures which have also been going forward. There is, as we know, the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme, which has been going for some years now; there is to be a Commonwealth Technical Training Week for apprentices in 1961; the Minister of Defence has suggested that the Services might take some part in the Youth Service; an organisation known as "Service Overseas" has been successfully started; and more Outward Bound Schools have been launched. I give those examples merely because it might be thought that we have had only a series of Reports and nothing else. I hope that the Reports themselves will be productive 719 of schemes which can be launched in due course.
To my mind this problem (and I think it is common property) divides itself into two separate parts—and I am now speaking specifically of the young people: those who are still at school, and those who have left. And yet the problem to a great extent becomes the finding of a bridge. How do we help our young people in their most difficult period—that is to say, the period when they are leaving school; when they are growing up; when they are growing into the community; when they know best about everything, and when they want their independence from home as well as from school? Our energies on their behalf must concentrate on arousing and maintaining their interest—a most difficult problem, because they really want to find their own interest and not have it second-hand. But, for all that, I feel that we have a duty towards them: and the way to do it, in very large measure, is to make them feel important; to make them feel that they are growing up to become useful members of society; to make them feel that they are doing something that is useful and that is wanted. If there was a war—and we know it only too well—the energies of youth, of young and old, would be galvanised into action of some sort. We saw it. Surely it is not beyond our powers in peace time to galvanise into action that latent energy, and to guide it into channels where it can be usefully employed.
As I have already said, a start has been made, and the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme is one of the best-conceived plans of our time. I hope it will not be out of order if I suggest that the thought and study of His Royal Highness on this and other aspects of the very problem we are discussing to-day are making a great contribution to its solution. I mentioned other practical efforts, but there needs to be a basic framework for the development of young people between the ages of ten and twenty if we are to avoid the disjointed and unco-ordinated scene which confronts us at the moment. We already have the excellent work of the uniformed organisations, which provide just what is needed up to fifteen or sixteen; but after that they lose their members. These 720 are a valuable supplement during the school years. But the schools themselves ought to come closer to the pattern of boarding schools, where there is time and opportunity for all the extra-mural subjects which make so much difference—and we know what that difference is. These subjects can be obtained by those not at boarding schools in a much more sporadic way in our youth clubs and youth centres. The subjects are the same, but the system is different, and could be changed with advantage. I know, of course, that there are obstacles. There is the lack of teachers and there is the lack of training for teachers; but I hope that this aspect will be given serious thought.
Then, as to the age group fifteen onwards, National Service is ceasing. All those boys and girls require opportunities, let alone facilities. In addition to the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme, we have Outward Bound Schools, which are doing excellent work in the training of initiative, and the "Service Overseas" scheme. But none of this is enough. I understand that the Minister of Defence is keen that the Services should make a contribution, and that a scheme will be forthcoming. The watchword must be service to the community as the essential ingredient for success—service to the community in crisis or in emergency.
My Lords, there is a pattern in all this. Up to sixteen there should be training and testing for useful service. Over and above that age, there should be a definite demand for those services, for which young people have been trained—service that will be useful to the community and which will bring responsibility in its train. The training period will need to include, as it does now, first-aid, life saving, fire prevention, and all those things in which youth likes to take part. The second period, for the over sixteens, will need more organisation, and it may well be very much more complicated. But it has been suggested that the Civil Defence Corps should be renamed the Civil Emergency Service, and should be open to anyone over sixteen with suitable qualifications. This Service could have the widest possible range, each section linked to its natural parent body. For instance, the Inland Water Rescue Section could be linked to the Royal Life-Saving Society; the Beach and Sea Rescue Section could be linked to the 721 Coastguards; the Auxiliary Fire Service Section could be linked to the National Fire Service; the Forest and Heath Fire Patrol to the National Fire Service and the Forestry Commission; the Mountain and Moor Rescue Section to the Royal Air Force; the Auxiliary Traffic Control Section to the Police or Traffic Wardens, and the Ambulance and Hospital Sections to St. John's Ambulance Brigade and the Red Cross—and I am sure there may be others.
There we have an opportunity for linking the young with what they are learning at school and with what they are going to do in useful service to the community after they leave school. There may well be formed a council to co-ordinate rescue and emergency activities and put the whole scheme into operation. Whatever is done in this direction or in other directions in this connection, there should be the overriding principle of a bridge being built for young people to prepare them and train them for their future usefulness to society. Then, most important of all, there should be opportunities for them to render that useful and responsible service.
What I have said up to now is in the sphere of voluntary service, but I do not minimise the fact, and we must not forget, that those who prefer to take part in sports and outdoor recreation in their spare time should have equal encouragement and training. A great advance needs to be made through such existing agencies as the Central Council for Physical Recreation and the National Playing Fields Association in the provision of coaches on an expanding scale and adequate space in which growing numbers can practise their skill.
But I promised at the beginning that I would not go on with the subject that I have now started. I hope that this debate will be the forerunner of many on the subject. I do not think that we can cover it in just one debate, although we have gone on for some hours and a great many contributions have been made. There are so many aspects which I believe could well carry many more debates. I hope that both in the voluntary sphere and, if necessary, through legislation, everything will be done to assist all worthwhile schemes that may be started now and in future and keep them going.
§ 6.13 p.m.
§ LORD BIRDWOOD
My Lords, there do not seem to be many crumbs left for a late speaker. I should like first to add my gratitude to the noble Earl who has raised this question, if only for the fact that recently we have had many kinds of explosive material to debate in your Lordships' House and it is pleasant to be able to relax perhaps and tackle a subject which demands thought and contemplation, rather than heat and controversy. My own contribution, I would insist, is one of humility and inadequacy after the many valuable contributions that have been made.
I should like to put the problem in a wider context than the national context. I am assuming that there are always two sets of contrasted social conditions in direct opposition to each other. If we regard all social progress as a matter of balancing always a rising economic standard of life and a rising standard of education, it follows that a social progress which is fundamental rather than superficial is defeated if those two elements in progress get out of step. Seen in that light, the two conditions which would defeat true progress are, first, when education races ahead of the standard of life, and, secondly, when, in contrast, the economic standards rise and education proves inadequate to cope with the new wealth that has arrived—the kind of situation that is familiar in some of the new wealthy oil countries sprinkled about the world.
In the first condition, where education is going ahead, the problem of leisure hardly arises. What happens, it seems to me is that the seeds of social and political unrest are sown. It has been said, I think with some wisdom, that it does not matter very much being poor if you do not know that you are poor. The trouble begins when you have that degree of education which enables you to notice that your neighbour next door has a little bit more of this world's goods than you have, and it is in this condition that social unrest is fomented and perhaps a community may turn to Communism. Yet we are wise to keep this debate within national bounds and I certainly propose to do so, but I would remind your Lordships that this problem of leisure is not one that applies only to press-button production civilisation: it applies equally to people living in the 723 jungle. As many of your Lordships know, it applies to those agricultural areas of the world which we recognise as under-developed, where most of the community, half the year round, in between crop rotations, sit down and have nothing to do whatsoever.
Nevertheless, the question as it confronts us is the latter paradox to which I referred, that which is found when the toys of civilisation start to arrive before there is the necessary educational background to show us how to play with the toys. Very naturally, I think, many of your Lordships have pointed to the sphere of the appreciation of the arts, and here I would mildly challenge what the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, said when he asked the question: have we responsibility for future taste? It is not so much a matter of regimentation, as the noble Baroness, Lady Swanborough, said, but surely it is a matter of continued guidance. As we are reminded, the Arts Council grant has gone up, owing to what is referred to as "the spavined horse", and there is a total of some £8½ million now to encourage the arts, as compared with £1,600 million spent on defence. But that is not always going to be so, and the point I want to make is that if more money is available, rather than devote it to the production end, channelling it through the Arts Council—and here I agree wth what the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, had to say—we should put it into the schools, with the long-term objective that the new generation may one day want more than at present to live with the great art creations of the past.
The noble Duke referred to the music of Wagner. If you are really to understand and to revel in the glory of that great contrapuntal movement which occupies the last 100 bars or so of the Meistersinger Overture you have to be told about it at school. And that applies whether you are listening to Verdi's Requiem or looking at Rembrandt's pictures. I have spoken of the part education has to play in pointing the direction of leisure towards feeling our past heritage, but what about the part of education when we consider contemporary achievements—the work of Picasso, of Schõnberg, of Corbusier and of Henry Moore? It is not for me to question the validity of such artists, but 724 I submit that here the rôle of education becomes slightly different. In this case, I would suggest that the public could be expected to control as much as to accept. That certainly requires a lot of education and development of the critical faculty.
Three months ago I was wandering round the new Guggenheim Exhibition of Modern Art in New York—that astonishing building on which a lot of money has been lavished to house some 180 pictures at a time, of which pictures some 80 per cent. are completely unintelligible to the public. I would say that at least half a dozen of the pictures could only have been painted in two or three minutes of indiscriminate brush-waving and slashing. What was the reaction of the public? So far as I could judge—and I was just as much interested in the public as in the pictures—their minds were a complete blank: they went round those pictures just as motor components go round a factory belt. Why? I reasoned it out as being because there was a generation deprived of the education either of appreciating the past or of criticising the present. I have often wondered if we, the public, when we see these great big glass matchboxes going up in the City, passed off by the architects as what is known as "pure form," should not be allowed to voice our opinion and influence the growth of the City. Then, in contrast, one realises that there are too many people around who just do not care; and again one has to admit that something has been wrong in education.
I would entirely agree with the noble Earl, Lord Arran, that education cannot by itself teach us how to use leisure. The use of leisure is a matter between man and his maker, as Robert Louis Stevenson reminded us in his Apology to Idlers, and as apparently Charles James Fox knew also. But what can be done is to provide the facilities and the encouragement for those many thousands whom we regard as in a state of mind both responsive and receptive. The point I hope to make, which is the point made also by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, is that those facilities should begin in the classroom in primary and secondary education. Only in this way, as I see it, will a new generation be prepared to accept the increasing responsibilities of idleness which I insist are inherent in the age of electronics ahead. 725 Personally, I have no time for the "angry young men" who look back in anger seeking an alibi for their own failures, always blaming the older generation or blaming anyone except themselves. A world of achievement in the whole field of social service awaits anybody who cares to look for it, and it will continue in that way. The greatest social parasites, as I see it, are those who dissipate their leisure in unproductive introspection, aimed as often as not at the latest political obsession of the day. But there again, may they not have taken a different turning at the age of eighteen (shall I say?) had they been shown the imaginative possibilities of leisure at school?
What about those who are not at school? The noble Earl referred to the predicament of our own generation. What about their needs? They are just as obvious. As I see it, our ability to make the toys has completely outstripped our ability to use them; and this is dismally apparent in some of the manifestations to which the noble Baroness, Lady Ravensdale of Kedleston, referred—a great increase in crime, litter around the streets, prostitution and a loss of social dignity. I would draw attention, paradoxically, to what the Danes are doing, because the noble Earl referred to Denmark as particularly suffering from the disasters of leisure. The Danes, as I understand it, have tackled the problem in a thing called the folk school system, which extends the normal facilities of primary and secondary education to any adult who cares to make use of the opportunity. I I do not know the details, but I understand that adults, men and women, can take a fortnight's holiday in a pleasant holiday resort and can volunteer for a free course in any subject of their own choice at a normal Government school. I wish that some such system might be considered in our own country, because surely we have come to the point when we accept mere ignorance on the most frightening scale. One hears of adults who do not know the name of the capital of Australia or the Prime Minister of India, and where such ignorance prevails one shudders to think how leisure is used. Providing the facilities to learn may not make much difference to such people immediately, 726 but it would tend to isolate them, to bring them, in their own interests, to seek enlightenment and to make them better citizens.
I think I have said enough to indicate that I am in a general sense supporting the greater rôle of education in the task of tackling leisure. I could hope that as a result of this debate there would be a lot of hard thinking in the Ministry concerned, and that perhaps possible action could follow. If I may close on a philosophical note, your Lordships have spoken of the facilities which the Government should provide to use leisure. I do not think that implies a mad rush round the museums, the concert halls and the picture galleries; but what it does suppose is the ability to regard leisure, as I think the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, said, as the opportunity to rest. The noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, who I am sure we all wish could have been here to contribute to this debate, has said this:Rest is necessary to achievement. You can do less, but you can effect more.I should insist that unless increasing leisure includes the implication of real rest, and the desire for real rest, then our Western civilisation is perhaps drifting to a dangerous and a very uncertain future.
§ LORD STRABOLGI
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, perhaps he will allow me to ask him two questions arising out of his most interesting speech. If I understood him aright, he said that he objected to some of the pictures in the Guggenheim Museum in New York because they were executed very rapidly. Does he mean to say that a work of art increases in value according to the amount of time spent on it? And if so, how does he explain away the drawings of Rembrandt? Secondly, I understood the noble Lord to develop the argument that Picasso's work was not appreciated and was out of touch with the public, in which case I wonder how he would explain the fact that this particular artist's work in reproduction, from postcards to large coloured reproductions, is a most valuable and thriving commercial proposition, as they sell in their thousands to ordinary members of the public.
§ LORD BIRDWOOD
I am afraid I was so busily listening to the first question and noting it that I did not quite 727 catch the beginning of the second question. But in regard to the time devoted to some of the pictures in the Guggenheim Exhibition, I can only say this that a picture—and literally there is such a picture—which consists of one brown splash of paint one way and two brown splashes of paint the other way cannot be comparable to a picture (shall I say?) of a Leonardo sketch which may have taken the same time.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, I wish to intervene for a moment, partly to make a point which I do not think has been made in the discussion this afternoon and which seems to me to be of some importance, but more especially to thank the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, for what he said about the extension of time at the British Museum. I have had correspondence with him on this matter on behalf of the teachers in the universities, who have been upset by the little amount of time which they get for research in that great Institution, the British Museum. I am very grateful to him for the gesture which he and the Government and the Trustees of the British Museum are making in this regard. Of course, it is not leisure. In a way it is part of the work of the researcher; nevertheless I am grateful, and I am sure the university world as a whole will be very grateful, to him.
The other point is this. There has been a tendency in this debate all the time to look at this matter from the point of view of youth. It seems to me that one of the great difficulties of our times is the leisure of the aged, because expectation of life has now increased so much that there are tens and even hundreds of thousands of people over seventy with a great deal of time yet no effective way of spending it. We elderly Peers can come to your Lordships' House and spend our leisure in that way. I was taken with one of the definitions of leisure which the noble Marquess produced from the Oxford Dictionary—the time that we have off from our regular occupations for doing other jobs. For most of us that exactly describes the time which we spend in your Lordships' House.
But there are a large number of people to-day in this country in the seventies 728 who seem to have no effective method of spending their leisure time at all. During and immediately after the war, I had to visit, on civil defence and other similar duties, a number of parks and places kept by local authorities in the North-Western Region of England, where continually I was seeing 30, 40 or 50 very old men just sitting looking blankly; and all one could say was that they were waiting for death. That sight made an ineffaceable impression on my mind, and I have felt ever since that time that it is time that—I do not say we thought less about youth, but that we thought a good deal more about what we can do to make the old age of these people, who have served the community so well in the past, rather more dynamic and more positive than it obviously is at the present time. I hope that this aspect of the matter, which is of great importance, will not be overlooked.
§ 6.33 p.m.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, conscious of the time, and of the fact that your Lordships also are interested in the use of leisure, I do not propose to spend very long in the remarks I have to make. The noble Earl, Lord Arran, will already be aware of the gratitude of the House for raising this matter, and not least, if I may say so, for the charming and rapid way in which he did so, which was particularly acceptable.
Of course this is a vast subject. It is one which we are all too conscious will hardly begin to be touched by anything we have to say. I am tempted a little to follow the example of the noble Viscount, who gave us once again one of those interesting philosophic studies which are such a charming contrast to his more polemical moods. At the end we discovered that he was all for leisure, as I think we all are. But in this subject of discussing leisure, one wonders how well qualified we are to do so, because if we are interested enough to discuss it, presumably we have already found enough interest to occupy our own leisure. The problem which has come out of this discussion is that of the people who, through lack of training, education, opportunity and facilities, are not able to make use of it. We all have our particular tastes. Personally, the first thing I do when I have some leisure 729 is to go to sleep, and I suppose the greatest part of human leisure activity is spent in sleep. Perhaps the next is eating, neither of which subjects is suitable for discussion to-day.
I should like first of all to disagree with some of the remarks made by the noble Baroness, Lady Ravensdale of Kedleston. I hope that she will forgive me. I have known her for many years and have a great admiration for her, but I do not believe that we need be so gloomy about the subject We are not a nation of watchers. There are far more people doing things—far more people reading books, and as the Duke of Devonshire said, far more people yachting; and this change is running right across all the social classes. As the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, said, the old concept of the leisured class has gone. It is the use of leisure by all members of the community. When it comes to hobbies, one only has to see the astounding commercial success of the do-it-yourself departments in large departmental stores. In fact, people are keen to do things for themselves. The only practical hobby I have is cooking, and I am sure that far more men cook to-day than did 50 years ago. Therefore I should like to start on a wholly optimistic note.
I agree with my noble friend Lord Silkin in questioning the amount of leisure there is. As the noble Viscount said, there is no question at all that in fact the hours we are working—the general hours of the community—are as great as they have been. There are a number of women, and married women, who are going out into industry and commerce, working part-time. But there are important changes. The rise in the standard of education, which people are apt to say is what we need, has, in fact, created tastes. I believe that the people to-day have their lives better organised. As housing conditions improve it is more open to them to make good use of their leisure. Also, the development of the five-day week has provided a longer period at the week-end. All this has been aided by the motor car and other methods of transport. There is no doubt that there is far more active participation in what might be called leisure activities than there was in the past. When it comes to the future, I think it is quite certain that in time citizens, whether in 730 a free or, for that matter, regimented State (because in Russia they will have it done for them) will choose at a certain point in their life, instead of taking extra pay, to take it in the form of increased leisure. All the time now in industry—and I speak from some experience on the personnel side of industry—we hear discussions on this question: the extension of the five-day week, even the development of what might be called the Sabbatical year, a compulsory three months after fifteen years, which is part of the legislation in Australia. I think the time may possibly come (I do not know whether I go so far as, I think it was, the noble Duke, the Duke of Atholl, who talked about the 3½-day week) although it is very far ahead, and certainly not in ten years, when only the most privileged will be allowed to work. But I doubt whether we have reached that stage. Those who are not so worthy will have to occupy themselves with golf, or whatever it may be.
One could go on analysing and philosophising in this field, but I should like to refer again to this question of the rôle of the State or the rôle of the community. I do not think we want to be over-sentimental or over-anxious. We all know perfectly well that we do not want the State telling us what to do in our leisure, or, indeed, in our working time. At the same time, we hope that the community—and it is through the efforts of Governments and local authorities that it will be possible—will make it possible for people to do things which they might otherwise be prevented from doing. Whether it be by the State or by the voluntary bodies, facilities have to be provided—recreation centres, buildings, and so on. Even an orchestra: no individual can himself create an orchestra; he may, if he works very hard, succeed in playing in a good one, but he cannot himself create it. One has to rely on the State, and of course the State has done it in many other countries. There are also some aspects of artistic activity which do not suffer from considerable State regimentation. I would, for this example, quote the ballet, which is perhaps rather regimented but has flourished under conditions which we should not say was a free society.
I hope that not only the Government but local authorities will recognise their responsibility a little more. Here again 731 the performance is extremely patchy. All local authorities, as the noble Viscount said, are enabled to spend up to a 6d. rate for the provision of arts and other allied activities, but very few of them spend anything like that amount of money. It is very necessary that it should be done by local authorities and not just by the Government. I would go so far as to say that I believe that this will become part and parcel of the politics of the future. I am not trying to turn it into a Party political issue, but I can well imagine an Election one day being fought on whether or not, if not to buy a Rembrandt, at any rate to provide a civic golf course or something of that kind. There is no doubt that in local authorities there will be need for councillors and others who are well aware of all these aspects of the matter.
There is one side of the support of leisure activities which has not been discussed but which is mentioned in the Albemarle Report, and I should like to refer briefly to it, and that is the part industry can play in this field. The Report says:We welcome industry's interest in young people and would like to see it extended. We think in most areas the best help can be given by contributing to and taking part in local activities rather than by creating a smaller group within the community.I entirely agree with that, but very many communities are lacking in these facilities at the moment. There are a number of names in industry, Guinness, Courtauld's and others, who have become known as patrons of the arts and as contributors in this field, and I think that this is something that, until local communities face up to it, industry ought to do.
I hope your Lordships will forgive me for referring to the activities of my own particular firm, which I will not name. We employ between 10,000 and 15,000 people. I wrote down a list of all the activities which we develop, subsidise and encourage. We reckon it is good business and that people like it. In addition to all the obvious things such as cricket, football, tennis, squash and riding, we make it possible for them to enjoy ski-ing, mountaineering, gliding and yachting. Why should not people have this opportunity? The difficulty with many individuals, when they leave school or the university and perhaps 732 move into a new area where the community facilities are not developed, or where they have no friends, is to find some of these friends at work and to take part in community activities of this kind. It is, of course, an essential thing that they should not be judged on their participation in these activities. It should not be judged as a virtue to them that they should do it. One has to be careful not to be too virtuous as employers and lament when people do not use these facilities. The essence of the free approach is that you should provide the facilities and encourage their use.
The same applies in the arts; we take a box at Covent Garden. We provide all these facilities including facilities for the greatest art of all; that is, fly fishing, which I have included in the arts side and not the sports side. I think this is a side that ought to be considered, and I hope that the new Wolfenden Report, dealing with a more happy subject than the old one, which will come to the Central Council of Physical Recreation, will have some suggestions to make on it. It is, for instance, of great interest to see the still halting approach of industry to the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, about which the noble Lord, Lord Luke, spoke so well. It is a most interesting development. Somehow industry and the community must become aware of its responsibilities in these matters. We have had a good deal of talk about support of the arts. I would only say that this country's record in regard to support of the arts is niggardly in comparison to that of other countries. I will not join argument with the noble Viscount on the question as to which Party offers the most; it was my noble friend Lord Dalton who first, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, contributed rather more considerable sums than had been provided in peace time before. This is one of the admirable developments. I am glad to see that there is this increasing recognition of responsibility.
I should like particular pressure to be put in the direction of outdoor, physical and sports activities. The Central Council for Physical Recreation, about which again the noble Lord, Lord Luke, spoke, is one of those admirable institutions which has started on a good basis. Again it does not attempt to regiment; it merely provides facilities. The other morning I went to my club and tried to play 733 squash, only to find—it was Saturday morning—that it had been borrowed by the Central Council for Physical Recreation. I am sure co-operation with people who have facilities, co-operation with industry, and, above all, some increased funds for the Central Council, will pay hands clown. Their last Report is worthy of quotation. They say:Like a swimmer poised for the plunge, a sprinter crouched on his mark, a show-jumper rearing to go, the Central Council of Physical Recreation awaits the findings of the Wolfenden Committee on Sport.This splendid hyperbole, which I am sure will appeal to the noble Viscount, is a measure of the enthusiasm which exists in this field.
It is not only confined to the obvious sports. It includes all sorts of activities, particularly what might be called adventurous activities. Their mountain centre at Plas y Brenin in Snowdon, where we send some youngsters from our firm every year, to which many local authorities send people, is an admirable institution. There the young, some of whom have never seen a mountain and have never camped out in their lives, suddenly get a taste of adventure. Somebody says, "Would you like to go?", and they want to go; and once they have gone a whole new world is opened up to them. I would ask the Government particularly, in keeping in mind all these manifold demands and requests that are made, to bear in mind the encouragement of adventurous activities, individual activities. People from the universities can go off on expeditions, and it is a rather ironic commentary—some talk about people being less adventurous in the Welfare State—that it always seems to be those who are most secure financially who are prepared to be the most adventurous. It ought to be open to many people to find enjoyment in hills and mountains.
They have got to be taught just a little. They have to be, not, I stress, regimented; but it is possible to kill oneself on a mountain in England, and many people do, and it is possible to do a lot of damage on the way. It is essential to provide facilities of this sort, as the Central Council for Physical Recreation and a number of other bodies do I think it is a positive and hopeful and happy field. I do not think it is one we need be gloomy about, and I am 734 certain that it is a matter on which we shall have many debates in the future.
§ 6.50 p.m.
My Lords, I think it was my noble friend Lord Hailsham who compared the Motion of the noble Earl, Lord Arran, to a dinner party. The noble Earl gave us a most delightful soufflé. We then had strong and very good meat from the noble Lord, Lord Silkin. We had the pudding from my noble friend. He described it as "duff", but I think your Lordships will agree that he pulled out some very nice plums. We have had the sweet, and we have also had the fruits of knowledge from all parts of your Lordships' House. I am afraid that it now falls to me to provide a little port to go on top of the repast. I am afraid that its vintage may not be all that is to be desired, and that at times I may have to stop to pull out just a few odd pieces of cork that may have found their way into the vintage that I have.
In the course of this dinner party it has been made quite clear that the opinion of all sides of your Lordships' House is that there should not be a Ministry of Culture or any sort of Government ministerial body which will dictate how one is to spend one's leisure time. That is quite certain. So far as hobbies and leisure are concerned, it also seems certain that gardening is the number one hobby in your Lordships' House, and I am quite certain that that hobby is obviously shared by countless millions of people up and down the country. What a grand thing it is that that is so! Following hard on the heels of gardening, it would seem that reading is the next most popular form of spending leisure time. But immediately we get into a controversy, with the right reverend Prelate on the one side, describing the sort of books that he believes we should read, and the sort of thing that the noble Duke understands are read up and down the country, on the other; and the noble Baroness, Lady Ravensdale of Kedleston, also referred to these types of books. I hope to come back to her point in a moment or two.
I think we all agree that education plays a primary part in helping to enjoy the fruits of leisure. That seems to be the opinion on all sides of the House, and I hope to show that Her Majesty's 735 Government have done great things in this field, and that the proof will be shown in the next few years, when the fruits really begin to make a showing in the field of leisure. The Albemarle Report has been welcomed on all sides of the House. Her Majesty's Government have accepted the recommendations of that Report and are in process of putting them into operation. Then finally, I most certainly want to echo the feeling expressed by everybody who has spoken, that there will be a great part to be played by the voluntary bodies in all phases of leisure for the people of this country. Again, your Lordships have paid great credit to the part that is being played by voluntary professional bodies all over the country with regard to social services.
I said that I might pull out one or two small pieces of cork which may have got into the vintage. But I think it only fair to say that Her Majesty's Government have had in the last few years to put first things first: it is a question of priorities. The Party of noble Lords opposite, when they were in power, were faced with the same problem. This problem was to put back the capital and recover the expenditure and destruction of two world wars. We believe that we are well on the way to achieving that object. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, who has had to leave, said something about the difficulties of producing capital, labour and jobs. There we believe that we have achieved a great record, with record production, record exports and, above all, record savings. A new Report has just emerged giving record statistics in the health field, which surely must be one of the greatest boons in regard to leisure that ever there has been. Then, the questions of smog and the fouling of rivers were introduced by the noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire. Her Majesty's Government are pressing on with those two terrible' problems; but there is a long way to go yet.
It is quite certain that we cannot have a holiday unless we have the money in our pockets. Anybody who takes a ride on the dodg'ems, or goes to one of the holiday camps we have heard mentioned, cannot possibly do so unless he has already balanced his books at home. Nevertheless, we believe that this is the 736 time to take stock of the leisure that is available.
There seems to be great argument as to whether there will be more or less leisure. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, had one idea and the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, had a rather conflicting idea; and my noble friend Lord Salisbury had, I think, yet another idea. Nevertheless, if any of your Lordships were to go to the replay of a football match (especially with the Cup Final coming on in the near future), or to a weekday race meeting, you find that the number of people who have the leisure and time to attend those functions is extraordinary. There are people from every walk of life, many of whom, one must admit, are people one would think would be the last people able to go to such functions and to spend so much money thereat. I personally believe that there will be more leisure. People will be able to choose what sort of leisure they wish, and when they will be able to take it. For that reason, in the next few moments I beg to put before your Lordships some things that Her Majesty's Government are doing now and have already done, and hope to do in the future (my noble friend has already mentioned some so I will not deal with those), so that the people of this country may put to good use this leisure when it comes their way.
My noble friend Lord Salisbury endeavoured to define leisure, as also has the noble Baroness. I think my noble friend made a good job of it with the use of the latest Oxford Dictionary. I suspect that the next writer of the dictionary will say something like this; that it is the choice of being able to do something without being told to do it. When one thinks of it, that is a considerable choice and not one that we are very frequently blessed with. One could say also that sometimes one sits and thinks, and that at other times one merely sits. That, too, is not a bad definition of leisure. The noble Marquess and the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, also mentioned travel, and how that is becoming more widely taken up by people in all walks of life. That again is another record for which Her Majesty's Government have to a large extent been responsible, by policies carried out with great care over the last few years. A record number of people have been 737 abroad, not only in cars and aeroplanes, but with bicycles and on walking tours, charabanc tours and the like. As has been said by the noble Baroness and by my noble friend the Duke of Atholl, that is an encouraging sign.
Her Majesty's Government believe that education is the key to the problem of learning to use one's leisure and for the last years it has been the priority in this field of the Government. When we see that education is now running at £740 million a year, and will in the very near future be rising to £1,000 million, perhaps that gives an idea. Another way of expressing it is that in 1951 it was 3 per cent. of the national product, while to-day it is 4 per cent. of a very much greater national product. I believe that that is a good record for maintaining a priority which we firmly believe will pay off in the very near future.
The noble Earl, Lord Arran, spoke of the importance in his view of questions of education. He went on to speak, as did the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, of inquisitiveness. I suspect that many of your Lordships were soundly beaten or cuffed across the ear for showing too much inquisitiveness, and I fancy all such matters are best left in the hands of competent schoolteachers, both masters and mistresses. When education was discussed there were those on both sides of the House who said they would like to see more technological education and progress, and others, on both sides of the House, inevitably, who would like to see more in the arts and the so-called "liberal" studies—though I believe there are none of the latter left in your Lordships' House to-night. It is the task of Her Majesty's Government, and particularly of my noble friend Lord Hailsham, to see that a balance is reached in these subjects, especially when parents are paying higher and higher taxes in order to pay for this education. I believe it is fair to say that the taxpayers will want to know that their children on leaving school will have a suitable skill when they, the parents, are paying so heavily to furnish and equip our schools.
Much has been made, too, of adult education which is, of course, a very large part of the problem of leisure and what to do in leisure hours. We have heard that the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, will be introducing a debate on this 738 subject but I should like to say to the noble Lords, Lord Stonham and Lord Silkin, and to my noble friend Lord Salisbury, who wore somewhat disappointed over adult education, that last year 170,000 students enrolled through the various bodies who carry out adult education; and Her Majesty's Government granted roughly £664,000 towards the cost of adult education. There is definitely a trend towards more part-time students here. It is the same story with evening classes. There are now more people attending than ever before.
Here I should like to give hope to the noble Baroness, Lady Ravensdale of Kedleston. In the 8,300 establishments in England and Wales offering such courses there are 1 million students, and of that number 610,000 are women, most of them taking some form of domestic subjects, like cooking or dressmaking. Apparently, that can be laid on the step of television, for it can be shown that whenever a particular series of television programmes comes on, interest in such subjects is increased. In view of these figures which have been brought out, I feel that the noble Baroness is a little despondent. I am quite certain that anything any of your Lordships can do to encourage people, especially young people, to take up evening classes or day-release classes, will go to bring great fruits for leisure in the near future.
We have had some argument, as sooner or later there must be, on the question of art; and it would have to be on the question of traditional against the modern art school. I imagine that the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, would not ask for public money to be spent, necessarily, upon the "Bicycle Pump" school or the "Breakfast Cereal" school—though on the other hand he might wish to, for those are highly thought of in certain circles. But it is equally certain that if he did, the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, would resist to the end; and no doubt other noble Lords would carry the battle along with the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood. The noble Viscount, Lord Esher, was very sceptical about what Her Majesty's Government and education authorities in particular were doing in regard to art, but let it be said that there are 179 art schools, sponsored by local education authorities throughout the country, with 312,000 full-time students and 38,000 739 part-time students; and at the evening classes which I mentioned to the noble Baroness, Lady Ravensdale of Kedleston, art is by far the most popular single subject taken. I feel that the local authority, that is, the local ratepayer, and the taxpayer, through the block grant (which used to be the direct grant), have been rather unfairly treated in the course of this debate. They have put their hand deep in their pocket for the sake of art, and especially for the teaching of art and the teaching of future art teachers, which I believe is even more important.
The noble Baroness had much to say about the type of books that are read, and the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester also had his ideas on the kind of books which should be read and the books which should be kept in libraries. This cannot really be a question for the Government. I do not believe any of your Lordships would like to see censorship or sponsorship of any kind, either of the Press or of authors or of book publishers. There are certainly most difficult facets of decency and so forth which are provided for, sometimes more and sometimes less. But it is always a subject of controversy. I would say, however, that the 13 million readers who are established throughout the lending libraries must be a better figure than the noble Baroness realised when she said we were rapidly becoming an illiterate country. I can only say that in one of the new local authority estates I have been in a library centre which was certainly a magnificent building, with excellent books, and I cannot but believe that there are many others, up and down the country, and that in the near future there will be many more.
Sport has received less attention from your Lordships—a fact which I consider most surprising, especially in view of the technical difficulties which are involved in sport to-day and when there are so many experts on the subject in your Lordships' House. Her Majesty's Government will be awaiting the private Report which is to be submitted by Sir John Wolfenden which is no doubt awaited also by sportsmen up and down the country. Personally, I feel that sportsmen will really have to put their house in order. There is this interminable difficulty between amateur and professional 740 which must be sorted out, and if the Report from Sir John Wolfenden can do something to clear that up, a very great stride will have been made. I will certainly make to my right honourable friend any representations from your Lordships which will help towards that end.
Both the Socialist Party and the Conservative Party have produced booklets upon leisure in which sport is one of the central features, and here both Parties are united in recommending in these reports that some kind of Sports Council should be set up. I understand that it is very much an arguable point, and I should be disappointed if we did not hear your Lordships' views about it. But this, again, will be brought forward by the Wolfenden Report. I feel, my Lords, that we have to get used to the idea of some form of public payment towards the sports in the same way as to the arts. The noble Baroness, Lady Ravensdale of Kedleston, mentioned the arts and the great palaces of culture in Russia. Russia and all the Iron Curtain countries spend vast amounts of their public money upon sports and upon training. Somehow, this country should provide public money for that purpose, if we believe, and I am sure we do, along with all the other countries of the world, that sport is a great prestige winner and prestige maker, and, at the same time—though it may sound a conundrum to say so—a great winner of friends throughout the nations, in spite of the competition which sport engenders. But, my Lords, until we forget the idea of the amateur and the professional as it exists in this country to-day, I am sure we shall have the greatest difficulty in progressing further with sport, and we shall await with great interest this Report from Sir John Wolfenden.
The noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire, was the only one of your Lordships to mention the field sports; and I could not stand at this Despatch Box to say I had managed to find ways and means of persuading my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, an ex-fellow master of hounds, to find some form of subsidy towards fox-hunting. My noble friends from Scotland, who are not here, and my right honourable friend the Prime Minister would say the same with regard to shooting, and so it would go on right 741 through the whole field of sports. Nevertheless, the great triumphs that have come to this country in show jumping and other equestrian sports, in the Olympic Games, the great prowess of our marksmen (it is a pity that the noble Lord, Lord Swansea, is not in his seat), the prowess of our swimmers, the prowess of our runners on the track, the first runner of the mile in four minutes—my Lords, all those great credits to this country would seem to point to the direction of some form of assistance and help in the same way that other countries give help to their athletes.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, may I correct the noble Earl? He may not know, but the Government do support all those activities, except hunting, through the Central Council of Physical Recreation.
My Lords, I am very well aware of that and in half a moment I would have explained it, in case noble Lords would think me unduly pessimistic. In fact, Her Majesty's Government give a great deal of help and support to all these bodies by means of the Physical Training Council, of which His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh is President. We have heard of this Council from many noble Lords, but especially from my noble friend Lord Luke, and Her Majesty's Government appreciate very much the great work that they are doing.
I will give just an idea of how this works out. The sum of £126,000 is granted direct to the Central Council for them to spend in the best way they see possible; £12,000 goes to the governing bodies of various other sports in order to promote coaching and for travelling expenses and so forth; and £236,000 (these are direct grants from my right honourable friend the Minister of Education) goes towards community centres, village halls and playing fields, all of which take a considerable part in the training of sports and games of all types. Then the local education authorities, as my noble friend has already indicated, are paying a very considerable sum on behalf of the ratepayer towards sports and swimming pools and all the other many activities with which the Council I have just mentioned is concerned.
The Albemarle Report has been welcomed on all sides of your Lordships' 742 House. I should like only to echo what my right honourable friend said in another place on how much importance is attached to the voluntary bodies up and down the country. We have heard of a new scheme, and a novel idea from my noble friend Lord Luke, and I have no doubt that the Council that my right honourable friend has set up, the Youth Service Development Council, will look with interest at such a scheme in the near future. I have no doubt that the same Council will consider the novel and rather different type of scheme which the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, put forward, and if they can gather the support of local authorities, especially in the areas where they wish to take their activities, then that gives them still more reason to obtain this increased support which Her Majesty's Government have promised.
In my right honourable friend's own wordsSome bodies will be receiving more grants"—these are probably for headquarters and so forth—other bodies will be receiving grants for the first timeI am sure that that must give great heart to the noble Baroness, Lady Swanborough, who was thinking of all the many voluntary people whom she knows up and down the country who do so much work on her behalf.
My Lords, have done my best to cover most of the points that were raised, and have certainly covered some of those raised by your Lordships on each side of the House. If, however, the task has proved impossible—and I fear it has—and there is anything upon which I can help, perhaps noble Lords will write to me and I will let them have an answer at the earliest date. I have done my best to review Her Majesty's Government's work in this field of leisure, and I hope that the little pieces of cork I have pulled out have helped the vintage, which is not a bad vintage as a record for help to both the sports and the arts—the liberal studies, so called—over these last years. I should like to end by thanking, on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, all those chairmen and secretaries, whether paid or unpaid, coaches, both professional and amateur, and group leaders up and down the country who 743 have been contributing so much to make possible the social service that leisure requires at this time.
I should like to ask my noble friend Lord Arran and his friends in the newspaper world (I am sorry, as I am sure many of your Lordships are, that there are not more newspaper representatives in their seats to-day) to publicise the successes of these people and of those who take part in all kinds of youth service. I should like to see their successes in the world of sport publicised also; and I should like to see encouragement given in every possible way through the medium of the Press of the country. I think we must stop the backbiting that goes on sometimes in the pages of the newspapers. We need advice, yes; Her Majesty's Government will consider advice. All bodies need advice, all bodies need criticism. But, my Lords, it is public support and public encouragement that is wanted if young people who think themselves, and who are in their own eyes "rounds", are going to take their places in what they consider are at present the places of the "squares" which the noble Lady and the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, mentioned; that is, in the clubs and places where we should like to see them to-day. And I hope, my Lords, that my noble friend Lord Arran will help us to do something in this line in the near future.
§ 7.20 p.m.
THE EARL OF ARRAN
My Lords, as the only Press Lord without a Press, I must say how sorry I am that more full-blooded representatives of that estate are not here. Nevertheless, I am sure that they will pay great attention to what the noble Earl has told us. I have little to say, except that I am proud indeed to have provided the stimulus for a debate such as we have had this afternoon. I had the feeling that I was starting something, and indeed it has turned out just like that. My intention was simply to pose the problem in general terms, and to leave others with wider and more experience than I to find the answers. 744 This they have done, but in such a variety of diverse and contradictory ways that point is still given to my original suggestion, which seems to have got rather lost: that the best authorities should be gathered into a committee to have a look at these things.
I was impressed by what the noble and learned Viscount and the noble Earl told us about the Government's efforts on the practical side; and I am sure that a Socialist Administration would have done much in the same direction. But I do not think it is a matter for the Government, except, as noble Lords have so rightly pointed out, in the provision of facilities. That is why I still admit to a little disappointment that the broader problem is to be considered in bits by various ad hoc committees, rather than as a whole. Perhaps the Government, or a subsequent Government, may one day come round to my way of thinking.
Meanwhile, I feel much happier after hearing the speeches of the noble Lords and Ladies. It was particularly encouraging to hear the noble Baroness, Lady Swanborough, say that she was not afraid of the future. If she is not, with her experience, there is probably no need for us to be, either. The right reverend Prelate also gave cause for hope. He made it clear from what he said that the Church is seized of these problems, and that it is determined to see that the spiritual side will not go by default. The noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire, has pointed out that if a thing is worth doing at all it is worth doing badly. I am glad to think that perhaps this Motion is badly done, and with your Lordships' consent I should now like to withdraw it.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.