§ 2.20 p.m.
§ LORD STONHAM rose to call attention to the Youth Service; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, through the kindness of noble Lords and noble Ladies who have informed me of their intentions, I am in the happy position of knowing that I can safely leave to others the consideration of the present position and the future needs of our great traditional youth organisations—the Scouts and Guides, the denominational youth associations, the large number of boys' and mixed clubs, and the growing network of local authority organisations. In one way or another, I have been associated during my life with all of them—except the Girl Guides—and I give place to none in my appreciation of their invaluable work, or in my admiration of the dedicated people who devote their lives to them. It ought not to be necessary, but, when so many voices are raised in criticism, it is necessary, to say that the youthful members of these organisations are as good as they ever were, and perhaps better. At school, at work and at play, they are a credit to their generation and to their country. Nothing should be allowed to impair their strength or development, and nothing that I shall now say is intended to detract from their value or achievements. It is, however, unhappily the case that to-day they serve the minority, and I will now invite your Lordships to consider the development of services for the majority of our youth.
§ In 1958, the Minister of Education appointed a Committee, headed by the Countess of Albemarle, to consider the Youth Service in England and Wales. In that year, the total expenditure on youth by local authorities and the Ministry was less than £3 million—roughly 4d. per head per week of the 3¼ million young people between the ages of 15 and 20. It was not surprising, therefore, that when the Committee reported just two years ago they said that the fundamental needs for an adequate service were money, first-rate leaders and premises. They made a number of invaluable recommendations, all of which the Minister, on the day of publication, accepted in principle on behalf 715 of the Government for Government action.
I would briefly recall some of the most important of those recommendations, and outline the action which the Government have taken. First, there was the recommendation for an emergency training college to be opened by the autumn of 1961, and for an increase in the full-time youth leader force from 700 to 1,300 by 1966. In my view, the Minister is to be congratulated on the complete success achieved in this sphere. He opened his training college in January last year, and at the end of the year 84 students had completed the course; 140 more started this month, and there is already a waiting list for next year's course. Not only will he hit the target, but the college at Leicester is absolutely first-class, in staffing, in the broadly based selection of the right kind of student, in the nature of the curriculum and field work and, above all, because trainees go there to
gain the knowledge, skill and understanding necessary to enable young people to share, as fully as possible in the provision of their own leisure time activities.
The essential "Do-it-yourself" principle is therefore nailed well and truly to the mast.
Among other successes is the Youth Service Development Council, which has met fourteen times, usually with the Minister in the chair. Then last July the requirements for the status of qualified youth leader were announced, and in the same month the joint negotiating committee agreed a salary scale ranging from £680 to £1,000 a year. In all these matters the Minister has taken prompt and successful action in departments where it was badly needed, and it has had an excellent effect on the Youth Service as a whole.
§ Then there was a call for "a generous and imaginative building programme"; for better decoration and equipment of clubs, and for bigger financial grants to voluntary bodies. In response, the Minister, for the four-year period 1960–63, has authorised starts on building projects to a total value of £7 million—and "building", of course, includes furnishing and equipments, if they are approved. Four-fifths of this total is for local authorities, and one-fifth 716 for voluntary bodies. Applications totalling some £14 million have been submitted, so the Minister has decided that there must be what he calls "a controlled rate of advance, and a local order of priorities". The £7 million, I would emphasise, is the total cost of buildings which it is hoped to start during the four-year period. In actual cash, the Ministry have paid £535,000 to voluntary organisations during each of the last two years. This is some £300,000, or roughly a halfpenny per head per week more than the pre-Albemarle figure.
§ Current figures for local authority youth expenditure are not available, but they are thought to be spending substantially more. They are opening more clubs, and they are showing greater willingness to help voluntary organisations with their running costs. I think it is therefore reasonable to assume that, despite the increase in the teenage population and the acceptance of the Albemarle recommendation to include the 14-year olds—and this has brought the total covered by the Youth Service to nearly 5 million boys and girls—we are still managing to maintain an expenditure of 4d. per head per week of public money on our young people. I do not know if that is what the Albemarle Committee had in mind by a "generous and imaginative" approach, but I know that, in comparison with the urgent need, it is tragically and grotesquely inadequate. It just does not make sense that, while Mr. Marples can spend £425,000 in asking 40,000 people how they find their way about London, Sir David Eccles is allowed only £535,000 to enable 4 million or 5 million young people to find themselves.
Moreover, in relation to those young people most in need of help, even these pitifully inadequate funds are gravely misapplied. The Albemarle Committee proved that only 40 per cent. of teenagers were willing to join orthodox youth clubs, which I define as those where the organisation and programme are laid on by adults. But the fact is that, because they are "authority", such clubs, however splendid, cannot make contact with the unattached 60 per cent. of youngsters. They will have nothing to do with these clubs because, in their eyes, the clubs are for "them"
and not for "us". Time and again, the Albemarle Report stresses the need for more help for voluntary organisations, and for young people to be given the opportunity for
participation as partners, particularly in the development of self-programming groups.
They have not been given these opportunities, and in my view they never will be, in any real sense, while only one-fifth of the money goes to voluntary bodies. It is true that some local authorities are running self-programming clubs; but to those young people who most need our help they are still "authority" and, therefore, untouchable.
§ If we cannot make contact, we cannot help: the finest sermon is wasted in an empty church. Unhappily, these young people do not trust us. They do not believe our promises; and their doubts are understandable. If they are promised something they want it soon, otherwise they think it is some sort of swindle. With the present plans, many of those who were teenagers when the Albemarle Committee was appointed will be sending their own children to school before the clubs are built. Is it surprising, therefore, that they do not automatically accept our word or our values? They were born at the end of a war which was to end all wars; yet they are living under the shadow of a weapon which could end all life.
§ They know that the speeches of world statesmen are compounded of truth, untruths and half-truths. They know that these same statesmen, if they were all really determined to make peace, could settle their differences on the proverbial park bench. Ls it any wonder that young people shrug their shoulders at our world and put on another record? Is it surprising that the lives of so many of them are characterised by aggression and violence? How can we speak to them of our moral standards when, until recently, the Church itself equivocated over issues on which I should have thought there could be only one Christian view? How can we speak of morals when a leading Cabinet Minister can say: "If we are to judge each other by moral standards, which of us would remain in the Commonwealth?" How, when we have taught them that money and possessions are the only symbols of success, can we con- 718 vince them that service to others is the only way to true happiness; that we are right when the world which we have created is so patently wrong?
§ No one, in my view, has such a basic sense of justice as a child and it is through this sense of justice that our young people are breaking the class system and the colour bar. But they are sickened by entrenched privilege and conventional hypocrisy. I believe that we can atone for the past only by paying our debt to the future; by showing our readiness to work in the service of youth, without thanks, without place, and without acknowledgement, and our readiness to accept the inevitable disappointments as the price we have to pay for the infinitely greater, but unadvertised, successes.
§ To-day the gap between youth and authority is wider than it has ever been. And since the young cannot bridge it, we must. It cannot be done by telling them: "You are not old enough; you would not know", because, in their eyes, with all we know we have made a pretty average mess of things. So they do not agree that we are justified in insisting that they do things our way or not at all. And we cannot, in conscience, stand on the sidelines and pretend that more than half the nation's youth, the non-conformists, are anti-social. They are very appreciative of what is done for them, if it is done without patronage. But as the citizens of to-morrow they want to be let in to-day on future plans; and, in terms of the future, what we think of them is less important than what they think of us. They say: "Why not tell us what you are doing and ask our help? We are not 'dimwits'. Why not talk with us, and not about us? We are not really the problem that you think we are, but we want to do new things in our way and we need your help in doing them. Why cannot we work together and all be happy? "
§ My Lords, some youth organisations are doing just that. One that is a spectacular success is the '59 Club of the Eton Mission, which is sponsored by the Church of England for totally uncommitted and completely unattached young people. It has 900 members, and a waiting list, and I hope that the right reverend Prelate who is to speak later 719 will tell us more about its work. In another organisation, Youth Ventures, as I believe your Lordships are aware, I am associated with my noble friends Lord Denham and Lord Longford, and I firmly believe that our experience in those clubs points the way.
§ It seems to me that in every hundred young people to-day there are about forty who are really amenable to authority; thirty who are in varying degrees difficult, and about three who are impossible. Those in between can go either way, according to local circumstances. Our clubs are in sizable towns which have very good youth services. We have gone in at the request of local authorities who have found premises which we have equipped attractively. We were invited to handle a problem which the authorities felt they could not handle: not because they were inefficient—far from it—but just because they were authorities. The Ministry of Education paid half our capital costs and we found the rest. We have no endowments, and we do not receive a penny in maintenance costs; so, as far as possible, the clubs are self-supporting—and anyone who knows anything about youth work knows that that is virtually impossible in the context of rent, rates and staff, but that is what we are attempting.
§ These clubs of ours are open seven days a week, and boys or girls of any age group can join, provided that they pay the quarterly fees and a small weekly sum, and agree to abide by the rules which their own club members' committee has drawn up. They pay commercial prices for food and drink—we do not allow any alcohol—and they decide their own activities. For each venture in each town we have an adult executive committee of leading local representatives of the professions, of business and from the local authority. Three of the elected youngsters serve on this committee, which meets rarely, controls the finances and stays as aloof as possible. We have no need to advertise; we were packed from the start with a membership of charming youngsters, almost none of whom had ever been in a youth club before, and including, of course, most of the difficult and all the "impossibles".720
§ This time last year, after four or five hectic, and at times exciting, but always informative, months, I had temporarily to close two clubs. The managers were trained all right but not for this sort of task. The young committees were insufficiently experienced. The violence was such that I had every reason to fear serious incidents. But, to their eternal credit, the Minister, his Advisory Council and staff, were calm and unruffled. They felt that the experiment just had to succeed, so we re-opened. And it has succeeded. We have got through to some of the "impossibles", and they are then the best of all. The sixteen-strong members' committees, eight boys and eight girls—are now experienced and enthusiastic. The managers have what it takes: not brute strength—two of them are, in fact, physically handicapped—but possessing infinite patience, a full understanding of their own weaknesses and those of others, temporary tolerance of violence but without submission to it, and a persistent persuasiveness in the face of malicisious damage, swearing, and general stupidity. The manager, of course, really runs the show by suggestion. He holds the reins and guides, but never uses the whip.
§ I can best illustrate what can be done with these ebullient, unattached youngsters, by the story of one club in an industrial town which we opened fifteen months ago and which has never been closed, despite the fact that the local youth are among the most adventurous and, perhaps, aggressive that we have. Many, of course, have come and gone again; but enough have stayed to give the club a constant 350 membership. The club pulsates with life, unbelievable din and constantly ranging activity. Anyone who has been in a club of this kind and has heard the television set, the juke box and a band all playing in top volume three different tunes, without the young people noticing it, realises what I mean by unbelievable din. It is the rhythm they like. There must be this constantly ranging activity; that is essential to success. There must be something to look forward to in the near future and to encourage your friends to take part in.
§ The young elected members' committee meets every Sunday afternoon for about two hours to discuss the past 721 and decide the future. They record their decisions, such as appointing a committee member to be foreman of the malicious damage squad, and see they are carried out, with remarkably good effects. They have sections which give help to old people and to handicapped and underprivileged children. But they spice their good works with adventure. For example, to get money for old folks they hitch-hiked over the kingdom to Holy Loch, to London, to Dartmoor, to Gretna Green, getting signatures of famous people on a cricket bat. They raised £50 for a Christmas party for 75 crippled children. Every Saturday afternoon they hold a party for younger children so that they are not left to wander round the streets. Although the club has not a single inch of open ground, they run rugger, soccer and cricket teams for the boys, soccer and netball teams for the girls, and teams for table tennis, billiards and darts. You will rightly say that this is done in every other youth club. The point is that these youngsters would not be in a club at all; they would be on the streets. They are only there because they know it is theirs.
§ They never refuse a Challenge, though it is sometimes quite absurd, like pushing a perambulator with an adult in it nine miles in 50 minutes, which wants a bit of doing, or taking part in a 14-mile medley relay. Their team included two girls who did a 2-mile river leg in a canoe, the only two girls among 80 boys. It is not Duke of Edinburgh's Award standard, but it is honest, healthy effort, with blisters and sore feet just the same, and I hope it will not be long before they are participating in the Award scheme. At any one time they can field 70 competitors of a reasonable standard. This thick wad of cuttings indicates what the Press thought worthy to record of these clubs' activities in the last few weeks. They all show initiative and effort. Some are comic, some highly creditable, none discreditable or anti-social. Responsible, interested reporting, which they get in this town, can be a wonderful help and encouragement to the youngsters, just as the other kind of reporting, which seems to dwell on sensationalism and reports things about young people which in my view are unnecessary to be recorded, does a great deal of harm.722
§ Not a week goes by without the members taking an active part in the social life of the town. Indeed, their first year has just been crowned by an event which signifies the town's acceptance and approval, an invitation to the civic ball. You can imagine how delighted they are. I wish other councils would realise how important it is to recognise youth in this way. This club has the great advantage of a progressive and enlightened local authority. They have granted us 50 per cent. rate relief. The Council chairman takes a keen, personal, down-to-earth interest. The senior police officer is a member of our adult committee and the youth officer is a tower of strength.
§ Unhappily, it is not so elsewhere. In a large Midland town where we have had a club for nearly two years our general manager has not yet been even to see the director of education. It takes two weeks to get an appointment with the chief constable and then there is not a great deal of benefit from it. So the club, surrounded by an aura of official dislike, disbelief and disapproval, suffers accordingly, because this sort of thing seeps through to the young people and they react accordingly. I hope and believe that unco-operative local authorities are in the minority, that they are only few; but it is one of the factors which make it extremely doubtful that they should continue to receive 80 per cent. of the available money. Yet the Minister's circular of February 16 appears to give them virtually complete power over voluntary bodies in respect of the inception of new schemes.
§ We suffer in other respects from official stupidity. Another club is very interested in athletics and has been trying to enter the local education authority athletic league, but it is a league rule that all members must have the correct dress or correct gear for every kind of sport, regulation track suits and so on. Well, that rules out our club and thus debars them from these very desirable activities and from the facilities provided by public money. It is one thing to deny public money to voluntary organisations but quite another to use that money to deny to some facilities which should be available to all, and for which we all pay.
§ We are trying to overcome this, and we shall overcome it by running our own 723 two-day inter-club sports meeting at Easter-time. Members of one club and their parents will act as hosts to the others. And how extremely important it is to these clubs that parents should take an active part in this way! It is a tremendously good influence for the parents as well as for the young people. There is a great deal of enthusiasm, and we expect about 200 entries, although most of them will have to travel about 100 miles and pay their own expenses. No records will be broken, but I think I shall get more pleasure from those two days than from two days at the White City. It is good that they should have to work to pay for their recreation and sport, but wrong that they should suffer under a two-tier structure and that unnecessary barriers should prevent them from competing with others. We should mix, and not segregate, our young people.
§ None of these clubs is yet paying its way, although two of them are approaching viability, by which I mean paying all expenses. The young members are very anxious that any funds we receive should be used for the opening of new ventures, and they do all they can to avoid making demands on us. Just now they are raising the money for cricket gear and other sports equipment, but it is disappointing that some of the large charitable trusts find us so much less worthy of support than the traditional, and perhaps better endowed, organisations.
§ I approached one of the largest of these trusts for help a little while ago and the secretary visited our clubs. A few days before his visit it happened that the band at one club had broken the British long-playing record by playing continuously for 29 hours—a ghastly thought, I know—but the whole club had worked hard to organise this thing and they thought it was worth while to win the British record. Our visitor's comment was "Frivolous waste of time! You should try to be more educational. Where is the woodworking shop?" I am very glad to pay tribute to him and his willingness to understand, because this particular trust has now offered us a generous grant. But you will appreciate that most of our members are getting craft education all day long at their 724 work, and we are educating them—educating them to responsibility and citizenship by making them accept responsibility in those activities which they think worth while, the things they want to do. Help should not be withheld from them simply because they—I think this applies to all young people—do not now necessarily want to do the things which were right in the conditions of fifty years ago.
Unfortunately, other great trusts have turned us down, usually with kindly sympathy and complete lack of understanding. We have kept going only through the understanding and generosity of Mr. Butlin and the Variety Club of Great Britain, and the "Saints and Sinners". Possibly they are more in line with our objectives than others who are trying to help, and in fact they feel that the making of good citizens should have priority over the creation of a chair of criminology; that it is better to have far more unorthodox clubs than more borstals. I think we have proved that there is that choice. For example, here is an extract from one manager's diary:
January 1961—a boy—call him George. Sixteen, tall, good looking, long black jacket, 'drainpipe' trousers, modern hair style, exaggerated walk, carries a knife. Leads gang of eight—always creating trouble. Threatened tonight to 'do' me in if I interfered in his fights. Told him to go home and come back when he was prepared to be sensible. He did come back the next night and brought his gang with him. I kept them out, and after an hour convinced them that if they wished to enter they would have to join the club. Two of his friends who are members came next day and asked if he could join. I told them he could if he obeyed the rules, and if he apologised for his threatening behaviour. He did, after his fashion. The whole gang joined the club and settled down, but if there was any trouble they were in it. One night some months later there was serious trouble. A gang of Merchant Navy lads—a little in drink—demanded entrance. They were not members. I told them to come back next day and apply for membership. That did not satisfy them. They made serious threats and advanced towards me.
The manager was standing alone.
Suddenly there was quiet. They stopped, turned and went out. Astonished. I looked round. George and all his fellow troublemakers were lined up behind me. No one spoke. They just went back to the dance. But it was the break-through.
To-day the transformation is complete. There is an incredible change—in clothes, appearance and conduct. There are no fights, no troubles. They represent and
do credit to their club at football, table tennis and athletics.
§ That story could be repeated in broad outline scores of times. In one year hundreds of most unlikely youngsters have found themselves. Because they were given responsibility, they acted responsibly. Of course, at the beginning they are suspicious. They ask: why does he do it? What does he get out of it? They will try to wear you down but, if you persevere, with each conquest you gain the opponent's friends as well. It is inevitable that if we attract the anti-social among our membership we shall have troubles inside and outside the club. My friends and I will be worried if we do not. Our members will sometimes go to court, and will come out of or go on to probation, proving that among our membership we are attracting the type of person that we are anxious to help, and we know can be helped. Last year, out of a 500 or 600 membership intake at that club one boy was expelled and one was prosecuted: two failures to set against hundred of successes.
§ I say, and I believe, that if together the Ministry and the local authorities would find the premises—they do not have to be new buildings; just suitable buildings, subject to conversion—and the money to equip them, voluntary organisations with the know-how could run clubs of this kind in every town in the country. Every town needs one or more. It needs them now, but they cannot be supplied for this pitiful 4d. per head per week, and they cannot be supplied at the Minister's controlled rate of advance, nor if lack of understanding or elderly prejudice bars the way. Control of course there must be, but control of the right kind, and also courage and speed and determination. Above all—I think this is most important—we must believe in our young people. If we do not, we despair of the future and we condemn ourselves.
§ The other day it was, in my view, truly said that the country needs unflagging vigour, undaunted hope, infallible faith and the forward look. Where better shall we find them than in our youth? I was not there, but I am firmly of the opinion that the First Elizabethans must have been a great worry to their parents. Many of them were roisterers, blackguards and pirates. Many of them were 726 aggressive and violent. But they created the Golden Age. We know that our Elizabethans have the right stuff in them. Let us give them the chance to prove it. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 2.56 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (VISCOUNT KILMUIR)
My Lords, may I first thank your Lordships for your consideration in accepting that, owing to another and unavoidable commitment, I had to change the place of my speech and must leave soon after its conclusion, and also for sitting at an earlier hour. My second and most pleasant duty is to express our real and true gratitude to Lord Stonham for introducing this debate and for his speech. May I say at once how much I personally enjoyed his account of the work of Youth Ventures Limited, with which he and the noble Earl, Lord Longford, are so closely associated? The noble Lord gave a fair and sympathetic recital of progress. He recognised that my right honourable friend the Minister of Education has carried out the promises which he made in 1960, but he did not disguise his view that what has been done is not sufficient. I should like to consider that thesis a little more closely, but, I assure your Lordships, entirely from the standpoint of one who believes strongly in its importance and in the urgency of the work.
I think it is useful to look back for a moment to our last debate. That took place on May 18, 1960, some three months after the publication of the exciting and challenging Report of the Albemarle Committee. Speakers on that occasion were naturally concerned with the immediate consequences of the Report and the prospect it opened up. Now, nearly two years afterwards, one can make some assessment of the progress; and, moreover, we can see more clearly the practical problems involved and the big questions of principle which are being debated. I should like to say that in relation to these problems my right honourable friend continues to have the valuable advice of the Youth Service Development Council—the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, has mentioned its meeting—and, of course, he is most grateful for their work.
I should now like to consider the adequacy of the Service and the steps 727 already taken, from four aspects. First, the general approach; secondly, direct financing; thirdly, the results of the building programme; and, fourthly, the training of youth leaders. I should then like to deal with the problem of priorities in building, and after that say something about the present phase of the Service. I should then like to deal with the nature and purpose of the Service, and, in so doing, to consider certain aspects which I know are in all our minds: the question of age and, in addition to that, the religious emphasis; the question whether friendship and association are enough; and the challenge to everyone involved in covering so wide a range of activities.
May I begin by saying a word about the general approach to the consideration of adequacy? I want strongly to contradict the idea that there is less enthusiasm about the Youth Service, or that the original inspiration of the Albemarle Report has been lost. It is the quintessence, and not the absence, of inspiration to realise the size of the problem and give to it the amount of thought and work it calls for. In my view, the Service has done well, especially bearing in mind the economic climate of the last year. It must take time to make good the deficiencies of the decade or so when we had to give priority to the problem of schools. I do not think anyone doubts that there had to be that priority and in that decade we had to bear the results in mind. I have heard it strongly argued that this is not a bad thing because the provision of a very large building programme and a series of grants from the word "go" would probably have led to a number of not very good club buildings and to expenditure on projects which might not really be worthwhile in terms of quality. Obviously the argument on that question will continue, but I think the view which I have stated must be taken into account.
Moreover, I would ask the fiercer protagonists of a formal review of further education schemes in so far as they affect the leisure of young people, to remember that wide variations mean that each area has its own problem, and, further, that the inherent nature of the Youth Service, which must be based on 728 the wide variety of approach and outlook of young people themselves, demands a flexible treatment which leaves full scope for imagination and experiment. If we put the Youth Service into a straitjacket we shall kill it. Therefore, formal revisions or any other uniform approach to expansion for all areas have their own weaknesses. They might well militate against experiments. Instead, there is much to be said for endeavouring, after due appraisal, to draw up working plans in full consultation with the voluntary bodies. My noble friend Lord Newton is able to give your Lordships the details of central and local administrative rearrangements that have taken place, and I will not pause to deal with those statistics for the moment.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble and learned Viscount for one moment, because he may not be here when I myself speak? I think he would agree that, whether rightly or wrongly, the Government have rejected the Albemarle Committee's recommendation on the point with which he has just been dealing.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, while I do not think the formality the noble Earl demands is necessary, I hope he caught my last remark: that, after reappraisal, there is much to be said for producing a working programme by co-operation between local education authorities and the voluntary bodies. The argument was directed to the point, and the noble Earl is entitled to his views. I shall read with great interest his answers and overturning of the arguments I have put up, because they seem to me very strong arguments and I should like to know why he rejects them.
My Lords, I come next to the question of direct financing, and similarly in that field the general position shows that material progress has been real. Direct financing of the Service by the Exchequer has increased from £229,000 in 1959–60 to £775,000 in the current year. Some of this has gone towards the cost of training the full-time youth leaders, and there has been greater expenditure on grants to national voluntary youth associations and local voluntary capital projects. Again, my noble 729 friend can give examples if the need for so doing eventuates during the debate.
I want, if I may, to give a general picture of the building programme. Some 750 new and expanded youth clubs and centres are being provided under the two announced building programmes for starts, to a value of £7 million in the three-year period 1960–63. Some of these premises are already completed and in use, and work will begin soon on a youth club in Bristol which has been designed by the development group of the Ministry's architect and building branch in collaboration with the authority's own experts after a period of intensive research into the principles which should underlie the design of general clubs. I mention this because it has aroused considerable interest and has stimulated constructive thought about what the nature and function of such a club should be.
There is already reason to think that we shall achieve the Albemarle target of increasing the number of full-time qualified youth leaders to 1,300 by 1966. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, quoted certain figures, and I think he will agree with me that they are good grounds for what I have just said. The reason why we are on the way to achieving that target is that the National College for the Training of Youth Leaders was established at Leicester to augment the work already being done elsewhere. The first course ended last month, and, as the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, said, 84 successful students, out of 90 who took the first course, are now at work in the field.
My Lords, this acquisition of qualified professional workers, who have taken posts in all parts of the country, is probably the best boost to morale that the Youth Service has had since the Albemarle Report. Again, I venture to repeat what the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, said, because it is a striking figure: that 140 students have just taken the second course, and there is already a waiting list of those who want to go on to the third. Altogether, there are now more than 200 students in training to be qualified full-time leaders.
I understand that the question is asked in certain quarters, whether the National College at Leicester is sufficiently intellectual, and I would remind 730 your Lordships of what the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, said in that regard. I think that most people would agree with this assessment: that, although the Service needs people of good education, it needs even urgently more people with the right maturity, human qualities and experience. But, my Lords, the Government regard the National College as a success educationally; and in our view the 42-week course is a real educational experience.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I wonder whether the noble and learned Viscount would allow me to interrupt him. He rather seemed to me to give the impression that the range of students at the first year's course at the College were not of a satisfactory standard, or were of a low educational standard. That certainly was not the case. There may not have been any graduates, but they were of a sufficiently high educational standard.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I am sorry if I gave that impression; I did not mean to do so. But it has been brought to my attention that certain people criticised the course as not being sufficiently "intellectual"—and I use the word in inverted commas. I was very anxious to defend it against that attack, which may well be made during the debate.
I would remind the House that the Bow Group pamphlet, which gave most interesting consideration to this problem, went so far as to say that youth workers should be trained not in teachers' training colleges but in a college specially designed to prepare people for youth work and we now have such a college. I do not go so far as the Bow Group in their statement, because I think there is valuable work for the teachers' training colleges to do as well. Besides the National College, there are full-time courses of training at University College, Swansea, West Hill Training College, Birmingham; and ten teacher-training colleges have introduced training for youth leadership as an optional part of their three-year course.
In addition, the Minister last year recognised two full-time training courses, which are under the ægis of the national 731 voluntary organisations. These are courses sponsored by the National Association of Boys' Clubs, in co-operation with the University of Liverpool, and in London, by the National Council of Y.M.C.As. My right honourable friend announced last July that the satisfactory completion of any of these courses leads to the status of qualified youth leader. Youth leaders who have a degree or diploma in social science, or who are eligible to be a qualified teacher and will have satisfactorily completed five years' service by August 1, 1963, are also regarded as qualified. A number of cases of youth leaders who were in post on August 1, 1961, but who cannot qualify in these ways are being considered.
It seems to me that that is a picture of a good, sound and inclusive course of training, and of varieties of training. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, if I may say so, that a contributing factor to the recruiting success has undoubtedly been the setting up last year of a joint negotiating committee for youth leaders, and the announcement last July of the national salary scales and conditions of service.
My Lords, I want to come next to the question of priorities in buildings, because, although most people recognise the achievement of getting the training programme under way so quickly, some are more critical of what is being done in regard to buildings and premises. Proposals to a value of about £14 million were submitted in respect of building programmes under which work to a value of £7 million can be started. Because of this, the Minister has had to introduce a system of local priorities. I should like your Lordships' particular attention to this matter, because I do not accept what the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, said: that the result of the introduction of this system of local priorities is to put all organisations within the power of a local authority.
The system of local priorities has been introduced without regard to whether the projects are to be undertaken by local educational authorities or by voluntary bodies. The object is that the urgent jobs can be done first. Any system of priorities causes some disappointment to those who are not rated 732 highest, and although the strong local response to the opportunities now before the Youth Service is greatly to be welcomed, it had always been clear that not everything could be done at once; that some control of the rate of advance was inevitable. And, my Lords, marshalling the order in this way is by no means without advantage. Because a system of single programmes, of local priorities, whether these come from the local educational authorities or from the voluntary organisations, will, in my view, bring the local education authorities and the local voluntary bodies even more closely together.
May I say one thing more, before I come to the question of the nature and purpose of the Youth Service, which underlay a great deal of the most interesting speech of the noble Lord, Lord Stonham. It was inevitable and essential that after an initial period of rapid action the Youth Service should enter, if possible without loss of enthusiasm, upon a phase of consolidation. The main foundations for building a strong Youth Service have now been laid, but occasionally in the last two years there has been a tendency to underestimate the length of time it will take to provide the service with more premises and leaders of the right quality.
My Lords, it is no criticism of the efforts and devotion—and I must emphasise those two words—of those who remained in the Service during the lean years of the 'fifties, to say that the Youth Service is still in the process of pulling itself up by its own bootstrings—indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, would imply an even stronger view of that process—and the full benefit of the building and leading training programme will not be felt for a year or so yet.
It is also true to say that a good deal more thinking needs to be done about the nature of the Youth Service and its purpose. In the last debate, the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, suggested that in relation to the Youth Service we were probably in about the same position as we were in 1880 in relation to formal education, and my noble and learned friend the Leader of the House took that point in his reply. The traditions and assumptions of the Service have not yet (at least on the scale that will be required in the future) built themselves 733 into a coherent body of expertise, and this is what makes the development of the Service at the present time such an exciting business. In passing, it is interesting to note that in this respect we are not alone. Most other European countries are experiencing a regeneration of interest in youth matters, and the United Kingdom is playing its part in carrying out an expanded programme of youth activities under the auspices of the Council of Europe.
I hope your Lordships will forgive an original member of the Council of Europe if I spend just two minutes on that, because it interests me. There have been two conferences of senior Government experts on youth questions: one in Paris, in March, 1960, and the other in Brussels, in March, 1961; and there will be a third next month in Strasbourg. The programme of activities covers ordinary courses of 70 hours, and is of two weeks' duration. We are running one at Leicester in April on the training of full-time leaders. In addition, there is developing a continuous exchange of information and technical assistance on all matters connected with the Youth Service.
The biggest development likely over the next two years is the prospect of establishing at Strasbourg a European Youth Centre which will be concerned with the training of senior youth leaders, organisers, administrators, and so on, through courses of about six months' duration, as well as the provision of more short courses. The Centre will also take part in research activities. I hope your Lordships do not mind my referring to that. I think it is interesting, not only because of my own personal interest in the Council of Europe, but also because it shows the wide outlook and vision of our regard for the service.
Now, my Lords, I come to the question of age, because the general interest has emphasised that as one of the questions at issue; and the question of the age range the Youth Service should cover is one of particular interest to my noble friend Lord Buckinghamshire, who has been kind enough to give me notice on this point. The dropping of the bottom end of the age range to 14, so that the gap between school and work can be bridged, is a great advance; but I want to tell my noble friend that in any case 734 the Ministry do not administer the Youth Service with a rigid regard to the compliance of age ranges. For example, last year local capital grants were offered to some 40 projects of Boy Scouts headquarters—a matter very near my own heart, as I think my noble friend knows—and the amount of grant was not reduced because the premises would be used by quite a number of boys below the age of 14. Of course, by and large the immediate priority is the provision of facilities for adolescents and those in the 18 to 20 age range, and it is there that the main emphasis must be placed; but I thought it would be somewhat comforting to my noble friend to have in mind what I have just said.
Let me turn next to what I term (although perhaps it is even wider than that) the religious emphasis. The question of the purpose of the Youth Service is one on which many sincere and deeply-held views are advanced. My Lords, I think the main differences, or the main streams of different views, can be summarised in the following three ways. The first is that, in a Christian country, it is only natural that many people want the Youth Service to have an overtly spiritual and moral purpose. The second is shown by the fact that a good many people in the field still find it hard to accept the attitude set out in paragraph 143 of the Albemarle Report—and I quote:… that it is on the whole better for principles to be seen shining through works than for them to be signalised by some specific spiritual assertion".For the other extreme I quote the Bow Group criticism:Whatever is the real purpose which inspires those that run the clubs, the fact remains that those who attend them are just young persons wanting a place where they can relax and meet others of their own age. They are offered what they want on condition that they accept something more. They become parties to this contract, many of them with some cynicism, because it is the best that they can make. This is the fatal flaw at the root of the relationship between those who provide the Service and those who use it. The providers justify their work in terms of altruism, education, welfare or keeping them off the streets. The consumers, on the other hand, have simple social and recreational needs which require for them no ulterior justification. The contract is fundamentally unsound.That quotation is from page 19 of the Bow Group's pamphlet. My Lords, there are the three points of view. I 735 do not think it would be doing the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, an injustice to say that the third was the nearest to the view that he put before the House.
My Lords, we are bound to deal with this divergence of views. As I say, this is not an end of the discussion—it is obviously a subject that will be discussed as the years roll on—but I want to tell your Lordships what appeals to me. I feel that most people will agree that the Service should work for the spiritual and moral good of young people, though whether that aim should be inscribed as a slogan on the banner of the Service is less certain. Many young people would not respond to a direct approach. For those who will, the opportunity for a response should be made available: for those who will not, a different approach is needed, at least at the beginning, and that should be based on little more than acceptance and friendship.
It is encouraging in all this that the youth departments of the various denominations are making a major contribution to the development of a Youth Service close to that advocated in the Albemarle Report, and are tackling the task with a most welcome freshness of approach. But obviously that is not an end of the problem: whether mere friendship and association are enough is another question that requires careful consideration. The call for more experiments has occasionally led people to think that a coffee bar on its own, for instance, is enough. Yet it is hardly the job of the State or a local authority, or the church or voluntary body, to enter into simple competition with the commercial world.
As I indicated, my Lords, in my view the coffee bar can be used for a start; but it should be in the hands of skilled workers, who can help young people to go on to other activities when a spontaneous desire to do more than drink coffee has been acquired. I do not think that is unreasonable. I do not think it is a particularly "square" point of view, as Lord Stonham would put it—I use the word "square" in the sense of his article on youth venture. I think it is the point of view which is prepared to encourage such proposals as a start, but, as I say, requires that there should be 736 skilled workers who can help the young people on to other activities. I want to add that the Ministry does not turn down experimental youth projects which appear to have a reasonable chance of success.
It follows that the Youth Service should continue to cover a very wide range of activities, from the clear challenge of the committed organisation—because I have said that the committed organisation should be there for those who would respond to it—to the different challenge of adventure pursuits and award schemes. I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, on that point. Thirdly, it should cover the less obviously purposeful activities of the general youth clubs and meeting places. Not all young people need the Youth Service, but the Service itself cannot be exclusive. The last half of that sentence is taken word for word from Lord Stonham's article on Youth Ventures, Limited.
So wide a range of activities seems to me to call for at least four things. First, the overall picture of a real partnership between the State, as represented by the Ministry of Education, the local education authorities and the voluntary organisations. Secondly, the particularly close collaboration and co-operation in a locality of the local education authorities and the voluntary bodies. The importance of local effort is clear. My Lords, it is not our plan that one should be under the power of the other; it is that there should be a real collaboration and co-operation. My third point is this: that the remarkable revival of interest shown, for example, in the administrative changes, both nationally and locally, with which my noble friend Lord Newton will deal, must be maintained and increased.
My fourth point is that, however big a Service is created over the next few years, there must be the determination that there always will remain a place for voluntary movements and organisations which offer a fresh response to the needs of the day. I can remember and speak of a slightly different thing. I can remember very clearly, as a small boy, the impact on the whole of small boyhood of the publication of Scouting for Boys. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that there may be some 737 impact of that kind for a slightly older age group. It was heartening, therefore, to find the voluntary organisations adopting a statesmanlike attitude during the recent discussions which led to a change in the procedure for dealing with capital projects, and for closer links with the statutory authorities. The partnership between the Ministry, and the local education authorities and the voluntary bodies is vital.
My Lords, in a complicated and rapidly moving world, and in a fluid society, young people will not always accept the restraints produced to modify the process of growing up. That I entirely accept. And they will not always look for guidance to the sources which older people regard as right and proper. In these circumstances, the Youth Service can play a most important part in helping individual young people to find themselves in the out of the school world, and in bridging the gap between the generations. It is for this task that the Youth Service must fit itself. That it will succeed in doing so is at once our universal desire, but at the same time our firm determination.
§ 3.36 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF NORWICH
My Lords, I am very grateful for being allowed to speak so early in this debate in order that I may attend an engagement later this afternoon, though I greatly regret that, on that account, I shall miss some of the speeches on this Motion. The publication of the Albemarle Report, and the immediate action of the Minister of Education in implementing some of its recommendations, has undoubtedly already done a very great deal for the young people of this country. It has helped to enlist public interest. It has given a great deal of encouragement to those who work among young people. It has managed to inject some greatly needed fresh ideas and fresh thinking into this matter; though, when this has been said, it is nevertheless true to add that a very considerable number of young people are largely untouched by the efforts of the Youth Service. Much more needs to be done, and can be done, to provide the younger generation with opportunities and stimulus. Fresh interest, fresh support, and perhaps, above all, fresh thinking, are still very much needed; 738 and we owe a debt to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, for giving us the opportunity to debate this subject again in your Lordships' House, and for what he has said in his speech.
I welcome particularly the emphasis which Lord Stonham gave to the understanding of those who are dubbed with the title of "unattached". He mentioned, in connection with this, the '59 Club; and the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of London will be saying something about this when he speaks later in this debate. I am sure that I speak for other Members of your Lordships' House when I say with what particular interest one listened to the experience of Youth Ventures, Limited, and the respect one must have for someone who is making such an active and personal effort, of the kind which the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, and the noble Earl, Lord Longford, are making in this matter.
I followed with the greatest of interest the speech of the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack, and I should like just to mention one particular matter to which he referred—namely, the religious or spiritual purpose in the Youth Service. I respect very much the approach of the Bow Group and the 'thought and understanding which that document reveals. I agree with the nature of the danger signal to which they really drew attention: the danger of a type of exploitation or of imposition of spiritual purpose and emphasis. Of this I think it is only fair to say the majority of Church-sponsored youth groups are very much aware, but I do not think—and I would wholeheartedly agree with what the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack said on this matter—that the Bow Group go far enough, in that there must inevitably be in the minds of those who are concerned with young people the need to help to present them with a sense of purpose for their own lives and the life of the community.
The general title of the Youth Service is widely understood as meaning service to youth, since the State and the adult population have a responsibility, and a very important responsibility, to the younger generation; but we do less than justice to young people if we do not also consider the Youth Service as service by youth, the use—which young people 739 can themselves be to the community, in addition to that provided in their work. I realise only too well that that word "service", like so many other noble concepts, stands in danger of losing some of its force and some of its character through having been at times, should I say, perhaps too heavily overloaded with moral exhortation. But I am sure that what it properly represents, in terms not only of giving direct help to people who need it, but also in the worth and satisfaction of doing something useful, has a particular and very important application for young people of the present day, growing up in what is sometimes termed "the affluent society", and sometimes termed "the acquisitive society".
The Albemarle Committee appreciated this point and in a sentence which they wrote, they say:Most young people seek recognition of their ability to make a significant contribution to society.And I am sure we should all agree that that is true. The contention that I would wish to press is for a wider and more imaginative application of this principle of service by young people—full-time, part-time, at home and overseas. The voluntary and statutory organisations can, and indeed do, provide not only training but also interest and entertainment for young people, but these organisations in themselves are not naturally in a position to provide opportunities of service. That only the adult community as a whole can do.
I do not believe that, in our present conception of the Welfare State, sufficient allowance is made for the particular rôle that young people can play, apart from and in addition to their normal schooling and their work. I believe it is important, as young people enter adult life, that they should be given the opportunity of making some contribution to society according to their talents and interests, and that this is precisely what many, if not most of them, would welcome. National Service was recognised as a legitimate claim upon young men in the interests of national defence. Now that that defence need, for the time being anyway, is otherwise provided for, is it beyond the bounds of possibility to secure the essential meaning of National Service as a service undertaken volun- 740 tarily for the common good, as a conception which could be generally recognised and fostered and accepted?
The United States, faced with a liability of a large number of unemployed boys and a problem of youth unemployment rising even more steeply, is considering the introduction of a Youth Conservation Corps for unemployed boys, which, on the lines of the Civilian Conservation Corps which operated during the Great Depression, would tackle major tasks of public development. It may be argued that we are faced with no similar phenomenon of youth unemployment to-day and that, therefore, it would be unrealistic to contemplate anything comparable. But America is also thinking in terms of a domestic Peace Corps, using the same appeal as has resulted in the recruitment recently of 2,000 new candidates every month for the Overseas Peace Corps, to secure young people of good calibre to help tackle some of the urgent social problems on America's own doorstep. Could we not be thinking in analogous terms, adapted to the different situation in our own country?
A good many individuals and organisations—as, for instance, Mr. Alec Dickson, who was largely responsible for initiating the organisation known as Voluntary Service Overseas and the Service By Youth Trust, Limited, which has recently been established—have been thinking much on these lines. If I am not mistaken, they have found it surprisingly hard work to discover openings where young people can be given the opportunity to help in ways which are genuine and not artificial and which would use the energy, skill and initiative of which they are capable. When, however, useful and needed jobs have been found and young people have been asked to do them, the results, in terms of the value of the service which has been given and of the benefit to the young people themselves, has been very impressive.
This has certainly proved the case for Voluntary Service Overseas. Admittedly this is highly selective and limited to a relatively small number of young people. This year, there are 141 boys, of whom 24 are apprentices, and 30 girls, making 171 in all, giving a year's service voluntarily in 40 countries, 741 most of them within the Commonwealth. Not only is the organisation receiving applications for the replacement of volunteers, but over 150 requests from new projects have been received during the last few months, and this in spite of the fact that the organisation pays not one single penny on publicity. Its agents are its volunteers, who by their own efforts and high standards, often under the most challenging conditions, are the cause of the request for more volunteers from our young people to-day. These requests are more than matched by the very keen competition on the part of school leavers for places.
The support of Government Departments and of the British Council in this venture is most gratefully appreciated and it is sincerely hoped that it will be forthcoming in successive years. The organisation, Voluntary Service Overseas, has taken the line that the cost of transport to overseas territories—and some are as far afield as Labrador, New Guinea and the Falkland Islands—and the time taken for a young person to make a valuable contribution, can be adequately justified only where the boy or girl has a full year of service to offer. There is a much larger potential of school leavers with a period of six to nine months available before going to universities and to professional or vocational training or before starting work. I am convinced that it would be well worth while exploring the possibilities of at least some of these being given the opportunity of doing a job of service abroad, even for that shorter time. There are schools, for instance, in Kenya and Nigeria where they would welcome an 18-year-old or 19-year-old from this country to teach even for two terms.
There would also seem to be a good many openings where a small team of young people could do a worthwhile job in undertaking some specific project of their own over a period of a few months in an overseas territory. This at present, and I speak with the knowledge of some individual cases in mind, is extremely hard to arrange. The administrative difficulties appear to be as formidable as, perhaps rather more formidable than, the financial. I would earnestly plead that Government Departments especially might give serious consideration to facilitating these 742 possibilities. The return for such service overseas must be measured, not only in terms of the value of the work done, but also in the intangible understanding among the young of different races, upon whose understanding much that is of vital consequence for the relationship between different races in the future will depend.
But whilst I sincerely hope that every consideration will be given to opportunities for young people serving overseas—and in the nature of the case this has a particular attraction to the young—there is surely a great deal which can and should be done at home. Here I should like to make a specific proposal—namely, that during the last years at school—whether at secondary modern, grammar, comprehensive or boarding school—the pupils should be encouraged to regard some contribution to the life of the community as an essential ingredient of their own education. The more valuable, the more interesting the types of jobs which they are called upon to do, the more would it appeal and the more effective would it be. This principle has, of course, been applied in certain individual schools, and often with striking results; but I would plead that what is now an exception should become the law. For once this principle was inculcated during the last years of every child's schooling, this would do more than anything else to open up opportunities for worthwhile service after he had left school. And, what is perhaps much more important, there should be inculcated a responsible and mature attitude of mind towards society.
It is impressive how many training officers in industry are concerned that their young workers should acquire not only technical skills but a deeper sense of social responsibility. I contend that we need to involve our own young people—and this applies primarily after they have left school—in what goes on behind the great grey wall, in the wards of hospitals, in approved schools, among mental patients and among the old and uncared for. I should like to plead that responsible authorities should concentrate a little more attention on involving our young people in these and other constructive and pioneering tasks. It is the paradox of the Welfare State that the more it expands its social facilities the less able does it become to man them. 743 The ultimate absurdity might be when there is a school and a hospital in every block, and no one prepared to do the teaching or the nursing. There are fields in which the young can make and, I believe, desire to make a distinctive contribution, and some rôles which perhaps only they can play; and we shall show that we are taking them seriously when we make it abundantly clear that we recognise this and give them the opportunity.
§ 3.53 p.m.
§ LORD COUTANCHE
My Lords, I crave your Lordships' indulgence for a maiden speech, and if I may judge by the great kindness which I have received since I first had the honour of entering your Lordships' House six months ago, I do not think my prayer will be in vain. I would confess at once that I have spent the last 40 years of my life either as a member of the Bar or as a Law Officer of the Crown, and for a long period of some quarter of a century, just ended, as a Judge, under conditions which have brought me, I think I may say, fairly closely into touch with the problems of youth. I know, my Lords, that there must be a vast difference between the problems which face youth in a small island such as my native island is, and the similar problems which face youth in this great country. But I honestly believe that there is enough similarity between the circumstances which exist in England and Wales, on the one side, and in Jersey, on the other, to entitle me to draw upon my insular experience.
I am reminded, as your Lordships know, that at the very outset of the Albemarle Report the statement is made that the Youth Service was brought into force in this country by a circular issued by the Minister in 1939. The Report goes on to say (I quote from memory) that that particular circular could never have sufficed to bring the Youth Service into existence had it not been for the magnificent work which had been done over the last half century by the great national voluntary organisations. In 1939 the vast majority of those great national voluntary organisations were very strongly represented in Jersey. Your Lordships know that in 1940 we were occupied by the enemy, and it was 744 not until 1945 that we were released. During that period it is no exaggeration to say that all those great voluntary organisations and the units which represented them in the Island of Jersey, and, indeed, in the Islands of the other bailiwick, necessarily almost died physically, but spiritually they were very much alive.
I promise your Lordships that I will not engage in many sentimental excursions, but I should like, if I may, to say just this. There was among those organisations a unit connected with the Church of England which, like the others, had gone underground, and when on May 9, 1945, we were liberated (it was my birthday) the captain in command of that unit asked me if he could take out his instruments, put the skins back on the drums and head the vanguard of the task force of the British Army which came to liberate us. The spirit was very much alive! Since I have spoken of that occasion, may I say how happy I am that my noble friend Lord Morrison of Lambeth is here to-day, because he was Secretary of State at the time. He landed in Jersey five days after the troops and I had the great pleasure of having him as guest of honour at my birthday party—modest, but very historic.
In 1945, when we were liberated, it was quite obvious that some great work had to be done for youth. The then Lieutenant-Governor, myself, the heads of the Church, the civic heads and heads of the education department inaugurated what we called a Youth Movement. We were strongly supported by the State, by voluntary contributions and by Carnegie in many wonderful ways, and what would, I think, correspond to the Youth Service in this Island was established in Jersey in 1946 and did wonderful work. Not only did it give what help was needed to the great voluntary organisations; not only did it help all those other bodies, denominational or undenominational, who required financial assistance or moral encouragement to bring them back into life; but it also did that to which my noble friend Lord Stonham has referred so eloquently to-day: it made great advances in the most difficult field of providing youth clubs for what I think one should call boys and girls who are not bound together by any common interest. As the 1940s turned into the 1950s, and the Island had recovered a great measure 745 of prosperity, a number of enlightened people set out upon a reorganisation of education in the Island, and a great work was done and is being done.
That is all I want to say about the background against which I speak. We are in the closest association with the national voluntary youth organisations. We are in the closest touch with the Ministry of Education; we are in the closest touch with the National Association of Boys' Clubs, the National Association of Youth Clubs, Outward Bound, the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme, and the other great bodies and organisations which work for youth. Now what has happened? It could be an exaggeration to say that one can treat what has happened in Jersey as a laboratory experiment of what would happen in this country; I know that that would be a gross exaggeration. I think it is right also to stress, as I should like to stress, that "youth service" is not synonymous with "youth club". There is a tremendous amount of youth service outside the narrow confines of a youth club, and I bow in tribute to the great work that the youth services have done throughout these Islands.
It may be for lack of money, it may be for wrong thinking, it may be because the first enthusiasms have worn out—I do not know—but that which has resulted from a Youth Movement, a Youth Service, which in its origin was strong and is still strong in many directions, and a reorganised educational system, has been this. At the top of the scale you have the public schools, the grammar schools and the secondary modern schools. They have their built-in youth service. At the other end, you have the delinquent and the unclubbable. They are probably the problem of the probation officer and of re-education rather than the particular care of the Youth Service; though I am sure the Youth Service would riot turn its back upon any deserving person who could come within that great category of youth.
Between those two bodies, between that top stratum and that bottom stratum, there is the body of young people with whom I think your Lordships have been concerned to-day. There are those who go on to advanced and further education provided by the State, who find in that education enough out- 746 side relaxation, challenge and encouragement. There are all those boys and girls who join clubs of common interest, sporting clubs and farmers' clubs. In our Islands, there are those who are happy in the sea, on the sea and under the sea, and on the rocks and the crags. All those people who are bound together by mutual interest are not only clubbable but are, as it were, automatically clubbed. Now we get to the other, terrible group to which the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, has referred. They are clubbable. They are not necessarily productive of leaders; they have to rely upon adults for guidance and help.
I know that the Minister has said that as, I believe, from 1960 the Youth Service has come into its own. I know of all the wonderful things that are happening, such as the establishment of colleges for the training of leaders. I know that a tremendous work is being done. I will not attempt to speak in terms of proportions, but, speaking against the background which I know, and believing that it is applicable in some measure to England and Wales, I should like to stress with the Minister the tremendous importance of this section of youth work—a section which requires all the more care because it is, I think, of all the sections, the least able to help itself.
Before I sit down, may I add this? I spoke a little time ago of the fact that I had been a Judge for 25 years. In that capacity I have had to try many, many crimes and offences committed by young people and in connection with young people. On the first occasion upon which I have had the honour to address your Lordships, may I say this? In every boy and in every girl which it can save from a life of crime, the Youth Service has a golden reward.
§ 4.6 p.m.
§ BARONESS RAVENSDALE OF KEDLESTON
My Lords, following on the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, I would take up your Lordships' time on only one or two small points. I still work for the Highway Clubs of East London—this is my 45th year there. I do not get myself annually re-elected on an "omnibus" ticket, but they honourably re-elect me, though some of your Lordships might say, "It is about time you got out". But 747 I want to say this to your Lordships. I have a very strong feeling to-day that we are entirely obsessed with the bad boys. It is always the bad boys, the bad girls, the appalling raids, murders and assaults that the authorities are trying to handle. As for the right honourable gentleman in another place, he must be going mad with advice from the pro-hangers or the abolitionists. I wonder why so many Conservative ladies get so rabid about retaining the death sentence. I wonder whether we, notwithstanding the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, could get away from being more interested in the one sinner than in the "ninety and nine" good men. Those "ninety and nine" are most valuable to-day, and I contend to your Lordships that they must be catered for and looked after, to the best of our ability.
After the very good start made possible by the impetus given by the Ministry of Education in many directions to the Albemarle Report (we have heard of it this afternoon again and again in the training of teachers, the building programmes, increased grants to national and voluntary organisations) only now trickling, in, after all these months, come these statutory grants. Because, believe me, my Lords, the wheels of officialdom grind very very slowly. I do not deny that we need a second drive to give a new push to the Youth Service if the Albemarle picture of a ten-year development plan in two five-year block periods is to be fulfilled. I do not deny for one moment the statement of the noble Lord and the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack, that the country presents a very varied picture of the local education authorities' work. Some have seized marvellously the opportunities offered to them, but there is still an enormous variation in the support given by the local education authorities of different areas to the partnership of statutory and voluntary agencies emphasised in the Albemarle Report.
I have had only one small experience in my own way, though I do not deny the enormous amount of work which the statutory authorities have had to do in raising grants to the wardens and their wives. It has taken a long enough time. I know that it applies also to other clubs, 748 but let me quote the case of my own particular Highways Club. My club leader, though he knew that a grant would be going eventually to increase the salary as a warden to him and his wife, would not have got away on his holiday at all—he would have had to remain at my Highways Club—if I had not loaned him £40 to do so. And that was due to the delay in the coming forward of the statutory grants. That happened not only to my club, but to others. Those funds are now starting to come through, but still only for the first six months. We have not yet received the whole of the back-dated funds. So that we have had our difficulties. I know the enormous difficulties with which the statutory authorities are faced; but, as I say, the wheels grind very, very slowly.
We have heard all about the difference between the boys and girls of to-day and my club members in 1917, when I first went there. I do not deny for one moment to your Lordships that they frighten me out of my life; so that I think the leader's problem is far worse. Truly, everything, in my experience, hangs on the husband and wife in a club. On them depend the retention of the standards and happiness of the boys and girls in the club. Without that there will be, inevitably, all the incidents which the noble Lord and I have experienced: of gangs in pitched battles in the clubs and breaking them up. Then one has to start again. That is why I think it is so enormously essential to have the right youth club leader. I do know that the voluntary youth associations with statutory assistance—believe me, I say it from the bottom of my heart—must go on.
A little time back seven young people, of both sexes, from our clubs were heard in "Lift Up Your Hearts". One and all said "Thank you" for what we have been able to give them from our clubs. One girl said: "You keep us on our toes", and then she quoted our prayer:O God Our Father, who in our Association of Youth Clubs has called us into a great family of friendship and service:Give us Faith always to seek that which is highest;Give us Courage always to stand for that which we know to be right;And give us the Spirit of Love by which alone we can truly serve Thee and our fellow men.749 Only lately, two groups of boys and girls in my Highway Clubs have voluntarily offered, after their day's work, to help old and lonely people; just as the noble Lord has told us has been the case with people in his area. These boys and girls in my Stepney area, after their day's work, as I say, are visiting old people who are too exhausted, and perhaps too old, to go out or who want reading to or chatting to on lonely evenings. I know that there is no answer to the fact that 70 or 80 per cent. of boys and girls will not at any price go into the clubs. I know that they detest them; they detest any controls, or subs., or the authority of a club leader or warden; and I know they prefer coffee bars. In fact, I think a great many of them, evidently, from what was said on the radio the other night by four boys, because the publican cannot always tell their age, prefer the pubs.
Nevertheless, my Lords, we are experimenting and trying to reach some new plan, some new idea; and some of your Lordships know just as well as I do how tricky and hard that path is. Your Lordships have heard what the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, has said about his own new ventures and youth clubs. We are trying to do the same thing. Sometimes we succeed; sometimes we fail, with new approaches. We are trying to work it with young people on our youth councils. We have tried to carry out recommendation 44 of the Albemarle Report that local education authoritiesshould consider what approaches they could make to these young people who find it difficult to come to terms with society.I think the best service we can do is to collate the results of the Youth Service Development Council. There have been many Commissions, many Reports, involving hours of labour, and we find that the work and the paper which comes out of them is often pigeon-holed and hidden. Nevertheless, I trust that your Lordships will see that we, in our voluntary associations of youth clubs, are still battling with this problem. Lastly, I will say that I wish I had not had to follow the noble Lord, Lord Coutanche, in his maiden speech, because he was better at the job than I.
§ 4.18 p.m.
LORD VAUX or HARROWDEN
My Lords, I am deeply sensible of the privilege which is mine on addressing 750 you for the first time to-day, and it is not without a certain trepidation I rise to my feet, because the last monk of the Order of St. Benedict who addressed your Lordships' House, I think in 1559, was confined shortly afterwards to a sort of concentration camp for refractory clergy at Wisbech Castle. My own ancestor, the third Lord Vaux of Harrowdon—he was equally stiff-necked, I am afraid, in matters of religion—spent a long time in the Fleet Prison and came out so impoverished by this that, at the beginning of the next reign, he had to write to King James and excuse himself from coming to the Coronation on the grounds that his robes were in pawn. So I trust you will use greater toleration to-day when I make my maiden speech.
In proper life, or everyday life, I am a curate, and human nature being what it is curates get the tough assignments in their parishes; and the toughest of assignments is usually the parish youth club. I have survived that for some ten years in two different places, and I speak now, if not as an expert, at any rate with a certain amount of experience behind me. Before that I taught for fifteen years at one of our great public schools. I am not claiming that public schools have a full monopoly of educational wisdom, but it was the only educational wisdom that I had when I changed jobs and became a curate. I was given charge, of course, of the parish youth club, and soon noticed—it was drawn to my attention pretty strongly—that my new charges lacked a very great deal of what I would have associated with the out-of-class training that is given in public schools: I mean training in things like self-confidence and initiative.
There seemed a great dearth of sense of responsibility among them. There was terribly little knowledge of how to use leadership—and there is leadership there—in the right way and for the good. If only they had learned these things at school, which they had left at a rather immature age before they could put them into practice! There was a very strong, very vigorous suspicion of the adult. I suppose it came from being chivvied about most of the day at work, because of their very immaturity and their inadequately acquired techniques in their jobs; and at home, because their parents, so often brought up in the slump period having as many shillings 751 in their pockets as their offspring have pounds to-day, are unable to adjust their minds to the ideas and opportunities provided for youth in the 'sixties, and they tend to nag at them. The result is that these young people regard themselves as a race apart—and not only as a race apart, but as a very misunderstood race apart. When they return from work they have tea, put on their finery. To them it is the very height of fashion, but often to our way of thinking it is perfectly frightful. However, to do them justice, it is clean and tidy. Then they sally forth to join their friends.
I felt very soon after I started this new job, and experience has borne it out, that if we could attract them to some suitable premises, away from the street corner, away from the bomb site, away from the town café, we could do a great deal towards training them, giving them self-confidence, self-respect, and a sense of responsibility and leadership. I have seen so many good boys and good girls led astray by the wrong sort of leader. It is they who get into trouble: the good boy or the good girl, not the leader who misleads them, find themselves involved in the cumbersome machinery of the law, the magistrate's court, the prolonged disgrace, I think one could almost call it, of probation and sometimes worse, and the inevitable publicity; because you cannot keep these things quiet, however much you try. It struck me, and it still strikes me, that some sort of "preventive medicine" is necessary in the form of character training, and that can be provided in a youth club. We must, in order to keep them off the streets and away from the bad influences to which they easily succumb, try to provide them with a place to which they really want to go, to start off with, a place which it is a punishment to be sent out of for a time.
It must be a place they can call their own, open to them most nights of the week. The old-fashioned, rather dowdy, parish hall with a ping-pong table put up one night a week and a draught-board put out for the youth of the parish has no value at all nowadays. They will not go there. What we want is the sort of place where they can find under one roof most of the activities which their elders in their twenties find somewhere about the 752 town: football, tennis, billiards, dramatic activities, dancing and all that. We should give them that under one roof, starting off with a good hall or clubroom, with a stage in it where they can have a bit of dramatic activity, because that is very good training, for both their speech and their manners. You also want there, in the hall, a billiard table, a ping-pong table and a dart board, together with some sound equipment, because they like to dance to these extraordinary sounds which nowadays they call music. A simply equipped hobby room is a very good thing, and a quiet room where they can hold meetings, informal discussions, and play the quieter and more concentrated forms of games. You need playing fields because there is a lot of animal spirits to work off. In the club you need adequate toilet and changing places; many of our homes are still without bathrooms. You need a coffee bar where they can buy their "hot dogs" and chewing gum and those other horrible concoctions they like but which we should not.
If you get a place like that, you have no difficulty in attracting youth there, and once you get the tradition started there is no end to what you can do in the form of character training. There are jobs about the place; there is cutting wood for the boilers, serving in the canteen; it gives them a sense of importance and responsibility—service to the community. They learn to respect authority when they are there; they have got to, or they get thrown out. They learn to pull their weight in the activities of the club and they learn what it is extremely important to learn; that it is quite enjoyable to pull one's weight. As they get older, they can aspire to a place on the club committee, and the committee have charge, under the youth leader, of the activities and discipline of the club. There they can pick up and develop a real sense of leadership, and all the time there is present the youth leader. Here I prefer a middle-aged man who has brought up his own family and has perhaps some experience of youth work in the Forces, to a young man in his middle twenties who may flourish a certificate of proficiency at me but has no experience whatsoever and has yet to make his mistakes.
The youth leader's main job, as I see it, is to be around, to become known 753 as somebody they can trust, somebody who is interested in each individual and who can break down that suspicion of adults of which I spoke before. He sometimes has to rebuke, but his great function should be commendation where it is due, for that begets self-confidence. It is marvellous what you can do sometimes with what looks like very unpromising material. In my club I have a small group who spend a good deal of their free time decorating the houses of the aged and poor. Last Sunday we invited 80 old people from the parish to a turkey tea and entertainment, and a very good entertainment it was.
I have no wish to be my own trumpeter. I am telling your Lordships these things to show what a lot of good there is in the ordinary young man and girl one meets about the streets. We tend to condemn a young man because of what he refers to as "drainpipes" and "sideburns" and "winkle pickers", the clothes he wears and the length of his hair. It is a great pity that in the Press we read only about the delinquent few, while the praises of the 99 just remain unsung. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. The culinary preparation is as hard as anything Mrs. Beeton knew at her best. One is often tempted to wonder whether it is worth while. Frustrations are numerous, eggs are broken on the way, cream is spilt, and just when you think all is well the soufflé collapses; but when after a few years, one sees the results, one's successes outweigh one's disappointments. It is a wonderful satisfaction to see boys and girls who have been developing under your eye and guidance gradually pairing off, coming shyly to ask you to marry them, settling down together, bringing up God-fearing, law-abiding families, and taking their places in society and the world with confidence and dignity.
But, my Lords, this, in addition to unbounded energy, needs money. The club members themselves—and it is only right they should do—contribute their weekly subscription. This income is not enough to cover the outgoings, which are heavy in these days. There is certainly nothing left for any capital development, for buildings or the purchasing of new equipment. It is rarely even sufficient to cover the unlooked for and unwanted attentions of the frost 754 and the wind. In the old days the voluntary clubs, unless backed by one of the larger national organisations or by a big firm in the town, were extremely circumscribed in the facilities which they could offer.
Then came the various pieces of legislation of the war years and after, culminating in the Albemarle Report two years ago, which empowered the Ministry and the local authorities to come to their rescue, to help them develop and extend their work by means of grant aid. What rejoicing there was on that February morning in 1960! A new era was dawning at last. All we in the educational world had to do was to satisfy the authorities that we were doing useful work for the young people, and a beneficent Minister of Education would contribute half the cost of our capital development schemes, and a kindly borough treasury would add a further one quarter; the same local authority would contribute towards maintenance costs, our leaders' salaries and our smaller development projects. We were to be relieved of that dreary business of begging, to which most youth clubs are subjected, and we were to be able to devote all our attention to our main work of helping the young people.
Alas! in the language of our friends across the Atlantic, we had another think coming. Our applications to the Minister for grants towards building, purchase of premises, or other capital development were turned down. They were turned down because they could not accept our trustees, in spite of the fact that those very same trustees were acceptable for school building, which is far more expensive, or, again, because the club was what was called a denominational club. We were perhaps given a small grant towards the furnishings, but that was all. It appeared, when we asked for the reason, that the grants had been made in the past to Church trustees for youth work, which work had for some reason lapsed and had been unsuccessful and the equipment and buildings turned over to other uses. Might one be so bold as to suggest that, instead of turning down these requests flatly, the Minister could adequately safeguard public money in this matter by exacting a guarantee from the 755 trustees that the youth activities would continue over a certain number of years or they would return a proportion of the money or the equipment bought with it?
With regard to the denominational side, the Ministry are prepared to build schools for the Churches, or at any rate to contribute very generously to their building. One would have thought that the same principle could be applied to a youth club which, after all, is adding something to the general education of these lads and lassies. Our schools have the same syllabus for general teaching as those under the local authority and the standard of education they give compares most favourably with theirs. Our clubs give the same basic character training as the authority clubs, when the authority clubs exist, and in various competitive events arranged in the area acquit themselves just as well.
We are not asking for contributions towards a glorified Sunday school, where the members sit round for a period of religious instruction before they can play genteel games. Our aim is to give all the facilities that any other club provides with a Christian background—and here, I am sure, I am not merely speaking of my own particular faith. I have yet to meet a club which excludes all but the adherents of a particular faith. I know that the vicar up the road takes in quite a lot of my "dirty washing", and I of his, and we both have many who are on nobody's washing list. In any case, it is hardly fair to expect that a club, largely paid for by the adherents of a particular faith, should not give pride of place to the children and the young people of that faith even to the exclusion of others if the accommodation is insufficient.
My Lords, I spoke of a Christian back-ground and atmosphere. Is not that a completely and utterly desirable thing in these days when morality is fast becoming a purely subjective matter—" What I like is right; what I do not like is wrong "—when the comics provided for them, the cinema and, to some extent, even the television, everything, pulls towards the service of self, the search after pleasure? Among the young, there is what practically amounts to promiscuity these days. According to figures published recently, nearly half the marriages 756 in the country are between those who have already found that there is a baby on the way. The juvenile courts are full at every session. Violence is on the increase. Surely it is a good and praiseworthy thing, a thing that ought to be encouraged at all costs, that there be places where our young people are protected from the evil influences to which they are subjected in the streets of our towns, where they are encouraged by the example of the older members of the club, boys and girls like themselves, who have learned as they grow older to put into practice in their daily lives the things they learned at school; places where the Christian virtues of charity and chastity and love of one's neighbour, and of respect of girl by boy and the other way round, are not derided but are part of the normal atmosphere; places where the worship of God and the keeping of his Commandments are encouraged because they are his Commandments.
The teens are the most difficult period of a young person's life. They have been told at school what is expected by the Almighty of a Christian man or woman, but because of their immaturity they have assimilated it in only a theoretical sort of way. Even in its widest sense, religion soon becomes associated with the classroom and, in the newly-found freedom and glamour of independence of the early working days, ceases to be a matter of practical politics in their daily lives. I mentioned the words "herd instinct" before. It is that, combined with the inherent fear of not doing something other boys and girls are doing, which militates so much against the paths of righteousness. The phrase, "Everybody's doing it; why shouldn't I?" is constantly on their lips, and is a tremendously potent influence on their outlook. What we are trying to do in what are called the denominational clubs—I would prefer to call them Christian clubs—is to counteract the evil influences of the street corner with the good influences of Christianity, and to build up a decent God-fearing herd for them to fallow, until such time as they are mature enough to stand on their own two legs.
What can be wrong with that? Yet it seems to be one of the reasons why so little of the £5 million that we have heard about is finding its way to the organisations which need it most. I know of 757 two voluntary clubs in the area in which I am working which are getting grant aid from the Ministry to the tune of thousands for a complete rebuilding programme. One of them started up a few weeks after the Albemarle Report was issued; the place was pulled down and started again. This is an excellent thing, of course—I applaud it—but I know of no professedly Christian club (of course I may be wrong) which has received, or is likely to receive, more than a few hundreds towards equipment and movable furniture.
So, swallowing our disappointment with the Ministry, we turned to the local authorities, asking for grant aid towards our maintenance expenses, salaries for our leaders, for our minor projects, the purchase and renewal of equipment. We met with very varying success here. Some of the authorities are extremely generous. They realise the contribution which the voluntary bodies are making towards the Youth Service, and have done everything within their power to help them expand their work and develop their potentialities. But I am afraid that there are still many who are lagging behind, whose youth services are but a paper organisation and who contribute little or nothing. Others, perhaps the majority, stand between the two extremes of generosity and parsimony.
I fully realise that it is not the policy of the powers-that-be to coerce local governments, but a little more standardisation and a little more authoritative guidance throughout the country in these matters would be of tremendous advantage both to the local authorities, who are casting about trying to find out the practice of their neighbours before committing themselves—with one eye on that bogey, the ratepayer, they do not wish to be more generous than is necessary to gain Ministerial approval—and to the clubs who would know what they could expect to get. It would put an end to the sort of anomaly that was pointed out to me the other day, of two youth organisations with contiguous spheres of influence but in the areas of different authorities, one of which receives generous grant aid, the other nothing at all, while both do the same good work.
I beg your Lordships' pardon for keeping you so long. My excuse is that possibly at the moment I am one of the 758 very few members of your Lordships' House who are actually working in the lower levels—completely at the bottom—of the Youth Service, and I can therefore inform you at first hand of some of the problems and difficulties (I will not call them injustices) with which we at the bottom have to contend. My contention is that, while there is a great deal of talk, a lot of back-patting, and plenty of well-earned praise, little is being done of really practical value for the voluntary clubs, particularly for those run by the Churches. This is frustrating to those who work there. It is discouraging them from even bothering to put forward, let alone go ahead with, their schemes for the improvement and widening of their activities. It is making people think twice, and indeed have very decided second thoughts, about the advisability of embarking upon any new ventures.
My Lords, in many areas in this country the local authorities are offering no youth facilities whatsoever. In the country as a whole nearly 90 per cent. of the youth work is done by the voluntary bodies, and of that a large proportion is done by the Churches. If the Ministry and the local authorities cannot see their way to helping them financially on a basis commensurate with their needs, then I can foresee many of our voluntary clubs being forced to close their doors, and many of their inmates being deprived of the benefits of their training, unable to obtain it elsewhere, and back on the street corners, the bombed sites and the town café, with all their attendant perils.
§ 4.44 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF LONDON
My Lords, it is an accident of the list that I should follow immediately after the noble Lord whose maiden speech we have listened to with such interest. I think historically it may be of some comfort to him to know that my predecessors in office were never able to exercise any authority over his predecessors in the Community of which he is now a member, any more than my predecessors in office have been able to exercise any authority over the Community which has followed on the Community in Westminster Abbey. We welcome in this House a voice which, in a sense, has been silent for 400 years, and 759 we hope that we shall hear more of that voice, particularly when it speaks, as the noble Lord has done this afternoon, from his direct experience on this subject with which we are all so deeply concerned.
I must apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, for my inability to hear his opening speech, but he did me the favour of letting me know the general line which he was to follow. I am grateful to him, as I am sure are the voluntary bodies and the Churches, for the emphasis he has placed on this particular aspect of the Youth Service which is concerned with the service of the unattached. I believe we are all concerned with the continuing education of young people in body, mind and spirit, recognising that those three aspects are inseparable; that to cultivate the body without the mind is a travesty of youth work, and that to cultivate mind and body without attention to the spirit is to deprive the Youth Service of any effective purpose. It is sometimes necessary to remind the public that the Youth Service is something more than an organisation of the leisure time of young people, and nothing more. Our own Youth Council on the Board of Education of the Church of England has always been concerned, and anxious, to emphasise that it is an aspect of continuing education which alone justifies the concern and attention we give to it.
The general picture of a church youth club, as the noble Lord who has last spoken rather described it, with the ping-pong table put up hurriedly in the corner and the draught-board put out to tempt somebody off the streets, no longer represents anything, like the truth. We have long since abandoned the heretical doctrine of "salvation through ping-pong". We no longer believe that what is required is table tennis with a little bit of religion. We are concerned that in their own leisure time the young people should find the opportunities of making their choices and exercising their own decisions, in the belief that that is indeed part of their education.
They must have freedom to choose what they will or what they will not do; they must be associated to the fullest possible extent with the planning of the activities provided by the youth centre, and they must be able to take effective 760 decisions. Only in that way can character be built and personality developed. They do indeed require adult guidance, and I myself do not believe that only the young can speak to the young. There may be many occasions on which the young benefit more, not from the advice of an elder brother but from an uncle. Nevertheless, though that expert adult guidance is available it must never, in our judgment, prevent the young from being able to make the choices, with a sense that they are responsible choices, when deciding what they are going to do and how their own youth centre is going to develop. Because we (and particularly those of us in the Churches) believe that there must be this freedom, we are concerned to see that young people of every kind—including perhaps more particularly those who are outside the direct contact of the Church—should have their opportunity. There is need for church-centred youth clubs; there is need for provision for the unattached; there is need to do something for those who can be called, "unclubbable".
Our experience has been rather more fortunate than that of the noble Lord, Lord Vaux of Harrowden. We already have ten youth clubs, established recently with considerable financial assistance, for which we are most grateful, in which we have tried to carry out the pattern of a youth centre, with a wide variety of experimental choices on the part of the young. These have stemmed from a particular youth club in the East End, which has a membership of around 900. The sight of a very considerable percentage of that 900, and perhaps even more the sound of that percentage, engaged simultaneously in a number of activities—and particularly in those forms of rock 'n' rolling and whatever has come recently into fashion—is somewhat intimidating; but it is undoubtedly attractive.
What we have found, however, is that this kind of approach, with this wide variety of choice, has evoked a quite remarkable response; and part, at least, of that response takes the form of an attachment, slow, tentative, cautious, but definite, to the worship of the Church, whose initiative had provided the club and whose presence in the club they, as it were, appreciate. Only the other evening I saw in one such club, amidst a 761 great many activities, a nun in the corner being taught parlour tricks with string by two "Teddy boys". That seems to me precisely the right kind of relationship which should exist between the Church and the Youth Service.
We are catering in all types of youth work—and I speak now, of course, for all of those concerned with youth—for a variety of interests. For instance, there is the Ocean Youth Club; and the work of Outward Bound and Brathay are too well-known to your Lordships to need more than a mention. Yet there are young people who will never freely join any club, be it large or be it small, but who nevertheless respond to personal interest and concern by understanding adults. I myself know of a few young professional men who are giving just that service to two or three young people who have their own difficulties, their own problems. That work is never publicised; it is unknown, and all the more valuable because it is unknown. There is probably a great deal more that I have never heard of. But there is a challenge here to a great many young men and young women, who have had the advantages of a fuller education, to give their services in this way to youth; and not only through the organised youth clubs and youth centres.
My Lords, I believe, and I imagine that in our hearts we all believe, that the young people of to-day as a whole have many splendid qualities. Some of them are rebels against society; and, within limits, to be rebellious against society in the days of one's youth is an admirable quality. Most of us were once rebels—at least I hope we were. My own recollection of my more youthful days is of a group of some six people engaging in a particular activity which would certainly have landed us in the police court had we not got away with sufficient speed. Four of that six are Archdeacons and two of them are now Bishops. What conclusions are drawn from that, your Lordships can decide for yourselves.
The young people of to-day have a frankness and an objective honesty which, rightly used and developed, augurs well for the future. But they do need help, and they need help in the right way. The majority of them are plunged from the relatively sheltered community life of a good school into 762 commerce or industry, into a life for which, by and large, they have not been really prepared. I think the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Norwich, spoke of the importance of giving opportunities for community service in the last year of school life. I know that where that has been tried it has been of the greatest value. Voluntary bodies, in conjunction with local authorities, have begun to develop schemes for transition from full-time schooling to full-time earning which are already beginning to show their value.
But it is on the Youth Service as a whole that the real responsibility lies for those two or three vitally important years when the young boy or the young girl is first engaged in the beginning of his or her life's work. They can, and sometimes do, find themselves adrift, because they have not been prepared for the adult responsibilities, which come on them too quickly; because they have not been prepared even for the expenditure of sums of money which to them, and, indeed, perhaps to us, would appear very large indeed.
In this formative and important period, the work of the Albemarle Committee, the generosity and speed with which the Government began to implement its proposals, the flexible and understanding way in which the Ministry of Education has interpreted them, and, on the whole (and here, again, our experience has been fortunate), the co-operation and the assistance of the local authorities, have enabled the voluntary bodies to do a great deal. We could do more, and we could always do with a great deal more help. We should always be grateful for more financial help; and we should always be grateful if it could come a little more quickly and if we could be assured a little sooner that it was definitely coming our way. But, on the whole, I must express our gratitude for what has been done to assist the voluntary bodies.
The voluntary bodies have a very large share indeed in youth work. They themselves would be the first to recognise that they have much to learn from the statutory Youth Service, and that their own resources of men, women and skill, are not yet anything like adequate for the needs. But they have one supreme advantage: because they are 763 voluntary, they can to a much larger extent do what they like, as they like and when they like. In other words, they have a freedom for experiment and, by the encouragement of that freedom for experiment, I believe that some of the things which the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, is anxious to see happen, could happen much more frequently than they do. We are grateful for the help which the Youth Service Development Council give to experimental work. I hope that they will go on giving that help, and that they will not hesitate to assist projects, the success of which appears almost doubtful from the outset, but which, if it could be achieved, might give us a most valuable break-through into some relationships with some groups of young people. In all of this, my Lords, it is vitally important that the partnership between the Churches, the voluntary bodies and the statutory authorities should become increasingly intimate; that that association and partnership should be marked at the first stages of planning and not merely at the implementation of this or that proposal. Each needs the others.
I think, too, that we need more opportunities at the national level for pooling our experiences and widening our vision. We need to be encouraged, and to encourage each other into experiments which may help young people to set the pace themselves. A great deal has been done with the help which has already been made available. The Church youth centres are no longer the dull and dingy places that they used so often to be. They are being decorated in the modern idiom, very often by the young people themselves, whose courage in colour schemes outstrips that of many of their leaders. In other places—and I can think of a dozen instances—young people themselves have taken hold of a church crypt, or a rather neglected part of some school outbuildings, and by their own efforts have transformed it into something which is really an attractive home for that particular group around which their activities may centre. I hope that we shall always encourage that kind of development.
There is, I know, a point at which sometimes, if we give too much help from outside, we discourage the experimenting and the initiative of the young 764 people themselves. But the essential things, we believe, are variety and partnership. The Churches can help in many ways, and not least by providing the services of understanding adults, not to be leaders so much as friends and guides. Our aim and our desire is to make that partnership with every agency concerned with young people as active and fruitful as we can do, for the sake of the young people themselves.
§ 4.59 p.m.
THE EARL OF BUCKINGHAM-SHIRE
My Lords, in rising to speak to your Lordships, mainly on behalf of the Boy Scouts, I should perhaps declare two interests in this connection. A number of your Lordships know that there is a branch of the movement known as the B.P. Guild for those of us who have been, or still are, active in the Movement. There is a branch in the Houses of Parliament, and the interest I have to declare is that they did me the honour last year of electing me their Chairman. I am also Chairman of the County Scout Council of the Buckinghamshire Boy Scouts' Association. So far as the B.P. Guild is concerned, I do not know how many of your Lordships are aware of the fact that the noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack is a member of the Parliamentary branch, and we are very pleased to have him. I hope that other members of your Lordships' House who have been scouts will do their best to join: I shall be very pleased to do what I can to help.
I should like to take this opportunity of thanking the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, for moving his Motion in the tone and spirit in which he did. He set, I think, a very good tone for this debate, and it has been a good one. My reason for addressing your Lordships was to raise the question of grants to clubs and youth movements catering for those under the age of fourteen, but I am in the unusual position of having had from the noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack an answer to the point I was going to make before making my speech. I am grateful to him for informing me that he was going to take up the point, and if I may just develop it a little your Lordships will see why.
The Albermarle Report recommended two types of grants, one of which was to the 14 to 20 age group. The Boy 765 Scouts (and, I may say, the Girl Guides, also, which is the sister movement) have been very concerned about the original decision of Her Majesty's Government to restrict grants to this particular age group, and it is good to hear from the noble and learned Viscount that the age limit of those groups eligible for grants has been lowered to below fourteen. I am sure this will give great satisfaction—and not only to the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides. There are a number of other youth organisations that take in people under the age of fourteen, such as the Boys' Brigade, the Church Lads' Brigade, the Junior Red Cross and, I believe I am right in saying—perhaps the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition will correct me if I am wrong—the Co-operative Youth Movement, also.
The other point I wish to raise is on paragraph 327 of the Albemarle Report, which recommends that young people should pay more than they do. Before the war, I was a Travelling Commissioner for the Boy Scouts, going all over the country, and I found that most groups encouraged their boys to pay something towards the camp, jamboree or whatever it was to which they were going. Those in the poorer parts of the country, such as in South Wales and parts of Yorkshire, could not afford to pay much, but they were encouraged to pay something, and it made an enormous difference. They felt that they themselves were contributing towards something that they were going to go to and enjoy. The Albemarle Report, in paragraph 328, recommended that local education authorities should review their charges in this regard, and I should like to ask whether the Minister has done anything about it. I hope they do not raise them too high and so discourage the young people from themselves contributing to these camps, or whatever it is to which they are going, or from raising money by their own efforts. We feel that it is most important that they should do this. Parents, we find, are nearly always willing to help, as well. A number of the groups have parents' committees, which are most helpful.
The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, made the point (I have not got his words down exactly, but I think I have the sense of them) that there are hundreds of young people who have found themselves through being given responsibility—and 766 that is most important. If I may give one illustration of that sort of thing, it is the rather unusual one of a group in the South of London, actually in Surrey, who built their own headquarters; and they built it in the form of a cottage. I had the honour and privilege to go and open this new headquarters of theirs, which was built before the war. They had built it pretty well entirely themselves, under the direction of a builder, and it looked like one of the cottages in that village. That is the sort of responsibility I mean, although, of course, there are all sorts of other forms of responsibility that young people should be given in order to help them to find themselves. In any way that youth clubs, youth movements, and so on, can do that—and they are doing it; we know they are—they will be doing a real service in building our future citizens.
§ 5.7 p.m.
§ BARONESS ELLIOT OF HARWOOD
My Lords, as I rise at this late hour I shall not delay your Lordships very long, but I have listened with tremendous interest to this debate. We are most indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, for once again putting this Motion on the Order Paper and for giving those of us who are keenly interested in this subject a chance to make a few remarks, It is also very encouraging, I think, for those people who are working in the field in the Youth Service to know that your Lordships are interested in this subject—and this is the second such debate that has taken place.
This debate is particularly important, because we have had the benefit of a very interesting speech from the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor. I was particularly interested in his remarks about what is happening in the Council of Europe, because I recollect, immediately after the war was ended, being sent over, I think by the Foreign Office, to lecture about youth work and on how to start youth clubs in the British Zone (as it then was) of Germany, and the difficulty that one had in explaining what the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, was explaining to us very cogently in regard to what he called responsibility and self-programming clubs. That seemed to be a very far cry for Germans in those days. To-day, judging by what one reads in the literature that comes over from Europe, many 767 experiments are going on—and, indeed, much practical work—on the lines of the service for youth as we know it here. Only a year ago, I think, Lady Albemarle herself went to Germany in order to continue the process of the exchange of views and furthering the interest in what is going on in this country and what is going on over there. So I agree with the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor that this subject is more important than merely what is happening in the United Kingdom: it is something which is spreading to Europe and elsewhere.
It has also been very interesting to listen to two maiden speeches. That by the noble Lord, Lord Coutanche, was particularly interesting to me because I am a member, and have been for a great many years, of the Carnegie (United Kingdom) Trust. It was immediately after the war that the Trust gave some grants to the Channel Islands for youth work, and it was very encouraging to hear from the noble Lord of the effect that these grants had had, and the help that they had given to them. The speech of the noble Lord, Lord Vaux of Harrowden, of somebody who is working on the ground now in the Youth Service, was also of very great interest indeed.
My Lords, tribute has been paid, and rightly so, to the Ministry of Education and to the work of the Advisory Council. I should like to pay tribute to the Minister himself, because we all know what a tremendous amount of work falls upon the Minister of Education. He has enormous problems connected with education, teachers and so on; yet he has found time to take the chair of this Committee, and to add his drive, influence and power to its work. I am perfectly certain that that has been of the greatest possible value to the Advisory Committee, which has arisen from the Albemarle Report.
There is one other matter I should like to mention, to which I do not think anyone has referred, and that is the admirable publication which the Ministry are now putting out about the Youth Service, telling, in a very attractive manner, all about the different experiments throughout the country, linking together those experiments, so that anyone receiving these bulletins knows what is going on elsewhere and can learn from 768 those experiments. All these things are, I think, excellent, and in view of the fact that the Report came out only in 1958 and that work was started in 1959—and this has been going on for only two years—I must say that we can congratulate the Government upon the fact that they have gone ahead so very rapidly. I was extremely interested in Lord Stonham's descriptions of his experiences in connection with Youth Ventures. It is very tempting, if you are, and have been for many years, associated with youth work, to talk of the youth club you know; and I could cap his stories about gangs and difficulties many times over, but I will not bore your Lordships with that. It is undoubtedly a fascinating activity either to become at any period of life a club leader or to have a close association with any group of clubs.
One other subject which has not been mentioned, in addition to the many which have been commented on in your Lordships' debate, is not only the great importance, which has been rightly stressed, of the Leicester College and the training of youth leaders, but the fact that now youth leadership is a profession like any other profession, such as that of probation officer, or teacher, or any social work type of profession. There are now salary scales which compare quite favourably with salary scales in other comparable professions. I think the salary begins at £680 and goes up to £1,000 a year for those who have taken proper training. My Lords, when I look back over the many years in which I used to struggle to get recognition for youth leadership, and recognition for a professional status, I realise that that, in itself, is a very big step forward indeed. I should like to congratulate the Ministry and the Minister on having achieved that very important advance in the question of leadership training and the status of youth leaders.
My Lords, the question of finance has been touched on and is, of course, a very important and very great problem. To one who worked for so long with so little money, it seems that those who are working in the field to-day are in a much happier position than I was in the days when I was chairman of youth clubs and worked in a youth club myself. Voluntary organisations are getting three times as much money as before, and although we could always spend more 769 money, that is certainly a big step forward. With regard to the building programme, I was interested to read in one of these bulletins of the different experiments which are taking place. Because, in days gone by, we tried to design an ideal club building, and I can promise your Lordships that it was very nearly an impossible thing to do. To-day people have much better ideas than we had in those days, and the buildings which are being put up now are very much better, I am sure, than those which were put up in the past, even though they were supposed to be the best we could do at the time. The money going into buildings is, I am sure, well spent; because without buildings and without leaders there really is no method of attracting the young to-day into any kind of club work at all.
I also welcome the fact that, due to the number of applications which have come forward, the Minister has now had to co-ordinate the work and the applications and to ask the local authorities and the voluntary organisations to get together in the different localities so as to see what priority there is in any particular building, and how the building, or the playing space, or whatever it is, can best be used. I am sure that that, in itself, is a very valuable thing, even though it may mean slowing down a little the start of any building programme.
That brings me to the great importance of this co-operation with the local education authorities. That has always been the key to the development of the Youth Service, ever since 1939, when we first started the service of youth, just before the war. I have been trying to make some inquiries as to how that co-operation is going. It seems still to be, as it was in those days, rather patchy. Some local education authorities are much more co-operative and helpful than others. Some voluntary organisations are much more helpful than others. It seems to be much the same pattern, and I suppose it will remain so.
I remember, while I was chairman of a voluntary organisation, often taking a rather critical view of the local education authorities in the way they handled the voluntary organisation; but now I am Chairman of a local education authority, I find myself being often 770 quite irritated by the way in which the voluntary organisations put over their case. It is a great thing to find yourself on both sides of the fence, and you begin to realise how difficult this question of co-operation is. I am reminded of an old rhyme referring to the clever and the goad:Alas, it is seldom or neverThat the two hit it off as they should;For the good are so harsh to the clever,And the clever so rude to the good".This, indeed, often happens with the co-operation which we hope to establish between local education authorities and voluntary organisations. Nevertheless, throughout the whole country—in fact, everywhere—this co-operation is strengthening and going forward. I only hope that the Minister, who has a very keen eye for these things, and the Advisory Council of which he is chairman, will see their way to prod forward a little, if they can, the rather more recalcitrant local education authorities, and also to try to persuade those voluntary organisations which are often so suspicious of local education authorities that their suspicions are really not justified and that this co-operation can go forward with goodwill on both sides.
My Lords, there are one or two paragraphs in the Albemarle Report which I should like to mention for a moment, because I do not think they have been referred to very much this afternoon, and I believe they are matters which could be further invoked. There is reference in paragraph 232 to the use of residential centres for youth work. I have an interest in this matter, because I am chairman of quite a large holiday house in Scotland which is used for training and holiday purposes, and I know of other holiday houses and permanent camping sites which are very valuable indeed in this work. I could have hoped that some attention might be drawn to the development still further of residential centres which allow for a big variety of activities. They can be used not only for holidays and training, but for things like the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Schemes, the Outward Bound courses, the Endeavour courses for the National Association of Youth Clubs, and so on. And variety, I am certain, my Lords, is 771 the one essential if you are to attract the young people to-day.
In paragraph 234 of the Albemarle Report, there is reference to one way in which co-operation between local authorities and voluntary organisations might be developed—a very entertaining paragraph, I may say, about parks committees, and how they might help to enable voluntary organisations, and indeed their own youth groups, to use the facilities of the parks in their areas. Too often, as they rightly say in that paragraph, it is a matter of "Keep off the grass" and not allowing young people to run about on it. I 'believe a great deal more could be done by closer co-operation with these committees of local authorities which are dealing with open spaces and parks than is done to-day. For instance, why should they always shut at darkening? If football and hockey pitches were flood-lit, games could go on, during the wintertime, between five and seven or eight o'clock at night.
The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, rightly expressed the importance of promoting interest in the Youth Service throughout the whole community. Those of us who have been in the Service for many years have been used to pursuing this matter in a series of jerks—now rushing forward, then stopping and then going backwards and starting off again—not a very successful method of carrying on and developing the Service. During the war a great deal of impetus was given to the work we were doing, but for some time after the war it slowed down completely and restarted with the advent of the Albemarle Report.
I think it is important that we should arouse throughout the whole community, not only a real interest in what is going on, but also the confidence that it is going to continue, because this has only begun, and if we are going to get any solutions to the problems which lie before us it is going to take us no no less than ten years, as the Albemarle Report has said. I hope that it will become part and parcel of the further education system in this country and continue forever. There is no reason why, if we develop this system and it is really effective, it should not be a 772 permanent part of our educational sytem. So I plead for confidence in the future and that the Ministry should inspire that confidence by their actions and the information which they put out.
I would underline another excellent thing which the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, said—namely, the importance of trying to get an interest among the community itself. Too many people pass by on the other side and are not concerned about the young in their area. If this Service is to be a permanent part of community life, whether in a small rural area or in the big city, it can be done only by having the interest of all the adults in the community as well as of the young people themselves. The noble Lord mentioned one authority from whom he had great help and another from whom he received no help at all. Of course, that happens to us all and we know that there is this variety. But I make a plea for impressing upon the ordinary citizen in the community that he also must play a part, by his interest and encouragement, in developing the Youth Service. Even though he himself may not wish to take an active part in a club or organisation, still, by his active support and the general impetus he gives to the Youth Service, he is helping to build it up and make it stronger as time goes on.
TO-day we have many opportunities which did not exist in the past. If one simply thinks of the energies of the young people themselves, which could be canalised into useful and productive channels, and which arise because the young are healthier, better fed, better equipped, better looked after, earn more money, and have far more time to spend on activities of one kind of another outside their work and schooling, one sees that all this makes them much more demanding of the Youth Service and of the organisations to which they belong.
It is necessary that we should gear all these organisations to the present more energetic and "up-and-coming" generation, far more than we have ever done before. I think that this is the great challenge facing the voluntary organisations and statutory organisations alike. It is not a case of saying that the young are any better or worse than any other generation, but that they are different, and far more advanced in a great many 773 ways and have far more money, opportunities and equipment. They ride about on motor bicycles and in motor cars of their own; they drive ahead and are very enterprising. All this is more difficult to canalise into constructive ways than the activities of young people before the war or even earlier. This is the challenge we have to meet. But I have a strong feeling that we are beginning to meet it. What we want is to continue to drive on, and get more help and support, from both the community and the Government.
This Report is only two years old and it has already brought about a revolution in many areas of this field of youth training for citizenship. The Government are to be congratulated, and I only hope that they will go on from strength to strength and not feel that they must leave this to somebody else, because it is essential that this reorganisation should be carried through until the Youth Service becomes part and parcel of the whole further education system of this country.
§ 5.27 p.m.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Earl would permit me to speak for a moment or two. I will not keep him straining at the leash for long. I have found this a most interesting discussion, though I should not have thought of intervening—because I have no particular knowledge of the Youth Service about which the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, has been speaking—had I not felt encouraged to do so by the latter part of his speech (unfortunately, I was not here to hear the earlier part of it, not realising that your Lordships' House was going to meet at 2 o'clock), in which he discussed the effect of enthusiastic engagement in youth clubs on keeping boys out of mischief. The juvenile delinquency side of this matter is of considerable interest to me, as I know it is to other noble Lords.
What my noble friend said was very interesting, and the optimistic speech of the noble Lady who has just resumed her seat is also very encouraging. But when one looks back, while it may be true that the reorganisation under the Albemarle Report has been going on only for a short time, the fact remains that we have had these youth clubs for a very long time; they have been grow- 774 ing in numbers, and the amount of enthusiastic work which has been put into them has been very great. Yet we who are interested in problems of penal law and delinquency know only too well that the greater the effort put into these organisations, the more the crime rate seems to increase. This is very distressing.
Some people have been wondering whether, quite apart from the Youth Service, there is not a good deal more to be done in helping the parents. The reason why I intervene is principally to ask whether it would be possible, somehow or other, to link the Youth Service more closely with the family. The more one sees of this problem of juvenile delinquency the more one realises that one has to get further and further back. Before the stage is reached for a boy to enter a youth club, it may be that in his family surroundings the seeds of future delinquency have been sown. It may well be that the seed is eradicated by the youth club at a later age—and one can only hope that it will be. But I am afraid that in many cases that is not done, even when the boy gets into a youth club; and there are a large number of boys who do not get into the youth clubs.
THE EARL OF BUCKINGHAM-SHIRE
Perhaps I might interrupt the noble Lord for one moment. I do not know whether he was present when was speaking.
THE EARL OF BUCKINGHAM-SHIRE
I did mention the subject of parents' committees in relation to girl guides and boy scouts. Most groups have them.
§ LORD CHORLEY
I appreciate that, and I perhaps ought to have paid rather more attention to the point when the noble Earl made it, because I think it is one which may well prove fruitful.
Many of your Lordships may have seen an interesting article in the Observer last Sunday by a young scoundrel who described in considerable detail how he grow up. Obviously his parents were doing their best to help him. Unfortunately, his mother was killed in a 'bombing raid, but seemed fairly clear that long before that happened he 775 was already set on his course. And although his mother was clearly making every effort, and his father supporting her, to prevent his going along this course, it would seem to me obvious from what he said that they had been brought up short by the difficulty of tackling this strain or tendency in the boy. I am sure, from seeing so many of these cases as a magistrate, that this is frequently the case. The modern parent's situation in respect of the family is, as the noble Lady said, so different from that which prevailed in Victorian and Edwardian times. It seems to me that there is here need for some further service.
I am not at all clear about the best way of developing this. It may be through the children's officers, particularly in the country districts. In the district with which I am familiar as a magistrate, I have known of a number of cases where the children's officer has been able to act as an adviser to parents of families where difficulties were arising. I should imagine that in the bigger cities, where this problem is much more acute, help by the children's officer would be more difficult to secure. I see the noble Baroness, Lady Swanborough, sitting opposite, and it occurs to me that, while the W.V.S. have a great deal to do, and do it magnificently, it is possible that they might help with this. I am sure that there is a great deal more help needed by parents of children at the present time, and that one of the most fruitful avenues by which we can approach the delinquency problem (which I think is sufficiently closely connected with the subject matter of the debate this afternoon to justify my intervention) is to help the parents in the task they have in keeping their children straight in the difficult conditions of the modern world.
§ 5.34 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, who initiated this debate so tellingly and from so creative an experience will feel happy in the speeches that he has provoked. All the speakers have not only thought a great deal about youth but have lived this subject in different ways for many years. We have had speeches from two noble Ladies, two Bishops, two outstanding maiden speakers (in whose success, for quite 776 different reasons, I took particular pleasure), the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor, the noble Earl, Lord Buckinghamshire, who have been so intimately connected with the Boy Scouts, and the noble Lord who has specialised among the delinquent young people. I find it difficult to make an assessment of the achievement since publication of the Albemarle Report which would not seem ungenerous or unfriendly to the Government (the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, is draped in red to-day, but she made a speech of which I am sure every Conservative will be proud) yet which at the same time, would seem sufficiently realistic to those who are, quite apart from Party connection, working closely in the youth field. I must be forgiven if I do not strike exactly the right balance. Certainly many good things have been done since the Albemarle Report was issued.
Noble Lords and noble Ladies will remember the first debate on youth that we had three years ago, when we all condemned the youth service as one that had been scandalously neglected for many years. That was before the Albemarle Report. One is naturally bound to ask whether progress has been as fast as it should have been since then. Many good things have been done, and if I do not refer to them at length, it is partly because anything I say about the Government's achievements they can say better, and certainly with more enthusiasm. I do not think there was ever a Government who were, so to speak, better at blowing their own trumpet in relation to their performances, and therefore I will not attempt to compete with them in that field. But I put it on record that there are many things which the Government and their servants have achieved in the last two or three years for which anyone who cares for youth must be grateful. Yet there is a great feeling that the tempo has declined; that there has been some loss of interest in high places. These things are undoubtedly hard to measure.
I should like to put one or two questions to the noble Lord, Lord Newton, who is to reply. I rather think that, though he has had some slight notice of these questions, he will not be able to answer them—not through any failing on his part, but because I do not 777 think the answers are available. And yet the answers, or some of them, should be available. We have been given information by the Lord Chancellor and in other places about the increased capital expenditure, but one is bound to ask whether the restrictive measures taken last year, in what was thought to be the interests of the economy, have had or will have any effect on the development of the Youth Service. We have not been given any clue to-day, so far as I know, as to whether the pay pause and all that has gone with it has had, or will have, any retarding effect. One gathers that the restrictions have come too late to have a retarding effect on the capital programme for the Youth Service for 1962–63. But what about 1963–64? I ask the noble Lord directly if he can tell us whether the capital programme for 1963–64 will be in any way affected by the restrictive measures the Government have felt bound to take. And can he throw any light on what the capital programme will be in 1963–64?
Then, again, if we are trying to discover what progress has been made, we have been informed in various places and at various times—and I think Ministers have subscribed 10 this view—that the Youth Service caters, by and large, for about one-third of our young people. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, I think, suggested 40 per cent. But, at any rate, the proportion is generally thought to be of that order. That was so at the time when the Albemarle Committee were studying these matters: it was then concluded that we were perhaps touching about one-third through the Youth Service. Three years after our debate, and two years after the publication of the Albemarle Report, can we be given any indication by the Government as to whether the numbers making use of the Youth Service have increased very much?
I have not been able to obtain any real light on this matter. In so far as I have obtained any information at all, through voluntary bodies, I have the impression that in 1960 there was not any notable increase over 1959, though 1960 might be thought to be rather early to expect to see much change. I think we are at least bound to ask, if a great deal has been done by the Government, whether there are any signs as yet of its having any effect on 778 the membership of the Youth Service. In the absence of any information, we must ask the Government on a later occasion to try to tell us sooner what is happening, because without that sort of information it is hard to make any fair judgment.
Then, again, can we be told—in my opinion we certainly should be told in this debate, but I rather doubt whether we can be—how much is now being spent on the Youth Service out of public funds, central and local, compared with the expenditure before the Albemarle Committee reported? In 1959 we were given the impression that if you bring in the expenditure of she local authorities and the Government grant to them, the total public expenditure would be of the order of £3 million, or possibly rather less. At that time perhaps only £250,000 was direct Government grant, and most of the rest of the expenditure would be local authority expenditure which would be partly recouped from the Government. At any rate, that was the kind of figure, £3 million or rather less. Can we be told, even in the roughest figures, what is being spent to-day?—because I would certainly say that we ought to know. If the Government have no means of finding out at the moment I think they should be criticised for that, and they should tell us why it is impossible to find out, if it was known before and when previously they were able to let us have a rough picture.
A well-informed and helpful gentleman gave me an official estimate to the effect that the direct Government expenditure has been trebled, or more than trebled, from something like £250,000 to more than £750,000. But that is only a relatively small proportion of the total money. It was suggested to me that perhaps the local expenditure would have increased in the same sort of proportion. But that would appear to be surmise at the moment, and I am asking the noble Lord directly whether he can give us any information at all as to the increase in public spending on the Youth Service since the time of the Albemarle Report—not just direct Government expenditure, but expenditure by local authorities, including any grant they receive from the Government. Those are some of the questions which one is bound to put if one is trying to ask 779 whether the Government have done much, apart from the many things that they have said about the Youth Service, and apart from certain steps which certainly point in the right direction and which I do not want to disparage.
I am only one person interested in the Youth Service, and I have no secret sources of knowledge; but if they were asked what is the best available opinion about the way in which the Service is progressing now, I think most people would say that it was very patchy and that there was a great disparity between the progress being made by the good authorities and the progress being made by the bad authorities, with many no doubt falling in between. There is a great disparity in the extent to which the local authorities collaborate with the voluntary bodies. There is a great disparity in the extent to which the local bodies are at all alive to their responsibilities and are making any real exertions. I am glad the noble Baroness, Lady Ravensdale of Kedleston, who spoke so well, agrees with me there. If that is so, one is bound to ask what the Government are proposing to do about the situation.
I appreciate the courtesy of the Lord Chancellor in returning, because I know he has had an exceptionally busy day. It is just like him to come back to give me a chance of replying to a line of argument he presented.
I am bound to point out that the Albemarle Committee themselves made a recommendation which would at any rate have attempted to cope with this problem. Of the recommendations in Chapter 10, No. (5) runs as follows:Local education authorities, in consultation with voluntary organisations, should review and bring up to date their further education schemes, so far as these concern provision for the leisure of young people.That is really a summary of a point of view which is expressed more fully in various places, but particularly perhaps in paragraph 163. They call for a speedy development of the Service, and say:However, this cannot be secured by resolutions alone. Action is needed. As a first step we recommend that the further education schemes of local education authorities be brought up to date so far as they concern provision for the leisure of young people.For reasons which the Lord Chancellor touched upon—and I appreciate he could 780 not go into the matter at enormous length—the Government have not adopted that finding of the Albemarle Committee. They have rejected what seems to me to be one of the key findings of the Committee. No doubt they sought to achieve the same aim in other ways, and I expect the noble Lord will explain how they have tried to tackle this issue. But in fact they have rejected the procedure which seems to me to be the most obvious and the most likely to be effective for the purpose.
I was not able to take down all the words of the noble and learned Viscount when he was explaining their reasons, but perhaps I shall be replying to him if I quote from a circular which was issued by the head of the Ministry of Education in regard to this point in August, 1960. If I misinterpret the Lord Chancellor, it will be only because he will have differed from what is said in the Ministry of Education circular. What the circular said was:Some authorities … have been able to maintain a high standard and level of activity. Others have been less successful"—that is rather a tactful way of putting, it, I suppose—and the present state of the Service varies greatly from area to area.That, therefore, is common ground. That was stated in the Ministry circular of August, 1960, and I do not think anyone claims that that situation has been very much changed since then. Then the circular goes on:Because of these wide variations, which mean that each area has its own particular problems, and because of the need for experiments, the Minister does not propose to ask authorities to approach the task of expanding and improving the Youth Service in a uniform way.Nobody is asking him that. That is one of those unnecessary negatives, because no one was calling upon him to produce a uniform Service at all. But they then rather craftily slip in an afterthought, which deals with the suggestion in the Albemarle Report—and I think noble Lords will see that the logic is not very strong—For the same reasons he is not asking them to submit formal revisions of their further education development plans.The reason given was the great variety in their achievements, and that would be 781 the more reason why it should be necessary to call on them to submit plans formally to the Minister.
I have not the text of the circular with me now, but I think we all recall—certainly the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor will—that at the time of the Mental Health Bill we discussed this whole question of how the local authorities were going to be induced to expand their mental health services greatly in the future. We on this side pressed for decisions, but that proposal was rejected by the Government on the grounds that the Minister himself was going to insist that the local authorities produced their own mental health plans. That, in fact, is what the Minister of Health has been very busy doing since that time. I must put this directly to the noble Lord—I know he has had notice, though I realise it is not his fault if the Government's policy is mistaken; I am old enough to know that—if the Minister of Health can take steps of that kind, why cannot the Minister of Education? I am bound to think that this particular piece of argumentation is the feeblest I have seen in a Government circular, and that is saying quite a lot. So I hope the noble Lord will tell us why the Minister is not prepared to take these steps.
When all is said and done, the Youth Service cannot be expanded in the long run unless all the local authorities do their full share. Obviously many of them will do their share. They will respond to the carrot, if you like, and the carrot has not been very generous in the apportionment of the percentage grant. Nevertheless, I do not want to pursue those financial points now. On the whole, many local authorities will respond to the carrot, but some, I am afraid I must say, need the stick, and unless this is actually used in this constitutional way we shall never see a National Youth Service of the kind that every single Member of this House earnestly desires.
I do not want to delay the House too long but I should like to offer just one or two general thoughts. Most of the fundamental things have been said, and on some things I may seem to have differed. Indeed, I do differ with the case on the administrative side that the noble and learned Viscount, the Lord 782 Chancellor, has deployed, although I feel in very great sympathy with the kind of moral aspiration which he held out to those seeking to improve the Youth Service. There is plenty of argument, if any of us give a talk about the Youth Service, in so far as we find ourselves arguing again on whether we want to do good to the young people or whether we want to make contact. My noble friend Lord Stonham gave the answer to that very shortly, and I do not think it can be improved on, in an earlier speech, when he said that we do want to help them and to do good to them, but we must get them in first. I think that, in one way or another, everybody has said that this afternoon; and in that sense we are all thrown together.
I hope my noble friend Lord Stonham will forgive me—he was generous about my connections with Youth Venture, and I have done nothing to help this Service, except, of course, to play a small part in persuading the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, to take on the chairmanship, for which I think I shall be greatly blessed—but I cannot possibly go so far as he does in distinguishing between the conventional and the experimental approach. At least, I realise that all the time there must be progress, and there is no doubt in my mind that those who are most deeply versed in the Youth Service are agreed that the particular initiative taken by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, has been good for everybody. It is not merely that he, with colleagues, has started new clubs, but that he has stirred up things generally. In both those respects, therefore, those who, like myself, know these things, realise his great service.
Those who are concerned with the long-standing clubs I think would say now that they are experimenting in ways that are sometimes as revolutionary as those of Youth Venture. It will be worth while really to set them out on another occasion. There is a great deal of experimenting going on, and perhaps one of the greatest services which Youth Venture has performed is to provoke so much mental and physical activity all over this field.
I could not help looking back at a booklet which I was going through the other day and which deals with the story of the boys' club best known to 783 me, although I have not done much to help them in recent years—the Eton Manor Club, which was started in 1908. I should like to read to the House just one paragraph about this Eton Manor Club in Hackney Wick, written by the founder, the gentleman who first brought it to birth. It is rather interesting because it is actually dated 1908. I quote:The Boys' Club, which is only one of our many institutions for lads in Hackney Wick, is run for the very roughest class of working boy, and as we look back on the past twelve months, though we have at the same time every reason to be satisfied with the progress made, yet we find ourselves face to face with the danger that our Club may become so respectable as to keep away the ragged street-arab, with whom we try so hard to keep in touch. It is not so much that the appearance of the boys themselves has altered in any appreciable degree, as that an atmosphere of order and self-respect has grown up in the Club.When I heard the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, speaking on what Youth Venture has been able to achieve, my mind went back to this Eton Manor Club. There is nothing new under the sun, and in each generation innovation is essential if progress is to be made. The problem of getting help to the unclubbables or the roughest boys will, I suppose, remain with us, but we must think out new techniques the whole time. This expression is not an original thought of mine, but, to put it all together in a sentence, we have to face the fact that we are dealing with young adults and not with children. That is, I think, perhaps the beginning of wisdom, if we are thinking of the approach of to-day.
I should like to make two other points. One is that it seems to me that the Youth Service must, on no account, lose contact with the educational authorities. As children stay at school longer—and I am bound to say I wish to Heaven the Government would proceed a great deal faster to implement the Crowther Report!—either compulsorily or voluntarily, they will become better educated, and it would be the greatest possible mistake if we in the Youth Service moved away from the educational service. There should be much closer contact with education than there has been.
Finally, I should like to comment on the note struck by so many of the 784 speakers to-day, in the first place by the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Norwich. It seems to me absolutely right that we must think not just of service to youth, but rather by youth. This is the thing, so to speak, of which we admit we are guilty. It seems to me he was so abundantly right in his slogan "Service by youth". We have heard a great deal about that this afternoon, and in that respect this debate has been an advance on previous debates. The idea of youth rendering a service to others, not just as a theory but as something which has been happening, has been a most encouraging feature of the debate this afternoon. For that and other reasons we are all most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham.
I must put it to the Minister, whom we all respect and who we know will do his duty in a few minutes, that when we first of all started these debates in 1959 I find that I said that the Youth Service was passing through a period of suspended disillusionment. Now I think we are passing through a period of suspended hopefulness. I do not think that what the noble Lord can say this afternoon will alter that very greatly, but I beg him to encourage the Youth Service and, above all, to convey to his colleagues, as I know the Lord Chancellor will, that there is no subject which means more to the House of Lords, and few subjects which mean more to the country.
§ House adjourned during pleasure.
§ House resumed.