§ 2.57 p.m.
§ Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion moved on Tuesday last by Baroness Elliot of Harwood—namely, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as follows:
§ "Most Gracious Sovereign—We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I rise to continue the debate on the Address. With the permission of the House, I will confine myself entirely to that passage which says that legislation will be introduced to reorganise local government in Greater London. I always try to congratulate the Government if I can find that in any way compatible with my conscience. This time it is even harder than usual, but I can, at least, congratulate Her Majesty's Government and the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, in particular; I congratulate all very sincerely on the noble Earl's well-earned promotion to a high position in the Home Office since we last debated this subject. On this he has made, if I may say so,—and it will be the last nice thing I will say of him or of any member of the Administration—a remarkable reputation in a short space of time among your Lordships.
There is one more nice thing. I hear from my prison spies that he has been working exceptionally hard on this subject, and I have no doubt he has also been obtaining expert advice from the departmental point of view on the future of the Children's Service. If he will allow me to say so, the noble Earl took a lot of punishment without much power of reply on the question of the Children's Service. He was lambasted by the noble Baroness, Lady Wootton of Abinger, and other speakers when we last debated London local government. But no doubt he is now somewhat better equipped with official answers. But I 210 shall be surprised (of course, he cannot say anything very clear about this) if in the Home Office he has found any support whatever for the Government's plan of breaking up the splendid Children's Service of the London County Council in a manner which has been condemned by every expert known to me. I retained a slight hope, not a very strong one, that sanity would prevail—even up to the last minutes it was possible—and that this ghastly proposal would not be proceeded with. With the whole world pre-occupied with some of the most perplexing and dangerous issues which have ever confronted mankind, one hoped one might have been spared this immensely complicated and highly provocative irrelevance; but it was not to be.
We have been told in the gracious Speech that legislation, on the lines, I suppose, of the White Paper, is intended. It has been stated elsewhere that the Bill in question will be published shortly. Perhaps the noble Earl will be able to tell us something to-day of the programme that the Government have in mind. Of course, we must wait for the Bill before we get down to details, but from the White Paper issued a year ago and from subsequent adjustments, including an absolutely vital change in respect of education, I suppose we know the kind of thing that the Government have in mind, and we on these Benches and those far beyond these Benches have no difficulty in condemning it, root and branch.
Whatever the merits or demerits of the Government's proposals, no one will deny that they are audacious and revolutionary. I cannot myself remember—older Members of the House perhaps will put me straight—a more controversial scheme in the administrative sphere, or for that matter in the constitutional sphere, since the House of Lords reform, now well over fifty years ago. The Government, after all, are seeking to liquidate the L.C.C., perhaps the most famous municipal authority in the world. They want to sink the L.C.C. without trace, so that there will be no more an L.C.C., if the Government have their way.
I hope that on this occasion no one will talk as if it were just a question of altering certain boundaries which were fixed in 1888. The Greater London Council 211 proposed in place of the L.C.C. would cover a population two and a half times as large, over 8 million instead of the rather more than 3 million, and the area covered, after adjustments, is more than six times as great. Its powers would be totally different and, so far as the L.C.C. area is concerned, much reduced. This is bound to follow from the conclusion reached by the Royal Commission, which is explicitly endorsed in the Government White Paper:that the boroughs ought to become the primary unit of local government.As the House is aware, election to the Greater London Council would be based on the Parliamentary constituencies and would give a total membership of 110 over this very much larger area, as compared with 147 members in the L.C.C., if we count aldermen. Rightly or wrongly, and we say wrongly, there is no doubt that the L.C.C. is to disappear. Do not let us talk of this as being some adjustment or extension of boundaries. It is the destruction, the disappearance, of the L.C.C. And a completely new body is proposed in its place. No one seriously doubts that this destruction of the L.C.C. would be carried out in the teeth of the opposition of the majority of those who live in the L.C.C. area. No one can doubt—I would willingly give place to anyone who thinks this open to argument—that the overwhelming majority of people who live in the L.C.C. area look upon this as an act of vandalism. That is proved, if proof be needed, by the L.C.C. elections last year and by the borough elections of the present year.
Not only is the L.C.C. fighting the change—it might be said that that is not surprising: if a man tries to stab you to death, you try to stop him—but what is perhaps more striking is that the vast majority of metropolitan boroughs are just as hostile to it; and so is their representative association. Of course, I must not talk as though the destruction of the L.C.C. was all the mischief that the Government intend to bring about. The Middlesex County Council will also be obliterated and large chunks of Surrey, Essex and Kent will be torn from their counties. Slight changes in plans take place from time to time, but I think I am up to date in saying that the number of boroughs in the whole area will be 212 reduced from 86 to 32, frequently by "shot-gun marriages" of the most unwelcome kind, without the kind of public inquiry which is accepted as necessary elsewhere.
My Lords, all this can fairly be described as revolutionary. And it is a revolution in the dark, for which a blank cheque is demanded. I am not going into the question of finance—we have no idea at all of what the Government think it will cost; or of who will gain and who will lose—except to say that it is all left in a very unsatisfactory state. If anyone has wondered whether the Royal Commission thought their problem through, I suggest that he turns to page 121 of their Report, where education is described, rightly in my opinion, as "the most important of all local government functions." Certainly that is so from the point of view of expenditure. In the year 1961–62, the expenditure estimates of the L.C.C. amounted to £130 million, and of that total nearly half—£62 million—went on education. So education, financially speaking, is responsible for almost half of the total expenditure of the L.C.C. I think it can be fairly said, therefore, that if the proposals for a revolution in London government are going to make sense, they must make sense in relation to education; and if they make no sense whatever in relation to education, then they make no sense at all.
No one can claim that the educational proposals of the Royal Commission have stood up to scrutiny. The Government's White Paper rejected them, and they are now where the Government would like to put the L.C.C.—in the dustbin, sunk without trace. In their place the Government produced, and defended, to the best of their ability, in this House, a fantastic scheme of their own, which, in fact, was denounced by all educationists. That scheme was defended eloquently by the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, and by the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, but that is something of which we have also heard little. At any rate, it is not before us at the moment. I feel bound to remind the noble Earl that he defended the scheme with his customary skill and sincerity on the last occasion. I suppose that he is recanting to-day, but when we last discussed this matter he told us of 213 the advantages [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 238, col. 288]:in having education, outside the central area, as a responsibility of the individual borough.Perhaps, when he replies (though I know that he has to reply to a number of other speakers), the noble Earl will tell us whether he still stands over that language, or whether he has weakened. Perhaps he will tell us where he does stand with regard to the educational issue. Does he recant or not? I put it in the simplest and, I hope, most genteel way.
The noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, I am afraid, is unavoidably absent to-day—he is occupied in the by-elections. It is not for me to know what he is doing there, or whether he is doing much good; but, at any rate, I understand that he cannot be with us to-day. On the last occasion, the noble Viscount derided my noble friend Lord Morrison of Lambeth for defending the existing arrangement, for defending what the noble Viscount called, curiously enough, "the status quo of 1888"—though what that means in relation to education, I do not really know. The noble Viscount described my noble friend's attitude in that way, and then said (col. 202) that that wasthe one cock that will not fight.But what has happened since that debate? The Government have bowed to the storm of execration and condemnation. They have agreed to maintain in being the L.C.C. education service, which is so justly and widely admired, for at least five years, till after the coming into force of the Act. I suppose that means that they will maintain it until 1970. In other words, by this ridiculous plan the Government have set themselves a puzzle; and on their own admission they have no idea whatever of how to solve what the Commission describe as the most important feature of local government. This alone—though, of course, it is far from alone—makes nonsense of the suggestion that here is a logical, carefully worked-out scheme.
I could run through the other services which were discussed last time and which will be discussed very frequently again before this Bill ever becomes law. In all cases we can be fairly sure that great damage will be done. In some cases—housing, for example, which comes next after education in terms of 214 expenditure—the intentions and certainly the timetable are far from clear. But in the case of most of the services it is all too obvious how the damage will be done. It is all too obvious how services carefully geared to London as a whole will be broken up and impaired. More important than the authority, as we should all agree, is the service it renders; and even more important are the human beings who receive the service. Among the many prospective victims of the Government's contemplated revolution, the deprived children, the aged, the handicapped—especially, in my mind, the mentally handicapped—and the homeless come first into the thoughts of us all.
But in addition to these, and to the devoted social workers who seek to serve them, I have been very much struck in recent months by the devotion to the London County Council which is being exhibited by so many people, high and low, who care for culture. Here perhaps I was culpably ignorant, but I did not realise until I became involved in this controversy in the last few months what an enormous good will the L.C.C. had built up in the field of culture, especially in their support of the theatre and their achievements in architecture. Generally speaking, there is tremendous good will among cultural people, whether they are famous people or just people interested in the Arts.
Then there is the staff. The London County Council Staff Association have come out strongly against the scheme. In short, quite apart from Party politics, those who have received the services of the L.C.C., those who have laboured in social and cultural work in this neighbourhood, and the staffs, taking them as a whole, or at any rate many thousands of them, represented through the London County Council Staff Association, are showing an immense determination that this great corporation shall not be thrown overboard and destroyed for all time simply because of what most people, at any rate, regard as a mere calculation of Party advantage.
I do not want to speak for much longer to-day—we shall be returning to these matters many times, I am sure, in the course of the next year—but I will in a moment read to your Lordships one or two sentences from the resolution 215 which was passed unanimously at the recent Labour Party Conference at Brighton. But, however briefly, I must resist the argument that the L.C.C., for example, are opposed to any changes of any kind whatever in their functions and relationships with other bodies. This, as is well known to anybody close to this matter, is totally false. As long ago as 1955 the L.C.C. were ready to transfer to the boroughs certain services in the field of health and welfare. But that process was held up by the Government of the day. I may be wrong, but I am told that there was anxiety in official quarters about the outcome. However, the fact that the transfer did not take place was not the fault of the L.C.C., who were anxious to make the transfer. Certainly this is one matter that must be intensively studied afresh.
If, on the other hand, we may look outwards rather than inwards, there we have the scheme of the four counties, the Standing Joint Conference, which is being set up partly through L.C.C. initiative, to bring into consultation all planning and other common matters and the authorities around London. But more fundamentally, I would point out that as early as 1961 the London Labour Party agreed at a special conference that a regional planning and traffic authority should be set up for the Greater London Area; and, of course, the Greater London Area in mind there was something much larger than the Review Area which the Royal Commission were asked to examine: it would be not less than the Area studied for the Greater London Plan in 1944. Most of us are aware that planning and traffic in London are inseparable from planning and traffic matters in the South East generally. Yet there has been no inquiry into planning in the region as a whole.
My Lords, if I am asked what the Government ought to do instead of what they are doing, the short answer is simply, "Think again". But if they want a little more of a clue, then I would say: give up the idea of the destruction of the L.C.C., whether or not it means forgoing a dearly prized political advantage; look seriously instead at the possibility of establishing an effective Greater London Planning and Traffic Authority over a much wider area than 216 the Royal Commission study. Most of us believe that the Royal Commission had at the heart of their inquiry problems of planning and transport. None of us on this side of the House, and few dispassionate people elsewhere, believe that these problems cannot be solved effectively without ruining the educational and social services, as the proposals of the Government are bound to ruin them.
The Government should by now be under no misapprehension about the attitude of the Labour Party. I shall perhaps be forgiven for quoting the key sentences of the resolution unanimously passed at the Labour Party Conference at Brighton:This Conference condemns the White Paper on London Government as being particularly biased, ill-conceived and based upon a lack of understanding of local government in London.If the noble Earl is not aware of the passages that follow, I would call them most urgently to his attention. They are:The Conference urges the National Executive Committee and the Parliamentary Labour Party to give an early undertaking that a Labour Government elected prior to 1965"—and we assume that there must be an election before then—will repeal any legislation based on the White Paper and after taking cognisance of the views of the local authorities concerned replace such legislation by a more appropriate measure.That resolution was accepted by the National Executive and carried unanimously by the Labour Party Conference. So that noble Lords opposite are under no illusions now, I hope, as to where we stand. And they can be sure that there will be no retreat and no compromise.
I have tried to find one or two words on which to sit down which would be at once—I cannot expect them to be chivalrous, but at least tolerable to the noble Earl, and yet which would be honest; and it is not easy. I have in mind Matthew V, Verse 13, which I remember is very unpleasant—I am not sure whether it is too unpleasant for the noble Earl and his colleagues. It was, as I remembered it, all about a dunghill. But when I consulted my own version of the Bible to-day it seems to have become much milder, and I do not 217 hesitate to offer it to the House in that form. With a certain amount of irony, I offer it to noble Lords opposite. It is:Ye are the salt of the earth."—that is where the irony comes in, of course—But if the salt becomes insipid wherewith shall it be salted. It is no longer fit for aught but to be cast forth and trampled upon by men.If the noble Lord and his colleagues persist in their proposal, they will deserve, and will in fact meet, a very painful fate. I should like them to realise, before I sit down, that we do literally regard this proposal with intellectual and moral contempt. I have been speaking from one Front Bench or the other in this House for seventeen years, and I think I am right in saying that only the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, on this side of the House has been speaking quite so continuously in this House from one Front Bench or the other for seventeen years. I am aware that one should not impute motives to one's political opponents. I find it hard not to make an exception on this occasion. We view this proposal with intellectual contempt and with moral contempt; and I can tell the noble Earl that if there were much more of this sort of thing it would lower the whole standard of life in this country.
§ 3.20 p.m.
My Lords, I am sure it has been useful to direct this debate, which necessarily ranges over the whole field of Government policy, so that the emphasis each day has been on a particular part of that policy. I do not want to be so restricted as the noble Earl who has just sat down, for as to-day and to-morrow are labelled "general and home affairs", I hope that I may be forgiven if my remarks are somewhat disjointed and if I have to refer to one or two matters which bear upon the economy or finances of this country which may be the primary responsibility of Ministers who have already spoken.
I am afraid that most of us are very illogical in our reactions. If one listens to people talking to-day it is not long before some matter is mentioned to which the speaker objects, or of Which he complains, and the conclusion is usually that "The Government should do something about it". It is true that 218 the Government interfere now in almost every detail of our daily life, and from the gracious Speech it appears that they are to do some more interfering. Unfortunately, even when the case for intervention is strong, it is never possible to avoid some disadvantages. For example, the proposed legislation affecting offices must tend to increase or maintain the present very high level of rents, when the increased available accommodation should have brought about a fall. In cleanliness, particularly in cleanliness affecting the handling and cooking of food, as well as in general tidiness in our streets, I think that we in this country are well behind several European countries. But I cannot help feeling that this is a habit to which greater attention should be paid in our schools. As so often happens, lit seems that the Government, in much of their legislation, are trying to tackle the symptoms of a disease rather than going to the root, which is the outlook engendered in home and school. In my view, in spite of the many bright children in our schools, there are some fundamental deficiencies in which are involved questions such as school starting age, as well as school leaving age; the possibility of gradual entry into employment; the balance of subjects studied, and unemployment in relation to the continued employment in industry of married women with young children.
Part of the difficulty is that our Ministers have very little time to give much thought to this type of problem, which is not forced upon them by a crisis. The Minister of Education in this country has little or no responsibility for the conduct or teaching in schools, and probably insufficient contact with problems faced at our universities. Perhaps it might be worth considering the German practice of appointing a coordinating Minister, who keeps the Central Federal Government informed on what is happening in the provinces, particularly on education. It is certainly desirable that a Minister should be well informed on matters of detail when he has to join other European Ministers of Education to discuss, for instance, the equivalence of degrees and diplomas. I think this discussion is not progressing very rapidly, and perhaps I may refer to this matter in some greater detail during the debate to take 219 place in your Lordships' House on Thursday.
There are many matters in which Government Departments could help in influencing the general outlook without extending the area of their operations. A very bad example is often set by Government Departments or by authorities under so-called public control. One simple illustration will perhaps explain what I mean; and I am sure that all noble Lords could supply from their own experiences many similar instances. A good deal of regulation and propaganda has been instituted to abate noise in our cities, yet this is often quite disregarded when a Government Department has works to carry out on our roads or under our streets. Only last Sunday morning I came across a case of so much noise being created by pneumatic drills that it was impossible to speak within yards of the work being done, or to rest or work in the adjoining buildings. I took the trouble to inquire the purpose of the operation and was informed by the foreman that a telephone cable was being laid to a building newly acquired by some Government Department. No attempt was made to screen the noise, or to fit silencers to the pneumatic drills, although silencers have to be fitted to motor car and motor cycle engines, and avoidable noise is prohibited in streets. Why does the Government Department set an example such as this—quite apart from the propriety of encouraging men to work, tempted, no doubt, by double rates of pay, from 8 o'clock all through a Sunday morning?
Whether we think of a homely incident like this, or of the wider world setting, I think we must ask ourselves what are we to think of education—or, perhaps I should say, the lack of it—in the great countries of the world when, at the same time as they boast of their ability to go to the moon and explore the planets, they can behave to each other in such unbelievably childish and stupid ways, playing a provocative game—if it can be called a game—which I think used to be called in our prep schools "Tom Tiddler's ground", whether in Berlin, Cuba or in other places where the great nations face each other. This is one of the reasons I referred to the question of 220 the balance of subjects studied in our schools and universities.
Before I leave the question of education, I should like to question the methods now used in the selection of undergraduates. I am a great believer in the ability often ultimately shown by those who are called "slow developers". I also believe that the greatest incentive to work and effort is to achieve something for oneself or one's children which, because it is not in universal supply, must be classified as a luxury. I also look upon a system requiring the State to provide aid and assistance for every need out of general taxation as provisional and transitional—at least I hope it is in an increasingly prosperous community.
There is no disgrace in anyone being without the means to do all he would like to do in this life. For most of us it is the question of making a choice, of deciding what we consider most worthwhile. More knowledge extends interest, but its acquisition requires sacrifices of time and of other pleasures. It is very hard for parents to find their children excluded from the field of further study because they are considered not sufficiently intelligent by reference to the number of A levels secured in a General Certificate of Education. The universities are faced with nearly three times the number of applicants in comparison with the figure some seven years ago. We have, I believe, to give more consideration to the purpose and function of a university. Surely, it is still primarily a place where the mind seeks and is submitted to discipline, not necessarily a place of technical instruction. But to meet a limited number of cases I should like to see universities offer some places to students whose parents are willing to cover the cost of further study just for the enjoyment that could give.
My Lords, earlier in my remarks I referred to the employment in industry of married women with children, a practice which grew in war time. If a married woman goes to work she gets a separate tax assessment. If she gives it up to look after the children and her husband does a little overtime to try to make up the lost income he is penalised by taxation. This seems to me to be a case where the tax structure is 221 designed to produce the most undesirable result. That the result is undesirable I do not think anyone would question who notices the increasing number of young children placed under official care.
This gives me the opportunity to refer to what I think should be the most important concern of Her Majesty's Government at the moment—namely, the reform of the whole structure of taxation. I welcome the steps announced yesterday by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. There is a limit, as he said, to what the Government can usefully do. He might well have added that it can easily do more harm than good. Certainly it can usefully remove some barriers. I have always thought purchase tax, designed in an emergency to meet an emergency, a bad tax. A few weeks ago I was told by a manufacturer that purchase tax was responsible for holding up development work on stereophonic sound. I do not know whether that view is generally held, but it may be the reason why greater progress has not been made in this new development.
In spite of administrative objections, I think a modest turnover tax much less Objectionable than purchase tax. Depreciation allowances have been notoriously inadequate and too restricted. So the Chancellor's statement on this matter is very welcome. My only complaint about the present move is that the action taken appears not to be co-ordinated in any general revision of the structure of taxation, which, as I have said, is so long overdue. I hope it is the Chancellor's intention to undertake a general reform of which his statement yesterday is but a part. The new attitude towards researoh should have useful repercussions, perhaps unexpected, on some restrictive practices, centred around royalties.
My Lords, there is only one further comment I should like to make to-day. There is nothing worse, in my opinion, than the practice, to which we have unfortunately become accustomed during the past thirty years, of using words which normally mean something good to cover up the advocacy of a policy which otherwise would be distrusted. Of course, expansion is good and beneficial if it is achieved by harder work or greater efficiency; but we must be on our guard that it is not just a pleasant way of 222 advocating inflation. The new Chancellor of the Exchequer has been under great pressure, but I trust that, in the interests of all who work, of the thrifty and of all pensioners, Her Majesty's Government will keep in mind the overriding need to maintain the value of sterling, upon which commercial confidence depends. It is to be noted that depreciation has been nearly 40 per cent. over the past ten years. I hope it is not continuing. In such conditions—that is, accompanied by inflation—expansion means little or nothing. I hope also that Her Majesty's Government will refrain from being a party to any tacit compact to let the value of sterling and the value of the dollar or any other reserve currency slip or slide together so that what is happening is not noticed by any change in the exchange rates.
My Lords, developments in Cuba and India may create new strains upon some currencies. We must hope that the intelligence of man will assert itself to bring more widespread prosperity and happiness by seeking solutions to problems which only general stupidity makes so difficult.
§ 3.40 p.m.
§ LORD DERWENT
My Lords, the noble Earl, Lord Longford, will not be surprised if I make no attempt to answer him. The Board of Trade deal with most things at the moment but, so far as I have been able to discover, they do not deal with London government, so he will be answered by my noble friend Earl Jellicoe. As regards the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, I think I should take a very long time indeed if I were to attempt to answer all the points he raised. He dealt with cleanliness, education, employment of married women with children, noise and the reform of the tax structure. I will not therefore attempt to answer most of these things because they are more suitably answered in a debate on the particular subjects.
My noble friend Lord Jellicoe will have something to say about universities. But I should just like to say how glad I was to hear Lord Grantchester refer to the word "expansion". Of course my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has already stressed that he does not want a general surge forward over the whole field of 223 economics if it is going to lead to inflation. He is therefore trying the medicine Where it is most needed.
Although other noble Lords have not dealt with it this afternoon, I should like to start by dealing with the words of the Amendment of the noble Viscount, the Leader of the Opposition. It will be debated by other noble Lords later to-day and particularly to-morrow. I want, if I may so term it, to clear the decks a bit. The words I particularly wish to refer to in the noble Viscount's Amendment are these:… but humbly regrets that the gracious Speech contains no adequate proposals for raising the economy of the country from its prolonged stagnation".I hope to prove to the House in the course of my remarks that stagnation, if words mean the same as they used to, exists only in the imagination of noble Lords opposite and of the Labour Party. The argument employed by members of the Labour Party usually goes as follows: there is stagnation, but because our industry has always been good and forward looking it must be the dead hand of the Government that is causing the stagnation. It then goes on, trying to dot the i's and cross the t's, and to prove that our competitors do not seem to suffer from the same ills as we suffer from. That seems to be the sort of general argument, and I want to try to refute this argument under two headings, the first exports, and the second industrial production. I shall finally deal with the question of our foreign competitors.
First of all, exports. In dealing under both these headings, I do not intend to go back to a particular date, as is very common practice, to show expansion to suit my own argument. I shall have more to say about that later, but it seems to be the usual practice nowadays. As this Amendment deals virtually with the present, I shall deal only with the immediate past, the present and the immediate future. With regard to exports, I will go back as far as 1961. 1961 started strongly in the export field, but after the first quarter the exports flattened out and they stayed flat for the rest of that year. This year the flatness gave way to growth. In the spring of this year exports to the sterling area, which had been very bad in 1961, made a strong 224 recovery, and together with a continuing increase—and this happened in 1961 also—in exports to the industrial countries, and particularly to Western Europe, this brought about a very great expansion in our total exports. By the middle of this year, 1962, they were running at a level some 5 per cent. higher than at the end of 1961. There was little further increase in total exports in the third quarter of the year, but movements between particular quarters do not provide a realistic indication of trend, taking one quarter with another, and we think that the underlying movement was still upward; we have not the final figures for that.
The most striking feature about our exports in recent years has been the large and sustained increase in our sales to Western Europe. Exports to Western Europe continued to rise this year, for the fourth year in succession. After increases of 10 per cent. in 1959, 11 per cent. in 1960 and 16 per cent. in 1961, they were 15 per cent. higher in the first nine months of this year than in the first nine months of last year. Our exports to Western Europe now account for well over one-third of our total exports. This year for the first time exports to Europe have exceeded those to the sterling area. The increase—this is particularly satisfactory—of exports to Europe covers a wide range of goods, but it has been particularly marked in the machinery sector, and indeed 30 per cent. of all our exports to Western Europe are in this sector, reflecting the investment boom that has been so much a feature of the European economy. This year the export of cars, a most important export, to Europe has been running at about twice the level of last year, and we are now selling more cars to Europe than to North America or the Commonwealth. We have done well in most European markets.
The increase to Common Market countries, apart from the other Western European countries, has been specially encouraging. Our exports to members of the Community in the first nine months of this year have been nearly 20 per cent. higher than a year ago. This demonstrates, I think, that our industry is perfectly capable of taking opportunities efficiently when they occur. As already indicated, we do not think that this expansion of exports is coming to an 225 end; it does not look like it. But there is one word of warning about 1963. Through no fault of Her Majesty's Government we are a little doubtful about the rate of expansion in the United States and Western Europe next year, and if the rate of expansion slows down considerably in those two areas it will have the effect of making competition much keener. I do not think one need go further than that, but it certainly would have the effect of making competition much keener. Luckily, industry is now in a much better position to meet this competition than it was a few years ago. The export story which I have just given your Lordships hardly sounds like stagnation.
May I go on to industrial production? The level of indusitrial production fell back for; a short time following the measures introduced by the Government in July, 1961. But the figures started to rise again at the beginning of this year and have continued upwards since then quite strongly. In the three months of June to August—that is, this year—the latest period for which we have figures, the index of industrial production was 1½ per cent. higher than in the previous three months and more than 3 per cent. higher than in the first quarter of the year. It was about 1½ per cent. higher than at the time of the July, 1961, measures. Among the industries which this summer were producing more than a year ago are the motor cars, chemicals, glassware, printing, publishing, food, construction and coal industries. The electrical and engineering and clothing industries were producing at about the same level as last year. One of the main causes—one might almost say the main cause—of the rise in production has been the big increase in our exports. Additional strength has come from a more modest increase in personal consumption inside the country, from increasing Government expenditure and from a small increase in the rate of stock building.
It may interest your Lordships to know how a certain few of the particular special industries are doing individually. Chemicals: this summer production has been some 6 per cent. above the level of 1961. In the first nine months of the year exports of chemicals were up 4 per cent., by volume, above the 1961 rate. Within the industry the growth has come mainly 226 from the production of plastics materials and of the organic chemicals which supply the base materials for plastics and synthetic rubber. Motor vehicles: in the first nine months of the year the production of passenger cars, as compared with the first nine months of 1961, rose by 27 per cent. Home sales have hardly changed at all, and so virtually the whole of that increase has taken place in the export market. Production is still below the record level of 1960, which, in the motor industry, at any rate, had certain unusual qualities. But production of commercial road vehicles has been running at a level about 10 per cent. below that of last year. They have not done so well.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
I think it would be much better, instead of taking this line and spreading it in ups and downs over the last eighteen months, to answer the cases you have to answer compared with other countries—the lack of fairly rapid expansion, overall and continuously, over the last decade.
§ LORD DERWENT
If the noble Viscount will bear his soul in patience we are coming to that, as I said at the beginning of my speech.
Engineering and electrical goods: production has recovered to about the level of last summer, with a big increase in exports—again, there is the export side. Textiles and clothing: output of the cotton and woollen industries has been falling, but retail sales and production of clothing (which had been depressed from the bad weather of last year) have recently improved. As regards clothing, I would say to your Lordships that if any of you have foreign women friends, or if your wives have, and you can introduce them to the ready-to-wear ladies' garments in this country, you will find that they will get better value for money than anywhere else, and you will do the trade good by telling them, and maybe yourselves some good. Coal: productivity is reaching new records. Output is up by more than 227 4 per cent. compared with the same period last year, even though the number of miners has fallen by about 4 per cent.
As we can see, that is healthy on the export side and rather quiet, on the whole, on the home side. It was for just that reason that my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave the shot in the arm yesterday, and we confidently expect that in the heavy industries and the motor industry production on the home side will now rapidly increase. But may I continue the argument which the noble Viscount wants me to continue, about our competitors? Apparently the theory is that they do not suffer as we do, to some extent, for the reason that the Government are not doing their job here. I should like to give your Lordships a few facts about the difficulties that some of our competitors are running into. It is extremely difficult to compare the industrial output of one country with that of the next because it depends from which date you start. You can take two countries, and if you start six months ago you can make country A appear to be doing better than country B. If you judge the expansion as starting twelve months ago, country B is apparently doing better than country A. It is extraordinarily difficult to make a true comparison.
One notices in attacks about "stagnation", that dates are always chosen to suit the argument. I am going to try to avoid that, so far as possible, because I do not think it does anyone any good. What I hope to show your Lordships is that some of our competitors in Europe—I shall deal only with Europe, otherwise it will take too long—are now running into the difficulties that we were running into a few years ago; and some of the countries who are our competitors have difficulties that so far have not worried us much. It is no good saying that expansion is better in France than here unless you can do away with the starting point. The economic situation of each country is different at any given moment. I would only make this comment: that what I am going to say now may, as a matter of fact, be just as misleading as the figures that are quoted against the Government. I shall take just this year, which may be misleading 228 for the reasons I have given your Lordships.
Since the beginning of this year industrial production in the United Kingdom has increased more rapidly than production in the United States or in any other European country. That is not stagnation, and it does not mean that other countries are always doing better. While I am on this subject, may I, finally, quote the Bulletin for Industry for Europe in general and refer to two or three of the countries whose industries might be compared with our own. I do so to show the difficulties that they are running into. I will quote from the October issue of the Bulletin for Industry, from the general review of the whole of Western Europe. It says:Growth continues to be most rapid in Italy and FranceI shall come to the detail in a moment—but they too are being affected by the current trend of rising costs and prices. In Italy, where labour has for years been in relatively plentiful supply, shortages of particular types of skilled worker are beginning to make themselves felt. In Germany"—which, for some reason, is the one country that is always quoted against us—where production fell during 1961, growth has been resumed but the rise in production this year has been erratic. In Sweden the rate of growth of production has slowed down appreciably. This has been due largely to continued weakness in basic export markets"—we hope that we have got over that trouble: they seem to be running into it—and to some decline in private investment. The inflationary conditions existing in Norway and Denmark are expected to be curbed by the restrictive measures that the governments have taken.They are in their inflationary period. They are having to take the same sort of steps that we have had to take.
Without keeping your Lordships too long, may I just quote a word about two or three countries? In regard to Western Germany the Bulletin states:The problem of rising costs and prices is still absorbing the attention of the authorities.Then it goes on to talk about increases in wages, and it says:Such increases are considerably in excess of the growth of productivity"—a problem that we have had for some time; it is a little easier with us now, 229 but they apparently are now running into this problem. The Bulletin goes on:In the first seven months of this year exports were about 3 per cent. higher than in the same period of 1961, while the rate of imports was up about 12 per cent., so that the balance of payments has moved away from the substantial surpluses of recent years.That is in regard to Western Germany. In Italy things are still improving, but we find thatrecent wage increases in excess of productivity increases have raised unit costs and squeezed profit margins and may have slightly weakened the competitive position of Italian export industries.So they are running into a little trouble there. France is still doing well, but they have not yet conquered their inflation, though things are in a better state. The Bulletin says:Increases in incomes are likely to continue to exceed the growth of productivity. Further increases in prices are therefore likely to occur.We do not have all the troubles; they have the same troubles as we have, and for the same reasons, and in most cases it is not the fault of their Government. So much for that. My submission is that this word "stagnation" is completely misleading and, in fact, does not relate to the present situation.
My Lords, may I conclude on a rather different note? May I remind your Lordships that this month, November, is the beginning of the National Productivity Year? I will not go into details because the matter was debated in your Lordships' House at the end of last Session on a Motion introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Crook. It is a movement which is supported by all political Parties, by both sides of industry, by local authorities, by education authorities, and so on. We want to make this Year a success, because it will do much to increase the efficiency of British business. Therefore, if any of your Lordships find yourselves able to assist your local committees in this National Productivity Year, I hope that you will give them all the help you can. I notice that I am to be followed by the noble Lord, Lord Williamson, in a maiden speech. It is not for me to suggest what he may say in that speech, but I hope that out of his great knowledge he may have something kind to say about the National Productivity Year.
§ 4.2 p.m.
§ LORD WILLIAMSON
My Lords, in rising to address your Lordships' House, I find myself in almost the same position as I was in on another occasion when for the time being this was "another place". I confess that I do not to-day find myself fortified by that experience, but I hope I may rely on your Lordships' generous forbearance.
I would refer to that part of the gracious Speech which promisesto promote efficient and sound expansion of the economy, with a high and stable level of employment".This should be welcomed, because on its success will depend our future prosperity, our standard of living and, of course, any improvement in that standard. Since the war we in this country have enjoyed a comparatively high standard of living, and all the time there are pressures from all quarters for still higher standards and for improvements to be brought about. That the nation is capable of great achievement, I should have thought was not in doubt. What may be in question is whether or not the conditions exist on which our prosperity must be founded. In my view, one of the basic conditions for industrial expansion and industrial efficiency is the adequate training of the nation's industrial manpower, for it is on the training of our young workers, particularly of apprentices, that our future prosperity depends.
I hope I may be forgiven if I go into a little history, if only to put into perspective the concern which has been felt for many years on this question of training. Following the Government White Paper on Technical Education, published in 1956, the Carr Committee, of which I was privileged to be a member, was appointed to inquire into industrial training. In 1958 the Committee issued its Report, entitled Training For Skill. That Report, on the evidence which the Committee had before it, said as much as it could say. One important thing it said was that it was no use training more and more technologists and technicians unless we were going to train the skilled craftsmen to back them up. It found that our training facilities were inadequate, as to both quantity and quality. It emphasised that the skilled craftsman is the backbone of British industry. 231 One of the things I could not understand at the time, and have never been able to understand since, was what the Report had to say about the information for which we were asking. The Report in fact said this:In the course of our inquiry we asked each industry to say how many craftsmen and apprentices it had. Few industries were able to answer this question with any precision, and many were unable to supply any sort of answer at all.The whole of the Carr Report was an indictment of the neglect and deficiency of our industrial training system. This was unanimously approved by the National Joint Advisory Council to the Ministry of Labour.
Following the Report, which was a serious Report, an Industrial Training Council was formed with the object of encouraging and stepping up training arrangements, because the problem was regarded as an urgent one. But that Council, which is doing splendid work in all the circumstances, has no powers—it can only persuade. If I may be forgiven for making one criticism of the Government, it is that they give such a meagre allowance to the Industrial Training Council to enable it to carry out its work. I want to pay a tribute to the Council for the work it is doing, and would pay special tribute to my noble friend Lord McCorquodale of Newton (whom I do not see in his place to-day) for the devotion he has given to the Industrial Training Council since its inception.
Four years have elapsed since public attention was focused on this serious matter, and we might perhaps try to assess what progress has been, or is being made. In 1961 the National Joint Advisory Council to the Ministry of Labour appointed a Manpower Committee which really arose out of reports that had been submitted by the Industrial Training Council. This Committee sat and considered evidence, and reported to the Council in January of this year. That Manpower Committee had before it a great deal more information than the Carr Committee had access to in 1956.
I think it might be relevant here if I give the House one or two of the Committee's findings. The Committee said that, except for brief periods of recession, there had been a shortage of 232 workers in most skilled occupations since the end of the war; and, due to the general improvement in the employment situation (and I think there are now 24 million gainfully employed), the shortage of skilled workers had increased in the preceding two years, 1960 and 1961. It specifically mentioned two of our most important industries, and reported a shortage of 20,000 engineering craftsmen and 10,000 building trade craftsmen. For example, in one very important craft alone at that time there were at employment exchanges 6,200 outstanding vacancies for machine tool setters and only 480 trained men available to fill them. In fact, the Report said that in 1961 the position was worse than it was in 1956. The same could be said for other trades, apart from engineering. In the building industry, with carpenters, bricklayers and plasterers, it was the same sorry picture. The Report said that, on balance, even these figures which were given, which have been publicised, were an understatement and the shortages were probably greater.
In all fairness, my Lords, I want to say this: that the engineering industry and the building trade industry both have a very creditable record of training schemes. But this is the trouble: there are many industries and many firms using craftsmen who belong to the engineering industry, and using craftsmen of the building trade which themselves do no training but which sometimes persuade workers, who have been trained by the engineering industry and by the building trade to go and work elsewhere, often by offering high rewards. The Carr Report dealt with this question and said that it was most irresponsible, and if industries were using skilled labour, which is and was extremely short, then they should make some contribution towards training.
My Lords, I should just like to touch on the question of emigration. Thousands of young workers are emigrating, particularly to other parts of the Commonwealth, which in a way is an admirable thing. But of the numbers that are emigrating, 17 per cent. are unskilled and 83 per cent. are skilled. It may be said that we can set off the immigrants against these figures, but the Manpower Committee said that of the immigrants 233 there were very few who possessed any skill at all. Therefore it is essential that we should also take into account this other question of emigration and losses. I said that there were some industries and firms which do little or no training at all and which take skilled men from other industries. We find that this is a discouragement to the industries and firms which are training, when they find that their labour is taken away by other firms which are not doing training.
I end, my Lords, by referring to the final conclusion of the Manpower Committee to which I have referred. This said:While the primary responsibility must remain with industry, the Government may need in future to play a larger rôle in industrial training.I sincerely trust that the Government will give every attention to this recommendation.
§ 4.14 p.m.
§ LORD POLWARTH
My Lords, I count it an honour that it falls to me, on behalf of your Lordships, to convey our warm congratulations to the noble Lord who has just sat down, on this his first speech in this House. If it is not an impertinence from me, may I say that I thought that both in content and in delivery it came up to the highest standards of this place; and that, after all, is just what we should expect of one with his long and great experience in the field of industrial relations and elsewhere. Though I personally have no experience in this field, it has been my fortune to work alongside some of his Scottish colleagues in a common cause. I appreciate how immensely valuable it is to us here to have the benefit of the experience of men of the noble Lord's background, and we all greatly look forward to hearing from him on many future occasions. Could I also take this opportunity of conveying our congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, because even if all of us have not agreed with all that he has said, I am sure that we should wish to congratulate him on this his first speech, as opposed to an Answer, from the Front Bench.
I hope I am not jumping the gun in going straight this afternoon into the field of economics and employment, which I know is more properly the sub- 234 ject of the debate on to-morrow's Amendment. Unfortunately I shall not be here, but at least we have been given a clear course by yesterday's statement in another place. I think that on reading the gracious Speech some of us who came from the more outlying parts of the Kingdom were, justifiably, a little disappointed that the only reference in that Speech to the internal economy of the country was the statement thatMy Ministers will continue to promote efficient and sound expansion of the national economy, with a high and stable level of employment".knowing as we do in Scotland, in the North-East, and even more so in Northern Ireland, that the level of employment there is at the moment neither stable nor high. The latest figures published show that while in the United Kingdom the percentage of unemployment was 2.2 overall, it was by contrast in Wales 3.4, in Scotland 3.9, in the North-East of England—higher, for once, than in Scotland—4.3, and in Northern Ireland 6.4; and every indication is that in Scotland we shall have over 100,000 men and women wholly unemployed by the New Year.
We are suffering not only from the chronic problems of the remoter areas, but also from the very great degree of uncertainty and lack of confidence which has been affecting industry in general and, in particular, the capital goods industries on which we in those parts of the country are still unduly dependent. Yesterday's announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer has, however, given us new hope, and not a bit too soon. I think that he should be warmly congratulated on at last giving a positive lead, after the changeable and damping policies of his and other Departments over the last few years—policies from which we have suffered too long. We must all hope that these new measures will give that boost to confidence and morale throughout industry, because that is what I think we need most. I hope that that will be their effect.
Having said that, we must still have our reservations, so far as these parts of the country are concerned, about the adequacy of the new measures to deal with the problem of the areas of high unemployment. The measures are basically the mixture as tried before—admittedly a stronger brew, but without any 235 really new ingredients which can help to differentiate between different areas of the country. Employment, I think, is rather like the tide. We in Scotland are like the sands on the beach up at the far end of the bay, the furthest distance from the sea. When the tide of employment ebbs we are the first to be exposed; when it flows in again we are the last to be covered. It is something that we are used to, but this time the ebb went rather further than usual. Even the sands of the Midlands were in danger of being dried out, and some of us in our part of the country could be forgiven a smile, I think, at the news of protest meetings in the Midlands at the fact that their rate of unemployment had actually reached that of national average. To-day's debate, however, is not the place to go into this in detail. We shall be seeking a debate in due course on the Scottish economy in general—I hope before Christmas.
We do not undervalue the benefits brought by the Local Employment Act, but equally we are not convinced that, as at present administered, it is sufficient to help us solve our problems, as solved they can be. If a firm wish to set up or to expand in a development district, we must be able to give them a clearer and more definite idea in advance of the extent of Government help that they can expect. At the moment, it is like trying to sell an article without a price ticket on it, or at least, with one of those price tickets which carry not figures but those hieroglyphics which you see in certain places and particularly in antique shops. The price emerges only after a period of bargaining and cross-examination between the company and the Board of Trade.
While the problem of unemployment itself is still vital, we feel that much more positive help must be given to the encouragement of growth. It is on growth that the long-term solution of the employment problem depends: growth in those industries and in those places which hold out the best prospects for it. That was brought out very forcibly in the Report of the Toothill Committee on the Scottish economy, but it appeared to us from our last encounter in Scotland with the President of the Board of Trade, that that thinking had not been wholly 236 accepted in Government circles. Fortunately, there are signs that N.E.D.C. are thinking on the same lines as the Toothill Committee, and in due course they may fully convince the Government.
To take one example of a growth point, there is at the moment in prospect a scheme to build a pulp and paper mill in the Highlands of Scotland; to use the vast and ever-increasing timber resources of the North. It is the one great growth point that we can see for the whole Highland area now or for a long time to come. It is an imaginative prospect which involves considerable risks for the company which is undertaking it, and it will be unforgivable—and I may say that the Government will not be forgiven—if it falls through because of the lack of sufficient Government support simply on the ground of the number of jobs it will create directly as opposed to the fact that it is a major growth point for the entire area round about. That is just one advantage.
There is another side to the distribution of industry problem, however, and that makes me question the wisdom of such a very big emphasis in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's speech on stimulus to the motor industry in particular, desirable though that obviously is. Admittedly, we in other parts of the country will benefit from the increased capital allowances, but the fact is that in heavy industry, where we shall see this benefit, it will take considerable time to have effect, whereas the main benefit of the car tax reductions will be immediate. What is more, it will be felt principally in the Midlands and the South of this country, because our present vehicle factories in Scotland are entirely on commercial production, where there is no purchase tax anyway, and our first car factory will not be starting up until next year. I am afraid that, as a result of this, we shall once more see overfull employment in the Midland area and competition for scarce labour pushing up wages and attracting men from other parts of the country, in turn causing greater congestion and leading to requirements for more social capital, the building of houses and so on, and generally adding to the costs and to inflation, not to mention the effect on labour relations—which, as we all know, are 237 none too encouraging in those parts of the country under conditions of boom.
I think that this whole question of distribution of industry must be looked at, not just from the point of view of the difficult areas but from the point of view of the over-congested areas, too, and of the country as a whole. Despite Government policy, which admittedly has done a lot, industry continues to proliferate in the South and South-East, and if it is accepted that any planning is justified in the distribution of industry, I am sure it must take account of this aspect, too. I will say no more on this to-day, because fortunately we are to have an opportunity of discussing this whole field later this month on the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Molson.
In conclusion, my Lords, I would say this. We in Scotland—and I think I speak for others in similar parts of the country—do not seek simply to lay the solution of this problem on the Government's plate. We want to see our resources used to the full in the national interest. We have done, and we are doing, a great deal by ourselves to bring this about, whether individual industrialists or companies, trade unions, chambers of commerce or bodies such as the Scottish Council. It is sometimes said that we rely too much on incoming industry to solve this problem; that our own companies are not sufficiently enterprising. How can that be reconciled with the fact that, of all the new jobs created in Scotland in the past two or three years, 80 per cent. have been in existing Scottish companies? The fact is that we now have a wide range of healthy, forward-looking industry with excellent prospects of growth and development, and room for much more of it.
Set against this, we have the contraction, much of it inevitable, of some of our older industries, on which we have been so dependent in the past and of which we still have more than our fair share. Much of this contraction is the result of Government policy, as in the field of the coal mines and the railways, and for that reason alone I believe the Government have a responsibility to give every possible encouragement to growth to offset the decline of employment in those areas. Given that support in good measure and 238 ungrudgingly, and a continuation of the welcome attitude shown by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in yesterday's statement, there is no reason at all why we should not make Scotland just as prosperous as any other part of the United Kingdom.
§ 4.27 p.m.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
My Lords, having looked at the list of speakers and listened to most of the speeches it seems to me that I shall be the only Member of this House this afternoon who is prepared to make a contribution on social affairs—and, of course, I am only too delighted to do that. I must confess that, on looking at the Speech from the Throne, I am surprised that it contains so little promise of action in fresh fields. In fact, I detect almost a musty odour: the musty odour of documents retrieved from the basements of Government Departments. Indeed, the Gower Report was, I believe, made in the late forties, and we are told in the gracious Speech that now something is to be done about offices and shops. But I would remind your Lordships that no action is to be asked for in this new measure until five years have elapsed.
My Lords, again one would have thought that the Minister of Health would have seized this opportunity to declare what he was going to do to close the appalling gap in our legislation which permits the pharmaceutical industry to distribute drugs which have never been subjected to an adequate clinical test. Indeed, this could have been the finest hour of the Minister for Science, but he has absolutely failed to make any contribution to this very serious matter. Again, I should have expected some reassurance from the Minister of Health that the maternity service, which is subject to increasing criticism, and the disquieting information about the high perinatal mortality rate would have the Government's most urgent attention. Then, I should certainly have liked to learn—and these matters that I am talking about concern the whole population—that cancer detection centres were to be established in all hospitals in order that thousands of women doomed to die from cancer of the cervix would be saved.
What have we been given in the last few months in the field of health? 239 During the Recess, the Minister of Health dropped some crocodile tears because some seats in the out-patient departments were too hard. He has also advised, without consulting the patients, that visiting hours should be unlimited. My Lords, it is significant that these weighty contributions to our Health Service cost nothing—or, at least, the cost is negligible.
The whole tragedy of the thalidomide babies served to focus attention on the risks to which the whole population is subject; and, while the Minister is considering a new Committee, the United States, which did not permit thalidomide to be distributed there, took action. It introduced new drug controls, and the new Act was signed by the President on October 10. This requires all drug manufacturers to register with the Government and gives the food and drug administration new powers. In the United States now, after this appalling scare—a scare only for them—a new drug must be shown to be effective and safe, and cannot be marketed without the approval of the Secretary for Health, Education and Welfare. Again, among other safeguards—and I am quite sure that every noble Lord here who has a packet of tablets or a bottle of medicine in his medicine cupboard will agree that this is very wise—is the provision that advertisements for prescription drugs must include a summary of any bad side-effects and the label must carry the generic name of the drug in letters at least half as big as those of the trade name. I hope the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, when he comes to answer will not tell me there has been insufficient time to take effective action. I would remind him that thalidomide was withdrawn from the market nearly a year ago, and the dangers of the indiscriminate distribution of drugs which have not been tested had been brought to the notice of successive Ministers of Health long before that. I myself, time after time in another place, pleaded with Ministers and actually brought the drugs to the Dispatch Box to show Ministers how dangerous was the practice which was pursued by pharmaceutical firms in this country.
Again, may I remind the Minister that the Final Report of the Committee on 240 the Cost of Prescribing was issued in 1959, and the recommendations in that Report were that new drugs should be subjected to independent, controlled clinical trials as soon as possible? They also said that the costs of clinical trials should be met by the manufacturers; it is undesirable that doctors should be paid by the manufacturers for participating in such trials. My Lords, who knows what misery might have been averted if there had not been a reckless disregard of these recommendations?—and I speak as strongly as this. Warning after warning has been given to successive Ministers of Health and no action has been taken. I say again that the matter is one of the greatest urgency. Professor Graham Wilson has stated that of 56 new drugs introduced last year more than 50 per cent. had not been clinically tested.
Now I welcome, of course—we all welcome—the fact that the Medical Research Council is undertaking new reviewed methods of testing new products for toxicity. Nevertheless the responsibility for marketing drugs in this country must be accepted by the Government. It must be made obligatory for manufacturers to submit all new compounds to a full and controlled independent scrutiny, and not to leave it to the drug houses to do—and not to leave it to the medical profession or a voluntary body because this has been the practice in the past. It seems to me that the pharmaceutical industry, by its sheer irresponsibility, has itself made out a case for nationalisation.
Now I come to the maternity service. No noble Lord will deny the fact that the maternity service of any country is of primary importance to every Parliament. Recently at a meeting of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists the National Birthday Trust Fund revealed that 50 babies died each week from asphyxia alone and many could be saved if there were sufficient hospital accommodation. Now this serious problem of perinatal mortality was challenged by the Minister, who said that the figures related to 1958. Unfortunately the Ministry of Health had failed to take into account that the number of births the obstetricians and gynaecologists were talking about has increased by 9.25 per cent. since 1952. The fact is that in this country more than half of all deliveries 241 at present take place where there are no facilities for dealing with emergencies for mother or child.
The noble Lord is, I understand, fresh in this field, and I understand his difficulties, but it is no good his coming here and saying that a number of confinements take place in certain National Health Service homes, and adding those confinements to those which take place in other institutions. His argument can be valid only if he can assure the House that where confinements take place in a Health Service home there is also a resident medical officer. That is the very essence of good midwifery in a Health Service home. Futher, over half the cases booked for home deliveries already had indications of hospital confinement when they booked. These are not my figures; this is the information which a most reputable body has obtained after a very long survey.
Your Lordships will agree that when you read your Times newspaper and the letters, you seldom find a letter from professors of obstetrics. Most of their letters are confined to the medical journals. But this position is so serious that only last week Professor Nixon of University College Obstetric Hospital and Professor MoClure Browne felt impelled to write to The Times along these lines. It was a very long letter and The Times quite rightly felt the subject so important that they published the whole. They gave many figures, with which I will not weary your Lordships, proving the case I am putting now. In the last paragraph they said:These figures provide ample evidence that, far from the maternity services increasing in proportion to the demand, the demand has outstripped the supply. This situation has if anything worsened since the perinatal mortality survey in 1958 and is likely to deteriorate further with a rising birth rate unless emergency measures are adopted without delay.And these are two of the most eminent men in the field of obstetrics in this country.
I hope the Minister will not try to persuade the House that this deterioration of the maternity service is of recent growth. If he will again look into the pigeon-holes—and one gets a little weary of asking representatives of the Government to go to the pigeon-holes in their Departments—he will find the Report of the Maternity Services Com- 242 mittee of 1959. The noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, was the Chairman of that Committee. The report of this Committee was not only quoted in this country but quoted in many other countries, because they realised that it was of tremendous importance to the maternity services of the country.
What did this Committee say in 1959?—We wish to emphasise that we are of the opinion that the present peri-natal mortality rate could be lowered by a better maternity service, in particular of more careful ante-natal care";and they went on:Hospitals should provide beds for 70 per cent. of all confinements.I would remind your Lordships that the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynæcologists emphasised that, in their opinion, hospital confinements offer the maximum safety for mother and child.
The Minister may well say that he knows all this; but has he read last week's report in the British Medical Journal? I invite him to read it and to look particularly at paragraph 88. Nobody would necessarily think that the chairman of this committee is very progressive in all of his recommendations in other fields, but this is what his report says:There is a serious shortage of maternity beds in London and other large centres. Additional beds should be provided urgently. We recommend a material improvement in the terms of service of midwives and greater use of married midwives on a part-time basis.I would remind your Lordships that in less than ten years there have been seven Ministers of Health. Each one of them has convened Committees of eminent people, brilliant in their own spheres and with little spare time, but who nevertheless have given their services. After a couple of years, perhaps, they have produced valuable documents, which are quoted all over the world in the field of medicine; but it seems to me that as one Minister of Health lasts only eighteen months at the longest, his successor promptly discards the Reports presented to his predecessor. That is why I have to come to your Lordships' House this afternoon to remind your Lordships of these important Reports which have never been implemented, and that is why last week two of the most important obstetricians in this country, feeling that it was no good any 243 longer writing letters to medical papers or indeed to the Ministry of Health and successive Ministers, sent to The Times newspaper this long letter.
I come to another aspect of medicine which I wish to bring forward because I realise that unless we go on prodding, prompting and pleading, nothing is done. I want to discuss the whole question of cancer of the cervix in women. While public attention has rightly been focused on the high mortality rate due to cancer of the lung, little has been said of cancer of the cervix, which kills about 2,500 women a year. I am sure that all noble Lords will agree with me that while this is a tragedy for the mother who dies, it is a catastrophe for a family of dependent children. But a method has been devised which enables a gynaecologist to recognise the early presence of cancerous changes in a women. What is being done to ensure that this procedure of exfoliative cytology becomes an established practice throughout the country? One or two progressive hospitals and one or two dedicated men and women doctors say that this discovery will save the lives of thousands of women. Do we find that the Minister is doing anything about it? It was mentioned in the report last week published by the Chief Medical Officer, but we have learned in this House that mentioning these mattters in reports, whether reports of the Chief Medical Officer or of the most brilliant people in the country, means nothing. Therefore I would ask the Minister, coming fresh to his task, to which I hope he will become dedicated, to realise the importance of setting up clinics for this disease in every hospital, so that the lives of these women can be saved.
I want to mention the disquieting information that there is an increased incidence of venereal disease among teenagers and an increase in illegitimacy since 1954. The interesting part about these figures is that this increase is chronological with the report of the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police on the increase in crime among teenagers since 1954. Undoubtedly there is an association, because both conditions derive from lack of self-discipline. Now the Government belatedly propose to implement the Report on Children and Young Persons, 244 in an attempt to stem the torrent of teenage misbehaviour.
I read that the most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of York attaches great importance to the effect of obscene literature; but why does not the Church denounce with equal vigour the violence and the questionable sex stories which are shown on television in the living rooms of teenagers every day of their lives? The Bible and Shakespeare are not mealy-mouthed about sex. Stories about sex are not wrong; it is the presentation which evokes criticism. Television today teaches our teenagers wrong values. They are not told to control their primary instincts, the sexual and aggressive instincts. On the contrary, television deliberately feeds these instincts. Furthermore, the programmes are totally lacking in any substitute forms of gratification.
While thinking over this yesterday, I thought that the noble Earl who is going to reply might say that these were my views and ask what I knew of the effect of entertainment in young people. I saw in a newspaper a report from Mary Pick-ford, who was my heroine of the screen and I daresay the heroine of other noble Lords many years ago. Mary Pickford was not only a great and charming actress, with her lovely curls; she also later became an efficient producer. I opened the Daily Herald yesterday and saw under "'garbage' films" thatMary Pickford, star of the silent screen, yesterday accused Hollywood producers of 'reaching into the garbage pail' for stories.'Dirty pictures are being made now just for the sake of making money,' she said.These pictures are brought to this country and put into the homes of the people every night of their lives.
I would add this, though I have spoken on the subject before in your Lordships' House: that since television has brought boxing into the living rooms of teenagers, education in violence proceeds apace. Representatives of the Church speak about obscene literature, but what about the kind of thing we find in every paper? I picked up a paper last week. It saidThis fight was superb, unforgettable, and the 12,000 or so screaming spectators who watched it in frenzied admiration can count themselves privileged. … At the end there was blood on their faces, blood on the canvass, blood on the white ropes.245 This did not have to be sought after, as obscene literature has to be. This was in the respectable Evening Standard one night.
What is the position in this country, when youths charged with violent conduct are packed in our prisons three in a cell? Our prisons are overflowing, and we put these youths just out of childhood away from us. It is a nasty sight. Let us put them in cells, lock them up and not see it. And we have not room for them, so we put them three in a cell.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
Perhaps I might just finish. I say this: that they are, in part, victims of a society afraid to control unscrupulous men engaged in highly profitable business which caters for the worst impulses of our young people. Finally, I say that unless the Government recognise that the prevention of crime begins in the home, then their plans for re-educating our teenagers will prove abortive.
I must apologise to the noble Lady. I did not realise that she was reaching her peroration, otherwise I should not have dreamed of interrupting.
§ 4.52 p.m.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, not enough, I think, has been said in this debate on the subject of education. I was glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Williamson, whose maiden speech was so delightfully delivered, and contained so much of interest, refer to the problem of training in industry, which is an allied subject to the one on which I wish to speak this afternoon. I feel that that part of the gracious Speech which refers to education should not be allowed to go by without some comment on it, and I should like to spend a few minutes on that subject, and especially on the question of higher and university education.
With regard to education generally, I will content myself with giving wholehearted support to the plea by Sir Geoffrey Crowther, in a recent letter to The Times, that the Government should fix a date at which the school-leaving age, as provided for in the Butler Act of 1944, should be raised to sixteen. The 246 Crowther Committee proposed that this should be done during the period 1966 to 1968. There are, I submit to your Lordships, and to the Government, a number of reasons for doing this which seem to many of us to be overwhelming. I will mention two or three of the most important of them.
First, if this is done between 1966 and 1968 it will give ample time for the administrative arrangements to be put into order. They are necessarily complicated, and this would undoubtedly have the effect of obviating many of the difficulties which we experienced on the last occasion, when shortly after the war the school-leaving age was raised from 14 to 15, as again provided for in the Butler Act. This was an occasion on which the late Miss Wilkinson, for whom I had the greatest admiration and affection, took her courage in both hands, and took a step which, in the end, I think, has proved of the greatest value to education in this country, although it was criticised at the time and undoubtedly gave rise to a lot of teething troubles.
Secondly, it will give a date, as it were, between the "bulges". What is known as "the bulge" is now passing away from the schools of the country, and the universities are on the point of being confronted with it. But we are going to have another "bulge"—the Registrar General's birthrate figures make that perfectly clear—and, indeed, it may be a plateau, rather than a bulge. The value of putting up the school-leaving age during the period between these bulges is so obvious, I should have thought, as not to require further emphasis, here or anywhere else, and not even in the Ministry of Education itself. Thirdly, the new arrangements at the training colleges will by this time have been in operation for a sufficiently long period to be turning out highly qualified teachers of the kind who will be required in the schools to make a success of the advanced leaving age.
There have been some contrary arguments in letters in The Times following on Sir Geoffrey Crowther's letter, but they seem to me to be quite footling, and I hope the Government will succeed in getting over the tired feeling which they seem to have at the moment, and will decide to make a move on this 247 important issue. I was glad that the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, underlined the importance of the educational proposals, and particularly drew attention to the staffing difficulties in the new universities and universities generally. She very truly described this matter as one "of the greatest importance". Undoubtedly it is a matter of the greatest importance. I should say that this staffing problem is perhaps the most crucial aspect of the whole very difficult problem of university expansion.
I would suggest that the problem of university expansion is the most important and, indeed, the most difficult problem that this nation is called upon to solve during the coming generation, if it is to hold its position in the world at large and maintain itself against its competitors, not only in industry and commerce, but in culture and in world achievement as a whole. This is not any longer a competition in power, in which for so many years we held our own, but is more and more a competition in intellectual achievement and in cultural influence. And those are the great things which in future will weigh in this world of ours.
Everybody pays lip service to the importance of higher education, and in our debates in this House nobody has questioned that it is at this time, in the twentieth century, a matter of vital importance. But few people, and certainly not this Government, seem to be prepared to face up to What is involved in the way of sacrifice and belt-tightening if we are to succeed in solving this problem—though I have sometimes felt that the noble and learned Viscount who leads the House has an inkling of what is involved, and that if only he were given a little more rope he would succeed in persuading his colleagues to do a great deal more than they have ever shown signs of doing. I sometimes feel that those of us in the universities who are trying to bring the realities of this problem before their fellow countrymen are in very much the same position as Sir Winston Churchill and those important sections of the Labour Party before the war, when they were trying to bring home to the country the menace of the Nazi régime in Germany. It was a difficult thing to do, and it was not until the first shot had been fired that 248 the country really pulled itself together and appreciated what it had to do if it was to survive. This appalling danger was eventually met by concerted national action. Your Lordships may think, and no doubt other people would, that it is altogether an exaggeration to compare the two situations. But I do not think it is.
The difficulty of providing proper university education for all the boys and girls of this country who are capable of benefiting from it is as big a task as this country has ever faced up to, even in times of war. When we consider that the number of students in the universities in 1939, at the beginning of the war, was rather under 50,000, and that we must get that figure up to over 200,000 not too late in the 1970s if we are to do our duty by the young people of this country, the figures, I think, speak for themselves. It is obviously going to call for a national effort of very much the same kind as was called for during the war, which was provided by the men and women of this country, and eventually succeeded in bringing us through the forest.
In the last seventeen years we have rather more than doubled the student population, and this has called for a very heavy expenditure. There is no question about that, and I do not deny the heavy expenditure of pounds, shillings and pence. It also made very heavy demands on the staffs of the universities. To double this again calls for an effort so much greater as to be almost different in kind, and calls for thinking out the problems afresh in a searching and probably unconventional way. This thinking we are expecting to get from the Committee presided over by a distinguished Member of your Lordships' House, the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, whose Report is, we hope, not too far away: in fact we hope to have it next year. I should not myself be at all surprised if the arrangements, whatever they may be, which will be proposed by the Robbins Committee supported the view that I am putting forward: that we must have at least 200,000 students in our universities within the next fifteen or twenty years. Obviously, these arrangements will succeed only if they are built on to and into an adequately expanding system. 249 It is here that I want to urge Her Majesty's Government to do a great deal more than they have been doing recently. So far from providing the proper foundations on which the Robbins Committee's recommendations can effectively work, the policy of the Government over the last year or two has been calculated to slow everything down so as to give the Robbins proposals, whatever they are, the worst possible start that they could have.
It is this sort of development which will call for the belt-tightening, the national effort, to which I have already referred. I know quite well that I shall be told that the Government's job is to take a balanced attitude, adjudicating between the different demands for the scarce national resources. I do not want to go into these matters at the sort of length at which they have been debated here from time to time, but I would remind your Lordships that it is the fundamental scientific work which is done in the universities, translated into technology and brought into industry, which provides those resources which the Government are allocating. If you starve your universities, your resources will be very much smaller than they might otherwise be.
Your Lordships may have seen in the Press to-day that the University Teachers' Association, of which I have the privilege to be an officer, have recently made a claim to the University Grants Committee for new salary scales. I do not want to argue these matters in detail here this afternoon. I hope that we shall have an opportunity, perhaps during the course of this Session, of going into these matters in more detail in your Lordships' House. But I want the Government to realise what deep resentment their attitude in regard to the salaries of university teachers has caused in the universities during this year or two, and to suggest to them that that is a very bad way of preparing the ground for success in the expansion of the universities and their work which the Robbins Commission are undoubtedly going to advocate.
This resentment stems from the fact that the pay pause has been enforced against the universities in a most unjust way. The University Teachers' Association withdrew, at the express request of the University Grants Committee (which, 250 after all, is the agent of the Government and the adviser of the Government), the claim which they had put in, long before the pay pause, in order to suit the requirements of the Grants Committee. As a result, the pay pause came down and blocked, so to speak, these claims, which everybody I think regarded as very fair and reasonable. How one can expect people to work with enthusiasm when they are treated in that sort of way and put behind almost every other body of people in the country in regard to their just demands, I really do not know.
I should like to remind your Lordships of the most pertinent letter in The Times from Sir Douglas Logan, the Principal of the University of London, and one of our foremost university administrators of the present time, drawing attention to the new salary scales which are just coming into force, it is expected, in Australia. The new salary of a professor in Australia will be £A5,125. The salary of a professor in England at the present time is £2,600. It may well be, and no doubt is true, that the Australian pound is a little under-valued as compared with the English pound, but even taking that into account I draw your Lordships' attention to the difference between a salary of over £A5,000 and the salary of £2,600, and ask what the position of the Australian universities is if they can offer salaries of that kind in order to tempt our brightest young men to go to the Commonwealth of Australia. A lecturer in an Australian university—that is, in effect, the junior grade—will get, under this new scale, £A2,910, or £300 more than a professor gets in England. If I were to quote your Lordships figures from some of the American universities, they would be even more against the niggardly figures which the Treasury think are sufficient for the work that is being done by these outstanding scientists and other teachers in the British universities.
This is not only a question of staff. There are all sorts of other matters involved. Almost as serious is the starvation of the universities in respect of their building programmes, which were also cut down in pursuance of this misguided Government policy. The universities did not even have sufficient money placed at their disposal early this year to carry on with the building programmes on which they had already embarked. It is true 251 that the Treasury did awake to the mistake they made about that, and that during the course of the year an extra £5 million was provided. But one would not have thought that anybody who had any foresight would have started on such an absurd policy as was involved in this cutting down of the building programmes in the universities.
The situation with respect to the current grants on which the universities depend, if they are to take in even the existing number of students, was handled in exactly the same sort of way. As a result, the number of students in the universities this session 1962–63 will probably be substantially smaller than it was last year. What sort of an introduction to the expansion of the universities under the Robbins Committee's proposals is this?
My Lords, I could go on with other illustrations of the way in which the Government have, in effect, been queering the pitch for Lord Robbins, and I hope that they will now see the error of their ways. They seem to be getting a little sensitive to the fact that a General Election is not far away. The indications in this morning's papers suggest that at any rate there is a softening up in some areas. Allow me to underline again the importance of the work done in our universities and to suggest that that would be a very suitable sphere on which they could slacken up a little bit. This is not a matter of Party politics. So far from this being a matter of Party politics, this problem, in my view, can be solved only by co-operation on the part of the political Parties in order to enlist the enthusiasm, self-sacrifice and energy of the nation behind what is undoubtedly necessary if we are to make a success of this great expansion which must take place.
I well remember, my Lords, the Butler Act, which was, in fact, an Act of co-operation between the political Parties, on which Mr. Butler paid a very high tribute to the help which he had had from my very old and esteemed friend Mr. Chuter Ede, who played such a large part in it; and together they put this Act on the Statute Book. I very well remember, when working in the Civil Defence forces at that time, what a tremendous fillip it gave to the people, who were looking forward to the time after the war. I was even surprised 252 myself in 1944 and 1945 at the interest which the ordinary working men who were in the National Fire Service and the Civil Defence Services took in this new Act because they saw that it was a charter for their sons and daughters. This interest has now spread into university education.
I hope that I may be allowed to take another minute by telling your Lordships a short anecdote which came to me a week or so ago about a man in the East End of London, a caretaker in a business firm whose job was looking after a warehouse. One of his boys had won a scholarship to Cambridge. Someone said to the man: "What about the other boy, Johnnie, the younger one? Is he going?" To which the reply was: "I'm afraid he's not much good; he gained only five 'O' levels in his G.C.E." My Lords, you could not imagine anything of that kind happening in the years before the war. I suggest that it shows that the ordinary working people of this country are now very much alive to the importance and value of university education. It is their sons and daughters we have to get into our universities, and it is the Government which must provide the wherewithal to enable them to get there and get on with the job of educating themselves and maintaining the position and prestige of their country in the world.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I think perhaps, in the absence of my noble friend Lord Silkin, that I should say that he was in some doubt whether he would be back in time to speak. As he has not been able to return, I know that he would wish me to apologise to the noble Earl, Lord Jeliicoe, and to the House for not being in his place as he had hoped to be.
§ 5.14 p.m.
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Longford. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin did in fact mention to me that that might be the case.
Your Lordships' debate this afternoon has ranged fairly widely. It has embraced the varied interests of the noble Lord, Lord Granchester, the Scottish economy, medicine, higher education, labour and productivity, apprenticeships, and, 253 last but not least the "little local difficulty" of the noble Earl, Lord Longford. It has also brought us a maiden speech from the noble Lord, Lord Williamson, and I should like to add my congratulations to those already paid to the noble Lord. We know very well of the great contribution which he has made to the trade union world, to his political Party, to industry and, above all, to the national drive for greater productivity. I am quite certain that he will make an equally great contribution to your Lordships' debates.
I would, of course, agree straight away with what the noble Lord, Lord Williamson, said: that national prosperity depends on efficient production, and that efficient production depends in large measure on good training, particularly on good apprenticeship training. I should also like to assure him that the Government fully back the activities of the Industrial Training Council, of which he was a prominent member, and they consider that no small part of the credit for the very large increase in the number of apprenticeships in the last two years is due to the Council's activities. The Government have, of course, recently taken certain initiatives in this apprenticeship field, but I feel perhaps that discussion of those might more suitably be left to to-morrow's debate, to my noble friend Lord Dundee, who will be dealing specifically with economic matters.
When I last spoke on one of the subjects discussed this afternoon, London government, I found later, to my consternation, that, with the kindly co-operation of noble Lords opposite, I had managed to speak for one hour and twelve minutes. If I were to do equal justice to all the subjects which have been discussed and ventilated this afternoon, I conclude that I should speak for 432 minutes. I feel that perhaps noble Lords may not wish to be detained quite so long. I hope, therefore, that the noble Lord, Lord Granchester, will rest content with the answer he has received from my noble friend Lord Derwent. And may I add my thanks for the tributes which have been paid to my noble friend's first performance, in this Session at least, from the Front Bench? I hope, too, that my noble friend Lord Polwarth, who has to return to his outlying areas this evening, will feel that his speech is better 254 answered by his fellow countryman, my noble friend Lord Dundee. Finally I trust that noble Lords who have spoken will not feel that I shall be dealing too cursorily with their points; but if there are loose ends—and I fear there may be—I will certainly try to tie them up in correspondence later, if that is the wish of those noble Lords.
One of the connecting threads running through this afternoon's speeches is that, by and large, they have tended to concentrate on the state of the nation's internal health, particularly, perhaps, on matters of social concern. Your Lordships will have noted the reference in the gracious Speech to the Government's intention to promote further improvements—and I quote from the Speech:in the social conditions and in the housing, health and welfare of My People.They will also have noted the not inconsiderable list of measures which the Government have in mind in this sphere; and perhaps I might briefly mention the proposed Children's Bill and the proposed Water Bill, if only because they are both shortly to see the light of day in your Lordships' House.
I, like many other noble Lords, was delighted to learn that my noble friend Lady Elliot of Harwood had been chosen to move the humble Address. When I was a "new boy" at a number of Parliamentarians' Conferences she helped me and she is, of course, a leading member of my right honourable friend's Advisory Committee on the Treatment of Offenders. I was also particularly glad that she gave a warm welcome to the Bill which will shortly be introduced into your Lordships' House designed to carry into effect the recommendations of the Committee under the chairmanship of the noble Viscount, Lord Ingleby, that local authorities should be given wider powers to prevent or forestall the suffering of children through neglect in their homes; in other words, to try to nip in the bud some of the factors which lead to children coming into care. I believe that this Bill not only will be good humanity but may also help us in the long term in tackling, at its roots as it were, that mysterious problem of juvenile delinquency.
255 I would entirely agree with what the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, said about the gravity of this problem of juvenile delinquency, and I should like very much to study her comments on that score. I would in passing correct what I think is a misconception, referred to when she was touching on crime as a whole towards the latter part of her speech. It was when I rose to interrupt her, for which I again apologise. The noble Lady referred to the overcrowding in our prisons. I would, of course, grant that there is that overcrowding, and it is indeed a serious matter, but it is my belief that the Prison Commissioners make it a firm rule, so far as young prisoners are concerned that there should be only one in a cell.
I was also very glad that in seconding the Address my noble friend Lord Dynevor particularly welcomed the Bill for the conservation and development of our national water resources. Your Lordships will recall there was a strong demand for such a Bill both in your debate on Ullswater and also later last year in May in a debate on a Motion by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin. I hope, therefore, this Bill will commend itself grosso modo to your Lordships even though its likely length will dismay you as much as it does me.
In dealing with social conditions it is, I think, very easy to allow one's enthusiasm for one's pet project or one's indignation over particular blemishes in our social scene to run away with one. It is, I think, therefore, important to try to keep the broad perspectives in view. With this in mind, I should like to mention a few figures which the Chief Secretary gave in another place very recently. He gave figures for expenditure on three important groups of social services; grants to persons, as they are called: education and health and welfare. He showed that in the past decade, from 1951 to 1961, expenditure on these three groups of services had more than doubled, rising from £1,643 million to £3,704 million, representing an increase, judged as a proportion of the gross national product, from 12.3 per cent. in 1951 to 15.4 per cent. in 1961. These are not just isolated symptoms of the broad and massive improvement which has taken place in the general condition and 256 welfare of our people. Even more significant perhaps are the figures which the Chief Secretary gave for the rise in the number of people in the income range between £500 and £2,000 per annum; in 1949, 2.8 million were in that category; in 1961, 13.2 million. That is the particular background against which I should like to discuss some of the matters mentioned by noble Lords this afternoon.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, the noble Earl, I am sure, will not fail to remind the House that crime has risen by about 50 per cent. in the same period.
My Lords, I am not quite certain of the precise relevance of that, but I am fully aware of the rise in crime; where the connection is I do not think any of us quite know.
I wish to deal, particularly at least to begin with, with two matters which have been discussed either this afternoon or earlier in your Lordships' debates on the Address, housing and education. These two, I think, bear most intimately upon the health, happiness and efficiency of this country. I believe that the quality of the life lived in these islands is also most intimately affected by the quality of the nation's housing and education. Housing is of course, however, one of the darkest spots on our social horizon. Despite the great improvement in the overall housing situation over the last decade—and I do not think any of us could deny there has been a great improvement in the overall situation—the state of the nation's housing, at least in some areas, is still a disgrace.
It should be the national objective, and it is certainly the Government's objective, to end this disgrace once and for all in the shortest possible time. I feel a token of this is the energy and imagination which my right honourable friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government is deploying in his new rôle. This, of course, means more house building, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer has already stated that public investment in housing is to be stepped up. Sir Keith Joseph made it clear in his speech in another place the other day that we intend to accelerate the progress of most of the elements in the housing programme and keep plugging away at all this until the whole of the nation's housing is decent. 257 This means that local authorities with urgent needs of all kinds are being encouraged to increase their building programmes. Such authorities should build as many houses as they can manage and that is precisely what they are being authorised to do.
This intensified attack on the bad housing of the nation means, of course, in the first instance intensified slum clearance. My right honourable friend has launched a special drive in forty black areas in the North and Midlands which together contain about 70 per cent. of the slums of this country. These slums are not only a disgrace but also one of the most startling anachronisms of mid-twentieth century Britain. As your Lordships know, we propose to double and treble in the next few years the rate of clearance in these areas, and for this purpose a special housing office has been established by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government in Manchester.
Despite my right honourable friend's intention to accelerate the pace in the public housing sector, it does, of course, remain the Government's aim to maintain the growth of home ownership. Though the funds available to building societies now seem to be perhaps more closely in step with the demand for mortgages, I would not myself dissent from the view expressed the other day by the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition that some would-be purchasers, especially young couples, may be meeting with difficulty over borrowing. However, all I think I can say at present is that my right honourable friend has this particular matter under very close consideration.
The noble Viscount also referred to the need for us to make a special effort to provide homes for older people. This is certainly something which the Government have very much at heart. In 1955 fewer than 10 per cent. of all the houses and flats built by local authorities were of the one-bedroom type suitable for older people, and by this year the proportion had risen to 27 per cent. My right honourable friend intends to go on encouraging both local authorities and housing associations to build as much housing of these types as they can.
The Ministry have, of course, done a great deal to bring the special housing needs of older people to the attention 258 of all concerned: the fact that most older people are women, the fact that as we grow older we grow smaller, the fact that as we grow older we become more accident prone, the fact that as we grow older we require more warmth in the home. The Ministry have already done much to bring these facts and the design solutions which they demand to the attention of all concerned and to encourage local authorities in particular to build special flatlets for older people. These flatlets have in fact proved astonishingly successful and popular. The noble Viscount mentioned the need for a special effort here. I would hope that if he were here he would feel able to concede, in the light of what I have said, that such a special effort is already being made.
Education is rightly given a place of its own in the gracious Speech. The expansion of university and technical education will continue. It was also rightly referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, and at more length by the noble Lord, Lord Chorley. The words which I have quoted reaffirm the Government's commitment to make provision for a substantial increase in the number of student places for higher education of all sorts. We realise how university and higher education can enhance the quality of our national life to Which I referred just now. We would entirely agree with what the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme, said in your Lordships' debate last May, that university expansion is a vital prerequisite to economic advance. We should not, I think, broadly speaking, dissent from what the noble Lords. Lord Grantchester and Lord Chorley, have said on that score. We would also wish that this country, through its higher educational establishments, should continue to serve as a forum and as a university for the peoples of the newly emerging countries. It is therefore a travesty of the facts to suggest that in some way support of higher education is lukewarm.
Let me remind your Lordships of some of the facts. In 1956 there were just under 90,000 university students in this country; last year the figure had risen to 111,000. In October of this year, in this last (month, it was already, I gather, over 115,000. By 1966–67 the figure should be 150,000, and by 1973–74 259 170,000. Of course it is the prime purpose of the Government to see that these various targets are in fact attained. During the debate on universities which we had in your Lordships' House last May, my noble friend the Leader of the House referred to the Government's promise to look sympathetically at the need for increasing the university building programme to take account of higher building costs.
I was glad that the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, fairly mentioned the Chancellor's announcement of last September, that it had been decided to raise the value of university building starts in 1963 by £5 million, from £25 million to £30 million. This addition should enable the universities to re-place in their individual programmes for 1963 those projects which because of rising costs had been put off or had been in danger of being put off to a later year. The programme for subsequent years will be reviewed in due course and in addition, of course, there will be the more general review of university finances which the Government have already undertaken to have in two years' time. Then the whole question of how university expansion is going forward will be considered in the light of how prices and other factors are moving, and how the long term economic outlook has developed. May I just mention further figures which give the total cost to public funds of the whole university programme: in 1956–57, £50 million; in 1961–62, £104 million; in 1966–67, a target of £155 million. I do not think that that represents just lip service to university expansion.
The noble Lord, Lord Chorley, also referred to the question of university salaries. This matter was again fully dealt with in your Lordships' debate on May 16 when my noble friend the Leader of the House explained that, through sheer accident of timing, the university teachers claim formulated in May, 1961, was caught by the pay pause whilst the claim of the Burnham teachers was not. I am of course well aware that this apparent disparity of treatment between the teachers in the universities and, say, teachers in the colleges of advanced technology has led to the disquiet to which the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, alluded. It is fully recognised by the Government that the events of the 260 past month have borne hardly on the university staffs. However, as the noble Lord himself, suggested, since the Association of University Teachers have now submitted a new claim to the University Grants Committee it is, as it were, sub judice, I do not suppose that the noble Lord would wish me to comment further at this stage on that particular claim. But I can of course confirm that the Government are in any event committed to a review of university salaries next year. This was promised by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary in the debate in another place on April 5. This undertaking was reiterated by my noble friend the Leader of the House on May 16 in your Lordships' House, and I can assure the noble Lord and other noble Lords that the Government fully recognise the importance of that pledge.
May I turn now, with considerable trepidation, to the field of medicine? The noble Baroness, Lady Suimmerskill, asked me a number of questions, and I trust that she will extend to me her customary indulgence if my answers are neither strictly medical nor, indeed, very straight. Her first question was about the testing of new drugs—a matter which of course is given greater poignancy through a tragic trial which is proceeding at this particular moment in a neighbouring country across the Channel. I am afraid that I am in some difficulty here. The joint sub-committee of the two standing Medical Advisory Committees, which was set up last summer under the chairmanship of the noble Lord, Lord Cohen of Birkenhead, has in fact just reported to the two Ministers concerned. Their Report is to be published in the OFFICIAL REPORT, and my noble friend Lord Newton is in fact replying to-day to a Written Question on the subject. In the circumstances, I think it would probably be inappropriate for me to anticipate my noble friend's statement Which, however, the noble Baroness will find in to-morrow's Hansard.
The noble Baroness also asked about the provision of maternity beds, and referred to the survey made by the National Birthday Trust Fund. Here, I think I can say that the Government fully accept that more maternity beds must be provided in many areas to meet the requirements of a rising birth rate—a birth rate rising more rapidly than most 261 of us would have anticipated ten or even five years ago. Their policy, based on the Report of the Committee of Maternity Services, which reported in 1959 (the Cranbrook Committee, to which the noble Baroness referred), is to provide for a national average of 70 per cent. of confinements to take place in hospital, and I think to allow for the mother a period of ten days' stay in hospital after confinement. The present percentage is, I understand, 64 per cent.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
I must correct the noble Earl. I expected him to fall into difficulty and I was trying to help him. He says 64 per cent. That is not accurate, because that figure includes institutions which do not have a resident medical officer. The two obstetricians that I mentioned wrote to The Times and said that it was—I do not like to say dishonest as that is a rather strong word, but that it was absurd to include this because it does not offer a safe confinement for the child.
I wonder whether the noble Lady would help me even more and tell me what, in her view, is the correct percentage?
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
Much lower than that. But you have given the figure of 64 per cent. as to confinements. This was reported in The Times, and the obstetricians were so annoyed at your telling the country this that they wrote their long letter saying that there was no safety in a hospital unless if had a resident medical officer. When an emergency occurs, who is going to handle it? Would the noble Lord send his wife to such a place?
—or on further bandying of these difficult percentages. But I would admit straight away that there is ground here which needs to be made up, and that there is more ground, as it were, because of the increase in the birth rate. However, I understand that the plan here is flexible. We could in certain selected cases accept a shorter stay than ten days—only, of course, in certain selected cases. Some older accommodation can be kept temporarily 262 in use and a higher priority could be given to the provision of maternity units in hospitals by rearranging the timings of the various building programmes announced in the National Hospital Plan. All that, of course, is possible. But, as an amateur in these rather difficult and deep waters, I should prefer to take refuge in the formula that my noble friend Lord Newton has been listening to this exchange and I am sure he will bring it to the attention of my right honourable friend the Minister of Health.
Finally, the noble Lady raised the more complex subject of cancer of the cervix. I confess that when she kindly gave me notice that she was proposing to do so, I was under the impression that the cervix was something to do with my throat. On inquiry I found that I was mistaken. But it is quite clear to me from what I have subsequently read, for example in Part II of the Ministry of Health Report of 1961, to which the noble Lady referred, that medical opinion generally agrees that cytological testing of the cervix may give early warning of the possibility of cancer of the cervix and so enable further tests to be made. I am also aware that it is true that this type of cancer, if diagnosed early enough, is more susceptible to treatment than many other forms of cancer.
My right honourable friend the Minister of Health has in fact been keeping developments in cytological screening closely in view, and during the past year has consulted his Standing Medical Advisory Committee about the desirability of expanding facilities for cytological testing in the National Health Service as a whole. A senior medical officer of the Ministry of Health recently visited the United States and studied the various schemes in operation there. His findings were reported to the Standing Medical Advisory Committee. The matter has also been discussed with representatives of the Association of Clinical Pathologists and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. The Standing Medical Committee, I understand, has advised that facilities for cytological screening should be available in the first place for all gynaecological departments so that this method of diagnosis is available to all gynaecologists who need it. 263 Once this has been achieved, further expansion of the service may follow as doctors find the service a benefit to their patients. The Regional Hospital Boards have also been asked to proceed to expand facilities, where necessary, in line with the Committee's recommendations. That—I admit I am very much an amateur in this field—seems to me to betoken action.
In conclusion I should like to touch on that big local difficulty, the reform of local government. Your Lordships debated this subject at length in December, 1960, and again in March of this year. My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has announced in another place that the Bill will be introduced in two or three weeks' time. It is my understanding that the Bill will in fact be introduced in another place. I can assure the noble Viscount, the Leader of the Opposition, in answer to a question he posed to your Lordships in the Debate on the Address last Wednesday, that the Bill on this subject will in fact permit a full examination of all the major issues connected with the organisation of local government in Greater London. Your Lordships can therefore look forward in the not too distant future to debating this matter with your customary thoroughness, impartiality and, of course, moderation.
In the circumstances I must somehow resist the almost irresistible temptation to chase all those herrings which the noble Earl, Lord Longford, has trailed before your Lordships this afternoon. But may I say straight away how much I enjoyed the noble Earl's speech this afternoon? I am sure it was valuable that your Lordships should now have had, even though it may be just a little late in the day, the benefit of the advice of the Chairman of the Committee for London Government—that acknowledged expert, like me, on matters of local government.
Some of your Lordships may possibly wonder why this great mantle of responsibility has fallen upon Lord Longford's shoulders, broad and distinguished though they may be. Many years ago as a very young diplomat in Washington I found myself invited to address the annual ceremony which is held on 264 Roanoake Island, in North Carolina, to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of a young lady called Virginia Dare, the first child born of English parents in the North American continent. I delivered my usual bad speech, but the Americans are kindly folk, and the local newspaper, the Roanoake Times, ran a leader the following day, commenting hospitably on my speech, under the heading "The Genial, Intellectual Earl". Now, my Lords, I am neither very genial nor very intellectual, but the noble Earl, Lord Longford, is certainly both genial and intellectual. I feel, therefore, that those who are responsible for these matters were very wise to select so genial, so intellectual, and yet so intensely political an animal to head their Committee.
As I have said, this is clearly not the time, although it is the place, for a full-dress debate on London government. Nevertheless, I feel that I must once again, if only for the benefit of the noble Earl, spell out very shortly the basic approach of the Government to this problem. It is both simple and, I think, straightforward. They think, as the Royal Commission thought, that London is a city in its own right, with a recognisable civic unity, a city which deserves its own system of government for the whole city. There are matters of vital importance, in the Government's view, to Londoners which cannot be satisfactorily dealt with or considered in any narrower context than that of the whole city. The handling of traffic, the main road system, the general strategy of land-use planning—all of these affect the whole built-up area, and sensible decisions about them cannot be taken unless the needs of the whole area are borne in mind.
There need be no fear, therefore, I submit, that the Greater London Council will lack opportunities for making a really important contribution to the good government of the capital, if and when it is established. But its powers will not be entirely limited to broad planning and broad strategy. It will stand in behind the boroughs, ready to reinforce their activities in housing and redevelopment generally. It will be the sole authority responsible for overspill housing, and there can be no question but that it will have an important part to play in the problems of providing houses for the people of London and in carrying through 265 major redevelopment schemes. There is no reason at all, in my view, to suppose that it will not be capable of sustaining, for example, an absolutely first-class architectural department capable of carrying forward the very fine work of the L.C.C.'s architectural services.
In the general run of the local government services, and especially the more personal services, the Government believe that their concentration in the hands of the proposed new, strong borough councils will best contribute to the health of local government, to the harmonious development of those services, and to a clearer understanding of their administration by the people they serve—in short, to vigorous and healthy local democracy. The boroughs will all be large enough and strong enough to sustain first-class technical departments in all spheres, including, not least, architecture. Indeed, there is every reason to believe that with the organisation which is now proposed there will be a general move forward—or there can be—in the quality of architecture and of the other professional services employed by local authorities in London for the service of the public.
Now I would, of course, grant that there are serious transitional problems, difficult transitional problems, involved in all this. I should be the first, I think, to say that the Government recognise the magnitude of those problems. Special thought must, obviously, be given to the maintenance of local government services during the changeover period, and to the protection of those—especially the elderly, the handicapped and the children—to whom the noble Earl, Lord Longford, referred and for whom special services are provided in London. I can assure your Lordships that this will be done. But at the same time let me add that this will be the aim and determination of responsible local authorities just as much as it is the aim of the Government. The noble Earl, Lord Longford, referred to education, and implied that the Government, or at least I, had in some way changed their stance since the White Paper was published.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I must make that plain. The Government, of course, have completely changed their stance. That is quite beyond doubt. I do not want to interrupt 266 the noble Earl—I had a good innings earlier—but I need hardly say that he has not up until now replied to any of the points I have made.
My Lords, I did make the point, I thought, that there would be time, and time enough, for much debate on this question in this present Session of Parliament. I think I should be going a long way this evening if I replied to all the points which the noble Earl has made. But I do not accept his contention that the Government have changed, in any basic way, their stance on education. I can only assume that the noble Earl has perhaps not studied the full implications of the reply given by my right honourable friend the former Minister of Housing and Local Government in another place on May 3. May I remind the noble Earl that in the White Paper the Government said that, with boroughs of the size they had in mind, education would best be administered with other services as a borough function, but that in the central area there were special circumstances, concerned with the historical development of education in that central area, with the siting of schools there, and with the movement of children across boundaries in that central area, which made it desirable to have a much larger central area for education than could be provided by a single borough. That was stated in the White Paper.
These two aims—a larger central area for education, and borough responsibility elsewhere—remain quite unaltered. What has since then been misrepresented as a change of front was, in fact, the Government's further statement as to how these principles might be given effect to. Initially, the L.C.C. area will be adopted as the central area for education, but there will be a review within five years for two limited purposes; first, to see whether the L.C.C. area should be retained indefinitely for educational purposes, and secondly to explore how far the individual boroughs in the central area can best be associated with the administration of education. The noble Earl quoted a reply which I gave to an interjection during my speech in our earlier debate on London government last March, and asked where I stood on this matter—whether I still 267 stood on that statement. I will read it [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 238, col. 288]:and that, I think, is one of the advantages in having education, outside the central area, as a responsibility of the individual borough.I stand precisely, my Lords, where I stood then; and so in fact do the Government.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords I can only say that I think his answer will look very strange when he reads it to-morrow. I would say that there has been a very big change in Government policy, and if we are going to stick over this sort of thing when we get to discussions of the Bill, I am afraid that we shall be here for ever.
My Lords, the noble Earl is entitled to his opinion on that matter, but I should like just to refer to one further important point with which I think the noble Earl was rightly concerned, and that is the position of local government staff in London. It is, indeed, a very important matter. Some staff are naturally very anxious about the way these proposals for reorganisation will affect them, and this was a matter to which your Lordships alluded, quite rightly, in our debate last March. My right honourable friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government is now engaged in consultation with the local authorities, and with the organisations representing local government employees, about the possible establishment of a special staff Commission to safeguard the interests of the staff who will be transferring from the present to the proposed new authorities. These consultations are not yet complete, but a number of authorities and organisations have already expressed themselves in favour of this proposal—which was, in fact, one made by a number of your Lordships in that debate—or a proposal along those broad lines. Perhaps some of your Lordships will have seen the leading article in the current issue of NALGO'S journal Public Service, which gives the proposal, I am very glad to say, a warm welcome, and says that such a Commission should remove 268 much of the anxiety now felt by the staff concerned.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, may I ask the noble Earl a question? He mentioned the staff of the London County Council, but he will appreciate that the staffs of the Surrey County Council, the Essex County Council and the Middlesex County Council will be involved, and there is very great concern among them. Will those people be represented on that Commission?
My Lords, it is a perfectly valid point which the noble Lord is making. I think I made a slip. I was certainly intending to cover all the staff who would be affected. If I am wrong in that I will, of course, take steps, immediately to correct that error, but I think that is the position. Of course, it might encourage some of your Lordships to know that the article in NALGO'S journal is, in fact, entitled "Reorganisation without Tears".
Now without embarking upon a long speech on this subject, I hope that I have persuaded at least some of your Lordships that the Government's proposals are not quite so misconceived or as foolish, or indeed as Fascist (I think was the term the noble Earl used outside this House), as some noble Lords have suggested.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, since I have been referred to, and Fascism has come into it, I had better say that I indicated that the procedure adopted in refusing a public inquiry was Fascist. I do not think the proposals are Fascist: I think they are just mad.
I see that I have not yet converted the noble Earl—indeed, I was rather hoping that I had not. As a keen student of the gossip columns, I must confess that I was rather beguiled last summer by the day-to-day reports of the noble Earl's aquatic activities, his sea-borne reconnaissance up the Thames, and the reports of his new-found swimming prowess. Misguided though I hold his opinions on London government to be, I must say that I look forward to the day when the noble Earl, bearing his promised petition, will bring his armada up the Thames and drop anchor outside the Palace of Westminster, and I wonder 269 whether it is too much to hope that all this swimming practice means that the Chairman of the Committee for London Government will actually swim the last lap.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, I must rise and defend my noble colleague. He happens to be, like the noble Lord sitting next to him, an ex-First Lord of the Admiralty; and so am I. We are not ashamed of our aquatic activities, any more than anybody else. As to the reply he is making on what he called the remark about Fascism outside the House, elsewhere, may I just bring the noble Earl back to the case I made last week? It is as near Fascist as can be, in principle, to adopt a wholesale reform in order to break the power of a Labour Party in London who, at the last two Elections, have increased their majority by discussing the very proposals the noble Earl is now defending.
I can only assure the noble Viscount that he is entirely wrong if he thinks that that is the purpose behind these proposals. I would also point out that these proposals were the fruit of a fully-expert Royal Commission which sat for three years and took evidence from more than 400 authorities, local authorities and private individuals; and that the Government's proposals on this matter will have to run the gauntlet of scrutiny by both Houses of Parliament. It seems to me very curious to describe that procedure as in any way Fascist.
My Lords, I am beginning to be in danger of prolonging, perhaps unduly, what might otherwise have been a pleasantly short debate. I hope that, along the way, I have possibly answered some of the questions put to me. More important, I hope that, also along the way, I have shown that the Government's concern for the health, happiness and quality of our society, and for the services which under-pin it, is no wit less acute than that of noble Lords opposite.
§ Moved, That the debate be now adjourned until to-morrow.—(The Earl of Lucan.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly.