HL Deb 03 March 1965 vol 263 cc1138-246

3.5 p.m.

ROBERTSON OAKRIDGE rose to call attention to the importance of giving to the youth of the nation greater opportunities for becoming aware of their social responsibilities; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I hope that you will forgive me if I start with a platitude. This country of ours stands to-day rather disconsolate, perhaps, and a bit bewildered about her future. We are very concerned about our economy, about our foreign affairs, about our defence, and debates on these subjects take place often in both Houses of Parliament. But is it not wise every now and then to remind ourselves that, however important these subjects are, what matters above all for our future and our future prosperity is what is going on among our youth and how their character is developing? As I said, that is a platitude; it is just a simple truth. But I must say that, thinking back on the manifestos that were issued during the General Election, re-reading, as I have done, the gracious Speech with which this Parliament was opened, I am left wondering whether this simple truth is really appreciated to the full extent it should be.

In this House we debate from time to time various matters that bear upon youth. For example, I understand that your Lordships had quite a lively debate on Education while I was detained elsewhere. The Youth Service is also debated here, as well as delinquency and its cure. But I want this afternoon to try to convince your Lordships that this problem of youth can be seen in its true perspective only if it is looked at as a whole. It is only when it is so regarded that it assumes its real order of magnitude as one of the great national problems in front of us, on a par with our foreign relations, our economy and our defence.

I have had a little difficulty in wording my Motion. I particularly wished to avoid giving the impression that I think that all our young people live their lives regardless of their social responsibilities. Of course they do not. Nor, on the other hand, did I want to give the impression that I think that they would all sprout angels' wings immediately, if only we would treat them aright. The truth, I suppose, is that we are all born into this world with a capacity for good, or for making a nuisance of ourselves, and what I think chiefly distinguishes the young people of to-day from those, say, of my generation is that their capacity is much greater and develops much sooner.

I should like to point out that this problem is not peculiar to this country. It is not peculiar to this country that there should be a problem concerning the development of the capacity of youth, and a tendency on the part of youth, therefore, not to lift their sights beyond some rather uninspiring objective just in front of their eyes. A year or two ago I was talking to Dr. Adenauer, when he still was Chancellor of West Germany, and he said something like this: "Your papers annoy me. They are always saying that our young people are getting keen on Nazism. They are not keen on Nazism; they are not keen on nationalism, nor patriotism, nor politics, nor religion, nor art, nor anything except materialism. All their efforts are concentrated on passing the examination that will get them the job, that will get them the money, that will buy the material benefits that are all-important to them". Only a few weeks ago I was talking to a distinguished Frenchman and he used practically identical language in speaking of the youth of France.

I am not going to give my assessment in respect of the youth of our country. That has been done by many people better qualified to do it than myself. I remember the noble Lord, Lord Willis, doing it extremely well in a debate that we had last May on Leisure. A very amusing and penetrating analysis of the problem was contained in an address given quite recently by the Headmaster of Eton to the Royal Commonwealth Society. I think it is now being printed for circulation. Never, indeed, was so much written and so much said about youth, and I do not propose to add my quota to the pile. I think it will be sufficient if I repeat what I have already indicated: that in my view we are failing in our generation to give these young people the example, the inspiration and the opportunities they need to enable them to display and use the enormous amount of good that they have inside them if only we can draw it out. Having said that, I will go straight on to discuss, as pragmatically as I can, what I think we should do about it.

How should we set about it, and who should do it? The parents? Of course the parents—and in this country we have got some very good parents. But we also know that there are a good many parents who cannot, or will not, and certainly do not, do anything effective about it. An expert on the Youth Service said to me. "You see, their children are so much better educated and so much cleverer than they are". That may be a reason—in fact it is a reason; and there are others of which we are aware—but this much is certain: that if this job is left entirely to the parents, then in large measure it will not be done. As soon as we get outside the family circle then we know that youth is subjected to a wide variety of influences—the schools, the Youth Service, the Fighting Services, industry, the police, the courts, the Probation Service and the establishments of correction; and, powerfully beamed on them all the time, the Press, broadcasting and television, advertising. I hope that noble Lords who speak after me will focus the light individually on one or more of these influences. I am not going to do that because, as I have said already, it is my purpose to ask your Lordhips to look at the wood as a whole, and I do not want to dwell too long on any one group of trees. What I am proposing to do is to ask your Lordships to accompany me, as it were, on a short, circular walk around the wood, and I shall make a few comments as we go.

The schools, first of all. Undoubtedly very great efforts have been made in recent years to repair the past neglect of our education system. Much progress has been made, but the system is still handicapped very largely, as we know, by a shortage of teachers. This shortage is a shortage in quantity, but it is also to some extent a shortage in quality. We had a very good statement by the noble Lord, Lord Bowden, just a week ago to-day telling us what is being done to improve the flow of teachers, but clearly it will not be possible to repair this shortage overnight. When teachers are few and classes are large, it seems to me to be inevitable that attention should be focused on the passing of examinations, and that other things, like character training, training in citizenship and community service, should take second place. Then, again, in these days it is fashionable to lay so much stress on technology and science that other things, such as those I have mentioned, rather tend to go into the shade.

I should like to ask the Government whether they are satisfied that sufficient attention is being paid to these things at this time—because from the results it does not seem that this is the case. To give an example, a short while ago we heard the National Students' Union putting out a statement that the country owes a free university education to all students. My Lords, clearly they cannot have been told the proper position, because the country does not owe them anything of the sort. On the contrary, they have been given, or offered, a free schooling, and they now owe the country a return on the money spent. It may, of course, be a good thing—I dare say it is—to give all those who can profit from it a free university education. But, if the community does that, it does it as an investment for its future, it does not do it to repay a debt that it does not in fact owe.

I pass on to the Youth Services. Here I am on pretty familiar ground. The scandalous neglect of our Youth Services—and I do not think those words are too strong—led to the appointment some half-dozen years ago of the Committee under Lady Albemarle, and we are all greatly indebted to Lady Albemarle and her colleagues for the Report they published. As a result, a great deal of splendid progress has been made. We now know that the Youth Services Development Council have initiated a review of progress made. That is good, and it is particularly important in connection with what I am saying; because surely it is to the Youth Services that we must largely look to give these young people the opportunities to show what they are worth and also to render some service to the community as a whole.

A good deal of progress has been made in connection with what is called "adventure-training". My Lords, my experience is that the demand among our young people, and especially among our boys, for this kind of training is insatiable. A few days ago President Johnson exhorted the youth of the United States of America "to work and to dare". I am prepared to agree that it is desirable now and then to exhort our young people and our boys to work, but in my view it is quite unnecessary to exhort them to dare. What is wanted is to give them opportunities for their daring, so that they may do it in a way which is acceptable to the rest of the community. I am not now thinking just of those rather select boys or young people who work for the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, who go on Outward Bound schemes or who go on V.S.O.: I am thinking of the general run of our boys. I am thinking of "Half our Future"—yes; long hair, sideburns, "winkle-pickers" and all.

Another thing which is good is that a considerable number of our youth organisations are now fully involved in community service. So far, so good, as regards the Youth Services. But anybody who has looked closely at the subject (and I know there are a great many noble Lords present this afternoon who have done so) knows that "so far" is not nearly far enough. Our Youth Services are still primitive, and they are crippled at the present time by a shortage of leaders. As regards full-time, paid leaders, it is clear to me that their pay and their status must be raised as quickly as possible to the point where they attract the necessary number of men—and it is as simple as that.

As regards the voluntary leaders, the unpaid leaders, the situation is more difficult. I am bound to say that I feel that our great universities and colleges, and indeed the young men of university age generally, are not fulfilling their responsibilities in this respect. I quite understand that young people on the threshold of their careers find it difficult to spare the time for this kind of work; but we have got to have them. The noble Lord, Lord Willis, recommended not long ago that the B.B.C. and I.T.V. should combine propaganda programmes for this purpose. When he did that he was only repeating a recommendation of the Albemarle Committee; but, so far as I know, nothing has been done about it, because there has been nobody behind it to give it the necessary push and see it through. Another thing that might help would be if the employers, including those in the nationalised industries, could be persuaded to look upon good service with the Youth Service as a good qualification for jobs, which indeed it is.

Another matter which I think demands the attention of the Development Council is therô le of local authorities in relation to voluntary societies. I live in Gloucestershire where we are very fortunate in this regard; but generally it is too true that many local authorities try to do everything themselves, and some of them seem to be jealous or even hostile towards efforts which are not their own. Nor do I think that the relationships between their schools and the voluntary societies are anything like as good as they should be. Indeed, it is my view that the partnership between local authority and voluntary society which was the basis of the main recommendations of the Albemarle Report is not working—and I think I know what I am talking about here. Last week I was at a large conference of club leaders from the South of England and their complaints about this were all too wide.

Lastly, about the Youth Services, I feel strongly that some rationalisation among voluntary societies is needed. Their number is legion and new ones are born every week. Some are better than others. The Standing Conference of National Voluntary Youth Organisations does its best to get co-operation but, as the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, will know, it is only a conference of repre- sentatives and it is not therefore a sharp instrument for co-ordination. I do not myself think that the voluntary societies are capable of effecting their own rationalisation. It is a situation rather like the one which obtained in the textile industry and in the aircraft industry. These societies, or most of them, receive some form of subvention from the Government and I think that the Government are entitled to ask, and to ask firmly, that they should organise themselves in a really economic manner.

My Lords, I mentioned the Fighting Services. That may have surprised your Lordships, but, after all, the Fighting Services can offer to young people, to their own great benefit, wonderful opportunities to serve the community. I have always thought that the abolition of National Service was one of the least wise acts of the late Government. However I will not waste the time of the House in trying to persuade our present Government to re-establish it. But I do wish to draw attention to the tremendous amount of good work that the Fighting Services are putting into the field of youth. There are the cadet units, the junior leaders' regiments, the apprentice regiments; there is the lowering of the age of enlistment to 17, including enlistment into the Reserve Forces; and there is the secondment of junior N.C.O.s to help in the Youth Services and to help run the clubs. These are really splendid things and I think we could involve the Fighting Services even more if we really set about it, because they know very well that this is good for their recruitment.

Having said something in rather mild criticism of the late Government, I should like to commend them for the excellent start they made on the question of apprentice training in industry; and I hope the present Government will see that job through. In doing it, I hope they will ensure through their inspectors that apprentice training is not limited just to trade training but will include character training and training in citizenship. I hope they will ensure that attention is paid not only to apprentices but to all young people in industry, including the ordinary young people on the shop floor. I hope they will try to bring home to management, from the chairman and the managing director down to the foreman on the shop floor and the shop steward, that they have a personal responsibility for the youngsters in the organisation.

The police, the Courts, the Probation Service and the establishments under the Home Office—these are certainly part of the whole problem. As one visits these places and looks into the eyes of the young people there one is—or at least I am, and I think all noble Lords would be—always impressed by the obvious reserves of fun and goodness that lie behind those eyes. All the same, it does not do to nurse illusions. This is a very difficult field, and it is, unfortunately, a field with which I am not very familiar. Therefore, for that reason, and also because there is taking place a Home Office inquiry into delinquency and its treatment, I am proposing to say nothing about it this afternoon, other than to insist that it is part of the whole, and should be co-ordinated with the whole.

I will give one practical example of what I mean. It is generally accepted that the staff of these establishments—I am thinking chiefly of the teaching staff—tend to stay in their jobs for far too long and to get stale. This is because it is a small service. If only there were interchange-ability with the teaching staffs under the Ministry of Education, I think there would be a great deal of benefit all round.

I come now to the Press, broadcasting and television. These, of course, present difficult problems. The Government do not control the Press in this country—and woe betide them if they tried to do so! However, I think the House will agree that we have a remarkably responsible Press. Sometimes we do not know how lucky we are in this respect until we read some of the foreign Press. If the Government had a really cohesive policy for youth and were to get hold of the Press, perhaps the editors of our great dailies and weeklies, and explain to them what they want to do, what they want to avoid and what they want to stop, I believe they would get a very generous measure of co-operation. I do not think that the problem of the Press is as difficult as it is sometimes made out to be.

So far as broadcasting and television are concerned, these are rather different. Whereas we have newspapers that are read by the old and the "square", and other newspapers that are read by the young and the "with it", television programmes may be watched from start to finish by people of both sexes and all ages. Thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Hill of Luton, I am a member of the Advisory Council of the Independent Television Authority and I have thought a great deal about this. I have come to the conclusion that if you insisted on taking out of television programmes anything that could conceivably have a bad effect on youth you would be left with some very dull programmes. I think that the Government, instead of fussing too much about individual items in the programmes, would do better to ensure that the general tone is right. They would do better to concentrate on choosing with the utmost care the men to fill the top posts which are filled by Government, men on whom they feel they can rely to keep a high tone—I do not mean a "pi" tone but a high lone. If they were to do that, I think we should avoid the worst mistakes—for example, what the noble Lord, Lord Willis, referred to one day as "sick satire". We want our Establishment to move with the times. We do not want to shelter it from all criticism. But that is quite a different thing from holding it up to constant mockery by youth. I think that is something which we should very much avoid. Before I leave this point, may I insist that I am not pointing a finger at any man in any of my remarks?

I have now covered my brief circular tour around the wood, and I think your Lordships will have observed that in all those influences which I have mentioned—there are others which I have not mentioned, like the Churches—the Government are deeply concerned. The conclusion I have formed, rightly or wrongly, is that the actions of the Government in this field are entirely unco-ordinated. I am well aware that plenty of mutual discussion takes place between Departments. I am not complaining about lack of liaison between officials. What I am complaining of is that there seems to be no clear policy, No 1nspired planning, among the half dozen or more Ministers who are working in this field. I think that we need a Plan for Youth and we need to put the responsibility for working it out and seeing it through on one man.

Does this mean a Ministry for Youth? I think that if I were to recommend anything like that I should have the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, getting up off his sick bed and coming along to castigate me. I do not think that this is necessary. When there is a need to co-ordinate work among a number of Ministers, it is clearly the responsibility of the Prime Minister to ensure that that co-ordination takes place, and there are various recognised pieces of machinery and various recognised ways of doing this. I feel sure that if Mr. Harold Wilson were convinced of the importance of this problem of youth as a whole, and of the need to co-ordinate the work in this field, he would, without any great difficulty, choose his means and choose his man. It is only when this problem of youth is looked at as a whole that it is seen in its proper order of magnitude.

I have made a number of suggestions as to what should go in the Plan, and, briefly, I should like to mention five others before I finish. First, there should be a renewed campaign among parents to remind them of their responsibilities, to associate them with the successes and failures of their offspring, and to help them, through Counsel Service or other means, to fulfil their responsibilities. Secondly, there should be vigorous promotion of commuunity service for the young. I have heard a number of noble Lords in this House recommend that this should be compulsory for all. On reflection, I think I prefer that it should remain on a voluntary basis. The main difficulty is not to persuade young people to volunteer for this kind of service; it is to organise it well and get it accepted. There are volunteer organisations already working in this field. They seem to me to be a little lacking in cohesion, and certainly lack support. The official attitude, I am told, is ice cold. I do not know why that should be. President Johnson has not hesitated to organise his Volunteers for Service, which is the domestic equivalent of his Peace Corps. He has not been inhibited by the fact that it has been criticised as a kind of Hitler Jugend. That, I understand, is the bogy which haunts Whitehall.

Thirdly, there should be a strengthening of the Youth Service, to start with by raising the status of the Government department that handles it, a department or branch which at this time lies buried away somewhere within the vast Ministry of Education and Science, under an Assistant Secretary. It would be good, for example, if we had somebody in this House who could regularly and at first hand answer questions on this subject. I have mentioned some other things that to me seem to be necessary in the Youth Service. I feel that I am likely to be told that the Progress Review Committee will no doubt think of all those things. Perhaps it will. But I hope that the Government does not feel that it has fulfilled its obligations if it waits for a report by this sub-Committee and then titivates up the present Youth Service a bit here and there and gives it a little more money for this and that, because that is not what is wanted. What is wanted is that the Government should get hold of this whole problem and translate it to a higher sphere, and make some really bold decisions and inspired planning.

Fourthly, I hope that the Government will look at the suggestion recently made by the Warden of Toynbee Hall to start a compulsory savings scheme on a P.A.Y.E. basis for all young wage-earners. I think we know well that a lot of these young people would be better off if they did not have so much money rattling about in their pockets.

Fifthly and lastly, if one wants to make a man more responsible, what does one do?—give him more responsibility. How would it be to give our young people more civic responsibility? What about lowering the age of voting? I have never really seen a good argument made against doing that. It seems to me that if a man is old enough to die for his country, he ought to be regarded as old enough to vote. As to being immature, it is my impression that young people to-day are as mature at 18 as I was at 20 or 21—not that that is saying very much.

Earlier in my speech, I quoted some remarks made by some of my friends on the Continent. I am going to end by quoting an extract from a speech made by M. Louis Armand, when he was being introduced as a member of the Acadé mie Française. Many noble Lords will know that M. Armand has held many high appointments, national and international, and in particular he was head of This is what he said—it is my own translation of his French: I believe that if the civilisations of this world are in peril to-day, it is not due to the clash of rival ideologies nor even to the atom bomb. It is because they are no longer capable of mobilising the enthusiasms of their youth.

We need a plan to mobilise the enthusiasms of our youth, and to mobilise them in the cause of making their country a better country than it was when they were born into it. I beg to move for Papers.

3.39 p.m.


My Lords, I think that all noble Lords will be most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, for having introduced this Motion to-day. The proof of the amount of interest it has evoked lies in the long list of speakers who are going to speak this afternoon. As he said, the noble Lord took us on a journey around the wood. It was a rather sombre and shady wood, but there were a few rays of sunlight. I hope that in the course of our debate some more trees may be successfully removed and that some useful suggestions will emerge which will improve the position.

I think all of us are very conscious of the fact that we are worried about the lack of social responsibility that sometimes appears among young people. We are often most appalled at the crimes of violence, particularly unnecessary violence to old people, animals and so forth, which is most disturbing. Obviously everything that we can do to remedy this matter is of enormous benefit. So many people have written so many articles and made so many speeches on the subject; but we never seem to get very much further. Probably the answer is that there is no one solution to the problem, and, as has been said on many occasions before, it is not really a problem only of youth, but one of the whole of our present-day society. But that does not mean that we should not seek every means to put it right.

I thought that the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, put first things first when he said that the most obvious and best way of dealing with the problem was to begin in the home. Quite obviously, this is of the most vital importance. If we could get the home background of all young people right, we should not need to worry very much further. But apart from improving the physical environment of the home, which, of course, is most important, we ourselves, as outside citizens, can do little to influence the behaviour of parents other than to emphasise the responsibilities which they have to their children.

Where the parents fail, then there are two agencies through which the community has to try and improve matters—namely, the Youth Service and the schools, both of which were mentioned by the noble Lord. I am sure that most of your Lordships would agree that the Youth Service, on the whole, is doing splendid work. I must confess that when the noble Lord, in his walk around the wood, made some remarks about the nationalisation of the Youth Service, I felt a very cold shiver down my spine.


I thought the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, said "rationalisation". It may be that I misheard him.


I beg the noble Lord's pardon. I thought he said "nationalisation".


Guilty conscience!


I agree, up to a point, with the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, but I think there is merit in the very diversification of agencies working in this field. The fact that there is no one solution and that different organisations have different approaches seems to me to be of benefit rather than the reverse. Of course the Youth Service needs more resources. But if we are realistic, we must recognise that at the present moment and in the present economic situation it is not likely that the Youth Service will get very much more. At the same time, within the present allocation of resources to it there is a great deal going on in the Youth Service; and in my opinion, it is well directed.

There is one disadvantage with the Youth Service. It tends to provide very necessary facilities for the best of our young people, but it is not able to do as much as it should perhaps be doing for those who are most in need; that is, the two-thirds of young people who do not come within the Youth Service. I think it is probably true that most of the youth organisations have in the past few years, since publication of the Albemarle Report, been making experiments to see how they can reach out in their work and touch these other two-thirds of what are sometimes called the unattached or the unclubbable. Some of these experiments have met with a certain amount of success. I would refer your Lordships, in particular, to a most interesting Pelican book, entitled The Unattached, by Mary Morse, which is a report of an experiment made under the aegis of the National Association of Youth Clubs into this very problem. It is a fascinating account of how youth workers attempted to get in touch with young people who would not otherwise have come in contact with the Youth Service and who in fact despised any youth club that might exist in their area, But these are still limited experiments; and while it is useful that they should go on, it is still true that the Youth Service, admirable and necessary as its work is, still touches only one-third of our young people.

The schools, on the other hand, do not suffer from this disadvantage, as they cover the whole range of children. It is, therefore, to my mind most important that we should do what we can in the schools towards increasing social responsibility among young people—and the noble Lord has already made this point. This is something on which we could well concentrate our activities. The Newsom Report certainly recognised the schools' responsibilities in this respect, and recommended that: The school programme in the last year especially ought to be deliberately outgoing". I am sure that this is wise guidance, and I know that it has been put into effect in many schools. I hope that even more emphasis will be placed upon it, and that this hopeful way of tackling the problem may be expanded.

The Newsom Report drew particular attention to the use of television programmes for schools. This also seems to me to be of immense value. The Report pointed out that television has the prestige of a medium that belongs to the outside world, with which everybody is familiar as a form of entertainment; that in a school it can bring a fresh air of outside interest, and can bring into the school, into direct contact with the young people in the classroom, men and women of outstanding achievement from outside. If television is to do such a job, it is necessary, first, that the schools should be equipped with television receivers, and, secondly, that the television broadcasting authorities should pay due regard to this aspect of the work. I think there is a certain amount of evidence that they are going to do this.

There is a recent publication by Mr. John Scupham, the B.B.C. Controller of Educational Broadcasting, in which he refers to the use of television in schools as a lesson in social awareness which would give young people in schools an appreciation of the importance of the other man's job and the interdependence of all those who contribute to the running of our complex modern community. He also goes on to recognise that this is one of the most challenging and difficult of all the tasks that the Newsom Report has set before the television services. In the commercial television field, I think it is encouraging that Granada are planning a series in the near future on human relations for adolescents. What can be done by television can also be done, perhaps to a slightly less effective degree, but certainly usefully, by sound broadcasting and by films.

It seems to me that this type of social education is needed most in those schools which are situated in difficult areas: areas of social, physical or occupational environment that is not particularly good. An interesting report by the Department of Education and Science (No. 17, of December, 1964) was written on Education Under Social Handicap, and pointed out the very grave difficulties under which these schools operated. I think children from bad homes tend to sink firmly to the bottom 20 per cent. of the school whatever their latent potential, and the growing stress on the G.C.E. as the touchstone of success in comprehensive and secondary modern schools sets these rejected 20 per cent. even more sharply apart from their comrades.

This is primarily a social problem, rather than an educational one. But it obviously lays a great deal of responsibility on the teacher, and unfortunately it is in these schools in bad areas where the teaching situation is most serious. There is a very large turnover of teachers in these schools, and just where most is required of them they are most transitory, and it is difficult for them to cope. 1 would suggest that the recommendation made at the end of this Report is well worth while considering, and certainly worth while experimenting with. This is the recommendation that social workers should be appointed to these schools to assist the teachers. I hope that full consideration can be given to this recommendation and certainly it could be tried out.

I mentioned earlier on some of the experiments being made by various youth organisations in reaching out to boys and girls who would not normally be found in youth clubs. I apologise for making use of one particular organisation as an example, but I would refer to the Y.M.C.A., as it happens to be the organisation which I know best. So I hope I shall not be causing any offence to other organisations, which I know are conducting equally useful experiments. There is one to which I would specially refer, which was recorded in the Daily Telegraph—an experiment by a Y.M.C.A. leader, Mr. George Reynolds, who runs a club in Woolwich, one of the toughest areas of London's dockland. He set out to form street gangs into what he called nomadic youth clubs. His original idea was to find an adult leader for each gang, but unfortunately he was very soon disappointed in this because not only was it difficult to find people who would be willing to give the time, but those who did were not suitable or were not acceptable to the particular gang. So in the end Mr. Reynolds had to do the whole job himself.

However, he met with a certain amount of success. He contacted the gangs through cinema managers, dance halls and coffee bars, and ultimately formed sixteen clubs from these gangs, nine of them consisting of boys under the age of 14. All of them paid half-a-crown entrance fee and carried a membership card with the name of his street gang. Some successful results were obtained from this experiment. But the point I am really trying to make is that the most significant result was that it was the boys under 14 who were most enthusiastic. Some of them, of course, got hold of the wrong idea to start with, and thought it was just an idea which would enable them to fight other gangs. But on the whole the situation soon improved, and these boys were found doing social jobs and helping other people.

The senior clubs were a much more difficult proposition. They tended to consider themselves too old to form these clubs, and although a certain amount of success was achieved, by far the most co-operation was received from the boys between the ages of 11 and 14. A similar thought was going through our minds in the Y.M.C.A. in the Youth Work Committee, that we should try to form groups or clubs for those under 14, and we have started, based mainly on schools, schoolboy Y.M.C.A. groups whose members are aged between 11 and 15, and our initial experiments have been quite successful.

The point I am trying to make is this. I wonder whether we should not be wise to start our Youth Service at the age of 11 rather than at the age of 14. The Albemarle Report dealt with young people aged 14 to 20, and Government grants are available to organisations providing facilities for those age ranges. I wonder whether at at early date we could not extend the lower age limit and start our youth work at the age of 11. It has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Roberts of Oakridge, that boys and girls grow up more quickly than they did. That is true, and perhaps we should take that into account. There would be other advantages in starting at that age. In the first place, these children are at school and it is therefore much more easy to contact them. The teachers in the schools know which of their pupils are the most difficult, and which could most benefit from some form of youth club or youth work. Secondly, while they are still relatively young, they are more amenable and perhaps more ready to co-operate. I am not suggesting that we should in any way slacken off our efforts for the 14 to 20 age group, but I wonder whether we might not achieve greater success with that age group if we started our work at the age of 11.

In support of what I am saying, may I quote one paragraph from the book I was quoting earlier, The Unattached? It reads: It seems futile to assume that children who have run wild for so long can become suddenly, miraculously transformed and led into worthwhile activity at the age of 14. To sum up, I believe that the best way of achieving the objects which are set out in this Motion are by intensifying our ciforts through the home, the Youth Service and the school. And I think we should consider very carefully whether we would not be wise to begin with this education in social responsibility at the age of 11 rather than the present age of 14.

3.58 p.m.


My Lords, I am very glad that the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, has raised this important subject which he himself has described as a great national problem. I am not making my maiden speech, as I spoke in a brief debate a few weeks ago, but as one who is very much a newcomer to your Lordships' House I hope it will not sound presumptuous on my part to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, for the very thoughtful and moderate way in which he has introduced this debate.

I must say quite frankly that when I first read the words of the Motion I wondered what some of the young people to whom it referred would think of it. Then it occurred to me that probably most of us here are regarded as "squares", and that the wording of a Motion in your Lordships' House would not make all that difference to the impression which they have of us. In any case, it is, of course, the spirit and intention behind the Motion that really matters, and the noble Lord presented it, I think, very fairly. On the whole, I am rather more optimistic than he sounded to be. I think the key words in this Motion are "giving … greater opportunities", and I should like to refer to that and discuss it with special reference to the voluntary social services.

First of all, I agree with the noble Lord that the aims cannot be achieved by compulsion. In time of war and threatened war there is a strong case for compulsory military service. In peace time the value of compulsory military service is much more doubtful. To some it provides a valuable experience; for others it is just a frustrating interruption to a career; and for yet others it seems to be just a period of organised bore- dom. But, whatever the merits of military service, there is very little to be said for a period of compulsory social service. For this is essentially a voluntary activity. So the problem is how to encourage it and expand it and provide opportunities.

There is no simple answer. In the field of education we have certainly made advances in advising our young people on their careers. We have not done so much as we should do in advising them on leisure and on the opportunities for devoting some part of their time to service to the community, although I must say there are some splendid examples of schools working very well in this field. Then there is the Youth Service, to which already several references have been made. No one can have read the Albemarle Report, published a few years ago, without regretting our failure to do all that should have been done, the tendency to treat the Youth Service as the poor relation of our social services. Certainly progress has been made since the publication of that Report—I welcome the grants that have been made for buildings and facilities—but there is still a very great need for more youth leaders. In so far as money helps to provide them, the money is well spent. I would place great stress on personal contact and the influence of the individual. I believe that counts more than anything else.

If I may mention my own experience, in my very early twenties I worked in a settlement in the slums of Leeds. It was a most tough area; they really were slums. It was the kind of district where the police patrolled only in pairs because it was too tough to go singly. I am not going to discuss what I did then. I was there about a couple of years. But I was asking myself why I did it, and I think the reason was that one man a little older than myself really interested in this kind of service, interested in me, said to me, "Come along and lend a hand". I did, and everything else followed from that one individual approach. So although there is this great need for youth leaders, I am not pessimistic. There are several reasons for being optimistic about the willingness of youth to respond and about the opportunities for service. For example, the nature of voluntary service has changed during the last fifty years. In days gone by it was more a case of charity, financial aid. Now the relief of poverty is met largely by the State. But there is a growing demand for personal service, and I think young people are much more able to provide personal service than financial aid.

Secondly, there is the almost limitless opportunity for helping old people. I know, and noble Lords may know, that there are old people who will welcome help from the young whereas they are too proud to accept it from adults. Thirdly, to-day there is a very noticeable upsurge of enthusiasm for performing some kind of voluntary service among young people, often outside and supplemental to the traditional voluntary youth organisations. It is very important that this enthusiasm should not be killed by adult caution. The more young people we can have keen about this, and acting on their own responsibility and their own initiative, the better. It is very difficult to give examples, because if one mentions one organisation one feels that some others should not be left unmentioned. But perhaps coming from Yorkshire I might mention one from my own county. In Barnsley, members of the Y.M.C.A. got together on their own initiative and formed a tape recording club, as they call it, to provide broadcasts to hospitals; they are now serving more than 1,000 patients in five hospitals, and this service is very much appreciated. As I say, it was done on their own initiative.

I will mention another example of the spontaneous coming together of young people, in London. This is a body known as Task Force, which was inspired by one young man who is extremely enthusiastic and has been carrying on this work for about five years, but last year it was felt desirable to give it legal status. This followed a meeting at the Palace of Westminster—and the noble Earl, Lord Longford, will recollect the occasion. I am referring to it because I am a member of the board of management, the board being concerned with only financial responsibility and general oversight of policy. It is the young people themselves who run this concern. The object is not to duplicate effort, but to "enthuse" other young people and put them in touch with jobs needing to be done. It works very well.

These "enthusers" work through schools and youth clubs and individuals, some of them "unattached", as they are called; some former gangs of "Mods" and "Rockers". They try to co-operate with the statutory bodies and local authorities and voluntary bodies. The success lies wholly in the fact that they are working together as young people and organising themselves. Since October last—and this is only in part of London—the membership has risen from 1,000 to 3,500 young people. They work mainly for old people, and this involves genuine befriending, with maintained visiting, not just one visit and forgetting about them.

May I give a few simple examples?—it is easier to show what is done by example. There is the problem of floor covering. There may be an old person who is desperately in need of some new floor covering. The public health visitor will advise that this person needs some lino. 1f the case comes under the National Assistance Board they will provide the cost of the lino, but they have no power to pay for putting it down. The lino will be delivered, and is there at the premises (and one knows of several cases like this), where it may be left in the corner, rolled up, for three months. And then these young people rally round and put down the lino.

Then there was the old lady who was provided with a wheel chair from the Red Cross but had no one to push her out. It turned out that she had previously had a wheel-chair provided, but could not make any use of it, so that eventually it was taken away. Now, two girls have been pushing her out regularly since October and taking her out to tea. There is the case of the old person with no bath—and, alas! there are many such cases. There was no transport to take her to the public baths, so the young people came along and provided transport. She would accept help of that kind from young people but would have been reluctant to accept it from an adult.

There is the problem of week-end visiting. The local authorities cannot provide the staff for week-end visiting; and this is very important, because there is great loneliness at the week-end among old people. Some may die during the week-end, and no one will know anything about it. There was a case of an old lady brought back home from hospital on a Friday. She was not well enough to provide her own meals, but there are no "meals on wheels" at the week-end, and there was no one to call till the Monday. So the young people rallied round and helped with the meals. The work they do includes window cleaning, shopping and decorating. I am speaking from my own experience here. On Monday this week I was looking at some decorating that had been done for old people suffering from arthritis by boys and girls of fourteen and fifteen. I am not an expert, but it seemed to me that they had done it extremely well.

Unfortunately, there is some resistance from adults and from some local authorities. I have here a letter (I do not propose to read it) from the town clerk of a London borough, in which he said, in effect, that he was sorry but he did not want this offer of help; that they could manage quite well without it. I think that such an attitude is unfortunate. This spontaneous desire to help should be encouraged, even at the occasional risk of people being left out. There are almost limitless opportunities for helping old people. The statutory authorities and local bodies cannot cope with everything. According to the Government Actuary, by 1973 those who have retired—men over 65, and women over 60—will number over nine million. So I believe that this problem of the elderly will grow rather than decrease.

In conclusion, my Lords, may I make two general comments—the first on coordination? There are, of course, a great variety of bodies doing good work. There is Voluntary Service Overseas, in which several bodies are concerned. There are well-known organisations like the Scouts and the Guides. There are the physical and character training enterprises, like the Outward Bound schools and the Duke of Edinburgh's Award; and there are all kinds of social service activities, some of which are not so well known. There is a problem of coordination of information. The Secretary of the Standing Conference of National Voluntary Youth Organisations wrote to me the other day and said this: The will to give service clearly exists to a degree that is not at present fully exploited, and the jobs that can be done are countless, but the bringing together of the potential givers and receivers of service is handicapped by lack of knowledge and communications. I think that that is true; and it would be helpful if some kind of information centre could be set up, perhaps in London and in other cities. I should have thought that this could well be provided by a body like the Council of Social Service. I certainly would not advocate setting up some new vast body to co-ordinate all the other bodies, some of which are already co-ordinating other bodies. Heaven forbid that that should happen! It is better to have a bit of overlapping.

Then there is the subject of publicity. It is not a good idea to overdo the publicity about the work of these young people. Service is like charity. … when thou dost thine alms do not sound a trumpet before thee". I think those words from the Gospel are appropriate to social service as well as to charity, and it is better for those giving and for those receiving that it should be done unobtrusively. Certainly we should try to avoid the limelight. We must not regard these young people as interesting specimens to be examined, and we must avoid being patronising. But there are occasions when we must speak up. This is such an occasion. Somehow, we must correct the false impression that youth cannot be relied upon. We must make it known that there is a great willingness to serve, and that the majority are reliable; that there is great scope for service in the future. I believe that the youth of to-day are as willing and as capable as ever of living up to their responsibilities and accepting the challenge. Given the encouragement and the leadership, and the opportunity, the youth of to-day will not let us down.

4.14 p.m.


My Lords, I am most grateful to your Lordships to-day for allowing me to address you when I have been for so short a time a Member of your Lordships' House. Being a cautious man, it had not been my intention to address your Lordships until I had fully assimilated the customs and traditions of your Lordships' House. However, I rise to-day, with some trepidation, and I ask you to forgive me should I make too many blunders.

The young have always had this problem of adjusting from childhood and onwards. In the past, they have been helped by a stable and often strict home life. Subsequently, National Service helped them. They were subjected to two years of intensive discipline and taken away from their homes, often for the first time. This was a good idea, for one was away from parental influence; and there is no doubt that over the past twenty years there has been a great lessening of discipline in the home. I am not suggesting that we should return to National Service, because I feel that that would not be in the national interest and would be a retrograde step. But I feel that between the ages of 12 and 20 young people must be subject to some form of discipline; for in what other way will they be able to develop their self-discipline, except by having the example of discipline forced upon them? When they reach adolescence to-day, young people have a choice before them: either self-discipline or self-indulgence. With self-discipline they have a platform upon which they can build their whole future life. Self-indulgence can lead only to boredom, and to all the social evils which that involves.

The young to-day have a great interest in what goes on around them and in how the world ticks. Equally, they realise that we regard them as children. They want a social position; but we tend to ignore them and not to give them a social position. In response, they ignore us; and slowly we are finding that two separate societies are tending to build up—with us on the one hand, and them on the other; and the gulf is widening fast as a result of mutual suspicion and mutual mistrust.

Ten years ago young people were forced by National Service into a socially responsible position. They realised that they were helping the community, and that in so doing they were given a position in social life. To-day, the youngsters still want that position in social life; and I believe that they must, and will, have it. But they need help, and they need help given in the right way—namely, with patience, understanding and sincerity. Young people are most perceptive, and they are quick to suspect somebody who is insincere or patronising. They must have the means to develop their self-discipline, their self-reliance and their self-confidence. This must be done either by example at home, where most influence lies, or at school, or by the youth organi- sations to which they may belong. This could also be achieved, I think, if the recommendations of the Albemarle Committee were fully implemented. Voluntary youth organisations to-day certainly have ideas, and I believe that they have many of the answers to help the youth of to-day to find themselves. Indeed, I know that the Boy Scouts and the Girl Guides are actively looking into the 'seventies, so far as their ideas are concerned.

I should like to go on to the other point made by the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, about the mass media of television, radio and newsreels. I believe they can help by showing parents what their responsibilities are to their children. They can help, too, by actively recruiting leaders for the youth organisations—because our youth organisations can gain their strength only by having leaders of the right calibre. They could also show what good is being done by young people. There are many young people to-day who are pulling their weight and who are being useful members of the community. I know that this does not quite fall in with other people's views. but it is certainly my view.

These mass media often sensationalise the occasional falls from grace of a few members of this great community of young people, but if they were to show the good side of the young people it would, I feel, be of great assistance. For young people are very avid for the publicity which is given to their age group. If it is good publicity they will take to it and will associate themselves with it. If it is bad publicity they will still do the same, but it can do incalculable harm. I am sure that these are some of the answers to our problems to-day; that is to say, discipline coupled with infinite love, on the one hand, and decent and good publicity, on the other.

One example of discipline which springs most readily to my mind takes place in the home of a very close friend of mine in Nottingham. He has taken part in what I believe has been a most successful experiment. Young people who have been remanded in custody, instead of being sent to a remand home, as is normally the case, for three weeks, are sent to a private home. To date, over seventy children have been dealt with in this way. Their home life was in many instances questionable, and often non-existent. It was wonderful to see the change which came over them in that three weeks. They arrived sullen, suspicious and morose, and at the end of the three weeks they were vivacious, full of life—in fact just normal children again. It was obvious that their whole outlook on life had been entirely changed. This was done first with firm discipline, but also with infinite love and understanding.

In my own experience I have found that the same rules apply just as much to older children. Subconsciously they want, and ask us to give them, our confidence, our understanding, our guidance, and, above all, an all-enveloping cloak of discipline. I am sure that if we would give them this they would come more than halfway to meet us, because they want a position in our society; they want to be called adults, or young adults, or something of that type. But, first, we must strike into the heart of the matter; and this is to be found in the home. Young children can have influences brought to bear on them either at school or in the youth organisation, but the greatest influence of all can be brought to bear in the home. If, by some means, we can persuade parents to help them there, then we shall have done a great deal of good.

4.22 p.m.


My Lords, I feel honoured to be in a position to be able to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Baden-Powell, on his maiden speech. He bears a name that is associated with a genius for understanding and inspiring the young and helping them to grow up responsibly. The noble Lord who now bears the title clearly shows his family tradition, and has shown us by his speech that he has both a concern for, and is in sympathy with, the younger generation. It is a happy circumstance that he should have made his maiden speech on such a subject, and we have enjoyed the thoughtful and sincere contribution which he has made to this debate.

I was interested to see the wording of Lord Robertson of Oakridge's Motion. We are considering how we can give young people of this nation greater opportunities of becoming aware of their responsibilities. That presupposes that our society does not provide such opportunities as a matter of course—that the opportunities will not occur or will not be demanded unless we give them, unless we create them deliberately. The more one thinks of that presupposition the more profoundly one finds it to be true.

What has happened, then, to our society that we have to create, artificially, a sense of responsibility? In some respects, at least, the need to create it appears to be something new. One reason for this is that until quite recently responsibility has been exacted or claimed from each generation of young people by certain conditions which have long existed and which have since changed. There has been a change, for instance, in military requirements, which in the past affected a substantial but varying proportion of young men. This now calls for a different sort of young man, the man with technological training, as compared with those who were drafted or required in the past, and fewer of them.

There has been a change, too, in the economic pressure towards responsibility, which affects young people generally. Until quite recent times boys and girls had to work long hours and hard to keep the family from poverty. Now poverty, or even the threat of it, has largely been removed. We live in relative affluence, an affluence so newly come by that we have not yet fully learned its conditions or the requirements necessary for its continuance. Temporarily, at least, it looks as if the economic compulsion towards responsibility has been relaxed. Thrift makes little appeal in an inflationary economy. Propaganda for national savings has to compete with the glamour of commercial advertising encouraging us to spend. Why postpone the satisfactions of success until they have been earned, when they can be enjoyed now on the "Never-never" system? And if we cannot, or will not, work, there is the strong net of welfare services to cushion our fall.

No one of us would say that the double revolution, the reduction of poverty on the one hand and the creation of welfare services on the other, is bad. On the contrary, these represent a great and welcome social advance. But they have brought in their train the ambiguous consequence that young people can, and do, earn a lot of money without any pressure to learn responsibility for it. Most of the effective pressures work just the other way: "Spend now and don't worry about the future!" Apart altogether from the lack of responsibility that this inevitably induces in the young, it can easily result in a society which itself is lacking in adequate care and foresight for its own future.

As regards the third sort of pressure which, through changes, has been in large measure relaxed, that of custom and tradition, this perhaps is the most important in its relationship to attitudes of responsibility. Up to the beginning of the century, and in some sections of society later than this, what has been called "the old morality" was widely recognised and accepted—a morality expressed in custom, sanctioned by religion and supported or enforced by law. Nowadays it has nothing like the same influence as it once had. We have, in the first place, become a much more mobile society. People no longer live in relatively small groups in small communities. If your behaviour is not subject to the eye and tongue of your neighbour, the influence of convention is likely to be rather less.

But the code itself has been brought into question. Rapid and universal education has accelerated the age-old process by which one generation questions the ideas of the generation before. In our time every circumstance has conspired to give an edge to the attack and to weaken the defence. There has been so much new knowledge to absorb and to disseminate, and we have disseminated it so rapidly, that as a society we find it hard to see it as a whole. We certainly do not seem to be able to see it as a moral whole. Much in our new knowledge has discredited some aspects of the old tradition, and rightly so, but—and this is a very different matter—it has also led to the notion that most, or all, of the old tradition in itself is discredited as well. So, in an age when authoritarianism has been suspect, when everything has been open to challenge, the moral tradition, too, has been powerfully challenged by influences drawn from new knowledge. And some of the heaviest attacks have fallen on the very notion of responsibility itself.

Here, my Lords, I must guard myself in advance against misunderstanding. I realise that what I want to say would appear as coming very near to a familiar slur upon a department of knowledge and upon a profession for which I have a profound respect, and I can embark upon this perilous piece of navigation only because I know that your Lordships will be prepared to discriminate between what I do say and what I might have been thought to have said. In what follows I am not repeating the all too familiar, and, in my judgment, misplaced, attack upon psychology. Here is a science which has made spectacular progress in our day. The psychological sciences have advanced, with great effect upon our ways of thinking. They have provided some salutary questioning into the neat patterns of philosophical and theological thought, and this is all to the good.

There is a legitimate interest in exploring the workings of the human mind; there is a humane application of the knowledge so gained in the reduction of human misery and human sickness, and in the promotion of human happiness and human understanding. For what I say now, therefore, I am not wishing to attribute blame to that science or to practitioners of it, or to so many psychiatrists who are doing work for which we have every cause to be very grateful. Nevertheless, it has to be said that from some misunderstanding of those sciences and some misuse of their vocabulary a powerful assault has been made upon the notion of responsibility. In the social and economic context to which I have alluded this assault has had some damaging success.

Why has this happened? Mistakes are made, of course, in the infancy of every new branch of learning, and in its adolescence there is the recognised characteristic of over-assertiveness to cover insecurity. Psychological and social sciences have passed through their period of infancy and adolescence. They were passing through them, furthermore, when the newspaper industry was in the heyday of its expansion, enlarging its circulation to a newly-literate population, and this has almost inevitably led to a good deal of over-simplification and distortion. Those early psychiatrists, for instance, who first pleaded the split mind and diminished responsibility as a defence in murder trials, were on occasion caricatured in the papers, and their science with them. Exaggeration followed until the idea began to get round that no one is really responsible for what he does.

Next, the very language employed by psychologists and psychiatrists, and by the earliest social workers who were trained in these disciplines, lends itself readily to misinterpretation. The older language of medicine and surgery created a technical vocabulary on Greek and Latin models, to serve precise medical purposes. It is wise for a science to do this, however impatient the lay public may be with it. Unfortunately, the new psychological sciences were content to re-use the old words, which already had established meanings and powerful emotional associations wrapped around them. The word "guilt", for instance, was already so charged with meaning and emotion that it would have been wiser for the psycho-analysts to invent a new word to express the new awareness which they had, rather than to try to graft new meaning on this old, overloaded word. They did not do so, and the way in which their own examination of the sense of guilt has been disseminated has resulted in much fruitless controversy and untold popular misunderstanding. The words "accepting" and "permissive" in the social worker's vocabulary are another case in point.

The therapist accepts the client or patient as he is, and permits him to be himself, to say what he will, and all in the interest of the therapeutic process. But this has all too readily been misunderstood to imply an attitude of moral neutrality in the therapist to all behaviour and evaluation as such. This, in turn, comes to be interpreted in the popular mind as giving scientific authority to an undermining of the validity of any notion of right or wrong as applied to human conduct. So from the popularisation, or perhaps sometimes the correct word would be "vulgarisation", of the psychological sciences, and not from the sciences themselves, notions have spread abroad which undermine the concept of human responsibility and suggest that there is no real distinction between right and wrong, that we need not and must not ever feel guilty, that guilt is bad for us and that, anyway, we cannot help what we are and what we do, for we are not responsible.

My Lords, we may ourselves repudiate these notions, but we must not be blind to the fact that they have gained some currency—in part because of a misunderstanding of the context in which psychologists refer to these matters, and in part because there is so much in our present way of living to encourage them. With little inherent encouragement to a sense of responsibility, there is the more need for the greater opportunities of which the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, speaks, and for the practical schemes and suggestions which in this debate and elsewhere are advanced for our acceptance and support. Many of these have been initiated or supported by the Albemarle Report—and what a boon that Report has been! Many have been undertaken by youth organisations, which are adapting their methods to changing conditions, and many others—such as the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, schemes of voluntary service at home and overseas, and the kind of rescue training and service which is so superbly exercised at the Atlantic College—the international Sixth Form School at St. Donat's Castle—these and other such schemes are releasing the desire and capacity of the young to be of use and to be responsible.

But since my own contribution to this debate has been mostly in terms of ideas, elementary and over-simplified as they are, it is in terms of ideas that I would offer my own suggestion. I hope, my Lords, that, despite so many speakers to follow, you will bear with me for a moment or two longer while I try to put this. It is ideas which in the end prevail, and I believe that we are beginning now to move into a new position in which there is a greater consciousness of our own adult responsibility for the inadequate and confused pattern of ideas through which we have been leaving young people to find their own way. Details of the moral debate are, of course, in perennial dispute; it is in too many people's interest to keep the debate on sexual morality alive for this to be allowed the period of quiescence which is its due. There is emerging far more positive agreement than the propagandists and exhibitionists would have us realise in formulising a recognised code or tradition of what is to be expected from the members of society—the establishment of a norm of human aims and behaviour and the conventions associated with it.

I should like to refer to three or four instances of this convergence—small books or articles, all of them, but valuable and significant in this constructive trend. There is, first, The Permissive Morality, by C. H. and W. M. Whiteley, two Birmingham philosophers who discuss the complex of ideas in which such a wdespread permissiveness has evolved; there is a short book by J. H. Jacques from the Christian standpoint on The Right and The Wrong; there are the recent broadcast talks by Professor Ronald Hepburn on Religious Humanism; and there is a significant emphasis, for instance, in a leading article in the Economist at the time of Sir Winston Churchill's death interpreting his leadership in terms of moral purpose. What is common to these is a deep concern in the realm of ideas as to what constructively is proper to man as man.

But ideas must have social expression. I believe that our young people will learn responsibility only from a society which itself is responsible: and although one does not need to live long in any community without finding a wealth of personal acts of kindness and a sensitiveness to human need, there are nevertheless obvious indications of a lack of social responsibility in our present society. Take, for instance, the increasing number of people who refuse to come forward as witnesses of an accident, or who take no action when they discover something radically wrong or corrupt in their own community, simply because they do not want to get involved.

The adult community has to bear a considerable measure of blame for failure to engage the human sympathies of the young and to release to good purpose their energy and ability. There is unquestioned truth in the sharp assertion of Mr. Alec Dickson that the town hall would know more readily what to do with 200 teenagers rioting on the esplanade than with 20 teenagers standing at the town hall steps asking for a voluntary job to help people. This matter was referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Wade.

In the book to which the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, referred, The Unattached, by Mary Morse, it is shown how puny is the influence of our best-intentioned social provisions—youth employment officers, youth leaders, social workers and the like—compared with that of the commercial pressures with which these boys and girls are surrounded. Why must it be that so much commercial enterprise so often results in encouragement to irresponsibility? It need not be so—and, indeed, it is not always so. This Report speaks of the value to these unattached boys and girls of well-run commercial coffee bars, fish and chip shops and the like. Many of our great industrial undertakings have a long and honourable tradition of social concern, and this ought to be extended, given a new direction to-day, bringing it into the forefront of those sectors of commercial enterprise which make contact with young people.

I am not suggesting paternalism or a patronising extension of commercial concern: what I do submit is that a sense of responsibility is caught, and if those sectors of young people over which so much concern is expressed are to catch this sense of responsibility, they must encounter it and must recognise it where their interests are, where they resort, where they feel at ease and, perhaps most important of all, where they work.

The contact that they make with older people in their work can perhaps be of the greatest influence of all, aside from their own homes. To do a job to the best of one's ability gives a sense of achievement, and to hold one's place alongside older men and women in a factory or a shop which was not designed just for young people, as is the case of a youth club, is one of the most natural ways of growing up, of acquiring a sense of responsibility and of coming to maturity. Those who help young people to understand what working well means are doing a very great deal for them. How often, too, responsibility is learned simply by being given it. It is often the case that the best way to cope with the rebel or the troublemaker is to put him in charge; and this is a means of enlisting responsible behaviour which might be more frequently employed.

My Lords, I warmly support the terms in which this Motion has been presented. It is a relevant Motion at a time when the concept of responsibility has been undermined and when changes in the last half century—social, economic and conceptual—have taken place, some of them beneficial but removing many of the sanctions by which responsibility has been supported. We still have to replace these and provide the opportunities by something consonant with our present social and economic organisation, in such a way that the younger generation may come to see that life holds together, that it has meaning, and that the precepts of religion, the theories and avowed purpose of education and a true experience of the world and humanity not only make sense but invite an honest response. As and when this opportunity is afforded one may have sufficient faith in redeemed human nature to believe that there will be a response.

4.47 p.m.


My Lords, we have just had two extraordinarily good speeches, and, in rising to make a short speech myself. I feel quite incapable of equalling them in any way. But, first of all, I wish to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Baden-Powell, on his maiden speech. The right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Norwich said with true Norfolk sincerity how much he welcomed that particular speech. The noble Lord bears a name which will be honoured both in military history and in history generally throughout the ages. We remember his father, who sat in this House; and some of us are old enough to remember his grandfather and what happened in the Boer War. For the reason of the past record of his family, we are glad to see the noble Lord here, and we can assure him that this is a very friendly place and that he will find a friendly welcome here.

The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, referred to the long list of speakers, and it is obvious from this particular list that the problems of the youth of this generation and the ways and means of solving them are much in our own minds. Whether these problems are greater or less than those which faced us in years gone by can no doubt be argued both ways from our own youthful experiences. The circumstances and conditions of present-day life, with our increasing population and changing world activities, seem to create perplexities which were unheard of and unfelt in the decades of the past. Our aim now should be to impress upon our boys and girls that they should be growing up to be useful citizens of no mean country; and we should also try to foster within them a spirit of pride in that they have been born into a community which seeks to be respected by all men of good will throughout the entire world. Whether or not we can bring this impression to life and reality remains to be seen.

As our youth grow in years—and in turn, I hope, seek to do good and eschew evil—there seems to be a distinct category of youth of both sexes to-day a few of who are irresponsible and tiresome; but the majority have much that is pleasing and wholesome in their make-up. The future will bring a heavy responsibility to all the youth of to-day—and I stress the word "all". There cannot be any exceptions; they cannot dodge the issue of national survival. I want to speak of those who I think are starting on the right lines. They can well become the foundations on which the welfare of this nation will rest. The noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, referred to the wood and the trees. Well, the young people to whom I am referring are, in my view, the oaks in the wood.

My Lords, I have spoken before with knowledge of those at school who by their participation in athletics and organised games are keeping themselves physically fit and thus healthy in mind and body. I do not think it unbecoming in this connection for me to plead once again that these boys and girls should receive every possible encouragement from those in authority. I am afraid that in the past well-directed encouragement has been absent; perhaps the advent of the Sports Council will remedy this. So far, for the most part, reliance has had to be placed on the voluntary effort of devoted teachers, of both sexes, mainly during out-of-school hours. I pay my tribute to them; they have been sowing the seeds for a ripening harvest of very great national importance to us.

In July, the All-England Schools Athletic Championships will be held at Watford. That event, covering two days, will be sponsored in large measure by a private firm of good will and national repute. This sponsorship by different firms has happened, I believe, year by year, and the championships could not otherwise be held with such significant success and importance. I hope the Government will take note of this point. Gathered together at Watford will be approximately 1,700 boy and girl athletes from every county in England, and they will be competing for individual and county team honours. The girls will be as keen and efficient as the boys and both will have put in months of training beforehand. This annual event is so important in our national life that the Duke of Edinburgh has attended it on two occasions, the first at Plymouth and the second, last year, at Hendon. The noble Duke who is sitting on the Front Bench opposite also has knowledge of these particular championship sports. The athletes who will be chosen to represent their counties are the salt of the earth so far as the youth of this country are concerned; and from them will spring future Olympic champions and national leaders. The All-England Schools' Sports Association shoulders the responsibility not only of running athletic events but other such amateur sports as football, hockey, cricket, rugby and gymnastics at the international level.

I have said that Government recognition has been parsimonious or lacking, but the appointment of the Sports Council is welcome and may stimulate knowledge and help. I hope so, at least. I am sorry that one omission seems to have been made in the composition of that Council. There does not appear to be any member having a direct connection with the carrying-on of sports in the schools. If the Minister for Sport feels as I do, that this omission should be rectified, then if it is not too late to do this, I should be pleased to recommend to him a member whose knowledge and experience would be of inestimable benefit to the Council. The Minister has said that the Government expect that all bodies who have responsibilities for sport and physical recreation and receive grant-aid from official sources will collaborate with the Council. Collaboration is a two-way business and the needs of those associations catering solely for youth should not be overlooked. I welcome the appointment to the Council of one of the members of this House, Lady Burton of Coventry, and also of Mr. Walter Winterbottom. Both are excellent and acceptable appointments.

In a fortnight's time the Schools Crosscountry Championships will be held at Colchester, and in the three races, according to age, there will be no fewer than 800 competitors. Cross-country running is no easy matter; and it says much for those competitors who fit themselves to compete and who are determined, as their county representatives, to stay the course. My own county of Norfolk has held a series of crosscountry trials and as many as 600 boys have turned out in one afternoon, in freezing cold and with East and North winds blowing. I commend the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Norwich for himself turning out on one occasion and starting one of the races, because it was a very cold and bleak afternoon.

I have spoken of one particular aspect of the beneficial and worthwhile activities of youth to enable them to realise their responsibilities as an integrated part of the community. I now want to turn to other matters of progress. In the Eastern region covered by the Central Council for Physical Recreation, the Council, with town councils, education departments and adult sports clubs, have joined together to set up local sports councils in more than fifty towns. Nearly every town in East Anglia now offers a public sports coach and centres for tennis, swimming, athletics, judo, badminton, golf and many other such activities. The adult clubs are co-operating by having junior sections, and young people are flooding into the clubs from the introductory or coaching centres. This is good. I expect it is duplicated in other regions of the country. Attention is being given to the needs of rural areas and the Forestry Commission has helped to guide thousands of young people in their expeditions through the forested areas of Breckland. Sailing clubs and boating firms on the Broads have assisted the Central Council to introduce many more people to sailing and canoeing. Over four hundred of the secondary schools and colleges have a regular information service from the Central Council to help school-leavers to link up with the world of sport.

Special courses are provided at various centres and events arising from the attendance at these courses must enhance the social awareness of young people seeking a basis in an East Anglian society which thinks well of them. There is a great need for a regional residential training centre for youth and adults to improve the regional panels and instructors, coaches and officials. I have spoken of what I know. I may have stressed the needs and virtues of one section—and I like to think the better section—of our youth, but I want the Government to realise their presence in our midst and to make it possible not only to sustain but to augment the value of youth on whom the future of our country depends.

Finally, if the young men and women seeking to serve us and to be proficient in the arts, and suchlike, are to be encouraged financially, and centres are to be constructed to provide for them, should not our young boy and girl athletes be similarly encouraged? In their spheres, they are just as important to our way of life. This is a simple truth and—I repeat the words of the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge—I do not want us to fail in our generation.


My Lords, before the noble Lord concludes his extremely interesting speech, may I ask him whether this point is in his mind? He referred to what he regarded as the absence from the Sports Council of any members specifically connected with education, but Mr. John Disley, the international athlete, is a member of the education sub-committee and Mr. Stuart Macintosh, the director of education in Glasgow, is another.


I know that they are members of the Council, but I was thinking of active members of the schools sports associations. I do not think that these gentleman have a full connection with what I have in mind.

5.3 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to start by expressing my share of the gratitude we all feel to the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, for raising this matter. And who is better qualified than the noble Lord, with his outstanding record of service to his country and the continuing interest he has shown in the service of young people? I would express straight away my agree- ment with the constructive sense of urgency that he showed and say how much I liked the quotation with which he ended his excellent speech.

I should like to apologise to the noble Earl, Lord Longford, if I am not in my seat when he comes to wind up. I find myself in an appalling dilemma—a choice between showing discourtesy to the noble Earl himself or of showing discourtesy to his very distinguished wife. I came to the conclusion that the second alternative would be unthinkable.


My Lords, may I assure the noble Viscount that he has paid me a great compliment in even wondering how to solve that dilemma? Most people find it remarkably simple.


I would next, if I may, say how much I enjoyed, like other noble Lords, the immensely impressive speech of the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Norwich. I am afraid that after that speech anything I say will sound humdrum and superficial. I must advise your Lordships anyway to take anything I say on this subject with a pinch of salt, because, although at one time I was fairly active in several youth movements, for some years now I have been, as it were, put out to grass. I have entered that period of life, which some of your Lordships may know, which can be called "the presidential era", when one is translated from active work either to posts of great honour, in which it is believed that one will be incapable of impeding progress, or to serving on certain committees that are safely embedded very far away from the front line.

I believe that adults owe young people three things, and only three things: opportunity, encouragement and example. The rest is up to them. I believe that personal example is still the most potent of all human influences. If we are critical sometimes of the conduct of some young people, I think we should pause to consider whether we are not in fact criticising ourselves as adults, to whom they have the right to look for example. In matters of fashions and attitudes they may not wish to shape their conduct on that of their immediate predecessors. We may be "squares", as one noble Lord has said—"noble squares," I would go on to say—and personally I am well content to be one. But I think sometimes that the guidance we give must seem to young people to be confused and uncertain. I suppose that nature has deliberately made young people rebellious to ensure that they shall leave the family nest. I think it was Mark Twain who once said: When I was 15, I was surprised to find how many things my dad did not know. By the time I was 20, I was amazed to find how much the old boy had learned in five years, I believe that, at the end of the day and all things considered, young people do respect sincerity and honesty of purpose when they can recognise them.

One thing we must remember is that young people to-day are physically about eighteen months more mature than they were forty years ago, and far more sophisticated. Do we always take that fully into account in the activities we provide and the degree of responsibility we place on them? Perhaps as a result of that, I believe that a sense of purpose is more a prerequisite than it ever has been before. Teenagers (it is not a word I am particularly fond of) want to feel that they can see the point of something they are asked to undertake, that it makes sense and that they feel it is worth while. If they do, then that spark of unselfish idealism and generosity, which is latent in almost all young people, can be ignited; and when it is, it can rapidly become a flame. The background against which we have to compete—and it is a paradox, in a way, that it should be so, at a time when there are more alternative occupations and recreations and more money available to enable advantage to be taken of them—is one of restlessness and boredom.

I share the pleasure I am sure all your Lordships felt in listening to the excellent maiden speech of my noble friend Lord Baden-Powell. His father was a respected Member of this House, and one we all regarded with deep affection. His grandfather, whom I had the privilege of knowing when I was a very young man—"B.-P."—founded that great movement which now comprises over 9,000,000 boys, scattered over almost every free country in the world, and, through the co-operation of that wonderful wife "B.-P.'s", Lady Baden-Powell, many millions of Guides, too. "B.-P.", by bringing that unique combination of gifts to his task, succeeded because he used the natural interests and enthusiasms of boys and harnessed them to the task of character building and training in unselfish service for others. "B.-P." was more interested in people than in theories and ideas. So I believe most boys are, too. They will respond best to personal leadership and personal guidance. I found myself entirely in agreement with what the noble Lord, Lord Wade, told us from his personal experience in this respect. If, therefore, we want to interest young people in voluntary service for others, and social responsibilities, the more we can personalise and individualise these things, the better. We shall have more success if we ask young people's help in terms of helping individual people rather than speak in theoretical terms of society at large.

I own that when National Service was in existence after the war I had mixed feelings about it. When National Servicemen were at home in barracks it seemed that they were mainly interested in the week-end leave which would come at the end of the week. But when they were overseas, or on board ship, actively engaged in training, the effects were good. Though no doubt there was some wasted time, and though the Service Chiefs found the system uneconomic, in retrospect I believe that something was gained from the national and the individual standpoint which we are missing now. I have heard university teachers say that those generations, with just that short experience of two years' service, acquired a background as a result of which they were more mature students and that this made up for any interruption in their academic studies. I believe that some young men to-day feel a sort of nostalgic regret, as it were, that they are missing an experience which their older brothers had.

But quite apart from any form of compulsory service, the opportunities for the encouragement of many forms of voluntary service are perfectly feasible and exist to-day. Here is a field in which I believe that greater efforts could be made, with great advantage, to increase the opportunities and stimulate interest with more positive encouragement. Quite a lot is happening to-day in many fairly small-scale operations. I suppose there is no one answer to the problem of juvenile delinquency. Though I have little knowledge in this field, I am learning something, day by day, as a member of a Royal Commission. I feel sure that the answer does not lie in the direction of withholding responsibility from young people, but rather in the opposite direction of increasing the responsibilities laid upon them. One good antidote is the provision of opportunities for robust, adventurous, challenging and, above all, purposeful activities which will stand up to, and exercise a stronger pull than, the temptations of delinquency.

A great deal of work is being done, with great energy, by most of the established youth movements in that field, and I will not refer to that further. As has already been said, it is sad that sometimes more publicity is given to the actions of the delinquent minority than to the perhaps less spectacular achievements of many youngsters who are giving unselfishly of their best. If your Lordships will put up with me for a few minutes longer, I should like to refer to one or two of the operations which are taking place to-day.

One, which I will mention because it is better known to me than some others, is the movement of which the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Norwich was one of the co-founders, Voluntary Service Overseas. Other organisations are working in this field and doing excellent work, too. I can speak only for the V.S.O. A sort of progress report is that there are now over 700 volunteers in the field, and this year the target is to send out well over 1,000. Her Majesty's Government are giving generous financial support, as are many companies, trusts and individual contributors. There are now over 40 local committees of V.S.O. spread throughout the country. The achievements of these young men and girls are such that we have every reason to feel proud of what they are doing. V.S.O. is unique in so far as it is the only movement that gives young people one thing only, and that is the opportunity to give one year of their lives in service. I believe that the success of this movement to-day may have something to do with this. These young people see the point of what they are asked to do, and after examination they come to the conclusion that it is a worthwhile job. I believe that thereby these movements provide what they feel the need of most, which is a sense of a worthwhile purpose to serve.

Other movements applying the same principle are finding opportunities for service at home. There is Community Service Volunteers, started by Mr. Alec Dickson, who, as the right reverend Prelate will remember well, as the originator, with the right reverend Prelate himself, in founding V.S.O. Then there is the movement to which the noble Lord, Lord Wade, referred, The 1964 Task Force, to which I will not refer further, except to say that it seems to me to be a most excellent project. The youth side of the Y.M.C.A. is also at work in many fields, as was mentioned by my noble friend Lord Aberdare. Another good project (I mention it because it is, in a sense, local to us here) is that of the Youth Council of London University, which is stimulating interest among undergraduates in voluntary service in boys' clubs in London, and thereby rendering a valuable service to the clubs. There are also vigorous schemes for training volunteers in life-saving service—patrolling beaches and so on—and in particular that referred to by the right reverend Prelate, run by the Atlantic College.

My Lords, these efforts, where leadership is showing vision and understanding are present, are breaking new ground with, I believe, most encouraging results. It is true that in some cases progress is limited by the difficulties of getting to grips with practical projects. And I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Wade, that some local authorities, and other public authorities, could do more positively to open up projects for voluntary service than they are doing at present. I believe that many of them underrate the capacity of young volunteers to tackle a job and see it through. Some—possibly due to a certain temerity, timidity and doubt—even put obstacles in their way. A warmer and more positive welcome would open up far more projects in hospitals, institutions and private homes than are coming to light at present. If these youngsters could be made to feel that their personal help is really needed, then I believe we should be surprised by the national response there might be.

Napoleon, I think, said that there were no bad troops, only bad officers. I quote from Napoleon quite often, and I apologise for not quoting in French. If I had had a little more time, I could have turned that into French. If one substitutes "youngsters" for "troops" and "adults" for "officers", I wonder how wildly far from the truth that would be? But if that is so, do not tell the youngsters so—it would not do them any good at all. What I mean is that I believe the responsibility lies squarely on our shoulders. If the right lead and the right example is shown, a response will come.

I do not believe that any sincere effort is ever without some effect. We in this generation may be falling down on our responsibilities because our own perplexities, doubts, and hesitancies may be preventing us from giving firm and positive guidance of the sort that adolescents have a right to expect. The Headmaster of Eton the other day gave a most excellent address on that subject to the Royal Commonwealth Society. I think, therefore, that we need to raise our sights, demand more from young people, and show our trust and goodwill in them and our confidence in their abilities—a point made excellently, I think, by my noble friend, Lord Baden-Powell.

If we can find the opportunities for useful jobs of service that they themselves feel are worthwhile, and then, when they perform them, show that we think a little more of them for doing so, I believe we shall see a great extension of this work. A sense of responsibility, born as a result of personal efforts during those vitally important, impressionable years between 15 and 22 or 23, can become a priceless asset. It can form character and shape habits that last a lifetime. And it is in those years somewhere that that spirit of voluntary service must be acquired.

I agree very much with what several noble Lords have said: that the best way to teach responsibility is to give responsibility. It is fashionable to-day to decry the virtues of the rising generation. I am going to quote to your Lordships a few words written by Peter the Monk in the year 1274, and I apologise if I have quoted this to any of your Lordships before. I do not know whether Peter the Monk spoke this in your Lordships' House. I was not able to find it in Hansard, but this is what he is recorded as saying in 1274: The world is passing through troublous times. The young people of to-day think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they alone knew everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them. As far as the girls—they are foolish and immodest and unwomanly in speech, behaviour and dress. I want to make it clear that that was what Peter the Monk said, and not what I have said. So we have been all through it before.

The raw material of to-day is more promising than I believe it has ever been before. The trouble is that it too often remains raw material for lack of inspiration. The noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, directed our thoughts to a problem of vital importance to the future of our country. If our nation will treat it as that, and if we apply our energies to its solution, showing faith in the capacities of our young people and expecting much from them, then I believe a new spirit of voluntary service may be engendered which will greatly strengthen and fortify the spirit of the nation.

5.25 p.m.


My Lords, like the noble Viscount who has just addressed us, I too must ask the noble Earl, Lord Longford, if he will accept my apologies if I am not here at the end of this debate. My reasons for absence are not as attractive or as charming as those of the noble Viscount, but simply that I have to give an address elsewhere. There is an old saying I have heard—it is, I fear, a platitude—that whereas "dog bites man" is not news, "man bites dog" is. It is the unusual happening that makes news, and since only a minority of young people, whether by breaking the law or by disputing generally accepted moral standards, hit the headlines of our nation's newspapers it is reasonable to assume that they still represent, though perhaps by a narrower margin than ten years ago, the unusual.

There is much in the younger generation for which, as the noble Viscount has said, we should indeed be profoundly thankful. If at some point there is cause for grave concern, we should see it in perspective, putting alongside it the many potentialities and achievements of young people to-day. In particular, I would call your Lordships' attention to the steady growth of what might be called service by youth. Reference has already been made to that by the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, when he gave us an example in the area of Woolwich. I find, too, as I go round South London that more and more youth clubs are developing service units. These are designed chiefly to be of use to the aged and infirm. The young people visit the elderly in their homes, redecorate rooms, dig gardens, plant vegetables, do the shopping and, in certain seasons of the year, organise parties. I see work of this kind going on week after week in South London. Apart from such work, fostered as it is by national voluntary youth organisations as well as by the churches, there is of course the remarkable success story of Voluntary Service Overseas. I have no doubt that a growing number of young people want to be of use to those less able to help themselves. Perhaps the real problem here is to wed this care and compassion to projects which make sense to the mind, and which are seen to be worth while.

Quite another cause for satisfaction lies in the growing interest of young people in the Arts. It is not only the Beatles and the Rolling Stones who evoke a response. A high proportion of the audience at the National Theatre of the Royal Shakespeare Company's home at the Aldwych is young people in their teens and twenties. The same is true of concerts and ballet. In the sphere of literature, the "paper-back" industry is flourishing; so, it would appear, are the public libraries, even in the most unlikely districts. I do not always find myself in agreement with the new thought that is permeating this world, but I am thankful that at least people are posing real and relevant questions, that they are probing towards a design for creative living, that they are, at their best, actuated by a real concern for truth and for social justice. In so far as young people are caught up in this world of new ideas, here is evidence that they are taking advantage of the greater opportunities for becoming aware of their social responsibilities.

Having said all this, and having left unsaid much more that gives cause for thankfulness, it remains unhappily true that in home and school, in youth club and church, we are making little, if any, progress with a considerable minority of our young people. Five years ago the Albemarle Committee presented us with their admirable Report. The recommendations which they made were for the most part implemented by the Government of the day. The Training College at Leicester was set up. More money for development work has been made available. Every encouragement has been given, to both statutory and voluntary bodies, to initiate experimental work in new fields. And yet, despite all this, it seems clear that at least in the 16 to 20 age group, who obviously gave most concern to the Albemarle Committee, little progress has been made.

Some of your Lordships will recall that shortly after this Committee was set up in November, 1958, the House debated the Youth Services, on February 4, 1959. During that debate the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Norwich, in drawing attention to certain aspects of delinquency, spoke of the impression of part boredom, part unhappiness and part defiance that some young people give. Any one of us driving or walking home late at night and seeing a group of young people under the neon lights of a coffee bar or shop window knows exactly what the right reverend Prelate had in mind. What we used to call "the un-clubbables" are now known as "the unattached", and there is an aura about them in the group which appears to make any kind of communication all but impossible. Certainly it is an aura which makes many adults who might seem to be potential youth leaders shy off in fear, rightly or wrongly believing themselves to be confronted with a situation beyond their capacities for effective engagement.

Some, of course, have broken through, established real communication, discovered that the group aura is often no more than skin deep, and have made beginnings in integrating such young people into the community. Local authorities and voluntary organisations are naturally reluctant to give publicity to any success which they may have had for fear of jeopardising work only just initiated and dependent upon a self-effacing leadership for ultimate achievement. Nevertheless, the work done by Father Shergold with his motor cyclists, first in Hackney Wick and now in another part of London, seems to indicate that where a leader demonstrates real care for "the unattached", where this care is seen to be utterly disinterested and without strings attached, and where it is matched by a natural and spontaneous identification of interest rather than something contrived and artificial, then real communication is possible. Young people previously written off as socially irresponsible suddenly find themselves organisation agents for Inter-Church Aid. That has actually happened.

My Lords, the Motion before us is To call attention to the importance of giving to the youth of the nation greater opportunities for becoming aware of their social responsibilities". This is, of course, a matter which engages, or should engage, every section of the community—parents, teachers, employers, clergy, youth leaders. I have however, confined myself to the contribution of the Youth Service, the contribution it is already making. I should like to conclude by suggesting three contributions which it might consider for the future. First, I should like to see the whole concept of the service of youth broadened and deepened. Youth clubs, whether on the pre-Albemarle or post-Albemarle model, whether concerned with a multiplicity of "activites" or concerned just to be a meeting place around the coffee bar, have still a great job to do. They will not, however, meet the special needs and interests of all young people. There will always be substantial minorities who prefer to use their leisure in, to instance only two examples, the spheres of sport and the arts. For this reason I welcome the setting up of the Sports Development Council and trust that it will be given sufficient money to make available both more playing fields and more sports centres of the quality of that recently opened at Crystal Palace.

When one considers the amount of money rightly being spent on youth clubs one wonders whether those young people whose interests lie primarily in outdoor activities are having their share of the "cake". Similarly, I hope that the kind of work being done by Mr. Michael Croft with his Youth Theatre and by others concerned with promoting an interest in drama and music among young people, will be recognised as "youth work" quite as much as clubs are already recognised, and so regarded as equally eligible for grant aid.

Second, I should like to see far more money made available for experimental work among "the unattached". Whether this is done in the context of a cafe or by an itinerant leader working a beat in a restricted neighbourhood, or around a sectional interest such as the motor cycle club to which I referred earlier, or in some other way, it is important that once a grant-aiding body have discovered a leader in whom they can have confidence, they should next demonstrate that confidence by giving him a free hand and, within reason, a free purse.

Finally, it is clear that we need many more leaders both full-time and voluntary. Again and again in South London I hear of parishes where opportunities are being lost because of the difficulty of finding the right leaders to take advantage of them. The emphasis is even more on quality than on quantity. Youth leadership is not an easy job. It calls for immense self-sacrifice. It cannot be done on the basis of so many sessions per fortnight. It demands a willingness to attend to the individual's needs at any hour of the day or night—just as does the work of a doctor or of a priest. It demands living on the job and not in a comfortable suburb ten miles away. It demands infinite patience, infinite understanding and infinite perseverance. And, most difficult of all, it demands in the leader's own life, and ultimately in the lives of those for whom he is responsible, the rehabilitation of certain concepts consistently devalued in the past 25 years—words like "duty" and "discipline" which alone can bring out the real meaning of words with which we are more familiar, "rights" and "freedom". If we could approach men and women in their 20s and 30s with the challenge of this kind of youth leadership, might we not go some way towards meeting the needs of the hour? Can such an hour be met, save, in the words of Cromwell, by men who know what they fight for and love what they know"?

5.35 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to join with other noble Lords in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, not only for putting down this Motion, but for so carefully wording it, because I think he has most successfully directed the attention of your Lordships' House, as has been seen by the various speeches, into the problem of social responsibility. Consequently there have been many excellent contributions on this question of giving youth the opportunity to exercise some social responsibility.

The noble Lord who opened the debate referred to looking at the problem as a whole. It sometimes seems to me, when I hear people speaking, or read some articles which have been written about the so-called youth problem, that we have in fact created a kind of mental reservation for youth into which we have herded them. They are a separate and distinct race which we study: we send down anthropologists and other investigators to discover what they want, what they are like, why they are irresponsible, why they are together, and so forth. It seems to me that although a certain amount of this kind of research and approach is necessary, it is also worrying because it seems just a little too clinical, and it is directing our attention into channels which are perhaps not the most important. It is clear that we cannot do everything in this field, but I think it is also clear that there are a certain number of precise and clear areas in which we can operate and in which we can provide the opportunities that are demanded in this particular Motion. I think it is on this that we should concentrate.

The right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Southwark referred just now to The Unattached; and it was also mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare. I agree that it is an interesting book, which shows excellent work by several youth workers and leaders in what was altogether a most useful experiment. Nevertheless, I hope that we are not, as a result, going to build up the idea that to be unattached is a sin; that to be on one's own, to be not one to be clubbed or to join an organisation, is wrong. This seems to me to be the kind of tendency to which we may be leading, and I think that this would be wrong. In this field, as in the arts, it is necessary to provide the opportunities; to provide, above all, the inspiring challenge, and let young people respond to that in their own way. It is in this area that I particularly want to concentrate the very few remarks that I intend to make.

At the risk of repeating some things which have been said I want to come back to the question of voluntary service and social responsibilities. In my view it is in this particular area that the greatest breakthrough could be made. We talk too much in terms of what we can do to help young people solve their problems. I think that the right way to put it is to suggest what young people can do to help us solve our problems—theirs and ours. It would be quite interesting if we were to have a debate in which nobody was present over the age of 21, except a few of us sitting in the gallery, and the young people were debating how to make opportunities for adults to face up to their social responsibilities; and I think we might see the problems in a slightly different perspective. The right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Southwark, spoke about the amount of propaganda and publicity given to a young juvenile delinquent who steps out of line. We all agree we have had too much of this.

I should like to sketch in very briefly some of the things that have been done on the other side of the picture and which shows a remarkable degree of imagination, ingenuity and courage. In the last five years more than 200 schools have started schemes to involve young people in some form of community service. The sixth form boys in one school bought tandems so that they could take blind boys out cycling. The girls in a Lancashire school wired old hair dryers to alarm clocks so that deaf people could be woken up by a blast of warm air in their faces. Boys in a school in Derby left home early in the morning and before they reached school went to the geriatric ward of a local hospital, not the most cheerful place in the world, and helped the old men to shave. Girls in the same school before going home went to the same sort of wards and gave old ladies shampoos and "hair-dos". One group of lads and girls went to meet the boat trains arriving at Waterloo with West Indian immigrants, and helped them to take their luggage across London and to find their various destinations and stations.

The police in many areas have also seen the value of this kind of service.

Nearly 20 forces have released their cadets to do volunteer work in Cheshire Homes, schools for the maladjusted, farm training schemes, housing settlements for immigrants, even in remand homes and approved schools. And employers and trade unions have cooperated in many areas to release apprentices and young workers to help in occupational therapy units and in adult centres for subnormals.

The leadership of Mr. Alec Dickson, with his community service volunteers, has already been mentioned in this debate. He has shown remarkable initiative in the work he has undertaken in placing youngsters from 17 to 19 in a whole range of exciting projects. He has volunteers working with retarded adolescents, in the wards of mental hospitals and among immigrant Asian children, visiting homes of elderly people for redecoration and company, and so forth. Some have gone to work in borstals where they literally live the same life as the other lads, wearing the same clothes, eating the same food, submitting to the same discipline. Nobody can tell me that that does not require a degree of courage and self-confidence which is wholly admirable. I could go on, for the roll of honour is a very long one, but I think I have made my point, if, indeed, it needs making at all.

We all know young people will rise to a challenge, but the tragedy, as has been indicated, is that we so consistently and stupidly fail to make this challenge; for the strange and alarming thing which was indicated by the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Norwich is this: that there are more volunteers among our young people than there are opportunities. In city after city, town after town, offers of help from young people are being turned down. Even Joan of are would be turned away from some of our town halls if she came along with an offer of help. Even in some areas where they have been accepted, the youngsters have had to fight with their bare hands for the privilege of giving their time and energy to the service of the community. Local authorities either actively resist any suggestion of help or are just indifferent.

Your Lordships all know that part of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme comprises some form of community ser- vice, but many schools, groups and individuals who have entered for the award find that they cannot get the opportunity to do real community service. The opportunities are not provided for. Nobody wants them and nobody can be bothered. I believe—and I use the same word as my noble friend Lord Robertson of Oak-ridge—that this is a scandalous situation, and the one contribution and point I want to hammer home as my contribution in this debate is to beg the Government that it should be altered and to show some striking initiative in order to get it altered. I want to plead here for bold and imaginative leadership from the Government and local authorities. Let us wipe this odious word "do-gooder" out of our vocabulary. Let the Government and everyone else recognise that community service is not a matter of flower arrangements in hospitals on Sundays or delivery of parcels to old people at Christmas or doling out soup, but is essentially a part of everyday living, and something, above all, which provides young people with an outlet for their idealism and energy.

It is basically a question of national attitude, a question of our attitude and not a question of young people's attitudes. There are hundreds of thousands of young people who would respond, given the opportunities. There is a quivering army of energy here which we are not using, and I believe that is totally wrong. I could understand it if it were merely a question of money, but the fact is that though grants are important and money is important it is not so much money that these young people are asking for as opportunities. We are not on our hands and knees begging the money from the Government so much as begging them to give some kind of leadership in this field: in fact, to give young people the opportunity to save the nation some money.

If in Israel youngsters can turn deserts into flowering farms, why cannot our young people be given the opportunity to transform the Lea Valley and other areas into pleasure gardens and parks? If a few British youngsters can go to the underdeveloped countries and give valuable help in various projects—and this is wonderful—why cannot others be inspired here to turn to our own underdeveloped areas, our bombed sites, and work on them? The restoration of the Stratford-on-Avon Canal is one example of what has been done. The right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Southwark referred just now to Michael Croft's wonderful scheme for a new National Youth Theatre. They are crying out for a building. They have support from thousands of young people up and down the country. Is there not some local authority in London with the initiative and inspiration to give Michael Croft and his Youth Theatre a site, and challenge them to build their own theatre? This is the sort of thing that can be done and the sort of example that needs to be set. If I am told that this is impossible, I suggest you go and look at the Questors Theatre in Ealing, built by the people themselves, of course with expert advice and leadership, but it has been built.

There are thousands of other projects where we are neglecting this supply of energy and idealism in the community. I was in Australia a couple of years ago, and in a small town of about 8,000 people I saw an Olympic-size swimming pool. Your Lordships know how many Olympic swimming pools we have in this country. But this 8,000 people community pointed with pride to "our Olympic pool", which they had built themselves in the evenings and at weekends, and it came up to full Olympic standards. There are hundreds of places in this country where we have not got swimming pools. Why can we not get sites from local authorities, funds from local authorities, expert advice from local authorities, and ask young people and others to join in the community and build the swimming pools? It seems to me that if we were thinking in this direction we could release a great deal of energy.

Is there not some newspaper that would spearhead such a drive? Why cannot we get television and radio to step down from this stupid attitude of insulation towards this sort of thing, and actively campaign for youth leaders to fill the gaps—for young people to work in this particular field? I hope sincerely that the Government will not tell us that the answer lies in co-ordination, in the creation of some kind of clearing house and so forth. You can only clear what already exists, and if you add zero to zero and co-ordinate them you still get zero.

I beg the Government not to pussyfoot around with this question any longer. We in the Labour Party have been in office for three or four months, and I believe that we have done some marvellous and wonderful things. But I am disturbed at the fact that there seems to be no particular urge in this direction. I believe that we need a new leadership and a new development. If we fail to give the challenge and the opportunity, then we have no right to criticise young people, to accuse them of a selfish attitude and to suggest that they want everything given to them on a plate. We are bound to get a social constipation if there is a continual giving in without any giving out. This must be stopped; it must be changed. Can we not put a new emphasis on youth service, as has been suggested by the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Southwark? Can we not give a lead on a national scale that will prompt others to follow suit? We have these new regional authorities. Can we not get them to consider what they can do about youth?

The noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, referred to the question of appointing a Minister for Youth. I think this would be a marvellous idea, if only because it would elevate this particular problem to the level at which it deserves to be considered, instead of its being a tiny corner in one particular department. If we cannot have a Minister for Youth, at least let us have somebody responsible who will give a new drive to this whole problem. Do not let us talk about "the Dunkirk spirit", because if we do not follow it up, that is just empty and meaningless chatter. The essence of the Dunkirk spirit was the inspiration and mobilisation of people, especially the young, in the service of their country. That is what is needed to-day. In short, we need a gigantic movement of self-help among the young people. I believe that this would bring about a tremendous change. The noble Viscount, Lord Amory, said that we were "noble squares". May I suggest that this question is so urgent and so important, and that we have chattered and argued about it for so long that something must be done. I suggest that we, as "noble squares", ought perhaps to surround Downing Street and demand that at last something be done to end the chatter and begin work.

5.54 p.m.


My Lords, I, too, should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, for introducing this debate, though I cannot agree with the noble Lord than teenagers should have a vote. Whilst you may be old enough to hold a rifle straight, I do not think that that necessarily means that you are old enough to have the wisdom to choose your administrators. But that is aside from this debate.

I was extremely interested to hear the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Willis. I agree with him, although he surprised me when he said that local authorities are inundated with young people wanting to do charitable work. I am extremely pleased to hear this, although, as I say, it surprised me. I personally do not know of any cases where young people wanting to do charitable work have been refused. I have been for a long time associated with boys' clubs, through the National Association of Boys' Clubs, with the Kent Association of Boys' Clubs, of which I am treasurer; and I have been on the Executive for quite a long time.

I am afraid that in this debate we may give our young people rather an inferiority complex. What are the real figures that we now have? To hear some speakers, one would think that the whole country was filled with young delinquents. If this is broken down into percentages, I am sure that the percentage of so-called "impossible" young people is not more than 2 per cent., or perhaps 2½ per cent., and of that percentage probably one could reform half. When we see a young man with his hair down on his shoulders and dressed in odd clothes we are inclined to think that he cannot be any good. Of course that is complete nonsense. He is probably a quite excellent person. This is only a form of drawing attention to himself. I personally think that long hair, together with modern clothes, is quite absurd. It was probably all right in Jacobean days. But many young men want to draw a bit of attention to themselves, or to "cut a dash". In some ways, it is rather a healthy sign, and we cannot blame them for that.

My noble friend Lord Aberdare said that the real start in this matter ought to be made in the home. Of course that is so. The extraordinary part about our modern society is that, while everybody has far more material benefits in the home, we appear to have lost some of the moral and spiritual cohesion of the family. I will not enlarge on that, as it is the sphere of the right reverend Prelates opposite. But it is a fact, and a sad fact. Taking the instance of a country like Sweden, I understand that it has the highest standard of living in the world, but it also has the highest suicide rate.

I think that a great deal of the real trouble of our young people is that material things are too easy to come by, that they get things too easily, compared with past generations; and after they have everything and have done everything, they become bored and want some new excitement. It is preposterous that mothers with young children should prefer a new car to looking after the welfare of their children. I think this is ghastly. I think it is impossible to do anything, except by example, but I wish that by some means a mother could be made to remain in the home to look after her children. I know of several instances where children have come home to cold food.

I am sure a great deal of the trouble occurs in the early stages. When one considers the question of schooling, we spend in this country something like £1,000 million a year on education. The schools of this country have a vast responsibility, and I have often thought that the emphasis in recent years has been rather more on one's rights than on one's duties. In regard to State education, some people are always a little suspicious that the State may be conditioning the pupil to become the "dogsbody" of the State, but it is very difficult in State education, I would imagine—I must admit I know very little about it, and I suppose I really should not be speaking about it—to give a child an entirely unbiased education. But I have always hoped that in State education, and probably in other forms of education, too, if the emphasis could be put on the teaching of history it would help young people to understand their social responsibilities. Further, if only the basic elements of economics also could be explained during schooling, that too would be a great help. I wonder if every State school in fact does this.

The really testing time comes when children leave school. At that stage they have far more temptations put before them than ever my generation had. For commercial reasons they are easy prey: they earn big wages, and television, radio and Press have quite a lot to answer for. When one considers all the extremely lurid advertising one sees, it is most difficult for young people not to go "off the rails".

What they really want is an ideal. When I was young I had the ideal of the British Empire, that great, incorruptible organisation which fought disease, which was impartial in its justice, and which stood up for the underdog. That, of course, has now all gone. What are we going to put in its place for young people to look up to? We have heard about helping old people. Well, that is an extremely fine ideal, but it is not really a romantic ideal to catch the imagination of the young. Could we put before them the ideal of the United Nations? The trouble is that United Nations can hardly be said to have organised their affairs in such a way as to become an ideal for young people. Furthermore, one cannot have as an ideal the Welfare State, because that is completely material. President Kennedy's Peace Corps was an extremely fine ideal, though one has to be careful that it will not be infiltrated by undesirable political propaganda.

One or two noble Lords have suggested that we really ought to organise and have a plan for youth. Well, I believe that the average young person would rather shy away from that, for one does not want to make them feel that they "must" do something. I am all for having it on a voluntary basis, with all these voluntary youth services operating. It is preferable to there being a great organised system. We do not want something like the labour battalions in Germany, for if the set-up is too organised youth will rebel against it.

There is a tremendous enthusiasm in youth, if only it can be harnessed and channelled in the right way. One has to be most careful not to hurt the feelings of youth. In regard to the Peace Corps and other societies which undertake international voluntary work, they do a wonderful job in sending youth to the Asiatic and African countries. But it can sometimes happen that their efforts are not appreciated by the local population. Therefore, one has to be careful where they go to do this work, because sometimes primitive people might take their charitable purpose in a completely wrong way. They might perhaps laugh when they see girls or boys with bricks on their shoulders on their way to build a mission hall. Some primitive people might not understand why they are doing it and think it is for some bad motive. We have to be careful not to discourage young people in any way.

The noble Lord, Lord Willis, mentioned the example of Israel cultivating its deserts and turning them into citrus groves, and Israel has certainly done a wonderful job. But it is easier for the young in Israel for they have before them a great challenge. They are surrounded by not very friendly powers, and there is that challenge which they face. The noble Lord asked, "Why could not our young build swimming pools?" Well, I suppose they could, but it is hardly much of a challenge, to go and build swimming pools. They could easily answer, "Let the contractors build them." The country is not going to founder because we do not have any swimming pools; whereas Israel would be in a bad way if it did not learn to cultivate its deserts. I think that the great trouble in this country, where we have great material prosperity, is that it is terribly difficult to get this challenge. I am quite sure that, if this country were threatened, all our young people would be absolutely splendid. But it is a challenge that they need, and how you are going to get that challenge I do not know. That is an extremely difficult subject.

It has been said by an earlier speaker that the Youth Service ought to take in young people earlier, and I quite agree with that. I believe that a noble Lord mentioned the age of 11. It would be a very good thing if that were done, because the earlier you can catch young people the better. I should also like to express, again, my belief that this work should be done on a voluntary basis. Local authorities and the Government help a great deal with grants, but I do not think we really require this Service to be nationalised. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, spoke of "rationalisation", but I also thought he used the word "nationalised". We do not want anything like a nationalised Youth Service: this work must be done through these voluntary associations.

Finally, I only hope that young people will not get the idea from this debate that we adults look rather askance at them, because I do not think I have ever come across a really bad, evil young boy or girl in my experience with youth clubs. That may be because youth clubs get the best of them, but I do not really believe that is so, because we have a lot of industry down on the Estuary in Kent and I am sure that if there were any really bad ones I should have come across one or two of them. My Lords, I have spoken long enough, so I shall now sit down.

6.14 p.m.


My Lords, like everybody else I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, for having raised this whole question, but I should like to thank him even more for having had the courage to tackle the problem in the way he has done. In this country we do not often seem to lack physical courage, but moral courage is what we require in dealing with this sort of question.

I personally think that as we discuss the question of giving more opportunities to youth we ought at the same time to realise that we are giving them those opportunities in order that they may be able to fit themselves for what they really want to do, which in turn will strengthen them in their walk through life. I think we need to make it quite clear that in discussing giving them opportunities of recognising their responsibilities within the community, we do not make it appear as something which is going to benefit them, but something which, by its doing, will benefit the community itself. There is nothing worse than going into a job as a soporific, and I am quite convinced that all of us have to keep this very clearly in our minds.

Speaking rather against my own interests I should like to suggest that the opportunities given are not only in the field of voluntary service but also in every sort of craftsmanship: in hobbies, in the arts, and in athletics—and I say this because I am convinced that the practice of any of these things will do the one thing we are aiming to achieve; that is, to give the individual the opportunity to strengthen his or her own character, to the ultimate benefit of the individual and for the aggregate value to the nation itself. Because in my life I have found that the worker does best what he likes doing best, I think that those in charge and those who have the ability to offer opportunity should keep well in mind that this angle should be studied, and that the decision should not be made merely because of the wish to get the product.

My own experience is based on girls and boys who work with the services with which I am connected—and this ranges from the girls and boys who come from schools, from organisations, from institutions, including Borstal, from the police, in the shape of cadets, to a very virile youth-organised motor-cyclist corps which is now working throughout the whole of Great Britain and doing a wonderful piece of work. My view—and I base it on a good deal of experience—is that the young should be offered responsibility, and not in anything but a very generous way, but that the adult should stand behind the young (if I were a cricket fan I should say "at long-stop") and that the adult should have the courage never to interfere. If things did have to be put right they should be put right without ado; and, above all, praise should be given from a quarter from which praise would be valued.

If we look back to the time when we were the age of the boys and girls we are talking about, I think there would be few of us who would not remember that we were beset by a great many doubts and dilemmas, a great many predicaments when we were not quite sure why our aims had dislodged and why our values seemed to shift. I think this is something which it is very important for us to recall.

I was very much moved when listening to the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Baden-Powell. As he was speaking, I thought of his grandfather whom I was lucky enough to know well, and I recalled conversations with him. I felt how infinitely proud that grand old man would have been that his grandson could make the contribution we all heard today. In trying to give adulation to the grandson, I think I am perhaps saying something which would mean a very great deal to him—at any rate, I hope so. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Willis. I should like to see bathing pools up and down the country. I believe that it needs only a little energy and push from the centre to get the boys and girls to start on them—but I should like the boys and girls to do it themselves, rather than be organised by outside people. Help should, however, be available to canalise the effort in the right direction and to remove difficulties.

When the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, first spoke he used a phrase which is tremendously important in all of this work. He said that on occasion it seemed as if the person who could supply the job was almost jealous of, or perhaps even hostile to, the efforts which were not his own; and this is the most difficult thing that anybody dealing with this problem can meet. It is where I think the adult should clear the ground, so that the young do not get the frustration and the sadness which those of us who are older and more weatherbeaten have had in our day.

I believe we must tackle this problem on the basis of what the instigator of the debate indicated, the picture as a whole. So I should like to start by saying that I believe implicitly in the youth of to-day. I am not frightened about them. I think merely that the media of communication to-day make the bad things much worse, and belittle the good because they do not think it is going to be "hot news". But my experience with the young and the not so young, and with the middle-aged and the old, has convinced me that it is not enough, especially in the field which we are discussing, to interest the participants. It is essential to convince them—and this is perhaps the most difficult thing for anyone who is trying to organise or administer, or trying to make something come to pass. It needs infinite patience, it needs a good deal of wisdom, some dexterity and a good deal of the cunning of the asp.

I believe that if you are going to convince a person you have first to give him the opportunity; and, if that opportunity interests him, you have to spend individual time telling him why, where and what—but never how. And, as you get his interest, so you will, in time, get not only participation but dedication and ultimately leadership. To do this it is obvious that it is necessary to have, as the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, said, an example. Above all things, an unself-conscious example. Alongside that example must come both explanation and experiment, so that as these things melt together the whole is a real whole. I believe that, unless this philosophic aspect of the whole is invoked, success can be only temporary, and then it is of no value either to the participant or to the country on the basis on which we are thinking.

We have been discussing this matter from different angles, but whether the objective be interest, hobby or occupation or participation, surely it stands to reason that if the effort is to be continuous the motivation must be carried by the person himself. It is no good for an extraneous person to try to push, or pull, or drive. If things are to happen the person must do them because he wishes them to happen. Therefore, I believe it is a mistake—the mistake most often made—to lack realisation of the intelligence of the people with whom one is dealing. The boys and girls whom we are talking about—and I think it is a little presumptive of us to talk about them in the way we are doing—have as much intelligence as we have, if not a great deal more, and they often have a great deal more ability, imagination and enterprise. So I believe that unless we, the adults, take the trouble to recognise that a great many of the situations to-day are due to our fault, the young will neither listen to us, nor want to work with people who they think are not seeing the whole in its right aspect.

It is obvious that we have to look at our ultimate objective, and I believe that the ultimate objective we have in mind is the strengthening of the fibre from which character is made; and this should be kept, I feel strongly, in the very forefront of our mind. I have always felt that true leadership is too valuable a strength to be treated lightly, and I believe that the requirement in this particular application might be steermanship as a starting point: so that the burden of responsibility can be assumed, the carrier can be tested, and eventually, if in fact the burden is well carried, advance can be made towards leadership, which in fact is what we are asking for.

The boys and girls of to-day are already the inheritors of to-morrow. They will not be found wanting. It is ridiculous for us to think that they are going to behave in the way we do, any more than our parents should have thought we were going to behave in the way they wanted us to. I hope that, instead of appealing for co-ordination or anything or the kind, we can appeal to the adults of the country to participate more in this subject rather than to talk about it, and to get more done in the way of practical results that will convince the youth of the country not only that they are going to be given an opportunity but that their assumption of responsibility is recognised and will be relied upon by those who at present are the adults of the day.

6.26 p.m.


My Lords, at this late hour, and as the thirteenth speaker in this debate, I will do no more than underline some of the splendid speeches which have been made by other noble Lords. I believe that we have created a society in which the worst thing you can be is old and the best thing you can be is young, even if you are a stupid young person. I believe that this generation does not have the problems that the generation that I knew—that of the 'thirties and the 'twenties—had. We had to contend not only with poverty and unemployment, but, of course, later, with war.

This generation, however (and since nobody appears to have defined the group we are talking about, may I say that I am speaking of those between fourteen and nineteen), can expect to earn reasonably good wages; they can expect longer periods of leisure; they are healthier than their parents were at the same age, and they are better informed, if not better educated. They are exploited ruthlessly by the commercial elements in our society. Records are churned out by the million, for which artificial demands have been created. And in this our mass media must accept responsibility. Cosmetics, motor bicycles, cars (there are too many goods for me to enumerate them all at this late hour) are there on the market specifically for this age group.

As a woman, I know only too well how the ready-made clothing market is completely dominated by the desire to sell to this age group, so that the older woman is almost unable to get anything which does not make her look like mutton dressed as lamb. In fact, in conversation with a shoe distributor the other day, one of my colleagues had it put very forcibly when he said to her, "We are not interested in your age group; you buy shoes only once a year. It is the teenagers who spend the money."

Television presents to the whole of society the image of the adolescent as a leather-jacketed listener to unmusical noises known as "pop" music, and many adults, seeing only that kind of adolescent. really believe that this is exactly representative of that age group. Certain papers aim their appeal directly at young readers (although occasionally they compromise a little by saying, "To the young in heart", which means that some of us might also be included), with the result that their content appears to be composed of cartoons, pictures, strip cartoons and captions, so that one gets the impression that these young readers are unable to cope with words of more than two syllables.

The trouble is that many adults—and these are the people that I despise most—in an attempt to be up to the minute, condone standards of behaviour which they do not understand, or with which they do not really agree, and so do a great disservice to this group of the community. We have to offer these boys and girls something different. We have to use in a positive and creative way their desire for excitement and adventure. This really is the period in life when one is idealistic. At eighteen I wanted to change the world. Now I am much more mellow, and I will settle for changing only three-quarters of it.

Our splendid Welfare State can run successfully only if there is a marriage of the statutory services and the voluntary agencies. When we consider the large number of people of pensionable age, many of whom live alone and are not able to do simple things for themselves, we have some idea of what confronts the State services, local authorities and the voluntary agencies. When we consider that hospital beds are being closed for lack of staff, that there are thousands of neglected or orphaned children, that there are people in multitude physically and mentally handicapped and not in hospitals, who need to be cared for in the community, we must look for the volunteers, the voluntary people, to help fill the bill for lack of full-time professionals.

The established youth organisations, the Churches and the councils of social service (and no one has mentioned these so far) already have some very imaginative schemes in hand, and it is quite unnecessary (though here I shall be in direct conflict, I feel, with many noble Lords) to set up new and possibly expensive administrative machinery. More flexibility is certainly needed on the part of the authorities to whom the volunteers offer their services; and here I should like to quote from a letter from a local council of social service in which the secretary says: The finding of jobs is the crux of the matter. There is an abundant readiness to serve on the part of the youngsters, and much has already been done to help the elderly by their own unsponsored efforts. One sixth-former, giving an account of the work of his school, said this: I am enjoying doing this, but if this work is going to be organised by a lot of old jossers, you can take it from me it is finished. With that quotation, I feel that I can underline what so many other noble Lords have said: that the young, if they are to be successful, should have the opportunity of administering their own machinery in this voluntary service. I am happy to see that this is recognised in the Council of Social Service, for junior councils of social service are now being set up in some numbers.

My Lords, there is so much more to this than supplying the people to fit the job. And I agree with the noble Lord who introduced this Motion when he said that we have to stir the conscience of the nation and present the idea of service as something exciting and inspiring. I am an enthusiastic social worker, and I am very disturbed at the way the term "do-gooder" has now come to be almost an insult. Why should not the good deeds of people have at least the same Press coverage as the antics of the "Mods" and "Rockers" when they go to seaside resorts? Last week I had the privilege of speaking to a hundred young women under twenty in the New Town of Crawley. Not only was this inspiring and exciting but it restored one's belief in human nature.

I would conclude by quoting Mr. Michael Dower, of the Civic Trust, who has organised some very interesting schemes in work camps and has used young people to beautify some of our incredibly ugly cities. I should like to see swimming pools, but I should like more to see the wretched bomb sites in our cities not covered with all the filth and rubbish which people seem to throw there. Mr. Dower said, in a speech to young people, that at the moment we are using only one in 8,000 of our young people in voluntary work. Not all would be interested or could be brought in if they were given the opportunity. But he went on to say that he believed it to be the case that far more would come in if they knew about it. My Lords, let us have some inspiration from the top; let us have some encouragement from the mass media, and I feel sure that we shall not lack young people coming forward to take their share of the responsibility.

6.35 p.m.


My Lords, I make this speech the thirteenth speech, and having heard the first twelve, I am alarmed at the thought that I have the responsibility to society for four of these young people. I find, unlike many noble Lords, that my attitude towards them is a rather variable one. At this time of the year when most of the young people are spending most of their waking hours out of the way at school, one's attitude towards them is of affection, fondness and high esteem. But I know only too well that in a few weeks' time, when all of them and all of their friends are all over the house all the time, I shall look at them with a rather more jaundiced despair, at any rate from time to time. I do not myself feel in any sort of position to criticise any parents in their handling of this very difficult problem. However, to-day we have to try to overcome these frailties and look at these young people as calmly and as evenly as we can.

I am certainly in favour of this Motion, and grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, for introducing it. But I should be very reluctant to support the Motion if it were put to the Vote without a chance to say at the outset that, surely, we are not here picking on the young people, singling them out as especially lacking in a sense of social responsibility. I know of no evidence to support the view that young people are more lacking in social responsibility than any other section of our society; and no noble Lord so far has brought any evidence to that effect in the course of this debate.

It is quite true that there is an intolerable rise in the statistics of juvenile delinquency, and that there have been these unseemly and unfortunately much-publicised affrays at Clacton, Brighton and Southend. But has anyone shown that these deviations from social responsibility among the age group with which we are concerned signify a greater proportion of lack of social responsibility than there is among any other group in the nation? It is, of course, convenient for us to take a special look at young people in this debate; but I submit—and here I would agree with the noble Lords, Lord Wade and Lord Willis—that it is not good for the young people themselves to be singled out like this for quite so much attention, either by us or by any other medium that brings them to the attention of the public. It is not fair to pick on them unless we are quite certain—as many noble Lords have already said—that it is not the whole of our society that needs to become more aware of its social responsibilities.

I think in this way to-day for two reasons. In earlier days many of the most acute social problems were dealt with by lock and key. Paupers were put away in the work-house, lunatics were locked up in asylums, criminals were locked in prisons and, to a large extent, they were kept there. A great number of these people are now dealt with in society. Officials of the National Assistance Board visit the poor in their homes, probation officers see young offenders while they are in full employment, the mentally sick are cured and cared for in society as out-patients. Therefore, there is more social service done in society and by society.

But there is a second reason, which complicates this situation and adds to it. I do not believe society is really aware of the changes that have occurred. If our forbears were enabled to forget some of the worst social problems by locking people away, our generation—and particularly since the war—have been helped to go on overlooking these problems by the very growth of the social services themselves in the Welfare State. The appearance on the scene of these professional social workers has given the man in the street, not a greater awareness of his social responsibilities, but a feeling that it must be the responsibility of one of these professional experts rather than his to cope with the ills of our society, and even a feeling that, if he wanted to help, he is after all only an amateur in relation to them and might well make a mess of it. This, I believe, is the situation which has arisen and with which we have to deal, and to which I should like to turn in a moment.

First, however, I think there is another possible misunderstanding in the terms of the Motion, although I agree that it has been most felicitously worded. It is this. I do not want to support the Motion without saying that in doing so we are not criticising the teachers or schoolmasters who have educated our children on our behalf. I do not think they are to be blamed for not providing greater opportunities for making them aware of their social responsibilities. Rather the reverse. I think that in debating this Motion we ought to congratulate the teaching profession for sticking so doggedly to their main task, of preparing our boys and girls to live their lives as responsible citizens. They have done this in the teeth of tremendous pressure from many quarters for overmuch academic distinctions for their children and in the teeth of the tremendous demands from industry and commerce for more and more highly skilled, technically competent manpower for the shop floor, the office desk and the various professions. That some balance has been maintained, that the young people do have, on top of all their extra skill and learning, such a sense of social responsibility as they in fact possess, is very much to the credit of their teachers and their schools. And it has been achieved by them in spite of the demands of society, which in many cases have been in conflict with their aims.

In many instances it is the teachers and the schools who have supplied to children the authority and the discipline essential for life in society, which children really want and certainly must have, but which they do not always get at home. It is often the teachers and schools who instil the awareness of social responsibility in children who may otherwise not be able to get it. So I would agree with those noble Lords who say that the situation is rather different from that implied by the terms of the Motion. It is not so much that young people are unaware of their social responsibilities, though some are and all could be more aware, as the fact that our society outside the schools fails to provide the right conditions and the right opportunities for young people for the discharge of their social responsibilities. They are open all the time to tremendous temptations to self-indulgence. The noble Lady who spoke just before me developed this theme.

Opportunities for service in society are not a match, I submit, for the awareness of social responsibility that has been fostered in our young people. Many of the young people need much more social responsibility than they are in fact being offered. But it is no good pretending—and the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, rightly made much of this—that the giving of social responsibility to young people is easy. It is, in fact, a process of the greatest difficulty and delicacy, and this is perhaps the reason why it is not done enough. I know that it is tempting to think that it could be done by devising some comprehensive and better Youth Service—nationalised, rationalised, co-ordinated or un-co-ordinated—but whatever is done, at the moment, the Youth Service does not cater for more than one-third of those with whom we are concerned and, generally speaking, that one-third needs the service least. What we need to bear in mind is the other two-thirds or, as the Newsom Report put it, the other half, who at the moment are not in, and so far as one can see cannot be got into, any voluntary youth service.

Therefore, I doubt whether we are right to put so much hope in the Youth Service, and wonder whether we should not be wiser to concentrate, as the authors of the Newsom Report did, on what can be done in the secondary modern schools and other schools who cater for the whole of our young people. I believe also that awareness of social responsibility is not best learnt as a separate subject in some intermediate stage between life as a child at school and life as an adult at work. I believe it is best learnt by tying together more closely these two stages of childhood and adulthood. The pattern to be followed in order to find greater opportunities for young people to learn and discharge their social responsibilities is, I believe, the pattern prescribed in the Newsom Report and in two recommendations, on which I should like to spend a moment. In passing, I think I could say that what is to be found in the Newsom Report as particularly applicable to grammar schools is also applicable mutatis mutandis to independent schools and universities.

One recommendation of the Newsom Report, No. 4, was that the last two years at school should be related to the occupational interests of children and attention should be given to their social development. This involves bringing into the schools and curricula some of the real life, concrete situations and problems of the world outside. It means talks on school premises in school time from probation officers, industrial training officers, marriage guidance counsellors and housing managers and other expert people working in the social field. And it means drawing young people into the confidence of these professional experts and bringing about the beginning of that marriage of which the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, has just spoken. I would be the first to admit, from my own bitter personal experience, that study and discussion on problems and issues like this by this inductive method is a daunting prospect in the last two years of secondary modern school children, but it can be done and is being done, but it ought to be done much more widely.

The second recommendation from the Newsom Report which is relevant to our problem to-day is that the school programme in the last year should be deliberately outward looking—the reverse of what I have just been stressing—initiation into the adult world, as it is put in the Report. All links with adult organisations should be strengthened. This in- volves sending senior boys and girls from the school, while they still belong there, to live and work for short periods in adult situations, to give them adult responsibilties, but under controlled conditions—the sort of enterprise for which Gordonstoun is well-known. These experiments, as the noble Lord, Lord Willis, has said, are no longer a rarity, but they are not yet common enough. These community service schemes are growing, but they ought to grow more rapidly.

The process of working out the details before they have actually started is itself fruitful of a lot of valuable mutual understanding. Firms employing boys and girls on this sort of secondment become much more sensitive to their capacities and their limitations. Teachers sending them become more aware of the realities of local life just outside the school life. The boys and girls have their eyes and ears opened in many ways and bring new insights into their class work. In passing, I think it is much to be regretted that these developments, the setting up of which has involved so much time and patience from headmasters, are now being diverted by this very premature debate on the merits and demerits of comprehensive education, which has taken the place of consideration of the Newsom Report and is absorbing the energies of so many of the educational authorities.

To come back to the topic of the debate, this initiation into adult life needs thinking out properly and carefully. It is not an easy plan for providing cheap labour—even cheap labour for digging old people's gardens, which is one of the first things people mention when anybody asks what youth Ought to be doing. This is a plan for giving boys and girls an awareness of social responsibility; and any good plan has to be imaginatively and carefully worked out. One that I came across from, I think, Tonbridge illustrates some of the points I am making. This is a scheme whereby certain senior boys, after proper instruction, were given the responsibility for preparing other younger boys in the town for their cycling proficiency tests. If you think of it, my Lords, this enterprise fits its purpose admirably. Here you have certain responsibility of a fairly high order, involving the safety of life and limb of other people, and yet requiring just that sort of knowledge and skill which a 16 or 17 year old boy could reasonably be expected to have; and as a by-product it brings the boys into contact with the local constabulary under favourable conditions. So much for learning more about social responsibility and discharging it, as it were, in part-time activities.

But I think there is a wider aspect here which has not been developed to-day, and that is the discharge of social responsibility through one's main occupation and job. There was a job widely advertised, which your Lordships will fairly easily recognise, and it goes like this Secure job. Excellent promotion. New sick pay scheme. Pension scheme. Free travel. Good sports and social facilities. Average earnings £13 16s. 5d. That is a mere catalogue of what can be got out of a job, encouraging the very thing to which the noble Lord, Lord Baden-Powell, drew our attention—namely, the temptation to young people towards self-indulgence. That advertisement for a job is merely cataloguing all that can be got out of it, and says nothing whatever about its value, its importance, the demands it makes and the opportunities for social responsibility in it.

One must not expect too much, but surely to present any job solely in terms of what can be got out of it is to appeal to and to encourage the wrong motives, and to suppress and eventually to snuff out altogether any sense of social responsibility. Of course young people, when they are looking for jobs, want to know about pay, prospects and pensions. But surely they also want to know whether the job is worth while, and they should be encouraged to ask whether what they mean to do is considered helpful and useful; whether it has any social value, and how it might give to them more.

It is tempting to think that this sort of approach is hardly likely to cut much ice in attracting people into jobs; but I am inclined to think otherwise by a letter which many noble Lords may have seen in The Times on Monday of this week. This was from a Mr. William Allen, writing on behalf of the architects. He wrote that he is satisfied, after his profession had made efforts in this direction, and after he had personally interviewed several hundred candidates for the profession, that belief in the purpose, the meaning and the social value of the work that these people mean to do is a more powerful factor in their choice of a job than any other. I think this is most encouraging, and I well believe he is right. I also believe it is the right motive to appeal to in offering any young people a job. It is a motive which we ought to appeal to with more conviction if we sympathise, as I do, with the terms of this Motion.

6.57 p.m.


My Lords, I think I have spoken only once in your Lordships' House in the past 25 years. At the same time, I plead not guilty to dereliction of duty, because most of the time I have been engaged in the very type of work with which this debate is concerned. It immediately struck me when I saw the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, how closely it fitted in with the words of a great Englishman which are carved on the memorial at H.M.S. "Britannia" (I think it is): See that ye hold fast the heritage we leave you: Yea, and teach your children its value, That never their hearts may fail them nor their hands grow weak. Surely that is exactly what this Motion we are debating to-day is about: seeing that we teach our children the value of the heritage that they have received, which has not just come by chance but is the result of the work and sacrifice of tens of thousands of men and women in high estate, and unknown to all except their friends, through the centuries; which has built the freedom we enjoy and the society into which we have been placed, with all the advantages and privileges, and also with all the responsibilities to see that we do not fritter this heritage away but hand it on, not only undiminished but increased, to those who come after us.

One great influence in the formation of character is hero worship. I believe it to be a necessary part in the full development of the spiritual side of man. In the days when most of us here to-night were children we were brought up on tales of courage, bravery, self-sacrifice and endurance. Those tales still have a thrill for young boys growing up to-day if they are presented rightly; but too often they never hear of them. They hear the life story of the latest "pop" idol. They hear all sorts of trash. But there is very little of the other side of the picture: the story of achievement, courage and sacrifice.

And yet I have been tremendously impressed lately with the way that the young friends of my family whom I have met have been thrilled and enthralled by the television series, The Great War. It has impressed them with the way that those men who died and suffered there built and preserved for us the heritage and passed it on to us. The story in the series of The Age of Kings was a thrilling and enthralling one, which again had tremendous appeal. I only wish that we could get more stories like that—more stories of a similar character, perhaps, for Children's Hour; stories of boys and girls living to-day who have shown themselves capable of great sacrifice and courage; stories of girls and boys who have overcome physical defects and have been an inspiration to all who have met them and seen how bravely they bore, and how gallantly they overcame, the sufferings that were their lot. Of course, when I was Chief Scout, I came across many of these stories and saw them personally, and repeated them all over the Commonwealth on my journeys. The small African boys were just as thrilled at hearing them as our boys at home were thrilled at hearing the stories of their African brothers in the Movement, far away in quite different conditions.

But it is not just enough to talk about these things. One of the things that have struck me very much in recent years is, as the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Norwich, reminded us, the immense increase of human knowledge, and all the problems that that has brought with it in the education of young people to meet the needs of to-day. The result has been that we have all looked for a formula, a short cut. We have forgotten the value of what the noble Baroness, Lady Swanborough, spoke about, of teaching "where, what and why", but not "how". I heard a story not long ago of a man who was always going up to his boss and saying, "What do I do next?", to which the boss said, "For heaven's sake!, use your common sense", to which the reply was, "Sir, common sense is a rare gift from God and I, alas!, have only a technical education." I hope he was not at the Manchester School of Science and Technology, and I hope the noble Lord, Lord Bowden, will forgive me for telling that story. Unfortunately, there are many people to-day who have only a technical education in the sense of that story.

During the war I had the job of developing maturity in young potential officers. They were supposed, often on very slender grounds, to have the germ of leadership in them, and I was supposed to discover it. We had every kind, from the happy moron to what we called the frustrated M.A. The happy moron we could do a great deal for. Of course, the unfrustrated M.A.s had already got their commissions; and so we got only the frustrated ones, who, of course, could pass any examination we liked to give them. They were quite interested so long as we were giving them the bare outline of some things which would add to their comfort in a night on a hill in a snow blizzard. But when we left it in the air and refused to give them the final formula, they felt really frustrated and, unfortunately, our success with them fell from about 70 per cent. down to about 10 per cent.

We have not the time nowadays to teach people to think for themselves. We have not the time to teach them to use their eyes and their ears. And yet once you have opened the ears and eyes of a boy so that he can hear and see, you open his heart also. Life is a very different thing for him from then on: there is no more place for boredom, there is so much going on all around him, now that he has the power to see and hear. I shall never forget the thrill with which so many of those young chaps up on the mountains heard the silence and saw the darkness for the first time. They were no longer afraid of being alone, which had been the bane of their lives before, but which had made them all cluster together. They were no longer afraid of hearing the sounds of nature, which before they had drowned with a gramophone at one end, a piano at the other, and a radio in yet another part of the same room, in which they were all talking at the tops of their voices and not able to hear anything at all.

I believe it is tremendously important to recultivate the senses which have been lost under conditions of civilisation if the boy or girl is to achieve his or her full potential. We have heard a great deal about the community service, about doing things for themselves; and yet one of the tragedies that we have come up against in the Scout Movement is the frustration that we found in dealing with some local authorities who would not allow us to build, even under skilled supervision, our own headquarters, and who made it impossible for us in some back street to get a small plot on which we could erect a second-hand wooden hut until we could collect sufficient money to build something more substantial.

It is not so easy, as has been already noted by some of your Lordships, to do things for ourselves nowadays, because we come up against problems. I hesitate to think what the reply would have been if we had suggested that we should build a swimming pool. We should have had the sanitary inspector, the plumber and the planners round, and goodness knows whom else—all the people who would have been dead long before we could have got the swimming pool started. It is not so easy, and I only wish that the Government could realise how much they are depriving the young people of to-day by making regulations which it is almost impossible for them to carry out, and so depriving them of the opportunity of a place of their own in which they could take a pride, which would give them the self-respect that some of them have lost, in doing things, not only for themselves, but for their fellows. Very much of the trouble to-day is because they have lost their self-respect, and it is our job to try to teach them the heritage which has been left to them so that they may gain their self-respect in passing it on to generations to come.

Now, my Lords, the time is already late and there are a number of you still to contribute to this debate. One could go on for ever, but I am glad to say I am not going to inflict that on your Lordships. So I will sit down, thanking once again the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, for his perspicacity in giving us this most interesting and useful and, if I may say so, inspiring debate.

7.11 p.m.


My Lords, it is late, and I am going to confine myself to a facet of the subject which has not received a great deal of attention in this debate. There is little doubt that the working career of a person, particularly the male, is the most significant, critical issue of his life, and his orientation towards his career is bound to have a tremendous effect upon his behaviour and his character. Unlike adults, who have wives and families, and homes to maintain, young people to-day have a great deal of leisure, and I would suggest that society is entitled to demand of these young people that some part of that leisure be filled in a constructive, educational manner which will better fit them for their own future careers and support the position of our country in the future.

The noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, referred to some of the remarks made to him by Dr. Adenauer with regard to the position in Germany. Quoting from the Crowther Report, I have these figures. Though many leave school in Germany at the age of fourteen to fifteen, 85 per cent. of these young people become apprentices for a period of three years, and 90 per cent. are successful in passing examinations which test the training they undergo. In fact most young people in Germany—and, I think, to a greater extent than in this country or in other European countries—take it for granted that they must undergo some form of training for the careers that lie ahead of them.

Again quoting from the Crowther Report, which was printed in 1959 (and therefore I have to admit that some of my figures culled from it may be out of date), I can give these figures. As we know, one in six of our youth remains at school until the age of eighteen. Only 20 per cent. of those who work in industry or have apprenticeships are allowed day release for education in technical colleges, and 40 per cent., or something near that figure, receive no formal education at all after they leave school at the age of fifteen. Then, out of those who pursue courses for National Certificates, City and Guilds, and so on, some 70 per cent. fail to stay the course or fail in the final examination.

Obviously, there are many facets of this situation for which we cannot hold them in any way responsible; but, leaving aside those aspects of the matter for which Government or local government or other bodies are responsible, leaving aside such matters which are not the responsibility of youth, I think we are entitled to say very loudly to youth to-day: "We expect you to spend some of the leisure which is yours in advancing your own careers". Unless we do so, we shall remain an under-trained nation; for I believe that is what we are to-day.

The Crowther Report, again, had this to say. The numbers of trained men and women which will be needed are far beyond what will flow into the grammar schools, and we shall have to mobilise far more if there are to be not only pure scientists and technologists but the whole army of technicians and craftsmen needed for industry and agriculture. This theme needs dramatising and giving to youth. We need to give them a positive message. "Our country needs more trained people. Are you one of the 40 per cent. of young people who fails to spend any of his leisure time in further education? If so, you are letting us down not only yourself but also your country". In saying this I do not join with those who spend a lot of time criticising the habits of youth to-day, but this has not been said to youth and I think it must be said.

At this point I want to leave my main theme and comment on two strictly industrial matters. I have referred to the fact that there is insufficient opportunity for young people in industry to get day release for education, but there is, in addition, a gross shortage of apprenticeships available to young people in industry to-day, and I think many of us are aware of this. However, I believe this situation is about to be corrected. We have on the Statute Book the Industrial Training Act, and I am familiar with the repercussions of this, so far as the engineering industry is concerned. We are informed that within months we may, as individual engineering companies, have to pay to the Engineering Industries Training Board as a levy up to 2 per cent. of our annual wage bill. That is a very large sum of money. However, each company can recover from the pool thus created sums up to and in excess of the levy that they have paid if they can prove that they have spent such sums on the training of their own or other employees.

I believe that the results will be dramatic. Most companies to-day are examining and costing their own training activities to see the extent of the recovery which they will be able to reclaim, and many, perhaps most, are discovering that their current expenditure falls far short of the levy which they may have to pay. The obvious course is to increase expenditure on training, and I think we shall see a dramatic increase in the number of apprenticeships. This will make a profound contribution to solving the problems we are debating here this afternoon.

My second industrial point is this. It will be said—indeed, it is already being said—by others, in response to the discussion we are having, that the real trouble is the number of dead-end jobs occupied by youngsters. As an industrial manager I am repeatedly having the comment made to me, by people unfamiliar with industry, that it is a soul-destroying place, full of jobs of a highly uncreative nature. Of course there are thousands of people in what can be described as "dead-end" jobs to-day, but the accelerating trend of industry is the steady elimination of work which calls for much muscle and little mind. What is still not altogether clearly understood in society is that wherever the need for the use of discretion or decision by the individual is lower, or absent, then that is the job that can be very simply mechanised. People are needed only where the human mind is needed to make decisions.

We are faced to-day with the need in industry for a more and more highly trained population, not for a growing number of button pushers, as is so often thought to be the case. The future for our young people is not by any means perfect, but it is brighter than it has ever been before in history. The trouble is that many intelligent people see others doing work which to them would be extremely boring; and they assume that the individual doing that work is equally bored. But we are not all equal in intellectual attainment, and boredom is a situation in which the level of work-being done is below the work capacity of the individual who is doing it. In fact, there is no such thing as boring work. There are, however, plenty of instances of a bad match between the work capacity of the individual and the level of work that he is asked to do. If you have any real morons about you find for them moronic work and they will not be bored.

I do not think that we have any problems in this respect, but I do feel it is time that we got rid of some of our own damaging illusions. People are no longer used in industry as sources of physical energy; they are employed because they have minds, not because they have muscles. And this is one of the benefits that the application of science through technology in industry has brought to us. I have made this point about work and boredom because we must avoid that exaggerated and pessimistic attitude which suggests that the future of ordinary people is condemned by the horrors of automated industry. I believe quite the opposite is the case.

Turning back to my main theme, I believe there is in society to-day some degree of alienation between generations, but I do not think it ought to surprise us. It is due to the accelerating rate of change and conditions. Frankly, the older generations cannot keep up with this rate of change. When the young say that we are not "with it" I do not think it is altogether a frivolous criticism. When we look at our trade unions, our industries, the law, the City, or, indeed, some of the procedures in this our own House, we ought to blush. Youth sees nothing to admire in much that we accept as the natural order of things. So a sort of rift of non-understanding develops the greater the rate of change from which we benefit or suffer, as you care to look at it; and this causes many of us older people to hesitate in giving the lead that we should. But this abdication on our part worsens the situation. We shall reach the stage soon, if we do not watch out, where youth can say of us, "Poor dears!, they don't really know what they want".

There are all sorts of responsibilities and duties which our teenagers ought to face up to. They have been referred to by many other speakers in this debate, and I will not try to catalogue them. But we must indicate loudly and clearly to youth what they are. That is our job as their elders. I have confined my remarks to this one point of trying to get our youth to face up to this very serious business of preparing themselves and spending their leisure zealously obtaining training for their own future careers. I want it said loudly and clearly, not only because I am anxious about youth but because I am anxious about the economic future of this country. We can, so to speak, perhaps kill two birds with one stone if we treat these facets of the problem of youth with as much seriousness as any other facet we have discussed in this debate this afternoon.

May I end by suggesting this in the form of a question? Are the Government, or the Opposition, or the Press, or the B.B.C., or our schools or our youth services, or the parents of children in this country, saying to youth to-day what really needs to be said?—to wit: "We need more trained doctors, nurses, engineers, teachers, technicians, craftsmen" (I will not go any further with the list) and you, youth, must fit yourselves to take up these essential occupations in the years to come. Those are the opportunities which are open to you and you must take them up."

7.25 p.m.


My Lords, in debates on social matters in your Lordships' House often the same names of noble Lords seem to appear on the list of speakers, and they are often, if I may say so, headed by the noble Earl the Leader of the House, who I am very glad to see is to wind up this evening for the Government. I feel we may not have all the answers, but nobody can say we are not persistent or do not try.

In rising to speak this evening, I am not going to cover so much the ground of the educational side of youth, but I wish to deal more with the emotional development of the character of the child and adolescent. These problems are, I think, becoming more strained at the present time as the competitive situation concerning examinations becomes more marked. And there is a danger, through this, as the medical world will say, that a child may swing easily, through worry and strain, towards a form of neurosis.

To try to compete with this situation I want to put a few points which are points of experts, not mine. The first one is awareness of teaching of social responsibility; the second, less authority between staff and child, between teacher and pupil, and more respect of the individual child.

Thirdly, community activities for children in primary as well as secondary schools should be more marked. In fact what I am leading up to is the emotional development of the child. If he is to become aware of his social responsibilities this must take place through all these phases.

I do not want to tackle the teachers on the question of education, because I think this problem is somewhat outside their control, and the growing up of the child must not be judged only on the success of this; I feel strong account must also be taken of the failures. There is no doubt that, as we have heard earlier in this debate, the child mind develops to-day much sooner, much more quickly. I may be wrong, but I feel that because of this the bracket between the generations has in some ways grown wider, though I believe the understanding is much closer. I think the age groups have grown wider. One of the things that impressed me deeply, looking back over the lying-instate of Sir Winston Churchill, was seeing pictures in the papers and on the news reels of the number of young people who were queueing, hour by hour, to go through Westminster Hall. I felt very strongly that somehow our generation, my generation and the young generation, through this had closed together very considerably. This was one point that they were wanting to understand and did understand; they understood our position in regard to it, and I think it was a very encouraging sign.

I want to quote a true story of a boy who obtained three "A" levels at school, which proves that the intelligence was there. Then the child collapsed emotionally. The problem of emotional development has, as we know, many causes. Home environment must basically be the primary cause. If the home is disjointed, if the home is unhappy, there is real danger from this angle of maladjustment starting and a chance that the maladjusted child may not be discovered at school for some years. This also is a danger. I think another most important point is the fact that parents now feel, if there is a serious problem with a child in the home that they now cannot deal with easily, that there are experts, such as social psychologists and so on, who will cope. So, in a sense, it is "Over to you, the State, to deal with" This is a serious matter, because if this control and confidence of the parent and concern over the child is lost, we are in a serious difficulty.

As we know, psychology is advancing at great speed. I agreed with the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Norwich in all he said concerning the modern trend of psychiatry. We know that this is a young science, and I think that any skilled psychologist or psychiatrist would agree that what he said about the question of truth of the conscience is most important. I agree with him in everything he said.

Taking the situation as a whole, I believe that many educationists are worried lest the purely teaching side is being forced a little too fast while the emotional side, with all the responsibility that it brings, is being left behind. A safety gap valve for the child and a time to think are most important.


My Lords, would the noble Lord not agree that emotional training is something that has hardly been worked out at all yet? We used to have character training. Emotional training is where the future lies to a great extent, but at the moment it has not gone beyond this point.


My Lords, I could not agree more with the noble Earl the Leader of the House; but what I am trying to say is that basically it is the parents' job, and parents can in many ways overcome the problem in the initial stages. If they can do that, the battle is won. I agree that this is a great field in which advancement is still to come. I do not know if this exists—I am ignorant on this point—but I am wondering whether, in the schools, some form of group therapy, in a very mild and not advanced form, could be given under a trained teacher, whereby a child could talk out its problems, not only about the school but about home. Might that not be possible? I think that in that way there is a possibility that strain in a child might be detected.

In a debate on Leisure I put to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Science—in fact when we were sitting on the Benches opposite—the possibility of a few camps being formed. I did not have much success then. It is worth another try. In that debate I asked whether it would be possible to have a few camps, organised, probably, in conjunction with the schools, where children who proved to be slightly difficult, or obviously rather full of energy, could go and do mild forms of mountaineering. I was not suggesting an advanced course. One does not want to put the challenge too high. I suggested two or three camps to see whether such a scheme proved a success. There may not be anything in this idea, but I believe that it could develop into something important.

In conclusion, I should like to say that I am quite certain that the whole basis of the problem of the maladjusted or neurotic child goes back to the family unit. If control by the family is lost at this stage, then we are faced with a difficulty. It is easy for this to happen, by reason of the freedom and outlets that children have, and also the money they have. Money is a rather important factor. A child with a tendency to be neurotic will develop and become unstable. This is the child who in fact, as he grows older, becomes a real menace to society, and certainly will never, so long as he is in this state, be able to face the full responsibilities of a fully integrated person.

7.36 p.m.


My Lords, I venture to hope, at this time of the evening, that part of the significance of a debate of this kind is that some kind of convergence of opinion should emerge from the process of debate. This, I think, has impressively happened during the long discussion which has taken place in your Lordships' House to-day. All I can hope to do is perhaps to reinforce one or two pleas which have already made their appearance in the discussion. Other speakers have already said, much better than I could hope to do, some of the things I wanted to say—and I am referring especially to the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, and to the noble Lord, Lord Willis, who gave us such a vigorous contribution. My two main pleas are simply these: first, for a greater readiness on the part of public authorities of every kind to envisage all social problems as involving voluntary youth service in their solution; and secondly, that we may stress that the proper place of youth in the community is in full association with all other elements and not, too self-consciously, as an isolated ingredient of society.

On the first point, about the need for a much greater readiness on the part of many kinds of authorities to offer opportunity, I think the evidence we have already heard to-night is overwhelming. I was recently struck, attending the speech day of a school in my part of the world—a good school, perched on the top of a high hill—to hear the head boy say, in the course of a really witty annual report, that, "The School this year has been going downhill", and he went on rapidly to explain that what he meant was that in large numbers the boys had been literally going down hill to those parts of the city where their voluntary service was much needed. On all sides, one finds this eagerness to be of service; yet one must admit that on all sides there is evidence of a reluctance to evoke it. Reading the Annual Report of the Director of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme, I came across this sentence: In spite of much heartening news of service by young people resulting from the Award Scheme, there continues to be some degree of frustration in the matter of giving service, attributable largely to a dark reluctance to trust youth with responsibility". Then I would quote two other sentences which I think touched off my desire to speak in this debate, when it eventually arrived on your Lordships' Order Paper. They are both quotations from that man to whom other tributes have been paid to-night, Mr. Alec Dickson, to whom we all owe so much for the vision which launched Voluntary Service Overseas, and who is now devoting himself with the same enthusiasm to Community Voluntary Service at home. In a letter to the Guardian some time ago, he described the experiment in which it was possible for the Avon Canal to be partly mended by voluntary labour afforded by the Home Office, who enabled prisoners to join in the work.

He wrote: We, too, have reason to be grateful to the Home Office for welcoming the attachment of volunteers to serve amongst young offenders, but if the Welfare State is to become a community that cares—if young people, not in hundreds but in thousands, are to feel genuinely needed—then we may have to regard Britain as an undeveloped country, viewing every social problem in the light of how volunteers can be involved in its solution. Shortly afterwards, in a letter in The Times, he wrote about a number of imaginative experiments such as were described by the noble Lord, Lord Willis, but then went on to say: At present these efforts are quantitatively pitifully small. Whilst so much more could be achieved with greater resources, money is not in fact the heart of the matter. And though the numbers involved so far are few, this is because until now no drive for recruitment has been made, lest difficulty be experienced in placing them. What is missing in this country is neither funds nor volunteers—but a whole dimension in public thinking, an awareness of what the young have to give to Britain. There is no need at this stage of the debate to add, as I might have done, and could have done, to the intriguing list which Lord Willis gave us of ingenious ways in which the young are ready to serve. I myself should love to try to discover how you wire an alarm clock to a hair-drier to enable you to wake up in the morning if you happen to be deaf. But these are only examples of the kind of way in which service is available.

There is one other thing I might mention which has not so far been mentioned, and that is the kind of work camp which is organised by such bodies as the World Council of Churches and the British Council of Churches, in which it is possible not only to have an international but also to have an interestingly inter-confessional body of young people getting to know each other as they serve. There was, for example, a recent camp sponsored by the churches at Kingsley Hall, Bow, in East London, where a group of some 25 young people, including Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Continental Reformed, as well as Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians and Quakers, lived together for a month and undertook three separate pieces of service.

They assisted in a survey of the neighbourhood by visiting the newly-built blocks of flats, endeavouring to find out the leisure time and recreational activities of the children and young people as part of a survey being carried out by Kingsley Hall to know how to meet the needs and interests of that area. They also ran a children's play centre during the holiday month of August in which 200 children were in regular attendance, to the great gratitude of their parents. They undertook the responsibility of taking children to hospital for treatment, another service which was much appreciated. On the last Sunday they all attended Mass in the local Catholic Church, and led the congregation in the singing of the Gelineau psalms, which will be known to some of your Lordships. This is typical of the kind of international and inter-confessional work which camps of this kind can do.

Yet it remains true that the list of the things which are yet to be attempted is still long. We heard some interesting remarks indeed just now from the noble Lord, Lord Brown, about the relationship between brains and brawn, but it still, surely, remains true, whatever may be the long-term future of automation, that there are here and now in Britain many tasks for which the primary need is simply helping hands and the vision to see that they might be done. For example, in towns the landscaping of bomb-sites, the planting of trees, the clearance of rubble, the creation of small open spaces, the repair and maintenance of walls, railings and historic features such as monuments and clock towers; along with the redecoration of the houses of people who would welcome such help because they cannot do it themselves. There are many comparable opportunities in the countryside, such as the removal of derelict buildings and other eyesores, the opening of blocked footpaths, streams, woodlands, canals and beach accesses, and much else. I mention this because quite recently on a visit to Scotland I was thrilled to discover what is in fact being done there, under the auspices of Enterprise Youth, which has been set up with the help of the Scottish Education Department and the Scottish Council of Social Service, in association with the National Trust in Scotland, to do precisely this kind of useful service.

However, as more than one speaker has pointed out, there is a grave danger that when imaginative plans of this kind are mooted some authority somewhere interferes, like a tiresome, tedious aunt, with nothing better than to say simply, "No". Can we not have a totally new kind of expectation in the thinking of public authorities so that their approach is not, from the beginning, negative in the way that it too often is? Clearly, there will be need for some organisation. for some kind of, at least, clearance, if not that dangerous word "co-ordination", let alone either rationalisation or nationalisation. These ideas should be seriously entertained in the National Youth Development Council, and there should be an extension of the Youth Service to encourage the taking of those who are still at school into projects of this kind, and a generous provision of finance to make it possible.

All this, if it is not to be regarded as simply the thinking up of artificial jobs, has to be seen in the wider context of regarding youth, at its healthiest, as being, not a self-conscious and isolated element in the community, treated as something peculiar, but an integral part of the community as such. For it is only if the community as such genuinely sees tasks of this kind to be desirable tasks, and is itself engaged in some way in carrying them out, that properly self-respecting young people will see the worth whileness of doing it; for they will not see any point in simply being kept employed on things which other people think will keep them out of mischief. This is the totally wrong approach, as noble Lords have recognised in the debate to-day. There is no need to fear any imputations of the beginnings of a Hitlerjugend, for the voluntary is still compatible with a clear and emphatic leadership in freedom. We have indeed much to be grateful for, as many of your Lordships have stressed, in the post-Albemarle Youth Service. It has indeed, in a way that has evoked the gratitude of millions of young people, done much to provide for their needs, but this surely needs also to be matched by a corresponding emphasis on the need to evoke from them the service which what has been provided for them enables them better to give.

My two pleas really, then, fuse into one. I would echo ardently the plea made by the noble Lord, Lord Willis, for opportunities to be given, and to be given by the acknowledged leaders of the community, so that the young may know themselves to be part of a community with a purpose. If in that sense we give them the opportunity to serve we shall certainly discover that the service has been rendered to us all.

7.50 p.m.


My Lords, you will have noticed with relief that I am the tip of the tail. I join with others in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, on having successfully launched a second marathon campaign debate on youth so soon after the other which was so ably launched by the noble Lord, Lord Newton, only the other day.

I had hoped to be present during the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Baden-Powell, but I was called out of the Chamber by somebody even younger than himself, and I returned to find his speech nearly over. So I do at least congratulate him on its brevity and on his youth, and on his name, which is as splendid as any other in history. I am glad to follow the right reverend Prelate from Bristol, because in a sense I am in his diocese. Although from a Church of England point of view I am in Bath and Wells, as a Roman Catholic I am in Clifton, so I am really in his diocese.

Owing to the lateness of the hour, I propose to scrap most of what I wanted to say, but I should like to pick on one of the trees in the wood and to adopt a different metaphor, because, although I used to be a forester I am now a farmer. The theme I have been following in this line for some thirty years or more is better expressed by: "Be sure you know your own lands." I want to start by an illustration in connection with the speech of the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Southwark.

I went to his district 35 years ago in order to run a section of a working boys' club, and I did that until it was wound up by the war. I visited the homes of my boys as the bombs were raining down and destroying them. Yesterday I revisited the site—the club, the primary school (which was new, because the area had been bombed), the church, the secondary school—and I spoke to some of those who had been boys in my club.

I used to run a club for boys of from 11 to 14 years because I thought it was a good thing. I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, thinks that the running of clubs will be a good thing in the future, but people were doing it in 1936 when I started, although there was controversy as to whether it was too soon or in competition for accommodation that could be better used for others. I must say that yesterday's visit was a most splendid eye-opener as regards improvement. It was hard to believe that it is the same place. The schools are transformed; the accommodation is transformed; the people look different, and the variety of things to do in the schools certainly exceeds what is available for my daughter at her public school. There has been a tremendous change; and, so far as I can see, it is a complete change for the better. I talked to a few of those who were left, and they agreed that there is an improvement, that things are better and that, educationally, the position is not the same at all. I was a pre-Butler Act worker down there, and we have moved ahead a very long way.

I want to stress my theme, briefly, through the primary school which I visited. It has 430 children in it, and I spoke to the children, to the Head and to some of the teachers. The Head knows everybody. As well as knowing all the staff, she knows everybody's parents, every home; and so do quite a number of her teachers. When I was an instructor at Sandhurst, I took the trouble to know every one of 600 cadets. By the second Friday of the term—it was a great effort—I knew them better than anyone else; and I could say, "Good morning, so-and-so" to every one of 600 cadets. I also wrote 350 character reports each term for those who wanted them. So I know the kind of difficulty that there is.

The eleven-plus examination has gone, and the Head has Primary School Profile—a document which I have here—which asks instead for all kinds of character and scholastic and other attainments, dispositions, handicaps and home background, in order to make a decision as to which group the primary school leavers will go when they move up next summer. The assessment cannot be done in the school time, and I am wondering how many Heads are going to be able to achieve this admirable object. I do not believe they have done it before and even this particular Head who knows everybody—not merely by having a card index, but knowing everybody on sight, and their homes—will have difficulty in coping with it.

There are so many difficulties which come to light, in deciding which children should go up, if one does not have the routine method of the examination. The home is probably only one room. Is it to be television or homework; or is it to be the mother going out as an office cleaner for the night? I am assured by everybody that, unless there is going to be homework, it is a waste of time to put children in a higher stream. It is obvious, however, that in this school which I visited everybody is known, and it has all the appearance of being a good show.

It is much the same with the secondary school, although I did not go into that in such detail. But for all the school-leavers whom I saw and of whom I asked questions, there is a change in outlook. For instance, when I was in the area everybody went either into the Surrey Docks or to Hay's Wharf, to storage, to the brewery or to Jacob's biscuit factory. There were a few places into which they all went. When I asked the children yesterday, practically none of them mentioned these places, and some of the girls had decided that they were going into banks, West End banks or City banks Some of them with the lowest I.Q.s successfully do needlework in the West End. There was every sort of variety. There were dresses in the process of being completed, and one felt that things were going well—in farming terms, that the lambs were known and were being looked after and cared for. There was every sign of a good spirit and an immense change for the better.

I have tried to find out, not so much there but in other places, what happens when the "lambs" go to work. I have asked a number of people—the boys themselves, the directors of industry—and I will give an illustration from someone outside that area to whom I spoke the day before yesterday, because it is so good. He said, "When people come to us we give them an induction course for a couple of days. Everything that we do, and our purpose, is explained to them." His firm has about 1,800 employees, so it is of a considerable size. The employees are shown every process and are set to work after having everything explained to them. The firm has a review every year on the employee's birthday. Where an employee is still under eighteen there is a review twice a year, with a view to considering whether the employee should be moved, promoted or given more pay. The employees are visited in hospital, as is done in the Army, and are given their pay by a member of the firm.

This, so far as I can see, is the sort of way that we were brought up in the Army—to know everybody for whom we were responsible. It is not merely as a card index: it is knowing the people. This man said, "We know everybody; I know everybody". I asked, "Do you ever have any real trouble?" He replied, "Nobody can say he is not going to have trouble to-morrow, but I am retiring next month and we have not had trouble yet." I think he would say, with Napoleon—and I think it was the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, who mentioned this—"There are no bad soldiers: there are only bad officers." Transposed into industrial terms, I think that is what he would say. It is almost what he said, in fact.

I checked it from the other angle, and I asked some of the working men—people who I know are good and all right—whether they thought an employer could change the whole picture. They denied it. They were from a different environment, and they denied it. Some of them said, "The chief handicap of the young in industry is the old workers on their own level". That was their view, and I dare say there is truth in both viewpoints; because unless somebody takes control and knows everybody, the tone is bound to be bad—one knows it from the Army—among the older men. So these lambs going to market, as it were, go into an atmosphere which is needlessly crude and sometimes blasphemous, and where there is sometimes petty persecution—anyway, all the things that develop if a finger is not on the pulse from the top.

That, I suggest, is one of the main points at which knowing the young breaks down—the point at which some of them go into work. The clubs, as many speakers to-day have said, get some. There are always unclubbable people. All the unclubbable people came into the club I started. They stayed until I asked them to pay their penny a week. They were six weeks or so in arrears. I decided they should go, and they went. There is a kind of discipline and control that you cannot keep in a club: there are the unclubbables. Nevertheless, somebody, somewhere in industry, should surely be in a position to control them, manage them and know them, and they should know him and be able to come and talk to him when there is any difficulty. That is the theme which I should like to add to this debate; and with that, my Lords, I shall sit down.

8.3 p.m.


My Lords, even after a score of speeches, the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, can be relied upon to say something fresh and original, and I only wish I thought it would be possible, a little later on, for someone to say the same of me. I am sure we all feel that this debate has been rendered memorable by many speeches, including the maiden effort of the noble Lord, Lord Baden-Powell. One often listens to maiden speeches which are well-informed and graceful, but I do not remember, for a long time back, a maiden speech which was quite so moving as that of the noble Lord, Lord Baden-Powell. And in this atmosphere it was altogether suitable that the noble Lord, Lord Rowallan, should make one of his rare appearances. If I do not attempt to follow his profound argument, I am afraid he will share the fate, so to speak, of being somewhat ignored, in company with a number of other speakers, including the noble Lord, Lord Brown, and the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, who struck rather different notes from others.

All the speeches will, of course, be studied very carefully by the Government. Indeed, I do not aspire to answer this debate: only to play my part at the end of it, or nearly the end of it. No one, so far as I know, has asked me a question which could be answered, and no one has attacked this particular Government, so far as I know, which would have cast on me the burden of defence. So I will just cast my mind into the common pool, somewhat inhibited, but I hope not hopelessly inhibited, by the fact that in previous debates of this kind I spoke from the other side of this House, whereas in this one I speak with the due responsibility of a Minister.

The noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, has rendered many notable services to our country, in war and peace, and I am sure will render many more; but I am doubtful whether in a single day he has ever rendered a more signal service than that of starting this debate and of speaking as he did. If I may say so, it was an ideal opening speech in a far-reaching debate. Naturally, I shall be returning to a number of points made in his speech, but, if I may, I should like to congratulate him in particular on the balanced attitude which he adopted towards youth. It was essentially generous, but it was not in any way fulsome.

I think he struck the exact balance; and in that respect he was followed by other speakers, including the noble Marchioness, Lady Reading. I do not know whether either of them happens to recall a passage in Sir Winston Churchill's memoirs about the Oxford Union resolution not to fight for King and Country—a resolution which was passed in 1933, a month or two after Hitler arrived in power in Germany—but Sir Winston, writing after the war, of course, said: Little did the foolish boys who passed that resolution know that they were to conquer or die gloriously, and prove themselves the finest generation ever bred in Britain. I felt that the speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, of the noble Marchioness, Lady Reading, and many others were rather an extension of that line.

The noble Lord, Lord St. Just, has now left us, so I am afraid his speech does not come in for review or reply, but he made a particularly interesting speech—I see the noble Lord has just resumed his seat. I would take up the point he made about the tremendous devotion—perhaps a somewhat mystified devotion, but a very genuine devotion—that the young showed to Sir Winston Churchill when he died. This, I think, will be carried on into future generations. I found an opportunity of visiting his grave at Bladon, and found mothers carrying small children past the grave; so I think it will be carried on into future generations. But it was very striking. Furthermore, I think the first young man past the bier, who had stayed up all night, was wearing a C.N.D. badge, which again showed the extraordinary power that real greatness can exercise over idealistic youth.

The noble Lord, Lord Rowallan, was just as concerned—and nobody could be more concerned—about the welfare of the young, but he was possibly concerned more in another sense. He seemed more worried about them. I think I heard him say that they had, for the time being, at least, lost part of their self-respect; and there I would venture to differ, although it is one of these differences that no one can really prove either way.


My Lords, my intention was merely to say that of the very small minority which had caused the trouble.


I am very glad to be corrected, because I was rather worried lest the noble Lord thought that this applied to youth as a whole, and that he was, of course, setting out to try and put it right.


Oh, no.


It might have been so; but I am glad he was not as pessimistic as I feared.

My Lords, there are, of course, a number of difficulties about even attempting to give any satisfying reply to speeches which will, I hope, between them, collectively exercise a real influence in time to come. I should like to think—and I hope this is not egotistic because I initiated that debate; and there may be some veterans of it here to-day—that the debate which we held in this House in 1959 on the Youth Service was not only the first held in either House on the subject, but was not without some effect on the Albemarle Report that followed. But it is the speeches as a whole that matter.

The Government have been in office for only about four months, and I do not think that noble Lords will expect them in that time to have formulated new policies in this field, where it is notoriously difficult to give practical expression to one's ideals. But some concrete proposals have been put forward which, of course must one day be answered one way or the other. The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, in his very interesting speech—and we know that he is a veteran of these friendly struggles in the House on the subject of youth—suggested among other proposals that the age of youth service should be reduced to eleven. As he knows, organisations receive help even if some of their members are under the minimum age; but I would agree that help is at present concentrated on the older groups. I must ask his leave to allow that point, among others, to be considered.

It would be possible to deliver an entire lecture—in fact, more than one lecture—about the services which the young are now rendering: the service by youth, in addition to the service of youth. I think that a pretty good document could be put together from some of the illustrations that have been offered this afternoon. I am assured by the National Association of Youth Clubs, whose opinion I would accept as possessing a lot of authority in this field, that some kind of voluntary community service has now become accepted as a normal part of youth service and a normal part of most youth club programmes. That is going further than I should myself expect to be able to go; but if the National Association of Youth Clubs say this, it should be mentioned to the House. It shows a very encouraging trend.

We have been given a number of illustrations—Task Force, 1964; for instance. I certainly join in the great admiration for what I believe it is doing and for the inspirational force of the young man who started it. Then there is Voluntary Service Overseas, in which, of course, the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, has done a great deal of work; and we have heard a good deal about that this afternoon. The Community Service volunteers were mentioned, and we could have heard of other examples.

But I take an example from a different field. In the approved schools the boys are now given the opportunity of service. In the North-East some boys from an approved school worked in their leisure hours on the restoration of a harbour wall, and as a result were awarded the first prize in the Guinness Youth Awards that year. In the National Parks boys from approved schools have helped to demolish derelict buildings, clear debris and in other ways. In fact, one local newspaper wrote recently of one approved school, under the caption "A Helping Hand": Any fears that the school would be a liability have been dispelled over the years. The school overlooks the town. Agitation which the introduction of the school caused has now completely died down, and there would apparently be a counter-agitation, an agitation of the opposite kind, if the school were moved. All that, of course, is very welcome news.

I appreciate that there are other noble Lords who have spoken, notably the noble Lord, Lord Willis, the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Bristol, and others, who have stated strongly that this has not gone anything like far enough. Their views must be taken very seriously in the appropriate quarters. But, while I naturally hope that much more could be done (and I am sure that it will be done, as time passes), I feel that it is a question of how much energy and how much inspiration comes to our assistance here. I must not let loose a bee in my own bonnet about which I lectured last year to the National Association of Youth Clubs; but I believe (though it is perhaps best if we do not get too much involved in delinquency to-day) that the young can help the young, and particularly the young delinquent. By that I do not only mean by visiting the camps or the borstals or approved schools, valuable as that is, but actually helping the young when they come out of these institutions. From some points of view these are the most unrecoverable of all unrecoverable boys: they are further out than the unattached in the general sense. But I will not dwell on that, though I should like to give a large part of my own time to that idea of helping to bring together the orthodox young and the young delinquents.

My Lords, these introductory remarks have carried me well into the subject and lead me to a consideration of the request of the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, that we should draw up and carry out a kind of National Plan for Youth. Some speakers were a little nervous about this, but once the question of nationalisation versus rationalisation was cleared up, I do not think there was very much anxiety about it—although the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, was perhaps pessimistic. May I say, in passing, that I feel that the noble Viscount was wrong in suggesting that the Welfare State could not be an ideal. I think that anyone who worked with the late Lord Beveridge, and millions who did not, can think of the Welfare State as an ideal. All these things depend on the way one regards them; but I would put it to the noble Viscount that the Welfare State can be an ideal, at any rate as considered by a large proportion of our population.

Turning to the question of a national plan—and I speak primarily for my own Party (although these are not Party issues, and I speak for my Party because I am more qualified to speak for them)—I would remind noble Lords that in 1959, just before the General Election, the Labour Party Youth Commission, set up by the late Hugh Gaitskell with the present Lord Chancellor as Chairman, produced a far-reaching Report. The noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, is aware, though other noble Lords may have forgotten, that one of the proposals of the Gardiner Commission was that the right to vote should be acquired at 18, instead of the age of 21, which was the point the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, brought up to-day. That has been left over until now; but, as the House is aware, a Speakers' Conference is expected shortly, and the proposal for voting at 18 will no doubt be among the proposals which will be considered by that Conference. The House will be well aware that I say this without any kind of commitment, one way or the other, on the issue. But it is certain to be considered by this impending Speakers' Conference.

I mentioned the Gardiner Report because in that Report the problem of youth was viewed as a whole. It was not just a Report on the Youth Services; it was a report on youth as a whole. The chapter headings, for example, were "Learning", "Playing", "Earning", "Marrying", "Living". They would have dealt with the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Brown. They dealt with points of that kind, and not only with those which are usually covered in these youth debates. But I would just mention, with some little pride, although I was not a member of the Commission (my wife was; but perhaps enough has been said about her to-day), that I was very much interested in that Commission; and among the chapter on "Living" the first among the principal recommendations was a suggestion that opportunities ought to be offered for voluntary community service. That was six years ago; and I should like noble Lords to be aware that we were keenly interested in it then.

If you take the thinking of the Labour Party, which no doubt will ultimately be expressed in the present Government's policy, and take it over the last few years, you can say that a starting point was to be found in the Gardiner Report. It could fairly be called a global approach, which is not the same thing as saying that there is an organised plan. The noble Lord may or may not consider that the Gardiner Report offers a plan, but at any rate it is an approach to youth as a whole.

I will not deal with the question of delinquency any further to-day, though, of course, I was Chairman of the Committee which produced the Labour Party Report on this matter last year. I should like to quote a sentence from the Introduction to that Report: Opportunities for young people to develop and use to the full all their latent talents and frustrated energies—mental as well as physical—are not only their right but also the community's greatest safeguard against hooliganism, vandalism and anti-social behaviour generally. Again, we refer to youth as a whole. We do not regard youth as composed mainly of delinquents, nor suggest that we must separate the good and the bad. Our attitude is that we have to take them as they are, as a complete generation.

May I remind the House that the present policy of the Government for leisure and recreation is based on the Labour Party booklet, Leisure for Living. As your Lordships know, we now have Miss Jennie Lee and Mr. Denis Howell in the Department of Education, with special responsibilities for the arts and for sport. The former has recently produced an important White Paper and the latter has become Chairman of the newly formed Sports Development Council. I will not pursue this aspect, but we hope that a lot will be done for youth under these heads.

It may be rash, and rather foolish, to claim that, already, in the early days of the Labour Government, all these Governmental activities are perfectly coordinated. There are those who may wish to see closer co-operation than has ever existed in the past between the Home Office and the Ministry of Education, and there are many other ways in which one can think that more co-ordination is desirable. But I cannot say more to the noble Lord on the general question of coordination than that it seems to me one of the most important issues that has come up in the debate and one that must be studied as carefully as possible.

I must now say a few words about the development of the Youth Service. I argued in 1959, in that first debate on the Youth Service, that the Youth Service had been shamefully neglected. The noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, considered that it had been scandalously neglected, but I do not think that the difference between "shameful" neglect and "scandalous" neglect is very great. This was a view shared by many speakers on that occasion, and I do not think that the Minister of the time dissented very strongly. I remember pointing out, as did other noble Lords, that only one penny was being spent on the youth service for every pound spent on education as a whole.

The publication of the Albemarle Report in 1960 will always be a landmark in the history of the Youth Service of this country; and lucky indeed were we, as a country, to find someone like Lady Albemarle to take the chair of that Committee. There was no doubt that there followed a revival of interest in the Youth Service. The Minister of Education of the day, the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, as he is now, gave an admirable lead by becoming Chairman of the newly-created Youth Service Development Council, and there was a willingness to share in the improvement and expansion of the Service among both local authorities and voluntary bodies.

The money spent on the Youth Service, however one judged it absolutely, was considerably larger than anything we had seen previously. In 1957-58, the direct expenditure on the Youth Service by the Ministry and local authorities combined was a little over £2¾ million, or one penny in every pound spent on education. For 1964-65, direct expenditure on the Youth Service by the Department and authorities combined is likely to amount to £8-1 million, or nearly three times as much as in 1957-58. But, of course, expenditure on education generally has gone up a good deal meanwhile, so that does not mean that for every pound spent on education 3d. will be spent on the Youth Service. In fact, it means that 1-8d. in every pound spent on education will go on the Youth Service, which is still fairly good. I am not claiming for the present Government credit for this improvement, because in fact it was achieved in the time of our predecessors.

We must hope that we shall do still better as time goes on.

Before the publication of the Albemarle Report in 1960, the total value of building for the Youth Service amounted to less than £1 million a year. For each of the last three years, the programme has amounted to about £4½ million worth of "starts". I do not know whether the figures are completely comparable, but I fancy that they are. So there has been a considerable expansion, though still on a small scale.

Various speakers have emphasised the need for youth leaders. The Albemarle Committee recommended that the number of full-time youth leaders should be increased from 700, the number in 1959, to 1,300 in 1966, and good progress is being made towards this target, though it must be said that it is still very small. But it is fair to point out that there has been a similar expansion in the number of part-time leaders. The Youth Service Development Council was set up in 1960 to meet the expanding needs of the Youth Service in ways which would attract young people who are not connected with any part of it, as well as to stimulate the work of those already in the field. At the end of last year, a Committee of the Development Council, under the chairmanship, I am glad to say, of Lady Albemarle, was appointed to re-examine the objectives of the Albemarle Report and to decide upon further developments. I think that this fact is of great importance.

It is clear that our concern, and, no doubt, the initiative taken during the time of the last Government, show that it is recognised that a turning point has come. And though it is difficult, almost unwise, to offer one's own opinion, even with a good deal of expert advice, I cannot help raising the question: Five years after the Albemarle Report, how does it seem things are going? Obviously, I cannot commit the Government to these estimates, though I have had a good deal of help. There is no doubt that in those years the need to experiment has been recognised much more widely. The rapid development of adventure centres has gone on faster than anyone expected, and there has been a welcome expansion of the voluntary community service, of service by youth to the community. Yet the overall picture of the Youth Service remains very patchy. The Ministry of Education asked authorities, after Albemarle, to draw up working plans for action over the next few years, and in doing so to consult fully with their voluntary partners at all stages. To-day, all that one can say is that the provision by local authorities is still incredibly varied, so that some young people in some parts of the country are having much greater opportunities than the young people in other parts. One must take note of that.

Just as varied is the co-operation, or lack of it, between statutory and voluntary organisations. In some places it is very good, but as the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, pointed out feelingly—obviously, he had suffered from it—in some places this co-operation is quite inadequate. I am afraid that there is no getting round this fact. In short, one is bound to feel that the expansion and, to some extent, the enthusiasm that followed publication of the Albemarle Report have slowed down markedly of late. Perhaps that was bound to happen—but certainly there is little doubt that it has occurred. The first impetus has worn off and some new incentive to action is badly needed.

The Minister directly responsible for the Youth Service, Mr. Denis Howell, a gentleman with exceptional energy who cares passionately for these things, pointed the way in a powerful speech in another place on December 4. I commend his remarks to noble Lords and will not repeat them now. But the simple fact is—and this was brought out in the debate—that the proportion of our young people making use of the Youth Service is not noticeably different from what it was when the Albemarle Committee reported. It is about one-third now, and it was one-third then. It is a larger total number, but the same proportion of a larger figure. It is still only one-third, and no doubt a large number of the remaining two-thirds are engaged in some kind of voluntary activities. So one must not talk as if two-thirds were unattached in some regrettable sense. But if we take the Youth Service to-day, we must face the fact that only one-third are still using it.

The noble Lord, Lord Sandford, in a speech which should be answered much more carefully than I could attempt to do now (and when I say "answered", I do not mean refuted—far from it—but should be followed up) pointed out that the people who need the service most are those who do not draw on it. That is a fact of which we must all be aware. We can take pride in the fact, however, that the number of young people staying on at school beyond the compulsory age, and therefore obtaining some education and discipline, has year after year exceeded all expectations. I took some trouble to obtain figures—they could probably be pulled to pieces, and in a sense I think it could be said that they are not so significant—and I should like to give them to your Lordships.

If you take the 15-year-olds, you find that a high proportion are staying on after the age of 15 because they cannot leave; but if you take the proportion of 15-year-olds who stay on longer than they need, you find it is 25 per cent. The proportion of 15-year-olds who were convicted last year of an indictable offence was about 1½ per cent. If one was being very clever, one would have to add those convicted of non-indictable offences, where the figures are not available, but may be of the same order.

But however you look at it, there are many more 15-year-olds who do something serious and show themselves more aware of responsibilities than was expected in many cases than those who can be called delinquent. And when one calls a child delinquent, it is rather harsh in the case of many of those of the 3 per cent. who have been convicted of some petty stealing. However you work it out, the figures are that about 25 per cent. stayed on at school longer than they need, and 1½ per cent. were convicted of indictable offences at 15. This does something to put into perspective the idea that our young people are slack, frivolous and non-social.

Speaking broadly, I would say that in spite of all the excellent work done, all the attempts which have been made to try to find new forms of youth service which are adapted to the unattached, we (and when I say "we" I mean all of us, the nation, Protestants and everybody else) have not been successful in spreading the appeal of the Service. This must be faced, in spite of the efforts made following the Albemarle Report. Clearly, there is no magic solution of this elusive problem, which certainly cuts across any Party division. I can only assure the House that this Government, in their various manifestations and in particular Mr. Howell, the Minister, who is so dedicated to his work, will redouble their exertions to reach the unattached, although after four months in office it is no good my pretending that we have discovered some extraordinary formula.

In past debates there has been some evidence of tension, and even conflict of ideas, between what used to be called the traditional clubs or associations—some of them bearing the most famous names, like the Boy Scouts, the Boys' Brigade, the Y.M.C.A. and others—and the informal or experimental movements. We are told that these latter have set out, and ought to be encouraged to set out, to allow more emphasis on pure enjoyment and less emphasis on doing good. I am afraid I am unrepentantly proud that anybody should be good enough to call me a "do-gooder"—a word brought out with a certain amount of ambiguous comment to-day. I agree entirely with the general approach to these matters of the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips. I do not think we should be frightened of setting out to do good to other people, or even of being accused of it. Anyway, I believe that the conflict between the traditional club and the novel, experimental club is unreal.

The most interesting piece of research on how to help the young which has been published for several years is a book called The Unattached, which the Minister recently welcomed at a Press conference. It has been referred to by several speakers to-day, and I know the noble Lord, Lord Wade, has studied it with great care. What is particularly significant in this book, in my eyes, is that it is the result of research promoted by the National Association of Youth Clubs, who might be supposed to represent the classical tradition. I would emphasise this to support my contention that there is no clash between the old and the new. The book puts forward many recommendations, some of them familiar, but above all it stresses the need of individual work with the individual. Some individual human being, coming to the work in a spirit of idealism, must set himself or herself up to help the individual unattached young men and women; and this work need not necessarily be done in a club or a group. This does not mean that I reject the idea of group therapy; but I will leave that with the noble Lord, Lord St. Just, for another occasion. If this contention is right, we must somehow find a way of training social workers who can work with the unattached, appeal to them and help them as individuals in this way. It is not just a question of going out to recruit them as members of clubs, even as members of novel and experimental clubs.

We shall need the social workers in the field. Some of them may go out from the clubs, and others may be organised differently. We want them to be able to reach out and help the unattached by guiding them, befriending them and understanding their whole lives. This concept of personal counselling gains a new and, I should think, lasting significance if one reads this book, The Unattached. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Wade, in his interesting speech laid special emphasis on the need for personal contact which can take place in a club, but equally can take place elsewhere. This question of trying to reach the unattached as individuals seems to be the most striking of all the new challenges confronting the Youth Service.

Going back to the main theme of the debate, I agree with what has been said about finding many more opportunities of service for the young. I think—and here I agree entirely with the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge—that in this matter we need a far more systematic national approach. I hope the noble Lord will forgive me if I do not follow up some of his other points, but in that respect, the question of how to draw together the young who are ready to do this work and the people who are ready to provide it, which is perhaps the core of the whole debate. I feel we can all agree that a much more systematic, national and determined approach is essential.

I have hardly mentioned, if I have mentioned, the speech of the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Norwich, and yet I think for many of us that speech was as impressive as one could imagine. I will not try to put my own gloss on it in any way, but while he was speaking it occurred to me to ask: how do we set standards for the young? I am not talking of the act of befriending them, but how we set standards for them which they are likely to copy, even if they do not admit they are copying them. I realise that this must be done unobtrusively in many cases, whether in the home or in youth work. But there are also, of course, public standards which are set by all those who are in public life or, If not politicians, have an influence on public life.

I need not dwell on a painful matter, but I am bound to say that in my mind earlier to-day was that revolting programme about Merseyside which was put on by the B.B.C. on Saturday. I need not dwell on it, because the B.B.C. has now apologised, though I think the apology could have been framed more strongly. At any rate, they have apologised, so I will not pursue that matter any further. But it is a serious thing that the B.B.C. should be convicted of something of this sort. If anybody wants to know what was said, noble Lords are perfectly able to find out. If I had not the text of it I should have thought that it was quite incredible that such a programme could be put on. It could not have been put on by a particular producer in a fit of aberration; there must have been a number of people involved; and this is our public Corporation in which we take tremendous pride and to which we all owe a very great debt. I do not think there is any institution of which we are more proud, unless it be the Monarchy, Parliament or the Courts, than the B.B.C.; and that it should be associated with a programme of this sort, dirty beyond belief, leaves me staggered. But there is an apology and we must hope for better things.

This is far removed from the things in the mind of the right reverend Prelate, but it seems to me (and it is perhaps one part of something Lady Phillips said earlier) that there is a danger that, in our desire not to show ourselves "squares", even "noble squares", we are slow to criticise, to denounce, what is really evil when it appears. I think most of us—I speak for myself—are probably more frightened of being called prigs than of almost anything else. I am afraid this is a feeling which is possibly not confined to me, and not confined to one Party or another. If we want to criticise the young, then we must love them and set their standards instead of sinking to any of the lower standards which we might quite wrongly associate with them. If we want to love them truly, if we do love them truly, then we must set out to correct them, to help them, and to improve their lives; because I am sure myself that we have it in our power to help the younger generation to be not only richer people—that is quite likely—but better people than we have been ourselves. I think what the right reverend Prelate said is probably more helpful than anything else in this debate.

The questions raised by the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, have not received positive Governmental answers, but I hope that when a certain time has elapsed he will return to them again. Whatever the showing of the Government may be, well or badly represented by myself, this has been a debate whose echoes will reverberate for a long time, and we are all deeply in the debt of the noble Lord who started it.

8.45 p.m.


My Lords, the chief and almost the only thing I want to do now is to express my very sincere thanks to all noble Lords who have taken part in this debate. I have enjoyed it thoroughly, and I hope they feel somewhat rewarded for the time and trouble they put into the preparation and the making of their speeches by the course of the debate itself. I hope, indeed, as the noble Earl the Leader of the House has said, that it will be a debate that will produce some lasting effects.

It would be inappropriate of me to single out any particular noble Lord, save perhaps two. The first is the noble Lord, Lord Baden-Powell, who made such an excellent speech. I attended the funeral of that great man, his grandfather, buried amid lovely African countryside during the war. It was a funeral that was attended by a seemingly unending procession of young people, drawn from all over the world, giving their homage to a man who had done perhaps more for youth than anybody else. I am sure that he would have enjoyed this debate, and would have been well satisfied with the contribution made to it by his grandson.

I am also particularly grateful to the noble Earl the Leader of the House, in the first place for taking upon himself the burden of replying to my Motion; secondly, for the nice things he was good enough to say about my own speech; thirdly, for clearing up for me some little misunderstandings to which my words seem to have given rise. If there still remains any noble Lord in the House who thinks that I want to nationalise the Youth Service, or to regimentalise or Governmentalise it, I hope he will refer to Hansard to find that I wish to do nothing of the sort.

There is only one other thing I want to say. I addressed my speech to the Government because it seemed to me that that is the normal function of a speech made in Parliament. But I was conscious all the time that I was working on it, and making it, that I was omitting the fact that there is a personal and individual responsibility here on all of us that we cannot get out of by passing it over, as it were, to the Government. I was very glad, therefore, that those who are really qualified to speak about this did so, notably the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Norwich, and also the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, who reminded us not only that the young people have responsibilities, but that we have our own. And, surely, among them is to give generously of our affection, time, and indeed our money, to help the young people of to-day to form their own characters and to lead good lives. My Motion was not intended as a verdict on youth; it was intended to draw discussion. I hope your Lordships feel that it has done that, and I now ask for perimssion to withdraw it.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.