§ 3.50 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ LORD ROWLEY
My Lords, like the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, who has just spoken I should like to express my gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Wade, for bringing this problem before the House for examination. It is only when we come to start examining the problem that we must all realise the immense difficulties that confront us, especially those of us who are concerned to maintain world peace and security within the Charter of the United Nations.
The noble Lord who has just spoken referred to the fact that. I think, 40 per cent. of the children of the world were not receiving any education; and the noble Lord, Lord Wade, summed up that number as 700 million out of a world population of something like 3,000 million people. One cannot escape from the conclusion that the solution which is proposed in this connection, broadly speaking, is certainly a very long-term 456 matter. On the other hand, we have to realise that the world to-day is divided into many political camps and many armed camps. There are 120 nations which are members of the United Nations, each of them claiming sovereign equality in the activities of the United Nations.
We have to realise that in almost every country in the world the system of education, such as it is, is geared to the propagation of national patriotism. We are all, I think, conscious of a feeling of patriotism towards our own country: pride in its culture and pride in its history, pride even in its military achievements. We are all proud of the fact that in our own country we have produced Admirals and Generals who compare with those of any other country in the world and we are proud to belong to our own nation. But that applies in practically every country in the world. I think that it would be completely unrealistic to suppose that we could ever secure a change in the teaching of history which would abrogate the nationalistic approach. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Wade, that we ought to consider whether it is possible to bring about a lessening of the nationalistic content in our history books; but I think that that would be, in a sense, time wasted. I do not believe that it is the best way to approach the problem: I would approach it in an entirely different way.
Reference was made by the noble Lord who spoke previously to the work of UNESCO. There is no doubt—and I think that some of the facts which he put before the House established that UNESCO has done very fine work during the twenty years that it has been in existence, not only in the sphere of education, but in the sphere of health and social work, and in the sphere of economics. I should like to see UNESCO approaching this matter from another angle altogether, supplementary to the history that is taught in the schools of the world. Indeed, a person does not require to be even literate to be the recipient of propaganda from the Government to which that person belongs. Most of us have lived through two world wars in which both sides were composed very largely of people who were more or less educated. Therefore the existence of illiteracy does not prove too much of an obstacle; it only makes the solution more difficult.
457 I should like to suggest this to my noble friend who will reply to this debate. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will consider whether they could not ask our representative on the Council of UNESCO to make this proposal—and here I disagree with Lord Wade, although I am not sure that he was approaching the matter from the point of view I am about to express. He said he shuddered, I think, at the idea of a world history.
§ LORD WADE
My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Lord for giving way. What I had in mind was that if there were one compulsory history book for everybody setting out the official history of the world, that would be rather an appalling prospect. But certainly as an adjunct to other history books it would be excellent to have a world history.
§ LORD ROWLEY
My Lords, I am not going to suggest that there should be a history of the world, something on the lines of H. G. Wells's The Outline of History, which I read many years ago. What I suggest is that UNESCO should appoint a Working Party to collect and collate all the historical development of international co-operation. I do not want population figures from all the countries of the world included, and all the economic and social and cultural information, et cetera, in respect of the 122 countries which are represented at the United Nations: I would confine its ambit to the development of international co-operation. Of course, there have been failures, such as the League of Nations. That is history, but it is part of the history of the development of international co-operation. And I should apply it not only in the sphere of security, but also in the sphere of health and education. Even in meteorology we have one of the finest examples of the development of international co-operation that excels international development in almost any other sphere.
I would take just these sections of international co-operation and put them together, and it would in fact be a history of the development of international cooperation. It would not supplant the national history books, which I do not believe is a practical proposition, for the reasons I have given, mainly because of national patriotism and even tribal patriotism. In that connection, we see 458 what is happening in West Africa to-day, in Nigeria, where there is a conflict between the tribes of the country. One has only, as I did the other day, to look at a television feature on the development of Nigeria to realise this. The Ibos in the East, and those in the North or other parts of Nigeria, have an intense patriotism towards their own tribes. I want to supplement that; I want to have something parallel to that national and tribal patriotism. I believe that sooner or later it will have to be done, and I should like to see our own Government put forward this idea of a history, which is not a history of the world but a history of the development of international co-operation over the past years.
Those of us who are strong supporters of the United Nations are faced with the fact that the United Nations Organisation itself is in effect really an agglomoration of 120 countries. It is not a separate entity; it has not its own mind or its own central thought. What it does, whether in the sphere of maintenance of peace or in the educational sphere, depends upon what the Governments in the United Nations will permit and will finance. I am not going to suggest that a world community is just round the corner—of course it is not. We have a long way to go. But surely that does not prevent those right-minded people who believe in the establishment of a world community, based on the rule of law and order, from applying their minds to the preparation of the ground, laying the foundations of a system which will transform the United Nations, which in reality is merely a half-way house, into an eventual world Commonwealth. Those who are responsible in the United Nations should begin applying their minds to preparing the ground for an advance towards the world system which will look at humanity as a whole, and not merely limit their vision within their own national borders. Having said that, I believe that none the less the noble Lord, Lord Wade, has played a useful part in raising this Question and enabling this House to discuss a vital but difficult problem.
§ 4.1 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF NORWICH
My Lords, I wish to support the general argument behind Lord Wade's Question, and to refer in particular to the latter 459 part of his Question, the importance of activities encouraging a sense of world community, especially in the minds of young people. The Preamble to the UNESCO Charter states that:
peace must be founded on the moral solidarity of mankind.In view of the fact that the world is spending £40,000 million or £50,000 million a year on armaments, basically in mistrust of our fellow world citizens, whatever is being done for peace by Governments, by religious bodies, by voluntary societies, by the United Nations and, in particular, by UNESCO, is clearly not enough. And I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Wade, in his Question singled out UNESCO, because that is the Agency which has been entrusted with the particular task of creating a sense of world community.
At the time when Julian Huxley was Director-General of UNESCO he instituted, in 1951, a six-volume History of the Scientific and Cultural Development of Mankind, which deals with:
the gradual development in its most expressive manifestations of the consciousness of the universal in man.Although only two volumes of that series have so far appeared, this attempt to emphasise the universal in man—what he shares, rather than what divides him—is to be welcomed. I think this is somewhat parallel with the suggestion that has just been made by the noble Lord, Lord Rowley, with which I wholeheartedly agree. But what seems to me to be missing and to be needed, if I may say so, is the fashioning of a plan by UNESCO to relate this "master vision of the universal in man" to educational programmes and to teacher training: for I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, on the emphasis that he gives to teachers. We have, in fact, drifted into a situation where education has in too large a measure become an accomplice of nationalism.
There are many reasons for this. One is the fact that universal education started about 100 years ago, at a time when nationalism was strong. Thus, certain myths which our Victorian forbears created about various places and people are now built into our educational system, and they have been delightfully parodied in 1066 and All That. These 460 myths are passed on from one generation of teachers to another, even though, as the noble Lord, Lord Wade, has shown us with his examples of Cyprus, they have become out of date and are often harmful.
The spirit of world citizenship nowadays is rather more easily caught than taught. There are those who believe that putting a subject into the curriculum will kill it stone dead. Yet I for one am impressed with how much we believe what we are taught. It is this very efficacy of teaching that can hold us back rather than bring us forward, unless the content of education is right. Therefore I believe that more world civics should be taught in schools. This would give a framework towards the appreciation of the history of one's own and other people's nations.
Much more needs to be done, too, in defining what we mean by "world citizen"; whom we would designate as such; how we should encourage a sense of world community. The United Nations has, of course, made attempts in the past to do this kind of thing; but it seems to believe—I think erroneously—that "education for international understanding", which often is only teaching about the ways of other nations, is the same thing as "education for living in a world community". I think, therefore, that UNESCO should get back to the concept which it had in its earlier days, entitled Education for Living in a World Community—a quite different thing, entailing, as it does, some idea of our relationship as world citizens to one another and to the future world authority or world government—call it what you will—and not merely our relationship as British people to our friends or enemies across the Channel or any other particular country. A sense of world community undoubtedly has much to do with human rights, and this present year, which has been declared a "Year of Human Rights" will perhaps do something to clarify it. Certainly, race relations can be considered an acid test of world citizenship.
Meanwhile, my Lords, what is to be done? The need to encourage a perspective in history textbooks free from national bias must be accompanied by an educational content, and indeed an educational experience, to encourage a sense 461 of world community. I should like to give an example from my own experience. Last November, I was invited on an educational cruise with a group of 1,200 schoolchildren from East Anglia. These educational cruises are going on the whole time, and an enormous number of children have the opportunity of sharing this kind of experience. It was a remarkable experience, and an enjoyable one. In the space of only a fortnight we saw something of Venice, Athens, Cairo, Malta and Gibraltar. Days ashore were so planned that one could see something of modern Athens and modern Cairo, as well as being introduced to the Doge's Palace, the Parthenon, or the treasures of Tutankhamen's Tomb.
Those days ashore made an impact, as as indeed did the experience of living as a community in the ship. But what impressed me particularly was the effect upon the children of what they saw in Egypt. The poverty in the back streets of Cairo and Alexandria was something. they particularly noticed, and I suspect that their experience of this was much like my own vivid experience of the High Street in Edinburgh when I was a small child. It was the impression not of the detached, sightseeing tourist, but of children who felt that this was part of their world and their business, and who asked themselves what they could do about it. I believe that this was an exceedingly important element of education in world citizenship.
I have mentioned educational travel, and would draw your Lordships' attention to the excellent work being done by the Central Bureau for Educational Visits and Exchanges, which publishes an admirable booklet summarising the services in Britain open to the young visitor from abroad. Interestingly enough, this Bureau recommends home-to-home links as the best possible form of encouraging a wider perspective. Then there are school links, working holidays, international camps, foreign work camps, and, of course, holiday study in foreign countries and pen friendships. Side by side with this is the growing custom, and one surely to be fostered, for towns and cities, universities and schools, to establish a twin relationship with kindred bodies in other parts of the world. More than a thousand British secondary schools have established a permanent link with 462 partner schools on the Continent, and this has done much to open the experience of young people to the world at large.
It is established that travel is one of the great growth industries of the 1960s and that the category of most recent growth in recent years has been that of the young traveller. Has not the moment arrived to have a new institution attached to the town or city hall, an international community centre? Undoubtedly something more will need to be done to overcome the challenge of the encounters in this country and all over the world which are going to become increasingly frequent between young people of different nationalities. One practical suggestion for mention in school textbooks as a preparation and background for seeing the world in this context is the need to identify more explicitly the benefactors of the world community, so that they can take their place alongside the gallery of national heroes, who are too often, as has been mentioned more than once, the villains of the neighbouring nation.
Why should not UNESCO organise an international competition among teachers and student teachers all over the world for their choice of who such people are, and why? The idea of benefactors of the human race, as well as national heroes, being suitable for mention in school textbooks has already found expression in an Italian textbook which was published in 1963 for use in their secondary schools. In a section entitled "Gallery of the 20th Century" there is a list, and it is a very interesting one, of 15 persons, with a description of each and why they have been chosen, and it is interesting, too, that only two of those were Italian, one of whom was Pope John. This idea can be and should be extended to various fields, of discovery, of art, of technological and scientific progress, each achievement being presented in relation to the advance made rather than the prestige of the particular country making it.
International co-operation can work if only Governments will let it. This is shown by the example of Antarctica, declared a neutral territory for peaceful purposes by a treaty of the 12 interested nations in 1959. But in this whole matter we should like to see Her Majesty's Government urging UNESCO not merely to be laying the foundations of moral 463 solidarity for peaceful co-existence—that way relatively little can be achieved— but to replace the endemic aloofness of mankind when he is acting in his tribe or nation by a positive programme of partnership. Young people, through War on Want, OXFAM and the like, have shown that this is the way that they want things to go. The outcry about overseas students fees is further evidence. The rapid extension of such enterprises as Voluntary Service Overseas shows how young people respond to what can be done with support from Her Majesty's Government and voluntary efforts.
Another partnership is in the field of education itself, for young people of different nations and of different cultures to share together in an educational experience. The example set by the Sixth Form International College, the Atlantic College at St. Donat's Castle, is, I believe, a very important and notable one, and it merits support and extension. It is for Her Majesty's Government, indeed for every citizen, to consider seriously: he ways and means of encouraging a sense of world community. In some West European countries, particularly the Netherlands, France and Germany, substantial grants are made for programmes of exchange for young people. The 1963 "Franco-German Youth Agreement, whereby young people from France and Ger-many are able to travel to each other's country provided they go with an authorised group, and even receive a subsidy towards the cost of their stay of something like five new francs a day. is now having a significant effect on Franco-German relations.
There has been a desire in France to lave a similar arrangement with this country, but the initiative has so far not seen forthcoming from this country. However, there is a working party on British-German contacts, and let us hope that that can perhaps be the beginning of a more progressive policy in this field. What s needed is for a far greater impetus to be given by all Governments, not only to travel, or even educational travel, but, if possible, by encouraging specialised activities on a global basis, since I suspect that the best way of becoming a world citizen is to join in wherever one is with some local activity; then one really feels part of the new surroundings.
464 One of the most urgent matters on which the Government could take action straight away is to provide in London accommodation for young people of school age from overseas. This is closely linked with the kind of opportunities of which I have just been speaking. There is no building specially designed for use by school groups making study visits to London or passing through, and especially adapted for use by groups or individuals from abroad. What is needed and what has in fact been planned by a group representing 40 voluntary organisations is to build a new international youth hotel in central London. This group. which started to investigate the matter in 1956, envisages a 500-bed hostel in London. There has been hardly any recognition by Her Majesty's Government of their responsibility for helping to provide this, except for a small grant of £350 for preparation of a survey.
The need can be indicated by the fact that more than 60,000 French pupils visit England each summer, more than 30,000 Germans, 12,000 Swedes and 6.000 Finns, to name those four countries alone. There are endless requests for finding London accommodation for school, youth and student groups, and I believe we must try to do something to see that this accommodation is provided. This is something which I hope can be looked into by the Government at the highest level, since the failure to create in London any accommodation, when splendid hostels for this purpose are available in most of the European countries, is an omission which needs correction.
My Lords, I think we need to take much more seriously the place of international understanding and partnership in education for the avoidance of conflict and the creation of the conditions in which peace may be built. If this he one of the major issues of our time, then we must surely look to Her Majesty's Government, in its support for UNESCO and in other ways, to give themselves wholeheartedly in support of every instrument by which peace and understanding may be served. We have entered upon an era when young people will inevitably be made increasingly aware of peoples of other nations. Surely what we look for is that the character and the content of their upbringing shall be such that they can see 465 themselves and their countrymen, together with the peoples of the world, first and foremost as human beings, as fellow members of a world community.
§ 4.20 p.m.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, I make no apology for beginning by referring to that memorable first sentence of the Constitution of UNESCO, to which my noble friend Lord Wade has also made reference. One is proud of the fact that the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, was the author of a phrase which I think will live for all time:
Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.From the Constitution of UNESCO it is clear that its first purpose is the creation of those "defences of peace" in the minds of men.
As the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Norwich has indicated, in the development of UNESCO there has been a slight departure from that first purpose to other purposes. Therefore it is important to emphasise that in the last resort the final attainment of peace in the world will not depend on Governments; it will not depend on the United Nations; it will not depend on disarmament conferences: it will depend on the degree in which the peoples of the world have a sense of world consciousness, and not only a sense of belonging to their own nation. The French philosopher, Etienne Gilson, has said that,
the task of UNESCO is to give the United Nations a soulThe United Nations is the body, but it cannot live for peace without the spirit. The creation of that spirit is the mission of UNESCO, the coming to men of a sense of belonging to the whole family of man.
At the twentieth anniversary of UNESCO, in October last year, the Chairman of the Executive Board, Mr. El Fasi, asked:
To what extent has UNESCO helped to construct the defences of peace in the minds of men?I recognise at once all that the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, has said about the achievements of UNESCO, which are very great; but as he spoke I had in mind also the immensity of the task which it has to 466 fulfil. I had in mind the fact that in the world to-day, a world which technically is becoming smaller with every year that passes, the intensities of national and group antagonisms in the world seem to grow in the same proportion. Regretfully, we must recognise to-day that the success of UNESCO in its great task has been limited. When we ask why, I think that the answer is twofold. First, it has had to operate in a political climate which is not sympathetic to a sense of world consciousness—the great ideological division between East and West, the new nationalisms of nations as they become independent. In that atmosphere, the creation of a sense of world consciousness is difficult. But in addition to appreciating that climate in the world, it is our duty this afternoon to look a little at UNESCO itself, and, still more, to look at the Governments on whose support UNESCO depends.
I want to add to the tribute paid by the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, to the good works of UNESCO. I think here of my noble friend who is present in the House, Lord Ritchie-Calder, and of the investigations which he made for UNESCO. I think of those two great books Men Against the Desert and Men Against the Jungle, which gave some hope in the solution of the problem of world hunger; but, unfortunately, the lessons were so little applied. I think particularly of one activity which was mentioned by the noble Lord, the Literacy campaign, which gave hope to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people of learning to read. When one has said all that and more, one must recognise that UNESCO has not created among peoples as a whole the image of its purpose, and that for most people UNESCO is still a rather curious jumble of letters, the meaning of which they do not understand.
When one asks where the fault, if fault there is, lies, and looks at the UNESCO organisation itself, I would say that it is suffering from one feature which also applies to other great international agencies: it tends to be a little top-heavy. Many of us have visited its headquarters in Paris, and we have caught the devotion of members of its staff; but I am informed that, of the total staff of 2,600, 1,600 are at the headquarters, a wrong proportion. Even so, there seems 467 to be some maldistribution in the personnel of that staff. The essential responsibility of UNESCO is to extend international understanding; yet I am also told that a few months ago, at any rate, its Department of Education for International Understanding had only three senior officers. The Department has initiated fine projects, and again I want to associate myself with what the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare says, particularly in praise of the Associated Schools Project. But its resources are severely restricted, and when one looks at the results and bears in mind the need, how can one be satisfied with the impact which that project has made on five hundred schools? If it was really to influence the thought of school children in different countries, the number should have been at least a hundred times as great as that. The Department has also had its commendable gift coupon scheme which was initiated in 1952, and yet to-day none of us can he satisfied with the fact that it has raised only £500,000 in 14 years.
I want to look at the necessary support from Governments, and especially our own. Article VII of the Constitution asks Governments to set up National Commissions to further the aims of UNESCO. I propose to read items 1 and 2:
1. Each Member State shall make such arrangements as suit its particular conditions for the purpose of associating its principal bodies interested in educational, scientific and cultural matters with the work of the Organisation. preferably by the formation of a National Commission broadly representative of the Government and such bodies.2. National Commissions or National Cooperating Bodies, where they exist. shall act in an advisory capacity to their respective delegations to the General Conference and to their Governments in matters relating to the Organisation and shall function as agencies of liaison in all matters of interest to it.That is to say, the first aim of the National Commissions which are set up is to act with scientific, cultural and educational organisations in order to extend the sense of world consciousness; and the second aim is to act as an advisory body to the Government in relation to the conferences which are held by UNESCO itself.
I would say, from looking at what the Government have done, that they have concentrated on the second purpose and 468 neglected the first. This was put quite succinctly by Mr. Martin, the Secretary of the United Kingdom National Commission for UNESCO, and head of the UNESCO Department in the Ministry of Overseas Development, when he was addressing the Education Advisory Committee of the Parliamentary Group for World Government on February 8, 1966. He said that the main task of the National Commission in recent years had been to advise the Government on the attitudes which it should take to the programmes proposed for UNESCO. I do not underestimate the importance of that. Of course it is necessary. The methods of advice are complicated, and I do not propose to discuss them in detail. But I would just say to the representative of the Government that the present procedure means that as regards the final programme which comes before the Biennial Conference of UNESCO there is very little opportunity to amend it or to add useful proposals to it. I think he may find that that will also be true of other Agencies of the United Nations, and I would ask him to look into that subject.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, may I just ask my noble friend a question? I am not quite sure what he means. Which final programme does he refer to?
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, I am talking about the procedure as outlined by Mr. Martin in the speech to which I referred, and which I shall gladly hand to the Minister. I am referring to the programme which is submitted to the Biennial Conference of UNESCO by the Director-General. The Director-General prepares an original programme which goes to Governments and National Commissions. They make their comments, it goes back, and the Director-General then prepares a final programme. My complaint is that there is too little time between receiving the final draft and the holding of the Biennial Conference, either for the National Commission or for the Government to make amendments or additions which might be useful.
As I said, there are two purposes for the National Commission: one is to give advice, and the other is to carry on its work of education among the people. I am suggesting, as indeed Mr. Martin has suggested, that the emphasis is placed on advice to the Government, rather than 469 on education among the people. The explanation of the National Commission is that there already exist organisations which undertake these duties—the Council for Education in World Citizenship, the Arts Council, the British Council and others. I submit that the existence of these societies, so far from being an obstacle to activity, provides an opportunity for effective activity. As I said, Article VII says:…for the purpose of associating its principal bodies …—associating, using, expanding their work in the development of world consciousness.
I want particularly to refer to the Council for Education in World Citizenship. All of us who have attended these quite extraordinary gatherings in the Westminster Central Hall will have seen the children from all over Britain, who for three days listen to experts dealing with international questions. Those who have sat in the group seminars with those children or who have been to their schools know the enormous value of the work which the Council is doing. And yet even with the additional grant of this year, the contribution of the Government to their funds was only £950. I submit that that is a very meagre sum. To the International Bureau of Education the contribution of the Government is only £840. The biggest useful contribution which the Government make is £40,000 from the Department of Education and Science for the Central Bureau for Educational Visits and Exchanges. I say to the Government that when we are spending over £2,000 million on defence, those are meagre sums for the fundamental task of developing among peoples the sense of world consciousness which must be the basis of peace.
Finally, I want to supplement the criticisms which I have voiced by welcoming recent developments. They are stated in a letter from the Minister of Overseas Development dated June 16 last in reply to a deputation which was led by Sir Edward Boyle on behalf of the Parliamentary Committee for World Government. The letter states that the National Commission is being reconstructed, is to have 25 members, is to have a development sub-committee, a public relations committee and four programme advisory committees. I should 470 like to ask the Minister, if he is within reach of my voice, what has been done since that announcement on June 16 last year in the appointment of those committees and, more particularly, in the activities which those committees have carried out.
My Lords, behind all this the fundamental fact is that the world is technically smaller, but people retain ideological and national divisions. The greatest of all needs to-day is the creation of the mind and spirit that we belong to the whole world. The Prime Minister has recently said that all parties have the ultimate aim of World Government, that UNESCO was set up to inculcate a sense of world community and that some of the best minds are devoting themselves to this task. That is true; but are we giving them adequate help to fulfil that task?… since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed".We are asking the Government to give priority to that aim.
§ 4.41 p.m.
§ BARONESS ELLIOT OF HARWOOD
My Lords, I shall detain your Lordships for only a very short time in this debate. I was very interested when I saw the Question put down by the noble Lord, Lord Wade—and I was particularly interested in the speech which we heard this afternoon from the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Norwich, which I think was most remarkable. I intervene because I am interested in that part of the noble Lord's Question which talks about:… the need for a programme, in addition to its Literacy project, designed to lessen the nationalistic bias in history textbooks and to encourage a sense of world community".When I read that phrase it occurred to me how very difficult it was to do this. Writing history is, I suppose, one of the most important activities which men and women authors and historians engage in from one generation to another, and it is very difficult to see how this can be done without any bias.
One's attitude to history, it seems to me, is influenced by how far or how near one has been to the events which are recorded in the history books. If one may think in terms of fairly modern events, the attitude of the historian to-day, writing the history of the 1914–18 war, is quite different from that of the historian writing about the war 471 of 1939–45, which is still so fresh in the memories of many of us. In fact it is very difficult to take a detached or dispassionate view of historical events one has lived through, and to get a fair appreciation of those historical events one must, I think, be prepared to read many writers and then to form one's own judgment. I do not think that history can be written without bias, or with no personal flavour of the author.
Furthermore, I do not believe that you can denationalise history. My experience —other noble Lords have perhaps had similar experiences, but mine is still vivid in my memory—was that at the age of 16 I was sent to Paris to be educated in a French lycée, where I spent two years studying the ordinary subjects which school children studied in that period, history being one of them. Hot from an English school where I had been studying the Napoleonic Wars, I suddenly found myself studying the Napoleonic Wars in a class of French girls. The glories of Napoleon, French reactions to the Battle of Waterloo, or the 100 days and what happened at Elba, were taught to the class in the Lycée Victor Duruy in an attitude completely different from the period of study which I had completed in my own school. Both were genuine historical truths, but the emphasis was obviously very different. Imagine trying to write a history of Napoleon which would please the English, the Germans and the French. It would be impossible. Nor would it be true; and after all is said and done however much we want to prepare the world for a peaceful future, one must write the truth of the past. It is a very difficult thing to do.
The noble Lord, Lord Ritchie-Calder, is to follow me in this debate, and no doubt he will draw upon his very great experience of UNESCO, which I have not had. But he and I both belong to the same country. We are both Scots, and I am sure he has had the same experience as I have when making speeches abroad—that is, how astonished people are when told that we fought the English for 300 years. This is an historical fact which I do not hide. This war has now ceased, except on the football field or in the minds of fervid Scottish nationalists, but that does not stop me (and I am sure 472 it does not stop the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie-Calder) from being very proud of the fact that I am a citizen of the United Kingdom and not only of Scotland.
It would be impossible to write the history of Scotland and leave out wars, whether they were religious or national. And I do not believe that it would make nations more peaceful if this were done elsewhere. What has happened in history is ploughed into the soil of every nation. It is the stuff of which nations are made; and the further back you go the deeper it is dug into the soil. What is more (if I may continue the agricultural metaphor), it is organic in the soil. It melts and disappears, and becomes part of the soil, unable to be separated again. I believe that this process is part of the life of every nation, and need not lead to modern nationalistic behaviour, although admittedly nationalistic behaviour still exists.
The reasons for the last terrible war are all too well-known, and no writing of history would have deterred the Nazis. No writing of history could or would, I hope, want to cut out this period, because it was a terrible period. It is part of world history. UNESCO has a real obligation, as has any other teaching or writing of history, to tell what happened in history as it happened, and I think it would be impossible to find textbooks which were accurate which did not tell those facts. The noble Lord, Lord Wade, quoted some terrifying passages from textbooks in use in Cyprus, but I wonder whether it is not possible for the answer to be given in recommendations from UNESCO for books which do not give that very fierce bias which were given to the House this afternoon in his quotations.
Presumably when asked, UNESCO recommends books to teachers, and to recommend those which give many points of view would in my opinion be the right course for them to adopt. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, that there is no greater urgency than to get more teachers for the developing countries, and I hope that the books used will be simple, straightforward accounts of historical developments, if possible unbiased, but in any case factual and honest. To build a world community is, of course, what all of us should work towards, but it will take many years.
473 The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Norwich has outlined many of the modern methods which can be and are being developed. The noble Lord, Lord Brockway., mentioned the work of the International Exchange Council and of the Council for World Citizenship, both of them excellent and admirable organisations. These are the modern ways in which young people come together and plan or hope to plan for a world community. This I believe to be a better way than the idea that you can obliterate the past by the way in which you write history books, and we should give UNESCO the responsibility for disseminating history in all its aspects, rather than history written for a special purpose. I hope that the Government will support the organisations which aim to broaden the educational view, but I also hope that nobody will consider that the re-writing of history books will obliterate the past or make the future any easier.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ LORD RITCHIE-CALDER
My Lords, as the noble Baroness said, in my —I should say "our"—highly civilised country, we have now ritualised the religious wars into the Rangers v. Celtic football match. Time is a great healer. If only we had enough time to cope with the world situation, we might succeed in doing what the English and Scots have done. For example, it was once true that thirty Elliots were hanged over Berwick Bridge; and I am not sure now who knows whether it was the Scots or the English who hanged them. That is one example of how you can, in fact, begin to forget. My father died at the age of eighty-two never having shaken hands with a Campbell, because the Campbells of Loch Awe in 1547 had carried off the heiress of the Calders and forcibly married her. So my father never shooks hands with a Campbell all his life. I am a professor of international relations; I have to shake hands with the Campbells.
We do advance, but the trouble is that even when we are supposed to be speaking the same language—and we Scottish and English have approximately the same language—we find, in fact, that we are creating international misunderstanding. For example, during the Cuban crisis I found myself being driven across 474 New York by one of those talkative New York cab drivers. It was the morning after President Kennedy had declared the "quarantine" of the island of Cuba. My Lords, the word "quarantine" is one of those weasel words that are going to cause a great deal of trouble and are going to confuse history. It had, in fact, confused this cabby.
He wanted to know what "quarantine" meant. I told him that it meant blockade: that the blockade was a hostile act and that the first shots across the bows of a Russian convoy would mean a shooting war. The cabby took all this very soberly and seriously, and said, reasonably: "But if them Russki ships have nothing to hide, why don't they just stop and let us look-see?" I said that that was a very interesting question, and that there was once a British ship, called H.M.S. "Leopard", which stopped an American ship, called the "Chesapeke", "just for a look-see". One thing led to another, and then we British burned the White House. He swung the cab into the kerb, pulled up and said: "The British burned the White House?" I said, "Yes". He turned round and said, "Ruddy Commies!" When I explained to him that this was the war of 1812 and that he was confusing the Redcoats with the Reds he was prepared to let bygones be bygones.
It may be that some noble Lords have forgotten that we burned the Capitol and the White House in Washington. The oversight is entirely forgivable, because the war of 1812 is liable to be dismissed in a line or a paragraph in our history books. We were rather preoccupied with the Napoleonic Wars. But it fills chapter after chapter in any American junior history book and fills them with lurid cartoons and pictures. I quote a current American high school book:In 1814 the British General Ross entered Washington and with barbarism which distinguishes the Vandals of the Middle Ages, but which is unknown to civilised warfare. his troops burned not only the Capitol hut its extensive library and records pertaining not to war but to peace and civilisation.My Lords, memory has long knives and history books sharpen them. To encourage something we call patriotism, or nationalism, or just tribalism or parochialism, they glorify victories, no matter what the price of those victories; they foster grievances, build up archetype enemies 475 and give them labels and names. They romanticise squalid episodes; forget what is inconvenient or disgraceful, and just ignore the achievements which are the web and woof of the common pattern of mankind—the kind of thing to which my noble friend Lord Rowley is asking UNESCO to pay some further account. As Nehru pointed out in his Letters from a Father to His Daughter, to Indira, then aged ten, anyone would think that all history happened in the West; that the only culture which mattered and had ever mattered was the Graeco-Roman tradition. Or, as Professor Patrick Blackett, President of the Royal Society, once said at an international conference:If a man from Mars had arrived on Earth any time between 3,000 and 500 B.C. he would have concluded that the people of the Near and Middle East were the superior beings of this Earth but between 500 A.D. and 1,500 A.D. he would have decided in favour of the Chinese and the Indians.We, incidentally, in Western Europe would have been the Barbarians.
H. G. Wells did his best to get things straight and in perspective in The Outline of History, and Sir Julian Huxley, as has been mentioned by the right reverend Prelate, inspired and initiated, when he was Director General (and followed through in 1951), the scheme under the aegis of UNESCO, The History of Mankind. There are six volumes, as the right reverend Prelate also pointed out. The first and quite outstanding volume by Jacquetta Hawkes and Leonard Woolley, dealing with pre-history, has been published, in many languages, all over the world and has been received with universal acclaim. Another, I think, has also been published. But the subsequent volumes, because we are moving forward into the history of present States have all had to overcome enormous difficulties.
Why is this? Because, my Lords, UNESCO is not a supra-national body, but an inter-governmental body; and no matter how much it claims objectivity and independence for the project (in fact, it did bulkhead this project by sponsoring it and making it self-sufficient), it cannot ignore the sensitivity and querulousness of Member States. Nevertheless, those volumes, when completed, will be a very remarkable achievement and very much in accord with what the noble Lord, Lord Wade, is asking. And, 476 in substance, I suggest, they will go a considerable way towards that for which my noble friend Lord Rowley is asking—although I appreciate that he is asking for the spelling out, in more specific terms than we have yet seen, the common achievements of mankind towards international understanding. But the problem with The History of Mankind will be to ensure its world-wide dissemination, in 49 or 50 languages, and its reflection in the school textbooks. How does one get it into the schools themselves? This is not comparative history; it is not a comparison of history of nations. It is an attempt to bring through loud and clear, the nature of the common history of mankind.
My Lords, the price of common understanding, for which the noble Lord, Lord Wade, is asking, is eternal vigilance. I, like the noble Baroness, believe that it is humanly and institutionally impossible to fumigate or decontaminate all class books of mistakes, abuses and historical obscenities. I am cynical enough to believe that it is impossible to expect even scholarly historians to do this. History is not a compendium of proven facts; it is a critique of half-truths, however well-intentioned and however well-vetted. Read the accounts by our Generals and Admirals turned historians and compare the accounts, not of their adversaries, but of their colleagues, their brothers-in-arms. One wonders whether they were written about the same war or whether it was a private war of their own. Or read historians reviewing other historians. Or compare your own living experience of events with the rationalisations which eventually appear in historical appreciations.
I lived through an agonising period in the Congo, travelling 10,000 miles though all the provinces. I saw for myself, and investigated instances, and delved into the murky international conspiracies, which were as fetid as the swamp forests themselves. This was in 1960, at the beginning of all our troubles, and I am appalled by what passes as objective accounts of the period and, more particularly, by the utter perversion and travesty of the United Nations' role there. Yet I know that my own account is charged with the emotion of circumstance and distorted by the myopia of events. I can only be —and this is as it should be—a witness, 477 and my testimony should be judged with that of others; but in all historical appreciation it depends on what case you are trying to prove.
My Lords, one of the things we are trying to do through UNESCO, and indeed the example very usefully being shown by British publishers, is to provide, as we have to as a producer-country, textbooks, history books and so on for the new countries. We are in fact—and the publishers themselves are—getting the local people to do not so much the translation as the interpretation of these books. History books and history teaching tend, as we know, to stop at a safe distance from contemporary events. Living history is distrusted as journalism—although reputable journalists (and I hope I may include myself in that description) are in fact the true historians of our time—and treated in schools as current events. I am all for this. Frankly, I would rather that the schools were dealing with current events than with prejudiced history or what passes as history, which is often sheer flamboyancy.
I do not underestimate the value of dealing with current events, because the younger generation do not read contemporary history with the bloodshot eyes of old feuds, or the bigotry of ideological prejudices. For instance, this year is the 50th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. Every one of us here have subjective feelings about that Revolution and about the intervening years; but I have a feeling that the younger generation will take less account of October, 1917, than of October, 1957, the occasion when the U.S.S R. launched the first space satellite. Indeed, my Lords, I would utter an absolute heresy: I would say that for the younger generation, including certainly many of my own students in Edinburgh, history began in 1945. Everything before that is pre-history or "classical", something to be studied as a discipline or with the detachment with which we study the Peloponnesian War or speculate where Hannibal got his elephants.
For them 1945 was not only the end of a great war, it was the beginning of a new age into which they were born: the Atomic Age, followed by the Computer Age of cybernetics and automation, by the Space Age in which man first broke 478 the gravitational fences of his planet; and the D.N.A. Age, perhaps the most portentous of all, because in D.N.A., deoxyribonucleic acid, we have the information code which chemically instructs cells how to grow and differentiate and determines the heredity of succeeding generations. This is the secret of life, and when we think of what we did with the secret of matter, exploding it as a cataclysmic bomb, we have reason for misgiving about the secret of life unless we apply wisdom to science.
It is against this background, my Lords, that the younger generation is now confronted with the necessity for common understanding. All this has happened in 22 years—telescoping eras, each as significant as the Iron Age, or the Bronze Age, or the Renaissance or the Industrial Revolution, all in the lifetime of those who have barely reached their majority. They were born into a world so drastically changed that their elders who still deal with world affairs—regrettably, according to the protesters—have not quite grasped what in fact has happened. But the younger generation do grasp it. They take all the marvels for granted. They know that this is a small planet round which a man-made satellite can travel 16 times a day; a planet so diminished in time and distance that it has become a neighbourhood. You may not like your neighbours in a neighbourhood, but one thing is true—you cannot ignore them; you have to try to understand them. With communication satellites we bring events on the other side of the world into our sitting rooms. Events intrude upon everyday life. Events are like nuclear fission: they produce a chain reaction. They flash-weld the world into one. Therefore, my Lords, in our concern to straighten out history books, let us consider the history which is being written with the speed of light by the radio waves of our eavesdropping neighbourhood.
I sympathise very profoundly with the intention of the Question. I am sure that UNESCO sympathises, too—I mean the UNESCO Secretariat as such. But UNESCO is an inter-governmental organisation of 122 sovereign nations. What has been suggested for it means that it would have to try to rationalise all the history books of the world. To "vet" the textbooks of all its members would be 479 a task of absolutely inconceivable magnitude. It can, as it has done in The History of Mankind, provide an honest prototype and hope that it member-States will respect the objective truths. It has produced a matrix of history for which the noble Lord, Lord Wade, has been asking and which in part meets the point made by my noble friend Lord Rowley. It is the job for member-States, including our own, to do the conversion. As our contribution to healthier world thinking we should be interpreting history, not in terms of battles long ago but of present realities and opportunities for better understanding.
My Lords, I ask Her Majesty's Government very seriously to consider the ways and means by which they can synchronise the teaching with the new awareness of the young, and encourage the world sense which they have and which so many of us do not have. This, I would say, is the stuff of education itself, which is not merely a question of how we are going institutionally to try to meet the points raised in the Question.
The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, referred, as did my noble friend Lord Brockway, to that quite exemplary institution, the Council for Education in World Citizenship. With as much enthusiasm, almost with more enthusiasm, I want to back what they have said. It is quite a remarkable organisation. Some of your Lordships, as was pointed out by my noble friend Lord Brockway, may know of its activities at Central Hall. Some of you, like myself and my noble friend Lord Brockway may have been victims of this organisation. this Conference at Central Hall. I say "victims" of this organisation because it is one of the most exacting and devastating experiences in the world. I have seen eminent Members of your Lordships' House under cross-examination and castigation by sixth-formers and I have seen their arguments torn up and thrown out of the window. I will not mention names—I might even include my own if I did. I hope that those who have had this experience have enjoyed it and have benefited from it as much as I. It is cathartic; it is like an intellectual nature cure.
But that occasion, that annual event, is only one of the continuous activities 480 of C.E.W.C. all over the country—probing, analysing, criticising, rejecting, handing over this analysis to the young people who are not yet cynical or prejudiced or corrupted by what passes as history. This is the stuff of contemporary history; this is how it ought to be dealt with—at the receiving end, among the people who arc going to be responsible for the world of the future. C.E.W.C. is one of the ways in which modern history can be understood.
There are other ways in which a sense of world community can be encouraged, and I also subscribe to the appreciation of other organisations which have been mentioned. The greater encouragement of all this is our British responsibility. It is not something we have to pass over to UNESCO. It is something we have to do for and through UNESCO, but it is our responsibility. It is a continuing service for the aims and objects of UNESCO and for the intention underlying the noble Lord's Question.
I go round the world praising organisations such as these, of which we have created the prototype. Nevertheless, I am ashamed of my country and of my Government when it comes to admitting what we pay to them for doing it. We have heard that C.E.W.C. gets £950 a year. It is true that much of its work is done through education authorities, and I must pay tribute to those authorities who are inspired to help the cause of world understanding. But what are we expecting of the devoted servants of this organisation, some of whom have been working in it for many years? I admire them enormously for staying. They have given their lives to this work, with little recognition, though I am sure with a great deal of personal satisfaction and achievement. It is a shame that we should all underestimate their efforts.
It has been suggested that we should show what people are, outside the heroes, the great figures of history. Every year UNESCO promotes on a world scale the recognition of centenaries. Next year will be the 150th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx. I am glad to say that at the General Conference of UNESCO the Russians came, with surprising timidity, but perhaps with latent bluster behind it, and asked that Karl Marx should be recognised. There was no resistance from any part of the world, 481 because we were talking about something, the recognition of someone who has had a profound influence on mankind, which can be done objectively through UNESCO. It strips away all ideology and on this we can have common ground.
Many years ago, when I was on the original UNESCO United Kingdom delegation, we proposed a series, "Of Human Excellence", and submitted a list of people who had made their imprint on the world in the things in which every community was interested. We did not get away with that. J. B. Priestley proposed an Order of Merit on a world scale, an Order of World Citizenship. I think that this was a brilliant idea, because it was an accumulator. We could have nominated six in the first year, 60 in the next year, 600 the year after, then 6,000 and then 6 million, until finally we secured recognition that merit was for the accomplishments of the common citizen.
I hope that I shall not forestall anything my noble friend on the Front Bench will say in referring to the questions of my noble friend Lord Brockway. I declare an interest here, because I was British delegate at the General Conference last year and I am a member of the National Commission of UNESCO. It is true that over many years we have been neglectful of the real purposes of the National Commission. I believe that too much emphasis has been placed on its second function, that of advising the delegation. But I assure your Lordships that the United Kingdom Commission has been reorganised, and briefing in anticipation of the General Conference is going forward.
I would give my noble friend this assurance about the biennial programme. In the past Governments have found themselves confronted with a fait accompli too late for the National Commission to influence events, but we are now moving into every department ahead of time to try to find out what they propose to do, I hope constructively and not negatively, and on these lines lies the encouragement that we shall be prepared for the next General Conference. We are still a long way from achieving total international understanding, but in a world of about 3,400 million people, of whom over half are illiterate and of 482 whom, at least in the developing two-thirds of the world, half are under the age of 15, that is to be expected. I follow the right reverend Prelate in believing that the young generation throughout the world, because they have been born into a world of awareness, will be receptive if our methods of communication are not the poison gas of propaganda and the paralysing gas of apathy.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, I have heard with great appreciation what my noble friend said in reply to the points that I raised. I do not think that they have been publicly stated before and I am delighted that they should be stated now.
§ LORD RITCHIE-CALDER
My Lords, we went to the last General Conference pretty well confronted with something we could not radically change, and now we say that, so far as the next two years are concerned, we are going to see in advance what we can helpfully do.
§ 5.19 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF IDDESLEIGH
My Lords, when I heard the speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Rowley, of the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, and of the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie-Calder, on the subject of the inevitable nationalistic bias in history's teaching, my mind went back to the middle-1920s when it was my duty to teach American history to American schoolboys in the ancient city of Philadelphia, the city in which the Declaration of Independence was signed. I felt a certain degree of nervousness at the situation, but I believe that it all went very well. Youth is generous and youth is humorous. We both laughed a good deal that I should be expounding to American boys the iniquities of Lord North and George III. Perhaps I was in the position to explain that those characters were to be blamed rather for stupidity than for ill-will; and when it came to the burning of the White House I was able to explain that it was a retaliatory burning in revenge for the burning of Toronto by American troops in the same war.
I believe that we exaggerate the importance of the textbooks and the bias contained in them; and I believe that, at least in civilised countries, that bias is gradually disappearing. The last time I 483 was in America I noticed that American schoolchildren were learning their geography from a book with the inspiring title of One World.
I have heard a great many highly informative and able speeches, and I find little that I can add to them. I was particularly interested in the speech of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Norwich. This is a matter in which the Churches can have a considerable degree of influence in many countries, and not least in the new nations of Africa. Education is still largely in the hands of Christian bodies, and they are in a position to influence, to some extent, the historical teaching that is given in the schools of these new nations.
I will not try to add to the words which the right reverend Prelate has uttered, but I should like to render to him the support of some 2,400 Prelates who constituted the Second Council of the Vatican. In December, 1965, that Council, after full and careful discussion, adopted a document entitled The Church in the World To-day. One important chapter in that document concerned the necessity for peace and the means that should be adopted to avoid international war. With your Lordships' permission, I will quote the penultimate paragraph of that chapter, because it should certainly be on record in any discussion such as we have had today. It is the paragraph most relevant to the subject under discussion. It reads:The strenuous and ceaselessly prolonged examinations of peace and disarmament problems, and international conferences about them, must be considered the first steps towards a solution which need to be pressed forward with great urgency in the future if they are to achieve practical results. Nevertheless, men should beware of committing themselves only to the efforts of others without taking trouble about their own minds. Statesmen are not only answerable for the public welfare; yet they depend very much on public opinion and sentiment. It is no use their setting out to establish peace so long as feelings of hostility, contempt and mistrust, racial hatreds or obstinate ideologies divide men and set them against each other. Our greatest need is to reorientate people's minds, to re-educate public opinion. Educators, especially of the young, and those who shape public opinion, should think it a most serious duty to create in the minds of all a new feeling for peace. All of us, indeed, must change our hearts, looking to the wide world and to those tasks we can perform together to help our race to better itself.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ LORD ILFORD
My Lords, I should like first of all to associate myself with those noble Lords who have expressed appreciation to the noble Lord, Lord Wade, for initiating this discussion this afternoon, and for the well-informed and interesting speech with which he introduced it. Our discussions this afternoon have turned mainly upon UNESCO—what it does, and what it might be expected to do. It is the case, I think, that UNESCO, if I may borrow a phrase which I think was used by the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, has failed to impress the image of its purpose upon the nations. if by that the noble Lord meant that it has failed to impress the image of its purpose upon the people, I should certainly agree with him; and I should feel no sense of disappointment, because UNESCO is not the sort of organisation that will ever impress the image of its purpose on the public mind. It is essentially an organisation which exists to influence Governments. If we can say that it has succeeded in impressing the image of its purpose on Governments—and I think it probably has—then UNESCO is in fact performing the task for which it was created.
I must confess that when I first read the terms of the noble Lord's Question I felt a certain amount of apprehension. My alarm was aroused by the latter part of the Question, in which he calls for a programme:designed to lessen the nationalist bias in history textbooks …We have not heard much this afternoon about that part of the Question. The noble Lord himself gave us some instances of that which I think illustrated clearly what may happen if that particular mode of propaganda is employed. Indeed, in our generation we have watched this happen again and again in Communist States, Fascist States and totalitarian States of all kinds: they seek to influence the minds of men through children's textbooks. This is a dangerous principle to follow, and I am glad that we have not heard UNESCO pressed too vigorously to revise the textbooks which are used in teaching in schools. It is a subtly dangerous thing to do. It is not dangerous only because the wrong material may be found in textbooks; it is dangerous, too, because some things 485 which ought to be included in textbooks are left out.
I should regret the use in English schools of textbooks which made no reference to the great service which this nation paid to India during the period of our rule there. Britain brought to India two things which India never had before and which she has never had since. We brought to the Indian continent peace, and we brought unity. We brought an end to the continuous strife which we found in that continent when we went there. In the short period since we have left India, the Indian Government have been engaged in two wars, one with another nation of the Commonwealth.
I personally should regret to find in English textbooks no reference to the great services which this country has rendered to the peoples of Africa. In less than a century we have brought civilisation to places where—let us be frank about it—barbarism existed before we went there. True it is that we have not been wholly successful in establishing in the African States the Parliamentary system upon which they were founded, but the time may yet come when Parliamentary government may make better progress in Africa than it has done hitherto. Surely it is a good thing that each generation should be taught something of the services that the British people have rendered in those two great continents. My Lords, there is nothing unduly nationalistic about that.
I should regret, and deeply regret, if some movement were made to eliminate references of that nature in the textbooks used in schools. It is a regrettable fact—but it is, I fear, a fact—that there are many persons in the world to-day who condemn every act this country ever does, or has ever done, as blameworthy, merely because it has been done by the British people. I hope that persons who hold these views—and I regret to say that sometimes they seem to be not uncommon —will have no part in deciding what ought to have a place in school textbooks. It is just as important that these textbooks should contain the acts for which this country can be justly proud, and not only those acts for which it can be condemned.
There is not much more I desire to say. There is, I think, in all these questions a danger that we may teach children that there exists some agency to which their 486 loyalty and legitimate pride should be directed, rather than to their own native land. I cannot think it is wrong to bring children up to love their country and to respect its institutions; to respect what their country has done in the world. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Wade, for having eliminated from his speech any suggestion of that sort. I am sure that that means that this afternoon we all wholeheartedly endorse what he has said in opening this most interesting discussion.
In conclusion, my Lords, perhaps I may offer a word of apology to the noble Lord who is going to reply for the Government. Because I have an engagement, from which I cannot escape, at six o'clock, I shall not have the good fortune to be here to hear him wind up this discussion.
§ 5.32 p.m.
§ LORD HANKEY
My Lords, I also should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Wade, for raising these issues of international misunderstanding caused by education. Having studied history after the First World War, not only at Oxford but also at Bonn University and later at the Sorbonne, I am particularly conscious of these difficulties. I believe that a measure of international education is a most valuable corrective to nationalism in textbooks, and that this will become much more important when we enter Europe, especially important perhaps at teacher training level. Several speakers in the debate have drawn attention to the disappearance, the slow disappearance, of differences between England and Scotland over the centuries, and I should certainly hope that something similar can be achieved at least in Europe.
Two current examples of international education, in both of which I must declare an interest, are the Atlantic College at St. Donat's Castle in South Wales and the European Institute of Business Administration at Fontainebleau. I mention these examples because otherwise the phrase "international education" seems rather obscure. The Atlantic College, now expanding to about 240 students, is a sixth-form or pre-university college, with boys from thirty countries, about one-third of them from Great Britain. They are aged from 16½ to 18½—old enough to want to know about the 487 world, but still young enough to be impressionable and free from fixed prejudices. After only four years the Atlantic College has sent its students to a hundred and one universities all over the world, thus proving that this sort of education can be a great success. It is only the first of a chain of international colleges mixing boys of different nationalities and different social origins.
The Atlantic College is taking part in the negotiations of the International Schools Examination Syndicate at Geneva, which aims at producing an international Baccalaureate examination. This, if generally accepted, would vastly diminish the present difficulties which make it hard for a boy of one country to go to a university in another. I believe that developments of this sort would do more than almost anything else to diminish the misunderstandings which are caused by education. I mention these negotiations, which are really of great importance and significance, because they already seem to be leading to a more unified and less nationalistic attitude to school curricula as regards history. Probably in the end there will have to be some real meeting of minds about the contents of textbooks. Perhaps UNESCO can help. I agree with those who have said how very difficult this is, and if we think of the terrible events we have seen in two World Wars in our lifetime we realise that it is extremely hard to produce objectivity among writers of history about them. Meanwhile, it is good for the students at St. Donat's and other international colleges to beat these problems out for themselves and to compare the textbooks on history which they bring from their own countries.
Secondly, I mentioned the European Institute of Business Administration at Fontainebleau. This is a sort of all-European Harvard business school. We teach the most modern business management techniques in English, French and German to post-graduate students from a great many countries. The British students, I am glad to say, seem to do particularly well there. We are producing at Fontainebleau a race of businessmen able to operate in several languages in any part of Europe or America, or indeed beyond. When these 488 carefully selected men from the Atlantic College or the European Institute of Business Management, or other similar institutions, get to the top of the tree, as in due course many will, their training and the links they will have with similar men in other countries can hardly fail to be an inestimable asset for the cause of better international understanding.
Let us not exaggerate. These institutions which I have mentioned are still on a very small scale. They are a begining of something which may, and perhaps should, become a feature of the new world which the computer revolution is now producing. For everywhere the great companies and new industrial groupings are spreading out across the frontiers. Names like Shell, I.C.I., Unilever, Philips, Olivetti, and many others, are a household word in several continents. The men needed by these vast concerns are not likely to be produced by a narrow nationalism in education. We all need to move forward to new conceptions, such as the noble Lord, Lord Wade, has adumbrated. And for this purpose I believe that a measure of international education would seem to offer valuable advantages.
§ 5.39 p.m.
§ LORD GRIDLEY
My Lords, as I am the last speaker in this debate, I will not detain your Lordships for more than a very few minutes before the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, winds up and makes his comments on the speeches of various noble Lords. While sympathising with the obvious sincerity lying behind the Motion which stands in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Wade, the object of which is in the interests of world peace, nevertheless I find it difficult to define precisely in practical terms the term in the Motion, "nationalist bias", as portrayed in history books. The noble Lord, Lord Wade, has given us some examples of an excessive national bias, which I think are a quite obvious danger to world peace. So far as our own nation is concerned, I do not think we are guilty of this with regard to our own history. I also submit that we are not guilty of any excessive national bias.
I am a believer in the Commonwealth of Nations and the origin of its evolvement, with all its ideas and attainments, 489 and in particular our association with our friends in that community. I feel that this community, as it exists, is an example of how a world community should evolve in a wider sense. I am also concerned that we may fail in our contribution to world peace. We may fail because we shall not be strong enough in placing before the world community the great experience which has come to us from our associations with other nations in this Commonwealth which has evolved, and which would be of great benefit to the world community at large. After all, there was a time when we extended our influence over one-quarter of the globe.
With regard to the period of time in our history which has been covered by noble Lords in this debate, I should like to speak of a period which is nearer to the present time. We have been through the momentous occasions of two world wars, and that is a period of which I can speak from my own experience. In addition to that, having been a member of the Colonial Service overseas, giving effect to the policies of Her Majesty's Government, whether Labour or Conservative, I have been able to see for myself the effects of those policies, emanating no doubt from deliberations in another place and from deliberations of noble Lords in this House. Living among the people who are directly affected by these policies I have been able to see the results, and it is only right to say that they have been invariably good. Mistakes we have made, but on the whole we have done far more good than harm.
My Lords, it is worth while giving a few examples of what we have done in the territories for which we were responsible. I will give only a few examples, and I hope that they will be recorded in our history for posterity. We respected race, religion and local custom in all the territories which we administered. The rights of every individual were respected. We were second to none in seeing that there was no exploitation of the local community, and that all revenues which accrued from trading were paid into the coffers of the countries which we administered. Thus roads, hospitals, schools and universities were built, to the benefit of the local population. All these benefits were paid for indirectly by traders from this country, 490 a fact which is often forgotten at the present time.
I know another country in Europe which had possessions in a part of the world in which I served, the revenues of which went towards the revenues of their home Government. We would never contemplate anything like that, and it is worth remembering these things when we call into question any act of our own. A national bias is right, provided that we stand for what is right. There is very little wrong with what we have done, and we have done much that has benefited a great number of people.
What else did we do? We enacted labour codes to protect the workers in all areas from exploitation. Later, and as the countries advanced, we recruited trade union advisers from the Trade Union movement of this country to represent the workers locally and to train them to bargain in a free community, to the advancement of their own prosperity and status. All the time we trained people to manage their own affairs and to take over the posts we held, to our eventual extinction.
We must get out of the habit of making excuses for ourselves. We can only help world peace by insisting that much of what we have done is recorded for the benefit of all and for others to follow, if they desire to do so. It would seem that the examples we set and the precepts we followed would fit well into any pattern designed for a contented world community, living at peace, as an example for the United Nations to follow.
§ 5.48 p.m.
§ BARONESS EMMET OF AMBERLEY
My Lords, I must crave your Lordships' indulgence for not having put my name down on the Marshalled List, but I have been abroad until to-day. I wish briefly to support the noble Lord, Lord Wade, in his Unstarred Question from my own personal experience with regard to history. I went to schools in six countries—convents, boarding schools, day schools, high schools, pensions, and eventually to a boarding school in England. I certainly had a comprehensive education, but my history was fragmentary.
Perhaps I may give an illustration of what I had to reconcile in my mind. I learned in France, of course, that Charlemagne was the great French Emperor. 491 I learned in Germany that Karl der Grosse was the greatest Emperor they had ever had, and it was not until I came back to boarding school in England that I discovered it was the self-same person. Nevertheless, I think I benefited from having had a three-dimensional characterisation of this one man, and learning European history in Europe is certainly a tremendous advantage, for which I am grateful.
I was struck by the suggestion made by the noble Lord, Lord Wade, that the Foreign Office might inquire into the attitude that other countries take towards us in their history books. Perhaps I might give him this example, which again I experienced in the United States of America, when I was in New York in 1952. I went round some of the elementary schools and a teacher asked whether the children might ask me questions. I said, "Certainly", and the first question I was asked, by a young boy of about 10 or 12, was, "How much subsidy do you still get from your Colonies?" This was in 1952, and regretfully I was reinforced in my opinion that United States foreign policy was still, so far as Colonialism was concerned, based on the Boston Tea Party.
Then of course one has had personal experience of the divergence between our Churches, and between the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England in particular, which are united in my family in a particular way. We remember the fulminations of the Pope against the Protestant heretics in the old days, and the vilification of the scarlet woman by the Protestant heretics on their side. Now this is all being brought together, understood, and the exaggerations removed. I was struck by a member of my family, who is a Catholic, who came to an English Communion service and was almost horrified by the fact that it was almost identical with her own Mass. This shows that when people come together in discussion or in reading or writing history, many of these misunderstandings disappear.
I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood. I do not think it is possible for modern history to be unbiased. After all, it is written by living people about people still living, or just 492 recently dead, and it would be a dull form of history if this were reduced to a sort of encyclopædic monologue. But as to past history, I feel that the noble Lord, Lord Wade, has raised a most important matter in regard to school textbooks. I greatly hope that, should we go into the Common Market, there will be a European University where perhaps special research may be made into European school textbooks, not with a view to making them all the same, but with a view to bringing to light exaggerations or gross omissions, so that in Europe we may grow together from childhood upwards in a friendly way.
I believe that this will be especially important in view of the writing of history which must be going on in the Communist countries at the present moment, and which I am afraid we should consider biased. What the historical teaching in China is at the moment, I tremble to think. Therefore I feel that we are greatly indebted to my noble friend Lord Wade for having put down this Question. There is a great deal of work to be done, especially, I think, in school textbooks, and I hope that, certainly in Europe, when the Community grows together, it will work together on this aspect.
§ 5.52 p.m.
§ LORD CONESFORD
My Lords, I should perhaps apologise to the House for intervening at all because, owing to an engagement fixed a long time ago, I have missed most of this debate, including a number of speeches which I particularly wished to hear. I shall be brief, but I want to raise one matter which I believe to be of some importance. The first thing that struck me about the terms of the Question of the noble Lord, Lord Wade, which has given rise, I am assured on all hands, to a most interesting debate, is the entire absence of mention of the word "truth". I cannot help thinking it very important that the textbooks should try to tell the truth, and I do not suppose anybody will differ from that view.
The noble Lord, Lord Wade, mentions in his Question one possible source of distortion, of the truth; namely, nationalism. But if there is in a particular textbook a distortion through nationalist feeling, there is at least a possibility of that being corrected by 493 another book with perhaps a different bias; and both those biases may, of course, be unconscious. But there is little remedy against the bad influence of a hook which deliberately lies, and, unfortunately, such books have been deliberately published by UNESCO. I shall, of course, proceed to give an example, to which I drew the attention of this House nearly five years ago, and the Foreign Office Minister who answered my Question admitted that the facts were as I stated them.
We shall not necessarily get more accurate books if we try to exclude any single influence that may effect a particular historian. In such study of history as I made at school, and when I read Greats at Oxford, I hope that I learned the value of turning to original sources and trying to discover the truth to the best of my ability. In this short debate, in which I think I am the thirteenth speaker, I happen to be the fourth Rugbeian, though I am afraid that I am very much senior to any of the others who have spoken, including the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Norwich. We had a great teacher in my day, the late Mr. Hastings, and I think I learned a little from him about trying to ascertain the truth; and I learned a good deal more when I read Greats at Oxford, though the periods of history I then studied were the Classical periods in Greece and Rome.
But what is the record of UNESCO? Here my memory may be playing me false, but I believe that at one time UNESCO set about trying to create a new history of the world, but in order to be free from any kind of bias it decided to omit Christianity. That was not, if I am right in my facts, perhaps the most useful way to produce a good history of the world, because, whatever may be thought of the disruptive effects of introducing Christianity when Christianity is not a universial religion, a world history written without mention of Christianity was most unlikely to be true.
Let me come to my example of the publication by UNESCO of a book that deliberately lied. On December 18, 1962, I tabled a Question in this House:To ask Her Majesty's Government whether UNESCO has recently published a booklet called Equality of Rights between Races and Nationalities in the U.S.S.R.; whether the authors (inter alia) thus describe the annexation 494 of the Baltic States: 'In 1940 the Soviet régime was restored in the Baltic republics which voluntarily joined the Union'; where responsibility for this publication lies; and what steps Her Majesty's Government are taking to secure its immediate withdrawal and to prevent the funds of UNESCO from being used in future for a work of such a character?"—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, Vol. 245, col. 1017, 18/12/62.]That, my Lords, was the Question. The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, at that time my noble friend Lord Dundee, replied in these words:My Lords, the booklet referred to by my noble friend was published by UNESCO earlier this year and it contains the reference to the Baltic States which he quotes. Responsibility for publication lies with UNESCO. The Director-General of UNESCO has been informed that in the view of Her Majesty's Government this particular booklet falls far short of the standard of objectivity and regard for the truth which ought to be observed in UNESCO'S publications. So far as future action is concerned, the Executive Board of UNESCO is setting up a Publications Committee to prepare general directives concerning publications of UNESCO, and the United Kingdom member of the Board has supported this proposal."—[col. 1018.]I asked, in a supplementary question, whether the Minister recalled that:the Governments of this country since the annexation have consistently refused de jure recognition of U.S.S.R. sovereignty over these territories because of the circumstances of their annexation,and I added these words:Why cannot the Communists pay for their own propaganda? Is it not outrageous that the funds of UNESCO, to which we contribute, should be devoted to the dissemination of falsehood?"—[col. 1018.]I do not apologise for those words. So far as I know, UNESCO has never apologised for this publication; nor, so far as I know, has this publication been withdrawn. I bring this matter to the notice of the House to show that it is not only nationalist feeling that may introduce bias. The most disastrous results may be brought about by deliberate lying, of which this is a notorious example.
History books are important, and we want them as nearly as possible to tell the truth, and certainly never deliberately to tell an untruth; but we deceive ourselves if we think that the only thing that can cause an untruth or a bias is nationalist or patriotic feeling. An untruth can result from many other things, and not least from deliberate lying. Of the many international institutions at present working in the world, lying has been indulged in as much by UNESCO as 495 by any other body. I hope that the discussion initiated by the noble Lord, Lord Wade, will have a happy result and will call general attention to the importance of textbooks and the importance of truth in textbooks. But we ought not to blind ourselves to the use which has been made in the past of UNESCO, which may be made of UNESCO now, and against which we must guard in the future.
§ 6.2 p.m.
My Lords, I also should like to apologise for not having put down my name among those wishing to speak in this debate and for intervening. I would thank the noble Lord, Lord Wade, very much indeed for having given us such an interesting afternoon. I am sorry I was not able to be present when the noble Lord opened the debate, but I have listened to the other speakers with interest and also with a certain amount of satisfaction; because so much of what has been said and suggested this afternoon was familiar to me during the 14½ years I had the privilege to lead the great body of Scouts and, indirectly, Guides—some 17 million young people throughout the world. They have learned how to live together in harmony, not by destroying their national pride but by building it up, thus giving themselves the self-respect that enables them to appreciate the national pride and achievements of other countries as well as their own. We have taught them that the privileges which we enjoy to-day have not come just by chance, but as the result of sacrifices, of life itself in many cases, of countless thousands of men and women who have trodden this path before us. Do we realise the inspirational value of those lives? Do we realise the importance of teaching the boys and girls of to-day the heritage which they have received from generations past? Do we give sufficient emphasis to the fact that privileges carry with them responsibilities?
When I was Chief Scout I attended many international gatherings, great camps with anything from 10,000 to 50,000 boys. They did not have the International Scouting flag over their little camps, but they flew the flag of their own country and paid tribute to it at the flag-raising every morning. They remained people of their own countries, with their own cultures, their own civilisa- 496 tions, their own religions; but at the same time they were able—Jew, Christian and Moslem—to live together and to realise that they were of one body, the one with the other. One cannot destroy national spirit and expect something of value to come out of that destruction. If one destroys the spirit of a people, all that can follow is some woolly internationalism with no value behind it and no true understanding of the lives of others.
Our boys, in their thousands, travel overseas to the uttermost parts of the earth. They camp together; they live in the homes of the boys of the nation which they are visiting; they get to know and understand each other in a way they never could in a directed tour. Let us teach our boys the history of our nation. Let us teach them what Ham Mukasa, the greatest African I have ever met, said to me when I was visiting his country. He said: "If only the young could understand!". When I asked what he meant, he told me what it was like before the white man came, when ritual sacrifice was common and slave raids ravaged his peoples.
We have much to be proud of. I believe that we have done more to civilise the world than most of the other nations put together. We have carried misfortune with us in some cases, but in general an understanding of the interdependence of mankind. Let us teach our boys that. Let us teach the value of the heritage which we have received, and teach them to pay their way through this world by shouldering the responsibilities which go with privilege. Lack of self-respect is at the back of half our troubles to-day. If we can build self-respect in our young people, we can look forward to a future as glorious as our past should be recognised as having been.
§ 6.8 p.m.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, I join with the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Wade, for initiating this discussion. I should like to congratulate him upon having done so in such a constructive and stimulating way. The noble Lord, Lord Rowley, the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie-Calder, and I and others have been associated together over many years in trying to 497 further the causes about which the noble Lord has spoken to-day, and I have always had a great respect for the tenacious loyalty which he has had for the conception of a World Government. It struck me as most remarkable that appeals for support for a better spirit of understanding should have stimulated some most extraordinary ideas and the thought that there was in this any sense of attack on a genuine sense of pride in one's own national achievements. I have as great a sense of national pride as any noble Lord in this House, but that does not in any way belittle my endeavours to secure an international understanding and an international loyalty, which this world so badly needs.
Much has been done by those who share the noble Lord's views to create a change in the climate of opinion about this. At one time those who supported the idea of a world community were regarded as cranks and even dangerous. But as the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, said, all the major political Parties now pay at any rate lip service to this idea of World Government and world citizenship. But I agree that much more needs to be done, and I say that all the more feelingly having heard the revealing contribution by the noble Lord, Lord Cones-ford, who comes along without giving any notice, without even saying that he is going to speak, let alone what he is going to speak about, and on the basis of one instance makes the most sweeping charges of lying against a great international organisation.
I share the disappointment of those who find in current United Nations' activity a good deal of fault-finding, as between one nation State and another. I accept what has been said about the opportunities which challenge UNESCO to generate or regenerate the intellectual, philosophical and political climate, which would encourage the growth of the United Nations as a genuine world organisation, within which individual nation States, bereft of some of their more dangerous powers, can still develop their national characteristics. If we can increase the effectiveness of UNESCO—one of the United Nations' own Organisations—in this struggle for the minds of men, then I believe that the days of permanent world peace could be brought perceptibly nearer.
498 The noble Lord, Lord Wade, however, seemed to suggest that the smallness of Britain's contribution restricted the work of UNESCO. But, of course, the Organisation is financially autonomous, and its budget is determined biennially by the 120 member States. Our commitment is to provide just short of 7 per cent. of that budget. Seven per cent. of the whole, as the contribution from one of the 120 members, is not on the face of it, at any rate, an especially mean contribution. At all events, that is the agreed proportion that this country pays towards the United Nations' costs. Last year our proportion involved a payment of £566,000 for the year, and as the budget for the two-year period, 1967–68, is 61.5 million dollars our share will be approximately £730,000 for each of those two years. But in addition to its regular budget UNESCO will dispose of a further 57 million dollars in carrying out work as an executive agent for the United Nations Development Programme. We contribute to this Programme on a voluntary basis, and last year we subscribed just under £4,200,000 and have pledged a similar sum for this year.
The noble Lord was especially critical of the sum spent by UNESCO on education. He said that 38 million dollars, which is the amount available from all sources including the United, Nations Development Programme funds, is an impoverished-looking figure. I quite agree with him that if one compares this with the estimated sum of £40,000 million spent every year on military preparations, it seems a disgracefully mean figure. But when one compares military expenditure with the resources devoted to any one of the world's social services, the proportion is always an affront to human conscience. When I say that, I am not in any way attempting to denigrate what has been done by national communities in other respects, but that figure of £40,000 million is a challenge to the decency of all of us. Until we can get that sum down we cannot really claim that we are a civilised world. However, one cannot blame UNESCO for the size of military budgets.
The sum to be spent on what is called UNESCO'S approved programme—Education for International Understanding—is 156,000 dollars. It is fair to say that this is not all the story, and that there are 499 other items of UNESCO's programme which also aim at increasing international understanding through education. The programme of youth activities, for example, with a budget allocation of 389,000 dollars, includes a substantial sum for the promotion of youth participation in development and international co-operation.
I was delighted to hear the case put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, and by my noble friends Lord Ritchie-Calder and Lord Brockway, for increased support of the Council for Education in World Citizenship. All of us who have had any personal contact with the work of C.E.W.C.—and I suppose that goes for a good many of us in this Chamber—would like to pay tribute to the organisers and to the young citizens who take part in its activities. I gather that their services now extend to 1,300 member schools. Incidentally, these member schools also pay a contribution to the cost of the organisation, and the money which is received from the Central Education Department is not all on which they depend.
Reference was made to the remarkable Christmas Conferences which C.E.W.C. organises, and I must say that I personally derived a great deal of satisfaction from learning that the demand for places in those Christmas Conferences always exceeds the number available. I find that a tremendous encouragement, and I believe it should be a tremendous encouragement for all of us who have faith in our young people. It is the fact, however, that the Council receives a grant of £950 a year from the Department of Education and Science, and £130 only from the Scottish Education Department.
I must point out to my noble friends, and to the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, that financial support for education in this country comes very largely from local education authorities, and there is absolutely no reason why the local education authorities should not make a contribution towards C.E.W.C. Some of them indeed do, and one hopes that more of them will do so. Nevertheless, my right honourable friend the Minister of Education has said that he is prepared to consider carefully the possibility of an increase in the Government grant, and 500 I hope very much indeed that what has been said this afternoon will be read and considered by my right honourable friend before he makes a decision on this point.
I was greatly impressed by the speech of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Norwich, but, of course, as I am sure he will realise, much of what he mentioned is being supported by Her Majesty's Government or by the local authorities. Educational cruises, for example—and I was interested to hear that he had been on one—rely directly upon the support of the local education authorities who, together with the Department of Education, recognise their educational value.
Special emphasis has been placed on school links, which were mentioned by the right reverend Prelate, and I understand that well over 1,000 have now been established between schools here and schools abroad. Undoubtedly, many home to home links have also sprung naturally from these exchange visits, both between schools and between towns and cities, in connection with what is known as the town and city "twinning" programme. I assure the right reverend Prelate that Her Majesty's Government encourage town twinning as a means of promoting international friendship, although, of course, the initiative must lie with the towns themselves or with their local authorities. A Joint Twinning Committee now exists to co-ordinate policy on exchanges, and the secretary is provided by the Association of Municipal Corporations, while the International Union of Local Authorities is also represented.
The right reverend Prelate, and the noble Lord, Lord Hankey, spoke with warmth of the Atlantic College at St. Donat's Castle. As the noble Lord will be aware, the Foreign Office made a total grant of £80,000 to enable the College to establish itself, but on the clear understanding that this was to provide time to raise capital funds from non-Government sources. While we wish it well, and while the College has been given provisional recognition as a further education establishment, it has always been maintained that no further Government financial assistance could be given without altering the status of the institution. However, I understand that things 501 are going well with the College, and the next three prospective sites are already known, and are in Canada, Scandinavia and the Federal Republic of Germany.
The right reverend Prelate also mentioned the provision of accommodation for overseas visitors; and, as he said, the conference on accommodation for young visitors has been considering the possibility of providing a permanent hostel in London. As I believe he also mentioned, a sum of money, small but sufficient for the limited purpose for which it is intended, has been advanced for carrying out a feasibility study of the project, which should enable a suitable appeal for funds to be launched.
Given time, my Lords, one could give a list of many other activities which go towards building international understanding, some of which have been mentioned—such activities as the Associated Schools Project and the London International Youth Science Fortnight. I would also mention the Co-operative College at Loughborough. Then there have been Human Rights Year, War on Want, World Refugee Year, OXFAM and the British Volunteer Programme, of which mention has been made. This has grown since 1962 from a scheme which involved £28,000, covering the cost of 320 volunteers, to what it was last year, when the Government were providing £763,000 and there were between 1,600 and 1,700 volunteers. Many of these volunteers, I might say (and I say this to the noble Lord, Lord Rowley, and others, who spoke about the importance of teachers) were in fact young men, and in some cases women, who went out as teachers.
Special mention has been made, in the Question itself and in the speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Wade, and others, of the need for better history textbooks. Here, I can probably tell the House something of what UNESCO has done. I cannot tell the House what it did in relation to the specific publication of which the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, made mention, but I will make it my business to find out. Following a project involving the international exchange and review of geography textbooks, UNESCO has now taken another initiative, modest but interesting, with regard to secondary school world history books. Canada, France and the United Kingdom were asked in late 1965 to recommend three 502 world history textbooks in current use by students in the 15 to 18 age group for review by specialists in India, Japan and the U.A.R. The idea is for these reviewers to pay particular attention to accuracy, adequacy and objectivity, and balance of treatment of their own respective countries. If this pilot project is successful, UNESCO proposes to extend it, provided, of course, that Member States mutually agree.
The noble Lord, Lord Wade, asked about the other experiment, which was started in 1950, when a Committee of our own National Commission for UNESCO appointed a Textbook Sub-Committee. They did some work, but very little progress, I understand, was made. Indeed, I share the doubts, expressed by my noble friend Lord Rowley, about whether a sizeable programme of action comparable with the World Literacy Programme would bring practical benefits, compared with what might be done with the same amount of money in other fields of education and science which now claim UNESCO'S prior attention. However, this does not mean that we should not consider very carefully what more might be done; and I would suggest to the noble Lord that this is a matter which should properly be considered by the United Kingdom National Commission for UNESCO—or, rather, in the first instance, the Commission's Education Advisory Committee.
I will undertake to ensure that this conception of revising national history textbooks will be considered by the National Commission, and I thought there were two other specific proposals made this afternoon which are also worthy of consideration. One was put forward by my noble friend Lord Rowley, when he suggested the idea of a U.N.-sponsored study or a U.N.-sponsored publication of a history of mankind's effort to construct a world organisation. The other proposal, put forward by the right reverend Prelate, was for a similarly sponsored work on what he called the benefactors of the world; in other words, not national heroes, much as we might applaud them in other contexts, but heroes of the human race. Both these proposals seem to me sensible and practical, and worthy of consideration; and I will endeavour to see that they are so considered by the National Commission.
503 I want to say a word about this National Commission, because I detected in what was said by my noble friend Lord Brockway a criticism that was both inaccurate and unfair. At the beginning of 1965, responsibility for the United Kingdom's relations with UNESCO was transferred from the Department of Education and Science to the Ministry of Overseas Development. This was meant to be an opportunity for a new initiative, and certainly the then Minister of Overseas Development, Mrs. Barbara Castle, intended to use it as such an opportunity.
As a result of the advice which she received, the National Commission was reconstituted last year. It is now a body of just over 20 people chosen as individuals for their personal ability and special experience and knowledge. The Minister of Overseas Development is Chairman of the Commission, which is assisted by four advisory committees, a public relations committee and a development committee. My noble friend asked what action had been taken following the statement that these bodies would be set up. The answer is that they have been set up and they are actually at work. In total, more than 60 individuals are directly associated with their work. My noble friend Lord Ritchie-Calder, as one would have gathered from what he said this afternoon, is one of those involved, and I should like to pay my tribute to the contribution which he has made.
My Lords, this Commission is very conscious of the fact that more needs to be done to involve voluntary organisations and other interested sections of British public life in the work of UNESCO. The Commission wishes to ensure that useful suggestions for action reach it and, if regarded favourably, are put forward by British delegations to UNESCO for further consideration and action. This is precisely what I am proposing to do about the three specific proposals that have been made this afternoon.
The newly reconstituted National Commission, jointly with UNESCO, had responsibility for the holding of a Round Table on Human Rights at Oxford, a Symposium on Agroclimatology at Reading University and an International Symposium at Cheltenham on Education for International Understanding at Primary School 504 Level. Celebrations were held in London last October to mark the twentieth anniversary of UNESCO, and on that occasion the Department published and distributed to universities, technical, higher and adult education institutions, secondary schools, public libraries and other interested organisations in the United Kingdom an illustrated booklet entitled Britain and Unesco. I accept from my noble friend that in the past some voluntary organisations have suggested that they were not sufficiently in touch with the National Commission, and it was to break down any sense of isolation that the Commission held a one-day meeting last September at Lancaster House for the purpose of telling representatives of non-Governmental organisations about the current work of UNESCO and of providing them with an opportunity to ask questions.
Following the recent General Conference of UNESCO a series of more specialised meetings is being held to acquaint voluntary bodies of the outcome of the recent General Conference and to invite comments about the future. Although the National Commission meets under Ministerial chairmanship, and its Secretariat is provided by officials of the O.D.M., it is by no means dominated by the official world. As I have said, some 60 to 70 people from all sections of British life are closely involved. The chairmen of the advisory committees are distinguished people from universities and other walks of British public life. Some of them took a full part as members of the British delegation in the proceedings of the Programme Corn-mission at UNESCO's recent General Conference, and the three chairmen of the advisory committees have already paid short visits to UNESCO Headquarters for exploratory discussions with officials there on future lines of work. This I hope answers the criticism made by my noble friend that the programme is drawn up by the Director-General without any opportunity of criticism or of amendment. The fact of the matter is that it is drawn up only after various bodies have had the opportunity to put forward their suggestions.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, if my noble friend will read Hansard tomorrow he will find that I made no statement of that character at all.
§ LORD BESWICK
I am bound to say, without wishing to give offence, that in that case I do not know what my noble friend said. I will, of course, read what he said. What I understood him to say was that a draft programme was drawn up by the Director-General, and that there was insufficient time to make amendment to this programme before it was put into operation.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, unfortunately my noble friend was in another place when I was making this statement. Therefore, I excuse him for not hearing what I said.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, although at the time I happened to be, technically, outside this Chamber, I was, in fact, consulting my advisers on the very points my noble friend was raising. However, what I am saying is that suggestions are made at the biennial Conference of UNESCO. They are considered—and considered after the various advisory committees of the various Member States have had the opportunity of putting forward specific proposals—and the draft programme which is drawn up by the Director-General is drawn up after taking into full account the ideas and suggestions advanced by the various delegations from the different Member States.
What I am now going on to say is that if we are to persuade UNESCO of the need of a programme designed to lessen nationalist bias in history textbooks, then clearly we first must persuade our own Commission; and that, in turn, will take advice from the sub-committee, in this case the Education Sub-Committee. I stress again that the advisory sub-committees are not dominated by officials. The Chairman of the Education Advisory Committee is, I think, well known to my noble friend. He is Mr. H. L. Elvin, Director of the Institute of Education. The Vice-Chairman is Sir Ronald Gould, General Secretary of the N.U.T., and I see a list of names, prominent and distinguished, from technical colleges, teacher-training colleges, comprehensive schools and the Co-operative College at Loughborough, as well as the universities and local education authorities. I am sure that my noble friend will be satisfied that it is the sort of body he would like to have considering the proposals made this afternoon. I can assure noble Lords that consideration along these lines will be 506 welcomed by my right honourable friend the Minister of Overseas Development, in his capacity as Chairman of UNESCO's National Commission in the United Kingdom.
The noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood said, in the course of a speech which I found most interesting, that all the re-writing of history books cannot obliterate the past. I quite agree. But what we can seek to obliterate, to use the words quoted by the noble Earl, Lord Iddesleigh, is hostility, contempt and mistrust which spring from incomplete understanding of the past. It is on that understanding that we can look forward more surely to a future which does not despise national pride, but, at the same time, has a genuine sense of world citizenship, and which is based on a system of enforceable world law, which will make war between national States inconceivable. Towards that objective I hope that this debate will have made a modest contribution.