§ 2.42 p.m.
§ LORD ROBERTSON OF OAKRIDGE rose to call attention to the need for a more comprehensive policy towards the youth of the nation, and to the desirability of creating further opportunities for young people to play a full part in every aspect of our national life; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, we discussed this particular question three years ago. We discussed it in terms of a Motion put forward by myself, and I am bound to say that the terms of that Motion were quite similar to the one which is before your Lordships to-day. Why is this? I can give only this reason: that for me this is an immensely important question. I feel that the future of our country depends more than anything else upon the future of our youth, and it seemed to me that it was time your Lordships should look at this matter again, and, incidentally, have a look to see what the Government have been doing about it in the meantime.
§ I should like to make two short preliminary remarks. The first is that I have prepared my Motion in consultation with the noble Lord, Lord Hunt. It is according to the tradition of this House that a Motion should appear over the name of one Peer only; but I think that your Lordship should know that the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, is indeed my partner. One effect of that will be that if either of us has to go out for a short time, the other will still be here to take a note. The other thing I would say is that it is most flattering to me that so many noble Lords have put down their names to speak on a subject in which they are evidently as interested as I am. It presents a slight problem. Let me put it in this way: that I shall do my best to be brief.394
§ My Lords, a fortnight ago we had a debate on sport. I think it a good thing that these two debates come close together, because they are allied subjects. During the debate on sport the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, said that some of the remarks made by Lord Willis were not directed to the Government but were directed to the community at large, and that it is one of the roles that our debates fulfil. I propose to direct my remarks to-day to the Government, and I am going to ask one or two questions, some of which may appear to be a little "loaded". But I hope that those who speak for the Government will know that I put my questions objectively, and that if my criticism is wrong I stand to be corrected.
§ I do not address my remarks to the community at large. A chief reason for that is that I have no homily to preach to the young people of our time. It is true that some of them sometimes behave quite tiresomely. But they are not alone in that among the young people of the world. During the debate a fortnight ago one noble Lord said, speaking of a certain form of hooliganism, that the police and magistrates should take a tougher line and that stiffer punishments should be imposed. I should think that is right; indeed, when I talk to young people I get the same opinion from them. But my own experience, which is not limited to young people of any particular class, is that when I talk to them and our conversation comes to an end I find myself, as I say "goodbye", most grateful to them for taking so much trouble and for being, apparently at all events, so interested in the few opinions that I have offered them. Moreover, I have found their own contributions most intelligent. So perhaps it is the fact that the young people of today will answer to the right approach.
§ I would ask your Lordships, in this connection, to bear in mind the picture of the answer they gave, of their reaction to Sir Malcolm Sargent's baton. That is a picture that sticks in my mind, and will always do so. I have nothing to say in the way of a homily to youth, and I have nothing in the way of a homily to say to old people, people of my generation and of the fairly many generations in between. In the Reith Lectures, the Provost of King's College, Cambridge, has given 395 us his views on family life, on the attitude of the older generations and various other aspects of the matter. If any of your Lordships are burning to know my views on these subjects, you can take it that they are the direct opposite of those of the learned don—not that that will worry him much.
§ When we discussed this question three years ago we were somewhat inhibited by the fact that we knew that a Review Committee, under Lady Albemarle, was about to report on the first five years' working of the Albemarle Plan. We have never heard anything more of that Report. I am bound to say that we were not promised that it would be published; but it is clearly a most important matter, and I hope that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor will be able to give us a little information about it this afternoon. I think that Parliament is entitled to hear the Committee's main findings. In parenthesis, may I say that I am very pleased that the noble and learned Lord is to reply to my Motion, because he is one who in the past has taken so much interest in this matter of youth, and, as we all know, he is also a most wise man.
§ The impression has gained ground (that is a journalist's way of saying "I think) that the original flurry engendered by the Albemarle Report has waned considerably. One thing which is certain is that the Government's contributions to the Youth Service's building projects have certainly waned. In the programme for 1962–63 £3 million was allotted. After that the figure went up a little. It never came within miles of what was asked for and needed, but that was not to be expected. However, it did mount a little. Then, in 1965, the Government deferred the start of all approved Youth Service projects. Without my going into too many details, it meant that the allocations for 1965–66 and 1966–67 were cut in half. The Minister has told us recently in another place that the allocation for 1968–69 is to be £3.8 million, instead of £4.8 million. In other words, it has been found to be a sitting target for the present economies. During the years about which I have been talking building costs have gone up.
Another event that has happened is that the Government have said that
sports projects should be counted in with the Youth Service projects. So, one way or another, it is fair to say that we are back where we were, and indeed are worse off than before Albemarle reported. To be frank, as I read through the Hansard report of the debate a fortnight ago I felt a little jealous of the generosity of the Government and of the Minister towards sport in comparison with their niggardly attitude towards the Youth Service. It is not only I who think this. May I repeat to your Lordships what the noble Lord, Lord Willis, said a fortnight ago in this House. I do not think he is here to-day, but I am sure he will not mind my quoting him. He said:
…the Youth Service is still the Cinderella of the services, and its resources and staffing are hopelessly and totally inadequate.…I am beginning to wonder whether there is anything that can be said in this House or anywhere else that will stir the conscience of our legislators."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7/2/68; col. 1145.]
My Lords, I could not have said it better myself. The noble Lord at that time was talking particularly of young people of school-leaving age. Certainly they need special consideration at this time when the raising of the school-leaving age has unfortunately been deferred. In that connection I am glad to see that the noble Earl, Lord Longford, is speaking in this debate, and I shall be interested to hear him—I am sorry, I gather that he is not in fact speaking in the debate, but he is present.
§ My next point concerns the provision of youth leaders. This is a matter upon which great stress was laid in the Albemarle Report, and it is an extremely important facet of the problem. I hope that the noble and learned Lord will be able to give us a little information on what success has been achieved in the recruitment of youth leaders. I am particularly interested in a suggestion which was made in the Albemarle Report that there should be periods of youth leadership in the courses which are held for social workers. I feel that this is very important, since it is from such a source that one hopes to get people to do the important research work which is so badly needed in the field of youth.
§ Then the Albemarle Report recommended one-year or two-year courses for mature students. The Minister was asked in the Albemarle Report to make 397 grants for this purpose. The only information I have on this matter is that there are courses in youth leadership at three of our universities. There is the National College at Leicester, and there are two colleges set up by voluntary organisations, one by the Y.M.C.A. and the other by the National Association of Boys' Clubs. This may sound quite a long list, but in fact the supply is very inadequate. That is certainly true of women, a number of whom are required in the Youth Service. As for grants, the Minister finances the College at Leicester, but the voluntary organisations have been told to apply to the local authorities for their grants. Frankly, they have had very indifferent luck with their applications.
§ I come now to deal with the matter which we discussed three years ago and which features as the most prominent point in my Motion to-day; I consider that it is a matter of paramount importance. It is the question of the promotion of opportunity for youth to give service to the community. When young people are given a responsible, constructive job to do, a job which they can see has some point and some challenge in it and a job which they feel is worth while, then invariably their response is immense. Incidentally, they then show less disposition to rebel against an adult society which seems to them to have no interest in them and to hold no interest for them. To be fair, since our last debate a good deal has been done. Due to the energies of local authorities and voluntary organisations quite a lot has been achieved. Voluntary Service Overseas was, of course, in existence before our last debate, and that, naturally, has had a special appeal for young people, but that is only one example. After our last debate the noble Baroness, Lady Swan-borough, gave inspiration to a very practical scheme in this country, and I hope that later in the debate she will be telling the House about her experiences in that scheme.
§ On November 14 last in another place the Minister made a very important statement—which I regret was not repeated in this House—setting out his own scheme, a scheme which, he said, would be backed by an opening subsidy of £100,000. To run the scheme, he 398 appointed a charitable trust with Mr. Douglas Houghton as chairman and Mr. Selwyn Lloyd and Mr. Grimond as vice-chairmen; and a number of other names which inspire confidence were included as members of the trust. I hope that I may be forgiven for making a somewhat frivolous remark at this point. I find it a little strange, even perhaps a little inappropriate, that three political luminaries should have been thought right to head a charitable trust of this sort. I should have thought that perhaps three generals would have been preferable; or, if one wants to spread it out more evenly, an admiral, a field-marshal and an air-marshal. But it is only a small point.
§ VISCOUNT MONTGOMERY OF ALAMEIN
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord whether he did not say a moment ago that the Provost of King's College, Cambridge, said that you are finished when you are 55? 1t is 25 years since I was 55, and the noble Lord will remember, I hope, that when we fought together at Alamein I was then 55. I thought we did not do so badly at 55.
§ LORD ROBERTSON OF OAKRIDGE
My Lords, I can only reply to the, noble and gallant Field Marshal that I expressed my disagreement with what was said by the Provost of King's College. No doubt he would like to administer a large dose of weed-killer.
To get back to the Minister's scheme, and to speak a little more seriously about it, it got off to a bad start. I do not think that is too much to say. The Times had a leading article on the scheme headed, "Flying Squads of Youth", which was extremely critical, and I myself have heard a lot of criticism of it from members of voluntary organisations. Certainly something seems to have gone wrong, because only 12 days ago it was found necessary to summon a Press conference at which the director of the scheme endeavoured to smooth away the criticisms—indeed, the frank hostility—which had been expressed. It is such a pity, because something needed to be done.
Incidentally, what needed to be done was not the organisation of youth to serve. That is the easiest part of the business. 399 That can really be left, for the most part, to the schools and the voluntary organisations. What needed to be done was the organisation of the opportunities and the gaining of the acceptance of the relevant authorities, so that those services would be freely and gratefully welcomed. Yes, something needed to be done. But did the Minister consult the voluntary organisations? I believe he did. Did he take much notice of what they said? The answer to that is that I really do not know. I just put the position as I see it, and I hope that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor will be able to tell us something about it. I hope he will sweep away the criticisms that have been levelled at this scheme, and will make it abundantly clear that the Government regard the voluntary organisations as an absolutely essential and necessary part of this business.
There is much more that I should like to say, but I promised to be brief. It is easy to make such a promise but not so easy to fulfil it. I should like to know when we are to hear the decision of the Speaker's Conference on the voting age. Your Lordships know my view on that point. Many of you disagree with me, but at least it will be interesting to know what decision has been reached. I should like to hear something of the Government's intentions regarding the cadet units and the young soldier units. Are they also to be victims of the present cuts? I should like to hear anything the Government can tell us about their thoughts on the drug problem, on juvenile delinquency and on many more things. But if I ask too many questions I shall invoke upon myself the rebuke that was tendered to a far younger man than I am by the venerable Father William.
There is one further point that I must make before I sit down. The very variety of the questions that I have mentioned illustrates something which is important. It shows that this question of youth is one that affects many Government Departments, and it is essential that our policy towards youth should be a co-ordinated one. I do not think we shall ever get anywhere until it is co-ordinated. I am not asking for a Minister for Youth. There is one thing about young people which older people often overlook, and which younger people themselves do not 400 believe, but it is true; that is, that younger people very soon become not so young people—and rather quickly. That being so, it is not wise to treat them as if they are a class apart; but when they are young they need special help and they are entitled to it. They are entitled to guidance, they are entitled to example. But we shall never give them what we ought to give them so long as our arrangements are what they are, so long as responsibility for policy is scattered over a dozen or more Government Departments, the chief share of which is in a sub-department buried away in the vast obscurity of the Ministry of Education and Science. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.5 p.m.
§ LORD ABERDARE
My Lords, I know that all of your Lordships are extremely grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, for giving us another opportunity, three years after the last one, to discuss this subject. We had a most interesting debate on the last occasion, and if he needs any justification for more or less repeating his Motion now it surely lies in the list of speakers who show such an interest in the subject.
In preparing myself for this debate I wondered, first of all, what it was that worried us and what we were trying to do. I start from my own conviction that the younger members of our society are no different from what they have always been. I recall very vividly the brilliant speech of my noble friend Lord Amory in our last debate, in which he quoted a passage from Peter the Monk in 1274, which showed that even in 1274 the older members of the population were saying the same sort of things about the younger members as are still said to-day. I believe that times and social habits change, but that the attitudes of young people and the attitudes of old people within any one society remain much the same. I am sure I need not remind your Lordships that at the time of the world when there were only two young people, Cain and Abel, one of them was a delinquent.
I asked myself at the time of our last debate what it was that distinguished youth, and what particular characteristics we were trying to meet to form a contented society. I found three characteristics which youth by its very nature has. They are, first, that it is active; secondly, 401 that it is impatient; and, thirdly, that it is idealistic. I am not suggesting that most of us in this House are either inactive, patient or pragmatic, but purely that as a matter of degree these are characteristics of young people. What are we doing to meet them? The first characteristic, activity, can be met by opportunities for physical recreation in its widest sense. The second, impatience, demands opportunities for self-expression and the chance to be involved in decisions affecting themselves. The third, idealism, is frustrated unless there are opportunities for young people to give practical expression to their ideals.
The field of activity was the subject of our debate two weeks ago, as the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oak-ridge, reminded us. There is no need for me to go into the subject again today, except to stress one point, which is the importance of joint use and joint provision of recreational facilities by the school and the local community—I stressed this in the last debate—where facilities can be jointly provided by the local education authority and the local authority, and can be available for those at school in school hours and for the rest of the community after school hours. I stressed this a fortnight ago from the economic point of view, but I stress it again, equally, from the social point of view because of its benefit of knitting together the younger and older members of one community and for going, I think, a long way to help solve the problem to which the noble Lord, Lord Willis, drew our attention—what he called the yawning gulf between the recreational provision at school and after school.
I come to my second need, the need for providing opportunities for self-expression and of giving responsibility to young people to run their own affairs so far as possible. So often we have paid lip service to this ideal, but in practice it is often ignored. Certainly there are some schools where, following the ideas contained in the Newsom Report, work of this sort is going ahead, and schools are experimenting with ideas for giving young people the chance to work on projects chosen by themselves which often take them outside the confines of the school. Certainly there are many youth clubs which encourage their members to serve on committees and to plan 402 their own programmes—and, indeed, this was one of the recommendations of the Albemarle Report. But I believe there is still a great deal more that can be done in this direction. One example which comes to mind very readily is that of student representation. I am certainly not in favour of student representation in all cases on governing bodies—there are obviously grave difficulties, especially as the student population changes rapidly—but I am certainly in favour of proper consultative machinery where that is possible, so that young people may air their grievances and have collective access to authority.
That brings me to the third characteristic: the idealism of young people and the need to satisfy it in practical terms by enabling them to give service to others. This is the field where we have probably made least progress, yet it has always existed in the programmes of voluntary bodies. Your Lordships will all recall, for example, the Boy Scouts, where the practice of doing a good turn has always been part of the programme; although now, in these inflationary days, it has become "Bob-a-job", and when decimal coinage comes in it will probably be something different. Certainly in the organisation that I know best, the Y.M.C.A., there are many examples of community service up and down the country in different localities certainly, also, in the St. John Ambulance and Nursing Cadet movement. That is almost of itself a community service, and there are many instances within it where excellent work is being done.
Perhaps the most striking advance came with the foundation of Voluntary Service Overseas in 1953 by Mr. Alec Dickson. I expect a great many of your Lordships know of young men and young women who have been on schemes sponsored by Voluntary Service Overseas, where not only have they performed a useful service but also the performance of that service has done them a great deal of good. It was only natural that the success of Voluntary Service Overseas should lead to consideration of a similar form of community service at home. International Voluntary Service has been in existence since it was formed in 1923; and in 1962, Mr. Alec Dickson, having laid the foundations of Voluntary 403 Service Overseas, formed Community Service Volunteers—and he has had considerable success. When my noble friend Lord Brooke of Cumnor was at the Home Office, he was among the first to encourage Community Service Volunteers in the field of approved schools and borstals.
Those were early days, but nowadays it is not rare to find, for example, a girl volunteer working in a boys' approved school and making a very significant impact in an otherwise male situation. Police cadets, also, are working in approved schools with positive benefit, not only to those in the schools but also to themselves. On the reverse side of the coin, there are young people from approved schools—and in Scotland even from borstals—working as Community Service Volunteers; and I am sure your Lordships will readily appreciate what a tremendous effect it can have on a young person from an approved school to be brought into contact with people who need his or her help.
Then, to complete the picture, in 1964 Task Force was formed by Mr. Anthony Steen. Here there is a challenging field of endeavour with young people. The Youth Service Development Council recognised it, and set up a committee, chaired by Mr. Bessey, to consider the need for co-ordination of the community services. The noble Lord, Lord Hunt, was a member of that committee and, as one might have expected from a committee of which he was a member, it produced a first-class report. I cannot do justice to it in a few words, but it pointed to the paramount need for local coordination and local clearing houses with a national council to promote the development of social training through service to the community, though this national council was not to engage directly in the organisation of schemes of service. The Bessey Report pointed the way to develop and co-ordinate community service by building on existing organisations.
My Lords, I am sorry to say that I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, said: that what happened next was an unhappy story. The Government announced their new Young Volunteer Force Foundation; 404 they announced the appointment of Mr. Anthony Steen, who was the Managing Director of Task Force, one of the interested organisations, as its Director; and they allocated £100,000 to it over three years. Now a Government initiative in the field of community service was in my opinion wholly good, and £100,000 was a generous gift; but unfortunately it made a lamentable start and antagonised all the other voluntary organisations working in this field with the exception of Task Force, whose leader was selected to head the new Young Volunteer Force. My Lords, I would stress that this is not a matter of personal jealousy. Nobody wishes to decry the work of Task Force, or the drive and energy of Mr. Steen, but there is a feeling of genuine grievance among the other voluntary societies at the lack of proper consultation. At no time were the interested bodies brought round a table. There was the utmost secrecy until the Government scheme was announced. No wonder there is resentment.
Yet there is an example of co-operation to be found in the overseas service field which could surely have been followed. The organisations working in Voluntary Service Overseas—they are the Catholic Institute for International Relations, International Voluntary Service, the National Union of Students, the United Nations Association and Voluntary Service Overseas—are all co-ordinated within what is called the British Volunteer Programme, which works very harmoniously with an independent chairman. Surely this excellent example could have been followed in the case of community service in this country. We all support the development of community service. It satisfies the idealism of the young in practical and often exciting ways; it performs useful social tasks; it knits together in one community those who give and those who receive service. What a tragedy that it has got off to so controversial a start!
Like the noble Lord, Lord Robertson, I hope that we can all use our best endeavours to prevent this controversy from going any further, and to make a sensible start on this new project. I have hope for two reasons. The first is that the trustees of the Young Volunteer Force Foundation are an eminent body of people who are, as I believe, anxious only to further the 405 cause of community service and in no way to encroach on the work already being done by other organisations. The second reason is that I hope that these trustees will appoint an advisory council fully representative of the other voluntary organisations which are working in the field, so that it is apparent as well as implicit that no action will be taken that might damage their interests. It is so essential to get rid of the controversy that has dogged this project up to now and to direct all our energies to building up an effective structure of community service.
I would make just one other point on this particular matter. It was announced at the time of the setting up of the Y.V.F.F. that a circular would be sent out to all local authorities commending the new foundation to their attention. That circular is, no doubt, being prepared and will go out as a Government circular—not coming from the trust but from the Government—with the full weight of the Government backed by six Ministries. I would ask only this. Is it right to commend one organisation in this way? Is it fair to the other voluntary organisations working in this field? Will it not influence the local authorities, and, indeed, national trusts, to channel their money into this new set-up at the expense of the present well-established and highly experienced voluntary societies? I must say that I am very alarmed and I know that many other voluntary bodies are alarmed. It surely is unprecedented for the Government to issue a circular to the local authorities commending one particular charitable trust. I hope that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor or someone from the Government Benches can help us about this circular. I am anxious to be sure that it is absolutely fair to the other charitable organisations and does not too much commend just this new one.
The noble Lord, Lord Robertson, made a plea for brevity and I wish to be very brief. There are other things that I intended to say but I wish to say only one other thing. I know the noble Earl, Lord Arran, is interested in this field and he has been kind enough to let me know what he wishes to propose. I greatly respect his efforts in getting something moving, but I have doubts about the practicability of his particular scheme. 406 I know, as he does, that it is fraught with difficulties; but it seems to me to cut too sharply across established practice in industry, in social services and in trade unions. If he were to suggest some form of compulsory scheme of national social service, I should oppose it root and branch. I cannot believe that any compulsory scheme would satisfy the object of giving free rein to the idealism of the young. If it is a voluntary scheme, then I prefer the initiatives which are already being taken. I welcome Lord Robertson's Motion for a more comprehensive policy towards the youth of the nation. I do not, as I have said, believe in any form of compulsory national service, but I believe that what is required is greater co-ordination and co-operation between the voluntary societies themselves and between them and their partners in the Youth Service.
§ 3.24 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD GARDINER)
My Lords, the Government are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, for putting down this Motion to-day. It is in very wide terms. I am not complaining of that, but it would cover everybody from the cradle to the age of 21—at home, during the whole of education, in sport and so forth. My difficulty is to marry the width of the Motion with the other very proper injunction of the noble Lord that we should all be brief, particularly as I am one of the only two Government speakers out of 32. But I propose to confine myself in the main to those between school-leaving age and 21, with particular reference, of course, to the Youth Service. The more fortunate 5 per cent. who go to universities go to places where it is axiomatic that they provide not merely lessons and examinations, but also playing fields, coaches, places where the young people can meet, dance, have coffee, debate, and have every sort club or society. The intention originally of the Youth Service was that, so far as possible, it should provide for those who had left school at school-leaving age what the universities provide automatically for the luckier 5 per cent.
The noble Lord, Lord Robertson, is right in saying that I have for some time been interested in the subject. In 1959, I found myself chairman of the Labour Party Youth Commission; and when we 407 looked at the Youth Service it seemed to be dying on its feet very largely because for some years it had been quite deliberately starved—and I mean starved financially. Not long before, a Select Committee of another place had looked at it, and the principal official of the Ministry of Education, giving evidence before them, said:It has been definite policy for some time now not to advance the Youth Service.I rather like "not to advance". We thought, therefore, that, first of all, there should be a permanent advisory committee on youth; and secondly, that the Government ought to call on the local authorities to get out a five-year programme—for one of the extraordinary things we found was that nobody really knew what the local authorities were doing in this field, not even the Ministry of Education, because they had never asked them. Thirdly, we thought that when the new secondary schools were built there should be annexes for the Youth Service and that there was an immediate need for recruitment and training of whole-time leaders.
Naturally enough, one does not expect the Government to pay much attention to a report by a commission or committee of the Opposition. But then we had a stroke of luck, because only five months later the Albemarle Committee reported and attention had to be paid to that. The noble Lord seemed doubtful whether all interest has not waned since Albemarle. I think that is not so, either under this Government or, it is fair to say, their predecessors. Because what Albemarle said was very much the same as we had said. They said that, first, there should be a Youth Service Development Council. That was set up; and under successive Governments it has always had a Minister as chairman. Of the Youth Service as a whole, they had said that the county colleges looked as far off as ever. The Jackson Committee and the Fletcher Committee produced Reports on the training and conditions of service of professional youth leaders. Neither was put into effect. The flow of recruits shrank, the number of full-time leaders fell away and the university and other full-time courses closed down one by one until only three survive to-day.
With the Ministry unable to give the signal to advance, certain authorities 408 lost heart. Public interest flagged too. And, not surprisingly, voluntary bodies felt the same effect. In the eight years it has been formed as a result of Albemarle, the Youth Service Development Council has tendered valuable advice about the improvement of the Youth Service and published a number of reports to which I will refer. The second thing they recommended—and the noble Lord asked about this—was an emergency scheme for boosting the number of trained youth leaders from 700, the then figure, to 1,300 by the end of 1966. This was done by the setting up at Leicester of a national college to give a one-year course of intensive training of youth leaders. The result is that the target was reached before the new date and the total has now passed 1,500.
Then they recommended that machinery be set up for negotiating salaries and conditions. This was done; and we now have the Joint Negotiating Committee for Youth Leaders and Community Centre Wardens, representative of the employers and the staff. Fourthly, they recommended that the building programme for the Youth Service should be considerably stepped up. A programme of £3 million was announced for the period 1960 to 1962 and further programmes totalling about £25 million have been authorised in the subsequent six years to 1967–68. It is true that as a result of the recent economies there will be a slower increase this year. Since Albemarle, local authorities have increased their expenditure on the Youth Service about 300 per cent. and the Central Government about 500 per cent. Then they recommended that grants towards headquarters expenditure of national voluntary youth organisations should be stepped up. These were at £114,000. They went up to £214,000 in 1960–61, and in the current year total £316,000.
The noble Lord asked about the Review Committee. As I have said, the Youth Service Development Council was set up in consequence of the Albemarle Committee's Report, and since then has tendered valuable advice to Ministers and Secretaries of State of successive Governments. Some of their advice has been in published form. The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, has already referred to the Bessey Report, and I 409 should like to refer to the Report of the Committee which sat under the chairmanship of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, to consider the very important question of young immigrants and the way in which the Youth Service could help them to take their equal place in our society. Other work has been of a more internal nature, and this applies to the Review Committee. In fact, under arrangements for the reconstitution of the Youth Service Development Council, announced on December 8, 1966, the Review Committee, as such, ceased to exist, and the Council itself took over the Committee's function of reviewing the long-term aspects of the Youth Service; and the work, which I understand was considerable, already accomplished by the Review Committee entered into the body of knowledge and experience of the parent organisation.
My Lords, the Youth Service Development Council has itself been re-examining the role of the Youth Service afresh. If any noble Lords are disposed to criticise the Youth Service they will not be any more searching in their criticisms than those who are themselves closely concerned with that Service; and in the van of this healthy spirit of reassessment and self-examination is the Youth Service Development Council itself. Lady Albemarle, whose Committee's Report had such an effect on putting the Youth Service back on the map, herself played a large part in this continuing process as a member of the Council and as Chairman of its Review Committee, until she retired a few months ago under the Council's arrangements for rotation of membership.
As part of its process of re-examination, the Council has appointed two Committees to look at two specific aspects of the Youth Service, and I find that the terms of reference alone cast a revealing light on our present debate, as they suggest a polarisation of the Service rather than an attempt to lump all young people—in this case those of 14 to 20—together. One Committee, under the Chairmanship of Mr. A. N. Fairbairn, is considering the relationship of the Youth Service with the schools and further education. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oak-ridge, has been insistent on tying in the Youth Service with the schools, and that would be the specific task of that Com 410 mittee. The other Committee, under the Chairmanship of Dr. F. W. Milson, is considering its relationship with the, adult community. These Committees are expected to report to the Youth Service Development Council this summer. Their reports will be to the Council, but when the Council has received and considered them, it will be expected to tender a consolidated body of advice to the Secretary of State.
At this point, my Lords, I should perhaps make a further reservation about definitions. Reference to the Youth Service does not lead me, and should not lead anyone else, to equate it with the whole of the youth of this country. I am only too conscious that the Service touches only part. Guidance on this, and indeed on the whole concept of the Youth Service and the provision needed for young people, may be expected from the research project just announced by the Department of Education and Science. This is to be carried out at the University of Keele, and will consist of a study of Youth Service and youth work in England and Wales. It will examine the structure and function of formal and informal work with youth and will contrast the perceptions of attached and unattached young people, professional youth workers, teachers, administrators, parents and employers.
My Lords, I am afraid that this recital of all the rethinking that is going on centrally, healthy and stimulating as I hope that noble Lords will find it to be, may obscure one vital point. The Youth Service in this country, like so much of the Education Service of which it forms part, is essentially a local service, locally administered to fit local needs and circumstances.
It would be unfortunate if our deliberations to-day were to be concentrated (I am sure that they will not be) exclusively on what is being provided for young people, whether by central or local government or by voluntary agencies. We should be guided also by that part of the wording of the Motion which refers to the creation of opportunities—a theme which was given admirable expression in the speech of the noble Lord who introduces the debate and by the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare. Most young people are not by nature passive, and it is not enough simply to provide facilities to fill their 411 leisure time. They possess a fund of energy and good will—and I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, in thinking that they possess ideals, too—with which to respond to the challenge of rendering voluntary service to the community, if only the opportunities are presented to them.
My Lords, it was with this in mind that the Government announced last November their intention to set up an advisory unit to help in making these opportunities for voluntary service more widely available. I should like to emphasise the word "advisory". Some of the criticisms one has heard may be based on a failure to appreciate that we are not setting up a new voluntary youth organisation: to suppose that is a complete misapprenhension. Nor is it intended to supplant the work done by the many voluntary bodies already in the field. It is a small unit, staffed by young people, available to offer expert advice and help in the setting up of new local schemes or the strengthening of existing ones. They will never move into any area except on invitation, and it will be a cardinal principle that they will work with and through existing agencies, whether statutory or voluntary. I cannot help feeling, from a number of the comments I have read (whether the presentation might have been better or not, I cannot say) that on this aspect there has been a great deal of misunderstanding.
The other feature I would stress is the independence of this new unit. It is to be administered by a charitable trust, and, apart from the injection of Exchequer funds amounting to £100,000 for an initial period of three years, it will be entirely independent of the Government. I suspect that here, too, some of the criticism one has heard arises from this fact, because the Minister responsible for the Youth Service, Mr. Denis Howell, was at pains, in the course of the extensive consultations he had when the scheme was being prepared, to avoid setting down a blueprint to which the future body would be tied. His purpose was to provide a viable framework within which the independent body would have ample scope to make a distinctive and constructive contribution.
My Lords, I suppose it was inevitable that, as he went all round consulting 412 everybody, each of the existing voluntary bodies thought, "If you want any sort of national body, our body is the body which does this the right way, and therefore all you have to do is inject a lot of money into us and make us into a national body." What really counts is the way in which the new unit sets about its task, and the House will be glad to know that the Young Volunteer Force Foundation, as the governing body is known, have been very active, in the few months of their existence, in planning their future operations in the closest consultation with voluntary bodies, and they will be appointing an advisory body of practitioners on whose expert knowledge they will be able to draw.
Meanwhile, the Ministers and Departments concerned are planning to issue the joint circular to which the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, referred. I am sure that, before they do so, they will pay the closest attention to what the noble Lord has said, but I should hope that, in the light of the promising and business like start they have made, the message that might go out from this House to-day is one of encouragement. For by indicating confidence in the scheme your Lordships will be indicating your confidence also in the young people of this country who will be its mainstay and driving force.
My Lords, there are many examples of this. The new scheme I have just described owes its origin to a surge of interest by young people all over the country to do something constructive for their community and for those in it. The old, the sick and the underprivileged all want help. Noble Lords are as familiar as I am, if not more familiar, with the many organisations that exist already: Voluntary Service Overseas, the two organisations, Shelter (the National Campaign for the Homeless) and Task Force, which not only are run by young people but were founded by young men in their twenties. I ask myself whether there was anything on such a scale thirty or forty years ago.
I could multiply the examples. For instance, recent issues of Youth Service, a journal produced by the Department of Education and Science and the Central Office of Information, which now has an enviable circulation of 26,000, contained a description of a scheme at Southport to raise funds for a kidney machine; 413 and another about a scheme in the West Riding called TORCH (Teenage Organised Children's Holidays) for giving children holidays. In this month's issue there is an account of how members of a youth club for motor-cyclists, the Double Zero Club in Birmingham, perform a number of services for the sick and the aged, including the taping of their own regular musical programme for broadcast to hospitals and a despatch rider service to carry blood and drugs between hospitals. I wish that examples like these—and they could be multiplied a hundred times over—were as widely known as the antics of the wilder elements at the fringes of young society. Then perhaps we might get a more balanced view.
I see one or two noble Lords from Scotland in the House, so I shall get into trouble if I do not say something about the position in Scotland. Substantially the same developments have been taking place there, and time alone prevents me from going into them in detail. The Standing Consultative Council corresponds broadly to the Youth Service Development Council. Most of its work has been carried on through standing committees and ad hoc working parties. There is a Board for information and national tests in the youth and community services, and for the past two years a Scottish body, Enterprise Youth, has been co-ordinating the activities of the various organisations concerned with voluntary service by young people and has been promoting voluntary service generally. These include Community Service Volunteers, International Voluntary Service and Inter-Scot.
I do not think I can embark on the questions of drugs and juvenile delinquency. The noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, asked about the voting age. I understand that the Speaker's Conference have either reported or are about to report. It seems better, on the whole, to consider their Report with the Latey recommendations. I am not in a position to-day to announce the Government's recommendations on either of these, but I hope to be able to do so in the very near future.
Speaking of Latey brings me back to what the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, said: that this generation is no different from previous generations. I express 414 only a personal opinion. I do not think that that is so. I think, first, that the Latey Committee were right in saying that this generation is the best generation of young people we have ever had. It is extraordinary how unanimous the evidence given to the Latey Committee has been. Everybody who deals with young people, from the Justices Clerks' Society (who see some of the worst of our young people) and the clergy to such bodies as the British Medical Association and the Municipal Corporations' Council have said this. The teachers are emphatic that the boys and girls now leaving secondary schools are much the best lot that have ever left secondary schools. I am sure that it is true to say to-day that our present standard of education is far higher than it has ever been before. Business people and hire-purchase people say that the youth are much more reliable than their fathers. They do not enter into contracts without thinking first of how they can carry them out. This was the whole body of evidence given before that Committee.
The proportion of juvenile delinquents, though larger than we should like it to be, is relatively minute when we are talking about 5 million young people. I agree with the Latey Committee that our young people have been very much misrepresented by the Press. In saying that, I am not criticising the Press, because the plain fact is that if 4,900,000 and more are either working hard at their examinations and passing them or working on the land, in business or in the Services and doing well, that is not news; but if 40 or 50 "rockers" at Brighton fight one another, then that is news.
Secondly, there is this difference. This is something that has never happened before and I do not want to exaggerate it, because it relates to a fairly small group, but the modern influence of university students is something new. I doubt whether we should ever have got rid of Sukarno without the Indonesian students. When they lay down in thousands in Tokyo to try to stop the Prime Minister from going to Vietnam, there were photographs of the police with their batons drawn, and you see the same photographs taken on the campus at American universities or on the squares of Washington, showing the police with 415 their truncheons and tear gas when the students are demonstrating about Vietnam. Indeed, one has to look at the photographs carefully to see where it is happening. The last lot I saw turned out to be of Berlin. This happens, not only in regard to Vietnam, as those more directly in touch with young people than I am, like the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, know better than I do. With television, what is going on in the world cannot be concealed, and we have perhaps fewer violent students than most countries.
The point is not that Hanoi and the Americans are doing to other human beings the things which are being done in Vietnam; it is also the feeling that young people have to-day that they will not live to 50. That, I suggest, is not unreasonable at all, when you are 20 and think that the probability is that within the next 30 years there will be a major nuclear war. It affects some differently from others. The university students are, after all, the best educated youth in any country, and they know a good deal more about science than their fathers knew, though people do not have to be so very highly educated to know that if there is a major nuclear war, over a large part of the world at all events, it will be the end of civilisation as we know it.
We never answer that, do we? We say that Cuba showed that the mutual deterrent pays, because nothing happened. And Mr. Khrushchev, when asked afterwards who had won, said, "I say, mankind won." We also point to the Test Ban Treaty and what I hope will be a non-proliferation agreement. There have been 357 meetings of the Disarmament Conference. We all support disarmament conferences. I have never known one arrive at disarmament, but we must hope. There is a prospect of world government. Russia, we all know, is not the same country as when NATO started, when there was a real risk of a Russian nuclear attack on the West. Can we now fairly say that the prospect in the immediate future of a Russian nuclear attack on the West is about the same as the prospect of meeting the Loch Ness Monster coming down Bond Street? Of course, mistakes cannot be ruled out. We have had two or three already. There are always American and Russian planes 416 in the sky carrying nuclear bombs. The American planes could be alerted by Strategic Command to bomb Moscow. There was the unfortunate case of swans flying South from Canada who were mistaken for missiles, and the later occasion when the United States' own signals, reflecting from the moon, were mistaken.
There was the instance which Sir Bernard Lovell disclosed in the newspapers the day before yesterday, when debris from a Russian rocket was temporarily mistaken for missiles. But fortunately, again, the computers found the answer. It used to be said in past days, when it was a matter of human agency and human error, that we could have mistakes, but now it is done by computers, and computers cannot make mistakes! That is not a proposition that I should like to answer. But, as Sir Bernard Lovell said, the potentiality for mistaken identification is there. If the Viet Cong captured Saigon the temptation would be for the Americans to use, not fully developed nuclear weapons, but only tactical ones—tiny nuclear bombs which devastate a square mile at a time. If those were used successfully, the temptation to Moscow to supply Hanoi with rather larger nuclear bombs would be very great. Perhaps older people feel that they do not need to face this in their lifetime; that it will come after their time. But I see little signs of any rational assessment of what the prospects are.
Apart from demonstrators, there is another group, though a small group, in this country: the "hippies" and the "flower children" and those on "pot". They have withdrawn. They think it is hopeless. They say: "What do the university students do? What good is it getting your head cracked open by a police baton? It does not get you anywhere. All these demonstrations in the developed countries get nowhere. There is nothing we can do. It is no good spending time trying to make the world a better place to live in when we shall not be there." And they have withdrawn. But these two groups are, after all, a small minority. Most young people, with considerable courage and good sense have set about cultivating their gardens. They realise that with modern Governments you cannot do anything. And that is so. The people of America or Russia might. Hardly any other country 417 can in practice do anything. But life has to be lived, and they go on living it.
But this is a restraint, a strain which I think all young people are under, even if they never mention it and do nothing peculiar at all: they are living under a threat of world destruction which has never faced the world before. Therefore, when we are considering young people this is a factor which has to be borne in mind. Considering the difficulties of their position, and without saying anything about the young people of any other country, I think our young people are the best that we have ever had, and I am sure that we owe a lot to their optimism, which, as well as their idealism, has always been one of the good qualities of youth; and we should help them to help the community, as I know they are all anxious to do, and provide them with the facilities to do so. I hope that your Lordships would wish, to quote Sir John Wolfenden:To see them grow up in such a way that they go out into society fitted and inspired to change it for the better. The restlessness of the young is, in fact, the only hope for all of us: the only hope we can have that when we become too weary or discouraged or disillusioned they with their vigour and uninhibited optimism will change things for the better.
THE EARL OF ARRAN
My Lords, before the noble and learned Lord sits down, may I ask him whether he is suggesting that the West German students are right in protesting against the American effort in Vietnam? Does he seriously think that the same students would be happy under a Communist régime?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I think students are entitled to say exactly what they think. Whether they are right is a matter of opinion.
§ 3.54 p.m.
§ LORD BUTLER OF SAFFRON WALDEN
My Lords, I have no reason to differ from the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor in his diagnosis of the younger generation as I see them, living among them, and therefore I should not like to add to anything that he has said in that direction. Nor should I like to give the impression that I want to generalise about the young, as nothing is more infuriating to them to do that—not that I believe a single one of them 418 will read a single word of what I say in your Lordships' House. I am not pessimistic about the younger generation; I am not optimistic. But I recently gave an interview to the Christian Science Monitor, which has cost me a lot of letters from America, in which I came to the general conclusion that there are fewer opportunities now for young people than there ought to be for direct service overseas, and less adventure, either at home or abroad, than our young people who have made up the greatness of our country have been used to in past generations. Therefore, if I intervene now in your Lordships' debate for a few moments, it will be to try to find important and more exciting avenues for occupying the interest and energies of the young.
While I am not pessimistic, there is certainly a small amount of cause for anxiety. This is a matter stretching far beyond our shores. At least fifteen months ago Mr. McNamara, the United States Defence Secretary, suggested that every young American should be asked to give two years in some form of voluntary work at home or abroad—and I shall have something more to say about the efforts of the United States. In Israel, the youth do a variety of services in a most striking manner, as was proved in the recent emergency when their troops were at the front and youth kept up many of the services at home. America has the Peace Corps and the Vista organisation. There are problems of youth to face in Australia, Germany, France, Amsterdam in particular, and in Czechoslovakia. In each case youth has its own particular name: Trogs, Surfies, Hippies, Blousons noirs. They all have their problems in these countries. In each country there is a problem of division between the older and younger generations. In Britain many of us have devoted our public life to trying to eliminate the class war. What I should like to see arising out of this debate is that we do not substitute the age war between the younger and older generations; and that may easily be done by sermonising from the old and misunderstanding front the young.
I said that there were certain causes for anxiety. There is, of course, the problem of drugs, which we meet where I live, although the problem is not very 419 great. There is a certain degree of juvenile crime—which I tried to deal with as Home Secretary—and juvenile delinquency. But what distresses me most among the young I meet—I think these other matters can be kept in hand—is the degree of disillusionment about public affairs and those who direct them. That is not healthy, and it may be the fault of the older generation. I should like to give your Lordships a small quotation from Lewis Mumford, a sociologist and expert in America, who wrote about his own young people before America came into the last war, in his book Faith for Living. He wrote thus:Meanwhile, our young people are starving for lack of real tasks and vital opportunities. Many of them live like sleepwalkers, apparently in contact with their environment, but actually dead to everything but the print of the newspapers, the blare of the radio, or the flickering shadows on the screen. Work alone is no answer to this frustration… Why should young people not have their first experience of public service on work that serves for local improvement? They should help clear the slums as well as study housing: they should help plant the forests as well as study conservation: it is our school children, it is our youngsters…who should be toughened off in lumber camps, on fishing boats, behind the hay-wagon and the threshing machine, on the road gang and in the quarry.He concludes:It should not need another war to effect this purposeful mobilisation of our youth.Your Lordships will notice, before I conclude, that I have no intention whatever of proposing a compulsory mobilisation of our youth, or any compulsory plan whatever. I do not believe that would work and I will come to that in a few minutes.
Before I do, however, I want to say just a word about the school-leaving age. This affects the younger generation very strongly. I did not take part in your Lordships' debate on the economic situation, and I can express what I feel in a few sentences. I think this is a great mistake of Government policy, and I propose to cite only two very great Englishmen, probably our greatest, in my support. One is Winston Churchill and the other is William Temple.
When I went to visit Winston Churchill in March, 1943, to help him prepare his broadcast on social reform in the midst 420 of the war, he absolutely insisted on putting into that broadcast, in 1943, that the school-leaving age should be raised to sixteen. I had the greatest difficulty in stopping him. We had not yet raised it to fifteen. It was done a little later, directly after I left the Ministry, by Ellen Wilkinson. We had not the teachers to raise it to sixteen immediately, before we had raised it to fifteen. But this illustrates the vision of a man who foresaw the importance of this move to the country. Secondly, I would quote what is said in Iremonger's William Temple, His Life and Letters:Our Lord would really prefer to see the raising of the school-leaving age to the introduction of the agreed syllabus of religious instruction.That sounds a very downright statement, but it was what William Temple felt. I knew him intimately. He helped me to introduce the Education Act, and he always said that the raising of the school age was about the most important thing we could do for the younger generation. I will leave the testimony to these two great figures.
I believe that a reason why the young feel more cooped up in the immediate future arises from the Government decision to withdraw Britain even further from world affairs. Your Lordships will remember that Dean Acheson said that we had "lost an Empire but not found a role". Now we have added to this dismemberment of Empire the renunciation of overseas duties with our allies. This is not the place to discuss the merits or demerits of such a policy. I am thinking simply of the effect of this policy on youth. Our country has a long, an age-long, tradition of service overseas. We have only to live in a village, or in a small community in a town, to know that in the local public-house the people who make the talking are those who have served overseas, in India, Egypt, Africa, or other places, and to see how they influence the young idea. And up to recently the young idea has been going abroad itself. But overseas adventure will from a few years' hence be very much reduced, and I claim that hitherto the Government initiative to meet this situation has not been enough.
I was very glad to hear what the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said about the Youth Service, and I was 421 interested in Lord Aberdare's criticisms of the Young Volunteers' Force Foundation. If, as the noble and learned Lord says, this is really an advisory body, and if this circular which the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, fears is not going to do any harm, then it will be a small move in the right direction. But I must honestly agree with the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, that it has not made a good start; and I do not believe that it has given sufficient impression, together with the comparatively small scope of the Youth Service, despite the Lord Chancellor's efforts to show it in the best light. I do not think this is enough. We need to go further, and we need to extend our voluntary service at home and abroad.
Let me take abroad first. I think the most excellent initiative abroad, as has been pointed out in the debate, took place in 1958 with the foundation of Voluntary Service Overseas. I understand that in a recent talk with the B.B.C., on "The World at One", I gave the impression that V.S.O. was founded after the Peace Corps. That is not so; V.S.O. was founded before the Peace Corps, and was a very fine initiative. The U.S. Peace Corps has itself now turned over more to graduates than young people. I personally think that the late President Kennedy, with whom I discussed it, was put off by remarks about draft shirkers, about kiddie-corps, and about under-developed boys going to under-developed countries; and the Peace Corps made a mistake in going over too much to graduates and not sticking with young people.
Similarly, I believe that V.S.O. could do more with young people than necessarily with graduates. I only wish that the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, could take part in this debate, with his wide experience and his wisdom. If we cannot turn the clock back from graduates, I think that we ought to invent new methods of voluntary service overseas to meet changing circumstances. The main changed circumstance is that overseas countries want to encourage their own local youth to take part in social activities; and that is a big factor we have to take account of in the future of V.S.O.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord, as a member of the Council of V.S.O.? V.S.O. was built entirely around non-graduates 422 and young people, and the graduate development in V.S.O. came later. I am surprised that the noble Lord is not aware of that.
§ LORD BUTLER OF SAFFRON WALDEN
My Lords, I thought I had made it clear to noble Lords present that I was quite aware of that. In fact I said—I have my note here—that V.S.O., when it started, really enlisted young people. That is what I know and believe, because members of my own family have been abroad as young people under V.S.O., so I have not only official experience but personal experience of the excellence of V.S.O. What I am suggesting is that it should now extend under changing circumstances, and one of the changing circumstances, as I have said, is that in countries like Africa local youth themselves want to take part. It is so in Africa, in the East, and everywhere else. I think it may very well be necessary for V.S.O. volunteers to go in teams, because this may help some of these schoolboys or young people to develop in the company of others. A further idea for developing V.S.O. would be to make overseas service a reward for service given at home. That might make it more of a reward and more of an opportunity. What I am keen to make plain is that there could not be a more excellent initiative than Voluntary Service Overseas, but that I do not believe it now covers enough people; and I should like to see it enlarged, because I am quite certain that, with the restriction of overseas development recommended in recent policies, we must find adventure for our young people overseas.
I now come to the home service. The Community Service Volunteers have been referred to, and Mr. Alec Dixon, who founded V.S.O., is now the excellent secretary of this organisation. They have given an example of what can be done at home, in hospitals, in backward schools, in the slums, in the Highlands and Islands, and anywhere where there are openings for young people. But this may need a great deal of working out if we are to pursue it further. It may need, for example, some considerable reconstruction of the social services—I mean in our hospital life and in our school life. It will mean considerable anxiety about how these young people are to fit 423 into either a statutory body or another formal body. It will mean problems over pay; it will mean contact with the unions to get their co-operation.
When I am asked whether this organisation should be compulsory or voluntary, I say without hesitation that it should be voluntary. I read an interesting speech of Mr. Davies, the Chairman of the Association of Child Care Officers, in which he sets out, perhaps more persuasively than I have read it elsewhere, the whole problem of youth. But he comes down in favour of a compulsory scheme. I do not think that as yet the opportunities for a compulsory scheme have been fully worked out. I think they ought to be worked out by the Government and local authorities.
But there is, I am sure, a great vocation there for young people, and I would ask the Government whether they will consider a further inquiry, either under their own auspices or by a general inquiry, through a Commission or any other way, to help work out broader opportunities for social service at home. I am convinced that, either in that way or through the Government's own initiative, an effort should be made to collate the experiences of such schemes as the Outward Bound Schools, the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, the Ocean Youth Club, the Winston Churchill Foundation, the N.U.S. Overseas Volunteers and the Community Service Volunteers, not to speak of the Boy Scouts, the Y.M.C.A. and other bodies working in this sphere. I also believe that such an inquiry should range over what the Peace Corps is now doing and the vista of America.
I am convinced that there is much hard work to do, and after listening to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor I feel certain that we in this country have not yet gone far enough to find the adventure and interest necessary for our young people. Youth is our one asset. It was called by Newsom our "future half", and really it is our future whole. We are an island, as Nye Bevan used to remind us, without raw materials, and he used to say, in his dramatic way, with only the fish swimming round our shores and a little coal in the middle. Our main credit and our main riches are our young people and our skill. If we are to preserve the greatness of Britain 424 I feel sure that we should all work harder to find these opportunities for adventure and experience for our young people.
§ 4.12 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF COVENTRY
My Lords, I am greatly heartened, as I am sure all of us have been, by the stimulating words of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, when he said that we have the finest generation in our midst at this moment. As one who has been Bishop to the Forces for eight years and has had a great deal to do with young people in the Midlands since then, I believe with all my heart that he was right. I think we hear far too much these days, said mainly by older people, about the problems of youth. I do not believe they are any greater or any less than they have been in the past.
Furthermore, I think we often tend to look at these problems through rather jaundiced eyes. It is worth noting that if, for instance, there is a certain amount of expression of youthful energies in universities or in public schools, such things are talked about as "rags", but if the same thing happens at a football match it is reported as "hooliganism". The problems of young people are no more and no less than they have been in the past. Some of them are due to contemporary features: on the one hand (and we must face it) as a result of the inadequate housing in which they are brought up, and on the other hand their affluence and the kind of way in which mass media and advertisements play on the extra money that, thank God! some of the younger people have to-day. But other problems are concerned with the age-old difficulty of growing up from childhood into the adult world.
I submit that one of the greatest problems confronting the 1970s is that which was touched on by the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden; namely, the problem of the difference in outlook between the older and the younger people. I myself feel that there is a greater separation between age and youth to-day than there has been for a long time past. This is due to a number of things. It is due first to the fact that the parents of to-day were brought up at a time of considerable restrictions. They suffered and were deprived in various ways—through evacuation, spasmodic schooling, and 425 particularly the girls at that time suffered from a deprivation of material things brought about by the necessity for coupons. Since the end of the war the aim of this country has been—quite probably rightly—to "have it better every year". Inevitably, there is a danger of something approaching jealously in the minds of the older people as they look at younger people, with all the opportunities that they never had themselves.
Furthermore, we must face the fact that the educational gulf between adults and adolescents is more marked to-day, and becomes increasingly marked as the years go by. Whatever the pundits may say, the average secondary modern school boy or girl is better educated than his or her predecessors, and there are more boys and girls in sixth forms to-day, and there are far more universities. All this is making, for the first time, a wide gulf between the older and the younger generations. In addition—and I must dare to say this—adults are perhaps more Party politically minded than the younger people to-day. I am not saying they are right; I am merely pointing to a fact of my own experience as I have talked with youngsters.
What can be done to bridge this rather dangerous gulf between age and youth—a gulf that is, I believe, deliberately being fostered by those who want to make money out of young people? If you can produce in the young the sense that they are different, a race apart, urging them to buy this and that, and make them realise their youth, you can make money out of them. But you are playing on the wrong instincts, and I should like to suggest a number of things which can be done to bridge this gulf. First—and this has been touched on before in this debate—there is an urgent need for greater involvement. Up to the age of 16 young people have, on the whole, a deep desire to be involved. That is why so many voluntary projects have been remarkably well supported. Not enough is made of this kind of involvement, and not enough time and money given for its expansion. I was heartened by what the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said was being done by the Government. I only wish that could be communicated, because I find, as I go around, that there are still a large number of youth leaders who feel that Albemarle and Newsom 426 have not yet been adequately fulfilled, and not enough money is being spent on young people today, and on their needs. I can only say that that is widely felt.
The second need is for us to have a serious look at the age of majority. There is a ridiculous number of anomalies here. At 18 a boy or girl can drive a fast E-type Jaguar, can be conscripted into the Forces to fight for his or her country, but is not allowed to contract in money affairs, and not allowed to marry without his or her parents' consent. It might be a good thing to make the age of majority 18 years and not 21 as it is now. From my own experience I do not believe that this would make them dangerous to the community. On the contrary, it would help them to realise their responsibilities and to become more involved in the life around them.
Thirdly, I believe that there needs to be far greater preparation given in the last years of school for entrance into the world. School-leaving conferences ought to be made compulsory. That is the only kind of compulsion I personally favour. If the vote is given to young men and women at 18 years this, I believe, should be for local government. They can then graduate to full voting power for Parliament at 21, after three years of valuable experience. If young people voted in local government elections it would immediately involve them in local affairs. In many ways this would be highly desirable. It would help them to have a hand in the administration of their own affairs, and in addition there is no doubt that this move would bring fresh life into the town halls of this country—places which, one is bound to admit, are sometimes rather dull, because the younger section of the community is not sufficiently represented.
Fourthly, we need far greater attention from the Government to be given to the youth problem. I have been greatly encouraged by the appointment of the Minister for Sport. That has caused a great deal of appreciation. It is true that a large amount of his attention is given to youth, yet I believe that what is really needed still is a Minister for Youth. In this sphere the whole problem of youth could be dealt with. Under his leadership the country could be divided into zones where young people could see something of the administration without 427 having to look for it somewhere "out there", in Westminster. They need to be far more involved in local politics.
I would make two final points, touching on something which I have already mentioned. First, not enough has been done to bridge the gap between school and work. For many young people the transition is a traumatic experience as they move from childhood to adulthood. School, with its set pattern and standards and rather sheltered environment, contrasts all too markedly with the work situation, which presents far less real security. Secondly, I realise only too clearly that much of what I have said, and of what has been said in this debate, is applicable to and will be taken up by the more splendid young people, who desire to be involved in voluntary organisations, voluntary service and voluntary training. We must never rest content with this. I hasten to add that, like others who have spoken, I am not a supporter of compulsory social service, yet the trouble is that any voluntary system will not bring in the unclubbable or unattached young person, just because the idea of volunteering suggests that you have something to offer, and the whole educational structure experienced by the young people in mind militates against the idea of their having anything to offer. It is fear of inadequacy and fear of not being accepted or not measuring up to the need which is very prevalent and accounts for a great deal in national life to-day that is ugly.
What is needed is something so adventurous that even the unclubbable and unattached will want to take part in it, and that is why, as the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor has indicated, some of these unattached and unclubbable are to be seen in campaigns such as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, which was at its peak some years ago or, to give a more modern illustration, the Campaign against the War in Vietnam. While I do not hold any brief for these campaigns, I give them as illustrations of something that catches the imagination of even the most unclubbable and unattached.
The point I am making is that we must never be satisfied merely with involving the comparatively few of the more splendid youngsters into voluntary 428 organisations and voluntary service. Rather must we ever seek to devise something creative and worth while and, at the same time, so imaginative and adventurous that even "flower people" will be caught up into it. I believe with all my heart that the vast majority of young people to-day are sound and serious and seeking for reality, and I am very grateful indeed to my noble friend Lord Robertson of Oakridge who has called attention to the need for a more comprehensive policy towards the youth of this country, and I hope that as a result of this debate this will come about.
§ 4.24 p.m.
§ LORD HUNT
My Lords, I am delighted that my noble friend Lord Robertson of Oakridge has put down this Motion, if only because I listened as a somewhat frustrated visitor in this House in 1965, as I did in 1959. The terms of the Motion, as Lord Robertson has pointed out, are so closely similar to those of last time that I must admit I wondered what further wisdom could be added to that which your Lordships displayed then. Now we have the answer in the long list of speakers this afternoon; a positive avalanche of wisdom is going to descend on the unsuspecting head of the Minister of Education and others.
I wondered what new events had occurred in the last three years about which we might speak to-day. We have "flower power". We have the paying proposition that the whole of London is "swinging", and a great deal of publicity has been given to those two transient phenomena by focusing attention on Soho and the King's Road, and possibly by the peregrinations of a few neolithic "pop" groups and others beyond these shores. No doubt there will be other novelties to follow, but I hope we shall not put a magnifying glass on these things or the people who indulge in them.
I hasten to say I have nothing whatever against the people who enjoy these things, any more than, so far as I know, they have against us, the "greys". They are a remarkably tolerant lot. But they do not merit so much publicity, any more than your Lordships do. I am certainly worried at the harm that I believe publicity has done by turning too much attention on these passing fads and fashions abroad. Only last summer 429 my wife and I made a tour in the Commonwealth to see what provision was being made for young people in other countries, and at almost every stop we were asked, "What is wrong with young Britain?" The impression created by our Press, by our radio, and, let us face it, by a few itinerant hoodlums was of an effete and irresponsible and scrounging young generation.
I was at pains to explain that this is totally untypical of young Britain. For every "hippy", "beat", "flower creature" or juvenile tramp I could point to a hundred other young people, active in their work and leisure, enjoying life and just being ordinary. Very little attention is paid to them, and, thank goodness, most of them would not wish it anyway; but I am simply delighted that since our trip two young ambassadors have been travelling round the Commonwealth as guests of the Evening News, doing their best to correct this unfortunate impression, and I am thankful they have not joined the brain or talent drain.
I believe the value of our discussions to-day to be precisely because, following so closely on those of three years ago, they will express our concern that not enough is being done quickly enough to enable the full energies and enthusiasms of these ordinary youngsters to be developed, including those about whom Sir John Newsom wrote his report, Half our Future, five years ago. I regard it as highly significant that Sir Alec Clegg, the distinguished Chief Education Officer of the West Riding and a member of the Crowther Committee, speaking at the North of England Education Conference only last November, made a plea for a change of heart in our education system in favour of these Newsom children. It is five years since Newsom appeared and, quite clearly, a very eminent educationist did not think progress was quick enough.
We all know that the challenge of this Motion cannot be met by tackling it in any one situation—for instance, in the education situation—in isolation from the other situations in which young people are to be found. I submit that the crucial years are those covered by the latter part of secondary education and the early years of training in employment, 14 to 21. In those the secondary school, the 430 youth services and industry should form a tripod for action, and we should look at them all together.
I propose to concentrate on those ordinary youngsters who still, to the tune of something like 70 per cent., leave school at around 15, and most of whom have no further education; and I think it is relevant to ask what are their attitudes as they go out into the adult world. Only the other day I was re-reading a report prepared by the Westhill Training College in Birmingham, which had studied the attitudes of school leavers, and they had compared a sample of school leavers in Birmingham with their peers in Berlin. As we know, comparisons can be odious. My only reason for drawing attention to this one is to reveal the appalling ignorance of problems and events displayed by these Birmingham youngsters compared with the boys and girls in Berlin, and, most important of all, following what the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Coventry said, the lack of a sense of involvement in what they were going to join.
I am not singling out German education for special praise, because these youngsters could be examples of those in other countries as well, just as the Birmingham boys and girls could be examples from other towns in our country. It does not mean that many of them would not wish to be informed and involved; in fact, quite the contrary is the case, and the Westhill Report went on to make that point. That report was written before Newsom. I understand that an inquiry undertaken by the Government Social Survey was put in hand last year into the attitudes of school leavers, among others, and that it is likely to appear in the next month or two, and I shall certainly look out for it with the greatest of interest.
I do not question that there has been some progress since 1963 in making more room in the curriculum for a more adequate social education. I know the Schools Council has been busy with studies of curriculum development, that teachers' curriculum development groups have come into being, that Newsom's "extended day" is being experimented and that his proposals for boarding school provision are being studied.
I know, too, that there has been a heartening development in extra-curricula 431 activity, particularly in local community service. Leisure time activities are beginning to have the effect of bringing more adults from outside into contact with children and the young people in the schools. All this is good, and all of it in the right direction. But there is a long way to go. So far as I know no survey has been made of progress since Newsom, but I should guess that no more than about 30 per cent. of our secondary schools can be said to be developing along Newsom lines. These pacemakers are, as one might expect, patchily distributed, and it can only mean that the majority of our young people are not being prepared adequately for citizenship. They are simply not having a fair chance.
I should like to put forward a four-point programme in training for citizenship in the final year, crystallising some of the recommendations of Newsom which could be adopted in every secondary school in the next five years. It would not require more teachers; it could be introduced immediately by in-service teacher courses, and in the long term in colleges of education. Its basis would be a deliberate outgoing programme linking the pupils with the layman, and it would be followed, if I had my way, by every young person in his last year at school.
The first ingredient would be a period of communal living away from the school and the home environment. This could take many forms. It could be a course, it could be a camp, or it could be a journey. The second point would be opportunities to pursue a wide variety of leisure activities. I think I would include a "pop" culture in this, but also training in a voluntary community service. The third ingredient would be a course of study in relation to local and national problems, the organisation of local and national government, and the organisation of industry. The fourth point would be discussions on the ideals and implications of democracy, on the achievements of Britain and, if I may ride a hobby-horse for a moment, on the inevitable evolution towards world government.
This would constitute a social study course, and could become a social diploma course, but I would sooner it was a non-examination kind of course. If it were made an examination course, it could be 432 a subject of the C.S.E. Its particular characteristic would be the practical nature of the tasks, which could bring in even those for whom a C.S.E. is too difficult.
My Lords, I am sure I shall be told that this is a counsel of perfection. Some will say that. Others will say that it simply cannot be done under our present tradition and system of education; and there will be some who would question the diagnosis and the cure. But I say that one must find a way to speed up the process of giving an equal opportunity to all our young people to develop their talents and to use them at a time when they are so badly needed and so sadly lacking. We hear a lot of talk about lack of adequate leadership to-day, but we tend to neglect the old adage that the quality of leadership depends upon the vigour of those who are led. We need to inculcate the qualities of leadership all the way down the line.
What about democracy? Who can say that we are making it work when we hear of elections to executive office in the local branches of trade unions being decided on a vote of well under 10 per cent.? This is a recipe for adult responsibility, not for conformity. Its purpose is to help young people to make up their minds what society they want. This slant in the curriculum should have as its main purpose the granting of the vote at 18. I would say "18" without equivocation, and not 20. This was one of the main recommendations of the Labour Party Youth Commission. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor gave as one of the reasons why we have not got it that it is felt that young people are not ready for it at 18. I maintain that they would be if we were to make adequate preparation for it at school.
So, if I may sum up on the school situation as I see it, I would make three points: first of all, to underline the error that the noble Lord, Lord Butler, has pointed out, which I believe the Government have made in postponing the raising of the school-leaving age. This has undermined the will towards the economic and other kinds of recovery which conditions everything else, and it hits at and offends against those who need the opportunity most. My second point is that because of this error I would urge 433 the Government to do everything possible to encourage the present trend towards young people staying longer at school than they do at present. The national figures at the moment are 29 per cent. staying on until 16, and 15 per cent. staying on until 17 years of age. That is by no means universal. It is certainly not the case in the development areas which need it most.
My third point is to ask the Government to consider issuing a circular on the subject of what I have called a "social study course" or a "social diploma course", and urging its adoption by local education authorities and examining bodies. My fourth point is to express the hope that the Royal Commission on Local Government will have something to say about bringing the local education authorities into a regional setup. This will help to reduce the serious disparity of opportunity which exists at the moment.
The second prop in the scheme that I have put to your Lordships is of course the Youth Service. Many of your Lordships have been speaking about this, and no doubt others will. I propose to say but little, because my loyalties to my former colleagues on the Youth Service Development Council are still closely engaged. I know that the future of the Service is under urgent examination by the Council, and I venture to hope that a sense of urgency will continue to prevail over any obsession to indulge in further time-consuming surveys. What we need is widespread action, not endless surveys which are pigeonholed, or even guinea-pig experiments. I will limit myself to one point. It is obvious that the statutory part of the Service must be preparing now for necessary adjustment when the school-leaving age is eventually raised.
In my view, the adjustment needs to be three-fold in its character and content, in the age range catered for, and in the priorities to be given. I believe that at present the Youth Service is catering for 20 per cent. or less of those within the age range—much less than was estimated by Lady Albemarle's Committee. One reason given for this is the association of its provision with school. I believe this will diminish as the central position of the school in the whole neighbourhood becomes more firmly estab 434 fished and as the curriculum develops along Newsom lines. But I also believe that the statutory Youth Service should present a more adult image; it must be seen as beyond school. I think the name may have to be changed and that the age bracket should be shifted upwards from fifteen to twenty-five. It should be presented as an agency for young adults and as a link with adult society. Without in any way discouraging the present policies and coverages of voluntary youth organisations, I hope that special encouragement is given to that part of their programmes, and indeed to the whole organisation which caters for the young adult. I would mention here, because they have not received a favour-able mention so far among others that have, the Federation of 18-plus Groups.
I believe that the Government have to be clear as to whether the Youth Service is mainly a "rescue service" far the social misfit, or a logical follow-on for the purposeful young products of Newsom. When resources are so limited and restricted, it is obvious that there will have to be priorities, and I have no doubt at all that priority should lie with the latter. The French philosopher, La Rochefoucauld, one pointed out thatOld men like to give good precepts to console themselves for no longer being able to set bad examples".I think it is as well that we remember that—in fact, this has been said in so many words already. I think we are much too apt to preach to the young. We want to remember what La Rochefoucauld said. I am certain that a great deal of the trouble lies in this particular point rather than in Government action at any level. The point has been sufficiently made by other people.
The third prop in my scheme was industry, and this needs to be firmly linked with the other props. In a speech on May 3 last year I suggested a number of points which might be borne in mind by industry to help young people feel that they have an effective part to play in their firms as partners in the firms. I will not weary your Lordships with those points now, but I hope that they will be borne in mind in the current inquiry into the provision for young people.
I have said nothing about how this great task should be grasped and handled 435 at the level of central Government. Indeed, knowing the recent preoccupations of the noble Earl, Lord Longford, in this problem, I am particularly sorry that he is not speaking in this debate today, because I particularly want to know his solution to it. I have not suggested a solution myself, and I endorse entirely what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Robertson, and others about the need for a completely comprehensive grasp of the whole problem by the Government. Among the many great tasks which face the Government and the country, I believe that there is no bigger one than that of inspiring and releasing the energy, enthusiasm and idealism of our young people. I believe that the Government still have a chance, and still have time, to make a great and lasting contribution to the future of our country if they will reaffirm their belief in our young people and demonstrate that faith in these and other practical ways.
§ 4.42 p.m.
§ LORD PILKINGTON
My Lords, I rise with some misgivings to address your Lordships for the first time, and I crave your indulgence should I unwittingly transgress the customs of this House. I had thought that the subject of youth and service was one on which it would be difficult to be controversial, but I have learned that even on this subject there are some aspects which it would be best to avoid in a maiden speech. The Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, is indeed a broad one, and I will confine myself to some general considerations relevant to any youth policy.
The first consideration concerns the definition of youth, or young people. There are many here who are living proof of the truism that neither old age nor youth is judged solely by years, but is judged by a state of mind. Youth, too, is a question not merely of physical vigour—even though that is more conspicuous at an early age—but also of a state of mind: an ambitious, critical state of mind, not content with idleness nor with the ready acceptance of opinions which seem self-evident to many of their elders, and not absolutely typical in very much else, since the youth of the nation inevitably includes so many different individual types. For certain statutory purposes, of course, the Youth Service 436 (to which I will return later) must be defined as having a precise age span—an age span which itself should change from time to time and certainly should start earlier now than would have been deemed right a generation ago, even though, as the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, has suggested, it should probably go on later.
One of the startling facts of to-day is the gulf, and even the conflict, between the generations. Any more comprehensive policy towards youth should take account of the tremendous gains to be made for us all if this gap can be reduced. The rebellion of youth, whether as shown in its more extreme forms at universities or in the less organised areas of the "hippies" or the football crowds, is largely based on the failure of parents and children to bridge this gap—a gap born of an adolescence spent by parents in an age of unemployment and hardship between the wars and by to-day's youth in an age of nuclear fear and of full employment—facts which inevitably give a quite different starting point from which most people look at problems. Although I cannot suggest how this bridge can effectively be built, I am sure it becomes more difficult if man's seven ages, or any two of them, are kept rigidly in watertight compartments.
One factor that must be allowed for and compensated is the changed attitude towards discipline and authority. It is probably hard for most of my generation not to feel that the old-fashioned discipline of the strict father and the Sunday school, of respect, and a bit of fear, as well as mutual affection, was the natural order of things. I am not sure about this; but whether it was natural or not, that particular form of discipline has vanished and will not return. This has often led, too, to unhappiness at home. Therefore, it is for those who are interested in youth to see that, somehow, a start is made in constructively filling this gap; that somehow the more youthful seizure of freedom and rejection of imposed authority are replaced by self-discipline from an earlier age. Here we are not yet, I think, convincingly successful. Self-discipline, taking the harder of two choices more often than not, pays enormous dividends later on. The question must be: how can this habit be induced to many more people much earlier?
437 My Lords, I have said that youth rebels more than it used to do against parental or other imposed authority. But there is one form against which, on the whole, it does not rebel. This is partly due to the power of the mass media which have introduced a passion for fashion. Fashion is infectious, whether it be in escapism or in involvement, in shirking or in working. The discipline of conformity to modernity is powerful, and it is a weapon which those of us who have to lead youth along any path should not disregard. Examples set by a good leader will be followed. Most young people really want to get on; they want to do good, and they know right from wrong. The infectiousness of neighbourhood public opinion and of the current fashion can be an ally, and if we make greater use of this the tide can be turned in the right direction.
I should like to put forward another consideration. The education and training of young people for life, even for earning their living, in a modern, technical society is a lengthy process and an expensive one—longer by far than it used to be, though not so long as we hope it soon will be—and inevitably it is more costly, in terms of tools, equipment and buildings. It is largely a community charge, one borne by the community as a whole. At the other end of life the youth of to-day will have to support a lengthening period of retirement of their elders, as people live longer and as that increased old age, on the whole, is not likely to be devoted to gainful activity. In a Welfare State such as I hope will develop more calls will be made by the young and by the old, as well as by the sick and infirm. But a Welfare State has to be sustained from the community, too, and largely by those who are between 18 and 65. It seems to me of quite paramount importance that youth should become accustomed very early, and to an extent that does not now apply, to the notion that its own standard of living, and that of those who depend upon it in later years, will depend on what it itself collectively does in its prime; in other words, that welfare has as many responsibilities as it has rights.
Responsibilities first entail work, productive work. Nothing else can ensure a high standard of living as well as can a high level of productivity and of pro 438 duction; but the responsibilities also entail more service and voluntary service. It is not to everyone's taste, but far more young people even than now would be willing to give their time and talents in the interests of others, if we knew how to capture and harness their interest and how to fit them to the appropriate tasks. Round holes are bad enough at work if the pegs are square, but efforts are made to fit the worker to the job. But in the various types of service by youth (and I have been very interested to note how almost everybody has talked to-day more of service by youth than of service for youth) it is too readily assumed that, because service itself is by definition a good thing, there is no need to have regard to individual leanings as to the type of service.
Young people are offering in increasing numbers to help those who are in need, but they are doing it with no trace of condescension. The spirit, is there, and even if only a quite small percentage of youth has that spirit the effect is out of all proportion to the numbers. They give service of many kinds entirely free, but they need guidance both as to what to do and, broadly, as to how to do it; and they need the tools for the job. Usually the money for the tools will also be given voluntarily, as a result of e Torts and campaigns to raise it. But the community as a whole get incalculable value from the work that their young people do, and it seems to me that local authorities should be encouraged—indeed, urged—to help to sustain this Youth Service by seeing that the tools are there, and by ensuring that provision for finding or for training leaders is there, too.
May I make a plea for the emphasis to be on local enterprise and on individual initiative? The spirit that we all seek does not flourish at a distance, and it does not easily travel very far. It is sometimes not even local; it is almost parochial. It is the neighbourhood interpretation of needs that is most genuine and most infectious. So that the more freedom local authorities have in the methods they use to encourage youth to serve, as well as to work, the greater will be the contribution that voluntary service by youth can make to the welfare of themselves and of the whole community, and particularly their own community 439 surrounding them. There are always pockets of people in need who, for one reason or another seem to be beyond the range of existing welfare services. It is the local small group on the alert that will identify these needs and these pockets, and that will experiment, usually on a small scale, with ways of meeting the needs.
All this is not a matter of great sums. I know a little of the work of some of the youth volunteer groups up in Lancashire. A few pounds are often enough to provide a group of volunteers with the materials to redecorate a house; but without those few pounds the voluntary spirit may wither simply because it does not have enough to do. I actually know of two groups, involving nearly 200 volunteers, which would have had to close down a short time ago but for an effort that was undertaken to raise money to give them just the tools for their own particular jobs. Youth clubs—some hundreds of them—had grants three or four years ago from the Carnegie Trustees, of whom I am one, to refurbish the clubs. Those grants averaged about £200, but I believe that without that quite small amount of help, half of those clubs would not by now be in existence. Help given through local authorities, or in any other way, to good voluntary effort must be a good investment and must have lasting benefits to all.
In brief, my Lords, the nation's youth needs help to acquire a sense of purpose, an understanding of the obligations with which it is going to be faced, a reduced awareness of its rights, a habit of self-discipline, or self-confidence and of faith, and a belief in a Welfare State that it will itself help to provide through work and through service. I believe that those mental attributes, even more than the physical ones of fitness and health, are essential if young people and their families are to be happy and useful and harmonious. And it seems to me that in framing any comprehensive policy towards youth both the Government and voluntary bodies should keep those aims, as well as many others, well in mind.
§ 4.57 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
My Lords, it is a very pleasant task to be the first to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, on having chosen this debate 440 to make his maiden speech. It so happens that I have been connected for a good number of years with a works not all that far from the glassworks at St. Helens. Therefore, I know from personal experience the very great respect and affection in which, like all of his family, the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, is held both as an industrialist of the first rank and also as one who has very close to his heart the welfare of his employees and those connected with them. So I hope, and I feel confident, that we shall hear the noble Lord very often in this House, not only on to-day's subject, but on the many other subjects to which he can make a valuable contribution.
I ask the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, to excuse me if I do not follow him in the remarks he made because, like other speakers, he has given us a general view of the youth problems and has helped to take this debate, which after all is about a comprehensive policy, right across the board as it should go. I am going to do the opposite, because a whole has many parts, and I do not think that a debate of this sort would be complete without some mention of the pre-Service organisations. I hope very much that some of my scouting friends will do the same for their movement before the day is done.
The noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, touched on the matter very lightly. I am going to touch on it rather harder, not because I feel any anxiety at the present time, as I shall he showing in a moment, but because I think it is as well to remind those who are considering the general problem that the pre-Service organisations are part of the youth movement. Their contribution to the work in approved schools and borstals, which has been going on since 1942, is probably not generally known except by the people who take a hand in the problems affecting institutions of that sort. The Army Cadet Force and the Sea Cadet Corps are members of the Standing Conference of Youth Organisations. The A.T.C. is not, but I think there are special reasons for that. Therefore, they are not working apart, but are working in the general body of youth organisations recognised by the Ministry of Education and Science—a fact which we owe to my noble friend Lord Soulbury and the late Lord Lloyd. They are ready to be co-ordinated, as 441 suggested by my noble friend Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, and they are ready to co-operate, as my noble friend Lord Aberdare likewise hoped.
I think it is worth while asking this afternoon how the cuts which have taken place over the last two years in Her Majesty's Forces, Regular and part-time, have affected the pre-Service movements. It might have been thought that the effect would have been adverse, but, contrary to that, the numbers have if anything slightly increased. So has the quality; and if anybody wants to see a type of British youth alternative to the "flower people", they are welcome to go to any pre-Service athletic meeting, or any other of their events.
My own impression is that the increase in numbers in the pre-Service organisations could have been considerably greater but for the fact that they suffer from the difficulty from which all youth movements suffer; namely, the difficulty of getting the right number of grown-ups with the right kind of dedication and the right mentality to run the work. To my knowledge, there never has been any limit to the numbers that you could handle in the pre-Service organisations—nor, I think, in any other of the organisations of the same sort, like the Scouts and the Brigades—except the difficulty of getting adult leaders. This, I think, would provide a reason, if there were not many others, against attempting any form of compulsion; because we must not forget that if we compel the young people we have equally to compel the grown-ups to look after them or make it a paid employment, and not a vocation. If there had been a case for compulsion, it surely would have come in the middle of the Second World War when, by a fusion of thinking on the part of Sir Winston Churchill and the late Ernest Bevin, the youth movements, the whole lot of them, were expanded, with Government encouragement. No compulsion was necessary then: the leaders were found. To my mind, no compulsion is either necessary or desirable at the present time.
While we are still talking of reductions in the Forces, there is, of course, another aspect of the pre-Service organisations and that is that the fewer grown-up soldiers there are the more the Services rely, for people to sec the Queen's uniform, on the pre-Service organisations. 442 That is a rather separate aspect, and one which I am not going to pursue this afternoon because it might come better in the Defence debate in a fortnight's time. But it is important in this way, that it represents a form of involvement in national affairs. The word "involvement" has been quite fashionable this afternoon, and it can equally well be used of those who join a pre-Service organisation with a sense of duty and a knowledge of the task for which they are training. Therefore, like everyone else, the pre-Service organisations will need to plan for the future, because like every other youth movement the circumstances under which they are working are constantly changing.
If one goes back for one moment to the 1880s, and to Miss Octavia Hill, who founded the first unit of what is row the Army Cadet Force, one will find that the reason which compelled her to do that was to get the ragged boys off the street and give them something to do which was not only good for themselves but useful to society. One cannot labour that point too much. In one sense, of course, one could say that that need is diminishing, now that the Welfare State has come. One could say with some accuracy that the street urchin has gone, or that if he has not gone he has very nearly gone. But that does not dispose of the problem.
This afternoon, several noble Lords have mentioned the rise in the school-leaving age. Everybody, I think, on this side of the House, and some others, deplores the postponement of the raising of the school-leaving age, but the situation is rather like the inscription on the tombstone—"Not lost, but gone before". It is going to happen; and in forward-thinking for the youth movement the difference of a year or two does nix seem to me to matter very much. When the leaving age does go up to 16, then the conditions under which the voluntary organisations are working will undergo quite a marked change. One usually considers 14 to 18 as the effective age for the ordinary youth movement. If that age bracket is chosen, about half the members of the youth movements would be of school age, 14 to 16. In practice, many more than half will be that, because in all the movements the weight of membership is in the lower 443 ages rather than the upper, for a number of reasons.
So more and more the pre-Service organisations—and, indeed, other organisations of the same kind—will need to see to it that if they do not have links with schools already (as many of them have, being sensible) they start to forge them; not as closed units like the Combined Cadet Force, but with activities associated with a particular school, and welcomed and sponsored by the governors and staff of those schools. This, I think, is important. We should know where we are going and we should plan for it, because neither the development of the Welfare State nor the raising of the school-leaving age in particular will by itself deal with the problem of leisure—and this problem is still very far from being solved. This problem always strikes me as being particularly bad on the big housing estates, where there are so few public buildings—though as the school authorities begin to be more co-operative in allowing the use of school buildings that problem is being overcome. But in that sense, in a good many parts of modern Britain I fancy that the scene is just as dreary and life is just as empty under the surface as ever it was in Bermondsey in the 1880s.
Now that void can be filled only by a youth service pattern of some sort or other. In this country so far, at least for the last thirty years, the pattern is the one set by the White Paper at the beginning of the Second World War. I think it was called The Service of Youth. That set the pattern of co-operation between the local authorities' youth service and the voluntary youth movements—a pattern which I am sure was right; was most timely, arriving as it did just at the beginning of the Second World War; and provided something which I am sure is very important, that is, a choice of activities of different kinds open to the young people of this country.
As I said earlier, this debate has gone right across the board. The variety of youth organisations from which young people have to choose at the present time goes right across the board as well. I am sure that that is right. I am sure also that young people will thus be able to combine the need to choose for them 444 selves the activities they want to pursue with the choice of a sufficient variety of service to others. When I say "others", I mean not only other individuals but the community and the State in all its aspects. So, my Lords, I have tried to put before you the problems of one set of organisations and much of what I have said applies to others. But if we follow the present pattern of youth organisation in this country, the whole will be made up of many parts; and it is important that each part should be in working order.
§ 5.12 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF DURHAM
My Lords, the number of speakers down for this debate is convincing evidence both of the intrinsic importance of the subject and of our gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, and also, as he himself mentioned, to the noble Lord, Lord Hunt. While I am in this area of felicitations may I join in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, on a speech which, if I may say so, I found full of understanding and experience, critical and careful in its analysis of the past, and frank and thorough in facing the problems of to-day. What I hope to do now in my own speech is, in the phrase of the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, to move across the board and to share with your Lordships some general reflections on points which I think must be kept in mind as we revise present schemes or contemplate further schemes for youth.
I readily acknowledge at the outset that these reflections are based on no sociological inquiry. I do not profess to have done already the work of the Keele investigation to whose results we all eagerly look forward. My remarks are admittedly impressionistic, arising from no more than my own experience, from talking with other people and so on. But I believe that they are not altogether unreliable. At any rate, I am risking these generalisations which the noble Lord, Lord Butler, eschewed, though I hope that I am not sermonising either.
I think we shall all agree that youth comes of age earlier than ever before, to find itself in a world of political uncertainty and insecurity, a world in which there have been revolutionary changes in moral and social attitudes and behaviour, a world in which all beliefs 445 and presuppositions are, and rightly, subjected to the arc-light of debate, cynicism and satire, and in which, for the most part, an earlier generation of teachers and leaders shares with youth very little indeed beyond its own uncertainties and bewilderments. Against that general background, I see the youth of our land falling broadly into two groups. The boundaries of these groups are neither social nor intellectual; they cut right across all our hierarchies.
It is nothing short of remarkable that the first of these two groups exists at all; it is nothing short of remarkable—and here I agree with the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack—that despite being subjected to so many political, moral, social and intellectual pressures, so many of our youth work harder and are more involved in the problems and opportunities of the world than any earlier generation. For those in a job, a full day's work is often followed by night lectures at a technical college, or by a visit to a youth centre, or by taking part in or planning services, to which again the noble and learned Lord has referred. For those at school, a day's work is followed by "prep" whose relevance to examinations makes its pressure all the greater. And to this is added an entirely magnificent range of out-of-school activities—not least foreign tours; and always there is the need for the senior boy or girl to develop a proper sense of responsibility. He, too, is engaged in voluntary services to which I have referred.
What is my conclusion there? It is this. That, plainly, for this group, already totally involved, if not over-involved, little more, if anything, need be or should be done. Already their readiness to work, their good will and humane, sensitive, social consciences and their critical dissatisfactions are all being put already to the best possible use; and we have the youth services of the country to thank for this. The term "youth services", of course, includes both those responsible for employment, at one end of the spectrum, and those responsible for education in the schools, at the other.
Besides this first group of the heavily involved, there is a second group; and here its members are, for good reasons or bad, not at all fully stretched. Society offers to them no stirring challenge. As the noble Lord, Lord Butler, remarked, 446 to them, leaders seem altogether confused and short-sighted, when they are not downright disingenuous or superficial. So far, the second group is homogeneous. Let us now notice that within this group there are two kinds of persons very different indeed in outlook. Some in this second group are bored and apathetic, and apparently neither wish to make nor are capable of making any great effort. If they are in employment they move with the tide and seem tragically destined to become the flotsam and jetsam of a later day. Some, I fear, are already unemployed, are already cast up on the beach. When they fail to go for interviews arranged by the local youth employment officer, they may well answer as they have done, "Well I just could not be bothered." Do not mistake me, my Lords: I do not think we rightly deplore that kind of remark. To me it is rather sadly symptomatic. But I will come back to that point presently.
Quite different from these, although still in the second group, are those who, in a mood of deep dissatisfaction with society, with no little intelligence and, sometimes, high sensitivity, rebel. They seek a satisfaction which society fails to provide; and among these, of course, are those who become drug-dependent. I was talking recently with some pharmacologists, and some of those responsible for university health services. In this discussion it seemed to me to be quite clear that many of those young people, whether in university or elsewhere, who "take a trip" with drugs, seriously misguided though they be, often do this as a means of self-discovery, endeavouring to make possible a personal exploration in a world where contemplation and privacy are all at a discount. Or it is done in a search for identity in a world of stereotypes. Or again they see in drugs a means which they believe, in a world of shibboleths, may give them new insight into themselves, their relations with other members of society and the world in general. They may be—I think they are—utterly misguided; but the significance of their actions should not be lost on us, for the tragedy is that there should exist in society these youthful yearnings which at the moment fail to be harnessed to, and fail to provide the stimulus for, any major constructive task.
447 This I see, of course, as the conviction behind the Motion of the noble Lord. Lord Robertson of Oakridge, and no doubt it is the conviction which has motivated so many of us to-day: that here are youthful yearnings which could well be put to a better purpose when they could enjoy proving themselves. Here is certainly a permanent challenge to those who organise work for youth, and, if I may say so, it is a standing rebuke to the Ministry of the Church. It is these two very different needs within the second group, it seems to me, that any development of youth service and any new and wider policies must satisfy.
First, what can be done for those young folk who may otherwise in due course become the tragic flotsam and jetsam of society; and especially those (of whom we have many in the North-East) who are already unemployed and who feel unwanted? Secondly, what can be done for those very different people, though still in the second group, who have these deep unsatisfied yearnings but whom so far we have failed to involve constructively in society? Those, it seems to me, are the two questions around which the whole of a debate like this revolves, and we shall all agree that it would be foolish to presume any easy answers. But I think that some negatives are clear, and they are negatives which the Church as a whole has learned, and is learning only in a very hard way and at a very great cost. I think that if this could be shared with others it is perhaps worth sharing.
Paternalism, my Lords, would be useless. Nor will the problems be met by a "do-gooding" which occurs because it suits the doer rather than the needs of those who are only too often regarded as the object—and the word "object" is significant—of the exercise. Nor will any imposed policy, still less an imposed central policy, succeed in winning the involvement and spontaneous response of youth. Whatever is done must have another sort of authority altogether, one which is self-authenticating, an authority which wins assent by the intrinsic imaginative character of what is proposed; and it must arise in, and out of, a context of acknowledged needs, and in circumstances where there is the potential ability to meet those needs.
448 How can we discover at ground level—not 500 miles away—what are the real needs of youth and what would be constructively satisfying? That is the basic question, and it is as difficult as it is crucial. Let me, simply to underline the problem, give an example of what the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, would, I think, call a "pocket experiment". One of my clergy, in consultation with the local youth employment officer, tried recently to meet the needs of the unemployed young folk from 15 to 18 years of age by starting a club for them, which would not only provide recreational activities virtually at any time of day or night but service some needs of the local community. Some 30 people from some five neighbouring communities were visited. The parents, to a man and a woman, were enthusiastic. The young people displayed a varied set of initial responses, from great interest to apathy. But, of the 30 or so people visited, only one boy turned up at the first meeting; and, despite continued publicity, nobody else ever came along.
One of those who never came commented, "It is a good idea, but it is a long way off." In fact, the meeting place was a mile from his home. He later added, "Nobody does anything for us when we are out of work". My Lords, is that not odd? It is no good saying that he was just being inconsistent; that would be a highly academic comment. We have to ask ourselves, "What does a boy who says this sort of thing want? What would have satisfied him? Where do we best begin?" This is not meant as a story to give any answer, but merely to point the problem. I need hardly say that I have not said all this by way of superior criticism: the position of these young folk is far too tragic for superficial platitudes or superior comment. I have given that example simply to show the kind of deep-seated difficulties and questions with which anyone concerned for young people must grapple, and how much needs to be done by way of preliminary exploration of the actual position.
I think there is no doubt that a policy for youth must be far more comprehensive than it has been; but if my reflections and cautions are borne in mind, I think they suggest that such a policy should be founded explicitly on what we 449 can discover from youth about the needs of youth. To this there is no a priori road. In practice, I think that whatever be the scheme, or broader policy, in detail, it will emerge only from some gathering of those agencies now engaged in youth work—the kind of coming together, perhaps, which the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, had in mind. At least I think it accords with his principle, and perhaps it is something which could be the concern of this youth volunteer scheme as I have heard it elucidated today.
At any rate, my Lords, the terms of reference of such a coming-together could be twofold. First, to see just how in fact the scheme could be comprehensive. And here, taking up points about voluntary organisations which many noble Lords have made, I think that its first task would be to see how present existing voluntary services can best be supplemented, harmonised, co-ordinated and developed, while nevertheless preserving their variety and autonomy. Secondly, it would try to see how such a policy for youth could benefit from, and arise out of, the practical experience of what is the situation, so that the policy emerged alongside the needs and concerns of youth itself—youth which, as the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack commented, is full of ideas, energy and good will. In any event, if we are to help youth—or anyone else for that matter—to realise its full potentiality, we must have that radical change of attitude which my remarks have, I hope, already implied.
We must be, in the sense indicated by the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, in a good way parochial. We must begin our thinking and planning, no matter how wide they become in the end, with the young as they are. We must take the young for what they are, which means that we must discover what they are, and where they are; and then, in that situation, meeting acknowledged needs, we may be able to communicate to them our hopes and concerns in a way which wins rather than affronts their personal involvement. This is an attitude which, as I have said earlier, is always hard to learn by any institution, whether Church or State, for it demands a refined kind of self-reticence. Yet I believe that it is only this kind of self-discipline on the part of planners and 450 administrators, as they try to plan a comprehensive policy for youth, that will give us a comprehensive scheme which can provide a ransom for many and lead youth and ourselves together to a richer fulfilment for all of us.
§ 5.30 p.m.
THE EARL OF ARRAN
My Lords, first, we are all indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge. Youth is an explosive subject and nowadays, as the right reverend Prelate has just pointed out, perhaps even mere than usual. The strength of the views held by your Lordships is to be seen in the length of the batting list to-day. I am glad to be higher on the list than I have a right to be, because I have a concrete proposal to lay before the House, and I hope that some at least of the later speakers may care to express their views upon it. Put briefly and simply, the idea is to reintroduce a year's National Service of a non-military kind for both sexes, either voluntary or compulsory, the purpose being to serve one's country and humanity, not by force of arms but by doing the things of which we as a nation stand so greatly in need. I think in particular of such concrete, specific things as the building of hospitals and the destruction of slums, physical things which will have to be done one day but need to be done now. How splendid to be able to say, "I built that hospital" or, "I pulled down that slum". Surely those who built the Yugoslav road must he proud indeed.
Perhaps here I may be allowed to quote the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester in a recent debate in your Lordships' House. He said:I do not suppose there is any place in Europe where there is so much derelict land as there is in the North-West. It is a disgrace; it makes one ashamed to travel through the area. And I refer not only to pitheaps but to all kinds and types of derelict land: little pieces, middle pieces, vast areas. Here is a task which this country should long ago have begun to tackle, but has anyone really set his mind to the problem? Here is an opportunity."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, col. 154, 14/2/68.]Here, surely, is an opportunity. I believe myself that there is a vast untapped streak of good will among young people and that it is still in search of an outlet. I am cynical enough to doubt whether human nature really changes over the ages. We are all, I fear, still 451 basically selfish at heart, and though we may love our neighbours we love ourselves still better. Without being in any way sentimental, I cannot but detect definite stirrings among the British youth, which as always is outstanding, towards a greater understanding of the troubles of others and a genuine desire to help. I believe quite simply that our children are nicer than we were, and other noble Lords may feel the same. I detect this desire not only among those already converted, those who go out of their way to find an opportunity to serve, but also among those in whom one might least expect to find it. I do not, for example, pretend to be a great expert on the so-called "hippies"—how they hate that name, and how they deserve it!—but I know just a few, and those I do know I find very decent people. Moreover, some of them surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprisingly, have strong religious convictions and even the most violent agnostic among them will admit that surely it is good to believe in something, be it only in human dignity.
If your Lordships agree with me this far, perhaps you will follow me yet a little farther, though I warn your Lordships that we shall now be travelling in uncharted seas with rocks and whirlpools ever around us. The first obstacle which faces us is this simple question: what is the need for such a scheme? Do we not have a hundred voluntary organisations which cater for the young who wish to serve? What about the great scouting organisations and such massive bodies as OXFAM, the Y.M.C.A., the Y.W.C.A., Voluntary Service Overseas and the Community Service Volunteers at one end, and the groups of small youth centres up and down the country at the other? What about the Government's own scheme, launched last November by Mr. Denis Howell and referred to by the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack, launched with a subsidy of £100,000 over three years for such excellent purposes as visiting the old and the sick and the lonely, and helping the mentally handicapped, even though I understand that the scheme is already running into difficulties with the local authorities?
Are not these schemes and organisations sufficient? Are they not more than 452 enough to absorb the good will where it exists? I would say, no, most definitely no. While I bow before the noble work of these long-established and indeed world famous organisations, I would wonder whether they fully cover the national needs of to-day. Each has its own tasks, its own grand purposes, and it fulfils them. But are we not looking now at a broader canvas? Would not such a scheme as is envisaged in no way supplant but rather supplement the good things we already have? I hope that this is the way in which the leaders of youth movements will look at this scheme.
But this is only the first of the rocks and reefs on which we could be wrecked. For the rest—and I must mention them briefly one by one—we come next to the schools and universities. Is this scheme likely to interfere with the educational upbringing of young people? With the emphasis so rightly focused to-day on education, we must look askance at anything which could interrupt the process of learning. We know the many handicaps which national military service imposed on our young people after the war, from which many have never fully recovered, largely because they did not have enough to do. Here again is a real danger, a real obstacle, and at present all I can suggest is that the proposed one year's National Service should follow immediately from leaving school, at whatever age that may be. A year or two between leaving school and National Service would bring a taste of freedom and indiscipline which would make service thereafter irksome. The purpose of this scheme in fact would be to make that service the climax of the educational process, the fulfilment, as it were, of the years of learning—if you like, a repayment of what the State has done for them.
Next, perhaps the thorniest nettle or sharpest rock of all is the effect upon a man or woman's career and prospects, upon apprenticeships and upon the reaction of the trade unions to what is proposed. I deeply regret that no trade union spokesman or leader is to speak to us this afternoon. This may be a deliberate abstention, I do not know, but I prefer to regard no news as good news. And I take comfort in the fact that, as perhaps I should have mentioned in the beginning, the scheme is not mine. 453 I am merely its somewhat inarticulate mouthpiece. It was conceived by Mr. Richard Briginshaw, the Joint General Secretary of the Society of Graphical and Allied Trades, as good a union man as he is a patriot. Whether the T.U.C. will give the scheme its blessing, I do not know. Certainly we cannot do without it. We shall see.
There are many other encumbrances ahead. Where should this labour corps be housed? What should the pay be? Who should pay it? Would it help or hinder unemployment? Above all, should it be on a voluntary or compulsory basis? As a good Liberal, I would naturally prefer it to be voluntary. I would not rule out a compulsory basis, though, of course, it would increase the difficulties tenfold. The result would be that you would get goats among the sheep; you would get grumbling and discontent. But you would also get more work done, and at the same time you would bring discipline to those who need discipline. Speaking for myself, I can only say that it would have done me a power of good if I had been forced to do some useful work at a time when I was interested only in enjoying myself.
My Lords, I believe that it is not only the duty but the right of every young Englishman and Englishwoman to serve his or her country at some stage; and the earlier in life, the better. But these are only some of the many questions to which I do not know the answers. I doubt whether anyone does—indeed, there may be none. All I have done in this, for me, long speech is to outline a scheme, a grand concept, if you will (I can say this because it is not my own brainchild), and to ask for your Lordships' views.
You can kill the idea, if you will; the Government can kill it or damn it with faint praise; the Opposition can kill it, too; the trade unions can kill it; and the existing voluntary organisations can kill it. We can go on as we are, getting not very far not very fast. We can go on touching the fringe only, or perhaps we can look at this a little further. It is, if you like, pie-in-the-sky. But I persist in believing that there is a germ, and more than a germ, in the idea. And should I, by any chance, secure the approval in principle of some of your Lord 454 ships, I can think of one Peer, at least, who would be willing to introduce a Private Members' Bill—a Bill the less offensive to all Parties because the responsibility would be entirely his own and that of his supporters. Perhaps some of the rest of your Lordships who are to speak will at least do me the favour of saying to me yea or nay.
§ 5.42 p.m.
§ LORD FEVERSHAM
My Lords, I must join with the speakers who have gone before me in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, for instigating this debate. Undoubtedly the Motion under discussion is an important one, and it is gratifying to see the importance which your Lordships attach to it reflected in the long list of speakers down for this afternoon and this evening. I shall have to leave before the end of the debate, and I shall be sad to do so. Unfortunately, I have to attend a funeral early to-morrow morning in Yorkshire, and I have to drive there this evening. I shall follow very carefully in tomorrow's Hansard whatever I may miss.
I am concerned primarily with a universal look at youth and young people, their place in society and the duty of other members of that society towards them. In a debate of this nature it is so easy to single out particular ventures or services and to harp on them, either with praise or with disgust, but without stepping back to take in the broad picture. I am as full of praise as other men for the individual contributions in youth work, but I am concerned that so many of these contributions are made without roots in what this Motion terms a comprehensive policy towards youth, without a decision as to any long-term goal of achievement. My Lords, every adult is a trustee of society. It is his, or her, duty of trusteeship to mould, mend, preserve and prune society to present a worthwhile environment for his heirs. On the board of every trust you find some who are better than others at dissolving the natural suspicion which exists between a beneficiary of that trust and his trustees: a suspicion which needs to be waylaid by understanding and foresight, by reasoning which can encourage a code of ethics to support some future life. This country is negotiating a difficult period in its history. The world 455 has entered an exciting but frightening age—the nuclear age. In last November's debate on the Latey Report I said I believed that:Youth maintains its level of responsibility to meet the demands of the age it lives in. Victorian youth was equipped to meet the demands made upon it by the Victorian age. Nuclear youth puts up a creditable performance in meeting the demands of a nuclear age but it has become a struggle.The reform of society has been quick to advance, but not half so quick to advance as science and technology. The progress of civilisation is in danger of losing its balance. Our time is spent in studying with horror the rising financial cost of any progress whatsoever. We have been driven into a corner where we must pay untold sums of money to develop machines which will earn us enough cash so that we can afford to pay attention to the human element in society. I am afraid that before long a young lad will emerge from his training to find that he has been trained for nothing but to provide cannon fodder or some kind of technological armageddon.
The days of confirmed bachelordom and eccentricity are past. Nowadays it is a case of homosexuality and fringe insanity. Trial by family is finished. The trial is public, with newspaper evidence. The ordeal is dissection on the couch by psychoanalysis. We have become public property—and that may be a good thing: I cannot judge. As a young man I find myself to be public property, and I must assume that it is for the better. In a young man there can be no feeling that it is for the worse because he has become public property under the trusteeship of that wise old bird, his father. I have grown up in a permissive age. Had I been born a Victorian, my moral life and my future career would have been rigidly controlled. At all stages I should have held a shrewd idea of where I was going. I might not have enjoyed the outlook much, but at least there would have been a goal to aim at. To-day one is allowed to do what one wants, although there exists a sort of fertive social bribery to try to egg one on up certain paths.
As a Victorian youth I should have been "brainwashed" into the knowledge that I was British, and that Britain was something. To-day I am vaguely aware 456 of being a Yorkshireman, but I have not a clue what Britain is or where it is going, if it has not gone already. I know that it must be kept tidy, and it is whispered that I must back it. I presume that I must back it to win—but to win what? What lies beyond exporting more merchandise and earning more money? I know that I must have more money in order to fill my belly, to raise a mortgage and pay my stamps. Meanwhile, there is a temptation to sing and dance and dress in rainbow pantaloons, to meditate, copulate and gargle with LSD. It would pass the time—until the trustees came up with something to get us out of this grotesque hang-up.
I hasten to add, my Lords, that it is a compliment to the trustees to see only a tiny minority of their charges succumbing to that temptation. I would warn that the numbers of the fallen are increasing, but I believe that we can thank such outposts of good trusteeship as the Church and the family for keeping them a minority. We cannot thank some nuclear-age newspapers for leading us to believe that they form a majority.
To grow up in the nuclear age is to discover a wonderful freedom of thought and action available for use, only to want for a direction in which to proceed, some area in which we are satisfied that our liberty can be constructive. There is confusion and doubt, and a fear that inextricably we are committed to follow a trail to disaster. From time to time there is a feeble protest. The night before last a card was delivered to my house: "XYZ", it said, "is one of the candidates at your by-election. He is not an 'Independent'—he depends on the voters. He says abolish the Party Whip system in Parliament through electoral reform; abolish legal privilege for public corporations, et cetera; renounce the H-bomb; stop aircraft noise; abolish censorship and reduce the birth rate"—a ragbag of ideological reforms delivered by young people protesting that all is not well, conscious that the system of government in their country is unable to produce what they are looking for. They are unable to say what it is that they need. Desperately they are seeking a new leader and a new religion. It is no surprise to discover a desire to "live now and pay later", when, above all, there is the knowledge that eventually we 457 are going to have to pay for that hoary old pal, the hydrogen bomb.
That is what it is like to be a child of the nuclear age. I am not an expert on Boy Scouts, and I have left it to the experts to tell us what it is like to be a nuclear Boy Scout. I have talked only of what I have experienced and what I have seen. I am at the stage where my feet are being shoehorned rather unwillingly into the shoes of trusteeship. I have to try to foresee some worthwhile aim for society. I am conscious of a failure to produce anything revolutionary or even very satisfactory. I can seek only for ways to improve what is becoming an intolerable limbo, void of any purpose that I can believe in.
Education seems to provide the most obvious field for improvement. It is a field which has seen progress and it must see more progress. It must provide young people with a feeling that they have a place in society as well as a certificate of their brightness to do sums. Before they leave school, young people must know more about government, both local and central. At least they must be allowed an attempt to understand the democracy of which they are the children. They must have more chances to appreciate that there are other things in life apart from qualification, specialisation and a resulting increase in salary. Schooling must be comprehensive and preferably co-educational. As a young man I am content to see military expenditure cut. I should be overjoyed to wave good-bye to the H-bomb. I find it tragic that the opportunity to stay at school for an extra year should be put off by even one month.
Once a young person has left school there is much more that we could do for him or her—this is something which has been stressed already by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt. This quotation should be of interest to your Lordships. It comes from a Report. sponsored by the Yorkshire Council of Social Services, called The Arts in Yorkshire. I quote:The paradox is that for some purposes the necessity of art is recognised and for others not. Our whole system of education is based on this belief. According to Sir William Emrys Williams, of £1,200 millions spent annually on education, a quarter is spent on training children to like and understand the arts, and six times more is spent on public libraries than all the arts. In the 458 schools it is considered vital to inculcate a feeling for music, dancing, drawing and drama. In the sacred name of education, hundreds of millions of pounds are spent on children, but when they leave school the tap is turned off almost completely".Later on the Report says:A policy which says, in effect, We will spend money in abundance to instil a taste and appreciation of the arts while you are at school and university, and then after that you are on your own to make the best use of the education you have', is not in itself unreasonable. Unfortunately, it clearly has not worked. To experiment with some organisation which would ensure, as far as possible, that all the acquired taste and interest in the arts should not run to waste seems to us at least to be worth trying".We have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, that similar sentiments were expressed in this House during the recent debate on Sport. Surely here is another yawning gulf for the noble Lord, Willis, to groan at. It is just such yawning gulfs which must be bridged to promote closer contact between the generations.
My Lords, I agree with much of what the noble Earl, Lord Arran, has said. Not long ago we were trying to keep up with the noble Earl in his forceful thirties. Now that he is in his exuberant twenties the pace is quickening. What a "rave-up" we are going to haw when he hits his teens! A national scheme of encouragement to young people to undertake a period of social work should produce just the right kind of confidence in "playing a part in society". Encouragement on a national scale seems the most sensible course of action. I think teat any sort of conscription would prove impractical and even harmful. This is yet another bright wheeze brought to light by the noble Earl. I hope that it will be investigated.
Finally, surely some further unification of the youth movements should be carried out. This seems to be essential in any comprehensive policy towards youth and young people, but there is a danger of strangulation by bureaucracy here. If only we could increase the cohesion between Girl Guides and Outward Bounders, for instance, without any strangulation, then we should be making round. I am sorry to have spoken for so long. I hope that your Lordships do not feel that I have been talking outside the bounds of the Motion. In the first part of my speech I tried to interpret the reasons 459 why I feel out of touch with an older generation—indeed, I fear, with some of your Lordships. However, on this afternoon's form I have been pleasantly surprised to find much understanding of my plight. I came to look for understanding and to a certain extent I seem to have received it already. But in the broad sense I have not received an answer to my problem. I suppose that it is something, at least, to have had the problem understood.
§ LORD ROBERTSON OF OAKRIDGE
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, will he mind my asking a question? He has said that he has to go before the end of the debate, and I should not be able to refer to him when I am speaking then. So I should like to ask him whether he is aware that the proposer of this Motion, at all events, very much appreciated his speech?
§ 5.56 p.m.
§ LORD SOPER
My Lords, I should like to add my thanks to those of others for the initiation of this debate by the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, as also for the content of many of the propositions which have been advanced and for the advice which has been given, much of which seems to me to be admirable and will, I hope, be effective. I should like to say to the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, how much I enjoyed his maiden speech, and I am glad of the opportunity it now gives me of repaying a debt of long standing. When I was a student I had the opportunity of going over one of his factories in St. Helens when I was on an evangelistic campaign, and I have been in continuous debt ever since for a number of sermons the illustrations of which have come directly out of that experience. I hope we shall hear the noble Lord many times in the future.
I approach this debate, this discussion, with a certain amount of diffidence, not lessened by listening to the speech of the noble Lord who has just sat down. It was of course extravagant, much of it was preposterous, and all of it rather splendid. I, for one, feel the more diffident because I am aware of the gap in age that separates me from him. We 460 have been talking a great deal this afternoon about what we think we ought to do and others ought to do for youth. I wish we had more evidence from those nearer youth than I am as to what they themselves want. If they are a little inarticulate, as I think the noble Lord was at the beginning of his speech—which he might have modified had he been appreciative of all the points made by previous speakers—I am sure that in principle we have to listen much more to what youth is saying. I have tried that experiment. It is perhaps not the most suitable addiction of a preacher, but I was much gratified to find, when the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack made his peroration, how accurately, for me, he described some of the aspects of youth to which I was going to advert myself. I thought it was a most closely reasoned and an intimate expression of some of the characteristics of youth which need to be emphasised and to be borne in mind when we are presuming to think we have a duty to them and a responsibility for organising their lives, or at any rate setting their lives on a course suitable for their ultimate development.
I would select one thing the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack said and add one of my own not adverted to yet, and speak briefly to both. I am quite sure there is a large, yawning gap of understanding between youth and age, and it probably is the more cavernous and larger to-day than it was in other generations, though this, I think, would be difficult to prove. There are, of course, natural and inevitable barriers between youth and age. Youth is not a homogeneous union, and it is as preposterous to try to speak of youth in terms of the "flower children" as in terms of the Empire Loyalists, with whom I was arguing on Tower Hill a few hours ago. They represent ends of the anode and cathode, perhaps, and between them is a vast array of youth, of heterogeneous impressions and attitudes, and to speak of youth as a whole is, I think, an impudence.
In youth is an inbuilt inability to understand age, as it may be true to say that age cannot understand youth. I remember Mark Twain's immortal comment that when he was a boy of 16 he was appalled at the ignorance of his 461 father, and at 25 he was amazed at how much the old man had picked up in the meantime. That is a very sapient comment, and I am quite sure that to try to persuade youth to understand age or authority or the powers-that-be is in many cases a waste of time.
But when these caveats have been entered, two impressions that are strongly in my own mind about contemporary youth emerge. One is that the permissive society, of which they claim to be members and which they energise, has within in an ambivalence: it has both a good and a bad quality. The bad quality, I suppose, is in the irresponsibility that attaches to much that we call sexual prudence or responsibility, and the other is the reaction referred to by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, the reaction to the predominant kind of sanction that is apparent in the authoritarian society which they reject, repudiate and are up in arms against. Some become anarchists; some become "flower children"; others say, "Let us love and not go to war". And all of them have this hearty dislike of, and deeper resentment against, the amount and the prevalence of violence which has now been introduced into their drawing rooms and is always there on television, against which they react most violently, and which they feel is an affront to them.
I think this is a characteristic of modern youth; and I make no bones about it. So far as I am concerned I think they are justified in looking out with the jaundiced view which was referred to by the noble and learned Lord, hoping that they will live to the age of 50 but wondering whether this is a feasible proposition.
The other aspect of modern youth to which nobody has referred as yet, though to me it seems to be sticking out a mile, is the much-increased secularisation of youth to-day. I will not go into a long and dismal tale about the failure of the churches, but it is true that most youth to-day does not even know the name of the church it stays away from. In past generations people at least—and particularly in the North of England made periodic visits to places which they did not normally attend for worship. There are no nostalgias of religious memories, no hymns learnt at the mother's knee, no passages from the Bible learnt by heart, 462 no attendance at Sunday school, to which the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, made reference. None of that is in the vocabulary or experience of a great deal of what we call "modern youth". Consequently—and to me this is inevitable—there is the decay and disappearance either of the authority or of the taboo of religious moral teaching; and, as I see it, practically nothing has taken its place.
I would heartily agree that modern youth is no worse—and probably no better—than the youth of other generations. We never have enough assessable information to come to a conclusion about this. I have no part whatsoever in the attitude of people to-day that youth is going to the bad, but I rejoice in the evidences of idealism and enterprise which are to be found everywhere. These are two characteristics of the contemporary youth situation, and I want to refer to both of them, and, in the case of the first, in the light of the proposition that has been put to your Lordships by the noble Earl, Lord Arran. I agree with him. I do not believe we have stressed sufficiently the sense of community for youth, and I think we are overanxious to preserve what, after all, is an academic proposition which we call "liberty". I see no reason why there should not be, in the interests of youth, and particularly in the interests of group A of division 2 in the right reverend Prelate's observations about the categories of youth, a compulsory service enjoined upon youth as a continuation of that compulsory education to which it is already committed. Children are compulsorily sent to school. I wonder how many of your Lordships would have gone to school voluntarily if there had been any choice in the matter? I doubt whether I should have gone.
I seen no final retribution in personal character and no final diminution in personal spirit which has come about as a result of children being sent to school. If they are sent to school up to the age of 14, 15 or 16; and if indeed it is 16, why not send them for another year to that extra-mural school where the) will learn just as much outside the desk, and probably more in civics than they have learned by the "three Rs" in their more sedentary occupations up to that time. A fig for this idea that we 463 are destroying some inalienable liberty of youth when we compel young people to fit themselves, at a time when they are not so disposed to do it, for the freedom that later in their lives they will exercise only if that discipline has been imposed upon them!
Secondly, I have heard certain noble Lords express their fears that if we compel youth to accept service for the community, the building of roads and that sort of community work, we shall destroy their initiative. This seems to me to be grotesque. By that token it would mean the destruction of the initiative of the soldier who was conscripted. This was the prime argument of those who were opposed to Communism. They said that those who were directed into the various activities of the Communist régime would become Volga boatmen, and as lazy and useless. I remember when the Dynamo football team visited these shores, and we said with alacrity and conviction that they would be no good against our teams, and would speedily be beaten by the virile Arsenal team. They played against Arsenal, and they lost; they went up North and they did not do any better. They went up and played against Glasgow Rangers, who took the precaution of bringing in three other internationals to swell their ranks, with the same result. We said, "This is a proletarian activity; they will be no good at the more refined sports." They came the next year to Henley, and they went back with the Grand Challenge Cup.
I see nothing wrong in the virility and enthusiasm which can be promoted among youth by the kind of community direction to which the noble Lord referred, although it will need careful treatment on two grounds. I am a pacifist and should have no use whatsoever for conscription for war; and I should have no use for that kind of conscription for the community which might be misdirected in a time of war and might be the pre-condition of an armed body which would be ready and waiting. That would not suit me a bit. But in principle I do not believe we shall recover a great deal of the youthful enthusiasm which is now latent and dormant unless we administer the kind of educational system which includes, not only for the first year of a boy 464 or girl's life, the secondary occupation of schooling, but goes on to that equally important aspect of education, the formation of those attitudes and the sense of responsibility for the civic community in which that child will grow up and live.
I want to say one other thing. There has lately been criticism in the Press that when parsons talk about contemporary matters they do not mention religion. I may be very inept in what I am going to say, but at least I shall not be accused of that omission. One of the ways in which the community can be served is that part of the public life of this country is still the Christian Church, and if we are ranging over a wide area in this debate, as we are, it seems ridiculous to exclude the ready-to-hand opportunities for community service which still exist within the Church. It seems to me that those of us who believe in the Church, and those who are members of it (and in your Lordships' House there are many such; and many fervent believers), whatever the denomination, would be failing in our responsibility if we did not recognise that the gulf between this secular youth and organised Christianity or religion in general, ought to be bridged. I do not think that we parsons will bridge it, particularly the older ones of us, by stringing guitars around our necks, wearing our hair long, holding a pot of beer in our hand and trying to get "with it". We are without it, and we shall never get it. I see no point in this at all; in fact, it rather disgusts me. I think there is a recognisable bridge which has already been referred to in this debate. Let me briefly rehearse it.
I took part some months ago in an OXFAM demonstration in Trafalgar Square. I was the only cleric among a number of obviously very secular people, and one of the speakers was a young gentleman I had never met before, called Michael Same. He sings or twitches, or does something, and is very popular; and when he got up to speak he said, "I haven't the slightest idea what I am going to say about OXFAM; I have not thought about it yet"—incidentally, I should have been more impressed by that remark if I had not seen his notes, but I was impressed by what he said after his introductory comment. It was this: that he believed in the feeding of 465 the hungry; that youth ought to be contributing to the peace of the world. He said that, as I have done, he has sat down and stood up and walked around for C.N.D. In fact, had he been applying for candidature as a preacher in the local Methodist church I would have enrolled him at once. But he said that he had nothing whatsoever to do with the organised Church, no use for religion at all and no use for organised religion.
Alongside the metaphysical refusal to accept the principles of organised Christianity I believe there is a wider acceptance of the moral principles of the Sermon on the Mount than in any previous age I have come across in my reading and in the historical records available to us. When we think of C.N.D. and OXFAM, and that magnificent piece of social work, Voluntary Service Overseas, and when I recollect, as a working parson, how the opportunities within the Church multiply, the pioneer work, the particular work with which I am engaged among alcoholics and the response made by youth to the needs of these miserable people, here is the rehabilitation of the true essence of Christianity, here is the opportunity to turn the Church into a workshop of a better community which we should prefer to call the Kingdom of God.
Therefore, alongside the other things to be taken into account, the raising of the school age, all these magnificent voluntary suggestions, I would support the investigation of the possibility of extending the compulsory discipline of education to another year outside the mural requirements implied in what we call school. Above all, in this secular age those who have lost touch with the Church have not lost touch with those ideals to which the Church is consecrated, and, if we are prepared to recognise it, here is a splendid opportunity of mobilising these young people. Let us not be afraid if their theology does not subscribe to our meticulous standards. Let us thank God and press on.
§ 6.12 p.m.
§ BARONESS ELLIOT OF HARWOOD
My Lords, we are in the middle of one of the most interesting debates in your Lordships' House, and I have listened with the greatest interest to all the speeches made so far. We are much indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Robert 466 son of Oakridge, for inaugurating the debate. I think he must be glad that he did so, since so many people with so many points of view have taken part. I would say one word of congratulation to my colleague Lord Pilkington. He and I have been members, and still are, of the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust, which is one that has done quite a lot of work for youth, and I would say how glad I was to hear him at this time on this subject and to congratulate him. I know how enthusiastic he is on this and many other subjects and I am sure we shall hear him often.
I listened with the greatest possible interest to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Feversham. This seemed to me to be a completely unique contribution to your Lordships' debate and one which I am sure we all value very much indeed. His description of the technological Armageddon was a very terrifying one. I tried to see whether in my own experience with young people I had ever met it in that way. Perhaps I am not fitted to meet it in the way he has described, but I found it difficult to follow him very far. I have a great number of close friends and relations of his and younger ages, and I do not think I have ever found myself in the position he described. I may be lucky, and he may represent the majority of people; I do not know. However, whatever he said I shall read with great interest, and I am also very interested that he should have had the courage to get up and say what he said in the way he said it in your Lordships' House. This of all the Parliamentary institutions is the one in which we feel we can say most freely what we think, and I believe Lord Feversham certainly did so this afternoon.
The noble Earl, Lord Arran, has asked for comments on his scheme. The noble Lord, Lord Soper, made some comment on it, and made some other comments towards the end of his speech with which I agree. I must say at once that I am—I was going to say "passionately"; perhaps that is too strong a word—opposed to any form of compulsory service in the way in which Lord Arran or Lord Soper described it. I should not be opposed, and was not opposed, to National Service for military purposes. I am not a pacifist, and if that is the way in which our nation has to be served in 467 war time or in pre-war time, that is a genuine, honest to God necessity to which, both for men and women, I should not be opposed. I was not opposed in the war and I should not be opposed if it had to be brought in again. It has not had to be brought in again, and I should be passionately opposed to bringing it in by a subterfuge, as a form of discipline that young people should be subjected to because we do not like what they like after they leave school or university.
I believe strongly that in the Youth Service we are dealing with the free time of young people; we are dealing with time which is their own, in which they can do what they like. That is the essential point, it seems to me, of the Youth Service. It is the leisure time activities of young people, which can be wisely spent and very often is wisely spent, but can also be unwisely spent and wasted; but it is their decision to make. Those activities which I believe to be within the cover, so to speak, of the Youth Service should be on a voluntary basis, and young people should be able and allowed to choose what they want to do. As the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, said, there are a great many young people who do not want to join any organisation at all. Why should they? They are free; they can do what they want to do. It depends on one's inclination. There are some people who like joining in community activities, some lone souls who prefer to lead their lives independently. I believe they should be allowed to do so. I am opposed passionately to any kind of compulsion on the leisure time of young people.
What should the Youth Service do? I believe it should offer opportunities on a very wide range of subjects for all young people—on sports, games and outdoor activities, but on all other kinds of activities; on art, skills with the hand, and any interest which young people want. We should be able to provide that within the club or the community centre or the organisation to which the young person may belong. But there should also be—and this must not be left out, in my opinion—opportunity to do very little, or even nothing at all, if that is what young people want to do. Let us not forget that while it is perfectly true that some young people may be still at 468 school and carrying on with further education, we are dealing in the main in the Youth Service with young people who are out at work from 9 to 5.30, involved in industrial training, and they are very often tired; they often attend night schools and technical classes after their working hours. They want not only to take part in a great many activities, but also to have the chance to rest and talk and chat and sit about with their friends, much in the way that many of us do in the more privileged conditions in which we are fortunate to live.
I do not think that the Youth Service should be at all stereotyped or have any pattern laid down. Every generation of young people is different from the other, and each generation has to be looked at with a fresh eye. They come and go very quickly; generations change with great rapidity, and fashions change, too, and it is that, the essence of the change of taste and the change of fashion and variety, that our Youth Service should provide for. It is not a substitute for a formal education, and it could not really be equated with the school curriculum and the compulsory education service, but it should be integrated as far as possible with that service.
What the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, said about secondary schools and secondary education is, I think, absolutely true. I know of one experiment which is taking place—I think it was Lord Hunt who mentioned Alexander Clegg—in the West Riding of Yorkshire, where a new school is being built on to an existing building but as a separate wing. It is a youth centre which is to be run by the West Riding Youth Club organisations, but in close proximity to and in co-operation with the secondary school. I am sure that this experiment will be a success, and I hope that it may be followed up.
The Albemarle Report is, if I may say so, a landmark in the Youth Service. I am one of the hoary old characters in this work, because I was on the first Youth Service Committee which was ever appointed, way back in 1939. I recognise that what was done by Lady Albemarle and her Committee gave a tremendous impetus to the Youth Service, first of all because she had the ear of the local education authorities. In the days when I started we were only trying to begin to convince them that there was anything 469 that they could do. The amount of money and encouragement which was given as a result of that Report was simply splendid.
Everybody has said something about his own experience. Perhaps I may say a word about an organisation of which I know, and what the Albemarle Report did for that organisation—it is only one of 14 or 15. The one I know best is a club organisation, the National Association of Youth Clubs, whose chairman I was for many years. To-day there are in that organisation 267,000 members and 3,271 clubs. That is an enormous increase: it is 50 per cent. more than it was when I was chairman some 15 years ago. There are 6,000 men and women leaders. They are not professional leaders, but leaders with some training or other, and there are 9,000 voluntary helpers. The impetus which was given by the Albemarle Report went right through all the youth organisations. I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, would say the same about the Y.M.C.A., in which he has so close an interest.
Now there is a fear that the squeeze in education costs will hit the youth organisations, just at the time when they are providing splendid activities for young people. I have read of the money which the Government are providing for the new Young Volunteer Force Foundation. I was most interested in what the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor told us about that foundation, and I am sure we all hope that it will meet with success. But I should like to say one thing; namely, that it will not succeed unless it has the good will of the local authorities and the local youth organisations, because, as I understand it, it is not going to be an organisation starting its own youth movement but is to be one to help those people who want to give voluntary service and those organisations that are already giving it.
I greatly hope that it will realise that unless it is based in localities and, as the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, said, has a real local interest and leaves behind it a real local interest, when the young people who are employed in that organisation go away their work will disappear. It must be done on the basis of the local authorities and also of local interests and local voluntary organisations. I hope it will not mean that those organisa 470 tions which are already doing that kind of work will not be supported in the same way as they have been in the past. The noble Lord, Lord Soper, spoke of the Voluntary Service Overseas Organisation. I agree entirely with what he said. That and services operating here need money. A little money will help them a great deal, and I hope that the new organisation will not supersede, or try to supersede, what they are already doing.
In my opinion, the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, has done more work than almost anyone, certainly in your Lordships' House, in the provision of new ideas in youth organisation. I believe he is still President of the N.A.Y.C. He led three expeditions of young people, the first, in 1960, to North-East Greenland; then in 1963 to the Pindus Mountains in Greece, and then in 1965 to Czechoslovakia and Poland. These expeditions provided not only tests of endurance and enterprise, but also resulted in community work in villages and elsewhere in the countries that they went to. There are a great many adventure courses in the United Kingdom. There are the great tests and schemes under the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, which is proving tremendously successful. I confess to being a little doubtful about it when it started, but I take off my hat to the work that has been done through that organisation. These are all things that prove that we are doing a great deal.
Listening to some of the speeches here to-day, to the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Arran, and of some other noble Lords, I feel that it is not realised how much is being done at this moment. There is one particular scheme which is being carried out by clubs. It is in the nature of a residential training course for able-bodied young men and women, girls and boys, and also severely handicapped young men and women. These courses were started some years ago by the National Association of Youth Clubs. They are courses, not with the weak helping the strong, or the strong helping the weak, but courses in which these two groups of people learn, on the level together, many of the skills in which they can all share whether or not they are handicapped. So successful are the courses that this year there are no fewer than ten throughout the country. I was interested to learn yesterday that 471 two are to be held, one in Paris and one in Berlin, to demonstrate to young people in those two capitals what can be done in this field.
The noble Lord, Lord Soper, spoke of the problems of drug addiction, alcoholism and so on. I can only say about that that I think the Press make the most of it. I believe the publicity given to these matters is most detrimental. In many cases a lot of remarkable rehabilitation work is being done. With the help and co-operation of the education authorities and the voluntary societies, the community and the churches, I believe that, anyway with young people, this may be only a passing phenomenon.
There is, however, a problem about which I should like to hear more from the Government. It is the problem of how to integrate the young immigrants coming into the community. I believe that if we could get some schemes going in relation to the age we are talking about, since there is much less prejudice among young people than there is among older people this would be most valuable. I wonder whether the Minister can tell us what has been the outcome of the recommendations of the Report of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, which was made only last year? I wonder whether or not it is possible to get small grants, especially in relation to integrating the immigrants into areas where this help is most needed. Here is a way in which the Government can help, having the good will of voluntary organisations.
Then there are problems which we have read about, but which I think are now much better than they were, of hooliganism and of breaking up trains, and so on. It is the rather older age groups who do that. We had the problem of the "Mods" and the "Rockers" of two or three years ago. We do not hear very much about them. One of the reasons is that there have been successful experiments with youth club leaders and helpers going to areas where these disagreeable things are happening and, with the help of the police and the local authorities, providing rough accommodation for sleeping, eating and talking—and it is important to be able to talk people out of their exhibitionist behaviour rather than that they should engage in all this 472 rowdyism—stories which the Press are only too anxious to get hold of.
I should like to put in a word for training of all kinds—holiday camps, summer schools in art, contemporary design, theatre workshop, all the types of training courses which are of interest to the young to-day. The variety of these activities provided by voluntary organisations is tremendous. I hope that they will continue and that the Government will support them with money and with other help.
One of the things which came out of the Albemarle Report was the setting up of the Leicester Training College and the establishment of proper standards for youth leadership training and employment. An excellent job has been done, but it is now more than time that the emergency course established at Leicester was converted into a permanent and approved course. It has been suggested that it should be of two or three years' duration with educational and social science facilities. If there is any further delay in the establishment of this professional course on a permanent basis, it will frustrate recruitment, and furthermore the maintenance of a good staff in the college will be difficult. If it is thought that the training of youth leaders in this year of 1968 is only an emergency and not a permanent professional job, then people will not come into the profession in sufficient numbers and of the right quality so as to expand youth work throughout the country as I should like to see it expanded. One of the successes of the voluntary training courses which have been carried out by many organisations is the fact to-day one finds among the ranks of professional youth leaders many club members who have graduated from their great interest in clubs to the professional training courses. They are now established professional leaders in many areas throughout the country.
To sum up, the Youth Service is a vital part of the education and training of young people, not on a compulsory basis but on a voluntary basis; and with the temporary postponement of the school leaving age it is more important than ever. It is both an effective scheme and an economical one, Such public money as is spent is matched from private resources and it often returns double its value in regard to work and response 473 throughout the organisation. I very much hope—and I urge this upon the Government with all the persuasion I can command—that whatever cuts are borne by the Youth Service such cuts will be minimal, and that the generosity of the private individuals and companies who support this work will continue. The Youth Service has always been of enormous importance, and I feel that to-day it is more important than ever before.
§ 6.34 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF NORWICH
My Lords, I should like to join the other speakers in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, for initiating this debate. It has served to underline the need for a more comprehensive policy towards the youth of the nation and to show that this need is urgent. I should like also to congratulate a friend of long standing, the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, for his thoughtful and constructive maiden speech. I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Arran, when he says that there is much good will in young people to-day, which is not given proper expression and which is looking for an outlet. This seems to me to sum up the kind of problem which most of the speeches to-day have been attempting to resolve.
Some would agree that there are more outlets for young people than there were. I believe this to be the case, and I believe that the improvements in education over the last twenty years are in large measure responsible for this, as also is the initiative given to this matter by the work which was done in the Albemarle Report. There is a growing variety of opportunities available to young people for their interest and leisure and also to enable them to use their gifts and energies to serve other people at home and overseas. There were, of course, counterparts of this activity in the past, but the form which service by youth takes at present is a relatively new phenomenon. Yet all the evidence goes to show that far more young people would like to take part in these activities if they could be shown where they are needed, and that the giving of service is satisfying to young people themselves and also to those whose needs are being met. This was a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington.
474 Some people wish that National Service could be reintroduced—not for military, but for social and community needs, and that it should be introduced for young people of both sexes. They recall the benefits that National Military service gave. I submit that these benefits were probably greatest for those who were commissioned. They had more responsibility and more to do, and the benefits were widely recognised in the universities in the years immediately after the last war. But, in retrospect, it is easy to idealise the National Service of those days. It is easy to forget the failures—the young men who were frustrated and fed up by being made to endure discipline without being given anything worth while to do and who felt, often justifiably, that they were wasting their time. Any reimposition of a compulsory National Service for all young people, as such, would to my mind be neither palatable nor practicable. But I believe that it is not beyond practical possibilities to provide scope for worthwhile service for all our young people as an essential part of, and built into, their educational up-bringing. The kind of compulsion to which the noble Lord, Lord Soper, referred is, to my mind, utterly different from that of National Military Service. It is rather a matter of extension of educational provision. This can be achieved without involving the odium of compulsion, to which the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot, referred.
Before I attempt to develop this theme, let me say that service is precisely what is wanted by young people who are growing to maturity. Naturally and properly they want it, even though they may be somewhat suspicious of the. word "service". This was illustrated by the 14 year old Merseyside boy who, when he was asked to mend an old lady's iron, said, "I don't hold with this service stuff. Just give me a job to do." Young people want to prove their glowing abilities. They need to be needed, to take some constructive share in the life of society, to contribute to it and to be involved. I believe that to have some experience of service at about the time that their schooling finishes—and this will be all the more opportune when the school leaving age is raised to 16—should come to be regarded as an essential ingredient of their education, testing 475 and giving active expression to what they have learnt in school. It is this type of opportunity which again and again can be seen to make the world of difference to a young person. It helps him to see through other people's eyes as well as his own and draws him into a sense of responsibility and of belonging to the community as a whole. As Lear said:Expose thyself to feel as others feel".Although much lip-service is paid to the organisations which are providing opportunities for service by youth—and much credit is due to those efforts—such opportunities are in effect denied to all but a small minority of our young people. I am sure we need to think of this matter on an entirely different scale than has been the case hitherto—in terms not of hundreds of young persons or even of thousands, but of tens of thousands.
The value to the individual and to the receiving end of Voluntary Service Overseas has been amply vindicated, and some reference to this has been made in this debate. Of course, the fact of its being overseas is a great attraction. It is not surprising that far more young people are keen to offer themselves than can be given places. I am thinking here, in particular—and here I agree most wholeheartedly with what the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, said in this respect—of the younger volunteers, the school leavers and apprentices of 17, 18 or 19, rather than the graduate or professionally qualified young adults. It is natural enough that, for the type of remote places in which many V.S.O.s are placed, particular care must be given to selection.
But we should be thinking of the range of tasks which will make service open to any young person without selection. There is one organisation—and to this the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, referred—Community Service Volunteers, founded five years ago by Mr. Alec Dickson, which can be cited to show that such an aim is less fanciful than one might at first suspect. Community Service Volunteers claims never to have turned away any young person who offered his or her service. The staff never ask the question whether a young person can be used. They immediately address themselves to the question: How can this young person be used—and 476 where? It is a matter of allocation, not of selection.
Some of those who enrol are not really volunteers in the strict sense of the term. They may have been sent by a sponsoring body. This I believe is the case, for instance, for a number of police cadets. If as sometimes happens a conscript is not altogether enthusiastically imbued with the idea of spending some months' service, it is unlikely that he will be talked into a more cheerful mood by a member of the staff. But it is the situation which confronts him which can transform his attitude, and sometimes that transformation takes place in a matter of weeks or months, or even days, after starting his assignment. For if a young person comes face to face with looking after thalidomide children without legs or arms, he gets on with the job and it is this that reconciles him to it, and makes him realise that he is on to something that really matters. We need to present a boy or girl with opportunities of urgent significance.
Every volunteer, or indeed young person directed into a job of service, hopes in his heart of hearts for just one thing; namely, that the warden of the old people's home, or the matron of the hospital where he is appointed to serve, or indeed the particular people with whom he is serving, will in some way or another indicate, "You are just the person that we want. Thank God you have come." If there are to be places for tens of thousands, this will require, as the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, has already suggested, some restructuring of the social services in such a manner as will make use of the contribution which young people can give. I would also most assuredly add, as the noble Lord, Lord Soper, has suggested, the contribution and the co-operation and the initiative which the churches can give to this.
It seems absurd to close the ward of a hospital because of staff shortage, when there are boys or girls who have it in them to do much of the work that is needed, or some of the work that is needed, provided that they are wisely allocated and provided that they have the guidance of trained staff. This means a reassessment of how you make use of the trained staff. Instead of having a 477 mental ward with two or three orderlies in charge, you could have several youngsters under the care of a trained orderly. And let no one assume that young people cannot undertake work of this kind. Experience shows that some of them certainly can.
The intake of large numbers of young amateurs in a professional service was precisely what happened in 1939, when something like a quarter of a million young men were called up under the Militia Act for military service. What happened, in effect, was that the professionals, the Regulars, became the trainers of the large influx of new recruits. The privates, or many of them, became corporals, the corporals became sergeants, and so on. If professionals feel that they are being diluted by amateurs, not unnaturally their hackles begin to rise. But if, on the other hand, they see themselves with a training responsibility towards the amateurs, their status is enhanced and not diminished.
It is, of course, essential that the intake of young people into various forms of social service should not be considered simply from the point of view of the good that it will do to the young people. It must be real needs that should be met, not artificial projects contrived to keep them busy. If the headmaster of an understaffed secondary modern school in a depressed area were offered 15 sixth formers, it would mean that his trained teachers, saddled with the problem of coping with far too large classes, would have one or two assistants. Leave alone the benefit to young people, I am convinced that the country is losing much by not harnessing the energies of young people where they can be used to real advantage. What is required is constructive new thinking at the receiving end of the social services, and for this to take place Government initiative is required embodying the co-ordination of many Government Departments. New patterns of service by young people could then be developed which would bring help to those in need, relief to hard-pressed existing staffs, invaluable experience to young people themselves, and new insights into what can be achieved through their service in the field of social work.
I am not unaware of the problems which could arise in an operation on this scale, or the delicacy and care with which 478 it would need to be planned and carried out. Of course, any form of service, whether by young or old, involving as it does personal relationships, requires careful planning and careful implementation. It is all the more necessary to make use of the research already undertaken and the experience gained; and a number of organisations have valuable information to offer. But if I may refer once again to Community Service Volunteers, in the five years in which they have experimented in this field they have, so far as I am aware, never antagonised the authorities with which they have negotiated in placing young people for service in new situations; and sometimes in situations which could not before have been envisaged as being possible for young people to help in. Head teachers, trade union officials, borstal governors, matrons of hospitals, local authorities, are some of the authorities in question and chat I believe is no mean achievement. The experience already gained cannot easily be discounted or discarded, for the good will which exists could easily be prejudiced by misguided enthusiasm, unwise allocation of young people, or lack of proper care and planning and of explanation in negotiation.
But if the expansion of service by young people is to be on a national scale, as I contend that it should be, as a passage from school to employment or further education, the tasks would not be limited to the social services as these are at present understood. Thousands of young people would be able and happy to use their hands in constructional tasks which are of positive value to the community. Already some hundreds of local volunteers have been involved in reclamation work in areas of industrial dereliction in the North-East of England and in the Rhondda Valley; and, indeed, in reclaiming the old Kennet and Avon Canal. This type of service could be widely expanded. It can be made exciting and it can create a sense of achievement by, for instance, converting what is tawdry and useless into what is attractive and functionally useful. I do not deny that the financing and organising of such a scale of service by young people would be other than complex and formidable, but I do not believe that it is either impossible or impracticable, and I believe that it is eminently desirable.
479 My contention, briefly, is that part of the normal education for all our young people should in due course of time include a period of service to the community at the end of their schooling. I would not wish to stipulate the length of time which this should cover, but would hope that it would be not less than nine months. Strong arguments can be adduced to claim that the break and delay before entering employment, technical college or university would be more than offset by the benefits gained by the young people during their period of service and by their contribution in later, adult life. The service given could have great intrinsic value to the nation as a whole, as well as providing a vital and therapeutic element in the development of a responsible sense of citizenship among our young people. The first step is to explore and open up a wide range of fields of activity adequate to claim the service of all the young people of the nation, with their varying aptitiudes. This is not a plea for compulsory National Service: it is a plea for a period of service to the community as an essential ingredient in the later stages of the education of all our young people, and I would earnestly ask the Government to give their most serious consideration to such a proposition.
§ 6.53 p.m.
§ BARONESS SWANBOROUGH
My Lords, I feel rather depressed at getting up to speak to your Lordships because my contribution can only be extremely pedestrian, and after the extraordinarily good speeches we have heard, and the wonderful debate that has taken place, I feel sad that I cannot give more. Like everybody else, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oak-ridge, for having introduced the subject at all. I am not sure how grateful I am to the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, for I am sure that his stimulation to thought will keep me awake, and I rather like my sleep. But I hope that what I have to bring to this debate is something practical.
Other people have said in a variety of ways that the youth of the country is ready to serve, but I would go further. I would say from my own experience that more young are ready to serve than have ever served before, and that they are 480 ready to serve in a greater variety of ways. What I am sad about is how little is known of how much is being done, and I wonder how this difficulty could be overcome. The noble Lord, Lord Hunt, said that not enough was being done quickly enough, and I would join with him in this and say that this is really the most serious question at the moment, because the young are impatient, and if not enough is done quickly enough then there may be a loss of a great deal of good will which is very prevalent at the moment.
My experience is that youth likes a challenge; something a bit more than any work which so many of us give them—work for the aged, work for this, that or the other. In declaring my own interests in the W.R.V.S., I would say that we use tens of thousands of young people on Meals-on-Wheels and other very similar projects, and I believe that youth should have something very much more challenging than the repetitive work that that sort of thing engenders. Local organisations and bodies, up and down the country, have done and are doing magnificent work. From Bath to Cumberland, from Cardiff to Aberdeen, and throughout the whole country, whether it be Merseyside or Sheffield, whether it be an outlying London borough or a Scottish small burgh—wherever it may be, I think it would be ungenerous for your Lordships, or indeed for the Government themselves, not to recognise the work of these local groups and what they are doing in the way of work camps or hospital work, work for disabled or special settlement experiments, whether it be for a new idea or for a very old ideal. This is the strength of the youth to-day; this is the strength of their work, and I feel it would be ungracious if we as a body did not recognise this to the full.
I believe that one of the things those of us who are working in the field feel very deeply is that equal opportunity of equal recognition should be given to all, whether it be the youth movements operating in one place or another or the long-established bodies, or the newly established local youth movements which are doing splendid and very outstanding work but so far have been sadly lacking in the way they make their reports. The subject we are discussing to-day is how 481 we can supply the demand for work by youth, and I believe this can be done only through the emergence of local organisations. This emergence should be fostered to the full, and all of us must keep in mind the whole time the fact that local pride must be supported, local enterprise must be assisted and local encouragement to the workers must be stimulated. The fact that an enormous amount of work is done also means an enormous amount of frustration in the preparation for the doing.
After the last debate initiated by the noble Lord, Lord Robertson, I felt very ashamed of myself. I thought I had not been progressive enough in this direction, and so I returned to my own colleagues and tried to get enthusiasm for a project to be given to youth without any of us appearing in it at all. I must say that some of my colleagues were very heavy to move, although they were not the heaviest in weight; and I found exactly the same thing at local level. Eventually we started the building of an indoor, heated swimming pool for one of the big mental hospitals. The job took about eighteen months, and it cost roughly £16,500. It would have cost about £2,500 more if the efforts of youth had not been invoked and used. But we did learn many lessons from it, and that is the only reason I dare interpolate anything of my own experience.
The first lesson we learnt was that it was foolish to try a big experiment as an initial start. This particular experiment needed a great deal of expertise, and therefore it was difficult to co-ordinate either the work or the gangs of youth working. The second thing we learnt was that if a plan is to succeed it must be simple, so that volunteers can do most of it. Otherwise, they get bored and fed up, and in consequence lose interest. The third thing was that the need has to be very obvious and explained to the people participating, and that results must be tangible and visible. The last thing was that youth should have a clear picture of the purpose of the project and for whose benefit they are giving their time, their skill and their energy. In addition to these lessons, we learnt that the person in charge must be young, must be able to call on specialist advisers, must have an understanding of the practical job and, as a 482 foreman, must be on the site the whole time. These lessons are valuable to remember, and although the cost of learning them is heavy, the sharing of any lesson learnt with other people is of extreme importance.
But something which is very seldom remembered and which can wreck the whole of a scheme is the fact that the first approach of the person in charge must be (with knowledge either from experience or advice) to the responsible statutory body. Unless one is en rapport with the statutory body the whole of the scheme can, come to naught. And it is very important subsequently to see those who are in final authority, the medical officer of health or the town clerk or whoever it may be. Not least is the need for encouragement and support which can be supplied by the older age group; if required they can also give advice and help. There will be inevitable breakdowns, and these should be noted so that the machinery which has broken down can be checked with other people and the same trouble avoided another time.
If young people are occasionally unreliable and show lack of continuity, this may happen when they are rather bored with the monotony of the tasks given to them and with the fact that they see no achievement individually and little or no chance of human contact. I cannot believe there is a single one of your Lordships—and I certainly know from my own past that there cannot be anyone—who has not at some time been unreliable or lacking in continuity. I do not feel this is a great sin on the part of the young who work in the way they do to-day. They obviously do not like being tied to repetitive tasks at regular intervals; but in whatever particular work they do they will learn self-discipline and a strength which is valuable to this nation, even though the teaching must be handled delicately and with great discretion.
I think that most young people do their best work as members of a group and working with their contemporaries, working independently of the older rather than as individuals under individual supervision. If possible they like to see a constant result of their own work. I do not think this is a habit 483 only of youth; but it is a very real component in getting work accepted by youth and done by youth. Always, however monotonous the purpose and value of what they have been seeking to do or the challenge given, it must be explained to them.
Much has been said this afternoon about clearing houses, and I would ask your Lordships to consider whether a clearing house mechanism has not a variety of component parts which must be considered. It has a very valuable part to play; but first, and of this I am quite convinced, it must have its various constituent bodies truly trusting it. It must win the confidence of the people or the bodies it is trying to co-ordinate. Such an organisation, wherever it may be or whatever it may not be, cannot successfully be both co-ordinating and also organising. It cannot be operational in the field and at the same time co-ordinating in the office. Co-ordination, as we know, needs delicate and diplomatic steering; while operation needs practical planning, on-the-spot action and expertise in its direction. The superimposing of plans and methods or ideas from outside or from any point of distance are never welcomed at local level. The idea that co-ordination or organisation is being introduced from outside can easily destroy any incipient local project.
A great many who work in the field of voluntary service have for a long time felt that the two, co-ordination and organisation, should never be undertaken by the same body; and I believe that the preoccupation of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, in "not enough being done quickly enough" could be helped very much indeed if this basic principle could be considered and accepted. A great number of problems remain, of course, especially in the two-way lack of information between young people anxious to help and the statutory bodies who need help and do not know how to find it.
I cannot understand why everyone seems to reiterate that the local authorities should supply opportunities. In my experience—and I am sure in the experience of all noble Lords—opportunities have to be glimpsed and seized and not staged through a series of local authority committees at a distance of at least a month each, with the result that the 484 opportunity has been lost before it has really been seized. Local authorities and central Government will, to my mind, make a great stride forward if they can find a team of really dedicated, expert people to go out to the local bodies to advise, to help cut red tape and to clear the way. I am not ashamed to say that I am an optimist. I believe in the young people of the country and I pray that this debate may help towards keeping voluntary work as a contribution to the character of the nation.
§ 7.6 p.m.
§ LORD RITCHIE-CALDER
My Lords, in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Robertson, for providing an opportunity for this debate, I want to apologise to him and to others who will be following if I have to leave, as I must, to keep another appointment. We are grateful for this opportunity, and, indeed, as has been emphasised throughout, what we are really discussing to-day is, in fact, the gulf between the two generations. The noble Lord, Lord Butler, pleaded that there should be no war between the two generations; but I can assure your Lordships that we are in a state of armed neutrality. To me this is a matter of much greater concern than the gulf between the two cultures, about which my noble friend Lord Snow had written so eloquently: that is, between those in the humanities who regard scientists as illiterate and the scientists who regard those in the humanities as innumerate.
There is, unquestionably, between the two generations a gulf of perplexity. It is perfectly understandable and very difficult to resolve. I suggest that it is implicit in much of what the noble Lord, Lord Feversham, has said but also in what I make no apology for reiterating, that we are dealing with a unique generation. As I have said before in your Lordships' House, each and every one of them, here and everywhere in the world, has in his or her bones radiostrontium, a man-made by-product of atomic energy which did not exist before July 16, 1945. Medically it may be unimportant, but it would not have been if the bombing tests had gone on. It is minimal but very symbolic. It is the brandmark of a generation who were born into the atomic age, had their birth certificates registered by computer and whose Zodiacal sign was "Sputnik". This is a generation into which three great 485 epochs in a lifetime of 20 to 22 years have been compressed: the atomic age, the cybernetic age and the space age. Every one of them—even the most stupid in some ways—accepts these changes which even the best-informed of their elders are still grappling with in bewilderment. To children playing in their toy space suits "g" became not a rocking horse but the gravitational pull of the earth; and my grandson, at the age of 5, was lisping in "mach numbers".
I doubt whether this generation is unduly impressed by the feats of the astronauts because they have not yet overtaken Dan Dare. None of them is impressed by speeds of 17,500 miles an hour. But we are talking about a generation which recognises what some of us ourselves do not fully recognise: that this is indeed a very small world, a tiny neighbourhood, a world around which, on Sir Bernard Lovell's latest count, 750 man-made satellites are now gyrating 16 times a day, a world in which no place is inaccessible and where "pop" music, whether we like it or not, has produced a strident solidarity of youth everywhere. Do not let us underestimate that.
My Lords, I do not find anything but encouragement in all this for the future, but it does and must produce a discordancy in the present, because the generation which is still running the world is not on the same wavelength Our communications with the younger generation are scrambled; we do not think in the same idiom. I do not mean merely vocabulary, I do not mean "square" and "cool" and "grooved" and "flower power". I mean the semantics of rapid change which they completely accept. I have had a great deal to do with young people all over the world and particularly in this country. I have spoken in my time to tens of thousands. I have marched with them, as has my noble friend Lord Soper, from Aldermaston. I have been inspired by them in the Council for Education in World Citizenship. I have seen them in action as volunteers overseas and in work camps. Without being mawkish, I would say that I sit at the feet of my own children and listen to them with respect when they talk about the problems of their world. I am an upside-down guru who has let his own students teach him.
486 I sympathise with them and I agonise with them. Generalisations are always dangerous, but I would say that the tragedy of the young people in the 1950s was that they did not believe they had a future: the bomb was going to put paid to all that. I want to emphasise what was said by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor about that. To-day I hope and believe that they are "over the hump", and they think there is a future. But they do not like the future which they see. They are not cynics, they are frustrated idealists—every one of them. They are confused, but only because their world is confused. They are adventurous, but they want adventure with a purpose. They belong to the age group, let us remember, from which 28 years ago, came "the few "who did so much for so many; but we have not yet offered them a moral alternative to war.
This, my Lords, I insist, is the most maligned generation in history. We put Gestapo-like klieg lights on there; we psycho-analyse them; we Gallup-Poll them and expose them on television. We slander a whole generation by concentrating on the outrageous behaviour of a very small minority. We treat them all as juvenile delinquents. We deplore the freedom which we have given them. We regret our permissiveness, when anyone who has had any experience of them knows that behind the bravado they want understanding and guidance: not leadership, in the old sense of regimenting, but, as the noble Baroness, Lady Swan-borough, has just said, the insight and sense to know that they are in fact doing things for themselves.
I speak with a great deal of conviction from my own experience. I have been a professor in a university which recently had world-wide publicity as a place of "pop" and "pills". Nothing could better demonstrate my contentions here. The Rector, or the late Rector, Malcolm Muggeridge, taking advantage of the pulpit of St. Giles, slandered a body of 8,000 students. He melodramatically resigned as Rector on a pretext which, even on the facts he produced, was not justified. I do not want to expand on what is required of a Rector, I would merely say how utterly, utterly, out of touch with his students he was. My experience is entirely contrary to what he professed, and utterly belies his generalisations.
487 My Lords, I am Chairman of the Council of the Edinburgh University Settlement. Your Lordships will be familiar with the settlement principle, which is essentially student involvement in the community life of the town around. Our settlement works with youth groups in the town and with what some would regard as potential delinquents; with patients discharged from mental hospitals; with the down-and-outs and with the aged. I would say that we deal with the "tall-outs" of the Welfare State. In this university settlement at Edinburgh we have on stand-by 500 or 600 students available to go into places where other people will not go, where even tradesmen will not go. They go in and clean out derelict homes and the like, and they work with people with whom others would not be prepared to work, even if we paid them to do so.
In connection with our work in the University we have an International Service Centre. Every day we have students coming there wanting and seeking service overseas. There is nothing wrong with the young generation, and particularly there is nothing wrong with the student generation in the University of Edinburgh. What is lacking is what has been emphasised here so repeatedly to-day. We lack the means by which we can give them the opportunity to do the things they want to do. We lack the opportunity to give them adventure with a purpose.
I agree with the noble Baroness that in fact the jobs we try to impose on them are not necessarily, because of their monotony, what they want. But they are prepared to do a stint if it will lead to something they do want. In the same way it has been said, rather wisely, that perhaps we ought to make voluntary service overseas a reward for the dedicated service they could give in community service here. I believe there is something in that. Meanwhile, for goodness' sake! let us increase the opportunities overseas at the same time as we try to work out in this country some means by which we can direct what I believe to be their absolute, genuine idealism and their determination to be idealistic, until we make them cynics. If we can provide them with the opportunities we shall be doing something, as 488 has been emphasised in this debate, for the country and something which will in fact be our greatest possible asset. This is the biggest investment we are making—our living generation, our new generation, and it is a generation of whom we can without any reservation be quite and unmistakably proud.
I honestly believe that in their inside feeling, and indeed in the expansion of their vision to the world, the youngsters of to-day are a generation more in line, more sympathetic, certainly to the problems of other people, than any generation which has ever existed in history. We must do something about that. I cannot entirely follow the noble Earl, Lord Arran. I do so rather in the spirit of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Norwich. This is not a new idea, if I may say so. It is an idea which has been running for a long time, and here I give him his point. Hundreds and hundreds of young people, mostly students, have come to me and said, "Why do we not have a new form of national service?" I am all for a new form of national service. I believe that by what I would call "citizen cadets", we could be preparing people for life. That is indeed an extension of our education. I stop short at conscription, but not because I have profound reservations. I have seen this working in Israel where, beyond the "square bashing", every young person who has been conscripted can opt to do part of that service in other ways. That is how the great development work—or, at any rate, a considerable part of it—of desert recovery in Israel has been possible. So I am not hesitating about words.
What I am hesitating about is how we can produce the machinery for doing it. I am not giving people the excuse to get out of the idea; I am saying that before we can produce, or even expect to impose (if that is the word) compulsory service, we must have the means to absorb. The great weakness to-day is not, I assure your Lordships, a shortage of volunteers. We cannot absorb, we cannot use, what we have. If we went out and recruited more of them, we should be in even greater difficulties. What we need is a systematic expansion of new ideas consistent with their own, not something like cleaning up the back shop, but things that they want to do. If 489 we are to have national service in a total sense, we have to create beforehand the means by which we can exercise this service.
THE EARL OF ARRAN
My Lords, do I take it that the noble Lord is not against the conception of national service, but is pointing out that the physical facilities are not available?
§ LORD RITCHIE-CALDER
I am certainly not against the conception of such a service. I have tried to promote this in international terms. I am not against it. Whether or not we apply the word "compulsory" is mere quibbling, because the stage comes when because enough people are doing it, we must ask everyone to do it. At the moment, what we have to do is to create the means by which we get on to the wavelength of this generation and create new, imaginative, adventurous organisations entirely consistent with social and humanitarian service all over the world.
§ 7.22 p.m.
My Lords, in view of the number of speakers this evening and the wealth of knowledge and experience which has been brought to bear, I shall omit much of what I had originally planned to say. I shall also try to resist the temptation to link my thoughts with what other noble Lords have said because this would occupy too much time. Therefore, with your Lordships' permission, I shall confine myself to recording one or two experiences that I have had while working with young men, mostly in their late teens and early twenties, and try briefly to draw one or two conclusions therefrom.
I feel that I must apologise in advance because what I am going to say will be on a much lower level than the erudite contributions which we have heard so far. My limited field of experience is the Territorial Army, and to a smaller extent the Army Cadet Force. At this stage, perhaps it would be proper for me to declare my interest. I am still a serving officer in A.V.R.3, and I have the honour to command the North Irish Force, which has centres in Belfast and Londonderry. My personal interest therefore is considerable, though my financial interest has not been so strong since April 1 of last year. That, as your Lordships may recall, was the date on 490 which a major reorganisation of the Reserve Army took effect. Those who were serving at the time will have unhappy memories of the long and damaging period of uncertainty which preceded the final announcement as to how this reorganisation was going to take place. When eventually firm plans were announced, I think that there was a general sigh of relief, not because units were pleased about the restrictions and reductions which were imposed on them, but because at last the uncertainty was ended—or so it seemed at the time.
From this moment on there was a magnificent response from all ranks. I must say that it exceeded anything that I had anticipated in my most optimistic moments. It would have been very easy for those who had already two or three years' service in the Territorial Army to have grumbled a certain amount, to have said, "Things are not what they used to be. It isn't like the old days", and discouraged the younger, newer members thereby. They did not do that. They regarded this as a challenge which must be met. They were determined tint the new circumstances were not going in any way to interfere with the proper functioning of the regiment.
I would just briefly quote three examples. One is of a lance-corporal who is a crane operator in a Belfast shipyard. By the nature of his work he customarily earns quite a high wage. By attending the annual eight-day camp last September he lost some £16. I need hardly remind your Lordships that £16 is not an entirely negligible sum of money to a weekly wage earner. I commiserated with him. He said, "It can't be helped. It is worth it for the sake of the regiment." There is also the heavy transport driver who unfortunately lives some 14 miles from the Territorial Army centre. He does not possess a car, and there is no suitable public transport service. But he is an extremely regular attender. He does the 28 miles round trip on his motor-assisted pedal cycle in all weathers. He is, I may say, one of the most remarkable people I have ever met—he actually enjoys cookhouse fatigues.
The third example I would quote is of a young company director in a small family firm in a highly competitive line 491 of business. He is a commander of my flying centre. At April 1 last year he found that the permanent staff instructor whom he had been promised did not materialise for various reasons. Instead of sitting back and saying, "It isn't my fault if I can't send out letters, keep documentation up to date and check stores. It isn't my fault if I am not given the staff to which I am entitled." He did not even ring me up to ask what he was going to do about it. He promptly took it as his problem and that it was his job to solve it. And solve it he did. Without hesitation he swung in the resources of his small company office. He took time off, not only spare time but also time off his own work, and did jobs which normally would be done by a corporal clerk or corporal storeman.
These are but a few examples, but they are typical of what has happened in the Territorial Army. The interesting thing is that as a result of the recognition that these difficulties have been met and overcome, morale is higher than I can ever remember it. This again has resulted in a steady increase in recruiting and an even more marked increase in regular attendances.
From the remarks which I have just made, it may be inferred that I have a fairly high opinion of the young people and indeed of some of the more mature people, with whom I have had the privilege of working in the Territorial Army. I am aware, of course, that the comment is frequently made that it is easy for Territorial Army officers to look at the youth of to-day through rose-tinted spectacles. The comment is made that the type of person who joins the Territorial Army is different from the average run of youth. They are people who are "clubbable" (a word already used this afternoon), who tend to do something constructive in their spare time, if not in the Territorial Army then elsewhere. I agree that there is probably a certain amount of truth in this, but I do not go along with it all the way by any means. In my limited experience, the sort of people who join the Territorial Army are typical, not untypical. They certainly look quite typical when they come up on their first evening to sign on, in their civilian clothes and particular hair styles. 492 They certainly react in a very typical manner. Frequently I ask them, may be four, six or eight weeks after they have joined, what prompted them to join, and often they say: "I knew nothing about it before, but I have a few friends in the regiment, and they advised me to come". I then ask them: "Now that you have been here for a few weeks, what do you think about it?" The usual answer is—and I do not exaggerate—that they are delighted with it, because it gives them something interesting to do in their spare time: indeed, they frequently say that they wish there was more training, because they get tired of having to spend evenings knocking about the streets or watching television. I do not think that is an untypical reaction.
The conclusion I reach from my modest experience of young people is that, provided they have confidence in their leadership and they are convinced that what they are being asked to do is really worth while, as opposed to being something just to keep them busy, they have an almost unlimited capacity to accept challenge, to shoulder responsibilities, to overcome difficulties and to give that quality of loyal and unselfish service which can move mountains. At the same time, they are not stupid. I suppose it is almost traditional that the younger generation look on the older generation as being rather more stupid than it really is; and indeed this may well be the healthy outlook. But I think it is inexcusable for the older generation to think that the younger generation is more stupid than it is. They are not a bit stupid—and I was once young myself. I think they are very penetrating, and particularly so in their recognition of any suspicion of humbug, hypocrisy, insincerity, half-truths, pulling the wool over their eyes, or anything like that.
THE EARL OF ARRAN
With respect to the noble Lord, I should not have thought that the older generation regarded the younger generation as stupid. I do not know whether other noble Lords would agree with me about that.
I was not looking on the noble Earl as being a member of the older generation. I am afraid, however, that in my experience there have been occasional instances of the genuine 493 older generation revealing what I might call this slight failing. I none the less feel that our youth are extremely penetrating; and it is very easy for disillusionment to creep in unless complete integrity is maintained in one's dealings with them.
Here is the problem with which my colleagues and I in the Territorial Army are faced at the moment. Just about a year ago we were telling our members that now at last we knew what the form was, and we knew where we stood. We were in a position to make plans, to explain to our members what we were going to do and why we were going to do it. In the light of the Government's announcement just over a month ago, what can we say to them now? If when the new announcement is made, which we expect at about the beginning of next month, we tell them what we are planning, will they believe us this time? I think it will be difficult for me to do anything other than to apologise to them.
To sum up, the excellent qualities of youth, to which reference has been made this afternoon, are there. I am certain of this. These qualities, if properly exploited, can be worth more to our country than all the gold in Fort Knox or all the missiles in Russia. Various noble Lords have suggested excellent ways in which such qualities could be brought out and developed. For myself, I would humbly suggest that the Territorial Army is hard to beat. It provides many of the opportunities for service which have been mentioned—involvement, sense of community and mutual responsibility. Furthermore, I would suggest that it is extremely good value for money. But of one thing I am certain, and that is that the best way to dissipate and suppress these qualities is to reward enterprise, loyalty and service with a kick in the teeth. I do not intend to sound bitter about this; I merely intend to emphasise as forcefully as I can that here, I think, is a moral which relates to our entire attitude towards youth.
§ 7.35 p.m.
My Lords, I should like first to express my gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie-Calder, for asking to change places with me in the running order, because I have now had the benefit of his very stabilising speech, and also that of the noble Lord, 494 Lord Dunleath. I should like also to thank the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, for initiating this debate, and, with humble sincerity, to thank the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, for his very thoughtful and thought-provoking speech. I was especially interested in what he said about states of mind. The noble Lord, Lord Dunleath, used the expression "younger generation" rather than "youth". For one thing the word "youth" seems to have a very male colour, and "younger generation" gives that age group a wider meaning.
If this is not a diversion—and I do not intend to speak for long—I would recall a passage in Disraeli's Sybil or The two Nations, where he is talking in a very fascinating paragraph or two about the suppressed characters of English history, one of which he says was Lord Shelburne, who gave way as Prime Minister to the younger Pitt—as le says "the marvellous boy". Disraeli says:Why Lord Shelburne on that occasion was set aside will perhaps always remain a mysterious passage of our English history.… Perhaps the Monarch, with a sense of the rising sympathies of his people, was prescient of the magic power of youth in touching the heart of a nation.I feel very strongly (and this has been stressed by several noble Lords) that we should not make artificial divides, to use a theological metaphor, between one age group and another. One can be much too self-conscious talking to the young, as one can be too self-conscious talking about the older. Only in words can one accurately use a phrase like "the youth of the nation". I think the cliché that one is as old as one feels is perfectly true. In terms of my own sons, as I am, I suppose, one of the younger parents t) have a son of 27 (I have three sons), I would stress the extreme unity between us as compared with my relationship with my father, who was much older and much more inclined to give me small lectures, even on the state of the Labour Party, when I was 12 years old. I feel that, though I may have ridden the situation with my children on rather too loose a rein, this is the right line, even down to points like the length of hair, which has been mentioned by other noble Lords this afternoon. I think this is a symbolic point. It is not an aim at a style, but almost an aim at "Continuity is our right". It is true, I believe, that the 495 majority of generations have worn their hair much longer, and this may be a hunger for a link with the past.
I disagree with the idea that clothing makes it hard to distinguish whether a person is a male or female. As it happens, I did have contact for a little while last year with a member of a fairly famous beat group, and I was astonished that on the record player, as well as, say, playing a disc of his own, he would come up with a Bach prelude and fugue, or a Sibelius, on all of which he was equally keen. I feel that one has a lot to learn from the younger generation. I managed to go through my schooling without learning one single hour of science. I therefore have to find out from my children even what water is made of.
I think the point that is uppermost in my mind is this non-stressing of youth as a group. The noble Earl, Lord Arran, asked us to comment on his suggestion about one year's non-military service. I agree with him in principle, but again it emphasises youth qua youth. One may be much older and still feel in the same spirit. I very much appreciate the overseas service point. I did, in fact, as I was no good at cricket, go to work for the Grenfell Mission in the last summer term, instead of staying at home; and this did me a lot of good. I also, again, by the luck of my father supporting the expense, spent a year, immediately after being in university, on a New Zealand sheep farm; and I realised that these were ultra-privileges, which is not what we are mainly talking about, and will not appear again.
I feel that this debate has very strongly and rightly stressed our understanding for the younger generation. As I was saying, I felt almost equally unsettled by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Feversham, which I am sure is not typical in its cynicism of the younger generation, and the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Soper—whose speeches do not usually unsettle me—which rather attacked the whole idea of "beat" groups and that form of self-expression—possibly that form of showmanship. I would finally quote something, which I think is true and from which we could all learn, from a poem of Longfellow:The boy's will is the wind's willAnd the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.
§ 7.42 p.m.
§ LORD BALERNO
My Lords, I hope that the noble Lord will forgive me if I do not follow his line, but time is going on and there is one point that I wish to make regarding the Scottish problem. In Scotland we are particularly suited for adventure training, and we have over the years evolved certain adventure training centres. They might almost be said to originate with the Highland Field Craft Training Centre, which the noble Lord, Lord Rowallan, started for the Army during the war; and the Moray Sea School, which was Kurt Hahn's child, from Gordonstoun, has been backed up by the Dulverton Trust; and Lochiel Centre which is making good progress. Those are what one might call the voluntary centres. The State centres are the Scottish Council of Physical Recreation, at Glenmore Lodge, in Aviemore, and there are now others run by local authorities, such as the Edinburgh education authority. One of these is in Argyllshire by Ben More. These centres are doing an extremely good piece of work, and they are "fed" by the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, working very largely through the voluntary youth organisations, and also, of course, through the schools.
The point I want to make is that there is difficulty in filling all these places for adventure training. In some cases the cost is of the order of £50 or so, but finance is not always the main factor. It is rather, to a certain extent, lack of applicants. I wish to draw your Lordships' attention to this point for fear that we become too complacent. My own view—and I thoroughly endorse what other noble Lords have said—is that the good of the younger generation is probably better than ever before, and the opportunities they have been given for training in adventure are probably greater than in any generation before. But I feel that there is a danger of complacency because the good is so very much better than it has ever been, and it seems to me that we must pay some more attention than perhaps we have done so far in this debate to what one might call the disillusioned youth.
A mild attack of disillusion leads merely to young persons' seeking safety in life, playing for safety, leading a quiet life, and so on. But a bad attack of 497 disillusion gives us some extraordinary results in our society. I believe that we ought to pay rather more attention to the causes of their disillusion. After all, if you are disillusioned, you must have some illusion to be disillusioned of. What are the wrong illusions that this particular type of youth had that has made them so sick of society? Some of them have been brought up certainly with the illusion of easy wealth, and when they find that it does not come to them as easily as it comes to some of their contemporaries, they become disillusioned and sink down. Others have the illusion of the Welfare State, and that the world owes them a living, rather than that they owe something to the world. All the remarks that have been made by so many speakers in this House to-day, emphasising the need in particular for service, reinforce this particular point.
The noble Lord, Lord Hunt, gave a list of what one might call antidotes on this point, and I hope that attention will be paid to the remarks that he made in this connection. Those are the only points that I wish to make. I will not delay your Lordships further, except to add to those of other noble Lords my grateful thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Robertson, for giving us an opportunity to bring these points forward at this time. And I would emphasise the importance of this particular problem, especially in relation to the voluntary organisations.
§ 7.48 p.m.
§ BARONESS HYLTON-FOSTER
My Lords, may I join with other noble Lords in thanking Lord Robertson for bringing this Motion forward to-day? Then, may I put it to your Lordships that this comprehensive policy for youth really has two sides? There is the need to provide, first of all, better opportunities for young people to have outdoor activities, and secondly, there is the chance for young people to give some kind of community service. Neither, in my view, should be considered separately. Fun should be mixed with work and service, and I think that young people living in towns should be encouraged to pit their wits against nature, whether it be on land or sea or in the air.
I want to say a few words about community service and the need for some preparation or training. There are already a large number of organizations 498 in the field, and I suggest it would be wiser, before starting on some new idea, to use their services and their administrative experience to find out what is really needed and how to fit young people for the job. Some new organisation, or some new co-ordinating body, may well be necessary, but many of the existing voluntary organisations, I feel sure, could do a much better job if they were helped by some of this money which the Government now have to spend—if they could be helped financially and if they could also benefit from some free publicity, because most voluntary organisations, in fact I believe all real voluntary organisations, do not spend their money on publicity, because they simply cannot afford it. They spend it on getting the job done. Surely this is the moment for the Government to stimulate the existing well-tried voluntary organisations, organised by people with experience, before they start spending this precious money administering and publicising a new scheme which may well tread on the toes of those already in the field.
May I now say a word about training or preparation, because for most forms of service some training or preparation is an advantage and there are only limited jobs where people with absolutely no training can be used safely? May I give just one or two examples? I suppose at this stage I should declare an interest. because I have been concerned all my life with a number of organisations, and chiefly with those which have forms of training as the basis of their work. I refer to the Girl Guides, for a start. I was a pre-nuclear Girl Guide, and I took great pride as very nearly a Guide, but in fact still as a Brownie, in taking part in the 1918 Victory celebrations and marching around with all the others. In those days we were all proud to belong to some organisation like the Guides.
When I grew up, and after the war, I joined the Red Cross, whose peace-time purpose, as your Lordships will know, is the training of all age groups (not only the young) of the general public in both community service and welfare work, or whatever one likes to call it. I will not weary your Lordships with many examples, but it is obvious that when very young people are involved it is splendid if they are willing to do the job, and they should be allowed to do it, but it 499 is very much better for the handicapped person, if it is a handicapped person that is being helped, and for the young person if that young person knows a little about it beforehand. All sorts of unexpected things can happen, for instance, in getting handicapped persons in and out of chairs or cars. Even a little preparation and knowledge makes it much nicer for the handicapped or the old person.
Also, in regard to visiting in the homes, I know it has been said that young people do not like continuity of service, and that they get bored. I sympathise with that. But, on the other hand, somebody else must do it if they do not, because the old person (if it is an old person that they are visiting) expects them. An example of the problems which can arise is the old person who takes a long time to write a letter, writes it and then says, "That's fine; my young person is coming to visit me to-day. I will give it to him to post". Then something crops up and the young person does not visit, and the old person is left with the letter until, possibly a couple of days later, somebody else chances to go in. This really matters. It touches the heart of the young person when he or she is told about it afterwards; but that is all part of what I call "preparation". There are also more exciting things, such as handing out drugs when people are not capable of dealing with them themselves, but this again needs a certain amount of training, and the hospitals now are asking organisations to give training to those young people who volunteer to do the work—not in the wards but elsewhere, because hospitals cannot use them in the wards unless they have had some basic training, or at least have some knowledge of hospital matters.
One has to realise that a community service is very much a two-way affair. One cannot look at it only as something for the young person to do: one has to look at it also from the point of view of the receiver at the other end. It is not just something to occupy the young. The noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, said that we must stop this age war, and I am sure your Lordships will have read recently in The Times a series of articles entitled "What Britain Needs". One was by the Director of Shelter, and I should like to quote a short passage from it. He wrote: 500This barrier of suspicion and fear that lies between the generations must be broken down by debate and by rational concessions to each other's strengths.Youth should give credit to experience, admitting that man can still walk without crutches at 50 and that the ideal in any society is a balance between generations and just sufficient tension to bring the best out of both.I think there is a lot of sense in that.
I was particularly interested recently at a weekend living-in conference where we had all age groups, and one of the young ones during a discussion said, "Don't treat us as an isolated group. We do not want that. We want to be treated as one of the family, as you would in a family". That brings me to the root of the problem, and I must emphasise how profoundly I disagree with the professor who gave the last Reith lectures, when he said that the family counted for nothing. I am sure that much basic, common-sense training starts within the family, and with their co-operation, interest and hacking it should be possible to create opportunities for young people to play their part in local enterprises and community service.
I would emphasise the word "local", as other noble Lords have done—local to start with, because this fosters local interest and pride and gives them a feeling of belonging and being responsible to a community, who should, in their turn, encourage them to have the guts to think that a bit of preparation and training for some sort of service is the sensible thing to do. Finally, I go back to where I began, and stress the need to link recreation and fun with service, because one must ensure that both are equally enjoyed.
§ 7.57 p.m.
§ LORD HILTON OF UPTON
My Lords, I think this might be a convenient moment to adjourn for dinner. Therefore, I suggest that this House do now adjourn until 8.30 p.m.
§ [The Sitting was adjourned at 7.58 p.m. and resumed at 8.30 p.m.]
§ LORD HIRSHFIELD
My Lords, I think we can all agree that the most important responsibility which society has towards its youth lies in providing an educational system which matches the needs and aspirations of youth. Education 501 and the educational system are considerable subjects. They have obvious relevance to this debate, and some noble Lords have referred to education during their contributions to-day, but if education is to have thorough attention it really belongs to another occasion. Our debate has already covered a wide field, both in specific factors connected with youth and youth service and in the general sense. As has been said, it is abundantly evident how highly your Lordships' House rates the importance of a debate on policy towards youth from the long list of speakers and the eloquence of their contributions. I suppose at this hour of the evening only very limited contributions from the last third of over thirty speakers would be most welcome to your Lordships, and I shall try to oblige by omitting several of the things I had intended to say. Indeed, a number of them have already been very adequately covered by other noble Lords.
There is one aspect which is vital in to-day's debate, and that is the future for youth as we proceed into the technological era. However, before proceeding I am persuaded to tell your Lordships, in view of the Lord Chancellor's fleeting reference to "pot", that my telegraphic address happens to be "Ellessdee", which it has been for at least twenty years, but that does not mean that I exercise a sinister influence on youth or supply anything but service. Now with decimalisation of sterling approaching, and foreign friends, Americans particularly, thinking I might be a source of supply for the wrong kind of LSD, I must consider change. And the word "change" is, of course, something that leads one back to technology and automation.
My Lords, in examining the question of harnessing the resources of youth we should bear two or three things in mind. First, there is a crucial period in the late teens when idealism has not given place to cynicism, and when there is a deep response to demands. It is at this point that encouragement and facilities for raising the sights instead of thinking second best must be provided. Otherwise the inherent desire to serve and be used gives place to selfishness. Secondly, this can be achieved only by providing an example from the top, and also by freeing younger people to run their own show in their own way and to develop ideas that 502 may not concur with those of the elder generation. Thirdly, behind the apparent aimlessness to-day is a deep searching, a belief that material possessions are not in themselves a need, a deeper recognition of total responsibility, so that no man is an island, whether he is a Vietnamese or an Englishman, and a questioning of earlier standards which seem to have got us into such a mess. There is also, I believe, a deep honesty of thought, however distasteful some of its manifestations may seem to be.
In looking for ways of helping younger people, we should ask not what more we can do for them but what they can do in their own way for others. The Peace Corps, especially, directed at our internal problems, is one outlet, Voluntary Service Overseas on a much bigger scale is another, and I will not say more about those organisations because we have heard all about them already to-day. This, is a single world made so by global communications, and we shall not survive if we do not share our fortune at well as our misfortune, our brains and potentials, as well as our problems and lack of opportunity. Specifically I should think that Government has to provide an environment in which youth can play its part. It must do so by providing the type of education and facilities that are suitable to this age. It must allow youth to share the responsibility of accelerated change, to shape the new world in which they must live, and above all to have total responsibility, and not just under tutelage, for areas that are given to them to explore.
It is apt in this debate for me to say something on the subject of automation and rapid technological change, particularly in view of the activities of the Foundation on Automation and Employment which was formed by me some five years ago, with the able co-operation and support of several prominent Members of your Lordships' House, and the active assistance of a number of other well-known leaders from the management and labour sectors of the automation and electronics industry. The Foundation on Automation and Employment is a nonprofit-making body financed by voluntary contributions to promote sociological studies into the human impact of rapid change and the ways and means of 503 ensuring technological progress. Someone has described automation as the thick end of the wedge. The thin end is when they begin to replace humans at work; the thick end is when they begin to replace work. We are experiencing the thin end to-day, but the thick end will be with us in some degree within a generation. The time has therefore already come to consider the changes which those who are now at school will experience and, indeed, steer.
During a recent address to headmasters and careers masters concerned with preparing the generation now at school for the impact of technological change, Mr. John Hargreaves, Director of Public Affairs at I.B.M. (United Kingdom) Limited, said:To fit people for the 1970s will require a new pattern of education. The concept that education continues up to a certain point in one's life, after which formal education ceases, is inappropriate if people are to be trained for a world of change. Education must be a continuing process, and we must accept the philosophy that the man who ceases to learn begins to die. We can expect people to undergo regular periods of formal education throughout their careers, and that provision will be made for this in the accounting year just as it is for paid vocations to-day.The subject matter of school and university training must be amended to give pupils a basic ability to learn and a broad general education, rather than a too early specialist training. This is because specialist knowledge changes, and if that particular knowledge becomes obsolete there is no broad base on which to fall back and relearn, and an individual's ground is cut from beneath his feet. This broad base should include the humanities as well as the sciences.
Mr. Hargreaves reminded his audience on that occasion that we live in a scientific age, and he emphasised that 90 per cent. of all scientists who ever lived are living to-day. Your Lordships will recall the tag, Ignorantia neminem excusat. But ignorance of science, like ignorance of the law, is no excuse. Mr. Hargreaves went on:Unless science is tempered and balanced by a thorough grounding in the humanities. the qualities that are needed for the exercise of leadership are lacking.To prepare for change, to inculcate an ability to learn rather than particular learning, to accept the concept of con- 504 tinning education, to use the correct combination of men and machines in the education of whole people—these are the tasks for contemporary education.
The preservation of a capacity to learn will help people in their working life. The attitude towards industrial training which entails learning a particular skill and then expecting the right to practise that skill for evermore belongs to a past age. We can expect people to be trained and retrained two and three times in the course of their careers. Estimates on both sides of the Atlantic suggest that 50 per cent. of the jobs that will be available in 1980 have not yet been invented. Mental elasticity is the price to be paid for continuity of work in a changing world and the assurance that redundancy of skills need not he accompanied by redundancy of people. The late Mr. Adlai Stevenson said that we live in an age of transition from the ancient problem of sharing scarcity to the modern problem of distributing abundance. But to realise to-day's potential means a departure from former thinking based on national concepts. We have a big task in preparing to-day's school-leavers to think in new dimensions and to embrace the world in their thinking.
There is a responsible part for industry to play in all this. Contrary to much that happened in the past, industry to-day is in the mainstream of the nation's life. Its managers require many of the qualities of national and international leaders. Business management is giving place to industrial statesmanship, and the impetus of a country's life stems largely from industry. There is a career and a responsibility for the best products from our schools and universities, and those who join industry with this in mind can find an outlet for their interests and the satisfaction and rewards commensurate with the important work they have to do.
If the demand for annually rising living standards is to be met, three conditions must be fulfilled: first, technological progress must be rapid; secondly, its potential repercussions on the education of the rising generation, on retraining and employment, must be studied ahead of time so that social and economic changes can be made with the least 505 friction; thirdly, teenagers must be enabled to understand the social needs of technological progress and the personal implications for them, and to feel a sense of participation in responsibility.
The Foundation of which I spoke earlier is therefore planning to sponsor a project which should help to get some initial notions about technology and automation over to teenagers of school-leaving age and in the first year of their apprenticeship—that is, in transition between school and industry. One suggestion now being explored by the Foundation is that a practical way of arousing the interest of young people would be, if possible, to translate these abstract ideas into visual media, models and apparatus, probably accompanied by a textbook on their use, addressed to both teachers and students. A possible scheme outside the Foundation's ability which should be examined favourably and quickly is the production for certain schools and colleges of specially designed mini-computers capable of only a limited performance and made available at low cost.
I would conclude this contribution to your Lordships' debate with the words of Kuan-tzu in the 3rd century B.C.:When planning for a year—sow corn.When planning for a decade—plant trees.When planning for life—train and educate men.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ LORD CRAWSHAW
My Lords, may I start, as others have done, by expressing my appreciation to the noble Lord, Lord Robertson, for initiating this debate, and indeed for his kind personal suggestion that I should say something during it. It may be over-simplifying the matter, but I think that youth's public life might be divided into three parts, and it is these three parts which I think should be linked with a more comprehensive policy. First, there are the schools and the education of these young people; secondly, their impending careers and working life; and thirdly, the Youth Service and the voluntary organisations. I want to leave out the question of schools and education because others know much more about it than I do. I simply say, in passing, that I am glad that nowadays schools seem to teach subjects more relevant to the 20th century than they did 506 when I was there. As perhaps do many of your Lordships, I feel quite weak when I remember all the blood and sweat involved in poring over Greek iambics and such-like, and pondering what benefit they could possibly be in the work I was to do later on.
The Youth Service can, and should, link the schools with the outside world. There is a feeling that it narrows young people's outlook if everything they do up to a certain age goes on at school. It is helpful to them in the so-called awkward period of adjustment if they mix with people with no connection with school, who are not their parents and who can open up entirely new and separate aspects of life.
I know it was recommended by the Albemarle Committee that the Youth Service should help the young people prepare for every aspect of life. It is with this in mind that 11 shall concentrate this evening on the Youth Service, and especially the Scout Movement. A few years ago I should have felt myself more or less in complete agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Feversham, whose speech I enjoyed, but now I am not so sure. In my case, to a large extent I think this is due to my noble friend Lord Rowallan, who is here this evening and who appointed me one of his Commissioners in the Scout Movement.
I want to commend this Movement to your Lordships. I know you are all fairly familiar with it. I feel a little nervous in doing so, sitting next to the noble Lord, Lord Rowallan, who is a much greater authority than I, but I want to commend it to you, particularly now that we have established a new and fresh outlook with the Advance-Party Report. Tying knots is only a small part of the training; but in this connection I remember happily being taught to tie my knots by the father of the noble Lord who will reply to this debate who, with great ingenuity, as the noble Lord will remember, tied innumerable knots with one hand. I can remember that quite clearly. I am sure that the noble Lord who is to reply is himself quite familiar with the Scout Movement and all that is being done.
The Scout Headquarters is taking a great interest in this debate. I and my noble friend Lord Aylesford have been 507 consulting them about it, and I know they are most interested to hear what emerges. I do not want to bore your Lordships with a long history of the Scout Movement because, particularly in the presence of the noble Lord, Lord Rowallan, I do not think it necessary. But it might be as well to remind your Lordships that there are now in the United Kingdom half-a-million scouts and half as many guides. One in nine boys between the ages of 8 and 18 is a scout. There are 10½ million scouts in the world, and there are ten times as many scouts in the United States as the Americans have troops in Vietnam. All this has grown up from Lord Baden-Powell and the 20 boys who camped at Brownsea Island in August, 1907. The aim is to encourage physical, mental and spiritual development of young people, and the ideal is to include boys of every country, class and creed and handicapped boys. I want to commend to your Lordships the great value of the unpaid volunteers, the leaders in the Scout movement who are backed by a hard core of professionals. This is particularly important at this time, when obviously we are not in a position to spend more than is absolutely necessary on the Youth Service, and when a great deal is being done voluntarily.
The movement was started principally as a service for youth when there was a crying need for this. We feel that it is still important to show young people how to get as much as possible out of life, how to enjoy it to the full, and how to help them to make good adults of tomorrow. But those familiar with Scouts also recognise the words, "To help other people at all times". Service to the community has always been part of the training programme. There are many examples of this, and many go un-recognised. But one thinks of the service in two world wars, in fire watching, stretcher bearing, salvage collection, coast guarding and so on. One thinks more recently of the Cub and Scouts collection of silver paper to buy guide dogs for the blind and the Rovers' help to old people. Even this year the Glenshee first-aid teams helped in the winter sports in Scotland there were conservation projects in Surrey, the Red-seal Inland Waters Rescue Unit on Tyneside 508 evacuating villages on the River Wear. Then there is service overseas. There is a great call for our Scout leaders in South America, particularly in Peru, and the service is particularly stressed in the new training programme which I have already mentioned.
The noble Earl, Lord Arran, and others, feel that there is still too much untapped good will among our young people, and I recognise this would probably include the Scouts. I entirely sympathise with his constructive thoughts on tapping this good will. Of course we have the Community Service Volunteers, the school leavers, who do at least four months service, with food and accommodation arranged, and who have 30s. a week pocket money and work in all kinds of lobs among the old, the disabled, the mentally handicapped, in the approved schools and so on.
As for the noble Earl's suggestion about constructional jobs, I find this a little more complicated. I have had a little practical experience of it. During last summer we at home had to build a cowshed, and we invited four undergraduates from Oxford to come and assist us. Well, there was plenty of enthusiasm and a good deal of wisecracking; and one young man who came from Ruskin did cartoons of his fellow work people which were highly entertaining. But, of course, when it came to the actual work, they could not be expected to have, and did not have, any particular skill; and there is no doubt that there is a tremendous amount of skill needed in any form of constructional work. I think that in following the noble Earl's suggestion one would need to have a great deal of understanding supervision available.
THE EARL OF ARRAN
My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord would agree that demolition work, which I also mentioned, does not require so much expertise.
§ LORD CRAWSHAW
That may be true, my Lords, though I would say that there is a good deal of danger involved in that, and you have to know what you are about. Apart from that, I welcome the suggestion of the noble Earl, which I think ought to be thoroughly investigated. The noble Lord, Lord Robertson, asked for more co-ordination. First of 509 all, I think that we must have co-ordination of the Ministry Departments into one, which could then formulate the overall pattern and they could make full allowance for the varied contributions to the Youth Service of all the member agencies, and they could show how the pioneering spirit of the voluntary organisations can best be directed. The Scout Movement has unique methods and characteristics which it must maintain, partly because of their success, and partly because they are accepted the world over. I know that my noble friend Lord Rowallan would agree with me that we cannot alter them to any great degree, even if we wanted to do so. There must also he various organisations to cater for other tastes. Of course, there must be the "pop" groups, the drama groups, handicraft groups, sports clubs and so on, but all these should be complementary rather than uniform.
The age range of the Youth Service at present is 14 to 20. We feel that full recognition should be given, backed by grant aid, to the importance of groups below the age of 14. Schools alone cannot show these children every aspect of of the world outside, and it is known that this is an age when much antisocial behaviour starts. We in the Scouts value the work of the Cubs, who are between the ages of 8 and 11. They have quite phenomenal enthusiasm which should be directed; and if it is not directed in the right way, it will go the wrong way. We very much hope that recognition in the form of grant-aid will be brought to their assistance. Finally, if as a result of this debate we can establish a more comprehensive and efficient policy and an overall pattern, I am sure that the Scout Movement and other members of the Youth Service are only too ready to grasp it. Association, training and challenge is what the Youth Service is all about, and we should certainly welcome any chances to achieve these aims.
§ 8.58 p.m.
§ BARONESS BIRK
My Lords, may I add my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, on his interesting maiden speech. I should also like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Robertson, and the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, for giving us the opportunity for this enormous "talk-in", from which I hope some action will result. May I say, with respect, that in 510 listening to a great many speeches during this long afternoon and evening it sometimes seemed to me that speakers were talking about a strange species: not about people who would eventually perhaps grow into people like ourselves—or, we hope, better—but people whom we had to treat as though they were extraordinarily fragile. If Lord Robertson will forgive me for saying so, I felt that his remark that he was grateful to young people for talking to him was somewhat curious. I do not think he should be grateful. Why should they not talk to him? They are lucky to talk to him; and they should listen to him, as well. On the other hand, there was a sort of fear of young people—in the way that I imagine tobacco farmers might talk about Africans. The talk did not seem to be about girls and boys at all, but about something rather strange called "youth".
When I heard about this debate and decided to put down my name to speak, I thought it might be useful to find out what some of the young people themselves thought about it. I am not here referring to the organisers of the different youth services, groups and so on, however good the work they do may be (and it is extraordinarily good) but to the young people themselves. So with the help of my daughter, who works part-time at a youth club when she can, we got together a group of 20 young people who do social service from the club (she calls it a "social service within a social service") and asked them what they thought about this Motion. A boy of 18 said, "If the Government expect more young people to go into active youth service and take responsibility, then they must give us the vote at 18". Another boy of 18 said, "Anything that harnesses available latent talent of youth to-day can only do good". Another one immediately put in his point. He added, "Even by putting up posters in public lavatories". A girl of 15 put forward the view that, youth should be helped to understand that other people besides themselves have problems; and someone else pointed out that helping older people helps to fill the gap between the generations. Those all seem to be comments that any of us here would be proud to have our names put to, and they are not from a different species.
When I discussed with my daughter the club and the work they do, and asked 511 for her own view, she said that many of the young people are extremely good. To many the challenge is enormous, and the more difficult the task, the greater the challenge becomes. But then she added, "Many young people are lazy and selfish." So I said, Goodness! if I said that, what would you say?" To which she replied, "That is what you say to me, but it is different if I say it." And that is right. We seem to be scared to talk to the young people.
I think the girl who said that "Helping old people fills the gap" had her finger on something very important, because when we talk about the gap between the generations what we really mean is the gap between our children and ourselves. I refuse to use the term, "middle-aged": I just cannot bear it. I have "a thing about it", if it refers to me. But when it comes to the generation beyond, to the age of their grandparents, then children can feel a very much more relaxed relationship, and they are much better able to have a two-way system and can talk to the older people.
This gap between the generations is a very real one, and I believe that it is different from what it was before. There has always been a gap; it would have been unnatural if there had not been. But I think the difference is that in the old days young people (except for a few out-and-out rebels—who were probably sent to Australia, or somewhere) used to give adults the benefit of the doubt. They accepted a certain amount of authoritarian paternalism, but to-day they do not. It is the credibility gap between the generations which I believe is greater than it has ever been, and many young people see themselves as used, opposed, obstructed and controlled. The noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, said that we do not want to substitute an age war for a class war. But, my Lords, we have no choice; it is just there. It is not something we can say we will or will not accept. There is a jealousy between the generations to-day. Many young people who are school-leavers are earning more than their parents ever did at their age. On the other hand, the students, to whom the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor referred, are in the position of being dependent economically on their 512 parents, yet are "raring to go" when they are in their early twenties and many of their contemporaries are then earning.
Some of the motivation for the work which is being done by young people—and there is nothing wrong with this motivation—is one of protest. They are wanting to supply a need. They want to feel needed, and they want to belong. But they also want to change society, and I think they are quite right. We cannot have a static society and I do not think we have done particularly well by them in the last couple of generations. If they want to change it, and are doing it by means which seem strange to us, perhaps we should be questioning our values and ourselves, instead of questioning the young people. And certainly they are questioning themselves. There is for example, the Anti-University, Very well. Maybe there is a lunatic fringe attached to it now. But the basic idea is that of questioning.
Then young people are attempting far greater participation and are wanting to take more responsibility. When I was at the London School of Economics I was demonstrating in all sorts of ways, but it never occurred to me or to my contemporaries to take part in the running and the responsibility of the College, and I think that this is a magnificent move. The noble Lord, Lord Airedale, said that it was a good thing for them to air their grievances, but I think that is rather too negative an approach. They have something to contribute, and I do not think they should just be taken on sufferance. I agree that perhaps their demands go too far, but if you do not demand too much when you are young when will you? You will be a "fuddy-duddy" before you are 30.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Coventry referred to "unclubbable" and "unattached" people who join movements such as Nuclear Disarmament. Here I must declare an interest: I have been a unilaterist for years. I also demonstrated, when I was at school and college, in favour of all sorts of causes, but I never considered myself unclubbable, and I have never been unattached.
The noble Earl, Lord Arran, was kind enough to send me a letter about his plans, and I feel it only fair to answer him briefly. Frankly, I am worried about 513 the scheme. I think there are opportunities, both through the new Young Volunteer Force Foundation and through the existing schemes, such as Community Service Volunteers, which will cover what is wanted. I am also worried about the fact that the scheme would he on a purely physical basis, because young people want to give service and to do things in all sorts of different ways. Some want to use their brains, some their hands and some their feet. The noble Earl, talked about there being a need for discipline, but discipline is really a value judgment, and it depends what we mean by it in our society. Although he has great charm and is very articulate, I suspect that perhaps the noble Earl and I would not agree about discipline. Perhaps if he put forward something more specific I might find myself in favour, but at the moment I am not.
Young people rise to a crisis in the same way as older people do. There were the youngsters—and they were not by any means all Jewish—who volunteered to go to Israel during the six-days war, and the youngsters who wanted to go and help deal with the floods in Florence. They just do these things; they do not need anybody to push them. Perhaps we could do more, in the national economic situation which prevails, by trying to mobilise young people so that they can help in the social services where cuts have had to be made, so that they are really associated with the economic crisis and it becomes something vital to them. To try to get them to do anything by suggesting it is for their own good seems to me rather like suggesting to people that if they get married they will learn patience, they will find they have got to get on with somebody else and they will learn sometimes to keep their mouths shut. This is all very laudable and it comes by the way, but I do not think that one would want to get married if that were the sort of thesis put before one. One wants to get married because one thinks basically that one can do something for another person. As many people have suggested, that is the way that young people should be approached.
The new Young Volunteer Force Foundation has taken "a bit of a bashing." Here I must declare my interest. I am a very new member of the Youth Service Development Council 514 who was appointed after this scheme came out. It may be that it has faults; and although I think it was presented clearly—and the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor underlined tips this afternoon—that it does not intend to compete in local areas with what local organisations are doing, I would ask the Minister whether he would reassure us that it is going to be very careful; in other words that not only should equity be done but that it should be seen to be done. Because people, particularly young people, feel very strongly about someone from outside coming to their area, even if it is to help them.
May I suggest that when consultations take place they should not take place merely with the organisers of the local statutory or voluntary groups but also with representatives of the young people themselves? I should like to know a little more about the way in which it is proposed that the action workers should be trained. My own view is that the various skills can be picked up, but the most important thing is the training in human relations. It is here that youngsters can be helped to get fitted in; because if they work in hospitals they have to deal with matrons, and in old people's homes they have to deal with the old people themselves and the people running the homes. I think this is very important as it also gives these young people confidence in creating relationshps with other people. Finally, my Lords, I think those of us with children will agree that it is much easier to find or articulate the tight social prescription for other people's children but the most difficult thing in the world to do it for our own. I fear that many of us, when we are talking about youth, are talking about the others, not our own. That is why this sort of barrier appears to come up. Perhaps if we were able to meld this together and get rid of what I feel is a sort of pare ital schizophrenia, we should get more done in a more relaxed and less self-conscious way, and be better friends with young people. I think they are ready for us.
§ 9.12 p.m.
My Lords. I hope I shall not detain your Lordships too long. We have had a very long debate, and a most interesting one, which I have followed almost from start to finish. Most of it I agree with most 515 heartily; other parts of it I should like to consider further. As so many noble Lords have spoken about the necessity to find outlets for voluntary service, I should like to say straight away that the Pilgrim Trust have made available to the Scouts Association a considerable sum which will be devoted to conferences in four different parts of this country and across the Border on that very subject—the subject of assessing the necessities and priorities and outlets for voluntary work, by people of various ages and various skills, and quite possibly some with various handicaps. The first of those conferences will be held very shortly and the last will be concluded towards the end of the summer or the beginning of autumn.
I am not going to talk so much about the good boys, although I have a most profound admiration for them. These are very difficult times through which we are passing. There are many temptations; and the wonder is the extraordinarily high quality of the majority, the vast majority, of boys. But we must at the same time recognise that there are some who fall by the wayside. I wonder how many of your Lordships realise that a very great proportion of the boys who finally graduate to borstal started their acquaintance with the police at the age of seven to nine years old. And just as a mini-dose of antibiotics gradually forms a quite useless protection against the onset of germs, so a great many of these boys had been given mini-penalties, small fines and admonitions, over and over again until in the end they had lost all respect for the police and developed a hearty contempt for the law. That is something which we have to consider, as it is undoubtedly a real contribution to the development of crime in young delinquents.
During the war I was given the penance, I thought, of having command of a Young Soldiers' Battalion. It consisted of boys of from fifteen to about nineteen years of age, to cover the time between when the boy left his school and when he went on to National Service. I found that 85 per cent. of them had police records, and that an additional percentage ought to have had police records, but, by good fortune or by skill, they had managed to escape. 516 When I went to the Battalion I found that thefts of Government property in each of the five companies averaged £300 to £400 a month—apart altogether from "dips into the till" in various shops in the town—and that there were some quite expert safe breakers.
Something, I decided, had to be done about it. The first thing I had to do was to get rid of every officer, warrant officer and non-commissioned officer except for the regimental sergeant major; and I was very greatly helped by General Wimberley, commanding the 51st Division, and by Sir Andrew Thorn, commanding the Scottish Command, who enabled me to get first-rate young officers and first-rate senior N.C.Os. That was the first step. The junior N.C.O.s came from the boys themselves. It was rather like a yo-yo for a time—a sergeant today and then below in detention perhaps a couple of days later, or after the short time it took to run a court martial. But gradually we sorted things out and managed to get a more or less stabilised cadre of junior N.C.Os.
The next thing I had to do when I had trained my officers, was to get permission for them to spend one 24 hours every week off the aerodrome where they had been employed filling in holes (which had met the idiosyncracies of the local sub-area commander) and digging new ones. It was certainly not the best training for boys of that kind. They could not see the use of it; neither could most of us, as a matter of fact. However, I got permission for them to go off the aerodrome; for 22 hours of the time off they had to take "normal military precautions" and for the remaining two hours it was the officer's job to amuse them, entertain them, and at the same time give them a modicum of instruction.
We did some rather unconventional things. Nothing that we did was ever without an object. A route march was not just a route march; each section was expected to make a report on some subject—perhaps the suitability of different types of roads for different types of vehicle; perhaps merely the morale of the civil population. But when they came back from these route marches each section, under its section commander, produced a report. Then they read out the reports and criticised them, and we had a vote. It was 517 quite obvious, having one vote one man, how they would vote—so we decided that they would have one vote for themselves and another for the next best; and that those who put both votes for themselves were automatically disqualified.
This taught them to keep their eyes open and gave them an interest instead of its being just a plain slog. Everything else was done in the same way. In this way we kept these fellows on their toes from start to finish. Gradually crime began to disappear and instead of thefts of £300 or £400 per company we reduced it to about £100; and then to £50, and gradually we managed to eliminate crime almost entirely. This was because we were given a job which was a really good one, of providing a demonstration platoon each month for the special training centre down at Loch Ailort from these ex-borstal boys and approved-school boys. It proved such a success that the Lieutenant-Colonel commanding the Scots Guards wrote to me, in accordance with a recommendation from Lord Lyell, who later won a V.C. and was killed, that he would be willing to accept without any further parley every boy who made the physical standards for the Scots Guards. Immediately we got that job I made it a condition that no one would go who had an entry on his conduct sheet within the previous three months. That meant automatic selection to start with; but in the end it was sought for with tremendous keenness. It gave them a self-respect which they had previously lacked, and their keenness and enthusiasm were a real joy to see.
A great many of these young fellows had in the meantime risen to be war substantive sergeants. I was told that it was no use sending them away like that because they would not keep up the standard, but when we went to the Field Force they maintained their standard, and so far as I know, not a single one was reduced either as a result of incompetence or for any other reason. My great ambition was to get one borstal boy a commission, and I think that one could have achieved it if the battalion had not been divided among the Field Force just nine months after he left borstal. I met that boy afterwards out in Africa while on one of my travels, and I thought he appeared a little embarrassed when I first 518 looked at him. However, I told him it was all right, and that I would not let anybody know about his past. I was only too delighted to see that he still kept up the standard we had had. That young boy was a sergeant instructor and was really loved by the Africans and the Europeans who commented on his extraordinary character and sense of responsibility.
My Lords, we had 85 per cent. of these borstal boys who made good and became good citizens. We had 10 per cent. who were so low mentally that, although one could get them so far, they could never be trusted with full responsibility. And we had 5 per cent. who were just plain bad—there is nothing else that one could say about them. We tried everything but could not make the slightest impression, and I am afraid that in the end I acquired a "tame psychiatrist" who, at the drop of my hat, would pronounce them mentally deficient, and they would be passed on to the unarmed Pioneer Corps. I used to put them on the train and that was the last anybody saw of them, so far as I know. But it was essential that those "bad apples" should be removed from the barrel, otherwise they would have been a constant source of reinfection and danger to the other boys who had pulled themselves out of the mire.
I was very glad to hear that in Scotland all boys who go to borstal are sent to a selection centre. There they go through a fortnight of hard training and are allocated to the various borstal institutions in Scotland, according to what the officials believe will be the most suitable place for them. The ones who respond are sent to open borstals, the others are sent to closed borstals. They have not yet found a really satisfactory means of dealing with the irredeemables, but they are constantly trying and they hope that some day, by hard work and by gaining their confidence, they will be able to redeem those boys, too. But somehow I have my doubts.
Without the efforts that I have been describing, what would have happened to those 85 per cent. of boys who made good? They would have gone back to their homes after their terms of borstal, and before they had time to turn round their old pals would have been at them again, leaving them in no peace whatsoever, until they had backslidden into 519 their old ways. That is one great opportunity that I see for people in the voluntary services: to keep an eye on those fellows and try to keep them from backsliding; to give them an opportunity to win themselves from their old ways and get the strength to resist the temptations which will be put in their path. I believe that it can be done; I believe that it must be done. And we must start to do it at a much earlier age than borstal, to try to prevent the corruption that is going on just now in so many of our cities, with a very small minority making life unbearable for so many of their companions.
§ 9.27 p.m.
§ LORD AUCKLAND
My Lords, we are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, not only for initiating this important debate but also for the way in which he did so from his vast experience of young people, both in the Services and in one of our big service industries. I should also like to pay my own tribute the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, for his admirable maiden speech. For a time his son was curate in the village of Ashstead, where I live, and he did a great deal for the young people there. He was not only a devout churchman but also an expert trombone player, and the two mixed particularly well with the young people in that part of Surrey. I believe that the noble Lord's elevation to this House is something for which we should be thankful.
I have two daughters, one of whom is a Girl Guide and the other a Brownie, and a son who in a few years will be a Cub; so to some extent I have been indoctrinated into the fine work which these young units do. I think it is important that we should recognise some words which were written by the Dean of St. Paul's, for whom I have a particular affection because he is a New Zealander, in a recent pamphlet. He said:I plead for a moratorium on criticism of our young people and ask that a period be given to listening to them, encouraging them and positively challenging them.I think the operative word there is "challenge". There is all too much tendency these days to regard young people as something very special or very unusual. We read of those who wreck 520 trains, who cause trouble on street corners or who take drugs. We do not read, as has been pointed out by many noble Lords in this debate, of those who, for example, go and read to mentally retarded patients in local hospitals. I live in an area where there are several mental hospitals, and where some of the patients are quite young. The senior girls from one of our local grammar schools do this very thing—though they would certainly not thank me for making public the fact that they do it. But this is something which they do, and do willingly.
Recently there was a terrible railway disaster at Lewisham, when nearly 50 people were killed. Some of the first at the scene of rescue were young people, some of whom had long hair and some of whom wore what some of us might think rather gaudily coloured clothing. But these youngsters indulged in valuable and at times distressing rescue work. I think it is in this context that we must see the young people of this country.
Then in the field of culture we have the National Youth Orchestra. I should like to put a question to the Government in this connection, although I do not expect an answer this evening. I should like to know what is the future of the National Youth Orchestra, which I think I am right in saying consists entirely of youngsters ranging in age from about 15 to 25. I have heard them on a number of occasions, and they certainly stand up to the competition of some of our more renowned professional orchestras. After all, if we are going to look at the field of culture, which is a vital invisible export, we must think of our young musicians, and indeed of all young people connected with the Arts because these are the musicians, the artists and so on of the future.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Coventry made one point which I felt to be of great importance about the question of voting. He said that, for a start, the vote at 18 could be given for the purpose of voting in local elections. I think this is something of which the Government should take note. As one who has been engaged in politics—not in the other place, but in a young political group, of which for a time I was chairman—I do not take the view that young people to-day are not interested in 521 politics. I am not talking of any one political Party. It may be that young people feel a certain disenchantment with Governments of all colours, but this does not mean to say that they have not an active interest in current affairs. I know this from the several schools, of all kinds, which I have visited recently to lecture about House of Lords reform and a number of other subjects, and from the intelligent questions which have been put to me. I am sure that other noble Lords who have given similar lectures will have found the same. I hope that the Government will take note that politics and current affairs are certainly not regarded with disinterest by many of our young people to-day. After all, why should they be?—because these young people are the politicians of the future, just as our young musicians are the musicians of the future, our Brownies are the Girl Guides of the future, and so on.
May I say just one quick word about Scotland? My noble friend Lord Balerno mentioned Glenmore Lodge, which I myself visited last summer; and the courses there in rock climbing, botany, sailing, and a whole list of subjects suitable for youngsters of both sexes, are something which I hope the Government, in conjunction with the Scottish Council for Physical Recreation, will continue to look at very closely. The recent debate on sport brought out the importance of young people taking part in sport, and one notices at the various Highland Games throughout the various centres in Scotland how many young people in fact take part.
Finally, may I say just this. Parents who tell their children that, "In my day we did this, that and the other", are not necessarily their children's best friend or counsellor, although I suppose most of us, including myself, tend to do it at times. As a nation we have to move with the times; we have to tolerate the views of our youth, whether we like them or not. There have been many instances in which the views of our young people to-day, taken in their proper context, are of enormous value, as has been this debate.
§ 9.38 p.m.
THE EARL OF AYLESFORD
My Lords, I, too, should like to express my gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Robertson, for giving us the opportunity 522 of this debate on this highly important subject, dealing as it does virtually, with the capital of our nation. I should also like to take this opportunity, in passing, of saying how sorry I am that the noble Lord, Lord Feversham, has had to go, because, as Lord Crawshaw said, I am a scout and I was quite prepared to take up nuclear scouting if that was what he intended. In my county scouts do use electronic methods; they use computers, so we are not so far behind as he would like to believe. I should also like to thank the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, for bringing us down to earth slightly again; and I would assure her that more than half my brief was written by Queen's Scouts and not by my headquarters.
I was glad that over this debate a word which I was always scared about, "comprehensive", seems to have defined itself slightly. It seems in modern days to be changing its meaning towards "all embracing". I was pleased we were using more or less its dictionary definition—that is, an extensive quality of understanding—and I certainly support to the nth degree the view that we need an understanding and more extensive policy.
With regard to the second half of the Motion, I am afraid I have taken the liberty—and I hope noble Lords will not mind—of splitting it into various parts. I started off with creating opportunities, and I was delighted to hear the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, use the word "acceptance". This is the vital part—acceptance by authority of the opportunities that are being found. Not only do we want to create opportunities, but more important still the initiative should come from them; and even more important than that, we ought to help them to follow up opportunities of their own making. It is perfectly true that they may be right or wrong. It is true that some inevitably will be wrong; some will be right in essence but will be done in the wrong way, and some, as in the parable of the sower, will fill on good ground and will yield an hundredfold. But adults must not interfere. The young people must be allowed to make their own mistakes. True, one should not allow them to swing from chandeliers or to make any too dangerous mistakes, and certainly they should never be encouraged to make the same mistake more than once. I think it is an awful pity that some of the adults alive to-day did 523 not make a few more mistakes in their early youth.
That leads us to excitement and adventure. Of course they must have these things, and every publication on youth stresses this point. But who, as adults, are competent to judge? Unless one is privileged to be literally alongside youth, in most cases we should be wrong, because we are looking back 30, 40, 50 or maybe even more years, and we are thinking in terms, with our present experience, of what we believe we should have considered exciting if, again with our present experience, we were their age now. It is not at all the same sort of thing. In actual fact in most cases if they were asked it boils down to the fact that what is exciting to them is to be responsible: to be given a job and trusted to do it, however menial that job may be. If they need advice they must done and ask for it. They must find out, but we must never make it too easy for them. They resent this. We must always bear in mind, with our experience, that they think in different terms. It is rather like little Tommy and his teacher. When little Tommy was asked a question, "If there are forty sheep in a field and one gets out, how many will be left behind?", he answered promptly, "None". He was told off, and told that he knew absolutely nothing about arithmetic. His immediate retort was that the teacher knew nothing about sheep. But if little Tommy had been somewhat older, he would still have known that if one sheep got out the rest would follow. But he would have treated that question as an arithmetical one and would have answered correctly, so experience has a great deal to do with it.
The Motion has been bound up a great deal with the Albemarle Report, and we have only two years to run before the ten years is up. We have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Crawshaw, of the sixty years of Scouting, and our new designs, so I will not say any more on that, except that it will produce a vital and exciting modernisation of our movement by 1970. However, there was one paragraph in the Albemarle Report, paragraph 164, which intrigued me. It refers to the continuing pioneering spirit of the voluntary organisations. Our "new look" envisages an immense increase in activities and con 524 sequently, of course, an immense increase in costs, not only at national level but at county level as well.
A number of the counties have been on a "do-it-yourself" basis, and I am still of the opinion that it is a good thing for youth to do it themselves. One learns a great deal, not just the skills, but the leadership and organising ability and character building. However, obviously we shall need more money. My own county is in the same boat as another county, in that we have no big cities within our boundaries. That county has the "do-it-yourself" complex, and over the years it has only asked for one grant of £100, which was granted. The new plan makes £100 look remarkably silly, so they computed roughly the expenses they would have to pay to scouters and commissioners if they had been paying expenses at the normal rates—as paid, for instance, in other youth organisations—and the figure came out at the staggering sum of £25,000 per annum supplied out of the pockets of the small people who make up that movement.
I am perfectly certain that there are many more counties where the total is even higher, but this is the only one I know, and it is not one of my own. But judging from the figures, that is £8 to £10 per head of adult leader trainers. They can do no more that is about as far as they can go. I should like it to be borne in mind, when continuation of the pioneering spirit of voluntary organisations comes up for discussion at the end of the Albemarle ten-year period, that we are pushed as far financially as we can be in supporting our own movement from our own pockets.
The other part of the Motion refers to the creation of opportunities for youth to play a full part in national life. It has not been mentioned to-day, but I am sure it is important. It concerns activities rather like those of the Scout movement. These people we are talking about, although they may appear superficially adult, are not fully adult; they are in a transition stage, and usually it is a very difficult transition stage. The old adage of "All work and no play," and so on, is still very valid, and we should never forget this. Whatever they undertake, however important a thing is, it must be fun. To play a full part in every aspect of the national life is a 525 great aim, a tremendous ideal, but it is difficult to achieve. Older people are not very good at handing over authority to the younger, just as youngsters will resent needless authority by the older. This is the crux of the war of the generations. But I am certain that with respect and tact, slowly we can achieve that particular end.
One of my pet theories is tied up with what was said by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Coventry, who wanted to put the voting age down to 18 for elections to local councils. I should like to go one further: I should like to see them elect their own local councils to act on youth matters at council level. I am sure this would be a good thing, and this is what we ought to be doing. They would be asked to solve all the youth problems that come up at local council. I am referring here, of course, to the older boys and girls, but I feel that local education authorities (except of course in the Greater London Council, where they are more enlightened) are wrong in not catering for the lower age groups. I personally believe that we can put over a tremendous lot to the 8 to 11 age group.
I believe that originally the pattern of Education, with a capital "E", was a mixture between parent, school and church as equal partners. To-day the school is increasingly getting a major share; more and more the parents are beginning to opt out, and consequently, through no fault of their own, less and less is the Church effective. The result of the present educational system, in my opinion, is getting dangerously near to a training system to pass qualifying exams, and it is moulding our people into narrower and narrower little boxes from which none can have a wider vision of the long term. The voluntary youth organisations are doing their best to redress this balance, by giving wider horizons and building character, but I think we should go further than this. We are only touching the edge of the problem.
Then we come to the important matter of co-operation between the statutory bodies and voluntary bodies. At last the scouts have seen the need for this and for the last five years co-operation, so far as we are concerned, has been steadily growing. We have a scheme this year 526 which might interest some of your Lordships, a scheme which we call "Operation Euro-venture", which is for our own scouts. We are setting up an activity centre on the Franco-Swiss border to provide all the things one can get for ski-ing, mountaineering, climbing, canoeing, boating and all the other things that go on with activity of this sort. Next time we operate this centre we hope to be able to invite other British youth organisations to partake, and Continental scouts to join US.
Again in the field of co-operation, I should like to see some form of activity information centres, a sort of general sorting house for all these activities—not just those that have been done but also those that are proposed and those that can be found. Somebody to-day mentioned the Stratford Canal. I Live in Warwickshire, and only one of my scout groups took part in this activity because we did not know it was going on. I should like to see some form of information centre. I think this would fit in well with the suggestion of the noble Earl, Lord Arran, though I was a little worried about that suggestion as here is a danger that it would be left open to interference and over-direction from Government. I tried this information centre on my county education officer, who was most helpful, but the whole scheme fell through because voluntary leaders work by day and we could not man the office during office hours. So we are now exploring existing information bureaux to see whether they can help us.
One matter has not been mentioned here to-day, but it is, I feel, almost the main key to success. It is a Key that is much easier for us in the voluntary organisations to use than for paid people on the other side. The real key to all this is abounding enthusiasm from both youth and adult alike. So if this Motion can do anything to help the Government unobtrusively to smooth the path of our youth organisations and to cut red tape, and without giving us a package deal on a plate, I unquestionably support the Motion.
§ 9.54 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF CORK AND ORRERY
My Lords, "the youth of the nation": How completely and, if I may say so, how wisely has the noble Lord, Lord Robertson, left these persons undefined. The 527 net is very widely thrown. They may be ignoramuses or undergraduates, sixth-form public schoolboys, or girls in convents. All we are told of them is that they are young. How shall we set about looking for a comprehensive policy for so heterogeneous a group as this? Is it possible? Or am I perhaps taking the word "comprehensive" too literally, using it in either or both of its possible connotations? I do not think so, for I believe there is one thing that all young people ought to have regardless of age or sex and which at present they are, in the mass, grievously without; and it is our duty and within our power to help them to find it. That one thing is a sense of purpose.
The young to-day are growing up in conditions vastly better, on the whole, than those of any previous generation, and yet we have had the self-styled "beat generation" that we have heard about to-day, the "hippies", the "flower people" and all the rest of them—the people who, in the words of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, have withdrawn, drop-outs: young people, not, I think, to be thought of as bad or vicious or mentally defective; not typical, of course, but at the same time not to be pityingly shrugged off as misnts, because the tact of their failure to fit into society is often due to their own deliberate choice. All this happens in the middle of a so-called affluent society, in which opportunity awaits all who are capable of seizing it. These are the young people—some not so very young—who see all too clearly the futilities of the world as it is now and can see no good future worth striving for. Their condition and thought has been well described to your Lordships by the noble Lord, Lord Feversham. They are a symptom of a grievous sickness which is pretty widespread among our youth—not the sickness itself, but a part of its syndrome. The sickness is lack of a sense of purpose. It is this sickness which we ought to be able to set ourselves to cure. This indeed would be a comprehensive policy.
What then are the causes of this disease? I think that the most fundamental causes can be reduced in essence to two. The first, paradoxically, is the very affluence which I have mentioned. The 528 standard of living of the young has risen so much, their financial independence has so greatly increased, and life on the whole has become so much easier than it used to be, that the incentive to effort has greatly disappeared. In short, there is no outlet or challenge to be met. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham and other noble Lords have already spoken of this problem, and have offered suggestions of ways in which it might be met.
The second cause of the disease, and the one with which I myself am concerned, is rather different. What does the nation look like to the eyes of the young? I submit that it looks as though it is aimlessly drifting. Whether or not this is true is not the point; that is what it looks like. The effect on the beholder can only be one of frustration and disillusion—in a word, demoralisation. The morale of the nation in which and into which our young people are growing up is low. I do not think there can be any serious argument about that. Where does one look for the cause of demoralisation? I do not think there can be much argument about that either. In any organisation the standard of morale is always set at the top: "Harry and his followers" who set the youth of England all on fire; "Monty" and his Corps Commanders, if my noble and gallant friend Lord Montgomery will permit the familiarity. Of the late General Wingate it was written—and I personally can testify to this—that, "He made men see a star above the battlefield." These are examples of morale raisers in war, but the principle remains just as true in peace. Morale depends on those who lead.
Who then are the leaders now? My Lords, we are. By "we" I intend nothing personal. I use the word to refer to men and women who sit in Parliament, whoever they may be and however they may have got there, whether they be Cabinet Ministers or Back-Bench hereditary Peers. Whether the true power lies in the Palace of Westminister or in Whitehall makes no difference, for it is Parliament that sits in the glare of publicity. Collectively, politicians get more column inches of publicity than anyone or anything else. We cannot read of the war in Vietnam without collecting the views of assorted politicians. If 529 there is a fashion article in a newspaper, sooner or later there will be a cartoon of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a mini-skirt. Even Aviation News tells us that Shackletons are obsolete, though I hope that it is not true in this House. As for television, the public may have their heroes from David Frost to Quackers. But how much T.V. can you watch without having something about politics or politicians thrust upon you, whether you like it or not?
The sad truth probably is that the British people have never had a truly extravagant admiration for their politicians, and I dare say that the standing of politicians just now is as low as it has ever been. Thus Mr. Quintin Hogg, as reported in the Daily Telegraph last Saturday:There is a mood of disillusionment with all politics. There is a denigration of all Parties and all public men sneered at as politicians.We hear this over and over again, and the fact that it is from politicians themselves that we hear it makes it if anything more distressing. People are bound to ask why, if politicians have so low an opinion of their own standing in the country, do they not do something about it? Not even the most fervent supporter of the present Government would suggest that they are enjoying halcyon days just now. They have certainly had their failures. Well, failures of Government are not unknown, and perhaps they will recover now. It would be unpatriotic to hope that they will fail again. But they are also being assailed on grounds of breach of faith, of dishonour itself. From many quarters there has been vilification of the Prime Minister and certain of his Cabinet. I intend no Party point in this; the Conservatives also have been accused of breaches of faith.
But what is new in all this is not so much the nature of the accusations as the force with which they are made and the impact which they have on the public, particularly upon the impressionable young. Nor am I thinking solely of accusations hurled across the Floor of either House of Parliament. The battle rages far more widely than that. It rages—and this is the point—in the Press, on radio, on television, which means that it rages daily in practically every school, home and workshop in the 530 land. There is no escape. Every child can know, even if he neither cares nor understands, what Mr. Macleod thinks of Mr. Wilson, what Mr. Shinwell thinks of Mr. Heath, and what this, that or the other faction think of one another. Small wonder if children, growing up in this atmosphere of accusation and counter-accusation, come at a comparatively early age to exclaim with Mercutio, "A plague o' both your houses".
If politicians themselves proclaim loudly and repeatedly that the nation is fed-up with politicians, I do not think I need feel guilty of a breach of tact in saying that I think they are probably right. The fact is that in these days of instant mass communication our politicians, inside and outside Parliament, are too noisy, too eager to shout about the mote in another's eye, and, above all, too numerous. By "too numerous" I do not mean that there ought to be fewer Members of the Houses of Parliament; I mean that those Members who are simply politicians are too numerous in proportion to the whole. Surely some of them ought to grow up and graduate to the rank of statesman, but how many do? Cast the eye about London S.W.1, and where will it light upon a venerated figure of whom one naturally says, "There goes a statesman"?
In a recent article in the French magazine Paris Match the writer likened us to a ship that set out a century ago upon a world cruise. The cruise is now over and the ship has come home to port. The writer did not suggest that this ship had been battered in defeat or rendered inefficient in any way, or unseaworthy. He made the excellent point that the possession of an empire is not a cause or source of power. On the contrary, it is the possession of power that makes it possible to have an empire. We no longer have such power and so the empire is gone. But does that mean that Britain is no longer great? Not unless greatness and imperial power are synonymous; and if anyone thinks that they are I assure him that the idea is a novel one. England was almost the last of the nations to embark on the colony-collecting game, and I have never heard it suggested that anyone doubted her greatness for several centuries before then.
531 I am sick and tired of hearing persons in authority telling us that we are still a great people. Why should we doubt it? Other nations do not, until they hear our public men talking in this "chip on shoulder" kind of way. I have even heard us described, and by an Englishman, as "a once-proud nation". What have we to be ashamed of now, I should like to know, beyond the fact that we are represented in public by men who can talk in this defeatist and self-denigrating way? It is time for us to talk again like men, for if we do not how can we expect our boys to grow up believing that they are men? And if we deprive them of the chance of this belief, what injury are we doing to that golden treasury, their self respect?
I think that the world, ourselves included, is bedevilled by ideologies. Ideology, as your Lordships know, is the science of ideas; and an ideology is a collection of ideas, not a collection of ideals. The difference is profoundly important, but Governments appear to have lost sight of it. We live in a time in which political Parties are seen and heard to invoke their ideologies as though they were something sacred. Nations do the same, and even whole groups of nations, until we hear of ideological wars. I suppose we shall have to go on putting up with that. But I think we should set a less unedifying example to the young if we were to reverse our present tendency in our Party politics to set ideas above ideals. Ideals may be sacred, but ideas are fallible, and when they turn out badly they should be cast aside. If they are not, we end up with doctrinaire bureaucracy, the decline of Parliament and such costly fatuities as the treatment meted out by the Parties to the steel industry—which, whatever it may have done for steel, has certainly made our whole system of government look ridiculous.
532 So, my Lords, this is my comprehensive policy for youth: that we, by our own example, should set about the task of convincing it that in a present that may hold much evil there is none the less everything to strive for in a future which may hold much good. We shall do it by re-injecting into the process of Government the old and trusted principles; that is to say, the principles of putting nation before Party, of fighting always for honourable ideals and being ready at any time to jettison mere political ideas. When we say that the first duty of a Government is to promote the interests of the nation, we shall remember to add the words,in so far as these are compatible with truth, honour and fair dealing".When we speak through the media of mass communication, we shall be careful to say straightforwardly, honestly and unequivocally what we mean and what we think. Speakers who think they already do this may care to notice from now on how often, instead of saying "I think", they say "I would have thought", which implies, whether they intend it or not, that in fact they think something else. We should remember that what we say may be heard by all, and should be a little less ready to hurl invective across the Party lines. By such means we shall make it plain that Great Britain is still fit to be the leader among the nations that England has been for centuries and, with dignity, infuse a sense of purpose into the young who all the time are coming on to take our places.The youth of a nation",wrote Disraeli,are the trustees of posterity".And we, my Lords, are the trustees of youth.
§ 10.7 p.m.
VISCOUNT ST. DAVIDS
My Lords, I regret to say that I shall not follow the noble Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery, in his remarks, with almost every word of which I disagree. I came to the House tonight to speak for one short and simple reason; that is, that I am a youth club leader, and have been so for two years. This does not entitle me to expect that the House should accept my remarks as being to any degree the more valuable than those made by such notable leaders of youth as the noble Lord, Lord Rowallan, and others. My experience of the work is so much shorter than theirs. I may say, in a lighter vein, that perhaps I have more recent experience, in that I had to leave your Lordships' House for most of the centre of this debate in order to spend two hours, dressed in jersey, corduroys and deck boots, runing my acquatic youth club on a barge on the Regent's Canal. Having looked after the twenty youngsters who turned up in the cold and rain and darkness tonight to boat there, I have put on more reasonable dress to return and address your Lordships.
Looking at the question of youth over the years during which my attention has been so forcibly directed to it, I believe that we, the adults of Britain, have committed a crime, though perhaps it is not so recognised today. It would have been recognised more some centuries ago, when they acknowledged that the man who stole the goose from off the common committed a crime, but also considered that some odium rested on the man who stole the common from the goose and, by enclosure, took away land which had been used for public purposes, and which no doubt had given great enjoyment to the youth of the day. When I was a boy—and this is true of many of your Lordships—I enjoyed great liberty of movement. I was also to roam the countryside, I could shoot, I could fish, I could climb trees, build sandcastles, sail and swim. I could do all the things that most of your Lordships could do. But, let us face it, if you tried to do almost any one of those things in London at the present moment, you would quickly be in trouble with the police. I believe that somehow we must replace those activities in the hands of our youth.
534 You may say that all this is play. Well, of course, in a sense it is play. When a kitten plays with a ball of wool it is play; but at the same time that kitten is using its brain and its muscles and practising the co-ordination between the two in the very active and serious business of growing up to be a fully-grown cat. For exactly the same reasons we need to expand the personality of our young people by giving them every possible opportunity to use their brains in all the ways that they can; by giving them the chance to use their muscles, their nerves and their co-ordination in doing all the various things which in earlier years—or even in the countryside to-day—they were free to do, but which they are not so free to do in our big cities to-day.
As to the quality of our youth to-day, my experience is that it is high. And to this remark I would add that I also have a very great respect for their parents. My experience is mainly with the younger ones. I entered this field of youth leadership in a rather remarkable manner and largely without knowing that I had done it. What happened very briefly is this. I have a house on the banks of the Regent's Canal and have a landing stage with my own boats moored to it. Inevitably, at some moments, groups of unoccupied youngsters came drifting along the towpath who called out asking whether they could use my boats. In a moment of insanity—or perhaps one might call it a moment of sanity of an unusual kind—I said, "Yes".
The natural result was of course that they came back again, bringing their friends; and, shortly afterwards, their friends brought their friends, and before I knew what had happened I found myself the leader of a youth group established on a big old steel barge moored in a quiet corner of the canal, with 20 smaller craft, dinghies, canoes, sailing craft, punts and small motor craft. Now, after two years, we have a membership of 370 boys and girls who turn up so regularly and with such fervour that on a dull, overcast Saturday in January, 65 of them turned up.
My Lords, when I started this I did so in a state of acute ignorance. I knew absolutely nothing of running a youth 535 club; I had no theories, no knowledge of other people's practice. We signed on all who turned up, quite regardless, and they came mainly from Camden Town and Kentish Town. We had to make 8 the minimum age, because that was the lowest age at which children had the strength to row a boat and swim and at which they were reasonably obedient so as to be safe on the water. We made the top age 19, because 19 was the age of the oldest who turned up. Within those age limits we took on all comers; boys and girls, white, black and brown, and we would have taken green ones, I am sure, had any turned up. That was how we started.
We discovered what I am sure we could have been told by the Youth Service had there been anyone to tell us, namely, that the older and younger groups did not mix in an altogether satisfactory manner. So after a time we decided to make the club one for younger children, since three-quarters of those who came were aged 14 and below. The ages at which we now accept them are from 8 to 14. We did not turn out the 15-yearolds and we keep our 14-year-olds when they become 15. Various things have become very clear to us over the years. First, as the noble Lord, Lord Rowallan, said, the bad lads are a very small minority. The enormous majority never put a foot wrong in any way.
We have been lucky in that the club is on the water and this, in itself, imposes a certain discipline which is absolutely essential if you are not to drown the children. This is recognised by the children and it has enabled us to carry with the discipline necessary for safety a certain number of other rules so that we keep up a high standard of behaviour. The fact that the club is on the water has attracted parents. Some have taken to boating with their children and help me to run the club as club officers or by working in the canteen, and so on. Even those parents who do not take to the water themselves often come to see how safe we keep their children and what the children find of interest on the waterway. And so we get a great deal more cooperation and contact with parents than I believe do most youth clubs. All of this has been a very great help.
536 Another thing we have found is that we get so many youngsters under 14 because the services provided for children over 14 are, comparatively speaking. much better developed. The younger children are not so well catered for, in spite of the fact that obviously these youngsters, when school ends, have to go out into the street. I am sure that if there is any extra undisciplined behaviour in the youth of today, especially in the big cities, it is to some extent due to the fact that there is nothing for this age group to do. I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Rowallan, that this age group is the starting point for the troubles which occasionally afflict our youth, and if we mean to prevent such things starting, rather than waiting till later and then trying to put right what has gone wrong, it is my belief that this is where we should put in a big effort now to start this group going in the right direction. The amount of enthusiasm which this age group has is most impressive, and if it can be harnessed and not allowed to die away in boredom we can do more good and get greater return for our investment of cash in the Youth Service by doing this than by any other possible method.
§ 10.21 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT MONCKTON OF BRENCHLEY
My Lords, I apologise for having had to leave in the middle of the debate and return dressed as I am. I speak tonight, first as a father of five children under 17, secondly as Chairman of the Training Committee of the Scouts for Kent, and lastly as President of the Kent Association of Boys' Clubs, which has 53 clubs and over 3,000 boys. I was delighted not to miss the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Soper, with so much of which I agree. I was also glad to hear the noble and learned Lord Lord Chancellor give more details of the Government scheme, because we were afraid of what "comprehensive" meant and of what some of the ideas appeared to be. I got my running orders from three boys in the club, and they were very straight. They said, "Tell them that we are bloody well going to go to what clubs we like. Sometimes we want to go to a mixed club and sometimes to a boys' club."
With respect, I think that the noble and learned Lord was wrong on two 537 points; first, in the idea that the young are looking forward to their lives at the age of 50. That is almost in the grave for them. They want to see themselves through the next three to five years, and that is difficult enough at present. The military half of the noble and learned Lord's speech I think I had better leave to the defence debate. I think there are more things for students to protest about than the atom bomb. For instance, there is more danger in biological warfare. I am not sure whether the noble and learned Lord meant that it was a good thing for students to protest against bad Governments and leaders, but on a night like this I do not want to make political points.
Adolescence is the most difficult period of life that young people have to go through. They do not want advice and lecturing; what they want is a spark of leadership to set them alight and a challenge. They want excitement and to take risks. The noble Viscount, Lord St. Davids, was at Cambridge with me, and we got our risks, not only on the hunting field but off it. I do not remember whether he was there the night that the Communist Party meeting was broken up, and I spent a short time in police custody. I do not think there is very much difference between those of us who do it on the ski slopes and the hunting field and those who have an occasional "knock-up" on the beach at Brighton. It is the same basic thing: that a young man wants a risk and excitement.
It is for that purpose that, at least in Kent, the boys' clubs exist. We endeavour to give them every form of risk-taking activity, but under safe guidance, even so far as going at 100 m.p.h. on a motor cycle, with the welcome help of the Army youth team at the racing ground in Kent. It is an enormous thing, to be able to teach a chap to take a risk safely, because it is that much better. They walk for miles. If your Lordships come to Maidstone at 8 o'clock on Sunday, May 19, you will see them finishing their Margate to Maidstone walk; and they are boys of all ages. Although most of the members of the boys' clubs come from normal and good backgrounds, some of our clubs are formed within the approved schools. The winner of the Margate to Maidstone walk last year came from an 538 approved school. First-class those boys were; and they won many other sports. There, I think, we should look at the particular school that I visit, where there are 87 boys, of whom 60-odd come from broken homes. I hope your Lordships will remember this when we come to consider the Divorce Bill, because it is one aspect of that problem that we should face.
I found the same thing in the Army. To take the most serious crime, that of murder, there were eight murders in the Army when I was in Germany—I hope not because of it. Of the eight soldiers convicted of murder, six came from the most appalling broken homes. One young soldier who committed a nasty sexual murder had been made to walk to school in girls' shoes by his mother, the father having divorced her and left. This is the kind of situation where the sins of the fathers' are literally being visited on the children.
Although most of us have spoken about all that is good in youth, and that which is having the natural outlet in the Scouts, clubs and so on, we should above all help those who have not had a fair start in life. Referring again to the school in Kent that I have mentioned (I do not want to give its name), they gained only one O level, mostly again, I think, because the children have not been made to go to school, or because the appalling difficulties of their home situation have made it impossible to learn. Yet they fit into the boys' club movement extremely well. Some of them have been caught stealing—and I mentioned that there but for the grace of God most of us would be: and some of us have been inside. Some have been taking drugs. Again, I think that is done more from a spirit of adventure and of trying anything once. I must also confess that when I was a young officer on leave in Cairo at a certain night club I tried hashish from my hubble-bubble. By the grace of God I got extremely sick; it was not at all a pleasurable feeling, and I never wanted to touch hashish again.
It is this enthusiasm to which we have to give some meaning in our youth service. I fear that we do not give them much of a start in the society that we leave for them. With the exception of 539 the right reverend Prelates in this House, I do not think that at this moment of time religion has helped them very much. The trumpet has been too uncertain. There are too many priests—Catholic in my church, and in the Church of England, and also a few Bishops—who now seem to start the Creed, "I used to believe". With an uncertain trumpet, how can the young have something to hold on to on that side?
In politics, several noble Lords have mentioned the difficulties, and it is virtually impossible. I spoke to two club members on the subject of politics, and we were talking about the economic debate. They asked me a question which I could not answer. They said: "Are you going to the economic debate in the House of Commons?". I said: "Yes". They said: "You know what each side will say?", and I said: "Yes". They said: "You know what the vote will be when it is all over?" I said: "Yes". They said: "What the hell are we trying to do? Is this the way we should be governed?". You can see the cynical approach, caused I think by us, because too many of our leaders on all sides think that one man is Truth. It is about time we made it quite clear, however much our leaders pontificate, that no man is Truth.
There is among the youth of this country, as I expect has been mentioned while I have been away, an enormous will and desire to help others. I have seen it in my own clubs. Again, all that is required is a suggestion, a hint, a spark of leadership once more, and they will do what is wanted. On Saturdays our boys go to shop for old people when the rush at Saturday shopping time is too great to be coped with by old people; they go into hospitals to write letters for old people who do not have relatives nearby and who find it difficult to phrase the words. It is all there, my Lords, provided that the leadership is there and the challenge is given to them.
§ 10.31 p.m.
§ LORD SANDFORD
My Lords, when we discussed this subject in 1962 we finished the debate by 6.45 p.m.; in 1965 we finished at 8.45 p.m. What worries me is what will be happening in 1971. 540 The Motion, for which we thank the noble Lord, Lord Robertson, calls fora more comprehensive policy towardsyoung people and forfurther opportunities for young people to play a full part in every aspect of our national life".I should have thought that one aspect of our national life in which it is obvious that young people can play a part is their jobs; and it is rather surprising, I think, that so little has been heard to-day about the part that industrial training can play in this whole field. It was good to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, in his fine maiden speech, and from Lord Hirshfield and Lord Hunt, some aspects of this. Nevertheless, it is surprising that so little has been heard on this subject to-day. Perhaps the noble Lord who is to reply will tell us a little more to indicate that there is not a divergence between the youth services and industrial training.
I myself want to follow the majority of noble Lords for a moment and look at the Youth Service, and particularly to consider how far the Youth Service helps along the path which the noble Lord, Lord Robertson, has pointed to us. It cannot help in more than one-third of the way because not more than one-third of our young people use the Youth Service in any form. This was something which was true when Lady Albemarle's Committee reported, and it is still true to-day. This help goes rather less than one-third of the way, in fact, because a good part of the Youth Service is devoted to doing things for young people, as the noble Lord, Lord Robertson, would have it do, rather than to finding worthwhile things for young people to do for other people.
There are, of course, plenty of exceptions to this, and we have heard something about all of them this evening: the Boy Scouts, the Girl Guides. St. John, the Red Cross, and the cadet forces, and one that has come in for particular mention to-day, the V.S.O. This year the V.S.O. are deploying, I understand, 1.300 young people overseas, while the C.S.V. are deploying very nearly 400 people who are giving four months or more of their time in voluntary service in our community. We salute all these, and others like them, for all their efforts to find 541 worthwhile and useful things for young people to do, and for what they are doing to help them to undertake these tasks efficiently and responsibly. But all these bodies, and those like them, taken together—admirable as they are—are only for those few, not more than one-third of our young people, those very few, who join them.
As the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham pointed out, those few are fully, perhaps over fully, involved already. And as the noble Viscount, Lord Monckton, has said, we still have to face the fact that at least half of our youth—I would say two-thirds of our youth—most, but not all, with great latent potential for valuable service in them, go through their last terms in school and into their first years in employment without having had that spark of service kindled or kept alight. Nor has the other group had its rebellions and its protests effectively harnessed. All this is familiar ground. Lady Albemarle said this in her Report, in 1959; Sir John Newsom said the same thing in his Report, and in 1964 the King George's Jubilee Trust said the same thing in their Report Opportunities for Service and, as my noble friend Lord Aberdare reminded us at the beginning of this debate, Mr. Bessey said it in his Report in 1965.
As a result of all this talk certainly something has been done, but I would guess not all that much; and I would certainly agree with the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, when he said that it is nothing like enough. But I would point to the example set us by Task Force, which since 1964 has been showing one way—and I freely admit that it is only one way—of stepping up the scale of these activities by young people, many of whom are quite unattached to the Youth Service and unattached by Churches, clubs or organisations of any kind. I mention this because of the difference in scale. C.S.V., which has rightly several times today been applauded, has at any one moment rather less than 400 boys and girls deployed in approved schools, mental hospitals, and so on. Task Force, not yet a national organisation, working only in London, has 11,000 to 12,000 542 boys employed, not working for such long periods as C.S.V. volunteers, but nevertheless engaged in some form of voluntary service.
I should like to say just a few words on this Task Force service. It is a service that concentrates exclusively—and I stress the word "exclusively"—on finding worthwhile things for young people to do, on finding young people to do them, and on nothing else whatever, beyond that of checking that the job is still worth doing and that there is still somebody doing it. There are no distractions of maintaining club membership of looking after club premises, no badges. rules, subscriptions—nothing, except finding these worthwhile jobs to do and finding the young people to do them. What Task Force has done is to develop this process of assessing what jobs are suitable and worth while, putting the right young people to work at them, and keeping that young person or finding some other young person until the job is done.
All this has been worked out to a very high pitch of efficiency at the Task Force centres which are all manned by gifted young people, working full time at full time salaries. As I see it, there are four things that make Task Force such a valuable service. First, it gives the workers in the statutory services, who are among those who are being helped more than any others by this system, the assurance that they must have, that the help they are being offered really will be forthcoming and will be sustained and continued, and will be supervised and checked. Secondly, it gives teachers in the schools who are operating community service schemes help to find the right jobs, and help in supervising the boys and girls who are working at them. This is something that relatively few teachers have time to do thoroughly when they are working without Task Force behind them.
Thirdly, Task Force gives youth organisations (and I stress this) like I.S.V. or the Boy Scouts, a central place to which they can refer to get projects suitable for their particular membership, whatever its age group and sex may be, and it provides this same service just as effectively to unattached boys and girls as 543 it does to clubs. It gives doctors, clergy, old people's welfare committees, home helps, all those people who are in receipt of cris de Cœur from the community, a centre to refer to for that kind of help that can be given by boys and girls but cannot always be given, or given quickly, by the Welfare State.
This service Task Force has been providing in London and is now providing in eight or nine of the 32 London boroughs, and it is in the process, or was in the process, of being transplanted into Derbyshire and Hertfordshire before this Young Volunteer Force Foundation came into being. I had a measure of responsibility for the transplant operation in Hertfordshire, and after fifteen months of planning and preparation—and I would agree with the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham that it is very important that this preparation be done thoroughly and local needs and situations carefully assessed—I would judge it is now going reasonably well. And I hope that further expansion of this or a similar method of finding opportunities for young people to serve the community will take place until it becomes the normal thing for school children to do, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Norwich led us to hope and expect. I hope that this is the aim of the Young Volunteer Force Foundation—this or something like it. If it is, I wish it every success.
If it is to succeed it will, I think, have to start by finding a rather better name. "Young Volunteer Force Foundation" is not the best that could have been devised. And I should like to register with other noble Lords a few mild misgivings about this new set-up. I believe, and I hope, they are misgivings which the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, will easily be able to set at rest. The founder of Task Force, who will be the Director of Young Volunteer Force Foundation is still a young man, and the full-time officers of Task Force were all young men, and this, as the noble Baroness, Lady Swan-borough, reminded us, is a very real attraction for the young people who work in the service. The Young Volunteer Force Foundation has what I should judge to be a great handicap by being headed by three Privy Counsellors. These are probably very "with it" Privy Coun 544 sellors but they are not in their twenties or even thirties, and for a young people's organisation this is something of a handicap.
Task Force was, and is, an independent voluntary body like C.S.V. and V.S.O., and the Young Volunteer Force Foundation is said to be, but, as my noble friend Lord Aberdare has pointed out, it is going to be launched, at any rate launched to local authorities, next month by a joint Government circular. joint Government circulars are not the most "with it" kind of document, and that approach is making this new body look suspiciously like Task Force nationalised. I hope we can have our suspicions and fears about that set at rest. There was another point which the noble Baroness, Lady Swanborough, made very forcibly, and I am sure she was right to do so. That was that the setting up of any new body like Task Force or any agency that might be sponsored by this Young Volunteer Force Foundation is a very delicate operation in any locality. It requires the greatest possible tact and patience: the way has to be paved with the greatest care. It has taken me in Hertfordshire 15 months to make quite sure that all the voluntary bodies, the mayors, the town clerks, and so on, were prepared to accept a branch of Task Force working in a Home County. I do not think a single day of that 15 months could have been spared. If you take short cuts in the preparation of this scheme it leads straightaway to trouble, and I hope that that point which the noble Baroness drew to our attention will be watched most carefully.
The spokesman for the Ministry of Education ruffled a lot of feathers by his rash talk of flying squads of young people from the Young Volunteer Force Foundation dashing about among the health and welfare services in the provinces. This is an attractive idea to the young, but it is most alarming to the Establishment, and is extremely irritating to those who are already working in the field. Let us hope that the Young Volunteer Force Foundation will recover from this rather groggy genesis. The idea behind the Foundation is excellent. Its advent must encourage those who, like me, welcome and support this Motion.
§ 10.46 p.m.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF HOUSING AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT (LORD KENNET)
My Lords, youth itself hardly lasts as long this debate has lasted, and for that reason I shall not detain your Lordships long. The whole House is greatly indebted to Lord Robertson for bringing forward this Motion, which is similar to one he brought forward three years ago, and I hope will prove similar to one he will bring forward in three years' time. I think this is a good interval for the House to concern itself with these matters. I should like also to join with all those who have already felicitated Lord Pilkington on an excellent maiden speech. I wonder what he will talk about next, and hope that it will be soon.
After the 1965 debate my honourable friend Mr. Denis Howell, who looks after the Youth Service and Service by Youth—a distinction which has often been made at the D.E.S.—sent a copy of Hansard of that debate to the Youth Service Development Council. That Council met and went through it. My honourable friend has told me that this time he plans to do exactly the same thing. It seems to me that this is the most practical possible way of handling the great wealth of constructive suggestions which have been made in this long debate. Not one of them will go by the board, not one of them will be missed, and I think probably noble Lords on all sides of the House will agree that this is the right forum for the suggestions to be picked up and assessed, and from which action on them should flow. That being so, I hope that the House will exonerate me from the duty of picking up each individual suggestion which has been made by everybody throughout the debate. Those points which I do not pick up will be picked up in the Youth Service Development Council by means of this machinery. Of course, some points I must pick up and will now do so.
Lord Robertson, in opening the debate, said that if good opportunities existed for youth to serve, then youth would have less disposition to rebel. I think many noble Lords will agree with me when I say that I do not much mind 546 if they do rebel. I personally like being rebelled against, because I remember what fun it was to rebel. After all, this very rebellion is the stuff of change and progress in our society, and I think we should worry if we are too careful to provide opportunities for people to do anything else except rebel.
Lord Aberdare, speaking early in the debate, raised certain worries about the now Government initiative in the field of service by youth—that, I think, is a key phrase for it—in connection with the Young Volunteer Force Foundation. I should like to take him up on one or two things he said. They are only details, and they were not echoed later on, but I think it would be worth doing so. If I heard him aright, he said that at no time were the interested parties—meaning all the existing voluntary organisations—brought round the table together about this scheme. Well, that is true only if you look at it wearing very special glasses. What happened was this. All the interested bodies were consulted before the scheme was launched—every single one, most of them many times over. The particular body which has since voiced the most doubt about the scheme was consulted on at least two occasions at the very highest level and on others at a lower level. I have with me quotations of the reactions of those who were consulted, which were thoroughly favourable at an early stage. However, they were not all got round the table before the scheme was launched, and I expect the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, will agree with me that, in a field in which there are so many voluntary bodies and so many interests involved, a round table meeting at a very early stage is not always the most effective means of getting progress. Then at a certain point last November the scheme was launched, and about two weeks ago there was a round table meeting of the whole lot—all of them—about the further development of this scheme. All the bodies concerned welcomed it and made their contributions to a scheme for its development, with the one exception mentioned by Lord Aberdare.
The second point which I feel I should take up with Lord Aberdare is this. He 547 asked whether it was not unusual to commend one particular charitable trust, referring to the Young Volunteer Force Foundation, in a circular to local authorities. The circular has not gone out yet, so it is a little hypothetical to discuss it at all. But since he raised the point, I might say that, subject to all the consultations which yet have to be done on the circular before it goes out, the idea is that it should commend voluntary service in general—that it should commend the lot—and should then tell the local authorities about the extra bit which the Young Volunteer Force Foundation has been set up to provide. It is not a voluntary organisation to compete with the others. It is not going to operate in the same way or on the same level. It is not going to recruit its own members in a mass, as many of the others rightly do; it is not going to get in their way. What it is proposing to do is to help in general all the existing organisations, and in particular to help them get into areas where they have not yet been. I think it will find that one of its main preoccupations will be to open up the field, or help in opening up the field, to the existing voluntary organisations, all of them in parts of the country where they are not "off the ground". It might be able to do this, and it is the intention that it should do so.
§ LORD ABERDARE
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord for one moment? I am very grateful to him, and if his words will go towards helping to remove this controversy, which I was anxious to remove, that is all to the good. The circular, which the noble Lord said has not been released, has got out. A draft circular has been sent round by the Ministry of Health to hospital management boards. That draft circular does not go so far as he was hoping that the final circular would in a general commendation of all voluntary effort.
§ LORD KENNET
My Lords, the noble Lord must know that when circulars are being drafted, it is subject to consultation with many bodies—associations of those likely to receive them, and perhaps sample individual bodies among the bodies likely to receive them. In regard to forming any judgment about a circular which is at present in draft, the noble Lord said 548 that it has got out. I do not know whether or not it should have.
§ LORD KENNET
Leak or no leak, the House should regard with some seriousness the prospect that a Government circular in draft should not be able to be discussed with those whom it is going to interest, because, as the noble Lord put it, there has been a leak. That would be a sad day. for the Government must have freedom to discuss these things and should not be held up by criticism, informed or partially informed, even in Parliament, during the discussion stage.
The noble Lord, Lord Sandford, voiced reservations about the presence of three Privy Counsellors on the Young Volunteer Force Foundation. He said that Privy Counsellors were not very "with it" animals, and that circulars were not very "with it" things. For heaven's sake, my Lords, not everything about the Youth Service or service by youth can be "with it". It is important to remember that if the "with it" people are to keep being "with it", and to move "it" in the best way they can on account of their being "with it", there must be a lot of extremely dull routine, with bureaucratic, financial and organisaional background. I would say that the most "with it" thing that an eider statesman or Privy Counsellor can do is to provide exactly this boring, persevering background work. The most "with it" thing that a Government can do is to take off the shoulders of the voluntary organisations, many of whom are extremely "with it", the dull routine work of communication with local authorities and co-ordination with local authorities, precisely by the use of that highly "un-with it" mechanism, the circular. How else would anybody wish the Government to proceed? I believe this is the right way to proceed.
May I join issue in his absence with the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, who told me he would not be able to stay? He spoke about adventure and implied that there would be less 549 scope for adventure for the young people of this country once we had withdrawn our military presence from Asia. I think that was the implication of his words about the contraction from the international scene. I was startled and even, perhaps, at moments appalled—I do not know how many of your Lordships will follow me—at the assimilation of adventure with military duties, including operational patrols, street fighting and occasional pitched battles, which was the lot of our forces in Asia and was what they were there for. If this is what he means by "adventure", then I think we should all think again about our categories. I believe that adventure is an entirely different matter. When I say to him that the Government are in favour of adventure and of providing opportunities for it, I emphasise as much as I can that this is not what the Government mean, and I should like to disentangle what I believe to have been the profoundly entangled thoughts of the noble Lord, Lord Butler, on this score.
I come to the spirited intervention of the noble Earl, Lord Arran. The difficulty here is: is it to be voluntary or is it to be compulsory? This is the great problem. I am not merely stalling on what I know he hopes will prove to be something vast, for if it comes out right I hope it will be something vast, too. But you cannot have voluntary compulsion and you cannot have compulsory voluntary service. When you say "National Service" you think at once of compulsion, because National Service was compulsory and we abolished it. When you say "National Service" it immediately suggests a return to conscription of some sort, though conscription is for a different purpose. If the intention is that this great movement should be compulsory, I say straight away that the Government are dead against it for reasons which I could not possibly put better than the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, did. If, on the other hand, it is to be voluntary, the only question is: how much can we do and how soon? I hope the noble Earl will agree with me that the present course on which the Government are set is the right one for starting it up.
I hope the movement may get bigger and bigger. I hope it may turn out in time to be something like the noble Earl 550 envisaged. Of course, the field is full of problems, because if you get vast numbers of voluntary workers clearing slum sites you are going to upset the whole economics of the building industry, because it is going to bring down their costs. Whose costs is it going to bring down? So there is going to be a lot of argy-bargy about that in different sectors of the economy. But provided that it is voluntary, let us try it out and hope that it goes in the right direction.
There was one point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot, which I should like to take up. She enquired about the Hunt Report. The circular which went out at the time of publication of this Report asked for a report upon progress in the implementation of the kind of thing mentioned in the Hunt Report about young immigrants, and it asked for it by the end of this year. So that is where we stand at this moment: we are waiting to know "what is cooking".
On the training of youth leaders and the question of getting a clearer idea for the future, especially for the National College at Leicester, may I say that this is at the moment under review by the D.E.S., who are conducting this review in conjunction with the Youth Service Development Council. The programme of the Leicester College for the next year is settled; the programme for the year after that will depend on the review which is now going forward. But let me say that the Government entirely agree that it is important to get a clear future on this matter, and we hope to do it before too long.
My kinsman, Lord Crawshaw, spoke from most interesting direct experience of the Scout Movement, as indeed lid the former Chief Scout a moment or two later; and I know we were all interested and grateful for those interventions. I should like to tell Lord Crawshaw, just to keep it all in the family, that my house is still full of the knots tied with one hand by my father. We have got Turks' heads on the bannisters and double bowlines hanging from all the windows and heaven knows where else! Let me swiftly, if I may, compliment Lady Birk on what I thought was a speech which came closer to the reality of the relations between that wild tribe we tend to call "youth" and the rest of us than many 551 other speeches. It is possible that some of them see some of us as "fuddy duddies", but listening in the House today I thought that some of us saw some of them as "fuzzy wuzzies". Let us hope that if there is any conflict between "fuddy duddies" and "fuzzy wuzzies" it will soon be overcome, partly by the agency of this debate, which I hope will be widely reported.
My noble friend Lord St. Davids brought us right down to earth with a direct account of what it is actually like running a youth club, and I was particularly impressed by the way he described the fact that he did not begin it and did not specially want it, but that it just happened because he happened to have come boats. There is quite a strong analogy between that and the Government's attitude to the voluntary organisations at the moment. He welcomed all those who came along, and he got a concern going on that basis. The Government welcome all the voluntary organisations which come along. They have tried to set up a framework to help them, and they welcome them all on that very basis. I think I should not leave my brief mention of noble Lords who have spoken without speaking of one who has not. I refer to Lord Longford, to whom the Government are most grateful for the general inquiry within the Government which he set up into the Youth Service—an inquiry which was taken over, on his recent resignation, by Mr. Michael Stewart.
My Lords, let us for a moment look at the young people of Britain and see what we can say about them and in what way they have changed. Compared with before the war, when they are 13 the boys are seven centimetres taller than they were, and the girls four centimetres. If we take the age group 15 to 24 as a whole, we find that they are three or four times less likely to die than they were before the war; they are two or three times more likely to marry before they are 24; they earn twice as much; the girls are twice as likely to have a baby and four times as likely to have an illegitimate baby; they are all rather less likely to commit suicide; they are three times as likely to go to a university and seven times as likely to go to a college of education; they are twice as likely to 552 be killed in a motor accident as they were in 1951, even. But on the other hand, when they are still in the secondary school they are only five-sixths as likely to be in a class of over 30 as they were in 1963, only four or five years ago. The picture that makes is a pretty good one; we could not ask better. I am sorry that they are likely to have more illegitimate babies and I am very sorry that they are more likely to be killed by motor cars. But apart from that it is a picture of change in exactly the direction we should have wished. Things were not right with them before the war. We worked on it; my generation and the generation above. and it got better.
THE EARL OF ARRAN
My Lords, I am ashamed to interrupt, but is it not a fact that they were just about as likely to be killed in a motor accident in 1966 as they were in 1934? The death rate in both years was about the same.
§ LORD KENNET
My Lords, the only valid figures I have been able to get are those that I have given the House: that they are now twice as likely to be killed by a motor car in one way or another as they were in 1951.
The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, at the beginning of the debate, quoted Peter the Monk in 1274. I should like to go further back and quote from what I believe to be one of the first pieces of continuous prose to come from our culture at all; if we count Ancient Egypt in our culture. There is a piece of writing—and you can see who is writing to whom—which goes like this:I am told that you forsake writing and give yourself up to pleasure. You go from street to street, where it smells of beer, to destruction. Beer scares men from you and sends your soul to perdition.You are like a broken steering-oar in a ship that answers neither to port nor to starboard. You are like a shrine without its god and like a house without bread.You have been seen climbing a wall and breaking into the—There is a hieroglyphic here, indecipherable at this point.… Men run away from you, for you inflict wounds on them.You ought to know that wine is an abomination. You are taught to sing to the flute… and to pipe.…You sit in the house and the girls encircle you. You sit in front of the wench and get sprinkled with oil. You drum upon your paunch. You reel and fall down and get covered with dirt.…553 My Lords, so far as invective against the younger generation is concerned, we have not progressed much since then; but I have no doubt that as far as justification for that invective goes, we have. You do not hear such things now; and if you did, it would not be true, I think. I am glad that no complaints were made about the long hair of the young men. You can read about it in the Press. No noble Lord was so Philistine as to base an attack on youth on this point this evening. It is interesting to remember that young men with hair to the shoulders or below the ear is the norm in European culture, and has been for 2,000 years. The periods in which hair was cut short have been rather few and rather transient, and associated with a predominantly military life. Soldiers on campaign have to do it, otherwise they would get lice. But in periods of peace and culture, as we have now, with all our troubles, it is normal for young men to feel they look nicer with long hair. This is a reversion and not an effete innovation.
I should like to report to the House, if I may, an interesting sociological phenomenon which came to my notice the other day. It is the fact that in a London comprehensive school in a class of 14-year-olds, the teacher asked them to write down, in order, the problems which in their opinion face contemporary youth. It was during a French lesson, so they wrote it in French which no doubt added something to the educational value. They wrote down—with at least general agreement; and I should like the House particularly to note the order—in the first place, parents; in the second, drugs; third, spelling; fourth, sex; and thereafter, in order, money, capitalism, Communism, poverty, hunger and last, but not least, each other.
§ VISCOUNT MONCKTON OF BRENCHLEY
My Lords, surely we are not going to be asked to take serious note at this time of night of what one form in one school has voted?
§ LORD KENNET
My Lords, the House will take what notice it wishes of the sample, for which I claim no statistical validity whatever. I merely introduced it to show that the youth of to-day is probably about the same as it was when we 554 were young and to engender a feeling of community, because I feel that this is the point of this debate: that they are not a separate class of people, a sort of dangerous tribe living in a balloon blown out from the side of society. They are part of us, and the national policy towards youth is one thing. But, of course, the obverse is the youth policy towards the nation, and the two have to lock together and belong.
I suppose if the youth of this generation do differ from others, it may be that, apart from the respects in which I have already given your Lordships figures, they are healthier and larger and mature younger. I think that perhaps they are more peaceful than they used to be. I do not mean that they do not bash each other up less, but perhaps they hope and work more for peace in the world than used to be the case some time ago. They are certainly much more educated. Society, through the State, has seen to that for them. They take a much greater pride in their appearance, which is a pleasure for all of us, and for many people pride means inwards from the outside in, and that is very much to the good. If it can be said of a society that it gets the youth it deserves I think that this society clearly deserves well, but I should like to put it another way round and say that so far as our young people go we are in luck.
§ 11.12 p.m.
§ LORD ROBERTSON OF OAKRIDGE
My Lords, it is a tradition of your Lordships' House that the Peer who proposes a Motion is given the privilege of speaking again at the end of the debate, and I have given a lot of thought as to what profitable use I might make of this privilege without transgressing further on the patience which your Lordships have so generously shown through the long hours of this debate. I have decided to do two things. The first is, with great sincerity, to say, "Thank you" to all the noble Lords and noble Ladies who have spoken and to include in my thanks especially the noble Lords who have spoken from the Government Bench and who have dealt so meticulously and patiently with the questions put to them. It has been a memorable and exhilarating day for which I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, joins with me in expressing our sincere thanks.
555 The other thing I should like to do is to shine the light for a moment on something which has emerged in this debate; a thought, a truth, which has emerged from the speeches of a number of your Lordships. Perhaps the one which occurs to me as being the most recent was the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery, but I will show your Lordships what I mean by quoting sentences from the speeches of two noble Lords neither of whom is present now. They sat on these Benches within a yard or two of each other and those of your Lordships who remember seing them will agree that there could be no two men more different from each other in appearance, background, reputation and age. I quote from the speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Feversham, and the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden.
The noble Lord, Lord Butler, in fact, was making a quotation from a speech, a remark which is very well known to most of us, made by Mr. Dean Acheson. He said:England has lost an empire and she has not found a role.The noble Lord, Lord Feversham, said (I forget his exact words) that he was told to back Britain, but he did not know where Britain is going. I offer this suggestion to your Lordships, especially to those noble Lords who represent our Government now and those who hope to represent our Government in the future. Take away from this debate the 556 thought that the youth of England is waiting for Government, for its leaders, to give a clarion call. That is how it appears to me. With your Lordships' permission, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.