§ 4.2 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ LORD AMULREE
My Lords, one of the important things which is occurring now about the voluntary social services is that the need for and the scope of such services seem to be widening in a big way. I think this is partly because there has been lack of what one might call official accommodation and support both by the State and by the local authorities. To give one example of what I mean, nobody has been appointed to take the place of the relieving officer, whose duties were extremely complex and widespread: he did a great deal to keep in touch with people in need of help in the various parts of the country where he worked. I do not by any means say that that is the sole cause of the widening scope, but I think it is one reason why work that might be undertaken by more official means has to be done by the voluntary organistations.
The types of person I want to refer to particularly are those who might be called the social rejects—the alcoholics, the meths drinkers and drug takers. I admit that the Department of Health are now beginning to take some interest in the care of alcoholics and drug takers, but a great deal is being done by voluntary effort. The noble Lord, Lord Soper (who, incidentally, is extremely sorry that he cannot be here to-day to take part in the debate, due to the fact that he has another engagement) does a great deal to help these people. Another body with which I am involved, called the Cyrenians, 1164 helps with the supply of accommodation and voluntary helpers. If these facts had been mentioned not so long ago as being part of the responsibility of local voluntary services, people would not have thought there was any need for them and would have been surprised that they existed.
The voluntary organisations can do as much as they are doing now, if not more, in visiting the house-bound, and particularly the elderly and lonely. I do not want to say a word against the working of the domicilary services; they do a first-class job and keep quite a number of people comfortable in their homes who would otherwise need to be in some kind of the domiciliary services; they do a always seemed to me that if you are elderly, lonely and house-bound, one short visit a day on five days a week from your home help is not a very good substitute for your family and friends coming round to see you. I admit that it is better than nothing, but I feel that this is one sphere in which the voluntary effort can play a large part.
I think also that the voluntary effort can play a big part in the care of patients in hospitals. In saying that, I do not mean that they can do so by nursing in the exact meaning of that word; but there are a number of people in hospitals for the disabled, whether they are young or old, who need to be fed. The alternative is to feed them through some kind of tube, which nobody wants to do. A great deal of time is taken up by the nursing staff in feeding these people. Some of this work could be done quite well by volunteers, provided they turn up regularly and keep regular hours.
At the same time, I think that volunteers could do a lot to take care of people in homes for old people. At one home with which I am acquainted in North London one of the conditions for admitting someone is that a relative shall come to help with the domestic work in the home on one day a week. That solves several problems. First, it cuts down the expenses of the home; secondly, it serves to cope with the problem of the shortage of staff; and thirdly, it brings the family in contact with their relative regularly from time to time. In this way they feel that they are doing some work for the relative. So far as I know, this is only being done in one home in North 1165 London, but it seems to me that it is the kind of example that could be followed on quite a big scale.
Another difficulty for some of the voluntary workers is that they feel that they have no-one to draw them together and assist them. I know of a number of hospitals, I think about 140 now, which have a voluntary help organiser on the staff who can organise the voluntary workers and give a certain amount of instruction—I do not like to use the word "instruction", but they have to know a little of what they have to do—to people who are longing to help, but who, because they are entirely untrained and know nothing about what they have to do, have no idea in what way they can do so.
I was rather attracted by the idea put forward by the noble Baroness, Lady Serota, and I should like to read in the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow what she said in her speech, because I did not follow it in detail. However, it seemed to me to be something which was worthy of support, and might be a good way to assist the large number of people who wish to do voluntary work. The point about voluntary workers is that they have to supplement and be complementary to the paid staff. There is no question that the voluntary workers can entirely supersede the paid staff. One can see the way in which the two operating side by side can work. The Meals-on-Wheels service, in which the late Lady Reading played so prominent a part, and for which the Red Cross does such a lot, can now be carried out by the local authorities. If the two sides worked well together possibly one day we should be able to deliver on five or even six days a week, meals for those who require them, instead of on only one or two days as at the present time. Although this is of great assistance, it does not really solve the problem if you cannot cook or shop. What occurs on the seventh day I have never discovered: no one has suggested that the service should be extended to Sunday.
My Lords, that is all I wish to say on this subject at the moment. Unfortunately, I have to attend a meeting at 4.30 in another part of your Lordships' House and therefore I shall probably miss the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Gainford. This makes me particularly 1166 sorry, because his grandfather was a distinguished ornament to these Benches. I am sure we shall be very pleased to hear the noble Lord whenever he desires to speak.
§ 4.11 p.m.
My Lords, we are all grateful to the noble Viscount, Lord Younger, for the opportunity to debate this subject to-day. It is an important one and, I think, a peculiarly alive and contemporary one in our society to-day. It is also one which is close to my heart. That being so, I am very glad that my noble friend Lord Gainford will be making his maiden speech in this debate this afternoon.
As the noble Viscount, Lord Younger, said, amid a great many speakers there is, sadly, one voice that we shall not hear to-day, one shrewd and penetrating contribution that will be missing from our debate: that is the voice of the late Stella Reading. No one can have done more than she did to further the development of voluntary social service in this country, and no one, I believe, can have more perfectly exemplified the value and dignity of service of this sort to the community. Our debate is in large part about how best we can carry on and extend the sort of work to which she set for many years her totally dedicated hand. We must also recognise our debt to many others who have helped to create the promising and, I would say, positive climate in which this debate takes place. I have in mind, among others, Sir Frederick Seebohm and his fellow members on the Seebohm Committee. I have in mind, too, Miss Geraldine Aves and her Committee. Again, we have received valuable suggestions on voluntary service from the Rowntree Working Party on Social Work in Scotland and from many other organisations in this field. Together, these Reports—and they are valuable Reports—provide much of the intellectual framework for this debate.
I should like to make it clear from the outset that the encouragement of voluntary social service is high among the Government's priorities. We thought pretty hard when in Opposition about how we could best accomplish this objective, or help towards it. In our Election Manifesto we drew specific attention to 1167 the value of voluntary effort in the social services and we pledged ourselves to help its development. I believe that we are keeping our word, and I would refer your Lordships in particular to the speech which the Prime Minister made on December 8 to the annual general meeting of the National Council of Social Service. In that speech he set out the Government's view of their relationship with voluntary effort, and announced a substantial additional programme of financial assistance which he described as not "one single, limited initiative", but "as the foundation"—I would stress the word "foundation"—for a continuing and developing commitment to the concept of partnership between the Government and the voluntary service movement.The Prime Minister's speech is so central to our debate that I shall inevitably cover much of the same ground that he traversed and I really do not make too much of an apology for it.
That said, it would be quite wrong for me to beat any Party political drum on this subject. There is, I believe, no Party divide here, and what the noble Baroness, Lady Serota, said has made this very clear. I imagine that in this discussion most of us are on the same side of the fence with the angels, or so we believe—and that may make our debate perhaps a little less exciting than it might otherwise be. But it is reasonable for me to note the special emphasis which a Conservative Government, perhaps inevitably, place on voluntary social service and at the same time to give the Government's view of its partnership with voluntary social service. This is what I hope to do this afternoon.
If I may give the backdrop to our thinking on this matter, the main reason for the Government's commitment to voluntary social service is a very simple one. We believe that in the social field as well as in the economic field the individual energies and initiatives of our fellow-citizens should be released and encouraged so that people may play their full part in a responsible and involved society. Here, of course, I am not thinking solely of involvement in the social services in a more or less conventional sense, because the range of voluntary service to the community is quite enormous, as any Member of your Lordships' 1168 House who has been involved in this and has thought about it knows very well indeed. It embraces the work of a local authority councillor, a special constable, a school governor or a justice on his bench. And we also have to take into account all the day-to-day unsung and humdrum individual acts of good neighbours—spontaneous, unco-ordinated and unorganised. All this voluntary activity is of immense value in giving tone and quality to our society. But, as I understand it, in this debate we are concerned with just one of its major components: that is, more or less organised voluntary effort in the social field.
For many years now, voluntary organisations and volunteers have made a major contribution in this field and in a vast variety of ways, some of which have been already mentioned by the two noble Lords who opened this debate. However, they have not, at least for a century or so, had to cope on their own. Governments of all political complexions have rightly broadened the range of the statutory services over the years and, while we may disagree about the precise delimitation of the frontier between public and private responsibility, I believe that there is general agreement that the State should provide the basic framework and lay down the basic standards. This fact, as we see it, lies at the heart of the relationship between the Government and the voluntary service movement.
However professional in approach a voluntary organisation becomes, and however much it is called upon to act on behalf of public authorities in carrying out specific functions, certain jobs—and we recognise this quite clearly—can only be undertaken by the statutory service, by public authorities accountable to the electorate. So in helping to promote and encourage voluntary social service, we are not for one moment suggesting that voluntary bodies and volunteers should assume the responsibilities properly and rightly discharged by the statutory services. In fact—again I do not wish to get involved in Party politics—we have extended the range of the responsibilities taken on by the Government and the spectrum of the statutory services. Our object is not to cut back on the services. It is rather, as the Prime Minister said in the speech to which I have already referred,to create the conditions under which voluntary effort can thrive, under which more volun- 1169 tary workers will come forward, and under which voluntary bodies can play a more effective role in the community".As the noble Viscount, Lord Younger of Leckie, pointed out in his opening remarks, and as has been pointed out in the Seebohm Report and some of the other reports to which I have referred, the role of voluntary effort has not been reduced by the development and elaboration of the Welfare State and of our total welfare structure—far from it, in my view. As I see it, as the nation's social conscience becomes more sensitive, as the network of our social services becomes more extensive, as we increasingly lift the stone which covers social need in our society—the stone which has lain too heavily for far too long on social need—so increasingly we find that there is far more need than we suspected waiting to be met beneath that stone. I am quite certain myself that by itself the State cannot, and should not be asked, to do everything to meet that need. The higher the standards demanded by the community, the truer this will be. The statutory authority and the voluntary social service must therefore increasingly be involved in a joint partnership designed to met these needs and to fill the resulting gaps. In that ideal world in which none of us lives they would exactly complement and reinforce each other. In any event, in the real world in which we live they must, in our view, work together in as close a partnership as possible, a partnership which is certainly growing more complex every year, but which I hope is growing increasingly close.
In sum, it is my feeling that the main role of voluntary social service to-day, viewed in this context, is to help meet the needs of our society by complementing, stimulating, informing and criticising statutory effort in a number of ways. It can do this through example; through identifying and filling gaps; through pioneering new and effective ways of responding to need; through pushing out the frontiers of social endeavour and blazing trails where others cannot or do not tread—it is sometimes difficult for statutory bodies to skirmish out too far ahead in their own statutory field— through voicing community needs and aspiration, and through developing new forms of involvement between the citizen and his community. But voluntary effort not only helps us meet need; 1170 it also adds an extra and essential dimension to the social wellbeing of the community—a counter-pull to those centrifugal tendencies which are apparent in our contemporary society as they are apparent in almost every other modern industrialised society throughout the world. Indeed, looking back over the past two decades and forward into the next, one sees that it is possible that we may have passed the high noon of centralised welfare provision and be moving, willy nilly, into an era when more people will demand more say in the running of community services. Be that as it may, this Government want to do all they can towards building a stronger and more fruitful partnership between voluntary effort and public authorities.
For our part, I should like to make it quite clear that we recognise the independence of the voluntary movement. It would be the last thing that we had in mind to make voluntary effort in any way the handmaiden of Government. And I hope that we also recognise that voluntary effort is sometimes at its most effective when it cuts across our preconceived ideas of the way in which things should be done. Indeed, in encouraging voluntary service we are conscious of the fact that we may be consciously laying a rod upon our own backs, stimulating a nonconformist and non-establishment viewpoint. And that may be no bad thing.
There are, I believe, three things which Government at all levels must do to promote co-operation and successful team work with the voluntary movement. First, we must understand what voluntary effort is capable of doing. Second, we must be on the lookout for suitable opportunities for voluntary bodies and volunteers to bring their understanding and experience into play. Third, there must be a growing exchange of ideas and information between the government, both local and central, and the voluntary movement. For local government this means mainly a dialogue with individual local voluntary bodies. For central Government it means a dialogue with a number of national voluntary organisations—usually between individual Government Departments and those particular national organisations which deal with needs within their respective fields of interest. I shall revert in 1171 a moment to the matter of how best we might organise and co-ordinate these matters at the centre.
But, of course, departmental boundaries can never quite fit the changing pattern of social needs and possibilities. Many social issues will always transcend those boundaries, however often we adjust them. That is why there must also be close and continuous contact between the Government and those national bodies which provide a common source of information and help to voluntary organisations generally, both nationally and locally, and which try to bring together and reflect the needs and experience and potentialities of the voluntary movement as a whole. I can assure your Lordships that the Government propose to look for opportunities to extend the dialogue with the voluntary movement, and to make it as purposeful and positive as possible, while avoiding any action which might compromise the independence of voluntary bodies. We want more discussion of ideas for co-operation, and we also want to take a close interest, without too much grandmotherly interference, in the various schemes designed to inject more horsepower into the voluntary movement which are now under discussion.
Of course, it is not our job to tell our voluntary grandmothers how to suck their organisational eggs. But we have an interest in helping them to run their affairs as well as possible, and so we are concerned about the success of any central service projects which seek to help voluntary bodies to improve their effectiveness. I know that there are under consideration in various quarters ideas, for example, about management consultancy and the establishment of a new focus for information and research. The noble Baroness, Lady Serota, has brought a lot of first-hand knowledge to our debate this afternoon. That knowledge was underlying her remarks. I have noted very carefully what she said about the proposed volunteer centre. It would at this formative stage be quite wrong for me to make any commitments. As I understood it, the noble Baroness was not asking for that; but we shall be very willing to study any proposals which come forward to us as a result of her and her colleagues' deliberations in this 1172 matter. For that matter, as the Prime Minister has already announced, the Government will be ready to consider assisting new central services which may be developed to support voluntary effort, if these cannot be financed entirely from private funds.
When we turn our attention to the local level, it is clear that one important field of co-operation between voluntary effort and the statutory services is that of recruiting individual volunteers and then making the best use of their energy, idealism and enthusiasm. The Seebohm Report concluded that there was "a large, untapped supply" of potential volunteers. This has been strikingly borne out, for example, by recent experience in Scotland, where over four times as many volunteers as were needed came forward to serve on the new children's panels. So there is every reason to encourage efforts which aim both to encourage more people to volunteer and to match their abilities to particular needs and tasks.
My Lords, there is not, and in my view there should not be, any standard pattern for organising volunteers at the local level. No local community is the same as its neighbour in the range and amount of its needs for voluntary help. But, apart from this, each community should, in the Government's view, decide for itself how best to harness its potential since it knows as no one else knows its own strengths and its own weaknesses. But there is one way that the local statutory bodies are increasingly coming to find effective as a means of getting the need for voluntary help more clearly into focus and more widely known within their communities, and this is to appoint on their staff a suitably experienced officer with a full-time—and I would underline "full-time"—responsibility for assessing and making known their services' need for voluntary help and for working in close collaboration with the local voluntary organisations in recruiting, organising and co-ordinating volunteers to meet that need. This development has been particularly significant in the Hospital Service, and I suspect that my noble friend Lord Aberdare, when he winds up, will refer to our efforts to encourage this type of valuable activity.
In the wider context of voluntary work in the community, a number of local 1173 authorities have appointed staff whose primary task it is to create a climate in which voluntary effort can be stimulated to work in partnership with the stautory services. The Home Office, through the National Community Development Project and through the Urban Programme, and also the Department of Health and Social Security, in its own particular fields, are both contributing to projects designed to discover the most effective ways of furthering this partnership. Another development to which I should like very briefly to refer, and which is of increasing importance, is the setting up of local voluntary service bureaux, which act as a clearing-house for volunteer effort in the community. The Government believe it would be right to promote the extent and development of such bureaux so that many more communities could benefit from them. We propose to make a contribution towards a cost of this development. Indeed, as the Prime Minister has announced, we are ready to approve grants through the Urban Programme towards local authority expenditure in helping suitable voluntary service bureaux in areas of acute social need.
We are, as we all know, in the midst of a great reorganisation of local government and statutory functions at the local level. Following Seebohm and Maud, new social service departments have been set up, and local government and the National Health Service are all being reorganised. All these changes point towards larger, more complex, more powerful and more resourceful bodies, and this has led some people to fear that the importance of what is local and what is voluntary is bound to diminish. On this, I would only say that I agree with what I think the noble Viscount, Lord Younger of Leckie, was saying, and that I believe absolutely the contrary to be true. I believe that the emergence of these new and more powerful bodies will give much more opportunity for voluntary effort, properly deployed; and I believe, too, that it will be that voluntary effort, properly deployed, which will go a long way towards obviating the danger which is certainly there—the latent danger of these bodies being too big and too impersonal and not responsive enough to local needs.
Financial assistance from public funds strengthens the partnership between the 1174 statutory services and the voluntary movement. On finance, I would say that it is very difficult to give an exact figure for total public expenditure in this field, since this of course includes expenditure by local authorities and the National Health Service, as well as by Central Government. Nor is it easy to give (I see the noble Baroness, Lady Serota, smiling here, I suspect because she has met with this difficulty in her time) a figure for Central Government expenditure in this field alone, because it is difficult to define exactly what constitutes voluntary social service. Moreover, while direct Government subventions can easily be identified, a large amount of Government expenditure is incurred indirectly through local authorities and the National Health Service. However, on an admittedly arbitrary basis it was estimated that last year the Government's direct contribution to voluntary social service amounted to something of the order of £2½ million a year.
Your Lordships may recall that we have already decided to increase these direct grants by something like £1 million—that is, by something like 40 per cent—in a full year by 1975–76; and I suspect that my noble friend Lord Aberdare, when he winds up, will be covering some of the field in which this increased expenditure should be deployed. In addition, as the Prime Minister announced on December 8, on top of the increases already planned, the Government now propose that about £3½ million more in Central Government grants should be made available in England, Scotland and Wales over the next four years for voluntary social service and community self-help. Some of the schemes for which extra grants are proposed will attract local authority contributions over and above what Central Government are planning to provide. This additional expenditure will be phased so that more than half a million pounds extra will become available next year and progressively more in the three years after this. This strengthening of the financial sinews of voluntary social service represents, I suggest—and I hope that I suggest it with becoming modesty—really significant progress, because proportionately the increase is very great indeed.
The Prime Minister listed our main priorities for this extra help. I have already referred to two of them, our 1175 readiness to consider requests to assist new central services—services of the type which I think the noble Baroness was sketching out—and our wish to encourage the development of more local voluntary service bureaux. In addition, we shall earmark extra funds for the Urban Programme. Thus, we shall be able to give more encouragement and stimulus from the centre to local authorities to assist voluntary projects in the areas of the most acute social need. The next circular to be sent out to local authorities calling for bids for urban aid will include specific advice on this particular point. We are also prepared to approve an increase in the annual expenditure of the Community Relations Commission on grants to local voluntary organisations for experimental schemes designed directly or indirectly to help further acceptance and better integration of coloured immigrants within the community. Larger grants will also go to marriage guidance organisations. In addition, we are making more funds available for voluntary work in the after-care of those released from custody—the field in which the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, plays so notable a part. For example, additional funds will be provided for voluntary organisations to experiment with the rehabilitation of inadequate and institutionalised offenders who require sheltered work facilities as well as a high degree of what I think is termed "residential support". And we are discussing with the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders how we can help them to strengthen their regional structure and work in this field.
Another priority (and this was mentioned by the Prime Minister) is assistance to voluntary organisations in providing transport in rural areas where the needs are too small and too scattered to justify the retention of normal bus and train services. I know that this is always a potentially contentious field, and in my most contentious spirit I would merely point out that recent studies have shown the importance of this sort of effort, not least in saving old people who live in these remoter areas from all that isolation from the rest of the community can mean for them. We also know the really significant mark which voluntary bodies 1176 can make on the landscape and on our physical amenities. I myself happen to know—and the noble Viscount, Lord St. Davids, who is not here, knows better than I do—the part which young volunteers have played, for example, in restoring one of our great artificial waterways, the Avon and Kennet Canal, and the part which that canal can play as a source of recreation and pleasure for those who are lucky enough to live in Wessex. We propose to make more money available for this sort of project.
That brings me to the last of the main priorities listed by my right honourable friend, the encouragement of community service by the young. In some ways I think it can be damaging to consider voluntary service by young people separately from voluntary service by the rest of the community—and especially for long-term care I believe it is important for us not to appear to be "cashing in" on the idealism of the young, nor, for that matter, to put any idea of the value of voluntary work to the young above the needs of the people whom they may be helping. Nevertheless, community service by the young has certain distinctive features which make it reasonable for us to consider their contributions separately. I believe the most significant of these features is, quite simply, the remarkable increase in the last few years in the number of younger people undertaking community service—some at school, some in their free time, some in full-time service. Their range of work is enormous, extending to visiting elderly people, to some forms of experimental community development work which, while they may depart from traditional concepts of voluntary service, are understandable reactions by the young against a society which many of them, understandably, believe tolerates too much social distress.
It is not for me to speculate on the reasons why young people want to serve. Those reasons are fundamental and very deep and diverse. But what I am certain about is that what is needed here are challenging jobs and really worthwhile opportunities for community service by younger people. I am glad to say that the Government recognise this and that is why we propose to make additional funds available for encouraging voluntary service by younger people.
1177 My Lords, I have touched on voluntary service by the young. A great deal is of course being done by the not so young. But there is room for even more voluntary service, and more retired people will be available to give it as the proportion of the population over retiring age increases. Such people, people of mature age like me, may have special gifts to offer of time, experience, expertise and (may I say?) sympathetic understanding to those in need. The contribution of older people can be particularly valuable, and they themselves may welcome the prospect of responsibility and useful work during their retirement—which I am not looking forward to just yet, may I hasten to assure noble Lords opposite.
My Lords, for my part, I should like to take this opportunity of informing your Lordships that the Government, as employers, are arranging, with the full support and encouragement of the staff side (it need hardly be said) to bring to the notice of civil servants approaching retirement the needs and opportunities of voluntary service and, if necessary, to help them to find work of this kind which matches their interests and their experience. I know that this is being done by other employers up and down the country, but I hope that many other employers will take a leaf out of our book in this respect.
In these remarks I have sought to indicate some of the ways in which the increased grants which the Government have decided to make towards voluntary social service might best be deployed. We of course recognise that grant-aid is by no means the only important factor. Many voluntary organisations depend for their income on a variety of sources quite distinct from what they may get from public authorities: on charges for their services; perhaps on help in kind; on their investment income; on trust contributions and, perhaps above all, on donations from individuals and firms. This is a good thing, in my view, because it has left them with an independence and autonomy which, if they are entirely dependent upon a grant either from the local authority or from central Government, they would not have. We believe that the independence and the long-term 1178 vitality of voluntary bodies and their ability to expand their role in the community depend to a great extent on their ability to finance their work from unofficial sources of this kind.
Fiscal policy can have an important part to play in encouraging private giving to charities. I might mention here that the National Council of Social Service has just completed a searching review of this field. As the Prime Minister said, the Government are also studying this question to see how best to carry out our declared intention of encouraging the flow of private funds to charities. I know that the House will appreciate that I can say no more about this matter at present; it lies, of course, plumb in the Chancellor's lap and, as your Lordships will appreciate, this is pre-eminently the season of the year when Chancellors tend to go somewhat broody.
My Lords, in this field finance is important because this voluntary machine will not run without financial fuel. But it is not all-important. Likewise, organisation is important, albeit not all-important. Nevertheless, we have come to the conclusion that our organisation and co-ordination in this sphere can be improved, not least at the centre. I think the noble Viscount, Lord Younger of Leckie, thought that there was room for improvement at the periphery, as it were. We believe that there is room for improvement at the centre. That is why, in order to assist in, and push on with, all these developments, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has decided to designate my noble friend the Minister of State at the Home Office as Minister with special responsibility for co-ordinating the Government's interests in the field of voluntary social service. It is not the intention to supersede the existing close links between individual organisations and the Government Departments concerned with them and with whom they now deal. We want these to be as open and as fertile as possible. But my noble friend, who already is responsible to the Home Secretary for the Government's community programmes, will co-ordinate activity within Whitehall and provide a direct point of contact between the Government and the voluntary organisations—not on matters which affect them individually, for which they would continue to go to the Ministers 1179 concerned, including my right honourable friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland and for Wales, but on matters which affect them all. He will also deal with matters falling outside the recognised field of any one Department and, subject to further examination of practical arrangements, he will become responsible for supplying Government financial aid for national voluntary bodies whose activities span the whole field of voluntary service, or a major part of it.
My noble friend will seek, where it is possible and welcome to voluntary organisations—and I stress "welcome"—to promote the establishing of common services and improved administrative techniques. He may also arrange for research to be undertaken into general problems in the field of voluntary service. We hope in time that the Department of my noble friend will come to provide within government a focus of knowledge and expertise on voluntary service which can be made widely available. I am myself convinced that the appointment of a Minister with these special responsibilities—not least, if I may say so, since he happens to be my noble friend—will lend further impetus to our efforts to promote voluntary social service, and to promote it right across the board.
So much, my Lords, for finance—at least for the time being. And so much for organisation, although my noble friend may have things to say about organisation once he has settled into this extra saddle of his. But it is my belief that in this field the most important thing—more important than money, more important than organisation—is the Government's, the local authorities', the community's and the individual's general stance on this issue towards voluntary service.
In conclusion, may I emphasise the high value which this Government place on the voluntary social service movement, and on the partnership between that movement and the statutory services. May I also emphasise our recognition of the need for a fresh and open-minded approach? The partnership of which I am speaking will change and evolve to meet new challenges and new social conditions which perhaps none of us can foresee now. It must be flexible as well 1180 as vigorous. We shall therefore be open to new suggestions and new ideas in this area. This is pre-eminently a field—this whole vast and largely unexplored acreage of voluntary service—where we should all be experimental and flexible and open-minded.
That said, may I conclude by summarising the four objectives on which the Government believe a vigorous partnership between the statutory and the voluntary can best be built. First, we aim to help strengthen voluntary social service bodies. Second, we wish to promote co-operation between voluntary effort and the statutory services in a joint effort to meet social needs. Third, we seek to assist voluntary effort in making an even more effective contribution to society, both where it operates in partnership with statutory effort and where it operates independently. And, fourth, we want to encourage more people, young people, middle-aged people and people past middle age, to come forward to undertake voluntary work. These aims are closely linked. But it is the last which may present us with the most exciting challenge. For I believe that there are many people to-day, from the young at school through those who are in their thirties, forties and fifties, to the retired, who would be willing and able to join those who already do voluntary work in the community, if they were given suitable and demanding opportunities for such service. This is a potential in our society which cannot be ignored. It is a potential which we are not going to ignore. It is clearly in the common interest that the energies and abilities of friends, neighbours and fellow citizens should be harnessed to the service of the community. Because, as the Prime Minister said in a speech at St. Albans two years or so ago,In the end it is by our efforts as individuals, not as taxpayers, that we will be judged.
THE EARL OF ARRAN
My Lords, before the noble Earl concludes, may I express the hope that the suggestion which I made in the previous debate, that when the school age is raised the last year of education may be devoted at will to voluntary service instead of book learning—a suggestion supported by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Norwich —has not been forgotten?
My Lords, I well remember the suggestion made in that debate by the noble Earl, Lord Arran. I hope that in my remarks—and I fear that I have detained your Lordships too long—I at least indicated that we are approaching this whole subject with an open and adventurous mind, and the suggestion which the noble Earl and the right reverend Prelate made on that occasion will certainly not be forgotten.
§ 4.54 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF LEICESTER
My Lords, I hope that the long list of speakers will be some indication to the noble Viscount, Lord Younger of Leckie, of the appreciation that your Lordships have for the Motion that he has put before us. I did wonder whether the list of speakers would be almost confined to those of us who might be called the professional "do-gooders", but I found that was certainly far from the truth, and we have shown already a wide interest in this matter. If I may do so without appearing patronising, I should like to express my own pleasure at the sweetness and light that has prevailed in the two main speeches from the Front Benches, large parts of which could have been delivered from either side without any great revision. And I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Gainford, that if I have to plough through a rather laborious speech I hope he will not let this add to any tension that may be in his mind; he should rather think how pleased everybody will be when I stop and he can start.
The late Lady Reading, whose spirit I feel hovers over this debate to-day, said in one of her reports:Voluntary action is widely accepted as an important index of a healthy democratic society … vigour and abundance of voluntary action outside one's home, individually and in association with other citizens, for bettering one's own life and that of one's fellows, are the distinguishing marks of a free society. … They have been outstanding features of British life.This point of view has been expressed already to-day and is almost a common feature of many of the reports on this subject, including the Aves Report, which draws special attention to three aspects of the work of volunteers, voluntary workers, in this field. They are, first, the giving of time; secondly, the opportunity to pioneer into new fields, the freedom 1182 which a voluntary status gives as compared with the more limiting conditions of any statutory post; and thirdly the matter of permanence, because there is often a relative stability about the place of residence of the volunteer which in these days cannot always be predicated of the statutory social worker, for whom there is so much demand that mobility tends to be inevitable. It may be thought unnecessary to emphasise these points to-day, but there are reasons why even now it is important to stress the contribution which the voluntary element in social service can render. One is that the very development of the new professionalism of the social worker in itself tends to make some ordinary people feel that they cannot possibly compete in this field; and, of course, there are some professionals who do not readily welcome a contribution from one whom they must think of as an amateur.
There are certain social and professional services which can be rendered effectively only by volunteers and voluntary societies. Take, for instance, a statutory housing authority: in the ordinary way that can deal only with the housing available from the local authority, whereas an unofficial housing service can give help and advice over a much wider field. We have to recognise the enormous variety of possibilities in this kind of voluntary social service. In one London borough postmen have agreed to keep an alert eye on needs which become evident to them on their rounds and to call the attention of the local authority social services department to them. Milkmen have been called on, or invited, to perform a similar service. I hope that all this is within the union rules; it certainly is a valuable thing. In the case of the milkmen, they have undertaken the task of notifying voluntary street wardens of any unexpected needs and problems that they come across on their rounds. People in need should have a choice of services and not be restricted to the town hall or to the public authority.
The organisation of volunteers in all types of service is one of the most important problems, and I believe some improvements in this direction may be one of the results of this debate. May I give an example of this? The probation officers and police in a certain area 1183 were badly in need of landladies who would take in young adults who were either on probation or at risk. This required finding the right sort of landlady and matching her with the right sort of lodger. It was a skilled job, and not one which the probation officers and police could undertake. An experienced church social worker was found to do this work and was employed by the local Council of Social Service and paid for by the Greater London Council. Here we have the volunteer—if we can call the landlady that—the statutory services, the professional work of an agent of a voluntary society, and the supporting finance of a public authority, all working together to create a hopeful situation. I understand that this particular venture was thought up by the local clergy and negotiated by the Board for Social Responsibility of the Church of England. Many of us had a hand in it directly or indirectly.
In all these matters one has to bear in mind the enormous differences between areas in the country. In some areas where there is a rich mixture of social classes there is a vast amount of spontaneous service and a reservoir of capable people to be called on. In a new housing area, however, they are struggling to find a sense of community for themselves; and in a deprived area there are very few people indeed—perhaps only the parson and one or two others—actually living in the area who are in the position to do very much in the way of leadership in social service. Even here I have been told that it is very important to stimulate local neighbourly effort, and not simply to bring in people from the more affluent areas who have not any real feeling for the local community, such as it is.
There are certain common requirements if the total resources of the community are to be at the service of those in need. There must be—and we have heard from the noble Earl that this is Government policy—a complementary development of statutory social services, voluntary social service, and voluntary organisations. I do not think anybody has seriously doubted that that would be the policy of almost any imaginable Government in our country. But the difficulty arises, I believe, at local level where there are a good many rough edges in this matter of mutual co-operation. May I mention 1184 one very obvious ordinary little point which I know from experience is a difficult problem. Most social workers work what might be called an ordinary day, whether it is nine to five or nine to six, or something of that kind. Most voluntary workers can only give their voluntary service in the evening. Therefore, it is often very hard for the statutory worker and the voluntary worker actually to meet at a time when they are both available. Perhaps something could be done about that problem.
Then I am sure we need to go further in the provision of posts both on the statutory side and on the voluntary side, of which the chief responsibility will be the stimulation and the co-ordination of the voluntary work. I know of some authorities—I have heard of Herefordshire and Nottinghamshire, and there may be many others—who have appointed experienced social workers to be, as it were, the point of liaison from their side with the whole voluntary organisations. In some cases similar posts have been set up by councils of social service and other voluntary authorities—councils of churches, and so on. Here is a point at which I believe statutory authorities could lend enormous help to the voluntary societies if they could provide grants which would make viable the actual organisation and secretarial side. One reason why again and again voluntary efforts break down is not because there is not a fund of good will and a willingness to serve, but there is missing just that desk, that typewriter, the people who really can tie up the loose ends and make a thing go. I picture a development in the coming years whereby these two spheres of activity will each have, as it were, a kind of point of liaison, and then it would be possible for the current to spark across and something would really begin to happen in a much more encouraging way than normally happens now.
There is some unevenness between the local authorities as to how willing they are to use voluntary agencies and to support them financially. For instance, in Lincolnshire the churches receive substantial grants to enable them to work for unmarried parents and their children on an agency basis, but there is some anxiety whether this will continue when the Northern part of Lincolnshire becomes 1185 part of Humberside, in Yorkshire, a county which is not thought to be quite so co-operative in this particular field as Lincolnshire. I do not think that any directive from the centre would, or should, create an absolute uniformity in this matter, but any leadership that can be given from the centre to encourage local authorities to take a kindly view of matters of this sort would I believe be very helpful.
On the philosophy behind this, I accept the fact that all statutory social services are bound to be, to some extent, behind the latest developments of thought and understanding in these matters. It takes time—sometimes a few centuries—for the conscience of a community to reach such a point where it is willing and insistent that its organisation should provide for certain social needs. The voluntary movements, and individuals with a keen social conscience, are a kind of antenna, as it were, that reaches out beyond the agreed circle of responsibility and discovers new points that need attention. The whole progress of social service really could be analysed in this way, and it could be shown how again and again a voluntary discovery and conscience has eventually found its way into the policy of the whole community. So it would be accepted, and is accepted, that beyond the statutory services the voluntary efforts will be pioneering, discovering, and eventually feeding back into the whole community a sensitive conscience which will demand that the statutory services widen their field of responsibility. The great task is to enable the volunteers to make a contribution to the whole need, so that the total service rendered by the statutory and the voluntary services is much more efficient and thorough than it has normally been.
I have heard of a very good experiment in the County of Leicestershire (and I personally, from my knowledge both of the City and the County of Leicester, have nothing but gratitude for the spirit of co-operation that prevails there, particularly in the new social service setup which has followed Seebohm), where there has been set up a consultative committee. I quote from a letter from one of my clergy who, incidentally, has been asked to be chairman of that committee: 1186The purpose of this consultative committee is to make possible joint consultation, co-ordinated action and expanded voluntary effort in bringing together both statutory and voluntary agencies for social work at county level, and of encouraging local groups in the county which could link area social work teams and the people whom they serve and uncover and tackle local problems.My Lords, that is only one example that happens to have come to my notice, entirely accidentally, in a letter from one of my clergy a week or two ago. It is typical of what is happening, and of what we are sure will continue to happen, with the support of central Government whenever it is within their power to influence policy.
§ 5.11 p.m.
§ LORD GAINFORD
My Lords, it is my privilege to address your Lordships for the first time, and I should like to begin by saying how very grateful and appreciative I am of the kind words of the noble Baroness, Lady Serota, and of noble Lords who have referred to me in such an encouraging way. I wish to take the opportunity presented by this debate to speak about the activities of two groups of people, because their example must surely serve to encourage others.
The noble Viscount, Lord Younger of Leckie, has spoken of men being lazy in the matter of social work. The first group that I wish to describe to your Lordships is composed entirely of men. They work in the Kensington area and used to be members of the Civil Defence Corps. When the regrettable order came for that noble body to stand down, except for a small nucleus, those men continued to work and meet together to keep up the standard of their training. They became part of the Civil Volunteer Aid Service, and their intention is to be ready and willing to turn out and give assistance in any emergency. Their work gained them certain recognition from the borough council, and they keep in constant contact with the local ambulance service, so that they can be called out quickly if first-aid or rescue work is required. But not only do they specialise in keeping up the standard of what they learned in the Civil Defence Corps as rescuers or first-aid workers; they continue to seek every possible opportunity of serving other people, and they have arranged to do voluntary work at Brompton Hospital spending much of their spare time doing 1187 work which will help the staff, The odd jobs which they undertake may seem menial but they are vital for the efficiency of any hospital, since the hospitals of today hardly ever have enough staff to cope easily with the many Problems which arise, as was pointed out by the noble Baroness, Lady Serota.
The second group about which I wish to speak, and which may seem to have a little more exciting work, concerns amateur aviation enthusiasts. The world of civil aviation has changed a great deal over the past years and, compared with what it was before the Second World War, it is like a completely different existence. I can recall being taken by my parents to flying clubs when I was a boy in the early 'thirties. In those days, anybody who had a pilot's licence could take up either his own aeroplane, if he was fortunate enough to have one, or a club aircraft and could go almost anywhere he pleased. Nowadays, there are many rules and regulations to be observed, and in the South of England, in particular, the restrictions are quite severe. The areas and routes used by service and commercial aircraft limit the private pilot in where he may venture. Even a single cross-country flight may require very careful planning. Sometimes these restrictions seem to result in private aviators' being forced to spend a lot of dull hours flying round and round the circuits of their flying clubs in order to log the necessary hours to maintain their licences.
About six years ago, a group of frustrated aviators got together to see whether they could nut their abilities to better use. The result was the birth of an organisation named the National Air Guard. Here I must declare an interest, because I served on the committee of that organisation for a few months in 1968, and since then have kept in touch with some of its senior members. This National Air Guard has no relation to the Civil Air Guard which existed shortly before the Second World War; nor, as it name might suggest, has it any military ambitions. But it bears a certain resemblance to a service in the United States of America called the Civil Air Patrol. That body consists of volunteer men and women who give their services freely. They receive 1188 no salary, but they are fully recognised by the United States Government and by the civil and Service authorities. They carry out reconnaisance all over the U.S.A., including the coast, and can assist readily in any emergency.
The idea of the National Air Guard was to form a group of private aviators who could by voluntary service assist the police, the Armed Forces or any civil authority. The entire organisation is staffed by volunteers who have given their time, their talents and their money to help. Some pilots have allowed their own aeroplanes to be used. But it is not only pilots who are welcome. All those willing to fly as navigators, map readers or radio operators are needed; and, in particular, there is always a need of volunteers who will help with the administration and paper work on the ground. The National Air Guard operates at the famous aerodrome at Biggin Hill, and hopes that if it can extend its activities it may have bases at other aerodromes in the future.
At its conception, the members found themselves up against a strange obstacle. Officials of most authorities who were approached showed enthusiasm about the keenness of these airmen and airwomen, but actual recognition was another matter. For a while the organisation seemed to be viewed with some suspicion, as if there were something sinister—perhaps some ulterior political motive—behind it all. What is so ironic is that by going through recognised channels there are many ways by which a person can sell his or her abilities yet in trying to give them away meets obstacles. But many obstacles were overcome, at least partially. The National Air Guard is registered as a charitable organisation, and its President is that famous airman, Group Captain Leonard Cheshire.
I should like to tell your Lordships about some of the duties which have been performed. Great assistance has been given to medical services by liaison with hospitals, ambulance services, the Red Cross, the St. John Ambulance Brigade, the voluntary emergency service and blood transfusion centres. Medicine, blood plasma, medical personnel and equipment have been flown to emergency sites, and casualties have sometimes been flown out from emergency sites to hospitals. Along the coast of Southern 1189 England, patrols have been carried out to keep watch for any possible trouble. Yachting meetings have been covered in case any vessel got into difficulties. Patrols have checked for signs of water pollution and oil slicks, and a watch has been kept to assist H.M. Coastguard and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
Air patrols over the roads have resulted in information being passed quickly to the police when traffic has begun to build up, and some of the warnings given out by the B.B.C. about congested roads have sometimes been the direct result of a radio message from one of the National Air Guard aircraft to the B.B.C. Motoring Unit. The National Air Guard have also assisted the Forestry Commission; they have flown important documents; they have provided quick transport for V.I.P.s at all hours of the day and night; the police have been assisted by them in searches; and, in addition, they have helped in private and Service parachuting, and have assisted at manœuvres.
There, my Lords, are examples of the work of two kinds of people who wish to serve others. I have described them not only because of the illustrations they provide of what can be done, but to show the contrast. The work of the National Air Guard may appear to be more colourful than the work of those who go and work in hospitals, but both are illustrations of people wanting to serve others and trying to improve on what they have already accomplished. Where such spirit exists, it is a valuable resource which should be tapped efficiently and effectively, as particularly stressed by my noble friend Lord Jellicoe. My Lords, we have already heard valuable suggestions in this connection. It is hoped that in this debate we may discover further ways of tapping these resources for the benefit and encouragement of those who would give as well as those who would receive.
§ 5.22 p.m.
§ LORD WELLS-PESTELL
My Lords, I hope the noble Lord, Lord Gainford, will allow me to express on behalf of those noble Lords who will not be speaking in this debate—those who are going to speak can speak for themselves—our congratulations for what was, if he will permit me to say so, a very fine maiden speech. We have all passed through this experience and we know something of the feelings beforehand. The noble Lord 1190 mentioned aeroplanes. I think I am right in saying that if one has a trying flight, what one must do soon after coming down is to go up again. I am sure that noble Lords in this House hope that the noble Lord will speak again fairly soon.
May I say to the noble Earl the Leader of the House how much I personally enjoyed the content of his contribution to-day. If I say that he made some concessions, there is nothing hidden in that at all; but for those of us who are deeply concerned for the future of voluntary work in this country it really was a great joy to hear what he had to say. I am delighted that the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, has been given another hat in addition to the one that he normally wears. It is always a great joy to have dealings with him. One does not always get the answers one wants, but, nevertheless, he does give answers and also goes beyond that point by trying to do something about the matter. Those of us who have had dealings with him since he has been a Minister could not think of anyone better, and we are very grateful to the Government for putting him there.
Some twenty years ago Harold Laski said:We still have a stratum who hugely enjoy the power that comes from dispensing patronage and receiving with all possible profusion the obedient gratitude of its recipients".At the time, I think that was a fair comment on voluntary social work in this country. But I do not believe it is true to-day, for in the last 25 years there has been a fundamental change of attitude towards voluntary social work by those who are involved in it, although I must say that in some parts of the country, in country areas, it is not too easy to break into voluntary social work if you are not in the right group or if you have not the accepted background. In view of the changes now taking place in the role and the increasing responsibility of the local authority, this debate is, I think, indeed timely. I think it will make us consider three things—or perhaps I should say that I want to consider three things: first, the need for voluntary organisations; secondly, the value of the voluntary worker to the statutory social services; and, thirdly, the value of voluntary work.
The accepted role of voluntary organisations has been, and I suppose still is to some extent, to pioneer, to supplement 1191 existing statutory services and to provide special facilities to meet special problems not covered by the statutory services. On the whole, this has worked well in the past, and I think that, in considering the future role of voluntary societies in relation to statutory bodies, we must be careful in coming to decisions in case we run the risk of throwing away what amounts to decades of accumulated expertise over a very wide field. I am not suggesting for one moment that this will happen, but with the integration of the social services following the Seebohm Report, a good deal of this expertise could be lost by an over-emphasis, and an unreasonable emphasis, on professionalism. Most of your Lordships know that I attach considerable importance to professionalism in social work; but, having said that, we must realise that we have to take a reasonable view about it when we are considering the relationship of voluntary organisations to statutory services.
I think we must bear in mind that the shortage of resources, both money and suitably qualified personnel, in local authority social services, and the tasks which local authorities are now called upon to face, are turning the training of professional social workers into a generic one. This is a great pity, because I think in the future it is going to impose very serious limitations upon the professional social worker. We have to face the fact that no Government are ever likely to have sufficient financial resources to meet the ever-growing demands of the Welfare State in its entirety, including those services working through the local authorities.
I think we must also recognise that voluntary social workers can never have the training, nor the breadth of experience, to undertake the whole range of social services needed to-day, and even more so in the future. But the voluntary organisations could be used effectively as specialist agents, and their personnel could be used in that connection. Now I know that it is already happening in some areas. I ask the question, though I do not want an answer because I realise that it is not easy: How many local authorities in this country have bothered to consult voluntary organisations in their areas? How many of them have got together representatives of the various 1192 voluntary agencies in their area? I think they have had time to get together with a view to coming to some kind of arrangement. Local authorities would be in a difficult situation if they could not use the many facilities with which for decades voluntary societies have provided the community. I am thinking in particular of homes, hostels and institutions. Without them, what little good we have been able to do in the past would not have been possible. There will always be groups in the community needing specialised help which, because it is so time-consuming, it will be quite uneconomic for the local authorities to provide. I have in mind the problem families who need almost full-time help day by day, week after week, in the home. Such cases, as noble Lords well know, are by no means uncommon.
With the increasing responsibilities of the local authorities in the field of social services, there is a danger of their becoming so all-powerful—this may seem quite ludicrous to some noble Lords, but I think that it is a danger—that the individual will need some kind of protector in the future. Up to a year ago, if one could not get satisfaction in one department one could go to another. I do not say that this was desirable but it did happen, and sometimes something came from it. Now, with all our social services under one authority which has become an almost monolithic, all-powerful thing, the individual will need some kind of protector; and that protector may well have to be the voluntary organisation. We have already conceded the need for an Ombudsman in other ways. It is not difficult to fall foul of authority, as many of us know, and the voluntary organisations may in the future have a kind of watchdog role similar to that performed at the present moment by the Child Poverty Action Group in relation to family poverty. To be fair, I should say that this probably also applies to the citizens' aid bureaux who do a tremendous amount of work in this particular field.
In time the local authority social services will be able to meet almost all, if not all, social and personal problems, at least in theory. In practice, I think there will be a number of people who will hesitate to use the official services because the professional social worker 1193 may appear as the representative of authority. This again, I feel, makes it even more important that the voluntary organisations should continue. I know that no-one is suggesting that they should not continue; I am merely saying that I think their role in the future could become even more important than it has been in the past.
I think, too, that the voluntary organisations need to take a close look at themselves, to examine their own efficiency and effectiveness. I do not blame any Government for not giving money to a voluntary organisation if they are not satisfied that it is an efficient effective body. One must recognise that in the United Kingdom there are a large number that leave room for doubt in this respect. I also feel that the time has come when their scope and function need examination, for there is a great deal of overlapping. Who is going to do that I do not know. I do not suppose that any Government will have the courage to do that; but it seems to me that somebody ought to examine the scope and function, the effectiveness and efficiency of a good many of our voluntary organisations. I think it was the noble Viscount, Lord Younger of Leckie, who drew our attention to the 40 or 50 organisations in Scotland working for the disabled—with the 40 or 50 different overhead expenses. We ought not to be giving money out of the public purse unless we are sure that these organisations ought to be working or functioning independently. To do otherwise results only in a waste of money and effort.
With regard to the value of the voluntary worker to the statutory social services, I have already expressed the view that the lack of resources in money and personnel makes it difficult for the local authorities to give the continuous support which so many people in our society need. I would say that in the large majority of cases voluntary workers, in conjunction with the local authority social workers, working under the professional social workers could give the support needed. What is more, the voluntary social worker can give the one thing that the professional social worker has not got; that is, time. If we expect our professional social workers to undertake all the domiciliary visits that are necessary, such visits will be very few and far between, as many of us know. I 1194 think that the giving of time is perhaps the most important contribution to be made.
Some little research has been done into this matter. I do not want to be misunderstood by my professional social worker friends, whom I support strongly, but friendly visitors who have the time to sit and listen are often more effective than the social worker who can only just pop in and out. Many cases (I regret using the word "cases", but I cannot think of a better or more suitable one) do not need the highly trained professional. The highly trained professional in the service of our local authorities should be doing the diagnosis. He should be responsible for the diagnostic interview, and then, when he has made the diagnosis and come to some kind of conclusion as to what treatment—and I use the word not in the medical sense but in the social worker sense—is needed the case can be assigned to a lay person, a voluntary worker who has had very little or perhaps no training but who will report back to the professional and keep him informed as to the situation and what is needed.
My Lords, I believe that we have in this country an enormous potential of voluntary social workers. The noble Viscount, Lord Younger of Leckie, said that men do not do very much voluntary social work. I think the short answer to that—and I do not offer this as any criticism—is that the average man is caught up in the process of earning enough money to keep his wife and family. The stresses and strains of living to-day are such that the more responsibility a man gets, the earlier he leaves home and the later he returns. To-day, by and large, it is only women who can do the voluntary social work. Some time ago I was addressing a group of 80 young wives. When I asked them what worried them most they replied, "Boredom." Boredom with marriage?—No, just boredom! The children go to school at 8.30 a.m.; they stay to lunch and do not come home until 4.30 p.m. These 80 young wives said, "We have nothing to do." This is not unique to one particular area.
But, my Lords, I think that we must face the fact that if we want to call upon this enormous potential we have to recognise that they are bound to be involved 1195 in some kind of expenditure. I live in Oxfordshire, not far from Oxford. In most of the villages in Oxfordshire people are lucky if they have one bus a week—the noble Baroness, Lady Young, knows this. And the only people who can do the social work that needs to be done in some of the villages are those who have cars. Often they cannot afford the endless cost of petrol, or cannot do it at all if they are members of a one-car family. I believe that we could call on a large number of people, particularly in the rural areas, where there is still a great deal to be done in the field of social work, if only we faced the fact that the voluntary worker may need to be reimbursed in respect of certain out-of-pocket expenses. I am not suggesting that one should take them haphazardly. Of course there would have to be a certain amount of screening and selection to see whether the people offering their services knew their own limitations; whether they could sit and listen, or whether they would talk the whole time. But this should not be difficult. It has been done quite successfully in the Probation Service and other statutory services.
My Lords, I should like to say a word on the value of voluntary work, although perhaps it is unnecessary, particularly in view of what we have heard this afternoon. But recently a student in one of our universities wrote these words in an essay:You pay your taxes and the State will discharge your responsibility to your neighbour.I do not know the context in which those words were written; I do not know whether it was a criticism or a personal feeling. But voluntary work provides an opportunity to do more than just care for those in need, whatever their need may be. It provides every one of us with an opportunity to demonstrate not only our concern but also a concern which could develop into defending the individual should the need arise; and I attach considerable importance to that. In our community there are too many people who are inarticulate, who cannot make contacts, who feel isolated and who need help which I believe could be given by a voluntary worker. Also in our community we have far too many people chasing too few psychiatrists, a vast army existing on sedatives and tranquillisers.
1196 If they became concerned more with their neighbour and less with themselves, they would find themselves with a purpose in life and a satisfied existence. I am not going to suggest that we can empty the doctors' surgeries, but I know of experiments in which such people have been used in a scheme of community service and suddenly found that they no longer needed a sedative or a tranquilliser, or that they did not need to go back to the doctor. I think that that is something which needs to be explored.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ BARONESS HYLTON-FOSTER
My Lords, first I should like to thank the noble Viscount, Lord Younger of Leckie, for raising this question of voluntary social service in the community at I think a very opportune moment. May I also add my congratulations to those extended to the noble Lord, Lord Gainford, the maiden speaker. I thought the subject which he chose, of men in community work, was a good one because it is obvious that we could do with many more of them.
My Lords, the need for voluntary service is obvious, but how to make a success of it on a national scale is plainly more difficult. I wish to talk a little about health, welfare and hospital services and put to your Lordships one or two of the problems as I find them. The noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, referred to hats and to the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham. I should like to say how pleased I am that he is going to wear this hat, and I am sure that he will wear it very well. I would crave your Lordships' indulgence because in fact I shall wear four hats in the next few moments. First I would wear my own hat, that of the Red Cross. I have been asked by the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, to wear the hat of St. John's, and by the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, to wear the hat of the Save the Children Fund. Both noble Lords were present earlier today but have not been able to stay. I am, of course, also trying to wear the hat of the London Council of Social Service.
First, I should like to say a word or two about the volunteer; the need to select the right type of volunteer and to sort out those who want to occupy their time and those who really want to give service. The first group, those who want 1197 occupying, find it is largely for their own benefit, and if they are young I think they are probably better working in some project which needs physical stamina. But we must remember with all volunteers that the needs of those we want to help must always come before our ideas about the value of service to the people who need it.
The second group consists of all age groups who genuinely want to give some form of service. Their skill should be matched to the job so that they get job satisfaction. They may be divided into those who have already had some training or preparation before undertaking a job, such as members of St. John, the Red Cross and, of course, the W.R.V.S. The Red Cross and St. John members all have their preparation, and in some cases I am going to use the word "training", for the jobs they undertake. These include nursing procedures and hospital manners and etiquette. This is very important when they are working under professional people, not only in the hospitals but also in the domiciliary field when the Red Cross provides an intensive welfare service of great variety.
The welfare services are always based on local needs requested by the local authority and therefore vary from place to place according to the needs. Extensive first aid training is given by both organisations for their own members, and industry and business firms, quite apart from the public, to make them capable of helping themselves when no help is available. In both the Red Cross and also St. John young people are part of the parent organisation. They have full scope for their ideals and abilities, and grow up with a sense of caring about and belonging to something which really needs them. This has its disadvantages because, as they are part of another organisation, they do not qualify as a youth organisation and therefore do not come in for the grants that are given to youth organisations—please, will the Government note this!
Then there is the unattached volunteer. He or she is probably unskilled and really is a problem. Unattached volunteers have no loyalty to anyone; they do not like being accountable to anyone, and they are apt to give the voluntary societies in general a bad name because they are 1198 not reliable. The last group are the skilled. They are an absolutely invaluable source of help. Some of them may like to remain unattached and others may find an organisation linked with their skill which will give them a welcome and a sense of belonging. By "skill" I do not mean only professional people, nurses, doctors, therapists and so on. I mean people who are skilled in some particular thing. It may be in sewing, or singing, or dancing, or cooking—any skill that they have with which they can help a group of people.
Then there is the knotty question about voluntary organisations in uniform. Should volunteers wear uniform? Is it a deterrent? A distinguished headmaster of a secondary school (I will not give his name) thinks not. He thinks that this gives a sense of belonging; and he points out that even the "hippies" have a uniform. Your Lordships will have noticed that they always buy for themselves the tightest possible jeans, and as soon as they have them they give them a big slit up the front and cover it with a patch. They all have that patch, and that is their uniform. But seriously, there are types of job where a uniform is not right, such as in the case of confidential welfare visits. Here the visitor needs to be inconspicuous, and probably a little badge of identity would do.
How to recruit the volunteers is a matter that I should like to turn to in a minute. Before doing so I want to discuss how the gaps are to be found. At the present time, they are found in far too haphazard a fashion by the local authority, or sometimes by the voluntary organisations themselves. The Council of Social Service publish a borough directory of voluntary organisations and what they do, but, so far as I know, there is no-one who has an up-to-date list of the needs to be filled. The new directors of social services and the health centre staff are far too busy at the moment getting to grips with their new jobs to tackle the problem of the volunteer and the gaps. The Prime Minister, speaking to the National Council, which the noble Earl mentioned a minute or two ago, emphasised the need for the voluntary services to supplement the statutory services and not to encroach on what is the responsibility of the State. He accepted the fact that this would need more money, 1199 and encouraged the National Council to set up more voluntary bureaux. If these volunteer bureaux are to be a success there is a need to reassure the voluntary societies and groups that the bureaux will not start new organisations or become one themselves. Could we have an assurance from the Government that their policy will be to build on the existing organisations, if they are competent and flexible, and encourage them to expand to meet the immediate needs; to use their experience and expertise rather than starting up new organisations which have no background and no experience?
I have already declared an interest, but I have also been chairman of another informal group, the London Council of Social Services. They set up a Working Party to find out how the volunteer bureaux could work, and how they could discover the gaps and recruit the volunteers. It is plain, as I have said, that some gaps will be capable of being discovered through the directors of social services and the hospital organisers, with volunteers, district nurses, health visitors and other social workers. But, after discussions between them all, it has become plain that this will only touch the fringe of the problem, and that surveys will have to be made by people skilled in that art and with local knowledge, not by amateurs. We are planning to carry out a pilot scheme in a small part of a large county borough. But the problem is: who is going to pay? Is it to be the local authority, if they have enough money left after they have helped many other projects? Or would this sort of project qualify for a Government research grant? Until the answer to that question is known it is difficult to get anything started. But I was encouraged by the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, saying that this scheme might well qualify for a Government grant.
The Save the Children Fund have a particular problem here, as they have been asked by the Government to set up more play centres. They can get professional help, but they have not the money to pay for it: and they may well have to pay for accommodation where they can hold these play centres. I understand that the play centres are led by a qualified leader, who is a nursery nurse, who has an assistant. They have three 1200 hour sessions of 20 children from two to five years, a morning session and an afternoon session. One of these projects would cost for a year about £3,000. The money in the Fund is all earmarked for overseas work which has already been started. They would like to know whether this type of project would be eligible for a direct Government grant, or whether they would have to depend on the chance of the local authority having enough money left. I am sorry that I was unable to warn the noble Lord who is to reply about this matter, but I am only a stand-in for them and did not learn about it in time.
To return to the recruiting of volunteers, have the Government a recruiting policy? Do they intend to have a national campaign? Would they want to find the gaps first or the recruits first? All this costs money, and the voluntary organisations feel, largely, that their money ought to be spent on the services, not on a great publicity campaign which would cost far too much money if it were done on a big enough scale. So I am afraid I must still go on asking, who is going to co-ordinate the volunteers who do not directly join an organisation, and who is to try to prevent waste and effort by the overlapping of the services by voluntary organisations? For instance, in this City of Westminster there are over 150 different voluntary organisations. Is this job going to be given to the Council of Social Services, as suggested in the Prime Minister's speech, through the volunteer bureaux who are locally based; or are the Government thinking about this new independent volunteer centre which the noble Baroness, Lady Scrota, mentioned? I do not feel that there is a place for two of these co-ordinating bodies: they might well do good work, but they would both cost a lot of money. Would it not be a pity for the Government to put all their resources into setting up organisations to organise other organisations rather than to go on supporting those that are doing a good job of work?
My Lords, some guidance from the Government about these problems would be most helpful, so that we can all start on the right foot to find the gaps and the volunteers. I hope that when the Minister replies he will enlarge on the Government's intentions in this connection.
§ 5.59 p.m.
§ BARONESS BROOKE OF YSTRADFELLTE
My Lords, if the debate this afternoon had been featuring the possibility of your Lordships becoming members of a circus troupe led by the noble Lord, Lord Younger, no doubt we should have had a considerable amount of column space in the papers to-morrow. To-day we have listened to a fascinating account of the need for voluntary work, the way in which it should be carried out and the possibilities for the future. I am quite sure that because we have been discussing this subject in this way we shall not have one single line of report on what we have been talking about. I should like to add my congratulations to the maiden speaker this afternoon. He was so fluent and so fascinating that I forgot for a moment that he was a maiden speaker. I think that is probably the greatest compliment that I could pay him.
We have been much encouraged by the noble Earl's speech: the way in which he tackled the subject and gradually led us up to what the Government were hoping to do in the way of support—and in using the word "support" I would add great thanks for the fact that we are now to have a Minister at the Home Office who is to make this subject his particular responsibility. The noble Earl also told us of extra money that would be available in order to help the voluntary work to continue and develop. For all of those things I think we can be nothing but grateful. I am certain that success in this field of voluntary service imposes conditions upon both sides: on the volunteer and on those professionally engaged in social services who may be receiving the volunteer's help. In these days of shorter working weeks, earlier retirement, probably with a longer expectation of life, and labour-saving mechanisation in the home, supported by man-made drip-dry fabrics and varieties of prepared and frozen foods, one of the gains is that there are many men and women—old, middle-aged and young—who are able to swell the army of voluntary social workers.
At this moment in time we are on the brink of great things in the development of the social services in Great Britain; and because of that the need for the integration of voluntary workers is greater than it has ever been. Professionalism 1202 is very expensive, both in training and in pay. The tendency could so easily be to expect more work from fewer professionals, but we all know that this could imperil the objectives of trying to provide better and more comprehensive social services. This is not to suggest that the State can look to cheap labour to be provided by willing volunteers, but it is to recognise the fact that there are thousands of people able and willing to give their sympathy, skill, energy and time to help in human situations that need what they have to offer.
I believe that more hours of voluntary work are given to-day in this country than have ever been available in the past. Then, very often more time was given to collecting large sums of money to enable other people to do the work. To-day the individual wants to give practical help in the form of personal talents of heart and hand, and the gift in the present case is to a community served by professionals. To ensure that the gift is received intelligently and is then sensibly utilised requires a channel to be created between these two reservoirs of help. A volunteer working for one of the voluntary organisations or agencies will be much more valuable than the lone volunteer working on his own—and I could not endorse more heartily the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Hylton-Foster, when she touched upon this matter just now. For the volunteer, training or instruction and supervision are essential. As the techniques of welfare develop and we see new professional skills carried out by newly-skilled professionals, the volunteer helpers are keenly aware that good intentions are not enough: their work must be skilful, efficient and dependable. They see that they must be trained or instructed if their contribution of help is to be of any value.
One tends to think of volunteers in the social service context as the people who help in hospitals, who take round Meals-on-Wheels, who work in the canteens, the Darby and Joan luncheon clubs and the hospital shops, who drive patients to hospital and put in hours of duty in uniform during public processions or in crowded halls, who collect and despatch clothing and furniture, visit the elderly, the physically handicapped and even sometimes the mentally handicapped—would that there were more of these 1203 helpers! They also help with country holidays for children, with refugee problems and marriage guidance counselling, or devote themselves to raising money for good causes. One thinks of all those who work in any one of these fields. I could go on. All these voluntary efforts are valuable, and all the more so if they are carried out under friendly supervision and administration. As a one-time chairman of a hospital management committee, I was delighted to read in The Times of January 28 that the Department of Health is launching (and I quote):a drive to ensure that many more volunteers are brought in to help the old, the chronic sick, the mentally ill and the handicapped in hospitals.I read that:a memorandum has been sent to all hospitals pointing out the benefit of employing a voluntary help organiser. The intention. I understand, is that eventually there should be such an organiser in every hospital of 200 beds or more. Organisers will not only seek help from voluntary bodies, already doing sterling work in hospitals, but will seek out individuals ready to help.The existence of organisers of voluntary help in hospitals is not new. Two years ago there were 40 full-time organisers: by June of last year there were 120 and there are probably more now. But to cover all hospitals of 200 beds and more we shall need between 350 and 400. As has been said this afternoon, last year the hospital centre run by the King Edward's Hospital Fund for London held a series of meetings to ventilate some of the problems of using voluntary helpers in hospitals and the geriatric services. Professionals working in these services were brought together to explore the need for and the utilisation of voluntary help. The Secretary of State for Social Services told a meeting of voluntary helpers recently that voluntary help was being encouraged, but not to replace the work of paid staff. He was sure that many people wanted to give their help, but they needed to know what was needed and where.
This, my Lords, leads me on to the problem of how to make contact with these potential volunteers and, when found, how to use them. At one of these meetings held at the hospital centre, Miss Warren, the excellent general secretary of the Camden Council of Social Service, 1204 explained how her Council had tackled the problem of how to find volunteers. She said that nobody had found the final answer to recruitment: it varied so much from place to place. There was endless scope for research into the whole question of recruitment—why do some people feel an urge to volunteer whilst others do not? Why is there a big demand to give voluntary work from the 25–30 age group of young people? She thought also that continual reminders of opportunities for service were better than one short campaign that was soon forgotten.
The Camden Bureau, one of those referred to by the noble Earl and other speakers this afternoon, was set up to look after the situation, and under the guidance of Miss Hubbock—who, I am delighted to say, is with us in this Chamber this afternoon—they embarked on a campaign to find recruits, to sort them out and place them in appropriate settings. They had their greatest success from a leaflet that was placed in the public libraries. This was headed "To People Like You with Time to Give", and it printed a list of jobs to show the possibilities for voluntary service and details of how to contact the Bureau. The library leaflet produced replies from the young, intelligent persons living away from home. Many were graduates; all were eager; and this effort proved to be very successful. Then the Bureau also tried a desk in a departmental store to get at people with time to spare in the daytime. This has been their second most successful approach. Of 400 inquiries made through the departmental store appeal, two-thirds followed this up and one-third have actually started work. Advertisements were placed in the Press two or three times a year. Those in The Times Personal Column have produced what Miss Warren called a very high class of young volunteer. Those in the New Statesman and Private Eye have produced a number of volunteers to help on the holiday play schemes. All were welcomed. Advertisements in local weekly papers were not productive, though the editorial space in them was very useful.
The value of church magazines was limited because church members seemed to be fully occupied with church activities. A street stall had been tried, but this attracted more donations than offers of help. Posters stressing the need of an 1205 identifiable type of person were also successful. The Bureau did not attempt to deal with young people. They were directed to Task Force and Community Service Volunteers. There seemed to be a large voluntary source among the late middle-aged, who were perhaps newly retired or recently bereaved. The Camden Bureau kept a check on volunteers it had placed by writing to them and to the organisation for whom they were working for a report on how the job had turned out. Seminars were held for volunteers, and it was usual to invite a cross-section of those who had been on the job for about six months. Time showed that there should be a common meeting group for professional staff and voluntary helpers to help break down the barriers between them. There is, as your Lordships will be only too well aware, great suspicion between those in the job and those who would like to help from the voluntary side.
The Camden Bureau had started a monthly study group for organisations using voluntary help—that is, the hospital organisers of volunteers, representatives of the voluntary organisations, including the Patients' Association, and some hospital management committee representatives. At the start it had been thought that the group might run out of subjects for discussion; but it was still going strong after more than a year. Subjects such as recruitment, accountability, training, preparation for work, the relationship of volunteers to professional staff, the responsibility after the patients leave hospital, young volunteers, and so on, were discussed. The Bureau interviewed prospective volunteers to discover their motivation, their particular inclinations to particular fields of work, their time available and so forth. Volunteers were encouraged to suggest a minimum of time rather than a maximum. The interviewer, then made one or two suggestions and tried to discover from the volunteer what sort of work he wanted to do. The Camden Bureau has also started up a working party on training volunteers made up of 20 people drawn from a wide range of the social services. They are working out courses for the training of the different types of work needed. By the end of the year it is hoped to establish a standing committee on the training of voluntary workers.
1206 I have given your Lordships the details of what the Camden Bureau is doing because we hear talk of these voluntary bureaux and a great many people do not know what they are doing or how they are setting about doing it. So I make no apology for having given a detailed account of what one of these bureaux—the first though it is by no means the only one: there are 11 similar bureaux in London—is doing. It should always be made quite clear what would or would not be provided in the way of fares, meals and so on. The day of the wealthy volunteer is almost over, and in view of the high cost of fares, particularly in country areas, the volunteer needs to be sure where he stands.
The Camden Bureau placed 700 volunteers in a year with 80 different organisations. The most popular jobs were in hospitals and with old people and children. The least popular were driving, escort duties and work with the mentally ill and mentally subnormal. Volunteers need to get the feel of the place where they are going to work, and it is suggested that they should begin by offering only one regular half-day, or one evening, a week, and then gradually work up to more time as the job becomes more familiar. In the five years that the Bureau has been working the number of organisations and agencies working with it has doubled.
My Lords, one tends to think of social service volunteers primarily in the categories I have described; but there is another aspect of voluntary work which requires specialist instruction but is much less well known; the noble Lord, Lord Gainford, referred to it in his speech when he talked about the group of men who were working in North Kensington. I refer to the emergency services work undertaken by the big voluntary organisations, and I want to speak in particular about the work done by the W.R.V.S. The training for these services is approved by the Home Office and is given by emergency trainers and instructors. These are W.R.V.S. members who have qualified by taking an examination. Fire, flood, train or plane disaster; pile-ups on the motorways; sudden arrivals of refugees; large-scale emergency feeding; the opening of rest centres—all these emergencies see teams of volunteers on the spot doing what is required of them. 1207 When you are a voluntary worker engaged in hospital service or meals-on-wheels work you do it regularly, and your interest is kept alive by the constant use of your powers. There is no such regularity or reward for the emergency volunteer, yet the W.R.V.S. accounts throughout the country for over 54,000 of them. They know that in spite of all their hard training and efficiency there may be no crisis demanding them and they may never be used. But they accept the training, which involves self-discipline, and if the call for help comes they are ready to answer it.
My Lords, I am sure that Lady Reading, were she still with us, would have taken part in this debate to-day. I think it would be appropriate if I were to end with words of hers which appear in her booklet, The Philosophy of Voluntary Service:Great Britain is a Welfare State and is now in the throes of reshaping the statutory bodies which administer it. The integration of the voluntary service into the work of the statutory bodies demands that the volunteer must understand how statutory aid works, where voluntary action can participate, and how the volunteer fits into the pattern of the whole. Volunteers work in almost every avenue where assistance and help is required —doing trivial and also important things—helping alike in humble and in highly skilled ways. This is the integration of the community in terms of service. This is the recognition by the individual of his responsibility within the pattern of the whole.I wish we had Lady Reading here today, for I am sure that that would be her message to all of us.
§ 6.18 p.m.
§ LORD HAMILTON OF DALZELL
My Lords, the noble Viscount, Lord Younger of Leckie, in his admirable opening speech, referred to the wide range of voluntary social service in the community, and many noble Lords who have spoken since have given ample confirmation of that. I propose to concentrate on one aspect of the subject: voluntary service in support of those who have offended against the law. This falls into two parts: first, the help given to discharged prisoners by bodies which came under the aegis of the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders, through the medium of either individual associates, or the provision of hostels. I was delighted to hear the noble Earl the 1208 Leader of the House say that more assistance is to be given in that connection. I know that that subject will be admirably dealt with by the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge. He and I under the late Lady Reading, served together on the Working Party on the Place of Voluntary Service in After-care. It has been most noticeable how often her name has arisen in the course of this afternoon, and I agree very much with the noble Baroness, Lady Brooke of Ystradfellte, in her concluding remarks.
Since those days the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, has become the chairman of NACRO, and is clearly the leading authority on that work; whereas I have been in closer contact with the Probation Service. I should like to say something about the use of voluntary associates by the Probation Service, which is the other part of the work. Until recently the Probation Service had mixed feelings about the use of volunteers, and in some quarters there was definite hostility to the idea. This was based on the fear of two possible dangers: first, that volunteers might become too emotionally involved with their clients and would try to become amateur case-workers, something which could well have disastrous results in a field which is difficult enough even for trained and experienced probation officers. The other danger foreseen was that the recruiting, training, organising and supervising of volunteers would take up so much of a probation officer's time that they would be more trouble than they were worth. One can see the force of those objections, but it has always seemed to me that taking some of the burden off probation officers was only part of the benefit which volunteers could bring, and not the most important part, either.
I believe that if we are to develop more sensible and potentially more rewarding ways of dealing with delinquents, one of the first essentials is that the general public should have a clearer idea of the sort of people we are dealing with. We who are concerned with delinquents are in the same sort of difficulty as those concerned with the mentally ill. In confirmation of what the noble Baroness, Lady Brooke of Ystradfellte, was saying, there is still, in my view, a strong tendency for the general public to look upon criminals and lunatics as people beyond 1209 the pale, whom one does not want to think about, and certainly not to have anything to do with. But our objective is to re-establish offenders in the community. This involves not only willingness on the part of the offender to conform, but also willingness on the part of the community to accept him; and this is where I see the great advantage of the Probation Service's using voluntary associates.
In the first place, it is a good thing for the client to see that an ordinary member of the community is prepared to take an interest in his welfare and to help out where possible, as well as the professional whose job it is. Even more important is to disseminate among the public the realisation that most offenders are ordinary, rather inadequate people who are going to go on living in the community anyway, and are less likely to make a nuisance of themselves again if they are accepted and helped than if they are not. Of course, that dissemination will not go very far if one is thinking only of the volunteers themselves, who clearly represent only a tiny proportion of the population. But surely they will talk to their friends and acquaintances about their experiences and about the sort of people they come in contact with, and so I hope that gradually a different attitude of mind will develop towards the offenders among us. For that reason, I am very pleased that the Probation Service is coming increasingly to accept that voluntary associates have a valuable part to play in supplementing what the Service has to offer. It is not easy to say how many there are in the country, since the number is always growing and any national figures seems always to be out of date. The latest figure I have been able to obtain is 2,100. Certainly in my county of Surrey there are over a hundred, representing roughly two to each probation officer; and that I believe to be about the right proportion, at any rate to start with. The jobs they are doing include driving, especially driving wives to visit their husbands in prison; befriending the families of men in prison; finding jobs and lodgings for men coming out; befriending probationers, especially young ones, and borstal boys, including tuition of the poor readers among them, and so on.
1210 About a quarter of the Surrey voluntary associates are men, and I think it is satisfactory to have got as many as that. It certainly seems that far more women want to take up voluntary social work than men. Unfortunately, it is true, but again I think inevitable, that most of them are in the upper half of the age range. I wish we could get more younger ones, but it is very difficult. It is also a pity that nearly all of them are from middle-class backgrounds. It would be much better if we could get more from the same sort of background as that of the majority of the clients—and it is not for lack of trying. I think that most of the volunteers are picked up by probation officers through personal contact, but some have shown a preference for this type of work after taking one of the courses that are organised by the Council of Social Service for Surrey. We have been running these courses for some years now. They are general, introductory courses for people who want to take up voluntary social work, and they are devised to give a general idea of the various forms of work that are available and of the statutory services with which they co-operate. They are laid on in different parts of the county; at present they have a throughput of well over a hundred people a year, and this figure is limited only by the scarcity of qualified tutors to run them. Nearly all the people who take these courses go on to some form of voluntary work covering a very wide variety of matters and some, as I have said, go to work with the Probation Service. Incidentally, one of those who took part in our first course was inspired to go on to take a social science course at the University of Surrey and he is now a lecturer in the Social Science Department there—a triumph for our tutor but of course a dead loss as a volunteer.
So, so far as the Probation Service is concerned, the use of voluntary associates is going ahead. Of course there are problems. Some volunteers prove to be unsuitable, even after the most careful selection, and have to be tactfully diverted. Sometimes it is difficult to find the right job at the right time and the volunteer becomes discouraged through finding that his services are not being used. But at present there is no problem about obtaining volunteers. The only 1211 real difficulty is to get hold of enough people of the right kind who can be satisfactorily matched to the clients with whom they are going to work.
My Lords, I realise that the purpose of this debate is to draw attention to areas of deficiency, and in particular to point to ways in which the Government might be doing more. So perhaps I have been wasting your Lordships' time by relating what may seem to be a minor success story. But I know that the Home Office are in favour of and support the developments which are taking place in the use of volunteers by the Probation Service. We have heard more of that to-day. And, whatever dissatisfaction there may be among probation officers about other aspects of the Government's treatment of the Service, I do not know of any feeling that they are failing to do anything they ought to be doing in this particular context. I believe that the outlook is hopeful. We all look forward to a more sensible approach to the treatment of offenders, and an essential concomitant of that is a better understanding on the part of the public. Extended use of volunteers must help towards that objective, as well as helping through the direct support they can give to the work of the Probation Service.
§ 6.28 p.m.
§ LORD BIRDWOOD
My Lords, I am going to read the first part of an advertisement which appeared in the New Law Journal last year. It is a brief case history which is called Case 41. It runs thus:When Peter was 7 his father tied him to a bed and beat him with chains. It has taken five years of plastic surgery and three years at…"—and then there follows the name of the particular charity advertising—to repair Peter's body and mind. Strangely Peter loves his father with all his heart. He believes that the warden is preventing him from going home and vents his aggression on him. Peter is right. The warden is stopping him. For Peter's father has three women he calls wives and three families. Peter will never fit in. Until the emotional hurt of his beatings wears off, Peter will remain at…"—and again I am not prepared to give "special mileage" to the particular charity. What is interesting is to examine the quality of response which a spare little story such as that raises in anybody who listens to it. Suddenly everybody 1212 is a voluntary worker. The need to make amends, to help, is as near an abstract force as it can be, and our reaction to it is immediate, reflexive and humane.
My reaction to the noble Lord's Motion passed through three different stages. The first was unquestioning agreement. Taking issue with the need for a voluntary element in our society seems like questioning something that is as fundamental as motherhood. The second stage of my reactions went to the opposite pole. An uncomfortable cynicism urges me to distrust the motivation in any voluntary activity. I draw back from suggestions that the voluntary helper is feeding an emotional deprivation in himself, or that the volunteer must necessarily be a muddling nuisance in the smooth procedures of the State welfare machine. I emphasise that I draw back from those suggestions, but they must be thought of.
The third and last stage in my responses settled down to the usual kind of compromise, Yes, there is a continuing need for voluntary social service in the community. Yes, we should encourage conditions which nourish voluntary work. But we should find new ways to channel the energy and initiative which seem to be inevitable by-products of the altruistic urge into where they can be exercised most effectively.
I am assuming that the Seebohm Report is known pretty well word for word by the other speakers. My own tributes are to its economy, its self-evident humanity and its lucid objectivity, and they join with the praise loaded on it four years ago and since. The delicacy of the relationship between the voluntary bodies and the local authorities is described in Seebohm and one presumes that any local authority now recognises how carefully it must cope with this reservoir of goodwill in its domain. With your Lordships' indulgence, I will again quote extensively, this time from an article which appeared some five years ago in New Society, written by Peter Scott. He takes as his example the relationship between the probation officer and a volunteer worker:Now there is abundant evidence that the probation officer will, and already does, feel two ways about the volunteer. He will want him when the shoe pinches but will be quite likely to resent him when relief is obtained. Furthermore, whenever an official engages a helper he must feel responsibility for him, and responsibility is apt to cause anxiety. Selec- 1213 tion, training or 'preparation' of volunteers will certainly reduce embarrassing situations but will only set the seal more firmly on the probation officer's responsibility.I defy anybody to describe better the dilemma implicit in the relationship between the voluntary worker and the authority structure in which he is committed. But the description implies a stable relationship and I believe—or I hope, rather—that the noble Viscount's Motion is not leading us to a tame or a complacent voluntary element in the community. I need hardly repeat that the voluntary worker is an agent of social change. New conditions bring new problems and needs for adjustment, and it is probable, rather than possible, that the initiative for evolutionary reform will come from voluntary sources. We all recognise the cycle of reform, in whatever context we find it. The need for change is recognised, usually by a few like-minded individuals. They agitate for reform. If their efforts are successful there follows a general awareness of the need for a change. I would add that reforms, as all things, are susceptible to mode. And the voluntary worker is never tested so rigorously as when he feels that his work is not so much not needed (that can always be justified) but merely out of fashion. Anyway, the reform movement in due course establishes itself. It achieves its strategic aims; its influence is recognised and accepted and it settles down to its responsibilities as an institutional body. Reform movements are social inventions and subject to the same tests as inventions in general; that is, their success depends upon whether or not they fit into the culture, suit the public mood, and are workable. Groups most likely to be motivated to effect social change are those with a direct concern in a given problem. Awareness of a need, the energy of indignation, the urge for justice, produce a "heroic" phase where status loses importance, time spent and payment become insignificant and the extraordinary is achieved.
The voluntary worker, if he is lucky, will be involved in this stage of a movement. But, virtually for certain, he will be in conflict with the representative forces of authority. I do not need to recall examples: every day brings new ones. When I saw the Motion I found myself only able to think in statistical or demo- 1214 graphic terms. To counter this, I built myself a diagram in which the voluntary worker, as an individual, was at the centre of a network of pressures and relationships. I suppose the most important relationship is between him and the object of his attention, which after all is the cause of his altruistic involvement. By developing such a diagram we can include needs, feedbacks, responsibilities and criteria for continuing effectiveness. I suggest to anybody considering the problems of the role of the voluntary worker that such a model, if detailed enough, can be a permanent feature of the modifications in the relationship between the voluntary worker and the social services.
I read into the Motion this afternoon an implication that voluntary social service was under threat. There is a popular opinion that the need for voluntary work diminishes as the welfare organisation of the State becomes more elaborate. But of course even the most superficial glance at the existing voluntary bodies shows that this is simply not true. The assumption we must make is that there is a fairly stable percentage of people in any society who, however they are motivated, want to give back to that society some effort where reward is a low priority. This potential will find its own outlets, and indeed has an unusual capacity for finding new theatres for action and spontaneity. But what a gift we have here! And our responsibility as a society must be to encourage it. Society seeks the individual in a curious frame of mind in which the sentiments of its own laws arc mingled with other, purer sentiments. The ethic of giving is fundamental to the development of most societies, but it must be approached warily and manipulated with unusual sensitivity.
Following from the proposed volunteer centre I can imagine a new unit attached to the local authority machinery where the voluntary work potential can be directed and co-ordinated, and where waste and duplication can be reduced. The success of such units would depend critically on the quality of their staff, and such staff would not necessarily be seconded from within the local authorities. Even as an exercise in communication—and this point has been stressed in several speeches this afternoon—formalising the feedback from the two kinds of field 1215 worker, such units could perform a needed service. I should like to make certain suggestions, some specific, others less specific. The first is for a thorough overhaul of the training needs of voluntary workers. In my experience people love to be needed when they are working voluntarily, but often resent the time that must be spent in training them for that work. This time can be reduced, but it must be replaced by information systems which enable a voluntary worker to make decisions without the experience or formal training which his professional counterpart enjoys. With the necessary increase in systematic record keeping, training now must also achieve consistency between the record documentation standards of voluntary institutions and local authorities. But just as important is that the local authority staff should feel the "urgency of compassion" which drives the voluntary worker. This can be diluted, blocked or disappear altogether so easily if the constraints built into the procedures overwhelm the needs which generated them in the first place.
I should like to see a more public acknowledgment on the part of local authorities when they are delegating social service work to voluntary bodies. It is, after all, not a dereliction but a logical sharing of duties. The balance between local authority activity and the contribution of the voluntary worker is fragile. It can be nudged, not kicked. The new social targets are deeply different from those of even a few years ago. Hardship there is in plenty still, but now there are new, subtle ingredients of inadequacy and rehabilitation problems. But with co-ordination, and with the fervour we must never take for granted, the voluntary institutions will grow and diversify, to cope, to contribute and often to show us all where we are failing.
§ 6.40 p.m.
THE COUNTESS OF LOUDOUN
My Lords, I shall be brief. Voluntary organisations pioneered many of the health and welfare services as we know them to-day and, in association with the statutory authorities, continue to take an important part in providing and developing them. With the further expansion of care in the community there is likely to be even more scope for them 1216 since there is at the present time a national shortage of trained social workers in all fields. Most local authorities will admit that they welcome the help of voluntary societies and volunteers. The use is, however, patchy, depending on enthusiasm. It is clear that a fund of good will exists which needs to be both channelled and organised. There is an encouraging willingness in people of all ages and stations to help their fellow men and women. It seems that this is a response to something lacking in our society.
The voluntary social service movement has been given great impetus by the interest of young people still at school. Many carry out projects in their final year, and these include ventures in social services of all kinds. Most hospitals have had many people seeking to help, and in some cases it has been necessary to appoint voluntary service organisers to look after them and direct their energies into the best channels. A well-thought-out scheme is necessary, under a competent organiser who is prepared to go to great lengths to fit round pegs into round holes. When this is done, a great deal of voluntary work can be harnessed and effectively used to help unfortunate people requiring care and also those hard-pressed souls who look after them. But if you put the cart before the horse and send the eager volunteer in before preparation, you end with trouble. In places such as hospitals for the mentally ill and the mentally subnormal, where some of the work is hard and carried out under considerable difficulty, permanent staff who have borne the heat and burden of the day are upset when bright, enthusiastic, energetic volunteers tell them how to do it; and the resistance to volunteers builds up. Another area where volunteers are resented is in places where staff, through no fault of their own, are not able to do all they would like and are, perforce, accepting standards lower than they themselves know should apply. Such staff feel somewhat ashamed, and they react by being belligerent to the people who come and point out something obvious. Again the lesson is careful explanation and the right selection.
Another point is the importance of having the switchboard operators and inquiry desk people fully briefed about 1217 the way to speak to those who seek information about voluntary service. Nothing is more disheartening than for somebody to read that a particular service needs volunteers and then to inquire and be switched from one ill-informed person to another until he or she gives up in disgust. Unions, too, must be assured that volunteers will not take away people's jobs or try to do work for which they are ill-fitted. Finally, a volunteer must be given a real job of work. They are expecting to help, to be of real use. They do not want to be treated as an expensive ornament or a tame bystander. They do not want the easy jobs like arranging flowers; this will deter them and anger permanent staffs. If they feel one of the team, sharing the rough with the smooth, everyone will be happier and everyone will benefit.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ LORD SANDYS
My Lords, I, too, would like to add my thanks to the noble Viscount, Lord Younger of Leckie, for casting the terms of his Motion so wide and for enabling my noble friend Lord Gainford to make such a distinguished maiden speech this afternoon about an organisation which added a whole new dimension to the debate. I should like to address myself especially to a certain section of the Seebohm Report and its application to this Motion and, in addition, to two particular Government circulars. This is a rather more specific area than previous speakers have dealt with, but I feel that perhaps it should be mentioned.
The noble Baroness, Lady Serota, who herself, of course, was a distinguished member, of the Seebohm Committee, asked the question—and I think I have her words right—are we using enough women? To that I would answer straight away, "No, I am quite sure we are not". I recall that earlier the noble Earl the Leader of the House, was kind enough to say that suggestions would be welcomed. May I put to the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, who is going to reply to the debate, a small suggestion as to how one of the circulars to which I wish to refer, Voluntary Help for Hospitals: Appointment of Voluntary Help Organisers, might possibly be improved. In view of the fact that such a substantial number of women are prepared to 1218 offer their time as voluntary workers, I wonder whether paragraph 7 of that circular, entitled "Functions", could be improved. The local voluntary help organiser is referred to throughout that circular as "he". First of all, "it is his responsibility for organising and co-ordinating voluntary help". I wonder whether in future it would be rather a good idea to say "his or hers". Again, later in the same circular, in paragraph 10, we have even more forcefully, under "Accountability", "He will need suitable office facilities. He should be responsible direct to the hospital secretary". I feel that this is an area in which both men and women can play a very valuable part, and perhaps this is placing an unnecessary obstruction. But it is a small matter in comparison with the total value of this circular, and indeed its accompanying one, and I thank the Government and express my sincere pleasure for both publications.
The second circular, dealing with the liabilities and expenses of those participating in the programme, I think is a real step forward. Here is a real charter which should be followed by the local hospital management committees for payment and reimbursement; it really sets out in an extraordinarily clear way what they ought to do. I feel it to be a model of what a circular should be.
This debate takes place at a time when two most encouraging announcements have been made by Her Majesty's Government. I think it was only yesterday that the hospital building programme finances were increased from £500 million to £800 million. Despite the fact that inflation takes up a small proportion of this sum, this very substantially increased budget enriches our hope that the hospital building programme will bring with it an even further need for voluntary workers to staff, in the special way in which they hope to, the new hospitals being created.
I referred earlier to the Seebohm Report, and your Lordships will, of course, be aware of the famous Chapter XVI, which is really a sort of charter for the voluntary organisation. If I may trespass upon your Lordships' time I would quote one section of paragraph 495:Voluntary organisations pioneered social service reform in the past, and we see them 1219 playing a major role in developing citizen participation, in revealing new needs and in exposing shortcomings in the services.This is a most encouraging way of foreshadowing the whole movement which we have been discussing this afternoon. I heartily agree with what my noble friend Lord Birdwood has said in this connection, that it is really a generic movement.
I have only one further point to make in this connection, because I should like to contrast this Chapter on "The Community" with this recent circular—again the same circular that I referred to a little earlier. There is an anxiety which I think, as one interested in one voluntary service, the Red Cross Society, I should draw to your Lordships' attention. In paragraph 6 of Voluntary Help for Hospitals: Appointment of Voluntary Help Organisers, there is a suggestion that no hospital should appoint a voluntary help organiser until staff at all levels, and voluntary organisations and volunteers, have been consulted. This is naturally vital; but the impression it gives to one reading it for the first time is of rather more caution than one would perhaps like to introduce. I only offer this as a suggestion, and I feel that in drafting these circulars there is perhaps a need for some sensitivity of a rather special nature.
Finally, if one looks at the Seebohm Report, Chapter XVI, paragraph 500, the last sentence is most encouraging. This tells us:The department must include volunteers in its plans and it will have to show, in the training of new staff, the important role of volunteers.Training has been emphasised in several ways earlier this afternoon. The noble Baroness, Lady Brooke of Ystradfellte, has emphasised it in a far better way than I could ever attempt. There is a tendency nowadays to treat it in a rather cautious way, because it is thought that it might frighten volunteers from participating. I think we should be very much more forthright. I am perfectly certain that the volunteers who come forward in such large numbers recognise the need for, and are quite prepared to undertake, training, provided that it is not too lengthy. Furthermore, they will welcome the fact that, having submitted themselves to a period of preparation, they will 1220 benefit by having, if not a qualification, at least an advantage.
Two noble Lords have mentioned one field in which I have some slight experience, and that is the field of the mentally handicapped. I was interested to hear that among voluntary workers it was one of the most unpopular of all fields. I think this is largely due to the need to break down a psychological barrier. If one has not had the privilege of working in this special field previously one does not know anything about it. The mentally handicapped, are, I suggest, a Cinderella within the Health Service. If those who do volunteer can be encouraged to make brief visits to places where the mentally handicapped can be encountered—perhaps to a day club training centre, or something of that nature—it does a great deal to change an image which has become encrusted in the public memory.
Finally, the Probation Service has been mentioned, and I should like to close with a quotation from that almost legendary figure the former Lord Chief Justice, Lord Goddard, who wrote in an article:Your readers cannot fail to grasp the way in which voluntary services, be it as jurymen, magistrates, or representatives on Local Communities, has become traditional in England—far more so, I believe, than in any other European country.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ LORD BIRKETT
My Lords, I should like to add my voice to those who have already congratulated the noble Viscount, Lord Younger of Leckie, on introducing this debate. I should also like to add my voice to those who have congratulated the noble Lord, Lord Gainford, on his not only very fluent but very interesting speech. That is a word that is not so often used in connection with maiden speeches. Like several other noble Lords, I also must say to your Lordships and to the noble Viscount how sad I am that I cannot stay to the very end of the debate.
At the very beginning of the debate I noticed that the noble Viscount declined to define "voluntary social service"—perhaps wisely, because it is, I suppose, an area too big for definition. However, I suppose that we are, and have been almost all this afternoon, speaking of the "un-sunlit" areas of our civilisation; 1221 mostly of jobs that are difficult, unpleasant, and which we all agree ought to be unnecessary; the areas of our civilisation where the official part of us lacks either finance or compassion enough to cope. It is in this area that the voluntary social worker is so necessary and provides such willing help. I notice that there are very few areas in which this help, however willingly given, is consciously combined with an educative purpose. In these days we hear much about the necessity for education and, above all, for re-education. For my own part, every day I find it quite apparent that there is still more ignorance and stupidity in the world than there is malice. If re-education is so obviously necessary, it is perhaps in these areas of human activity that we may look for it.
One organisation which I wish to recommend to your Lordships this afternoon—although it may not be necessary—manages this combination in what I think is a unique way, and that it Outward Bound. I am sure that most of your Lordships already know of Outward Bound, but you probably know of it in its more conventional out-of-door garb; the running of courses for boys and girls in their teens, usually in spectacular our-of-door surroundings. Probably many of your Lordships can already testify to the effect that a communal life in these surroundings can have upon teenage children. Outward Bound is expanding into far more than that. It is beginning to run a whole series of courses that are more varied every day: courses for student teachers, sponsors' courses, overseas exchange courses, and courses known as "welfare courses" for people in care or people from borstal. Indeed, it is beginning to go out to local authorities and the county authorities, and to share its own experience with them and enable them to set up their own courses of this sort.
As it expands, and as its sphere of activities grows wider, nevertheless its appeal and its impact remain pretty much always the same. The appeal, in essence, is the effect of differing spirits coming together to meet a common challenge. The common challenge of a mountain that you have not climbed before, a canoe that you do not know how to sail, a map you cannot read, or a rope which is swaying almost too much to be grasped 1222 is a physical challenge. But how much more demanding for young people is the challenge of meeting these shadowy areas of our society which have been so well described to-day as the "casualties of to-day's civilization".
Outward Bound have invented a course for young people which plunges them immediately into the sort of experience we have been hearing about throughout this debate. These courses are called "City Challenge". Some test courses were run in Leeds in 1967 and 1968, and for three years now from 1969 these courses have been run in various cities. They last for three weeks. About 50 young people in groups of six—and I think this is significant—with one tutor per group, work almost wherever it is possible to work in the area of social welfare and voluntary social help. They work in mental hospitals and in institutions for the aged; they work for the physically handicapped and for deprived children; they work with immigrant children and with down-and-outs, amidst the most desperate scenes of drink and alcoholic addiction. They work in other areas which cannot be defined and which, happily, do not have such neat social labels. They clean out houses which people have allowed to become in such a state that they are almost uninhabitable. They have made playgrounds. They work in almost any area that can be found which will give them the experience by which they can give help to the community concerned.
I noticed very carefully, and indeed with much interest, that this afternoon the noble Earl the Leader of the House put his finger upon the danger inherent in this situation. He said, if I quote him aright, that one must be careful not to exploit the good will of youth in this direction; and, at the same time one must be careful not to exploit the miseries of others simply as an educative experience. I have been for some time thinking that this equation, this problem, this conundrum, as it seems to me, is an interesting one. So I asked deliberately of Mr. David Gibson, the leader of these City Challenge courses, how he viewed that problem and his answer was revelatory. He said,If that is a problem, then the system is not working properly. If it works, the mutual advantage of the young people and of the 1223 people with whom they are working is so exact that the problem does not have any bearing. It ceases to exist. It does not come into question.So far as I can see, it can work and it is working with City Challenge.
One of the most touching tributes to it is that, among the cities and towns in which there has been a course—and they range from Brackley to Cardiff, from Manchester to Edinburgh, from Pontefract to Bradford—it is in Londonderry, with the tragic circumstances about which we all know and which are so much in our minds and hanging over us, that the success of the course was such that when the City Challenge course was over the young people of Londonderry themselves instantly formed what they called Community Challenge, to continue the work that they had been doing in all of the areas, and, particularly, in the gloomiest, the most tragic areas of deprivation and sickness in the city. Especially, at this time, that is an encouraging sign. So I was particularly happy to hear from the noble Earl the Leader of the House that more money is to be made available to local authorities, particularly in the urban scene.
All organisations such as City Challenge hope ultimately for their own extinction. Their greatest wish in the world is that they need no longer exist, because the problem no longer exists. I think that is almost impossibly far off, but in the meantime may I urge upon the Government, in all their Departments, and indeed upon any of your Lordships who may have influence in this field, to sponsor as many young people as possible for such courses. I cannot believe that it is not a first-class experience for any young person. May I further urge upon the Government, particularly the Department of Education, and upon local authorities, to give as much help as they possibly can to one example of what seems to me a remarkable movement in social welfare?
§ 7.4 p.m.
§ LORD DONALDSON OF KINGS-BRIDGE
My Lords, we have listened to a fascinating speech. I wish that I were equipped to follow it adequately, but the field with which I am concerned is a less optimistic one than the noble 1224 Lord, Lord Birkett, has been discussing, and I do not feel I can follow his remarks, beyond accusing him of slight optimism in saying that ignorance is more prevalent than malice. I wish I thought it was. Anybody who saw the Frost programme on Northern Ireland the other night, will be wondering very deeply whether that is in fact the case—at any rate, over there.
I am very grateful to the noble Viscount for introducing this debate. It is appropriate that we in this House should keep our heads while the world crashes about us, while Embassies burn and power plants lie idle, and discuss this rather more remote subject—the machinery of progress. One of the main parts of the machinery of progress has always been the actions of what one could call the great unpaid—the tea ladies, the magistrates, the prison visitors, local councillors, and all the rest of them. The involvement of unpaid labour in our country's economy is extraordinarily deep, and we certainly could not run for one moment without it. I have often expressed the view that I should like to have nothing but paid magistrates. But when I was asked how the money was to be found I was entirely silenced; and, clearly, we have to go on with the amateurs for a very long time.
I am concerned with only one narrow field; that is, penal reform and aftercare. It was extremely encouraging to me to hear from the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, that he has a little money for us. That we can certainly use. I was also delighted to hear that we can concentrate our attentions in future on the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, instead of distributing them, first of all to the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, then to Mr. Mark Carlisle and then to Sir Keith Joseph. At least we know where to turn, and Lord Windlesham will not be surprised when I tell him that I hope to see a lot more of him in future. I should like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Gainford, on his maiden speech. It was a most interesting speech and he showed extreme ingenuity, while speaking on a subject which is described as voluntary service, in talking almost entirely about aviation. That is the kind of ingenuity which one hopes to hear again, and I look forward, as my noble friend Lord Wells-Pestell said, to hearing him at the controls later.
1225 I must draw one or two distinctions in the field I am talking about. When one speaks of the voluntary sector in this field, one means something quite specific: ventures, enterprises, experiments, whatever one likes to call them, which have been started by individuals and not by the State. As an example, the prerelease hostel system in the prisons is part of the Prison Service and is a statutory job, whereas the post-release hostels, of which there are many of varying degrees of effectiveness, are part of the voluntary system. These post-release hostels are run by voluntary, unpaid committees, which spend much time and often take quite serious risks on behalf of their respective ventures. So far one can understand the use of the word "voluntary". But the position then becomes complicated, because almost invariably voluntary societies employ professional staff which are often highly qualified. So the word "voluntary" must not be confused with "amateur". Usually, a professional probation officer sits on the committees in the Government's time, which is a further source of confusion. Again, many such enterprises receive substantial Government support, so that the word "voluntary" must not be confused with "privately endowed". The essential meaning of "voluntary" in the penal field is that the venture has been initiated by private individuals.
There is yet a further complication, which is that in this area we use the words "volunteer" or "voluntary associate" to distinguish the amateur from the professional. This leads to even more confusion. Within this field there are a number of volunteers who work with the Probation Service in giving personal attention of one kind or another to individual people in trouble. These are essentially amateurs working under the supervision of professional probation officers. They undergo a preliminary preparation, which serves also as a crude selection procedure during which the most obviously unsuitable can be weeded out, but no training of the kind which brings them into the ranks of the professional. These volunteers often combine this work with sitting on the committee of a voluntary society; but the two functions are quite different.
1226 In addition, we have the prison visitor, who is essentially a layman, pretending to no knowledge which experience cannot give, and overlapping both groups with increasing frequency. Then again, we have many statutory bodies which have voluntary groups attached: boards of visitors for the prisons, house committees for probation hostels, and, I suppose the best example of all, the probation and after-care committees, which are voluntary and unpaid but which themselves choose and pay the probation officers, though the money is provided entirely by the Home Office. So altogether it is a fair mix-up.
The movement of volunteers in this area is quite small: I do not suppose it exceeds 8,000 to 10,000 people. The workers, as some noble Lord said, are largely middle-class and largely middle-aged. I should hesitate to criticise them for being middle-aged, because I have passed that barrier; and as I have tried, and so far failed, to pass the other, I do not think I can criticise them on either ground. What we need to do now is to make efforts to increase the enrolment of what the Americans describe as the "turned-round offender" in the ranks of, particularly, the probation officers' volunteers. It is very important that we should gradually get these discharged offenders who have reformed into the list of prison visitors. So far, this has been refused in a very definite way, but I think it is important that, after proper screening, we should begin to put these people into touch with their colleagues, simply because the evidence from the United States is that this system works better than anything else. Obviously, it is important to be very careful that one crook is not introduced to another crook, but there are methods of screening these people, and it can be done.
My Lords, it is a fairly confused scene, but this is inevitable in an evolving society. The same thing has been happening, if I may give an example, in the world of opera. The Carl Rosa actually paid its way for many years by limiting its ambitions. The syndicate which ran the Covent Garden Opera House between the wars paid up the losses out of their own pockets. Sir Thomas Beecham's seasons were paid for by a happy combination 1227 of Lady Cunard and the Official Receiver. But to-day, under management no less autonomous than then, the entire losses are met by the Arts Council. It is a State Opera in all but direction; but long may it retain its independence! I quote this example to show that the same tendency, which is beginning to operate in the penal field, is one to be wooed rather than shunned. What matters is that the voluntary movement should retain its independence yet at the same time be given enough money to do what it has to do. The inexplicable mixing of statutory with voluntary, of amateur with professional, of privately sponsored with publicly endowed, seems to me in no way bad. What we want to see is that the things which need to be done are done. And who cares who does them? There is no virtue in the neat allocation of functions. Voluntary effort is none the worse for statutory assistance. In fact, in my opinion this is the proper chain of events. Every single innovation of importance—and this has been said earlier this afternoon—has come from the voluntary movement, from John Howard and Elizabeth Fry to Merfyn Turner, with his Norman House, and Douglas Gibson, with his Circle Club and Wives' Groups.
The first prison welfare officer, Frank Dawtry, known and loved by many of us and missed very greatly at the moment, was put into Wakefield Prison by NADPAS—the National Association of Discharged Prisoners' Aid Society—as a voluntary body, but note that his salary was paid to NADPAS by the Home Office. Now we have about 250 prison welfare officers, all paid—and I am glad to say a great deal better paid than he was—directly or indirectly by the Home Office. Here I should like to say to the noble Lord, Lord Sandys, that a number of these—I do not know how many—are women, and they fulfil this function extremely satisfactorily. The first hostel was started by Merfyn Turner about 20 years ago on money provided by the City Parochial Charities and others, and now there are about 120 such places of varying kinds, all receiving Home Office aid from £120 to £250 a place according to the service given. Some people fear that a 100 per cent, grant might erode the independence of the voluntary venture, 1228 but my experience with the family service units is that there is no correlation whatever between the amount of grant and the bossiness of the local authority. A 30 per cent, grant gives quite enough excuse to make difficulties if the personalities are wrong, but if they are right things go perfectly smoothly on 100 per cent.
One of the oddest things about the voluntary movement is that it is never officially asked to do anything. Ministers purr encouragement from time to time, but never make demands. However desirable the objective, the movement always has to battle for permission here, planning there, money everywhere; and months and years are lost in sheer frustration. Treasury officials set great store, for some reason I have never been able to understand, on the ability of an enterprise to extract charitable money from the public. This is an ability which carries with it no guarantee of virtue, and not infrequently a sniff of knavery. In consequence, half the time of very highly-skilled and expensively-trained professionals working for the voluntary movement is spent in a task which they find distasteful and are often not particularly good at, instead of doing the urgent and difficult work for which they have been so expensively trained. The idea that a plan's value can in any way depend on its saleability to the general public is really too crude for consideration. It would certainly be much easier to sell the birch than parole.
The voluntary movement is enormously strengthened, in my opinion, by being so closely involved with the Probation Service, and the influence is not only one way. It is vital that we should not allow the natural reluctance of careful civil servants to let ultimate responsibility out of their hands to impair this intermingling. The voluntary element supplies a touch of flexibility which may sometimes seem to amount to recklessness, but nevertheless is invaluable. The Home Secretary's intention to launch a chain of State-run probation hostels is welcomed by all of us, but this should not detract from the energy with which non-statutory solutions are pursued. The voluntary movement has already got a pretty good training system for hostel wardens under way, and it is to be hoped that this can be used as a base for the training which will be needed for the new probation hostel wardens. It would be a pity to 1229 discard the one because it was voluntary instead of building upon it.
The Wootton Report, Alternatives to Prison, and the new Criminal Justice Bill both envisage a vastly increased voluntary effort. I have suggested that the numerical involvement of voluntary individuals is quite small. I believe it could be increased to taste in response to specific demand—but only in response to specific demand. Many people need some counter to a seemingly selfish life but are wary of vague "do-gooding". That clear-headed divine, Bishop Butler, pointed out 250 years ago that man has two contrary but not contradictory tendencies. He called them the self-regarding instinct and the instinct for benevolence, and to thwart the one is as frustrating as to thwart the other. Those of us who are not psychopaths have this desire towards benevolence, and I think we need to exercise it. It is on this that the voluntary movement can rely to fill its ranks when the need is clearly stated.
There is a distressing lack of drive in meeting the increasing crisis in the penal field. The Home Office has been arguing for years with the Department of Health and Social Security over what to do about drunken offenders. Yet the voluntary movement showed them clearly what to do over five years ago, and the Criminal Justice Act 1967 actually made allowance for it in the foolishly optimistic assumption that some action would be taken. But none has; and the stage army of regular drunks continue their weekly procession through the prisons, as Lady Reading warned us, something like a year ago to-day, in this House. The problems of delinquency, of probation, prison, punishment, protection of society can be alleviated only by a determined drive making planned and imaginative use of all the statutory resources now existing and of greatly expanded voluntary resources.
The noble Viscount's Motion asks us to consider the conditions necessary for the success of the voluntary effort in the community. In this field the conditions can be summed up concisely: leadership, with a clear demand towards clearly defined objectives, close partnership with the Probation Service and adequate Government resources. Given these conditions, my Lords, the voluntary 1230 movement will respond effectively. Demand will create supply. If the noble Lord and his colleagues will clearly enunciate the demand, I will guarantee the supply.
§ 7.22 p.m.
My Lords, it is now over thirty-six years since I was first bulldozed—I repeat, bulldozed—into voluntary social service. The fact is that I was told to go into it by my then boss. He was a man rather like the centurion in the New Testament story who when he said, "Go!", you went—and quickly, too. So I went. I have been in voluntary social service continuously ever since then. When you have been in something for over thirty-six years, you are bound to see a number of changes and you are bound to gain certain impressions. I have two personal, merely personal, impressions about voluntary social service as between the last war and the present day. The first is that there are fewer adults who can give entirely voluntary service—I mean "entirely"; no bus fares!—than before the last war; and more young people, adolescents and the like. That was my impression and I decided to investigate the young people's situation.
In the first place, I turned to Eton College. This will interest my noble friend Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, if I may so call him, as we were there at the same time, as was also the noble Earl, Lord Longford, who once slicked me on the shins. I happened to know a certain amount about Eton because my eldest son, during the latter part of his time there, was head of one of the groups which carried out this voluntary social service. Having got the official information, I found that this social service run by Eton was far bigger than we had imagined. Nearly 200 boys in their free time—in other words, it is not part of the school timetable—do voluntary social service work. Here are one or two of the things they do. They visit the blind, they read to them, they chat with them, they do jobs for them; they do gardening and decorating for old people in hospitals they serve suppers and wash up; they look after children from broken homes, play with them and bath thcm. So much for Eton.
1231 In an exercise of detection which even Sherlock Holmes could not surpass, I discovered that not only the noble Viscount, Lord Younger of Leckie, to whom we are all grateful, but also my noble friend Lord Aberdare, my noble friend the Lord Privy Seal and another on the Front Bench whom I shall not mention, had been to Winchester. So I thought I should be in trouble if I did not investigate Winchester. I did so. I found there exactly the same situation. They have among the boys the same number, pro rata, in proportion to the size of the two colleges, carrying out much the same activities. But they have an extra one. They play chess with old people. They have always been regarded as rather a "brainier" school. Perhaps that proves it to be true.
My Lords, I want to leave the schools and turn to the national youth organisations. There are many of these. Today one heard one or two remarks about there possibly being too many of them; but if you look at all the national youth voluntary organisations you will find that they are usually organised in some kind of group which may be based on age or on sex or on religion. In my humble submission it would be a mistake to try to form five or six such groups into one. I can mention only a few to-day; but I want to tell your Lordships, after investigation, about certain youth organisations and what they are doing for the purpose of the noble Viscount's Motion. First, I would mention the National Association of Youth Clubs. They help the physically handicapped young people; they share courses with them; they clear beauty spots—and I need not remind your Lordships that it is adults who have left the mess. The members of the National Association run a chimney-sweeping service for the old and infirm—the noble Lord, Lord Cooper of Stockton, might have "got at" me about that, had he been here. They run an individual escorting roster to enable old people to shop in person. Then there are the Scouts. The Scouting Association help in hospitals; their members visit old people; they run mobile emergency aid teams trained in ambulance work, fire-fighting, traffic control, rescue work and the like. They go abroad to help in many places— 1232 for instance, the earthquake area in Sicily.
I turn now to the Outward Bound Trust, whose members work with drug addicts. They also help in hospitals, scrubbing floors, washing and dressing geriatric patients. They help with spastics and with maladjusted children. There is also the Young Women's Christian Association, whose members take part in best-kept-village competitions. They help in woodland conservation; they give Christmas parties for the less fortunate; they run recreational groups for the mentally handicapped and the like. Or take the National Association of Boys' Clubs. These lads repair and drain mountain paths in Snowdonia; they operate a red flashing-light scheme in old folks' windows. If an old person is ill or in need of help, all he has to do is to turn a switch; the light flashes and help is quickly forthcoming. The lads also distribute firewood to old-age pensioners, and, lastly, they visit young psychiatric patients, talk to them, play table tennis with them and records to them.
All these voluntary youth organisations, although they themselves are responsible for the greater part of their finances, receive Government grants. To-day I have touched only on one side of their work: there are many others. I should like to end by expressing the hope that Her Majesty's Government will feel, first, that these grants, far from being misplaced, are paying dividends; and, secondly, that the example of these young people will have beneficial reactions on the adult population.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ LORD BURGH
My Lords, is there not one essential condition for any effective social work without which the most well-meaning effort is quite likely to do more harm than good in the end? That condition is that the relationship between the helper and the person helped should be a person to person relationship, and not a relationship between an institution, a body, on the one hand and a social security number on the other. Given this, what is the result we aim for in any social work situation? First, obviously, the relief of need of some kind; and secondly, to enable the person who is being helped to achieve full personal 1233 development. In other words, to help them to become in reality the person that potentially they already are. In fact, it is the latter aim, full personal development, that seems to me to be the primary aim. If we think about it, do we need to concern ourselves with needs, with lacks, which do not impede personal development? What we need to arrive at for the person is a situation in which he has maximum freedom of choice.
Circumstances impose constraints on all of us, and we want these constraints to act not as fetters but, as it were, to be the structure of the game board by which the person plays out his life. We are all subject to varied constraints; our boards contain snakes as well as ladders. What is important is that there should be a balance. All snakes or all ladders make for a poor game. So perhaps we should try to think about our contribution from the point of view of reducing the constraints on the person, in whatever way disadvantaged—psychiatrically, by lack of money, by physical illness—until that person can arrive at a satisfactory structure of his game board. But until we know the person as a person how can we tell which constraints are acceptable, which snakes to leave on the board, and which are impeding the game? There are some constraints about which we cannot do anything, but we can help the person to work out a satisfactory adjustment, a satisfactory game, using the materials given. We can do that if we know accurately enough who is our person.
In order to find out who a person is we have to spend a lot of time with him. I think the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, made the point that here time is of the essence. We have to establish a two-way relationship, one in which we have something to give and in which we receive something in return. I should like to forget about social service as an activity on its own and try to find some arrangement whereby we could integrate the disadvantaged with the advantaged people, to the mutual benefit of both. For this to happen both sides must he members of the same community.
To return to the time factor, the time needed to get to know a person, I think that generally this demands a small community, something on the lines 1234 of an extended family, a living group, who are spending as much time together as possible, not just in their work or in their leisure but in a combination of all; to form a unit which also includes diversity. In this kind of situation many problems turn out to be psuedo problems. For instance, I think that in an extended family of this kind the problem of old people very largely disappears, in that old people can make a unique contribution which younger people, the parents of children, cannot make. Old people can make their own contribution to the bringing up of children. The mentally sick can make their contribution in opening the eyes of people to new ways of looking at the world, new ways of seeing the world. They can lead us to question our accepted ways of viewing things.
My Lords, one thing is certain in this, that people on both sides of the fence, the advantaged and the disadvantaged, will have to give up most if not all of their prejudices, those conditioned ideas that people have as to suitable roles for various classes of people to play. It is considered suitable for somebody who, say, is paralysed to remain in a wheel chair. But is it necessary? You start to question all these assumptions. This questioning of assumptions and the removal of prejudices is the same as restructuring a person's game hoard. Here it is important to remember that it is not only the disadvantaged person whose board gets restructured. In the group situation it is equally important that our boards—meaning the boards of advantaged members—also change their structure into one more appropriate to the actual situation, so that the structure within which we are living becomes less influenced by the images that, through education, through upbringing, we have built up in our minds—images of suitable roles for certain people.
A group can exist only if all the members are playing their personal variations of the same game. People who at present are experimenting with group living, extended family situations, tend to establish linear groups. That is not a very good phrase, but I cannot find a better one. Linear groups are uniform in most aspects—age, interests, motivation and so forth. The fact that these groups tend to be established on a linear basis is 1235 inevitable, because it is precisely these common factors that bring people together. But people are aware, and are growing more aware, that, as opposed to linear groups, lateral groups, which would include different ages, abilities and outlooks, are both possible and also desirable. They are desirable precisely in that they can provide a richer field of possibilities for all the members; a more varied game board. It is here that the disadvantaged members of the community can make a very important contribution. They can lead us to question what are fundamental assumptions about the roles and abilities of people.
What can we do to encourage the formation of lateral groups? I do not think there is much we can do in the sense of taking action. We can discuss the possibility; we can speculate; and we can try to work out in our minds what would be a good situation to arrive at. If by this discussion we can bring about in society at large an awareness of the advantages of this line of development, then I think we can be confident that things will start to slide in the desired direction. If we are aware of the goal, then we can take advantage of events as they come along which may lead towards the goal. If we try to push people into doing something—if, say, we take a group living on a farm in the country and say, "Will you please take two old people?" or "Will you please take two mentally handicapped people?"—then there will be no result. But if we are clear about the end state that we want to see established, then as events pass, as choices or turning points arise, we can turn in the direction of the state that looks from the present point of view to be the most satisfactory. Our perspective is bound to be limited. We can see where we want to go. All we can do is to be aware of any pathway that leads towards that point.
§ 7.42 p.m.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
My Lords, I do not know whether in life one has a foot on some ladder or is about to walk into the jaws of a snake, but whichever it is in my case, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Burgh, is there to pull me down or pull me out as the case may be. It is a pleasure to follow a serious and thoughtful speaker who has given such exceptional time to the subject as he has. The essence 1236 of a Wednesday debate, as I see it, is to be found in the variety of experience which your Lordships uniquely can bring to it. It lies, too, in the timeliness in the Motion for debate. Both requirements have been fulfilled to-day, and we can be pleased that to-day was Lord Younger of Leckie's day and grateful for the subject that he has chosen for us to talk about. I cannot, to my shame, count myself among the many of your Lordships who have given time to voluntary service. I hope that this malingering will one day be corrected. Meanwhile, I should like to try quite briefly to contribute to the debate by bringing to your Lordships' attention an area of social and individual life which desperately depends on voluntary social service and on public support for that service, and of which I have some experience. The experience is not a happy one; nor is the subject pleasant to think or talk about. It is the breakdown of a marriage. To-night I shall be talking of the current social phenomenon of marital breakdown and of the hard, indeed bitter, facts which connect this phenomenon to the subject of this debate.
Let me begin with a few of these facts. I have always thought that totting up statistical figures is one sure way of killing a speech and its chances of persuasion, but these figures are frightening, and to avoid them would be to dodge the whole issue. In 1969 the Registrar General recorded a total of 61,216 petitions for divorce. This compares, though not surprisingly with 4,000 at the start of our century. In 1970 the figure rose to 71,939—let us call it 72,000. The provisional figures for 1971 are 110,000. Many Members of your Lordships' House worked hard on the Divorce Reform Act three summers back, and you will be aware that this last increase—and it is an increase of about 53 per cent.—must have to do with the coming of that Act into law. Perhaps this high rise from a level frighteningly high is, in consequence, only temporary. No one can be sure. But it is bound to cause us disquiet, and it is therefore something that we must face up to and take time to talk and think about.
Nor is divorce the only measure of marital breakdown. If you take known cases of separation and desertion and add them to the figures that I have mentioned, and if you then project what common sense and common observation must project in terms of marriages which are only 1237 held together in circumstances of extreme stress—if you do all this, you are forced to the conclusion that between one-sixth and one-quarter of contemporary marriages in England and Wales have either broken down or are liable to break down.
My Lords, forget for a moment—and it is difficult to forget—the picture of private waste and frustration; of damage to the self-respect which individuals need to face the world and their lives with courage; of damage to the security and wellbeing which their children need. People in this country have a proper distaste for public meddling in private affairs and for investigations which smack of "Big Brother" or, almost as bad, "Big Auntie". I, from experience, share this distaste. But the phenomenon of marital breakdown is of immediate and practical concern to Government and Parliament. I believe that the Prime Minister recognised this when he declared in his speech on December 8 that aid to marriage guidance services would be increased. These services are largely dependent on voluntary counsellors, and so they fall well within the framework of our debate. We cannot. I believe, give too warm a welcome to the Prime Minister's statement, which was reiterated by my noble friend the Leader of the House to-day. Is it too much to hope that my noble friend Lord Aberdare, when he comes to wind up, could flesh this statement out a little?
My Lords, practical life begins, like charity, at home—with economics, with our national housekeeping. The sheer economic cost of so huge an increase in the breakdown of marriages is appalling. If your Lordships will, with your customary tolerance, brace yourselves for a further dose of figures, I shall give a very cursory indication of the economic sums involved. I owe my information to Dr. Jack Dominion, one of the pioneers of research into the causes of marital breakdown in this country and to whom I should like to pay tribute here. Dr. Dominion has calculated (and may I recommend his article in the Observer of January 16?) that in 1967 the then Government spent some £3 million on legal aid in divorce suits. This must be compared with the £62,000 or thereabouts which was spent by the same Government on grants to the marriage guidance councils. The proportion to-day, under 1238 the present Government, must be something like £5 million to approximately £100,000. Would not a little more money spent on prevention and cure, and on the analysis of prevention and cure, have the effect of eating into the £5 million figure?—a figure which we know will increase smartly this year.
I have mentioned legal aid only. Imagine the cost which the State incurs —and very properly incurs—in supporting divorced or separated women and their children, and in caring for—as it should care for—children from broken homes. Then there is the real and substantial cost to industry in terms of lost working hours due to severe marital conflict and marital breakdown. I do not know what all this adds up to. Indeed, I shudder to think. Dr. Dominion projects the cost of marital breakdown to the State, to public money, as being in excess of £100 million a year. I do not know if he is right, but if it were half that amount it would surely be too much. I hope that my noble friend Lord Windlesham, whom I congratulate on this welcome stretching of his powers and abilities, will cast a cold eye over the sums which I, perhaps emotionally, have sketched on the blackboard this evening. I believe that he will find much to disquiet him.
I should like to close by saying that, very warmly as I welcome the Prime Minister's statement that aid to marriage counselling services is to be increased, I hope that he and the Home Secretary, the Secretary of State for Social Services and, indeed, my noble friends here, will consider very carefully the case for channelling some moneys into marital research. They could be, after all, quite modest sums. Very often it seems to me that the call for "more research" is a ritual piety; a way of keeping threatening problems at bay. I am not anxious to postpone anything to-night. Marriage counselling cannot improve its chances of being effective until we know a little more about what should be counselled, or how one should counsel it. Without in any way challenging the rules and procedures of the institution of marriage itself, we need, in my view, a study what might be called the social pathology of its breakdown. For this marital breakdown is very costly to us in terms of human life and our national housekeeping.
1239 The excellent voluntary work of our marriage guidance councils and of the probation services—the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, mentioned this—which experience so much of the fall-out of marital breakdowns, needs a professional research structure behind it. And knowing, as we do, of the very great risks to which marriages contracted young are subjected, we shall be aware of the need for programmes of education for marriage. These can be conducted in the home (which is best of all), in the media of communication and within the existing educational services; but they demand a caucus of research from which to draw life and energy. My noble friend the Leader of the House talked of "the frontier between private and public responsibility" —and I am quoting his words. The human universal of marriage exists on this dangerous and fascinating border. It is there that the problems identify themselves and it is there that the improvements must be found. I welcome the Government's interest, and urge their continuing goodwill.
§ 7.52 p.m.
§ BARONESS YOUNG
My Lords, I very much welcome the opportunity to take part in this debate to-day which has been initiated by the noble Viscount, Lord Younger of Leckie. I am sure your Lordships will be relieved to hear that, coming at this late hour and at the end of the list of speakers, I shall be brief and try not to repeat arguments which have already been put. For nothing is illustrated better, in the series of fascinating speeches of different people's personal experiences and work in voluntary services, than the great paradox of our time, that although the provisions of the Welfare State are greater than ever before and are being and will continue to be extended, so is the need for voluntary work and the scope of voluntary helpers. This is not really surprising, for it is a point made not only in the Seebohm Report concerning local authority and allied personal services, but also in the Report of the noble Lord, Lord Redcliffe-Maud, on the management of local government.
My experience has been in local government, and I should like briefly to say something about the relationships between the local authority services and voluntary services. I look at my own 1240 local authority's social service department to see the number of voluntary workers whose help is welcomed in complementing and supplementing the statutory services provided. They cover those who formerly helped in the Children's Department, those in the Red Cross and the W.V.S. who help with Meals-on-Wheels. There is the vast amount of work done by the Oxford Council of Social Service, by arranging visits to elderly people in their own homes (and which at Christmas time arranged a special shopping evening for the handicapped, in co-operation with the Chamber of Trade) and of course many others as well.
In the education service—perhaps not one where one immediately thinks of volunteers except in the realm of youth and community services—parents are now actively encouraged to become school governors, and the Report of Lady Plowden suggested that all management bodies of primary schools should include among their number a parent. The play group movement, which is growing at such a tremendous pace to-day, is almost entirely staffed by volunteers, just as the library service has an enormous number of volunteer helpers to take books to housebound readers Indeed, I saw in the report of the Oxford Council for Social Services that there were 86 voluntary organisations engaged in social service, fairly narrowly defined. I make these points because I think that those in local government really appreciate and value the work of volunteers. It would be unfortunate if the impression were given that either the professional workers who often come into the work from the very highest of ideals or those who, like myself, are volunteers and come as councillors and aldermen in local authority work, are not motivated to do the best for the people they serve.
I think that service on a social service committee, which involves a great deal of time, thought, trouble and visiting by those who do it, makes people recognise that there is a very real, necessary and valuable relationship between the professional and the volunteer. Furthermore, I think those in local government realise the value of entirely voluntary work. Volunteers can pioneer schemes that local authority committees would hesitate to risk ratepayers' money on. I have in 1241 mind one particular scheme in Oxford—that of the Cyreneans, who have established a hostel for the "down-and-outs" of this world, which is run very largely by students in their spare time—and a very remarkable organisation it is.
I should like to touch on one aspect of voluntary work which I do not think has been touched on at all to-day. This is the link which the voluntary workers provide between the statutory services and the community. The emphasis in social work now is on community care, and quite rightly so; but whereas the community recognises the negative attitude implied by incarcerating the mentally ill, the alcoholics or the prisoners, in institutions of one kind or another, when it comes to establishing a community home in the middle of a residential district, people's feelings are not quite the same. I have had long experience on a planning committee, and I have known times when a planning application is made to change a large house into a hostel for alcoholics, discharged prisoners; or for the Probation Service or perhaps those who no longer need to be in institutional care or in a mental hospital. I have been round to neighbours and I have been told: "Of course, we see that there is a need for this, but really could it not go some where else?" And they have really quite extraordinary fears. I have had it put to me that their children would be attacked; that they themselves would be assaulted or burgled, or that they would have drunkards in their front garden. These may sound like exaggerated comments, but they have all been said to me at one time or another and there is not the slightest exaggeration in them.
It is at this point that the local volunteer, in whatever capacity he or she will appear, can do valuable work to reassure, to explain and to tell people what the boy in a probation hostel is really like and what the alcoholic or discharged prisoner, who is trying to improve himself is really like. This serves, it seems to me, to identify one group of people in the community and to bring the whole together by linking the statutory services to the community and making community care a reality.
I do not take the view taken by some speakers to-day that in fact we have voluntary services only because those 1242 involved in statutory work are uncaring. Quite the contrary. I think the two need to go together. The need for voluntary work is endless and will continue to be so, because it is perfectly obvious that the number of those needing help in society will inevitably increase. The number of mentally handicapped children surviving at birth and growing up into society is increasing, as well as the number of physically handicapped and of the very old—indeed, 1 notice that the average age in our old people's home is now just over 85. In my view, the need for volunteers will remain just as great in the future as it has ever been.
The second part of the Motion before the House today is concerned with the kind of volunteers that are needed and the conditions for their success. One thing is clear, 1 think certainly referring to the volunteers connected with local authorities—and it is that these volunteers cannot nowadays be people who want to have a cosy feeling of doing good when it suits their convenience to do so. In social service departments volunteers will need some training. They need to know, for example, when visiting a family, how to assess when they can deal with a situation or when it should be left to a professional. They need to be able to advise a family what agency it needs when a crisis arises. In a hospital no voluntary worker would be allowed to give medical advice; so in social work the role of the volunteer needs to be defined. In this way the difficulties which may arise between the volunteer and the professional can be avoided. Many volunteers will be most effectively used if they work under a qualified worker. Nothing could illustrate this better than the growth of play groups and, in my experience, especially for deprived children, the tremendous growth of adventure playgrounds in the school holidays.
Many professionals with whom I have discussed this subject consider that there ought to be one person in each organisation, whether it is a social service department or a hospital or any big organisation using voluntary helpers, who is ultimately responsible for organising the voluntary workers. The person appointed would interview and select voluntary helpers. In this way overlapping is avoided, and the voluntary helpers used most effectively.
1243 I have in my remarks deliberately re-frained from singling out the work done so well by so many young people because I do not take the view that the young are a race apart. If the energy and ideals of the young are to be used effectively, then they, too, need to be organised so that their time is not wasted and they do not think that work is being found as simply something for them to do.
I should like to end on a note about recruitment, because anybody who has had any experience at all of trying to find volunteers knows that there are certain things which volunteers always ask and it seems to me that they need to know. They need to know how much time they are going to he expected to give to the work. This should be quite closely defined, whether one day a week, one afternoon a week, or three days a week. I make no apology for saying that I think it is right to say something about expenses. I do not believe that anybody takes part in voluntary work expecting to make any money, but many people would gladly be volunteers if they were not going to lose any money. There is a real distinction between the two. I hope that when the Government come to look at the allocation of money to voluntary organisations relatively small sums of money will be given to defray the necessary expenses of volunteers. This could make the difference between getting a good volunteer and losing one. Many married women feel that they cannot ask their families to make this kind of financial sacrifice. It has a real relevance in getting a full range of volunteers.
I believe that we shall get volunteers—and do in fact—from all parts of society. This will come about particularly with the extension of education and the raising of the school leaving age. More boys and girls will come to do voluntary work in their last year at school, not, Heaven forbid! because it is part of the school curriculum, but because it is something that they would like to do. Having developed this pattern they will continue later on in life.
When one looks at the number of families, for example, who help children's departments by being foster parents one realises the tremendous resources that the community as a whole has to use. Volunteers need this help to know that their 1244 services are going to be welcomed and used effectively, and that they will not at the end of the day be financially worse off. It is only in this way that we shall get people who really are not that well off, to come forward as volunteers to give help to the community.
§ 8.5 p.m.
§ BARONESS PHILLIPS
My Lords, at this stage in the proceedings I imagine that to evoke a crowd of "Hear, Hears!" from your Lordships means that I am expected to be brief. Therefore, as I always like to fit in with those voluntary workers who are present, I shall be. I feel that it is particularly good that we should be discussing this Motion to-day. In a period when there is so much distress and sadness it seems right that we should be talking about people who are doing something that they want to do. This is surely an act of love. We are very grateful to the noble Viscount who introduced the Motion for the way in which he did it, with his great compassion, and also because he kept entirely to the subject that he was introducing. We have had such a wealth of contributions this evening that it would be wearisome if one were to cover everything that has been said by so many noble Lords. I should like to apologise most sincerely to the noble Lord, Lord Gainford, for not being in the Chamber during his speech, although I have heard the most ecstatic accounts of his remarks. Not only did he speak clearly and decisively, but the quality of what he said means that we should like to hear him again.
We are particularly grateful to the Minister for the announcement he has made. We are delighted to know that there is to be a Minister who will co-ordinate the voluntary social services. I wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, who is to reply for the Government can tell us what precisely the new Minister will be called. It seemed to me a slightly ominous title when the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, mentioned it —rather like the name of one of those plays that one sees at the Royal Court Theatre with about seven different words in the title. Perhaps the new Minister for co-ordinating voluntary social services will prefer that we know him by a short and affectionate title. I should also like to know from the—
My Lords, I apologise for interrupting the noble Baroness at the start of her speech. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, will be called what he is called at the present time: the Minister of State, Home Office. I see no reason why he should change his title.
§ BARONESS PHILLIPS
I see. So the rest of it will be in brackets. I well recall that when I taught a group of backward children, who were known as the "Remove", they were also known as the "daft class". A rose by any other name will perform the title for us! Quite seriously, we are delighted to know that in the field of voluntary social service this is going to happen. I tremble to think what the noble Lord's postbag is going to be like. I rather felt that the Minister invited this by saying that the noble Lord will be dealing with all kinds of problems. Perhaps after a short time we shall be able to distinguish which he will be covering and which will still remain ostensibly with the Departments.
I note that the noble Viscount used a rather wonderful phrase in his opening remarks when he said that voluntary service cannot be confined to narrow limits. This is how we see voluntary social service. The contributions this evening have shown that it is not confined to any narrow limits. For instance, we had the description of those who work for discharged prisoners, those who work in hospitals, and those who work with the young. I was delighted to hear the noble Baroness refer to the two areas to which I also was proposing to refer: those who work with the under-fives in play groups, and also in the field of education. I imagine that we shall be the only speakers to mention them to-night.
The Motion divides neatly into two parts: voluntary social service and the volunteer. Like most noble Lords, I have a background of tradition of voluntary social service. The Church could not exist—the Roman Catholic Church is not alone in this—without the whole band of voluntary social workers who carry out at all levels the kind of contacts with the ordinary members of the parishes. Then there are the political Parties. Nobody has mentioned these. Let us all this evening—and we are politicians of one kind or another—think 1246 of he whole army of voluntary workers who put the little notices in letter boxes and knock on the doors, but who, when it comes to being selected as candidates, are certainly not the people who get that privilege. We have a whole army of voluntary workers to whom we must all be grateful. There are local councillors. I do not think enough tribute has been paid to them. On the whole, theirs is a very unsung and very un-cherished occupation. So many people believe that local councillors either have a large Rolls-Royce at their disposal, or certainly collect large salaries.
As to magistrates, now that I sit as an unpaid magistrate with a judge, I feel that my voluntary social service is reaching an even higher level. But there is little doubt that there is a whole wealth of voluntary social service which goes on, day after day, and is all too easily taken for granted. Probably the most important single trend in the voluntary movement is the change of emphasis from the provision of services—for example, the Spastics Society—to the emergence of what we might call self-help organisations and those concerned with community action. We have, for instance, a number of consumer groups; we have community societies; we have community action groups. All these are distinctly different from the old conception of the voluntary social service which provided a service.
It is difficult to say why this trend is taking place, but I think it has several causes. One is the better organisation of the social services provided by the State. We have the powerful local authority social service departments, which will increasingly be the provider of services. That enlightened piece of legislation, the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act, actually places upon local authorities the responsibility to be the providers. We must heed the warning of the noble Lord, Lord Wells Pestell, that while the social services will be the providers, we in the voluntary social services must probably provide something which may well be a buffer against what may appear to become only a statutory social service. This again may be a changing role.
The voluntary social organisations will be more and more of a pioneer character, or a pressure group. There is of 1247 course an increasing centralisation of Government into powerful departments. Local government is reorganising and becoming more and more remote. I would put in a plea here that, while it is marvellous to have directors of social service and to have more and more powerful departments, in the end what we must look at is how many more services are provided; how many more home helps are provided; how many more hospital beds are we filling. We must not allow ourselves to be carried away by the fact that we have a one-level co-ordination at the expense of services at another level. Voluntary organisations find now that they need to re-spond by getting closer to what I would call the grass roots, and they provide an alternative channel for ordinary people to have access to those in power. Several references have been made to the volunteer bureaux, and, as I am one of those who had the privilege of working, not as a voluntary worker hut as a paid worker, in the National Council of Social Service I am naturally very proud to say that they have been pioneers in this field.
Nobody, so far as I can recall, during this debate has paid tribute to the whole range of the women's organisations. All too often they are described as the ladies who drink tea and have large hats. I believe that sometimes they are described as having large bosoms. That is probably why we had the reference to "big auntie", which I must say I rather re-sented. Somebody said it was bad enough to have "big brother", but when it came to "big auntie" I thought it was perhaps rather fortunate that my noble friend Lady Summerskill was not present. The women's organisations have run all kinds of voluntary schemes, largely quite quietly and without a lot of trumpeting, but with great success. My own National Association of Women's Clubs have formed very successful groups in mental hospitals for short-stay patients—links with the outside world which provide the people who are there with the very anchor they need when they come back to the outside life. I have seen them running luncheon clubs for elderly people; I have seen them promoting the play groups. All these things are functions which nobody needs to suggest to the members: they all come from their own inspiration. If we look at the vast scheme 1248 provided by the Women's Institutes for the markets, we can see that here was a real piece of voluntary social service and something that has spread over the years to very vast proportions.
In education, as the noble Baroness, Lady Young, mentioned, enlightened schools are now receiving voluntary workers, and this is something that I hope we shall encourage more and more. I can think of two such schools: one where they use the voluntary social worker as a teacher for the immigrant children, and the other where they use the voluntary workers to assist with the backward readers and also act as support for the teachers. We must remember that, with our schools becoming so much larger and with so many more children of different kinds being housed under one roof, there will probably be more and more need for greater support for the teaching profession.
What should the volunteers be given? On that we have had various suggestions. I would throw in only my small comment. I think the volunteer must be given a proper status in relation to the paid worker. I have known people who have actually trained to become paid workers because, they said, nobody took much notice of people who were unpaid. In fact, in the modern world there is a slight tendency to think, "If you are so good at it, why aren't you doing it for money?" So we have to look to the relationship of the paid worker and the volunteer, and make sure that the volunteer is given status. This point, of course, is linked very clearly with training. In some respects the volunteer has very real status. He or she is mentioned in Acts of Parliament. This was so in the Bill we considered yesterday, the National Health Service (Scotland) Bill, which referred to the support to the National Health Service of the voluntary organisations. We are even given a definition of "voluntary organisations":organisations which carry out activities for other than profit".I must say that all the voluntary organisations I have ever been with certainly conform very much to that definition.
We must not overlook the whole wealth of voluntary service that is given by all sorts of ordinary people to various Government boards, whether set up ad hocor of a permanent character. I have just 1249 agreed to help on a sub-committee of the Metrication Board, and I notice that in their report they refer to the help and support from voluntary members of the committee. We are certainly voluntary, my Lords, because I notice that the money that is given to us, assuming that we are away from home for over five hours, is 0.048p. So it seems to me that there is no problem there of anybody being coerced by love of filthy lucre. We need to create the right climate of opinion concerning voluntary work. This is essential if we are to bring in the young people. Sometimes people make voluntary work seem rather dull, and I must say that I was a little startled to hear the suggestion from one noble Lord that the bereaved might like to do unpaid work with the chronic sick. I suggest that that is one time of a person's life when he or she would probably not want that kind of voluntary work.
We must match up the voluntary work not only with the skills of the volunteer but also with the needs of the volunteer at a particular moment; and we must attract people to voluntary work by making it the exciting proposition that it can be. Particularly with the young, they have to be intrigued and excited and interested.
I hope we shall remember that it is not only the graduates and the people in training colleges who can participate in the schemes for the young. I am concerned with one of the Catholic youth groups and they have particularly gone for the boys and girls coming from the secondary modern schools who have no "A" or "0" level passes yet have a great deal to give. They are being utilised in voluntary social service schemes. And not only the young, as we have heard, but the middle-aged, and of course those who are retired, must also be considered. I speak constantly at pre-retirement association meetings, and I find it very sad that here is a great wealth of talent and skill which is probably going to be wasted because no one is there to channel it into voluntary social services. We—and the Government, particularly, can probably set a pattern here—need to encourage commerce and industry to allow people to do voluntary social service during the period of their working lives. It is often too late if we 1250 wait until they retire. How else can we man our magisterial benches with young people if they are not allowed to take even one day off a fortnight or a month in order to do these things? So much voluntary social service takes place during the day, and we must show a large firm or a large organisation that it is to their credit that members of their staff should perform voluntary social service during their working time. This we need to bring more and more to the attention of the large concerns.
We need to encourage new and different movements by giving them much more help than they receive at present. I watch my own young daughter-in-law struggling to start a drama workshop for children and getting no help or encouragement from the statutory authorities because she does not neatly fit in with the description of a youth group or a children's group, and I think of the local girls whom I helped to start an adventure playground and they got no help or encouragement because they did not neatly fit in to the expected pattern. The most exciting pioneer projects are usually undertaken by people who do not fit in to a neat pattern. They give their time and energy but they cannot necessarily give their money; nor indeed have they the time to raise the money.
My Lords, I will conclude with some words which I thought were extremely compassionate and which I feel set the scene of our debate to-day:The individual response which fulfils a deep human instinct has often been the need from which great movements have grown to combat social distress, to fight for those who need help and to awaken the conscience of the nation. Voluntary effort not only helps us to right social wrongs, to widen and improve services, to protect and care for people; it enriches the life of the community as a whole.Those were the words of the Prime Minister when speaking to the National Council of Social Service, and I believe that the Government can and must encourage the whole scene of voluntary social service.
§ 8.22 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL SECURITY (LORD ABERDARE)
My Lords, I rise to wind up this debate with great reluctance. I am 1251 sure that all your Lordships have found it a most fascinating debate and. like me, despite the hour are sorry that it is coming to an end. In the second place I find my task extremely difficult, and in the third place it seems to me that my noble friend Lord Windlesham, with his new duties although without a new title, should really be doing this job for me. It has been a wide-ranging debate, and this is surely as it should be for we arc fortunate in this country in having such a rich reserve of voluntary effort which plays a most useful part in every aspect of our community life. I doubt whether there is any Government Department that is not affected to some extent by the contribution made to its objectives by voluntary workers. I am sure this is one of the reasons why so many of your Lordships have heard with approval the announcement made by my noble friend the Leader of the House earlier in this debate that the Government had decided to designate my noble friend Lord Windlesham as a co-ordinating Minister for voluntary social service.
But your Lordships will recognise that I have a very particular departmental interest in this subject and I hope you will forgive me if, before I try to answer a few of the points that have been made in the course of the debate, I say something about the way in which the Department of Health and Social Security is seeking to encourage voluntary service. For the very reason that was given by my noble friend in speaking of Government policy in general, we fully appreciate the value of the contribution that voluntary service can make in the field of health and social services. It is not just that volunteers bring practical help to services that are often under-manned, but also that they can bring a particularly human, personal influence to bear on the many individual cases that come within the purview of my Department. We come increasingly to realise that cash grants and institutional treatment, important as both may be, are not enough. We have to provide individual advice and individual help to people in trouble and to their families, to old and young, to the handicapped and the helpless. This task falls in the first place to the professional staff, but volunteers are invaluable in supplementing the statutory services.
1252 In the Hospital Service we have always been extremely fortunate, and indeed many of our greatest hospitals of international renown were started by voluntary effort. To-day as you go round our hospitals you will find almost everywhere a League of Hospital Friends, often with fantastic sums of money to their credit to provide additional facilities for patients. You will find great voluntary organisations like the W.R.V.S., the Red Cross and the Order of St. John running shops for patients, distributing books, manning the reception area, making patients feel welcome and cared for, and doing a hundred and one other things that bring the fresh air of everyday life into an otherwise somewhat cold and clinical atmosphere. Many of your Lordships—and some of your Lordships who have spoken to-day—are closely connected with these organisations and, I know, appreciate as well as I do the magnificent work that they do. In addition there is a large body of men and women who give voluntary service to hospitals without being members of any organisation. Their service is equally appreciated.
If there is an obvious need, it is to increase the scale of voluntary effort in our less attractive hospitals—in those hospitals which cater for long-stay patients, the elderly, the chronic sick, the mentally ill and the mentally handicapped. This point was well made by the noble Lord, Lord Amulree. These people are often housed in old and overcrowded buildings. Much has been done recently to improve them, and the Government have already announced far-reaching plans over the next few years; but whatever the physical circumstances, there remain a number of long-stay patients without families—or at least without visitors—and it is in this field that there will always be a big demand for the volunteer. We are doing all that we can to support this type of voluntary work. In particular, we have encouraged the appointment of full-time voluntary help organisers, as several of your Lordships have mentioned, to equate the needs of the hospital with the skills of the available volunteers; and I am glad to say that in the last two years the number of voluntary help organisers in the hospitals has risen from 40 to 120.
Already this year we have sent out guidance to hospitals on two points: the 1253 first on the role of the voluntary help organiser in meeting hospital needs—and I paid close attention to what the noble Countess, Lady Loudoun, said on that point. I also listened to what my noble friend Lord Sandys had to say. He was slightly critical about that particular Circular, in that it was in the male gender, and he quite rightly guessed that most of these voluntary help organisers were in fact of the feminine gender. But I am afraid he has not got his facts quite right, because I am able to inform him that the convention established by the Interpretation Act of 1889 is that the male embraces the female. The noble Lord was very kind about the other Circular which we sent out to try to remove uncertainties about insurance and out-of-pocket expenses for volunteers. We said, briefly, that hospital authorities should accept responsibility for the activities of all voluntary workers providing services for the hospital, and also for the results of such activities. We have made it clear that hospitals should reimburse from public funds reasonable expenses incurred by a volunteer in the course of his duties, and I am hopeful that that will satisfy my noble friend Lady Young's remarks on this subject, although I think she was talking in a rather wider context; but in the hospital service at any rate we are taking action of this sort.
We are equally concerned to support those voluntary societies working generally in the whole field of the social services, a subject on which the noble Baroness, Lady Serota, is such an expert and about which she spoke so interestingly earlier in this debate. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Social Services announced at the end of 1970 a considerable increase in the funds available to him to assist the central work of national voluntary organisations; in particular to improve and extend family planning services and community services for the elderly, the mentally and physically handicapped, the deprived and the inadequate.
Voluntary organisations can look to local authorities and hospital trust funds to support local voluntary activity, but we are anxious to strengthen the administrative and support services provided by the headquarters 1254 of voluntary organisations, which was one of the important points that was recommended in the Aves Report, from which perhaps I may quote a couple of sentences:Good organisation is essential for any service. An increased use of volunteers, their recruitment, selection, preparation and training, intelligent deployment and guidance necessarily presuppose an administrative structure that costs money.It is to that end that we hope to provide money for the headquarters of voluntary organisations. This was a point which was well made by the right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Leicester, and may I say what a pleasure it was to have him speaking in this debate. The Churches play a most important part in our social services. The debate was greatly enriched by his contribution, which was full of practical ideas and not in the least describable by the word which he used, "laborious".
But our interest in the affairs of voluntary organisations extends well beyond money alone. We keep close and regular contact at official and ministerial level with a number of the major national bodies, and their guidance is invaluable on many matters of mutual interest. The noble Baroness, Lady Hylton-Foster, hatless but metaphorically wearing four hats, was anxious that we should work where possible through established voluntary bodies rather than setting up new ones. We do wherever possible, if, in her own words, they are competent and flexible. I would give one example: we have recently been in touch with a number of voluntary organisations to seek their help in the provision of transport within the community and between the community and the hospital, which is a growing need these days for both patients and visitors.
But we equally welcome new initiatives where they are needed, and are prepared to consider giving them financial support in appropriate cases, such as the most interesting initiative which was mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Serota, about the establishment of a voluntary service centre, again on the lines suggested in the Aves Report. We also keep close contact with a very large number of smaller organisations covering particular fields of interest such as alcoholics, epileptics, drug addicts, children in hospital, and a host of others too numerous 1255 to mention now, but all of them doing most valuable work.
Locally, voluntary societies in the community come to depend very largely on the new social service departments, and this is one of the areas on which there have been some interesting contributions to the debate from the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, my noble friend, Lord Bird-wood, and my noble friend, Lady Young; they have contributed to the consideration of this very difficult problem. These departments are working under a considerable load at present and certainly deserve our sympathy in their task. All of them, I am sure, are well aware, as my noble friend, Lady Young, told us, of the help that they can expect from voluntary societies, and I very much hope that they will work closely together. As my noble friend the Leader of the House said in his speech, we know of many local authorities who have appointed staff with the specific task of maintaining links between local authority personal social services and those provided by volunteers. These appointments take many different forms and are described by a confusing array of titles. We have therefore put in hand a small research project to conduct a pilot study of a number of areas where such appointments have been made, to see what useful lessons may be learned.
I should like to make mention, as far as my Department is concerned, of one very special form of voluntary service that is not very widely known but which, in my opinion, is an excellent example of how voluntary workers in the community can and do help the old and the handicapped. This is the War Pensioners' Welfare Service, set up in 1948 to provide disabled pensioners and war widows with friendly and skilled help and advice. The core of the Service is its 75 or so welfare officers working from 32 centres in the United Kingdom, but they are supplemented by some 2,800 members of war pension committees and a further 2,200 voluntary workers, who undertake the friendly visiting of certain war pensioners. They call frequently, acting as a good neighbour and developing a friendly relationship. They keep the pensioner in touch with the life of the community and take an unobstrusive but important interest in his welfare. These voluntary workers are a vital link in the 1256 welfare chain and, to my mind, provide an excellent example of how local authorities might develop their services for those of their citizens who are old, disabled or handicapped. I think this accords well with the views expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, and others on how to use voluntary workers.
My Lords, I have dealt inadequately with some of the aspects of the relationship of my Department with the voluntary organisations, and I am afraid I have taken too long. If I cannot answer all the questions that have been put to me in the course of the afternoon, I hope your Lordships will forgive me. The noble Lord, Lord Amulree, speaking to me before the debate, said that he preferred to have written answers to his questions, so he will get them. May I say with what pleasure I listened to the maiden speech of my noble friend, Lord Gainford. It was a unique contribution. We heard about two particular bodies, the Civil Volunteer Aid Service and the National Air Guard, which both in their way are very specialised and individual enterprises. I was particularly interested to hear how the National Air Guard have such a wide scope of activity, including the field of health and social services. I hope that my noble friend will take part in our debates in the future.
The noble Baroness, Lady Hylton-Foster, asked me about Government financial help for local schemes. To a limited extent such help can be given and is being given under present arrangements; for example, in the urban programme, where a significant proportion of approved schemes put forward by local authorities are proposed and run by voluntary bodies. But our general view is that local schemes which benefit a particular area should be supported by the appropriate local statutory body concerned, unless such support cannot reasonably be expected. For central Government to finance such schemes would only bring about a reduction of the help provided from local authorities and other sources, and this would be prejudicial to voluntary service in general. The only circumstances in which help for experimental local schemes could realistically be considered by central Government is where the experiment has a positive national application and where there is provision for independent monitoring of the results.
1257 I listened with very great interest, as always, to my noble friend Lady Brooke of Ystradfellte, especially when she was telling us of the experience of the Camden Volunteer Bureau in obtaining volunteers. She, and others, have stressed the importance of training for volunteers, and we hope that one of the results of offering increased financial support to the headquarters of national voluntary organisations may be to enable them to organise the better training of their members. My noble friend also referred to emergency services provided by bodies such as the W.R.V.S. and the British Red Cross. I think this might be an opportunity for me to pay a brief tribute to the work which a number of organisations are doing at the moment in helping to protect the old, the sick, and other vulnerable groups from the worst effects of the present fuel shortage. In some areas they are playing a vital part in identifying priority groups who require coal, and in others they are undertaking a wide variety of services.
The noble Lords, Lord Hamilton of Dalzell and Lord Donaldson of Kings-bridge, both spoke with unique authority about the whole field of the after-care of prisoners. I am qute sure that my noble friend Lord Windlesham listened with very great interest to what they had to say. The noble Lord, Lord Hamilton, mentioned particularly the use of volunteers by the Probation Service, and I think both noble Lords welcomed the fact that in his speech the Prime Minister said that we were going to make further funds available. The noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, particularly referred to the report on the habitual drunken offender. We are all deeply concerned about this problem. The Government were anxious to obtain the views of the many professional organisations and voluntary bodies concerned before deciding how to handle the recommendations. These views have now been obtained and studied, and it is expected that an announcement on how it is intended to make progress will be made before very long. If the noble Lord wishes to know what that means, perhaps he would ask my noble friend Lord Windlesham.
My noble friend Lord Monck did not tell us why he had been kicked on the shin by the noble Earl, Lord Longford, 1258 but he spoke with very long experience about national voluntary youth organisations. I am glad that he did because he was the first and, I think, the only speaker who particularly referred to this very important part of our total voluntary effort. I can assure him that the Government value the contribution made by the voluntary bodies to the youth service very highly indeed. If he wishes to add to his knowledge of our policy on the Youth Service, I can refer him to a Written Answer given by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science on March 29, 1971.
Once again I listened to a very thoughtful speech from the noble Lord, Lord Burgh, and another very interesting speech from my noble friend Lord Gowrie. I can say to my noble friend Lord Gowrie that in the current financial year, 1971–72, the Home Office are making grants totalling £114,000 to the five major marriage guidance associations in this country to assist them with the costs of the invaluable service they provide to the community. We hope to be able to increase this help to enable them to train more volunteers in the techniques of marriage counselling soon, and hope to reach more of those who will most benefit from it.
I listened with deep attention to the very knowledgeable speech of my noble friend Lady Young, especially on the subject of a voluntary link between the statutory services and the community, and on the need for training voluntary workers. Finally, I think the whole House thoroughly enjoyed the last speech by the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips. She spoke with her usual wit and wisdom. She always makes a unique contribution to our debates, and to-day was certainly a tour de force. She brought in a whole host of voluntary workers that nobody else had thought of; the political voluntary workers, local councillors, magistrates, and the women's organisations, including the National Association of Women's Clubs, for which she works so hard and so successfully.
I end, my Lords, by thanking the noble Viscount, Lord Younger of Leckie. We have enjoyed a fascinating debate, for which he must take the credit. I hope he is satisfied that the Motion has been fully debated, and that he will now quietly 1259 withdraw it, because if he presses for Papers, and if only one paper reaches him from every voluntary organisation in this country, he will be flooded.
§ 8.46 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT YOUNGER OF LECKIE
My Lords, may I first add my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Gainford, on his maiden speech which I thoroughly enjoyed. I hope that we shall hear him often again. I do not think that any of us can have sat through this debate without hearing something new and something helpful about voluntary social service. I am extremely grateful to all noble Lords and noble Baronesses who have taken part. For once I am particularly grateful to both Front Benches, who have given us very great encouragement to go ahead to further achievements. My Lords, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.