THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (EARL JELLICOE)
My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.
§ Moved, That a Select Committee be appointed for the general supervision of 152 arrangements relating to leave of absence, and that the Lords following, with the Chairman of Committees, be named of the Committee:
- E. St. Aldwyn,
- L. Amulree,
- L. Beswick,
- L. Strang.
§ —(Earl Jellicoe.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ ADDRESS IN REPLY TO HER MAJESTY'S MOST GRACIOUS SPEECH
§ 3.11 p.m.
§ Debate resumed on the Motion moved on Tuesday last by Lord Blake—namely, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as follows:
§ "Most Gracious Sovereign—We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."
THE MINISTER OF STATE, HOME OFFICE (VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS)
My Lords, I wish that in opening this afternoon I could emulate the confidence and authoritative presentation of my noble friend Lord Carrington yesterday in his survey of the Defence and Foreign fields. But my task is a little more complex and diverse. Nevertheless, I shall try to fill out some of the paragraphs in the gracious Speech where they refer to Home Affairs.
The main enemies here, as it seems to me, are the ravages committed on members of the community, sometimes as a result of the lawful activities of people which are in themselves otherwise wholly beneficial, but otherwise by the most unlawful and reprehensible activities of those who resort to crime. For the reasons suggested by my noble friend Lord Jellicoe the other day, I will leave for a further occasion the wholly exceptional ravages in Northern Ireland, and I do not within my theme find a very suitable place for the paragraph in the gracious Speech on agriculture and the marketing of food. Important though 153 they are, I think I must reserve for another and more specialised occasion some of the arcana of ewe flocks, and the advances in the pig breeding herd; and perhaps I may be forgiven if, to start with, I return to the rather more familiar field, one where the Department of the Environment, in the person of my noble friend Lord Sandford in this House, with his staff in his hand, keeps watch at the gate.
We were one of the first countries in the world to be industrialised, and so, through our own industries, profitable and essential as they continue to be, we got pollution very early. Just so, we have been foremost in attempting to tackle it. But clean air, clean rivers, the protection of our beautiful landscape and of our fine buildings are rightly nowadays in demand. Of course the actual setting up of the Department of the Environment brought all these areas under one ægis, if perhaps not under one roof, and we can now pull together the elements of planning, housing, roads, traffic, water and conservation in a way that no fragmented set of Departments could ever do before. As partners of Government in this respect we have the local authorities—the new ones in England and Wales to be set up under the Act already on the Statute Book, and now the new ones to come in Scotland. We all trust and believe that they will be strong, efficient and vigilant in playing their part, whatever their heartaches may have been in the process and whatever they may be to come. This reform has been long overdue, and we now hope that we shall all be able to reap the results.
With Government and local government attacking the problem we must know our enemy, and I was most interested to find how much monitoring and research is now taking place and the contribution which it makes. There is the rivers survey—already one volume produced and another to come; there are the first results of the Warren Springs Laboratory air pollution survey; noise and refuse tipping are now being studied; and we are reviewing our whole national research on pollution, both for ourselves and so that we may contribute to the world-wide monitoring programme agreed at Stockholm last year.
My Lords, much of the work in this country needs no new legislation. We 154 need no more than the use of administrative powers and sensible decisions to deal with the virtually inviolable Green Belt round many of our cities; to provide roads to by-pass historic towns; to safeguard and improve our National Parks: all these are already provided for. But there is in the gracious Speech some presage of legislation. The first to be mentioned is that of the Third London Airport at Maplin. The Government, accepting the need for a Third London Airport, find that machinery is needed—and it will be in the Bill—first of all to organise the reclamation of the land from the sea; then to make it available to the British Airports Authority, and also to the Port of London Authority for any seaport which may be approved; to promote then, in co-operation with the most important potential of the private sector, such commercial and industrial development as is consistent with our regional policy; and finally, to act as the landlord for this whole mammoth project.
In the very choice of Maplin the effect on people's lives was a prime concern. It was a major environmental decision to choose the offshore site, in the first place; and as one who sought to protect North Bedfordshire and the surrounding areas of Northamptonshire, Huntingdon and Peterborough, I know what the local feelings at Thurleigh were in the course of that inquiry. But it is not only the site: there has been the choice of the position of the runways themselves. This decision has the same aim. Similarly, the selection of the site for the new town, its design and the road and rail links will pay the highest regard to environmental features.
The next measure foreshadowed by the gracious Speech deals with water. The Central Advisory Water Commit tee published their Report, called The Future Management of Water in England and Wales, in April of last year. As everybody knows, we have limited water resources, and they are largely in the wrong places. At the moment we use 50 gallons per head per day, and by the end of the century it may be 100 gallons per day. So we must use and re-use water. We do it already, but we must do it more efficiently. And we must also combat the increasing toxicity and variety, and volume, of the pollutants which go into our water courses. We are committed to a massive 155 expenditure in this area: for instance, nearly £900 million is to be spent on sewerage services in the next five years. But the kernel is a better organisation, and this the new all-purpose regional water authorities will bring about. They will be able to look at the deployment of resources over large areas, involving the interlocking problems inherent in the position, so that both precious cash and precious water may be properly used and deployed.
The next proposed Bill that we see in the gracious Speech is the one on land compensation. I think I need say little about this: it is a very technical matter. In any event, the main ideas are already abroad in our White Paper called Putting People First. I recognise here proposals which will crack many an insoluble problem in the present compensation code as it has grown up piecemeal since 1845, or even before that. Certainly we are handsomely fulfilling that Election pledge, to review and improve the machinery for compensation and to see that it is fair and just to those whose property is compulsorily acquired and adversely affected or blighted by road or development schemes. Reverting for a minute to my professional hat, these reforms, I would say, are long overdue. Again wearing my present political hat, they seem to be rightly due to those whose private lives are harmed by works which bring great benefits to a much wider public but great detriment to those perhaps immediately next door.
I cannot resist for a moment reverting to the international front. At Stockholm we played a leading part in devising a system for the exchange of environmental information, and indeed I may say there is to be a computer. Only a few weeks ago international experts were discussing here in London the future development of this service, and possibly the design for the computer—I know not. At this moment in Lancaster House the oceans are under international discussion, with 85 countries and eight international agencies taking part. Then, with our entry into Europe so imminent, we have been participating in Brussels on the environmental programme, on which the Summit which has just taken place set a deadline of July 31 next for the production of an agreed programme. 156 Thus we are fully committed to an assault upon the ravages of human activity on the very elements themselves and on the very homes and towns in which we live, and indeed in which peoples in countries abroad also live.
There is at the end of the gracious Speech a paragraph about law reform and the administration of justice. Perhaps it is usual that such a paragraph, important though it may be, should be a little unspecific; but I can paint a little colour on to what is at the moment rather a blank canvas. For some time there has been pressure, both here, from, for instance, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, and in another place, for a Bill to give both parents equal rights over the guardianship of their children. It was a casualty of last Session's overcrowding, but it has been revived and will carry into effect as a Bill yet another of our proposals in our pre-Election pamphlet, Fair Shares for the Fair Sex.
Then there will be the Administration of Justice Bill, with a number of useful, though perhaps not terribly exciting, changes. There will be a simplification of the arrangements for appointing justices of the peace. There will be power for my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack to appoint stipendiaries to sit wherever that may be necessary. There will be changes in the machinery for fixing higher judicial salaries. In actions for the possession of land, county court jurisdiction will be increased and enabled to be flexibly dealt with according to changes in rateable values. Here the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, will rejoice to hear that solicitors will be allowed to sit as deputy circuit judges and thereby gain some judicial experience.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
My Lords, I am glad that other noble Lords agree with that too. An absentee from this Session's programme will be any Bill on criminal evidence. Important though this subject is, and highly relevant to my theme of combating crime, while the Criminal Law Committee's Report contains some uncontentious proposals it also contains others which raise major questions about the balance between the prosecution and the defence prior to and in proceedings before the criminal courts. The Government share the widespread feeling that 157 on this whole subject there should be the fullest opportunity for informed comment, discussion and debate before any legislation is mapped out, let alone presented. Nor, I fear, has the complex process for consultation yet proceeded far enough to allow us to produce a measure to deal with the law on death certification and coroners, on which Judge Brodrick and his Committee have produced a much valued Report. It is a subject very near to my own heart, but a very difficult one indeed.
On my list of absentees I am afraid I have to include the Justice report on some ideas about the prosecution process in England and Wales. It has been suggested that the lines long used in Scotland, and recently introduced in Northern Ireland, might come here in this part of the United Kingdom as well. But though we have earnestly considered the idea, we are not convinced that the case has been made out for this very fundamental change indeed, we are far from convinced that it would be practicable.
Public attention has recently been focused, and I think rightly, more and more on the question of law and order, and particularly on violence committed in various and most worrying forms. In the international field, I saw in a newspaper the other day that the airline pilots have underlined the urgent need for the Protection of Aircraft Bill, which was introduced here yesterday. Others, I should think, will agree with that. That Bill will continue to be backed by the rigorous use of our already stringent precautions at airports, and I do not think that even the noble Lord, Lord Janner (and I have read the speech that he made yesterday), will need me again to repeat the details of the determination of my right honourable friend the Home Secretary to use his powers to prevent the entry of, or indeed to expel, aliens who are likely to engage in or to incite instances of the sort of international violence of which we remember horrifying occasions over the last period of months.
Then there is the question of "mugging"—and I see that the evening papers to-day have this again on their front pages. There has been wide publicity for the very recent request from my right honourable friend seeking from police forces information about the in- 158 cidence of this crime. We have tried at least to define it—because it does not fall easily into the criminal statistics—but I should hasten to say that this initiative is not a solitary one. Already the police forces are taking special measures to deal, in places where this crime seems likely to occur, with the problems that there prevail. In this, I do not exclude the railway police. They are very much involved in that exercise.
We recently had picketing drawn to our attention. This subject also is much in the minds of the Government, and the law here is under review, though it seems to us that the problem is largely one of enforcement and the effective deployment of the police. We are busy learning all the lessons we can from recent events, so that while the right to strike and the right peacefully to picket will retain the full protection that they possess under the law, so will the equally valid right for people to work if they wish.
On the theme of violence, while it is no part—and Heaven forfend that it should be—of Her Majesty's Government's duty to advise the courts on the sentences they pass, it may well have been widely noticed that the judges have recently been taking a very severe view of violent crime and have visited upon "muggers" and upon certain "Hell's Angels" some very severe sentences indeed. We cannot influence sentences, except by the maxima we lay down in Parliament. What we can do as a Government is to press on with prevention, detection and treatment in the field of crime. On detection and enforcement of the law it is the police who are all-important. I am glad to be able to give some up-to-date figures of the increases in the strength of the police force. In 1970 this strength grew by 2,000; in 1971 it grew by 3,000, and in the first eight months of this year by 2,300, to a total of over 99,000 at the end of last August. I am glad to say that London has taken its share in this improvement in recruiting. On recruiting we have not stinted; we spend £600,000 a year in publicity on this particular matter alone. In addition to recruiting, we are doing our best to hand over to civilian staff the work that need not be done by trained policemen, who can then take their place in the operational duties where they properly belong.
159 When criminals are caught and convicted we are busily increasing the quality and range of treatment for them. Some must go to prison, or so we believe. Here were shall maintain the rate of building—3,000 new prison places per year is the present rate. We propose to keep up that rate. It compares with 80 new places started in 1969–70. Our aim remains the provision of decent though austere living and working conditions for inmates and staff; and with my own personal experiences behind me I do not forget staff housing. We must be ready to cope with the expected increase in the number of sentences to imprisonment as the decade goes by. At the same time, it is vital that we should reduce the overcrowding particularly in our local prisons, and one of the best ways of doing this is to be able more quickly to transfer convicted people to training prisons which are suitable for them. The other matter we must earnestly consider is the redevelopment of many of those outdated Victorian establishments.
Apart from building, we shall be continuing the advances in the standard and variety of work that we provide, and the interest of it too, and also in education and other treatments of a remedial sort, with emphasis on the needs of the individual. Work is at the moment in hand on a review of incentives and punishments. But all forward-looking and constructive reform must be based on the maintenance of good order and discipline. Here I hope the governors and staffs are now secure in the knowledge of the confidence we place in them. It may interest the House to know that as a result of the disorders at the end of August, which were quite a different matter, indeed a great change from the earlier passive demonstrations, 1,500 prisoners have been disciplined by governors, some losing the maximum possible two weeks of remission under that jurisdiction; and 240 have been disciplined by boards of visitors whose power to take away remission of up to six months has been used in a few cases.
I must revert for a minute to the staff. Recruitment of prison officers is noteworthy. Since the beginning of 1971 the force has increased its strength by 1,200 a year and we spent a quarter of a million 160 pounds on recruitment advertising. Noble Lords will forgive me if I do not go over alternative forms of treatment, other than prison, yet again, with the Criminal Justice Act so fresh in our minds. It is equally crucial but I should only weary the House, and I am running into trouble with the clock, anyway. I will mention two matters which are new: first of all, the community service schemes. Some really imaginative projects have now been devised and produced in the experimental areas and we wish success to this scheme. I am thrilled to find the things they have found to do, with the assistance of volunteers as well. On probation hostels, I may say that we have found that courts have been using these, and, more important still—that the hostels have succeeded in keeping probationers out of further crime. We therefore plan to expand adult places in these hostels to 1,650 by 1976. We have already invited 27 probation and after-care committees to provide hostels under the powers in the Criminal Justice Act that has just received the Royal Assent.
While I am on Home Office territory I will say a word about some of the victims of violence, or at least violent expulsion—the Uganda Asians. This subject was much touched on yesterday, and indeed the day before by my noble friend Lord Dudley. And how much I, like others, enjoyed sitting at his feet when he and my noble friend Lord Blake were moving and seconding the humble Address! This matter was also touched on by other noble Lords and Baronesses yesterday, including the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St. Edmundsbury and Ipswich. My noble friend Lady Tweedsmuir dealt yesterday with the scene centred on Kampala. I can up-date her figures, because they change from day to day, and can say a word on the United Kingdom end. We must all be colossally grateful to the Ugandan Resettlement Board for its success in organising the reception of the refugees which we now hope is virtually complete. At the same time, tributes cannot be over-stressed to the local resettlement committees, with the volunteers to the fore. Just before I came into the Chamber I was glad to hear from the noble Baroness, Lady Hylton-Foster, of her personal observation of this in one of the centres. The volunteers work at the centres and also 161 at airports. Nor should we underestimate the efforts made by the local authorities facing their own housing and employment shortages in coming to our aid in this dilemma. Up to yesterday there had arrived in the United Kingdom 22,017 refugees. There have settled, at least temporarily, away from the camps 8,764 refugees, and in 16 camps there are 11,326 refugees. Numerous noble Lords will instantly see that the figures do not add up—some computers work quicker than others. But the 22,000 arrivals is the latest figure.
Our efforts must now be concentrated in settling the refugees into the community, and the Government are providing additional resources (which we announced yesterday) for this to be carried out, including the special grants to local authorities. One point I should stress in the right reverend Prelate's speech yesterday is regarding the stateless husband. The Government have made it clear that Britain's responsibility is confined to the holders of our passports; it is the United Nations who are organising the evacuation and reception of stateless refugees. We have accepted into Britain any wives and dependants holding our passports who wish to come here. And accepting the humanitarian and economic arguments which the right reverend Prelate put forward yesterday, it is our hope that in due course these families will be reunited as soon as possible, but probably in third countries.
Perhaps not altogether irrelevant to the Uganda Asian theme and to other immigrant communities and places is the whole question of the prevention of criminality. I do not suggest for one moment that those who come here, or immigrants who are already here, are liable to resort to crime; but so many of them will go to areas of stress and social deprivation, whether we will it or not. So many of our people live in such areas themselves. I have seen and heard enough to be sure that bad housing and bad environment builds up frustrations and resentments, especially among the young, which may easily be expressed in criminal activities, through vandalism or a more sophisticated range of crime. Here the urban programme has much to commend it. It is a programme of local authority expenditure in areas of special social need. I have seen some of them 162 myself and I wish to place credit where it is due; we inherited this from our predecessors. Since it started in 1968, £26 million has so far been approved for Exchequer grant at 75 per cent.
Many new facilities have been provided by local authorities or volunteers: nursery classes, day nurseries, centres for the elderly or handicapped, immigrant reception centres, community and advisory projects, adventure playgrounds, and, of course, specialised staff. Nobody who looks at this work on the ground can fail to grasp the immediate impact which such projects have on the dreary hopelessness of the everyday life of some of our fellow countrymen in these areas of special need. Approvals of more schemes totalling £4 million are to be announced within tile week, including I hope some very much to do with volunteers. The popularity of the scheme may be gauged by the fact that this last stage was ten times over-subscribed. Early in the new year the authorities will be invited to put in for expenditure of a further £3 million.
My Lords, these are some of the things now afoot to which the Government are truly committed. Any member of the Bar, and indeed I am sure of other professions too, knows that Government and the law and administrative decisions turn up in reality in the form of individual cases of hardship, complaint and conflict. When painting with a broad and Impressionist brush, as I have been, it is, "The Government will do this and the Government will do that". What we mean, and what we are devoted to, is to achieve an amelioration and an improvement of the lot of the individual. One person whose house is made intolerable by the noise of traffic or of an airport; one teenager living in a tenement where there is nothing to do of an evening or a weekend; one prisoner who needs psychiatric treatment—these are the people with whom these broad phrases are concerned. While trying to improve the lot and the quality of life of everybody, it is to these personal people we must bend our attention. To them, any generalities to-day must become the realities to-morrow; and on that our efforts in this field must be, and are being, concentrated.
§ 3.43 p.m.
§ LORD HUGHES
My Lords, my noble friend Lady Phillips has frequently 163 appeared in your Lordships' House wearing trousers but she has never yet found it either desirable or possible to adopt a hair style resembling my own. So, notwithstanding the order of names on the list of speakers, none of your Lordships will believe that it is the Baroness Phillips who is standing here at the Dispatch Box now. Perhaps it is an example of the U-turns in which the Government are indulging that my noble friends name has been placed second on the list instead of second from last. My Lords, I have never believed that all intelligence or ability rested on the two Front Benches. For that reason, it is not necessary for me to attempt to cover other than a number of the subjects to which the gracious Speech refers. After looking at the list of my noble friends who are to take part in this debate, I feel I can confidently leave in their able hands references to those subjects to which I myself intend to make no reference.
I am particularly glad that my noble and learned friend Lord Gardiner is to take part in this debate, because a considerable part of the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, referred to matters of law and law and order, into which I would venture only when absolutely compelled, as I was once or twice in the years between 1964 and 1970. I never enter them willingly. However, when the noble Viscount was touching on the matter of prisons, I felt that only a few years ago no Minister in any Government would have referred to a regular expansion of 3,000 new prison places with quite the touch of pride displayed by the noble Viscount when he put it forward. While I recognise that in existing circumstances he is speaking about sheer necessities, it is perhaps an indication of the change that has taken place in our way of living in recent years that this should be one of our very necessary priorities in the 1970s.
One of the things to which we are accustomed when a new Government come into power is that they spend a large part of their first year in office in undoing the work of their predecessors. This present Government, predictably, followed pattern in that way. I do not think I am exaggerating when I say that many of the important decisions which they took in the first year of office were 164 to reverse policies which had been put into law by the preceding Labour Government. The Opposition, both in this House and in another place, certainly in their more tolerant moments, recognised that this was understandable, although in some of these reversals we could not see much sense. This Government came into office committed to new policies, to new ways of government. What no one in the electorate knew was that they were also committed to new uses of language. For example, "Reduce at a stroke", the man in the street, and perhaps even more important the woman in the shop, interpreted in the ordinary way. However, Government action since, whether in the field of prices or of unemployment, has made it perfectly clear that "Reduce at a stroke", in the Government's vocabulary means exactly what everyone else would interpret as, "Increase at a gallop".
I suppose that when the Minister of Agriculture, not so long ago, said that no one took the Prime Minister seriously when he said that prices were to be reduced at a stroke, he had not himself been informed of this new vocabulary. He did not realise that, in the new dispensation, "forward" meant "back", and "down" meant "up". In these circumstances, therefore, there was nothing which would be regarded as a Parliamentary surprise when in their second Session the Government spent a considerable part of their time in reversing the decisions they had taken in the first. From that point of view, I do not lay so much value on what the noble Viscount has said when he refers to the Government's implementing yet another pledge. In any event, it will matter only to those people who think that these pledges are worth implementing if they stay implemented. If pledges are going to be put into operation this year, and then next year are going to be whittled away, the Government can certainly claim credit for implementing their pledges but we shall have to have a new terminology in Parliamentary affairs to make it clear that the Government will undertake not only to implement their pledges but to let the implementation stick. Nevertheless, some of these reversals were undoubtedly a source of considerable satisfaction to Her Majesty's Opposition, both in another place and in this House. 165 I suppose that at the same time some were a sore trial to noble Lords opposite. So it would not be a kindness for me to enter into any catalogue of them, and at this point I will leave the matter.
I am not certain what the next stage in Government planning is. Recently we have seen that Ministers have been pushing through legislation, particularly in this House, when at the same time it would appear that other Ministers were contemplating how, and in what circumstances, some of that legislation could be cancelled, put into suspension or amended. I would suggest that the time is right for another change of policy. Much of the legislation envisaged in the gracious Speech is not necessarily controversial from a political point of view. It may well be the subject of considerable controversy from an individual point of view. But I would suggest, for example, that in the last Session the Bill for the Reform of Local Government in England and Wales would have become a better Bill, and in less time, if in another place the Government had confined the use of the Party Whip to those principles in the Bill which were essential but left to the good judgment of the House (as latterly they did in your Lordships' House) the matters of detail. The question as to whether a boundary between one district and another should be moved should never have been the subject of Government troops marching into one Lobby and Opposition troops marching into the other, and I would suggest that the reform of local government in Scotland will be dealt with very much more effectively and with less trouble in both Houses of Parliament if this principle is acted upon.
I would remind your Lordships that when the Wheatley Paper on this subject was presented, both the present Secretary of State for Scotland and his predecessor, my right honourable friend, welcomed the Wheatley Paper in almost identical terms. I have indicated in this House that the White Paper presented by the Government differed only in comparatively minor detail from the White Paper which might have been presented by their predecessors, and I did not find it necessary to differ, except in a minor degree, from what was said by the then Minister of State at the Scottish Office, the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir. In these circumstances, this is an example of the 166 kind of legislation which will be more acceptable both to the local authorities, existing or new, and to their electors, if what emerges is arrived at by the freely expressed will of Parliament on as wide a scale as possible.
There are other aspects of home legislation where I think exactly the same satisfactory results could be produced, particularly in the field of social services. If I may revert briefly to local government, another item in the programme referred to in the gracious Speech is a Bill to reform certain aspects of local government finance in England and Wales. Why only England and Wales? The criticism which I received when I was at the Scottish Office, and the criticism which the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir, got when she was at the Scottish Office, and which I have no doubt still assails the noble Lord, Lord Polwarth, is that it is difficult to know how effective the reform will be if you do not know the financial circumstances in which it has to operate. When I left office it was agreed that the noble Baroness should have access to all my discussions with the local authorities so that she could start exactly at the point at which I had left off and that it would not be necessary for her to do all over again in a period of a year what I had spent the best part of a year in doing. So from that point of view the drafting of the legislation was that much easier. If, therefore—and I find it difficult to believe that it will be otherwise—the sort of reform of local government finance which is to be adopted in England and Wales will be the pattern also in Scotland. I cannot see why the reform of finance should not also be part of the Bill for the reform of local government in Scotland.
It may be that the decisions on what form the reform of finance will take were reached too late for inclusion in the Scottish Bill as it was being drafted. I would suggest that unless it is going to delay the Bill unduly (and that I would not wish) consideration should be given to including in it financial clauses. Otherwise I would suggest—and this is not something I would do lightly because as a general rule I do not like United Kingdom Bills for Scottish application—that if it is to be the same sort of principle, why not make it a United Kingdom 167 Bill with the appropriate clauses applying it to Scotland?
Before leaving this subject I would express the hope that what the Government are doing is not just a tinkering with the rating system. The burdens which are now placed, and properly placed, on local authorities can only be carried, certainly in some of the smaller authorities, with the aid of considerable Government grants. I have always regarded it as desirable that Government grants should, if possible, be less than half of the local authorities' expenditure, and when in some parts of Scotland the grants have reached 95 per cent. of local authorities' expenditure that is not local government in any sense of the term at all. What I think is absolutely essential is that the Government should be able to place at the disposal of the new local authorities some alternative source of revenue which will reduce the direct Government grant to below the 50 per cent. figure. There is nothing which is more conducive to local authorities exercising their powers satisfactorily than the knowledge that they have to find the bulk of the money themselves.
There is expressed in the gracious Speech the intention to reform the Health Service organisation in England and Wales. This is familiar to me because for once we did it the other way round; in the last Session we reformed the Health Service structure in Scotland. I made it clear at the time that I was in general agreement with the principles under which that reform was carried out, but I must admit that as time has gone past—and even during the course of our discussions on that Bill—I have become a little apprehensive at the replacement of a large number of people giving voluntary service on regional hospital boards, on boards of management, on executive councils and in local health authorities by a comparatively small number of people still acting in a voluntary capacity, with the exception of the chairmen of the new boards. In my own small region, of whose hospital board I was once chairman, there is a population of only some 400,000 but by and large in that area some 300 people are presently involved to a greater or a lesser degree in the administration of one or other aspects of the Health Service. That, under the 168 new structure adopted in Scotland, will be placed in the hands of some 15 people, 14 of them being unpaid. In a large measure this will take away the access to representatives. I am not as familiar as perhaps I ought to be with the structure that is intended to be put forward in England. I do not think it is a unitary structure; I think it is more like a three-tier structure which is contemplated, at least in some parts of the country, and I wish to emphasise the value of bringing individuals in the community into the administration of these services.
The danger with these boards is that the be-all and end-all of administration is efficiency. We all want to see efficiency but in such a service as, for example, a hospital, involving, the individual members of a family, sometimes in circumstances of very great stress, efficiency is perhaps not the only consideration. We should not, for example, wish to see our hospitals forget that in the last resort we should not need hospital or hospital staffs if we did not have patients. From that point of view, therefore, the most important person in the structure is the patient. What may be regarded sometimes as being the most efficient way of running a hospital from the point of view of the administrators is not necessarily the best way from the point of view of the patient. We would not wish to encourage what the time-and-motion study man might call inefficiency if it meant waste; but what that expert might sometimes call inefficiency is not necessarily waste and may be regarded by the person at the other end, the patient, as being kindness and consideration.
On Saturday, my wife was opening a sale of work in aid of the funds of the local branch of the Royal College of Nursing and she related a story which had been told to her a year or so ago by a very eminent hospital matron in Scotland. She said: "You know, in my book one of the signs of the efficient nurse is the one who, when she has given a patient a bed bath, remembers to dry between his toes". To the efficiency expert that might be regarded as a sheer waste of time, because if the nurse left the patient's toes wet they would in due course dry of their own accord and he would not necessarily accept that any resulting difficulties had had anything to do with the nurse's failure to carry 169 out that simple task. That is the sort of thing I am thinking of, and it cannot be measured in terms of a board of 15 members trying to get the best value for every last new penny spent in the Service.
My Lords, the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, referred to the reorganisation of the water service and I was reminded by my noble friend Lady Serota that these proposals have not been exactly welcomed with general acclamation by the local authorities in England. That struck a familiar note with me, because we set up water boards in Scotland some years ago. It would be wrong to say that they were universally opposed by the local authorities. They were not: many of the local authorities in Scotland welcomed them. That apparently is a little different from the position in England. But noble Lords, and the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, in particular, will remember the opposition that was put up by the Islands of Orkney and Shetland. What is rather interesting (though I confess that I may not be up-to-date on Government policy in these days of U-turns) is that the last time I heard about Scottish policy in relation to water the Government were proposing to do away with the water hoards and return the administration of water to the local authorities. I hope that is not the current situation because, strange as it may seem, it is much easier to organise water through boards. Looking, first of all, at the way water runs, and accepting the fact that it is very difficult to get it to move up hill, it is better to organise the board around the water rather than try to organise the water around the regional or district authority.
I hope, therefore, that the Government will bear in mind that, whatever policies they arrive at, one policy cannot be right in England and Wales and the opposite right in Scotland. If there is one thing that is international in the United Kingdom, it is the way water behaves—unless of course it is added to certain liquids.
§ LORD BALERNO
My Lords, will the noble Lord allow me to interrupt him for a moment on the Question of water? Is it not a fact that for the first time for perhaps half a century there has been a severe water shortage in both Orkney 170 and Shetland, and that while this is perhaps not propter hoc, it is post hoc?
§ LORD HUGHES
Quite honestly, while I have no doubt that the noble Lord is perfectly right, both in his statement about the weather and in his Latin, I do not see what it has to do with the situation, because neither a local authority organising the service nor a Regional Board looking after it would have produced one drop more water in Orkney or Shetland, because no one suggested that under the water boards we were to pipe water over to the Islands.
My Lords, I followed with considerable interest what the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, had to say on the subject of pollution—the prevention of pollution and the protection of the environment. Here again is a field where there need not be controversy between the Parties. Given an equal will on both sides to ensure a satisfactory scheme along these lines, I believe that we shall find there is ample scope for agreement between us. The only possible lines of difference will be the inevitable ones—perhaps a feeling on the side of the Opposition that things do not move fast enough, or that they do not go far enough. Having regard to the notable energy of the Secretary of State for the Environment, and his desire to make as big a success of this as he has done in other fields of life (was it not said of him that this was the man who made million before he passed the 11-plus?), and given that sort of attitude, it is lass likely perhaps that we shall have to prod his elbow unduly hard.
I would again commend to the Government, therefore, the desirability of trying to get the maximum measure of agreement, not only in this House but also in the other place, and of having the greatest number of Parliamentarians behind the measures which go forward rather than the highest possible Government majority. After all, that is not likely to exceed 30, 32, or 34, at the best, and an Amendment or clause which goes through with the support of three-quarters of the House is infinitely to be preferred.
My Lords, I made up my mind that for once I would keep my speech comfortably within 30 minutes and the advantage of having figures appearing in front of one are an undoubted help to that end. 171 In so far as the Government are proposing to carry through the measures envisaged in the gracious Speech, which are for the obvious benefit of all, I certainly and, I am quite certain, my colleagues generally on this side of the House, will make it their task to help through a programme of that kind. But it is not enough just to say things. For instance, there is in the gracious Speech the reaffirmation of the Government's plans to have an annual review of retirement and service pensions. That we commend. But I would suggest that it is not just doing it once a year that matters; it is the way in which it is done. It is no longer enough just to bring the old-age pensioner up to date to repair the ravages of the previous year. We should try, particularly in these times of inflation—whether it is at the present rate or whether it is contained at a lower rate—to make sure that when the next year's review comes along the old-age pensioner will still be as well off as the Government thought he might be when the last review took place. Further than that, we are approaching (if we have not already reached) the position where we accept that the pension ought to reflect in its annual increase a due share to the pensioner of the increased availability for a better standard of living. It is not just a case of bringing him back to where he was a year before. If the Government's words are interpreted into actions of that kind then, my Lords, they will not find that Her Majesty's Opposition, in this House at any rate, regard their duty as being merely to oppose.
§ 4.10 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT HANWORTH
My Lords, I have been in two minds whether to make the speech I intend to make to-day. Some of your Lordships may think that the moment is not propitious because of the talks on prices and wages. However, I am only a Back-Bencher and I sit on the Cross-Benches, and although what I am going to say is extremely frank and to some extent critical I do not believe it is in any way inflammatory. Nor, since it is an appeal rather than a censure motion, do I believe that any other timing would be better. Because I think in places I shall go a little "near the bone" and I do not want to be misreported, on this 172 occasion I am afraid I shall read the majority of my speech.
As I see it, our greatest problem to-day is that of labour relations, because allied to it is inflation and the loss of productivity due to strikes. If we could only go some distance in solving this problem the future of this country would be rosy indeed. We can remember, of course, that other countries in the world have their troubles as well, so I use my words advisedly in referring to moving some distance towards solving the problem. But if we cannot do this I reckon that the outlook for the long term future of the country is very grim indeed. I used to say that if I were to apportion blame for low productivity I would place at least 60 per cent. on management and only 40 per cent. on the unions. I said this because I believed that our management was old-fashioned and that they had not come to terms and to grips with the requirements of to-day. To me it was extraordinary that perhaps ten years ago, when they should have realised they no longer had a stick with which to force the blue collar workers along, whether they liked it or not there was only one solution and that was leadership, by which I mean the ability to inspire those working for you with a sense of purpose, and also the concept that industry to-day must be a partnership of shareholders, management and workers.
I regret to say that if I were to apportion blame to-day I think the percentages would really be reversed. Admittedly, most of the blame for bad relations is a legacy from bad management, and sometimes exploitation of the worker in the past; but we must not be like the Irish on this issue. What I think we must do is honestly to face the situation as it is to-day. I appeal to the unions to do so and to try to put their own house in order. Once people will admit that something needs doing that is the first step to effective action. I think a very great deal of respect is due to the trade unionists in this House; but with all due respect, I do not think they help the national cause or their own by continuing to fight the battles they so bravely fought before, because the issues have long ago changed and one simply has to come to terms with what is needed to-day.
173 I think the Government were very right when they said during the passage of the Industrial Relations Bill that we need strong and responsible unions. To-day many of them, in my opinion, are neither of these things. Leadership is from the rear, and policy is dictated by a small, unrepresentative, extreme pressure group. I might say that I hope that those who report this debate will not merely seize on those criticisms, which are only, so to speak, to help along the theme I am making to-day. I am not a "union basher". What I am trying to do is to persuade them to acknowledge that the position might be improved and that they can improve their own organisation. I do not for one moment underrate the difficulties of their doing so.
We should all realise that over the years industrial action has done no more than raise wages to the level they would have reached taking into account inflation and increased productivity. What so often happens is that those in a strong industrial bargaining position improve that position at the expense of the more deserving who have not got such a strong voice. The extra amount which can be chipped off capitalist profits without harming the economy is minimal, and, equally, apparently high salaries—that is before deducting supertax—which are paid to some people are really quite Irrelevant to this issue. It is, however, true that there are still as many, or at any rate nearly as many, and some may think more, rich people in England to-day, as before; and one might perhaps think, taking into account some of the ways in which the wealth is acquired, this is less deserved than previously. The Labour Government never succeeded in touching this aspect, yet still try to make much political capital about high salaries. Whatever one does in either direction the gains to the workers by redistributing wealth more evenly would be relatively small. There is just so much national cake to distribute and nothing except increased productivity will alter the situation. I acknowledge and congratulate the unions on what they have been able to do in improving conditions for workers and preventing the exploitation of labour which would inevitably have occurred without them; but I appeal to them as their national duty to consider the long term advantage for their members and not only illusory short 174 term gains. I would also suggest to them that they should be less selfish among themselves and should try to publicise to their members some of the simple facts of life that I have tried to outline. I repeat once again that my speech is intended to be not purely critical but to ask that unions should at least consider whether there is something in what I have just said.
May I end with a few words about the political scene. I think that, particularly at the present time, the issues are so much more serious than they were ever before that I should like those in authority to consider how far they are justified in putting Party politics be fore the national good. Let us face it, this does occur. It is not always easy to inform the electorate, and I feel that in these times it should never be permissible, for Party purposes, for a politician to say publicly things in which he does not believe and which are calculated to mislead. There is a long tradition behind our Parliamentary procedure, and perhaps what we have seen in the last few days reinforces that tradition. I am in favour of tradition; it has a stabilising influence. Nevertheless, another effect it can have is to prevent people from questioning, and to make them think that what was done fifty years ago is all right to-day. If one looks around one finds that politics is not respected as it was previously. The reasons are not very hard to find. I believe that Governments of either complexion always try to play to the lowest common denominator instead of slightly above that line. I believe that this is something that all of us should consider in these grave times.
§ 4.21 p.m.
§ LORD GARDINER
My Loris, I hope that my noble friends, Lord Hughes and Lord Hanworth, will forgive me if I do not follow the subjects on which they spoke. I should like to conduct a short tour d'horizon of the extent to which we are going to reform our law and our legal institutions, so far as this can be deduced from the gracious Speech. In fact, there is only one short sentence about this subject in the gracious Speech, which is:Measures will be introduced to make further reforms in the law and improvements in the administration of justice.175 I think that that is extremely cautious, because it actually tells us nothing at all. Having had responsibility for winding up on Home Affairs day for four of five years running, I know that it is not always possible to anticipate what questions will be asked, so I thought it only courteous to inform the Government of the points that I wished to raise, and the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, has already been good enough to touch on one or two of them.
The first is about a Bill to implement, or otherwise, the Report of the Criminal Law Revision Committee. I am delighted to hear from the noble Viscount that the Government, I think most wisely, have decided not to introduce this highly controversial Bill in this Session. It is a very big volume of 700 pages, with no index and no summary of recommendations, and it requires the most careful reading and consideration. I am sure that that is a wise decision. However, there is a second point on this matter, because in his Foreword to the General Election programme Mr. Heath said:I want to see a fresh approach to the taking of decisions. The Government should seek the best advice and listen carefully to it. It should not rush into decisions, it should use up-to-date techniques for assessing the situation, it should be deliberate and thorough. And in coming to its decisions it must always recognise that its responsibility is to the people, and all the people of this country.Then he said:So it will not be enough for a Conservative Government to make a fresh start with new policies. We must create a new way of running our national affairs. This means sweeping away the trivialities and the gimmicks which now dominate the political scene. It means dealing honestly and openly with the House of Commons, with the press and with the public.If there is a subject of importance on which some Committee has made recommendations, does this not mean, first, that the Government would be wise to ascertain what informed opinion thinks on the subject? Then, having ascertained what informed opinion thinks, should they not, in a White Paper or otherwise, publish those opinions before the general public, and indeed Members of Parliament themselves, are asked to come to a conclusion?
If it means that, then that promise was broken in the case of the future of the 176 magistrates' courts. The same Government that had passed an Act removing the sheriffs' courts in Scotland, which are the nearest equivalent to magistrates' courts here, from local authorities to central Government, invited informed opinions from all those who have to do with our courts (magistrates, barristers, solicitors and so forth), as to whether our magistrates' courts should follow that course or remain as they were. They then declined to publish the representations they had received, nearly all of which were in favour of the same solution as in Scotland, and proceeded to decide the exact opposite. It took me weeks to obtain them, and it was largely owing to the courtesy of the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, that I was at last able to get from the Home Office a copy of the representations made by informed opinion, but then only on terms that I did not tell anybody or quote them without the permission of the bodies concerned. Therefore, I had to write to, I think, 17 different organisations to ask whether they had any objection to my quoting from the representations; and of course they all said that they had no objection at all. Here the Government have asked informed opinion, including those who have most to do with our courts, for their view about this Report of the Criminal Law Revision Committee. Therefore, I hope very much that, in accordance with Mr. Heath's promise, before they ask the public or the Members of both Houses of Parliament to come to a conclusion on the subject they will first publish, in a White Paper or otherwise, the representations which they received.
The second question, which is again a Home Office matter, is about equal guardianship. I was delighted to hear the noble Viscount say that the Government were going to introduce in this Session a Bill for the equal guardianship of children. I had some correspondence about this subject with Mr. Maudling about 18 months ago. The Conservative Central Office publication, A Fair Deal for the Fair Sex, had said that this ought to be done. I told him that I was considering introducing a Private Member's Bill to give effect to this proposal, but that if the Government were going to do it, I did not want to take away from them the credit which it would no doubt get them. I was assured—and I think 177 the honourable Member for Devonport, Dame Joan Vickers, was later also assured in the other place—that the Bill would be introduced last Session. As we all know, the Government got into considerable difficulties with their legislative programme. I understood those difficulties. We all make mistakes. The programme was cluttered up, and I understood why it was impossible for them to do it then, and I am delighted to hear that it is to be done this Session. May I express the hope that the Bill will be introduced in this House, and at a very early date?
Then there is the matter of prosecution process. I never saw myself any answer to the Justice report on the prosecution process pointing out the many greater advantages which they have in Scotland, where the police are in charge of both the prevention of crime and its detection but the prosecuting authority is an entirely separate authority. Everybody I know who is familiar with both systems thinks that the Scottish system is better. It was therefore no surprise to me when the Committee of which the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, was Chairman recommended that this system ought to be adopted in Northern Ireland, too. With minor modifications, that is what the Government have now done in relation to Northern Ireland. I think that the noble Viscount used the word "impracticable" in this connection, but how something which works perfectly well in Scotland and I believe is now working well in Northern Ireland can be "impracticable" in England, I do not understand. I hope that sooner or later the Government may have second thoughts about this.
Then, again in the Home Office field, I was disappointed to hear that we are not to have this Session a Bill to implement the recommendations of the Committee on Coroners and the law of death certification. It was on March 15, 1965—now 7½ years ago—that my noble friend Lord Stow Hill, the then Home Secretary, appointed a Committee to reform our law in this field. The Committee reported this time last year. I confess that I hoped that in a year the Government would have had time to make up their mind on the recommendations put before them. I can only express the hope that if it is not done this Session we shall get it next Session—if the Government are still there to do it.
178 Now the Department of the Environment. I do not need to say anything to educate the noble Viscount about the appalling mess which our burial laws are in, because one of my earliest recollections in this House, I think early in 1964, was a Bill introduced by the noble Viscount to consolidate this awful mess of law. I remember the noble Lord, Lord Denham, saying that a Bill was in course of preparation. He could not give the exact date when it would be introduced, but it would be done "as soon as possible and without delay" I think was the expression. Eight years have now gone by—
§ LORD GARDINER
And I appreciate that to some extent this has been taken care of in the Local Government Act, which has repealed a certain number of the provisions of the Burial Acts. But I do not know what that amounts to, and no doubt the noble Viscount will be able to tell the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, when he replies, to explain to us what the position now is. At one time the Department shuffled it off—a very sensible thing to do—on to the Law Commission. The Law Commission got down to it and then the Department, I believe, snatched it back from the Law Commission. Perhaps we can be told whether the Department or the Law Commission is now polishing this off, and how long it will take.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
My Lords, I do not want to answer that point, but on the historical side of this saga may I say that I handed the matter over to the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, when he was at the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, with the earnest request that the Government of that time should deal with it, and he said that they would introduce a Bill then.
§ LORD GARDINER
My Lords, it has this unfortunate history. Mind you, whoever has to deal with it, if you look at our Acts dealing with burials and try to decide what is the difference between a cemetery and a graveyard, you will find that the subject is full of the most appalling problems. I am not surprised that it has taken some time, but I hope that some day we shall come to a conclusion. 179 Also, perhaps the noble Lord can tell us what is the position with regard to the Report on adoption, and can say when we are likely to see legislation arising out of that.
I now come to the black sheep in the Government in this field, which is, as I think all of your Lordships know by now, the Department of Trade and Industry. When I say "the Government" I do not mean this Government in particular, because it does not matter what political Party is in power it is always that Department which is the black sheep in not reforming those branches of our law for which it asserts a prerogative to deal with, and which is very jealous of any suggestion that something should be taken away from it and done by the Lord Chancellor or by somebody else while the Department itself does absolutely nothing. First of all, what is the position with regard to the very important Crowther Report on Credit? Secondly, there is the question of company law. I should have thought that a Conservative Government, other things being equal, would be more interested in seeing that our company law was kept up-to-date and in good shape than a Labour Government. But since 1911—and I forget whether that was the time of the Liberals or who it was—we have had the Labour Government's 1948 Companies Act and we have had the rather moderate one passed by the last Government, which did not go very far. I remember promising, on behalf of the then President of the Board of Trade, that we would introduce another Bill before we had finished, which we did not. This, again, is the responsibility of what was the Board of Trade and is now the Department of Trade and Industry and perhaps we can be told how far it has got with that.
Then there is our old friend the law of bankruptcy. In 1957, which is now 15 years ago, the Blagden Committee produced a very good Report saying exactly what was wrong with our bankruptcy law, and made 50 recommendations to put it right. Ever since then, every Government has agreed that it ought to be put right but the Department just does not do it. It did not do it when it was the Board of Trade and it does not do it now when it is the Department of Trade and Industry. This is the Department which 180 has more lawyers than the Lord Chancellor's Office and the Law Commission combined. I have never quite understood what they all do. Then there is the law of insurance—and here I am thinking not so much of insurance companies being insolvent as of the whole law of insurance and the very disproportionate position occupied by insurers and assured, which was considered by the Lord Chancellor's Law Reform Committee when I was a member. It was so long ago that I do not remember when it was, but I think it was somewhere about 1955 and nothing has ever been done about it.
Lastly, there is something which is of importance to a commercial community; that is, our law of hallmarking. Of course we have the Ordinance of 1238—Ordinance, because Statutes had not then started—and we have the Statute of 1300, but the whole of these Acts are completely incomprehensible and contain expressions the meaning of which no one living now knows. So the Select Committee of 1856 said that the whole of this branch of our law really must be rewritten and rationalised. Nothing happened. There was another Committee in 1879 which said exactly the same. In 1952, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, said in the Court of Appeal that as it was 114 years since a Committee had recommended that this law should be brought up to date he hoped that it would soon be done. Nothing happened except that later a departmental committee was appointed which said exactly the same thing, and so it goes on. The last news I heard of it was that the Department of Trade and Industry had appointed a Working Party. May I ask for the stop press news in that field?
Then if I may come to the Lord Chancellor's Office, we had a very good Report from a committee, of which Mr. Justice Payne was chairman, on the enforcement of judgments. A great deal of it was implemented by the Government of which I was a member. We abolished imprisonment for debt, we substituted attachment orders and so forth. I am glad to hear from county court judges that it is working extremely well and although people do not go to prison, by having their wages attached they in fact pay up much quicker than they did previously. Some of these matters we did 181 I remember my noble friend Lord Donaldson saying that we certainly ought to—and one was to have enforcement offices in the county courts. We have still also to deal with the law of distress and one or two other recommendations of that committee. So I ask what progress is being made in this field.
Then there is the suitor's fund which, again, I understood the noble Viscount to mention. This is a very simple matter. It is a proposal that the citizen should no longer have to pay because a judge did not know the law; that is to say, if an appeal succeeds on the sole ground that the judge was wrong in law, the litigant should not have to pay all the costs on both sides. The proposal made by Justice—and I remember making it before a committee on Supreme Court Practice and Procedure with a former Conservative Attorney General, but we could not get it through—was that we should follow what has been done in Australasia where each litigant pays quite a small additional fee on starting any form of litigation. This builds up a fund which pays the costs of parties whose appeal was caused solely by the fact that the judge did not know the law. It seems to me very sensible and practical. I cannot understand what the difficulties are, and I very much hope that sooner or later this will be done.
May I briefly ask what is being done in relation to the reform of our law of domicile? What is being done in the field of administrative law? What is now the position with regard to a matter which I think the Law Commission is considering; that is to say, the development of local family courts, which I would have intended eventually to introduce and which seem to me a natural corollary of the abolition of the strange Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division, there now being a Family Division in the High Court. One would have thought that there ought also to be local family courts, rather than have domestic disputes going to what is, in effect, a local criminal court. Lastly, of the matters of which I have given notice, may I ask what is happening in the field of legal education?
If I may mention two or three matters to which I did not refer in the notice which I gave, and to which, therefore, I shall not expect answers to-day or other- 182 wise than in writing, may I ask whether there is any up-to-date news about the absolutely revolting proposal that in our new tax credit system family allowances should be taken away from mothers whose only source it often is for the clothing and shoes of their children, and put into the father's pockets. Secondly, with regard to the intended legislation on industrial training, may I take it that the Government are aware of the virtual absence of industrial training so far as women are concerned?
Thirdly, perhaps I may ask about one or two things which seem to have been sunk rather without trace so far. The first is the Report of the Younger Committee on Privacy, which I regard as a most important subject. I was one of the two Ministers responsible for the appointment of that Committee. What is the future of that Committee? Then there is the perhaps equally important Franks Committee on the Official Secrets Act. Lastly, may I ask whether the Government propose at any stage to introduce legislation to implement those changes in the Race Relations Act that were asked for in the last annual report of the Race Relations Board? The whole subject of race relations is just as important as it has ever been. I believe that the Race Relations Board as a whole have done a thoroughly good job, and if, arising out of their experience, they think that certain amendments to the Act are necessary, I hope that that matter will be given close attention.
Finally, my Lords, may I say that I welcome most of the observations which the noble Viscount made as to the Government's attitude to crime in general, and particularly robbery with violence, since that is a very old offence. I thought that everything they said was right, though I hope they will also bear in mind—and I am sure that the noble Viscount himself will—the importance of doing what one can to deal with those areas in which there are exceptional numbers of school-leavers who simply cannot get a job, and particularly in those areas where a higher proportion of those school-leavers are immigrants. I am sorry to have detained the House for so long, but I hope very much that the impetus with which we started then reform of our law and of our legal institutions is not going to lessen. I am sure that would not be the wish of the noble and 183 learned Lord the Lord Chancellor or, I would hope, of the Government.
§ 4.43 p.m.
§ BARONESS ELLIOT OF HARWOOD
My Lords, I am sure your Lordships have been as entertained as I have by the brilliant speech of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner. I do not propose, as I am no legal character at all, to follow him in what he has been saying, but there are just two comments I should like to make. I do not know whether the burial laws in Scotland are different from those in England, but I can only say that those of us who look a little ahead—and I am afraid I have probably not very long to look ahead—have already succeeded in marking out what is in Scotland called a lair, and not a grave, where I hope they will pop me in when the day comes. That has already been decided, as far as I can recollect, and I expect no difficulties about it. The second thing I should like to say to the noble Lord who is to reply is that on this question of taxation (about which we do not yet know, because in the Green Paper which I have in my hand three alternatives are put forward, and I understand that there is no question of any decision having yet been taken) many of us, on all sides of the House, I think, would not be at all in favour of changing the payment of the child allowances from the mother to the father. Whether or not that entails more expense from the point of administration I think simply does not come into the picture at all. It is something for which our predecessors have fought and for which we shall fight. I am speaking now on this question purely and simply as a woman.
I suppose that all of us, when we read the Queen's Speech at the beginning of each new Session, choose subjects in which we are interested and about which we feel keenly, and the one or two things that I shall say to-day—and I shall be very short—are about matters in which I am myself particularly interested and on which I should like to make comment to the Government, though not in a critical sense, because I welcome the Queen's Speech most heartily. I welcome in particular the paragraph which refers to "Legislation…to promote fair trading" and to "Other measures to protect the consumer". As I think 184 your Lordships know, I have a particular interest in consumer affairs, having been five years Chairman of the Consumer Council. I was sorry when that organisation was disbanded; and I am not in the least surprised that the Government are now seeking methods to protect the consumer, though possibly not in the same way. I am not saying that what we did in the past was perfect; but, anyway, the fact that we are now going to have some new legislation to protect the consumer is important.
There are many things which perplex the ordinary housewife to-day—changes in taxation for instance, and in currency, although the latter has now passed completely and successfully, I think, into the community. Many problems will arise when we go into the E.E.C., when we become members of the European Community. It is not only protection, but the understanding of problems, which would help the consumer. I hope the new organisation will understand and help not only the consumer but also the manufacturer and the retailer. There are many aspects of consumer problems which touch closely the lives of all of us; and I hope that the new body will be independent of any individual Government Department, because I think that is most important. It should not be run by a Government Department, though it must, of course, be financed by the Treasury, because it will serve the whole community. I do not think it should operate from one Department, but for the good of all consumers.
I was also glad to read the paragraph in the gracious Speech which referred to a strong agricultural policy. It is a long time since we have had a debate in this House on agriculture, but I still remain, with many of your Lordships, a keen farmer. I do not think that British agriculture has much to fear from any Continental system. Our efficiency and our output from the land is very good. There are differences in climate and in geography, particularly in Scotland, where many of us farm, for which special treatment has always been admitted. From what I read in the various booklets that come out about the E.E.C. and agriculture, I believe there is no reason why these special circumstances which apply in some of the geographical areas should not be recognised. My Lords, I do not 185 think that our efficiency is in question, and I think that our general marketing arrangements are good; but I do not consider that we are good at marketing for the export trade, particularly in the case of beef and mutton, which are two products for which I know there will be a great market for us in Europe. I hope that the Ministry of Agriculture will give us advice and help, should that be needed, when the moment comes.
I thought that the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, speaking for the Opposition, would perhaps dwell longer on the Scottish Local Government Bill. I may say that I welcome this Bill. I hope very much that we shall have it as soon as possible. It was quite a long time ago—I think two years, at least—that I gave evidence before the Wheatley Commission on Local Government in Scotland, and we are most anxious to have this Bill. I hope that it will not be long before we have it, and I personally shall welcome it very much indeed. All local government reform has always been controversial, and no doubt this Bill will be controversial, too. I am old enough to remember the 1929 Local Government Act—the one which people are now clinging to as though it were the Ark of the Covenant. In those days, it was so unpopular that it had to be imposed. So one never knows. In any case, my Lords, I am sure local government reform is something we should have in Scotland just as much as there has been reform in England.
Lastly, I should like to say a word on the proposals for reorganising the Health Services and the social services. We are promised a Bill on this subject: and I should like to congratulate the Government on drawing up such a comprehensive scheme as is outlined in this Blue Paper, which was published in August. I hope very much that the Bill will come to this House. That will be the time to debate it in detail; but I should like to quote one paragraph from the introduction to the Blue Paper by Sir Keith Joseph. He says:Everyone is aware of gaps in our health services. Even for acute illness, where we provide at least as good a service for our whole population as any country in the world, there are some respects in which we achieve less than we could. On the non-acute side the services for the elderly, for the disabled, and for the mentally ill and the mentally handicapped have failed to attract the atten- 186 tion and indeed the resources which they need—and all the more credit to the staff who have toiled so tirelessly for their patients despite the difficulties.I am particularly interested and concerned for the mentally ill and for the mentally and physically handicapped. Nearly everyone is deeply concerned in these problems. To treat mentally ill people and to keep them out of hospital is obviously something we must provide for. I hope that we can provide hostels and sheltered communities for those who can live outside the hospital but who, without help, cannot live in the community. They need care, they need help; and this is the responsibility of the local authorities. I should like all local authorities to be urged to take these responsibilities very seriously indeed. I should like also to see the domiciliary and community services further developed in ail local authority areas; and further I should like to see the closest co-operation between the social services and the health services.
There is still much to be done. When we can read in the Press the account of the baby dying of starvation in its pram, left unattended and undiscovered for seven days, this is really appalling. Where were the social workers? Where were the neighbours to give warning of such a thing? Where was the organisation, the co-operation between the social services and the health services? If such a thing happened in my own area I should feel that there was something radically wrong with the social services for the community. One of the most difficult things to do administratively is to get co-operation between the local authorities and others. I should like to see very close links between the new National Health Service organisation in all its regional and local services and the social and community services in the local authority areas. There must be no excuses when things go wrong; no one must be allowed, in the colloquial phrase, to "pass the buck". That is all too easy. We have seen it happen on many occasions. Let us ensure, whatever legislation is passed, that this can never happen.
I greatly admire those people who give of their time and service to mentally and physically handicapped people. Only last week I was at Christchurch at a conference on organisation for autistic children and autistic adults. Four 187 hundred people attended. Many were turned away as they could not be accommodated. There were people from the United States, from France, from Denmark, from Germany and from Sweden, and there were delegates from many local authorities. Many were parents of autistic children and adults. These are the people whom we want to help through the new legislation; for when social services and education services work together they must provide education and they must provide care for these people. It was a wonderful experience to be among such dedicated people knowing how difficult are their lives and those of these autistic children. All these people are anxious to help with any schemes which the Department of Health and Social Security and the health services may put forward. We must help them through our National Health Service; and reading this Paper which the Government have put forward, we realise that the Government, too, are determined to help.
My Lords, the opening of a new Parliament is always an historic moment. This is a very difficult time in our history. It is particularly so in industrial relations; but in the area of social service and the health services I think there are great opportunities. I congratulate the Government on their plans for the future and wish them well.
§ 4.55 p.m.
§ LORD PLATT
My Lords, as the noble Baroness who has just sat down has devoted the latter part of her speech to the health services, I should like to say how very much I agree with everything that she has been saying and perhaps in particular with the necessity of putting more money and manpower (I was about to say "putting more of our resources"; but that pre-supposes they are not going to be increased) into dealing with the chronically sick and handicapped and the mentally handicapped. It is a habit of my profession, on the whole, to be more acutely interested in and excited by acute illness than by somebody who is permanently and chronically handicapped.
The question of the reform of the administration of the Health Service has been put before us in various guises in two Green Papers, a Consultative Document and a White Paper bound, just to 188 make it even more confusing, in a blue cover. As the noble Baroness has said, it would be quite wrong at this stage to go through this latter document chapter by chapter, and I do not propose to do so. I do not entirely accept some of the criticisms made by the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, who spoke on the administration. In my view, it is in general the duty of administrators to administer, and it is the duty of nurses to look after patients. I know that I have rather exaggerated what the noble Lord said on the subject, but I feel that there is much to be said for having a few able and efficient administrators, rather than these large bodies which have sometimes met around a boardroom table to run our Health Service. I know—though I hesitate to say it—that for the 16 years or so that I sat as a member of the board of governors at a teaching hospital two-thirds or three-quarters of the people on the board contributed very little indeed. Their comments might have been valuable, but they certainly were not administrating.
§ LORD HUGHES
My Lords, if I may be allowed to intervene, I may say that that was my own experience. But I found that none of the members of the board added his own name to the list of dispensables.
§ LORD PLATT
My Lords, I should like merely to issue a few words of caution on these paragraphs in the gracious Speech and in the White Paper. I say first to your Lordships in particular and to the public in general, that we must not expect too much to happen all of a sudden as a result of a reorganisation of the administration. There will not be some magical change taking place in 1974 whereby waiting lists will be abolished immediately and all complaints against the Health Service will suddenly cease.
Secondly, I should like to remind members of my own profession (though only some of them need a reminder) that whatever improved administration may do—and I think that in general the profession believes it to be necessary and welcome—the final responsibility for the quality of the care of the individual patient still rests with the medical profession and the related and supporting professions. Thirdly, I should like to say to the Government that although one may hope that the new administration may save some 189 money and manpower, which can be used in other ways in the Health Service, and reduce delays, the Government are not, with a Bill of this kind, going automatically to improve the personal service to the patient. Indeed, most of the criticism that has been raised on the White Paper has touched on the very slight mentions there are of patients in the Health Service.
Now as to the Health Commissioner, about which I think no one has so far said anything. I remember that when the question of a Parliamentary Commissioner was debated in this House, I suppose some four or five years ago now, I, slightly and rather reluctantly, opposed the suggestion that his duties should include the investigation of complains in the Health Service; and this attitude was not, I may say, just that of a paranoid doctor fearing interference with his professional judgment—quite the reverse really, my Lords. I feared that if the Commissioner were restricted simply to the investigation of complaints against administration, many of which are not of very great importance, that would be too limited. On the other hand, if his duties covered every possible complaint, in the hospital or elsewhere—for instance, that meals were served cold, and so on—he would be so overwhelmed with work that he would not be able to function efficiently at all.
How far these doubts were justified and how far they have been met we shall see when the proposals for the appointment of a Health Service Commissioner are put before us. Although I have not given notice that I proposed to raise this subject I am sure that the House would be grateful if, in his summing-up, the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, were able to say something about it. It is my personal belief, my Lords, that most complaints, at any rate in hospitals, are due to lack of communication at all levels. It is my hope that the appointment of a Commissioner may have some preventive rather than a curative effect. I hope that the mere fact that the patient or his relatives have an independent person before whom they can lay their complaints may make doctors, administrators, nurses, and all others in the Health Service, more careful that their communication between each other and above all between themselves and the patient, are 190 given a higher priority than sometimes seems to be the case at the present time. I shall look forward with much interest to reading the scope of responsibilities of the new Commissioner, and I hope that I and other members of the profession will be able to support this new departure.
§ 5.4 p.m.
§ LORD SOPER
My Lords, I assume that by whatever standards this particular gracious Speech is tested and by whatever standards the reply that has been given is judged, nothing can prevent the attention which must be given to the reference to the increase in manifested, or in the manifestation of, violence. If it is true, then it is the most ominous and the most threatening of all the conditions which we have to face. I think it is ambiguous as it stands and is liable to two constructions. If you transfer the word "manifest" as the adjective to the word "violence" I think there is no doubt that there has been an increase in manifest violence; that is, the kind of violence which comes to light. This is due not only to the fact that there are many more laws on which indictments can be framed; it is not only due to the fact that more of those who commit violent acts are liable to be apprehended; it is of course also due to the fact that there are more people who can commit violent acts.
For some time I have been dubious as to whether, in the other sent e of the word, there is in fact an increase in violence per se. I am reluctantly bound to come to the conclusion that this also is true and is the most lamentable and ominous aspect of the whole matter. I do not say this because a fortnight ago I was knocked down off my perch in Hyde Park at Speaker's Corner—it was the first time that had happened to me in peace-time—although I confess that it has had some slight effect on my thinking; but rather because of the violence of the amount of violence which seems to be in the very air we now breathe, and which represents itself in so many aspects of an affluent society which were absent from previous societies. Therefore I welcome honest and resolute attempts to deal with this criminal violence and quite impermissible level of evil, because l believe that unless we can contain it, in order that later on we may reduce it, it will be for our overthrow.
191 My Lords, it is in that respect that I should like to say, in the friendliest of spirits, that I welcome and approve of many of the attempts which the Government have been making, and which the previous Government made, and which are in the pipeline for further operation, whereby violence can be contained. But I confess that I am apprehensive of the attitude which hitherto has, I think, characterised most attempts to deal with violence, which have concentrated on the person and ignored the environment. It was with great pleasure that I listened to the noble Viscount expressing a change in the philosophy and politics as represented by those on the other side of this House, which brings them much nearer to a Socialist view of society than has hitherto, I think, obtained in many of their deliberations. They may be slow to progress along this new and untravelled road; but I wish them well because I have been long convinced that it is within the framework of the environment and the individual that the true facts about violence can alone be ascertained.
If it is true, as I suppose it is, that over Heathrow there is squirted into the atmosphere something like ten thousand tons of carbon monoxide every year, then those who live in that area have no option and are inveterably and without any consent on their part victims of the inhalation of this poisonous stuff; their lungs are affected by the amount of that poison which does not go with the wind. I believe it just as true to say that many parts of the West End of London, not far from where I work, are polluted environments, with the "crystal rooms" with their "one-arm bandits" and their two-fisted layabouts, and the kind of sleazy strip shops. I am not going into the question of pornography, but it is, at any rate, an aesthetically regrettable aspect of that part of London, with its continuous application of pressures of all kinds to activities which at least cannot be called particularly civilised, and I think are, on the whole, degrading.
It would be very foolish to claim the same inevitable causal relationship between that kind of pollution and the kind of pollution over London Airport. I think your Lordships will agree that there is a marked difference; but that 192 difference does not entirely dismiss what, for me, is a very important proposition: that if you are going to find out what is the moral culpability of those who are violent, you must very carefully examine the environment in which that violence takes place. For there is a statistical relationship, if not a causal one. May I refer your Lordships to what for many years has appeared to me to be the locus classicus in this matter, none other than Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment. It is a remarkable document in which, if you remember, he associates certain of the environmental elements which go with the violent crime of murder with characters such as Marmeladov; Svudrigailov, the criminal who shoots himself, and Roskolnikov, more or less the hero. I apologise for the length of these names—and I have probably ill-pronounced them—but unfortunately there are not so many Toms, Dicks and Harrys in Russia. I will present what I can of the proper verbiage if I am asked for it afterwards. The fact of the matter is that with absolutely amazing insight, as I see it, he recognises the contributory factors that the environment plays in the tragedy and the ultimate redemption, or the beginning of the redemption, of his hero.
May I begin with Marmeladov? Marmeladov is an expression, I think in unparalleled clarity, of what happens within the general framework of alcoholism. I am not going to beat the drum again, as I have done on many occasions, to any great length or with any great intensity, but I should like to ask the Minister whether he can tell us what happened to the £2 million that was "skating around" for the benefit of those who are trying to deal with alcoholism. I would venture to remind myself, and perhaps your Lordships, of the intimate relationship in the present situation between alcoholism or drunkenness and violence. I do not believe that the terraces of our football matches would be as infected with violence if those who were on those terraces were not carrying cans of beer with them. I am quite satisfied that the situation in Ireland would not be entirely repaired if it was a sober country, but I am sure that the whole matter is further polluted by the presence of alcohol in large quantities in Northern Ireland. I have long since, as an operator within 193 the general field of social service, realised that prostitution and alcohol go very closely together. And, furthermore, I have no doubt whatever from certain people of my acquaintance in prison that mugging—which is no new phenomenon; it has acquired a new transatlantic name and has received a great deal more publicity but it has always been a practice in the darker purlieus of Soho—is associated with drink. Greatly as I would deplore any attempt to be soft with the mugger, or excuse violence when it is found, many of those who practise violence are incapacitated by drink from making moral judgments when they do it. It is unquestionably true that within the framework of the society of the recovered alcoholic all that you can expect is a kind of permanent convalescence. I hope that the Government will feel able to stimulate the provision of hostels for those who are not only being dried out from alcoholism itself, but are also only able to sustain a more or less reputable life away from drink if they have some kind of protected housing. I will say no more about that theme.
On the theme of poverty and squalor Svudrigailov is the exemplar in Crime and Punishment, and here there are certain matters which are, in my judgment, of immediate importance. There is a great deal more poverty in the great cities, and in the centres of the great cities, than most people are prepared to entertain as a proposition because it would give them so much discomfort. The number of those who sleep rough is, as the latest figures show, something like 5,000; and the number of those who have no homes to go to, and those who are impoverished to the point of almost total deprivation, is very large. I will not quote what can always be contested as statistics. I will only say that I think it is beyond any question whatever that a great many of those who are entitled under the benevolent schemes of welfare that are already on the Statute Book do not in fact take up those opportunities. If we are talking about ombudsmen, I would far rather see the Government pay for certain people whose main responsibility it would be to see that people who are entitled to this kind of welfare should be assisted to get it. For some people, I know, their only remaining cosseted virtue is pride; it is 194 the one thing that they have left in penurious circumstances, and they are not prepared to do what I suppose most reasonable people would obviously want to do; that is, to claim that to which they are entitled. In some of these welfare services something like 27 per cent. represents the number of people who actually apply for and receive that to which they are entitled. Furthermore, I believe that poverty and the crime that goes with it are as intimately associated as they were when Bernard Shaw first said that poverty was a crime. It is because of this that I am well aware of the way in which, for instance, the unemployed youth, to which an important reference was made, is likely to be violent out of a sense of frustration, out of a sense of deprivation, out of the sheer continuous frustration of having nothing constructive to do. I do not excuse him, but in God's name I hope that we understand him; and I hone that we do not treat him as some kind of pariah who is to be regarded as just to be put out of the way so that we no longer have to care for him.
With regard to Roskolnikov himself, as your Lordships will know, he is set within the framework of money: and those who have examined the extraordinary complexities of Dostoevsky's mind will have come up with a number of abstruse and complicated theories. But one that is as plain as a pikestaff is that in two ways the violence of Roskolnikov was stimulated by money. It was that he had not the money with which to pursue the operations that he needed to pursue every day, and he had not the money to do those things which in his own heart he wanted to do for his friends, and particularly for his parents. That is not an unworthy attitude, but it is one which, in a world where money plays such a predominant part, is an extremely important and cardinal incentive to violence. And in one respect, in my view, it has a peculiar and contemporary significance. It might well have been that Dostoyevsky would have included gambling as one of the environmental propositions with regard to crime, particularly as he was an inveterate compulsive gambler himself and committed many acts of violence in order to satisfy his craving. I have the strongest conviction that many of those who engage 195 in violent acts of sudden mugging are those who are already involved in the enticing practice of gambling and want to lay their hands quickly on money. It is the tremendous opportunity that is given within the society in which we live to at least express, and to satisfy, superficial desires. The possession of cash has a great deal to do with much of the violent crime, at least in the West End of London, which I know perhaps rather better than some other places.
It is true—and nobody would wish to debate it, surely—that ultimately a man must be judged according to his own moral responsibilities. But it enheartens me that we have 'listened this afternoon, through the noble Viscount, to a proposition for dealing with violence which does not exclude, but rather invites, the entertaining view, and I believe the constructive view, that within the general framework of violence must be taken into account the environment which so largely stimulates it. I would go much further, and I hope that the Government will, too. I believe that only when we have restructured the system itself can we ever find an adequate criterion of the moral responsibility of those who happen to live in it. Both professionally, from my standpoint as a practising Christian, and from the standpoint of any humanistic inquiry to-day, surely it is right that the true end of government should be to make it easier for people to satisfy their genuine desires, and not first and above all to make it harder for them to do what is wrong. That provision of the kind of environment which is inviting is, I believe, the true answer to violence. In that, may I congratulate the Government on the general trend which If notice in their activities, and hope that they will press along that road with greater intensity as the days go by.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ LORD AUCKLAND
My Lords, any speech that the noble Lord, Lord Soper, makes in your Lordships' House commands the utmost respect even from those who may not agree chapter and verse with every word that he says. I recall well in the times when I worked in the City of London going to listen to the noble Lord on Tower Hill during the lunch hour and at least being extremely 196 interested it' not in agreement with what he said. I think what he said this afternoon deserves the most careful thought.
Any gracious Speech, read word for word, is invariably platitudinous, from whichever Government it emanates, but when it comes to a question of priorities I believe the gracious Speech which we are now discussing has them just about right. I should like to concentrate most of my brief remarks on the social services, and particularly on the Health Service. I have given my noble friend Lord Aberdare notice of one or two questions.
I believe that one of the most important Blue Papers we have had for many years is the Report from Professor Briggs and his committee on Nursing. This is a very far-reaching Report, and obviously, particularly with the time check which is now in operation in your Lordships' House, it would not be relevant or indeed socially desirable to dwell on it this afternoon; but I would hope that we might have an early debate on this Report, in view of its utmost importance. I should like to refer briefly to two aspects of it, since the Health Service is one of the main subjects we are debating to-day. The first was touched on by the noble Lord, Lord Platt; that is, the Health Service Ombudsman. It is not, I believe, part of this particular Blue Paper but it is something which has been campaigned for for a very long time. It is going to be very important that the Ombudsman himself is enabled to get his priorities right. I should like to ask my noble friend if he would comment very briefly on what the Ombudsman is seeking to do, and also to ask whether the aim is primarily to deal with complaints from nursing staffs against what they regard as unreasonable discipline imposed upon them by their superiors, or whether it is intended that he should receive complaints from patients concerning overbearing or inadequate treatment, or such things as bad food.
In this respect, I would mention that recently a famous expert on food visited certain hospitals, sampled their food and came back with some scathing comments. Some of the hospitals hit back. I can only say that the one hospital on whose house committee I sit would hardly qualify for the strictures which were placed on it by this particular person. 197 I have myself eaten in the staff canteen on a number of occasions when I have been visiting the hospital as a member of the house committee. I believe that the catering staff there, as in most hospitals, do an extremely good job. It is, of course, most important for the morale of both staff and patients that a reasonable standard of catering is maintained.
I should like, if I may, to refer to just two paragraphs of the Briggs Report. The first is paragraph 215, which refers to the status of student nurses. Of course we all know that student nurses have to perform duties which in the ordinary "student" sense would not normally be performed. They have to assume responsibilities, particularly in mental hospitals, which in many professions even junior managers would not have to assume, and I hope that when we come to discuss this Report in detail a particular tribute will be paid to the very large band of student nurses in this country.
Paragraph 334 concerns management education. Of course, we do not want to turn our nurses into business managers or anything like that, but I believe that a number of colleges which at present run training courses—and here I am thinking particularly of the Staff College for Matrons at which I have had the honour of speaking several times—do a very good job. In these times, when nursing and medicine generally are assuming very technical proportions, there may well be a case for increasing the facilities for management, and particularly for senior grades of nurses. This would seem to be a subject which needs looking into.
I should also like to say just a word about nurse recruitment. There has been an improvement here and, certainly in the area where I live, there has been an improvement in the recruiting of British-born nurses. Those who criticise the increasing number of immigrants coming into this country might do well to visit some of our hospitals and see the work that our nurses from overseas carry out. Again referring to the hospital on whose house committee I sit, we have many nationalities of nurses working there, and they all seem to get on with each other extremely well. Of course, I am not trying to say that increasing immigration 198 does not have its social problems: of course it does. I am certainly not saying that some forms of control at some point are not necessary: of course they are. However, it has often been said—and needs saying again—that if we were to impose maximum controls on immigration our Health Service would go into a far more critical state than it is in now. Of course we must do all we can to encourage more student nurses, and indeed doctors, from this country not only to go into the profession but to stay in it. Here we come to the question of exchange visits. It is a very good thing for our own nurses to go to other countries, to learn from the health services of those countries and to exchange ideas.
I should like to mention something which has not been mentioned so far and which has a hearing on what we are discussing to-day. That is the Report by the noble Lord. Lord Zuckerman, on cancer research. This is a very valuable Green Paper, which needs the utmost study by Her Majesty's Government. I think the House would like to hive an assurance from the Government that there will be no slackening off of Government aid for this resarch. I do not suppose that many of us have had in the past either a relation or friend who his not died from cancer and it is one of the scourges of our life. Very young people die of it and many young lives are wasted. I implore the Government to proceed as swiftly as possible with increasing aid to those who are doing such marvellous work at Lincoln's Inn Fields, and elsewhere, on this matter.
There is much more that one could say on this gracious Speech. I was glad to read in one of the daily newspapers that there is a good chance that the National Health Service Bill will begin in your Lordships' House. I can think of no better place for it to start because I believe it may well be one of the most important Bills that we have had for many years. I, and I am sure all your Lordships, look forward to discussing this matter further.
§ 5.31 p.m.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
My Lords, I always welcome a debate oh tile Queen's Speech because it enables one to ventilate matters near to one's heart and perhaps plant a few seeds which 199 may germinate next year. Like the noble Lord who has just spoken. I propose to speak on one aspect of the Health Service. I will not follow him precisely, but I agreed with everything that he has said to-day—which is a quite unusual statement coming from the Opposition to one on the Government side.
I wish to draw the attention of the Government to the powerful pharmaceutical industry whose activities I believe call for some measure of nationalisation. That has now been included in the policy document of the Labour Party. The thalidomide tragedy has shocked the world. It is a little difficult to believe to-day that on the tenth anniversary of the catastrophe there are thousands of children who, despite the burdens of their appalling deformities, still have not received adequate compensation. I am surprised that the enormously wealthy pharmaceutical industry has not collectively brought to bear some pressure upon one of its powerful components, tile Distillers Company. Surely this shameful state of affairs, which has been ventilated in every newspaper, is a reflection on the whole industry.
The tragedy of the thalidomide children should compel society to recognise the fearful future which individuals must face if, purely inadvertently, they take pills, powders and potions which have been prescribed for them but about which we know too little. The thalidomide case shows the whole world that here is a case of power without responsibility. The time is long overdue for the producers of drugs to establish an effective insurance scheme which can be relied upon to make some redress to their victims. In no other field in life is the individual so much at risk, and the tragedy is that he is put at risk when he is already perhaps suffering from some complaint. The doctor, in all good faith, will come along and prescribe some medicament which has been inadequtely tested. I believe that this matter is of such grave importance that the Government should consider whether this powerful industry—the pharmaceutical industry—should in some measure be nationalised and so come under effective Parliamentary control.
I was very impressed by the theme the Chief Medical Officer, Sir George 200 Godber, in the annual report for 1971. He sought to criticise public apathy concerning preventive medicine and the general promotion of good health. I say this in parenthesis, because I wish to come back later to the point about the pharmaceutical industry. It is remarkable, for example, that people regard tuberculosis as a disease which has been conquered, when to-day it is responsible for more deaths than any other notifiable infectious disease. We had thought that the days of deaths from tuberculosis were far behind us. Furthermore, while the tracing of contacts may be having an increasing effect on gonorrhœa, nevertheless the number of cases in children under 16 has risen by more than 10 per cent. in a year. We have all this publicity about pornography; our attention is diverted in this way. But how little investigation is made, how little knowledge exists, on these matters which concern the young, the complete dependants, the innocent and the ignorant! As a great admirer of the Chief Medical Officer, particularly with regard to his consistent pronouncements on the dangers of smoking—and I look along the Bench to my noble friend Lord Shepherd—
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
I congratulate the noble Lord—perhaps it is in consequence of the number of debates that we have had in this House on the subject.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
Women always know that finally it pays off. My Lords, I am very disappointed that the Chief Medical Officer of Health does not give a warning concerning apathy in respect of pharmaceutical preparations and the potential dangers of the pills, powders and potions with which the population doses itself. We find that the most intelligent people have surprising faith in some pill about which they know absolutely nothing and which perhaps has been inadequately tested.
Perhaps noble Lords do not know that those who are responsible for testing the various medicaments (let us call them that) ask the G.P.s to watch for side 201 effects. These are the instructions. If the G.P. is frightened by what he sees he should immediately inform a central authority. What a primitive way to go about things! The pill or medicine is so inadequately tested that it goes out to the G.P. in the knowledge that it is necessary for him to watch for side-effects. We are told in the report that some of the letters from G.P.s are not coming in as rapidly as they should. The busy G.P. has no time to write these letters, even if he sees some side-effects. The patient recovers, or is taken off the drug, with the result that the side-effect ceases and nothing more is done about it.
I am concerned particularly with one category in the community, because I know that in this matter it is better to concentrate on one aspect of the subject. I am concerned particularly with the 1½ million women who are taking the contraceptive pill. Last week—this is all very recent—the Committee on the Safety of Medicines published a reassuring report on the tests of oral contraceptives for carcinogenicity in rats and mice. In consequence, the Chief Medical Officer appears to have derived some comfort; and the pharmaceutical industry immediately announces that it proposes to manufacture six more varieties of pill, to swell its bulging coffers.
Not for one moment do I claim some special scientific knowledge of the subject, but I believe that it is important and relevant to quote the experts who have contributed to the subject in the British Medical Journal. I am referring to the journals of the last two or three weeks, which are all in the Library for anyone to inspect and read. On October 14 last, in the first article, under the heading "Infertility After the Pill", we are told that:A disquieting feature of treatment with oral contraceptives is receiving increasing attention among gynaecologists. This is that some women, on discontinuing the use of oral contraceptives, do not experience a normal return to menses, but may remain amenorrhoic for years. This state of post-pill amenorrhoea was first noted in 1966 by three separate groups of workers; since then the number of reports have mounted rapidly.I would say in parenthesis that of course I am in favour of birth control, as I have said before in this House; I taught it when I was a very young doctor. But it seems to me that those who "push" the 202 pill on family planning grounds should warn their clients that, after taking the pill, it may not be possible to plan another pregnancy because the pill has rendered them infertile.
Last week, on October 28, the British Medical Journal contained an article under the heading, "Tests on the Pill for Carcinogenicity". Before I quote, let me first say that it questions how far tests of oral contraceptives, and the findings on rats and mice, are valid in respect of women. It points to the omission of important information. I quote:In some instances the high doses of the compounds led to premature death of the animals, either from general toxicity or from certain tumours. As a result the incidence of other tumours may be reduced. This needs to be borne in mind when assessing tumour yield.I should have thought that that was a very simple deduction which should have been made before this report was sent out to reassure doctors in the country. I would say that the summing-up must be taken very seriously by the Minister of Health. The summing-up is this:Many people who feel oppressed by the increasing threat of world over-population would desperately like the 'pill' to be found safe from the point of view of cancer. The studies now reported neither incriminate oral contraceptives as carcinogens nor exonerate them. We shall simply have to wait and see what the epidemiologists learn from prospective studies.If the oral contraceptive is not exonerated, then the greatest vigilance should be exercised and the confidence instilled by the publication of the Committee on the Safety of Medicine must be questioned. I ask the Minister of Health to consider these reports in the British Medical Journal which are of paramount importance to the 1½ million women in this country who are taking the pill.
The cost of the pharmaceutical service of the National Health Service is at least £80 million. My noble friend may tell me whether it has increased, as it may have done. When the methods of the industry were investigated by the Public Accounts Committee in 1960 they reported:There is no doubt that very considerable sums are spent on sales promotion of these drugs by their manufacturers particularly in attempting to influence prescribing by both general practitioners and hospital doctors.My Lords, I have spoken for the requisite time and that is my case. I would ask that 203 the Minister should read the views of the experts published in the last few weeks and ask himself whether, in the light of these, more pills should be released on the ignorant and innocent potential mothers of this country. Has not the time arrived when this massive industry, which exercises such power over human welfare and happiness, should be subject to at least partial nationalisation and to close Parliamentary control?
§ 5.46 p.m.
§ LORD HANKEY
My Lords, we always listen with particularly close attention to the noble Baroness who has just sat down when speaking on a subject to which she has contributed so much. But I am somewhat changing the subject now in the direction of education. It seems to me that the extension of the school leaving age to 16 in September gives an enormous opportunity to our teachers to purvey certain ideas to the young which I believe to be necessary in the world in which we live. Let me explain what I mean fundamentally by the word "idea". I once went to a rather boring dinner in Warsaw just after the war and found myself sitting opposite General Spychalski, who was at that time the Communist officer responsible for purveying politics to the Polish Army. The point was reached where the atmosphere in our part of the room just had to be hotted up. So, fixing the General with my bright and roving eye, I said, "Look, there is something I don't understand about what you do, General. If we purvey politics to our Army, we reckon it won't fight. Why do you think that if you purvey politics to yours, the Polish Army will?" The General brightened up considerably at this point and replied, "Oh, you haven't understood the point at all. You see, your secret weapon is the atom bomb. But our secret weapon is the Idea, and we believe that if you can bond a million men together with the same Idea they will fight even better than if they had the atom bomb."
It is amusing to recall, though totally irrelevant to this speech, that the General was some years subsequently accused of plotting with the American Ambassador and myself to restore a régime of priests and landlords in Poland and was condemned to 10 years in prison. When Stalin died a few years later he was 204 released and within three months or so became Minister of Defence and afterwards was President of Poland for many years, thus showing what was the official opinion of Stalin's justice. However, the point I want to make is to recall what the General said about the Idea. Starting on the same topic from a totally different angle, I recall that St. Ignatius Loyola said: "Give me the child until he is seven and the Devil may try to have him all the rest of his life." It seems to me that, with the extension of the school age, we ought perhaps to be looking at what is taught in our schools with a view to preparing our young people to enter upon life as the most useful, valuable and constructive citizens possible. We should prepare them to take their place and appreciate their responsibilities and duties in the great community in which they live.
So, I see three subjects which I believe to be inadequately covered in our schools at present. One is citizenship; the position of Parliament in the State, and the relationship between law and the citizen. I believe that a proper appreciation of this is most necessary. Of course it is covered in many schools, but I believe it is inadequately done. Secondly (and the noble Baroness may be interested in this), parenthood is a subject of great importance. The responsibilities and duties of these young people as parents is something which is going to be of enormous importance to them in one or two years' time—and some of them, for all we know, may even be parents before they leave school. I believe that some instruction on the rights and duties of parents would be a valuable corrective to the eternal talk of sex.
The third subject—and I risk being called thoroughly "square" for saying this—is morals: I do not mean just sex morals; I mean social responsibility and the relationship between the individual and the community. I think that some young people do not seem to have a very deep appreciation of this. Many, of course, do: but many do not, and I believe that this would be a valuable corrective for young people who might otherwise be tempted to turn into misfits, It is not that I think we want to brainwash the young people—that is the last idea I have—but we should help them to think and act constructively.
205 In saying this I am painfully aware of the fact that the Ministry of Education and Science do not lay down exactly what the schools have to teach. With the exception, I think, of a certain degree of non-denominational religious education, that is left to the headmasters. I cannot imagine how the Department of Education and Science would deal with this, but I submit that in view of the great social problems we have in our community, with the really admirable young people we have—and most of them are admirable—we ought to be thinking more constructively and helping them to do the same.
But I want to turn my attention to-night to the place and function of education in our country—and, for that matter, in other countries—in the light of the extension of the European Communities to include ourselves and Eire and Denmark. I believe that the schools need the Idea—with a capital "I"—in this field as well. The idea of Europe is at present hardly understood: and is this surprising? The British start with "1066 and all that"; they make a bow in the direction of Henry VIII and the Armada and Nelson and Wellington. We dwell much more on our disagreements with all our neighbours than with anything else. Look across the Channel: the French think about Louis XIV and Napoleon, with a bow in the direction of Richelieu; and the Germans are thinking of Frederick the Great and Bismarck—although I must say for the Germans that occasionally they do speak about Charlemagne.
I wonder whether we should not rethink our approach in our schools. I should like to say that as the last President of O.E.E.C. my principal difficulty in getting agreement round the table—it was only 18 nations in those days; it is now 23—was that although we all spoke English and French pretty nearly equally, the Nordics did not really understand the Latins and the Latins did not really understand the Nordics. The situation was a very curious one. This again is a point on which I think in the new Europe which we are now building the educational authorities have really to try to think what contribution they can make to produce a greater understanding. How can this be done?
206 If I had not got some constructive idea I would not speak about this, but I want to say that in South Wales we have a school called the Atlantic College which is bringing young people together for the last two years before university and teaching them to co-operate and understand each other across differences of language and race and colour, and more especially also, social origin. This strange idea is working extremely well. The Atlantic College is part of an organisation called the United World Colleges, and here I must declare an interest because I am a member of the International Council. There is another school the aims of which are the same, in Singapore. It has a large number of students, and it is an associated college of the United World Colleges. We were asked to lend a hand by Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, the Prime Minister of Singapore, who wanted to set it up to help Singapore itself. Very advanced plans are in hand for one, and possibly, two, colleges in North America—in Canada and in the United State;, under joint auspices, and it is interesting that the Japanese are very interested in those projects. We are now moving into Europe, with advanced plans in Germany and other plans in Italy. May I say at this point that the United World Colleges are totally international. We have -national committees in 25 different countries and the chairmen of the national committees form an international council of which the noble Earl, Lord Mountbatten, is the chairman.
It is interesting to recall that for Atlantic College the capital also was put up internationally: the British Government put up £100,000, the German Government put up £72,000; a generous Frenchman bought the college, which is St. Donat's Castle, for £65,000; the Ford Foundation put up 500,000 dollars and British industry and foundations have put up the rest, about £2 million. There are at Atlantic College 310 students from some 36 different countries. They are chosen entirely on merit, which means that there have to be scholarships. Seventy per cent. of the students are on scholarships. We have had people of every class and type from all over the place: we have had the son of a Greek taxi driver, and I think I am right in saying that we have had the daughter of a Spanish truck driver, so really we cover 207 the social spectrum as well as the international spectrum. But I must say that as this is the beginning of a project this particular college is not comprehensive in terms of academic ability. It is of a very high academic standard, and in due course we shall have to think about that aspect.
The scholarships which I mentioned are put up by all sorts of people. The British local education authorities put up a good many. Many Governments all over the world put up scholarships; foundations and companies put up many others, as do the trade unions in a number of countries, because they are also closely interested, and some of our greatest trade unions are represented on our board.
There is an amusing story involving the trade unions. In 1940 a French trade union sent one of its representatives over to England with a large bar of gold, because they did not want their reserves to fall into the hands of the Germans. They gave it to the National Union of General and Municipal Workers to keep for them until after the war. When peace came the National Union of General and Municipal Workers looked around to see whom they could give this gold back to, but the French union had disappeared without trace. The N.U.G.M.W. were advised that they could not safely give it to anybody but the correct organisation, so they had to keep the gold for 30 years, until 1970, when the Statute of Limitations took effect. They then gave the gold to Lord Mountbatten to set up a line of scholarships for the sons and daughters of French trade unionists. So we have a line of French trade unionists in the Atlantic College—and, incidentally, a teacher sent by the Quai d'Orsay.
This is not an "ivory tower". The students are not only engaged in their academic work because if you want to teach them to co-operate you have to give them something to co-operate over; so they perform all sorts of social service. They go out in the Welsh villages; they run a sea rescue service which has saved many lives; and they are engaged in work of real value. Social service is also very prominent in the college in Singapore, and indeed the whole emphasis in our organisation is on responsibility to the community.
208 You may say: "That is all very well. You bring these young people together, but what sort of educational courses do you have? Well, my Lords, we have thought of that one, too. An international foundation has been established in Geneva which has set up an international school-leaving examination known as the International Baccalaureate with courses which are internationally agreed. The whole thing is completely international: the President is a Belgian, the Director-General is Mr. Peterson, the head of the Department of Educational Studies at Oxford University, and the Director is a prominent Frenchman. Various Ministers are on our Council. So is UNESCO. At our meeting last month we had the Minister of Education of Holland and also the former Minister of Education of Morocco—in flowing robes.
The extraordinary thing about this examination is that it is already used in international schools in every continent of the world, and any student who does the examination effectively can go to a university practically anywhere—may I say, not Russia or China, but pretty nearly anywhere else. It is thus widely used, and I believe this is the first time that an educational programme of this sort has been the subject of agreement between the British, French, Germans, Belgians, Dutch, Scandinavians, Spanish, Americans, Canadians, Moroccans, Lebanese, et cetera. It is a very long list.
The United World Colleges are occupied at the moment in educating hundreds, or possibly thousands of students. The Ministries of Education in each country are interested in educating the millions, and I am not saying that what we are doing can be copied everywhere. The point I do want to make is that this is a pilot experiment of very great interest and potential value to the new Europe, and I believe that it shows a way to enable people to understand each other and to co-operate across their differences of culture and social origin and also to help them to co-operate with other peoples outside Europe—because the Atlantic College is a very outward-looking college.
Another interesting point is that the College has proved to be of tremendous interest to Ministries of Education in providing a training ground for teachers from 209 State schools who may want to know about the problems of international education. These problems are now only beginning to be met with in national schools, but they are problems that we shall have to face a good deal more widely. So a good many Ministries of Education are interested and are sending teachers to see what happens there. I must say that both teachers and ex-students have seemed to me to be living witnesses of the value of a new system which I believe will be appreciated very much in Europe. It is interesting that the European Communities authorities in Brussels are also starting to think about this. They have recently set up a section on training and education, the head and deputy head of which have been over to see our college and have expressed great interest in it. There is a Committee of Ministers of Education in Brussels which will be thinking about the problems of education on the Continent. I believe they are first setting up a kind of educational research centre to think about these problems and to advise on them. There are also the European schools for the children of European Community officials.
At an altogether different level, but always about education, I want to draw attention to the European Institute of Business Administration at Fontainebleau, usually known as INSEAD. That is also a completely international institution, with a Dutch President and with many people from different countries on the board. It runs a ten-months' course in the very latest techniques of business management. The Dean of Studies comes from Harvard and many of the ideas of the Harvard Business School have been transmogrified, Europeanised and generally made applicable in our Continent. But what I wish to say is that all the work is done in English, French and German, and everybody who comes there has to know all three languages very well. And here again I must declare an interest, as I am an honorary Vice-President. What we are doing there is to try to form a cadre of European businessmen able to apply the latest techniques of business management, in three languages at least, anywhere in Europe and virtually anywhere in the world. I believe that in the new circumstances of our entry into Europe INSEAD ought to have particularly good support from the United Kingdom, both in 210 students and in funds, and I believe that any support we can give it will be handsomely repaid. About 8 or 10 per cent. of the students in most years are British; they do particularly well there avid make an exceptionally valuable contribution.
To conclude, I should like to summarise what I have said by saying that Europe is really a new idea to most people—largely I believe it is an economist's pipedream. But I believe that this is really not enough: we have to go very much further. If we are to draw Europe together, the idea (but with a capital "I") must be made a reality in the hearts and minds of men. I venture to think that that is where education comes in and that we ought to be thinking in that direction. I also think that the United World Colleges are showing a new way in which education can be used to draw men and women together. For those who are interested in this question, it would really repay some study. I also believe that over in Fontainebleau INSEAD is doing much the same but at a different level. Both should be of great interest in Brussels and especially now, in the new circumstances, in this country.
§ 6.10 p.m.
My Lords, in Her Majesty's gracious Speech reference was made to a different death duties system on which a Green Paper has been written. I welcome this, because it gives Her Majesty's Government the opportunity to revise the. 45 per cent. rebate duty on agricultural land. To claim this rebate, the land should have been owned for seven years prior to the death, or to have been fanned for that period prior to the death, by the owner-occupier. Rich men soon to die buy land to escape some of their death duties. Speculators buy land as a buffer against inflation. Between the two classes of purchasers the value of the land has doubled, trebled, and in some cases quadrupled in the past three years. The 45 per cent. rebate was introduced to help land-owners to maintain the estates or to help owner-occupiers to farm the land. The inflation of land prices has had the opposite effect. Higher death duties have to be paid on the inflated value rather than on the intrinsic value which is determined by the value of what the land can produce. Therefore I pray that the Government will consider my 211 recommendation of seven-year ownership or owner-occupation for the rebate of 45 per cent.
§ 6.11 p.m.
§ BARONESS PHILLIPS
My Lords, we are coming now to the end of a very interesting debate, and I would not presume to cover the ground covered so admirably by my noble friend Lady Summerskill on health and by my noble friend Lord Gardiner on law, and so on. I should, of course, like to congratulate most sincerely the mover and the seconder of the Address. Their speeches were excellent. I did not agree with all they said—in fact, on reflection I agreed with very little—but it did not in any way detract from the fact that I thought they were excellent speeches. I am asked to convey an apology from the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, which I believe the noble Lord. Lord Aberdare, already has.
I will simply select two sentences from the gracious Speech. It always seems to me a masterly piece of understatement. I am reminded of the story of the Minister of State travelling in a large chauffeur-driven car in a small village. They had lost their way—it could not have been the last Government; I think it must have been this one—and the chauffeur enquired of a gentleman standing there what was the name of the village. He replied, "I don't know; I don't live here". The reply from the Minister was: "That's a very good Governmental statement. It's brief and it adds nothing to the knowledge you already have". I always feel that that is the situation regarding the gracious Speech.
I will take a sentence from the last gracious Speech which intrigued me at the time and still does:Legislation will be brought before you to promote active competition and fair trading, and to extend consumer protection in the sale of goods.This time it has changed a little:Legislation will be introduced to promote fair trading and competition and to improve the provisions of the law regarding insurance companies. Other measures to protect the consumer will be proposed.On the last Speech nothing happened, but I am a little more hopeful that from this one we shall in fact get something. Indeed, we already have a Bill that is laid before us for the first time. I con- 212 gratulate the noble Earl, the Leader of the House, in securing the Supply of Goods (Implied Terms) Bill for this House.
But at the risk of seeming ungrateful, may I refer to the debate on Crowther, when the Government spokesman assured me that the Department was studying the Report with a view to possible action? May I remind your Lordships that emphasis was placed on the need for a total reform of the law regulating credit and security, and how relevant this matter is today. In the last few weeks a vast scheme of credit has been unleashed. Take the waiting out of wanting is the attractive slogan. Apart from the fact that the issue of all this credit seems to be a very interesting piece of inertia selling—"You will receive the card if you do not indicate you do not want it"—the amount of credit offered bears direct relation to those who have overdrafts or hover on the brink of an overdraft. I have heard of young people who have been given a potential credit rating of £250. I foresee an increasing mass of debt, with all the attendant misery that that brings. Those of us who are magistrates know this only too well. We might ask who will pay for the issue of all this credit. Presumably it will be the cash customer; indeed, all who hank with the banks who are busy issuing the cards are actually supplying the money which will enable the banks to continue this operation. What protection is there against fraud? It can never be right to encourage people to spend beyond their means, particularly in a period of galloping inflation, and those of us who sit in the courts see the ultimate results of this sort of thing—broken homes and destroyed lives.
Writing in The Times, very suitably, this week, Professor Goode, one of the distinguished members of the Crowther Committee, reminded us of the statement made by the Committee when they made their Report:Faced with the alternative of recommending minor changes in credit law or a sweeping review, we have come down firmly in favour of the latter. In our view the state of the law affecting credit transactions is such that to tinker with minor amendments would achieve little except perhaps to add still further complexity to an already complex picture.213 He says, quite rightly, that the present indications—and the Bill we have been notified of suggests this—are that the Government propose to do the very thing that everyone agreed should not be done: to leave the existing legislation largely intact and graft on to it still further anomalies. Instead of a modern, rational, equitable structure of legislation we shall have even more complexity, an even more anomalous situation. There is not going to be, so far as we can see, a Lending and Security Bill there is not going to be a comprehensive Sale and Loan Bill, but we have a Goods and Services Bill. I beg of the Government that the Crowther Report should not become dead and buried by the issue of one Bill.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, referred to the Law Commission. This was established in 1966 to promote law reform, and here is an admirable opportunity for this body to consider and report, and for the Government to act. How else are the Government going to protect the consumer? The noble Baroness, Lady Elliot, seemed to have some inside knowledge, because she referred to the setting up of a new body. I know that the newspapers have touted this idea around, but I have so far been unable to see any statement by a Minister that we are in fact to have any kind of new consumer organisation. How else are we to get it, and why are we going to need it? When we enter the European Economic Community we shall find that nearly all the other Governments there have some form of consumer authority. We have none. We shall find—and nobody has denied this—that prices will rise. We are at the moment in the middle of a discussion on wages and prices. Over the years many of us have emphasised the close connection between earning and spending. Is it not time for the Government to institute a national prices register, not just one recommended by manufacturers but a realistic market pricing system which would impartially inform the shopper on the current price of all goods?
I turn now to the second and rather sparse statement on another subject in which I am deeply interested, and this is the statement on education:My Ministers will present to Parliament proposals to extend the education service and to set new priorities.214 That is not a very dramatic or exciting announcement. What are those proposals going to be? Dr. Halsey is reporting on educational priority; the needs and the problems of the children in the areas of high priority. We have had the study of the pre-school child, which shows that many children are so deprived before they arrive at school that we must discriminate in their favour if we are in fact going to get true opportunity within the educational system. We need more nursery schools. The Government have already pronounced that they intend to give us more of these, but I wait to see some realisation of it. What of the James Report? This Report was hastened through; it was debated in both Houses of Parliament, unlike the Crowther Report, and we were told that the Government were considering its proposals. What are the Government's proposals going to be? What are we going to offer to the teaching profession, following the promises that were in that Report?
On pensions, the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, will be grateful to know that have not sought out any anomalies to bother him with this evening, the ugh I am quite sure that I could find him some if I did. However, I believe that we have to re-think our whole approach to pensions. What proportion of cur gross national product are we prepared to give for the comfort of the elderly, the sick, the handicapped and the widowed? It says in the Bible:They shall give tithes of all they possess.The only people we give tithes to these days are head waiters or taxi drivers, and under V.A.T. we shall no doubt have to do it there. There is this very heartening part at the end of the Speech:Other measures will be laid before you.I am always rather relieved when I read that, because it means that this i; not the end of what we can expect. Or the environment, we yesterday had a demonstration by a group of workers who serve London citizens very well, the London cab drivers. A number of year ago an excellent Report, the Maxwell Stamp Committee Report, was issued which dealt not only with their problem but with the problem of London transport. So far as I can see, none of the implications of that Report has been looked at, or indeed acted upon.
215 Are we going to have anything based on the Younger Committee on Privacy? This is very important, in view of the credit situation that I have outlined. There are so many things that I could suggest to the Government that they might even make me a member of their Front Bench if I were to continue long enough. I take my tone from the rather splendid speech of the noble Viscount who opened the debate. I liked his suggestion that we, as legislators, seek to improve the lot of the individual and the quality of life of everyone. May I implore Her Majesty's Government to keep that objective before them throughout the Session on which we are now embarking?
§ 6.23 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL SECURITY (LORD ABERDARE)
My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, in the course of her remarks said how much she always welcomed this particular debate. I must say that I face it with some trepidation because, although there have not been a great many speakers to-day, each speaker has spoken with immense knowledge of the particular subject on which he has chosen to speak. This has set me an extremely hard task in trying to answer all the points that have been raised, especially because not only have we been discussing what is in the Queen's Speech but also because we have been giving a good deal of attention to what is not in the Queen's Speech. I am rather conscious of the clocks, and I do not wish to be the first person to go beyond the it "99"
The noble Lord, Lord Hughes, who very kindly gave me his apologies for not being able to be here at the end of this debate, and my noble friend Lady Elliot of Harwood, made mention of the subject of Scottish local government reform. I am very tempted to dive into these deep waters in view of the fact that I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw, and the noble Viscount. Lord Simon, who joined in the Welsh local government debates, but I really find myself a little unused to matters Scottish, and I will not say any more about Scottish local government except that the noble Lord. Lord Hughes, made mention of the financial 216 provisions so far as they related to Scotland. It is intended to bring forward proposals for finance of local government in Scotland, but the final details still have to be worked out in consultation with the local authority associations. The difference between the structures in the two countries of Engand and Scotland makes it inappropriate to provide for both of them in a single Bill, but I will certainly draw the attention of the Scottish Office to the remarks made by the noble Lord.
The Queen's Speech, as was so ably remarked upon by both my noble friends who moved the Address, lays particular stress on the overriding importance at the present moment of the problem of inflation. The noble Viscount, Lord Hanworth, made particular reference to this problem and the industrial problems that go with it. I hope that he will excuse me if I do not follow him on that theme to-day; I am sure that we shall be devoting a good deal of time to it next Tuesday when we come to debate economic and industrial affairs. I hope that he will therefore allow me not to comment now on his very interesting speech. He, and my noble friend Lord Dudley, stressed in the course of their remarks the essential need for growth in the economy. We are particularly well aware of that in the social services because so much is expected of us, and we are deeply aware of the problems that have been touched on both by the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, and the noble Lord, Lord Soper, about the need to make extra provision for various categories of people who are in need of help, whether it be in the Health Service, the social services, or in education. But we can really only find the extra resources if we achieve growth in the economy. I think that we can take credit, as a Government, in having produced more resources for the hospital services and the social services, but we are well aware that it is still not enough. We are also well aware that until we can get growth in the economy we cannot produce all the resources that we need for these admirable purposes.
A great deal of the legislation foreseen in the Queen's Speech is in fact devoted to social affairs, and this is another reason why today's debate is somewhat difficult to answer, because we 217 have covered a very wide field. There is legislation envisaged on industrial training, fair trading, water resources, Scottish local government, finance in local government in England and Wales, the reorganisation of the National Health Service and National Insurance. May I for a moment say something about the National Health Service reorganisation, because it is particularly in my field and because it was referred to both by my noble friends Lady Elliot of Harwood and Lord Auckland, and the noble Lord, Lord Platt. We have already produced what is in fact a White Paper, although my noble friend Lord Auckland called it a blue one. It is a White Paper in a blue binder, and legislation will be based on that paper. Since then, we have announced that there will be a series of regional health authorities in England, fourteen in number, based on the present regional hospital board boundaries, although these will be altered somewhat to take account of the new county boundaries.
In Wales, because of the different geographical situation, there will be no regional health authority. There will be eight area health authorities working direct to the Secretary of State, and there will also be a Welsh health technical service organisation to take care of those supporting services which need to be provided on a larger basis than the area itself. But it will be the area health authority, which will normally correspond in its boundary to the county authority and to the metropolitan district authority, except in the case of London, which will be the real operational tier of the service, and it is at this point that we see the vital necessity of the closest possible link with the social services. This is the point which my noble friend Lady Elliot of Harwood made, and I absolutely and completely agree with her about its importance. The new metropolitan districts will be particularly well-placed for this, because there will be an area health authority and a metropolitan district council and the two of them will have all the health service functions, social service functions, building, education and environmental health all within the same boundary. If we can achieve good co-ordination there, we should surely be able to provide greatly improved services.
218 In the non-metropolitan county, of course, there are two tiers of local government, but again we are determined that, so far as possible, there shall be complete integration of these services. It was to that end that my right honourable friend set up the Working Party on collaboration between health services and local authorities which has already produced at least two documents that are now being carefully considered by all the interested parties. These cover collaboration on the personal social services, on environmental health and, very important indeed, on school health. The day-to-day running of the services within each area will be based on fix district, which is the natural community for planning and delivering comprehensive health care. It is at that level that we have to achieve the integration of all the health services, and it is there that we now find the importance of another paper—a Grey Paper this time—on the management organisation of the new National Health Service. This is the work of another Working Party. As yet, what it proposes are only suggestions and they are still under consideration, but in my view they have two very important aspects.
The first is that it should be the district which is the basic operational unit covering a population of some 200,000 to 300,000 people, with its district general hospital and with a number of health centres, group practices, social work teams and other contributors to the general effort within the distict. The second fundamental point, in my view, is that de paper recognises an approach to health care based on the patient. I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, who drew particular attention to this matter. Although we see the need—and I welcome very much what the noble Lord, Lord Platt, said about this—for a small body to make the major decisions on investment, such as whether to put a new wing on a hospital rather than build health centres or pay the nurses more, we feel that these major policy decisions should be made at area level by a small board of people. But that does not mean to say that, when you get down to the local level, the services should not be geared to the needs of the patient, and this management document suggests multi-disciplinary groups to concentrate 219 on patient needs, including all the different professions that have a contribution to make—general practitioners, consultants, nurses, the community physician, the social worker, the physiotherapist—all in a team directed towards helping one particular group of patients. The other answer to the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, on this subject is that there will of course be community health councils. These will be at each district level, and these will be the places where those who are working in the community can bring to the notice of the area health authority—and bring pressure to bear on it—the need to produce the services that are best suited to the needs of the local people.
The noble Lord, Lord Platt, and my noble friend Lord Auckland referred to the health commissioner. I really cannot go much further than is contained in the White Paper at Appendix 2, which gives a fairly comprehensive description of his duties. The noble Lord, Lord Platt, will see that clinical judgment and the operations of doctors in their clinical capacities are specifically excluded from his field. My noble friend Lord Auckland will see that the complaints that go to him will be complaints from the public and not from the staff of a hospital. If my noble friend would care to look at that appendix, he will find that most of his questions are answered. He also drew attention to the contribution of nurses to the Service. I heartily welcome his words on this subject and on the Report of the Committee on Nursing, under the chairmanship of Professor Asa Briggs. That Committee made a most thorough and penetrating study of the matters referred to them and we very much welcome their Report. We are now studying the recommendations in it and have invited comments from a number of interested organisations. As a result of those consultations we shall then come to decisions.
So far as the recruitment of nurses is concerned, it is true that there are still shortages, and I dare say there will continue to be shortages especially in certain areas of the Service. But the total of nursing staff has been rising steadily and the numbers in posts in England and Wales at March 31, 1972, were the highest on record. They were, in whole-time equivalents, just over 258,600 compared with 243,250 a year earlier. What 220 is also pleasing to note is that the fall in the number of students, which took place between 1968 and 1970, has been reversed and recruitment is improving. I would also give my noble friend the assurance that we shall certainly not be letting up in our research into the causes and treatment of cancer. I agree with him that the Report by the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, was extremely well-written, easy to read and penetrating, and it gave due credit to the research that is already going on in this country into that disease.
I will make only a brief reference to the new Social Security Bill. I had thought that the noble Baroness might well be drawing attention to this Bill in particular, because it has in fact been presented to-day in another place and in due course will no doubt find its way here. It is a very comprehensive Bill which takes a completely new look at pensions and social security, providing especially for a pension through recognised occupational schemes as well as for the basic State pension. But we shall have an opportunity to debate the Bill, and it is probably your Lordships' wish that I should not go into it any further at the moment.
I come now to the noble and learned Lord. Lord Gardiner, who is a glutton for punishment. He seems to want any number of Bills introduced into this House, just at the point when I thought we were going to have a rather easier Session. But he very kindly gave me some advance notice, as he has said. My noble friend Lord Colville has done his best to answer some of the noble Lord's points, and I shall try to answer one or two others; but perhaps he will allow me to write to him about those to which he referred but which I cannot answer now.
I certainly undertake that we will consider his suggestion for a White Paper, or it may be a Green Paper, on the subject of criminal law revision. On the question of the burial laws, the law under which the new local authorities will operate from April 1, 1974, will be vastly simplified and improved by the Local Government Act 1972. The situation will be tidied up in two ways: first, from April 1, 1974, there will no longer be two different codes under which local authorities can work. The complicated and archaic provision of management in 221 the Burial Acts 1852 to 1906 is repealed from that date. This leaves local authorities, on the face of it, to operate cemeteries under the Cemeteries Clauses Act 1847, which is older but easier to follow because it is all in one place. But it can be expected that the 1847 Act, too, will cease to apply to local authorities by April 1, 1974. The Local Government Act gives the Secretary of State power, after consulting interested organisations, to make an order with respect to the management, regulation and control of the cemeteries of burial authorities, and the 1972 Act provides that the 1847 Act shall apply only until such an order takes effect; that is, until an order has been made by the Secretary of State and has been approved by both Houses. The Secretary of State proposes to make an order in time to come into operation before April 1, 1974.
Secondly, from April 1, 1974, the remaining burial boards and burial joint committees, which are ad hoc authorities, mostly set up many years ago, will go out of existence, and their functions will be exercised by local authorities. The Department of the Environment have kept in touch with the Law Commission about these changes, and it was agreed between them that they could most suitably be dealt with in the Local Government Bill as it then was. The Department and the Commission are now reviewing those parts of the burial law not reformed by the new Act.
My Lords, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, mentioned company law. The Companies Act requirements with regard to the filing of accounts are not being observed as fully as they ought to be, and a short Bill to amend the provisions of the Companies Act by substituting a clearer and more straightforward definition of the obligations of companies in this respect will be introduced. The noble Lord also mentioned hall-marking, which is a subject very close to my heart because my wife is a jeweller, and I know the difficutlies of the hall-marking legislation and how far back it goes. But may I perhaps look into that matter and let the noble Lord know? He also mentioned the adoption recommendations, and the implementation of the Report of the Departmental Committee on the Adoption of Children. This 222 Report raises complex issues, some of which are controversial, and we wish to give it careful study and to take account of professional and public reaction before coming to any conclusions on legislation. The Committee made the point that a number of their recommendations are interconnected and must be considered as a whole, and it will inevitably take a little time for the Government to form a view on this wide-ranging inquiry.
The noble Lord also mentioned, I think, the Race Relations Act. The Annual Report of the Race Relations Board is a subject down for debate, at the moment in the "No Day Named" section, under the name of the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, and that will give us a chance to discuss the matter. Finally, I think the only other question about which I have a note to answer the noble Lord concerns the tax credits scheme and the payment of tax credits to the father, the taxpayer, rather than to the wife. Of course, the difficulties and dangers of this are explained in the Green Paper, and no decision has yet been made on this particular issue. But we are well aware of the feelings that have been expressed.
I think the tax credits scheme will also have a great attraction in relation to some of the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Soper. When it comes to the question of people who are not claiming the amounts of support to which they are entitled, this will be cleared up, or should be, by the tax credits scheme, because such people should be receiving credits automatically rather than having to go to claim what is in fact their due. I listened to the noble Lord's admirable speech with the greatest of interest. I always listen to him, particularly on the subject of alcoholism, with great interest. He was kind enough to show me round his own particularly admirable efforts to help with the problem of alcoholics; and I am very well aware that there is a great deal still to be done to combat this problem. We are, I think, making some steady progress on several fronts. The number of specialised treatment units is being expanded from 16 to 23, and we anticipate establishing two or three experimental detoxification centres, both in London and in the Provinces. One of these is expected to be at Withington Hospital, Manchester, and it will be combined with an alcoholic unit and closely 223 linked with hostel facilities. I quite accept what the noble Lord said when he spoke of the need for further specialised hostels for alcoholics, and we plan to bring in a scheme next year to provide voluntary bodies with funds to enable additional hostels to be established.
I find myself unable to agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, on her recommendation for the nationalisation of at least part of the pharmaceutical industry. I do not think she will be surprised to hear that the word "nationalisation" does not appeal very much to this side of the House, and I do not believe that it really is in the best interests of the people of this country so far as the provision of medicines is concerned. I think we must recognise that the companies concerned have made a considerable contribution to medicine. The amount of research that they have put in has produced some very effective drugs; and if one looks particularly at the whole scene of the mentally ill, it has been very largely due to new drug treatment that we are now able to keep people for far less long in large mental hospitals. I would hope that their energy and their research, and their seeking for new remedies, is not inhibited in any way; but, on the other hand, I readily recognise, with the noble Baroness, the terrible tragedy of the thalidomide children.
All I would say is that the issue of nationalisation does not really enter in here; and that it was as a result of that tragedy that steps were taken to try to ensure, in so far as human beings can ensure, that such a terrible thing never happened again. It was as a result of that that the Committee on the Safety of Drugs was set up in 1963, and we owe a great deal to the chairman of that Committee, Sir Derek Dunlop, for setting it out on such good lines until eventually it was taken over, after the Medicines Act 1968, and became the present Committee on the Safety of Medicines. I think that she biased her case a little by saying that all that happened was that drugs were tested by being given to patients and that general practitioners were then asked about the effects on them. In fact, the present procedure is a three-stage process. First, new products are assessed before clinical trial; then there is a further assessment before a product licence is granted 224 for marketing the product. Only at the third stage are the general practitioners and others asked to report on any adverse reactions that may occur.
Nor did I agree with what the noble Baroness said about oral contraceptives. The fact is that the Committee on the Safety of Medicines (who are the expert body by whom I should prefer to be guided) and their predecessors, the Committee on the Safety of Drugs, during the period January, 1964, to August, 1971, have given an enormous amount of attention to these matters. Their recently-published report on the carcinogenicity tests of all oral contraceptives is a very thorough one. I can assure her that there is no question of the Committee's having been influenced in arriving at their conclusions by questions of the social desirability of these products. May I say that the industry itself has co-operated fully in arranging and carrying out at its own expense a very stringent long-term test programme for these contraceptives, as requested by the Committee on the Safety of Drugs in 1966. The noble Baroness will also know that the Royal College of General Practitioners themselves are conducting a very thorough investigation into oral contraceptives and will be publishing their results next April. I am confident that these will give further evidence that "the pill" is in fact a safe form of drug.
The noble Lord, Lord Hankey, referred to the United World Colleges. I do not have time to say much about them: but I am deeply interested in them and I know Atlantic College very well. It is near my home in South Wales. I admire the work undertaken there and the initiative the United World Colleges are showing. I noted the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Nunburnholme. I have listened, as always with interest, to the noble Baroness Lady Phillips. She has touched on two points, the Fair Trading Bill, which is referred to in the Gracious Speech, and the proposals for education, about which I am not really in a position to say much more than appears in the Gracious Speech. I am sure the details of these proposals will be available shortly. An interest I share in common with her is that of nursery education. It is our policy to build on what is already available by means of selective expansion in the deprived areas. 225 About 20,000 new nursery places have been approved under the urban programme for England and Wales—nearly half of that number since we came into office. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science recently said that she would soon be announcing a more general expansion of provision, which I am sure will be as welcome to the noble Baroness as to me.
My Lords, I have exhausted my ration of 30 minutes. I apologise to those noble Lords whose questions I may not have been able to answer as fully as I should have liked. I will go into their remarks again and will try to provide more adequate answers in writing.
§ LORD GARNSWORTHY
My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Beswick, I beg to move that the debate be adjourned until Tuesday of next week.
§ Moved, That the debate be adjourned until Tuesday of next week.—(Lord Garnsworthy.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly.