HL Deb 13 June 1974 vol 352 cc618-720

3.14 p.m.


rose to call attention to the Reports from the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Sport and Leisure; and to move for Papers. The noble Viscount said: My Lords, I rise to call attention to the Reports of the Select Committee on Sport and Leisure, a Committee of which I had the privilege to be Chairman. I feel that I should tell your Lordships first how the Committee chose to limit and define its mandate; next how we set about our task; and lastly some of our major recommendations and conclusions. I will then leave the field to the next speaker, saying only what an honour it is that he should have chosen to make his maiden speech in this debate.

At the outset we decided not to attempt too precise a definition of words like "sport", "leisure" and "recreation". We realised that they were not to be placed in watertight compartments, that to a large extent they overlap and that one man's work may indeed be another man's leisure. Climbing Everest might well be called sport, could be called recreation, but I do not believe that even Sir Edmund Hillary could in any circumstances describe it as leisure. Sailing and fishing and bird watching, on the other hand, clearly fall under all three categories. But we decided to confine our Report to those pursuits which demand active participation. Although spectators to-day seem to be taking a far from passive role in cricket and football matches, we felt that watching in general was already more than adequately provided for.

The Sport and Leisure Select Committee was set up in December, 1971, and it sat for eighteen months. I hope that your Lordships will not imagine that this sitting was a continuous process, for although we indeed sat for a very long time in copious sessions amassing and collating a very large corpus of information, we travelled many thousands of miles both at home and abroad, to find out what other people were doing and what had already been done. I should like, in passing, to acknowledge the debt that we all owe to those people both for their hospitality and for the time and experience they gave the Committee. Their help was quite invaluable.

My Lords, these may seem grave times in which to be debating matters so apparently frivolous as sport and leisure. Yet I hope to be able to persuade your Lordships that there may well lie at the very roots of some of our social and economic troubles feelings of very deep resentment in the hearts of millions of people that in their childhood and youth they were denied the simple pleasures of the countryside and of the playing field. Few noble Lords in this House would, I imagine, undervalue the opportunities for these things which we all enjoyed in our own youth, and surely the time has now come when the Government should take a hand in this and see that these things are made available to all. For too long sport and leisure has suffered from malnutrition, despite the heroic efforts of numerous voluntary bodies and organisations, supported usually by club membership, but also sometimes by various Trusts. I remember one such organisation whose members used to spend their own holiday time in taking urban children to the seaside, and the poignancy of a remark of a small boy on seeing the sea for the first time: "Isn't it wonderful," he said, "to see enough of anything".

Your Lordships need no reminding that during the past fifty years the machine has replaced the muscle. Mechanisation and automation—these are here to stay. But at the same time I contend that they have led to two evils much more enervating than mere bodily fatigue, and these evils are boredom and loneliness, something very akin to the Accidia of the early Christian church. It must be very hard to sing at one's work if one's work consists of punching out thousands of bucket-ears every day. So for tens of thousands of people, indeed for millions, work has now lost its significance, and now people will have to find new fulfilment and new purpose in what they do in their leisure hours.

In the future, it is to be hoped that workers will be less physically tired, will work shorter hours, and that weekends and holidays will become periods of recreation in the truest sense, rather than mere periods of resting. The late Adlai Stevenson once wrote: There is no boredom or misery to equal the pursuit of distraction alone. Too many people to-day, especially young people, are bored and miserable, and this, I think, justifies the need for a more positive approach to the whole subject of sport and recreation. That recreation has to be of their choosing. It was no part of the Committee's work to attempt to define leisure or recreation. Organised leisure is too dreadful to contemplate. But what we deemed to be our terms of reference were, first, to try to discover what people wanted to do; secondly, what facilities existed at this moment to enable them to do these things; thirdly, what could be done to extend or improve those facilities; and, lastly, what impediments to their enjoyment could be identified and, if possible, removed.

From our Report, your Lordships will be able to assess for yourselves the extent to which the Committee succeeded or failed. I think it is true to say that the Committee was encouraged by the amount of solid pioneering work which had already been put in train, not only by certain far-sighted local authorities but by the Sports Councils, the Countryside Commissions, and a host of other organisations. The Report states: The life-blood of sports provision hitherto has been in the voluntary clubs and governing bodies of the sports themselves. There is also the National Playing Fields Association, financed voluntarily, which stimulates the provision generally of playing fields, adventure playgrounds for children, and other sports facilities, as well as acting as adviser to local government and small sports clubs for provision.

I believe that every possible encouragement should be given to these organisations to continue and increase their efforts. So much valuable expertise and local enthusiasm would be lost were such organisations ever to believe that the time had come when their work was no longer of prime importance. We recommend rating relief by local authorities as a sensible way of helping these voluntary bodies, particularly perhaps in Scotland where two associations complained of heavy rating and suggested mandatory rating relief to remove the present inconsistencies between adjacent authorities.

Considering that until recently the Government took scarcely any part in the provision of sport or recreation facilities, it was encouraging to find what progress has already been made in the recreational field. There can be little doubt, however, that most foreign governments attach a great deal more importance to sport and recreation as a whole. The Dutch, for instance, have a whole Ministry for Recreation. The Committee has not gone so far as to suggest that, but what we suggest is the appointment of a Minister, first, to be able to talk to his colleagues at Government level; and, secondly, to draw together the sporting or recreational elements in a number of Government Departments. Forestry, education, play groups, tourism, the Arts and water—the responsibility for all these things is centred upon different Departments of Government, and all have some bearing on an aspect of recreation.

Your Lordships will note the great importance that the Committee attaches to the role of the local authority. It is to be hoped that each one will shortly have set up a full recreational department, working in close liaison with the regional Sports Councils. In considering the administrative machinery needed to implement our ideas, we ran into certain difficulties connected with the imminent reorganisation and structure of local authorities. After a very great deal of time and discussion, it was decided to place responsibility fairly and squarely on the heads of the county councils in England and Wales, and the regions in Scotland. In England and Wales, ultimate responsibility must belong to the counties. In conjunction with other bodies, they should have the job of providing for larger facilities, with the districts providing for the more local ones. But only in the metropolitan areas should these duties be shared, and this view seems to be justified by the quite different circumstances of the great industrial complexes. The Committee suggests that the link between Government and local authorities should still be represented by the central agencies involved with recreation—the Sports Councils, the Countryside Commissions, and the water authorities—and it recommends that they should create a full and positive national policy.

Here I should like to make two points for your Lordships' consideration. First, since resources for recreation are limited—and by "resources" I mean not only those of land and water but also financial ones—the provision of facilities must be planned; and planned, so far as possible, in accordance with local needs. Sports centres, swimming pools, and golf courses must be located where they are most needed, and there should, of course, he lateral communication between adjacent authorities to prevent overlapping, and to ensure even spacing and provision in ratio to the density of the population. Secondly, in our view the segregation of different social, sporting, recreational and cultural activities into separate compartments is wasteful. So far as possible, they should be considered together and planned together. By linking them, not only will it be possible to provide centres more economically, but there will probably be some measure of what we may conveniently call "cross-fertilisation". People may well discover some new sport or activity which otherwise they might never have seen or tried.

As your Lordships may well suppose, the Committee spent a very great deal of time when they considered the countryside. Our main strategy in this field was centred on the "honeypot" system. This somewheat homely phrase is used to describe the attraction of large numbers of people to a comparatively few locations, in order to free the rest from overcrowding. In summer, our coastline is probably the biggest "honeypot", and the football stadiums all over the country are in winter. This is why we recommend the placing of open spaces, parks, golf courses and sports centres on the fringes of our big cities and towns. This will meet the needs of many of the urban population, and at the same time do something to prevent the surrounding countryside from being too much invaded at weekends and holiday times, so that those who really seek peace will be able to find it.

We also made the suggestion that transport should be provided to take to those country parks in the urban fringes families who have no cars, as well as old people who would enjoy a day in the country. In this context we also hope to spare large numbers of people the tedium and frustration of the endless traffic queue. The nearer we can place these amenities to the big towns the better it will be for all concerned. In these afore-going remarks I have attempted only to outline what one might roughly call the strategy of the campaign. The tactics are numerous and complicated; they are detailed in the Report, at the end of which we have briefly summarised our conclusions.

My Lords, some of the major recommendations will undoubtedly need fresh legislation and others will require a new injection of funds. We have tried to deal with the dual use of school playgrounds, with inland waterways, with rivers and reservoirs and the need for recreational management and training. My mention of inland waterways and rivers was, perhaps, a little too cursory considering the importance of the subject. I should like to emphasise the great importance which the Committee attaches to water recreation as one of the prime providers of sport and leisure. Notwithstanding this, the grant available for water amenities is both mixed and uncertain. There is no grant-aiding machinery at all. In so far as the Sports Councils and the Countryside Commissions are to be responsible for aiding water recreation they will need extra funds to do so. The main financial help which might be provided by the Government is twofold: the British Waterways Board should continue to receive an annual subvention and its rate should be substantially increased; the regional water authorities should receive aid where needed to enable them to discharge their recreation duties under the Water Act 1973.

To summarise, then, what we feel is that the Government should, by the appointment of a Minister, show their recognition of the importance which the Committee attaches to the whole wide subject and so encourage the local authorities—and indeed all other bodies connected with sport and leisure—to put forward plans knowing that they will be given encouragement and every support by Central Government.

In hard economic times like these, my Lords, there will always be a temptation to relegate sport and leisure to a low, if not the lowest, priority. Yet the fact is—and we say so in our Report—that so far public expenditure has been generally inadequate to provide facilities on the scale needed. It is, prima facie, very hard to argue that recreation should ever be allowed to take precedence over such things as housing, education or pensions. Nor, of course, can it. However, we have been told on the highest authority that man cannot live by bread alone. This sterile, scientific and mechanical age has robbed mankind of so many of the good, clean, simple pleasures of life. In our endless search for a higher standard of living we have ignored a much nobler objective, a more ample and a more rewarding way of life for all our people. Surely, my Lords, it is time to make a start. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.

3.34 p.m.


My Lords, I rise with some degree of fear and trembling at my maiden speech. I discovered that it is about 100 years since a member of my family had spoken in this august Chamber. I learned that in 1829 there was a debate in this House in which the three Royal Dukes, the Duke of Clarence, the Duke of Sussex and the Duke of Cumberland took part. Each got up one after the other and attacked each other so vehemently and used such bad language that the House was shocked into silence. It was a very droll scene, as the Greville Memoirs put it, but I can assure your Lordships that I will not use the same tactics on the noble Duke, my cousin, who is sitting on my right. I also discovered that the Prince of Wales, who later became King George IV, appeared one day to take his seat—although he did not actually speak—and he arrived exquisitely dressed in black velvet, lined with pink satin and embroidered in gold and wearing shoes with pink heels.

My Lords, I believe Oscar Wilde once said that, If a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing badly the truth of which statement I leave your Lordships to debate after I have sat down. Of course, it is perfectly true when applied to the realm of leisure and even more apt when applied, for instance, to my attempts at water colour painting—one of my less violent recreations. I hesitate to say it, but those of you who have come here to-day, and are not speaking (and by sheer weight of numbers recreation and the sporting use of leisure must rank as one of the major pastimes) are, in effect, utilising your leisure time by listening to these highly entertaining speeches: that is, of you agree with Dr. Paul Weiss who was, or maybe still is, Professor of Philisophy at Yale University, and who said that: Leisure time is that portion of the day not used for meeting the exigencies of existence". But then, perhaps, for some people, listening to speeches is an exigency of existence.

At the expense of being unoriginal I always find it rather intriguing to read what other people have said about a subject. Aristotle, for instance, suggested that: The purpose of education was the wise use of leisure"— rather like the purpose of this debate is the wise planning of the use of leisure. Now that everyone does receive an education Aristotle's profound statement becomes universally applicable instead of in the narow sense in which it was applied originally. Now that there are so many more people chasing a rapidly diminishing number of recreational facilities in a small island (and there must be a formula to express this function) we are forced, whether we like it or not, to plan our whole existence and to consider the coordination of our leisure time with all the other factors which comprise our human existence.

The noble Viscount, Lord Cobham, expressed the point that, of course, leisure, in the sense of its being, as it were, an empty box into which you insert the things which use leisure—in other words, recreational activities of all sorts—ought not to be organised, as such, but should be seen as a growing problem facing responsible bodies and local authorities and needing urgent attention in the overall planning sense. God forbid that we should ever need planning permission to "recreate" ourselves! The Report most definitely does not suggest the installation of a "gauleiter in plimsolls" but rather a "Warden in Wellingtons".

My Lords, there is inevitably a danger here of finding ourselves trying to tell people how their leisure time should be spent. This is not the object at all. But I do believe that if leisure time is employed anti-socially by some people it is therefore well worth while trying to channel that anti-social recreation into more healthy pastimes. One way of doing that must be by providing better and more planned facilities. That is why I particularly support the Committee's recommendations concerning the establishment of urban parks and recreation areas which would be more immediately available to a larger group of people in the towns and cities and which would also help to spread the demand and the load which is already weighing so heavily on the countryside. The Lee Valley Regional Park Scheme at Picketts Lock in Middlesex is a classic example of what can be done with derelict land if the determination and impetus is there.

The fact that we are all gathered here in this Chamber to-day and the fact that I am making, with some considerable trepidation, my maiden speech on this interesting Report, must indicate to all but the simplest that we have something of a problem facing us over recreation and, what is more, have had one for some considerable time. All the time that our neighbours across the Channel —especially in Holland—have been planning and co-ordinating their leisure facilities, we have continued somewhat haphazardly simply to let things happen and to rely on people's innate good will and common sense. We can still rely on that good will and common sense, but the seriousness of the game now makes it imperative to co-ordinate and cooperate.

Even in 1966, the noble Duke, my father, said in an address to the University of California that only a coordinated plan, backed by legislation, could possibly prevent a state of complete chaos developing in a very short time. Without doubt, there are many people who would argue differently, but it is nevertheless indisputable that such organisations as the Central Council of Physical Recreation—in its own words. "the independent collective voice of British sport and leisure"—and the Sports Council, together with many other bodies directly associated with recreation are seriously concerned about the lack of overall planning and the shortage of funds for the provision of adequate facilities.

In the foreword to a recent pamphlet produced by the Sports Council for Wales and entitled, A Strategy for Water Recreation, it says: If we are to ensure effective use of our resources in Wales, it is important that water areas should be identified and recommendations made for those which are suitable for recreational development, while at the same time preserving their amenity value. Your Lordships may be intrigued to discover that the submission in 1971 of a landscape report for the Brenig reservoir scheme in Mynydd Hiraethog in Wales for the Dee and Clwyd River Authority marked one of the first occasions in the history of reservoir construction that recreational potential had been written into the primary plan. This was a great step forward, for the Report recommended sites for scenic beauty spots, walking, pony trekking, boating, caravanning and many other activities. This, to my mind, is exactly the type of operation recommended by the Committee which compiled this Report, and such operations as these, with the planning involved, should become common practice.

Having said that, let me for a moment indulge in presenting you with a positive plethora of Welsh enterprises. A Committee in Wales, of which I am Chairman and which basks in the glorious title of The Prince of Wales's Committee, has recently embarked upon an ambitious project to restore a seven-mile section of the Montgomeryshire Canal near Welshpool. Over the last 50 or 60 years, this canal has fallen into complete disuse, mainly because the British Waterways Board has only a limited allowance for all maintenance. The idea is that, once the canal has been restored, it should be available —among other things—for boats and barges to take handicapped children for holidays and expeditions. That is one of the principal reasons for restoring this canal—mostly by voluntary labour and on a leisure-time basis, I would add—but I would emphasise for the benefit of all local authorities the very real economic benefits and spin-off which can easily derive from such a project as this, particularly in the more deeply rural areas of mid-Wales. Inevitably, with the opening up of new canal sections, many more people will be tempted on to them and local farmers and others may have a small boom on their hands, which could have far-reaching and beneficial effects on the farming community if handled sensibly and planned properly from the start.

However, one essential point to remember about recreation as such, and as a type of industry, is that it cannot be allowed to develop in isolation from the local community. In other words, local users should be encouraged and, indeed, allowed to organise the facilities provided for them and should not feel themselves subject to the imposition of outside bureaucratic control. One of the most gratifying aspects of several projects my Committee has encouraged in Wales has been the readiness—after initial persuasion and encouragement—of local firms and companies to supply equipment and plant free of charge. Not only does this do the companies immense good, but it creates a phenomenal degree of harmony and good will and an urge to soar to even greater heights of local self-help. I entirely support the Committee's recommendation that the Government should develop a central impetus to encourage local government to promote recreational facilities and recreation departments.

As is so often the case in Britain, an astonishing number of societies, clubs, organisations and bodies of all kinds spring up to deal with what amounts to the same problem. An element of co-ordination is essential if their efforts are not to be entirely wasted and resources apparently squandered. I believe that the Welsh Office and the Scottish Office already have recreation sections of their own and can therefore help to co-ordinate the various opinions by bringing all the different bodies together. So far as England is concerned—if we have to bring nationalism into it—I should have thought that the present Minister for Sport could quite easily become the Minister for Recreation or the Minister for Leisure, which would be a far more apt title. After six years of a Minister of Sport, we must surely be taking the position more seriously now, though I daresay the Press does not.

That is a most important chapter in the Select Committee's Report on what is called, Dual Use and Dual Provision—in other words, the shared use of facilities by members of the public for whom the facilities were not primarily intended. Until I read the Report, I must admit that I had no idea that something I was already concerned about had such an apposite description. I have felt for some considerable time that a place like a school which is empty for a substantial part of the year and which, as often as not, has some splendid facilities is basically wasted. For that reason, I have encouraged plans for the establishment of an extra-mural department at the United World College of the Atlantic at St. Donat's—again in Wales, I hasten to add, my Lords!

When completed, this department will provide facilities for all sorts of people who otherwise might not so readily find them outside the school. I am hoping that it will be possible to organise a similar type of enterprise at my old school, Gordonstoun, where there are a multitude of facilities in a sports centre standing idle in the holidays. However, finding staff during the holidays is a major problem—unless it is possible to find people who consider looking after the public and wild children to be a leisure activity.

Inevitably, there are certain drawbacks to the concept of dual use and one of these is that schools and other organisations are not keen to see their grounds and facilities over-used and, possibly, abused. It would be a groundsman's nightmare, for a start. For this kind of reason, I would urge the education authorities to be at least aware of the potential afforded by dual use and to try to achieve some element of that potential through adaptation, experiment and encouragement in the schools within their areas. I believe very strongly that the last thing one should do is to make any of these recommendations compulsory—not, anyway, until it seems absolutely necessary. One of the great traditions of this country has been the comparative freedom with which organisations and societies have been allowed to operate, and this is an essential tradition of civilised, intelligent living which must be preserved at all costs. All the various organisations involved in the use of leisure time should be given the chance to develop their potential, but this they are finding increasingly difficult and increasingly more impossible as we face a similar inflationary situation in a field of leisure; that is to say, too much demand and only a limited supply.

Among the alternatives we are faced with are the following two: either the Government step in completely and we have what will virtually amount to a form of State-controlled recreation or the Government make it easier for the main statutory and voluntary bodies to operate, on the one hand, by exempting them from certain forms of tax and rates of all kinds and, on the other, by making it more possible to plan effectively on a nationwide basis, both through local authorities and through a central Ministry for those aspects of recreation which are beyond the capacity of the local authorities to deal with. I believe that we should favour the second alternative. The Treasury may not do so, of course, but I have made the point.

In his book, The Future of Man, Teilhard De Chardin asserts that: Mankind is bored. Perhaps this is the underlying cause of all our troubles. We no longer know what to do with ourselves. Hence, in social terms, the disorderly turmoil of individuals pursuing conflicting and egotistical aims—the excess of accumulated energy destructively released". That may be a vague generalisation, but there is more than an element of truth in his remarks. My Lords, this Report must awaken us to the challenge of removing the dead hand of boredom and frustration from mankind. If it can be done, it can be done in Britain, and we can do it by planning sensibly, with humanity and with adventurous enthusiasm.

3.50 p.m.


My Lords, the Prince of Wales sought the sympathy of your Lordships' House in making his maiden speech. I would suggest, with all respect, that your Lordships should forget that plea and transfer it to me, called upon to follow him; because in all my experience in your Lordships' House I do not recall a speech of such character and so beautifully delivered. I suspect that one will have to wait very many years before hearing another of its kind.

My Lords, may I at the outset congratulate the noble Viscount, Lord Cobham, not only on introducing this debate but also on his chairmanship of the Lords Select Committee on Sport and Leisure; and may I, through him, express our appreciation and congratulation to the Members of the Select Committee for the quality and the thoroughness of their Report. This debate has attracted an unusual amount of attention and, looking around an unusually full House bearing in mind the period since publication of this Report. I have no doubt at all that the noble Viscount would put that down solely to the importance of the subject. In a sense, this is so, because it has provided the opportunity for the noble Prince, the Prince of Wales, to come and sit among his Peers in this House and to make his maiden speech.

My Lords, when I heard that the Prince of Wales intended to speak I had some research done on how we should conduct this debate. I regret that I found little that was helpful. True, as the Prince of Wales himself has said, in the past hundred years a Prince of Wales has spoken, and on one occasion even presented a Petition in support of a Bill on Marriage with a deceased wife's sister. I hope that that precedent will not be followed! But what I wanted to know was: what had been the practice? How did one refer to the Prince of Wales in debate? Alas!, here again I found no guidance, for it appeared that on those previous occasions the subsequent speakers never referred to the noble Prince. To-day, I think we can put that right; and therefore may I, as Leader of the House, speaking on behalf of all noble Lords, extend our sincere congratulations on, as I said earlier, one of the most notable maiden speeches we have heard. The fact that the speech had a quality and understanding did not surprise me, for we in this House have from time to time extended in a formal way our deep sense of appreciation and gratitude for the manner in which Her Majesty the Queen and other members of the Royal Family serve this country; and it was only last Monday that, in deep sorrow, we paid our own tribute to the Duke of Gloucester. But it is good to be reminded in a direct way and by personal contact and involvement.

My Lords, maiden speeches provide not only an opportunity for praise but also an opportunity to say something of the Peer concerned. The noble Prince was born to great privilege and great opportunity, and also to a position of influence. Equally, such a position, by its very nature, is open to temptation. It would be easy to find the easy way out and to seek narrow, selfish interests, for we are all human, we are all subject to human frailties. But the noble Prince, like his mother and father, perhaps because of them, has chosen the hard road of duty and service. He is open to scrutiny and criticism. Among my numerous and varied duties as Lord Privy Seal I am chairman of the Chevening Estate Trust. May I wish the noble Prince happy days and infinite relaxation, leisure and recreation at Chevening House.

My Lords, at the beginning of his speech the noble Prince spoke about his ancestors, the Royal Dukes. May I assure him and his cousin the Duke of Kent, whom we are very pleased to see here this afternoon, that if ever they were to behave in such an unseemly manner I have no doubt at all that the noble Lord, Lord Ferrier, whom I see opposite, would call upon the Clerk to read Standing Order No. 31 on the asperity of speech. In my researches I found that in 1884 the noble Prince's great great-grandfather chose the debate on Housing of the Working Classes as the setting for his maiden speech. Ninety years later, despite an ever-increasing social conscience and much greater resources, the problem of housing in which the people of this country can live with dignity is still with us. Financial resources are still inadequate to meet the fundamental demands of the social services and education. The importance of this is illustrated by a quotation from my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, Roy Jenkins, who said: Squalid housing, overcrowded schools and community facilities of every kind breed alienation and resentment in society". The question of resources is one which will run through my remarks.

Ninety years ago working conditions in industry were harsh and hours were long. True, through legislation and the activities of the trade unions, life in industry is easier; but through automation, as the noble Viscount, Lord Cobham, said, monotony and mental pressures have increased. To achieve efficiency in industry, perhaps as an aid to the avoidance of industrial disputes, our people need leisure and not just sport but recreation, in greater measure. As Disraeli said: Increased means and increased leisure are the two civilisers of man". But leisure should be something more than an interval for possible recuperation between exhausting stints of work. It should be used excitingly and with enrichment. Its use should be for each person's choosing. If a leisure-time activity is not freely entered into, it ceases to be recreation. This requires the provision of a wide range of facilities. But I think it is necessary to construe recreation very widely. When we talk of recreation, I suspect we tend to think of the more physical types of activity: all forms of sport; the popular team games and some slightly less popular—and your Lordships may wonder, perhaps, why polo springs to mind!

The Select Committee chose to interpret their terms of reference in a wide sense, and I will seek to follow them. The spectrum is extremely extensive: sport at one end and more gentle activities at the other. Unlike the Committee, I would not exclude even gardening from this field. Cultural pursuits, the enjoyment of the Arts, the theatre, the galleries and the museums have their place in this catalogue, and have an important part to play in adding to the dimensions of people's lives. Wherever special facilities are called for, their provision has to be considered in the light of the resources available, but I doubt whether anyone would question Government support for the Arts, and not many our removal of entrance charges to museums.

I would add one point on the value of making recreational provision and its use. It seems to me that some of our young people suffer from what amount to withdrawal symptoms when they leave school. At school there is ample opportunity for getting rid of surplus energy in both constructive and destructive sporting activities. If we could go on channelling that energy into sport or other forms of recreation when young people have left school, it might mitigate some of our problems of violence and hooliganism. I am not sure whether there is any conclusive evidence on this point at present but it is obviously an area in which a lot more research is needed. But the transition from school to work should not necessarily mean the end of participation in sport.

I come now to some of the specific questions considered by the Select Committee. What have they sought to do? First, to build up a comprehensive picture of the changes that are taking place (and that are expected) in the way in which we as a nation occupy that part of our lives which we devote to sport and informal outdoor recreation. Secondly, to consider the implications of their findings for the allocation of our national resources and of central and local government funds. And thirdly, to identify organisational weaknesses which must be remedied if the available money and effort are to be applied effectively and economically.

The magnitude of this undertaking is shown by the fact that the Committee made no less than 62 far-ranging conclusions and recommendations. The House would not thank me at this stage for going through all those 62 conclusions, but the Government hope to set out their attitudes and their intentions in a comprehensive White Paper which they plan to publish later this year and in which we shall be greatly assisted by studying the views which your Lordships will be expressing in the course of this timely debate. I shall therefore confine myself to commenting on a few points in the Reports which seem to me of particular importance and to informing the House of certain steps which the Government have already taken as a result of their study of the Reports.

It is abundantly clear that, with a growing population, more leisure time for more people, and with the increasing tendency for that leisure to be used in a more positive and outgoing way, the demand for recreational facilities of all kinds is running ahead of supply, and that the shortfall will become greater as the years go by unless urgent action is taken. Sport and recreation, as I have sought to suggest earlier, have their place of importance alongside the provision of social services. I must, however, inevitably return to the thorny question of resources and perhaps strike a note of realism which may not be popular with the noble Viscount. But it is a nettle which in all fairness I must grasp at this stage of my remarks.

I hope I have already said enough to make it quite clear that the Government have no disposition to dismiss recreation as (in the words of the Select Committee) an "optional extra" which must take its place in the queue. But, equally, your Lordships will recognise that this is only one of the many areas of public expenditure in which it is becoming increasingly recognised that provision falls far short of need. The hard fact is that our national resources are simply not great enough to enable us to make good the deficiencies of generations as quickly as we should like. Certainly in our present economic circumstances I should mislead the House if I suggested that, particularly at this point in time, any increase in Government spending on sport and recreation could be expected. Clearly it cannot. But the Government are equally clear that, when the economic situation permits, these fields of endeavour should get their fair share.

The present situation makes it all the more important to ensure that we get the best value from all our other resources. The Select Committee rightly point to the concentration of demand, particularly for informal recreation, in the traditional holiday months. Various factors, including habit and the pattern of the school year, contribute to this situation. Previous efforts to bring about a change have had only limited success, but we must go on trying. I am interested to learn that the Association of Metropolitan Authorities is at present studying the possibility of a four-term school year. That would make a considerable difference. The capacity of the total recreational facilities of the community could be increased by reducing the extent to which facilities are reserved for specific sectors of the population and not generally available.

I was pleased that the noble Viscount, Lord Cobham, singled out dual use, as also did the noble Prince. The Committee painted a picture of unsatisfied demand for recreational facilities of all kinds. We should all want to avoid a situation in which large numbers of playing fields, sports halls, and the like, provided at taxpayers' and ratepayers' expense, stand empty for unduly long periods. I doubt whether there is any single measure which would do more to open up new leisure opportunities for people all over the country than the breaking down of the obstacles which stand in the way of throwing open school facilities to the wider community out of school hours and terms. Of course, much progress has been made towards increasing the dual use of existing facilities and I should like to pay a tribute to the many educational authorities which have made enormous efforts. Certainly the problems are real enough: problems of security, of staffing, of management, and the wear and tear of grassed areas. But this is an area in which I am sure, with imagination and good will on all sides, and with a relatively modest injection of extra money to smooth the path, much of the potential benefit could be achieved.

Dual use, as the Select Committee says, applies to other facilities provided by public money and there is more scope here: for instance, the Armed Forces' facilities which are employed a good deal already—and one has in mind R.A.F. Cosford. We need more imaginative management to allow more people to enjoy the countryside without detriment to other users or to the environment—and here we are fortunate in having not only the recommendations of the Select Committee but also those of the Committee chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, in their Report of their Review of National Park Policies.

Another resource, the use of which we should do well to maximise, is land, which as we all know is scarce. Its use for recreation has to compete with many equally worthy claims. Here I am speaking without the benefit of my colleagues' views, but it often seems to me that there are plots of land in urban areas, where the pressure for facilities is greatest, which could be used as open spaces with the expenditure of little money or preparation; nothing elaborate, just a piece of grass to which the street football game, and so on, could be transferred. That would set at ease many mothers' anxieties, in central London particularly. I am glad to hear that my honourable friend the Minister of State for Sport shares these views and is inquiring of the regional sports councils to what extent there is provision for such "kick-about areas", as they are called, where coats can be thrown down as goal posts or cricket stumps chalked on walls.

Another resource which is used increasingly for recreational purposes is water. Great strides have been made in cleaning up our rivers, but some stretches are still polluted. The provisions of the Control of Pollution Bill, which the House has just passed, confer powers to control water pollution and, perhaps by making new areas of cleaner water available, will help to absorb what has rightly been called a water sports explosion. It was only last Tuesday that my noble friend Lord Garnsworthy was able to inform your Lordships' House of the new fish that are appearing in the River Thames.

The noble Viscount, Lord Cobham, and also the noble Prince, spoke about the need for local sports and recreation clubs, and these assume particular importance. I am sure that here, too, local authorities could help perhaps more than they are now doing. I suggest, as one who recently visited a series of old people's homes, that much more could be done for our elderly living in these homes. A TV set is not sufficient recreation. Also, we should not forget the needs of those who are disabled, the families with young children, those without cars, who will increasingly require facilities within their neighbourhoods.

The Select Committee recommended priority for the recreationally deprived areas which, as they pointed out in their Report, are in the main areas of multiple deprivation—a problem which has long been recognised, but for which there is no simple answer. The point here is that we get a situation in which the deficiencies of housing, education, recreation and so on react on and reinforce one another, so that the total effect is overwhelming. Deficiencies have in the past been tackled piecemeal, but it is now accepted that a comprehensive approach is more likely to provide the answer. Work on this is in progress in the Home Office, and I hope that the recommendations of the Select Committee will be taken into account.

The noble Prince spoke of recreational developments. I can mention Holmepierrepoint, a joint project by the Nottinghamshire County Council, the Sports Council, the Countryside Commission and private enterprise. There are also the great developments of old opencast sites at Ashton-Peak Forest Canal. These are a result of co-operation between not only the Waterways Board but also several local authorities and the local Civic Trust, with, in addition, the hard physical labour and money contributed by volunteers. I believe that the noble Prince would be particularly interested in this development, because I think that a few weeks ago he visited the Montgomery Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal, which is being restored under the aegis of his own Prince of Wales' Committee. I believe that industry has its own part to play. One has only to go to Holland and Switzerland to see the extent to which companies feel that they have not only a local identity but also a local responsibility. I feel that much more could be done by industry and by the local authorities in co-operation together.

My Lords, the noble Viscount, Lord Cobham, pressed upon the Government, as also did the noble Prince, the possibility of appointing a Minister for Recreation. This is an area which is under active consideration. We already have a Minister for Sport, and he operates within clearly identifiable areas and there is already a good deal of co-ordination within Whitehall. But the strongly held views that have already been placed before us to-day, and which will no doubt be repeated in the course of the debate, will be most carefully considered by the Government. I have no hard and fast view as to what should be incorporated in the White Paper. We need to assess the views of your Lordships' House on the Select Committee's Report, and also to continue our discussions with the various authorities, particularly the voluntary bodies who administer sport; and I saw a deputation from the Central Council of Physical Recreation only last week. I believe that we can do the planning now, and hope and trust that the resources that the noble Viscount and his Committee require will eventually become available. I shall listen to the debate with the greatest interest. I have no Scottish connections, but I think it would be remiss of me, especially on a debate about snort and leisure, not to conclude these remarks without conveying my best wishes, and I am sure those of your Lordships' House as a whole, to Scotland's football team when they embark to-morrow on the hard task of doing what England once did—winning the World Cup.

4.16 p.m.


My Lords, as Leader of the Opposition it is my very pleasant duty to follow the Leader of the House and to endorse most warmly from these Benches everything he said about the way in which the maiden speech made by the noble Prince was received. It was exactly the right length it was well-informed; humorous in places; and it was totally unassuming. As a result it had the effect of illuminating a subject in which we know the Prince has a deep interest. Like all the most effective speeches in this House, I think noble Lords will agree it owed its effect to a large extent to the fact that what the Prince was saying was so true to himself, to his own character and to his own interests. He would be listened to with respect in any case, but I can assure the noble Prince that on this occasion we have listened to him with pleasure and with admiration as well.

I suspect the noble Prince would prefer us not to make too much of a meal of his historic participation in our debate today. His great-great-grandfather, later King Edward VII (I hope I have got the right number of "greats"), when he was Prince of Wales, spoke in a debate in your Lordships' House in 1884. As we heard from the Leader of the House just now it was on the subject of the Housing of the Working Classes and I note that because of his interest in this subject he found himself appointed as a member of a Royal Commission which was appointed to inquire into it. Since our present debate follows rather than precedes the setting up of a Select Committee, that is a risk from which the noble Prince has been spared.

The only other historical rootnote which I might add is a reference to the Prince of Wales's prowess at the old game of real tennis which I understand he played at Cambridge. I do not know whether tennis or the noble Prince's other sport of poio is the older. But it is certainly an ancient game, a game of skill and one that was played by many former Kings of England, including Henry VIII who built the court at Hampton Court, and also by both Charles I and Charles II. So it is very much in a Royal tradition that the noble Prince should play, and if he ever does so at Hampton Court he will be following quite literally in the footsteps of his energetic and gifted Tudor predecessor. The main difference might be that it would now be rather less dangerous if his opponent were to win.

My Lords, every so often in politics a subject is recognised as being of importance and underlying significance, but tends to be overlooked, until somehow it comes to the surface. This I believe is what has happened with sport and leisure. So many other apparently more pressing matters—such as the reorganisation of local government—have dominated the stage that there has been inadequate recognition of the need to make systematic assessments of the future demand for recreational facilities and realistic plans as to how these demands can best be met.

In retrospect, it may appear that the main Report of the Select Committee which sat under the chairmanship of the noble Viscount, Lord Cobham, represented a significant breakthrough. The Committee was certainly a most authoritative one, judged by any standards. It contained distinguished sportsmen and noble Lords who have had experience of providing facilities for physical recreation, as well as Peers with first-hand knowledge of central Government, local government and the educational system. The Select Committee had the benefit of specialist assessors and heard a very wide range of evidence which is contained in the two companion volumes. Some of the evidence makes entertaining and lively reading. On the conflict between conservation and development for purposes of recreation, for instance, I particularly enjoyed an answer given by a witness who was engaged in trying to develop disused gravel pits as centres for water sports. His complaint read as follows: … the nature people are anxious to conserve things like stinging nettles and bramble bushes because they perform a certain function for butterflies, but we are anxious to create an enjoyable environment for people out of what would normally be considered to be a derelict site. … Similarly, we had some oak trees and the nature people said, 'Do not lop the dead limbs off because the woodpeckers feed on the grubs', but the forestry people said, 'Look at those lovely oak trees. You arc doing nothing to preserve them'. At one point we were a little frustrated."—[Third Vol., Evidence, Appendices and Index, p. 439] This example of understatement brings us hard up against one of the central issues in considering this subject; namely that land (and indeed water space, too) is so scarce in this overcrowded Island that different people want what open space remains for different, and quite often contradictory, purposes. Water recreation is a subject which has already been mentioned in his opening speech by the noble Viscount, Lord Cobham. Thus the Nature Conservancy was quite entitled to say, as it did, in evidence to the Select Committee: Noisy sports often cause serious disturbance to wildlife. For this reason water-skiing, power-boating and motorcycle scrambling are incompatible with nature conservation, or indeed with the peace which many seek in the countryside. Between these extremes are pursuits whose effect on wildlife varies according to the number of people involved and their standard of conduct."—[Third Vol. Evidence, Appendices. and Index, p. 549.] The Reports of the Select Committee indicate how conflicts of this sort can be mitigated, if not entirely resolved. The starting point is to be found in public attitudes. Only if there is a change in public attitudes will the necessary degree of mutual understanding emerge. In both their First and Second Reports the Select Committee emphasised that the provision of opportunities for the enjoyment of leisure should be regarded as an essential part of the general fabric of the social services—in the widest sense of that expression. A key passage is contained in paragraph 67 of the Second Report which reads: Until Parliament, government, planners and educators accept the place of leisure as an essential ingredient of life, there will be no satisfactory provision of recreational facilities and the well-being of the community will suffer. Society ought to regard sport and leisure not as a slightly eccentric form of indulgence but as one of the community's everyday needs". The noble Prince in his speech referred to the necessity for a co-ordinated plan backed by legislation, and in doing so he echoed some words used by the noble Duke, the Duke of Edinburgh, at the University of California some years ago. There can be no doubt at all that there is a need for more co-ordination between all the existing agencies that are already active in this field. I get the impression that there is more co-ordination in sport through the Sports Council and the regional sports councils than there is as regards informal recreation. But in both areas a whole range of bodies have proliferated: national organisations, commercial concerns, voluntary bodies, and local authorities.

While there is some advantage in diversity, and in individual enterprise and initiative, the Select Committee came down firmly in favour of decentralisation and co-ordination at local authority level. Consequently the Committee recommended, in what was perhaps their most important single proposal, that: In addition to the recreational powers which counties, districts and parishes already have, a statutory duty to secure, in conjunction with other suppliers, that adequate facilities for recreation are provided within their area should be laid on the County Councils metropolitan and non-metropolitan) and metropolitan District Councils in England and Wales, and on Regional Authorities in Scotland". That was recommendation 8 in the summary of recommendations contained in paragraph 351 of the Report.

I naturally have an interest in this since I was responsible for introducing into this House the Recreation and Youth Services (Northern Ireland) Order, 1973, on which this proposal is, at least in part, based. I suspect that most local authorities would indeed accept this to be their duty, but might be less happy about having it imposed upon them by Statute, even if the difficulties of finding an appropriate form of words could be overcome.

The financial implications are also important. I know very well that many people who are active in local government feel that Parliament is often too ready to impose additional statutory duties upon them, and yet at the same time to deny them the necessary financial resources adequately to fulfil their new responsibilities. I do not think this aspect was touched on by the noble Lord the Leader of the House in his opening speech. He may perhaps have an opportunity to say more about it when he comes to wind up at the of the debate. But we shall shortly have the benefit of hearing the wise guidance and experience of perhaps the most knowledgeable man on this subject in the country, the noble Lord, Lord RedcliffeMaud.

My Lords, We have a long list of speakers and I know that the House appreciates short speeches whenever possible by those who are taking part. Let me end, therefore, by reiterating how grateful the House is for the impressive and thorough work done by those noble Lords who served on the Select Committee, and for the honour the Prince of Wales has done the House by making this debate the occasion of his maiden speech.

4.29 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to follow the noble Lord the Leader of the House and the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, by offering my congratulations to the noble Prince, the Prince of Wales, on a quite remarkable and much appreciated maiden speech. I speak as one of those who served on the Select Committee, and we are deeply sensible of the help which his personal influence will afford us in bringing to a wider public the results of our endeavours. I would only say to the noble Prince that there are many other subjects on which he is well-qualified to speak and on which this House would like to hear him—perhaps Her Majesty's Navy, the media or some other non-controversial subject!

As the second member of the Select Committee to speak to-day, I should like to pay a very warm tribute to the amiable chairmanship which we received from the noble Viscount, Lord Cobham. In a way, this Committee was a House of Lords experiment, and if we can claim any success I think it stemmed very strongly from his chairmanship and, if I may say so, from the assistance that we received from Mr. Hayter, the Clerk. When the Report was finished I had two major sentiments: I was surprised at the ground we had covered and at the amount of evidence we had received. There were literally mountains of it. People ought to remember the risk of compulsory reading they take when they join a Select Committee or a Royal Commission. It becomes formidable over the period of time on which one is engaged. I was also amazed to discover that we by no means exhausted the whole subject. We are the first to admit that there are gaps in our Report which will hopefully be filled later on. Indeed, both sport and leisure, each in their own right, are very broad and substantial subjects. Participation in sport to-day affects relatively few people directly, unfortunately, but it has its problems. But provision for leisure affects millions of individuals of all ages.

As has already been said, there is more leisure to-day than in the past. One of the problems that we have to face is: how to enable people to use that leisure as they would wish, and this, like freedom, is an exercise in trying to accommodate the desires and rights of the maximum number of people whose requirements and interests will often conflict. It is for this reason that we have advocated the need for planning authorities at all levels to bear the needs of leisure constantly in mind, because planning for leisure cannot be an exercise in isolation. It has to be related to all other present and future developments in the area concerned. For the same reason, while we believe facilities for both sport and leisure must be mainly the responsibility of central and local government, we believe very sincerely that the principal requirement is for local facilities reflecting local actual demand and local conditions. Where "wider than local" facilities are needed, we believe it is right to propose that there should be central finance available to co-ordinate and often to stimulate the action of local authorities, and, in particular, to enable the poorer rural communities to act as hosts to urban and foreign visitors. So much for the facilities.

More important still, I believe, is to identify the correct level for operating those facilities; and here we had no hesitation in recommending that there should be a statutory duty placed on certain local authorities. The quotation has already been made by the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham. This seems to have given offence in some quarters. But this was not suggested in any way as a criticism; it was not suggested that local authorities had not been doing what they should in many areas. But we felt it would enable the country, through a recreation committee at local authority level and a recreation department set up under its own chief officer, to identify recreation as a positive function of local authorities. and create a forward look in planning which is so often absent. That is the reason why we put forward this statutory duty, which is bound to be con, troversial. I would be the first person to recognise that a statutory duty would require financing from some quarter, and perhaps in some areas—with the economic situation as it is—this could only be limited for the time being. Nevertheless, I think it is a right attitude.

I should now like to turn to a subject which covers both sport and leisure; namely, water recreation. On this subject the Report is quite clear—there is simply not enough water to go round. The noble Viscount, Lord Cobham, has already referred to the congestion on water, and I do not think it is necessary to spell out the great attractions of water for recreation, or to quote figures showing how much use of water there is. But I would make the point that we have to make the best possible use of all existing water for recreation, and to bring new areas into use if the demand in the near future is to be met. There are, for instance, the rivers and canals which are run by the British Waterways Board. The Board seem to us to work on a shoestring and they must clearly be given more financial support if they are to have any hope of making good the terrible backlog of maintenance work which they have inherited. I was interested to hear of a debate in another place a fortnight ago, which showed that in this connection the Minister for Sport is thinking along the same lines as the Committee. He said, if I may quote him: I believe that we ought not to be closing canals but opening many more and even building new ones".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, 24/5/74; col. 771.] I agree wholeheartedly.

Water for recreation is in very short supply and we need more of it. Fifteen years ago inland waterways were nearly deserted. Since then, however, they have swung from one extreme to the other and we are now in danger of saturation. So we should be looking for ways of recovering derelict and partially derelict waterways, and giving them a new lease of life. And I would stress that it is not only the waterways that will get a new lease of life. As the noble Prince said, the neighbourhood in which the reclamation takes place will benefit, too.

The rubbish-filled canal, pushed out of sight at the back door, can be turned into a clean and welcome beauty spot. Areas of Manchester are profiting in this way from the restoration of the Ashton Canal; London's canal towpaths have been opened to the public with great success; and only 10 days ago Her Majesty the Queen Mother was re-opening the Upper Avon navigation in Warwickshire after 100 years of disuse. These are things which should please all of us. But I would mention one handicap to the restoration of waterways, which we touched on in paragraph 198 of our Report; that is the problem of waterways classified as "remainder" under the Transport Act 1968, and I would ask the Government how they propose to tackle this, if at all.

There is one aspect of leisure which concerns me as one who has a direct interest in better pensions; that is, the need for adequate income and, more important, adequate purchasing power if the leisure which is available during retirement is to be enjoyed. Of course not all leisure pursuits involve expenditure, but many do. I do not propose to develop this thought in detail, but I want to emphasise the very real social problem which is created both where inadequate pension arrangements are made for retirement, and where inflation at present levels can halve the purchasing power of retirement income over a period of five years, unless special protection is provided. This will be a big social problem as people retire and look forward to enjoying leisure, which they cannot do unless the wherewithal is there.

Before I turn to sport, I want to say one thing about recreation in general. We have said in the Report that the demand for recreation, if it is to be properly met, needs professional and specialist management. This does not mean merely the management of facilities and property, but the management of people in large and small numbers and conservation against over-use. It entails such things as traffic management. All this means that a wide selection of opportunities for training in these new skills must be made available. We were impressed by the work being done in this field by the Countryside Commission, the Department of Education and Science and some universities and polytechnics. As we point out, this whole area will provide a worth while career for thousands of people in the future. I believe that the section of the Report which deals with this subject is one of the more important ones.

So far as sport generally is concerned, our two most important recommendations are, first, the need for adequate funds to be available for the Sports Council. We are fully aware of the need for establishing proper priorities, but the sums of money involved are not so large if one looks at them in detail. We pointed out that the grant-in-aid for the Sports Council for 1972-73 was £3.5 million, which was increased to £5 million for 1973–74, and £6.5 million for 1974–75. Of these figures about half goes on current expenditure, including administration, the runnin7, of the National Sports Centre, grants for international events, Olympic and world training research, and grants towards the administration and coaching schemes of the governing bodies of sport. That leaves roughly half the sum available for capital expenditure. The grant is rising but not even sufficiently to keep pace with inflation, and certainly not by an amount which is related to the problem to be faced if the deficiencies in facilities are to be made up.

The Sports Council have estimated that to meet the foreseeable deficiency in facilities by 1981 they will need about £300 million to £325 million. That is total expenditure. Most of that will have to come from local authorities, but it would also require contributions from the Sports Council of about £10 million a year for the second half of the 1970s. We are virtually on that threshold now, and unless there is an increase in funds placed at the disposal of the Sports Council this target simply will not be met.

I recognise that all this is of course a matter of financial priorities, but I believe that failure to provide funds of the required order will prove to have been shortsighted. I should be the last to draw the comparison of the Arts Council getting—what is it?—£23 million while the Sports Council get £6½ million; and I should not in any way wish to see a reduction in what is given to the Arts Council. But, if we do not meet this requirement of the Sports Council, I am told it will take something like sixty years to get the facilities which were identified by the Sports Council as necessary and which should in fact be put into opera- tion by 1981. This, of course, could not be a worse time for pleading for money, but one ought to keep it in perspective—£6½ million at the moment is just not enough.

I would stress in regard to sport that we do not suggest any change in the central agencies involved in recreation. We believe the Sports Council, the Countryside Commission and the water authorities are doing a good job. The Sports Council has now settled down to a useful and understandable pattern of work and it would, in our view, be quite wrong to take it up by the roots and take another look at it to see whether its charter wants amending or anything of that kind. It is surprising how much the Sports Council can achieve, provided it is given the funds. It is the most efficient and cost-effective way of stimulating other organisations and authorities to meet the increasing demands. This, I believe, is the way of discharging our responsibilities which best fits in with the British system of central and local government. I hope that the Report generally will commend itself to your Lordships' House.

4.42 p.m.


My Lords, I think there are 16 noble Lords down to speak after me; so I shall be briefer than I should like in paying my tribute to the maiden speech which we all so immensely enjoyed. I should just like to claim that, great though the pleasure has been to every Member of this House who heard the maiden speech of the noble Prince, his presence and his speech and the presence of the Royal Duke beside him were of particular pleasure to the occupants of the Cross Benches. The exigencies of existence of an ordinary Cross-Bencher are to listen to speeches rather than to make them. I very much hope that Their Royal Highnesses will be with us on future occasions, when the speech cannot be a maiden one and even when no speech is required.

My Lords, I must pay tribute to one other person who is not with us in his place today, the only begetter of the Select Committee on Sport and Leisure, the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe. We all should remember that, in addition to the great services he performed when Leader of this House. he invented this new way of showing how noble Lords could try to help in the long-term planning of the future of the country; Lord Jellicoe would have a permanently honoured place here if only for this reason. 1 will not take time in praising my friend the noble Viscount, Lord Cobham, because we saw too much of each other on the Select Committee for it to be necessary for me to tell him how much I admired his chairmanship and enjoyed working under him. But as a Cross-Bencher and non-partisan I must say that there was really more recreation than sport in the work of that Committee. I owed my membership of that Committee to the fact that it was an all-Party and no-Party Committee, and I got into it only as a Cross-Bencher; but the Party politicians, and very distinguished ones they were, behaved in that Committee with such exemplary restraint, consensus-seeking, love of each other, that I really did not earn my keep as a non-partisan. Nevertheless, I am grateful to them and I must add a tribute to the Secretary. With some experience of having first-rate secretaries for committees, I have never known a better one than Paul Hayter.

My own personal conclusion from working in the Committee for those 18 months is that the time has come for the Government and Parliament, local authorities and the people of this country to say once and for all that leisure is an essential part of the good life. The noble Prince quoted Aristotle, and wisely so. and related it to the wise planning of leisure. I cannot avoid being pedantic and reminding noble Lords, though it is of course unnecessary, certainly, for the noble Prince coming from the university that he does, that the word "leisure" comes from a Greek word "schole", suggesting therefore that there is no necessary distinction between leisure and civilised life. Whether at present we can spend more money on it or not, now is the time to declare that opportunities for the use of leisure must be provided. As the people of this country grow up and become better educated, as they come to have more time away from the "exigencies of the existence of life"—in other words, more time when they can choose what to do—they must be provided with opportunities wherever they live, and particularly if they live in towns or in places deprived of the kind of opportunities which those who live in the countryside still enjoy. It is an obligation on society to see from now onwards that we make a new kind of effort in that direction, with jet propulsion from public money when that propulsion becomes available—and it may not come for some years; that is, until we have conquered inflation and made progress on the economic front. But we should not wait for that time. We should decide now that this shall be part of the general fabric of our society and of the social services. That was my personal conclusion.

However—and I must disclose an interest in local government—I was also very pleased that the Committee were unanimous that the operational work of wise planning and providing choice of leisure actsivities for all people in all parts of the country must lie inescapably with local government. Private enterprise, Heaven knows, has its part to play in a hundred ways, and particularly in making available the land which is in private possession, so long as it remains in private possession. But it is local authorities at three levels that are indispensable for this purpose. The parish has an essential part to play in seeing that, whether cricket or football or an arts centre or some other form of culture or public convenience is needed, that is provided in the really local community of the parish, round the village church and the village pub. So do not let us forget that the parish council has its responsibilities and its powers, and has increased power to spend money too.

Then above that there is the district. Now we have districts which combine town and country, but some of them are the old county boroughs, boroughs and urban districts. Some of these already have a magnificent record. I think particularly of Huddersfield for music, of Coventry for theatre, of Birmingham. Now there is Thamesdown, the old Swindon united with the rural district next door, with a great complex of leisure opportunities under one roof and in one place for all members of the family who like to come; Kerrier in Cornwall, with a £1 million leisure centre, was inherited from Redruth and Camborne. There at the district level, I think, most money will be spent and most actual provision made. But—and I know this is controversial—I am unrepentant about the unanimous conclusion of the Select Committee. That there ought to be a special responsibility on the county—the metropolitan county, of course, as in the case of the Greater London Council—I do not think anybody would dispute, though of course the metropolitan districts have an essential job within those great metropolitan complexes. But outside the metropolitan areas we thought that, though the concurrent powers of the district and the county for recreation must of course remain—and no one dreamt of suggesting that the districts should do less than their present powers enable them to do—the duty, if in due course Parliament decided to give a statutory duty to anybody, should lie at the upper of those two levels, the county, not because it is superior to the district but for two simple reasons. The first is that the county by nature is covering a wider geographical area and therefore is in a better position to plan wisely so that there is a genuine choice of ways of spending leisure time not only for people who are living in towns or on the fringe of towns, but for those in the country. Secondly, the county is the education authority. Believe me, my Lords, there is nothing more difficult or more necessary than to persuade education authorities that the schools, colleges, playing fields and equipment belong to all of us in these areas; they are part of the local community and, if possible, they should help meet the local need for art centres, for concerts, for theatres. The school must, of course, have absolute priority of use during school hours, as must also the college, but when they are not being used for that purpose, as they belong to all of us in the local community they should be available for these other needs.

If you seek dual use from two separate authorities—the county responsible for educational use of the building, and the county responsible for its community use —what chance have you of breaking down those inherent obstacles to dual use, of which the caretaker is often the fattest and the most difficult to move? He does not want anything to be done in that particular building, except when the school is at work. In our view, therefore, there can be no doubt at all that the lead ought to be given by the county, with the districts playing their crucial part and also taking trouble to get the collaboration of the parishes. That is the local organisation which I believe we need. The county is responsible fox structure planning and for the transportation plan for the whole area, although the district has its crucial local planning to do, too. For all reasons both of geography and common sense, I commend to your Lordships the recommendation that in recreation the county should be made clearly responsible for seeing that provision is made. Debate will quite rightly follow. But let no one say that we are down-grading the district or saying that the job has been done badly in the past. The district has a tremendous job to do in the future, but let it be the county whose duty it is to sec that things are done—not to do the things themselves, except those which are better done on a county basis, but to see that either the district or the parish do their stuff.

If I may say a word about the regional level, there we had the excuse, which the Labour Government had in their time and which the Conservatives had in their time—"The Kilbrandon Commission has not yet reported so we need say nothing about the regions". Unlike the Labour Party and the Conservative Party we had the courage to say, "We will not wait for the Kilbrandon Commission". How right we were. We said that there ought to be a regional level for the wise planning of the use of leisure. We said, "Do not re-negotiate the present pattern of regional Sports Councils, Countryside Commission, water authorities, Tourist Board"—the Tourist Board has not been mentioned to-day but their work is very relevant—"Let us accept this structure. Let us draw together the various regional bodies and pinpoint the regional function which needs to be performed by some coherent group if leisure is to be planned on a wider than county, wider than metropolitan area, basis". So I very much hope that the Government will now seriously consider what the Royal Commission on Local Government in England put forward in 1969, which has always been put on the shelf until Kilbrandon.

I would not dare to speak about Scotland or the Principality of Wales. But for England, by a majority of eight out of thirteen, Kilbrandon backed what the Local Government Royal Commission had suggested should be the regional level in England; namely provincial councils which would not be directly elected or appointed either by the gentlemen in Whitehall or by 10 Downing Street, but would be indirectly elected by local authorities and, therefore, be rooted in democratic local government. There is a lot to be said for thinking about this, because no major restructuring is needed. But, however we do it, we need to get the Countryside Commission, Sports Council, Water Authorities, Tourist Board, the Arts Council, too, which was outside our terms of reference, involved together at the regional level.

The Select Committee thought it important that one should not think of leisure or recreation as directed between sport on the one hand and art on the other; still less between highbrow and lowbrow, active or passive. Within the new local authority, both at district and county level, we thought there might well be one Committee which looked at recreation as a whole. That must mean, as the Greater London Council and many other authorities such as Thamesdown have done, a Committee on art and recreation, or whatever you like to call it. It might oversee libraries, museums, art centres, as well as sport and other kinds of recreation. But clearly each authority must be free to decide its own internal structure.

My last word, therefore, is this. I believe that in the Report of the Select Committee there is a serious challenge to the Government and to Parliament to decide whether, as in 1870 was done for education, the time has come to start a new chapter in our social history. It was only in 1870, terribly late in the day, that we made education a priority function for British society. I believe that before 1974 is over we ought to have done something of the same kind for recreation. Of course it cannot be a top priority. But, let us decide as a country which means to become more prosperous, more just and more civilised, that we are going to enable all our people, and especially those living in areas of deprivation, instead of moving from boredom to vandalism and other kinds of barbarism as they have more free time at their disposal, to choose more civilised ways of using it.

4.57 p.m.


My Lords, having recovered from the graceful references of the noble Lord, Lord Redcliffe-Maud, to those whom he described as the Party politicians on the Select Committee, I want to say what a pleasure it was to hear the noble Viscount this afternoon and what a pleasure it was to sit under his chairmanship as a member of that Select Committee. And it was a privilege to hear the speech of the noble Prince, the Prince of Wales, this afternoon.

There have been many occasions in the last couple of years when I have felt that I have been treading on all too familiar ground. Before the war I was on the staff of the National Fitness Council under the chairmanship of Lord Aberdare, the distinguished father of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I know he would take great pride in the way his son is following in his tradition of public service. One of my masters in those days was the noble Marquess, Lord Exeter, who is, I believe, to speak next. My responsibility was to urge the advantages of the Physical Training and Recreation Act 1937, an Act which can still bring great advantages if only the financial resources are available to back it up.

After the war I was Chairman of the Labour Party's Working Party which produced the document Leisure for Living which was a trail-blazer in this field. Later, in the days of the last Labour Government, when Mr. Denis Howell was Minister for Sport, he was Minister of State under me at the Ministry of Housing and Local Government. Therefore I have spent many years discussing the inadequacy of the provision that we make for leisure and the lack of resources that are available for it.

For most of those years, my Lords, we worked on the assumption that the increase in leisure time that we all anticipated would stem from technological advances. It seems now that unless we get the economy of the country right the increase in leisure time may stem from lack of work. I am sure that my noble friend Lord Shepherd was right to warn us of the economic implications and to remind us of the necessity to get the economy of the country on a firm basis once again. But equally I am sure that my noble friend—if I may so call him—Lord Redcliffe-Maud is right in saying that although it may be difficult to find the resources now, we must allow nothing to stand in the way of planning what is required for the time when those resources become available. Whatever the cause of increased leisure the demand for facilities will be there, and I was delighted when the Select Committee was set up. I am glad that the Report has been so sympathetically received and I should like to join in the praise that my colleagues have given to the quite outstanding work of Mr. Paul Hayter as the Clerk to that Committee.

Looking back, however, I am not quite certain that our terms of reference were really right or perhaps that we interpreted those terms of reference as flexibly as we might have done. I think the Report would have been still more valuable if it had covered the whole field of leisure. Perhaps I may give an example. I recently had the privilege of being invited to succeed Lord Howick of Glendale as President of the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers. It is one of eight major youth organisations which organise work camps on a national scale, but it is the only one which, through the National Conservation Corps, concentrates its efforts in the conservation field in the widest sense. They do the kind of work to which my noble friend Lord Shepherd referred, and it is, I think, a remarkable manifestation of the spirit of service posessed by so many of our much maligned young people that they should be prepared to devote their time, and indeed their money, to preserving what is good in our country and improving that which is bad. It is a use of leisure time which deserves greater financial support from central and local government and from the public at large.

As one who believes firmly that our Monarchy is the best form of democratic Government that the world has yet devised I was more than pleased that the Prince of Wales should have joined in our discussions to-day. I was sorry to hear the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, say that he had been spared a Royal Commission because I am wondering whether perhaps His Royal Highness does not have a continuing role to fill in this field. Your Lordships will recall—although none of us, I think, was present at that time!— that before the Great Exhibition a Royal Commission was set up under the chairmanship of Lord Granville to plan the exhibition, but it is clear that the real direction came from the Prince Consort, and the contribution of the Prince Consort at that time did much to enhance public respect for the Monarchy.

We now have a standing Royal Commission on Pollution which keeps the whole problem of the environment under retiiew and draws public attention to the shortcomings and successes of many agencies, organisations, systems, and laws over a wide fieid. Can we not have a standing Royal Commission on recreation under the chairmanship of the Prince of Wales —a kind of expansion of the Prince of Wales' Committee in the Principality? It would not of course be executive or co-ordinating, but it would ensure that as a nation we do not lose sight of what will be a problem of continuing importance. As chairman of such a Commission we should need a young man en rapport with the thinking of his own generation —a generation which is not extensively represented in your Lordships' House.

I think it is right to say that ail of us on the Select Committee were much impressed by the evidence of both Mr. Howell and Mr. Eldon Griffiths. Both have made a great contribution in this field and I am satisfied that both are equally anxious to stop the provision of leisure facilities becoming part of a "Dutch auction". Both have done great work, but like the noble Viscount, Lord Cobham, I am not at all sure that so far we have got the Ministerial structure or the allocation of departmental responsibility quite right. Therefore, I support most strongly the conclusions of the Select Committee as found in paragraph 117. I most seriously commend those views to my noble friend Lord Shepherd, mentioning in passing that the proposal has attracted a good deal of support in local government circles, and I very much hope that the Government will take the recommendation seriously.

I want to say one or two words about local authorities. I am not wholly happy about the impression that we have created. Looking back, I think it may be that we went into too much detail about the allocation of responsibilities between different types of authority. Like the noble Lord, Lord Redcliffe-Maud, I am one who believes in leaving the greatest amount of responsibility possible in the hands of the locally elected authorities, and I do not think that any of the members of that Select Committee wished in any way to derogate from the position of the district councils. Like the noble Lord, Lord Byers, I have a feeling that some councils have perhaps read too much into what we were trying to say in paragraphs 92 to 99. It was not a question of brushing anyone aside; it was really an insistence that this must be a partnership between the various types of authorities which have come into existence under the re-organisation, in the course of which the noble Lord, Lord Rcdcliffe-Maud, played such an outstanding part.

I should like to express thanks to the Greater London Council, the Association of Municipal Authorities, and the Association of District Councils for the interest that they have taken in our Report and for the constructive cornments that they have made upon it. I very much hope that the suggestion made by the Association of District Councils about further discussions will be followed up by Her Majesty's Government, and I am quite certain that both Mr. Crosland and Mr. Howell are anxious to be as helpful as they can in this sphere.

In conclusion, my Lords, as chairman of the Local Government Staff Commission, I have been looking at the management structures of the new local authorities and, so far as I can see, at present 15 counties and 158 district councils, both metropolitan and non-metropolitan district councils, have appointed officers specifically for leisure and amenity services. If I may give one example of a non-metropolitan district council, it is that of Blackburn where there is a recreation department of the council. The department consists of a director, a deputy-director and six assistant directors who are responsible for the Arts, for general activities, for entertainment and pleasure, for indoor and outdoor sports, for parklands, and for liaison and development work with organisations. That is how I think most of my noble colleagues on the Select Committee really envisaged the develop- ment of the new provision of facilities for leisure, and I think Blackburn has set a splendid example—even though it is one of those district councils, which are feeling that they have been elbowed out of the way. I should perhaps mention in passing, with some pride, that my old constituency of Rossendale, another district council, now has a ski-slope manager.

My Lords, lastly, I want to go back to what my noble friend Lord Shepherd said about the competing claims on the limited resources available to us. For it is quite clear that over the next few years central Government and local authorities will have to face tremendous financial difficulties and responsibilities. All our recommendations, and all the Government's good intentions, will come to nothing if economic difficulties mean that the finance is not available. As the Association of District Councils has put it, freedom of choice has very little meaning if there is insufficient money to distribute. Indeed, perhaps the main lesson we all have to learn is that, as a nation, we may have to work harder if we are to be able to afford to play more.

5.11 p.m.


My Lords, may I start by congratulating the Select Committee on the wonderful job they have done. They have taken an immense amount of evidence, much of it contradictory and spread over a wide field, and they have filtered and coagulated it into these good recommendations. We owe them a debt of gratitude. May I also pay my tribute to His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, for his excellent maiden speech. The content of his speech shows that he has taken an immense amount of trouble and knows his subject, which is a very encouraging sign.

My Lords, when speaking on a subject such as this, one finds that there are so many facets—recreation, leisure, sport, and so on. I have a kindly feeling for your Lordships, so I do not propose to talk on all of those subjects, but I want to say something about amateur sport, where I have a certain amount of experience over the last fifty years. I think I should say why I speak about "amateur" sport. I am not talking about professional sport. That is a perfectly honourable and proper way to obtain a livelihood, and it provides pleasure for an immense number of spectators. But from its very nature there are few people in it, because few can rise to the height of accomplishment and achievement to be able to attract the public to pay to be spectators. But amateur sport is not like that. It is true that some of those at the top in amateur sport can attract large crowds, but they are not the important ones. I can say this because I was one of that little group, and looking at the youthful faces of your Lordships, it was probably before many of you were born. But I was in that group, and we were not really so important. We were the tip of the iceberg. The iceberg below is important, the tens of thousands of young men and women who are getting immense pleasure out of amateur sport in the clubs, many of whom will probably never even be placed in a club competition yet who gain the exhilaration of being really fit. I believe a feeling of competition is a good thing for them, not just against others but against themselves. They have pushed themselves, they have punished themselves, and they are better than they were. Every time they give a better performance they have this reward. There is also a very good fellowship to be found between people throughout the world of sport.

To digress for a moment, I shall say something about the international side, because this is important, too. I believe we have every right to be proud of the fact that in this country, over 100 years ago, we formed our voluntary associations. They drew up their own rules. Only the people who are best in the world can win. That is one test, and it was all done by fair play. We spread that to the rest of the world who have taken it up. I get around quite a lot because I am, and have been for nearly 30 years now, president and chairman of the largest of the international federations. We have 141 member countries. China is not yet a member, but we hope she will come back soon. Everywhere we find the same spirit that we have here; that is, an enormous bond between the ordinary people of the world. They feel that they are on all fours with each other; they know other people elsewhere in the world. There is no one between them and other sportsmen; there are no bosses, no government leadership, but simply fair, straightforward sport. As Mr. Brundage said, that is one of the greatest social movements in the world for bringing people closely together, to know and respect each other, to like each other, and to feel they have something in common. This is very important. But I will leave that now as just another reason for the importance of amateur sport. I will return to what I was going to say about the Report.

My Lords, what have we got? How are we to bring this about? How are we to increase the facilities and the organisation? We are lucky. We have an enormous body of voluntary helpers, thousands of men and women in all different sports who, week after week, day after day, give up their spare time for no material benefit, but who enthusiastically help to organise the club committees, and are secretaries of the little clubs and organise their competitions. The organisation is there. It is a joy to them to feel they are putting something back into the sport out of which they have had so much fun themselves. But we do need money, not great quantities. Amateur sport, by the very nature of things, is poor. Money must largely come from Governments and local authorities.

I hope that whatever can be spared will be spared because this is not just a casual throwing away of money, but something which is infinitely important for the future. If we can get facilities all over the country and then run propaganda through the schools, pointing out to young people when they leave "why not go on and join clubs, out of which you will get something worth while", this would be a good thing. From amateur sport one gets the guts, the determination, the courage, the learning to know the fellow members of the club, and if this is carried through into life, these are just the characteristics we want for a good citizenry in any country in the world. I hope when the time comes, and when the money is looked at, that as much as possible will be found, because I can assure your Lordships that casting one's bread on the waters in this way, it will come back 100-fold so far as the happiness of the future generation is concerned.

5.18 p.m.


My Lords, I rise, during the extended but undefined tea interval that I know is the custom of your Lordships, to welcome this Report. Before doing so I should like to add an episcopal tribute to those already paid to the maiden speech of the noble Prince. Those of your Lordships, like the last speaker and one or two others, who are Trinity men will remember that when His Majesty King George VI—another Trinity man—came back on a great occasion to his old college, which has nurtured Isaac Newton, Tennyson, Macaulay, and one or two others, the then Master, Professor Trevelyan, in his speech of thanks, remarked that the Palace had asked him to supply some notes for His Majesty's speech, but that the King had wisely torn them up and said what he thought. "After all", said the Master, "he is a Trinity man." For some of us there is no higher praise. I must confess to a note of disappointment in the noble Prince's speech, because I had hoped he would reveal whether he was one of that select band to which all of us have tried to attain, to imitate the last speaker, the noble Marquess, Lord Exeter who I believe, as I am told, is the only member of Trinity College who has succeeded in running round the Great Court of Trinity while the clock struck 12.

As your Lordships will see from the Report, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London, was a member of the Select Committee. He would undoubtedly have wished to speak in this debate had he not been on duty to-day in America, representing the Church of England at the installation of the presiding Bishop there. So I shall be echoing some of his own thoughts in addition to mine, although on the subject of sport our personal tastes differ. As the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, is aware, because we are always meeting in the airport at Zurich (where he is usually writing his sermon for the next day), my sport has been ski-ing. As your Lordships will know, in this sport one tries to make progress standing upright on two pieces of wood going forwards. The sport of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London has been rowing, where one attempts to make progress sitting on a hard seat going backwards. My Lords, I welcome the Report because it recognises that leisure can no longer be treated as a "residual" category of activity, to be left to private initiative. It is an integral and growing part of one's life in our society, and requires a concerted effort and planning if adequate provision is to he made for it. I was so glad that the son of the Bishop who confirmed me, the noble Lord, Lord RedcliffeMaud, talked such amazing sense about this matter. It is naturally what I expect from a Bishop's son. It is a matter not of providing opportunities for recreation for those who can afford it; it is a matter of making these amenities available as part of the overall pattern of our society.

I suggest there may be a risk in thinking and writing, as people do, about the "problem" of leisure. We tend to assume that leisure is what happens when work is over, to take for granted that the conditions of work for most people cannot significantly be made more attractive or fulfilling. But if we were to think of the overall needs of people for a variety of satisfactions in life, we might find more was achieved by a greater intermixing of activities that we have hitherto thought of as work or leisure. Your Lordships will know that just as we use statistics to help our decisions, so we tend to chop up life and human affairs to ease our administration; housing, transport. education, health, are parcelled-off for purpose of Government. And when leisure, or rather communal leisure activity, grows to the point of needing Government attention, so it becomes another parcel. In order not only to administer but also to understand it, we then apply the parcelling to our analysis of life itself, and we define leisure as the time left over after work and personal chores. We identify chunks of time, evening, weekends, annual holidays, as being leisure, the rest as being something else, with the implication that the fulfilments which leisure can bring are sought exclusively within leisure time.

However, my Lords, as you know, life is not like that. For a start, work and leisure interpenetrate in many subtle ways. Voluntary overtime, second jobs, do-it-yourself, twilighting, evening education, are all familiar examples of work in leisure. The professor who chops wood at weekends and the forest worker who reads in his spare time show how things can stand on their head. But more important than this is the fact that life is integral, or people wish it to be so. Life's satisfaction is to be gained from all parts of it, from work and personal chores as much as from leisure. The human need, I submit, may not be for a white patch, which is leisure, to cancel out the black patch, which is work, but rather for a rich fabric with a life-thread running through the weft of alternating activity.

Before I mention three specific areas in which I hope to see the researches of the Report bear fruit, I want to venture with great diffidence one slight criticism, or perhaps note of disappointment. The Report is concerned throughout with sport as a participant activity, and how honoured we were to listen to the noble Marquess who has been participating in it, as he told us, while we were not yet conceived. The Committee, therefore, concluded that questions arising from professional sport—including the behaviour of spectators and supporters—because of what the Committee called the "commercial nature of the sports concerned" make their own organisations best suited to judge and provide the facilities. Is it not a pity perhaps that the Committee did not allow themselves an opportunity to speculate further on the likely split between spectator and participant sports in the remaining years of this century? Not only does this raise the issue of the allocation of resources, but it would be useful to know whether it is the same population or different sections of the population who engage in the two types of sport, and what are the effects on the overall health, in all senses of that word, of society of promoting one type of sport rather than the other. Spectator sport is apt to get a rather bad Press just now, and even to be regarded as morally inferior to participation sport. It has been seriously suggested, however, that, like space exploration, it serves a valuable function in international relations in drawing off into symbolic stylised conflict national tensions otherwise liable to find expression in actual conflict, whether within or between these nations. But that is my only criticism.

Now I turn to three parts of the Report which in my view merit special consideration. I want to join with other noble Lords in pleading that when schools are built it should be taken as axiomatic that the time when they are used for the education of children only should be regarded as an important part, but only a part, of their use. They should be designed with the question in mind, "How can this school best serve the Community?". That involves those many hours when the children and their teachers are no longer there, and of course as a Bishop there is probably nobody better qualified to know the problems of caretaker versus manager versus vicar versus irate mothers and pugilistic fathers. This is merely a problem to be solved with local knowledge and imagination and a good deal of episcopal oil pouring. One particular criticism that has been raised about the dual use of facilities, which are very popular with some local authorities, is that where leisure facilities have been provided in a set of buildings also designed for educational use the demands of the education system tend to take priority in any conflict; consequently, the leisure needs of the local community may not in practice, although they were intended to, be as adequately met as the widespread use of such dual purpose facilities might suggest.

Of course, I agree in thinking we are proud of our playing fields at our schools, especially in urban areas. But I just wonder—and I hesitate to say this because I can imagine how easily it will be misconstrued—whether a reduced area of playing field would be acceptable, and then more money could be spent on sports halls which could offer far more varied facilities to the whole school and the outside community. In this connection I welcome the attention paid to swimming facilities. The increase among the richer members of the community of those in possession of a swimming school and the almost status symbol of the possession of a pool should not blind us to the fact, as the Report says, that swimming is one of the most popular family sports. Dad, Mum, the kids, and even Gran, can all disport themselves together, regardless of vital statistics, relaxing in a sport which is healthy and enjoyable and which, thank heaven!, is by no means expensive.

With the greatest diffidence, and while throughly agreeing with and trying to understand the immense changes that have gone on in my own diocese, with national, regional, districts—the number of services in which I have blessed outgoing mayors and welcomed incoming chairmen have been legion in the last three months, and I always put up a special prayer for Lord Redcliffe-Maud —I wonder whether we should not benefit from a national policy about such matters as footpaths, bridleways and the preservation of waterways. As the Report points out, those of us, like myself, who have been brought up in the town have to be educated to the proper code of conduct for behaviour in the country. I used to work in Westminster; then I had to learn about the "gin and Jag." belt of Guildford; and now by the waters of the Avon we have sat down and slept, and I am trying to learn about country things in Salisbury. That involves education which should have come at my school. It would be helpful, would it not, if what I learned to do or not to do in one part of our country were applicable throughout, so that, as Professor Joad would have said, I was prepared for the untutored townsman's invasion of the countryside?

Similarly, could I suggest that we might have a national organisation, however it is organised locally; whether I could join a national organisation for the provision of people, men or women, who would ensure that our limited countryside resources in our small Island were properly preserved and opportunities provided for recreation in as wide a field as possible. You will note, my Lords, that I have not used the word "wardens". That is because the word for most of us town dwellers— and most of us in this country are town dwellers—has an ominous ring. The word "warden" for me conveys the image of a person, usually of female gender, largely yellow in colour, whose descent on my car means an ominous gesticulation towards a yellow line, a feeble reply from a defeated Bishop, and the loss of several pounds!

Your Lordships will feel some sympathy for the member of my cloth who was attending a conference for clergy in one of our more congested towns—was it Canterbury, York or Salisbury?—and had to leave his car on a yellow line. He left the following note on the windscreen: I am a minister of the Church attending a conference, which I have done for 15 years. I am already late and the parking places are getting fewer and fewer. Forgive us our trespasses. When he returned to his car, he found the following note on his windscreen: I am an officer of the law, accompanied by a traffic warden, and I have been doing this beat for 20 years. My superior is due within the hour, and he is getting stricter. Lead us not into temptation. So, my Lords, will the noble Viscount consider not calling them, "warden"? "Ranger" is the word. It has an outdoor, romantic, almost "cowboy" sound. It speaks of wide open spaces. "Warden" speaks of the crabbed, cabined and confined spaces of the inner city.

But my most passionate pleading is for the development, promotion and financing of the adventure playground in the densely populated areas of our cities. Well do I remember working for eleven years a few hundred yards from this House in Vincent Square. My parish was 30,000, ranging from the Crazy Gang to your Lordships' House, and comprising people of every level. But only a few of those parishioners—people living in Vincent Square—had the great privilege of playing games in Vincent Square. And, obviously, any too generous sharing of that small bit of turf with all and sundry would only have resulted in ruining it for everybody. But the days of relying on turf are gone. Other substances are very acceptable.

I think of Poplar, where my son has just completed some four years in a parish of some 50,000 people. Adventure playgrounds there are an absolute godsend. Your Lordships will be fully aware, as are the Members who produced this Report. of the vital necessity of securing the active co-operation of the local community. Here is a playground where sometimes a paid official, sometimes parents from the surrounding area, man the adventure playground for supervisory duties. Here is a playground where within a concrete shelter-looking building are tools with which the local youngsters can do all sorts of constructive activities.

I noted, I think, a complete omission of any provision for the handicapped. I do not suggest for a moment, nor would I, that the handicapped want to have segregated adventure playgrounds. They want to have a part, with the other children, of the same playground where they can be at least a bit protected but not segregated. Who knows whether, if we did that, we might have the great joy and privilege of having more attractive and amazingly brave people like the noble Baroness, Lady Masham of Ilton, in this House as a result of having provided adventure playgrounds for the handicapped?

But what puzzles some of those folk, like my son and his Bishop, Trevor Huddlestone, is why tracts of land can lie waste for some four or five years where it is intended to build "something" in the future, but where that "something" is quite unknown to the locals, and the date of starting to build is also so indefinite as to be incredible. I know only too well the fear of local councils, that if you clear ground and allow something like an adventure playground to be temporarily constructed it will be almost impossible to get rid of it when you want to build—in the same way as it must seem at times almost impossible to get rid of a Bishop after his usefulness has evaporated. But four years in the life of a boy, especially a small boy, is a lifetime, and who knows whether in that time we have missed the opportunity of nurturing not a vandal but a John Hunt.

It did not need the head of an Oxford college to remind the noble Prince from Trinity and myself, that the Greek word for leisure is skole, though I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Redcliffe-Maud for the reminder that it is the word for "school"—the place and the time where we learn about ourselves, our relation to others, to the community, and to the universe. Because this Report, if I may venture to say so, opens wider visions than those which we may now enjoy, I wholeheartedly welcome it, as I am sure will all my brother Bishops, and hope that its recommendations may be implemented, especially in those areas on which I have ventured to lay special stress.

5.36 p.m.


My Lords, I, too, should like to add my word of congratulation to the noble Viscount, Lord Cobham, and his Committee on this splendid Report, and also to congratulate our distinguished maiden speaker. Those of us, who are many, who have always admired his high intelligence, his good humour and his courage, were I am sure delighted that he chose this debate in which to participate. I suppose that we all have recollections of the noble Prince, but I remember that when he was in Wales some of my Welsh friends said that he spoke better Welsh than certain Welshmen. Having been married to a Welshman, it seemed to me that there could be no higher praise than that.

I have been in the leisure industry all my working life, and at least it solves one problem—that of leisure. If you work for other people in their leisure, you have no bother about knowing what to do in your own leisure time because you do not have any. The Report points out that leisure is increasing, that we have shorter working hours, that we have earlier retirement, and of course the machine—if it produces anything—should produce for mankind more leisure. I feel that we must sound one note of warning. It would be impossible if we all tried to move in on the syndrome of the Monday to Thursday nine-to-five week, when there appears to be some reluctance to have any kind of work outside that.

I also feel that with the decrease in certain kinds of labour, our leisure has been gradually eroded. We all have to, "Do it yourself" these days, whether it means painting our houses or cutting our lawns. We have slower journeys to our workplace, which again eats into our leisure, and we have self-service of every kind. Recreation should be exactly what it says. It should be a re-creation, a recharging of our batteries. Every human being needs this if he is to live fully. Today we are talking about active recreation, and the terms of reference of the Committee were good. I should certainly like to endorse all that has been said about the greater use of facilities and the dual use of facilities. Schools and playing fields are actually closed for more hours than they are open.

But I want to speak today—and I hope the noble Viscount will not feel that this is a note of criticism—about a large and successful group of people who provide splendid opportunities for active leisure, enjoyment and enrichment both outdoors and indoors, who have been completely left out of this Report. These are the people who are involved in movement and dance. I feel sure that none of your Lordships would be so out-of-date as to imagine that this applies only to the female population. Gone are the days when anybody imagines that somebody performing in the ballet is a delicate gentleman. Everyone now knows that he has to be of a very strong and acrobatic capacity. But this movement is largely concerned with females, and it is one of growing numbers.

I understand that the Select Committee decided not to discuss movement and dance, for two reasons. One was that it is not a sport or a recreation—a very interesting arrangement; secondly, it could be in some way called "commercial". I should like to suggest that certainly the second reason was partly mistaken, and that the first was almost wholly mistaken. There are nearly three million people—and this does not include schoolchildren and students in colleges of education—who enjoy all kinds of music and dance. Look, my Lords, at the division of the Central Council of Physical Recreation that caters for this —and I have selected just a few including the Keep Fit Association, of which I have the pleasure and privilege to be a Vice President. It has 500,000 participants, I hasten to say, outdoors as well as indoors. Your Lordships will know that this is no longer the old system of calisthenics that some people remember in school; it is a free movement.

Last week the Albert Hall was crammed with happy, energetic women of all ages, drawn from all classes of society, taking part in beautiful keep-fit demonstrations. These are the kind of activities that receive no publicity in the newspapers, possibly because people are enjoying themselves and because there is no violence among the thousands who are assembled. There are waiting lists for classes in this particular activity, certainly in the London area. We worked it out that it would take at least three years before one would be likely to get into a class. The Government survey, "Planning for Leisure", showed that ballroom dancing and all the other kinds of keep-fit and dancing were by far the most popular form of physical recreation for females of all ages, including the "grans", referred to by the right reverend Prelate —and as a "gran" I might say that I enjoy any kind of keep-fit activity.

How can women easily arrange to get into some of the more active pursuits and sports which have been described earlier? It is always difficult to take part in a team sport, unless you are able to indulge in it fairly frequently. The average married woman can participate only in that type of activity. We have to look at the Welsh and English Folk Dancing Society and its Scottish equivalent to see that here we have about 500,000 participants. Its annual rally filled the Albert Hall where it held three separate performances—wonderful occasions of colour, enjoyment, fun and health-giving activity at the same time. This group, particularly, is a family pursuit.

Recently there has been a revival of the movement techniques as a treatment for psychiatric and other hospital patients. Some prisons have had helpful therapy from this kind of activity. The suggestion that movement and dance is commercial, is belied by the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, the National Association of Teachers and Dancing and the Royal Academy of Dancing, whose participants are almost certainly amateurs, using the word in the widest sense. So often commercial are the clubs which spring up all over the place, offering slimming facilities for high fees. Indeed, I believe that they offer other facilities in some cases; but these clubs are not part of the Central Council of Physical Recreation and never have been.

My Lords, I wonder whether I may point out the international side of the movement and dance organisations. These events enable participants to go to all parts of the world where, I should like to emphasise, they meet in perfect harmony, bringing the truly international spirit. Some of these are competitive, but more infrequently they are not. One does wonder whether this is perhaps why the type of animosity which we see in some other events is not so prevalent there. Incidentally, I should like to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they would assist the movement to take part in some of these international events? The Sports Council is not very generous to this section, certainly not as generous as it could be. It is an expanding movement, with an appalling lack of facilities. All that most people want in taking part in these activities at local level is a clean, accessible hall, a problem which has been mentioned by other Members of your Lordships' House. The modern movement has no need of apparatus, but all of us who have had to tackle the caretakers when hiring school halls know full well the difficulties that must be overcome. Indeed, I tell my organisers, "Do not worry too much about the Director of Education; so long as you keep on the right side of the cooks and the caretakers you will be able to carry out your work."

My Lords, I ask the Department of Education and Science to issue a circular letter outlining codes of conduct for letting halls. I am bringing forward the case of music and dance movement now because it is most important that this group should be included in any White Paper proposals which Her Majesty's Government may present after studying the Report of the noble Viscount's Committee. I hope that my few words may elicit from the Minister some reassurance on this point.

5.46 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to add my tribute to the maiden speech of the Prince of Wales and to compliment him on the great interest and value that he contributed to the debate. I am particularly glad to hear of the extra-mural Chair at the Atlantic College in Wales which he himself has established. I took note of what the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, said about the White Paper being issued. I welcome this, because much of what has been said to-day may possibly be included in it. I am not so happy about the resources not being sufficient at present but I notice that the noble Lord, Lord Byers, took that one up. I hope we shall at least get some money, even in these hard times.

The question of dual use has been mentioned many times, but I make no apology that I shall bring it up again shortly during my speech. I should like to compliment my noble friend the Marquess of Exeter on his excellent and sharp-shooting speech. If I may say so he got over his hurdles in record time. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Salisbury also spoke of dual use and he mentioned adventure playgrounds. I am glad that he did so because we have done a certain amount of it. He has apparently had trouble with wardens. I suggest that play leaders are a good substitute for looking after possibly him and the adventure playgrounds. I should like also to congratulate my noble friend Viscount Cobham and his Committee on its masterly Report which draws together the knowledge and experience of those most concerned with the provision of facilities for recreation in leisure time, and sets out pointers and guidelines for the solution of connected problems and the way to greater development.

My Lords, I agree with so much of the Report. My only regret is that it did not go further, that its terms of reference were not drawn wider, though I suspect that members of the Committee may have been tempted to go further and, indeed, did go outside their writ. I am glad they did. In fact, recreation as a whole is so much wider than sport and it covers all age groups. However, I noted what my noble friend said about aspects of overlapping. Those who take part in active sport, and not spectator sport, are somewhat circumscribed by age, although some sports can be continued all through life. In observing the changes and trends it is possible, as the Committee points out in paragraph 43, to stimulate and encourage participation in activities simply by providing facilities and gaining popular sport. The National Playing Fields Association has proved this with adventure playgrounds. Although they were new and expensive, they obtained immediate popularity whenever they were established and they continue to do so.

I especially welcome the suggestion in paragraph 57 under the heading, Assessment of demand for leisure activities, that Surveys must go on and a continuous process of research should be encouraged. It adds that this should be promoted and co-ordinated from a national centre. The noble Lord, Lord Redcliffe-Maud developed that aspect in an excellent speech. This should be over the widest possible field in all sectors, for all age groups. It should include what is going on in the local and Central Government, industrial and voluntary spheres, from the playgroups for young children to the leisure activities of old age pensioners—and "continuous" is the operative word, for we need to harness knowledge, I experience and resources upon the widest front and the centre to co-ordinate it needs careful attention in its composition.

While appreciating the "Sport for all" campaign of the Sports Council, "Recreation for all" would have a much wider application, and I warmly support the Committee's dictum that the provision of opportunities for the enjoyment of leisure is part of the general fabric of the social services and is an essential ingredient of life. This has recently been reinforced by the Association of Metropolitan Authorities, which has emphasised that recreation is an essential part of the fabric of society. They even suggest that there is a strong case for transferring recreational capital expenditure to the key sector of expenditure. That is the best news I have heard for a long time, in view of the very low priority which is always given to matters concerned with recreation.

The voluntary element has received its rightful tribute as the lifeblood of the clubs and governing bodies of sport. A good deal of pioneering work has also been done and it is essential to preserve the voluntary element. The clubs have provided facilities with the assistance of public money and voluntary funds raised locally. We have done quite a bit with interest-free loans from voluntary sources, and these have been of great value and help. If somebody receives a loan he can get on with what he wants to do and does not have to try to encourage people to raise money. At the present moment, we have £400,000 and this is generally returning within five years. The money goes on round. Of course, it is not enough, but I think the Government might well consider a similar scheme through existing voluntary organisations, so that interest-free loans could really go out and get things moving. As I said, the money returns.

Clubs throughout the country have done great work for local communities. In fact, they have literally become, "Local recreation centres". We have produced a publication with that title, giving all the technical details for providing these facilities, but as the Committee said, local authorities have made the lion's share of provision. However, some set a higher priority than others which makes for a very uneven picture over the country. As the noble Lord, Lord Byers, said, there is great hostility towards a statutory policy. I am not quite sure why this is so, but it is. The recent Local Government Act has been unhelpful by withdrawing grants for the acquisition of land for public open spaces at a time when land is at a very high price, and the burden lies very heavily on the smaller councils. I made an effort to rectify this by an Amendment but, as will be remembered, the Committee stage of the Bill was taken without Amendments. I very much hope that the Government may reinstate central grants for open space provision, at least for local councils in rural areas.

I am very glad that the Committee has stressed the importance of the alliance between public authorities and private enterprise. This certainly exists and there is great co-operation, which has brought about the great advance in recreational facilities since the war. But the best alliance is through a proper balance of financial resources. I am in favour of recreational committees and departments for the better co-ordination of local amenities and recreation. This would assist a greater use of educational facilities in out-of-school hours.

The large section—Chapter VIII—of the Report which deals with dual use is most important and I make no apology for speaking about this matter again, because it can provide a key to the whole situation. Here, again, there is no uniform policy, but there is a definite trend towards improvement. I should like to mention in passing that the National Playing Fields Association has been pressing for dual use for nearly 50 years and I think it is about time that we got around to it. Education authorities have autonomy in this matter and, quite naturally, their chief interest is in education and not in the community at large. But I am not alone in believing that recreation is a part of, and complementary to, education in building character, more particularly in out-of-school hours. Great harm is done by the lack of facilities for young people who have no recreational accommodation in out-of-school hours and in holiday time, when the schools and playgrounds are closed. I hope that the Government will pay serious attention to this vital matter. I know that there are troubles about wearing out the grass, but we have got around to hard areas now. I know that there are also difficulties because the caretakers do not want to be there. But, as I have already said, it is simple to train play leaders to see that everything is looked after. We ourselves have done a certain amount in this sphere through adventure playgrounds and play leadership schemes for the younger children.

A good deal of thought has been given to the laison between the Sports Council and the Countryside Commission, and it is stated that conservation and recreation cannot profitably be separated; indeed, conservation of land for recreation is one of the central features of our whole discussion. However, land is pretty rapidly being lost to recreation, and unless an area is reserved for long-term recreational use it can be acquired only at development prices—and what local authority can afford these without a special Government grant or loan authority? In the Greater London area, 150 acres of private recreational land were lost in the years 1970 to 1972, and 22 acres of open space have also been lost. The Sports Council has been endeavouring to persuade the Government to provide safeguards through planning to save these vital national assets from being lost—not very successfully, I fear—and to help local authorities to finance the purchase of similar open spaces.

There are many aspects of the whole field of recreation which need to have their own commissions and all of them must be co-ordinated under the proposed Minister of Recreation. I have one particular matter in mind. I know the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, has already said that he does not want more new departments and commissions, but this matter concerns play areas, play leadership and adventure playgrounds which all have to do with the recreation of those under school age or children in out-of-school hours. It is here that everything should start. Provision has grown over the years through various voluntary organisations and local authorities. But there is an immense amount still to be done, and these developments would be greatly assisted by a commission which would draw together all that is going on in this neglected area so that there could be a clear responsibility for out-of-school time.

I make the most earnest plea that a continuing dialogue should be built up between the Government and those who are making tremendous efforts, and who are most closely concerned with the subject in the area of play leadership. It would be most helpful if the Government could give a lead to local authorities, urging them to develop this new policy. I am sorry to have gone on for so long, but there are relatively few opportunities of discussing this whole subject of recreation. I am very glad that such prominence has been given to it by the Committee's Report and by this debate, and I hope that much progress can he made in the immediate future on behalf of the whole community.

6.0 p.m.


My Lords, like all other noble Lords I should like to add my congratulations to the noble Prince, the Prince of Wales. It is not the first time that I have heard the noble Prince speak: last time was in Yorkshire, and His Royal Highness was as popular there as he has been in your Lordships' House to-day. I want to speak only very briefly in this debate, as I spoke in your Lordships' House yesterday —and especially after what the noble Lord, Lord Redcliffe-Maud, said about Cross-Benchers. There has been considerable disappointment felt by many people that the facilities for the disabled to participate in sport and leisure have not been included in this Report. The disabled do not want segregation: they want integration—and integrating their needs into these Reports would, my Lords, have helped. One must not think of the disabled just as individual people with problems which have to be overcome; one must think of the whole family of which they are a part. This involves children who will be deprived of many activities if access is not improved for their disabled parents. Therefore, more provision should be made for the recreation of handicapped persons in such a way that they can participate with people who are not handicapped. I should like to take this opportunity to congratulate the people concerned with the Albert Hall, because they have made great efforts to make this vast hall accessible to people in wheelchairs; and music, which has been hardly mentioned today, is a very important part of our lives. I think the world would be a very dull place without it. Research is needed into facilities in National Parks, countryside parks and urban parks. These facilities of course include lavatory accommodation. Universities are interested, but they need funds to carry out research projects.

My Lords, on our honeymoon, a few days of which we spent in Wales, the noble Earl, my husband, wanted to show me Gelert's grave at Beddgelert. To get to the park leading to the grave we had to negotiate an obstacle barring our way. This was a kissing gate. My noble husband, determined to get me through, got the chair halfway, and I was stuck. Nothing we did could budge me. Finally, the village policeman was summoned, and the gate had to be dismantled around me. Kissing gates are impossible obstacles for wheelchairs. Would it be possible co find some alternatives to them in places of national interest open to the public? The noble Prince, the Prince of Wales, spoke of the benefits to handicapped children going on waterways. I was delighted to hear this. My Lords, when the noble Earl, my husband, was in hospital earlier this year I had to be in London, and it happened to be the week our daughter had her half-term holiday. One day I thought it would be of benefit to her to see London from the river. I drove to the piers of the pleasure steamers only to find too many steps. But what made the situation rather frustrating was that most of the access was ramped. If only this had been extended, I could have given at least one child an enjoyable afternoon.

Swimming is a sport beneficial to all, especially the disabled, but one aspect which worries me is the risk to the splendid helpers who may lift disabled people in and out of swimming pools. There are now excellent water hydraulic lifts which a disabled person can work himself to gain access to swimming pools. I should like more encouragement given to the use of these aids. Without frightening the public, I think more warning should be given to people about diving. Accident prevention is a very important matter. I have seen too many young men with broken necks as a result of diving. Three Members of your Lordships' House broke their backs riding: the noble Duke, the Duke of Buccleuch; the noble Lord, Lord Crawshaw; and myself. The noble Lord and myself, I know, feel this was a risk worth taking for the love of the sport. I should like to take this opportunity to congratulate Her Royal Highness Princess Anne on her equestrian ability, and to thank the Princess for the encouragement Her Royal Highness gives thousands of people who are helping with riding in giving pleasure and benefit to physically and mentally handicapped children.

My Lords, I used to ride and ski a great deal, but having broken my back does not stop me taking part in sport, I swim and play table tennis, and I still ride occasionally. Sport is of benefit to all, and of all ages. I should like humbly to suggest to your Lordships that it would be of benefit, and that your Lordships would be fitter and more alert, if your Lordships' House had more sporting facilities on the premises. We have heard this week that there may be fishing facilities from the Terrace. Perhaps it is too much to hope for a swimming pool, squash courts and table tennis facilities.

6.6 p.m.


My Lords, I should first like to say what a pleasure it is to have Lord Cobham here to-day to move this Motion on his Report. He and other Members of the House may recall that I in fact had a Motion down to debate this Report during the time of the previous Administration, but of course it got lost with the change of Government. However, better late than never. Certainly this Report, and the debate to-day, covers a very large area, and much has already been said. I wish to concentrate my few remarks on paragraphs 338, 339 and 340; namely, the need for action on the better provision of trained management and education for leisure.

My Lords, not only are we now living in a leisure age, but the problems of such an age are becoming more acute year by year. History may well judge that this leisure age will in due course have a greater effect upon our civilisation than did even the Industrial Revolution. To-day we are still suffering from the effects of the nineteenth century industrialisation, and, with the benefit of hindsight, I am sure that our ancestors could have done a great deal more to mitigate the bad effects of that era. Let us not make the same mistakes. Should we not to-day be asking ourselves: is the bulk of our population, whether from the factories or from the offices, really ready for a vast increase in leisure time? Is the average man and woman psychologically prepared to have, literally, time on their hands? Let us assume for a moment that we will in due course have a four-day week. How will those extra days be used? Not, if the housewife and mother has any say in the matter, around the house; and I hope certainly not in the pub, or at the racetrack. What is certain is that many more will go to the country; and there is no doubt in my mind that people must be taught to get the full benefit from this increased leisure-time, and also to understand the country. There is no doubt that there is a great need for a comprehensive plan for leisure education right through from primary schools to universities, and beyond to adult education—not forgetting the unions.

In the cities, the provision of facilities can do much to absorb leisure activities without too much damage to the urban environment. However, there is one big potential danger: the effect of increased leisure on the countryside. Last week a conference organised by the English Tourist Board was held in the Festival Hall, and this very subject was discussed. I do not think I can do better than to quote briefly from the Report, in which it is said: The Committee believe that a proper emphasis in schools on education for the countryside and for recreation pays handsome dividends". But they go on to say: Ignorance of the Country Code and farming methods are often the reason why visitors cause damage to the countryside and thus arouse the hostility of the farmers and landowners. Great pressure for outdoor recreation inevitably increases the threat of trespass and makes farmers more reluctant to let the public on to their land. If the public can acquire at school a better understanding of how the countryside works and what farmers are doing, they will do less unintentional damage during their leisure when they are adult. Continued teaching of the urban public in the responsible use of the countryside will make them more welcome there and reduce the risk of conflict". Thus it is clear we must somehow encourage the intelligent use of leisure in the countryside where both the mind and body are exercised. But how can it be done? First of all, no doubt, at school, where I believe without great extra cost extra-mural studies can be ser- viced by the existing teaching staff. Certainly more school projects involving conservation would be welcome.

I should also like to say a special word about the unions to-day because if the unions look overseas to America they will find that there they have been forced to set up departments to appoint officers to provide leisure advice to their members. They have bought hotels for holidays for their members and provided other leisure facilities. I hope that the Government will have a word with the T.U.C. to see whether Mr. Murray will agree to ihe setting up of a small committee for the study by its members of this very important problem.

There is no doubt a need for a country education service to be run perhaps in co-operation with the Countryside Commission, which I know is indeed very much aware of the problem and has itself appointed interpretive officers in its ten National Parks. But I believe that much can be done also in the private sector. The "strictly private" notice which one sees around the countryside will, I believe, become more and more unacceptable in this modern age. It will perhaps be better understood if part of a country estate is made more available—perhaps as a nature trail, or to organise forestry or farming open days, or to use disused gravel pits for scrambling or water sports. I believe that landowners are sometimes over-protective and that the private sector has a big part to play. Certainly we have the setting up now of some fine countryside parks, but some of these have been delayed inexcusably by bad planning decisions and planning policies. There must be much better co-operation between the local authorities and private owners in the setting up of such parks, because I believe that access willingly given will benefit the owner and the public—whether the owners are the public authority, the Forestry Commission or the private owner.

But where you get increased access, you must have increased understanding. Therefore, another important part of education in the countryside is the information centre or interpretive centre. These are now successfully appearing all over England and Scotland. Some have been set up by the Countryside Commission, others by private people and yet others by the English Tourist Board. These centres not only guide people to the places of interest but inform them what they can do, and, more important perhaps, sometimes guide them away from the more sensitive areas which need protecting. Naturally, siting is vital, and in the beginning many information centres were put in the wrong place—for instance, in the middle of a National Park. Now it is the accepted policy that these centres should be built on the edge of Parks and, as the noble Viscount, Lord Cobham, said, transport should be used sometimes to move people around within the Parks. But they certainly should be planned on a national scale.

Coming as I do from the New Forest, I am very saddened to see that the Department of the Environment in its wisdom has decided to end the M27 right at the gateway to the New Forest, at the Cadnam roundabout. Very wisely the Forestry Commission decided that this would be the ideal place for an information centre, but due to recent cuts, that information centre has now been cancelled and next year, when the M27 opens, the New Forest will be very seriously damaged, I believe, by the extra influx of people which an information centre sited there would have done a great deal to prevent. That is very sad because, in co-operation with the county council the Forestry Commission has done so much in recent years to control the problem in the New Forest. But I was very pleased to see that the Report, in paragraphs 263 to 267, recommends the greater recreational use of woodlands and their ability to absorb people and cars.

Finally, I turn to management and here lies the key to the removal of frictions and towards making the best use of all of our leisure and sporting facilities for the largest number of people. There are far too few leisure-management courses at our universities. What a splendid career this would be for a young man or woman to-day. It would be up to them to make us see to it that the leisure boom works for and not against the interests of the countryside. I believe we can strive to educate as well as to entertain—as I believe we do so well in England's stately homes which attracted no less than 43 million visitors last year. In this leisure age this generation is more conservation-minded than indeed were past generations. Under right planning, control and education, future generations can have their leisure in a green and pleasant land.

6.16 p.m.


My Lords, this has been a very distinguished debate and I almost apologise for intruding, but if any Lord is tempted to ask "Que le liable allait-il faire dans cette GalÈre?"—using the last word on this distinguished occasion in its meliorative, and not its MoliÈrative, connotation—I must put the blame firmly upon the shoulders of the Ramblers' Association and their associated bodies who wrote to me a very charming and moving letter, which rather cunningly referred to some Parliamentary battles of the past in another place and, indeed, recalled to me some of the happiest days of my life. I also have a duty to thank them for something else—for calling to my attention one of the finest State documents that I have ever read. I have had the privilege in the last week or two of examining the products of the Economic Commission at Brussels—admirably reasoned, full to the brim with facts, containing an infinite variety not quite from cabbages to kings. But after the first hundredweight the interest tends to dissipate and the change to this admirable document, admirably phrased, generously phrased, generously presented and introduced in just the same spirit by the noble Viscount, Lord Cobham, in his speech to-day, was something new and I found it very touching.

During the admirable speech of the Prince of Wales, I recall another qualification: that the only job I have ever held, and one which I openly solicited, was the stewardship of Her Majesty's three hundred Chilterns, an area of still almost unspoiled beauty, home of the famous Beeches and the site of Gray's Elegy in a Country Churchyard. I was not permitted to hold it for long, because there were other applicants. But I should like to explain to the noble Viscount that the ramblers, who do not realise I can no longer ramble but can only meander—and I do not propose to meander long to-day—make no criticism whatever. On the other hand, they are full of praise for the courtesy and understanding with which they were received, for the understanding of their problems, for the tolerance and for the consideration. It was the noble Viscount himself who referred to suspicions which are based on a rather long history of dubietics arising from old controversies. To that extent, I might say that that is not wholly dissipated and there are two reasons for this.

During the long period of cold storage into which I was put by my political superiors, some changes took place in the use of the British language which I personally deplore. I came back to find people talking about taking a "realistic" view, which invariably precedes the adumbration of some major breach of principle. I now hear people constantly talking about the "environment", which used to mean the area of beauty by which we were surrounded and now seems to refer to nothing but polluted areas, to rubbish dumps, sewage farms and brothels, all lacking beauty. The second complaint was admirably put by the noble Earl. Lord Arran, to-day when he said that there were literally some fields in which Statute law did not seem to run so effectively as in others.

I omitted to say that the word to which the ramblers have called attention is "rationalisation", which now has a special connotation in connection with footpaths. The word "rationalisation" which now appears in leading articles and so on, indicates no extension to footpaths at all unless they are to divert one around the two-and-a-half sides of a 25-acre arable field; no increase of footpaths, quite definitely, in the very areas in which, as the noble Viscount so ably said in his speech this afternoon, they are so much needed. One realises the inevitable controversy which arises from the increasing demand for arable land and the demand for footpaths near the metropolitan areas.

I referred to the point made by the noble Earl. Lord Arran, to-day. It really is true that before the noble Viscount's Committee complaints were made by agriculturalists about the very serious problem of the ploughed field and the use of the plough on extensive areas where the footpath runs across. Those who complained were apparently wholly unaware that provision had already been made substantially to deal with that problem, and to permit the limited ploughing up of footpaths in such circumstances on due notice, and on replacement by an alterna- tive. So, my Lords, they can show justified apprehension when they check up recent legislative provisions for the sign-posting of footpaths, the implementation of which in some counties varies from moderately fair to pretty poor, and from pretty poor to shocking, one county having ignored it completely from the time of the passing of the law. I am certain that they will all be encouraged by the noble Viscount, who spoke with such sympathy and understanding and by hearing the speeches from both Front Benches.

I myself recall with some emotion, particularly when I heard the touching and moving speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Masham, what has happened in places like Oldham in the last 30 years. We started by trying desperately to get help for a playing fields association. Now we can even point to small yachts on the local lake, to bringing the Lake District within transportable distance, to rescue teams operating from Oldham on the Welsh mountains and the Yorkshire hills, to the proximity of the Pennine Chain path and to other facilities which have been created.

I do not know whether the noble Viscount will permit me a single diversion on a matter in which I am always interested. I have only one criticism to make. In his definition of "leisure" he did not include chess, for which I forgive him, but he heard without contradiction evidence that chess is not a form of physical activity. My Lords, that is quite untrue. The amount of energy needed for a chess master to win a master game is really stupendous and it costs much more energy to lose one as is shown by the comparative illness which often follows a defeat. One chess master declared after winning 10,000 master games that he had never defeated an opponent who was in perfect health at the time of his defeat. Now that the contest of world mastership varies from Iceland's icy mountains to Cuba's not quite coral strands, we have found in these combats that both heat and cold can have deleterious effects upon a defeated champion. So I put in a plea, as I did on sports earlier, for this game.

Finally, my Lords, I make one serious observation which I think is worth making. I do not wholly share the somewhat morbid prognostications of yesterday made by the Leader of the Liberal Party about our economic future, but I apprehend that we have come to a time when there may be a need for a little belt-tightening. There is no cheaper, no more rewarding sport than visiting on foot the beauties of our country, with or without a botanist's microscope, with or without a camera, and so on. I think the time is coming when, instead of taking a couple of dozen bikinis and four or five parasols to find the dubious sun of Spain, people may recall that all the equipment you need for the Lake District is a mackintosh, and that sometimes what looks to us like a drizzling rain—what we describe to visitors as a mountain mist—is part of one of the most invigorating ways of participating in the pleasures of the countryside. It is a healthy, cheap and admirable activity, which has the essential nature of peace. I am very glad to have been convinced to-day that I need not raise any fractious points in this debate, as the speeches from either side have been so comforting and so reassuring that I feel that this Committee has not only produced a magnificent Report, but has initiated measures which will redound to the pleasure of pedestrians everywhere.

6.28 p.m.


My Lords, I am the 15th speaker to rise and congratulate the noble Viscount, Lord Cobham, and his colleagues on their remarkable and comprehensive Report. It is no criticism of the noble Viscount and his colleagues to suggest that it has come late in time, and perhaps only just in time. It perhaps will not be minded by the noble Viscount, Lord Cobham, if I remind him that some of the ideas that are embodied in his Report were floated in a debate in your Lordships' House as long ago as 1968, and in those six years the needs have grown and the problems have grown apace with them. May I also—addressing myself to the noble Viscount—congratulate him on his remarkable patience in remaining in his seat throughout the debate. In my experience of your Lordships' House I have never seen this happen before.

At the beginning of his speech the noble Viscount wondered what Sir Edmund Hillary might feel would be the proper category in which to place the climbing of Mount Everest—whether as a recrea- tion, a hobby, a leisure or a sport. I think I can tell him. It falls under none of these categories. I think it could be said to fall somewhere between a celestial mission and the drudgery of the treadmill. It has no part in this debate at all.

The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, suggested to the Prince of Wales that he probably would not wish us to make too much of a meal of the eulogies expressed in regard to his remarkable speech. If he were in his seat, I should be offering him the 15th course! Naturally, I enjoyed and admired his speech as much as anyone else. I have only one complaint to make about it, and if he chances to read Hansard to-morrow I hope he will forgive me for making such a complaint. It is that he pinched the famous quote attributed to Aristotle, which I was going to make use of myself. I cannot help feeling that if Aristotle were with us to-day he would be sitting on the Cross-Benches.

I would say that the great merit of the Report—and indeed this point has already been made—is that it is making leisure respectable and responsible in its own right for everybody, not only for the privileged, and not simply as an expedient for improving one's work potential. I would say it has a particular message and significance for young people, for those who work at the coal face, on the shop floor and in our fields, many of whom have the least experience of the whole range of leisure activities. As the Report says, leisure is essentially a matter of personal choice, but unless the whole range of options and opportunities are made available and are made known, too many people will continue to be drawn into a narrow selection of city-based activities and entertainments which are all too well organised and all too attractively displayed, and which pay handsome commercial dividends. This is a crucial point, and it was made by the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, two and a half hours ago. Perhaps he will permit me to make the same point now—although this is not, of course, really the time to develop it. We must do far more than we are doing at present to provide incentives and encouragement to our young people to use the great outdoors to work off their aggressions and energies, if we are ever to make any significant reduction in the trouble we are having on the football terraces and in our back streets.

There is so much in this Report about which I am positively enthusiastic that, quite obviously, at this stage in the debate I must be carefully selective. I will concentrate on those aspects of recreation which fall mainly within our National Parks. First, I would hope that the statutory duty—and I wholly support the suggestion that there should be one —laid upon the local authorities will at last provide those local authorities and the Countryside Commission with the power and the will to give our National Parks effective protection from the further encroachment to which they have been exposed for much too long. I cannot help reflecting ruefully that had its timing been earlier—and this is no reflection upon the noble Viscount—the impact of this Report might have spared the Lake District its bisection by the A.66 and it might have saved Snowdonia from the Dinorwic pump storage scheme. Indeed, I hope that as a result of further surveys of land resources which the Report recommends, more recreational land in our unexploited hill and mountain areas will be placed under protection from further industrial encroachment.

I have said that I am fully in support of the statutory duty. I believe it is the only way of ensuring equal opportunity in this and indeed in any other field. At the same time, I think it is of crucial importance that the many voluntary bodies which have been in this field for so long and have gained so much experience should continue to receive the maximum encouragement, financial and otherwise, so that their know-how and enthusiasm should be given full scope. I recall that their enthusiasm was mentioned by the noble Marquess, Lord Exeter—and there is no more important aspect of this enthusiasm than that of voluntary work in improving the amenities of the country. Mention has been made of the canals, but of course there are footpaths and, in the cities, playgrounds in which voluntary workers are the essence of the exercise.

I come back to the need for expanding the available areas for adventurous outdoor recreation, and there is the related need for providing information and publicity with the object of spreading the load of growing demands on the use of the available areas at present. It is already a matter for serious concern that some existing areas—and I am thinking particularly of Snowdonia—are under excessive pressure which, in turn, reduces their value as wild and remote country. There can be little feeling about "being away from it all and out on your own" if you go to Snowdonia with a group of friends and find the mountainside crawling with other groups who have come along with the same laudable idea. Already particular interest groups, such as climbers, tend to feel threatened when they find conducted tours under training on their favourite crags, festooning those crags with multi-coloured ropes, and hear the valley echoing with the shouts of the instructed and instructors alike. I devoutly hope that the day will not come when notices have to be placed on the access roads into the Snowdonia National Park, announcing "Park full" and when there are road patrols ensuring that cars going through those roads unticketed continue without stopping to the further exits.

I also welcome, as I believe the right reverend Prelate also did, the proposal for a co-ordinated so-called "warden service". I should like to use the words "ranger service", and I hope the right reverend Prelate will notice that I have adopted his suggestion. The service should have some power to enforce rules, with a career structure and nationally recognised duties. Already hooliganism is rearing its ugly head in our National Parks, and erosion and litter are doing a great deal of harm.

There are two other matters which I should like to mention which, while not being specifically referred to in the Select Committee's Report, stem directly from the recommendations relating to outdoor adventurous education. If your Lordships will permit me, I should like to say a word or two about them. First, as regards training in adventurous activity, if we are going to encourage the leisure options which are attended by risks even more than we are doing at present, then it is all the more essential to ensure that appropriate training facilities for leaders is also expanded so that the quality and number of adults rise to keep pace with the demand. I am speaking specifically of the mountain-based activities, but I think the same is equally true of water sports, caving or any other activity attended by risk. Indeed, there is a very real danger, as I see it, of publicising these sports, and the areas where they may be enjoyed, in advance of the availability of an adequate cadre of instructors. What is more, I believe that it is wise to expose young people to potential dangers only at a slow pace from the simplest of beginnings and on only moderately rugged terrain, rather than (to borrow a metaphor from another sport) to "plunge them in at the deep end". The idea surely should be that they should enjoy and find an ongoing outlet in those activities rather than end up quite early by saying, "Never again".

For this reason, I think it is important not to press on with those who are not enthusiastic and not enjoying the experience. I am against making young people take part in activities of this kind because someone deems it to be good for them. It is all very well for the police or the fighting Services, as part of their training; but it is wrong to impel young people into experiences which involve risk of which they can have no notion beforehand. The acceptance of risk must be a matter of personal choice, taken when you are well aware of it. What is more, if more absolute beginners were headed for the moorlands rather than our rugged mountain areas, it would mean less congestion in places like Snowdonia than is the case at present.

My final point concerns safety. Given that a free choice has been made to indulge in a "risk" sport, I deprecate the overplaying of this word "safety". Of course it is up to the individual to choose the risks he takes, and to safeguard against avoidable risks. This is even more the responsibility of teachers, youth leaders and anybody else who take young people and prepare them for taking risks. But I detect a positive complex about safety nowadays to the point almost of emasculating the sport of its main attractions. If you so hedge a sport around with precautions as to eliminate the possibility of an accident with a multiplicity of signboards and coloured cairns all over the hills, with shelters at frequent intervals, and so on, we shall finish up with the ultimate absurdity of placing safety nets at the foot of the crags to catch falling climbers. There is no surer way of destroying adventure and losing adherents to it than this.

Accidents in our mountains are serious matters, and sometimes tragic. But some accidents are bound to occur occasionally and when, unhappily, they do, it is wrong to put the whole splendid momentum, the whole spirit of the daring, into reverse from a failure to retain a sense of proportion. The Sports Council, the local authorities, the Minister of Sport, all, as I see it, have a duty to help the media to put such accidents when, sadly, they occur, into perspective. I hope that they will do so. These two points, training and safety, are consequentially important to the kind of development which I and all your Lordships very much hope we shall see outcoming from this splendid Report.

6.42 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to start by adding my own word of congratulation to the noble Prince on his speech earlier this afternoon, which we all enjoyed and which gave us so much food for thought. Having served as the country member of Lord Cobham's Committee and, in some sense, as the Scottish countryside member, I shall confine my remarks to those problems connected with the countryside, and at this time of the evening I shall try to be brief. The noble Lords, Lord Montagu of Beaulieu and Lord Hunt, have already made many of the points I wanted to raise and I thank them for making them. I was particularly glad that the noble Lord, Lord Montagu, made so clearly the point about the need for education in the use of the countryside, so that people may not get in conflict with users of the countryside, but also—and equally important—so that they may the more enjoy access to it.

A number of noble Lords have drawn attention to the sombre facts of the changed circumstances in our economic position since the Committee sat. We were of course working, and all who came and gave evidence to us could be said to be working, on the premise of growing affluence throughout the nation, greater productivity and thus more leisure and more means to enjoy that leisure. One or two noble Lords have drawn attention to the fact that this may not necessarily be the position. I only hope that our grounds for optimism a year ago may be enabled to return to this sphere.

I have referred to the point which the noble Lords, Lord Montagu and Lord Hunt, made. I shall not make a speech at all. I shall simply raise one point and try to underline it, because it is one which has not been made so far during the debate. I want to say a word about the part our forests have to play in meeting the demand for outdoor recreation. It is not always realised what potential exists here, but the Report of the Select Committee spelled out something about it, and referred to the special capacity of forests to absorb people in an unobtrusive manner. Provision for this is being made both in the public sector by the Forestry Commission and in the private sector, although they are not so much talked about.

The Forestry Commission are the largest public owners of land in the country and their estate extends to three million acres, most of which, but not all, is planted with trees. For many years they have been experimenting rather unobtrusively with the provision of facilities for walking, picnicking, camping and enjoying the beauty of the forest and wildlife which finds harbour there. In their Report for 1970–71, the Forestry Commission published a comprehensive and forward-looking recreation policy. Since then the pace of providing and developing facilities has quickened, and it is known that they have even more ambitious plans afoot. Such developments have been financed out of the Forestry Fund, the main purpose of which is the planting of a national forest. It is worth noting that the total disbursement by the Exchequer between 1919 (when the Forestry Fund was established) and the year ending 1972 was £281 million.

It is also worth noting that our present bill for imports of timber and timber products is running at well over £1,000 million per annum, and is still rising. This is annually four times the total of Exchequer grants to public and private forestry over the half-century that has elapsed since 1919. At the end of this century, our forests could be providing a quarter of our timber needs. I mention that in passing and for two reasons. First, the prime role of our forests must be the production of timber. Secondly, the development of the great recreational potential of the forest should not be debited in the nation's accounts against the cost of growing trees. These things cost a lot, particularly if they are provided to the high standard of taste and workmanship which the Forestry Commission and others have happily set for themselves. They should not have to be found from the Forestry Fund on the scale that is required.

When I was in Holland a year or two ago, looking at the progressive plans which they have laid—which have already been referred to once or twice this afternoon—for getting their national recreation needs well organised, I was shown around and guided by an official who was from, I think, the Ministry of Recreation and Natural Resources. He emphasised to me the value which they put on their forests for recreational purposes. They thought that next to water facilities, which tended to crowd people, for dispersing people who wanted peace and quiet and fresh air the forests were of immense and unique value. My guide emphasised this point and added, in a little less than perfect English, "You see, it is not so good to recreate among the potatoes."! This attitude of foreigners towards their forests is not general in Britain, but I think it will grow as more and more people experience the refreshment and content which the woods can and do offer.

In urging your Lordships not to underrate the potential of the forest resources in relation to what we are considering today, it perhaps needs restating that the prime concern of the forester must be growing timber. But growing timber can be reconciled with the needs of recreation more easily than can some other uses of rural land. Public access to woods, however, contains one grave and mortal danger, especially to young woods. I need hardly say that I refer to fire. Picnickers and others just have no idea how easy it is to set fire to dry grass or heath, and how difficult it is for an army of men to put it out again—back to education again which we have mentioned already. Furthermore, it is my belief—and others who know the countryside well share this point of view—that it should be made illegal to light any fires or stoves at certain times and in certain places, as is the case in many other countries. I will plead this case again with your Lordships at some appropriate time, but in the context of what we are now discussing I hope the point might go on Record.

I think I ought to conclude by declaring my interest in that particular point. I would rather not in a way, because I was to make the point in any event and now it will look as though I am axe-grinding. We have just lost 100 acres of young forest trees on an estate for which I have responsibility—burnt to a cinder in Scotland. I quote it as an example. It happened a month ago, and it took 90 people to put it out, but it could easily have burnt much, much more. Three boys and a primus stove were found to have been responsible. My Lords, they and others just do not realise the dangers. It could happen anywhere in the Highlands and it is remarkable that it does not happen more often.

6.52 p.m.


My Lords, may I add my congratulations to the noble Prince on his exceptional maiden speech, and my thanks to the noble Viscount, Lord Cobham, for enabling us to debate this Report, which is particularly welcome as it deals with an increasingly important subject. However, I find far from welcome the fact that I can see no mention of sports facilities for the disabled in all three volumes of this Second Report. My noble friend Lady Masham of Ilton has already mentioned the widespread disappointment that this has caused. There are two lamentably brief allusions to the disabled. First, under publicity, it is reported that the Disabled Living Foundation spoke of the lack of publicity about facilities which are available and already accessible to the handicapped. The Committee agreed that some improved publicity would be beneficial at not too great a cost". The second reference, albeit oblique, is made when Dr. Bannister speaks of a group studying various aspects of sport and recreation including the special needs of the underprivileged, prisoners, the problems of race relations and sports participation". The disabled were included in this curiously assorted bunch as, I suppose, underprivileged. But this Committee was wound up after two meetings. There is no further mention of evidence supplied by the Disabled Living Foundation and no reference whatsoever to that submitted by the British Sports Association for the Disabled, which is the umbrella organisation embracing all types of handicap for all the individual disabled sporting organisations.

The exclusion of such evidence and the failure to mention the needs of the disabled in any context in this Report is a very grave omission, particularly as sport can play an important part in assisting the integration of disabled people into the community. The Committee, having concluded that leisure time will increase, ask: What will people do with their leisure? Will they make use of it? Is there any reason why they should fill themselves with fresh air instead of relaxing in an armchair? The question is a valid one. I think that if one asked this question of the disabled one would find that a very high percentage of people wish for some form of physical activity in their leisure time. Able-bodied people with sedentary jobs have realised the importance of sport and physical recreation to their wellbeing. Sport, whether competitive or noncompetitive, is even more important in the case of people who are chairbound or who walk only with difficulty. It assists the development of the physically disabled child; it helps the newly disabled adult to maintain maximum physical fitness. It is a good means of improving balance and co-ordination, of strengthening the muscles, of speeding-up the reflexes. Its physical values are great to many people with diverse disabilities. From the psychological aspect, sport can boost the disabled person's confidence enormously. He can also derive much pleasure from the knowledge that he is performing some action with the maximum skill, grace and co-ordination that his physical disability allows.

Sport provides an excellent means of working off aggression, which is useful for the able-bodied, as the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, mentioned, but particularly so for physically handicapped people who in many cases cannot get up to go for a walk to "let off steam". The discipline which the practice of sport instils is especially valuable, for example, to the handicapped child who has been somewhat spoilt, or to the recently disabled adult who is struggling to re-adjust himself. Participation in sport has great social value for both handicapped children and adults, enabling them to make friends and join in activities with their contemporaries. It can help to keep the disabled family united by providing a shared interest, and can, in turn, integrate the disabled family into the community by means of that interest. Furthermore, it can influence society's attitude to the disabled. It is good publicity value. If an able-bodied person sees what disabled people can do in the field of sport, if he meets them and talks with them and discovers that they have many interests and ideas in common, he begins to understand why the disabled desire to become fully-fledged members of society, although alas! at the present moment some members of the community are not yet attuned to seeing the disabled actively participating in sport in public.

We can therefore say that the handicapped benefit from sport for many of the same reasons as do the able-bodied, but perhaps to an even greater degree. So I was delighted, my Lords, on arriving at Chapter III, Provision of Facilities, to read the Committee's statement, already quoted by the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, that: Society ought to regard sport and leisure not as a slightly eccentric form of indulgence but as one of the community's everyday needs. Yet there is still no mention of the disabled. I cannot believe that this was because the Committee assumed the disabled were so much a part of the community as to need no special mention. Gratifying though this assumption would be in many circumstances, it is impracticable when discussing "facilities", which necessarily include access and so forth.

We live in an environment tailored to an able-bodied society, and this is as it should be. Indeed, as the average wheelchair user's dimensions are something like 4 ft. 6 in. by 2 ft. 1 in. by 3 ft. 7 in., posterity could form some curious conclusions about its ancestors from an architecture based on these. But the certain special provisions which must be made to allow the disabled to live in this environment involve little or no extra expense, provided they are made at the design stage. So I am not asking for more resources. They present obstacles to no one and indeed smooth the way for many other sections of the community such as the old, the pregnant and those accompanied by the young.

Chapter V deals with facilities for water recreation where mention could have been made of opportunities for canoeing, sailing, et cetera, for the disabled which are becoming increasingly popular. There may not be great numbers of disabled people wishing to do these things—indeed, people with certain disabilities might be quite unsuited to them (the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, has already warned on risk sports for the able-bodied)—but the facilities should be there in case they wish to use them. This type of activity brings the disabled person into closer contact with nature and the elements, and these are things from which lie can feel quite isolated, especially if he is chairbound.

Chapter VI, Facilities: Leisure Out-of-Doors, mentions play areas for children and adventure playgrounds. It is important to ensure that disabled children can obtain access to and benefit from these, for it is vital to integrate the disabled child as early as possible in life. I was particularly delighted that the noble Prince mentioned handicapped children in his excellent speech. There was no mention in the Report of disabled children with regard to adventure playgrounds— something the right reverend Prelate has already pointed out. There was no mention of access to parks, trails, et cetera. The Committee say that more car parks, lay-bys, picnic sites, lavatories, et cetera, are needed for people visiting the countryside. I hope the latter will be accessible and signposted as such.

Chapter VII is entitled "Facilities: Sport". In this Chapter the Committee welcomes the tendency to provide sports centres. I quote: Sports Centres involve grouping and cross-fertilisation and, again, They encourage social contact". The noble Viscount has already spoken about this. My Lords, this underlines my point, that sport can provide a very valuable contact between disabled and able-bodied members of society—and where more so than in sports centres? Yet there is still no mention of accessibility or of other facilities. Perhaps there was no need to mention these. Did the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act remove such problems? Let us examine the situation.

It is true that that Act did a great deal to ensure that new sports centres were built with access, adequate parking and sanitary facilities for the disabled. One of the main objects of the British Sports Association for the Disabled is to secure access to sports centres and its officers visit and advise centres about this. The Sports Council keeps a watchful eye on new sports centres which are being built. Despite all this, the fact is that there are still some sports centres being built which are inaccessible to handicapped people, and it would have been helpful if their needs had been mentioned by the Committee in this connection.

The British Sports Association for the Disabled, the Sports Council and the Central Council for Physical Recreation have all helped to improve the attitude of coaches towards taking on disabled people. Hitherto, some of them were inclined to think that sport was, "not for them". The Central Council for Physical Recreation has asked all governing bodies of sport to name somebody in each sport to act as a liaison officer for the disabled, and I think it would be helpful to have a specific name to approach in case of need. However, I hope that it will in no way discourage others—coaches, for instance—who are already doing a valuable job, from continuing their work with the disabled because they feel that it is now somebody else's particular concern.

The Sports Council has appointed a disabled sportsman, Norman Croucher, as a member of the Sports Council. He is a double below-knee amputee who has climbed both Mont Blanc and the west flank of the Eiger since he became disabled. He is, therefore, an excellent example of a disabled person who takes part in integrated physical activity—in his case, to a remarkable degree. However, I hope that he will also have some knowledge of the special facilities required for the more severely disabled who wish to take part in sport. My Lords, much is being done to ensure that the disabled can take part in sport, but much more needs to be done. This Report contains no suggestions about what should be done and no acknowledgment or criticism of what has been done. I hope that the noble Lord the Minister who is to wind up for the Government, who has shown such interest and concern for other aspects of the lives of the disabled and who has already mentioned them in this context to-day, will have something to say about this grave omission. The disabled derive as much, if not more, pleasure and benefit from sport and leisure activities as do their able-bodied fellows, and they have an equal right to practise them. Therefore, I deeply regret their exclusion from this Report.

7.4 p.m.


My Lords, it is my great pleasure to add my congratulations to the noble Prince, the Prince of Wales, on his magnificent maiden speech this afternoon. Also, I wish to congratulate my noble friend Viscount Cobham who initiated this debate, and in particular to extend my congratulations and thanks to the Select Committee for their wonderful work in producing this Report: collecting and presenting all the evidence, conclusions and appendices.

As a Londoner the problem of recreation for my family and myself is ever-present. I am a man who needs exercise and who never seems to get enough of it. Therefore, I support the noble Baroness, Lary Masham, in her plea for exercise facilities in the precincts of your Lordships' House. Particularly welcome is the emphasis given in paragraph 211 of the Report to the objective of the Greater London Council, … to achieve a distribution of open space within London which will allow every home to be reasonably accessible to different types of open space". The Greater London Council itself welcomes this Report and praises the work of the Select Committee. There is much to praise and commend and little to criticise. Some of those criticisms have already been mentioned.

I speak not as a member of the Greater London Council, but as a member of its staff. The affairs of the parks are not included in my daily duties, but they interest me. On January 31 of last year, my noble friend Lord Nugent initiated a debate in your Lordships' House on the quality of life in the urban environment. It was my privilege to take part in that debate. I spoke about the need for the increased use of our parks and the importance of open spaces in our cities, particularly in connection with the use to which they are put. We hear a great deal about proposals for recreational facilities for young people, from infants to those who are still youthful in mind and body and who want to participate in some form of sport or active leisure. Recalling once again the debate of January of last year, I mentioned the need to enable children to play adventurously. I was pleased to note that the right reverend Prelate spoke on this subject. I used as an example the town of Thetford which has an adventure playground and, in addition, has facilities for children to be able to take their bicycles out at night and cycle in the dark, using their bicycles in complete safety without fear on the part of their parents, or danger to themselves or to the public.

Some activities of youth cause concern. A leading example in our parks is the festivals of modern music. The very suggestion of such an event now creates pictures of overcrowding, litter, vandalism combined with wild, reckless behaviour. Those who cannot understand or appreciate the present-day tastes of the young complain that there is not enough control over these festivals and that the police are too lenient. They fear, also, that even if there were enough of them to get together so that they could exercise some form of control themselves, they might find themselves in trouble with the law to a greater extent than the music enthusiasts.

It is a pity that youth does not have a good public image. I noted particularly that the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood, referred to the much maligned youth. Human nature is the basis of this. In every organisation or group, big or small, it is the minority adverse elements who attract the most notice. However, I say: Thank goodness for the majority of young people who are not the moronic creatures the publicity image tends to make out. Whenever I hear of a group of persons likely to maintain this unfavourable image by their behaviour, I express regret and then try to tell people about those whom I have met and can respect for their courtesy and intelligence, even if I cannot share their taste for music, or the Arts, or fashions. They can give the world confidence in modern youth, and they must be given every possible opportunity to to bear the responsibility of creating a favourable image. It is up to them.

The Select Committee has pointed out an interesting fact in modern society and behaviour. In spite of all the facilities of modern transport, private and public, which provide opportunities "to get away from it all", not many of those opportunities are taken. On the whole, people do not seem to want the wide open spaces, although they are there. The majority seem to prefer crowded conditions; they take a motor trip into the country and go where the other crowds are. They do not stray very far from their cars. Are we all suffering from such a mass of fears, known or unknown, that we have to rely to such an extent on the herd instinct to keep our minds at ease? Is it a feeling of insecurity or frustration that causes the crowds to collect and for some persons among them to misbehave? Just at a time when it is possible to enjoy the spirit of adventure, that spirit of adventure is in danger of being lost.

The veteran citizens of our society can help to foster the spirit of adventure. I like to use that phrase "veteran citizen" and I try to use it rather than such negative words as "old", "elderly", or "aged". History is becoming very prominent these days. Modern science and technology are aiding the historian so that it is a living subject. Each district is discovering more of its local history, and the fascinating facts combined with instances in actual living memory give the history student of to-day a telescopic view of the past. So many works, buildings or landscaping, whether it be for business purposes or for leisure, dig up some more examples of history, and where these are being discovered personal memories are useful. In some cases they are vital. We live in a fast changing world, and it is the veterans who can assist us in keeping the local history alive.

The only comment I wish to make on this Report by the Select Committee is in regard to the accent on youth and the little reference that is made to the needs of the veterans. They need their own particular leisure: it may be active or it may be quiet. Fortunately, veterans are able to be more active. For example, in London—and I have no doubt in many other cities—evening classes have been very well attended by persons of all ages. This is not only attendance to study and to gain qualifications but for social contact. In a class of mixed age groups the veterans can help the younger people. Tact may be necessary because experience and knowledge can sometimes clash with youthful confidence.

Social contact in study leads us to the consideration of social contact in sport. Here we look to the education authorities for assistance and we have the mention about the use of schools and facilities in after-school hours. Schools which have large swimming pools, gymnasia, tennis courts or assembly halls could be used for much better purposes. I mention assembly halls because I have had to visit a number of schools personally, to inspect them in connection with entertainment licensing. Schools have arranged for the public to be able to use their assembly halls as theatres, for concerts or plays. That is a valuable use to the local community.

I was particularly interested in the mention made by the noble Prince of Gordonstoun School because I was privileged to be an early pupil at that school. One of the maxims of its founder, Kurt Hahn, was that a school should not only be a place of education but should also provide service to the community. When compiling my notes about the possible use of schools after school hours I was naturally thinking about London, but when the noble Prince mentioned Gordonstoun it caused my mind to go to other schools in the country and how they might help the tourist industry.

To use Gordonstoun and the area in which it is situated as an example, it is a beautiful strip of land on the South coast of the Moray Firth which has one of the best climates in the British Isles. It is a long way from the South of England, but once you are there it is well worth visiting. The shore line is a mixture of rocks and beautiful sands, and not far away there are the mountains, and the climate is splendid. One stands a very good chance of having a sunny holiday there, but for swimming the sea is a little cold. If schools in that area would open their swimming pools to the public there might be a noticeable in- crease in the number of tourists during the summer months.

Of course there will be difficulty in regard to conversion of schools for public use, and any complaints by the education authorities in regard to those difficulties would certainly be justified, particularly in regard to the expense involved; but if local authorities came to their assistance it would make the raising of such funds easier. I particularly ask Her Majesty's Government whether consideration has been given not only to any possible use of the facilities at existing schools, but also whether all new schools that are being planned, either now or in the future, could have included in the plans the possibility of using the gymnasia, swimming pools, and so on, for public use.

Again, private sports clubs have facilities for social contact. They often provide means whereby people can get together and have refreshments. They can meet and talk in such clubs. But it is the public grounds that suffer. For example, many publicly-owned tennis courts have been closed owing to lack of use. This lack of use results from a lack of social amenities once the actual hard exercise period is over. If it is not possible to bring friends or relatives—and particularly close relatives—people tend to seek other forms of exercise or, regrettably, none at all.

Many sports depend on the weather. Football is one of the most popular sports in this country, but it is also highly vulnerable to the elements. As a very popular sport there is constant demand for more space so that pitches are available. To reduce the need for additional land and to keep existing land readily available for games there is a movement afoot to introduce synthetic turf surfaces. To quote from the Report, paragraph 291: The Football Association say that they do not advocate a widespread change from grass to all-weather areas or synthetic surfaces since the very nature of the game is closely related to the surface of the pitch, and the Committee appreciate the force of this argument. However, there are advantages in the use of synthetic surfaces. More games per pitch can be played per day or week. Games can be played under some weather conditions which would be considered totally unplayable for ordinary grass pitches. Less land will be required, and maintenance will be easier. The cost of outlay will be high, but in the long term it will be a valuable investment, although private sports organisations may find the expense prohibitive until, with research and experience, the cost can be reduced. Public bodies may be able to raise enough funds at least to experiment at the beginning.

Many a new idea finds opponents more quickly than supporters. It is always up to the supporters to have the courage to experiment. I have it on authority from the Chief Officer of the Parks Department of the Greater London Council that the Council is a supporter of this idea, and is seeking every possible opportunity to experiment in the use of synthetic turf surfaces. If these experiments prove successful, the results could be revolutionary in a beneficial way. I also wish to add that in the event of the experiments proving the success which is hoped for, any change from natural to synthetic pitches will not result in any redundancy of staff.

My Lords, a few more speeches and we come to the end of a most important and interesting debate, one which is likely to gain considerable public notice. I have already tried to express a tribute to those who have worked so long and hard to produce this valuable Report. This debate is therefore the beginning of our work to see recommendations become realities.

7.22 p.m.


My Lords, I shall be brief as time is going along and there have been some twenty speakers, but I am the first to speak from Scotland. I think the voice of Scotland ought to be heard somewhere. We have heard a good many voices from Wales—quite rightly—but I should like to say a word or two from the Northern Kingdom. I should like to add my congratulations to those already expressed to the Prince of Wales on his remarkable speech. I think we are fortunate that in the Royal Family we have always had people tremendously keen to help in this world of leisure, recreation and sport. My mind goes back to the 1935 Jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary, when the Prince of Wales of the day, Edward, raised a great fund which became the King George Jubilee Trust, of which I was the first woman member and one of the very first trustees. For thirty years the late Duke of Gloucester was chairman of the King George Jubilee Trust. I should like to put on Record the appreciation I feel for the tremendous service which he did in being the chairman of that Trust. The noble Lord, Lord Hunt, became a member of it later on. But it would be nice if in this debate in this House we could pay a tribute to the Duke of Gloucester for his thirty years as chairman of the King George Jubilee Trust, and to the work which that Trust did and still does for young people. I hope—perhaps I ought not to say this—that Her Majesty the Queen may consider making the Prince of Wales the chairman of the King George Jubilee Trust, the chairmanship being now vacant.

I should also like to say a word or two in support of what the noble Baroness, Lady Masham of Eton, and the noble Baroness, Lady D'Arcy de Knayth, said on the subject of the integration of the handicapped and the non-handicapped in every way that is possible. At the present moment, I am engaged in trying to do this very thing, building a college for further education, one that is purpose-built for handicapped people. But it will also take non-handicapped people. I hope those who have given us such a marvellous and interesting Report, an excellent document, will, as a follow-up, ensure that whatever is done as a result of all this work will also include facilities for handicapped people to join in the sports that they can do with non-handicapped people. That is the real point that the noble Baroness, Lady Masham, and the noble Baroness, Lady D'Arcy de Knayth, were making. I support that very strongly indeed.

My Lords, I should also like to support the suggestion made by them for riding for the disabled. I have actually organised such an enterprise in my own county. This is extremely popular, and is a very simple sport. In a country area, such as where I live, it is easy to do this kind of thing because everybody has ponies, and one can get able-bodied people to come along and help the disabled with their riding. It has been a tremendous success, and is another matter that might be pressed on local authorities when they are considering the development of sport of one kind and another.

In Scotland, we really are enthusiasts for outdoor sports, such as ski-ing in winter. When I think of all the years that I have lived in Scotland, yet it is only in the last ten years that anyone has decided they would ski in the Cairngorms! It is very odd that these things "catch on" when the facilities have been there for so long. But ski-ing is very popular, with pony-trekking, hiking, rambling, caravanning, mountain-climbing. All these things are enormously popular. It is very exciting because it does give one faith in the development of community activities. Even our education committees—and no one finds in education committees very adventurous people—are setting up outdoor schools, part camping and part living-in, where children can spend a week or a fortnight away from traditional buildings and the traditional curricula of education.

It is not only the young who are so keen on all these activities, but adults as well, judging by the youth hostels, one of the very successful organisations, which are used by all ages. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Hale, on the subject of the Ramblers Association. I, too, have read the documents that that Association has sent round. I think we can well encourage and support them in every possible way in the work that they are doing. I was interested in Chapter VI of the Report, "Leisure outdoors". As we all know, the National Parks play a great part in that, and the forest trails. The noble Lord, Lord Dulverton, spoke about the Forestry Commission, and I endorse what he said. I live in the largest forest country in the whole of the United Kingdom; in fact I believe it is the largest forest country in Europe. This forest is now at last being developed for the public for recreational activities. In the Kielder Forest there is a little museum of nature study, birds, the beasts, and the trees, what I think is technically called an interpretive centre, and which is very popular indeed. There is space for parking, and for caravans; families can go there as well as individuals. In a forest near where I live there is a new picnic place which has just been opened, with the most glorious view that you ever saw. That, too, will be used by the public.

There are two other places I should like to mention. One is a small building in the Queen Elizabeth Forest in the Trossachs, called Marshall Lodge, after a Chairman of the Carnegie Trust People can go there and sit outdoors if it is fine weather, and can enjoy the view; or if it is wet, they can go inside and have a picnic indoors. There is a similar centre in Brecon near the Brecon Beacons, where similar facilities are available. I mention these two things because they have been financed by the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust as pilot projects, and are now described in the Report of the noble Viscount, Lord Cobham, as places which would fall into the "honey-pot" facilities described in paragraph 226. All these developments are quite excellent. I hope very much that they will be copied in other parts of the country. It is quite true that walking, hiking, rambling, are the most inexpensive of all these facilities, and I should like to see these developed in every possible way. In my own county we have made a study of all the rights of way and footpaths and these are now being put into maps which will be available for people, to enable them to enjoy the facilities which are provided for hiking and rambling. It is only the beginning, but I hope it will lead to further developments in other parts of Scotland and through other local authorities.

One has to remember that even the wildest land—and we have a great deal of wild land in Scotland—is now used for agricultural purposes, for grazing cattle and sheep, as well as for the sports I have mentioned. That the public can damage private property, for instance by walking with dogs that they cannot control, which roam about and disturb the sheep, or dropping the horrible litter that has been spoken of, or leaving gates open for stock to stray, annoys the farmers, and quite rightly. To prevent these things happening, membership of one or other of the recreational organisations is, in my opinion, a great safeguard; these organisations exhort their members to care for the countryside and not to make life more difficult for hill farmers and others.

In paragraph 246 the Report speaks of rationalisation of rights of way and country paths. I am sure that that is probably something which has to be looked at, but I agree that if possible we should try to do it only when necessary. I hope that if possible the old routes that have been so popular for many years and which are very often historic can be kept in the traditional way. I know it cannot always be done and I am, therefore, in favour of what the Report has said about making alterations where necessary. But I hope that in hill country, where it is really very wild, where paths have existed for years they will remain. We have a Roman road across the hills in the Border country called the Weal Causeway. It dates back, I suppose, 1,000 years, and is still available for people to walk across, although the Forestry Commission have planted up vast acres of it and it is not quite so visible as it used to be.

In the outdoor centres I spoke of at the beginning, the training and understanding of the value and importance of rural areas is part of the education of young people, and this is certainly an insurance against the abuse and misuse of the freedom for people to walk over private property without doing any damage. I have myself made an excellent arrangement with an outdoor school right next door to my own property. The children can walk all over my property, but they can do so only so long as they do not disturb the sheep and cattle, and close the gates. So far this has worked very successfully.

I support very strongly what the Report has said about the importance of the local authorities being urged to take an active part in all this recreational work. It is all very well having Government Departments—and they are important because that is where so much of the central funds come from—but it is really the local authorities who know the areas, know the people and know what is wanted. I would strongly support Lord Cobham's Report when he says that they want the local authorities and regional authorities to take the first initiatives and work to develop these activities.

I do not think I have disagreed with a single person who has spoken in this debate. This is a matter upon which both sides of the House are entirely agreed. What we want to try to do is bring about some of the changes many of us have hoped for over a great many years. I hope very much that this debate will draw the attention not only of the Government—because that we can do in Parliament—but all local authorities to what they can do to help. If that happens, Lord Cobham and this great debate will have done a splendid service, and I am glad to have been able to take part in it.

7.35 p.m.


My Lords, I rise at the end of this long debate with rather mixed feelings, with, of course, a sense of honour, which I share with all noble Lords, at taking part in a debate which was graced by that admirable speech of the noble Prince, the Prince of Wales; a sense of pride in belonging to an assembly which has produced, under the chairmanship of my noble friend Lord Cobham, such a valuable and comprehensive Report on a most important subject; but also with a sense of envy towards my successors in office as Ministers of Recreation. It is, I think, a mantle of which I wore at any rate a part for three years while I was in the Department of the Environment.

I am envious for at least five reasons. Ministers of Recreation in the future will have, as I did not have, the guidance of this admirable Report; that is, I reckon, my greatest loss. They will have, as I did not, the support of this Report in exerting the influence that a Minister of Recreation necessarily needs to wield in Whitehall, as the Committee recognise. Ministers of Recreation of the future will have a title which was not available to me, or to my successor so far, which is a much more apt description to meet a much more pressing need than any that is in use so far. I think my colleague, Mr. Eldon Griffiths, would agree—I do not know what Mr. Denis Howell will say—that being called the "Minister of Sport" is really a misnomer. The requirements of recreation are, as the Committee identified, much more pressing and require much more Ministerial influence if they are to be met effectively. My fourth point of envy is that Mr. Denis Howell, who is now doing what was my job, is getting paid more to do it. And my fifth is that while I should have spent those three years concerning myself wholly with matters of leisure, I was distracted over and over again in getting twenty-five Public Bills through your Lordships' House.

I am sure the Committee are right to say categorically, as they do in paragraphs 100 to 108, that we need a national strategy for this subject to give proper effect to it. It is certainly needed here, if it is needed anywhere, in this densely packed Island, where every patch of land and water has to be fully used, and most of what we need for recreation has to be got out of water or land which is also being used for something else. That is one reason. The other reason is because this densely packed Island is now filled almost as full as it can be, certainly in England, with people with an ever greater affluence, ever increasing mobility, and having, as a result of universal education which has now gone on up to the age of 15 or 16 since the end of the war, far greater powers of appreciation of the Arts, amenities and countryside facilities, creating a demand which has for far too long run far too far ahead of the supply of facilities to meet it.

I think, too, the Committee were right to advocate an effective regional point of focus to give effect to and implement this national strategy. I would, if he will forgive me, tease the noble Lord, Lord Redcliffe-Maud, a little in claiming that the Committee went into this matter thoroughly. My reading of paragraph 14 of their summary, and paragraphs 119 and 120, is that they used the fact that the Commission on the Constitution has not yet reported as an excuse for ducking what is undoubtedly a rather difficult issue. That is an omission that I shall seek to make good in a moment. I believe indeed that the regional offices of the Department of the Environment provide a useful point of focus.

I go on to talk hereafter about England alone, because that is the part of the Kingdom of which I know most. There is certainly no need to talk about Wales because the Prince of Wales himself did full justice to the Principality. Until the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, spoke, I was rather afraid that I should have to make some remarks about Scotland, because otherwise it would have gone totally omitted, which would have been a serious omission indeed. I could have said a little about the Borders and Kielden, but I am hoping to make good my ignorance of that area later on this year.

I believe that the regional directors of the Department of the Environment (the regional arm of the Secretary of State), properly linked, as they can easily be, with the Regional Tourist Boards, the Regional Arts Councils, the Conservancies of the Forestry Commission and the regional water authorities, who are already within the Department of the Environment, could, and should, play a significant part in making it easier, to use the Prince's phrase, for local authorities to work out together their part in the national strategy, in helping the local authorities to give effect to it, and to be instrumental in assisting them to clear the planning and financial hurdles on the way, and to put forward projects to the Secretary of State for his approval, where that is necessary.

I use the word "projects" because I would prefer to take the idea that the Committee has formulated about recreational priority areas, and proceed instead by way of a series of regional recreational projects. Not, of course, single, purpose-built complexes but integrated schemes; concepts mainly serving major metropolitan areas but incorporating a whole cluster of diverse but linked facilities—tow paths, adventure playgrounds, picnic sites, viewpoints, and all the things that we have been talking about this afternoon—provided and managed by the various levels of local government, including parishes, and by private owners.

By way of illustration I shall take just three particular projects which happen to be my personal favourites because I think that they are imaginative, serving a valuable purpose in important areas. There is the project for the reclamation of the whole of the Tame Valley where it passes across what is now Greater Manchester. This was a scheme put forward in the first instance by two counties, what were then 11 urban districts and boroughs, and in which the Civic Trust for the North-West played a major part. The Tame Valley through Greater Manchester is virtually unused and unusuable for recreation purposes. The river is polluted—that can be put right—and it is being used for tips, not all of which are properly controlled. The Bill that we have just passed will help there. It is potentially a valuable source of recreation.

Another slightly different one, but in the North of the country too, is the Pennine Park. This is a green wedge of invaluable countryside straddling the Pennines between Leeds and Manchester, the West Yorkshire metropolitan area and the Greater Manchester metropolitan area. Schemes for that have been worked out. I think they were stimulated in the first place by the Calder Civic Trust, but they have now been worked out by the old West Riding of Yorkshire and are lying waiting implementation.

The third that I would claim would qualify for this sort of accolade of a regional project would be the complete restoration of the Kennet and Avon Canal between Bath and Reading; a remainder canal passing across Berkshire, Wiltshire, and through the county of Avon. A good deal of restoration is going on under the aegis of the British Waterways Board, with the strong support of the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust and the local authorities concerned. That too could be elevated to a regional project. I would not claim that it is serving an area of great recreational need, but it is a facility which is there on the ground and is scandalously under-used.

I would claim that you could pursue six aims in any one of these or similar projects, all of which are well worth while. I believe in large schemes of this kind where a lot needs to be done, it would be one way of getting the best value for the resources deployed. It would be the most exciting way of making progress in what is undoubtedly a difficult economic climate, because it would concentrate the resources we have on a number of limited areas where we would see results. It would provide a framework of co-ordination of effort among different local authorities and between statutory and voluntary bodies. It is the difficulty of achieving this which, as much as the lack of a statutory duty and resources, has inhibited more rapid progress in this field. It would provide a vehicle for getting local publicity and consultation of an extensive kind—more extensive than we have seen hitherto—and provide an opportunity for maximising a sustained voluntary effort and self-help, and if we are short of Government finance this is one way of making progress. It would provide a chance to deploy more skilled management than any one of the separate facilities would attract if they were tackled one at a time.

Those would be my aims in proceeding in this way, and I should like to put forward for consideration four ways and means of carrying forward what we need by way of projects of this kind. First of all, we need an extension of the principle of dual provision and management—something that has been advocated from all sides of the House and which, as a Minister who served for the short period of eight months in the Department of Education, I would endorse more strongly now than I did before I joined the Department. It is particularly scandalous in the case of educational facilities, but the need for dual management for recreational purposes applies just as much to reservoirs, forests, and defence lands. We now have in the Water Act forestry policy that I hope will emerge quite soon, and in Lord Nugent's Report on defence lands, all the framework for giving effect to that policy.

Secondly, I believe that we should consider the extension of the interpretation of the word "countryside" when used by the Countryside Commission in considering what they will and will not give grant aid to, and include in that interpretation at least all Green Belt land in and around our cities. I really do not see any reason why what has been designated Green Belt to prevent development, cannot also be used to enlarge the understanding of the word "countryside" by the Countryside Commission to get positive development of recreational facilities. This would enable the Countryside Commission to take an active part—and I think that the Committee was right in discerning that they are not taking a sufficiently active part at the moment—in recreational projects in and around our big cities, and converting under-used patches of Green Belt land to receational use, and encouraging local authorities to do that with the aid of the very substantial grants that they are now in a position to give and were not at the time that the Committee was deliberating.

Thirdly, another way forward is to consider the extension of grant for reclamation of derelict land where it falls within the envelope of an area that contains an approved recreational project to cover not only reclamation and landscaping but development for recreation as well. I do not think it is right to do this generally for all reclamation of derelict land, but where the reclamation is part of a regional recreational project I think it would be appropriate to do so. I would also suggest that we should consider now—again the Committee touched on this—that these grants and all other finance of facilities in approved regional recreational projects should be made out of the key sector, because the difficulty of getting key sector finance, which applies for instance to schools, and the locally determined finance to match the right moment is really a considerable cause and an inhibiting factor. I know that there are strong arguments the other way but it should, I believe, be considered.

Finally, my Lords, in respect of this regional project approach, I think that we must use them to secure flexible but, nevertheless, precise arrangements for the management of the several facilities within each regional project, especially those involving dual use, and decentralising management in the normal course at least to districts, where possible to parishes. and also, where appropriate, to private owners, and making in that process the maximum use of management agreements to get good recreational or amenity use out of blighted or underused land which is being held for eventual development or redevelopment for some other quite different purpose. Several noble Lords said what a pity it was that we do not use for adventure playgrounds land which is being held for development but is not going to be built on for another five years.

These are all points of detail. The main point which, for me, comes out of the debate is that the Committee and the noble Viscount have done us all an admirable service in establishing—at least I hope that the noble Viscount has established—that in recreation we are not dealing with a residual service which gets what is left over only when enough schools, highways, prisons, clinics, et cetera, have been built; but a service which has its own rightful claim on our resources. If the facilities we have been speaking of are not provided, and are not provided soon enough, to match the demand for them, which is running ever further ahead of demand, we shall, I fear, continue to see even more of the pheno- menon of which we are already seeing far too much, as the noble Prince said: The excess of energy destructively released, whereas what we want to see, and can see, are the powers of appreciation, enjoyment, creativity that have been stimulated and widened by universal education in this country, now sharpened and fully satisfied far and wide across the cities and the countries of this land.

7.54 p.m.


My Lords, in winding-up the debate, by leave of the House, I intend to be brief, not because of the lateness of the hour and in no way as a reflection upon the importance of the debate, to which the noble Lord, Lord Gainford, drew our attention. But, by nature, I am one who likes to be able to reply full-face to questions and points I am ready to admit this evening that, whenever I have sought advice upon an issue, the advice I have been given has been so wrapped up that it is to me—at least a reasonably straightforward sort of fellow—hardly intelligible. I think there is a reason for that. In my earlier speech, I indicated that the Government intend to produce a White Paper. I think I am right in saying that it will be the first time a Government have ever considered that a Report of a Select Committee of your Lordships' House was worthy of a White Paper. So I hope the House will take that as a signal of the importance which the Government attach not only to the Report but to its subject matter. Quite clearly, those now seeking to formulate policy do not in any way wish to close the door to further consultation or consideration of these matters; hence the non-committed nature of the advice to me. As I indicated in my earlier speech, the debate will be taken very much into account in the various Departments concerned.

To the noble Baronesses, Lady D'Arcy de Knayth and Lady Masham of Ilion, I mention the question of the disabled, among many others. I have no doubt that this is an area that will be considered. Knowing the Minister for the Disabled and his superior, the doughty Barbara Castle, I have no doubt that those interests which have been drawn to our attention will be fully considered and, I hope, taken care of by the White Paper. If they want any other assurance, may I say that I will also take particular care, because I have no intention of coming unprepared to your Lordships and defending a White Paper against the formidable forces which I know can come into this Chamber on occasions.

I stressed earlier the economic situation and the limits which, if we are realistic, we shall need to put on development in the recreational field. I have no doubt that it is the wish of the House that the Government should seek to put the economy right, to ensure that the resources are there and to see that they are disbursed sensibly. I can only repeat what I said earlier: that the Government have no disposition to dismiss recreation as, in the words of the Select Committee, "an optional extra". Those words are there quite deliberately. In one or two strands of the debate, I noticed that in dealing with local authorities the noble Baroness from Scotland, Lady Elliot of Harwood, was perhaps closer to my view when she used the word, "urge", as opposed to those who would leave this task entirely to local authorities, and those who would seek, as in Scotland, to put a statutory duty upon local authorities to operate in this field. This is very much a matter for local authorities and they should accept the duty, not only for themselves but also for the regions around. I would therefore stress very much the need for regional co-operation. We need to have the right organisation and co-ordination, and to make use of all the resources that are available.

A good deal of work is already being done. My honourable friend the Minister of State for Sport has already invited a number of people with wide experience in recreation to be members of a Working Party to review these matters. The Working Party has given birth—if that is the right phrase—to four working groups concerned with sport, international sport, water recreation and co-ordination. My honourable friend is anxious that this particular review should be completed by the Summer Recess. My Lords, throughout the debate there has been a strong feeling that there should be a Minister for Recreation, although I think the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, perhaps because of his more recent Ministerial experience, and, if I may say so, loyalty, was not so sure.

As the Select Committee and others who have taken part in the debate have made clear, recreation and the use of leisure cover a wide range of activities other than just sport, and the Government recognise the force of the case for greater co-ordination. I am not thinking so much of the Arts and other kinds of cultural recreation which are already provided for, guarded and guided by my honourable friend the Minister for the Arts, but there is much to be said for increasing the degree of co-ordination which already exists between the Government Departments dealing with sport and other outdoor recreational activities. These cover various aspects of Government policy and extend into the interests of the various Departments. There is already some degree of co-ordination and the Government are now looking into the possibility of increasing the co-ordination and the implications of doing so. I can assure your Lordships that in this study the points made to-day will be most carefully considered.

A number of noble Lords, including the noble Lords, Lord Byers and Lord Montagu, have stressed the need for a career structure and training in recreational management. I believe that the Countryside Commission's Report includes recommendations to this effect, and the Government are at present looking at this. I understand that there are some three to four thousand places in our various institutions of higher education in the field of management, and that there are 20 places in the North London Polytechnic specifically for recreation. Facilities are also available at the Glasgow Technical College. However, this is clearly an area which we should look at quite seriously because, if we are to extract the maximum from our limited resources, management must be one of the keys.

The noble Lord, Lord Byers, raised the question of the remainder waterways. As the noble Lord knows, the British Waterways Board has a duty for recreational facilities on those canals which come into a particular category. I understand that there has been a plea that these remainder waterways should be upgraded and I can tell the noble Lord, Lord Byers, that my honourable friend, Mr. Howell, is at present studying the point but of course it is entirely a question of the resources which are available for the waterways. Here again, as we have seen with the Ashton Canal, a great deal can be done with the co-operation of the local authority and with willing volunteers to provide labour and finance.

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Salisbury is not in his place, so I think I shall write to him.

My Lords, a great deal has been said about dual use of school premises. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, that this use should not be confined to schools; the Services have facilities which could well be used and I think that we should look at all the facilities available in order to see whether we can use them. However, as the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, said, there are practical difficulties, particularly concerning managing the school facilities in the evening and during the holidays when the school staff is absent.


My Lords, with great respect to the noble Lord, I did not say anything about the difficulties. I think far too much is made of the difficulties.


My Lords, I must have assumed that the noble Lord had been thinking of the time when he was in the Department of Education, because they lay great and, I think, justifiable stress on some of the difficulties. However, these are difficulties which, in my view and speaking personally, ought to be overcome.

The noble Viscount, Lord Cobham, spoke about the need to develop the fringe areas in order to relieve the pressure on the more rural districts of our countryside. This is a matter which clearly the local authorities will have to take into account, but the noble Viscount will be aware that the Countryside Commission are examining this matter urgently. It is one in which they have a very direct interest. The noble Viscount also raised the important question of public transport for those who have no cars. Provision is made under the Local Government Act 1972, and it is open to local authorities to decide how best they can exercise the particular facilities available to them under the legislation.

The noble Lord, Lord Hale, and I think also the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot, dealt with the question of foot- paths and bridleways. This is a matter which, clearly, causes friction between the public and those who have interests in the land. Some of this can of course be dealt with through education and through the setting of an example, in particular by older people to their children; but the Government believe that the Committee is right to concentrate on the scope for revising the pattern of paths in areas where this can be done with benefit both to amenity and to the farming interests.

My Lords, other matters have been raised in this debate. I think of my noble friend Lord Greenwood and of the noble Lord, Lord Redcliffe-Maud. I have dealt with some of the points which they have raised. I was particularly interested in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, about the acceptability of risk in one particular field of recreation in which I think he still has an interest. I have always been a little worried about youngsters going up into the mountains and hills of this country, because the weather changes very quickly and what may appear to be safe at the moment of going out can turn into quite a dangerous position. I think that this is very much a question of training and also of having back-up facilities if there should be an accident. I think that we should accept the risk but should seek to minimise it. There are many other facilities. I think of swimming pools in particular and here I think one should, as one can, eliminate almost all the risk, by ensuring that staff are present at the pools to see that the risks are diminished as far as is humanly possible.

My Lords, I hope that the noble Viscount feels that his debate has been worth while. From the Government's point of view it has certainly been so, and we shall study with the greatest care all that has been said. I hope that when our White Paper comes out it will receive the same acclaim as has the speech of the noble Prince this afternoon and that from that White Paper we can consider ways and means of implementing the noble Viscount's proposals.


Before the Minister sits down, could he give me one crumb of comfort? I was the only one who mentioned the 2½ million people in the movement and music section, and I asked that they should be included in the White Paper. I feel that if I do not get that point in now it will not happen.


My Lords, I am glad that my noble friend reminded me of that point because if she had not done so she would have been cross with me for a long time. When I met the representatives of the Central Council for Physical Recreation last week, the case which the noble Baroness put was made with perhaps not quite the same force but with the same clarity. I naturally undertake that this will be considered, because clearly this is a form of recreation which is enjoyed in this country by many thousands of people of all ages. If that is a form of recreation which people like, and if there are the funds available, then clearly it is a form of recreation that should be considered and supported.

8.10 p.m.


My Lords, I rise to offer belated, indeed terminal, congratulations to the noble Prince on his wise and witty speech. After listening to him, my only regret is that his multifarious public duties prevented his becoming a very valuable member of our Select Committee some two years ago. I indeed welcome the assurance of the noble Lord the Leader of the House that the Government propose to issue a White Paper; and I think this whole subject has been dealt with by the noble Lord with great care and in considerable detail. I hope he will not think me churlish if I stress once more what I consider to be the terrible urgency of the matter if we are not to lose the momentum engendered by the publication of the Select Committee's Report. It has aroused interest at the moment among local authorities and elsewhere, but I think that interest can easily die away again, perhaps never to be resuscitated; so we must seize this moment and go ahead. I assure your Lordships that the wiring is all there: all that is needed now is the electricity. My Lords, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.