HL Deb 18 January 1978 vol 388 cc101-96

2.57 p.m.

Baroness YOUNG rose to call attention to the Wolfenden Report on the future of voluntary organisations; and to move for Papers. The noble Baroness said: My Lords, barely two months have elapsed since the publication of the report by the noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden, on the future of voluntary organisations. However, I make no apology for introducing the debate upon it today. The report is of immediate interest to thousands of people engaged in voluntary organisations, and I welcome it because it provides a platform for the discussion of the positive role of voluntary organisations in our society and seeks to establish them as equal partners with the statutory social services, thus giving to the consumer an element of choice.

I am delighted that the noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden, should be speaking today and that there should be two maiden speakers. We shall look forward very much to hearing from the noble Viscount, Lord Knutsford, who I believe has done a great deal of work for the Queen Elizabeth Foundation for the Disabled, and also from the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Truro. The report is also of great interest to my own political Party and is being studied by my honourable friend in another place, Mrs. Lynda Chalker, who has done so much valuable work with voluntary organisations. It is more than appropriate that this debate takes place almost exactly 10 years after the publication of the report of the noble Lord, Lord Seebohm, on the reorganisation of the personal social services. If I may, I shall quote just one sentence from that report. It says: the mobilisation of community resources, especially volunteers, to meet need are as important aspects of the administration of the social services department—and demand as much skill—as its internal management".

The subject of voluntary organisations is large, diverse and detailed. In 1970 there were 76,000 charities registered with the Charity Commission and that number had grown to 123,000 by 1976. Of those registered in 1970 only 3 per cent. had an annual income of more than £10,000. The noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden, and his Committee found that each year about 5 million people undertake voluntary work of some sort, doing approximately 16 million hours of work a week. Encouragingly, the proportion of people aged between 16 and 24 is now as high as that in the older age groups. Indeed, if we look at just some of the modern problems that confront us this very year we see what a tremendous contribution voluntary organisations make. For example, the Salvation Army provides over 6,000 beds in over 40 hostels for men in Britain and is the largest provider of accommodation for the single homeless in this country. A third of the 12,000 job creation projects approved by the Manpower Services Commission originated from voluntary organisations. Over 60 per cent. of the Meals-on-Wheels in this country are served by the WRVS. So on three major social problems—the homeless, the unemployed and the elderly—a major contribution is currently being made by voluntary organisations.

I should like to say—particularly in view of the fact that the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Truro is speaking—that yesterday when I was in Cornwall I saw one of the best examples of the co-operation between the statutory services and the voluntary organisations in a day centre developed in Newquay; the money for that centre has been raised by voluntary organisations and it is now being run by the statutory services. It sets an excellent example that many could follow.

Not surprisingly the noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden, and his Committee limited their deliberations to the personal social services and some environmental services. Nor did they trespass on ground already covered by the report of the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, on Charities or on the Ayes Report on Volunteers. None the less, I am sure that this report will come to be regarded as a text book for those who want to know the part voluntary organisations play in society today.

In particular Chapter 3 sets out the principles governing the work of voluntary organisations and their relationship with the statutory services. I am sure that it must gladden the heart of anyone involved in voluntary organisations to read the first conclusion on page 59 of the report, which says: Whether measured by man-hours or by expenditure, in the fields with which we are concerned the voluntary sector is much smaller than the statutory, except in the personal social services where, taking the efforts of voluntary and paid workers together, the input of the voluntary sector is the greater".

Equally important I believe is the philosophical principle of pluralism, which is clearly stated at the end of Chapter 2. At a time when many people believe that many institutions are too large and too remote, the voluntary system enables thousands to participate usefully in organisations of a size which they can understand, to become a real part of the decision making process, and thus to be a part of a real devolution of power to the people.

In stating these principles the report makes it clear that voluntary organisations are an essential part of our national life; not something to be used in bad economic times as a cheap form of labour; but something of equal value all the time. I shall listen with great interest to what the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, has to say when he winds up this debate. It is important to know whether the Government will take up the challenge of the Wolfenden Report, take the initiative and work out what is described in the last chapter as a collaborative social plan which will make the optimum and maximum use of our resources".

Again on page 74 there is the important sentence: What we are proposing is the development of a new long-term strategy, by a new examination of the potential contributions of the statutory, voluntary and informal sectors, and their inter-relationship".

I very much hope that we shall hear how the Government intend to act upon that.

If I have a criticism—and, after all, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden, will recognise that this is very much a debate among friends—it is that the report does not make enough definite proposals for the future. The last chapter, entitled "Final Reflections", suggests that. I can well understand that the Committee would not want to lay down a detailed blueprint for so many highly individual organisations, and indeed could well have been resented if it had. But surely a summary of some of the general conclusions and recommendations would have been helpful.

Perhaps I could give two examples of that. Much of Chapter 4 is devoted to the rôle of the Voluntary Services Unit, at present in the Home Office; and the Government evidence, which is most interesting, is set out fully in Appendix 4. The Voluntary Services Unit fulfils many useful functions but may broadly be said to be the focal point for all the Government interests in voluntary organisations, which include three Departments of State as well as the Home Office—that is, the Department of the Environment, the Department of Health and Social Security and the Department of Education and Science.

The question to be asked is whether or not the Home Office is the right place for the Voluntary Services Unit, or whether the Voluntary Services Unit ought perhaps to go back to the Civil Service Department where it could be argued that there might be a Minister who would not have a particular departmental commitment to any one of the voluntary organisations. Furthermore, if voluntary organisations are to have an equal voice with the statutory services, again it is arguable that someone of Cabinet rank should speak for them. May I say at once that in saying that I mean no reflection at all upon the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich. But tucked away on page 72 I think that the report says this: It therefore seems to us that a Minister with no departmental interests would be in the best position to suggest an appropriate allocation of responsibility without being accused of undue bias, and that to have sufficient authority to press his suggestions he must be of Cabinet rank".

If that is the belief of the Committee—and I think it is—why not say so in a summary of recommendations? I very much hope that this is a matter which will receive serious consideration from the Government. It is one that is of importance and it is one that has the support of my noble friend Lord Windlesham, who devotes some part of his book to it.

Again, tucked away on page 183, the report says: The voluntary sector lacks the wealth of statistics that measure the activities of the statutory sector".

This is one of those splendid understatements that make those of us who struggle to understand the world of voluntary organisation, particularly of finance, feel rather like that wonderful poem about Matilda that: One should gasp and stretch one's eyes".

However, in Appendix 6E various ways are suggested by which the collection of data and statistics could well be improved. Why not, after all, include questions about voluntary organisations and voluntary giving in the general household survey or in the next Census? If that is right, why not recommend it firmly and take up the other suggestions that are made?

That brings me to the whole question of finance. If the pluralistic society is to survive—which means it is essential that the independent sector remains independent—it must have its own source of money. If voluntary organisations entirely accept State finance, then they will be obliged to follow the fashion, and I believe will lose many of their present valuable functions and characteristics.

The report sets out in Chapter 9, and in very considerable and interesting detail in Appendices 6A—D, many important figures about the financing of voluntary organisations. The Committee estimate that the total income in 1975 was £1,000 million. One appreciates the difficulties that they have had in arriving at that particular calculation. There are questions that I should like to ask about it, but I do not think that this is the occasion on which to do so. But if one accepts that as their figure, about a half came from donations from individuals, companies and trusts; the remainder from charges, rent, investment and Government grant. The report makes clear that the voluntary income declines slightly between 1974–75, which is not altogether surprising, and concurrently the grants from the Government increased. What is disappointing is the conclusion at the end of Chapter 9 that in the future there will have to be greater reliance on Government funding and that we cannot expect a great increase from the voluntary side. I hope that that is not so.

The report of the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, made a number of recommendations on how private funding to charities might be increased. I am not at all sure on looking at those that I agree with the conclusions, drawn from those proposals, reached by the noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden, and his Committee. His report does not consider at all whether private donations would be increased by allowing tax rebates in the higher tax brackets than rather simply at the basic rate. Yet more giving by companies and corporations ought surely to be encouraged.

Perhaps I might add in parenthesis the importance of the new "Motability" Scheme—a scheme devised largely by the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, and financed by private corporations—which will help disabled drivers to lease cars and, therefore, to be in a much better position than they would be if they were entirely dependent upon the disabled person's allowance. This indicates one way in which private giving can supplement the statutory provision for the disabled. I think it is a pattern that could well be copied.

There were many other proposals from the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, among which was that suggestion of reducing the seven year covenant period to four years. I recognise that there are arguments both for and against this proposal, but not to consider it and not to suggest that this is something which could encourage more voluntary giving is a policy of defeat which for one, would not accept. Perhaps I am being unfair, but it is such an important proposal and it seems to me to require further consideration.

There are many other points I should like to make, but I want to leave time this afternoon for the many distinguished speakers who wish to follow me. I wish that the report could have said something more about self-help groups, about the whole important world of community relations councils and all they do, and about the vast informal care network. I am one of those who is enormously interested in family policy, and I think it no exaggeration for the family rightly to be called the biggest voluntary organisation of all. Recently published figures show that even now the proportion of the elderly cared for by their families is greater than before the First World War, when so many of the old were in fact in Poor Law institutions. These figures, taken together with those in the report of the noble Lord, must give us all encouragement about the strength of our society and of the individuals within it.

I do not want to conclude on anything other than an optimistic note. This report must be the starting place for the consideration of voluntary organisations over the next 25 years. Not only do I hope that the Government will follow up the proposals to which I have already referred but I hope to see further development of the important proposal for local intermediary bodies, their suggested functions of development, the co-ordinating of fund raising and the partnership with local authorities, which are invaluable suggestions. I believe that they need a lot of detailed work, which I hope will be taking place now, with the local authority associations to see how they can best be worked out. Furthermore, I hope that forthwith a look will be taken at the training courses for administration and for professional social workers so that all courses will include something about voluntary organisations and making the best use of volunteers, so that we may get this proper partnership between the statutory services and the voluntary organisations.

Let us use this debate today as a starting point. The report indicates so many lines on which we should be going, and I hope that many constructive ideas will follow today. The future of the voluntary organisations is a matter of importance not only for the individuals who take part in them, for the large number of consumers who benefit, but for the good of the country as a whole. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.

3.13 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure that the whole House will be grateful to the noble Baroness for providing us with the opportunity to debate this report so soon after its publication, and also for opening this debate with so comprehensive and interesting a speech. We should be grateful also to the Joseph Rowntree Memorial Trust and the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust who commissioned the report in the first place. As the noble Baroness said, we shall look forward to hearing the noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden, later in the debate, and also to hearing the two maiden speakers.

I read the report with great interest. The noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden, and his colleagues have provided us with a comprehensive guide to the functioning of voluntary organisations in the area of the personal social services and the environment and that, in itself, is useful. The interaction of the statutory and voluntary sectors is carefully examined and the report provides a most valuable commentary on it. It is, as the noble Baroness, Lady Young, suggested perhaps rather short on proposals for the future, and somewhat tentative about those it does make, and this has perhaps caused a little disappointment in some circles. But I imagine all will agree with the report when it speaks of the vital contribution which the voluntary organisations are making to the pluralistic system of social provision.

The report finds the voluntary sector in a healthy condition, and that is encouraging, and I am glad that it stresses the importance of the voluntary sector retaining its independence and its spontaneity. The fullest co-operation between the statutory and voluntary sectors is clearly desirable, and the report lays stress on the important role of intermediary bodies at national level and local level—intermediary bodies of both a general and a specialist nature. Of course voluntary organisations deal direct with Government Departments and with local authorities, but intermediary bodies have an important function of co-ordination, representation, support and development to perform. The report emphasises the role of councils of voluntary service and rural community councils, particularly in identifying unmet needs and areas for new development. There is sometimes a danger that these bodies may become a trifle remote from the grass roots, and this has to he guarded against.

I support the suggestion in the report that there should be some central funding for intermediary bodies in urban areas, principally councils of voluntary service, on the lines of that provided for rural community councils in England by the development commission. I am less sure about the suggestion that the standing conferences of the councils of voluntary service and the rural community councils should no longer be serviced by the community work division of the National Council of Social Service. Another, and separate, entity at national level seems to be unnecessary fragmentation and there does seem to be a logical link between the standing conferences and the national council.

The report raises the question of where the boundary between the statutory and the voluntary sectors should lie. It clearly expects that the dominant position occupied by the statutory sector will continue, but it asks whether this should be allowed to grow. I do not think we can be doctrinaire about that. I do not think we can say that the statutory sector has come so far but it must go no further. The statutory sector may well take over certain services which are at present provided on a voluntary basis because, after all, one characteristic of the voluntary sector is to pioneer services which are eventually taken over by the statutory bodies.

Another and developing characteristic is to bring pressure to bear on the statutory sector to extend its area of operation, so I think we may look forward to growth in both these sectors in the course of time. I think that the voluntary sector has a duty to the client to guide him through the maze of statutory provisions, and I agree with the Association of Directors of Social Services, which is mentioned in the report, that we do not want the voluntary sector to become a parallel bureaucracy. The growth during the 1960s of new style voluntary organisations like Shelter and the Child Poverty Action Group was in some ways a criticism of the established older organisations which were thought not to be doing enough and to be doing it in too conformist a way.

The report draws attention, as the noble Baroness made clear, to the decline in income in the voluntary sector from donations and fund raising, and it declares that more statutory funding is required. I agree that more statutory funding is required, but I do not think that we should take a defeatist attitude to fund raising. After all—and here again I agree with the noble Baroness—the independence and spontaneity of the voluntary organisations are dependent on fund raising and the degree to which they are able to make it a success. We should not despise the activity of the fund raiser. There is perhaps just a suggestion in the report that time spent on fund raising is time wasted, but those who want to do that particular work would not necessarily be providing services if they were not so engaged. This is a way in which they can be associated with the work, and the number of people involved could be extended.

We cannot over-emphasise the importance of the additional funds raised when there are strict limits on Government spending, or of the additional work which is carried out as a result of raising those funds. For example, Help the Aged reports that in a large town in eastern England a general hospital with what is described as a splendid geriatric team badly needed a rehabilitation unit to add to its geriatric ward; all the rehabilitation in the hospital has to take place in a small day hospital where only 20 patients can be accommodated at a time. There were no statutory funds to provide the much-needed rehabilitation facilities. Help the Aged has raised sufficient money to build and equip a large rehabilitation unit which will accommodate 50 in-patients and 70 out-patients and, when completed, this unit will be the responsibility of the regional health authority. In other words, the statutory sector is benefiting directly from the fund raising activity in the voluntary sector.

I agree that the Government should give careful consideration to ways of encouraging fund raising. It might be done by offering to match voluntary contributions pound for pound for specific projects, as is done in the case of overseas aid, or it might be done by tax concessions as recommended by the Goodman Committee on Charity Law, to which reference has already been made. If all gifts to charity were tax deductible, many people who are not used to the idea of covenanting might be appealed to with success.

Moving away from fund raising, I wish to refer to three matters affecting voluntary organisations which are dealt with in the report. First, there is the need to avoid overlapping in the voluntary sector: a balance must be maintained between the maximum choice on the one hand and the avoidance of waste and needless duplication on the other. In some areas, there seems to be a proliferation of organisations with very similar aims.

Secondly, there is the need to give consideration to client satisfaction. On page 156 of the report, the authors say they feel that this is not always sufficiently considered, and of course client satisfaction is linked to the need to provide for client participation, and I wish that theme had had wider treatment in the report. Today's self-help and mutual help movement is an implicit criticism that existing bodies are not always sufficiently in touch with the grass roots. Thirdly, there is a suggestion that every voluntary organisation should apply a five-year review to itself when it would take stock of what it was doing and whether it was using its resources in the most useful and effective way possible.

The noble Baroness referred to the Voluntary Service Unit and the question as to where it should be placed within the Government machine. The report is clear that it should remain within the Government machine and not become a statutory body. But should it remain within a spending Department—at present it is the Home Office—and should it have a Minister at Cabinet level with no Departmental responsibilities? I am well aware that, if every interest which felt it should have its affairs looked after by a Cabinet Minister devoid of other responsibilities got its way, the Cabinet would have as many members as your Lordships' House. However, I should be interested to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, when he replies, what the Government say to the criticism that the Voluntary Service Unit itself should be independent of any spending Department.

The report appeals to the Government, as the central strategic makers of social policy, urgently to take the initiative in working out with the variety of agencies a collaborative social plan, a plan which will make the optimum and maximum use of resources. What is the Government response to that? The report makes no attempt to offer any guidance as to the outline of such a plan and that is perhaps a pity. It would have to be, as the report hints, something in the nature of a set of guidelines and goals together with a forecast. It could not be a rigid, detailed blueprint but, if rightly conceived, it would indicate the hoped for lines of development, the aids to be provided to that end and the undoubtedly large and growing part to be played by the voluntary sector.

3.26 p.m.


My Lords, when I looked at the list of speakers today I was a little disconcerted to find my name near the top as I am proposing to talk about only two of the many issues covered by this wide-ranging report. However, as the two previous speakers have managed between them to touch on nearly all the points I had intended to raise, I realise that if my name had come much lower down I should have had nothing to say at all.

In view of the comments about the jargon of the social scientists, which I have made on an earlier occasion on this House, I wish to say in adding my welcome to this report what a pleasure it is to have a document on social issues which is so easy to read. This is hardly surprising in the report of a Committee chaired by the noble Lord; it is none the less very acceptable and worthy of comment. I had to look up one or two words in the dictionary but, as not always happens on these occasions, I actually found them there.

The noble Lord knows me too well to think that I shall go on to hand out unmitigated praise for the report. I wish to express my uneasiness about the point to which both the noble Baroness, Lady Young, and the noble Lord, Lord Banks, referred, namely the suggestion tucked away in the body of the report about the Voluntary Service Unit and the proposal that it should be taken from the Home Office and put under the control of a Cabinet Minister without Departmental responsibility.

I have read in this context the interesting views which the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, expressed in his book, Politics in Practice, to which the noble Baroness referred, but I should like to make a comment myself. I am not stating that the Home Office is necessarily the right Department, although it probably is. However, in my experience, it is wise to hesitate for a very long time indeed before settling on a form of organisation which involves a Minister without Portfolio and therefore without the backing of a large Department taking responsibility on a long-term basis for a piece of executive Government machinery.

But enough of that, my Lords. My main purpose in speaking very briefly today is to make two points about money. As I see the noble Lord, Lord Roll of Ipsden, looking rather severely in my direction, perhaps I ought to say that, in this context, I am in no sense speaking as a former Treasury official. Indeed, it will soon become clear that my views are not likely to make any immediate appeal to that great Department.

I see no reason to question the Committee's assumptions (which I hope I am summarising fairly) that the next 25 years are unlikely to see public expenditure on social and environmental services growing as fast as it has done in the last 25 years; that, at the same time, it is unlikely that there will be any lessening in the rate at which additional services will be expected; and that the strategy governing the long-term relationship between Government and the voluntary sector in the supply of those services is therefore ripe for a new examination.

It seems to me that, in the kind of future envisaged by the Committee, more will have to be done if the resources of voluntary organisations at the local level are to be fully mobilised; and I go along with the Committee when they identify as having a key role in bringing this about the entities which they describe as "intermediary bodies", or, to give flesh and blood to what is a slightly for bidding phrase, local bodies such as Councils for Voluntary Services and Rural Community Councils. One sees the role of these intermediary bodies, national as well as local, as being crucial in a number of ways—as has just been said, in identifying needs which are not being met and in trying to see that they are met; in providing services, such as training, for other organisations; and in articulating views and, perhaps, exerting pressure for change. But the trouble is that these are functions which do not have very much popular appeal. The public, very naturally, prefers to give its money to bodies which directly help individuals, rather than to organisations in the background which help to provide the means to achieve this end. So money will have to be found, in part, elsewhere.

I do not think for a moment that it is necessary to attempt to lay down any strict hierarchial structure, or to provide for relationships with central or local government, on one universal and unvaried pattern; but I think that, at the end of the day, so far as money is concerned, central Government is bound to be involved. I am not here talking of very large sums. The calculations made by the Committee, to which reference has been made, showed that, in the personal social service and environmental fields, the total income of the voluntary organisations in 1976–77 came to around £1,000 million. (Incidentally, I suppose I shall, with great reluctance, have to get used to calling this a billion, but I leave that on one side). Then they totted up the grants from central Government to a very much more modest total—between £35 million and £36 million. No one is urging a dramatic increase in this latter figure, but there is a pretty powerful case for some further help from Government sources if the notion of partnership between Government and the voluntary bodies is to be made more effective and if, in particular, these intermediary bodies, like Councils of Voluntary Services, are not to be further racked by financial hardship in such a way as to handicap the momentum which they are able to provide to the development of the voluntary sector as a whole. On the arguments put forward in the Committee's report, which carry a good deal of conviction, there is reason for supposing that central Government would in the end find it a pretty good bargain.

Nothing in what I have been saying would in any way diminish the importance, or independence, of the voluntary organisations which raise their own funds to provide services which simply would not be there if those who needed them had to rely solely on national or local government sources. This leads me to my second main point, reinforcing what the previous speakers have already said. I would put in a plea that the issues raised by the Goodman Committee Report on Charity Law about possible fiscal concessions for giving to charity should not be overlooked in the present discussions. I myself attach rather more significance to such concessions than perhaps the Wolfenden Committee were inclined to do. They might not make such a vast difference to the problem of financing the voluntary sector taken as a whole, but they would make a great difference to individual organisations, like Help the Aged, to which the noble Lord, Lord Banks, referred, which depend directly on charitable giving.

For example, I think that there are quite persuasive arguments for altering the present somewhat illogical arrangements for these seven-year covenants entered into by individuals, leaving aside for a moment the question whether seven years is the right period. One possibility might be to permit covenanted donations to be allowable against the higher rates of income tax, subject, perhaps, to a maximum limit. Then, although I personally doubt if the tax-deductible system in other countries would fit our circumstances just as it stands, perhaps some thought could be given to permitting individuals an allowance of tax, up to a reasonable amount, for uncovenanted donations supported by receipts. Similarly, there is perhaps a case for enabling companies to give uncovenanted donations allowable for tax up to a limited percentage of profits, so that in a particularly prosperous year there could be more charitable giving. These are just one or two thoughts about possible steps which might be taken to encourage further giving, but my main purpose is to underline the desirability of looking afresh, following both the Goodman and the Wolfenden Committee reports, at the whole system of tax concessions to charities in the light of current economic conditions and changes in the distribution of wealth.

As we discuss these issues today, I cannot help thinking back to the days when the Beveridge Report was being implemented. It seemed to me then, as it seemed to some others, that, with the Welfare State about to take care of us from the cradle to the grave, it was a bit dubious what role would be left for voluntary effort: perhaps the various charitable bodies would simply wither away. I have known for a long time now how wrong we were, but the Wolfenden Committee report has, if I may say so, performed a special service in bringing out so vividly both the vitality of the voluntary sector today and also its opportunities for a future of even greater value to the community.

3.40 p.m.


My Lords, I, too, should like immediately to thank the noble Baroness for raising this issue and commenting so excellently upon the report which promotes this discussion. I think it is a most important document. It is comprehensive in its analysis, and if, as the noble Baroness rather suggested, it is stronger on diagnosis than prognosis, it is nevertheless the kind of document upon which any future programme must be founded if it is to be effective. I cannot fault this document in any way in the overall sense it gives of the problem it discusses.

Perhaps the most significant part of the report is what is concealed, almost, within its pages but is explicit in the total impact it makes. The voluntary services are indispensable. They may have to be modified; they are modifying, but as part of a civilised community they are inseparable from the good life which is to be enjoyed by its majority of subjects. In one place—and I join with the noble Lord who has just sat down—I found it an agreeable document to read. On page 191 it gave specific encouragement to the permanence of the voluntary associations because it bids us to be "eternally vigilant". I found that comforting, for it sets the whole business within the frame of immortality, and I feel that is not by any means an over-statement.

I entered this kind of work ecclesiastically many years ago, and I will not dilate upon the ecclesiastical associations of voluntary work, because two of my ecclesiastical friends will no doubt be able to do that very much better than I can. Within the 52 years in which I have been engaged in voluntary work I have noticed two specific changes that have taken place. They are referred to among others, but inasmuch as they come within my own personal experience I should like to select them and say something about them because on these two changes I believe the prospects for voluntary associations and services must depend.

Obviously within the framework of the Church a great many of the voluntary associations with which I have been concerned are in themselves concerned with the souls of men as well as their bodies, and in some cases in the past the condition of physical welfare has been associated with the prospect of conversion. Indeed there is a great deal to be said for the kind of voluntary service which springs from a deep sense of religious conviction. But over the last 50 years there has been a progressive change towards a more secular attitude to voluntary work and the welfare of the community. This change has taken place not only because there has been a diminution in religious fervour but because, partly through that religious fervour, there has been an access of recognition that we live in a world in which we have an obligation to care for those who are under-privileged. That sense of obligation has taken very practical forms and has energised many of the more narrowly based evangelical as well as philanthropic institutions in which I began more than 50 years ago.

This is a changeover from a more or less (in the Church at least) evangelically based kind of social work to the social work which does not depend on a religious faith in the first sense but on the conviction that we are members one of another and it is our responsibility to care for one another. That is an immeasurable advantage though it carries with it certain objections or limitations, perhaps in a lack of fervour or personal dedication. Nevertheless, it is change which is unmistakable.

The other great change is the emergence of the Welfare State—an institution which in my judgment is the most Christian thing which has happened in my lifetime, although with many imperfections, with much that still needs to be done. But for the first time it sets the voluntary organisations within an organised alternative; and therefore, in any attempt to look forward to the kind of world in which the voluntary associations of today are going to have a viable future, I believe it is necessary in all cases to see them in context with the Welfare State.

It is upon three aspects of that voluntary association within the Welfare State that I am going to delay your Lordships now. If there is one supreme justification for a voluntary association, a voluntary piece of social service, it is that in so many respects it can be a pioneer effort, a pathway trodden by individuals which later can become a broad highway of civic responsibility. May I give two illustrations? The first crèche ever to be established in London was set up in the West London Mission in 1875 by a group of evangelically minded Methodists. Out of that voluntary innovation has come a system of civic crèches which is part and parcel of the intelligent and civilised responsibility of local authorities today all over London, and indeed England. Those who belong to the voluntary communities have, under the sense of direction and vocation, this opportunity of beginning things which later on can be taken over, and sometimes vastly improved, by public expenditure and public responsibility.

Also, not only can they become pioneers for those jobs which are necessary but they can much more quickly and effectively stop doing those things which are not. Some 15 years ago, in association with the Council for the Unmarried Mother and her Child, I felt it desirable to set up a home for pregnant girls who were no longer tolerated in the homes from which they had come, who were bereft of counsel and help and in great desperation in the social climate which, 15 years ago, was very different from today's. For a time that house was filled. It is somewhat disagreeable but nevertheless true to say that such a house is no longer required. The social climate is so changed that the girl who once was turned out of the front door into the snow, so to speak, is no longer regarded with the same repugnance; and that innovation which at the time was merited and worth while has now become redundant.

Furthermore, pioneering in the field of alcoholism, of which I have some knowledge, provides a further illustration of this truth. We in the voluntary sector have learnt a great deal which, in the awakened sense of need that is represented by the Government in their various statements of recent days, I believe is now going to be implemented. I think it is not out of place if I remind myself that when we began we pioneered with drugs, which I knew nothing about but which were calculated to improve the drunkard and to give the alcoholic a sense of such repugnance for alcohol that he would soon be able to emancipate himself from the scourge of intemperance. It did not work that way at all. We have discovered a kind of three-stage care of the alcoholic whereby he is first, so to speak, "dried out" and thereafter is set within a new environment in which he can be partially rehabilitated, and finally set within the framework of some sort of protected housing wherein he is safe from a relapse so long as he has that measure of protection. I offer this as part of the development of a voluntary approach to the problem of alcoholism, necessary now for any civilised and corporate attempt to deal with this growing and very serious menace.

In the second place, I believe that there must in the foreseeable future be a marriage between voluntary associations and the State, whether represented by central Government or by local authorities. There are many ways in which this is desirable; there are some in which it is imperative. So long as human beings have a measure of what is not entirely sinful pride there will be a marked difference between that which they regard as something given to them by the State and something offered to them in affection by their fellow creatures. It is an unreal division, but we are not very rational animals and, because of a lack of that kind of perception, we have no right to impose all kinds of hardships on people who could be much helped if they believed that the kind of assistance which they are given the opportunity of receiving is that kind of assistance which does not carry with it this stain of what they call charity. It is in this regard that the marriage of the voluntary associations with the statutory obligations is, I think, a way forward. Although I, personally, did not find as much encouragement in the pluralistic argument, for it seemed to me that only in the rarest of cases was there much option, I believe, as a Socialist, that one of the answers to those who would regard Socialism as a totalitarian, disciplinarian régime, is that the more the work of social amenity, the work of social redemption, can be carried on as a marriage between those organised as a community to do it and those who voluntarily seek to do it as their contribution to that community, the more it is infinitely worth while.

There is one other remark to be made about that. It is that there is a reservoir of volunteer work within the voluntary organisations. I would commend to your Lordships the immense advantage of having a voluntary association or voluntary work such as this in direct touch with fellowships, religious or otherwise; and here I find an exact reference. I am the superintendent of a Methodist mission and I am also the chairman of Shelter. I find that one of the differences between those two vocations is that, with regard to the superintendency, there is a well of good intention and of possible help which is something to counteract the increasing division that has set its mark on our social conditions, particularly with regard to the family.

On page 189 of the report, the compilers venture into a Christmas carol and invite us to believe that Good King Wenceslas invited those who subscribed to his views to a heaven of blessings. I do not think that the compilers of this report can have been singing that carol. It has nothing to do with heaven; it has much more to do with the almost contractual value of doing good to others: They who first will bless the poor shall themselves find blessing". That is how the carol runs. I believe there is a vast opportunity today for people to see that, alongside the Welfare State, there is the opportunity of benefiting themselves by involving themselves much more radically in the world of other people's troubles.

There is a final point. It is set within the pages of this report that small is beautiful, as in some respects it is, and that the voluntary organisations are likely to cover the needs of the one sheep when the nine and ninety are being cared for elsewhere. Some years ago when I was in Leningrad, I had the opportunity of an interview with the social services, so called, of that great city. In the course of the conversation I asked what they did about enuretics—surely the most lamentable outcasts in our community. There are not many of them; but it is almost intolerable to have them in hostels. They are as pariah-like as the confirmed spirit drinker.

I shall never forget the reply of that well-intentioned commissar, or whatever he was, who said that there are very few of them and they could not take them into account. That may be so. It may have been remedied since. But one of the great opportunities of the voluntary organisations is to distinguish between the quality and quantity of social deprivation. If 1,000 people have toothache, then the pain is not 1,000 times greater than the pain of one sufferer. In one sense, the extent of a public injury to the welfare of the community is larger than that confined to the individual but if I may say so in theological terms, or in moral terms, I believe that the one who suffers is as precious, or should be as precious, in the community's sight as the 1,000. It is one of the supreme arguments for the voluntary services that it can personally and individually seek out those who are in need, for their need is qualitatively as great as of those in thousands and tens of thousands who are deprived.

Two very simple final words. We want more money. I was delighted to hear some of the suggestions offered about how we might get it. A great many of the organisations for which I am responsible and of which I have knowledge are themselves in grave financial difficulty. I hope that the Minister will help us. We shall offer in return what I believe is his right and certain due. Many voluntary organisations are inefficient and [...]ll-equipped; there is too much emotion, sometimes, and not enough common sense. For that reason, I believe that it would be only right for the voluntary associations to accept a far greater measure of discipline, discipline in technical matters, discipline in the quality of service. I believe that they are required and would immeasurably help the voluntary services to do a far better job than they are now doing; but that they must continue so to work is, I believe, part of the civilised society. It is for that reason that I once again am particularly glad that the noble Baroness has brought this to occur minds today.

3.56 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of SAINT ALBANS

My Lords, I join in welcoming this report, the clarity of its analysis in a complex field and the wide debate already so ably started by the noble Baroness and the speakers who have preceded me. I look forward to the maiden speeches of my Hertfordshire neighbour, the noble Viscount, Lord Knutsford, and of my ecclesiastical neighbour, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Truro. In 1973, the late Richard Crossman delivered the Sidney Ball Memorial Lecture at Oxford on the Role of the Volunteer in the Modern Social Services. It does not get a mention in the bibliography of this report, but it argued the case of the report with some passion and the liveliness of indiscreet illustration. He said: Our country will only recover from its social sickness by giving the suppressed altruism, not of a privileged few but of millions, the means of continuous expression in community service". It was a forthright plea that we should cease to regard self-interest as the sole driving dynamic of our society. The report is tidier and more responsible than that lecture but I suggest that its understandable desire to reduce the question to manageable proportions inevitably prompts the critic to focus on the gaps.

My Lords, I wish to draw your Lordships' attention to two of them, the first briefly, the second in a more substantial way. The report pays surprisingly little attention to the question of handling and directing the enormous increase in volunteers that are around today. Ten years ago there were 10 volunteer bureaux. Now, I am told, there are something like 180. Volunteer recruitment programmes on radio and television are a phenomenon of our times. I instance Granada's "Reports Action "and Capital Radio's "Helpline" which bring into relationship need and volunteer in ways that may not fit into existing patterns. They may sometimes raise anxiety about expectations and adequate back-up to handle the response locally or individually; but the mixture of social, consumer, environmental and disability issues produces a rich bundle of human experience for mutual and self-help which illustrates the difficulty of labelling and the possibilities of reciprocal exchange of caring. Those who criticise television for its trivialising should not react grudgingly when it attempts to break new ground with programmes which say, "Get up, switch off, go out and do something!" I hope that the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association will give this due credit.

My second and more substantial concern is to question with due modesty the report's wisdom in excluding the Church from their definition of a voluntary organisation. I remember that one of Richard Crossman's illustrations was of the social work of the Church in the Netherlands in integrating with Government funding their Indonesian immigrants after the war.

When the sociologist Leslie Paul produced a critical report on the Church of England in the 1960s, he was nevertheless able to say some encouraging things. For instance, that it was the largest organiser of youth in the country—a point taken by the Albemarle Report on the Youth Services. Sometimes the Church is concerned, and rightly, at its falling membership, but Dr. Paul reminded us that the Church of England is a larger group than any other organisation which depends for its existence on the regular attendance of its members at a place of meeting, their participation in a variety of voluntary activities and their voluntary contributions. I do not wish this to be a bleat for recognition, but to suggest that a report which does not include the Churches in its definition of what a voluntary organisation is may be leaving out a great deal of its purview, and to suggest that had the report included the Churches, certain of its conclusions would have been underlined and certain important and indeed crucial issues faced more sharply than the report does.

First, when everything has been said about the evils of parochialism, it has to be said that the parish is at least local. Chesterton said "for anything to be real it must be local". I suggest that one of the best things the Church has been able to do in the past—and it is a sadness to me it may not be able to continue to do it—has been to put a paid full-time organiser, so to speak, in every locality it could; to house him so that when all have fled at night time or at weekends to a better area (as often is the case with inner city parishes) he will remain; to encourage him to have independence of mind and speech; and to give him as at least part of his brief the responsibility of becoming aware of the most pressing needs of that locality, and to see what could be done to meet them.

I am well aware of how that hope and potential has often not been realised; but I would be untrue to my experience if I did not claim it has often been fulfilled. At this moment there are 12,000 such organisers, paid, full-time in the Church of England alone. It has surprised me that the report has not taken locality more seriously—the changing pattern of local community. A report on the future of voluntary organisations needs to be tested on a much wider variety of communities, urban, suburban, rural, than the locality studies described in Chapter III.

The sensitive but crucial question of the relation of voluntary organisations to neighbourhoods of different social class is hardly touched at depth. Within the voluntary organisation of the Church we discover that work in different social areas is almost a different job. Harpenden, in my diocese, has over 150 voluntary organisations in addition to the Churches. Inner Luton, six miles away and several times the size of population, has only a fraction of that number.

So much for locality. Let me turn now to the more sensitive question of motivation in voluntary organisations. The Committee would not want to say it had grasped this nettle. It gets two overt mentions in the report. One sympathises with reluctance to pursue such an intractable subject. But it is not only sensitive, it is critical; and if the Churches had been brought within the definition of voluntary organisations, I doubt whether it could have been left out.

I put it to you, my Lords, that if the field of voluntary effort is, for intance, the most disadvantaged families which the Family Service Unit describe in the report as a fairly low priority in local authority departments (that means the handicapped and elderly attract more sympathy), or if the field of voluntary effort is something like Dr. Cicely Saunders' remarkable pioneering St. Christopher's Hospice for the terminally ill; or if the field is some cause which, just because of its unpopularity, could not be undertaken by a statutory body—perhaps because of its political character or international links; and Amnesty International and World Development Movement spring to mind—then I think the question of motivation for voluntary organisations is inescapably highlighted.

I am not claiming for voluntary organisations—still less for the Churches—any monopoly of motivation or innovation; but I think the inclusion of the Churches as voluntary bodies might at least have caused the question to be raised, and I would be denying my own experience if I did not say that voluntary work in society which many Church members do (often without any label) is related to the motivation they receive, and the support they receive from their Church membership. The future of voluntary organisations in an affluent society—one that may be moving to a four day working week—raises questions about the sustained springs of selflessness which ought to be tackled, not avoided, in a report on the future of voluntary organisations.

As to pioneering new services, I hope that the Church's past record, its local base, international links, recruitment and fund raising capacity—and, above all, its emphasis on humane motivation—will be put to use. I am well aware that some more recent pioneering springs from disenchantment at the institutional Church. The Samaritans is a case in point. It was founded by the Reverend Chad Varah because he knew that people would not necessarily turn to the institutional Church in their moment of need.

But in many places in recent years—and this is why this point is so critical at the moment—the Church has handed over much of its traditional work—of which the last speaker spoke so movingly—convinced that it is often better handled by statutory bodies; for example, adoption, and support for one-parent families; but now has available human resources and even structures to cope with new forms of support just at time when official bodies are aware of new problems and opportunities coming up from our society which they hardly dare explore for fear of their extent and demand. Alcoholism, bereavement counselling and victim support groups are a few examples of new fields where there is already co-operation in my own experience. But if you get, on the part of statutory authorities, dogmatic suspicion of "sectarian interests" or, on the part of the Church, reluctance to be enabler and supporter rather than controller, the results are fatal.

These are sprawling remarks on a tidy report; but the serious gaps in the report make it look as if management rather than encouragement is the urgent problem. The ability of the voluntary sector to make the most of its contribution is absolutely dependent on encouragement and support from central and local authorities. The allocation of more funds is rightly considered, though once again, as has been pointed out, the role of the fund-raising organisations is under-estimated—another possibly untidy patch.

I doubt whether we are yet ready for the synoptic view, which is referred to at the end of the report and is a phrase which could conceal a multitude of civil servants. I look for this general debate to provoke attention to special areas for policy-making by Government—the Youth Service seems to me to be an early candidate. But I return to my beginning. Richard Crossman brought his prophetic lecture to a close by saying Important as it is to get the institutions right, what is even more important is a revolution in attitudes". I believe we are in the midst of such a revolution. It deserves encouragement rather than premature management. It gives the lie to some doleful accounts of our society, and we should all be grateful to the noble Lord and his colleagues for forcing it on our attention.

4.11 p.m.


My Lords, in addressing your Lordships today, I crave the customary indulgence given by the House to maiden speakers. I, too, should like to add my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden, and his Committee for their report which, though without a summary, has at least the advantage of making one read it in full. It is a real tour de force. A great debt of gratitude is owed to the Committee and to their sponsors. I am in the happy position, especially in my present circumstances, of agreeing with practically everything that the report has to say. I believe that everyone connected with voluntary organisations will have received encouragement from it and certainly will have been given much food for thought. There are many proposals on which action needs to be taken, and I should like to pick out four.

First, there is the matter of the responsibility of voluntary organisations to their supporting public, to which the noble Lord, Lord Banks, has already referred, and their responsibility to stand back and look at themselves—five year intervals are suggested—to ensure that they are still filling the gap they originally set out to fill and to discover whether changes should be made and how far the gap has in the interim been provided for by statutory services. I have known of two voluntary organisations which attached great importance to such rules. As a result, one of them decided that its original function had been covered by the developing social services and went into voluntary liquidation—a process which caused some fluttering in the dovecotes of the Charity Commissioners because at that time such a thing had not been done before. The other organisation changed its rôle after a similar review, because the gap it had been filling had begun to be plugged by the appropriate statutory department. That organisation turned its energies and resources to filling a new gap, which led to its receiving substantial support from the European Social Fund for its new activity. I mention these two examples to show how essential and, in the latter case, how profitable such reviews can be, in the hope that others will be encouraged to adopt the same practice.

Secondly, the report has a great deal to say about planning and makes important suggestions as to what central and local government ought to do. I am sure it is common experience that there is almost no planning at all and that the lack of it, especially at local level, is a major problem and handicap for all voluntary organisations. It bears with it also the danger of wasting precious resources. Not many Directors of Social Services that I come across are interested in what voluntary organisations are doing in their areas. Some do not even know; and, for their part, voluntary organisations seldom make much contact with local authorities unless they are after money. There is no getting together at all in the majority of cases and certainly no joint planning for the future. It is to be hoped that, as a result of this report, the noble Lord, Lord Harris, will later on be able to suggest that some action can be taken, both centrally and locally, on the lines set out by the report in order to encourage better communications—because, without that, the future contributions that voluntary organisations can make, and which the report shows could be so greatly increased, will never be able to develop as they should.

Thirdly, the report suggests that there is no longer a large pool of untapped resources from which money can be raised. I believe this to be so and I would also suggest that the traditional pool which voluntary organisations have tapped up to date is diminishing. With the noble Baroness, Lady Young, and the noble Lord, Lord Allen of Abbeydale, I, too, find it a little disappointing that the report has so little to say about any reassessment of the system of tax concessions to charities, because that could, at least to some degree, counter this development. However that may be, and whether the pool is static or diminishing, in this context we are all competing for slices of a cake of limited size, and it cannot therefore be anything but a matter for concern to existing voluntary organisations, and a strain on their ability to raise enough funds to do the jobs they do, when a new voluntary organisation is created with Government sponsorship to fill a gap that has hitherto been covered by Government provision, and to find in the Press notice issued about it that it is to appeal to the public for funds and not merely to the large corporations.

I refer, of course, to Motability, which has already been referred to, and which is under the chairmanship of the noble Lord, Lord Goodman. Its birth, given the circumstances surrounding its conception, is wholeheartedly to be welcomed. But filling gaps, which is frequently referred to in the report—and of course that is a major role of the voluntary bodies—has been a question of filling gaps that, for a variety of reasons, usually financial, have never been filled by statutory bodies. Motability, in addition to adding a new word to our language, is to fill an entirely new sort of gap—a gap caused by the withdrawal of a Government provision and its replacement by a different one, albeit covering a greater number of people but in a different sort of way. That decision of the Government was made with the best intentions and it is certainly not for me, at any rate on this occasion, to make any criticism of it. Nevertheless, the effect of this action has been to create a hitherto non-existent gap, which is now to be filled by a voluntary organisation which is to appeal for public funds. It is to be hoped that this sort of gap-forming will not become as contagious as that other innovation, the referendum, seems likely to become. If it does, there will be a little less cake available for those voluntary organizations which are filling what, with perhaps too great temerity, I would call "genuine gaps".

Finally, my Lords, the only part of the report with which I found myself unable to agree is where it speaks of the increasing variety of employers who are prepared to let members of their staff have time off work to work for voluntary organisations. Most of the members of the governing bodies of the charities and statutory bodies of which I have first-hand experience are as long in the tooth as I am; and some are even longer. They are all suffering, apart from their teeth, from the same problem: that, although the young are willing and keen to help, their bosses will not let them have time off. I do wonder where the noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden, found these co-operative employers because they do not seem to be very thick on the ground in London.

The report refers to the relatively large untapped potential among the recently retired. I would be the first to acknowledge the invaluable contribution that the retired make, but I would suggest that it is not desirable for the health and the development of any organisation for the majority of those who run it to be retired. We do need the young in responsible positions, with their particular approach to problems. We do need the young to take over from us. This report is of unique importance, and all concerned with voluntary organisations owe a debt to the noble Baroness, Lady Young, for initiating this debate this afternoon.

4.20 p.m.


My Lords, may I first congratulate the noble Viscount, Lord Knutsford, on his speech, and say how particularly glad I am that he should have chosen this subject on which to make it. It is a subject with which I have been involved all my life, and I was very pleased indeed to hear what he said and to listen with great interest. I am also very glad, as chairman of one of the two trusts that sponsored this inquiry, to have this opportunity of expressing my gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden, and his team for the great effort, time and care which they gave to preparing this report, and also of congratulating them on producing a report of such importance both to the voluntary movement and the statutory bodies alike. It has already been read by a great number of people and I can highly commend it to those who have not yet done so, as it is eminently readable and anyone would find it interesting.

The report does not claim to forecast what will happen in the next 25 years and, to use the Committee's own words, We did not waste time pondering the imponderable". What it has done is to analyse the present situation, explode a number of myths, produce facts which have not been brought together before and indicate lines of action which appear to me to be practical and realistic, although some of the recommendations must be argued further.

Some noble Lords who have spoken today lamented the fact that there were certain gaps in the report with which they wished the noble Lord had dealt. But I think I should tell your Lordships that, when the two trusts got together to discuss whether to sponsor this inquiry, some of us were very doubtful whether it was possible to produce a report on this very broad subject that would be readable and sufficiently short. I should like to say here that, having decided to go ahead, the way in which the noble Lord defined his objects was extremely well done. If the report had been spread much wider, it would have been effective in no direction. But, in concentrating on the points which particularly interested the two trusts, he has been able to look at that section of the voluntary movement in depth and to produce a report which, I repeat, I have found practical and realistic.

The first point which I wish to make—and, today, I am dealing only with those points in which I am particularly interested, since there are a lot of other speakers—is that, as I believe somebody has already said, there was a theory that the Welfare State would make the voluntary movement unnecessary and, I heard some people say, undesirable. Again, I think that this has been completely exploded by the report, and the Committee discovered that between 20 and 30 per cent. of the organisations about which they obtained information had been started between 1970 and 1976. In their view, the role of organisations as a medium through which people can come together to take initiatives, whether long- or short-term, is of inestimable value and very much alive.

This brings me on to my second point, which is about "participation". This is a principle which has been generally accepted as highly desirable in our society, but nobody has produced a very convincing answer to the method of implementation, particularly in local government and the social services. It is clear that a further development of the voluntary movement, perhaps more particularly in the encouragement of what the report calls the "informal system"—which I take to be neighbourhood groups, good neighbour schemes, mutual aid associations and so on—at one end, and reinforcing the "intermediary organisations", such as the Council of Social Service and the Council of Voluntary Service at the other. This would do more than anything else to make participation a reality.

A very important point made in the report, which has already been referred to, is that the next 25 years will not show a similar growth in the social and environmental services to that which has taken place in the last 25 years. At the same time the Committee do not see any falling off in the expectations and demands for these services. They therefore strongly urge the development of a new long-term strategy by a new examination of the potential contributions of the statutory, voluntary and informal sectors and their inter-relationship. They call for a Government initiative of a new kind, based on an explicit recognition of the contribution which the voluntary organisations, both corporately and individually, are in a position to make.

Naturally, the description of the activities of the voluntary organisations was not solely eulogistic. The unevenness of the services offered over the country as a whole, the duplication of effort, the lack at times of administrative efficiency are mentioned. And even the National Council of Social Service comes in for some critical examination, but not of course belittling its importance in the scheme of things and its great potentiality, particularly within the EEC.

I found that the chapter on independence, responsibility and effectiveness demanded very careful study. I was particularly interested in the problem of reconciling the independence of voluntary organisations with a measure of control by whoever funds them, whether it be public funds, trusts or any other major donor. There seems to be no easy answer to this, except that there must be mutual knowledge and understanding.

This brings me on to the problem of finance, about which many people have already talked. It is a problem with which I have been concerned all my life. It is 45 years since I was first made treasurer of the Sheffield Council of Social Service, and I held that position until the war. When I came back from the war, I was made treasurer of the York Community Council. Ever since then, I have been connected with bodies of this kind and have been responsible for fund raising. I found this a very difficult task.

The Committee did not believe that the voluntary movement was in any danger of imminent collapse, though many organisations have no doubt modified their activities for financial reasons. My own view is that the high personal taxation of those whose incomes in the past enabled them to give generously has had a major effect on private giving. There is no real diminution in the desire to give financial help, but there is no longer room in most people's personal budgets for maintaining their donations in real terms. Similarly, the corporate sector has become far more discriminating and has allocated a higher proportion of its charitable subscriptions to environmental and educational appeals than to the social welfare sector. I give as an example the large sums which are required, and which have been provided by the City of London, for St. Paul's Cathedral, York Minster, cathedrals and churches around the country and so on.

The report points out the comparative ease with which money is raised for national disasters and the more emotional appeals for children's problems—and, I would add, homes for dogs and cats. I suppose that I have spent as much time as I could, when I was not in banking, in begging. But I would not say that I compete in any way with a previous Lord Knutsford who, in my youth, was known as the Prince of Beggars. Nevertheless, I have found, as I have said, that to raise money for what the noble Lord calls the intermediary system is the most difficult of all. I believe that the remarks and recommendations made on the need for public support, from both central government and local government, for the intermediary system are absolutely right and absolutely necessary, if those bodies are really to get on with the job of development and new initiatives.

I had on my desk this morning a cri de coeur from York Community Council, asking me whether I could possibly mention in my speech the question of the intermediary system and its need for financial help. The Association of Directors of Social Services told the Committee that local authorities have neither the money nor the other resources to provide all the services which the volume of legislation has imposed upon them as duties. But they can help to mobilise whatever resources are available and, where they think it necessary, encourage the voluntary sector in particular tasks. The report, however, points out the large divergence in the scale of financial support given by local authorities, varying from over £7 per head of the population in Islington—and a very close runner up is Camden—to others which give only a matter of a few pence. This shows how uneven is the use made of, and encouragement given to, the voluntary movement between different local authorities.

The remit of the committee was "The Future of Voluntary Organisations", and although they stress the impossibility of making any clear division between the work of individuals and organisations I would urge the Government to give equal and simultaneous thought to the expansion of the volunteer effort and to give every encouragement to the Volunteer Centre and the numerous volunteer bureaux throughout the country. This is the sure way of increasing the effectiveness of the informal system on which the report lays so much stress.

Finally, I should like to draw attention to the firm opinion of the committee that there will be an important and continuing role for voluntary organisations that act as alternatives to statutory services. While admitting that this cannot apply to all services—for instance, to the provision of hospitals—in a number of situations, notably in the residential and day care fields, voluntary provision does already to some extent, and could to a greater extent in the future, offer clients a choice, particularly where the voluntary sector possesses advantages by way of specialist knowledge and skills and flexibility.

In this connection, a reappraisal of attitudes to the extension of statutory provision is needed because of the problems of bureaucracy and scale and because we cannot be so confident in future about the availability of resources. In the past, development of social welfare provision has progressed along with economic growth, and the committee points out, with which I agree, that we cannot be so sure that this will continue at a comparable pace in the future. As we pointed out in the Seebohm Report, an increased emphasis must be given to helping people to help themselves, or, as the report uses Lincoln's famous words, encouraging service of the people, by the people, for the people. There are many other points which could be made—about, for instance, the excellent and imaginative role of the Voluntary Service Unit, the Family Fund and so forth—but it is all in the book for anyone who wishes to read.

May I end by saying once again how delighted I am that the committee has produced such an excellent report which for once is bound to result in action which could add greatly to the quality of life in our country.

4.42 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of TRURO

My Lords, I, too, must begin by asking for the indulgence of the House as I face your Lordships for the first time. I feel that I have a particular reason for doing so, in that but a short time has passed since my introduction to this House, during which I have been unavoidably prevented from being able to benefit from listening to your Lordships in debate, as it would have been seemly for me to do.

I speak today for three reasons. First, for many years I have been concerned with voluntary organisations of various kinds, including service as a paid officer, and I would suggest that to serve an organisation as a paid officer gives one a rather different insight from that which is obtained from serving on the controlling body. Secondly, I am Chairman of the Board for Social Responsibility of the Church of England, which gave evidence to the Wolfenden Committee. I am glad to have this opportunity to express personally the appreciation of the board for this report. Thirdly, I speak because I am personally convinced of the vital and increasing importance of the voluntary sector in the life of our nation. As the noble Baroness pointed out, the report supports the voluntary sector in its own right as providing a continuing and necessary element in the provision of care which our society shows towards those in need. The report sees it as making a specific contribution of its own and not merely as a means of filling gaps where at any one time statutory provision is not made.

Attention has already been drawn in this debate to the three ways in which this contribution can be made: the extension of the scope of existing provision; the improvement of the standards of existing provision; and the offering of services to meet needs for which little or nothing is provided by the State. While these three ways are all important, I believe that it is the fourth way, to which the report draws attention in the section on the voluntary system and pluralism, which is, in the long run, the most significant. It is so, whatever may be the nature or extent of the particular service which is provided, for that fourth way concerns the effect of the voluntary sector in playing a part in determining the pattern of our national and social life, simply by its very existence.

I believe that one of the most urgent needs in our national life today is that people should be encouraged to take responsibility and to accept the consequences of their own decisions when they have made them. The voluntary element can, I suggest to your Lordships, play a most important part towards this end. It can do so, first by stimulating people to take the initiative to meet specific needs, of which they themselves may be the first people to become really aware. But, just as important, it can also encourage those in need to co-operate with help that is offered rather than expect everything to be provided without response on their part. I believe that that is much more likely to happen when voluntary help is provided rather than when it is given by the State. Also, as the report itself points out, the voluntary sector can give people a greater opportunity to have a part in the shaping of our society than they would otherwise have.

I do not think that anyone has yet drawn attention to the fact that this debate itself owes its very existence to the voluntary sector. We should not be taking part in it had not two voluntary organisations taken the initiative and provided the means for this report to be produced.

Although the report is concerned with the future of voluntary organisations, it recognises and supports what it describes as the informal system of caring. I live in an area where informal social help is much in evidence. The Cornish do not readily send their aged relations into a home, nor are they reluctant to care for their handicapped children at home. On my pastoral visits to the parishes, which include visiting the elderly and the housebound, I am impressed and encouraged by the way in which regular help from neighbours enables old people to continue living in their own homes, often alone, and to do so happily and with safety. Facilities such as day centres, whether for the aged or for the handicapped, are welcomed as enabling those who are responsible for such people to continue to care for them within the family.

I am greatly indebted to the noble Baroness, Lady Young, for her kind reference to the day centre at Newquay. I am glad that she was so impressed by it. I was there myself just under a week ago and I know with what enormous pleasure they looked forward to her visit and I have no doubt whatever that when I return to Cornwall I shall hear that their expectations were fulfilled in ample measure. As the noble Baroness told your Lordships, that day centre was a very remarkable effort, initiated and carried through by voluntary work.

Such informal efforts can be encouraged and guided by intermediate organisations, the importance of which is recognised in the report. Such organisations can help in two ways: first, they can give the necessary and desirable degree of autonomy to local efforts which can otherwise easily become swamped by local authorities. Secondly, they can serve as a means of encouraging local initiatives to meet new needs and prevent inflexibility. I know, from my experience as chairman of the Board for Social Responsibility in trying to assist the dioceses of the Church of England to meet the new situation in social work created by the implementation of the Seebohm Report, that it is often the wholly local autonomous concern which can be the most inflexible and the least able to adapt to a new need. An intermediate organisation can play a very important part in assisting such local concerns to look into the future and to do so constructively. It is mainly for this reason, my Lords, that I hope you will support the proposal of the report that grant aid should be given at the intermediate level. The recognition of the strategic place of intermediate bodies is, I believe, a distinctive feature of the report.

Such bodies can also play an essential part in the process of self-criticism to which the report rightly says the voluntary organisations must regularly subject them-selves. If a local authority attempts to assist in such self-criticism it can easily be misinterpreted as an attempt to gain control and to determine policy. Wise advice and direction from a national or regional voluntary body with the same aims is likely to be much more readily accepted. Also, such a national or regional body may be more aware of changing needs and opportunities through its relationship to central Government and its knowledge of public as opposed to purely local opinion.

I know that your Lordships appreciate that, if the proposals of the report are to be put into effect, it is necessary that continuous encouragement should be given to people to volunteer, and that the right people should volunteer. The Church of England is sensitive to this need. As a result of a debate in the July group of sessions of the General Synod of the Church of England, my Board was asked to initiate further study into ways in which—and I quote the resolution— dioceses may promote efforts for citizen participation in the social services". Steps have been taken to this end and a document will shortly be published to encourage the dioceses to survey the needs and opportunities for voluntary service in the community, to make them known to Church people and to assist where practicable in the recruitment of volunteers. It will also press for schemes of lay training in the Church of England to include an adequate section on training for service in the community. It will also urge that serious consideration should be given to the provision of resources of money and manpower within the Church to carry out work in the community which would strengthen local caring groups, and I would hope that other voluntary bodies might take similar steps to encourage a steady flow of volunteers.

There are practical reasons why I believe it is right for your Lordships to support this report. Now that people are living longer and with ever increasing expectations of what the State will provide, it is unrealistic to suppose that social service departments can meet the full burden of social needs, particularly at a time of economic stringency. However, I believe that such practical considerations are secondary, however cogent they may be. The essential reason, I suggest to your Lordships, is one of principle: the principle that voluntary participation is conducive to good social organisation and encourages sound social growth. It is also, I believe, the way in which corporate recognition by the State of human need can be accompanied by the acceptance of individual responsibility, both being ways in which we discharge the duty to love our neighbour.

4.46 p.m.

The Earl of LONGFORD

My Lords, it is a real privilege to follow the right reverend Prelate who, like the noble Viscount, Lord Knutsford, speaks with so much authority on these matters and has made such a deep impression on the House. I feel sure that he will often speak again, and he will always be listened to with close attention. I must apologise for the state of my throat, but I have taken the precaution of stationing myself beside my medical adviser, who is always ready to render voluntary service to noble Lords in difficulties.

We are all grateful to the noble Baroness and, if she will allow me to say so, we are still more grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden, for this classical report and for the debate that has followed it. It is rather more than 20 years ago since I initiated a debate in this House supporting the report with which the noble Lord's name has hitherto been associated. Like myself, it may not have been the association he would have chosen but undoubtedly he will go down in history for his connection with that subject, unless this one supersedes it. At any rate I was bold enough to support him a year before anyone would touch it in the House of Commons. Today, it is much less risky to support the noble Lord; indeed, it would seem to be lèse-majesté to do anything else and I am not going to differ from the general consensus of approval.

With regard to voluntary action, in 1950 I had my say in this House on behalf of the Attlee Government. I made the first major post-war statement on behalf of voluntary action at that time. That was a moment when it was thought by many that the Labour Party and all those concerned with the Welfare State might be hostile to voluntary action, but I will not repeat what I said then. It has all been developed much more elaborately and eloquently in the report which is before us. I will deal today with microcosmic aspects of particular projects rather than the macrocosmic issues, and I will deal with the particular rather than the general. Like many noble Lords, I have been associated with a whole number of voluntary organisations. Looking across at the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, I think she might hold the record, although I am not sure. There is strong competition in this House and I have been concerned with founding more than one such body.

I shall be saying a few words from the point of view of three organisations which, on the whole, have considerable reason to express gratitude—not uncritical gratitude—to the public authorities, central and local, for their support, and from the point of view of one body which has very little reason to be grateful. I will not make a further plea for financial assistance on behalf of the first three, although that would come from the heart; but I wish to say something in relation to a remark that fell from the lips of the noble Lord, Lord Seebohm, about mutual aid. The three organisations I am speaking about are the New Horizon youth centre, started for young people with problems living in the Soho area; the Melting Pot, started for young black people in Brixton and the New Bridge, a society for helping ex-prisoners. In none of these cases can you talk of mutual aid in quite the sense in which the noble Lord was using the expression, but in each case there is a considerable connection between the people who are trying to do the helping and the people who are being helped. In New Horizon from the beginning we have had the slogan, "The young can help the young"; the people helping them, the social workers, have been very young people, in their twenties, helping people who are in their late 'teens or early twenties. That has been part of the inspiration from the beginning, though older people—not to mention very old people like myself—have been prominent on the council and so on.

Then, in regard to Melting Pot, black people on the whole are helping black people, and in a sense I do not think anybody but black people could help the blacks in Brixton in quite the way it is being done. But, of course, white people are helping black people to help the blacks, and the black people who are helping the blacks are not the same age—they are not adolescents—as the people being helped, but there is that link. In the case of New Bridge for ex-prisoners, the problem is rather more complex. One cannot quite coin the phrase that only delinquents can help delinquents. When we started New Bridge nearly 20 years ago we had in mind some comparison perhaps with Alcoholics Anonymous. It has not quite worked out in that way, though some who have been in prison have given much help with the society. But, to put it bluntly from the point of view of the public authorities, I do not know how much financial help they would give to a society which was mainly run by delinquents to help delinquents. That is one of the problems involved when we talk about mutual aid. However, I offer those thoughts in passing about the problems of participation.

I come to an aspect of this topic where I cannot speak with any kind of gratitude towards the authorities, central and local; I am referring to the Chiswick Women's Aid. The noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden, in his excellent report has referred quite a lot to the Chiswick Women's Aid. They are treated as quite a good example of pioneering. I do not know whether, the noble Lord when he wrote that report, knew quite how badly they have in fact been treated by the authorities. You would not gather it from the report, and the noble Lord was probably not aware of it, but that is the position. People are coming from all over the world. In the last six years this small group has focussed and enlightened consciences throughout the world. Correspondence and visitors come from everywhere—from the United States, from Turkey, from New Zealand, from Canada, from Africa, and every European country. The Berlin Government closely studied Mrs. Pizzey's centre before setting up its own. So it h AS been a fine example of pioneering, but it is not pioneering which has received much goodwill here.

I am bound to labour the point, and I would speak at greater length, but your Lordships will be glad to hear that my voice is too bad to allow that to be possible. One is bound to ask why this one small poverty-stricken organisation has attracted such world-wide interest, and, on the other hand, aroused what one can only call cold-hearted indifference—one could use stronger and more unpleasant words—from the authorities, local and national, in our own country. Why do these women flee from every quarter of the British Isles to this centre? Why do social workers, the police, the Samaritans and other societies, even from the other refuges for battered wives, send families to this overcrowded refuge? It is possible that there is a lesson to be learned, that these people have discovered certain secrets or are on the way to discovering secrets which are still somewhat unpalatable in our present age. The not ion that marital violence is a result of early childhood experience in the family and results in a crippled or non-existent ability to make complete relationships without violence—it may be this which is unacceptable. However, the fact exists. Here is this body arousing all this interest, praised, in so far as it is referred to, by the noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden. He picks it out as an example of a need which has been recognised only recently; but, unless I am mistaken, the future of assistance for this centre from the public and local authorities is dark indeed.

I do not want to end on that note, but I must repeat that it is complacent if we have a debate here on the voluntary societies and assume that all goes well, smoothly, and that with a little oil in the machine it will go forward more smoothly still. It is perfectly possible for a great social experiment to be frustrated, and it may be sabotaged, through lack of understanding by public bodies. Although there may be many people here who are reluctant to admit this for a number of reasons, these are the facts as I understand them. However, I will return to a pleasanter note. I think we must all feel that this report is a masterly description of voluntary action today. I have been over that ground in the past both in theory and in practice, and I cannot imagine it being better done. I still cherish the hope that the noble Lord, when he speaks today—after all, I hope he is speaking as a human being and not just as a chairman of a committee—will be able to tell us more clearly than he was allowed to by this large and distinguished gathering of his, what he thinks ought to be done to assist us in the future.

4.57 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to begin by adding my thanks to those which have already been expressed to the noble Baroness, Lady Young, for initiating this debate, and for the eloquent and elegant way in which she did so. I would offer my thanks also to all those noble Lords who have already richly and generously contributed to the debate out of their own knowledge and experience. We have also heard two exemplary maiden speeches which lead us to hope that we may hear those voices many times in the future.

My Lords, I suppose I ought to declare an interest, as being responsible, with my nine colleagues, for the report which is the subject, or object, of this discussion. Obviously, and I think naturally and properly, I have an interest, not, I hasten to say, in the proceeds of the sales of the report, but in the judgments which are passed on it, and, much more important, in any effect that it may have on public policy over the next 25 years.

It seems to me that there are two distinct distinguishable levels on which this debate might be conducted; and indeed we have already seen signs this afternoon of this dichotomy. One level, to my mind the lower and more ephemeral, is that of discussion and criticism of the report itself. The other, to me much more important, is the level of discussion of the principles and problems with which the report attempts to deal. May I mention very briefly indeed two or three topics on each level, several of which have in fact already been touched upon this after-noon. I should hate to give the impression of being so arrogant as to presume to sum up the debate, still less to reply to it, though a certain number of observations have been made which I should love to answer and argue about. I would simply like to try to emphasise what seem to me to be important points on these two distinct levels.

First, on the report itself. In the comments that I have heard today and in the comments that I have seen, and I do not claim to have seen them all, the criticism most frequently made—and it has been echoed here this afternoon—is that we have not given a positive enough lead about the future of the voluntary organisations. We are told, "You have collected quite a lot of useful information about the present state of things, some of which has never been assembled before; but why didn't you go on to do the job you were supposed to be doing, plot a course for the future? Why so timid?" My reply is that we were not being timid or gutless; we were being modest and realistic and perceptive. We did not produce a blueprint for the future, or even a number of alternative scenarios (as the fashionable words are), partly because we did not reckon ourselves omniscient prophets, but partly for another reason. The voluntary organisations and their members are essentially voluntary. It is not part of their nature that they should be ordered about, or pushed around or told to do what they are told. Indeed, I have an idea that to attempt to regiment them or organise them too tidily could very well be counter-productive, damaging rather than increasing their contribution to our total social picture.

A second, related, criticism bears this out. We have proposed a governmental initiative in the working out of a comprehensive overall pattern of social provision in which the voluntary, the statutory, the informal and the commercial elements should all have their place. This suggestion, or challenge, has been received in some quarters with anxiety and misgiving, on the grounds that the initiative is being taken away from the voluntary sector and that Government intervention inevitably means Government control. Perhaps our critics have overlooked one crucial adjective in our proposal. We plainly said that it is for the Government to take, urgently, the initiative in working out, with the variety of agencies which are now operating in this field, a collaborative social plan which will make the optimum and maximum use of resources. If I may say so in parenthesis, I deliberately used the words "maximum" and "optimum", one as I understand it being quantitative and the other qualitative. "Collaborative" is the key word. Verily, my Lords, you cannot win. If you do not produce a blueprint you are being gutless; if you suggest collaboration, under Government auspices, to produce a social plan you are handing the voluntary organisations over to Government control.

Now I should like to be a little more positive and set my foot on the ladder which leads from one level of debate to the other. There was no doubt whatever in our minds that there is indeed a future for voluntary organisations. Indeed, I was constantly reminded of the debate in your Lordships' House some two and a half years ago when speaker after speaker affirmed precisely that. Throughout the report we have asserted what we have called the "pluralist" position, as distinct from what we have called a "monolithic" one. I think I need not take your Lordships' time in rehearsing all the arguments for this view; they are familiar enough. But if they are accepted at least three corollaries seem to me to result.

The first is closely connected with my earlier point about a collaborative pattern of social provision. There is no doubt at all that there are gaps and deficiencies in that provision today. Some of the gaps are simply geographical. In some places up and down the United Kingdom there are whole kinds of need which are not met. This is more true perhaps in scattered rural communities than in the more accessible and compact urban or suburban areas, but there are a surprisingly large number of those more thickly populated areas where services which other places take for granted simply do not exist. However, besides these geographical gaps there are, in no matter what area, whole classes of persons who are uncared for because they belong to "unpopular" categories. I am thinking, for instance, of ex-prisoners, alcoholics, drug addicts and others who are regarded by many of their fellow citizens with disapproval. Something must be done, my Lords, to close these gaps, whether they be topographical or conceptual. Whether this operation can best be performed by a voluntary or by a statutory agency is precisely the kind of problem we should hope to see faced in the collaborative social plan we advocate.

That leads me to my second corollary of the pluralist position. We have emphasised the importance, both at national and especially at local level, of what we call the "intermediary bodies". We deliberately avoided the word "co-ordination", because to some people that has become almost a dirty word, being taken to mean time-consuming chattering with no effective result Perhaps the best known and most respected examples of what we have in mind are the rural community councils, which cover practically all the non-metropolitan counties of England and Wales, and provide a wide range of services to their member bodies. Their urban counterparts, Councils of Social Service or Councils of Voluntary Service, differ inter se much more than do the rural community councils, and their coverage is less complete. We believe that urgent efforts should be made to bring more of them into existence and to strengthen the work of all of them. This means, in most cases, more money; but the total of £2.5 million a year, which we have suggested, from central Government, seems to us to be very little compared with the increased scope and effectiveness of provision which would result. Here again, we have deliberately abstained from putting forward a model constitution to be uniformly and universally adopted.

The histories and circumstances of different towns and cities differ enormously. Some have a long tradition of voluntary service, some have very little. In some the initiative has come, and will come, from the statutory side, in others from the voluntary. A tidy uniformity is not the ideal. What is needed is a recognition of the problems of a particular place, an appreciation of the functions which need to be carried out in that particular place by its local intermediary body and then the construction of an agency designed to carry out those functions. The crucial objective is planned and collaborative deployment of all the resources, statutory and voluntary, in a continuing, comprehensive and coherent provision. Of national intermediary bodies there is no need for me to say anything after the admirable speech of the noble Lord, Lord Allen of Abbeydale, until lately chairman of the National Council of Social Service.

My third corollary is that if the voluntary organisations are to play their proper part in all this there is need for them to undertake some self-examination and self-criticism. Nobody questions the magnificent work they have done in the past or the almost immeasurable contribution they are making in the present. But that is not enough. There are various aspects of their work, collectively and individually, which would be none the worse for some self-examination—I am thinking of such areas as straightforward efficiency in the use of money and of voluntary effort, accountability to their supporters, and sometimes redefinition of aims in the light of changed and changing circumstances. I am not, of course, making charges of gross inefficiency, still less of financial improprieties. But in the world of the present, and, a fortiori, of the future, to have done splendid work in the past is not enough. Certainly it will not be enough to satisfy those young people who are increasingly becoming the contributors of man-hours and woman-hours in places where they are needed most.

My Lords, I have almost finished. I have not tried to provide a summary of our report—I see no reason why I should save your Lordships the trouble of reading it for yourselves. I have simply tried to indicate half-a-dozen main areas of concern as we saw them. There are dozens more that I might have pursued, but that would have tried your Lordships' patience more than I have tried it already. And now, as I have listened to the earlier speeches in an attitude of humble attentiveness I shall resume my seat and resume that same attitude for the remainder of this fascinating debate.

5.10 p.m.


My Lords, I have great compassion for your Lordships' House in having to listen to my speech following the absolutely outstanding one made by the noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden. I join with others in congratulating the noble Lord on his report and thank my noble friend Lady Young for initiating this debate. I must also apologise to your Lordships' House because if the noble Lord, Lord Allen of Abbeydale, found that all he was going to say had been said by the time the second speaker had spoken, then by the eleventh speech everything has been said—I have been crossing out paragraph after paragraph. My speech will be short, but it will be very scrappy as it will lack continuity.

At this point I should like to pay tribute to the noble Viscount, Lord Knutsford, for his maiden speech. As a former director of social services I listened with sorrow and dismay when lie said that some directors of social services do not know the voluntary organisations in their areas. With humility, I would say that I think I knew all my organisations, but I am quite sure that my former colleagues will take note of what the noble Viscount said. I was going to refer to the fact that the Church had been excluded, but naturally with such eminent a speaker as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Truro that paragraph has been scored out.

The Wolfenden Report has skilfully and realistically opened up a debate not only in your Lordships' House, but throughout the country. Such a debate is timely—timely, because the voluntary sector is growing. My noble friend Lady Young quoted the figures and, therefore, I shall omit them. Timely also because the: Voluntary giving has fallen behind the average rise in incomes". Here again I shall not give the figures as they have already been given.

The Committee wisely set themselves limits, confining themselves to consideration of the social and environmental services. We have sympathy with education, health, probation, after-care and the innumerable other areas omitted, but I think the Committee know that it would have been impossible to have included them all. In the two areas covered, however, I would not go so far as to say that the members of the Committee have left undone those things which they ought to have done. What they omitted they did so advisedly, with thought. Strangely, the Committee's research seems to have ranged wider than the areas to which the Committee confined themselves.

What is left out is as important as what is contained in the report, and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden, will forgive me if I refer to the omissions. The four categories referred to—the informal (meaning the family, the neigh-bourhood and the community), the commercial, the statutory services and the voluntary sector—are assisted by volunteers. Volunteers were not covered in the report because they were so ably covered in the Aves Report. Nevertheless, the volunteer movement should not pass without comment in this debate. There will be future discussions and perhaps we should note what the volunteers are and have been doing.

The noble Lord, Lord Seebohm, referred to the Volunteer Centre at Berkhamsted, which came into being as a result of the Aves Report. I should like to mention that the local authorities are paying volunteers; I wonder whether this will blur the boundaries between the role of volunteers and paid staff. Perhaps this matter could be considered at future discussions. Volunteers can be an integral part of a voluntary organisation and a local authority. Perhaps I could mention the Channel Scheme of voluntary family counsellors in Liverpool, which was initiated by Dr. Barnardo's, where, supported by qualified social workers, voluntary counsellors enter into a partnership with families facing difficulties of an emotional, mental and social nature. May I also mention the 57,470 Guiders running companies for 763,939 girls. That is an enormous piece of social work. Together with the noble Lord, Lord Banks, may I suggest that we pay tribute to those thousands of voluntary workers who raise money.

The raising of money also invokes in the community an interest, knowledge and sense of responsibility for and compassion in the project or organisation to which the volunteers devote their energies. I think of money being raised by Dr. Barnardo's at the pithead in the bleak early morning when the miners come off duty at 4 o'clock; I think of the taxicab drivers and the firemen in Oxford raising money for what they called "their Church Army Hostel for men".

As proof of their viability, voluntary organisations should surely raise a proportion of their income using businesslike methods; the same should apply to how they spend the money. It is acknowledged that there are some necessary but unpopular causes which require financial help. As other noble Lords have mentioned, the report makes no mention of the self-help groups. The individuals in such groups help and support each other and often need technical advice and funding. No mention is made of the voluntary work done under the auspices of the Community Relations Committees throughout the country.

I should like, briefly, to comment upon the relationship between central Government and voluntary organisations. To what extent does the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, consider that the voluntary sector should be involved in planning services both in the area of broad policies and in detail? For example, the National Children's Homes and Dr. Bernardo's, to quote only two of the child care organisations, do not serve on the Regional Planning Committees throughout the country, although 10 per cent. of the children in care are looked after by voluntary organisations. I was glad that only last week the Minister for Health and Social Security in another place announced several nominations for voluntary organisations to serve on the Personal Social Services Council. So perhaps that is a step in the direction of the involvement of the voluntary sector in planning. It is encouraging because the Government document, The Way Forward, issued by the Personal Social Services Council, did not refer to the role of the voluntary sector as much as it might have done.

In the area of training of social workers, I understand that 10 per cent., probably more, field and residential social workers, by agreement, are trained on the same courses as social workers and the statutory services, and yet no representative of the National Council of Voluntary Child Care Organisations is a member of the Council for Training and Education in Social Work. Indeed, of the 67 members, only four are from the voluntary sector, and those four do not employ qualified social workers. I should indeed be grateful if the Minister could comment on that point.

Turning to the relationship between local authorities and voluntary organisations, I agree with the noble Viscount that the development is uneven over the country. Some local authorities, for instance, use the WRVS; some do not; some use the Red Cross and some do not. Doubtless the noble Baroness, Lady Hylton-Foster, has knowledge of this. There may be reasons on both sides why there is not an interweaving partnership. However, it should be said that if a London Borough such as Islington, facing problems of an inner-city area, can encourage and assist voluntary organisations and volunteers towards obtaining their objectives, such a policy must be a practicable proposition. Another such authority is the East Sussex County Council.

On the question of intermediary bodies, I would wish to see a more detailed plan than is in the report. On the position with regard to funding, I support the Voluntary Service Unit, but I understand and appreciate the difficulties which have been outlined by the noble Baroness. I also support funding through individual Government Departments to projects which fall within the orbit of that Department. Any Department other than the Department of Health and Social Security, for instance, would find it difficult to understand the rôle of the Adoption Resource Exchange.

What the Committee has purposely not done—and I shall leave out the next chunk of my speech because it has already been covered by the noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden—was to supply an exact definition. May I ask the noble Lord, Lord Harris, whether he can inform your Lordships' House in his reply what is now to be the next stage of the Wolfenden Report? May I here point out that on the Wolfenden Committee were no representatives of voluntary organisations responsible, through their social workers, for day-to-day work in the field of social work. The reasons for this were stated clearly on Page 9.

With the greatest deference to the noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden, it might have been helpful if there had been a sub-committee of representatives of voluntary organisations monitoring the evidence of the 120 reports of evidence reviewed. Perhaps this point could be borne in mind at the next stage of the Wolfenden Report. May I say that the Wolfenden Report, the Goodman Report, the Boyle Report and the Ayes Report constitute a four-course meal requiring a very good digestion. In making future firm policy recommendations, may I suggest that these reports should be considered and looked at together.

Finally, may I say that, while paying tribute to the work of voluntary organisations and volunteers, a sense of balance should be preserved and we should also pay tribute in this debate to the statutory services who, at the end of the day, must be the last ditch. Only if both sectors carry out work of a high quality, and complementing each other, is there likely to be a sound partnership providing a balanced and all-embracing social and environmental service in this country.

5.24 p.m.


My Lords, may I add my thanks to the noble Baroness, Lady Young, for initiating this debate and giving us the opportunity of discussing the Wolfenden Report today. Like other noble Lords, I welcome the conclusion of the Wolfenden Report that voluntary work and voluntary organisations are necessary; in fact that they are a good thing, and that there is a place for both statutory and voluntary service. It should always be remembered that the statutory services work defined, regular hours, five days a week, but that those who need help are not necessarily ill or lonely within these hours. That is where the voluntary sector is so important, and much of their work needs no grant at all and is just a splendid example of befriending.

I welcome the Committee's view that local authorities should provide grants to voluntary organisations for all services undertaken by them which are complementary or additional to the statutory services, but care must always be taken by the voluntary organisations not to come under the influence of the pressure groups, or they would then be in danger of losing their independence.

The report does not condemn all overlapping of voluntary services, which is interesting, because although in some cases there can be a waste of funds and of personnel it can also raise the standard of service by being competitive and thereby giving the consumer a choice. Also the supporters of any particular organization—dare I say "charity"?—may have a personal reason for doing so. We in the larger charities—and I must declare my Red Cross interest here—are very conscious of our financial responsibilities, and we have to spend a lot of money on professional staff to deal with this. Therefore, we readily accept that we should be fully accountable. But in the Red Cross we feel that accountability should be thought of in terms much wider than financial; that the voluntary organisations should be accountable for their actions and for their services. We agree with the Save the Children Fund that great emphasis should be placed on accountability, since the good reputations of voluntary societies would inevitably suffer should the misuse of funds by even one defaulter hit the headlines in the mass media, and we certainly cannot afford to be tarred with that unpleasant brush.

This report is only about the personal social services, but it is difficult to separate them from the voluntary sector in the Health Service. I should like an assurance from the Government that they accept the need for voluntary help in both the personal social services and the Health Service, as the voluntary aid societies have a very important part allotted to them in the Home Defence Circular on the preparation and organisation of the Health Service in war, and also in the Health Service Circular on the arrangements for dealing with major accidents. Both circulars refer to liaison with local authorities and the social services departments. In emergencies the unexpected pretty well always happens, and it would be absolutely absurd if the voluntary organisations were debarred from giving their help.

Finally, it is of some concern to us that the report sees a need for more intermediary bodies. Surely if the National Council of Social Service and their local councils of social service are doing the work they were originally intended to do, there would not be room for other intermediary bodies, which would only cost more money which could be better spent. I should be grateful if, in his reply, the Minister could comment on this, and also on accountability.

5.30 p.m.


My Lords, I must at the outset apologise to the noble Baroness, Lady Young, for not being in my place to hear her speech; I am sure I missed a great deal, though I will read it carefully in tomorrow's Hansard. The price one pays for being a GP is that one's time is not one's own, and of course this is the period of coughs and colds and one's surgery takes much longer than usual. I am sure we are all grateful to the noble Baroness for having initiated this debate and I join with others in thanking her. I also wish to thank the noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden, and the members of his team for the thorough way in which they carried out the work they were invited to do.

I wish to concentrate specifically on one observation they make, one recommendation with which I agree; namely, that in view of the way in which things are developing in this country today it will be necessary for more funding to be done by statutory authorities, central and local government. It is my view that that will happen and I wish to use my own experience to point out some of the difficulties that will arise as a consequence of this happening. As most noble Lords will know, I was for nine years, from 1968 to 1977, deputy chairman of the Community Relations Commission, and I was chairman of its field work committee, the body responsible for developing and establishing the local community relations councils. Therefore my responsibility during the whole of those nine years was to chair a committee which was concerned with establishing and strengthening local community relations councils. It is that experience on which I am drawing in pointing out that there could be problems if we have to rely particularly on local authorities for funding.

I am sure that most noble Lords know about the community relations councils, though perhaps not as much as I would like them to know. These community relations councils have several functions. For example, they are expected to assess the community relations needs of their areas and monitor the State's race relations policy. From that assessment they are expected to devise a strategy for action and make recommendations to local statutory and voluntary agencies and professional workers; I am speaking of people like teachers, social workers, both sides of industry, the police and so on.

They are also expected to take part in public education, and for that they have to use local radio and newspapers and aim to influence attitudes and provide factual information. They also have to help to organise social and cultural activities designed to establish the multi-cultural character of our society. It is obvious that in doing those things they often have to take on a campaigning role, and therefore they have a dual function which one must always recognise. They also spend much of their time organising community projects and assisting other organisations in their project work. I am talking about things like multi-racial playgroups, advice services, holiday projects and youth provision, and they play quite an important part in helping local organisations to make applications to the urban programme.

They are also expected to work for the effective development of community groups and minority group organisations. This is important because they need to encourage the ethnic minorities in self help activities. That is a very important part of their job. In addition to the functions I have mentioned, they must spend some of their time on individual casework because it is inevitable that there will be individuals with problems with which they think only the community relations officer can deal. It is not always true that nobody else can do it but they think that only the CRO can advise them and therefore they must do a lot of casework. Wherever possible, however, they try to involve local agencies rather than do it themselves.

In discharging these functions, CRCs have traditionally worked from a tripartite base; that is, the local authority through the involvement of councillors and working in close contact with local authority departments in respect of financial assistance, which brings me nearer to the purpose of my remarks. The second element in this tripartite base is the central Government represented by the Commission, which finances most of the staff of the CRCs and, as I said earlier, plays some part through the urban programme.

The third is the harnessing of local voluntary effort, an extremely important part of the job. This is done by bringing together all sorts of local statutory and voluntary services and organisations. I am talking not only about local government but the local offices of central Government Departments, the police, councils of voluntary service, neighbourhood groups, religious organisations, political Parties, trades councils, minority and group organisations and so on. We have endeavoured to restrict individual membership to a quarter, otherwise one can get a committee which is swamped by people who want to use it as a pressure group, and then its real usefulness can be lost.

Under the new Race Relations Act, as I see it, these local councils will have much greater responsibility and a much more difficult task. As your Lordships will remember, the new Race Relations Act makes it incumbent on local authorities to pursue their policies in a way calculated to remove racial discrimination and provide equality of opportunity. Noble Lords may remember that when the Act was going through this House I tried to get the House to include an Amendment which would have made it incumbent on local authorities to work with the Commission for racial equality, and I had good reason for that. I can envisage local councils—remember, I am speaking with nine years' experience—providing a liaison officer to work with the immigrant organisations claiming payment for it under Section 11 and insisting that they are doing their duty in terms of the Act. I am fairly certain that we will find several of them doing that.

I want to take up a few minutes of your Lordships' time to point out the difference in the grants that local councils have been making to their community relations councils. We start with Camden, which in 1976–77 gave them £86,000 and which undertakes to give them £96,000 in the year 1977–78. There are other good councils making similar grants, such as Hammersmith, which gave £30,000 last year and is giving £31,000 this year; Lambeth, which gave £39,000 last year and is giving £55,000 this year; and Lewisham, which gave £30,000 last year and is giving £30,000 again this year. There are several such good councils, but there are also several councils which make what are in fact merely nominal grants to their community relations councils. The worst is Medway and Gillingham, which gives £30; but they may not in fact need to make a big grant. There are much more critical areas where big grants are needed, such as Tower Hamlets, for example, which gave only £2,360 last year and has promised to give only £1,400 this year. Contrast that with Camden, which is giving £96,000. There is a marked difference. Or Westminster—and do not forget that when we are talking about the City of Westminister we are talking about Paddington. They gave £8,000 last year and are to give £10,000 this year. Again, contrast that with Camden's £96,000 or Lambeth's £55,000. Or Islington, which has a good record in terms of its grants to voluntary bodies but which gives its community relations council only £11,000. In fact, it gave it £17,000 last year and reduced it this year to £11,000. Or take Ealing—and, again, remember that when we are talking about Ealing we are talking about Southall. Their grant was £11,000 last year and it will be £12,500 this year.

So we have these very unbalanced contributions from local authorities; and, therefore, if we are to rely on funding from local authorities we are in fact going to be relying on a real patchwork quilt in terms of services, because what I have used the community relations councils to demonstrate is not different from what the report has demonstrated as to the imbalance in the grants which are being made to other voluntary bodies. That is one piece of my experience that I wanted to pass on to your Lordships, which I suggest calls for a little thought in terms of how much one can count on local authorities for contributions.

I am now going to recount to your Lordships another of my experiences, which in some respects is worse. It relates entirely to Islington, and it is to do with a project called the Harambee project. The Harambee project is aimed at the rehabilitation of deprived black adolescents. At present it provides them with some sort of overnight accommodation and tries to help to rehabilitate them and get them back into the community. The process of rehabilitation which it adopts is a continuous one. For example, if one of these youngsters is arrested there is an attempt from that moment to make contact with him, to keep the contact while he is in custody, to keep the contact while he is serving his sentence if he has to go to a detention centre or prison, and then, when he is out of custody, to continue the work of rehabilitation, trying to provide him with skill as well as self-confidence. For example, if a chap has been to borstal he will certainly have begun to learn a trade there. Therefore, in effect, the rehabilitation involves continuing with that work until he acquires the skill, at the same time providing him with a secure form of accommodation.

It was clear that the demand far exceeded the ability of Harambee to provide, and therefore an application was made to the Government for urban aid. The Government gladly agreed to an urban aid grant, and, to indicate how much the Government were satisfied that this was a useful piece of work, the urban aid grant was £281,000. It is one of the biggest. That was in the financial year 1974–75. To this day that project has not come to fruition because the local authority and Harambee have been disagreeing with each other as to how it should be controlled. I give your Lord-ships these examples because it is my view that, while one can say quite readily, "Yes, there is need for more central Government finance for voluntary bodies", one must recognise that there will be difficulties, and one must think of how some of these difficulties can be overcome.

I want to make three suggestions to the Government, one of which is actually in the report. That is the one relating to the Development Commission—that it should function in inner city areas as well as rural areas, and that there should be two sub-committees: one to deal with the rural areas and one to deal with the inner cities. I think that is sensible. I am going to make two other suggestions. One is that the Commission for Racial Equality should be given a lot more finance so that it can provide the balance (much as it is the intention of the Regional Fund in the EEC to provide a balance) between the unequal contributions which are being made by local authorities to their various community relations councils. If it is to do that, it must have a lot more finance than it now has, and this is one of the recommendations I want to make to the Government, and make very seriously.

The second recommendation I want to make to the Government, equally seriously, is that the urban aid programme should be modified in two ways. The first is that the Government percentage of urban aid grant should be higher than 75 per cent. I suggest 90 per cent. The second—this is probably more controversial, but I think equally important—is that all applications for urban aid should go to the Government with, of course, recommendations from the local authority as to those it is prepared to support; and that where there is an urban aid project which the local authority does not recommend but which the Government think is worth supporting, then an urban aid grant should be given to that project on condition that the local people, the people who are running the project, raise the other 10 per cent. I am sure that that modification of the urban aid programme would enable it to be much more useful, because, as I said at the beginning—and I am ending right where I started—I agree that we have to think that in the future much of the funding will have to come from Government, whether central or local, but we must recognise that there will be problems and we must think of ways to get round them.

The two recommendations I have suggested will help. I am sure that many other ways could be thought of, but I want everybody concerned with this matter to recognise that the independence of these voluntary organisations is important, and that the fact of central or local government funding should not be allowed to interfere with this independence. It is a fact that local governments vary considerably in their attitudes to various things, particularly to voluntary organisations.

5.50 p.m.


My Lords, I, too, should like to thank the noble Baroness, Lady Young, for her introduction to this important debate. I also seek her indulgence if I go a little wider than the parameters to which she worked. We can but sympathise with the noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden, and his hard-working Committee when early in their investigations they discovered what a bewildering variety of activities fall within the untidy boundaries of the words as commonly used. They found they had to draw boundaries, and in producing a report they made the focus of it the voluntary organisations which deal with the personal social services. They have thus excluded the voluntary organisations for youth which, in view of the fact that the sponsor, the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust, has done such a tremendous amount of work for youth for so many years past, I find a little surprising.

For many years the organisations for youth have been influencing the lives of young persons throughout the land and they have shown considerable adaptability to the changing circumstances of the years. In this connection we should remember and pay tribute to the work of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme which has given a great impetus to these organisations in helping them to become more forward-looking and also, by associating them together and with the schools, in breaking down social barriers and those natural jealousies of youth which are inherent in pride in their own organisation, but which can be carried too far. In recent years the Duke of Edinburgh's Scheme has been substantially reinforced by the Army youth teams. The withdrawal of these teams will be acutely felt by certain organisations—to my mind a serious casualty of the defence cuts.

I have heard it said that there are too many organisations for youth. I should like to refute that; there is a virtue in the multiplicity of them. In this land the conditions under which youth grows up are many and varied, and many and varied are the characteristics of the individual boy or girl. The voluntary principle requires that youth should be free to choose the kind of organisation they want to join and therefore within limits the more of these organisations there are the better. There is virtue in diversity.

This report discusses at some length the problem of fund raising. This is of special importance to voluntary youth organisations, for by and large they are utterly dependent on the funds they raise themselves from friends and charitable trusts. I would therefore ask the Government to give serious consideration to the recommendation in the Goodman Report that convenanted donations should be allowable against the higher value of income tax. In this respect, I strongly support the plea of my noble friend Lady Young. I should like to go further to a point mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Allen of Abbeydale, of which the Goodman Committee took a poor view. It is that as in the United States of America and other enlightened countries all charitable gifts are tax deductible. The Wolfenden Committee does not see this as a solution to the financial problems of the voluntary sector. I hesitate to disagree with the Committee, but so far as voluntary youth organisations are concerned it would be near disaster if they had to rely on statutory funding.

I must admit that the modest grants which the State presently gives to youth organisations are very acceptable, and more significant perhaps are the grants from local authorities. But do the former balance what the State extracts by VAT on sales of equipment, uniforms and so forth, and do the grants by local authorities normally exceed what the youth organisations themselves are paying by way of rates? I was greatly interested in what the noble Lord, Lord Pitt of Hampstead, said about this. I consider it was a notable contribution to our debate. I do not suggest that our system of tax covenants should be done away with. But for them our churches and youth organisations would be bankrupt and the State would have to go to their aid with all the disadvantages and bureaucracy that would necessarily follow.

On this question of finance for voluntary organisations, I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to a peculiar anomaly. It concerns amateur sports. Charitable trusts are discouraged from helping amateurs either in clubs or individually; for example, in training for Olympic or Commonwealth games. If a charitable trust should make a grant, say, to a rugby football club to enable it to purchase and lay out a field on which to play, that charitable trust will receive from the Inland Revenue a demand to pay to them a sum of about half the grant they have made. Indeed the Inland Revenue may hint to them that they must not make any such grant in the future.

Amateur sport is surely a priority for the youth of the land. Amateur clubs are financed mainly by their members past and present. Why do we put very real difficulties in their way? The objection may be raised that the law cannot define what constitutes amateur status. If such objection can be justified, I would suggest an easy way of overcoming it in respect of such grants and of private donations as well. The State has set up sports councils and they are doing a very good job and are in touch with amateur sport. Let them be asked to certify that a specific voluntary organisation is bona fide amateur. Such a certificate should satisfy the Inland Revenue. This anomaly has been going on for some time, but the magnitude of it has only recently been generally appreciated. I wonder whether the Minister for Sport is aware of this; and, if not, whether he would give the matter his urgent consideration.

There is one final point. There is more to the voluntary youth organisations than just their good effect upon the youth of the nation. There is very much more. It is the effect that the youth organisations have on their leaders: how the leaders develop their characters through voluntary service to a quite phenomenal degree; how they develop a sense of duty, a sense of unselfishness and, in certain organisations, a deepening of their faith. This was the point made by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Saint Albans. I was glad to hear him make it. This benefit is not exclusive to the voluntary organisations, but you will find it in far greater degree in the leaders than almost anywhere else in our society. The benefits that the voluntary organisations give to their leaders is nothing new. It is more than 80 years since a wise Scotsman said of the pioneer of these youth organisations that the Boys' Brigade was worth founding if only for its effect upon its officers.

6.1 p.m.


My Lords, of course one is only too happy to do what one can to support voluntary organisations. The Joseph Rowntree Memorial Trust and the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust are greatly to be congratulated for making public the results of the work of the committee which they set up to study the role and functions of voluntary organisations in the United Kingdom during the next 25 years. It is understandable that they wanted information of a general kind that could help them in the allocation of their own funds and in their relation to statutory bodies; but such questions are more often treated internally and confidentially. We are in their debt for making their study public.

In some ways this debate might be said to be premature. It could, perhaps, have been delayed for a month for I understand that the National Council of Social Service is shortly to have a one-day seminar on the report; although some organisations are glad that it has come before your Lordships' House so quickly. Others that I have consulted feel that they have hardly had time to read and discuss it with all the carefulness it deserves. They have also found the report difficult to procure. It would certainly have made debate easier if the professionals had had their say first. I say "professionals" because one must regard the organisers of voluntary organisations as professionals, since in most cases they do genuinely develop an expertise in their fields.

I listened with great attention to what the noble Baroness, Lady Young, said, and I agree with almost everything she said. But when one reads that 120,000 charities were registered with the Charity Commission in 1975, and then that this committee interviewed a total of 320 bodies—well, there does seem to be rather a gap; although to have interviewed all of them would be beyond the capacity of a Hercules.

I agree warmly with the report where it suggests that voluntary organisations need to look at themselves critically at regular intervals of, say, five years. I think that on such occasions they need to look to the future as this committee has done. One point that has been put to me very strongly concerns the admirable work of the British Limbless Ex-Servicemen's Association. They have developed great expertise; but is there any reason why this expertise should not also become available to civilian limbless? This particular institution has been invaluable in its service during the past half-century or so but, surely, by now, it is a gradually dying concern because Britain has not had to engage in a major war—thank Heaven! we have to say—for more than 30 years; with the inevitable result that the number of limbless ex-Servicemen is dwindling. The need for a separate society or association for Servicemen in particular is certainly not the same today as it was in 1919 or, for that matter, in 1945. I give this example only because it seems to me an excellent one of how a valuable organisation may need to change its face and to adapt its aims to changed circumstances, and also that the expertise that it has acquired should not be lost but rather be made available to the statutory and other bodies engaged in parallel work.

My Lords, in certain respects one must regard this report as little more than hors d'oeuvres to what is obviously a vast subject. With about a thousand new voluntary organisations being registered every year, with the Charity Commission, it is plainly impossible to set bounds to a subject which by Statute ranges all the way from what is purely social welfare to archaelogy. So far as archaeology is concerned, it seemed a little strange that neither the British Academy nor the Society of Antiquaries were consulted. As an old fan of Sir Mortimer Wheeler, Rik Wheeler, I felt this with particular force; he would have been much put about. The terms of reference of the voluntary organisations are as broad as humanity itself.

My Lords, in a pluralistic society it is surely good that the voluntary sector should expand and that it and the statutory bodies should agree with each other to avoid unnecessary duplication. Each week when I am at home during the Recess of your Lordships' House, I see Meals-on-Wheels being taken to neighbours nearby, and I reflect what an enormous cost it would be to the Government if this wonderful service were not undertaken voluntarily. I see people who happily give up a few hours one day a week, and some not so often, to help their neighbours. Surely there are areas which are best left to private endeavour and in which Government, like the angels, should avoid treading.

At the same time it seems to me of the highest importance that Government funds should, so far as they are available, concentrate upon intermediary bodies and especially in the provision of paid organisers; because it is upon the organisers that continuity depends. Under the old Colonial Development and Welfare Act, grants were made available for as much as five years at a time. I see no particular reason why positions such as I have described should depend upon only annual grants-in-aid voted to particular organisations, and should not statutorily be available for longer periods. I do not see how efficient continuity can be secured other than by the creation of paid posts for organisers in any but the smallest organisations. It is only through these intermediary bodies that Government can find out and judge whether money is to be suitably and well spent. In particular I would hope that organisations that set out to persuade persons to help themselves—and I am thinking, in particular, of the Gingerbread groups—should continue to receive their grants from the Government as well as any monies received from local authorities for their local groups because of the importance of their co-ordinating and campaigning work from their central office.

All the same, I am eager, indeed anxious, that all charities, even when grant-aided by Government or local authorities, should be allowed to continue to have the right to criticise constructively the actions or non-actions of Government. The National Council for One-Parent Families, for instance, values its independence although it receives substantial Government support. This sort of relationship is unique to our country. In our democratic system the right to criticise within reason without fear of the consequences is an essential element; and everyone knows in their private capacity that, as one grows older, constructive criticism becomes harder and harder to come by.

I am particularly taken by some remarks that the noble Baroness, Lady Young, made in the House on 2nd February, 1977. Her words related particularly to people helping themselves. I believe that our social policies must be designed primarily to help the retired to help themselves—what used to be known as the doctrine of enlightened self-interest; which today means, for us, that by encouraging the retired to help themselves they indirectly help us all. For me, in that sentence, the noble Baroness drew a very accurate boundary between what can be expected from the State and what should be expected from the individual: for ultimately everything depends on the good disposition of the individual. As Edmund Burke once said in another place, for evil to triumph it is only necessary for good men to do nothing.

My Lords, there is another point that I would make to which several noble Lords have referred. In the United States' system of taxation, tax relief is allowed on all gifts to charities, even on what one puts into the church collection. This is an encouragement to the donor because it lowers his tax threshold; but it is really because Americans believe that spontaneous giving is worthy of encouragement. I do not speak in ignorance of the United States; I have lived there for three and a half years.

It is not always realised that many people who would give most reality find themselves in an income bracket where they can be nervous of donating to charity because of the weight of taxation. Within my knowledge, both many organisers and people in general have no idea of the concept of a covenant which makes it possible for the donee to recover the tax paid. I have personal recollections of a parish priest whose parish council obstinately refused to believe that they would gain a rebate of income tax from a covenant of annual payments for seven years; they simply did not believe it. Surely, having recognised the principle, the Government should encourage such donors.

6.11 p.m.


My Lords, I must apologise to the House and, in particular to the noble Baroness, because I could not be here at the beginning of the debate to listen to her speech. There was a clash of business and the committee on agriculture in the EEC, of which I am an active member, met this afternoon (it generally meets in the mornings) and I had to divide my time. I apologise to the noble Baroness, and I shall read everything she said with the greatest interest.

There is not much that one can say after so many speeches and after so long a time. I particularly want to take part in this debate because the noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden, and I are not only great friends but we both served on the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust, and it was the Carnegie Trust and the Rowntree Trust which inaugurated this inquiry. I think it is a most valuable document and everyone to whom I have listened in this debate has paid tribute to the excellence of the report. The only fault that they could find is that it does not have everything in it; but it has much more in it than most people could possibly have managed if it had not been for the skill of the chairman and his devoted work in attending so many meetings and organising so many interviews and inquiries throughout the whole country. We are extremely grateful to him.

I can never resist taking part in debates on voluntary organisations because they have been my interest for all my working life. I have always been associated with voluntary organisations. Next Tuesday I shall attend the 50th anniversary of the first club that I started in Hackney in the 1920s. So that is a reminder that one has had a long association with many of these organisations.

The report gives a very encouraging account and build-up of the work of the voluntary organisations. Five million people take part voluntarily in this work every year, and that is a tremendous contribution. Some £1,000 million of voluntary money is contributed to voluntary organisations, in addition to whatever money is donated by the Government or by local authorities. This is a splendid fact and we should be extremely proud in this country of this situation. There are two aspects of the report that I should like to talk about: the experiments and the initiative for new work which voluntary organisations provide every year. I have always thought that it is one of the important things that voluntary organisations can do, they can start a new job or a new piece of research and attempt to get it on its feet. If it fails—which it sometimes does—that is also an answer because it is much easier and less costly for a voluntary organisation to start something and discover that it is not what is needed than it is for a Government to start something and then have to give it up. The proposition of trying out new ideas is one that the voluntary organisations must continue to do because they are the pioneers in this. It is very important that it does not involve public funds but does involve experiments, and experiments are always worth trying.

One of the new developments—and I am talking now from long experience of voluntary organisations—is that of the mutual aid organisation springing up spontaneously to meet new needs. I can readily think of the ones that I know best: the pre-school play groups, which have not been in existence for very long, are a tremendous success. They involve the mothers of small children and it makes a community relationship of the greatest value. I pay great tribute to their work.

The National Council for One Parent Families and the organisation called Gingerbread—which the noble Lady, Lady Kinloss, mentioned—are new organisations which are springing up because, unfortunately, there are things happening in the world today which require this kind of service. There are the organisations for battered wives. It seems to me a most horrible description, but, alas, it is all too true. The organisations helping these unfortunate cases are very important indeed.

The National Society for Autistic Children, which I helped to start some eight years ago, is doing a marvellous job. Nearly everyone who belongs to it has an autistic child. They are doing the work themselves; they are the people who are pioneering and are getting help from the professionals. The National Council for the Single Woman and Her Dependants—I believe this has already been mentioned—is another of the mutual aid groups which are cropping up and are so very important. In the country, where I live, there is the organisation for riding for the disabled which started only a short time ago. Although it is mostly confined to country areas it has been a tremendous success. This is largely due to mutual aid; the organisation is provided by people living in country areas. All these organisations are springing up spontaneously out of need and are started by people who are involved themselves. They are a new development which I hope will continue in the future.

The other aspect that I wanted to mention is the relationship between the voluntary and statutory organisations, between local authorities and voluntary organisations. The noble Lord, Lord Pitt of Hampstead, gave some figures which were startling in so far as they were so diverse and so different. I suppose if one went to the county areas of the United Kingdom one would find many differences. Speaking personally, I have not found it difficult to enlist the support of the voluntary organisations. In the area, where I was chairman of first the children's committee and then the social work committee, by insisting—with no difficulties—that social workers kept in close touch with the voluntary organisations. We had a conference of all the voluntary organisations in the area. We discussed with them the actions they could take to supplement what was a very small group of professional workers in not a very large area.

As has been mentioned before, we received tremendous help from the WRVS, Meals-on-Wheels, CAB work, play groups and from the club activities for adolescents. The noble Lord, Lord Balerno, has spoken about youth organisations. I found that if one asked youth organisations to visit day centres for old people, or carry out any social work in the evenings, they were only too delighted to do so. There was a real liaison between young people and old people because it was very much like visiting a friendly granny; and it worked extremely well. Those liaisons between the voluntary and statutory authorities require only a little contact and encouragement. A tremendous amount of work can be carried out in that way.

This is important and saves local authorities any amount of money. It is much easier and much cheaper to get additional help; but that is not the reason that one wanted to do it, but because the voluntary organisations could make their contribution, and they were first class. It was that contribution that one wanted to enlist.

There are chapters in the report on fund raising; but of course it was not their remit to discuss fund raising. I should like to support very much those people who have talked about the American system. I am sure we ought to look into this more closely. Inevitably it is more difficult for voluntary funds to be subscribed since the very high taxation in this country puts a "stopper" on the generosity of many people. I pay tremendous tribute to those organisations who do manage to raise millions of pounds every year—organisations like the Red Cross and St. John, Dr. Barnardo's, Help the Aged, Oxfam, Save the Children, and so on. It is fantastic what they raise and it is another way of involving people in social work, because there are a certain number of people who love raising money. It is one of the things they are good at and it is a contribution they can make. It is extremely important to encourage that as much as possible, because that is their contribution; whereas other people simply hate raising money and will not touch it. Their contribution is their own personal service and work.

So I think we should enlist the enthusiasm of people to embark on fund raising. It is a wonderful example of self-sacrifice and of caring for other people. As I say, even children enjoy raising money for local events and local work. This is something which I believe we can certainly encourage and it is also something which the Government can encourage. Having been on a local authority for many years, I can well imagine how difficult it is for those in authority to be able to give money where they want. On the other hand, it is so much better if you can say: "It's a pound for a pound. If they raise all that money, we can give so much". In that case, the justification is there and I would urge the Government to look at this not only as an obligation but as something which would get support from the public in their help for the voluntary organisations. I know that a tremendous amount of money is given because I have had a lot of money from Governments for various activities in which I have been engaged during my life.

The report points out the increase in grant-aid from the Government organisations, which has risen from £19 million in 1974 to £35 million in 1977. With inflation, that does not seem to me such a big figure but I am glad it is there because it shows that the Government appreciate the difficulties of voluntary organisations. But I think if one makes comparisons with the voluntary funds that are raised one would find that there is quite as large an increase in the amount being raised from that side as well. I would stress again something which I have always felt very strongly—which is that as much money as possible should go to the actual organisation and to the recipient, and that as little as possible should be spent on administration. Of course administration is necessary and it has to be jolly good. I would support those people who say that sometimes voluntary organisations have not as good an administration as they should have. That is perfectly true, but let us cut the administration down to as low a level as we can, with efficiency and care, and let us give as much money as possible direct to the recipient or to the person who is really going to be helped.

I hope that the report will underline for many people the enormous amount of voluntary work which is done today. It is widespread throughout the whole country; it is shared by all sections of the community and it is needed as much today as in any other period in the past. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden, will feel, having listened to this debate, that those of us who know and understand what he had done and what the Committee have given in the way of service, deeply appreciate the efforts that have been made. I hope it will spread all over the country and that the copies of the report which cannot be procured here today will be available in the future and that the voluntary organisations will recruit as many more assistants and help as they have done in the past, because this is today a vital service to our country.

6.25 p.m.


My Lords, like all the noble Lords who have already spoken, I should like to express my gratitude for the opportunity to discuss this report so soon after its publication, and to the noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden, his Committee and the two trusts which sponsored the report. I should perhaps mention that, while I am a director of a Rowntree Trust, I am not associated with the Rowntree Memorial Trust, of which the noble Lord, Lord Seebohm, is chairman and which is one of the joint sponsoring bodies. I am associated with the Rowntree Social Service Trust, which is almost unique in this country in that it is a non-charitable, tax-paying, grant-giving body, so structured as to be able to support those voluntary organisations which cannot, as the law at present stands, qualify for charitable status. It is about them primarily that I wish to speak. Therefore, I shall not detain your Lordships for long because these are a very small part of the whole world of voluntarism which the report covers. But I think they deserve an advocate in this debate because the report does not make the assumption which I realise is only too easy to make—that all voluntary organisations are charitable organisations.

I do not wish to dwell particularly on the main conclusion of the report, which is that more public funding may be needed for voluntary organisations. I would only say, from my limited experience of the Voluntary Service Unit, as one example of Government as philanthropist, that it has shown a considerable degree of tolerance, understanding and imagination, and credit is due to all those who are associated with it. But there is a danger that, however willing the Unit, applicants to it, as long as it is an integral part of the Home Office, will be suspicious of it—however unfairly—and to that extent will exercise self-censorship in making applications to it and in their own activities, as long as they are in receipt of, or hoping for, grants from it.

I do not think that the members of the Voluntary Service Unit and those concerned with Government funding will try to exercise control over things, but the danger is that, because of the selfcensorship, people feel they have to apply State funding, which can have a deadening effect, however beneficient the State. At some time in the future, and realising that the gain in doing so might be more psychological than real, it might be appropriate if the Unit could be hived off as part of a Ministry and set up as a body more akin to a grant-in-aid organisation, perhaps incorporating the grant-making functions of other Departments. I shared some of my years on the Community Relations Commission with the noble Lord, Lord Pitt. Heaven knows that some people were a bit suspicious of us, but I feel that a number of people who rightly approached us for money would not have dreamt of doing so had we merely been a Department of the Home Office.

But the one group which probably suffers most from the disease to which the report calls attention, the fall-off in private funds, and is least likely to benefit from the cure, public funds, concerns those voluntary organisations which are pressure groups whose activities do not qualify them for charitable status. In particular, I am concerned about national groups of this kind, since local groups are often able to raise funds for a finite purpose and for the time necessary from the excitement generated by the issue on which they are campaigning.

Not surprisingly, the report tells of suspicion of pressure groups by both Government Departments and local authorities. It would be too much to expect such bodies to welcome whole-heartedly the activities of pressure groups, and indeed I think it would be unhealthy if they did. But it follows from this that if more public funds were made available at national or local level, it is unlikely that the non-charitable pressure groups would benefit. Indeed, it is probably unwise that they should, for all the reasons spelt out in the report. Why should the taxpayers' or ratepayers' money be used to support causes to which they are opposed? But while business and trade unions, though evidently happy to give money to political Parties, generally confine their non-Party political giving to charities, while the individual philanthropist is a dying breed and while taxpaying trusts unrestricted by charity law are so rare, then increasingly it is going to become difficult for these groups to start and survive.

But I think they are useful. I believe that the existence of a tradition of vigorous dissent is an integral part of our national life, though I suppose there could be two opinions about that. But surely there could only be one that, on occasion, pressure groups do useful public work which is, by any standard, for the general good. For example, recently there has been an inquiry into the development of the fast breeder reactor at Windscale. The inquiry has been described as being one of the most important of our time, dealing with issues which have immense implications for future generations. Basically there were two opposing cases to be put to this inquiry. One was put forward by British Nuclear Fuels Limited, whose legal advisers were funded by its own—and therefore, in effect, public—funds. The main opponents of their case were the Friends of the Earth, a non-charitable pressure group, whose legal advisers had to be paid out of funds raised by the group in all the tedious ways such fund raising involves, and totalling £50,000. It seems to me that, whatever side one takes in the nuclear debate—and I do not myself pretend to understand it—it is incontrovertible that it was useful for the Inspector to be able to hear both sides of the case presented properly and that therefore it was a general public service that Friends of the Earth were represented at the inquiry.

Again, to take a local case where the funds needed exceed the capacity of the local community to raise them, objectors at motorway inquiries not only perform a self-interested function in appearing at these inquiries to put alternatives to the Ministry's road building plans: they also provide a general service in publicly querying the Department's plans; and, indeed, as one gathers from the Leitch Report, it is just as well that they have been doing so. But, to take one example, the action group opposing the building of the M3—Winchester link had to raise £20,000 to pay for their consultant's fees.

I believe, in general, that the present legal definition of "charity" needs revising. But even if it were revised, to allow many organisations which cannot at present get charitable status to get it, and to allow many existing charities to engage in the kind of activities from which they are at present debarred, many organisations, including perhaps the Friends of the Earth and ad hoc groups of environmental protesters, would rightly fall outside it. I suspect that no revision of charity law can be acceptably made so wide that the general propagandist activities of highly committed pressure groups could fall within it. I wonder, though, whether such organisations could, on an occasion such as the Windscale inquiry, in particular, be granted special licence on that occasion to raise untaxed charitable funds for that specific purpose only.

I do not believe that such a scheme would be difficult either to administer or to police, if only because applications worth considering would probably not be very numerous. I suggest that the Charity Commissioners would be empowered to issue such licences, since the decision required—what is or is not for the general good—is one which they are well used to making. The submission of separate, audited accounts would prevent abuse.

I realise that such a scheme would not solve the problem, which I think may become urgent, of keeping alive constructive dissent in this country. Nor would it totally eliminate the present disparity of resources between official proposers and private objectors. To do that would require a more radical proposal, to which I suspect I know the answer were I to propose it today. But, at least, it would, on those occasions when a particular scheme or activity by a pressure group was clearly in the general public interest, make it easier for them to raise funds. That is because they would then, for example, be able to be funded from among the thousands of charitable trusts which can give money only to legally recognised charity, even though, of course, covenanting would not be appropriate for the kind of case that I have described. I certainly hope, in the continuing debate which I trust will go on after today, about the future of voluntary organisations and the reform of charity law, that the problems of these groups will not be forgotten, and that some such scheme as the one I have described will be considered.

6.33 p.m.


My Lords, may I start by congratulating both maiden speakers, the noble Viscount, Lord Knutsford, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Truro, on making concise and clear contributions founded on a depth of experience, and limited to a span of time which augurs very well for the days when, their maiden speeches behind them, they can launch themselves unafraid upon the waters of controversy. I look forward to the launching with enthusiasm.

This report is not, and its author told us that it is not, intended to be a plain man's guide to the social services in their relation to the voluntary effort. It has, however, concentrated a great deal of attention upon an area in which that attention was badly needed. It has lit a bonfire which has illuminated not only a great many trees, but also a great deal of the wood itself. It has chiefly concentrated its attention on the personal social services and has therefore, as has been remarked, excluded the vast majority of voluntary work which it terms the "informal sector". Of course it is that informal sector, let us not forget, which, by acting as the cement within the family and within the community, holds the whole fabric of society together and, to some extent, the organisations, both voluntary and statutory, are not required until it is necessary to repair a breakage where that cement has failed; they supplement it as well.

It is a feature of the voluntary sector that it draws out of the community and applies to it those very strengths and skills needed to bind it together. Whether we are talking about housing associations, self-help organisations, Mealson-on-Wheels, adult literacy tutors or hospital visitors, what we are discussing is the organised application of the fund of service and goodwill within a community to the needs of that community; and in the process, as the committee has rightly observed, a good deal is done to stimulate the self-awareness of the community within which the volunteers work. That may sound platitudinous, but I think it is not, because this phenomenon is taking place at a juncture in our history when it is of extreme importance.

In the rural areas in particular the sense of community is suffering an attrition more rapid and dangerous than we have ever known before. The situation in countless villages is this. The decline and, sometimes, the end of public transport has made individuals dependent upon private vehicles. This has coincided with a steady reduction of employment in agriculture, and a growing tendency for more and more people to commute to work, living all their most creative hours outside the community where they live. The next result is the closure of the village shop, under pressure of competition with the city supermarkets. The shop was one nerve centre of the village communications system; another, for three parts of the year, was the twice-daily meeting of mothers at the gates of the village school. All too often now that, too, has been closed down in favour of a larger, more cost efficient and, some think, more impersonal school some miles away. If the building is sold, then a central meeting place is lost as well.

Concurrently, the Church of England is rationalising the deployment of its clergy made necessary by the short-fall of manpower. All too often, again, this results in the amalgamation of parishes, the sale of the vicarage or rectory and a schedule of visiting to which no pastor can fully adhere. This third vital link in the community life passes, and those who remain often have to contend also with a pattern of services which are not only often experimental in form, but also irregular in time. In these circumstances, the involvement of some individual members of the community in serving its needs is not merely desirable, it is vital to its survival; and the survival of communities on this very human scale is, I think, vital to the balance of our anxious and stressful society.

All human beings ought to live and work within organisations of a scale that enable them to retain their identity, their individuality and their dignity. Instead we are, and have been, building factories where men become extensions of machines, tower blocks where families are pigeon-holed and commuter systems between the two in which workers are served up like toothpaste or sardines. This dehumanising element of scale necessarily occurs to some extent in our social services as well, since we have, of necessity, developed very large organisations to deliver services that are essentially intimate and personal in nature. You have only to take a small child to a large hospital to see what I mean. The larger the organisation and the wider the range of services it provides, the more baffling is it likely to be to the consumer whom it is designed to benefit. The very language developed by those who work within it may prove impenetrable to those who stand most in need of its help. And which of your Lordships has not wrestled despairingly with Government forms, with the benefit of an education much greater than that of those who normally turn to the social and welfare services for help?

Most people turn to social services only when they are in some kind of distress, and less than usually able to cope with the unfamiliar. If they once find themselves in a totally social service environment—if I may put it so, without intending any hostile comment—whether it be a prison, a remand home or a hospital, they very often stand in desperate need of reassurance of a kind which cannot be given by warders or nurses, simply because the waders and nurses themselves constitute part of the environment by which they are threatened. What is needed, then, is someone from the world outside, a visitor but, somebody familiar with the ropes, someone who is not "them", even if he is not entirely "us" either.

I do not want to imply by that that the social services, or any of the organisations to which I have referred, are inhumane. But I am saying that the fact of organisation itself often, for reasons of scale and efficiency, results in a dehumanising factor, and it is this which leads me to listen with great reservation to the marriage, which the noble Lord, Lord Soper, proposed in general terms, between the State and the voluntary sector. The effect of the voluntary worker in the circumstances I have described is hugely enhanced, simply because he works voluntarily or is the paid servant of a voluntary organisation.

Enough has been said about the pioneer role of the voluntary services for me not to expand upon it. I think that I should quickly pick up a point made in the Seebohm Report about the valuable service which the voluntary services play in producing a critique and yardstick to be applied to the statutory service, and vice versa. As it is the anniversary, (is it not?) of the publication of the report of the committee chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Seebohm, I think that he should be felicitated upon it and that that point should be underscored.

The value of the voluntary worker is very hard to assess, but when we see the Wolfenden Report's indication that some 5 million individuals are active in voluntary organisations in the relatively small area covered by its inquiry and that they contribute an effort equivalent to that of 400,000 full-time workers, your Lordships will agree that their contribution is very significant indeed in financial and work terms, quite apart from the fact that it is unique and could not be reproduced by other means.

Some 5 million workers are involved part-time. The adult literacy campaign alone accounts for over 40,000, and across the board I believe that more, not fewer workers will be needed as our society develops across the whole spectrum of need for voluntary provision. With the expected increase in the amount of leisure time available over the next decade, to which the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Saint Albans referred in an admirable contribution, this need should be easily supplied, and the benefit will be not only to those served but also to those serving, as the noble Lord, Lord Balerno, so ably illustrated.

It is clear from the report that the task of relating these vast resources to the infinitely various needs to which they can be applied is very formidable and that it will grow as the sector grows. Allied to this task is the function of integrating the efforts of voluntary workers with the planned activities of the authorities or organisations with which they are to co-operate. However, both of these functions are the duties of a new and very valuable kind of professional—the Voluntary Help Organisers or Voluntary Service Co-ordinators. I commend to your Lordships the report called Pivot which was published in March 1976 and sponsored by the King Edward VII Hospital Fund for London and the Volunteer Centre under the chairmanship of Geraldine Aves. This report has been referred to and it covers an important area; it represents a valuable supplement to the report which we are now considering and should be read with it.

We come to the question of finance and funding, possibly through intermediary organisations which were an interesting and important facet of the report and to which both the noble Lord, Lord Seebohm, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Truro gave their support. They may well provide an element in the marriage to which the noble Lord, Lord Soper, referred in general terms. Your Lordships will have noticed that throughout I have spoken, wherever possible, about the voluntary worker, not about the voluntary organisation. I regret that the terms of reference under which the committee worked were phrased so that the emphasis was on the organisation and not on the individual. I say that because I think this is the crux of the matter.

As I said before, organisation tends to be dehumanising. If we think simply in terms of what is the best organisation we can make, we are not necessarily going to make the best use of the people who are going to work within it. We have to determine, first, what are the problems; second, who are the people who can best tackle them; and, third, what organisation can we fit around them, not what can we fit them into. It is an important emphasis of approach and I hope that it will not be lost sight of when Government committees take up this review, because it is precisely against excessive organisation, uniformity and dirigisme that the voluntary worker is most effective.

The voluntary worker needs, first, to be effective—to see that what he does has effect, to feel fulfilled. It is important that he should be recognised and that his work should be recognised, and that he should be permitted to co-operate with professionals on something approaching equal terms. There are some areas in which he is better able to work than the professional and this should be recognised, as he should recognise the expertise which he, not being a professional, cannot command. He needs to be able and also to be expected, I believe, to work to high standards, though whether these should be enforced by a Government body I doubt. However, my limited experience in the Territorial Army and in other voluntary activities is that the expectation of the people at whose bidding or with whose assistance one is working is a very considerable stimulus to a high standard of work—as much so as the act of service itself in some cases. In many cases this will mean training, which again has to be funded.

The importance of what the voluntary worker does must be recognised, and I shall return to that point very briefly in a moment. However, all of this service costs money. Since so much has been said on the subject of funding, I would merely ask your Lordships to read again what has been said by noble Lords on all sides of the House about the importance of making available adequate funds—about the belief, which I share, that this spring is not running dry and that if less of it is syphoned off into the Exchequer, more than proportionately more will be made available to the voluntary services. I should like them to investigate the suggested reform of the taxation provisions for charities and, indeed, the suggested pound for pound or the 50p for £1 subvention from Government, possibly through an intervening body.

There has been some mention of the location of the Voluntary Service Unit, and there has been mention also of ministerial responsibility, about which there has been a certain amount of disagreement. Here we come upon something rather important, because the feeling seems to be that there should be a Minister with responsibility for social services. Some people would like him to have Cabinet rank. Others feel that since he has no portfolio he will have no considerable staff to back him up and, therefore, his voice will be piping against the wind. However, there was until recently a Minister in the Cabinet with responsibilities which overlapped in this area. They overlapped, it is true, in areas of voluntary work overseas. (Let us not forget the valuable work done for refugees and for world development in our concentration upon what is going on in this Kingdom, because I have seen very fine work done by young British people abroad in both services.) However, the Minister for Overseas Development, who was until recently a Cabinet Minister and who has a portfolio, could pick up this portfolio and might return, thus suitably loaded with additional luggage, to the Cabinet from whence he came.

We already have experience, and it is still going on, of the Minister working in conjunction with voluntary organisations, until recently through the body called VOCAD and now through two bodies: the Council for International Development and the Committee on Development Education. These, under either a ministerial chairman or an independent chairman, would do a great deal to foster voluntary activities with Government support but without too much steering from above. Allied with the intermediary sector interposing between them and local efforts, this may well be the marriage for which the noble Lord, Lord Soper, is looking, robbed of the impersonality which the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Truro fears, and providing a channel for the Government funding asked for by the noble Lord, Lord Seebohm, and again by the right reverend Prelate. Whether it will overcome the difficulties of finance alluded to in such very moving detail and passion by the noble Lord, Lord Pitt of Hampstead, I am not sufficiently expert to say.

I shall not weary your Lordships much longer. I should like to turn to just one other aspect which the report, quite rightly, did not touch on, but it is voluntary service and it illustrates how a voluntary service can contribute very largely to social welfare and save enormous sums of money. I refer to the Territorial Army Volunteer Reserve. It costs only 3 per cent. of the Army vote or 1.1 per cent. of the entire Defence budget, yet it provides 30 per cent. of the Army when mobilised for war. I have seen at first hand the way in which it has taken people, who would almost certainly within six months have been wrecking telephone kiosks or fighting on football pitches for want of a constructive outlet for their entirely proper social energies, and turned them into model and creative citizens who have gone on to help others in the same path. This is exactly the sort of injection we want into our society and it also saves some millions of pounds on defence. This needs to be recognised, and it needs to be recognised loudly because, like the rest of the voluntary agencies, the Territorial Army has to contend with employers who are competing for their services.

In conclusion, I must thank my noble friend Lady Young for introducing this debate, though with some reservation because it is not a joyful task to speak at the end of such a distinguished list!—and I say that with no mock humility at all. Those who read this debate and who do not have a copy of Who's Who beside them should know that we have heard a member of the Council of the British Red Cross and president of the London branch; we have had a chairman of the Field Work Committee of the Community Relations Commission; we have had a trustee of the Carnegie Trust; we have had the chairman of the Rowntree Trust and we have had the chief executive of the Rowntree Social Service Trust. I take those at random but there are many more. I cannot neglect to mention a maiden speaker, the chairman of the Board of Social Responsibility of the Church of England. This is a very distinguished list and it does much to support the claim of your Lordships' House that it is able to produce an unparalleled range of expertise on any subject to which it addresses itself. It is a great intimidation to those unqualified, like myself, who are expected to pipe against the wind at the end.

I would also thank the noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden, for his unremitting toil and great success in producing this report and precipitating this debate, and I think we ought also to thank the Joseph Rowntree Memorial Trust and the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust for showing, in such an exemplary manner, that charitable funds can be put to constructive work. That is all I have to say, except to thank all of your Lordships for contributing to a highly constructive debate.

6.53 p.m.

The MINISTER of STATE, HOME OFFICE (Lord Harris of Greenwich)

My Lords, I should like to begin by stating three propositions which I think will carry the general approval of the House. The first is to express my thanks and the thanks of everybody else to the noble Baroness, Lady Young, who has initiated this debate and provided us with the opportunity to have a debate with remarkable speed after the publication of the report we have been discussing, and providing us with the opportunity of hearing the chairman of the Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden, who has also been able to speak so vigorously today. Lastly, our thanks are due to the two maiden speakers, the noble Viscount, Lord Knutsford and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Truro. Both made impressive maiden speeches and I know that we very much look forward to hearing them on subsequent occasions.

I am sure the House will recall that we discussed this issue some two and a half years ago, when the noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden, gave us what was in fact an interim report on the work of his Committee which had been established in the preceding year. While I do not now hold the direct ministerial responsibility for the Voluntary Services Unit which I held at the time of that debate, I speak not only for myself but for my colleagues in the Home Office and in other Departments in stressing once again that the Government are committed to the support of the voluntary sector and to the encouragement of voluntary effort. The Committee under the noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden, addressed itself in the main to three principal audiences: to central Government, to local government and to the voluntary bodies. So far as the Government are concerned, a question was asked by the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, and as a first step the report of the noble Lord and his Committee is now being studied by an interdepartmental group of officials representing the principal Departments involved. I can assure the House that they will take careful note of what has been said in this debate this evening, and indeed of any representations that may be made to us generally about the report of the noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden, and his colleagues.

The report acknowledges that the Committee did not attempt to draw up a detailed programme for the development of the voluntary organisations over the next 25 years or so; and, as the noble Baroness, Lady Young, said, nor did it present us with the conventional summary of specific recommendations which are common in reports of this kind. If I may say so, I do not find the report any the less satisfactory for that reason and I spring to the defence of the noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden, on this point at least. But the Committee have promised a further instalment of the detailed research which was undertaken on behalf of the Committee and which is to be published later. I look forward to the results of this research with great interest, as I am sure does everybody else who has taken part in this debate today.

Meanwhile we have before us a very careful examination of the many issues which confront those who seek to think systematically in this field, a rather limited number of specific recommendations, and a wide-ranging call to examine our policies over this whole field. It will inevitably take some time for the Government to consider the conclusions of the Committee and I know that in this evening's debate noble Lords will not expect me to bring forward final or definitive proposals on behalf of the Government. Indeed it would be remarkable were I to attempt to do so, given the very limited amount of time we have had since the publication of the report of the Committee.

The Wolfenden Report acknowledges that individual Departments need to develop their own policies in respect of the voluntary organisations in the areas for which they are responsible, and certainly, as has been made clear in this debate, the Home Office has an important—indeed a central role. But out of expenditure of somewhere in the region of £35.5 million in 1976–77 on Government grants for voluntary organisations only £4.5 million was channelled through the Voluntary Services Unit in the Home Office. Nevertheless, at the same time the noble Lord's Committee would like us to go further in developing a comprehensive Government policy towards the voluntary sector which should take account of central Government, local authorities and the voluntary bodies themselves in some form of integrated strategy.

I should like to spend a few moments discussing the issues involved in developing just such a strategy. First, let me take a fairly obvious point. There is a great diversity of individuals and organisations in what is loosely called "the voluntary sector". There were 120,000 organisations registered as charities in 1975. And some research reported by the Committee showed that in the City of Birmingham alone over 4,000 different voluntary organisations are active. There are co-ordinating or intermediary bodies. There are groups based on special interests for special types of clients. There are advice services. There are local projects of many different kinds. In addition to the voluntary organisations, there are also the vast number of individual volunteers.

While the noble Lord's Committee may have properly omitted this aspect of work from its terms of reference, I do not think it would have been appropriate for us to have this debate today without discussing the role of the individual volunteer. Indeed, that has been done widely throughout the course of this debate. Through funding bodies like the Volunteer Centre, the Women's Royal Voluntary Service and the Community Service Volunteers, the Government are already doing a great deal to promote the use and deployment of individual volunteers in suitable placements. But, in addition, there is a great deal of spontaneous voluntary, service, and these groups in particular could regard with some measure of suspicion any suggestion of a detailed overall strategy. I think it is right to recognise the existence of that problem.

It is not for Government to decree how groups which are by definition outside Government should precisely organise themselves. The Wolfenden Committee saw the main national bodies, the Councils of Social Service in the four parts of the United Kingdom, as developing a representative role, and this may be indeed the way forward. There are undoubtedly many ways in which the National Council of Social Service has represented a very large number of voluntary organisations. At the same time the National Council is reported as having said to the Wolfenden Committee that views stated by them are not always based upon a consensus. And there is this problem. Clearly a large number of organisations are not affiliated to any of the national bodies. I put that particularly to the noble Baroness, Lady Hylton-Foster, who raised that point in her speech. It may be that time is required to see what direction evolution within the voluntary sector itself will take. But I hope it will be conceded that in answering the very reasonable request for a development of Government policy we cannot easily avoid the question of defining the group or groups towards whom that policy is to be directed. This is one of the matters on which we ourselves should welcome the views of the voluntary organisations.

There is another point upon which we would welcome the views of voluntary bodies. That concerns the functions of local intermediary bodies—this is a point particularly touched on by the noble Lord, Lord Seebohm—particularly their development rôle in partnership with local authorities. The Committee pointed out that the functions of intermediary bodies hold little popular appeal, and that because they could not exist solely by charging fees to the organisations which they served most of their funding could come only either from central Government or from local government. The Committee recognised that there were some difficult issues involved in deciding the criteria by which the funding of intermediary bodies should be defined. This again is an issue which the Government need to consider very carefully, taking account of the views of the voluntary bodies themselves.

I should like now to look a little more generally at the work of voluntary organisations. I think everyone recognises that voluntary organisations of the kind we have been discussing today have a crucial rôle to play in our society, and that the special and distinctive contribution of the voluntary sector can never be replaced by the yet further expansion of the statutory services. There will always be elements of need which are far more appropriately dealt with by voluntary effort. It is against this background that the Government have over many years supported the voluntary sector by various forms of grant aiding. This, as I have indicated, goes far wider than the Voluntary Services Unit and the Home Office.

Perhaps, before I go any further into this question of the Voluntary Services Unit, I should deal with a number of points which have been raised. The noble Baroness, Lady Young, the noble Lord who has just resumed his seat, and the noble Lord, Lord Banks, raised the question, which indeed is raised in the report of the noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden, as to whether the Voluntary Services Unit is appropriately sited within the Home Office. Well, this is clearly an arguable proposition. I have, if I may say so, no clearly defined trade union views on this point. If I may speak for a moment as a person who had ministerial responsibility for this for two years, I am not wholly persuaded that taking this Unit out of the Home Office would necessarily be as advantageous as some people consider, and largely for the reason given by the noble Lord, Lord Allen of Abbeydale. I am by no means persuaded that simple changes in the machinery of Government, the involvement of a non-departmental Minister, are necessarily to the advantage of voluntary organisations. Nevertheless, this is not a matter for a mere Minister of State; this is a matter for the Prime Minister. I am sure he will take note of the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden, and his Committee and consider this matter.

Having dealt with that general question of the machinery of Government in relation to the Voluntary Services Unit, let me discuss for a moment the present activities of that Unit, and indeed the activities of the Unit in the two and a half years since we had our last debate on this particular issue. I think that one of the most important areas of work in which the Unit has been involved is the work of the Volunteer Centre. As noble Lords will no doubt recall, this was established in 1973 following a recommendation by a joint committee of the National Council of Social Service and the National Institute for Social Work Training to inquire into the rôle of voluntary workers in the social services. Since its formation the Volunteer Centre has expanded its rôle of developing new opportunities for individual volunteers, voluntary organiisations and community groups working with the statutory services.

For example, last February a development officer was appointed to assist the work of volunteer bureaux in recruiting and placing volunteers. Projects have also been established on such urgent issues as the relationship between volunteers and paid workers, and media initiatives in encouraging community involvement. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Saint Albans referred to the work of volunteer workers in association with the Granada television service. I think this is a very good example. If there are going to be substantial appeals for large numbers of volunteers to come forward and these are transmitted over the whole independent television network, it is obviously important to think this matter through in very considerable detail. I think this gives one a very good illustration of the way in which the Volunteer Centre, supported by the Voluntary Services Unit, has been doing its work. Again in the past year the Centre has run four national conferences, numerous seminars, and eight residential training conferences.

The noble Lord's Committee, as I have indicated, concerned itself very much with the question of intermediary bodies, both national and local. The Voluntary Services Unit makes a substantial grant, as is, I think, generally known, to the National Council of Social Service. But in addition—this point was particularly touched on by the noble Viscount, Lord Knutsford—when problems arose of developing appropriate relationships among voluntary organisations and local authorities in the wake of local government reorganisation, funds from the Voluntary Services Unit were used to help to support development officer posts in each of the six metropolitan counties, excluding London. The functions of these officers are to help overcome those problems and to stimulate the development of councils of voluntary service in these areas. I think it will be recognised that this has been an initiative of great importance, particularly in regard to all the problems involved in the reorganisation of local government.

Yet another example of work which the Voluntary Services Unit continues to support on a significant scale is that of the Community Projects Foundation, until recently the Young Volunteer Force Foundation. The recent change of name reflects the increasing emphasis on the Foundation's involvement in community development work. As a national agency, it works through local projects to stimulate activity, and to help these bodies deal more effectively with the institutions which affect their day-to-day affairs. We also hope that with the change of emphasis a means will increasingly be found of making the Foundation's wide experience in this field available to other groups.

One last point about the Voluntary Services Unit. It has been much involved in the establishment of resource centres. These are now situated in Glasgow, Gateshead, London, Manchester and Merthyr Tydfil. Two of these have been developed in association with the Community Projects Foundation and one with the Gulbenkian Foundation. The centres seek to provide resources of information and expertise to assist community groups to develop schemes on their own initiative.

The venture is also, I think, of considerable interest because half the funding of three of the centres is provided under the Anti-Poverty Programme of the European Commission. EEC funds similarly contribute to another experiment again funded by the Voluntary Services Unit, in which six family day centres are tackling in different ways the problems of the poorest families in urban areas.

So much for the work of the voluntary Services Unit. But there are other areas in which the Government are looking for partnership with the voluntary organisations at local level. Let me mention two. First, the urban programme, which has been mentioned by a number of noble Lords in the course of the debate. From its beginning grants have been made available for schemes devised by voluntary organisations. These arrangements have now been extended to give additional help to the inner city areas.

From 1979–80 the Urban Programme will be increased to £125 million—a fourfold increase in its size. At the same time, the range of projects eligible for assistance will be extended to include economic and environmental schemes, as well as the social projects which made up the bulk of the traditional Urban Programme. It is inevitably too early to say how much of this additional money will go to the voluntary bodies under these new arrangements. But there will certainly be substantial new scope for voluntary projects in inner cities, particularly in the seven partnership areas which will receive the majority of the new resources which will be made available. But the rôle of the voluntary sector in inner cities will not be confined to undertaking specific projects. The Inner Cities White Paper recognised the need for the partnerships to draw on the ideas of local residents, to discover their priorities, and to enable them to play a practical rôle in the revival of their areas. Given the close relationship which many voluntary bodies have with the communities in which they work, they will undoubtedly have an important part to play in helping to bring this about.

The second important example I should like to give of the Government seeking to enlist the help of voluntary organisations relates to the work of the Job Creation Programme, and the new plan now being implemented under the Youth Opportunities Programme and the Special Temporary Employment Programme for Unemployed Adults. One-third of all the schemes under the Job Creation Programme have been promoted by voluntary organisations.

Under the new programmes, the Manpower Services Commission will again be relying upon schemes sponsored by existing organisations in which the voluntary sector will, of course, be widely represented. The Youth Opportunities Programme is not a Job Creation Scheme, but rather a programme which aims to try to provide a variety of opportunities for training and work experience for young people aged 18 and under. Among the types of programme envisaged are those with an emphasis on community service and training workshops. And these in particular will, I believe, attract the interest of the voluntary sector. The programme will provide a flat rate training allowance for young people who take part in these schemes. The Manpower Services Commission will also provide for sponsors to employ adults who may be recruited from those out of work to act as supervisors, managers and development officers. I believe that imaginative schemes of the character I have just outlined will be of substantial help to many young men and women who are, at present, unhappily out of work. I believe, again, that voluntary organisations will have a vital part to play in this particular development.

A number of detailed questions have been put to me by those who have spoken in the debate and I shall, if I may, now deal with some of those questions. The noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, raised a point about the National Council of Voluntary Child Care Organisations and asked why it does not have a member on the Council for Training and Education in Social Work and why only four out of, I think, the 67 members of that body represent voluntary organisations. I point out to the noble Baroness that a Working Party has been set up and is now considering the constitution of the Council. I shall certainly make sure that it is, of course, informed of what the noble Baroness has said, although I should like to make one matter clear. The present organisation is 67 strong. There is a general feeling that perhaps an organisation of slightly more modest numbers might be able to achieve a happy result. So, as I have indicated, the Working Party is, at present, at work, on this point, but there is a general feeling that there should be some diminution of the numbers in the particular organisation.

My noble friend Lord Longford raised the question of Chiswick Women's Aid. He will, I am sure, recognise that I do not want to go into detail about the most recent events, all the more so as there may conceivably, I understand, be a case before the courts. Chiswick Women's Aid was, in fact, the first refuge, as far as I am aware, for battered wives. Let me make it clear that the Government consider that Mrs. Pizzey who founded the refuge in 1972 deserves a great deal of credit for this pioneering achievement. No one, recognising the scale of the problem, can do other than admire her for her persistence. I reassure my noble friend that there is absolutely no question—I took his words down—of "cold-hearted indifference" as far as the Government are concerned. Indeed, the situation is that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of refuges of this kind. There are now over 120 of them in existence in Great Britain and urban aid of somewhere in the region of £350,000 is being made available for 51 local refuges this year. There is additional assistance from the Job Creation Programme. Therefore, I repeat that there is no question of any cold-hearted indifference so far as we are concerned.

The Earl of LONGFORD

My Lords, perhaps my noble friend will explain why the Chiswick Women's Aid does not itself receive any of this assistance today?


My Lords, I shall gladly make sure that my noble friend Lord Longford is made aware of the sitution as we see it. It is a long, detailed and complicated story as I am sure he recognises. What I have said to him indicates a dramatic increase in the number of refuges of this kind and therefore there can be no question of there being any indifference so far as the Government are concerned on this matter.

The noble Lord, Lord Balerno, raised a question about sport. He asked whether my right honourable friend the Minister for Sport is aware of the particular problem which he outlined. He will not be surprised to know that my right honourable friend is indeed aware of this particular problem, the view of the sports bodies and their desire to have the law changed on this matter. However, these particular questions are at present being considered within the Government in the light of the report on charities by the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, and it will be in that particular context that the matter will be reviewed.

My noble friend Lord Soper and the noble Lord, Lord Banks, raised a more general point. It is one which interested me in particular, for a reason with which I shall deal later. It is that, as they saw it—and I rather agree with their analysis—there are many respects in which the voluntary bodies can do pioneering, innovative work which would not necessarily be inappropriate for a statutory body, but which a statutory body might well approach with a fairly considerable degree of caution. I believe that that is true.

I have given one indication of pioneering work of this kind which has led to a very substantial investment of public funds. They said that there were circumstances in which the voluntary body could do the innovative work and then the statutory bodies could come in afterwards. That will, indeed, often be so. It will often be the case that after the pioneering work has been done central or local Government may take the project over, but, as I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Banks, will agree, that would not necessarily be so in all cases. In many respects I should be very happy for the voluntary organisations to continue their work after the initial period.

Let me give just one example—namely, probation hostels. There are a significant number of probation hostels run by voluntary organisations; there are also probation hostels which are run by probation and after-care committees. I do not favour a policy of widespread municipalisation, if I may use that term without it causing any offence in any direction. I believe that in some cases it will be necessary for probation and after-care committees to take over voluntarily run hostels for a number of reasons, some of them financial. But in many other cases it will be absolutely right for the voluntary organisation to continue work in that particular direction. Indeed, I took a recent opportunity of making it clear, to a representative of the voluntary organisation which is responsible for that, that that is the Government's policy.

My noble friend Lord Pitt of Hampstead raised the Urban Aid Programme and a number of questions about the structure of the programme. Certainly I shall draw what he said to the attention of my right honourable friend. I am sure that he does not expect me to announce this evening a dramatic change in the Government's approach to the Urban Aid Programme. Nevertheless, he made a formidable speech and, as I have indicated, I shall make quite sure that my right honourable friend the Home Secretary is made aware of it.

The noble Lady, Lady Kinloss, raised a problem which I believe is common to many voluntary organisations—that is, an anxiety that if they take financial support from the Government, there is some danger that they are in some way putting themselves at risk if their make controversial statements or speeches or take up positions. That is a very understandable fear. However, I am glad to say that it is not one of which I have had any particular experience.

Let me give one example. The Home Office itself makes a substantial amount of money available to the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders—NACRO. I have seen several NACRO projects, not least some extremely interesting work which it has recently been doing in Manchester. As a result of its work in these particular projects, it receives a fairly substantial sum of public money. On the other hand, NACRO constantly and consistently criticises Government prison policy. Sometimes, one is bound to say, one is mildly irritated by what it says; but, on the other hand, it is very good for Ministers to be irritated—it makes them rather more active in some respects. Therefore, I believe that this is a good example of where the Home Office, in fact, provides a form of loyal opposition. It is a very good idea indeed that we, in fact, have an organisation which is doing useful work on the ground, but which is also arguing, discussing and sometimes criticising us quite sharply for what it regards as mistaken polices.

I have dealt, inevitably, with only some of the speeches that were made in the course of this debate. I apologise to those noble Lords with whose points I have not dealt. I hope that I have indicated in the broadest terms our initial response to the report of the Committee presided over by the noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden. I have given an indication of the high priority that the Government continue to give to their relationship with voluntary organisations.

We emphatically do not believe that every problem facing our society can be dealt with exclusively—or even primarily—by central or local Government. Quite apart from the fact that this is not economically possible, neither is it desirable; in many important areas I believe it is of great advantage to be able to rely upon the work of voluntary organisations. That being so, it is clearly essential that the Government should do everything possible to assist them in their work. But the emphasis, I must repeat, is on the word "assist"; it cannot possibly be "direct". I believe that we have already done a substantial amount to assist the voluntary sector. But there are not the slightest grounds for any complacency. We can and should do a great deal more, and we are determined to do so.

7.26 p.m.

Baroness YOUNG

My Lords, I, too, should like to take the opportunity to thank all those who have taken part in the debate this afternoon. I should like to thank especially the noble Lord, Lord Wolfenden. It is not every parent, no matter how proud they are of their baby, who wishes to submit it to a public debate and discussion. On listening to the debate—and, I have no doubt, reading it—I hope that he will feel that this afternoon's debate has been worthwhile.

We have been very fortunate in the number of noble Lords who have been willing and able to take part. I know that they have had to give up their time in the midst of very busy lives to come here today. This has been an opportunity not only to oblige us all to read the report, which is the first and most important thing, but I believe that every speaker has emphasised the importance and value of the report. If there have been criticisms they have been of a constructive nature, and they have been criticisms by friends who are anxious to promote the same good cause.

May I also thank the two maiden speakers, the noble Viscount, Lord Knutsford, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Truro. I hope that we shall hear from them on many occasions in the future. I should very much like to take this opportunity of placing on record my gratitude to the very many voluntary organisations which have taken the trouble both to talk and to write to me in preparation for this debate.

I recognise, as I said at the beginning, that we are debating the Wolfenden Report very shortly after its publication, and this inevitably creates difficulties for those who wish to prepare their thoughts upon it. But I raised this topic because I believe the subject matter to be of such enormous importance not only to the voluntary organisations but to the country as a whole, and I believe it is one of urgency. What is really important now is what happens next, and I should like, in conclusion, to thank the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, for his encouraging and helpful remarks. I am pleased indeed to hear that the voluntary organisations are going to be fully consulted and their views taken into account by the Government. What happens next must be for another day, and, on that, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.