HL Deb 16 December 1981 vol 426 cc237-70

7.59 p.m.

Lord Young of Dartington rose to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have considered the recommendations of the report on West Indian Children in Our Schools (Rampton Report, Cmnd. 8273) and what action they intend to take to put them into effect.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I do not think that anyone in this House would want to argue—and I am sure that the Minister who is going to reply for the Government will not want to argue—that the education of West Indian children is of no importance to their country, or that the Rampton Report, which is on this very subject, is therefore of no interest to their country.

The noble Lord who will be replying later was courteous enough to tell me in advance that consultations are still proceeding with the corporate bodies that surround the Department of Education and Science like mosquitoes around the Zambezi, and that they have been given their D-day later this week, Friday, for submitting to the department their views on the report. He therefore warned me—and I am grateful to him—that he would not he able to say anything very positive about the Government's reaction when he replied to this debate. Despite that warning I am ever hopeful—perhaps because I am in the party that I am in at the moment—that he will be able to say something at least moderately positive and deal with some of the questions I am going to raise and some of those which will be raised by other noble Lords who have taken the trouble to stay for this debate.

May I say at this point how grateful I am to those noble Lords who have stayed on, particularly as some are a good deal more knowledgeable on this subject than I am. I am particularly grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Swann, who has taken over the chairmanship of the committee and will he taking part later in the debate. I am also grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, who has the unique advantage of having been a member of the committee both when it was under the chairmanship of Mr. Anthony Rampton and now under that of the noble Lord, Lord Swann. I look forward very much to hearing what they have to say.

My plea—it is an obvious one, I know—is that there should be a positive response from the Government early in the New Year to the Rampton Report. I put forward this plea with all the more urgency because there was just a hint from Dr. Rhodes Boyson in the Adjournment Debate on 6th July, initiated by a fellow member of the Social Democrats, that the Government might not want to say much, if anything, about Rampton until the Swann Report had been submitted, which we are told might be something like two years hence. I hope the noble Lord opposite will be able to reassure me, and I think others, not only in this House but outside it, that this suspicion is altogether unfounded and that early in the New Year there will be a positive and full response on the interim report taken on its own.

After that introduction I should like to set the scene very briefly by a sketch of the history or what might perhaps be called the pre-history of the Rampton Committee. Going back some 10 years, I think it can be said quite fairly that Governments of all parties had warning even then of what was to come. In 1971 a report from the National Foundation of Educational Research, which was financed by the DES, stated that unless West Indian needs were met with, something at least approaching the urgency with which many LEAs are tackling the question of Asian, Italian or Cypriot language, there is likely to be an increasingly high proportion of West Indian under-achievers, both in school and in employment.

Unfortunately, this is very much what has happened. This was known right through the 1970s. There were rumbles through the decade on the subject and in 1977, as the Minister will know even better than I do, the Select Committee on Race Relations urged that the Government should mount an inquiry into the performance of West Indian children in the schools. I am afraid it has to be accepted that on this question all Governments have been palsied. The last Government were not quick to act, any more than this Government have been so far; but when Shirley Williams was appointed as Secretary of State she did act and she did establish the Rampton Committee. That, in the view of many students of the subject, marked a considerable advance. At least it represented the recognition by the Government of the seriousness of a whole set of very complex issues surrounding this matter.

Fortunately, for once—it is a happy occasion to this degree—there was actually some continuity between the Governments. There was no reversal of policy between one Government and the other, and the establishment of the committee was confirmed. The terms of reference included the instruction that, … early and particular attention should be given to the needs of West Indian children and interim recommendations made at an early date. with this injunction, the committee, within a little over a year of starting work, produced an interim report and submitted it to the Government in February of this year. On the face of it, I think all fair-minded people would regard this as a remarkable achievement on the part of the committee and its chairman. Mr. Rampton coaxed suspicious groups—West Indian and others—to give evidence to his committee, just as Scarman had to do something over a year later, and from the very diverse members of the committee on a highly contentious subject succeeded in producing a unanimous report: an outcome which very few people would have thought possible earlier.

So far, so good, one would have thought—until something went wrong. The noble Lord opposite may know better than I what went wrong, but it seems that some time earlier this year the DES took fright. Why, I do not know; but, just as a conjecture, my suggestion is that at any rate it seemed—it is difficult to get at the truth, I know—that the DES thought the report might give support to people who might want to blame schools, and indirectly the department itself, for not giving a firmer lead and for the part they may have played, indirectly perhaps, in the riots which in April broke out in Brixton and spread out from there, and which produced, as Scarman in his report said recently: the most serious civil disorders in this country this century "— and in my view the most serious civil disorders since Bloody Sunday nearly a century ago in 1887.

However, for whatever reason, the chairman was sacked and the report, although not published, was leaked to The Times—and in the beginning to The Times alone. As has happened before—many of us have some experience of this—with reports that Governments do not like, though never on this scale to my memory, the report was peppered with a fire of disparagement before it was published. It was published in June, and I think we can say that from then on the tone began to change because people could see for themselves what was in it, rather than seeing from incorrect reports what was supposed to be in it. The Economist, for instance, which I do not think can be expected to have a particular bias on this question, noting that Mr. Rampton was the chairman of a large mail order firm and the biggest private employer in Brixton perhaps, said: The present Government says it is in favour both of successful businessmen and of good race relations. By his rudeness to Mr. Rampton, Mr. Carlisle has struck a tiny blow against both. All the more reason why the Government should now make amends by a full, generous and positive response to the recommendations in that report. I hope very much that they can do this without delay, and the Minister may have a few more words to say to us on that at the end of the debate.

I think it is not unfair to say that the report that we are debating had a sour reception before it was published, a sweet and sour reception when it was—not all newspapers were as complimentary as the Economist—and it has appeared steadily sweeter as time has gone on in this highly difficult year which is now coming to an end. The Select Committee on Racial Disadvantage had very warm words in July for the report and said, among other things, that there would be a great intensity of disappointment—and hoped that the Secretary of State would realise this—if he was half-hearted in his response to the recommendations of the report.

When the Scarman Report came, it acknowledged the help of the Rampton Committee, broadly supported what that committee had said and particularly attributed to education—as it was able to do within its terms of reference—some part in the riots, on the grounds that under-achievement among West Indian children was partly responsible for the appallingly high rate of unemployment among West Indian youngsters. There is no doubt at all, according to Scarman and, I think, any other observer of the scene, that these high rates of unemployment in Brixton. Toxteth and other places have played their part in the dreadful disorders that have marred this year.

The Scarman Report also recognised that some members of the police service were racially prejudiced and said that every possible step should be taken to root out racialism in the police service. These remarks, and somewhat similar remarks in the report of the Select Committee, put in a new light what had been said in the Rampton Report which, at the time of publication, seemed particularly outspoken. The report referred to racism, racial prejudice and discrimination and the part that had played in the low achievement of West Indian children; one implication of the evidence being that West Indian children may be stereotyped in schools as low achievers, in the way that some Asian children are not.

The report quoted the evidence of the National Union of Teachers which said, among other things, that attitudes of racial intolerance, prejudice and a stereotyped view of ethnic minority groups will often percolate through into schools. I am afraid that some other trade unions have not been similarly enlightened on this subject. Anyway, it has turned out that what Rampton said, and said first, is what in other settings both the Select Committee and the Scarman Report have said later on.

It is only fair to say, as a result of this, that the general view now is that the Rampton Report on under-achievement was a very much under-appreciated report. It is notable not just for its analysis, but for its impressive list of recommendations upon which it urges the Government, local authorities and other bodies to act. I think that other noble Lords and Baronesses who will take part in this debate will have more to say about those recommendations.

I want to mention only one point, because it struck me very forcefully. The main theme of the report of the Plowden Committee on primary schools, of which I had the honour to be a member, was—to sum it up in one-half of a sentence—that learning begins at home and that the relationship between home and school is of crucial importance. The Rampton Report referred to the study, which seems to me an extremely interesting and important study, done by the Thomas Coram Research Unit, which showed that reading standards among West Indian children and others were raised—and, presumably, can be raised more generally—when schools encouraged parents to help their children at home. That is when the relationship between teachers and children is not only a direct one, but an indirect one around the vital triangle of teacher, children and home with teachers busying themselves to try to influence parents directly, and bring them into the educational process as equal partners.

I must come back to my main plea. Fortunately, there is now a new Secretary of State who is known for his humanitarian sympathies. He once inaugurated a big national debate on the cycle of disadvantage between generations, which is highly relevant to what is happening now. He took that initiative when he was in the Department of Health and Social Security and it has been vigorously followed up by the Social Science Research Council. He has an opportunity to act in the tradition of two of the outstanding Ministers of Education in this century, both from his own party—Lord Butler and Lord Boyle. He can ask advice from one of them, but, unfortunately, not from the other.

The response of the Home Secretary in another place to the Scarman Report—which other noble Lords may want to mention later—in a debate which came on just 15 days after publication had, at least, some small encouragement in it for us, although we have to await a forthcoming White Paper to see what will be the Government's full response. The obvious fear is that he and others, who may have somewhat more liberal sympathies on this kind of question, will be ground between the clamant needs for reform and the monetarist dogma of this Government, which makes so much forward action so difficult.

Now for three last points, which are all related to my hope that the Government will adopt a holistic, rather than a fragmented, approach to this series of problems. Point number one is that education will not make a full contribution to our present multicultural society, if policy is devoted only to the inner city areas where many West Indian people live. There is a need for an overhaul of the curriculum and of attitudes in schools everywhere throughout the country. Whether schools have blacks in them or not, whichever part of the country they are in, blacks are part of their and our common society. They are members of it, as we are; they are entitled to have that membership recognised, and every school certainly needs to acknowledge that fact.

Secondly, it means accepting that any new policy on education, housing, police or employment should not be adopted except by reference to the whole. The West Indian community needs a whole new deal, and in preparing for that new deal Rampton, Scarman and the Select Committee therefore need to be considered together, as well as along with other evidence which is relevant.

Thirdly, and lastly, these tasks, despite their immense difficulty—no one would want to underestimate that—can be tackled without the despair which some people engaged in the field sometimes feel, as long as the approach is comprehensive and generous enough. On this, I should just like to refer back to what happened in the United States in the 1960s, because it is relevant. That was the time when the civil rights movement was beginning to assert itself. There were much worse riots in Memphis, Atlanta and, later, in Watts in Los Angeles than we have had.

The Kerner Commission—somewhat similar in some ways to the three commissions and inquiries we have had but it was all in one, admittedly backed up much more substantially by the social sciences than our inquiries have been—delivered to the American Government a remarkable report. Partly as a result of that, and partly as a result of many other things, there was an extraordinary turnabout in the policy of Government in America at all levels and also in private business, whose importance in all this should not in any way be underestimated. As a result, a worse situation, I would say, than we are in (and ours is bad enough) was saved by the end of the 1970s. As the United States goes into the 1980s they have a far better situation than they had in the 1960s.

If they can do that, I submit to your Lordships that we also can do it. Our situation, too, can be saved by our efforts and without any sense of despair whatsoever. And we shall be able to do it better because the Rampton Committee, and these other inquiries about which we have been speaking, really are right hitting at what is perhaps the most urgent social problem of our time.

8.21 p.m.

Baroness Faithfull

My Lords, I am sure that we must all be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Young of Dartington, for initiating this debate. I am also quite sure that the West Indian community throughout the country will be grateful to him.

I had thought to speak on the history leading up to the formation of the Rampton Report but this has been ably dealt with already by the noble Lord, Lord Young of Dartington. I wish only to say that it has been my privilege to be a member of the Rampton Committee. I sat under Mr. Anthony Rampton, the chairman, whose sensitive and kindly manner welded the committee into a cohesive and happy working group of people. He, I know, has thanked all those who gave evidence to the committee—the schools that we visited and all those who came to give us help—and I wish in your Lordships' House to pay tribute, too, to all those who gave that help. I wish also to pay tribute to the secretariat of the Department of Education and Science who very carefully helped all members of the committee.

An interim report on the educational needs of West Indian children was requested as a matter of urgency. How right this was, in the light of the later report by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman. The noble Lord, Lord Swann, is to take the committee into its next stage when the needs of all ethnic minorities will be considered. We are glad that the noble Lord, Lord Swann, is to speak in tonight's debate.

May I crave the indulgence of your Lordships' House and comment on some of the points contained in the report. First, the committee decided on the definition of West Indian children. This definition is given on page 2 of the report. There is no nationally recognised definition of the West Indian. The committee defined the West Indian as a " British-born black ". It must be remembered that in 1977, 95 per cent. of West Indian school children were born in this country. It must be appreciated that 30 per cent. of West Indians in this country were aged between 5 and 15 years. Of all other children, only 17 per cent. were aged between 5 and 15 years. These figures were obtained from the national dwelling-house survey of 1977.

What was the evidence of under-achievement? The noble Lord, Lord Young of Dartington, has referred to this. I will give to your Lordships just a few figures. For instance, in CSE English, 9 per cent. of the passes were West Indians, 21 per cent. Asians and 29 per cent. others. Of those entering university, 1 per cent. were West Indians, 5 per cent. Asians and 4 per cent. others. Having given these figures it must be emphasised that some West Indians are achieving results comparable to those of their very best peers. I cannot forbear but to point out that serving on the Rampton Committee were four West Indians of calibre: one working at the Institute of Education, one a woman journalist and lecturer, one a deputy principal of a large comprehensive school (and also a magistrate) and one a health visitor and a public relations officer. Others were co-opted on to the committee at various stages. Asian members also serve on the committee. They, too, are people of outstanding calibre.

May I turn to the factors which the committee considered contributed to the under-achievement of West Indian children. First, I wish to speak about the needs of children under five and their families. In 1978, the Central Policy Review Staff drew attention to the inadequate aspects of existing services for children under five. There is a lack of direction and no clear priorities as to the ways in which such service[...]s should progress. I wish to underline that this applies to all sectors of the population. This is not applicable just to the West Indian and those from the Indian sub-continent. There is confusion in the administration of services for children under five. The provision of services is fragmented and responsibility is divided.

The consequences of the present situation for children and their parents are both unjust and inequitable. There is a serious loss of opportunity for preventive work at an early stage. The report stated that in Great Britain there are 900,000 children under five whose mothers have a job. The Government provide or control full and part daytime care for about 120,000 children in day nurseries and with minders. There are over three-quarters of a million children under five whose mothers work and who at present have no access to local authority day or nursery minding. As I said earlier, those figures apply across the country, but they hurt in particular the West Indian community.

When the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, recommended in his report that special consideration should be given to the West Indians I think meant (in fact, I am sure that this is what he meant) that because they had difficulties particular to their community a difficult situation was made more difficult for them. And what are these particular difficulties? A disproportionate number of West Indian women are going out to work because of the economic circumstances. The 1971 census showed that 68 per cent. of West Indian women worked, as against a national average of 48 per cent. The percentage of West Indian men on night shift is double that of white men on night shift. The incidence of one-parent families in this country has risen in all sectors of society but it is higher among West Indians, due perhaps in part to various social circumstances of an historical nature.

First generation immigrant families had low status jobs when they first arrived in this country, which meant a depressed environment and poor housing—plus, as the noble Lord, Lord Young, has said, the cycle of deprivation has operated from one generation to another. This has meant among some but not all of the West Indian population a loss of self-esteem, a loss of confidence, and the loss of a sense of balance and security. This had led to a number of West Indian children arriving at school at the age of five with the experience of and at the stage, perhaps, of a child of three. This means that the children either never catch up or if they do catch up, they catch up at a later stage and during the earlier part of their schooling have suffered deprivation.

As I said earlier, West Indian parents go out to work. They work long hours and they do not always know where to go to find child-minders who would suit their child. Very often they have to use a child-minder who charges less rather than the right child-minder for the child. They are not always certain where the day nurseries are and very often they are fearful of or do not know where there is a nursery school, even if they could get the child into it. There are many schools with empty class rooms owing to the falling school population. The report asks, why cannot these class rooms be used as resource centres for children under five; be used by pre-school play groups, by nursery schools, or even as family centres where both mothers and children can come? It is in this area that I believe the positive discrimination for West Indians as recommended in the Scarman Report should take place. My experience of the West Indian community is that they do not wish for more than anybody else or for less than anybody else; but they do wish to have and to be able to take part in services equally with other people. But in the area of the under fives, they need specialised help at this point in time.

The report covered—and I am not going into this—language and curriculum. The evidence from the National Union of Teachers showed that a curriculum which pays tribute to cultural diversity and achievements should be accepted and used, and that the diversity of cultures ought to be a source of community enrichment rather than division.

I now come on to the role of teachers, which is essential to the issue. Here, there are very real difficulties. The teachers have a case, but I believe equally that the West Indian community have a case. The teachers are trained to be teachers but they have not, I suggest, been trained to teach in a multiracial community—and I believe that this is shown in the report. It does seem, and it is recommended, that teacher training should look far more deeply and far more extensively at the roots of the British-born black child and not only at the indigenous white child, and therefore that the training of teachers is almost something that has to be tackled at once and with no delay.

It has been pointed out in the Rampton Report that there are very few West Indian teachers, that there are very few West Indians working with families under five, that there are very few West Indian health visitors. If there were to be West Indians in these roles, then there would be a role model of hope for many West Indians, who would try to achieve these roles. May I just point out that on the question of schools' pastoral arrangements it was felt by the Rampton Committee that there should be much more outstretching of the school into the community. We found that many teachers were visiting West Indian families in the areas where they worked, but many were not. West Indians sometimes find it difficult to go to the schools, to talk to the teachers, and until this becomes part of their way of life there must be an outstretching to the West Indian parents in the community.

I could go on to speak about many other issues but it is all in the report, and therefore at this time of the evening I am not going to take up your Lordships' time. But may I talk about just some of the recommendations, some of which are the same as those made by the noble Lord, Lord Young. First of all, there is the matter of the collection of statistics. When the committee first sat there was a certain amount of concern over the collection of statistics. On page 67 of the report it will be seen that the committee recommend that statistics should be gathered from all over the country on a form to be drawn up by the Department of Education so that we can get a picture of the needs of the children of the ethnic minorities, where those needs most exist, and where it would be possible to train people from the ethnic minorities, from the West Indian community, in the areas required. I say to the Minister who is to reply that this would not cost money. It should be done as soon as possible, and I hope that his noble friend will consider going forward with this recommendation as soon as possible.

Secondly, I have already mentioned the training of West Indian teachers, of those who work with parents and children under five, and of health workers. Surely it might be possible to encourage, to help and to train those who could then help to set a role model for other West Indians. There is also the matter of consultation. It is so easy for all of us to think that we know what is right for other people. In implementing the recommendations of the Rampton Report we should consult, and Her Majesty's Government should consult, for instance, the Caribbean Teachers' Association, and others.

Also, there is the involvement of parents. Too little have parents been involved and, as the noble Lord, Lord Young, has said, if children's parents are not involved, children tend not to have a relationship with teachers. It is true that a number—although not all, only a proportion—of West Indian children are not read to, are not spoken to very much, and time is not spent with them by their parents, simply because the mothers do not have the time. Where children are concerned, time is of the essence.

Finally, my Lords, in 1977 there was cynicism and disbelief among West Indians that there would be any change or that any notice would be taken of any report. West Indians parents realised that education should be a key factor in the development of their children. Many of them were disappointed that teachers tended to think of the West Indian child as good at sports, good at dancing, good at art but not good at the academic subjects. There has now been, I believe, a change of heart among the West Indian community, and it is believed that perhaps Her Majesty's Government may listen to the recommendations of both the Rampton Report and the Scarman Report, and I believe that among them there is now a sense of hope. We, the committee, sitting under the chairmanship of Mr. Rampton, were asked to report as a matter of urgency. We hope that Her Majesty's Government will respond as a matter of urgency as well, and may we, the committee, refer to a speech made in the other place on 15th June 1874 by Disraeli: Upon the education of the people of this country the fate of this country depends ".

8.42 p.m.

Lord Pitt of Hampstead

My Lords, may I also join in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Young of Dartington, for introducing this debate by asking this Unstarred Question. May I also thank the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, not only for serving on the committee in the way that she has done, but for the way she has contributed to this debate tonight. I am grateful to her for dealing with two or three of the issues that I had intended touching on; for example, the importance of pre-school training. I do not think I need to expand any more on what she said, except to add that it is necessary if the nurseries would meet the needs of the West Indian parents that they should be open until a later hour. That involves having more staff, either full-time or part-time or voluntary. I think this is something which needs to be explored. I am very grateful to the noble Baroness for that contribution.

I am also grateful to her for her point about the importance of West Indian teachers and West Indians in other fields like health visitors and day nurseries. I have always maintained that in this particular field of education the provision of teachers from the West Indies, teachers of West Indian origin, is of the utmost importance. There have always been two things that I have advocated; one is that we should try as far as possible to get the maximum number of teachers of West Indian origin; but I have also advocated that we should do some exchanges with the West Indies in terms of teachers. There are two advantages. One is that we would quickly get black faces into the classroom, which is one of the reasons I want West Indian teachers. The other advantage is that the English teachers we would send to the West Indies would learn a great deal about the children they have to teach there. Therefore, for the last 15 years I have been advocating that we should do that. Some local education authorities have done it; it has been done on a very small scale. That is something the Department of Education and Science can do, Government to Government, so that we could have this exchange which could be of the utmost value.

I am also grateful to the noble Baroness for raising the question of statistics. It is about time we came to grips with this question of statistics and stopped running away from it. I remember in 1967 I made a speech in County Hall in which I advocated that we should have statistics relating to our housing programme, the people we house. Immediately I finished the then chief whip of my party got up and indicated that I was not speaking for the party but only for myself. The funny thing about that was that some years later we did in fact do a survey on some estates, and we discovered that quite unwittingly we had been discriminating against blacks because what we found was that the blacks were on the worst estates. Had we taken the trouble to take statistics in 1967 we would not have found ourselves in that position.

Nationally we are in the same position; we have continued to run away from the issue of statistics. We must stop it, because you cannot plan programmes unless you know the facts. The facts need to be got through those statistics. Therefore, we must stop running away from the question. I hope this is one of the proposals the Department of Education and Science will accept. I have always been very sorry that the Government ran away from this question of ethnic minority statistics in the 1981 Census. We need the figures in order to be able to plan. I hope that, so far as education is concerned, at least the Department of Education and Science will be prepared to get figures not only of West Indians but of West Indian teachers.

This problem all started with the subjective view that there were a large number of West Indians in educational subnormal schools. In fact, as far back as 1971, as Lord Young mentioned, Bernard Coard, who is now the Deputy Prime Minister of Grenada, wrote a pamphlet on the subject of West Indians in educational subnormal schools. When the Select Committee reported in 1977 one of the things they were promised was that figures about the West Indians in educational subnormal schools would be ascertained and published. We have not got those yet. Reading this report, I gather that up till now the department either has not got the figures or is not prepared to allow the figures to be published. We must stop this, and I hope that one thing we shall hear from the Minister is that we have come to the end of the road on this fudging and we have stopped running away from this question of statistics.

Although one started off being concerned about the number of West Indians in educational subnormal schools, it was soon discovered that what was much more important was the number of West Indians who were put in the lowest stream in the comprehensives and then ignored. At the moment there is still the question of the large number of West Indians who are suspended or put in disruptive units. Those figures can easily be ascertained. But in effect the worry still is about the children, because the view is—I can tell your Lordships the view—that West Indian children who are nice and quiet are left in the lowest streams and they go right through the school learning nothing. The West Indians who are not nice and quiet and who are as I was when I was at school, insist in being heard. They are regarded as disruptive. They are either suspended or put in disruptive units. That is the problem.

I am very glad that the committee touched on the question of racial prejudice because it is basic to the issue; it is another matter that we have run away from. People in this country are prejudiced but they are ashamed of the fact that they are prejudiced and they are never prepared to admit it. I found during the long period when I was working with the Community Relations Commission that when I went to talk to teachers I was invariably told that no teacher is prejudiced. That is so silly. After all, Colin Jordan was a teacher. There have been several teachers who have publicly expressed what are racist views. So the suggestion that no teacher is prejudiced is ridiculous.

What is required, therefore, is that we should face up to these things. The question of prejudice is a very difficult one to deal with. What is necessary, in my view anyway, is that the prejudices should be faced and dealt with. One can, in fact, allow one's action not to be affected by one's prejudice provided one knows that one has that prejudice. However, one cannot fail to be affected by a prejudice if one is trying very hard not to reveal it. That is part of the trouble.

In the society in which these West Indian children are living there is the class colour bias against people of colour. This is a very class-conscious society. There is a bias against working-class people. Members of your Lordships' House may not want to admit it but it is a fact. There is, however, in addition to that a degree of bias against people of colour. The reason for that is that the way in which people in this country are educated—I mean the books they read and the way in which they are taught history—leaves them with the impression that people of colour are somehow inferior. This is basic. One has to overcome it if one is to make a real contribution. I was a little dispirited when I read the press comments on the Rampton Report because I got the impression that in fact the press were anxious that the racial element in the problem of West Indian children should be ignored. Please, my Lords, let us not ignore it.

One of the most revealing facts in the Select Committee's report in 1977 was that when they went to the Caribbean they found that some of the black children who had gone back to the Caribbean had to be put in lower classes because, in fact, they were not up to the standards of the children there. That is not something that can be ignored. What I, and people like me, think is that a lot of it is due to the problem of self-image. Therefore, one needs to face the racial element when dealing with the cause of under-achievement and how it can be remedied. I hope that is one of the matters we shall not run away from.

The only other matter I want to talk about—and I had not intended to talk for long—is the question of funding. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, who will speak after me, will raise this problem. I want to invite the Government to face this matter. We have had a debate here before on this subject. During the days of the last Government they introduced a Bill which would have increased the resources available to local authorities for dealing with ethnic minorities. That Bill lapsed with the end of the Parliament and this Government refused to reintroduce it. I remember that the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, tried to introduce a Bill here which I supported, but it was rejected. But the spokesman for the Government at that time indicated that the Government would give serious thought to improving Section 11 so that the resources could be available in that way.

One of the things that I hope I shall hear tonight from the Minister is that Section 11—I am not asking the Government to reintroduce the Bill—will, in fact, be improved in a way that will allow more resources. It is no use—and I use the words advisedly—talking about improving the situation of the disadvantaged in our cities if we refuse to provide the resources that are required to do so. There are several matters that I want to hear from the Minister, but I hope that one of them will be that we shall have a real look at the whole question of how we can improve the resources that will be available for dealing with the problem of the disadvantaged, which this report and all other reports that we have had indicate exists.

8.58 p.m.

Lord Avebury

My Lords, I too am very glad to welcome the opportunity that has been given to us by the noble Lord, Lord Young of Dartington, for discussing the important report of Mr. Rampton and his colleagues. I want to take this opportunity to say to the noble Lord, Lord Young, that I believe that this is one of the prime areas in which we as Liberals and Social Democrats must get together and collaborate, because it would he one of the major priorities of a Liberal/Social Democratic Administration to see that we achieve genuine racial equality in this country, and stop talking about it, and stop discussing the many reports, valuable as they may be, which have been in front of us for a long time. The noble Lord himself emphasised this when he went right back to the 1960s and showed that we knew all the facts before we ever got to Rampton, and yet Administrations of both Labour and Conservative hue have made the right noises but have done nothing about them.

Here we have Rampton. I daresay that there are very few recommendations in this report with which anybody is likely to disagree. It will be the analysis of the problem and the manner of implementation which are matters of controversy, which will enable Governments to get off the hook and find some reason for delaying the implementation of those recommendations. The noble Lord himself said that there was a mass of evidence on racial disadvantage going back to the 1960s, and it seemed to me that it was merely reaffirmed by Rampton.

The previous Government in the White Paper, Racial Discrimination, published in September 1975 had this to say, and I think that it is worth reminding your Lordships of it: The Government recognises that what is here proposed for a further attack on discrimination will need to be supplemented by a more comprehensive strategy for dealing with the related and at least equally important problem of disadvantage ". Yet when, during the period of the Lib-Lab Pact, I went to see the then Home Secretary, Mr. Merlyn Rees, with a paper that was entitled A Programme for Racial Equality, advocating an extremely modest scheme of education and training—which was designed to make a start on the task of bringing the ethnic minorities up to a common starting point in the competition for jobs and position in society with native whites—he threw up his hands in horror and exclaimed: " But this is positive discrimination ". That has been the way of dismissing, in a pejorative manner, all the schemes which have so far been advanced for attacking racial disadvantage in particular sectors. It is that kind of reflex thinking which, I suggest, has prevented the development of a strategy more than six years after it was said to be so essential by the previous Administration.

As the noble Lord has reminded us, in the intervening years we have had two reports of the Select Committee as well as the Scarman Report. The Select Committee has reiterated that disadvantage in education and employment are the two most crucial facets of racial disadvantage; and for the first time, it tried to set this in the context of a thorough national strategy. Scarman, from a rather different perspective, notes that the evidence is overwhelming that the second generation of West Indians have not benefited from our society to the extent that they might reasonably have expected. It really is now time that these studies and assessments of the problems came to an end and that we start with some action.

I think that it would be a very serious mistake for the Government to embark on a long process of consultation about the recommendations of the Rampton Report before dealing with them. I take note of what the noble Lord, Lord Young, said, that the Government have given a deadline of the end of this week for observations to be made on the recommendations. I hope that that means that immediately thereafter some, at any rate, of the recommendations in this interim report will be implemented. I really think that we have to do that if we are to avoid more Brixtons and Toxteths, although it seems to me that far worse than the destruction of property, which has occurred in those episodes, is the horrendous waste of human talent implied by the exceptionally high rates of black unemployment that we have experienced and the low grade jobs which many of those fortunate enough to work at all have had to accept.

The DES has not responded formally to the Rampton Report. I would suggest that if, when all the observations are in this Friday, it is not ready to deal with all of the recommendations at the same time, it should at least implement some of those, as has been suggested, which are matters primarily for the DES rather than for consultation with other departments or with other bodies. However, let me take some examples and try to illustrate how very diffcult it will he for local education authorities to move until they have at least had some kind of a lead from central Government.

By way of preface, I would observe that some of the authorities which will need to find extra resources—and I pick up from where the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, left off because I think that whether we are to make the resources available is at the heart of the problem—are those which have been most severely hit by the recent cuts; for example, Lambeth or, one that I know a little about, Liverpool. My honourable friend Mr. David Alton was saying last week in another place that over the last two years Liverpool has lost £24½ million—£11½ million on its rate support grant settlement and the remainder in other funding—with the result that 11,000 jobs have disappeared from the City of Liverpool. If resources are to be made available, as I hope they will be, for some of the inner city areas and for other local authorities where there is a high concentration of West Indians, part of the money which comes from the DES will simply be making up for the funds which have been taken away from them with another hand. Therefore, we need a very substantial programme indeed.

The noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, I thought quite rightly, emphasised that there is here a great opportunity of doing something for the under-fives in an era of lower birth rates. I understand that some OPCS figures were supposed to have been published today—they were certainly referred to in The Times—showing that we may be returning to the era of the mid-1970s, when births were below replacement level. I say that I understand that. When I inquired in the Printed Paper Office to see whether I could obtain a copy of the population trends from which these deductions were drawn by The Times reporter, I was told that although copies have been made available to the newspapers, they were not available for your Lordships to refer to before this debate. I really must take this opportunity of protesting to the Government at the way in which this is always happening with HMSO documents. It happened to me last week when I went to ask for social trends. It has happened again now with population trends. One is constantly reading some reference to a public document in The Times or the Guardian and then one comes here and asks for it in the Printed Paper Office and is told that it is not available. I think that it is the greatest disrespect to your Lordships' House to publish documents through newspapers and then not to have them available, particularly when they may be very important for a subject such as that which we are discussing this evening.

As the noble Baroness pointed out, the Rampton Report calls attention to the CPRS Report of 1978, Services for Young Children with Working Mothers. If points out that there was this very large number of children under five who had working mothers, and that in particular a higher proportion of West Indian married women go out to work compared with the national average. The noble Baroness has underlined the particular needs of the West Indian community for increased provision of nursery care and education; and that extra provision could mean that the West Indian children have a better start than they do at present when they reach school age, in many cases having a great deal of catching up to do with their contemporaries.

In this connection, I notice that the Rampton Committee deferred the important question of the use made by local authorities of Section 11 of the Local Government Act, 1966. I shall take up the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, and say that, if there is one recommendation in the Rampton Report that I strongly disagree with, it is that the Home Office and the DES should review the provisions of the operation of Section 11 with a view to making it more appropriate to the needs of the ethnic minority communities.

We know what we have to do. When I reintroduced the Local Government Grants (Ethnic Groups) Bill, which, as the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, pointed out, was lost as a result of the 1979 election, the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, the Minister who answered, persuaded your Lordships to reject it on Second Reading because he said it would not be possible to find the additional resources demanded if the criteria were to be widened. Well, this is the whole point. The children whom we are now talking about were mostly born here. The noble Baroness gave the figures. A very high proportion of West Indian children in our school system are born in this country. Their parents have been here for most, if not all, of their lives, and therefore they do not come within the scope of Section 11. That is the difficulty that we were trying to deal with in that Bill.

The false assumption that disadvantage was a function of recent arrivals only, whereas all the studies consistently show that it extends to the second and third generations, was the basis for Section 11. We know that it was a false assumption, and we have to deal with it. If the Government are not prepared to introduce legislation on the lines of the Local Government Grants (Ethnic Groups) Bill, well we have lost three years, but let us get on with something else. Let us have their solution to the widening of Section 11, and let us have it pretty soon.

If Section 11 is not to be reformed, as has been advocated for so long, how else can education authorities provide extra nursery provision in areas, say, like Lambeth or Haringey? All the recommendations on pre-school provision—I think the noble Baroness will confirm this—are addressed to local authorities, but additional resources are least likely to be available in those areas.

One recommendation in this group which is of particular importance, as has already been mentioned, is that local authorities and health authorities should seek to recruit more West Indians and indeed members of other minority groups as nursery nurses and health visitors. As I understand it, the Government, in a welcome reversal of policy, have decided to introduce ethnic monitoring within their own recruitment and promotion practices to ensure that in the Civil Service minorities are getting a fair share of the jobs available. Should not that be extended to the local authorities? It might then be obvious that some councils with substantial West Indian populations had not recruited any people from that particular minority to work as, say, nursery nurses and health visitors. Then one could generate the sort of public pressure that would be needed to remedy the difficulties.

After the 1976 Act came into operation, I wrote to some 100 local authorities asking whether they had taken any active steps to comply with the provisions of Section 71 of the Race Relations Act, which laid on them a duty to ensure that their policies were designed to promote racial equality, and in particular whether they envisaged ethnic monitoring as a means of satisfying themselves of the success of their policies for racial equality. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, who has just said that we should stop shying away from statistics.

The number of responses I got to this questionnaire was fairly high. Well over 60 per cent. of the authorities replied, but almost to a man, or to a local authority, they did not think that ethnic monitoring was necessary. I hope that, now that the Government have given a belated lead, this attitude will change. I should like to ask the Government: will they be prepared to issue guidelines to local authorities on how to meet their obligations under Section 71, and in particular to offer them advice on ethnic monitoring?

Alternatively, might the Government ask the Commission for Racial Equality to undertake this important task? The CRE are under fire, with yesterday's Select Committee report and its uncomplimentary findings reverberating in their ears. I think it would be a good idea if the Government were to take this step towards restoring morale by giving them a positive role in drafting the sort of guidelines that they would like to see local authorities adopting in the practice of achieving their obligations under Section 71, and ethnic monitoring in particular.

The other matter with which I wish to deal is the support for schools and teachers, the subject dealt with in Chapter 3 of the report, and I do not want to get involved in the argument about the prevalence of racism among teachers. Not that I want to run away from it. I accept it as a fact, to answer the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, and I do not think it is believable that no teacher is ever guilty of bias or prejudice, as I understand the NASUWT seem to maintain. It may well be that, as a profession, teachers are more liberal than some others, but it seems futile and dangerous to pretend that school-children may not be the victims of teacher racism, and in some cases it may be quite unconscious.

I remember when one of my own children brought home a geography text book dealing with South Africa. I was so angry when I found that it made no reference to the fact that in South Africa blacks were repressed, under-educated, forced to carry passes, to live in certain areas, to be limited to only certain kinds of work and to be employed at sub-human wages that I wrote some comments on those various matters over my daughter's text book. The only result that I achieved, however, was that the head teacher asked me to pay for another copy of the text book. I got no reaction whatever to the merits of the additions I had made to the text. I believe therefore that there are some completely ingrained attitudes with which one has to contend among certain teachers, and obviously we must overcome them if we are to be certain that West Indian children get a fair deal in the schools. But there are a number of obviously sensible, positive recommendations on training in the report, and these should be carefully read and mostly implemented, together with those of the Select Committee.

The report says that teacher training institutions have not been successful in preparing students for their role in a multi-cultural society. But examples are given of good practice which the report has unfortunately to say are the exceptions. The teacher training institutions, for example, have not developed contacts with local ethnic minority groups and organisations in order that those organisations may contribute to the work of the institutions. I also very much agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, that teachers in the schools should themselves reach out to the communities they serve, and in particular should make an effort to establish personal contact with West Indian parents and bring them more closely into the work of the schools.

The committee mentions the contribution that West Indian teachers can make, not least as role models, and this also has been referred to. I am dealing with the Home Office at the moment on the case of a West Indian girl who trained and qualified here, whose immediate family are all settled in the United Kingdom but who is now being told to go back to the Caribbean. What madness is this? Surely there are not so many black teachers that we can afford to lose any of them, and I warmly endorse the recommendation of the Select Committee that the present Caribbean teacher exchange scheme should be continued in its present form. We should do more of that, and I suggest as a further possibility which the Government should consider that perhaps exchanges between Britain and the United States might also contribute to this business of providing schools with successful role models, and that our own teachers would benefit from a stay in the United States, where blacks have succeeded in making far greater progress in society.

On an Unstarred Question, we cannot do justice to a report as important as this, and, although I have spoken far too long, I have been able to mention only one or two aspects which seem to me to be of prime importance. My plea to the Government on behalf of my noble friends on these Benches is this: for Heaven's sake let us have no more studies and investigations. Let us get on with the job of giving black people a fair chance, and in particular let us equip young blacks with the basic education they need to compete in our society on equal terms.

9.18 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of Southwark

My Lords, I speak with some hesitation on a subject which is both complex and controversial and when we have already had some weighty and informed contributions from noble Lords opposite and from the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull. I hope your Lordships will find it helpful if I make a small contribution from the standpoint of someone whose diocese includes most of South London and who has some particular concern and responsibility for Church of England schools in this area.

I find, speaking very generally, that there has been a good welcome for this report, along with a recognition that the specific issue with which it deals is a difficult one to handle without controversy or offence. As an illustration of this, even the title, West Indian Children in our Schools, has come in for some criticism on the grounds that, as the report makes very clear, we are talking about 95 per cent. of children of West Indian origin who were born in this country and so, of course, have a perfectly proper case to be regarded as British and not immigrants. I recognise that the report states that.

That point leads me into the bigger issue with which the report deals very clearly and to which the noble Lords, Lord Pitt of Hampstead and Lord Avebury, have already referred; namely, the question of racism and racial attitudes in our schools. I should like to say that from what I have heard in fairly informed discussion, South London would confirm much of what has been said, and there is a welcome for the fact that the Rampton Report has faced this situation and stated it. I believe that this will be helpful in the long term.

At this juncture I should like to make a personal comment. It was just under a year ago that I came from the North of England down to the South of England, and one thing that has struck me most sharply is the gap in my own understanding and awareness of what racism means. I have found that have a lot of catching up to do. I have tendecd to assume that I am colourblind in both attitude and action. I have to say, to my own discomfort, that I now realise that it is not always so, and I believe that it is important that the report reminds us that though much of this kind of attitude is unintentional—of course it is—nevertheless it is a factor that has to be taken into account.

From talking to someone who has studied the report and who has taken part in a very careful discussion of it with teachers and others, I am able to report these two main comments which he has made to me. First, he wanted to underline the pattern of " low expectation " where children of West Indian origin are concerned, and this relates to a number of factors which the report explores and lays bare very carefully. Speaking generally, one does not find this situation with, for instance, Ugandans or Nigerians. Parents and teachers—and this is, I think, the point are caught up in this situation quite as much as the children, and so there is a very definite and specific need to attend to the problem in the whole area of teacher support, teacher training, and, for instance, the composition of governing bodies, so that a different and better climate of expectation and hopefulness can be created.

The second point that the person to whom I spoke wanted to stress really springs from this situation, or perhaps it goes deeper, perhaps it lies behind it and is more fundamental, because in a way it is beyond the control of the school community. The extent of unemployment and poor vocational opportunity, particularly in our inner cities, undermines the whole educational process. I ask your Lordships to consider for a moment what it is like for a head teacher and his or her teachers—never mind the parents and the children concerned—to do their job knowing that at the end of the school year eight or even nine out of 10 school-leavers will have no proper job to which to go. If your Lordships think that I am exaggerating, I would say that I am not. I have been told about that in a letter from a head teacher on Tyneside. In areas in the South and in my own diocese the total figure is not, thank goodness!, so high, but the situation can be almost as bad proportionately for the young black school-leavers, and there is then the added sense of disillusionment and resentment which might be caused against the school and society.

Finally, I should like to say a few words about Church schools, more particularly of course Church of England schools. I have no brief to speak of others tonight. I do not think that they are specifically mentioned in the Rampton Report—I am not sure whether it is the intention to make any reference to them in the final report—but they represent an area [...]o both opportunity and difficulty. The basic question (which of course, needs far more time to explore than I can give it now) is whether Church schools exist only to provide a particular kind of education for their own church members, or those who ask for it, or whether they also exist to provide a service by the Church for society and for the local community in areas which have become both multiracial and multi-faith. This dilemma is often very acute, with many conflicting expectations in the community and much beating on the doors of the schools. This is particularly true in areas where there are, for instance, increasing numbers of, shall we say, Moslems of Asian origin and a declining number of Christian children, nominal or active.

This particular dilemma, though, is much less acute in fact in the case of children of West Indian origin, since the vast majority have a Christian background and many of their parents are clear in wanting a Christian upbringing for their children. A number of our Church schools in South London, therefore, I am very glad to say, have substantial numbers of such children on their rolls, and we take very seriously the questions which are raised in this report. I hope that we, along with others, can respond to them positively and vigorously, but I believe that, together with others who have spoken tonight, our ability to do so will depend a good deal on the kind of lead which can be given to us by the Department of Education and, through them, the local authorities. That is of crucial importance, and I hope very much that it will not be long delayed.

9.27 p.m.

Lord Swann

My Lords—my not very many Lords—I, too, hope that the Government are going to act on these recommendations. I had been feeling up till now that the Government's response had about as much steam in it as the heating pipes of the House of Lords until a few minutes ago, and I take it, therefore, as a good omen that the Chamber has become decidedly warmer in the last few minutes. Nevertheless, one must give credit where credit is due, and I, at least, welcome (albeit only a very small move in what I believe is the right direction recommended by the Rampton Report) the Home Secretary's announcement that he is going in for some experimental monitoring of the amount and extent of the employment of ethnic minorities in the Civil Service.

My Lords, the hour is late. The noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, and other speakers have really said much that needs to be said about the Rampton Report. Nevertheless, I should like to say just a little bit about some of the criticisms that have been made of it. People who are well intentioned, I think, have seen much good in the report. People who are less well intentioned have in fact made a number of criticisms, behind which it is possible to take refuge. I believe that we ought to face those criticisms and, if we can, demolish them.

There are two, one of them particularly contentious, that I want to refer to which had, and indeed from time to time still have, a certain amount of currency in the public press and elsewhere. The first one centres on the well-known, well-publicised statistic about the IQ of blacks being some 15 points lower than the IQ of whites—averages, of course, in both cases. The other criticism is this. If, as the Rampton Report says, racism in schools, either intentional or, more particularly, as he calls it, unintentional (although it is sometimes called institutional) is the major or the only factor in the under-achievement of blacks, then how come that the statistics in the Rampton Report itself show that Asians, who I think would claim (and I think we would probably mostly agree) are just as much likely to be subject to racism, are themselves performing very much on a level with white children?

On the matter of IQ, for a long time people disputed this figure of the 15 points difference. I do not believe, as a scientist, that one can do that any longer. But one must hear in mind that IQ is not intelligence; it is merely an attempt to measure intelligence. It is subject to many errors, assumptions and difficulties and it by no means equates with intelligence. There are a very considerable number of factors which would lead to one to expect that the measured IQ of blacks might come out lower. There are different cultural traditions. We have heard from the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, of some of the difficulties under which West Indian families in this country labour. Families were disrupted when they came over here. There are a large number of factors which might account for the difference.

There are also more subtle problems—which I do not want to go into because they get one deep into the psychology of IQ testing—which might lead one to suppose that tests devised by middle-class whites for basically middle-class whites might not be very appropriate for testing the intelligence of blacks. We must face it. The committee is going to have a look at this and it will take some expert and, I hope, impartial advice and facing the problem. If you ase me at this moment what I think the answer will be, I believe it will be that this IQ as a measured difference is not responsible for the difference in achievement in schools.

Then there is the question of racism seemingly not affecting the Asians in the way it affects the blacks. This does not mean to say that it does not affect the blacks. It may do so; but it is at least surprising and is bound to lead one on to look at a number of other factors—as the Rampton Interim Report says clearly it intended to do. One has only to look at the latter pages of the report to see a list of all the things the committee did not have time to investigate and said they were going to; and we are going to investigate. There must be a lot of other factors. The noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, listed a number of them. Other speakers have listed practically all the others. They are complex, inter-related and it will not be easy to disentangle them and discover their relative importances and how they measure up in importance with racism, albeit intentional or unintentional.

To help us in this, we are going to extend what the Rampton Committee (in his day) did; namely to commission research. Your Lordships may have seen the admirable survey of all the research that has been done on West Indian learning, culture, cultural differences and so on by the National Foundation for Educational Research. We are at the moment in process of commissioning them to do an equivalent volume on Asians and, if there are enough for them to get hold of, on other minorities as well. We are in process also of commissioning work on what one can call the profile of successful pupils and the profile of successful schools, in the hope that that will help us pinpoint what some of the important factors are. I do not think there are any simple answers. I do not think there will be any rapid solutions, but I hope the committee can do something to guide society in general and the schools in particular in the future.

There is one last point I want to make and it is about unemployment. This may seem to be wandering off from education and schools, which is the primary concern of the committee, but in reality I do not think it is because, wisely, in my opinion, the terms of reference of the committee include, among other things, prospects for school-leavers, which is indeed a question of employment or unemployment. The Select Committee for Home Affairs, in their report on racial disadvantage, had these words to say: Disadvantage in education and employment are the two most crucial facets of racial disadvantage. They are closely connected ". They go on to say: There is no point in getting ethnic minority education right if we do not, at the same time, sort out racial disadvantage in employment and vice versa". However well you educate, if you remove one of the major motivations for learning by denying people jobs, then you are in difficulties.

The fact of the matter is that there is of course a high level of unemployment throughout the country. It is particularly high for young people and higher still for ethnic minorities who may experience two, three, four or even more times the level of unemployment of white youngsters, and that is high enough in all conscience. The fact of the matter is that there are employers who do not want to employ blacks, Asians or ethnic minorities in spite of impeccable statements of intent issued by employers' organisations. Also the fact of the matter is that there are trade unionists who do not wish to work alongside blacks, Asians or ethnic minorities despite impeccable statements of intent from trade union leaders and the TUC.

There are also employers who may be reasonably well intentioned but are too timorous when it comes to taking a firm line with any attempt at discrimination in the workforce. As an old media man I want to make a suggestion. Lest your Lordships raise a collective eyebrow at an erstwhile academic describing himself as an old media man, I should say that eight years as chairman of the BBC I think qualifies me as being an old media man. When I think back on all the troubles I had it makes me a very old media man. Remembering the penchant, the enthusiasm, that journalists have for fearless, investigative journalism, might they not pin some of their energies on a fearless investigation of what is actually going on—it is quite difficult to find out—and bring some publicity to bear on discrimination where it occurs, from employers or workers in factories, local authorities or even in central Government?

Let me repeat that I hope that the Government will not merely take note, but do something about the recommendations in the Rampton Report. There is not one recommendation that will not do good; and not very many of them even cost much money. Finally, I hope that the committee can successfully conclude the admirable work started by Mr. Rampton.

9.33 p.m.

Baroness David

My Lords, I, too, should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Young, for initiating this debate tonight. I wish I had thought of doing it myself, because I think it is a matter of great importance. I was delighted that he congratulated the Rampton Committee, because it has not been recognised enough for the work that it has done. I was glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Swann, say this. It seems to me that, in the time they had, they did an extremely good job of work. They did what they were asked to do. They came out quickly with a report and with recommendations. They are extremely good recommendations, and I hope that they will be followed. As we have had the good fortune to have the new chairman of the committee, the noble Lord, Lord Swann, taking part in the debate, I should like to wish him and his committee well in the very difficult and sensitive task that they have to do. He has mentioned a number of matters into which they will be looking. Having known him for a long time, I have great confidence that he will have the courage to take on all these problems and that he will be sure to gather in all the evidence and certainly to scrutinise it with scientific thoroughness. So I wish them well.

The fourth chapter of the Rampton Report is called " Programme for Action ", and it sets out clearly what a whole series of institutions and organizations associated with education—central and local government, the DES, HMI, LEAs, the Schools Council, teacher unions, teacher training establishments, examining boards—can do to bring about the changes that the committee would like to see. It has a section on costs. It recognises the need to consider how much additional expenditure is required by the recommendations and the answer, it says, for most of them is " none ".

I understand that one of the reasons for asking this Unstarred Question this evening is to find out why, six months after publication of the interim report, which, as the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, said, was asked for urgently by the Government, and five months after the Select Committee's report on racial disadvantage, so little has been done. Maybe we shall be told that the consultative period is not over for another two days, but surely, after the events of this spring and summer, urgent action is called for. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Scarman, has called for it already. The education system, he says in Part 2 of his report, has not adjusted itself satisfactorily to the needs of the ethnic minority. He endorses the " careful words ", as he calls them, of the Select Committee where it says: It has long been evident that we have not got ethnic minority education right ". Mr. Whitelaw, in the debate on Scarman on 10th December in another place, at column 1005, said: The Government will be replying to the Select Committee report in a White Paper which we shall publish early in the New Year ". I hope that that does not mean that action on the Rampton Report is going to be delayed too.

Many of the Select Committee's recommendations are similar to those of Rampton, as indeed are those of the noble Lord, Lord Scarman, and those of the Central Policy Review Staff of nearly a decade ago. Can the Minister, when he replies, give us some sort of timetable for action? Where recommendations are directed straight to government departments, I should have thought that Ministers who have responsibility and authority for their departments could have acted immediately, and the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, spoke of this. Eighteen of the 80 recommendations are to the DES and the HMI. Several more are to the DES and the Department of Employment jointly. I understand that consultation may be necessary with local authority associations where recommendations demand action by LEAs, but surely the department can come out with a major policy statement which will show their good intent to improve the educational system for the ethnic minorities, because that system has failed in so many places.

A lead on teacher training, efforts to make access to entry into teacher training and careers work easier for coloured people, guidance on the maintenance of records and statistics and guidance on a multicultural curriculum by HMI are a few of the ways in which immediate help could have been given by the department, and as far as I know it has not been.

As I said earlier, the needs are agreed. Positive discrimination is essential. I am aware that this term has come in for criticism and its meaning has been queried. What I mean by it is positive action to make certain that the special needs of the ethnic minorities are recognised and met so that truly equal opportunity is there for everyone. That is, in order to give equal opportunities to all children, we must provide more resources for some than for others; and if we are going to create equal opportunities for all our children, we must put money into pre-school provision at all hours, as the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, said. We must also make sure that there is proper co-ordination of the social, educational and health services at local level and the voluntary and statutory bodies.

At a meeting of the All-Party Children Group which was chaired by the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, last week, it was agreed that the situation is still bad, as the CPRS put it and as the noble Baroness quoted it— The provision of services is fragmented and responsibility is divided ". As a Minister in the DHSS and a spokesman for education here, it would seem that the noble Lord, Lord Elton, is in an eminently suitable position to oversee that co-ordination. I think that he is a man of action and energy, and I hope he will tell us what he is going to do about co-ordination.

I should like to mention a few areas where the Government could take positive action quickly, and they seem to me to cover the main recommendations in this report. The content of teacher training courses needs to be reviewed now that we are a multicultural society and, says the report, no teacher training institution appears to have succeeded in providing a satisfactory grounding in multicultural education for all of its students, although it does give credit for a number of initiatives in certain colleges. It asks for validating bodies to become directly involved in supporting and encouraging such developments. This is where the DES could have influence. If the department wishes to improve the numbers of West Indian teachers in our schools, it should find ways of providing mandatory awards not only for the full training, but for the special access courses which enable those without the usual full qualifications to be accepted for entry to the colleges. Only two LEAs give even discretionary awards for this purpose at the moment, and the Select Committee is very keen for this to be done.

If we want to be sure that " unintentional " racism, as the report put it, is removed, we must do all we can to be sure that teachers' attitudes are not coloured by any in-built hidden prejudices; and one way is to have more black teachers in the schools. I am aware that the NAS has just denied any such prejudices, but from my reading of the evidence, not only in Rampton but in the Review of Research into the Education of Pupils of West Indian Origin by Monica Taylor, and published by the National Foundation for Educational Research, and elsewhere, it would seem that they exist. I have a hope that the younger generation may be slightly different. I think that we are looking at it from our rather old, middle-aged point of view. From my experience of young people, their attitude is changing, which is a very good and encouraging thing.

As with the training of teachers, so with the training of careers teachers and officers. We want more coloured men and women in the service, and we want officers who accept that the expectations of the young need to be raised and their aspirations encouraged. The right reverend Prelate mentioned this in relation to teachers, but it applies equally to people in the careers service. The National Association for Multiracial Education expressed concern in their evidence to the Rampton Committee about the quality of personnel in the careers advice posts, and drew the attention of the committee to widening the training of those involved in a way that would take account of the multicultural dimension. In their evidence they said: Members of the Association have found many Careers Officers to have very little personal understanding in depth of the young people they advise: a worrying characteristic of their approach to young black people is their tendency to generalise about career aspirations: e.g. ' They always want to be mechanics ' etc. ". The committee received a great deal of evidence claiming discrimination and low expectations, and the report gave several quotations from West Indians. I should like to quote one from a West Indian girl. She was saying what the careers people said to her: They said catering. It's just because my mum's a dinner lady. I wanted to do youth work and she said, ' What do your parents do?' I said: ' My mum's a canteen manageress'; and she said: ' Why not do catering? ' I got no information at all on how to do youth work ". Of course, we know that there must be good and bad careers officers and it is not at all an easy job. I felt some sympathy for them when I read an article in the Daily Telegraph about somebody who had been doing careers work. She gave a description of a girl called Josephine. She said: Josephine was typical. In the domestic science department she was streets ahead of any white student. Her cooking, by any standards, was superb. Had she followed the Institutional Management course we recommended, she would have done very well indeed. But no. She would be a secretary, a secretary and nothing but a secretary ". She went on: She was still capable only of the simplest English at the end of her course. This was clearly out of the question ". She visited Josephine's home and found it to be spotless. The mother, grandmother and, I think, a great-grandmother had been cooks to white people in the West Indies. The officer said it was no wonder that Josephine was good at that. But there was not a book anywhere and she had absolutely no writing or reading capacity. So I agree that the careers people do have a difficult job. There need to be more coloured careers officers.

May I say a word about Section 11 of the Local Government Act 1966, which has also been mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury. While recognising how valuable a source of funding this section is, the Rampton Committee, the Select Committee and Lord Scarman have all pointed out that its use could be widened and made more appropriate to present needs. Of course there is a need for other funding as well, but I think it is slightly encouraging that on Wednesday of last week the Home Secretary said that his department had recently completed its review of the section and that they would be able to accept many of the Select Committee's specific recommendations. When the Minister replies I hope he can tell us a little more about this, or say whether the Government have other plans in mind. It seems that there at least some immediate action is forthcoming. And has the Minister anything to say about resources generally, which is so important?

The last part of the report that I want to speak about deals with statistics. Four of the five recommendations relate to the Department of Education and Science. Ethnic records have got to be collected. Everybody who has spoken tonight agrees about that. They are needed on pupils in school, on what happens to them after they leave school, on students in teacher training institutions and in universities and polys., and on the teachers in our schools. The committee's task was made more difficult by the absence of statistics.

As far back as 1977 the Select Committee report on the West Indian community recommended the collection of statistics. The Government concluded that some statistics should be collected, with first returns to be made by January 1980. However, owing apparently to discussion on the inclusion of an ethnic question in the 1981 Census little progress has been made. Last week, however, Mr. Whitelaw said, and I quote from col. 1006 of Hansard for 10th December: To help in the attack on racial disadvantage we must place greater emphasis on what is generally known as ethnic monitoring in order to measure more accurately the extent of the problem. I appreciate the concern that is often expressed among the ethnic communities and elsewhere about the possible misuse of this information, but only if the relevant information is available can we take the necessary steps to remedy racial disadvantage ". Mr. Whitelaw went on to say that they were accepting the Select Committee's recommendation in support of ethnic monitoring in the Civil Service. I understand that the majority of the main teacher unions are now in favour of the keeping of records on an ethnic basis, so can we please expect some action on this soon?

The burden of my song is that action is needed now. We must not have further and further delays while the department digests the documents which have come in as a result of the consultative process. I have tried to outline some very important areas where the department could get going now because, as I have said, the costs of some are minimal. It could get going now if it had the will. Is the department aware of the urgency, and is it prepared to move?

9.54 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Security (Lord Elton)

My Lords, in asking his Question, the noble Lord, Lord Young of Dartington, has initiated a very interesting, if hardly heated, debate. I am sure that the House will be grateful to him, though not to the engineers, for that and for the wide experience which he brought to this subject. However, I mentioned to him (he has already referred to it) that I feel the debate could have been both more interesting and perhaps more influential had it taken place a little later. I do not say that because we do not think there is any urgency or any importance attending the subject of the report. Quite the contrary. I say it because the report is at this moment subject to the consultative process. Governments habitually submit reports to this process in order to evaluate them and to evaluate their own opinions of them against the opinions of people and institutions who would be affected by the recommendations made in the report or who might have a particularly close knowledge of their subjects.

In this case, the process is more complex than usual. The interim report of the independent committee of inquiry into the education of West Indian children in schools was published on 17th June. Its title is West Indian Children in our Schools, and the noble Lord and everybody else refers to it quite rightly as the Rampton Report after the first chairman of the committee. Shortly afterwards, seven weeks afterwards to be precise, the House of Commons Select Committee on Home Affairs published a report of its own. This, the 5th Report of the Home Affairs Committee, dealt with racial disadvantage. In view of this area of concern common to both reports, the Government decided to combine the consultative process so that it covered the whole of the Rampton Report and covered as well that part of the Select Committee's report that covered the same ground. The resulting document was published in October and comments on it were sought from a wide constituency.

The noble Lord opposite referred to the respondents as set about the Department of Education and Science like mosquitoes around a swamp. I must say that I was a little surprised that he should refer to these bodies in that way. They are listed in Annexe D of the consultative document. They start with the Afro-Caribbean Teachers' Association, the Afro-West Indian Association and so on. There arc 100 of them—I will not list them but I believe that this is not a frivolous inquiry and is directed at the proper people.

The closing date has been mentioned already by two speakers—it is at the end of this week. Even if we were to ignore every submission received after this week, we would still not be in possession of all the comments we are likely to receive on this report. Still less would we be able to digest them. That being so, noble Lords will see that I cannot at this stage give any useful answer to the second part of the noble Lord's Question. The Government will not come to a conclusion on this report until they can do so in the light of all the informed opinions they are able to collect upon it. Therefore, I cannot say anything which would amount to a commitment on any part of it. I did in fact point this out earlier.

I make no complaint of the decision of the noble Lord to bring this debate this evening. I merely want to say that I am not resorting to a subterfuge in order to excuse the lack of a concrete reply. May I say that, before we have all the answers to the problems of the West Indian community, we shall have to ask a good many more questions. Indeed, I confidently expect that the committee itself will be doing just this, and we have heard of some from the noble Lord, Lord Swann. The West Indians are not, for instance, alone in being an ethnic minority group, yet different ethnic minority groups respond in different ways to what, superficially at least, are similar circumstances. We need to know very much more about the reasons for this before we leap to general conclusions about the causes. My noble friend Baroness Faithfull, in a most interesting speech, has shown us the fringes of this problem in the statistics she quoted on the size of age groups, on the levels of employment among mothers, and on the levels of unemployment among men, and so on.

Such inquiries require very sensitive handling and I note that the committee itself recognises this in the passage on page 67 which my noble friend quoted; that it would be wrong for the Government to take any initiatives on this front without first consulting the local authority associations, the teachers' associations, the Society of Education Officers, and representatives of the ethnic minority groups. The noble Lord, Lord Pitt of Hampstead, urged us to proceed. I take note of that urgency, but I hope he will agree that it must be done with caution. We have a lot of experience of difficulty over this in the past. Doubt about causes, and difficulties in coming at them, do not mean that there is nothing to be done. The potential capability of our fellow citizens of West Indian origin and their calibre is proved beyond doubt by the composition of the committee itself. The noble Lord, Lord Swann, has suggested—and I shall be fascinated to read his further investigations into this—that our present system of IQ testing actually masks this potential in early years and thus (although he did not draw this inference) leads teachers to expect and so encourage under-achievement.

If we look at the problem in its context and see it as part of that context, we shall see that a great deal is already in hand or in preparation. The context to which I refer was dramatically illuminated last summer in the streets of Toxteth and Brixton and again in the publication of the profoundly important report of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman. But it extended to many places other than these. Almost all of them are in inner city areas, and it is here that the ethnic minorities with which we are concerned have their homes. The Government are deeply concerned with their predicament. As your Lordships recall, after the civil disturbances of last summer the Prime Minister decided to give the Secretary of State for the Environment a special role in tackling the problems of Merseyside in general and inner Liverpool in particular. A special task force has been established to help in this, and it will take account throughout of the need to promote good community relations and reduce disadvantage among ethnic minority groups.

The noble Baroness, Lady David, asked for resources. My right honourable friend's announcement of additional resources for the inner cities last week provides further evidence of the Government's commitment. The pressures on public expenditure at present are very great indeed. Yet the level of resources the Government will be making available under the urban programme next year is £270 million. That is the highest ever in real terms. The new resources will be concentrated on capital works and will be deployed so as to generate as much matching private investment as possible. So the impact will be greater than that sum. Improvement of the physical environment and the creation of better job opportunities must bring benefit to both black and white schoolchildren through improvement of the whole atmosphere in which they are brought up. As my noble friend Lord Bellwin said last week, we certainly intend that ethnic minorities will benefit from the national resources. The right reverend Prelate said that this was a matter of great importance in changing the atmosphere of the schools, and this is endorsed by the noble Lord, Lord Swann. That is an initiative which the Government have already taken.

Urban programme resources are already being used for projects which benefit the ethnic minorities. In 1980–81 some 350 projects were funded which were specifically for the benefit of ethnic minorities. In 1981–82 a further 130 projects are approved. Many of the other urban programme projects have a bearing on their needs.

The noble Baroness, Lady David, was kind enough to warn me in advance of her interest in Section 11 of the Local Government Act 1966, and most other speeches in this debate have referred to it. At the time when the consultative document we are debating was issued, the Home Office was in the middle of its review of the operation of Section 11 funding, and organisations with comments to make on this subject were asked to do so as soon as possible. In response to the urging of the Home Affairs Committee and of Lord Scarman, my right honourable friend made it clear in another place on 10th December that he intended to alter the rules covering the administration of Section 11 grant so as to make it more appropriate to the circumstances of the day. If the comments on the Rampton Report reveal that further changes in the funding system might be thought desirable, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science will no doubt wish to draw this to the attention of the Home Secretary.

The Home Office has been concerned with other aspects of what I have termed the context of this report. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary published on 17th November a report of a study by his officials into the incidence of racial attacks. He has outlined in his foreword to the report the lines of action he intends to pursue. But the report we are concerned with is concerned with the narrower world of education which exists within the context that I have been considering. I have no intention of suggesting that any part of the education of children in the community does not contribute in some degree to their behaviour within that society or outside it. But I would not want noble Lords to think that the Government have awaited the publication of the interim report, let alone consultation, before they took any action. Some of what has been done has had to be done by exhortation.

Education in this country is not centralised as it is in some others. Control is dispersed to local authorities to be exercised within boundaries set by Government, but to detailed specifications that are not laid down in Whitehall. Very much that is done, therefore, is done either in response to local needs or to central advice rather than to central direction. Under this head the Government have encouraged certain local education authorities to establish special preparatory courses aimed particularly at students from ethnic minorities to enable them to reach the standard necessary for entry to training courses for teaching social work, or general higher education. Noble Lords have referred to the necessity of getting people into these professional posts so that they shall provide a " role model "—I think it was my noble friend Lady Faithfull who mentioned this—and thus your brilliant cook does not become a secretary. That is the initiative we have taken already in this direction.

I should also mention the Caribbean Teacher Exchange scheme.

Lord Avebury

My Lords, the committee report says that only two such schemes are going now. What are the Government doing to encourage more of them?

Lord Elton

My Lords, it is part of Government policy. I regret I cannot quantify it, but I shall write to the noble Lord as to the future plans.

Noble Lords referred to the value of exchanges between the home country and the Caribbean. These are going on. I happen to have been to two receptions for exchange teachers in exactly that scheme in the last two years, and have met them. There are also schemes for exchanges in the United States, which I think the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, commended in his speech. Maybe the scale is not yet big enough, but it is actually happening and it is producing results, as I clearly understood in my conversations with the teachers concerned.

Of course, the attitude of teachers to their pupils is an important factor. It can be an overridingly important factor in some instances. It always is in any classroom in any community. The noble Lord, Lord Pitt, spoke both of explicit racism which all of us deplore, and of what the report, perhaps in an infelicitious phrase, calls " covert "—I would call it " unintentional or unconscious "—racialism as well.

On teacher training, the department and the inspectorate take every opportunity to encourage consideration by the training institutes of the best way to ensure that students are adequately prepared for teaching in today's multiracial society. At present about half of all initial training institutions appear to be offering relevant studies, and the fact that many of the others are now reviewing the content of their courses offers an opportunity for further development.

I do not wish to extend my speech overlong. However, I think I should mention that it was in March this year that the Government urged local education authorities to take into account the wide range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds of their pupils when planning the curriculum. The department also promotes research by supporting the work of certain voluntary bodies. Present and recent beneficiaries include the National Association for Multiracial Education; the Caribbean Communications Project; the National Association for the Teaching of English as a Second Language to Adults and the National Committee for Mother Tongue Teaching.

Reference has been made to the work of the inspectorate. It is also effective in this field. Its central task is to assess trends and standards in the educational system. But as part of their routine inspection activity all inspectors give attention to the needs of ethnic minority pupils and students. Within the programme there are also some inspections and surveys which concentrate specifically upon the needs of these groups. I should add that they advocate good practice everywhere, and certainly a failure to involve all members of staff in pastoral activities in the school or to involve parents as closely as possible in the teaching of their children is bad practice. I do not think that we need to wait, and we have not waited, for the report to exercise pressure in this field. Parental involvement in governing bodies is, as noble Lords already know, part of Government official policy.

The department has not been idle in this matter; nor have the Government underestimated, and nor should your Lordships underestimate, the amount of work that is going on in this field. The committee of inquiry that produced this report is not labouring alone in that field. We had already begun to tackle the job before they reported. We shall continue with the benefit of their advice in the future. That process is not yet concluded and, as I said at the opening of my speech, I cannot tell the noble Lord that the specific impact of those findings will be upon the policy of Her Majesty's Government. The holistic approach which the noble Lord asked for cannot be produced as a result of this report alone. My noble friend Lady Faithfull has shown how important are the very early years, the pre-school years in which toddlers learn to stand on their own two feet, and estimate their own relationships in the community in which they live.

It remains for me only to thank all those who have contributed to the interim report, including Mr. Rampton, for their good work and to wish the noble Lord, Lord Swann, and his committee every success in their continuing work towards their final report, which I am sure will be of the greatest interest and value.

Lord Young of Dartington

My Lords, before the Minister sits down, on the question that I put to him specifically, can he say that there definitely will be a response in full from the Government to this report, and that there will not be a period of waiting until the Swann Report is published? I also hope that the Government will accept that the full response has not yet been evoked.

Several Noble Lords

Order, order!

Lord Young of Dartington

My Lords, the noble Lord was rather implying that there has been a complete response.

Lord Elton

My Lords, as I had actually sat down, I shall merely say that all I said we had to wait for was the consultative process.