§ 4.53 p.m.
§ Baroness Lockwood rose to move, That this House takes note of the report of the European Communities Committee on Young People in the European Community (14th Report, Session 1990–91, HL Paper 63).
§ The noble Baroness said: My Lords, many of the reports that the Select Committee brings before the House relate to specific Community policy instruments dealing with specialised subject areas. This one is somewhat different. Although part of the report is taken up with an assessment of a number of Community action programmes aimed at young people, its prime intention is to serve as a contribution 435 to a Community-wide debate aimed at the formulation and co-ordination of policy for young people throughout the Community and for more effective ways of associating them with the development of the European Community.
§ The report entailed a long inquiry by Sub-Committee C, covering a wide area of Community and national activity. In that, we were greatly helped by the co-operation of witnesses from both home and overseas. I should like to thank also members of the sub-committee for their support throughout the inquiry. I should particularly like to thank Michael Pownall, who acted as clerk to the committee at a time when he was also undertaking new responsibilities on behalf of the House. Perhaps I may also thank the Government for the consideration given to the report and for the detailed written response which has been made available in time for today's debate.
There are within the Community 130 million young people under the age of 25—that is the Community definition of young people—out of a total population of 340 million. Yet, as the report states in paragraph 1:
neither in the European Community nor in Member States have coordinated policies been developed towards young people because their needs invariably cover a great diversity of policy areas which are often the responsibility of different departments".
§ The Commission memorandum Young People in the European Community—one of the three main documents on which the inquiry was based—had as its objective to stimulate a debate on young people and in particular to focus on the disadvantaged. Consequently, an important section of the report is concerned with problems facing that group. That is to be found in Part 4 of the report to which I shall return later.
§ The two other documents on which the inquiry is based are draft decisions for a second phase of the Youth for Europe programme and a new three-year phase for the PETRA programme. Both those proposals are designed to encourage the mobility of young people and to increase the opportunities available to them as the single market nears completion.
§ The first phase of the Youth for Europe programme from 1989 to 1991 enables young people to take part in a wide range of project-based exchange activities, examples of which are given in the report. The proposed second phase from 1992 to 1994 extends the programme to include support for voluntary service activity, which the committee welcomed. More significantly, it proposed that an increased proportion of the extended budget—not less than 30 per cent.—should be reserved for disadvantaged young people, again a move welcomed by the committee.
§ The PETRA programme is concerned with vocational training. The first phase started in 1988 and will run until 1992. The main element is to establish a European-wide network of training partnerships involving the exchange of young people and staff. Currently, there are 250 partnership projects across the Community. The programme also funds small-scale projects which are initiated and managed by the young people themselves. The proposed extension of 436 PETRA would enhance the programme considerably and aims to achieve 100,000 exchanges between 1992 and 1994.
§ The committee supports both those two programmes in general terms and particularly welcomes the increased opportunities that they provide, especially for those young people who left education at an early age. Nevertheless, we enter a caveat: the Commission does not appear to have received an evaluation of those programmes before proposing a second phase. In the case of the PETRA programme, the committee understands that the Commission was responding to a request from the Council of Ministers for the existing programme to be extended. However, in general, the committee takes the view that, wherever possible, existing programmes should be evaluated before new and extended programmes are introduced—a matter on which I understand the Government have very strong views and which is referred to in their response.
§ There is a whole range of community programmes directed at young people. They are listed in Appendix 3. Several of the better known projects, especially those with substantial budgets, are directed to those in higher education. The new PETRA programme, with its now large budget, goes some way to redress the balance toward those less fortunate people in the Community.
Not all the programmes were examined by the committee. But on the basis of the few at which we looked and on the evidence from witnesses, it became clear that young people and organisations have difficulty in finding their way through the complex mass of programmes. In the view of the committee, as much support as possible should be available, particularly to those small groups or individuals who are negotiating contracts directly with Europe from their local base. We also recommend that, where possible, programmes should be consolidated and the procedures simplified. However, the committee recognizes—as the Government again point out in their response—that many of the programmes are directed to specific problems and needs.
§ Despite the range of activities set out in Appendix 3, by far the most significant funding for projects involving young people comes from the European structural funds. One of its five priority objectives is to help young people into the labour market. In 1989 some 73 per cent. of Social Fund expenditure benefited young people, much of it in training initiatives. Since then the greater flexibility allowed under the rules governing the fund has led the UK Government to reduce the proportion spent on young people. As reasons for that, the Department of Employment refers to the increased amount of funding, the declining number of young people and the need for greater support for the long-term unemployed. But given that young people themselves regard unemployment as their major problem and given the fact that unemployment among the young is rising at a tremendous rate, one is bound to have reservations about the Government's strategy.
§ That brings me to Part 4 of the report which deals with a range of problems facing young people in the Community. They are examined under the headings 437 of: mobility and demography; unemployment; education and training; homelessness; and family change and the transition to adulthood. I hope that some of those issues will be more fully covered by colleagues on the sub-committee.
§ Many of the problems arise from the transition to adulthood and as such affect all young people to some extent. I was particularly struck by the evidence that we received from the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, referred to in paragraph 79. The witness told the committee that the increasing demands for qualified and better educated young people meant that more young people remained longer in education or were involved in a process of to-ing and fro-ing between work and education and were therefore more dependent on parental support for longer, often into their twenties. Increasing reliance on family support inevitably favours those young people in families in the strongest social and economic circumstances.
§ The point was underlined by Ms. McKechnie from Shelter, who stated that for a whole variety of reasons, social and economic, many young people could not use the family as a base and for them the transition from dependence to independence was very difficult. Yet, as she said, for young people who go to university a highly supportive system is provided which helps them in that transition.
§ Perhaps the system is not as supportive as it was, as we have debated before in this House. Nevertheless, the difference in support levels for those in higher education and the remainder is quite considerable.
§ Much of the evidence, received from a wide variety of organisations, focused on what some see as a small (but nevertheless growing) number of disadvantaged young people who face a whole range of interconnected situations. They affect young people across the Community as a whole. Their intensity depends on the extent of the services and institutions available to deal with them, which differ from country to country and arise from different traditions and values. As such, they are problems which must largely be tackled by individual member states.
§ The committee by no means recommends an extension of Community competence to deal with housing and such problems. Nevertheless, it feels that there is a role for the Community. The Commission could play a clearer role in co-ordination and the dissemination of information about young people. For example, the committee found contradictory views on the likely increase in the movement of young people across borders after 1992. Whether there will be an increase in numbers, especially of the young unemployed and homeless, with a consequent exacerbation of social problems, we were unable to judge. Consequently we felt that to be an area in need of urgent study by the Commission—a view not shared by the Government.
§ We also felt that both in the Commission and within the UK Government there is a need for greater co-ordination of youth policies. At home we modestly suggested that that might be done through regular 438 ministerial involvement, either by a steering committee of Ministers or a single Minister of State, whose responsibility would include youth matters. I was a little surprised at some of the press reaction to that suggestion, particularly, as the evidence makes clear, since it is something that the young people themselves would like. Evidence from the Commission indicated that 10 out of 12 member states have such a Minister.
§ As we said in paragraph 92, the demand from witnesses for more co-ordination among government departments was widespread. Mr. Donoghue, the chairperson of the British Youth Council and the UK representative on the European youth forum, clearly felt the need for a single Minister, not an assortment of departmental Ministers, to speak for British youth in the Council of Ministers.
§ The committee found the evidence disturbing. It seemed to us that the approach of the Government when we met the Minister, if I may say so to him, was somewhat complacent. Nevertheless there is much common ground between the Government and the committee, as the response makes clear, despite some areas of difference to which I have already referred. Other areas, such as support and funding for the youth services, still seem to us to remain vulnerable despite the Government's response. If our youth service is to give the lead which the young witnesses demonstrated to the committee that it could do, then its resource base must be secure.
§ However, our purpose in recommending this report for debate was not to recommend simple solutions to complex problems. It was to contribute to the Community's debate on the position and needs of young people and to raise the profile of those needs in your Lordships' House. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That this House takes note of the report of the European Communities Committee on Young People in the European Community (14th Report, Session 1990–91, HL Paper 63).—(Baroness Lockwood.)
§ 5.11 p.m.
§ Baroness Brigstocke
My Lords, I wish to begin by thanking the noble Baroness, Lady Lockwood, for her leadership and guidance of Sub-Committee C and for her clear exposition today of the many issues that were raised at the meetings.
I had the privilege of becoming a member of Sub-Committee C half-way through its consideration on Young People in the European Community. It was my first introduction to the work of committees in your Lordships' House and it certainly extended my education and training. Although I had been a teacher for 40 years, a headmistress for 25 years, and president of Bishop Creighton House, a settlement in Fulham with a major concern for youth training and employment in that borough, for 10 years, I am ashamed to say that I had little idea of the range of education, training, voluntary service and exchange programmes available to the young people in the European Community.
That leads me to my first point. What is the use of having the opportunities available if teachers in schools, further education colleges, universities and 439 polytechnics, parents, employers, youth workers and, most important, the young people themselves are unaware of their existence? Our report draws attention to the fact that some organisations have appointed a member of staff to learn how, as it were, to work the system to his or her personal benefit. That should not be. Such programmes must be made public. Applying for a place on them should be simple and straightforward, not shrouded in seemingly foreign mystery.
Two programmes in particular interest me. The noble Baroness has already mentioned the PETRA scheme. It gives young workers technical and vocational education and initial training, often involving exchanges. The PETRA scheme started in 1989 and is due to be revised. It does, however, need careful monitoring and attention must be given not only to publicising it but also to giving enough back up and support to the young trainees during and after their courses.
The ERASMUS programme also deserves to be better known. I have personal experience of its effectiveness. While visiting Prague in February this year, I met three young men who were clearly enjoying their tour of this historic city. I heard them talking in German to a waitress—I thought that it was rather good German—and then realised that they were British. I learned that all three were engineering students at London's South Bank Polytechnic whose director, the noble Baroness, Lady Perry, is a Member of your Lordships' House.
As part of their Bachelor of Engineering course in electrical engineering, the three students were spending a year at the Hochschule in Bremen where for the first few months they had been learning German. None had studied German at school. They were now working in industrial firms in Bremen. Throughout their ERASMUS year they were being encouraged to travel in Europe; hence their weekend visit to Czechoslovakia from Germany. Erasmus himself would surely have approved.
Evidently the South Bank Polytechnic sends mechanical engineering students to Mannheim on the same ERASMUS scheme and is attempting to establish a similar exchange programme in France—with greater difficulty. At a time when there are so many problems facing young people, and so much criticism—not always well founded—of the education and training standards in this country, I am delighted to offer some good news. Those young engineering students of ours are welcomed with enthusiasm in Bremen and Mannheim—to such an extent, so the dean of the engineering department tells me, that the Germans guarantee all of them employment in an industrial company in Germany once they have qualified. Germany is working positively towards 1993, appreciating the value of workers who will have gained double award accreditation: the B.Eng. in Britain and the Dipl.Ing.—the equivalent of our M.Eng. degree—in Germany.
I hope for the development and expansion of ERASMUS and I beg deans, senior tutors and others in responsible positions to make sure that they publicise the scheme on noticeboards and in students' 440 magazines. Schools too can help. I have great hopes for the newly formed ESHA—the European Secondary Heads Association. It has titles in German and French too which I shall not attempt to pronounce. It is based in the Netherlands. It will link with other educational organisations representing teachers, governors, officials and parents under the umbrella of the Permanent Liaison Committee of European Associations in Europe—charmingly known as PLEASE.
My final point touches on an aspect of the development and encouragement of young people which has not, so far as I know, been touched on in the Commission memorandum. Museums have an important role in helping people, especially young people, to explore their own identity and place in society. Those young people who do not qualify for PETRA or ERASMUS can be helped greatly by hands-on courses in their local museums. For example, the Geffrye museum in Shoreditch—I have to declare an interest; I am chairman of the trustees —runs popular and successful craft courses for young housebound mothers, most of whom are well under 25, and gives them a step up the ladder of confidence.
I have touched on some of the positive aspects of youth in the Community. Others will talk of the downside: the thousands of disadvantaged young men and women, some homeless, who are marginalised and demoralised. They will talk of those young people's worrying plight far more tellingly than I can. Let us do our utmost in the Community to help the young people who are disadvantaged. However, let us also do our very best to nourish and develop the talents of our gifted young throughout Europe, many of whom may also be socially disadvantaged. Many of the gifted young are the hope of future peace and understanding.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ Lord Addington
My Lords, I speak in the debate with a certain amount of anxiety because I was not lucky enough to be a member of the committee. As I am one of the younger Members of this House that was rather remiss of me. Furthermore, I feel a little abashed about speaking so early in the debate but, as my noble friend Lord Ross is unable to be present, I am the first person to speak from these Benches.
I am impressed by the quality of work that has gone into the report. I congratulate all those involved in its preparation. In particular I am impressed by the fact that the report concentrates on people at the lower end of the education and opportunities ladder. Surely they need the most help and always will. The two main integration programmes, PETRA and the Youth Forum, are excellent and overdue ideas. If we are to have an integrated labour market we must ensure that a country such as ours, which has a tradition of being bad at languages and thus at integrating, must take steps forward. The people who are traditionally the educational failures—those who have failed inside the education system—usually dropped the study of languages or failed also in that area. Therefore it is important that they are exposed to another language outside the system. It will be easier for them then to 441 pick up the rudimentary workings of another language; for instance, the verbal skills of asking directions, ordering a cup of tea and so forth. They are vital skills for living in a society, but those people will not have learnt them at school. One can hope only that exposure to another culture will give them an advantage over someone who has merely book-learned the language.
The report points to the many problems of youth, whose existence is reasonably well accepted, but one must put them in proper context as regards Europe as a whole. We must quickly address the problem of the further education and training of the mass of people who have been through the school system. Again, I refer to those who have not done well at school and who have not obtained the greater benefit of the higher education system and the support available in it. As noble Lords who attended our debates on the student loans legislation will know, I do not believe that the Government's record on providing assistance and support through higher education is good. However, one can safely say that the people who have contact with it are a thousand times better off than those people who come nowhere near that stage.
The whole issue appears to be interrelated to our social security system. The people who traditionally do not enter the higher education system are often those who are highly dependent on the social security system. There are the problems of housing and claiming social security benefits. Largely through the accident of social upbringing, and to a personal extent, some people are alienated from the system. I shall not bore noble Lords by going into the long pseudo-sociological argument about expectations generating their own degree of reality; but people from a non-educational background are not high educational achievers.
People who are least equipped with academic qualifications find themselves having to deal with the job market. Invariably they come from family groups which are the least financially well off and socially acclimatised to supporting people in their late teens and early 20s. Increasingly, such young people must be supported and helped for a longer period. That is difficult for someone in receipt of a grant, particularly in view of the new loans system. It is almost impossible to find families from what was traditionally called the blue-collar section, with a lower income, able to support a young person through higher education and training, especially for longer periods. We must look for a way of supporting young people through this difficult time.
It is unfortunate that the social security system appears to be weighted heavily against the young. There is in particular a ludicrous anomaly that I have never been able to understand. Young people between the ages of 16 and 17 will receive about £22 per week, between the ages of 18 and 24 about £29 per week and over 25 almost £37. They are not large amounts, but it is odd that they discriminate against the young. Young men between, say, 16 and 17 years are still growing and therefore they need a better diet and new clothing. The Government should look into the 442 system. The young appear to be discriminated against probably for traditional reasons; I do not suggest that the Government have consciously decided to discriminate against them. However, there is pressure on them at home because they are a financial burden. When considering the problem of the young it is increasingly obvious that they face a variety of problems at one time. There is a transitional period during which they are trying to find a direction in their lives and also the means to pursue it.
I was interested in particular in paragraph 35 of the report dealing with the setting up of advice shops for the young and the introduction of a new youth card. There has for some time been a requirement for advice shops for the young. Many schemes are available to help young people, assuming that we have overcome the financial difficulties but, unfortunately, they are difficult to track down. If we accept that such young people will not be used to dealing with forms and so forth in classrooms—and I accept that many people will not agree—they must be assisted through the complications of finding help. To a degree schools can provide such assistance, but people who have not done well at school will not have taken full advantage of the careers advice service. Once one has left school, one's situation changes.
Greater emphasis should be placed on providing a centre of information for the young. It is hoped that they will then be able to find their own way onto the various schemes that have been mentioned. If they can go on one of the many government training schemes, the PETRA programme or the European youth scheme, they will be better placed to take advantage of employment opportunities throughout the Community.
I repeat that I was not a member of the original committee. But I believe that unless a co-ordinated approach is taken to help young people in that way, whether through a ministry or some sort of glorified committee, the problem will never be properly solved. Most people waste a great deal of energy chasing around in circles trying to find answers. They become dispirited and they give up, but the problem could be dealt with through the existing mechanisms. I ask the Government to help young people to use the existing machinery.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Lady Kinloss
My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Lockwood, for the kindly way in which she chaired the committee. Not only the committee but the whole House is indebted to her for the very hard work which she put into steering the committee through an enormous amount of evidence, both written and oral, which provides the resultant report before your Lordships today.
I fully agree with the recommendations of the report but I trust that some means may be evolved for co-ordinating the different government departments in this country which deal with youth problems. One problem raised by the 1992 single market is how much the mobility of young people in Europe will increase from this country and the other way round. On the whole witnesses agreed that disadvantaged young 443 people would lack the resources to move much or to travel in search of employment and accommodation. Obviously, they will not be able to sustain a job or training if they are searching for somewhere to live.
In her evidence, the director of the national bureau said that in recent discussion in Brussels young people with physical disabilities have been highlighted. The national bureau wished to ensure that any special provision or modifications would be built in to the design of buildings and would include the special needs of the blind, deaf and otherwise disabled. The needs of the disabled, whether in terms of sight, hearing or physical mobility, are often forgotten, even now.
Another point of anxiety which emerged from several of the witnesses was how little available information there was about the likelihood of young people moving in Europe in the 1990s. Apparently we have no idea how many young people from EC countries can be expected to come here. It appears that many member states of the EC have problems with small groups of disadvantaged young people who form an isolated element in society. The existence of that group as revealed by the evidence given to the committee may have serious implications for integration into Europe.
In evidence from Shelter, we were told in particular of the French foyer system. That is a form of hostel but different from the English meaning of "hostel". The system is education and training centred and led. Shelter is trying to establish a similar system in this country but adapted to local needs. The foyer is essentially a young person's hostel which provides link training employment and housing with a large element of social education and development of social skills within the foyer. Thus, a young person when leaving afoyer will have made friends and will not feel lonely or isolated. The foyer system does not cover all needs; but if developed, it could go a long way towards integrating young people into society.
From some of the evidence which the committee heard, it was evident that the profusion of qualifications is confusing to young people and the various opportunities on offer are as muddling as Hampton Court's maze when trying to take advantage of training in Europe. The noble Baroness, Lady Lockwood, has already explained the PETRA programme. The intention to extend and revise that programme is to be welcomed in particular for those young people who have left education at an early age and are not qualified to attend programmes for those in higher education. The overall objective is to increase the European dimension for technical and vocational education leading to a recognised qualification.
To conclude, I wish to mention that Shelter reports that the Department of Employment has expressed an interest and I understand that the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Mr. Robert Jackson, proposes to visit some French schemes later this year. The department has also seconded a civil servant to investigate the links to training agencies. That is very much to be welcomed.
444 I am delighted to know also that the Commissioner, Madame Papandreou, is particularly interested in the European foyer scheme which would provide the means for young people in Europe to be mobile without being at risk of exploitation and homelessness. I hope very much that that scheme succeeds.
§ 5.35 p.m.
§ Baroness Hilton of Eggardon
My Lords, my concern is not with the majority of young people in the European Community but with those that this report describes as the:small but significant group of especially disadvantaged young people who form an isolated or 'marginalised' element of societyin all the member states of the European Community.
This disadvantaged and alienated section of our society has been particularly visible in our cities this last summer—stealing cars; wrecking, burning and looting houses and shops; and fighting with police officers. Particularly shocking this last few years have been the huddled shapes of children sleeping in doorways and the young beggars in the subways of the London Underground. Indeed, we seem to have returned to the standards of Victorian England.
These unhappy young people seem to have become more visible. That is partly because of the vivid images we all see on television, partly because different groups in society are much more intermingled than they were even as little as 30 years ago when I first started work in the East End of London. The East End of London used to be a vast foreign country stretching from Aldgate Pump to beyond the Royal Group of Docks with its own, often violent, culture but with its own values and a considerable degree of homogeneity. That culture has fragmented and has not only become more multi-cultural but also has rich and poor living cheek by jowl in close proximity where the affluence and possessions of one inevitably increase the envy and despair of the other. This is true not only of the Docklands development area but also of the so-called "crescent of deprivation" of Islington, Hackney and Tower Hamlets which lies around the eastern fringes of that symbol of money-making—the City of London.
Other cities of the United Kingdom are subject to the same phenomenon as we have seen in Oxford, Cardiff and in Newcastle this summer. Indeed, I understand there is a luxury development being built within sight of the Meadow Wall Estate which, moreover, has had no effect on the appalling rate of unemployment—85 per cent.—among the young people there.
In London in March this year—and the number must have increased since then—there were calculated to be 40 unemployed for every advertised vacancy. Few of the unemployed, especially from places like Islington and Hackney, will have the necessary skills to succeed against this level of competition. Quite rightly a great deal of emphasis has been placed on training people in vocational skills so that they can enter the job market. However, for those with no hope of getting a job such training must seem a hollow mockery.
445 There used to be intermediary rungs on the ladder between the affluent and the less well-off in our society, which gave young people hope and the incentive to work hard to improve their position in life. Now, for perhaps 10 per cent. of our population, 5 million or more people, the gap appears to be unbridgeable between their own situation of damp and decaying, or non-existent, housing, on featureless estates, with struggling schools and closing factories, and the situation of their near neighbours with their cars, centrally heated homes and foreign holidays. That impression of what constitutes a normal family life in Britain today is confirmed by endless glossy images on television. As Professor Ashton said in his evidence to the European Communities Committee, there is a real danger of a group of young people being "trapped" below the base of the labour market.
Young people whose lives are empty and who can make no plans for their future will inevitably become bored and depressed (indeed, boredom is often a symptom of depression) and so they seek interest and excitement wherever it may be found, often by turning to crime. As the noble Baroness, Lady Macleod, said last week:thousands of youngsters … get into trouble because they are bored and say that they have nothing to do".She advocated more opportunities for young people to take part in sport and I would not disagree with that, but we need to do far more if we are not to have a large and permanently disadvantaged underclass increasingly prone to crime and violence as the gap between themselves and the rest of society widens.
First, we need long-term strategic planning on a regional basis to provide the necessary consistent framework for local authorities so that they can improve the infrastructure of housing, employment and education. Those cannot be left to the vagaries of market forces or quickly scrambled-together inner city initiatives imposed by central government. The Government also must delegate more real power to local authorities to enable them to respond directly to the local problems with which they are familiar. For example, by being allowed to spend their capital receipts from the sale of council houses on further house building.
Currently, European Community grants for declining industrial areas tend to be absorbed into central government funds. EC funding should be additional to existing funding and not be subject to the expenditure controls imposed on local authorities. In another part of Europe (France) the mayor of even the tiniest commune of 100 people is a discretionary budget holder. We need to learn to have that sort of commitment to local knowledge and autonomy.
Secondly, there needs to be more immediate support for youth workers and other agencies in both the voluntary and statutory sector that can introduce different dimensions and some hope into the lives of our young people. As my noble friend Lord Richard pointed out last week, two-thirds of local authorities had to cut back on their youth provision last year. It 446 is possible that that might in part be connected with the problems that we have seen with disenchanted and antagonistic youth.
Education can take many forms, in addition to the purely academic or vocational. In the absence of any reasonable prospect of obtaining a job, as in parts of London or Newcastle, it may be that not vocational education but education to develop self confidence and social skills is what is required to enable young people to escape from the trap to which they are condemned. For some of them crimes against property must have a symbolic significance as well as providing excitement and a means to acquiring consumer goods or ready cash. Urgent action is of course needed to reduce the current high level of property crime.
The recent Home Office report on crime prevention —the Morgan Report—refers to the need for durable long-term schemes to divert young people from crime. The words "durable" and "long-term" are very important. Policy, as many witnesses to the European Communities Committee testified, must be coherent and co-ordinated between different agencies. Without those requisites, we will continue to be surprised by the wholly predictable responses of young people to feelings of despair and entrapment.
§ 5.42 p.m.
§ Baroness Elles
My Lords, yesterday throughout the country we spent time remembering the young people killed in two successive world wars. I therefore particularly welcome the opportunity today to debate in your Lordships' House the prospect of the future of our present young people who, we believe, will not face the trauma of going to war. Nevertheless, they experience other kinds of problems which we must attempt to solve with the co-operation of the Community, governments and voluntary organisations.
The programmes initiated by the Commission in favour of young people seek to provide models of good practice with a European dimension in matters of education and training, leaving national, regional and local authorities the task of implementing and running the programmes. To my mind, among its many other duties, that is an ideal role for the Commission, with the co-operation of governments and voluntary agencies. I particularly welcome the report coming from Sub-Committee C and congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Lockwood, on producing the document which is so full of information. It covers a wide range of matters. In fact, the wide range of its contents reflects to a large extent the many problems which affect youth and which cannot be given a blanket overall solution. Each problem must be dealt with separately, carefully and looked at on its own. We must have the sense and understanding to say, "This is a problem here. It will not be the same as elsewhere and the solution will not be the same". That is an important aspect that comes out of the document.
Among the three documents which form the basis of the report, there is a list of a wide range of European Community activities relating to youth.
447 They all give opportunities to young people who would otherwise not be able to benefit from local initialives.
I should like to make a few points arising from the report itself. In paragraphs 102 and 103 I was somewhat surprised and rather sad to see no mention of the role of Members of the European Parliament in acting either as a source of information to their constituents or as a connection between their constituents and the European Commission. That is part of their job. I hope that out of this debate will come an understanding by the British public that that is what MEPs are elected for. It is their job to act as a link between the central authority in Brussels and their constituents.
Another point which concerned me was the number of departments involved in dealing with any specific subject. I know that it is difficult in an administration for one Minister to be responsible for one subject. However, in one programme to which I shall turn later we had to deal with the DTI, the Department of Employment and the Department of Education and Science. One never really understands to whom one is meant to speak and what the result will be. That is a failure to recognise the need for one contact to deal with one specific problem.
Another point I wish to make concerns a statement by Professor Brimmer, who speaks of young people not being able to move south due to high rents. At one stage Reading and the area around the Thames Valley had an unemployment rate of only 2 per cent. Firms were desperate to obtain young people from the North of England—or anywhere in the United Kingdom. Housing, flats and every conceivable kind of amenity were offered. Either the young would not come at all or, if they did come, they would stay only a few days or a maximum of a week. They returned home because they were happier at home without a job than being in what was to them an alien culture. They may have missed their girl friend or the shops that they knew, spoke a different kind of language or had different interests. My point is not that the children went home; I can understand that. But to say houses are more expensive in the south and therefore young people will not come south is not the easy answer. It is a more fundamental and difficult human problem.
The other point I wish to make concerns evidence given by Professor Ashton in paragraph 67. He gives a variety of reasons why some young people do not appreciate the value of education. He mentioned matters such as the national core curriculum. I am certain that those young people not interested in education have never heard of the national core curriculum. In any case, that is a comparatively new episode in our educational history. I suggest that it is more the attitude of the parents. They believe that education is free; they go away for the day and leave their children at school. It does not matter what happens to them. However, those of us who for many years have dealt with members of the Asian community, for instance, know full well that the vast majority of those parents, and certainly those I have had the honour and pleasure of knowing, pay the most tremendous attention not only to education but also 448 to the success of their children. In the Thames Valley schools one will always find Asian children doing extremely well in their work. That has nothing to do with being less deprived or more deprived or having less or more money. The value that parents attach to the importance of education for their children and that they should prosper in a British society affects the child's attitude. That is probably more fundamental than the national core curriculum.
The head master's approach to education and the value he attaches to it is also important. Within the space of 10 miles one can have 200 children leaving a school's sixth form where every child obtains a job of some kind, training or a place within a college of education. Yet a few miles down the road the headmaster of another school will say, "I tell my children that if 50 per cent. obtain a job they will be lucky". The attitude of the headmaster has a tremendous effect on education. I do not believe that I can go along with some of the easy answers which are given as regards some aspects of the report.
I wish to mention three youth programmes, two of which are mentioned in the report. I have had the honour of being connected with them both in their foundation and in their running as either the chairman or in some other capacity. The first is the COMETT programme which has proved to be an invaluable tool. It was started in 1985 at Windsor by the then commissioner, Mr. Peter Sutherland. It has stimulated links between industry, colleges of education and universities which certainly did not exist at the time. That was through the establishment of what is known as UETPs, which are university educational links. TARGET in the Thames Valley was one of the first.
These bodies are concerned specifically with advanced technological training, especially information technology, resulting in the sharing of experience; effective technological transfer from research to industry, the setting up of training projects on a trans-national basis, and thereby giving young people opportunities for work placements. The level of student placements on the Continent has been outstanding. In the first COMETT programme which ran for between three and five years, 4,000 young people throughout Europe exchanged work experience in different parts of the Community. If one can measure success in terms of statistics, within its first year COMETT II, the second stage of the programme, has benefited 4,000 students with the possibility of exchange.
Therefore, not only are young people being encouraged and enabled to learn about the other countries of the EC; they also acquire other languages and technical skills. The exchanges have proved beneficial not only to the young themselves but also to the companies. They have started contacts and learnt themselves. Many of the companies in the Thames Valley which received young French and German students are very loath to see them return home. Links have been built up. One noble Lord has already mentioned that these young people will return to the firms where they received the work experience. That can only be to the good.
449 The other side of the matter is that it makes young people, who would perhaps not be prepared to look at their local industry or go to a local firm because it is a "dirty job" being an engineer, go abroad and suddenly see a new aspect of industry; they return with a completely different outlook. As can be seen, the COMETT programme has been a considerable success. It has had a multiplier effect. The task force of DG V in the Commission is to be warmly congratulated on the initiative and stimulus that it has given to making the project so successful throughout the Community. I very much hope that the Government will put all their weight behind seeing that the COMETT programme is continued when COMETT II comes to an end.
There is another initiative which has had considerable support from DG X. That is the information and cultural directorate headed by Commissioner Dondelinger. It has given very great help to the European Community Youth Orchestra. That is in quite a different field. It was launched in 1975 by Mr. Heath. It has been in operation since 1977. Over 1,200 young musicians from all the 12 member states have played in that orchestra throughout the Community and outside in countries such as India, China and the United States. That orchestra has played under the batons of the world's leading conductors. From the beginning Claudio Abbado has been its musical director. That of itself draws support not only from the Commission, but from governments and from private sector financiers. In my view that is the ideal trio for financing any projects of this kind. The orchestra has played under the batons of Herbert von Karajan, Sir Georg Solti and Vladimir Ashkenazy during this year. They are just a few of the very distinguished conductors who have given their time.
This activity is a model that we should follow in other fields. The noble Baroness, Lady Hilton, mentioned that sport was a good idea but perhaps did not put too much stress on it. Leading sportsmen could give of their time to help young people, particularly the disadvantaged and the disabled, to run sports meetings, or motor racing drivers might work out some of the terrible complexes that we now see in joy riding. If sportsmen who lead in playing football, rugby or tennis were to give of their time, they could do a tremendous amount to attract young people into a world of leisure which is not connected with crime, but with enjoyment, skill and leadership. The sports leaders in this country and throughout the Community could do a great deal to change the attitude of so many of our young people who lead such disadvantaged, unhappy and sometimes dangerous lives.
Without taking up too much of your Lordships' time, I wish to mention an organisation because of the comments made about the Youth Forum that consists of people who are no longer young. A European youth parliament has recently been established. It met for the first time this year at Oxford. It gives an opportunity for young people to discuss national political issues at EC level. The youth parliament will 450 be meeting regularly. It has already arranged for a session in April 1992. That will unite young people of all backgrounds, creeds, religions and race to discuss European matters with a European dimension.
These programmes give an example of excellent co-operation with the Commission, stimulating and co-ordinating national action and encouraging both national, regional and local initiatives in order to give opportunities for young people to benefit from membership of the EC. That includes all those whether disadvantaged or not.
I wish to comment on the point which the noble Lord, Lord Addington, rightly made as regards information reaching the young. What is necessary is not so much a meeting of the members of the steering committee of ministers, because they speak only to themselves or to their civil servants, but conferences of voluntary organisations. They are the bodies which are in touch with the recipients and those at the grass roots who need the information and who can use it. From time to time meetings of voluntary agencies attended by the Commission and a representative of the Government might go at least some way to bringing this information to the young so that they know what opportunities are available to them.
§ 5.58 p.m.
§ Lord Hunter of Newington
My Lords, I shall speak only briefly because so much of the ground has already been eloquently covered by our chairman. I wish to make two points. There must be few reports before this House to which a dozen or more government departments have contributed responses. That illustrates not only the quality of the report and of our chairman, but also the widespread concern and commitment of many government departments as regards the problems of young people.
On many occasions the Government have said that all young people should have the opportunity to take part in education and training until they are at least 18 years of age. There is a substantial commitment to this end contained in the White Paper, Education and Training for the 21st Century. As has been said, the committee's principal finding was that many young people in the Community face multiple problems. Those with minimal education and training are likely to have difficulty in obtaining permanent employment. Apart from those about whom I wish to speak in more detail, the committee also concluded that there exists in many member states a small but significant group of specially disadvantaged young people who form an isolated or marginalised element of society. They have been eloquently spoken about by the noble Baroness, Lady Hilton. They have been called by the media deprived or depraved. The conflict goes on in this country as to which is the cause of the situation.
The existence of this group and the many facets revealed by the evidence we received has profound implications for integration in Europe. The factors have been very well summarised by Shelter: the failure of the housing system to meet the needs of the young; the level of unemployment and the stagnation of wages in real terms; the progressive withdrawal and 451 reduce ion of benefits; and the complexities of benefits, relationship breakdown with parents and the decline of the extended family and community support, the relative failure of education and training systems to prepare young people for their role in society—something more than technical training—and the general social pressures giving rise to expectation of both economic and social independence. Many voluntary and statutory organisations have described these problems and the wide contribution of government departments to this response indicates an anxiety to contribute to the solution.
Another approach referred to by the noble Lady, Lady Kinloss, is to look at the experience of the young in the 16 to 25 year-old age group in terms of transition from dependence to independence. How does one facilitate the integration of the young into society? It was argued in evidence to us that other models in Europe may offer the young better opportunities of achieving independence—for example, in France. But transferring systems from one culture to another can be fraught with difficulties. Therefore, because of the complex and multi-faceted nature of this problem, the committee recommended that the Commission itself should draw up a general report on the situation of young people throughout the Community.
Some would argue that this could be an important development in 1992, when Britain assumes the presidency of the Community. In this area the role of the current president could be vitally important and the nature of the problem and the responsibilities involved would make the president a central focus. Such a policy would fit in with the declared intentions of the Community.
I ask the Government whether under these circumstances they would not reconsider the question of having a minister for the young or some other co-ordination role. Are the Government prepared to depart from the view expressed in their response that young people can best be served through actions which address specific issues rather than treating them as a minority group?
Perhaps I may tell your Lordships of a recent report which has given rise to anxiety. It is a report by the Children's Society which I think must be considered. It is a report based on 72 individual cases from five district health authorities in Wales and the West of England. They found that young people were being admitted to mental hospitals because of difficult behaviour at school or at home, problems with their friends, aggressive behaviour, or stealing. Once in psychiatric care there were no legal safeguards to protect their rights. Drugs, physical restraint and confinement in "time out" rooms were all used to control their behaviour.
Hearing this, one can understand the anxiety that is being expressed. I believe that in such a situation, there usually will be a lead department in government. However, the evidence that we have received suggests the problem is more complex and requires a different solution. Addressing specific issues when certain important aspects are not covered by those issues could in some cases lead to failure and a waste of 452 resources. One feels that under these circumstances we cannot avoid the responsibility of co-ordinating the whole field in this country and in Europe. Such a role seems to me to be an ideal opportunity for the British presidency in 1992.
§ 6.4 p.m.
§ Baroness Turner of Camden
My Lords, I speak as a member of the committee whose report is before the House and therefore, with your Lordships' leave, from the Back-Benches.
I commend the report to your Lordships. It is the result of much painstaking work in which we were helped by a large number of people and institutions, including voluntary organisations who made representations to us, and of course by our invaluable staff. I join many of your Lordships who have spoken in the debate in commending the work and the leadership given to us by our chairman the noble Baroness, Lady Lockwood.
There is no doubt that for some young people 1992, and all it stands for, is an exciting challenge. I have spoken to many young undergraduates who relish the idea of working elsewhere in the Community and who are confident of their ability to do so, equipped as they intend to be with good degrees and language skills. They are the fortunate ones. In the main, they come from relatively privileged backgrounds and stable family situations. Sadly, that is not the case for a number of young people. That was why the committee was right, in my view, to concentrate on the plight of the disadvantaged and the underprivileged.
However, the programmes embarked upon by the Community were criticised by a number of those who made representations to us on the basis that insufficient had been done to reach disadvantaged young people. The Commission is apparently aware of this, and it is now proposed that in the extension of the Youth for Europe programme at least a third of the appropriation will be set-aside to assist those from disadvantaged backgrounds. That is to be welcomed.
There is the further problem that youth organisations are not always run by young people but often by adult professionals in the field. There appear to be real difficulties in involving young people themselves. We discovered as a result of the evidence submitted to us that unemployment among young people is now perceived as a major problem—not just in the UK, it must be said. In Spain and Southern Italy, it actually appears to be worse. Nevertheless, it is quite a significant problem in the UK. Then there is family breakdown—as one witness put it to us, it is not much good wishing that we could go back to some mythical Victorian era. After all, not everyone had stable family backgrounds then. Dickens and Disraeli both knew about that and described it in their novels.
We have to face present-day conditions when one in three marriages ends in divorce, and there is a substantial increase in single parent families in households often headed by women working on low pay. Then there are often difficulties with step-parents. Many young people leave home because they no longer feel at home there. Sometimes they suffer physical or sexual abuse. As the Director of Shelter 453 put it to us, "It is not possible to turn back the tide. History is against you. Policy you can change in terms of housing and in other ways. Individual behaviour is somewhat more intransigent."
Thus some young people are caught up in a vicious circle—without a job they cannot get housing, without an address they will not get a job. It must be said that on this score we had some very pessimistic evidence. For example, NACRO said that there was "a revolving door syndrome—no home, no job, no money, crime, increasing isolation from society, imprisonment, no home on release and so on, back again in prison not long afterwards." The Director of Shelter also warned us that once young people are sleeping rough they can become a law and order problem.
Homelessness among the young is a problem not only in the UK, although it seems to have become worse here in recent years. We were interested to try to find out how our neighbours in the EC, whose societies face much the same kind of strains as our own, were coping. It seems that in Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium special facilities are available; and in France, as we have heard from the noble Lady, Lady Kinloss, there is apparent provision of low-rental hostel accommodation. These seemed ways of coping with the situation to some extent.
The Low Pay Unit stated without equivocation that the reason for homelessness among young people was that they could not afford anywhere to live. The Wages Act 1986 has had the effect of excluding young people from the protection of wages councils with the result that there has been an overall fall in the pay of young people in the relevant industries. Moreover, it was alleged that there are 62,000 16 and 17 year-olds out of work but not included in the unemployment statistics since as a result of recent legislation, such young people cannot claim unemployment pay, and the promises about places on youth training schemes have not all been fulfilled. It is scarcely surprising that in such circumstances some young people eventually land up on the streets. I do not believe that many can be there by choice. The other day I gave money to a young man who was begging in Holborn. He was clearly shivering with cold, and he looked as though he had been there all night. If there was any other option, I cannot believe that people would choose to live like that.
We have all seen examples of lawlessness on the part of a minority of young people—so much so that the Government are to bring forward a Bill to deal with what is wrongly termed "joyriding", although there can be nothing particularly joyful about an activity which results in deaths and injuries and in widespread public disquiet. It has been strongly denied by some spokespersons on behalf of the Government that this kind of activity results from deprivation, and there is a tendency to blame the parents. The young people concerned may not be homeless, and some—but by no means all—appear to have jobs. But I recall those television interviews with some of the youths—not themselves involved but supporters of those who were—which took place 454 against the background of the gaunt and dismal housing estates where they lived. "Well, everyone does it", they said; "What else is there to do around here?" Surely that is evidence of deprivation of a kind. It indicates educational and cultural disadvantage if nothing else.
The Government are now putting a good deal of emphasis on training, and of course they are right to do so. Far fewer young people in the UK are in full-time education or vocational training between the ages of 16 and 18 than in other European countries, particularly Germany. The committee therefore, rightly in my view, strongly reiterated the recommendation that it made in its report on vocational training —that all young people in the United Kingdom between the ages of 16 and 18 should either be in full-time education or undergoing approved vocational training. They should not be in dead-end jobs, or unemployed on the streets.
The committee also believed that there was a need for more co-ordination between Ministers on youth problems—either a steering committee of Ministers or a single Minister of State. We felt that the educationally underprivileged and seriously disadvantaged young represent a special problem to which particular attention should be given. We were made fully aware, if we did not know already, of the extremely worthy activities of many voluntary organisations, without whose involvement things would undoubtedly be a great deal worse and far more hopeless for many disadvantaged young people. Nevertheless, this is an area where the Government should take a lead and where the expenditure of money should be regarded as an investment, rather than simply expenditure. We were repeatedly warned by witnesses about the possibility of the creation of an underclass, alienated and dangerous. I hope and believe that the report of our committee makes a valuable contribution to the discussion of the very complex questions involved.
§ 6.13 p.m.
§ Lord Northbourne
My Lords, I join earlier speakers in congratulating the noble Baroness, Lady Lockwood, on the admirable way in which she guided us through this difficult inquiry. It will scarcely come as a surprise to my colleagues on the committee if I say that I shall concentrate on only two paragraphs of the report, paragraphs 110 and 111, which have already been referred to by the noble Lady, Lady Kinloss, the noble Baroness, Lady Hilton, and the noble Lord, Lord Hunter. Those paragraphs refer in particular to the small but significant group of especially disadvantaged young people who form an isolated or marginalised element of society. The report goes on to state that it is not possible to identify a single cause for that situation. I want to discuss just one aspect of the problem and one possible solution. I should like to look at one of the most common causes of poverty and deprivation—the inability to cope with the pressures of modern life, especially in the inner city. That inability is very often caused by a history of inadequate parenting.
455 It is a natural instinct in children to love and admire their parents. When a parent lets a child down by deserting him, beating him or abusing him, the child, because the parent is his hero, will blame himself. Such children are left with a terrible feeling of guilt and inadequacy. I believe that such a child is handicapped just as much as one who is born with a physical disability. This emotional handicap often leads to disruptive behaviour and showing off, poor performance at school which then leads to boredom and truanting, and a feeling of alienation and rejection from society.
Unless such children are helped they will arrive at the age of 16 partially uneducated—sometimes unable to read or write—and with deep feelings of rejection and resentment against society. Then, at 16, that same young person is expected to go out into the world and find himself a training place, and to stick to it living on £27 a week. That may be possible if the young person is living at home but an increasing number of 16 year olds are being thrown out of their homes, either, as one noble Lord said, by their step-parent, or their mother's lover, or because there is not room in what is perhaps only a two-bedroomed apartment or house. How can a young person live without accommodation on £27 a week?
In practice, many have neither the motivation nor the education to seek a training place; and if they do they sometimes do not have the guts to stay with it when the going becomes a little rough. They get irregular low-paid jobs when they can, and for the rest of the time depend on crime or prostitution, living rough or dossing with friends. Under those circumstances they are at high risk of being drawn into drugs or alcohol abuse. What is frightening is that very soon those same young people begin to breed children. Those children are likely to become another generation in the same cycle of inadequate parenting.
The right honourable gentleman the Home Secretary and the noble Lord, Lord Joseph, have suggested, in different contexts, that we should blame the parents. I do not believe that to do so is realistic when one bears in mind that most of those parents were probably also emotionally handicapped as children and were brought up without satisfactory parental role models or any experience of a supportive family. They had no opportunity to learn how to relate to one another, to build a home and to rear children. And so the cycle continues.
Can this cycle of poor parenting be broken? I believe that it can, and I believe that it must. If it is not, we shall see a continuation of the rapidly increasing levels of juvenile crime and of rioting and disaffection in our inner cities. The cost of maintaining law and order will escalate. No society can afford to have a disaffected and disillusioned underclass who resent and reject the values which hold that society together.
It is important to realise that I am here talking about only a relatively small number of young people. The cost of helping this small group would be relatively low. The cost of not helping them could in time to come be disproportionately high. What this group needs is to have restored their self-respect and 456 confidence that they can relate to a society which they feel has rejected them. That can be done only by rebuilding their self-confidence and providing them with ongoing support.
Over the past five years I have been privileged to work under the auspices of the Children's Department of Toynbee Hall for a couple of weeks each year, with young people who fall into this category. The greatest revelation which has come to me—and this may be naive—is that these children are not bad people; they are potentially nice and lovable young people who have just had a terrible experience in their life which has screwed them up inside. They need help. To anyone who is prepared to accept and like them, "warts and all", I find that there is always a warm and positive response. Their great need is to have the affection of adults whom they can respect and trust. The ways in which that can be achieved will obviously vary according to the age of the child.
Up to the age of 16, the child's main contact with the adult world outside the immediate family is the extended family. Grandparents have an important role to play. It is encouraging to see that the Children Act gives a voice to grandparents.
Another point of contact is the teacher. If we are serious in wanting to tackle the problems of insecure children in inner-city schools, action must be taken to stabilise the teaching team. Children simply cannot relate to teachers, however good, if they are changing every year—sometimes every term or even more frequently. It seems to me that special action needs to be taken to create a corps d'élite of dedicated teachers who are prepared to stay in inner-city schools and give time and care to befriending children who need it. There is also a need for the curriculum to include such subjects as homemaking and parenting, and to give guidance and offer discussion on human relationships and decision making.
For those children who are in the care of the local authority, there is an urgent need for a major improvement in the provision of social workers in some inner cities. The report of the Social Services Inspectorate dated September 1990 shows that in March of that year there were 7,600 children on the child protection registers in the 32 London boroughs. Of those, 820 were unallocated to any social worker, due to staff shortages. That seems to me to be a crazy situation in areas where there are many vulnerable and deprived children. Obviously, because our inner cities are not the most attractive areas in which to work, all but the most dedicated social workers tend to leave as soon as a better job is offered. Like teachers, social workers need to be sufficiently permanent to enable stable and supportive relationships to be formed with emotionally handicapped young people.
In the context of the under-16s, youth workers and voluntary organisations also have a significant part to play. Children can go to them of their own free will. That helps to create access to supportive adults for children who resent authority. It provides such children with activities which occupy them, give them a sense of inclusion and offer them the possibility of proving themselves. Volunteers make excellent befrienders, but they need professional back-up, 457 screening and training. There is a need for a relatively foolproof system of vetting for both voluntary and professional youth workers. Modest amounts of additional financial support are essential to supplement all the excellent voluntary work which is being carried out.
Then, at the age of 16, we come to the transition from school to work. At 16, our emotionally handicapped young person is exposed to a new set of problems. Therefore, new sorts of help are needed. Several noble Lords have spoken about the complexity of the facilities which are made available by the Government. Last week I visited Tower Hamlets to try to find out what would be available to me if I was a 16 year-old. I could not actually fool the authorities that I was of that age; but I asked them to pretend that I was and to tell me what was available. While the "high-ups" to whom I subsequently spoke were most helpful to me, the staff at the counter, although equally helpful, did not have, in many cases, the information that a young person would have needed. I went first to the Stop-shop and then to the careers centre and finally to the Jobcentre. Information was difficult to obtain. I could expand upon that experience, but I shall leave it for another occasion.
The sort of help needed by young people from the age of 16 is careers guidance and counselling. I must say that the careers service I visited was very positive. There is a need for an opportunity to brush up on the three Rs without loss of face. Therefore, the course must be called something like "Business Studies" otherwise such young people will not attend. There must also be appropriate training opportunities, supervision and encouragement, with perhaps a tutor to persuade them to continue. These young people do not have great moral fibre. It is necessary to build up their self-confidence if they are to continue with a training course and then perhaps obtain starter jobs which are easy to get into. The noble Lord, Lord Addington, referred to advice shops. I believe that, if such shops were properly staffed and equipped with the right information, they would prove to be an extraordinarily good idea.
Finally, I turn to the question of accommodation. There are many young people who have been turned out of their home for whom there is really no accommodation which offers them the kind of protection, advice and support that they need—certainly none that they can afford. Three or four weeks ago, I visited a Foyer Jeune Travailleurs in Beauvais. There are two of them in that city. The one I saw had 120 places and was of the standard of a first-class university hostel. In addition, it had an animateur who was concerned to offer activities, advice, suggestions and counselling to the young people. I believe that I am correct in saying that the cost of that facility was about £80 per week, which was paid by the social services for young people with problems or who were coming out of care. I made inquiries in Tower Hamlets this afternoon and was 458 informed that there are only two medium stay hostels. They have a total of 37 beds, whereas approximately 20 inquiries are received each day.
I should like to continue discussing the problems of the over 16 year-olds but I believe that I have probably already spoken for too long. I have just one further point to make. In my view there is an urgent need for a change of attitude in our society towards children. There must be a recognition that, whatever changes in sexual morality or behaviour may become acceptable, one principle must remain: "a child is for life"—not just for Christmas, not just for kicks and not just for personal gratification or to obtain a council flat. We have a duty as trustees of the children of the future to establish the principle that "a child is for life".
§ 6.29 p.m.
§ Lord Lyell
My Lords, with the leave of the House and for the first time in 20 years, I shall try to speak in the gap of a debate. For the benefit of my noble friend on the Front Bench, I shall also try to be brief.
I was inspired during the debate not just by the general tone, as well as the way in which the noble Baroness, Lady Lockwood, introduced the work of her committee, but also by the excellent speech, if I may say so, of my noble friend Lady Brigstocke. I apologise to her for making a comment of approval as she rose to her feet. It seemed to me that it was worthy of my approval and that of your Lordships. I was much inspired by what my noble friend said about the ERASMUS programme, together with her mention of the German city of Mannheim. I was in that city exactly seven days ago while accompanying a committee from the other place. During the visit we had six lectures from six young doctors and scientists involved with the pharmaceutical industry. They gave us lectures on heart problems (myocardial diseases) in flawless English. There was one young lady, and five young men. When I asked them where they learnt their English, they told me that their fluency was normal because they regarded language tuition as part of their general education. At least four of them had taken part in programmes similar to the ERASMUS programme described by my noble friends Lady Brigstocke and Lady Elles. That showed that such programmes can have practical benefits.
I think I understood the noble Lord, Lord Addington, to say that those who drop languages early in their education tend to regret it later. When I was 15 I was recommended to drop science. I am not sure what that meant for languages. I was told at my school—an educational establishment not unknown to noble Lords and my noble friend Lady Brigstocke —to learn another language. That taught me a great deal. Great sporting skills, such as those of the noble Lord, Lord Addington, combined with a knowledge of languages, would do much for young people. My knowledge of French, German and Italian has been considerably improved through reading sporting newspapers. Without that the touch paper of my mind would not have been lit. Studying languages at school can often involve learning verbs one to 33 until one is 459 blue in the face. One is then taught about a wonderful author who brings out whatever wonderful culture he is describing.
Languages are a living thing. That has been the thread running through the debate. I hope that it is a relevant thread. If the work done by the noble Baroness, Lady Lockwood, and the committee helps to move forward one iota the study of languages and the friendship of young people—I do not know what the age limit is, because, although I look young, I am still benefiting from many of the topics that have been discussed this evening—then this evening's debate will have been one of the best debates I have heard during my 20-year career in your Lordships' House. I am grateful to the noble Baroness for allowing me to intervene.
§ 6.32 p.m.
§ Lord Desai
My Lords, first, I join the many noble Lords who have congratulated my noble friend Lady Lockwood on producing an excellent report. The task facing us is complex. The report goes a long way towards making an analysis and finding a solution. My remarks are further informed by the fact that I happen to be the father of three teenage children who have been educated in inner city comprehensive schools. One learns a great deal as a parent when one's children are in such a situation.
I shall divide my remarks into three parts: what is the problem? What solution is currently being tried? What more can we do? The problem of young people comes in two parts. There are those who are not within the disadvantaged minority, and I shall deal with them first. Their problem lies in meeting the challenge of 1993 and beyond. Can we somehow increase the mobility of young people? Can we ensure that they have adequate education and training to meet the challenge which will face them when they become adults and enter the job market? In that respect I must welcome, as have many noble Lords, the considerable progress made by polytechnics and universities in encouraging intra-country co-operation with France, Germany, Spain and so on. Many degrees and courses are new available to our young people of 18 years and over. There are combined English-French, English-German courses and other combined courses. That commendable achievement has happened recently. A great deal of work has been put into that by the about-to-be-abolished CNAA and by some universities, and we should welcome it.
With such courses and the ERASMUS programme difficulties arise because our students who go to university at the age of 18 have had woefully inadequate language training. Matters are improving, but one big problem I have in placing my undergraduate students into the ERASMUS programme is that they do not want to go abroad because they do not know the language. I currently have a German undergraduate student who took advantage of the ERASMUS programme to go to Italy. He thought that he should know Italian as well as German and English. He spent the summer in Brazil because he wanted to learn Portuguese. British youth lacks that attitude towards language learning. We 460 should do something about it, although I do not know what. They may be encouraged to learn a language by playing, watching or reading about sports, films and television. We should encourage them to have a much more positive attitude towards languages because they will be the key to their survival in the job market. I reiterate that any money spent in that way is an investment and is not merely expenditure.
I turn now to the disadvantaged, about whom many noble Lords have spoken. I was struck by what my noble friend Lady Hilton said about the dreadful situation, especially in the inner cities, that those young people face. No firm line can be drawn between who is disadvantaged and who is not. If the family breaks up, or there is unemployment or some other rude financial shock, someone who was not brought up to think himself or herself as disadvantaged suddenly becomes so. If there is a disagreement within the family, the young person may have to leave home and he or she then becomes disadvantaged. There is no firm way of classifying who is disadvantaged. However there is one simple criterion: many disadvantaged young persons are those—if I may put it this way—whom the schools have failed. As a result we must watch for the big black hole which arises between 16 and 18 years in our education and industrial training. If young people fall into the black hole, it is hard for them to get out, especially if they have left school without any qualifications and are unfit even to take unskilled jobs. It is that group upon which we should concentrate when we look for solutions. Thankfully, it involves a few young people only. We should not therefore believe that we should spend only a little money on them. We shall be spending a great deal on them if they turn out badly. They cost a great deal of money in a variety of different ways. For them, the system has not functioned. We should put a great deal of effort into doing something for them.
The committee's excellent report describes many of the things that are being done by the Community and the Government in co-operation with the Community. However, several problems still exist. The programmes, although interesting and reasonably well-funded, are complex. As many noble Lords have pointed out, the young person has no clear idea of what is available. The programmes are so complex that specialist officers are needed to work them out. If it is necessary for adults to work out the system on behalf of young people so that they can obtain a little more money, I wonder how much of the money available goes to the young people whom it is meant to benefit. We ought to ask ourselves: what trickle-down from each pound spent goes to the youth for whom it is meant? How much goes to the interstices of the various levels of bureaucracy? I was talking to someone in an active agency in these efforts, the CSV, who pointed out that in many cases often about 60 to 80 per cent. goes towards setting up the intergovernmental or international co-operative deal, and about 20 to 40 per cent. may benefit the programme. This is a severe problem. It is not just that we need more co-ordination among the agencies at various levels. 461 but we need simplification and clarity. We need less bureaucracy in the arrangements so that the money goes directly to the person concerned.
I ask the Government to take the matter of the youth card seriously. If we can get the money out to the individual young people, if they can benefit from it, if only we can know that 5 million youth cards have been used, we do not need an elaborate evaluation of who benefits from them. The people who benefit are those using the youth card. Just as the concession on rail travel across Europe with the European railcard has been immensely successful among young people, I believe that the youth card will give them access to concessionary fees across a vast number of activities. That would be greatly welcomed by young people and it would be a good way of spending the money.
Similarly, if we are to give advice to young people, not only must we have advice shops but young people must have easier access to Ceefax rather than those shops. We must find out the ways in which youth gets the information and not impose our own ideas on how information can be provided by us. As the report points out, far too many people who are concerned with the work are themselves not young, they just happen to represent youth. We need to find out what the customer wants and how he behaves in order that he should benefit.
I wish to raise one question. I am not clear; I need clarification about additionality. Is it the case that money that the Government receive from the Community for youth spending is regarded as a substitute for what we will spend, or is it additional to what we spend? That is an important point. I was not clear about it from the report. It would be terrible if money received from Europe were regarded as a pound for pound substitute for money which we should be spending. It should be regarded as additional, as pump-priming money on the basis of which we shall have a better resourced programme. I should like clarification on that.
By the same token, we should have a clear indication that the Government intend to do something fairly drastic about youth unemployment, especially the somewhat alarming rise in the long-term unemployed among the youth. It is a serious problem which we ought to address. It exists at the other end of the age scale, from the ages of 21 to 25, rather than from 16 to 18, but we must examine it.
One problem which has arisen in this regard is the abridgement of the entitlements which young people used to have, especially the 16 and 17 year-olds. They have lost some of their entitlements in recent times. It would be desirable that young people aged from 16 to 25 should have equal entitlement as far as possible so that by giving them money, by decentralising and by reaching out to them we enable them to benefit from the programmes rather than that we should paternalistically design programmes for them.
§ 6.44 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Employment (Viscount Ullswater)
My Lords, first I wish to say how much the Government 462 welcome the Select Committee's study of this important subject. I know that its fourteenth report, Young People in the European Community, is the result of a painstaking and detailed examination of a number of wide-ranging and difficult issues. I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Lockwood, and Sub-Comittee C on the results of their work. The report itself and the points raised during this debate help to emphasise the wide measure of consensus on the subject.
I have no doubt about the concern in all parts of this House, and indeed on the part of all interested parties both in the United Kingdom and across the European Community, to ensure that young people have the best possible start in life. This concern is based upon a common understanding that our future depends upon ensuring that young people receive the formal and informal education and training they need to develop their full potential and to meet the challenges that will face them in the 21st century. Each of us believes that it is vital not to fail them.
Hence, where differences about this subject exist, they are about means rather than overall aims. Indeed, as the Government made clear in their written response, we share many of the views expressed in the committee's opinion. We agree entirely with the committee that Community training and exchange programmes can contribute to the vocational and personal development of young people and that exchanges of young people between the member states can contribute to the encouragement of their awareness of the Community.
We also welcome the focus of the PETRA and Youth for Europe programmes on disadvantaged young people and those who have left full-time education at an early age. However, like the committee, the Government have substantial concerns about agreeing to European Commission proposals for large-scale expansion of programmes before full evaluation of existing initiatives takes place.
As the noble Baroness, Lady Lockwood, suggested, the Government believe it to be essential to secure value for money from European Community expenditure, which is paid for by the taxpayer in just the same way as domestic public expenditure. This means there should be no less rigorous an approach to the evaluation of EC policies than there is to our own. We have therefore argued consistently in Brussels that adequate evaluation is needed before proposals are put to the Council of Ministers to renew and expand programmes. Nevertheless, we are making some progress. For example, the Council decision setting up the new PETRA programme makes specific reference to "objective and external" assessment, which will take place twice during the life of the programme.
We also note the committee's support for the inclusion of the voluntary sector in the Youth for Europe programme. The United Kingdom is particularly well placed to benefit because of our strong and flourishing voluntary bodies. I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to their invaluable work with young people. We share the Select Committee's hope that they will play their full part in this new development of Youth for Europe.
463 However, we would prefer that any expansion through Community programmes takes place after evaluation of the achievements of the experimental phase Of the programme. This seems the right way to ensure that we build on solid foundations.
The Government also recognise fully the concerns expressed in the report about the number and complexity of vocational training programmes. We agree that Community expenditure, whether on training or in the youth information and related areas covered in the Commission memorandum, Young People in the European Community, needs to be co-ordinated effectively to achieve the best possible value for money.
We would very much welcome moves to improve co-ordination between different Community programmes, to improve the flow of information to their target groups and to improve and simplify administrative procedures. The concerns expressed in paragraph 103 of the report are an excellent illustration of why this is another area where we will continue to look for every opportunity to improve value for money. I think this message was not only repeated in your Lordships' House but is now being understood in Brussels.
The committee expressed the hope that there will be a formal council of Community youth ministers in the near future. Each presidency of the Community determines the number and type of meetings of ministers during their term. We have welcomed and participated fully in Community meetings of officials and of ministers responsible for youth matters but we do not believe that the need for a formal council of youth ministers has been demonstrated. Programmes such as PETRA, ERASMUS and COMETT, which are lo Diced after by the Commission Task Force for Human Resources, Education, Training and Youth, are operated effectively under the aegis of existing specialist councils.
One point on which we disagree with the committee is whether the appointment of a single minister for youth in Britain would improve co-ordination among departments on policies which affect young people. I am sorry if inadvertently I gave the sub-committee any appearance of complacency. However, I must emphasise to the noble Lord, Lord Hunter of Newington, that we believe that young people can best be served through actions which tackle specific issues. Most problems and opportunities faced by many young people are not exclusive to that age group. A young person can be a 15 year-old still at school or a person of 24 who may be married with three children. They have little in common.
However, I agree with the committee that where policy issues cut across departmental responsibilities it is essential to ensure a common approach. I cannot agree with my noble friend Lady Elles that that poses a problem. The noble Lord, Lord Hunter of Newington, drew attention to the number of departments involved in the evidence given to the sub-committee. Your Lordships will have noted that our recent White Paper, Education and Training for the 21st Century was the result of joint work by my department and the Department of Education and Science and was presented by both Secretaries of State 464 and the Prime Minister. That is one excellent example of the co-operation which exists across Whitehall, and I could quote many others.
I now turn to issues raised which impinge more directly on domestic policy matters. Your Lordships have emphasised the importance of ensuring that young people are properly prepared for adult and working life. For the vast majority of young people a major concern is to ensure that they are able to gain entry to productive and satisfying employment.
There should be no doubt about this Government's commitment to continuing to improve vocational education and training arrangements. That was again confirmed by last week's Autumn Statement. My own department's total planned expenditure in the field of training, enterprise and vocational education next year will be £2.7 billion, two and a half times as much in real terms as that spent in 1978–79. In addition, almost £8 billion is available for expenditure on education and science next year—an increase of nearly 9 per cent. over likely expenditure this year.
The recent White Paper Education and Training for the 21st Century will build on the achievements of the past decade so that high quality education and training for 16 and 17 year-olds becomes the norm. It sets out policies to build on the successful contribution of the technical and vocational education initiative to curriculum changes for 14 to 19 year-olds in full-time education; to strengthen links between schools and employers through compacts and education business partnerships; to ensure the availability of appropriate and relevant careers advice to young people; and it underpins the radical new approach with the national record of achievement and the framework of national vocational qualifications.
The bedrock of a qualified population is, of course, the education system. My noble friend Lady Elles highlighted the importance of involving the parents in education where there is some doubt about participation. The Government are committed to continuing to increase participation rates. There is a wide range of policies and initiatives aimed at improving the quality of education and raising participation.
The Further and Higher Education Bill, introduced into this House on 4th November, includes measures to enable colleges to respond to the needs of their customers more flexibly and efficiently. Those measures will provide further incentives to continue to increase student numbers.
The Schools Examination and Assessment Council has recently presented advice to the Secretary of State for Education as to how core skills for 16 to 19 year-olds could be incorporated into A and AS levels. Core skills include communication, problem solving, personal skills, numeracy, information technology and foreign language competence.
Education and training is also becoming more outward looking. That is not just the result of EC initiatives such as the PETRA and COMETT programmes but is also the direct result of government policies here. The Government have been and will 465 continue to be active in promoting the objectives of the European Community resolution on the European dimension in education.
My noble friend Lady Brigstocke was concerned about the complexity of programmes being run from Brussels and mentioned her personal experience of some of the programmes, including the PETRA and ERASMUS programmes. I understand the difficulty, but European awareness is being built into curriculum developments in schools and in colleges of further education. Together with language learning and the increase in opportunities for young people to experience training and work placements in other member states, we can look to our young people to take full advantage of the opportunities offered in the European Community in 1993 and beyond.
The noble Lord, Lord Addington, drew our attention to the problem of young people who have not done well at school and painted a picture of discrimination against them. I do not believe that to be true. Youth training is a very important element of our strategy to produce better qualified labour market entrants. About 261,000 young people are now on YT compared with only some 7,000 young people in training in 1978–79. I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Turner, that the Government guarantee to offer a suitable place to all 16 and 17 year-olds not in full-time education or work and to 18 year-olds whose entry into YT has been delayed, for example, by disability, ill health, pregnancy or custodial sentence. We stand by that guarantee.
A further improvement which I am sure will be welcomed by the noble Lord, Lord Desai, is the development of training credits. We believe that training credits will encourage and motivate young people to enter training and secure higher levels of skills and qualifications and that they will also encourage more employers to provide training for young employees.
However, we are also concerned for older young people who become unemployed. Planned expenditure on employment training will increase next year to provide a total of a quarter of a million places. The Government guarantee to offer a place on employment training, enterprise allowance, employment action, the job interview guarantee or a job club to everyone aged 18 to 24 who has been unemployed for between six and 12 months.
I know that during the course of its inquiry the Committee became concerned about a number of issues affecting the care and welfare of small minorities of young people. The Government recognise and share your Lordships' concerns for those young people with specific problems which might prevent them from taking a full and economically active part in society.
Mobility of young people in itself is no bad thing. Indeed, much European Community activity is designed to encourage such movement. For example, youth tourism was a key aim of the European Tourism Year in 1990, and the COMETT, ERASMUS, PETRA and Youth for Europe programmes each include elements which involve exchanges targeted at 466 different categories of young people. Other European Community initiatives seek to remove barriers to mobility for all sections of the population in line with the completion of the internal market.
The noble Lady, Lady Kinloss, was worried about the difficulties that the disadvantaged would have with mobility. I must stress that, although there are European programmes as I have outlined, we also encourage a wide variety of bilateral exchange activity from within the United Kingdom through organisations such as the Youth Exchange Centre and the Central Bureau for Educational Visits and Exchanges. A number of voluntary organisations such as the Girl Guides Association, the YMCA and Youth Clubs UK have international links through which they organise exchanges. The Government recognise the value of involving young people in international activity.
The noble Baroness, Lady Hilton of Eggardon, drew on her long experience of dealing with young people with a deprived background to remind the House of some of the problems faced by the young unemployed. She vividly contrasted the living standards of those, if I may paraphrase, who have with those who have not and warned us of some of the consequences of not tackling them. The noble Baroness, Lady Turner, dwelt on the problems that young people face when they are homeless. The noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, highlighted various problems, including the inadequacy of parents, and suggested that the problem could be inherited.
We recognise that a small proportion of young people enter so-called vicious circles through movement to inner city areas causing homelessness, which in turn results in unemployment and a spiral of associated problems. There are problems in some of our larger cities and we are addressing them. For instance, the Employment Service runs HELP, a mobile jobsearch facility, special jobclub and drop-in centre together with a scheme to place the young jobless in catering jobs with accommodation. The single homeless initiative is helping young people sleeping rough in London through the provision of direct access hostel accommodation plus longer term accommodation for those currently in hostels. The Children Act enables local authorities to help young people in their area who may be homeless and whose welfare is at risk from lack of accommodation either by providing accommodation themselves or with the assistance of other housing agencies.
The committee's report recorded that a witness had pointed to a danger that some young people could become trapped at the base of the labour market and so become marginalised in terms of unemployment and housing. As we said in our response to the committee and as I have explained tonight, we recognise the need to provide support for those young people who have problems competing in the labour and housing markets and we believe that our policies are proving effective.
Britain's labour market and system of vocational education and training are more flexible than those in many other European countries. Young people most at risk of becoming marginalised have, because of our policies, a wider range of opportunities open to them 467 than their counterparts elsewhere. Despite some of the fears expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Lockwood, and the noble Lord, Lord Desai, the situation which faces such young people in Britain compares well with other countries. Despite recent rises, tie rate of unemployment among under 25s in the United Kingdom remains below that in most other European countries, and the latest European Community unemployment comparison for the under 25s across the Community shows that the United Kingdom is well below the average. Nearly 30 per cent. of under 25 year-olds are unemployed in Italy and Spain, over 25 per cent. in Ireland and nearly 25 per cont. in France and Belgium. The United Kingdom figure is currently 13.7 per cent.
I should like to deal with one or two of the points raised by noble Lords in the debate. The noble Baroness, Lady Lockwood, referred to the national voluntary youth organisations and their funding. The Department of Education and Science grant-aids directly some 70 national voluntary youth organisations for programmes of work involving personal and social education. Some small increases in cash terms have been made in recent years and grants in the presen: financial year amount to some £2.2 million. They will rise to £2.3 million in 1992–93 and further increases are anticipated from 1993–94 onwards.
The noble Lord, Lord Addington, referred to information shops for young people. Central government have provided the National Youth Agency with pump-priming support to develop a pilot project of about 10 information shops. The Department of Education and Science has met its agreed commitment to the initiative by providing £1 70,000 over two years 1990–91 and 1991–92, although pressure on budgets may mean that up to? 15,000 of that will be paid in the 1992–93 financial year. The Home Office has also met its agreed commitment by providing £232,000 over the three years 1989–90 through to 1991–92.
The noble Lady, Lady Kinloss, mentioned the French foyer system. I understand that an official from the employment service is seconded to the London and Quadrant Housing Trust which has links with that French initiative. We welcome the opportunity to learn from the experience of others and I know that my honourable friend Mr Jackson has taken a personal interest in that link.
My noble friend Lady Elles drew our attention to three programmes concerning music and sport, and to the implementation of a Youth Parliament. It is the variety of opportunities to which my noble friend referred that makes the debate so wide-ranging and interesting. All the examples that she quoted are of great interest to young people.
The noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, made an eloquent analysis of marginalisation and what he termed the cycle of poor parenting. I agree that that must be broken. The answer lies in action across a whole range of policies. It would be difficult to identify one t tat would take care of it. Education for citizenship is a theme in the national curriculum and the problem of teacher shortage and turnover is being successfully addressed.
468 My noble friend Lord Lyell and others, including the noble Lord, Lord Desai, drew our attention to language learning and the participation of young people in learning a language. We agree that language learning in schools should be valued. Provisional 1991 statistics show a continuing increase in the number of pupils taking examinations in modern foreign languages and indicate improvements in standards. The establishment of a foreign language in secondary schools as a compulsory subject in the national curriculum will increase the status of the subject.
I have dealt with a number of points brought to my attention by noble Lords during the debate. If I have not dealt with some points, I should be happy to write to noble Lords. The issues raised by the subject of this debate are both important and wide-ranging. The Government are committed to investment in the young people who are Britain's future. That was a major element of the increased funding for public services announced in the Chancellor's Autumn Statement last week.
Many noble Lords, including the noble Baroness, Lady Lockwood, referred to the increase in information and chided the Government for not supporting that. That point was also raised by my noble friend Lady Brigstocke and by the noble Lords, Lord Addington and Lord Desai. Last week, the Prime Minister launched the Under 26 youth card for young people in England and Wales. Under 26 is a discount card with a regularly updated information system on domestic and international services for young people. The Prime Minister welcomed the international dimension of the youth card, as I am sure will many noble Lords. It is available in 15 countries and, as the Prime Minister said,The more people who can see Europe, the more people will understand it".Those are sentiments with which I heartily concur.
We are doing much to provide young people from all walks of life with an appreciation of Europe, from the provision of information, not only to the young but to all sections of the community, to curriculum development in our schools and colleges. But we must also be sure that our own house is in order.
There is great value in the European dimension but our young people deserve more than fine words. Our future prosperity depends upon their skills and abilities. We must provide them with the foundations from which each can achieve his or her potential. I believe that we have the right policies in place to ensure that young people can acquire the foundation on which to build their adult life.
Those policies are working. The proportion of 16 year-olds in education or training rose 23 per cent. during the 1980s. The number of further education students rose 25 per cent. also in the 1980s and between 1979 and 1988 the number of people gaining degrees or their equivalents rose by some 31 per cent., which is one of the highest success rates in higher education compared with our major Western competitors. With support for the Government's policies, I believe that young people can look to the future with confidence.
§ Baroness Lockwood
My Lords, this has been an excellent debate and I am grateful to all noble Lords who have taken part in it. Every issue which is contained either explicitly or even implicitly in the report and the evidence has been raised. The debate has been very wide-ranging and I know that the Minister will consider carefully what has been said.
I do not want to cover the ground that he covered in mentioning points made by different Ministers. I should just like to reply to the noble Baroness, Lady Elles, who quite rightly took the committee to task for not including a reference to the role of MEPs and the part that they can play in assisting young people and citizens generally. That underlines the fact that, even as a committee, we are not yet geared to accepting completely the European as well as the national identification. No doubt that will take time.
I should like to thank the Minister for the way in which he and the Government have received our report. As he said, there is a wide measure of consensus not only between the committee and the Government but in all parts of the House. Differences are often about means rather than ends. I should like to echo the tribute that he paid to young people in the youth sector and in the voluntary sector. The committee was most impressed by the evidence that it received from those young people and by their dedication to other young people in trying to solve their problems.
I am sorry that we have not persuaded the Minister of the need for a formal meeting of youth Ministers or 470 even for the need for greater co-ordination at national level. Again, I should like to ask him to look very carefully at what has been said and perhaps to re-examine the evidence that the committee received from those involved in youth organisations in the country.
The Minister dealt at some length with the various domestic matters that were raised in the committee. From time to time we shall come back to those matters in the House in the context of the specific problem and not just in the context of youth issues. I underline the fact that, although the committee recommended setting up either a Minister for youth or a committee of Ministers involved in these affairs, it by no means said that the issues should not be looked at in depth by the department concerned. The committee said that we need a focal point and somebody to identify the issues and to make sure that they are not in any way overlooked as well as somebody who can speak for British youth in the councils in the European Community.
Once again, I thank all who have participated and given their support by listening to the debate. I hope that the discussion will continue and that as a result of the Europe-wide debate there will be a solution to some of the difficult problems which our young people currently face.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House adjourned at sixteen minutes past seven o'clock.