HL Deb 10 November 1999 vol 606 cc1415-33

6.44 p.m.

The Earl of Clancarty rose to ask Her Majesty's Government how they believe the arts and sport relate to the issue of "social exclusion".

The noble Earl said: My Lords, I start by saying how much I look forward to the maiden speech of the noble Earl, Lord Shaftesbury.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, perhaps the noble Earl will permit me to intervene. He chose his words very carefully. My noble friend Lord Gavron is on the list to make a maiden speech. I am afraid that it is all my fault. He is an old friend of mine. I know how expert he is in the arts and I tried to encourage him to make a maiden speech. I thought that I had succeeded and put down his name. I had not succeeded. I apologise to him and to the House for that slip.

The Earl of Clancarty

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that clarification.

It is certainly time that the concept of social exclusion was tackled in debate. The idea of social exclusion, whatever the term may mean—it may mean a number of things—seems to be one of the most crucial in current government thinking. It is surprising that as a concept it has not yet been more widely discussed either in the media or in Parliament.

Just under two years ago the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, asked the Government about the terms of reference of the newly-established Social Exclusion Unit. In the course of a long Written Answer he was told: Social exclusion is a shorthand label for what can happen when individuals or areas suffer from a combination of linked problems such as unemployment, poor skills, low incomes, poor housing, high crime environments, bad health and family breakdown". —[Official Report, 9/12/97; col. WA20.] Does the Minister say that that is still a reasonable definition of "social exclusion", or has the definition recently changed—perhaps it has shifted or broadened—in some way? I ask this because "social exclusion" and "access" together now appear to be the two concepts which most permeate thinking and policy in the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. If that is so, what is the association between these two ideas? If access is about a concern for broader and different audiences it is clear that we are also talking about social exclusion as something which may affect all classes or parts of society: exclusion by race, gender, disability and so on.

From the definition that I have quoted, social exclusion is characterised primarily by what are perceived to be the marginal or poorest parts of society. In this respect the present Government have extremely laudable aims in combating what they perceive as social exclusion by funding government schemes or by indirectly encouraging smaller-scale projects at local community level. I mention a recent visit by me, at the suggestion of my noble friend Lord Listowel, along with my noble friend Lord Freyberg, to Buffy House, which is a hostel near Kensington, Olympia, run and funded by Centrepoint, where we were shown the art workshop organised by the remarkably energetic and enthusiastic Jaime Bautista. Each year it participates in an exhibition of work in the crypt at St Martin-in-the-Fields organised by the St Martin's Social Care Unit. Certainly, given the present level of homelessness this is one of the very few such projects in London which need a real input from government in the form of finance.

Local projects are cited in Policy Action Team 10's report to the Social Exclusion Unit on arts and sport. One widely quoted project is a housing estate in the North West where the incidence of crime dropped from 44 to six per month following the introduction of a community football scheme. There are many similar ongoing local community-based schemes across the country involving sport and different cultural activities. Such schemes which reduce crime can only be for the good.

I live on a council estate in north London where there are two playgrounds, one of which is used every night for football. It has never occurred to me that these playgrounds keep down crime, although in effect I suppose that they do. The playgrounds have always been there. They were built as part of the estate in the 1970s. I believe that I and other residents simply see them as normal, essential parts of the estate facilities. If they had been provided afterwards the Government could probably have cited them on their list of schemes. That starts to raise in my mind questions about the degree to which initiatives should be, or should have been, an inherent part of the structure in the first place; or that new schemes become an organic part of the way a local community naturally develops according to its own requirements, according to the desires of the local residents, before the symptoms of frustration such as crime have set in; and how facilities once in place need to be maintained in good order by the community or by those immediately responsible for the local community such as the local councils.

In that respect, the most recent poor responses of councils to the desires and feelings of local people spring to mind easily. The actions of councils such as those of Westminster City Council this year in cutting community funding are examples of social exclusion. The current problems of the public library in Lewisham are another case in point. As with Camden, the feelings of the local communities are simply being ignored. It seems to me that that is as much a basic problem as any ultimate decisions over library closures—wrong indeed as such closures are.

In many ways the central problem of the issue is the treatment of social exclusion in relation to the exclusive nature of society as a whole. It is of course classic socialist thinking to believe that the arts are primarily an instrument for curing society's ills even though the policy action team's report goes out of its way to insist also—I emphasise the word "also"—on the independent significance of the arts. But that is not true either. The Government assume art and sport in a sense to be original agents: to treat them as though they have emerged from nowhere. Yet art and sport among other cultural effects are already entangled within society. Social exclusion is a dominant, perhaps the dominant, characteristic within our society and therefore within culture. Cultural activities themselves are already implicated in the process of exclusion. What perhaps we should be addressing, as well as the local symptoms, is the exclusionary nature of the tenets of our society as a whole.

To exemplify this, where I think that the Government seem to come unstuck in their thinking, or at least incomplete in their appraisal, is in the contradiction that exists between the desire for involving those at the margins of society in arts and sport and the encouragement of business at other levels—for example, the creative industries. In the Government's own thinking there is a separation. In terms of sport we can, for instance, look at the now immense wealth of certain of the Premier League football clubs and the development at that end where the emphasis is on economic success rather than anything to do with community.

What effect, for example, does that have on the smaller local clubs where, from a governmental perspective, the moral emphasis is on shared community values, yet market forces will never be far away?

There is a parallel here with the star system in art where a lot of money chases a relatively small number of known artists who are either kept in London or are sucked into London and away from the regions. In a sense, where the art stars tend now to win out, apart from financially, is that they escape the "social" function of art operating at the local level: that is to say, the governmental policy towards the arts filtered down through the regional arts boards' criteria for funding individual artists' projects. Increasingly, artists have to think their way around this situation to obtain the grants to do the projects that they want to do, or to continue the work that they are already engaged in, with whatever individual intentions there might exist behind that work. Such intentions may be extraordinarily diverse and that diversity is in itself a contribution to society. Yet despite that contribution, the effect of the system is that the great majority of artists work at or below the poverty line which is in itself an example of social exclusion.

The principle at work here in society is the operation of the free market which, to adapt the Government's own terms, excludes possibilities for the many in favour of the few. The Government instruct the local levels of cultural activity to take part in the curative process. Yet most money goes to the business end of those activities.

I asked at the beginning of the debate what was the relationship between social exclusion and access. This Government, perhaps society as a whole see access primarily in terms of the consumption of information as the key to knowledge—a trend very much embodied and supported by the information revolution with all the benefits that that supplies. That is "external access". But what remains I think largely unrecognised is the individual person as a primary source of knowledge which comes from their being in the world. Individuals are producers as well as consumers of knowledge. Without considering the nature of this access, an access to an innate knowledge of the world, one can make only the crudest interpretations of how people visit museums, for instance, among many other activities. The denial of that as a possibility is in some ways the most significant form of social exclusion.

6.54 p.m.

Lord Freyberg

My Lords, it gives me great pleasure to thank my noble friend Lord Clancarty for initiating this important and timely debate on the contribution which arts and sport can make towards social inclusion. Like my noble friend, I too look forward to the maiden speech of the noble Earl, Lord Shaftesbury.

On a personal note, I should like also to take the opportunity to thank my noble friend Lord Clancarty for the significant contribution he has made to debate in this House on the arts and in particular on museums and galleries. His passionate campaigning on these issues and others has been a great inspiration to me and I am extremely sorry that this is the last debate in which we shall both be participating.

My noble friend has already told the House what the Social Exclusion Unit of the Cabinet Office defines as social exclusion; I shall not repeat it. However, we have both been exercised on the subject of access to museums, particularly free access; and I think that we both agree that museums have a useful part to play in tackling social issues, and that they must welcome every section of society.

On 12th October, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport confirmed in his speech to the Social Inclusion Conference that social inclusion is thought to be key across the whole of government and will be of increasing importance to his department. What I hope that he will enlarge on in future is the number of ways museums can be drawn on to help the disadvantaged in our society.

There is a growing recognition of that in government circles, but it has not always been so. The Policy Action Team 10, which reported earlier this year on arts and sport to the Social Exclusion Unit, made surprisingly little reference to the role of museums in creating social inclusion. I understand that this omission has been addressed and I hope that the group that has now been set up to advise the DCMS on this area of policy will be able to redress any previous imbalance.

Today museums are no longer perceived merely to be repositories of valuable artefacts, although they of course hold a wealth of wonderful things and must continue to be bastions of scholarship. Nor is a visit to a museum considered to be the civilising ritual it was in Victorian England. Museums, however, play an important role in our communities. They give individuals knowledge of their cultural identity, an awareness of their traditions and, I hope, enormous pleasure and pride.

Walsall Museum and Art Gallery is an inspiring example of a museum which has successfully made the transition from Victorian municipal museum to paragon of contemporary best practice. Established in 1892, and about to open in a new, exciting building, the museum has gained a reputation aver the past eight years for its pioneering new approaches to exhibition programming and interpretation of its collections. It aspires, in the words of its director, Peter Jenkinson, to be a, national model of accessibility in the arts". Walsall's recent education projects have ranged from the lowest technologies—jigsaw puzzles and 3D construction models—through to the higher technologies of multi-media, video animation and video conferencing. Collections and exhibitions have been explored in a number of exciting and innovative ways, through commissioned music, dance and writing, as well as through the works of many visual artists. Such ground-breaking approaches must be built on and nurtured if our museums are to continue to inspire and attract new audiences.

But none of these new things can be done unless museums can afford to take risks. Museums have extremely limited financial resources and yet they need to be able to test out new and innovative ideas. This is why schemes such as the Heritage Lottery Fund's Museums and Galleries Access Fund are important. The fund exists: to support museums and galleries which are developing innovative, exciting and imaginative approaches in making their collections accessible to the widest possible audience". Through this scheme, the Heritage Lottery Fund is specifically encouraging museums to work with groups that they are not traditionally associated with such as prisoners and victims of drug abuse. It is also aiming to fund projects that include groups such as the disabled and those from ethnic minorities. In addition, museums are able to apply for grants towards the cost of touring their collections to other venues, enabling audiences to look at works that they have had little opportunity to see before. Clearly, pioneering schemes such as these will have to be evaluated in order to make sure that the best ones continue and the least successful ones are dropped. It is hoped that other museums can then learn which projects might best suit them.

Museums can do much to ensure that they are equipped to provide the broadest possible access to the services they offer. They need to work in partnership with other organisations and, in particular, with specialist agencies, using a range of workshops and activities to engage people with their collections. Such agencies can act as a bridge with previously unknown audiences.

In broad terms, I am encouraged by what has so far been achieved in this area. I hope that the Government will continue to support new ways of breaking down barriers between museums and the communities that they serve.

7 p.m.

The Earl of Shaftesbury

My Lords, I apologise to noble Lords for this dramatic last-minute but not opportunistic maiden speech. Although I inherited my title 30 years ago and have attended spasmodically, particularly during the early 1970s when we rigorously debated the Industrial Relations Bill and the European Community Bill of Accession, both in Committee and on Report until extremely late at night, my heart has not entirely been in the thrust and cut of politics, unlike my more distinguished ancestors.

In fact, building a society the Shaftesbury way is not a matter of imprisoning a presumed evil spirit of mankind. It is a matter of beauty and truth. Both Goethe and Voltaire were influenced by the third. Lord Shaftesbury. The former particularly reminded us that we must cultivate our garden. We all know about large prize-winning marrows, but are not succulent baby courgettes more perfect? Small is beautiful too.

However, the size of the arts grant in the United Kingdom is scarcely large. I have been fortunate enough to have had first-hand experience with the London Philharmonic Orchestra for 16 years and more, as well as the International Musicians' Seminar for Chamber Music in Cornwall founded in the early 1970s by Sandor Vegh, the eminent Hungarian violinist and teacher. I always struggled to find sufficient funds for these magnificent organisations. Maybe only the late noble Baroness, Lady Jennie Lee, gave us any hope and impetus. I recall branding her wisdom and enthusiasm at a reception speech in the Royal Festival Hall as the goose that laid the golden egg. Unfortunately, as so often has happened, her endeavours were then two steps forward, to be followed by three backwards, to the arts' world's consternation.

I also collect paintings by living modern artists in a modest fashion. I believe that all noble Lords acquire contemporary literature. The problem seems to lie with marginalised and struggling artists who often, particularly in the case of musicians, spend long hours travelling to work and cannot afford decent instruments and have no pension rights or plans. Shoestring budgets can sometimes produce healthy and excellent art: I do agree, but they can also fall beneath a dignified quantum.

For example, all musicians at a rehearsal of a new commission or work recognise immediately whether it should be aired in public or whether it is unworthy of a performance. Even Gustav Mahler and the Vienna Philharmonic imbued this recognition as a musical necessity, a striving for purity.

I wondered whether the Treasury should not be prompted to look again at means of devising tax breaks, especially for writers whose output can span years and yet, if successful, they are forced to pay to the Inland Revenue even greater sums of tax, as if their onerous opus had been created in a single financial year. I recognise that this matter has been aired before, but these very difficult situations must be addressed if artists are to benefit. There must be a decent way forward since there is so much natural talent to be harnessed; or do we wait for an after-life? I remain concerned.

One of the best sermons I have ever been privileged to hear was by the late Bishop of Winchester. Social exclusion? He said virtually that if one sheep from a flock of 100 goes missing, the good shepherd worries frantically about that single sheep until it is safely found. There are too many sheep, men, women and children, being marginalised. John the Baptist had the answer: why do we not? I remain concerned in these turbulent times, but thank you for your patience. It has been my privilege to be able to speak in your Lordships' House.

7.8 p.m.

The Earl of Listowel

My Lords, on behalf of noble Lords I warmly congratulate the noble Earl, Lord Shaftesbury, on his excellent maiden speech. The noble Earl was Chairman of the London Philharmonic Orchestra Council for many years and has been Honorary President of the Shaftesbury Society since 1961. His contribution this afternoon reflects his enormous experience in these matters. We very much regret that this will be his last contribution.

I thank the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, for calling the debate. I hope that your Lordships will permit me a few further words of thanks to my noble friend on the eve of his departure from the House. His thorough knowledge of Parliament and his independent-mindedness has been a great help to me as I have sought to find my feet during the past year. It is tragic that in him we have lost one of the few younger Peers; one of the very few regular attenders with a concurrent career as a fine artist and one who in just three years has developed an expert knowledge of procedure in this House.

I shall concentrate on one socially excluded group; rough sleepers. They are the homeless who sleep on the streets. Louise Casey, head of the Government's Rough Sleepers Unit, is soon to publish her strategy for achieving the Government's target of a reduction to one third in the number of rough sleepers by 2002. She believes it is essential that rough sleepers become engaged in meaningful activity.

Two of the activities these people find most rewarding are art and sport. Very often, rough sleeping is the result of inadequate parenting and a consequent difficulty in forming and keeping close attachments to people or places. The best experience of rough sleepers' lives may be the esprit de corps found on the street with drinking mates or in the illegally occupied house with heroin addicted friends. Art can be a way of finding something better to replace that experience. Making art allows rough sleepers to express themselves as they have never been able.

The most damaged of these people have felt ignored throughout their lives. Indeed, those who study child development describe those begging and sleeping in the street as forcing us to pay attention to them. Their situation results partly from the need to dramatise their own experience of neglect and rejection. But in art, they have the opportunity to enjoy public attention in a constructive rather than a harmful context. Art teachers pay close attention to their work and do not seek to judge it but simply to help the person express himself.

Some of this work is exhibited. At the preview, the artists are invited to stand up and speak about their work. They are applauded. Their work may also appear in a magazine, such as SMART, the publication produced by Jaime Bautista in London and looking for funding for its third edition. So the person who needed to be on the street to feel noticed finds that notice through his creative work.

Furthermore, in the course of their efforts rough sleepers learn skills which may later earn them employment. For example, one now has a contract as a designer with a renowned advertising agency. In addition, a rapport is built up between the art maker and his teacher. Such intimacies are extremely valuable in healing people who find relating to others difficult. Often, the art teachers give of their private time because of the care that they have for the individuals concerned.

I hope that the Government will consider providing proper training and support for such teachers as part and parcel of making art accessible to the socially excluded. Once an intimacy is established by a vulnerable person, it needs to be sustained. If broken because the teacher has become emotionally exhausted, that may simply confirm the vulnerable person's sense of worthlessness.

I should like to pay tribute to Jaime Bautista, who for 19 years has led art workshops in hostels for rough sleepers in London. He has established an annual exhibition of the art work produced, as described by my noble friend Lord Clancarty. He now produces the magazine, SMART, showcasing art by the homeless. I hope that the Government will consider the funding of art teachers and art materials as part of the rough sleepers strategy for the next three years.

7.14 p.m.

Lord Grantchester

My Lords, from noble Lords who thought that they had heard my parting words yesterday I beg indulgence. When I arrived at the House this morning, I noticed the noble Earl's extremely interesting Question on the Order Paper and I am grateful to him for enabling me to indulge my other great passions, sport and Everton Football Club. I declare an interest as a trustee of the Foundation for Sport and the Arts and as a director of Everton Football Club.

I greatly enjoyed the maiden speech of the noble Earl, Lord Shaftesbury. I found it most interesting. His contribution was particularly pertinent.

Sport and the arts can play an extremely important role in tackling some of the problems associated with social exclusion and deprivation. Participating, especially in team games, can be instrumental in integrating communities, building confidence and pride and creating a feeling of worth. The Foundation for Sport and the Arts, funded by the football pool companies, was set up to enhance the quality of life for the community generally through the funding of sports and the arts at every level, regardless of competence. It aims to encourage outstanding initiative, enterprise and creativity, with the main thrust targeted at community participation and the grass roots. Particular regard is paid to promoting equal opportunities. Access to premises and membership must not be denied by reason of ethnic derivation or gender, with due regard paid to the needs of the disabled.

The foundation identifies worthy projects in sound hands and puts money into them. Since 1991, £320 million has been awarded in grant aid. In the financial year to April 1999, some 1,800 projects were grant-aided to a total of £8.1 million. Trustees are convinced that they have influenced an integration in the community in many areas of sport and the arts.

Noble Lords may wonder what Everton, a Premier League football club, has to do with social exclusion. All football clubs throughout the domestic leagues are concerned with their identification and integration within the local community. Young people identify with their team's stars, and football recognises that it has responsibilities and a role to play in their development. This can be of particular significance in inner city areas.

At Everton Football Club, we realise that if we are to compete at the top, the sports pyramid must be firmly established with a sound and extensive base. The youth programme, as part of the FA Premier League's programme of fostering excellence for the future, has as its objective the identification and encouragement of footballing talent throughout the development of the personality of the young person from the age of nine. Underpinning this extensive youth programme, the Football in the Community scheme at Everton employs six full-time community officers who, together with sponsors and Sportsmatch undertake many coaching and educational sessions with local schools, with the emphasis on ethnic minorities.

Everton recently launched Showing Racism the Red Card, involving many of the first team squad as part of the Kick Racism out of Football campaign of the Commission for Racial Equality. We expect to be the first Premier League club to implement all nine points of the action plan in order to ensure that racism has no place at Everton.

These schemes form part of the wider picture of football's responsibility and underline the determination that the forthcoming international between England and Scotland should not suffer disruption, as witnessed in Dublin between England and Ireland. I trust that the whole House will join with me in supporting the measures introduced by the various authorities to ensure the media only report a footballing occasion as England builds its campaign to host the 2006 World Cup.

7.18 p.m.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester

My Lords, I previously declared an interest in your Lordships' House as the vice chairman of the Government's Football Task Force. I hope that when the task force has concluded its work and published its final report, I shall have the good fortune to address the House again and perhaps at slightly greater length than I am permitted tonight.

Meanwhile, I crave your Lordships' indulgence for allowing me to intervene in the debate. I shall do so briefly. I thank the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, for initiating the debate and I congratulate the noble Earl, Lord Shaftesbury, on his fascinating maiden speech. I am pleased also to follow my noble friend Lord Grantchester, who speaks with such authority on the subjects of the Foundation for Sport and the Arts, and the role of Everton Football Club.

I shall discuss briefly the ways in which foot ball can play a part in tackling problems of social exclusion, which was the subject of the task force's third report, Investing in the Community, published earlier this year. The report states: Football is unique among sports in the positive influence it can have on the lifestyle choices of young people. Young boys who are disruptive and under-achieve at school are often those who are involved in crime and anti-social behaviour out of school hours. They have few interests—but football is usually one of them. Organisations that work with disenfranchised young people see the value of building on this interest and using it to stimulate an interest in learning or provide a distraction from crime". The report was prepared following an extensive programme of visits to 10 major cities in England, where the task force members took evidence from local people during the day and held open meetings in the evening for anyone who wanted to come along to express an opinion. Our report describes a number of schemes. The oldest and best established is the Football in the Community Scheme set up in 1986 and run by the Footballers' Further Education and Vocational Training Society, with the support and active involvement of all the main authorities in the game. Its original purposes were: to provide employment and training for unemployed people; to promote closer links between clubs and the community; to involve minority and ethnic groups in social and recreational activities; to attempt to prevent acts of hooliganism and vandalism, and to maximise the use of the facilities at the football club.

Such schemes are in place at 86 of the 92 professional clubs. My noble friend Lord Grantchester informed us of the good work at Everton in that respect. Research carried out last year found that 80 per cent of community officers saw involving young people in football activities—on school holiday coaching courses, through organising games and tournaments, and by bringing the game into the classroom, and so on—as the most important part of their job.

The task force particularly commended the schemes at Leicester City for tackling racism, at Manchester City for drug awareness, at Sheffield United for working with local people to promote a leisure park in the most deprived part of the city, and at Wolverhampton Wanderers, which pioneered the idea of "midnight leagues" to encourage youngsters to play sport, rather than to hang around street corners late at night.

We were also greatly impressed by the work being carried out by the National Association for the Care and Rehabilitation of Offenders in the Salford Football Community Link Project. This involves 1,000 young people and over 100 adult volunteers in running football teams on high crime estates, particularly those affected by vandalism, under-age drinking and drug abuse. That scheme, as your Lordships may remember, was visited by Mr Eric Cantona as part of his community service after his conviction for assaulting a fan at Crystal Palace. Both NACRO and the local police heap praise on the scheme, and say that on an estate in Pendlebury where there are particular problems, the number of reported incidents of anti-social behaviour was reduced as a direct result. It is important for such schemes to be encouraged because they demonstrate the part that football can play in tackling social exclusion.

7.23 p.m.

Viscount Falkland

My Lords, we are all grateful for the opportunity to speak in the debate introduced by the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty. It is a particular pleasure for me because the noble Earl and the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, who sits beside him, have played an important part in many of our recent debates on the arts. It has been a great pleasure for me to take part in those debates with them. The noble Earl will not be with us for much longer, which is sad. The noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, like myself, is fortunate in that he will continue to be with us for a while. I hope that we shall take part in other debates on the arts in the future together with the noble Earl, Lord Listowel. In that respect, it is both a sad and happy evening.

The maiden speech of the noble Earl, Lord Shaftesbury, displayed uncommon charm and colour. That has been a quality of many maiden speeches in your Lordships' House from both life and hereditary Peers. In my 15 years in the House I have never had occasion to see life and hereditary Peers as anything other than the same. But we now go our separate ways.

The noble Earl began by asking, rightly, what the definition of "social exclusion" was. I hope that he will permit me to amplify the remarks he made. To me and I believe to most noble Lords social exclusion is one of the greatest ills in our society. It is an ill not only of our society but of other industrial countries. The list of other ills that spring from social exclusion is endless. Unemployment is an obvious one. Others are disability, racism, addiction, crime and illiteracy. It is of great credit to the Government that since they have been in power they have taken great steps in all departments to tackle this problem in our society. We support all the steps that they have taken.

I hope that the Minister will tell us more about his department's work in this respect, in particular the work resulting from the reports of Policy Action Team 10 and of the Social Exclusion Unit. In the few minutes available to me I should like to concentrate on one aspect of social exclusion which I did not include in the list that I gave. It is one of the most worrying and pernicious issues and I believe that in expressing that view I have the support of the Prime Minister and probably of most noble Lords. That issue is child poverty.

With child poverty at its current levels in this country one cannot build anything. Of course there is a relationship, implicit in our debate, between social exclusion and the arts and sport, but how can we bring more people into those areas, which are, after all, the areas concerned with enriching people's lives in all civilised societies, if child poverty exists at today's levels? The Prime Minister says that he is going to halve the level of child poverty in 10 years. I have great faith in his determination to do so, and he will certainly have every support from these Benches and from the party which I represent.

I was interested to see that only yesterday a Treasury policy paper was published, as was another important part of the Chancellor's pre-Budget report, which dealt specifically and directly with the issue of child poverty. The report recognised the importance of the voluntary sector. I have a personal interest in that sector because I have been connected with the work of what used to be called the Pre-School Playgroups Association—it is now called the Pre-School Learning Alliance—which has been a leader in the voluntary sector dealing with the problems of children outside the normal net of nursery school education. Those children often live in extreme poverty, often with a lone parent.

The Government have taken very seriously the work of the voluntary sector in this area. I am delighted that that is so, in particular on behalf of the Pre-School Learning Alliance. That group was a conspicuous sufferer as a result of the fall-out from the disastrous nursery voucher system. Effectively, that made it possible for the maintained sector to poach funds which were available to the voluntary sector, upon which the Pre-School Learning Alliance depended. That issue was followed up to some extent when the present Government came to power, and it was addressed in yesterday's remarks. I am delighted about that, as is, I know, that particular voluntary group. Focus will now be concentrated on the effective areas in the voluntary sector which deal with child poverty.

As many of your Lordships know, playgroups have filled an important gap in the education system. They have provided opportunities for children who are excluded by poverty from the earlier stages of education, and they have also benefited the parents, bringing them into a level of activity which enables them to learn, progress and enrich their lives and those of their children in a way which often, unhappily, is still impossible for many.

In summing up, again I congratulate the Government. Apart from anything else, I like to see departments working together. I may be naive; I always thought that departments did work together until I came into this House 15 years ago, and I now know that that is a rare thing. However, I believe that it is now happening, to the benefit of us all. It is rare for me to praise the Government in such extravagant terms, but I believe that progress is now being made. If the Government get this right, we shall no longer need to have a debate in exactly the same terms as those raised by the noble Earl this evening. A great number of people who are excluded from enjoying the enriching area of arts and sport will be able to do so to the benefit of the country as a whole.

7.32 p.m.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns

My Lords, it is a courtesy in this House that noble Lords thank the Peer who has introduced the debate. Like other noble Lords, I do so tonight with heart as well as mind. Other noble Lords have expressed their appreciation of the way in which the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, has introduced difficult topics for the House to consider. He has always spoken about them with independent mindedness and with forensic attention, which I have found extremely valuable. He will be much missed. I thank also my noble friend Lord Shaftesbury for the opportunity he took to make his maiden speech this evening. It may, indeed, be late in the day but, thank goodness, not too late.

I feel I cannot do justice to this subject in such a short debate, but I shall attempt to flag up some of what. I believe to be the main issues. The Policy Action Team report states that: Participation in the arts and sport has a beneficial impact. They can build confidence and encourage strong community groups". I believe that there will be broad agreement on that. But I feel that a controversial question underlies this debate. What should be the Government's role in promoting social inclusion and what is their definition of the kind of society that they believe to be acceptable?

In the past, totalitarian states at both extremes of the political spectrum have used the arts to promote social uniformity, and sports to promote national supremacy. Therefore, when we talk about the reduction or elimination of social exclusion, we must all always be aware that we may be treading a fine line between social prescription and social enrichment.

The second danger is that it is tempting to tackle the issue of social exclusion only by targeting policies or activity at neighbourhoods and to overlook the individuals elsewhere.

The third danger is that as soon as one starts to talk about using arts and sport as a vehicle for promoting social inclusion, one is at risk of treating them as therapies, not as disciplines of excellence. One must take the greatest care to ensure that the arts and sport are seen as valuable in themselves and not just valuable if they deliver social order and prosperity. In promoting them as something that we all can do, we must not forget to promote them, too, as something that only some people can do very well.

I believe that voluntary organisations have led the way in grasping those difficult issues and in getting the balance right. There are many examples of their success, some of which we have already heard about this evening. I should like to quote just two.

Noble Lords will be familiar with the work of the NABC—Clubs for Young People. Its president is a Cross-Bencher in this House—the noble Lord, Lord Inchyra. It is one of the largest, longest-established, national voluntary youth organisations in the UK. It is a club and activity-based organisation which supports over 2,000 affiliated clubs and serves the needs of more than 350,000 young people. Its diverse programme of youth work helps its young members to take their place in society as responsible citizens—whatever their ability may be—having reached their full potential.

Earlier this year I visited one of its clubs. It is situated in Old Pye Street, Victoria, just a few hundred yards away from this House. It was full of good-natured noise and energy directed at activity which the young people thoroughly enjoyed. There was everything from line dancing to kick boxing. The young girl doing the kick boxing certainly left me impressed—not physically, I hasten to add!

I have, of course, also been impressed by the work of the National Playing Fields Association, to which I have referred in previous debates. I declare an interest as an honorary appeal patron to its millennium appeal. The association launched its millennium centre project to provide a series of community facilities, rather like village halls, in high density urban areas throughout the UK, run by the community for the community. By next year, there will be 10 centres across the UK from Glasgow to Hackney. Each of those centres will provide facilities which are sorely needed for play, sports and hobbies—a vast variety of activities. 'They will also provide activities such as midnight basketball, which has reduced street crime in American cities by between 30 per cent and 70 per cent. In essence, that late-night recreation scheme—rather like the football scheme already referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester—is designed to appeal to young people at a time of day when they are vulnerable. It keeps them both safe and out of trouble. It also provides them with learning opportunities.

Those are just two examples of voluntary organisations which work in this field. That work is invaluable to the welfare of society and individuals now and in the future.

But what of the vision projected by the Policy Action Team report and the Government's response? Time permits me only to dip my toes into the waters of this report, but I suspect that even if I waded in, I should not get very far. However, when I read the summary of recommendations on pages 9 to 19 (the pages are not numbered, so I apologise to noble Lords for having to describe them in detail), I soon realised that we were in familiar waters as far as concerns the Government. Generally, no quantifiable targets are set out by the team and the time-scales are very loose. Out of 44 recommendations, 25 are set merely as "ongoing". Therefore, measurement of progress becomes impossible.

I have a few questions for the Minister about the recommendations. Page 55 refers to European Union activity. It states that the DCMS should, seek to ensure the more systematic use of [EC] Agenda 2000 [regeneration] funds to support arts/sports projects promoting neighbourhood renewal". Is that on the agenda for the EU Cultural Council meeting on 23rd November and, if not, why not? Perhaps other discussions have taken place. If so, I should be grateful if the Minister could confirm that.

Where a time-scale is set of three, six or 12 months—as is the case with regard to some recommendations—can the Minister say what is the start date from which we count that time? Is it from the publication of the report last July, or from some other date?

I should like to give three examples of where target dates are set. Page 11 states that the DETR should consult on a revised draft of PPG17 (Sport and Recreation) by the end of October 1999. Is that consultation complete? If so, when can we expect the results to be published? On page 13, the DCMS is advised that it: should ensure that neighbourhood renewal issues are on the initial agenda and strategies of the new DCMS regional cultural consortiums, and that the consortiums properly involve the commercial culture/leisure sector". That is within one year, but from when? Page 14 states: When developing its sports strategy DCMS should ensure that the benefits of participation in sport can be shared by people from all groups in society". That is a laudable objective. It states that that should be achieved within six months; but six months from what occasion?

Publication of the sports strategy is already many months overdue; so much so that several of the leading sports bodies have gone ahead and published their own. The strategy document, A Partnership for Sport, recently published by the Central Council for Physical Recreation, and put together by the governing bodies of swimming, cricket, football, lawn tennis, rugby and athletics, highlights a fundamental flaw in the Government's approach so far. It states: Government has not been able to decide whether its remit for sport is an issue of health, education, culture or social inclusion". That is the problem for all of us in looking at issues of both arts and sport. When the Government have made their decision, I am sure that all noble Lords will look forward to analysing it.

7.41 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, this is a sad as well as a happy occasion; sad because noble Lords who have taken part will no longer be with us but happy because they have been able to do so and because the result has been such a constructive debate. It has been notable also for the maiden speech of the noble Earl, Lord Shaftesbury. Perhaps I may say immediately that anybody who names Jennie Lee has friends on these Benches. As the noble Earl probably remembers, she was in some ways an impossible woman. However, she was also remarkable for her involvement with the Open University and was probably the best Minister for the Arts this country has ever had. It was marvellous to hear the noble Earl paying tribute to her amidst his references to Keats, Voltaire, vegetable marrows and courgettes, which I very much enjoyed.

Let me say where I come from on this. I shall not say that everything in the garden is lovely, even though it is not a Westphalian garden. In the early seventies, as a member of the Greater London Council, I was roped in to what was called "The Spitalfields Project" before Spitalfields became largely Bangladeshi. The theory behind that project was, "What is wrong with deprived areas is the lack of co-ordination between departments and different levels of local authorities". The Department of the Environment, the Greater London Council, the Inner London Education Authority and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets all got together and asked, "Can we all act together in cooperation rather than separately?" That sounded fine. We had a small group of members surrounded by an enormous group of officials from various bodies, probably numbering 50. We had meetings and a budget over a period of three years. At the end of that time we had carried out some useful work. We had built children's playgrounds, converted buildings for community use, provided traffic calming schemes and all sorts of good things.

At the public meeting held at the end of the project—we held our meetings in public—I was sitting at the table when an old lady came up and plonked a lump of mouldy bread in front of me. She said, "It's all very well you lot tinkering around the edges. What's wrong with this place is that we do not have decent dry homes to live in, which is why my bread is mouldy, and we do not have proper jobs". Fundamentally, that set me against pilot projects, demonstration projects and area projects which are and have been used by governments in the past as an excuse for not tackling the major issues.

The key to combating social exclusion is to make government programmes work more effectively to solve the basic problems faced by those who feel most excluded. That is why the main government strategy for social exclusion features on health, crime, education and employment. I should add to that, from my own interest, housing. That does not represent a sidelining of the arts and sport but is a major opportunity for them to help on the ground: to get people fitter, improve their employment prospects and to divert those committing petty crime.

That is why social inclusion is a key initiative across government. It is remarkable that this is the first debate to be held in either House, not just on social exclusion and arts and sport but on social exclusion at all. There has been no proper debate in either House before today on this absolutely vital subject. I confirm that the early definition of social inclusion given by the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, still applies. However, I do not place much faith in definitions. It is what we do with them that really matters.

The aim here is to address poverty and to give opportunities to everybody. I hope I can show in the limited time available that the way to achieve that is by the approaches being taken across government, in all departments, to ensure protection throughout life. We have mentioned child poverty. We have not talked much about pensioners, but we could have done, and everybody in between. Measures for families do not come under the category of social exclusion but perhaps they should. I refer to the working families' tax credit which helps families get back to work; the National Child Care Strategy; Sure Start; education and initiatives to reduce truancy and exclusion; the education action zones and the commitment to nursery education of one kind or another for the under-fives, to which the noble Viscount, Lord Falkland, referred. I refer also to employment and the new deals to help people back into work. They start with the under-25s, go on to the over 50s and, as a result of announcements yesterday, are being extended beyond that.

The Social Exclusion Unit, set up by the Prime Minister on the initiative of No. 10 Downing Street, based in the Cabinet Office, is working on projects including the strategy for neighbourhood renewal, reducing teenage pregnancy and improving participation and achievement in learning by 16 to 18 year-olds. In the area of crime there is the setting up of youth offending teams. There is also the vital objective of reducing health inequalities and standards of care and, for all these departments, strengthening communities. I refer not to initiatives by one department but those which involve all departments in local partnerships, giving control of regeneration initiatives to local communities. I should refer to rough sleepers, mentioned by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, who, as he knows, are a particular focus of one of the reports of the Social Exclusion Unit.

I turn to the role of arts and sport. The Policy Action Team 10 has been referred to by a number of speakers. It was set up by the Social Exclusion Unit and led by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. I do not like to disagree with the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, but he described it as a socialist theory of art that it should be there to cure society's ills. I should love to debate socialist aesthetics with him at some stage, from Engels to Luckács to John Berger. However, that is not the way I see it and not the way I believe it is seen by modern democratic socialists. We see excellence in the arts as being their own objective. We do not see them having their basis in social purpose. I am more of the Louis Dudebat school in "The Doctor's Dilemma" than I am of curing society's ills.

Having said that, what we find already existing in government is that culture, leisure and heritage, in the broader sense, have a valuable role to play in neighbourhood renewal. There are numerous examples. I could take up an entire speech with examples. For instance, in relation to improved health we have the culture-sensitive provisions made by Hounslow Borough Council's Community Recreation Outreach team; in education we have the work of the Hartcliffe Boys' Dance Company in Bristol; in relation to reducing crime we have the education programme of the Galleries of Justice in Nottingham.

While I am on the subject of museums, I can advise the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, whose examples of Walsall were welcome, that the Museums and Galleries Social Inclusion Group, which is due to report to Ministers by February of next year, had its first meeting at DCMS this morning. I am sure that the noble Lord will be interested in its conclusions after the study.

Participation in cultural and leisure activities, like amateur dramatics, playing a sport or visiting a library, can help to instil individual pride; it can raise expectations; it can raise community spirit; it can provide leadership capacity within communities. We want to see communities themselves having the power and taking the responsibility to make things better. From what I said at the outset it is clear that I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, that we are not just talking of deprived communities; we are concerned with individuals wherever they may be who may be socially excluded and who should be included in the programmes.

The noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, questioned the relationship of access to social inclusion. Access is about providing convenient facilities for people to use. Social inclusion is about getting people involved and drawing them in. That is a link between them. There is no question of any conflict there.

The important point, which again relates to what I said at the beginning, is that we should not be tinkering with short-term projects; projects which will die after three years unless they fund themselves—the pattern in the past; pilots that will not exist in the long term. We want to see changes in the mainstream of how central and local government funding is spent. We want to see arts and sports bodies which receive public funds being accessible to everyone. That is not—I say this again to the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty—in conflict with business involvement. Indeed, if we look at the initiative of my noble friend Lord Hamlyn—the Hamlyn Week in the Royal National Theatre gives a whole week of cheap tickets to provide greater access—we see that business and charity can work together. However, it is true, as the noble Earl reminded us, that accessibility applies widely to people with disabilities, people of different ethnic origins, people with poor educational qualifications.

All the arts and sports bodies in receipt of public funding are being encouraged not to depart from quality, which is a prerequisite, and to work actively to engage those who have been excluded in the past. We want them to look outside their traditional, virtual funding patterns—this relates to what the noble Earl, Lord Shaftsbury, was saying—to provide the links between remedies for social exclusion and the arts and sport. Health spending on the arts can help treat mental health problems. Decent access to leisure facilities can reduce crime—the midnight football matches. Education spending on cultural leisure can reduce truancy. That is why the Policy Action Team was interdepartmental. It included the Cabinet Office, DETR, the Department for Education and Employment, the Treasury, the Department of Health, the Government Offices for the Regions and Number 10 Policy Unit.

We are embedding the social inclusion objectives throughout the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and throughout government. We are setting up social inclusion groups to develop, advise and monitor social inclusion policy for libraries and museums. We are reviewing the funding arrangements which we have with our non-departmental public bodies. We are working—this relates to what my noble friends Lord Grantchester and Lord Faulkner said—with the Football Association, the FA Premier League and other interested parties, to develop a funding package for grass roots football which is likely to be worth £50 million.

In all of that we must not underestimate the role of the Lottery distributors, who again are being encouraged, respecting their independence but within their agreed objectives, to look at the social exclusion element of the applications which come to them.

The noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, raised a number of specific points in relation to publication of reports and the timing of funds. The answers are rather complicated and perhaps I may write to her. I can assure her there is nothing sinister in that.

I have exceeded my time, as I so often do. I hope your Lordships will feel that the Government are grateful for the exposure which has taken place in this debate. We are determined to avoid some of the worst mistakes of the past and have a clear idea of how to move ahead, but we are still open to ideas. We are grateful for the contributions of your Lordships in this debate.

Lord Carter

My Lords, as the House is aware, we are awaiting the House of Lords Bill from another place. In view of the time, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure until nine o'clock.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

[The Sitting was suspended from 8.6 to 9 p.m.]

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