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Youth And Community Bill

Volume 886: debated on Friday 21 February 1975

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Order for Second Reading read.

2.27 p.m.

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

We now move from one generation to another. I can be very brief as this is the third time round the course for this particular animal. Her colours remain the same, though there are some minor differences to her harness, as I shall explain.

The initial impetus for the Bill came from those working in the youth sphere. Alan Haselhurst, the former Member for Middleton and Prestwich, toured the country asking youth officers, youth workers and many youngsters what should be included. Hon. Members may recall that the Bill was lost as a result of the February 1974 General Election.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Sir E. Brown) persuaded the House to give the Bill a Second Reading last May, and I pay tribute to his efforts, but the October General Election was waiting in ambush.

I am grateful to the many people and organisations who have helped me to amend the initial Bill in the light of the advice given by hon. Members on two occasions and the further suggestions of those engaged in youth work at this time. Throughout I have worked closely with Alan Haselhurst and have benefited enormously from his objective criticism and enthusiastic encouragement.

In his speech in the House on 1st February 1974, Alan Haselhurst gave a masterly presentation of the reasons behind the Bill which are well worth looking up again. A writer who died during the Spanish Civil War wrote:
"Man becomes free not by realising himself in opposition to society, but through society."
I have taken on this Bill as I believe that it will help young people to grow up with a belief in the rationality of their society, and I believe that it will tap the idealism of many young people which for too long has run to waste.

It is the first legislative attempt since the noble Lord, Lord Butler's historic 1944 Education Act to take positive steps towards improving the services for young people in this country. I suggest that the relevant provisions of that 1944 Act are too woolly. Of course, many authorities are sensitive to the problems and have used their powers. This Bill is mainly directed to those authorities about which those words would be inappropriate.

I remind the House that since 1944 there have been two major reports—the Albemarle Report, and "Youth and Community Work in the 1970s". I and my fellow sponsors have sought to cull some of the most valuable ideas from both of those major reports.

I now touch lightly on the various clauses and the main amendments which have been made since this filly was last paraded in the paddock. Clause 1 and Schedule 1 are concerned with the setting up of joint committees, for there is insufficient co-operation and co-ordination at present. It is the complaint of many voluntary organisations that they are not taken into consultation at an early enough stage of the planning process. We are perfectly clear in our minds that the rôle of the voluntary bodies remains of the greatest importance.

Clause 2 is an attempt to update the list of services which a good local authority should want to provide. I draw attention to the fact that I have removed from this clause certain wording and, in particular, the phrase "ethnic minorities", which appeared to jar with some hon. Members last year. In subsection (2)(b) the word "equipment" has been added. In subsection (3) the word "disadvantaged" is of some significance. Hon. Members may know that the majority of young people who take advantage of youth service facilities are still predominantly disadvantaged young people. I apologise for the word "disadvantaged". It has certain legal importance. One could not think up a better word in that context.

Clause 3 is perhaps the most important part of the Bill. It will make every local education authority set up at least one youth assembly. All issues concerning youth which face an authority will be sent to the assembly for discussion. I happen to believe that young people should be heard because they have something to say and not just because they are young people. The idea of bringing the young and, I may add, the poor, into planning will be opposed by some grey-haired city administrators. Of that I have no doubt. But I believe that we are right to embark on such an experiment. We seek a real partnership between the experience of mature adults and the idealism of young people.

Clause 4 deals simply with the servicing of the youth assembly. Clause 5, I confess, I had wished to see as part of Clause 2, but I found such a transplant impossible for my highly experienced legal surgeon. Voluntary social work has made me acutely aware of the housing needs of young people in Greater London. I am the first to acknowledge the problems of this clause, but it would be foolish to seek to provide for young people without making some mention of their housing needs, particularly when those needs are so acute in many of the big conurbations. Let us be stimulated by this provision and let us hope that certain local authorities will also be stimulated and, indeed, stirred up.

Clause 6 introduces the concept of community service. Community service has a fundamental part to play against deprivation, and we must not overlook what it can do for the giver. I want to see a much broader approach to educating young people. Let us get away from too much formal education and let us get them out into the community, where they can benefit the community and benefit themselves. That is the underlying theme in the Bill.

Clause 7 is to meet the rules under which I have to play. It most certainly does not meet my wishes in this matter. We are all conscious that if central Government one happy day could make more money available, the position would be transformed. For my part, I have accepted omissions which can only weaken that which remains. I have done so because I am aware of the terrible plight of many local authorities. But what is done now financially by some authorities can be achieved by others, and when some of the Bill's supporters follow me in speaking, they may wish to include in the reckoning the growing costs of delinquency in many areas.

Clause 8 is new. I have willingly responded to the many suggestions that I have received that mention should be made of co-ordination at the national level. May I make clear at this point that I seek to be advised by the House whether Wales should have a separate advisory committee. I admit that I am no expert on Welsh affairs. I take it as axiomatic that the Secretary of State will wish to have the benefit of the views of the National Council of Voluntary Youth Services and the National Assembly.

I shall allow Clause 9 to speak for itself.

Clause 10 brings Scotland into the Bill. I should have liked to do the same for Northern Ireland, but the House will probably agree with my judgment that this is not the moment, unfortunately, to do that.

I am very conscious of the fact that there is never a perfect time to introduce legislation of this nature. But it is my belief that if at such a time of economic stress we can support imaginative ideas and long-term aims, it will be to our credit. Say it a hundred times, it still remains true: a better society tomorrow starts with a better deal for youth today. Let us remember also the social cost of aimless defection from society such as that of the beatniks, or of the mindless anger of the self-styled Hell's Angels—those rebels without a cause.

No one who has studied the subject of youth and the community in recent years can doubt that a large number of experienced and responsible people have reached broad agreement that legislation is overdue and agreement on the basic structure of that legislation. My party, in its October manifesto, stated:
"We will re-introduce the Youth and Community Bill."
The Labour Party stated that it would
"legislate for an annual review and an annual report to Parliament on youth services."
From reading the reports of the last two debates on the subject, it is clear that this is not a party issue and that there is wide support for the Bill from all quarters of the House. Bearing in mind that support. I trust that we shall be third time lucky.

I appreciate that on 5th February, shortly before our Bill was printed, and, I must point out, shortly after I had written to the Secretary of State informing him of the nature of my Bill, the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Jenkins), the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science, issued a Press notice. This stated that he was
I emphasise the word "about"—
"to arrange consultations with statutory and voluntary youth service interests and with representative young people."
All of us welcome such consultations, but it would be unreasonable to regard them in any way as a substitute for the proposals which are now before the House.

These are proposals which are wide open for improvement by amendment by those in all quarters of the House. They are proposals which have been before the House, in the main, on two previous occasions. They are proposals which originated among those active in youth work. They are proposals which for over a year have been debated and reported on within the youth services. They are proposals which, even more than a year ago, enjoyed the enthusiastic support of thousands upon thousands of young people.

The hon. Member for Putney, the Under-Secretary, has asked the National Youth Bureau to organise an essay competition on the subject "What Youth Needs Today". This is my contribution.

I conclude by reminding the House of the low morale among youth workers. At a time when major cuts in expenditure have to take place, some legislative underpinning is clearly valuable. Does not the Bill suggest one small way of aiding the transformation of a still wealthy society into a more rational and civilised society? Does not the Bill have something to say to a group to which we as a House do not normally bother to speak—those aged 25 and under? Our glittering materialistic society can tantalise and deflect the young. Are we to give them the world of their parents' television screen but deny them the possibilities of making an effective contribution towards their own community?

Will my hon. Friend advise the House what indicated to him in his negotiations with the Minister that the Minister would not accept the excellent Bill that we are now debating? Did he give any reason for not coming to the House and wholeheartedly supporting a measure which will not commit the Government in the immediate future to any financial commitment?

My hon. Friend places me in some difficulty. I believe that my conversations with the Minister were confidential. I would much rather the Minister express the Government's point of view. Perhaps that task should not be undertaken by a mere back bencher with one year's service. I end by saying that I think it is a good day for the House to appoint itself an ambassador for the young and to become a sure instrument of action on their behalf.

2.41 p.m.

I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for calling me to speak in this debate. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Bexleyheath (Mr. Townsend) on bringing forward the Bill. Many voluntary organisations were gravely disappointed when the Bill was not able to pass through the House on the previous occasion. I sincerely hope that today will see the start of the passage of the Bill towards the statute book.

There are one or two matters in the Bill to which I should like to add my observations. The joint committee which the Bill proposes to establish will comprise representatives from the education committees and voluntary organisations. It will be set up to develop and co-ordinate sporting activities. It is crucially important that an element of harmonisation should be carefully observed. The work of the voluntary organisations is immensely important. I would have preferred the joint committee to have responsibility for drawing up the scheme and reporting to the education committees before going forward to the Minister. The danger that may or may not exist in the event of the committee being set up is that the voluntary organisations could feel somewhat swamped or overshadowed by the education committee representatives. I should like to feel that the committee would work primarily on a voluntary basis and that it would have authority and responsibility for the work of putting the scheme together.

Education is extremely important in terms of sport. Many schools are not utilising their sports facilities to the full. I was educated in schools where sport was compulsory. I believe that I benefited from it. I believe that sports should be fixed in the curriculum of schools as a compulsory activity. I have spoken to a number of people of school age who tell me that sport is basically obligatory in many areas although it is not often that a pupil will take part in sporting activity more than once a week. I hope that sport can be seriously encouraged in all our schools.

There is a most important provision concerning youth exchange. It is essential that we become an outward-looking nation, particularly in international sport. Great value can be derived from young people going abroad within European countries—for example, within the EEC—or within the old Commonwealth countries. It gives them a chance to see what goes on in other countries, to exchange ideas and to engage in competition with other young people. That is immensely valuable in forming the character of young people. To my mind the success of the television series "It's a Knockout" was remarkable. When I first saw one of the earlier programmes in the series I wondered whether it would catch on. It is clear that it did. It caught the imagination of young people, and older people became excited about the competition, the element of humour and the amusement that the programme gave.

In all the important aspects of sport it is essential to ensure that the fullest publicity is given to the sporting activities that are available. I see the Bill as providing the core of administration to give publicity to the varying sporting activities available to young people which are run by voluntary organisations or local authorities.

The Bill refers to young people between the ages of 21 and 26. I cannot help wondering whether a maximum age of 26 is not a bit too young. There are many people up to the age of 30, and some above it, who play rugger. I happen to have been one of them although I have now retired from the game. To restrict the age to 26 could be a mistake. We want to bring in people with experience to work, for example, on the committee of football, rugby and hockey clubs. They could be useful to the whole area of sport. I believe that the age group could run from 18 years. No longer do we regard 21 as being the age of majority. Nowadays it is considered to be 18. I would have preferred a wider band of younger people to be brought into the Bill.

I welcome the Bill as I feel that it will give publicity and co-ordination to all the services that are vitally important to sport. I know of voluntary organisations which suffer from the problem of not having a mini-bus to take people involved in their games from one place to another. That has always been a problem and it has intensified because of the high price of petrol. It is cheaper to put a dozen or more people into a minibus than to have four or five cars going from A to B. I am sure that the local authorities could be of help. Many authorities make mini-buses available to schools, and the vehicles are not used during the weekends or during the evenings. That is the sort of scheme that could be made to work through the Bill. I hope that as the work progresses it can be extended.

Finally, I must stress the importance of the voluntary effort and the fact that there needs to be greater emphasis on voluntary rather than local authority participation. I hope that that will be the ultimate aim of the Bill.

2.49 p.m.

I begin by congratulating the hon. Member for Bexleyheath (Mr. Townsend) on introducing a measure of real merit. I congratulate him on his courage in seeking to place further burdens on local authorities at this time. Perhaps his courage is fortified in that he has not been influenced by those ratepayers who are seeking to identify the weaknesses of local authorities.

One principle in the Bill which is particularly attractive is the emphasis which is placed upon co-operation between local authorities and voluntary organisations. I am sure that this is the way in which we would all wish to see local provision developing in future. It has already been evident. We must bear in mind the great level of success of programmes of urban aid. If I might comment on an area close to my own interests, there has been the development of proposals for an adult literacy project.

Here again the suggestion is that voluntary organisations should get support through enlightened local authority action with which they could not just mobilise the financial resources of the local authority but canalise the good will which exists throughout the community to try to tackle local problems through co-operative voluntary effort. The principle of the Bill, which is a reflection of this approach to local authority work, is one to which I give my fullest support.

This will be one of the more fruitful ways of remedying a developing fault of local authorities that as they have become bigger they may not have become better and they have certainly become more remote. A dangerous gulf has opened up between the authorities and the communities they seek to serve. We should emphasise that councillors are not elected merely to participate in voting and that officers are not there merely to shift vast amounts of paper between different departments. It is time that councillors and officials took their coats off, came out from behind their official desks and from their committees and discussed their policies and the work of the community with the people they are seeking to represent. It is a very attractive feature of the Bill that this point is emphasised.

Our past failure to develop the co-operative rôle of local authorities on the question of voluntary work in the community has helped to create a dangerous degree of alienation between the ordinary man in the street, particularly the ratepayer, and the local authority which provides services. There is a danger that authorities will be looked upon as remote bodies which consume vast resources and demand high levels of rates and that they are responsive to the community only when they are threatened with outbursts of public anger over the rates.

Alienation between the community and the local authority will not be overcome by vigorous criticism in campaigns against authorities which can do little in the present state of inflation drastically to reduce their costs. We should aim to create structures and relationships in which full understanding of the local authority's rôle develops in the community and co-operation between the authority and the community becomes the norm. In so far as the Bill enjoins this rôle upon local authorities in another area—the area of youth work—I welcome it.

I recognise that the Bill is valuable in the emphasis it places upon social education. We seem to spend a great deal of time criticising young people and not emphasising the enormous capacity they have for contributing to the community through their talents and ability. One obvious quality that young people enjoy is that in many respects they are at an age when the demands of the family are least in evidence. They have developed to a stage where parental restraint and ties are more limited because they have reached the age of discretion. They have not reached that age at which they take on the responsibilities of providing for a family.

This means that young people are a very important element in the community and they have more time for setting up social relationships which are wider than just the family, work or school. Also they show a considerable degree of good will towards community projects. I should not think that there is any hon. Member here today who is unaware of contributions of young people towards the development of the community, and these are of an enormous advantage. I am thinking of the way in which schemes have been developed to decorate aged persons' homes or to take out handicapped people on Sunday afternoons when those people do not have their own transport to get away from the towns. All these activities are evident among the young people in my area of Enfield, and I am sure that that is the general situation throughout the country.

The element of social disadvantage which is referred to in the Bill is expressed in a fairly loose and general phrase and does not bear sufficiently upon one particular group of disadvantaged people whose case I should like to emphasise. It is clear that we have a growing responsibility towards the problems of young people who are from ethnic minorities and are either immigrants themselves or are the older children of immigrants.

In some respects it might be suggested that we are responding to these problems only as they manifest themselves in some of the more obviously anti-social behaviour which the newspapers emphasise. I take a more creative attitude, however, and suggest that many pious words have been put forward by educators on how good relationships can be developed within the schools—and there is great scope for the development of private syllabuses in our educational institutions to promote good community relationships. But these are not as valuable as the opportunities which this Bill might provide in engendering local authority support for projects which genuinely bring in co-operative endeavour on the part of different voluntary organisations, some of which represent different immigrant groups.

It seems much more important to work for a multiracial society and good community relationships than just to talk about it. In this respect I suggest that the Bill should be seen in the context of the recognition that social disadvantage can be defined only in terms of the real needs of the immigrant. Youth work in this area can provide us with a base on which we could promote much better relationships than at present exist between different ethnic groups.

I welcome the initiative in the Bill concerning local authority responsibility for accommodation for homeless young people. This is a major social problem which is developing and which, unless we take speedy action, will grow to threatening proportions in future years. As young people become more footloose and free of the constraints of the family, they become more mobile, and it is therefore necessary to provide appropriate accommodation for them. I welcome that aspect of the Bill.

One aspect of the Bill on which I should like to enter a note of criticism and on which I should like at the appropriate stage to move an amendment is the proposal that the link between the youth assemblies and the local education authority committees should be through one member of the youth assembly who is a participant in a committee. I am worried about "representative" being defined in a single capacity. It looks to me as if the great danger is, like the statutory black person in the United States or the statutory woman in the British Cabinet, that they are there not because they represent a crucial interest but in order to identify the committee or the organisation as being sufficiently representative.

If we are asking young people to play this crucial rôle, to act as a link between the more mature elements in the community, who supply the resources, and the youth assembly which would be articulating the needs of the young people and trying to bring the appropriate pressures to bear, and if we are to make that link meaningful, we ought to talk in terms of more substantial numbers than merely one representative. I want to get away from the suggestion that representation would be at its best if there were one solitary individual who stands out separately from the rest of the community. While I would not wish to suggest how large the representation should be, I would press for rather more substantial representation than is envisaged in the Bill.

I greatly enjoyed the remarks of the hon. Member for Harrogate (Mr. Banks) who reminded us that one great difficulty in discussing the matter of youth is that many of us would like to stay young beyond the statutory age in Bills such as this. As a member of the recently formed parliamentary football team, I am conscious of the fact that we are stronger in terms of our over-40s than of our younger members. Nevertheless, we recognise that although the concept of youth must be fairly elastic, there are clearly definable needs which are associated with that section of the population, and on that basis I have no worries about the basic definition in the Bill.

I am worried that this excellent Bill, based upon appropriate principles, may evoke among local authorities somewhat less than unbounded enthusiasm. This may be related less to the merits of the Bill than to the problems of resources and finance. It is clear that central Government and Parliament continually lay burdens and costly duties on local authorities, and equally clearly ratepayers, who are saddled with the burdens of increasing and inequitable rates, demand economy and restraint. Let us emphasise to local authorities that if more of their work were carried out on the basis of community participation and co-operation as envisaged in the Bill, the criticism of local authorities, even in these inflationary times, would be less strident and the community in general would be more sympathetic to the problems faced by local authorities.

I support the Bill.

3.3 p.m.

The hon. Member for Enfield, North (Mr. Davies) has made a useful, constructive and interesting contribution to the debate, but I hope he will excuse me if I do not follow him on many of the points he raised.

I speak with feeling on the Bill, and in doing so I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Bexleyheath (Mr. Townsend) very warmly on presenting it to the House. It is brave and courageous of him to introduce it, because this is the third time in about 18 months that such a Bill has been before the House. It was introduced first by Mr. Alan Haselhurst when he was a Member of the House. He did a wonderful amount of research on the subject. It was introduced in the last Parliament by my hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Sir E. Brown) but unfortunately, owing to the early election last October, it fell by the way. It now comes before the House for a third time, and I hope that it will be third time lucky.

I intervened when my hon. Friend the Member for Bexleyheath was introducing his Bill because I wanted to glean whether the Government would give the Bill a fair passage. The hon. Member for Enfield, North for one has indicated that he is wholeheartedly behind the principle. The Bill will benefit young people and so benefit the community. Therefore, I hope that the Minister will say that the Government will support the Bill and endeavour to see it through all its stages.

As I have said, I have strong feelings about the subject. For three years I was the chairman of a county youth service sub-committee and I am now the president of two active clubs in my constituency, the Macclesfield Boys' Club and the Poynton Centre. The latter particularly provides facilities for many hundreds of young people and it is at the centre of a large residential area in the north of the constituency. The leader of that club motivates vast numbers of people voluntarily to help the young.

I hope that the Bill will not place a vast financial burden on local authorities. Rather it should put upon them a firmly declared statutory obligation fully to use existing facilities and at the same time to use existing voluntary organisations and their facilities.

There is undoubtedly a gap between local authority facilities and the voluntary organisations. I want that gap to be closed, because we can provide much better services for the community, particularly for the young, by increasing co-operation between the voluntary organisations and the youth services.

I should like briefly to refer to one or two clauses of the Bill. I have already partly dealt with Clause 1, which deals with joint committees of local authorities and voluntary organisations. When I was chairman of the county youth service sub-committee in Warwickshire we tried to get together all those involved in the voluntary organisations to co-operate with them as the statutory authority to achieve a better use of their facilities. I wanted the sub-committee to act as an agency for young people, to channel into the voluntary organisations the money required to enable them to do their job to the full, not to set up clubs in competition with voluntary organisations.

Clause 3 is complicated. The hon. Member for Enfield, North mentioned one or two issues that will have to be sorted out later. However, the principle of a youth assembly is excellent. We want young people to participate in the community and to have an active say in the provision that is made for them. As adults, as people who have left their youth behind for many years, how can we know what young people want and how they can actively and constructively participate in the community?

The hon. Member for Enfield, North mentioned the provision of housing for homeless young people. I do not believe that this means expensive hostels, although I hope that eventually some will be built. I believe that it means the use of the homes of people prepared to provide a room for a young person who is perhaps temporarily estranged from his parents or guardians so as to keep that young person off the streets and so not involved with undesirable elements, until such time as the social services can put him back on the straight and narrow.

Clause 6 deals with service to the community by young people. A wealth of talent in the community is waiting to be tapped. Young people want to serve. They want to be positive. Too often, however, local authorities and others in positions of responsibility are not prepared to motivate young people and give them the opportunity they seek, an opportunity that they would use positively.

Finally I want to mention Clause 10. I am delighted that the Bill is being applied to Scotland, because Scotland has problems with young people and it is only right that it should be included in the Bill.

The hon. Member for Bexleyheath said he regretted that Northern Ireland was not included in the Bill. Perhaps in the future, either by amending this measure or in a Bill that the Government may bring in, the young people in Northern Ireland can be included.

I warmly welcome the Bill. My hon. Friend has presented a reasoned case. Second Reading is not the occasion on which to go into minute detail on every clause. The committee stage will be the time for that. I hope that the Minister will be honestly and openly forthcoming. There is no harm in the Bill. Only good can come of it. I hope that the Minister will say that the Government will give it a fair passage. I congratulate my hon. Friend on his courage in presenting the Bill.

3.11 p.m.

We have already dealt with a Bill affecting the old and disabled. Perhaps it is appropriate that we should now turn to youth. I applaud the efforts of the hon. Member for Bexleyheath (Mr. Townsend) in introducing the Bill. I appreciate that he has given great thought to the matter and introduced a detailed Bill. Undoubtedly the problem of youth is most important. We must keep youth off the streets. The figures for juvenile crime are appalling. Anything that can be done to harness the ambition and the energy of youth to efforts of real importance is a worthy subject for debate and attempted solution.

I appreciate that the hon. Gentleman has tried to deal with co-operation between local authorities and voluntary bodies in a detailed way. Clause 2(2)(b) deals with
"the provision of facilities and equipment … for recreation, social and physical training and advisory services."
That is most important. In addition, we must remember that tremendous importance is often attached to literary debating societies and participation in them.

Previous speakers have referred to Clause 5 dealing with housing for homeless young people. This is a real problem. Parents are often concerned when their children grow up and desert them, so to speak, or choose other climes. A Bill of this kind is important in stressing the necessity for local authorities to deal with housing for homeless young persons.

I have one word of criticism. The hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) spoke about the Government allowing the Bill to have a Second Reading, going into Committee and tabling amendments. I appreciate the tremendous efforts that the hon. Member for Bexleyheath has made. The Bill contains clauses raising matters of much importance. As a Private Members' Bill it is, perhaps, an over-ambitious effort on his part. With a matter of this kind it is essential that we have the greatest possible detailed consultation with other bodies. The local authorities, voluntary bodies, and many other organisations interested in the question of youth must be consulted.

The Bill represents a major attempt to deal with a tremendous problem. I was glad to hear that the hon. Member for Bexleyheath had had consultations with the Minister. I did not know that, although I thought it probable. I was also glad to hear that the Government had told him that they had in mind a Bill on this subject. I appreciate the effort, interest and detailed manner with which the hon. Gentleman has dealt with it, and although I agree with a great deal in the Bill I cannot but put forward the criticism that the Government should deal with this matter by their own legislation. I hope that the Minister will not only commend the hon. Gentleman on what he has done but will say that the Government will introduce their own Bill. I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on introducing this measure because it has given us the opportunity to debate the subject of youth.

3.16 p.m.

I am glad to be one of the sponsors of the Bill and obviously I hope that it will make progress. It at least gives us the opportunity to debate the youth service, which is known in education circles as the "penny in the pound" service. I welcome the extension of the Bill, compared with its predecessor, to Scotland and Wales.

One of the problems of the youth service is that it suffers from receiving almost too much tacit approval. I recall the headmaster in the Peter Sellers sketch who, when asked about feeding arrangements, said "Class A boys get priority, Class B boys get food". Similarly, the youth service enjoys priority and precious little else. In many areas it is in danger of being stifled with indifference.

Over the years there have been numerous brightly-coloured reports on the subject. I have with me the two most recent reports, on which many people worked very hard but which seem to have been confined to the gathering dust in the Department. It is stated in the conclusions of the report entitled "Youth and Community Work in the 70s":
"How successful it"—
the report—
"will be depends upon the Government accepting it—and acting on it; schools and local authorities showing their enthusiasm through action; and voluntary bodies taking their own special initiatives. Above all, it will depend on the co-operation and goodwill of the 'consumers'; for if our recommendations are carried out in the spirit as well as in the letter, young people will play the most essential part of all. That is, they will be shaping their own Youth and Community Service".
That is what the Bill is about.

However, one of the major drawbacks of the Bill is that we can take the local authority horses to water but we cannot make them drink. What they do if we manage to get the Bill on to the statute book remains to be seen, but as a piece of enabling legislation the first step will have been taken.

I should like to refer to two particular aspects of the matter. First, in times of inflation it is important that tremendous emphasis should be placed on the multiple use of existing local authority facilities. In the report to which I have just referred there are set out about 10 or 12 reasons why such co-operation does not take place, ranging from difficulties in area caretaker provision to wrongly-shaped furniture. Reasons of that sort are always trotted out when facilities which have cost the taxpayer large sums of money stand idle throughout the holidays while young people in the locality are denied their use.

The second point to which I want to draw attention is the tremendous need for the youth service to function adequately in the inner city areas, the urban stress areas. In particular I have in mind schemes that are being used very successfully in the United States whereby young people who have dropped out of school are being tracked down and encouraged to take up their studies again and return to an environment which they would prefer. Because of the constraints of time, I mention this one aspect to the exclusion of all others.

Too much of the youth service is, through no fault of its own, still locked into the ethos of the 1940s. There is still concentration on provision of the type of facility needed at that time, which is not necessarily totally relevant to the requirements today.

We are looking at a service which enjoys priority but which does not enjoy the requisite financial support, a service which is understaffed. We are short of full-time and voluntary workers throughout the country. I hope that the debate will have done its bit to draw attention to the great rôle of the service and the part it still has to play. I am pleased to support the Bill.

3.22 p.m.

I welcome this rare opportunity to debate a Bill specifically concerned with young people. This is the third such occasion in 18 months. The first time the matter was debated. I was not a Member. The second time, I listened to the echoes of debates that I heard in another place, with speakers recollecting with nostalgia their younger days and the sterling work performed by some of the leading voluntary organisations. It is to be regretted that their main experience was service on committees rather than getting their feet dirty at the grass roots. The third time, I have heard different speeches from different Members. The present debate is not a repeat performance, largely because the original Bill has been amended.

Although no one will decry the contributions made by respected and experienced Members, it is worth noting that those who praise the young, including myself, are no longer young. Herein lies the first problem: the youth service has never been in the hands of the young. It has been in the hands of the grown-ups. I would be surprised if there was a youth committee where the average age was less than 40 years. Youth officers tend to be part of an ageing establishment, and in voluntary youth organisations only the typists are under 21 years of age. Occasionally a young person is produced like a rabbit out of a hat in order to make a youth committee look respectable.

If we are all committed to the concept of participation and involvement of the people concerned in the youth service, we will wish to see youth steering youth, with real responsibility in the hands of younger people—that is, if we want young people to turn into society rather than on to society.

I believe that the youth service has reached its lowest ebb since the passing of the Education Act 1944. That Act understandably concentrated on the need to provide facilities for young people after the war years. It concentrated on service for youth. In 1960 Lady Albemarle picked up the same theme when she saw the need to get the young off the streets as being of paramount importance, as if young people ruined the appearance of the streets. Having got some of them off the streets, then what?

The youth club of the 1960s was a place for physical exercise, ping-pong and judo. Later the proverbial coffee bar crept in. The fact that coffee was better and cheaper round the corner at Joe Lyons, and that dancing was far more successful at the Mecca, seemed to have escaped Lady Albemarle.

The year 1960 saw the beginning of a massive building programme for youth clubs. No self-respecting local authority could afford not to have a youth club. How often did we see the smiling mayor, surrounded by enthusiastic youngsters, opening some youth club? Sadly, many of those youth clubs are now closed through lack of demand. Lady Albemarle got it right in terms of the need to provide a service for young people but was hopelessly wrong in not considering provision for opportunities of service by youth.

In 1960 I had the advantage and privilege to work as a youth club leader in the youth service for five years in the East End of London. But already in the early 1960s young people were becoming bored. Their favourite occupation was beating up the youth club leader, who was regularly carried out on a stretcher saying "It is a service I am providing".

It was in this climate that I started an organisation known as Task Force. It offered a simple solution—namely, that of introducing young people to old. It gave young people a feeling of real responsibility and involvement on their own terms and it gave old people a reminder that they were not forgotten. You yourself, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will remember the organisation with which you were concerned in Cardiff, Voluntary Community Service, which performed a similar function. You will recollect the times when you were driven round in a minibus to see the work in which the young people were engaged. It gave young people an opportunity to serve and to run their own show. This was a matter which Lady Albemarle neglected—and indeed which successive Governments have neglected ever since. However, the evidence exists.

Task Force has a record of nearly 100,000 visits paid to lonely old people by nearly 15,000 volunteers each year. These ingredients could be mirrored throughout the country. Task Force is still run by the under-thirties. When one is over 30, one is too old for the job. The volunteers are in their teens and in their twenties and they work well with the maximum participation.

It is at community service and the need for a greater focus on it that this enlightened Bill aims. Community service means caring for others. It gives the opportunity to help those who are less fortunate than oneself. It gives young people the opportunity to take the initiative—and this can be done only if adults and local authorities gain the confidence of young people.

There are those who say that young people are irresponsible, apathetic and disinterested. They are right, because many young people have been starved of the opportunity to take on responsibility for themselves. The fact that the young will not have youth services on adults' terms and the fact that as a result the youth service is declining is a healthy sign. It means that young people want to control the service and run it themselves.

My belief is that the Bill could be the dawn of a new age in which young people are encouraged not only to run their own service but also to sit on the juvenile bench and to be allowed to judge their peers. Why should they not sit on boards of school governors and on public bodies to which the Government have the responsibility of appointing members? Today more than ever we need a new policy with a new vision providing new hope. This Bill could provide the backcloth and the machinery. It provides a new focus on the dialogue between those with an interest in youth and those who are young themselves. The Bill recognises the importance of community service and also of community education.

The phrase "community education" is bandied about by some who do not know what it means. I am happy to say that I am one of those who do. I would put the matter in this way. Instead of girls at certain comprehensive schools bathing plastic dolls in mothercare courses, they go out into the community to bath real children, or unwanted children or children in homes. They then feel that they are doing something of use rather than being involved in a mere exercise.

The Bill also embraces the important work of community development. The recognition of this fact in 1968 by the Government with the lauching of the Young Volunteer Force Foundation, of which I was privileged to be the first director, shows that the Government seven years ago recognised the importance of community development work by which people in the community would get together to form their own group, with the idea of finding their own solutions to problems.

Above all the Bill recognises the important rights of young people. We speak of equality of rights for women. However, there should be a Bill to promote the equality of rights for our young people. Young people are a special section of our society. We must ensure that we give them encouragement, support and opportunities at a critical point of their development. We do not need to see them as freaks. We should regard them as a section of society needing special sympathetic handling and care.

This Bill is an important milestone in the history of youth work in Britain. I hope that the Government will respond in equally encouraging terms.

3.31 p.m.

It is a great pleasure for me on my first appearance at the Dispatch Box to comment upon this Bill, especially as I claim a little credit for encouraging the Conservative Party to say in its manifesto that it would reintroduce such a Bill as a Government measure if it won the last election. I hope that the Minister will not kill the Bill but will encourage it to go forward and make such alterations as he may wish.

The debate so far has been very interesting, with sensible and good contributions. I wish there had been more speeches on this important issue. The hon. and learned Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Mr. Weitzman) called this an over-ambitious Bill, yet the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Mr. Freud), who has asked me to apologise for his absence, intended to say that the Bill was toothless. May I say to the former, that there have been wide consultations especially by Mr. Haselhurst, the former Member for Middleton and Prestwich. My own consultations with the local authorities have shown that they welcome the measure and do not believe that it will place undue obligations upon them. NACRO today issued an official statement welcoming the Bill. They especially like its treatment of the interplay of factors which, they believe, cause so many of the problems of delinquency and crime—the complex needs of employment, and for accommodation and welfare support which young people face.

Under the Bill local authorities will be obliged to review their present activities and examine their existing use of resources. The Bill will provide a new framework for a strategy, and is therefore open-ended. Within that framework the Minister can do what he wishes in the light of his own inquiries, but it does not deny him the means of realising his intentions. Most of the powers in the Bill already exist either in the Education Act 1944 or in the Local Government Act 1972. However, Sections 41 and 53 of the 1974 Act are very general.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Chertsey and Walton (Mr. Pattie) pointed out, this is a Cinderella service. We are in danger of "stifling it by indifference". It is important that we should combine the existing powers and establish a new focus—that is the purpose of the Bill—so that local authorities will not shove the youth service aside into a little box, or deny it resources, or the better use of existing resources, because they will have been forced to think about the matter. At a time of economic restraint, that is vitally important. We need a rethinking as to how we can use better what has already been established. The purpose of the Bill is to obtain a clear restatement of what already exists so that it is used. This is a modest measure and I see no reason why the Minister should ask for it to be withdrawn. He should let the Bill have its chance and amend it, as he sees fit, in Committee.

My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Steen) has had a lifetime's experience in this work, and we all pay tribute to what he has done. The hon. Member for Enfield, North (Mr. Davies), for his part, gave examples of the great value of young people in the community services, helping the elderly and so on. We all know of the many examples of the wider use of schools for clubs and youth work, as a result of which one even finds, because young people get a different view of the school, that truancy and vandalism in the area decline somewhat. But my hon. Friend the Member for Wavertree was the one who hit the nail on the head when he spoke of the need for a new approach and a new philosophy in this work, the theme to which I shall return in a few moments.

Although there is massive alienation today and much talk of the generation gap, we should realise that there has always been a generation gap, although it is probably greater now than at other times because there has been a great social revolution since the early 1950s, with a great burgeoning of technology and more materialistic attitudes. Young people now have a lot of money. It seems almost a fatal combination to be both bored and to have a lot of money. This probably applies especially among young people in the areas of stress in city centres, but it is to be found also in the suburbs and elsewhere where there has been a decline in the number and variety of things to do—a decline in the cinema and a deterioration in public transport so that young people cannot readily get into town and use the facilities there.

There has also been a lack of thought sometimes. For example, if a brewery tarts up one of its pubs, knocking out a couple of billiard tables in the back room, 30 or more young people suddenly find that they do not know what to do with their time, and they hang about the streets, damage buses, and so on.

The crime statistics clearly manifest the nature of the present problem. I do not overplay what the Bill could do. I do not suggest that it will reverse the terrible trend in crime. None the less, I take those figures as highlighting a major problem and emphasising the need to make a fresh attempt to rethink what we are doing in our youth service.

Figures recently produced show that between 1969 and 1973 there has been an increase in juvenile crime of almost 40 per cent., and in the year 1973–74 there was another 20 per cent. increase. These are appalling figures in themselves, but there are further startling statistics showing that in the London area, for example, 1,000 young persons under 10 passed through police hands in the last year.

In that connection, if the Bill reaches Committee, I suggest that we ought to reconsider the age limits. Young people are no longer babies. They will respond just as their older social peers and adults will do. There is a major problem to be tackled among the lower age group, and action is urgent.

The Minister may stress, as some of his hon. Friends have, the problem of cost. I have already pointed out that, according to my experience, the local authorities do not believe that the Bill would put an undue burden of cost upon them. In addition, we should bear in mind the preventive value of what could be done through the Bill. A place in borstal costs about £45 a week. Three-quarters of that, I understand, is for staffing. We know also from the Post Office that damage or destruction of post boxes and the like costs about £500,000 a year, and at the same time about £750,000 is spent on extra police for football crowds. There is a critical problem here, created, I believe, largely through the frustration of young people and the boredom which they face. Plainly, therefore, the youth service is not a peripheral issue. It is of central importance if we are ever to deal with these troublesome trends. In fact, the problem is urgent.

I return now to what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Wavertree. We must now get away from the Albemarle Report. Indeed, one could almost argue that Albemarle set us back because, as my hon. Friend said, its primary emphasis was on buildings. The answer does not lie in buildings in which young people seldom know what to do other than play ping-pong. Figures which the Minister gave me the other day showed that only 26 per cent. of young people attach themselves to a youth club. Moreover, the fall-off rate gets worse among the higher age groups. The youth clubs as we know them are not holding their young people. There is something wrong. There is no sense of identity among young people with the clubs.

The Bill does not call for massive expenditure in this field. It calls simply for a rethinking and for better and different use of the resources which we now have, so that local authorities will look, for example, at the use made of their parks and schools. They give their school buildings now, but they seldom give the use of the facilities and equipment in the schools.

We are attempting a rethinking of the service. The Bill, as the former Member for Middleton and Prestwich pointed out, would do so much for the morale of the service which is now getting into a depressed state not just because it gets a pittance in cash but because of a feeling of neglect, with all the reports that we have had, the major one being in 1970, and nothing being done. The result of the last report was merely the reorganisation of the training of youth officers. The immediate effect was a decline in the numbers coming forward. However, I am delighted to see from figures published yesterday that the number of places has risen from 160 to 225 a year.

The essential point is that we want a rethinking and a new flexibility in the youth service. We hope that the Bill will put pressure on local authorities to get to grips with this problem, not to shove it aside as not mattering and not, when under economic pressure, to make the discriminatory cuts in the service which I suspect some are about to do.

We also need to get a better standardisation. The powers are there, but there is a tremendous difference in the way in which authorities apply them. Some hardly bother at all. Some pressure is needed to make local authorities pull in this direction across the country.

There is no excuse for the Minister asking for the Bill to be withdrawn. The possibility of amendments arises. I have mentioned the possibility of doing something about age limits. Certain parts of the Bill could be clarified or tightened in Committee. It is possible to argue that young people would respond more to the problems of their own groups if there were some co-ordination on a group basis rather than on geographical areas.

There may be a need for youth officers with specialised training to deal with specific problems. I believe that school leavers have special needs. There are the special needs of the black community and of the handicapped as well. All these matters can be dealt with in Committee.

I come back to my point about the serious crime figures at the young end of the age group with which we are concerned. It may be that there should be a strengthening of the permissive powers and responsibilities of local authorities for the under-fourteens. Let us consider that point in Committee, too.

I do not accept that the departmental inquiry that the Minister is proposing, about which he made a Press statement just before the Bill was due to come before the House, is anything other than an excuse for procrastination. We have had many inquiries. The Library has given me a list of over 20 inquiries on the youth service since 1960. That leaves out all recent regional inquiries or academic reports—

I will not give way because I promised that the Minister would have 15 minutes for his speech and I am in my last minute. That leaves out all the recent academic reports, such as that by Professor John Eggleston, which is most important. We have had enough inquiries. Some pulling together is needed from the four or five Departments of State concerned with youth, but the Bill does not prohibit that being done.

The Minister's statement is quite amazing. It states:
"The Government regards the youth service as of great importance"—
so why try to kill the Bill?
"… and wishes it to be maintained."
We do not want it to be expanded with lavish resources. We want a rethinking of the situation. The statement continues:
"While the country's present economic difficulties persist, however, practical developments will have to be limited."
No one would disagree with that. We do not believe that the Bill is contrary to that statement.

We are getting almost to the ludicrous at the end. As New Society commented on the Bill, we are moving from familiarity with the problems—we have had so many reports, it is almost embarrassing—to ridicule when it is proposed to consult young people through calling for an essay competition for the under 21s on "What youth means today". Certainly for those who respond, whatever they say is likely to be forgotten almost immediately. This is a sort of sop. We have enough information. There is no excuse for not taking hard decisions now and, particularly by this rather open-ended Bill, making an attempt to harden up various things in Committee, to help to create a new stimulus for thinking about these problems and getting an attempt to try new things by local authorities.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Chertsey and Walton said, we could possibly follow some American examples in New York and California, where it has been found that those most in need of youth community services are often the best able to work in those services. They understand: older social workers often do not. We thereby get a double benefit. They are being helped because they want to feel that they matter and have a voice in society, and in turn, they help younger people in the area.

The most important feature of the Bill is for youth assemblies. This sums up what I have said about the very important need today to make youth feel that it matters and has a voice and that it will be at the helm of what is done in the youth service, and to a considerable degree will be able to do things that it wants to do in giving service and dealing with the problems which can exist.

The Minister's predecessor in the Department concerned with youth affairs welcomed the Bill in principle and was prepared to let it have a Second Reading. A previous Conservative Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science also welcomed it in principle and said, way back on 1st February 1974:
"My Department is at present actively considering all these questions about the rôle and structure of the youth service, and in due course we shall move on to consultation."—[Official Report, 1st February 1974; Vol. 868, c. 780.]
He was referring to consultation with other Departments and everyone else involved. He said that it was hoped in time to establish a new form of consultative machinery. That was a whole year ago, and only now the Minister says in his Press statement:
"I am about to arrange for consultations."
We have had plenty of time. Years and years have passed. A year has passed since the original Bill came before the House. Twice it has passed already, so let us give it another Second Reading and let it take its chance if Committee. It has got through twice. It would be a tragedy if it did not get another Second Reading, as the House has already endorsed it. The Minister would be regarded with shame in the youth service if he did not show a positive attitude today.

3.48 p.m.

I congratulate the hon. Member for Bexleyheath (Mr. Townsend) on the way in which he presented his Bill. The whole House was impressed by the obvious sincerity with which he put forward his case. I have been personally impressed by the contributions of hon. Members on both sides of the House. I also congratulate the hon. Member for Ripon (Dr. Hampson) on his first appearance at the Dispatch Box. On this subject, it is my first appearance at the Box, so I have an element of fellow feeling with him. He acquitted himself well.

It may seem odd that one of the older members of the Government should have been asked to assume responsibility for youth matters. I hesitated in accepting it until I reflected that grandparents often get on with young people rather better than their parents. That is the choice in Parliament. Youth is not directly represented here. Perhaps it should be. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Steen) might feel that some methods ought to be evolved whereby there would be a direct representation of youth in the House, but as at present we are faced with the choice of a parental generation or the next one perhaps there is something to be said for those who are removed from the possibly aggressive relationship which the hon. Gentleman has most unfortunately experienced, and which can exist between youth and the generation immediately above it.

Having no children, I am equally without grandchildren, so I thought that I might as well adopt the lot, for on the whole I am inclined to prefer them to their parents, who seem to lack the charm and verve which I think characterised my own generation and which I find today in many young people. From that generalisation I exclude all those who have participated in the debate.

I welcome the Bill's recognition that young people have a right to a say in the provisions which we seek to make for them. As I announced in the House on 5th February, our intention is to enter into consultations with statutory and voluntary youth service interests, and with representatives of young people, about the present and future needs of young citizens and the rôle of the youth service in a changing society.

Invitations to a series of meetings are about to be issued. I had made that decision before I knew of the intention of the hon. Member for Bexleyheath to introduce the Bill. I thought it possible that an hon. Member might, being fortunate in the Ballot, introduce a Bill of this sort, but in any event it was my intention to have a series of consultations.

In all the previous statements, recommendations and examinations which have been made there has not been the sort of detailed down-to-earth involvement of the people at the grass roots. That is what has been missing. I did not want to get myself into the position of preempting the consultations and saying at the beginning of the consultations "I am sorry, we have already decided what we want to do. You can talk, but the House has already made up its mind". For that reason I am in the position, as I shall explain in greater detail, of not being able to say as much about the Bill as I would like until we are in a position to go ahead. I shall not be able to do so till there has been effective consultation.

The first document that we are issuing is a draft consultative document. What finally emerges may be very different, but that is the only way of achieving true consultation. I hope that the draft document will be going out next week. The various interests must have a little time to consider it. Perhaps a month or so will be appropriate. There will be a whole series of discussions. It is to be hoped that perhaps in April we shall have some indication of when we shall be able to make a statement of Government intention. For that reason I do not feel at the moment that we can do as the hon. Gentleman clearly wishes. I shall say why in greater detail at a later stage.

In spite of the very many merits of the Bill I take the view that what has been wrong throughout—and I am not making a party point—is that there has not been Government legislation. This area has been left to Private Members' Bills. This is an entirely unsuitable subject to be dealt with by Private Members' Bills for a wide variety of reasons.

I have rather a lot to say and I shall not be able to say as much as I would like if I give way.

We are telling all those whom we are inviting to come to talk to us that we are seeking an uninhibited exchange of views. There will be no preconceptions or preoccupations on our side. There will be no restrictions on the issues to be discussed. We are bound to say that practical developments which may call for expenditure beyond existing resources may have to wait till the country's financial position improves. There is no reason for the present restrictions on public expenditure to prevent us from planning for the future, and both the providers and the consumers can help to chart the course.

Society, of course, does not stand still. We are not so credulous as to believe that one round of talks in 1975 can cast the pattern for all time or even for the next decade. We hope that from the discussions there will emerge general agreement on the shape of some form of machinery to provide for a continuing exchange of views among both the statutory and the voluntary interests and, again, those very important contributors, the young people themselves. There is a number of ways in which this could be achieved and it is something that we all need to talk about fully.

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will excuse me if I do not give way. I have a number of things to say on this matter.

There was, as has been pointed out, a report issued in the 1970s on youth and community work. It was received by the right hon. Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher), who has just succeeded to the leadership of the Conservative Party. Her attitude to it was to say:
"The Government recognise the valuable work of the Youth Service Development Council during the 10-year development period initiated by the Albemarle Report, but … has decided that the Council should accordingly be wound up."—[Official Report. 29th March 1971; Vol. 814, c. 298.]
That was the creation of a lacuna. Of course, the right hon. Lady has created some extensive lacunae—not least in foreign affairs appointments, for example.

The discussions will also help us to determine whether legislation will be necessary to achieve any of the objectives identified and to decide the form that it should take. As has been mentioned, there is a commitment in our election manifesto on this subject and I bear that point in mind. We intend to ensure that the youth service has sufficient statutory backing to permit its sound future development on whatever lines may be agreed as a result of the discussions. For this reason we should be happy if the hon. Member would withdraw the Bill, which seems, on the whole, to preempt the decisions we shall be taking in the light of the talks we shall be embarking upon.

The Bill will not increase expenditure, but it will reorient attitudes. The Minister has probably not had the same experience that I have in the youth service and he does not realise that one ability of the service is to talk for ever. Since the Albemarle Report was passed into Government legislation 15 years ago the youth service has been talking. This Bill is the first constructive attempt to change the orientation from service for youth to service by youth. Any more talking will simply delay the whole process.

I doubt if there is anyone in the House who has quite the amount of knowledge that the hon. Member has about the youth service. I have had some experience of his Task Force organisation in my constituency, and I know that those young people are capable of talking very forcefully. The young people will have an opportunity in the discussions to express themselves.

However I do not think that the Bill is technically acceptable. It is not capable of fundamental alteration in Committee. I stress that we do not want people to feel that we are taking decisions, before they have had the chance to advise US.

The Bill introduced in the last Parliament by the hon. Member for Bath (Sir E. Brown) was given a Second Reading with all-party support and it fell because of the General Election. The Government welcomed it in principle, but expressed considerable reservations about some of its specific provisions which, they hoped, would be amended in Committee. This is not a party issue, and if my approach to the Bill is less than welcoming let me assure the House that it in no way indicates differences of principle. If there is to be legislation, it must be the right legislation. We cannot be sure on that score until we have canvassed the views of a wide range of youth interests. Perhaps the discussions on which we are embarking should have been undertaken before, but the job must be done now.

The House might like to know who will be invited to the forthcoming talks which will be chaired initially by a senior official of the Department, although I shall personally keep in close touch with progress and join in at a later stage. We shall be inviting the local authority associations; the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services and its Welsh counterpart; the British Youth Council; the National Youth Assembly; the National Association of Youth Service Officers; the Community and Youth Service Association; the Joint Negotiating Committee for Youth Leaders and Community Centre Wardens; and the Consultative Group on Youth and Community Work Training. We shall also be asking some of these bodies and the Industrial Society Youth Forum to nominate individual young people to come and speak for themselves.

We intend to see where this round of discussions takes us. If necessary, we shall spread the net still wider, and if issues arise which take us outside the purview of my right hon. Friend's responsibilities we shall consult with the relevant Government Departments and other organisations to see how liaison with other services which are available to meet the various needs of youth can be improved. That would be impossible under the Bill, the Long Title of which would rule this out. Therefore we may have to have legislation which would permit us to go beyond the range—

It being Four o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.

Debate to be resumed upon Friday 18th April.

Motor-Cycle Crash-Helmets (Religious Exemption) Bill

Order for Second Reading read.

Second Reading deferred till Friday next.

Health And Safety At Work (Amendment) Bill

Order for Second Reading read.

Second Reading deferred till Friday next.

Town And Country Planning (Amendment) Bill

Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Second Reading [14th February].

Debate further adjourned till Friday next.

Divorce Law Reform (Scotland) Bill

Order for Second Reading read.

Second Reading deferred till Friday next.

Mental Health (Amendment) Bill

Not amended ( in the standing committee), considered.

Motion made and Question, That the Bill be now read the Third time, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 56 (Third Reading), and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.

Abortion (Amendment) Bill


That the Order of the House of 7th February relating to the Membership of the Select Committee on the Abortion (Amendment) Bill be amended by leaving out the word 'Eleven' and inserting the word 'Fifteen' instead thereof.—[Mr. Walter Harrison.]