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Ecc: Forty-Eight Report—Youth Unemployment

Volume 387: debated on Tuesday 29 November 1977

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7.43 p.m.

—rose to move, That this House takes note of the report of the European Communities Committee on Youth Unemployment (R/2473/76 and R/2516/76) (Forty-eighth Report of last Session (HL 261)). The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name. This report, as your Lordships will be aware, deals with the Draft Resolution to improve the preparation of young people for working life and to facilitate their transition from education to working life. Your Lordships will recollect that last July we had the opportunity to discuss the subject of youth unemployment. Tonight, we are dealing with this subject again but in its European setting and also have the opportunity to bring up to date, after a lapse of four or five months, a matter which is of great importance and seriousness. The Committee very much welcomed the recommendations in the report. First and foremost, it welcomed the fact that youth unemployment is seen in its European context—and, indeed, it should be seen in a European context—and also welcomed the fact that the EEC was realising that youth unemployment is an issue of major social importance; as well they may, with no fewer than 2 million persons under the age of 25 unemployed in the Member countries. The unemployment among people under 25 represents more than one-third of the total unemployment in the EEC. I do not wish to burden your Lordships with many figures, but those figures must be presented to give some idea of the scale, dimension and seriousness of the problem which we are now confronting, and now confronting on a European level.

Also we were glad that the report makes clear—and subsequent publications have re-emphasised this—that what we are dealing with here is not just unemployment arising out of the current recession. For too long in this country, and in the Continental European countries, it was assumed by many people that youth unemployment, of course, was serious; but that when the recession disappeared, when the economy took off again, the problem of youth unemployment would be dealt with in the ordinary course of events. There are still such people. There were people who came to give evidence to the Select Committee who still believe this to be true; but, certainly, majority opinion is moving against this view and towards the view that we have here something far more deep-seated and serious, something far more connected with the structural change in industry and not merely with cyclical problems of unemployment.

That is the reason why this must be regarded as a matter that is deep-seated in its origin and requires radical measures in order to attempt to cure it. We have this recognition, perhaps a little belatedly, that this is, in fact, the position; and the EEC are saying in their recommendations that it is necessary and appropriate that steps should be taken at a European level, using the machinery which already exists, in order to attempt to combat this problem.

My Lords, your Committee did, however, feel that while this recognition was there, the scale of action proposed by the EEC was inadequate in relation to the size of the problem. This feeling of inadequacy was reinforced by the somewhat tepid reaction to the recommendations of the Commission that came from the Council of Ministers in the summer.

I am glad to say that, more recently, there appears to be a greater sign of urgency. Certainly, when the report came before them the European Parliament protested very strongly at the lack of urgency, the lack of scale, on which the problem was being approached; and in the most recent statement which has come from a meeting of the Council of Ministers, on 24th November, it seems as if forces working to take a stronger line on this matter are beginning to have some effect—although that is very recent indeed, and we will have to wait and see what comes from this greater sense of the importance of the subject. While we recognised that this problem has to be seen in its European context and while we expect to be able to get both knowledge and practical assistance by dealing with the matter at the European level, the fact remains that most of the work must be done by Member States understanding and working on their own problems. The last thing one wants to suggest is that because there is to be a European involvement, this exonerates us in any way from attempting to put our own house in order, to understand our own problems better and to take appropriate action.

My Lords, what is our own problem? Let us try to get some measure of it. We in this country—and it is all too typical that the figures are not kept in the same form in different countries and therefore direct comparisons are not as easy as they should be—in January this year had approximately a quarter of a million young persons under the age of 20 out of work. These represented over 18 per cent. of the total unemployed young persons in this country. That is a huge problem by any standards. I would say, in passing, that proportionately the situation is deteriorating faster for girls than it is for boys. I do not say whether that makes the matter better or worse, but it is worth noting.

I think that the thing which came out clearly and all the Members of your Lordships' Sub-Committee were very clear about at the end of our discussions was that the incidence of unemployment falls most heavily on the unskilled. The lower the level of skill, the greater the likelihood of unemployment. What is more important—and this links up with the recognition that it is a structural and not just cyclical problem—is that there is the likelihood that those unskilled people will continue to be unemployed and may never get permanent employment of any significant kind. That is the measure of the problem which we encounter.

Alongside this serious problem for the unskilled, for those people who have gained least from their education while at school and acquired least in the way of skills or knowledge which they can sell in the labour market, we have the extraordinary and very important fact that in parts of the country we are short of skilled people. There are differences of opinion about both the extent of the shortage of skills and the causes of it. This is something we should debate in its own right because it is of such great importance. I do not propose to go into the argument about why we have shortages of skills or even the extent of them; but it exists and it is ridiculous that it should exist.

A shortage of skilled manpower along with the inability to provide jobs is something that we cannot fail to recognise. One or two examples lead one to be confident that this is the case. First and foremost, there is the report of NEDO which makes it clear that in the engineering industry, for example, there are now far fewer young people going forward for apprenticeships. There is going to be difficulty in the engineering industry to replace the craftsmen who will leave in the ordinary course of events.

There is evidence from various parts of the country. On "The Money Programme" on television last week a survey reported from Sheffield which showed that 61 per cent. of Sheffield firms said they were short of labour. A considerable number anticipated that their shortage would continue and become more serious. It is reported in the Press—and many of us have had direct experience of this—that ICI in Wilton have not been able to get artificers for a long time. They are short of 100 highly skilled artificers on whom the development and satisfactory working of the Wilton plant depends. At Hartlepool GEC are short of toolmakers, and this has been the situation for a long time. I could go on giving examples.

It may be said that these are isolated incidents. There are far too many of them, and far too many voices are saying that there is shortage of skilled personnel to be complacent about this extraordinary failure to find the labour needed while at the same time we have so many unskilled and untrained people, and so many people unable to obtain employment. So what in this country—and I am not considering what help we can gain from the EEC—should we be doing about the situation? We all welcome the initiatives that are being taken by the Manpower Services Commission based on the Holland Report. It seems to me and most of my colleagues on the Committee that to a large extent these measures deal with symptoms of the trouble and do not get down to basic causes. When the problem is as serious as it is at present, one has to deal with symptoms. That is no excuse for not trying to tackle the root causes as well. While one greatly welcomes the Manpower Services Commission's initiatives, I urge that local opinion and knowledge should be harnessed in the operation of that scheme.

I raised this question in your Lordships' House a week or two ago. There is a strong feeling in this country that because so many people are deeply concerned about this problem, and have a great deal of local knowledge to give—and this is something which must be handled, in part at any rate, at local level—it is vital that local trade unionists, local employers, local educationalists and local careers advisers should come together, formulate schemes, get backing for them and be encouraged so to do.

We on the Committee felt that, good though these schemes were, something much more fundamental was needed. There is a serious lack of understanding—and this comes out from the ECC report—between the world of school and the world of work, and the link between the two is inadequate. We shall overcome the problem only when these two vital groups get together and have a much better understanding of what is required. One is not saying that it is the job of the schools to turn out people who can do good jobs in the labour market—that is not the primary purpose of schools. In this country we have gone far too far in comparison with our European colleagues in separating the idea of training from the idea of education. There are educational activities which are training, and there are training activities which are educational; otherwise there is the ridiculous situation that mathematics is a highly educational subject if one does not use it but it is vocational training if one does. That must be an absurd state of affairs.

Surely we can say that in the schools we need to develop something which can be called work education. In the report we have said that what we believe is necessary is that there should be, on the one hand, school-based experience of work and work-based continuation of education, and that these two things should be linked together That is the key of the recommendation which the Committee is presenting to your Lordships' House: school-based knowledge of work, work education as part of the education of the youngster, as is done in good sandwich courses at a later age in people's education.

Then, my Lords, you move to the question of continued education based on work. Long ago, in the 1944 Act—indeed before that, in the Fisher Act of 1918—the idea of continued training and education based on work through effective day release was put forward as an advance in the educational field. Here there is some difference in the Committee, and other Members of the Committee will be putting forward their point of view; but my belief is that we should take the plunge and say what we need now is for the 16s to 18s to move to half-time work and half-time education. Just think what this would do to mop up the unemployed youngsters; just think what this would do to provide youngsters with some skill—and by "skill" I do not just mean manual skill; I mean skill and knowledge which is marketable.

For example, we have an expanding tourist trade. How many of our youngsters in the tourist industry can begin to deal with foreigners in their own language. Yet if you go into a German hotel the boy who carries your bags or the girl who gives you your bill is able to speak in English. These are all matters that should be included in what could be taught in daytime release of this sort. It will be said that this costs money, and I am devoted to the idea of restraining inflation and not spending money unnecessarily. There is a discussion going on at the moment about what we should do with the profits from North Sea oil. Is it unreasonable to suggest that one of the options should be investment in people so that we can develop skills?

In Germany, every youngster who does not go on to full-time education gets daytime release to learn something which is marketable in the economy. This is the direction in which we ought to be looking. I profoundly believe that this is the only way out. Not only would we be teaching skills, but there are many problems confronting youngsters at the moment: hooliganism, and all the other subjects which are raised. Is not this in part because there is a lack of skill in living, in knowing how to handle leisure and how to use surplus energy?

Could not all this be picked up in a scheme of day-time release? One extremely disappointing point in the message which came through from the meeting in Europe on 24th November was that our representative had said that there could be no public funding for this kind of activity. My Lords, I do beg the Government to think again. Is this really the best that we can do? I beg to move.

Moved, That this House takes note of the report of the European Communities Committee on Youth Unemployment (R/2473/76 and R/2516/76) (Forty-eighth Report of last Session (HL 261)).— ( Baroness Seear.)

8 p.m.

My Lords, the problem this debate raises today has grown out of all proportion to the total of unemployment. At the start of her remarks, the noble Baroness quoted some statistics for young people under the age of 20. I should like to alter them slightly: in 1968 in the United Kingdom the number of young people under the age of 25—that is the number more normally taken in Europe—represented just under 24 per cent. of all those out of work. But last year that percentage had almost doubled, and for many those statistics represent misery which can become despair in places where regional unemployment is particularly severe.

The report of the Select Committee is particularly valuable because undoubtedly, as the noble Baroness has explained, this is a European problem. At the same time, let us face the fact that of the seven European countries which are listed in Table 2 of the report, the percentage of young people out of work in this country is bar far the highest. As the years have passed and the trend of youth unemployment inexorably has risen, gradually the truth has become clearer that although unemployment responds to boom and to recession, generally it and in particular youth unemployment, have become structural problems, alleviated but not cured by cycles of trade.

At this hour, I should like to confine myself to four particular areas in this country where I believe the EEC Resolution with which this report deals can be met. The first area is covered by the Holland Report. I think perhaps it is fair to claim that in the past the best medicine in a slump was always thought to be a strong dose of counter-cyclical expenditure, the special Government financing of additional jobs, usually through local authorities and in the construction industry. The concept of work experience and training as being more fundamental answers to youth unemployment was set in the context of the Bill of my noble friend Lord Carr of Hadley, the Employment and Training Act 1973. Then, of course, work and training schemes have been enormously stepped up by the Government, starting about two years ago.

Members of the Select Committee have criticised the haste with which these schemes have been developed; and the noble Baroness, quite rightly, made the simple point that they seem to try to deal more with the symptoms than with the causes of this problem. But I think there is no question that the Government's acceptance of the Holland Committee's proposals during the summer gave these schemes a much more coherent purpose in which both education and training can create opportunities for the young to get a job at the earliest possible moment. Certainly it puts the schemes on a more permanent basis. However, with approximately 400,000 young people without qualifications seeking jobs every year—at least that is what it is going to be for the foreseeable future—I feel most strongly that extra measures are needed in order to meet the EEC's proposals, and particularly in order to prevent the formation of an increasing pool of permanently unemployed young people.

In this context, the British Youth Council's evidence to the Select Committee include a recommendation for better coordination of schemes which are the responsibility of different agencies. I think it may not be readily apparent to many of the young how careers officers, local authorities, voluntary organisations or the agencies of the Manpower Services Commission, in their different ways, can offer help—although I must be honest and admit to your Lordships that under the Employment and Training Act the dual responsibility for unemployed teenagers, which is divided between careers offices and the Department of Employment, does not help any more in this respect. I am afraid that I am as guilty as anyone over this.

With respect to the British Youth Council, however, I would doubt whether it is necessary to create—which is what they wanted—a new national agency with new local forums or inter-work centres. I should have thought that the Manpower Services Commission, with wider representation on the youth employment committees and making absolutely certain that there is proper representation for educational interests on those committees, would be the right policy. However, where I so strongly agree with the Council is that if, as the Select Committee have recognised, this problem is structural as well as cyclical, the danger of long-term unemployment for young people is very real: and that is most true with regard to inner city areas.

The Secretary of State for the Environment, quite rightly, has declared the need to attract people back into the cities, but that movement is not going to be achieved unless there are some jobs available there. I would not deny that the development of community-based co-operatives, which was one option favoured by the British Youth Council, might play a useful part here; but, of course, any business, whether it is proprietorily or co-operatively owned, in the long term has got to succeed to exist. That leads me to conclude that inner cities are not really going to be revived unless there is confidence in the running of small businesses, which are so much easier either to establish or to expand and which generally, although not always, are more labour intensive.

May I also take this opportunity to reiterate a hope that I expressed before to the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, when he was replying to the previous debate: that the Government are considering with Community Industry, and indeed with any other voluntary organisation such as Task Force North, with which my noble friend Lord Sandford is associated, working in the same field, the desirability of enabling the organisers of voluntary training schemes to offer permanent jobs in order to enable young people on those training courses to continue in work after they have finished. I say that because Community Industry, Task Force North and other voluntary organisations are working specifically in areas of high unemployment. What I am asking the noble Lord for here is something that I have no doubt would need a bit more Government backing, but it would avoid the tragedy of raising hopes and providing work and encouragement only to have those hopes dashed upon the rocks of unemployment once the course is finished.

The second area in which we can respond and indeed are to sonic extent responding, to the EEC, is in the Education Service. I should like to express my gratitude to the Select Committee for gathering such extremely interesting evidence on this and giving the opportunity for certainly some of your Lordships with particular expertise in this area to speak this evening. In my view, the Prime Minister was absolutely right when in his Oxford speech, just over a year ago, he linked the responsibility of education to the requirements of the world of work. This is not a plea for early specialisation—I join with the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, in saying that—but it is surely crucial to their prospects for pupils to be aware of the opportunities which are open to them and to be able to see how they can grasp those opportunities.

To achieve this, the teaching profession needs a better understanding of job opportunities. It is no good complaining that teachers know very little of industry and commerce; of course they do not. But the situation can be improved by experience, starting during their initial training or, if that is impossible, during the induction period of teachers and certainly as an ingredient within in-service training. I gather that this is something which the Schools Council is looking at the present time. This is a problem which can also be overcome by goodwill which comes from better understanding between education and employment. I think that the CBI have taken two valuable initiatives in starting its "Introduction to Industry Scheme" for teachers and publishing Understanding British Industry; but there is still room for closer contacts locally between industry and commerce and the schools. One consequence of the Taylor Report on the managing and governing of schools, which was published recently, and which would contribute to this, would be for secondary schools to include representatives of employers and employees, as of right, upon their governing bodies.

Recently, I was fortunate to hear a talk given by Mr. McEwen, who was last year's President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. His subject was women in engineering, and the point which came over most strongly was the lack of information or encouragement for girls at school to consider engineering as a profession. But once a girl has decided to embark on this career, she is usually then found to be more determined and less likely to want to move than many young men. I was interested that this coincides precisely with a most arresting piece of evidence which was given to the Select Committee by Mr. Metcalfe, the Director of the Engineering Training Board, in which he admitted the reluctance of the engineering industry to recognise women as technicians and professional engineers. The Board decided to run its own training course for 75 girls, and it managed to receive any applications at all only when it advertised it on local radio. Then the Board was bombarded with inquiries, the 75 applicants appeared and the course is a very great success.

There is no point at all in throwing stones at anyone for that state of affairs, which was saved by some imaginative advertising. Better communications between schools and work will prevent that kind of situation recurring, and so will more practical opportunities for all pupils during their last year or two at school. Here I come nearer to paragraph 54 of the report, which the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, quoted, in which the Select Committee said that they would like to see an,
"immediate commitment to a policy of school-based preparation for work and work-based continuation of education for all young people".
I include in the plea for more practical opportunities for pupils at the end of their school careers, pupils of all abilities, though, of course, boys and girls who are going to leave school and go directly into a job will, in particular, have a far happier and better motivated conclusion to their school careers if they can relate what they are learning to some practical use.

I was very interested to discover in the Select Committee's proceedings the suggestion, which came from the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, that if the regulations would only allow it further education people could go into the schools to teach, particularly on the practical side. This could be a helpful contribution, as the noble Lord suggested. I thought that that was a very significant intervention in the Select Committee's proceedings, because the corollary of what the noble Lord suggested is that a combination of education and training is vital also after the age of 16, which is what the noble Baroness was putting so clearly to us. Otherwise, we shall perpetuate the pool of young people without qualifications and without real hope, whose only route at the moment is to go either into a job without having any skills, or into a scheme specially established to deal with the needs of the time. I discerned in the intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Alexander, a move towards his objective, which is very dear to his heart, of establishing tertiary colleges where education can lead naturally into education and training. The noble Lord chose a very appropriate opportunity to refer to that objective, and I am looking forward to hearing whether he returns to that theme this evening.

May I now very quickly come to the third area in which we can respond to the EEC. It is surely time that there was a mandatory training for careers officers. The average case-load of a careers officer these days is something in excess of 400, and I welcome the fact that the numbers in the service are being strengthened. Surely the training should receive professional recognition, which I know that a mandatory requirement would give. One point about which I know the careers service are feeling very strongly is the requirement, as I understand it, that school-leavers will still have to wait every year until September before being offered a place under the Holland programme. School-leavers without qualifications will certainly these days leave school in May, and they will have been seeking a job through the careers service for weeks, maybe for months, before they leave. The enforced waiting period will therefore be for them at least four months, and a good deal longer from the time a pupil starts to seek a job. I would ask the Government to take a rather more flexible approach to this, and perhaps be ready to rely rather more on the judgment of the careers service.

The final area in which we can respond to the EEC is one of direct Government responsibility. Yes, my Lords, I subscribe to the fact that this is a structural problem. Yet unless we are to abandon hope altogether, we must surely recognise that Government schemes will be palliatives unless, ultimately, some more jobs are available, and jobs can be offered only by firms which have confidence in the future. The Government have recognised the importance of smaller businesses, for the reason which I gave earlier. Yet I seriously suggest to your Lordships that what the Government appear to be giving with one hand, so far as small businesses are concerned, they are taking away with the other. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is inquiring into the problems of small businesses, yet, so far as we know, the Government ultimately intend to remove the fruits of enterprise and hard work of a man in a small business through a wealth tax, added to capital gains and capital transfer taxes. How can that create the confidence for new jobs to be created? The Government call incessantly for more investment, yet taxation levels, as Ministers know perfectly well, preclude the investment from which more employment might be gained.

I realise that we could argue interminably the rights and wrongs of Government policy towards small businesses. But what is incontestable is that in the period since February 1974 bankruptcies have more than doubled, taking with them the livelihood of thousands of people, many of them working in small firms. I seriously urge the Government, whenever they are considering new legislation, to ask themselves one simple question: How will this Bill affect employment opportunities? I wish they had asked that question when they were drafting the Employment Protection Act. No doubt that legislation had every good intention and much of it ought to stand. But any of your Lordships who happened to see the BBC programme "Panorama" last night on television will have heard the Association of Small Businesses declaring that 75 per cent. of its members will not increase their employment, because of the provisions of that Act.

I have ended by putting these points to the Government, because the effect of unemployment is calculable. We know the disastrous effect that it has had in the past upon the fabric of society, not only in this country but in Europe also. In terms of job opportunities, individual supervision and sheer friendliness, smaller firms offer attractive prospects to young people. These businesses can play a significant part in starting to dismantle the structure of youth unemployment, and preparing to take advantage of any expansion in the economy.

8.19 p.m.

My Lords, it would be presumptuous of me to endeavour to assess the relative importance of the various topics which have occupied your Lordships' attention today. I fully appreciate the importance of the medical consultation that we had. I would not depreciate the value of Parochial Registers and Records Measures, except to say that if our Anglican friends had taken the opportunity of joining the Methodists we might have done rather better than hitherto. But I do not yield one inch in the conviction that is mine, that the subject of this debate is of supreme importance and must take priority over all others if we regard unemployment as death in slow motion. And, indeed, there is substance in that quip.

Then, to the documentary evidence which has been put before your Lordships' House today of the number and increase in proportion of young unemployed in the total number of those out of work, I suggest that there can be added a number of other considerations which give emphasis to the contention that here is an insupportable situation of the gravest menace. If it be true that adolescence is the time when irreversible processes are at work in young people—and I think that could be argued and substantiated—then to watch, as some of us who are interested in these matters have to do, the deterioration in those who have nothing to occupy their minds and nothing to contribute—which is much more important than that which they would seek to gain—is of imperative importance. Therefore, I very much welcome the intention which is set forth by the Select Committee of raising important questions of policy or principle to which it considers the special attention of the House should be drawn. I shall endeavour to select three.

The Select Committee, to which we ought to be very grateful for its concision and precision, lays down the alternatives as between cyclical reasons for unemployment and more structural ones. They come down very heavily on the side of the structural conditions and reasons being the more operative and vital. I am persuaded that they are. In fact, I am very doubtful about cyclical conditions. We are getting near to Christmas. There is a Christmas hymn which we shall be singing: "It came upon the midnight clear", that contains the lines:
"The days are hastening on
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever-circling years
Comes round the age of gold.
That is bad theology and it is worse economics. There is no substance in the proposition that with the circling years any age of gold, if you think of it in terms of the Bank of England or any other consideration of that nature, is supportable. I do not believe that by cyclical evaluation of this problem we shall get anywhere near to a solution, even a temporary one.

That does not in any way detract from my confidence—the confidence which I believe this report suggests and substantiates—that there are particular and especial needs which can be met within a measurable time. I heartily agree with the various propositions which are advanced for the dovetailing of purposeful information not only at the desk but in the wider world from 16 to 18. This is of great value and it is no surprise, because it is within the cyclical context, that in many respects these particular problems are treated individually.

It is in the structural concept that I believe the truth really lies. It is that we are living in a society in which, whatever we seek to do by means of particular improvements or measures, we are moving out of the 19th century society which conjured up the idea of full employment, into a society—indeed we have already moved into it—in which, so far as we can see ahead, unless there are radical changes in its substance, the problems and evils of this particular malediction will continue.

It is in that regard that I would fly a kite and say that, for me, the irresistible conclusion of the matter is that whatever measures are taken on a voluntary basis we shall need, sooner or later, to marry a form of compulsory community service or, if you like, national service, to the already existing educational system so that there is a continuity that lasts from 16 to 18, and so that education which is begun in the classroom is continued in the wider world. I say "flying a kite" because there are manifest and innumerable problems which surround such a project. However, I refer those of your Lordships who are interested in this matter to the most excellent contribution which was made by the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, at the opening of the various sessions. Although it is not included, as I would say to my noble friend in this regard, Lady Seear, in any part of the report, yet her argument, which was not answered—that sooner or later there will have to be this kind of compulsory community service, or compulsory national service—is the only way out of a situation which cannot otherwise be provided for within the hit-or-miss characteristics of a capitalist society. I believe that to be so.

If there are various objections that have to be raised, then let me scotch one of them straight away. It was said in the various discussions of the committee that this would tread upon the toes of social workers. Noble Lords should give us a chance. We know very well how completely adequate many of these youngsters are when they are given opportunities for responsibility. I could take noble Lords to a rest centre, for which I am responsible, where between 150 and 200 unemployed people, many of them young, are cared for, although that is far too extravagent a word. With four people looking after them, what can one do, except at the most superficial level?

There is a world of opportunity, as was characterised by the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, when she mentioned Voluntary Service Overseas. Whatever may be the objections and the cost, I nail my colours to this particular mast: sooner or later—and the sooner the better—the prescribed lifetime of education must include compulsory external education for living in the world to complement that internal education which gives numeracy and some kind of literacy to those who enjoy it. That is one of the comments which, for me, emerges from a consideration of this document.

I was interested—perhaps it is a bee in my bonnet—that it was the noble Baroness, Lady Masham of Ilton, who asked about alcohol and got a very dusty answer. In fact, she got no answer at all. As I have said to noble Lords from time to time, and I hope that I may repeat it, I regard the beer can as one of the most dangerous elements in the present situation. Educationalists are beginning to say with increasing vehemence that, after lunch, the opportunities for educational progress for students are very much smaller than they are before lunch. It may be regarded as comparatively trivial, but may I ask noble Lords to accept my own experience as a social worker for a long time now that there is a real connection between the intake of alcohol and the unsuitability of many who otherwise might be prepared to find a job? Alcohol causes the deterioration of those who compensate for the lack of something to do by swilling beer.

I shall not delay the House except to make one more comment. I am particularly grateful for the Committee's recognition that there are at the moment two purposes to be discovered in the educational process. One is to prepare the student for the kind of job that he is likely to get. The other is to prepare the student for the fulfilment of those characteristics of mind and spirit of which he may be possessed and which are latent. I cannot see that the division between these two objectives will be closed until there is an entirely different aspect that can be given to the community as a whole.

One of the most disturbing elements of unemployment is alienation—the sense of not belonging anywhere. It is my experience that a great many of those who are unemployed, particularly those who are youthful and unemployed, do not belong anywhere. They have no sense of belonging to a community and of being able to contribute to it. Perhaps the most effective—to me, it was by far the most important—conclusion of this Committee is that until we can create the bridge that can unite or bring together the characteristic and heretofore educational processes in the realm of literacy and numeracy—until we can cross the bridge from that to the kind of community from which certain responses can be expected and for which those students can be themselves trained and educated—I do not believe we shall get very much further with the kind of proximate opportunities which are so carefully laid down in this report.

These are matters of consideration. They may not at the moment be matters of Governmental action but, since we have been invited to look at this report in the widest terms, I make no apology for committing myself to the proposition that only under some kind of Socialist community will we really marry the two objectives now so prominent in the educational system; we shall avoid by that process the kind of unemployment which is for any civilised country a shame, but an avoidable curse.

8.31 p.m.

My Lords, I should like to make a few observations regarding youth unemployment, having read the report of the Select Committee dealing with this problem. There appeared to be two main groups of unemployed in this area; first, the small number of chronic job changers, those who change their jobs more than once every six months; and, secondly, those looking for their first job. The problem, unfortunately, is that a number of those in the second group will join the first category.

There are many schemes in operation to try to secure the future for the young; one of these is the Job Creation Programme, a short-term measure which, while giving temporary employment and a service to the community, is very costly, £166 million. This does not provide the answer. I should like to think that part of the money would be better employed in increased training schemes. I am not saying, let me add, that the scheme does not have its benefits. I have spoken to someone within the Department of Employment who is involved in finding employment for school-leavers, and I found that there is a small percentage who are totally unequipped to face the outside world. Their literacy standard is so low that some can barely read or write. What chance do they have of making a worthwhile contribution to society?

During a recession it was found that firms are more likely to make redundant first the younger employees. The Committee found as follows:
"In the last decade a considerable amount of legislation has been introduced which has increased the cost of employing labour and which has given the employee much increased protection. This has caused the employers to be much more selective in their recruitment, or not to recruit at all, and by increasing rights of existing employees, has worsened the position of the young potential entrants."
My Lords, I watched "Panorama" last night with great interest, and the facts revealed were staggering. The noble Lord, Lord Belstead, raised a very important point regarding the Employment Protection Act. Many small firms say that they are deliberately reducing staff because of this Act. More and more firms, large and small, are going bankrupt and closing down. Over the last 10 years 2 million jobs have been lost, and the indication is that due to loss of orders, reduction in productivity, and closures, the situation will get worse. We are producing less now than during the three-day week.

I do not see that the problem will ever resolve itself, especially as today we are becoming more mechanised and less manpower is used. A contributory factor is the growth of population, although now I believe it is declining. Unless something is done about this matter we shall always be facing an unacceptable level of unemployment. Industry must now be given every support in making our products more desirable, in both price and quality, and until there is an end to the "them" versus "us" attitude between unions and managements we shall continue to have a stream of young people queueing for too few jobs. The fact is that without profits and a stable economy nobody wins, except our competitors.

Part of the solution must commence with education. I believe that inroads are being made in this direction. The CBI have been running a scheme since 1966. An organisation, UBI (Understanding British Industry), has been set up to try to bring an understanding of industry to the teachers and pupils. The relationship between a future employer and employee is vital. The education system must be geared to knowing what industry needs, and industry must keep the education authorities up to date on what is required.

Some local authorities have their own schemes, one of which involves teachers being released to work in various aspects of industry. Many teachers have previously been in other professions, which enables them to give the benefit of their experience to the students. The idea of a fairly comprehensive scheme giving the younger student, say at 14½ years of age, outside experience two or three times a term, so that he or she is able to acquire at least a basic idea of what is needed to be equipped on leaving school, has my support. I agree with my noble friend Lady Seear when she says that in most areas there is no shortage of demand for skilled workers. If the number of specialised teachers is increased, and encouragement is given for further education and training, this would, I feel, help the situation considerably.

Finally, my Lords, I should like to voice my support for, among others, the following measures recommended by the Committee; namely, vocational training and guidance to those who leave school with no educational qualifications; practical training and experience in work; reasonable leave of absence from work to undertake vocational training to enable the young to keep their jobs or find new jobs, and also sufficient financial allowances while on courses. I feel that with the right attitudes and endeavours we can help to cure the problem.

8.38 p.m.

My Lords, I want to begin my contribution by thanking the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, for introducing this debate, thanking her for the very efficient way in which she chairs the Committee, and to say what pleasure I get out of being a member of that Committee under her chairmanship. I agree with those who have said that this subject is one of the utmost importance. It is so because the social effects of unemployment are quite horrible, and in particular the social effects of youth unemployment are horrible. It demoralises and frustrates the young unemployed, it turns them towards vandalism, and, worst of all, it accentuates the inequities of society. When unemployment among young people stretches over a long period, with consequent insecurity, society itself is threatened; there is increasing juvenile delinquency and crime, and, as many of us know, even resort to drugs to escape from the anxiety and frustration. I have said this because I wanted to underline the importance of the issue before us.

The question as to whether youth unemployment is cyclical or structural is one which is discussed at length. If we accept that it is structural then we must accept certain consequences, that certain things flow from that. I am at one with the noble Baroness about work experience at school and education afterwards while at work. My own view is that we should regard the years from age 15 to 19 as a continuous process of education and training, with the earlier years being school-based and the later years being work-based, but as one continuous process. Of course, if we accept that there is structural unemployment, that will not really be enough. I think other things also follow, and one of them is that we must resolve that whatever work is available must go to the younger people; they must have some priority in getting that work.

I turn to two other matters. The first matter I do not consider to be too controversial. At present there is a discussion about harmonisation of the pensionable entitlement age of men and women. If we accept that there is structural unemployment affecting young people, we must resolve that harmonisation should be at a lower age level. The other matter is probably more controversial. It seems to me that, if we accept that there is structural unemployment, then we must accept the principle of work sharing and, therefore, shorter hours. We cannot do that overnight, but it is in that type of context that the EEC, taking on board the whole question of unemployment within its area, can really play a major part. In other words, there should be a resolve that the working week will be gradually shortened and there should be an attempt to harmonise that with the United States and Japan. We would have to do that otherwise we would be increasing our costs in the EEC. Therefore, there will be a need for some harmonisation. If we accept that, then that sort of approach is absolutely essential.

I wish to spend the remainder of the time that I have allotted myself dealing with one specific aspect of youth unemployment; namely, youth unemployment as it affects ethnic minorities. I shall restrict myself to talking about the West Indians. There are plenty of statistics on this matter. The 1971 Census, for example, showed that West Indian unemployment among young folk was twice the national average. However, a survey carried out subsequently between 1974 and 1975 showed that it had doubled. A survey carried out between 1975 and 1976 showed that male unemployment among young blacks had increased by 110 per cent. but as regards black girls by 275 per cent. That is a massive increase. Moreover, it has been shown that even in periods of fair economic buoyancy the West Indian young people are at a disadvantage even when there is plenty of work. Carefully executed surveys by the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys between 1971 and 1974 showed that the average number of fruitless visits to careers offices was three times as great for West Indians as for whites. It also showed that the average time taken to find a first job was twice the length for West Indians and that West Indians were more frequently unemployed than whites. Moreover, those who have worked in the field have pointed out that the actual rates of unemployment are much higher than reflected in the official figures, because a disproportionately high number of young West Indians do not register as unemployed. A number of studies have suggested that at any one time the official figures underestimate the true rate of unemployment among young black people by as much as 50 per cent. If that is true, it is an extremely worrying situation.

Of course, there are many reasons for this situation. In some instances the reason could be newness, but as most of these young people have, in fact, grown up here newness is not as big an issue as is often claimed. Another reason is the fact that they live in the inner cities. I do not intend this evening to bore your Lordships with the problems of unemployment in the inner cities. I have done so on more than one occasion and your Lordships already know my views on that subject. However, it must be borne in mind.

There is no question that another reason is the effect of discrimination. I do not want your Lordships or anyone else to overplay the question of discrimination and neither do I want your Lordships to underplay it. For example, during a discussion between the Community Relations Commission, the Manpower Services Commission and the Training Services Agency, the Training Services Agency said that it had monitored the performance of West Indians on its training courses during the last half of 1974 and had found that generally the rejection rate of West Indians applying for courses was higher than that of other applicants. The drop-out rate once they were on the courses was lower. The completion rates were higher than those of the host population, but the placing rate on completion of the courses was lower. I am referring to the minutes of a discussion.

One of the reasons I do not want to overplay discrimination is that the TSA went on to say that it went further into the question of the rejections. It investigated why there had been a higher rejection rate among West Indians who applied for courses. It found that language deficiencies played a large part. Therefore, while pointing out that discrimination is a major factor, we ought also to look at the question of educational disadvantage.

I do not know how many of your Lordships read the report of the Select Committee on Race Relations after it had visited the West Indies. I think that many of your Lordships who did so should be ashamed because the Committee pointed out that in Barbados and in St. Lucia it was told that, when kids went back to those countries from here, they have to be put in lower classes because they cannot compete with kids of their own age in the Caribbean.

Barbados boasts of its bold history, its education system and so on. The fact that children from this well-developed country have to go to a lower class when they go to St. Lucia, which is a poor island, is something about which we should be worried. Although the Committee did not mention Trinidad, I can assure noble Lords that what was said about Barbados and St. Lucia also holds good for Trinidad. Therefore, this is one matter that needs to be examined. In fact, the Select Committee recommended that there should be an investigation into the reasons why West Indian children are under-fulfilled and I believe that the Department of Education and Science has undertaken to carry out such an investigation. Therefore, we shall have to wait and see what turns up.

However, this raises two matters, one of which is the whole question of what I call the "second chance". If these youths are disadvantaged in terms of their original education—in terms of attainment—there must be facilities to enable them to try again. The second chance must be available both in terms of education and training if my earlier remarks are to make any sense, because what I said earlier would have to be translated into a later age group with the same sort of period of education followed by training. That is one contribution I want to make.

We should say to the Manpower Services Commission and its agencies that they ought vigorously to promote equal opportunity policies in order to assist racial minority groups in training and in receiving the appropriate training. In fact, the Race Relations Act, which we debated and passed, allows for that. It permits positive action in order to bring members of minority racial groups up to the starting line and thus enables them to compete equally with the majority of the population. Therefore, I think that the Manpower Services Commission should have its attention drawn to this particular fact and be invited to do something along those lines. It should be encouraged to monitor, because it is only by monitoring that we know whether or not the policies are succeeding.

I should also like to welcome the proposal for detached employment officers, because just as the detached workers enable us to get at those whom the youth services are unable to reach, so it is my view that the detached employment officers will help us to get at some of the unemployed who need our attention most but who are unable to do very much about it. I have spoken for much longer than I intended. In view of what I said at the beginning of my remarks I should like to add a few words about minority ethnic groups because the same problem about the consequences of unemployment holds good there. In the case of minority ethnic groups the problem of racial divisions is exacerbated; a sense of alienation increases, to which my noble friend Lord Soper referred, and there is consequent rebellion. Therefore, it can do nothing but harm to the creation of a cohesive society.

The question of youth unemployment can be tackled on an EEC level. We should encourage the Community to take it on hoard. It will obviously be necessary to increase the resources of the Social Fund so that more money is available for the sort of projects we are talking about, but it should be done, it can be done, and I hope our Government will play a major role in ensuring that it is done.

8.55 p.m.

My Lords, I should like to join with others in congratulating the Select Committee on its work and my noble friend Lady Seear for the way in which she has introduced the debate tonight. We are particularly indebted to them for the depth to which they have gone in taking evidence and in trying to unravel the tangled threads of this complex problem. Speaking as one who before now has held forth to your Lordships on this subject—I fear all too superficially—may I say that I found the experience of reading their report a helpful and even a rather humbling one.

A major aspect of the overall problem is, as has been emphasised, the extent to which it is to be regarded as primarily structural or cyclical in nature. It is hardly surprising that on this point there proved to be differences of opinion, even within the Committee itself. In the end the Committee concluded that current unemployment among young people was both cyclical and structural in origin and that was why it urged the necessity for further research into the matter.

Really the only criticism of the report that I would venture to make is that the corollary of that conclusion seems to be that in calling in the long-term, as the Committee does, for a total reappraisal of the transition from school to work by means of closer integration between education and training, combined with an economic policy and full employment—objectives with which I very much agree—the report might have gone a step further and advocated a closer examination of the practical implications of uncomfortable possibilities, like the need, without increasing unit costs, for people to share what work proves to be available. To that extent I have some sympathy with the remarks just made by the noble Lord, Lord Pitt of Hampstead. Into this category must also fall the suggestion made by the noble Lord, Lord Soper, of some form of national community service. For myself, I boggle a little at the word "compulsory", but the point surely is that we need to do this basic preparatory thinking. For if we do not have this contingency plan, we may have to continue to endure year after year the ad hoc and piecemeal measures which the Select Committee now rightly deplores.

To facilitate this further research into the question of how far youth unemployment has to be seen in cyclical or structural terms, I would hope that any relevant statistics that the Department of Employment may still have which have not been publicly available should now be made available, for it seems to me that the more open the Government can be in ventilating this problem the more widely its implications are likely to be understood and the greater the chance of a consensus emerging as to how it should be tackled. By the same token I am sure that the Committee are right to say—and this was a point that my noble friend emphasised so strongly—that the problem is one of European dimensions and that it is right to challenge the Community to integrate its economic and social policies in seeking to solve it.

For the rest, and briefly, I think I can best contribute to the discussion from my current experience at the grass roots as chairman of one of the district manpower committees recently set up throughout the country to advise the Manpower Services Commission on local employment and training problems. I wish to highlight only one or two points having to do with education and training, to the first of which I notice that specific reference was made in this report by representatives of the British Youth Council. It relates to the difference between the uniform allowance of £18 a week which is now to be paid to young people taking part in the new programmes to be run by the Commission, and the negligible amounts of grant to be available to those wishing instead to continue their full-time education.

Certainly in the district covered by the manpower committee of which I am chairman—and I have just checked the figures with the local careers officer—as many as 38 per cent. of those who were eligible to leave school this summer returned in September to full-time education. That is a very high figure. I understand that it compares with a national average of something like 20 per cent. But I am assured that that figure of 38 per cent. would have been even higher had not school-leavers in the area already begun to question whether, altogether apart from the problem of unemployment, it was financially worthwhile to continue in education. In other words, there is in the area—and I make no special claim for it; it has none of the problems that some of the inner cities have to contend with—already evidence, for what it is worth, supporting the view of the British Youth Council that this discriminatory treatment is beginning to act as a disincentive to young people continuing their education, and that at a time when the alternative is to add still further to the number of young people who are unemployed. There seems to me to be something wrong there.

There is a second, allied point. Your Lordships will recall that in the Holland Committee Report it was recognised that without reimbursement local education authorities would not be able to make the additional provision on the scale required for the further education and training called for in giving these new opportunities to young people, and that therefore there was need for the Manpower Services Commission, education departments, and local authorities to discuss together how this cost was to be met. I can only say that so far I have not been able to get any clear-cut answer at all as to the outcome of those discussions. I wonder, therefore, whether the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, when he replies, would be kind enough to enlighten us as to the outcome of those discussions.

9.5 p.m.

My Lords, may I join with other noble Lords in thanking the noble Baroness for initiating this debate. May I also join with the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, and say what a privilege it is to sit on this Committee and to sit under the chairmanship of the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, who is such a very able and knowledgeable chairman. The noble Baroness has surveyed the situation from an EEC position, but she has also said that each country must look to itself and look to its own solutions, and at this stage I would therefore seek to be insular, domestic, and somewhat personal.

In June 1974, there were 5,400 school-leavers who were unemployed. 1974 was a good year. The trade cycle was at its peak and the school-leaving age had been raised. By July 1977, there were 253,000 unemployed school-leavers in the United Kingdom. Furthermore, according to the Manpower Services Commission in its report, Young People at Work, youth unemployment will remain high until, it is estimated, at least 1980. On the basis of the MSC's most optimistic projection, unemployment among the 16 to 19 year-olds will not fall below 100,000.

In the Forty-Eighth Report, there are five recommendations under the paragraph "Nature and scope of the proposals". I would wish to deal with 1 and 5. The first is:
"To improve the co-ordination between education and other services concerned with the different processes in the transition from education I to work."
This has been touched on by other noble Lords. Despite the passing of the Employment and Training Act 1973 which, among other provisions, made it mandatory on education committees to provide a career service within their departments, and despite the setting up of three bodies corporate which were to be called the Manpower Services Commission, the Employment Service Agency, and the Training Services Agency, one is bound, even four years later, to ask whether in fact the world of education in its widest sense really understands the needs of the workforce in all its aspects and whether the workforce is in close enough touch with education, making known its needs.

I have several questions for the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Coslany. Is there a flexible mechanism at both national and local level—at local level this is especially important—by which those in the sphere of work can let it be known to those in education what are the needs and opportunities of work so that young people can be informed of the opportunities and prospects and can choose their subjects accordingly? Should there not be a different structure at teacher training colleges to provide experience of the world of work? I know that for careers officers in education departments there are good facilities to gain experience and I understand that Leicestershire has a particularly good scheme. I should like, however, to see students at teacher training colleges spending a year, either before or after training, in some form of work outside teacher training college to widen their outlook and to give them not only a knowledge of the shop floor, the distributive trades, catering, office work and so on but also the feel of the workforce outside the school.

By the same token, may I ask the Minister whether he is satisfied that those working in the job centres understand the school world but also the world of work? Should not those working at the work centre also have worked outside the confines of their office? Is there a clear understanding as between job centres and career officers in education? There is no age demarcation; I take it that their work is complementary and not competitive, but it seems to me that the careers officers are in a position to give a more personalised service than perhaps those at the job centres, who are hardly pressed.

I come to what is said to be the 10 per cent. of young unemployed who have personal problems and difficulties and who either never get a job or, if they do, do not keep it. All young people, but particularly this group, need a personalised service. I am privileged to be the vice-chairman of the Council for Dr. Barnardos and am in touch, for instance, with both a day centre in Birmingham and a community home with education. In both those places, with careful selection on the part of the staff, with the help of employers and through various channels, these very difficult boys and girls with difficult backgrounds have been found jobs. However, it has been found that to keep them in those jobs they need outside support, outside help, which I am glad to say they are receiving. I am a trustee for a hostel of five boys who would otherwise, I am sure, be in borstal if they did not have a personalised service outside work supporting them in their difficulties.

For this 10 per cent., a personalised service is required, but of course it needs the co-operation of employers, and here I take up a point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, that it is very important at local level that there should be a body of people working together. In the area of the disabled, I well remember a committee being formed of employers and local authority volunteers to find jobs for the handicapped and I feel that such local committees working together would be able to help the young unemployed.

We in the adult world have encouraged an attitude that was set out in our Committee report by the noble Lord, Lord Wall, when he said that in his experience so many of our youth today wanted jobs and not careers. He said they were looking to earn money but not to have a career. Perhaps we have encouraged this attitude. Have we not given too much money, and in some cases too much responsibility, too soon, instead of providing vocational training, apprenticeships, and a steady, slow climb up the career ladder which may not give big money early, but, I contend, provides a stability and a sure developmental process? Have our differentials eroded the goal which developed skills provided? These days craftsmen in all areas of work do not earn according to their skills. Could this be the reason why in so many areas we have lost our standards of excellence?

Other noble Lords before me have dealt with the cyclical and structural patterns of employment related to the present economic situation which produces unemployment in this and other countries. As I said earlier, if we are to believe the forecast of the Manpower Commission, unemployment will not melt away. I suspect that within the next decade our work scene will need to change, enabling more people, including our youth, to be in employment, but each doing a shorter working week. Therefore, concurrent with developing the work skills and potentials of our youth, should we not, alongside this, cultivate in our homes, in our schools, and in the community, the capacity also for satisfying, creative and self-fulfilling leisure?

9.16 p.m.

My Lords, I am delighted that the House should have the opportunity to discuss what I regard as the most important problem before the nation, even though it should be debated at this late hour when only the quality of those present redeems the lack of quantity. I do not think that we should underrate the gravity of the problem. I reject the proposition that this is a problem essentially for the Department of Employment. I believe that it is fundamentally a problem for the Education Service. I share the view of the noble Lord, Lord Soper, which he expressed when he referred to the appalling effects of unemployment among young people. I recall in 1929 taking charge of what was then called a junior instruction centre in Greenock and seeing youngsters of 16 and 17 who had left school at 14, and had been unemployed in the intervening period and who had been utterly destroyed.

In looking at the overall problem of the employment situation, I believe that we delude ourselves if we think in terms of a transient problem which will be rectified in a few years when the recession will pass. This country could increase production by 50 per cent. without any increase in the labour force at all. This is the reality. Facing that problem, we have certain options. We could reduce the age of retirement which, in my judgment, against the background of increased longevity, seems to me utterly illogical and a nonsense. As the noble Baroness suggested, we could reduce the working week. I recall the experience of an American firm of car manufacturers whose workers were working four days a week. They approached the union and suggested coming down to three days a week without any loss of wages. The leaders of the union thought that this was a very reasonable proposition, but they returned a few days later and said that they were sorry, but their members had rejected it because they did not want another "honey do" day. This rather puzzled the management. They asked: "What do you mean by another honey do' day?" The answer was simple: "Honey, do this. Honey, do that." In other words, they did not want to be at home for two days instead of one.

I reject that proposition. There is only one solution to this problem, which is the later entry of young people into industry and commerce, but with higher standards of education and more effective training. This is the reality. I have been appalled. For seven years I have pressed the Department of Education and Science with the reality of this problem, with no success. What have we got at the moment? A Green Paper on the schools; the Oakes Committee on higher education. The only body that had even a passing interest in the problem of the 16 to 19 age group was the National Advisory Council for Education for Industry and Commerce, and that has been abolished by the Secretary of State as from 31st December. So, from then on there will be nobody who appears to be concerned with this problem.

What is the reality? In this country, roughly one-fifth of our young people receive full-time education or training between the ages of 16 and 19. In Sweden it is two-thirds, in Germany, three-quarters. If we look at the Swedish experience—and it is recorded in our report—with the two-thirds who continue full-time to 18, there is no unemployment problem at all, but, of those who leave at 16, three-quarters are unemployed. This is the reality.

My Lords, it is now nine years since I wrote a pamphlet trying to face this problem as it must emerge. I am pleading for a new Education Act, which I believe is the only solution to this problem. I have always been appalled at the dichotomy between education and training in this country. I think we must face the issue of primary education and secondary education to 16, and of providing full-time education and training—and, let us face it, I am not talking about raising the school-leaving age to 18; I am talking of education and training—to 18.

I do not mean releasing young people from industry for training, because that has failed. There were more people on day-release 10 years ago than there are now. I struggled for six years on the Central Training Council trying to convince employers of the virtue of releasing young people for training. They would release them only if the training was directly relevant to the job they were doing. But that, surely, is the very nature of the problem. Those for whom a repetitive job is inevitable—and there are many—require a higher standard of education to develop interests which they can exercise and pursue outside their working life, because that is the only basis on which they will get any satisfaction at all. This is the reality—but it was totally opposed.

I therefore want the release from education to industry for training. I seek the co-operation of industry and commerce in the training process. So I want a new Education Act which defines a new stage in education—the tertiary stage. There should be primary, secondary to 16 and tertiary stages from 16 to 19. I want to see the development of tertiary colleges, to which the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, has referred and which will not merely provide for the academic—and let us face the trends there which make it inevitable. Comprehensive education is developing, Consensus opinion rejects large schools. The possibility of maintaining sixth-forms in schools is neither educationally nor economically viable. This is why there is a movement towards sixth-form colleges; but sixth-form colleges are not the answer. The answer, surely, is tertiary colleges in which these young people will have the opportunity, not merely of going on to A-levels but of going on to the qualifications of the Business Education Council or the Technicians' Education Council, of pursuing craft courses or of having sandwich courses combining experience in the working situation with their continued education. This is what is needed.

Somebody will say, I have no doubt, that this will cost a lot of money. The Manpower Services Commission is spending £550 million this year on what it calls "job creation activities". The jobs, so far as I can see, have no long-term prospects but merely reduce the number who are technically registered as unemployed. I suggest that that £550 million would go a long way, and would achieve a much better purpose, if it were devoted to the further education and training of our young people.

Let us face certain simple facts: we have the lowest provision of any country in Europe, we have the highest proportion of unemployment in these age groups of any country in Europe. Those are facts. With the greatest respect to the noble Lord who will reply, I profoundly hope that the Department of Education will recognise that this is not merely a problem for the Department of Employment; it is a fundamental problem for the Department of Education.

9.25 p.m.

My Lords, I should like to congratulate the noble Baroness and her Committee for this excellent report; and to say, agreeing very much with the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, that I think it reflects a misjudgment of the importance of this subject, to say nothing of the excellence of the report, that the managers of our business here should have put it on at this time of night. It deserves a more convenient moment for debating it.

Like others, I particularly welcome the strong endorsement in the report that what we are dealing with is a fundamental and structural problem which will not go away when the recession begins to fade, as we hope it will; I prefer even more to stress my welcome for the terms in which the report recognises the effects of youth unemployment. I quote the words they use:
"The social and psychological burdens of unemployment and of thwarted job aspirations can lead to personal distress, strains in family relations, disorder in local communities, pressure on the social services and political unrest."
I think that all of that is true. What is also true is the point that the noble Lord, Lord Soper, made; namely, the intense feeling of distress that comes as a result of a young person, with all his ideals, finding no opportunity to contribute anything to any community to which he ought to feel that he can belong. That is, perhaps, the most serious thing of all. This then is not a matter for a piecemeal approach. We therefore welcome not only this report but the more comprehensive and far-sighted policies that are now set out by the Manpower Services Commission.

My Lords, at the moment we are faced with two Government spokesmen, one distinguished doctor and, a moment ago, we had a right reverend Prelate and an author. But I am bound to ask: Where have all the unions gone? I should really have thought that they should be here sharing the thoughts that the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, put before us about how, among our young school-leavers and the younger sections of our population, we are to secure fair shares of the work that is available. If that is not a matter for the unions, I really do not know what is. It might have been all right in the days of King John to leave these matters to the barons and the bishops, but now that we have trade unions that are claiming some responsibility in the running of our affairs, and now that we have actually in this House several of those who have served a distinguished lifetime as full-time officials of their unions, we really ought to be seeing more of them and we ought to be hearing them in a debate like this.

I can remember some 18 years ago when Lord Citrine was almost the only Member of this House with the background of a full-time official of the TUC. You found him around quite a bit, you saw him a lot, you heard him quite often. He made a signal contribution. It is surprising, now that we have several members of the unions here, that we see and hear so little of them, particularly in a debate of this character.

The last time that we were debating this subject was in July, and it was unfortunate that the report of Lady Seear's Committee was then nearly completed but not printed, so we could not deal with it. Events have moved on since then. Unfortunately, youth unemployment has moved on, too. The Nine Member nations of the EEC now have no fewer than 2 million unemployed people under 25 years of age. That is bad enough, but what is particularly shaming is that over one-third of that total are British—far more than our arithmetical share.

In view of those facts, the first question that I should like to ask the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Coslany, is: Have the Government now come to the firm view that what we are dealing with is not a topic which can be expected to go away and which will respond to piecemeal measures? Have they come to the view which many people share, that it is no good talking about the intolerable scale of unemployment as though it is something which we can only endure for a few more months, when, to be realistic, it is something we have to face for several years, particularly among the young. It would be helpful to have confirmation that this more realistic view is now being taken by Her Majesty's Government and is being faced squarely.

That brings me to the further report which we now have from the EEC, a report which has come to hand since our own Select Committee's report was published, R2480 dated 20th October, which has been debated by the Council of Ministers. Comment on it has been given by Mr. Grant in a Written Answer in another place. In reporting the discussions held in the Council of Ministers, he said that he suggested that the Council might consider declaring an intention that Member States would seek to ensure that every school-leaver had the opportunity of a job, of training or of further education. That is fairly closely in line with the attitude that the Manpower Services Commission express in paragraph 3.20 of their latest review which is headed: "Aims to help to secure for each worker the opportunities and services he or she needs in order to lead a satisfying working life". The implication of that is that the Government have at last come to terms with the long-term nature of this problem. It would be interesting to know whether the implications of what Mr. Grant was saying is that Her Majesty's Government intend to adopt that policy themselves. At the same time, it would be useful to hear the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Coslany, say whether Her Majesty's Government contemplate going as far as his noble friend Lord Soper in that direction.

At this time of night I will not say very much more except to welcome this latest document from the Manpower Services Commission, their Review and Plan, and to welcome particularly the special programmes which they announce for youth unemployment beginning at paragraph 4.59. This outlines the youth opportunities programme which was the basis of the Holland Report. At the end of that section, 4.64, the Manpower Services Commission say:
"There is a good chance that parts of the programme will attract aid from the European Social Fund."
By now I hope it will be possible for the noble Lord who is replying to this debate to confirm that in fact these programmes will attract the support of the Social Fund.

I join very much in welcoming these broader and more comprehensive policies that are coming both from our own Manpower Services Commission and also from the EEC; but I join still more my noble friend Lord Belstead and the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, in saying that the real challenge and the real test will be in seeing whether we can get satisfactory local co-ordination and application of these policies, especially in the inner cities. This is where they are most urgently needed.

9.36 p.m.

My Lords, I, too, very deeply regret that we are in the position of debating this vitally important subject at such a late hour. I must say that. It is unfortunate that this has happened and no doubt we shall try to get some redress at an even later stage. It places me, as spokesman, in some difficulty because I have endeavoured in my own brief reply to answer the Committee in some detail, as far as I possibly can.

Noble Lords have made some very important points; and I entirely agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, and other noble Lords that this is a subject of major social importance. I treat it as such, and certainly the Government and the Departments involved also do that. The noble Baroness, Lady Seear, raised the problem of the shortage of skilled people, which is a peculiar problem. I was in a position to give a more detailed answer, but at this stage I will say only that a detailed survey of this problem is going on. The situation that arises is peculiar because the shortage is more acute in some areas than in others. We are probing into the exact areas involved in order to get statistics and details and to see how the situation can be remedied. I know that some firms have offered special inducements to skilled workers to come to their areas, but their efforts have not always met with success.

The noble Baroness referred to day release, and I shall be dealing with that later in my speech. The noble Lord, Lord Belstead, talked about mandatory training for careers officers. That is a point I cannot answer on the spot but it is one that is worthy of investigation and I will report back to him in due course.

The noble Lord made another point which I must answer now, because it is essential to give a reply. He suggested that we might enable voluntary bodies to offer permanent jobs to difficult-to-place youngsters. I shall certainly look into this further, but the prime object of schemes for young people must be to prepare them for normal regular employment; and to provide permanent places for a few might restrict the opportunities for many. But, as I said, I will go into this in greater detail because I believe that it is vitally important.

The noble Lord, Lord Soper, and others mentioned a form of compulsory national community service. The Government do not agree with that: it would be both costly and difficult. It would have to be managed, and a number of people would have to be appointed to run it. It would be costly and the effect would be—I am certain of this—to undermine the benefits of the scheme by which we are endeavouring to give wider training opportunities to a larger number of people. The idea strikes one as good but, when one carefully considers it, one realises that it is not quite so attractive a proposition.

My noble friend Lord Pitt referred to the harmonisation of old age pensions. I shall not get involved in that tonight. He also raised the vital problem of ethnic minorities. We recognise this problem, but many of these people do not use the services available. We are providing a number of additional officers to concentrate on these people to try to bring them into the schemes that are available. I can assure my noble friend Lord Pitt that the Manpower Services Commission will study the report of his speech with great care. The noble Lord, Lord Alexander, and others, suggested that there should be a working combination of the Department of Education and Science and the Department of Employment, and I can assure them that that is already happening. I have had consultations with both Departments this week in e regard to this debate, and I am convinced that there is consultation and co-operation taking place in this vital matter. It was suggested that there should be a new Government Department, but that is a matter for the Prime Minister and not for me and I hesitate to get involved in that, anyway.

The noble Lord, Lord Rochester, made a number of points and I should like to give him brief answers. He referred to the discrepancy between education allowances for further education, discretionary grants and sums paid under the youth opportunities scheme. This is a difficult problem which is still under discussion between the Departments concerned and the Manpower Services Commission. But, these payments will not make the position worse because payments of up to £30 a week were made under the scheme that is being replaced. I will give the noble Lord a further detailed answer, but that is the position. As regards the Department of Employment statistics, with respect, the problem is not availability of statistics which, in general, are all published, but their interpretation. However, let me add very hastily that the interpretation of statistics depends upon the individual who does the interpreting and, like many other things, statistics can be interpreted in various ways.

The noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, put a number of very detailed questions and, at this late hour. I hope that she will forgive me if I do not answer them now. But she will definitely be supplied with answers to the points she put, so far as it is possible to do so. I think that I have answered the noble Lord, Lord Alexander, on his very important point about the problem being one for both the Department of Education and the Department of Employment. As I said, we accept that, and co-operation is going on. I also certainly agree with him about the gravity of the problem. But the noble Lord quoted a figure of £500 million as the expenditure under the job creation scheme. That is not correct. The total annual expenditure of all parts of the youth employment scheme will be about £160 million.

My Lords, I referred to the expenditure of the Manpower Services Commission.

I beg the noble Lord's pardon, but I misunderstood. I shall go into the matter further, and if the noble Lord is not right I shall correct him. But if he is right, then I shall give him the usual apology which one would expect. If noble Lords will permit me, I should get on with the detailed—

My Lords, before the noble Lord does that, I wonder whether he could answer some of the questions that I put. They were quite straightforward. The first was: will the Manpower Services youth opportunity programmes receive support from the Social Fund? I should have thought that that was a straightforward question. Secondly, do the Government intend to adopt the policy which Mr. Grant, the Under-Secretary, urged on his colleagues in the Council of Ministers? There was a third question, but I will leave that for tonight.

My Lords, the noble Lord put me off my stroke by asking, "Where have all the unions gone?"

My Lords, I know, and I made an immediate reply. I do not know where the unions are, but I myself am here so I hope that the noble Lord will forgive me. I cannot give him an immediate answer to the other point but I shall obtain it for him.

My Lords, I apologise for interrupting again, but those are answers which it would be useful to have in the Official Report.

My Lords, I shall endeavour to obtain this information for the noble Lord before I sit down. I agree with the noble Lord—and it can be fairly stated to be the Government's view—that unemployment is not a topic that will go away and that it is a problem we may have to face for several years. It is a fact of life which we must accept and prepare for accordingly.

I have praised the Committee on previous occasions for the work it has done, and I do not intend to do so again now because I have almost run out of praising phrases. However, in our last debate, the European dimension was set on one side. Now that we have the report in front of us we are able to deal with it. I note the criticism that the measures introduced by the Manpower Services Commission have so far, according to the committee, been ad hoc and piecemeal. It is true that these schemes have been introduced separately and have operated independently of one another. Nevertheless, I think we would all accept that they have had a considerable impact on youth unemployment and have provided thousands of opportunities for young people who would otherwise have been unemployed.

The new Youth Opportunities Programme which was announced in another place on 29th June is neither ad hoc nor piecemeal. It is a considered response to a detailed study of the employment problems of young people and of the existing measures introduced to help them. Noble Lords have already heard much of the detail of this programme: that it will provide each year some 230,000 opportunities for young people aged 16 to 19, that this approximately doubles the provision already being made, and that it will provide a range of work preparation and work experience schemes drawing together and building on the existing measures. We shall be doing all we can to ensure that the programme helps people with the least qualifications and the poorest employment prospects—and particularly helps girls in this category. The noble Baroness, Lady Seear, again has emphasised the position of girls who, so far, are worse off, generally speaking, than boys. Girls have tended to benefit less than boys from existing programmes, and I can assure the noble Baroness and others that we genuinely want to redress this balance.

One of the main features of the new programme is that its young participants will be able to move from one element to another as their needs dictate. It is a comprehensive programme with inbuilt flexibility so that it is adaptable to the differing needs of individuals. It will be complemented by the expansion of further education places, which has also been announced.

With the pledge given by the Government that no Easter or summer school-leaver who remains unemployed the following Easter should be without the offer of a place in the new programme, the scheme is an attempt to provide, in one way or another, for a whole generation of school-leavers who are unable to find work or training in the normal way. This is an ambitious aim, and it is the most comprehensive initiative on youth employment taken by any EEC country. I believe that we should be proud of the fact that we are setting an example to other countries.

There have been reports in the Press—mainly, I am afraid, misleading—of controversy over the arrangements being made by the Manpower Services Commission. The programme has aroused a great deal of interest and there has been a lot of public concern about the need to involve local communities in its organisation. Both the Government and the Manpower Services Commission have emphasised that the programme will be a community effort. It will rely heavily on local sponsorship for projects, training and work experience places and the co-operation at local level of a large number of interests.

The arrangements which the chairman of the MSC announced on 16th November provide for 28 Area Boards, which will include representatives of local authorities, employers and trade unions, the education and careers services, voluntary organisations and chairman of a District Manpower Committee. The careers service, which will have a key role in advising young people about the programme and on subsequent employment, will not be on the Boards, but will be represented at meetings and will be able to contribute directly to Board discussions. Each Area Board will have its own budget and will decide the details of the nature and balance of programme boards in its area, within guidelines that ensure that resources will be distributed in proportion to the number of unemployed young people in each LEA area.

The Commission and the Government are agreed on the need to develop consultative and planning arrangements through local groups below the level of Area Boards. This might be done by means of committees set up in each local authority area, and including interested groups and individuals. Other groups can also play a valuable part in the operation of the programme. What is important is that channels of communication will be open, and we rely on individuals, organisations, and all who want to contribute to the programme, to use them.

The Commission reached decisions on this structure only after considering all the views put forward in response to its discussion document The Next Steps, and after the fullest consultation with the Secretary of State for Employment and the Secretary of State for Education and Science. The proposed structure has the Government's firm approval and support, and we believe that it will make possible what we all wish to see, the maximum degree of local participation in the running of the programme. The Committee so rightly drew attention to the strains and stresses, disorder in communities, et cetera, pressure on social services, and political unrest, as a result of unemployment. I could not agree more, having as a teenager many years ago experienced that sort of situation without any scheme to assist. Now a change has been made, and thank Heavens!, at least we are on the right road. These social and psychological burdens strike at all the unemployed, but how much more damaging they are to the morale and self-confidence of young people who are still facing the difficulties of adolescence and who have never had a job.

The report of the Select Committee is right to emphasise the importance of the transition period—transition from childhood to adulthood and from school to work. Work is a crucial factor in that transition to adulthood; it plays a central role in developing the maturity of young people and in their achieving recognition of adult status. And so it is right that the primary aim of the new Youth Opportunities Programme is to improve their prospects of getting a satisfactory permanent job at the earliest possible moment. We do not want to divert young people away from jobs or training or further education. That is why places will go to those who have had at least six weeks' unemployment, and summer school-leavers will be considered for places from September.

At the moment there are over 68,500 school-leavers under 18 registered as unemployed. This is an encouraging drop from the 93,000 on the register in October. Nevertheless, it is a disturbingly high figure, and it is these youngsters who have most difficulty in finding jobs whom we most want to help and who are the main targets of the new programme. I note the Committee's recommendation that there should be further research into the nature of youth unemployment. I entirely endorse that view. I know that noble Lords will not expect us to moderate our efforts on behalf of the young unemployed while study goes forward on this complex technical issue. The nature of youth unemployment is a question which gives us much concern in this country, and which is also concerning other nations faced with similar problems. I can give noble Lords a definite assurance that research will continue.

I also note the Committee's view about the role of the European Social Fund in dealing with the problem of youth unemployment. The main function of the Social Fund is to assist schemes of training and resettlement for those already on the labour market. Therefore, as far as young people are concerned, a scheme of training or vocational preparation must, in order to qualify for assistance from the Fund, be for those young people who have finished their full-time education and are looking for work. Nevertheless, as is stated in paragraph 56 of your Committee's report, the EEC Commission, in administering the Fund, does give priority to schemes designed to help young people who have left school to make the transition to employment.

So far as the size of the Fund is concerned, the United Kingdom is in favour of increasing the budgetary allocations for those operations to assist young people which come within the present scope of the Fund. These allocations have hitherto been inadequate to meet more than a small proportion of the eligible applications. It is, however, true as is mentioned in paragraphs 58 and 59, that increased finance will not of itself solve I the problem of unemployment among young people. There is a separate budgetary heading for the pilot schemes designed to improve the preparation for work of those still in full-time education, mentioned in paragraph 61 of the report.

Turning now to education, I should like to consider the points made in the Committee's opinion as they relate to the document under consideration—the Resolution on the Preparation of Young People for Working Life—and some of the more general comments of the Select Committee. If I may, I shall take each of these aspects in turn. First, the Resolution. The Government are grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, and her Committee, for their clear and sympathetic examination of this Resolution. The publication of the Select Committee's Report is timely since it comes at a time when the Resolution is beginning to bear fruit. Good progress is being made in implementing the four-year Action Programme on the transition from school to work, and I am pleased to be able to announce that the EEC's Education Committee last week approved proposals for three pilot projects to be developed in the United Kingdom as part of the Community's programme of projects. These projects will be jointly financed by the Commission and by individual Member States. Two of the British projects will be based in England—in Sheffield and in Inner London—and the third will be in Scotland. All three will be concerned with the transition from school to work, with particular emphasis on the needs of the more vulnerable young people, especially those who are thought to be under achieving at school.

In addition, the first of a series of workshops for teachers and for the trainers of teachers was held in this country, in Harrogate, the week before last. We have also submitted to the Commission a list of applications for study visit grants, from a wide variety of people with an active interest in different aspects of the transition from school to work.

The position then is that steady progress is being made in implementing the modest but helpful proposals contained in the Resolution. I believe that the Committee approved of these developments, but they enjoin us to go further, and to advance more quickly in developing a European dimension in educational policy. What the Committee would like to see is the development of a "compact" which would set minimum requirements of school-based experience and preparation for work in the school curriculum; and which would also specify a minimum further education requirement for young people at work. The report says that the compact would be binding on all Member States, and I assume therefore that this would be a legally-binding instrument. However, the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, when she makes her final remarks will, perhaps, clarify the meaning of a "compact" for both the Department and myself.

We can only look at these proposals from our standpoint as one only of the members of the European Communities. But we need to consider them against the backcloth of the legal provisions of the Treaty of Rome, and of the legal provisions of our own education system. And this means facing up to the fact that there is no exclusive Community competence in education, and that in our decentralised system of education, the curriculum is not a matter for central direction. For these reasons, I believe that it would be untimely and unacceptable to many in education if a measure of Community competence were to be introduced over matters where central Government itself does not hold exclusive competence in this country. Here as elsewhere, we believe that the way forward must be through a process of natural evolution and gradual change, rather than by forcing the pace of development. It is after all rather less than two years ago since the Education Ministers of the Nine agreed a resolution which set a framework for educational co-operation in the Community. In these two years, much has happened—and not least the passing of a further resolution which is the subject of this debate today. However the development of educational co-operation is a process of organic growth. The education system of each of the Member States of the Nine is deeply rooted in its history and social system. It is part of our tradition and our history that the education system, and particularly the curriculum, should not be centrally directed.

On the whole, however, the recommendations of the Committee sensitively reflect the state of development of educational co-operation in the Community. Many of the developments that the Committee advocate have already been planned, or are already in operation. So, for example, the Committee have recommended that there should be interchange schemes as extensions of the programme of pilot projects. But it is already the intention of the Commission that the value of the pilot projects should be increased through a series of workshops and study visits. Somewhat similarly, the first Resolution of the Education Ministers, which was enacted on 9th February 1976, includes provisions which cover many of the areas mentioned in the Committee's opinion: the encouragement of pupil exchanges; the promotion of the teaching of modern languages; the promotion of short study visits and exchanges for teachers; and the promotion of linked courses in higher education. In all these spheres, much is already happening.

Like the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, I believe there is much of value that we can learn from one another and we should aim to remove the obstacles to the exchange of peoples and ideas. Relatively speaking, however, we in this country have a good solid record in educational exchanges. I will not go into further detail, but there is a considerable amount of good work going on that we must recognise and if we do not understand it I think we should find out for ourselves in educational visits and exchanges on a national basis, a local basis and in many other ways.

Of course, developments in the Community are no substitute for what the Committee have termed "national self-help". I should now like to review very briefly the main proposals made in this report which bear on the development of national policy. The Committee advocate an immediate commitment to a policy of school-based preparation for work. My Lords, the whole question of the school's rôle in preparing young people for working life has been one of the central themes of the recent public debate on education, and it is given prominence in the Green Paper, Education in Schools.

The Green Paper commends the establishment of closer links between schools and industry; the broadening of teachers' training and experience to give them more knowledge and understanding of the world of work outside education; and the involvement of employers and trades unions in the curriculum planning process. I can report that a Circular has been issued today to local education authorities asking them to report by June 1978 on various aspects of their curricula arrangements, including many which will reflect the attention being given by authorities and by schools to preparation for working life. It will be clear from this brief account of current action that the Government are entirely in sympathy with the principle that schools should provide a sound preparation for work. I am sure that, like the Government, the Committee recognise that the schools have a duty to prepare their pupils for all aspects of working life.

The Committee also referred to the possibility of initiatives by the Schools Council to improve the dissemination of knowledge about industry and employment opportunities. The Council does in fact have a project dealing with careers education and guidance aimed at giving pupils a realistic foretaste of the sort of experience and problems they will face in working, life. Also, in co-operation with the CBI and TUC, the Council has set up an industry project, to develop collaboration between schools and the world of work, and to explore ways of encouraging an understanding of modern society.

The Government also welcome the Committee's recognition that improved preparation for work at school needs to be balanced by greater opportunities for young people to continue their education at work. In our view, however, this can best be achieved by expansion of the present voluntary arrangements. This will involve the development of courses and curricula designed to appeal both to young people and to their employers, and a start has been made.

Traditionally, the means for young people to continue their education while at work has been day release, and it remains our long-term aim that day release should be available to all young people who want it. But it is a fact—and I am coming as quickly as I can to my conclusion—that day release has declined recently. There is no doubt that there has been a drop, and it may be due to the decreasing number of people entering into apprenticeships. Day release is invaluable, and its extension will have to be considered.

The Government announced in June this year the provision of resources to create an extra 10,000 places in non-advanced further education (9,000 in England and Wales) by 1980 to 1981. This is intended as an educational initiative to complement the Manpower Service Commission's new programme for young people that was mentioned earlier. In addition, the various schemes of work experience, which together make up a large part of the new programme, will have, whenever possible, a fully integrated element of further education. Colleges of further education will also be major providers of some types of work preparation courses.

More generally, I can assure the House that positive and effective efforts are being made to improve and increase co-operation between the training and further education services. I have already mentioned two examples. As another example I would mention the setting up last year of the Training and Further Education Consultative Group, a joint venture of the Department of Education and Science and the Manpower Services Commission, which will provide a valuable forum, hitherto lacking, for discussion at national level of matters of common interest to the training and further education services in England and Wales. The Department of Education and Science has also published in August this year an Administrative Memorandum drawing the attention of local education authorities to ways in which links between the training and further education services could be further strengthened, and inviting them to act accordingly.

I must apologise for the length of my reply, but frankly it is a subject of vital importance and I have endeavoured so far as I possibly can to answer detailed points made by the House. So far as the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, is concerned—and he asked for a definite answer on the Social Fund and the existing parts of the work experience programme—work experience on employers' premises already attracts support from the Social Fund. There has also been a successful pilot scheme application for a training workshop. The extent to which the programme as a whole will attract support remains to be settled. I think that is the main point he was concerned about.

All I can say is that we have had a very good debate. I am grateful to noble Lords and noble Baronesses who have taken part. I am sorry it has been at a late hour. I must apologise for the length of my reply in the sense that it has kept noble Lords up late, but I do not apologise for the length of the reply in its relation to the very vital subject we have been discussing tonight.

10.9 p.m.

My Lords, at this late hour you would wish me to deal as briefly as possible with the wind-up of the debate. I should like to thank noble Lords who have taken part in the debate, and for having so obviously prepared very carefully in order so do to. I should also like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, for the great trouble he has taken in dealing with the many points that have been raised. I know that we have thrown at him questions both of detail and of very large scope indeed.

While welcoming the noble Lord's reply, I am bound to say that I feel it still reflects some lack of realisation of the urgency and the scope that is needed in order to deal with all the ramifications of this problem. I am afraid my anxiety in this matter is summed up in the reply which I think I must at the end of this debate get on the record. It is the reply which came out over the signature of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Mr. John Grant, on only 21st November this year. He says:
"The United Kingdom is not able to satisfy the requirement"—
that is, the requirement of the EEC—
"that young people in employment should be given leave of absence or that they should be paid allowances from public funds".
So long as that attitude continues, we cannot believe that the matter is being taken sufficiently seriously, and we shall certainly return to the battle.

On Question, Motion agreed to.