It is a happy fact that during the past 50 or so years cuts in the working week have greatly increased the amount of leisure we have. It is unfortunate, however, that facilities for enjoying that leisure and, to some extent, the aptitude for enjoying it have not kept pace with the increase in the amount of leisure.
There are still quite a number of young people who leave school and who have no interests of their own. When they are not working they simply do not know what to do with themselves. Already, we have seen that that has caused a certain amount of difficulty and some explosive problems. There are a great many others who have many ideas of what they want to do with their spare time, but, unfortunately, find that the opportunities for enjoying their interests are not available. That leads to a sense of frustration and a feeling that they are not able to live the full life they want.
These sort of problems, which are already considerable, are certain to increase greatly over the next 15 years. If we properly control the introduction of automation and the extension of mechanisation there can be no doubt that the working week will be still further greatly reduced. If we are to reduce the problems that increased leisure provides—if we are to make possible the grasping of the opportunities which it will offer—we must begin to tackle these problems now.
A part of their solution is a great extension and development of the educational system, a subject which we discussed in the House last Friday, but which would be outside the scope of this debate. We are today concerned with the provision of facilities for enjoying all forms of leisure and I would like the Committee to look at the present position of these facilities—and I am referring to all forms of such facilities, not merely sport, open air, the arts, and so on.
In the arts, for example—and I will touch on this only briefly—there are a great many towns where it is not possible to hear good music because there is not an adequate concert hall. I know that the professional theatre is closing down in many areas, particularly in the provinces, but there are, there and elsewhere, many towns where amateur dramatic societies could thrive if they had a proper small theatre in which to work. As for our museums, most of them are little better than morgues—or doss houses, as I saw them described in the Report of the Society of Industrial Artists
The facilities for the youth clubs: many youth clubs are in tatty halls—disused warehouses, and the like. Good gracious me, in some of the Lancashire and Yorkshire towns there is virtually nothing for the children to do of an evening except stare at the reflection of the sodium lights on the wet asphalt. We are desperately short of youth hostels. Not all those we have are satisfactory, and others have to close down because we have not the funds to keep them in decent repair.
On the open-air side, there is a tremendous shortage of camping sites for the whole family, and there is the most inadequate access to the countryside generally. In individual sports, rather than team sports games, the most tremendous increase in popularity in the last 25 years has been in fishing, yet that is restricted, not only by the private ownership of the fishing rights but by the pollution of our rivers, which still continues. As for team sports, children in the countryside do not, as a rule, have a chance to get a cricket bat in their hands until they have passed the 11-plus, because the primary schools have only very small asphalt yards where the children can play ring-a-roses, but no serious games.
The playing fields situation for cricket, football and other organised games is desperately bad. The opportunities for getting decent coaching are very inadequate, not only in the countryside but right throughout the country. The cricket pitches that people have to play on are usually lent by farmers. They are in use by the cows for five days in the week. They are incredibly dangerous to bat on, as I well know, and the outfield is never cut; it is ridge and furrow, and if one goes for a high one in the out-field, one is as likely as not to trip over a courting couple.
Therefore, none of us can be satisfied with the facilities that our society, or individuals or groups, at present provides. To a very large extent this is not only true for the ordinary player, but for the expert. One of my constituents, Miss Lonsbrough, who eventually won gold medals at the Olympic Games for swimming, to do her training had always to travel from Huddersfield right across the country to Blackpool to find a bath up to Olympic standards. There was another north country athlete who could only get the training he wanted in London, and his coach had to pay his railway fare there and back. At the Melbourne Olympic Games, one member of our team was so poor that he was very hard put to it to find the cost of sending letters to his wife.
The present situation is, therefore, quite unsatisfactory, and there are immediate things that the Government ought to be doing about it. They should be providing a great deal more cash for such bodies as the National Playing Fields Association, which is nearly "broke"; for the Central Council of Physical Recreation—that admirable body which needs more money to expand its coaching facilities; for the Youth Hostels Association, which obviously needs more money.
I would hope, too, that for specific projects the Government would be prepared to make direct grants to local authorities. And while they are about it, they might make a direct grant to the Olympics team, because it really is not good enough that a team that is representing all of us should go out into the world in penury. Let us give them enough money to make sure that they can be properly trained and properly looked after when they arrive in Tokio.
These are the immediate things that the Government could do, but very much more is required. Of the facilities we have, quits a few are under-used. There are playing fields belonging to individual firms that are used perhaps once—or, at most, twice—during the week. School playing fields, as often as not, are not available in the evenings, and not at all in the holidays. We need a survey of existing facilities and of the steps that can be taken to make sure that they are properly used—fully used.
Sailing is another sport that has become enormously popular. There are plenty of reservoirs where people could learn to sail, but on which the water boards or local authorities prohibit any such activity. If we were to make a survey of our facilities we might find ways of making sure that they were fully used.
We want more than that. We want regional surveys of what the requirements or facilities for enjoying leisure are in each area—what they are now, and what they are likely to be when automation and mechanisation come in. I suggest that the best way to do this would be to spend some money, and ask the Central Council of Physical Recreation to expand its regional committees; get men who are not committed to any particular sport, but are generally interested in sport, and set them to work to find out what facilities we really will need in the future. On that basis we could see what needed to be done.
However, if these regional surveys were just made independently there would be a danger of duplication. A short time ago there was an acute shortage, I believe, not only of Olympic standard swimming baths but of swimming baths of any sort. So many people have now taken to building them that we are in some danger of getting perhaps too many. Further, if the regions were all independent there would be a scramble for facilities and there would be no means of making certain that the region whoso needs were greatest got them first.
I therefore suggest that there should be a central organisation—a sports and physical recreation development council—sitting, perhaps, in London, surveying the reports from the regions, "vetting" them, dovetailing them where possible, and then making recommendations on priorities—
The hon. Gentleman has referred to swimming-baths. He might be interested to know that in the case of the new Shell building, south of the river, it was, I understand, a town planning condition that the swimming-pool there should be open during the week, particularly to school children, when it was not being used by the staff—or when it was to those members of the public, but not to the public generally.
I am delighted to hear it. I hope that the example will be followed by other firms.
We should now be geting round to accepting the Wolfenden proposal for a national sports and recreation development council But that in itself would not be enough, because it could make recommendations on priorities but could not decide the priorities themselves. This is a desperately important job—
My hon. Friend spoke of the suggestion of the formation of a national sports and physical recreation development council. Do I take it that that would be on a United Kingdom basis?
It is. It will have to be. The national regional bodies—if they can be so described—for Scotland and Wales will have an immense job to do, and they are part of the United Kingdom. There would have to be a United Kingdom body on which the Principality and Scotland were represented.
I leave that question to be decided between my hon. Friend, the Minister and the Chair.
This body cannot do the job by itself, because public money is involved, and it is such an important job that the Government, or any future Government which may come to power in October, must take the matter seriously.
That means appointing a senior Cabinet Minister, preferably one without any other Departmental responsibilities, who will become a sort of Minister of Leisure. He will have the authority to stand up to the Chancellor, instead of having to wait on the doormat until the Chancellor sends for him. He will be able to argue the case for the importance of this subject inside the Cabinet, to decide the necessary priorities and to channel the funds where they are most needed.
I want to make one more proposal. At present, clubs, individual firms like Shell, local authorities and national organisations are doing a certain amount of building in respect of sports and recreational facilities, but they do not always know what are the latest developments. They do not always know the best designs for the halls that they are building, or the best materials to use in the equipment that they are putting up. At present, there is no place where they can obtain that information at all readily.
I therefore suggest that we ought to have a sports information centre, which could supply to anybody who asked for it—an individual, local authority, or club—the latest information, such as the correct form of lighting for an indoor tennis court, or the best playing surface to lay, other than grass. It might even supply the authorities at Lord's with information about the best methods of draining their ground—and the Ascot authorities, too, for that matter. There is a need for this sort of service; for the supply of expert and up-to-date information, available freely to everybody.
All the things that I have said about sport I would duplicate in respect of the arts. We already have the Arts Council. Its activities should be greatly extended and it should make the same sort of survey of the arts that I have proposed in respect of sports and physical recreation.
These are the mechanics or machinery. The purpose—at any rate from the point of view of my hon. Friends and myself—is not to straitjacket anybody or to tell him how he should use his leisure time. I have had enormous pleasure from playing organised games, and I would like to see others given the same sort of pleasure. But I have also seen dozens of people in absolute misery when playing organised games. I do not want to drive anybody who does not want such facilities. I do not want to forget the chap who merely wants to get out of it if he feels like it.
We must be concerned a little with the topliners in all sports. We take great pride in them, and have tremendous delight in watching them. I wish that somebody would take some interest in the comfort of the people who watch them. These topliners provide a tremendous stimulus to the rest of us to try to do better in our forms of sport. But the real concern that we feel is for the ordinary man or woman who just wants to enjoy his or her leisure time.
We do not believe that all this should be handed out on a plate—that everything should be free. The people who are taking part in any sort of leisure activity must expect to pay something for it. The trouble is that there are some things that individuals or groups cannot acquire for themselves. A thing like a playing field is a fairly obvious example. Similarly, people cannot acquire fishing rights.
I feel that there is something wrong with a society that looks only to those activities which pay their way. Society must help in all sorts of activities. It must help in its own interest, partly to prevent explosions but mainly because it exists only to ensure that its members should have the opportunity to live a full life, however each individual interprets that phrase.
There may be disagreement among hon. Members about the methods that I have suggested, but I do not believe that there will be the slightest disagreement about the immediate importance of the subject that we are discussing and the fact that its importance will increase very sharply in the near future. For the majority of people work is a bore—a drudgery—and it is quite clear to me that that drudgery will be cut down during the next 15 years if we organise things properly. If we improve education and greatly expand facilities, that increased leisure, instead of being a menace, can turn mere existence into life and give a new and much fuller meaning to the word "life".
On a point of order. For the guidance of the Committee, Mr. Grant-Ferris, do I gather that in the debate we shall have two speeches from each Front Bench? If that is the case, would it be possible hurriedly to reconsider this procedure, in view of the fact that we have only a three-hour debate and that many back benchers on both sides of the Committee are interested in the subject? Will it not circumscribe the debate tremendously if four Front Bench speeches occupy part of those three hours?
The hon. Member will realise that it is within the discretion of the Chair to call whom it thinks fit, and whoever catches its eye. I shall follow the usual procedure.
In view of what has been said I shall be as brief as possible. In any case, in a debate like this it would be inappropriate to intervene for more than a few minutes. I believe that the hon. Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu) said that this was his first appearance at the Dispatch Box. Although I am a newer Member of the House, I hope that he will feel able to accept my congratulations on the way in which he has introduced the debate. He brings a great deal of knowledge and a real love of sport to his discussion of the subject, and many of his suggestions are worthy of the most careful consideration.
The hon. Member suggested a new form of organisation and, indeed, a Cabinet Minister responsible for sport and leisure. One begins to lose count of the number of separate Ministers and Ministries that a Labour Government would introduce. The hon. Member also suggested that expenditure on the provision of facilities for enjoying leisure should be a great deal higher.
If those suggestions were promissory notes they would not be greeted with quite as much enthusiasm in the sporting world as they might have been, for two reasons. First, many of his hon. Friends who are concerned with other fields of public expenditure are suggesting a similar much higher expenditure in those fields and, secondly, the Shadow Chancellor—the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan)—has said that he does not believe that present Government programmes can be responsibly exceeded. Therefore, although the hon. Member's offences were mild by comparison with those of some of his colleagues, be may fairly be said to have been handing out cheques that his banker has already stopped.
I will not detain the House for more than a few minutes, but I hope that I may be allowed to say something about the Youth Service. I believe that in conjunction with the secondary schools and post-Newsom developments going on there, the service has a concrete rôle to perform in helping young people to a fuller use of their leisure. Since the publication of the Albemarle Report there has been a rejuvenation of the service and this has been matched in Scotland. The emphasis has been on the provision of new youth clubs and the building up of a cadre of full-time leaders. The building programme is running at about £4½ million a year now and was probably under £1 million before the Report of the Albemarle Committee.
Although the work was slow to start on the ground in the early years, arrears are being caught up now. By the spring of this year about 700 projects had been finished, including the new-look Withy-wood Centre, in Bristol, in which the Development Group of the Department played a big part. The rate of building has been stepped up, but I will readily concede that so has the rate of demand and even within the enlarged programme we are not able to meet all demands immediately. But my right hon. and learned Friend attaches importance to the job of rehousing the Youth Service, and we are making progress.
The position regarding full-time leaders is encouraging. The Albemarle Committee set a target of 1,300 youth leaders by 1966. By mid-summer last year we had nearly 1,000 and there are over 200 more in training at the National College at Leicester and at other recognised centres.
Youth clubs, both voluntary and local education authority clubs, will always depend in the main upon voluntary leaders and we have, therefore, stimulated courses for the training of part-time leaders. I am glad to say that now training is being provided in the areas of nearly all the authorities. I am quite sure that more people, particularly those with a skill or a hobby to share, would enjoy working and helping in this way in youth clubs.
A survey of achievement so far was carried out last year for the Youth Service Development Council. There was much that seemed encouraging. With new money, not only capital, but Government grants to voluntary bodies, experimental grants and local education authority expenditure, much is being achieved. Most areas and organisations reported increases in membership ranging from 5 per cent. to 150 per cent. The range of activities has widened. Young people are taking on a bigger share of responsibility for programmes and there appears to be what I regard as a remarkable growth of interest in schemes whereby young people give assistance to the elderly and others in need in the community.
One of the major needs now is to widen the appeal of the Youth Service and devise and extend new approaches to the less purposeful kind of youngsters. A lot more can still be done to meet the needs of the apathetic and those who are inclined to be anti-social.
Turning to sport, I was a little surprised that the hon. Gentleman was not more enthusiastic about the progress made during the course of this Parliament, and I say "surprised" because the Labour Party published a document before the last General Election entitled "Leisure for Living". The only figure given in the chapter devoted to sport was one of £5 million extra. Since 1960–61, capital expenditure on facilities for sport and physical recreation has risen from £5·6 million to an estimated figure of £22·5 million for this year, an increase of nearly £17 million.
The hon. Member says "Nonsense". He has before him figures dating from 1961–62 and not 1960–61, which was the year I was taking. He will find, if he looks at those figures, that there has been this remarkable increase during the time of this Parliament, an increase which is, in fact, bigger than the proposed total in the Wolfenden Committee's Report, which mentioned an extra £10 million. Admittedly, the Wolfenden Committee suggested that it should be spent in a different way, but it is a fact that there was this increase.
I shall be glad to do so, but I think that hon. Members would not thank me were I to take up about 10 minutes reading out all the figures in about 12 different categories which go to make up those headings. I shall be glad to write to the hon. Gentleman on the subject.
The Under-Secretary referred to a figure of £5 million as the only figure in this section of "Leisure for Living". Perhaps it would be a little fairer to point out that this was an initial sum of not less than £5 million, and make clear that this was for one year only.
I am glad to concede that. On the other hand, I suppose that many people would say that a pre-election document is subject to a little bias in another direction. If the suggestion was that it was to be an initial £5 million only I will gladly accept that, and point to the fact that for sport and physical recreation there has been an increase of nearly £17 million over the last four years.
This is a cardinal point. Will the hon. Gentleman confirm, in accordance with what is contained in the White Paper Cmnd. 2177—the only information before the Committee—that the figures he has given are right across the board, including educational institutions, local authorities, Royal Parks and also, and most important, that the largest part of the sum is for educational institutions which can be said to support leisure only tenuously?
I should make clear that I excluded provision for sport in educational institutions. Were I to include that figure the estimated total, as the hon. Gentleman will see, for 1964–65 is £35·1 million and not £22·5 million, which was the figure I quoted.
Since the new policy and organisation announced by my right hon. and learned Friend early last year grants to sports clubs and composite bodies like the C.C.P.R. and bodies for such purposes as coaching have been improved substantially. The hon. Member referred to the British Olympic Association, and I see that the Leader of the Opposition too, in a quiet moment away from politics—when he opened a sports stadium in his constituency last Saturday—was also worried that we might not be represented adequately at Tokio because of what he called the Government's niggardly contribution to the British Olympic Association. This contribution of £20,000 is, of course, the first contribution by any Government to the British Olympic Association and I am sure that the Association, which is an efficient body, will ensure, as it always has done before, that any British sportsman with a chance of doing well at the Olympics will get there.
I view with some distaste the idea of our international athletes being wholly or mainly financed by the Government. From what he said, I think that the hon. Member for Huddersfield, East would agree with that and, also, would prefer to follow the practice of most democratic countries in the Western world of relying largely on voluntary effort. The new system of co-ordination under Sir John Lang, with the support of the Departments interested, is working well. One result will be a joint circular to be issued shortly to local educational authorities and local authorities in England and Wales.
Among other things this will suggest ways in which authorities may combine to improve sports facilities and undertake larger projects in their districts. Were they to do that on a larger scale some of the objectives which the hon. Gentleman had in mind might be met. The L.C.C. has organised a very fine stadium at Crystal Palace, and there is not much doubt that we need more multi-sports centres which may be too big for a single authority elsewhere to develop.
With this greatly increased expenditure, possibilities for sport are multiplying. But, as the hon. Gentleman said, there is a great deal more to the use of leisure than sport. The Education Department is concerned with facilities for a great variety of leisure-time activities, such as museums and public libraries where the numbers attending have been greatly increased, and there seems to be a shift to more serious reading. A Bill was recently passed through the House to improve the service and to implement the recommendations of the Roberts Committee.
Then there are educational television, in which there has been a striking expansion recently, and evening institutes where no fewer than 1 million people, nearly three-quarters of whom are females and the majority over 21 years of age, pursue studies each year ranging from the serious to the purely recreational. There are 250,000 students enrolled for daytime non-vocational studies. There are the day colleges which are attended also by retired people and housewives who may be studying child psychology or merely attending keep fit classes or learning cookery.
I would not pretend that one gets a full picture of the way in which people spend their leisure time even from the wide-ranging activities of the Education Department, of which I have mentioned only one or two. The Central Office of Information last year collected some detailed information which showed remarkable changes over the past decade. It is not surprising, to me at least, to learn that the major hobby of the British is gardening and that there are about 19 million amateur gardeners. More striking is the fact that there are now at least 500,000 people taking part in amateur dramatics and that there has been a great increase in the number of amateur music societies.
In addition, the numbers who go sailing on Saturday afternoons have risen from 13,000 in the early 1950s to 250,000 today. The numbers going abroad for their holidays have increased from 1¾ million to 4½ million, Golfers, traditionally thought of as a very well-to-do section of society—at least, south of the Border—have now increased to about 1 million. In fact, it may be that more people now play golf than go to watch football, a game in which the hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Denis Howell) plays such a distinguished part.
All these developments are not primarily the result of shorter hours at work. If one considers the actual hours worked, one finds that the reductions over the past 20 or 30 years are not so striking as some people might think. I believe that there is a tendency to exaggerate the speed with which automation may necessarily reduce the hours which people work. These developments are not the result of Government planning. The Government have responded to demand and are doing so to an even greater extent where public provision is appropriate, but this enormous growth in the variety and richness of leisure time activity is due primarily to an increase in personal spending power.
It is due to the fact that wages and salaries have increased substantially more than prices. It is due to what hon. Members opposite, sometimes by misappropriating a title of Galbraith's, have sneeringly described as "the affluent society". It is due frankly to many of the products of what the Leader of the Opposition has described as the "candy floss economy".
If women are prepared to follow courses at technical colleges and on television, and to undertake correspondence courses, as they are in increasingly large numbers, it is, in part, because washing machines and other kitchen gadgets have left them with the time and energy to do so. If so many people are discovering new pleasures in foreign travel, sailing, climbing, visiting historic buildings or art galleries, it is because, in many cases, they have for the first time a motor bicycle or motor car—an acquisition which, in the words of the steering group to the Buchanan Committee, can be
an expander of the dimensions of life and an instrument of emancipation.
To meet leisure time needs it is right for the Government to increase expenditure in this direction. I have shown that spending has risen substantially—faster, perhaps, than the Labour Party thought possible in 1959—and in a number of directions faster than the Wolfenden Committee actually recommended. I
have referred to some of the outstanding needs and to ways in which we intend to meet them. I hope that in discussing further public support for these leisure time activities the House will remember that one of the greatest contributions a Government can make to a fuller and happier use of leisure is to leave people with a fair proportion of the nation's growing wealth to spend for themselves.
I want particularly to talk about the rôle of the arts as part of our provision for leisure, but perhaps, first, I might establish my credentials across the the board by reminding my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu) that I once played cricket under his captaincy, though on that occasion not with a great deal of success.
I should like also to establish my relationship with sporting activities by expressing my gratitude to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham. Small Health (Mr. Denis Howell). My hon. Friend has many virtues, amongst which is skill in acquiring and generosity in dispensing tickets for major sporting occasions. There was a time, a month or so ago, when he got one of his right hon. Friends into trouble, but in my case it enabled me, on Saturday last, to watch the cricket at Lord's and, in particular, to enjoy the experience of seeing the Conservative candidate for Cardiff, South-East "yorked", which is a preparation for what I am sure he will receive at the hands of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) in the autumn. I would only add that in the autumn it will give me greater pleasure than I experienced on Saturday.
This debate is in many ways related to the debate which was held on Friday, when we discussed automation. The fact that there have been many changes in our economic and social life has enabled people to have greater leisure than before. But I think that it is a commentary on the way in which we have approached this subject in the past that so often we refer to the "problem" of leisure instead of treating leisure as something which we ought to expect.
This is still a country which suffers from the Puritan tradition. We are rather shamefaced at having leisure and rather terrified of enjoying it. If I may declare my own position, I think that there is no virtue in work. There is no virtue in work for a large number of people who, unlike most of us in this House, do not get a great deal of pleasure out of the activities which are bound to fill a great many of their daylight hours. Leisure ought to be taken more seriously, not as a problem but as something to be catered for on a much more generous scale than at present.
I said that I particularly wanted to say something about the arts. I ought perhaps to add that not only have we a Puritan tradition. We have a Philistine tradition as well. This must be the only country in which the term "intellectual" is a dirty word, where "cultural" is often a term of abuse. Changing attitudes in this respect requires more than simply providing additional funds, although this is what we are primarily concerned with today. The other day I was re-reading a book by my hon. Friend the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland), to whom I am indebted in many ways.
In that he quoted Beatrice Webb's description of her honeymoon in Dublin. This is what Beatrice Webb said:
Owing to our concentration on research, municipal administration and Fabian propaganda we had neither the time nor the energy nor yet the means to listen to music and the drama, to brood over classic literature, to visit picture galleries or to view with an informed intelligence the wonders of architecture.
That is part of the Fabian tradition, the cold mutton tradition of Grosvenor Road, but it is, fortunately, not the whole of the Socialist tradition. I should like to think that it is less like our own national tradition than sometimes one is led to suspect.
A debate in another place the other day was introduced by Lord Auckland. In his opening remarks, when he was making the case for further expenditure on the arts, he said that the arts,
… while they are a vital part of our life …must, in these critical times, to some extent play second fiddle".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 3rd June, 1964; Vol. 258, c. 492.]
If one says that at the beginning of a debate in which one wants to make a case for spending on the arts, one does
not make the case at all. It is an attitude towards the arts which treats expenditure as the icing on the cake.
We are all aware, particularly those of us on this side of the Committee, of the very high priorities which must be accorded to housing and to schools, which have been woefully neglected during the last 13 years, and to the old people, but if we do not feel that dealing with the quality of life as just as important as dealing with the standard of living, unless we make that our starting point, we will not spend sufficient on and we will not make the provision for leisure which all of us desire.
Two months or so ago there was a Motion on the Order Paper in my name and the names of a number of my hon. Friends. This was at the time when the Philharmonia Orchestra was threatened with extinction. We had in mind not simply the Philharmonia and the desirability of it not going out of existence because of lack of funds, but also, as we said in the Motion,
the present parsimonious level of assistance
for the arts. Parsimonious it still is.
The facts are familiar, I think, to most hon. Members present, but I hope that I will be allowed to remind the Committee that in the Estimates for 1964–65, Class VIII, "Museums, Galleries and the Arts", the total expenditure projected is £9,454,050—less than £10 million. That is less than the amount we spend each year on tobacco advertising. If one wants to make a comparison between the need to provide for the quality of life and the tendency to spend on procuring early death, a comparison between expenditure on the arts and expenditure on tobacco is a good one. One could put it another way and say that we spend less on the arts than we will have to spend on buying five TSR2 aircraft.
I notice that on Friday there was a reference in at least one newspaper to an important collection, namely, the Hirshhorn Collection. I should like to take this opportunity of asking whether the Government are prepared to make a statement about acquiring this collection. It is, I understand, the most definitive collection in private hands of modern sculpture, and it is in the United States. I also understand, however, that its owner is considering making a gift of it to this country and that discussions have taken place with the Treasury. The matter seems to turn on the provision of an adequate place to house the collection.
There is a very strong feeling that unless the Government are prepared to act quickly and boldly we shall not get it. I should be most interested to hear what has been done and whether the Government are prepared to make a bold gesture. Sometimes bold and quick gestures are required, and not only in defence and foreign affairs, when the Government are always ready to act as the necessity arises.
I have referred to last Friday's debate on automation. Perhaps I may be allowed to make one further passing reference to it in view of the remarks of the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Curran). In the course of that debate, as I think has been widely reported, he said:
I do not know whether my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State"—
who is present again today—
can tell us anything about what kind of school this Beatle went to.
He went on to say:
I would like my hon. Friend to tell us what the secondary modern schools of Liverpool are like now."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th June, 1964; Vol. 696, c. 1746.]
The reference was to John Lennon and to his book, "In His Own Write".
I mention this because John Lennon and I went to the same school. I should like to put it on record that this is much the best local authority grammar school in the City of Liverpool, which makes it much the best local authority grammar school in Great Britain. Over one-third of all those who enter the school go to universities, and rather over half go to institutions of university level. This should be recorded, in view of the remarks made on Friday. It is not as irrelevant as at first sight it may seem to the question of providing for leisure, because it is important to realise that culture is indivisible and not to regard popular culture, which some people may not like, as something totally separate from the provision for music and the arts in the way that they are normally understood.
When I was a pre-Beatle "beatle", I regularly attended a jazz club in the constituency of the Minister of Transport, but, at the same time, largely as a result of the initiative shown by my school, I attended concerts given by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. It is important to see these as two sides of the experience of many young persons. It is a mistake to regard some of the leisure time activities of young people as being, somehow, culturally unacceptable.
Although 20 years ago, due to the enterprise of my school and of the local authority, I was fortunate enough to attend concerts of the Liverpool Philharmonic it is most unfortunate that local authority provision for the arts still falls considerably short of what it might be. I noticed the remarks in another place of Lord Willis and a very interesting article by my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. C. Johnson) in this month's "Socialist Commentary" in which he refers to the familiar fact that very many local authorities fail to spend as much on the arts as they are entitled to do under existing legislation. A problem for any Government is to try to find means of inducing local authorities to spend as much as they are allowed to spend.
This is very important because provision for the arts should not simply be metropolitan provision. Apart from "intellectual" and "cultural", the word "provincial", in quite a different way, is sometimes used as a, term of abuse. This should not be the case. We should all be doing our best to make sure that the provinces are able to make the sort of provision which, in some ways, the capital can make. This is not easy. Many local authorities are heavily burdened with expenses, some of which no doubt will shortly be transferred to the Exchequer. Equally, the rating system being what it is, it does not enable even the best local authorities to organise their finances in the most convenient way.
Yet it still remains true, I am afraid I must say, irrespective of politics, that the attitude of some local authorities to the provision for arts is the Poor Law attitude—still attempting to provide a national minimum, not imaginative enough to see that the provision ought to go beyond schools, housing, and the normal services with which local government is associated.
How can we encourage local authorities to do more? I simply want to refer to the North-Eastern Association of the Arts, which has been referred to by the Arts Council as the prototype for patronage. It is an admirable association, and its present success is partly the responsibility of its secretary, Mr. Arthur Blenkinsop, a former Member of the House, who, happily, will return here after the next election. Recently, it has had a great deal of success in encouraging local authorities to spend an unusual amount of money on the arts. I think that the North-Eastern Association of the Arts has now persuaded local authorities to contribute something like £40,000 a year to its activities, and a further £30,000 or thereabouts comes from the Arts Council.
The Association has been very enterprising in finding ways in which activities can be brought to people living in out of the way communities, and, in particular, I would commend its initiative in developing a very enterprising transport scheme by which, where it is impossible to take concerts and exhibitions to outlying communities, people are able to travel subsidised to enjoy the facilities which some of the bigger towns provide.
There are one or two disappointing features of its report. One of them, I would say, is that industry, on the whole, has failed to make the contribution to the expenses of the Association which I would have liked to have seen. Perhaps one can say, in passing, referring not to last Friday's but last Thursday's debate, that if the companies named by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East are anxious to know what to do with their surplus funds they could well divert them from the Tory Party to further provision for the arts. They would certainly get a great deal better value for money.
I am commending this North-Eastern Association of the Arts because it does seem to me to be a very worth-while regional enterprise which has encouraged local authorities to spend more than they previously did, and which might be copied in other parts of the country. I would be interested to know whether the Government have taken any steps at all to make these activities more widely known and whether there is any hope that further provision will be made for the sort of activities for which it is responsible.
Of course, the field in which provision is most of all required is capital expenditure. A number of times references have been made to the French practice, by which I think about £250 million is made available over a period of four years for what is called cultural equipment. The truth, as I understand it, is that while there can be sometimes generous contributions towards current costs there are no Exchequer contributions towards capital expenditure.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman, in an earlier capacity, had a great deal of experience of the need to improve the infrastructure of the area of the country to which I have been referring, and he then acknowledged, to however limited an extent, the need for very substantial capital expenditure for the physical rehabilitation of the North-East. I hope that he may be able to say that the Government have in mind some substantial capital expenditure towards provision for the arts not only in that part of the country, but also other parts of the country as well. Certainly, capital expenditure is very much needed.
In the last resort the question about arts and leisure is this, whether the arts are thought of as something for "them" or something for "us". I think that it is true that for a large number of people, for many reasons, the arts are for them. I should like to believe that in a few years' time generous expenditure and better organisation will enable many people to say that the arts are for us.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. W. T. Rodgers), referred to certain excerpts, which he read, as the cold mutton of Socialism. I was a little disappointed that he started by denigrating—
I am most grateful to the hon. Member. I was going on to say that I very much regretted that he went on to the denigration of what had been achieved in housing for the old people and in schools and housing over the past 13 years, because I think that anybody will admit that a very great deal has been done. Possibly, one should refer to those remarks as the corned beef of the current Socialist story.
This is a very short debate and, consequently, I will try to touch on only a very few aspects of leisure and sport. The other day, in another place, an excellent debate was introduced by the noble Lady the Baroness Burton of Coventry. It gave a very comprehensive survey of the problems which this country may well face with decreasing time being taken up in earning a living and more time being taken up in living.
This will be an extremely difficult problem in a small country with such limited land area and large population as there is in the United Kingdom, and without a considerable amount of planning and thoughtfulness as to what can be done to use the facilities which are there and the resources which there are in the United Kingdom we shall run into awful trouble and will end up with a tremendous waste not only of the land area but of the wonderful facilities and a lot of the beauty which this country currently has.
Before I get on to space for leisure I should like to refer to something which has already been mentioned by previous speakers and that is the financing of sport. It is a very great step forward that there has been a Government grant in order to assist the Olympics team to go to Tokio. For all that, today, with the size of the team which is required, and with the lack of private individuals who can support such a team, I hope that the Government, should they be asked, will consider a larger grant in order to assist this team going to Tokio, so that not only may it have an adequate number of athletes, who may not otherwise be able to go there, but that it may also have the very best in what one may call the supporting troops—good trainers, which it should have, good doctors, and so on, to go to Tokio with the team. Unless we find sufficient money we are likely to make fools of ourselves in public internationally on such a great occasion.
Over the next few years with increasing leisure we shall have to find and rope more and more people into part-time activities. More and more people must be made interested in the arts, in self-education, or education through courses which are provided part-time in local technical colleges. They also must be made interested in sports of different kinds and other types of leisure occupations. It seems to me from what I have seen in my constituency and locally that very often these sports and occupations are concentrated round one person in a village.
I know, for instance, of one small village which presents from time to time an excellent Shakespearean production. I have a theory, which, I admit, is my own, that one should see only two types of Shakespearean presentations—either the kind produced at Stratford-on-Avon, with really first-class actors, or the kind produced in the village. I think that there is nothing Shakespearean worth while seeing between those two.
In this village, which is known to one or two hon. Members, a Shakespearean play is produced every second year entirely through the energy and leadership of one woman. Similarly, in another part of the constituency a weight-training club is organised in a couple of lock-up garages each week for between 10 and 20 people. This is run by a welder from a local factory and the whole enterprise rotates round that one person.
If we are to have an increasing number of these small efforts, which I am sure can contribute to the enjoyment of leisure and fulness of living of the whole community, there should be some place from which moderate financial help can be obtained for the small one-man show. We often talk of grand operations like the Crystal Palace National Recreational Centre, which is a first-class effort, but, equally, a large proportion of the population are associated with small organisations which have a great struggle to obtain funds. I hope that we shall not neglect these organisations when we are thinking of finding finance for sport and leisure activities.
My main appeal to the Minister is that we should look carefully at the problem of space for leisure. It has been suggested already in the debate that playing fields could be more fully utilised. This is so. One often finds playing fields which could be used a great deal more. At the same time, grass has a limited life and where a school appears to be selfish in not allowing a local football club to use its ground the reason generally is that the grass is not capable of taking the extra games without the pupils who have first call on the ground being deprived of its use. Therefore, we must make sure whether ground dependent on grass is the only ground where football and similar games can be played.
Similarly, we must look not only at the playing fields we have but at areas of land which are available for recreation. To give an example of the kind of planning which I should like to see, I would mention the Blackwater Estuary, one of the last unspoilt areas of natural beauty within 50 or 60 miles of London. This is an area which is currently used for a great deal of sailing and a certain amount of bird-watching and swimming but there will be increasing demand for more facilities for sailing. Already, during the last couple of years, in that estuary the Essex County Council has taken over the concrete slipway which was used to build the power station at Bradwell-juxta-Mare and has used it as a sailing centre for the youth of Essex. The County Borough of West Ham has a barge near Heybridge. These are only forerunners of the demands which will be made on that area.
Several people have recognised this and have asked for planning permission to develop marinas. It seems to me that a marina or some development of that kind must come, but it would be disastrous if that type of development comes about simply because one planning application is successful and before a careful look has been taken at the whole area with a view to deciding which is the best part for sailing to be zoned in the estuary and which is the best place for water skiing, for bathing, and for power skiing from which, incidentally, I am now suffering having had a bad fall yesterday.
I should like to see the Minister get the various local authorities together so that they can co-ordinate their byelaws to make sure that there is the requisite protection for bathers from the speed of power boats in certain areas. Simultaneously, let us preserve certain areas for the unique fauna and flora of this region. I have used this estuary as an example because I enjoy a good deal of recreation there myself and know something about it from personal experience.
With the motor car and the mobility of the population and better roads and more time and more spending money, unless something is done very soon to zone these areas for preservation and for this and that kind of activity, we shall have a hotch-potch and all the areas which might be preserved for flora and fauna and natural beauty and peace will be destroyed. I plead especially that if such a plan is developed we should have silence zones in these recreational areas. These are places from which rowdy people like myself, with power boats, should be excluded and where people can walk and enjoy communion with nature and the peace of the English foreshore and countryside undisturbed.
That is how I would like to see some recreational areas developed in order to enjoy these facilities. But I also make a plea for some research into what one might almost call "play buildings". I have already briefly referred to the fact that grass does not last forever and, therefore, one has to have artificial types of track. Not only will we have a greater demand on these tracks and for playing fields, but I believe that we shall find it increasingly hard to provide the land for all the playing fields we want. We shall, therefore, have to build large recreational buildings.
I was immensely impressed one night in Rotterdam. I saw a building with the extraordinary name of "Ahoy". I never found out the derivation. It was a comparatively simply constructed building which looked as if it had not been very expensive. I paid my 60 cents. and inside found a tremendous amount of activity. There were basketball and other courts for seven-a-side football. All sorts of activities were going on under the one roof. There was an opportunity for various teams to play, irrespective of the weather One of the things which always staggers me about the United Kingdom is the way in which sports are planned as if the British weather is kind.
It is not kind at Lord's at the moment. Indeed, it is almost invariably unkind and unreliable.
We should carefully consider whether we should not build some centres throughout the country where recreational facilities of an energetic form could be located. They should have swimming pools attached. I do not share the view that there is now almost a surplus of swimming pools. I believe that there is still room for many more covered and heated swimming pools, particularly in the industrial areas. In addition, there is a demand—as there should be—for some form of gymnasia, and these would be suitable for these big buildings.
I was interested to note that in Oxford—I do not know whether it is on behalf of the University—£60,000, with a promise of more to come, have been given for building a gymnasium. I think that I am right in saying that there are only three gymnasia in the United Kingdom available to the public and where the whole series of Olympic exercises can be done. That is the situation in a country with a climate like ours and a population so thick on the ground. I hope that my hon. Friend will consider what can be done for indoor recreational facilities and also for the planning of outdoor facilities.
I do not suggest that we should go as far as the United States, where a 28 volume work on Outdoor Recreational Resources was produced. But at least there is a case here for the Ministers concerned—the Minister of Housing and Local Government, the Secretary of State for the Home Department and the Secretary of State for Education and Science—together with my hon. Friend, to consult on what can be done to see that our increasing population, with its increasing leisure and mobility, has a chance of enjoying the facilities and the more satisfying leisure occupations which at present are not widely enjoyed but which will become quite ruined unless they are zoned and planned to a certain extent.
I am extremely glad to follow the hon. Gentleman who followed me as Member for Maldon, because I agree so strongly with what he said about the Blackwater Estuary. This is about the last bit of unspoiled coast within 50 miles or so of London. It has been constantly threatened and nibbled at in recent years, not least by one factor which I do not think he mentioned—the insistent pressure for more and more caravan sites. These, indeed, may be, within their proper bounds, necessary and desirable, but, obviously, if we have too many of them the whole quality of that sort of place—which depends so largely on its sense of solitude and great empty skies—is lost for ever and cannot, therefore, be enjoyed by those who flock there in the hope of enjoying it. That is one of the dilemmas confronting us.
I suggest that, in addition to the local authorities concerned, who, as the hon. Gentleman said, should get together to discuss this with some urgency, the National Trust, which has recently been paying attention to the problem of saving our coast, and also the National Parks Commission should consider whether the Blackwater Estuary, and perhaps some other similar areas, should be treated as special cases.
I have only one small reservation to make on a particular point mentioned by the hon. Member. It is entirely admirable that there should be the youth sailing scheme that he mentioned, but, in introducing it, the county council, in my view, could have taken rather more care of the feelings and interests of the local inhabitants and should not have seemed to be debarring villagers, who had enjoyed certain rights of access for centuries, from using that quay.
As I think the hon. Gentleman knows, I was one of those foremost in fighting the county council at one stage because of the high-handed way in which it went about this scheme.
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman was, and I believe that the protests did some good. I hope that similar mistakes will not be made in future.
It may well be true, as the Joint Under-Secretary of State said, that we sometimes exaggerate the imminence of full automation, the speed with which this scientific revolution is going to overtake industry and all of us. What he said sounded a little like whistling in the dark: it reminded me of such remarks as "It can't happen here". But even if he is right, surely it is safer to exaggerate the imminence of full automation than to ignore or understate it, because we all agree that it brings some enormous problems with it and that they are not ones which can be solved overnight. They are not short-term problems. It may take a generation—20 or 30 years—fully to bring about the necessary changes in mental attitudes, to help the people fully to enjoy the immensely greater leisure that will be theirs. It is very much wiser to anticipate and plan for this major change in our society, even if an element of exaggeration is involved, than merely to brush it aside.
It is for this reason, also, that I think that the subject of today's debate is not by any means of minor or marginal importance. On the contrary, if the subject is taken in its widest sense, it confronts us with problems that are really second only to the major problems of our day—problems of war and peace, and the economic problems with which it is allied. Moreover, although, of course, it is true that if one is starving and homeless one wants food and a roof before one wants to see the ballet, nevertheless no civilisation can be called great which has not produced and nurtured great artists.
I am convinced that this problem of the use and the quantity, and, still more, the quality of our leisure will confront us increasingly in the years ahead. When the Under-Secretary says that we exaggerate, I recall that a couple of years ago, when I was last in New York, I read that the New York electricians had just succeeded in negotiating a 25-hour week. It may be a 20-hour week by now—or a 10 or 15-hour week for all or most of the industrial workers by the end of the century. So I think that we must take the matter pretty seriously.
Without wanting to dissent too much from what the hon. Gentleman said, in many cases the reduction in the hours of work is merely bringing to a lower level the point at which overtime begins.
I think that that may be so for the transitional period. I do not want to go too deeply into the technical details—indeed I should not be competent to do so—but I believe that in a relatively short time—perhaps by the end of the century, when many of us, except the youngest among us, will not be sitting here—it may well be that: the majority of people will only have to work 10 or 15 hours a week.
We cannot resist automation. As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said, in a very remarkable speech last autumn at Scarborough, we cannot be Luddites. We welcome automation, so long as it is introduced after maximum consultation with all those concerned, which has not always been the case in the past, and with maximum care for the inevitable human anxieties and difficulties; for these difficulties, quite apart from economic considerations, add up to a very formidable human and social problem.
The age of automation can offer for mankind, at first in those countries which are advanced industrially and ultimately everywhere, a prospect of unexampled and unprecedented leisure, of a freedom from drudgery which has hitherto been available to and enjoyed by only a very few fortunate or privileged people. In such conditions the words "work" and "leisure" may become increasingly meaningless as a distinction. Creative artists, research scientists, and many other people whose work is their whole life and who are entirely absorbed in it and love it, obviously will always continue to work very long hours indeed. That is as they wish. But the people who will have most leisure may well be those who, as things are, may find it least easy to accommodate themselves to it.
At least, however, this is an advance that we can accept with a clear conscience. Great civilisations of the past, including the Athenian democracy, for all their superb achievements, have often been based on the existence of a caste of slaves—perhaps members of conquered races, people regarded as less than human and with no rights. Even if we wanted to, we should not have to do that. We shall have our slaves, indeed—but they will be called machines.
But the alarming thing about this prospect is that we are almost totally unprepared for an age in which few will have to work more than the few hours that I have suggested may be the possible maximum by the end of the century. I also fear that the economic and industrial problems of the transition to automation will be so absorbing and so complex that there may be a tendency to overlook the equally difficult problems of the use of leisure. That is why I think that it is essential, as has been suggested, that a Minister, or somebody with Ministerial status, should have this subject under his direct care and control, possibly in association with the Minister of Education or possibly with some other governmental set-up. I am sure that this should not be ignored by any future Cabinet of any party.
Tremendous mental adjustments will have to be made by millions of ordinary people and by political parties which, in the past, have always had to concentrate, quite rightly and inevitably as things have been, on the problem of full employment, of getting work for everyone. The new problem is how to use an enormously increased amount of leisure. Another aspect of it is that it may obviously tend to increase our present problems of juvenile delinquency, because crime arises as much from having nothing to do as from a positive desire to do wrong. So this subject is of practical importance: it is not just an abstract or airy subject—and the centre and heart of it is the problem of boredom.
Young people, as we have seen, are already bored if they have too little to do. So are old people who have to retire when they feel that they still have many years of good work in them. So, too, servicemen on long leave get bored after a week or two: it is a familiar phenomenon. This is one of the evils flowing from our inegalitarian, class-stratified educational system; and it calls for an urgent and immense expansion of higher and adult education. For it is, after all, mainly among the under-educated and under-privileged that leisure has led to law-breaking. There have always been what are called the leisured classes-some used to call them the idle rich—and though some of their financial activities would seem to me anti-social, they did and do manage to fill their time with travel, sport, and some of the arts, agreeably enough, and do not usually land up in court.
An enormous educational drive and a pretty big adjustment of attitudes are, therefore, needed before a whole leisured society can develop harmlessly. We need far more of the facilities outlined so well by my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu) in his opening remarks. The Under-Secretary spoke of, I think, 700 new projects, but he could not, of course, tell us straight off—one would not expect him to—how they were distributed. One of the points about the survey which my hon. Friend asked for—it was stressed very much in the document "Leisure for Living"—is that there is this great maldistribution of playing-fields, swimming-pools, and so on, as between the South, which, if not adequately equipped, is rather better equipped, and the North, where so many children, as my hon. Friend said, have to learn to play games in back streets and have to walk perhaps miles to find adequate playing-fields.
All this ought to be done by a Sports Council, a National Council of Sport, analogous to the Arts Council but working very closely in co-operation with such admirable voluntary bodies as the National Playing Fields Association, with the local authorities, and with all the other bodies concerned about this matter. I am sure that Government action is needed: Government action has been taken, but I am sure that more is needed, more specific Government action in the way of setting up a Council of the kind we have mentioned.
I think that the Under-Secretary fell a little below the standard of the debate when he talked about the vote-catching nature of the expenditure mentioned in our 1959 document. I assure him that it was not so. I do not honestly believe that there are very many votes in this kind of subject. We put in these figures after considering them very carefully. They were definite commitments. Moreover, they represent, as he must know very well, an infinitesimally trivial amount in relation to the country's total Budget, or to the total defence budget. If he looks at the last page of the document, he will see roughly how much it works out at. It is really derisory.
If we are to be accused of vote catching because we mention in our pamphlet an expenditure of £5 million, the Under-Secretary ought to remember that the pamphlet produced by the Conservative Central Office at the same time had exactly the same figure of £5 million.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Denis Howell) for reminding me of that. I always suspected that the Conservatives had had an advance glance at an early proof of our pamphlet, because their little pamphlet was rushed out in an enormous hurry long after it was known that ours was about to appear, and there were these extraordinary coincidences of figures and of other features of the two pamphlets. I seriously think that ours was the first serious attempt by any major party in the world to deal with the problem of leisure as a whole, the new patterns of patronage of the arts, sport, and all the rest of it. In any case, as my hon. Friend says, accusations of vote-catching at this point exactly cancel themselves out.
Having mentioned some of the problems and handicaps of any age of leisure as we approach it, might I mention a few of its advantages? The great central advantage seems to me to be simply the intrinsic one which my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. W. T. Rodgers) mentioned. I agree with him strongly that work is not the chief end of man. Human beings are made and are entitled to enjoy a vast range of activities which may include creative work but which may more often be activities that might be dismissed as mere pleasure or fun. Do not let us dismiss fun as "mere".
Some hon. Members will have seen the announcement that the Civic Trust is hoping to develop the whole of the Lea Valley area as an enormous green wedge of recreation through one of the dreariest parts of East London. I am not sure that even the Civic Trust has realised fully and imaginatively how big this scheme could be. The Lea Valley could be a play area for the whole of Greater London and the adjacent counties. Incidentally, part of it might very well be devoted strictly to fun, since this is one of the posible sites for the great project which that genius of the English theatre, Miss Joan Littlewood, is now working on—a palace, park, or "laboratory of fun", as it was called in her article in the "New Scientist" a few weeks ago, which some hon. Members may have seen.
Another advantage of much greater leisure is that if one has only an hour or two and nothing much to do in the evening, one is apt to turn on the "telly", to watch it. fall asleep and go to bed. There will be time once more for reading, I am glad to say, as well as for watching television; even for reading books. There will be time, also—and this is perhaps a slight paradox—for more leisurely travel, for slower travel. We will not have to be in such a hurry. True, if someone in Hammersmith wants to go to the fun palace in the Lea Valley, he will be able to get there in about three minutes—by high speed monorail, of course—but the rest of us will be able to wander around on foot, or on bicycle, or even by car, exploring the beauties of our own and other people's countries. Last, and certainly not least important, there will be much more time for service to others, for voluntary service both at home and overseas. This is an obvious corollary to the whole idea of having more free time to spare.
So, if only we have the wisdom to train ourselves aright for what lies ahead, to impart true values, to provide the necessary physical facilities, not to tell people how to use their leisure, but to see to it that many good ways of using it are available, then this coming age of leisure can, after all, be a golden age of mankind.
It was a great pleasure to hear the hon. Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. J. P. L. Mallalieu) opening the debate, almost as great a pleasure as he used to give to many people in his youth in his play at Twickenham. He has touched on a number of aspects and it was important that he should have agreed that the debate should range over the United Kingdom as a whole. I am sure that that is right. In Ulster, just as many young men and women are keen on taking part in sport as in this country, and our outlook at Westminster should be on a United Kingdom basis.
On Saturday, I was watching some schools shooting for their shield in Northern Ireland. One thing which particularly struck me was that the winning team was captained by a girl. I hope, in the future, to see the Ashbur-ton Shield being won by a team from Ulster and captained by a girl. However, it is on a United Kingdom basis that we are discussing sport.
There are two different views. One is the concentration on the top, which means on the Olympics, on the people who are experts, those who will eventually go to bring glory to our country. I thought that the hon. Member for Huddersfield, East was a little unfair in speaking of our Olympic team going out in penury. That statement was answered by my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary, the Member for Lewisham, North (Mr Chataway), and I do not want to deal with it any further other than to say that I did not think that it was a very fair remark.
I think that the other view is important, not the Olympic team, not the people who represent Britain, but the general run of young people who are interested in sport, people who may never hope to reach the heights of skill in their sport, but who get great pleasure out of it, possibly more pleasure by finding that they are never quite good enough, that they never score more than inners, that they can never play football quite as well as the next man, can never score more than 10 at cricket. People of this sort are important.
Each of us has a sport in which he is particularly interested. I should like to touch on the sport of amateur boxing. I do so because today the general atmosphere tends to be unfavourable towards it. I read recently that the Headmaster of Eton is withdrawing his school from competitive boxing. I think that is a mistake. I am glad that he has not stopped boxing at the school. I think that it is a mistake because I should hate to see the Etonians of the future under-privileged in boxing as compared to boys who have gone to other schools and who are members of the London Federation of Boys Clubs and have taken part in its boxing competitions. I am using that only as an instance of the unfavourable atmosphere in which at the moment boxing is regarded by the public in general
I should like to see the Government doing something about this. I hope that my right hon. Friend may be able to say something which will give encouragement, I should like to see it treated in this way: We must see that the instruction is of the highest quality. That is the first thing. I appreciate people's worry about the danger to health and some people's fear of brutality. I think that they are both wrong but the way to get round it is to see that the instructions are of the highest quality. I remember Bill Child, who was the instructor at Cambridge, a very great boxer himself, three times amateur champion of England, whose genius lay in being able to instruct others and to bring out their skill by his enthusiasm. I have heard him described as the greatest boxing instructor in the world and I certainly have a tremendous admiration for his skill, humanity and qualities of character. I think that we want a much higher standard of instructor. We do not want to be content with somebody who has become a professional and possibly not a very successful professional and who then tends to be taken on by a club or school and given the chance of training boys to box. It is inevitable that more money is needed.
But our main aim must be to raise the standard and people will have to be paid better if we are to have a better quality of instructor. I know that the Amateur Boxing Association has the machinery and that it rules sport well and competently, but I think that some help and encouragement and finance must be given by the Government before we can get such a scheme on a proper footing. I should like to see much more amateur boxing throughout the country. It is not a question of compulsion, because it can never be that, but a question of encouragement and of instruction so that the boy taking part does not get hurt. The aim is not to take punishment, but to avoid punishment, to learn how to defend oneself and to use one's skill and exercise—this is why it is an art as well as a sport—natural ability to the full. A boy can learn the rudiments, but in the end he himself must develop his own style and character. He will develop his character because he will learn initiative, courage, to take his chances and to develop himself.
I defy anyone who has experience of fighting in the ring—and the harder the fight the more this holds true—to come out of the ring without some sense of affection and admiration for his opponent and with no sense of bitterness or ill will. That is one of the reasons why boxing should be encouraged, because I believe that it is good for character and a sport which allows a man to develop himself fully, and because no man who is unfit can ever box properly. If we give the best instruction that is possible, and have good refereeing, there is no danger in amateur boxing for boys, but the referee must be first-rate and so must the instruction.
I should like to refer to the wider aspect of sport in general, and that is in the help that is given—again, not at the Olympic level—to boys and girls throughout the country by voluntary organisations. I am thinking particularly of the Y.M.C.A., which has canoeing courses at Botley, near Southampton, and at Lakeside, one of its national camps. That means that during the winter canoes are made at Y.M.C.A.s which may be nowhere near the river—and when summer comes parties take their canoes to the water and learn how to use them. That seems to be imaginative and helpful. A great number of people would never be able to experience that pleasure if they had not the encouragement given by such an organisation.
Then there are the football leagues—I know that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Denis Howell) is particularly interested in this—and many hundreds of teams are organised by the Y.M.C.A. Again, to my particular delight, the Y.M.C.A. encourages not only boxing, but judo and archery, another excellent form of individual sport. My hon. Friend the Member for Maldon (Mr. B. Harrison) has already referred to weight lifting. He corrects me by saying "weight training", but I think that there is also weight lifting as well in certain areas. These are forms of encouragement given by voluntary organisations.
I have picked out only one, but there are many others which help with sport. I mention, in particular, the Y.M.C.A. whose national championship, on 23rd May this year, was the first to be held at the Crystal Palace. That national athletic championship, as my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary, who was himself a brilliant athlete, will appreciate, was a great help to people all over Britain who came from various local associations and who took part in it.
I shall not detain the House further except to say that I hope that the Government will encourage sport, as a result of this debate, not only at the top level but on the level of the ordinary boy or girl who is taking part because he or she enjoys sport.
I follow the hon. and learned Member for Antrim, South (Sir Knox Cunningham) on the point of unexceptional performers, and I offer no apology for returning to coaching. I raised this matter during an Adjournment debate on Tuesday, 16th July, 1963, a year ago, when I urged the creation of a recognised profession for coaches with security and promotion opportunities which would endow them with status—a kind of hierarchy of coaches unified in one system throughout Britain. I then believed that the responsibility for coaching young people under the age of 18 should be taken out of the hands of amateur bodies.
Replying to that debate, the Under-Secretary said that he was unhappy about the prospect of coaching being taken out of the hands of amateur bodies. He said that they had undoubted enthusiasm for their sports. He said:
I do not believe that this would be the right way to proceed. We want to build upon the coaching schemes that have already been successfully launched."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th July, 1953; Vol. 681, c. 494.]
Subsequent to this debate I decided to send out a questionnaire which I had prepared on the organisational problems of sport to about 198 sporting bodies and individuals in Scotland. Among the questions I posed was this one:
Do you think that there is a case for establishing a hierarchy of national coaches responsible far those under 18 not at school and bearing no relation to amateur bodies?
I must record straight away that the majority opinion—though opinion was by no means unanimous—was on the side of the Under-Secretary. It was felt by my correspondents that the amateur bodies should be used and not by-passed and I now accept this view.
Let us also understand that if the amateur bodies are to be responsible for coaching the not-so-expert performer, they need a great deal of help. Perhaps the consensus of opinion contained in the answers to my questionnaire may best be summed up by the secretary of an amateur club who said:
I would like to think that we cater fairly adequately for the performer with high potential. But frankly this happens only because I give up every spring and summer weekend to the club. About this I do not complain. However, what does get me down is the endless letter writing that my wife and I have to undertake after our work almost every night of the week. If you want us to undertake any wide-scale coaching, then I or the club must have help with the business end of things.
The general feeling was that it would not be too difficult to find coaches willing to help enthusiastic, though inept, youngsters to become more proficient and thus enjoy themselves more. But there were conditions. There should be no slog-work of sending out notices of time and place to teenagers scattered round the town; no booking of fields, tracks or pitches; no booking of buses for away matches; no ordering of equipment and submission of bills to this or that committee; no filling up of entry forms for this or that competition; and, most important, no undertaking of the business of filling up finance books.
From the welter of evidence, often conflicting, which came to me last summer and autumn from the 198 sporting bodies and individuals in Scotland whom I approached, one point emerged clearly. If, like the Parliamentary Under-Secretary, we are to put our trust in the amateur bodies to undertake the coaching of young people who have left school, we must provide them with effective administrative assistance. I offer suggestions about how this should be done. A register should be drawn up—preferably by a sports development council proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu), or otherwise by the Ministry—of those amateur bodies who are serious about wide-scale coaching—not coaching potential international athletes but the enthusiastic amateurs. Administrative centres should be provided in big cities, say, two in Birmingham and Glasgow and one each in Edinburgh and Leeds, where the secretary of a registered body may get prompt administrative assistance. The advantages of the economies of scale should be reaped, and all sports, from judo to mountaineering, should use the same centre.
In towns, the arrangements should be more flexible. Ideally, a sports administrative centre is desirable. On the other hand, it might be more realistic to make it an obligation on either the town council office staff or the office staff of the chief education officer to accept the administrative work of secretaries of registered bodies. What is important is that these centres should be genuinely local and accessible, and not 30 miles away in a regional metropolis.
Similarly, in rural areas, I do not see why, after the payment of a modest sum from a sports development council or the Ministry, administrative work could not be undertaken by the local office. If money is to be spent on sport, this is the point of optimum return.
There is a question which anyone who puts forward this sort of argument is obliged to tackle. It is: where are administrators of supervisory grade to be recruited? My view is that they could be recruited from the P.T. staffs of schools who have attained their early fifties. We may be told, "You are robbing the schools, and teacher supply, in all conscience, is difficult enough." I just do not believe it right that a man should be obliged to teach physical training when over 50 years of age. Those who do not obtain a position similar to that of director of physical education for their authority, often find that in later years their existence is rather grim and pathetic. Either a man demonstrates the double forward roll, or whatever it is, long after he is not really able to do so, or alternatively, the physical education of the pupils suffers because their P.T. teacher is too old to carry out the job. There are few teachers who are "evergreen", like Stanley Matthews.
Many young men would like to become P.T. teachers and are qualified to do so. They would be highly successful in this important job, but they shy away from the thought of having to sweat it out at a time of life when they will not be so nimble as once they were. If there were some guarantee of administrative service for them after the age of 45, I believe that this would significantly increase the number of P.T. teachers rather than decrease it.
Because there are other hon. Members who wish to speak, I will content myself with making the one point that we must look at the question of administrative centres; we should set them up in cities and perhaps use existing facilities in towns and rural areas. If we are to have support from amateur bodies we must ensure that they get all the chores done for them. Otherwise, we shall find that the average performer will not be catered for but that their energies will be saved for the exceptional performer.
I am sorry that, through no fault of my own, I was prevented from hearing the opening speech of the hon. Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. J. B. W. Mallalieu) and most of the speech of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary. If, therefore, I touch on ground which has already been covered, that is the explanation.
I do not know whether membership of a committee is a reason for declaring an interest. As a member of the executive of the C.C.P.R. for many years, I can testify to the great satisfaction felt in that body about the growing interest and generosity of the Government and the Treasury in respect of the matters we are debating.
Reference has been made to the great importance of this subject. As a collaborator over a great many years with Dr. Kurt Hahn, I should like to testify to his philosophy, which may be summed up by saying that the task of education is to produce the whole man. I am sorry that the claims for further assistance for sport, in whatever form it may be, are so frequently advanced on the ground that automation will give people so much leisure that we had better begin to prepare the facilities which for the first time they will be able to use and which up to now they have not been able to use. This was not an unreasonable summary of the case put by the hon. Member for Maldon.
First, I am not the hon. Member for Maldon but the hon. Member for Barking. Secondly, I put it on much wider grounds than that. I was not referring to sport alone when I said that people needed to learn to use leisure creatively.
I do not wish inadvertently to misconstrue the point which the hon. Member made, but he certainly seemed to make that point. I do not believe that for a great many years the effect of automation will be that the working people of this country will have so many hours on their hands not taken up with earning their living that it will become a major problem to keep them out of mischief. The public demand for all sorts of things will continue to be insatiable, and the wives at home will be keen to see their husbands elsewhere earning their living, so that they are unlikely to be worried too much with the amount of time available for leisure.
It is precisely because I think that the argument rests on far firmer ground that I am sorry that so much weight has been given to the argument based on automation. There are many reasons in our present society why physical fitness, which is part and parcel of the use of leisure in the form of sport in the wider sense, is particularly important today.
I do not want to seek to undermine the arguments advanced by the hon. Member for Stockton on-Tees (Mr. W. T. Rodgers), who drew attention particularly to the cultural side of leisure. It is not a question of putting one against the other, because they are complementary, but there are many aspects of our modern way of living which present problems and create a lack of balance which physical fitness in its broadest sense can do something to restore. There is great pressure to get into universities. This will no doubt be modified as the number of places available is increased, but at the moment there is great pressure to pass examinations and to reach the top of the queue in order to get into university. The bookworms seem to be the most likely to get there, irrespective of the fact that bookworms are not the only people whom the universities would like to turn out into the great world afterwards.
The growth of the towns, the movement from the countryside into the towns and the addition, we are told, of 3½ million people in the south-east of England all create circumstances in which the opportunities for people to live a balanced life and to keep fit will become increasingly difficult. We are told, too, that in all sorts of ways the opportunities for leisure are becoming increasingly restricted if only because of the number of people who want to use such facilities as we have. If we are to create the whole man and to prevent the distortions which the present shape of society brings with it, it is essential that we pay full attention to the opportunities for providing scope for outdoor activities in order that leadership, judgment and proper balance may emerge from our educational and other facilities.
I do not think that these things will be given a proper place in our society, nor will proper account be taken of this aspect, until they are taken into consideration by those concerned with planning. There is no doubt that as the standard of living in this country rises, as it has unquestionably risen over the last 12 years, there follows a tremendous demand for sport of all kind, a demand which did not previously exist because people could not afford it. It may take the form of going further afield to get the form of leisure activity which a person wants, and this may arise from the fact that he can afford a motor car. It may be that fresh interests are aroused by tasting these things for the first time. But without doubt, the pressure of those who are interested in facilities for training is becoming so intense that difficulty is arising.
I am a land-lubber, but I am told that people who own boats are falling over each other for lack of opportunity to use them because of the heavy demand for this type of recreation. This applies to many other forms of activity. A demand is growing up not only because the number of people living in this country is growing but also because those already living here seek to express themselves in this way as the standard of living rises. There is a welcome change of outlook among people concerned with sport in wanting to take part in it more and more and no longer being content to watch others doing it on television. I have always thought that one of the most insidious diseases in this country was "spectatoritis". In so far as people are demanding opportunities to participate in these sports instead of watching others do so, this is a welcome change in ideas.
Moreover, there is a tendency, arising partly out of the improved standards available, for people to pay more attention to the individual forms of activity such as mountaineering, ski-ing, water ski-ing and golf, rather than to forms of sport which need a team of eleven or more in order that the game may be played. When the sport is played in ones or twos, instead of it being used for groups of eleven or twenty-two, the amount of space required, and the number of facilities required, automatically rises.
Many of these ideas, and particularly the interest in solo activities, have come about in part from the spread of adventure training, through such organisations as Outward Bound, with which I have been concerned for many years, and the Duke of Edinburgh's Award. Such ideas are expressed in other organisations, too. The boys clubs have developed far more adventurous activities for their members than was the case ten or fifteen years ago. County councils have centres for adventure training to which young people can go for a week-end, a week or two weeks. North Wales is littered with splendid expressions of this idea, which has grown up over the last few years. This is very valuable in itself, in that young people are participating in this form of character training, but in addition, if it engenders a wish to participate in it afterwards, for example in mountaineering or sailing, this is an additional dividend of great value. But it fosters an increasing demand for the facilities which we are discussing today.
I do not know how far it is possible for this problem to be dealt with satisfactorily with the information available at present. Without knowing more about that, I should not like to speak strongly in terms of a national survey on the subject, because it may well be that a great deal of knowledge is already available which is required to see to what extent Government help is called for and in what way. I fancy that a great deal of information is already available and that if it were assembled and put together in the best way, it might suffice for the purpose.
Another point that arises out of the great enlargement of these activities is the importance of proper attention being paid to safety. In this connection, it is greatly to be welcomed that those who have been concerned to note the number of accidents to young people, particularly in the mountains, arising from lack of adequate knowledge on the part of those with them and responsible for them, have led to an investigation to see how far minimum standards of competence can be devised and made applicable to those who wish to take parties climbing or or expeditions. If only because in all adventure training young people are virtually presented with controlled danger, it is essential that those concerned should pay adequate attention to safety and should do what they can to see that the benefits of facing danger are not overlaid by the unnecessary risk which is run in the process.
I greatly welcome the fact that minimum standards have been devised. I hope that proper publicity will be given to them and that all concerned will do what they can to strengthen this purely voluntary attempt to instil at least a minimum degree of competence into those I am describing.
Not very long ago a conference was sponsored by the Royal College of Surgeons to look into accidents of all kinds. A working party produced a very constructive and helpful report in advance of the conference and, as a result, consideration was given to setting up a body of medical people whose knowledge and experience would be available for those responsible for presenting young people challenges in which danger exists. For example, the knowledge in the medical world of the risk to young people of exposure and how to deal with it is far too limited in scope. It is a relatively new line of country. If people have put at their disposal highly qualified knowledge on this subject, and perhaps later a handbook on the subject, then the problems which arise in many circumstances will be avoided. Without this, some serious risk of loss of life might ensue.
In the same context there is the question of the type of clothing which ought to be worn by people going out in all weathers to undertake hazardous adventures. I understand that valuable experiments are being undertaken into this subject, and we in Outward Bound are paying great attention to the opportunities which we have for testing materials and equipment of all kinds. I hope that the Government will regard themselves in this matter not only as the provider of money but as the dispenser of knowledge which exists in one place for the benefit of others who may in that way more readily be able to use it.
Our efforts to improve safety are not, of course, in any way intended to minimise the adventurousness of the various activities which are undertaken. On the contrary, they are intended to make people more willing and keen to participate because they know that unnecessary risks are eliminated. For this reason, in my view, the Government themselves have a very important rôle to play in the development of all manner of activites, mountaineering expeditions, sailing or whatever it may be.
I hope that, as a result of this useful debate, the Government will feel that they have the backing of both sides of the House in playing a far more positive rôle than has been customary hitherto in developing administrative measures, greater facilities, and the like, not only from the point of view of the need to fill leisure intelligently but also in order that our people may be more healthy and more balanced, to the great benefit of British society as a whole.
I hope that the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Sir S. Summers) will forgive me if I do not follow him. There is very little time left.
All hon. Members will agree that music today plays an extremely important part, perhaps an increasingly important part, in people's lives. To a certain extent, the measure of its importance is not realsed by people in many of the advanced societies because music has become, often regrettably, a background to their lives of which they are not particularly aware.
Professional musicians in this country have achieved exceptionally high standards. Our symphony orchestras are to to be compared with symphony orchestras anywhere in the world. The major broadcasting orchestras and musicians have similarly high standards. As an ex-working musician myself, I am well aware that, during the period since the end of the war, the semi-professional and the professional musician in almost all kinds of music has attained a very fine standard of reading and technique. Among the public, too, there has, in recent years, been a growing interest in music because of its more ready availability through modern mechanical media, recordings, tape recorders and the like. But the case which I wish to advance is that, if these mechanical media are not controlled, the musical profession will face an uncertain future.
I have said that the standards of professional musicians in this country today are high. I suggest that they are high because the men at the top of their profession rest, as it were, upon a fairly broad base of musicians of lesser ability. I put it to the House that, if we do not have a broad base from which musicians can go to the top of their profession, the standards at the top will surely suffer in the coming years, and, as I see it, there is a danger of this happening.
There has been a radical decline in employment opportunities in the musical profession during the past few years. The general secretary of the Musicians' Union gave an example to the National Music Council conference in June, during the Brighton Music Week, pointing out that, whereas some years ago there were in Brighton about 400 professional musicians employed, there is regular employment today for little more than 40. A similar situation exists in my own area.
Throughout the country, as in London, hundreds of theatres have closed during the last decade. Although it might be suggested that the standard of musicianship in many of these theatres before the war was sometimes not particularly high, it is nevertheless true that many musicians who later went to the top of their profession gained the necessary experience in that kind of employment. To give one notable example, I understand that Sir John Barbirolli began his musical life in a cinema playing the 'cello.
It is not only a matter of declining employment opportunities in theatres. There is a similar situation in the dance halls. Some hon. Members might consider that this kind of music is not particularly important in the nation's cultural life, but I suggest that there are only two kinds of music—good music and bad music, depending on how it is played. I have had a little practical knowledge of the difficulties which experienced musicians have had and are having in getting work in the dance halls. Moreover, it is not often recognised that in serious music the total scope of employment for musicians in symphony orchestras, ballet, opera and broadcasting embraces only about 1,500, and this creates, perhaps, fewer than 40 vacancies in any one year.
In this situation, more help and encouragement than we have had hitherto should come from the Government. We are told that we now have nine symphony orchestras in Britain, and this is much better than at some periods in our history, but it is worth pointing out that, for example, Germany has 100 orchestras, and that countries with much smaller populations do better than we do. For instance, Switzerland and Holland have proportionately many more orchestras than we have. Only three of the four London orchestras receive any kind of financial assistance, and the total grants which these three receive from the Arts Council and the London County Council equal only one-quarter of the subsidy which one orchestra in Germany, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, receives.
I hope that there will be a better approach to this matter in future. I think it right to address myself here to the Opposition Front Bench rather than to the Government Front Bench. My hope is that we shall have greater Government subsidy for our symphony orchestras and for music generally. Although local authorities are taking small advantage of the provision in the 1948 Act which allows them to spend up to a 6d. rate, if they were given more encouragement by the central Government much more could be done in the building of theatres and concert halls, the putting on of concerts and dramatic performances, and so on. I close by asking my hon. Friends on the Front Bench to consider the question whether, when a Labour Government are returned, as they surely will be in October, if a local authority is prepared to spend money on purposes of this kind under the 1948 Act, the central Government will think of giving a proportion of money themselves according to the amount spent by the local authority.
This has been an unusual debate. It is three years since we last had any sort of debate on leisure as a wide-ranging subject, as distinct from special aspects of it, and this debate has been remarkable for the high standard of the contributors—I hope that it will be maintained till the end—who have brought unique and varied experience to bear upon the matter. The Joint Under-Secretary of State certainly did another four-minute mile in his speech, and I think that he was fully justified in so doing. Indeed, if one can offer any criticism at all on that aspect of the matter, it is that we have had a rather short debate on a very important subject.
This debate takes place at a critical time. I put the provision for leisure alongside health, education and welfare as one of the aspects of life for which it is the Government's job to provide. All of us—this must be said again—start from the point of view of the individual. It is not our job or our desire to organise individual leisure, but it is very much our responsibility to see that all individuals, irrespective of their tastes or aptitudes, can enjoy to the full what they want to enjoy. I say that the debate comes at a critical time because—here I disagree with the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Sir S. Summers)—we are facing both a shorter working day and a shorter working week. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) that we should be putting our heads in the sand if we ignored both these trends and did not plan for both a shorter working day and a shorter working week, treating them separately. They present two very different problems.
These things are happening at a time when there is much greater affluence. I can tell the Under-Secretary of State that we on this side do not sneer at affluence. Indeed, if I have one criticism to make of his speech—I do not want to be too critical—it is that there was throughout his remarks the strain that it is not the duty of the Government to enable people to enjoy themselves. In my view, it is. Why on earth should we apologise for making people happy and able to enjoy themselves? Why should we attack '"spectatorilis", on which the hon. Member for Aylesbury cast aspersions? At this moment, millions of people are dutifully tuned into the broadcast reports of the Test Match. Why not? It is a matter of great national concern. It was a matter of great mourning for those who could not get to Ascot on Friday and Saturday. I feel the same about the sport which I hold dear. We have not provided imaginatively enough for spectator interest. Although we all want to encourage people to participate, there is nothing wrong in recognising that sport at its highest is also great entertainment. It ought to be entertainment, and it serves this nation jolly well. We should not apologise for spectator sports.
The case for a coherent strategy has been well made out. This is the great criticism we make of the Government, that in their approach to these matters, in the speeches we have had from the right hon. and learned Gentleman when he was in another place and from other Government spokesmen, there has been no appreciation of the need for a coherent strategy in planning for leisure. All the recital of information which the Under-Secretary gave us today about the number of people going on holidays and so on was very important, interesting and noteworthy, but it was further evidence of the Government following events. There is no sign of the Government anticipating events or providing for them.
Today, there are 7 million motor cars on our roads. In a short time, there will be 11 million, and we shall soon have about 20 million people cruising about the countryside in their motor cars at weekends, not knowing where to look, not knowing where to go, but wanting somewhere to look and somewhere to go. Even the Minister of Transport, although he might well not like it, is very much involved in the provision for leisure.
Five or six different Ministries are concerned here, and this is why my hon. Friends have made the case that the structure of Government in this connection is wrong and that we really ought to have a senior man taking over responsibility. Because we want more Government support in leisure, we want this man to be a Cabinet Minister, preferably a Cabinet Minister without Portfolio. He would not be an additional Cabinet Minister, but beneath him he would have a Junior Minister far more actively encouraging the arts, recreation and sport than is being done at the moment.
I am glad that some hon. Members mentioned education. Education, particularly its content, is very important. This might be thought to be outside the scope of the debate. I would not like there to be any political interference with the content of education. I understand that the Ministry is doing some good work, and I want to say a few words of encouragement. Perhaps one of the most important things we can do is to enable people to make intelligent choices in leisure. We must enable people to enjoy whole life, to be whole men. Nourishing the mind and extending the body physically should be our concern.
Although we on this side want a Minister with major responsibility, who would have a junior Minister under him, I want to make it clear that we would use all the voluntary agencies. We are very much opposed to any political interference in sport, art or anything else. There are some good agencies—for example, the Arts Council, the National Parks Commission and the National Trust. It would be very much our concern to use these agencies, in addition to which we would want a sports council, which the Government have consistently opposed. Incidentally, the Joint Under-Secretary spoke in favour of a sports council in the House. I regret that he has not been able to convert his right hon. and learned Friend to this very intelligent point of view. I hope that even in the last few months of this Parliament a sports council will be set up.
The Joint Under-Secretary quoted some figures on finance, which he frankly told us we have not got in front of us. This puts us rather at a disadvantage. When Ministers quote from figures they usually let hon. Members have the source of their information and see that it is before the House of Commons. It is clear, even from the Command Paper which I mentioned in an intervention, and on which the Government now rely, that the £35·1 million about which the Under-Secretary spoke includes almost everything under the sun—cemeteries, flower beds, Royal Parks, youth clubs and education. It is not possible from analysing these figures to find what the Government are spending.
The greatest single obstacle to doing things about leisure is the block grant system of financing local government. This system was designed to stop local authorities being encouraged to expand or, at any rate, to ensure that if they did so they got no help from the Government. The first thing that must be done is to stop the block grant system. We on this side of the Committee accept the commitment that we return to a percentage grant system in education and leisure. If we want theatres, sports grounds, recreation centres, and so on, we accept the responsibility that we, as the Government, must help to provide and finance them.
I am glad that the Under-Secretary mentioned the youth service. I am delighted to know that it is doing well. I had the honour and privilege to serve on the Albemarle Committee. It is five years since that Committee produced its Report. I remember the great arguments that we had on the Committee about how many full-time youth leaders there should be. We pitched it at the lowest possible figure, on the ground that this was all we could expect the Government to provide. We obviously pitched it too low.
I am glad that one or two of my hon. Friends mentioned boredom. I agree that this is a great factor. This was borne home on me at Whitsun when I sat in the Winter Gardens, Bournemouth listening to a rather remarkable—indeed striking—performance of Tschaikovsky's Piano Concerto while the "mods" and "rockers" were gathered outside smashing the windows in. The extra percussion effects were not appreciated. The performance was ruined for those sitting inside. We appreciated afterwards when we looked at these people that they did not know how to start providing for their leisure. Leisure, what life is for, its ethical content, indeed its spiritual content, is not being got over in our schools. We must accept a great share of responsibility for that.
We on this side think that the method of setting up the Arts Council is first class. We do not complain about much of its work. The great complaint we have about the Arts Council is that it is not given enough money. This is a complaint against the Government. There is so much more the Government could do. We believe that there should be no more closing of theatres. We believe that we should actively encourage the opening of theatres and concert halls. The Government accept the standard of one concert hall per 100,000 of population. This does not overstate the need.
We would certainly encourage the Arts Council in its great work. My hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. W. T. Rodgers) made the point that we provincials recognise that all the great centres of art—Covent Garden, the National Theatre, and so on—must be in London. Nobody objects to this. They are provided for, in the main, by taxpayers living outside London. Those of us who come from the Provinces, Scotland and Wales are entitled to much more value for our money than the Arts Council can show us at the moment. I do not blame the Arts Council. I blame the Government for not making it possible for the Arts Council to make the tremendous art centres that we have available throughout the country.
Sport is important and is, perhaps, the greatest point of issue between us this evening. We are all committed to a sports council. At the moment five Government Departments are dealing with it—the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, the Scottish Office, the Commonwealth Relations Office, and now even the Foreign Office, which threatens the World Cup football matches, on the ground that if the East Germans win it might not be possible to have them over here. I know all the arguments about N.A.T.O. and the Berlin wall, but this is the very first time that a political decision taken by any Government in this country has interfered in sport. In that sense, it is lamentable.
There is no co-ordination or planning. On the subject of school halls, we cannot afford great community halls which are occupied for only 30 hours a week. Gymnasiums in schools must be available to the community in the evenings. On the question of planning, there is a magic formula—70 by 40—which education authorities are not allowed by the Ministry to exceed. Seventy by 40 may be all right for a school, but it is of no possible use for adult leisure and sport. It will take only one badminton court. If it was 50 by 50 it would take two. A hall 80 by 50 would provide three badminton courts and one basket-ball court.
There must be co-ordination about the provision of communal buildings, even in education. If we had the system which we on these benches want, the Ministry of Education would be kept up to scratch by the Minister responsible for sport. There would be a two-way traffic of opinion. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Daly ell) about providing help through the C.C.P.R. or a similar body—preferably the C.C.P.R.—towards the administrative costs of so many voluntary organisations which should be encouraged.
Apart from co-ordinating Government Departments, the other great case for a sports council is that we must stimulate, encourage and co-ordinate local government activity, particularly in the regions. We cannot have an Olympic swimming pool in every town, but we should have one in every region. Such decisions as where it should be, what the priorities are to be, etc., must be taken by somebody. This work should be undertaken by the Minister. I should like to see the C.C.P.R. acting regionally as the agent, bringing local authorities together and stimulating them to spend money. Under the 1948 Act local authorities can spend up to the product of a 6d. rate, but they are not doing it—first, because they get no grant incentive, and secondly, because nobody stimulates them. There is no coherent pattern of leisure.
The Ministry of Housing and Local Government, in blissful ignorance of the needs of the nation in respect of Olympic swimming baths, is still refusing permission to local authorities which wish to erect them. The Ministry is saying, "You may erect a swimming bath, but not one of an Olympic standard". I agree that we do not want baths of Olympic standards everywhere, but any authority which has the initiative and will to erect one in an area where one does not exist, particularly if one is needed, should not be refused permission to do so.
Many questions need to be asked by a sports council or a similar body. For example, what are the priorities—school halls, tracks or rinks? This is important if we are to have a sense of direction, because we must discover just what are the changing patterns of leisure, remembering that the demands for leisure-time facilities are changing all the time.
Do we want, nationally, another Crystal Palace? Probably not. Regionally, do we want more centres for the C.C.P.R., remembering that more sports recreational centres are of great importance? I believe that these centres are of great value and that their establishment should be encouraged whenever possible. Hon. Members have already spoken about the importance of research into the materials used in sports and other leisure pastimes, along with investigations into the best size of halls and so on.
I do not know why the Joint Under-Secretary was so shamefaced about giving the figure of £20,000 which had been made available to the Olympic team. I welcome that sum, although I believe that it was grossly inadequate. Nevertheless, it was a halting step in the right direction, although the choice which is posed should be considered. The Government decided to give the £20,000 before the teams are selected, so we do not know the basis on which the participants will be selected; for example, how many top-class international athletes will be competing as against those who need international competitive experience?
The general effect of the Government's parsimonious attitude is that people who should be competing in 1968 will not get the experience of competing internationally in 1964. The Government should not underrate the importance attached to international prestige gained at Olympic meetings. The average Briton places a great deal of importance in this international competition and realises that an up and coming sportsman is unable to do well unless he has sufficient training in an international atmosphere.
No one can know this better than the Joint Under-Secretary, and I hope that he will say that not only every athlete who can acquit himself well will be going to Tokyo this year, but that every up and coming athlete who should have a chance of competing internationally, but who will not be ready for perhaps four years, will also have an opportunity of going to Tokyo, otherwise we will be failing both our sportsmen and ourselves.
I agree that the pattern of recreation is probably moving away from team sports to individual pastimes like camping, canoeing and climbing. This is a good thing. Nevertheless, this means that we must not only cater for the 10-mile radius, to which reference is so often made, but we must also consider a sensible green belt policy. If we cannot build on the green belt, let us at least play on it. In the 80 to 100 mile radius we must ensure that the countryside is accessible to all people, and a great deal of improvement can be made here.
I urge the Committee to consider, for example, the Pennine Way. It was planned by the late Hugh Dalton in 1951. He said in 1952 that it would be opened the following year. On 14th July, 1952, the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) said he thought that it would be opened in the autumn of that year. It is still not open, 14 years later. That is typical of the lethargic approach about which we are complaining.
Access to the countryside is vital to people like ramblers, and although I do not wish to quote at length—because I realise that the Lord President is anxious to speak—I have received an example from the Ramblers' Association concerning the experience of ramblers from Morecambe who went on the Earl of Sefton's estate. That estate is noted for its grouse. Indeed, in 1913 an all time record bag was made there, of about 12,000 grouse. which were caught on the estate.
All right, shot—anyway, they were caught. On the occasion of which the Ramblers' Association complains the Morecambe ramblers were hailed by the keepers, who turned loudspeakers on them and said, "Are you coming down or will we have to come up and fetch you; or shall we set the dogs on you and tear you to pieces?".
Presumably the Morecambe ramblers, who were on a hill being addressed from below by the keepers, were extremely worried, to say the least. I see the Lord President leaning forward, anxious to rise to make his contribution to the debate. Since he complained about the Labour Party not being able to keep its hotheads in check, he might at least keep himself in check. I shall take an extra few minutes now.
When considering the question of recreation generally, there are many other points to consider, such as our coast line. There are about 800 miles of our 3,000 miles of coast line available for recreation. We must fight for these remaining miles and I hope that the next Government will do all within their power to keep them available for the public. I hope, equally, that the National Trust and Parks Commission will be given more powers to develop and so provide more centres and parkland for recreational purposes. The Youth Hostels Association can probably do more than anything else to get youngsters out into the countryside and thus out of trouble. At present the Association needs about £100,000 merely to stand still. That is a shocking indictment of the nation.
To sum up, the Labour Party initiated this debate because my hon. Friends and I recognise the magnitude of the problem and intend to meet it, to provide for it on an imaginative scale and to provide facilities right across the board for the arts, recreation and sport. We believe that it must be the responsibility of Government to take fresh initiatives and to co-ordinate activities and, where necessary, to provide the means to do this.
This Government have taken a few halting steps in this direction but have made no real progress because they have no basic philosophy of the fullness of life. They do not recognise the pressure of intelligent opinion and this is seen by their having appointed a Minister who is responsible for education to take some responsibility because, apart from the nature of that appointment, the very thing which sportsmen object to is the fact that that right hon. Gentleman has so much to do that it is inevitable that he will do little in this sphere.
For the nation as a whole, the purpose of leisure and of the facilities that the Government must provide for it must be to enable people to enrich their personalities and even to learn to derive pleasure from the luxury of doing nothing. In sport the great crime is to deny sportsmen the opportunity to develop the fullness of their potential and, for the nation, the great crime is for people to be unable to take intelligent choices. On each count the Government stand condemned.
We have had an interesting and constructive debate and, despite the attempt of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Denis Howell) to inject a little party feeling into his rapidly repeated peroration, I think that on the whole the Committee has been happy to discuss this important subject in a relaxed atmosphere, rather remote from party polemics.
I was grateful to the hon. Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu) for introducing this enormous subject in what I thought was a very thoughtful speech, although I do not agree with everything that he said. We have known each other for more than 30 years and have debated with each other on various topics on a great number of occasions. I have never enjoyed him better than when I heard him this afternoon.
There is, I think, no danger of either party underestimating the importance of this subject. There was a little skirmish between the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary about the two rival party pamphlets issued before the last election, but I thought that although there may have been a slight difference in reasoning the truth was that, independently, the experts on this subject of both parties had been working on extremely similar lines and had come to remarkably similar conclusions.
I am very glad that this should be so. I would agree that it is not by any means proved that this will be a great age of leisure as a result of the introduction of automation. I cannot say, of course, what will happen at the end of the century, but my own belief is that until the whole world is industrialised to an extent that does not appear to be about to happen within that period of time, there will not be leisure on that scale. All I know is that there is no sign at all of us, who have more than a little entered the age of automation, increasing the amount of leisure.
On that matter I differ from the hon. Member for Huddersfield, East. I have been particularly at pains to discover the situation. I asked my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour to give me the figures, not of the normal working week—which has, admittedly, consistently been reduced since 1945—but of the actual hours worked on the average. He informed me that in April, 1948, the average hours worked were 45·3. By 1955, the figure had gone up to 46·9. In 1963 it had gone down to 45·2, and in October, 1963, it had risen again to 45·6. It has therefore really been virtually constant over a period of much more than 10 years.
I believe that the proof of the matter is that, although automated processes, which cover a vast range of new industrial techniques, undoubtedly involve a great redeployment of the labour force, very largely centring round leisure pursuits, amongst other things, the total number of man hours worked does not necessarily drop as a result of the introduction of these processes.
This does not in the least invalidate any one of the arguments put forward on either side about the importance of leisure. I assure the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. W. T. Rodgers) that there is no danger at all on this side of the Chamber—and I should have thought on the other side—of allowing puritanical approaches to leisure to interfere with our policy. It was, in fact, a Conservative leader who said that the two great civilisers of mankind were increased means and increased leisure. Lest anyone should attack my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) in his absence, let me say at once that that was said on 3rd April, 1872, by Mr. Benjamin Disraeli, and it has been the philosophy of the party—which has never been a puritanical party—ever since.
In actual practice, we are in the presence of a very greatly intensified use of leisure—and this across the whole spectrum of recreational activity, from dancing to Bach to physical sports. The people of this country, far from suffering from "spectatoritis", are year by year spending their leisure hours with far greater intensity and far greater intelligence, though, of course, at a good deal more expense, in a whole variety of new and more exciting ways. That was my hon. Friend's object when he enumerated, as I would like to have done, some of the activities involved. I did not think that he deserved the rebuke of an hon. Member opposite. It is precisely because we have been studying the social tendencies of the last ten years that we have been able to initiate a new period of local authority and governmental interest in the subject; and that we have been able to achieve what I hope I shall be able to show the Committee is a considerable advance.
We are also in the presence of the fact that recreation in the age of automation is becoming a major industry. One sport that has recurred like a theme on many of the speeches, but it is only a mark of the way in which physical sport is developing and broadening its scope, is dinghy sailing. If, instead of the 13,000 people who ten years ago sailed of an afternoon, 250,000 sail, a new industry is born. That has gone on over the whole range of culture, reading and the arts and physical sports and right across the social spectrum.
The result is that this large new industry that has developed is very largely self-financing, but the question arises exactly of how to finance it, what part the Government or local authorities ought to play in it, what organisation ought to be used to implement the policy, and what policy in the end should be pursued within the organisation.
It does not follow, of course, that if we simply increase Government expenditure on these things without doing it intelligently and purposively, we increase facilities at all. Let us take as an example the sum of money made available for the Olympics. I do not for a moment argue whether that particular sum of money was correct or not. It was, as my hon. Friend reminded the Committee, the first major contribution a Government has made. It was part of the much larger appeal for £170,000 from industry and other generous donors.
What has to be guarded against if the Government are to subsidise individual activities, however praiseworthy, instead of taking them over—which is, I think, the common view expressed on both sides of the Committee—is to make sure that in any given case, and this was a particularly good case in point, we do not dry up the outside sources in proportion as we supply from Government sources. This becomes more than ever important when, as now, we are committed on both sides to spend no less than 41 per cent. of our gross national product through rates and taxes. It is not some great fundamental difference between the parties, but simply a question of the best approach to a difficult problem.
That brings me—I am afraid that I am rather foreshortening my remarks—to the organisational problem raised by the hon. Members for Huddersfield, East and Small Heath. Should we have a sports development council? Should we have a senior Cabinet Minister or a junior Cabinet Minister—or anybody—to coordinate? Should he be whole time, or should he have other occupations? These are not easy questions, but I hope that the Committee will bear with me if I spend a minute or two on them.
To begin with, I must at once say that I was always attracted to the sports development council. I had experience as Lord President with other bodies like the U.G.C. and the research councils which are administered in the kind of way that the Wolfenden Committee originally suggested for such a council. But a great deal of water has flowed under the bridge since that suggestion was originally made, and I think that if hon. Members opposite pursue the matter they will find, for instance, that the C.C.P.R. which originally sponsored the suggestion has, like myself, been rather steadily moving away from it, after having been initially attracted by it. Of course, the financial problem was the original reason why the Government rejected it. It is not altogether attractive as an administrative device to set up a body to grant aid to other bodies which by their nature are mainly supported by public funds, local or central. This is a bad administrative device, although I would agree that there are certain exceptional cases where this is done. But much more important is the absence of real function for such a sports development council. At bottom one cannot divorce the youth service from the educational service and one cannot divorce sport in education from education.
When we come to the question which I think is central to the whole of this problem—namely the supply of space, facilities and lard for recreation by adults—one cannot really divorce this from the whole question of town and country planning. What we have left is very little more than a fifth wheel to a coach. However, even then I was not myself against the proposal in its entirety. I am not saying that something might not evolve, but I can only tell hon. Members opposite what my own experience has been.
Originally, when I received these responsibilities from my right hon. Friend I intended to create an advisory council, advising me n my co-ordinating functions. which would have been in substance a sports development council without some of the objections raised against it. But when I came to try to appoint such a body I was faced with the following dilemma. In order to carry out the work which one has to carry out as a coordinator between the local authorities, the numerous Government Departments and the voluntary bodies, one must have access to the composite bodies, the C.C.P.R., the National Playing Fields Association, the Scottish Council for Physical Recreation and the British Olympic Association.
Either a sports development council is the same as those bodies, in which case it is really superfluous, or else it is different from those bodies, in which case it is really objectionable. One cannot divorce oneself from direct access to the bodies whose co-operation one really needs. There are no fewer than 300 governing bodies of sport in this country, and the sports development council would have to be representative of them. But how could it be representative of them unless it were to supersede the C.C.P.R. and the Scottish equivalent?
I do not want to be dogmatic about this. All I am saying is that the more I have examined this problem, the more certain I have been that, at any rate at this stage, we have been right, for purely pragmatic and administrative reasons, to go ahead with a partnership seeking by a small central organisation to co-ordinate the voluntary bodies, the local authorities, the local education authorities and the Government Departments into a cohesive team. As time has gone on I have become more conscious of the fact that we have largely won the confidence of the bodies with which we have been dealing.
I would say only this about the question of a senior Cabinet Minister. I asked the bodies if they would prefer one, and they said they would. But to think that in modern administrative conditions we are going to have a senior Cabinet Minister, in any Government of whatever political complexion, concerned solely with leisure is to delude oneself. Either one is going to have a senior Cabinet Minister with a lot of other responsibilities of one sort or another—because the moment a Prime Minister sees that there is a Cabinet Minister without a large Department under him. hon. Members would be surprised how much work he is given—or else one is going to deal with a Minister of State, a second-tier figure attached to one of the great Departments. I mention this not out of any sense of controversy but simply to say what my own experience has been in this matter.
We have developed very quickly both on the arts and on the sports sides. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath was wrong in saying that this White Paper covered every kind of activity other than sport. This White Paper from which my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State quoted, as the Appendix makes clear, was the result of my statement in another place in May last year. It was, in fact, one of the fruits of the function of coordination that the expenditure on sport and physical recreation should be isolated from other topics. The Appendix to the White Paper to which my hon. Friend referred was the outcome of that promise.
Expenditure on the arts has risen from £3 million in 1951 to £13½ million. Of course, this is only a very small part of the story. I wish I had time to develop the whole field of museums, entertainments, adult education by local authorities and central authorities, and educational broadcasting, all of which have enlarged the spectrum of culture and recreation in leisure in this country almost beyond recognition. If there had been time I would have liked to have given the Committee a much fuller account of that. In the meantime, on the narrower issue of sport we have pursued what I might call an eight-point policy—first, a more liberal policy of grants and capital expenditure to amateur sports clubs; second, that these grants should be available to single-purpose and not, as before, only to multi-purpose bodies. We have given increased grants to the governing bodies of sport both for administration—if I may say so to the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell)—and for coaching.
We have increased and are increasing our grants to the composite bodies—to the English and Scottish Councils for Physical Recreation and the National Playing Fields Association. We have liberalised our loan policy to local authorities. For instance, the amount has increased in 1964–65 to £20 million from £7½ million in 1959–60. We have started giving assistance to teams competing abroad, of which the Olympic team is by far the largest at the moment, but slowly we are approaching the question of other teams competing abroad.
We are undertaking the very thing which has been asked for in so many speeches, namely, an attempt to provide regional facilities by the co-operation of local authorities and composite bodies on the initiative of the central Government. We hope to have a whole series of sports development councils on a local basis spreading all over the country. Many of the things which have been called for are being undertaken by one body or another. There are Bisham Abbey, Lilleshall and Plas-y-Brenin under the C.C.P.R., and Glenmore Lodge and Inverclyde under the Scottish Council for Physical Recreation. Crystal Palace is another example of the same thing, with Olympic swimming facilities under the L.C.C.
I should like again to thank the hon. Member for Huddersfield, East for introducing this wide and important subject and to say how much I have enjoyed taking part in the debate. I hope that the few rather disjointed remarks that I have been able to make in the short time available have been of some assistance to the Committee.