Overseas Service (School Leavers)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th May 1965.

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11.5 a.m.

Photo of Mr William Molloy Mr William Molloy , Ealing North

I beg to move, That this House, whilst appreciating the effort that is being made to help the developing countries, and believing that the youth of Great Britain would welcome the opportunity to make an eflective contribution in this sphere, urges Her Majesty's Government to ensure that information and opportunities for all forms of service in overseas development are brought to the attention of students in our comprehensive, grammar and secondary modern schools, as well as those at universities, in the firm belief that the youth of our nation is eager and able to make its contribution to a better world. This Motion has tremendous ramifications, not only for the youth of our own country, but, I hope to show, for the youth of other countries as well, not only for white youth, but for black youth, brown youth and yellow youth. This subject matter is of incalculable propensity for goodness and betterment. It is a call which, if translated into action, will not only enrich the frontiers of understanding of our own young citizens, but will also spread this urgently required desiderata throughout many nations. It is, in fact, a two-way business. It is a two-way method of enlarging understanding.

I ought to explain at the outset that for the House to enjoy a full understanding of what I have in mind it will be necessary for me to sketch the current scene concerning aid to developing countries and, at the same time, to explain how I believe that the youth of our nation can add to what is now being done. The Motion also involves the United Nations and the efforts of that organisation and many of the agencies within it.

The year 1965 is known in United Nations circles as International Co-opera- tion Year. The hallmark of my Motion can be described as world co-operation designed primarily to start with all world youth. I have referred to the fact that 1965 is International Co-operation Year. On 21st November, 1963, the General Assembly of the United Nations passed this resolution: Convinced that increased public awareness of the extent and significance of existing everyday co-operation would lead to a better appreciation of the true nature of a world community and the common interests of mankind and that devoting a year to international co-operation would help to bring about increased world understanding and co-operation and thereby facilitate the settlement of major international problems…. Designates 1965, the 20th year of the United Nations, as International Co-operation Year. I should like to think that this House will join me in accepting this resolution as part of our contribution to International Co-operation Year.

Unfortunately, we live in a world of conflict. Conflicts seem to spring up at the least pretext and pretence. They seem to dominate mankind at all levels of our behaviour. Indeed, it is probably fair to say that one of the most shameful things of our behaviour is that conflict seems to dominate co-operation. Nevertheless, we have over the centuries groped forward, not because of conflict, but in spite of it, and we have groped forward because of a constant desire underlying all our motives to co-operate one with another. Therefore, I believe that part of our contribution in this year of international co-operation is to put a stronger accent on co-operation, rather than on conflict.

Regrettably, the co-operation of idiocy seems to be almost supreme, when we consider—I think that this is relevant to my argument and I hope to show that it is—the co-operation which we can achieve because of some terrible fear. Thus we have co-operation in the development of defence measures—in nuclear weapons. We have also heard over the past 12 months of a desire to co-operate in the uses of outer space. I will not say that this is a bad thing. I believe that we ought to learn from our errors of the past, and that if we are to explore outer space it ought to be done in a co-operative spirit.

I applaud this desire to co-operate in the examination of outer space, but it seems to me that we have got our priorities wrong. While peoples can co-operate in outer space we have not yet reached that position of sensible, intelligent co-operation in the uses of all the raw materials of this world constantly to raise standards of living, and, at the same time, to reduce the areas of conflict. I believe that our prime objective ought to be in co-operation to eliminate hunger, disease, ignorance, poverty and injustice, the elimination of which is most urgently required.

The contrasts are wholly repugnant. The march of economic and social progress is at one and the same time both breathtaking and negligible. It seems to me that the West goes bashing on almost regardless, whilst the East is groping and crawling towards a meagre standard of living.

I have a responsibility, I believe, this morning to sketch what is involved, what it is that really is sought to be done and what is being achieved. Despite the fact that, making comparisons with 20 or 30 years ago, there are remarkable advances, nevertheless they are puny in the global recognition of what we are attempting. I have also, I believe, a responsibility to show, because my Motion is concerned with the youth of our grammar schools and comprehensive schools and secondary modern schools, what is being done at university level—which is to be applauded. I would not wish anyone in the House to think that this Motion is in any way a criticism of what is being done at university level. Indeed. I applaud what is being done.

What I wish to see happen is the co-operation and aid coming from our undergraduates and graduates be extended to our State schools and, indeed, perhaps from there to other forms of organisations as well. Therefore, I believe I have this responsibility to outline the gravity of the situation, and to point to the bright star of opportunity which, I believe, will reveal itself during the remarks I have to make later.

It is a sobering thought to consider that two-thirds of mankind live in abject poverty, that in Asia, in Africa, in Latin America, sheer want plagues millions of human beings. They are not concerned or angry about their rates, or about a rise in taxation. They are too concerned simply with trying to keep body and soul together. When one realises that this applies to almost two-thirds of mankind perhaps we ought to take more time out to examine what is going on and, more important, what we ought to do to try to put it right, when we acknowledge, for example, that world food production is failing to keep pace with population, when we realise that half the world's population is totally illiterate.

Half the world's population may be a figure we cannot estimate or form a very good idea of. Even if we translate it into the figure of 1,700 million it is still a very difficult figure for one to comprehend, but I hope that it is enough, as it ought to be, to say that half the world's population, or 1,700 million human beings, are illiterate to compel us to consider very seriously what we in our nation ought to be doing to try to rectify this grievous situation.

In many parts of the world medicine is totally unknown. Indeed, some of the United Nations' reports on some of the developing areas are almost proud of the fact that now there is one doctor for 50,000 inhabitants. The truth is that millions live a more debilitated way of life than the animals of the areas in which they exist.

However, there is room for encouragement. These last few decades has been an age of immeasurable wealth. The advance of technological and technical skills and scientific ability, as I have said, is breathtaking. But I pause for a moment to ask the House to consider that perhaps far too often we in the West take for granted what we like to call today the simple things of life. We take for granted the bus, the train, the motor car, the hospital. If something has gone wrong in the household we simply say, "We will send for the plumber." Or if a member of the household is sick we simply say, "We had better send for the doctor."

All these things to us come quite naturally, yet for millions of human beings these are an absolute impossibility. They are terms which they do not understand, let alone use. We carry out the simple exercise of switching on a light, or pulling the w.c. chain; these are things we accept, yet for millions of people these are things which they have not even heard of. For multi-millions of our fellow creatures live in squalor, and darkness. They are born in darkness, they live in darkness, and they die in darkness. If I may say so, speaking parenthetically, I cannot imagine a more explosive situation, which is growing up in this respect, and which, in my view, is far more explosive than political differences.

As I have already mentioned, the United Nations have described this year of 1965 as International Co-operation Year, and they decided early in the 'sixties that this decade should be known as the Development Decade. Progress has been made. There has been a flow of goods and services and grants and long-term capital loans to many parts of the world, to many of the developing countries, but I submit that capital by itself is not a yardstick of success, and that it is rather the development of skills and the ability to use assets that we ought to be concerned about. Progress in this, an increase in training and in institutions and in co-operation between Governments, has been going on, but it has been going on too slowly. We have got to get a move on in this direction.

I would recommend to the House that for those of us who are deeply interested in this subject, and I believe that all of us ought to have some form of interest, it might be a good thing if we took time out now and then to read some of the works of Professor Ritchie Calder, who is such a humane authority. I ought to pay tribute, too, to the work of organisations within the United Nations. I know that titles like U.N.E.S.C.O. and U.N.I.C.E.F. perhaps do not carry a great deal of meaning to many people, but they are examples of the most sensible behaviour mankind has ever embarked on, and I would like to pay tribute to them here today.

There has been an expanded programme of technical assistance to help people prepare themselves in the developing countries so that they contribute to their own progress. There is, unfortunately, a great paradox here. Many of the younger countries assisted by technical aid discovered, when they began to investigate their own resources, that whilst our and other Western countries had given the help and assistance of top-flight engineers and people who can draw up blueprints, and build power plants, factories, hospitals and railroads, they lacked the artisans to carry out the grass root work.

An example of this imbalance is the Central African farmers who produce 100,000 tons of cotton and yet have to import every yard of cloth. They export the cotton, and this is a good thing, but one would have thought that they were entitled to have kept a proportion back with which to clothe themselves. This is one very small, almost miniscule, example of where we have, in some degree, missed the point. There are many examples where we have failed in this particular respect towards developing countries.

The nations of the West and the United Nations generally have provided scientists, but have forgotten the bricklayers, carpenters, joiners and concreters, men who understand and know how to operate a concrete mixer from behind and in front. We have provided doctors, but have forgotten the nursing orderlies and the boiler men in the hospital. We have forgotten sometimes, the nursing aids. Engineers have been provided but fitters and turners forgotten. There are scientists, but not enough laboratory assistants to sustain them.

This brings me to the essence of my Motion, because I believe that it is the young people in our schools, who are not necessarily going to a university who can fill this urgent gap. The young people of our secondary modern, grammar and comprehensive schools come into the picture in a very important way. I would like to explain the manner and method of co-operation existing between our universities and universities overseas. British universities have made a remarkable contribution in helping to staff universities in developing countries. They have also initiated, to a degree, co-operation between universities overseas and those in this country. We have an inter-university council, the Association of Commonwealth Universities and the rôle of the universities in this country. There is the committee for university secondment. I would like to see established a committee of secondment which embraces our secondary modern, grammar and comprehensive schools along the same lines.

The role of university secondment is particularly relevant to my proposition. Its aims are threefold, to disseminate information about overseas needs, to ensure that the existing machinery of recruitment is adjusted to meet new needs and to create conditions in which new forms of co-operation are possible. In addition to this, there is the provision of news-letters. This machinery provides us with an example of what could be done for school-leavers in State schools.

From this sort of co-operation and activity there spreads a relationship between cities. Many local towns and boroughs have adopted twinning systems by which they have become associated with cities on the Continent. This is a good thing and our universities have gone a little further. Durham and Leeds Universities have an association with Sierra Leone because Durham and Leeds have sent specialists to that part of the world. Edinburgh University has a medical link with Baroda, India, Liverpool University is in the process of forming a link in the faculty of chemistry with the University of Abadan. Swansea College, of the University of Wales, is in the process of forging a link in physics, chemistry and languages with Nsukka. Swansea, of course, is quite a remarkable town. It produces Welsh M.P.s with a liberal smattering of Irish antecedents for English constituencies.

With this background I believe that we can create a form of machinery for all our schools. What has been created in the field of universities should be translated now to our State schools. In our comprehensive, grammar and secondary modern schools we have sources of bubbling vitality. We have our future tradesmen, craftsmen, artisans and academics who can fill the gap I have been speaking of.

Photo of Sir Spencer Summers Sir Spencer Summers , Aylesbury

Will the hon. Gentleman not include independent schools, also, in this list?

Photo of Mr William Molloy Mr William Molloy , Ealing North

I am willing to include any school willing to make a sensible and useful contribution to what I have in mind. There is just as much vim and vigour in independent schools as there is in grammar and comprehensive schools.

The Prime Minister, at the Labour Party conference at Scarborough, said: In an advanced world, which had long by-passed the steam engine in favour of oil and electricity as a means of propulsion, we ought to be giving more thought to developing the research in this country for producing a little simple, one or two horse-power steam engine, because that is what the world needs, able to use local fuels and capable of lifting water from that ditch to those fields a few hundred yards away. Swift saw the answer and the problem in 'Gulliver's Travels', 250 years ago, when he said 'Whoever could' make two ears of corn or two blades of grass to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind and do more essential service to his country than the whole race of politicians put together'. I hope that the House will respond and join with me in proving that Dean Swift was wrong in one respect and that the politicians, at least in this country, wish to make their contribution as well.

The youngsters about whom I am talking would like to go out into a foreign field, not to die, but to explore life. They would like to go out to have the opportunity to tinker with an engine which will lift water from a stream to a field. This is what they would like to do, and I believe that the criticisms made of our youngsters are not valid. The essence of the criticism is that the youth of Britain today is determined to enjoy life. It is said that our youngsters prefer guitars to guns. This is a good thing. I have some experience of youngsters, in many organisations, and I think that we ought to be proud of our youth. They have wide interests and, above all, they have a remarkable degree of guts and gumption.

From time to time the oversplash of vitality goes in the wrong direction, and we hear criticisms of the so-called Mods and Rockers. All the Mods and Rockers do not come into the categories referred to by magistrates and some of our national newspapers when the oversplash happens to take a spin in the wrong direction. The youngsters of today have guts, courage and amazing vitality, and I hope that the Motion, if it is accepted, will help to exploit that vitality.

I believe that our youngsters have a right to be put on Parliament's agenda for discussion and for examination to see how they can help to make their contribution to world decency and good behaviour. I believe that this Motion will help both our young people and those overseas to achieve that desirable goal. Let us take all our fifth and sixth formers into our confidence. Let us provide them with opportunities to exploit their vitality and their inherent goodness. I pay tribute to the work of Voluntary Service Overseas. It is doing a very good job, but the Motion goes further than that because it includes all forms of service.

I come now to the practical objects which I have in mind. I do not wish to go into detail because, if my hon. Friend is prepared to accept the argument in principle, I do not wish to tie him down too rigidly to my ideas of how this vitality should be exploited, and how we should keep our school leavers informed about what they can do. I think that we should have some form of register for school leavers. This will enable us to keep in touch with them when they leave school and when they have taken up some form of additional training, or perhaps some form of apprenticeship. If they are on such a register, we can keep in touch with them and advise them how they can use their knowledge and skills in the developing countries. I hope that my hon. Friend will give this proposal some consideration.

We ought to encourage and channel this latent artisan force in our schools today. We ought to give a lead, not only in our schools, but in other organisations. If we start in our schools, other organisations will wish to become associated with what we are doing. Church and chapel organisations, and sports clubs will wish to be associated with our endeavours. If we tell our school leavers how they can contribute to overseas development, this will encourage other organisations to associate themselves with such a scheme which I should like to describe as an adventure of purposeful endeavour.

I have particular knowledge of young boys and girls in a comprehensive school, in a secondary modern school, and in a grammar school. For about eight years I have been a governor of Holland Park Co-educational School. It has a remarkable division line running through its catchment area. Members who have knowledge of the area will realise that Kensington High Street divides the catchment area; on one side there is South Kensington where the professional people live, and Fulham, where it may be said that the artisan population lives, and on the other there is Paddington, where one finds some of the blacker spots of London.

Children of all nationalities and colour attend that school, and it does one's heart good to visit the playground and see Gentiles, Jews, black, white and yellow children playing together. One comes across a variety of accents—English accents, European accents, and accents from all parts of the world. They all play together, fight together, and make it up together. Children who entered the school six years ago, at the age of 11 or so, have now grown into young men and women of 17 and 18, and we should all take cognisance of the example of this school. Children with all sorts of backgrounds—economic and religious—play together, and there is a remarkable degree of decent behaviour. It is, of course, necessary occasionally to discipline the pupils, just as in any other school, but one does not come across the more vicious things which are beginning to creep into our educational system, and which I deplore.

I also have experience of Stanhope Secondary Modern Boys School. The careers master there has given me information about some of the careers entered by past students. They include the medical profession, teaching, banking, the Civil Service, and all forms of research. Some of the boys have gone on to technical colleges. Many have taken up craft apprenticeships. Some have gone into the Armed Forces, while others have gone into the police, into farming, into plumbing and into engineering.

I also have knowledge of Elliots Green Grammar School, at Northolt. Youngsters from there have gone into teaching, scientific engineering, universities, banking, the Civil Service, the police, and agriculture.

What is particularly interesting is that in the end there is a similarity among these three schools. I cannot imagine a more concrete case for the abolition of the 11-plus than my experience of the end product of grammar schools, secondary modern schools and comprehensive schools. The pupils in these schools incline towards careers dealing with people.

I therefore submit that all three establishments of which I have some knowledge are veritable centres of initiative.

My idea is not intended to shake the world. Rather, it is an attempt to bind the nations together in tolerance and sanity. It is an attempt to widen the opportunities for people to assist in overseas development and to enable our youngsters, particularly those in grammar schools, secondary modern schools, and comprehensive schools, to make their contribution to what I would like to describe as the storming and capture, with moral zeal and dedicated action, of the commanding heights of world co-operation.

11.40 a.m.

Photo of Sir Spencer Summers Sir Spencer Summers , Aylesbury

I can hardly think that anybody will seek to oppose the Motion which has just been moved. Many of us should count ourselves fortunate that the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy) has chosen this subject to take advantage of his luck in the Ballot. In commending the Motion to the House he drew attention to the extent to which squalor, ill-health and under-nourishment exist in the world today, and implied that a move such as he has in mind could make a great contribution towards solving the problem. He also very properly alluded to the value of the increased understanding between nations which arises from young people coming together.

Because I want to confine myself to a very small part of the subject I start by saying that I hope that nobody will interpret anything I say as meaning that I do not attach as much value as the hon. Member does to those aspects of the subject that he has brought before us. I want to use this opportunity to say a few things which one does not often have the opportunity of saying in the House, and to applaud the splendid development that has taken place in this country, both among school-leavers and graduates, in developing Voluntary Service Overseas.

The information given in the latest Answer to a Question on the subject is that in this year about 1,200 graduates and 400 school-leavers plan to be sent abroad—a total of about 1,600. There are two aspects of this type of contribu- tion made by young people. There is the aspect of the value which this work is to them and the aspect of the value which it is to the country to which they go. We ought not to underrate the value to them of an experience of this kind.

A great deal is being done for young people in Britain at present, by boys' clubs, Scouts, the Boys' Brigade and the like, but there is a slight tendency to regard these organisations as no more than being valuable in keeping young people out of mischief and, perhaps, going a stage further and introducing them to a wise use of leisure. In my opinion we should go a great deal further than that. Much is being done for young people, but the time has come for us to lay greater emphasis upon the value of work which can be done by them.

There is no doubt that service by youth, whether at home or abroad, is immensely valuable. My experience of young people, derived from 20 years' association with Outward Bound, is that they have one paramount and passionate desire, namely, to grow up, to be seen to be growing up, and to be accepted as grown-up people. That is why those organisations which deal with young people find that if they are offered strong meat it is welcomed by them. They respond to it, because it indicates that they are being treated as grown-ups. In service abroad there is a manifest indication that people are being valued for more than their years of experience, and the scope for the discharge of responsibility in overseas work is even greater than it is at home.

I know that it is fashionable to contrast the effort made in this country with that made in the United States and to say that, excellent as the Peace Corps no doubt is, we should go about our business in a somewhat different way. I do not dissent from that conclusion, but in my opinion there is a slight tendency—which is unfortunate—to imply disparagement of the Peace Corps because it is seen as something which we ought not to copy.

I had some experience of the early operations of the Peace Corps which has given me the conviction not only that it does an immense amount of good for the countries to which it goes but that it has generated in the United States an immense feeling of service and inspiration in respect of what the young generation in the 1960s and 1970s can do. I came into the matter because those who were planning to send young Americans overseas—in many cases to countries where there was no ice water or steam heat—felt that the contrast would be so great that the experience of an Outward Bound course before they went would fortify them and strengthen their abilities to enable them to discharge their duties overseas.

They were sent to the Peace Corps field training centre in Puerto Rico to which I had the pleasure of going. I have had reports from there since, and there is no doubt that a tremendous sense of dedication and pride has been created among those who serve the Peace Corps. I mention this not to indicate that I dissent from the proposition that we should follow different methods, but to try to put right the idea of disparagement that is sometimes created, for the reasons that I have given.

Our people are recruited through various organisations, and it is interesting to note that whereas a Peace Corps recruit costs over £3,000 to train, send abroad and look after during this two years' service, the cost of a graduate from this country is no more than £650, and for a school-leaver no more than £400. We must not lose sight of the importance of the financial aspects of this matter, because if enthusiasm is generated by the proper suggestion that young people at school should have these opportunities brought to their notice, and they respond, somebody must organise them, perhaps train them, and certainly select them, and decide for what jobs overseas they are suitable, and so forth. A substantial financial responsibility is involved. I am glad that the last Government decided to increase the proportion of the cost which the Government were willing to bear, and I am glad that this Government, as I understand it, are continuing that arrangement.

During my association with Outward Bound I have had occasion, almost every other year for a long time now, to visit schools, run under Outward Bound auspices overseas, to which V.S.O. recruits have been seconded for a period of a year. These young men have been immensely valuable in those types of job to which they have been seconded. One of the difficulties of service by youth in Britain is the fact that positions of responsibility given to people at 18 or 19 years of age can produce an insufficiently large age gap between those who are supervising or controlling and those who are supervised or controlled. A range of three or four years is very often insufficient to establish that respect for authority which young people must have if they are to accept guidance.

This age gap is much less difficult to overcome abroad, and particularly so in Africa, because it is no reflection on the indigenous population of Africa where mass education has not yet had its effect, to say that someone of 18 in this county may well correspond to someone a great deal older in Africa. Certainly the right kind of person with the right tolerances and the like can, even at the age of 18, exert considerable influence over and attract considerable respect from those in Africa much older than himself.

This has been borne out in practice at the schools which I have visited. I hope, therefore, that the Government will continue to give every support to those admirable people who are organising these school-leavers, and graduates for that matter, because there are many cases where people going abroad can show the value of actual physical work—taking off their coats and doing it themselves—so dispersing the impression that the white man in Africa has thrived on the proposition that others do the work and he does the organising of it. There may be many opportunities for that notion to be dispelled.

I welcome very much the opportunity of touching on this subject and I hope that full support will be given by the Government to the idea that lies behind the Motion.

11.52 a.m.

Photo of Mr Thomas Williams Mr Thomas Williams , Warrington

I am sure that the whole House will join with me in congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy) on his good fortune in winning the Ballot and being able to present his Motion to the House. Hon. Members will equally, I feel sure, join with me in expressing to my hon. Friend our con- gratulations not only on his good fortune, but on the delightful and interesting way in which he presented the subject that he had chosen for the consideration of the House.

The matters of which my hon. Friend spoke are matters of genuine interest to all Members of the House. The sort of debate which he has initiated is the sort of debate that we have only too rarely in the House, but one which I have no doubt will reflect credit on all who take part in it.

I think that it was Hobbes who said in his "Leviathan" that the life of the poor was short, brutish and nasty. Although we in Britain have many problems, the people of our country have succeeded, perhaps better than those in most countries of the world, during the last 140 years or so in lifting themselves up, almost by their own bootstraps, from the position of which Hobbes spoke, when the child of working-lass parents was born in a hovel, lived in servitude to the factory or coal owner and ended his days only too often after a short, unhappy life in "the big house on the hill" to the position in which, by and large, we have a standard of living which makes it unnecessary for us to envy other people in the world.

Great privileges, however, impose upon the people who have them great responsibilities, and there are still in the world vast numbers of our fellow men of whom Hobbes's definition is still only too true. Squalor, ignorance, poverty, disease and death are still the constant companions of far too many of our fellow men. Bound as we are together in the bundle of life, it must be that for so long as these grim companions accompany so many of our fellows, the impact of their misery will affect the quality and the tenor of the life of us all.

We in the world have learned to live with fear, and, as far as we have been able, we have countered fear with force, We have built massive weapons of destruction so that the mutual terror of it all has brought a sort of unease between the nations which we call peace. And yet there are few people who, although they recognise the challenge of our time, have yet the courage to fight the world's despair with the weapons of peace and succour. The great efforts of our time, beyond the protection of our own standards, are surely those of succour, of knowledge and of a sense of belonging. The conflict that exists between men arises not only from fear but from need, and the need of the world is a challenge to us all, and especially to those of us who have great privileges. We must meet that challenge not only with the weapons of fear and force but also of co-operation and good will.

Before the present Government were elected to power our spokesmen often talked of devoting something like 1 per cent. of the national budget to the task of relieving the vast area of human misery and human need. I recognise, of course, that the Government once in power have had many problems to face, some of which, we are told, struck them more hardly than they knew. Yet the contribution that is to be made by the Government to the need of the world is, perhaps, the Government's greatest challenge. The challenge to the Government is to relate the pledges that they gave before the General Election to the contribution that they are now making to this end.

In his Motion my hon. Friend invites the Government to ensure that information and opportunities for all forms of service in overseas development shall be made available. It would be of interest to the House and, I believe, to the country and the world to know what part of our budget in toto is now devoted to the work of overseas development and education in all its forms. If we were to devote 1 per cent. of the national budget for these purposes we should be contributing something like £60 million a year or more.

The organisation which most particularly in the voluntary field does work in overseas service is the International Voluntary Service. The organisation in Britain has to work on a budget of little more than one-third of £1 million. Yet, with that limited budget, and, I understand, a total staff in Britain of fewer than 20 people, the organisation succeeded last year in placing 321 British volunteers in short-term overseas projects of the Civil Service International of which the I.V.S. is the British branch.

In 1964, the I.V.S. sent out 40 volunteers to under-developed areas of the world, where they played their part in teaching, in working, in nursing, building, agriculture and social work, giving at least a year's service and receiving in return nothing more than their fares, simple food and accommodation and very moderate amounts of pocket money.

Valuable as is that work, the fact is that the I.V.S. in putting forward its proposals in 1965–66 cannot look any further than the possibility of sending 80 to 100 volunteers for long-service work and 400 to 500 people for short-service work of anything between three weeks and 12 weeks. Tremendous need exists over and beyond anything that the I.V.S. could do or could even hope to do to ameliorate the misery and tragedy in the lives of so many people living in squalor and poverty. That being so, I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will give us a picture of what, if anything, the Government propose to do to meet more immediately and more generously the work of organisations of this kind and to see whether it is possible, within a budget for overseas aid to which the Government are turning their attention, for the Government to make use of organisations of this kind and to facilitate their work and underpin it.

It is true that through the Lockwood Committee the Government make available sums of money for the assistance of overseas voluntary organisations, but in relation to the tremendous need, the contribution made, particularly in this voluntary field, is miniscule. I hope that my hon. Friend can give some encouragement to these organisations and some hope that in future years the Government will make far geater use of their services. I add to the plea made by my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North that within the field of Government activity, also, the Government will encourage those of us who look to them for the implementation of their undertakings and that at some time they will seek to make available much more substantial sums of money for the purposes of overseas development in the undeveloped areas of the world.

In recent years it has been my privilege, with other hon. Members, to visit areas like Africa and the Middle East and there to see the tragedy of vast numbers of people who are living in ignorance and squalor, who know only too well that it is to be without comfort and in many cases even without hope.

To see the tragedy of their lives and the attempts made, often against overwhelming odds, by voluntary organisations of the kind of which I have spoken, and by the United Nations agencies, and recognising that the part played by all these organisations is but touching the fringe of the great human need that they attempt to meet, is to be faced with a situation of hopelessness, of despair, or inadequacy, which may never be remedied except by vastly increased Government aid.

We in this country have played a not discreditable part in sending overseas countries people who can govern and give leadership engineers, doctors, and the like, but we have failed to provide artisans and semi-skilled who can teach unskilled people. I ask the Minister whether and what consideration he has given to spreading, through the schools and trade unions, through the publications of voluntary organisations, and such other means as are open to the Government, what has been done and what it is proposed to do to make more widespread the opportunities for overseas service among semi-skilled persons; and to link with that—for it must be linked—what his Department is hoping to achieve in making it possible for these people to go, by providing them with an income and means of living while they are abroad.

Although it is tremendously to the credit of the voluntary organisations who make great sacrifices, as do the people who go to these countries, I suppose it is not possible for large numbers of people whom we ought to be sending to be able to live on the same basis as the volunteers and to go for a year or so.

Human misery knows no national or racial barriers. Human need is equal and its clamant demand is equally great whether the hands raised or the voices calling out are those of pink, brown or black people. Even though we are not without our problems in Britain, we recognise the grievousness of the situation abroad, and recognise that, as we are one human family bound in the bundle of human life, in the end the only way by which we can live in the world in peace is by men and women working and living together in good will.

The evidence of good will is the willingness on the part of the Government to whom we look for a lead in giving to the under-privileged and the under-developed, the humble and the poor, whose lives are now so short and brutish and nasty, the opportunity and the hope of being brought properly into the human family.

12.10 p.m.

Photo of Mr Philip Goodhart Mr Philip Goodhart , Beckenham

I was a little surprised to hear the hon. and learned Member for Warrington (Mr. W. T. Williams) lending his distinguished support to the plea by the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy) to extend greatly the number of semi-skilled and unskilled workers who are sent abroad by this country for voluntary work.

Although, without any doubt, the demands for skilled workers, particularly skilled teachers, is very high, indeed insatiable, I cannot believe that any advantage will be obtained by spending large sums of money to send semi-skilled bricklayers to Nairobi, Mauritius and Bombay. There is already a vast number of such men in these countries who have difficulties as it is in finding employment. It is the skilled men for whom there is a demand and not the semi-skilled and unskilled.

I was interested in the remarks of the hon. Member for Ealing, North, about the Holland Park comprehensive school. I happen to live in the road almost adjacent to the school. I can certainly join with him in paying tribute to the ingenuity and energy of these children, some of which, alas, is only spent in snapping wireless aerials off the cars parked in front of my house. If the hon. Member can do anything to get my wireless aerial back, I should be very pleased. I am sure that many of these pupils will go forward in time to do voluntary work of perhaps a more constructive nature, not only locally but overseas as well.

The hon. and learned Member for Warrington and the hon. Member for Ealing, North, during the election campaign and in the years before the last election, joined with other members of the Labour Party in saying that a great increase should be made in this country's contribution to overseas aid. I doubt whether any hon. Members sitting oppo- site dissented in any way from that cry, but unfortunately, as in so many cases, it looks as though the practice of a Labour Government will be very different indeed from the promises which were held out.

I shall be exceedingly surprised if the overall contribution made by Great Britain to overseas aid and investment in the under-developed countries does not this year decline. There will certainly be a change in the very sharp increases which have come about in recent years. Certainly, on Monday, we were given the stock words on the subject by the Chancellor of the Exchequer during the debate on the Second Reading of the Finance Bill. We heard of the way in which the operation of the Finance Bill will reduce the amount of investment overseas, of which a considerable amount would go to the under-developed countries. I hope that a similar fate will not befall the pro-programme for overseas volunteers, in which a very sharp increase is being undertaken. I think that it ought to avoid the poised Government axe, because it is comparatively cheap, certainly for the amount of publicity which it receives and the amount of good will which it generates.

If there is an increase in the sort of publicity which the hon. Member for Ealing, North, wants and a continuation of the great extension which we have had in the last five years and which was channelled so effectively by my right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr), when he was at the Department of Technical Co-operation, there will be considerable problems in the Voluntary Service Overseas movement. Expansion will undoubtedly bring very great problems in its train, of which the first which we shall have to tackle seriously will be the problem of leadership and care overseas.

I am delighted at the way in which my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Sir S. Summers) talked about the contribution which the American Peace Corps has made. It has tackled this problem of local leadership and support for volunteers in an extremely imaginative fashion. In every country in which the Peace Corps operates there is a local director, often a man of very distinguished capabilities. For instance, the leader of the Peace Corps in Nigeria was previously the headmaster of the best American public school. The leader of the Peace Corps in Nepal has climbed Mount Everest, which must give him a certain amount of local prestige. In country after country, there are local Peace Corps directors, men of the highest calibre, backed up by an organisation which some of us might think is excessively large, but which is certainly vigorous and efficient.

It is miraculous that, in view of all the enemies which America has in the world, certainly in the under-developed countries, there has been, during the last four or five years, almost no local friction involving American Peace Corps volunteers. I can think of one unfortunate incident in Nigeria about four years ago, but none since then. A great deal of this achievement is due to the fact that they have first-class people in the overseas countries who can look after the volunteers and step in if there is any sign of trouble. Naturally, with our smaller number of volunteers, it is impossible for us to duplicate this form of organisation.

In the past, the care of our volunteers in overseas territories has often been left, on a rather hit-or-miss basis, to the embassies or High Commissions or to employees of the British Council, all of whom have a full-time job of their own to do although, because of the value of the work of these volunteers, they devote much of their own free time to looking after them. As the number of our volunteers increases sharply, it will be more and more difficult for people in the embassies and High Commissions and British Council employees to do this work on a part-time basis, and I hope that the overseas representatives of the Ministry of Overseas Development will devote a considerable amount of their time in future to looking after our volunteers.

The next problem is that of selection. I have had an opportunity of looking at the selection work done by the American Peace Corps, and its scope is quite staggering. An enormous machine exists for checking references. Ten doctors are working full time on the headquarters staff alone. I was assured when I was there, some months ago, that to keep an annual flow of 8,500 volunteers in the field would require a full-time selection staff at headquarters of no fewer than 150, most of whom would have to have psychiatric training.

There is not much need for us to try to duplicate this sort of machine in this country. One can almost say that in the past anyone who has volunteered has virtually selected himself, because so little was known about the scheme that to know about it at all suggested what the American selectors would call a high degree of motivation and also great ingenuity in hearing about the scheme. But as the publicity and knowledge of our scheme increases, it will be more important for us to improve the selection machinery.

The next problem is that of training. It seems to me that the volume of training given to many of our volunteers going overseas is inadequate. I know of a case not very long ago in which five volunteers, all school-leavers, went to a country in Latin America to teach English in the schools. Not one of them had had any experience or training of any sort in teaching, and I am informed that not one of them knew any Spanish, which was the local language. In fact, it all worked out splendidly, and they made a valuable contribution in the 12 months they were there, but this was a matter of chance and good luck and it could have gone badly wrong. One needs greater training before volunteers go out to these countries.

Two years or more ago the American Peace Corps received a request from the Indonesian Government to supply a number of athletics coaches. The American Peace Corps decided that they would try to do this, and about 18 coaches were assembled and given a 14-week course in Indonesian at a university. The coaches were divided into groups and put in rooms of four, in each of which there was an Indonesian student. They ate at tables of three or four, and at every table there was an Indonesian student. Every morning and every evening Indonesian music and Indonesian broadcasts were channelled into their rooms.

At the end of three-and-a-half months, these coaches, who had previously had no knowledge of Indonesia, could get their views across in Indonesian to the Indonesians. I can think of forms of training which I would not want given to the Indonesians at this moment, but it seems no bad thing that the Americans undertook to teach them to take a running jump. I understand that these coaches remain in Indonesia at present.

This is one example of the depth of effort, drive and imagination which the American Peace Corps put into their training programme. Of course, it can go badly stray. A distant cousin of mine volunteered for the Peace Corps some years ago. He was trained in Swahili and then sent to teach in a school in East Africa in an area where Swahili never had been spoken and never will be spoken. Nevertheless, I have shown the efforts which have been made.

Our equivalent to these enormous courses in America is four or five days at the Dartford College of Physical Education. I have the programme for the last course. I am sure that it was a very good course, and that the people concerned with it are extremely hardworking and dedicated to their work, but as an introduction to a year's work overseas it is not, I think, adequate at all. If we are to have a greatly expanded programme, we must pay much more attention to the problems of training.

Photo of Sir Spencer Summers Sir Spencer Summers , Aylesbury

When my hon. Friend is drawing attention to the inadequacy of training, has he in mind the school-leaver or the graduate? Is not the graduate comparable with his Peace Corps counterpart, rather than the school-leaver?

Photo of Mr Philip Goodhart Mr Philip Goodhart , Beckenham

Perhaps so, but I should have thought that the school-leaver required more training than the graduate. It might be argued that at 18 one is more adaptable than at 21. At the same time, at 18 one is obviously less mature and less able to cope with the problems that arise. That is why it might be said that the school-leaver needs as much initial training as the graduate.

Photo of Dr Wyndham Davies Dr Wyndham Davies , Birmingham, Perry Barr

Would my hon. Friend not agree that it is important to enlarge the flow of graduates into voluntary service overseas, that it is this need that should be stressed at the moment and that, to do this, extra Government action, as well as assistance from the universities, is needed?

Photo of Mr Philip Goodhart Mr Philip Goodhart , Beckenham

I agree that it is on the graduate side that one hopes for the greatest advance. This was foreshadowed in the programme laid down by my hon. Friend when he was at the Department of Technical Co-operation. It is there that the greatest expansion is taking place. One must remember that to get 1,500 graduates from this country—a programme which, I think, is by no means excessive—requires almost 3 per cent. of our graduates coming out of the universities in the next couple of years.

Although the numbers may sound small, we should be under no illusion about the size of the contribution we are hoping to achieve. We must also remember that the number of graduates we have is much smaller than the number available in America and that to try to achieve a graduate contribution comparable with America would require much greater help.

If we are to have increased training, leadership and support in countries overseas, increased work done on selection and greatly increased publicity of the sort the hon. Member for Ealing, North wants, it would be much easier to do that in a nationalised as well as a national effort. In other words, with an overall umbrella organisation like the American Peace Corps there would be likely to be greater results compared with trying to co-ordinate the work of a lot of voluntary organisations.

I have seen something of the work of the American Peace Corps, as a result of which I am perhaps less frightened of nationalisation in this sphere than are a number of my hon. Friends. However, I entirely support the views in the pamphlet prepared by my noble Friend the Member for Hertford (Lord Balniel), in which he stated: We are convinced through that voluntary service, and in particular voluntary service organised not by government but by voluntary organisations, has a distinctive and peculiarly valuable part to play.For the overseas country, the help given by volunteers should come with an enthusiasm, a freshness and friendliness, which is particularly attractive. It is also, we believe, less liable to arouse fears of 'neo-colonialism' so often engendered by purely governmental programmes of technical assistance. I agree with that and I believe that if there is complete nationalisation of the voluntary service overseas movement something valuable will result. It should be the rôle of the Government to buttress the voluntary organisations and improve co-ordination but, at the same time, to leave them to do the excellent job they are now doing. I think that all hon. Members agreed with the closing words in the pamphlet: For some people a period of service overseas is perhaps the most effective means by which this desire"— to serve— can find expression. It is to give them the opportunity to enrich their lives by helping others, to meet in so doing the need for developing countries, that we must, with imagination, expand our voluntary service effort overseas Not only do we provide a channel for service, but we build a bridge between those two worlds—the rich and the poor.

12.37 p.m.

Photo of Mr Ioan Evans Mr Ioan Evans , Birmingham, Yardley

The hon. Member for Beckenham (Mr. Goodhart) made an interesting and informative contribution to the debate. While he dealt primarily with the American Peace Corps, I will not develop that theme, except to say that the experience of the Corps must be of value in considering the contribution which we can make. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy) on initiating this interesting debate. It is a good sign for the future that whereas we in Parliament are divided on many important and vital issues in politics and economics, on this question of assisting the under-developed areas there is almost complete unanimity.

We debated this subject at the time of the formation of the Ministry of Overseas Development. We had another interesting debate in Committee on the Overseas Development and Service Bill. We found that while the Government were increasing their economic assistance to the underdeveloped areas, hon. Members opposite were encouraging the Government to increase their overseas aid still further. This augurs well for the future.

In discussing what we can do to assist overseas territories we must remember the significant move made by the Government in the creation of the Ministry of Overseas Development. This shows that on the agenda in the Cabinet the question of assisting the people of these areas will take a high priority in the years ahead. There is no doubt that while there are many serious problems confronting humanity, the huge problem of world poverty must be in the forefront of our minds.

The fact that the Northern Hemisphere—because it is a question of North and South rather than West and East—has higher living standards, yet in the Southern Hemisphere people are living in abject poverty, must remind us of the phrase used by Lord Beveridge: … living in poverty, squalor, want, disease and ignorance. We must increasingly concern ourselves with these problems as we move forward to various scientific changes.

Reference has been made to the work of the United Nations Agencies, such as U.N.I.C.E.F. and U.N.E.S.C.O., and it is significant that this Government should have appointed a Minister to the United Nations, which must inevitably play an increasing part in seeing that the more developed nations help the developing countries in the Southern Hemisphere.

Further, the Government have appointed a Minister of Disarmament. If we are to devote more thought to helping these countries, and if we are to give them increasing aid, we must have regard to our economic resources. It is tragic that we should be living in a world that is spending about £50,000 million on an arms race that no one wants and should think that we are being good if we devote 1 per cent. of that sum to those in need. The world must think more and more about solving these people's problems and of getting away from the arms race where so much of our resources is being wasted.

Those three aspects—the creation of a Ministry of Overseas Development, the appointment of a Minister to the United Nations Organisation and of a Minister of Disarmament—show that this Government are realising the need to move towards greater internationalism.

Thought must also be given to increasing our economic as well as our financial aid. Public opinion at home must be enlightened so that our people are willing to devote more of their resources to this sort of help. The United Nations Agencies can do a lot to help, but we must also pay tribute to the work of our own voluntary organisations. This is Christian Aid Week. Christian Aid is doing good work in raising money for voluntary work and in drawing attention to the needs of the people in these areas.

Oxfam has done a great deal, not only in raising money but in making us realise what a great deal a small contribution can do to help poverty-stricken areas. There is also the Save the Children Fund and War on Want. These organisations are dedicated to the tasks of raising money and of spreading information about the abject conditions in which two-thirds of humanity is living.

The Motion deals primarily not with giving financial help but with giving service. This is important. It has been truly said, "Give a man fish and he will survive; teach him how to fish and he will endure." To help those in the underdeveloped areas we not only need to give them U.N.I.C.E.F. milk and food so that they may remain alive, but teach them how to develop their natural resources so that they can move on to full economic development.

The Motion speaks of school-leavers, but we should also get the co-operation of the youth organisations. We have heard of what is done by the universities and by the American Peace Corps, but although I agree that youngsters leaving school at 16 should have this information, they may think in terms of doing this sort of work overseas only When they are 18 or 21, after they have been in industry or doing office work for a year or two—

Photo of Mr William Molloy Mr William Molloy , Ealing North

I should like to underline that that is what I meant by suggesting a register—capturing the youngsters just before they leave school to enter on apprenticeships, and keeping in touch with them so that later they may wish to make their trade skills available in overseas development.

Photo of Mr Ioan Evans Mr Ioan Evans , Birmingham, Yardley

I do not deny that there is need for school-leavers to have this information and for them to realise the need there is for our younger generation to help these people. The question is when they are more likely to be available, and I am glad that my hon. Friend has cleared up that point.

We have heard of the part that the trade union movement can play. Trade unionists have a great deal of good will towards the people in the under-developed countries. As those countries develop there will be need for agricultural and industrial organisation, and I hope that the Minister will see that the trade union movement is encouraged to play a greater part, not only in giving aid but in, perhaps, seconding officers to those areas in order to develop democratic trade organisations. The trade union movement was born in Britain and can make a great contribution.

No mention has been made of the part that the Co-operative movement can play. That movement was founded in Britain, though whether its birthplace was Rochdale or Scotland is still a matter for argument. It has a membership of 30 million, and it has spread to the four corners of the world through the International Co-operative Alliance. The British Co-operative movement, working in conjunction with the I.C.A., and particularly rousing the interest of the younger people, can play a great part in the formation of co-operative credit societies, co-operative agricultural societies, housing societies and other forms of co-operatives in the overseas territories.

Voluntary Service Overseas is our counterpart of the American Peace Corps and should be given our wholehearted support. I do not think that it should work through a Government agency. If the work is done through a Government-sponsored agency, there is the danger that people overseas might look on it with some suspicion——

Photo of Mr James Johnson Mr James Johnson , Kingston upon Hull West

Is it not the fact that the American Peace Corps, of which I have had some slight experience in Africa, is sponsored and helped by the American Government? That is just the very opposite of what my hon. Friend wishes to indicate.

Photo of Mr Ioan Evans Mr Ioan Evans , Birmingham, Yardley

A Government-sponsored organisation might well be suspected in the areas in which it is operating. It is far better for such an organisation to receive Government support, but to be independent of Government. Otherwise, there is the danger of people in the emerging territories regarding it as a form of neo-colonialism.

In this country we have the International Voluntary Service Organisation whose constitution states its purpose to be: To afford opportunities by which men and women, in a spirit of friendship, international understanding and voluntary discipline, may, without regard to their race, religion, creed or politics, be encouraged and enabled to give the community either individually or in groups effective voluntary service…. In recent years we have heard of the development in the Western world of the philosophy, "I'm all right Jack", to be concerned with oneself and to have little regard for others. However, this constitution shows that there is developing a philosophy which has a regard for the welfare of others. Humanity will be doomed if we continue the present attitude of the Western world—"So long as we are all right, we need not have regard for others". Increasingly we must have regard for others, and Voluntary Service Overseas is an organisation which we should seek to support.

It gives young people the opportunity to give practical service to the needy in its short-term service projects and to do so with a group of people from many countries as a meaningful exercise in international co-operation and understanding. It gives an opportunity to place the skills of the individual and his experience at the disposal of economically less privileged people beyond Europe for an extended period and to see the needs and opportunities in a lifetime of service in those territories, and to return to Britain more conscious of the great economic divide between our countries. It gives the individual an opportunity to get a proper perspective in his outlook on education, profession and vocation, and it gives him an opportunity to nurture and test his leadership among a group of others from other countries. It gives him an opportunity to participate in committee work, a training which is invaluable to the younger person destined to participate in the functions of many adult democratic constitutions.

I have seen some of these groups of students coming together in this country in work camps in Birmingham and elsewhere. If we could have an exchange of young people, not just with those from Germany, France, Italy and other European countries, but from the Asian countries, coming together to work on a common project, thinking not of self-interest but of the well-being of mankind, this positive approach would bring about the lasting peace which we all desire and would be preferable to thinking in terms merely of giving economic aid to these countries.

12.53 p.m.

Photo of Lord  Balniel Lord Balniel , Hertford

I should certainly like to open by echoing the congratulations which have been extended to the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy) on having chosen for debate a subject of such interest and importance—importance to both the people of this country and to the under-developed parts of the world. We were particularly attracted by the enthusiasm which he displayed in his remarks, and we hope that the same enthusiasm will be echoed not only in the words of the Parliamentary Secretary, but in the actions of the present Administration.

As others have done, I want to pay tribute to the voluntary societies which are organising the various schemes of voluntary service overseas, schemes for boys and girls leaving school and for graduate volunteers. We are also anxious to pay tribute to the way in which boys and girls and young men and women are prepared to dedicate at least one year of their lives, in conditions which are often hard and difficult, to serve their fellow men and women overseas.

We are also glad to have this debate, because so much of our time is taken in considering the bad effects of the material affluence which we have in this country today. So much of our time has to be taken in considering the problems of juvenile delinquency, or the various malaise which afflict our society. It is good to be reminded that among our young people there is a widespread desire to be of service to others. These young people want to match their ideals with practical action. They want to test their self-confidence and their sense of independence in an adventurous and exciting life overseas. It would be a dreadful condemnation of society if, in the face of such a wish by our young people, we did not give them ample opportunities to be of service to their fellow men.

The debate is also of value because it reminds us that effective aid to overseas countries is not just a matter of money and machines, or of building schools and hospitals, or raising money to purchase tractors, books or seeds. Effective aid to under-developed countries is also a matter of young men and women giving their time to man these machines; to teach in the schools and to work in the hospitals. Often they go to work in extremely remote villages or in slum townships. Often they are in areas where there is a hideous prevalence of disease, poverty and misery.

We can look back on Britain's contribution in the past to overseas aid with a sense of considerable pride and we can look on our contribution today with an equivalent sense of pride. During the past few years there has been a substantial development of opportunities for volunteers, but the fact remains that our contribution to overseas aid is overwhelmingly a professional salaried contribution.

This is the legacy of our colonial responsibilities which have now disappeared. To some extent though, it is a reflection of the colonial responsibilities which still exist. But it means that Britain's contribution to helping underdeveloped countries is different in kind from the contribution made by the United States of America. Our contribution is overwhelmingly professional and the American contribution overwhelmingly volunteer.

Today, there are about 18,000 British men and women serving overseas in the Overseas Civil Service. 15,000 of them are in countries which accept the Overseas Service Aid Scheme and about 2,000 are in countries which are not prepared to accept the scheme. When we consider our future endeavour we have to take account of the professional effort. There are three broad considerations which we should bear in mind.

The first is that the demand for technical assistance from under-developed countries is virtually insatiable and that the momentum of technology in the West has meant that in the last 10, 20, or 30 years the gap between industrialised, developed, countries and the mainly agricultural and undeveloped countries has been steadily widening. The gap between the Northern and the Southern Hemispheres, between white and coloured, between rich and poor, has been not narrowing, but steadily widening in the last few decades.

The second consideration is that inevitably in the next few years there will be a sharp and rapid decline in the num- ber of British people serving with the Overseas Civil Service. No longer can the Overseas Civil Service offer a secure, long-term, life career to the same degree as in the past. No longer are there, as in the past when we had many Colonies to administer, the same opportunities to transfer from one country to another. Also, there is the very natural desire of countries on reaching independence that their administrative civil service should be manned by their own countrymen and not by foreigners. Therefore, the second consideration in framing policy which we must bear in mind is that in the next few years there will be a sharp and, indeed, a rapid decline in the number of people serving in the Overseas Civil Service.

The third consideration is that in the eyes of the receiving countries the difference between a graduate volunteer and an expert on fully paid short-term secondment will increasingly be blurred. In the eyes of the receiving country, the graduate volunteer and the professional person seconded for one or two years will be indistinguishable. Although it would probably be out of order for me to develop the policy on the professional service which I believe should be followed, I hope that the Government will make the main theme of its policy the importance of developing and encouraging short-term secondment of professional people. I am thinking of short-term secondment of people from the Home Civil Service, the teaching profession, the medical profession or from industry. I hope that they will be able to maintain in an annual level of short-term secondment of about 6,000 or 7,000 people.

About two or three years ago I was asked by Mr. Butler, as he then was, to act as chairman of a group of Members of Parliament and people interested in voluntary service overseas. He asked us to write a report on what could be done in this country to encourage voluntary service overseas and to make recommendations about how we could help to develop and foster such schemes. I remember very clearly when writing that report how interesting it was to talk to people which were running voluntary schemes of service overseas and how infectious was their enthusiasm and optimism.

I also remember very clearly how exciting it was to talk to young people who had given a year of their lives in helping overseas and in reading the letters of young people who, for instance, were caring for refugees in Tibet or the Congo, or who were teaching in Borneo or running youth camps among the slum townships of South America. They invariably said that the experience had broadened their outlook and had given a new depth and purpose to their lives and strengthened their character in a way which would of value to them for the rest of their lives.

Because it is so obviously good for our young people, and because it is so obviously welcomed by the receiving countries, and not least because it is clear that many people in the under-developed countries will gain their picture of Britain from these people and not through the medium of propaganda, it seems to me that in this debate we should not merely eulogise what is being done today but should be prepared constructively to criticise and to see how we can improve the existing arrangements.

I should like, first, to say a few words about the number of people we should aim at sending overseas every year; secondly, a few words about the organisational structure; and, thirdly, a few words about finance. I deal, first, with the target for graduate volunteers serving overseas. There is no doubt that the developing countries are asking increasingly for more sophisticated projects to be undertaken. Increasingly, there are projects which can be undertaken only by graduates. The introduction of large numbers from the Peace Corps has led receiving countries to frame projects suitable for people of the age of 20, 21 or 22 years.

The expansion of our programme of gaduate volunteers has been very rapid. It was only in 1962–63 that the first pilot scheme was undertaken. Then, a mere 36 teachers went to Africa as volunteers. The scheme was so successful that in the following year, 1963–64, 250 graduate volunteers went overseas. During 1964–65 the number was doubled and 500 graduate volunteers served overseas. We were told only the other day that the target for 1965–66 is 1,200. I understand that at this moment the voluntary bodies are engaged in selecting graduates and preparing projects for these 1,200 volunteers.

It is interesting to compare these figures with the recommendations which we made in our report. Our recommendations were almost exactly equalled by what was achieved in practice. I wish to make this comparison because it might lead the Government to believe that our recommendations for the future are equally within the reach of this country. Our recommended target for 1964–65 was that there should be 500 graduate volunteers overseas. This was achieved exactly. Our target for 1965–66 was that this number should be doubled and that there should be 1,000 graduate volunteers serving overseas. It was pleasing to hear only the other day that the Government are able to send overseas a slightly larger number of graduate volunteers than we recommended—1,200.

The crunch comes when we look at the policy for the future, because we recommended that during the following year, 1966–67, the number of volunteers serving overseas should again be doubled and that we should send out 2,000. I must confess that I have been rather disturbed by the Government's failure to announce their programme for 1966–67, particularly because it has coincided with certain actions they have taken on capital investment which I fear will inevitably lead to a diminution of capital investment in the under-developed countries.

I express my feeling of disturbance because, in the past, it has been normal for the programme to be announced in February. However, we have not yet had an announcement of the programme of the numbers of graduate volunteers who will serve overseas in 1966–67. I hope that when the Minister winds up the debate he will be able not only to tell us what the policy will be for that year, but that he accepts our recommendation of 2,000 graduate volunteers.

I appreciate that to people who have not studied this subject, 2,000 graduate volunteers may seem a very small number indeed. This is not the case. Certainly, the Minister would regard it as a great challenge to be able to send out that number. In 1966, the number of graduates leaving universities or equivalent institutions like teacher-training colleges and colleges of advanced technology will be 70,000. Of these, about 10 per cent. are students from overseas. Therefore, in setting a target of 2,000 graduate volunteers we are asking that this country should endeavour to send 3 per cent. of its British graduates to serve voluntarily overseas.

I mention this figure because it indicates the scale of what we are asking of our young people. The Peace Corps, with the full force of the administration behind it, is able to send 2 per cent. of its graduates overseas. I am asking that we in this country should achieve a percentage rather better than is achieved in the United States.

I believe that we can do this because in the Peace Corps programme one of the great deterrents to young people is that it involves them going overseas, not for one year, as is the case with our programme, but for two years. Also, although I do not wish to develop the point, the economic pressures on young people in the United States to obtain work immediately after leaving school are considerably greater than in this country. For example, many students in the United States are in debt when they have finished their college education, this may be true of some of our students—but not to the same degree as in the U.S.A.

I should like also to say a word about the organisational structure. I quite accept that a governmental organisation such as the Peace Corps has tremendous advantages if one aims to secure a rapid expansion of its programme. Having studied it in some depth, I certainly do not share those who make disparaging remarks about the Peace Corps. Having studied it, I was immensely impressed by the energy, the drive and the enthusiasm which it is able to bring to its programmes.

Equally, however, I do not regard it as a suitable medium for this country. It has many advantages but it is equally true that receiving countries prefer, if possible, to see the service run as a non-governmental affair. A scheme as at present, when run by the voluntary societies, has many advantages. There is no conceivable taint of neocolonialism. The operation of a scheme through the voluntary societies is a public emphasis of the voluntary character of our scheme. It accords more closely with our social service traditions. I believe also that running it through the voluntary societies gives it a spark and enthusiasm, a vitality and variety which are difficult, although not impossible, to achieve in a bureaucracy.

However, it is one thing to ask the voluntary societies to run a pilot scheme of 36 graduates and it is quite a different thing to ask those societies to run annually a scheme for 2,000 graduate volunteers. If the Government are to support the scale of expansion which I believe is possible, and which they should accept, I suspect that the existing central organisation, the Lockwood Committee, will prove structurally quite inadequate. This is no reflection upon the persons who work in the Lockwood Committee. It is a reflection rather on the structure, which, I believe, is not designed to support a really large-scale programme.

I should like to suggest certain changes. At present, the voluntary societies are responsible for recruitment of individual volunteers. They are responsible for selecting and the selection processes. I share with my hon. Friend the view that the selection processes undertaken in the United States are more thorough and, possibly, more effective than those which we are able to undertake.

The voluntary societies are also responsible for publicity, for the despatch of volunteers, and for their training. The voluntary societies are responsible for the administration of volunteers overseas and for the formulation and the selection of projects. The efforts of these voluntary societies are truly magnificent, but if we are to achieve the kind of expansion which I visualise, the resources of these societies will be strained to breaking point.

Even as it is, my impression is that what is holding up the expansion of this Voluntary Service Overseas scheme is not so much a shortage of volunteers coming forward as the fact that the resources of the societies are already strained excessively. The Lockwood Committee is a committee of co-ordination—it co-ordinates the various voluntary societies—but the executive action rests in the hands of the voluntary bodies.

First, I suggest that the secretariat of the Lockwood Committee should be a full-time secretariat. At present, it is a part-time body provided by the National Council of Social Service. It is magnificently served and led by Mr. Philip Zealey. None the less, the fact remains that it is a part-time secretariat. If we are to achieve a dramatic expansion, I believe that it should be full-time and that there should be a full-time director.

I believe, however, that a more fundamental change is necessary. I should like to see the Lockwood Committee develop into what I might call an Overseas Service Council. It should have powers not only of co-ordination, but of initiation. Also, as large sums of Government money should be devoted to this field it should also have powers of supervision over the voluntary bodies.

Broadly, I believe that there should be a division of responsibility between the voluntary societies and a new Overseas Service Council. The voluntary societies should continue to be responsible for certain executive action. They should be responsible for recruiting individual volunteers, for the selection processes, for the despatch of volunteers and for the administration of the volunteers when they are overseas.

The new Overseas Service Council should be made responsible for formulating projects and for selecting them. I should like this new Overseas Service Council to establish a projects division and to have persons permanently overseas, working out, in conjunction with overseas Governments and our own representatives overseas, projects suitable for our volunteers.

In the present system, it is right that the initiative for a project should come from the Government concerned, but all too often when travelling abroad one hears people in overseas Governments say that they do not know what work our volunteers can undertake. All too often one hears that they have not heard of projects which could be undertaken in their country and which are being undertaken in other countries. They have not known that we could provide volunteers to help them in those ways. I believe that the projects division should, for example, meet our boys and girls, our young men and young women when they go overseas and give them on-the-spot briefing. The Council should also relieve the voluntary bodies of the burden of general publicity for the scheme the council should also shoulder responsibility for training. This is fairly costly and beyond the resources of many societies.

I should like to say a short word about finance. Assuming that the Government accept—and I hope that today we will hear that they do accept—a target of 2,000 graduate volunteers for 1966–67, we must look at the cost which is involved. Each project to send a graduate volunteer overseas costs something short of £1,000, and under the arrangements which were made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) the British Government's share is 75 per cent. of the cost of such projects. If they accept the target which I suggest the Government's responsibility will be to find £1½ million.

This will leave £500,000 to be found by voluntary societies such as Oxfam or the Freedom from Hunger Campaign and the various other money raising organisations. It is quite impracticable to expect that those voluntary organisations will be able, over any lengthy period, to find a sum of the size of £500,000. I do urge that the Government should be prepared to accept a higher proportion of the costs involved, because if they are not prepared to accept a higher proportion of the costs involved then I think they must accept the absolutely inevitable consequence of seeing the voluntary service schemes stagnate in size.

We recommended—I acknowledge that this was not accepted by my hon. Friend—that the Government should bear 90 per cent. of the costs of the graduate volunteer projects. I believe it is right that the whole costs should not be borne by the Government because we want to retain this sense of voluntary effort. However, the Government do bear, for instance, 90 per cent. of the costs of the British Council, and I believe that the work done by volunteers serving overseas is as fully worth while of support as the work undertaken so admirably by the British Council.

There is one last point I should like to make. Most of the volunteers who leave our country go out to give help to the under-developed countries within the Commonwealth. I have no wish to confine our schemes of voluntary service overseas——

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. It is not in order for an hon. Member to read a newspaper in the House.

Photo of Mr Robert Maxwell Mr Robert Maxwell , Buckingham

Further to that, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I was reading a piece from the paper relating to what I hope we shall be discussing, the question of votes at 18. I was doing so as part of my preparation for my speech. Is that not in order?

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

That is perfectly in order.

Photo of Lord  Balniel Lord Balniel , Hertford

I was pointing out that, although the majority of our volunteers serve within the Commonwealth, it was not my wish that we should confine our schemes of voluntary overseas service to the Commonwealth.

None the less, we do have a very long tradition of service within the Commonwealth, and I believe there will be no dispute at all that this long tradition, which stretches back over many generations, has been of value both to our own country and to our fellow members of the Commonwealth. We have, in many places, a common language; we have a shared history; we have close links of communications and links also of effort in establishing democracy throughout the world.

Recently, there was set up what I believe to be a very good precedent—the setting up of a Commonwealth exchange scholarship scheme. I should like to urge that there are certain advantages in developing our scheme of voluntary service so that they should become part of a comprehensive Commonwealth scheme

For instance, Commonwealth countries such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand can bring to countries such as India and Pakistan agricultural expertise which we cannot supply. India and Pakistan in their turn can help other members of the Commonwealth. It seems to me that should we develop our own scheme of voluntary overseas service into a Commonwealth scheme we could avoid some of the political difficulties which do arise. We could also, to some degree, make a reality of the Commonwealth to ordinary men and women—to whom too often it is a mere word. Although I realise that this cannot be accepted in the immediate future, it is, I feel sure, the ultimate objective at which we should aim.

1.24 p.m.

Photo of Mr James Johnson Mr James Johnson , Kingston upon Hull West

When I entered the Chamber this morning I felt we were beginning one of those debates seldom seen, and, I imagine, little to be seen in the coming weeks, when both sides of the House are in accord, both sides of the House wish to attain a common objective, and both sides have very much in common even over the means of attaining the object. Therefore, I want to congratulate, if he will allow me to do so, the noble Lord the Member for Hertford (Lord Balniel) on the speech I have just listened to. I enjoyed it immensely, and I go a very long way with the noble Lord in what he said about 2,000 volunteers overseas. Like him, I hope that my Government will see their way to giving additional subventions for this very purpose.

Unfortunately, we have had one discordant note which, I hope, we shall not have again. It is the suggestion that the Government will cut back somehow or another upon their commitments. I hope that when the Minister answers the debate he will tell us exactly what amounts we are spending on overseas aid. I think the facts will come as a surprise to some Members on the benches opposite who seem to have these fears that somehow or another we intend to cut back or are in the middle of cutting back the money which we should spend.

Another thing I wish to comment upon in the speech I have just listened to is this matter of exchange in the Commonwealth. I believe very much indeed in exchange, and I happen to be on the Council of the League for the Exchange of Teachers in the Commonwealth, the old League of Empire. We have seen many teachers exchanged within the Commonwealth. I am not talking now simply of volunteers, but serving teachers. We have an exchange of about 50 with countries in Africa and something like a dozen in New Zealand and perhaps 20 in Australia. We could send many more if—and I address my remarks to the Minister—there were a little more money for our overseas aid, a bigger subvention so that we could pay the fares overseas and back home of these additional teachers.

I think it is important that we do launch out on to teacher exchange in these new African Dominions. For many years we exchanged with the white Dominions, but in these days we should place new emphasis on exchange with Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, and Zambia—indeed to all parts of Africa.

Another point in the speech of the noble Lord on which I should like to comment is the matter of project selection. The Lockwood Committee, I gather, held a weekend seminar on this matter of selection of projects overseas, and not only of people to go there. I gather that the most important thing which emerged in this atmosphere was the unanimous decision to improve the present methods of selection. I quote: It was recognised by everyone that a further effort must be made to ensure that volunteers are sent to projects which are really worth while and meaningful, otherwise the essence of the whole operation is lost and nearly £1 million of the British taxpayers' money is thrown down the drain. Therefore, we must be very careful in the selection both of the persons who go overseas and of the operations themselves on which we send them out.

I have been a little late in coming to the Motion itself, but I so much enjoyed the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy). He spoke about the bubbling vitality of our school-leavers at 18 in his constituency—which can be said, of course, of the youth in all our constituencies—but what about his bubbling vitality? He made a most stimulating speech, and although he is absent at the moment, I thank him for initiating this debate upon this subject.

I am full of hope and faith for the future. I believe we have very fine young people. Never mind those Mods kicking about in the coastal towns occasionally. I believe there will be many more of our young people volunteering for service overseas, and I believe that the more we can send the better, so that we fill the gap left through the exodus of the expatriates who have been coming back over the last years. The hon. Member for Ealing, North was absolutely correct. There appears to be no shortage of fine young men and women who wish to go overseas, despite the bad Press we get occasionally about places like Ghana.

I can speak personally here. I have been overseas once or twice doing work, and my own daughter is at the moment in Northern Nigeria after studying archaeology at Cambridge, and is having the time of her life in Jos. As the hon. Member for Ealing said, we want many more artisans to go out. I am convinced that many more of the lower levels, technicians of all kinds and trade unionists, need to go out and join their fellow-workers in Africa, whether in a black society like Ghana or a multiracial or mixed society like East Africa.

Not only can these men and women work alongside their fellow members of the Commonwealth but also they can teach them in their local trade union branches, how to deal and carry on at shop floor level. They can teach them what we learned by hard and bitter experience in the 19th century; how to negotiate and get better conditions, better terms of service, better wages and the like. They need elementary advice on matters such as book-keeping. This is very important because I believe, like the co-operatives, that trade unions are a basic school for democracy. They will teach them how to look after their own affairs and come via the trade unions and the co-operative, into local government in East Africa and elsewhere and also into national government.

I hope these numbers will increase and I again ask the Minister about this matter of finance. Societies like Oxfam, Christian Aid and one about which we have heard so much this morning, I.V.S., International Volunteer Service, are doing wonderful work but there is a limit to the amount of money they can get by voluntary contributions. I believe the State should give as much as it possibly can to help. The I.V.S. places the skills and experience of gifted people at home at the disposal of the less lucky people overseas. Once these young men and women have gone overseas they sometimes see the need for a lifetime of service. Many come back after 12 months—which I think is too short a period—conscious of the great economic divide between the two countries and wish to go back to help. I wish to add my praise, if it is necessary, to that already given to the work that has been done by these voluntary societies.

In many ways the I.V.S. is quite unique because its volunteers serve within the context of an international organisation unhindered by any national or political considerations. Earlier we were told, almost as if by a junior Senator from Massachusetts, all about the American Peace Corps. I know a little about the Corps, having worked in Liberia and I agree with the hon. Member for Hertford that the less one has government agencies in this field the better. The more one has voluntary agencies subsidised or buttressed by government finance the less difficulty one finds. This is one of the difficulties met with by the Americans in giving aid to Africa. It is a big handicap to the way in which they do their work.

Dealing with the matter of volunteer selection, I do not know exactly what the Americans do, but I listened to the eulogy about the length and efficiency of their training course, some 13 weeks compared with the 4 or 5 days we give to our people before they leave. I suggest that we should consult the people at the other end of the operation. We should have the underdeveloped territory telling us whether the American Peace Corps is doing a good job there. I would go further than this and say that when we select people in the United Kingdom to go out we should call in colleagues from Tanzania or Zambia or Malawi or other High Commissions to help us, and define exactly what kind of projects they need and what kind of person they would like to get. They could give us, not a post mortem, but some kind of report upon the work which is being done.

Photo of Sir George Sinclair Sir George Sinclair , Dorking

When our volunteers go out, the projects to which they go are put forward by the developing countries; so it is not a question of consulting us further about these projects. They are the projects that they themselves have put up. Secondly, there is, I believe, already a good deal of involvement by the High Commissioners in the training and preconditioning courses.

Photo of Mr James Johnson Mr James Johnson , Kingston upon Hull West

I am delighted to hear it. The Lockwood Committee's Report gave me some thought about this and that perhaps we should know more about the schemes. As I see it, the value of this volunteer movement lies as much in the experience given to our young people as in the work done by them overseas. If they make their skills available to the community where they go, and do good jobs which leave behind them a legacy of good will and achievement, such as teachers, nurses and welfare workers obviously do they too also benefit from this. When they come back to the United Kingdom they are not only bigger and better people, but better fitted to study our newspapers, and indeed better fitted to be Members of Parliament if later they enter Westminster. Their attitude towards our cousins overseas, whatever their colour, is much more tolerant, and people with this experience are much more helpful if they speak in this Chamber or any other forum anywhere else in the United Kingdom. Many come back with a different attitude towards people overseas and their difficulties. I will not mention particular towns in the United Kingdom in view of the difficulty in some places with coloured workers and housing, but it would be a very good thing if thousands of young workers went out and when they returned sat upon town councils in the Midlands and elsewhere and applied their experience to the settlement of some of our own domestic difficulties.

May I ask the Minister if he will think again about founding a professional service for technical and assistant personnel overseas. I think that many of these young people who have been out on a volunteer basis will wish to join us and channel their experience, enthusiasm and idealism in some permanent way. I have met the suggestion that some of these young people particularly, those under 35, should be enlisted as associate experts for the United Nations. I gather that the Dutch and Germans are thinking on these lines.

The hon. Member for Hertford talked about 2,000 volunteers and about education. I should like to say a word about that, and about the possibility of young teachers going overseas. I have recently visited a Catholic Teachers Training College in Hull. I was delighted, in fact, almost overwhelmed, by the enthusiasm and idealism of these future teachers, particularly the young women. Some not merely wished to go overseas when they had finished their training and obtained their certificates, or diplomas, or degrees, but they wish if possible to teach overseas during their training course. I have asked whether the universities, or the examining body, would accept the second of a three-year teaching course being spent overseas. I hope that this can be arranged, because these young teachers are full of enthusiasm, and if we can get them when they are young, it is much better to do so than to wait until they are a little older, when they are perhaps a little cynical and world-weary and worldly wise. Nowhere have I met the enthusiasm that I have met amongst young future teachers.

A teacher has a great influence on 30, 50, or perhaps even hundreds of people whom he meets. Some people believe—I do not subscribe to this view—that the future demand for teachers will fall away because the African States will provide their own teachers and will not require our help. I repeat that I do not believe this. I think that there will be an even greater need for our people to go overseas. It may be that they will be required to teach at more advanced levels. It may be that they will be required for sixth form teaching and to teach African teachers, but I am sure that the need will not diminish.

Is my hon. Friend's Department getting all the information possible about what is happening in Africa? Are the staffs of the High Commissioners there getting all the details about planning by the African States and about their future needs so that they can channel the information back to us? I have been assured that this is happening, but I am not certain that that is the case.

I understand that the former Department of Technical Co-operation, for which the right hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) was responsible, examined a recommendation by a Select Committee on Estimates to decide whether we should establish a service to be called the Commonwealth Advisory and Technical Service. This was to consist of a pool of officers paid for by the United Kingdom, and seconded for service overseas. This idea was turned down, and I do not want to pursue this, but I do ask for a small but nevertheless efficient Commonwealth Education Service to be provided, because I believe that if we had a pool of teachers, particularly of young people who had been overseas as volunteers and then come back, we could with advantage second these people overseas. In the interval between postings there would be no difficulty in finding them jobs in our schools. What I want is a pool of teachers—the former L.C.C. had such a supply pool and served in different schools of London—who are fully qualified and of high calibre who can be seconded to serve overseas.

Photo of Mr John Tilney Mr John Tilney , Liverpool Wavertree

Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that one of the great difficulties is that so many people who would willingly go out for a year or two fear that they may lose their place on the rung of promotion, and therefore the more that we can get proleptic appointments in, say, medicine, so that someone knows that he will come back to a job that is more important than the one he is doing at the moment in this country, the better it will be for everyone?

Photo of Mr James Johnson Mr James Johnson , Kingston upon Hull West

I accept that. I know the past headaches of this situation, but I do not think that it is beyond the wit of the Government to devise some scheme to safeguard the manner of promotion. This has been the biggest handicap in the past to getting teachers to go overseas, and I hope that we can do something about it to satisfy them.

There are other nations in the field beside the American Peace Corps. The Canadians, the Germans, the Dutch, and I gather the French, too, are moving in. I wish to ask the Minister what co-operation there is between these various forces of volunteer workers overseas. Are conferences held to pool our knowledge and experience? Are we meeting the Americans, the Canadians, the Germans, the Dutch and the French to discuss the situation? I am sure that many of the lessons which they have learnt would be of benefit to us, and vice versa. If my hon. Friend has not already done so, I ask him to consider having a get-together with the other nations who are working in this field, because we all have to work together. Both sides, and indeed all nations, have to work together. This is a joint effort. We have heard a lot this morning about the wealthy Northern Hemisphere and the poor Southern one, the technically developed West, and the under-developed societies of Africa, South America and South-East Asia. We are all in this together. Let us all work together and do a good job at the end of the day.

1.46 p.m.

Photo of Mr Frederic Bennett Mr Frederic Bennett , Torquay

I am pleased to follow the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, West (Mr. James Johnson) because, whereas we have had a number of political arguments over many years, I think he will testify that on this subject we have also had a great deal in common. So it is very pleasant to be able to compliment the hon. Gentleman with none of the usual irony that creeps in when one pays compliments from one side of the House to the other. The only reason why I do not comment at length on the many interesting points that he made is that other hon. Members wish to take part in the debate and he should not take my lack of comment as necessarily signifying disagreement.

I agree that to serve a year overseas is too short, but it is very difficult for volunteers to afford more than that. Anything over a year becomes exceedingly difficult from the point of view of their own careers. Although it is an estimable plan, it is not as easy as it seems, but it is very much easier if the person serving overseas is being paid by some other organisation and continues his promotion and to be paid during that time.

I was glad that the hon. Gentleman and my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford (Lord Balniel) concentrated not just on the world as a whole but referred to the Commonwealth. It is not a question of charity beginning at home in a debate like this, but the whole world is rather large for this small country to tackle. The greatest degree of aid is being given, and the most effective work done, by those countries which were formerly Imperial powers and have a legacy of responsibility and are carrying it out. France, too, has a splendid record in that respect. If we can do many of the things which the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy) mentioned for the Commonwealth, we shall not be doing badly, without spreading our wings too far

I hope that, like the hon. Member for Ealing, North, I shall be forgiven if I speak rather more to the general theme of what we are trying to do, because I do not have the expert knowledge of the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, West of some of these overseas courses. I was very impressed when the hon. Member for Ealing, North began by saying how little we realised of the massive nature of this problem. Whatever we can do is infinitesimal, judged by the standard of what requires to be done.

I have had the interesting experience of spending a lot of time in most of the territories which have been mentioned today. One of the first lessons that I learnt was that if a person is going to play an active part in this field—it does not matter whether he is a professional or a volunteer—he has to be dedicated. This is the real problem. Whether he is a volunteer, or whether it is his livelihood, he has to be as dedicated to the job as a doctor is to his profession. As my hon. Friend the Member for Dorking (Sir G. Sinclair) and other hon. Members know, he must often put up with living in extremely hot and damp conditions. People tend to think of the palm trees and not to of such things as the smells, the flies, the mud, or the teeming rain, or the many other unpleasant things that one has to endure if one carries on this sort of work. Therefore, I am sure that we can at least agree on at least one necessary signpost; there must be a feeling of dedication. Only if there is shall we be able to succeed.

Furthermore, there are considerable frustrations. When I was a small boy I was told by a reactionary gentleman that to provide baths for the working class people of Britain was useless, because they would only fill them up with coal. Perhaps they did fill them up with coal for a long while, but we have to keep on with our efforts until people stop filling their baths with coal. This process applies just the same in the outside world. We have to try to persuade people to continue to grow crops when they neglect them. We have to go on trying to get them to breed decent cattle, although, when cattle happen to be the local currency, people tend to want to have just the maximum number of beasts. We have to be patient and be prepared to do the same thing over and over again.

I should like to tell the House of a personal experience in East Pakistan. I went there, as part of a relief team, to help the people of a village which had been flooded by a rising river. It was a mud-flat village. Only a small rise in the river is usually needed to flood such a village. The fish in the river provide nearly all the villagers' food. The flooding was quite enough to bring about considerable distress for the inhabitants there. In fact, about 60 died—some being trapped in their huts by the rising waters and others being bitten by snakes when these sought refuge on higher ground.

One of the things we brought with us was dried milk for the babies, and I helped to distribute it. After a short time, I found that the babies were not getting the dried milk, because the parents found that they could sell it at quite a high price—and we could not blame them, because of the incredible poverty that they endure—to entrepeneurs. So we had to mix the milk with water and sit there while the children drank it.

We also brought strips of cloth for the women to make into saris. As one small indication of the massive amount of misery that existed there, each recipient of a sari first had to borrow the old, ragged sari from the woman before her before she could dress to come to us to get her new one. It is only when we see this sort of thing that we realise the immensity of the problem. A year later I learned about one of the gifts that had been sent, from I believe a Swiss source, which was a pre-natal clinic. All that had happened a year later was that many more babies had been born successfully; and as there was only the same small amount of food for the whole village, nothing had bean achieved at all in the effort to reduce the sum total of human poverty in that village.

All these obstructions and frustrations emphasise the need for people who are dedicated. There are some moments of great gratification, however, and they are what inspire people to go on doing these jobs. Sometimes, quite suddenly, a ray of sunshine comes through and makes one feel that something has been achieved. The hon. Member for Ealing, North talked about making two blades of grass grow where only one had grown before. It is the sudden feeling that one has achieved even the smallest breakthrough that brings a sense of gratification, very often to an extent that is not experienced in one's purely material successes in ordinary life.

I should like to give one other personal anecdote to illustrate this. This was in East Africa. Whatever other training I may have had, I have had no medical training. I was in one of those muddy parts of East Africa at a time when the rains were pouring down. There came a light knock on the door and when it was opened there stood a Masai tribes-woman with a girl of about 6 or 7 years of age. It was plain, even to a person with my small experience, that she was near to death. She had a raging temperature and pneumonia.

This was on a Sunday, and there was no method by which any experienced help could be given that evening. Furthermore, the woman arrived at cocktail hour, which is just about the worst time for any untrained volunteer doctor to try to do his stuff. The only thing that I could find was some penicillin and a needle. They were clearly marked "For Cattle". But it seemed clear to me that it was a question of that child dying or my taking a chance. In the end I did the only injection that I have ever done in my life.

I felt a great sense of pride next morning when the entire kraal of 50 or 60 people came along to express their thanks for what I had done. I was very relieved to know, for the sake of my conscience, that the baby had lived and was better. At first I thought that the tribesman had called for an entirely different reason—that I had given the wrong dose and that the tribesmen had come along with their knobkerries. I well remember that small incident. It gave me more pleasure than some of the political successes, if I may so call them, that I have had in my life.

This brings me to another point, on the same lines. Somehow or other we have to engender, in the minds of overseas students coming here who afterwards go back to their own countries, as well as people from this country who go overseas, a feeling that agricultural and technical services have a much higher social status than they are regarded as having at the moment. One has only to live in one of the Inns of Court, as I do, to see every day great numbers of eager-eyed, keen men and women who will ultimately go back to their countries to be lawyers, including those, too, who are over here for courses in political science.

It is a tragedy that the present idea about status has resulted in an overproduction of lawyers and politicians in the under-developed countries of the world. That is a fairly modest thing to say in this assembly, but it is true. Even over here we do not give sufficient importance to the technical services, as opposed to politics, administration and law.

If all the lawyers and politicians in the under-developed countries trained since the war had been teachers, doctors and dentists, we would be debating this question today in a much more optimistic frame of mind. We can do much more in our own universities and schools in this direction. If we can succeed in persuading those people who come here to regard professions and occupations outside politics, the law and administration as having a much higher status, we shall be doing them great benefit. We shall be able to help them to a far greater extent, and much more cheaply, than is the case with some of the broad financial help which we have talked about.

I turn lastly to one other aspect of the matter which is a difficult one to talk about because of people's susceptibilities. We must think more about training people who are prepared to do birth control work in under-developed countries which do not have strict religious reasons for not practising it. This must be done, not because it will do a lot—because whatever we do we shall always be too small a country to do a lot—but simply because we shall then be playing our part in the world. We must train the people who do this work not only in physiology but also in psychology.

I shall not go into the religious reasons which are put forward against birth control, except to say that I respect them if I do not share them. But in many Asian and other under-developed countries it is not a religious feeling, but a matter of ignorance, fear and misunderstanding, which prevents the people from carrying out this practice. In several parts of the world where I thought there must be some strong spiritual and religious feeling against it, I often discovered afterwards there was instead a concrete and materialistic reason.

In these countries, where there is no Welfare State, it is the accepted duty of the children to look after the parents in their old age, and when there is a high rate of infant mortality and a low average length of life it is only natural for parents to have a good many children, because they want to be sure that they will be able to live out their own lives with what is, by their standards, a reasonable standard of living.

Another aspect of the problem is that, especially in South-East Asia, the question of birth control has been mixed up with the fear of loss of virility. In India and Pakistan it is very difficult to persuade ignorant men and women that one of the few pleasures they have in life will not be altogether lost if they take certain precautions in their own interest. These, as I say, are psychological much more than physiological.

One other example. People are often talking about birth control throughout India and Pakistan. Of course, there is much to be said for this, but when for instance I went to this little village about which I have spoken I saw people living in small mud huts with just skins on the floor. There was no suggestion of a cupboard or shelf in the huts. If there is a bottle of pills in such places it is on the floor. It is no good distributing pamphlets telling the people to keep these bottles of pills out of reach of the babies when there is only the floor on which to keep them or the existing children get the pills not the potential mother. It has been said over and over again how difficult it is to achieve the sort of purposes that we have in mind. When one reads of the things to be done I suggest, as did the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, West, that perhaps the best possible thing is for one to see these things for oneself, one then comes back in a chastened frame of mind.

I found in one village in India that, for one reason or another—I could not see the reason at first—the birth rate was much lower than in another village 30 or 40 miles away. It appeared that the reason was that one village had electric light so that the villagers could do some handiwork in the evening, and the other village was in darkness soon after 6 o'clock. That is a small object lesson for some of us to think about.

We have heard today that it is our Christian duty to try to do more in overseas aid, and in this I fully concur. As practical politicians I think it is also worth asking ourselves whether, in fact, this is worth doing from our own point of view. I believe that it is because, like others today, I believe that we are nearing the end of the war of ideologies in the world and are coming to the hostility between those nations which are becoming poorer and those which are becoming relatively richer. Anything that we can do to reduce these tensions we should do for our own sakes: and in the field of service, about which the hon. Gentleman opposite spoke, there is a great deal which we can do at a relatively small financial cost.

2.3 p.m.

Photo of Mr Reginald Freeson Mr Reginald Freeson , Willesden East

I rise in some trepidation to follow the hon. Member for Torquay (Sir F. Bennett), because I was so impressed by what he said. I do not think that it would be often that I could stand up and say that I could listen for hours to the hon. Member for Torquay, but on this occasion that is true. In relating his experience over years of service in other parts of the world he recalled for me some scenes and he certainly brought very vividly to my mind similar experiences on a much smaller scale and the great shock that I had when I first arrived in Egypt, some years ago.

I had known poverty, but had never seen it on the scale that I saw it there. One could not possibly imagine that it existed, that is, not anyone who lived in a European country. I have seen poverty in North Africa and in certain areas of Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean area where one can also find scenes of squalor and poverty. But they do not match the squalor and poverty of India, the Middle East and certain other countries. They are really beyond the imagination of people who have lived the whole of their lives either in this country or in the Northern part of Europe.

I was particularly impressed by the emphasis which the hon. Member for Torquay placed upon the undertaking of work in the field of the under-developed countries, the poverty-striken countries, at certain small points of importance and of not always talking in terms of massive economic projects, important as they may be. This ties in very closely in my mind with certain aspects of international service which has not, perhaps, been given today the attention that it deserves.

Most of the observations made in the debate have been based on consideration of the graduate scheme and professional workers of that standard being highly organised. I do not wish to belittle the importance of this work and of professional personnel and graduates going out to Africa and the Middle East and other Continents, but one must not overlook the need for others to be trained in this kind of service, such as my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy) and others have referred to, and to bring to bear skills and service at the middle range, as it were, of the economy of the poverty-stricken countries.

I also feel, as do one or two other hon. Members, that perhaps we are not paying sufficient attention to studying the best way in which we as a country, even if it be on a somewhat smaller scale than we would wish, can provide service in the receiving areas. I am not at all sure, with the greatest respect to the High Commission offices and similar levels of administration, that the right information always comes through, or that the right projects are always recommended.

There are the experiences of people who have actually gone out into the field and who, by the very nature of the work they are doing and the travel that they have to undertake in the field of international service, learn from people well below the higher levels of administration that wrong things are being done or, if that is too harsh a way of putting it, that the wrong priorities are being followed in the African territories and elsewhere.

I think it very important indeed that a close study should be made on the spot of the work to be done. Perhaps the best example of this in recent years is that 18 months before the Freedom from Hunger Year series of projects was undertaken a study was made of a certain territory in Northern Greece, prior to the United Nations Association International Service Department and others, with the assistance of Governments and of the funds made available later as a result of the Freedom from Hunger Campaign, going out to start on the work which was to last two or three years. There was a very close study of the economy of the areas.

This study was made in close conjunction, first, with personnel from the United Nations Refugee Office and from the United Nations Association International Service Departments in this country and elsewhere. It was made also in conjunction not only with high level civil servants and economists, but with people actually working in the field in the territory affected.

The result was that on the basis of this very down-to-earth study it was possible to start our own scheme which, I believe, is still under way, regarding the establishment of farming techniques, of new village buildings and of co-operative administration for the area. This is the kind of thing that needs to be done and one fears that it is not being done sufficiently at the grass-root levels in the receiving areas. One wants to hear from a very low level upwards what is necessary before one sends people out, because, as the hon. Member for Torquay quite rightly said, no matter how much we spend and do for the rest of our lives, and for the lives of the succeeding two or three generations, it will be too little.

It is all the more important, therefore, to make sure to the best of our ability that whatever the amount, be it £2 million, £3 million, £5 million or £10 million, it is spent at those points in the economy from which we are to get real value for money. Frequently a situation arises where the expenditure of £1 on a particular project could be of much greater value than the spending of £10 elsewhere.

I speak as one of those people who were described as coming back to this country greater and bigger people because I was with the International Service volunteers for some years. It was on one of those occasions that I met the hon. Member for Dover (Mr. Enna1s), who is now the P.P.S. to the Minister. It was in a refugee camp in Austria, where we were busy digging ditches for foundations for houses which, I sincerely hope, are still standing. We went out as unskilled labour. It does not always follow that it is necessary to send out highly skilled persons.

As was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North, there is a necessity to draw in other people. It is not always true that there exists a vast source of what might be called cheap labour, unemployed labour, available in areas where it is necessary to undertake progress. In some areas there are people who are employable and in others one finds a contrast between a highly skilled and fairly advanced economy and pockets of severe poverty which are produced within it for historical, economic or social reasons and which cannot be dealt with adequately because of the imbalance of the economy.

This was, until a few years ago, the position in Austria. In that country, with a relatively high standard of living, where only just recently the problem of the refugee camps has been overcome, thousands of Austrian citizens were living in the forced labour camps built by Hitler. We went out to this part of Europe, others have gone to Greece, Egypt and North Africa, to areas where one would expect to find that plenty of unskilled labour was available. In fact it was not. We helped to speed up the permanent resettlement programme in Southern Europe for the High Commission for Refugees.

The reason I refer to Austria particularly is not so much to make that point as to express my feelings about the time which I spent there. Over a sequence of five years I spent some time each year in these camps. As I learnt more of the history of the camps the feeling grew that the tremendous efforts that have been made since the war to assist the refugees—there were still 45,000 in the camps when I began to go there—had in many cases been misplaced. Encouragement had been given to what came to be known as camp psychology. The wrong techniques were used and money was spent in the wrong way on gifts of clothing and food, and the traditional charity handouts.

I do not mean to be disrespectful to those charitable organisations which provide such assistance, but this wrong kind of charity and help was being given instead of embarking on training programmes for young people who were growing up in the camps, and the retraining of older people unable to make use of their skills because they had moved, for example, from an agricultural economy to an industrial economy. The kind of treatment required by elderly parents and grandparents was not being given. Medical techniques were not provided. The Government of the country were not in the position to help in the years after the war when they were one of the relatively poorer Governments.

There was a period of 15 to 18 years before the refugees were transferred from the camps and there were similar situations in the Middle East about which I do not wish to speak at length. The wrong kind of economic development was encouraged because we had failed too often to see things from the point of view of the people for whom the economic aid was being provided. We must avoid that mistake in the future.

On the question of the kind of administration, the starting point must be at ministerial, or Lockwood Committee, level, with the assistance of the Ministry. There is need to find out a great deal more about what is necessary for the receiving countries. I am sure that we shall find we need a great deal more middle level techniques, the artisan level to which my hon. Friend referred. It is possible to send a person with a degree in agriculture who will be less capable of handling a situation than a man with perhaps a diploma. Similarly, an engineer with an H.N.C. may not be as useful as one with an O.N.C. If, in the whole range of economic activity, we seek to place too much emphasis in what is being done at graduate level we shall miss the great important of providing middle-range people.

In education, one finds it much more necessary to deal with the kind of situation referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, West (Mr. James Johnson), who spoke of the need for placing teachers at points in the economy or administration, in territories of Africa and elsewhere, where they could help to train other teachers. This is of vital importance. It may be that we should adopt the techniques which were still being used towards the latter end of the last century in this country, when senior secondary school pupils became pupil teachers. We must adapt the methods to the needs of the countries concerned.

Having made these detailed points about the content of service I wish to deal with what might be referred to as the political level. I do not mean that in a party political sense. We have had lengthy comments about the Peace Corps and emphasis has been placed on the need to keep away from too much Government interference. The need has been stressed for voluntary agencies to operate and I do not deny this need. Having been with the International Service Department of the United Nations Association I would take it a step further. I think it of vital importance to ensure that our philosophy on international service is basically right. It should be international. We should be making a grave mistake if we continue to think, or begin to think, in terms of a British equivalent to the American Peace Corps. I do not mean in organisation, but in conception and in our attitude of mind. It would be a serious mistake if all the Western European countries and the Soviet Union and China moved in the same direction in this sphere of activity. Before we reach the stage—which may not be too far distant—of a whole series of national peace corps, as it were, competing with one another in Africa, South America, the Far East and the Middle East, I would urge that our Government, together with others, should raise this matter at United Nations level.

It is now 10 or 11 years since there was a conference of the World Federation of United Nations Associations, which agreed that it was desirable to seek the sponsorship of an international service agency through the United Nations. The delegates came back to their countries with the intention of raising the matter through their own parliamentary procedures. I believe that at that time there was a meeting in the House, at which representatives from the United Nations Association, British branch, spoke to Members of Parliament about what was discussed at the conference.

This was listened to with interest. Nothing was pursued except that United Nations Association representatives in this country left the meeting—which was, I think, in 1954—and decided to go ahead and show that such a service organisation could be created under United Nations auspices. They began the development of what is now known as the United Nations Association International Service Department. The first jobs which they did were in the flooded areas of Holland the following year and they then began to operate in the camps in Europe, in Hungary for example. Personnel were sent out to Africa, South America and other countries.

At no time has the idea of a United Nations international service department been resurrected. I would urge that, before we reach the stage of political competition in very sensitive areas of the world, this matter should be reopened, and that, instead of talking in terms of the British contribution or the French, German or American contributions, we should begin to talk in terms of a genuinely international contribution in which we would participate.

I should like to link this conception of international service as I should like to see it with the growing interest in the social service of one kind and another which can be found in this country already. In this, the International Voluntary Service—S.C.I. in its international heading—has again been the initiator. It was founded in 1920; I think that the first British branch was opened about the middle 'twenties. For many years now, I.V.S.—joined as the years have gone on by similar bodies undertaking international service projects in this country—has been sending people abroad to join them in other countries, not just in the poverty-stricken areas but in Europe as well.

I would like to see a greater effort of co-ordinating these activities at Government and local authority level and encouraging them. I read only the other day that another committee has been set up under the auspices of the Department of Education and Science to give further thought and consideration to community service along these lines in this country. I would suggest that it would be unfortunate if one Department were encouraging community service of this kind within its own administration while another Department—the Ministry of Overseas Development—was encouraging international service, whether on com- monwealth lines or on the international lines which I have suggested. It is necessary to get together and create a link of the kind which the I.V.S. and the United Nations Association and others have already been trying to establish during the years which they have been doing this work and extending it.

I tended, in my opening remarks, I think, to give the impression that we should concentrate less on the cash and more on how the small items are spent. I would not wish to leave the House with that impression. I believe that more money needs to be spent and I hope that the Minister will not mind if I remind him of what I consider to be a very unsatisfactory answer to a Parliamentary Question which I asked of his right hon. Friend the Minister some weeks ago. I urged that greater encouragement and financial help to I.V.S. and the international service of the United Nations Association should be given. The answers which I got were in reference totally to the graduate scheme.

I tried to urge then that while the graduate scheme through the Lockwood Committee was of great importance and very desirable and that it was a very welcome thing that the Government were providing 75 per cent. of the cash to enable the volunteers to go overseas, it was also of great importance that greater help should be given to these organisations for other aspects of their work. It is not confined to sending graduates overseas. There is a need to assist them generally.

I hope that we shall see much greater administrative and financial help given to this work in future and that the whole of our approach to it will be with the objective of encouraging the establishment of a genuinely international service, as distinct from a national corps, such as we have seen growing up in certain countries in recent years.

2.25 p.m.

Photo of Sir George Sinclair Sir George Sinclair , Dorking

Like other hon. Members, I wish to welcome the Motion and to say how glad I am to have been present when Members, dedicated as a result of experience or of their assessment of the needs of the overseas countries and the needs of the youth of this country, have brought this matter forward. Both have a contribution to make, separately.

I shall confine myself to the subject of voluntary service overseas. I know that this is not the only service in this field, but it covers 80 per cent. of our overseas effort of voluntary service. There is, I am sure, plenty of opportunity for international service also. But I do not think that we should hold back, in any way, in developing to the full a service which has caught the imagination of the country, is most welcome to the receiving countries, and is now appearing as a real torch to our youth.

It is not right to say that we are in national competition with the Peace Corps. In fact, Voluntary Service Overseas preceded the Peace Corps. It was the late President Kennedy who, announcing the foundation of the Peace Corps, mentioned that it was built on the lines of the forerunner, Voluntary Service Overseas.

The two services are not in competition, either in their concept at the centre or in the field. They are complementary and they can and do help each other greatly. What we are interested in are the results in the countries in which they work and in the effect on the volunteers who take part in those services. Also, I believe that there is plenty of room for other services to work in this field. I believe that when we have something as good and as dynamic as Voluntary Service Overseas, we should give it all the backing we can.

I am glad to know that the Ministry of Overseas Development is giving this movement all the help which it can absorb while remaining a truly voluntary and independent organisation. The scope of the task has been described by other hon. Members. The great needs of the developing countries for economic growth and the wide gap between the developed countries and the developing countries. I will not enlarge on that today. Hon. Members are quite well seized of the urgency of the task.

I shall, if I may, say something about my personal involvement in this. I went to a mixed school in Ceylon with Tamils, Burghers, and Singhalese, when I was very young. My children went to mixed schools in Cyprus. I spent about 20 years in West Africa, much of the time living in villages and working at the grass roots to which the hon. Member for Willesden, East (Mr. Freeson) referred. I was working on just the sort of problems on which many of those now going in Voluntary Service Overseas will find themselves working when they get to their destinations. I can see why this conception appeals to the youth of today. They can see the need. They want the opportunity to go out and to serve. I think that this movement, which has made such an impact on the young people of this country, has a great future ahead of it.

But let us look at the main problem which we are trying to face—the demand of the developing countries. It is, I think, at its most intense in the demand for trained or competent manpower. The special demand is for teachers. Indeed, over 70 per cent. of those who go overseas under the auspices of voluntary services go into teaching. But they also supplement technical assistance in many other fields. There is, in particular, an increasing demand for industrial apprentices or trainees. Many hon. Members have spoken about this need. I believe it to be urgent. Some industries have, for several years now, taken a lead in sponsoring their own trainees in going abroad under V.S.O. But this demand should, I suggest, also be met by trade unions and organisations such as the Co-operative movement. All have a part to play in persuading industry to support and finance these services and to help to interest young trainees and apprentices in the opportunities of such voluntary service abroad.

I should like to say a few words about the origin of V.S.O. I was in Africa when Alec Dickson was working in community development very shortly after the war. It was he who got the voluntary service going in this country. It was grown very rapidly. The Peace Corps was founded on the model of V.S.O.

V.S.O. has been outside party politics, and I pray that it will remain outside party politics. This desire is, I believe, common to all sides of the House. V.S.O. is a great gathering of the country's ideas in meeting an opportunity for service where service is badly needed. It has caught the imagination of youth. Let us not blunt youth's enthusiasm for it by getting it "mucked about" by party politics. I believe that we have the same duty on all sides of the House; it is, I suggest, the duty of anybody concerned with V.S.O. to keep it outside party politics, whether we are dealing with it in our constituencies, in the House or anywhere else.

It is a voluntary movement; it started as a voluntary movement, and the people who offer their services are volunteers. A great deal of the finance is in the form of voluntary contributions. It is true that the service is now subsidised by the Government as to 50 per cent. or more, but I believe that a great deal of merit lies in keeping the voluntary element both in the financing and in the staffing of this organisation. It is not only those who go but those who help them to go who make a contribution to this work.

Moreover, the help which our voluntary service offers is voluntarily sought by the asking country. Our people go by invitation to carry out tasks which cannot be fulfilled by the manpower which that country has been able to muster within its own development or from its own villages. This is the essence—that this is a short-fall of manpower and that these countries are sending out signals asking whether we can help them in a particular project. When a volunteer goes overseas, he goes to a task for which there is an urgent need—and that is the best possible basis for relationship with the country which is receiving help.

Voluntary service overseas, of course differs from the Peace Corps greatly in organisation. The Peace Corps is a State agency and is far more elaborately staffed; it has far more people in the field, and they go abroad for a period, on average, of two years, which justifies the longer training which the Peace Corps gives to its volunteers before it sends them out. But there is, I believe, no rivalry. Indeed, there is such a field of help to be covered that rivalry would be criminal. The services are complementary and should remain so.

I very much hope that, when he intervenes in the debate, the Parliamentary Secretary will say that it is the Government's intention to keep the voluntary element strongly represented in this movement. The demand for help from voluntary services overseas is growing. The demand for teachers, and especially for graduate teachers, is almost insatiable. This is the biggest manpower demand in the developing country. There is also a growing demand for trainees and apprentices from industry to help in development projects and in technical colleges and to help, where these countries are in greatest need, in getting their own artisans trained.

But if we confine this effort to graduates, at a time when so many professions and industries are competing for them, we shall not meet the demand. When graduates have finished at their universities, many of them need to get on with earning their living and founding their family lives; they have to get on with the job for which they are trained. There is a far greater scope among those coming out of the schools of all types, for many of these can afford one year abroad; and I believe that, if asked, some of them would afford two years.

Photo of Mr William Molloy Mr William Molloy , Ealing North

The hon. Member has put in a nutshell what I tried to say in part of my speech. Where we have the skilled graduate who goes overseas to make a contribution, there is a danger of his contribution being vitiated because of the lack of skilled artisan labour to support him in his initial ideas.

Photo of Sir George Sinclair Sir George Sinclair , Dorking

I emphasised the need for trainees and apprentices from industry. But the need in every field is so great that there is no cause at all to think that the supply of one will vitiate the supply of another.

We are very short of teachers in this country, and the greatest need overseas, too, is for teachers, as I have said 70 per cent. of the volunteers who go overseas go into teaching. Some of them had never thought of going into teaching in this country before they took up teaching roles in the voluntary service overseas. A niece of mine recently went straight from a university out to Colombia in Latin America and taught there in a university for a year. So taken was she by teaching and the need for teachers in Britain, she has returned to this country and is teaching in Deptford. She intends now to take a diploma in education and to go into teaching.

I believe that voluntary service can be an extra help in supplying teachers in this country. Although we may lose them for a time, they enrich their experience while they are abroad. How much better they will be when they go into schools in this country if they have had experience of coping with the difficult conditions overseas and of adapting themselves to a hundred new and unpredictable situations every day. It is a great enrichment.

I should like to make a plea for extra support for the voluntary service overseas. There are already 50 centres in this country, sometimes based on local authorities, sometimes based on rotary clubs, sometimes based on universities, who are doing a fine job in bringing the work and scope of the voluntary service overseas to the attention of young people. They are attracting the interests of all the youth leaders, the masters of the schools, everybody engaged in youth work, explaining to them the opportunities in this service. In that way they are bringing young people into contact with these new opportunities abroad.

They are also gathering groups of people who are giving financial support and sponsoring a few volunteers each year. Representatives of these groups are then allowed to take part in the preliminary selection of candidates. They also help to keep in touch with volunteers overseas; and, when the volunteers return to this country, they asked them to address groups of young people and thereby pass on the torch and their own enthusiasm.

My final point is about the process of selection. If the demand is to continue, and we are to keep these channels open, we must send people who have a contribution to make either in enthusiasm and competence or in acquired skills and we must send people who are tough and mature enough to stand up against some very difficult conditions in many of these places. We are doing the future volunteers a great service if we are tough in our selection. Good candidates are to be found in all types of schools. I refer to people who are physically tough, but also adaptable; who have a sense of purpose and dedication.

People should be chary of criticising the process of selection as being too tough. We cannot afford failures. At present this year, there are more than 700 volunteers overseas and I am happy to say that none has been returned as unsuitable. This is a magnificent achievement on the part of those who have selected these young people for service overseas.

There is much more I should like to say, but I appreciate that other hon. Members wish to speak. I conclude by congratulating the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy). We are all grateful to him for having given hon. Members this opportunity to pay tribute to the organisation which is sponsoring these volunteers and also to the volunteers themselves for what they are doing for overseas countries and for the richness they will bring back to life in Britain.

2.43 p.m.

Photo of Mr John Tilney Mr John Tilney , Liverpool Wavertree

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Dorking (Sir G. Sinclair), I, too, congratulate the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy) on having initiated this important debate.

I thought that the hon. Member for Ealing, North was a little hard on the industrialists when he spoke of the absence of cloth in Africa. I urge him to go to Kaduna, to see the textile mill which was established there many years ago by the great Lancashire firm, White-heads, which takes so much of the cotton production of the Northern Region of Nigeria. Indeed, the hon. Gentleman should do all he can to pursuade his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to alter the Finance Bill to make it easier for British firms to establish new industries in the developing countries.

Many hon. Members have said that not sufficient is known about the subject we are debating. I have some evidence of that in a circular which was issued by the Liverpool Committee of the V.S.O. in November to 77 grammar and high schools in the Liverpool, Wirral and Chester areas. Only 29 schools bothered to reply or take any action at all. Why was that? Is it that there is a feeling that many first-class young men and women who apply are rejected? In fact, about one in three are accepted. It is not a bad thing that the standard should be so high. Is it that a minimum of one year's service is required—only a small number go for a shorter time—and that one year is too long for many of those who have passed their A-levels and are waiting to go to university? Or is it that there is a feeling that only few girls are taken? In fact, about one-third of the cadets are girls.

The export of people is our most important export. Those who go out from this country are indeed representatives of the United Kingdom. As the object of all aid is to render itself superfluous, so some of the projects will have to change as the developing countries become more developed. Despite this, it will be a long time before a demand dries up. As my hon. Friend the Member for Dorking said, there is an immense demand, not only for graduates but for ex-apprentices. I understand that last year 83 ex-apprentices were called for, but only 43 were recruited. No fewer than 25 were asked for by Eastern Nigeria alone.

I am glad that reference has been made to the American Peace Corps. Whenever I have had the privilege of meeting members of the Corps and the V.S.O. in countries overseas I have found that they have got on together extremely well—they have constantly collaborated in many ways—although the Peace Corps has vastly greater resources and the conditions, certainly at its headquarters, are immensely superior to the headquarters of the V.S.O. America is famous for traditional hospitality and I have found that the members of the Peace Corps have carried that tradition extremely well in overseas territories.

I welcome what my hon. Friend the Member for Dorking said about the V.S.O. I remember meeting Mr. Alec Dickson when he was working in Man O'War Bay at the Outward Bound School, in what was then the British Cameroons. He and the Bishop of Portsmouth had the great vision of the V.S.O. The V.S.O. acts as a kind of middle man, which, through the British Council—and I pay tribute to its work; it is the overseas arm of the V.S.O.—inspects, advises and reports back to this country on projects put forward by host Governments. By that means the voluntary organisations can send out the right type to the right job. While many of these jobs are not likely to be very spectacular, they require men and women of the highest calibre.

I have seen a letter from the former headmaster of Eton, reporting on his visit to volunteers in Kenya, Uganda and Dar-es-Salaam. He wrote: Without exception every head of a school where V.S.O.s were working, whom I met, spoke to me of them with enthusiasm. That is indeed a good report.

I commend to the House the three objects set out by the V.S.O. It is worth while repeating them. They are: (1) To help the developing nations solve their economic, technical and educational problems by offering them the skills and talents which are part of our heritage.(2) To improve relations and break barriers in a multiracial world by providing a field in which young people from different environments may make friendships and widen sympathies.(3) To give to young men and women an opportunity for adventurous service and fit them with tasks in which their idealism may find expression. It is a job for the flower of British youth, challenging and inspiring them to do a very worth-while job, strengthening their character, demanding self reliance, and engendering a spirit of service.

The type of work that requires to be done has been mentioned but I do not think that anyone has pointed out the time available for training. Most volunteers are required to go early in September, as most projects start between July and October. There is therefore not very much time for training—indeed, one of the problems is that there is neither enough money nor enough time for training. The volunteers must be fit, and I urge parents to see that their children declare any illnesses or ailments that might come out in tropical conditions. I like the remark of one returned volunteer, who said, "My only regret is that Africa has given me very much more than I have given Africa." One is proud to recognise that sort of spirit.

I hope that the Government will do all they can—and I know that the Civil Service and some corporations do this—to see that their jobs are kept open for volunteers. As it is, those who have a career in front of them may find it difficult to go to a developing country for a year if they feel that they will be left behind on the promotion ladder. The more they feel able to go back to their previous job, the more likely they are to apply to go overseas. I would pay tribute here to my own City of Liverpool, which endeavours to do this. It is also one of the leaders in modern music and, of course, in football, and one of the few corporations to sponsor volunteers overseas.

Some parents are ignorant of the conditions facing volunteers and they should be reminded that the British Council looks after their children very well. They are always met on arriving in a developing country. In the case of illness, the best available medical treatment is provided free of charge. The volunteer is not called upon to make any financial contribution at all, and the food and accommodation provided, though simple, are adequate in every way.

Liverpool has a very active committee—one of the 50 committees mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Dorking. It produces some very good newsletters, which net only keep contact betwen the volunteers overseas and those who have sponsored them at home, but bring in parents and friends. The following appeared in one newsletter: Last autumn 13 young people from Merseyside returned home after completing a year abroad, and in the past few months 29 fresh volunteers who live in the region or were educated here have left for service. Of these 6 are being sponsored directly by V.S.O.'s Merseyside Committee—more than any other regional committee in this country, thanks to the generosity of local individuals, companies and trusts The more this can be done in other regions the better. One of those sponsored is the son of Mr. Reginald Bevins, the former Postmaster-General.

The second newsletter will give people on Merseyside and elsewhere an idea of the jobs that are being done: Helen Crompton, from Speke, is teaching in Ysabel, in the Solomon Islands. Her experience if life in the Islands has included getting stuck on a reef in a canoe on Christmas morning, wading waist-deep through rivers, and cooking dinner for the visit of the High Commissioner… A volunteer from Heswall is working on a community development project in New Guinea, which at present involves building an airstrip. These are exciting and thrilling jobs that have to be done, and which need much initiative, spirit and common sense to see that they are done.

I should like to know whether the Parliamentary Secretary agrees with what has been written to me by a friend of mine, a don at the University of Liverpool, who writes: As to Voluntary Service Overseas, in my experience this has been of immense benefit to the students who engage in it before coming to the University…This, however, with one proviso, that the student concerned should not in any way prejudice his future career by it, and that means that he should obtain good "A" level marks if he can get them before he leaves, and secondly, his school should make the necessary arrangements on his behalf to secure a university place for him when he returns. That can best be done by personal contact between the school head and the head of a university department. We could mortgage our places a year or two ahead in this way, though it is all rather complicated by the University Central Council for Admissions Clearing House scheme. I should very much like to have the Parliamentary Secretary's comments on that aspect.

There are not enough graduates. There are not enough ex-apprentices. I believe that there are enough of the right spirit and character in the cadet section to be splendid ambassadors for this country and who would go out and give their services without expecting any monetary return.

The United Kingdom has shown the way to the Peace Corps. V.S.O. was earlier in establishment and it has shown that the youth of Britain is not effete. If the tensions between the rich and poor nations are to be relaxed, if we are to come closer together—and this is an immensely important job which we all have to tackle—there is no better way than through voluntary service overseas.

2.59 p.m.

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

I, too, would like to congratulate the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy) on his good fortune in the Ballot and on his choice of this subject. I must say that I look upon his good fortune with a little envy, having been in the House for 15 years and never having succeeded in winning the Ballot. It seems slightly unfair that he should do so after only six months. However, I can assure him that any envy is more than made good by his choice of subject today.

This is a subject which hon. Members on both sides of the House want to debate and which, they feel, we do not get sufficient opportunity to debate. Perhaps it highlights one of the paradoxes of our Parliamentary life that a subject on which there are no great party divisions tends to be, however important, a subject which, alas, gets neglected on the Floor of the House and for time for which we are more dependent than otherwise on the wisdom of private Members in taking opportunities to bring them before us. I am sure that we are all grateful to the hon. Member for his choice of subject, as I have said, because not only have we had an interesting debate about an important subject, but it has been a debate in which hon. Members from both sides of the House have brought to us direct personal knowledge as well as a great interest.

The Motion has as its main theme the appeal to youth and the part that youth can play. I am sure that young people need an ideal, something outside themselves as a purpose to serve. So does the nation as a whole. A major theme is ready to hand in this theme of service to the developing countries, to help them in the battle against poverty and the ill health, ignorance and lack of any fullness of life which inevitably go with poverty.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Sir F. Bennett) made only too clear in some of the personal experiences which he gave us, poverty of a degree which people in this country can scarcely comprehend, unless they have been overseas and seen it for themselves, is stultifying the lives of hundreds of millions of the world's population, and it is a poverty which is liable to get worse and not better unless we who live in the rich countries intensify our efforts. On present trends, the world's population will double in the next 30 years and most of that staggering increase will come in the areas where poverty is already at its worst. It will need an enormous effort of development if we are to maintain present standards, still less succeed in increasing them.

Basically, this task of development can be accomplished only by the efforts of the developing countries themselves. It cannot be done by aid. Aid can only help at the margins. We must help, we must do all we can to help, as must other rich countries, but basically it can be done only by the developing countries themselves. Let us be quite clear about it—they want it that way. Not only do they know that they have to do it that way, but they want it that way, because they are looking not for charity, but for help.

I am sure that it is a moral challenge which this country has to accept to give them as much help as we can possibly afford. While it is a moral challenge, I have never thought it wrong to declare that it is also in our self interest to give them this help. It is in our self interest for two main reasons. The tension created by the growing gap between the richer and poorer nations could in the end be as dangerous to our existence as the threat of war itself, and perhaps one of the most likely causes which could lead to a war eventually would be if that tension were allowed to grow. The other self interest is that we in Britain cannot hope in the long run to find big enough markets for our exports—and, as we all know, without them we cannot maintain, let alone increase, our own prosperity—unless there is a big increase in the standard of living and therefore the purchasing power of the major part of the world's population. So there is this self interest as well as the moral challenge.

In the last six or seven years, Britain's aid expenditure has more than doubled and last year was running at about £175 million a year, approximately 90 per cent. of it going to the Commonwealth. We all very much hope that the economic position of this country will be such that that expansion will continue year by year.

It is not only British public aid expenditure which helps these countries. British private investment also plays an important part, and until a year or two ago it was providing about another £150 million a year for the developing countries, making a grand total from this country of something over £300 million a year—more than 1 per cent, of our gross national product. Unfortunately, in the last year or two, private investment has declined for various reasons. I promise not to be controversial about this today, although we may wish to be controversial about it on another occasion, but it is a fact that, unfortunately, the actions which the Chancellor of the Exchequer took recently in his Budget are bound to give a further push downwards to British private investment in developing countries.

Another very important British contribution has been the voluntary campaigns—Oxfam, Freedom from Hunger, and the like—in which hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of our people have played a part by their donations and active interest and work.

But the principal point of this debate is to bring out that gifts and loans of money and goods and food, however important, are not enough, or even the principal part of the task which we have to undertake. What is needed most to help the developing countries to become self-sustaining is the transfer of knowledge and understanding on a vast scale—knowledge about how to grow better crops, how to manufacture better and new products and how to manage the organised processes of government. This is a matter of service by people. It involves essentially the exchange of people. It involves us in bringing many people from the developing countries to Britain to train at our universities and technical colleges, in our industries, and the like. Here for some years we have been playing a part second to none. It also involves—and this is the main subject under debate today—sending British people to serve overseas.

Fortunately, the call of distant parts and the attraction of working and serving overseas has been strong in Britain for many generations—indeed centuries. In the past that call could easily be satisfied in the form of a whole life's career. Many people have gone out from this country, whether they be in the Services, in government, or in industry and commerce, to live their working lives overseas.

It cannot be denied that for many reasons the opportunity of a lifetime career for British people overseas has declined, is declining and will probably continue to decline. But that does not mean to say—and this is one of the reasons why the debate is important—that there are not vastly growing opportunities for shorter periods of service overseas. This is one of the things which it is most important should be understood more widely in the country.

One of the causes, perhaps, for a certain inward-looking approach in this country in recent years has been the feeling that there is no longer a need for British people to serve overseas. But I believe that there is, even though it takes an entirely different form. The new Englishman—and I suppose that I must also say the new Scotsman, new Welshman and new Ulsterman—going abroad will increasingly have a wider range and variety of experience and skill with essentially a home-based career, but will give up a few years of his working life to serve in developing countries overseas. There is an enormous and growing need for this sort of service, and it should be more widely understood in the country. That is why I welcome the fact that the Motion ties the general need with the practical need for publicity if this point is to be understood. I agree about that, but a few qualifications about publicity are necessary. If I now make them, I hope that what I have already said will make it clear that I am not qualifying this drive for publicity in any carping sense, certainly not in any sense which lacks enthusiasm. It is, however, extremely important that the information and publicity to our youth should be carefully directed in content and direction.

It would, for example, be a bad thing if as a result of too big a wave of publicity to all our schools we were to stimulate a really large offer of voluntary recruitment for overseas, which would be frustrated because, although the places for those people abroad might potentially exist, they had not been organised and, therefore, the volunteers found themselves turned back. That would not only disappoint them and frustrate them, but it would have a bad effect on those coming after them. Therefore, the publicity effort must be matched to the growth in demand from the developing countries.

It is true that by our own organisation we can help to stimulate and organise that demand from overseas, but in the end it depends upon the actual requests which come forward from the independent Governments of the developing countries. We cannot overcome that fact. We cannot simply say, "You need these people" and send them out. The independent Governments must be aware of their needs, define them and put them forward in actual requests to which we can respond.

The rate at which we stimulate recruitment must also be conditioned by the growth of the organisation of the voluntary societies in this country which are dealing with the voluntary overseas effort. It has been clear from the debate today that while we pay great tribute to the work of the American Peace Corps, we feel that we are in an entirely different position and that we are right to keep this volunteer service of young people away from being a Government agency and, therefore, in the hands of voluntary organisations. When I looked at this matter when I was the Minister responsible over a year ago, I had no doubt that it was worth even sacrificing something in the rate of expansion to keep this independent voluntary basis for our young people going overseas to give this service.

My second qualification about the type and purpose of our information and publicity to schools is that it must be designed to stimulate the right sort of recruits at the right stages in their careers. Several hon. Members have said in the debate that we must have regard to the skills actually required by the developing countries and also the age at which developing countries want to have people. Here again, it is in the end the wishes and the desires of the developing countries themselves that we have to meet rather than our own wishes or desires or what we, in our wisdom or lack of it, think that the developing countries want. We have to cope with what they themselves want.

At this point, it is important to put into perspective the pattern of British service overseas. I was glad that this was referred to by several hon. Members, notably my noble Friend the Member for Hertford (Lord Balniel), as well as my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Sir S. Summers), my hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Mr. Goodhart) and hon. Members opposite. If we are not careful, there can be too easy a comparison between the scale of our volunteer effort and that of the American Peace Corps. They are not comparable. They ought not to be comparable. In saying that, one is not in any sense taking a superior attitude to what we are doing compared with what the American Peace Corps is doing.

What has to be taken into account if we want to compare the British and United States effort in this field is that in total there are more British people serving in the developing countries than there are people from the United States. Our young volunteers comprise only one strand in our efforts, whereas in the United States they comprise easily the biggest strand in theirs.

We really have three strands in our overseas service. They number, as my noble Friend the Member for Hertford pointed out, between 15,000 and 20,000 British men and women working in the developing countries, a very large number. The first strand is the strand of the permanent career officers, the relics—I use the term in no disrespectful sense—of the old Colonial Service. This category is inevitably declining in number year by year, because, although most of them are now working as officers, not for Britain any more, but for the independent Governments of the developing countries, those Governments are fairly rapidly, and naturally, replacing them with their own nationals. So that is a strand of overseas service which is declining. It is being replaced, as much as we can, as I understand it, by the second strand, namely, recruitment on a contract basis for two or three years' service overseas of professional men and women in this country, with home-based careers, who go overseas on contract for a short time. This is the major strand. Then there is the third strand, our young volunteers, and they, too, are growing in numbers, and I think that we all hope that they will continue to grow in numbers.

However, in talking about having an increase in the number of our young volunteers we must take account, as I say, of the desires and wishes of the developing countries themselves. Because what is it they want? First and foremost they want to have men and women from this country who are both qualified and experienced. That is what they want first of all. They can get them from Britain, they can get them from France. They cannot get them on such a large scale from, for example, the United States. That is not a criticism of the United States. It is an effect of the different traditions and histories of the different countries. The developing countries first of all want qualified and experienced people, and when they have got as many of this sort of men and women as they can get, then they are very glad indeed to have our young volunteers to supplement them. I think it may well be, as my noble Friend said, that as the years go by there may be in the developing countries a smaller differential between the graduate volunteers and those undertaking contract work. They may come together. I think it is too early to say. However, for the moment those countries first of all want qualified and experienced people from here. It is no disrespect to our young volunteers to say so, but in our enthusiasm to see an increase in the number of our volunteers it is a fact we must take into account, and we should be very foolish not to do so.

Then the other thing which we have got to take into account, if I may say so with respect to the hon. Member for Ealing, North who moved the Motion, and perhaps to one or two other hon. Members who have spoken, is that the developing countries are not short of labour. Therefore, we must not try to stimulate recruitment for our people to go overseas to do jobs which can and should be done by the people of the overseas countries themselves. We must realise that there could be sensitivity on this point in those overseas countries. Therefore, that is why, although one is easily inclined to say "Hear, hear" to the suggestion that we ought to have more artisans and more levels of skill, I am not so sure that that is really so when one reflects a little more fully about it. Of course, we want to send artisans—I do not like that word, but it has been used today and so I go on using it—but not very large numbers of people in order to go out to do those sorts of things, but rather as trainers, in order to help them in those countries to train their own artisans.

Photo of Mr Thomas Williams Mr Thomas Williams , Warrington

One appreciates, of course, that one does not want just to flood the under-developed countries with labourers when they have plenty of their own, but on the other hand, for instance, bricklayers, people with agricultural experience—those sorts of people—could go to enable the workers of those countries to pick up those skills of which they have now only the most rudimentary knowledge. I think that what my hon. Friends and I were saying was that while we send people with high levels of skills we should send out people who can work with the ordinary working people out there—on the floor, to put it that way—to teach them these practised skills.

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

As long as one is sending these people with the emphasis on teaching the local people rather than doing the job for them then I agree and I think it is worth bringing up that point. I think the difference on this is more apparent than real. It is something on which I think we all agree.

With the needs of the developing countries in mind I think we should realise that publicity to the schools, as far as stimulating recruitment for volunteer service overseas is concerned, should be limited to those schools with sixth forms, technical colleges, agricultural institutes, the apprentice schools of large industrial undertakings, youth organisations and the like. I do not believe that it would be much good directing such publicity at secondary modern schools because it would be directed at people who would be too young when they leave school for immediate recruitment overseas even if they had enough skill and experience. I want to make it clear that secondary modern schools, and all schools, should have as much general information as possible about the needs and the opportunities in respect of service overseas and about the real conditions overseas. The publicity should create among these younger people a climate of opinion which they will carry on into later life when they will be of age and experience when their services will be needed. I do not think it would be wise to direct immediate recruiting propaganda at children in schools without a sixth form.

Photo of Mr Reginald Freeson Mr Reginald Freeson , Willesden East

On this point I do not think it was ever intended that youngsters should be encouraged to leave school at 15 and 16 and then go abroad. But there are youngsters who will go into apprenticeship training and later in that period could serve in other countries. I have personally witnessed this.

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

I fully agree with the hon. Gentleman. The only other things I want to say about publicity is that I think that all our publicity to the schools and colleges must be matched—and I know this is more difficult and we are trying to make it more effective—by publicity directed towards employers and professions. We are not going to get people feeling as free as they would like to be to volunteer after leaving school and university, before starting their careers, to undertake a period of service overseas unless it can be regarded as something which stands to their credit in terms of progress in their career or employment at home. This is not yet sufficiently widely understood by employers or leaders of professions and there must be publicity on this point.

Publicity must also be directed towards the population at large in order to condition parents. This is particularly so when we are talking about youngsters volunteering for a period overseas because parental support is extremely important. I have felt until quite recently this was pretty readily forthcoming but I have heard it said recently, I cannot really judge what substance there is in it, that there is some fear arising among parents now about letting their children go overseas at an early age. There may also perhaps be some disillusionment with the purpose. I hope these reports are wrong but I think we should guard against them. Therefore our publicity efforts should be general which is why I am glad that films are being made and will soon be shown on this subject. We ought to give great attention to creating a favourable atmosphere of opinion throughout the population, not only among school-leavers. Perhaps one might say in passing that we ought to have a special course for girl friends, because I suspect that they could be one of the strongest deterrents for the young man thinking of serving overseas for one or two years.

I conclude by putting a few questions to the Parliamentary Secretary. First, I have one or two questions to ask on the subject of our young volunteers. When will the hon. Gentleman be telling us something about the plans for the 1966–67 season? I share the concern expressed about this by my noble Friend the Member for Hertford. The hon. Gentleman will know—and we have exchanged views on this at Question Time—that I was at pains to announce the plans for the yearing beginning September 1965, that is this year, as early as February of last year, and I am a little concerned that the plans for the year beginning September, 1966, are not yet known, because, from what I have got to know about the subject, it seems to me, that this is a field where in finding projects overseas, in recruiting, in the selection machinery, and so on, we have to plan some time ahead if we are to get the expansion that we would all like to see.

I do not necessarily agree with all that was said by my noble Friend the Member for Hertford—although I agree with most of it—but I should like to reinforce the importance of the subjects which he put before the House. I think that they are worthy of, indeed require, most serious consideration by the Government. I think that what he said about organisation, selection, pre-training, and so on, are subjects which, if we are to expand the young volunteer movement, are in need of careful study, and perhaps even some change.

Can the hon. Gentleman tell us, if not today, by some other method, perhaps in a statement in answer to a question, how the work of the Council for Volunteers Overseas, which was established under the presidency of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh just over a year ago, is going on? This is particularly relevant to this Motion because the prime purpose of this Council was to stimulate interest throughout the community. It was not to have executive powers, but was to be a focus of national interest, and we would like to hear how the Council is going on.

Moving away from volunteers to more general matters relating to overseas service, may I ask the Parliamentary Secretary whether he has any information about how the recruitment of professional experts is going? Over recent years it has moved upwards in an encouraging manner. Has the hon. Gentleman got later figures which will show that the curve is still upwards as we all hope it is?

Can the hon. Gentleman give us any information about creating a professional service for overseas work? This was raised by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, West (Mr. James Johnson), who referred to the Estimates Committee recommendation of a few years ago being turned down by my old Department. I think that it was right to turn it down because I do not think that a general overseas service would have met the needs, and the reasons for that decision were explained in a White Paper tabled by my predecessor. But, having turned down what I do not think was a good idea, I think that we have now reached the stage where a more limited service, or perhaps a series of services, in different professions, forming a permanent career nucleus of expert advice in teaching, medicine, agriculture, and other things, could be very valuable.

Can the hon. Gentleman give us any information about what action his Ministry is taking to create more posts in home-based institutions over and above what are strictly necessary for home needs? If we are to get a surplus of people who have the security of a home-based career, but are free to go overseas for a few years, it follows as a natural corollary that in many home-based institutions we must have more people than we require for the work at home. A small start was made in this direction under my old Department of Technical Co-operation. I hope that we shall go further in that, and I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to say something about it today, or in the near future.

There are many other questions that I could ask, but I will restrain myself and ask only two. Can the hon. Gentleman tell us whether there have been any new developments in establishing links between universities and other educational establishments, including at technical college level and their counterparts, in the developing countries? Can he also give us any more information about the development of the Study and Service Scheme, of which the sending of teachers to East Africa was the classic first example—where teachers went to Makerere University, finished their professional qualifications there, and in return undertook to go on teaching for a year in that part of the world? When I was in the old Department of Technical Co-operation we felt that this was a useful and practical development, which I hope will be further extended.

I am sure that never has there been a greater opportunity than there is today for British people to serve abroad. Nor has the welcome for them been more warm than it is today. I am sure that we would all agree that we must do all we can to make it possible for more British people to go. If only enough British people will pack their bags and get out into the world, not any more to rule but to serve, to aid and also to trade, there will be no doubt about Britain's rôle in the world—no question about whether we are inward-looking. On the contrary, there will be a sense of confidence and purpose, and a faith which comes from knowing that we shall be using our inheritance for the service of the future—both our future and the future of the developing countries.

3.31 p.m.

Photo of Mr Albert Oram Mr Albert Oram , East Ham South

First, I join with the right hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) and other hon. Members who have spoken in this most valuable debate in congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy) on his good fortune in the Ballot and his choice of subject. Unlike the right hon. Member for Mitcham, on one occasion I was lucky in the Ballot and was ambitious enough to persuade the House to appoint a Select Committee to examine its procedures and to reform them. My hon. Friend has been rather more ambitious; he wants to reform the world. I do not say that in any facetious way.

My hon. Friend has chosen a most important subject, and I am sure that he will feel gratified with the tone and policy of the debate that has hinged upon it. If he has any disappointment, I suspect it is that—as I know from my conversations with him—he thinks that the debate has tended rather to over-emphasise the voluntary service aspect of the Motion. But he has made me aware, as his speech did, that he has in mind the need for a broader area of recruitment, not only for volunteers, but for those in paid appointments overseas. Perhaps some of my remarks will redress the balance.

I am glad that my hon. Friend stressed what we would all wish to stress, namely, that in offering new thoughts and in suggesting new lines of attack he was not offering any criticism of what has been and is being done. He made it clear that although he wants information to be passed to schools of all grades, and desires school-leavers of all kinds to be made aware of the opportunities for service overseas, this is not to be taken as a criticism of the valuable work of recruitment that now goes on both for the cadet division of Voluntary Service Overseas and, particularly, in the work of the Lockwood Committee in the recruitment of graduates from the universities.

Likewise, I do not in any way wish to criticise or introduce any element of party clash in this matter. We recognise that in the recruitment both of volunteers and full-time workers we are building where the right hon. Gentleman left off. Considerable progress was made within the Department of Technical Co-operation. We are hoping to move forward, but we recognise the sound foundations upon which we are able to build. Perhaps at this point I might attempt to answer one or two of the specific questions put to me by the right hon. Member for Mitcham. I am not able to give him all the specific information for which he asked, but I am sure that he appreciates this. He asked me when an announcement is to be made about the programme for next year in terms of volunteers. I am aware of the need for as much notice as possible in this matter so that plans can go ahead. I assure the right hon. Gentleman that the matter is being actively pursued and I am hoping, as soon as I possibly can, to make an announcement.

I will consider what publicity might be given to the Council over which the Duke of Edinburgh presides, although I think that the right hon. Gentleman will recognise that this is not a Council within the confines of the Ministry, so to speak, so that it is not for me to advertise the valuable work which the Council is doing. However, I will consider whether or not a suggestion can be put forward as to how the value of the Council's work can be made more widely known.

On the question of a career service, the expansion of the home-based and the alternative to a career service, that is, the rather smaller specialist corps, these are subjects which are actively being considered in the review of recruitment which has been announced by my right hon. Friend, but I think the House will recognise that this is not something that can be done in a flash. It has to be carefully examined, profession by profession. We are very much aware of the virtues of the expansion of the home base concept and upon that I think that we should be able to report progress.

As to the Study and Service Scheme, I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that this was a most important initiative which was taken. I have not any figures to offer the right hon. Gentleman here, but this service is proceeding in Makerere, which he mentioned, and there are moves to extend it elsewhere, particularly in connection with Salisbury. It is a most promising sphere of activity.

The right hon. Gentleman also asked how the programme of recruitment of full-time personnel is going. He will recognise that I have no full year figures to give him, but up to the end of April this year 523 appointments had been made. Since the main recruitment season has not yet come upon us I think the right hon. Gentleman will recognise that at this stage this is promising evidence.

The Motion which the House is considering is rightly centred upon the need to inform youth—our school-leavers, our students—about the possibilities which exist for helping in this enormous problem of overcoming world poverty and misery. We in the Ministry welcome very much the terms of the Motion moved by my hon. Friend. I would just say, however, that although the Motion refers to youth, this is something which is much broader than an appeal to youth. Everyone, of every age almost one could say, has something to contribute in some way or other. There are enormous opportunities throughout the world and, indeed, in this country whereby anyone with the right understanding of world problems and with the spirit of adventure and willingness to serve one's fellow men in an international sense can do this.

I share the sentiment expressed by the right hon. Member for Mitcham about the need and the difficulty of gauging how far to go with publicity. If I may give a personal example, I made a public speech in which I urged the same kind of message as has been urged today by my hon. Friend in his Motion. After making such a speech one gets a spate of correspondence. On examining my correspondence I found that there were a number of very good letters, but, at the same time, quite a number of the writers, however well intentioned, through some lack of understanding—as it would appear from their letters—were not exactly the kind of persons who would find an opportunity in this field.

This is not to say that publicity is dangerous. It is very much needed. One aspect of the debate which I welcome is the fact that it will attract attention and add to the necessary publicity, but there is the opposite difficulty that publicity can be so easily overdone.

I have pointed out that the Motion deals with paid employment and voluntary service. I wish to say a word about each of those aspects. Before doing so, perhaps I might enumerate a number of points—I was glad to notice that in several instances they were the same as were put forward by the right hon. Gentleman—which are connected with the consideration of full-time employment and voluntary service. A number of important considerations apply to both. The first was emphasised by a number of speakers; it is that developing countries do not want manpower as such.

I noted the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, East (Mr. Freeson), in a particularly well-informed speech. He said that in not every case is there an unemployment problem and in not every case is it true to say that developing countries would not welcome unskilled labour. I think that my hon. Friend would accept the general proposition that the problem of the developing countries is not one of manpower generally, but of skills. People with qualifications and skills are very much needed.

Here we come to what I am sure is the nub of the Motion. We should not have too narrow, too academic a conception of what constitutes skills or qualifications. I feel that sometimes not only we in this country but the people responsible for affairs in the recipient and development countries set too great a store on a piece of paper listing particular qualifications. These are not unimportant but their value could be overestimated. We must recognise that practical skill combined with the right character and experience can be equally as valuable—in many cases it may be more valuable—as what might appear to be a perfect paper qualification.

I am sure that it is true that a skilled electrician, or a mechanic who could maintain vehicles such as tractors, and the people referred to by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warrington (Mr. W. T. Williams) skilled in the management of co-operative societies, not necessarily as general managers of large retail societies but perhaps in some less exhalted position—bookkeeping or something of that kind—given the right arrangements—and here there is a big question mark—could be of enormous value overseas.

My second point is that, both in regard to what we are asked for and what we are able to supply, there tends to be a preponderance of teachers. When one looks at the world scene, one is not surprised, because one of the giant enemies against which we are fighting is the enemy of ignorance. It is natural that people who are coming to new nationhood, conscious of their ignorance and that of their children, should be desperately anxious for teachers of all kinds. Therefore, we are right today to stress the need for other kinds of skills. This does not mean that we think that there is undue emphasis on teaching as a vital need in the poorer parts of the world.

I would stress, also, that there are other places where one can teach than in the classroom. There are other methods of learning than under a formal teacher. I go along with all the hon. Members who have said that the important thing is to have the skilled man—the electrician or the mechanic—living and working side by side with people who are hungry for that kind of skill and teaching them by that work, in the same operation as maintaining their vehicles, and not necessarily in the classroom.

My third point is one which was taken very fairly and well by the right hon. Member for Mitcham. It relates particularly to certain phrases in my hon. Friend's Motion, and the question at what age it is sensible or efficacious to appeal to young people. One wants to make an appeal to all kinds of schools, but one is up against the fact that at some schools, children leave at the age of 15 or 16. This is too young an age—my hon. Friend recognised this—to make a direct appeal to them to go, six months' hence, to serve overseas. But it is not too young—this is what I think my hon. Friend has in mind—to instil in them a knowledge of the opportunities, and to inspire them with the will to take part themselves as soon as they reach the proper age, to form themselves into part of this vast peace army which is needed.

My hon. Friend suggested that it might be possible to have a register. I am not sure that that would be practicable, but we shall certainly look at it. One envisages that there would be a great deal of change in a young person's outlook between the ages of 15 and 20 and a change in his or her circumstances. There might not be a very efficient way of keeping touch. This is a tremendous problem with which I have been wrestling, and I have not yet reached a solution of how to be able to keep touch with the people who either did not go to a school at which the normal leaving age was 18, or to a university where there is another natural break at the graduation point.

It is at these two points that greatest successes in recruitment for voluntary work come about. These are the points at which school-leavers, so-called, and the graduates, so-called, are recruited, but for the others there is no such natural time break. This does not mean that we have to be defeated in our effort to get these other people to come along; it just means that the problem is much more difficult. It is only one of a series of difficulties which face us in this connection. This does not detract from the value of my hon. Friend's suggestion, because even at the age of 15 or 16 there is work to be done. There is a job to be done for Oxfam or some of the other voluntary societies which is just as valuable as packing up one's bags and going abroad to do a year or two years' service.

My fourth general point, which applies both to voluntary service and to full-paid employment, is that it is easy to arouse enthusiasm, to get volunteers and to get people anxious to work overseas—we must do this, and are doing it—but it is more important to make sure that we can effectively channel the energy which we arouse. We know, of course, overwhelmingly, that there are jobs to be done, but the important administrative task is to fit the right person into the right place at the right time. Although as a general proposition that sounds all right, it is not always so easy to achieve it in detail.

This is related to a point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, West (Mr. James Johnson), the hon. Member for Beckenham (Mr. Goodhart) and others about the need for a more effective liaison overseas on our behalf to make sure that, in conjunction with the overseas government, we know what suits their purpose and how the job which they invite us to do fits into their own development plans. I entirely agree that it is very important to make sure that the personnel we recruit are the kind of people that they want and that the work which they will do will be of the most benefit to their economy.

The fifth general point, which again was pin-pointed by the right hon. Member, is that it is not enough to appeal to young people. We also need to create a climate of opinion among their employing organisations of all kind, private and public, local authority and national, to make them aware that service overseas is not a handicap or an unpleasant necessity but an enormous asset. Short as we are of teachers here, and illogical as it may appear to send teachers abroad for service overseas, they will come back better teachers. This should not, therefore, be regarded simply as some assistance which we are giving to the developing countries. It is very much a two-way business. We gain just as much as we give through this process.

I must be much briefer, I fear, in dealing with the particular points which apply, first, to full-time paid appointments and, secondly, to voluntary service. I stress that the British contribution in transferring skills abroad is not strictly to be compared, as some hon. Members have compared it, with the American effort; in other words, what we do on a voluntary basis cannot be compared with what the Peace Corps does on a similar basis, because that would forget the 10,000 British people who are serving abroad under the Overseas Service Aid Scheme, of which there is no American equivalent. I do not want to enter into a Dutch auction on this—no one does—but I stress that a large part of our contribution is not in the voluntary service but in the full-time employment which we provide through special inducement payments and additional expense allowances.

Secondly, in connection with full-time appointments, we must take account of the specific needs which are put to us by overseas Governments. They tend to be for teachers, trainers of teachers, people for essential administrative posts in the public services and expert advisers who can analyse development problems and help them get their development projects off the ground; in other words, high level people.

I am wondering whether perhaps this pattern of requests has become somewhat conditioned by what they believe we can most suitably provide. If overseas Governments knew that there was a spirit abroad as expressed in the Motion—that there is a different kind of human material in this country willing to serve if only the proper organisation of their skills can be made—the pattern of demand made to us in the form of requests could change in a way which would facilitate the purposes which my hon. Friend has in mind in the Motion. I am sure both that there is an enormous need for what my hon. Friend the Member for Willesden. East, called the middle grades of technology and that there is an enormous sphere of recruitment at present untapped which we should try to use.

Time is short so I will make a few comments about the voluntary services. I endorse everything that has been said in praise of the voluntary organisations. There has been some emphasis from this side of the House on the I.V.S. and from hon. Gentlemen opposite on the V.S.O. I will, therefore, say nothing about either, beyond stressing that they are two partners in a fourfold partnership and that we should also remember our friends in the United Nations Association and the National Union of Students, who are equally joined in the Lockwood Committee.

The hon. Member for Dorking (Sir G. Sinclair), speaking about the Peace Corps, said that we should not get into an atmosphere of rivalry but realise that everything we can do is all too little in face of the enormous problem that exists. So it is with the various voluntary organisations in this country. They are not rivals, but partners; and we have the voluntary organisation of the Lockwood Committee to ensure that their work is co-ordinated.

I am sorry that I missed the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Hertford (Lord Balniel). I have been told that he made a constructive and well-informed contribution and I will certainly read his speech in the OFFICIAL REPORT, particularly since I believe that he made a number of suggestions on how the work of the Lockwood Committee might be improved and strengthened. I assure him that I am interested in that possibility and that I will consider his suggestions closely.

I endorse what has been said about the great value of the voluntary principle in all this. One who has been schooled in the voluntary co-operative movement does not need to stand up and say that he believes in this principle. Since I have been in my present office I have been impressed by the way in which the value of voluntaryism is not only in the Co-operative movement, which I have known so well, but also in the recruitment of volunteers for service overseas, which I knew less well until my duties brought me closely in contact with it.

I assure hon. Members that, so far as my influence goes, it will be to build upon the machine as I have found it. That does not mean—and that is why I responded as I did to the suggestions of the noble Lord the Member for Hertford—that we must rest content, be complacent and say that because we have a group of organisations which are doing splendid work we can leave it at that. We are conscious of a gap and, Mr. Speaker, I am conscious of the time. I do not know whether you wish now to put the Question.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House, whilst appreciating the effort that is being made to help the developing countries, and believing that the youth of Great Britain would welcome the opportunity to make an effective contribution in this sphere, urges Her Majesty's Government to ensure that information and opportunities for all forms of service in overseas development are brought to the attention of students in our comprehensive, grammar and secondary modern schools, as well as those at universities, in the firm belief that the youth of our nation is eager and able to make its contribution to a better world.