Jim Wallace – 1985 Speech on the Youth Charter

Below is the text of the speech made by Jim Wallace, the then Liberal MP for Orkney and Shetland, in the House of Commons on 9 January 1985.

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to promote opportunities for young people in International Youth Year 1985 by establishing a youth charter giving rights and representation to young people: and for connected purposes. I am pleased to be able to seek the leave of the House to bring in this Bill on the first sitting day of 1985, which is International Youth Year. At the earliest possible opportunity in the year, the House could, by giving me leave to bring in the Bill, express its concern for the problems faced by our young people, and its faith and confidence in them, by extending to them the rights and opportunities that would be contained in the youth charter that I propose.
I have referred to the problems faced by many young people. Regrettably, for many, this new year is no new dawn of hope. Four unemployed people out of 10 will be under 25 and 350,000 people will be on training schemes without the certainty of a job at the end. With 22,000 fewer university places than five years ago—equivalent to the closure of two universities the size of Cambridge — many young people will have their academic aspirations frustrated and will be denied the opportunities enjoyed by myself and my contemporaries only a decade ago. In 1985 drug abuse by young people will reach unprecedented levels, as will juvenile crime.

It is idle to expect that one Bill could remedy these many wrongs. Other political measures requiring Government initiative will be necessary. My right hon. and hon. Friends and I would welcome the appointment of a Minister to co-ordinate Government policies affecting young people. We are in danger of allowing a generation of young people to grow up many of whom feel totally alienated from the society and community of which they are members. During International Youth Year, my hon. Friends and I will try to bring before the House a series of measures which, if supported, would signal to the young people of our country our awareness of their problems and our willingness to respond to them.

In proposing a youth charter, it would be all too easy for me to fall into the trap of patronising the young or telling them what is best for them. Rather than do that, the charter would seek to establish rights and to create a framework within which young people could participate more fully in the affairs of the community and the decisions that affect or shape their lives. I hope that the charter would reflect the themes of International Youth Year: participation, development and peace.

Under the heading “participation” we would hope for greater involvement by young people in decision-making. We would propose a lower voting age and a lower age for candidature. At a time when the future of the world is in the hands of two super-power leaders in comparison with whom our own Prime Minister is a young chicken, is there any relevance in considering those at the other end of the age scale? The young have an important stake in the future, and what they lack in experience may be more than compensated for by the fresh ideas that they can bring forward. A number of causes now coming to the fore in politics — for example, environmental concern — were espoused by young people long before they gained political respectability.

At local level, we believe that there should be a right of youth representation on a number of local committees, including health councils, school and college boards and local education authority committees. There is a precedent in the case of the churches for the inclusion of representation on local education authorities. It seems reasonable, therefore, to extend the principle to the consumers of the system.

We believe that there should be an input into the local Manpower Services Commission committees from young people on youth training schemes. Those who take part in the schemes could put forward useful proposals for their improvement. We also believe that there should be greater youth representation on the local police authority. That view is in line with the recommendation of Lord Scarman in his report on the Brixton riots. This is yet another example of how involvement, and the responsibility that goes with it, can break down the barriers of hostility and alienation which are often found in relations between young people and the police.

We also recommend democratically elected local youth councils. They would be a forum in which young people could express their anxieties to statutory bodies in their areas. The worries of young people in decaying inner cities are very different from those of young people in rural communities, and it is important that someone should represent and communicate the views of young people.

With regard to development, a young person must be able to develop his personality. He can do that inadequately if he is unemployed, insufficiently trained or educated, or poorly housed. We should establish as a right the opportunity for all teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 to have a real choice between continuing in full-time education, taking a place on a much improved training scheme and finding employment. I admit that that would require resources, but it is not an especially new or radical suggestion. In International Youth Year, we should be prepared to look to the examples set by France and West Germany in the training and education of young people.

When young people want to take the initiative and create their own employment through co-operatives or self-employment, for example, statutory bodies such as the Council for Small Industries in Rural Areas, the Welsh Development Agency and the Highlands and Islands Development Board should have a remit to provide financial assistance and, more importantly, legal, managerial and marketing advice and expertise.

I am aware that some young people fail to develop their personalities through disadvantage, especially because of race or disability. The charter proposes a youth service which is managed substantially by young people to cater for the needs of such groups.

Development will not be confined to the individual—the wider community would benefit from the greater involvement of young people. A recent opinion poll, which was published in The Times, showed that 78 per cent. of 15 to 24-year-olds support a scheme for all young people to do voluntary community service on leaving school. Some voluntary schemes already exist. With the minimum of bureaucracy, we should like local bodies to be set up to ensure proper co-ordination between community and voluntary efforts.

The measures that I have outlined are by no means exhaustive. The third theme which ties them all together is peace.

It is regrettable that we cannot legislate to create peace. However, we can establish a framework and an environment which fosters and promotes peace. A youth charter would try to do just that. It would try to ensure peace of mind for a person who might be frustrated by inadequate employment, unemployment or because his academic aspirations have been thwarted. It would promote peace in communities by encouraging participation and trying to break down barriers. When the House debates the great issues of world peace we should remember that few have a greater interest in it than the youth of today.

In commending the Bill, I ask the House to support measures that will promote the cause of youth, and allow the voice of youth to be heard. Perhaps more importantly, I ask the House and politicians of the older and not so old generations to listen to the voice of youth and pay heed to their anxieties and ideals in International Youth Year.

King George VI – 1946 King’s Speech

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Below is the text of the speech made by King George VI in the House of Lords on 12 November 1946.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

During the Session that lies before you my Government will seek by all means in their power to promote the well-being of my people and to enable the nation, by its example and leadership, to play a worthy part in the advance of all nations of the world towards greater freedom and prosperity.

My Ministers will shortly meet representatives of the United States, Russia and France to discuss the future of Germany. It will be their aim to establish in Germany conditions which will foster true democracy, will guarantee the world against further attempts at world domination, and will remove the financial burden which the occupation has laid on my people.

I trust that at an early date a treaty will be concluded with Austria which will enable all forces of occupation to be withdrawn from that country.

The control of Japan and the measures taken to bring about a stable and just settlement in the Far East will remain the concern of my Ministers.

The General Assembly of the United Nations has resumed in New York the session begun in London last January. It will be the policy of my Government to share fully both in these discussions and in the meetings of those other international bodies which have been created to foster mutual help and understanding among the nations of the world.

I earnestly hope that the preparatory work for an International Conference on Trade and Employment which is now proceeding in London will lay the foundations for an increase in international trade over a wide area and for the maintenance of a high and stable level of employment in all the countries of the world. My Government will use every endeavour to bring these and wider international discussions to a successful conclusion.

My Ministers will continue to develop the existing intimate understanding and close working relations between this country and the self-governing members of the British Commonwealth.

My Government will forward by every means at their disposal the policy with regard to the governance of India laid down in the statements made by them and by the Mission of my Ministers which recently visited India.

Steps are being taken to hold elections in Burma early next year, as the necessary preliminary to further constitutional progress.

In the territories for which my Government are responsible they will seek actively to promote the welfare of my peoples, to develop the economic life of the territories and to give my peoples all practical guidance in their march to self-government.

The Queen and I are looking forward with the greatest pleasure to the visit which we propose to pay to South Africa early next year.

Members of the House of Commons,

Estimates for the public services will be laid before you in due course.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

My Government will press on with the conversion of the national economy from war to peace and will endeavour to ensure that the resources of the nation are effectively employed for the common good.

It will be an urgent task of my Ministers to encourage an increase in the productivity of industry and so to secure the greatly increased flow of both consumer and capital goods needed for the raising of the standard of living of my people and the expansion of the export trade. In particular, my Ministers will, in fostering the growth of industry, continue to pay special attention to the needs of the development areas.

My Ministers recognize the urgent need for securing an adequate flow of volunteers for the Regular Forces, and their efforts to stimulate recruitment will be intensified. The reconstitution of the Territorial and Reserve Forces will be begun at an early date and my Government will bring forward a measure providing for the continuation of national service from the date when the present transitional scheme comes to an end.

My Ministers will do all in their power to increase the supply and variety of food and to see that it is efficiently and equitably distributed. They will also prosecute with the utmost vigour the task of providing suitable homes for my people, and will seek to ensure that those most in need of it have first claim on new accommodation. They recognize that the housewives of the nation have had to bear a specially heavy burden owing to the shortages of houses, of food-stuffs and of other consumer goods. It will be their constant endeavour to alleviate the hardships and inconveniences caused by this legacy from the years of war.

All necessary action is being taken to enable the school-leaving age to be raised in April of next year.

A measure will be laid before you to bring inland transport services under national ownership and control; and you will be asked to approve proposals to deal with compensation and betterment in relation to town and country planing and otherwise to improve the machinery of planning.

A Bill will also be submitted to you to bring into national ownership the electricity supply industry as a further part of a concerted plan for the co-ordination of the fuel and power industries.

Valuable reports have already been received from working parties appointed to make recommendations for the better organization of a number of important industries, and you will be asked to approve legislation to enable effect to be given to their recommendations.

A measure dealing with exchange control will be placed before you, and you will be asked to approve legislation to provide for the amendment of the Companies Act and for the establishment of a commission to purchase, import and distribute raw cotton.

Proposals will be laid before you to give effect to the plans prepared by my Ministers for the efficient development of agriculture in this country, based on the system of guaranteed prices and assured markets for the principal farm products, and to give permanent effect to the transfer of wage-fixing powers from the local agricultural wages committees to the central Wages Boards.

Legislation will be submitted to you to provide for the establishment of a comprehensive health service in Scotland, and to consolidate, with amendments, the local government law of Scotland.

You will be asked to approve a Bill to provide for the establishment of a Ministry of Defence.

Measures will be laid before you providing for the arrangements consequent upon the termination of the National Fire Service and for empowering local authorities to operate civic restaurants.

A Bill will be introduced to give effect to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, signed at Chicago on the 7th December, 1944.

Other measures will be laid before you if time permits.

I pray that Almighty God may give His blessing to your counsels.