I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to initiate this debate. After reading some of what the newspapers have had to say about it, your Lordships must be wondering what to expect. It has been said that I am today launching a new crusade to re-moralise the nation. It has been said that I am about to deliver a boring sermon. It has been said that my main concern is to relaunch my own image. It has been suggested that I shall be enunciating a Right-wing moralistic agenda or, alternatively, a Left-of-centre agenda associated with New Labour. I hope that your Lordships will not be disappointed to hear that I disavow all these intentions. Your Lordships will be particularly pleased to hear that I know the difference between a pulpit and the Bishops' Bench in this House.
I hope that we can avoid a twin danger in this debate. On the one hand there is a temptation to drift into a "golden age" mood in which we assume that in the past our people were better, more moral and more decent than they are now. This is at best an unhelpful over-simplification. We should not, for example, underestimate the strong moral concern of many young people today as manifested in their concern for many forms of human suffering or about the environment. The second danger would be to regard debate about the moral and spiritual dimension of education as a more or less harmless diversion for people of a religious inclination, so they can get a few anxieties about modern society off their chests.
No, we are talking today about a very serious issue for the future of our country which challenges us all, whatever our religious belief or philosophy of life, to own up to the values which we wish schools to impart to our children.
Noble Lords will be aware that this House has a long-standing concern for the moral and spiritual dimensions of education, and was indeed responsible for inserting these as primary purposes of education on the face of the Education Act 1988. It is, I think, a good time to remind ourselves of these wider dimensions of education. We have heard a great deal lately about standards in schools, about examination results and about the requirements of a competitive economy. These
Against that background, may I pinpoint two major concerns? The first is the moral climate in which we are educating and "forming" young people. If I may use an analogy, we are reliably informed by the medical profession that there is such a thing as passive smoking. That is to say, non-smokers may, without realising it, be affected and even damaged by the lifestyle of others who happen to smoke. The same is true when it comes to the moral health of a nation. One of my most consistent concerns since I became Archbishop of Canterbury has been, in common with other religious leaders, to highlight the dangers of moral relativism and privatised morality. There is a widespread tendency to view what is good and right as a matter of private taste and individual opinion only. Under this tendency, God is banished to the realm of the private hobby and religion becomes a particular activity for those who happen to have a taste for it. Many people now find it embarrassing to talk about either religion or morality in public, and the traditional vocabulary of moral discourse--for example, virtue, sin, good, bad, right, wrong, wholesome, godly, righteous and sober--all these terms have come under acute contemporary suspicion, as though their validity has disappeared along with traditional sources of authority.
This takes me into my second concern: how may we strengthen the moral fibre of our nation and challenge the pervasive notion that nothing is ultimately good, noble, true or right? Like some other Members of your Lordships' House, I was privileged to watch several games of soccer in the recent European Cup. It was a marvellous tournament on which the organisers deserve our congratulations. We take it for granted that you cannot play a game of football without rules. Rules do not get in the way of the game; they make the game possible. It is strange that what we take as so obvious for games we deem unnecessary for life. That is not to trivialise what we are debating. Rules which make life worth while and keep relationships faithful and true are inextricably linked to the deepest things we believe about God and values which transcend us all. Our nation, steeped so deeply in the faith and values of the Judaeo-Christian tradition, has traditionally found our rules shaped by the Ten Commandments and the teachings and example of Jesus Christ. And yet we are in danger of squandering this inheritance.
Moreover, we all know that the toughest moral decisions are not always between right and wrong, but between two "rights" which pull in different directions. So we desperately need our young people to learn both the basic rules and the judgment needed with which to confront the constant dilemmas of life.
This brings me to a partnership we need to secure between all involved in the important task of nurturing and forming young people today. I want to emphasise most strongly how wrong it would be to load all our anxieties about the spiritual and moral state of society on to schools. Overall, I am told that on average children spend about one-fifth of all their time at school. We have to remember that four-fifths of their time leaves them exposed to other influences--including the media--and there is relatively little that schools can do if too many of those other influences are pulling in a different direction. In my view, most schools are far more moral places than are the places where many children find themselves outside school. The family is of primary importance. Many school teachers feel that their efforts to develop moral and spiritual teaching are not supported by families, who are giving their children quite contradictory messages. Many other players in the wider society are also very important as role models. Indeed, many young people will not take moral education from people who fail too conspicuously to live up to their own professed values. More generally, I believe that many schools feel that if society itself is too confused and reticent about its shared beliefs and values, it is difficult for schools to have the confidence that comes from feeling authorised by society to teach them to children. It has to be a partnership with families, schools and the wider community all pulling together so far as possible.
Naturally, as a Christian leader, I believe that the Christian faith and the Christian traditions, which are so deeply embedded in our culture, are enormously important sources of guidance and help in addressing all those questions. At the same time, I want to acknowledge the importance of owning up as a society to what we share in common, and that in this quest people of minority faiths and people who do not subscribe to any organised religion have a vital part to play. I am, therefore, very pleased to highlight that significant SCAA initiative and commend it to your Lordships. It is good news that the commitment and interest are there to motivate such an initiative. There are also encouraging signs that the explicit incorporation of moral and spiritual goals in the 1988 Education Act is working its chemistry in a number of different areas of school life. I am pleased that the moral and spiritual development of pupils is now the subject of Ofsted's inspectors' comments. It makes it more difficult for these concerns to be marginalised. I am pleased that schools have been encouraged to produce more positive mission statements about the values they seek to embody and teach, and the involvement of parents in discussing and interpreting such statements is healthy.
If I may say so--and noble Lords may expect me to say this--I believe that it is a good sign that so many parents obviously wish their children to go to Church schools. Needless to say, I am not trying to score a cheap point here at the expense of other schools, but the fact of the widespread popularity of Church schools shows the importance which many parents attach to the ethos and to the structure of values as a positive framework in which children can be educated.
There is also exciting scope for developing the moral and spiritual dimension right across the curriculum. I am sure that noble Lords do not need reminding of the inadequacy of "ghetto-ising" the moral and spiritual dimension of education in religious education lessons. It should surely be there in the teaching of the arts, of music, of literature, and of course in the endless mysteries of science and in questions about the use of science. I believe that there is a great deal to be done here in teacher training to help give teachers greater
I welcome the greater attention to religious education in recent years, and the excellent work which has gone into the agreed model syllabuses at national level and which has led on to fruitful engagement in these issues at the local level. I am pleased that the Department for Education and Employment has recognised that RE is a shortage subject and I hope that the recurrent plea for more resources for in-service training to help improve the quality of RE will be heard. In my view, it is good that at least 80 per cent. of primary schools hold a daily act of worship for every pupil, although I would of course much rather that 100 per cent. did so. It is a matter of concern that only 20 per cent. of secondary schools manage to do so. I sincerely hope that one result of the kind of discussions now being carried on under the auspices of SCAA about the importance of moral and spiritual education will in the long term help reinforce the will of governors and teachers to make the most of the rich opportunities of daily worship. The rhythm and the ritual of a simple act of worship at the start of the day will stay with a person throughout life, and will help to focus the whole of learning in a spiritual context.
In conclusion, I repeat that it would be unrealistic to load too many expectations on to schools in isolation from families and the wider community. But I believe that the fight back against moral and cultural relativism is under way and that schools have an important part to play. We all have a responsibility to support those who are seeking to explore in dialogue the shared values and beliefs which we hold dear and which we, as a society, expect our schools to transmit to our children. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach: My Lords, it is a great honour to follow the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury. I am sure that I speak for all Members of your Lordships' House in thanking him for raising this extremely important subject, which is frequently neglected and marginalised. As I know from having been in education for quite a number of years and being dean of a business school, raising such issues is difficult because the whole zeitgeist makes it very difficult to cope. However, I fear that almost everything I want to say is to affirm what the most reverend Primate has already told us.
The beginning is the importance of the individual and of personal moral values. I believe that they give an individual dignity, meaning and a structure to life; they give satisfaction. I believe that a moral and spiritual basis is crucial to our institutions. It is crucial to the family. If a family has a moral and a spiritual core, it is much more likely to hold together and much less likely to be dysfunctional. If a school has a moral and spiritual
If a company has integrity, responsibility and respect for individuals at its heart, in its mission statement and in its business principles, and practices those virtues, I believe that it is a better company and that people would prefer to work for it. If a nation has standards, and trust is fostered within the nation, I believe that it is a better nation.
I remember some years ago reading a book which had a great impact upon me by Professor Banfield of Harvard University, called The Moral Basis of a Backward Society. In that book, the professor looked at an Italian village which was based on amoralism and materialism and, frankly, the village did not work. It had fallen apart because there was no trust. The reason I believe that a moral and spiritual basis is necessary is that we, as individuals, are made in the image of God, and, if we pursue an amoral existence or if we deny spirituality and simply concentrate on the material, we are denying who we are and why we were made.
I should say that that does not mean that the material is unimportant. I strongly believe in the creation of wealth and in prosperity because, without prosperity, we could never do things in schools, in health, in affordable housing, in welfare, and so on, that we really want to do. If we as individuals and our institutions are driven by amoralism and materialism, I believe that that is a prescription for a backward society.
I believe that there are many forces which drive us in that direction. One is the charge that--it is a very personal thing; it is very subjective and very relative--we do not have any agreed standards. Secondly, it is very much easier to talk in debates in your Lordships' House about benefit levels, tax levels, or changing administrative arrangements than it is to delve into the "habits of the heart".
I am afraid that all of us are up against a prevailing world view which is totally opposed to the Motion of the most reverend Primate that we are discussing this morning. I say that because, in the West, the view has emerged, associated with the birth of the scientific method--which extends not simply to exploring the physical world but which also looks at the way human beings behave, starting with biologists, then socio-biologists and psychoanalysts and now geneticists, and so on--which says there is no basis for objective values, for moral absolutes or for an obligation to do what is right. That world view denies the existence of God; it denies the spiritual basis of reality, and it lacks any moral purpose. I believe that that world view has absolutely swept the board, especially this century. It is associated with the names of great thinkers such as Sartre, Freud and Marx. I am afraid that while I totally agree with the statement of the most reverend Primate that there was never a golden age in terms of morality, nevertheless when one looks at the way sexual mores have changed, or when one looks at the way the traditional family has been under assault, or the way the work ethic has been
As I said, I do not believe in a golden age, but if one looks at the social statistics of this nation on violence, drug and alcohol abuse, divorce and illegitimacy over 30 or 40 years, it is hard to believe that, as these indicators have shown a clear movement in one direction, the spiritual and the moral well-being of our society is not in decline. That is why I welcome the most reverend Primate's call to us to consider the responsibility of schools. They clearly have an important part to play by statute. The education Act states that the curriculum is to,
I wish to affirm what the most reverend Primate said in relation to the search for shared values. I do not wish to quote throughout this speech from books I have read, but I must quote from one other book, The Abolition of Man by C. S. Lewis. That book had a profound effect on me. It was written in the 1940s and it concerned the teaching of English in our schools. It also concerned moral values and therefore is particularly relevant to this debate. C.S. Lewis stated that if one looks at the great religions of the world, or if one looks at Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics or the Babylonian Hymn to Samos, old Norse and so on, one sees that,
My next point is perhaps simply a confession of my position but I believe that initiatives concerned with moral values are much more likely to succeed when they are underpinned by religious belief. The wisdom literature tells us,
I support what has already been said; namely, that schools can never be a substitute for the family. Teachers rely on parents. The values of teachers must be supported by parents. Parents have an enormous influence. I miss in this debate the late Keith Joseph and the support he gave to Home Start and to parenting. The Forum for Values in Education and the Community has suggested that the key areas of fundamental values are self, others, community and environment. I believe that the family based on marriage, which is so critical in passing on spiritual, moral and cultural values, should also be included in the work of the forum.
In conclusion, this is an important subject. Our society has been shaken by the prevailing assault on traditional values. However, I remain a person of hope. C.S. Lewis is right. All of us who are human beings know that certain things are right and other things are wrong, and that there are certain absolutes. I endorse what the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury has said this morning. I should like us to support his call to do everything possible to make sure that the moral and spiritual life of our institutions and of our nation is underpinned in every possible way by what we do.
Lord Morris of Castle Morris: My Lords, the whole House will be most grateful to the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury for introducing this debate. In the year of our Lord 1939 I was Master Brian Morris, aged eight, a pupil in Marlborough Road Elementary School, Cardiff. My form master was a brilliant young teacher from the Rhondda Valley called George Thomas, later to be known as the noble Viscount, Lord Tonypandy. We boys were always perfectly able to distinguish right from wrong: if Mr. Thomas said it was right, it was right; if he said it was wrong, we did not argue.
The head teacher was Mr. Theophilus--a fine name. He held school assemblies in which we learned the Ten Commandments by heart, the Lord's Prayer, the Welsh and English national anthems, and tonic solfa. Most of us went to chapel and to Sunday School on Sundays. Almost all of us went home to two-parent families. Fewer than 20 per cent. of us passed the 11 plus, but we all knew right from wrong. Right action was rewarded, wrong action was punished, often severely, and from that day to this I have never coveted my neighbour's ox, nor his ass.
As the most reverend Primate made clear to us, no such simple certainties are available to schools, pupils, or teachers in 1996. In this country we live in a multi-faith, multi-racial society, in which the tenets and sanctions of any religion direct the behaviour of only a small minority of the population. A few enclaves remain: church schools guide children in ethics and spirituality; Jewish schools present children with the requirements of the Torah; Islamic schools teach the Holy Qu'ran and the life and work of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. But the majority of our schools are secular in orientation, and are forced to
Only a foolish analyst would assert a simple, single causal link between that fact and the perceived evils of our society--drugs, violence, sexual offences, the rising crime rates, malice, hatred and all uncharitableness. The families, or lack of them, in which today's children grow up and learn their value systems are equally formative. So are the media, the lyrics of pop songs, and even the instant availability of all sorts of information via the Internet. One must also take into account that,
However, few would deny that the greatest shaping influences on the behaviour patterns of children are still those of the parents and the teachers; and it may be convenient to consider them in reverse order.
The morale of today's school teachers is not high. Neither is their pay. Their status, the respect afforded to them by society, has been severely eroded, and until all those are reversed their formative influence on the children they teach will not be as powerful as it used to be. This is especially true of religious education teachers. Only recently has the Teacher Training Agency persuaded the DfEE to allow it to take over the bursary arrangements for shortage subjects and added RE to the list. Yet, as the Religious Education Council has pointed out, that does not of itself solve the problems. The latest published evidence of Ofsted inspections shows that,
Religious education as a subject is a good barometer when we consider the formative influence of teachers on pupils. But in RE knowledge alone is not enough, and teaching skills are not enough. When I had the honour to be the Principal of the University of Wales, Lampeter, the Department of Theology and Religious Studies had a rule: Christian subjects should be taught by practising Christians, Judaism by a practising Jew, and Islam by a believing, practising Moslem. Would it not be a marvellous target at which to aim that in every school in the United Kingdom religious education should be taught by a teacher who personally believed one of the faiths and practised it? For he or she would speak as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Rumour has it that this was suggested to the Secretary of State but that after careful consideration she felt that that would be a step too far just at present.
But the moral and spiritual health of our society does not depend on RE alone. All teacher training should include consideration of how moral values should be inculcated in schools. Much obviously depends on the leadership of the head teacher, but all teachers set an example, whether or not they want to. It is not a simple matter of wearing a tie, a suit, or a frock in front of the class, but of raising moral and spiritual issues as an essential part of subject teaching. This is obviously easy in subjects like my old subject, English literature, as the life and work of Dr. F. R. Leavis makes abundantly clear. But chemistry must include consideration of the moral questions in the use of pesticides; biology must give time to whether animal experiments, euthanasia, and abortion are compatible with reverence for life; and physics must face up not only to the nuclear bomb but to the costs versus the benefits of space research. And these moral issues must be part of the examinations students take, up to and including GCSE and A-level, and marks and grades must depend on understanding them. Otherwise they are bolt-on, optional extras that can be dropped at will when the going gets tough and you are dropping down the league table.
The Secretary of State has announced that there will be a national curriculum for initial teacher training. Good. I urge that. I plead with her to ensure that it goes deeper than numeracy and literacy, and teaches teachers how to encourage children to see into the heart of things "as if we were God's spies". The TTA recently uncovered disturbing misuse of the so-called Baker days when teachers are supposed to be training. Teachers were using them to catch up on administration and to tidy the cupboards. Baker days should be used to teach teachers how to raise and maintain moral tone in schools. That is the highest priority. To do that job teachers must be respected by society, valued by the communities, trusted as professionals by parents, put back in the classroom and paid much higher salaries. It is a sad fact that today respect is given to the highly paid, and low-paid workers are despised. Teachers must not be in that category.
It is easy to say that moral standards must, of course, be established by the family before the child goes to school. Well and good. But divorce, single parenting, working mothers, unemployed fathers, create difficulties of vast proportions unknown to British society 50 years ago. My daughter, a health visitor, told me of one of her flock--a young lone mother with four children under seven by four different fathers, all absent, whose only salvation is the television set because she can plonk three children in front of it, and they will stay there, while she dresses or undresses the fourth. That girl--and there are thousands like her all over the country--cannot set a moral agenda. She lacks the time, the resources, the knowledge and the will.
Parents must be taught parenting through parent education. It does not come naturally any more. Basic parent education must be included in the schools' curriculum--not just how to change a nappy, or bath baby correctly, but how to instil into children basic moral values like honesty, unselfishness and respect for others. There is a wonderful scheme in Liverpool, city-wide. And I think of the marvellous parents' class
The Schools Curriculum and Assessment Authority which, as the most reverend Primate has reminded us, the Secretary of State has asked to report on shared values in schools, could do much worse than to go to the City Lit. and see how it works. But the danger is that the SCAA will simply come up with the lowest common denominator of moral categories. Shared values means the lowest standards on which we can all agree. What we need is not to be told that to tell the truth is good, and bullying is bad, but to learn how parents and teachers together can raise and maintain moral standards in their own communities. Not "what", but "how".
May I finally offer some unsolicited, unrequested, undigested and possibly unwelcome advice to the Christian Churches as to how best they can take part in the Archbishop's moral crusade? I do so without the authority of episcopacy or even of ordination, but simply as a life-long, regularly communicating, church-going, fully-paid-up rank and file member of the Anglican Communion. In this moral crusade, the greatest asset will be the parish priest, Catholic or Anglican, and the Free Church minister. They, by example--by teaching and by preaching in every local community--are by far the best placed to raise and maintain the moral and spiritual standards of the nation. But they cannot succeed if they are denied the resources to do the job, and that means money. It means that parish clergy salaries must be greatly increased, and that means that the Church must pay for it. Free churches can teach the Church of England a great deal about this kind of thing. They know the value of their ministers and they pay them.
The community must be able to respect its pastor as a professional labourer worthy of his hire. The image of the penurious priest as the loved shepherd of his flock went out with Chaucer and Goldsmith. A priest must be paid more so that he or she can do the job without forever asking the PCC to pay for the telephone, the water bill, a holiday, a decent car to replace the clapped out banger: "Here comes the vicar, you can smell the exhaust". Parish clergy must be given status in society so that they can speak with authority and be heard with attention. People do not listen to paupers.
In every parish or community the churches must find and found a modern version of the Sunday school which will attract and hold and teach children the basics of the faith. Raymond Raikes' invention was a marvellous success, but it no longer works in that form. The replacement may mean operating through the state schools, or nursery schools, or playgroups or youth clubs, or via television or radio, but it is, in my
We have the Turnbull Report, so we can stop worrying about management structures in the Church for a bit; we have reached a generous conclusion in the long battle over the ordination of women, so we can go forward the stronger for it; there may even be a modest detente in the argument about liturgy. I will say no more of that. Now is the hour, with a general election approaching, to consider the moral and spiritual state of the nation in the light of the ideal. Sir Richard Livingstone said:
Baroness Seear: My Lords, I hold strongly the view that elderly, childless spinsters should not pontificate about the education and upbringing of the young. So I intend to confine my remarks to rather general statements which I hope will none the less have some bearing on the subject we are discussing.
I was glad when the most reverend Primate reminded us that there never had been a golden age. It would be a great mistake to think that we are in a condition of decline in relation to all that went before us. The slightest knowledge of history must surely correct that illusion: Restoration England, the England to which Wesley took his mission, full of drunkenness and vice; Boswell's London. I have here evidence given to the 1816 Royal Commission on the police in which a witness said:
That is not to say that all is well today; far from it. As it was put so graphically years ago in the Old Testament, the devil is marching to and fro upon the earth, seeking whom he may devour. It is the job of every generation to see that he goes hungry. But let us not imagine that we are in a state of total abandonment and that our forebears were so much better than we are.
Let us start with some reasonable optimism about where we might go and how we might handle the problem. Of course there is a great deal wrong; I would not deny that. But previous speakers have outlined the major issues--drugs, thievery, abandoned children and so on. How can we begin to deal with those issues? What is different today and what can be done to put things right? We shall never completely conquer the evils of the world; there will always be new evils, new battles to be fought, but it is our job to fight the ones that are here.
The most reverend Primate spoke about the development of relativism, the prevailing doctrine of relativism that there is nothing absolutely right or absolutely wrong. I wonder whether that is not more a subject of seminars, the chattering classes and the dinner tables rather than what is discussed and is taken for granted in pubs throughout the country. I doubt that relativism ranks high in subjects which are considered by ordinary people everywhere.
Also, are the relativists all that consistent? What relativist, faced with the Holocaust, would hesitate to say: "That is totally and unqualifiedly wrong"? Once that is said, the relativist has denied relativism. If you think something is totally wrong in one particular, then you cannot continue to be a consistent relativist. So while the development of relativism is unfortunate and to be deplored, I do not believe that it is anything like as all-pervading as many would have us think.
What is different and what can be done? One major development is undoubtedly the overall pervasion of the media, in particular television. I do not wish to indulge in television or media bashing, but an important change has taken place. There were always the media and the written press, but they did not penetrate into people's lives in the way that television does now. I find it staggering that we are told--and something becomes a fact if it is repeated often enough--that the population as a whole spend 27 hours a week looking at television. That is new. There was no opportunity for it in Victorian times; people would have done it if they had had the opportunity, but they did not. That puts an enormous responsibility on the television people. They have a penetration into society which no other organisation has--educational or whatever it may be.
Like all of us in this House, I have been involved in television. People come up to you but they do not say: "I've seen or heard you", they say: "I know you". That is because you have been in their house and talked to them in their sitting room. It gives us a power quite unrivalled by any other medium. It puts an enormous responsibility on people who control television. We do not know how they can exercise that responsibility more effectively. It has been said that what is on television does not influence behaviour, and research findings are mixed on it. It is difficult to believe that what people see on television fails to influence behaviour. If it does not, why do all of us in the teaching profession spend so much time developing visual aids? They are in order to impress on people that that is the way in which youngsters and "oldsters" learn. There can be no doubt that what people see on television has an effect.
People imitate. One of my brothers was responsible for the maintenance of the tallest building in Melbourne. Because it was the tallest building, it attracted would-be suicides to go to the top and throw themselves down. Incidentally, he was told: "Don't bother about anything except the top. If you are going to commit suicide, you want to make a show of it". The police told my brother: "Whatever you do, get the mess cleared up before the press come because, as soon as it gets in the press, other people will imitate the suicides". With the
People do imitate. Television is a wonderful way in which they learn to imitate. How we can control this I do not know. But I put it very strongly to those who control television that their responsibility today is greater than that in any other unit of society. It cannot be done by measures that are seen to be contrary to freedom of speech. It can be done only by self-control inside the media. If I do nothing else today, I want very much to draw attention to that point.
While I am on this subject, why do radio, television and other media have to concentrate so much on matters of sex when they discuss ethics and morality? I heard an example early this morning, when the most reverend Primate was interviewed. The interviewer immediately began cross-examining him about adultery. I am bored with the subject of adultery. That may not sound a very responsible remark. However, if we examine the world's great religions and the world's responsible humanists, of whom there are a very great many (I speak as an Anglican) there is a very wide measure of agreement about what moral standards should be. Where across the world do people deny that you should not kill, should not steal, should not lie and should not bear false witness? But the one area in which there is difference is sexual behaviour. It is rather important for us to consider that. After all, there are very responsible societies which accept polygamy. I suggest they accept it for very sound social reasons.
Years ago I did a job in Nigeria and was very much impressed by the problems that arose when polygamy broke down and its place was taken by what I call serial polygamy--having a single wife, one after another. But there were no ways in which women could earn their living. That had given a fair basis to polygamy, for which no substitute had been found. After that visit I had the opportunity to discuss the matter with a Catholic priest who had been in the mission field. I asked him: "Do you accept polygamy in the mission field, or not, in these circumstances?". With all the realism of the Catholic Church, he said, "No, we do not accept polygamy--but we are very careful whom we convert".
The emphasis on sexual morality in relation to all the other most important forms of morality is grossly overdone. If only we could shift attention away from it. I suspect it is there solely because it sells newspapers and increases radio ratings. Perhaps that is an unworthy assumption on my part, but I suspect it is not far from the truth. Use of the media is one of the major issues to which we must try to find a solution.
Let us be practical about the things that could be done. Compulsory schooling does not begin until the age of five. Was it not the Jesuits who said, "Give me a child until he is seven"? So the schools have only two-sevenths of the time in which to do the essential job. That essential job starts at home; it always has. Throughout the ages it has been done badly, and it has been done well, in different ways and in different places.
We have to take that point very seriously indeed. Women will continue to have careers, and that is right. We invest a great deal of money in that, and I for one would never wish to deny them that opportunity. But we have to make it a very great deal easier for them to do the real mothering job, which takes time and energy. How many of us meet exhausted mothers who are trying to do about three full-time jobs and as a result cannot do any of them properly? We need to consider the issue in great detail. There are no simple answers.
One answer is to give better standing and opportunity to part-time work, so that people can happily take it up. Another is to make possible their return to work, when mothers are satisfied that they have done the basic mothering job to a point at which they feel free to leave it. But I hope that we can get rid of the awful sense of guilt experienced by so many women, so that they feel unable to do these very important jobs properly. The fact that they are loaded with guilt in trying to do them handicaps them in the work that they are trying to do.
My time is running out, and I shall be brief. We have talked a lot about day nurseries. Everything that we are saying today underlines the point that, if we are to have good day nurseries, they must provide proper nurture and care, as well as education. I say once again: that cannot be done on the cheap.
There is a further point I wish to make about the development of moral standards in all of us, but especially in the young, about whom we are primarily speaking today. I have observed, both in myself and people I know, and in young people I know, that nothing develops one's sense of right behaviour and the problems of arriving at decisions on right behaviour as being given responsibility, having to make choices, and being answerable for the choices made, so that people are confronted with real, practical, ethical issues. I beg that we all pay as much attention as we possibly can to finding ways in which the young can be given opportunities to take on responsibility.
National volunteer organisations do a very good job in a number of ways in trying to bring youngsters into responsible positions and help them to carry them. The same kind of thing goes on in schools. Schools were not all wrong about prefect systems. Those positions may have been abused in a number of ways, but they did put before youngsters the necessity of facing difficult decisions and making judgments. I remember on one occasion finding myself at the BOSSI Institute--substituting for somebody else, needless to say. The one thing I got from that experience was the importance of making a decision whereby one had to choose the lesser of two evils, and the idea that to choose the lesser of two evils was in fact right. That took a great deal of understanding, and I have found it extremely useful ever since.
As a society we have lost our understanding of the importance of symbolism. Symbolism is a way of conveying meaning which we find difficult to convey through ordinary methods of communication. Symbolism seems to be dying in our society. I am not a rampant nationalist--far from it. But I have, as I am sure everyone in this House has, a deep regard, affection and respect for my country. One may or may not believe in having flags. But if flags are anything, they are symbols. It does not please me to see flags turned into the Union Jack, or a carrier bag or a cocked hat. That is a denial of symbolism. Let us scrap the flag altogether if we do not want it, but it should not be a cocked hat.
Similarly, symbolism has fallen away in human personal relationships. The use of the christian name used to mean something; it meant friendship, responsibility and commitment. Today, it normally means that people cannot remember what your surname is--or, in my case, can never aspire to spell it. I suppose that is supported by some extraordinary idea that if we all call each other by our christian names, we are all equal. The nonsense is that the great joy of human relationships is that they are all different; they are all unique and none is exclusive. But calling people by their christian names does not enhance that in any way whatsoever. A kiss used to mean something. There could be arguments about what it meant, but it was meant to mean something. Today, it is just an insanitary habit.
Symbolism is a very important issue. We did not light the beacons on VE Day throughout Britain because it would enable people to see a little better that night. It was an expression of something too deep for words.
The Lord Bishop of Winchester: My Lords, I warmly welcome the initiative of the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury in tabling this Motion for debate. I count it a privilege to speak in your Lordships' House in this debate, although it is a daunting prospect to experience your conventions and to use your modes of address for the first time. I reflect that that must be good for a bishop who feels out of his depth.
I bear in mind the words of the noble Lord, Lord Morris of Castle Morris, having spent so much of this week, as my right reverend friends will have done, ordaining new clergy, and therefore seeing a very high proportion of the parochial and other clergy of my diocese. I welcome his support and encouragement for the parochial clergy. I accept his point, as I expect we all do, about their stipends, but I noted his sense of himself when he used the phrase "paid up member". He will be aware that the responsibility for the clergy stipends now lies squarely on him, on me and on all of our contemporaries today. I imagine he is well aware of that and it is a point worth making.
I wish to draw your Lordships' attention to some of the shifts in the attitudes and assumptions of many of us over the past 30 years or so, which make this morning's subject matter both so necessary and so hard to approach effectively.
First, our society puts a high value on, as the advertisement of some years ago put it, taking the waiting out of wanting: that wants and desires should be gratified, and speedily. Contracts of employment, criteria on which many a project is evaluated, and many relationships are short term and few people begin work thinking in terms of a lifelong career. These trends, amazingly in my view, are generally welcomed rather than regretted by those whose voices gain attention. I suggest that this short-term environment is desperately stony ground for the basic human project--the highest earthly goal of human beings--of maturing through life-long attention into an increasingly consistent goodness, humility, compassion and wisdom, whatever religious or social traditions we hold, while and through collaborating with others in the building of a human society that is local, national and international. That is particularly relevant in terms of the work so recently done on the Floor of your Lordships' House. In terms of this life's work, marriage, itself in principle lifelong, is for so many its essential heart, its training ground and encouragement.
Secondly, I believe that we need to be clear about the disparity in resources and sheer power that now exists between the forces that may sustain and argue for moral and spiritual values today, and those that stand against them. Here, I reflect on what has been said by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear. To the fresh freedoms gained for entertainment and the media in the 1960s and 1970s, we have added in the 1980s and 1990s both substantial deregulation and a vastly increased and toughened competitiveness. That, it seems to me, has made for a climate in which it has become deeply, even ridiculously unfashionable, to advocate whatever things are pure, lovely and of good report; a climate in which it requires the greatest courage and skill to develop an informed and appropriate nuanced argument on a moral or spiritual subject, in the face of the contemporary fashion for the soundbite, the pressure to reduce such crucially important subject matter to simplifications that are ultimately untrue, or to an unfruitful confrontation of opposite poles. There is no speaking truly if everything has to be forced to the extremes.
As for financial resources, your Lordships have worked long hours in this House on the Family Law Bill, some of those long hours on the likely costs to the public purse of properly resourcing marriage support services. Consider by contrast the financial resources devoted in the course of any evening's television or any day's newspaper to the portrayal of marital infidelity as mature, attractive, modern and, above all, the norm.
Thirdly, for those engaged in manufacturing industry, in commerce, or in finance I increasingly understand that the uncertainties of the contemporary international and political scene, and the globalisation both of markets and of currency movements, make the business of management ever more complex and unpredictable, and its intellectual and conceptual challenges immensely demanding. Nevertheless, many--and among them many people both of Christian and of other faiths--still seek to take account, although under huge pressure not to, in their planning and decision making of ethical considerations, of justice and compassion, of the claims
Finally, individuals make moral and spiritual choices, not in a void, and not, it seems to me, first as individuals--and here I recognise that I may disagree with other noble Lords--but in a context of formation and education. It is institutions of all sorts in this, as in any other society, religious institutions among them, which are the repositories and the representatives of visions of the good society, of moral and spiritual values. In a society which has in many ways gained in health by becoming less deferential, we still need models and traditions of behaviour, traditions of values and beliefs and good practice. It seems to me that it is cruel and restricting, as well as mistaken, to suggest to people of any age, as so many do today, that there is no wisdom into which they can tap and need to tap, that there are no models to look to, no traditions upon which they can depend, and within which we can be formed as we grow through life to maturity.
Of course, institutions need, and through history have received, regular scrutiny, but we will, I believe, be wise as a society now to do more cherishing of our institutions and of those who represent them and less scorning. We should remember that they are complex systems which are much more quickly destroyed than they are built. We must remember too that we human beings, precisely as such, need constant and careful encouragement and assistance if we are to choose what is good for ourselves and for our society.
I believe that this is a time for giving very serious consideration indeed to the subject matter of this debate. We shall do so by each of us recognising our own personal responsibility consistently to be speaking about these matters, however difficult it may be to do so in today's climate. We must also recognise our responsibility consistently to model and seek to grow into the values and beliefs that we profess, whatever they are. But also we must seek to take fresh care that we cherish and encourage those to whom in a very wide variety of professions we look to model and advocate moral and spiritual values in what they mostly experience as a distinctly unfriendly environment.
Lord Elton: My Lords, if convention did not require me to congratulate the right reverend Prelate on his maiden speech, I should be tempted to do so and add that clearly he was not out of his depth. The state of the tide in this debate means, I think, that I shall very shortly be so, but clearly he was head and shoulders above the water.
I do not believe any more than the most reverend Primate believes in a vanished golden age, but I cannot help observing change. It is the steady erosion throughout this century of an implicit consensus on moral and spiritual truth that has given rise to this debate. That consensus underlay the teaching in both the public and denominational schools which between them
Much of the motivation for this country's astonishing fortitude in embarking on and seeing through the Second World War rested upon the remains of that consensus and the belief that it was the consensus itself that was at stake in face of the Nazi onslaught. In the literature of the time, it was seen as a war in defence of Christendom, of society built on Christian foundations. That struck a chord in the heart of the nation. I remember at the age of nine arriving 15 minutes early for church on the national day of prayer for Dunkirk and finding the church as hard to get into as a tube train in rush hour. And how that prayer was answered!
If we compare the ready resort to a national day of prayer, the frequent reference to God in public speeches and the constant petitioning of Him in communal prayer in those times with the guarded and apologetic references common today, we can see how far we have come. During this century, our material prosperity has increased and wealth has been enormously more widely dispersed among our people. That is wholly to be welcomed. But it should dictate neither priorities nor policy. The latter part of this century has seen a steady elevation of material gain into the first aim of both public and private policy until it is as tacitly assumed in the '90s of this century as moral and spiritual priorities were asserted in the '90s of the last.
Of course, I overstate the contrast. The noble Baroness, Lady Seear, put the lie to that. Of course, Victorian commercialism was a powerful exploitative engine then and much of what we have been harvesting since has been the fruit of what was then sown. But the fact is that the self-discipline and self-denial that were widely regarded as virtues then and which were essential to our victory in two world wars are increasingly regarded as weakness, folly or simply irrelevant now. Yet self-discipline is near to, and self-denial lies at the very heart of, our Lord's teaching.
History shows, I believe, that one cannot arrive at a just society without those two essential virtues: self-discipline and self-denial; but directed not by any political philosophy but by the love of our fellow men that Christ taught us as the second great commandment. The Jacobin atrocities of the first French Revolution and the horrors of both European and Chinese Communism have made that painfully obvious.
We may argue across the Floor of this House about the means of getting there, but a just society is where members of all parties want to be. It follows from what I have said that the only way to get there is through the re-establishment of the Christian consensus, not to the exclusion of those of other faiths but as the matrix within which they are free to live at peace within society. Without that matrix, they will not long live at peace.
That brings us back to the schools and to the former and present most reverend Primates, because it is in the schools that the character and beliefs of our children, and hence of the nation in years to come, are formed, so far as public policy can reach them. Cosmo Gordon Lang led a delegation of all the Protestant denominations to present the statement from which I have just quoted, with five specific requests, to RAB Butler, the then new President of the Board of Education. The archbishop later wrote:
With that groundwork done and with the support of later legislation, we have to look to the teaching profession for a crucial contribution to what is now needed. But we cannot expect them to deliver it either alone or in their present condition.
Consider what is needed. In addition to equipping children for adult life and adult earning, teachers are collectively the trustees of the nation's entire stock of usable knowledge. But school teachers in particular are also entrusted with one of the most precious tasks performed in any society. It is not just the lessons they teach; it is the people they are that matters. What they do and what they do not do will have a profound influence on the lives of every one of their pupils in whatever kind of schools they teach and however big or
That quality is, without question, changing. Children today are being released into a world which is morally as well as physically more dangerous than the world of my childhood and that of most of your Lordships. It is certainly more materialist. During a period which historians will doubtless describe as stable, there has been a series of revolutions.
The credit revolution, referred to by the right reverend Prelate in his excellent maiden speech, was launched by the introduction of credit cards with the slogan--worth a great deal of thought at a later date--"Take the waiting out of wanting". The communications revolution which accompanied it has elevated children of 10 and 11 to the status of a powerful market sector targeted by television advertising. There has been a revolution of what I can only call "explicicity", to which the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, referred, accompanying television, which means that the content has changed too. The revolution in television and the media has removed from all but the most diligent parents, and even from some of them, their control of their children's access to wholly inappropriate media channels and programmes.
The sexual revolution, regarded as some sort of liberation in the 1960s, has been rendered incalculably more dangerous by the advent of AIDS. The drugs revolution has brought prohibited and sometimes lethal substances within children's unsupervised reach. The employment revolution has meant that no one now entering a career can be certain of finishing in the same job or indeed profession. All that in a world in which moral standards themselves are seen by some as at best optional and by others as irrelevant. If teachers are not aware of all that and do not take it into account, the danger to our children and grandchildren would be far greater than that of any decline imaginable in academic standards.
The service which teachers render their pupils does not consist only in imparting knowledge and academic skills. It includes providing them with a framework of reference for the conduct of their lives and relationships. And it must be honestly taught. As the noble Lord, Lord Morris of Castle Morris, readily pointed out, nobody spots hypocrisy quicker than a schoolchild. He did not have a hypocrite teaching him. Are teachers adequately trained to deal with that? That question leads, appropriately in a debate launched by an archbishop, to a tiny fragment of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans:
The example teachers set must be consistent with the lessons that they teach. As the noble Lord opposite said, the example that teachers set must be consistent with the whole matrix of moral and ethical standards they wish to see in the world in which, by their teaching, they are preparing their pupils to live. It does not mean that they must be perfect; that would be absurd. But it does mean that they must strive to be.
It is the implications of that that make teaching such a very exacting profession. Having myself taught for 10 years I know that I am merely emphasising and repeating what is already well known in the profession. But surely it is worth emphasising and repeating. It is not just a question of believing what one teaches; it is a question of living it. To do that requires more than training; it requires dedication. Some of the most valuable things teachers can impart to their pupils are transmitted unconsciously, simply because of the sort of people they are.
Of course, not all teachers are, or will be, Christian; but all teachers should, I believe, subscribe to the basic moral tenets which undergird our society and flow from our Judao-Christian heritage, and honour them in deed as well as word. Those teachers who are Christian have a special responsibility. If the example they set is not consistent with what they teach, the lesson will not be received, the standards will not be transmitted and the young will not be fitted to cope with the revolutions of the post-war years, let alone to control them.
In conclusion, this points to a need for specialist training and the input for that training points to a responsibility to the Churches, and resourcing it, to the Government. But we cannot expect teachers to do all that single-handedly, even with such support, against the grain of contemporary society. It lies with the Churches to tackle that grain, under leadership such as that given by the most reverend Primate. Nor can we expect them to tackle it without sufficient specific training and professional support.
There is a crying need for a new professional body in charge of professional teaching standards, most especially in schools. The need would be pressing in any case; it is now urgent. It must be developed within the profession and not imposed on it. At present there exist three different embryonic forms of that body: the General Teaching Council, the College of Preceptors and the Education Council. They are now in conversation together to produce a single voluntary body which I hope will embrace all professional teachers. If that single body comes to the Government for recognition, I hope that they will listen to it with great care.
The Earl of Longford: My Lords, like other speakers, I join in saying how grateful we are to the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury for taking this unprecedented step in giving a lead towards the renewal of moral and spiritual values. We all think of him as a humble man in the best Christian sense, a man who would wash the feet of his disciples in the way
He has beside him the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Winchester, whom we welcome and who spoke so impressively. I am happy to think that he will be the spiritual guardian of one of my grandsons, who has just won his way to Winchester. I am not in favour of selective schools but with Winchester I make an exception.
There are good Christians in all parts of this House. The noble Lord, Lord Elton, leads a prayer group which I have not yet ventured to attend. I am summoning up courage to do so. I attend a prayer group presided over most inspiringly by the noble Lord, Lord Ashbourne, and in time I hope to be allowed to visit the prayer group of the noble Lord, Lord Elton. We heard from another distinguished Conservative, a man of religion, the noble Lord, Lord Griffiths. Perhaps I may say respectfully that I have been and remain a severe critic of so-called "Thatcherism". But I am well aware that the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher, is a religious woman. I was always glad to know that she had the noble Lord, Lord Griffiths, beside her. I felt that as long as he was there, Thatcherism could not be all bad.
There are other Christians in the Chamber, good Christians. My noble friend Lord Morris spoke magnificently--I was going to say on behalf of the party; I hope he was speaking on behalf of the party. At any rate, we know that the Leader of the Party is a devout Christian whose practices have aroused a great deal of attention, which I shall not explore further this morning. Beside me sits my noble friend Lord Howell who will speak later, also a strong Christian. In the past he has referred favourably to the Moslems, which I do not understand. Perhaps he will explain his point of view.
The noble Baroness, Lady Seear, is not in her place and perhaps that is just as well. I was going to say that I am not sure that Mr. Gladstone would have been altogether happy with some of her comments. Mr. Gladstone it was, the leader of the great party that the noble Baroness represents, of whom the noble Lord, Lord Salisbury--the Prime Minister of the day and the great-grandfather of our present leader--said, when he died, "He kept alive the soul in England. He was a great Christian man". One of the younger Conservative Ministers said to me the other day, when I asked who he thought was the best speaker in the House, "Baroness Seear". I hope that when she next speaks in an explicitly Christian sense, she uses that splendid eloquence.
I wish to add one more personal comment about independence. Alas, the noble Lord, Lord Robertson, is not going to speak. Many of us know that he has suffered distressing illness in recent years. His example is worthy of the highest traditions of Christianity and of Christian suffering at its utmost.
Perhaps I may say just one thing about the Jews. I know I am to be followed by someone who has added so much to the spiritual strength of this House, the former Chief Rabbi. I shall not agree with him about forgiveness. He denounced forgiveness to the applause of the Daily Mail, but not to the applause of any Christians whom I have met. That is by the way. He will speak for himself in a moment or two and no doubt he will pull me to pieces. However, he does not speak for all Jews. I know of Jewish Rabbis whose view of forgiveness today is exactly the same as that of Christians. They claim that it comes from the Talmud, but wherever it comes from it is the same. We can take that point of view if we so wish.
I say boldly that I speak as a Christian and renewal must come from Christianity if there is to be such a moral renewal. But what about the humanists? I have known humanists in this House. I had the honour of introducing a noble humanist, Lady Wootton. When she was introduced there was a long delay while someone fumbled to find the alternative form of words. A noble Lord sitting on the ex-Ministerial Bench on the other side of the Chamber said, in a very loud voice--to the grandfather of the present Earl of Swinton, "What's the trouble, Philip?" He shouted back through an ear trumpet, "She doesn't believe in God". The query came, "Doesn't believe in who, Philip?". The reply was, "She doesn't believe in God". "Why the devil not, Philip? You had better ask her". That was my experience of introducing a great humanist into this House. My noble friend Lord McIntosh has carried on the worthy tradition of humanism and so have many others.
When all is said and done, humanists lack sacred books and an agreed moral code. I am sorry that the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, has left the Chamber for I am going to stress this point. If one asks 10 humanists about adultery and whether it is right or wrong, one will get 10 different answers. If one ask Christians, there can be only one answer, which the right reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury has given in recent times. It is sinful and an act of sin. So there is that great difference. That is where I disagree very much with the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, when she says that there has been too much talk about sexual morals. That may be so in the form in which it has been presented in the tabloids. Basically, what has been wrong with society in recent years has been the decline in sexual morals. That has not come from every direction. I find young people on the Tube offering me their seat which I would not have done to an elderly gentleman when I was their age.
We are not living in an evil society. I do not believe that my 26 grandchildren are growing up in a worse society than I did, but as regards sexual morals there has been a steady decline. I am very sorry that, so far in this debate, no one has mentioned that. Without such a renewal of sexual decency we shall never see a general
Finally, perhaps I may say what Christians in particular have to add. I have written small books on forgiveness and humility, but I cannot say that they circulated in large numbers. Nevertheless, no one has disputed the claim that forgiveness and humility are special Christian contributions introduced into society by Christ. When one turns to charity, one may say that all societies aim at what might be called "The brotherhood of man". But Christians have that special inspiration which comes from the life of Jesus Christ. I usually go to more than one prison a week now. I prepare myself before I go in in the same way. I remember the words of Christ in St. Matthew, Chapter 25:
Lord Jakobovits: My Lords, I am sure that we are all sensitive to the very special and indeed elevated character of this occasion. I believe that it is not since the "Call to the Nation" by the then Archbishops of Canterbury and of York in 1975, if my memory serves me correctly, that the state of morality in the nation has been given this billing, as it were, at the top of the national agenda as it is in this House this morning.
The most reverend Primate, my friend the Archbishop, in general spoke for all denominations. We are intensely grateful to him for his initiative. Perhaps I may add some thoughts on the very rich contributions that have already been made. I note with particular satisfaction the emphasis on schools. I welcome this debate, convinced that if our children are raised in a moral vacuum then an essential ingredient of our civilization will progressively disappear, with incalculable consequences for the stability of our society.
In the limited time at my disposal I shall address myself to three themes: first, the facile argument against moral instruction as indoctrination--in other words, preferring that moral judgments should be left to the individual conscience; secondly, the need for a balanced assessment of moral successes as well as failures in our age; and, thirdly, the importance of hope as an essential factor in moral regeneration.
Is it really suggested that we should leave it to our children to rely on their own intuition? Can we expect all our children to have the genius of an Abraham to discover monotheism, or of a Moses to proclaim the Ten Commandments, or to develop by themselves the moral passion and insight of an Isaiah or a Micah without teaching it to them? Shall civilisation start afresh with every new generation because we refuse to build on the accumulated wisdom and inspiration of the past? What a hollow argument.
I do not share the widespread despondency about the moral collapse of our times and the inevitability of further retrogression. I share with the right reverend Primate the note of hope that he has struck. I agree that some trends today are alarming enough: the shocking rise in the crime rates; the catastrophic breakdown of family life and marriage; the growing incidence of business dishonesty and, more universally, the continued diabolical disregard of human rights in many countries and the rampant spread of international terrorism, now potentially setting every human life on earth at risk. All of those are undoubtedly indicators of moral decay, and children in our schools must be alerted to those perils if they are not one day themselves to become victims of that collapse.
However, I think that we underestimate the obverse side of progress in this moral accounting. There is a very hopeful side. For instance, I believe that in many ways our world is far more caring than it ever has been. We have indeed to thank the media for that--guilty as they may be and much they may have to answer for as purveyors of smut, perversity, corruption and faithlessness. Nevertheless, it is largely thanks to the media that all of us all over the world have become sensitive to suffering in the remotest parts of the world where formerly we remained entirely indifferent or ignorant. There has always been the threat of famine in East Africa or the suppression of freedom for millions all over the globe, but no one cared in the past. Today, massive efforts are being made throughout the civilised world to remove those stains on our humanity. The moral outrage of the civilised world succeeded, as never happened before, in bringing to an end the evil of apartheid in South Africa where only a few decades earlier an uncaring world allowed the monstrous inhumanity of the holocaust to be perpetrated with impunity and without effective protest.
We have moved forward. The most important part of moral education, particularly in schools, is to nourish that hope and expectation and to strengthen the conviction that it can be achieved if only we try hard enough. With all our moral failures, we should recognise our immense successes as well.
I was deeply impressed by that advancement in our recent two great debates in this House--on the Family Law Bill and on the Asylum and Immigration Bill. We were all agreed on all sides of the House that marriage ought to be strengthened against any alternative lifestyles. There was no dissent from that view. All that we argued about was how to achieve the stability of marriage and how to handle failures. Similarly, we were all agreed on treating with compassion genuine refugees from oppression--no one dissented from that--including with regard to their entitlement to social benefits on a basis of equality with any native-born citizen. We debated only how to deal with abuses. That unanimity represented to my mind a great moral triumph.
We must encourage and transmit to our children that still overwhelming commitment to the dictates of righteousness and goodness. We must not allow instruments of public opinion to suggest otherwise--for nothing is as powerful in influencing our children as the peer pressure created by the assumption that everyone follows the line of least resistance. Despair breeds accepting things as they are, while hope feeds the determination to improve things.
Finally, could it be that the greatest moral failure of our time is the stress on our rights, on what we can claim from others--human rights, women's rights, workers' rights, gay rights and so on--and not on our duties, on what we owe to others? In our common tradition, the catalogue of fundamentals on which our civilisation is based is not a Bill of Rights, but a set of Ten Commandments, not claims but debts. Part of what we must seek to achieve is to redress the balance, to convince our children, particularly in their youth, that the permanent values which have propelled the civilised world will eventually triumph in a better humanity, in a humanity bent on making the times good, even more than on having a good time.
Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, I am glad to follow the noble Lord, Lord Jakobovits, and I agree with his reflections on the contemporary scene. I commend also to your Lordships an article in today's Times by the present Chief Rabbi, Dr. Jonathan Sacks, in which he emphasises the role of groups within small communities, smaller than those that can be much influenced by government and its agencies.
I welcome this debate and I thank the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury for the way in which he introduced it. In my view, it is entirely appropriate for him to have taken this initiative as the leader of the main Christian Church in this country. His message is one for Christians and citizens of all faiths and none. I disagreed with the opinion reported in the
I am glad that the most reverend Primate referred both in his Motion and in his speech to the part played by schools. In schools and at home young people can be made aware of the difference between right and wrong. My generation benefited from that, although now it is probably an old-fashioned view. It was a long time before I learnt that there was a difference between sin and crime, that something which was sinful might not necessarily be a criminal offence. I suspect that our teachers were in no hurry to enlighten us on this matter. Like the teacher of the noble Lord, Lord Morris, and the noble Viscount, Lord Tonypandy, no doubt it suited them if we feared that we might go to prison if we misbehaved in class or were guilty of similar school sins.
I regret the widespread lapse in all parts of Britain of school assembly with prayers. It provided simple opportunities to instil standards and indicate what good conduct in ordinary life comprised. Of course, in these matters I am more familiar with the scene in Scotland than in other parts of Britain. I am a member of the Church of Scotland--yet another church that enters into this debate--which is, of course, Presbyterian and does not have bishops. The most reverend Primate stated that the factor which prompted this debate was a statement of the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority. He also referred to the Education Act 1988. Neither the authority nor the Act applies in Scotland which has its own curriculum separate from the perhaps misnamed national curriculum. It has its own legislation on education and its own education department in the Scottish Office. I am pleased, therefore, to speak in this debate as someone whose home is in Scotland. In my view, the Motion is equally relevant to life north of the Border, although the institutions and systems are different.
I find it distasteful that when scandals occur at various times in public life and elsewhere emphasis is concentrated on whether actions have been legal or illegal, overlooking whether they have been thoroughly disreputable. Whether or not an action is legal is very important. However, skilful lawyers and shortages of evidence mean that findings in court do not necessarily answer the questions which give rise to concern at the time. I suggest that a more fastidious attitude should be adopted to those activities which may not be strictly illegal but are sordid or disgraceful in the eyes of most people.
I am a trustee of the Centre for Business and Public Sector Ethics based in Cambridge. Today I speak solely for myself. I will touch on one or two areas of British life. As regards business and industry, there are two causes of continuing concern. One is insider dealing. Although recent legislation has attempted to clamp down on it, cases are still being reported in the press
As to Parliament and public life, I fully support the mission of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Nolan. The centre of which I am a trustee has contributed papers to his secretariat. In recent years I have been greatly disquieted by the prevalence of leaks and the apparent widespread acceptance of them nowadays. Usually, these are breaches of trust, which I deplore, by people in the public service. It has been made easier by the ubiquitous modern photocopying machine. My observation of the incidence of the leaking of information when confidential or before its publication is that often the intention is not simply to disclose facts or events but to get in first with the views of one side of a controversy so that those views gain an advantage. The one-sided or distorted version obtains publicity before the whole picture is known.
Besides the betrayal of trust involved in leaking, there is a limit to the freedom of information owing to our cabinet system of government. The principle of collective responsibility by which our system has functioned for many years requires that discussions and arguments between Ministers and departments are confidential during the process of reaching decisions. When a decision has been taken all Ministers are expected to abide by it. If a Minister is still much opposed to the decision the proper course is for him to resign; otherwise, he publicly supports that decision, even if he was in the minority arguing against it. That system of collective responsibility would become unworkable if in the early stages accounts of disagreements were regularly supplied to the media or documents revealing the discussions were treated as public property.
I turn to the professions. The principal ones have their own rules and arrangements for regulation and discipline; for example, doctors and lawyers. The conventions on protecting patients and clients and confidentiality are upheld, although I notice that sometimes changes are suggested within the professions. Within those professions practitioners can be struck off registers or removed in similar ways. I hope that the professions will maintain their high standards. In particular, I am not in favour of a recently reported suggestion that the medical code applying to doctors and their patients should be relaxed in sexual matters.
Twenty years ago the report of the Salmon Royal Commission on standards of conduct in public life made a helpful contribution. Its recommendations prescribed formulae which were generally accepted and guided subsequent reforms and changes. I am glad to say that surviving members of that commission include two Members of this House, my noble friend Lord Orr-Ewing and the noble Lord, Lord Allen.
I fully support the theme of the most reverend Primate and I wish him well in pursuing it. I know the immense trouble he takes when he embarks upon a subject or project. Two years ago I had experience of this when the 50th anniversary of the Normandy campaign was being commemorated. His sermon at Portsmouth on D-one was appreciated and admired by the veterans and their families, because clearly he had taken great trouble to understand their feelings about life-and-death events half a century earlier. Only yesterday, I heard from someone just returned from South Africa who had attended the service to celebrate the retirement of Archbishop Tutu. The sermon of the most reverend Primate on that occasion had again impressed the congregation as having struck exactly the right note. That occurred only a few days ago. I am sure that on that occasion he had not spared himself, in diligent preparation, with sensitivity and firm purpose. Today he has shown the same flair, and the campaign that he is launching deserves our strong support.
Lord Jenkins of Putney: My Lords, I, too, warmly congratulate the most reverend Primate on introducing the debate. I shall introduce a different note but that diminishes in no way my feeling that it is important that this kind of subject should be brought forward. I can think of no one who would do so better than the most reverend Primate. In addressing that important body, the Bishops' Bench, perhaps I may express my appreciation of the speech of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Winchester. I have every hope that we shall hear more from him.
Personally, I am fully and fervently aware of that importance. In my case that awareness does not stem from religious conviction. My experience has led me from a strict Christian childhood to a position of agnostic humanism. However, having no belief in any after-life renders one the more anxious for humankind to make the best and not the worst of life on earth.
Neither am I ashamed of old Labour. I am an unrepentant Left-wing parliamentary socialist. I recognise that my verbiage is old hat but I believe that socialism is still the best political idea there is and the only one which can deliver the moral and spiritual well-being which the most reverend Primate rightly seeks.
Alas, modern history shows that nations claiming God to be on their side can kill and injure innocent non-combatants by tens of thousands. Perhaps that puts adultery into perspective. At Dresden, at Hiroshima and
Now the leadership of my party thinks it possible to combine Christian beliefs with the declared manifesto intention of following the example of the present and previous governments by retaining and deploying a weapon whose murder and maim capacity extends up to hundreds of thousands and beyond to the edge of possible extinction in a world nuclear holocaust. Let us hope that the amended version of the manifesto will at least (and I have some hope that it might) commit a new Labour Government to taking the lead in seeking urgent world-wide and verified nuclear disarmament. It does not do that and I believe that it should. I do not believe that I am alone in that view.
In the RAF during the war we used to call the chaplains God-Botherers. I do not think that they bothered him enough. Certainly I find it sad today that the Church is not leading the struggle to get rid of the most immoral weapon ever invented. But I will be asked what all this has to do with the moral and spiritual well-being of the nation. A great deal, I think.
I have been extremely impressed with the views I have heard today, although I have not agreed with them all. The debate is genuinely of a high level. Is it only chance that concern about a decline in standards seems to be felt not only here but in the other nuclear powers, markedly in the supernuclear powers; the United States and Russia? I am not certain of the answer. Does not the possession of weapons of mass destruction indicate the ultimate lack of concern about society? Can we really worry about the spiritual welfare of beings whom we are prepared to destroy utterly? Are they not fundamentally the same as we are?
By chance, there came into my hands recently a little book edited by Michael Horovitz called Children of Albion. It contains a collection of the work of lesser known poets and some prose. It was published by Penguin in 1969 and I was quite unaware that it included something that I had written to the New Statesman in 1966 when I was Member of Parliament for Putney. The print is so small that these old eyes have difficulty with it. It was at the height of the war in Vietnam. I hope that I may be forgiven if I conclude by quoting myself. There was, of course, a Labour Government in power at the time. I wrote:
Lord Simon of Glaisdale: My Lords, your Lordships have heard from the noble Lords who have preceded me a valuable development of the theme so inspiringly inaugurated by the most reverend Primate. With your Lordships' indulgence, I shall diverge slightly although not, I think, as profoundly as did the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney. I wish to touch on the relationship between the moral code and the legal code.
Of course, they have separate spheres. Religion speaks, as I understand it, of grace. The law speaks primarily of justice. The Church speaks of sin while courts of law speak of fault. But, although there is that divergence, there are many respects in which there is an inter-relationship between the moral and the legal code and, indeed, it is lost at our peril.
I propose to deal with three examples which raise different aspects of that inter-relationship: the first is the law of testate succession; the second is the law of divorce; and the third is the penal law--the sentencing of offenders.
As regards testate succession, it may seem very far from the moral code, but in fact at the very outset there is a profound moral question; namely, the justification of private property. In the middle of the last century Proudhon said roundly that property is theft. That was repeated even in my lifetime by Bernard Shaw. Your Lordships will remember that at the end of the "Threepenny Opera" Brecht makes Mack the Knife say that the man who founds a bank is as guilty as a man who robs a bank.
Moreover, it is not the doctrine of the Church. As I read the 38th Article of Religion, it speaks, I think, in theological terms but underneath, beneath that, is a moral consideration; namely, that private property describes a sphere in which an individual owner can make moral choices of his own. It is because there is that sphere of moral choice defined by private property that we should be wary about the encroachment of the state. So much for private property intra vires.
However, testate succession is concerned with the post mortem use of property. Property may not be theft but it is power. Is it right for the private individual to exercise power after his death over those who come after him? The answer under our present law is yes. It gives unlimited testamentary licence. A wife may be disregarded entirely in favour of testament to a mistress. Children may be disregarded with preference given to a cats' home. Is that right?
It was not always so. That branch of the law was for centuries ministered by the courts and the Church and they came to a very characteristic compromise. The estate was divided into three parts: one-third was the widow's part and there was no right to dispose of it by will; the second part was the bairns' part and, again, it was inviolable from testamentary bequest; it was only one-third of which the testator could dispose freely.
That system subsisted for centuries in this country up to the time of the Restoration--that prefiguration of the swinging 60s. It went on a little longer in the northern province and subsists even today in Scotland. Is that not a more moral code than the one of testamentary licence? Would not such a system reflect a concern for the family as a moral pillar of society?
That brings me towards my second theme via this consideration. In order for a married woman to enjoy rights of ownership in the matrimonial home, she must either become a widow or become divorced. Is that really tolerable? An amendment was moved to the Family Law Bill to obviate that moral anomaly. It was resisted, although it had been advocated for a long time by the Law Commission. Indeed, it was not supported by those who I think should have supported it.
That takes me to the law on divorce. I do not think that it would be proper to explore in detail the various matters that fell for consideration in debate. However, I believe that I can come straight to the conclusion that what we are landed with now is, unquestionably, under the name of marriage, an arrangement for the parties to live together until one, without cause and without any reason being shown, repudiates the other. Is it not plain that that is a potential of grave injustice? Indeed, it is an affront to any moral consideration as to the status of marriage.
I believe that we arrived at that position by not realising the relationship in this sphere between the moral and the legal codes. All the highest ethical systems enjoin us to love our neighbours as ourselves. The law cannot enjoin people to love each other; but what the law can and does do to assist is to enjoin that we shall not harm our neighbour. Of course, one's spouse is one's closest neighbour.
So much for my second theme. I turn now briefly to my third theme; namely, sentencing policy, the penal law. Traditionally, again for centuries, sentencing responsibility has been vouchsafed to judges. However, we have recently had a proposal that there should be minimum sentences, thus taking away the discretion of the judge to fit the punishment to the crime--indeed, minimum sentences which can be alleviated at the discretion not of any judicial authority but by that of the Home Secretary.
In his famous lecture on the ethics of penal action, Archbishop Temple would only allow one ethical basis for punishment and that was retribution: society's vindication of its moral and social code. The main difficulty with that in human terms is that vindication is very close to vengeance. It is really only a moral and psychological attitude which separates the two. I have quoted before, and shall do so again, what was said by the great American jurist, Justice Frankfurter. When he
I have dealt with three very different aspects of the many respects in which the moral and the legal codes interpenetrate. In the first, testate succession, we are faced with a position where the moral code calls on us to reform our law and to reform it in the direction which we knew long since and have now lost awhile. Secondly, with the divorce law, we have taken a decisive step--at any rate, a decided step--which it may be difficult to retrieve. I think, probably, that its only hope of retrieval is if those who have advocated the new law recognise earlier its mischief. I prophesy without any fear that the immediate result of the next two years will be a startling increase in the rate of divorce, mainly the "quickie divorce", which the Government would not accept should be abolished when the Bill received Royal Assent.
Thirdly, I spoke about the penal law and sentencing policy. That is an issue which lies ahead in the next Session. I very much hope that anything said in today's debate will reinforce the valiant words of my noble and learned friend Lord Taylor of Gosforth in his last public appearance as Lord Chief Justice; namely, that we should try to keep sentencing policy in the hands of the judges and out of the hands of an Executive responding to party clamour at a party conference.
Mr. Balfour once said, "I would no more take my party policy from a party conference than I would from my valet". Well, valets are pretty thin on the ground these days, but, from my experience and my reading, I understand that party conferences are pretty much the same. It is very dangerous ground for recruiting policy. I hope that second thoughts will prevail.
Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: My Lords, I should like to begin by congratulating the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Winchester on his splendid maiden speech. I last saw him as a callow youth of 14 when I was a fellow ordinand with his father at Westcott House. I congratulate him on his progress since then.
At the turn of the century, a then very popular London newspaper carried out a survey of religious observance within the boundaries of the old London County Council, round about 1901. It was a very careful and methodical survey which found that about 20 per cent. of the population attended any place of worship. Now it would be somewhere between 5 and 10 per cent.--under a million Anglicans practise their religion with any regularity. The situation is the same in other parts of Europe, and there is even a fall away from religion occurring in Southern Europe.
I should, therefore, like to argue that over the past 80 to 100 years those societies have become the first societies in history not to be guided by some religious or similar ideology. It is true that there are relics of belief among those who do not practise their religion--a kind of religious folklore, with faint echoes of the
For five years I served on the Parole Board. One of my tasks was to interview prisoners in preparation for their report to the board. In the course of my five years I must have interviewed 200 to 300 prisoners. Most of them were serving sentences of six years or more. Many of them served those sentences in Dartmoor and other West Country prisons. To me those people at the very bottom of society--the casualties of society--represented the problems that can occur in a society which has lost moral direction and lacks a coherent ideology.
All the prisoners I interviewed were young men aged between 26 and 30. Apart from the sex offenders and professional bank robbers, their life patterns had an almost ominous similarity. After their birth the relationship that produced them broke up. This occurred in the case of almost every prisoner I interviewed. Their mothers then went through a series of subsequent relationships. The stepfathers usually resented the child and abused him, usually physically but sometimes sexually. The child went in and out of care because the mother wished to relate to her new partner. Then the mother had moments of sentiment and recalled the child home. Inevitably the child truanted from school, committed crimes and usually--as he grew up--began to take drugs and to suffer from alcohol abuse.
The child left school with no qualifications whatever. He moved on to more serious crime and ended up in the situation where I interviewed him. Such young men had no experience of family life and no model on which to build loving relationships. More ominously, the young men had often been involved in similar relationships to those of the parents and in some cases had left behind three or four abandoned children conceived between the
I was a teacher for 37 years and a headmaster for 18, albeit in privileged schools. I agree with the most reverend Primate that schools should attempt to assist in resolving our society's problems. However, I also agree that the atmosphere in which they have to do this is difficult. There is much in the present ethos which militates against schools exercising a moral influence. I mention three factors. The first has to be moral relativism--I mention that first to underline how important I consider it to be, although others have already mentioned it--that is, the idea that there is no set of values which can be deemed to be better than another; that morality is a matter of taste and opinion and there is no such thing as moral error. There is agreement that horrors such as the holocaust should not occur. In general there is agreement that one should not kill. But in all other areas of life there is considerable disagreement. I agree with the noble Baroness that moral relativism is not discussed even in a saloon bar, but it is portrayed on our screens and in our papers every day. Society is steeped in it.
The second is that moral relativism is compounded by a sort of determinism. In part that springs from Marxism and Freud. That is the idea that individuals are not responsible for their actions either because of their early upbringing or because of the social structures in the societies in which they live. Once one removes individual responsibility and says that poverty is the cause of these problems--I accept that the horrors of poverty can cause trouble, although in the case of the prisoners I interviewed I would rate the collapse of the family as a more decisive influence--one is on a slippery slope.
The problem is that schools have to deal with parents who are subjected to these influences. Schools' attempts to find a common pattern are often disputed. I have dealt with privileged parents. But I realise that, if there were 12 sets of parents in 12 houses in a street, there would be 12 sets of moral ideologies, ranging from simple issues such as when a child should go to bed to issues such as how much freedom a child should be allowed at the weekend and other matters. Even boarding schools cannot influence behaviour if there is no family support. That is not to say that efforts should not be made. But our society has sought individual freedom and material success and placed those factors above the need to seek an objective system of values which should and could govern our lives.
Lord Winston: My Lords, we are all exceptionally grateful to the most reverend Primate for introducing the debate. The way in which he introduced it is deeply appreciated by all sides of the House and by all people with varying views, both religious--of different disciplines--and non-religious.
There is a view of morality which is propounded perhaps most eloquently by a great friend of mine, Professor Richard Dawkins of Oxford University. Noble Lords will recall that Professor Dawkins--he is a professed atheist--regards our morality as essentially of genetic origin. He says that our altruism is due to a form of self-protection which we have learnt by selection of the species through the years. There is an alternative view of morality: that it is primarily religiously based; and that it is God-given.
As a geneticist, and as someone who has been extremely interested in the selection of the species, I find the view that we are in some way genetically controlled to be moral a false presumption. It seems to me that the notion of a religious morality must be right. It is one which has some universality through many different religions. For example, in the Judaeo-Christian view there is a notion of the ultimate sanctity of human life. We give that protection to human life because we believe that we are made in God's image. From that notion come the beliefs which I derive.
It seems undoubted that the crux of our morality is the family. I suspect that I may well disagree with many of your Lordships about the nature of the family. I am not entirely convinced that the nuclear family which so many noble Lords respect--I respect it, too--is necessarily the only version of the fundamental aspect of that morality. I believe that it can be derived from different kinds of marital relationships or indeed quasi-marital relationships. I shall refer to that in a moment.
The current Chief Rabbi, Dr. Jonathan Sacks, in his article in The Times this morning talks about our society as one which has propounded the ethics of success. Two or three years ago I gave a little scientific paper to an audience in the United States. During the coffee break afterwards, one of the American doctors said to me, "Oh, that stuff you talked about--I thought you were dead". I was then still in my early 50s. One of the factors that we have to understand about this notion of the ethics of success is that we are as dust on this earth. It is an important notion for us to understand. I shall refer to it when concluding.
If one is a Nobel Prize winner, within 15 years one becomes a point type at the bottom of a chapter. How many noble Lords can recall the Nobel Prize winner for chemistry, physics or medicine of 15 years ago? It is extraordinarily difficult. I wonder how many Members in another place can recall the Cabinet of 15 years ago. Our true immortality lies in our children. It is that which is so important to the nature of the human race and the human position. Our children are our immortality and they are born of that morality.
The first book of the Bible, Genesis, is essentially about the family, and family relationships. It deals with many other aspects, too, but there is a central theme of the family. What is extraordinary is that the book shows the family in all its aspects, warts and all. There are many examples where the relationships of the patriarchs are far from desirable. There are many examples where there is no such thing as a moral or even a marital relationship.
Some noble Lords may know that I am particularly interested in human reproduction. When we talk of children, I find it interesting to note that when we consider the Book of Genesis in which four matriarchs are described no fewer than three are infertile. Sara is infertile, Rebekah is infertile, and the most favoured wife of Jacob, Rachel, is also infertile. In her anguish she says to her husband,
I give seminars to schoolchildren as frequently as I can. I have quite a number of calls to speak on scientific matters. However, the seminar that I am most reluctant to refuse is one given to schools. I find that when I talk to children about science they are interested in the moral aspects of that science and its impact on society. I believe that there is huge cause for optimism. It does not matter whether I talk to a private or a state school. The conversation always turns to the moral values of what I am doing.
I am optimistic about our moral status. I do not share the problems which have been expressed by some noble Lords. There have been many examples of the excellent state of our morality, not least of which have been in this House. In 1990 we sat through the debate on human embryology. At that time I was not a Member of your Lordships' House and sat by the Bar. There were many times when I wanted to jump over that Bar and to join in the debate. Alas, now it is too late for me to do so. But there was an extraordinary flavour in your Lordships' debate which encapsulated what is good and moral about parliamentary discussion. What is more, that debate subsequently influenced the House of Commons and Committee stages. Since I have been attending in the Chamber great moral issues have been debated.
People talk about my subject as though it threatens morality. Perhaps I may make a brief aside. The practice of in vitro fertilisation does not threaten our morality; it is at the very essence of it. In vitro fertilisation is a good example of that morality. We are using the products of creation. We are not creating life, but we are using what God has given us to enhance human life. This is imitatio dei. It is one of the highest expressions of the human existence.
Although the flavour of the debate might suggest a moral decline, I believe that there is a resurgence of religious values. It is seen in different ways. I do not wish to be political, but it has been seen in some of the debates and the way in which the Government have agonised over the issues of asylum. We see it in the charismatic leadership of Mr. Tony Blair, who has strong religious values which he sees as affecting his political views.
Looking back in history we do not need to turn to the Greeks, who have been mentioned. Let us bear in mind that the Greeks regarded women as slaves. We merely have to look back at what we celebrated, or regretted, last week, the occasion when 50,000 men went across the Somme and were mown down by German machine guns on the first day of the battle in 1916. We merely look at how we neglected the real issues of the holocaust until it was too late. Our society has learnt a great deal from those events and I believe that its moral fabric has never been better.
Lord Moore of Wolvercote: My Lords, I too am very grateful to the most reverend Primate for having initiated the debate. I am in little doubt that during my lifetime there has been a widespread fall in standards and this is rightly causing great concern.
The Motion refers to the moral and spiritual well-being of the nation. Personally, with respect to the most reverend Primate, I would put the spiritual before the moral; but Kant would have agreed with him since Kant believed that it was our awareness of the moral law which led to the proof of the existence of God.
My reason for putting the spiritual first is that I believe inevitably, sooner or later, there comes a time in the life of every person when he or she begins to wonder about the origins of the universe, why one is on this earth and whether there is a God. These thoughts have occupied the mind of man since time began.
There is therefore a great responsibility on our schools to make sure that young men and women have received some spiritual and moral education before they go out into the world. Indeed, religious education should have the highest priority in the curriculum. Children should be made aware of the eternal spiritual and moral questions and of the answers given through the ages by the great religious leaders. In Britain, the religious teaching must centre around Christianity since this is a predominantly Christian country and the whole of Western civilisation is based on Christianity.
Of course, the inculcation of spiritual and moral values should first be the responsibility of parents. But inevitably there will be many homes where parents either fail in this duty or are ill-equipped to instruct their children. So a heavy responsibility falls on the schools. If the curriculum provides properly for religious education and if teachers are adequately trained, we can at least be assured that children will have received some education in spiritual and moral values by the time they leave school. But there is a big "if" here. Are our teachers properly trained to instil in children an awareness of spiritual and moral values? Perhaps the greatest challenge we face today lies in the training of our teachers.
I wish to make one other important point. The most significant influence on children today is television. But religious programmes on television remain very inadequate, especially during the great Christian festivals of Christmas and Easter. We have the most brilliant television producers and writers in this country and they should be encouraged to give us many more religious programmes, both as instruction and as entertainment.
Some people will no doubt assert that we do not want a nanny state. I agree. But equally, we do not want a nation whose motto is: "I'm in the boat, Jack, shove off", a nation where the vulnerable, particularly the young, can be exploited for whatever motive.
An amoral society is not a happy society, nor does it promote satisfaction and fulfilment in life. It is impossible to maintain a moral society without spiritual well-being too, for that gives a meaning beyond the daily task of living and satisfying personal aspirations.
In days gone by it was widely accepted that such spiritual well-being was the outcome of religious belief. That is still true today. But today we tend to forget the enormous contribution to our laws and customs made by the Christian faith and ethics, and elsewhere by other religious faiths. How different, how much happier and more fulfilling our national life would be today if the principles of the Ten Commandments were more widely practised.
Morality in society, with high standards set, is the cement that binds together the stability and quality of our national life. For instance, in the whole field of business and commerce, without mutual trust and honesty, fraud and slick dealing abound and many innocent people suffer, as we have seen recently in all too many cases.
In all we do, nothing is more important than protecting children from exploitation, providing them with the best possible teaching and instilling high principles of conduct. Much has already been said about the corruption of the young, especially through television and other modern means of communication. The noble Baroness, Lady Seear, drew attention very clearly to the great power of television which comes right into our rooms.
The freedom to exploit children is often justified by asserting the right of freedom of expression. That right has come to be rather misunderstood. The fundamental freedoms of our democracy are to express views and opinions and to enjoy freedom of worship; they are not to damage society in exercising such rights. For example, we must all be free, if we so wish, to express our opinion that drugs should be legalised--but not to peddle drugs to young people. It is right, too, to give the maximum opportunity for creative talent in entertainment, but not to the extent of harming and corrupting children, as happens all too often today.
Teaching is surely the most important profession of all. It affects people for generations to come. The majority of our teachers are dedicated and competent in carrying out their demanding task. But too many have passed through teacher-training institutions without attaining the high standards that the profession demands. I believe that a major factor in the low morale and
Over the years attempts have been made to establish such an institution. There was for instance a Royal College of Education; but it was disbanded, I believe in 1969, through lack of support. In Scotland, there is the General Teaching Council for Scotland; and in Australia there is the Australian College of Education, a truly professional body. Two bodies now exist in this country having as their objective the provision of such a professional institution for teachers in England and Wales: the College of Preceptors, to which my noble friend Lord Elton referred, and the Education Council. Both are admirable organisations. But neither is well known, nor does either yet provide an effective professional body. I share my noble friend's hope that those bodies will get together with others who are interested and find a way forward to form such an institution.
The Government's policy, as I understand it, is that they accept the value of such an institution but rightly believe that it must be created by teachers and be independent of the Government. My hope is that the Government and all those connected with education will do everything possible to facilitate the formation of an effective professional institution for teachers in England and Wales. It would be of enormous value in ensuring high quality in the training of teachers and in raising morale and respect for this vital profession.
One important need in schools, which is not easily covered by teachers themselves, is pastoral care, especially for children who are disturbed or who have personal problems which are likely to lead them to begin a life of crime, leading to the sort of problems so clearly described by my noble friend Lord Pilkington of Oxenford.
There is clear evidence that such care can often best be provided by specially trained independent workers invited into schools by the head teachers. One fine example of that is a charity called Schools Outreach which trains workers fully and carefully and send them into schools, solely on the invitation of the headteachers. At present the field of their work is sorely limited by lack of financial resources, but practical experience has shown the enormous value of their work, and it has been confirmed by several headteachers.
This idea is good for children and a good investment for the country because it nips crime in the bud, and helps to reduce the huge cost of subsequent crime detection and prevention among young people who leave school in a disturbed state.
I implore the Government to look again at the funding of Schools Outreach, and other charities doing similar work in schools. That would make a major contribution towards creating the sort of society advocated so clearly today by the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Lord McNair: My Lords, I too am grateful to the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury for initiating the debate and for the way in which he did so. Clearly, all is not right with the world and particularly not with our part of it, and by that I mean the country in which we live. In fact the moral and spiritual wellbeing of our society has been so undermined in several parts of the country that the kind of society that does exist is not one that assists the survival of its members, but one which engenders fear, insecurity and despair.
Agreements about what is important and how to behave towards other people are the things that hold a society together. I could go further and suggest that a society is simply a group of people bound together by certain agreements, a certain liking and respect for each other and a common voice. I perceive that these are disintegrating. There is a temptation for some to regard matters such as we are discussing today as grist to the mill. For a journalist, social decay may provide material for so many column inches per week; for a politician, a platform; and for a drug company, a lucrative new market. This militates against progress in resolving them.
I have intervened in today's debate because I have what I know is a constructive suggestion to make, one which is promoting moral and spiritual wellbeing wherever it is introduced. First, however, I would like to pick up the point which was made by the most reverend Primate, by my noble friend Lady Seear and also, I think, by the noble Lord, Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach, about moral relativity. I can shed light on possibly the main source of this doctrine by quoting some brief extracts from some speeches that were made at a gathering in Ottawa in 1944. The first is:
All these statements were made by the two founders of the World Federation of Mental Health, Dr. R.J. Rees and Dr. Brock Chisholm, at its inaugural meeting in Ottawa in 1944. There was much more in the same vein. We have only to look around us to see how far these gentlemen have succeeded in their endeavours.
Leaving the brave new world envisioned by Dr. Rees and Dr. Chisholm in 1944, we now journey back in time to the fourth quarter of the 19th century. The year 1879 saw the start of the career of Wilhelm Wundt, the father of psychology. Moved by a strong conviction that man was an animal, a biochemical machine, Wundt presented his view to the world as scientific doctrine. His students later boasted
Wundt's ideas have had an immense effect on our subsequent social history and particularly on education, though through two separate but not so different paths: psychology and psychiatry. Both those approaches can easily be demonstrated to have had a malign effect on both education and morals. One of the effects obviously was the World Federation of Mental Health.
Education has traditionally embraced the teaching of both moral and spiritual values. That principle was specifically targeted by the pioneers of "educational psychology" as inappropriate and "unscientific". The introduction into schools of "social training" was based on the psychological idea that it is stressful and unfair to educate or discipline children away from violence, sexual promiscuity and drug taking. That has led to an erosion of the values taught in schools. Self-discipline is regarded as producing stress and therefore it should not be taught.
One operation based on the strategy of the World Federation of Mental Health was to persuade religious organisations to take up the idea of psychological counselling and thereby to undermine the idea of personal responsibility. One psychologist by the name of Coulson--I regret that I do not know the church or denomination with which he was involved--pursued that endeavour for about 25 years and then came clean when he realised how destructive his work had been. Noble Lords may have noticed how, every time there is some natural or man-made disaster, the psychologists are on hand with their stress counselling. How much better it would be to provide practical, down-to-earth help and pastoral counselling which emphasises the spiritual aspects of life.
There is a particular approach which anyone who cares about the teaching of morals should fight to the death. It is called outcome-based education. What has happened is that psychologists have wrested control of the purpose of education from educators. That is definitely something which any politicians who try to rescue education from academic disaster will have to tackle, otherwise their efforts will founder.
Reflecting on the increasingly multi-faith nature of British society, it is clear to me, at least, that the conflicting, competing but often overlapping philosophies and theologies cannot all be true in an absolute sense. Apart from a few of the adherents of each with completely closed minds, most people would allow that there are many paths to developing one's spirituality or understanding of oneself in relation to life and the infinite. But today unfortunately many people have fallen away from any understanding of themselves as spiritual beings at all. I have friends who are members of the Baha'i faith. I have been taken with their view and definition of spirituality, which is that it is found in those thoughts and actions which express the higher aspects of our humanity, such as being worthy of trust, respecting oneself and others, caring for others and one's environment, loving and helping children and so on. If we think about it, it should be obvious that all those expressions of humanity are in fact expressions of human spirituality and are in fact pro-survival. That is the connection between the moral and the spiritual well-being of society. Making those precepts part of one's operating basis not only enables one to survive but increases the survival of others.
So how do we promote the moral and spiritual well-being of society? I have one suggestion, which is offered to the House with a sense of humility. I am acutely aware that there are many noble Lords in this Chamber and many speaking in this debate who have devoted their lives to exploring and understanding the matters that we are discussing today. I have here a small booklet which is a commonsense guide to living a better life. It is the subject of an essay-writing and practical project competition involving 300,000 children from about 4,000 schools in the United States. It was officially credited with helping to prevent violence during South Africa's first multi-racial elections.
In one town in Alabama the recidivism rate among young offenders has been reduced from 80 per cent. to around 10 per cent. by using the booklet as part of a programme of basic education. It is also used most effectively in around 450 prisons in the United States as a tool for rehabilitating criminals. Over 52 million copies have been distributed in one form or another around the world and always it has a calming effect on whatever dangerous situation obtains.
The problem with moral codes is twofold. First, they tend to be religion specific. Secondly, they tend to be presented as simple imperatives. What is needed is a code that can elicit the agreement and activate the participation of the increasingly large majority of our people who do not consider themselves actively religious. Some do not even understand that they are spiritual beings. It must appeal to the head as much as to the heart and be widely accepted as the basis for relations with others as well as with the physical environment and other life forms.
The guide is written in plain modern English and has been translated, so far, into 20 other languages. It is not prescriptive, but rather engages the mind of the reader to reflect on the consequences of being in proximity with others who do not practise the 21 moral precepts that it
By approaching the teaching of morals in this way it is possible to build a shared sense of what is ethical and right behaviour. That shared sense is, by definition, the regrowth of the agreements, the mutual respect and the feeling of being in communication with one's fellows to which I referred at the beginning of my remarks. It also forms part of the programme used by the World Literacy Crusade. That movement started in south central Los Angeles, the epicentre of the 1992 riots, and is now spreading to other towns and cities in the USA as a result of its success in persuading children to leave the gangs and continue with their education.
The World Literacy Crusade has the active support of several famous people, including Isaac Hayes, the Black American composer and singer. I would like to see programmes based on that commonsense guide to better living piloted in the kinds of situations I mentioned. I would welcome approaches from anyone who is really looking for a way to improve the moral basis of society. Since the booklet is completely secular it could be used, for example, by a youth club that was specifically Christian, specifically Islamic, specifically Hindu or any other kind to excellent effect in teaching moral values to its members.
The guide, called simply The Way to Happiness distils the essence of the moral teaching of the world's major religions into secular form and provides a common basis of understanding and communication among people of all ages and of different cultures. Using it, people find that their shared humanity transcends the apparency of cultural or racial differences. At a school where it is used as the basis for teaching morals, children can be heard telling their peers disapprovingly, "That's not the way to happiness".
I was pleased that the most reverend Primate was encouraging about the wide consultation being undertaken by Dr. Nick Tate at the School Curriculum Assessment Authority. In fact, earlier this year I met Dr. Tate to discuss the contribution that this moral guide might make to his initiative to bring the teaching of morals back into sharper focus in our schools. It may be that some aspect of that approach will find its way into the national curriculum. I rather hope so. One point I should like to stress is that, although it is written in secular language, it should not be regarded as representing a lowest common denominator of moral teaching; but it is a most valuable starting point.
The prohibition of this act then enters into the customs of the people and may eventually become law".
The Lord Bishop of Ripon: My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury for initiating this debate and for putting it so well into context. I would like also to express to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Winchester my appreciation of a fine maiden speech.
The Education Reform Act 1988 placed on the statute book a requirement that schools should provide opportunities for the spiritual and moral development of pupils. Much of the debate today in your Lordships' House has focused on the significance of moral behaviour. Like the noble Lord, Lord Moore of Wolvercote, I wish to look for a moment at spiritual development and to suggest that moral behaviour and indeed learning itself, are both dependent on spiritual development.
Morality is only in part a matter of learning rules and keeping them. More profoundly, it is about developing a capacity to recognise moral obligation and to exercise moral discernment. These require spiritual development. In relation to learning, a quote from David Trainor, until recently responsible within Ofsted for overseeing the inspection of spiritual and moral development within schools, puts the point well. He said,
In April 1993 the then National Curriculum Council, under the strong personal interest of its chairman, David Pascall, produced a paper on this theme. Among the aspects of spiritual development which it mentioned were the following: the development of beliefs and an understanding of how they contribute to personal identity; a sense of awe, mystery and wonder; feelings about transcendence; a search for meaning and purpose; the growth of self-knowledge and self-respect; the ability to build up relationships; the exercise of imagination, intuition and insight; the sense of being moved by beauty, hurt by injustice. There are others that we might wish to add; for instance, the sense of grief and loss and the sense to which the noble Lord, Lord Winston, has already made reference, of transience.
These are not religious capacities although religious people should be expected to have them. They are, as the noble Lord, Lord McNair, has just pointed out, human capacities, which all of us should be developing. The close link between these and moral behaviour is clear. To take one example only, the ability to build up relationships and the ability to recognise moral obligation are closely linked.
The recent initiative of the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority builds on the work of its predecessor and is designed to continue a debate about morality, values and the interior life and their relationship to one another.
The matter of how schools are to be inspected on their effectiveness in enabling such development to happen in their pupils is not an easy one. Early Ofsted guidance focused on the pupils and how far they could be judged to display certain outcomes. By May 1994 the emphasis had shifted to school provision, although it was unclear what sorts of provision might be more rather than less effective. By October 1995 the guidance had moved on again, making suggestions for effective provision. These included a curriculum and approaches to teaching which embody clear values and enable pupils to gain understanding through reflection on their own and other people's lives and beliefs and on the environment in which they are set. Particular reference is made in that guidance to collective worship and to religious education.
Good acts of collective worship are an aid to spiritual development in the widest sense. Primary schools have a good practice in that area and I hope that the good practice which some secondary schools embody in collective worship will be universally adopted throughout the secondary sector. Religious education, which needs to be differentiated from nurture in a particular religious tradition, also helps pupils to consider the fundamental questions of life and to reflect on their own beliefs or values in the light of what they are studying in religious education.
However, it is the whole curriculum and the life of the whole school which provides the setting for spiritual and moral development. To give one example within the curriculum, I recently visited Sir Ron Dearing, chairman of SCAA, to talk about the need for the curriculum guidelines in science to take account of the spiritual dimension, a dimension evident every time I see a primary school child looking at the structure of a leaf from a tree. The way teachers relate to pupils is a key aspect of whole-school life in the provision of opportunities for spiritual development. Teachers who take relationships with their pupils seriously are able to develop in those pupils a capacity to respond in relationships and a sense of self-worth.
As has already been said, one of the difficulties with which schools wrestle is the conflict between the values they embody and the values which are being expressed outside the school. To take just one example, a school may lay great emphasis on mutual respect between individuals, communities and nations only to find that value contradicted by what is said in the home and even in some parts of the national press.
Valuable pieces of work are already being done, some through the Churches. The National Society, a Church educational organisation of which I am chairman, recently received a grant to carry out research on the spiritual development of pupils in primary schools. The further education sector, within which there are more 16 to 19 year-old students than there are in school sixth forms, has been the focus of some work which the Church of England Board of Education has undertaken in collaboration with the Methodist Church and FE colleges. They have produced a series of reports on values in the further education sector. The latest publication, Student Entitlement to Spiritual, Moral and Personal Values in the Further Education Curriculum,
It is clear that the debate cannot focus solely on schools and colleges. I hope that the outcome of the SCAA report on the deliberations of the various interest groups which make up the SCAA forum will be a national debate on those core values which as a society we should hold in common. Religious communities have a key contribution to make. In the words of the Chief Rabbi, Dr. Jonathan Sacks, in an article in today's Times, which has been referred to several times in this debate:
Educational institutions have a key role in enabling young people to contribute to the national debate and to influence it. We need to give to these institutions the confidence that this is an issue with which they must be concerned, to principals, heads and members of governing bodies the confidence to plan, articulate and share their policies on spiritual and moral development, and to staff and teachers the confidence and training to deliver the opportunities for such development to their pupils. The young people that our nation needs should be not only skilled and trained but spiritually aware and morally responsible. Perhaps they will have something to teach the rest of us.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, it is a tradition of your Lordships' House that at least when we speak from the Back Benches we try to do so from personal experience. I imagine that the subject of today's debate, being no less than our moral and
At the risk of over-simplifying the Motion of the most reverend Primate, I see our moral well-being as depending in large part on our ability to know the difference between right and wrong and to act accordingly, and therefore as a matter for which our schools can and should take a leading responsibility. But I see our spiritual well-being as being a deeper matter which requires the ability to know the difference between good and evil, and for which I would allocate the leading responsibility to our religions, to their leaders and to their pastors.
My humble contribution today on our moral well-being will therefore draw on the 10 years that I spent in our state education system validating courses in what used to be called the non-university sector. My contribution on spiritual well-being will draw on a religious experience that I had 19 years ago when the anaesthetic failed during an operation I was having, although the paralysing drug continued to operate most effectively. In those circumstances, deprived of the ability to move or scream, and in the absence of a piece of rope on which to bite, one dies, goes mad or goes to God. I believe I was lucky enough to be offered the latter, although I appreciate that many noble Lords would prefer to think that I merely experienced the blissful effects of endorphins released in the brain. Other noble Lords, perhaps those of a more Europhile bent, will have concluded some time ago that I took the second course and merely went mad.
I come back to schools and their influence on our moral well-being. My 10 years in the polytechnic sector forced me to examine a large number of courses, the most relevant of which to today's debate are teacher-training courses, because teacher training is the soil in which the roots of our primary, secondary and indeed university systems feed. There is much that one can criticise about these courses, such as that they eschewed as elitist the phonic method of teaching children how to read, with results that are only now becoming obvious. More generally, they were controlled by a large, powerful, vicious and insular education establishment which was, and I fear still is, too much influenced by the starry-eyed and experimental sociology of the 1960s. This became more sinister when it developed into "the long march through the institutions" (as it was known). That march is still led by those soldiers of political correctitude, the gender, race and class brigade. The educational philosophy successfully promoted by these destructive forces contains at least two fatal strands for an understanding of morality in our schools. It blurs the difference between right and wrong generally and it promotes the multi-faith mish-mash in religious teaching.
When I say that this philosophy is still far too prevalent in our schools and state education system generally, I know that my noble friends on the Front Bench start to feel a little nervous. After all, we Conservatives have been in power for 17 years now and so why have we been so slow in not putting a stop to this cancer in our schools and elsewhere?
It is not so easy to apportion blame, however, between the political parties for this tragedy. When I entered the state system of education 13 years ago I assumed that politics stayed out of education. It came as a great shock to me to discover that this assumption, widely shared by the honourable leadership of all political parties at the time, had led to a vacuum being created and that that vacuum had been filled by the people to whom I have referred, closely associated with the hard Left of our political spectrum. So if one is trying to apportion blame one must point out these anti-educational activists were and are closer to the Labour Party than they are to us. So perhaps the Labour Party should have done more to expose what was happening and to have been more publicly critical.
But, of course, that was not easy for Labour either, because inherent in the activities of these ideologues was the promotion of socialism. Not the kind of honourable compassionate socialism espoused by noble Lords on the Benches opposite but something altogether nastier. So I suppose that one can accuse the Labour Party of turning a blind eye to the activities of their uncomfortable political cousins and of thus facilitating their progress--
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