By Peter Nolan and Michael Duggan Religious leaders swiftly condemned the speech last
Saturday by Sir Keith Joseph, Shadow Home
Secretary and former Secretary of State for Social Services, in which he called for wider birth-control facilities for certain mothers in social classes four and five in order to prevent national "degeneration".
Bishop. of Liverpool,
presidet of the Catholic Social Welfare Commission, said: "Sir Keith Joseph's proposal is the beginning of the manipulative
society. I share Sir Keith's deep concern for the cycle of deprivation but 1 am appalled by his proposals to break through it. The underprivileged have always been the last in the queue for decent housing, security of employment and social amenities.
"Because many have failed to overcome this deprivation which our society has forced on them it is now suggested by Sir Keith that we break into the privacy of their lives and regulate their breeding as we might regulate the breeding of animals.
"Will we never learn from history?"
Dr Immanuel Jakobovits, the Chief Rabbi: "Every human life is equally and infinitely valuable and any social discrimination or artificial manipulation in the generation of life is morally reprehensible. We should support any effort to strengthen the moral conscience of the nation which together with the rest of humanity now faces primarily a moral crisis of unprecedented proportions."
Four days before Sir Keith's speech the Chief Rabbi said in Leeds: "The equitable distribu tion of wealth should be a powerful moral challenge to un
ite the nation and not a political slogan to divide it." He called for more effective assertion of religious teaching and leadership in public life.
Mr Kevin McNamara, Labour MP for Hull Central and a member of the Justice and Peace Commission, said Sir Keith's remarks were "elitist" and made scapegoats of oneparent families.
Mrs Phyllis Bowman, spokesman for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children: "The OHS has its representatives in family plann ing agencies and other organisations which are constantly advocating that the poor have no right to have children."
The Department had, under Sir Keith, also selected a ma jority of those known to favour abortion on demand to sit on the Lane Committee which looked into the Abortion Act.
SPUC members are urged to write to their MPs, regardless of party, to find out if they share the "knock the poor" views put forward by Sir Keith. Since the Abortion Act was passed such views were not limited to members of the Conservative Party but were often Shared by pro-abortionists.
It was sad that Sir Keith, himself a Jew, had failed to remember that when Hitler decided who was fit to breed and who was not, he had used the word "degenerate" in justifying his mass murders.
Mr Leo Abse, Labour MP for Pontypool: "I think it is evil to use as a scapegoat those fated to be less well-endowed with intelligence. Superior eugenic arguments were too reminiscent of those used by the Nazis. It ill-becomes a Jew — for our people have suffered already overmuch."
Mr Abse said part of the remedy for the problems
spoken of by Sir Keith lay in the implementation of the Finer Report on single-parent families, which he said was a sophisticated document representing four years work. "As soon as we get back to Parliament I am going to ask for a debate on it."
He quoted God's reassuring promise to Abraham: "I will shower blessings on you, I will make your descendants as many as the stars of heaven and the grains of sand on the seashore."
Mrs Mary Whitehouse, founder of the National Viewers
and Listeners Association„ described by Sir Keith in his speech as "that admirable woman", this week dissociated herself from his support for birth control for the poor. "I ' would regard that as immoral and I think it is the wrong way of approaching moral problems."
Lord Soper, president of the Methodist Conference: "I'm sure emphasis should not be on restricting babies born to a certain group." What was needed was to improve the conditions under which babies from poorer families were born.
He emphasised that he had no objection whatsoever to the means of contraception being made readily available and said he was in agreement with most of the rest of Sir Keith's speech.
Mr Frank Field , director of the Child Poverty Action Group, statistics from whose journal had been quoted by Sir Keith, said he had been receiving very many telephone calls from poor mothers who were "desperately hurt" by the speech. Instead of receiving encouragement and praise for their efforts in difficult circumstances they felt they had been criticised, he said. He has asked any callers to write to Sir Keith.
"I think the really important thing which has not been stressed was that Sir Keith was careless in his quotation of statistics," he said. Only 13 per cent of illegitimate children came from classes four and five,
he said. Editorial — P 4