WE arc very glad that our readers
will have the opportunity of reading the Archbishop of Westminster's speech on the home and the family as they ponder over the provisions of the State's Social Insurance Plans. What Dr. Griffin had to say will, we think, remind us all of at least one thing—and that is that the most grandiose of social insurance plans is by no means enough. Indeed, it will give the needed warning that the State's Beveridge Plan fails to deal with
absolutely essential human needs and, if anything, may tend to put off, rather than to forward, vital reforms.
This paper has from the beginning supported in principle the Beveridge Plan, and we give the same support in principle to the White Paper which, on the whole, very faithfully applies the original proposals We give this support because we believe that our modem society has reached such a state that millions of men, women and children have become dependent for the minimum decencies of a human life on a comprehensive insurance scheme. However much we deplore the present state of society and however little we like these State schemes that oncrate at ihe wrong end. we cannot believe it to be Christian to advocate the holding back of necessary reliefs and pensions so long as these are compatible witb the moral teaching of the Church. Reties Beveridge or the new scheme
than nothing 1 Better men and women helped to live human lives in an upside-down world than allowed to drift in poverty and insecurity while patching-up is painfully attempted !
But we should he sorry to think that any instructed Christian was satisfied with a Stale-regulated social order however effectively provided with a first-aid service for its millions of victims.
Security of Home Life
SOME small attempt has undoubtedly been made to reconcile a compulsory, and universal insurance scheme against every misfortune with independence and the maintenance of the family as the natural cell of society. The comparative simplicity of the machinery, the maintained distinction between insurance proper and public assistance, children's allowances (unfortunately in our view split into cash benefit and benefit in kind) and the concern for housewives will do something to offset an automatic, inquisitorial and soulless dependence on the States giant cardindexing. But we must honestly face the fact that in the future only the comparatively affluent will be in a position to plan and live their own lives as they wish to. in retunt for security fathers and mothers will find themselves obliged to hand over to the State responsibilities in the economic and medical fields which will prove to have the closest bearing on their religious, moral, cultural and social views. Taken together with the new system of State education, all this presents a formidable problem for Catholics and real Christians generally. And it is doubly a vexatious problem. In the first place there will he danger of constant interference with actual rights; and in the second Catholics will be conscious that with the loss of these personal rights there will be a hastening of the national process of totalitarianism which must, in their view, continue to weaken the moral health of the whole community.
" Security of home life is the basis of the Christian social system," Dr Griffin reminds us, and the economic condition of that security is property: either in the form of actual ownership or in the form of a vocation for which there is a steady demand by society so that an adequate family wage can be earned. It is society's proper job to ensure that there can be a true borne life, a proper-sized house, the means of bringing up children in co-operation with the advantages that the State can provide, the right of reasonable independence in matters of health, so directly connected nowadays with the moral questions of having children, married happiness. permanence of the home, the rights of the human person, and so on.
These are all primary matters in themselves, while social insurance, how primary its immediate need in our
community, is in itself secondary. In a well-ordered society nine-tenths of what is to be provided could be dispensed with.
Security of Independence v.Security of Dependence
WE repeat, however, that we think it wrong for those who so well understand what is wrong with our society to underrate the accidental importance of the needs for which the comprehensive social insurance is to provide. Any useful criticism must be realistic, and our attention should be concentrated, not on finding fault with this attempt to ensure security in a fantastically insecure world, but on the parallel and deeper need for ensuring honest work at a family wage for people living independently in their own homes and in a healthy and stimulating social environment. We have said that this social insurance of its nature tends to militate against this; but we fear that apart from this there is far too little public concern for the question. and the provision of this social security may well cause people to feel less acutely this central positive need.
In any case, the problem is formidable and scarcely capable of a full solution in the technique of modern industrialism—hence the genuine need for
the first-aid of social insurance. This country in particular is dependent for its high standard of comfortable and varied life on world trade. And the world market to-day is a complex and variable affair very far removed from the factors which directly govern the welfare of the individual worker. This we have to recognise, allow for and provide against. Even so, much more could be done within our own frontiers to create more stable conditions for more secure work in a morally and physically more healthy environment. Unfortunately, the right way through is also the toughest way. and the politician prefers to catch votes by dangling attractive bribes. it is up to the Christians of this country not to be deceived themselves and not to allow others to be too easily deceived. We know that counterfeit coin can only begin a process of accumulating debasement of currency. We must. we believe. support, while perhaps criticising in detail, this necessary first-aid of social insurance, but our support should never be given unless it is hound tip with a radical criticism of the social order which has made Beveridge necessary and with an insistence that all positive reform should he directed to changes which, if brought about. would provide the real security of independence, for lack of which we now need the security of even greater dependence.
ANOTHER WINTER ?
THE partial failure of the attempt to outflank the Siegfried Line and the Rhine by the use of airborne troops wiil have a sobering effect on expectations of a very early end to the war. Despite the use of some of the best troops at our command — and special mention must be made of the heroic attempts of the Poles to restore a dangerous situation— it moved impossible to maintain the lengthy corridor required to span the three branches of the Rhine. The fact I that the operation was attempted indicates that the Supreme Command was doubtful about the possibility of breaking through the German defensive lines before the winter. Correspondents at the front are to some extent to blame for the original sanguine hopes among the public, rot they first indicated that Germany had hardly any good troops left and then revealed that Hitler had in fact kept the cream of his armies for the defence of the Reich.
Still, pessimism can he as false as optimism. and we may still reasonably hear in mind the immense shocks Germany has received and is receiving. Much of the country is being bombed to pieces: resources, and particularly oil, must be dwindling through bombing and loss of territories in East and West. Hitler's troops must be desperately short of men to man the immensely lengthy lines.
Is it not time that the big men began to ask themselves whether these advantages could not be exploited by human appeals to the German people? Not only would these hasten the end of the war. but they would make for a sounder peace after it. And another winter of war is a solemn thought for millions upon millions who are almost living on the hope of the end of it all.
ALLOCATION OF MAN POWER
THE White Paper on Demobilisation divides those to be released into two classes—Class
A, in which priority will be given according to age plus length of service, and Class B, consisting of men and women required for reconstruction work and the restoring of industries. As the larger class, the conditions governing the return to employment of those in Class A naturally excite the more interest. But the operation of the regulations relating to Class B from the national point of view, at least of equal importance. The question of priority in this second class will give the Minister for Labour the opportunity to reveal the scale of values which is to determine the future industrial pattern.
That first place should be given to the building trade is natural and proper. The need of homes for the men and women discharged from the Services and for evacuees is urgent, and few will question the claim to prior consideration of those who can supply this need. But this settled, the problem becomes more complicated. We may take a few instances to show how easy it might be, in surveying the field of industries regarded as essential, to overlook certain classes.
That the requirements of the home have been recognised by the priority given women in Class A over men is a matter for congratulation, but what about the school? We have just seen the extension of the school-leaving age to 15 postponed owing in part to the
difficulty in supplying a sufficient number of teachers. Will the scheme as it develops serve to remedy this deficiency? Then there are those youths of both sexes whose training for their future avocations was interrupted by call-up notices, and for whom a long delay in resuming their professional education would be disastrous, if not fatal. Again, the task of feeding not only our own population but those for whom Unrra proposes to cater puts agriculture, at present clamouring for man-power, high up in the list of priorities.
It is to be hoped that the same commonsense which has dictated the outlines of the demobilisation scheme will govern the implementing of its provisions.
BUILDING INDUSTRY LEADS THE WAY
RACK in 1930, when the ideals
of the Whitley Councils were under discussion, it was the building industry which took the initiative by setting up the Building Industries National Council. Owing to the urgent national need of its services this body again occupies a prominent position, as is shown by the priority given it in the Government's scheme for demobilisation.
It is encouraging therefore to find that the same spirit which formerly animated it is still alive—the spirit which was the soul of the Guild System. The presidential address given last week at the national conference of the Amalgamated Union of Building Trade Workers by Mr. H. J. Adams deserves, from this point of view, close attention. In his address, Mr. Adams claimed that the Building Trade Workers were opposed " to anything which would cause deterioration or shoddiness in building." He pointed out that " with recruitment to the industry fairly established on a national basis, backed by the Government and consciously aided by the education authorities, the way was open for a wonderful revival of craftsmanship." He expressed the hope that " building trade unionism was going to become increasingly the custodian of worthy building."
In so far as it affects house building it is generally from the standpoint of the prospective tenant that this question is approached. Other aspects of the matter arc engaging the attention of local authorities. people interested in the preservation of rural beauty or urban architecture. Sometimes, as in the report on " The Church and the Planning of Britain," drawn up by the Social and Industrial Commission of the Church Assembly. religious bodies have their say on the matter. It is good to be reminded, however, that the workman who erects our buildings —home, hospital or factory—may have some concern with the quality of the work he is asked to do. it is this fact that the builders have brought to our attention. That they should have done so is of good augury.