Barbara v. Sir Keith
Mrs Barbara Castle, Secretary of State for Social Services, speaking at Liverpool University Catholic Chaplaincy last Friday, criticised Sir Keith Joseph's recent speech as "irresponsible."
Addressing the north-west. group of the Council for Family Social Service, she said Sir Keith's accusation that poorer people were threatening the balance of the population was "wickedly unjust."
Mr Michael Schofield's study of the sexual behaviour of young people had shown the higher the social class a girl came from, the more sexual ex perience she was likely to have had and also that the children of broken Icomes were not likely to be more sexually experienced than others.
"To imply in any sense that the way to stop the 'degeneration' of the nation is to stop the poor from breeding rather than to deal with the causes of their poverty is to divert us from our main task."
She went on to point out an inaccuracy in the statistics quoted by Sir Keith. Objective statistical truth was that the help provided to the mass of poorer families in this country was not over-lavish, she said. "It is inadequate and often provided in the wrong form. It consists too much of handouts designed to make poverty tolerable rather than a strategy for enabling them to break out of that poverty." It was hardly surprising tne poor did not respect property and escaped sometimes into drunkenness, the Minister said. The solution lay in providing all with a shared environment where the privileges were not limited to only a few.
Praise for Goodman
The Catholic Housing Aid Society has sent a telegram to Lord Goodman praising his television lecture on the housing ctisis last week, and is distributing copies to relevant Church groups. Mr. Douglas Pollard, Director of CHAS, said they had thanked him for his passionate approach and call for urgent action. "I think his analysis was splendid," he said. He added that he shared the frustration Lord Goodman described at the planning application delays at local authority level, and said the building of more than LOCO houses near stress areas by CHAS was„currently held up by unnecessary planning delays. "The housing crisis is being compounded by these delays and seven of our major projects are currently being held up," he said.
CHAS employed six full-time architects working on detailed planning applications in which were invested an enormous amount of care. Rut when the applications were sent to some local authorities "they may as well have fallen into a void."
In certain wealthy outer 1.ondon boroughs, he said, long delays in attending to planning applications were deliberate because councillors did not wish to change the political nature of their constituencies. This fact also meant that thousands on their housing lists were unlikely ever to get housed in the area.
Local authority members also often failed to "do. their homework" and were simply unprepared to make decisioas. Councillors took their work on voluntarily and received "considerable expenses" for their troubles.
There was no real reason for delays because the -Housing Act passed earlier . this year meant the Exchequer and not the local ratepayer, met the full cost of any new housing.
Mr Pollard fully backed '.ord Goodman's suggestion in the Dimbleby Lecture on BBC television that a single national housing authority with total autonomy was needed to solve the problem of Britain's four million homes classed as "unfit for human habitation."
Lord Goodman had attacked the innumerable appeals and division of responsibility between local and central government as "the enormous number of devices that the ingenious mind of men have thought up to ensure that they can control, hamper, hinder and frustrate the activities of other men."
Mr Pollard said: "I believe that a single housing authority is going to be essential to overcome the entrenched selfishness of some local authorities."
Lord Goodman, in his talk, described the appalling housing conditions he had personally seen and how much crime and the behaviour of disruptive children in some schools was encouraged by such conditions.
CHAS, with Chalice, set up to develop Church land made available by religious orders and dioceses after the appeal by the Bishops' Conference two years ago, had "probably access to more land than any other housing association in the country," he said.
The speech by Lord Goodman, a lawyer, chairman of the Housing Corporation and National Building Agency for 18 months, calling for "passion" to solve the housing crisis was, said Mr Pollard, the first en couraging one he had heard from such an authority outside party politics.