Mr. Butler looks at the problem again
By ANDREW BOYLE MR. R. A. Butler, member of the Tory Shadow Cabinet and the brain behind the 1944 Education Act, on Tuesday re-stated his views on the Catholic schools problem in an exclusive inter view with THE CATHOLIC
" 1 seem invariably to be cast in the role of the Dragon in the Piece by Catholics in this country," he told me.
" Why, I am at a loss to understand. I wish to emphasise yet again that there is absolutely nothing sinister in my approach to your difficulties."
Having unburdened himself thus, Mr. Butler abruptly put his own hurt feelings aside and said: " But anything that may be done to relieve your difficulties must be done within the framework of the 1944 Act,
He added that both Anglicans and Free Churchmen would be fully entitled to a real sense of grievance if Catholic claims were dealt with independently.
Regarding Mr. Harold Macmillan's contention that procedural and administrative changes in applying the Form 18 were practicable and desirable, Mr. Butler said: " From the legal point of view, it would be vastly complicated. I am looking into the matter closely.
"This isn't the moment to make airy promises. I'm not making any. I do think, however, that Form 18— the willing and able ' clause to which you object so strongly—can be modified to help you.
" Obviously, the Government must know that you are willing to meet financial obligations for the schools. On the question of your ability to pay, steps must be taken to space out your obligations—and to make the load lighter to shoulder.
" The extent of Catholic liabilities must he correctly worked out, I am not at alt sure that the total sum you fess must be found—out of your pockets—isn't too high."
He said that an early appointment he was keen to make and keep was with Bishop Beck, "a man whom I admire for his frankness and transparent common sense. 1 should like to discuss the entire problem with him."
And Mr. Butler ended with this reassurance: " The last thing in the world I want Catholics to imagine is that we're trying to force them out of their schools or into controlled schools, against the sacred wishes of parents.
" I want a just settlement as much as Catholics do."