ARCHBISHOP CALLS FOR FAMILY ALLOWANCES
Catholic Economist Warns Against Enforcing Birth Control Restrictions
THE NEED FOR FAMILY ALLOWANCES AND FOR MORE GENEROUS AND MORE EFFECTIVE HELP FROM CATHOLICS FOR THE REFUGEES IN THIS COUNTRY WERE AMONG THE POINTS STRESSED BY THE ARCHBISHOP OF BIRMINGHAM IN HIS PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS TO THE ANNUAL MEETING OF THE CATHOLIC SOCIAL GUILD, HELD IN RUSKIN COLLEGE, OXFORD, AT THE OPENING OF THE TWENTIETH ANNUAL SUMMER SCHOOL OF THE GUILD.
" I suggest," said the Archbishop, " that the Guild should organise a campaign for family allowances in this country. The country does nothing, or very, very little to support and honour family life. In the new housing areas there are very few houses large enough for a family with four children. Nor are the wages paid high enough to support them.
" Even when they do give benefits, such as free milk and medical treatment, they give them through the schools instead of through the parents. That is no encouragement to family life."
The only final solution was the payment of a family living wage, but there the industrialists came in and said that industry could not afford it, and he was inclined to agree with them. with anything like decency to be 67s. 641.
His Grace referred to a number of countries where family allowance schemes had been worked with good results, and declared that it seemed to him that something of the same sort should be done in this country. He hoped that the Catholic Social Guild would help to form public opinion in their favour.
Speaking of the number of refugees in the country, the Archbishop remarked that they were not popular.
" I do not wonder at that," he said. " There are too many of them. Still, we owe them a debt of charity and we ought to pay it."
In commending highly the Year Book of the Guild, A Catholic's Guide to Socica and Political Questions, he declared that the C.S.G. wae not known nearly so well as it should be. He particulary commended the work of the Guild to the clergy, particularly the secular priests.
"I consider," His Grace declared, " that the Guild is the most important movement of all in a country such as ours."
Fr. L. O'Hea, S.J., Hon, Secretary of the C.S.G., giving his report, said that the year had brought a record in members, membership having reached 3,910. " our membership roll, however," he continued, "still falls short of our needs, and we ask all to continue in their efforts to enrol new members. We look for a speedy approach to the figure of 10,000 members, the minimum necessary for the Guild to fulfil its obligations to the Church and society."
Study circles numbered 329, with a Student membership of some 3,000. The newest venture was a conference of employers which was in touch with similar movements in other countries.
Giving his report on the Catholic Workers College, Fr. O'Hea said that they had maintained their record of thirteen students in residence, ten men and three women. Four men and three Women had completed their course and obtained the University Diploma in Economics and Political Science. One woman student had been awarded a scholarship at Somerville College to go on for an honours degree.
Numbers next year, Fr. O'Hea concluded, would be smaller than in the year just completed.
BURDEN FALLS ON GUILD
Mr R. O'Sullivan, K.C., chairman of the Executive Committee, closing the meeting, endorsed the plea made by His Grace the Archbishop for family allowances. The C.S.G., he said, was almost the only body which attempted the Catholic intellectual formation of lay men and women in this country. For that reason the burden of maintaining the fabric of our Christian civilisation, which must fall largely upon Catholics. would fall most heavily upon members of the Guild.
It was announced that owing to the recent death of his mother, Fr. L. Watt, S.J., who was to have lectured on " Wages and the Family," would be unable to do so, and that his place would be taken by Mr J. R. Kirwan, a former student of the College.
Mr Kirwan in his lectures summarised the teaching of the papal encyclicals, and pointed out that the Popes were emphatic that the minimum wage due in strict justice to a normal adult unskilled workman was a wage sufficient to maintain a normal family, 73s. 6d. MINIMUM FAMILY WAGE
Mr Kirwan took the estimate of a minimum wage, which was not a living wage but something not much above a subsistence wage, which had been made by Mr Seebohm Rowntree. Mr Rowntree, he said, had estimated the wage for a man, wife and three children at 565. a week. Working on the same basis, he (Mr Kirwan) found the lowest possible wage on which a family to live a week.
" When we estimate for four children," Mr Kirivan continued, "and I suggest that we should take four children as the normal family, we find the lowest possible wage to be 73s. Ed. a week."
Mr Kirwan proceeded to point out that Such a wage could not be paid in our present society. That was sufficient reason for making radical reforms, but meanwhile the only solution was family allowances. He preferred, however, industrial schemes worked by the employers' associations and the trade unions, with help where necessary from the State, to State schemes.
Dr. E. R. Roper-Power, speaking on " Population," pointed out that this country was faced with an inevitable decline in its population. Apart from other grave considerations, he declared, this must lead to declining markets, a growing cost of social and public services per head of the population, and a growing measure of State control to meet the grave economic problems decline would raise.
GRIEVANCES OF THOSE PRACTISING BIRTH CONTROL Neither increased celibacy nor late marriages could be blamed for the postwar drop in fertility, the.lecturer went on. The blame must he laid at the door of a conscious restriction of births.
Among practical steps to meet the menace, Dr. Roper-Power suggested that there was need for a national maternity service to bring midwives, general practitioners and obstetricians together.
He did not, he said, favour legal restriction on birth control, for it was had tactics and did not strike at the root causes " Population policy," he declared, " If it is to have a moral basis, must inquire into the grievances of those who practise birth-control."
A prime remedy he declared to be family allowances, and these must be the central plank in a policy of social justice. They were the only way the family could be rehabilitated.