SINCE I am an individual member of the Labour Party, criticism by me of the proposals presented to the House or Commons by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on October 27 may be held to reflect political bias.
However, it seems to me that certain of these proposals cannot be regarded as entirely a matter of politics or of economics, but that a moral issue is involved.
Despite two changes and the new supplementary payment to poor families, there can be no doubt that the cost of living for many low-income families will rise. Hardships for some, including some children, will inevitably follow.
I would draw attention particularly to the following: (a) the expected decline in the standard of dental care, (b) the impact of greatly increased prescription charges, and (c) the very real danger that young children will be undernourished due to the school meal and milk charges.
I am aware that society faces a problem in that the demands of the social services, of education, of housing and so on, are essentially increasing. and that not all needs can be satisfied in any given period, whether of 5 or of 25 years, but I do contend that in face of the examples given above our priorities as a society are demonstrably wrong.
I thought some aspects of Labour Government policy in this and other fields deplorable, but there appears to be an extra degree of cynicism and selfishness in the present proposals. Finally, in your issue of October 30. your contributor Mr. St. John-Stevas, M.P., chooses to make a specific party political point in favour of the Conservatives in the course of his discussion of foreign aid. while ignoring (or perhaps merely postponing?) consideration of the question of welfare and social justice at home.
Please note that no prejudice against foreign aid is involved here; what is involved is the fact of a Conservative M.P. using this particular platform to pay tribute to future Conservative Government policy. while taking the opportunity of criticising the position taken up by the former labour Minister.
So long as this column is so used, it would be only reasonable to have an alternative view on political and moral issues presented alongside by a Catholic commentator of differ ing political views. •