speaks of 'This Iniquitous Act'
CATHOLIC HERALD' REPORTER
"PARLIAMENT has got to alter the 1944 Schools Act," declared Mr. R. Mellish, Labour M.P. for Bermondsey at a Y.C.W. Rally at Lewisham on Sunday.
He went on: "I warn this Government and any other Government that may come into power at the next election that unless it ends this iniquitous 1944 Act it will have an extremely rough passage from Christian M.P.s in the House, irrespective of creed."
Mr. Mellish told h i. s Lewisham Town Hall audience, comprising 300 members, boys and girls of the Southwark Young Christian Workers, that he intended deliberately to talk about schools at this gathering, because there were four other M.P.s present, and he wanted them to be informed of the facts.
Among the guests were Mr. Herbert Morrison. M.P., Colonel Lipton. M.P.. Mr. Henry Price. M.P., and Mr. Robert McDermott, M.P. also the Mayors of Southwark and Lewisham.
We Catholics had been " stupid ", said Mr. Mellish, to agitate the schools question in 1950 at the time of a general election, when candidates, in order to secure votes, were saying " yes" to everything. " But we have to sell our case to those who are in Parliament now, and we must discuss it with M.P.s in a friendly way ".
He himself had arranged for members of his own Party to meet Bishop Beck on the point, and Mr. Grant Ferris had undertaken to do the same for those of the Conservative Party.
£60m DEBT In a forceful address, listened to attentively by the young boys and girls, many of whom had not become fully aware as yet of the problems dealt with, Mr. Mellish reminded them that Catholics were now faced with a debt of £60 millions for their schools, and recalled how under the 1944 Act the Government undertook to make grants to religious bodies for their schools. These grants had now been " watered down ", he said, and added :
" I warn the country now that the overwhelming debt that has been forced upon us will be fought tooth and nail in Parliament in an all-out drive to have the 1944 Act amended on the lines of equity and justice.
" I am glad to tell you that the Free Churches and the Church of England, faced with the same problem of costs, are lining up with us. What every religious body in this country must do is to act against this vicious Act of
Parliament now, and campaign for its reform ".
Jim Wilson, Australian Y.C.W. National Secretary, stated that in his country there were 180 branches for boys and 200 for girls, that the enemy they had to combat was not bigotry, which was non-existent, but the forgetfulness of God and indifferentism resulting from prosperity. Their mission to youngsters of that country was to train them to see money's real value, to be charitable to all, and to prepare for Christian marriage. He appealed to older people " not to be patronising towards the Y.C.W. movement".
After Vic Yeo, of Camberwell, had stressed the international character of the Y.C.W., as demonstrated in the gesture of members here who had made it possible for six African members to go to the recently held Rome Rally, Angela del Pizzo, of Welling, Kent. gave her impressions on the great gathering at Rome, where because the Holy Father had appeared to understand the longings of Catholic youth. " we came away inspired to renew our resolutions to go and live our lives in the Y.C.W. spirit ".
She ended as follows: " What a blessing it would he if all of us, remembering our visit to Rome, kept to our role in the Mystical Body of Christ, our Head and our Leader."