The Struggle for Population

The Struggle for Population

The Struggle for Population

The Struggle for Population

Excerpt

By A. M. CARR-SAUNDERS

'I MUST say that I look upon the continued diminution of the birth-rate in this country with considerable apprehension. At the present time it may seem that we have here a larger population than we are able to support in England. At the same time we know the difficulty which the Dominions find in accommodating a larger population when they themselves are troubled with unemployment. But I have a feeling that the time will not be far distant when that position will be reversed, when the countries of the British Empire will be crying out for more citizens of the right breed and when we in this country will not be able to supply the demand. I think that if to-day we can give even a little help to those who are carrying on the race, the money will not be wasted.' This passage is taken from the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer when introducing the Budget last year. He accompanied these remarks with the announcement that he proposed to modify both the personal allowance of a married tax-payer and the children's allowances. The former then stood at £150; he proposed to raise it to £170. The latter stood at £50 for the first child and £40 for each subsequent child; he proposed to raise the allowance for second and all subsequent children to £50.

It is evident that the Chancellor regards these measures not as a remedy for, but rather as a recognition of, a grave problem, towards finding a solution for which they are intended to be merely a very modest beginning. It is probable that in the future the taking of these steps will be regarded as marking a very important turning-point in our social policy, for they represent the first deliberate attempt to begin the construction of a population policy for this country. It has recently become apparent that such a policy is necessary. The population of this country has now almost reached its peak; decline will shortly set in, and even if fertility remains at its present level, that decline will soon become rapid. There may be good reasons to welcome the cessation of growth, but there are no grounds for desiring a swift . . .

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