The welfare debate has regressed by generations

Iain Duncan Smith’s plan to restrict child benefit to the first two for new claimants is compared in the Independent to  China’s one child policy. My own comparison is much closer to home.

In my 1950s childhood it was commonplace to hear lots of Prod grumbling about  payments to  all those  big Catholic families – “breeding like rabbits, they won’t have the Crown but they want the half crown”  etc.

Even as child this  struck me as a futile argument. After all it wasn’t the babies’ fault that they were born. Why should they be penalised?  I never thought I’d hear this sort of thing again.

Procreative practice may have changed but welfare principles seem to be regressing to a point considered unfeasible even in bad old Unionist Northern Ireland all those years ago.  

Have I missed the local protests?

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London