‘SOCIAL SECURITIES IN DANGER, UNLESS—’
Must Get on Our Feet by 1952, Says Conservative candidate
That those pledged to fight the evils of Socialism will be the mainstay of the future of this country was agreed when the annual report of the Executive Council of Dartford Conservative and Unionist Association was approved at the annual meeting of the association held at the Bull Hotel, Dartford, on Thursday last week.
Miss Margaret Roberts, prospective Conservative candidate for the Division, claimed that if the present rate of Government expenditure went on and the budgets were as high as they had been since 1945 the present Government would in five years have spent as much as all the Governments between the wars.
Miss Roberts said that at the end of the war we had practically no overseas investments left; lease - lend was about to end, and the country had to pay her way with visible exports. Fortunately, America came to our aid. The Conservatives did not altogether approve of the way that loan was negotiated, and they abstained from voting on the question. In course of time their opinions were proved right.
In 1946 came the wheat crisis. Again the Conservatives were right. Then there was the fuel crisis, the result of which was a loss to the export drive of £200,000,000. That money would have paid for five years' supply of tobacco, lost for want of just 5,000,000 tons of coal.
“Had the Tories been in power, there would have been the biggest outcry against a Government ever known; somehow we Tories do not seem to bring home the faults of the Socialist Government as much as they would have done if the boot had been on the other foot,” declared Miss Roberts.
The dollar crisis was next on the list. This still existed. This Government would, she claimed, have gone out of power had it not been for the extreme generosity of “our American friends.”
A new problem was arising. For the past few years the cry had been “Produce more, produce more.” Now a condition had been added, “Produce more at a cost which your customers can pay.” Already there were signs that we were having difficulty in selling our goods. The battle of to-day was the driving down of the cost of production.
It had been asked if the present benefits under social security would have existed had a Conservative Government been in power. Miss Roberts referred her listeners to the days of 1941, when the Coalition Government (with a Conservative majority) set up under Sir William Beveridge a National Health Service Committee. At a later date, five main propositions were accepted. There should be a comprehensive scheme to cover everybody, a similar industrial injuries insurance scheme, family allowances, a national health service and national assistance, with an abolishing of the old Poor Law system. All of these principles, involving tremendous new plans, were well on the way to being completed when the Conservatives went out of office.
“Had our financial policies been on a sounder footing, these social securities would have been in far less danger than they are to-day. They are in danger unless we can get back on our feet before 1952. They are no use if the country goes bankrupt.”
Mr. Churchill had said that it would be a crime on the part of any Government to allow the value of people's savings to depreciate. “That is precisely what has happened,” said Miss Roberts. During the first nine months of the financial year, withdrawals from savings for the first time exceeded savings by £18,000,000.
People had to have something over in order to save up some capital for themselves—enough for them to feel that in the event of a rainy day they could tide themselves over. Miss Roberts stressed that the security a family could have by saving its own money, buying its own house and investing, was far better than the ordinary security one would get from any national scheme.
One of the first actions of any Conservative Government had to be the reduction of taxation. It could be done if Government extravagance was decreased. “If the present rate of Government expenditure goes on and the Budgets are as high in the next year as in the last four, this Government, in its five years of office, will have spent as much as all the Governments from 1918 to 1939,” stated the speaker.
Mr. J. F. L. Gates proposed a vote of thanks to Miss Roberts, which was seconded by Mrs. A. Jenns.
Mr. A. Morris Wheeler was re-elected president of the association, and other officers re-elected were Mr. J. L. M. Miller (chairman), Mr. Hugh Goff (vice-chairman) and Mr. W. E. D. Kelsey (hon. treasurer). Mrs. D. M. Fletcher and Miss M. Hamilton are also vice-chairmen.
Father a Liberal
Mr. Morris Wheeler said that in the selection of Miss Roberts as prospective candidate, the committee had probably had in mind that her father was a big Liberal worker, and that she would get not only Liberal support in voting, but also Liberal support in working.
The president reported that Mr. J. Rupert Mitchell had invited the association to take over the lease of part of his premises in Spital-street, and they were very grateful.
It was agreed to send a letter to Mr. Mitchell, who is in hospital, wishing him a speedy recovery.
In the annual report, presented by the chairman and the secretary, it was stated that during 1948 membership of the association had increased by more than 150 per cent.
The Young Conservatives organisation continued to flourish, and a Young Conservative Divisional Council had been formed to co-ordinate the work of the two branches.