Dave New World: Breeding Hell

By DeusExMacintosh

New Conservative peer Howard Flight has issued an “unreserved” apology for saying child benefit changes would encourage the poor to “breed”. In a statement issued by the party, Mr Flight said he would like to withdraw the remark, made to a newspaper.

His comments came after David Cameron urged him to apologise but rejected calls to block his peerage. Labour branded Mr Flight’s comments “shameful” and said they showed the Tories were out of touch with people.

Mr Flight, a former Conservative deputy chairman, was named last week by Mr Cameron as one of more than 20 new Tory peers. The former MP for Arundel and South Downs, who is yet to take his seat in the House of Lords, was commenting on the government’s plans to cut child benefit for top-rate taxpayers.

He told the London Evening Standard: “We’re going to have a system where the middle classes are discouraged from breeding because it’s jolly expensive.

“But for those on benefits, there is every incentive. Well, that’s not very sensible.”

Asked at a Downing Street press conference if he would block Mr Flight from taking up his peerage, Mr Cameron said: “I don’t agree with what he said and I am sure he will want to apologise for what he said. And I’m sure we can leave it at that.”

BBC News

31 Comments

  1. Jacques Chester
    Posted November 30, 2010 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Am I reading this right, or did he never actually directly say “child benefit changes will encourage the poor to breed”?

    I detect journalistic rewriting in order to maximise headline impact.

  2. Bernice
    Posted November 30, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    He is still to be damned for using the word ‘jolly’ without irony or sarcastic intent.

    What is far more interesting than a freshly minted conservative peer braying silly is that Cameron has created more than 20 new Tory peers within 6 months of gaining office, ensuring that the Coalition, willing or otherwise, also has a majority in House of Lords. How very jolly.

  3. Patrick
    Posted November 30, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    I think that may be par for the course, Bernice.

    On the larger point, well poor people, as well as everyone else(!) should think about how many kids they have, and we should think more about the incentives embedded in our welfare programs.

    Those seem like very reasonable statements to me.

  4. Tim Quilty
    Posted November 30, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Seems bloody reasonable to me too. But then, I’m not a socialist.

  5. Peter Patton
    Posted November 30, 2010 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    Jesus, man speaks the goddam truth, which should be repeated across the land! And “jolly” is as English as “fair dinkum” is Australian. Not a jolly jot of irony is needed.

  6. Posted November 30, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    [email protected]: well I’m a thorough lefty, and putting subsidized condom vending machines everywhere (including schools) and a modest no-baby bonus in place would be a good thing in my view.

    The expressed desire for cashed-up breeders, however, seems more a desire to have more good little consumers with the ability for discretionary spending and private sector borrowing.

  7. Peter Patton
    Posted November 30, 2010 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    db

    Give me more good little consumers over dissolute chavs please.

  8. Peter Patton
    Posted November 30, 2010 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    Someone has to pay for our retirement! 🙂

  9. Posted November 30, 2010 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

    Do I really need to re-post “I am not an underclass” yet again?! Generalisations are not helpful, and as Peter Patton points out, given the pensions situation you want at least the CHANCE that we’ll have enough earners to support the grey brigade. People on benefits tend to end up as net tax recipients rather than net contributors. Economically you want to maximise your net contributors, fine. Tories tend to be braying millionaire ex-pats who’ve offshored their lucre and contribute less to the national purse than even *I* do as a disabled person on benefits. That doesn’t mean it’s fair to generalise about them either.

  10. Peter Patton
    Posted December 1, 2010 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    DEM

    Though the comments certainly might have been composed more delicately, my position at least, is not about ‘folks on benefit’ per se. But I do think that for the abled, being on welfare should always be a temporary hiccup/upset, during which time it is probably ill-advised to take on the extra huge financial – and of course other – responsibilities of having a child.

    To the extent the welfare system provides an insurance policy encouraging people to have a child anyway, then that welfare system needs fixing, UNLESS that society is very rich, which has not been the case in the UK for a while.

    I am a firm believer that current welfare payments should be much higher, but the strings attached should be much stricter. Welfare should be sufficient to live with dignity, short-lived, and rare! For the abled, those strings should include encouraging people to use contraception until they get back on their feet, rather than encouraging them to kick back and ‘breed’.

    Your own personal position is clearly not in this league.

  11. Peter Patton
    Posted December 1, 2010 at 12:13 am | Permalink

    Nevertheless, apologies for any hurt which you may have felt regardless.

  12. Posted December 1, 2010 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    Not snapping at you PP. I’ve been having a series of “well you DON’T!” conversations with SL that are starting to get a little frustrating.

    As I have pointed out to her today, in aggregate over my working life I have probably paid more into the British exchequer than George Osborne with his overseas trust fund has, despite the fact I’m now on benefits due to disability and he is a millionaire politician.

  13. Patrick
    Posted December 1, 2010 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    Counting VAT, DEM?

  14. Posted December 1, 2010 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    A nice summary of the UK’s macro situation is here. The UK absolutely has to get its public debt down. But, as DEM is implying, a certain cleverness (and humanity) in welfare policy would help rather than hinder that.

  15. Mel
    Posted December 1, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    In 1984 the Australian mining magnate Lang Hancock appeared on telly and proposed the mass sterilisation of Aboriginals to deal with the problem of Aboriginal delinquency and the associated welfare payments. I wonder how such a view would be go down today.

  16. Posted December 1, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Mel: Based on William Bennett’s experience, very badly.

  17. Posted December 1, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    [email protected]: That was a whole bucket of illadvised statement by Bennett… and didn’t differentiate between offenders versus total dollar value of the offences. Thinking along the lines of [email protected] how many petty thieves in the US equals one Madoff? How many typical UK welfare families equals one northern rock banl director?

  18. Mel
    Posted December 1, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    Bennett’s statement is like saying that rounding up male homosexuals and placing them in internment camps would reduce HIV transmission in Western countries. Obviously true, but nonetheless possibly best left unsaid.

  19. Posted December 1, 2010 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    And killing off and sterilizing disabled people to get them out of the gene pool would also result in a reduction in the cost of welfare… there’s a reason Germany is one of the few solvent countries in the Euro zone. T4 worked. Anyone proposes that and I will find out where you live and come around and QuakerKick ™ you.

  20. Peter Patton
    Posted December 2, 2010 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    DEM

    I am also there with you 100%; with bovver boots of necessary. You really should exploit-on-steroids this historically unprecedented vehicle for the disabled to organize globally that the Internet provides.

  21. Posted December 2, 2010 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    That Bennett dude really took the Freakanomics findings and ran with them… straight off a cliff.

  22. Mel
    Posted December 2, 2010 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Actually, when a testosterone-fueled white bloke like Bennett makes such a comment a reasonable comeback would be that all males from the age of puberty should be placed on depo-provera to lower the incidence of rape. Once again true, but possibly best left unsaid.

  23. Patrick
    Posted December 2, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    there’s a reason Germany is one of the few solvent countries in the Euro zone.

    ?

    Not denying that there is, but it is possible that none of them are related to this discussion?

  24. Peter Patton
    Posted December 2, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Mel

    In 1984 the Australian mining magnate Lang Hancock appeared on telly and proposed the mass sterilisation of Aboriginals to deal with the problem of Aboriginal delinquency and the associated welfare payments. I wonder how such a view would be go down today.

    Are you sure you’d really like to find out?

  25. Peter Patton
    Posted December 2, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Actually, when a testosterone-fueled white bloke

    Are there any other sort of blokes, white or otherwise? It kinda goes with the territory.

  26. Posted December 2, 2010 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    Patrick, one of the reasons Germany has a low spend on disability benefits (also helpfully quoted by IDS this week) is because they have less disabled people. This is true. Spending less on welfare means a more balanced budget ergo, solvent country. I mean, haven’t you heard? According to Iain Duncan Smith today, unproductive people like me are in fact entirely responsible for the British deficit!

    “…we have managed to create a block of people in Britain who do not add anything to the greatness of this country.

    “They have become conditioned to be users of services, not providers of money. This is a huge part of the reason we have this massive deficit. We have had to borrow vast sums of money. We went on this inflated spending spree.

    “But at the heart of it lies the fact that Britain is not productive enough. We have to get Britain to rediscover what was really great about this country.

  27. Patrick
    Posted December 3, 2010 at 3:21 am | Permalink

    I would have thought that this was more than made up for by integration costs. Well over 50bn Euros a year for the last 20+ years is not bad.

    As for that quote, I would have thought that logically the productivity part refers to a distinct section of the population from the first part. After all productivity will be lowered, not improved, typically, by increasing employment amongst semi-marginalised or disabled groups.

  28. Posted December 8, 2010 at 1:35 am | Permalink

    Are there any other sort of blokes, white or otherwise? It kinda goes with the territory.

    Metrosexuals, I think Patrick. They’re apparently fuelled by latte…

  29. Patrick
    Posted December 8, 2010 at 3:17 am | Permalink

    Wrong poster DEM. Also, this week’s Economist has a chart on disability illness and unemployment spending which suggests that the difference between England and Germany is more in the categorisation than the actual spending.

  30. Posted December 8, 2010 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    [email protected]: on metrosexuals fueled by latte (and the high octane metro version of soy chai)

    Also add the 1.5% (Kinsey estimate) who have a third orientation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asexuality along with those approaching asexuality close enough to make the label “testosterone-fueled” inappropriate.

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