22 FEBRUARY 1952, Page 2

Subsidies the Key

The myth which has grown up concerning the motive and necessity of food subsidies remains one of the most baffling of the obstacles to financial sanity. Socialists today breathe fire and slaughter at the very thought of any reduction in the large sum devoted to subsidies, apparently forgetting the doubts formerly expressed by Labour Chancellors—Mr. Gaitskell, Sir Stafford Cripps and even Mr. Dalton—about this largely acci- dental and singularly wasteful device. The Conservative Party have clearly been impressed by these threats, but it is very much to be hoped that they will get new courage from the speech which Lord Waverley made in. the Lords on Wednesday. Lord Waverley, as Sir John Anderson, was largely responsible for the introduction of subsidies, as a war-time device for stabilising wages. Nobody is better qualified to puncture the Labour Party myth' that subsidies are an essential device in the social services. He asserted the essential nature of the object sought —the relief of the needs of the poor—and denied the validity of subsidies as a means to that end. He pointed out that, even if the total expenditure were not reduced, far more effective and better directed relief could be achieved by some other device than this fantastic arrangement for shoWering benefits on both the deserving and the undeserving. It is to be hoped that, above all others, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has marked Lord Waverley's words.