31 JANUARY 1970, Page 26

Nationalised charity?

Sir: Mr Mark Brady (Letters, 17 January) displays all the worst aspects of the self- centred Little England individualism, current in part of the Liberal party a century ago.

He argues that state assistance undermines a man's moral right to life, liberty and property. But the truth is precisely the opposite. It is because the community recog- nises every man's moral right to life, liberty and property, that state assistance is needed to help those who are penniless or on the verge of starvation.

The property a man owns is not his purely by virtue of his own labour, but also by virtue of the community in which he lives. In what sense can one say that a person in a rich country earning £1,000 deserves that income, without saying that an Indian, very likely using an 'equal labour of mind and body', deserves to be starving?

Since a man's wealth is partly derived from the community in which he lives, he cannot absolve himself from the moral responsibilities concurrent with membership of that community.

Mr Brady sees himself as the 'true liberal'. Perhaps. But he is certainly not a true Con- servative, if he denies the organic nature

of society. Stephen Milligan

Oxford Union Society, Oxford