3 DECEMBER 1904, Page 33

SIE,—As a member of the Committee to whose Report you

refer in your admirable article upon this subject in last week's Spectator, I shall be obliged if you will allow me to point out what appear to me to be the conditions essential to success in any attempt to carry out Mr. Long's proposed scheme. The ill-considered and dangerous proposal to supply the Central Committee with funds drawn from the rates, it may be hoped, will not be adopted by the Central Committee. Apart from this, the suggestions for co-operation between the various bodies in a borough with the object of dealing with local distress and the formation of a central representative Committee are excellent ; but if the operations of these Com- mittees are to have the desired effect, two conditions are necessary,—(1) that the Guardians throughout the Metro- polis should administer out-relief in strict accordance with the regulations ; (2) that due discrimination should be exercised in selecting the recipients of assistance. The first condition might be secured by firm and persistent pressure exercised by the Local Government Board. The second is a matter of extreme difficulty,—a fact which is by no means generally recognised. No hard-and-fast line between different classes of applicants can be drawn. One class shades off into another. It is impossible to say : "Here Class A ends and Class B begins." Without very com- plete knowledge of the previous life and present circum.

stances of the applicant no good opinion can be formed as to the class in which he ought to be placed. Such knowledge as is required can only be obtained by the employment of trained inquirers, and this necessary work cannot be adequately performed by persons who have had no previous experience of social work. As a matter of fact, it would be very difficult at the present time to find a sufficient number of trained persons to deal with a large number of applicants. The attempt to make thorough inquiry is also very distasteful to the kind-hearted public, who consider the process inquisitorial, and are slow to understand the necessity for it. If, however, the inquiry is not efficiently carried out, real discrimination is impossible, and the scheme must inevit- ably fail. I do not say the difficulty is insuperable ; I only desire to point it out and emphasise its importance.—I am, Sir, &c., ARTHUR CLAY. 19 Hyde Park Gate, London, S.W.