25 SEPTEMBER 1942, Page 13

SIR,—The note on " Compulsion for Youth? " in your

issue .of Septem- ber 18th will be welcomed by every lover of liberty. Conservatives are too often willing to sacrifice liberty for the sake of what they call "discipline " and " service," though a discreet vagueness obscures the ends to which such " discipline " and " service " are to be dedicated. Socialists are also ready and even eager to obliterate liberty in order to in►Pose equality ; while a bureaucracy always finds compulsion convenient.

The discrediting of voluntary efforts may, in time, be regarded as an essential preliminary to any enactment that affects the conduct of our private lives, whether we are fourteen or fifty.

It is significant that the greatest youth movement in the world, created by private enterprise in this country, is always pointedly ignored by party pundits and bureaucrats alike. The Boy Scout and Girl Guide movement has been imitated by nearly every other nation: we owe an incalculable debt to the genius of one of the genuine great men of our century, the late Lord Baden-Powell, its founder. But from the point of view of politicians, who want a malleable public, and bureaucrats, who want docile form-fodder, the Scout and Guide movement is decidedly awkward. It fills so many of the gaps left by our inadequate State education: it teaches boys and girls to scrutinise the world about them, to observe and compare, to develop their special gifts, and to acquire a variety of skills. It also teaches them to think ; and when the people think, God help the purveyors of political faith, or the inventors of governmental forms.

The greatest voluntary youth movement has already left its mark on the world: why talk of compulsion, when such an organisation' already

exists?—I am, Sir, yours truly, JOHN GLOAG. 3 The Mall, East Sheen, S.W. 14.