It was 73 years ago, on Friday 15th June 1945, that an Act of Parliament was passed that confirmed that from this day a family allowance of 5 shillings per child, after the first child, became law in Britain. The weekly newspapers of 8th June had reported that ‘Mr Churchill’s indication in the House yesterday afternoon that the Family Allowance Bill will probably be through Parliament next week, provided that the new clauses which are to be tabled are accepted, seems to be a victory for the critics. It presumably means that Servicemen will receive family allowances – five shillings a week for each child after the first – in addition to their full Service grants. Originally this proposal had been resisted at the Committee stage of the Bill, but critics sprang up on every side of the House to defend the Serviceman’s rights. In view of the demonstration, the new clauses to the Bill, which will appear to-day, are expected to show that the Government has given way.’
However – not everyone was happy about this. The Dundee Courier of Saturday 16th June carried the following letter:
‘Sir: – Bang goes another 70 million pounds, and under the Family Allowance Bill tens of thousands of people will get a gift from the Exchequer of 5s per week for every child after the first – people to whom this sum will not represent even a drop in the bucket. No matter what they earn (or don’t earn) the 5s is theirs. There are also tens of thousands of people who don’t deserve it – and some who do. I have a strong objection to the paying of this sum to those who don’t need it and those that don’t deserve it. Who pays for this? The taxpayer – the spinsters, bachelors, couples with no children, and couples whose children are over age. Is this fair? Those who have the pleasure of the children and who reap the benefit of them should bring them up’….
This erudite letter continues for many, many, more words… but the die had been cast and Family Allowances were here to stay.