Ernest William Barnes: Too many people, sterilize the unfit, euthanize defective infants, and family planning

From the “Daily Express”, Tuesday, November 29th, 1949

Too Many People, Says Dr. Barnes

Two hundred business men and one solitary woman yesterday heard a bishop argue scientifically that the unfit must be prevented from having children if Britain is not to collapse.

Dr. Ernest William Barnes, Bishop of Birmingham, mathematician and theologian, gave a hint of what was to come when he rose to address members of Birmingham’s Rotary Club.

He said to the chairman: “If what I say meets with disapproval from a number of members, you are not responsible.”

And then he said:-

“We look like being permanently the paupers of the English-speaking world. We need to restrict our population.”

“We must preserve the better stocks and hinder the increase of the worse.”

Out with the wasters

“Now, I do not mean ‘preserve the rich and get rid of the poor.’ We need to preserve the good living, honest, hard-working classes in our people, whether they be rich or poor.”

“But we must get rid of the slovenly, vicious, idle wasters of the community. Unfortunately, the Welfare State is only too likely to encourage their increase.”

The bishop’s hearers broke an intent silence to say “Hear, hear” to that. Dr. Barnes, a bishop for 25 years, continued:

“We must get rid of our slums. We must give all possible help to the poor and unfortunate, but we must not let the Welfare State spoil rather than improve the quality of pour population.”

Again the audience murmured approval. And Dr. Barnes went on:-

“We must, I think limit immigration, whether from India, South Africa, the West Indies or East Europe.”

‘Quite easy’

“We must educate our citizens to have smaller families. We must have medically controlled sterilization of the grosser forms of unfitness.”

“Many are beginning to think that medically controlled euthanasia [painless death] for defective infants should be an element in our social policy.”

After his speech, Dr. Barnes was questioned about the operation for sterilization. He replied:

“Sterilization for a man is quite easy.”

“Medical authorities seem to believe that sterilization for a woman will not ultimately be dangerous.”

“The idea is new. It is contrary to our traditions. It seems to be an offence against our human instincts. But what alternative is there?”

Bishop Barnes, 75 year old father of two sons, sat down to warm applause.





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