Timothy Wentworth Beaumont, Baron Beaumont of Whitley (22 November 1928 – 8 April 2008)
Liberal and Green politician, Anglican clergyman, advocate for lowering the age of consent to 14, legalising incest and contributor to a ‘pornographic magazine’.
Seems like an interesting chap…
The full original article from The Times 22nd January 1976 is below (click on image to enlarge).
Who Really Wants A Change In The Age Of Consent ? – by Ronald Butt
Students of the working of our representative democracy should savour the appointment by the Home Secretary of a body called the Policy Advisory Committee which is to advise the Criminal Law Revision Committee in reviewing the law on sexual offences. They should particularly ponder the brief which this group of people little known to the public (with one or two exceptions) has been given. Mr Jenkins has made the first reference to it the question of the age of consent.
How did it come about that Mr Roy Jenkins decided to set this inquiry going in the first place, and under what sort of prompting? Who chooses its subjects and, in particular, who chose this first subject?
Lord Carr, the last Conservative Home Secretary, made it unambiguously clear that the age of consent was not in question. Why does Mr Jenkins differ in thinking that it may be? Should he not have made his full reasons and thinking public?
Is a wave of insanity sweeping the public, particularly parents, that the age of consent which protects young girls from exploitation is too high at 16? Is there public indignation at the lack of equal opportunities for homosexuals because of the “discrepancy” (as one civil servant urbanely put it) between the higher age of consent that relates to them and the legal age for heterosexual relations?
Or has the public seen the light being held up by the lobby of the child-molesters, who are now euphemistically called paedophiles? Is the nation urging the Government to heed the call of the pressure group calling itself the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), which is campaigning for the removal from the statute book of the ”unjust laws” which “define mutual end loving relationships as assaults”?
Is Mr Roy Jenkins perhaps impressed by the attention given to this movement by Mind Out, (the journal of the National Association for Mental Health), which recently listed PIE as one of the “organizations to write to” for sexual minorities, and printed the plea of a “paedophile”: “Society makes it almost impossible for our relationships to exist… We are warm and gentle people. What has to change is attitudes to children’s sexuality and parents’ attitudes to their children.” (Mind Outwhich quoted this from a “two-day workshop”, did, it is true, record the opposing view that children “could be” harmed and, most bizarre of all, it cited as an argument against the claims of the paedophiles, that they might well cease to be attractive to a paedophile, once they reached a certain age, and their incomprehension as to why could affect later relationships”.)
Sick though society may now be, I do not notice any demand for any of these things from the public hypnotised into silence though it tends to be by any self-appointed ”expert” who stands up to testify, as though to a revealed and absolute truth, that even the most unspeakable beastliness is therapeutically ”good ” for somebody. So what is it all about? What has happened that the Home Secretary feels a need to respond to?
Post hoc, ergo propter hoc is not invariably a fallacy, and when one thing follows another there may be cause and effect. The only explanation that I can suggest for Mr Jenkins’s decision is a willingness (and the views of certain Home Office officials in this as in other matters are not to be disregarded) to heed the pressure groups campaigning in these fields. Their activities reached their apogee with the report more than a year ago of the working party of the Sexual Law Reform Society, whose members included that exemplar of moral thinking, Lord Beaumont of Whitley.
Among other recommendations of the Sexual Law Reform Society’s working party was the reduction of the age of consent for girls and boys to 14, legalizing incest for people over 14, “notwithstanding the strong but irrational revulsion that may be felt against it” and the legalization of brothels.
No doubt incest too will eventually be in the Criminal Law Revision Committee’s brief, and that of its policy advisory committee. Fortunately, the CLRC is a responsible body, and more fortunately still its chairman, Lord Edmund-Davies is also chairing the work of the Policy Advisory Committee.
It is important for the politicians who represent the people to be vigilant in face of the subtlety with which the law can be changed, and the standards of a growing generation manipulated, by the activities of self-styled experts. The fact that the House of Lords last week devoted some seven hours to discussing sex education in schools-which is in many ways the other side of the coin being studied in the Home Office- is a sign that the politicians themselves are increasingly aware of the problem.
As Lady Elles expressed it in a brilliantly documented speech which opened the debate, what is called sex education differs from other subjects in that it may determine the immediate and future behaviour of children and change the whole climate of society. There was a remarkable consensus among the majority of those who spoke about the need to teach it in a moral context, and about the reasons for fear that this is often not done.
Significantly, the only peer with a sharply different approach was Lord Beaumont, who wanted the teaching of sexual mechanics to be considered as a completely separate subject from moral teaching, which he regarded as teaching children to make their own moral judgments. Since Lord Beaumont is a contributor to a pornographic magazine, we might not take his views on moral education too seriously. But what he is saying is precisely what is happening in too many cases.
Children are often given the facts about contraception in a way which could suggest to some of them that it would not be unreasonable, if they chose, to make use of it. There is also the practice of teaching contraception in terms of girls and boys rather than men and women.
Lady Elles was surely right to argue that parents should be told how the subject is taught and allowed to withdraw their children if they disapprove. The danger is that we shall first allow children’s behaviour to be changed by the assumptions that are communicated to them as a captive impressionable audience and then change the law on the grounds that it does not fit the facts of behaviour. The Government, which provides grants for the sex education work of the Family Planning Association, a body much criticized in the debate, also has a responsibility. Where there is public money, there must be political responsibility.