In this recording, made at a Cambridge Union debate in 1996, Barbara Castle describes some of the resistance the Equal Pay Act of 1970 came up against before going on to defend the payment of Child Benefit to mothers.
What is Child Benefit?
In 1945 the Family Allowances Act was passed. The Act empowered the government to pay an allowance of 5 shillings per week for care of each child, other than the eldest, under the age of 18. These payments are now known as Child Benefit. In 1975 Barbara Castle fought to ensure that the new Child Benefit Act guaranteed that payments were made directly to mothers thus helping to ensure their independence and to create what she refers to in the recording as a ‘woman friendly’ society.
Who was Barbara Castle?
Barbara Castle (1910–2002) was the Labour MP for Blackburn between 1945 and 1979, the MEP for Greater Manchester from 1979–189 and, after being granted a life peerage, she was a member of the House of Lords from 1990. She is the only woman to have held the title First Secretary of State. Castle is best known for her role in the introduction of the 1970 Equal Pay Act while Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity.
What are the Cambridge Union debates?
The Cambridge Union Society at the University of Cambridge regularly invites guest speakers, such as Barbara Castle, to take part in debates or speaker events at the union.