Thanks for an interesting question.
In 1910, Churchill was Home Secretary in Asquith's government. He
wrote something about his views on the "mentally degenerate" for the
Prime Minister, but there is contradictory information on the net
about whether it was an actual departmental paper emanating from the
Home Office, or perhaps a more private memorandum or letter.
You would be able to find the quote and more details about its source
in Clive Ponting's book, "Churchill", published by Sinclair Stevenson
in 1994. The original document is in the collection of Asquith's
papers at the Bodleian Library in Oxford.
There is another quote on the same theme, also from "Churchill to
Asquith" in 1910:
"The unnatural and increasingly rapid growth of the feeble-minded and
insane classes, coupled as it is with a steady restriction among all
the thrifty, energetic and superior stocks, constitutes a national and
race danger which it is impossible to exaggerate... I feel that the
source from which the stream of madness is fed should be cut off and
sealed up before another year has passed.
Churchill to Asquith, 1910"
This was quoted in Steve Jones' book, "The language of the Genes",
first published by Harper Collins in 1991.
* * * *
The key information needed for me to answer your question came from an
online work by Chomsky and some newsgroup messages:
"As Home Secretary in 1910 he had secretly proposed sterilization of
100,000 "mental degenerates" and the dispatch of tens of thousands of
others to state-run labor camps so as to save the "British race" from
inevitable decline if its "inferior" members are allowed to breed --
ideas that were within the bounds of enlightened opinion of the day,
but have been kept secret in Home Office files because of their
(Ch. 1, n. 29. Sterilization, Churchill biographer Clive Ponting,
Sunday Age (Australia), June 21, 1992. Racism-policymakers, DD, 52-3)
Year 501 - The Conquest Continues. by Noam Chomsky
* * * *
"See: C Ponting: Churchill ( Sinclair Stevenson 1994) pp. 100-105.
The key reference may be found in Asquith papers MS 12, f224-8.
Ponting also cites the following source material in connection
with the issue:
Churchill: Official Biography, Companion Notes Vol.2 p.xxviii,
Also Public Record Office, Kew: CAB37/108/189; Report of the Royal
Commission on the Care & Control of the Feeble-Minded 1904, ref: Cd
4202;HO 144/1098/197900; HO 144/1088/194663; HO 144/1042/183256.
Churchill, according to Ponting, appears to have been inspired
by a publication written by Dr HC Sharp entitled "The
Sterilisation of Degenerates". From the imprint of his booklet,
Sharp was connected with Indian Reformatory."
* * * *
"Ponting reveals that Churchill wanted to sterilize some Britons and
incarcerate others to halt the decline of the "British race," and uses
these revelations to support his claims that Churchill was a racist.
He notes a letter, written by Churchill and sent to his cousin, which
states "the improvement of the British breed is my political aim in
Churchill embraced the conclusions of the Royal Commission on the Care
and Control of the Feeble-Minded, which concluded that such people
were a danger to the race, and must not breed. Churchill wrote "The
unnatural and increasingly rapid growth of the feebleminded and insane
classes constitutes a national and race danger which I find impossible
He failed, in 1910, to pass a forcible sterilization bill."
(Source: The Ottawa Citizen)
* * * *
A critical review of Ponting's book in the Sunday Times concedes that
"He has, admittedly, read widely in both primary and secondary
SUN 01 MAY 1994, "Fallen Idol" by ANTHONY HOWARD (subscribers only)
* * * *
"The Mental Deficiency Bill
But prevention, for all its incidental pleasures, was no substitute
for a thorough cure. At last, in 1912, a Mental Deficiency Bill was
brought into the Commons by Winston Churchill, the Home Secretary of
the day. It delighted the eugenicists. It gave them almost everything
short of compulsory sterilisation. It made it a misdemeanour to marry
or attempt to marry a mental defective, or to solemnise, procure or
connive at such a marriage. It provided for registration and
segregation. It went further. The Home Secretary was to have the power
to commit any person who fell outside the definition of
feeble-mindedness but whose circumstances appeared to warrant his
On its first reading, the Bill had only 38 opponents. But the entire
Liberal press rose in outrage against it. Josiah Wedgewood, the
radical Liberal and ancestor of Tony Benn, denounced as a monstrous
violation of rights. The Roman Catholics denounced it as "contrary to
Christian morals and elementary human rights". It was withdrawn.
But a softened version was carried in 1913. Wedgewood spoke himself
hoarse in the Commons against this legislation "for the sake of a
scientific creed which in ten years may be discredited". But he
spoke in vain. The Bill passed its third reading with only three votes
* * * *
The Asquith Papers
* * * *
Used copy of Ponting's book
* * * *
Quote about "the feeble-minded and insane":
The Churchill You Didn't Know
("taken from page 9 of The Language of the Genes by Prof.Steve
Jones,published by Flamingo, London 1994")
2000 edition of "Language of the Genes"
* * * *
Cabinet records on microfilm at the British Library:
47. BRITISH CABINET RECORDS: CABINET PAPERS, 1880-1916.
49 reels of microfilm.
Before the formation of the Cabinet Secretariat in December 1916 no
systematic attempt was made to keep a complete set of the printed
memoranda which Cabinet Ministers thought worthwhile to circulate to
their colleges for the purpose of giving them information or for
securing their assent to some course of action.
This collection has been taken from the following sources:
The Royal Archives at Windsor, Lloyd George Papers, Chamberlain
Papers, Goschen Papers, Beveridge Papers, Braithwaite Papers,
Courtenay Papers, Markham Papers, Balfour Papers, Campbell-Bannerman
Papers, Dilke Papers, Arnold-Foster Papers, H.G.Gladstone
Papers,W.E.Gladstone Papers, Churchill Papers, Harding Papers, Haldane
Papers, Childers Papers, Papers of the 3rd Marquess of Salisbury,
Curzon Papers, Lothian Papers, and the Crewe Papers.
I hope this information meets your needs. Please feel free to ask for
clarification if I can offer any further help.
Regards - Leli
searches on google and google groups: