‘Use scare-films to deter pregnancy’

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EDUCATION Secretary Sir Keith Joseph urged Margaret Thatcher to run a campaign of fear to deter teenagers from becoming pregnant.

The Leeds North East MP for 30 years until 1987 wanted the Government to produce a series of “scare” films to curb pregnancies among adolescents from “the least good homes”.

Sir Keith – regarded as Mrs Thatcher’s ideological mentor – believed a “sharply rising trend” of bad parenting was a “major cause of poor education and crime”, according to official papers.

He said: “Those girls who are at most risk will tend neither to restrain themselves nor insist on or use contraceptives nor to have sufficient grip even to consider abortion in sufficient time. One possibility – delicate and fraught with risk – would be to try to use, in connection with pregnancy, the approach used in connection with cigarette smoking – that is fear. We could therefore explore whether short scare-films, suggesting that maternity is marvellous when the parents concerned are ready for it, might be practicable.”

His comments echo a controversial speech in 1974 when he appeared to suggest birth rates among the working classes should be curbed. The remarks cost him his Tory leadership chance and opened the way for Mrs Thatcher.