A tale of two Williams: William Temple and the William Beveridge Report
1942 was a remarkable year for the laying of foundations for post- War British society. This was because of the publication of two slim volumes during the year, beginning with William Temple’s Christianity and Social Order. This was a Penguin Special paperback justifying the right and duty of the Church to speak out on social reform and outlining a programme of post-war reconstruction including replacing the slums with decent homes, education for all to the age of 18, a living wage for every worker, the right of workers to have a voice in the conduct of industry and the right to two days of rest in seven (Temple 1976, 97). Temple presented these as a comprehensive package that would create what would come to be called the Welfare State. He was, in fact, the person who had already coined the term (Temple 1928, 169-70). As is well known the book went on to sell 139,000 copies and was read by many more as it was passed from person to person in the armed services and wider community. Temple also led a campaign of speaking events across the country to build public support around his proposals. Historians have described how he helped to win over ‘middle England’ to the whole idea of comprehensive state provision, a section of the population whose taxes would have to pay for it all.