[ Lord Riddell and eugenics: 'Lunacy and mental deficiency must always be festering sores'. ] Printed pamphlet: 'Sterilisation of the Unfit. Paper read by Lord Riddell before the Medico-Legal Society, April 25th, 1929.'

Lord Riddell [ George Allardice Riddell, 1st Baron Riddell ] (1865-1934), Fleet Street press baron, proprietor of the News of the World [ eugenics ]
Publication details: 
Printed for H. K. Lewis & Co. Ltd, by Hazell, Watson & Viney, Ltd., London and Aylesbury. No date [ circa 1929 ].
SKU: 20769

31 + [1]pp., 8vo. Stapled without wraps. Drophead title. (Offprint from Transactions of the Medico-Legal Society.) In fair condition, lightly aged, central vertical fold, rusted staples. 'No reasonable person', Riddell writes, 'suggests the wholesale sterilisation of masses of lunatics and defectives. Only very moderate measures are proposed.' Riddell's suggestion is that 'in suitable cases, subject to the consent of the Board of Control, or some similar body', and with the consent of the subject, lunatics and mental defectives be sterilised. He deals with three objections: that sterilisation constitutes an 'Interference with individual freedom', 'That sterilisation would lead to promiscuity and the spread of venereal disease', 'That sterilisation operations are dangerous.' Riddell's conclusion is that: 'Lunacy and mental deficiency are unpleasant subjects which most people are loth to face or discuss. The absence of any well-considered policy is apparent. […] the cure, interest, and happiness of the individual lunatic or deficient are put before the general interest of the community. […] Voluntary sterilisation would, however, make their task easier by enabling them to carry out their programme of restoring to the outside world as many lunatics and mental defectives as possible. It would also render easier the task of supervision in mental institutions. At the same time the public and relatives of these unfortunate people would have a measure of protection. Lunacy and mental deficiency must always be festering sores, but the time has come when the whole subject requires careful consideration and statesmanlike attention.' The only copies on OCLC WorldCat and COPAC at the LSE and Leicester University.