I've added more than one source to show the range of counter-arguments being flung at Porritt's announcement. They don't get much more coherant than "screw the planet, I want more babies!" Because naturally many people have absolutely hit the roof at the suggestion, and I have to admit, I personally can't see how the government could regulate reproduction without resorting to draconian, freedom-restricting measures. But it's nice to know that people in power are starting to address the significance of couples' spawning kids without a thought for the consequences.
That's fantastic! My desire for a requirement that people need a license to spawn has always flown against my love of individual rights, so it's always been a stupid conflict with me. Ultimately I always just hope they all wise up, then get depressed, knowing they won't. (Damn it!) But, it is good to hear someone in a position of power in the Western World encouraging people to limit their herd.
And the thing is, nowhere does Porritt advocate formal government measures to limit people's reproductive freedom (I wish I'd noticed that before I addressed it in my OP). All this shows is that there may be some influence- some suggestion- from those in power that having two or fewer children is the conscientious thing to do. The newspapers who are trying to spin the story into a warning that Britain is turning into communist China are simply scaremongering- as usual. There's no reason why a government couldn't fully support Porritt's position without infringing on the human rights of it's citizens.
I wonder if UK has government child allowances like Australia? I would imagine they do. If they taper off the government allowance for each successive child they would probably bring reproduction rates down.
On the issue of fertility reduction, I favour fewer families having more children rather than all families having 1-2. I realise 'permitting' would be a highly contentious concept. But I don't think raising single children is healthy for the child's psychology. I await with anticipation for the China experiment to mature to get a glimpse of the true impact of solo raised children on a generalised scale. I expect there will be lots to learn. My main justification for prefering fewer larger families over many small families is related to the development of parental skills. I am of the opinion that most parents today are actually not very good parents, simply because they have NO experience with children. Parenting should not be learned in books, opinions on childrearing change every decade. I'd like to see baby permits function on a lottery system, based on certain quotas.
I have also thought about the downside of so many "only" children. But another reason for the psychological impact of only children is the emphasis on separate, nuclear families. If there were enough forms of interactions between children it wouldn't be so isolating. I have a group of friends that is living together--currently it's one couple, two "only" children, and one single parent.