Assessment of Government Policies (Impact on Families) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:02 pm on 4 December 2015.

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Photo of Caroline Ansell Caroline Ansell Conservative, Eastbourne 2:02, 4 December 2015

I thank my hon. Friend for that fair comment. We do not want to increase regulatory compliance or render this Bill another checklist for Governments and policy makers to establish. The environmental impact assessment might have started out life in the same guise, but it is now inherent to our thinking and therefore second nature to policy makers.

I believe it is important to bring this issue to the fore, so that it informs policy makers and is deliberately made explicit in that process. History shows that Bills can have unintended consequences that impact on family stability, so this provision is important.

This is not a pass and fail test; it is more the opportunity to understand what the impact of a policy on families could be. It is a prompt to mitigate potentially negative effects and maximise positive effects, and we want it to be used in a genuine, meaningful and practical way to benefit families. It is not a blunt instrument to criticise policy.

I hope that the Government will welcome this Bill and look on it as a recognition of the work that they have instituted, and as a means to progress that and raise it to a new level. I thank all community groups and organisations that backed the Bill. The list is too stellar and too long for me to do justice to it in the time available, but I thank them for their contributions, and more broadly for everything that they do across their communities and in our country to promote family stability, with everything that means for people’s life chances. That is central to everything that family stability means.

I know that we cannot legislate strong families into being, but we can ensure that legislation in no way undermines those families, and only strengthens them. I believe that the future of our society rests on that.