Work and Families Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 25th April 2006.

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Photo of Lord Northbourne Lord Northbourne Crossbench 6:00 pm, 25th April 2006

My Lords, I, too, support the noble Baroness's amendment. We are, after all, moving into a business society in which we have a global economy and where businesses are expected to run for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and for 364 days a year in some cases. There are enormous pressures on families in this context. But we have fought these issues in this House looking in the other direction, and this is an opportunity to look in the direction of children and families and to do something positive for them. Only 27.5 per cent of a child's waking hours are spent in school, if you include holidays and weekends. That leaves some 70 per cent of that child's time which is at least nominally the responsibility of parents. How in the world can they enable their child to manage that time if both of them are working to some sort of pattern that makes them unavailable at the time?

Yesterday evening, there was a very good programme on BBC2 about children in a Welsh valley who came out of school, got on the train and mucked about as teenagers will, went home, got all dressed up, got on the train, came back and then painted the town red. Of course, they had nothing else to do. Presumably in many cases their parents were not at home. I support the amendment.