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A Manifesto to Strengthen Families - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:26 pm on 2nd November 2017.

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Photo of Lord Popat Lord Popat Conservative 5:26 pm, 2nd November 2017

My Lords, I, too, thank my noble friend Lord Farmer for bringing today’s important debate and spearheading this manifesto on families. We have already touched on a number of issues this manifesto recommends should be addressed, from promoting the role of fathers within families to tackling the mental health crisis among young people from broken homes to developing family hubs. The Government play an important role in supporting families, which is why this manifesto is key to achieving that objective.

Stronger families are in everyone’s interest. Families are much more than just a unit: strong families are a critical component for the Government to achieve their objectives to increase social mobility and deliver social justice. As my noble friend Lord Farmer says, strong families are also vital for economic growth. They are wealth creators, as opposed to broken families which, aside from causing emotional turmoil, increase dependency on the state. The noble Lord, Lord Parekh, mentioned the cost of that to be approximately £48 billion.

I will take a brief moment to comment on the British Indian community, which I am a proud member of. As in many communities, the role of families is central to the British Indian community. I believe the notion by which the British Indian community promotes strong families is the secret of our community’s success. Last month, the Government released an audit on racial equality which proved this point. The report showed that British Indians had among the highest rates of hourly pay, and high levels of employment and education. They are the most likely to own their own home and among the least likely to live in social housing. All these elements link to the fact the British Indian community has the highest marriage rate and the lowest rate of divorce and family breakdown. It proves how strong, united families can create wealth and opportunities not just for themselves but also for Britain. They carry the hallmark values of hard work, education, enterprise and family—that word family is crucial.

However, there is still more to do. Regretfully, the audit also revealed deeply ingrained disparities across the country. It was disheartening to hear that the UK also has one of the highest levels of family breakdown in the world. It is for this reason that I welcome this manifesto to strengthen families and that I believe government intervention to support families is absolutely vital. Worse, family breakdowns disproportionally fall on poorer children in our society. Surely our Government cannot sit back and watch that happen. We cannot lead on social reform if we struggle to get the basics right.

I will conclude with a quote from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who said:

“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them”.

The manifesto presents viable options for how the Government can support families, not by dictating to them but by empowering them. I hope that it reflects the positive difference that the Government can make to thousands of families across Britain in building a country that truly works for all.