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A Manifesto to Strengthen Families - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:17 pm on 2nd November 2017.

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Photo of Lord Farmer Lord Farmer Conservative 6:17 pm, 2nd November 2017

My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend the Minister on his maiden speech and on giving us such an encouraging government response to the debate. It is clear that he will make a huge contribution to government in his role at the Dispatch Box.

The debate has been excellent, with a lot of constructive contributions. I thank all noble Lords who have contributed. I make the point that I made at the beginning: the family manifesto that has been produced is an ongoing work. It is progressive and rolling, and I am sure that your Lordships’ involvement today will be both a great help in continuing the thinking behind the manifesto and a challenge to the Government as they read Hansard for what was said today. A lot was added to the debate; I do not have the time to go over individual contributions, but I want to mention the word “counterculture”; I think the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Oxford used it. We have been living in an age that is focused on the individual. To repeat what I said at the beginning, it will take a couple of Governments at least to turn around this culture on the individual and focus it more on the family unit as the basic social unit.

I thank all noble Lords. There have been a lot of additions. We have had emphasis on military families. We have a new Secretary of State for Defence today. We will be knocking on his door and talking to him about how to look after the peculiar pressures military families are under.

I come back to the Minister and thank him for his news about what is going on in DWP on parental conflicts and for the fact that a policy will be developed reducing that. I am also very encouraged by Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday, when she said she was all for family hubs. If that is coming from the top we might get somewhere. Talking about family hubs, I mention the criticism of Sure Start children centres from the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath. I tried to touch on that; the Minister also did. Apart from the fact that money is scarce, there is the whole idea of joining in with the community, as we heard from the noble Lord, Lord Bird, and using voluntary organisations, but also of developing Sure Start children centres into a family hub for children aged zero to 19, in particular for the category of children in need. Families can go there to find out where to go for the problems they may have.

I do not have much time. I again thank all noble Lords for an excellent, constructive debate. It had a lot of ideas in it. I am quite encouraged by the current mood in government to recognise that families are very important to strengthen. We cannot go on having the record we have in OECD countries and, as we heard earlier, our record in Europe. It is appalling. We need to refocus our minds and hearts on strengthening family relationships. It will be to the benefit of the whole of society. I beg to move.

Motion agreed.