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European Union (Withdrawal) Bill - Committee (3rd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:15 pm on 28th February 2018.

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Photo of The Earl of Listowel The Earl of Listowel Crossbench 6:15 pm, 28th February 2018

My Lords, in considering how to deal with this legislation in future, will the Government keep very much in mind the impact on families? The Minister may be aware that in Germany there is no Sunday opening and that after 8 pm businesses are not allowed to send emails to people who work in their offices, yet it is the most productive of nations. I would say that part of that is attributable to the care that it takes about family life and finding a balance between that and work. The risk is that, in driving towards greater immediate remuneration and productivity, we fail to take the long-term view and think through carefully what changing these regulations would do and the impact that would have on family life.

In Germany, 15% of children grow up without a father in the home; in Britain, it is about 20%; in America, it is 25%. If we keep on putting pressure on families to be more and more active in the job market, the risk is that this will contribute to family breakdown and we will be shooting ourselves in the foot in the long term. I agree with Amendment 21: we should think very carefully and go through as strict a process as possible before removing these protections. Of course, it is a complex argument, because employment can reinforce family life and protect from family breakdown, but it needs to be carefully thought through. The Germans, with their better life balance, seem to be more productive than us, so we may need to keep that lesson in mind in legislating in such areas in future.