The Prime Minister has affirmed his support for families, declaring in a speech today that they are “immeasurably important” to ensuring a strong society.
David Cameron warned: “When parents have bad relationships, their child is more likely to live in poverty, fail at school, end up in prison, be unemployed later in life”, in an address to a relationship counselling charity.
The Prime Minister gave his personal support for marriage, but said families should not be defined by their ‘shape’, but by the “love and support” they give.
Traditionalists are cautious about Mr Cameron’s promotion of marriage because he wants to extend the same benefits to same-sex civil partnerships.
The Prime Minister told the audience at Relate that he stands by the pledge in the coalition agreement to recognise marriage in the tax system.
But he said “my view remains that we should recognise and value the commitment that people make to one another. And by the way, that’s whether it’s between a man and a woman, a man and a man or a woman and another woman.”
Mr Cameron’s speech, published by Downing Street, contains no in-depth policy proposals but pledged to give families “thoughtful, sensible, practical and modern support”.
Mr Cameron proclaimed an end to the “defeatism” which says Government cannot help promote strong families.
And he announced a 50 per cent increase in public funding for groups who support families. Such charities currently receive £5 million per year from the taxpayer but this will increase to £7.5 million.
Mr Cameron asserted: “As I’ve always said, families are immeasurably important. And when I talk about families, I don’t just mean the married with two children model.
“Yes, I am pro-commitment, back marriage and think it’s a wonderful institution. But to me, a strong family is defined not by its shape, but by the love and support that’s in it – and we need to be there for all of them.”
He added: “It’s not just that family is so important to our personal life – which most of us feel in our gut – it’s that they are so important to our national life too.”
“Family is where people learn to be good citizens, to take responsibility, to live in harmony with others. Families are the building blocks of a strong, cohesive society”, Mr Cameron continued.
Last December Mr Cameron attacked Labour’s “pathological” refusal to endorse marriage as the key to tackling family breakdown.
Children’s Secretary Ed Balls said at the time that children’s welfare is not necessarily best protected through marriage, but instead through “stable and lasting relationships between parents”.
But Mr Cameron argued that “evidence shows marriage is a good institution which helps people stay together, and commit to each other. A society that values marriage is a good and strong society.”
In January he told think-tank Demos: “We will recognise marriage, whether between a man and a woman, a woman and a woman or a man and a man, in the tax system — and yes, that is a commitment”.
During his first party conference as leader Mr Cameron explained his view of marriage, saying that as far as he “was concerned it didn’t matter whether it was between a man and a woman, a man and a man or a woman and a woman”.