Politicians are too frightened to admit family breakdown is causing major damage, a senior family lawyer has said.
Baroness Deech said marriage issues are as important to the future of the nation as climate change and poverty.
She made the comments at a meeting of the Marriage Foundation, a think-tank that aims to reverse the trend of marital breakdown.
Lady Deech said: “We live in a world where we are encouraged to take care of our own and our children’s health: we are constantly admonished to take exercise, eat healthily, wear a cycle helmet, study the side of the package, stop smoking, recycle, combat global warming, brush our teeth, control our drinking habits and have health checks.”
But she added that when it comes to the absence of fathers in families, there is “a conspiracy of silence”.
She said: “Politicians fear to address it, for they themselves or their constituents may be implicated.”
Lady Deech is Chair of the Bar Standards Board, which regulates barristers in England and Wales, and is an eminent speaker on family law.
At the meeting, she highlighted the importance of marriage being more than just a piece of paper: “The wedding ceremony highlights the fact that marriage is the strongest bond ever invented to link together two people and two families, for now and posterity – intimately, legally, politically, religiously, civilly and publicly.”
A recent study showed that children whose parents divorce after they turn seven are more likely to misbehave and perform badly at school.
And the shadow public health minister Diane Abbott has said that family breakdown causes society’s biggest health issues.