Marriage is a solid framework for life and a Conservative government would back the institution, according to Shadow Minister for the Family, Maria Miller.
However, her comments should be read in the light of David Cameron’s avowed belief that marriage can include same-sex couples.
Mrs Miller laid out plans to support marriage in the tax system as well as offering advice before and during marriage.
The Basingstoke MP was speaking at the Conservative Party conference yesterday.
She said: “The Conservative Party unashamedly supports families and unashamedly supports marriage”.
Mrs Miller also pointed to research that shows how beneficial marriage is for adults and children.
She said, “it’s empirically proven that marriage provides a stable framework for our lives”.
The Shadow Minister continued: “With the evidence right in front of us, it’s madness not to support marriage.”
She also said: “That is why we are committed to introducing the recognition of marriage in the tax and benefit system”.
Mrs Miller pointed to research showing that marriage is still a popular goal for young people.
She said marriage “is what most people aspire to and the Conservative Party has always been the party of aspiration”.
She added that the Tories wanted couples to be offered marriage advice similar to that offered by churches before they tied the knot.
All registrars should direct couples to charities and voluntary organisations who offer advice, she said.
Similar schemes have reportedly reduced divorce rates in other countries.
She also said that the Conservatives would offer more support to married couples at difficult times in the relationship.
In February David Cameron suggested that same-sex partnerships are no different from marriage.
Mr Cameron was recalling his first Conservative Conference as leader of the party in an interview with Total Politics magazine.
He said: “I stood up… and said that marriage was important, and as far as I 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”.
Although the present Government introduced same-sex civil partnerships some years ago, it has stopped short of calling these ‘marriages’.
Last year Mr Cameron said that any tax break for married couples introduced by the Conservative Party would also apply to same-sex couples in civil partnerships.