The Shadow Home Secretary has blamed the devaluing of marriage for producing a generation of children who do not know right from wrong.
A “perverse sense of political correctness” has undermined marriage and stability, Chris Grayling said in a speech at Westminster.
He added: “Family breakdown has reached a scale where many young people grow up with no vestige of stability in their lives, and no concept of a family-focused upbringing.”
He said some children are not given proper meals and even lack a proper home.
“They have no-one to tell them right from wrong”, he said.
“So it’s hardly surprising that all too often they grow up as the antithesis of model citizens”.
Mr Grayling’s comments came as part of a week of Conservative attacks on what they term ‘broken Britain’.
In June it was reported that the BBC had moved a documentary on family breakdown to a later time slot because the content was considered to be ‘too dark’ for prime time viewing.
Family court judge Mr Justice Coleridge, who contributed to the programme, said at the time: “Yes, what goes on within broken families is dark – very dark. But we won’t throw any light on it if we refuse to acknowledge it and open it up to debate”.
Earlier he had warned that children were being damaged by the disintegration of families.
He suggested: “The re-emergence of a public attitude which is anti-relationship destruction, a new stigma perhaps, could do a lot to stem the flood”.
Family breakdown and moral decline were two of seven social evils identified earlier this year in a survey of 3,500 Britons by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
In March the Most Revd Vincent Nichols, now Archbishop of Westminster, urged parents to be an example to their children of “faithful unswerving love”.
Speaking a week after the Government launched a booklet telling parents not to give moral guidance when discussing sex with their children, the Roman Catholic Archbishop said young people needed “clear moral principles” to guide them when forming relationships.