Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 20 September 2012


I have come up with a new invention. I intend to patent it. I am hoping it might catch on.

It is a new organisation designed for raising children in a secure and stable manner. Its focus will be on ensuring that they grow up with good self-esteem, do well at school, learn right from wrong, respect their elders and others, make sound decisions about their own futures and make a useful contribution to society as responsible citizens. It is not perfect and there will be no ultimate guarantees, but the evidence suggests that it has a far greater chance of turning out secure children than kids raised in any other way.

I am going to call my new invention: marriage. What do you think?

I have been reading fresh empirical evidence from the USA that by far the most important indicator of a child avoiding poverty is if he or she is raised in a stable married family.

Consider just a fraction of recent US findings: Only about 7% of married couples with children in New York were poor in 2009, compared with over one-third of the single-parent families (36%). In New York, marriage drops the probability of a child's living in poverty by 81%.

The conclusions are clear: children raised outside marriage are much more likely to end in poverty, whether financial or in the widest sense of the word. It is not rocket science. Ask any sensible teacher and they will confirm the impact on a pupil's well-being of home life. Less stress, shared responsibilities, input from a mum and a dad, all of these things are helpful in raising children.

So is this just another attack on single mums? Of course not. Many of the single mums I meet in my surgery week in, week out are doing a fantastic job in difficult circumstances. We all know that any relationship, no matter how well it starts out, can hit troubled water. If anything it is a commentary on the inability of too many men to commit, or the ease with which, when there are children, people walk away from their responsibilities.

This is where my invention could come in handy. If it were to catch on and people were as confident as possible about their life partner before having a child, many more future children would live rewarding lives. All we then need is coherent government policies to promote it. Crazy notion, I know.

posted by Gary @ 09:19