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.


Sunday, 24 August 2014


The family is the building block of our society and although government cannot legislate to make people love each other, it is important that it should do all it can to underpin stability in family life, particularly where there are children.

The shape of family has changed drastically since the 1950's and we could debate until the cows come home whether things are better or worse now. When I was at primary school it was almost unheard of for a child not to live with both of its natural parents, although this probably masked a lot of hidden unhappiness. I suspect that the majority of children in theprimary school classes of my grandchildren no longer live with both mum and dad. That is a staggering change in one lifetime.

But blood is still thicker than water and even in the most chaotic of situations, you still find wider family members trying to hold things together. Family delivers the kind of support and care that the state can never do, and we should promote and celebrate that fact. 

It was therefore good to see the Prime Minister make an important speech earlier this week about more support for families. It has always been difficult to spell out precise policies to support this most personal and diverse institution, but this week's speech was a step in the right direction. More help for those who need relationship advice when things get tough, marriage recognised in the tax system again, more help with child-care and so on. We also intend to focus even more robustly on the most neglectful and irresponsible parents.

Crucially, all new laws will from now on have to be tested to make sure they will have a positive impact on family life. All of this will help policy-makers have stable families at the forefront of their minds. 

When I was first elected my aspiration was to see a revival in traditional family - the classic two married parents with their natural children, staying together til death do them part. That has not happened and shows little sign of happening in the near future.  Nonetheless, it remains most people's aspiration, and when achieved a wonderful, fulfilling accomplishment. 

Twenty-first century family has taken a different path and government is right to support it, whatever its shape, as best we can. Not least because children growing up in stable, loving environments tend to do better than those from chaotic homes

posted by Gary @ 16:41