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"The explosive growth of out-of-wedlock childbearing has come to a virtual halt.""

I think it must have been during the 70's that a Labour government decided that unmarried mothers would be eligible for the full range of benefits, and some more, because the interests of the child were paramount and anyway marriage was an outdated bourgeois institution.

The unsurprising result - a massive rise in the number of unmarried mothers.

But do the Tories have the courage to challenge this, can they find the words to do so, and can they devise mechanisms which ensure that innocent children do not suffer? How about turning some of the benefits into government loans to the mothers, repayable later in their working lives, rather than outright grants?

The explosive growth of out-of-wedlock childbearing has come to a virtual halt.

Let's hope that's true, but I'm not optimistic.

In the past a lot of these people didn't know any better, but these days it appears to have become fashionable to inflict this stigma on innocent young children.

Open the paper any day and you will read about some so-called celebrity "having a baby with" his latest girlfriend.

What appalling role models for our youngsters.

I was not a great fan of John Major but he did leave us a fantastic quote when he said the society should "condemn a little more and understand a little less"

We need to encourage and reward marriage. Right now the very fabric of our society is rotting away.

I think it must have been during the 70's that a Labour government decided that unmarried mothers would be eligible for the full range of benefits

Any child born under a 1970s Labour Government would today be at least 27 years old...........I think you may have to revise your dates.

The fact is clear if you look at the rise of chlamydia (which btw condoms cannot prevent)- when you see adverts on buses urging chlamydia testing and see how widespread this disease is, it is clear that something is clearly going wrong and each ectopic pregnancy has a 50% chance of being caused by teenage chlamydia.

The simple fact is that noone seems to think consequences attach to actions, and that every affliction has a cure: such naivety will make for some very sad lives.

The USA sends us cheery propaganda but fails to mention just how widespread STIs are in their population which suggests abortions are probably high too. This table shows that the UK has one of the highest abortion rates, highest teen pregancy rates, and lowest teen marriage rates


I'm just writing from a rather vague memory of conversations at around that time, when the government had decided that unmarried mothers would no longer be excluded from benefits which previously were only available to married mothers.

I recollect that I wasn't the only one who objected to the prospect of supporting increasing numbers of other men's children and their mothers when on average those men were just as able to pay as married men, but chose not to do so.

Which concern eventually led to the CSA, which seemed a good idea when its originally stated purpose was to pursue fathers who had never made any attempt to take responsibility for their children, not to take the softer option of overturning divorce settlements where the ex-husband had accepted responsibility.

I'm happy to be corrected about the dates, but of course the present age of the children born out of wedlock then is only incidental.

This country is drowning under a tidal wave of immorality.

This is not simply a matter of so-called "lifestyle choice". It's a matter of family breakdowns, mental problems, juvenile delinquency and of course Venereal Disease.

Britain desperately needs a policy on this megaproblem.

I agree with you TomTom re the clamydia problem. As a worst case scenario, how about primary infertility so widespread, among these groups, that the only chance they have at all for a child is IVF!!!! With the funding problems inplace already, by how much do you suppose the birth rate will drop? What will be the fall out? The anger - not my fault Guv. The "they" must do something. The depression, hopelessness etc.Then there is secondary infertility. If they have become pregnant once, and have opted for termination, rather than carrying the child, the liklehood of infection is increased, and they will no longer conceive.
Its a mess. If one then thinks of the hard laws of nature, (devil's advocate in play now) that entire band of humans would potentially be wiped out. Pure Darwin in fact, and within 3 generations at best.
What do you think?

Signed into law by Bill Clinton (probably his greatest act) and drafted by Newt Gingrich's Republican Congress, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (1996) has had a transformational effect on American welfare.
It actually increased overall Federal and State spending on Welfare though as did later changes by George W. Bush, surely the primary aim is to cut relative amounts spent on Welfare and the aim should be to reduce it back to the proportions it was in the early part of the 20th century - Social Security Spending and NHS Spending in 1948 were 4.8% of GDP and 4.5% of GDP respectively then compared to about 3 times that in the first case counting Tax Credits as Welfare and nearly double that in the latter case.

Surely the aim has to be to minimise spending on everybody, obviously the elderly and the severely disabled need more spending on them but otherwise people need minimal income to keep them alive, ideally this should be done as simply and universally as possible while restricting it to people resident in this country, ensuring strict identity checks (a biometric National ID Database would help towards this - someone can't prove who they are then they can get no help at all and can be detained indefinitely by police and intelligence services) and holding down or cutting actual rates of benefit and phasing out special grants for things - people should get a minimal fix rate allowance and that should be it, low interest loans for anything with variable costs (such as Housing, Medical Costs, Education etc...) and those restricted with strict eligibility criteria and other than that it is up to people to look after themselves.

"restricting it to people resident in this country" - in all cases except destitution, restricting it to British citizens, in some cases to British citizens resident in this country. Polish citizens have their own national welfare system organised by their own government in Poland, which the Poles elect and notionally at least control, and they should not participate in the British welfare system any more than they should participate in the British political system. Paying Poles working in this country welfare benefits for their children in Poland is plain barmy. Allowing Poles working in this country to vote in our local elections is also barmy, and even more so when letters about electoral registration in England are being sent out not only in English but in nine foreign languages including Polish.

in all cases except destitution
Rules have to be absolute, it is unrealistic to think that destitution can be eliminated, the aim has to be to focus on people authorised to be in this country who meet minimum residency requirements, British Citizens who live a lot outside the UK mostly won't need the money and people of other countries should be left to fall back on the Welfare systems of those other countries, I think one exception is National insurance benefits, if they've paid the NI Contributions I think they should still be entitled to any of the same payments for those things.

This might mean accepting that the state turns around to people who falls outside the eligibility criteria and tells them that they are sorry but regardless of circumstances they will get no help at all whether they are left destitute or not, there has to be a cutoff point somewhere to avoid the risk of people coming to the UK to claim benefits and of people jetsetting around the world and maybe living a luxurious lifestyle somewhere else and maybe avoiding or evading taxes in the UK and yet being able still to get benefits - benefits except for NI related benefits should only be payable for people for time that they are in the UK and there should be minimum residency times for all benefits including even for full British Citizens, someone goes on holiday outside the UK then their benefits should stop totally. The aim of benefits is to keep people alive, minimise the risk of destitution but not to make people's lives comfortable, nor to guarantee to take care of them (unless they are elderly or severely disabled) - that is up to the people themselves, someone spends all of their benefits and has no valid excuse then they should be allowed to die if that is what would happen without further help.

Slightly disingenuous to justify American welfare reform by quoting a series of figures on poverty, and then slate Brown's record without mentioning his own figures on poverty and child poverty - both significantly down I believe.

I'm no fan of Brown's, but we can at least be fair to the guy: poverty has decreased by 2.4 million people since 1997 (just checked a recent article in The Times). Lets not distort an argument by ignoring certain facts.

The difference Mr Cook is that Brown has made a modest impact on some poverty by a massive increase in entitlement spending but America has made a significant impact on poverty by limiting entitlement spending. If you do not understand that distinction I have to wonder if you are a Conservative in any sense.

"If you do not understand that distinction I have to wonder if you are a Conservative in any sense." A constructive contribution to the debate. If I posted anonymously like yourself, Mr Rain Man, I could make similarly vapid and patronising comments.

I maintain that it would be more credible to compare like with like. You cannot praise American policy by pointing out its achievements in cutting poverty and then ignore that very measure of success when attacking Brown.

Thank you for your comment Henry but there IS a world of difference between cutting rates of dependency (USA) and increasing them (UK). The very limited progress under Brown has come at a huge cost to the taxpayer and the targets-culture has seen those just below the poverty line raised to just above it. Unimpressive stuff. Frank Field has shown that Labour has not tackled the hardest cases. Labour's indifference to the family is one of the reasons it - unlike America - won't make progress against poverty.

The biggest failure of this government has been warfare (Iraq) not welfare. The blood of the men who bravely died for Blairs WMD lie , and who bravely stayed in a vortex of terror of the Wests own making is on Blairs hands.

"The very limited progress under Brown has come at a huge cost to the taxpayer and the targets-culture has seen those just below the poverty line raised to just above it."

I suspect you're absolutely right, Mr Editor. I wonder, is there a way we can measure the amount of people hovering above the poverty line? I've never thought that an arbitrary figure decided by statisticians is an adequate way to denote if someone is 'poor' or not.

I remember doing a little bit of research a while back when challenged by the fact that 'poverty tripled under Thatcher'. I found that while the number of people who were technically described as 'poor' had indeed trebled, the incomes of the poorest had in fact increased, although at a slower rate than the richer members of society (a fact easily accounted for by massive cuts in income tax among other things). Therefore paradoxically, while 'poverty tripled' under Thatcher, the poor were actually better off under Thatcher in real terms than they had been previously. Statistics can tell mistruths.

Can someone look carefully at Brown's claimed reduction in "child poverty". For a start it is only a statistical measure by comparison with other people. (ignorning that it is the parents, not the child, who get the money.) I bet Brown's calculations are based on theory rather than practice. Civil Servant accountants no doubt produced mathematical theories but that doesn't mean people get the money the accountants think is there. The CofE report said there was no change from 1997 and a Rowntree report said child poverty had increased because they took into account domestic space and with rocketing house prices more people can not afford new houses.

Surely we should not accept any Labour statistical claims without carefull scrutiny. The Telegraph article re the NHS is a good example of a look at Labour's claims.

I agree with the comments above regarding statistics being largely meaningless. The definition of "poverty" is some arbitrary percentage of the average wage, instead of being based on the minimum requirements to live a simple life.

Conservatives must have a policy on reducing welfare based on the USA's policy. In an earlier article in the Business it was stated that the Federal Government had saved one third of the welfare bill, and at the same time reduced those on welfare by over half.

Welfare reform is paramount and we as Conservatives need to grasp this nettle if any progress is to be made particularly in addressing the underclass and law & order. Many in the working clas would be right behind us,


Welfare reform is clearly the biggest failure that can be laid at the doors of NuLab, especially when in 1997 they were in a unique position to actually tackle the issue, and would have received cross-party support had they done so.

What is needed is a complete re-think of the Welfare State concept. The comparisons being made are with the US, the major difference I have preceived (as someone who has has lived in both countries) is in attitude. Here we have the 'cradle to grave' mentality, that everyone is 'owed' a living. In the US that simply does not exist, people do not expect state handouts, they appreciate that they have to work. (Having said that, I wouldn't swap our NHS for their system at all).

We need reform at the earliest stage; education. Pupils should be taught that it is not acceptable to breed and let the state support you. Allocation of welfare must by necessity be to some extent according to need, but an element of contribution should be brought in too. If housing benefit is paid to support a mortgage then the state should take a share in the property equity equivilent to amount paid to support (which could be repaid when the recipient returns to work). Of course, turkeys don't vote for christmas, so none of this will happen.

If housing benefit is paid to support a mortgage then the state should take a share in the property equity equivilent to amount paid to support (which could be repaid when the recipient returns to work).
I think you mean Mortgage Interest Payments which used to cover all the mortgage interest (although the original mortgage itself was never covered) but now only up to 50% of the interest on the mortgage is covered; I think that for rents, mortgage interest, medical costs and costs of education including for children that it should be in the form of low interest loans repayable by people when they earn over a certain amount with parents being responsible for repaying costs incurred by their children, then there could be a low level residency based universal benefit only payable to people living here permanently on an authorised basis - perhaps at 1948 National Assistance Levels allowing for inflation, there would have to be some kind of Low Interest Loans scheme to cover costs of unemployed authorised Asylum Seekers and to cover the costs of criminals for their time in jail (In Texas in an increasing number of jails people are charged for costs of keeping them in jail and expected to repay before they can leave so that those who haven't repaid are sent into debtors prisons to work off their debts, I think spending on each criminal should be limited on a fixed limit basis to ensure that they have no luxury) - criminals should be less comfortable than people not in jail are and if they are not simply by being there than effort should be taken to make sure that their stay in jail is nasty, they should also face all the costs people face outside jail and not benefit personally in any way except perhaps to realise how wicked they had been.

Attempts to eliminate poverty are pointless, government initiatives regardless of method will never eliminate poverty, all the state can do is to limit the extent of destitution while trying to avoid creating disincentives or distorting the labour market - ultimately the biggest reducer of poverty will always be economic growth.

The Old Labour sociologist Norman Dennis, in his 'Families Without Fatherhood', commented on the cultural change which elevated the freedom to have relationships as and when you chose, regardless of the damage to third parties (for example children or an abandoned spouse) to an absolute right.

Already, he wrote, the the classic phrases of rampant capitalism come to mind as the number of fatherless families mount - "Cannot a man do what he likes with his own ? As for the other party, caveat emptor - let her take the consequences of her bad bargain !"

The only difference, he continued, was that now the State, through taxation, would take the consequences of a wrong choice of partner - ' ...in sexual conduct the cast of mind is that I please myself, but if anything goes wrong, you must be responsible that my children come to no harm. In effect such a biological father is saying, "You must be a socialist so that I can be an egoist. My baby is the hostage through which I, who will not do my duty, will hold you to your duty."

You can read the whole book at

His earlier "Rising Crime and the Dismembered Family" is also worth a read.


Thank you LT. Another reminder of the intellectual importance of Civitas to the conservative movement.

I'd like to read those books.

What we need in this country is more religion. Christianity in the case of most of us and other morality-inducing religions in the case of ethnic minority Britons.

It's the only way back to a moral, decent, society.

With respect one or two posts on here here hark back to a rather old fashioned and not entirely pleasant form of social conservatism. I joined a party that believed that individuals and not the state know best, that valued freedom and believed in rolling back the frontiers of the state. That simply has to mean there is no place for sitting in moral judgement of how free individuals live their lives.

If we want to do something about state dependency then let's look at things like reforming the tax system to take the lowest paid out of the tax system altogether. At the moment we have a situation where people on low incomes are taxed heavily on what they earn, find they can't manage their finances and need to turn to the state to top up their income and so welfare dependency becomes entrenched. A truly Conservative solution would be to free those people from state dependency by taking less of their income.

Unfortunately individuals knowing best can include them knowing how to play the system to their own advantage but at the cost of others.

I have been under the new deal and the pathways to work for five years, I've done everything possible to find work, I have a fair education one hell of a work record, but sadly an accident in work, in 1990 waiting eighteen hours on a trolley for a doctor, to be sent home because the doctors were to busy to be told five days later your broke your back damaged your spine and what idiot sent you home.

The fact is I use a wheelchair I have no control over bladder or bowel, and for the life of me cannot find a job, what are the Tories going to do, well your talking about limits on benefits, so what would I now be getting, well according to Cameron nothing, according to Brown nothing.

SO you tell me what do I do I belong to about twenty agencies employment, I visit my DEA once a week to be told please please stay away.

So come on tell me whats next for the sick and the disabled church payments.

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