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Seems like a no-brainer to me.

No doubt the hard right are going to start a salivation over this, but the fact is it's 2007.

Editor, you're article isn't completely clear. Are you saying Tim Yeo etc would rebel against the policy if it applied to civil partnerships, or because of the cost of the tax breaks idea in general?

I think the whole tax break for being married is a stupid idea. Level the playing field for tax credits and benefits certainly. But a £20 a week thank-you for being married strikes me as a bit strange.

I agree completely that any and all tax breaks for married couples MUST also mean civil partnership couples. They usually pay more in tax than hetrosexual couples with two usually in employment. Their marriage is just the same as any other marriage and should not be deferentiated against. This would be a retrograde step in any new legislation.

The point of this talked about Tax Break is surely to help out married parents where one parent stays at home to look after the kids, and so their tax allowance is transferred. I don't really see the point of it in any other circumstance than that.

I agree with Andrew. The tax break should be to help married parents with children, not just married parents.

It's unclear what the rationale is intended to be for providing tax breaks for homosexual couples (I mean unclear literally - that's not some rhetorical way of saying that it's obviously a bad idea).

The 1997 Conservative proposal for a transferable tax allowance was to go to anyone with a caring role - people supporting children, or the elderly, and so on. The rationale for this is pretty straightforward.

The IDS proposal appears to have two elements - that divorce leads to poverty for the parties involved, and that children are better raised by two parents. Cameron focused on the latter rationale in his discussions, and thereby seemed to undermine a case for providing the relief to homosexual couples. If the former is to be emphasized, so that the idea of the tax relief is to combat household fission in general (and not merely amongst parents), then, ok, but why then would it not apply to everyone cohabiting? Is the idea to encourage promise-making and thereby encourage staying together. I'm becoming a little hazy where Cameron is going with this, and I think he needs to do some hard thinking pdq, otherwise the whole concept is likely to unravel.

I would recommend that we go for the 1997 scheme - a transferable tax allowance for any officially-sanctioned couple where one of them had a caring role. We might also consider having some additional arrangement for stay-at-home partners, which we would have to argue for separately.

I have just read through the 'May survey stats' comments which I missed due to holidays etc. The final comment was from GraemeArcher June 09 at 16.30 in which he asks for views of right wing conservatives - christian- who have attended a civil partnership. In view of the comments above I would like to state in capital letters:- I am (I thought) a traditional tory; 62 years old/young; married/widowed/partnership female; church goer; live in the country; have never been anything all my life but tory; and this year was invited to a civil partnership wedding. It was a very moving experience!!
So for all of you out there who think only married hetrosexual couples are due any benefits (tax breaks) or any other monetry gain I say THINK AGAIN. Every person on this planet needs love to just survive, no love then a meaningless existance in my opinion. All Hail to Civil Partnerships they are marriage just the same but with a different name.

Having read these comments from Mr Cameron i was initially very pleased that he wanted to include same sex civil partnerships in this married couples tax break, as a gay tory myself it struck a note. Having read the comments here i realise that i had got carried away with the spin and i agree with remarks here that it is nothing to do with sexuality. Either it is a tax break for all Couples or for couples who have children, a tax break just for married couples doesn't seem to make sense. It does need to be made absolutely clear who this tax break is for and exactly why.

"Their marriage is just the same as any other marriage and should not be deferentiated against."

This is the crux of the argument , It IS NOT the same - it could not be more different.
Whatever justifications are produced for what is an aberration from the natural order of relationships - it is self-evidently, NOT THE SAME.

While I can understand why gay couples want to make a public commitment to each other and support them in that the issue of tax breaks is about supporting the best arrangement for bringing up children which is heterosexual marriage. That is not old fashioned bigotry it is statistical fact.

Cameron handled the interview well and exposed Snow as a shaggy dog....I burst out laughing when I heard Bercow's name mentioned....a man in a permanent state of hesitant defection to Labour.

As for Tim Yeo - the less he says about single parents the better.

All in all Cameron seemed to have a policy at last...one he could justifiably stand on and expand to embrace many of the disasters of Labour years.....he might remind Harriet Harman who it was that had to cut single-parent benefits to meet Treasury targets...so obviously she felt there was inequitable treatment

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/36045.stm

Of the 35 per cent of fathers who never lived with the mother, one-third pay nothing towards the child's upkeep, compared with 10 per cent of divorced fathers. It is claimed that regular payment of maintenance encourages single parents to get jobs. Compared with France (82 per cent) and the USA (60 per cent), the UK has one of the lowest employment rates for single parents: 40 per cent of mothers (compared with 65 per cent of married mothers). So 1.1 million (over 70 per cent) with 1.9 million children rely on Income Support, while 330,000 (with 540,000 children) claim Family Credit; most prefer the latter, even though they may still experience hardship.

Over 70 per cent of divorces are initiated by women, and single parent families may be regarded as one of the results of women's lib. In 1975, one-third of all divorces cited adultery; by 1994, it was down to a quarter, nearly twice as many men (37 per cent) as women (22 per cent). On average, one in ten husbands have had an affair in the past five years and one in 20 wives; one in eight upper-class men compared with one in 40 manual workers, possibly through having more opportunities. Mothers are less likely to have affairs; having children does not seem to act as a deterrent on men. But over three- quarters of married men (80 per cent) and women (86 per cent) more or less agree that sex outside marriage is mostly wrong.


Book

So Yeo and Berk-ow are to lead some opposition.

Whatever.

Would be interested to see how the modernising and compassionate Bercow will argue against these ideas.

I have just realised I should have said: 'The tax break should be to help married parents with children, not just married couples.'

If tax breaks are to be introduced for married couples then I see no good reason to suggest that same sex civil partnerships should be excluded from this and as such applaud DC's announcement. The fact is that such partnerships are still a union between two people, a relationship that the tax break policy is designed to encourage, and given this they should be included in it. An "abberation from the natural order of relationships" should not come into the argument.
I am in agreement with Andrew Woodman; it would be more preferable to see a tax break that benefits parents with children where one parents remains at home given the increased social stability that such a policy would hopefully encourage.
Finally, is the article saying that Tim Yeo and John Bercow are opposed to the tax breaks policy in general or only if it includes same sex civil partnerships?


The thing is, there is something of a moral dimension in this and I am amazed no-one has picked up on it.

Since 1967 in England and Wales, the state has effectively supported gay sex but held up a red flag to long term committed and loving gay relationships. Being gay is not just about sex and it is about time the state recognises and supports this. For too long it has pigeon holed gay people and made what should be a morally acceptable situation difficult and inconvenient. It is about time that the state showed its support for all committed and loving relationships.

Ah well that's Melanie Phillips, Peter Hitchins, Simon Heffer, frothing at the mouth I can hear!

So a widowed mum, working to support 3 kids, will pay more tax than a childless gay couple where 2 works with a toyboy at home? Or a smug married like IDS with Betsy at home?

Who needs help more?

Are we really saying that if peter mandelson had a civil partnership with ronaldo, and only 1 worked, he should pay less tax than a widowed mum in the same job raising 3 kids and paying for childcare?

I am not sure which i find sadder - the self-interest of the middle class 2.2 kids brigade who not only want there breakfast made by their stay at home wife, but want a tax break on top of free child care - or the fact the gay/lesian lobby has such a pc grip on the tory party that the party seems to put pc crap ahead of helping widowed and abandoned mums.

reality check - I'm not sure what your point is.

Surely the philosophical point is that you either believe that all couples, or that no couples, should receive tax advantages from the State. Or, that all families or that no families should receive tax advantages from the State.

I personally favour no State intervention in the former, and State intervention in the latter - it's really nothing to do with gay lobbies or middle class lobbies: no lobbies have invented this current system - it's just where we've ended up. So let's sort it out, and stop blaming fictitious lobbies for your own prejudices.

If same sex civil partners (they are not married - the law does not call it a marriage as a marriage can only be between a man and a woman and its purpose - in terms of anthropology, sociology and religion is, crudely, to breed) legally adopt children, then they should have the transferable allowance. But giving it to civil partners where one does not work (or to transfer income from higher rate to basic rate tax if one earns more than the other) merely demonstrates the absurdity of allowing this concession to childless married couples.

The simple compromise should be that you can transfer tax allowances between spouses or civil partners if the marriage/partnership has the care of (a) a child or children under 18; (b) a disabled person (strictly defined as one needing a great deal of care) living with them or (c) an elderly person over the age of, say, 75 living with them.

Anything other than that opens a Pandora's box and will unite those who dislike the promotion of marriage for its own sake (rather than for the sake of children) and those who might think that childless gays have enough natural financial advantages as it is. I may be unusual in being in both categories but there are a great number in one or the other.

I still need to read the full report, but where is the evidence that it is of any advantage to the State or society generally for a childless couple to be married?

Wasn;t the whole report based on evidence on 'traditional' married parents? To tag on civil partnerships like this is a bit risky isn't it? There's a lot of evidence to show that children naturally need a male and female parent in their lives, isn't that being explored or is it taboo?

I'd rather a kid was brought up by a stable gay couple than go to a care home etc but why is there no debate on this?

A sound extension of the original proposals. I believe that it is right to encourage gay couples to undertake a commitment to stay together and provide for each other and the stability that brings, even though raising children may not be an option for them.

To be blunt, the proposal is simply to encourage gay people to settle down with other gay people with whom they are in love. The genuine love and devotion aspect of a long term gay relationship and the economic hardships that often brought when one partner died or fell ill was one of the reasons for bringing in civil partnerships. That bill was discrete, sensible and dignified and this proposal will be too.

"the party seems to put pc crap ahead of helping widowed and abandoned mums"

The phrase 'hysterical hyperbole' doesn't even begin......

Peter - what plant do you inhabit?

Do you really think a widowed mum, working to raise 3 kids and paying childcare costs should pay more tax than a childless gay couple where 1 works in the same job? Or a heterosexual couple where 1 works and the other provides childcare? Do you hate widows and abandoned mums? This is section 28 for single mums.

If you think there is no gay lobby you are also smoking Cameron blend as the whole proposal is justified on raising families - so why extend it to childless (as most but not all are) gay couples - because we are too beholden to pc crap to think it through.

Just accept the EU decides what can and can't be done in this area.

"Surely the philosophical point is that you either believe that all couples, or that no couples, should receive tax advantages from the State. Or, that all families or that no families should receive tax advantages from the State."

I want to help families with kids - be the parent(s) single, married, or in a civil partnership.

I don't want to give a tax break just for being married and lucky enough not to be idowed or abandoned.

As a gay man in a stable long-term relationship I am quite frankly baffled by this policy.

I simply do not see why I should receive a tax break (the amount involved is irrelevant) based on my lifestyle choice. I do not see why any other person (whether single, divorced or simply co-habiting) should subsidise the fact I live with my partner and have undertaken a civil partnership arrangement.

My partner and I are relatively well off. Between us we earn over 80k pa. Due to the fact we co-habit we are able to sub-let one of our properties which adds to our cash-flow and capital. The thought of other people (many less financially secure than us) having to subsidise our already comfortable and somewhat decadent lifestyle, I found quite wrong.

I understand this policy will cost upwards of £6 billion. I would personally rather see this money used to increase thresholds. Such a policy would take hundreds of thousands of low earners out of tax completely and would do far more to alleviate poverty.

"the party seems to put pc crap ahead of helping widowed and abandoned mums"

The phrase 'hysterical hyperbole' doesn't even begin......"

..and your point is?

We are saying we will extend a tax break justified for raising kids to childless gay couples but not widowed mums?

Please explain where the hysteria is?

Reality check has made a good argument across a couple of threads, but how do we discourage single mums who choose to have a baby as a career choice while not disadvantaging those like Reality's sister or the widowed mum above?

But ak23566,

The primary issue of concern in your instance is not your relationship, but the fact that you earn a solid and high wage and so in your mind shouldn't benefit which has merit. However many gay couples are not well off, many are pensioner couples or one partner does not work.

ak23566 - thank you! A voice of reason.

My wife and I are very well off, with 1 kid. His godfather, who happens to be gay, hasn't met the right person, yet, but I hope e will.

My sister has 3 kids, and was abandoned by her husband.

I know who deserves any tax breaks going!

Will - thank you. I normally make trite comments, but when you see an injustice first hand, as i do with my sister, i try to argue my point.

Let's shape this proposal to help raise kids in stable environments and not either benefit the undeserving (as my wife and i would be) or the unlucky!

Edison Smith (20:14): "Editor, you're article isn't completely clear. Are you saying Tim Yeo etc would rebel against the policy if it applied to civil partnerships, or because of the cost of the tax breaks idea in general?"

I'm sorry Edison my words weren't that clear. Bercow and Yeo are opposed to the general idea of support for marriage rather than the proposed inclusion of gay couples in the plan.

You are missing the basic point, it's about rewarding socially responsible behaviour. People in committed relationships - and real commitment means signing the contract - deliver more social benefit. They cost society less. They are not undeserving; for example they will look after each other in sickness though they will on the whole be healthier. Overall statistics show people in marriage do better than singles. Lets reward that.

I've been scanning in old photos and last weekend scanned a few of family/friends weddings in the early 50's. Of all those couples only one divorced. Some had hard times; some overcame alcoholism and in one case imprisonment as a result of gambling and drink; some dealt with long and painful illnesses; some with disabled or errant kids. The one divorce followed the harrowing death of a child which the parents couldn't deal with together. It wasn't tax breaks that made their marriages strong but societies view of marriage as a lifelong task which was valued - treating marriage as something of no value destroys that social good.

Much of our social spending is to an extent about rewarding (or not punishing) bad behaviour. So the black kid in Peckham who doesn't do drugs or hang around in gangs gets less attention and support than his peers who do. Governments think up wheezes like free gym memberships for those who "reform".

Reality check examples a women with 3 children deserted by her husband. First point: where does it say she will lose money because of this proposal - it's about supporting marriage not social policy towards children of broken homes. Second point: where is the husband, why isn't he paying maintenance?

"Reality check examples a women with 3 children deserted by her husband. First point: where does it say she will lose money because of this proposal"

It doesn't. The tooth fairy wil pick up the £6 billion bill. No really.

I despair....

Can we have a new rule for this thread that posters have to engage their brain before posting.

"You are missing the basic point, it's about rewarding socially responsible behaviour."

like not having your husband die/leave you.

pratt!

"People in committed relationships - and real commitment means signing the contract - deliver more social benefit."

That's true Ted but we are talking about paying £1000 a year to bribe people to get married. These are people who didn't have the commitment to get married before but we think if we give the £1000 a year they will have the same stable relationship as those who marry for love not money.

Marriage rates would go up but so would divorce rates. Children would be no better off.

As a married father of two - I don't need a tax break. I would sooner the money is spent elsewhere.

A lot of commentators are assuming that civil partnerships will never be part of a family unit with children. This is not the case - many people come out later in life when they have had children, and it's less unusual that you would think for children to grow up with a mum and a step-mum. So if we were restricting tax breaks to couples with children (rightly so in my opinion; my boyfriend and I have no claim on them in my opinion) that would include same-sex couples with children.

So if we were restricting tax breaks to couples with children (rightly so in my opinion; my boyfriend and I have no claim on them in my opinion) that would include same-sex couples with children.


I completley agree. and let's ensure the parent left. literally, holding the baby if their spouse dies or abandoms them isn't also penalised in the tax system.

What is the point of this married couples tax allowance then? I thought it was to encourage marriage...I thought it was part of a culture thing. If it's just a bit of bribery then I'm against it.

I'm not convinced that Iraq is a foreign policy disaster either. I think it was a bad thing, but not a disaster, and I see no reason the Tory leader should play up to the anti-Americans.

I am not impressed.

So marriage is not that special after all then Dave? For nearly 24 hours you had me thinking you'd grown a pair. Obviously not.

If it happens it will have taken us a mere forty years to move from homosexuality being illegal to homosexuality being subsidised by the state.

Isn't it a good job that we're much wiser and morally superior to the countless generations who preceded us?

Seriously, this is just the beginning of the dilution of the policy announced yesterday.

Jules.

It seems quite clear that any tax break should stem from the care of children under 16, not from the state of matrimony or civil partnership.

We have to ask, however whether an allowance of £20 pw is going to induce an unmarried couple with a child into a formal marriage. At the lower end of the income scale the answer is probably yes. Higher up probably not.

If there is evidence that formalised marriges encourage couples to stay together for the good of their children then the tax relief might be worthwhile and save the social costs of broken homes. But that's a big if, given our very high divorce rates.

Martin speaks sense, altough 21 and in education seems a better upper limit.

rgds from a fellow K&C

It seems to me that there could be a case for offering tax breaks to any sort of couple officially sanctioned (married or civil partnershipped) living together, in a spirit of promoting community and as a way of encouraging the making of promises. Contrary to a number of commenters here, and to much prevailing wisdom, I do believe that there is likely to be a difference in our behaviour towards each other if we have made explicit promises. (I have some faith in human nature, perhaps.) It could be useful to subsidize doing that.

But, although I can see an argument for doing that, I am far from clear that this is really the argument that Cameron wants to run. I would have thought it would be much more straightforward to argue initially for a transferable allowance for stay-at-home carers, and fly some kites on the wider promise-promoting aspect.

At the moment the policy has an unpleasant whiff of incoherence, as if we had thought - Hey! A tax break for marriage sounds like a way to be communitarian and traditionalist at the same time...[Time passes]...Oh, *bother*! What about the whole being-nice-to-gays thing? Err...well...let's give them the tax break as well!

I don't think that this seems a very robustly analyzed position to be in. (Still, on the other hand, perhaps tomorrow he'll decide that there's a tax break for single people as well! In which case what we're arguing for has a somewhat more old-fashioned name: a "tax cut". Just a thought...)

Currently people who chose to marry are more stable parents - no surprise here - people who have a strong commitment to each other make better parents.

IDS proposal - if we give £1000 a year to those who didn't have this commitment to each other it would be the same . £1000 a year = love.

IDS has pinpointed the right issues, but his solutions are sadly very lame.


"I would have thought it would be much more straightforward to argue initially for a transferable allowance for stay-at-home carers"

it's bizarre to think that a couple with a stay at home tax free carer entitles the working spouse to a lower tax rate than a single, not because they didn't make a comittment, but perhaps because their partner died, mother.

how is this fair?

ids wants betsy to stay at home and thinks that on this basis he should pay less tax than a single parent.

how modern.

I’m pleased to see both the SJPG report and the initial responses to it from the Party leadership stimulating debate. That’s exactly what the process was intended to do, and it will help ensure robust policy that does not threaten to disintegrate under opposition fire as it has done in some campaigns in the past.

I think the policy adopted to address the suggestion that the taxation system should recognise marriage should represent the argument (that Letwin expressed on News24 HardTalk this evening) that it aims to eliminate the “couples penalty”. We need a levelling of the playing field to remove disincentives more than we need a tilting of it.

If it happens it will have taken us a mere forty years to move from homosexuality being illegal to homosexuality being subsidised by the state.

Only 40 years, Jules? Out of interest, just how long would you like it to take to develop some kind of parity?

It is interesting how quickly an argument on improving social cohesion and well-being seems to have become an argument on homosexuality. Still, at least nobody has said it’s the EU’s fault yet, so I guess that’s progress…

DC’s signal is a welcome one. I think a lot of this debate is actually about signalling, although I’m very aware that to the families at the bottom end of the income scale who are struggling to make ends meet on a daily basis, any financial boost is very welcome. If we are genuinely saying that we are stronger together than apart, that we improve society when we make a commitment to take responsibility for each other and take care of each other, then I am amazed that any Conservative can take issue with this point on that level.

Looking at the fiscal points, it is clear that we need to prioritise support given from taxpayer’s money. We’re in politics to speak up for those with no voice, and to stand up for those who need it most. That means prioritising in the way we implement policy the needs of some of the most vulnerable children in society above all else when we look at how to target our final response to this report. Families come in all shapes and sizes, often today not of their own initial choice. We should extend to them all the opportunity to make their best choices in life, but they should be supported rather than judged.

I agree with Richard Carey, which has never happened before, up to his last para where he brings out the waffle iron. Politics may be about speaking up "for those with no voice" Richard, but it is certainly about making judgments.

Well done DC for trying to do the right thing about marriage. Of course he had to count gays in. It doesn't matter. Marriage/civil partnership is the conservative goal.

Tax breaks for straight couples originated in their propensity to produce children. Why should anyone feel entitled to such breaks simply because they are in any partnership, heterosexual or homosexual?

In my opinion, households with children - whoever the carers are - are the ones that require tax breaks, and those should not begin until the child is born.

Then, people who are single, and will have to provide for themselves without the many financial benefits of being in a partnership should be entitled to help.

Why aren't any of the parties interested in those of us who are single, childless and on low to medium incomes. We get no breaks, are entitled to no help if disaster strikes and yet have to subsidise everyone else's life decisions, however foolish.

Surely the whole point is that currently when couples marry, they potentially end up worse off.

If the system is one of transferable allowances, then only those where one partner doesn't work, will see any benefit. That is not going to be an issue for double income couples, which I'm sure most civil partnerships are.

On a philisophical point, any system that is targeted towards all carers, will miss the entire point. That would just continue the bad incentives of the current system.

If Cam does go with this tax break, it should apply to gays too - would be mad not to.

BUT - this tax break costs £6bn p.a. Thats a LOT of money.

According to JRF, Save the Children and many others, you could END child poverty for £4bn - i thought that was our priority?

But GB that's where the Left is wrong. They think you can solve child poverty and other forms of money by spending, spending, spending. What children most need are loving and committed parents. A lot of the ways in which the welfare state is configured undermines the two parent family.

I agree. The welfare program should be tested carefully to make sure that it encourages stable family units to form and stay together. Currently it does the exact opposite, and that is a disasterous situation for many parents and children. Has there been mention of some form of mortgage relief on family homes with married parents and kids? But appart from giving people money, what about other pro-familiy policies wrt housing, schools, voluntary organisations like the scouts and guides, or even national parks (more national part land with family holiday accommodation run by the NH, in Canada that idea works great?

I think it would be a good idea Tim to kick off a debate on this - 100 pro-family policies?

Do you want to get us going Oberon with a Platform piece?

You're all saying we must extend it to same-sex couples without not responding to my points... why? Because the gay rights lobby is too powerful for us not to obey their every demand?

RC The bereaved partner allowance ranges from £26.19 per week to £87.30 per week.

My understanding of this allowance is that it was ONLY for a none working parent/carer in a marriage/civil partnership who could transfer their tax allowance to their working partner. They could then use this allowance to pay into a small pension for the none working partner, take a family holiday, treat the children to activities. It's not in place of other benefits and allowances.

I agree with you Pisaboy. Children are better off with male and female role models.

Thank you serf! The whole point is that married couples with kids are disadvantaged in the current arrangements. Even though we are not a high earning household I am not fussed about getting a tax break because we're married, in fact I would rather see taxes come down generally and family credit abolished.

What gets my goat is the way the current system positively destabilises families on low incomes. I know of 2 families in this area where married couples chose to live apart for most of the week to enable the mother to claim more benefit. Not surprisingly this was a prelude to the disintegration of the union, which caused upset and trauma to the children and even more expense to the tax payer.

PS. It is a joy to find myself among such thoughful and right-thinking people. CH is my happiest discovery on the net!! Thank you all!!

Editor: Okay leave it with me. I will need a couple of weeks to research, but it will be a welcome break from Brown bashing! In the meantime, if you know anyone who is involved with this please let me know and I'll contact them.

Mr Cameron's comments simply make you realise what a stranglehold the homosexual lobby has on the Conservative party and what a trendy metropolitan he is.
Hetrosexual marriage should be encouraged. It is the basis of a strong society - something we no longer are. Other "marital" arrangements are a matter of personal choice and responsibility: society need not show antipathy nor offer encouragement.

Thinking about this debate while eating my brekkie I recalled Mrs T's comment about there being no such thing as society, 'only families'. The 'only families' bit is the crucial thing where children are concerned. Strong families are the best way to nurutre and socialise children and to care for the sick and elderly. If we encourage strong families the state can step away from the role it has had to take on in their absence. We can then all pay less tax and suffer less state interference.

Isn't that what we are aiming for or am I being thick?

"Thank you serf! The whole point is that married couples with kids are disadvantaged in the current arrangements"

There is an important distinction many posters are missing. The benefits system does negatively impact married vs co-habitting couple and needs to be changed.

This proposal is different in that it is a TAX break, unrelated to income. Thus a married couple where 1 partner works on 60k, and the other stays at home to look after kids will pay less tax than a widow or abandoned mum doing the same job and paying for childcare costs to raise the kids.

It is wrong, ill thought through, and a cause 28 for widows and abandonemt mums.

Call it what it is - a tax break for daily mail 2.2 kids smug marrieds with a stay at home mum, extended to childless gay couples because they lobby well, but don't pretend this is anything to do with really helping kids.

Editor - can you add a question on your survey on whetehr the same tax break should be extended to widows with kids and working single partents, abandonded buy their spouse, and not entitled to benefits.

Also please ask whetehr only familes with kids shouls qualify.

As structures your survey is so biassed in favour of an uncritical endorsement of IDS it has no validity.

I think it's good to send a message in support of marriage, but I'm not sure about tax breaks...I'd rather tax breaks for any couple raising children - straight or gay regardless. That is, afterall, why we support marriage: because a stable couple is the best environment for a child to be brought up?

Personally, I'm in favour of tax breaks - enormous ones - for pretty much anything that isn't actually illegal.

But then, I am not particularly keen on tax per se.

Reality check, perhaps I should have made my position clearer.
My point was that if we are to have a policy of tax breaks for married couples then same sex partnerships should most definitely be included.
However, I do accept your point, however aggressively made, that there would be a huge injustice suffered by abandoned or widowed mothers who would have to subsidise a tax break for couples simply because they are married.
My own feeling is that if we are to have a tax break policy then we would be best served by offering it to married couples with children where one stays at home to look after the kids as this is an environment that would hopefully encourage more social stability. Personally I can't see how married couples without children benefit society anymore than non-married couples without children and thus I'm not convinced that they necessarily deserve a tax break.

"My own feeling is that if we are to have a tax break policy then we would be best served by offering it to married couples with children where one stays at home to look after the kids as this is an environment that would hopefully encourage more social stability."

But then why only offer the tax break to married couples? If it's about encouraging one parent to stay at home then why does it matter if they're married or not? And if it really is about helping a person stay at home, then why is there all the moral outrage at single mothers who stay at home and don't work?

Also, why should the tax break be the same across the board? If the breadwinner of the household is bringing in 80k does that couple really need a tax break?

And what happens when the marriage breaks down/somebody dies - the person who was staying at home will be penalized, as the tax breaks will be lost, just when they need help most.

The entire "encouraging marriage" proposal is an ill thought attempt to win back some support from some sections of the party who have been alienated by a lot of other Cameron proposals (such as his taxing holidays in the name of the environment). Of course, doing so has now alienated other sections of the party, like myself, who do not want to subsidize anybodys lifestyle choice.

The logic of this policy is obvious an shows how ridiculous the idea of tax breaks for married people is.

Some married people have children. Some don't. If you give a benefit to people in a legally sanctioned partnership who chose not to have children, you have to give it to gay couples too. Some gay couples, for example, adopt children.

Ostensibly, the policy of giving tax breaks to married people is to assist children. If that was the case, then the massive amount of extra money this will cost should simply be given out in tax breaks for parents, more for the first child, and then less for subsequent ones, not married people, and discontinued when the children reach adulthood.

It's quite clear that the real agenda is based on the socially conservative view that marriage is an institution sanctioned by God and should be rewarded by the government as such. I wish people who believed this would just come out and say it, and argue it.

If you had enough money to give every married couple £20 a week, and you wanted to help children be brought up in a stable environment, is this really how you'd spend it? I don't think so.

I am not convinced by this policy: the amounts per couple are small except for the very poor and are a drop in the ocean compared to the asset-stripping judgments which our out-of-touch judges inflict on divorcing couples, especially men, every day of the week. If Cameron wants to bolster marriage/civil partnerships that is where he should start. He will need to fight hard because the arrogance of the unelected judiciary is breathtaking.

Even if there is an allowance it should be for couples (heterosexual or homosexual) with dependent children.

If Bercow and Yeo start to cause trouble, they should both be shown the door. These second-rate malcontents have delighted us long enough. As they depart to oblivion, they should be presented with the Shaun Woodward Memorial Prize: a large carpet bag.

I tend to agree this should be restricted to married couples (or civil partners) with dependent children. It is quite clear that at a low level of income, it is not at all advantageous for single parents to get married - as they would lose all manner of benefits and tax credits. That in turn, is not in the interests of children.

Politically, it would far too much of a hot potato to cut such benefits, so it makes more sense to offer a tax allowance.

I agree with Michael that our divorce laws are a powerful deterrent for men to marry, and need to be revised.

Some random points:-

1. WRT widows, is there not already a widow's tax allowance?

2. Let's get away from calling tax reductions "bribes" or "gifts". They are only such things in the eyes of people who believe that what we earn is the rightful property of the State.

If everytime someone disagreed with their party they had to leave and to join an appropriate alternate party, the House of Commons would become Oxford Street...

Its a tough call this one. Whilst we should be putting marriage on a pedestal as the premium family unit, we need to recognise that civil partnerships are swiftly becoming like orthodox marriage and the argument for distinguishing between the two is reducing.

Regarding your point 2 Sean, hear hear!

On the matter of "bribes" and "gifts" - I persist with "bribes" because politicians do bribe voters. They steal from one man's pocket to bribe someone more bribeable. The audacity extends to bribing a man with money stolen from his own house. If the state is to spend money, sometimes a desireable thing (when we built up our dreadnoughts between 1911 and 1914, was that state robbery?), it should be for the public good, not for winning votes. I believe we should concentrate on the big issue of tax cuts and an accompanying reduction in the size of the public sector, rather than meekly expressing delight when the robber of State deigns to send us a few pennies back in the post. The term "bribe" shows disdain for shallow-principled handouts.

I should stress that if social conservatism could be rebuilt into our society by means like this, it would be a worthwhile use of money. And if calling a marriage allowance a gift and regarding it as a reward would reinforce this goal, I consider that the positive effects on society would justify the expenditure. Since the object should be to help the poor as opposed to the well-to-do, the cost should not be too prohibitive, and could be paid for by other cutbacks.

Doctrinaire obsession with tax and money is narrow-minded; it is a worthwhile quality in an official and it is a voice that deserves the ears of the mighty, but leaders must be open minded (as opposed to wooly-minded, like our "Dave") and should be prepared to judiciously grant ground to expediency over strict principle.

I would like to say to the writer who declares that the social conservatives who consider marriage an inherently good thing should come out and state their case openly, that I am a social conservative, and consequently support the conservative party. I expect conservative policies, not a reinforcement of the new Liberal orthodoxy. I'm prepared to pay tax to help rebuild conservative society, but not to subsidise upper middle class homosexuals to behave openly self-centredly.

I tend to agree this should be restricted to married couples (or civil partners) with dependent children.

All well and good, except that the proposal is for ALL married couples, regardless of the amount or lack of children or how much money they earn - from page 8 of Volume 1 of the Breakthrough Britain Report

A transferable tax allowance for all married couples (costing £3.2bn and
giving £20 a week to those making use of it)

This isn't about helping poor children and needy families - this is about subsidizing a certain percentage of the population's lifestyle choice.

I'm well aware of what the proposal is, Scot. Mine is a counter proposal.

I'm also well aware that my taxes are currently subsidising any number of lifestyles, some of which I thouroughly disapprove of. So, I'm not going to get terribly worked up about this one.

I have to agree with Bercow and Yeo. I'm a Conservative because I don't like state interference. This policy is social-engineering and I don't like it.

I am a liberal Conservative, but strongly support grammar schools. Am I alone in feeling that the Party has gone AWOL?

It's a shame the Lib Dems aren't liberal...

It is quite clear that at a low level of income, it is not at all advantageous for single parents to get married - as they would lose all manner of benefits and tax credits.

From what I have read through the report so far, the benefit system makes it so that it is not advantageous far any couple to live together (either cohabitating or married). It then makes a logical leap that marriage should be supported (it links to some other study, and does not logically justify why marriage should be supported in the report itself). Why the benefit system can't just be fixed in such a way as that it makes no difference if a couple living together are married or not is never explored.

We should not really be handing out relativly small amounts of money to people at huge cost to the taxpayer, rather we should be concentrating on the inefficient and intrusive welfare system that locks people into state dependency and encourages fecklessness.

Bercow and Yeo have no objection to the principle of state intervention, and social engineering, Justin. They're quite happy to see these things directed at objectives that Polly Toynbee favours.

Am I alone in feeling that the Party has gone AWOL?

Seeing as every conservative I speak to believes that the party has lost the plot, then no, you are not alone.

I think the biggest disagreements are over where the party has lost the plot. Education, Taxation, Environmental Policy, Social Policy, and good ol' Europe - the Conservative party has a policy for everyone to dislike.

"Why the benefit system can't just be fixed in such a way as that it makes no difference if a couple living together are married or not is never explored."

Politically, it would be difficult to take benefits away from single parents, which would be the logical conclusion to what you are saying.

The more this is discussed, the trickier the policy appears to be. Politically I think it will be a difficult one to get through unless it's specifically for childres. The argument of a childless millionaire couple getting the same tax break as a married couple with 5 kids may be a difficult one to make. We shall see

Politically, it would be difficult to take benefits away from single parents, which would be the logical conclusion to what you are saying.

No, it's not. As the report says, the problem stems from benefits being judged by the family, taxes by the individual. Letting 2 people live together without them loosing individual benefits would not take away benefits from single parents. As long as benefits are based on a household then there is more incentive to live apart - two households means two sets of benefits. If benefit allocation was based on an individuals need then there would be no disadvantage to couples living together. There is no need to encourage marriage in any of this.

Rather more expensive than IDS's proposal, surely, Scot?

I'm quite happy to have a tax system that favours married couples *with dependent children* as the evidence for the benefit to children of being brought up within marriage is pretty clear, and an unmarried couple with children can always opt to get married.

Politically I think it will be a difficult one to get through unless it's specifically for childres.

The report goes out of it's way to state that the family is important, and that what's good for the family will be good for the children. It keeps going on about "how every family is important" and then describes in detail how to make one type of family (2 married straight people with children) more important than every other type of family.

Rather more expensive than IDS's proposal, surely, Scot?

But that is exactly IDS's proposal, just without the marriage encouragement. IDS's proposal is more expensive - instead of two jobless wasters just living together and getting the same benefit as before they moved in together, you get two jobless wasters getting the same benefit as before + 20 quid a week just because they could be bothered to get married. 20 quid a week for all married people solves nothing.

I'd be perfectly happy with a policy just for those with children, just for those with any caring function, just for those that have made legal promises and had children, or for anyone that has made legal promises. I think that many commenters here are confused if they are of the view that marriage, as opposed to cohabitation, is of no consequence unless one has children. The making and keeping of promises has been a foundational basis of human relations since earliest times, and it is the collapse of this institution, not of marriage-in-the-case-of-children that is the great disaster of our civilisation.

Thus, although I would be happy with any of the above, my preference would be for us (a) to create a new category of one-chance indissoluble justice-based parterships; (b) to attach the tax break to this institution, regardless of the presence of children (and not attach it to any other); (c) in the event of legal separation of justice-based partners, reclaim the tax from the guilty party or parties. This would give carrot and stick to the justice-based partnership, so that we would have positive incentives to keep our promises - potentially to the enormous enrichment of our civilisation.

to create a new category of one-chance indissoluble justice-based parterships;

Why? What benefits would that bring, and why would anyone in their right mind ever sign up to it? No offense, but to me, your proposal sounds like it is based on thinly cloaked religious beliefs.

the evidence for the benefit to children of being brought up within marriage is pretty clear

Does anybody have a link to any of this evidence? So far, all I have found in the report is anecdotes, surveys of popular opinion and the occasional cherry-picked statistic. I'm hoping the "Fractured Families" report from last year will provide me with some, but a quick glance hasn't revealed anything (other than anecdotes and popular opinion)

[email protected]:30

Because in a marriage our commitment is lifelong ("'til death us do part") and exclusive ("forsaking all others"). Current legal marriage is neither. It would be desirable to give legal force to the promises actually made - whether we make them religiously ("before God") or not ("before Man").

I also believe that there should be forms of civil partnership that are time-limited (1 year; 5 years; 10 years), since that is what people want. And we can keep the name "marriage" for the current laxly-enforced legal arrangement, since that's what people are used to.

Scot, you could try the IEA's "Families without Fathers."

Just as a matter of interest, do you see any benefits to wider society in marriage?

Scott, Tom Tom suggested reading:

http://www.civitas.org.uk/pubs/experiments.php
http://www.civitas.org.uk/press/prFiscal.php
http://www.civitas.org.uk/pdf/OneillFiscalPolicy.pdf

Very interesting.

My heart sinks when the Conservatives come up with tax-based methods of control like this. Who cares if people are married, unmarried or gay? It is not Government's job to moralise - unless you happen to live under sharia law. Much better to reduce taxes all round for everyone. The one thing the Tories have against Brown is that taxes have screamed upwards under him. Now is the time to bring taxes down.

Just as a matter of interest, do you see any benefits to wider society in marriage?

Not really. So far, I've found evidence that it may be good for your health and may even lower crime rates, although it's difficult (sometimes impossible) to separate correlation from causation. At best, any benefit to society is marginal and certainly not warranting of state intervention in people's private lives. If society really is breaking down, the death of marriage is at best a symptom, not a cause.

I see marriage more as arrangement that may appeal to certain individuals, rather than a great institution that should be saved by the government, primarily at other's expense. It served it's purpose in the past, when households really were run almost like businesses, with large numbers of children and where women were not able to easily support themselves on their own. Especially now that non-married couples get most of the legal protections once reserved to marriage, it's difficult to see how it's anything other than an anachronism.

So Scot on what basis do you think marriage was created and for the benefit of whom?

I agree with Richard Carey, which has never happened before...

Well, thank you Henry (I think). I'm sure it's only a brief abberation, as shown by

...up to his last para where he brings out the waffle iron.

which shows that thankfully I haven't completely lost my credibility here! Perhaps I could have been clearer in my phrasing, though. My intention was not to waffle, but to point out that whatever personal preferences you might have in promoting the family structures in the future that you consider to be most stable, Conservatives will have to engage with present reality on this today.

There are many families out there that might not meet the personal ideals of some contributors, often not by their own hand, but which also have children in them. We need to be absolutely clear that we care just as much for those today, and none of them will be left behind in our efforts to encourage more stable and cohesive families in the future.

Perhaps you'll think I've waffled again, Henry, but these are complex issues - I guess my challenge is to find ways to express them that use less words!

Cameron supports tax breaks for same sex partnerships

Read all about it! The Pope's Catholic.

Ever-predictable Cameron has achieved the unenviable status of PC pub bore.

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