Sunday, February 24, 2008

UK Conservative Party Conference 2007

David Cameron: Call that election. We will fight. Britain will win.

Conservative Party Conference 2007 - SPEECH - Wednesday October 3, 2007

David Cameron: Call that election. We will fight. Britain will win.

In the closing speech of Party Conference 2007, David Cameron said:

You know the best welfare system of all, it's called the family. If you think about it, what's the best organisation at bringing up children, at helping us with the right values, helping us get on with life, looking after us if we are sick or disabled, caring for the elderly, it's the family.

And in this world of unease as well as freedom we need to do more to support the family, and again the old politics are failing. Look at Britain today: one in four children brought up with an absent father, the highest rate of family breakdown in Europe, and I just don't believe we can walk on by from the evidence that's in front of us.

Children from broken homes have a 70 % chance of failing at school, a 40% greater chance of getting into debt, a 35% chance of being unemployed. Single mums do a brilliant job, they do the most difficult job in the world but, I don't think we can ignore the state of family breakdown in Britain and I think we have to try and do something about it.

You know there is a phenomenon in Britain that's called LATs - that's Living Apart Together and there are two million people who pretend to live apart because the benefits system pays you more to live apart than live together.

I met a young man the other day, he came to my office, he had recently been in prison and he was trying to go straight, he had got a job, he's got a kid already and he's got another on the way. He is being mentored by someone in my office and the only reason he doesn't live with the mother of his children is because she would loose benefits if he did.

We must be crazy in this country to be using the benefits system to drive people apart rather than bring them together. We've got a tax system that doesn't recognise marriage and we've got a benefit system that actually recognises any form of co-habitation, any form of commitment and penalises it.

So what will we do to change that?

Well, as George has set out, we will end the couple's penalty in the benefit system, so we don't penalise couples, we will reward them and yes I believe we should recognise marriage in the tax system as well.

But I don't just want to give people a tax cut, I want to give people a time increase, time for many families is the most precious commodity of all, time you can spend at home, time to help with the home work, time you can do things in the house and that's why I think its time not just for these benefit and tax changes I've spoken about but also to say to all employees in all companies with children that you should have the right to ask for flexible working.

Companies that have adopted this have found that they are able to grant the request in the vast majority of cases, they have actually found that productivity has gone up, profits have gone up, staff morale has gone up and keeping staff is easier. I think at the next election we will be able to offer people the strongest family package any Party has put together. Yes we will recognise marriage in the tax system, yes we will take the couples penalty out of the tax system and yes we will give people more time, more flexibility, so we can be the Party of the family once again.

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