The Times

January 14 2001

White paper on family is shelved

PLANS for a government white paper on the family have been shelved because ministers fear alienating single parents in the run-up to a general election expected this May,writes Michael Prescott.

Michael Prescott
The Sunday Times

Ministers will instead issue an anodyne "progress report", examining the response to a green paper on the family published in November 1998.

"If I get on a soapbox and lecture people about their relationships, they will tell me to get lost," said a senior minister who sits on the cabinet committee on the family. That kind of instruction can be left to the bishops; it is not for us. There isn't going to be a white paper."

"Marriage is the best way for two adults to raise their children," stated the 1998 family green paper. Some ministers feel the government has been fortunate to escape a "back-to-basics" row of the sort that led to the hounding of ministers in John Major's government.

Whenever the successor document is published, it is unlikely to do more than reprise the 1998 policies, including the foundation of the National Family and Parenting Institute.

Ministers want the document to highlight rises in child benefit, the creation of subsidised childcare places for the low-paid and training for lone parents to return to work.

Copyright 2001, Times Newspapers Ltd.