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banner Tuesday, 3 October, 2000, 15:21 GMT 16:21 UK
Young backs 'ideal' families
Baroness Young lent her voice to a CPS fringe meeting entitled Standing Up for the Family at the Conservative Party conference on Tuesday.

The redoutable Baroness was strict in her ideas of what constituted a family and, perhaps more importantly, what did not.

A family, opined the veteran of the campaign to block the repeal of Section 28, was "a couple, consisting of a husband and wife, with or without children." What it most definitely was not, on the other hand, was "a single parent family or single sex relationship."

'Party of the family'

The Tory party had to make a "definite commitment not to repeal Section 28," argued Baroness Young.

A promise "not to lower the [homosexual] age of consent from 18 to 16" was also required, she added. The Baroness personally felt that the heterosexual age of consent should be moved up to 18, she said, allowing the two laws to be brought into line with each other.

A "family alliance" was needed to defend the family from the onslaught of a home secretary who feels that we "shouldn't get into a paddy about the decline of formal marriage" and television programmes made by a "liberal intelligentsia" who feel that "almost any relationship goes," urged Baroness Young.

Even the Church of England "often speaks with an uncertain voice" when it comes to family matters, complained the Baroness. But Conservatives had "traditionally been the party of the family," she said, and urged the party not to "rest on its laurels" on the matter.

Back to basics (again)?

"As politicians we should set the ideal," she continued, and "know the direction in which we should be going, even if we stumble along the path".

'Back to basics' had only failed, she argued, because John Major's government didn't make it clear that it was "an ideal," said Baroness Young. Though "the family never was and never will be perfect," she admitted, it was still "unquestionably the best way to bring up children".

Practical help the Conservatives could offer to the modern family, she suggested, included reintroducing the married couples' tax allowance; the extension of the invalid care allowance and offering scholarships to women who wished to study and return to work after bringing up children.

Free fall

Baroness Young's predictions as to what the future holds if the family is not preserved were bleak: society, she said, would go into "free fall".

"The break-up of the family has led to an increase in crime," she alleged. Conceding that "there are times when divorce is right," the Baroness reserved her criticism for 'alternative' family groups.

"Cohabiting leads to an increase in domestic violence" was the stark warning from Baroness Young, and the "sex education industry" was at fault for giving children the impression that it was an "equally valid" familial model.

In summing up, Baroness Young expressed the wish that all present would agree with her views. Judging from the applause she received, that allegedly endangered species, the "married couple with or without children" were obviously much in evidence.

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