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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 July 2007, 10:43 GMT 11:43 UK
Cameron aiming to 'mend society'
David Cameron said marriage should be encouraged

Tory leader David Cameron has said mending Britain's "broken society" is the biggest challenge facing the UK.

Citing high crime rates, drug abuse and teenage pregnancies, he said there was something "deeply wrong" and "long-term generational change" was needed.

Mr Cameron was speaking to the BBC's Sunday AM show ahead of a report by the party's Social Justice Policy Group.

A rise in the tax on alcohol to help tackle binge drinking is among the proposals it will contain.

'Cultural change'

In a wide-ranging interview, Mr Cameron called for changes to the tax and benefits system to encourage couples to stay together and marry.

"We need a big cultural change in favour of fatherhood, in favour of parenting, in favour of marriage," he added.

Tax rise can be a motivation for people to stop drinking too much, but it will take time before we see the actual results
Billy Gionis, London

He said the Conservatives would make a greater effort to reach out to Muslims with the help of newly appointed shadow minister for community cohesion, Sayeeda Warsi.

And he insisted there was a still "a huge gulf" between the Conservatives and Labour, despite the parties sharing several advisors, including former Metropolitan Police chief Lord Stevens.

"We come into politics to get things done. If sensible ideas that we've put forward are going to be taken up (by the government) that's great," he said.

Cannabis classing

The policy group, led by former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, is due to publish its report, entitled Breakthrough Britain, on Tuesday.

Its idea on higher alcohol taxes would add about 7p to the cost of a pint, and raise an extra 400m a year to help fund treatment of alcohol abuse.

However, this is not expected to be backed by Mr Cameron, after a source close to the Tory leadership said some proposals "will be adopted, others wont be".

Among the group's other proposals are that state schools in England judged by Ofsted to be "failing" should be freed from local authority control and run by charities and parents.

It says pupils in disadvantaged schools should each get 500 for extra academic, musical or sport tuition.

The report will also recommend reversing the downgrading of cannabis from a class B to a class C drug.

And it will also say that heroin users should be encouraged to tackle their abuse by going "cold turkey", rather than be treated with substitutes such as methadone.

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