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Last Updated: Friday, 14 March 2008, 15:28 GMT
Cameron defends filming of family
Cameron family at Portobello market, London
David Cameron has been pictured frequently with his family

Conservative leader David Cameron has defended his decision to allow a TV crew to film his family at home.

He told the BBC voters had a "right to know a bit more about you, your life and your family, what makes you tick and what informs your thinking".

Mr Cameron was shown with his wife, Samantha, and children, Arthur, Nancy and Ivan, on ITV News on Thursday.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he would not be following the Conservative leader's example.

'Big thing'

Asked if the family filming had been a good thing to do, Mr Cameron said: "Yes. I'm asking people a very big thing, which is to elect me as their prime minister.

"And I think people have a right to know a bit more about you, your life and your family, what makes you tick, and what informs your thinking.

"And to me, nothing informs my thinking more than family because I think it's the most important thing there is in our society. So that's why I did what I did."

But Mr Brown, who has always been fiercely protective of the privacy of his two young sons, John and Fraser, said: "I am not going to get into what other people have done.

"I have made my views very clear in the past about how I will do things and I have been grateful to the press for their co-operation in that."

Speaking ahead of the Conservatives' spring forum in Gateshead, Mr Cameron said, if he became prime minister, he would allow parents to take up to 26 weeks' leave together if they wished.

He said flexible parental leave would help make Britain more family-friendly.

Mr Cameron said: "The world is changing. Men want to be more involved in bringing up their children. That's why flexibility is a really good thing."

The government plans to extend maternity leave to 52 weeks by 2010.

After the first 26 weeks, parents would be able to choose whether the mother or the father stayed at home.

The Tory proposals would offer 52 weeks' flexible leave to parents to divide as they chose.

'Out of touch'

In theory, mothers and fathers could stay at home together for as long as six months while receiving a mixture of paid leave and statutory pay.

Such rights would be extended to same-sex couples.

Mr Cameron said: "It's not just when the baby arrives that can be exhausting, it's after about three or four months when the mother is tired and the baby's not sleeping through the night.

"That's when families may need more flexibility and choice.

"Labour believe that the state should dictate from the top, but we believe that it is the mums who are doing the really heavy lifting in terms of bringing up our children and giving them the right support."

But Business Secretary John Hutton said: "Whether it is the mother or the father staying at home, the majority of families still need one parent going out to work to pay the bills.

"The Tory big idea on the family shows how out of touch they are with hardworking people."

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