Speeches recovered from the Conservative party’s online archive More…

Howard: Supporting parents

Speech at Conservative Campaign Headquarters

"Governments cannot do everything - but if they govern with the right values they can make a real difference.

The Britain I believe will reward people who do the right thing: the people who work hard, pay their dues and bring up their children to respect others.

Bringing up children is one of the most rewarding things you can do in life. But it isn't always easy. Juggling the competing demands of work and family life - especially when children are very young - can be a real struggle.

I remember when our first child Nick was born. Like all parents, I wanted to provide my family with security. Often that meant long hours in the office and not getting home until very late.

Now I see my stepson and daughter-in-law struggling with the same dilemmas that Sandra and I wrestled with thirty years ago.

But the juggling act is harder for parents today, because lots of women with children now choose either to carry on working or have to get a job to make ends meet.

Parents know how best to bring up their children.

Government's role is to support the choices individual parents make. Because every parent's aspirations are different, the choices they make will vary dramatically from family to family.

Of course, everyone likes to think that their family circumstances are typical. That's why the childcare debate often gets rather heated. People with one particular point of view assume that they are advocating an approach that will benefit the majority of families. But all families are different. There is no one size fits all solution.

That's why Conservatives are committed to increasing the choices available to parents by making support for childcare far more flexible than it is today.

Under our plans - which have been fully costed - an additional quarter of a million parents will receive up to £50 a week for every child under five, regardless of what type of childcare they use. And we will increase maternity pay by £1,400 - allowing parents to concentrate the payments over a six month period if they want to.

I don't pretend to be able to solve all the problems parents face in dealing with care for their children. Parents who stay at home will sometimes feel isolated - just as those who go out to work will sometimes feel overstretched. But I believe our proposals will be of real practical benefit to many families in Britain today.

Parents will face a clear choice at the next election: between the Conservatives who will reward hard working families with lower taxes and value for money or higher taxes and more waste under Mr Blair."

Keyboard shortcuts

j previous speech k next speech