Marriage championed in Parliament ahead of Marriage Week
Mr David Burrowes (Enfield, Southgate) (Con).
I beg to move,That this House has considered Marriage Week.
It is a privilege to have secured a debate about Marriage Week, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. I pipped it to the post when I celebrated my 21st wedding anniversary last weekend, but the last 12 hours have brought home to my dear wife, Janet, the reality of the vow “in sickness and in health,” because there has been a bit of a bug going round our house. I welcome the aim behind Marriage Week: to draw attention to the importance of marriage for individuals, family life and civil society. All of us can take part in the celebration. It is not exclusive to those who are married; it is for everyone, because we all know that marriage is for the common good.
I welcome the Minister to her place. She has already answered my written question about the Government’s plans to promote Marriage Week, saying that
“we cannot afford to overlook the importance of the family as the basic building block upon which we build a successful economy and a stable society.”
That is indeed true, but I want to give her the opportunity to explain further the Government’s plans and the value that they place on marriage.
Many of my hon. Friends support the idea of having a dedicated Minister for the family, so perhaps this is an opportunity to make a bid for the Minister’s promotion—she regularly attends Westminster Hall and speaks about lots of issues. We want a dedicated Minister for the family —indeed, a Cabinet Minister—given that the topic covers so many areas and Departments. When I was looking through some old cuttings the other day I was reminded that back in 2004, the current Prime Minister was the shadow Cabinet Minister for the family. She came to my house when she was supporting my campaign to be the Member of Parliament for Enfield, Southgate, and we talked about families. The current Prime Minister got it, and talked about how important that role is, so who knows? Perhaps in time the Minister can follow that path.
The Minister was absolutely correct: we cannot afford to overlook the importance of family. Family provides social capital to those who have fallen on hard times, as we all have—that experience is common to all human beings. This celebration is not just of a domestic issue. In fact, on Monday Professor Bradford Wilcox will help us to understand the evidence relating to marriage’s global value, which it is important for us to recognise.
However, I would like the Minister to go further. It is important to be unapologetic about the social benefits not just of family, but particularly of marriage. It is difficult to celebrate marriage without using the M-word. As a candidate in 2004-05, I got hissed not when I talked about immigration or Europe, but when I mentioned marriage. Sadly, there is disdain and antagonism towards marriage in some circles, but we can avowedly be great fans of marriage—of the M-word. I am unapologetic about celebrating marriage not only because I am in favour of the family formation, but because of the growing evidence that marriage is socially just.