Monday, 12 April 2010

Election 2010: Protect Homes, Strengthen Family

In recent days, the Conservatives have built on their strong pro-growth message on the economy, with pledges to scale back the snooper state and support families by recognising marriage and civil partnerships in the tax system.

Protecting the home. It was once said that an Englishman's home is his castle. No longer. In 2009, I highlighted in my book, The Assault on Liberty, the vast array of over 1,000 state powers of entry into the home - around half of which have been introduced under Labour since 1997. The powers are not confined to pursuing serious criminals or counter-terrorism. There are a bewildering range of trivial grounds for snoopers to force their way into the home - to check the environmental credentials of fridges, rabbit controls, the height of hedgerows and to inspect potted plants. So, I am delighted that the Conservatives have pledged to cut back the number of powers of entry, limit them to serious offences or threats to public safety and require a magistrate to approve a warrant in advance. These plans will restore the sanctity of the home, scale back the snooper state - and provide a much-needed dose of common sense.

Strengthening Family. Under Labour's tax and welfare system, the average couple are £12,000 better off each year ... if they split up. This is a perverse incentive, given everything we know about the prospects in life for children growing up with a single parent. The Conservatives are not criticising single-mums - they have a tough enough job on their hands. But we are proposing to recognise marriage and civil partnerships in the tax system. Our pledge is to allow couples on incomes up to £44,000 to transfer their personal tax allowance, saving them up to £150 per year. (It will be paid for by a tax on banks, pursuant to international agreement.) This is a symbolic commitment, because a Conservative government would be formally supporting long-term commitment - because we believe family is the best social safety net we have. But £150 per year will also provide practical support to young, hard-working, families - supporting mums who stay home, and helping couples save for childcare later on.

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