I am relieved and pleased that Iain Duncan-Smith has put the question of the status of the family at centre stage in our review of social policy.
Bluntly the results of detailed social research constantly tells us that family breakdown and/or absentee fatherhood is linked to a whole range of damaging social problems ranging from attention deficit disorder, social exclusion, educational under-achievement, unemployment, obesity, drug abuse, crime and anti social behavior.
Left to it's own devices the breakdown of the family unit threatens the cohesion of society.
While it is not the job of Government to decree how people should choose to live their lives policymakers do have to recognise the impact of their decisions on social behaviour. As a result of years of neglect for the status of marriage it is hardly surprising that fewer people are choosing to marry; and even less surprising that fewer and fewer people are seeing the benefits of having children within a stable married relationship if the law offers extra benefits to those who don't.
Mr Duncan Smith says that marriage has been undermined by the tax and benefits system under the current Labour government; well he is partly right - we didn't do that much to support marriage ourselves when we last had the chance; so it's a cross party issue that has been a problem for a long time.
He says that the current report is about finding out what the problems are and what has gone wrong - not to lecture people to get married - but to help couples, married and unmarried, to stabilise their relationships.
I agree. We could start by promising a tax regime that recognises the status of families and introduce a transferable married allowance.
I still think ithere are many absentee dads who get off their responsibilities too easily whilst others -who do want to be involved in their childrens upbringing - often find themselves banned by law from having any involvement save paying maintenance.