Lord Archbishop of Canterbury debates involving the Department for Work and Pensions during the 2019-2024 Parliament

Love Matters (Archbishops’ Commission on Families and Households Report)

Lord Archbishop of Canterbury Excerpts
Friday 8th December 2023

(7 months, 2 weeks ago)

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Lord Archbishop of Canterbury Portrait The Archbishop of Canterbury
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That this House takes note of Love Matters, the report of the Archbishops’ Commission on Families and Households.

Lord Archbishop of Canterbury Portrait The Archbishop of Canterbury
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My Lords, I want to start by thanking the usual channels for allowing me to hold this debate today. I am very grateful to all noble Lords who have come to participate in it, or just to be here for it. On these Benches, we do not take for granted in any way the remarkable privilege of having such a debate roughly once a year; it is a great honour to be allowed to do so.

Families really matter. It is obvious. We know that. However, sometimes we forget why. They are the fundamental building blocks for a flourishing society. This was the motivation for, and the conclusion of, the Archbishops’ Commission on Families and Households, of which the co-chair was the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham.

I pay tribute to the commission’s members, who worked for over two years on this, particularly its chair, Professor Janet Walker, and all those who took part and gave evidence to the commission. It was the last in a series of commissions which grew out of a book I wrote in 2018, Reimagining Britain: Foundations for Hope. The book encouraged us to reimagine society as dedicated to the flourishing of the common good of peoples and communities. The Archbishops’ Commission on Housing, Church and Community reported in 2021 and the Archbishops’ Commission on Reimagining Care reported at the start of this year.

For as long as human beings have existed, we have formed families and households. Families were the birthplace of society itself, and states followed on—they are a later creation. Families are the source of flourishing for so many. At their best, they are the place of belonging and security, of growth, care, healing and reconciliation, of training in being a citizen. They are where we learn to love and be loved, to forgive and to be forgiven. They are where we learn about trust, respect, commitment and values, where we learn to be safe and confident in our identity. But we know that families come in all shapes and sizes in all different societies, and that the shape of the family has changed enormously in our lifetime. They are not simply nuclear.

As the press widely reported when they had nothing better to talk about, my own childhood was messy due to my parents’ alcohol addiction. A few years ago, I, like many people, discovered that the father I had grown up with was not my biological father. Those who, like me, do not grow up in stable immediate families often find hope, comfort and healing in being welcomed into and supported by other loving families, as I was, or extended families. In my case, that included my grandmother, who cared for me in the times when my parents could not. For others, it is an aunt and uncle, a godparent, a loving neighbour.

Households and families—I will call them “families” for short throughout this speech—come in so many shapes and sizes. Those who are single, deliberately or by circumstance, also contribute greatly to households and families through friendship networks and are usually part of extended forms of households. Our families and households grow, adapt and age with us. We see the wonder of familiarity and change, the promise of renewal. If we have children or siblings, we are given the gift of viewing life at both ends—as son and father, granddaughter and grandmother, nephew and uncle.

The commission expressed brilliantly—I had nothing to do with its writing—the opportunity we now have to reimagine a society in which all families, of all shapes and all loving relationships, are valued and strengthened. My right reverend friend the Bishop of Durham will speak more about the commission’s focus on valuing all relationships, including those of people who are single. But family must not be idolised. While very often it is the greatest source of contentment and hope, it can for many be a cause of despair, unhappiness and trauma, the place where our human imperfections—which we know as “sin”—give way to harmful and destructive behaviours.

We all know the statistics on domestic abuse and neglect. The NSPCC estimates that around half a million children suffer abuse in the UK each year, and the Office for National Statistics found that about 5% of adults had experienced abuse in the year ending March 2022. Around 80% of abuse happens within households and families.

In the Bible, family life is messy. Our complex relationships become part of the divine story of God—from Cain and Abel to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob’s family, the beautiful story of Ruth and especially the holy family of Jesus.

So family matters, but what defines families and makes them so crucial for our well-being and for that of society? The answer—it sounds banal, but I will unpack it—is the bonds of love. Yes, of course it is; what else might it be? Well, it is often forgotten.

Throughout the commission’s work, it found in evidence from all places within and outside the Christian or any other faith that “love” was the word most associated with family life, hence the title of the report. The report said:

“Love is undoubtedly the essential characteristic of supportive family life which knows no boundaries and which is expected to endure through the best and the worst of times”.

What do we mean by “love” though? We are not speaking of an emotional feeling. We and the report mean a deep sacrificial commitment to each other, even when it is really hard. Sacrificial love is at the heart of the Christian story, for God so loved the world that he sent his son Jesus Christ both for our salvation, which we believe as Christians, but to model a radical new way of relating to one another, which is self-giving love without expectation of return.

In the Bible, love is described in the most practical way. Here is a passage that almost everyone knows:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres”.

That passage from 1 Corinthians, chapter 13, is often read out at weddings, but has application far beyond. In my mind’s eye, I see a journey that my wife and I made last year, when we stopped at a service station for a bite to eat. There was a very elderly couple, both finding extreme problems with mobility. They were married to each other and supporting each other as they made their slow and painful way back to their vehicle. That was nothing very dramatic, one might say, but it was a beautiful picture of love—not the love we hear of so much in novels, but resilient, enduring, sacrificing, self-giving love. That is the biblical position on love. It is not just for the benefit of us and our families, but for others. Sacrificial love develops in us the capacity to love and serve without self-interest.

The Children’s Commissioner described a “protective effect” of the family. Family has the power to support its members through life’s challenges. At its best, family is the first port of call in a crisis and a place where we can share both life’s joys and life’s sorrows with others who care for us. A colleague of mine is caring for a family who have just lost the second child in their lives to cancer—a young boy of 11 who died two weeks ago. The wider family has gathered round to bring strength to these people, who have suffered more than most of us can imagine, even those of us who are of that rare and unpleasant club who have lost one child.

That resilience that family brings is especially true for children. Family is the best place for children to grow up and develop resilience, and the evidence of the commission—the evidence, not just a vague thought—is that living with loving birth parents is best, where possible, and when it is not the state has an important role to play in ensuring that children can be integrated into other loving families which are “stable and committed” to one another. Stable and committed is not a question of sexuality, according to the evidence.

The commission found that:

“There is now scientific consensus that the period from conception to age five is critical in providing the foundation for future physical and mental health, as well as overall wellbeing and productivity”.

The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood is an extraordinary foundation doing remarkable work. In 2021, the Government presented a vision, which came partly from its work, for the first

“1,001 … days through pregnancy to the age of two … when the building blocks for lifelong emotional and physical health are laid”.

There is evidence that mothers and fathers play a crucial role in these early years. The protective effect of families is particularly pertinent given the extraordinary rise in mental health challenges visible in both children and adults.

The Church of England Children’s Society concluded in its 2021 Good Childhood Report—an annual production that I strongly commend to noble Lords—that:

“The continuing downward trajectory of children’s happiness with life as a whole, and other important indicators, suggests the UK is struggling to create conditions in which all children can thrive”.

The commission’s call is for all of us, as individuals, communities, government and the Church, to put families at the very centre of all we do.

How can we enable bonds of love to flourish within families and households? Exhortation is useful. Practical aid is essential, and that comes especially through basic needs such as good housing, social care, education, healthcare and nutrition. These are moral duties, not just economic calculations.

But to what extent should this be the responsibility of government? As I said, the family predates society, so government may be useful or harmful to families, but stable families are indispensable to government and society. We literally cannot exist as a state without them, and not only because it would cost too much. Governments must seek to support the intermediate institutions, which are the only way of delivering effective family support at the local level. Those bodies and groups which sit between the family or the individual and the state have, for much of history, done the heavy lifting and care for one another’s well-being and promoting the flourishing of society. All our commissions made recommendations to the Church and for other bodies in society, not simply to government—and that applies to this one.

William Beveridge, often referred to as the father of the welfare state, saw the importance of voluntary institutions. In his 1942 report, where he identified the five giants to be conquered, he wrote:

“The State in organising security should not stifle incentive, opportunity, responsibility; in establishing a national minimum, it should leave room and encouragement for voluntary action by each individual to provide more than that minimum for himself and his family”.

In 1948, Beveridge wrote in his less remembered and much ignored follow-up, Voluntary Action—it is gendered language, but this is 1948—

“how much all men owe to Voluntary Action for public purposes in the past”,

and suggested how it

“can be kept vigorous and abundant in the future”.

There is a crucial role for individuals, churches, and other charities and institutions to play in putting families first. The ideal is for the state to act in such a way as to create a positive reinforcing loop—a force multiplier—with the actions of individuals, intermediate institutions and families themselves, to make space for families, neighbours and communities to care for one another.

In this final bit of the speech, I will focus on two areas where the Government, through their legislation, regulations and example, can promote the flourishing of families and households. The first is ensuring that, whenever a policy is created in any government department, its impact on families and households is considered and acted upon. Does it enable the bonds of love within the family and the household to flourish? Does it support and strengthen relationships?

This week, we hear that many people in this country will be prevented from living together with their spouse, children or elderly parents as a result of a big increase in the minimum income requirement for family visas. The Government are rightly concerned with bringing down illegal migration figures—noble Lords will be relieved to know that I am not going into the politics of that—but there is a cost to be paid in the negative impact that this will have on marriage and family relationships for those who live and work and contribute to our lives together, particularly in social care.

The family test already exists. It was introduced by the Government of the noble Lord, Lord Cameron, in 2014. It seeks, through five questions, to introduce a family and household perspective into the policy-making process of every department. I know that DWP— I suspect that the Minister will comment on this—is currently conducting an internal review to look at ways to strengthen the test. That is welcome. The family test should be on the front of every Bill. It should have practical implications for policy, from Treasury spending decisions to the impact of sentencing in the criminal justice system, on which I look forward to hearing more from my right reverend friend the Bishop of Gloucester.

The main thing I urge of the Government is to consider giving the family test, with the support of the Opposition, greater teeth to support its implementation across government departments. Will they require completion and publication of the assessments to increase transparency and learning across government? Will they also consider reviewing the questions asked within the test to focus more on children and all aspects of well-being—emotional, social, spiritual and material? Let me remind noble Lords what I said a few minutes ago. The state is useful to the family, but the family is indispensable to the state. A lack of strong families undermines our whole society. The Government need families to work. They must not set a series of hurdles for them to jump over.

Another key consideration for policy is whether it is family-proof. Is it flexible enough to accommodate the different ways in which families live? One example is the two-child limit on benefits. I pay tribute to the tireless work of my right reverend friend the Bishop of Durham for his campaigning in this area. The End Child Poverty campaign estimates that removing the two-child limit would lift a quarter of a million children out of poverty. The moral case is beyond any question, yet the unfair penalty applied to additional children affects their educational outcomes, their mental and physical health, and their likelihood to require public support from public services later on. It is not a good policy. Will the Government—and the Opposition, should they become the Government at some point—consider removing the two-child limit and addressing other systems and policy choices which keep families in poverty?

Finally—I am conscious of the time—I turn to supporting families, housing and social care. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s recent report on destitution revealed that around 3.8 million people experienced destitution—the total absence of resources, not just poverty—including around 1 million children, in 2022. That is two and a half times the number in 2017 and triple the number of children. Our social security system, designed by Beveridge to reach everyone, is simply staggering under the burden of trying to meet the needs. The situation is grave, especially for those who are disabled. In addition, our housing commission highlighted a chronic shortage of social and affordable housing. Good housing—sustainable, safe, stable, sociable and satisfying—is necessary. This integrates in supporting families. The Reimagining Care Commission called for a national care governor to clarify the responsibilities of everyone—government and others—in care and support.

Putting families first requires a long-term approach. I urge all parties, as we move towards an election year, to place flourishing families and households as a key objective within their manifestoes at the next election and to recognise their responsibility and self-interest for the well-being of adults and children alike and for transforming the way our society operates. Herbert’s famous poem, “Love bade me welcome”, speaks of the sacrificial love of Christ, who welcomed him in when he did not deserve it. Flourishing families are the place where we experience similar love and welcome. Love matters, families matter and relationships matter. I urge us all to seek ways to support their flourishing. I beg to move.

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Lord Robathan Portrait Lord Robathan (Con)
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My Lords, I add my congratulations to the commission; it has produced an interesting and very detailed report. I will not say that I have read every word of the 238 pages, but I have read it and it is worth reading. I do not agree with every word, either. I am very sceptical about government interference, perhaps in a slightly different way from the noble Lord, Lord Griffiths. I am not involved in pugilistically admonishing civil servants; however, I do not think that government interference in personal lives is necessarily a good thing. It can be, but we should be very cautious about it.

I also very much enjoyed, as always, listening to the most reverend Primate. It saves me travelling to Canterbury—or wherever he gives them—to listen to his Sunday sermons; they are very good sermons, anyway. I was interested, for instance, to learn about hook-up culture. I had never heard of it before, but I got the gist pretty quickly, I think.

Turning to Love Matters, I was brought up on the authorised version of “faith, hope and charity” and “charity faileth not”. I am not a Greek scholar, so it may be that St Paul actually meant love, but I think love can be a rather debased word in our society. Anyway, we will stick with “love matters”. In the report, there is a lot of talk of other religions, of “Every Child Matters”, in chapter 6, and of singleness. It is all good stuff. I was single until I was 40—over half of my life, so I agree with that, too; and, of course, there is listening to children.

But I want to turn to what was not said in the report—here, I follow my noble friend Lady Stowell, who said it with much greater clarity than I shall express it. The Good Childhood Report, produced by the Children’s Society—which I think used to be the Church of England Children’s Society—

Lord Robathan Portrait Lord Robathan (Con)
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It still is, is it? But it does not call itself that. In the past, it has highlighted—the study ran for about a decade—how children want to be with both parents. I think it found that some 80% of children who were asked wanted to be with both parents. On page 77 the Love Matters report states that

“44 per cent of children did not live with both … parents … to the age of 17”.

The report also tells us that 50% of children in poverty live in single-parent households. Might I say, “Only connect”? There is a correlation here. I used to go to magistrates’ courts quite often. All too often, sadly, the defending counsel would say, “Poor Johnny came from a broken home”—as we used to call them; I do not know whether that is still the case. It was not everyone, of course, but there is an understanding that coming from a home where you do not have both parents is not the best solution. According to the Prison Reform Trust—again, this was a few years ago —76% of young men in prison in England and Wales had absent fathers.

So what is missing from the report? I suggest two things—and it is not to undermine the people who have put a great deal of hard work into it. The first is upholding marriage, as my noble friend Lady Stowell said. There are lots of people in all sorts of diverse relationships who bring up children brilliantly—but marriage is the best and I think that the Church of England should say that. My noble friend Lord Herbert made a moving contribution, quoting from a Supreme Court judge in the US about marriage. If you are brought up by married parents, you have a four times better chance of living with both parents until the age of 18 than those who are not.

Secondly, there is no mention of responsibility—especially the responsibilities of men, of fathers. A relationship may last one week, two years or 10 years, but it is all too often fathers who walk out, leaving mothers literally holding the baby.

There is no mention in the report of the reasons for overcrowding. Often, it is because families have more children—perhaps for cultural reasons—than our houses are designed to cope with. Our houses are not built to have six or eight children in them. I have to say that it is the same with child poverty. Most people restrict the number of children they have to those that they can afford—but if they have six or eight children, it becomes very difficult.

When the most reverend Primate, in his excellent speech, got into politics, I started to differ with him—I have to say that I am not surprised, because I note that 98% of votes cast by bishops in this Session have been against government policy, but it might be a surprise to the huge number of Conservatives who go to church. The leader of my church thinks there is a “moral case” for removing the two-child limit in benefits. Well, he could make that “moral case” to the majority of people who responsibly choose to restrict the size of their families to the number of children they can afford. I do not think that is in any way a difficult concept; most people will restrict the size of their family.

The report also talks about abuse in families. Again, if one goes to court, one will discover that abuse in families is very often by a man—it is typically a man, but not always—who is not married to his partner and beats her up. Of course, there is a lot of abuse in married families as well.

So, yes, we should be more forgiving and more understanding, but all of us have to be held responsible for our actions and the consequences of them. Above all—I go back to my first point—the Church of England should stand up for what may be considered old-fashioned values of individual responsibility and, above all, the conviction that marriage is best. So please—I say to my Church—say so; otherwise, to refer to St Paul in 1 Corinthians, I am afraid the trumpet is giving an uncertain sound.

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Lord Archbishop of Canterbury Portrait The Archbishop of Canterbury
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My Lords, this has been a remarkable debate and I am extremely grateful to all those who have taken part. Given that I am sure everyone is anxiously awaiting the Answer to the PNQ, I will try not to take too long—the Minister is poised to leap up and give the Answer.

I am going to pick up just one or two points, but I want to thank all those who have contributed and all those who have been so kind about the commission— I am sure that it will find out about those kind words—and who have clearly read the report, or its summary, very carefully. It was described as “quietly explosive” by the noble Baroness, Lady Thornhill. That is such a wonderful, Anglican expression. I felt my heart sing at the thought that the Church of England had discovered a way to be quietly explosive. It is such a very Anglican thing to be—we would not like to be noisily explosive any more than we would like to be enthusiastic.

I particularly want to pay tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Stowell. I am one of those who was here when the equal marriage Act went through—I was very new in post at the time—and I remember the graciousness, and the care and attention that were paid, which ensured that it was absolutely undefeatable and unopposable. Even for those of us who did, it was put so well and done so carefully, with respect for all sides involved in the debate. It was a model for how that sort of controversial subject can be handled in Parliament. It is a good thing to remember that and to remember it with gratitude. In so doing, I say the same thing to the noble Lord, Lord Herbert, who played a very significant role in that.

Speaking of the noble Lord, Lord Herbert, I was grateful for his mention of the complexity of the Anglican Communion. I would like, just for the record, to make it clear that the Primates of the Anglican Communion, the Lambeth Conference of worldwide bishops and the Anglican Consultative Council have, on numerous occasions, emphasised their opposition to the criminalisation in any way of same-sex relationships, in the broad sense of the word, and to treating those who are lesbian, gay or transsexual in any way as “other”, condemning and opposing them. I re-emphasise my full agreement with the opposition to criminalisation. I am glad to say that, if you go back to 1967, you will find that my illustrious predecessor, Archbishop Ramsey, was one of those who led the campaign for decriminal-isation in this country.

I regret, as was made clear, the legislation in Uganda and in other places, where it was emphasised by colonial legislation. I also very strongly oppose the death penalty, and to combine the two is the worst of all possible worlds. I am not defending that legislation in any way, because I opposed it and I opposed it publicly, but it is certainly true to say that in that particular law, which I had to read, the “aggravated homosexuality”—not my words—includes, as far as I could see, only those things which are in this country criminal anyway, such as offences against children. However, that does not defend that law.

I will pick up on the comments about marriage, which are very important. The noble Lord, Lord Robathan, and the noble Baroness, Lady Stowell, quite rightly raised it. In the full report there are 300 mentions of marriage and it comes in at number 5 of the key conclusions in the summary report. In one sense, there are a number of other things we did not mention, but it does not mean that we do not support them vigorously. Look at what the Church does as well as what it says. Day by day, from my own experience when I was parish priest doing preparation for marriage for couples and seeing the number of marriages increasing in my own parish—from eight to nearly 40 in my last year in that particular post—I would say that the Church shows its commitment in its active support for marriage.

On the issues around same-sex marriage, noble Lords will be relieved that I am not going to ride off on that hobby-horse, save to say that I appreciate the sympathy of the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, for trying to square that circle.

Marriage is extremely important, but it is not a magic wand. The figures show that domestic abuse happens as much within marriages, with step-parents, and, tragically, with grandparents and others—mainly men—involved in the family, as much as it does in other ways. That is one of the reasons the report carefully emphasises that marriage is of enormous importance, but it is not a panacea; it is not something that makes all life go well always. Children want both parents in their lives, but that is not always for the best if marriages are broken. That is my own experience. Yes, fathers must fulfil their responsibilities, but holding a marriage together is, tragically, not always the safest and best way for the children in the family.

The noble Lord, Lord Davies, in a memorable speech quite rightly drew attention to the need to take care of the use of the word “family”. I hope we tried to do that sufficiently in the report. He also, quite rightly, raised the question of old age in the Church of England. Old age, as in your Lordships’ House, is something with which we are relatively familiar, given that the average age of Members is 69, or round about that—many of the Members of your Lordships’ House today would qualify for the youth groups in most of our churches.

The noble Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss—for some reason, I have written “Bishop Butler-Sloss” in my notes, which was slightly confusing me; but she is wearing purple—talked about the impact and importance of listening to children. That has to be one of the key ways in which, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham mentioned several times, we provide support. The support comes in listening. Holy Trinity Brompton’s marriage course is now used very effectively all over the world, and, for some time, was used in an adapted form as a compulsory run-up to marriage in three provinces in China for anyone wanting to get married—I trust that the noble Lord, Lord Robathan, feels that that is what Governments should intervene in, and make it all absolutely compulsory. It has made a huge difference: all our own children who have married, and many of my young colleagues at Lambeth Palace, have used the course. I will not repeat everything said by the right reverend Prelates the Bishop of Durham, the Bishop of Gloucester or the Bishop of Chelmsford—save to say that I agreed with them entirely.

The noble Baroness, Lady Bottomley, commended the Positive Parenting Alliance. I emphasise that and thank her for mentioning the Reverend Clive Potter. It is typical of what happens in most marriages, most of the time, in this country. You could get rid of the House of Bishops tomorrow and it would be years before anyone noticed the difference, but if you got rid of parish priests, the whole thing would collapse overnight.

The noble Lord, Lord Mann, alluded to the role of grandparents—I agree entirely on that—and the importance of multigenerational families. That is especially important to encourage, because it is a great source of resilience that tackles the problem of isolation, which is why we must take the concept of families in the widest sense.

We heard a marvellous passing comment—I cannot quite remember who from—on the old chestnut about bishops always voting against this Government.

Lord Archbishop of Canterbury Portrait The Archbishop of Canterbury
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I know—I was being tactful.

Lord Robathan Portrait Lord Robathan (Con)
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You can be honest.

Lord Archbishop of Canterbury Portrait The Archbishop of Canterbury
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Yes, noble Lords will find that we did the same thing with the Labour Government—the noble Lord, Lord Collins, will remember it well. It is just a general principle; we sit on these Benches. It is nothing new and it will not change in the future. It is, of course, a misuse of statistics. We supported the Government in stopping the Illegal Migration Act being voted out, and on the Brexit Act after the referendum—if I had picked that Session, it would have been 90% the other way. It all goes to show that statistics have their uses but not always their illuminations.

The two-parent limit is a serious point. The Minister and I know that we will disagree on this. The point about it—this is why it is not a political comment in the sense of a cheap, low comment—is that it penalises children for what happens to the parents. That is the wrong thing to do. If a child who is born happens to be the third child, even if it is because the parents have irresponsibly not thought about their budget before making love—I am sure noble Lords always think about their budget in those circumstances—it is not right to penalise that resulting child.

A family may have four children when their circumstances are good and then face a disability or illness. These things happen. That is why we raised the moral question of whether it is right to penalise the children even if one agrees—which I do not always; in fact, I do so very seldom—that the parents have been irresponsible. The parents may have paid their taxes and their NI for years and, at the moment of need, as Beveridge encouraged, they look for social security.

I was particularly struck by the speech from the noble Lord, Lord Addington. He was looking for how to describe a collection of bishops. There are many descriptions I could use, but I am informed that the technical phrase is “a psalter of bishops”. If I am wrong, I apologise to the House—I have never used that one. I thought particularly about his comment—as he said, he has used it before—that to be a successful disabled child, you need to choose your parents carefully.

Family support is important in disability. It saves the state more money than we can begin to imagine. It always has and always will. We have a child with learning difficulties; do we look after her—she looks after us, in many ways—and care for her because we are paid? Of course we do not; we care for her because we love her. Even in our family, with excellent education and lots of experience, navigating the benefits system is really tough. I commend that thought to the Minister.

Just before he goes, because I could not miss this, I thought that the speech from the noble Lord, Lord Griffiths, was one of the most outstanding of this debate. It was just wonderful—and short. It was shorter than mine.

Lord Archbishop of Canterbury Portrait The Archbishop of Canterbury
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Exactly—I am trying to get there. The noble Lord caused me to reflect that marriages can be good or bad; they are not an end in themselves but they are a means to an end. His comments about Jerusalem artichokes—which, by the way, are topinambours in French, since you ask, although I am not quite sure why—and the ways in which the Beveridge report resulted in the most extraordinary series of legislation, from which he and his family benefited, in one of the most extraordinary periods of legislative action of this Parliament, brought home how government action can facilitate, but is not sufficient for, making families work well. I am very grateful for that speech.

I thank the Minister very much for his excellent closing speech. He rightly mentioned work, which made me think of the numerous churches with job clubs to help people get back into work. That is very important. I thank him for picking up the points so beautifully through his answer.

I have two final things to say. This debate shows how the different aspects of what we have been talking about are interlinked: we cannot silo these issues. Housing helps families, care helps families and education helps families. The Government and the Church operate in different departments. How we cross those silos is probably the hardest test for any administration. That has been shown by a series of powerful and thoughtful speeches in answer to a powerful and thoughtful report.

Finally, on the question of marriage—noble Lords may note a faint tone of defensiveness here—I shall pick up the point made by a noble Lord and a noble Baroness about not mentioning it enough. As some Benches will no doubt have guessed, I am a regular reader of a notorious left-wing magazine—I read it every week—called the Spectator. I read it to keep my blood pressure up and it works extremely well. On one occasion, a diary article by the noble Lord, Lord Moore, described me as “uxorious”. It is funny what sticks in your mind; I had to look that up and it means unnaturally devoted to marriage. That is my final defence, my Lords.

Motion agreed.