Thursday, July 12, 2007

More on Marriage.

Its a subject fraught with risk. But having done it once, its always easier the second time. I believe marriage is a good thing - repeating my post of last week. And I am in favour of removing the tax disadvantages that are imposed on two people when they decide to get married - and I'm in favour of removing the taxation encouragement presently given to married couples to seperate. As I expected there has been some of the "Typical Tories - knocking single mothers" - but not much of it. Perhaps we have reached the stage when we can discuss this subject rationally - without making moral judgements about people who decide to have children outside of marriage. We do not condemn this personal choice - its a matter for individual decision. But it shouldn't be encouraged by the taxation system.

I note that Gordon Brown has spotted that David Cameron is onto something here - so he's trying to make out that the tax system already encourages marriage via the Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax rules. Well, Yes - as long as you are in a position of being rich enough to pay these taxes. So its another Labour policy for the few - at the expense of the many. Interesting. From a personal perspective, I'm rather pleased that we are establishing policy that marks us out as distinctive. I don't think any of the other three main political parties will follow us down this policy road - because they will be afraid of the risk involved in tackling seriously sensitive issues.


Clear Red Water said...

"We do not condemn this personal choice - its a matter for individual decision. But it shouldn't be encouraged by the taxation system."

But then you make the massive and wrongful assumption that the tax system should ever encourage or discourage people to get married or stay single. I must admit i hold no great torch for marriage as an institution, but i am pretty sure a small tax break wouldnt factor into many peoples thinking whether firstly they would get married and secondly whether they make the tough decision to leave a marriage.

You dont concentrate on the parents you focus on the child with regards families. It is not up to politicians to judge people lifestyle choices, i am about to be a father in a cohabiting couple so i have a vested interest in this.

Answer me Glyn- what actual difference will a certificate make to me and my partners ability to bring up a child? Or perhaps what encouragment can you offer to me to get married?

If you are behind this policy then it is on you to encourage people of the benefits of marriage without resorting to judging other choices. Besides legal protection, i cannot see an actual concrete idea that would encourage me to get married. If the tax break was big enough to encourage people to get married purely on that basis i think we would marriages being formed on really shaky ground.

I am sure we have all know people who have remained doggedly in loveless marriages because of the worry of people moralising regarding that basic right to divorce.

I know this policy reads well in the Daily Mail and the Express (alongside catalogues with Gloria Hunniford and soon-to-be prince albums) but why is marriage such a good institution?

Why is marriage any more worthwhile than co habiting?

I am sure you will point to the statistics regarding staying together longer if you are married. Well do you factor in the worry and cost of divorce proceedings, child access rights, dividing up assets in courtroom into this wondeful institution? No. Are you ignorant of the high divorce rates?

The moralising has to stop with regards this. It is an out of date concept.

Anonymous said...

about people who decide to have children outside of marriage.

Being a single parent, does not always mean this. And there are an equal number of men to women who are single parents, but they have more of an option to walk away and not support their children. I don't see any one demonising them.
Single parents, also are not all on benefit.
I became a single parent due to my husband being killed in a freak motor car accident. I have worked and brought my children up with no state benefits. Not all women's especially, are as educated or confident as I am. My present partner became a single parent when his wife decided she didn't want to be a mother anymore. No benefits drawn there either.
Becoming a single parent isn't always free choice.
Marriage is just a legal process, the crux is relationships and how they work.
Morality doesn’t just have to be looked on as only pertinent in a Christian or other religious construct.
Tax incentives and market forces are not really the instruments to encourage anything other than greed – and isn't that one of the seven deadly sins

Glyn Davies said...

clear red water - The last thing I want to be is moralistic - or to suggest that any form of family cannot be a great family unit - including same sex partnerships and single parents. As valleys mam says people become single parents for all sorts of reasons. Some parents choose, but others have no choice.

The reason I think our taxation system should not discourage marriage is because, on average, the statistics tell us that it is the best arrangement for retaining the family unit. I don't believe a decision to get married should be punished by our taxation system.

I have to admit that I would be open to discussion about the best arrangement for tax rules. The reason I posted on this subject at all is that we should be able to discuss such difficult issues in an open way. I am taking an interest in why we seeem to have such problems of social disengagement with young people in Britain. And this is just one aspect of it.

I suppose that I must have a more pessimistic view of humankind than valley's mam in that I do think tax arrangements and benefits do change behavior. The more I get involved with issues around how we help vulnerable children, the more sure I am that we just cannot leave things carry on as they are doing.

And I really couldn't give a stuff what the Daily Mail thinks.

Garenig said...

Do you propose tax neutrality between marriage and cohabitation? If so, what measures do you believe would achieve that?

Clear Red Water said...


I am not having a go as it were, you are one of the most thoughtful politicians in Wales. However i still think you have it wrong, the point i am trying to make is that a marriage certificate makes no difference to a stable family.

"Do you propose tax neutrality between marriage and cohabitation? If so, what measures do you believe would achieve that?"

Thats what i mean. Surely the unit of the family (which will come in all shapes and sizes) should benefit, not a certificate waving couple.