We must prioritise saving marriage, says Deech

By Jessica Elgot, February 10, 2011
Baroness Deech

Baroness Deech

The Chief Rabbi has urged the coalition to make marriage a firm part of its commitment to the "Big Society."

At Thursday's Lords debate on marriage and support in British society, Lord Sacks was due to argue that married parents better equip children for the tougher economic and social conditions, which are likely to lie ahead.

He described marriage as the best way to form a strong family, a "publicly demonstrated act of commitment".

He also argued that because marriage and parenthood was valued so highly in Judaism, the community had contributed disproportionately to British society.

Baroness Ruth Deech, a former member of the Jewish Leadership Council, was also due to speak in the debate. She argued that the government should give people a longer "cooling-off" period before divorce. Baroness Deech, who is chair of the Bar Standards committee, urged the government not to legislate further to give cohabiting couples the same rights as those who are married. She said: "The construction of a forced law of cohabitation may deter even more men from making any commitment at all, let alone marriage. "

The peeress believed that saving marriages would save the government money in legal aid, which is being cut by £350m by the Justice Ministry. The overall costs of family breakdown have been estimated at between £24bn and £40bn and a quarter of all criminal justice expenditure is attributable to family breakdown.

Lady Deech added: "We need to hear ministers speak of marriage with the same enthusiasm that they infuse into discussions about, say, the environment. Being married is, after all, the most public way that men and women have ever been able to invent, over thousands of years, of showing their permanent bond with each other and their families."

Last updated: 9:57am, February 11 2011