Tebbit attacks childcare policy

Hillingdon Times: Former Tory chairman Lord Tebbit has criticised the coalition's flagship childcare policy Former Tory chairman Lord Tebbit has criticised the coalition's flagship childcare policy

Former Tory chairman Lord Tebbit has criticised the coalition's flagship childcare policy, saying mothers or fathers should be encouraged to stay at home to raise their children.

He said helping parents to stay at home would help save taxpayers' money because it could reduce the cost of coping with family break-ups.

Lord Tebbit, who claimed the coalition was "past its sell-by date" and should split, said he was not "terribly impressed" with the policy of offering working parents a tax break of up to £2,000 to help with the costs of childcare.

The scheme, jointly launched by David Cameron and Nick Clegg and due to come into effect in autumn 2015, will help around 1.9 million families with children aged under 12 where both parents work, at a cost of around £750 million.

But giving a "state of the Conservative Party" lecture to the Bow Group think tank, Lord Tebbit said people should face up to the choices that being a parent involves.

"I'm not terribly impressed with the idea of subsidising people who both want to have children and to go to work, both members of the family," he said.

"There are choices which have to be made."

He said the Tories should "t hink about how we could encourage mothers, normally, or even fathers to look after their own children, bring them up in the family".

"I think that would save a lot of money in the longer run as we look at the costs of family break-ups," he added.

Turning to efforts to modernise Parliament he said: "Where I see credence being given to the demands of an MP to take a baby through the division lobbies, to change the House of Commons to make it child friendly and things like that, I say to myself 'why don't you make up your mind what you want to do? Do you want to be a mother looking after your own children or do you want to be a politician?'

"When I was elected to the House of Commons I left my flying career. I couldn't continue with it, it was incompatible with being a member of the House of Commons."

Lord Tebbit was scathing about the Tory response to the rise of Ukip, and advocated local pacts with Nigel Farage's party at the 2015 general election.

He said: "At present, if the former Conservative voters who had been defecting to Ukip were to come back home, we would be well placed to win in 2015.

"But the Conservative leadership has had a very curious way of trying to persuade them to return, they have gone out of their way to refer to them as swivel-eyed loonies, fruitcakes, nutcases."

He said that if the Ukip bubble had not burst by 2015 "I would favour local deals to be made on the basis that the prime thing on which we and Ukip agree is that we do not want a Labour or a Lib-Lab government".

"So where we look at a constituency we should say, first of all, who has the best chance of ensuring that we do not get a Liberal or Labour member elected in that constituency," he said.

"If it's a Conservative then Ukip ought to withdraw and support us. If it looks to be Ukip then we should withdraw and tell our voters they should go that way."

Acknowledging the difficulties that Tories faced on the doorstep, he told the meeting that candidates should consider ditching the traditional Conservative rosette.

"One has to keep persisting and if necessary you canvass without a blue rosette in order to open the conversation, you say 'I'm canvassing and I want to know what you think about'," he said.

"That's the first thing you need to say in canvassing and I think we need a good few classes in canvassing techniques."

Lord Tebbit, who did not support the decision to govern with Mr Clegg's Liberal Democrats, called for the coalition to end as soon as possible.

"Now I think that the coalition has indeed gone past its sell-by date, it's beginning to smell a bit like that," he said. "I cannot conceive how we can carry on governing as a coalition with ministers attacking the Government's own policies, it doesn't make sense to me.

"I think the sooner the coalition is broken, the better."

Lord Tebbit, who in 1990 proposed his ''cricket test'', suggesting that immigrants should back the England team rather than that of their country of origin, warned of "voluntary apartheid" in the UK unless newcomers to the country were prepared to integrate.

"We have to understand the advantages and disadvantages of immigration. What it really amounts to is if people want to come here to work and to integrate, they should be reasonably welcomed, why ever not? We owe a great deal to those immigrants."

Recalling the Christmas dinner he ate while visiting his wife in hospital after the Brighton bombing, he said he laughed at the surgeons carving the traditional turkey dinner.

Asked why he was laughing he said: " Well look at you: he's a Jew, he's a Palestinian, he's a Syrian, I forget what the other one was. I said 'there's not a God damn Christian amongst you', but they had absorbed completely the culture of that hospital and they had added something quite significantly great to it.

"If we look at immigration in that way and we are adamant that we do not go down the ruinous and dangerous path of multiculturalism then that's great.

"But multiculturalism is the smashing of society. A society is identified by its culture.

"You can't have two radically different cultures vying with each other in one society. If you are not careful you build Bantustans rather like in South Africa in the apartheid days. You get a voluntary apartheid system and that is inimical to a decent society."

But he said the European Union meant that the country was "not able to have sensible policies" on immigration, and he expressed scepticism about the Prime Minister's plan to renegotiate the UK's relationship with Brussels.

While he supported Mr Cameron's aims, Lord Tebbit added: " If he thinks he is going to renegotiate away the commitment to an ever closer union, no he is not.

"Even if the leaders of Europe's governments were sympathetic to some of that, the bureaucracy in Brussels would block it and block it and block it."

Lord Tebbit also admitted that he was concerned about the electoral impact of the "bedroom tax" changes to housing benefits for social tenants with spare rooms.

"I worry about what Labour chooses to call the bedroom tax, because so often what is a spare room is in fact a vital part of looking after an elderly person," he said.

"It enables their relatives to come, it enables carers to be there and things of that kind. I think we introduced that rather without thinking it through very well and I think that's costing us support."

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