HC Deb 30 March 1995 vol 257 cc1165-6
1. Mr. Steen

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will provide a series of financial incentives to marriages which last (a) 10 years, (b) 20 years and (c) 30 years. [15275]

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Sir George Young)

While I strongly believe in the institution of marriage, I see difficulties in introducing the concept of a loyalty bonus into the married couple's allowance.

Mr. Steen

The Government offer a disloyalty bonus to broken marriages by providing all sorts of state benefits. Although virtue has its own reward, in a highly materialistic society surely we should give some reward to those people who follow Government policies. Just as there are financial incentives to preserve the environment by using unleaded petrol, for example, could we not have some financial incentive for those who preserve the family, such as an anniversary award for those who stay married?

Sir George Young

A marriage that endures happily for 30 years is its own reward. I am not sure whether the Inland Revenue could significantly enhance that reward. We certainly use the tax system to influence economic behaviour, but I pause before accepting my hon. Friend's proposition that we should use the tax system to encourage people to like each other and continue to live with each other.

Mr. Ashton

If the Minister cannot give financial rewards to people like me with 37 years' service, could he hand out a tin hat and a medal and arrange for a day such as VE day when we can celebrate the battles and wars that we have had and enjoy a proper anniversary?

Sir George Young

I hope that the hon. Gentleman and his wife have the ingenuity and the resources to celebrate each year of their infinitely happy marriage. I am sure that in the current framework of the Labour party he would not want to advocate any expenditure of public money on celebrating his marriage.

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