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Iain Duncan Smith call on May to support marriage

A powerful group of Tory MPs yesterday pressed Theresa May to do more to support marriage and the family.

The 44 MPs, including three former Cabinet ministers, called for bigger tax breaks for married couples and for school pupils to be taught the benefits of marriage.

Their 18-point family manifesto said that fatherhood should be promoted and fathers helped to assume their family responsibilities. It said that ‘couple penalties’ in the tax and benefit system that encourage mothers and fathers to live apart should be removed.

A powerful group of Tory MPs including Secretary Iain Duncan Smith yesterday pressed Theresa May to do more to support marriage and the family

A powerful group of Tory MPs including Secretary Iain Duncan Smith yesterday pressed Theresa May to do more to support marriage and the family

The manifesto also called for a Cabinet minister to be made responsible for families and said that every Whitehall department should have a minister charged with ensuring its policies were family-friendly.

The move follows signs of unhappiness among Tory backbenchers at lack of progress on help for couples to stay together and to form stable families.

Last week former Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith – one of the signatories of the new ‘manifesto to strengthen families’ – complained that ‘opinion formers’ in Whitehall are preparing to cut a £70 million programme of support for relationship counselling organisations.

Mrs May dropped David Cameron’s longstanding pledge to encourage marriage from the Tory election manifesto this year and her family policies remain obscure.

The new paper was signed by 44 Tory MPs and eight peers. Alongside Mr Duncan Smith backers included former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan and former Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman, together with the influential backbench figure of Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee.

One of the 44, Congleton MP Fiona Bruce, said family life must be strengthened ‘if the Government is to achieve its welcome aims to increase social mobility, deliver social justice, and make Britain a country that works for everyone, not just a privileged few.’

The 44 MPs, including three former Cabinet ministers, called for bigger tax breaks for married couples and for school pupils to be taught the benefits of marriage

The 44 MPs, including three former Cabinet ministers, called for bigger tax breaks for married couples and for school pupils to be taught the benefits of marriage

Families, she added, ‘are also vital for our economic competitiveness.

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