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Two parents good says family values paper

THE first Green Paper on the family will be launched next month, as ministers set out measures to promote traditional family values.

A Government taskforce, headed by Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, has spent a year looking for ways to cut divorce rates and reverse the drop in popularity of the two-parent family. They are concerned that children who lack support at home are more likely to get into trouble at school and be socially excluded.

The centrepiece of the proposals will be a National Family and Parenting Institute to spread good practice and offer support to families.

Home-school links, family-friendly employment policies and action on domestic violence are also likely to feature. Health visitors will get an extended role in helping parents cope with young children.

The plans will be accompanied by a strong endorsement of the traditional two-parent family, although the Government is likely to stop short of condemning single mothers. Instead it will offer them support through a mentoring programme.

A Government spokesman said: "Marriage is one of society's most important institutions, and we should do all we can to help married couples."

However, the Green Paper has already attracted comparisons with John Major's ill-fated back to basics campaign. Ian Duncan-Smith, the Tory social security spokesman, said it will do little to support the family:

"Married couples do not want to be bossed around by the state."

* The scheme to help lone parents find work, training and childcare has been launched on a nationwide basis. There will be an advertising campaign for the New Deal for Lone Parents, now available for 500 000 people. The pilot scheme has been criticised because only one in 10 of those originally contacted have found work.

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