Clarke rebukes right wing over lone mothers 'hijack'

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The Independent Online
JOHN MAJOR avoided mention of lone mothers in his Guildhall speech while Kenneth Clarke, the Chancellor, rebuked the right wing for its preoccupation with the subject, writes Alex Renton.

But though he avoided single mothers, Mr Major returned to the themes of moral responsibility and family values. He said that among the 'basics' he wished the country to return to were self-discipline and respect for the law.

He wished to see 'a greater acceptance of personal responsibility,' and parents involved in teaching children 'the values of our society as well as family obligations.'

'Some will say these values are obvious,' he went on. 'If so why have so many people forgotten them?' On Channel 4 News Mr Clarke said the 'back to basics' theme 'had been hijacked by this rather curious debate about important social issues which has gone off in some rather off-beat tracks in the last week or two.'

He said that most single motherhood was a reflection of 'some personal tragedy or other in the light of a mother who has been abandoned'.

He added, in an implicit rebuke to claims by right-wing Tories - including some of his Cabinet colleagues - that teenagers become pregnant to increase their benefits: 'If there are people who become pregnant after consulting their welfare rights officer, I think there are very few.'