New child agency under fire

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THE Archbishop of York, Dr John Habgood, yesterday joined in the criticism of the Child Support Agency. 'A number of cases have come to me of people driven almost to bankruptcy' by the agency's demands, he told the BBC radio programme The World This Weekend, writes Colin Brown.

'The agency is a good idea that seems to have tackled its problems in rather a crass way,' he said. 'By following the kind of regulations which apparently it has had to do, it has solved the problems of the family on one level, while creating problems for the second family.'

Dr Habgood's comments were part of a more general criticism of the Government for failing to think through the effects of policies on family life. Policies on housing, on benefits and on education could affect the stability of marriage, he said, and these effects were never considered until it was too late.

'I think the amount of money devoted to Relate, formerly the Marriage Guidance Council, is indicative of the very low priority which marriage has been given,' he said.