Minor British Institutions: Teenage pregnancy

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We may not have much of an empire left, and the foreigners seem to own most of our industries, but there is one field of human endeavour where Britannia still rules: getting a bun in the oven.

The UK enjoys the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Europe, and the second highest in the world, after the US. Around 30 in every 1,000 British females aged 13 to 19 are up the duff.

Official reports put this down to low expectations and ignorance about contraception. It is usually regarded as shameful. Yet is there not a case for celebrating our youthful national fecundity?

Who wants a mum and dad in their dotage when you're in your teens? We need more young people to even up our badly ageing population, and help us compete with the Chinese and Indians.

Mussolini used to dish out medals to mums who produced lots of bambinos. We ought to think about doing the same. Maybe the Order of the Pudding Club, with a preggers Britannia as the main motif?