Letter: Birth rights

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Sir: Permit me to tell you a modern 'tale of two cities'. I have two daughters, who have been blessed recently with healthy babies within weeks of each other. One lives in London, the other in Paris. The difference in their experiences is illuminating.

My daughter in London received 90 per cent of her salary as maternity benefit for six weeks, then approximately pounds 40 a week for a further 10 weeks. My daughter in Paris received 100 per cent of her salary for 16 weeks, plus, from the third month of her pregnancy, pounds 80 a month benefit in addition to her salary. Her health service hospital in Paris provided a permanent telephone at her bedside. Her husband was granted three days' paid statutory leave of absence from his job after the birth.

When both daughters return to work, my daughter in Paris will be able to place her son in a government-subsidised creche, a facility not available to my daughter in London. Either we are now a poor country, or one singularly bereft of ideas or social conscience.

Yours etc,


Stanmore, Middlesex

17 December