A debate on dads in the House of Commons yesterday attracted comments from a range of MPs who are supportive of moves to make life easier for working dads.
Helping working dads spend more time with their families is ‘good economics, but also really good politics’, according to a former government minister who led a debate on the topic in Westminster this week.
Tracey Crouch, the former sports minister, called a debate titled ‘Early parenthood: supporting fathers’ in which she also paid tribute to workingdads.co.uk for being at the forefront of efforts to improve flexible working opportunities for fathers.
In her speech Crouch said: “There are still huge issues around discrimination in maternity and everything else – but that must not mean that we forget the issues that fathers face, and that is why this is an important debate.”
Crouch, who resigned last year on a point of principle after the government sought to delay measures restricting the use of gambling machines, summed up by saying: “Ultimately, if we accept that meaningful fatherly engagement with their children is good for the health and wellbeing not just of the child but also the dad, making sure that we provide the infrastructure to support them, from neonatal to perinatal and beyond, is simply common sense, fair and equal – good economics but also really good politics.”
Other speakers at the debate included a string of young Conservative MPs who are also either dads or dads-to-be, suggesting the issue has strong support among members of the government.
Crouch focussed on loneliness among new fathers and issues around shared parental leave and flexible working in her opening remarks.
Walsall North MP Eddie Hughes, a former engineer, questioned whether flexible working was practical on a building site like the ones he used to work on. However, he called on the government to look at the rate of statutory pay for men on paternity leave. That theme was echoed by the SNP’s spokesman David Linden who also called for changes in the shared parental leave system. He said: “I have a degree of frustration about shared parental leave. I do not like the idea that we say, ‘You’ve got a certain amount of time, and the dad takes time at the expense of the mum.’ I would like dads to get a bit longer for paternity leave.”
Current minister Jackie Doyle-Price was put up by the government to respond to the debate. She said she recognised there’s work to do, but insisted the government was committed to making things easier for working fathers. She told the chamber: “Employers in particular fields of employment are less than understanding about the fact that family is dad’s work as well as mum’s. That is something that we need to tackle.”