The British economy needs a strong family policy and more children to generate growth, a Christian MP has told the National Conservatism Conference meeting at Emmanuel Church in Westminster.
“The western world is facing population collapse," Miriam Cates MP says. Speaking after her speech to Premier Christian News, she said that, with a birth rate of just 1.5 children per woman, it would take just a couple of generations for the number of babies being born now to halve.
“Why is that a problem?” she queries. “It's a problem because the older population will have grown quite significantly," she says. “And if we want to fund things like health care and social care, we are going to have to have a working age population that can pay tax for them."
Miriam Cates also criticised what she calls Britain’s “recklessly liberal immigration policy," which she says has seen the “demand for housing soar and a failure to build enough houses has kept prices sky high and out of the reach of young people.”
The 'Red Wall' MP who won her northern seat from Labour in 2019 says she opposes the stance taken by the Archbishop of Canterbury towards the Government’s Illegal Migration Bill, a policy Most Rev Justin Welby has called “morally unacceptable”.
Under the Home Secretary’s measures, migrants crossing the channel on small boats will be removed – as soon as possible. They’ll also be banned from claiming asylum, from now or in the future - or ever returning to Britain.
According to Miriam Cates, legal routes to immigration won’t solve population decline, as new arrivals will only have a short-term impact on increasing the working age population.
“What the statistics show is that over time, immigrant communities gradually reduce their birth rates to a similar birth rate to the native population”, she told Premier. “So it doesn't solve the problem over long term”.
In her conference speech, the MP criticised the ‘political narrative’ in Britain towards families and having children, which said undermined family formation. She also struck out at her own party’s budget policy:
“The Chancellor’s recent announcement that the taxpayer will spend four billion pounds on childcare for babies from 9 months old to get women back into work devalues the crucial role of motherhood”, she told the National Conservatism Conference.
Miriam Cates explained to Premier that family and economic policy needed to considered together:
“If your taxation system discourages the family and discourages young people and children, if you have huge numbers of people going to university and facing crippling student debt, those are the roots of unproductivity," she said.
“They not only put a kibosh on the economy, but also prevent people from starting families. So the two go hand in hand."