Tory MP: We should judge parents who split up

Politicians should judge parents who split up and criticise their life choices, a prominent Tory MP has said.

Speaking during a Westminster Hall debate, Gerald Howarth told fellow MPs that they were entitled to be "judgemental" about the public because the public were always judging politicians.

"We cannot afford to continue subsidising people who live these kind of dysfunctional lifestyles," he said.

"Am I being judgemental in an age when such approach is deemed inappropriate? Of course I'm being judgemental.

"For the sake of the country, we need to be judgmental. Besides, there are plenty of people who never cease to be judgmental about members of parliament."

He added: "Some will say that in a free society people should be entitled to live any lifestyle they want. However, overwhelmingly it is the taxpayer who is picking up the tab, so the state cannot be an idle bystander."

Fellow Tory MP Edward Leigh said family breakdown had become a "modern plague" and blamed a "conspiracy of silence" perpetrated by the Church, the BBC, parliament and the press.

"In our permissive society a view has grown up that people are happiest if they are totally liberated. It is about 'me'," he said.

"We are told Britain has changed and we have to accept it but don't we have a responsibility to speak out for what’s right?"

The comments come as Tory grandee and former Cabinet minister Douglas Hurd warned against the rise of feminist thought in political circles.

Speaking at a panel on political leadership organised by Ipsos Mori, the Tory peer said voters could reject a "good looking chap from a public school" as prime minister if they wanted to.

"The danger of feminism, the danger of constantly putting near the top of agenda that there ought to be more women and more women in this and that sphere of our life, is that you balance over and you become slightly ludicrous," he said.

He branded plans for all-women shortlists "deeply undemocratic" and predicted they "will fail".