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The question Marriage, kids and tax benefits

This week William Hague announced plans for the Conservatives to introduce special tax allowances for married couples with children under the age of 11. So we ask: How important is it to marry before starting a family?

Marriage indicates commitment. It is no surprise that there is evidence to show that marriage forms a much more stable platform for relationships and in particular for the bringing up of children.

Thus it is disappointing that both Conservative and Labour governments have eroded the tax benefits to married people.

The same applies to the nonworking spouse situation; the non-working spouse's tax allowance should be transferred to the earning spouse.

Graeme Monteith, 53, sales director, Glasgow People don't need to be married to start a family, they just need to realise that your life moves from 'before children' to 'after children' and nothing is ever the same again. Education would be of greater benefit than money but if there is money going I'll have some of it!

Jim Fennell, 33, information systems manager, Belfast Children need the care, love and discipline that a married couple can give. They need to understand the fundamental building blocks of life, which include social behaviour as well as understanding rights and wrongs. The future depends on how we bring up our children, and what standards we teach them. The fundamental issue here is that couples must want to have children and that they understand and are prepared to take on the enormous responsibility that it imposes on them. It is not a question of whether they are married or not. Our generation has devalued marriage. It is a sad reflection of our times that marriage will not bring stability to the family - as long as we are more interested in our own well-being we will continue to dump the family when the going gets tough. So you can see, tax breaks will not improve the moral standards of our nation. You can't buy family standards (but the money would come in handy).

Jeremy Osborne, 38, project engineer, Warrington I may belong to the 'old school' but I believe that people should get married before they start a family.

Children have a right to be born into a properly constituted family, where the parents have agreed to love one another and stay together and bring up their children properly and safely. It can be done without the marriage vows, but history and experience shows that it is much more difficult and often fails, to the detriment of the children. Taxes should not encourage or favour such behaviour.

Ron Rakusen, 60, director, Hong Kong Extremely important. Marriage is the mainstay of society and for children.

RJ Herd, 70, retired

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