MP tells ministers: "Put feckless fathers in chains"

Politicians of all persuasions have long mulled over the challenge of making separated parents who choose not to support their children pay up.

Some of the policies implemented have had a mixed success rate. Few have suggested putting "feckless fathers....in chains".

Until now. The idea was floated by the Welsh MP David Davies, during today's debate on changes to housing benefit/bedroom tax/spare room subsidy* (delete as appropriate).

The Monmouth MP, who chairs Westminster's Welsh affairs committee, spoke of his experience meeting some of the losers from the policy for a recent BBC Wales programme.

Today, he told the House of Commons: "I think it's absolutely outrageous that so many young men in our society feel they can go out, get women pregnant, allow them to have children, make them bring them up by themselves often on benefits and then just disappear.

"It is utterly shocking and I hope that the ministers will take note of this and get hold of some of these feckless fathers, drag them off, make them work, put them in chains if necessary, make them work and make them pay back to society for the cost of bringing up the children they chose to bring into this world."

Mr Davies who met two unemployed 17-year-olds in social housing said government ministers were being far too generous in some cases. "Why should the state be paying for two people to set up in frankly a teenage lovenest? When I was 17 years old, if I wanted to see my girlfriend at the age of 17, I'd go and see her on a park bench in Newport. Why is the government paying for them to have a flat all by themselves at all, never-mind whether it's one-bedroom or two-bedroom?

"And I got into a lot a of trouble because I suggested to the young man that perhaps he should go out and find a job himself. And he said there weren't any... I said, 'Well why don't you move to where the work is' and I immediately ran into a whole load of criticism for that.

"I even had someone email me here. He said, 'You're a Christian, you should be serving the Lord, one day you will stand by the Lord and account for this hardship'.

"And I wrote back and said, 'I read my Bible, I don't see anywhere in the Bible where it says 17 year olds should be given a flat but I see plenty of examples of people who have had to move for a better way of life, whether it was Abraham going off to the Promised Land or Moses or the disciples who toured all over Europe'. They all moved."