Advanced search

WEBCHAT GUIDELINES 1. One question per member plus one follow-up. 2. Keep your question brief. 3. Don't moan if your question doesn't get answered. 4. Do be civil/polite. More here.

Live webchat with shadow family minister Maria Miller, Thurs 17 July.

(50 Posts)
GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 15-Jul-08 11:57:44

Maria Miller, shadow minister for the family, is joining us for a live webchat this Thursday between 1pm and 2pm, to chat about work-life balance from an MP's perspective.

Maria, who has three children, had a high-profile career in marketing, advertising and PR before becoming Conservative MP for Basingstoke in 2005. You can read more about her life on her website.

If you can't make it on the day but have something you'd like to ask Maria, please post your questions in advance here. Otherwise, see you Thursday.

LittleBella Thu 17-Jul-08 13:23:21


<smacked wrist icon>

MariaMiller Thu 17-Jul-08 13:24:42

Dear LittleBella. Good question. This is something that has receieved a lot of media attention because the Government is in the process of significantly tightening the rules for lone parents. By the time of the next General Election, there will be a situation where lone parents with children over the age of 7 will no longer receieve income support and will have been transferred to jobseeker's allowance. You have raised a number of important points and I am concerned that though lone parents have the opportunity to work they are not forced to work hours which are completely incomptaible with good parenting. It is our policy to give all parents with children under the age of 18 the right to seek flexible working from their employers.

LittleBella Thu 17-Jul-08 13:26:13

MM it is your policy to make Lone Parents work 30 hours a week. My question was, why is it the State's business how many hours I week? I already have flexible working and I am happy with 20 hours, why is your party telling me I have to do 30?

Please answer my question.

ruddynorah Thu 17-Jul-08 13:26:39

it is very easy though for an employer to refuse a request.

MariaMiller Thu 17-Jul-08 13:30:44

Dear myredcardigan, I'm glad you support our proposal on splitting parental leave grin. The problem we still face is that the UK has one of the biggest gender pay gap in Europe- 20% higher than the EU average- because at the moment all maternity benefits are loaded on the female. What we need to see is for parents to be given the choice to share the responsibility and share the time off work to look after their children. By giving both parents the opportunity to take parental leave after the birth of a child, we are also recognising that many more fathers want to have the opportunity to play an active part in their children's early years.

calypso7 Thu 17-Jul-08 13:31:03

Hi Maria, I've read on several occasions about that Gordon Brown is a total workaholic and is up at 5am every morning to get to work - don't you think the Leaders should set an example? Isn't that the way to initiate a change? How does David Cameron balance his work/family life? Is he a workaholic too?

LittleBella Thu 17-Jul-08 13:32:42

Or am I wrong about the 30 hours Maria? I certainly remember reading that the Tories will require Lone Parents to work a minimum of 30 hours a week and I remember feeling astonished that they had such an interventionist approach to an individual's career. It struck me as most un-tory, which is why I would like someone from the tory party to tell me whether this is actually your policy and if so, why the Tories have strayed so far from their basic principles of not interfering unduly with private citizens. And since you're here Maria, it would be nice if you would clarify. smile

cinzia Thu 17-Jul-08 13:33:54

Would you honestly, hand-on-heart, recommend being a woman MP?

MariaMiller Thu 17-Jul-08 13:33:58

Dear LittleBella. Sorry you thought I didnt answer your question. blush Yes, this Government policy and we have no plans to change it. But as I said before, we need to make sure that the definition of a reasonable job under the jobseekers allowance will not stop parents bringing up children the way they want to.

Graciefer Thu 17-Jul-08 13:34:46

Hi Maria, as a mother of two young boys who both have disabilities, I wanted to know, what if any plans does your party have to help carers either remain in employment or indeed return to some form of employment?

MariaMiller Thu 17-Jul-08 13:39:32

Dear Calypso7, thanks for your question. Spot on. Everyone in a position of leadership, whatever type of organisation, sets the pace. I know from my time working in the advertising industry that people can fall in to the trap of simply being there rather than focussing on doing a good job. I'm sure being PM is tough though! I'm not sure it is easy for Gordon Brown to be a good role model in that job. David Cameron has 3 young children like me and I know that he makes sure that he is around as much as he can be to support his family. He told me that he makes sure he is there for bath time at least once a week... Better than some...and he doesnt get up at 5am, at least not to call me!

MariaMiller Thu 17-Jul-08 13:42:26

Dear Cinzia- that's a tough one wink. Im sure being an MP isnt for everybody. I really enjoy having the opportunity to bring a working mother's perspective to parliament. But if we're going to get more women to be MP's, we need to make more changes to the way parliament works- it doesn't feel very family-friendly to work until 10:30pm two nights a week. I'm working on it!

ruddynorah Thu 17-Jul-08 13:45:41

depends how you look at it, or what time you start. i finish at 11 pm or midnight 4 nights a week. but then i don't start until 5pm, after my husband has finished at 3pm. it's very family friendly smile

i think a lot of people expect these 'family friendly' hours to be basically 9.30 til 3pm or something.

LittleBella Thu 17-Jul-08 13:46:43

Maria it is not correct to state that it is government policy to insist that lone parents work 30 hours a week. But I do want to know if it's Conservative Party Policy and if so, why, if the individual lone parent can live perfectly comfortably on the wages for 20 hours work.

I'm sorry but I don't believe you have engaged with the substance of my question.

Sorry for banging on, but I'd like this answered because I've read that this is policy but whenever I ask anyone from the Tory party about it, they will neither confirm nor deny it. If you don't know, that's fine, just say so. smile

emmybel Thu 17-Jul-08 13:48:09

Do you think you'll see a woman Prime Minister in your life-time?

MariaMiller Thu 17-Jul-08 13:48:10

Dear Graciefer- one of the most difficult problems facing carers of disabled children is finding childcare. Many parents find getting back into the workplace difficult because there local chilcarers may not have the necessary expertise. I would like more support given to the national childminding networks to provide training and support on caring for children with disabilities. This Monday I went to a Children's Centre to meet childminders who care for disabled children and talked to them about the support they get- it would be good to see similar schemes nationwide. Thanks for your question.

MariaMiller Thu 17-Jul-08 13:50:41

Dear LittleBella, I think you are thinking of the report issued by Iain Duncan Smith MP and the Centre for Social Justice. It isnt our policy, but they are reccommendations to the Shadow Cabinet.

emmybel Thu 17-Jul-08 13:52:29

And a follow up - were you sad to see Hilary Clinton out of the running to be the Democratic candidate? (from a women's point of view that is).

LittleBella Thu 17-Jul-08 13:52:59

Ah so not policy yet, if ever. Thank you.

MariaMiller Thu 17-Jul-08 13:54:06

Dear Emmybell, I decided I wanted to be involved in politics when there was a female PM! winkThe biggest problem we face is the low number of women MP's at the moment- I was the 277th ever female MP. To esnure we get another woman Prime Minister, we need more women putting themselves forward for parliament. Why don't you have a go?

MariaMiller Thu 17-Jul-08 13:56:55

...and, thinking about Hillary Clinton, I think it was sad that she didnt make it as the Democratic candidate. But I wonder whether part of her problem was that she wasn't dealing with issues facing women as they are today. I think Obama has a better grasp of the issues affecting modern families in the US.

MariaMiller Thu 17-Jul-08 14:01:19

Well, it has been great chatting on here. Thank you for having me, and tolerating my slow typing! I must go back to the Big House to vote. p.s. I didnt do the typing, it was my 22 year old male assistant! blush

hunkermunker Thu 17-Jul-08 14:29:55

Dammit - too late for another question - where do I get a 22-year-old male assistant?

Thank you for answering my question - would love to know how many months after you had your babies you returned to work and whether you found work compatible with breastfeeding, if that was what you did. But too late, I know [dammit]

[watches MM's career nosedive as she gets hooked on MN and hasn't time to do anything else]

PersephoneSnape Thu 17-Jul-08 23:18:05

<<glances down at hands on keyboard just to ensure that she isn't actually invisible>>

gosh, thanks for such a detailed response regarding tax credits, child poverty and lone parents. hmm

I'm tired, I can barely scrape together sarcasm.

Katisha Fri 18-Jul-08 08:30:03

Yes... I really don't think the answer to everything is more women MPs which MM seemed pretty fixated upon and also brought it up at the launch as one of her main points...

The idea of this Home Front thing is to say that it's not all about mothers. It's not about working mothers battling to change the system (that has been going on for ages). It's about getting across the idea that is is about parents, both sexes. Therefore male MPs should also consider it their duty and right to work hours that don't isolate them from their families, and that should become the attitude across society in general.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now