Outgoing Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks has accused David Cameron of failing to do enough to encourage marriage – and claimed multiculturalism leads to “segregation and inward looking communities”.
Lord Sacks said the Government should recognise marriage in the tax system and do more to support mothers who stay at home to look after their children.
“I think the Government has not done enough (to encourage marriage),” he said in an interview with The Times.
“Although I don’t take a political stance … I don’t think the Government has done enough at all.”
Lord Sacks – who retires on 1 September after 22 years in the post – said the estimated £9 billion-a-year cost of family breakdown and “non-marriage” meant the state had a direct interest in promoting marriage.
“(The Government) should certainly recognise marriage in the tax system, it should certainly give more support to mothers who stay at home or for childcare provision,” he said.
“I don’t believe in getting involved in the details but the principle is pretty clear.”
His comments are likely to irritate ministers as Chancellor George Osborne has already promised a tax break for married couples in his Autumn Statement, despite the opposition of the Conservatives’ coalition partners in the Liberal Democrats.
Lord Sacks also said that he believed multiculturalism in Britain had “had its day” having led to “segregation and inward looking communities”.
He likened it to a hotel where “nobody is at home”, adding: “It doesn’t belong to anyone, we’ve each got our own room and so long as we don’t disturb the neighbours we can do whatever we like.”
He however acknowledged the difficulties faced by British Muslim communities when they tried to assimilate.
“We’ve had 26 centuries of experience which most Muslims haven’t,” he said. “The norm was for Muslims to live under a Muslim jurisdiction and the norm since the destruction of the first temple was for Jews to live under a non-Jewish jurisdiction.”