"SINGLE parents should be paid to stay at home and look after their children rather than be forced back to work, Scotland's children's tsar said yesterday, as she highlighted the "damaging effect" government policies were having on childhoods...
Mrs Marshall told The Scotsman last night: "While people talk about the material advantage that children have these days, there is a very serious question to be addressed about how much we are squeezing out of their lives in terms of real, valuable contact with adults. The time parents have to spend with their children is becoming ever smaller because of work.
"And as for single mothers of young children, there should be the option of being supported at home by the state if need be, rather than them going back to work. All these things need to be factored into the equation by the Scottish Executive when they are drawing up policy."
The proposition that single mothers should be paid by the state rather than going back to work is an interesting idea. But why is Mrs Marshall floating it in The Scotsman? As children's commissioner, she has direct access to the Executive and to Parliament. Has she raised it with them and, if so, what was the outcome?
And would this new subvention to single mothers only be available to those who were previously in work? What about unemployed single women who become mothers? Or, indeed, single fathers? How would it fit with existing maternity benefits paid by employers or the wider benefits system financed by the state? How long would the subvention be payable - until the child goes to nursery or school or for longer?
If Mrs Marshall has thought the matter through, then let us hear it properly. It is surely not for the children's commissioner to seek to influence policy by a casual remark to a newspaper.