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Lone Parents

Volume 972: debated on Monday 22 October 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many lone-parent families there were at the recent most convenient date in (a) the whole of England and Wales, (b) the metropolitan areas, including the Greater London Council, and (c), Merseyside; and what was the corresponding figure in each case at five and 10 years previously—or the nearest available information to this.

[pursuant to her reply, 24 July 1979, c. 207–8]: Estimates of numbers of lone-parent families as defined by the Finer committee for the purposes of its inquiry and report—Cmnd. 5629 July 1974—are available only for Great Britain as a whole. The 1971 census of population gives figures for lone-parent families in particular localities, but these figures should be treated with caution because they do not follow exactly the definition of one-parent families used by the Finer committee. The census figures include, for instance, a number of unmarried couples with children and exclude a substantial proportion of young unmarried mothers who lived with their own parents.The 1971 census estimate of 607,000 lone-parent families with dependent children in Great Britain as a whole compares with an estimate of 570,000 one-parent families on the Finer definition. A discussion of the difficulties of making estimates of the number of one-parent families is contained in the September 1978 issue of "Population Trends," the quarterly journal of the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys.

The number of lone-parent families with dependent children for the localities requested, given by the 1971 census, are set out below. I am sorry that it is not possible to derive corresponding figures for earlier periods.

Estimated numbers of lone parent families: 1971 census

England and Wales546,000
Conurbations of England207,000
Merseyside conurbation16,000

These figures refer, of course, to the pre-1974 local authorities.