A Private Member's motion, seeking the establishment of proper family values and the protection of the nation's children, has been referred to a Joint Select Committee of the House of Representatives for further debate.
Minister of Education and Leader of Government Business, Hon. Andrew Holness, while contributing to the motion in Gordon House on Wednesday January 27, said it was time for Jamaica to establish a comprehensive policy on the family.
"We have several pieces of legislation and several policy documents on aspects of family life, but no comprehensive policy on the family," he said, recommending that the debate be referred to a Joint Select Committee, which would make their recommendations in a report to Parliament to start the process of developing a policy on the family.
He said out of that policy, there could very well come other pieces of legislation that would reinforce and support the Jamaican family.
The Education Minister, however, noted that developing a policy around the family would not be an easy task.
"There are many complicated issues, many deeply held positions and many culturally and socially entrenched positions that would come into conflict with any form of cohesive movement towards a unified vision as to what the Jamaican family ought to be," the Minister said.
Mr. Holness also said that the National Parenting Policy would be before the House for further deliberation early next month. The policy has already been approved by the Human Resource Committee of the Cabinet.
He stated that the vision of the parenting policy is to see that all parents recognise and accept their duty to ensure that the rights of children are upheld, the best interest of children are promoted. And also that the children are always loved and provided with opportunities and resources to achieve their full potential and ultimate fulfillment within a safe, caring and nurturing environment.
The Education Minister noted that the parenting policy has five goals, one of which is to ensure that Jamaicans make wise choices about becoming parents and making parenting a priority.
"It is not so much as having fewer children. It is having children that you can support. You should ensure that you govern your fertility by your earning ability," the Education Minister stated.
On Wednesday, a significant number of MPs responded to the motion, which was brought to Parliament by North East St. Catherine MP, Gregory Mair.
Contributors included South Central St. Catherine MP, Sharon Hay-Webster, MP for South East St. Ann, Lisa Hanna, North Clarendon MP, Laurie Broderick, South West St. Ann MP, Ernie Smith and Central Kingston MP, Ronald Thwaites.
CONTACT: ATHALIAH REYNOLDS