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Monday, October 21, 2002

Britons at home

The BBC's 'Today' programme reported this morning [sorry for poor link] that almost one in four young people (i.e. those in their late teens and twenties) is 'choosing' to live at home. Interestingly, more than one in four blokes but rather fewer girls make up this statistic.

In this respect, we are becoming more like the continentals, where family ties seem to be tighter. Several reasons, including economics, were suggested for this change. High property prices, making leaving home too expensive, was the principal.

The discussion covered the problem of learning to share accommodation before forming a stable relationship. There is something in this. It is important to learn how to get on with other people. However, there is another way to the look at it.

During the day, one has the opportunity to be with colleagues so one can learn the nuances of social interaction then. The home environment, though, can provide the opportunity to learn to be an individual, in one's own right. Too often, people form relationships out of loneliness rather than from genuine affection - they see themselves defined by their relationships rather than by their own integrity. It is critical for young people to learn to be alone and not to fear solitude. Therefore, I would like to make flat-sharing illegal unless certain conditions are met.

When I am Home Secretary, I shall make it the law that all young people, blokes especially, have to live alone for two years before they are allowed to share accommodation or, even more important, to cohabit or get married.

People with the ability to be content while alone, make much nicer company.

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