In an interview in Saturday’s Daily Telegraph, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury has signaled that the Government may give tax incentives to married couples, in recogniion of their benefits to society.

The interview concentrates on traditonal, straight marriages, but under the Civil Partnership Act, all benefits offered to married couples must be offered to gay couples in civil partnerships.

Andy Burnham said there is a “moral case” promoting the benefits of marriage through the tax system.

“I think marriage is best for kids,” he said. “It’s not wrong that the tax system should recognise commitment and marriage.”

The comments stand in contrast to the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown’s speech to the Labour Party conference. Mr Brown said: “I say to the children of two parent families, one parent families, foster parent families; to the widow bringing up children: I stand for a Britain that supports as first class citizens not just some children and some families but supports all children and all families.”

Mr Brown added: “We all remember that biblical saying: ‘suffer the little children to come unto me’. No Bible I have ever read says: ‘bring just some of the children’.”

However, Mr Burham said: “I don’t seek to preach to anybody. But in an abstract way I think it’s better when children are in a home where their parents are married and I think children do notice if their parents are married or not.”

“There’s sometimes a metropolitan myth that Labour people are all a bit liberal, I don’t think the Tories should have a monopoly on this kind of thinking.”