BASINGSTOKE MP Maria Miller was firmly in the spotlight at the Conservative Party conference as she made a robust defence of the institution of marriage.

In a speech which attracted national headlines, the mother-of-three – who has been married for 19 years to her lawyer husband Iain – told delegates at the Manchester conference a strong family is society’s best support system.

She said: “The Conservative Party unashamedly supports families and unashamedly supports marriage. This is what most people aspire to, and the Conservative Party has always been the party of aspiration.”

The Shadow Minister for the Family, who has been tipped for promotion to a Cabinet post if the Conservatives win the next General Election, insisted the Tories would not ditch their pledge to offer tax breaks to married couples.

A pledge to improve Sure Start children’s centres was another key element of the Basingstoke MP’s speech.

For more on Mrs Miller's speech, see the Monday Gazette.