Blair paternity leave welcomed by Catholic Children's Society

 Last night's announcement that Prime Minister Tony Blair is to take two weeks' paternity leave has been welcomed by Jim Richards, director the Catholic Children's Society. However he said: "Of course he must make his own private arrangements, but I feel it is right that he is taking this time off. And I hope that during this fortnight he has time to think about other parents in this country who aren't able to take leave when they have a new baby, and don't have the privileges the Blairs enjoy. "In fact parents in this country have one of the worst paternity and maternity leave arrangements in the whole European Community. In Sweden for example, fathers can take ten days leave after the birth and then a further four weeks during the child's first year. They can also swap leave entitlement with their partner. "Parents don't just need support in the weeks after a child's birth. That's when everyone wants to pitch in. It is in the months and years afterwards that they need time off. I hope Tony Blair begins to think about this now and gets Britain more in line with our European counterparts." Since the birth on Saturday, messages of goodwill have been pouring into Number Ten Downing Street. On Sunday the Prime Minister and his other children - Kathryn, 12, Nicky, 14 and Euan, 16, slipped into Westminster Cathedral, sitting quietly at the back. After Mass they chatted with crowds and posed for pictures on the Cathedral steps. Looking tired but smiling broadly, Mr Blair said: "It definitely wasn't a quiet time, but it was absolutely fine." Parishioners in the Blairs' home constituency of Sedgefield are speculating on where baby Leo will be baptised. The parish priest, Fr John Caden from St John Fisher's church in Sedgefield said he would not be surprised if the Blairs opted for a service at Westminster Cathedral - as it would be closer to home and security would be easier to manage.

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