FORMER Welsh Secretary John Redwood was embroiled in another row over single mothers last night after saying he was fed up of "lies" over remarks he made after a visit to a Cardiff estate 14 years ago.
He was widely criticised as vilifying one-parent families in a speech he gave after a tour of the capital's St Mellons estate in 1993.
But he insists he merely called for absent fathers to make a contribution to their children's upbringing, and that he then became an early victim of Labour spin.
Yesterday the row blew up again after he was asked about his "vicious attacks on single mothers" in a newspaper question-and-answer session - and his answer prompted claims from Labour he was trying to rewrite history.
The MP told The Independent, "I made just one speech on welfare reform on 2 July 1993 which contained only two paragraphs on single parents ... It was far gentler than most of the things that have been said on this subject by the current government. I said, 'It must be right, before granting state aid [to a single mother] to pursue the father and see whether it is possible for the father to make a financial contribution or even a fuller contribution by offering the normal love and support that fathers have offered down the ages to their families.'
"It encapsulated the thinking that lay behind the subsequent bipartisan support for the proposal that fathers should be asked to contribute financially to the upbringing of their children."
Labour MEP Glenys Kinnock said, "It is no surprise to people in Wales that the Tories are trying to rewrite history. The Tory onslaught against single mothers when they were in power was despicable, just as it is now despicable to try and pretend it never happened."
But Mr Redwood said her claims were "a complete and utter lie".
He said, "I had countless letters in the past [about the speech] and I send everybody the speech. They always write back and say 'We want the real speech' but that is the real speech."
He said Labour politicians had "attributed to me all sorts of things I didn't say" in the wake of his 1993 speech.
"I was a pioneer for the argument for a Child Support Agency, saying fathers should at least make a financial contribution. I said nothing negative at all. Go back and read the speech. There is a copy in the House of Commons library. I am telling the truth, they are just fibbing."
He later contacted the Western Mail to underline that his speech had not been an attack on single mothers and that Mrs Kinnock's remarks were "ridiculous".
Mrs Kinnock said, "People in Wales have long memories and we do not want to return to the Tory past of chronic under-investment in the NHS as much as we don't want to return to the days when the Tories held women back.
"This May's Assembly elections are a straight choice between Labour and the Tories. Women don't need reminding how the Tories talked single mums down and will remember that Labour is talking them up."
Mr Redwood, the MP for Wokingham, remains a controversial figure in Wales, where he was Secretary of State from 1993 to 1995. He returned £100m of the Welsh Office budget unspent to the Treasury in 1995, and was famously caught on camera failing to follow the words to Hen Wlad fy Nhadau at a party conference. The latter incident is still frequently referred to by Labour politicians.
He is a member of David Cameron's front-bench team, and yesterday he called for an "English votes for English issues" system for MPs, saying the devolution settlement had been "botched".