07/28/2011 02:44 pm ET Updated Sep 27, 2011

Steve Hilton, British Prime Minister's Senior Adviser, Suggests Cutting Maternity Leave To Boost UK Economy

One of the British prime minister's most senior advisers has sparked a national row by proposing the abolition of maternity leave as part of a multifaceted plan intended to boost Britain's economy.

As the Financial Times is reporting, Steve Hilton suggested that Britain should not only abolish maternity leave for mothers, but also suspend consumer rights laws. Hilton, who is David Cameron's director of strategy, then went on to suggest the prime minister simply ignore European legislation on temporary workers.

"Steve thinks that [maternity leave is] the biggest obstacle to women finding work," one government insider is quoted as saying. "He also wanted to suspend all consumer rights legislation for nine months to see what would happen.'

Admired by Cameron for his original thinking, Hilton is an increasingly influential figure in British politics who often walks around the Prime Minister's office without shoes and is said to suggest seemingly crazy ideas merely to spark creative debate, according to the Daily Mail. Still, his latest suggestions -- which also included axing government press offices and replacing them with a blog for each department, the Telegraph reported -- have left many fellow officials feeling ruffled.

“Steve asked why the PM had to obey the law,” an insider is quoted by the Telegraph as saying. “Jeremy [Heywood, Cameron's permanent secretary] had to explain that if David Cameron breaks the law he could be put in prison.”