There was some interesting discussion on the subject of interns after my post last night about the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury's attitude to the use of free labour in parliament. Young people are now effectively paying employers to get on the first rung of their careers. I have no doubt that some people gain valuable experience in this way. But the question is, which people? As Alan Milburn's recent work on social mobility demonstrated, the professions are still largely inaccessible to all but the relatively privileged.
Make up your own mind whether Hammond's attitude is enlightened or not:
> From: HAMMOND, Philip [mailto:HAMMONDP@parliament.uk
> Sent: 12 August 2009 12:19
[Recipients and cc list removed]
> Subject: RE: Philip Hammond
> The intern system is widely used by Members in all parties. Some interns
> are extremely valuable to the Member they work with; others less so. It
> can be a lottery.
> I have two full time permanent staff paid appropriate London salaries
> and an intern in the office supplements what they do. We are all under
> intense public pressure to cut the cost of politics and I am trying to
> reduce my total expense and allowance claims (out of which staff are
> paid), NOT increase them. I would regard it as an abuse of taxpayer
> funding to pay for something that is available for nothing and which
> other Members are obtaining for nothing. I therefore have no intention
> of changing my present arrangements. If unpaid interns became
> unavailable, I would have to consider the case for employing three
> permanent staff, on lower salaries than I currently pay.
> Philip Hammond MP
> Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury