By Joseph Willits
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Tory MP Nick de Bois has disputed claims that Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, blamed the X Factor, amongst other things, for causing the summer's nationwide riots. Speaking on Sky News yesterday, Enfield MP de Bois, said that Duncan Smith was not "trying to say the X-Factor is the cause of the riots" but that the country does not "pay enough recognition ... to the routes that people take which are hard work".
De Bois said that "the point about X-Factor is effectively about celebrity cultures, where there's this idea that you can have a bit of luck, and instant fame, instant celebrity status". This idea, he said, had been perpetuated by the media, often at the expense of "the route most people succeed by, in improving their life circumstances, which is effectively hard work and being rewarded for that.”
In an interview with yesterday's Guardian, with the headline, "X Factor culture fuelled the UK riots, says Iain Duncan Smith", the Work and Pensions Secretary said:
"If you look at the footballers, you look at our celebrity culture, we seem to be saying, 'This is the way you want to be'. We seem to be a society that celebrates all the wrong people ... Kids are meant to believe that their stepping stone to massive money is The X Factor. Luck is great, but most of life is hard work. We do not celebrate people who have made success out of serious hard work."
By Joseph Willits
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In a statement to the Commons yesterday, immediately after PMQs, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander talked of a "generous offer" being made by the Government to reform public service pensions. Alexander said he had "decided to revise the government's offer after negotiations with the TUC, since early October, and with recommendations from the Secretaries of State for Education and Health.
Alexander described the offer as "conditional upon reaching agreement" but believed it "should be more than sufficient to allow agreement to be reached with the unions". It was Alexander's hope, he said that "on the basis of this offer, the Trade Unions will devote their energy to reaching agreement not on unnecessary and damaging strike action".
Alexander announced an increase to the cost ceiling of pensions:
"Future schemes will now be based on a pension to the value of 1/60th of average salary, accruing for each year worked. That is an 8% increase on the previous offer ... A teacher with a lifetime in public service with a salary at retirement of £37,800 would receive £25,200 each year under these proposals, rather than the £19,100 they would currently earn in the final salary Teachers' Pension Scheme. A nurse with a lifetime in public service and a salary at retirement of £34,200 would receive £22,800 of pension each year if these reforms were introduced, whereas under the current 1995 NHS Pension Scheme arrangements they would only get £17,300."
The European Court of Justice has ruled today that workers on long-term sick leave will continue to accrue holiday rights. Philip Bushill-Matthews, who speaks for Conservative MEPs on employment, finds the ruling unwelcome:
"On the face of it this may seem like a good move for employees, but at this present time there is a good chance that it will just add to Britain's already critical unemployment woes.
Employers are already struggling with vast layers of employment law and bureaucracy. This ruling will not only increase employers' costs, but also their bureaucratic nightmare. Small businesses who employ just one or two members of staff will be hit especially hard.
The real issue is not whether or not this is the right decision; it is whose decision it should be. It is a fundamental concern that such decisions about the rights of British workers cannot be made by British courts."
Actually the decisions themselves should be made by the UK Parliament, not by any judiciary.
Francis Maude, Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office and Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has received yet another interesting written answer:
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what estimate the Office for National Statistics has made of the number of new additional jobs created since 1997 in the (a) public sector and (b) private sector. 
As National Statistician I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question concerning the number of new additional jobs created since 1997 in the (a) public sector and (b) private sector. (241590)
The Office for National Statistics collects employment statistics for the public sector as part of the Quarterly Public Sector Survey and for the private sector as part of the Labour Force Survey. However, statistics related to job creation are not collected.
However we can provide the growth in employment within both sectors. The data are attached at Annex A.
I am extremely surprised that the growth in public sector jobs isn't higher - I had understood that such jobs have mushroomed under Labour. Is there more to this than meets the eye?
Of course nearly 600,000 extra jobs in the public sector is not insignificant. Labour will claim them as a success - but are they merely creating client voters by drumming up jobs that the taxpayer can ill afford?
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