Conservative Diary

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John Hutton to advise George Osborne on public sector pensions

The Coalition's big tent just got a bit bigger.

Speaking on Andrew Marr's Sunday morning programme, George Osborne announced that former Labour Cabinet minister John Hutton will be leading a review into public sector pensions. Mr Hutton, who held the Work & Pensions brief, will provide interim findings by September. Public sector pensions are just one of the ways in which public sector workers get more rewards for working fewer hours.

Mr Hutton is only the latest man of the Left to join David Cameron's big tent. Frank Field is advising the government on welfare. Will Hutton - a harder appointment for the Right to swallow - is advising on pay differentials in the public sector.

I welcome these appointments (although it would be good to see a few centre right thought leaders in the Lords soon, eg Jill Kirby, Julia Manning and Stephan Shakespeare). Appointing the likes of Field and John Hutton binds some of the Left's most thoughtful people into the Coalition's most difficult decisions.

Osborne on AMGeorge Osborne did not use the interview to set out any specifics in his emergency budget but said that it would set out the Coalition's economic strategy for the whole parliament. Uppermost in his mind, he said, was the hard working person who leaves home at six or seven in the morning while five million others live on out-of-work benefits. That, the Chancellor said, had to change.

Tim Montgomerie

11am Treasury press release setting out John Hutton's remit.

12.30pm: The FT Westminster blog sees Hutton's recruiment as a "coup" for George Osborne. But its main conclusion is that the Chancellor is paving the way for a levy on public sector pensions.

2pm: The BBC's Nick Robinson on the wisdom of Osborne's enlistment of Hutton: "Hutton knows the value of tough independent reports to governments that want to get things done. He didn't only commission Freud. He fought for the Turner Report into pensions. He sponsored the Hooper Report into privatising and modernising Royal Mail and Bernard Grey's Report into how to cut the cost of defence procurement. Each shaped a new consensus into how to tackle a thorny issue. Now the Tories want him to do the same for them."


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