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The Independent Online
Helen Liddell, the new economic secretary, says that as a Scot she has a special understanding of the importance of education. In an interview with the Independent at yesterday's OECD meeting in Paris she said: "The key to true labour market flexibility is having a very highly skilled workforce."

Mrs Liddell was responding to an OECD report which highlighted the tensions between the organisation's economists. Some members, such as New Zealand, encourage job flexibility while others, such as France, reject it.

Mrs Liddell said: "The Prime Minister has made it quite clear what our views are. It is what works that matters."

The Government's emphasis on its support for the Social Chapter and minimum standards for employees had to be seen in the context of flexibility. However, she emphasised the role the new low-pay commission would have to play in addressing the existence of the working poor by setting a minimum wage.

Mrs Liddell was keen to get over the message that the top priority was education, education and education: "If you want to compete in the global marketplace you need a high-wage, high-skill economy."

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