Letter: Europe's payroll taxes cost jobs

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The Independent Online
Sir: It is a relief that Labour's leadership is now frantically trying to disown the compulsory 35-hour week in the European Socialists' Manifesto that they signed only last weekend. Despite this convenient conversion to common sense, there is much else in the manifesto to which Labour is still publicly committed which will prevent employers from creating jobs even when the recovery is fully established.

Compulsory job sharing; the four-day week; Europe-wide collective bargaining and many extra 'rights' for various groups of workers. That's fine, if negotiated company by company, on the basis of competitive position and what suits the arrangements of individuals within its workforce. But it cannot be legislated for from on high.

Employers in continental Europe already carry social costs twice those of America and Japan. The simple fact is that payroll taxes cost jobs. We could do better by following America's example. There is no doubt their free labour market with minimal government interference has been outstandingly good at creating jobs. Had Europe followed that path as successfully over the past 15 years, it would have created some 18 million jobs, almost the exact number currently out of work. European Socialists, including John Smith, please take note.

I am, Sir,

Your obedient servant


House of Lords

London, SW1

11 November