LETTER :The `tough' approach to youth unemployment

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The Independent Online
From the Earl Russell

Sir: If "new" Labour is to be "forced labour", it might consider using imprisonment as a sanction rather than withdrawal of benefits. Imprisonment, unlike withdrawal of benefits, is subject to the legal requirement of due process, and this would give people an opportunity to show good cause why they should not take the medicine that Gordon Brown has prescribed to them.

Imprisonment, unlike withdrawal of benefits, does not force those subjected to it to make an instant choice between starvation and crime. Perhaps Labour could also tell us why, if their new policy is so good, only the under-25s are to be allowed to benefit from it?

Yours sincerely,


House of Lords

London, SW1

10 November

The writer is the Liberal Democrat spokesperson on Social Security.