IoS letters, emails & online postings (12 January 2014)

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Ed Miliband's proposal to interfere in Britain's labour market is deceptive and dangerous ("We're too reliant on low-wage labour", 5 January).

The thrust of his suggestion is that Britain should sign up fully to the European Union's Agency Workers Directive. He assumes this would create highly-paid jobs for British workers. In truth it would mean fewer jobs all round and a handbrake jammed on our economic recovery.

A flexible and responsive labour market is one of the reasons that we have seen 1.4 million jobs created since May 2010. Imposing the Agency Workers Directive on business, especially small enterprises and seasonal industries, would stop plans for growth and recruitment. A quarter of UK businesses use agency workers and, under Mr Miliband's plans, a typical small enterprise would have to pay an extra £2,493 a year.

Since the 2008 directive, the EU's European vacancy monitor has shown a collapse in temporary posts in those countries that adopted it. In France, Germany and the Netherlands, substantial growth in temporary vacancies turned into a fall of one-fifth. In France, vacancies in leading temporary-work agency Randstad fell by more than 20 per cent over two months.

Mr Miliband would take us down the same road for the sake of a quick headline and a wish to appear tough on immigrants.

Anthea McIntyre, MEP

Conservative employment spokesman

Ross-on-Wye

What "skills" is Ed Miliband talking about? The last Labour government aimed to push 50 per cent of the workforce through university and increased spending on secondary education by a huge amount. The result is that there is both under-employment and a skill shortage. Doesn't this suggest that governments are incompetent at gauging the demands of the labour market?

James Paton

Billericay, Essex

Ed Miliband continues to repeat myths that immigration is a key factor in bringing down standards of living. Have migrants caused the housing bubble that creates sky-high rents and prices out all but the most well-off? Are they responsible for the devastating effects of the government's austerity policies?

There are millions of us who feel migrants have made a phenomenal contribution to this country, and we are all the worse for the toxic rhetoric and anti-immigrant policies that we see from successive governments.

With the three largest parties manoeuvring to occupy Farage's anti-immigrant bunker who is going to be left in the fresh air untainted by this dangerous and divisive electoral game?

Jim Jepps

London NW1

I too felt saddened at the story of Father Joseph Williams whose body was found in his car in a supermarket carpark (Janet Street-Porter, 5 January).

But, while I would not wish to deny Janet the opportunity of slagging off the Anglican Church, I understand that Fr Joseph was a Roman Catholic, as is the Bishop (not Archbishop) of Northampton. Neither of them are Anglicans, "namby pamby" or not.

Roger Clarke

Perranarworthal, Truro

Noel Howard-Jones is correct in saying that he had no contact with Anthony Summers concerning Stephen Ward (Letters 29 December). However, as the co-author I did receive a letter in 1987 from Mr Howard-Jones declining to be interviewed. The communication was noted in the 1989 edition of our book, Honeytrap, on page 331.

Stephen Dorril

Holmfirth, West Yorkshire

I enjoyed DJ Taylor's article about Top of the Pops (5 January). It was a shame therefore that the photo was printed back-to-front, showing the band Slade as being totally left handed.

Peter Henderson

Worthing, West Sussex

Every year is like 1914 somewhere (5 January). We must accept grievances will continue and choose our interventions carefully, rather than fall for that other historical truth beloved by politicians which equates non-intervention in any situation as comparable to the appeasement of Hitler's ambitions.

Ian McKenzie

Lincoln

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Letters to the Editor, The Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF. Email: sundayletters@independent.co.uk. Online: independent.co.uk/dayinapage/2014/January/12

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