I read in the Sunday Times today (main section page 3) that the Tory party is supporting a Government move to enable convicts to work for commercial organisations at a purported annual salary of £10k. In the example quoted, the minimum wage is being offered for graphic design work for Kentucky Fried Chicken and Clifford Chance, and other large companies such as Ford will be targeted. I believe £10k is close to 67% of the pay of a newly recruited private soldier who, far from committing crimes, has actually volunteered to put his/her life on the line for the country. This is aside from the commercial implications as no reliable and realistic commercial principles can be applied to such arrangements. For example, working accommodation is paid for by the taxpayer so rent or depreciation on it will, at best, be a notional figure plucked out of the air; similarly with heat and light. Insult is added to injury by the fact that the convicts will not be paying income tax which merely proves the point that this type of arrangement is profoundly anti-competitive. If the political class cannot see the perversity of this situation then the country really does not have a prayer, whoever is in power.