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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 February 2008, 14:39 GMT
Hutton: 'personal respect' for Speaker
John Hutton MP
I think he's been a good Speaker in the House of Commons and he's a decent and honourable man
John Hutton

Business Secretary, John Hutton says that he has "personal respect" for the Speaker, Michael Martin, following allegations about the use of expenses.

"I've known Michael Martin for a long time," he said, "and I have a great deal of personal respect for him.

"I think he's been a good Speaker in the House of Commons and he's a decent and honourable man and I'm sure that that is the position that he will want to defend in the weeks ahead and he'll have my support in doing it."

In response to a backbench bill extending the rights of agency workers proceeding in the House of Commons last week, Mr Hutton said: "We've got to make the right choice here which extends protection to groups of workers who are at risk of being abused and exploited but at the same time it doesn't compromise our fundamental search for competitiveness and productivity.

Conscious of the need to make the correct choices, he said: "We accept that there is a case for regulation in this areaż there have been cases of abuse, but I think we've got to proceed in a sensible way here so we want both sides of industry, employers and unions to come together to make a recommendation to us about how we can sensibly extend protection in this area.

"We've got to be aware of what the choices are. If we get this wrong, we damage the UK's economy and competitiveness.

"If we get it right, we can actually address the real abuses that are out there."

Jon Cruddas MP
There's a real concern across the party that we're just collapsing in the face of CBI and business criticism
Jon Cruddas

Former Labour deputy leadership candidate, Jon Cruddas, told the Politics Show that there is a real concern that the party is "collapsing in the face of the CBI and business criticism".

"I'm very worried," he said, "about the proposed commission, because many in the Labour party see that as away of putting into the long grass our commitment in the last manifesto to regulate employment agencies, and this is trying to swerve around that commitment.

"And it's not the same as the low pay commission, because that, in turn, was in our manifesto of 1997, this isn't, and there's a real concern across the party that we're just collapsing in the face of CBI and business criticism.

"For example," he continued, "this week around the flexibility agenda that John Hutton talked about, which I thought was against actually what was agreed as party policy, and there's a sense that these political choices - and they are choices - are being made one way.

"They're being made pro-business and against, often, proven policies of the Labour party."

The Politics Show, with Jon Sopel on Sunday 24 February 2008 at 12:00 GMT on BBC One.

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