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Bankers may have been leaping from high windows, their orphans starving and begging on the streets, but Phil Willis was in a good mood as he unveiled his select committee's verdict on the government skills policy.

The committee chairman had the kind of spring in his step usually associated with someone about to tip a bucket of manure over the Government, cheerily referring to his Parliamentary colleague Gordon Marsden as a "Blackpool playboy".

Since he was in such good spirits, Mr Willis was kind enough to give advice to those less fortunate on how to respond to the threat of redundancy.

He had recently met a delegation of journalists sacked from their jobs on local newspapers, presenting a critical threat to the nation's supply of stories about couples celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary.

Many of them had worked in the same job for decades. What should they do? "My advice was to write to the secretary of state," he said.

So if they follow Mr Willis's advice, at least one group of workers is likely to be greatly in demand: postmen bearing overflowing sacks to Victoria Street.

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