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Water torture

How bad are the water pipes in St Albans? Kerry Pollard, the town's Labour MP, has made a fetish out of questioning witnesses to the Commons education select committee about what they are doing to encourage youngsters to take up a plumbing career.

His campaign became outlandish this week when he put the query to education minister Cathy Ashton, whose main responsibility is, er, under-fives. Her deadpan response: "Within the early years work ... we haven't specifically set out to identify vocational aspirations of children. But we do have water-play."

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