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David Davis: Jobless should dig trenches for fat UK pipes

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Anonymous Coward

BT vs other telcos

So are we really saying that the privatisation of BT is what is preventing the widespread roll out of superfast broadband?

Or do they just want a monopoly?

Maybe this might give people pause to think about the fact that nationalised national services are better than privatised ones....

(I will now go and wait for my crappy train, with massive prices because although they are privatised there is no actual competition...)

amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

Madness ...right at the top of the political gravy train/politically incorrect food chain

Nice succinct post, AC, which hits all the relevant points right on the head.

One does wonder why the Government are proposing to sell back into the private sector, the banks that the public bought in the recent meltdown, and especially so if they are making millions and/or billions in profit again.

What is the sound reasoning behind it? Do they not work for us or is it that they work just for themselves?

Anonymous Coward

So BT wines like sour grapes...

They sat on their fat protuberances for the last 20 years and did SFA regarding broadband, took all the profits from ISDN -> DSL and invested NOTHING back into the country.

Hmm, let's see if history repeats itself. Acquire Post Office Telecom network for free, check. Suck every last £ from rate payers AND taxpayers for 20 + years, check. Drain all remaining fluids from customers for poor broadband performance whilst others build superfast networks, check.

Complaints to Ofcom on a fibre connector please!

MJI Silver badge

David Davies & Times

Sorry but so few readers - what is the point.

Try a well read outlet, I don't know, like the BBC?

These "death of web site" walls are a joke!

At least I found it here on the register

Tom 38 Silver badge


I read it this lunch time on my Times iPad app.

Moderatrix: Is there not some 'smug git' icon I can use for this post?

Anonymous Coward

That would be

'smug' with a silent 'S' ?



I was reading the BBC live football coverage earlier tonight, and I noticed one tackle decribed as "viscous".

Enough said?

Allan George Dyer Silver badge

The commentator...

was obviously watching the slow-motion replay.

Anonymous Coward
Thumb Down

Just what we need - forced labour!

I think that extremists of all colours eventually come to this one; what to do with all the useless/inconvenient people in the country? But how do you persuade people to work for unemployment benefits? Obviously you have to make not working for benefits less pleasant; e.g. by not paying benefits if you don't work. This gives the unemployed a simple choice: work, starve or steal. So it's best to make sure you have firm control of the unemployed, perhaps by concentrating them into groups where they can be held securely whilst they aren't digging ditches.

It's a great idea to put them to some kind of useful infrastructure work, and even better if it thins out the numbers. Those that survive the uber-broadband project can be murdered and disposed of in incinerators - presumably operated by unemployed BT engineers.

I'm not sure how forced labour fits in with David Davis' "erosion of civil liberties" stance though? Maybe civil liberties only apply to people with jobs?

John Murgatroyd


Civil liberties only apply to people with money ?

Anonymous Coward

It's an old one....

How to confuse a workshy chav on a enforced cable-laying scheme, line four shovels up and tell to take his Pick!

No? Suit yourselves!



What absolute tommy-rot! What we need is another good war, get these idle johnnys signed up, into uniform and digging trenches across Europe. Make men of them and get them use to the feel of a spade in their hands.

Then the ones that make it back to Blighty will be laying pipes for this inter-network what-not like billy-o!

Frankly I'm disgusted that a former Tory minister failed to jump at this obvious chance to give the Bosh another good hiding. Gad, he was suggesting we take the lead from countries that don't appear on any map of the Empire!

No wonder he was put out of office. We need chaps with greater foresight and 21st century thinking.

Richard Jukes


I believe the general thrust of his argument is that the unemployed scroungers should be doing something, hell I'd be happy to see half of them dig a hole and the other half fill it in. I dont particulary care what they do providing they a) Have to get up at 6:30 b) Have to work for their money and c) Have to suffer the same shit, day in, day out like the rest of us.

Paris Hilton

Someones been reading the Daily Mail

These scroungers you are on about receive job seekers allowance and they already have "to work for their money" - its called job hunting. If they don't do it they loose their benefits. I think you are getting "unfit for work" and "lazy" mixed up again. Yes there will be some scroungers but don't kid yourself that most benefit recipients are out there living a luxury lifestyle on your tax money cos they aint.

Paris, 'cus she can scrounge off me any time she likes!

Tom 15

I personally...

I personally don't see the issue with requiring the unemployed to do work in order to claim benefits. Gives them good skills, references, motivation, etc.

And doing just that is one of the coalitions policies to be brought in soon. We could make BT pay a small amount for them and therefore cover a small part of their benefits?

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

The question is...

...*whose* jobs they are going to do. Follow your logic to its ultimate conclusion and the entire workforce ends up working for the state on benefits. On the plus side our exports should be competitive, but domestic consumption will definitely be down!

Thumb Down


So what about unemployed people with skills?

Have you tried getting a job filling shelves at Asda with a degree in electronic systems design and a 30-year history in electronic manufacturing and design?

Trust me, I have - they don't want to know.

Rethink your stereotype of unemployed people - most of them don't fit it.

John Murgatroyd

What skill

is there in digging a trench ?

Why BT ?

There are loads of other telcos' out there.

Anonymous Coward

So many things wrong

Look, despite what you think, trenching a cable duct is not quite as straightforward as getting a couple of yokels, giving them a spade each, telling them you want a cable between A and B and then letting them loose!

There is heavy machinery involved, planning a route to avoid both existing infrastructure (you know they hav gas, elctric, water and sewage services in the same place you want to put you trench, often with wildly inaccurate maps of where the existing services are!) and disruption to traffic and homeowners / pedestrians.

The reason the "Telco's" (Essentially BT and Virgin) are not busily digging up the country and laying loads of new fibre is because they 1. Don't have the money to and 2. because they dont need to. The "profitable" resedential areas are already within reach of a fibre hub so despite all the claims of Superfast "infiniti" or Fibre optic broadband most "Superfast subscribers" are still on a copper (coax or copper cable) last mile and then connect to a Fibre hub rather than going back to an exchange with a bit of wet string!


Perhaps you should have paid attention.. your economics classes. You'll be doing your job for benefits next. You however will deserve it.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward


...we're in the Minority here! lol

Anonymous Coward
Thumb Up

is it such a bad idea?

I've been unemployed for nearly 11 months, the job centre have already told me about this work scheme, at least that it will exist, as that's all they know at this point. What sort of work it will be I don't know.

Personally I'd be glad of some kind of work.. particularly if I get paid a decent live-off-able amount for it, although it would have to be flexible, if it was 9-5 all week there'd be no time to look for real employment. I'd happily work say.. Friday through Monday as you can't do much job hunting over the weekend.

I'm a recent graduate stuck between a rock and a hard place, can't find the right grad job.. or any for that matter, can't find any really-temp-not-just-calling-it-temp-so-we-can-fire-slackers work, no one will employ me for anything other than what I have a degree in (mechanical engineering).

Chris 15

You're doing it a bit wrong i feel.

If you're just trying to get a temp job or any job thats not related to your field of expertise then dont tell them about your field of expertise :)

Charlie Clark Silver badge

It's a terrible idea

Firstly, digging holes and laying cable requires a little bit more than a pick and shovel. By failing to match skills to requirements you may just end up paying people to stand around rather than do anything as happened with Bitch's YTS programme. It's populist cock rot that the unemployed can be plugged into holes in the employment market. If you have a mismatch either you have to train/conditions your potential workers to do the jobs required or find markets where you can sell their skill-sets. As neither of those is easy, appealing to false prejudice about people not getting "something for nothing" can be very attractive.

Secondly, it is a direct intervention in the labour market. If you want to get people into work by this kind of action it is better to create the demand for labour indirectly by putting the work out to tender. Otherwise you invite abuse and corruption: companies can sack existing workers knowing that they can get the government to pay for them and as long as someone else is paying why stick with just one?

There are arguments for a secondary labour market - state sponsored - but this is usually for services that cannot be provided otherwise. Patently not the case here.

Thirdly, it is also an intervention in the liberalised and privatised telecommunications market: who is going to own the cable? If the demand for broadband is really there then the market should invest to meet it and set prices accordingly. If things aren't happening fast enough then encourage investment through regulation: e.g. whichever company does the investment is able to set a rent above the current price, as is currently the case with Deutsch Telekom's fibre to the home project. Or build the infrastructure yourself and rent it to the companies as is the case in Stockholm, I believe and with some railway networks. Lots of arguments in favour of this as the return on investment of infrastructure often takes too long to make it worthwhile arranging the funding.

Fourthly, is the need really so great? I have yet to see many convincing reports about the speed of internet access having a significant effect on GDP. Internet access itself, yes and mobile internet as well but neither require lots of bandwidth to function as enablers. Pound for pound you generally get a better return from education or reducing traffic problems (accidents, time lost to travel, etc.)

Big Brother

You're joking, surely

Decent live-off-able amount? Never going to happen

No scheme offered to the unemployed ever pays any money, apart from maybe an extra tenner p.w. & travel exes.

I was signing on throughout the Thatch/Major era(by choice of course) & at no time was I offered anything much, except when they let me pretend I was starting a business for 2 years & still paid me the dole plus a score on each giro - the Tories'd do anything to make the figures look better. It was either that or go on the sick. That's why they think there's so many scroungers on the sick - they spent years letting anyone on it to get the dole numbers down.

I know 3 who went that route. The irony is that although they weren't sick when they started, they really are now. One has a hopeless valium, smack & crack habit & another is in rehab, trying to get off methadone & 5+ litres of 9% lager a day. They're both totally unemployable.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

oh yea y ddnt i think ov dat

and tell them I spent three years doing what exactly?

John Murgatroyd


scheme they are thinking about is the one where you work 9-5, 5 days a week, and get paid your benefit...

It used to be £64.00/week....and you get to have the pee taken out of you by the others on £400.00/week.



I've known dozens of people of this sort, but it really has no relevance to the real job market. All they're doing is exploiting the system to gain slightly higher benefits than they would get by pretending to be looking for work. They also find life a bit easier in that they're not forced to attend interviews for jobs which they know they won't get.

Nobody in Britain starves because of intentional government policy. This is a principle of modern enlightened society. You may disagree with this, but the politicians believe that's what people want - it doesn't matter how stupid, handicapped, lazy or ignorant you are, the government will guarantee that you dont don't die from lack of essentials.

And if I give you the job of deciding who is a scrounger, and who is a genuine job-seeker, which criteria will you use? You won't be able to interview every claimant personally, so you'll need to formulate rules which your subordinates can use.

Not so simple, is it?

Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

Once they have the shovels

I know where there is a couple of hundred years supply of coal - just waiting to be dug out of the ground.

We can put the unemployed onto digging it and save our dependency on Russia for energy - another example of tory forward thinking !

Chad H.

Sounds more North Korean

Forced hard labour for private gain... Is this the UK or DPRK?

I agree with the unemployed giving something back, but giving BT free labour is not on.

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

why dont we

use all the unemployed graduates the beeb was whinging about .

Not only do we get all our tranches dug and cables laid, but they can rig up the netword too, all the time using their people to people skills to sell the cable system to the people whose front gardens they are digging up



No nurse I'm not an MP I dont need medicatingggg.g.......

Glenn Amspaugh

Problems solving problems

Can't this be funded under some kind of security mandate? They could claim the new networking for those interactive tv's with cameras so they watch folks and yell at them to exercise, like in that old Saturday Night Live skit with Steve Martin.

Graham Marsden

Which part of...

"Building a superfast rural broadband network is largely low-skill" didn't you understand?

Job Centre Drone: So, what qualifications do you have?

Unemployed geek: Well, I can program in Java, C++, Ruby, Python...

Job Centre Drone: Excellent, we have a perfect job for you, digging trenches for Broadband Cables!

David Barr
Thumb Up

Sounds Good

Being productive would help their self esteem. It's a worthwhile task and it'd give the unemployed a chance to experience the working week - which really isn't as bad as people make out.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Its nothing to do with being workshy.

"DD ... used this morning's Times to call for BT to raise an army of unemployed people to make a contribution to the society that is currently subsidising them (at massive expense), by helping to build the UK's next generation broadband network."

There, fixed it for you.

And that's a problem because?

Da Weezil


Am I alone in seeing hypocrisy in the words of a politician in expecting people to dig ditches for less than a decent days pay and conditions while politicians whine about how hard done by they are and how their already generous allowances and expenses are not enough?

If this is such a great idea, how about the government form a company to lay a fibre network and lease out the bandwidth on a level basis - thus providing proper and permanent jobs for some of the unemployed - many of whom are unemployed because of the ineptitude (some may word it more strongly) of generations of our political servants.

Any parts of the UK on less than 10 megs should see greatly reduced pricing to reflect the bargain basement speed.

heyrick Silver badge

If it is good enough to do, it is something worth being paid for.wE

Take the unemployed masses, give them a shovel, and a payslip...

...if you aren't prepared to offer a real job, I'd seriously question your motives.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

To damn right

Ive been saying this for years, you want benifits? well you can work for them like the rest of us do, you might learn a thing or two which you could put to good use else where, it would also show potential employers that your not completely stupid. A small amount of investment in training will be more than made up by the work thats produced, and who knows, they the trainees could become the trainers which could be applied to all sorts of jobs.

If youve worked all your life and you have contributed taxes than thats fine, if your physically not capable of working and there is litterally nothing you can do, ie someone that has visual/audio/vocal impaired and are also a quadriplegic then that too is fine, everyone else that can do some degree of work should be made to do it if they want state benifits.

Years ago we had the work houses, the concept was good, the implementation was terrible, something similar would help the country no end, and if all else fails? wheres Australia again? ok ok just joking on that last part before i get slated, but i do seriously think we need to address the situation of benifits and i really do think that something like this idea would be good for everyone.

The Alpha Klutz

I wonder what job you do

that's so damn important to the success of the country?

I bet if we really get down to brass tacks we would find that you and I, for all the time we spend at work, are as inconsequential as anyone else.

As a nice little thought experiment; if you died, would one of those dole scroungers you hold in contempt not take your place? The vacancy won't be filled by someone who already has a job now will it?

I get pretty tired of people who are in employment pretty much by accident of birth and chronology, complaining about the people who don't have a job through accident of birth and chronology. It's not like anybody on this earth grew up aspiring to be indentured.

I don't recall anybody in my primary school ever saying "when I grow up I want to be looked down on as the scum of society".

I'm not saying that the government should give us all cushy jobs on the space station; but people can reasonably expect a roof over their head and some shit to eat. I'd rather pay the money than have these people breaking into my house every day out of sheer desperation.

The Alpha Klutz

"The vacancy won't be filled by someone who already has a job now will it?"

Or at least, if it is, then the person who swapped jobs to gain your job will in turn leave a vacancy and eventually a vacancy must trickle down to the jobless. At some point you are forced to give them a step up onto the employment ladder.

You can hardly blame them for not having a job if that ladder is being actively vandalised and mutilated.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

and some more...

I help generate wealth for the country, like pretty much everyone else in the private sector, a vast chunk of the public sector supports everyone who lives here, the people who CHOOSE not to work do nothing except take money out of the tax paying public (and bank loans as this country is in so much debt) im in employment by accident? no i fell out of school with nothing and worked my way up from the bottom over several different companies, tell me if everyone wants to work then why is it that there are 62 cleaning jobs in my town with unemployment so high? are they all not able to work? or are SOME of them not willing to work? tell me, id love to know

course, if some of them are unwilling to work then it MUST be unique to my area

look, ill say it again ( i started from the bottom of this thread) people who are unable to work, people who have worked but have fallen out of work for whatever the reason are all in my opinion perfectly intitled to get benifits without exception, my issue is there are people who do not work and i think, going back to the article, they should be made to work a few hours a week.

The Alpha Klutz

"there are 62 cleaning jobs in my town"

The thought crosses my mind that 62 is a low number not a high one.

If there are only 62 jobs going in your town, how could you possibly expect unemployment not to be a big problem?

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward


oh good god, no wonder this country is screwed

62 CLEANING jobs in 1 town, on one of the previous posts i also mentioned that it was from ONE website. what i did not mention is that all those jobs are over 2 weeks old some considerably longer

it took me no more than 10 seconds to find them, but the argument stands, why are they not taken if unemployment is so high? is it because everyone who is unemployed is so because they are unable to work or is it because SOME of them are unwilling to work

come on, no one has answered this yet, could it be that perhaps, just maybe, SOME of the people choose not to work? and that these few should be forced in to working?

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward


"Whether either country depended on an army of under-employed, tracksuit-clad non-network engineers armed with spades is not clear."

More or less, in Japan at least, there wages are incredibly low, and their hours are long and they normally work 6 days a week. Except they wear nice looking uniforms with hard hats and take pride in their work.

Haku Silver badge

Build a better information superhighway?

Can you get them to fix the normal highways first? I'm fed up of all the bloody potholes and crumbling roads, it's getting more and more dangerous to be a cyclist.

andy, bacup

Perhaps people don't want to live on state benefits?

Do you? If you ever grow up you might realise you aren't anything special.

There was no 'benefits culture' before the 1980s. Do you really believe millions of people suddenly lost the will to work just because they saw Mrs Thatcher on TV? Perhaps mass unemployment has something to do with economic conditions in the real world?

If you've worked all your life, you've presumably been paid all you were owed.

James 51 Silver badge
Jobs Horns


I can't figure out if you're a troll or not. On the off chance that you're not I have just one question. If you give an unemployed person a shovel and tell them to dig will you also give them a payslip? Jobseekers already places a duty on claimants to look for work. Presumably you'd wave this requirement and give them at least the minimum wage as you can't ask someone to do a days work for less than a days pay. The amount this cost would be huge.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward


Jobseekers do requirer you to look for work, it does not requirer you to actually work.

Minimum wage? why? There are jobs out there that pay significantly less than the minumum wage because the company claims to give them the remainder of there wage as "live costs"

Im quite sure if you add up all the benifits that a person recieves and doesnt work, including council tax and rent discounts, add that to their weekly jobseekers and they will be on something akin to the minimum wage, and even if its not, why should we pay for someone not to work? if they cant than thats different, but where i live theres a lot of people claiming and doing bugger all except getting in to fights in the streets and breaking things, costing us more money, im not saying have them working 48 hour weeks in terrible conditions, im talking a fair system of part time work in exchage for their benifits.

Its simple, if you make people that can work earn their benifits it will help the country because we are getting work done for effectively very little, if that money is low then it will encurrage them to get something better, ive worked my arse off since i was a teenager and i dont want to see my taxes wasted on people that dont give a damn about them selves, anything or anyone around them

Elmer Phud Silver badge


"ive worked my arse off since i was a teenager and i dont want to see my taxes wasted on people that dont give a damn about them selves, anything or anyone around them"

Never been unemployed, never been through the farce called 'Jobseeker' where there are none and now self-righteously condemning those who have had no choice and can't get a job.

I worked my arse off for may years, now jobless and - through the way these bastards manipulate things - also unable to get any benefit at all.

Come back when you have some experience, then you might have a vaild comment. Until then get back under the bridge. You might have work experience but none at al outside your cosy little shell.

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