Minister defends advertising for unpaid internship

By Oliver Hotham

Treasury minister David Gauke is defending his decision to open a position for a six-month unpaid internship at his department.

He pointed out the vacancy was voluntary and insisted his decision to put it up as a "perfectly reasonable thing to do".

Mr Gauke faces criticism from the campaign group Intern Aware, which said it would report him for not offering the candidate the minimum wage.

"Lots of people want to do it. It's good experience," he insisted.

"It involves visiting my local Conservative Association, getting some experience of Westminster.

"I think that's perfectly reasonable and those that have had the experience of working there have enjoyed it and found it very good experience."

The intern would be charged with mainly administrative work, as well as campaigning and fundraising.

Mr Gauke is charged with running HM Revenue and Customs. He has been accused of hypocrisy for his move recently to crack down on fashion houses who hired unpaid interns during London Fashion Week.

Fashion houses were told in a letter from Mr Gauke's department that "non-payment of the national minimum wage is not an option" to young people over 21.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg last year vowed to ban unpaid internships from government.