It will probably come as a surprise to many people that there is a body of support welling up within the Conservative party for an increase in the minimum wage. But although this may seem counterintuitive, there is a Conservative case to be made for such a policty.
I was against the minimum wage when Blair introduced it, as were most Conservatives. In a pure free market the inevitable consequence of such a policy would be to increase unemployment by pricing some people out of work. In the rather different market which actually exists, I was afraid that the minimum wage would be set too high and have the same effect.
But in the intervening decade things have moved on. Probably because of concerns about this very issue by the people who set it, the minimum wage has never been hiked to a level which would have priced material numbers of people out of a job.
Pure "free market capitalist" economies and pure state run "command" economies have never existed in the real world at any time or place. And the British economy that we have now is nothing like either. And in present circumstances the minimum wage is absolutely not one of the main problems stopping people from getting the sort of jobs that it affects.
The first problem has been a shortage of jobs, though the steady rise in employment suggests that small and large businesses are creating more jobs and reducing this issue.
The second problem, and I don't mean this as a criticism of the people concerned, is that many feel they can't afford to take a job because it would make them worse off.
Even after the benefits cap, we still have a serious problem in that the incomes available to those in low wage jobs is insufficiently higher, and can even be lower, than those available to some of those on benefits.
I have no wish to bash or criticise those claiming benefits - they did not create this situation. Nor can I blame someone who wants to work, if the only jobs on offer would leave them working all the hours God sends while having less money available for their family, if instead of taking such a job they keep looking for something which pays better.
However it is not in anyone's interests - not those of the low paid, not those of the country as a whole, and in the long term not even those of the people on welfare - to allow that situation to continue.
One arm of a strategy to deal with the problem has to be continuing to look hard at the welfare budget. But we may also be in the unusual situation - what an economist might call a "counterintuitive relationship" between the minimum wage and employment - that a modest rise in the minimum wage might actually increase employment by providing an incentive to work for people who are currently given a perverse incentive to stay at home.