One suggestion for repaying the massive debt we now have as a nation is to increase the retirement age to 70. I am still trying to figure out where all that money went - I thought that if we lent it to the banks, then maybe we could expect to get it back. Or maybe that only works when the banks lend us money. I don’t suppose we would get much back if we took possession of Canary Wharf and then sold it at auction.

Still, the prospect of continuing to work until 70 can be a bit chilling. It is quite amazing how things have turned round on retirement age. I have a friend who worked for BT, and was offered retirement while still in his 40s. He and a whole cohort of highly skilled workers are now driving around in their caravans, being paid £30 or more by BT.

Extending retirement to 70 obviously takes a large group of people out of state pensions, so that saves the government money. They will earn income, so pay tax and N.I., which again adds to the state’s income. One difficult calculation must be - will they die younger as a result of the stresses of work, or will they live longer as a result of being kept active? I hope Mr. Darling has factored in the risk of us living longer.

An alternative: drop the idea that 50% of the nation’s youth should go to university. Return to something more like the 5-10% who went to university in the 60s, and let the rest learn and develop at work. They will then be paying tax and N.I. from a much earlier age, and not be subsidised to any extent by the state. Rather a lot of university teachers would be liberated to do they things which, at present, they only talk about. They might even be able to finance a few of the evening classes which have been closed down lately.

This would cut down on binge drinking - a student speciality - and so save the NHS a fortune. They would not do a gap year of traveling, so saving enormous CO2 output from their air travel. They might also grow up a bit quicker, and not return to live with their parents late into their 20s, as happens at present.

So, Darling, forget about later retirement, think about earlier working.It just makes more sense.