Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has called US child labour laws "truly stupid".

Speaking at a school in New Hampshire, Gingrich said that children in the poorest neighborhoods are "trapped in child laws" that prevent them from earning money.

"Most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and pay local students to take care of the school," said Gingrich.

"The kids would actually do work, they would have cash, they'd have pride in the schools, they'd begin the process of rising. Get any job that teaches you to show up on Monday. Get any job that teaches you to stay all day, even if you're having a fight with your girlfriend."

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Gingrich said he was "not suggesting they drop out of school and become janitors, I'm talking about working 20 hours a week and being empowered to succeed".

Although Gingrich said he was not advocating revamping child labor laws, he would propose extraordinarily radical changes that he believes would fundamentally transform the culture of poverty in the United States.

- HERALD ONLINE