Nicola Sturgeon – 2017 Speech on Conservative Policies

Below is the text of the speech made by Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, on 17 April 2017.

The last few days have exposed the full horror of the rape clause, the wider issues around the cap on child tax credits and the complicity of Scottish Tories in the utterly immoral policies of their Westminster colleagues.

The Tory government’s decision to ban low income families from claiming tax credits for any more than two children, and then force women to prove that they were raped in order to claim tax credits for a third child is inhumane and barbaric – and as we saw in the protest in George Square last week, it is an issue of increasing public anger as the full reality of this inhuman policy becomes clear.

And while the rape clause is the most attention grabbing of the Tories welfare cuts, it’s not the only way in which women are being made to pay the price of Tory policies. Cuts to tax credits will affect women far more than men, because more of women’s income is dependent on benefits and child tax credits.

50,000 Scottish households are expected to be affected by the cuts to child tax credits that will take effect by 2021. New families applying for tax credits could lose £545 a year.

Since these cuts were first announced, with the detail of the rape clause buried deep in one of George Osborne’s final budgets, the SNP’s Alison Thewliss – backed by MPs and MSPs from Labour and the Greens – has led the campaign against them. That cross party support has been hugely important, but the behaviour of the Scottish Tories has been nothing less than contemptible.

Having repeatedly failed to speak out against this disgusting policy, Ruth Davidson then tried to hide behind her official spokesperson. And then, last week, she came out in open support of the rape clause.

She also made the suggestion that the Scottish Parliament should simply step in and pay for these benefits instead.

That was just a desperate smokescreen – an attempt to deflect attention from the Tories’ direct responsibility for this policy and hide her own blushes. The truth is that, far from standing up to her Tory colleagues, Ruth Davidson is defending them regardless of the impact on families across Scotland.

Let’s be clear, the answer to Tory cuts cannot simply be for the Scottish Government to get out the sticking plasters and patch up the Tories’ mess – using money intended for public services, while the UK Government pockets the savings from their cuts. The solution is for the Tories to scrap the rape clause and the two child policy – not just in Scotland but across the whole of the UK.

Of course, if the Tories do want Scotland to take on the responsibility then let’s see all social security powers, and all of the funding used to pay for it, transferred to the Scottish Parliament – that way we can deliver a fair and balanced social security system across the board instead of just trying to clear up the mess.

And when the Tories say these cuts are needed to help balance the books, we should never forget that in the very same budget in which they said there was no money to pay for tax credits, they found the money to cut taxes for the highest earners – a tax cut that the Scottish Tories supported north of the border as well.

Many years ago, Theresa May infamously said that people often see the Tories as the nasty party. Now that she is Prime Minister, it appears that she – and Ruth Davidson – are determined to live up to that reputation.

Jeremy Corbyn – 2017 Speech at Church House, London

Below is the text of the speech made by Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, at Church House in London on 19 April 2017.

The dividing lines in this election could not be clearer from the outset. It is the Conservatives, the party of privilege and the richest, versus the Labour Party, the party that is standing up for working people to improve the lives of all.

It is the establishment versus the people and it is our historic duty to make sure that the people prevail. A duty for all of us here today, the duty of every Labour MP, a duty for our half a million members – including the 2,500 who have joined in the last 24 hours.

Much of the media and establishment are saying that this election is a foregone conclusion.

They think there are rules in politics, which if you don’t follow by doffing your cap to powerful people, accepting that things can’t really change, then you can’t win.

But of course, they do not want us to win. Because when we win it is the people, not the powerful, who win.

The nurse, the teacher, the small trader, the carer, the builder, the office worker, the student, the carer win. We all win.

It is the establishment that complains I don’t play the rules: by which they mean their rules. We can’t win, they say, because we don’t play their game.

We don’t fit in their cosy club. We ‘re not obsessed with the tittle-tattle of Westminster or Brussels. We don’t accept that it is natural for Britain to be governed by a ruling elite, the City and the tax-dodgers, and we don’t accept that the British people just have to take what they’re given, that they don’t deserve better.

And in a sense, the establishment and their followers in the media are quite right. I don’t play by their rules. And if a Labour Government is elected on 8 June, then we won’t play by their rules either.

They are yesterday’s rules, set by failed political and corporate elites we should be consigning to the past.

It is these rules that have allowed a cosy cartel to rig the system in favour of a few powerful and wealthy individuals and corporations.

It is a rigged system set up by the wealth extractors, for the wealth extractors.

But things can, and they will, change.

Britain needs a Labour government that is prepared to fight for people in every part of the country, our towns, villages, as well as big cities.

A Labour government that isn’t scared to take on the cosy cartels that are hoarding this country’s wealth for themselves. It needs a government that will use that wealth to invest in people’s lives in every community to build a better future for every person who lives here.

Because the Conservatives, drunk on a failed ideology, are hell bent on cutting every public service they get their hands on, and they will use all of the divide-and-rule tricks of the Lynton Crosby trade to keep their rigged system intact.

Don’t be angry at the privatisers profiting from our public services, they whisper, be angry instead at the migrant worker just trying to make a better life.

Don’t be angry at the government ministers running down our schools and hospitals, they tell us, be angry instead at the disabled woman or the unemployed man.

It is the rigged economy the Tories are protecting that Labour is committed to challenging. We will not let the elite extract wealth from the pockets of ordinary working people any longer.

So many people in modern Britain do what seems like the right thing to do. They get jobs, they spend all day working hard, they save to buy their own home, they raise children, they look after elderly or sick relatives. And yet, at the end of it, they get almost nothing left over as a reward.

Compare their lives with the multinational corporations and the gilded elite who hide their money in the Cayman Islands because the Conservatives are too morally bankrupt to take them on.

Labour in power will end this racket and make sure that everybody pays their taxes which fund our public services.

We will overturn this rigged system. For all Theresa May’s warm words on the steps of Downing Street the Conservatives will never do any such thing.

Seven years of broken promises show us that on pay, the deficit, the NHS, our schools, our environment.

It was their wealthy friends in the City who crashed our economy. How dare they ruin the economy with their recklessness and greed and then punish those who had nothing to do with it? It was not pensioners, nurses, the low or averaged paid workers or carers who crashed the economy.

The Conservatives boast of record numbers of jobs. But what good is that if people in work are getting poorer and don’t share in the profits of that economy while the Conservatives look after the wealthy few? Our offer is to tackle elderly poverty and loneliness, invest in our economy, NHS and schools, to improve rights at work and the ten pound living wage.

Britain is the sixth richest economy in the world. The people of Britain must share in that wealth.

If I were Southern Rail or Philip Green, I’d be worried about a Labour Government.

If I were Mike Ashley or the CEO of a tax avoiding multinational corporation, I’d want to see a Tory victory.

Why? Because those are the people who are monopolising the wealth that should be shared by each and every one of us in this country. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has a contribution to make and a life to lead. Poverty and homelessness are a disaster for the individual and a loss to all of us.

It is wealth that should belong to the majority and not a tiny minority.

Labour is the party that will put the interests of the majority first, while the Tories only really care about those who already have so much.

That is why we will prove the establishment experts wrong and change the direction of this election. Because the British people know that they are the true wealth creators, held back by a system rigged for the wealth extractors.

Theresa May will insist that this is an election about Brexit. She will try to downplay the issues that affect people’s lives every day and instead turn the election into an ego trip about her own failing leadership and the machinations of the coming negotiations in Brussels.

It is only Labour that will focus on what kind of country we want to have after Brexit.

In the coming weeks Labour will lay out our policies to unlock opportunities for every single person in this country.

We will focus on giving people real control over their own lives and make sure that everybody reaps a just reward for the work that they do.

We will no longer allow those at the top to leach off of those who bust their guts on zero hours contracts or those forced to make sacrifices to pay their mortgage or their rent.

Instead of the country’s wealth being hidden in tax havens we will put it in the hands of the people of Britain as they are the ones who earned it.

In this election Labour will lead the movement to make that change.

We will build a new economy, worthy of the 21st century and we will build a country for the many not the few.

Theresa May – 2017 Speech in Bolton

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, in Bolton on 19 April 2017.

It’s great to be here in Bolton, fresh from the House of Commons, fresh from winning a vote in the House of Commons which approved my decision to hold a general election on the 8th of June. It’s the right decision, it’s in the national interest. And that’s what this election is about providing the strong and stable leadership this country needs to take Britain through Brexit and beyond. It’s about strengthening our hand in the negotiations that lie ahead. And it’s about sticking to our plan for a stronger Britain that will enable us to secure that more stable and secure future for this country and take the right long term decision for the future. It’s about strong and stable leadership in the national interest. And you only get that strong and stable leadership by voting for the Conservatives. Because that’s what Conservatives government provides. And just look at what we’ve done.

When I took over as Prime Minister, there were predictions of immediate financial crash, of economic danger. But we see consumer confidence remains high, we see record numbers of jobs, and economic growth that has exceeded all expectations. When I took over as Prime Minister people said the country was divided that it could never be brought together. But actually what I see today in this country is a unity of purpose – a desire for the Government to get on with the job of putting Brexit in to place and making a success of it.

When I took over as Prime Minister, the country needed clear vision and strong leadership to ensure that we got on with that job of delivering on Brexit for the British people and that’s exactly what we did. We delivered that strong and stable leadership, we delivered the certainty that strong and stable leadership can give. And that’s what leadership looks like.

Now there’s a very clear choice at this election. It’s a choice between strong and stable leadership under the Conservatives, or weak and unstable coalition of chaos led by Jeremy Corbyn. And that is very clear. Let’s look – the other parties are lining up to prop up Jeremy Corbyn. We’ve seen it with the Liberal Democrats, and we see it with Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish nationalists. They’re very clear that they want to do everything they can to frustrate our Brexit negotiations. To undermine the job that we have to do, the task that lies ahead. Do everything to stop us from being able to take Britain forward. And it’s their tunnel vision focus on independence that actually provides uncertainty. They want to pull the strings, try to pull the strings of this election, prop up Jeremy Corbyn and provide more risk and uncertainty for the British people and that’s not in Britain’s interests.

So it’s only a vote for the Conservatives that can deliver, and every vote for the Conservatives is a vote for me and local Conservative candidates, and it’s a vote to ensure that we have that strong and stable leadership that we need to take us through Brexit and beyond. Every vote for me and the local Conservative candidates here and across Britain is a vote to deliver on that plan for a stronger Britain and a more secure future for us all. And if we have that certainty of five more years of strong and stable leadership then we can ensure that we’re delivering for people, for ordinary working people up and down the country, across the whole United Kingdom.

Yes getting the right deal with the European Union, ensuring that we get that good negotiation, that we deliver on that deep and special partnership with the European Union. Negotiating other deals for export of British goods and services. A country that is showing that we can be leaders in preventing terrorism and fighting modern slavery. But it’s also about getting the right deal for ordinary working people here at home, and that’s about building a strong Britain. Britain is the strongest country in Europe in terms of economic growth and national security.

It’s about building a stronger economy. It’s about creating well paid secure jobs. It’s about ensuring that there is opportunity for all. That we provide a good school place for every child. That there is affordable housing. That people can get on in their lives. It’s about ensuring that we create a more united nation. That we take action against the extremists who want to divide us, and that we stand up to the separatists who want to break up our country. So it’s providing that strong and stable leadership.

That certainty. That stability for the future, and that’s going to be our message as go out in to our election campaign. And I’m looking forward to it. We’re going to fight a positive and optimistic campaign about the future of this country. I’m going to be getting out and about around the country. I’m going to be visiting communities in every part of the United Kingdom. And I’m looking forward to taking our case out there to people. Because this is the case – that it is only with the Conservatives that you get the strong and stable leadership that this country needs to see us through Brexit and beyond.

Only we can give that plan for a stronger Britain. For a more secure future. But only you can give us the mandate. So vote for a strong and stable leadership in this country. Vote for the strong and stable leadership this country needs. Give me the mandate to lead Britain. Give me the mandate to speak for Britain. Give me the mandate to fight for Britain, and give me the mandate to deliver for Britain.

Theresa May – 2017 General Election Announcement

Below is the text of the statement made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, on 18 April 2017, announcing a General Election.

I have just chaired a meeting of the Cabinet, where we agreed that the Government should call a General Election, to be held on June 8.

I want to explain the reasons for that decision, what will happen next and the choice facing the British people when you come to vote in this election. Last summer, after the country voted to leave the European Union, Britain needed certainty, stability and strong leadership, and since I became Prime Minister the Government has delivered precisely that.

Despite predictions of immediate financial and economic danger, since the referendum we have seen consumer confidence remain high, record numbers of jobs, and economic growth that has exceeded all expectations.

We have also delivered on the mandate that we were handed by the referendum result. Britain is leaving the European Union and there can be no turning back. And as we look to the future, the Government has the right plan for negotiating our new relationship with Europe.

We want a deep and special partnership between a strong and successful European Union and a United Kingdom that is free to chart its own way in the world.

That means we will regain control of our own money, our own laws and our own borders and we will be free to strike trade deals with old friends and new partners all around the world.

This is the right approach, and it is in the national interest. But the other political parties oppose it. At this moment of enormous national significance there should be unity here in Westminster, but instead there is division.

The country is coming together, but Westminster is not. In recent weeks Labour has threatened to vote against the deal we reach with the European Union. The Liberal Democrats have said they want to grind the business of government to a standstill.

The Scottish National Party say they will vote against the legislation that formally repeals Britain’s membership of the European Union and unelected members of the House of Lords have vowed to fight us every step of the way.

Our opponents believe that because the Government’s majority is so small, our resolve will weaken and that they can force us to change course. They are wrong.

They under-estimate our determination to get the job done and I am not prepared to let them endanger the security of millions of working people across the country. Because what they are doing jeopardises the work we must do to prepare for Brexit at home and it weakens the Government’s negotiating position in Europe.

If we do not hold a general election now their political game-playing will continue, and the negotiations with the European Union will reach their most difficult stage in the run-up to the next scheduled election. Division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit and it will cause damaging uncertainty and instability to the country.

So we need a general election and we need one now, because we have at this moment a one-off chance to get this done while the European Union agrees its negotiating position and before the detailed talks begin. I have only recently and reluctantly come to this conclusion.

Since I became Prime Minister I have said that there should be no election until 2020, but now I have concluded that the only way to guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead is to hold this election and seek your support for the decisions I must take. And so tomorrow I will move a motion in the House of Commons calling for a general election to be held on the eighth of June.

That motion, as set out by the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, will require a two-thirds majority of the House of Commons. So I have a simple challenge to the opposition parties, you have criticised the Government’s vision for Brexit, you have challenged our objectives, you have threatened to block the legislation we put before Parliament.

Jeremy Corbyn – 2017 Easter Message

Below is the text of the Easter Message from Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, from 17 April 2017.

I would like to wish everyone a happy Easter this weekend.

As millions mark Easter around the world, it’s a time to reflect on the challenges we face both at home and internationally – and what our response should be.

We hear painful stories every day, of homelessness, poverty or crisis in our health service – or across the world, of the devastating consequences of war and conflict, including millions forced to become refugees.

It would be easy to retreat into our private lives because the challenges seem overwhelming, or allow ourselves to be divided and blame others. But we need to respond to these problems head on, through action and support for social justice, peace and reconciliation.

Those principles are at the heart of Christianity. And Christians throughout the world will this weekend be remembering Jesus’s example of love and sacrifice, and the Easter message of redemption and peace.

At a time of growing conflict, that message of peace could not have more urgency throughout the world.

I meet Christians, and others of all faiths and none on a daily basis, who share and live those ideals: people who give their time for others, to run food banks, protect the vulnerable, look after the sick, the elderly and our young people.

That spirit of respect for each other, peace and equality is one we can all share. So to all Christians and those of all faiths and none, have a happy and peaceful Easter.

Theresa May – 2017 Easter Message

Below is the text of the Easter message given by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, on 16 April 2017.

Easter is a moment to reflect and an important time for Christians and others to gather together with families and friends.

This year, after a period of intense debate over the right future for our country, there is a sense that people are coming together and uniting behind the opportunities that lie ahead.

For at heart, this country is one great union of people and nations with a proud history and a bright future. And as we face the opportunities ahead of us – the opportunities that stem from our decision to leave the European Union and embrace the world – our shared interests, our shared ambitions, and above all our shared values can, and must, bring us together.

This Easter I think of those values that we share – values that I learnt in my own childhood, growing up in a vicarage. Values of compassion, community, citizenship. The sense of obligation we have to one another.

These are values we all hold in common, and values that are visibly lived out everyday by Christians, as well as by people of other faiths or none.

I think of those who go out of their way to visit the sick or bereaved, providing comfort and guidance to many in our country at some of the most difficult moments in their lives. I think of the sacrifices and service of aid workers who put themselves in harm’s way to bring much-needed relief in war-torn parts of the world.

We should celebrate all these contributions and others like them, and the difference they make in our society and around the world.

In doing so, we should be confident about the role that Christianity has to play in the lives of people in our country.

And we should treasure the strong tradition that we have in this country of religious tolerance and freedom of speech.

We must continue to ensure that people feel able to speak about their faith, and that absolutely includes their faith in Christ. We must be mindful of Christians and religious minorities around the world who do not enjoy these same freedoms, but who practise their religion in secret and often in fear.

And we must do more to stand up for the freedom of people of all religions to practice their beliefs openly and in peace and safety.

So this Easter, whatever our faith, let us come together as a nation confident in our values, and united in our commitment to fulfil the obligations that we have to one another.

Let us work together to build that brighter future we want for our country. And let us together build a stronger, fairer Britain that truly does work for everyone. And let me wish you all a very happy Easter.

David Davis – 2017 Statement on Brexit

Below is the text of the speech made by David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, in the House of Commons on 30 March 2017.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement about today’s publication of a White Paper on the great repeal Bill.

Yesterday, we took the historic step of notifying the European Council of the Government’s decision to invoke article 50; the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union. That notification marks the beginning of our two-year negotiation period with the EU, and it reflects the result of last year’s instruction from the people of the United Kingdom. As the Prime Minister said yesterday, it is our fierce determination to get the right deal for every single person. Now is the time to come together to ensure that the UK as a whole is prepared for the challenges and opportunities presented by our exit from the EU.

We have been clear that we want a smooth and orderly exit, and the great repeal Bill is integral to that approach. It will provide clarity and certainty for businesses, workers and consumers across the United Kingdom on the day we leave the EU. It will mean that as we exit the EU and seek a new, deep and special partnership with the European Union, we will be doing so from a position where we have the same standards and rules. But it will also ensure that we deliver on our promise to end the supremacy of European Union law in the UK as we exit. Our laws will then be made in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, and interpreted by judges not in Luxembourg, but across the United Kingdom. Some have been concerned that Parliament will not play enough of a role in shaping the future of the country once we have left the European Union. Today’s White Paper shows just how wrong that is. This publication makes it clear that there will be a series of Bills to debate and vote on, both before and after we leave, as well as many statutory instruments to consider.

Let me turn to the content of the White Paper. The paper we have published today sets out the three principal elements of the great repeal Bill. First, we will repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and return power to the United Kingdom. Secondly, the Bill will convert EU law into United Kingdom law, allowing businesses to continue operating knowing that the rules have not changed overnight, and providing fairness to individuals, whose rights and obligations will not be subject to sudden change. Thirdly, the Bill will create the necessary powers to correct the laws that do not operate appropriately once we have left the EU, so that our legal system continues to function correctly outside the European Union. I will address each of these elements in turn before coming to the important issue of the interaction of the Bill with the devolution settlements.

Let me begin with the European Communities Act 1972. Repealing the ECA on the day we leave the EU enables the return to this Parliament of the sovereignty we ceded in 1972 and ends the supremacy of EU law in this country. It is entirely necessary in order to deliver on the result of the referendum. But repealing the ECA alone is not enough. A simple repeal of the ECA would leave holes in our statute book. The EU regulations that apply directly in the UK would no longer have any ​effect, and many of the domestic regulations we have made to implement our EU obligations would fall away. Therefore, to provide the maximum possible legal certainty, the great repeal Bill will convert EU law into domestic law on the day we leave the European Union. This means, for example, that the workers’ rights, environmental protection and consumer rights that are enjoyed under EU law in the UK will continue to be available in UK law after we have left the European Union. Once EU law has been converted into domestic law, Parliament will be able to pass legislation to amend, repeal or improve any piece of European Union law it chooses—as will the devolved legislatures, where they have power to do so.

However, further steps will be needed to provide a smooth and orderly exit. This is because a large number of laws—both existing domestic laws and those we convert into UK law—will not work properly if we leave the EU without taking further action. Some laws, for example, grant functions to an EU institution with which the UK will no longer have a relationship. To overcome this, the great repeal Bill will provide a power to correct the statute book, where necessary, to resolve the problems which will occur as a consequence of leaving the European Union. This will be done using secondary legislation, the flexibility of which will make sure we have put in place the necessary corrections before the day we leave the European Union. I can confirm that this power will be time-limited, and Parliament will need to be satisfied that the procedures in the Bill for making and approving the secondary legislation are appropriate.

Given the scale of the changes that will be necessary and the finite amount of time available to make them, there is a balance to be struck between the importance of scrutiny and correcting the statute book in time. As the Lords Constitution Committee recently put it:

“The challenge that Parliament will face is in balancing the need for speed, and thus for Governmental discretion, with the need for proper parliamentary control of the content of the UK’s statute book.”

Parliament of course can, and does, regularly debate and vote on secondary legislation; we are not considering some form of governmental Executive orders, but using a legislative process of long standing. I hope that today’s White Paper and this statement can be the start of a discussion between Parliament and Government about how best to achieve this balance. Similar corrections will be needed to the statute books of the three devolved Administrations, and so we propose that the Bill will also give Ministers in the devolved Administrations a power to amend devolved legislation to correct their law in line with the way that UK ministers will be able to correct UK law.

Let me turn to the European Court of Justice and its case law. I can confirm that the great repeal Bill will provide no future role for the European Court in the interpretation of our laws, and the Bill will not oblige our courts to consider cases decided by the European Court of Justice after we have left. However, for as long as EU-derived law remains on the UK statute book, it is essential that there is a common understanding of what that law means. The Government believe that this is best achieved by providing for continuity in how that law is interpreted before and after exit day. To maximise certainty, therefore, the Bill will provide that any question ​as to the meaning of EU law that has been converted into UK law will be determined in the UK courts by reference to the European Court of Justice’s case law as it exists on the day we leave the European Union. Any other starting point would be to change the law and create unnecessary uncertainty.

This approach maximises legal certainty at the point of departure, but our intention is not to fossilise the past decisions of the European Court of Justice. As such, we propose that the Bill will provide that European Court case law be given the same status in our courts as decisions of our own Supreme Court. The Supreme Court does not frequently depart from its own decisions, but it does so from time to time. We would expect the Supreme Court to take a similar, sparing approach to departing from European Court of Justice case law, but we believe it is right that it should have the power to do so. Of course Parliament will be free to change the law, and therefore overturn case law, where it decides it is right to do so.

Today’s White Paper also sets out the great repeal Bill’s approach to the charter of fundamental rights. Let me explain our approach. The charter of fundamental rights applies to member states only when they act within the scope of European Union law. That means that its relevance is removed by our withdrawal from the European Union. The Government have been clear that in leaving the EU, the UK’s leading role in protecting and advancing human rights will not change. The fact that the charter will fall away will not mean that the protection of rights in the UK will suffer as a result. The charter of fundamental rights was not designed to create new rights, but rather to catalogue rights already recognised as general principles in EU law. That was recognised by the Labour Government who brought it in, with a protocol attached to it, in 2007. Where cases have been decided by reference to those rights, that case law will continue to be used to interpret the underlying rights that will be preserved.

I would now like to turn to devolution. The United Kingdom’s domestic constitutional arrangements have evolved since the UK joined the European Economic Community in 1973. The current devolution settlements were agreed after the UK joined and reflect that context. In areas where the devolved Administrations and legislatures have competence, such as agriculture, the environment and some areas of transport, that competence is exercised within the constraints set by European Union law. The existence of common EU frameworks had the effect of providing a common UK framework in many areas, safeguarding the functioning of the UK internal market.

As powers return from the EU, we have an opportunity to determine the level best placed to take decisions on those issues, ensuring that power sits closer to the people of the United Kingdom than ever before. It is the expectation of the Government that the outcome of that process will be a significant increase in the decision-making power of each devolved Administration. However, we must also ensure that, as we leave the EU, no new barriers to living and doing business within our own Union are created. In some areas, that will require common UK frameworks. Decisions will be required about where a common framework is needed and, if it is, how it might be established. The devolved Administrations ​also acknowledge the importance of common UK frameworks. We will work closely with the devolved Administrations to deliver an approach that works for the whole of the United Kingdom and reflects the needs and individual circumstances of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Let me conclude by stressing the importance of the great repeal Bill. It will help to ensure certainty and stability across the board. It is vital to ensuring a smooth and orderly exit; it will stand us in good stead for the negotiations over our future relationship with the EU; and it will deliver greater control over our laws to this Parliament and, wherever appropriate, the devolved Administrations. Those steps are crucial to implementing the result of the referendum in the national interest. I hope that all sides will recognise that and work with us to achieve those aims. I commend this statement to the House.

Brandon Lewis – 2017 Speech to the Police Education Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Brandon Lewis, the Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service, to the Police Education Qualification Framework conference on 29 March 2017.

Many thanks for inviting me to speak today. It is always a really good opportunity to talk about something that is for us an absolutely key priority, which is police professionalisation.

But, just before I do talk about the course and professionalisation, I am just going to comment on the events that took place in Westminster last week.

Much has already been said in tribute to PC Keith Palmer, who you will know from what you have seen or heard and read, he gave so much which is beyond words in terms of bravery and heroism in order to keep others safe. But I also not only want to add my tribute to Keith here today but actually to all police and, indeed, your partners across the emergency services, for the phenomenal work you did to help those who were so tragically affected. It is almost impossible to describe the great debt we owe to Keith for what he did and what he gave up in order to protect our democracy.

In what is perhaps the most painful of circumstances, the police’s reactions – along with those of your colleagues across the emergency services – were remarkable.

It is just another phenomenal demonstration of what you know happens in one way or another every single day across this country to keep others safe as they go about their daily lives in their communities. It is something we rely on and something that for our country and our communities actually reminds people just how important that work is.

It is the good work that prevents those problems in the first place that people don’t talk about and remember, so I think it is important that we take this opportunity to think about the importance of this for our communities.

It also reinforces something that I would hope all of us in this room this morning are aware of, who are passionate about it – and something I was talking to colleagues from across Europe about over the last couple of days – we have got the best police in the world.

Part of what this is about and what we are talking about today and in the months and years going forward is not only about how we retain that position but actually about how we develop it even further.

Today’s event does promotes a major element of the reform programme as we strive to recognise the fantastic professionalism that is already in evidence across policing. And it is perhaps one of the most significant aspects of reform, in both scale and scope for the police, going forward.

So, turning to the core of what I want to say today, it is really quite satisfying that radical reform of this type and the ambition that this has got is not being led by ministers – or anyone in Whitehall – but by policing itself under the leadership of your professional body, the College of Policing.

We established the college as the first professional body for policing in 2012 – charged with setting high standards and with making sure we do what we can to help everyone in policing to meet them through the course of their career. And now, in 2017, it is heartening to note that policing has some of the hallmarks of a genuine profession in place:

– a code of ethics has been delivered

– a culture of continual professional development is beginning to be, at the very least, embraced

– the body of professional knowledge is continually growing

and the final pillar – standards of education – are now being put in place, through the Policing Education Qualifications Framework (PEQF)

Now, I hope you don’t mind if I refer to this as the PEQF for the next few minutes.

I have to say that it is clear to me as I have been looking at this – and I hope it is increasingly clear to everyone working across the country – and most importantly to those police professionals working at the sharp end – that there is a big role for the college. A role in leading for policing on some of the most critical issues. Providing leadership essentially for the sector: on standards; and on professionalism particularly, which is obviously the subject of today’s conference.

Why this is important

Our workforce reform goals are clear. We want to ensure the police force is flexible, capable and professional: agile enough to adapt as crime and society changes. As we know it is changing with the digital world and moving very fast. And this change can only accelerate with increases in interpersonal crimes and those perpetrated at distance across virtual and physical borders. Borders that for criminals are pretty much translucent and yet for us in policing too often become rigid.

Police leaders need to understand what is required to effectively investigate high-harm crimes. They need to ensure that specialist teams have the resource and capability to deal with the complex nature of these investigations and to ensure that front line officers have the ability to look past sometimes what can be the immediate issue, identify potential vulnerability and know the appropriate action to take. So to fully complement the PEQF the college is also consulting on the development of a licence to practise and universal registration in which officers would need a licence to practise in certain crucial areas, including working with the most vulnerable.

Forces need to think actually quite ambitiously about the types of interventions and capabilities needed to transform their response to and for victims. And given that protecting the vulnerable is not the sole responsibility of the police, we also need to make sure we are considering how they can work more effectively with partners to achieve this end.

Tackling cyber-crime and crimes against the vulnerable requires people who can challenge perceptions and support the victims of crime. Without these sorts of skills we would never have discovered the depth and extent of child sexual abuse or, indeed, modern slavery.

A more flexible, capable and professional police service

So, policing needs to be prepared to meet the challenges of the future and the PEQF aims to give officers access to the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in doing just that.

Graduate level skills and attributes are already demonstrated on a daily basis by members of the service and will become increasingly important in policing.

I am really pleased to see that, through the PEQF, the college is seeking to accredit those skills where they are already held in the policing, as well as to ensure that future joiners to the police will have them at the start of their career and then just develop them further as they go through.

But I also want to be very clear that this doesn’t mean that we only want to see one kind of person working in policing. Far from it. We all benefit from diversity of thought as well as individual. That is why it is great to see a variety of entry routes to a policing career, whether through a pre-join policing degree, as a graduate recruit, or upon the completion of a degree apprenticeship.

I am just going to focus on the degree apprenticeship for moment.

The government is committed to delivering some 3 million new apprenticeship starts by the end of this parliament; to increase productivity in the economy and raise the standards of workplace training more generally. Let’s not forget that until very recently there was no such thing as a degree apprenticeship in policing at all. But building on the work of early pioneers the college’s work to develop a degree apprenticeship at pace, and to ensure its accreditation, shows what a ‘can-do’ attitude can deliver and it is one that policing is famous and which is to be applauded.

This new apprenticeship route is a really attractive option for people who want to take the first step in a really rich and varied profession. And because you can earn while you learn with an apprenticeship, I am hopeful that using the positive action tools which the college has pioneered, forces will be able to encourage and maintain access to policing from people from all communities and backgrounds.

Professionalism

As I said a few moments ago, this focus on recognising and developing professionalism across policing is one which I care passionately about and we should all want to see develop in policing.

Because policing in the 21st century, by its very unique nature, should be one of the most exciting and attractive careers available. It should attract the most talented and skilled recruits from all backgrounds and all areas.

Workforce reform is improving the attractiveness of policing as a profession and new recruitment initiatives like Direct Entry and Police Now are widening the talent pool and the range of prior experience available to policing.

Both these schemes are expanding. Police Now, having started in the Met, will be recruiting in 19 forces this year. And Direct Entry, which closed for applications earlier this month, has seen a massive 68% boost in applications. Again, this shows what can be achieved when we are focused on delivering and challenging what we have done before.

But while policing is becoming a more open profession, attracting applicants from different walks of life I think we all need to be very clear that there is already excellent police work going on up and down the country. And one of the most important things that the PEQF can be used for is to recognise the fantastic, professional work of those already working in policing.

To not just ensure that people realise how valued they are as part of their teams, but to give them recognition that other organisations also value, outside policing.

So that the drive for professionalisation is not just about new recruits, as important as that is, but must also be about raising standards across all ranks and roles.

Focus on the individual

So we must make sure that those working in policing can access the best skills, support, and qualifications available. In essence, we want policing to recognise its status as a profession and its people as the professionals – holding them to clear ethical and performance standards, as you would see in the other professional disciplines.

We need to see frontline professionals truly empowered to make their own decisions, knowing that they will be supported by excellent management at all levels.

This means I want officers and staff to feel confident about challenging their superiors. And those leaders, receiving that challenge, need to be open to it and confident about working with it because that is when we get real change and the best decisions be made.

But no organisation can achieve this kind of change without professional support. So I think the College of Policing have a pivotal place in driving reform. They will ensure the right framework is in place on which to build a modern, flexible and effective policing profession.

And the college cannot do this alone. Higher education institutions are bringing expertise to the table and it is great to see so many of you in the room today, all with an interest in professionalising policing for the future and how we make that better and take that further.

A big challenge for policing

Let me be very straight about this – I recognise this is a really big challenge. It is a bold reform programme. But I know the college is going into this with its eyes open. If national standards are being set, then they need to be transferable across all police forces in England and Wales, and it is vital that all officers have access to training that equips them to deliver the high standard of service that the public expects.

And, to those who say that policing isn’t and shouldn’t be a graduate job, I would ask you to just pause for a moment and encourage you to challenge that thought. Because policing needs to be prepared to meet the challenges of the future and the PEQF aims to give officers access to the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in a fast changing environment.

The anomaly is often pointed out that, at any given partnership table, the police officer is likely to be the only person whose profession does not expect degree level qualification. And yet, the police officer is – more often than not – chairing that partnership meeting and at the very least the authority figure that people will look to for guidance.

And as Alex Marshall himself has said on several occasions, an educational qualification should not, cannot and will not replace the empathy, compassion and common sense already in policing. But what it will do is to allow police professionals to get the recognition they deserve for the complexity of the job they do everyday.

And yes, the college recognises that the PEQF and associated graduate entry routes would mean the financial burden of initial training would be passed onto some individuals. But this mirrors the approach that is also taken in other professions. Meanwhile the degree apprenticeship offers new entrants to policing the opportunity to earn a wage while becoming a police constable, with successful candidates acquiring a degree qualification at the end of the learning programme.

Introducing a degree apprenticeship tackles concerns that the costs of obtaining qualifications might affect policing’s ability to secure the representative workforce it needs and that is important.

So let’s be very clear. Changes of this magnitude can only really succeed and become embedded if everyone is on board. The PEQF will help accelerate the pace of change across all forces but there are significant cultural barriers to change here and forces need practical advice and support to see them through.

That’s why the college has been very clear that these proposals will only be implemented fully at a pace with which forces themselves are comfortable.

Now I do welcome your attendance today and applying your collective knowledge and experience to this crucial reform. I urge everyone to take the discussions that you have today back with you to prompt debate where you work and develop this further.

Conclusion

It is clear to me that the scale of reform underway – reform that is being driven by policing in fact – is a result of us reaching a situation where the system genuinely recognises the fact that we at the Home Office do not run policing. We want to make sure that the framework is there for the sector to run and develop and reform itself. The college has an important part of play in that as in fact does every single person sitting here today.

I won’t deny there are high expectations and this is a challenging agenda. And I am delighted that the college has been able to step and meet this challenge, fulfilling its role as the professional body you need. One that can support everyone working in policing to raise standards and deliver a better service for the public.

The benefits of succeeding on this programme are actually very clear. It will make sure we are able to deliver the very best services to local communities provided by a skilled, professional and representative workforce.

I think professionalism needs to be absolutely at the heart of modern policing. This means recognising the high level skills already in policing, as well as raising the bar for new recruits to ensure that we continue to have the very best police forces in the world.

We need to have forces that are fit for the future and the college’s new Policing Education Qualifications Framework is an important step in meeting this challenge.

Thank you.

Theresa May – 2017 Letter to Donald Tusk

Below is the text of the letter sent by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, to Donald Tusk on 29 March 2017.

On 23 June last year, the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. As I have said before, that decision was no rejection of the values we share as fellow Europeans. Nor was it an attempt to do harm to the European Union or any of the remaining member states. On the contrary, the United Kingdom wants the European Union to succeed and prosper. Instead, the referendum was a vote to restore, as we see it, our national self-determination. We are leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe – and we want to remain committed partners and allies to our friends across the continent.

Earlier this month, the United Kingdom Parliament confirmed the result of the referendum by voting with clear and convincing majorities in both of its Houses for the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill. The Bill was passed by Parliament on 13 March and it received Royal Assent from Her Majesty The Queen and became an Act of Parliament on 16 March.

Today, therefore, I am writing to give effect to the democratic decision of the people of the United Kingdom. I hereby notify the European Council in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Union. In addition, in accordance with the same Article 50(2) as applied by Article 106a of the Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, I hereby notify the European Council of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Atomic Energy Community. References in this letter to the European Union should therefore be taken to include a reference to the European Atomic Energy Community.

This letter sets out the approach of Her Majesty’s Government to the discussions we will have about the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union and about the deep and special partnership we hope to enjoy – as your closest friend and neighbour – with the European Union once we leave. We believe that these objectives are in the interests not only of the United Kingdom but of the European Union and the wider world too.

It is in the best interests of both the United Kingdom and the European Union that we should use the forthcoming process to deliver these objectives in a fair and orderly manner, and with as little disruption as possible on each side. We want to make sure that Europe remains strong and prosperous and is capable of projecting its values, leading in the world, and defending itself from security threats. We want the United Kingdom, through a new deep and special partnership with a strong European Union, to play its full part in achieving these goals. We therefore believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the European Union.

The Government wants to approach our discussions with ambition, giving citizens and businesses in the United Kingdom and the European Union – and indeed from third countries around the world – as much certainty as possible, as early as possible. I would like to propose some principles that may help to shape our coming discussions, but before I do so, I should update you on the process we will be undertaking at home, in the United Kingdom.

The process in the United Kingdom

As I have announced already, the Government will bring forward legislation that will repeal the Act of Parliament – the European Communities Act 1972 – that gives effect to EU law in our country. This legislation will, wherever practical and appropriate, in effect convert the body of existing European Union law (the “acquis”) into UK law. This means there will be certainty for UK citizens and for anybody from the European Union who does business in the United Kingdom. The Government will consult on how we design and implement this legislation, and we will publish a White Paper tomorrow. We also intend to bring forward several other pieces of legislation that address specific issues relating to our departure from the European Union, also with a view to ensuring continuity and certainty, in particular for businesses. We will of course continue to fulfil our responsibilities as a member state while we remain a member of the European Union, and the legislation we propose will not come into effect until we leave.

From the start and throughout the discussions, we will negotiate as one United Kingdom, taking due account of the specific interests of every nation and region of the UK as we do so. When it comes to the return of powers back to the United Kingdom, we will consult fully on which powers should reside in Westminster and which should be devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. But it is the expectation of the Government that the outcome of this process will be a significant increase in the decision-making power of each devolved administration.

Negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union
The United Kingdom wants to agree with the European Union a deep and special partnership that takes in both economic and security cooperation. To achieve this, we believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the EU.

If, however, we leave the European Union without an agreement the default position is that we would have to trade on World Trade Organisation terms. In security terms a failure to reach agreement would mean our cooperation in the fight against crime and terrorism would be weakened. In this kind of scenario, both the United Kingdom and the European Union would of course cope with the change, but it is not the outcome that either side should seek. We must therefore work hard to avoid that outcome.

It is for these reasons that we want to be able to agree a deep and special partnership, taking in both economic and security cooperation, but it is also because we want to play our part in making sure that Europe remains strong and prosperous and able to lead in the world, projecting its values and defending itself from security threats. And we want the United Kingdom to play its full part in realising that vision for our continent.

Proposed principles for our discussions

Looking ahead to the discussions which we will soon begin, I would like to suggest some principles that we might agree to help make sure that the process is as smooth and successful as possible.

i. We should engage with one another constructively and respectfully, in a spirit of sincere cooperation

Since I became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom I have listened carefully to you, to my fellow EU Heads of Government and the Presidents of the European Commission and Parliament. That is why the United Kingdom does not seek membership of the single market: we understand and respect your position that the four freedoms of the single market are indivisible and there can be no “cherry picking”. We also understand that there will be consequences for the UK of leaving the EU: we know that we will lose influence over the rules that affect the European economy. We also know that UK companies will, as they trade within the EU, have to align with rules agreed by institutions of which we are no longer a part – just as UK companies do in other overseas markets.

ii. We should always put our citizens first

There is obvious complexity in the discussions we are about to undertake, but we should remember that at the heart of our talks are the interests of all our citizens. There are, for example, many citizens of the remaining member states living in the United Kingdom, and UK citizens living elsewhere in the European Union, and we should aim to strike an early agreement about their rights.

iii. We should work towards securing a comprehensive agreement

We want to agree a deep and special partnership between the UK and the EU, taking in both economic and security cooperation. We will need to discuss how we determine a fair settlement of the UK’s rights and obligations as a departing member state, in accordance with the law and in the spirit of the United Kingdom’s continuing partnership with the EU. But we believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the EU.

iv. We should work together to minimise disruption and give as much certainty as possible

Investors, businesses and citizens in both the UK and across the remaining 27 member states – and those from third countries around the world – want to be able to plan. In order to avoid any cliff-edge as we move from our current relationship to our future partnership, people and businesses in both the UK and the EU would benefit from implementation periods to adjust in a smooth and orderly way to new arrangements. It would help both sides to minimise unnecessary disruption if we agree this principle early in the process.

v. In particular, we must pay attention to the UK’s unique relationship with the Republic of Ireland and the importance of the peace process in Northern Ireland

The Republic of Ireland is the only EU member state with a land border with the United Kingdom. We want to avoid a return to a hard border between our two countries, to be able to maintain the Common Travel Area between us, and to make sure that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU does not harm the Republic of Ireland. We also have an important responsibility to make sure that nothing is done to jeopardise the peace process in Northern Ireland, and to continue to uphold the Belfast Agreement.

vi. We should begin technical talks on detailed policy areas as soon as possible, but we should prioritise the biggest challenges

Agreeing a high-level approach to the issues arising from our withdrawal will of course be an early priority. But we also propose a bold and ambitious Free Trade Agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union. This should be of greater scope and ambition than any such agreement before it so that it covers sectors crucial to our linked economies such as financial services and network industries. This will require detailed technical talks, but as the UK is an existing EU member state, both sides have regulatory frameworks and standards that already match. We should therefore prioritise how we manage the evolution of our regulatory frameworks to maintain a fair and open trading environment, and how we resolve disputes. On the scope of the partnership between us – on both economic and security matters – my officials will put forward detailed proposals for deep, broad and dynamic cooperation.

vii. We should continue to work together to advance and protect our shared European values

Perhaps now more than ever, the world needs the liberal, democratic values of Europe. We want to play our part to ensure that Europe remains strong and prosperous and able to lead in the world, projecting its values and defending itself from security threats.

The task before us

As I have said, the Government of the United Kingdom wants to agree a deep and special partnership between the UK and the EU, taking in both economic and security cooperation. At a time when the growth of global trade is slowing and there are signs that protectionist instincts are on the rise in many parts of the world, Europe has a responsibility to stand up for free trade in the interest of all our citizens. Likewise, Europe’s security is more fragile today than at any time since the end of the Cold War. Weakening our cooperation for the prosperity and protection of our citizens would be a costly mistake. The United Kingdom’s objectives for our future partnership remain those set out in my Lancaster House speech of 17 January and the subsequent White Paper published on 2 February.

We recognise that it will be a challenge to reach such a comprehensive agreement within the two-year period set out for withdrawal discussions in the Treaty. But we believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the EU. We start from a unique position in these discussions – close regulatory alignment, trust in one another’s institutions, and a spirit of cooperation stretching back decades. It is for these reasons, and because the future partnership between the UK and the EU is of such importance to both sides, that I am sure it can be agreed in the time period set out by the Treaty.

The task before us is momentous but it should not be beyond us. After all, the institutions and the leaders of the European Union have succeeded in bringing together a continent blighted by war into a union of peaceful nations, and supported the transition of dictatorships to democracy. Together, I know we are capable of reaching an agreement about the UK’s rights and obligations as a departing member state, while establishing a deep and special partnership that contributes towards the prosperity, security and global power of our continent.

Philip Dunne – 2017 Statement on NHS Prescription Charges

Below is the text of the statement made by Philip Dunne, the Minister of State for Health, on 16 March 2017.

As at the start of previous financial years, regulations have today been laid before Parliament to increase certain National Health Service charges in England from 1 April 2017.

The prescription charge will increase by 20 pence from £8.40 to £8.60 for each medicine or appliance dispensed. To ensure that those with the greatest need, including patients with long-term conditions, are protected, we have frozen the cost of the prescription prepayment certificates (PPCs) for another year. The 3 month PPC remains at £29.10 and the cost of the annual PPC will stay at £104, allowing unlimited prescriptions within a specified time period. Taken together, and in the interest of fairness, this means prescription charges are expected to rise broadly in line with inflation.

Existing arrangements for prescription charge exemptions will remain in place, principally covering those with certain medical conditions like cancer, epilepsy and diabetes, pregnant women and new mothers, children under 16 and anyone over 60, and those on a low income.

As part of a 2 year settlement announced last year, the patient charges for NHS dental care in 2017/18 will be as follows:

– a band one course of treatment and urgent treatment will increase by 90p from £19.70 to £20.60
– a band two course of treatment will increase by £2.40 from £53.90 to £56.30
– a band three course of treatment will increase by £10.60 from £233.70 to £244.30

The maximum band three charge is for the approximately 5% of treatments that include items such as crowns or bridges.

Charges for wigs and fabric supports will rise in line with inflation.

Prescription charges

Single charge: £8.60
3 month PPC (no change): £29.10
2 month PPC (no change): £104.00

Wigs and fabric supports

Surgical brassiere: £28.40
Abdominal or spinal support: £42.95
Stock modacrylic wig: £70.15
Partial human hair wig: £185.80
Full bespoke human hair wig: £271.70

Dental charges

Band 1: £20.60
Band 2: £56.30
Band 3: £244.30
Urgent: £20.60