Jeremy Browne – 2012 Speech in Hong Kong


Below is the text of the speech made by Jeremy Browne in Hong Kong on 6th July 2012.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today, and for such a generous breakfast!

I am absolutely thrilled to be back in Hong Kong and, in particular, to be speaking again at an event organised by the British Chamber of Commerce.

This is my third visit to Hong Kong as a Foreign Office Minister. It is no accident that I am such a regular visitor: today, Britain is looking East like never before. As I mentioned last time I was here, we are setting our country firmly on a path to far closer ties with countries across Asia over the next twenty years. We want Britain to be a leading partner with Asia in developing a prosperous future, in trade and commerce, in culture, education and development and in foreign policy and security.

And we are serious about this, which is why we are adding sixty new jobs to our diplomatic network in China, and targeting a 40% increase in the number of Chinese speakers in the Foreign Office by 2015. I think there is a real opportunity this year, as we inherit the Olympic Baton, to drive forward the UK’s relationship with China. We look forward not only to welcoming Chinese athletes to the UK, but also Chinese businesses and spectators. We will also host a special event at the British Business Embassy during the London Games focused specifically on China – one of only two such events. China’s economic development will see more demand for the advanced services the UK is well-placed to provide. In return, there are significant opportunities for Chinese companies to invest in the UK.

So China remains a top priority for Britain. And Hong Kong is a uniquely important partner for us – as a place where we enjoy such special connections, and such strong ties in business, education and culture. It is particularly exciting to be here during the first week of the new Administration under Chief Executive C Y Leung. The Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have congratulated him on his appointment. And there is clearly lots we can work on together. I am looking forward to discussing this with the new Secretary for the Administration when I see her later today.

When I was here last year, I spoke about Britain’s relationship with China and how Hong Kong fitted into this, particularly in terms of our business links.

But I thought we could take a slightly different approach this time around. I want us to talk this morning about how my Government is aligning its commitments to business and human rights. So I hope over the next fifteen minutes or so to answer the following questions: do human rights matter to business?; and, if you agree with me that they do, what does that mean for businesses?

Business and human rights

There is, I will not deny, a lot of scepticism around the commitment of governments and businesses to human rights. I understand that scepticism. But I don’t buy it. Simply put, respecting human rights, and promoting respect for human rights, is a win-win-win. It’s good for people, it’s good for business, and it’s good for governments.

Let me first consider the perspective of my own Government. Why have we put values like human rights at the heart of our foreign policy? There’s the obvious moral argument – that it is the Right Thing To Do. As the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, has said: “The belief in political and economic freedom, in human rights and in the rule of law, are part of our national DNA.”

But it’s also in Britain’s national interest. In the long run, states that respect human rights are more stable, less prone to conflict. In the long run, states with transparency and the rule of law are likely to be more prosperous; to provide more innovative, entrepreneurial markets for us to operate in. So it helps our security, and our prosperity. Just take North and South Korea as an example: the North is a security threat to the region and offers few trade prospects; the South is stable, and an important global trading partner with states all around the globe, not least the UK. We would rather inhabit a world of South Koreas than North Koreas.

This analogy works for business too. There is, first and foremost, a clear moral imperative that businesses feel as much as states do. But it is also a question of what is in your interests: in which world would you prefer to work? Surely it is easier and less risky for you to operate in countries with transparent regulation, freedom of expression, the rule of law and good governance.

And it is precisely those qualities that make Hong Kong such a good place to do business. Stability and freedom increase the chances of dispute resolution and protection for capital and intellectual assets. They breed creative, free-thinking individuals that can grow businesses – the sort of people that many of you here today will work alongside, or strive to work alongside. It is in the interest of businesses to have more liberal markets in which to operate.

That may seem to some of you to be a rather long-term argument. So let us consider too some of the more immediate benefits for companies that take human rights seriously.

For one, consumers – your customers – increasingly expect it. I believe we are seeing a shift towards a more ethically aware and discerning consumer, a shift we have seen over the past two decades or so on environmental policy. And no-one knows better than you how important human rights issues are to the people of Hong Kong.

This is one of the reasons why many companies in the clothing industry, for instance, have modified their supply chains to guard against the use of child labour. Reputational damage is a real risk in the modern market of ethically discerning consumers, and companies have been slammed in the past by allegations of complicity in human rights abuses (Nestle, Nike, Gap, Primark).

Nor is it just consumers. Institutional investors such as pension funds and mutual wealth funds are increasingly taking companies’ ethical standards into account when making investment decisions. The same can be said of shareholders. Employees are more likely to be motivated to work for ethical companies. And by taking a human rights-conscious approach to business, you are reducing the risk of costly and damaging litigation.

All of this is more relevant than ever. In a world of Facebooks, YouTubes and Googles – of social media and 24 hour news – companies are under the spotlight as never before. Just think of executive pay, which has been in the UK headlines – and which has led to the resignation of leaders of some of our biggest businesses, in the face of moral outcry over the size of salaries and bonuses.

So it makes sense, then, for governments and businesses to work together not only to respect human rights and ethical ideals, but to also spread respect for human rights.

And I think I can say with some confidence that, actually, business wants to do this. Today, there are countless examples of good practice across the business spectrum – half of the companies in the FTSE 100 already have human rights policies in place. And I know that your own Chamber is taking a growing interest in these issues.

The Guiding Principles

Indeed, it would surprise some if I were to tell them that businesses have been asking, like civil society, for guidance on where and how human rights fit in with the work they do.

This is why the adoption of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in June last year is so important. Some of you may have heard of these already – but for the benefit of those who haven’t, the Guiding Principles have created a new common standard for business activity.

They help you to raise human rights standards in the countries you operate in – which benefits all of us. They provide guidance so you can demonstrate to consumers and investors that you are behaving in an ethical way. They remind you of your legal obligations as businesses, to help mitigate litigation and reputational risks. And by complying – and showing that you are complying – with recognised standards, they help you to attract and retain good staff, increase their motivation, and limit staff turnover and sickness absence.

So this is not about clogging up or constraining businesses, which are central to our prosperity. It is about levelling the playing field for businesses; mitigating against companies undercutting others by using unethical practices. It is about helping businesses to be aware of their legal obligations; helping them to demonstrate their ethical standards, to their reputational benefit.

What the UK is doing to help

The Guiding Principles are here to stay. They will be widely accepted, implemented and maintained. With that in mind, we are about to introduce a Government strategy on business and human rights – in part to ensure that we can more effectively examine our own record. And through working with other like-minded countries, including our EU partners, we are pushing for the wider international community to do more. It is important that we encourage other states to do what we are doing. It is, after all, ultimately for states to protect the human rights of people within their territory. This is not just an initiative that puts the onus only on businesses.

That being said, we are also doing what we can to support British companies like yours to ensure that you are aware of the Principles and understand what they mean for you.

As a first step, we are ensuring that our staff across the globe – including Andrew’s team here at the Consulate-General in Hong Kong – will be able to provide you with the guidance you need. We are updating our Overseas Business Risk Service, the joint FCO-UK Trade and Investment website that some of you may already be familiar with. And we are improving the way we signpost businesses to other resources.

I am confident that in taking these steps we will do our part – and help you do yours – to mainstream the Guiding Principles.

So it’s clear, I think, that respect for human rights is as crucial in the business world as it is outside of it. I believe that we are seeing a new trend emerging globally, with greater expectations of businesses on human rights. It may seem a long way off in some parts of the world, including in China. But if we can work together – as governments, businesses and indeed civil society – we can create a better environment that benefits all of us.

I have explained to you this morning why I think all of this is important, and what the British Government is doing about it. But now over to you: I’m interested in hearing your own views on the opportunities to take forward this agenda here in Hong Kong.

Jeremy Browne – 2012 Speech on Human Rights and the Olympics


Below is the text of the speech made by Jeremy Browne, the Foreign Office Minister, in London on 29th August 2012.

I would like to welcome you all to this event today.

I should welcome in particular our keynote speaker, Tara Flood, Chief Executive of the Alliance for Inclusive Education, and gold medallist in the 50-metre breaststroke at the 1992 Paralympics in Barcelona. As well as an outstanding Paralympic athlete, Tara is a tireless campaigner for disability rights, so it is a privilege to have her with us today.

I am also pleased to welcome the Brazilian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Mr Roberto Jaguaribe; the Vice Minister of Culture from Korea, Mr KIM Yong-hwan; and the Federal Ombudsman (also President of the National Paralympic Committee) from Russia, Mr Vladimir Lukin.

We are gathered here in the Durbar Court to announce a Joint Communique agreed by the United Kingdom, Brazil, Russia and South Korea. The Communique commits each of us to harness the vast potential of sport, through the Olympic and Paralympic Games, to promote respect for human rights internationally.

Sport can be a hugely effective driver for change. It promotes inclusivity, bringing people together to interact, co-operate and strive to achieve common goals. It can reach out to a diverse cross-section of society and connect and integrate people, regardless of background.

Just think of how football has changed attitudes towards race in Britain over the last few decades. Talented players from black and other ethnic communities, and work by football authorities, clubs and campaigns like ‘Kick It Out’ and ‘Show Racism the Red Card’, have made a huge contribution to tackling discrimination. Think of how the Paralympic Games have showcased to a global audience the achievements of disabled people – demonstrating that we should all be judged not by what we cannot do, but what we can.

Sport can transform the lives of girls and women. It can encourage women’s equal participation in society, build strong leadership and decision-making skills and help to change social attitudes.

These Games have been the first Olympics at which women from all participating countries had the opportunity to take part. It was truly inspiring to see Sarah Attar being cheered home in the 800 metres, the first woman from Saudi Arabia to compete in Olympic track and field. And we will never forget Nicola Adams of Team GB, who became the first woman to win Olympic gold in boxing – from which women had been excluded previously.

But sport can do even more. It can help to revitalise disadvantaged areas. It helps foster development and education for young people. It promotes good health.

And, of course, sport encourages the principles of fair play, teamwork and hard work. It creates role models. Think of Mo Farah crossing the finish line in the 5,000 metres final, surely one of the most enduring images of London 2012. After completing his double gold victory, the Somali-born athlete said: “Anything is possible – it’s just hard work and grafting”.

It is in all our interests to take advantage of these powerful traits, which the Olympics only intensify. So we are working hard to achieve a global legacy for the London Games.

Our International Inspiration programme is enriching the lives of millions of young people across the world by providing access to high-quality physical education, sport and play. The programme not only engages children in sport itself. It also targets lasting change by working with governments on school curricula and national policies, and by training tens of thousands of Young Leaders, teachers and coaches in inclusive sport.

The amount of work we have done on the Olympic Truce has been unprecedented, delivering a UN Resolution co-sponsored by all 193 UN Members and an array of projects overseas to promote conflict resolution and peace.

We have sought to make London 2012 the most accessible Games ever to disabled people, including through improving transport facilities.

And with almost all 2.5 million tickets sold, we are setting a new global standard for the Paralympics.

But this work does not end when the curtain falls on the Paralympics on 9 September. There is more to do.

So we have joined forces with future host nations – with Brazil, hosts of Rio 2016, and with Russia and South Korea, hosts of the Winter Games in 2014 and 2018 – in a pledge to use the Games to promote and embed respect for human rights across the world.

The Communique we are announcing today commits us to promote awareness and the application of the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights. It states that we will seek to educate people to respect diversity; to empower girls and women through sport; and to promote the rights and freedoms of disabled people

And it is apt that we are making this commitment during a London Games. Because it was the year the Games were last held here – 1948 – that saw the origins of the Paralympics and the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

Britain’s aim, as hosts of the 2012 Olympiad, is to “inspire a generation”. 205 countries took part this year, and around four billion people – more than half the global population – had their eyes on London. So we have an unrivalled opportunity to reach out to the world. To show them this fantastic celebration of sport, and the principles of non-discrimination, equality and mutual understanding under which it was founded.

This is not just about creating the Jessica Ennises of tomorrow. It is about inspiring people all over the world to experience the joy of participation in sport, and – even more than that – to work hard in pursuit of their ambitions, to work with people of different backgrounds and beliefs, and to respect the diversity of humankind.

Jeremy Browne – 2010 Speech in China


The below speech was made by the Foreign Office Minister, Jeremy Browne, on 15th September 2010 at the University of Nottingham Ningbo Campus in China.


I am delighted to be the first Minister in the new British Government to visit the city of Ningbo, one of main engines for economic and broader development of Zhejiang province and wider region.

I am no less delighted to be here at the University of Nottingham campus. I may never have been to Ningbo before, but as a former student of Nottingham University, it is in some ways a return to familiar territory, albeit in a way I would never have imagined then.

That such a development could happen in the space of less than two decades since I graduated is testament to the Ningbo government’s far-sighted vision in developing foreign ties and international relationships (as well of course that of my university in responding to that vision).

Nearly 10 years ago, the city of Ningbo set about ambitious plans to transform its economy and the skills and knowledge of its citizens. In doing so, the City sought to partner with the best of international knowledge and ideas. The opening of this campus in 2004, as the very first Sino-Foreign University in China with approval from the Chinese Ministry of Education, laid the ground for others to follow.

That this could happen is also testament to the dramatic and unprecedented changes that are reshaping the world in which we live and which are opening up possibilities and opportunities for you, as students, undreamt of in my student days.

In my speech today, I want to talk about how these changes – globalisation and the new G20 world order – will reshape this century, how we are responding to them, and why education and the people-to-people exchanges that this campus symbolises are so important in ensuring that globalisation is to our mutual benefit.

New Global Order: Opportunity, not Threat

I simply cannot understate the significance of this changing order. We have all been accustomed to a G8 world for many years. Best summed up by images of summits, 9 people if we include the EC President, of which 8 were westerners plus Japan. This largely symbolised how most of us in the West viewed the world when I was an NU student.

But it is no longer relevant. In less than a decade, we have moved from a G8 to a G20 world. A world in which major powers such as China are catching up rapidly with the existing long-established economic powers.

According to some predictions, today’s emerging economies will be 50% larger than the economies of the current G7 by 2050. In 2010 China’s Q2 GDP growth was 10.3% and the most recent quarterly total GDP put China ahead of Japan as the second largest economy after the US.

What makes this change in the world order arguably even more significant than previous ones is that it is not just a shuffling of the seats at the top table, a new Group of 7 or Group of 8. It’s not just that the characters have changed, but the architecture has too.

The significance of the transition from a G8 to a G20 world is that the grouping at the top table, economically and politically, is much more representative of the globalised, ‘networked’ world of which the British Foreign Secretary William Hague has spoken.

UK Government Response

As I said in my first Ministerial speech in Parliament in June, these are not changes we should fear, and certainly not something we should resist. It is in fact something we should welcome as a great opportunity.

First and foremost, there is an opportunity to expand our financial and trading ties as the people of these emerging economies become wealthier.

The World Bank estimates that the global middle class is likely to have grown from 430 million in 1999 to over a billion by 2030 – an increase in middle class consumers equal to the total population of the EU.

But it is also an opportunity politically and diplomatically to find new ways to harness international action to deliver the changes we will need to safeguard our collective security.

The new world order will be a more multilateral one, politically as well as economically. In one sense that will be a more complex world and managing complexity will be a key challenge for all of us. Which is why closer cooperation between governments, and understanding between peoples, will be all the more important.

It is increasingly the case that the prosperity of any one country today – whether big or small – is dependent on what happens in other countries.

In a similar way, many of the problems faced by countries today are global rather than local – whether that’s climate change, immigration, security, crime or any number of other issues that are blind to international boundaries.

That is why strengthening our relations with these fast growing economies and powers is one of the key foreign policy objectives of the UK’s new government. We recognise the importance to us of our close and historic relationships with Europe and North America – but also realise where the new opportunities increasingly lie.

For you – as Chinese students or students of Chinese – these changes are going to be particularly significant. Which brings me to why education, and people such as you, are so important to this emerging new world order.

People-to-People Exchanges: Globalising education

In a speech during his visit to Japan and China in July, William Hague set out four distinctive ways for UK to pursue its foreign policy. These included intensifying our engagement with the emerging economies of the world and also, and perhaps most important for my speech to you today, engaging with people and their aspirations. By seeking engagement with other countries beyond the constraints of traditional and diplomatic ties, by building engagement among people across different cultures and boundaries.

He argued that if our foreign policy is to be effective in a networked world we must extend opportunity to others as well as striving for the best for Britain, upholding our own values and influencing others by being an inspiring example of our own values.

In the process of forging these people-to people links, education, particularly higher education, has a pivotal role. That is why I am glad to see the world’s leading universities increasingly put internationalisation at the heart of their mission, and that Britain, and British universities, are at the forefront of this dynamic.

Britain is fortunate to have more than 340,000 students from 239 different countries pursuing education opportunities in UK, second only to USA as a destination for international students. More than 20% of academic staff in UK universities come from outside UK. A 2008 study found that 75% of UK universities funded international research collaboration, with nearly 90% having international research links.

Around 200,000 students, just like you, are currently taking UK qualifications from more than 100 higher education institutions around the world.

As students, your choice is now immeasurably different to that even of my generation. Now the choice is not simply which university should I go to, it is which country should I study in. Should I start my degree in my own country and complete it in another, picking up along the way the vital cultural insights that studying in another country provides. Which institution, wherever it is in the world, will best meet my needs and priorities?

The institutions which will rise to the challenge of internationalisation most effectively will be those which are prepared to develop international strategic partnerships with universities in other countries across a range of activities, including research and knowledge transfer. These deeper, broader partnerships will complement the array of international links which exist between individual researchers and academics.

There is clearly an economic incentive here. International education provides the UK with a dynamic, high-skill and sustainable export industry that has been estimated to be worth more than £10bn.

But it is much more than merely an export industry. It enriches our society in many ways by deepening our awareness and understanding of other cultures, and likewise deepening others’ awareness and understanding of our own. The relationships that we develop can last forever and often provide the potential for greater educational, cultural and scientific exchange, as well as greater trade, investment, and political dialogue.

By internationalising its education provision, the UK is able to attract intellectual capital – making a vital contribution to its capacity for research, technological growth and innovation; it is able to sustain programmes which might not otherwise be viable, ensuring a wider range and greater quality of internationally-focused courses are available for other students, including those from the UK.

In short, international education is at the centre of the UK’s knowledge economy and the long-term wealth and prosperity that delivers.

China-UK Education Partnership

We know that UK education is held in high regard by both government and the education sector in China. The closeness of bilateral co-operation in this field is a good indicator of the positive regard within which the UK is held in China, especially when considering that many countries seek to develop such co-operation with China, and China is in the fortunate position of choosing from the best of the world’s education systems.

Bilateral co-operation in education is very strong overall; a Framework Agreement on Educational Co-operation Partnership has guided that co-operation over the last decade, and annual education summits take forward the joint priority areas for both countries. We hope that the next summit will take place before the end of the year.

Cooperation between the UK and China is particularly strong on higher education. We have well established links, such as a 13 year strategic higher education collaboration project between the Ministry of Education and the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the British Council.

In 2008/9 there were 85,000 Chinese students in the UK, We have the same proportion of our own population studying in China, some 3,000 students, as mainland China has in the UK, although of course we are seeking to increase this number. As an example, every summer some 200 students from across Britain come to China for one month on a government-supported programme of language and contemporary studies.

Now there are more than 105 joint programmes and some 15,000 Chinese students following UK qualifications here in China.

New education models from the UK such as this university/campus are testimony to the high level of confidence that the Ministry of Education has traditionally had in our higher education systems.


This engagement and co-operation between our two education systems is delivering deeper and broader ties between our two countries and responding to the need to deepen our understanding of each other as much as our dependence on each other grows. The latter without the former could be a point of weakness. Together, they represent a source of strength and establish solid foundations for the cooperation we will need to have in an increasingly networked world.

Broader engagement between people needs to be built upon foundations of mutual understanding and trust, and needs to be carried out by the many diverse organisations working to further international collaboration in fields such as education, science, culture and international relations.

This campus and the networks of knowledge and learning it represents are a prime example of that, and illustrate clearly:

First, that the flow of ideas and information around the world is now as much the preserve of students, of academics, of business people and of ordinary citizens as it is of governments.

And second, that that flow and dialogue between individuals is critical to our collective future security and prosperity.

So before you have the chance to turn the tables and address me, let me take this opportunity, not just as former Nottingham student myself, but also as a British Government Minister, to say how delighted I am to have had this opportunity to come here, and to congratulate you on the work you are doing, and the model for future cooperation you represent.

Des Browne – 2008 Labour Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by the then Secretary of State for Defence, Des Browne, at the 2008 Labour Party conference.

Conference, on Saturday afternoon while you were all here I was at Twickenham, one of over 50,000 people supporting the Help for Heroes Charity.

They were there in such numbers, and that charity has raised almost £12 million in one year to support our wounded service men and women, because of the love and admiration the people of this country have for our Armed Forces.

That love and admiration is rightly placed.

All that is best about being British is concentrated in our Armed Forces.

When we ask them to do the impossible, they respond positively and often they do it.

More importantly, when we ask them to risk their life and limb to protect our security or our national interest or to see our values of fairness spread across the world, they do not hesitate.

As Gordon Brown reminds them every time he meets them, those individual service men and wo men are THE most important instrument for the delivery of the progressive values at the heart of our modern defence policy.

Conference, we owe them a debt we can never fully repay.  But, we must try to repay it.  We must do the best we can for them.  And, the best we can for those they leave behind when they make the ultimate sacrifice.

This year, was the first time any Government has put their commitment to our service people in writing when we published a cross government Command Paper on support for forces and their families.

For the last two and a half years I, and my excellent Ministerial team, have been meeting our Armed Forces and their families, asking them what support they most want from us.

Let me tell you, those conversations are humbling.

For all their bravery.

For all that they risk for us.

What they want from us is modest.  They want their own lives and the lives of their families not to be disadvantaged by the fact of their service.

They tell me that they are worried that when they have to move around the country that they will have difficulty finding good school places for their kids.

And they worry about losing their place on an NHS waiting list.  They should not have to worry about such things.

Well, with the help of Alan Johnson, Hazel Blears, Ed Balls,…

Look, frankly, because of the leadership that Gordon Brown showed on this issue, with the help of the whole Government and the devolved administrations, we will live up to the guarantee that being in the armed forces will never again mean getting worse public services than others.

That is the least that our people can expect.

But, we should go further.

There are times when we should give special treatment to the armed forces and their families.

Special service deserves special treatment.

That is why we are going to radical ly improve the compensation scheme for injured personnel.

Nothing can ever compensate fully for the most severe injuries – but our people deserve the best that we can give them.

For the most seriously injured, we are going to double the lump-sum payment.

Together with the extra pension for their injury, guaranteed for life, that change will deliver up to one and a half million pounds.

Many of those who do so much for us in the armed forces left school at 16 or 17. They didn’t take up the chance of further or higher education.

In the future, together with John Denham, I want to offer a second chance to service leavers.

Those who have served for six years or more, when they leave will be entitled to free education – up to degree level.

My priority as the Secretary of State for Defence is to invest in our people and in the equipment they need to carry out the difficult tasks that they are undertaking today.

The promise of our Command Paper builds on the billions of pounds of investment we have made in equipment:

* armoured vehicles

* helicopters

* body armour

That job is not yet complete.  But, it allows our Commanders to describe the Brigade in Afghanistan as the best equipped ever to be sent into operations.

The promise of our Command White Paper builds upon all of this and our investment in health, expanding mental health services, and improving accommodation.

It builds upon all of this and the increases we have made in pay. For the last two years our service personnel received the highest pay increases in the public sector.

All of this has allowed the Royal British Legion to say that the Military Covenant is back in balance.

But, there is one more thing that they want.

They want you to understand what they have achieved, and are achieving.

The 15,000 troops that we have working across the world, 12,000 of them between Iraq and Afghanistan, are making a positive difference.

They deserve your recognition and thanks.

Conference, we have reached a turning point in our involvement in Iraq.

The Iraqi armed forces, supported by British and US Forces, have taken on – and defeated – the militia in Basrah.

In Basrah, there has been a transformation in the quality of life for ordinary Iraqis.

Free from thuggery and intimidation, normal life is returning.

Cafes and restaurants are re-opening.

Shops and markets are bustling.

Women are able to walk the streets unveiled.

As important, improved security means that economic reconstruction can start.

Investors are prepared to modernise the oil and gas and steel industries.

Security has improved right across Iraq and similar opportunities are opening up.

There are many reasons for this.

British troops have made a substantial contribution to the fact that next year there can be a “fundamental change of mission” in Iraq.

By any standard, thi s is a hugely important milestone.

At conference this week we have Iraqi politicians, government officials and trade unionists showing the growing confidence of politics and civil society.

A democratically elected Iraqi government with the ability to control its own security, the support of its own people and the resources to grow its own economy.

That is the legacy of our Armed Forces in Iraq.

Conference, in Afghanistan, although we face a longer haul, and the task of reconstruction is so much greater, our brave troops are making a positive difference too.

Afghanistan is a country, for 30 years torn apart by war.

Oppressed by the Taliban.

Two generations were lost to education.

Al-Qaeda trained for and launched terrorist attacks across the world from its ungoverned territory.

Only 1 in 10 Afghans had access to health care.

Girls were banned from school.

Thanks to our British troops – along with allies from 40 countries – the Taliban have been beaten back.

Where once they boasted they would drive us from the country, they now know they cannot and rely on cowardly terrorist attacks, mostly on their own people.

Improved security in the major towns has allowed the rebuilding of physical infrastructure to begin.

4000 km of roads.

2000 schools repaired or reconstructed.

Just three weeks ago, British soldiers transported a new turbine to the Kajaki dam.

When up and running this hydro-electric scheme will provide electricity to 1.8m people.

Over 8 in 10 Afghans have access to health care now.

And six million children attend school – two million of them girls. For each of these children this is potentially a life-changing event, a huge liberation.

I have always been clear that while progress has been made we still have long uphill task. It is difficult and dangerous and it will take us years to achieve.

The challenge of nation building in Afghanistan is a long-term commitment and the terrorists will continue to try and prevent progress.

But we have a duty to recognise not just the difficulties but what has actually been achieved and to celebrate it.

Conference, no Defence Secretary takes lightly the responsibility of sending our people into conflict.

However, sometimes, it is simply not possible to avoid military intervention.  Sometimes, the defence of our national interest or the defence of the helpless demands it.

We should not sign up to the responsibility to protect without signing up to the means to deliver that protection.

A 21st century progressive foreign policy requires us to have armed forces who can intervene if necessary far from home.

There is no-one in this conference hall who does not believe that, though many of us do so with great reluctance, knowing the reality of conflict.

But none of us can avoid the implications for our armed forces of our ambitions.

Those fine words and ambitions bring with them an obligation to those people whom we ask to do this difficult and dangerous work.

We must never forget that.

Des Browne – 2005 Speech to OGC Efficiency Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by the then Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Des Browne, on 11th November 2005.

Opening Comments

1. Good morning ladies and gentleman. It’s my pleasure to be here this morning – let me thank John for that kind introduction, and OGC for inviting me to say a few words.

2. Firstly, I recognise and applaud the work each of you is doing to help deliver on efficiency.

3. From analysis and partnership at the centre, to frontline implementation on the ground – this is a common endeavour for common gain. Thank you.

4. Today, I want to acknowledge some of the successes of efficiency – and to think about the next steps down this road. And to put this in context, I want to start with the global challenge that makes efficiency matter now more than it ever mattered.

Five Global Challenges

5. Before I talk about efficiency and effectiveness, let me set out the context and the challenge that motivates this government.

6. Economics and energy – terrorism, technology and demography. Globalisation has posed and is posing tough questions, and our answers must be up to scratch.

7. These are worldwide challenges that raise the bar for government, and for each of us. Not since the new frontier of the 1960s have we faced so much threat and so much opportunity.

8. Strong economic relations are our first challenge. Just this week Britain hosted a state visit by President Hu Jintao of China, the largest nation on Earth. A country with economic growth running at around an astounding 9% each year – and which offers our businesses and our economy huge opportunities.

9. China has already achieved tremendous success – lifting a generation out of poverty in just 20 years. Transforming and renewing the economy – and now reaching out, opening up to the world economy.

10. The second challenge is our environment – and the energy we use. Over several decades the price of oil has trebled – and this country has moved from importing to exporting to importing the commodity. As our industry and economy develops, so too our technology has deepened, our skills improved.

11. But can we do better? I believe so. On climate change, on energy efficiency, with international co-operation – these are critical issues for each and every nation. Issues that pose grave questions for security too – something Gordon Brown has been focusing on this week, with our allies in the Middle East.

12. Which brings us on to our third challenge of globalisation – terrorism. This too is a defining feature of our 21st century landscape – inescapably so. And while we may well differ on how to deal with it, we will unite in denying the terrorists victory.

13. After the July attacks here in London, brought back to mind the tragic blasts in Jordan two days ago, it is clearer than ever that this is a threat that we cannot ignore.

14. The fourth challenge is demographics. From pensions and our ageing population through to the role of migration and the engagement of women in our workforce. Demography is hugely important – a policy issue we must get right.

15. Underlying all of these is the pace of change of technology – the fifth challenge – and the impact it too has had on this agenda is tremendous. Reaching outwards, sending a scientific mission to Venus. Reaching inwards, combating viral infections, developing cutting edge medicine.

Facing the Challenge with CSR’07

16. That’s a snapshot of some issues from this week alone. But it is also a vision of the next decade and beyond – an environment of permanent change that we must embrace.

17. We don’t normally associate these trends and these events with efficiency. But I say to you all today that we should. It is our duty as public servants to be realistic and to modernise and to improve and to innovate to succeed.

18. And to do that, we must have government as efficient as possible. A public sector that exemplifies best practice – where an average solution is no solution. And where there is no excuse for not maximising our opportunities.

19. That’s why we have announced a new Comprehensive Spending Review process which will culminate in 2007. This review – the CSR – is the next fundamental examination of what the public sector does, why it does it, and how it does it.

20. It is about how this Government prepares for those global challenges. And it goes beyond the scope of the last spending reviews – it will set the tone and direction of our public spending for the next decade.

21. We must look at energy, at the environment, at security, at pensions, at the changing global economic landscape. And we must equip ourselves well and do the best we can with the resources available.

22. Our duty is to succeed. And one part of that will be locking-in those commitments we’ve already begun to realize – about buying better, transacting cheaper, regulating smarter and releasing both money and professional time for the frontline.

23. These changes will have fundamental and far-reaching implications for public services. They demand innovative policy responses, and they need co-ordination across departmental boundaries.

24. Building on the long-term framework this Government has put in place, it is also right that periodically we re-examine public spending allocations – and in fundamental ways.

25. It is right that we examine what the investment and reform to date have delivered – and it is right that we decide now what further steps must be taken to ensure Britain is fully equipped to meet the challenges of the decade ahead.

26. That’s why the CSR will take a zero based approach in assessing departmental spending, delivery and effectiveness.

27. We will examine the key long-term trends and challenges that will shape the next decade – and we will assess how public services need to respond. This process will be informed by the work of long-term reviews already underway for the future of transport, for skills, for pensions and for local services.

28. And we will look at how the public expenditure framework can best embed and extend efficiency improvements – supporting long-term and sustainable investment.

Efficiency & Better Public Services

29. Efficiency. Everyone wants it. Few  want to talk about it. It can be technocratic, riddled with abbreviations that need explanation, and long lists of numbers and possible outcomes. It is an ambiguous word. You’d think it perfect material for an MP.

30. But when I was first thinking about this speech – and deciding what I wanted to say today – I was reminded by exactly how much efficiency and effectiveness go hand in hand.

31. Indeed, my constituents often talk to me about local issues that really matter to them – whether the school is any good, what the new doctor’s like, how well their job is going and so on. If I’m lucky, about “Strictly Come Dancing” and the football too.

32. And those local issues – from the school run to having your tonsils out – behind those issues are frontline public services that rely on the solid investment that we’ve put in place. That rely on us being both efficient and effective.

33. For my constituents and everyone that relies on us in Whitehall and more importantly on the ground with you – that means we must make sure investment isn’t wasted and that it isn’t frittered away.

34. But let’s be honest about it – efficiency is also about trust, and it is about delivering on our promises to realise 21st century, effective services. It’s why we were re-elected, and it’s what I, like you, am focusing on.

Progress So Far

35. Make no mistake – delivering efficient public services is not the same as reducing the size of government – but it is about seeing ever better government. It is about investing funds where they make the biggest difference. And it is about running a better, more effective, smarter government.

36. So I can stand up here at the Queen Elizabeth conference centre, and genuinely say to you all that we’ve had an all round reasonable start, to date. We’ve realised £2 billion in annual efficiency gains – delivered last April.

37. And for that I want to thank you all for your considerable efforts so far.

38. We’ve had the first 12,500 reductions in civil service posts, on target, alongside 4,300 relocations. And since April, progress has been steady. We are on target. We are delivering what we said we would deliver.

39. Look behind the figures, and you’ll all see a real transformation afoot, with success across departments and public sector organisations that is worth celebrating.

40. The Home Office, where I used to work, has saved £21 million per year through reducing the cost of desktop IT systems.

41. DWP, another former department of mine, has saved even more – £180 million per year, through re-aligning contracts with EDS.

42. And over at the Department of Health, renegotiation of a drugs contract alone resulted in an overall 10% cut in price – releasing around £950 million each year from this year on.

43. These three alone will combine to save taxpayers over £1.1 billion each year – serious money to channel back into frontline work.

Excellence, Not Adequacy

44. Clearly, each pound saved is a pound for better public services – for frontline implementation, worthy of the name ‘public service’.

45. But earlier you may have noticed that I described our efforts to date as ‘reasonable’, not ‘extraordinary’. That’s because there is still much to achieve and much to do.

46. The first months following the last Spending Review were a time for proper planning and preparation.

47. But we are now six months into the efficiency programme, and working through the early stages of real delivery.

48. This is where things really kick in, and where, inevitably with a large and complex programme, success depends on hard work and personal commitment.

49. I know some of the efficiency gains later on in the programme may well be hard to realise. It’s likely that what is easier to deliver today, will be delivered today – leaving the hardest to the end.

50. But we must – and we will – prepare and expect to see this thing through. We have to ask whether more is needed – whether more can be achieved. I believe it can.

51. That’s not me thinking aloud, that’s based on our experience with areas like government procurement. For example, most of us who work in offices have computer screens on our desks – they’re pretty much standard these days.

52. Yet I understand research undertaken by OGC shows public sector organisations paying wildly different prices for this same standard product. Some are paying as little as £159 per monitor, yet others as much as £269. For the same equipment.

53. If there were more sharing of the best deals across the public sector, then I believe considerable additional efficiencies could be realised.

54. That’s why I wholeheartedly welcome OGC’s intention actively to promote the best deals. Given that, let me stress right now – bad practice is simply not an option for the public sector. So I expect OGC to challenge organisations to justify why they’re not taking up the best deals.

55. By seeking real collaboration in our procurement, we can ensure a better deal – and hopefully the days of choosing not to improve will be long gone.

56. This – alongside work to identify better provision of common services from HR to finance – represents a strengthening of OGC’s role in delivering efficiency. And that is to be welcomed.

57. But this reinforcement is to collaborate more, not to control more. And that is doubly the case for the wider public sector beyond civil service departments.

58. Afterall, we can only lock-in that culture of efficiency if people believe this is right – if you all seek efficiency because of what it offers, not because we simply tell you to.

Making Efficiency Work

59. Now, as the Minister with responsibility for the Efficiency Programme, I want to do more to make this work – to support all of your efforts at OGC, in government, and across the wider public sector.

60. And rest assured, the Efficiency Programme is a key part of my work programme.

61. That’s why I am introducing ‘efficiency stocktakes’ with departments, a proper chance for a joint review of progress with Ministers in each department.

62. For those of you familiar with it, they’ll be similar to the stocktakes on delivery that the Prime Minister holds with departments and his Delivery Unit – an opportunity to focus on performance and progress.

63. With this in mind, I’m also establishing a network of Ministerial efficiency champions across government, to share progress and the hard lessons learned – and to take a vested interest in this agenda.

64. Afterall, efficiency can only be about effectiveness if there is leadership on this from the top, as well as out front amongst the grass roots.

65. We will make sure that leadership continues.

Closing Remarks

66. True efficiency cannot simply exist in isolation – we must always judge it by what it allows – by the improvements in our healthcare, across our schools and throughout the frontline services that everyone wants.

67. It is part and parcel of this country being fit for the purpose of meeting the five global challenges I talked about before.

68. A more efficient public sector delivers more and better for the same or less – it is as simple as that. And for every 21st century government looking to deliver real results, efficiency must mean effectiveness.

69. Thank you.

Nick Brown – 2000 Speech to the Ulster Farmers’ Union Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by the Agriculture Minister, Nick Brown to the Ulster Farmers’ Union Conference on 27th April 2000.

There is a real crisis in parts of the farming industry. The crisis that has hit especially hard in Northern Ireland.

The main causes of the decline in farm incomes are well known. The fall in international commodity prices, the collapse of Russian and Far East markets, the ongoing effects of complying with BSE controls and the effect of exchange rates between the pound and the euro.

Today I want to set out how the Government sees the future of farming. I want explain the steps we are taking in partnership with the industry to move towards better times, in Northern Ireland and in the rest of the United Kingdom.

Our long-term strategy is for a more competitive and sustainable farming industry with a stronger market orientation. Farming cannot remain reliant on subsidies based on levels of production. Public supports for agriculture must explicitly reflect the public benefits that farming can bring. The food chain needs to be joined up. It is my firm view that cooperation and collaboration in agriculture and the food industry can bring benefits to farmers and growers, processors, manufacturers, retailers and consumers.

PM’s Summit

At the Prime Minister’s summit on 30 March Ministers, farmers’ representatives and leaders of the food industry agreed that this was the only way forward. The summit rolled out a 62-point Action Plan for Farming, supported by just over £200 million in new Government expenditure. The Action Plan provides help to those sectors in most immediate need. More than this, it contains a range of measures to help farmers find new and better ways to improve their businesses by making them more market oriented and more responsive to changing circumstances.

BSE – Low incidence status for Northern Ireland

BSE is the source of many of the most burdensome regulations facing the livestock sector. This is necessary to protect the public, and to build confidence in UK beef. The measures now in place ensure our beef is as safe as any in Europe. Northern Ireland has a very low incidence of BSE, reflecting in part the long established cattle tracing system here. Achieving low incidence status would underpin confidence in Northern Ireland beef, and would be a big boost for exports.

The objective case for placing Northern Ireland in the low incidence category is overwhelming. This has been my view from the outset. There are practical questions that need to be considered carefully. A change in Northern Ireland’s status has implications for trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, the nature of which will depend on the kind and extent of controls which have to be put in place. The crucial point is of course to get on with it – which is what we intend to do.

The Government intends to hold a full consultation involving all interested parties on the issues and the implications. We are working closely with the European Commission on these issues, and I want to place on record my thanks to Commissioner Byrne and his colleagues in the Commission for the constructive and helpful approach they are taking over the case we are making for Northern Ireland. Just as it is important to get on with this, it is also important to get it right.

In the meantime the lifting of the weight limit on the OTMS will provide some welcome relief to beef and dairy farmers throughout the UK.

Pig industry

In terms of the immediate aid to those sectors in greatest need I know farmers in Northern Ireland will welcome new help for the pig industry.

The whole UK pig industry is under severe pressure. The most recent downturn in the pig cycle has been unusually harsh. The recent strengthening in market price is encouraging, but it remains true that substantial restructuring is required to secure a viable long-term future. The difficult trading conditions of the past 2 years have left the industry with a substantial debt burden. This makes investment in the future difficult to achieve unaided. I know that in Northern Ireland restructuring is underway, and that it has been painful.

The Government intends to help the pig industry make the changes needed to secure its long-term future. We have decided to offer short-term assistance and, in close consultation with the National Pig Association, the MLC in Great Britain and other interests in Northern Ireland, will be introducing a restructuring scheme as soon as European Commission approval has been obtained.

As presently envisaged, the scheme will have two main parts:

An outgoers element, aimed at those who wish to leave pig farming; and

An ongoers element, for those who wish to remain in the pig industry and want to restructure their business to make it viable in the longer term.

The scheme is worth £26 million to pig producers in the first of three years. It will help pig producers reduce breeding capacity, remove costs, overcome competitive disadvantage and restore long-term viability. My intention is – if I can – to backdate the scheme to June 1998 to try to provide help for those who have already left the industry.

The scheme offers the best way forward for the pig sector within the constraints of EU rules on state aids. Brid Rogers, Joyce Quin and I met with Commissioner Franz Fischler to discuss the possibility of compensation for the ban on the commercial use of pig meat and bone meal. It was not possible to come up with a scheme that met the legal requirements on state aids. A restructuring scheme was the only legal option.

While we are still working on the details, I can tell you that for the outgoers element we will be inviting tenders for reducing capacity on a sealed bid system. The lowest cost bids will be awarded funds. Discussions with the industry suggest that payments will be in the region of £100-£200 per pig breeding place abolished, totalling between £15-20 million.

We will continue to work in close consultation with the industry and your own union leaders in preparing the detail of the scheme over the next two months. Again, the important point is to get on with it.

The pig industry will also benefit from our decision to postpone the implementation of the IPPC Directive from 2004 until 2007. Implementation for the poultry sector will also be postponed from 2003 to 2007.

Rural Development Regulation

While it is right that immediate help is being provided to sectors in real need, we cannot focus on short-term problems at the expense of the long-term direction for agriculture. The Rural Development Regulation – the second pillar of the Common Agricultural Policy – is going to be an increasingly important element of agricultural policy. In Northern Ireland the RDR is complemented by the opportunities offered through Objective 1 support.

The purpose of these new policy instruments and the new money is to enable farmers to modernise, restructure, and diversify their businesses. They will encourage environmentally beneficial farming practices. And they will support off farm development and capture the economic benefits that this can bring to farmers.

The Northern Ireland administration is responsible for developing and implementing policies to meet priorities in Northern Ireland. However let me say as someone who is trying to help that it is important to keep up the momentum for a forward thinking agriculture strategy that was started by the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Support For Hill Farmers

A central feature of the Rural Development Regulation is support for hill farming. The Government recognises the difficulties hill farmers are facing in all parts of the UK. We also recognise that hill farming underpins economic and social activity in remote rural areas, as well as providing valuable environmental stewardship. The Government has paid an extra £60 million to UK hill farmers in 1999 and 2000. This will be paid again in 2001, with about £10 million set aside for business advice to hill farmers. I intend to proceed with the annual UK review of hill farming to focus on detailed problems.

Hill farmers will also benefit from the payment of extra agrimonetary compensation this year to beef and sheep producers.

In line with the movement away from direct production subsidies and towards to support for social and environmental goods, the method of payment of the Less Favoured Area component of hill farm support is changing. Northern Ireland has its own proposals for hill farm support in the future and we expect that they will receive EC Commission approval in time for payments early in 2001.

Red Tape

The Government has a responsibility to help farmers compete in the marketplace. Bearing down on red tape helps to create the much sought-after level playing field for UK farmers. I am committed to reducing the burden of red tape on farmers and to the need for better regulation in all areas. The Government recently carried out a joint review with the industry in relation to IACS, intervention and the Meat Hygiene Service. The Government was able to accept 98 of the 107 recommendations. We are continuing to work with the industry to reduce the regulatory burden, while all the time ensuring that the public interest is protected.

In relation to EU obligations, I will continue to work closely with my European colleagues to ensure that any new regulation is necessary and implemented in the simplest possible way. New regulations must not be over bureaucratic or unreasonably burdensome. For its part the UK Government will make sure that we do not gold plate EU requirements.


These are tough times for farming. The changes that are affecting the industry are remorseless. We cannot set our faces against change and hope that problems will go away. The way through is to approach each challenge rationally. We can face up to our difficulties together. As the UK Agriculture Minister I am committed to making sure that farming in Northern Ireland – with its many special and unique features – is fully recognised when decisions are made. I can assure you of the commitment of the whole UK Government to pressing Northern Ireland’s case for BSE low incidence status. We are in this together. And I will continue working with the farming communities and elected representatives of Northern Ireland to enable farmers here to get through to better times.

Gordon Brown – 2010 Speech at Labour HQ Following Election Defeat


Below is the text of the speech made by Gordon Brown, the then Prime Minister, at Labour HQ in May 2010.

On the back of our party cards it says: By the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more together than we do alone.

And in constituency after constituency despite all odds we proved that again and again on Thursday night.  By the strength of our common endeavour we achieved more together than any of us ever have done on our own.

And so I am here to thank every member of Labour’s staff, every volunteer, every member, every supporter for what you have done in the past, and what I know you will do in the future.

To thank also Harriet, Douglas, Peter, Ray Collins, the Chair of our NEC Ann Black, and our candidates and campaigners.

We know – more certainly now than ever before – that there is a strong progressive majority in Britain.

I wish more than I can possibly say that I could have mobilised that majority to carry the election– but I could not.

And so now I have to accept – and indeed assert – personal responsibility. The fault is mine, and I will carry it alone.

So to give this party I love the best possible chance to prepare for its future, I have resigned the leadership of the Labour Party with immediate effect.

I wish my successor in that role well; and I will stand by Labour’s new leader, whoever that may be — loyally and without equivocation.

Because one thing will not change: I am Labour, and Labour I will always be.

Let me a few days after our election thank those who never gave up and never gave in, who fought so hard and whose dignity in defeat makes us so proud.

In the past few weeks, our Labour Party has shown, even when up against the odds, what we are made of.

Of course we went into this election massively outspent and with, shall I call it, a difficult media environment. In the most difficult of circumstances after an economic crisis a political expenses crisis and after 13 years in government it is to your enduring credit that we denied our opposition the majority they took for granted.

And you know better than anybody how hard fought this election was, and how dependent we were on the small, well disciplined team of which you were such a crucial part. Strong policy, robust research, creative communications and inspired new media work were allied with the most targeted and the most commanding ground war I have seen in my whole time in politics.  And for all that, I thank you.

And I’m proud to say that we proved last Thursday that committed people matter more than limitless cash.

Sarah and I will never be able to thank you enough for what you have done. But I hope when you look back on these times you will tell your children, and your children’s children, about the Britain we built together and the good that we did in this campaign.

Because let me tell you what it was really all about. Last week when I was out knocking on people’s doors … and this wasn’t recorded on tape … I met a girl who was exactly the same age as the Labour government. Born on the 1st of may 1997, she had grown to know and love a Britain with Sure Start, with one to one tuition, with the expectation that every person from every background will have the chance to get on and not just get by.

She took opportunity for granted, and we fought for the chance for every child to be born in a Britain like that. We fought for the future.

And we continue to fight unceasingly because progress is not a word we just speak but a reality we have been creating where the ambit of opportunity always expands and never contracts. And we fight for progress because we know the energy and talent of the British people are boundless whenever they are released from stereotype and allowed to soar.

We know that progressive change is possible, because our very record shows it is.

The minimum wage.

Sure Start.

The child tax credit.

The shortest waiting times in NHS history.

Record exam results in schools.

More police officers than ever.

Half a million children out of poverty.

And two million more jobs than in 1997.

And on top of everything we did to change Britain for the better and forever, we can be proud that there are people alive in Africa today, children in school there who have access to health care there, because of what we have done here thousands of miles away.

So when this think of these times think on the lives saved and changed, and always remember – that New Labour’s achievements do not belong to me or to Tony Blair, but to you.

We fought and will continue to fight for our public services –  services that are not something that we conjure up on our own– or that most of us can pay for by ourselves – but services that are valued because they and the realization of a true nobility that sees beyond selfish individualism, on to what can be done through our collective endeavour.

That is why we fought – and why we together we will keep fighting for justice.

So tell your children you were a part of this – but also never to stop believing that people of courage and conviction can lift our country and make it equal to its best ideals.

So to those who gave their hearts, their hard work and their votes to labour, i say thank you. I will never forget how we stood together – in happier days and through the hardest hours.

And so as you fight on, know that I will be with you, heart and soul.

And know that you have my undying gratitude, because you have given the best of yourselves to the greatest of causes. And because you have fought every hour of every day you will be able to say for the rest of your days;

I was there.

I was on the progressive side of history.

And you are part of a Labour Party which is and will always be the greatest fighting force for fairness our country has ever seen.

We are irrepressible: we fight for fairness, and tomorrow we fight on.

Gordon Brown – 2010 Speech on Election Pledges


Below is the text of the speech made by Gordon Brown, the then Prime Minister, before the 2010 General Election.

In the history of each nation there are moments of clear decision. Moments when paths are chosen and decisions made that impact not only the months or years to come, but shape the whole course of the decades that follow. So it was in 1997. And so it is today, in 2010.

In the dawn of this new decade, Britain faces the biggest choice for a generation. It is a choice about whether we want to continue on the road to economic recovery or want to turn off, whether we believe that we can face the biggest challenges with the strength of a community around us, or whether every individual should simply be left to sink or swim.

The choice is real, the risks are real, and let us be clear, the consequences are real.

If we get it wrong, we face what they themselves call an age of austerity. If we get it right, we can achieve an age of shared prosperity.

The economy is more central and the choice more serious in this election than any time in my lifetime.

That is why top of Labour’s pledges to the people is economic recovery.

When people ask what are my top three priorities for the country let me tell them – keeping on the road to recovery, keeping on the road to recovery, keeping on the road to recovery.

A sharp right turn off that road would risk your job, your home, your savings.

Securing the economic recovery or wrecking it – that is the choice the country will face in the weeks ahead.

Elections are choices for the future. And so I now pledge myself and my party to fighting each and every day for a fairer future for the people of Britain, a future in which the many and not just the few have the chance to earn a better life for themselves and their children.

We will always put the British people first – before personal interest, our party interest, or any vested interest. We will renew this nation – not for our own benefit or the benefit of a narrow section or clique – but for all the people of this country we love.

We are the people’s party – and we are pledged to serve the people. Today I am announcing the five pledges on which we will fight this election. Each is substantial, deliverable and carefully costed. If you will support us, we will:

– Secure the recovery and halve the deficit through economic growth, fair taxes and cuts to lower priority spending.

We pledge that we will:

–  Raise family living standards, by keeping mortgage rates as low as possible, by increasing tax credits for families with young children, by providing new help for first-time buyers and by restoring the link between the state pension and earnings from 2012.

We will:

– Build a high tech economy, by supporting businesses and industry to create 1 million more skilled jobs and modernising our infrastructure with high-speed rail, a green investment bank and broadband access for all.

We will:

– Protect frontline investment in policing, schools, childcare and the NHS with a new guarantee of cancer test results within a week.

And we will:

– Strengthen fairness in communities through an Australian style points-based system to control immigration, through guaranteed education, apprenticeships and jobs for young people; and through a crack down on anti-social behaviour.

I know that in this time of cynicism and lack of trust in politics, there are some people who will say that politicians will promise the earth but never deliver, that a pledge isn’t worth the paper it is written on.

And I understand that, but these are not general pledges without dates, without tests, without scrutiny. these are our pledges to every single citizen, tied to timetables, regular reporting and proof of performance.

So I want to build-in accountability mechanisms to the pledges we are making, so that you can hold me to account, and we can test our progress against our promises in the year to come.

I believe the business of government should be more business-like – that the British people are the boss and like any employer they deserve to know about the performance of their team.

And so I am proposing the following.

Firstly, Sir Tim Berners Lee, the man most associated with the invention of the internet, is the government’s advisor on data openness and transparency all across the internet.

In the months to come he will be ensuring that there is the maximum possible information available to the public at all times.

This rapid extension of transparency will show in real time how government are delivering against our pledges.

Secondly, I will set out a clear and public annual contract for each new Cabinet Minister, detailing what I expect them and their department to deliver to the British people, and that their continued appointment is dependent on their delivery just as it would be in a business or any other organisation.

Thirdly, I will require the Cabinet Secretary to performance manage the Permanent Secretary of each department against their delivery of pledges and other priorities as set out in the letter of appointment.

Because to be in Government is an honour – and if it is extended to us once again I am not prepared to waste a single second. We have big plans for this country – and we intend to see them through.

We have already laid the foundations for a better fairer future in this week’s Budget for growth and jobs – a Labour Budget with progressive priorities. If you want to know who and what we stand for, just look at what Alastair announced;

– We’re extending the young person’s guarantee, to ensure that young people continue to be guaranteed a job, training or working experience if they can’t find work within six months

– We’re funding 20,000 extra undergraduate places on courses starting this year

– We are investing in Britain’s 21st century infrastructure by creating a green investment bank that will support low-carbon projects

– We are offering first time buyers a two year stamp duty holiday on transactions up to £250,000

– From next month we will make additional payments of £100 into the child trust fund accounts of disabled children

– And we will bring in a weekly increase in the basic state pension of £2.40 from next month, bringing greater comfort to 12 million older people

That’s the difference with Labour – that’s the change we choose. So never doubt that you can build a fairer future. Never doubt we can lift this country and make it equal to its best ideals.

Some will say that we should give up on such high ambitions, that the times to build a fair society are gone and now there’s nothing great that we can do. But 65 years ago, in the aftermath of war, our Labour Party stood before the British people and asked for a mandate to build a National Health Service.

And what is the lesson of those days? Let others resign themselves to small ambitions – we the Labour Party have never believed that difficult times should mean diminished dreams.

Caution says it is too difficult. But we are not cautious but resolute – because our party is the greatest force for fairness our country has ever seen.

Fear says it is beyond our reach. But we are not afraid but bold – because our party will show the people that we are the greatest force for fairness our country has ever seen.

Cynicism about politics says they’re all the same. But we are not cynical – we are energized – because our party will prove again that we are the greatest force for fairness our country has ever seen.

Resignation says ‘they’ve had their time’. But Labour can never resign our ideals to fate we mark out a path ahead – we fight and we win whatever the odds because our party is and will always be the greatest force for fairness our country has ever seen.

We will prove it again and again because our whole history tells us never to believe that injustice is forever woven into the fabric of our lives, never to believe that fairness is a dream beyond our grasp, never to doubt the British people’s desire for decency.

So let the message go out from Nottingham – we may be the underdog but we are the people’s party and we never give up.

And remember in the next few weeks, every step forward we make. Every advance we achieve. Every family whose aspirations we can meet is a victory not just for us, but for that fundamental desire for decency of the British people.

Every time we change a life we change the world, we’ve done it before, and we will do it again.

We are fighting for Britain’s future – and we intend to win.

Gordon Brown – 2010 Speech to Welsh Labour Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Gordon Brown, the then Prime Minister, to the Welsh Labour Party conference on 27th February 2010.

Thank you friends – and let me say today that our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Chile who have suffered their country’s worst earthquake in 50 years. The people of Chile are in agony today, and Britain stands ready to help.

And friends I wanted to talk about what we’ve achieved together – a Labour-led Welsh administration working with a Labour Government – a partnership that has changed Wales for the better and forever.

You should be proud of the pioneering Proact and React jobs investments that have saved and created thousands of jobs.

And for children and families, a nursery and early learning revolution that is transforming thousands of children’s lives.

For school children, the largest ever school modernisation programme in the history of our country.

For Welsh teenagers and adults a modern skills for work strategy a million miles away from the so called youth opportunities of the Tory years.

For young couples starting out, funds to deliver more than 6000 affordable homes.

For travel throughout Wales, new investment in our railways and in the Ebbw Vale railway line – a key line connecting our communities, closed under the Tories and re-opened with Labour.

And for our older heroes – Welsh Labour made Wales the first nation of the UK to offer free bus travel for pensioners.

In so many ways Labour Wales has led and had a huge an impact on the world – thinking of others and not just ourselves… And so let me also congratulate you on becoming the very first Fairtrade nation on our planet.

So today we’re talking about major Labour achievements, great social advances. Even in spite of a global recession and the difficulties we have faced, we’ve had thirteen years of progress – and let us say that what we have built together with the people of Wales we will never now let the Conservatives destroy.

You know there is one symbol the people of Wales have chosen to demonstrate how you are building the future.

Every time a new baby is born in Wales you plant a new tree to celebrate that birth.

And in planting a new tree you are not only protecting the environment for them and for the generation to come, you are sending a message about the future, that every single child should be able to grow and thrive and realise their potential to the full.

That’s what I love about Wales, that with the greatest traditions of community inspiring us from the past, you are a nation that is always thinking of the future.

And so today I want to talk to you about the big choices we face for the future. I want to talk about the jobs of the future, the industries of the future and the public services of the future.

I want to talk about the future we can win if we make the right choices, and what we all stand to lose if we make the wrong ones.

And let me say our first economic priority, our second economic priority, and our third economic priority for our country remains as it has always been – jobs, jobs, jobs.

Why? Because I know like you that every redundancy is a personal tragedy. Every lost job is an aspiration destroyed. Every business closure is someone’s dream in ruins.

So we must never allow a return to the years of the Conservative Government – uncaring, unfair, years of mass unemployment and lost hope.

Our shared concern about the tragedies of unemployment arises from our background and our values.

Like so many here I come from a family whose grandfather went without work during much of the 1930s.

A grandfather whose small savings gave his son, my father, the chance of an education, the first in our family to go to university.

And the lesson of those days is that even in the worst of times families helped each other, supported each other, came to the aid of each other through thousands of acts of friendship caring and support. And that reveals the most important lesson of all; that it’s not markets that create morals: morals spring from the compassion of our hearts.

In the last two years in the face of the worst global financial recession seen since the 1930’s we have had to make some of the biggest and most difficult decisions. But that’s what leadership is all about.

We had a choice – to take control of failing banks and to nationalise Northern Rock or to take the Tory view, to reject on ideological grounds the very idea of public ownership.

And what happened? The savings of ordinary families were protected not by default but by a decision made by a Labour Government on behalf of, and with the support of, the British people – and in the face of the ideological opposition of the Conservative Party.

We had a choice to do what the Conservatives said and ‘let the recession take its course’.

Or to help 17,000 businesses in Wales and 300,000 businesses across the United Kingdom to get the cash flow they needed.

That didn’t happen by chance; it happened by choice our choice – the choice of a Labour Government.

And then we had another decision; to leave the unemployed at the mercy of market forces or to support jobs and young people into work and training and ensure that 1.7 million more people are in work than if the experience of the last recession had been repeated.

So let’s be proud; of jobs protected not by accident but by our actions, actions a Labour Government took on behalf of and with the support of the British people – and in the face of the ideological opposition of the Conservative Party.

And then we had another choice – to help 300,000 families with advice and assistance with their mortgages so they can stay in the homes they worked so hard to buy.

And that meant people’s homes saved not by chance – but by our choice – the choice of a Labour Government on behalf of and with the support of the British people – and in the face of the ideological opposition of the Conservative Party.

At each turning point our opponents would have made the wrong decision.

But for us doing nothing was simply not an option, because, for us, unemployment is not a price worth paying.

And now we have a choice in the coming days.

The Conservative Party always opposed the fiscal stimulus; they want to cut now the support we are giving to jobs, homes and businesses.

A few days ago they said they want to tear up the 2010 budget, impose deep cuts immediately and accused us of moral cowardice for not doing so.

Of course, typically of them, they called for big cuts before they called for small cuts before they called for modest cuts before they called for big cuts yet again.

So their biggest claim to be the party of change is that they are the Party that keeps changing their minds.

But I say: the consistent truth is that just as public investment has been the only way to move the economy out of recession and just as we have in place a four year deficit reduction plan to halve the deficit in the years to come, public investment must be maintained throughout 2010 until the road to recovery is assured.

And so I tell you: we will not put at risk the recovery and the jobs, the businesses and the homes of thousands of people who would be the direct victims of immediate Conservative cuts coming at the worst possible time.

And now from today there is an even bigger choice the country now faces for times to come – how we create the jobs of the future – how we can secure our shared prosperity and prevent the unemployment that every Conservative Government has brought.

In the 1980s and the 1990s here in Wales and around the UK we marched for jobs, we rallied for jobs, we petitioned for jobs.

And then we got into Government and we set about creating and supporting jobs. And now we have to work hard again for the new jobs for the future.

In 1997 employment in Wales was 1 million 200,000 men and women in work the latest estimate is almost 1.3 million men and women in work –

That’s despite the recession nearly 100,000 more people in jobs than when we first came to office.

Nearly 100,000 more men and women in work than in 1997. Nearly 100,000 more families that have the chance of prosperity they didn’t have. That’s nearly 100,000 people more able to contribute not just to their families but to the community.

And because every redundancy and period of unemployment is a matter of regret for me, I want us to do even better in the months to come.

That’s why I propose a new UK industrial policy to signal the creation across the country of 1.5 million skilled new jobs for the future.

Wales is leading the world in biotechnology with already a cluster of 250 companies.

Here at the institute of life sciences at Swansea University Wales is, with IBM, a world research hub for life sciences – with its world beating supercomputer dedicated to life science research.

And unlike the Conservatives we believe in and will push forward an industrial partnership between business, universities and Government to create over the next decade 100,000 new UK jobs. That means jobs with Labour, jobs at risk with the Conservatives.

And let me also congratulate Bangor University’s School of Chemistry for yet another world leading role from Wales – a plan to eradicate a disease which has killed millions – Wales leading the global fight against the scourge of tuberculosis.

And let us be proud that Wales is one of the countries leading the world with new jobs in energy – the UK pioneer for hydrogen energy, with the hydrogen engine test facility – and now the hydrogen highway, creating green jobs and companies to boost the low carbon economy. And while the Tories opposed the investment we made during the recession to help low carbon industries I can assure you that we will continue to invest in the green economy which can create another 400,000 future jobs.

And Wales can lead in broadband and digital too. Because while the Tories oppose the funding we are putting in place, a Labour Government can ensure that no business in Wales and no family in Wales is denied the chance to benefit from the digital revolution.

And let us be most proud of all that Wales is leading in the advanced manufacturing we need for the future.

And let us congratulate Airbus and the Labour-led Welsh Assembly on securing one of the biggest groups of apprentices on a single site in the country – young people in North Wales, working with Airbus to create the products of tomorrow.

That shows just what young people can do.

So never again should someone’s potential be lost before their lives have really begun. Never again should their talent be written off. Never again should their contribution be lost.

And that’s why, for the first time, we are putting in law young people’s rights to an apprenticeship and ensuring that an apprenticeship place is available for every suitably qualified young person by 2013. And thanks to Labour the minimum apprentice wage has just risen by more than 20 percent.

In total we will have spent five billion pounds creating jobs and helping millions of people into them and we will continue support for young people even as we cut the budget deficit in more than half in the next four years.

And it is because we are so determined to cut the deficit that we have already introduced tax changes and announced not only efficiency drives but cuts in some areas.

Because we have never shied away from tough choices and we never will.

And so I’m here to tell you that the Labour Party – our Government – has a strategy for prosperity – not just for the few, not for some, but for all. And even in the hard times we have not been deflected.

And so today let me say this to the British people; if each and every person who can find work is prepared to take it, then I am prepared to do what it takes to secure not only Britain’s recovery, but to advance further and faster to the full employment of our ambitions.

But let me also be clear; Labour’s focus on employment means precisely that. It means everyone who can work should work.

Because there’s nothing progressive about allowing people to languish on benefits while their talents go to waste. And there’s nothing left of centre about denying to some people the pride, the rewards and the worth of work.

That’s why we have told every young person who is offered work through our Future Jobs Fund that they will lose their benefit if they refuse a job. That’s why we have reformed the incapacity system so its no longer about what people cannot do but what people can.

And that’s why we have told benefit cheats that if they scam the system, they will face immediate penalties.

If young people don’t want to work, there will be no free passes. But for all those who are willing, you have a Government on your side.

And so let us reassert in this time and in this place – that the recession has not weakened but strengthened our resolve to create jobs, that Labour has not deserted our historic goal for employment, but we are redoubling our efforts to achieve it. And that this fragile global recovery is not a reason to change tack but the reason to stay the course.

And so today I feel compelled to warn you about the risk the Tories pose. The risk to the recovery, the risk to frontline services and yes, the risk to jobs. The risk to fairness.

I said last week that people should take a long hard look at the Conservatives. And now the time has come for some simple straightforward questions about the risks that they pose to our country and to our economy.

Because when they talk about change, just ask them a simple question: why they cannot tell you just weeks before their promised emergency budget which front line services they plan to cut this year, how many thousands of jobs are at risk and how much they would endanger the recovery.

And when they talk about change, ask them why they can find that £200,000 for each of these 3,000 richest estates in our country but they are this year proposing to take tax credits away from over a million families.

And when they talk about change, ask them why they say they can’t afford to guarantee front line police on our streets at the same time as undermining all the efforts we are making to close down tax havens.

Ask them why when times are hard for families they wanted an end in Wales to free bus passes for the elderly and free prescriptions.

Ask them why they want to isolate Britain on the fringe of Europe and work with only the most extreme right wing parties.

Ask them why they want to keep the hereditary principle in the House of Lords.

And ask them if they are the party of change why their highest priority at a time like this is to bring back fox hunting.

And you know – after their slogan was announced today, I really think we ought to ask them. How they can claim to be the party of change when these policies –defending the lords, backing fox hunting, designing inheritance tax cuts, are not exactly new but the very policies that have defined the Conservative Party for a hundred years.

Friends, in their policy of change for change’s sake, change that would take us backwards, they would risk our recovery, risk our frontline public services, and risk our country’s future.

They call themselves progressive Conservatives but what they offer is not a manifesto but a masquerade. Not a vote for change that would take us forwards but take us backwards. For they would make the wrong changes, at the wrong time, for the wrong reasons, to benefit the wrong people.

And let us be in no doubt; they are not the party of change for families but the party that would short-change families.

Child Tax Credits – Labour achievement. Tory target. But we will not let them do this to our families.

The Child Trust Fund – Labour achievement. Tory target. But we will not let them do this to our children.

21st century schools for a 21st century education – Labour achievement. Tory target. But we will not let them do this to our young people.

A Children’s Centre in every community – Labour achievement. Tory target. But we will not them do this to our future.

The Social Chapter which helped deliver maternity, paternity and flexible working rights – Labour achievement. Tory target. But we will not let them do that to our rights.

If the Tories were ever to trick the British people and win the election we would see in a matter of months a generation of achievements starting to be wiped out.

A hard won economic recovery put at risk.

The NHS we have rebuilt in danger.

The education of our children under threat.

But I say again; we will not let them do this to our country.

Because here in Wales the soul of our party is in the soil of these hills and in the toil of generations.

People who cared about each other, who reached out to each other, who in times of trouble sought to lift each other, who in times of prosperity sought to share with each other.

People who not only believed but proved that there is such a thing a society.

People who had coal dust on their faces but never lost their visions of a decent society.

And from these valleys, with your own experience of the inequalities and indignities of 1930s health care – of nurses having to leave the bed of their patients to run charity flag days for vital life-saving hospital equipment – men and women went on to create what people once thought impossible: a National Health Service, the greatest act of compassion our country has seen.

And over six decades what these visionary Welsh men and women achieved was not the sixty years mistake a prominent Tory called the NHS, but sixty year liberation for every single family in this country.

And their journey – through all the successes and the setbacks, in the happiest and in the hardest of days – their journey teaches us, we who have inherited their vision.

Never to give up.

Never to give in.

Always to hold to our ideals.

Always to fight for a future fair for all.

And so I ask you today: will you join me in the fight for fairness?

Let us carry this fight all across Wales and all across the country.

And when people ask if we can win that fight in 2010, I say:

We can. We must. And we will.

Gordon Brown – 2010 Speech on Building Britain’s Digital Future


Below is the text of the speech made by Gordon Brown, the then Prime Minister, on 26th March 2010.

As we emerge from recession, we face fundamental questions about the kind of Britain we want to build for the future; and about who will lead us there.

Choices: about who’s best for jobs? Who’s best for industry? Who’s best for the NHS, schools and public services?

Decisions about the changes we must make this year that will lead us to a better tomorrow.

And we need to ask: who has the plan not just to secure recovery – but to go for growth? The plan that will mean not just jobs for us today – but jobs for our children tomorrow? The plan that will see British business not just succeeding in the global marketplace of this generation – but leading in the global industries of the next?

This week’s budget will set out the next stage of our plan to go for growth.

It is built on two essential pillars.

First, given the fragility of the economy both here and across the world, and the continuing weakness of the global financial system, the essential requirement today is to do everything possible to nurture and secure the recovery and put Britain back on a solid course for strong and balanced growth.

Second, once that recovery is secured – and the private sector is once again strong enough to drive the upturn without exceptional support from the Government – we must carefully but decisively bring public borrowing back down fairly and without damaging front line public services.

Our strategy for growth is not at the expense of the tough deficit reduction plan we have set out; rather it is absolutely central to it. Because it is growth that creates jobs, stimulates demand and brings in revenue.

We know that the strong and balanced growth that we need will not materialise if we simply do nothing, stand back and leave it all to unbridled market dogma. If we have learnt one thing from the global recession of the last two years, it is that unfettered and unregulated markets cannot by themselves be relied upon to deliver a fair future for all of our citizens.

Instead of a gamble on crude laissez faire economic theories we need a new industrial strategy for this country founded on an open partnership of business, people and government – doing all we can to support enterprise as the engine of economic growth and unleashing the entrepreneurial, innovative and dynamic talents we have in Britain.

Encouraging those sectors in which Britain has – or can build – a global advantage; so Britain can truly lead the world.

It means where necessary, investing now to provide the conditions in which private enterprise in these sectors can thrive.

Sectors such as advanced manufacturing, clean energy, high speed rail, pharmaceuticals, science and research; and of course the digital industries – on which I want to focus my remarks this morning.

I want us to consider today the Britain of 2020 – the Britain we can create at the leading edge of these knowledge industries, but also a Britain which leads the world in open, personal, interactive public services and in the new politics.

I want to make a radical set of proposals which include transfers and shifts in existing spending, including being prepared to cancel current projects, and which – together with more detailed plans set out by the Chancellor in the budget on Wednesday – will help us to save billions of pounds a year in public sector costs in the next few years.

I want Britain to be the world leader in the digital economy which will create over a quarter of a million skilled jobs by 2020; the world leader in public service delivery where we can give the greatest possible voice and choice to citizens, parents patients and consumers; and the world leader in the new politics where that voice for feedback and deliberative decisions can transform the way we make local and national policies and decisions.

Underpinning the digital transformation that we are likely to see over the coming decade is the creation of the next generation of the web – what is called the semantic web, or the web of linked data.

This next generation web is a simple concept, but I believe it has the potential to be just as revolutionary – just as disruptive to existing business and organisational models – as the web was itself, moving us from a web of managing documents and files to a web of managing data and information – and thus opening up the possibility of by-passing current digital bottlenecks and getting direct answers to direct requests for data and information.

It will change fundamentally the way we conduct business – with new enterprises by-passing traditional media communications and governmental organisations: new enterprises spun off from the new data, information and knowledge that flows more freely.

And in both the content and delivery of public services the next stage of the web will transform the ability of citizens to tailor the services they need to their requirements, to feedback constantly on their success, to interact with the professionals who deliver them and to put the citizen not the public servant in control.

Today I can announce the first funding for the next stage of this research – £30m to support the creation of a new institute, the institute of web science – based here in Britain and working with government and British business to realise the social and economic benefits of advances in the web.

It will assemble the best of world scientists and researchers and be headed by Sir Tim Berners Lee, the British inventor of the world wide web – and the leading web science expert Professor Nigel Shadbolt.

This will help place the UK at the cutting edge of research on the semantic web and other emerging web and internet technologies, and ensure that government is taking the right funding decisions to position the UK as a world leader. And we will invite universities and private sector web developers and companies to join this collaborative project.

So building on this next generation web and the radical opening up of information and data – and therefore more power in people’s hands – the steps towards achieving this ambition to become the leader in the next stage of the digital revolution are three-fold:

First to digitalise – to make Britain the leading superfast broadband digital power creating 100 per cent access to every home;

Second to personalise – seizing the opportunities for voice and choice in our public services by opening up data and using the power of digital technology to transform the way citizens interact with government;

Third to economise – in the Pre-Budget Report we set out our determination to find £11 billion of savings by driving up operational efficiency, much of it enabled by the increased transparency and reduced costs made available by new technology.

On Wednesday the Chancellor will set out more detailed plans for delivering these savings, totalling, overall, £20 billion.

But over the period ahead I want to go much further in harnessing the power of technology to refashion the structures and workings of government – delivering efficiencies not simply in the back room; but also looking at how the new technologies can open the door to a reinvention of the core policy-making processes and towards a renewal of politics itself.

Let me address each of these stages in more detail.

Britain is uniquely equipped to lead the digital age. We are already an international hub for creativity and commerce. We have the most lucrative e-commerce market in Europe.

And more than a quarter of our jobs – 7 million – are already in information, communications and technology related roles – a higher proportion than in France, Germany or America.

This country has always been at its best when it has led the world in its pursuit of creativity and innovation and in the promotion of fairness and liberty. And in so many ways these issues have come together in the extraordinary development of the world wide web.

It is already creating formidable new businesses and transforming the way existing businesses operate. From online shopping and banking to checking train times or booking flights. From catching up with the news to staying in touch with our family and friends – the web has already profoundly changed the way many of us go about our daily lives.

And it’s not just about convenience – it’s about quality of life too.

The other day I heard how one of Britain’s leading musicians, who spends most of his time abroad, reads his young son a bedtime story from thousands of miles away using Skype. And millions of us can now spend more time with our families because technology allows people to work easily from home.

And although hard to imagine, the revolution we have witnessed so far is only just beginning. The next stage will be radical expansion and enhancement of two-way communication between service providers and homes that new superfast broadband is beginning to make possible.

The Google smart meters programme delivers real time information on home energy use to mobiles and office desktops, helping people to manage energy consumption when they are out – and so save money.

And it could soon be commonplace for children to continue learning together after the school bell has rung by studying in virtual classrooms; and for doctors to hold video consultations from their surgeries with patients at home to diagnose and in some cases even treat them.

The internet revolution is quite literally creating a different world.

But just imagine if you weren’t part of that world.

Imagine if you had never accessed the Internet.

Imagine if you had no access to the best deals on the virtual high street – that can save you on average £560 a year by shopping and paying bills online.

Well that is reality for around one in five adults in the UK. 21% of UK adults have never accessed the internet. That’s over a fifth trapped in a second tier of citizenship, denied what I increasingly think of as a fundamental freedom in the modern world: to be part of the internet and technology revolution.

This is unfair, economically inefficient and wholly unacceptable.

Consider the advent of electricity. How acceptable would it have been to say that only some people should have access to electricity?

Superfast broadband is the electricity of the digital age. And I believe it must be for all – not just for some.

We have already decided to commit public funding to ensure existing broadband reaches nearly every household in Britain by 2012.

Now government must decide what action it will take to bring about universal access to the next generation of superfast broadband, simultaneously ensuring the highest quality content is available online and available to all.

The choice with broadband infrastructure is clear. We can allow unbridled market forces to provide a solution on its own terms and according to its own timetable as others would do.

The result would be superfast broadband coverage determined not even by need or social justice, or by the national interest but by profitability alone. This would open a lasting, pervasive and damaging new digital divide.

It would allow the country to become split between a fast-track and a slow-track to the future, between those fortunate to live in densely-populated areas and those not.

But to concede a willingness to have superfast broadband reserved for some rather than for all also betrays a total failure to grasp the scale of the educational, economic and social opportunities that it brings.

Because the truth is that a government that is prepared to allow a digital divide to grow would be one that creates a deeper and more pernicious divide than simply one of accessing e-mail or online shopping services.

Faster broadband speeds will bring new, cheaper, more personalised and more effective public services to people; it will bring games and entertainment options with new levels of sophistication; it will make accessing goods and services immeasurably easier; it will enrich our democracy by giving people new ways of communicating complaining and challenging vested interests.

In short, the world available to those with superfast broadband will be unimaginably richer than to those without.

So one vision for digital Britain would create two nations: one digitally privileged, one digitally deprived.

And this will mean a massive penalty in economic development to those who are denied access because of a failure of government to rise to the challenge where markets may fail.

The alternative is our vision: ensuring, not simply hoping for, universal coverage.

We say that Britain’s digital future – must be a future for all – not just for some. But if every household is to benefit, then it is fair that every household contributes to meeting this goal.

That is why we have chosen to raise a small levy on each household phone line – 50p per month, about the price of a pint of milk – to help fund a partnership with the private sector for a superfast broadband network right across Britain.

Building a universal fast-speed digital infrastructure is necessary but not sufficient.

High quality content – whether it is news, entertainment, games, networking sites or information services – relies on maintaining the conditions for innovation and competition online.

So in addition to the measures in our digital economy bill, I say clearly today, we will support the independence of Ofcom to ensure creativity, diversity and high standards. And we will retain the BBC licence fee to ensure a strong, independent BBC remains at the forefront of providing world-class quality content across different media.

So we are:

– Investing now in bringing superfast broadband and new technology to all;

– Creating the right environment for innovation and competition in the digital sector; and

– Leading the next generation of the web and internet.

But now we must use this technology to open up data with the aim of providing every citizen in Britain with true ownership and accountability over the services they demand from government.

And in doing so we can put in place the best most personalised but universally accessible digital public services in the world, and harness the power of technology to economise – shaking up Whitehall and making us the most efficient, open and responsive government in the world.

Building on the outstanding work Sir Tim and Nigel Shadbolt who have been leading on ‘making public data public’, I can now announce that we are determined to go further in breaking down the walled garden of government, using technology and information to provide greater transparency on the workings of Whitehall and give everyone more say over the services they receive.

In January we launched, a single, easy-to-use website to access public data. And even in the short space of time since then, the interest this initiative has attracted – globally – has been very striking. The site already has more than three thousand data sets available – and more are being added all the time. And in the past month the Office for National Statistics has opened up access for web developers to over two billion data items right down to local neighbourhood level.

The Department for Transport and the transport industry are today making available the core reference datasets that contain the precise names and co-ordinates of all 350 thousand bus stops, railway stations and airports in Britain.

Public transport timetables and real-time running information is currently owned by the operating companies. But we will work to free it up – and from today we will make it a condition of future franchises that this data will be made freely available.

And following the strong support in our recent consultation, I can confirm that from 1st April, we will be making a substantial package of information held by ordnance survey freely available to the public, without restrictions on re-use. Further details on the package and government’s response to the consultation will be published by the end of March.

And I can also tell you today that in the autumn the Government will publish online an inventory of all non-personal datasets held by departments and arms-length bodies – a “domesday book” for the 21st century.

The programme will be managed by the National Archives and it will be overseen by a new open data board which will report on the first edition of the new domesday book by April next year. The Government will then produce its detailed proposals including how this work can be extended to the wider public sector.

To inform the continuing development of making public data public, the National Archives will produce a consultation paper on a definition of the “public task” for public data, to be published later this year.

The new domesday book will for the first time allow the public to access in one place information on each set of data including its size, source, format, content, timeliness, cost and quality. And there will be an expectation that departments will release each of these datasets, or account publicly for why they are not doing so.

Any business or individual will be free to embed this public data in their own websites, and to use it in creative ways within their own applications.

For example, Jobcentre Plus now offers a job search widget which can be put on any other website and a similar application for mobile phones.

And independent developers are using the information we’ve published for innovative new websites and mobile phone applications such as ‘asborometer’ – built by one person in just five days. It finds your position using GPS and tells you how many people have been served with an asbo in that area. When it launched last month it was the number one free application in the iTunes store after a reported 80,000 downloads in two days.

We’re determined that government websites should be efficient and meet people’s needs – easy to find, easy to use, and fully accessible. And in our relentless drive to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the way we use websites to meet this goal, we have already closed 900 now unnecessary government websites, with plans to close nearly 500 more. And we will set new challenging standards of quality and accountability for government websites – including a requirement that each one allows feedback and engagement with citizens themselves.  From today no new website will be allowed unless it fully meets these requirements.

Six years ago we launched Directgov, as the first version of a joined-up view of government on the web.

It now has 25 million visits a month, offering in one place a single portal of information for all citizens on all our public services. And by the end of May, developers will be able to use content from the Directgov website – for example, to translate it into another language, to rearrange it so that it is more relevant for a specific local community, to alert people when it changes, or to let people create their own personal tailored view of Directgov.

But we need to go much further.

So our goal is to replace this first generation of e-government with a much more interactive second generation form of digital engagement which we are calling Mygov.

Companies that use technology to interact with their users are positioning themselves for the future, and government must do likewise.  Mygov marks the end of the one-size-fits-all, man-from-the-ministry-knows-best approach to public services.

Mygov will constitute a radical new model for how public services will be delivered and for how citizens engage with government – making interaction with government as easy as internet banking or online shopping. This open, personalised platform will allow us to deliver universal services that are also tailored to the needs of each individual; to move from top-down, monolithic websites broadcasting public service information in the hope that the people who need help will find it – to government on demand.

And rather than civil servants being the sole authors and editors, we will unleash data and content to the community to turn into applications that meet genuine needs. This does not require large-scale government IT Infrastructure; the ‘open source’ technology that will make it happen is freely available. All that is required is the will and willingness of the centre to give up control.

This bold new approach will transform the way services are delivered but, more importantly, it will be the vehicle through which citizens will come to control the services that are so important to their lives and communities. With Mygov, citizens will be in control – choosing the content relevant to them and determining their level of engagement. And their feedback will in turn help us to improve services.

With the rapid development of technology consumers today expect so much more – but when it comes to government they don’t always seem to get it. With Mygov they will.

Today you can book and pay for a holiday online in minutes. Why can’t you do that for a blue badge for a disabled person? With Mygov you will.

You can deal with your bank when and where you want, at any time that suits you. Why can’t you do that with your Jobcentre? With Mygov you will.

These days websites tell you what other services or products might interest you. Why don’t government websites do that? With Mygov they will.

And recognising the frustrations of having to prove ID in different ways to access different services, we have launched the access to public services initiative to provide a shared service across government, allowing users of government services to identify themselves simply and definitively, and to access those services online.

Online, Mygov will give people a simple “dashboard” to manage their pensions, tax credits or child benefits; pay their council tax; fix their doctors or hospital appointment and control their own treatment; apply for the schools of their choice and communicate with their children’s teachers; or get a new passport or driving licence – all available when and where they need it.

And it’s not just about gains for citizens either. Businesses can benefit too. By the end of the year, all public service contracts over 20 thousand pounds will be available on a single, free, easy-to-use online portal, and the data will be available free of charge for others to re-use.

To help us realise this vision I am delighted that Martha Lane Fox has agreed to broaden her current role to become the UK’s digital champion and help us establish in the cabinet office – at the heart of government – a new digital public services unit.

The unit will be charged with ensuring that departments achieve rapid progress on transferring and transforming services to online channels.

It will ensure those services are designed around the needs of those who use them most.

And it will put the 4 million people who are among the heaviest users of government services – but who have never used the internet – at the heart of our strategy rather than letting them literally slip through the digital net.

Increasingly the digital net will be the social safety net – the only way to extend access to new, higher quality and more efficient digital services, to all of our citizens.

Pricewaterhousecoopers has estimated that the Government can save £900 million a year just by bringing those who don’t have access to the internet online so that they can carry out transactions with public services more quickly and efficiently.

We know that for every transaction with a public service that is done online rather than over the telephone we can save around £3.30 in administration and staffing costs.  And using the internet rather than filling in paper forms or writing letters can typically save £12 each time.

But the total savings would be far bigger if all public services could be accessed online.

So I want the new unit to act as a dynamic force for change within government helping to quickly drive significant cost savings with radically increased digital public service delivery.

But this drive to economise must go further than the delivery of public services – for the coming second digital revolution also offers the opportunity to radically refashion government and Whitehall departments.

A restructuring that means we become the most efficient, open and responsive government in the world. A reform that should allow us to make major savings on running costs – while providing better services to the citizen.

Traditionally Whitehall departments have in varying proportions comprised three main elements. First, policy teams including people who oversee or regulate front-line delivery agencies. Second, a set of public-facing, often transactional services. And third, a series of back office functions essentially supporting the other two.

The power of the new digital technology now gives us the chance to transform this model: to make Whitehall and the wider public sector more efficient and more effective.

Every industry has felt the force of the internet’s ability to empower consumers and increase transparency. Now is our opportunity to be one of the world’s leading governments addressing these challenges – to oversee an enormous shift from what many have in the past seen  as  a  too  paternalistic, closed Whitehall to an open, interactive responsive enabler  where citizens personalise shape and ultimately control their services.

I have already set out how I believe Mygov can transform the nature and cost of the Government’s public facing services.  But the same is potentially true of the other two core civil service functions.

Take the back office. The Government is committed to achieving £4bn of savings from back office functions by 2012-13. To drive this ambitious programme forward, we intend to establish a number of business service companies that will handle the routine back office functions of Whitehall departments.

The prototype for this new approach already exists – the shared services centre in the department for work and pensions, which already supports 140,000 staff in three departments and plans to take on four more in the next year. DWP also has plans to establish its shared services as a trading fund within the next twelve months, and will explore in parallel the scope for bringing further commercial expertise into its work.

Our aim and intention is that these public business service companies will use modern digital platforms wherever possible, and aim to be leaders in green technology and working practices. And as they demonstrate progress there is no reason why these companies should not in time draw in private capital, giving rise to the possibility of substantial capital receipts.

I believe that a similar approach can also be used to drive down the Government’s property costs. Significant efficiency improvements have been made over recent years and overall costs are now £740 million a year lower in real terms than in 2003.

But operating costs can still be reduced further. We have committed to save £5 billion per year in running costs and dispose of £20 billion surplus property over the next decade.  To achieve this we will look to create a number of specialist government held property vehicles run on commercial lines.

But the impact of technology on central government should not be confined to the back office and transactional services. We have within our grasp the opportunity to harness new technology to deliver a major step forward in giving the public a greater influence over the Whitehall policy making process.

Revitalising our politics, our governance and our democracy means going beyond simply increased openness about previously secret information – it requires the policy-making monopoly of ministers and the civil service to be challenged – where practicable – through a step change in the opportunities for people to engage with and interact with government in its policy proposals.

And it also means a less centralised approach to government. The Chancellor will publish on Wednesday Ian Smith’s report on how to secure a further substantial transfer of civil servants out of London and the South East to other parts of the country. I intend to build on this in the next parliament with a further strengthening of the role of regional ministers and a streamlining and amalgamation of central government functions at the regional level.

At the same time I want to look again at whether we need so many independent Whitehall departments in the age of digital government. Most policy and delivery issues cut across the departmental boundaries – and it is not clear – despite much  innovation and experimentation with cross cutting units projects and public service agreements – how the traditional silo-based Whitehall approach can best be overcome.

I have said there will be at least a 20 per cent cut in the senior civil service paybill and the Chancellor will provide more details of this in the Budget. And as we make these radical changes we can also reduce the number of Whitehall departments.

But as well as rethinking how the different parts of the Government machine can be streamlined and decentralised we must urgently explore too how all practical means for giving the public far greater influence over the Whitehall and Westminster policy-making processes.

The web and the internet offers us a chance to reinvent “deliberative democracy” for the modern age.

Digital government will help open the door to new ways of enabling people to influence and even decide public policy. And it will give them better and more comprehensive access to the information they need to make informed choices.

Ultimately this can provide the basis for them to participate in deliberative processes to formulate policy – setting off a historic shift in the way public policy is made.

This includes opening more policy development to wider scrutiny, for example through the use of e-petitions and deliberative events.

Since it was established at the end of 2006, the number 10 e-petitions service has received more than 70 thousand petitions. There have been more than 12 million signatures placed and the Government has replied with more than 8 million e-mail responses.

Each week I record a podcast and use twitter most days. carries out daily conversations with more than 1.7 million followers. There have been almost 2 million views of our images on flickr and 4.3 million views of our films and videos on YouTube.

But we can do much more. Today, we are launching a brand new Number 10 iPhone application that will bring news, video and audio from the downing street website to potentially millions of users completely free of charge.

So what I am talking about is in essence a new partnership to govern – an invitation for people to directly share in the task of government that is there to serve them.

And I am today tasking every department to identify the far wider scope for deliberative engagements with the public, specifiying the outcome expected from such engagement.

The digital revolution is creating a different world. And I know that we in Britain have the spirit and the talent to take the lead in that new world.

The question is whether we are bold enough to make the necessary decisions today to build Britain’s digital future.

My message is clear.

We have the courage to invest in that future and secure the growth and jobs it offers not just today but for generations to come.

We have the determination to harness the new digital technology to shake up Whitehall and drive a radical reshaping of government – focused on giving people a greater say over the policies that affect their lives and the services on which they depend.

And above all – we have the resolve to make sure that the immense opportunities that Britain’s digital future offers us are available to all – not just to some.