Patrick McLoughlin – 2015 Speech on the Midlands

Patrick McLoughlin
Patrick McLoughlin

Below is the text of the speech made by Patrick McLoughlin, the Secretary of State for Transport, at Derbyshire County Cricket Club on 27 November 2015.

Introduction

Thank you.

It’s good to be back with you at this ground.

This visit has become an annual highlight for me.

It’s the third year in a row I’ve addressed the forum.

A run like that is rare for a Transport Secretary.

Before my appointment in 2012, there had been 7 Transport Secretaries in 7 years.

When you are in charge of long-term infrastructure projects, change like that doesn’t always help.

Rail, in particular, needs the perspective that comes with experience.

So I am delighted to be back.

Yet there has been one change since I was last here.

And that’s to the forum itself.

No longer the Derby and Derbyshire Rail Forum.

But now the East Midlands Rail Forum.

To me, that’s a statement of intent.

Since the forum was established in 1993 it has grown in numbers, stature and influence.

Now it’s the largest cluster of rail firms in the world

And the new name reflects the forum’s ambition as it increasingly represents firms across our whole region.

Growth in the East Midlands

In June, the Chancellor visited the premises of a member of this forum.

Garrandale – a great rail engineering firm.

In his speech then, he said that five years ago our country was on the brink.

We were borrowing £1 in every £4 that we spent.

Midlands businesses were going under at a rate of over a hundred every day.

And nearly half a million people in the Midlands were looking for work.

If we were to save our economy, we had to act.

And so we took some tough decisions.

We cut spending.

Cut corporation tax.

And cut red tape.

Five years on, our economy is growing strongly again, nationally and locally.

The East Midlands is now home to 20,000 more businesses than in 2010.

There are more people in work here than at any time since 1992.

And on Wednesday the Chancellor reported that the Midlands is creating jobs at a rate three times faster than London and the south east.

So our region is making great progress.

Rail investment

And one of the things giving this region its edge is its great concentration of rail expertise.

Rail supply firms in this region are benefiting as we put more money into our rail sector than at any time since the Victorian era.

Since the forum was established in 1993, passenger numbers have more than doubled.

Rail freight is up 75%.

The government is investing more than £38 billion in the rail network.

And following Wednesday’s spending review transport capital spending in this Parliament will increase by 50% to a total of £61 billion; the biggest increase in a generation.

That’s a great settlement for transport.

And it’s a great opportunity for the rail supply chain.

Hendy report

But after so many years in which rail was underfunded, investment on this scale was never going to be easy.

In June, I announced that Network Rail’s performance on the electrification of the TransPennine and Midland Main Lines had not been good enough.

I asked Sir Peter Hendy to review Network Rail’s programme of works.

And alongside the spending review, Sir Peter set out his plans to put its programme back on track.

I can say today that I have accepted Sir Peter’s plan.

It reaffirms our commitment to our railways.

And shows how we will achieve our aim of transforming rail journeys for passengers.

So we are pressing ahead with Crossrail.

HS2.

Thameslink.

New InterCity Express trains on the East Coast and Great Western mainlines.

North West and Yorkshire train lengthening.

East-West Rail.

Cornwall re-signalling.

Wessex and Waterloo capacity enhancements.

West Anglia main line capacity improvements.

And the electrification and enhancement of the Great Western, Northern Hub, TransPennine, and Midland main lines.

No infrastructure projects have been cancelled.

But the report shows that the need for tough decisions is not yet over.

Some projects will take longer and cost more than originally planned.

As we put Network Rail’s focus firmly on its core task of delivery, some of that extra cost will be covered by Network Rail asset sales and new efficiencies.

Skills

But innovation and efficiency isn’t the only challenge for the rail supply chain.

We are also facing a shortage of skills.

Our country needs more rail workers of all kinds.

More civil engineers.

Mechanical engineers.

Construction workers.

Surveyors.

Signallers.

And even drivers.

In all, we need 10,000 new engineers to improve the existing network, while HS2 alone will create 25,000 jobs during construction and 3000 jobs in operation.

Yet as things stand today, parts of the industry will lose half their staff to retirement within 15 years.

With our plans for investment, that’s unsustainable.

So the government is addressing this skills challenge through new training institutions, such as the flagship National Training Academy for Rail in Northampton.

Through creating 3 million new apprentices in this Parliament.

And through the appointment of Terry Morgan, the Chairman of Crossrail, to develop a transport skills strategy.

But, ultimately, we need the rail industry to invest in skills in new staff and new training.

Because although government can make plans and provide some of the funding, it will be the rail industry who will deliver for the country.

Midlands Engine for Growth

But while we are working to secure our economy and to transform our transport we have a clear principle.

Wherever possible, decisions about planning, spending and services should be taken by the people who will be most affected by those decisions.

For that, we need to devolve power from London and out to the regions.

So last month I was pleased by the launch of the newly-strengthened Midlands Connect Partnership

Midlands Connect is a collaboration between the Midlands’ Local Enterprise Partnerships and local authorities.

Over the months ahead Midlands Connect will work with HS2 Ltd, with Network Rail, and with Highways England to develop investment plans for the Midlands.

They will look at maximising the economic growth from HS2, reducing journey times between our towns and cities, and making better connections to international gateways.

There’s no better way to make the case for investment than for it to be informed by local people.

Local businesses.

Local representatives.

And that is how we will make the Midlands an engine for growth.

Conclusion

So in conclusion, it’s great to be back.

As Transport Secretary.

At this event.

And on home turf.

For our nation’s railways, these are rare days.

Customer numbers have never been higher.

Investment has never been higher.

Expectations have never been higher.

And so it’s an opportunity.

But also a challenge.

I said at the beginning that rail needs the perspective that comes with experience.

Looking around this room I can see 176 years of rail experience and the expertise to match.

So I’m confident that we will succeed as we build the rail network our country deserves.

Thank you.

Nicky Morgan – 2015 Speech on London Schools

nickymorgan

Below is the text of a speech made by Nicky Morgan, the Secretary of State for Education, made at City Hall in London on 27 November 2015.

Thank you, Munira [Mirza, Deputy Mayor of London] for that introduction. And thank you, Boris [Johnson, Mayor of London], for organising and hosting this fantastic conference.

It really is a pleasure to be here at a conference with such a sense of energy and purpose – and such a sense of pride in the work you do and the difference you make.

I want to talk about educational excellence. About how London schools are already giving thousands of children an excellent education.

About what we need to do if we’re serious about excellence everywhere. And I want to speak directly to you – the current and future leaders of education in London and beyond – about the opportunity for, and the importance of, leadership.

I want to make a reality of educational excellence everywhere. This is more than an easy phrase. We spent a lot of the last 5 years talking about what we mean by and how we realise educational excellence. For the next 5 years, my focus is on what it takes to make this happen everywhere, across the country from Barking to Blackburn, and from Westminster to Wiltshire.

The reforms of the last Parliament re-introduced rigour to our education system and placed high expectations back at the heart of our all schools.

We removed qualifications from the performance tables that weren’t respected by employers and universities and instead began the process of introducing gold-standard qualifications that would equip young people to succeed in the modern world, and on the world stage.

We introduced the EBacc to encourage more schools to offer pupils a rigorous academic core – and I’m struck and impressed that London secondary schools are leading the way.

Because as your pupils grow up, they will need to stand their own with their peers from Shenzen and Chennai. And from Kraków, and from Frankfurt. And more.

For some people, this is a scary prospect – but it’s also an exciting one, and I have confidence and pride in the talent and potential of our young people.

And education is just as much about instilling those virtues and values, and allowing young people to develop their own unique talents, as it is about the grades they receive at the end of school.

A well-educated child or young person should be well rounded, with a range of interests, a real sense of character and grit, equipped for adult life.

Since I took up this role, I’ve visited almost 80 schools and met over 1,000 teachers – and I know that this is something we all agree on.

Sally [Coates] dedicates a whole chapter of her book [‘Headstrong: 11 lessons of school leadership’ (2015)] to the importance of developing the whole child. She describes how “our pursuit of academic excellence can never be extricated from the challenge of developing responsible, mature, compassionate citizens who are able to channel their talents towards healthy, productive ends”. I entirely agree with her.

So I’ve taken every opportunity to champion this broader education, through awards and grants for schools and projects that help to develop character; by promoting cadets in schools and the National Citizen Service.

And I’m pleased and proud to make a point of celebrating and backing the work that schools do – such as at Goldbeaters Primary School, School 21 or Mulberry School for Girls and many other schools I’ve visited. These schools debunk completely the notion that there is somehow any tension between academic success and character education – in fact they demonstrate that the 2 are mutually dependent and inextricably intertwined.

So, after 5 years of reform and challenge, we know what educational excellence looks like and how it can be unlocked. Our challenge is to make a reality of excellent education everywhere. And London schools show what can be done – including in some of the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods and communities in the country.

Schools across London prove that there is no place for the old excuses about ‘kids like these’. And you make that point more powerfully than any politician could. We all know about schools like King Solomon Academy and Mossbourne – they’re famous nationally for the quality of the education they offer.

But I’m sure that each of you will know other schools that achieve just as much. You show working hard not only gives children from every background the best possible start in life, but also power to transform whole communities, leading the way in instilling a culture of aspiration, ambition and refusing to settle for second best.

London’s academies and chains of schools demonstrate this transformative power of this approach in everything they do.

Groups of schools like the Ark and Harris academies are spreading excellence, and at the same time providing the structures so that teachers and heads can focus on the core of their jobs, allowing us to open new career paths and opportunities for great teachers, and for great school leaders.

Just as there isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ school, so there shouldn’t be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ career path for teachers. And, again, Sally – your career is a great example of some of the opportunities that being a teacher opens.

And, of course, the London Challenge model and legacy lives on. Education in London has been transformed over the last 15 to 20 years. Important networks and ideas are now owned by schools yourselves, like the Challenge Partners.

And the core elements are now the basis for the self-improving school-led system we want to spread across the rest of the country – with the expansion of Teach First, and the networks of teaching schools and of national and local leaders of education.

But a strong school system requires sound funding. We know that there can be no better investment in the future of our country than a good education.

That’s why, thanks to the difficult decisions we’ve taken elsewhere, the Chancellor was able to confirm in the Spending Review that we would meet our manifesto commitments to protect core spending per pupil and to maintain the pupil premium at current rates – and that the core school budget will be protected in real terms to 2019-2020.

We have been able to go beyond that, and similarly protect the base-rate funding received for every 16-to-19 student, at its current level, to the end of this Parliament.

None of this is to say that schools will not have to find efficiencies. Despite being more generously protected than most of the public sector, you as school leaders will be challenged to make your budgets go further. We will help you to do that – supporting smarter procurement and better sharing of best practice.

The introduction of a national funding formula will also mean change. It is clearly unfair that a school in one part of the country can attract over 50% more funding than an identical school, with pupils who have identical characteristics but in another part of the country. We need to rectify that.

This is about transparency, and about fairness – and so schools in London which have very high levels of deprivation or other additional needs will be funded to meet those needs.

Let me be clear, that while we will consult on the exact formula, we will keep a very close watch to make sure that we are earmarking the right level of funding for deprivation, to ensure that those needs can continue to be met. And, of course, there will also be a geographical element to the formula that will recognise the higher wage costs that London faces.

Before I finish, I want to say a few words to you as school leaders.

You do a phenomenal job. Your work is important and inspiring. Although I’m sure there are days – and weeks – when everything feels like a grind, you lead schools that transform lives. In your schools, children grow up. You are their teachers and their role models, and you guide and support them through towards adulthood. You have a lot to be proud about.

I am delighted that this month’s data shows teacher recruitment starting to rise with over 1,000 more post-graduates starting training this year, compared to last.

There’s a lot more to do to make sure we’re recruiting, training and retaining the teachers that we need, especially in key subjects and in some areas of the country. But I take these figures as a good sign, and I hope that they reflect a greater recognition that teaching is a fantastic profession and an exciting career to join.

You will know that I recently announced the National Teaching Service – it’s a new programme to recruit and deploy our best teachers and middle leaders into underperforming schools in areas where they are needed most.

The programme will launch next September, with a pilot of 100 teachers and middle leaders in the North West of England. By 2020 it will have deployed 1,500 outstanding teachers and middle leaders to underperforming schools in areas of the country that struggle to attract, recruit and retain high quality teachers.

And I want to encourage each of you to think about the leadership role that you play with pride and with ambition. I know you want the best for your own school and pupils, and that you work hard to make a reality of your goals.

If you haven’t already done so, I’d encourage each of you to think about the opportunities to share more widely and take a lead in the school-led system. You could form a partnership with one or more other schools. You might take a leading role within your existing chain. Or you might think about how you could share what works here with schools and emerging chains beyond London.

Deputy heads – your heads won’t thank me for this – but you too should be thinking about when and how you want to take the next step.

In addition to those of you here at this fantastic conference, I also want us all to do more to nurture and develop the leaders of the future. I want to encourage talented teachers – and especially those from under-represented groups – to take this step, and to tackle the real or perceived barriers that hold them back.

This is the right thing to do for individuals, and for the profession as a whole. And, more importantly, it’s essential if we want to make a reality of educational excellence everywhere.

I know that these aren’t easy jobs. I see and hear the challenges you face when I visit schools, talk to school leaders, and when I respond to emails and letters from teachers and heads. We shouldn’t pretend that leadership like yours is easy, because it isn’t. But it is important, valuable and rewarding.

I will continue to challenge schools to do better. It’s what parents rightly expect of me. I will challenge you to give more pupils an excellent start – and especially to do so for those pupils who we currently fail. I simply wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t.

But I can promise you that I will do it with respect, and with a recognition that it isn’t an easy thing to ask. And I’ll do it because we all share a fundamental belief that every child deserves an excellent education.

As London schools show – great teachers, great heads and great groups of schools can achieve phenomenal things. Thank you, for all that you do.

Ed Vaizey – 2013 Speech to the Local Government Association Conference

edvaizey

Below is the text of a speech made by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Ed Vaizey, to the Local Government Association Conference on 7th March 2013.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I’d like to thank Flick Rea for her kind introduction and for inviting me to speak at your annual conference, bringing together so many of you who work so hard to promote British culture, heritage, tourism and sport.

These are not easy times to be in Government, at either national or local level. Faced with a crippling budget deficit, we are faced with difficult choices, some of which are painful to make. But we have to cut our cloth.

But unique challenges also bring unique opportunities. While we must all learn how to do more with less, it offers us the chance to think differently about how we go about delivering. Yesterday’s model may not necessarily be the right template for tomorrow.

That said, our creative and cultural sector is in rude health. The success of last year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Cultural Olympiad demonstrated to the world the richness of what it is to be British in the 21st Century, with all its quirks and eccentricity.

That’s why our creative and cultural sector is such a vital element in delivering economic growth, by encouraging economic investment through tourism and business. We have seen this at the Sage and Baltic in Gateshead, the Turner Contemporary in Margate and the Liverpool City of Culture. These are perfect examples of local regeneration being driven by culture.

So in tough economic times, the Government is committed to safeguarding and nurturing our investment in culture, heritage and sport.

In order to do this, we restored the share of arts and heritage funding from the National Lottery from 16% to 20% each. This increased chunk, combined with growing Lottery sales, means Arts Council England is now projected to receive £262 million in 2015, that’s over £100 million more than it received prior to May 2010.

The Heritage Lottery Fund too, is now projected to receive £379 million in 2015, £160 million more than prior to 2010.

And Sport England’s projected income will be £235 million compared with £134m prior to 2010.

This all means that almost £3 billion will go to the arts over the lifetime of this Parliament, a billion in Lottery funding combined with almost two billion in direct Government funding.

But state support is only one side of the coin, so to speak. Arts, culture and heritage cannot exist in isolation at a time of unprecedented economic challenges. As I said a moment ago, we must seize this opportunity to take a fresh look at how we deliver.

That’s why the Government is supporting the sector to develop a stronger emphasis on philanthropy, including the £100m Catalyst Fund with Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

We’ve also introduced a reduced rate of inheritance tax from 40% to 36% for those estates where 10% or more is left to charity, to encourage legacy giving to cultural organisations. This was also the focus of one of three reports published by the Government at the end of 2012, alongside proposals to boost fundraising capacity outside of London, and exploring the scope for harnessing digital technology.

The pursuit of philanthropy is not a sticking plaster solution. It is about the pursuit of a long-term strategy to strengthen the financial resilience of the cultural sector.

In the case of endowments, this might take a century to bear full fruit, and it is for that very reason we must get cracking, to promote a broader culture of giving.

It is our ambition that that the four strands; philanthropy, earned income, commercial revenues, and state funding; brought together, will in turn attract other sources of investment.

I see so many excellent examples of how this partnership approach, combined with fresh thinking, is delivering results.

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Matilda is a perfect example of how edgy, innovative and publicly-supported art can flourish into a critical and commercial hit.

It took seven years of development by the RSC to create Matilda. Public subsidy enabled the company to take the risk on two brilliant writers, new to musicals. Today, total sales now exceed £24 million, with the advance standing at £4.5 million. It is the latest in a long line of valuable cultural exports that emerged as a result of public investment.

That’s why I can assure you that culture and the arts are important to the Government. It seems ridiculous that I would have to state such a self-evident truth. I believe it is regrettable to observe some of the scaremongering, suggesting our arts and cultural sector is somehow “at risk.”

So where does all this rubbish suggesting: “The Arts are in Crisis,” come from? Let’s look at the facts:

This year’s Arts Development UK survey, looking at local authority arts spending, found that the average local authority budget for the arts is a fraction under £385,000 – an increase in cash terms on last year’s levels.

Every £1 spent by local authorities on the arts brings in an extra £3.83 of additional funding. That suggests leverage funding of almost £1.5 million per local authority.

Local authorities remain one of the major funders of arts in England and Wales, with an estimated spend of £134 million on direct arts services.

During the five years of this parliament, Arts Council of England will put more than £90 million into the 28 English regional producing theatres.

And in 2011 a £45 million Strategic Touring Programme was launched, to bring arts to people all around the country not just those in main centres.

Plus the £37 million Creative People and Places fund will focus investment in parts of the country where involvement in the arts is below average.

And just yesterday I announced that 11 areas of the UK are bidding to become this country’s City of Culture in 2017.

British culture in crisis? I don’t think so.

In this context I welcome the LGA’s publication on the relationship between arts and growth. It demonstrates that where local authorities recognise this relationship, investment at a local level has been maintained. Arts and heritage and its links with tourism are fundamental to supporting growth.

To give you an example of this: Milton Keynes Council invested £197,000 in the 2012 Summer of Culture and International Festival, which in turn levered an additional £1 million from participating organisations. The total economic impact is estimated to be £6.4 million.

Another is the 2010 economic impact study of the Anvil Arts Trust in Basingstoke, which runs The Anvil, The Haymarket and The Forge. I highlight this one not simply because it is in the Secretary of State’s constituency, but rather because it gets most of its funding from the local council, which found that the Trust generates a gross economic impact of £6.2 million. The study went some way to help councillors understand the importance of Anvil Arts as a sizeable economic entity, generating income and jobs.

And in their year as European City of Culture, Liverpool received 9.7 million additional visitors to the city which in turn resulted in over £735 million in additional visitor spend. Derry-Londonderry hope to have 2800 tourism jobs by 2020 as a legacy from their year as the first UK City of Culture.

Yesterday I announced the 11 cities and places which have put themselves forward to be the UK’s City of Culture in 2017. They are the ones that “Get It”. It’s only a shame that more don’t.

The recently signed partnership between VisitEngland and Arts Council England will result in both organisations jointly championing England’s cultural offer, enabling us to better co-ordinate activity, and supporting destinations with the potential to grow their economies by nurturing local culture.

Last November I met the Local Authority Heritage Champions at Painters Hall, and was particularly impressed at the work they do to ensure that heritage is underpinning their local authorities’ plans.

They are yet more examples of innovative thinking and working in partnership, to deliver real economic benefit.

Our rich heritage is rightly a source of great national pride. Our heritage is our hallmark and makes the UK distinctive in a globalised world. It is a tremendous draw for visitors too: 40% of leisure visitors to the UK cite our heritage as the major drawcard, a sign of our heritage delivering very real economic benefits. The heritage tourism sector is worth £12.4 billion a year to the UK, not only in entrance fees, but in pounds spent in shops, hotels and restaurants. That means jobs.

A fine example is Wakefield which has become a major visitor destination for Yorkshire. The area offers excellent attractions including the Hepworth Wakefield, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the Theatre Royal, the National Coal Mining Museum for England and the National Trust’s Nostell Priory. These attractions combined received over a million visits in 2011/12, delivering £323m to the local economy, and creating 9,000 jobs.

So in growing our economy, our heritage and history give us an edge. And having an edge can sometimes make the difference between winning and losing.

But innovation and fresh thinking is delivering results in other parts of the cultural sector also: our libraries, where digital technology is being exploited to support economic growth and development.

Now, libraries; or the public library service to be precise, are another area which are occasionally deemed to be “In Crisis.”

So let’s look at some examples. Libraries in Northamptonshire are hosting Enterprise Hubs offering business start-up advice, job clubs and training workshops which are supporting the economic growth and development of the county.

In fact the concept has been so successful, the council is planning to extend the concept by setting up a ‘hatchery’ space in their libraries, providing business incubation for up to one year.

To help encourage young entrepreneurs they are allocating one of the Library business spaces to under 25s.

I’m delighted our library service continues to thrive and modernise. Local Authorities invested £820 million in libraries last year. Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester are all making major investments in their central libraries, and Birmingham’s will soon be the largest library in Europe when it opens this year.

In the spirit of fresh thinking, the Public Service Mutual model is offering another way to maintain the delivery of library, and other services. In York, work is underway developing the first staff-led, public service mutual in library and archive services, with help from the £10 million Mutuals Support Programme.

It’s an impressive undertaking: York’s libraries and archive service has around 120 staff and a budget of £2.4 million a year, providing 17 libraries, as well as archive and local history services. The project is developing a final business plan and aims to get council approval to spin out in June, and we will be sharing what can be learned from the project with other providers.

To support this growth, the Government has appointed a specialist adviser on libraries to work with local authorities and Arts Council England. I encourage you to engage with Yinnon Ezra over the coming months to consider different approaches to library service provision, and new ways of thinking about sustainability.

The Arts Council has established a £6 million fund to support culture in libraries. We have published the CIPFA comparative profile reports for the first time. We are piloting automatic membership for school children and young people.

And we are supporting a pilot £1.2 million project to turn six libraries into ‘incubators of innovation’ – to see them roll-out business support to towns and villages.

Libraries “In Crisis”? Again, I don’t think so.

But there can be no finer place to discuss arts and heritage than here in Chester with its rich cultural history.

Since becoming a new authority in 2009 Cheshire West and Chester has developed a clear plan to make the area economically and culturally richer by using culture as a catalyst to drive economic, social and community regeneration.

They will utilise the cultural offer to enhance the attractiveness and distinctive nature of market towns and rural area within the Borough, with a vision to deliver a new theatre and library complex, a Roman museum, and improvements to the visual arts infrastructure.

It’s yet another example of ambition and innovation delivering both cultural benefits and economic growth. And yet another example of the arts in the UK waving, not drowning.

Thank you.

Ed Vaizey – 2013 Speech to the Cable Congress

edvaizey

The below speech was made by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Ed Vaizey, at the Cable Congress held in London on 5th March 2013.

Good morning everyone.

I would like to thank the organisers of the 2013 Cable Congress, and in particular the UK’s very own Virgin Media, for inviting me to speak today.

Before I begin, I must also say how pleased we all are that the 2013 Cable Congress is taking place here in London. We pride ourselves on the strength of the UK’s online economy, and it is, I think, appropriate that the Congress is taking place in one of the world’s most connected cities.

You will, I’m sure, be hearing at length about investments and new technologies from experts in the field. I would like to say a few words about this Government’s priorities in the online and telecommunications fields, what we are doing to support the tremendous investment in broadband, and where we go from here.

If I were to summarise the priorities, I would need only one word: Growth. Our number one aim is to get the British economy moving again and support the businesses, both large and small, that will drive this. And I believe that the digital, creative and communications industries have a key role in this.

We want to see continued investment in Britain’s online industries, but we also need to ensure that the whole British economy enjoys the digital services and connectivity it needs to innovate and expand into new markets. A truly connected Britain that is open for global business the cornerstone of our ambitions for growth.

The UK is already a world leader in the online economy, with the internet contributing over 8% of GDP. Our flagship businesses are tapping into global markets, and our consumers enjoy excellent choice and services when choosing their broadband and phones.

However, the pace of technological change is such that we cannot afford to stand still. We are doing well, but I want us to do even better.

Continued private investment is key to achieving this, and nowhere more so than the field of superfast broadband. If we are to build a world class connected Britain, investment in our broadband infrastructure must keep up with both technological innovations and the ever increasing requirements of business, and consumers.

While we are on the subject of investment, I should mention the planned takeover, subject to shareholder agreement, of Virgin Media by Liberty Global. First, I am of course delighted that this will bring a new major company headquarters to the UK. Second, I welcome the prospects this will bring to continue investment in Virgin Media’s cable network here in the UK. As I said earlier, this investment is what keeps the UK’s online economy moving forward. This represents a great opportunity for the broadband market in the UK and, in particular, the rest of Europe. This can only be good for creating a world-class connected Britain.

Firms like Virgin Media and BT lead the way when it comes to investing in our broadband infrastructure, and I must applaud the work they are doing and the capital they have committed. Virgin Media’s investment in doubling customers’ speeds is future proofing the network and opening up new opportunities for our online companies, and is only one part of its multi-billion pound programme.

BT is rolling out its optical fibre network deeper into the local market than ever before, and has developed new products like its fibre on demand packages. The UK market also supports many smaller firms, often investing significantly to deliver ultrafast services to local communities. The pace of change is impressive – BT is making fibre available to 100,000 new homes and businesses per week, and combined with Virgin’s upgrade figures, take-up of superfast services in the last quarter alone was well over 650,000.

In mobile broadband, we are seeing vital investment by mobile operators, first by EE with their launch of 4G last year and now by other operators in readiness for their nationwide rollout of 4G services later this year. It is this commercial investment that has driven innovation and growth within the sector, and we as Government are doing everything we can to support this work.

Our aim is to remove the barriers preventing investment and innovation, and demonstrate that Britain is one of the best places in the world to do business online. So we will remove barriers and red tape. We cannot allow rollout to be delayed by planning refusals, or confusion when carrying out street works, or by long running legal issues over access to private land.

Our goal is to provide certainty, to ensure the money invested in rollout is used to take superfast broadband further and not wasted on delays and disputes. It is important that the regulatory framework governing the telecoms sector is fit for purpose and competitive. While this of course sits with Ofcom, we are committed to ensuring the market fosters competition, supports multiple, innovative providers, and results in greater consumer choice.

We have also taken significant steps to support mobile broadband. The successful 4G spectrum auction, whose winners were announced two weeks ago, is a vital part of this. We directed Ofcom to proceed with the auction, and brokered agreement with the mobile operators to allow this not only to happen, but to happen 6 months early. Similarly, we are planning for the future by overseeing the release of significant bands of public sector spectrum to the market.

The pace of change in the world of mobile is very fast, and we are determined to ensure Britain is ready for the challenges ahead.

The Government is also intervening in areas where commercial investment is not viable, through a major investment programme of £1.2 billion of public money. Through this investment, and working in partnership with industry, we will see much faster speeds, millions more homes and businesses able to enjoy these speeds, and a market which boasts high competition and low prices, particularly compared to our European neighbours.

On this latter aspect, the UK’s broadband market is already in rude health. Ofcom’s European scorecard, which was published today shows that the UK currently benefits from low prices and a high degree of competition in the broadband market, and that the UK has the best deals available for consumers across a selection of pricing bundles in the major European economies.

It is important that rural areas are not left in the slow lane when it comes to broadband access. We are bringing superfast access to 90% of UK premises, and a minimum of 2 megabits per second to everyone else. Rapid progress is being made on the rural programme: 11 projects have now signed contracts, and are either in progress already or about to start work. The remaining projects are entering procurements at a rate of one per week, and all should have completed their procurement phase by this summer.

The Government’s investment is already delivering faster connections for consumers – I visited North Yorkshire in December to unveil their first active fibre cabinet, and last week saw the unveiling of the first Welsh cabinets in Bangor. It is worth noting that the Devolved Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will all benefit from significant central government investment in their broadband infrastructure, delivering a key part of driving UK growth and investment.

Similarly, our £150m urban broadband programme – working closely with local authorities and the private sector – will ensure that our cities can compete with the best in the world. You just need to look at the success of Tech City here in London to see how establishing a digital hub with world class connectivity and expertise can spur today’s innovative idea into becoming the online business of tomorrow.

But we cannot create a world class connected Britain just by laying more fibre in the ground or building new base stations. It is also crucial that we get as many people as possible online enjoying the benefits presented by better connectivity, and also encourage British companies to expand and develop their internet-based operations. Ultimately it is users that will turn infrastructure investment into growth.

We are therefore ensuring that demand stimulation is incorporated into our Government-funded projects. The tireless work of Martha Lane Fox and Go ON UK, for example, has been vital in getting more people online and demonstrating how people’s lives can be changed for the better by embracing the digital world. We are exploring ways to encourage high speed takeup as part of our urban programme. And demand stimulation remains a key focus of all our local rural broadband projects, with a particular emphasis on SMEs.

It’s worth reflecting that, in a recent report on Britain’s broadband, the think tank Policy Exchange found that 79% of British businesses have a website, but only 36% allow online payments. So not only do we need more businesses online, but more businesses with the skills, expertise and confidence to branch into online sales and exploit the global marketplace.

But we are also well aware that doing more online presents challenges as well as opportunities. Embracing e-commerce will open up new markets, but also represents potential risks, for example around online fraud or website security. For consumers, the fear remains of personal data loss or online scams. This is why we are ensuring that the regulatory framework protects online businesses, customers and other users, while supporting a competitive and innovative market.

Then, there is content. While our brilliant, innovative creative industries are driving growth in this sector – generating over £36 billion every year – the Government is ensuring that we provide them with support by way of tax breaks for animation, video games, high end TV and the film industry.

Finally, let me repeat a point I made earlier: in building a world class connected Britain and supporting our internet economy, we are doing well, but the Government wants to ensure we are doing even better. This Government is committed to delivering the broadband infrastructure and services we need to compete with the best in the world.

Our rural projects are moving rapidly from procurement to spades in the ground, the spectrum licenses are in place to allow the rollout of 4G services this summer, and our reforms to cut the red tape facing providers are already underway. It is crucial that Government, regulators and commercial providers continue to work together to achieve our goals to increase demand and encourage innovative broadband usage. We have invested heavily in improving our infrastructure – let’s now make full use of it.

By working closely with the industry, I’m confident that we can realise our ambition of Britain as a world class connected country, a strong market for consumers, and a great place to do business.

Thank you.

Ed Vaizey – 2013 Speech to the Oxford Media Convention

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The below speech was made by Ed Vaizey on Wednesday 23rd January 2013 in Oxford.

The Communications White Paper – Challenges and Successes of the last year

I am delighted to be back and speaking at the Oxford Media Convention again this year.  I know that you will cover a lot of topics today, including Leveson, media plurality, the protection of children on-line and 4G spectrum and the changes that will bring.

What I would like to do this morning is set out some of the issues the Government intends to address in our forthcoming White Paper, to give you some insight into the issues that we think are important. Some of these issues, you will be glad to hear, overlap with your discussions later today, so we should be on the same wavelength.

But before I get into that, I wanted to reflect briefly on the UK media.

This has been one of the most challenging years.  We have had Savile, Lord MacAlpine, the Leveson Report, the spotlight has been on failures. I want to talk about the success of the British media. The BBC covered the Olympics superbly. Channel 4 transformed forever the way the Paralympics are seen.  The Mail Online became the most visited English language newspaper website in the world.  There was record inwards investment in British film and television from the likes of Disney, Warner Brothers and Discovery.  Skyfall became the highest grossing film of all time at the UK Box office.  British consumers broke the £1 billion level in digital downloads.  And the UK advertising industry continued to lead the world in pioneering new ways of digital advertising.

So there is a huge amount to be proud of, and I am proud to represent this sector in Government.

Framing the Paper

And it is on that note that I want to tell you about the White Paper that will come out later this year. The White Paper, when it is eventually published, will be the culmination of almost two years of discussions with industry and other stakeholders.  I want to thank everyone who has contributed to this discussion: in seminars, in responses to our discussion papers, on twitter and on the blog.

There is a clear message that has come out and that is the industry wants evolution rather than revolution.

There simply isn’t a great clamour for wide scale reform.  People have told us that, for the most part, our regulatory framework is working well. Industry isn’t being choked by regulation – something borne out by the huge success of recent years.  And consumers are embracing new formats and technology with more enthusiasm than almost anywhere else in the world, so regulation doesn’t seem to be stifling innovation.

So what are the issues we want to address? The White Paper will focus on three key areas: connectivity, content and consumer issues.   I’m not going to tell you the detail what the White Paper will say – I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise – but I am going to sketch out the issues that we face in each of the key areas and how we are approaching them.

Connectivity

First, then, I want to talk about connectivity and the infrastructure that underlies the entire communications sector, sometimes literally.  We have set our goal for the UK to have the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015.  We are investing £830 million in digital infrastructure to achieve this, money which will support the roll out of high speed broadband in rural communities, key cities and mobile not-spots.

The issue of mobile infrastructure is particularly important right now.  One part of this that you won’t have been able to avoid hearing about is the introduction of 4G – indeed you are discussing it later today.  We already have 4G services from EE and the spectrum auction, currently taking place under the watchful eye of Ofcom, will set the ball rolling for the arrival of 4G in the spring from a choice of operators. This will maximise the value and benefit of this scarce spectrum resource.

But rolling out 4G isn’t enough. Spectrum has many uses and there is a real need for more spectrum to be freed up and for the spectrum available to be better used. It needs to be used more flexibly; it needs to be allocated and re-allocated faster; it needs to meet the requirements of emerging technologies. In short it needs to support businesses to let them deliver for consumers.

We already have the world’s most ambitious programme to release public sector spectrum.  But the White Paper will look ahead, and focus on mechanisms to ensure that we have the spectrum we need to meet the challenges ahead.

Content

But great fixed and mobile connectivity is nothing without great content.  That puts us in the UK in a fantastic position. Whether it is Television, Film, Radio or Video Games, the UK is leading the way in creating innovative, successful and entertaining content. I was delighted when I saw the report from the Commercial Broadcasters’ Association, showing that investment in UK TV increased by a third in 2012.  Broadcast has set out the ‘Big ambitious and bold plans’ including major investment in UK content. It talks about:

“Sky establishing itself as a UK commissioner en par ‘with the big boys’”

‘Significant investment’ from UKTV … in new domestic shows “

“The launch of ‘London-based commissioning hubs’  by Discovery and National Geographic “

“Fox UK stepping up UK commissions … with an investment of £5m.”

Investment in content continues apace. We want to support this investment.

We want this level of success and investment not just to continue but to increase.  That’s why we are introducing tax breaks for High end TV, animation and video games to sit alongside the tax breaks already in place for the film industry.

That is why we want to provide certainty to those investing in content. That is why we have renewed the Channel 3 and Channel 5 licences, to maintain the content requirements for our Public Service Broadcasters, protecting the delivery of the world class content that we value so much.

But this isn’t enough.  We want the content market – the complex ecosystem of different organisations across the content production chain – to stay dynamic, flexible and responsive.  We want a mix of businesses of various sizes and with difference specialisms. We want it to be competitive. So we will have to look at the impact of convergence on markets. We want to make sure that, where previously distinct markets now overlap, the regulations are appropriate and that historic regulatory differences don’t inhibit competition.

We also want to see a solution to the current situation on so-called retransmission fees where Public Service Broadcasters and Licence Fee payers have paid large amounts to satellite providers for the content to be carried. We’ve looked very carefully at arguments on both sides and recognise that this situation has evolved over time perhaps in a way we didn’t intend.

I welcome the steps Sky have taken so far to reduce retransmission fees to a much lower level. But we want them to go further, taking into account the undoubted value that PSB’s offer to satellite platforms and their viewers, so that there’s a level playing field – zero fees either way.

This would mirror the arrangement that is currently the case for PSBs and cable platforms, where no charges are made – an arrangement that we want to see this preserved. We’re looking closely at how we can help achieve this without allowing other kinds of services – which offer no support to PSBs and therefore ultimately no advantage to consumers – to benefit.

We’re not going to rush into a regulatory solution because we think there’s no reason the market shouldn’t be able to work out a fair equitable solution as things stand, but if the industry can’t find a way to stop imposing this cost on Licence Fee payers and PSBs, we will look at our options for intervention.

Consumers

The final area I want to turn to is consumers, one that I think is particularly important in an environment where new technologies, platforms and services are emerging all the time. We want to make sure we continue to have a regulatory system that provides adequate protection for consumers.

New products of every kind are providing great new opportunities for consumers: goods that people want, services that allow us to connect, socialise and work in ways that until recently we wouldn’t have thought possible. But with this comes new challenges.  The regulations that are currently in place could never have envisaged the services that we now take for granted. So we need to update regulations where necessary to fill in these gaps, but also to update the framework, to allow the flexibility to respond to these challenges as they emerge, rather than all at once every ten years.

And, of course, action by industry itself has an incredibly important role to play. One area that I personally feel very strongly about – and where action is being taken – is in making sure that children are protected from harmful content.

Now I know you’ll be discussing these issues later this morning.   I think it is important to stress that real strides are being made through the UK Council for Child Internet Safety.  UKCCIS is a pioneering body – it was one of the first organisations of its kind in the world – bringing together the key players in child internet safety and working with industry to give parents the tools they need to protect children: ISP delivered parental control solutions, device level solutions, and greater support and education than ever before.

So real progress is being made, but we certainly aren’t making the mistake of thinking the work is done. We are working with industry to implement our new system, where every parent will be prompted to protect their child online. Protection will automatically be on if parents don’t make choices. No other Government has taken such radical steps before. And once this is in place, Britain will have the most robust internet child protection measures of any country in the world – bar none.

To support this, next week I will be meeting with key Internet Service Providers, the Internet Service Provider Association, Reg Bailey and Claire Perry, MP – the Prime Minister’s advisor on preventing the commercialisation and sexualisation of children. We want to review what has been achieved so far – and there is a lot – and to make sure ISPs do more, particularly in terms of raising awareness of parental controls.

There are other issues of consumer protection, the biggest issue in my postbag from the public is probably silent calls, unsolicited marketing calls and spam text messages.  Whilst direct marketing is a legitimate industry there is a need for better enforcement of the regulations to stop unwanted calls and texts. We have given enforcement bodies the teeth they need to do their work – through the powers to issue fines of up to £2m for silent calls and £500k for unsolicited marketing, changes that we introduced over the last couple of years – and it is good to see Ofcom and the ICO are using these powers.

But much more needs to be done. The split of responsibilities between the Telephone Preference Service, Ofcom and the Information Commissioner’s Office is confusing. The regulators need to bite, and bite hard, so that there is effective enforcement. So we want to give greater clarity to consumers about who to turn to, and critically I want to see more effective enforcement by the regulators to move with greater precision and speed in targeting rogue players.

The final consumer issue I want to touch on is personal data. Data is absolutely crucial to the success of on-line businesses.  It is absolutely crucial that we strike the right balance between the protection of consumers – making sure that they know how their data is being used – and the ability of business to use this data to deliver products and services that people want.  We took exactly this approach when I fought hard to ensure that the e-privacy directive achieved its aim of flagging cookies to web users, without stifling innovation.

We now face the same challenge with the EU Data protection proposals. We welcome the call to update these provisions. But we want to work hard with our colleagues.

I will work hard with our colleagues at the Ministry of Justice to ensure our approach to negotiations reflects the concerns of industry. At the same time it is important that industry can show that it understands the concerns that have been expressed about user privacy and make real efforts to work with our colleagues in Europe to address those concerns. Simply balking at the proposals on the table is not good enough, this is not going to go away so we need to work together to ensure what we end up with is practical for business, and delivers real safeguards for consumers.

We are all living more connected lives, relying more on the communications industry to socialise, share, work, shop. And in this context we want everyone to feel confident that they understand and are able to manage their privacy, their interactions, their finance and their data online and across the different platforms. And we want to make sure that where this doesn’t happen people know which bodies they can turn to for support.

Getting the framework right here – the right balance between regulation and industry action – is vital. Not only is it good for consumers, it is good for business and it is good for growth.

Conclusion

We as a Government don’t have all the answers for all the challenges this sector will face over the next decade. In fact I am saying the opposite.

What we need is a regime that is responsive and flexible enough to regulate a fast paced environment. What we need is for these industries to continue to innovate and to take responsibility. This will give us a framework that is able to support growth and support the people of the UK in an increasingly interconnected world. This means the best infrastructure. This means we support world leading content. This means consumer confidence in this brave new world.

I’m looking forward to sharing the Paper with you all, and even more so to working with you to see this realised.

Thank you.

Ed Vaizey – 2012 Speech to the Future of Library Services Conference

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Below is the text of the speech made by the Minister Ed Vaizey to the Future of Library Services Conference in London on 28th June 2012.

I’m delighted to have the opportunity to speak at today’s conference. This is a great opportunity to talk about the thriving library service that we have in England.

  • A library service made up of more than 3,300 libraries;
  • A library service in which councils invest £900 million a year;
  • A library service which continues to innovate and develop;
  • A library service that continues to open libraries and refurbish library buildings.

For example: Southwark’s new library in Canada Water is a state-of-the-art facility for the community, and just one of several new libraries in the borough; Oldham’s impressive Fitton Hill Library and Neighbourhood Centre has just opened; and Worcestershire is opening The Hive – the first ever joint public and academic library in the country.

Add to that significant refurbishment programmes – from Nottinghamshire to Newham – and you get a taste of the good news out there.
And Birmingham is planning to open the biggest library in Europe next year, costing almost £200 million.

And thanks to stories like this, we learned from today’s Taking Part survey that library visits remain stable – they are not declining. I know that the library service is facing challenges. But I want to get the good news out, and present a more balanced picture.

Arts Council: a development agency for libraries

As I often point out, libraries are emphatically a local authority service, and are fully funded by local government and run by local government. Nevertheless, they can benefit from having a national development agency to push innovation and best practice.

And our decision to give responsibility for libraries to the Arts Council (ACE) will provide exactly that service.

The move unites cultural policy with library policy for the first time, as was envisaged in the 1950s debates that led to the Public Libraries and Museums Act of 1964. It builds on the work ACE already does – funding important organisations that support libraries, such as the Booktrust, the Reading Agency, and Writing West Midlands to name just a few.

This also includes financial support. The Government and the Arts Council have already invested more than £500,000 to support development work by library authorities.

Today I am delighted to announce that the Arts Council will be allocating £6 milllion from its Grants for the Arts programme over the next two years for library authorities to lead projects working with artists, arts organisations and other cultural organisations on arts and cultural activity through libraries.

This fund will aim to stimulate ambitious, innovative partnerships between libraries and artists and arts organisations. It will help raise the ambition and expectation of libraries, and represents a significant commitment by the Arts Council to their new role.

As well as supporting libraries with funding for programmes, it’s also important that we identify library authorities that may need specific help to address particular issues.

Today I am therefore also pleased to announce an initiative with CIPFA to identify areas where individual authorities might be able to improve.

CIPFA’s new ‘comparative profile reports’ have been developed to benchmark local council services against comparable authorities, or “nearest neighbours” as CIPFA calls them. My Department will be commissioning reports on all library authorities in England, which will be available in December this year.

My Department will use the reports to look for ways in which we can help local authorities.  I must emphasise that this is not an attempt to sanction local authorities and certainly not a return to top-down, inflexible library standards. But if we see wildly diverging opening hours between two similar authorities with similar budgets and infrastructure, there will be an opportunity to ask questions and look at how opening hours could be improved.

Or if one authority is spending twice as much on book stock as another, but providing a similar number of books, we can ask if there are ways to improve efficiency in the authority in question.

I should also say that these reports will be publicly available, allowing MPs, councillors and other interested members of the public the chance to see how their local service measures up, and to ask well-informed questions – and also make well-informed suggestions for improvement.

Libraries in the Digital Age

Library buildings are and remain important.  And in the digital age, paradoxically, a bricks and mortar service is still extremely valuable.

The People’s Network put in place by Chris Smith made a big difference to libraries.  Millions of people now use their library to access the internet. I heard recently that the Society of Chief Librarians’ target to get 500,000 people on line for the first time by the end of 2012 was actually passed in April this year.

Now we need to go further. In the age of the smartphone and tablet, wifi is becoming an essential aspect of every-day life, and it is an ambition of mine for wifi to be in every library in England by 2015.  So I’ve asked my officials to explore how best to achieve this, working with colleagues across government.

Working Across Whitehall

Government support for libraries can be more effective if it works across Departments.

We are now working with the Department for Education to provide automatic library membership for primary school pupils, to encourage them to use their local library – a wonderful idea put forward by children’s author Michael Rosen.

In September we will pilot different approaches to test the most effective ways of supporting children and their families to use their libraries and read more widely.

And libraries have been a key part of the Cabinet Office’s Race Online 2012 initiative to get the digitally excluded on-line. Libraries’ staff and volunteers saw 2.5 million people getting online, which is a very real demonstration of the role they play in tackling the digital divide. Arts Council and SCL are currently working with the Post Office to support the Government’s programme to get more people using government services online. This approach will be piloted in Birmingham this autumn.

And the Cabinet Office has recently awarded £127,000 from the Social Action Fund to the Reading Agency to support teenage volunteers in libraries.

So more Departments are getting the message that libraries can help them deliver their services more effectively – whether it’s education, digital literacy or volunteering.

Volunteers and Community Libraries

Libraries have always benefited from the work of volunteers. And volunteers, particularly those who have retired but want to remain active in their community, have also benefited.

I would also like to pay tribute to the growing number of young people who support the Summer Reading Challenge.  Last year there were over 3000 young volunteers and we are expecting a significant increase in that number this year.

This is a really good example of where volunteers add value to a scheme and also where they gain a really valuable work experience.

Volunteers are crucial to the library service.  But let me state again, as I have so often, they are not a substitute for expertise of professional librarians, as well as other people trained in specific aspects of the library service.

I am also pleased to see community supported libraries coming into play, particularly where a local authority is planning to close a building. Community run libraries are contributing to a diverse picture of libraries located within village halls, pubs, shops, churches, day care centres, tourist information centres and enterprise hubs.

Community managed and community supported libraries will never replace the extensive network of council run libraries we enjoy.  But they do provide an important additional element of provision, and an important alternative model which can add to the rich variety of services already available.

It is precisely because of this that my Department is currently working with the Arts Council, LGA, Defra, and DCLG to create a new information resource  for authorities considering establishing community supported or community managed libraries in their areas.  It is important that local authorities and community groups work together to ensure that library assets transferred to communities are sustainable in the long term.

Funding Context

Let me take this opportunity to state once again, that libraries are and will remain a statutory service.  The challenge for local authorities therefore is the provision of that statutory service in a tight financial climate.

The Arts Council’s Envisioning research will help Councils think about what their service should look like in the future. And as a highlight of best practice, the LGA yesterday launched an invaluable publication ‘Local Solutions for Future Local Library Services’ which – as the name suggests – is packed full of useful case studies, some of which I’ve referred to today. It picks up on areas where libraries can improve the delivery of the service – and offers tangible solutions.

Library Closures and service reviews

I have made it clear from the moment I became a Minister that no library authority should contemplate closing libraries unless they have conducted a proper review of their library service.

While some local authorities have put forward controversial proposals since 2010, all of them have conducted a library review, as I made clear to them they would have to do when I took office. I have no doubt that the efforts of library campaigners have also brought about welcome changes in some of the more extreme proposals put forward.

Nevertheless, I am always mindful that libraries are a local service, paid for by local taxpayers.  As far as possible, local democracy not Whitehall diktat should have an impact on how they are shaped. A library inquiry is a power of last resort – it has only ever been used once in fifty years. It is not a tool to be used lightly, or for political expediency

A figure of 600 library closures is regularly quoted in the media – but it is very wide of the mark.  A truer picture of building closures would be about a tenth of that.

But even while there have been closures, sometimes services merge or move to community-management, and it’s important that we are able to have an intelligent debate about this. And it’s also important to remember that many libraries are also opening.

Conclusion

I remain resolutely optimistic about library services. I have never, even in opposition, depicted the library service as being in crisis.

I look to a future where:

  • The Arts Council acts as a development agency for libraries;
  • Libraries can access funds and support from the Arts Council
  • Poorly performing authorities are identified and helped to improve;
  • Key initiatives can be taken forward by central government, such as wi-fi or automatic enrolment for school children;
  • Government and local authorities understand what a vital resource libraries are across a whole range of activities.

But we must always remember that libraries are a local service – free to serve their local community, to innovate and adapt to local needs.

I hope you will join me in continuing to spread the good news, and to highlight the excellent service provided by so many people throughout England.

Ed Vaizey – 2011 Creative Ecology Speech

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Below is the text of the speech made by the Minister of State at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, held at the State of the Arts Conference in London on Thursday 10th February 2011.

Good morning.

The State of the Arts conference has, in one year, established itself as the most important occasion in the calendar for the discussion of cultural policy. So today is a great opportunity for me to set out where we are now and what Government sees as the challenges ahead.

I want to take the opportunity today to make the case for the importance of the creative ecology – an alliance between the subsidised and commercial arts; the professional and the voluntary arts; and the arts and the creative industries.

I want to argue that arts policy should take this creative ecology into account, in order to see the bigger picture and the wider opportunities. We are a hugely creative nation. We have tough times to face, and we will get through them if we face them together.

But the great strength of the arts is its ecology – subsidised arts feeding the commercial arts, the voluntary arts and the amateur arts ensuring the creative spirit is present in every corner of the nation.

And what creative spirit it is. Whether it’s Rory Kinnear’s Hamlet, Akram Khan’s Gnosis or the Halle’s Mahler season. Or whether it’s Newcastle’s new City Library, Burberry’s collection last year or James Dyson’s beautiful bladeless fan that’s sitting in my office.

We should never forget the UK is still revered around the world for its culture and its creativity. Tough times can make us think the glass is half empty. My view is that our cup is still plentiful.

Funding

Nevertheless, much of the debate about the arts focuses solely on the level of grant funding, so let me begin by talking about money. It’s worth reminding people – and some still seem oblivious to this fact – that last year’s settlement took place against the background of the largest budget deficit in peacetime history.

The economic situation means that we are borrowing £120 million a day; this is more than the British Museum, the Tate and the National Gallery receive in a year; one pound in every four that we spend is borrowed; only Spain and Ireland have deficits greater than ours.

We never pretended that we could maintain arts funding at current levels. No one who was being honest about the state of the public finances could possibly have argued that. And anyone who pretends that it would have been possible is being at best disingenuous. So although I am under no illusions that these next few years are going to be tough, I believe we have done all we can to help.

Despite a decrease in grant-in-aid, an increase in Lottery funding means the Arts Council’s budget will fall by just 11 per cent over the next four years;

Core funding for arts organisations funded by the Arts Council has been protected, and will fall by less than 15 per cent over the Parliament;

Funding for our national museums will fall by just 15 per cent, and the decision to release £143 million in reserves will make a significant difference to many of their finances;

Renaissance funding will fall by just 15 per cent. And the increase in Heritage Lottery Funding will help here as well – more than a third of HLF’s grants go to museums;

Lottery funding for film will increase by 60 per cent, from about £27 million to about £43 million;

In order to help protect the frontline, DCMS is also reducing its costs by 50 per cent.

And £80 million over four years to be matched by private giving to boost philanthropy

Funding across the arts will be more than £1billion in 2011/12. That’s still a hugely significant sum. It’s broadly in line with the sums of money that have been received over the last fifteen years, since the creation of the Lottery.

It’s interesting to see that combined Lottery and grant-in-aid funding for the Arts Council has only beaten 1997 levels in two subsequent years – and in each of those years by less than one per cent. So let’s not pretend that we are moving from feast to famine.

We have also ensured that we have simplified the landscape. So we have moved responsibilities from the MLA to the Arts Council, to create a single home for the arts, regional museums and libraries, giving the Arts Council a much stronger voice to make the case for culture at a local and regional level. We have created a single home for British film in the British Film Institute. And we are also establishing Creative England to support the creative industries throughout the country.

But at the same time we recognise the challenge faced in other parts of the public sector. I know that one of the biggest worries at the moment is local authority funding. The Government is passionately committed to devolving power to the local level, to locally elected officials and to communities.

On the whole, local government knows the needs of local people far better than a central government department ever can. And while I might not agree with every decision made by every local authority, I absolutely respect their right to make that decision themselves. The last thing the arts need is a Whitehall Minister demanding changes to every decision in a local authority that he or she doesn’t agree with. I know a lot of local councillors and that would be hugely counter-productive.

The challenge for the arts is to work with their local authorities.

Persuade a Council leader that the local library or the local theatre or the local arts centre is a fundamental part, not just of the arts in their area, but their entire community, and that it can deliver more than just an arts service, it can deliver health, education, social services and act as a hub for the community, and you’re three-quarters of the way there.

The good local authorities get this already. For all the bad news I also hear good news in places like Newcastle and Gateshead and Reading, working to join all their services up, thinking of the arts as part of a much wider offer to their communities. The challenge we jointly face is how to help the good ones share that expertise with the ones who are still struggling, and help you to win over sceptical chief executives and councillors right across the country.

The Future of Arts Policy

I have often commented about how fortunate we are in this country to have some of the most inspiring arts leaders and performers in the world. Through our settlement, we have secured funding for our leading arts organisations, free entrance to our national museums, and core funding for our regional museums.

So there is an argument for allowing the arts to get on with it on the basis of their four-year settlement. In terms of who gets what, we’ve already done this. We’ve given the Arts Council their allocation and we trust them to make the right decisions on how best to deploy it. And we trust artists to use that money and do what they do best, create great art that has the greatest impact on the widest audience.

But there are several key areas where we have decided to intervene, in order to make a long-term difference.

Philanthropy

In December last year, we announced our ten point strategy for increasing philanthropy across the country. This will focus on greater public recognition, better long term cultivation of donors, more planned giving, harnessing new technologies to boost fundraising and possible tax changes that will make it easier to give to arts institutions.

DCMS and the Arts Council have announced £80 million of new money for a series of match funding schemes over the next five years, beginning in April 2011.

It’s important that that matched fund is targeted and used to help those organisations that find it most difficult to fund-raise – those outside London, those that are smaller, those from arts forms that traditionally find it more difficult to attract philanthropy. We also want to use that fund to kick-start endowments.

There are two quick points to make here. First, this is a long-term strategy. If you’re talking about endowments, you won’t see the fruit of your work for many years. And secondly, the emphasis we place on philanthropy is emphatically not with a view to replacing core funding.

Leadership and Innovation

The other great opportunity for the arts is in leadership and innovation. The past decade has seen some enormous leaps in how we think about leadership in our sectors. The consistently amazing support of Dame Vivien Duffield and the work of Hilary Carty and the Cultural Leadership Programme have brought the importance of good leadership to the front of everyone’s minds and have inspired a new generation of exciting, innovative cultural leaders.

But not only do we need to keep thinking about where the next generation of leaders comes from, and the next after that, but we need to think about the other kinds of opportunities that we need to grasp to continue to flourish.

The rapid changes in technology provide just such an opportunity. It is vital that arts organisations take advantage of new technology, as a new way to engage with audiences, and dare I say it, even make money.

Through technology, arts organisations can really begin to understand where their audiences come from, who they are failing to reach, to push out content, to become broadcasters and content providers.

Michael Kaiser from the Kennedy Center wrote a piece last week for the Huffington Post about some of the themes I have talked about. In seven simple points he nails exactly why technology has, and will continue to revolutionise the way we go about our lives and what that means for artists and for audiences.

As he stated: “…to most arts leaders I meet, new technologies are viewed as a threat. They are perceived as competitors for our audiences’ time and attention rather than our biggest allies. Arts organizations have been slow to exploit the power of new technology and cling to older, more expensive techniques that are not as effective. We are clearly doing something wrong. We must find ways to embrace the new technologies. We need to apply the creativity we bring to our stages and galleries to the use of these new tools. The business world, entertainment industry and sports world are all doing so. If we don’t make a committed effort, we will fall hopelessly behind and the arts will lose their place in our society.”

I couldn’t agree more. Far be it for me to accuse the arts world of being conservative, but there are clearly opportunities to be had here.

That’s why I’m delighted that the Arts Council and NESTA are establishing a new joint fund to support all types of innovation right across the creative and cultural sector.

The new programme will take the people with the most innovative ideas on leadership, business models, technology, content creation, fundraising and audience development, from right the way across the creative industries, providing seed funding for some of the best and help them share their learning. It will also inform a much wider programme of digital innovation that the Arts Council plan to launch in the spring.

The Arts Council has also announced its partnership with the BBC, working with the BBC Academy with its media and digital experience to support the development of the arts sector’s media production skills.

The partnerships with NESTA and the BBC show where the Arts Council, through a network of new partnerships, can add even greater value for the sector. I want the Arts Council to be an organisation that is a source of advice and expertise for everyone who works or participates in the arts – not just for the organisations it funds, but right the way across the creative ecology.

I want the Arts Council to work with other organisations as well – why not the Technology Strategy Board, the BFI and Creative England? I also want to see them learn from the huge number of other creative organisations who need no encouragement in developing innovative partnerships across the creative industries, but also to help those who lack the resources, the knowledge or the guidance to do the same and who are trapped in what often still looks like a landscape of individual silos.

The work the Arts Council is doing with the BBC, with NESTA and with others is designed to address this, and marks the start of a new focus from government on innovation in the arts.

Cultural Education

As well as developing new technologies and our capacity to innovate, we also need to develop the audiences of the future. Earlier this week Darren Henley published his review of music education. I’m delighted that as a result we have secured funding for music education in schools, with £82.5m committed next year. He made a number of key recommendations which will strengthen music education for the future and we will be setting out our full response to these in a National Plan for Music Education later in the year.

I think the strength of the policy that the Plan will address is that it is more than just about the money. It is the desire to bring rigour and accountability to public investment– a determination to join up random initiatives to create a coherent whole, and not to accept second best.

So it should be with cultural education. We have therefore asked Darren to carry out a second review to look at the best way of ensuring that our children have access to a solid cultural education, bringing together the wide range of opportunities available in the arts, heritage, film and museums.

I hope that you will all engage in the debate about how best to support cultural education and support him in this important work.

Conclusion

Our strategy for the arts is very simple. We want to help all the arts – those that receive subsidy, those that are purely commercial, those that are voluntary and amateur.

We aim to do this

By securing core funding for the arts, as we have done;

By expanding the funding base for the arts;

By reinvigorating philanthropy;

By focusing on how best to support innovation, whether that’s technological, leadership, artistic or business innovation;

By encouraging new alliances between the Arts Council and other bodies across the creative industries;

By helping artists and creative organisations do the same, whether that’s by brokering relationships or sharing expertise;

And by supporting high quality music and cultural education in schools.

I think the next few years provide huge opportunities for the arts, and Government’s role is to support you in taking advantage of them. I’m looking forward to a discussion about how best we can do that.

Theresa Villiers – 2015 Speech to Conservative Party Conference

Theresa Villiers
Theresa Villiers

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa Villiers, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, on 7 October 2015 to the Conservative Party Conference.

It’s a great privilege for me to deliver my fourth party conference speech as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland…

… and of course I’m delighted that for the very first time, I’m addressing you as part of a majority Conservative government following the election victory which every single pundit and pollster said wasn’t going to happen.

On the 7th May we were given a mandate to govern throughout the whole of our United Kingdom.

We’re doing so as a One Nation government committed to bringing our country together.

That includes Northern Ireland … where we will deliver our manifesto commitments and continue the political journey first begun by a Conservative Government twenty years ago.

That’s a journey towards a more peaceful, stable and prosperous Northern Ireland … where working people have the chance to get on to the best of their ability, regardless of their community background…

… a Northern Ireland which is secure within the UK on the basis of consent … and which we want to be a place no longer defined by its divided past, but instead by its shared future.

This time last year I stood before you and acknowledged that the devolved institutions were in difficulty …

… that political relationships were being damaged by disagreements on matters like flags, parading and the past

… and that a budget dispute threatened the whole future of the Stormont Executive.

My realistic assessment was the time had come for a fresh round of cross party talks …. and these began shortly afterwards with the five main Northern Ireland parties, and the Irish Government on matters falling within their responsibility.

The talks ran for 11 weeks and there were many times when it seemed that a successful outcome was unachievable….

… but after a final 25 hour long stretch of negotiations, the Stormont House Agreement was reached on 23rd December.

That Agreement has been widely acknowledged as a landmark achievement, including by the President of the United States … and we can take pride in the fact that it was a Conservative-led Government which secured it.

The Agreement sets out a way to make progress on some of the most difficult issues facing Northern Ireland today … many of which have eluded previous attempts at negotiation.

It provides a clear path to putting the finances of the Stormont Executive on a sustainable footing for the future.

It offers a way forward on flags and parades.

It would establish broadly based institutions to help address the legacy of the past … offering better outcomes for victims and survivors … institutions which are to be rooted in principles of fairness, balance and impartiality.

And it contains measures to make devolution work better … including an official opposition at Stormont for which we Conservatives have long argued.

All of this was underpinned by a generous funding package that would give the Executive £2 billion in extra spending power.

But as that great peace process veteran, George Mitchell, reminded me earlier this year … getting an agreement is about 20% of the job ….

… the other eighty per cent is getting it implemented.

For our part the Government is determined to do exactly that.

We’ve passed legislation to enable the devolution of corporation tax powers.

That’s a change that could have a genuinely transformative impact on jobs and prosperity in Northern Ireland because of the land border it shares with a low tax jurisdiction.

To take forward much needed public sector reform, we’ve released funding for the voluntary redundancy scheme contained in the Agreement.

And we will soon be introducing a Bill at Westminster to deliver the new institutions envisaged on the past.

Today I want to give you these assurances in relation to that legislation.

As our Northern Ireland manifesto made very clear …

… as we look back at the history of the Troubles, we in this party will never accept any form of equivalence between the police officers and soldiers who put their lives on the line to protect people from harm and defend the rule of law… and the terrorists who waged a thirty year campaign of violence to inflict harm and subvert the rule of law.

We will never accept any attempt to re-write history or legitimise the actions of those who pursued their aims by the bullet or the bomb.

And we will not countenance any form of amnesty for those suspected of criminal behaviour.

Under this Conservative Government the law will always take its course without fear or favour … and the Bill we introduce will be wholly consistent with that fundamental principle.

And I have to say that many will view with grave concern the fact that, as recently as August, the leader the Labour Party have just elected was asked five times in an interview to condemn IRA terrorism and five times failed to do so.

And while the Shadow Chancellor might have issued a carefully worded apology for the hurt caused by his comments on the IRA … I say it’s time he retracted in full his call to honour IRA terrorists and admit that he was entirely wrong ever to have made that statement in the first place.

The Conservative manifesto commits us to working with all parties to ensure everyone fulfils their obligations under the Stormont House Agreement.

But progress in the Northern Ireland Executive stalled in March when the two nationalist parties withdrew their support for crucial provisions on finance and welfare reform.

We are clear … the Government will not fund a more generous welfare system in Northern Ireland than it does in the rest of the UK.

There is no more money.

Without welfare reform and efficiency measures to deal with in-year pressures, the Executive’s budget simply does not add up.

Pouring millions of pounds every week into an unreformed, high cost, welfare system in Northern Ireland means less and less money available for front line public services.

As a direct result … NHS waiting times are already getting longer and the pressure will only increase in the weeks to come.

The Government cannot stand by and let this situation drag on indefinitely, with Stormont increasingly unable to deliver key public services.

That’s why I have confirmed that we’re prepared to legislate at Westminster for welfare reform in Northern Ireland, if that becomes necessary.

It would be a last resort…. it’s an outcome we’re striving to avoid.

And that is one of the main reasons why we acted swiftly to reconvene the intensive cross party talks now underway once again to try to break the deadlock.

It’s too early to say whether they’ll succeed … though I sense a genuine willingness on all sides to make progress.

But time is short.

Unlike last year, we simply don’t have the luxury of endless long hours of discussions stretching on and on until Christmas.

What’s at stake is not just the credibility of devolved government in Northern Ireland but the survival of devolved government in Northern Ireland.

One only has to look round Europe to see the problems caused when an administration cannot live within its budget and the harsh impact that can have on some of the most vulnerable in society.

Replaying that scenario in Northern Ireland would stretch political relationships within the Executive well beyond breaking point.

There’s a real risk that those taking a hard line against welfare reform will end up running the devolved institutions into collapse as collateral damage.

A return to direct rule would be a severe setback after everything that’s been achieved over recent years … and we are doing all we can to prevent it.

What Northern Ireland needs is an effective devolved power-sharing government that is capable of making the kind of difficult choices on spending priorities, welfare and public sector efficiency with which more or less every other administration in the developed world has had to grapple in the years since the crash of 2008.

That’s what we’re striving to achieve.

But these talks aren’t just about implementing the Agreement … crucial though that is.

In recent months the fallout from two brutal murders in Belfast has highlighted the continued presence of paramilitary organisations … and the involvement of some of their members in criminality and organised crime.

Let’s be clear.

Paramilitary organisations have no place in a democratic society.

They were never justified in the past.

They are not justified today.

And they should disband.

So a key aim of the talks is to find a way to bring an end to this continuing blight on Northern Ireland society.

These are very serious matters … as is the continuing terrorist threat from dissident republican groupings who maintain both lethal intent and the capacity to mount lethal attacks.

And I would like to put on record today the deeply felt gratitude of this Government, and this party, for the outstanding work done by the Police Service of Northern Ireland in defending the community from terrorist attack.

There is so much to be positive about in today’s Northern Ireland.

After being hit hard by Labour’s great recession … the economy there is growing again … expanding opportunity for hard working people.

There over 32,000 more people in work than when we came to office in 2010 … all now given the security of a pay packet to support their families.

Belfast is one of the most attractive destinations in the country for Foreign Direct Investment.

Year after year, Northern Ireland’s young people outperform England and Wales at GCSE and A level.

And last month county Fermanagh was officially named as the happiest place in the United Kingdom.

So in conclusion … I consider myself to be immensely lucky to have been given the chance to serve as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland….

… and whilst there are times when the situation looks grim and the divisions seem impossible to bridge ….

… there three reasons why I approach this latest round of cross party talks with hope … and even a glimmer of optimism.

Firstly, I have an outstanding team around me … including Ben Wallace, Andrew Dunlop, Charles Elphicke and Rebecca Harris … who grapple with all the many challenges thrown at them with both dedication and enthusiasm.

Secondly, I report to a Prime Minister whose very real affection for Northern Ireland and its people means that he has been unstinting in his support for all the painstaking work needed to keep the political process up and running despite the bumps in the road of the last few years.

And thirdly … and most importantly of all … I believe that Northern Ireland’s leaders do want to make the political settlement work … and they do want to find a way to resolve the two crucial questions about which I have addressed this conference today.

Success or failure over the coming days lies in their hands.

They have rightly received praise around the world for all that they achieved in reaching the 1998 peace settlement which has transformed life in Northern Ireland for the better.

If we are to build a brighter, more secure future for everyone, now is the time to show that same spirit again.

I believe that they can do it … a resolution is possible … I will be working with perseverance and determination to see that happen.

Thank you.

David Cameron – 2014 Speech to Conservative Party Conference

davidcameron

Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, on 1 October 2014 to the Conservative Party Conference.

I am so proud to stand here today as Prime Minister of four nations in one United Kingdom.

I was always clear about why we called that referendum.

Duck the fight – and our union could have been taken apart bit by bit.

Take it on – and we had the chance to settle the question.

This Party has always confronted the big issues for the sake of our country.

And now…

…England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland…

…we are one people in one union and everyone here can be proud of that.

And we can all agree, during that campaign a new star – a new Conservative star – was born…

…someone who’s going to take our message to every corner of Scotland: our very own Ruth Davidson.

The lead-up to that referendum was the most nerve-wracking week of my life.

But I can tell you the best moment of my year.

It was June 6th, the 70th anniversary of D Day.

Sam and I were in Bayeux, in France, with my constituent, Patrick Churchill…

…no relation to the great man – but a great man himself.

Patrick is 91 years old – and 70 years ago, he was there fighting fascism, helping to liberate that town.

I’ll never forget the tears in his eyes as he talked about the comrades he left behind..

…or the pride they all felt in the job they had done.

As we walked along the streets he pointed out where he had driven his tank…

…and all along the roadside there were French children waving flags – Union Jacks – the grandchildren of the people he had liberated.

Patrick’s here today with his wife Karin – and I know, like me, you’ll want to give them the warmest welcome.

When people have seen our flag – in some of the most desperate times in history – they have known what it stands for.

Freedom. Justice. Standing up for what is right.

They have known this isn’t any old country.

This is a special country.

June 6th this summer. Normandy.

I was so proud of Great Britain that day.

And here, today, I want to set out how in this generation, we can build a country whose future we can all be proud of.

How we can secure a better future for all.

How we can build a Britain that everyone is proud to call home.

The heirs to those who fought on the beaches of Northern France are those fighting in Afghanistan today.

For thirteen years, young men and women have been serving our country there.

This year, the last of our combat troops come home – and I know everyone here will want to show how grateful and how proud we are of everyone who served.

But the end of the Afghan mission does not mean the end of the threat.

The threat is Islamist extremist terrorism – and it has found a new, hellish crucible – with ISIL, in Iraq and Syria.

These people are evil, pure and simple.

They kill children; rape women; threaten non-believers with genocide; behead journalists and aid workers.

Some people seem to think we can opt out of this. We can’t.

As I speak, British servicemen and women are flying in the skies over Iraq.

They saw action yesterday.

And there will be troops on the frontline – but they will be Iraqis, Kurds, and Syrians…

…fighting for the safe and democratic future they deserve.

We are acting in partnership with a range of countries – including those from the region.

Because let’s be clear:

There is no “walk on by” option.

Unless we deal with ISIL, they will deal with us, bringing terror and murder to our streets.

As always with this Party, we will do whatever it takes to keep our country safe.

And to those who have had all the advantages of being brought up in Britain, but who want to go and fight for ISIL – let me say this.

If you try to travel to Syria or Iraq, we will use everything at our disposal to stop you:

Taking away your passport; prosecuting, convicting, imprisoning you…

…and if you’re there already – even preventing you from coming back.

You have declared your allegiance.

You are an enemy of the UK – and you should expect to be treated as such.

When it comes to keeping Britain safe, I had one man by my side for four years.

When he was a teenager, he didn’t only address the Tory party conference…

…he read Hansard in bed…

…and had a record collection consisting of one album by Dire Straits and dozens of speeches by Winston Churchill.

All I can say is this: that boy became a fine Parliamentarian…

…a brilliant Foreign Secretary…

…our greatest living Yorkshireman…

…and someone to whom I owe an enormous debt of gratitude: William Hague.

William, there’s one more task I want you to carry out: bringing fairness to our constitution.

During that referendum campaign we made a vow to the Scottish people that they will get more powers – and we will keep that vow.

But here’s my vow to the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

I know the system is unfair.

I know that you are asking: if Scotland can vote separately on things like tax, spending and welfare….

….why can’t England, Wales and Northern Ireland do the same?

I know you want this answered.

So this is my vow: English votes for English laws – the Conservatives will deliver it.

We’ve delivered a lot these past four years…

…but we’ve had to do it all in a coalition government.

Believe me: coalition was not what I wanted to do; it’s what I had to do.

And I know what I want next.

To be back here in October 2015 delivering Conservative policies…

…based on Conservative values…

…leading a majority Conservative Government.

So where do we want to take our country?

Where do I want to take our country?

During these four years, I hope that the British people have come to know me a little.

I’m not a complicated man. I believe in some simple things.

Families come first. They are the way you make a nation strong from the inside out.

I care deeply about those who struggle to get by…

…but I believe the best thing to do is help them stand on their own two feet – and no, that’s not saying “you’re on your own”, but “we are on your side, helping you be all you can.”

And I believe in something for something; not something for nothing.

Those who do the right thing, put the effort in, who work and build communities – these are the people who should be rewarded.

All of this is underpinned by a deep patriotism.

I love this country – and my goal is this:

To make Britain a country that everyone is proud to call home.

That doesn’t just mean having the fastest-growing economy, or climbing some international league table.

I didn’t come into politics to make the lines on the graphs go in the right direction.

I want to help you live a better life.

And it comes back to those things I believe.

A Britain that everyone is proud to call home is a Britain where hard work is really rewarded.

Not a free-for-all, but a chance for all…

…the chance of a job, a home, a good start in life…

…whoever you are, wherever you are from.

And by the way – you never pull one person up by pulling another one down.

So this Party doesn’t do the politics of envy and class warfare…

…we believe in aspiration and helping people get on in life – and what’s more, we’re proud of it.

The past four years have been about laying the foundations for that Britain.

The next five will be about finishing the job.

Put another way – if our economic plan for the past four years has been about our country – and saving it from economic ruin…

…our plan for the next five years will be about you, and your family – and helping you get on.

But Conservatives know this.

Nothing comes easy.

There’s no reward without effort; no wealth without work; no success without sacrifice…

…and we credit the British people with knowing these things too.

Other parties preach to you about a Brave New World…

…we understand you have to start with the real world and make it better.

So let other politicians stand on stages like this and promise an easy life. Not me.

I am here today to set out our Conservative commitment for the next five years.

If you want to provide for yourself and your family, you’ll have the security of a job…

…but only if we stick to our long-term economic plan.

If you work hard, we will cut your taxes…

…but only if we keep on cutting the deficit, so we can afford to do that.

For those wanting to buy a home, yes – we will help you get on that housing ladder…

…but only if we take on the vested interests, and build more homes – however hard that is.

We will make sure your children get a great education; the best education…

…but only if we keep taking on everyone who gets in the way of high standards.

For those retiring, we will make sure you get a decent pension; and real rewards for a life of work…

…but only if we as a country accept we all have to work a bit longer and save a bit more.

It’s pretty simple really: a good job, a nice home, more money at the end of the month, a decent education for your children, a safe and secure retirement.

A country where if you put in, you get out.

A Britain everyone is proud to call home.

And a real long-term plan to get there.

It starts with more decent jobs.

And look how far we’ve come.

Today there are 1 million 800 thousand more jobs in our country than there were in 2010.

We are creating more jobs here in Britain than in the whole of Europe put together.

1.8 million jobs.

You know – when Britain is getting back to work, it can only mean one thing…

…the Conservatives are back in Government.

So here’s our commitment for the next five years.

What the economists would call: the highest employment rate of any major economy.

What I call: full employment in Britain.

Just think of what that would mean.

Those who can work, able to work…

…standing on their own two feet, looking at their children and thinking “I am providing for you.”

We can get there – but only if we stick to our plan.

Companies are coming from all over the world to invest and create jobs here.

That’s not happened by accident.

It’s because they see a Government rolling out the red carpet for them, cutting their red tape, cutting their taxes.

So here is a commitment: with the next Conservative Government – we will always have the most competitive corporate taxes in the G20…

…lower than Germany, lower than Japan, lower than the United States.

But George said something really important in that brilliant speech on Monday.

A message to those global companies:

We have cut your taxes – now you must pay what you owe.

We must stick to the plan on welfare too.

With us, if you’re out of work, you will get unemployment benefit…

…but only if you go to the Job Centre, update your CV, attend interviews and accept the work you’re offered.

As I said: no more something-for-nothing.

And look at the results: 800,000 fewer people on the main out-of-work benefits.

In the next five years we’re going to go further.

You heard it this week – we won’t just aim to lower youth unemployment; we aim to abolish it.

We’ve made clear decisions.

We will reduce the benefits cap, and we will say to those 21 and under: no longer will you have the option of leaving school and going straight into a life on benefits.

You must earn or learn.

And we will help by funding three million Apprenticeships.

Let’s say to our young people: a life on welfare is no life at all…

…instead: here’s some hope; here’s a chance to get on and make something of yourself.

What do our opponents have to say?

They have opposed every change to welfare we’ve made – and I expect they’ll oppose this too.

They sit there pontificating about poverty – yet they’re the ones who left a generation to rot on welfare.

And while we’re at it: let’s compare records.

Under Labour, unemployment rose. With us, unemployment is falling faster than at any time for 25 years.

Under Labour, inequality widened. With us, it’s narrowed.

Those are the facts.

So let’s say it loudly and proudly…

…with Britain getting off welfare and back to work…

…the real party of compassion and social justice today is here in this hall – the Conservative Party.

It’s not just the job numbers that matter – it is the reality of working life for people in our country…

…especially the lowest-paid.

Anyone should be free to take on different jobs so they can get on.

But when companies employ staff on zero hours contracts and then stop them from getting work elsewhere, that’s not a free market – it is a fixed market.

In a Britain that everyone is proud to call home, people are employed, they are not used.

Those exclusive zero hours contracts that left people unable to build decent lives for themselves – we will scrap them.

But there’s still more injustice when it comes to work, and it’s even more shocking.

Criminal gangs trafficking people halfway around the world and making them work in the most disgusting conditions.

I’ve been to see these – houses on terraced streets, built for families of four, cramming in 15 people like animals.

To those crime lords who think they can get away with it, I say…

No: not in this country; not with this party.

…with our Modern Slavery Bill we’re coming after you and we’re going to put a stop to it once and for all.

Once you have a job, I want you to take home more of your own money.

If you put in, you should get out – not hand so much of it to the taxman.

That’s why these past four years, despite everything, I’ve made sure we provide some relief to taxpayers in our country – especially the poorest.

No income tax until you earn £10,000 a year – and from next April, £10,500 a year.

Three million people taken out of income tax altogether.

A tax cut for 25 million more.

And our commitment to you for the next five years: we want to cut more of your taxes.

But we can only do that if we keep on cutting the deficit.

It’s common sense – tax cuts need to be paid for.

So here’s our plan.

We are going to balance the books by 2018, and start putting aside money for the future.

To do it we’ll need to find £25 billion worth of savings in the first two years of the next Parliament.

That’s a lot of money, but it’s doable.

£25 billion is actually just three per cent of what government spends each year.

It is a quarter of the savings we have found in this Parliament.

I am confident we will find the savings we need through spending cuts alone.

We will see the job through and get back into the black.

And as we do that, I am clear about something else.

We need tax cuts for hardworking people.

And here and now, I have a specific commitment.

Today, the minimum wage reaches £6.50 an hour, and before long we’ll reach our next goal of £7.

I can tell you now that a future Conservative Government will raise the tax-free personal allowance from £10,500 to £12,500.

That will take 1 million more of the lowest paid workers out of income tax – and will give a tax cut to 30 million more.

So with us, if you work 30 hours a week on minimum wage, you will pay no income tax at all. Nothing. Zero. Zilch.

Lower taxes for our hardworking people…

…that’s what I call a Britain that everyone is proud to call home.

But we will do something else.

The 40p tax rate was only supposed to be paid by the most well-off people in our country…

…but in the past couple of decades, far too many have been dragged into it: teachers, police officers.

So let me tell you this today.

I want to take action that’s long overdue, and bring back some fairness to tax.

With a Conservative government, we will raise the threshold at which people pay the 40p rate.

It’s currently £41,900…

…in the next Parliament we will raise it to £50,000.

So here’s our commitment to the British people:

No income tax if you are on Minimum Wage.

A 12 and a half thousand pound tax-free personal allowance for millions of hardworking people.

And you only pay 40p tax when you earn £50,000.

So let the message go out:

With the Conservatives, if you work hard and do the right thing…

…we say you should keep more of your own money to spend as you choose.

That’s what our long-term economic plan means for you.

And while I’m on the subject of the big economic questions our country faces – on spending, on tax – did you hear Ed Miliband last week?

He spoke for over an hour, but didn’t mention the deficit once. Not once.

He said he ‘forgot’ to mention it.

Ed – people forget their car keys, school kids sometimes forget their homework…

…but if you want to be Prime Minister of this country, you cannot forget the biggest challenge we face.

A few weeks ago, Ed Balls said that in thirteen years of Government, Labour had made ‘some mistakes’.

‘Some mistakes’.

Excuse me?

You were the people who left Britain with the biggest peacetime deficit in history…

…who gave us the deepest recession since the war…

…who destroyed our pensions system, bust our banking system…

…who left a million young people out of work, five million on out-of-work benefits – and hundreds of billions of debt.

Some mistakes?

Labour were just one big mistake.

And five years on, they still want to spend more, borrow more, tax more.

It’s the same old Labour, and you know what?

They say that madness is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.

Well I say: madness is voting for this high spending, high taxing, deficit ballooning shower and expecting anything other than economic disaster.

In a country that everyone is proud to call home, you should be able to buy a home – if you’re willing to save.

It shouldn’t be some impossible dream.

But we inherited a situation where it was.

Young people watched Location, Location, Location not as a reality show – but as fantasy.

We couldn’t solve this housing crisis without some difficult decisions.

The planning system was stuck in the mud – so we reformed it…

…and last year, nearly a quarter of a million houses were given planning permission.

Young people needed massive deposits they just couldn’t afford…

…so we brought in Help to Buy.

Of course there were those who criticised it…

…usually speaking from the comfort of the home they’d bought years ago.

But let’s see what actually happened.

They said Help to Buy would just help people in London…

…but 94 per cent of buyers live outside the capital.

They said it would help people with houses already…

…but four-fifths are first-time buyers.

They said it would cause a housing bubble…

…but as the Bank of England has said, it hasn’t.

So here’s our renewed commitment to first-time buyers: if you’re prepared to work and save, we will help you get a place of your own.

This conference we have announced a landmark new policy.

It’s called Starter Homes.

We’re going to build 100,000 new homes – and they’ll be twenty percent cheaper than normal.

But here’s the crucial part.

Buy-to-let landlords won’t be able to snap them up.

Wealthy foreigners won’t be able to buy them.

Just first-time buyers under the age of 40.

Homes built for you, homes made for you – the Conservative Party, once again, the party of home ownership in our country.

In a Britain that everyone is proud to call home, you wouldn’t be able to tell a child’s GCSEs by their postcode or what their parents do.

There must be a great education for every child.

A month ago I had this wonderful moment.

Florence is now 4 and just starting school, so for the first time, all three of my children are at the same primary school.

It was such a joy to take them to school together; Florence clinging on for dear life until she saw a new friend and rushed off to her classroom.

It’s hard to describe what a relief it is as a parent to find a decent school for your child.

It shouldn’t be a lottery.

What we have in our state primary in London I want for every child in the country.

And we’re getting there.

More children in good or outstanding schools.

More children studying science, languages and history.

A new curriculum – with five year olds learning fractions; eleven years olds coding computers.

And the biggest change is the culture.

Teachers who feel like leaders again.

Who say: this is our school, we’re proud of it, the children must behave in it, we will not tolerate failure in it.

We’ve come so far – and make no mistake – the biggest risk to all this is Labour.

You know what drives me the most mad about them?

The hypocrisy.

Tristram Hunt, their Shadow Education Secretary – like me – had one of the best educations money can buy.

But guess what? He won’t allow it for your children.

He went to an independent school that wasn’t set up by a local authority…

…but no, he doesn’t want charities and parents to set up schools for your children.

He had the benefit of world-class teachers who happened not to have a government certificate…

…but no, he wants to stop people like that from teaching your children.

I tell you – Tristram Hunt and I might both have been educated at some of the best schools in our country.

But here’s the difference:

You, Tristram – like the rest of the Labour Party – want to restrict those advantages…

…I want to spread them to every child in Britain.

We know Labour’s real problem on education.

Every move they make, they’ve got to take their cue from the unions.

That’s who they really represent. The unions.

Well, I’ve got a bit of news for you.

It’s not something we’ve ever said before.

We in this party are a trade union too.

I’ll tell you who we represent.

This party is the union for hardworking parents…

…the father who reads his children stories at night because he wants them to learn…

…the mother who works all the hours God sends to give her children the best start.

This party is the trade union for children from the poorest estates and the most chaotic homes.

This party is the union for the young woman who wants an Apprenticeship…

…for the teenagers who want to make something of their lives…

…this is who we represent, these are the people we’re fighting for…

…and that’s why on education we won’t let Labour drag us back to square one – we’re going to finish what we have begun.

A real education isn’t just about exams.

Our young people must know this is a country where if you put in, you will get out.

Now I’ve got in trouble for talking about Twitter before, but let me put it like this.

I want a country where young people aren’t endlessly thinking: ‘what can I say in 140 characters?’ but ‘what does my character say about me?’

That’s why I’m so proud of National Citizen Service.

Every summer, thousands of young people are coming together to volunteer and serve their community.

We started this.

People come up to me on the street and say all sorts of things…

…believe me – all sorts of things…

…but one thing I hear a lot is parents saying “thank you for what this has done for my child.”

I want this to become a rite of passage for all teenagers in our country.

So I can tell you this: the next Conservative Government will guarantee a place on National Citizen Service for every teenager in our country.

That rule: that if you put in, you should get out…

…more than anywhere it should apply to those who want dignity and security in retirement.

But for years it didn’t.

There were three great wrongs.

Wrong number one: the Pension Credit that was basically a means test – the more you saved, the less you got.

Wrong number two: compulsory annuities that meant you couldn’t spend your own money as you wished.

Wrong number three: when people passed away, the pension they had saved was taxed at 55 per cent before it went to their family.

Three wrongs – and we are putting them right.

The means test – it’s going.

In its place: a new single-tier pension of £142 a week…

…every penny you have saved during your working life, you will keep.

Those compulsory annuities – scrapped…

…giving you complete control over your private pension.

As for that 55 per cent tax on your pension?

You heard it this week: we’ve cut it to zero per cent.

Conservative values in action.

When it comes to our elderly, one thing matters above everything.

Knowing the NHS is there for you.

From Labour last week, we heard the same old rubbish about the Conservatives and the NHS.

Spreading complete and utter lies.

I just think: how dare you.

It was the Labour Party who gave us the scandal at Mid Staffs…

…elderly people begging for water and dying of neglect.

And for me, this is personal.

I am someone who has relied on the NHS – whose family knows more than most how important it is…

…who knows what it’s like to go to hospital night after night with a child in your arms…

…knowing that when you get there, you have people who will care for that child and love that child like their own.

How dare they suggest I would ever put that at risk for other people’s children?…

…how dare they frighten those who are relying on the NHS right now?

It might be the only thing that gets a cheer at their Party conference but it is frankly pathetic.

We in this party can be proud of what we’ve done.

We came in and protected the NHS budget.

Funding six and a half thousand more doctors – 3300 more nurses…

…a Cancer Drugs Fund to save lives…

…more people hearing those two magic words: “all clear”.

And think of the amazing things around the corner.

From the country that unravelled DNA, we are now mapping it for each individual…

…it’s called the genome, and I’ve got a model of one of the first ones on my desk in Downing Street.

Cracking this code could mean curing rare genetic diseases and saving lives.

Our NHS is leading the world on this incredible technology.

I understand very personally the difference it could make.

When you have a child who’s so ill and the doctors can’t work out what he’s got or why – you’d give anything to know.

The investment we’re making will mean that more parents have those answers – and hopefully the cures that go with them.

And let’s be clear: all this is only possible because we have managed our economy responsibly.

That is why I can tell you this: we will do it again.

The next Conservative Government will protect the NHS budget and continue to invest more.

Because we know this truth…

… something Labour will never understand – and we will never forget…

…you can only have a strong NHS if you have a strong economy.

A Britain that everyone is proud to call home.

A place where reward follows effort; where if you put in, you get out.

But it also means a country that is strong in the world – in control of its own destiny…

…and yes – that includes controlling immigration.

To me, this is about working on all fronts.

It’s about getting our own people fit to work.

Fixing welfare – so a life on the dole is not an option.

Fixing education – so we turn out young people with skills to do the jobs we are creating.

And yes – we need controlled borders and an immigration system that puts the British people first.

That’s why we’ve capped economic migration from outside the EU…

…shut down 700 bogus colleges – that were basically visa factories…

…kicked out people who don’t belong here, like Abu Qatada…

…and let’s hear it for the woman who made it happen: our crime-busting Home Secretary, Theresa May.

But we know the bigger issue today is migration from within the EU.

Immediate access to our welfare system. Paying benefits to families back home.

Employment agencies signing people up from overseas and not recruiting here.

Numbers that have increased faster than we in this country wanted…

…at a level that was too much for our communities, for our labour markets.

All of this has to change – and it will be at the very heart of my renegotiation strategy for Europe.

Britain, I know you want this sorted so I will go to Brussels, I will not take no for an answer and when it comes to free movement – I will get what Britain needs.

Anyone who thinks I can’t or won’t deliver this – judge me by my record.

I’m the first Prime Minister to veto a Treaty…

…the first Prime Minister to cut the European budget…

…and yes I pulled us out of those European bail-out schemes as well.

Around that table in Europe they know I say what I mean, and mean what I say.

So we’re going to go in as a country, get our powers back, fight for our national interest…

…and yes – we’ll put it to a referendum…

…in or out – it will be your choice…

…and let the message go out from this hall: it is only with a Conservative Government that you will get that choice.

Of course, it’s not just the European Union that needs sorting out – it’s the European Court of Human Rights.

When that charter was written, in the aftermath of the Second World War, it set out the basic rights we should respect.

But since then, interpretations of that charter have led to a whole lot of things that are frankly wrong.

Rulings to stop us deporting suspected terrorists.

The suggestion that you’ve got to apply the human rights convention even on the battle-fields of Helmand.

And now – they want to give prisoners the vote.

I’m sorry, I just don’t agree.

Our Parliament – the British Parliament – decided they shouldn’t have that right.

This is the country that wrote Magna Carta…

…the country that time and again has stood up for human rights…

…whether liberating Europe from fascism or leading the charge today against sexual violence in war.

Let me put this very clearly:

We do not require instruction on this from judges in Strasbourg.

So at long last, with a Conservative Government after the next election, this country will have a new British Bill of Rights…

…to be passed in our Parliament…

…rooted in our values…

…and as for Labour’s Human Rights Act?

We will scrap it, once and for all.

So that’s what we offer: a Britain that everyone is proud to call home.

And a very clear plan to get there.

Over the next five years we will deliver the following things:

3 million Apprenticeships.

Full employment.

The most competitive corporate taxes in the G20.

Eliminating the budget deficit through spending cuts, not tax rises.

Building 100,000 new Starter Homes.

Letting you pass on your pension tax-free.

Ring-fencing NHS spending so not a penny is cut.

Renegotiating in Europe.

Delivering that in-out referendum.

Scrapping the Human Rights Act.

No income tax until you earn £12,500.

No 40p tax rate until you earn £50,000.

If you want those things, vote for me.

If you don’t, vote for the other guy.

And let’s be clear.

This is a straight fight.

It doesn’t matter whether Parliament is hung, drawn or quartered, there is only one real choice.

The Conservatives or Labour.

Me in Downing Street, or Ed Miliband in Downing Street.

If you vote UKIP – that’s really a vote for Labour.

Here’s a thought…

…on 7th May you could go to bed with Nigel Farage, and wake up with Ed Miliband.

So this is the big question for that election.

On the things that matter in your life, who do you really trust?

When it comes to your job…

…do you trust Labour – who wrecked our economy – or the Conservatives, who have made this one of the fastest-growing economies in the West?

When it comes to Britain’s future, who do you trust?

Labour – the party of something-for-nothing, and human wrongs under the banner of human rights…

…or the Conservatives – who believe in something for something, and reward for hard work?

Who do you trust?

…the party of big debt; big spending, big borrowing…

…or the party – our Party – of the first pay cheque, the first chance, the first home…

…the one that is delivering more security, more opportunity, more hope …

…the one that is making this country great again…

…yes, our party, the Conservative Party.

We’re making Britain proud again.

Look what we are showing the world.

Not just a country that is paying down its debts…

…and going from the deepest recession since the war to the fastest-growing major advanced economy in the world…

…but at the same time: a country that has kept its promises to the poorest in the world…

…that is leading not following on climate change…

…and that’s just saved our union in one of the greatest shows of democracy the world has ever seen.

We’re making Britain proud again.

Our exports to China doubling…

…our car industry booming…

…our aerospace expanding…

…our manufacturing growing… we’re making Britain proud again.

Car engines – not imported from Germany, but built down the road in Wolverhampton.

New oil rigs – not made in China, but built on the Tyne.

Record levels of employment…

…record numbers of apprenticeships…

…Britain regaining its purpose, its pride and its confidence.

We’re at a moment where all the hard work is finally paying off…

…and the light is coming up after some long dark days.

Go back now and we’ll lose all we’ve done…

…falling back into the shadows when we could be striding into the sun.

That’s the question next May.

Do you want to go back to square one – or finish what we’ve begun?

I don’t claim to be a perfect leader.

But I am your public servant, standing here, wanting to make our country so much better – for your children and mine.

I love this country, and I will do my duty by it.

We’ve got the track record, the right team…

…to take this plan for our country and turn it into a plan for you.

I think of the millions of people going out to work, wiping the ice off the windscreen on a winter’s morning…

…raising their children as well they can, working as hard as they can…

…doing it for a better future, to make a good life for them and their families.

That is the British spirit – there in our ordinary days as well as our finest hours.

This is a great country and we can be greater still.

Because history is not written for us, but by us, in the decisions we make today…

…and that starts next May.

So Britain: what’s it going to be?

I say: let’s not go back to square one.

Let’s finish what we have begun.

Let’s build a Britain we are proud to call home…

…for you, for your family, for everyone.

 

David Cameron – 2015 Speech to Conservative Party Conference

davidcameron

Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, on 8 October 2015 to the Conservative Party Conference.

I am so proud to be standing here in front of you today – back in government…

…and not just any government – a majority Conservative Government.

To the people in this hall, I want to say thank you.

You are the greatest team a Prime Minister could ever have.

And to the British people:

When you put your cross in the Conservative box, you were putting your faith in us.

To finish the job we started. To back working people. To deliver security for you and your family.

And I’ll tell you now: we will not let you down.

But just for a moment, think back to May 7th.

I don’t know about you, but it only takes two words to make me smile. Exit poll.

And then what happened that night:

The Conservatives, winning across Wales; on the march in the Midlands.

Bolton West, Derby North, Berwick, Wells – Conservative once more…

…Gower for the first time ever.

The North, more Tory; the South, the East, almost a clean sweep…

…and Cornwall – that wonderful county – 100 per cent Conservative.

As dawn rose, a new light – a bluer light – fell across our isles.

And I will never forget that morning. Getting back to London. Seeing many of you. Then sitting down in the flat at No10 with Sam and the kids getting ready for school.

There we were, surrounded by half-packed boxes and bin bags. Well, you have to be ready for anything.

I was writing my speech and preparing to go and see Her Majesty. And I thought… I’ll just lie down and let it all sink in.

As I shut my eyes, Ed Balls had gone. And when I woke up and I switched on the radio, Nigel Farage had gone too.

There was a brief moment when I thought it was all a dream.

But there’s a serious point.

Why did all the pollsters and the pundits get it so wrong?

Because, fundamentally, they didn’t understand the people who make up our country.

The vast majority of people aren’t obsessives, arguing at the extremes of the debate.

Let me put it as simply as I can: Britain and Twitter are not the same thing.

The British people are decent, sensible, reasonable…

…and they just want a government that supports the vulnerable, backs those who do the right thing and helps them get on in life.

Good jobs; a decent home; better childcare; controlled immigration; lower taxes so there’s more money at the end of the month…

…an NHS that’s there for them, 7 days a week; great schools; dignity in retirement…

…that is what people want and that is what we will deliver.

The party of working people, the party for working people – today, tomorrow, always.

PARTY CHANGE

Ten years ago, I stood on a stage just like this one and said if we changed our party we could change our country.

We’ve done that – together.

I didn’t campaign on the NHS alone – you joined me.

It wasn’t just me who put social justice, equality for gay people, tackling climate change, and helping the world’s poorest at the centre of the Conservative Party’s mission – we all did.

And I didn’t select our candidates – it was you.

Look who was elected in May.

Nusrat Ghani, whose parents, just a generation ago, were living in a small village in Kashmir.

Seema Kennedy, who was five when she and her family were forced to flee revolutionary Iran.

Five years ago, Johnny Mercer was on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan. Caught in an ambush, he was left cradling a dear comrade as he lay fatally wounded.

Just days before the election, Scott Mann was doing his postal round in Cornwall – delivering not just his own campaign leaflets, but his rivals’ too.

Different journeys, often difficult journeys, all leading here.

So let us hear it for them now – the new generation of Conservative MPs.

Round the cabinet table, a third of my colleagues are women.

A few months ago, we were discussing childcare.

It was introduced by the Black British son of a single parent, Sam Gyimah.

He was backed up by the daughter of Gujarati immigrants who arrived in our country from East Africa with nothing except the clothes they stood up in, Priti Patel…

…and the first speaker was Sajid Javid, whose father came here from Pakistan to drive the buses.

This is what we’ve done together.

And now with couples married because of us…

…working people backed because of us…

…the NHS safe because of us…

…and children in the poorest parts of the world saved because of us…

…everyone in this hall can be incredibly proud of our journey – the journey of the modern, compassionate, One Nation Conservative Party.

GREATER BRITAIN

So as five years of government stretch out before us, what do I see on the skyline?

I love Britain. I love our history and what we’ve given to the world.

I love our get-up-and-go; that whenever we’re down, we’re never out.

I love our character; our decency; our sense of humour.

I love every part of our country. England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland – we are one nation and I will defend our Union with everything I have got.

Every day, in every way, Great Britain lives up to its name.

And I know this: we can make it greater still.

A Greater Britain. Where people have greater hope, greater chances, greater security.

I really believe we’re on the brink of something special in our country.

This year, we’ve seen more people in work than at any time in our history…

…more of our children starting university than ever before…

…more British entrepreneurs setting up shop than anywhere else in Europe.

Wages are rising. Hope is returning. We’re moving into the light.

But we’re not there yet.

We’re only half way through.

For me, that has a very literal meaning.

I can say something today that perhaps no Prime Minister has ever really been able to say before.

I’m starting the second half of my time in this job.

As you know, I am not going to fight another election as your leader. So I don’t have the luxury of unlimited time.

Let me tell you: I am in just as much of a hurry as five years ago.

Securing our country, growing our economy; jobs, exports, growth, infrastructure…

…these are the stepping stones on the path to greatness for our country – and we’ve been laying them every day since we came to office.

We will continue to do so.

But to make Britain greater, we need to tackle some deep social problems…

…problems we only just made a start on, as we focused on the economic emergency that faced us.

The scourge of poverty.

The brick wall of blocked opportunity.

The shadow of extremism – hanging over every single one of us.

A Greater Britain doesn’t just need a stronger economy – it needs a stronger society.

And delivering this social reform is entirely fitting with the great history of the Conservative Party…

…who have always been the optimists, the agents of hope and the leaders of change.

That’s why I joined it.

That’s why I wanted to lead it.

And now, in my final term as Prime Minister, I say: let’s live up to the greatest traditions of Conservative social reform.

CONSERVATIVE VALUES

In all the challenges we face, we will be guided by our Conservative values.

Our belief in strong defence and sound money.

Our belief in an enterprise economy…

…that if you set free the ambition that burns so deeply within the British people, they will strike out on their own, take on new workers, take on the world.

Our belief in equality of opportunity, as opposed to equality of outcome…

…not everyone ending up with the same exam results, the same salary, the same house – but everyone having the same shot at them.

Now some people may argue these things are obvious.

I have to tell you, they’re not.

It becomes clearer by the day that the Labour Party has completely abandoned any notion of these ideas.

So let us resolve here, at this conference, to do what we’ve always done: to prove our Conservative truths…

…to save Britain from the danger of Labour…

…and to rebuild Britain so it is greater still.

A Greater Britain – that is our goal.

NATIONAL SECURITY

It begins by making the case for strong defence.

My first duty as Prime Minister is to keep people safe.

Some of the loneliest moments in this job are when you are reading intelligence reports about plots being planned against the British people.

This summer I was told that Reyaad Khan and Junaid Hussain were in Syria planning terrorist attacks on UK soil.

Of course, I asked all the proper questions.

How do we stop them? Is there another way? Do we have that capability? Is it legal?

I knew that whatever action I took would provoke a big debate.

But my job as Prime Minister is quite simple, really: ultimately, it’s not to debate; it’s to decide.

And the choice I faced was this:

Act – and we could stop them carrying out their plans.

Stall – and we could see innocent people murdered on our streets.

So I took decisive action to keep Britain safe – and that’s what I will always do.

 

LABOUR LEADER

And on the subject of protecting our country from terrorism, let me just say this:

Thousands of words have been written about the new Labour leader.

But you only really need to know one thing: he thinks the death of Osama bin Laden was a “tragedy”.

No.

A tragedy is nearly 3,000 people murdered one morning in New York.

A tragedy is the mums and dads who never came home from work that day.

A tragedy is people jumping from the towers after the planes hit.

My friends – we cannot let that man inflict his security-threatening, terrorist-sympathising, Britain-hating ideology on the country we love.

MIGRATION

Another big judgement call to make is when a refugee crisis confronts our world.

Like most people, I found it impossible to get the image of that poor Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi out of my mind.

We know in our hearts our responsibilities to help those fleeing for their lives.

But we know, too, that we must keep our heads.

Let’s start with a simple fact.

Twelve million people have been made homeless by the conflict in Syria. And so far only 4 per cent of them have come to Europe.

If we opened the door to every refugee, our country would be overwhelmed.

The best thing Britain can do is help neighbouring countries, the Syrian people and the refugees in the camps …

…and when we do take refugees, to take them from the region, rather than acting in a way that encourages more to make that dangerous journey.

As we do this, let’s remember: we haven’t only just started caring about Syrians.

We’ve been helping them over the past four years, giving more in aid to that part of the world than any other country except America.

And we have been able to do that because this party made a promise and kept a promise – to spend 0.7 per cent of our national income on aid.

Other countries also made that promise. But they didn’t keep it.

I say to them: if Britain can keep her promises, so should you.

But the real answer to the refugee crisis lies in helping countries like Syria become places where people actually want to live.

That means having a government that’s not terrorising its people – and that’s why Assad must go.

In its place, we need a government that can be our ally in the defeat of ISIL…

…because we will never be safe here in Britain until we eradicate that death cult.

Some think we can contract that out to America. We shouldn’t. We must play our part too.

And we can, because of that commitment we made this summer: yes, we will spend two per cent of our GDP on defence – this year, next year, throughout this decade.

In the coming years, we’ll be launching the biggest aircraft carriers in our history…

…a new class of Hunter Killer submarines…

…new Joint Strike Fighter jets; improved Apache helicopters; a new fleet of drones…

…and because our independent nuclear deterrent is our ultimate insurance policy – this Government will order four new trident submarines.

In government, I have a team who keep us safe at home and abroad…

…Justine Greening, Michael Fallon, Philip Hammond and Theresa May.

But above all, we have Britain’s Armed Forces.

Let me tell you this:

In the last year alone they tackled Ebola in West Africa; protected the skies over the Baltic; flew missions over Iraq.

They built defences against ISIL in Lebanon; trained army officers in Afghanistan; and patrolled the seas around the Falklands.

There they were, in the Pacific, flying supplies to cyclone victims; in the Atlantic, shipping assistance to those hit by hurricanes; in the Med, pulling people out of sinking dinghies.

Little England? No. Never.

Great Britain. And I’ll tell you what, with Armed Forces like this, we can be even greater still.

So let’s stand and thank them for everything they do to keep us safe.

EUROPE

A Greater Britain is one that is strong in the world – and that should mean one that is strong in Europe, too.

It comes back to those Conservative values: our belief in the nation state, but also in free trade.

We all know what’s wrong with the EU – it’s got too big, too bossy, too interfering.

But we also know what’s right about it – it’s the biggest single market in the world.

Now, some people say: “take what we’ve got and put up with it”.

Others say: “just walk away from the whole thing”.

I say: no. This is Britain. We don’t duck fights. We get stuck in. We fix problems.

That’s how we kept our border checkpoints when others decided to take theirs down.

It’s how we kept the pound when others went head first into the Euro.

Because we do things our way.

We get rebates. We get out of bailouts.

But do you know what? It’s not just what we get out of, it’s what we get Europe into.

Who do you think got Europe to open trade talks with America, which would be the biggest trade deal in our history?

Who do you think got Europe to agree to sanctions on Iran, which brought that country to the negotiating table?

Us. Britain. We did.

Believe me, I have no romantic attachment to the European Union and its institutions.

I’m only interested in two things: Britain’s prosperity and Britain’s influence.

That’s why I’m going to fight hard in this renegotiation – so we can get a better deal and the best of both worlds.

Let me give you one example.

When we joined the European Union we were told that it was about going into a common market, rather than the goal that some had for “ever closer union”.

Let me put this very clearly: Britain is not interested in “ever closer union” – and I will put that right.

 

ECONOMIC SECURITY

A Greater Britain needs a dynamic economy.

Today, it’s a beacon in an uncertain world…

…we’ve got more foreign investment flooding into our country than anywhere else in Europe – anywhere in the world except for America and China.

But if anyone thinks the battle on the economy is won, they need to think again. The battle has only just begun.

We still need to find savings and produce more; still need to become more competitive; still need to make the most of our entire country – and build the Northern Powerhouse.

And all at a time when our opponents have given up any sensible, reasonable, rational arguments on the economy.

We live in a country where the main opposition party – let’s not forget, the alternative government – believes in nationalising industries without compensation, jacking up taxes to 60 per cent of people’s income, and printing money.

There’s an academic called Richard Murphy. He’s the Labour Party’s new economics guru, and the man behind their plan to print more money.

He gave an interview a few weeks ago. He was very frank. He admitted that Labour’s plan would cause a “sterling crisis”, but to be fair…

…he did add, and I quote, that it “would pass very quickly”.

Well, that’s alright then.

His book is actually called “The Joy of Tax”. I’ve read it. It’s got 64 positions – and they’re all wrong.

This is actually serious.

I tell you: our party’s success in growing our economy and winning the economic arguments has never been more vital.

Nothing less than the security of every single family in our country depends on it.

And as we do that, I know that we will have on our side not just the British people, not just British business…

…but our Iron Chancellor, George Osborne.

You know what makes me most angry about Labour?

It’s not just that their arguments are wrong; it’s the self-righteous way they make them.

The deficit-deniers, who go around saying we’re hurting the poor.

Hang on a second.

Who gets hurt when governments lose control of spending and interest rates go through the roof?

Who gets hurt when you waste money on debt interest and have to cut the NHS?

Who gets hurt when taxes go up and businesses start firing rather than hiring?

No – not the rich…

…it’s poor people, working people.

Yes, the very people Labour claim to be for.

Well let’s just remember: Labour ideas don’t help the poor, they hurt the poor.

That’s right, Labour: you’re not for working people, but hurting people.

If you want a lecture about poverty, ask Labour.

If you want something done about it, come to us, the Conservatives.

There’s another argument we need to win.

There are some people who understand the deficit needs to come down, but don’t get why we need a surplus.

I’ll tell you why.

I don’t stand here like a former Prime Minister once did and say I have abolished boom and bust.

We can’t just be thinking about today, we should be thinking about the rainy days that could come – just like a family does.

They put something aside, take out the insurance plan, pay off some of the mortgage when they have something spare.

That’s what we should do as a country – making sure we are ready to cope with future crises.

There’s a word for those who say live for today, forget about tomorrow: it’s selfish.

I’m not here to mortgage our children’s future. I’m here to insure it.

HOME OWNERSHIP

But for me, there’s one big piece of unfinished business in our economy: housing.

A Greater Britain must mean more families owning a home of their own.

It goes back to those Conservative beliefs: reward for hard work.

If you’ve worked hard and saved, I don’t want you just to have a roof over your head – I want you to have a roof of your own.

In the last 5 years, 600,000 new homes have been built.

More than 150 people a day are moving in thanks to our Help to Buy scheme.

And in our manifesto, we announced a breakthrough policy: extending the Right to Buy to housing association tenants.

Some people said this would be impossible. Housing associations would never stand for it. The legislation would never pass.

Let me tell you something.

Greg Clark, our brilliant Communities Secretary, has secured a deal with housing associations to give their tenants the Right to Buy their home.

That will mean the first tenants can start to buy their homes from next year.

Yes, as we said in our manifesto, 1.3 million to be given the chance to become homeowners. A promise made. A promise kept.

But the challenge is far, far bigger.

When a generation of hardworking men and women in their 20s and 30s are waking up each morning in their childhood bedrooms – that should be a wakeup call for us.

We need a national crusade to get homes built.

That means banks lending, government releasing land, and yes – planning being reformed.

And in all these things I’ll be working with a great London Mayoral candidate – and, I hope, soon to be our London Mayor – Zac Goldsmith.

But I want to single someone out. He’s served this country. He’s served this party. And there’s a huge amount more to come.

So let’s hear it for the man who for two terms has been Mayor of the greatest capital city on earth: Boris Johnson.

Increasing home ownership means something else.

For years, politicians have been talking about building what they call “affordable homes” – but the phrase was deceptive.

It basically meant homes that were only available to rent. What people want are homes they can actually own.

After all, the officials who prepare the plans for the new homes, the developers who build them, the politicians who talk about them…

…most of these people own the homes they live in.

Don’t they realise other people want what they’ve got – a home of their own?

So today, I can announce a dramatic shift in housing policy in our country.

Those old rules which said to developers: you can build on this site, but only if you build affordable homes for rent…

…we’re replacing them with new rules…

…you can build here, and those affordable homes can be available to buy.

Yes, from Generation Rent to Generation Buy…

…our party, the Conservative party…

…the party of home ownership in Britain today.

 

SOCIAL REFORM

A more prosperous Britain.

But we must not stop there as we build a Greater Britain.

We are not a one-trick party.

For us, economic success – that’s not the finished article.

It’s the foundation on which we can build a better society.

Our patriotism has never been simply some grand notion of ruling the waves, or riding high in the money markets…

…but a deep compulsion which says: “you make a country greater by making life better for its people.”

And today, that means entering those no-go zones, where politicians often don’t dare to venture.

It means taking on our big social problems…

…entrenched poverty, blocked opportunity, the extremism that blights our communities.

Why?

So when the new mum looks at her new-born baby – the most precious thing she’s ever seen – and she vows to provide for it, she knows she actually can.

When the schoolgirl sits in that classroom, she knows that her studies really can take her to the very top.

When the child of immigrants sees our flag, he feels so loyal to this country – his country – he wants to put on a uniform and defend it.

That is what fires me up. Not pounds and pence, plans and policies, but people.

And to those who say: our social problems are too big and there’s no way you can sort them out.

I say: You said our party wouldn’t change – we have.

You said our long-term economic plan wouldn’t work – it is.

You said we wouldn’t win the election – we did.

So we are going to tackle those big social problems – just you watch us.

POVERTY

Central to that is an all-out assault on poverty.

Conservatives understand that if we’re serious about solving the problem, we need to tackle the root causes of poverty.

Homes where no-one works; children growing up in chaos; addiction, mental health problems, abuse, family breakdown.

Today, a teenager sitting their GCSEs is more likely to own a smartphone than have a dad living with them.

Think of your own child, think of the day they were born; how fragile they were…

…and then think that, every day, three babies are born in Britain addicted to heroin.

We’ll never deal with poverty unless we get to grips with these issues.

We made a start in the last five years with our Troubled Families programme.

It’s already turned around the lives of over 100,000 families.

And do you know one of its central aims?

It’s simple: get the adults a job.

Because we know in this party that the best route out of poverty is work.

That’s why we reformed welfare, introduced the cap and helped create 2.5 million jobs.

But it’s not enough simply to have a job: work has got to pay.

Nearly two-thirds of children in poverty have parents who are in jobs. For them, work hasn’t worked.

That’s why we’ve cut taxes for the lowest paid and we’ll keep on doing that.

And from next year, we’ll take a giant leap forward.

Yes, a new National Living Wage.

Over £9 an hour by the end of the decade.

An £80-a-week pay rise for the lowest paid.

Work paying for millions of people.

So let the message go out: if you work hard, want to get on, want more money at the end of the month…

…the party for you is right here in this hall.

But being out of work is only one of the causes we must tackle.

Children in care are today almost guaranteed to live in poverty.

84 per cent leave school without five good GCSEs.

70 per cent of prostitutes were once in care.

And tragically, care leavers are four times more likely to commit suicide than anyone else.

These children are in our care; we, the state, are their parents – and what are we setting them up for…

…the dole, the streets, an early grave?

I tell you: this shames our country and we will put it right.

Just as we said to failing schools, “do a better job with our children or we will send new leaders in”, so we will say to poorly performing social services, “improve or be taken over”.

Just as we got the best graduates teaching at our most difficult schools, let’s get our brightest and best to the frontline of social work.

But we must also stop children needing to be in care at all.

When we came to office, the adoption rate in our country was frankly a scandal.

It has gone up. Our Adoption Bill will help it increase still further.

But there’s so much more to do.

So let us in this hall say to all those children desperate for a family, and all those families yearning for a child:

We, the Conservatives, we are the ones who will bring you together.

There’s another service run by the state that all too often fails and entrenches poverty.

Prison.

Now I believe if you’ve committed a crime, punishment must follow.

And when it’s serious enough, that punishment must mean prison.

Let’s not forget, since we came to office, crime is down by a quarter.

But the system is still not working.

Half of criminals offend within a year of being released.

Nearly half go into prison with no qualifications; many come out with none either.

And all the problems that may have led them to that life – drug addiction, mental health problems, childhood abuse – remain unchanged.

We have got to get away from the sterile lock-em-up or let-em-out debate, and get smart about this.

When prisoners are in jail, we have their full attention for months at a time – so let’s treat their problems, educate them, put them to work.

When we restrict someone’s freedom outside prison, we can make sure they’re working and paying taxes, rather than spending £30,000 a year keeping them in a cell – so where it makes sense, let’s use electronic tags to help keep us safe and help people go clean.

And when our prisons are relics from the time of Dickens – it’s time to sell them off and build new ones that actually work.

This is going to be a big area of social reform in the next five years. And I have just the man for the job.

The man who takes on every vested interest and gives everyone a chance…

…the man who began the great transformation of our education system and is now going to do the same for prisons…

…yes, the great Conservative reformer, Michael Gove.

OPPORTUNITY

If we tackle the causes of poverty, we can make our country greater.

But there’s another big social problem we need to fix.

In politicians’ speak: a “lack of social mobility”.

In normal language: people unable to rise from the bottom to the top, or even from the middle to the top, because of their background.

Listen to this: Britain has the lowest social mobility in the developed world.

Here, the salary you earn is more linked to what your father got paid than in any other major country.

I’m sorry, for us Conservatives, the party of aspiration, we cannot accept that.

We know that education is the springboard to opportunity.

Our reforms are already working.

More children studying maths and science. More learning coding and engineering. More doing the extra-curricular activities that teach confidence and build character.

Recently, I was at a school in Runcorn. Last year, 53 of their children went off to university. 52 of them were the first ever in their family to do so.

That is why I’m so passionate about academies and free schools:

Head teachers are growing in confidence as they throw off the shackles of local council control…

…raising the aspirations of children, parents, communities.

This movement is sweeping across our country.

So my next ambition is this.

500 new Free Schools.

Every school an academy…

…and yes – Local Authorities running schools a thing of the past.

But let’s be honest.

For too many people, even a good education isn’t enough.

There are other barriers that stand in their way.

Picture this.

You’ve graduated with a good degree.

You send out your CV far and wide.

But you get rejection after rejection.

What’s wrong? It’s not the qualifications or the previous experience.

It’s just two words at the top: first name, surname.

Do you know that in our country today: even if they have exactly the same qualifications, people with white-sounding names are nearly twice as likely to get call backs for jobs than people with ethnic-sounding names?

This is a true story.

One young black girl had to change her name to Elizabeth before she got any calls to interviews.

That, in 21st century Britain, is disgraceful.

We can talk all we want about opportunity, but it’s meaningless unless people are really judged equally.

Think about it like this.

Opportunity doesn’t mean much to a British Muslim if he walks down the street and is abused for his faith.

Opportunity doesn’t mean much to a black person constantly stopped and searched by the police because of the colour of their skin.

Opportunity doesn’t mean much to a gay person rejected for a job because of the person they love.

It doesn’t mean much to a disabled person prevented from doing what they’re good at because of who they are.

I’m a dad of two daughters – opportunity won’t mean anything to them if they grow up in a country where they get paid less because of their gender rather than how good they are at their work.

The point is this: you can’t have true opportunity without real equality.

And I want our party to get this right.

Yes us, the party of the fair chance; the party of the equal shot…

…the party that doesn’t care where you come from, but only where you’re going…

…us, the Conservatives, I want us to end discrimination and finish the fight for real equality in our country today.

EXTREMISM

Tackling the causes of poverty. Fighting for real opportunity.

And there’s one more big social reform in our mission to rebuild Britain as an even greater country.

We need to confront – and I mean really confront – extremism.

When I read what some young people born and brought up in this country are doing, it makes me feel sick to my stomach.

Girls not much older than my eldest daughter, swapping loving family homes and straight-A futures for a life of servitude under ISIL, in a land of violence and oppression.

Boys who could do anything they wanted in Britain – who have benefitted from all this country stands for – instead ending up in the desert wielding a knife.

This ideology, this diseased view of the world, has become an epidemic – infecting minds from the mosques of Mogadishu to the bedrooms of Birmingham.

And here’s what we need to do.

One: tear up the narrative that says Muslims are persecuted and the West deserves what it gets.

Never mind that it’s Britain and America behind the biggest effort to help the victims of Syria.

Who is ISIL murdering more than anyone else? Muslims.

No-one should get away with this politics of grievance anymore.

Two: take on extremism in all its forms, the violent and non-violent.

People don’t become terrorists from a standing start.

It begins with preachers telling them that Christians and Muslims can’t live together.

It moves to people in their community saying the security services were responsible for 7/7.

It progresses to a website telling them how to wage jihad, fight in Syria, and defeat the West.

And before you know it, a young British boy, barely 17, is strapping bombs to his body and blowing himself up in Iraq.

We have to stop it at the start – stop this seed of hatred even being planted in people’s minds, let alone allowing it to grow.

Three: we need to tackle segregation.

There are parts of Britain today where you can get by without ever speaking English or meeting anyone from another culture.

Zoom in and you’ll see some institutions that actually help incubate these divisions.

Did you know, in our country, there are some children who spend several hours each day at a Madrassa?

Let me be clear: there is nothing wrong with children learning about their faith, whether it’s at Madrassas, Sunday Schools or Jewish Yeshivas.

But in some Madrassas we’ve got children being taught that they shouldn’t mix with people of other religions; being beaten; swallowing conspiracy theories about Jewish people.

These children should be having their minds opened, their horizons broadened…

…not having their heads filled with poison and their hearts filled with hate.

So I can announce this today:

If an institution is teaching children intensively, then whatever its religion, we will, like any other school, make it register so it can be inspected.

And be in no doubt: if you are teaching intolerance, we will shut you down.

This goes to a wider truth.

For too long, we’ve been so frightened of causing offence that we haven’t looked hard enough at what is going on in our communities.

This is passive tolerance. And I’ll tell you where it leads:

To children, British children, going to Pakistan in the summer holidays, before they’ve even started their GCSEs, and forced to marry a man they’ve never met…

…children, British children, having their genitals mutilated, not just in a clinic in Lagos but the backstreets in Britain.

This passive tolerance has turned us into a less integrated country; it’s put our children in danger. It is unforgivable.

So let me say it right here: no more passive tolerance in Britain.

We’ve passed the laws – now I want them enforced.

People who organise forced marriages – I want them prosecuted.

Parents who take their children for FGM – I want them arrested.

And as we do that, we shouldn’t just be saying what’s wrong with these practices; we should be saying what’s right with Britain.

Freedom. Democracy. Equality. These are precious.

People fought for them – many died for them…

…in the trenches, a century ago; on the beaches, 30 years later…

…in the Suffragettes; in Gay Pride.

Half the world is crying out for these freedoms – they see what we’ve achieved with them.

Free speech – and the best literature in the world.

Freedom of religion – and many faiths living side by side, peacefully.

Free thinking – and the endless advances in medicine and technology that has brought.

A free economy – and a standard of living our grandparents could only have dreamed of.

I want my children – I want all our children – to know they’re part of something big – the proudest multi-racial democracy on earth.

That’s why we’re making sure they learn British history at school.

That’s why we started National Citizen Service to bring different people together.

I want them to grow up proud of our country.

That’s right: less Britain-bashing, more national pride – our way, the Conservative way, the only way to greater days.

 

CONSERVATIVES

So big battles. Big arguments.  A Greater Britain.

Keeping our head as Labour lose theirs.

So I have a message for those who voted for us and those who never have:

If you believe in strong defence, and helping the poorest, most desperate people in the world.

If you want an NHS that’s there for everybody, and schools that stretch our children…

…and you understand none of that is possible without a strong economy.

If you believe we can become the enterprise capital of the world and beat poverty.

If you believe that the fight against extremism is the fight for our existence; and you want this to be the generation that ends discrimination.

If you want these things, the party you need is the party right here.

And it’s never too late.

Bernard Harris from Leicester wrote to me before polling day and said this.

“Aged 82, this is possibly my last election.

“In my life I have foolishly voted Labour, believing it served the working class.

“How wrong I was. Labour is against all I aspire to.

“I am 100 per cent for a United Kingdom, a sound economy, free enterprise, a trading Europe and a decent standard of living.

“Only a Conservative Government will achieve this.”

Bernard, you found the right party – and I want many more to follow in your footsteps.

CONCLUSION

So I believe that we can make this era – these 2010s – a defining decade for our country…

…the turnaround decade…

…one which people will look back on and say: “that’s the time when the tide turned…

…when people no longer felt the current going against them, but working with them.”

We can be that Greater Britain.

Because we know this: nothing is written.

We’ve proved it in schools across our country…

…that the poorest children don’t have to get the worst results – they can get the best.

Over the next five years we will show that the deep problems in our society – they are not inevitable.

That a childhood in care doesn’t have to mean a life of struggle.

That a stint in prison doesn’t mean you’ll get out and do the same thing all over again.

That being black, or Asian, or female, or gay doesn’t mean you’ll be treated differently.

Nothing is written.

And if we’re to be the global success story of the 21st century, we need to write millions of individual success stories.

A Greater Britain – made of greater expectations…

…where renters become homeowners…

…employees become employers…

…a small island becomes an even bigger economy…

…and where extremism is defeated once and for all.

A Greater Britain…

…no more, its people dragged down or held back…

…no more, some children with their noses pressed to the window as they watch the world moving ahead without them.

No – a country raising its sights, its people reaching new heights…

…a Great British take-off – that leaves no-one behind.

That’s our dream – to help you realise your dreams.

A Greater Britain – made of greater hope, greater chances, greater security.

So let’s get out there – all of us – and let’s make it happen.