Tim Yeo – 2004 Speech on Patient Choice


Below is the text of the speech by Tim Yeo made on 10th May 2004.

I am delighted to have this chance to attend your Congress. Not just to speaking this session but also to meet many of you as I have been doing since I arrived in Harrogate. I have already had valuable discussions with Beverly Malone and I look forward to continuing those in coming weeks and months.

Later this week we will recognise Nurses day. Today I would like to pay tribute to the tremendous work you carry out in the NHS, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and to express my appreciation of the huge contribution which nurses and all health professionals working in the NHS make to our society.

I am well aware that over the past few years your job has got harder. Despite the increase in staff numbers which ministers so much like to trumpet, there are still too few nurses working in our hospitals.

Equally important there are too few nurses working in our communities.

As nurses you are caring for patients who have more complex illnesses than ever before.

Alongside this you are expected to treat patients faster. There are fewer beds in the NHS today than there were a decade ago. Demand for these is high and great pressure is put on managers to move patients on so others can take their place.

And as things stand, that pressure is going to increase.

As a nation we are living longer. The number of pensioners has already overtaken the number of children in this country for the first time. It will be a major challenge to provide the next generation of elderly people with the services they require. All the more so as a result of 70,000 care home places lost since 1996.

I am here today to give you a better understanding of what you can expect from the Conservatives.

It’s just over six months since Michael Howard phoned me and asked me to take on my present role in the Shadow Cabinet. I was thrilled to be offered the chance to return to the health field, in which I have had a long standing interest.

My last full time job before entering politics was as Chief Executive of The Spastics Society, now called Scope. The Society’s activities included the provision of long term care for adults with disabilities, short term respite care for both adults and children, and the sponsorship of medical research.

I went on to start the successful campaign to keep open the Tadworth Court Children’s Hospital – the country branch of Great Ormond Street Hospital for sick children – and became the first Chairman of the Trust set up to manage the hospital.

After entering Parliament I became a member of the Health Select Committee and later one of my ministerial posts was at the Department of Health where I was responsible under Virginia Bottomley for social services, mental health and children.

Inevitably that experience has shaped my perspective on the challenges we face now to sustain a world class National Health service.

Let me make clear at the outset that the Conservative Party is totally and utterly committed to the founding principles of the National Health Service.

We will maintain a service that provides care which is free to patients at the point of use. Which is available to everyone on the basis of need , not of ability to pay.

That is Michael Howard’s view.

That is my view.

That will be the basis of our policy when we form a Government

Our aim is to improve and strengthen the NHS, not to destroy it as some of our opponents try to claim.

When we highlight some of the major problems, we are not talking the NHS down

We know full well that much of what goes on in the health service is excellent. Every day thousands of people are satisfied with the care and treatment they receive. Genuine progress is being made in many areas, not least in cancer, most of it the result of tremendous hard work and dedication on the part of those who work at every level in the Health Service.

But in our view these improvements are happening despite the system and not because of it.

And the plain truth is that things are not as good as they should be

If they were, why do over a quarter of a million NHS staff – 22% of the total- leave each year and have to be replaced at a annual cost of £1.5bn – before you take into account the cost of lost experience?

While I welcome recent announcements on reductions in waiting lists, I still ask myself – Why is it that we should have to put up with health rationing in this country when for example in France the concept of a waiting list does not exist?

And I share the public’s cynicism about statistics emerging from this Government . Average waiting times have not improved . We are all aware that data can be manipulated by delaying scans or access to consultants. More people are resorting to paying rather than waiting like the former fireman in Wiltshire who used his redundancy money for his wife to be treated privately when she was told she would have to wait 18 months for an hysterectomy.

Whether you believe the spin or not, there is growing consensus that one consequence of Government focus on waiting lists is that the needs of the 17 million people with long term medical conditions have been neglected. Similar concerns exist over mental health.

And the shocking report produced recently by the European Respiratory Society confirmed that Britain has one of the worst records on respiratory disease, with death rates twice the EU average.

Not only is Britain lagging behind other countries. In some areas of public health, things have clearly got worse since 1997.

Obesity rates in both adults and children are increasing. Rates of sexually transmitted infections are getting worse. Notifications of tuberculosis are up by over twenty per cent in the United Kingdom since 1999.

And I know that it’s as worrying for nurses as it is for patients that on average, 13 people a day die from MRSA, caught in hospital.

Figures published by the Health Protection Agency this Spring show that the number of people dying from the MRSA ‘hospital superbug’, has increased by 106 per cent since 1997 in England and Wales.

Most people in the country will agree with The Chief Medical Officer who described the figures as ‘shocking and unacceptable’ .John Reid’s answer is to introduce some more bureaucrats and give nurses badges saying ‘ Ask me if I have washed my hands’.

It’s time to get serious about the basics. I believe nurses in charge of wards should be given the authority to ensure that wards are clean, with the power to stop payments to cleaning companies if the job has not been done properly.

I’ve drawn attention to these shortcomings not because I believe that all the news about the NHS is bad, but because to hear some of the claims made by Ministers, you’d think everything was perfect.

Far from it. My diagnosis points to three failings.

Yes, welcome new investment is going in but too much money is being wasted on layers of administration that don’t add value to patients.

Secondly there has been too much interference from politicians in the running of the NHS. Too many initiatives driven by the needs of spin-doctors not patients. Too little trust in the competence and judgement of qualified professionals in the front line

And thirdly as a result of that political inteference, a culture has grown up which too often seems to treat patients as statistics and the people we rely on to deliver care as just cogs in a vast bureaucatic machine.

These are not failings of the professionals who work in the NHS but of the politicians who have got their priorities wrong.

Let me illustrate some of these concerns

I am concerned about waste because the more money that’s wasted, the less there is to recruit and retain permanent nurses and doctors. The less there is to support Agenda for Change.

That’s why I’m horrified by the increased cost of the NHS Administration and Estates Staff in England from approximately £3 billion to £5 billion since 1997. A jump of almost two billion pounds in five years – all spent on bureaucracy.

Over the last year the number of managers has increased at almost double the rate of nurses.

And Department of Health administration costs have increased by £40 million since 1998.

Then there’s the Modernisation Agency, introduced as a result of the NHS Plan, with a staff which grew to 760 in three years and consumed an annual budget of £230 million. It will soon cease to exist in its current form.

What have these millions of pounds spent on bureaucracy delivered in terms of improved patient care?

Last month a leaked ministerial document in the Sunday Times revealed that since 1997, Health productivity as measured by consultant episodes has actually fallen by 15%. Productivity may not be a useful measure for nursing, but the report, and the way the Government sought to conceal this information, suggests that something may be amiss.

How did ministers respond? By asking that the basis of calculation be changed to make them look better.

Which brings me on to my second concern , the level of political interference in the NHS .

We did a consultation exercise last year. From the hundreds of letters we received from health professionals , one consistent message came through loud and clear.

Leave us alone to do our job!

I agree.

It is time for politicians to stop trying to micromanage the NHS.

With over 400 targets in Labour’s NHS plan ,we are in danger of forgetting what the Health Service is for.

We know how this target culture takes up your time and the time of other professionals.

We know how it distorts clinical priorities and demotivates staff.

Last year, a House of Commons Committee heard evidence from Dr Richard Harrad of the Bristol Eye Hospital who explained that waiting time targets for new outpatient appointments at the Bristol Eye Hospital had been achieved at the expense of cancellation and delay of follow-up appointments. The result was that 25 patients went blind.

And the chilling words from Ian Bogle, outgoing Chairman of the BMA Council who said,

‘The one memory that will linger long …. is the creeping, morale-sapping erosion of doctors’ clinical autonomy brought about by micro-management from Whitehall which has turned the NHS I hold so dear into the most centralised public service in the free world.

He continued:‘We now have a healthcare system driven not by the needs of individual patients but by spreadsheets and tick boxes.

What a damning indictment of the environment you are being asked to work in !

Nothing is more important to the quality of patient experience than the role of nurses.

But as a result of added bureaucracy and continued staff shortages, nurses still experience difficulty in finding sufficient time to attend to the needs of patients.

Yes there are more nurses, but not as many as the Government would have us believe.

Within some categories there are in fact fewer numbers of staff now than in 1997. For example the number of health visitors has decreased since Labour came to power, as has the number of district nurses working for the NHS.

And the statistics, if not my eyes, tell me that nurses are getting older.

According to an RCN study , 100,000 nurses are due to retire in the next 5 years .Combine that trend with the current 15% fall out of trained and student nurses each year , and it is clear that the Government is running hard to stand still on nurses numbers.

It is typical of them to go for the quick fix. You know better than I how increasingly reliant we are on agency staff and on nurses from overseas, often from countries that cannot afford to lose them. These are unstable props on which to build for the future.

Meanwhile this country continues to export qualified health professionals. Last year, for example, the number of nurses leaving the UK to work in the USA doubled.

We need to show much greater urgency in addressing the reasons why nurses are leaving and why the Government has failed to persuade them to return to the NHS.

Yes, I recognise there are real issues around pay and access to affordable housing.

As with all professions, nurses need to feel that they have a career ladder to climb should they wish to do so. And this should not mean having to move away from patient care and into management. In this context I see Agenda for Change as a step in the right direction.

We need to look creatively at ways to incentivise experienced nurses to defer their retirement plans whether it be through more flexible hours or financial rewards, linked to length of service.

And we need to pay particular attention to how we encourage future generations into nursing. I particularly want to understand why so many students drop out of training. Is it because courses focus too much on the academic aspects of nursing rather than the practical elements? Or because nurses struggle to find convenient clinical placements to complete their training ? And when they do find such placements, are they being adequately supported and supervised? Or are the hours so inflexible that they can not accept them?

And last but by no means least , we must address the workplace issues that frustrate what I am sure remains the core instinct of every nurse – the desire to give the best possible care to people who can’t help themselves.

Too much form filling; too much inteference; confused layers of authority; insufficient resources to do the job.

These are some of the responses I have received, but it’s not for me to tell you – its for you to tell me.

So what difference would the Conservatives make? What can you expect from us?

First, we recognise that the National Health Service has been subjected to continuous reform over the last few years and the last thing it needs is further root and branch upheaval.

That is why our policies for the health service propose a change in approach rather than disruptive structural reform.

Politicians talk too much about structures and about money. These issues are important but we must not lose sight of what matters to patients. Everyone would rather be healthy than be ill so Government’s first aim should always be to improve our prevention strategies, something that Ministers lose sight of if they become bogged down in trying to micro manage the NHS.

And when people do become ill they want fast access to consistent , high quality care which treats them with dignity as individuals. This is what the people who pay for the NHS deserve .

Our plans for helping the NHS deliver that on a more consistent basis reflect tough lessons learnt in the past – both in Government and opposition .

They are built around three interdependent pillars.

Firstly, we are committed to invest the money that will give you the tools to do the job.

Secondly, we see our mission as taking the politics out of an NHS that has been a political football for too long.

We are determined to free qualified professionals from the bureaucracy that too often gets between you and the patient who needs your help.

Thirdly, we want to give those patients much greater say over where they are treated. With that power of choice we believe comes the power to get quicker treatment and to force improvement in the service they receive.

Let me give you a clearer idea of what that means.

Underlying our commitment to the NHS is the promise made by my colleague Oliver Letwin, Shadow Chancellor last February.

In the first two years of the next Parliament a newly elected Conservative Government will match Labour’s spending on the NHS.

This means that regardless of who wins the election, spending on the NHS will increase by broadly the same amount.

So the debate is not about ‘ How much money? ‘ but ‘ How will you spend it?’

And we are determined to spend it better , with much fewer layers of administration to divert money from the front line.

Our mission to give hospitals much greater freedom means that many more decisions about investment will be taken locally by people who are closer to patient needs. Labour talk about this but will not deliver. The instinct of Gordon Brown’s Treasury is to control everything from the centre and drive improvement through national targets. I believe very strongly that this is wrong. The system was too centralised when I was a Minister twelve years ago. It’s far more centralised today.

That has to change. It’s not the job of the Secretary of State to be Chief Executive of the NHS. It’s time instead that he and other politicians admitted the damage that results from incessant interference

So we will scrap targets and star ratings. Standards will continue to be monitored by CHAI within a framework set by Government but Hospitals will become accountable to patients not bureaucrats.

And the money will follow the patients. So that success will be rewarded and failure will not be tolerated for so long.

And because we are determined to give patients more choice, we need to invest in making more capacity available to them . Critically that means a quantum leap in the number of qualified permanent doctors and nurses. We do not underestimate the challenge but know that we can go much further than Labour in stripping away the red tape and bureaucratic interference that is so damaging to job satisfaction. Indeed I know from my seven years as Chairman of the Tadworth Children’s hospital that when nurses and other professionals are set free from artificial external controls,job satisfaction and staff morale increase dramatically. The whole of my experience – in business and politics- convinces me that the more you trust professionals to do their job the better they will do it.

That will be our way.

Both Conservatives and Labour talk about extending choice. The difference lies in scope and commitment.

Our programme of choice goes with the grain of Government initiatives to establish a national tariff and electronic patient records. But we intend to go further than them in extending choice. We have called our instrument of choice – the Patient’s Passport.

Any patient requiring elective treatment will be able to use the passport. We intend the passport to be just as relevant to those with chronic conditions as it is for those who require hospital treatment. Of course the choice of pathways for someone with a chronic condition will be more complicated to map, and in some cases the framework of standards is not yet clear. So this is why we have already started our discussions with the relevant organisations on how best to translate our policy into action for those with chronic conditions.

The passport will enable the patient, usually in consultation with a doctor or another professional, to decide where they go for treatment. That may still be their nearest hospital, but it could be another hospital where the waiting time is shorter, or which is more convenient for their family, or where clinical expertise is greater.

Choice will be informed with information on waiting times, treatments and outcomes available to them and their advisers.

But the choice will be theirs.

Our proposals represent a comprehensive of programme of patient choice. This means that, for the first time NHS patients can choose to be treated in an alternative setting to the NHS.

Should they decide to do so, our proposals will allow them to take a proportion of the NHS cost to assist them with the payment of their treatment elsewhere.

Not only does this give patients more control over where they are treated, but it will also help those who elect to stay within the NHS by giving them faster access to NHS treatment. It is not about taking resources from the NHS. It is about taking pressure off the NHS.

Labour can hardly criticise this aspect of our policy. After all they are now buying services from the private sector at an ever increasing rate

Our choice agenda will cut waiting times because patients will have the right to go where the waiting list is shortest.

Because the money goes with them , their right to choose will make providers of care more responsive to their needs.

It will stimulate new provision both inside the NHS and outside. As long as we maintain a service that provides care to an acceptable standard , which is free to patients at the point of use, then we have no political obsession with who owns that capacity.

But we are committed to help the NHS respond to this new environment.

Through a massive programme of investment to make sure the resources are there .

Through immediate withdrawal of politicians from day to day management of the NHS , giving qualified professionals the freedom to address patient needs.

It boils down to where trust is best placed.

After 7 years, it is clear that Labour places its trust in Whitehall.

Our vision, born of experience, is different.

Trust is best placed with patients and the people they trust. You.

Our vision is to give Britain a truly National Health system in which every patient has access to any doctor and any hospital , and where doctors and nurses choose to stay because they are respected and given the freedom to deliver a standard of care that they are proud of.

Tim Yeo – 2000 Conservative Party Conference Speech


Below is the text of the speech made by Tim Yeo at the Conservative Party Conference on 4th October 2000.

This debate has shown which party is the true champion of the countryside.

It’s shown that Labour’s claim that it represents rural Britain is utterly bogus.

Last week John Prescott, the true voice of Labour, said supporters of the countryside had contorted faces.

I suppose life looks different through the windows of two Jags.

But John Prescott’ll soon find out that insults like that simply mean that rural Britain will make sure that after the next election he’ll be driving his own car and buying his own petrol.

Maybe by then he’ll be backing Michael Portillo’s tax cuts.

Let me introduce my team.

Our spokesmen in both Houses. Jim Paice, Malcolm Moss and Hazel Byford.

And our whips Geoffrey Clifton-Brown and Arthur Luke.

Last year Tony Blair set out his vision of the countryside.

A giant theme park, a rural version of Labour’s Millennium Dome.

Where the past is forgotten, traditions mean nothing, and the future is bleak.

By contrast we believe in a living and working countryside.

A countryside for all the people.

For us the survival of farming is part of Believing in Britain.

Without farming the rural economy will decline.

Without farming our green and pleasant land will fall into decay.

We will never let that happen.

When I finish I want you all to come with me to our Country Fair, just outside the Conference Hall.

To demonstrate our support for the countryside.

Our belief in a sustainable agricultural industry.

Because sustainability is the key to the future.

As the world’s population grows, as living standards rise, how do we leave our children and grandchildren a better planet than the one we inherited?

How do we stop using resources selfishly for ourselves alone?

These are the questions we must answer.

The questions Labour is ignoring.

But before we can achieve our long-term vision short term problems must be tackled.

And as speakers have pointed out this morning these problems have not just been neglected by Labour.

They have been made worse by Labour.

When nice Nick Brown took over from Junket Jack Cunningham there was a sigh of relief.

Nice Mr Brown went round appearing to listen to farmers.

The trouble is that’s all he did.

At last week’s Labour conference he talked about shipbuilding.

About coal mining.

About the steel industry.

But he didn’t once mention dairy farmers, or pig farmers.

That’s why he isn’t fit to be Minster of Agriculture.

He’s not nice Nick any longer.

He’s Nasty Nick.

And if the Cabinet were in Big Brother.

Nasty Nick would be thrown out first.

Unless of course Chatshow Charlie Kennedy was one of the other contestants.

For him, and for the rest of Chatshow Charlie’s barmy army, the ones who were here in Bournemouth two weeks ago, politics is just another chatshow where the audience is bored with getting the same answer to every question.

Whatever the question, Charlie’s answer is a tax increase.

More tax on income.

More tax on petrol.

You name it, they’ll tax it.

But let’s give credit where it’s due.

The Lib Dems say they want to help the countryside.

And they’ve certainly thought up some new ideas.

Like getting rid of the Queen.

Like promoting gay marriages.

Like setting up an asteroid task force.

They’re really in touch.

So closely in touch their agriculture spokesman says, “overall it would be churlish to say [Nick Brown] hasn’t been pretty successful.”

The truth is Nick Brown has been disastrous.

Disastrous for dairy farmers whose income under Labour has fallen by 70 per cent.

Disastrous for cereal farmers whose income under Labour has fallen by 75 per cent.

Disastrous for pig farmers whose income under Labour has disappeared altogether.

Last year sixty people left farming every day.

Gordon Brown boasts of ending boom and bust.

But in the countryside he’s started bust and bust.

And all Nasty Nick offers is a sticking plaster for an industry that’s bleeding to death.

To make matters worse they’re strangling farmers and small businesses with red tape.

Burying them under a mountain of paperwork.

Forcing small abattoirs to close.

Applying regulations more toughly here than elsewhere.

Regulations like a Nitrates Directive which hardly any other country enforces.

An Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive, which was never intended to apply to farming at all.

I give you this promise.

When William Hague is Prime Minister and I am Minister of Agriculture we won’t enforce European rules any faster than France, than Spain, not even than Italy.

And we’ll do our damnedest to stop any more needless regulation from being introduced in the first place.

But it isn’t only Nick Brown’s actions which damage farmers, consumers and the countryside.

It’s his inaction too.

Take beef exports.

Last year Labour claimed they’d ended the export ban.

Even though they hadn’t ended their own ban on beef on the bone.

France didn’t agree.

They illegally blocked the export of safe British beef.

In response Nick Brown did nothing.

As the crisis got worse he stopped speaking to his French counterpart.

At the Anglo French summit British beef wasn’t on the agenda or the menu.

Instead of confronting France Nick Brown sat cringing in Whitehall.

And today, fourteen months after Tony Blair boasted that the beef export ban was over, exports are less than one per cent of what they were.

Is that what Tony means when he says, “by playing by the rules it is possible to win in Europe”?

Sadly it isn’t only beef farmers Labour has betrayed.

Pig farmers have also been condemned – often to bankruptcy.

Pig farmers who rear their pigs more humanely than many farmers abroad; who pay for extra health measures because of BSE, a problem they did not cause.

Labour doesn’t care how much bacon or ham or pork is imported from countries with lower health and animal welfare standards.

Other farmers have suffered, too.

Dairy farmers like Graham Bigwood, the Somerset tenant farmer, who is with us today.

Two weeks ago I had a letter from Graham. He said:

“We have now reached the sad stage of talking to the Crown Commissioners about our future. We are a year behind on our rent and our debts are steadily rising.

“Yesterday I spoke to the Tenant Farmer’s Association who advised me to try and negotiate a package with the Crown to leave Binham Farm. For the last twenty five years I have worked for eighty plus hours a week in dairy and face financial ruin as a result of this crisis.”

In March Graham invited me to his farm where I helped milk his cows at five in the morning.

He invited Nick Brown, too.

But Nick didn’t go.

He didn’t want to talk about Tony Blair’s cave in last year on milk quotas or about how he smashed up Milk Marque.

And Labour’s damaged other farmers too.

Sheep farmers have been betrayed because Labour feeds the army South American mutton rather than good British lamb.

Arable farmers, like those in Tony Blair’s own constituency, who I’m visiting next month, have been betrayed by Labour’s refusal to claim agri-monetary compensation.

Hill farmers have been betrayed by Labour’s skewing of the rules to hurt the most vulnerable.

Horticulture farmers are burdened with Labour’s bogus Energy Tax, which we will repeal.

Fruit growers like one I visited in Kent who had to leave fields of fruit to rot because Labour won’t let him employ the people he needs to pick his crops.

You’d think Tony Blair wants to put Britain’s farmers out of business.

And if that’s the case Nasty Nick’s the right man for the job.

It’s a scandal that Britain’s rural communities are being destroyed.

And it’s a scandal that Labour is letting down consumers too.

In March when Parliament debated a Conservative Bill requiring labels to say where food comes from and how it’s produced, a Labour Minister deliberately talked it out.

Tony Blair is too scared of what Brussels might say if Britain stood up for honesty in food labelling even to let Parliament debate the subject.

So consumers continue to buy food labelled British even if the ingredients were grown abroad.

This is a fraud on consumers.

A fraud which Labour refuse to stop.

A fraud we will end.

A fraud made worse because Nick Brown’s too weak to stop sub-standard food entering Britain.

Like the poultry produced in the Far East using growth-promoting drugs banned in Europe on health grounds.

Last year the European Commission found some French livestock was fed on human sewage.

But when I demanded that British consumers should be protected Nick Brown did nothing.

Is there a single person in this hall who believes that if it had been British farmers feeding their animals human sewage, Labour would not have cracked down?

But when it’s a French farmer Nick Brown’s the farmer’s friend.

The Minister who lets British consumers eat sub-standard food – as long as it’s produced abroad.

The Minister who lets British farmers be destroyed by unfair competition.

But it isn’t only farmers and consumers that Labour is betraying.

It’s the environment, too.

Labour’s shambolic handling of GM crop trials threatens the integrity of organic and conventional farmers alike.

And they’re rushing ahead with commercial planting regardless of the effect on wildlife.

In July I launched our policy document “A Fair Deal for Farmers”.

At its heart is our belief that the job of farmers is producing high quality food for British consumers.

As well as looking after our rural environment.

“A Fair Deal for Farmers” is full of positive ideas.

Common sense ideas.

Deliverable ideas.

A retirement scheme for tenant farmers, like those Philip Cochrane and I met two weeks ago in Stafford, the seat Philip will represent in the next Parliament.

A common standard for organic food so consumers know that items labelled organic mean what they say wherever they come from.

Planning guidance to make it easier to reuse old farm buildings for new small businesses.

These policies will be introduced in the first months of the next Conservative government.

Along with lower fuel taxes so country people can afford to use their cars.

Honesty in labelling so mums and dads know what they’re giving the kids.

Less red tape so farmers can get on with what they’re good at instead of filling in forms in triplicate.

An end to substandard imports so we can trust all the food we eat.

So competition is free and fair instead of being loaded against British producers.

“A Fair Deal for Farmers” also sets out our commitment to sweeping reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, which has failed consumers, failed taxpayers, failed farmers, and failed the environment.

Farm policy must move more towards the market.

But it must also reflect the unique nature of the industry and its impact on the environment.

If agriculture declines the fabric of our countryside is damaged, wildlife suffers, and the rural economy gets weaker.

So I’ve got a message for Tony Blair.

Instead of banning hunting he should be tackling the real issues.

Instead of raising fuel taxes he should be helping rural business.

Instead of building all over the green fields he should be protecting the environment.

Instead of shutting down the post offices he should be breathing life into villages.

Instead of stripping the countryside of policemen he should be tackling rural crime.

Instead of introducing the right to roam he should be defending private property.

But Labour have had their chance.

And they’ve squandered it.

And the last few weeks have shown voters know that too.

The seeds of Tony Blair’s downfall have been sown in rural communities up and down the land.

A winter crop which will yield a rich harvest.

A harvest of new Conservative MPs.

Who understand farming.

Who care for the countryside.

When the election comes rural Britain will deliver a damning verdict on Labour and its Liberal Democrat lackeys.

Because they’re fed up with all the broken promises.

Fed up with the arrogance and the lies and the spin.

Fed up with a Government that says it’s listening but goes on lecturing.

Fed up with Ministers who preach to us about the environment as they cruise in their chauffeur driven gas-guzzling limos.

Fed up with the highest fuel taxes in Europe, with queues at the pumps and buses that are cancelled.

Fed up with a Government that let’s terrorist murderers out of jail but wants to imprison people who go hunting.

Fed up with the billions wasted on spin-doctors salaries and Dome bail outs while pennies are denied to disabled people and pensioners.

Fed up with a Government that is soft on crime cuts the police force.

Fed up with a Government that says taxes are going down when we all know they are going up.

So whether it takes eighteen days, or eighteen weeks, or eighteen months.

With your help this Conservative Opposition is going to drive Tony and his cronies out of Downing Street and save Britain’s countryside before it’s too late.

Tim Yeo – 1983 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons


Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Tim Yeo in the House of Commons on 5th July 1983.

I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for calling me to make my maiden speech on a subject which affects far more people than the obscure title of the order suggests and which has become controversial.

I declare an interest as the director of the Spastics Society which is one of the charities that derives substantial revenue from a football pool that is operated under the Pool Competition Act 1971. I hope to remain employed by the society until the end of this year and thereafter to serve it in a voluntary role.

Although my constituency is new, it comprises some of the oldest and most beautiful villages in East Anglia. About two thirds of my constituency formed part of the old Sudbury and Woodbridge constituency. I pay warm tribute to Mr. Keith Stainton, the former Member of Parliament for that constituency. He had a distinguished war record and served the constituency most conscientiously for almost 20 years. I can testify to the loyalty and respect that he commanded in the constituency.

Suffolk, South is an area of sharp contrasts. The other one third, which was part of the old Bury St. Edmunds constituency, contains Haverhill, a town with a substantial GLC overspill population, and many rural villages. It is a reflection on the excellent work of my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths), who supported me generously before and during the general election campaign with time and advice, that he is spoken of as highly on the GLC estates in Haverhill—where there is now a rapidly growing element of owner-occupation — as in the villages by people who are Suffolk born and bred.

The Pool Competitions Act is an important measure for several of the leading charities. The Spastics Society, the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, the National Fund for Research into Crippling Diseases, better known as Action Research for the Crippled Child, are the best known, and each derives substantial revenue from the pools that operate under the Act.

Over the past 25 years, the Spastics Society has received almost £40 million from that source, making it the most important single source of revenue. Those who decry the operation of the football pools ignore the tremendous benefit that has been conferred not just on the charitable organisations, but on the thousands of families who have reason to be profoundly grateful for the income received by charities from the operation of the Spastics Society, football pool and other charity pools.

The relative importance of the pools has declined. The Spastics Society football pools contributed 44 per cent. of total voluntary income in 1973–74 whereas the figure for 1982–83 was down to 6 per cent. However, £500,000 still comes to the society from the football pool. That is three times the amount received by direct grant from central Government.

The society paid £483,000 last year in unrecoverable VAT. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister of State will have the opportunity to remind his Treasury colleagues about the burden that VAT imposes on charities. The sum of £500,000 is a substantial one in charity terms. It is enough to pay for the whole of the Spastics Society’s social work service of 30 specialist workers assisting families in England and Wales. It is sufficient to cover, in running 33 centres for spastic adults, the difference between the cost and the fees received from local authorities. The money from the football pool is financing worthy activities.

Apart from the income that the charities receive, there is another aspect of the football pools that has so far been overlooked this evening. They provide a means for 1.5 million people every year to make a small contribution to charity while at the same time enjoying, quite legitimately, a modest flutter with the possibility of sizeable, although not sensational, financial gain. Although it may be held that gambling is in one sense an undesirable activity, I do not believe that the participants in such football pools, by staking perhaps 15p or 20p a week, are endangering their family budget. The operation of the pools may mean that among the 1.5 million weekly subscribers are some who would not otherwise be aware of the charities that they are supporting and the work that those organisations are doing.

There has been a general recognition for a number of years that the existing position, requiring the renewal of the order every year, is unsatisfactory not only for the Government and the House but for the operators of the pools who cannot make any long-term plans, and for the charities who are uncertain about the security of the income. Therefore, I welcome without reservation the statement by my right hon. Friend that the Act will be renewed annually throughout the life of the present Parliament. As we all know, this will run for a full five years. The Government have given the pool operators and the charities a longer period of secure operation than at any time since the original passage of the Pool Competitions Act 1971. For that reason I know that the charities will be grateful to my right hon. Friend for his assurance.

My right hon. Friend will also know that extensive consultations have been held over the past few years with the Home Office, and the charity pool operators, and the charities were fully involved in those consultations. The charities and pool operators made clear their preference for new legislation that would permit the continued operation of charity pools on a permanent basis. If that is not possible, I hope that my right hon. Friend will hold discussions with all the parties involved to ensure that any damage to the charities’ incomes, following the ending of the present basis of pool operation, will be minimised.

Bringing the present charity pools within the scope of the 1976 Act would be difficult to achieve without some adverse impact, but if it cannot be done. I hope that my right hon. Friend will argue even more strongly with his Treasury colleagues about value added tax.

The Pool Competitions Act enshrines what seems to be an anomalous position, because it restricts the charity pools to a small number of specified operators. I stress that that restriction has been the wish of successive Governments since 1971. The charities concerned have no desire to be part of an exclusive group. At all times, the charities and pool operators have been at pains to stress that they would be happy for the Act to be amended to allow other charities to compete on an equal basis.

When the matter was discussed in the past—the point was raised again this evening—concern was expressed about the expenses of pool operators. I stress, for the benefit of those who do not understand the nature of these pools, that the pool operators are commercial companies which are separate from the charities. The Spastics Society, for example, exercises no management control over the Spastics Society football pool, and has no legal responsibility for its administration.

To some extent, I share the concern about the expense ratios. However, the circumstances of the pools have to be borne in mind, in particular the proportionate cost of running a football pool with a small weekly stake. It is 16p in the case of the Spastics Society football pool. The cost of running such a pool will inevitably be much higher than the cost of running a pool that has a weekly stake of, say, £1. Moreover, all subscribers should be aware how much of their stake — in the case of the Spastics Society football pool, it is 15 per cent. — goes to the charity, how much goes to the prize fund, and how much to expenses. Pool subscribers will also be aware that after the charitable donation has been deducted from their weekly stake, one third of what remains goes to the Customs and Excise in betting duty.

The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman) may have talked to a number of leading fund raisers during the past week, but he has not attempted to talk to me, or to my colleagues who are involved in fund raising, and whom I see in the Gallery. As I run one of the largest fundraising operations in the country, raising about £10 million a year from voluntary sources, it is a shame that the hon. Gentleman made no attempt to talk to me if there is as much concern about fund-raising methods and costs as there seems to be. We in the Spastics Society are perfectly happy with the present system of pool operations.

I hope we shall find a way forward that does not damage the financial position of the charities over the longer term. The voluntary sector plays a major part in the life of our country, and unusually, it enjoys the support, both practical and philosophical, of most, if not all, sections of the community. The true size of voluntary organisations is not known precisely, although the Charities Aid Foundation is sponsoring research, the results of which will be available later. It is likely to show that in economic and financial terms the voluntary sector is a force to be reckoned with.

The Government have expressed their enthusiasm for the voluntary sector on many occasions and have backed their words with deeds such as increasing direct Government grants and fiscal concessions in the form of covenants, legacies and relief from stamp duty. That has demonstrated tangibly the Government’s remarkable support for the activities of many leading charities. Bearing in mind that every pound of direct Government support is boosted by voluntary donations and that in addition to expenditure by voluntary charities considerable real value is obtained through the work of unpaid volunteers, there is a substantial multiplier effect at work, converting each pound of Government assistance into several pounds’ worth of activity.

The voluntary sector is one of the most cost-effective areas for Government expenditure. With the severe limitations that will now exist, quite rightly, on both central and local government expenditure over the next few years, the significance of the voluntary sector is likely to grow.

By giving his assurance, my right hon. Friend the Minister has given some short and medium-term help to the charities. But the long-term anxiety is perhaps now more pronounced. It is in the interests of the community for the House to approve legislation that allows some modest form of gambling to be promoted for the benefit of charity. By doing so, the voluntary sector, which we are all so anxious to encourage, would receive continuing benefits.

Konni Zilliacus – 1945 Maiden Speech

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Konni Zilliacus in the House of Commons on 23rd August 1945.

I venture to take part in this Debate so soon after entering this House, because this subject is one very close to my heart. While I was still in the Army at the end of the last war, I decided to try to enter the service of the League of Nations, and I succeeded in that attempt. For 19 years I was an official of the League of Nations Secretariat. I entered the service of the League because I believed then as I believe now that world government is the only alternative to world war, and I believed then and I believe now that this country has a very special part to play in the great adventure of leading mankind into the paths of peace.

Some of the founders of the Covenant looked upon the League as the first step towards world government. It is my belief that the League failed largely because we lost the urge and the vision necessary to follow up that first step. At any rate, we did lose, and the second world war was the penalty. That is the price we have paid for our second chance, perhaps our last chance as has been said here before. Presented to us as our second and last chance, the Charter of the United Nations inspires mixed feelings, in some of us at any rate. On the one hand we are profoundly grateful to have been vouchsafed a second chance, and, of course, we must ratify this Charter and make the best of it; but on the other hand, 27 years after the launching of the Covenant and after six years of the second world war, this Charter is a very poor and timid affair. The Covenant, it will be remembered, was regarded by large sections of public opinion as a deep disappointment and as a very poor and unsatisfactory proposition, but the Charter of to-day is only the Covenant writ large. There are some improvements certainly, but there is not very much added to the Covenant. There is, of course, ode enormous difference, and a very great and beneficial difference, and that is that the Charter was first ratified, and by the overwhelming majority of 89 votes to two, by that redoubtable body, the United States Senate, which an American friend of mine once described as the graveyard of all the fallen hopes of world peace.

The second important fact is that one of the three foundation members of this Charter of the United Nations is the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. I venture to believe that the third and equally great fact is that this Charter is being presented for approval to this House by the first Labour Government to have a majority of its own. In a world where long-range rockets and flying bombs, world-wide air travel, television and wireless communication have become commonplace, the Charter strikes one rather, when presented as a foundation for building world peace, as a proposition to enter a horse and buggy race at Brooklands. In the light of the explosion of the atomic bomb, which has bludgeoned our imagination and bruised our souls, one feels rather that on arrival at Brooklands in our horse and buggy we find that the event has been changed without notice into a jet-plane race.

That is why I welcomed the Prime Minister’s statement the other day that the discovery of the atom bomb might make a revaluation of the whole situation, especially in the sphere of international relations, necessary, and the even stronger words that fell from the lips of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs at the opening meeting of the Preparatory Commission for the United Nations, when he said that the effect of the atom bomb on the organisation of security was such that, in the whole security sphere, a great many of our previous conceptions and a great many of the assumptions on which the San Francisco Conference had worked might have to be radically revised.

I hope that we take the San Francisco Charter in our stride, and ask ourselves incidentally, “Where do we go from here?” The Charter provides for its own amendment and can be used as the starting point for supplementary treaties and agreements of every kind based on this or that provision of its many clauses. Let me deal with one or two of the points that seem to me to arise in the present situation within the main features of the Charter. I believe that we should proclaim boldly that we regard the Charter as nothing more or less than an embryo system of world government, and intend to work as far as and as fast as we can to develop it in that direction. At the end of the last war, when the Covenant was first being elaborated to the world, a great statesman, Field-Marshal Smuts, with that union of lofty idealism and practical wisdom to which the Prime Minister paid such a just tribute yesterday, produced a remarkable pamphlet, “The League of Nations: a Practical Suggestion.” It was really a kind of public statement more than a pamphlet, for Field-Marshal Smuts was then a member of the Imperial War Cabinet. In that pamphlet he said that what we wanted was a League of Nations that would be real, practical and effective as a system of world government.

I suggest that nothing less than that should be the aim of British foreign policy to-day, and that all secondary problems and immediate issues should be approached in the light of that over-riding major purpose. It makes a real difference to the way in which we solve immediate issues if we approach them from the point of view of working for the realisation, as the Labour Party’s policy in 1935 put it, bit by bit and step by step, of a co-operative world commonwealth, or, as we approach the Charter, of the maximum infringement of sovereignty within which we will try to make ourselves as comfortable as we can on the basis of the balance of power. So much for our major long-term policy in approaching the problems of organisation raised in the new Charter.

I come to the economic and social foundations of this new peace machinery. The Charter is a great improvement in this respect and a great advance on the Covenant. For the first time, the improvement of social and economic activities and relations has been realised, as it were, officially and as a part of the structure of peace. I want to suggest four points that, I think, are worthy of attention in this connection. The first is the need for making the new specialist agencies, or, as I should prefer to call them, functional organisations, comprehensive, combining this new machinery and the bits that remain of the old machinery. For instance, the International Food and Agricultural Organisation should absorb whatever is left of the International Institute of Agriculture. The new World Health Organisation should take over what is left of the League’s Health Organisation and the old pre-last war international Public Health Office in Paris. The new organisation for transport and communications should find room within its framework for the universal Postal Union, and so on.

Second, there should be a sufficient measure of central direction and impulse to this whole rather elaborate and scattered machinery. That is the point to which my right hon. Friend and former colleague from Geneva, the Senior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter), has already called attention. It is a serious problem because, owing to the degree to which States have clung to their independence of this new machinery, the danger is that, with the very multifarious economic, social and technical activities, we shall have Governments succumbing to the temptation, either of saying that they will not do a thing for fear of offending certain sections of public opinion, or of not doing a thing because they do not want to do it, and so “passing the buck” from one committee and conference to another ad infinitum. We saw the beginning of that kind of thing at Geneva, and it would be a pity if the scattered and loose nature of this new machinery should allow such a situation to arise again. Fortunately, the provisions of the Charter are so vaguely and lightly sketched that there is room for a great deal of initiative in this respect, and I hope that the Government will take the initiative in framing these new proposals on lines that will endow the Social and Economic Council with adequate powers of supervision, direction and co-ordination, and that it will base this organisation on the budget and general directives of the Assembly.

I hope, too, that the principle of the International Labour Organisation, the principle of direct functional representation which has been found so successful, will be extended to all the specialised agencies. For instance, in the organisation concerned with international economic relations, I hope there will be room not only for boards of trade, but also for national and international chambers of commerce, for national and international co-operative associations and trade union organisations; and in the transport organisation I hope to see the great international shipping companies, the national and international associations concerned with coastal traffic, railways and other forms of communication, as well as the international transport workers’ federations, seamen’s unions, railwaymen’s unions, postal workers’ unions and every kind of sectional interest directly concerned with these organisations. The arguments for that are the same as the arguments for applying the principle to the International Labour Organisation.

I come to the question of international trusteeship, to which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister drew attention yesterday. As this system stands in the Charter, it does not advance us very far, for in Chapter 12, Article 76, it is provided that the principle of the open door shall be applied, subject to the overriding interest of the native inhabitants. That is a very true and sound principle, but the Charter allows it to be applied by the colonial powers on their own judgment and consideration. Article 77 provides that Governments may, if they wish, voluntarily put their colonies within the international trusteeship system, but are under no obligation to do so if they do not choose. The system applies primarily only to the colonies taken from enemy Powers in the last war and the colonies that may be taken in this war. So that what the system amounts to in the Charter is a very high-sounding formula for allowing us to take the colonies of the ex-enemy States and putting them within our Imperial preference system.

The Labour Party have a policy on this subject, which I hope will be in some form, in outline or principle, the policy of His Majesty’s Government. The Labour Party in 1943, at their annual conference, adopted a post-war policy on colonies in which they proposed, on the basis of reciprocity, to offer to put all non-self-governing colonies under a system of international trusteeship, and to apply to that system the principle of the open door, subject to the over-riding rights of the native inhabitants, but taking the judgment of the International Trusteeship Council on whether or not any particular measure of discrimination should or should not be regarded as necessary in the interests of the native inhabitants, with the right of appeal to the court on questions of law and fact arising out of such matters. I hope that that is still our policy, for, if that is the policy of His Majesty’s Government, we shall infuse honesty and vitality into provisions that at present seem somewhat hollow.

The central question of the organisation of peace is, of course, the question of the distribution and use of power. I welcome the fact that power in the Charter is to be openly vested in the permanent members of the Council, that is, the Big Five. I have no objection to the so-called veto of the Big Five. In the first 10 years of the League, the League worked effectively only because it was, in fact, run by England and France who have been Allies in the war, and still could pull together. They had to take account of the views of other States, because the votes of other States were necessary, and they were bound by the obligations of the Covenant; but they did, in fact, control the League jointly on the basis of the obligations of the Covenant, with due regard to the rights of smaller States, and although they were theoretically bound to apply sanctions to each other, such a contingency was unthinkable. As from 1934 onwards, the Labour Party advocated the revival of the collective system, laid in ruins by the appeasement policy of the self-styled realists, but the conclusion of an alliance between France, Great Britain and the Soviet Union within the League as the steel framework of peace in Europe, and by establishing the closest possible co-operation and association between this group of States and the United States as the foundation of world peace. That, I believe, was a close anticipation of the central security provision of the new Charter, and I believe if that policy had been adopted when it was first pressed by the Labour Party 10 years ago, we should never have had the second world war.

Let us assume for a moment that the primary problem of how to keep the Big Five together has been solved from the point of view of security. Obviously, if the whole of security rests on the solidarity of the Big Five, the major problem of security is not the assembling of international military forces to deal with aggression so much as the political problem of how to ensure that the Big Five pull together and do not fall apart. As long as they pull together, there is no aggressor in the world that would dare to stand up to them for five minutes. They therefore do not need any of the elaborate provisions of the Charter for assembling international forces from the ends of the earth, which is a dubious expedient and politically quite superfluous. All that is unnecessary as long as the Big Five pull together.

There is a secondary problem, the genuine police force problem of maintaining law and order. If the Security Council is to function effectively, it needs some kind of what I should like to call a handy all-purposes executive arm. The Labour Party’s policy contained in “The International Post-war Settlement,” for a genuine international police force to be put under the command of some commander appointed by the military staff committee of the Security Council, would provide the proper body for discharging the routine functions of maintaining world law and order that will fall to the lot of the Security Council. We have had two instances recently which may serve as cases in point. The first was the recent trouble in Syria and Lebanon. It would have been very valuable if we had had the Security Council in being and an international police force at its orders to maintain law and order in those territories, without arousing the kind of suspicion and national animosity that were aroused by the way in which the incidents had to be handled under existing conditions.

Again, we have had a good deal of potential trouble and unrest between Greece and her Northern neighbours. There, too, the kind of force that I am suggesting, and which is suggested in the Labour Party’s foreign policy, would be an extremely useful kind of force to carry out any routine police duties and investigations required by the situation. The Charter is an advance on the Covenant in that it rules out national intervention—the system by which a great Power would land marines or something of that sort to take care of the lives and property of its subjects in the territory of some other State which, in the view of the great Power, had not maintained order and which was too weak to resent this action, and such an international force would be useful to the Security Council to fill the vacuum thereby created. An international police force would carry out such policing duties as were necessary under the orders of the Security Council.

What about the major political problem of keeping the Big Five together? I believe that it turns very largely on whether agreement can be reached between the Great Powers on the question of their armaments. If there is any kind of competition or suspicion between them as regards their armaments, it is impossible for them to work together effectively, and any kind of alliance between them will not be worth the paper it is written on. On the other hand, if we do conclude an agreement on armaments, then we have laid the foundation for a solid working agreement as partners and allies in upholding law and order in the world. The question of the atomic bomb is crucial to that issue, because so long as we withhold the secret of the atomic bomb from the Soviet Union we make ourselves directly responsible for starting a race in atomic bomb research, which will be far worse than a race in armaments; indeed, it will be the most fiendish form of a race in armaments. I realise that the Government may have difficulty in stating now their position on that issue, but I do hope that they will at least repudiate the attitude adopted by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, who declared firmly and emphatically his opposition to sharing this secret with any other State in the world. A gloss has been given to that statement, perhaps quite unjustly, in certain parts of the Press. It has been stated by some diplomatic correspondents, for instance, that now there is a serious shift in the balance of power owing to our monopoly of the secret of the atomic bomb, and that from now on an Anglo-American bloc will function more or less as a unit in international affairs and will use their improved position in the balance of power to take a much tougher line with the Soviet Union about Eastern European affairs. Whatever hesitation the Government may perhaps quite rightly have about stating their positive policy on this matter before meeting the other Foreign Secretaries in council, I hope that they will make it perfectly clear that they do not propose to play Anglo-American atomic power politics against the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe.

So much for the question of power, in relation to the holding together of the Big Five, which is the central issue in making this new world organisation work. I should like to touch on the essential problem in its relation to our European policy. Let me take as a starting point two statements made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs during his magnificent address to the Blackpool Labour Conference last Whitsuntide. He said that the United States of America was a country which believed in private enterprise and that the Soviet Union had socialised her internal economy. Britain, he said, stood between the two with a tremendously progressive urge towards the socialised economy we need. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Education just now made the same point that we stand, in many respects, half-way between the Soviet Union and the United States. It is a very important point, to which I shall return in a moment. The Blackpool statement went on: I think it was the late Lord Beaconsfield who once said Britain and France joined together are an insurance for peace, but Britain, France and Russia joined together are a security for peace. How can an Anglo-Franco-Soviet combination serve to keep together the Big Five? I believe it can do so in this way. The United States and the Soviet Union are at opposite poles in this social crisis which, at present, is convulsing the world. The real danger for peace—let us face it quite frankly and honestly—is that the Big Five may break up because their two greatest members drift apart owing to their too-different approach to the paramount social issue. But under no conceivable government on either side of the Atlantic could a breach be opened between the English-speaking nations wide enough to threaten peace. Thank God for that; we have reached the stage of civilisation in our mutual relations where that possibility is definitely ruled out. On the other hand, American reactions, I believe, could and might have pulled a Tory England out of Europe and into opposition to the Soviet Union, whereas American Liberalism and trade unionism will always be strong enough to prevent a breach between an Anglo-Franco-Soviet combination and the United States. Therefore, our way to keep the Big Five together is to cleave to our Alliance with the Soviet Union through thick and thin, and let nothing come between us or cloud the good relations and feelings which exist.

For what purpose and on what basis can we and France and the Soviet Union co-operate and form a firm and enduring combination within the United Nations Security Council? I believe we can do that by dedicating ourselves to the reconstruction, the unification and pacification of Europe. We are pledged to co-operate by the Anglo-Soviet Alliance, and I venture to believe we should work towards converting the Anglo-Soviet and Franco-Soviet Alliances into a comprehensive all-in agreement embracing on one side Great Britain, France and our Western European neighbours grouped in some form of economic and political union, and on the other the Soviet Union and the Eastern European group of States associated with the Soviet Union. The immediate objective of that combination, of course, would be to apply the provisions of the peace settlement to the ex-enemy States, but the constructive long-term purpose would be the unification and reconstruction of Europe. In that enterprise we could confidently enlist the co-operation and friendship of the United States and, so far as they were relevant to the situation, of China also.

On what basis can Europe be reconstructed? The point has been rightly made that political democracy is essential to the reconstruction of Europe, but I think it is equally important to make the point that Europe can be successfully reconstructed for peace only on the basis of a sweeping advance towards Socialism. I hope that His Majesty’s Government will make their position quite clear on that point, even at the risk of losing the appearance of national unity in foreign policy. The Labour Party declared in its own foreign policy statement, “The International Post-War Settlement,” that Socialism was a fundamental necessity to the realisation of our international aims as well as of our domestic aims. Why did we say that? The answer is quite simple; it is not even new. It is contained in Palmerston’s statement, “If you ask me what a good foreign policy is, I reply that it is a good home policy,” and in Gladstone’s statement, “If you want to understand a country’s foreign policy, you must examine its domestic conditions, for the two are inseparable.”

To-day, it is less than ever possible to separate domestic policy from foreign policy, for both are concerned primarily with issues of social justice and economic organisation. The dividing line between them has become so thin as to be well-nigh invisible. In home affairs we have national unity as regards our aims. We all want more houses, full employment, social security, better health services, better education and better pensions for the aged, and the only rock on which our national unity is split is the all-important question of the means to attain those aims. We believe that certain measures of nationalisation, a limited but definite advance towards Socialism, form the essential basis for reconstruction in this country. The other side do not believe that. I venture to think that in foreign policy we have the same unity of aims and the same difference as regards the methods necessary to attain them.

While those of us who sit on opposite sides of this House can debate this question, thank Heaven, in a spirit of mutual understanding, and a desire for compromise and agreement, those who represent the same two points of view in Europe are standing on opposite sides of the barricades with arms in their hand. These things are being settled by Fascist counter-revolution and by social revolution led by the resistance movements. The overthrow of Fascism in Europe has meant the downfall of capitalism, for the reason that the defenders of the old social order in Europe, with a few honourable exceptions who were promptly liquidated or expropriated, threw in their lot with Fascism and have been dragged down in its fall. They started as appeasers, continued as collaborators, and ended as Quislings; they are now pushing up the daisies or facing firing squads. The resistance movements, on the other hand, are based on the working class, and largely on Socialist and Communist leadership. Their reconstruction programmes involve a sweeping advance toward socialism. On the issue of political democracy and civil liberty we stand with the U.S.A. in opposition to the views of the regimes in Eastern Europe. We are entitled to press our views of political democracy and civil liberty. I am glad we have abandoned the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of European countries, because I think the job of reconstruction cannot be hindered by the claims of sovereignty.

The political formulae of Western democracy displaced from their social context can mean anything or nothing. I speak feelingly because I have seen three years of intervention in Russia conducted in the name of non-interference with the internal affairs of Russia, claiming to be solely concerned with political democracy and self-determination in Russia without taking sides either with the Right or Left. I have seen, at Geneva, years of appeasement of the Fascist powers, conducted in the name of non-interference. I have seen some people defend non-intervention in Spain. As for Greece, I leave hon. Members to draw their own conclusions. I do beg the Government to make it clear that when they are using this same formula of political democracy and self-determination they axe doing so in the context of the social struggle that is taking place in Europe, and that they will make it clear that in no circumstances and under no pretext whatever will British-controlled economic and military power be used to bolster up reaction and counter-revolution in Europe. Having pressed our view of political democracy and civil liberties, I hope we will also say that we share with the Soviet Union the view that economic reconstruction in Europe can operate successfully only on the basis of a substantial advance towards Socialism, because the old social order has been smashed materially and compromised morally beyond repair in Europe, and that we agree with the reconstruction programmes of the resistance movements under their Socialist and Communist leadership, wish them every success, and would be glad to co-operate with them on the lines indicated in their reconstruction programmes.

Let us say frankly that we believe Socialism is a fundamental necessity to the reconstruction of Europe and the spread of political democracy and liberty in Europe. Those were our words when we were in opposition; let us stick to this policy now that we are in power. We have acted on that belief in this country; let us act on it abroad. The necessity for Socialism does not stop at our frontiers, but expands throughout Europe. A new wind is blowing throughout the world and we are part of the wind. My right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal said a few days ago that he hoped it would be understood that the coming into power of Labour meant something different in this House. It means something different throughout the world. For this election, if you like, is our British version of the Russian Revolution, or, better still, perhaps it bears the same relation to the Russian Revolution and to its successor, the resistance movements in Europe, as the Government and Parliament that brought in the Reform Bill of 1832 bore to the French Revolution, and just as the Whigs and Liberals of the 19th century made no bones about their sympathy and support for the middle-class revolutions that were engaged in cleaning up the remnants of feudalism and the power of the landed aristocracy on the Continent, I hope that Labour in this country, to-day as yesterday, will send its sympathy and support and give its co-operation to the resistance movements which are working for a new social order in Europe. Let the message go forth that the hopes of those in other countries who greeted the advent of a Labour Government with joy are not mistaken, that their great expectations are not to be dashed to the ground, that we are not merely a Tory “Caretaker” Government in foreign affairs, but that foreign policy from now on will be inspired by a new vision, a new spirit, a new hope, new aims and new purposes, so that those who have died in the war shall not have died in vain and that this country, the Mother of Parliaments, will once more take the lead in this difficult art of living, the art of government, and apply that leadership and new faith to that enormously difficult problem of converting the tangled and miserable world of to-day into a mankind living free and at peace under an effective system of world government.

Benjamin Disraeli – 1847 Speech on the Poor Law in Ireland


Below is the text of the speech made by Benjamin Disraeli in the House of Commons on 16th April 1847.

I may have misapprehended the noble Lord; but I understood him to say, that he thought the argument of the noble Lord the Member for Lynn a very good argument as applied to a county rate, but not as regarded a poor rate.

[Lord J. RUSSELL: I said that it would be a good argument if applied to England, but not to Ireland.]

I misapprehended the noble Lord, and, therefore, I am glad to have given him an opportunity of correcting that misapprehension. I understand, therefore, the view of the noble Lord to be this, that he thinks the argument of the noble Lord the Member for Lynn a very good argument as applied to England, but not as applied to Ireland, owing to the different state of these countries. Now, I am sure I do not intend for a moment to maintain that there are not great differences in the state of England and Ireland; but the Secretary of State has already confessed to us that he himself supports this Bill without any confidence of its producing the effect which we all desire; and yet the Secretary of State votes for this Bill, and we support the Secretary of State. The fact is, that this is a great experiment; and, if it be, is it unreasonable that the noble Lord the Member for Lynn, reasoning from such facts as political experience offers under analogous circumstances, should draw his argument from the position of affairs in England? And is it any answer for the First Minister to say that there is a difference between Ireland and England (which no one disputes), and therefore you must not refer to the instance of England? Is that not the best instance, although an imperfect one, and the only instance we can refer to under the circumstance which Her Majesty’s Ministers admit, that they are offering a remedial measure in which they have not implicit confidence?

I think it, therefore, not only a justifiable but an extremely wise course to refer to the best example which any one can adduce for his guidance at the moment. I therefore think that the observations of the noble Lord are really not such as should influence our opinion. It may be true that the instance of England is not exactly, or perhaps very remotely, similar to that of Ireland; but we are all agreed that it is the only example we have to guide us; and it was, therefore, a very fair basis for the clauses which the noble Lord the Member for Lynn proposed. I am of opinion—and, of course, one can only offer an opinion, for we have no experience on the subject—that the clauses which he proposed, and which he nearly carried, contained a statesman-like principle — a principle which has been much misrepresented out of the House; but, although spoken of in some terms, I will not say of contumely, by the hon. Member for Kerry (Mr. M. J. O’Connell), but with some terms of disrespect and dislike—the hon. Gentleman having received intimation from his constituents since the discussion, enforcing views which did not animate him on the night on which the Amendment was discussed; and although on a previous occasion the hon. Member for Stroud lavished his great powers of denunciation against that Amendment—the expressions which fell from the hon. Member for Stroud and from the hon. Member for Kerry, only show that an opinion exists out of doors in Ireland which does not exist in this House, as shown by the tone of the debate that evening, especially on the part of Her Majesty’s Ministers; for I am sure that an opposition more moderate—I might say more modest—than that which was offered to the Amendment of the noble Lord by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I never saw exhibited in any popular assembly. I thought that up to the last moment he was to be vanquished against his will.

The reason of proposing the clauses in question was this, that this being by the announcement of Her Majesty’s Ministers a subject of experiment—they themselves bringing forward a measure in which they had not implicit confidence—the noble Lord the Member for Lynn thinking that, although it was of great importance to relieve the tenant, it was of greater importance to pass a law not for the mere advantage of the tenant—not for the mere advantage of the landlord—not for the mere advantage of any class, but to pass a law which would really act, thought he would draw a line which, while it removed the burden from the smaller tenants, offered a stimulus to the superior ones, and would make all classes combine to carry the law into operation. Nothing is easier than, in this House, especially on the subject of Ireland, for hon. Members to rise and make general statements and flashy speeches, and talk of burdening classes; but the point to consider is, whether we will pass a law which will operate.

You may pass a law, throwing as you think the burden on a particular class; but when you find you are not able to carry it into effect, what answer will you make to those parties who proposed an Amendment similar to that proposed by the noble Lord the Member for Lynn, when they ask what advantage has accrued to the country—what benefit has been conferred on the people of Ireland? In the present instance the Amendment in question proposed to do more for the smaller tenant than was done by the existing law. Under the present law no tenant was rated to the maintenance of the poor who occupied a holding under 4l. annual rent. The noble Lord proposed that no tenant who occupied a holding under 5l. a year should be rated; while at the same time, although he threw what you believe to be a burden, but what I believe to be a salutary stimulus, on the superior tenants, he stipulated that there should be a lapse of time to permit them to draw the result; he gave them the fiscal experience of two years to frame a new bargain and compact for 1849. I believe, although I don’t say, that the result would be as satisfactory as the noble Lord the Member for Lynn stated; but when Ministers bring it forward avowedly as an experiment—when the Secretary of State tells us that it is with no enthusiastic conviction that he supports the measure, is it to be tolerated that clauses so practical, so wise, and, as I believe, so beneficent as those brought forward by the noble Lord, should be treated as some persons have treated them who have spoken in utter ignorance? I am not speaking of Irish Members at this moment.

I refer to what has taken place out of doors; for, although the noble Lord moved his Amendment in a temper and spirit with which no one could find fault, he has received letters by every post from Ireland since couched in a very different tone indeed from some which he had previously received from the same quarter. I heard an hon. Member say on a previous evening that the Poles were the Irish of the north of Europe. I hope it will never be said of the Irish that they are a light and frivolous people; but the rapidity with which they pass votes of confidence, and then of illimitable condemnation, is certainly not an encouragement to public men, and is not the best evidence of popular consistency. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) has referred to a pamphlet which has just been published, containing the report of a speech of a right rev. Prelate. I am glad the noble Lord noticed that extraordinary ebullition of prelatic conviction, for anything more remarkable I never remember to have seen. Throughout that pamphlet there is one unprecedented assumption; the writer always assumes that the poor law is to be administered by the poor. That is the basis of all his arguments, the fountain of his illustrations, and the source of all his counsels.

That is not the opinion, I believe, of Gentlemen on this side of the House, who generally support Her Majesty’s Ministers in the measure they have brought forward. They have supported it as a great experiment—as a hazardous experiment, but as a necessary measure—as a measure brought forward under circumstances in which inevitable necessity is the counsellor of the realm. But, although it has been brought forward, under these circumstances, as a last resource—we have not counselled in panic. Although it is a measure of necessity, we bring forward in its support the principles of political science. It is not a rash measure, to allow the starving people to break into the public granaries of the realm; but it is a measure in which we have endeavoured, by stringent regulations, to benefit the country and promote the commonweal. I will venture to say, that if there be any thing calculated to bring political economy into greater discredit than it now enjoys, it is making and publishing such speeches as that to which I have just referred.

The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State noticed the unanimity with which this question was about to pass. I certainly had no intention to interfere with that unanimity; but I am glad that the noble Lord the Member for Lynn, although he unexpectedly entered the House, did notice the attack which was made upon him; for one more unjust in its essence or more improper to encourage, as regards public men, I cannot conceive. I am glad he had an opportunity of making that vindication which has been completely acknowledged by leading men on both sides of the House. What may be the opinion of the people of Ireland, I cannot pretend to decide. I know that he has been animated in the course he has taken on Ireland by only one principle, and that was to do his duty under circumstances of great difficulty: and the consciousness of that principle will maintain him, and whatever may be their opinion, he will not swerve from the course he has determined to pursue.

Benjamin Disraeli – 1847 Speech on the Poor Law


Below is the text of the speech made by Benjamin Disraeli in the House of Commons on 28th January 1847.

As the two principal speakers in this debate have done me the honour of referring to my opinions on this subject, I hope the House will allow me again to touch the “great Mott case,” to which the right hon. Baronet the Member for Dorchester has alluded. On the present occasion, as upon the last – which I believe will be nearly three years ago – I have not had the advantage of any previous conference with my hon. Friend the Member for Knaresborough. The Resolutions were shown to me when I entered the House; I was then told that my hon. Friend had made up his mind to withdraw the latter part of them; and in that respect I do not think there is any difference of opinion as to his discretion. I am bound to say, that upon the subject generally I have formed an opinion very different from that of my hon. Friend the Member for Knaresborough.

I have endeavoured before briefly to explain that general opinion; and, having since been a member of the Andover Committee, I am, perhaps, not the less qualified from forming a judgment upon it. The House should never forget the circumstances of this case, and the subject with which they are connected. The great change in the law of Elizabeth, with respect to the maintenance of the poor, which has occurred in our time, is a subject constantly before the public for national criticism and for political modification. It is impossible to deny that it is one of those subjects on which public opinion should be viewed with indulgence, and on which the public expression of the opinions of public men ought not to be looked upon captiously, especially of those public men who took up opinions which were unpopular in this House, who were unconnected with any party in the House, and who if they went into a division, would have gone into a sorry division; such as that to which the right hon. Baronet the late Secretary of State for the Home Department referred in a spirit so constitutional, but in which, seeing his present position, he may some day find himself.

The poor-law question, is a question of charity, and we ought to look charitably upon all discussions connected with it. Let me take the position of the right hon. Gentleman himself. He was a distinguished country gentleman before he held any office in Her Majesty’s Government. He formed a decided opinion upon an economic and most important question. Whether that opinion were right or wrong, if men had not taken it up, the great change would not have taken place. I therefore always, from the first, believed that the right hon. Gentleman, as a country gentleman, or as a distinguished Minister, was, upon this subject, entirely sincere. He thought this great change was necessary. He was a member of the Committee, the report of which recommended this change. He supported it with great ability when it was introduced; he very naturally supported it when he became a Minister of the Crown, not only as the representative of philosophical and political convictions, but as a man does when invested with power.

He was determined that the change should be carried into effect; and he was determined to uphold it when it became the law. In that I see nothing but conviction and sincerity of conduct. But there are always two opinions upon the same subject; and when we see a man like my hon. Friend the Member for Knaresborough – not brought into power by a great party, but supported by the sympathies of his neighbours, who are opposed to this law – who is a man of honest convictions – who, whatever may be alleged against him, speaks out of this House, as I know, whatever others may think, what he says in it – when we see my hon. Friend coming to this House, and opposing himself to the opinions of the majority, although they think him outrageously in error, I do say that opinions upon this subject uttered by such a man, should be received with indulgence, perhaps even with kindness. As to this particular case, I do not agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Knaresborough. I see two sincere individuals, the one a right hon. Gentleman, recently a Secretary of State, who is attacked; the other, the hon. Member for Knaresborough, who is to be punished. Those two individuals represent opposite opinions; but I cannot help remembering that the one has been a powerful Minister, supported by a powerful party, and the other is an isolated individual, who has had no party to support him; whose only solace and whose best reward has been the sympathies of people out of doors. Under these circumstances, I think it would have been just to have viewed the conduct of the Minister, whoever he might be, who had to carry this law into effect, with anything but a captious spirit.

So also do I think that the individual who opposed the Minister of that particular administration of the law, should not be held up as a person whose conduct ought always to be impugned, and whose motives always maligned. With respect to what the right hon. Gentleman said in his chief answer, or rather reason for not giving an answer, to the charge of my hon. Friend, that this was not a proper tribunal where this case ought to be settled, I entirely agree with him; but let me ask the House where was this question first originated? Was it before the Lord Chief Justice of England, to whom the right hon. Gentleman appeals? No! Let us not forget the remarkable circumstances under which a solitary Member was brought before the self-appointed tribunal of this Assembly. You had then an individual the most powerful Minister that England has seen for a century, and who might have remained the most powerful Minister, had he not, as Hippocrates says, in one of his chapters in which he accounts for madness, been placed in those circumstances in which “too much prosperity may make a man insane;” you had that powerful Minister, with that devoted phalanx—that Macedonian army, ready to vote according to his nod—arrayed against this solitary being, who chose to express what might be erroneous, but were his honest and profound convictions.

Had he the chance which any man in the House of Commons, whatever his politics may be, generally has? Could he appeal to a generous Opposition to support him? On the contrary, the Opposition at that time mainly consisted of a particular and predominant interest, which, whether right or wrong this individual had peculiarly offended. You were at that moment virtually governed by the manufacturing party in this House. Between the Government of that day and that particular interest, there was, though not announced, a virtual alliance. Many there were, who, in giving a vote against the Member for Knaresborough, remembered they were punishing the denunciator of “Devil’s dust.” These were the circumstances under which the House came to a resolution which still remains upon our Journals; but, I say, not to the dishonour of the hon. Member for Knaresborough, but to the discredit of the House of Commons. Such language, in such a form, ought to be kept for high criminals. You should not punish a man in his position for idle words.

When I turn to your Journals, and see a man expressing his convictions upon a subject of great national interest, because he may express himself against one of the most powerful individuals in the country in language too strong, denounced by a resolution of the Commons of England, I cannot say it will be for your historic reputation; I doubt whether it will tell for your political courage. And now you come forward again and say, this question has been settled by a decision of the House, and that it is finally to be adjudicated upon by another tribunal. The main fact I do not deny. I cannot conceive for a moment that my hon. Friend the Member for Knaresborough could possibly have supposed that under the present circumstances the House of Commons could have interfered in his favour; and I take it as a confirmation of that opinion, that my hon. Friend did not consult me on the subject, because, if he had, I should have told him that it was totally impossible, in the present state of this question before the Court of Queen’s Bench, to appeal to the House of Commons. The right hon. Gentleman stops the question at once. But I take it, after what has passed, there will be no delay in the decision. I take it also, after what the right hon. Gentleman stated, that not only himself will appear in the witness-box, but Mr. Lewis also. I will not notice the minor points of this case; such as what the right hon. Gentleman said about Mr. Twisleton. That point he seems to admit. It appears to me that however you regard this case, it ends all in the conduct of one – I should be sorry to use harsh language towards any one who is absent, or under affliction, but I say one – disreputable individual. It is “Mr. Mott said this,” “Mr. Mott wrote that.”

He is ready to swear that the Minister of the Crown engaged him to do that which that Minister says he was not engaged to do; and he is ready to swear that he was engaged to do something, whilst the hon. Member alleges the contrary. Then we have a right to ask, is the word of the right hon. Member for Dorchester worth more than the word of Mr. Mott? I must say I prefer the word of the right hon. Gentleman to that of Mr. Mott; but saying that sincerely, I think I may also say, I prefer the word of the hon. Member for Knaresborough to that of Mr. Mott. Mr. Mott, the poor-law guardian, or Mr. Mott, the keeper of a madhouse, is not a person entitled to the gratuitous admiration of mankind. But what, after all, is this to the House of Commons? Why this scandalous House of Commons’ quarrel? The entry of these things on the Journals, does not tend to elevate the character of this House. It is a House of Commons’ quarrel, which has arisen from misconception, misunderstanding – from awakened prejudices and heated passions, which must exist in popular assemblies. How painful that the Lord Chief Justice of England must come forward to vindicate the honour of one of our chief statesmen, or even to punish the honest and hon. Member for Knaresborough, who thinks all this time sincerely that he has been fighting the cause of the people! We are told that this question is to be settled by the Court of Queen’s Bench. No doubt, if the knot be worthy of the divinity, the question will soon be solved. But be that as it may, I cannot but feel that the decision of any court of justice, though it may substantiate the truth, will not elevate our character in the opinion of our constituents. I rose, however, to express my hope—to which I am sure my hon. Friend will respond—that after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, and the fair challenge he made, he will not ask the House of Commons to come to any decision upon this question.

Alistair Darling – 2013 Speech to Scottish Labour Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Alistair Darling to the Scottish Labour Party Conference on 19th April 2013.

Thank you very much for your warm welcome.

One of things I have noticed in the three years since I stood down from frontline politics is just how nice people are about you when they are absolutely certain they are not coming back. But I am back, back for this referendum because it is one of the most important decisions that we will take at any time in our lifetime. Where Scotland will take one of the biggest decisions that has taken in the last 300 years.

Remember this, we are not electing another government for five years, where if you don’t like it you can kick it out. You are voting on something that – if we decide to vote for independence – is irrevocable. There is no way back. They only have to win once and by one vote. And there is no going back.

Now, as people have said in the last debate: this isn’t just about constitutions or intuitions they are there to serve us. This is about values. And we believe that we are better, we are stronger when we stand together. That’s why we joined the Labour Party. That’s why we joined trade unions because we can achieve so much more together than we can as individuals. And look at some of the things that we have set up that have given effect to that belief. The NHS – there when you need it no matter where you are in the United Kingdom. Or the minimum wage –avoiding a race to the bottom where workers in Dundee are pitted against workers in Durham. Or as some people have just been saying in relation to corporation tax – we do not want to get in to a race to the bottom where the Scottish Government might cut corporation tax then the rest of the UK does it and it gets lower and lower. The losers in that are the people in this country who would have to pay the taxes to make up the difference. We are better and stronger, when we stand together.

We are proud to be both Scottish and British. We don’t have to choose. We do not want to choose between the two of them.

And there is another element too – the influence we have to shape the world to be a better place. In the first debate that we had this morning we talked about developments in the world. Why walk away from the influence the UK has in the World Bank, in development, and the United Nations when we can be a force for good. We are better and stronger, when we stand together.

But of course, the key to this debate will be the economy. It’s about standards of living. It’s about the money that we could afford to spend on health and education.

It’s about jobs. It’s about what we are leaving to our children and their children.

Now, Douglas Alexander when he spoke earlier this morning talked about the changes that are taking place across the globe – where people are coming together, rather than breaking apart.

We are part of the single market of the United Kingdom – tens of thousands of jobs in Scotland depend on their firms being able to sell goods and services in to the rest of the UK. So we are sharing opportunities, and yes, we are also sharing risks. Anas just mentioned what happened four years ago. I know from my own experience that when I heard that RBS was within three hours of closing its doors and switching off its cash machines I had the strength of the United Kingdom to say: we will not let that happen.

Now, I don’t argue that Scotland couldn’t go it alone. Most countries can. I do think though that we would be very heavily dependent and very exposed to North Sea oil. Nobody is saying that the oil is going to run out tomorrow. We are not saying that. But it does not go on forever and we know that that its price is volatile and if you are dependent on nearly 20 per cent of your tax revenues from one source you are very exposed if something goes wrong. And it’s no wonder that John Swinney in his private moments told the Scottish Government cabinet that he was worried about the volatility of the North Sea oil price and the fact that ultimately it will decline. It’s no wonder that he was having to question how much he could spend on public services and the sustainability of the state pension. The only problem was that what they are saying in private. In public, they are saying something quite different. And when they were confronted with this, rather than saying to the people of Scotland: let’s be honest about the choices we have to make, let’s be honest about the realities that we are so dependent on North Sea oil. What did they do? They cooked the books and inflated the oil price – something their own financial advisers told them they shouldn’t do.

Now, central of course to the economic argument is the question of currency. But you know there is a pattern emerging with the nationalists – the more you ask questions, the more you find their arguments fall apart. Look at Europe, when they told us hand on heart they had a legal opinion that said that we would automatically remain members of the European Union. What happened? When we pressed, we found there was no legal opinion. Scotland had been quite deliberately deceived in to believing that nothing would change when of course the reality is that we would have to apply again to become members of the European Union. The same thing with NATO. And critically, when we came to the question about currency they are being evasive – they are not being straightforward with the people of Scotland. In the last 12 months alone, they have gone from being in favour of the euro (which is as popular in Inverness as it is in Essex), to using the pound (like Panama uses the dollar, where you would have no central bank which would completely undermine the financial services industry in this country), to now saying they will have a currency union.

And when you think about it, the practicalities of this – if we have actually vote to leave the UK we would actually then have left the bank that prints the currency that we presently use. The pound sterling is the currency of the United Kingdom. That is what it is at the moment – it’s not a currency union. In order to keep the pound, what the nationalists now say we would have to enter in to a currency union. Now yesterday Nicola Sturgeon was saying that of course within a currency union you could do what you want, there would be no constraints, you could spend money on what you want. That is utter nonsense. Imagine what would happen.

Just look at what has been happening in the Eurozone for the last four or five years. We know that in a currency union it is the large economies that call the shots.

We also know that a currency union would mean that another country – which would then be a foreign country – would have to approve our budget, our tax, our spending and our borrowing. That is not freedom. If you vote for independence you are voting yourself into a straightjacket from which you can never escape and the consequences of that would be very bad for Scotland.

It’s no wonder, when this squeeze comes on, and we start facing the challenges of an ageing population in Scotland or if you suddenly had a drop in oil prices, or if you had another banking crisis sometime in the future – you’re on your own. The burden, far from being shared across the United Kingdom, falls on six million people living in Scotland. Where is the sense in that? We are better and stronger, when we stand together.

Now of course some nationalists have twigged this. Some nationalist supporters and some academics now realise exactly the blind alley they are going down and what they are saying is lets have our own separate Scottish currency. Well let’s just think about that for a moment. Every time you go and visit somebody south of the border you would have to change your currency. Every time your granny, or your uncle or your auntie came up here they would have to get their currency in order to come and visit you. Or business is trying to trade with the rest of the UK would have to factor in the cost of the exchange rate. And of course, launching a new currency now in arguably the most turbulent economic times we have seen in modern times – that is what they would say in Yes Minister terms is “truly courageous”. You would be asking people to take a gamble on a currency that is wide open to manipulation and open to speculation as oil prices rise and fall. It is an absolutely ridiculous policy that would be gambling with Scotland’s future in a way that I think is totally unacceptable.

Now, of course, Alex Salmond has said that he won’t debate the currency issue with me. The reason for that is that he does not have the answers to these questions but he cannot hide for the next 17 months. Scotland is entitled to an answer. What currency would we use? What will the consequences be?

And Scotland will be entitled, as I suspect it will, believe that the nationalist stance on this is – as on so many other things – is incredible and is falling apart.

I believe there is a much better choice for our future than separation. The last thing we need at the present time is more uncertainty and divisions.

If we walk away from the UK, we give our children a one way ticket to a deeply uncertain destination and that to me is totally unacceptable.

You know, as Scots, we know that there is nowhere better but we understand that there is something bigger.

That is why we are better and stronger together.

Alistair Darling – 2009 Speech to Labour Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Alistair Darling, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, to the 2009 Labour Party conference.

Within months, the country faces a big choice.

A choice not just about who’s in Government, but about the values that will shape our country and the opportunities for our people.

A choice that will affect every area of our lives, every aspect of our future.

If we didn’t know a year ago the difference governments can make, we certainly know it now.

When I spoke at last year’s conference, I talked about the scale of the global economic crisis and warned that we may not yet have seen the worst.

Within weeks, the international financial system was in meltdown, the world economy on the edge of the abyss.

There was a real prospect of a repeat of scenes not witnessed since 1929.

Banks unable to give savers their cash. Firms unable to pay their staff.

In the face of such unprecedented global turmoil, no one government could hold back this economic tidal wave.

But I also said last year that the choices made by governments could reduce the severity and the length of the crisis – and help people through it.

That was the challenge.

And when the history of this period is written, this country and this party will be proud.

Proud that the people who led the way in stopping recession turning into global depression were our Government and our Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

We intervened to stop the banks failing.

Not for the sake of the banks themselves.

But because the alternative would have been an economy in paralysis and employment in freefall.

Let me assure the country – and warn the banks – that there will no return to business as usual for them.

So in the next few weeks we will introduce legislation to end the reckless culture that puts short-term profits over long-term success.

It will mean an end to automatic bank bonuses year after year.

It will mean an end to immediate pay-outs for top management.

Any bonuses will have to be paid over years, so they can be clawed-back if not warranted by long-term performance.

We won’t allow greed and recklessness to ever again endanger the whole global economy and the lives of millions of people.

Over the last 12 months, we’ve also acted to help businesses keep afloat and people stay in jobs and in their homes.

By cutting VAT, we put an additional £1billion each month into the pockets of shoppers and retailers.

Through the car scrappage scheme, we will continue to support jobs in the car and wider manufacturing industries.

Through targeted tax cuts for business and more time to pay, we have helped them weather the storm.

We knew that to have cut investment would have worsened the recession.

So instead of cutting, we brought forward planned capital projects, modernising schools, homes and hospitals.

Countries across the world have followed the same course and co-ordinated action through the G20 in a way which has never been seen before.

I can tell you, having been at every one of these meetings, that ministers around the world recognise this would not have happened without Gordon Brown’s leadership.

The results of this global intervention, led by the UK, is now beginning to come through.

Germany, France and Japan are showing signs of growth.

Many independent forecasters now believe the UK too is coming out of recession.

I think it is too early to say so with total confidence.

But I stick with my Budget prediction that, as long as we continue to support the economy, recovery will be underway in the UK by the turn of the year.

I also expressed my confidence in the underlying strength of the British economy and the skills and energy of its people.

And I believe that confidence will prove to be correct.

For if we continue to make the right choices as a country and the right investment for the future, we are ideally placed to make the most of the opportunities the global recovery will bring.

Investing in the new industries of the future, helping Britain lead the way in the move to a low-carbon economy, supporting the research and innovation at which this country shines.

But had we made different choices – Tory choices – the UK and global economy would be in a very different place.

So too would our prospects for the future.

For as well as being a test of leadership for the Government, this crisis was a test of judgement for the Conservatives.

It was a test they failed at every turn.

Every step to limit the severity of this recession and the damage to families, they opposed.

When the crisis began in the global mortgage markets, they thought the answer was less regulation, not more.

When we stepped in to save Northern Rock – protecting the savings of millions – they wanted to leave it all to the markets.

When we acted to prevent the widespread collapse of the banks, they protested we were wasting money.

As the financial crisis turned into the deepest global recession since the 1930s, they alone said we should do nothing to support the economy.

At every stage, the Tories have misunderstood the causes of the crisis. Underestimated its severity. And opposed the measures to limit its impact.

And why did they get it wrong? Because the natural response of the Tories is always to step back, not step in.

In this party, we believe it is our responsibility to make a difference, to help people help themselves.

People sometimes talk about the invisible hand of the market, but the last year has underlined how it must go alongside the enabling hand of government.

The Tories in their hearts believe the answer is always for the government to do less, leaving people to fend for themselves.

So just as the support we have put in place is getting the economy back on its feet, they want to withdraw this helping hand.

Having just come back from the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, I can tell you that no other government is following their lead.

Whether right or left, in Beijing or Berlin, they know that withdrawing support before recovery is secured risks plunging us back into recession.

We can’t sit back and relax.

Many businesses and families are still struggling to keep their heads above water.

If we followed the Tory route now recovery would be put at risk, prospects for growth damaged, borrowing would, in the long-run, be greater.

We cannot – must not – let that happen.

And we cannot – must not – repeat their mistakes of the 80s and 90s when short-term job-loss became long-term unemployment for a whole generation.

The result was the scandalous loss of potential and talent – and a huge welfare bill for the country.

And why? Again a deliberate choice by a Tory party to step aside and let people sink or swim.

It is why a key priority for us has been, and remains, to help people off welfare and into work.

And, of course, to make sure they were paid fairly, for the first time, through the minimum wage.

Introduced by this Government, and again opposed by the Tories.

The success of our approach was seen in record employment over the last decade.

And it continues to show its worth even as the global recession hits our economy.

Unemployment is rising here and across the world. Every job lost is a serious blow to that family.

But thanks to the support already in place, more than half of those who lose their jobs come off Job-Seekers Allowance within three months, and almost three-quarters within six months.

Since November, we have helped over two and half million people leave the claimant count.

It explains why unemployment here, although too high, is lower than in the euro area and in America.

But even when we begin to see growth in the economy again, unemployment is likely to keep rising for some time.

It is not within the power of any Government to protect every job.

But we believe it is our responsibility to support people in every way possible to find new employment.

To stop help now – as the Tories want – would be callous and counter-productive.

So rather than stepping back, we have stepped up our efforts.

Investing £5bn to provide high quality assistance and advice to those who have lost their jobs.

A guarantee for 18 to 24 year-olds of work or training – already 47,000 jobs have been agreed for take-up when needed.

A guarantee, too, for every school leaver of a college place or apprenticeship.

The difficult decisions we have taken – the choices we have made – have been driven by our belief in what Government can do, and our values of opportunity and social justice.

Yes, debt has risen.

Not just here, but across the world, as tax revenues have fallen as the global recession takes hold.

But had we not borrowed, we would have made a very difficult situation far worse.

The recession would have turned into depression, and debt would have been more, not less.

And this increased debt would be spent not in supporting jobs and families now but on long-term welfare bills.

It would have been irresponsible to walk away when the economic shock waves hit our country.

It will be equally irresponsible, once recovery is secured, not to take tough action so we can live within our means.

I welcome the chance of a mature debate on how we achieve this goal – even if it is hard to see the Shadow Chancellor playing much part.

There has, after all, been little that is grown-up about his performance so far.

And again, this country and this Government have set the lead – the first to set out firm plans to put our finances on a sustainable footing.

In the Budget, I laid out how we will halve the deficit over four years.

We are raising revenue by removing unfair pensions relief for higher earners.

And raising the top rate of tax for the very highest incomes.

Because it is right that those who earn the most should shoulder the biggest burden.

And to make sure people can’t avoid paying their fair share, we and other countries are cracking down on offshore tax havens.

We’ve already demanded details of over 100,000 offshore accounts.

And this will mean billions of extra unpaid tax returning to our country, with an expected £1bn from our agreement with Lichtenstein alone.

In contrast, what are the Tories doing? What’s their priority? Their priority is to cut inheritance tax for some of the richest families in the nation.

This cannot be the priority at a time like this.

But the steps we’ve taken to raise revenue are not enough.

In order to get borrowing down, spending will have to be tighter in the years ahead, against a background where public investment has tripled over the past decade.

I believe the public understand that difficult decisions will be needed.

The public know that adjusting to this new reality won’t be quick, it won’t be easy

They are right. But this makes it even more important that these difficult decisions are taken for the right reasons.

For just as there was a choice over tackling the recession and helping the recovery, so there is on public spending.

A choice between a Labour Government which believes passionately that front-line public services are vital to support everyone to meet their ambitions.

And a Tory party which has reverted to type and is relishing the chance to swing the axe at the public services millions rely on.

Cuts driven by ideology – not by what’s right for families and for the country.

We have already seen the damage such an approach inflicts on the fabric of our nation.

After 18 years of Tory neglect of our public services, the question was not whether every classroom had a computer, but whether every school had a proper roof.

In healthcare, the question for far too many was not whether you could get your operation in weeks, but whether you could get it at all.

A legacy of disdain and underinvestment, of shaming poverty among the young and old, a lack of hope among millions of families.

The result of a Tory party which deep down sees public services as essential only for those who have failed to do well enough to go private for their health care or education.

It was a legacy we have worked hard to put right.

Half a million children lifted out of poverty thanks to increased child benefit and tax credits.

Practical support for families through Sure Start Children’s Centres – like the one I visited today.

The best ever exam results for our children.

Average time on an NHS waiting list down from 13 to just four weeks.

Helping families through support for childcare and dramatically improved maternity leave and pay.

We won’t put these improvements at risk. We intend to build on them.

Tighter spending doesn’t mean a return to the Tory dark ages.

It does mean a determination to cut waste, cut costs – and cut lower-priority budgets.

This will require difficult decisions.

I haven’t shirked them in the past, I won’t shirk them now.

We must keep the public finances on a sustainable path.

The long-term health of our economy depends on it.

That is why we will introduce a new Fiscal Responsibility Act to require that the Government reduces the budget deficit year on year, ensuring that the national debt remains sustainable in the medium term.

But we need to do that rationally, in a way that is right for the economy, not driven by dogma.

The Tories’ approach is wrong, is naïve, and down right dangerous.

It will damage our economy now and in the future.

In the next few weeks, I will set out in the Pre-Budget Report how we will protect front-line public services, bring the deficit down, and invest in the country’s future.

We will invest to make our economy grow.

Growth is the best way of reducing debt, creating jobs, and raising living standards.

The low-carbon economy will create tens of thousands of new jobs.

But this won’t happen on its own – government must work with business.

High-speed rail links will help us tackle climate change and boost our economy.

Again, they won’t happen without government support.

We need thousands of new homes for families – we will work with the industry to ensure they are built.

We are world leaders in innovation and technology – we will continue to invest, to harness this ingenuity and create new industries and new jobs.

Extending opportunities to all, removing the barriers which stop people playing their full role in our economy and society.

Fairness, opportunity and responsibility will underpin everything we do.

The last 12 months, more than any time in recent history, has demonstrated the difference Government can make.

The Tories have been wrong on tackling the recession. They are wrong on how to ensure recovery. And they will make the wrong decisions on our public services.

They are wrong because on every question, the Tory answer is to step back, to walk away, to leave people on their own.

So that will be the choice in the next few months.

Maturity and experience against the politics of the playground.

Investment in the future against a return to the past.

I am proud of the difference we’ve made to this country over the past 12 years.

Proud of our judgement and determination over the last 12 months.

And we should be confident we can win the support of the country to keep taking Britain forward.

We have a good story to tell.

It’s time for all of us to go out and tell it.

Alistair Darling – 2008 Speech to Labour Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Alistair Darling, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, to the 2008 Labour Party conference on 22nd September 2008.

The true test of mettle comes when life is tough, not easy.

And the economic challenges we have faced in recent months – and recent days – are unprecedented in decades.

These are very uncertain times.  But one thing I am certain about is that we have the right Prime Minister, the right team and the right policies to help the country through them.

A Prime Minister with experience and judgement who has helped deliver a decade of rising living standards.

These qualities are going to be needed here and across the world.

These are extraordinary, turbulent times. A crisis which has rocked the financial institutions around the world on top of huge rises in oil, food and commodity prices.

A twin shock to the global economy which has hit every country in the world. A financial system which will never be the same.

And it has left families concerned about their jobs, their houses, and how they are going to meet their household bills.

So I want to use this speech today to explain what is happening and why.

And to set out the steps the Government, at home and with our partners abroad, is taking to help families to guide the global economy into calmer waters.

I also want to offer reassurance.

To explain why, despite the problems facing us now, the strength of our economy and the talent and resilience of this country means we can be confident about the future.

That we are ready to grab the opportunities which globalisation brings as well as cope with its risks.

I will never be complacent. But Britain is in much better shape now than in the past to weather these global storms.

Our economy is strong. We have historically low levels of inflation and high levels of employment.

Achievements which owe a great deal to this party’s vision and values.

Values of fairness, of partnership and a belief in the role of Government which is more important than ever after the events of the last few months.

So I want to explain and re-assure. To be realistic but also optimistic.

Over the last few weeks, we have experienced a period of unprecedented turmoil in the financial markets.

Stock markets have fallen sharply. Some of the world’s biggest financial institutions have been brought to their knees.

If you want one symbol of how the world has changed, it is a Republican Administration in America nationalising two of their biggest mortgage banks.

The reasons for this turmoil are complex.

But they demonstrate the fundamental changes that have taken place in the world economy which sets challenges for all Governments.

Now it’s easy to blame globalisation. But don’t forget, it has brought – and will bring – many benefits. More jobs in this country, cheaper goods in the shops.

As an outward looking trading nation, we’ve benefited more than most.

But with these big benefits come increased risks. Problems in one part of the world can quickly infect everywhere and everything else.

And we’ve seen this, in the past year. Mistakes and problems in the mortgages markets in the United States have spread right across the world, weakening financial institutions and the financial system, spreading into the wider economy.

It’s clear we have to put in place measures to stop problems being repeated. It is clearer than ever that markets can’t do this on their own.

Nor can individual Governments.

In the past it was sufficient to ensure effective domestic regulation.

That’s not enough today.

And we need to strengthen global supervision.

The first priority is to stabilise the banking system. If we don’t the whole world economy is at risk.

At the time of last year’s conference, the credit crunch was already tightening its grip on the world economy.

When I spoke to you, we had already intervened to stop the problems of Northern Rock spreading further and protect savers.

As conditions deteriorated further, we brought Northern Rock into public ownership to help contain problems.

It was controversial at the time and opposed by many. But now it is seen by everyone but the Tories as the right thing to do.

We introduced legislation to make it easier to intervene if other banks got into trouble. Again fought every inch of the way by the Tories.

They may claim to be committed to financial stability but people should be judged on what they do not what they say.

Only last week, George Osborne claimed the causes of the problems were not the financial markets.

That’s come as news to everyone else.

And a year ago, the Tories were calling for complete deregulation of mortgage finance.

When the whole world sees that there must be a role for Government, the Tories still appear to want to walk away.

We believe there is a role for government.

To help stabilise the banking system, we have gone further by authorising the Bank of England to inject in excess of £100 billion.

Essential to enable the banking system to function properly.  Essential for our economy, for business, for mortgage payers, for jobs.

All this will take time to work its way through. We are on a difficult road and there will, I am afraid, be bumps along the way.

But I will continue to do whatever it takes to maintain financial stability and I remain confident we will do so.

It is why last week, we acted decisively to help bring together two of the biggest banks in the country.

HBOS and Lloyds TSB – a merged bank which to gether will be stronger.

We changed the competition rules to make the merger possible in the interest of financial stability. Again a difficult decision. But also the right one.

And it was right, too, that we were the first major economy to ban the speculative practice of short selling to help bring calm back to the markets.

Short selling is not the prime cause of the present financial turmoil.

But it has made it far worse in recent weeks by undermining confidence in financial companies.

And working with other countries, we want to improve ways in which credit rating agencies work, ending conflict of interests and opening up the way they work.

We are putting in place, both here in the UK and internationally, the tougher financial regulation no one can doubt we need.

It is why I will introduce a new banking reform bill in the Commons in a fortnight.

Strengthening the supervision of the banking system. Making it easier to intervene if a bank gets into trouble. Giving new powers to the regulators.

We are also going to put in place measures to give added protection to savers.

I have asked the new chairman of the FSA to review urgently what we need to do to improve the system.

And to ensure that we play a full role in international decision making to design and implement more effective prudent system.

It’s not a question of light-touch regulation against heavy-handed regulation.  It’s about effective regulation.

I can promise that wherever weaknesses are found in the financial system – whether in the powers of Government, the Bank of England or the FSA,  I will take steps to deal with it.

We need to look as well at the culture of huge bonuses which have distorted the way decisions are made.

It’s essential that bonuses don’t result in people being encouraged to take on more and more risk without understanding the damage that might be done, not just to their bank, but to the rest of us in the wider economy.

When I made this point at the TUC, I was accused of pandering to the unions.

This is not an accusation many of you may think is often made against me.

But I don’t think the millions of families or businesses forced to pay more for the loans will think I was pandering.

Bonuses should encourage good long-term decisions, not short-term reckless ones.

But the problems we face are also global – and will require global solutions.

Just as no government on its own can combat global terrorism or tackle climate change, so no Government alone can put in place the right supervisory safeguards in this global economy.

In the next few weeks Gordon and I will be in the US and Europe working with our counterparts to put in place the measures internationally needed to prevent the mistakes and misjudgements which caused this crisis.

The credit crunch, of course, has not been th e only shock to have battered the world economy and hit business and families.

We have also had to contend in this country and around the world with an extraordinary surge in food, oil and other commodity prices.

Caused in part by short-term problems like bad harvests but largely by the growing demand of countries such as China and India.

It has led, in the last two years, to rises in oil prices of 60% even after the latest falls.

World agricultural prices up by 40%.

Wholesale gas prices by 160%.

It’s pushed inflation up here and across the world.

It’s increased the cost of filling your car and household bills.

It’s causing real difficulties for families – which is why I am so determined to make sure inflation does not become entrenched here in our economy.

Inflation is too high. But over the last ten years, thanks to the decisions, we have made, it has been much lower than in the past.

And the Bank of England beli eves it will peak soon and should fall over the next year.

The price of oil is down from its summer high. There are signs too that crop prices are falling which should eventually be reflected in the shops.

I believe families recognise – with inflation as well as the financial crisis – that these are global problems

But they also want us rightly to do what we can to help families now.

So to help with living costs, this month 22 million people on low and middle incomes will receive a £60 rebate – with an extra £10 each month until April.

To help with housing, we’ve brought in a stamp duty holiday. We’ve also announced we would spend an £1 billion now to help people facing repossession and speed up the delivery of social homes.

And nothing better illustrates how little the modern Tory party has changed.

Than when we announced £1 billion to help the many over housing, they unveiled &p ound;1 billion to help a few thousand avoid inheritance tax.

On energy costs, we’ve frozen petrol duty this year and increased the Winter Fuel Allowance.

We’re introducing measures to reduce heating bills not just this winter but every winter through energy efficiency.

Measures which will also help us tackle climate change. Measures, too, which will help us grab the opportunities of the switch to a low carbon economy.

For the global economy brings not only threats, but also opportunities. And we should be confident we can seize them.

The British economy has been a real success story in recent years.

We are world leaders in many sectors: biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and our creative industries.

Half of all British exports are manufacturing.

Globalisation means more markets for our goods and services.

And if you want reasons to be confident about our future, look no further than right here in Manchester.

Over the last decade this city has been transformed.

There are thousands more jobs and homes in a magnificent rebuilt city centre.

A credit to the vision of Manchester City Council to the efforts of the private sector and the energy of the local community.

But it’s also down to the stability we’ve built – and to the investment it allowed us to deliver here and up and down the country.

Investment to provide new schools, new hospitals, and new transport links, new skills, new hope.

Help for families through tax credits and increased child benefit.

Help for thousands in work through a minimum wage and guaranteed holidays.

Help in retirement through improved pensions – and, for the first time, every employer required to contribute to their employees pension fund.

Decisions to support families we’ve made and which the Tories never would.

Investment we provided and the Tories never would.

It doesn’t mean we have tackled every problem. There’s plenty more to do to spread opportunity to every corner of this city and our country.

But the economy is stronger and more stable, our public services improved, prosperity extended.

We have taken the right long-term decisions for our country. Just as we are doing now on energy, on planning, on transport.

Decisions which allowed us to triple public investment whilst at the same time reducing national debt to one of the lowest levels of any major developed country.

Enabling us now to let borrowing rise to support the economy and families now when they need it most.

Make no mistake, discipline in public finances is essential.  Being clear about our priorities.

In the medium term, governments everywhere have to live within their means – so I will set out this autumn how I will continue to deliver sound public finances.

A country fairer, stronger, changed for t he better. Not at the expense of economic stability, but because of it.

That is the result of eleven years of Labour in Government.

A stable economy, essential to building a fairer country.

And it’s these same principles and leadership which must guide us through the present economic turmoil. Taking the right decisions at the right time.

I’ve made headlines by saying just how tough times are.

I draw little comfort from the fact that many people now understand what I meant.

Yes we are facing real problems. Our economy, along with every other developed country, is bound to slow.

It’s my job to be realistic. And these problems will take time to work their way through.

But as I also said – and this got a lot fewer headlines – that I was confident that Britain will come through these difficult times.

I am just as confident today.

Britain is strong. Our economy is sound. Times are hard but we must keep things in perspective.

Unemployment rose last week. But we still have near record numbers of people in work.

Inflation is higher than we would like but nowhere near past levels – and should fall soon.

Interest rates are at 5%, not the double figures of two decades ago.

And remember, too, the many good things about our country.

Our resilience, our determination, our talents. Our world-class industries. Our ability to innovate and invent.

With a Government with the experience to make the right long-term decisions.

A party with the values essential to guide our country through this new changed world.

We should have confidence in ourselves. And confidence in the future.

Alistair Darling – 2008 Mansion House Speech


Below is the text of the speech made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon Alistair Darling MP, at the Mansion House.

1. My Lord Mayor, Mr Governor, my Lords, Ministers, Aldermen, Mr Recorder, Sheriffs, ladies and gentlemen. It is a privilege to be asked to address you this evening.

2. It must also be something of a change for you as this event has been addressed by the same man for eleven successive years.

3. In preparation for tonight, I have read my predecessor’s speeches closely.

4. I have noticed that over the years, they tended to creep up in length. And in scope.

5. To allow you to enjoy your coffee earlier, the Governor and myself – another sign of the close co-operation between us – have agreed to copy the early Brown period rather than the later.

6. I do, however, want to talk about the global challenges our country faces and our determination to take action at home and internationally to ensure we meet them successfully.

7. This, of course, is exactly what the UK and the City of London financial sector has demonstrated over recent years.

8. Indeed, the talents, drive and commitment of the firms you represent are crucial to the prosperity of our country.

9. Our financial services sector supports over one million jobs and accounts for over ten per cent of GDP.

10. Over thirty per cent of the world’s foreign exchange trading and over 40 per cent of foreign listed equity trading takes place here.

11. We are the world leader, too, in international banking.

12. This success is underpinned by talent and achievement in many related professions and sectors, such as law and accounting.

13. Together you have made London the world’s main financial centre. And I agree with you, my Lord Mayor, that working in partnership, we must do everything to keep it that way.

14. That is why I meet regularly with you, a group of City firms, the FSA and the Bank of England.

15. Following our most recent meeting, we agreed to set up a forum to consider the challenges to the City’s competitiveness.

16. The group is also bringing together senior industry players to look at a range of issues, including the efficiency of our capital-raising around short selling.

17. All our efforts to strengthen London’s position must be based on our long-standing tradition of openness and welcoming investment from overseas including sovereign wealth funds.

18. We need also to be able to attract the brightest and best from around the world to the City and to our country.

19. The new Australian-style points system will be introduced this autumn to help ensure this happens.

20. We understand companies, like people, can choose where to do business. We want them to choose us.

21. Our approach to regulation is one of the reasons companies choose to come to the UK.

22. And a competitive tax system is also, of course, critical to our continued success.

23. Through the new multinational business tax forum I set up, we are talking to you about what more needs to be done to keep the UK and the City of London in the lead.

24. But, of course, the biggest single factor in helping you deliver your ambitions for the future are the decisions the Government takes to ensure the strength and stability of our economy.

25. It is an economy having to deal, as elsewhere in the world, with turbulence in the financial markets and the soaring cost of energy, food and commodities.

26. As an open economy, the UK, of course, has been well placed to take advantage of the opportunities that globalisation has brought.

27. For businesses, it has meant new markets. For consumers, it has meant, for example, electrical goods and clothing at historically low prices.

28. UK productivity, living standards and growth have risen as a result over the last decade, closing the gap with other major industrial countries and reversing decades of relative decline.

29. But this new interdependent world brings risks as well.

30. The twin global shocks of rising commodity prices and the credit crunch have led to growth forecasts for advanced economies being halved in the last year.

31. Earlier this month, we again saw the OECD revising down their growth forecasts for economies around the world for both this year and next.

32. No country can escape these consequences.

33. As I made clear in the Budget, I expect the UK economy to continue growing, but for growth to slow this year. This is already clear from recent official figures and in business surveys.

34. Lord Mayor, I have seen reports suggesting yesterday’s inflation figures show we are returning to the days of the 70’s.

35. They are wrong, both in the nature of the problems we face and also in the scale.

36. Today’s inflation must be tackled. We cannot be complacent.

37. But in comparison to the 1970s when it reached over 26 per cent, it remains low. Even in 1991, it was still at 8 per cent.

38. And it was home grown inflation which dogged our economy in the seventies and successive decades.

39. In 1992 for example, when the UK was ejected from the ERM the price of imported raw materials was falling. But despite that, home grown pressures pushed CPI inflation to 4.3% that year while growth was just 0.2%.

40. Eleven years ago we made the Bank of England independent.

41. The MPC has been a cornerstone of the successful economic policy frameworks that have delivered sustained growth and a level of inflation that has been, on average, lower than in the euro area and United States.

42. But while the inflationary pressures we faced in the past were primarily domestic, today they are global.

43. The Governor, in writing to me yesterday, explained that the dramatic increases in the prices of food, fuel, gas and electricity alone account for 1.1 percentage points of the 1.2 percentage points increase in inflation.

44. These sharp price increases reflect developments in the global balance of demand and supply for food and energy.

45. In the last year world agricultural prices have increased by 40 per cent.

46. Global oil prices have risen by more than 80 per cent to average $123 a barrel.

47. To put this into perspective a decade ago a barrel of oil cost less than $10; two weeks ago it jumped by more than that in a single day.

48. Lord Mayor, these are external shocks which are affecting every economy in the world.

49. In May, inflation rose to 3.7 per cent in the euro area and 4.2 per cent in the US – both above inflation here in the UK.

50. In fact so far this decade, inflation in the UK has been on average the lowest in the G7 except for Japan, which has suffered a long period of deflation.

51. I believe that we are well placed to continue this record.

52. Because of the UK’s flexible labour markets employment is at record levels, unemployment is low and half the level it was in the early nineties.

53. And pay growth has remained moderate. Average earnings growth, excluding bonuses, in the year to April was 3.9 per cent, a little below its average since May 1997.

54. But continued restraint on pay is required from both the public and private sector.

55. We must recognise the need to reward efforts of people who work hard.

56. But to return now to inflationary pay settlements would undermine rather than raise people’s living standards with a damaging circle of wage increases eroded by steadily rising prices.

57. We must never return to those days.

58. That is why the Government has agreed a number of multi-year pay deals that now cover 1.5 million public sector employees.

59. Global inflationary pressures mean I am likely to receive more letters from the Governor in the coming months.

60. The Government will continue to support the MPC in its decisions to maintain price stability and support the economy.

61. Lord Mayor, times are tough. It will take time for these global difficulties to work through.

62. But our economy will continue to grow.

63. Independent forecasters expect UK inflation to fall back next year.

64. Employment is at a record high.

65. Many order books are full.

66. British business is competing and winning all over the world.

67. Our economy is flexible and resilient.

68. In fact, both the OECD and the IMF expect us to be among the very best performers in all major developed economies.

69. I agree.

70. But, Lord Mayor, the global nature of inflation today highlights how the economic challenges we now face are different from 1997.

71. The UK then had a record of economic instability and home grown pressures driving inflation.

72. We had high levels of public debt and unemployment and a legacy of chronic underinvestment in our key infrastructure and public services.

73. In the past, to reduce borrowing, public investment was cut to historically low levels.

74. We have cut debt from 43 per cent of GDP in 1997 to 37 per cent last year.

75. It means that, with the world economy slowing, we can allow our borrowing to rise this year to support families and businesses, while maintaining sound public finances.

76. We have taken the decisions needed to provide stability and a platform where companies can invest with certainty and individuals can make the most of their talents.

77. Our macroeconomic framework is facing its toughest test in a decade. But we will come through it with renewed confidence.

78. And from this essential platform of stability, we also need now to show the same determination to meet the new global challenges facing our country.

79. We are determined to press for a new global approach to remove the barriers which are preventing an increase in the supply of oil and put in place long-term measures to reduce demand.

80. The Prime Minister will travel to Saudi Arabia this weekend for a summit between the main oil suppliers and oil consumers to see how we can work together to better balance the supply and demand for oil.

81. Both energy and food were discussed at last weekend’s G8 Finance Ministers’ meeting.

82. They will be high on the agenda at next month’s G8 summit when the UK will propose a global initiative to increase agricultural production.

83. And we must look again at the Common Agricultural Policy. It is unacceptable that at a time of significant food price inflation, the European Union continues to apply very high tariffs to many agricultural imports.

84. We must also do all we can to secure a global trade deal at Doha. We believe it is within our grasp and are pressing to achieve it.

85. And we must be on our guard against those who may use the present difficulties to push for new trade barriers and higher tariffs.

86. While other countries might make increasingly protectionist overtures, our message must be that we are open for business.

87. Lord Mayor, globalisation is not a choice. The clock can’t be turned back.

88. Indeed, as the City of London has demonstrated, it brings huge opportunities to those ready to seize them.

89. And we can see similar success stories across our economy. In the biotech sector, pharmaceuticals, and aviation – all knowledge-based industries.

90. And we are well placed to grasp the opportunities opening up as we move towards a low-carbon future – vital if we are to tackle the threat of climate change.

91. Lord Mayor, just as inflation now is a global challenge, so too is the need to maintain financial stability.

92. Over the past ten years financial markets have been transformed. They are increasingly fast-moving and international in scope.

93. This has brought real benefits but also increased risks.

94. In the past, if a bank failed it might affect a city or a country.

95. But as we have seen in America earlier this year, it can now spread to the entire world within days. And this new reality affects us all.

96. The challenge for governments now is to balance the need for innovation in markets while minimising systemic risk and protecting consumers.

97. This requires both a global and domestic response.

98. Internationally, the IMF and Financial Stability Forum need to play an increasing role in providing an early warning of the threats to the financial systems.

99. We have secured support for the expanded use of international colleges of supervisors recognising that financial institutions increasingly operate in many different countries.

100. Here at home we will continue to support the Bank of England’s special liquidity scheme.

101. We expected initial take up to be around £50 billion, although we have made it clear that it is not capped.

102. The scheme has helped stabilise the financial markets and bring greater confidence, which will, over time, support lending in the economy.

103. And I want to thank the Governor for his tremendous work and invaluable support over the past twelve months.

104. Lord Mayor, among the areas that have been transformed in recent years are mortgages.

105. A decade ago, almost all mortgages in the UK were funded by depositors. By last summer, a third of new mortgages were funded by the global money markets.

106. That is why I have asked Sir James Crosby to consider both the underlying problems in the wholesale mortgage markets and the steps the industry and government can take to restore confidence.

107. As we have seen, problems which began in the US housing market last summer soon meant financial institutions across the world needed support from their authorities.

108. Northern Rock tested our own system of financial regulation.

109. There were no easy answers to its problems. But we took the necessary steps to protect savers and wider financial stability.

110. We ensured that Northern Rock’s problems did not spread to the rest of the banking system. No savers lost money. And we will continue to do everything we can to protect financial stability.

111. I believe that our proportionate, principles based approach to regulation – and the single regulator model that has been widely copied since we put it in place a decade ago – remains the right one for our future.

112. As I have said before, the answer is not more regulation, but regulation that is more effective.

113. It is important that, for example, the FSA has the necessary powers to tackle market abuse and ensure investor confidence is protected. The Government will be bringing forward legislation to provide the FSA with additional powers.

114. And we are already working with prosecutors to help the FSA improve its prosecution rate.

115. I want to thank Sir Callum McCarthy for his leadership of the FSA over the last five years and welcome Lord Adair Turner, who takes over in September.

116. Lord Mayor, no system of regulation, of course, can or should prevent the failure of each and every institution.

117. But we must do everything possible to prevent problems which could pose a wider threat to stability.

118. At the centre of our banking reform proposals are new powers for both the FSA and the Bank and improved procedures for co-ordination between them.

119. These will reduce the likelihood of failure, lessen the impact if it happens and ensure that savers are properly protected.

120. The FSA will remain the sole banking supervisor.

121. But the Bank of England also has a critical role in protecting financial stability.

122. The Bank of England Act 1998 gave the Bank a statutory objective on monetary policy.

123. As I have said, the Government now intends to provide as well a formal legal responsibility for financial stability, alongside its existing role in monetary policy.

124. In doing so, we will build on the very positive experience of the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee.

125. A slimmed down Court will have oversight and a new Financial Stability Committee, including Non-Executive members drawn from Court, will guide the Bank’s operations in this field.

126. It will bring valuable, external expertise with City experience to bear on the Bank’s decision making.

127. I shall set out full details tomorrow in a letter to the Chairman of the Treasury Select Committee and in a consultation document shortly.

128. The challenge for us is to ensure that the authorities can act quickly and decisively where necessary to support financial institutions. These proposals will give the authorities the full range of powers they need.

129. They do so by entrenching the model established a decade ago – the FSA responsible for individual institutions, the Bank of England for the stability of the financial system as a whole – but by providing each institution with new powers, and improving co-ordination between them.

130. I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Rachel Lomax, who is retiring this year, for her distinguished service, not just as the Deputy Governor, but in the civil service too.

131. I expect to announce her successor tomorrow.

132. I am also taking the opportunity to strengthen the procedure for future appointments.

133. In future, we will also advertise the posts of the Governor, the Deputy Governors and also for external members of the MPC, consistent with the principles of open competition. to inject more openness and transparency to the process.

134. Taken together, these measures represent a major reform equipping us to deal with the challenges we face, and in particular giving the Bank of England and the FSA the mandate, the responsibility and the accountability to discharge the vital duty of ensuring financial stability.

135. A clear statutory objective to provide financial stability, a smaller and reformed Court, a new Financial Stability Committee and more transparency in appointments.

136. Lord Mayor, as we take the decisions needed to come through present difficulties, we are keeping our eye firmly on the long-term future of the country.

137. We are taking the hard decisions, many controversial, but I believe essential for our long-term interests.

138. We are, for example, addressing problems with our energy and transport infrastructure.

139. We have brought forward plans to streamline the planning process. To meet the challenges of the 21st century, we need a planning system which is both fairer and faster.

140. We have given our backing to a new generation of nuclear power stations to help meet our energy security and tackle climate change.

141. We strongly support new airport capacity for London and we are going ahead with Crossrail.

142. And we will continue to invest in skills, infrastructure, science and innovation, which are essential for our future success.

143. Over the last decade, we have taken the decisions needed to provide a strong and stable economy. We are now taking the right decisions to ensure the continuing prosperity of our country.

144. Lord Mayor, the forces of globalisation are becoming ever stronger.

145. They bring both opportunities and challenges.

146. We must never be complacent. But we should also be confident.