David Cameron – Speech with Romanian President Băsescu


Below is the text of a statement given by Prime Minister David Cameron and Romanian President Traian Băsescu on Monday 6 June 2011.


Good afternoon and I warmly welcome the Romanian President here to Number 10 Downing Street. We have just had an important and productive meeting. Britain and Romania are natural partners, with shared interests on many of the most important issues that we face. We agreed today that it is time we realise the full potential of this partnership.

First, we agree on getting our economies growing, by freeing businesses to create jobs – less regulation, more innovation. This is an urgent task for Europe, but if we together take the bold actions needed, both in the EU and at home, we can build the more dynamic economy that Europe needs. We agreed to discuss these issues at the European Council. So, in the EU, Britain and Romania will work together, with our partners, to complete the single market in services, energy and the digital economy. We will push hard to reduce the burden of red tape that stifles those doing business, and especially the smaller businesses that should be driving innovation and growth. We will be looking for some immediate steps at the European Council in two weeks’ time.

Second, we both believe that the offer of an EU future is vital for stability and reform in Europe’s neighbourhood. We want to see the countries of the Western Balkans, Turkey and Moldova move towards EU membership, in a way that makes those countries stronger, and the European Union stronger. I welcome the important role Romania can play, sharing their experience of transition, and I have been pleased to see the efforts that the President has made to reform the judiciary and tackle corruption in Romania.

Third, Britain and Romania are standing side by side in Afghanistan and Libya. In Afghanistan we are proud of the record of our troops fighting together, and we will get the job done together – building up the Afghan security forces to take full security control from 2014. In Libya, Romania took on an important early role, providing some naval power to stop arms getting to Gaddafi’s forces. We agreed today that there has been real progress in recent weeks, helping to protect the people in Benghazi, in Misrata and elsewhere, but we cannot rest while civilians remain daily under fire. We will see this job through, building up the pressure on this murderous regime until the killing stops. The unity and resolution of the coalition in meeting this challenge has been a tremendous achievement and I am grateful to the President for his friendship and solidarity in recent months and I am very glad to have him alongside me in London here today.


Thank you. With your permission I will use the Romanian language with translation. I would like to thank Prime Minister Cameron for inviting me here to London. Our discussion occasioned an excellent and fruitful exchange of points of view, particularly on our common evolution within the EU. In our discussion we established that for our countries our priority should be the fact that the EU should be stronger and united, more competitive and should consider research and development as a priority.

I have also discussed with the Prime Minister the recent positive developments related to the mechanism for cooperation and verification that Romania is now undergoing in its relation with its European partners and the Commission. I informed the Prime Minister that Romania will fulfil all its obligations in terms of military commitments, whether we speak of the Western Balkans, Afghanistan or Libya.

I have also informed the Prime Minister that for Romania the Europe 2020 strategy is of crucial importance, and the government of Romania is committed to fulfilling the objectives within this strategy. And last, but not least, another issue we discussed was the cooperation between Romania and the UK and the future continuation of the modernisation project that we began regarding the two frigates that Romania bought from Britain.

Thank you.


Thank you.

David Cameron – 2011 Speech at the Local Government Association


Below is the text of the speech made by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, at the LGA Conference on 28th June 2011.

It’s great to be back at the LGA conference.

And I want to congratulate Sir Merrick Cockell on his appointment as Chair of the Local Government Association.

Today, I want to talk about the big issue of the week – the reform of public service pensions.

But before I do that, let me say something about local government.

I want it put on record: I think you are doing a brilliant job in challenging circumstances.

I know it was a tough financial settlement.

And I know you are all grappling with some really difficult decisions.

When your budget is being cut, freezing council tax isn’t easy.

But because of the action that’s been taken, by everyone in this room, a typical family in a Band D home will save up to £72 over the next year.

You did that – and it’s something you should be proud of.

But there will be many more tough decisions in the weeks and months ahead.

And my job is to make your job less difficult, not more.

And I believe, as a government, we’re going some way to doing that.

So much of that bureaucracy that drove you mad and cost you so much time and money in administration – it’s going.

The Comprehensive Area Assessments, the Place Surveys and Local Area Agreements – we’ve got rid of them.

Quangos like the Audit Commission and Standards Board – we’re scrapping them.

And regional Spatial Strategies, Regional Fire Control Rooms, Government Offices for the Regions – they’re going too.

We don’t need regional government. The public want – you want, I want – local government.

What’s more, we’re also phasing out that ring-fencing that made you spend money with one hand behind your back.

In every way we can, we’re rooting out the red tape and regulation and freeing your hands from the grip of central government control.

At the same time as this, we’re actively giving you new powers and freedoms – trusting you to get on with the job.

I believe that our agenda of localism is one the most exciting things we are doing in government.

For years, the default position of government has been to see a problem and suck more power to the centre.

We want to be different. Very different.

When we see a problem, we don’t ask what central government can do – we ask what can local people do, what can councils do?

It’s by asking those questions that you arrive at so many of our reforms.

Our new general power of competence means councils can develop property, run new services and own assets.

Our new Health and Wellbeing Boards mean you can take a leading role in developing a public health strategy for your local residents.

And our new Local Enterprise Partnerships has seen many of you take control of your local area’s economic destiny.

These are already gathering real momentum.

Like in Tees Valley, where local councils have pooled their budgets and got together with business to draw up a plan to make that place a hub for green industry.

This is what you do when you get more power – you get things done.

Another way you’re doing this is through community budgets.

We’re saying to local authorities and local public services: here is the freedom to put all your different strands of cash in one pot – go and tackle some of most stubborn social problems the way you think is best.

It’s already having an impact.

In Islington, the council, NHS, Job Centre Plus, Probation, Police, housing and voluntary sector have pooled staff and over £6 million worth of resources to give the most hard-to-reach families the most intensive and personalized support possible.

Again, we’re giving you the power – and you’re getting things done.

So for me, it’s not a question of: should we give councils more power?

It’s: how far and how fast can we go?

And we are not stopping this power shift at the Town Hall.

We are going even further, taking people power to the next level – from councils to neighbourhoods, communities and individuals.

Whether it’s letting people set up new schools: take over the running of playgrounds, parks and post offices, hold beat meetings so they can ask police officers what they’re doing or plan the look, size, shape and feel of local developments – we believe in changing the way our country is run.

But let me say this.

Yes, we’re giving you this power. And yes, we’re doing that because we trust you.

But no, that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be a frank exchange of views between us.

Of course, the only people you have to answer to are your voters.

The same is true for us in Central government.

But I’m happy for you to turn round and say so when you think we in central government have the wrong priorities.

And if I see things you’re doing that I don’t like, I think you should be comfortable if I make my opinions known too.

That doesn’t mean I want us locking horns on an ongoing basis.

In fact quite the opposite.

I hope our relationship can be as constructive and co-operative as possible

But we live in a new world of council power and it’s time for a new relationship between central and local government, based on our new responsibilities.

Public Service Pensions

So I’ve said something about the great job you’re doing.

I now want to turn to a job we’ve got to do together – and that is reforming public service pensions.

Over the past few months, I believe we have been acting in good faith on this issue.

We asked Lord Hutton, a Labour peer – and a former Work and Pensions Secretary with a brilliant understanding of the detail – to conduct the Review.

We wanted him to build proposals that would be well thought through and maximise the chance cross-party consensus.

And we have met with union leaders regularly to discuss the issues in a good, open, frank and respectful fashion – and will continue to do so.

Of course, because it is a funded scheme, the Local Government Pension Scheme is different from other public sector pension schemes.

That’s why we will have a more in-depth discussion with local government unions and the TUC about how we take this into account.

But the broad thrust of the wider reforms we are proposing will affect people in this room and your workforces.

So it’s right that I speak about this issue here – and it’s right that I speak about it now.

In two days time, a minority of unions will go on strike in opposition to our proposals.

Of course, in a democracy, people can go out and protest.

But the people marching should know what they’re objecting to, and I believe there are some misconceptions flying around.

So today, I want to tell you the three things people need to know.

One – reform is essential.

Two – our proposals are fair on the taxpayer.

Three – our proposals are fair on public sector workers.

Let me take each in turn.


First, reform is essential because we just can’t go on as we are.

That’s not because, as some people say, public service pensions are ridiculously generous.

In fact, around half of public service pensioners receive less than £6,000 a year.

No. The reason we can’t go on as we are is because as the baby boomers retire – and thankfully live longer – the pension system is in danger of going broke.

Here’s a key fact.

In the 1970s, when a civil servant say retired at sixty, they could expect to claim a pension for around twenty years.

Today, when they retire at sixty, they can expect to claim a pension for nearly thirty years – about a fifty percent increase on before.

Now, obviously, more people living for longer is a great development for society.

But more people claiming their pension for longer has a real life impact on our ability to pay for pensions.

Indeed, we are already seeing the impact.

In 2009, total payments to public service pensioners and their dependents were almost £32 billion – an increase of a third, even after allowing for inflation, compared to 1999.

So what are we going to do?

In the words of Lord Hutton, “the responsible thing to do is to accept that because we are living longer we should work for longer”.

That’s why we are proposing to increase the age when public sector employees can take their pension.

Now, I know some people say this change should only affect new entrants to the pension scheme.

But I’m sorry, I just don’t think that’s right.

It’s not just the people who are joining the workforce now who are living longer.

We’re all living longer – so we must all play our part in dealing with this problem.

Fair for taxpayer

The second thing people need to know is that our proposals are fair on other taxpayers.

Under the current system, the balance between what public sector employees pay in to their pensions and what the taxpayer contributes is getting massively out of kilter.

Take, for example, the Civil Service Pensions Scheme.

Today, employees contribute around 1.5 and 3.5 percent towards their own pension.

The taxpayer, however, contributes nineteen percent.

Indeed, in total, the taxpayer currently contributes over two-thirds of the costs of maintaining public sector pensions.

That’s the equivalent of £1,000 a household.

That figure is only expected to rise.

Is that a fair?

I don’t believe it is, especially when people in the private sector are seeing the value of their own pensions falling, their own pension age rise – and when, according to the Office for National Statistics, the average gross pay in the public sector is now higher than in the private sector.

So we need to rebalance the system.

That’s why from April next year, we are proposing to increase the contributions public sector workers have to make to their pension.

And because we really want to protect the lower paid, we propose not to increase contributions at all for those earning £15,000 or less a year.

Fair on public sector workers

Third, our proposals are also fair on public sector workers.

Now I know a lot of people are hearing scare stories about our proposals – about how we are closing defined benefit schemes and replacing them with defined contribution schemes.

Well, here is the plain, irreducible truth: public service pension schemes will remain defined benefit.

This means every public sector worker will receive a guaranteed amount in retirement – not an uncertain amount based on the value of an investment fund like most people in the private sector.

Any suggestion otherwise is completely untrue.

And any suggestion that we are stripping workers of the benefits they have already accumulated is untrue too.

With our proposals, what you have already earned, you will keep.

We will protect, in full, the pension you have already built up, and we will maintain the final salary link for these benefits.

What would this mean in practice?

It means the ‘final salary’ which is used to calculate your pension will not be the salary you’re on now, will not be the salary you have when the new scheme comes in – it will be the one you have when you eventually decide to retire or leave the scheme altogether.

And for what you have already built up, the age at which you can claim those benefits is not changing.

That part of your pension, those past entitlements – what they allow you to have, are yours and they will not change.

So those people who are claiming otherwise are not just getting their facts wrong, they are giving really bad advice to teachers, nurses and the police officers who are wondering whether to continue with their pension.

Let me tell you how it is.

Anyone with a public service career ahead of them who carries on contributing to their pension will be better off for doing so. Fact

Defined benefit is staying. Fact.

Your pre-reform entitlements are being fully protected. What you have earned you will keep. Fact.

That’s why I can look you in the eye and say public service pensions will remain among the very best, much better, indeed, than for many private sector workers.

And it’s because we are determined to do what’s fair by people who work in the public sector that we are suggesting other changes.

The public service pensions system today is inherently biased against some of the lowest paid workers.

That’s because, under a final salary scheme, it’s the people who reach very high salaries at the end of their careers who benefit the most.

Yes, these are talented people. And yes, they are hugely important to the running of our public services.

But the way the system works, it’s not the community nurse who retires on a final salary of £28,000 who gets the benefit…

…but the hospital consultant who leaves on a final salary of £110,000.

Indeed, in some instances, for every £100 they put in their pension, higher earners can get twice as much out.

Is this fair?

No. It’s not.

So again, in accordance with the recommendations of Lord Hutton, we are proposing to replace the final salary scheme with a Career Average scheme.

This would mean that the lowest-paid do not subsidise those individuals who jump to higher salaries in the last few years of their career.

And it would mean that everyone will get broadly the same amount for every pound they put in.

This is not about saving money. It’s about doing what’s right and fair by you.

As Danny Alexander recently set out, our proposals mean that low and middle income workers will receive a pension that is at least as good as what they have now.


Let me end by saying this.

I know why people care so much about this issue.

The provision of good, high quality public service pensions goes to the heart of the kind of society we are.

It’s a vital part of the contract between all those who work in our schools and hospitals, fire stations and police stations, councils and prisons, and the rest of the country.

It’s about saying: you’ve spent your career serving others; so we will look after you in old age.

And I am determined to not just meet that contract, but to strengthen it.

But here’s the truth.

That won’t happen if we delay action, or even worse refuse to act.

All that will mean is a worse pension system in five, ten, fifteen years time as the obligations become unaffordable.

The fact is we will only meet and strengthen that contract through change.

And the changes we propose are a good deal.

They are fair for the lower paid and fair on the taxpayer.

They secure affordable pensions not just now, but for decades to come.

And they mean public service pensions will remain among the very best available.

So to those considering strike action, at a time when discussions are ongoing, I would say to you: these strikes are wrong – for you, for the people you serve, for the good of the country.

It’s the changes we propose that are right.

Right for the long-term.

Right by the taxpayer.

And most crucially of all, right by you.

David Cameron – 2011 Speech on the National Health Service


Below is the text of a speech made by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, on the future of the NHS, made on the 7th June 2011.

Three weeks ago, I made the case for change in our NHS.

I said we would be kidding ourselves if we thought we could simply stick with the status quo.

We need to change the NHS to make it work better today.

Yes, in many ways the NHS is providing some of the best service it ever has.

But we have to be honest.

We’re wasting too much money on empty bureaucracy when it could be spent on the frontline.

In the past two decades, NHS spending has more than doubled in real terms from £38bn to £103bn.

That injection of money has been right – but can we really say that the improvement in service has reflected that increase?

Can we really say we’re getting value for every pound that we spend?

We’re also getting too much difference in the quality of services people receive – a great gap between the best and the rest.

We’re seeing a deep divide between health and social care that is causing serious problems for vulnerable, often elderly, people and their families.

We’re hearing too many stories about patients being moved from pillar to post…

  • getting lost in a labyrinth of letters and appointments and referrals…
  • when what they really want is to be in the driving seat.

We’re still behind some of our European neighbours on treating the big killers like cancer and respiratory disease.

And we’re also – and let’s not deny it – seeing damning reports which found the standard of care in some of hospitals was appalling, with elderly patients left unfed and unwashed.

That’s why we need change today.

But just as importantly, we have to change the NHS to avoid a crisis tomorrow too.

This is what will happen if we don’t.

More over-stretch, more over-crowding, the NHS buckling under the pressure of an ageing population and the rising cost of treatments.

  • and the principle we all hold dear, and we all want to keep
  • of free healthcare for all who need it, when they need it
  • that precious principle coming under threat.

We cannot let that happen, and we will not let that happen.

So that’s why we need change.

Today, I want to focus my remarks on what that change should be.

I want us to make sure we pursue the right change, and deliver it in the right way.

That means taking people with us – the public who use the NHS, and the professionals who make it what it is.

We recognise that many people have had concerns about what we were doing.

That’s why for the past two months, Andrew Lansley, Nick Clegg and I have been taking time to pause, listen, reflect on and improve our plans for NHS modernisation.

This has been a genuine chance for people to get involved and make a difference.

  • to have their voice heard and opinions known
  • and to work together to strengthen the institution we all love and hold dear – our National Health Service.

As a result, I think we’ve seen an important debate around our country.

  • whether it’s the searching analysis that some newspapers have carried out
  • or all the different television or radio programmes that have been devoted to the future of our NHS.

And a whole range of people are changing their view.

Before the pause, many were claiming the NHS is fine, and telling us not to touch it.

Now – whatever their views about how to do it, most agree that change is needed.

What’s more, a significant number are now more clearly on board with the thrust of what we are proposing.

In recent weeks, GPs representing 1,100 practices across England, the Association of Surgeons from Great Britain and Ireland and the Royal College of Surgeons have all written letters to national newspapers expressing support for the basis of our plans.

Patients groups like Saga and Age UK have also backed key parts of our plans.

And when I speak to patients and tell them about what drives our plans, there is a huge amount of support.

People want patients to be at the heart of the NHS, they want more choice and better value for money, they want us to focus on outcomes, and they want us to devolve responsibility to frontline clinicians…

…and I’m determined that we should not let them down.

The details of the reforms we’re bringing may be on the table…

…but our vision of an NHS that is more productive, more patient-friendly, more professionally-driven and more diverse is clear.

But at the same time we’ve learnt a lot about how to make our plans better.

Now, of course some people ask why didn’t we get everything right at the beginning?

I don’t see any point in being too defensive on this.

I know other governments would announce reforms, and just plough on regardless of the concerns people had…

…for fear of appearing indecisive or worrying about admitting something could be improved.

And I know that the media with their deadlines want everything fixed in 24 hours.

But this is too important to get wrong.

So I think it is right that we took some time.

The whole listening exercise has been overseen by the NHS Future Forum – an independent group of the country’s leading NHS professionals and patient representatives, led by the eminent Professor Steve Field.

I’m hugely grateful to Steve and the whole team for all the work they are doing.

They will report their conclusions next week.

I don’t know what they will recommend. And I don’t want to try to pre-empt or second guess that here today.

But I do want to talk about what I am learning from the listening exercise.

I’ve heard the passion of our nurses and doctors, radiographers and radiotherapists, physios and pharmacists, so today, let me tell you what needs to change in our plans.


First, I’ve heard doctors tell me they want more choice on behalf of their patients, but they want to be sure that competition is introduced in a properly managed and orderly way.

And I’ve heard our hospital doctors say they are incredibly proud of what they do and quite prepared to be judged one hospital against another, one team against another, but fear the situation where a new operator can come in without any of the NHS overheads, costs and pensions and cherry pick their simplest cases.

Now I do believe competition is a good thing. But not as an end in itself.

It is a means to give doctors more choice to get the best possible care for their patients, and for patients to have that choice too.

It is a means of bringing in fresh thinking, new ideas, different ways of doing things that deliver better and better value for money.

Put simply: competition is one way we can make things work better for patients.

This isn’t ideological theory.

A study published by the London School of Economics found hospitals in areas with more choice had lower death rates.

And there’s now real evidence that England is delivering more for its money than any of the devolved nations, in part because of the competitive reforms initiated by Tony Blair and Alan Milburn.

And allowing new organisations in isn’t anything particularly new either.

If you go abroad, to Sweden, to Germany, to Spain, you will see lots of different healthcare organisations providing care paid for by the state.

And our NHS too has always benefited from a mixed economy of providers.

Indeed, £1 in every £20 currently spent by the NHS goes to a private or voluntary sector provider.

Providers like the independent Horder Centre in East Sussex, which delivers orthopaedic care, and has high patient satisfaction, low rates of readmission, and excellent outcomes.

So new providers, more choice and competition raises standards and delivers values for money.

But people want to know what this does and does not mean.

So let me be clear: as long as I’m Prime Minister, yes, there will be, as there are now, private providers and voluntary providers.

But let me also be clear, no: we will not be selling off the NHS, we will not be moving towards an insurance scheme, we will not introduce an American-style private system.

In this country, we have this most wonderful, precious institution and idea.

That whenever you’re ill, however rich you are, you can walk into a hospital or surgery and get treated for free. No questions asked. No cash asked.

I will never put that at risk.

Now, as our legislation currently stands, Monitor, the health regulator, has a duty to promote competition.

This could be misinterpreted and we don’t want any doubt in anyone’s mind.

Monitor’s main duty is to protect and promote the interests of people who use health care services, and it will use competition as a means to that end. Not simply to promote it or prevent it, but to secure the services patients need.

It will be tasked with creating a genuine level playing field, so the best providers flourish and patients get a real choice.

And when I say that, I mean it.

I mean a genuine level playing field.

That’s why we will look to make sure private companies are only paid for the services they provide and that they contribute to the costs of training NHS staff.

I mean only the ‘best’ providers.

Every provider will need to meet the highest quality standards.

And I mean a real choice for patients.

This is absolutely central to my vision for the NHS.

This is a National Health Service, and I take the service part seriously.

Taxpayers put a lot of money into the NHS, it’s only right that when they use it, they should have the power to shape and design the healthcare they receive.

But there’s another argument to be made for real patient power.

When patients do have their say, and are able to make choices, it makes a massive difference.

When they get involved in their care they get better results, and they manage long-term conditions more successfully too.

I remember talking to a woman who injured her neck – but didn’t want to go through an operation and the long period of recuperation that would entail.

She was given a choice – so she opted for physio instead, and today she is leading a much better quality of life as a result.

So we are going to spread more of these choices and chances.

We’re saying that for the first time in the history of the NHS, you will be able to decide what will be the best service, best package of care that will allow you to lead independent lives, as long as that service meets NHS standards and NHS costs.

No decision about me, without me.

So be in no doubt, our changes will now secure:

Fair competition, not cherry picking.

Access to the best possible care in all cases, not just some.

Choice for patients, not competition for its own sake.

National Health Service

Second, I’ve heard the anger of our local authorities, our doctors and our patients about the current system, about how quality of care you receive depends too much on where you live, and they want to know if we will make things better.

Be in no doubt: we designed our changes to help reverse the great gap that currently exists between the best and the rest and ensure high-quality care for all.

If we’ve learnt anything these past years, it’s this: one-size-fits all monolithic state provision can actually entrench disadvantage and deepen the disparities in service between regions, classes and racial groups in our society.

With our plans, people will have the power to drive change in the NHS in their area through transparency, choice and competition.

When people – all people, not just rich people – have a real choice between providers, they can hold their local hospital to account.

When doctors see health outcome measures across the country in a full and open way, they can learn from each other.

A real race for excellence.

And when GPs are in control of their budgets, they can decide the best possible care for their patients and design health strategies that suit their local area.

But I’ve heard the concern that the direction is right but the pace is too fast.

What if some places, some practices aren’t ready?

Will we just let them flounder as others prosper?


We will make sure local commissioning only goes ahead when groups of GPs are good and ready, and we will give them the help they need to get there.

And the NHS Commissioning Board will oversee commissioning on behalf of the Secretary of State.

One organisation, working to one mandate, and responsible for delivering a clear set of outcomes across the country, providing the support to local commissioners, and carrying out commissioning themselves where necessary.

So that is why our plans will now mean:

A genuine National Health Service, underpinned by clear, national quality standards, which delivers high quality care for all.

Integrated care

Third, I’ve listened to patients who are keen to make sure that whatever happens their care is joined up, that they don’t have to put up with the frustrations they have today – with different appointments in different places, with different people, all to discuss the same thing.

And I’ve sat in hospitals and heard professionals who have dedicated their lives to the NHS, who are desperate that clinical decision making should replace bureaucratic decision making, but worry that only GPs will have responsibility and that will lead to a fundamental break and juncture between primary and secondary care.

That’s a message we’ve heard clearly from the Royal College of Nursing.

So let me be clear: we will not break up or hinder efficient and integrated care, we will improve it.

And that means making changes to our current proposals.

Hospital doctors and nurses will be involved in clinical commissioning.

We will also introduce clinical senates where groups of doctors and healthcare professionals come together to take an overview of the integration of care across a wide area.

And of course, where effective networks of clinicians already exist, we will support them, not reinvent the wheel.

And that’s not all.

Monitor will now have a new duty to support the integration of services – whether that’s between primary and secondary care, mental and physical care, or health and social care.

And health and well-being boards will help this further.

They will bring together everyone from NHS commissioning groups to adult social care specialists, children’s trusts and public health professionals to design local strategies for improving health and social care integration.

Integration is really important for our vision of the NHS.

If you’ve hurt your back, we want your GP and physio to talk to each other to find the best course of rehab.

And if you’ve got a longer term condition and need social care, we want local services to be actively involved in supporting you to stay as well as possible.

And when you come to the end of your life, we want your local hospital to work with you and your relatives to help co-ordinate your care in your final weeks and months.

That’s what we want. That’s what patients want.

So our changes will now secure:

Clinically led commissioning, not just GP commissioning.

And integration wherever appropriate.

Waiting times

Fourth, I’ve heard patients tell me just how big an impact the time they wait for their healthcare can have on their well-being, and how they worry that by scrapping the old targets we might lose control of waiting times.

I get that concern. I understand it.

Waiting times really matter.

If your mum or dad needs an operation, you want it done quickly and effectively.

I refuse to go back to the days when people had to wait for hours on end to be seen in A&E, or months and months to have surgery done.

So let me be absolutely clear: we won’t.

In fact, the whole point of our changes, the whole reason why transparency and choice are so important, is so that patients can hold the health service to account and get the care they demand, where they want, when they want.

That’s why we’re releasing a whole raft of information so you can compare and contrast different providers within the NHS – and make your decisions based no real solid evidence.

And that includes evidence and information on waiting times.

But we’re not going to leave anything to chance, especially as our changes are working their way through the system.

So we’re keeping the 18 week limit.

That’s in the NHS contract and constitution. And it’s staying.

And we’re not going to lose control of waiting times in A&E either.

The problem with the four hour waiting time target wasn’t that four hours is somehow not that long to wait, but rather that it was the only measure of what happened in A&E.

And this led to bizarre decision making, with people being admitted into hospital in order to avoid breaking the maximum waiting time when actually they just needed to be stabilised before being sent home, or people leaving without being seen and having to come back the next day.

I know that from my own experience.

So let me tell what we’re going to do.

Yes, we’ll continue to measure how long people are kept waiting in A&E.

Nurses and doctors said we should – and that’s what we’re doing.

But the difference is that we’re going to measure outcomes too, like re-attendance rates for the same problem.

A rigorous, relentless focus on the things that people really care about and that a good health service is all about – great outcomes and a great service.

So that’s what our changes will now secure:

Waiting times kept low.

A focus on outcomes.

A rounded view of what good healthcare means.

NHS spending

Finally, I’ve heard something else loud and clear, from patients and professionals, who are hearing talk about savings and efficiencies and think it is all smoke and mirrors and what we’re actually doing is making cuts.

Because other departments are making spending cuts, people assume these changes are about spending cuts too.

They’re not.

There will be no cuts in NHS spending.

Let me be absolutely clear.

This year, and the year after, and the year after that, the money going into the NHS will actually increase in real terms, with £11.5 billion more in cash for the NHS in 2015 than in 2010.

I repeat: we are not cutting the NHS. In fact, we are spending more on it.

That is the promise we made. That is the promise we have kept.

And it’s why every penny we save in eliminating waste and bureaucracy is going straight back on to the frontline. No ifs or buts.

But there’s a more important point I want to make about money and our NHS.

Every year without modernisation the costs escalate.

Demand pressures increase, driven by an ageing population and drug and alcohol abuse.

At the same time, there are supply-side pressures too, driven by new and expensive drugs and technologies.

We can’t pretend that the extra money we are putting in will be enough to meet the challenges.

We need modernization of the NHS to do that.

We need to reduce the demand for healthcare – which is why we are prioritising public health.

And we need to make the supply of healthcare more efficient –which is why we are opening up the system to new providers and putting clinicians in control.

So that’s what the broad thrust of our changes are about.


So I can guarantee you today:

We will not endanger universal coverage – we will make sure it remains a National Health Service.

We will not break up or hinder efficient and integrated care – we will improve it.

We will not lose control of waiting times– we will ensure they are kept low.

We will not cut spending on the NHS – we will increase it.

And if you’re worried that we are going to sell-off the NHS and create some American-style private system – we will not.

We will ensure competition benefits patients.

These are my five guarantees.

Guarantees you can hold me to and that I will be personally accountable for.

Yes, we will modernise the NHS – because changing the NHS today is the only way to protect the NHS for tomorrow.

And yes, we will stick by our core principles of an NHS that is more efficient, more transparent, and more diverse – principles we will extend across our public services through our upcoming White Paper so we improve them for everyone.

But I will make sure at all times that any of the changes we make to the NHS will always be consistent with upholding these five guarantees.

There can be no compromise on this.

It’s what patients expect.

It’s what doctors and nurses want. And it’s what this government will deliver.

David Cameron – 2011 Joint Press Conference with the Spanish Prime Minister


Below is the text of the joint press conference with David Cameron and the Spanish Prime Minister, held in London on 25th July 2011.

Prime Minister

Prime Minister Zapatero, José Luis, welcome to the UK. Great to have you here today. Great to welcome a friend and a colleague here to Number 10 Downing Street.

First of all, let me say that people in Norway are very much in our hearts and in our minds today. Everyone in Britain shares in the sorrow and the anger at the despicable killing that took place on Friday. Britain and Spain have both been victims of horrific acts of terrorism in the past and I know that both of us will be offering every support that we can to Norway in the days ahead. Britain has already provided police assistance and we’ll continue to offer our expertise and our moral support. Britain and Norway have been good allies and neighbours in very dark days before and we know that the resilience and the courage and the decency of our Norwegian friends will overcome this evil. After such a dreadful event, the British government must of course review our own security at home and that is what the National Security Council started to do this morning when we met.

In our talks today, Prime Minister Zapatero and I have discussed the security threats that we face; we’ve also talked about creating jobs and enhancing prosperity that our countries need, and we’ve also talked about protecting civilians in Libya and supporting democracy there, and finally we’ve discussed how we’re going to help people who are starving in the Horn of Africa.

On the economy, we discussed the decisive action that eurozone leaders took to support Greece last week. There’s no doubt that it’s in Britain’s interests for the euro to succeed and this is a significant step forward, but it must now be sustained to deliver the longer-term changes that we need to make the euro work. Britain and Spain also want to see quick, bold and practical action to get European economies growing and creating jobs, so we’ll work together in the EU to complete the single market in services, in energy and in the digital economy.

And we’ll also work together to deepen the trade and investment links between Britain and Spain. Already our trade is worth more than £30 billion every year and more than 3,500 British jobs are generated by Spanish investment. But we want to do more and this autumn we’re going to bring together leading business and policy makers to deliver an action plan to support business contact between our two economies.

Second, on Libya we agreed there’s been real progress. Libyans are pressing the regime back from the Jabal Nafusa, from Misrata, from Brega and over the weekend NATO successfully targeted Gaddafi’s forces that are terrorising Zlitan and the command complex in Tripoli from where the war has been waged. We have a real opportunity now to stop Gaddafi destroying his own country but we must keep up the pressure on all fronts until Libyans are safe. I welcome Spain’s commitment to continue its military role until we do so.

Finally, the famine in the Horn of Africa. It is, I believe, absolutely right that even in difficult times at home we help those who are facing starvation. Britain has led the way with assistance that will help two million people. The British people have given another £27 million of their own, but the UN still needs more than $300 million more in the next two months in Somalia. So I was very pleased to hear about the Spanish government’s new announcement of funding. It is now time for others who have the means, in Europe and elsewhere, to do more and I hope that today’s meeting in Rome will produce significant new contributions from other countries. We can still save millions of lives. People are starving. People are dying needlessly. We have the ability to help. Britain is playing its part; it’s now for other countries to do more and to play their part as well.

So we’ve had a really important set of discussions today and we’ll continue to build on the good relations between our two countries. And let me say, José Luis, as one of 12 million Britons who so often enjoy a warm welcome in Spain, it’s been good to return just a little bit of that hospitality to you, welcome you here today.

Prime Minister Zapatero

Thank you very much, David, for those words. First of all, I would also like to endorse David Cameron’s words and thoughts about what happened in Oslo yesterday. I did get a chance to give my condolences, the condolences on behalf of all of the people in Spain to the Norwegian Prime Minister for that tragedy, that appalling event. One single person killed so many innocent people. I think it’s one of the biggest tragedies that we have witnessed in decades. It is one of the most worrying and serious events that we have ever seen take place on European soil and I would just like to share two thoughts with you on this.

The first one, thinking about those 90 minutes that those people lived through on that island, those young people, those Norwegian citizens who saw how that massacre was taking place on such a massive scale. Thinking about that, this isn’t just another event; this is something extremely serious that requires a response, a European response, a shared response to defend freedom, to defend democracy and calling on people to rise up and fight radicalism, to respond against xenophobia. I think we in Europe have peace here and we should defend that peace; we should also defend peaceful coexistence and that is why I do hope that we will have a reaction from the whole of Europe and that we can actually mobilise our very highest civic values that we hold dear.

I think over the last few days in every corner of Europe people will have been sitting wondering, how can this happen? How can someone pick up a weapon of war and fire it, fire it so many times that they kill 85 or 90 people? It’s appalling. It’s such a dreadful, rare thing to happen. How can a human being do that? And when we ask ourselves and wonder how that could happen, how can somebody get so fanatic about things? People tend to answer when you ask that question ‘Well, he’s just mad; he’s crazy, he’s a madman.’ But I think that it’s not someone who is crazy who becomes a fanatic; it’s fanaticism that turns people crazy, that turns people into killers and this is a lesson I think we’ve learnt throughout history. Let’s not forget this lesson and let’s do everything that we can to be able to defend our position as Europeans and respond. That is why I really do endorse your thoughts and the sensitive words that we’ve just heard from you, Prime Minister.

So we’ve talked about Oslo; we’ve also had time during our meeting to talk about the economic situation in Europe. We’ve talked about that last Council meeting in the euro group. We’ve talked about international relations too. We’ve talked about the hotspots in the world today and of course we’ve also reviewed our bilateral relations. As for Europe, the economic situation in Europe – economic Europe – I told David Cameron what happened at the Council meeting, the meeting of the heads of state and government of the euro group, and I told him that we’d reached a very good deal – a very good deal – to make sure that Greek debt is sustainable, to make sure that everyone knows that Greece will be able to meet its commitments, that it will have the support of the European countries, and that will also be a very clear cut, defined, concrete participation on the part of the private sector in the deal, and that in addition the eurozone has reinforced its system of protection with powerful tools. There is now this mechanism that will allow us to buy up sovereign bonds in secondary markets. There’s the possibility that that will allow governments to lend, to recapitalise banks or establish preventive mechanisms.

Now, economic recovery is a long, tough road ahead of us everywhere and that is why we need to cooperate. We need to ensure that we build on and extend the single market and I know that both Spain and Great Britain are very interested in that taking place and that we need to ensure stability for the euro and that all of the polities working towards more integrated, more competitive markets, will take us in the direction of greater growth. But this is the most serious crisis that we’ve had to deal with for 80 years. That’s a fact. Therefore, it’s logical that it’s hard for us to get out of the crisis and it’s quite natural and logical for people to feel that we’re taking a long time to get out of that crisis and for growth to recover but that’s a fact.

Then turning to international politics, we’ve swapped views on Libya. We have to keep the pressure up, we have to keep defending and protecting civilians in Libya. We believe in the future of democracy in Libya and Spain ratifies its participation in the military operation in compliance with those UN resolutions. We’ve also talked about the Mediterranean, the Arab Spring. We’ve talked about Egypt and we agree as we’ve talked about the situation that we believe that the changes we’re seeing to the south of the Mediterranean are changes that will give a better future for people and will help us in the international order of things.

And then on bilateral relations I have to say that this country is where Spain has the most investment in the world; 15% of our investment abroad is in Great Britain. That shows you just how much we believe in Great Britain. Our biggest and best companies have come to Britain to invest. But there’s another figure which is also important: Great Britain is the country from which most tourists go to Spain. So we have shared leadership there. In fact, we’ll have a record-breaking figure for British tourists coming to Spain this year and I have to thank you for that, because so far this year the growth in British tourists coming to Spain is huge, it’s quite a striking figure. And tourism is helping us to achieve economic recovery. I do hope that trend continues then.

And of course, David, we always do whatever we can to ensure that you all feel very much at home in our country and we thank the Prime Minister very much for being one of those tourists who come to Spain. And I have invited him once again to come to Spain and get to know new areas, very attractive parts of Spain. And we’re very happy that the Deputy Prime Minister does actually come. I know there are a couple of reasons why the Deputy Prime Minister comes to Spain, but I have to say that our political relationship is very good and we have to ensure that our economic and commercial relationships also are as good as they are now. And once again, thank you, Prime Minister.

Prime Minister

Thank you very much. We’ve got time for some questions.


Prime Minister, the government’s new CONTEST anti-terror strategy has just one reference to the threat from right-wing extremism. Do you think Britain has been complacent about the threat and how do you think our strategy towards right-wing extremism should now change?

And Prime Minister Zapatero, you talked about needing to tackle the sort of fanaticism that we’ve seen. How do you think that should best be done?

Prime Minister

First of all, I don’t think we’ve been complacent. I mean, right-wing terrorist groups are mentioned in the CONTEST strategy; I mentioned them in my speech in Munich. It’s vitally important that we combat all forms of extremism and violent extremism, whether that’s coming from violent Islamic extremism or violent right-wing extremism. We have to combat all of those threats.

We had a meeting of the National Security Council this morning to look at what lessons we can learn from the dreadful, dreadful events in Norway. I mean, the killing is on a scale that frankly is hard to comprehend, as Prime Minister Zapatero has said. It is truly shocking and we really do stand with the Norwegian people at a time when they’re going to have to come to terms with an appalling scale of death and of tragedy.

What we spoke about this morning was really three things. First of all, Britain will do everything it can to help the Norwegians, whether that is police cooperation, intelligence cooperation and also giving them our moral and political support. They’re old friends and neighbours. We’re very close to them. We’ve been through difficult times together before and we stand with them.

The second thing is I think there are lots of technical lessons that I’m sure every country will want to learn and want to ask themselves: do we have the right warning systems in terms of when people are buying huge quantities of fertiliser? What more can we do to stop people getting hold of arms and ammunition? What can we do to make sure the police response times are as fast as they possibly can be? These are questions we ask in our National Security Council meeting, in our COBRA meetings all of the time and I’m asking those questions all over again so we get our response right.

The third area is clearly looking at extremist groups and violent extremist groups and asking ourselves are we doing everything we possibly can to understand who these people are, what the threat level is? There is already an effective unit in the Metropolitan Police, but we’re going to build that up, we’re going to do even more to make sure that we keep ourselves safe from these sorts of fanatics and I think it’s vitally important that as well as standing with the Norwegian people we ask ourselves all of these questions. That’s what the National Security Council is all about. Sitting round you’ve got the heads of the intelligence agencies, the heads of the police service in terms of Cressida Dick from the Met, you’ve got the Home Secretary and the other key ministers to make sure we do everything we can to try and keep our country safe and that’s exactly what people, I think, expect from a government at a time like this.

Prime Minister Zapatero

I think what I meant when I said we had to react against fanaticism is that we have to basically uphold our democratic convictions and I think those are convictions that are held by the great majority of European people and we have to do that with tenacity and determination and that’s a job that all governments and all political minds have to do. We have to condemn fanaticism. We have to condemn xenophobia. We have to condemn and denounce racism. We have to denounce and condemn all of those totalitarian ideologies that attack democratic institutions, the democratic representation of the people. And the extreme right recently, it’s true, has grown in popularity. We have to reinforce our security, our intelligence services. We have to also monitor the internet very closely because right now that is a huge area that we can use to collaborate on this issue. As the British Prime Minister has already said, all of us as democrats in Europe need to reaffirm our belief in democracy and I think Oslo may be the right place to do that. Let’s not wait for a next time. Let’s do something now.

We know that democracies are great systems because they give freedom for one and all, but they also need to have mechanisms: prevention mechanisms, resistance mechanisms. There are always people who are out to put an end to freedom, there are always people who want to pose their ideas on other people, that has always been the case and there have always been circumstances more and more propitious for that. I think we have to be very active as democrats to work against that now.


Good afternoon. I would like to ask both of you how you view the reaction of the markets following on from that euro-group Council meeting last week. And, to the Spanish Prime Minister, do you think measures such as the ones that are being put in practice here in Great Britain to actually stand up to the crisis, would they be bad if they were the same measures used by the PP in Spain?

And we have also heard, Spanish Prime Minister, that there may be a communiqué from ETA; do you think there will be any effect on the possible date for the next general election as a result?

Prime Minister Zapatero

First of all, a question about the measures that have already been implemented in the UK. It’s almost as if you are asking the British Prime Minister to give his view on the measures taken in Spain. Let’s be clear about this: all governments in this crisis, which is the most serious crisis we have had to face in 80 years, have to take measures that are not easy to take. They are not easy and each country has to take the measures that seem to be the most reasonable ones for that country.

I don’t know which measures will be implemented by the PP, the People’s Party, if in power; they haven’t actually said anything about those yet. But if you learn anything from this crisis, if there is any experience there, it is that there is solidarity out there. We have learnt that. Because it is a really, really tough thing to do to know that you are taking steps that may sometimes hurt. These are cutbacks. No one likes having to bring down the salaries that are being earned by public employees or not to put wages up, but all of these measures have been taken one way or another, in some form or other, in all countries.

And that question about the communiqué, the memorandum from ETA, I think this is just pure science fiction. It is science fiction in the point about whether it will affect the general election and, as for the future and our fight against ETA, my ideas are very clear on this; what you said is just pure science fiction.

Prime Minister

Let me answer the question. In terms of the response of the markets, I would say there has clearly been, particularly initially, some positive response. I think that is because the euro-group countries did more than the markets were expecting and I think there is an important lesson – that you have to get out in front and lead in terms of the response that you make.

I obviously wish the euro-group countries well; 40% of Britain’s exports go to eurozone countries, we want the eurozone to be a success. We think the real test, though, is going to be longer term; are eurozone countries putting in place the mechanisms to have more coordination and stronger policies between them? Because I think that’s the logic of a single currency; you have to start moving towards more single economic decision-making. I have always believed that is what the euro needs and that is one of the reasons why I didn’t want Britain to join, because I think we benefit from having our own economic policy designed here in the UK.

But the other key, I think, to success in the eurozone is going to be making sure their economies are competitive, that they go on reforming their labour markets, they go on making the structural reforms so that different countries can survive and thrive within a single currency. I think there are signs that that is happening, but that is going to be one of the long-term tests of whether the euro can really thrive and succeed.


Prime Minister, can I take you back to your comments about the National Security Council meeting? Anders Breivik has claimed that he was recruited by English right-wing extremists at a meeting in the UK in 2002; what advice or guidance did you get from your security chiefs, the police, at your meeting today? How seriously are you taking that claim? How concerned are you about it and what are you doing to investigate it?

And, if I could also just ask you a question about the economy, you have discussed that today; are we heading for a recession when the growth figures come out tomorrow and, if so, do you favour tax cuts or quantitative easing?

And, for the Spanish Prime Minister, if I may sir, you have talked about a very good deal, the euro bailout, but nevertheless, as you’ve just been asked, the markets have not reacted favourably. Does not the rejection of the market suggest that this is doomed to failure, this bailout? And perhaps on a happier note, following your remarks about tourism, should we assume that the British Prime Minster is taking his summer holiday in Spain this year?

Prime Minister

Thank you. First of all, the claims about this brutal murderer: we take those claims extremely seriously, we will look at all the aspects of those claims and we’ll work very, very closely with the Norwegians in terms of the police relationship, in terms of the security relationship and indeed the very strong political relationship that I have Jens Stoltenberg, and we will help them in every way that we can. We’re still investigating those claims so I don’t want to give you partial information and we want to get to the bottom of this before making more public announcements, but we take these things extremely seriously. And, as I say, the relationship between Britain and Norway is strong and we’ll make sure we cooperate in every way that we can.

In terms of growth, obviously you’ll have to wait for the figures that come out tomorrow. I mean what is clear is all over the world you’re seeing difficult conditions and it’s based on one simple word: debt. Debt levels in Europe, debt levels in America. Every time you switch on the television you can see countries and governments battling against debt and deficit. This is what José Luis and I have been talking about, the steps we have to take to bring our economies back from the brink and to reduce debt and deficit levels and start living within our means. That is the greatest threat our economies face.

And what I’d say about this government is over the last year we’ve taken decisive action that has taken Britain out of the danger zone in Europe. We’re not coupled with countries that have faced very, very difficult times in the markets, partly because we have a government that’s got on top of debt, got on top of deficit. And inevitably, when you have a situation where you’re recovering from a calamitous boom and bust, where we most over-leveraged banks, the most indebted households, we’d had the biggest boom and the biggest bust if you like, and we had an economy that was so unbalanced and our growth had been so based on such a narrow base of banking and housing and finance and immigration, rather than being more broadly based on manufacturing and technology and the industries of the future that clearly, that our path back to growth is a difficult one and has already been a difficult one.

But I’m confident we’re taking the right steps to get on top of our debts and our deficit, to take Britain out of the danger zone in Europe, to get our economy moving. You see half a million more jobs in the private sector compared with a year ago, so you are seeing successes, you can see growth in manufacturing and exports. The rebalancing of the economy we talked about in opposition as being necessary is beginning to get underway. But clearly this is a difficult process; everyone is finding that across Europe, but it’s quite clear here in Britain we’re making the right steps, taking the right measures to make sure we have a strong and healthy economy for the future.

You asked about tax cuts and spending increases, if you think about it there’s no country really that can afford another fiscal stimulus; they’ve all run out of money. There isn’t some great monetary stimulus you can give when interest rates are as low as they are. The right steps for an economy like ours is to get on top of your debt and your deficit and then make it a better place for businesses to grow and expand and employ people. And that’s what you see with our growth review where we’re going through every industry, every part of government and asking what can we do to make this a better place to start a business, to employ people, to expand, to invest, to grow? That’s what the government’s focused on and that is the right growth strategy for Britain. José Luis, over to you.

Prime Minister Zapatero

Thank you very much. Yes, the market-reaction question. I think, as always, we have to really look at what this deal means, that agreement that was reached by the euro group, heads of states and government, the leaders, with a certain amount of perspective. I think the markets need to understand, they need to realise, that this is a solid agreement, a very detailed agreement; that’s a very, very important fact.

With regard to the participation of the private sector in the deal there are figures there, specific figures assigned to each institution in agreement. And it’s also a very important deal because of the support, the financial commitment that governments have said they will give to ensure that Greece will be able to have sustainable situations. So we’ve had a couple of examples of this. One way or another Europe will not let Greece collapse, that’s the way things are. The euro zone, the euro area has said that the participation of the private sector in this Greek deal is an exceptional, unique case; it’s only for Greece. Why? Because of the volume of debt, because of the debt figures, the figures are huge, exceptionally big figures. But let me just repeat what I just said there: we won’t let Greece fall, and secondly the participation of the private sector is a unique, exclusive case.

And then the question about policies: the euro zone needs to continue to implement these policies and measures to ensure that the markets have confidence. Let me give you the figures for Spain. In 2009, Spain’s public deficit figure was 11.2%. We will finish this year, 2011, with a 6% public deficit figure. It’s been a lot of very hard work to bring it down, but it’s been absolutely essential to bring it down. I mean, just remember what happened in the crisis. Let me take you back through it. October 2008. This is just going back over the background to it. The financial crisis, and we had to go out there and bail out the banks, didn’t we, there was the credit crunch. That credit crunch sparked off an economic recession all over.

Once again, governments went out there to help and bail out the economy; there was public stimulus, fiscal stimulus, until we achieved that. And then the red light came on, the warning bells sounded, didn’t they? Because we couldn’t continue with that fiscal stimulus. So we had to step back and ensure that we could maintain the stability of our commitments to the public debt, and this is the same story, all the time, with each crisis. But I think the difference here is that we never had such a severe crisis as this one before, and if we hadn’t had the European Union and if we hadn’t had the euro area, the euro zone, and this ability to coordinate what we’re doing, to coordinate our decisions, this crisis would have had much more severe consequences for all of us, for those countries in the euro and those that are not in the euro.


Prime Minister, you said that we need a European response to what happened in Oslo, but I want to know what you’re thinking about specifically for Spain. I mean, you were mentioned in that manifesto, that pamphlet, and so what do you think about Spain? And also, have you talked about Gibraltar and in what terms have you talked about Gibraltar?

Prime Minister Zapatero

Well, our meeting was quite a dense meeting. We had lots of issues and as for Gibraltar our foreign minister, of course, talks to her counterpart in the British government and we will continue with this constructive spirit of dialogue in forthcoming days as usual.

Going back to Oslo, the thoughts I shared with you today about that tragedy in Oslo were quite serious thoughts because this tragedy was on such an inconceivable scale, wasn’t it? And when something like that happens and when we’ve seen this upsurge or rebirth of xenophobic ideas, when we’ve seen that happen in our old democratic Europe, then we have to react quickly. We can’t let time go by and let that carry on. So you’re asking me for my view on a reaction. I’m talking about a political reaction here, a political response of European leaders in which Spain would also cooperate. We’re also working together with the Norwegian intelligence services, of course, looking at a bit of the scope, but I’m talking more about a political response.

I think we, as political leaders, have to make a common statement – and I’m talking about progressive leaders, liberal leaders, conservative leaders, all leaders – we have to say that we stand with Norway, with the Norwegian democracy, with the victims of racism and xenophobia, and against intolerance. It’s the European Union that has to take the initiative, of course, and I have of course mentioned this already in Europe and I hope that there will be a follow-up to it. I think there has to be a follow-up to it. We cannot carry on with our day-to-day agenda as if this has just been one more event taking place in Europe. It’s not just one more event in Europe, just as it wasn’t in the case of those Islamic terrorist attacks that hit London, that hit Madrid. We need to have a solidarity-minded political response, and also a security and prevention response, but a political response is what I would hope would come out of the European Union and what all democratic systems in Europe need.

Prime Minister

Thank you very much indeed. Thank you for those questions and thank you for coming this afternoon. And now let’s go and meet one – we’ve spoken about tourism, we’re going to go and see one Spanish tourist who I hope isn’t returning to Spain straight away which is Cesc Fabregas, who is downstairs to see you.

David Cameron – 2011 Press Conference with the South African President


Below is the text of the press conference between the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and the South African President, Jacob Zuma, held on 18th July 2011 in Pretoria, South Africa.

President Jacob Zuma

Prime Minister, and ministers present, members of the media, I’m sure today as you know we are observing the birthday of our former President Nelson Mandela, and we all have to do 67 minutes and I hope you are doing the 67 minutes already here this morning as you are talking to us. But thank you very much.

We have met with the Prime Minister and we have welcomed him, very happy that he’s here with a very huge delegation, business delegation. I’ve had discussions on a number of issues, on trade matters in particular that featured very strongly in our delegations with our ministers, and we believe that the trade between the two countries is going very well but we still believe there’s much room for us to improve on what we are doing and we hope that our business people will certainly do so.

Very happy also on the support that has been given by the United Kingdom with regard to the tripartite trade area that has been opened in the continent of Africa. Almost more than half of the population of the continent is operating together, which is in keeping with today’s manner of doing things. You can no longer depend on your own borders and say that you are the only one important. We’ve got to deal with others. We discussed that very, very well and we are on the same view on that one.

Of course we also discussed international issues and some of the issues that featured in our discussions, one of them is Libya. We discussed the views of the AU, which I was able to put across to the minister and the Prime Minister, and the Prime Minister also put the position of the EU which is a position we all know as well. We discussed, but all of us feel that you need to resolve the Libyan question. How to resolve the Libyan question? That’s a matter that we think we need to talk about all the time, but it is an important issue and I was very happy to hear in some greater details how the EU look at the matter and I think we’re able to make the Prime Minister appreciate also what the AU looks at the matter. I think the discussion has helped really to make both of us understand where we come from.

We also talked about Zimbabwe. As you know, Zimbabwe will not be out of any agenda because it has been there for a number of years. It has been very difficult to deal with but we are making progress. I was able to report to the Prime Minister how far we’ve gone on this issue and what we expect, and we think we’ll be able to come back very well. So it has been a good meeting.

We are very happy that the Prime Minister came on this important day which is a historic day for us where we celebrate with our icon, Madiba, and I think the Prime Minister will have an opportunity also to do something, maybe 67 minutes somehow, to be part of the process but absolutely we are thrilled. We think this has been a very timely visit, working visit, by the Prime Minister. It will certainly take our relations very high level and we are happy also to see you guys in great numbers. This makes it even more important. Thank you very much, sir, thank you.

Prime Minister

Well, thank you. Thank you very much, President Zuma, for your very kind welcome this morning. The relationship between Britain and South Africa is strong but we are both committed to making it stronger still. And engagement between Britain and Africa as a whole I believe is more important than ever. In some parts of the continent we face the challenge of a starving Africa. In others – like here in South Africa – we are confronted by the opportunity of a booming Africa, and I want Britain to play a leading part in both of those situations.

First, on the terrible situation in the Horn of Africa. It is becoming increasingly clear that what we’re seeing today is the most catastrophic situation in that region for a generation. My development secretary, Andrew Mitchell, was there over the weekend and has briefed me here in South Africa in detail this morning. Tens of thousands may have died already, many of them children under five. And if we have learnt anything as a global community, it is that when we face this kind of crisis we must take urgent and decisive action. Britain is mobilising an extra £52 million of aid package for Somalia, Kenya and the refugees in the Ethiopian and Kenyan camps and I would urge those who are still considering their response to act without delay.

Second, we must also though seize the opportunity of a booming Africa where trade and growth can lift millions out of poverty and where Britain too can benefit from seizing the chance to increase its trade and investment. That is why I brought a top-flight delegation of British businesses to Africa and I wanted to come, Mr President, to South Africa first because this is the gateway to that new economic future. Britain is already South Africa’s biggest long-term foreign investor. Our trade is worth £9 billion a year and exports of British goods to South Africa in the first third of this year are up nearly 50% compared with the year before.

But President Zuma and I want to go further. Today we reaffirmed our commitment to double our bilateral trade by 2015 and we also talked about the great project to open up trade within Africa in which you have played such a huge part. An African free-trade area could increase GDP across Africa by as much as US$62 billion a year. That is $20 billion more than the world gives to Sub-Saharan Africa in aid. We had a good discussion today about how we can build on the tripartite agreement and I’ve set out how Britain will support this, investing in projects to build the key trade corridors and simplify and speed up border crossings.

As the President has said, we also had important discussions on developments in the Middle East, in North Africa and in Zimbabwe. We share the same strategic vision. We believe that people’s legitimate aspirations for a job and a voice must be met with reform and openness, not with repression and violence.

On Libya, I thanked President Zuma for South Africa’s support in securing United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973 and for his leadership in the African Union on this vital issue. Now, it is no secret that we have disagreed on some aspects of how to respond to violence in Libya but we are agreed on the immediate imperative that all sides must take every effort to avoid the loss of civilian life. We agree on the process needed, that the only safe and peaceful solution lies through a political transition, led and owned by the Libyan people and backed by the United Nations. And we agree on the ultimate destination: that Gaddafi must step aside to allow the people of Libya to decide their own future in a democratic and united Libya.

On Zimbabwe, we discussed how much we welcome the efforts of South Africa and the South African Development Community to achieve a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Zimbabwe. We support the efforts to agree a robust electoral roadmap in Zimbabwe based around a reformed constitution and credible elections. And as that roadmap delivers real political change, so Britain is ready to revisit the restrictive measures that have been put in place.

Finally, Mr President, let me say what a great honour it is to be in South Africa on President Mandela’s birthday. President Mandela is an inspiration to the world and as we celebrate his birthday and look back at just how far South Africa has come, so I believe we can look forward with confidence to an even better future for South Africa and her people. Thank you.

President Jacob Zuma

Thank you very much.


Prime Minister, first of all what is the difference between Sir Paul Stephenson employing Neil Wallis to do his PR and you employing Andy Coulson to do yours, apart from the fact that Andy Coulson is the one who has resigned over phone hacking? How do you respond to Sir Paul’s very barbed resignation statement making this point last night? Do you accept his claim that you would have been compromised if he’d told you about his links with Neil Wallis? Do you believe that the position of Assistant Commissioner John Yates is tenable? And finally, with so much that is going on in the United Kingdom at the moment, was it really wise to come to Africa on this trip?

And Mr President, can I ask you about Libya? David Cameron has made it very clear that Colonel Gaddafi must go, he must go now, he cannot be part of any political solution. Do you agree with him?

Prime Minister

Lots of questions; let me try to answer all of them. First of all, I think it is right for Britain to be engaged with South Africa and to be engaged with Africa as a whole. There is a huge opportunity for trade, for growth, for jobs – including jobs at home in the UK – and I think it is right for the British Prime Minister to be out there with British businesses trying to drum up export support and growth that will be good for both our countries.

I’d like to thank Sir Paul Stephenson for the great work he has done in policing over many, many years in the Metropolitan police force and elsewhere. And as I said to him on many occasions, but including on Tuesday night, the Metropolitan Police Service inquiry must go wherever the evidence leads. They should investigate without fear or favour. I have said that repeatedly, and it’s absolutely vital they feel that.

But I would say that the situation in the Metropolitan Police Service is really quite different to the situation in government, not least because the issues that the Metropolitan Police Service are looking at and the issues around them have had a direct bearing on public confidence into the police inquiry into the News of the World and indeed to the police themselves.

And for my part, what I would say is this: that we have taken very decisive action. We’ve set up a judicial inquiry that can look at all aspects of this issue. We have helped to ensure a large and properly resourced police investigation that can get to the bottom of what happened and the wrong-doing, and we’ve also demonstrated pretty much complete transparency in terms of media contact. We’ve also – I also – answered questions at length in the House of Commons last week, I don’t think leaving any question unanswered. But there are of course important issues today with the Home Secretary’s statement and there’ll also be Select Committee hearings on Tuesday. And I think it may well be right to have Parliament meet on Wednesday so I can make a further statement, update the House on the final parts of this judicial inquiry and answer any questions that arise from what is being announced today and tomorrow.

Above all, what I would say is that what matters most is that we ensure very swift and effective continuity at the Metropolitan Police Service so they do not miss a beat in terms of carrying out these vital investigations into what happened in the media and also what happened in the police service. And I have been in touch with Theresa May both last night and this morning and I know she’s having urgent conversations with the Mayor of London, with the Metropolitan Police Authority, so that every step can be taken to ensure continuity. That seems to me the thing that matters most of all.

And just to finally end of this point about the trip, just because you’re travelling to Africa doesn’t mean that you suddenly lose contact with your office. As I said, I’ve had discussions with my own office but also clearly with the Home Secretary to make sure that not only does the Metropolitan Police Service not miss a beat in this vital work, but the government is pressing ahead on all of the fronts that it needs to as I set out in my statement last week.


And John Yates?

Prime Minister

That is going to be a matter of course for the Metropolitan Police Authority; I think it is very important they carry out their work and there will be further meetings about that later today.

President Jacob Zuma

With regard to Libya and whether Gaddafi should go or not, our view is that firstly the Libyan people stood up to protest against the system and demanded change and I think everybody has supported the people who are demanding change so that there should be a democratic government.

What happened in the process, a conflict emerged where violence has been used and of course, once there was a fight, the AU took a very clear position that military intervention would not solve the problem; you needed political intervention. The AU has worked out a clear roadmap of what needs to be done and in the process of this it has interacted with the Libyan people. Both sides have been interacted with: on the Gaddafi side they accepted the AU proposals; on the NTC side, whilst accepting it they felt they have got a condition to put that Gaddafi must first go. That, I think, is the nub of your question.

We feel, as they African countries, the Libyan people must decide their destiny; they must negotiate and they must discuss any demand, any condition that is put forward. Gaddafi, on his side, has said he is not going to be part of the process that discusses the change in Libya; he will give it a chance. And he has accepted that anything including his own future.

So our view, from the AU point of view, is that what happens finally to Gaddafi must be as a result and an outcome of the Libyan people. Libyan people must decide this in the processes that bring about a new kind of dispensation in Libya. The view put by the NTC, I think supported by Europe, is that Gaddafi must go. Our view is that you need to negotiate how Gaddafi must go, where he must go, why he must go, and these issues must be put on the table. The Libyan people must decide and finally say, ‘We don’t want this system, we do not want this leader.’

I think that is where the differences are, but at the end we need to see a democratic Libya and we think that there is an element of what happens to a man who has ruled Libya for 42 years, and the demand is that he should go now, and we are saying it is not very easy to get the results before negotiating. That issue must be part of the issues on the table that must be decided, because if he goes now you have not even discussed and agreed on the conditions; where must he go, how must he go, what will happen to him at the end? That must be a product of negotiations. That is the position of the AU.


Prime Minister, Sir Paul Stephenson said that you have been compromised in your relationship with Andy Coulson and your friend Rebekah Brooks has been arrested. Do you think your position has been compromised? And is it now time to draw this trip to an end and for you to go back home and answer questions?

Prime Minister

First of all, let me deal with the visit to Africa. I think it is important for the Prime Minister to get out there with British business at a time when we need investment and growth and jobs back at home to see our exports expand, to open up new markets, to seek new contracts and new deals. That is what I have done in India, what I have done in China and now I am here in Africa. I think it is a good thing to do and I am going to press ahead with that. I think it is a worthwhile thing and Britain should not be put off that.

On the issue of the police investigation, I could not have been clearer that I think this police investigation needs to go wherever the evidence leads; the police should investigate this without fear or favour. I have said that publically many times, I have said it privately to the Metropolitan Police many times, and that is the job that they must do. Clearly it is now going to be taken on under new leadership and it is absolutely vital that the transition is as smooth as possible so they don’t miss anything in the vital work that they are doing.

But I would argue this point: in terms of Andy Coulson, no one has argued that the work he did in government in any way was inappropriate or bad. He worked well in government, he then left government. There is a contrast, I would say, with the situation at the Metropolitan Police where clearly at the Metropolitan Police the issues have been around whether or not the investigation is being pursued properly and that is why I think Sir Paul reached a different conclusion.

So I do not believe the two situations are the same in any shape or form and I think if you look at what the British government has done it has been very decisive in setting up the judicial inquiry, in making sure the police investigation is properly funded and carried out, in being transparent in all of the press contact we have had, and in answering questions from Parliament and others. That is why I am asking Parliament to sit an extra day on Wednesday so that I can make a new statement adding to the details of the judicial inquiry, answering any questions that come up from today’s announcements or indeed from tomorrow’s announcements.

Because what the government wants to do here is what I think the whole country wants to do, which is to make sure we sort out this issue, we have a proper police investigation, a proper inquiry into what went wrong at News International and News of the World, and proper arrangements for the future so that the contact between journalists and politicians is far more transparent than it is today. I have led the way in that by publishing all of the contacts that I have had with editors, proprietors, managers and the rest of it since the election in May 2010.


Prime Minister Cameron, on the Libyan question, NATO has ignored calls by the AU for a ceasefire to stop bombardment of targets in Libya to give way for political negotiations. Do you think that the country’s bombardment is still justified to this end, given the fact that it has now resulted in civilian casualties?

And to President Zuma, how are you going to be spending your 67 minutes today?

Prime Minister

First of all, on the point about a ceasefire, it is open to Gaddafi at any time to deliver a ceasefire by stopping the attacks on his own people, by withdrawing from the towns and cities that he attacked, and by returning his troops to barracks. He has occasionally announced a ceasefire, but all the time he is announcing it he is still shelling, killing, maiming and murdering his own citizens.

That is why there is a UN Security Council Resolution and that is why not just NATO allies but also Arab countries like the Qataris and others are involved in stopping those attacks on civilians. I think the President and I have spoken very frankly about this issue, about the areas where we agree; we both want to see a democratic Libya, its future decided by her own people, we both want to see an end to what we agree have been outrageous attacks by Gaddafi on his own people, and we both want to see a future for Libya that does not include Colonel Gaddafi.

The difference is that the President sees that as the outcome of a political process whereas I believe for a political process to work it has to be the starting point. That is the difference between us, that is the gap, but we have had very good discussions and I think a much better understanding of each other’s perspectives and understanding of these issues.

President Jacob Zuma

Before answering your question, just to comment also on what the Prime Minister has said. Absolutely, yes, we differ there. Also, we differ from the point of view that there is a need that violence must give way to negotiations, that as long as this violence – which includes bombing – does not stop, we will take a long time and we might devastate Libya. But if we allow the peace process, which is very clear, which involves the global players – AU, UN, EU, NATO, everybody – we don’t think we could fail to find a mechanism that could in fact have a ceasefire that could exist and be respected, and monitored by all while it is allowing the process to debate all the necessary issues, including the future of Gaddafi.

That is where we differ, but otherwise we all agree that we need change in Libya, we need a democratic government and we also support the call for Libyan people to have change in their country. Now that there is conflict, what do you do? The AU says, ‘Here is a roadmap, let the roadmap take the dominance.’ That is a point we think we still have to talk about and see whether we couldn’t close the gap, because it is necessary for us to do so for all of us.

This is one of the issues that has become a global issue, and therefore all of us should try to agree and persuade the two sides to be able to meet and talk and find a solution. And we could even have talks in different stages to discuss the obstacles, even before discussing the substantive issues which might include the demand whether Gaddafi goes or he does not.

I think the engagement between AU, UN and Europe is going to be very important to help the Libyan people who have locked horns in the manner in which they have, because we could help them to lessen the damage of the country and the destruction, the death of the civilians, and put in the political processes.

With regard to spending my 67 minutes, I will be in Liliesleaf Farm where I will start, where I will spend my 67, and I will end up by visiting Madiba at Qunu today to go to him to say ‘Happy Birthday’ and give him a present. Thank you very much.

David Cameron – 2011 Speech on Education


Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, to Norwich Free School in Norfolk on 9th September 2011.

Good morning and welcome, and thank you, Tania [Sidney-Roberts, principal of the Free School, Norwich], for that introduction.

I have to say that listening to you this morning has been completely inspiring.  Here we are in a completely new school, only open for five days, and you seem to have parents that are contented, you have got children that are learning and happy and safe, you have got massively oversubscribed, and many people wanting to send their children here, and already the head teacher said to me she is contemplating doing it all over again.  So, this is incredibly welcoming to Michael Gove and I to hear what a success this is proving to be, and we hope it is going to be replicated many, many times up and down the country.

Because this free school, like all the others, is born of a real passion for education – a belief in its power to change lives.  It’s a passion and a belief that this coalition absolutely shares.

We want to create an education system based on real excellence, with a complete intolerance of failure.  Yes, this is ambitious.  But frankly, today we’ve got to be ambitious.  We’ve got to be ambitious if we want to compete in the world.  When China is going through an educational renaissance, when India is churning out science graduates, any complacency right now would be completely fatal to our economic prospects.

And we’ve got to be ambitious, too, if we want to mend our broken society.  Because education doesn’t just give people the tools to make a good living – it gives them the character to live a good life, to be good citizens.  So, for the future of our economy, and for the future of our society, we need a first-class education for every child.

Now, of course, everyone is agreed about that.  The trouble is for years we’ve been bogged down in a great debate about how we get there.  Standards or structures?  Learning by rote or by play?  Elitism or all winning prizes?  Frankly, I think these debates are now over, because it’s clear what works.  Discipline works.  Rigour works.  Freedom for schools works.  Having high expectations works.  So now, frankly, we’ve got to get on with it, and we don’t have any time to lose.  Because every year that passes without proper reform is another year that tens of thousands of teenagers leave school without the qualifications they need.

So, there are three very bold things we’re doing.  One: ramping up standards, bringing back the values of a good education.  Two: changing the structure of education, allowing new providers in to start schools, providing more choice, more competition, and giving schools greater independence.  And three: we are confronting educational failure head-on.  This morning, I want to take each one in turn.

First, ramping up standards.

Now, a lot of people think this is all or mostly down to money, and yes, money is vital.  That’s why, despite all the pressures on the public finances, this government is protecting the current schools budget. But improving standards is not just about spending.  It’s not just about spending more.  Frankly, if it was, we’d have solved all the problems by now.  No, it is also about the values you bring to the classroom and it’s here we’re wasting no time in putting things right.  We believe that children need to grasp the basics at an early age.  As Michael Gove argued very powerfully last week, ‘You cannot read to learn until you have learnt to read.’  But today, one in six children leave primary school unable to read properly.

So, we’re acting.  We are bringing to a close the wrong-headed methods that have failed thousands of children, and we are making sure every school has the resources and every teacher the training to deliver effective synthetic phonics teaching in the classroom.  That is the method that is proven to work and that is how we can eliminate illiteracy in our country.  We also believe that when a child steps into the classroom, the most important thing that will determine their success is who the teacher is.  But in the past, I don’t think this country has done enough to attract and keep the best talent.

So again, we are acting.  When it comes to attracting them, we’ve expanded Teach First.  This is the programme that takes our best graduates and puts them straight into the classroom.  772 graduates are starting work this term – that’s 200 more than last year, including, for the first time, 85 in our primary schools.  What’s more, from next year, we want to introduce bursaries worth £20,000 for every maths or science graduate who has a first class degree who goes into teaching.  I believe that’s going to be a real incentive for the very brightest to teach our most important subjects.  And in order to foster talent, we’re planning to give schools more freedom to set their own pay structures, giving the teachers who add the most value the biggest rewards.

Now, of course, the flip side of this is that head teachers should also have the power to get rid of those who underperform as well.  So we’re going to make that easier too.  Now, I know this is difficult, but frankly, if it’s a choice between making sure our children get the highest quality teaching or some teachers changing career, I know what I choose.

Another value we passionately believe in is discipline, and we’re acting on it.  New powers for teachers to search for phones, video cameras, BlackBerrys – in fact, anything that is banned by the school rules. New rights for teachers to impose detention on the same day the rules are broken, rather than currently, where you have to give parents notice in advance.  New clarity on whether a teacher can physically intervene to maintain order.  We have made clear that no school should have a ‘no touch’ policy.  If the teacher feels they need to physically restrain a child, they should be able to do so.

But restoring discipline is also about what parents do.  We need parents to have a real stake in the discipline of their children and to face real consequences if their children continually misbehave.  That’s why I have asked our social policy review to look into whether we should cut the benefits of those parents whose children consistently and constantly play truant.  I know this would be a tough measure, but we urgently need to restore order and respect in the classroom and I don’t want ideas like this to be left off the table.

There’s something else we believe: that every child is different, with different interests and different talents.  That’s why we’re setting up university technical colleges, with longer hours, longer terms, a stretching technical curriculum and all the discipline of the workplace.  We are also setting up new studio schools, offering a unique way of learning rooted in the real world, with a tailored curriculum to those who will benefit from more practical learning, with support from skilled craftsmen and work experience with local employers.

But if you ask me, the most important value that we’re bringing back to education and the classroom is a commitment to rigour: rigorous subjects, tested in a rigorous way.  Because however well students perform in their exams, we cannot deny the reality of the past few years.  The number of people taking the core academic subjects, they went down.  The voices from business concerned about the usefulness of some of our exams, those voices grew louder.  Now, we are determined to stop this slide and already we’re making an impact.  Our new English Baccalaureate – the set of core subjects that colleges most like and employers most want – means that this September, for the first time in years, the proportion of pupils who are studying history, geography, a language and three sciences at GCSE, the number of those pupils is increasing.  What’s more, our curriculum review will mean we are really demanding in what we expect our children to learn: things like a real grounding in algebra in maths; the essential laws of science; the great works of English literature.  These should not be the preserve of the few; they should be there, taught for everyone.

And when it comes to testing them, we will be equally demanding.  We’re stopping modules, which let our children take and re-take exams throughout their GCSEs, and we’re making sure they take all their exam papers at the end of the course.  And we’re also making sure spelling, punctuation and grammar are properly taken into account when the marks are dished out.  This is vital.  It’s something that happens in the rest of your life, where you are judged on how you spell and the grammar you use in the letters you write, and what on earth are we doing if we don’t teach that right at the start, at school?  In every way we can, we are going to make our education system as robust as possible, with fewer, more rigorous exams, so it has the full confidence of employers, not just at home but around the world.

Everything I’ve spoken about so far is all about driving up standards.  But I think the truth is this: the way we make sure these things happen in every classroom, in every school, is also by changing the way education is delivered in our country.  It’s about changing the structure of education.  It’s about spreading choice, about giving schools more independence, and recognising the need for competition, so we create real and permanent pressure in the system to encourage schools to drive improvements every year.  And that is what we’re doing, and that is why it is so important to make this speech today, here in a free school.

Because instead of parents having to take what they are given, we are giving them real choice in where their child goes to school, and we are backing that decision with state money, also with an extra payment for those from the poorest backgrounds.  And to make that choice really meaningful, we are making everything that matters about our education system transparent.  The exam results of every school published.  The effectiveness of teaching published.  Truancy rates published.  It will all be there online so people have the information to choose.

There are also new freedoms for schools to turn into academies and improve standards the way they see fit, whether that’s through more extra-curricular activities or longer school days.  We know that schools want this.  In just a year, the enthusiasm of heads has meant we have created almost 1,000 new academies, and we know this works.  Just look, for instance, at St Alban’s ARK Academy in Birmingham.  When that school was under local authority control two years ago, 31 per cent of pupils got five good passes at GCSE including English and Maths.  Now, just two years later, that number has more than doubled to 68 per cent.  And what about the Harris Academy in Peckham, one of the most deprived parts of our country?  It has managed to increase the percentage of its pupils getting five good passes at GCSE, again including English and Maths, from 5 per cent to 50 per cent.  These are, I think, staggering figures, and I think they put beyond doubt this argument that academies, that independence, that choice really, really works.  Indeed, every single one of the schools that Lord Harris has taken over gets at least an additional 20 per cent or more young people to pass five good GCSEs compared to the record when it was run by the Local Authority.

Added to this choice and freedom, we are also bringing in the dynamic of competition.  This is in part what our free schools revolution is all about.  We’ve said to charities, to faith groups, businesses, community organisations, head teachers: come in and set up a great new school in the state sector.  And the response has been overwhelming: 24, including this one, opening this September.  We have got more than 200 applications for next year, and I believe this taken off in a way that no one predicted or no one thought possible.

Now, of course, as with any bold policy, free schools are not without their critics.  But let’s just look briefly at the arguments that are being used against them.  Some critics say these schools aren’t democratically accountable.  I would say: yes, they are.  They are accountable to every parent who chooses to send their child to that school.  Some critics say we don’t new schools; we just need to make existing schools better.  But I think this misses the point entirely, because free schools aren’t just giving parents who are frustrated with their local school a new chance of a better education.  They also encourage existing schools in the area to compete, to raise their game.  I expect that’s exactly what we will see right here.

And then some critics say free schools will harm the poorest.  I believe that is nonsense, and the evidence bears this out.  Half of the first tranche of free schools are in some of the most deprived parts of our country.  Isn’t the reality this: those opposing free schools are simply defending the establishment – the status quo – and a status quo that has failed too many pupils and infuriated too many parents for too long.  Those who support free schools are on the side of parents, charities and committed teachers who are trying to make things better, on the side of choice, freedom and competition that will really drive up standards in our education system.

By raising standards and changing structures we have a profound impact across our education system.  But inevitably, and we know this from history, some schools will slip through the cracks.  That is why we’re doing the third thing I mentioned at the beginning.  We are intervening to sort out failure wherever we find it.  For a long time in our country there has been a scandalous acceptance of under-performing schools.  It’s the attitude that says some schools – and let’s be frank, people normally say this about schools in the poorest areas – will always be bad.  I think this is so wrong.  It meekly accepts educational failure as a fact of life, and I think that is patronising nonsense.

So as I’m in a school today, let me, as it were, spell it out.  There will be no more excuses for failure with this government.  We are being more honest about what constitutes a failing school and we are being more radical about how we are going to deal with them.  The last government deemed a secondary school to be failing if five good GCSE passes were achieved by less than 30 per cent of their pupils.  We thought that was far too low, so we’re raising the bar.  By the end of this Parliament, an underperforming, failing school will be deemed one where less than 50 per cent of pupils are getting five good GCSEs. And we’re introducing tough benchmarks for primary schools too.  For the first time, unless 60 per cent of their pupils achieve the accepted level – Level 4 – in English and maths at Key Stage 2, they will also be judged to be failing.

As well as being clearer about what constitutes failure, we’re acting more decisively to deal with it.  We are going to be demanding an improvement plan from the governing body or local authority in control of every failing school.  And if that plan isn’t good enough, we will be insisting on fresh, established leadership to turn that school around, whether that is from local academies or even private schools.  Our plans mean by the end of next year, we will have transformed around 150 secondaries and 200 failing primaries into academies.  And today we’re considering whether we need to go further and faster.

Because the truth is this: it is not just failing schools we need to tackle.  It is coasting schools, too: the ones whose results have either flat-lined, or where they haven’t improved as much as they could have done.  Just take this fact.  Take two schools: Burlington Danes Academy and Walworth Academy.  They are both in relatively deprived parts of inner London.  They have got a very high proportion of children on free school meals.  But you know what?  Last year, 70 per cent of children at Walworth and 75 per cent of children at Burlington Danes got five or more good GCSEs including English and Maths – 70 and 75 per cent.  Deprived areas of London, high levels of free school meals – that is what they achieved.

Now, compare that with Surrey and Oxfordshire – the two counties that Michael and I have the privilege to represent in Parliament.  Only 16 secondary state schools in these two relatively affluent counties did better than those two inner-city schools.  Let me put that the other way round: more than four out of five state schools in Surrey and Oxfordshire are doing worse than two state schools in relatively deprived parts of inner London.  That must be a wake-up call: a wake-up call to parents, to teachers, that there is a huge opportunity, not just to raise standards in our inner cities, which we are doing and is absolutely vital for social mobility, but an opportunity to raise standards right across our country.  In many parts of our country where people think the schools are doing a good job, they are, but they could be doing so much better.  That is what those figures tell us, and this government wants to drive that change.

Why is there this difference?  Why are these schools not doing even better?  As I have said, with us – and we see this, frankly, as parents, as well as politicians, Michael and I – we want to see every school striving for excellence.  And let me be clear that we are looking at raising the official standards, below which no school can fall, even further.  So, be in no doubt: where there is failure, we’re confronting it; where there is complacency, in coasting schools, we will help deal with it.  And where there is excellence in education, whether it is an academy school, a local authority school or a private school, we are absolutely determined to celebrate that excellence and to spread it.

So, I hope I’ve conveyed to you today this government’s level of ambition.  A belief in excellence, a complete intolerance of failure, and an ambition that every child is taught to the best of their abilities.  And to those who say this is unrealistic or impossible, I say this is perfectly realistic; it is totally possible.  Britain is a modern, developed country.  If they’re seeing excellence in standards in cities like Shanghai, why can’t we see that in cities like London, Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham?  If they’re soaring up through the world rankings in countries like Estonia, why can’t we soar up the rankings right here in Britain?  If they are making huge strides in science and maths in India, what on earth is stopping us?  We’ve got the resources, we’ve got fantastic teachers, and as I’ve tried to demonstrate today, we know what works in improving education.  Now all we need is the will and the energy to make that happen.  I can tell you that this government under this Prime Minister has got that will and that energy and passion to help make it happen.  Thank you very much indeed for listening.


Prime Minister, I welcome your comments about freedoms given to schools. I also understand with freedoms there is also the rigour of the accountability measures.  The English Baccalaureate is a very particular measure and I can understand English and Maths and science; I do wonder whether RE should be included within the English Baccalaureate as a humanity for the purposes of that qualification?

Prime Minister

Well, you’re not alone; in fact there’s been a concerted write-in campaign to Members of Parliament from churches, charities and others suggesting this. I don’t have a closed mind on this.  But the balance here is to have something in the English Baccalaureate which is, as I said in my speech, is those set of subjects that colleges really want to know about, that employers are enthusiastic about to have a sort of quality benchmark going through the system.  There’s a balance between that and then achieving what many different groups want: ‘Well, can we have this subject in or that subject in?’  So I think we can keep an open mind, but I think it was right to start with a pretty strict list of subjects that, as I said, most colleges and employers say, ‘Well, those are the absolutely essential ones I want to know about’.


Thank you, Prime Minister.  What a refreshing pleasure to hear you.  Foundation and Aided National Schools Association would like to commend you for the autonomy you’ve already given converter academies.  We’d like to recommend even greater autonomy, perhaps thinking about a national funding formula.

Prime Minister

Yes.  Now, this is a very difficult issue.  On a sort of logical level it’s very easy because I think Michael and I, the coalition, everyone wants to see a really simple way of funding schools so that head teachers know what the amount per pupil is that follows the pupil through the door.  That’s for many reasons.  One is we should be trusting head teachers with the money for how it should be spent rather than endlessly giving them lots of segmented grants.

Secondly, it gives them certainty.  If you know, as in this school, 24 children coming into your reception every year, you know how the build-up of per-pupil money is going to grow.  Fairness: it seems fair, doesn’t it, that every child is worth the same amount of money and so every child should get the same amount of money following them through the door of their school.  So the theory of more per-pupil funding, more clarity about education funding, I’m absolutely on board for.

The problem is that obviously you inherit a system that has had a million and ten different things done to it over the years, lots of different grants, lots of different calculations, lots of different funding formulas and so you don’t start with a blank sheet of paper.  But what I can say to you is that the idea of trying to make sure that the amount of funding per pupil is very clear, very transparent, very clear for the future, we’re absolutely on board for that and we’ll go on consulting and talking and listening about how the funding formula should work and the things that need to go into that funding formula, because clearly different areas do have some different needs.

I talked about levels of deprivation.  There are extra challenges in an inner-city school than there are, say, in some of the schools in my consistency, which is why I come back to this point about how remarkable it is that some of these inner-city schools are doing as well as they are.


Thank you, Prime Minister. With all these different new types of schools – studio schools, the UTCs, the free schools opening up – I was just going to ask if there is going to be any encouragement or incentives for further partnership with schools working together.  It feels a bit like a free for all at the moment and I was wondering if there was going to be any incentives in the future.

Prime Minister

Absolutely, that’s a very good question.  There are two sorts of partnership, aren’t there, in a way?  There’s those partnerships that sometimes government has some brilliant idea and says we’re going to force you all into a partnership and tries top down to tell you all what to do.  We’re not really in favour of that sort of partnership; we prefer the bottom-up sort of partnership where schools come together and decide to work together for a particular reason.

And I think when you look at the academy programme, for instance, you’re now seeing chains of academies – I mentioned the Harris Academies, the ARK Academies – you’re beginning to see really effective partnerships form.  Because they’re driven from what people want from the bottom up rather than imposed from the top down, they’re stronger.

And I think what we have to do is work out what our responsibility is.  It’s to fund education properly.  It’s to drive through this rigorous standards agenda that Michael’s department is doing.  It’s to open up education so that new ideas and new schools can emerge and come through.  And then it’s to be totally intolerant of failure; it’s to refuse to accept that a school should go on failing year after year the parents and the pupils.  Those are our duties and I think it’s perfectly all right to encourage partnership working and to discuss with you the sorts of ideas of things that might work.  But in the end the most enduring partnerships will be those that are formed from the bottom up.

I spent some of yesterday with The Girls’ Day School Trust, a classic example of a sort of chain of schools that’s very effective in the private sector.  I think we’re beginning to see some of those sorts of partnerships in the public sector, but let’s let them grow and develop of their own accord.  But we won’t stand in your way if you have good ideas for that sort of working.  We’ll help you to achieve that rather than put bureaucratic steps in your way.

Can I thank you all again very much for coming?  Can I thank Tania for hosting us?  Can I wish you well?  I think it’s an incredible enterprise that you’ve embarked on.  Walking around the school today was inspiring.  Above all talking to you and listening to you is inspiring. Thank you very much indeed.

David Cameron – 2011 Speech in Moscow


Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, in Moscow on 12th September 2011.

It’s great to be back in Moscow.  I first came to Russia as a student in the year between school and university and I took the Trans-Siberian Railway from Nakhodka to Moscow.  I went on to the Black Sea coast and when I was there two Russians, who spoke perfect English, turned up on a beach that was reserved for foreigners.  They took me out to lunch; they took me out to dinner.  They asked me intriguing questions about life in England, about what I thought about politics.  And when I got to university I told my tutor about this and he asked me whether I thought it was an interview.  Well, if it was, it seems I didn’t get the job.  My fortunes have improved a bit since then and so have those of Russia.

Moscow today is vibrant.  Gone are the utopian slogans and the empty streets and shops.  Today, Moscow is a bustling, colourful city that never sleeps.  Russians have far more freedom to travel and the internet offers the ability to communicate with the world in a way that would have been unimaginable back then.  Perhaps above all, there is a new energy here and with it a real sense of pride in Russia’s identity.

Now, the relationship between Britain and Russia has improved too, certainly since the tense period of the Cold War, but there does remain the strong sense that we are still competitors.  We both want the same things – prosperity, security – but we often behave as if we think we have to compete with each other in order to get them.  As if Britain’s prosperity comes at the expense of Russia’s and vice versa.  As if Britain being more secure means Russia being less secure.  As if every issue must involve one of us winning and the other losing and the only question, therefore, is who wins and by how much?

Now, my message today is very different to that.  Yes, of course, I accept that Britain and Russia have had a difficult relationship for some time and that we should be candid in areas where we still disagree, but I want to make the case this morning for a new approach based on cooperation.  Right now, we both face enormous challenges, from providing for our ageing populations and securing sustainable economic growth to protecting our countries against a global terrorist threat.  The countries that will be successful in the 21st century will not be those that hunker down, that pull up the drawbridge, that fail to overcome their differences with others.  The successful countries will be those that work together and look to people like you – young, ambitious, with a national pride but a global vision – to help shape their future.

So we face a choice: we can settle for the status quo where in too many areas we are in danger of working against each other and therefore both losing out, or we can take another path that is open to us – to cooperate, to work together and therefore both win.  Today, I want to make the case that – let me try this again carefully – Вместе мы сильнее: together we are stronger.  I studied economics not languages at university.  I think that’s probably apparent.  So let me start with the economy.

Now, some people talk about trade as a competition in which one country’s success is another country’s failure.  That if our exports grow then someone else’s will shrink.  But the whole point about trade is that we are baking a bigger cake and everyone can benefit from it and this is particularly true, perhaps, of Russia and Britain.  Russia is resource-rich and services-light whereas Britain is the opposite.  In fact, Britain is already one of the largest foreign direct investors in Russia and Russian companies already account for around a quarter of all foreign initial public offerings on the London Stock Exchange.  So we’re uniquely placed to help each other grow, but much of that growth won’t just happen of its own accord.  I believe we have to help make it happen by working together in three ways: first, by creating the best possible business environment for trade and investment; second, by developing our partnership in key growth sectors like science and innovation where Britain and Russia have particular complementary strengths; and third, by working together on the global stage to help create the stability and security on which our future prosperity depends, and I want to say a word briefly about each of those three.

Both our governments need to remember that businesses don’t have to invest in either of our countries, they choose to and we need to help them make that choice.  That means ensuring the effective and predictable rule of law, not least so that companies can be confident that payments will be made promptly and that contracts will be enforced.  It means getting to grips with our national finances so the budget deficits don’t undermine confidence and macroeconomic stability.  It means creating a workforce with the skills and creativity to compete in the 21st century.  And it means getting our tax rates low and competitive, minimising the burden of regulation so that business and entrepreneurship can flourish.

This has been a real priority for me since I took office over a year ago.  Britain has taken some really tough decisions to get to grips with a record budget deficit and we are working hard to create the best possible environment for business.  We are creating the most competitive corporate tax regime in the G20.  We are cutting the time it takes to set up a new business and we have issued a ‘one in, one out’ rule for regulation so that any minister who comes to me wanting to bring in a new regulation has to get rid of an existing one first.  Today, I believe Britain offers Russia the strongest business environment in Europe and the lowest barriers to entrepreneurship almost anywhere in the world.

We want to work with you to help strengthen Russia’s business environment too, so more British businesses can invest here, creating more jobs and better value products for Russian consumers and therefore more prosperity for all of us.  UK goods exports to Russia are already £3.5 billion; that is up 50% on the last year alone and they’re growing by almost two-thirds in the first half of this year.  We want to do everything we can now to build on this and take our trade and our investment to a new level.

That is why we will support Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation and it’s why I’ve brought with me such a strong British business delegation with companies like BP that is responsible for Russia’s biggest foreign investment.  Today, we are signing new deals worth £215 million, including Kingfisher opening nine new stores over the next three years, an important collaboration between Rolls-Royce and Rosatom on civil nuclear cooperation.  At the same time, we’ll also be – we will work to give small and medium-sized companies the chance to trade.  We should remember that it will be these companies not the biggest companies that will provide the lion’s share of the growth and jobs of the future, and what I said about choosing to invest and choosing to stay and the need for effective and predictable rule of law to ensure payments applies particularly to those small and medium-sized companies.

But opening up trade and investment is not enough on its own.  As governments, we need to support the innovation and entrepreneurship that can drive growth.  Vital to this, as Prime Minister Putin has said, are breakthrough ideas in science and technology.  In this UK-Russia Year of Space we are already seeing the foundations of great cooperation in medicine and satellite technology which is improving global disaster monitoring and earthquake predictions.  Go into a Russian secondary school this month and, for the first time, there are plastic display computers robust enough to be dropped on the ground, funded by RUSNANO and developed by Plastic Logic, a spinoff from Cambridge University.

Today also sees the launch of Pro Bono Bio, the result of a two-year Anglo-Russian project to create a new international pharmaceutical company with a unique humanitarian mission, offering free drug donations to Africa based on the sales of its products in Western Europe.  I believe we can do even more in this vital sector and many of you can play a role in helping us to do so.  In the UK, we are creating a tech hub, a Silicon Valley of our own in East London.  Here, President Medvedev has founded the Skolkovo Innovation City.  World-leading British universities including Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial and Glyndŵr in Wales will be working with Skolkovo on lasers, optics, nuclear and energy efficiency.

Of course, it is not just science and technology.  There are a whole range of sectors where we have complementary strengths which can boost our mutual prosperity, from supporting the modernisation of Russian railways to working together in the run up to the London Olympics and the Sochi Winter Olympics, where British companies are already working on the main stadia.  Cooperation rather than just competition is the way to stronger growth and prosperity for us all.

But we do not just share bilateral interests between Britain and Russia.  At the G20 we share an interest in strong and sustainable global growth.  We must address the economic and financial imbalances that brought the global economy to its knees only three years ago.  Russia and Britain can work together at the G20 to promote the global economic stability on which we all depend.

So how Britain and Russia work together really matters for the prosperity of all our people and the same is also true for security.  On geopolitics, many of our interests are actually much closer than we might think.  Whether we are talking about Islamic extremism, nuclear proliferation, counternarcotics, climate change, Britain and Russia actually share many of the same concerns.  Moscow and London have both been victims of horrific terrorist attacks.  We need to unite against the threat of terrorism and the warped ideology that underpins it, we need to work together with our international partners to prevent countries like Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and as new technologies develop to allow us to defend ourselves better against the threat of ballistic missiles from rogue states, we need to cooperate to ensure they make us all safer, not compete against each other in a new arms race.

We have shared interests in stability in the Middle East and North Africa too.  I know we have not always agreed, Britain and Russia, about how to achieve that stability.  Let me put my cards on the table: the view I have come to is that the stability of corrupt and violent repressive dictatorships in Middle Eastern states, like Gaddafi’s in Libya, is a false stability.  The transition to democracy may well have its difficulties and its dangers, but it is not only the best long-term path to peaceful progress, it is also a powerful alternative to the poisonous narrative of Islamist extremism that had poisoned so many young people’s minds.

I believe that Britain and Russia and the whole international community have a role to play in helping to support peace, stability and security across the Arab world.  Of course there are sceptics in both our countries who will doubt that we can ever get beyond the competitive ideological instincts of the past.  There are two groups in particular which I want to take on today; there are the Britain-sceptics, those who think that we will always clash because Britain cannot be trusted and that we will use the disagreements of the past as a pretext to put Russia down.  And then there are the Russia-sceptics, those who say that Russia should not modernise, should not innovate, should not open up to the outside world because modernisation will undermine stability and prosperity.

To the Britain-sceptics I say this: yes, there remain difficult issue that hamper mutual trust and cooperation, there are extradition cases Russia wants to pursue and we still disagree with you over the Litvinenko case.  On that, let me say this: our approach is simple and principled.  When a crime is committed that is a matter for the courts; it is their job to examine the evidence impartially and determine innocence or guilt.  The accused has a right to a fair trial, the victim and their family have a right to justice, it is the job of governments to help courts do their work and that will continue to be our approach. So we cannot pretend these differences do not exist.  We need to keep working for an honest and open dialogue to address them candidly, but at the same time we have a responsibility to recognise the many ways in which we do need each other, to end the old culture of tit for tat and find ways for us to work together to advance our mutual interests.

Now, to the Russia-sceptics who believe that modernisation will undermine stability and prosperity, I say take another look.  Modernisation is the only way to guarantee stability and prosperity.  President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin have been clear about this too.  Prime Minister Putin’s strategic goals for 2020 make clear the importance of effective market and government institutions.  President Medvedev has emphasised his focus on tackling corruption as being fundamental to Russia’s progress.  Back in June he said that Russia’s focus needs to include, and I quote, ‘Real progress in fighting corruption, establishment of a modern police force and other law enforcement agencies, and efforts to make the judicial system more effective.’

Let me say, from my own experience I have no illusions about how hard these issues can be.  In Britain we have our own serious challenges too.  The rule of law is vital; vital for foreign investment, for entrepreneurship and innovation, for people to be encouraged to start their own businesses.  They need to have faith that the state, the judiciary and the police will protect their hard work and not put the obstacles of bureaucracy, regulation or corruption in their way.

I have talked to many British businesses; I have no doubt about their ambition to work in Russia and it is also clear that the concerns that continue to make them hold back are real concerns.  They need to know that they can go to a court confident that a contract will be enforced objectively and that their assets and premises won’t be unlawfully taken away from them.  In the long run the rule of law is what delivers stability and security.  I believe the best guarantor of prosperity and stability is for economic and political progress and political openness to go step in step together.

When people get economically richer they make legitimate demands for political freedoms to match their economic freedoms.  And as they start to benefit from a free media, guaranteed human rights, the rule of law, and a greater stake in how their society is run so they will have the confidence and energy to invest in a new cycle of innovation and growth.  And that is something I believe to be true in every part of the world.

So I believe we can prove the sceptics wrong.  We can rebuild the relationship between Britain and Russia, working together to develop a modern and ambitious partnership which will help both our countries achieve a more prosperous and secure future.  Of course none of this will just happen; a new partnership requires bold decisions, it requires a commitment from both countries.  I am here today to make that commitment on behalf of Britain and I hope that Russia will match it.  In the last twenty years Russia and Britain have both come a long way but each largely on their own.  In the next twenty years I believe we can go very much further as we prove – and let me end trying once again – that Вместе мы сильнее.  Thank you.


Prime Minister, at what time and what stage of your life did you make up your mind to become a politician and why?

Prime Minister

Very good question. Certainly when I was here in 1985 when I was a student I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a politician; I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.  So there was for me no blinding moment when I thought, ‘That’s it, I want to be a politician’.  I think there was a growing view that the most important thing you can do in life is public service and politics is a good way of being in public service.  You’re both grappling with the big issues and problems that affect your country and your world but also you’re working with people and working for people at the same time.  And I worked for a Member of Parliament also between that year of school and university and saw a little bit about what politics involved and that triggered a growing interest that grew as I went through university and left university and then I decided I wanted to try myself to be in politics.  But as they say: if you go into politics, you should always have a second career as well just in case it doesn’t work out.


Many people who got an English visa always say that this procedure is very difficult.  Is it possible to simplify this procedure in the nearest future?

Prime Minister

That’s an important issue, the whole issue of visas between Britain and Russia.  I’ve been looking again at the statistics and there’s not a big difference between the number of visas that Britain issues to Russians and the number of visas that Russia issues to Britain.  And actually there’s not a big difference either in the prices that we both pay.  So of course we have to have effective border controls, both our countries.  We have to have an effective way of making sure that we have our borders under control.  We always can look at ways to make sure it is faster, more efficient but I think I’m right in saying that over the last year something like 96% of the visas that have been asked for by Russian citizens have been granted and I think most of them have been processed within 15 days, so we’ll always look at having an effective procedure but I think you’ll find the two systems are really quite similar for travel both ways.  But I’m sure it’s one of the many issues that I’ll be able to discuss with your President when we meet later today.


I’ve heard a little about the Big Society and I’m wondering how successful it’s been so far in the UK.

Prime Minister

Thank you.  Well, this is a very simple idea which I think can apply all across the world which is that we often think that only governments can deliver the things that we need: whether it is education; whether it is help for people who are in trouble; whether it is rehabilitation for drugs.  We often turn to government immediately to say ‘what’s the government doing?’ The whole idea behind the Big Society is to say actually when you look at many of these problems that need solutions, we often find it is churches, charities, voluntary bodies, community groups, people coming together to come up with new, innovative solutions that works best.  So the Big Society is all about saying, ‘How do we take that excellent practice that already exists and try and encourage it; try and boost it; try and help it deliver more; try and get rid of all the barriers in the way of voluntary bodies, charities, churches, community groups doing more.’

And that is what we’re doing in the UK.  We’re encouraging volunteering; we’re encouraging the voluntary sector; we’re trying to cut all the bureaucracy that gets in the way of people wanting to help each other.  And then we have one or two specific things that we’re doing that we believe will make a big difference.  So for instance we are establishing a Big Society Bank because if you ask charities, churches, voluntary groups ‘what is it that stops you doing the brilliant thing you’re doing in one area in lots of areas?’ They will say that unlike businesses, ‘We can’t get hold of loans, we can’t get hold of funding, we only get the money for one year – we need proper money so that we can expand our brilliant school or our drug rehab project or our community project’ and so this Big Society Bank will be able to lend them money so that they are able to expand and replicate what they do in many different parts of the country.

And why I think the Big Society concept will be taken on by many other countries in the world is that I think we all face two of the same problems.  Firstly, there is a limit to the amount of money that government can spend and raise to solve problems, and secondly, there are no end of problems that often get more complex, that need solutions.  And I think we all know in our own countries if you ask ‘which is the best organisation for rehousing the homeless; for tackling drug addiction; for helping children who are not getting on at school; for teaching people to read?’

When you ask that question, so often the answer is not the department of state that is responsible for it, but the brilliant charity that has started up and is actually solving those problems itself.  So, I think the concept of the Big Society is one that has existed for thousands of years in our societies, but it’s getting ever more relevant and it needs governments that understand that and that can help others to do good work, rather than to think governments do it all on their own.


You speak about Russian-English cooperation, but how could we improve this when Europe does not have any combined system of international relationships?  The USA deploys missiles in western countries. Can Europe answer to this challenge?

Prime Minister

Is it really possible for Britain and Russia, or America and Russia, who had such a difficult relationship for so many years – is it possible to have a much stronger relationship?  Well, my answer to that is yes, and for this very personal reason.  When I think about when I came to Russia in 1985, and you think of the huge gulf between us during the Cold War, coming into a country where I remember as I got off the train in Moscow I was met by someone I have never heard of before, but he wanted to know what was a British student doing in Moscow on his own and not as part of some tourist group. During the Cold War there was this incredibly frozen relationship where things couldn’t get better.  At that time, many people would have said, ‘This will go on for years.  This will go on forever.  There’s no reason why the Cold War will end.’  But it did end. Never believe that just because a relationship is difficult now it can’t be better in the future.  I think there are many reasons for optimism.

You mentioned the issue of missiles.  Again, I would say if you compare, when I was a student there was the deployment of Russian missiles, there was the deployment of cruise and Pershing missiles by the West.  There were growing tensions and growing arms races.  All that now has changed, so I don’t think you should be pessimistic at all about a proud, independent country like Russia, with its own nuclear deterrent, can’t have a good and strong relationship with a country like America or a country like Britain, France, Italy or Germany.  Obviously we have a huge amount of work to strengthen these relationships and there are all sorts of scepticism and mistrust on the path.  I think the whole point of visits like this and other people who’ve been to Russia is to try and break down some of those barriers and recognise that in international relations – after all, the relations between people in Russia and Britain are extremely strong, and so there is no reason why the relationships between the British government and the Russian government should not be stronger too.

That is the reason I have come here today.  In that spirit, I thank you very much for listening to my speech and for providing me with such good questions.  May I take the opportunity to wish all of you well in your studies here at Moscow University and wish you a very strong and prosperous future. Thank you very much indeed.

David Cameron – 2011 Press Conference Following G8 Summit


Below is a transcript of the press conference given by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, at the G8 Summit in Deauville, France on Friday, 27 May 2011.

This is the second G8 I’ve attended. The first focused very much on tackling deficits and getting the economy growing and this Summit reaffirmed the importance of that – including of course the need to complete the Doha trade round.

But this G8 focused predominantly on North Africa and the Middle East, while also reporting back on aid.

Middle East and North Africa

The big test for this G8 was whether we could respond to the momentous events we have seen in North Africa and the Middle East.

And I would argue that we have responded.

I said at the outset it was essential for us to give a clear message to those countries.

We will help you develop your democracies. We will help you achieve greater freedom. We will help you build your economies and develop the political parties, free media, and the fair and reliable courts that are the building blocks of what I call an open society.

That is exactly what has been agreed.

We agreed the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development should for the first time start lending to private enterprise in that region. The institution that helped to transform Eastern Europe now has a new mission.

Every G8 country now stands ready to open its markets to countries in the region committed to reform. This has been one of the most closed regions of the world to trade and investment. That is now going to change.

And we promised the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia that the international community would support their plans to create economic stability and prosperity for their people.

This support will initially be available to Egypt and Tunisia but will ultimately be there for any country in the region that embraces the path to democracy and reform – including, for example, Libya.

The Partnership we agreed today has taken months to put together and it has been a very personal mission for me.

Back in February I was the first leader to visit Cairo after the uprising. And I was the first to go the European Council to argue that the current European Neighbourhood Policy simply wasn’t working. I called explicitly for greater market access and for helping those countries that really try to reform rather than simply handing out money as Europe has done in the past.

This week the European Commission has responded to that call. More resources and more trade access for countries moving fastest towards reform.

Now there are those who argue these North African countries are not the poorest in the world, and that we should concentrate on our own affairs.

I reject this.

Be in no doubt. Get this wrong, fail to support these countries and we risk giving oxygen to the extremists who prey on the frustrations and aspirations of young people.

We would see more terrorism, more immigration, more instability coming from Europe’s southern border. And that affects us right back at home.

But get this right – support the Arab people in their aspirations and their hope for a better future will be our hope too.

  • their security will mean greater security for us…
  • and their prosperity, a more prosperous world for us all.

So this is an investment in success on which I believe the British people will see a return.

The Americans have made a big offer on relieving debt. We’re not a major creditor for the region, so we are making an offer focused on developing the institutions of genuine democracy and the know-how to create an open economy.

So, in addition to the assistance we’re making available through Europe, at this Summit, the UK has also made its own bi-lateral offer of £110 million over 4 years.

Today we have laid the foundations for an enduring partnership for the region. But it is the beginning of a process and the work must now go on in the weeks and months ahead to make sure it delivers.


In North Africa we are focused on the impact of aid to stabilise countries – much as we are in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Elsewhere it’s vital that we focus aid on things that are measurable, verifiable, results-driven and we target those things that people back home can clearly see making a difference.

Bednets to stop malaria. Vaccines to stop preventable diseases. Clean water. Making sure mothers don’t die in childbirth.

I remember as a young politician watching the Gleneagles summit and the Live8 concerts and thinking it was right that world leaders should have made those pledges so publicly.

I think when you make a promise like that to the poorest people in the world, you should keep it. And I am proud of the fact that Britain is doing just that.

But the reality is that as a whole, the G8 has not.

The Communique is clear on this.

Britain ensured the accountability report published at this Summit clearly shows what each country has – and has not – done to meet its aid commitments.

That means numbers in real terms not just cash terms.

And it means highlighting – not hiding – the $19 billion gap between what’s been expected and what has been delivered.

Britain will not balance its books on the backs of the poorest. We will be the first G8 country to hit the 0.7 per cent target by 2013.

Britain will keep its promises. And I was tough in urging my counterparts to keep theirs.

It’s not just about handing over money.

It’s also crucially about outcomes and getting value for money, about promoting trade and growth.

That’s why I pushed G8 leaders to endorse an ambitious vision for free trade in Africa – including practical action to open trade corridors and remove obstacles to trade and growth.

And it’s why I pushed hard for the G8 to support next month’s London conference for the Global Alliance for Vaccination and Immunisation, which should stop millions of children dying from totally preventable diseases like diarrhoea.

Britain will be prepared to increase our funding significantly. And I look forward to other countries doing the same.


Finally, I talked late last night with the four countries here which are taking part in active operations in Libya.

Two months into the operation we are entering a new phase.

First, we turned Qadhafi’s forces back at the gates of Benghazi to avert a bloody massacre.

Then we rallied to assist the brave defenders of Misurata and Brega.

Now there are signs that the momentum against Qadhafi is really building.

So it is right that we are ratcheting up the military, economic and political pressure on the Qadhafi regime so that we can enforce Resolution 1973.

We are stepping up the capability of NATO operations. Yesterday, we made the decision in principle that UK commanders should prepare to deploy UK Apache attack helicopters.

We are ramping up the economic pressure, choking the Qadhafi regime’s ability to get money to finance these attacks.

And we are expanding the broad international consensus against Qadhafi and in support of the opposition – the Transitional National Council in Benghazi.

Crucially, the G8 nations have today reached a unanimous and final verdict on Qadhafi and his regime.

The Communique says that Qadhafi has “lost all legitimacy. He has no future in a free, democratic Libya. He must go.”

Every G8 nation has signed up to this.

And we have all made a commitment to “support a political transition that reflects the will of the Libyan people.”

This has been a timely meeting at a critical moment.

The world’s most powerful nations have sent an unequivocal message to all those in the Middle East and North Africa who want greater democracy, freedom and civil rights – we are on your side.

These things aren’t just good for the Arab nations. They are good for us too. And that’s why Britain will continue to play its full part in helping the Arab people to fulfil their economic and political aspirations.

Thank you.

David Cameron – 2011 Address to the Northern Ireland Assembly


Below is the text of the address given by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, to the Northern Ireland Assembly on 9th June 2011.

Mr Speaker,

Thank you for your kind invitation to address the Assembly today and for the very generous welcome you have given me.

It gives me great pleasure to congratulate you on your re-election as Speaker, a role that you exercised with such distinction over the past four years.

The fact you will hand over the Speakership to a representative from a different tradition stands as an example of co-operation between parties that will be widely welcomed.

I know the calendar can have its own sensibilities in this part of the world, but it is an honour to address you on such an auspicious day, the ninth of June.

This is the feast day of St. Columba, who very specially symbolises the historic linkages and deep bonds between Britain and Ireland.

Born a Prince in Donegal, exiled in Iona, and honoured today in the Central Lobby of the Palace of Westminster, his monks provided not just an Irish national treasure, the Book of Kells, but also a British national treasure, the Lindisfarne Gospels.

And can I also say what an honour it is to stand here and speak in this historic chamber.

Of course I recognise that this is not a place without controversy.

In the past it was for some a guarantee of their place within the Union; for others a symbol of a state and a system from which they felt excluded.

I don’t intend to ignite that debate, but I am reminded of the words of King George V when he opened the Northern Ireland Parliament in 1921 and his appeal to all Irish men and women:

‘to stretch the hand of forbearance and conciliation, to forgive and forget, and to join in making for the land which they love a new era of peace, contentment, and goodwill.’

Nobody suggests that we have finally reached that point yet and that there aren’t significant challenges still to overcome.

But few can argue that we have not moved a long way towards it over the past two decades.

Two events last month stand testament to that.

The first was The Queen’s extraordinary and historic state visit to the Republic of Ireland.

Nobody who was with her could have been in the least doubt as to the genuine warmth of the welcome she received and also Her Majesty’s joy in being there.

Unthinkable just a decade ago, the visit was a hugely symbolic act of reconciliation and indicated the normalisation of relations between our two countries.

The second was the Assembly election itself, which passed off peacefully and in a relatively good-natured manner.

Indeed when I spoke to Peter Robinson and Martin McGuiness to congratulate them on their re-election, they both pointed out that it was rather more peaceful and good natured than the referendum on the Alternative Vote that we had just had.

That in itself is surely a sign of just how far Northern Ireland has come.

None of this could have happened without the extraordinary courage and commitment of people here, from all parties and all parts of the community, over many years.

I’d also like to pay tribute to successive Irish Governments without which the progress that has been made here would simply not have been possible:

  • to successive American administrations for their positive contributions at vital times…
  • and to my predecessors as Prime Minister, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and also to John Major who took some great risks to begin the process in the early 1990s.

My commitment

Mr Speaker, our task is to move Northern Ireland even further forward.

And today, I want to speak about what we must all do to achieve that.

There are some things you as Assembly Members here are responsible for.

There are some things Westminster is responsible for.

And there are things we must do together, working with our colleagues throughout Britain and Ireland.

I’d like to say a few words about each.

But before I do, let me say that my commitment to the health and well-being and to the success of Northern Ireland is heartfelt and sincere.

I am passionate about this part of the United Kingdom…

  • deeply mindful of history
  • and deeply determined to work with you towards a better future.

In my first week as Prime Minister, I visited Northern Ireland to reassure people of my support, and our coalition government’s support, for the devolved institutions and for all the agreements that have been signed to make sure we have peaceful progress.

When the Saville Inquiry reported its findings on the events of Bloody Sunday, I did not hesitate to apologise for the misdeeds that were carried out on that day which were unjustified and unjustifiable.

I did so in part to close a chapter on one the sorriest episodes in our country’s history.

But also because I knew we do not honour all those who have served with distinction in keeping the peace and upholding the rule of law in Northern Ireland by hiding from the truth.

And I have also held Cabinet discussions on tackling terrorism here, because I share the determination of this Assembly to defeat this threat and defeat all those who do not respect the democratic will of the people of Northern Ireland.

However, I do not view Northern Ireland through the prism of past and present security issues.

The linkages and connections between our peoples are so strong.

I love coming here whether it’s to see the opera, with, of course, Opera Northern Ireland launching their new season in Belfast today, or to walk through the beautiful Glens of Antrim, to swim off the Atlantic coast, or to hold Cameron Directs.

Indeed, I believe I am the first politician from Great Britain to hold that kind of public meeting here.

I will always be a great advocate of what Northern Ireland and the people who live here have to offer.

Shared future not shared out future

But Mr. Speaker, being an advocate of Northern Ireland, and wanting to see it progress, does not mean remaining silent on the problems that remain, and the responsibilities of the members of this Assembly.

I think I have a duty to give you my honest view.

Whether you serve here as a Minister, a member of a committee or as a backbench member, all of you carry the responsibility over the next four years of delivering real improvements to people’s lives.

Politics here is now more stable than for over a generation.

But as the institutions mature people will look for more than survival; there is now an ever greater expectation of delivery.

As in other parts of the UK, political institutions need to deliver or they will lose popular support.

So to match expectations, politics here will need to move beyond the peace process and a focus on narrow constitutional matters to the economic and social issues that affect people in their daily lives.

It doesn’t matter if people are from Coleraine or Cardiff, Birmingham or Ballymena, Arboath or Antrim, they all want the same things in life: the self-confidence that comes with work; the security that comes from safe streets, free from anti-social behaviour; the happiness and joy that comes from a stable home life.

And against a background of greater political stability there is a greater opportunity than ever before to put normal, mainstream politics first.

But if politics is about anything, it’s about public service on behalf of the whole community, not just those who vote for us.

And a crucial area where I believe we need to move beyond the peace process is in tackling the causes of division within society here.

Given the history of Northern Ireland I don’t for a minute underestimate the scale of the challenge.

But it is a depressing fact that since the 2006 St. Andrews Agreement the number of so-called ‘peace walls’ has increased from 37 to 48.

And it is disappointing that in too many places Protestant and Catholic communities remain largely segregated, sharing the same space but living their lives apart.

According to one survey the costs of division through the duplication of public services alone is around £1.5 billion a year.

But this not just about the economic cost, it’s about the social cost too.

It’s these divisions that help to sustain terrorism and other criminal activities particularly within deprived communities.

I acknowledge the work that the previous executive began on this through the Cohesion, Sharing and Integration Strategy, and welcome the fact that the new executive is committed to taking it forward.

Clearly, more needs to be done.

Most of the responsibilities for this, such as community relations policy, are devolved.

We will support you in whatever ways we can.

But this is something that’s mainly in your hands.

I am clear, though, that we cannot have a future in which everything in Northern Ireland is shared out on sectarian grounds.

Northern Ireland needs a genuinely shared future; not a shared out future.

Truth, respect, devolution

If that is your task, let me say something about mine.

I take my responsibilities for this part of the United Kingdom seriously, and I will stand by and stand up for you in every way I can.

I’ll always stand up for the truth, and be prepared to face up to difficult realities, however uncomfortable that might sometimes be for the UK Government.

I knew that dealing with the Saville Report would be one of my most important early responsibilities as Prime Minister.

And I did not put it off.

Through Saville, we’ve shown that where the State has acted wrongly, we will face up to, and account for, what we have done.

Others too must think about how to face up to their part in the mistakes and tragedies of the past.

In the memorable words of The Queen, we can all think of “things that might have been done differently, or not at all”.

But she also said that whilst we must respect this history, “we are not bound by it”.

We must all think about how together we can move on.

We owe it to the people of Northern Ireland to face forwards, and not endlessly examining events from before.

That does not mean I rule out any public inquiries in the future; but I stand by my pledge that there will be no more costly and open ended inquiries into the past.

I’ll stand by Northern Ireland in respect of your constitutional future too.

My views on the Union are well known.

And as I said at the election, as Prime Minister I will never be neutral in expressing my support for it.

For me what we can achieve together will always be greater than what we can do apart.

But as the Agreement makes very clear, the constitutional future of Northern Ireland does not rest in my hands, or those of the UK Government, whatever our preferences might be.

It rests in the hands of the people here.

So we will always back the democratic wishes of the people of Northern Ireland, whether that is to remain part of the United Kingdom, as is my strong wish, or whether it’s to be part of a united Ireland.

That is my absolute guarantee and a clear message to those who still seek to pursue their aims by violence.

I will also stand by the devolution settlement.

I want devolution to work, I believe in it heart and soul.

Neither I nor Owen Paterson have any desire to interfere in those matters that are rightly run by locally accountable politicians.

They are for you to decide according to your priorities.

The same applies to the future of the institutions here and how they might evolve.

The Government’s view is that, over time, we would like to see a more normal system, with a government and opposition, consistent with power-sharing and inclusiveness.

We agree with Bertie Ahern who said in 2008:

‘there will come a time when people say “you need an opposition, you need us and them”’.

But as I made clear at the General Election, we will make no changes without the agreement of the parties in this Assembly.

Economic realities

Mr. Speaker, standing by and standing up for Northern Ireland means something else: being realistic about the economic challenges faced by this part of our country.

Every time I come to Northern Ireland and see the great cranes of Harland and Wolff I’m conscious of your proud industrial past – even more so a week after the centenary of the launch of the Titanic.

Yet today, like many other parts of the UK and for reasons we all understand here, Northern Ireland is simply too dependent on the state for economic activity.

According to one report, around three-quarters of your GDP is accounted for by state spending.

At a time when we are dealing with the biggest budget deficit in our peacetime history, that is unsustainable and has to change.

We recognise the difficulties facing Northern Ireland as you chart a new, more sustainable, economic future requires us in Westminster to act responsibly.

That’s why we made sure Northern Ireland did proportionately better than other parts of the UK in the Spending Review.

By the end of this Parliament, the Northern Ireland resource Budget will have gone down by 6.9 per cent – or 1.7 per cent a year, far less than the 8.3 per cent UK average, or the cuts to most departments averaging nineteen percent.

And Northern Ireland continues to receive 25 per cent more per head in public spending than England.

But the days are over when the answer to every problem is simply to ask the Treasury for more money.

That applies here as much as it does in other parts of the UK.

So, like you, the Government is looking at new ways to revive the private sector and turning Northern Ireland into a dynamic, prosperous enterprise-led economy for the 21st century.

Don’t get me wrong. Northern Ireland is already a great location for investment.

You’ve got excellent transport connections to the rest of the UK, Ireland and the rest of Europe:

  • the English language, great education results, two brilliant universities…
  • highly competitive operating costs, 100 per cent broadband access…
  • Project Kelvin, linking North America, Northern Ireland and Western Europe…
  • a strongly pro-business climate led by the executive…
  • and, not least, the benefits of being part of the UK economy in which our structural deficit will be eliminated by 2015.

The challenge is to attract that investment.

Many of the powers to promote enterprise – such as education and training, planning and infrastructure – rest with you.

Others are the preserve of Westminster.

As part of the UK, Northern Ireland will benefit from the measures to promote growth that we’ve already announced, such as cuts in business taxes.

But I recognise that in Northern Ireland we need to go further.

You have two unique challenges – the legacy of violence and a land border with a state that has significantly lower corporate taxes.

The consultation paper launched in March and which runs to 24 June focused heavily on the possibility of devolving powers over corporation tax to this Assembly.

I’m not going to pre-judge the outcome of the consultation today, though I understand the strength of feeling within the main business organisations on this issue and across all political parties.

So I can assure you that the Chancellor and I will take the consultation seriously and give it proper consideration.

Security and terrorism

There are some areas where you are very much in the lead.

There are some areas where I am in the lead.

And there are some things we must do together like standing united against the threat of terrorism.

The murder of Ronan Kerr in April was a vile and cowardly act. Yet it was one of an increasing number of attacks that have taken place over the past two years.

These terrorists have no mandate. They offer nothing. And they will never succeed.

The people of Ireland, North and South, who backed the 1998 Agreement with such overwhelming democratic majorities will ensure that.

As will those from right across the community, including politicians and representatives of the GAA, who turned out with such respect at Ronan Kerr’s funeral.

Who here could fail to have been moved by the dignity and words of PC Kerr’s mother, when she said:

‘We were so proud of Ronan and all that he stood for. Don’t let his death be in vain.’

Tackling terrorism is a joint effort in which the Northern Ireland Executive has a crucial role to play.

For our part the UK Government has made the countering the terrorist threat here a top priority.

Within weeks of taking office last May we endorsed an additional £45 million for policing.

In March the Chancellor agreed to an exceptional four year deal that will give the PSNI access to a further £200 million as requested by the Chief Constable.

And of course we will continue the unprecedented co-operation that exists between ministers in London, Belfast and Dublin, and to support the superb links between the PSNI and Garda.

As the Garda Commissioner said after the tragic murder of Constable Kerr:

“Our uniforms may be woven from different cloth, but the police on this island are bound together by a shared resolve and determination”

I would like to thank all those who work tirelessly to protect the public here from terrorism.

This Government will continue to stand fully behind them in thwarting those who choose to attack the democratic will of the people of Northern Ireland.


Mr Speaker, I want to see a peaceful, stable and prosperous Northern Ireland for everybody:

  • a Northern Ireland in which everybody is treated with equal respect, whatever their community background or political aspiration…
  • a Northern Ireland that is inclusive, tolerant and outward looking
  • a Northern Ireland that sees its best days ahead rather than in a dim and distant past
  • a Northern Ireland in which everybody genuinely has a shared future.

And to achieve those objectives I am committed to working with all parties and with all parts of the community.

My door is open when circumstances require it.

We will never put narrow party or sectional interests above what we judge to be the interests of the community as a whole.

Huge strides forward have been taken in Northern Ireland over recent years:

  • the main paramilitary campaigns have ended…
  • stable, inclusive, devolved government has been restored…
  • the constitutional issue has been settled on the basis of consent…
  • relations across these islands have never been stronger.

It gives you the opportunity now to move on from the politics of endless negotiations, or of the latest political agreement, to making these institutions work to address people’s everyday concerns.

So let’s work together to make devolution a success.

Let’s work together to revive the economy. Let’s work together to build a shared future.

And in working together be assured that you have a Prime Minister, a Secretary of State and a Government that will always stand by the people here in Northern Ireland.

David Cameron – 2010 Speech on Tourism


Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, in London on 12th August 2010.

This is not a speech I had to make.  It’s a speech I wanted to make. I wanted to do it here, at the heart of the most internationally visited city in the world and I’m delighted that you’re all able to come.

I want to talk about just how incredibly important I think our tourism industry is and what we need to do now to make the most of it not just here in London but right across our country.

For too long tourism has been looked down on as a second class service sector.  That’s just wrong. Tourism is a fiercely competitive market, requiring skills, talent, enterprise and a government that backs Britain. It’s fundamental to the rebuilding and rebalancing of our economy.

It’s one of the best and fastest ways of generating the jobs we need so badly in this country. And it’s absolutely crucial to us making the most of the Olympics and indeed a whole decade of great international sport across Britain.  Let me explain.


First, our economy. Britain has to earn its way in the world. And that’s never been more true than right now as we fight to get to grips with the biggest deficit in the G20 and rebuild and rebalance our economy for a more sustainable future.

That’s why I’ve been visiting some of our great potential export markets in Turkey and India and why I’m also going to China later in the year.

We urgently need to advance our trade with the great emerging economies and to increase our exports all over the world.

I’ve already made a speech about the importance of rebalancing our economy and the vital role of supporting our growing industries, including aerospace, pharmaceuticals, high-value manufacturing, hi-tech engineering and low carbon technology.

But tell me this: which industry is our third highest export earner behind chemicals and financial services? Manufacturing? IT? Education? No, it’s tourism.   And it’s not just a great export earner. There’s also a huge domestic market too.

UK domestic tourists made 126 million overnight trips last year – spending £22 billion in the process. In total, tourism contributes £115 billion to our economy every year.  It employs nearly ten per cent of our national workforce.

And while London remains the country’s most prosperous tourist hub tourism is also a great employer in the regions.

Already tourism accounts for a quarter of all jobs in West Somerset. And for more than a tenth of all jobs in my own area of West Oxfordshire.  Look at how Liverpool benefited from being the European Cultural Capital in 2008.

Jobs in the city’s hotels and bars rose by over a quarter jobs in the creative industries increased by half and one million hotel beds were sold in the city. They say in business when you want to do better you can often do more with your biggest customers. The same is true of our industries. We can look to the best to do even more.

Tourism presents a huge economic opportunity.  Not just bringing business to Britain but right across Britain driving new growth in the regions and helping to deliver the rebalancing of our national economy that is so desperately needed.

Pride in our country

But tourism is about more than economics. We should be proud of our potential because we are proud of our country and what it has to offer.  I love going on holiday in Britain.

I’ve holidayed in Snowdonia, South Devon and North Cornwall, the Lake District, Norfolk, the Inner Hebrides, the Highlands of Scotland, the canals of Staffordshire to name just a few.

I love our varied seaside towns, from Oban to Llandudno, from Torquay to Deal. I love our historic monuments, our castles, country houses, churches, theatres and festivals.  Our beautiful beaches like the “East Asian” beach that Pierce Brosnan surfs on in Die Another Day which was actually Newquay.

Or the “Mediterranean” coastline that Gwyneth Paltrow was washed up on at the end of Shakespeare in Love which was actually Holkham beach in Norfolk where I went swimming one April.  I love our national parks, our hundreds of historic gardens and national network of waterways.  And our museums – including three of the five most visited art museums in the world right here in London – the British Museum, the National Gallery and the Tate Modern.

And of course here at the Serpentine Gallery where last year’s Pavilion by SANAA became the third most visited exhibition for architecture and design in the world and SANAA has just won this year’s prestigious Pritzker prize.

People sometimes characterise culture as a choice between old and new; between classical or pop, great heritage or modern art. But in Britain it’s not one or the other, it’s both.  It’s Glyndebourne and Glastonbury.  The Bristol Old Vic and the Edinburgh Fringe. The Bodleian Library and the Hay literary festival. Ascot and the Millennium Stadium; Nelson’s column and the Olympic Park’s Orbit.

We have so much to be proud of so much to share with each other and so much to show off to the rest of the world.

An unprecedented opportunity

And we have in the coming decade an unprecedented opportunity to take our tourism industry to a whole new level with so many big international sporting moments that will put us at the centre of the world stage year after year. Of course the Olympics – which will see the Triathlon right here in Hyde Park (and of course the Beach Volleyball on Horseguards’ Parade which I’ll be able to see from my bedroom window.)

But also the Champions’ League final at Wembley next year.  The Rugby League World Cup in 2013.  The Commonwealth Games in 2014.  The Rugby Union World Cup in 2015.  And we’re fighting hard to get the football World Cup in 2018. And that’s just to name a few.  Not to mention the Ryder Cup or the annual Six Nations.

This really will be the greatest sporting decade in British history.  And of course there will be great non-sporting moments too like the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.  We have to ensure that when the cameras leave after all these great events the people don’t leave with them.  And that the benefits are spread across the country and not just felt here in London or in our other major cities.

We can do even better – the missed opportunity

We must not let these opportunities slip through our grasp.

But quite frankly, right now, we’re just not doing enough to make the most of our tourism.  The last government underplayed our tourist industry.  There were eight different Ministers with responsibility for tourism in just thirteen years.  They just didn’t get our heritage.  They raided the national lottery taking money from heritage because it didn’t go with their image of “cool Britannia.”

At one point they even referred to Britain as a young country. More than a seventh of England is designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty. And yet the UK is only ranked 24th in the world on natural beauty. We’re behind Japan; Finland and Ireland. Ireland are 12th.

Of course Ireland is beautiful but why is the UK twelve places behind?

It’s a question of perception. And the truth is we’ve just not been working hard enough to celebrate our country and home and sell our country abroad.

Huge opportunities are being missed. The UK has fallen from sixth to eleventh place in the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Ratings between 2008 and 2009.

I want to see us in the top five destinations in the world. But that means being much more competitive internationally.  Take Chinese tourists, for example.

We’re their 22nd most popular destination. But Germany is forecast to break into their top ten. Why can’t we?

Currently we only have 0.5 per cent of the market share of Chinese tourists.  If we could increase that to just 2.5 per cent this could add over half a billion pounds of spending to our economy and some sources suggest this could mean as many as 10,000 new jobs.  Currently we have 3.5 per cent of the world market for international tourism.

For every half a per cent increase in our share of the world market we can add £2.7 billion pounds to our economy, and more than 50,000 jobs.  At a point when our economy is coming back from the brink – we just can’t let this sort of opportunity pass us by. So what are we going to do about it? I’ll tell you.

The strongest possible tourism strategy

I want us to have the strongest possible tourism strategy. I think there are four parts. First – what government does nationally.  Second – the role of local government and the support of the local area. Third – how we stimulate the private sector in tourism.  And fourth – how we make policy in other areas that will impact the tourism industry.

I want to have the strongest possible engagement with the tourism industry in each of these areas.  And to start this debate today I want to say a few words about each.

What Government does nationally

First, what government does nationally.  We’re going to bring a whole new approach – and a new attitude – to tourism. Because we think tourism is one of the missing pieces in the UK’s economic strategy. Our commitment to tourism is not new-found.

In Opposition Jeremy Hunt championed its importance.  We’ve now appointed John Penrose, as our Minister for Tourism and Heritage. He represents a seaside town, has a background in business and developed our policies on deregulation as a shadow minister.  So I know he will bring great ability to his role and I want him to lead a new relationship with the tourism industry.

We’re going to be a government that understands the huge potential of our tourism industry that gets tourism and that gives the industry the backing it needs. A successful tourism policy needs an active and engaged government. But taking Britain up the league table of tourist destinations isn’t something that we in government will do alone. It’s something that we will all do together.

Industry in the lead but with government – and society as a whole – standing behind you every step of the way.

Local Government and the support of the local area

Second, local government and the support of the local area. Tourism is a local industry. You can’t support local industry with national diktats from Whitehall.

The old model was just too top-down failing to incentivise innovation and local enterprise and failing to reward local authorities which seized the chance to support the expansion of their local economy. It completely disempowered the local area. We’re going to do things differently.

The old Regional Development Agencies put bureaucratic boundaries over natural geography. Take the Cotswolds artificially spread across different Regional Development Agencies including he South East, the South West.

Now if areas like this want to work together across those old, centrally-imposed boundaries they can.  That is why we have invited local businesses and local authorities to come to us and tell us what works for them.

And of course to tell us what doesn’t work like the current business rates system which fails to support the development of tourism.

If a local council does more to attract tourists to its area they know they’ll be picking up costs but they’ll get none of the additional business rate revenue. Central government sucks in 100 per cent of this revenue generated by all local economic growth. This is just mad.

Local authorities must be allowed to invest some of this back into their own communities. This wouldn’t just help tourism – it would help all sectors of local industry across our country. And it’s a vital part of how we can begin to rebalance our economy.

Stimulating the private sector

Getting the local incentives right will also be crucial for the third part of our strategy – and that’s stimulating the private sector. When we talk of the tourist industry it’s mostly in the private sector. You’re great entrepreneurs.

But you need a government that creates the right conditions for entrepreneurship. Like small businesses in so many other sectors, our tourism industry has been strangled by the endless rise of red tape.

So we’re going to free our 200 thousand tourism businesses from the red tape and excessive business taxes.

For the next three years we’re waving some employment taxes on the first 10 jobs created by new businesses outside London, the South East and the Eastern Region.

We’re cutting the main rate of corporation tax to 24p and the small companies rate to 20p. We’re reducing the time it takes to set up a business.  And we’re stopping the removal of the tax breaks on furnished holiday lettings. And our new Regional Growth Fund creates an opportunity for the tourism sector to bid for support for its most creative ideas with £1 billion available to kick start projects that will drive private sector growth.

Other key policy areas that affect tourism

Fourth, we’re going to take a good look across government at all those policies that don’t fit neatly into the tourism or DCMS departmental box but which nonetheless impact on tourism in a big way. Visas. Infrastructure. From the speed of our broadband to the speed of our railways to the time it takes to clear customs at Heathrow.

I can tell you already some of the things we’re going to change. We’re going to remove some of the obstacles that put people off coming here. For example, by working more closely with our international partners to improve the local delivery of visa services in key markets like China and India.

This includes increasing the availability of online applications from just over a third to three-quarters by the end of the year – with 100 per cent coverage by 2014.  And we’re also supporting the ambition to develop a new network of high speed rail across the country. Because when a train to Brussels is as quick as a train to Bournemouth and it’s quicker to get from London to Paris than it is to get to Blackpool what chance do our great seaside towns have of drawing people from London?

But perhaps more important than these specific changes is the broader change of direction. I want us to look at all these things not as isolated issues but from the perspective of our tourism industry – both domestic and international.

John Penrose is already looking at some of these issues as part of his report on increasing domestic tourism. At the moment 36 per cent of what Brits spend on holidays is spent at home. Can we up our game to raise that to 50 per cent?

John Penrose is doing a report for me, which he will present in October, to tell me whether that is a realistic objective or not but I want us to aim high not low. In fact, I want John to go further.

I want John to work with you day in and day out to develop a tourism strategy by the end of this year that brings together the best of the ideas you have that ensures London 2012 provides the best economic and tourism legacy that any Olympic host city has ever done and that sets us on a path to break into the top five tourist destinations in the world.


So that’s our goal and those are some of the ways that we’re going to raise our game to try and reach it. Today’s speech is an appeal to you tell us the tools you need to finish the job. Because as with so much of this agenda, making the most of our tourism industry is not simply about government action. It’s about what our communities and local businesses do. Reaping the gains of local tourism is one of the great economic tests of the Big Society. Can we come together to make our country more prosperous?

Can we support new developments and new enterprise to boost our tourism and make the most of our great heritage and national assets?

Can we seize the opportunity of this great decade of sport – and especially the Olympics – to deliver a lasting tourism legacy for the whole country and not just here in London? I really believe we can.

I believe we can come together in a new nationwide effort to make this coming decade the best ever for tourism in Britain. This government will stand fully behind every effort. The challenge is now for you as an industry and for us together as a society. And I’m confident that – together – we will meet it.