Ian Blackford – 2017 Speech to SNP Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Ian Blackford, the Leader of the SNP in Westminster, at the party’s conference in Glasgow on 10 October 2017.

Conference, it is a huge honour to stand here today in the great city of Glasgow, and give my first speech to you as the SNP’s Westminster Leader.

I am proud to lead our strong, talented, and hard-working team of MPs as the UK Parliament’s third party.

In Westminster, the SNP are the real opposition to the increasingly right-wing, incompetent, and utterly shambolic, Tory government.

While Labour flip-flops on so many of the big issues facing our country – from their ever-changing position on Brexit, to their on-off support for Tory welfare cuts, tuition fees, and nuclear weapons – it is the SNP that are providing the consistent and effective opposition that is desperately needed.

Unlike the other parties, we have a united team of MPs that will always put Scotland’s interests first.

And by working together, with common purpose, we are defending Scotland’s national interests, and leading the opposition to the Tories’ damaging austerity cuts and extreme Brexit plans – as we make the case for the sensible, progressive, SNP alternative.

And, conference, I want to take the opportunity now to pay tribute to someone who has contributed so much to that work, over so many years, standing up for Scotland at Westminster – my friend and predecessor, Angus Robertson.

Friends, the period since our Spring conference has been a turbulent time in UK politics.

Despite cynically calling a snap general election on their own terms and timetable, with huge campaign resources, and all the odds stacked in their favour, the Tories lost their majority and Theresa May lost all credibility.

We are now back to the days of a weak Tory leader, forced to placate the whims of her right-wing backbenchers just to shore up her own position.

A Tory prime minister who is so desperate to cling on to power, that she was forced to beg the DUP to prop up her government with a billion pound bribe from the magic money tree we were all told didn’t exist.

A billion pounds of investment that David Mundell – Scotland’s supposed man in the cabinet – assured us ought to have had Barnett consequentials, meaning an additional £2.9 billion for Scotland.

Of course – when the Prime Minister refused to recognise this, rather than speak out and make a stand, the Secretary of State went into hiding and said absolutely nothing – failing to secure a single penny for Scotland.

Once again, fully demonstrating, he is not Scotland’s man in the cabinet, he is the cabinet’s man in Scotland.

And it was David Mundell who set the precedent for his new colleagues too – Theresa May’s ever obliging group of Scottish Tory MPs.

Not so much Ruth’s rebels, as Theresa’s lobby fodder.

Rather than doing the day job, standing up for the interests of their constituents, they have been acting like sheep at their Westminster leader’s beck and call – and being a crofter, I speak with some authority.

Either unwilling, or unable, to stand up for Scotland – the Scottish Tories have been blindly rubber-stamping whatever damaging policies they are told to.

And conference, while here in Scotland, under the strong leadership of Nicola Sturgeon, we have a progressive SNP government delivering bold and ambitious policies to make our country a fairer and more equal place – at Westminster the Tories are dragging the country backwards.

If the main job of any government is to improve people’s lives and make sure we are better off, not worse off, then the Tories are failing by almost every conceivable measure.

At last week’s Tory conference, Theresa May had the audacity – the sheer audacity – to claim the Tories were ‘Building a country that works for everyone’.

Well conference, they say a picture tells a thousand words – and with that slogan literally falling apart, letter-by-letter, off the wall during her conference speech, it was the perfect analogy.

Because the truth is – after seven years of austerity cuts, mismanagement and failure on the economy, the Tories are in danger of creating a country that works for no one.

Back in 2010, the Tories told us they had a ‘long term economic plan’, but since then the UK government has missed almost every major economic target it has set itself, and today their credibility on the economy lies in tatters.

Families are now earning less in real terms than they were when the Tories came to power.

The UK has fallen to our lowest ever credit rating, the national debt is up to £1,813 billion, productivity has collapsed, growth has stalled, and the pledge to eliminate the deficit has been shelved and put back yet again.

Make no mistake – austerity is a political choice, and this UK government’s policy has been to protect the wealthy in our society at everyone else’s expense.

The UK government is shirking their responsibility to invest in, grow and rebalance the economy so that it works for everyone, not just the wealthiest few.

Their Quantitive Easing programme has seen the Bank of England write a cheque for £435 billion pounds in support of the financial institutions.

That is £435 billion that has been added to our national debt, pushing up asset prices for those fortunate enough to benefit, while costing the rest of us dearly.

So while ordinary folk suffer, the wealthy have become richer.

We have in effect rewarded the same institutions that created the financial crisis while the rest of society – yet again – pays the price.

That’s fairness from a Tory government.

And right now, across the UK, millions of people are suffering from a Tory pay cut – with wages lower now in real terms than they were in 2007, after the slowest decade of wage growth in over two hundred years.

Under the Tories, the UK’s record on earnings has been much worse than almost every other developed economy – and with the increased cost of living, many people are now going from payday to payday barely covering the basics, with little to show or put aside at the end of the month.

Worse still, draconian Tory welfare cuts are driving those on low incomes into poverty, debt and destitution – forcing families to rely on food banks and emergency aid just to get by.

It is absolutely shameful.

And today, thanks to this Tory government, young people across the UK face being the first generation in modern times to be worse off than their parents – with lower lifetime earnings, higher rents, and huge barriers to getting on the housing ladder.

Conference, social mobility should be the very cornerstone of our society – and that is something I feel particularly passionate about.

My formative years were spent in Muirhouse – a housing scheme in Edinburgh.

I didn’t go to university. I went straight into work from school – starting out as a bank clerk.

And with the opportunity to learn on the job, to prove my ability, and to work my way up, I was able to succeed in business like others in my generation.

Conference, I want everyone to have those same opportunities – but too often now, thanks to the right-wing policies of this Tory government, the support and chances that people need to get on are being restricted or cut off entirely.

And that is a disgrace.

So while Tory MPs back policies that make families and young people poorer, and while Labour MPs abstain on austerity and welfare cuts – it is the SNP that are holding the Tory government to account.

And it is SNP MPs that are driving forward the case for the progressive alternative.

Fairer alternatives like the bill being brought forward by Glasgow South’s Stewart McDonald, to end the scandal of exploitative unpaid trial shifts when people are looking for work.

So here’s a test for Theresa May

Stewart McDonald’s Private Members Bill can make a big difference.

It tackles a scandal that disproportionately effects our young people just starting out, and those looking to get back into work from unemployment or having had a child.

And when you are desperate for a job and trying to get off benefits – if you get them at all – then any trial shift seems better than no trial shift.

But no one should be deprived of a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. If you do the job -you should be paid for it.

So to Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, I say this – we can make a real difference in the lives of those looking for work. We can make life fairer for our young people, and we can end the rip off practice of businesses who take prospective employees for granted.

So join with us – and back this bill – and let’s end an injustice.

Conference, Stewart’s bill is just one example of where our SNP MPs are working hard to make a real difference.

Chris Stephens is working tirelessly to improve workers’ rights and challenge the Tory government’s anti-trade union laws.

Mhairi Black’s campaign for justice for the thousands of WASPI women affected by the UK government’s unfair pension changes has also shown the fairer choices that could be made.

We know a win is now in sight for WASPI women. Eight DUP and two Tory MPs have signed a parliamentary motion showing their support – meaning parliamentary arithmetic is now on our side to push the government to give women the pensions which are rightfully theirs. So today I am calling on Labour to unite with us and challenge the Tories to end this injustice.

This afternoon – in parliament, it is the SNP that will be holding the government to account on another important issue – the disaster of Universal Credit.

Neil Gray – leading on DWP Questions in the chamber – will be calling for the urgent halt of the Universal Credit roll-out – the shambles which has made so many people destitute.

And conference, one of my very first acts as an MP was to lead the opposition in Parliament to the shameful Tory cuts to tax credits.

The two child-policy is deeply flawed, and my colleague Alison Thewliss MP has been working tirelessly in her campaign against the UK government’s callous rape clause, which has been condemned by many organisations including the British Medical Association – and which forces women to disclose rape to avoid a financial penalty.

The SNP will continue to campaign against this abhorrent policy, and I call on Philip Hammond to U-turn and scrap the two child policy in his next budget.

And as we approach that Budget, next month, it is the SNP that will continue to argue for an end to austerity that is damaging our public services, cutting family support, and holding back the economy.

Instead we’ll call for a meaningful fiscal stimulus to boost growth and mitigate against the impact of leaving the EU.

We’ll demand an end to the scandal of a Tory government that is charging VAT to Scotland’s police and fire services, and taking millions of pounds away from the frontline.

And conference, with the Brexit gun fired, and the count-down to March 2019 rapidly underway, this Budget must be – above all – a Brexit budget.

A budget built and delivered on the vital premise that we are staying in the Single Market and customs union.

Because we know that even the threat of an extreme Tory Brexit is already damaging the country – driving up costs, scaring off investment and jobs, and squeezing living standards even further.

And that is before we have even left the EU.

Because let’s be clear – leaving the world’s largest Single Market and customs union would cost Scotland dearly – with the potential to lose 80,000 jobs, £11.2 billion a year, and with cuts to family incomes across the country.

Our business community and our key industries are warning, week-in week-out, of the huge damage that would be done.

Even Ruth Davidson admits that Brexit could deliver an economic hit that the UK may never recover from.

But while Ruth Davidson, David Mundell and the Scottish Tory MPs all sit on their hands and obey Theresa May’s every demand on Brexit – regardless of the impact on Scotland,

And while there is barely a fag paper between Labour and the Tories’ extreme Brexit plans, under Jeremy Corbyn,

SNP MPs will continue to fight tooth and nail to protect Scotland’s national interests.

Led by Stephen Gethins, our shadow Brexit team are holding the UK government to account – standing up for our vital place in the single market and customs union, pressing for a guarantee for the rights of the three million EU nationals living and working here, and opposing Tory plans to use the EU Withdrawal Bill as cover for a power grab from the Scottish Parliament.

SNP MPs will always stand up for Scotland – for our NHS, our universities, our food and drink sector, and the many other industries and communities that stand to lose out if the Tory Brexiteers get their way.

Of course, as the damage of Brexit becomes clearer, and as right-wing Tory policies continue to make families across Scotland worse off – we know that independence remains the only way to truly shape our own future.

But for as long as we remain tied to Westminster, you can be sure that our SNP MPs will continue to provide the strong voice that Scotland needs.

Nicola Sturgeon – 2017 Speech at SNP Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister and Leader of the SNP, at the party’s conference in Glasgow on 10 October 2017.

Friends,

Leading this Party is a great privilege – one enjoyed by just a few people in our history.

Earlier this year we lost one of our past leaders – a true giant of our movement.

Gordon Wilson had the good fortune to be born in Govan in this city.

And to represent Dundee in the House of Commons.

Two great cities.

When Gordon became leader of our party in 1979, he was one of just two SNP MPs at Westminster.

Hopes of a new Scottish Parliament had just been scuppered.

It was a tough time.

But Gordon’s commitment and political skill laid the groundwork for the SNP’s future success.

New members and younger voters may not know of Gordon’s contribution, but it can’t be overstated.

He kept the flame alive.

He devoted his life to serving Scotland.

And all of us owe him a deep debt of gratitude.

Friends,

The three years I have been your leader can be described in many ways.

Dull isn’t one of them.

We’ve had an EU referendum.

A Scottish Parliament election.

And not one, but two, Westminster campaigns.

Different election contests, for different Parliaments.

But with one common thread.

Victory for the SNP in all of them.

Of course, we’ve had tough days along the way – and we learn from them.

In June we lost good colleagues from the House of Commons.

Let us thank them for their service.

But let me offer a gentle reality check to our opponents.

The SNP is polling at a higher level today than we were at this point in the honeymoon days after our 2007 win or our landslide in 2011.

Our lead over the second placed party now is twice what it was in October 2008 – and it is five times that of 2012.

Ten years into government, the verdict of the Scottish people is clearer than ever.

They trust the SNP to deliver for Scotland.

And we will work each and every day to retain that confidence.

That applies here in this great city too.

For decades, Glasgow has been run by Labour.

In May, that came to an end.

The cronies and time-servers are out.

Fresh ideas, Susan Aitken and the SNP are in.

The difference is already clear.

Under Labour, a bitter school janitor dispute rumbled on for months.

Within weeks, it was resolved by the SNP.

For years, under Labour, women were denied the equal pay they are entitled to.

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It may take us a bit of time to fix Labour’s mess, but I make this promise today.

Fix it we will.

The injustice suffered by low paid women in this city will be put right.

Equal pay for equal work, denied for too long, will be delivered by the SNP.

As we fight for Scotland, our opponents fight each other.

Scottish Labour is currently having its annual leadership election.

Hypocrites, plotters, betrayers, barrel scrapers.

No, that’s not what we’ve been calling the candidates.

That’s what they’ve been calling each other.

These days, ferrets in a sack distance themselves from Scottish Labour.

And as for the Tories – well, they’re now back in third place in Scottish politics.

And no wonder.

They are a policy vacuum.

And the racism, misogyny and sectarianism within their ranks has been on full, ugly display.

The disgusting views that have been expressed by too many Tory politicians have no place in public life.

It’s time Ruth Davidson found some backbone and kicked the racists and bigots out of her party.

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The opposition in Scotland are all over the place.

That’s why more than ever the responsibility is on us, the SNP, to provide the good government that the people of our country expect and deserve.

It is up to us to inspire the optimism that will drive Scotland forward.

Just as we have over the past decade.

Our record is a strong one.

More than £3 billion extra for the NHS.

Almost 12,000 more health service staff.

And the best performing emergency departments anywhere in the UK.

Prescription charges abolished.

And no privatisation of healthcare.

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As long as the SNP is in office, the NHS will always be in public hands.

Now we are focussed on vital reforms to shift more care and more resources into communities. Tough decisions, yes – but necessary to make our NHS fit for the future.

As in health, so too in education.

In our schools, higher passes are up by almost a third.

Ten years ago, just 12% of young people in this city left school with 3 Highers.

Today, it is 30% and rising.

Now we are reforming school education – empowering headteachers and delivering more money direct to the classroom.

Friends

I said we would close the attainment gap in our schools – and, mark my words, that is exactly what we are going to do.

We have rebuilt the country’s infrastructure too.

From Lerwick harbour in the north.

To the Border Railway in the south.

From the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in the west.

To the magnificent new Queensferry Crossing in the east.

And what an amazing feat of Scottish engineering that is.

Look and travel across our wonderful country – the evidence is all around us.

Improved rail connections the length and breadth of Scotland…

The new Aberdeen bypass, upgrading the M8…

Dualling the A9 and making it our first electric-enabled highway…

Superfast broadband being extended to 100% of premises.

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We are connecting Scotland for the 21st century and beyond.

The SNP is Scotland’s Party and we are delivering for all of Scotland.

This progress is good for Scotland.

And it has another benefit.

It shows the way for the rest of the UK.

Last week, Theresa May said she would freeze tuition fees in England.

She said they won’t rise above £9,250.

Well, I can announce today that we will match that commitment.

We will also freeze tuition fees.

But we will freeze them at zero.

Politicians elsewhere in the UK argue about whether fees should be frozen, reduced or abolished altogether.

We’ve settled that issue.

We abolished tuition fees. We restored education as a right.

And we now have record numbers of young people going to University.

While others debate fees, we are focused on the next challenges.

Reforming student support. Widening access.

Our mission is this.

To give young people from poorer backgrounds – not just a better chance of going to university – but an equal chance of going to university.

On housing too – one of the biggest issues of our time – while Westminster dithers and delays, Scotland is leading the way.

When we came into office, council house building in Scotland had ground to a halt.

The last Labour government built 6 council houses.

Not 6000 or 600 or even 60.

Just 6.

So 8 years ago, we started a new generation of council house building.

And since then, we’ve built 8,500 council houses.

Overall, we are building new social housing at a faster rate than any other part of the UK.

And now we are going further.

Over this Parliament, we will deliver 50,000 more affordable homes.

We are backing our commitment with record investment.

£3 billion in this Parliament – almost 80% more than in the last five years.

We’ve already set out how much money councils will be allocated each year.

And we will not allow any of it to be diverted to other priorities.

Let me make this clear to every council today.

If you don’t use all of your allocation to deliver new housing, we will take back the balance and give it to one that can.

On money for housing – if you don’t use it, you will lose it.

Every last penny of our investment will go to delivering the new houses that people across this country need.

That is our guarantee.

Friends

Over the past ten years, we have led the way.

We should be proud of what we achieved.

Our focus now is on the next ten years and beyond.

The world we live in today is changing at a faster pace than we have ever known.

The challenges we face are generational.

Our responses must be transformational.

Last month we unveiled our programme for government.

A new programme for a new Scotland.

It offers practical solutions to the daily concerns people have.

And it aims to equip our country to prosper in a fast changing world.

As we look ahead we face a choice.

We can trail in the wake of the change that is coming.

Or we can choose to shape our own future.

Let’s resolve this today:

We will not wait for others to decide for us.

Let’s resolve to put Scotland in the driving seat.

A country which values education and cares for future generations will always be in the driving seat.

At the heart of all we do is a determination to make Scotland the best place in the world to grow up.

I’ve referred already to our school reforms.

But it is what we do in the early years that matters most to the life chances of children.

The baby box really is a beautiful thing.

Not just for all the practical help it provides Or even the contact it promotes between pregnant mothers and midwives.

It is beautiful because of what it says.

All children are born equal. All children are valued. All children deserve the same start in life.

But much as I love it, the baby box is not the most significant of our early years policies.

Our expansion of nursery education is.

It is truly transformational.

Currently, we deliver around 16 hours of early education and childcare a week – that’s already an expansion.

But it means some parents still face a struggle to find and fund the childcare they need to allow them to work.

We are going to change that.

By 2020, we will deliver 30 hours a week for every three and four year old and eligible two year old.

It will give children the best start in life.

It will free parents to find work.

And each month it will save families around £350 on the costs of childcare.

That is the kind of real, practical help that young parents need.

Often when I talk about this policy, I’m asked – sometimes sceptically – if we will really be able to fund it properly.

Well, today, we put our money where our mouth is. Over the past few months, we have undertaken detailed work to assess the investment needed.

Right now, we invest around £420 million a year.

I can announce today that by the end of this Parliament, that will double to £840 million a year.

Friends

That is a commitment unmatched anywhere else in the UK.

And it is the best investment we can make in Scotland’s future.

Every child matters.

That includes those who grow up in care.

Last year, I set out plans for a fundamental review of the care system.

We want it to have love at its heart.

We are also delivering practical help to level the playing field for care leavers – like full grants and guaranteed places for those with the grades to go to university.

We want to make life a little bit easier for those leaving care.

So I can announce today a further step.

We will change the law so that all young care leavers are exempt from paying council tax.

Friends

We can do all these things because we are in government.

We can make a difference every day – with decisions that benefit this and future generations.

The greatest responsibility of all that we owe to the next generation is to protect the planet.

In 2009, we passed world leading climate change targets and we met them.

Next year, we will go further.

A new climate change bill will set even more ambitious targets.

We will meet our obligations under the Paris Accord.

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Every industrialised country, large or small, must play its part to meet our collective duty to safeguard the environment.

And let me be blunt about this.

That applies just as much to the White House as it does to Bute House.

Environmental campaigners recently described our programme for government as the greenest in the entire lifetime of the Scottish Parliament.

We should be proud of that.

In that programme, we committed to setting up Low Emissions Zones in our four biggest cities by 2020, to improve the quality of the air that we breathe.

The first of these will be in place by the end of next year and I am very pleased to announce today that it will be located here in the city of Glasgow.

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We should also be proud of how we handle the difficult decisions involved in tackling climate change.

We don’t rush to judgment.

We weigh up the evidence.

We listen to the people.

And we come to clear conclusions.

Clear conclusions like this one –

Fracking is now banned in Scotland.

Tackling climate change is a moral obligation.

It is often seen as a challenge.

But it is also a massive opportunity.

Scotland can be a world leader in the technologies that will drive forward the low carbon economy of the future.

Jobs and investment are there to be won.

So we are leading by example.

We will end the need for new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2032 – 8 years ahead of the rest of the UK.

An ambitious target, but one we know can be met.

In 2007, we pledged that by 2020, 50% of the electricity we consume would come from renewable sources.

Last year, ahead of schedule, we achieved 54%.

That’s great for our environment.

And the lesson for our economy is this – by leading the way in using new technology, we send a message to the world that Scotland is the best place to develop it.

Already, we are home to the largest tidal power array in the world.

And next week, we will celebrate a new global first.

I will officially open the world’s largest floating windfarm, situated right here in Scotland, off the coast at Peterhead.

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Our ambition is simple –

To put ourselves in the driving seat of change.

That is why we are establishing a new National Manufacturing Institute and increasing our investment in business research and development.

And it is why we have made this decision too.

At our conference in March, you asked us to set up a Scottish National Investment Bank.

And in our Programme for Government we committed to doing just that.

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The Investment Bank is about doing things differently for the new age.

In our manifesto last year, we also pledged to explore the option of a new publicly owned energy company.

The idea, at its heart, is simple.

Energy would be bought wholesale or generated here in Scotland – renewable, of course – and sold to customers as close to cost price as possible.

No shareholders to worry about.

No corporate bonuses to consider.

It would give people – particularly those on low incomes – more choice and the option of a supplier whose only job is to secure the lowest price for consumers.

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We will set out more detail when we publish our new Energy Strategy.

But I am delighted to announce today that – by the end of this Parliament – we will set up a publicly owned, not for profit energy company.

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We are taking real action in government now to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

Responsible intervention to advance the collective good.

We are also taking steps to empower communities.

Local ownership. More autonomy for our islands.

And of course land reform.

Exactly 20 years ago, the people of Eigg bought their island from its owner.

And so started Scotland’s modern journey of land reform.

That journey continues today.

In recent months Ulva, an island off the west coast of Mull, has sought permission to follow in Eigg’s footsteps.

If permission is granted, the residents can get on with raising the money needed.

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The Scottish Government has carefully considered the application.

And I am delighted to announce that we have today granted permission to the people of Ulva to bring their island into community ownership.

Scotland’s islands and rural communities attract visitors from across the globe.

The tourist boom that our country is enjoying is great news.

It means more jobs and investment.

But it can also mean pressure on transport, services and facilities – especially in rural areas.

The Scottish Government is determined to help.

So I am pleased to announce today that we will establish a new £6 million Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund.

It will take bids from communities and work with local councils.

And it will allow even more people to enjoy this, the most beautiful country in the world.

Friends,

Giving every child the best start, with the opportunity to live a healthy life, with a great education, and in a clean environment is at the heart of our programme for a new Scotland.

But today’s generation faces another defining challenge.

It is one that is rocking the foundations of political establishments across the democratic world.

It is the challenge of our age – tackling the unfairness and inequality felt so sharply by so many.

Here in the UK inequality is among the worst in the developed world.

We intend to drive change here too.

The fact that real wages have stagnated or fallen heightens the sense of unfairness.

So to our nurses, teachers, police officers, firefighters – to all of our dedicated public sector workers – let me reiterate this commitment today.

Next year, we will seek pay deals that are affordable but also fair.

The 1% pay cap will be lifted.

We are the only government in the UK to make this unequivocal commitment.

It is now time for others to do so too.

Making decisions that tackle the big challenges is the responsibility of our government.

Last year, this conference asked us to investigate the feasibility of a citizens’ basic income.

So we’ve announced the funding to do just that.

You asked us to tackle period poverty.

So we set up a pilot scheme to help low income women.

And last month we announced free sanitary products for all in our schools, colleges and universities.

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I can announce today that this groundbreaking commitment to tackle the gender injustice of period poverty will be delivered from the start of the new academic year next August.

Scotland and the SNP – once again – leading the way in building a better, fairer country for all.

Of course, a fair society must be paid for.

Decisions taken at Westminster still determine our overall spending power.

Revenue from income tax makes up just one third of our budget.

But the prospect of more Tory austerity and the impact of Brexit pose growing threats to our public services and the most vulnerable in our society.

That means it is right to consider how our limited tax powers might help us protect what we value most.

As we do so, this question will be centre stage.

What kind of country do we want to be?

Too often, the debate on tax is framed as the economy versus public services.

That’s wrong.

Our taxes pay for the support that our businesses need to thrive just as they do for our health service and our schools.

And our competitiveness as a country is about more than just our tax rates.

It depends on the strength of our public services, the skills of our people and the quality of our infrastructure.

It is a fact that a good society needs a strong economy.

But let’s never forget this.

No economy will reach its full potential without a strong, fair, inclusive society.

And that’s what our government will always work to protect.

Friends

The Tories often accuse the last Labour government of bankrupting the UK.

I’ll leave Labour to answer for itself.

But there is no doubt about this.

There is a bankruptcy at the heart of this Tory Government.

It is a moral one.

The rape clause.

The misery being caused to so many by the shambles that is Universal Credit.

Treatment of disabled people so appalling that the UN brands it a human catastrophe.

And all the while tax cuts handed to those who earn the most.

That is Tory austerity.

Heartless, shameful, self-defeating.

For the sake of decency, austerity must end – and it must end now.

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We stand for a Scotland that is fair at home.

And we want our country to play its part in building a better, fairer world.

There is now a battle of ideas underway across the globe.

A battle between those who want to turn inwards and those determined to look outwards.

We know what side we are on.

Our party is internationalist to its core and it will always be so.

We’ve opened our doors and our hearts to refugees from Syria.

We are working with the United Nations to support women in conflict resolution.

In Africa and Pakistan we’re helping fight poverty and give girls the chance to be educated.

We’re sending aid to Rohingya muslims fleeing violence in Burma.

And our ground-breaking Climate Justice Fund is helping provide clean water in Malawi and irrigation in Zambia.

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We will never accept that a limit should be placed on the contribution Scotland can make to building a better world.

Strong voices for peace and justice are needed now more than ever.

Last week, ICAN, the global campaign against nuclear weapons won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Our party stands proudly as part of the global movement for peace.

So let us restate this today.

No ifs, no buts from the SNP.

We say no to weapons of mass destruction.

We say no to nuclear weapons on the River Clyde, or anywhere else.

Friends,

Sometimes we underestimate the goodwill the rest of the world has towards Scotland.

Last week, I visited Dublin to promote Scottish business.

The warmth of feeling in Ireland towards Scotland is tangible – as is their frustration and utter bewilderment at the direction of the UK.

While I was there, I met with the new Taoiseach and I am delighted that he accepted my invitation to visit Scotland next year.

We look forward to welcoming him as we strengthen the ties between our two countries.

The UK Government may want to retreat from Europe.

We intend to stay at its heart.

Conference

15 months on from the Brexit vote, the Tories’ failure to guarantee the rights of EU citizens to stay here shames them.

We don’t have the power to guarantee these rights ourselves. I wish that we did.

But we will act where we can.

The Tories want to make EU citizens apply for the right to stay and pay for the privilege.

They should think again.

But if a fee is imposed, I can confirm today that – as a minimum – the Scottish Government will meet the cost for EU nationals working in our public services.

It is a move that will give practical assistance to individuals.

It will help us keep the doctors, nurses and other public sector workers that we rely on.

And it will send a clear message to our fellow EU citizens, in actions not just words, that we welcome you, we value you and we want you to stay.

Friends

Immigration is not an easy subject for politicians.

But we have a duty to be straight with people.

If we accept the Tories’ arbitrary target the number of people working and paying taxes here will fall.

That means fewer people to generate the tax revenues we need to pay for our public services and support our older citizens.

An immigration policy designed to appease UKIP must go.

A Scottish policy that meets Scotland’s needs and lives up to Scotland’s values must take its place.

It is time to give control of immigration policy to our own Scottish Parliament.

And put ourselves in the driving seat of decisions that really matter.

In so many ways, the chaos unfolding at Westminster threatens Scotland’s best interests.

Labour’s position is as clear as mud.

For the Tories, the Prime Minister has lost control.

The hard-liners are running amok.

They loathe the European Union.

And they don’t much like devolution either.

The EU Withdrawal Bill gives Westminster control over Scottish agriculture, fishing, the environment, GM crops, fracking licensing and a whole host of other devolved powers.

It is a blatant power grab.

Conference

We will not allow a Tory government to undermine devolution.

Our message to the Westminster Tories is clear.

Hands off Scotland’s Parliament.

We do want Scotland to stay at the heart of Europe.

But that does not mean we think the EU is perfect.

Sometimes it fails to live up to its founding values of human dignity, freedom, democracy and equality.

When the people of Catalonia – EU citizens – were violently attacked by police just for trying to vote, the EU should have spoken up, loudly, to condemn it.

Friends,

In Catalonia, I hope dialogue will replace confrontation.

It is time for the Spanish government to sit down with the government of Catalonia.

It is time for them to talk and to find a way forward.

A way forward that respects the rule of law, yes.

But a way forward that also respects democracy and the right of the people of Catalonia to determine their own future.

Friends,

Choosing your own future. Being in charge of the decisions that shape your destiny.

Being in the driving seat and not simply at the mercy of events.

That is the essence of independence.

And we are the party of independence.

The case for independence doesn’t depend on Brexit.

But Brexit does show us what can happen when we don’t control our own future.

Over the years, there have been many decisions taken at Westminster that I disagree with.

But in the course of my lifetime, there have been three defining moments when a decision taken there has changed fundamentally our country’s path.

In all three, Scotland’s interests have been cast aside.

In the 1970s, when oil was discovered in the North Sea Westminster had a decision to make – set up an oil fund or not. They chose not to.

Independent Norway took a different decision.

Last month, their oil fund topped one trillion dollars.

One trillion reminders that taking your own decisions is better than letting others take them for you.

After the financial crash, Westminster was faced with another choice.

Stimulate the economy or impose austerity.

They chose austerity.

The result has been a £3 billion cut to Scotland’s budget, the dismantling of the welfare state and thousands more children growing up in poverty.

It is shameful.

And now, Westminster is pursuing the hardest possible Brexit, knowing that it will make us all poorer.

Just think if those decisions had been taken in Scotland.

The difference could be dramatic.

The security of a multi-billion pound oil fund.

Investment, not Tory-imposed austerity

And a country at the heart of Europe.

When we think about those wasted opportunities, it should make us all the more determined that, in future, we will do things differently.

It should make us determined to put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands.

Friends,

As I have always said, Scotland should have the right to choose our future when the terms of Brexit are clear.

We have a mandate to give the people that choice.

That mandate was won fairly and squarely.

But exercising it must be done with the interests of all of Scotland at heart.

People want clarity about Brexit first.

We respect that.

But to all of you here in this hall and across our country who are impatient for change, let me say this.

We may not yet know exactly when the choice will be made.

But we can, we must, and we will always make the case for independence.

With the UK government so engulfed in chaos and taking the country down a path of self imposed decline, the need to do so has never been greater.

So let us make our case with conviction.

Let us address concerns head on.

And above all, let us inspire confidence in our fellow citizens that the way things are now is not the way they must always be.

There is a better future to be had for all of us, if we chose to build it, together.

Friends,

The gap between Scotland’s interests and Westminster’s priorities has never been wider.

The House of Commons is polarised.

There are deep divides not just between parties but within them.

Politicians tipped to be future Prime Ministers hark back to Agincourt and Waterloo.

They look to the past and the days of empire.

We must look to the future.

If the last year has taught us anything it is this –

In an age of rapid global change we cannot afford to be bystanders.

That means speaking up for universal democratic rights.

And, yes, it means campaigning for independence.

But it also means acting and governing today.

Taking action now so that everyone has a stake in Scotland’s success.

Providing opportunity and security for our young people.

Caring for the elderly and those in need.

Building a sustainable, green economy to create jobs and place Scotland at the cutting edge of technology.

Our focus must be on what really matters – building a better Scotland and contributing to a better world.

That has never been so vital.

The late Canon Kenyon Wright once said this:

“There is another way. It is marked ‘The Road of Hope’. Hope for a new nation at ease with its past, confident in its present and hopeful for its future.”

This is the time to believe in and work for that better future.

To put ourselves firmly in the driving seat of our own destiny.

That is what the people of Scotland deserve.

That is what we will deliver.

Greg Clark – 2017 Statement on Bombardier

Below is the text of the statement made by Greg Clark, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in the House of Commons on 10 October 2017.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on Bombardier, updating the House on the trade dispute brought by Boeing against that company. The case has serious implications for the workers at Bombardier Aerostructures & Engineering Services—Short Brothers—in Belfast, where the wings for the C Series aircraft are manufactured.

Following a complaint by Boeing, the US Department of Commerce has made two provisional determinations in the case, calculating duties of 220% in relation to alleged subsidies for Bombardier and of nearly 80% in relation to alleged mis-selling by Bombardier into the US market. These initial determinations are bitterly disappointing, but they are only the first step in the process: a final ruling in the investigation is due in February and would be subject to further appeal, were this to be upheld. This Government have been working tirelessly to bring the case to a satisfactory resolution and we will continue to do so.

In filing the petition, Boeing asserted three claims: first, that without Canadian and UK Government subsidies Bombardier would have been unable to develop the C Series; secondly, that Bombardier is selling at or below production cost its C Series aircraft in the US; and thirdly, as a result, that this is causing the threat of imminent material injury to the US domestic aerospace industry. This action followed Bombardier securing an order from Delta Airlines for 75 aircraft.

The Boeing petition makes allegations about funding support from the Canadian federal Government and the Government of the Province of Quebec for the C Series. It also alleges that the UK’s provision of £113 million of repayable launch investment funding, committed to Bombardier Short Brothers in 2009 to support the development of the composite wings, contravened trade rules. We strongly and robustly refute that allegation.

I want to make the Government’s position very clear: we consider this action by Boeing to be totally unjustified and unwarranted and incompatible with the conduct we would expect of a company with a long-term business relationship with the United Kingdom. Boeing does not manufacture a competing aircraft, so although Boeing claims harm in respect of the Delta aircraft order, it actually has no product in the 100 to 125-seat sector. Furthermore, this system of launch investment for the development of new aircraft reflects that of all major commercial aircraft programmes in their early years, including the Boeing 787. We refute entirely any suggestion that our support contravenes international rules.

The Shorts factory in Belfast employs more than 4,200 excellent skilled workers, with almost a quarter of those working on the C Series. It also supports a supply chain of hundreds of companies and many more jobs across the UK, as well as supporting nearly 23,000 workers in the United States of America, where 53% of the content of the C Series is produced by US-based companies. We will continue to work tirelessly to safeguard jobs, innovation and livelihoods in Northern Ireland.

From the outset, as is obvious, this has been a dispute that joins Canada and the UK, and we have been assiduous in working closely with the Government of ​Canada in our response. The Prime Minister has discussed the case with Prime Minister Trudeau, and I have been in regular contact with Canadian Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland, to co-ordinate our response and actions. We have had intensive engagement from across government at the highest levels. The Prime Minister has discussed the matter twice with President Trump, stressing the crucial importance of Bombardier’s operations in Belfast and asking the US Government to do all they can to encourage Boeing to drop its complaint. My Cabinet colleagues, including the Foreign Secretary, the Defence Secretary, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Trade Secretary and the Northern Ireland Secretary, and I have reinforced our serious concerns with, among others, the US Secretary of Commerce, the US Secretary of State, the US Treasury Secretary, the US Trade Representative and other members of the Administration, as well as, on this side of the Atlantic, the EU Trade Commissioner. My colleague the Minister for Energy and Industry, my hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Richard Harrington), has met Boeing International’s president, and I travelled to Chicago to meet Boeing’s president and chief executive to make absolutely clear the impact of these actions on the future relationship with the United Kingdom.

I am grateful for the consistent and indefatigable efforts of the constituency Member, the hon. Member for Belfast East (Gavin Robinson), and indeed the whole community in Northern Ireland who are united in opposition to this action. We will continue vigorously and robustly to defend UK interests in support of Bombardier, its workforce in Belfast and those in its UK supply chain. We will continue to work jointly and collectively with the Canadian Government. We will work closely with Bombardier, its workforce and its trade unions, and we will do everything we can to bring about a credible, early resolution of this totally unjustified case. As I said, the initial determinations are the first step in the process, but we completely understand the worry and uncertainty facing the workforce, which means that the earlier this issue can be resolved, the better. To that end, I expect to have further discussions with Boeing, Bombardier, the Canadian Government and the US Government in the days ahead. The House should be aware that neither this Government nor our counterpart in Canada will rest until this groundless action is ended. I commend this statement to the House.

Karin Smyth – 2017 Speech on Air Rifles

Below is the text of the speech made by Karin Smyth, the Labour MP for Bristol South, in the House of Commons on 9 October 2017.

Mr Speaker, thank you for allowing this debate on the use and control of air rifles. This is a subject that the House has debated in the past, but which continues to have serious consequences for many of those we represent. Too many lives have been unnecessarily lost and too many serious injuries have been inflicted upon innocent civilians. Sadly, a large proportion of these victims are children and young people. We cannot ignore the issue and we need to do something about it.

Let me explain my interest in the issue. On 1 July 2016, my young constituent, Harry Studley—then just 18 months old—was shot in the head and critically injured with an air rifle. Thanks to the efforts of the local emergency services, including the swift intervention of the Great Western air ambulance and the clinical staff at Bristol Children’s Hospital, little Harry pulled through despite his injuries. Harry’s parents, Ed and Amy, have explained to me that he has been left partially sighted, suffers memory loss and has post-traumatic seizures as a result of the incident. A local man was convicted of causing Harry grievous bodily harm and jailed for two years.

Many people living in Bristol and the west country will recall hearing about this devastating incident in the local media. Parents listening to the heart-breaking details of the case would understandably have asked, “Could this happen to my family? Could the incident have been prevented? What can be done to make these weapons safer? Should these weapons be banned?”. Those are all valid questions and there are more. In young Harry’s case, it was suggested that the weapon was being cleaned. Would legislation making trigger locks compulsory on these weapons have prevented this dreadful and life-changing incident? We will never know in this specific case, but we have a solemn duty as elected representatives to scrutinise, to keep asking questions on behalf of those we serve and to bring greater safety.

As Harry continues to recover, I pay tribute to his family. They have shown great resilience in the face of adversity. Crucially, they have been tenacious and determined that we should all learn from the incident that transformed their futures. As part of this work, they have closely monitored further incidents with air weapons. They were encouraged by the debate held in Westminster Hall in September 2016 by my right hon. Friend the Member for Delyn (David Hanson), whose long-standing interest in the issue dates from 1999 when a constituent of his, aged just 13, was killed. The 2016 debate called for the introduction of trigger locks, the safe storage of air weapons and a review of the impact of recent Scottish legislation, which I will come to later.​
In a written response to my right hon. Friend the Member for Delyn, the then Home Office Minister responsible, indicated that the Government would

“review the current air gun leaflet”

and

“keep a close eye on the introduction of air weapons licensing in Scotland”,

an issue to which I now turn.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP) I congratulate the hon. Lady on bringing this topic to the House for consideration. She will know, after discussions I had with her earlier, that Northern Ireland has very strict legislation covering air rifles and, indeed, all weapons. I say kindly and carefully to her that the British Association for Shooting and Conservation and the Countryside Alliance have laid out strict protocols and rules within the remit of the law. Does she feel that the law in England and the UK is sufficient to stop these things happening?

Karin Smyth I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that intervention, for the information he has shared with me and for his expertise in this area. The point I will come on to is that we need to learn in England from what happens in Northern Ireland and Scotland and that children in Bristol South should be afforded the same level of security as children there, and I will return to that.

Hon. Members will know that, following a series of tragic incidents involving air weapons, the Scottish Government acted to address the problem. Under the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015, it has been an offence since the start of this year to use, possess, purchase or acquire an air weapon without holding an air weapon certificate. It is a condition of that licence that weapons are securely stored in order that access and possession cannot be gained by a person who is not authorised. The licence application also requires the disclosure of criminal convictions, and the police must be satisfied that the applicant can possess an air weapon

“without danger to the public safety or to the peace”

before issuing an air weapon certificate. That is over and beyond section 21 of the Firearms Act 1968, under which a person who has been convicted of an offence may be prohibited from possessing firearms, including air weapons.

In the run-up to the change in the law, 20,000 air weapons were surrendered to the authorities in Scotland and destroyed—20,000 fewer potentially lethal weapons were on the streets, and I think the House will agree that that makes Scotland safer. However, in England, just since the start of May 2017, there have been incidents involving air weapons and children in Carlisle, Bury, Chelmsford, Ipswich, Exeter and, most tragically, Loughborough, where, in August, a five-year-old boy was reportedly shot and killed with an air rifle—another tragic child death. In spring 2016, a 13-year-old boy was killed in Bury St Edmunds.

Jo Churchill (Bury St Edmunds) (Con) I thank the hon. Lady for bringing what I consider a very important issue to the House. I pay tribute to that young man, and to his family and friends, all of whom have come to see ​me, and we have discussed some of the items the hon. Lady is raising today. Does she also agree that guns that are not manufactured by licensed manufacturers cause a problem and need to be looked at? There are also issues around hair triggers, magazines that do not necessarily show that they have been discharged and ammunition being left in the chamber that is not known about. Does she agree that those are the sort of things we should be looking at?

Karin Smyth I am grateful for that intervention, and I certainly want to learn from other hon. Members’ experience and work in this area. I assured the Studley family in my constituency that, on issues such as this, hon. Members will work together cross party to achieve the best legislation.

In his speech last year, my right hon. Friend the Member for Delyn informed the House that 17 children had died as a result of air weapons in the last 27 years. Sadly, it appears that that number has risen again, and I repeat that we need to do something about that. I ask the Minister to reconsider the response given last year to my right hon. Friend; it is simply not good enough to review the text of a leaflet.

In this House, on 20 April, the then Leader of the House of Commons, the right hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr Lidington), told me the Government have

“no plans to ban or licence”—[Official Report, 20 April 2017; Vol. 624, c. 801.]

air weapons, on the basis that misuse applies only to a small minority of people. Many of the people we represent would argue that many of the laws that currently protect them from all sorts of heinous acts are in place to protect them from a small minority, and even if only a small minority is affected, the consequences of their actions are grave and merit our attention, regardless of the numbers.

Many hon. Members share an interest in animal welfare, and I would add that, since successfully securing this debate, I have been contacted by Cats Protection, the International Fund for Animal Welfare and others.

Rachael Maskell (York Central) (Lab/Co-op) My hon. Friend is making an excellent speech. I became aware of this issue when cats in my constituency were shot and I looked into it. We now know that over 1,800 cats have been shot since 2012. Cats Protection has a live petition, which already has 72,000 signatures, calling for the licensing of airguns. Does my hon. Friend agree that it is time we updated our legislation in line with Scotland and Northern Ireland?

Karin Smyth I am grateful to my hon. Friend for her intervention and I know from my reading of previous debates that she has done a lot of work on this issue. I shall certainly be asking for more updates on the comparison with Scotland to identify whether that is the right way to go.

Most of the law in England and Wales on air weapons dates from the 1960s and it is time properly to re-examine the legislation to see whether it is fit for the 21st century. When an issue has such a devastating effect on the lives of families with such regularity, I would expect the Government to be considering such action already. It is for the Minister to decide what any review should cover, but at the very least I would expect a detailed consideration ​of licensing in the light of the change to the law in Scotland; of whether the fitting of trigger locks should be mandatory for all new air weapons sold; and of whether the reasonable precautions requirement on all airgun owners for the safe storage of air weapons and ammunition is adequate. My constituents are also interested in laws governing the registration and transfer of these weapons and would be grateful for an explanation of the current position and any proposed changes.

I am grateful for the opportunity to raise these questions and stress in closing that the purpose of my securing this debate is not to ban air weapons outright. It is about their safe use. I want children and young people in my constituency to be protected from future tragedies like those that have been all too common in recent years. Surely Bristol South’s children deserve the same protection as children living in Scotland.

Claire Perry – 2017 Speech at Launch of the Clean Growth Strategy

Below is the text of the speech made by Claire Perry, the Minister of State for Climate Change and Industry, on 12 October 2017.

Good morning all.

It is such a pleasure to be here today to launch our new Clean Growth Strategy. Not only because I am required to, under the Climate Change Act.

But also because I am genuinely proud of what we have achieved so far in the United Kingdom and incredibly excited about the huge opportunities for us ahead.

You may wonder why we have asked you to come to this iconic venue, scene of so much national success, this morning.

Well there are two reasons.

The first is because we are benefiting in this building from one of the UK’s biggest low-carbon combined heating, cooling and power facilities – brilliant technology that we want to see deployed much more widely.

And the second reason is… well you will have to wait for that.

Before I begin to detail all the steps we are taking, I want to thank a few people.

First, I want to thank my Secretary of State Greg Clark for his longstanding commitment to action on climate change.

From his time as Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change before the 2010 election, to his work across government, he has continued to champion the urgent need to cut emissions and seize the opportunity of clean growth and he deserves a huge amount of credit for this Strategy.

Second, I want to thank Nick Hurd, my predecessor in the department.

Nick put a massive effort into developing the policies in this plan, and I was really delighted I could take the baton from him [not just to steal all the glory] but because when I took on the Strategy, he had got it to a great place.

Thanks also to my amazing team at BEIS who have been working so hard for so long to put this Strategy together.

I also want to thank the Committee on Climate Change and their tireless chairman, Lord Deben.

You don’t realise until you sit in this ministerial chair, what a brilliant piece of legislation the Climate Change Act has proved to be, holding our feet to the fire as we consider every policy choice and empowering the Committee to keep us moving forward despite the short term political cycle.

Finally, I also want to thank all of you here today for your work cajoling, prodding, challenging, sometimes praising and, yes, criticising what we do.

We are not going to tackle the risks of climate change, nor grasp the opportunities of doing so unless we work together and I thank you for your commitment to this most important of issues.

You will know the gestation of our Clean Growth Strategy has been long, at times difficult and sometimes frustrating.

But we finally have a Strategy that is ambitious, broad and binding…

Sets out clear targets….

Harnesses the power of national innovation….

And re-affirms this government’s commitment to lead the way to a low carbon future.

So, today, in launching the Clean Growth Strategy I want to focus on three things:

First, to celebrate the extraordinary success the United Kingdom has achieved in delivering clean growth over the past two decades…

Second, as Greg said, to underline the enormous industrial opportunity for us that is emerging from the global transition to a low carbon economy – and how it will benefit us right across the UK.

And third to set out why this Clean Growth Strategy is distinctive and how it helps us meet the challenges we face.

As I said to start, the reason we are all here is the 2008 Climate Change Act, which had cross-party support and was a totemic piece of legislation. Because of that legislation we have to set out our strategy to meet the upcoming carbon budgets.

But we are also here because we want to be.

As the Prime Minister said in her foreword to our new strategy: “Clean growth is not an option, but a duty we owe to the next generation.”

And I think the UK should be very proud of our record in fulfilling that duty.

We were one of the first countries to recognise both the economic and security threats posed by rising sea levels and rising high temperatures.

And we have followed the guidance provided by that scientific understanding with action.

As Greg said, since 1990, we have cut emissions by more than 40 per cent while our economy has grown by two thirds over that time.

On a per person basis, this means that we have reduced emissions faster than any other G7 nation.

And not by sacrificing growth and competitiveness – we have led the G7 group in growth in national income over that period.

Let me just repeat that – we lead the G7 group of countries in cutting our emissions and growing our economy

Proving as false the view that we couldn’t protect the planet and raise prosperity at the same time.

Our world-first 2008 Climate Change Act set the pace for change, committing us to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least eighty per cent by 2050.

And I’m pleased to tell you we are on track.

We over-performed against our first carbon budget, and are on track to do the same for the second and third. This is a fantastic achievement.

Our action at home is matched by our ambition to see action across the world.

This saw us playing a leading role in securing the agreement of 195 countries to sign up to the now historic Paris Climate Agreement…

It commits us to being among the largest contributors of international climate finance.

And it means that from the Prime Minister, Theresa May, downwards we continue to work across the world to ensure the Paris agreement and climate action are delivered and at the forefront of international action – UK leadership that has never been more needed than now.

I know many of you in this room are responsible for this incredible success.

A success which I don’t think we celebrate enough.

Well I promise to keep talking about it and to champion it on your behalf at every opportunity, home and abroad.

The commitments made by 195 countries in Paris also present an unparalleled economic opportunity.

We are seeing the start of a global shift toward clean solutions…

Low carbon ways to get from A to B…

…power and heat produced in way that helps the planet and helps people struggling with their bills…

…and heavy industry going carbon-light.

This shift offers UK businesses and innovators huge potential to shape the future of clean growth.

Because part of the reason why the UK is considered a leader in tackling climate change, is that we don’t just see it as a problem to be solved…

We see it is an opportunity, too.

So, by focusing on clean growth, we are presented with a win-win situation…

We can cut the cost of energy…

Drive economic growth…

Create high value jobs right across the UK…

And improve our quality of life.

This is precisely what our Clean Growth Strategy is about.

You will see a list of 50 major policies and plans in the Strategy Document today, with many supporting ones in the text behind them, and when implemented there will be real change

To give you just a few examples:

For businesses, the largest pool of contributors to emissions, we will help them improve how they use their energy, aiming to increase their energy productivity by at least twenty per cent by 2030, saving businesses £6 billion…

…we will establish an industrial energy efficiency scheme to help large companies cut their bills…

…and we will demonstrate international leadership in carbon capture, usage and storage, that we need to decarbonise and improve how we do business, including substantial new investment in leading edge innovation.

Our strategy will make a positive change to how we live.

We will make it easier for homeowners to make home improvements that can reduce their energy use…

…we will invest around £3.6 billion to upgrade around a million homes through the Energy Company Obligation by 2020, and extend that support to 2028…

…we will continue to support RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive)…

… we will work towards our aspiration that every home in the country will be rated Energy Performance Certificate as Band C by 2035…

And we will aim to upgrade as many private rented homes as possible where practical and affordable – helping many of those living in severe fuel poverty.

And, our Clean Growth Strategy will change the way we travel and make our air cleaner.

We have already said and reconfirm today we will end the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040…

…it will invest £1 billion supporting the take-up of ultra-low emission vehicles, including helping consumers to overcome the upfront cost of an electric car…

…and we will make sure that those cars are powered by developing one of the best electric vehicle charging networks in the world.

Indeed you may have seen the hydrogen bus outside and we will continue to support different types of low carbon transport.

I get asked all the time – so what’s the magic bullet today?

And my answer is – we don’t have one. There is no one lever we can pull.

Instead we go through every major part of our economy and every part of government to set out ways to cut the emissions and drive innovation

Whether that’s investing in research and innovation for energy efficiency…

Or building new heat networks across the country to drive down the cost of keeping homes warm…

Whatever it takes, we are determined to make a difference.

And any set of actions that hopes to combat climate change has to cover all parts of the economy

And be focused on the next few decades, not the next few years, that is why the Clean Growth Strategy is a Strategy.

It has far-reaching goals and priorities, and sets the scene for other long-term plans government will be bringing forward like the upcoming 25 year plan from my colleagues at DEFRA, the DfT’s Road to Zero and our Industrial Strategy and its Sector Deals.

Our message is clear: this needs to be a priority for our government and the country for the years ahead, for future generations and not just us today.

And now is the right time to make these decisions because the benefits are huge.

The most recent research shows that the UK’s low carbon economy could grow over 10 to 12 per cent per year up to 2030 – four times faster than the growth of the UK economy as a whole.

By that estimate that would mean – in just 13 years – the UK’s low carbon economy would support up to 2 million more jobs and export up to £170bn low carbon goods and services each year.

And I’m not just talking about jobs in London and the South East…

This impact will be felt all over the country. We’ve already seen this happen, whether it’s the Siemens wind turbine blade factory in Hull or Nissan confirming that their Leaf electric car will be produced in Sunderland.

Like I said: a win-win situation right across the country, one that we are exploiting.

You may ask: what is different about this plan?

Well, it focuses areas of action where we get clear joint benefits:

cleaner air from low emissions vehicles…

…lower energy bills from improved energy efficiency…

… reducing waste and using resources efficiently…

…and creating a more biodiverse, resilient natural environment.

It is also a true cross-government approach – with real actions from buildings to transport, and from the natural environment to power generation.

And at the heart of our Strategy is a targeted focus on innovation.

Because I fundamentally believe that it is only through innovation that we can bring down the costs of low carbon technologies.

We want low carbon to mean low cost.

Because we need low cost to protect our businesses and households from high costs, including energy costs.

But – just as important – if we can develop the low cost, low carbon technologies here, we can capture the industrial and economic advantage from the global transition we are starting to see.

Finally, if we want to see other countries, particularly developing countries, follow our lead, we need low carbon technologies to be cheap.

So we have a new triple test to help us decide how to support new technologies:

First, does this deliver maximum carbon emission reduction?

Second, can we see a clear cost reduction pathway for this technology, so we can deliver low cost solutions?

And third, can the UK develop world-leading technology in a sizeable global market?

Of course, we can’t predict every technological breakthrough – if we’d have done that a few years ago, we would have been wrong – and not all of the choices we make will be the right ones.

That is the nature of working with such fast moving technologies.

But we are determined to create the best possible ecosystem for the private sector to invest and innovate.

If we get it right, we can see the benefits, just as we have on offshore wind, and the remarkable cost reduction we have seen where the costs have plummeted 50 percent in just two years.

And we have installed the biggest offshore wind base in the world.

To achieve these sorts of wins going forward and deliver the clean growth we need, it will require everyone to play their part.

This is not a job for central government alone.

It is a job for our devolved nations, local authorities, businesses and civil society working together; ambition and drive from every part of society and government is as important as diktats from Whitehall.

That is why we are delighted to celebrate in our document some of the amazing work that is taking place across the country.

And it is why we are setting up an annual ‘Green Great Britain’ Week, to celebrate the progress we have made, showcase UK technology and leadership, and inspire and motivate us to keep going, no matter the challenges, to deliver low carbon technology.

To meet our goals, we are going to need the full ingenuity, enterprise and determination of the British people working together.

So that answers the second question as to why we are here today.

Because we want to capture the spirit of cooperation and enterprise that gave us such an amazing performance at the 2012 Olympics from Team GB…

And use it to deliver a Green GB…

There won’t be medals on offer…

But the prize for all of us will be driving and capturing the benefits and opportunities for Britain and the world of our low carbon future.

I think that’s a race we all want to win.

Thank you.

Andrew Murrison – 2017 Debate on University Vice-Chancellor Pay

Below is the text of the speech made by Andrew Murrison, the Conservative MP for South West Wiltshire, in the House of Commons on 11 October 2017.

It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to introduce this Adjournment debate and to have two hours and 20 minutes in which to discuss this important matter.

I would like to set out a bit of the context around my request for this debate. During the summer, a league table of vice-chancellors’ pay was published, showing that the average pay of a university vice-chancellor was somewhere in the region of £280,000 a year. That struck me as a large sum of money, particularly in the current atmosphere of relative austerity. I was particularly upset to notice that the vice-chancellor of my own local university, the University of Bath, a non-Russell Group middle-ranking university, should be right at the top of that league table, in poll position at No. 1, on £451,000 a year, plus a very generous package.

Since being elected in 2001, I have been an ex officio member of Bath University’s court. I confess that it does not involve me in a great deal of hard work, but nevertheless I have been very pleased to be associated with Bath University, which—let me be absolutely clear—is a good institute of higher education that has done exceptionally well over the past several years. However, it seemed to me that I could no longer be part of the governance of Bath university, in however much a titular capacity, while its remuneration committee showed such an error of judgment as displayed on this occasion, hence my action over the summer.

Since then, I have been inundated with correspondence from all sorts of people—not only constituents, but young people who are burdened with debt, and university lecturers, particularly those working at the University of Bath—in support of the action I took, and in some cases providing me with very long accounts about why it was right that we should look at restraining this part of public sector expenditure. I found those arguments to be compelling.

I very much welcome recent Government interventions on higher education funding, as announced by the Prime Minister recently in Manchester and reiterated by the Minister in his statement earlier today. They are absolutely right, and will have given a great deal of comfort to those going through higher education, as well as to universities themselves. As the Minister rightly pointed out earlier, the quality of British higher education is of vital importance, and the changes made—to be fair, by the Labour party when in government, and then continued by the coalition and then Conservative Governments—were necessary to safeguard the quality of British universities and higher education in the UK. They are to be wholly welcomed and are absolutely right, but we do need to address the fundamental issue of student debt, which is causing so much grief to young people and, by extension, to the party of government. I hope that in the review the Minister alluded to earlier today we can find a solution that goes some way towards satisfying the concerns of young people in this respect and of course their families, who are usually co-contributors to higher education costs.​

Mounting student debt is one of the problems of our time. Currently, young people are leaving university with an average debt of £42,000. Although, theoretically, that debt may never be repaid, and in lots of cases never will be, it is a burden that young people feel acutely. The Minister understands that and is doing what he can to look at that issue. I wish him well in his quest.

This is not simply about tuition fees; it is also about housing costs and the high rates that young people have to pay for university-related accommodation, which is often of an inferior or distinctly mediocre standard. It seems to me that that is sometimes a covert way of universities raising yet more money.

Given that universities are relatively well off, I think we all would agree that they need to be particularly careful about spending money. That comes to the crux of what I want to discuss. This debate is at a time of relative restraint in pay across the public and quasi-public sectors. We have seen, as Members of Parliament, the results of that, with the concerns expressed in our mailbags and the bow wave of pressure to relax restraint that has been in place for some years now. People see that and examples of where it has not applied, and they make adverse comparisons. When people see very high pay leaping up and up, they are entitled to feel aggrieved, particularly when they feel they have some direct involvement in paying for what they see as excess. That certainly is the case here, as my mailbag has demonstrated.

In the past five years, vice-chancellors’ pay has increased by 17.4%. It now averages £278,000 a year. At Bath, it is £451,000 a year. By comparison, the chief executive of the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust receives £185,000 a year, which most people would think is pretty good. He runs an organisation that is just as complex as, if not more so than, the University of Bath; the university employs 4,800 people against the Royal United’s 3,015.

It is right to compare those salaries with that paid to the Prime Minister, and the reason is that people generally feel it is inappropriate for people in the quasi-public sector and public sector to be paid multiples of the income of the Prime Minister unless there is a very good reason.

Dr David Drew (Stroud) (Lab/Co-op) I was happy to join the hon. Gentleman in resigning from the University of Bath’s court. I never quite understood why I was on the court. I resigned in a previous incarnation, so it was only right and proper that I resigned on this occasion. Does he agree that one problem with university vice-chancellors is that they have other ways in which to supplement their income, such as where they live and their expenses, and that information should be in the public domain? The University of Bath was very hesitant to share that information.

Dr Murrison I absolutely agree with the hon. Gentleman. I will come on to some of the benefits later on in my remarks, and it will not surprise him to know—I suspect he has read the report, as I have—that the University of Bath features large in the University and College Union’s report on this subject, regrettably, as one of the arguably worst examples of what I certainly represent as excess at the top of higher education in this country at the moment, which is the matter we are seeking to resolve.​

The Prime Minister is paid £152,000 a year. The Prime Minister, of course, heads the Government, and it is extraordinary therefore that the vice-chancellor of Bath University should be paid £451,000, which is pretty much three times the salary of the Prime Minister. I think most people in this country would have a general sense that that is odd, to put it mildly, and needs quite considerable justification.

Robert Halfon (Harlow) (Con) I thank my hon. Friend for securing the debate and congratulate him and the hon. Member for Stroud (Dr Drew) on the principled way in which they resigned because of what I and many other people see as an outrageous amount of money. Does he agree that the pay of vice-chancellors should be clearly linked to performance measures? One performance measure must be successful job destinations, with highly skilled and highly paid jobs for students.

Dr Murrison Yes, up to a point. If my right hon. Friend will allow me, I will come on to performance-related pay later in my remarks, which I have a little over two hours to make.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP) I spoke to the hon. Gentleman about this matter earlier today at the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. The Government have advised that they will deal with fat cats in the boardroom, but little has been done on this issue, which is why this debate is appropriate and necessary. At Queen’s University in Belfast, the vice-chancellor’s wage rose from £230,000 to £249,000 in 2014, but the university does excellent work and has partnerships involving medical research and discovering new drugs. That figure pales into insignificance when one discovers that the vice-chancellor of the University of Huddersfield earned £364,564 in the financial year to 2016. Is it not time to address that?

Dr Murrison The hon. Gentleman is obviously correct. That is why I am bringing this matter to the Floor of the House. There is an issue with Governments seeking to control pay in that way in the private sector, but not in the public and quasi-public sectors, where things are quite different due to the large sums of public money. It is perfectly legitimate for this place and for Ministers to be involved in some of that, certainly in setting the right environment for the determination of pay settlements. We will be in an unhappy, uncomfortable place if we continue to see the escalation of recent years.

Wera Hobhouse (Bath) (LD) The University of Bath is in my constituency, so I take a great interest in this. A motion raising concerns over the vice-chancellor’s pay was discussed during a meeting of the university court in February this year. The motion was defeated by the votes of the very people who had benefited from decisions on pay, despite the clear conflict of interest, which raises grave concerns about the governance of our universities.

Dr Murrison I absolutely agree. The functioning of remuneration committees in universities needs to be addressed. Ministers have recently set out a vehicle for doing so, and I will come on to discuss the Office for Students and how it might be used to increase transparency about remuneration.​

Remuneration committees are, to put it mildly, opaque. How they are constituted and how they operate varies, and their willingness to be open also varies greatly between institutions, as the University and College Union has made clear. Bath is probably not an exceptional example of transparency in the setting of vice-chancellors’ pay, and that lack of transparency means that the quality of those settlements is likely to be diminished. We know that well in this place, because we have been through some of this in our not-too-distant past. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and the public getting to see what is going on often acts as a restraint on as pay and benefits. Any transparency that can be linked to the process and to this part of the quasi-public sector has to be a good thing.

We also need to discuss what has happened to pay more generally within higher education. Much of the disaffection that has been expressed to me since the early summer has come from the academic staff of our universities. They have expressed some frustration that the rewards for institutions achieving great things appear to be accruing to higher management staff and vice-chancellors, whereas they have seen little benefit. They have seen their salaries increase by 3.8% over five years, which is in contrast to the average 17.4% increase for vice-chancellors, and the average pay for a tenured academic is a little over £49,000.

That seems rather strange, particularly in the context of performance-related pay. If we seriously believe in performance-related pay in the public and quasi-public sectors, we cannot simply except the majority of the workforce from that form of remuneration. That makes no sense, particularly since the drivers of quality in universities are clearly those at the chalk face—those at the laboratory bench. They are the drivers of the good-quality student experience and quality research for which this country is renowned and which we must maintain. Those people are being alienated by the egregious awards that they see coming out of remuneration committees to senior people in universities.

The demoralising effect must be fully understood. When remuneration committees consider top-level pay and their legitimate need to attract high-quality people to the top of their institution, they must also understand more clearly the effect of such rewards on those who do the work.

Wera Hobhouse Less than a week ago, a group of students came to my surgery telling me that rents on campus are going up by 8%. Is there any wonder that people think that students who are already under huge financial pressure will pay the high salaries of some of the management of the university? The public perception is there and it reflects badly on the reputation of our universities.

Dr Murrison I am particularly concerned about university accommodation, as I said earlier. As I understand it, the position at the University of Bath is that accommodation is ring-fenced, in the sense that receipts from halls of residence are ploughed back into more halls of residence. The position in Bath is slightly unusual and it would certainly not be right, from what I have seen, to suggest that the University of Bath is using accommodation directly as a cash cow. However, it is certainly the case that the university is making a significant profit year on year from the accommodation it provides to its captive audience on the fringes of the city of Bath.

​Robert Halfon My hon. Friend is being incredibly generous in giving way, and that is typical of him. Does he agree that it is not just an issue of vice-chancellor pay but of senior management pay and the random way in which professors are paid from university to university, sometimes using significant amounts of funds? There is also an issue of pay disparity in senior management between men and women. There is some suggestion that BBC-type level problems might be affecting our universities.

Dr Murrison I am at a slight disadvantage on my right hon. Friend’s latter point, because my interest in this matter was sparked by Dame Glynis Breakwell, the vice-chancellor of the University of Bath. She is right at the top of the pay league table, so my local experience clearly does not bear his point out. I would not be surprised, however, if that was the case. The trouble is that the lack of transparency around a lot of this material in the university sector means that it is quite difficult to make that comparison. Were it to be the case—and I suspect he is right—I would clearly want the universities to address it, as it is simply not acceptable.

I was interested in my right hon. Friend’s earlier point about performance-related pay, and in preparing for the debate I did look at those universities that had significantly increased the level of vice-chancellor pay in the recent past and compared that with improvements as judged by the Complete University Guide set of metrics, which is used by most pundits and commentators to compare universities. The students certainly look at those figures very closely in deciding where to go.

I stared at the figures and compared and contrasted them for some time, and I could not see any correlation between improved pay for vice-chancellors and improved metrics. Indeed, there is some suggestion that there is an inverse correlation, which rather bears down on the point about performance-related pay. I can see very little evidence of it operating here. We need to be careful about performance-related pay, because it is set by remuneration committees and, unless its terms are available for scrutiny, the goals could be eminently achievable. That would make a mockery of the whole thing, which comes back to my central point: we must have transparency in how pay is set if we are to have any confidence in our current system.

I absolutely accept that vice-chancellor pay and benefit packages are a tiny part of a multi-billion-pound consideration in higher education. That point was made clearly by Lord Willetts when he was the universities Minister. He rightly sought to put the whole thing into perspective, but my worry is that in the remuneration of vice-chancellors and senior people in higher education we have a window into what might be going on more generally in the universities sector. If we are seeing such egregious examples of the misuse of public funds and student indebtedness, as I believe we are in this case, we wonder what is happening more generally in this sector.

Universities have charitable status. The Higher Education Funding Council governs that, with this subcontracted by the Charities Commission, which has written to me on this subject. It is important that we emphasise that charities—universities, in this case—have charitable purposes; they are meant to use their moneys for charitable purposes, to demonstrate charitable good. They should not be using money unless they can demonstrate that that expenditure in some way satisfies their charitable purposes.​

The University and College Union’s report of February 2016, for which I am in its debt, sheds interesting light on this subject, because it discusses not only pay, but other benefits. Although many universities did not respond to the UCU’s request for information, and so we need to be slightly guarded about its conclusions, this report nevertheless gives us some useful data. For example, it shows that Bath’s vice-chancellor spends an average of £313 a night for hotel accommodation and that Middlesex University’s vice-chancellor spends an average of £448 a night, whereas the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority will allow MPs £150 a night in London and £120 a night outside it. I make no comparison between MPs and vice-chancellors; what I would say is that £150 a night seems reasonable. People will not often hear a Member of Parliament being nice about IPSA, but I am nice about it; for the record, I think it does a good job in general and it has pitched that about right, because we can certainly get accommodation in London for £150 a night or outside London for £120 a night and we will not be living underneath the arches. How someone can spend £448 or £313 a night, inside or outside London, is a little beyond me—it is probably beyond my experience. That is an example of what I mean about the use of funds for charitable purposes. In what way does that expenditure advance the charitable purposes of these institutions?

It gets worse, however, because the report goes on to consider air fares. Twenty-one universities that responded to the request for information—there may well be more that decided not to respond, because they do not want to share their information, for obvious reasons—ranging from high-end Bristol to the frankly obscure, send their principals only by first-class or business-class air travel. That is a remarkable thing. The vice-chancellor of the University of Bath spent £23,000 in 2014-15 on air fares and, according to the report, flew exclusively by first or business class. Members of Parliament will know full well that IPSA will take a dim view of any Member seeking to claim for anything other than economy. The Minister may well be familiar with the ability of Ministers to fly long haul by business class if they have a meeting the next day—most Departments would allow that for Ministers, and I certainly recall it—but for short-haul flights of less than three hours most certainly that particular benefit would not be got. It seems excessive for universities—remember the point about their charitable status—to have their principals and senior staff fly first or business class habitually. In this day and age, that seems wholly excessive.

It gets worse still. Many universities provide accommodation for their vice-chancellors. The report lists accommodation occupied by vice-chancellors, and some of it looks rather attractive, particularly that in Bath. At No. 2 in the catalogue is the vice-chancellor of the University of Bath, who in 2014-15 occupied accommodation worth nearly £3 million, which I think would seem excessive to most. It would probably seem excessive to the parents who have recently delivered their children to university halls of residence, many of which are distinctly shabby.

My chief concern about all this is the lack of transparency. The University and College Union makes transparency the crux of its survey and report, and it is ​right to do so. In seeking the information it has sought, it has found that universities have in many cases been reluctant to engage, and we are beginning to see why. It found that 71% of those universities that responded had their vice-chancellors as members of their remuneration committees. In most walks of life, that would be considered a strange feature of a remuneration committee, even if the individual who was the subject of a particular discussion absented him or herself from the room while their issue was being discussed, because pay for an individual is not seen in isolation; it is seen against the backdrop of other senior pay within the institution and senior pay in other institutions.

I perceive a cartel operating in higher education, with vice-chancellors, and senior university staff generally, sharing each other’s remuneration processes to their mutual benefit. I am of course not in any way suggesting that there is some deliberate attempt to do that, but that seems to me to be how it might work in practice. In short, remuneration committees appear to be unsatisfactorily shadowy for organisations operating in the public or quasi-public sectors. We see instances of minutes not being published, and of redacted minutes being published. When we are dealing with public funds and student indebtedness, that is unacceptable.

My other concern is about leadership. Vice-chancellors are quintessential leaders; leading is what they do. If they are not leaders, they are nothing at all. Yet some of the most senior, such as the vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford, have been bleating about being paid less than footballers and bankers. That does not strike me as leadership. At a time of pay restraint in the university sector, as well as in others, it seems to me wholly inappropriate for the leaders of these organisations to be complicit in a system that gives them a pay rise that is way out of kilter with that being awarded to their staff. That is wholly wrong and I hope that, going forward, we will see the same sort of restraint among the senior echelons of higher education as we have seen further down the pay scale.

I shall finish by being nice about the vice-chancellor of the University of Bath, because Dame Glynis Breakwell has done a grand job, over many years, and the University of Bath is a fine institution. Dame Glynis deserves warm thanks and praise for all the hard work she has put in. I do not blame her for her extraordinarily generous remuneration package; I do blame the system that has allowed it. I am pleased that a lot of the things the Government have been talking about recently—particularly the Office for Students, which I know my hon. Friend the Minister will talk about in a moment—will help in that respect. In particular, the OfS will add transparency to the way in which senior people in higher education are paid, bearing in mind the charitable status of those institutions, and the fact that they are in receipt of large sums of public money and the proceeds of student indebtedness. If it manages to achieve that through reforming not only remuneration committees, but the general atmosphere and ethos around this, then it will have done a good job and it will be an early indication that it will be a worthy successor to the Higher Education Funding Council.

The purpose of this debate was simply to discuss how we might restore some balance and confidence to this particular element of university finances. I fear that I have hardly ingratiated myself with senior university administrators. I hope very much that we will continue ​to remunerate appropriately these heads of our wonderful national institutions, but most can agree that pay for university vice-chancellors has become excessive and that, in the months and years ahead, we need to do something about it.

Liam Fox – 2017 Speech on Israel

Below is the text of the speech made by Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for International Trade, on 10 October 2017.

Good morning.

It is an honour to be here today to address the Jewish Care business breakfast, and to join the distinguished list of speakers who have addressed this gathering.

Over the course of my career I have had the pleasure to speak at many charitable gatherings, for a wide variety of good and noble causes.

I’m not sure I have ever, though, addressed a charity which is as comprehensive in its philanthropy as Jewish Care.

And your organisation not only provides important care for the elderly members of the Jewish community, but also for those with dementia, disabilities, or mental health issues.

You even provide leadership opportunities for young people, helping them to develop vital life skills.

Before I entered parliament, I worked as a GP. I have experienced first had how much of a difference charitable organisations like Jewish Care can make, caring for the most vulnerable people in our society.

It is work that is, sadly, too often overlooked by those without direct experience of it. Yet charities can provide targeted care within communities, often reaching parts where the state cannot.

For those of you in a generous mood, there are few organisations more worthy of your munificence.

I know that you have not invited the Secretary of State for International Trade here to wax lyrical about the virtues of Jewish Care, or of charity in general.

But I do see a clear connection between trade and philanthropy.

Without the prosperity that trade engenders, charitable organisations could not flourish, yet there is also a more immediate connection.

The great rabbinical philosopher, Moses Maimonides wrote that:

The highest level of Tzedakah or Charity, is that which enables the recipient to become self-reliant.

For millions of the world’s poorest people, trade has meant exactly that.

As economies across the world have liberalised, opportunities for employment, or commerce, have lifted billions from poverty.

According to the World Bank, the three decades between 1981 and 2011 witnessed the single greatest decrease in material deprivation in human history – a truly remarkable achievement.

It is hard to imagine an international aid programme – even one as generous as our own – that would or could have been so effective.

It was no coincidence that this period coincided with the great liberalised economies of India and China opening up to the world.

At a fundamental level, free and open trade allows people to improve their own lives, allowing the individual to access global opportunities. It delivers employment, goods and services, often where they are needed most.

Across the world, trade has created prosperity, where once there was only deprivation.

Of course, the United Kingdom has benefitted vastly from centuries of trade, and its promotion comes with a degree of economic self-interest.

We must recognise, though, that there is also an equally strong social and moral case for the defence of trading freedoms.

And I say ‘social’ because whilst trade has delivered vast benefits to those in developing countries, it has also has a transformative effect on the lives of our own people.

Although it might not always be noticed, the wider benefits of a liberal trade policy have spread to British consumers and households by providing a wider choice of goods at a lower price.

Free trade is not only vital in ensuring that supplies of raw materials and everyday essentials like food and clothing are available in the UK; but it also increases the quality of those products, and helps to drive down prices.

In the decade to 2006, the real import price of clothing fell by 38%. In the same period, the price of consumer electronics, as we all know, fell by 50%, despite all the rapid technological achievements of that period, what went from a $4,000 brick called the mobile phone at that time turns into a super computer in the palm of your hand at a fraction of the price. That is what liberal and open trade can provide.

As a consequence, living standards in this country are now at their highest level in history.

Yet ‘Free Trade’ as a concept is often regarded with suspicion or simple indifference by consumers, who often fail to see how it can make a difference to their lives.

I believe that open, liberal free trade is undeniably a good thing.

It is unfortunate, though, that trading freedoms can no longer be taken for granted.

Last year, the Word Trade Organization estimated that the growth in global trade could be as little as 1.8%, falling below the growth in global GDP. This is the inverse of the normal relationship and it’s unhealthy, history tells us in the long term.

Moreover, research by the OECD that shows that protectionist instincts have grown since the financial crisis of 2008.

In 2010 G7 and G20 countries were operating some 300 non-tariff barriers to trade – by 2015 this had mushroomed to over 1,200.

So clearly, free trade is in need of a champion. The case for commercial freedom must be made at every level.

To consumers we must show that, when a foreign company invests in your area and creates jobs – that is free trade.

When you use a smartphone or a flat-screen TV at a lower price – that is global free trade.

Or when you go to a supermarket and you buy your fruit and meat and vegetables you want all year round, rather than relying on our own seasonal produce – that is global free trade in action.

These benefits often go unrecognised, even at an official level.

Last Spring, I was at the World Economic Forum in Davos, at a meeting of trade minister from the world’s major economies.

It was a full 54 minutes – just shy of an hour – before a single one of the world’s trade ministers said the ‘C-word’. Consumers were never mentioned at that meeting. We have got to also champion the consumer interest and such a state of affairs illustrates perfectly that a wider recognition is needed of the benefits that free trade can bring to ordinary people.

Those who shape international trade policy must no longer see commercial freedoms solely as a means of reaching a narrow macroeconomic advantage, but as a force for social and geopolitical good.

Those countries, like the United Kingdom, who have benefitted the most from free trade, cannot, in good conscience, pull up the drawbridge. There is a moral obligation to pass on the benefits of free trade to our less developed partners, allowing them access to our markets, or our skills and our expertise.

Such a policy would benefit all of humankind.

My Department for International Trade was founded last year to make Britain a global champion of free trade once again.

We are in a unique position to use our economic and diplomatic influence to extend and protect commercial freedoms across the world.

Of course, as a department of state of the UK, our primary purpose is to ensure that global trade bestows its benefits on Britain.

Our vision is of a UK that trades its way to prosperity, stability and security, and our mission is to help businesses export, drive investment, open up markets and champion free trade.

Liberalisation of the global economy is firmly within this country’s interests, and we are ready to take advantage of the historic opportunities that have been presented to this country.

Our departure from the European Union after some 44 years of membership will bring challenges. Yet it will also offer almost limitless possibilities.

For the first time in more than four decades this country will have a fully independent trade policy, to be shaped to best serve the interests of British consumers, British businesses, and the British economy.

The potential of this should not be underestimated. The trading bloc of the European Union has served parts of our economy well, but it is a model that is fundamentally outdated in the age of globalisation.

New technology has reduced the barriers of distance and time, and being tied to other nations simply through geographical proximity is no longer necessary especially in an economy like the UK, which is now 80 % services. The British people have opted not for insularity, but internationalism.

We will soon be in a position to revitalise our existing trade relationships, and to build new connections with those growing economies that will drive prosperity in the 21st century.

Don’t believe me, go and look at the EU’s website. The EU trade page says in the next 10 to 15 years 90% of global growth will be beyond the borders of Europe. That is where we need to be.

To ignore such possibilities would be a great disservice to the British people.

This vision of the future is central to the government’s ambition to build a truly global Britain.

This is about building a country that is a bold, outward-looking champion of free trade.

The UK will lead the defence of the rules-based international system as a newly independent member of the WTO, while forging agreements with partners across the world.

The state of Israel will, of course, be a key partner in that future.

As a longstanding friend of the Israeli people, I was delighted to attend the Tel Aviv in London festival last month.

I was struck by the many similarities between the two cities, not only in their formidable international reputations for technology, innovation and financial services, but in the vibrancy of the culture that we share.

These parallels are indicative of the complimentary nature of the Israeli and UK economies. It is a strong foundation from which to enhance our future relationship.

The UK is already the number one destination in Europe for Israeli investment, with over 300 companies already operating here.

Yet there is more to be done and more to be achieved. One of the things that I am proud of in my department has been the creation of a UK-Israel Trade Working Group, designed to identify and remove barriers to trade between our two countries. This will not only strengthen our bilateral relationship, but provide a strong foundation for further progress upon our exit from the EU, as well as providing greater prosperity, stability and security in Israel itself.

And this is one of the themes that we have across our government because trade is not only done for itself; it provides a prosperity which underpins social cohesion.

That social cohesion helps in turn to underpin political stability and that political stability is a contribution to our wider security.

All of them are parts of a continuum which cannot be disrupted, which is something that both the UK and Israel understand well.

In the extensive travels undertaken by myself and the other departmental ministers in the past 15 months, I have been struck by the sheer level of enthusiasm that exists across the world for Britain’s new role.

Nations are not only lining up to enhance their trading relationship with our country, but also to access our wealth of talent, knowledge and expertise.

Our global brand remains incredibly strong. People want to ‘buy British’ and they want to partner British as well. Globally the commercial prospects for this country have never been brighter and we must embrace them with confidence and optimism.

We are opening a new chapter in our nation’s history, but the story has not yet been written.

I believe that politics is a binary choice. You can either shape the world around you, or you’ll be shaped by the world around you.

The United Kingdom has the ability to shape the world – all we require is the confidence to do it.

My department stands ready to help shape the future of global trade, placing Britain back at its heart.

Free trade may be a centuries-old concept, but it is also the key to projecting this country’s prosperity far into the future.

Sir Winston Churchill once called free trade “a condition of progress”. Once again, the great man’s words have stood the test of time.

It is incumbent upon all of us to defend that progress.

There will be challenges ahead, but we have the ability, the vision and the determination to shape the future as we see fit.

We are not passengers to our own destiny. We can make change happen if we choose to do so and change we will.

Thank you.

Theresa May – 2017 Statement at Race Disparity Audit Launch

Below is the text of the statement made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, at the launch of the race disparity audit on 10 October 2017.

Thank you very much everybody for being here. I’m really pleased to welcome you to Downing Street today. I think this is a very significant day for our country in terms of what we’re publishing today.

I think when it comes to the health of our economy and the performance of our health service, or the results of our education system we’ve got plenty of data to show us where things are working well and where things are not working in the population as a whole. But what we’re publishing today, I think, is data that fills a glaring gap, by analysing how a person’s ethnicity affects their experience in public services and how that affects their lives. And that holds a mirror up to our society and I think establishes a new and permanent resource for our country.

I think this is important and launching this piece of work was one of the first acts that I did as Prime Minister and it is a personal priority to me because I absolutely, passionately believe that how far you go in life, should be about your talents and your hard work and nothing else.

We know that Britain today in the 21st Century is a diverse multi-ethnic democracy. Diversity is a source of strength and pride for us. But when one person works just as hard as another person – and has got the same ambitions and aspirations – but experiences a worse outcome solely the grounds of their ethnicity, then this is a problem that I believe we have to confront.

And that was the approach that I took when I was Home Secretary and I looked at the issue of stop and search and saw the significant disparity in stops and searches – far more young men from black and minority ethnic backgrounds being stopped and searched. But the number of incidents didn’t actually equate to that and justify that. We knew there was an injustice there and we had to act and that’s why we shook the system up and I am pleased to say the number of black people being stopped and searched has fallen by two thirds. I think that’s the difference that we can make when we identify the problem properly and then actually confront injustice and I hope that this audit will empower us to tackle many more of these issues.

I think the data we’re releasing today and the online platform that presents it, should quickly become to be regarded as the central resource in the battle to defeat ethnic injustice. It’s a world first, no country has ever produced a piece of work looking at the lived experience of people of different ethnicities which is as extensive and ambitious as this and I want to give a huge vote of thanks to everybody who’s worked so hard on putting this together and helped us in what we’re doing.

But it is not a one-off event this is a first but it’s not something that’s only going to happen today and the data sets and the online platform that we’re launching are now a permanent resource. I think that’s really important they will be updated and new data will be added and we’re fully committed to this for the long-term. And of course, as you know, as you look at the data much of it has existed for years but it’s been spread across the government system. It’s been difficult to access, perhaps it hasn’t been looked at through this particular prism before, and now it will be easily available and people can look at the data, they can look at the methodology for putting the data together, they can interrogate that data, they can measure our progress and they can focus our minds.

Overall the findings will be uncomfortable but it’s right that we’ve identified them, shone a light on them and we need to confront these issues that we have identified. So we are going to take action, for example in relation to the issue of unemployment for people from particular BAME communities we will be identifying hotspots where we will be putting particular extra work in to help people into the workplace.

The Ministry of Justice is going to take forward with recommendations from the Lammy Review that includes performance indicators in prisons to assess the quality of outcomes for prisoners of all ethnicities; committing to publish all criminal justice databases held on ethnicity by default; and working to ensure that the prison workforce itself is more representative of this country as a whole.

In schooling, the Department for Education is taking forward a review on external exclusions. Again, there is some significant differences shown from this data on exclusions. This will share best practice nationwide and will focus on the experiences of groups who are disproportionately likely to be excluded. And the team in the Cabinet Office, which has been working on this, will be continuing its work in the future.

I know that people around this table – I’ve worked with some of you over the years – have devoted many years working on these issues and we’re keen to hear from you about your thoughts on the audit, your own experiences and the experiences of the people that you’re representing.

I was with a group of young people yesterday at a school in south London and hearing from them, their direct experiences, absolutely tapped into the sort of information that we are seeing in this audit and the impact. It wasn’t just their immediate experience, it was the impact on their aspiration and where they thought their life could go and I think this is really important,

I think what this audit shows is that there isn’t anywhere to hide. And that’s not just for government, it is for society as a whole actually. The issues are now out in the open and we all have a responsibility to work together to tackle them.

So I think the message is very simple; if the disparities can’t be explained, they must be changed. Britain has come a long way, we must recognise that we’ve come a long way, in promoting equality and opportunity. But what the data published today shows is that we still have a way to go if we’re truly going to have a country that does work for everyone.

So thank you very much everybody for coming today and I am looking forward to hearing your views in due course.

Chris Grayling – 2017 Statement on Monarch Airlines

Below is the text of the statement made by Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Transport, in the House of Commons on 9 October 2017.

Mr Speaker, with permission I would like to make a statement about the steps the government has been taking to support those affected by the collapse of Monarch Airlines, in particular the 110,000 passengers this left abroad without a flight back to the UK and the almost 2,000 people who have lost their jobs.

Mr Speaker, this situation is deeply regrettable and all parties considered options to avoid the collapse of the company. Ultimately, however, Monarch’s board took the decision to place it into administration and it ceased trading at around 4am on Monday 2nd October (2017). The engineering arm of the group remains a viable business and continues to trade.

Ahead of the collapse my department had been working closely with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and several departments across Whitehall to prepare contingency plans, and the response has been swift and substantial.

To put this into some context, this is the largest operation of its kind ever undertaken and has meant the CAA has essentially set up one of the UK’s largest airlines in order to conduct this operation.

To give members a sense of the scale:

we have put arrangements in place to bring back 110,000 people to the UK
this requires 700 flights over a 2 week period
a maximum of 35 aircraft in operation at one time
the CAA are working with 27 different airlines, more than 200 CAA staff working on the project with thousands more in partner organisations
there are over 40 airports involved – in the UK, around the Mediterranean and beyond
it has required 267 coaches carrying over 13,000 passengers
so far there have been over 39,000 calls to our customer service centres, all swiftly answered by more than 250 call centre staff
there have been over 1,000,000 unique visitors to a dedicated website monarch.caa.co.uk – and 7,000,000 page views
furthermore more than a million people have been reached through our Facebook promotion
and there have been 10 government departments and agencies involved, including the FCO in London and our extensive diplomatic and consular network in the affected countries

I have seen first-hand the work being done across government and the CAA to make this operation a success and spoken to some of the passengers who have returned to the UK on government flights. I have been hugely impressed by what I have seen and the response from passengers has been overwhelmingly positive – with many praising the CAA and government themselves for a well-organised and professional response.

Normally, the CAA’s responsibility for bringing passengers back would extend only to customers whose trips are covered by ATOL. However this is the largest airline failure in UK history and there would have been insufficient capacity in the commercial aviation market to enable passengers to get home on other airlines. With tens of thousands of passengers abroad and with no easy means of returning to the UK, I therefore instructed the CAA to ensure all those currently abroad were offered an alternative flight home.

As of last night, around 80,000 passengers have returned to the UK – almost three quarters of the total number who were abroad at the time of the collapse. We have also deployed teams of government officials to overseas airports to provide advice and assistance to passengers.

Mr Speaker, despite robust plans and their success so far, this is a hugely distressing situation for all concerned. One of my top priorities has been to help those passengers abroad get safely back to the UK.

Employees

But in addition to supporting passengers, we have also been working across government to ensure the almost 2,000 former Monarch employees receive the support they need.

I am pleased to report that airlines have already been directly appealing to Monarch’s former employees. For instance, Virgin Atlantic are offering a fast track recruitment process for cabin crew and pilots, and easyJet have invited applications for 500 cabin crew vacancies. EasyJet are also calling for direct-entry Captains or First Officers who meet Captain qualifications.

All former Monarch employees will have received information from Jobcentre Plus outlining the support available to them. In total, Jobcentre Plus has pulled together a list of more than 6,300 vacancies across the major UK based airlines – around 3 times the number of people made redundant – which will help former Monarch employees remain in the airline industry.

Both I and the Aviation Minister have been in contact with those members whose constituencies will have been hardest hit by these job loses, and given assurances that we will work with the industry to offer what support we can.

Taxpayer

However, I am also aware of the duty this government has to the taxpayer, and while affected passengers have been told they will not have to pay to be flown back to the UK, we have entered into discussions with several third parties with a view to recovering some of the costs of this operation.

The ATOL scheme will of course provide the financial cover for those with ATOL protection. We are currently engaged in constructive discussions with the relevant credit and debit card providers in order that we might recoup from them some of the cost to taxpayers of these repatriation flights. We are also having similar discussions with other travel providers through which passengers may have booked a Monarch holiday and I would like to thank them for their constructive behaviour and approach.

Mr Speaker, the initial response to this unprecedented situation would not have been as successful were it not for the support and cooperation of many players.

The loss of a major British brand, which was close to celebrating its half-century, is undoubtedly a sad moment. However this should not be seen as a reflection on the general health of the UK aviation industry, which continues to thrive.

We have never had the collapse of an airline or holiday company on this scale before. We have responded swiftly and decisively. Right now our efforts are rightly focused on getting employees into new jobs, and passengers home. But then our efforts will turn to working through the reforms necessary to ensure passengers do not find themselves in this position again. We need to look at all the options, not just ATOL, but also whether it is possible for airlines to be able to wind down in an orderly manner and look after their customers themselves without the need for government to step in. This is where we will focus our efforts in the weeks and months ahead.

This has been an unprecedented response to an unprecedented situation, and I am grateful to all parties who have stepped in to support those affected.

Theresa May – 2017 Statement on the UK Leaving the EU

Below is the text of the statement made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, in the House of Commons on 9 October 2017.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to update the House on our plans for leaving the European Union.

Today the fifth round of negotiations begins in Brussels and this government is getting on with the job of delivering the democratic will of the British people.

As I set out in my speech in Florence we want to take a creative and pragmatic approach to securing a new, deep and special partnership with the European Union which spans both a new economic relationship and a new security relationship.

So let me set out what each of these relationships could look like – before turning to how we get there.

Economic partnership

Mr Speaker, I have been clear that when we leave the European Union we will no longer be members of its single market or its customs union.

The British people voted for control of their borders, their laws and their money. And that is what this government is going to deliver.

At the same time we want to find a creative solution to a new economic relationship that can support prosperity for all our peoples.

We do not want to settle for adopting a model enjoyed by other countries.

So we have rejected the idea of something based on European Economic Area membership. For this would mean having to adopt – automatically and in their entirety – new EU rules over which, in future, we will have little influence and no vote.

Neither are we seeking a Canadian-style free trade agreement. For compared with what exists today, this would represent such a restriction on our mutual market access that it would benefit none of our economies.

Instead I am proposing a unique and ambitious economic partnership. It will reflect our unprecedented position of starting with the same rules and regulations. We will maintain our unequivocal commitment to free trade and high standards. And we will need a framework to manage where we continue to align and where we choose to differ.

There will be areas of policy and regulation which are outside the scope of our trade and economic relations where this should be straightforward.

There will be areas which do affect our economic relations where we and our European friends may have different goals; or where we share the same goals but want to achieve them through different means.

And there will be areas where we want to achieve the same goals in the same ways, because it makes sense for our economies.

And because rights and obligations must be held in balance, the decisions we both take will have consequences for the UK’s access to the EU market – and EU access to our market.

But this dynamic, creative and unique economic partnership will enable the UK and the EU to work side by side in bringing shared prosperity to our peoples.

Security relationship

Let me turn to the new security relationship.

As I said when I visited our troops serving on the NATO mission in Estonia last month, the United Kingdom is unconditionally committed to maintaining Europe’s security.

And we will continue to offer aid and assistance to EU member states that are the victims of armed aggression, terrorism and natural or man-made disasters.

So we are proposing a bold new strategic agreement that provides a comprehensive framework for future security, law enforcement and criminal justice co-operation: a treaty between the UK and the EU.

We are also proposing a far reaching partnership on how together we protect Europe from the threats we face in the world today.

So this partnership will be unprecedented in its breadth and depth, taking in cooperation on diplomacy, defence and security, and development.

Implementation

Let me turn to how we build a bridge from where we are now to the new relationship that we want to see.

When we leave the European Union on 29th March 2019 neither the UK, nor the EU and its Members States, will be in a position to implement smoothly many of the detailed arrangements that will underpin this new relationship we seek.

Businesses will need time to adjust and governments will need to put new systems in place. And businesses want certainty about the position in the interim.

That is why I suggested in my speech at Lancaster House there should be a period of implementation – and why I proposed such a period in my speech in Florence last month.

During this strictly time-limited period, we will have left the EU and its institutions, but we are proposing that for this period access to one another’s markets should continue on current terms and Britain also should continue to take part in existing security measures.

The framework for this period, which can be agreed under Article 50, would be the existing structure of EU rules and regulations.

Now I know some people may have some concerns about this. But there are two reasons why it makes sense.

First, we want our departure from the EU to be as smooth as possible – it wouldn’t make sense to make people and businesses plan for two sets of changes in the relationship between the UK and the EU.

Second, we should concentrate our negotiating time and capital on what really matters – the future long-term relationship we will have with the EU after this temporary period ends.

During the implementation period, people will continue to be able to come and live and work in the UK; but there will be a registration system – an essential preparation for the new immigration system required to re-take control of our borders.

And our intention is that new arrivals would be subject to new rules for EU citizens on long term settlement.

We will also push forward on our future independent trade policy, talking to trading partners across the globe and preparing to introduce those deals once this period is over.

How long the period is should be determined simply by how long it will take to prepare and implement the new systems we need.

As of today, these considerations point to an implementation period of around two years.

And as I said in Florence – because I don’t believe that either the EU or the British people will want us to stay longer in the existing structures than necessary, we could also agree to bring forward aspects of that future framework, such as new dispute resolution mechanisms, more quickly if this can be done smoothly.

At the heart of these arrangements, there should be a clear double lock: guaranteeing a period of implementation giving businesses and people the certainty they will be able to prepare for the change; and guaranteeing this implementation period will be time-limited, giving everyone the certainty this will not go on forever.

Negotiations

Mr Speaker, the purpose of the Florence speech was to move the negotiations forward and that is exactly what has happened.

As Michel Barnier said after the last round, there is a “new dynamic” in the negotiations. And I want to pay tribute to my Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union for all he has done to drive through real and tangible progress on a number of vital areas.

On citizens’ rights, as I have said many times this government greatly values the contributions of all EU citizens who have made their lives in our country. We want them to stay.

In Florence, I gave further commitments that the rights of EU citizens in the UK – and UK citizens in the EU – will not diverge over time, committing to incorporate our agreement on citizens’ rights fully into UK law and making sure the UK courts can refer directly to it.

Since Florence there has been more progress including reaching agreement on reciprocal healthcare and pensions, and encouraging further alignment on a range of important social security rights.

So I hope our negotiating teams can now reach full agreement quickly.

On Northern Ireland, we have now begun drafting joint principles on preserving the Common Travel Area and associated rights. And we have both stated explicitly we will not accept any physical infrastructure at the border.

We owe it to the people of Northern Ireland – and indeed to everyone on the island of Ireland – to get this right.

Then there is the question of the EU budget.

As I have said, this can only be resolved as part of the settlement of all the issues that we are working through.

Still I do not want our partners to fear that they will need to pay more or receive less over the remainder of the current budget plan as a result of our decision to leave. The UK will honour commitments we have made during the period of our membership.

And as we move forwards, we will also want to continue working together in ways that promote the long-term economic development of our continent.

This includes continuing to take part in those specific policies and programmes which are greatly to our joint advantage, such as those that promote science, education and culture – and those that promote our mutual security.

And as I set out in my speech at Lancaster House, in doing so, we would want to make a contribution to cover our fair share of the costs involved.

Mr Speaker, I continued discussions on many of these issues when I met with European leaders in Tallinn at the end of last month.

And in the bi-lateral discussions I have had with Chancellor Merkel, Prime Minister Szydlo, President Tusk and the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, they welcomed the tone set in Florence and the impact this was having on moving the negotiations forwards.

Legislation

Mr Speaker, preparing for life outside the EU is also about the legislative steps we take.

Our EU Withdrawal Bill will shortly enter Committee Stage, carrying over EU rules and regulations into our domestic law from the moment we leave the EU.

And today we are publishing two White Papers on trade and customs. These pave the way for legislation to allow the UK to operate as an independent trading nation and to create an innovative customs system that will help us achieve the greatest possible tariff and barrier-free trade as we leave the EU.

And while I believe it is profoundly in all our interests for the negotiations to succeed, it is also our responsibility as a government to prepare for every eventuality. So that is exactly what we are doing.

These White Papers also support that work, including setting out steps to minimise disruption for businesses and travellers.

Conclusion

Mr Speaker, a new, deep and special partnership between a sovereign United Kingdom and a strong and successful European Union is our ambition and our offer to our European friends.

Achieving that partnership will require leadership and flexibility, not just from us but from our friends, the 27 nations of the EU.

And as we look forward to the next stage, the ball is in their court. But I am optimistic it will receive a positive response.

Because what we are seeking is not just the best possible deal for us – but I believe that will also be the best possible deal for our European friends too.

So while, of course, progress will not always be smooth; by approaching these negotiations in a constructive way – in a spirit of friendship and co-operation and with our sights firmly set on the future – I believe we can prove the doomsayers wrong.

And I believe we can seize the opportunities of this defining moment in the history of our nation.

Mr Speaker, a lot of the day to day coverage is about process. But this, on the other hand, is vitally important.

I am determined to deliver what the British people voted for and to get it right.

That is my duty as Prime Minister.

It is our duty as a Government.

And it is what we will do.

And I commend this Statement to the House.