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

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prime Minister Zapatero

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prime Minister

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

Question

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

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

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

Prime Minister Zapatero

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

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

Question

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

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

Prime Minister Zapatero

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

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

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

Question

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

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

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

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

Prime Minister Zapatero

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

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

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

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

Question

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

Prime Minister Zapatero

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

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

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

Prime Minister

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

David Cameron – 2011 Press Conference with the South African President

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

President Jacob Zuma

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

President Jacob Zuma

Thank you very much.

Question

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

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question

And John Yates?

Prime Minister

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

President Jacob Zuma

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

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

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

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

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

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

Question

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

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

President Jacob Zuma

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

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

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

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

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

David Cameron – 2011 Speech on Education

davidcameron

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First, ramping up standards.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

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

David Cameron – 2011 Speech in Moscow

davidcameron

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

David Cameron – 2011 Press Conference Following G8 Summit

davidcameron

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

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

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

Middle East and North Africa

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

And I would argue that we have responded.

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

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

That is exactly what has been agreed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I reject this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aid

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Communique is clear on this.

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

That means numbers in real terms not just cash terms.

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

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

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

It’s not just about handing over money.

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

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

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

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

Libya

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Every G8 nation has signed up to this.

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

This has been a timely meeting at a critical moment.

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

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

Thank you.

David Cameron – 2011 Address to the Northern Ireland Assembly

davidcameron

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

Mr Speaker,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two events last month stand testament to that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My commitment

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

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

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

There are some things Westminster is responsible for.

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

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

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

I am passionate about this part of the United Kingdom…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The linkages and connections between our peoples are so strong.

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

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

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

Shared future not shared out future

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clearly, more needs to be done.

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

We will support you in whatever ways we can.

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

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

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

Truth, respect, devolution

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

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

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

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

And I did not put it off.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My views on the Union are well known.

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

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

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

It rests in the hands of the people here.

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

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

I will also stand by the devolution settlement.

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

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

They are for you to decide according to your priorities.

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

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

We agree with Bertie Ahern who said in 2008:

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

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

Economic realities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The challenge is to attract that investment.

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

Others are the preserve of Westminster.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Security and terrorism

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

There are some areas where I am in the lead.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

My door is open when circumstances require it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Cameron – 2010 Speech on Tourism

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

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

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

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

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

Economy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pride in our country

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An unprecedented opportunity

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

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

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

We can do even better – the missed opportunity

We must not let these opportunities slip through our grasp.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The strongest possible tourism strategy

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

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

What Government does nationally

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

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

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

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

Local Government and the support of the local area

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stimulating the private sector

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

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

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

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

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

Other key policy areas that affect tourism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

David Cameron – 2010 Speech on HMS Ark Royal

davidcameron

Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, on HMS Ark Royal on 24th June 2010.

Thank you very much indeed, and can I say what a huge honour it is for me to be aboard HMS Ark Royal, and to see you all today. I know that I am only the warm-up act, because I was speaking last night to Her Majesty – how much I love being able to say that – and she told me how delighted and excited she was about coming to see again her beloved Ark Royal as she will be next week.

I wanted to come here today for one reason, and one reason alone. I know that all of you probably think that back in the United Kingdom, all we are thinking about is eleven people who are going to take to that football pitch on Sunday. Of course, everyone is willing them on, but I can tell you that everyone in our country is thinking of something else as well, and that is the enormous debt that we owe to our armed services for everything that you do for us. Saturday is Armed Services Day, and I wanted to be here with you before that, to say to you as directly as I can how much we owe our armed services – our Air Force, our Royal Navy, our Army – for everything that you do to keep us safe.

The first thing I wanted to say is a very, very big thank you. You work incredibly long hours. You are taken away from your loved ones. You spend a long time away from home and at sea. You do a job that many of us simply couldn’t do, and it’s right that we should say a very big thank you for what you do. Samuel Johnson once said that every man looks at himself more meanly if he has never been a soldier or never been to sea, and that is right, so thank you for your courage, your dedication, your professionalism, and for what you do.

The second thing I wanted to say is that I think we should take huge pride in our Royal Navy.  Standing here on the fifth Ark Royal, and thinking of all our incredible naval history, from Nelson back to Drake, from Trafalgar to Jutland – history that I hope we can now teach properly in our schools – we should be proud of all we have achieved in the past, but we should also be very proud of all that we are going to do in the future.  We have a great naval future as well as a great naval past. I know that sometimes, with everything that has been happening in Afghanistan, that the Royal Navy can sometimes feel a little forgotten.  I will never forget what you do, and no one should ever forget that in Afghanistan, an important part of the Royal Navy, the Marine Commandos, are fighting incredibly hard in Afghanistan on our behalf.  We have heard more bad news overnight about casualties in Afghanistan, and our hearts should go out to every one of those men and their families and the loved ones that they leave behind.

As well as talking about the debt of gratitude that we owe, as well as speaking about our proud naval tradition, I also wanted to say something about the Strategic Defence Review that we are undertaking, that I know of course causes huge concern and worry right across our armed services.  It is right that we have one.  We have not asked the fundamental questions about the defence of our country, about our role in the world, since 1998.  If you think of all the things that have happened since then – the actions that you have taken part in, in Sierra Leone, and Kosovo; the wars that we fought in Iraq and Afghanistan – huge changes have taken place in our world: the attacks of 9/11; the attacks in our own country in July 2005.  It is time for us to think again about how to make our country safe, how to project power in the world, how to look after our national interest, and how to make sure we are secure for the future.  That is what we should do.

I know absolutely that the Royal Navy will have a huge role to play in that future.  We are a trading nation.  We have got to keep our sea-lanes open.  We want to stop drugs coming from our shores, and that is the work that you do.  We have to deal with the appalling threat of piracy off the Horn of Africa; that is what you do.  We have to make sure we keep vital sea-lanes open, and the work in the Gulf; that is what the Royal Navy is doing today.  I know that whatever the outcome of this review, whatever the changes we will have to make, we should make them together and recognise that the Royal Navy is going to have a huge role to play in our future, in our defence, and in our security.

The last thing I wanted to say to you today is simply this: I am very aware that as the British Prime Minister, I can expect incredible things from you.  Dedication, bravery, courage, service.  I want to say what you can expect from me.  There is this thing called the Military Covenant, written down, which is what the country offers you in return for what you offer us.  You do so much: you put your lives on the line, your safety on the line, and it is time for us to rewrite that Military Covenant, to make sure that we are doing everything we can for you and your families at home, whether it is the schools you send you children to, whether it is the healthcare that you can expect, whether it is the fact that there should be a dedicated military ward for anyone who gets injured or wounded in Afghanistan or elsewhere.  I want all of these things refreshed and renewed and written down in a new Military Covenant that we write into the law of our land so we show how we stand up for our armed services.

As far as I am concerned, public service is a vital part of our country, and you are at the noblest end of public service.  A great military commander once said that those things we do for ourselves, die with us; those things we do in the service of others, they live forever.  That is what you do in the Royal Navy; that is what you do in our armed services.  I am here as the new British Prime Minister to say a very big thank you for your service, your dedication, your courage and all that you do on this historic ship, in this great place, at this time, with Her Majesty the Queen coming to see you next week.

Thank you for all you do, thank you for all you are, thank you for all you represent, and recognise that back home in Britain, it is not just the government that reveres our armed services; it is the whole of our country, from the homecoming parades, to the businesses that allow Territorial Army reservists and other reservists to go off to sea or to fight overseas, to the great public support you see for our armed services.  We are proud of you, so thank you, and remember you are never forgotten.  Thank you very much.

David Cameron – 2010 Civil Service Live Speech

davidcameron

Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron about the Structural Reform Plans, made at the Civil Service Live event on 8th July 2010.

This is my first time here – so let me make something very clear from the start.

I have huge respect and admiration for the civil service.

In my twenties I worked in the Home Office and the Treasury.

I saw then just how talented and committed our civil servants are.

And I’ve seen it again right from the first day of this government.

Yes, I like to think we’ve given some political leadership – but it’s you and your colleagues in the civil service who have delivered.

Just think of what we’ve done – together – in two months:

The full programme for government.

The National Security Council.

The Office of Budget Responsibility.

The in-year spending review.

The emergency Budget.

The immigration cap.

The abolition of ID cards.

And we’ve taken the first steps on the long-overdue reform of our schools, our prisons, our welfare system – and of course, our political system too.

These things can’t be done by a handful of politicians.

They get done because officials get stuck in.

Whatever your political views, however hard you might have worked on a previous project…

…you always uphold the values of the civil service – integrity, honesty, objectivity, impartiality – and that’s what makes our civil service the envy of the world.

So thank you.

Deficit

Of course, this is just the beginning.

We’ve got some massive challenges ahead – and nothing looms larger than the budget deficit.

Fail to deal with this – and we risk a major crisis in our economy.

That’s why we’ve got to make these cuts.

But let’s also be clear how we will make them.

We’ve got to do this in a way that is responsible and fair – that demonstrates we’re all in this together.

That’s why we’re asking for your help.

We’ve thrown open the challenge of identifying savings to you – to the whole of the public sector…

…and the response has been fantastic – more than 50,000 ideas in just two weeks.

And tomorrow, the Chancellor and I will be setting out some of the best we’ve received.

Reform But people are making a big mistake if they think this Government is just about sorting out the deficit.

That’s not why I came into politics.

It’s not what the coalition came together for.

We came together to change our country for the better in every way.

The best schools open to the poorest children.

A first-class NHS there for everyone.

Streets that are safe, families that are stable, communities that are strong.

These ambitions haven’t died because the money is tight.

The real question is: how can we achieve these aims when there is so little money?

How can this circle be squared?

The answer is reform – radical reform.

We need to completely change the way this country is run – and that’s what I want to talk about today.

Bureaucratic accountability

Now I know you’ve heard talk of reform many times before.

I’m not going to criticise everything the previous government did.

Many of their intentions were right.

Where they went wrong with reform was the techniques they used.

Top-down. Centralising. Above all, bureaucratic.

To improve public services, to get value for money, to deliver their stated aims, they set up a system of bureaucratic accountability.

In this system of bureaucratic accountability almost everything is measured or judged against a set of targets and performance indicators, monitored and inspected centrally.

The evidence shows this hasn’t worked.

All the new learning strategies in schools – but the gap in educational achievement between the richest and poorest widened.

All those NHS targets – but cancer survival rates in Britain are among the lowest in Europe.

And worse than these failures is that the very act of imposing this top-down system has undermined the morale and judgment of so many public sector workers…

…the very thing that good public services depend on.

Democratic accountability

That was the past.

Now we have a new government.

A new coalition government, with a new approach.

We intend to do things differently, very differently.

If I could describe in one line the change we plan for the way we approach public services, and reform generally, it’s this:

We want to replace the old system of bureaucratic accountability with a new system of democratic accountability – accountability to the people, not the government machine.

We want to turn government on its head, taking power away from Whitehall and putting it into the hands of people and communities.

We want to give people the power to improve our country and public services, through transparency, local democratic control, competition and choice.

To give you just one example: instead of teachers thinking they have to impress the Department of Education, they have to impress local parents as they have a real choice over where to send their child.

It really is a total change in the way our country is run.

From closed systems to open markets.

From bureaucracy to democracy.

From big government to Big Society.

From politician power to people power.

And let me tell you why, now, this vision is possible.

It’s not just that the two parties that make up this coalition believe, instinctively, in giving more power to people.

It’s that’s where power has shifted to.

Let me explain.

A couple of centuries ago this country was in a pre-bureaucratic age – transport and communication were so slow that information and power had to be held locally.

Then with the invention of the steam engine and the telegraph we moved into the bureaucratic age…

…when it was possible and practical to file the nation’s paperwork in one corner of the country – in Whitehall – and that’s where all the power has been too.

But today, with the revolution we’ve had in communications and technology, we can move into the post-bureaucratic age…

…where information and power are held not locally or centrally but personally, by people in their homes.

And the consequences for government – and the way our whole country is run – are incredibly exciting.

It means we can abandon the old bureaucratic levers that we know have failed…

…and instead improve public services and get value for money with new approaches that put power in people’s hands.

That what I want to focus on now.

I want to explain these approaches so you understand clearly what this government expects of you…

…and so there can be no doubt about our attitude to reform – and to solving problems.

Choice

One way we can bring in real accountability is through choice.

Wherever possible, we want to give people the freedom to choose where they get treated and where they send their child to school – and back that choice up with state money.

Because when people can vote with their feet…

…it’s going to force other providers to raise their game – and that’s good for everyone.

Competition

Another tool we must use is competition.

By bringing in a whole new generation of providers – whether they’re from the private sector, or community organisations, or social enterprises – we can bring in the dynamic of competition to make our public services better.

That’s what we plan in education.

We will let any suitably qualified organization to set up a school…

…creating real diversity and real competition so there’s real pressure to raise standards.

Payment by results

Of course there are some areas where competition and choice aren’t possible.

We understand that.

So we’ll do the next best thing – and introduce the principle of paying providers by the results they achieve.

Rewarding people for work well done is a simple way of driving up standards.

There are some people who say we can’t do this – that it’s against the spirit of public services.

I say: we can’t afford not to do this.

You wouldn’t have a plumber round to your house and pay them for ruining your drains.

Why should public services be any different?

So we’ll pay welfare-to-work providers not just by how many they get into work but how many stay in work.

And we’re going to pay independent providers – and eventually prisons – by the levels of re-offending.

Elections

Sometimes it won’t be possible to have choice, or competition, or to pay by results.

But that doesn’t mean we have to give up on bringing in people power.

Here, we should have direct democracy.

That’s what we’re doing with policing.

Instead of having chief constables answer to Whitehall, we will make them answer to police commissioners with a mandate to set local policing priorities.

That mandate will have been earned through election – and those priorities will have been developed with the consent of local people.

So police will stop looking to Whitehall for direction and start looking to people.

Transparency

And whatever the circumstance, there is one tool that we will always try to use – and that is transparency.

We’re shining a light on everything government does…

…not just the pay, the perks and where public money is spent…

…but on how well that money is spent, too – on health outcomes, school results, crime figures.

That way people can see the value they’re getting for their money and hold us to account for it.

I know there are some people who think this is unfair.

I’m sorry, I just don’t agree.

We are the servants of the people of this country.

They are the boss.

Where is it said that the boss is told they can’t look at the books or know the pay of their staff?

It doesn’t happen in the private sector and from now on it won’t happen in the public sector.

More for less

All these different approaches are designed to put people in charge and give us services that are more local, more responsive and more effective.

And there’s another big, important by-product of these reforms.

They’re going to help us save money.

Not just because we can scrap the whole expensive apparatus of top-down bureaucracy and inspection.

But because when people have the power to hold public services to account, they’ll help make sure they’re less wasteful and more effective.

When social enterprises and charities have the power to compete in the public sector, that will increase competition, drive costs down and put pressure on existing providers to raise their game.

And when these providers are paid by the results they achieve, we can get value for money.

Arguments against reform

But I know there are people who questions our plans for reform.

They say it will be the poorest who lose out when you increase choice.

They say it will create wider gaps between communities, with some getting left behind.

They say when you increase competition some organisations will fail – and that will disadvantage the people who use them.

I’m going to be taking on all these arguments in the weeks ahead.

But on the fairness point – because it’s so important – let me say this briefly today.

The old top-down system failed the poorest.

It widened inequality.

In a system where people have no choice, it’s the richest who can opt out while the poorest have to take what they’re given.

And just consider the evidence of the most recent years, in those areas where principles of competition, choice and greater independence for institutions have been introduced.

Academies are transforming education results in our poorest communities.

Some foundation hospitals are bringing the very best care to the people who need it most.

More independence, more freedom, more openness – and standards are raised across the board – improving life for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged as well as for the better off

That’s why we are so determined to press on, go further and go faster in bringing about a real people power revolution.

Structural Reform plans

So what part will all you have to play in making this change happen?

Going from bureaucratic accountability to democratic accountability will require radical reform.

I need your help to make these reforms happen.

But let me be very clear: I do not want you and your colleagues to think your role is to guarantee the outcomes we want to see in our public services – or to directly intervene in organisations to try and improve their performance.

It’s our job – we as politicians, you as civil servants – to create the conditions in which performance will improve, by making sure professionals answer to the public.

And today, we’re announcing how we want to keep those reforms on track.

Starting with schools and local government, we will be publishing Structural Reform Plans for every Whitehall Department.

They will be part of the full departmental business plans published after the Spending Review.

And I want to be very clear about how they are different from the old top-down system you are used to.

They’re different because in these plans you will not find targets – but specific deadlines for specific action.

Not what we hope to achieve – but the actions we will take.

They will show how each department plans to bring democratic accountability – how they will create the structures that put people in charge, not politicians.

I want you to read these reform plans and work with them.

They mean a real culture shift for you, a sea change in what you do.

Where there has been caution about devolving power there’s got to be trust.

Where there has been an aversion to risk, there needs to be boldness.

I’m telling you today that your job under this government is not to frustrate local people and local ideas, it is to enable them.

Conclusion

Everything I have spoken about today – the ideas that lead the reform, the plans that shape it, the deadlines that will drive it – these things do not guarantee success.

A lot of the ideas, the impetus needs to come from you.

I hope I’ve left you with a very clear idea of what we want to achieve.

You need to know, instinctively, what will get a green light or a red light from me.

If you want to make our public services more transparent, open them up to make them more diverse, to give people more power and control – you can be confident it will get the green light.

But if you want to set targets, set new controls, impose new rules, don’t bother because you’re likely to get the red light.

This government believes you get value for money by opening services to choice and competition…

…by trusting professionals and restoring their discretion…

…by publishing in full all the information.

This government believes in accountability: but it has to be democratic accountability, not bureaucratic accountability.

Be in no doubt about our determination to do this.

Yes, we’ll deal with the deficit – but we’ll also completely change the way our country is run.

So let’s push power out, let’s reform our public services, and let’s change our country for the better.

Let’s bring on the people power revolution.

David Cameron – 2010 Speech on the Economy

davidcameron

Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, on the economy. The speech was held in Milton Keynes on 7th June 2010.

Today my speech is about the deficit and the debt and the financial problems that we face. But at the same time as that we must never take our eyes off the need for building strong and sustained economic growth in Britain, growth in which our universities – and perhaps the Open University in particular – should play a huge part.

The knowledge-based economy is the economy of the future, and in building that economy and in recognising that it is not just about young people’s skills but about people’s skills all through their lives, the Open University has a huge, huge role to play. It is a great British innovation and invention and it is a privilege to be here this morning.

I have been in office for a month and I have spent much of that time discussing with the Chancellor and with government officials the most urgent issue facing Britain today, and that is our massive deficit and our growing debt. How we deal with these things will affect our economy and our society, indeed our whole way of life.

The decisions we make will affect every single person in the country and the effects of those decisions will stay with us for years, perhaps even decades, to come. And it is precisely because these decisions are so momentous, because they all have such enormous implications and because we cannot afford either to duck them or to get them wrong, that I want to make sure we go about the urgent task of cutting our deficit in a way that is open, responsible, and fair.

I want this government to carry out Britain’s unavoidable deficit-reduction plan in a way that tries to strengthen and unite our country at the same time. I have said before that as we deal with the debt crisis we must take the whole country with us, and I mean it. George Osborne has said that our plans to cut the deficit must be based on the belief that we are all in this together, and he means it.

Tomorrow, George Osborne and Danny Alexander will publish the framework for this year’s Spending Review. They will explain the principles that will underpin our approach and the process we intend to follow including, vitally, a process to engage and involve the whole country in the difficult decisions that will have to be taken.

But today, I want to set out for the country the big arguments that form the background to the inevitably painful times that lie ahead of us. Why we need to do this, why the overall scale of the problem is even worse than we thought and why its potential consequences, and the consequences of inaction, are therefore more critical than we originally feared.

There are three simple reasons why we have to deal with the country’s debts. One: the more the government borrows, the more it has to repay; the more it has to repay, the more lenders worry about getting their money back; and the more lenders start to worry, the less confidence there is in our economy.

Two: investors – people lending us this money – they do not have to put their money in Britain. They will only do so if they are confident the economy is being run properly, and if confidence in our economy is hit, we run the risk of higher interest rates.

Three: the real, human, everyday reason this is the most urgent problem facing Britain, is that higher interest rates hurt every family and every business in our land. They mean higher mortgage rates and lower employment. They mean that instead of your taxes going to pay for the things we all want, like schools and hospitals and police, your money, the money you work so hard for, is going on paying the interest on our national debt. That is why we have to do something about this.

This argument that we have consistently made, for urgent action to start tackling the deficit this year and an accelerated plan for eliminating it over the years ahead, has already been backed by the Bank of England and the Treasury’s own analysis. It has been made more urgent still by the sovereign debt crisis in the Eurozone over recent months. The global financial markets are no longer focusing simply on the financial position of the banks. They want to know that the governments that have supported the banks over the last 18 months are taking the actions to bring their own finances under control.

This weekend in South Korea, George Osborne received explicit backing from the G20 for the actions this government has already taken. Around the world people and their governments are waking up to the dangers of not dealing with their debts, and Britain has got to be part of that international mainstream as well.

So we are clear about what we must do. We have also been clear about how we must do it – as the Deputy Prime Minister has said – in a way that protects the poorest and the most vulnerable in our society, in a way that unites our country rather than divides it, and in a way that demonstrates that we are all in this together.

And we should be clear too that these problems have not just appeared overnight. [Party political content]. Now that we have had a chance to look at what has really been going on, I want to tell you the scale of the problem that we face.

We have known for a long time that our debts are huge. Last year, our budget deficit was the largest in our peacetime history. This year – at least according to the previous government’s forecasts – it is set to be over 11% of GDP, of our whole national income.

Today, our national debt stands at £770 billion. Within just five years it is set to nearly double to £1.4 trillion. To put it in perspective, that is some £22,000 for every man, woman and child in our country.

Now, we knew this before. Soon, the independent Office for Budget Responsibility will set out independent forecasts that will show the scale of the problem we are in today. For the first time people will be able to see a really truly independent assessment of the nation’s finances and the size of the structural deficit.

This important innovation has been noticed around the world, and I believe will help restore confidence in our fiscal framework. But what I can tell you today – and what we did not know for sure before, in fact what we could not know, because the previous Chancellor of the Exchequer did not make the figures available – is how much the interest on our debt is likely to increase in the years to come.

We have looked at the figures and, based on the calculations of the last government, in five years’ time the interest we are paying on our debt – the interest alone, not the debt itself – is predicted to be around £70 billion. That is a simply staggering amount. [Party political content.]

Let me explain what it means. Today we spend more on debt interest than we do on running our schools. But £70 billion means spending more on debt interest than we currently do on running our schools in England, plus on combating climate change, plus everything we spend on transport. Interest payments of £70 billion mean that for every single pound you pay in tax, 10 pence would be spent on the interest on our debt. Not paying off the debt itself, just paying the interest on the debt.

Is that what people work so hard for, that their hard-earned taxes are blown on interest payments on the national debt? Think about it another way: corporation tax raises £36 billion a year, so all the money from all the tax on all the profits on every single company in Britain just pays a little bit more than half of the interest on our national debt. That is how serious this problem is. What a terrible, terrible waste of money.

So, this is how bad things are. This is how far we have been living beyond our means. That is the legacy that our generation threatens to leave the next unless we act. So no one can deny the scale of the problem, and that the scale is huge. But what makes this such a monumental challenge is the nature of the problem.

There are some who say that our massive deficit is just because we have been in a recession, and that when growth comes back everything will somehow be okay. But there is a flaw in this argument and it is rather a major flaw: we had a significant deficit problem way before the recession. In fact, much of the deficit is what they call ‘structural’. A problem built up before the recession, caused by the government spending and planning to spend more than we could afford. It had nothing to do with the recession and so a return to growth will not sort it out.

This really is the crux of the problem we face today and the reason we can’t just sit here and hope for the best. The previous government really did think that they had abolished boom and bust. They thought the good times would go on forever; the economy would keep on growing and they could keep on spending.

But the truth about that economic growth – and the tragedy – is that it was based on things that could never go on forever. The economy was based on a boom in financial services, which at its peak accounted for a quarter of all corporation-tax receipts. But this was unsustainable because the success of financial services – a great and important industry – was partly an illusion, conjured from years of low interest rates, cheap money and a bubble in the price of assets like houses.

The economy was based on a boom in immigration, which at one point accounted for a fifth of our annual economic growth. But this was unsustainable because it is just not possible to keep bringing more and more people into our country to work while at the same time leaving millions of people to live a life on welfare.

The economy was based on a boom in government spending, with some budgets doubled or even trebled in a decade. Again, this was not sustainable because, in the end, someone has to pay for all that spending. So when the inevitable happened and when the boom turned to bust, this country was left high and dry with a massive deficit that threatens to loom over our economy and our society for a generation. So the problem we face today is not just the size of our debts, but the nature of them.

We are now publishing the information about how all your money is spent. We are shining a spotlight on where the waste went and it is a scandalous sight to see: a Department for Work and Pensions that increased benefit spending by over £20 billion and gave some families – some individual families – as much as £93,000 in housing benefit every year; a Ministry of Defence that allowed 14 major projects to overrun, which at the last count are between them £4.5 billion over budget; a Department of Health which almost doubled the number of managers in the NHS; and a Treasury that sanctioned all of this because it published growth forecasts that were far more optimistic than independent forecasters’.

And look at how [this was done] while at the same time doing so much damage to the fundamentals of our economy: letting it get completely out of balance by hitching our fortunes to a select few industries; accepting as a fact of life that eight million people are economically inactive in our country; and allowing our economy to become far too dependent on a public sector whose productivity was falling; and far too hostile, I would argue, to a private sector that has now actually shrunk in size to a level not seen since 2004.

Nothing illustrates better the total irresponsibility of this approach than the fact that [party political content] unaffordable government spending [increased] even when the economy was shrinking. By the end of last year our economy was 4% smaller than in 2007. But if you look behind the headline figures, you see why we face such a massive deficit crisis today: because while the private sector of the economy was shrinking, the public sector was continuing its inexorable expansion. While everyday life was tough for people who didn’t work in the public sector with job losses, pay cuts, reduced working hours, falling profits, for those in the public sector, life went on much as before.

Since 2007 public spending has actually gone up by over 15% – some extra £120 billion in just three years. And while private-sector employment fell in this period by 3.7%, public-sector employment actually rose. So it has been, if you like, a tale of two economies: a public-sector boom and a private-sector bust.

But there was a problem with this public-sector splurge. The previous government argued that more spending would support the economy, conveniently forgetting that if you start with a large structural deficit, you ramp up spending even further, which is actually going to undermine confidence and investment, rather than encourage it. So, while the people employed by the taxpayer were insulated from the harsh realities of the recession, everyone else in the economy was starting to pay the price.

And now, today, we’re all paying the price because the size of the public sector has got way out of step with the size of the private sector. We’re going to have to try and get it back in line and that will be much more painful than if we had kept things properly in balance all along.

And the final part of the legacy is the fact the money the government put in to the public sector did not make it dramatically better or more efficient.

So, while the cutbacks that are coming are unavoidable now, they could have been avoided if previously we had spent wisely instead of showering the public sector with cash at a time when everyone else in the country was tightening their belt.

So that is the overall scale and nature of the problem. And I want to be equally clear about what the potential consequences are if we fail to act decisively and quickly to cut spending, to bring our borrowing down and to reduce our deficit.

If we do nothing, there are three possible scenarios. As we have seen, the best-case scenario is that we pay increasingly punishing amounts of interest on our debt, dozens of billions every year without ever actually paying our debts off. That huge drain on the public finances would threaten the money that could have been spent on the things we really want to spend it on: improving the NHS; giving our children a better education; investing in our country’s infrastructure. This, the best-case scenario, I would describe as dire, unprogressive, a bad outcome for our country.

But, as I say, that’s the best case. If we fail to confront our problems we could suffer worse, a steady, painful erosion of confidence in our economy, because today almost every major country in the world is focusing on the need to cut their deficits. And the G20 has called on those countries with the biggest deficits to accelerate their plans for reducing them.

If, in Britain, investors saw no will at the top of government to get a grip on our public finances, they would doubt Britain’s ability to pay its way. That means they would demand a higher price for taking our debt, interest rates would have to rise, investment would fall. If that were to happen, there would be no proper growth, there would be no real recovery, there would be no substantial new jobs because Britain’s economy would be beginning a slide to decline.

These outcomes would be nothing less than disastrous, in my view, not just for our economy but for our society too, and our vision of a Britain, which we want to see, that is more free, more fair and more responsible.

But even more worrying is the example of Greece – a sudden loss of confidence and a sharp increase in interest rates. Now, let me be clear: our debts are not as bad as Greece’s; our underlying economic position is much stronger than Greece’s; and crucially we now have a government that I would argue has already demonstrated its willingness and its ability to deal with the problem. But Greece stands as a warning of what happens to countries that lose their credibility, or whose governments pretend that difficult decisions can somehow be avoided.

Thankfully this is a warning that has now focused the attention of the international community. This is why we believe there is only one option in front of us: to take immediate and decisive action. That’s why we have already launched and completed an in-year Spending Review to save £6 billion of public spending.

It’s why, shortly, our new, independent Office for Budget Responsibility will set out independent forecasts for both our growth and borrowing so that never again can this country sleepwalk into such a massive debt crisis. Our actions have already been noticed around the world, and I’m glad the G20 summit this weekend explicitly endorsed the decisions we have taken.

So this is the sober reality that I have to set out for the country today. The legacy left [party political content] is terrible. The private sector has shrunk back to what it was over six years ago. Unless we act now, interest payments in five years’ time could end up being higher than the sums we spend on our schools, on climate change and on transport combined.

Because the legacy we have been left is so bad, the measures that we need to deal with it will be unavoidably tough. But people’s lives – and this is vital – people’s lives will be worse unless we do something now. The cause of building a fairer society will be set back for years unless we do something now. We are not alone in this; many countries around the world have been living beyond their means and they too are having to face the music. And I make this promise to everyone in Britain: you will not be left on your own in this. We are all in this together and we are going to get through this together. We will carry out Britain’s unavoidable deficit-reduction plan in a way that strengthens and unites the country.

We are not doing this because we want to. We are not driven by some theory or some ideology. We are doing this as a government because we have to, driven by the urgent truth that unless we do so, people will suffer and our national interest will suffer too. But this government will not cut this deficit in a way that hurts those we most need to help, in a way that divides our country or in a way that undermines the spirit and ethos of our vital public services.

Freedom, fairness, responsibility: those are the values that drive this government; they are the values that will drive our efforts to deal with our debts and to turn this country around.

So yes, it will be tough. I make no bones about that, but we will get through this together and Britain and all of us will come out stronger on the other side. Thank you for listening.

 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:

Question

Prime Minister, you say we’re all in this together. Does that include the right-wing of your party, who have been lobbying so hard against any tax rises?

Prime Minister

That includes everybody. I mean I would argue the government immediately signalled the sign that we’re all in it together by actually saying that we’ve got to start with ourselves, that ministers should take a pay cut, that ministerial limousines should be cut back, that we’ve got to make sure Parliament costs less money and, yes, it does mean that we have to carry through tax policies, some of which we inherited from the previous government in terms of top rates of tax, as part of the picture.

So I think picking out those two areas is right, and it will help us to make the moral argument about what sort of country this is as we deal with the incredibly difficult decisions that we have in front of us. That’s what the coalition has to do. It is going to be a very, very difficult task, but I believe it’s a task that actually helps to bring us together in this common endeavour of making sure that at the end of this five-year period, at the end of a Budget and a spending round that will be difficult, that actually people say we sorted out our problems, we paid down our debts, we found our way in the world again, we started to grow again, we started to get an economy that was about jobs and living standards and things that we want. That’s what this is about: yes, difficulties, but, as I said in the speech, we’ll come through it together and in the end we will come through it stronger and it’ll be something that Britain will be able to turn round to others in the world and say we did this important thing. It needed to be done, we did it, we did it well, and we’re a better off country as a result of it. That’s what this challenge is about.

Thank you very much for coming. Thank you to the Open University again and thank you very much for listening. In terms of capital-gains tax, I think people understand we need to raise some modest additional revenue from capital-gains tax to pay for the increase in tax allowances that we all want to see to help the low paid, to help protect, as I said, the people that we want to help most at this time.

And I think people also understand, and actually if you read any of the things written by anyone who is concerned about capital-gains tax, they all understand this massive leakage of revenue that takes place when you have a very low rate of capital-gains tax and a very high rate of income tax. And clearly it would be irresponsible to allow that massive leakage to take place; we do need to be in a position where we get our deficit down. I think people understand that, but they know that there’ll be an answer in the Budget and I hope that will be an answer that people will find shows that we’ve addressed the concerns that people understandably have.

Question

Thank you, Prime Minister. You say these cuts will affect our whole way of life, that they will affect every individual in the country, and yet you still have not spelt out any area that you’re looking for which will be painful to people. When will you start to do that? And when ministers make comparisons with, say, Canada, they blew up a hospital in Canada, they made redundant tens of thousands of people, they cut benefits too; is that what Britain has to look forward to?

Prime Minister

Well, what I would say is this: that we’ve got a proper process for doing this, a process where we have a Budget on the 22nd of June where we’ll set out the spending over the next three years and then I want to see a proper debate take place, that involves as many people as possible, that will lead to the actual spending reductions in departments being set out and what the consequences of those spending reductions are, and I want us to go about this in the best way possible, to take people with us.

What I would say about Canada – and I was speaking to the Canadian Prime Minister about this just last week – while they do stand as an example of a government (it was a previous government) that sorted out a debt and a deficit crisis, the great warning they give is that actually they put it off for too many years before they did it, so the problem they had to solve was even worse by the time they got round to it. I’m determined, seeing the figures as I can now see, understanding the warnings which I made before but make again today, that we shouldn’t put this off. We need to get on with what needs to be done. Yes, we need to take people with us, yes, it will mean difficult departmental decisions, and, yes, it will inevitably mean some difficult decisions over big areas of spending like pay and pensions and benefits, and we need to explain those to people.

But I profoundly believe that government is about acting in the national interest. It is our national interest to do this, and it’s in our national interest to try and take the country with us as we do it, but ducking the decisions would be a complete betrayal of what I believe in, which is government, public interest, national interest, doing the right thing. If this is the right thing to do, we must be able to convince people that it’s the right thing to do, and irrespective of how unpopular some of these decisions will be, we will, I think, in the long run, be able to take people through to a brighter economic future beyond.

Question

Just quickly, you’re saying people will get a sense of what this might involve, come the autumn and the spending round? Or within weeks?

Prime Minister

There will be difficult decisions in the Budget, undoubtedly. There will then be discussions over the summer about public spending and public spending changes that are going to have to be made in different departments and, as I say, these will be relatively open discussions, because once you start setting a spending envelope for the next three years – something the last government didn’t do. Once you do that, people will see the sorts of choices that we, with them, will have to make. Perhaps Danny would like to say something about it a week into looking at some of those difficult choices.

Danny Alexander MP

Yes, thank you, Prime Minister. I mean, I’ve spent the last week looking over the books and obviously announcements will be made in the Budget and then in due course in the Spending Review, but I’m in no doubt at all, having done that, that the approach we’re setting out today is exactly the right thing to do. Because, there has been irresponsibility in the way that the previous government handled the public finances and we have to bring responsibility to the way that we do that. That’s the point of this agenda, and, in a sense, what we’re setting out today is, if we don’t take responsibility in the way that the Prime Minister has set out, what are the consequences of that? The £70 billion that we’d end up spending on debt repayments, for example, the consequence that has for money that you can’t spend on public services. That’s why, when you look at all the other options, no matter how painful what we have to do might be, we have to do it.

Prime Minister

Don’t put off what needs to be done is the thing to bear in mind.

Question

I’m interested that you say you want to engage and involve the whole country in this very painful cutting process that has to happen. It sounds good, it also sounds like it might be little more than a talking shop. How are you going to convince people that you’ll not only listen to them, but that you’ll also act on what they want and don’t want to happen?

Prime Minister

Well, that’s, to me, what politics should be about. I mean, we the politicians have got a duty, I think, to explain to the country the nature and scale of the problem. I’ve tried to do that today. I’ve tried to explain what happens if we don’t do anything, if we just sat back, took the easy course, enjoyed being in office and making decisions and having meetings, just sat there, what would happen? And actually, the consequences would be very dire. So we’ve set out the envelope, as it were, of what needs to be done. Then I think there needs to be a discussion following the Budget about, well, what are the priorities, what are the things we need to protect most of all, what are the difficult decisions that we could take, and involve people.

I don’t want to spend a lot of money doing this – there isn’t any money, as one of your predecessors put it so clearly – but I think it is a good idea to take people with you, have this discussion and debate about education spending, about whether we’re spending on transport, infrastructure, how much you try and protect capital spending, all those things, have a discussion with people, and then at the end, obviously, we have the Spending Review where you have to make your announcements.

Inevitably, we are going to make a lot of decisions that people won’t agree with, but we have to convince people first that the big decision, the need to reduce spending and get the deficit under control, is the right one, and I think once you’ve done that, then people, even if they don’t accept some of the individual decisions – because all these choices are hard choices – we can take people with us on the basis that the alternative, the doing nothing, the sitting back, the pretending somehow this is all going to be cured by growth, that would be incomparably weak. That’s what we have to try and do.

Question

Mr Prime Minister, is there a danger, in this globalised world, that by talking about things being far worse than you expected that you perhaps could be seen to be talking down the British economy which could be taken unfavourably by the markets? And also, you talk about uniting the country – isn’t there a danger that you’ll succeed not in doing that but in uniting the country against you and your government?

Prime Minister

Let me take both of those. I think there would be a danger in what you say if we hadn’t, as a government, already taken action. We’re not just arriving in government and saying, ‘Oh, look, this is all, you know, terrible.’ We’ve arrived in government and immediately had a mini-spending round and reduced spending by £6 billion in-year, so we have sent a very strong signal about that this is a government that recognises the problem, but also wants to take action to deal with the problem, and I think what I’ve set out today is a very calm and clear analysis of how bad the problem is and what the consequences are of not taking action, but I think people can judge us by what we have already done and then obviously judge us on the Budget that we announce, the spending figures we announce, the plans for the rest of the Parliament and that, I think, is what people will rightly want to hear.

Is there a danger we could unite people against us? This is fraught with danger. This is a very, very difficult thing we are trying to do. You know, I went to address all the peers in the House of Lords before the election. I remember looking round the room and there were all these great figures from the past, of Geoffrey Howe and Nigel Lawson, and no one in this country has had to deal with an 11% budget deficit before. Why? Because we haven’t had one before. This is worse than anything that people have had to deal with before, and so yes, there are great risks and great difficulties in dealing with it, but to me, the challenge of statesmanship is to take difficult decisions in the national interest because it’s the right thing to do, and you have to try and take people with you as you do that, but what is clear to me is an even easier way of uniting the entire country against you would be sitting back and waiting for the realisation to grow that Britain’s economy was hopelessly in debt, debt interest payments were eating up all of the hard-earned taxes that everyone in this room and beyond pays, and that the government was just too weak and feckless to do something about it.

We have to act, we have to convince people it’s the right thing to do, and then we have to do our best to take them with us on the difficult decisions along that path. That is what this is all about. It’s not meant to be easy, it is incredibly difficult, no one’s done it before, but we have to do our very best to deal with it and I believe that we can. And I think the coalition helps us, because we have two parties together actually facing up to the British people and saying, ‘Both of us have come to this judgment that it’s the right thing to do, and we’re going to carry this through together and we’re going to try and take you with us as we do so.’

Question

Thank you, Prime Minster. If the situation is so much worse than you previously thought, isn’t it time to take the difficult decisions as you suggest and look again at ring-fencing, protecting particular budgets, like sending billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money overseas and the Health Service, because surely everything should be up for grabs? And also, if I may, if the public sector has got too big, how much smaller should it be? Do you have any sense of the kind of share of the economy it could/should take up?

Prime Minister

I don’t believe in announcing some sort of pre-conceived share of what the government should account for in an economy; I believe in trying to get the economy growing, trying to get the private sector moving, trying to fire up the engines of entrepreneurialism so actually we have a more affordable situation, that’s what needs to happen.

In terms of the areas that we’ve ring-fenced, I think there are good reasons for them, and part of them are about what sort of country we want this to be. You know, the NHS is one of the most essential things for every family in our country, and I think it sends a very positive message to say to people: ‘yes, we are going to have to take difficult decisions, yes, there are going to have to be public spending programmes that are going to have to be cut, yes, there may be things that the government did in the past that it can’t do in the future, but when it comes to the service that every family absolutely wants to be there and provide the best they possibly can for their families, we’re going to protect that. So as we take these difficult decisions, a well-funded NHS (because health is the most important thing in your life) will be there for you.’

Again, on the issue of overseas aid, I would say that there is a very good moral argument. Britain has built a place in the world about sticking to our word on our aid commitments, and we can hold our heads up in the G20 or the EU or in any other forum in the world, on the basis that this is a generous country, a compassionate country, that even when we’re dealing with our difficult problems, we send money to other parts of the world where people are living on a dollar a day or less. And the fact that you can look in the eyes of the French politician, the Italian politician and many others and say, ‘Well, sometimes you may not say that Britain is engaged enough in these forums, but when it comes to the promises we make, we stick to them, and we stick to them on behalf of people who are living in incredible poverty, with huge difficulties’ and I think this is the sort of country that wants its government to go on being compassionate in that way, just as the people of this country themselves are compassionate when it comes to Red Nose Day or Comic Relief or all those other events where people give so generously.

So I think picking out those two areas is right, and it will help us to make the moral argument about what sort of country this is as we deal with the incredibly difficult decisions that we have in front of us. That’s what the coalition has to do. It is going to be a very, very difficult task, but I believe it’s a task that actually helps to bring us together in this common endeavour of making sure that at the end of this five-year period, at the end of a Budget and a spending round that will be difficult, that actually people say we sorted out our problems, we paid down our debts, we found our way in the world again, we started to grow again, we started to get an economy that was about jobs and living standards and things that we want. That’s what this is about: yes, difficulties, but, as I said in the speech, we’ll come through it together and in the end we will come through it stronger and it’ll be something that Britain will be able to turn round to others in the world and say we did this important thing. It needed to be done, we did it, we did it well, and we’re a better off country as a result of it. That’s what this challenge is about.

Thank you very much for coming. Thank you to the Open University again and thank you very much for listening.