David Cameron – 2013 Christmas Message

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Below is the 2013 Christmas message from David Cameron, the Prime Minister.

Christmas gives us a space when we can consider the things that we value most – family, friends and fellowship. It is a time for being hopeful for the coming year and to reflect on the one that has passed.

Looking back, 2013 has been a year when our country pulled together to overcome the challenges we face. Together we have made real progress on strengthening our economy and creating more decent jobs so that people can provide for their families. This progress is down to the efforts of millions who go out and work hard every day, putting in the hours, running businesses and keeping our economy going.

And there are those millions who keep on strengthening our society too – being good neighbours, running clubs and voluntary associations, playing their part in countless small ways to help build what I call the ‘big society’. Many of these people are Christians who live out to the letter that verse in Acts, that “it is more blessed to give than to receive”. These people put their faith into action and we can all be grateful for what they do.

2013 was a significant year for the Christian faith – a year that welcomed The Most Reverend Justin Welby as the new Archbishop of Canterbury and saw His Holiness Pope Francis elected to lead the Roman Catholic Church. Both have come in with exciting plans to rejuvenate their respective churches, which should inspire Christians around the world.

For me, this season is also a time to think about the meaning of Christmas – the birth of Jesus Christ and the hope that gives to millions. In Handel’s Messiah, these words from the Prophet Isaiah are brilliantly put to music: “His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

With peace in mind, I would like to say thank you to our brave service women and men who are helping bring peace here and around the world; to their families who cannot be with them; and to all the dedicated men and women in the emergency and caring services who are working hard to support those in need this Christmas.

Have a peaceful Christmas – and a very happy New Year.

David Cameron – 2013 Statement on 25th Anniversary of Lockerbie

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Below is the text of the statement made by David Cameron, the Prime Minister on the 25th Anniversary of Lockerbie.

The loss of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie at 7.03pm UK time on the evening of 21 December 1988 was a shocking event. A loss made more poignant still by being so close to Christmas.

Lockerbie remains one of the worst aviation disasters in history and the deadliest act of terrorism ever committed in the United Kingdom.

Though 25 years have passed, memories of the 243 passengers, 16 crew and 11 Lockerbie residents who lost their lives on that terrible night have not dimmed.

Over the last quarter of a century much attention has been focused on the perpetrators of the atrocity.

Today our thoughts turn to its victims and to those whose lives have been touched and changed by what happened at Lockerbie that night.

To families, friends, neighbours, loved ones, and all those caught up in the painful process of recovery.

Let us say to them: our admiration for you is unconditional. For the fortitude and resilience you have shown. For your determination never to give up. You have shown that terrorist acts cannot crush the human spirit. That is why terrorism will never prevail.

And even in the darkest moments of grief, it is possible to glimpse the flickering flame of hope.

The tragedy of Pan Am 103 continues to forge a strong bond between Lockerbie Academy and Syracuse University.

Syracuse lost 35 of its own on that fateful evening. Nothing can restore the promise of those young lives cut short. Yet their memory is honoured by the scholarships Syracuse awards each year to 2 Lockerbie students and 35 of its own undergraduates.

They represent a growing band of beneficiaries, each given the chance to fulfil their own youthful promise.

This is the lasting and optimistic legacy bequeathed to future generations on behalf of those who lost their lives on this day 25 years ago and who we remember here today.

David Cameron – 2013 PM Direct in Stockton

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Below is the text of the speech and Q&A by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, as part of the PM Direct tour. The event was held at Tetley, Stockton-on-Tees on 13th December 2013.

Prime Minister

Thanks very much. It’s great to be here. Now, the point of today is your questions and my answers. So, I’ll just make very brief introductory comments. The first is about the state of our economy. I know it’s been a very difficult past 3 years; we’ve had the banking crisis, we’ve had the economic recession, we’ve had a squeeze on people’s finances. It’s been a very tough time, but I really believe we’ve turned the corner and things are starting to improve. Our economy’s growing, we’ve got a million more people in work compared with 3 years ago, we’ve got more businesses starting, we’re beginning to sell again to the world. It’s still a long way to go, but we’ve got a plan; we’ve got to stick to the plan and I believe that plan will deliver.

The second thing is, I know that it has been difficult here in the North East, but, again, I think things are beginning to pick up. I see the signs, in terms of 18,000 more people in work, 12,000 more businesses operating here in the North East. But I don’t want to stand back and just hope it’s going to happen; I want government to step in and help make it happen. And today we’re announcing what’s called the City Deal for Stockton-on-Tees, which is when we get together the local councils, the Local Enterprise Partnership and the government in Whitehall, and try and work out what we can all put on the table to bring jobs and growth to this area.

So, we’re hoping to see 3,500 more jobs, we’re unlocking about £28 million of investment – particularly using the waste energy from the chemical and other industries to heat homes, factories and businesses, which could cut bills by 10% – and making sure that we use derelict land for development and we get our economy moving.

Third and final thing by way of introduction: you often get politicians – and I’m guilty of this as anyone – who talk about GDP, and facts and figures, and graphs and all the rest of it, and it is worth just remembering what this is all for – what this is all about. We want a growing economy, we want more jobs, we want more businesses, because we want people to have a sense of stability in their lives and a sense of security about their future, whether that is finding a good school place for your child, whether it’s about getting your first apprenticeship, getting your first job, getting a secure future. That is what this is all about, that’s what the economic plan is about and that’s why we’ve got to stick to it.

That was all I wanted to say. Now it’s time for your questions and my answers. Feel free to ask about anything you want.

Question

David, the competition with China’s had a huge negative impact on manufacturing over here. You’re now building closer ties with China. How do you see that benefitting manufacturing?

Prime Minister

Well, I think it can be a win-win situation. I mean, the rise of China in the world economy, I don’t think, has to be bad for us; I think it can be good for us. And the way to think about it is like this: China pretty soon is going to have a middle class of 600 million people; that is bigger than the entire European single market. Now, we are a country that produces a lot of things that those people are going to want to buy.

Now, some of those things will be manufactured goods, like Land Rover cars or Nissans made in Sunderland, or what have you. Some of those things will be television programmes, or insurance policies, or banking services. So, we should see this as a great opportunity.

Now, we’re not going to compete effectively with China if we try and out-cheap them on manufactured goods. We shouldn’t try to have some sort of way of thinking, ‘Let’s try and produce things more China.’ We need to move up the value chain and make sure we’re producing things efficiently; that we’ve got good, high-quality products, high-quality services, and that’s how we win.

My job, I see is 2 parts. One is to go to China with businesses, large and small, and help them break down the barriers to go and sell there. And I did that: I took BP, I took British Aerospace, but I also took a man I met at a North Devon show who said he wanted to sell sausages in China. And, actually, he sold 140 tons of sausages, and he was pretty chuffed about that.

But the second thing is we want fair rules about access. It’s not fair if the Chinese can come and invest and sell here, but we don’t have proper access to their markets. So, one of the things particularly I was looking at was protection of intellectual property. There’s a lot of ripping off of formats and ripping off of products in China, and we need to make sure there are fair rules. So, that’s my job: to get us in there, to make sure the rules are fair. But I think we can benefit by having an open market.

And, funnily enough, Tetley is not a bad place to say this. You know, the fact that, actually, it’s now an Indian company, Tata, that has bought Tetley and is putting in the investment – is that a bad thing for our country? I would say it’s a good thing. We want to go out there into the world and say, ‘We’re an open economy; we welcome investment.’ And the more investment that comes, the more jobs there will be.

And I think when these rising economies look round the world, I want them to look at Britain and think, ‘Yes, this is an open economy I can invest in. I can create wealth and jobs there.’ And, I think, that will put us at an advantage to other European countries.

Question

When do you think the North, and the North East in particular, will lose the tag, ‘It’s grim up North’?

Prime Minister

Well, look, if you look at the last (inaudible) this is a very techy answer – but, actually, in the last year the North East has grown ahead of the national average. So, I don’t think this label is really fair. I think the truth of the matter is, there are parts of the North East, North West, that are doing well, and there are parts that aren’t doing as well and we need to help them.

But I think the idea of a straight North-South divide, I think, is outdated and I want to make it more outdated. And that’s why I support things like the high speed railway line, I support electrification of more railways, I support more road schemes that are going to connect our country.

But, I think, the stereotype, I think, is a bit out-of-date already, but I’d like to consign it completely to the dustbin of history through all these infrastructure changes that we’re making. But, sometimes in politics stereotypes and images live on for a long time, and real change has to take place for a very long time before people give up on them.

Question

What are you currently doing to stop the influx of non-skilled workers from the EU, and are planning to do or not claiming benefits?

Prime Minister

Right. An influx of non-skilled workers from the EU – I know this is a major cause of concern. And, look, we belong to the European Union where there are rules about saying that if you apply for a job in another country, you can go and take that job in another country. And that enables British people to go and work in Germany, or Spain, or elsewhere, and it enables European nationals to come and work here.

But, I think there are 2 things we’ve absolutely got to get right. One is, when a new country joins the European Union, they should not have automatic access to our market. When Poland and the other Eastern European countries joined in 2004 they were given instant access to British jobs, even though Poland and those countries were much poorer than us. As a result, the numbers that came were far bigger than what anyone expected – 1.5 million people came. It was one of the biggest movements in population that we’ve seen in the last decades.

That is why when my government came in we said we’d have the maximum amount of time before the Romanians and Bulgarians, who have joined the European Union, can come. That’s why there’s been a 7 year transition period.

And even with that happening I’m still not satisfied, so we’ve made absolutely sure that it’s not possible for people to come here simply to claim benefits. If you’re coming to claim benefits, you shouldn’t – that shouldn’t be allowed. And, also, if you fall out of work, you shouldn’t be able to go on claiming benefits – you should be asked to return to your country.

So, we’re putting in place very tough measures and controls. But, I think, for the future we will need to go further as other countries join the European Union. And as I’ve been arguing, we should be opening up – as other countries join the European Union, we should be insisting on longer transition periods, perhaps even saying until you’ve reached a proper share of the average European Union GDP, you can’t have freedom of movement.

The reason for that is, if you look at migration between, say, Britain and Germany, or France and Germany – 2 countries of pretty even GDP, even economic size – the movements are pretty much balanced. It’s only when you’ve got a real imbalance – a very poor country and a much wealthier country – that you get these vast movements.

So, I’m not satisfied with the way it’s working at the moment. We’ve put in the toughest controls that we can, we won’t let it happen again by having even tougher controls in the future, and, I think, there’s more we can do to stop benefit tourism.

Question

You said it shouldn’t be allowed. Should it not be “won’t” be allowed?

Prime Minister

It won’t be allowed – no, it won’t be allowed to happen in the future. Any future country joining the European Union – while I’m Prime Minister, I will insist on much tougher transitional controls; longer controls, and, as I’ve said, perhaps even saying until your economy – until your wealth is similar to our wealth, you can’t have unrestricted movement. I think that’s very important.

One last thing: I think we need to do more to make sure that there aren’t unscrupulous employers paying below the minimum wage. I think the minimum wage does help to help people in our country, and I think we need to make sure some people aren’t – aren’t cheating, as it were, and paid below the minimum wage. And also, we don’t want to have this thing where you’ve got some employment agencies are simply targeting workers from European countries like Romania and Bulgaria. That shouldn’t be allowed, because – and won’t be allowed, because you should have employment agencies that are willing to take people from everywhere, including the UK.

It’s a whole series of steps we’re taking, but I recognise that in future we’re going to need to do more.

Question

I’d just like to ask, in view of your statement when you came to power, that due to the austerity measures you introduced that we were all in this together. How does that work now with the proposed 11% pay rise for MPs?

Prime Minister

Very good point. Well, I don’t think an 11% pay rise for MPs is acceptable, and I said that in the House of Commons on Wednesday. What happens here is that under the last government I think they quite rightly decided MPs should not vote on their own pay. The idea of MPs voting on their own pay is wrong. We are legislators, we are law-makers, but we shouldn’t be able to deal with our own affairs.

So, we gave that job – about pay and expenses and everything else – to an independent organisation. They’ve been looking at the issue of MPs pay. They’ve come up – to be fair with them, they’ve come up with a package that they say doesn’t cost the taxpayer any more money, because MPs have to put more into their pensions, there’s been some cuts in our expenses, and they’re saying because of that there should be this pay rise. But what I said on Wednesday is it’s just unacceptable, when you’re asking public sector workers to continue a pay restraint, to have this vast increase in one year. So they’ve got to go away and think again, and if they don’t go away and think again, as I said, nothing is ruled out.

As for, ‘All in it together,’ I would argue yes, we’ve had to make tough decisions, difficult decisions, but I think we have made them in a fair way. For instance, we said while we’re going to make spending reductions we’re not going to cut the NHS, and we haven’t cut the NHS; we’ve protected the NHS. While we’ve had to make difficult decisions on welfare – things like capping the welfare that a family can receive – we’ve protected the pension. So pensioners are better off under this government by the tune of about £15 a week. So I think we have been true to being fair, while making difficult decisions. But, as you say, MPs can’t be exempt from those difficult decisions. Neither should ministers.

One of the first things I did as Prime Minister is I cut ministers’ pay by 5% – cut it and froze it for the whole of the parliament. Because I think it’s very important, if you’re the Prime Minister, making difficult, long-term decisions about public spending, you can’t exempt your own government.

Question

Could I just ask about your recent decision to increase the pension age to 68? Would it not be fairer and better for the country to get younger people in and older people out? Young blood, as it were?

Prime Minister

Well I think it’s a good question. It is a tough question this, but I approach it in 2 ways. One is, look we are living longer as a country, and that’s a good thing. And so what we’re saying is instead of arbitrarily fixing the date at which you retire, we’re saying that the assumption should be that you spend a third of your adult life in retirement. So as we live longer, as life expectancy increases, we should expect the date at which you retire to increase. And so that’s why people are able now to see the likely date when it goes from 66 to 67, 67 to 68, and so on. And I think that’s a fair approach.

But the second thing I’d say is I don’t think it’s the right way to look at this, just to assume there’s a fixed number of jobs in the economy and we have to divide them up between young people and older people. That I think, is what lies behind your question, that somehow, if you had people retiring earlier we’d get more young people into the workforce.

What we’ve got to do is bake a bigger cake; we’ve got to make the economy bigger. We’ve got to create more jobs. And I think when you look at economies that have tried to make more jobs by restricting hours of work or retiring early it hasn’t worked. You know, that’s what the French have been up to in some degree, and some other countries, and actually they’ve got higher rates of unemployment than we have, they’ve got fewer people in the labour force, you make your economy less competitive.

So, I think retirement is fair if you go with age, life expectancy, and then what we need to do, is help young people into the workforce, actually, sometimes, by making it cheaper and easier to employ them. So, one of the things the Chancellor did in his budget was say that if you employ someone between the age of 18 and 21 you don’t pay any national insurance contributions for that person.

I think we do need to give young people a leg up into the workforce, but we should do it on the basis of making a bigger economy, making more jobs, rather than just carving them up between young and old.

The other point on pensions is if we want to go on paying proper good pensions, which we should, I think it’s right to raise the retirement age rather than saying, ‘Okay, we’re going to have more elderly people, so we have to spread the money more thinly. So I think it’s fairer – I’d rather have a better pension system that we can pay for, with people retiring a little bit later, taking into account the life expectancy changes.

Question

I have 2 part-time jobs, and I work 35 hours. Another person who has a full-time job – 35 hours – they pay 17% tax, where I have to pay 37%. How is that fair?

Prime Minister

Well that doesn’t sound particularly fair, and I’d have to look at your individual circumstances. Obviously, on the income tax you amalgamate the income from the two jobs. What we’re saying is that the first £10,000 that you earn you don’t pay any income tax on at all, and that’s going to come in from April of next year. So, that should benefit you whether you’re working, you know, 40 hours at one place, or 40 hours at two different places.

I suspect where you’re paying extra tax is probably on the national insurance, and I’d have to look at the specific details, but actually, if you have 2 jobs then you can get some national insurance rebated in terms of what you pay. But I’d have to maybe get someone to have a look at your case and see if I can help.

Question

I just want to dwell on the retirement thing. Could it not depend on what type of job you do, as in physical…?

Prime Minister

Well, that’s a good question. In some of the public services, like police and fire and military, there are different rules. I think it’s quite difficult in the rest of the economy to have differential retirement ages for different jobs. And, as I say, I think the overwhelming thing here is we’ve got to deal with the simple fact, which is we are living longer; life expectancy is going up. And so it seems to me fair to say, let’s work on the basis that up to a third of your adult life should be spent in retirement. And if we think that’s a fair basis, then as people live longer you raise the retirement age.

And that has the spin off benefit, as I’ve said, as if you do that then we’ll be able to go on funding properly funded pensions, including this new single tier pension, which will be over £140 a week, which will be coming in as we amalgamate some of the old, rather complex rules that were in place.

So I think that is the right approach. I don’t think it’s possible to totally distinguish between different jobs in the private sector.

Question

I ride a pushbike to work; is there any chance of you having a word with your councillors about getting more cycle tracks?

Prime Minister

Well, some of them are here. Actually, we’ve got some councillors here. But I think this is important. And I think there is a sense, sometimes, that the cycling money goes into the big cities and there’s not enough done, particularly on some of the A and B roads, where it can be quite frightening on a cycle, when the lorry comes past. So, I think we made available some government money under the cycling strategy, and we need the councils to have a look and see what they can do.

Question

Can I just ask the Prime Minister what his views are on the role of the media in politics? The media [inaudible] important political decisions and events are portrayed in such a way depending on which newspaper you read, where it’s almost misleading. Do you ever sit at home and watch the television or read the newspapers and think to yourself, ‘That’s not actually what I said.’

Prime Minister

Politicians will always complain about the media and it’s a bit like farmers complaining about the weather. You know, our job is to make decisions and then to get out and defend and explain those decisions and try and take people with us. So we need the media to help us do that and inevitably, quite rightly, they are also critical and questioning. And I think that’s fair enough. They’re called the fourth estate and there’s a reason for that, they have a role in the democracy to challenge, to probe and to openly disagree with the government a lot of the time.

I think sometimes the politicians and the media need to be a bit more understanding. We need to understand when they make mistakes they’ve got to produce a paper every day, of course they’re going to get some things wrong. They need to understand that, you know, we get asked about every single question under the sun and sometimes we might misspeak or go a little further than perhaps we should.

We should be really proud of the fact that we have a vigorous debate in this country. I on behalf of Britain travel the world and go to all sorts of different places. And we should be really proud of the fact that we’ve got a lively democracy where we have a real go at our leaders and our politicians in parliament, in the press. It’s a good thing. So we shouldn’t be too frustrated about that.

I think in the end the British public is interested in British politics. Not in the day-to-day of it, but they want to know, you know, are you making the right decisions have you got my back, are you trying to sort out things to help me.

And when the British public make decisions at election time, they tend to make pretty sensible decisions because they’re asking the question, ‘Which way is the country going, is that going to work for me and my family, are we making the right choices?’ And there’s going to be a lot of noise between now and the next election, but I’m pretty confident when it comes down to it, you know, if we do a good job they’ll keep us in, and if we do a bad job they’ll kick us out. And that’s democracy, that’s what you’ve – you know, we should celebrate that.

Question

What do you say about the people who say that the last election was decided on the television programmes between yourself and Clegg and Brown?

Prime Minister

I don’t think they were. I mean, I think the TV debates were a very interesting development in British politics and I think a good development because people could have a look at us very directly. But I think when you look at what happened, there was a lot of noise created by the TV debates.

I think they helped people get engaged, but I don’t think they necessarily changed the result.

And obviously as a politician you want to try and get your message across and explain what you’re trying to do. The more ways you can do that the better, because, you know, someone once said democracy is government by explanation. You know, governments have got to try and explain: why are we making cuts to public services? Well, we have to because of the deficit and the danger that our economy would fall over if we didn’t. Why are we asking people to retire later? Well because we’re living longer and we want to pay good pensions.

You know, we’ve got a duty to explain, and so we need to use the media, including tweeting and blogging and everything else because otherwise we’ll get left behind.

Question

What can you do about the European Court of Human Rights and its effect on our justice system?

Prime Minister

I think it’s gone too far. You’ve got the European Union which has got the European Court of Justice, but we’ve also got the Council of Europe, which is much wider than the European Union. And it has the European Convention on Human Rights – perfectly reasonable document actually drafted by the British after the war – trying to encourage European countries to sign up to the basic tenets of human rights.

But the problem is, instead of just examining this basic charter and using it for big important decisions, the European Court of Human Rights has got involved in all sorts of things that should be left to nation states.The most recent example, which has been completely infuriating, is telling Britain that prisoners should get the vote. Now, I don’t know about you, my view is very clear: if parliament decides that prisoners shouldn’t get the vote then they damn well shouldn’t get the vote. If you commit a crime and you go to prison, as far as I’m concerned you leave your voting rights at the door.

Now I don’t think anyone’s at liberty to disagree with that statement, but I happen to think that’s a pretty straightforward statement that in no way infringes human rights; it’s a national decision taken in our parliament. And yet this court has taken issues like that and decided to have a go at nation states.

Question

Do you actually consider that student loans are an appropriate mechanism for funding higher education considering the default rate that’s currently being experienced?

Prime Minister

Right, are student loans the right way of funding higher education given the default rate at the moment? I think they are the right method, and I’ll tell you why. If we start with the big picture. Right, we’ve been talking about how we compete with China and all the rest of it. One of the ways we’re going to compete is by having really good universities, well stocked libraries, well stocked laboratories and the rest of it. Now that costs money, and we need to have that.

We’ve got great universities in this country and we need to go on having great universities. And in the end there’s only 2 places you can get the money from. You can either get it from taxpayers, some of whom have not been to university and are working hard and paying their taxes, or you can get it from students and say that students should contribute to the cost to their own education.

Now, I think it’s right to ask students; one because that means we can go on expanding university education rather than having it constrained under taxpayers’ money. But secondly, we’re not asking all students to pay; we’re actually only asking students that go on and get a good job. You don’t start paying anything back on your loan under our new rules until you’re earning £21,000.

So, I think this is fair. And now we’ve been in for 3 years, and this system’s been in for a couple of years, you can see the number of people applying to go to university is going up and the number of people applying from less privileged backgrounds – from deprived backgrounds is also going up.

And the Chancellor announced in his Autumn Statement that we’re now going to uncap the numbers of people who want to go to university; we’re not going to restrict people. And I think that’s very good for our country. If we think of the future, we want to have those high-skilled, high-trained jobs, and that means more people who want to go to university being able to.

Now, of course we should look at people who default on their loans, but if you’re not paying anything back till you’re earning £21,000 I think that’s quite a fair system, and I think it’s one we should get behind.

Question

I’ve been here 5 years and I’m on the pension committee. And you said that the government are trying to get people more engaged with pensions through auto-enrollment and things like that. What concerns me though is at the end of the day, when you’ve got that pot of money it’s the regulation around finding annuity and the way people get value for money out of those annuities. And that’s concerning me.

Prime Minister

I think that’s a very good point. I think first of all auto-enrollment is a good thing. I think when we had the system where people to opt into a pension system, so many people didn’t because they just weren’t thinking about the future and weren’t thinking about future security. And having a system where you have to opt out rather than opt in I think is going to mean many more people are saving for their old age, many more people will have not just the basic state pension but also a company pension as well. And I think that’s a very good thing.

Then with annuities, obviously it is difficult right now because interest rates are so low that it’s tough to get good value when you purchase an annuity. Now, we’ve got a problem here because we need low interest rates right now. They’re set by the Bank of England, not by me, but we need them to help get the economy moving, to help get the housing market moving. But it does impact older people.

So, I think what that points towards is, first of all, its right to protect the basic state pension and to see that increase every year. It’s right to protect those pensioner benefits, which I said I would at the election; you know, the bus pass, the free TV licence, the winter fuel payments – I said they were safe and we’ve protected them. I think it’s right to do those things. But we’ve also got to look at how we can help people who’ve worked hard all their lives, who’ve saved and are trying to use some income from that saving and they’re not getting very much income from it because interest rates are so low.

So, it’s very much on my radar. I do understand the problem. Obviously lifting the amount of money you can earn before you pay tax, that’s helping some people. But I think you make a very good point.

Can I thank you all very much again for coming. Can I thank you for the questions. I think we had a good range of questions and I’ve really enjoyed it.

David Cameron – 2013 Speech on Dementia

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Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, to the G8 Dementia Summit on 11th December 2013.

I’m delighted to welcome you all to the first-ever G8 Dementia Summit.

Today is about 3 things: realism, determination, and hope.

Realism – because no-one here is in any doubt about the scale of the dementia crisis.

A new case every 4 seconds; a global cost of $600 billion dollars a year.

And this is to say nothing of the human cost.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re in London or Los Angeles, in rural India or urban Japan – this disease steals lives; it wrecks families; it breaks hearts and that is why all of us here are so utterly determined to beat it.

Determination to work together

We meet with determination too.

In generations past, the world came together to take on the great killers.

We stood against malaria, cancer, HIV and AIDS and we are just as resolute today.

I want December 11 2013 to go down as the day that the global fight-back began.

Not just on finding a cure for dementia but preventing it, delaying it, and critically – helping those who live with dementia to live well, and live with dignity.

We’ve got some really ambitious objectives for today – to increase funding, to share data – but frankly we have got to be ambitious if we want to beat this.

We’ve got to turn that determination into something real.

Hope for the future

And we meet here with hope.

The debate on dementia can get pretty defeatist.

Of course – the challenge is huge.

And yes – we’re a long way from a cure.

But there is hope.

I see it in the extraordinary work of UK life sciences companies, like Ixico, Cambridge Cognition, Psychology Online and Proteome Sciences, working with others to develop new tests for Alzheimer’s Disease.

I see hope in the US setting new standards for clinical collaboration in Japan – breaking new ground in molecular imaging.

And I see hope in this room – some of the most respected scientists, thinkers and politicians from around the world, coming together to beat this.

We meet in the country where Watson and Crick unraveled DNA… where genetic fingerprinting, the MRI scan and the beta blocker were invented.

We meet with the conviction that human ingenuity can overcome the most daunting of challenges.

We meet with the determination that we will take the fight to dementia – and help improve or save millions of lives.

Life sciences

And in that fight, I want the UK – and UK life sciences – to play a leading role.

We’ve got great strengths – 4 of the world’s top 10 universities, fantastic companies and a National Health Service like no other.

2 years ago we set out a life sciences strategy to capitalise on all this.

We’ve been getting more NHS patients into early stage trials, protecting the science budget and making it much more attractive to invest in research and development (R&D).

We are throwing everything we have at making the UK the place to invest and locate and work in life sciences.

And I can tell you today, this strategy is reaping serious rewards.

In the past 2 years we’ve had £1.8 billion of investment into this country announced.

And I am thrilled to announce 3 further pieces of good news.

The first is that the Medical Research Council will be spending £150 million more on clinical infrastructure for dementia and genomics – that is in addition to our G8 commitments.

The second piece of good news: the Belgian biopharmaceutical company UCB have saved £3 million thanks to our new R&D tax credit and they have decided to reinvest that saving back into their centre in Slough.

The third and final piece of good news: GlaxoSmithKline will be investing a further £200 million in UK life sciences that is on top of the £500 million they invested last year – another huge boost to British innovation.

All this is a resounding endorsement of UK life sciences and it’s a vital part of our long-term plan to re balance the British economy to create more decent, skilled jobs for our people.

We want life sciences to be the jewel in the crown of that economy – and we’re on our way.

But my big message to you here is that what’s good news for the UK economy is also great news in the fight against dementia.

So much of what we’re doing here in the UK in life science is increasingly important to dementia research.

Huge cohort studies. Mass patient participation. Personalised medicine.

Take just one initiative – Bio Bank.

More than half a million people have volunteered to take part in this providing blood samples, getting their vital signs checked, so we can see how diseases like dementia get signalled.

The plan is to use Bio Bank to take brain scans of up to 100,000 people – allowing us to see the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s and other diseases.

That is the kind of ambition we’re seeing here in the UK ambition that should give hope to people right around the world.

So we meet with realism about what we face but with the determination to fight this and the real hope that one day that fight will be won.

I just want to end by thanking everyone here for the vital work you do and for joining us in London today.

David Cameron – 2013 Statement 50th Anniversary of Death of JFK

davidcameron

Below is the text of the statement made by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK. The statement was made on 21st November 2013.

Fifty years ago John F Kennedy lost his life – and the world lost an inspiration. Wherever you go in the world today, the three letters – JFK – are instantly recognisable. They summon up the very best of politics: energy, optimism, hope – the belief that a nation united can achieve almost anything.

It was these ideals which came to define the Kennedy Presidency. He demanded that his country rise to the challenges of its time – and the people responded in kind. Although, his Presidency was tragically cut short, its legacy was felt long after. Civil rights, a man on the moon: both achieved after his death – but only possible because of the leadership shown during his life.

Tomorrow will be a day to remember with gratitude what President Kennedy’s life still teaches us – and our thoughts are with the American people.

David Cameron – 2013 Statement on the CHOGM in Sri Lanka

davidcameron

Below is the text of the statement made by David Cameron in the House of Commons on 18th November 2013.

With permission Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on the disaster in the Philippines and the Commonwealth Meeting in Sri Lanka.

Ten days ago a category 5 super typhoon brought massive destruction across the Philippines, where the city of Tacloban was devastated by a tidal wave almost 2.5 metres high.

The scale of what happened is still becoming clear – with many of the country’s 7,000 islands not yet reached or assessed.

But already we know that more than 12 million people have been affected, with over 4,400 dead and more than 1,500 missing – including a number of Britons.

This disaster follows other deadly storms there and an earthquake that killed 200 people in Bohol last month.

I am sure the thoughts of the whole House will be with all those affected, their friends and families.

Mr Speaker, Britain has been at the forefront of the international relief effort.

The British public have once again shown incredible generosity and compassion donating £35 million so far.

And the Government has contributed more than £50 million to the humanitarian response.

In the last week HMS Daring and her on-board helicopter, an RAF C17 and 8 different relief flights have brought essential supplies from the UK and helped get aid to those who need it most.

An RAF C130 will arrive tomorrow and HMS Illustrious will also be there by the end of this week, equipped with 7 helicopters, water desalination and command and control capabilities.

Beyond the immediate task of life-saving aid, the people of the Philippines will face a long task of rebuilding – and reducing their vulnerability to these kinds of events.

Britain will continue to support them every step of the way.

Commonwealth meeting

Let me turn to the Commonwealth – and then to the issues in Sri Lanka itself.

The Commonwealth is a unique organisation representing 53 countries, a third of the world’s population and a fifth of the global economy,

It is united by history, by relationships and by the values of the new Commonwealth Charter which we agreed 2 years ago in Perth.

Britain is a leading member.

Her Majesty The Queen is the Head of the Commonwealth and His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales did our country proud acting on her behalf and attending last week.

As with all the international organisations to which we belong, the Commonwealth allows us to champion the values and economic growth that are so vital to our national interest.

At this Summit we reached important conclusions on poverty, human rights and trade.

On poverty, this was the last Commonwealth meeting before the Millennium Development Goals expire.

We wanted our Commonwealth partners to unite behind the ambitious programme set by the UN High Level Panel which I co chaired with the Presidents of Indonesia and Liberia.

For the first time this programme prioritises not just aid, but the vital place of anti-corruption efforts, open institutions, access to justice, the rule of law and good governance in tackling poverty.

On human rights, the Commonwealth reiterated its support for the core values set out in the Commonwealth Charter.

Commonwealth leaders condemned in the strongest terms the use of sexual violence in conflict – an issue championed globally by my Rt Hon Friend the Foreign Secretary.

We also called for an end to early and forced marriage – and for greater freedom of religion and belief.

We committed to taking urgent and decisive action against the illegal wildlife trade ahead of the conference in London next year.

And Britain successfully resisted an attempt to usher Zimbabwe back into the Commonwealth, without first addressing the deep concerns that remain about human rights and political freedoms.

The Foreign Secretary and I also used the meeting to build the case for more open trade and for developing our economic links with the fastest growing parts of the world.

The Commonwealth backed a deal at next month’s World Trade Organisation meeting in Bali that could cut bureaucracy at borders and generate $100 billion for the global economy.

I continued to bang the drum for British trade and investment.

I went to New Delhi and Calcutta in India before heading to Sri Lanka, the third time I have visited India as Prime Minister.

And I went from the Summit to Abu Dhabi and Dubai where Airbus agreed new orders from Emirates and Etihad airlines that will add £5.4 billion to the British economy.

These orders will sustain and secure 6,500 British jobs, including at the plants in North Wales and Bristol and open up new opportunities for the Rolls Royce factory in Derby.

Sri Lanka

Mr Speaker, the last Government agreed in late 2009 to hold the 2013 Commonwealth Meeting in Sri Lanka.

That was not my decision.

But I was determined that I would use the presence of the Commonwealth and my own visit to shine a global spotlight on the situation there and that is exactly what I did.

I became the first foreign leader to visit the north since independence in 1948 and by taking the media with me, gave the local population the chance to be heard by an international audience.

I met the new provincial Chief Minister from the Tamil National Alliance, who was elected in a vote that only happened because of the spotlight of the Commonwealth Meeting.

I took our journalists to meet the incredibly brave Tamil journalists at the Uthayan newspaper in Jaffna – many of whom have seen their colleagues killed, and themselves been beaten and intimidated.

I met and heard from displaced people desperately wanting to return to their homes and their livelihoods.

And as part of our support for reconciliation efforts across the country, I announced an additional £2.1 million to support demining work in parts of the north – including the locations of some of the most chilling scenes from Channel 4’s No Fire Zone documentary.

When I met with President Rajapaksa, I pressed for credible, transparent and independent investigations into alleged war crimes.

And I made clear to him that if these investigations are not begun properly by March, then I will use our position on the UN Human Rights Council, to work with the UN Human Rights Commissioner and call for an international inquiry.

Mr Speaker, no one wants to return to the days of the Tamil Tigers and the disgusting and brutal things that they did.

And we should show proper respect for the fact that Sri Lanka suffered almost 3 decades of bloody conflict and that recovery and reconciliation take time.

But I made clear to President Rajapaksa, that he now has a real opportunity, through magnanimity and reform, to build a successful, inclusive and prosperous future for his country, working in partnership with the newly elected Chief Minister of the Northern Province.

I very much hope that he seizes it.

Sri Lanka has suffered an appalling civil war, and then of course suffered again from the 2004 tsunami.

But it is an extraordinary and beautiful country with enormous potential.

Achieving that potential is all about reconciliation. It’s about bringing justice and closure and healing to this country, which now has the chance, if it takes it, of a much brighter future.

That will only happen by dealing with these issues and not ignoring them.

Mr Speaker, I had a choice at this Summit.

To stay away and allow President Rajapaksa to set the agenda he wanted or to go and shape the agenda by advancing our interests with our Commonwealth partners and shining a spotlight on the international concerns about Sri Lanka.

I chose to go and stand up for our values and to do all I could to advance them.

That was the right decision for Sri Lanka, for the Commonwealth and for Britain.

And I commend this statement to the House.

David Cameron – 2013 Speech in Kolkata

davidcameron

Below is the text of the speech made by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, in Kolkata on 14th November 2013.

Thank you very much. Thank you for the warm welcome. I want to use the maximum amount of time today for your questions and my answers, but can I just first of all say how pleased I am to be here in Kolkata. It’s a real privilege for me to come.

The reason I’m here is I’m passionate about the relationship between Britain and India. I’ve been Prime Minister for three and a half years and I’ve visited India now three times. I’ve visited India more times than any other country apart from Belgium, where, of course, I have to go for the European Union meetings. But my passion is about this relationship.

Why? Well I think we have a lot in common. Obviously in Kolkata we think about some of the ties of the past, and the ties of language, and the ties of culture. But I think mostly of the future. We’re two democracies. You are the largest in the world; we’re one of the oldest in the world. And we’re both proud of our democracy. We both face huge challenges from terrorism and from extremism, and we must meet those challenges by working together. We’re both countries that want to find our way successfully in this modern, globalised economy. Obviously, our economies are at different stages of development, but we have some things in common. Neither of our countries has masses of natural resources. We have to make the best of what we can because of our brains, our talent and our people. So I hope we can work together and be partners of choice.

And I see that when I look at the British-India relationship. British business investing massively in India, and Indian business investing hugely in Britain. You now invest more in Britain than in all of the other European Union countries put together. One of Britain’s greatest economic success stories right now is Jaguar Land Rover, based on some great British design and manufacturing, but Indian capital, and some brilliant Indian strategic thinking and management. So I’m passionate about this relationship and passionate about what it holds for the future.

And I’m particularly pleased about being here in Kolkata. It seems to me I’m in the right place, at the right time and with the right people. The right place because this institute is one of the best in the world. It’s going to be training some of the great minds of the future, and it’s great to have that opportunity. This is a good time not only because the Little Master (Sachin Tendulkar) is about to go into bat for his final test and it’s good to celebrate that. Of course, as a supporter of the English team I’ll be quite relieved when he’s not playing any more. But it’s also the right time: there are some important anniversaries. And, of course, one of the anniversaries today is it’s 100 years to the day that the famous poet Tagore got notification of his Nobel prize, 100 years ago today.

And I’m with the right people because you represent so much of what India needs for her future in terms of the talent, the brains and the brilliance that is going to build this country for the future. And Kolkata has produced some great and brilliant brains in the past. We talk now of the Higgs Boson particle: that is because of the physics of Bose. I’m sure we’re going to talk in a minute about the importance of how politics and economics need to go together – something that Amartya Sen taught us, perhaps more than anybody else.

So you have the physics, you have the poetry, you have a huge amount of talent nascent in this great city. So with that, thank you for the warm welcome. Let’s go straight to the questions and hopefully some short and punchy answers as well. There’ll be a roving microphone. And ask any question you like. Who wants to go first?

 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Question

Hello. Good evening Mr Prime Minister. As we all know, Kolkata had been a major hub for British trade in the past, and after a long time we see the British Prime Minister visit this city. How do you think Kolkata can play a significant role in improving Indo-UK trade relations?

Prime Minister

Thank you. Well I’m very glad to have been the third – I think John Major, who was a Conservative Prime Minister – he came to Kolkata. There’s so much opportunity in India and politicians often visit Mumbai and Delhi and then go home. And I think it’s important to recognise how many opportunities there are.

I’m about to go and meet your Chief Minister. I’m very interested by my first meeting with her. I think there are big opportunities. Your city is expanding and there’s a huge need for infrastructure and for city and town planning, something that Britain has some expertise in. Clearly there’s an enormous amount of work going on thinking about how to clean up rivers and waterways. That’s something we had to do in the UK with the Thames and others. I think there are links between our universities. You have a great tradition of university education and institutes like this. We’re very proud, not just of our Oxford and our Cambridges, but also our other universities, many of whom are looking to start up and partner with Indian universities.

And one of my pleas today is this: that I think we benefit from openness. It’s always difficult for governments to get rid of protectionist barriers, to open up economies, to scrap tariffs, because it presents political challenges at home. But it’s in our interests to do that. I gave you the examples of where we’ve opened up to Indian capital and we’re benefiting. I hope India will continue to open up so that it will be easier to invest in universities, in infrastructure, in insurance and all those sorts of areas, many of which are championed here in Kolkata. So we need that steady opening up in order to continue the work.

But the commitment is definitely there. The British are very enthusiastic about this. Next question. Gentleman at the back.

Question

Starting from the Depression there was a shift towards Keynesian economics. Then Mrs Thatcher and Ronald Reagan put it towards – more towards a free market economy. Now, at this juncture, where 2008 crash has happened, and loss of regulation has been blamed partially for that, and on the other side the sovereign debt crisis happened as well in Europe. So which way should the economy go?

Prime Minister

Very good. Which way should we go? I’m very clear. I believe in open markets, in enterprise and a free enterprise system. I think that is the best way to create wealth, and then you have the ability to fund public services, to tackle problems like poverty and inequality. But you need a free enterprise open market economy. And I think that argument is never fully won: you have to fight for it again and again in each generation. I think Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan did a huge amount to push that argument and it became more adopted. But the argument’s never fully won and you have to keep making it.

I think what the global problems of 2008 to 2010 taught us two important lessons. One was about the regulation of financial services. That in a market economy, you do need proper regulation of financial services. Banks are such important organisations that you can’t allow them to go bust, because if they go bust they take some of the economy down with them. So therefore they need to be properly regulated. And you need to have a responsible organisation in your country that has a clear line of responsibility for bank regulation. And in our case it is now the Bank of England. It is this government that has absolutely made that clear.

I think the second lesson it’s taught is this: that from time to time there are problems and difficulties in economies. They’re not always under your control. Any politician who tells you they’ve abolished the trade cycle – that there’s no more boom and bust – that politician is talking nonsense. There are events and difficulties that happen to economies and you have to recognise that. So the second lesson is a very simple one which we all recognise in our daily lives, which is, you should fix the roof when the sun is shining. When times are good, you should aim for a surplus, you should aim to put aside money, you should aim to reduce your debt levels, so that when difficult times do hit, you have the capacity to help people and to help your economy. And I think that’s been a real lesson that we’ve had to learn between 2008 and 2010, and that’s why my government in the United Kingdom is still having to wrestle with this big deficit. We’ve got it down by a third, but we need to get it down altogether. And then in the good years, as the economy keeps growing, we should be targeting a surplus.

So, I think the argument for market economics is right. I think we need to go on fighting it, and I think we then need to recognise it needs to be accompanied by proper and sensible regulation of financial services. That would be my answer to that question. But I’m sure your economics professors will have lots of other ideas and proposals as well.

Question

So, good evening Mr Prime Minister. My question is: considering the fact that you are ruling over the first hung parliament in British history since the Second World War, has that impeded your policy making? And how has the experience been of a coalition government in reference to the referendum on EU membership and military action against Syria? And also, do you feel this will be a sustained trend in British politics from now on?

Prime Minister

Right, very good question. I gather you have some experience of coalition governments in India as well. The last coalition in Britain was Winston Churchill in the Second World War who had a coalition government throughout the war. That it was concluded Conservative and Labour. So we’ve had very little experience of coalition.

We have an electoral system that tends to deliver quite decisive results. But I was faced in 2010 with a hung parliament, and I thought the right thing to do was have a coalition rather than a minority government. Partly because of the crisis. We were having to take radical steps to get public spending down, get the deficit down, take long-term decisions, and a coalition government gave me a majority and the ability to do that.

So, we’ve made coalition government work. It’s been quite a radical government: we’ve reformed welfare; we’ve reformed education; we’ve reformed the funding of higher education, for instance. We’ve taken some big long-term steps. But it is sometimes frustrating. There are areas where I’d like to go further and faster, where I think I could turn things round more quickly for the British economy. But in politics the first duty of the politician is to serve the nation. And if you’re serving the nation when you have a hung parliament, the best thing to do, if you’ve got real crisis in your country, is to think how do we get together and make the right and long-term decisions.

More questions. Gentleman here.

Question

Thank you. How do you realistically assess the chances to get back competencies from the European level to the British level before the referendum?

Prime Minister

Okay. Just to give the background: Britain is a member of the European Union, which is the club of countries now stretching right across Europe, as far east as Lithuania and Poland. A club of 28 countries. And there’s a big debate going on in Britain at the moment about is membership in our interests and how should we change this organisation? And my contention, which you refer to, is that we should try to bring some powers back from Brussels to Britain.

One of the reasons I say this is that the European Union now includes two lots of countries, and this will be very interesting to the economists amongst you. One lot of countries has a single currency – they have the Euro as their currency. And if you have a single currency it drives you towards further integration. You have to look at standing behind each other’s debts, making sure you regulate your banks in the same way, having more fiscal transfers between countries that are doing well and countries that are doing badly. A single currency drives integration.

Britain is not in the single currency, we’re not going to join the single currency. We have our own currency: the pound. As one of the top ten economies in the world we can sustain having our own currency. So, in my view what we should be trying to do is make sure that Europe can include both countries like us, which would like a lighter touch system, less regulation, greater flexibility, but at the same time accommodate these eurozone countries who clearly need tighter collaboration.

That’s the political challenge. My view is we can reform Europe in that way. I’m confident we’ll get a good outcome. And then I will hold a referendum, if I’m Prime Minister before the end of 2017 to say to the British people, ‘Right, we’ve made some changes, we’ve got some powers back. The thing is more flexible. It works better. Do you want to stay in it, or do you want to leave it?’ Because in the end you can’t hold countries in organisations against their political will. You need to operate on the basis of consent. And I want to get consent for a new sort of Europe, which I think it would be in Britain’s interest to remain a member of.

But I am confident that we will because of the logic of the single currency means those countries need to take these steps. I’m confident that I’ll be able to get a good deal for Britain.

Next question. Gentleman here.

Question

Good evening, Mr Prime Minister. My question sir, is what are your views on the revelations made by Edward Snowden?

Prime Minister

Right, okay. Well, we have a rule in British politics that we don’t comment on intelligence and security issues, but I think that would be rather a boring answer to your question. So let me say say a little bit about it.

First of all, it’s perfectly legitimate for countries to have and maintain intelligence and security organisations. Our job as governments, our first responsibility is public safety, is national defence and keeping our country safe. And I think it’s perfectly legitimate to have intelligence and security agencies that do just that.

And when you think of the horrendous attacks like you experienced in Mumbai, or we have experienced in London and other parts of the United Kingdom, like Manchester. If we can take steps to prevent these attacks happening, if we can take steps to arrest the people who are responsible then – then we should take those steps. So I’m absolutely clear it’s good to have properly funded, properly organised intelligence and security services.

In Britain, we do have a very good way of making sure they’re governed properly. They are accountable to a committee of Parliament, called the Intelligence and Security Committee, that can look over their work. They operate under the law that we have passed in the United Kingdom, and their work is overseen by Intelligence Commissioners. So, I’m satisfied we have a pretty good system for making sure these organisations act in a proper way.

As for the Snowden revelations, all I would say is this: it is very damaging when you reveal lots of information about organisations that necessarily have to be secret. And you’re in danger, with revelations like Snowden, of helping the terrorists and of helping the organised criminals. Because if they find out all the ways in which they are being followed or monitored, they will take the relevant action.

So look, we shouldn’t be close-minded to the importance of accountability and the importance of making sure these organisations are governed properly. But let’s not be naïve and think that we suddenly live in a world where we don’t need intelligence and security. We do, and in India you know that perhaps as well as anybody.

Beyond that I probably shouldn’t comment, but I think I’ve given you a flavour of where I’m coming from on this issue.

Right, next question. Gentleman in the middle.

Question

Sir, my question is about the Arab Spring, and what are your views about the international community’s reaction to the mayhem that happened in August in Syria? And how do you see the international community responding in future?

Prime Minister

Look, I’ll give you my straightforward headlines. I think first of all we should welcome the Arab Spring. When people and countries want to move towards greater freedom, greater rights, greater engagement, greater democracy, as democrats – whether we’re Indian or British – we should welcome that.

But we should do something else, which is recognise democracy is a journey, it’s not an event. You don’t become a democracy just because you hold one election. It’s the building blocks of democracy that sometimes matter as much, or even more than the elections themselves. Is there equality before the law? Is there access to justice? Is their freedom from corruption? Are there property rights? These things matter as much as actually the event of holding the election.

So, yes welcome the Arab Spring. Two, recognise this is a process. Three, recognise there’ll be setbacks. In Britain, if you take our history and how long it took to go from the idea of not having an absolute monarch to having a full-throated democracy, it was the work of centuries. I think this is important to recognise.

So, I think that that is the right approach. Syria and the events of the 21 August – I think it was a truly dreadful day for the world because chemical weapons were used against civilians in a conflict on a really horrifying scale. Dreadful things happen in the world every day and we have to focus on those that really matter the most. But it seems to me the whole world came together after the First World War and said that chemical weapons use was completely unacceptable. And even in awful events of the Second World War, there wasn’t that sort of routine battlefield use of chemical weapons we saw in the First World War. So I think it was really was a horrific act and I think it was right for the world to take a very strong stance. I obviously wasn’t successful in my own parliament in taking quite the stance I wanted to. But nonetheless I would argue that the stance that people like me took, and the Americans took, has led to what’s happening now in Syria where all the signs are, they really are removing and destroying their chemical weapons. So I think the chemical weapons agreements and treaties are really worth trying to hold onto as a world, in all our interests. And so I think that’s my answer there.

Gentlemen here.

Question

Sir, my question is relating to the trade of goods between India and Britain. So what we’ve realised is India and Britain, the trading in goods has increased in absolute numbers, but as a share of each country’s overall trade has declined significantly. The economist puts it that India trades with China in a week what it ends up trading with Britain in a month. So what what would be your key areas of improvement to bolster trade between India and Britain?

Prime Minister

Yes. Very good. Obviously China and India are geographically closer than Britain and India, but you are right. Our exports to India went up 25%, which is welcome. I think also the investment flows, that can often be a sign of future trade flow, and the fact that India is investing so much in Britain and Britain is investing so much in India, will lead to greater trade flows in the future. But I think there are some actions we need to take here collectively. The trade agreement – the EU-India – European Union-India Free Trade agreement – has been sitting around for a very long time, and we need to make some progress on this. For instance, a very popular and successful product in Britain, Scotch whisky: there are still tariffs of 140% – 150%.

So I think we need to recognise that it will be in all our interests, but we need to be bold. We need politicians to be bold, to put more on the table. Sometimes people say that you make a problem easier to solve if you make it bigger, and maybe this is a problem we need to make larger by putting more into the package, and really then trying to take some risk. So if we get rid of those trade barriers, I think that would help.

I also think the other thing we need to recognise is trade between countries like ours, where a lot of our wealth is in human capital, is more difficult. Because it’s not simply about exporting physical goods. It’s about combining universities. It’s about working together on healthcare. It’s about services, like insurance, banking and architecture. These are almost more difficult to liberalise. But if, for instance, we could get far further on mutual recognition of qualifications, then that would – which we made some progress on this week – would make a big difference. So some of our prizes are harder to get, but nonetheless, if we get them, they will be all the more important.

And on that note, let me make a point about students, because I know there’s always concern about visas and the message the British government sends out. I want to send a very clear message to you today. Two points. First of all, there is no limit on the number of Indian students that can come to Britain and study in a British university. You have to have an English language qualification, you have to have a place at one of our universities, but there is no limit whatsoever. As many who want to come can come.

Second point: when you leave one of those British universities, if you can find graduate employment – a graduate level job – there is no limit on the number who can stay and work. Now, I think that is a very clear offer. Of course, Britain has to have immigration control. Of course, in a relatively small geographical country with a relatively large population we need to manage those numbers. But I think the offer to students – and I make it very openly to Indian students – I think the offer is very clear and very good.

Next question. Gentleman here.

Question

Good afternoon Prime Minister. A lot of STEP students are coming here to India because Asia is becoming really important and India is a developing country as well. And I believe that Europe is becoming a museum. It is not competitive any more, and that’s why I come here as well. And my question is: how do you think we can keep Europe on a competitive level?

Prime Minister

Look, I think you are asking for the Europeans in the audience, asking absolutely the question. And I passionately believe that Europe can have, and European countries like mine, like yours, we can have a very bright and brilliant future. But we can’t go on as we are. We’re competing in a global world with countries that are on the rise, not just India and China, but Malaysia and Indonesia and Singapore, and we do need to change the way we do things. We’re not going to succeed by trying to have low wage economies and all that. We’ve just got to build on our strengths. The European countries still have some great strengths. We’re still very innovative. Britain, I think, produces more patents per head of the population than any country in the world. We’ve got some of the best universities in the world, which is an enormous potential driver. Britain and Belgium, we have the time zone in the middle of the world, so you can trade with Asia in the morning, with America in the afternoon. Britain, of course, has the global language, which you don’t quite have in Belgium but you speak very good English so you’re nearly there.

But look, if we invest in our competitiveness, our innovation, our creativity, I think we have every opportunity to be success stories, because it is not a zero sum game. India’s gain doesn’t have to be Britain’s loss. This is not, as I’m sure your economic professors will back me up on this, the whole point about global trade. It’s not a win/lose situation. If you actually have clear rules, you get rid of tariffs, you get rid of protectionism it can be a win/win situation. And Europe has played to its strength of innovation, creativity, high-paid and high-value jobs. Play to those strengths and we can be a success. And the more that we’re able to link up and work with developing countries, the better we’ll be able to do it.

Our problem though at the moment – we are too addicted to a high-cost, high-welfare and over-regulated world. And we need to recognise that fact and we need to be more competitive. I think is one of the great battles we face.

In fighting it, and based on something Amartya Sen said, which is the link between political openness and economic openness and success – one of the most important things we have in European countries, and you have here in India, are our democratic institutions. Now of course, there are examples around the world of countries that are not democracies, but can point to economic success. But I think we should have the confidence, as people who believe in democracy and rights and equality in front of the law and the rule of law and predictability – those things in the end are tremendous sources of strength. The best combination you can have, in this globalised world, is robust, open and inclusive political institutions that go with robust, open economies. You have those two things. That can lead to the greatest success, even if you don’t have the oil and the gas. Even if you don’t have all the natural resources, you can be a real success story.

I like quoting the example of the two Koreas. You can stand on the border. One way you’ve got South Korea, which in 1960 was the same level of wealth as Zambia. It’s now 20 times wealthier than Zambia. You look north, where they’ve had closed political institutions, a communist system, they are one of the poorest countries in the world in terms of material poverty.

So you know, you have choices as a country, and it’s not dependent on your mineral wealth. It’s not dependent on which part of the globe you’re in. It’s dependent on the institutions you put in place, the policies that you pursue, the choices that we make. Shakespeare – writing rather a long time ago – put it very simply. He said, ‘Our destiny lies not in the stars but in ourselves.’ He was absolutely right.

Next question. Sir.

Question

Mr Prime Minister, moving away from politics and economics, as the CEO of the sixth largest economy in the world, do you have any words of advice on the personal or professional front for management students like us?

Prime Minister

Right. Advice on management. Well that’s what you’re here to study. You should probably be giving me the advice. I think the lessons I see in, as you put it, being CEO of an economy, but Prime Minister of a country, is the importance of team. You know, Prime Ministers do not make all the decisions. They don’t run every department. The most important thing you do is pick a team, and a talented team, and a team that you can work with and trust. I think that is absolutely vital.

I think the second thing is a clear strategy – you need to have a clear plan in politics as in business. It’s like sometimes being in an asteroid shower. You’ve got things flying at you every day. Should you go to Sri Lanka? What are you going to do about the famine in the Philippines? Why’s this minister done that? All these things are coming at you. You need to have a plan for your core role of how you make your country succeed, how you turn your economy round, how you get things right. And you need a plan that you then carefully implement. I think those are the two most important things that I’ve learnt. But I’m sure studying here you will be able to look at very good academic examples of leadership that has worked and leadership that has failed. And I’m sure there are more scientific ways of looking at it than those two examples I would give to you.

More questions. Lady at the back there.

Question

Good evening sir. So my question is regarding the Commonwealth Association. What would be Britain’s involvement in the Commonwealth Association and what is the future that you predict for these group of countries?

Prime Minister

Right, well I think the Commonwealth is still a club that is worth trying to make the most of. The statistics are pretty extraordinary. It includes a third of the world’s population. It includes a fifth of the world’s economy. It includes an incredible diversity of countries. So you’ve got some of the leading power houses of Africa – Nigeria and South Africa. You’ve got some of the most successful South Asian tigers – Singapore and Malaysia. You’ve got the world’s largest democracy – India. We’ve got very advanced and successful countries – Canada and Australia.

So it links all different parts of the globe. And what we need to make the Commonwealth a success is a sense that it should be based on a clear set of values that we hold together as important. And what we did in Perth at the last Commonwealth meeting was sign up to a Commonwealth Declaration that put, what I like to call the golden thread of ideas, absolutely at the heart of this organisation. A belief in the rule of law, in freedom, in human rights and democracy. And I think it’s a club where we try and support those initiatives and pat each other on the back when we get it right, but point a bit of a finger when we get it wrong. I think that is a good organisation to have.

And I think it also provides a meeting place where other issues can be discussed. So when we go and meet in Sri Lanka, there’ll be issues about climate change, issues about how we tackle poverty, whether we can be the driving force to get the UN to adopt proper ideas for tackling poverty.

So, I think it is a worthwhile organisation. It’s certainly not perfect and we’re going to be discussing that I’m sure in the days ahead. But I think in a globalised competitive world, being a member of organisations that bring people and countries together is a good thing to do. So I think we need to make the most of the Commonwealth, but in an ideal world, I’d like to see it get tougher on the human rights democracy, on the golden thread of things that, as I’ve argued, make countries successful in the long term. I’d like to see a toughness on that, because I think in the end it’ll be in all our interests,and sometimes belonging to an organisation helps you to lift your own standards because you do listen. Even if in the initial stages you sometimes push criticism away, in the long term you actually do listen to the points being made to you by your colleagues in these organisations.

Last couple of questions. Gentleman here.

Question

Good evening sir. My question is regarding the British public healthcare system. You spoke a lot about human capital, and it comes at the huge cost to the Exchequer. Is your position on that, and the amount of resources that are dedicated to that, non-negotiable, or is there some more room for improvement? Thank you.

Prime Minister

Very good question. Well I’m a great believer in our National Health Service. It is a universal service. It is available to everyone in Britain on the basis of need, not the basis of ability to pay. And so it is a brilliant thing in our country that if you fall ill, you can go to some of the best hospitals anywhere in the world and get treatment. You can go and see a general practitioner in our primary healthcare system and have the health of your family looked after, and at no time does anyone ask you, ‘Have you got insurance?’ ‘How much money have you got?’ ‘Please can I see your credit card?’ It is a demonstration of British values about everyone paying in and looking after everybody. And by and large, it’s an excellent system.

In terms of the cost, yes of course it’s expensive. I think we’re now spending around 9-10% of our GDP on healthcare. When you compare that with some of the systems that either have private health insurance or have a mixed system, I think you’ll find ours is pretty good value for money. So, I would defend our system. Of course it needs reform and improvement. Every country in the world faces these challenges of aging populations, new treatments coming on stream, more children surviving into childbirth with – with disability conditions and all the rest of it. So huge challenges, but I think that actually we’re quite capable of – of – of meeting them.

It’s been an interesting time over these last three and a half years as Prime Minister. I haven’t cut the NHS. I’ve had to cut other services, but we’ve kept the money going in: sworn increases every year. And, actually, it’s treating now – 1.2 million more people are arriving at Accident and Emergency for treatment every year compared with three years ago, and yet actually the figures for waiting times, for service levels: they have held up very well.

So, I think it is a good system. We need to improve it, we need to make it less bureaucratic, we need to make sure that it can work with private and voluntary sectors rather than just itself, but I would argue, you know, healthcare is always going to be a key political issue for any government to deal with. But I don’t look at other systems and think they’ve got it right and we’ve got it wrong. I think we have a good system that we can improve. But every country must take its own path.

Lady here.

Question

Good evening sir. Going back to the issue of the work visa issues that you just mentioned, it’s really commendable that there is no limit on the number of students who can work there. But then what is your view on the regulations that are being imposed regarding the sponsorships – that the companies now need to provide the sponsorship for the students? And my personal experience – like, a lot of companies are outrightly rejecting students just because they are unwilling to provide sponsorships for them.

Prime Minister

As I said, we have a system where there’s no limit on the numbers who can apply, but we do have a system where we’re not saying that when you leave university you can do non-graduate jobs. And so that’s why a number of people want to seek sponsorship.

We also have a system – and let’s be frank about this – we have a system where we charge. You know, a university education is expensive, and we charge students for it: both overseas students and our own domestic students. Now I would argue – and you could have a good economic debate about it here – I would argue that actually it’s fair to ask students to pay the cost of higher education. Because the evidence shows that if you have a degree – certainly in my country if you have a degree – that enhances your earning power by about £100,000 over your lifetime.

So you’ve got a choice. You can either ask taxpayers to pay, or you can ask undergraduates, graduates and business sponsors to pay. I think it’s fairer to do the second rather than the first, not least because you’re then asking the people who benefit from it to pay for it, and you can use the public spending you save from that on other areas that are in deep need. And if we’re in this global race, and if we have to keep our budget deficits down, you’ve got to try and reserve your money for the things that really need your attention and charge, for instance, students for those courses.

Gentleman here in the checked shirt.

Question

Are there any plans to give Sachin Tendulkar a knighthood once he retires?

Prime Minister

What is great about Sachin Tendulkar is not just the record – and it is an extraordinary record – but I think sportsmen and women can be extraordinary role models to young people. And I think the power of cricket, sometimes to bring countries together, to bring cultures together, is really powerful. And I think it’s that we should celebrate as much as the runs.

I’m still recovering from my game of cricket on the Maidan in Mumbai when I was bowled out by someone who was about 12 years old, while the BBC were filming it. And when I got home, Geoffrey Boycott, one of our most famous cricketers, manhandled me and kept saying, ‘You’ve got to get your left arm out here, laddie’, also all on camera, which was slightly embarrassing when you’re being manhandled by a cricket player.

But lots to celebrate about Sachin. But fortunately the honours system is not entirely within my control.

Last one. Let’s have someone right at the back. The lady right at the back in white.

Question

You’ve been the youngest Prime Minister of one of the biggest countries in the world, so do you think having a young Prime Minister is better or one who’s experienced and older?

Prime Minister

I sometimes say to people when they say, ‘Well, you know, you’re – you’re so young doing this job.’ I say, ‘Well that is the one problem that time will take care of.’ There are all sorts of other problems that time doesn’t heal

I think it’s not age that matters; what matters is commitment, belief, ability, building a team and trying to do the right thing. I see prime ministers who are almost twice my age, sometimes doing a fantastic job. So I don’t think age is the key determinant.

I was in a particular situation where my party had been out of power for really quite a long time. My party wanted to modernise and refresh. It wanted to take some different pathways and get back in touch with people, and so it decided to take a risk and go for the younger leader rather than the older one. But I don’t think it’s age that matters – I think it’s all those other things that make a big difference. But certainly doing this job puts the years on you in any event. So, you probably not only get older but you start feeling a bit older too by the time you’re done.

Go on, we’ll have the gentleman – you’ve been very patient.

Question

Good evening, sir. It has been already been 70 years that United Nation has been founded. So, do you think that permanent members of Security Council should be restructured with new members like India, Brazil and Germany.

Prime Minister

I mean first of all, United Nations is not perfect but it’s very good in our world that we have something like that. You need to have institutions and rules in order to try and have some sensible governance and approach across our world. So, we should all back the United Nations, back the UN charter and back the decisions that it makes.

But one of the ways we should improve it is by modernising the Security Council. There is no justification for the way that it looks at the moment, and I have made this argument before. I made it when I came to India when I first became leader of the Conservative party. The Security Council ought to include India as a permanent member, no doubt about it.

But as important as the changes is, I think, making sure that the Security Council demonstrates political will. I think this is sometimes where as a world we fall down, and I’m sure you study this in your political science classes. One could argue a lot about institutions: how you change an institution, how you improve an institution, do you need new rules, do you need new members? These are all very important political questions, but never forget, at the end of it, what matters more than institutions, is actually political will, is deciding to act, deciding to take a stand.

And as I hope as many of you go into business and some into diplomacy and who knows some into politics, I hope you think about that. Don’t just think about reforming institutions, you have to think about how you behave within them, when you take a stand, what you stand up for. Because, in the end that’s where the United Nations succeeds, as it did over Libya, for instance, when it took a stand. It took a view and it allowed change to happen. And that political will is as important as any of the institutions or the things that we study in our important books, journals and other things.

Can I thank you again for a wonderful welcome. It’s been a real pleasure coming here and best of luck with everything you do. Thank you. Thank you very much.

David Cameron – 2013 Lord Mayor’s Banquet Speech

davidcameron

Below is the text of the speech given by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet Speech in London on 11th November 2013.

My Lord Mayor, My Late Lord Mayor, Your Grace, My Lord Chancellor, Your Excellencies, My Lords, Aldermen, Sheriffs, Chief Commoner, ladies and gentlemen.

Let me start by thanking Lord Mayor Number 685 for a year of great service – to this City and to our country.

And let me congratulate Lord Mayor Number 686 – not only on her appointment but also on the fantastic vision she has just set out.

A vision of diversity and inclusivity that is every bit as vital for our country as it is for the City of London.

In previous years I have set out the principles of a British foreign policy that is outward looking and firmly in our national interest.

In the last year we have stayed true to those principles.

We hosted a G8 which launched negotiations on the biggest bilateral trade deal in history: a deal between the EU and the US that could be worth £10 billion to Britain alone.

We agreed a Lough Erne declaration that should ensure companies pay their taxes, governments are transparent about their income and the world endorses free trade.

We have continued to promote British business abroad – with more foreign direct investment in Britain this year than anywhere else on the planet.

We negotiated a real terms cut in the EU Budget.

And I set out plans for a more competitive and flexible European Union and promised the British people a referendum on the new settlement we reach.

We honoured our promises to the poorest in the world – vaccinating a child against diseases that can kill every 2 seconds.

We continue to help around the world – as we are today in the Philippines where Typhoon Haiyan has wrought such appalling devastation.

Britain is contributing £10 million and HMS Daring, currently deployed near Singapore, will shortly be heading at full speed towards the disaster zone with further support from an RAF C17 which will be a powerful help to the relief operation.

And yes, when it came to the brutal crimes of the Assad regime against its people we stood up for the right values in Syria.

And let’s not pretend that Syria would now be giving up its chemical weapons if we and our allies had looked the other way.

Britain is a country that has always been prepared to stand up for its values.

And today – on Armistice Day – let us join together in paying tribute to all those brave men and women across the generations who have given their lives for our safety and freedom.

For years, Prime Ministers have been coming to this Banquet to talk about the big global challenges facing Britain and the West.

Traditionally these have been about our security and our values.

Today the biggest challenge we face is economic.

It’s about how we ensure a strong, sustained and successful recovery that delivers for everyone in Britain.

And let’s remember that a strong and successful economy is the foundation of our influence when it comes to the foreign and security policy issues we traditionally talk about here.

So it’s this economic challenge I want to talk about tonight.

Of course, Britain has recovered from recessions and financial crashes before.

But this time there is a difference.

In the past, there was an assumption that the West would still emerge as the strongest in the world.

Whether it was the 1930s, or the 1970s, it was clear we were still the ones with the biggest industrial base; still the ones with the ideas, with the scale of market, with the climate for enterprise, the money and the skills to trump them all.

But as the number of university places surges in India, as China creates more patents that any other country in the world and as Brazil becomes the world’s first sustainable biofuels economy, people ask the question, will they be the winners and we be the losers?

I believe we need to say a very firm “no”.

The global economy is not a zero sum game.

If we make the wrong decisions they may well succeed at our expense but there is a clear way forward for us to carve out a place for Britain to be a real success, alongside these new economic powers.

But we should be under no illusion: that success is far from guaranteed.

So how do we succeed?

Well let’s start with what we don’t do.

There are some wrong-headed approaches that we absolutely need to reject.

There’s the view that you can characterise as “stop the world and get off” ignore the interconnectedness of the world economy and pull up the drawbridge.

That’s clearly not the answer.

Then there’s the pretence that the answer is spending and borrowing more on an ever bigger state in an attempt to somehow insulate ourselves from the global competition.

And at the other extreme, there’s embracing globalisation so enthusiastically and unquestioningly that we actually lose sight of our true national interest.

We saw a fair amount of both of those approaches in the previous decade – and we saw what we got in return.

The biggest budget deficit in our peacetime history and mass uncontrolled immigration that put huge pressure on public services and changed communities in a way people didn’t feel comfortable with.

So these wrong-headed ideas, ignoring the international globalised economy, attempting to insulate ourselves against it, or indeed slavishly following it – none of these are the right answer.

So what is?

Engage in some sort of race to the bottom?

Absolutely not.

That completely misunderstands the dynamics of the global economy.

It’s not simply a competition for who can produce the same goods at cheaper prices, it’s about who can produce the new services, the new processes and innovations that can create and sustain the jobs of the future.

And that’s why it’s increasingly high-skilled jobs that are so vital to our success in the global race.

So the right prescription is not to try and imitate developing economies, but to make this country more like Great Britain.

Put simply – to play to our strengths. Take our advantages, invest and add to them.

We have the global language of business.

The time zone where you can trade with Asia in the morning and America in the afternoon.

The City of London, the global home of finance.

Our top universities are amongst the best on the planet.

And inventiveness, innovation and credibility will be key to our success.

We are the country that invented everything from the light bulb to the jet engine, from the tin can to the tank.

You name it, we’ve created it.

And the truth is we’re still at it.

Whether it’s sequencing the genome, isolating grapheme or designing the chips that power not just 9 out of 10 of the smartphones in this room – but all over the world.

We have the scientists and technical expertise that is the envy of the world.

This is Britain. Competitive, pioneering, creative, innovative.

Our success in the global race hinges on playing to these strengths – on taking the country that led the agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution and the market-based revolution of the 80s and equipping it to lead the economic revolution of today.

And as we do so, we should never forget this.

Our institutions, particularly our democracy, property rights, access to markets, the rule of law and equality for all before the law. These things are not incidental to our economic strength – they are absolutely key to it.

They form the golden thread of conditions which allow countries to thrive over the long term.

But to play to our strengths and make a success of our country in the global race, we do have to do some things differently.

We can’t simply try and rebuild the same type of economy that we had before the crash.

We can’t just go back to how things used to be.

We need to build something better.

A vision of a new kind of economy where the benefits of growth are shared by all, north and south alike.

An economy for everyone where the right skills, the right jobs and the right rewards are all there available for people with the right attitude and where all our children and grandchildren can look forward to a better future.

What does all that mean in practice?

I believe it means we need 4 things.

First, an economy with a state we can afford.

Second, an economy where everyone can take part.

Third, an economy that is equipped for the future.

And fourth an economy based on enterprise at home and abroad.

Let me just say a word about each.

First, an economy with a state we can afford.

There are some people who seem to think that the way you reduce the cost of living in this country is for the state to spend more and more taxpayers’ money.

It’s as if somehow you measure the compassion of the government by the amount of other people’s money it can spend.

At a time when family budgets are tight, it is really worth remembering that this spending comes out of the pockets of the same taxpayers whose living standards we want to see improve.

I hope the Archbishop of Canterbury will forgive me for saying – it’s not robbing Peter to pay Paul – but rather robbing Peter to pay Peter.

Let’s be clear.

The single biggest threat to the cost of living in this country is if our budget deficit and debts get out of control again.

If interest rates and mortgage rates start to soar, the increase in cost of living will far outweigh the impact of any increase in government spending or indeed reduction in taxation.

This government is not prepared to let that happen.

We have a plan – and we are carefully implementing that plan.

Already we have cut the deficit by a third. And we are sticking to the task.

But that doesn’t just mean making difficult decisions on public spending.

It also means something more profound.

It means building a leaner, more efficient state.

We need to do more with less.

Not just now, but permanently.

It can be done. Consider these facts.

There are 40 per cent fewer people working in the Department for Education – but over 3,000 more free schools and academies, with more children doing tougher subjects than ever before.

There are 23,000 fewer administrative roles in the NHS – but 5,000 more doctors, with shorter waiting times.

So you can have a leaner, more efficient, more affordable state that actually delivers better results for the taxpayer.

The second thing we need is an economy where everyone can take part.

That’s not what we have today.

Consider this.

64 per cent of children on free school meals don’t get 5 good GCSEs with English and Maths.

Around a quarter of all children leave primary school unable to read and write.

And 4,000 children leave secondary school every year with no GCSEs at all.

That’s why we’re radically changing the education system, overhauling the curriculum, introducing more rigorous apprenticeships, and giving every child the chance to excel.

Not letting people make the most of their talents is not just a tragedy for the individual – it is a tragedy for our country too.

In the same context, inequality is not just wrong – it fundamentally disadvantages our economy.

At the moment, the UK has the lowest ratio in Europe for women in STEM subjects and in engineering, less than 1 in 6 graduates are women.

That’s simply not good enough.

So we’re aiming to double that proportion by 2030.

We simply can’t afford, in the tough competitive world of the 21st century, for our manufacturing industries to miss out on the brightest minds among half of the population.

But an economy for everyone means more than great education.

It also means reforming the welfare system.

Put simply, no country can succeed in the long term if capable people are paid to stay idle and out of work.

We went into the last recession with 4 million people of working age on out of work benefits.

We know the most progressive way to tackle poverty is through work.

And yet for generations, people who could work have been failed by the system and stuck on benefits.

So we’re putting an end to the poverty and wealth traps that have plagued our welfare system for too long.

We’re capping welfare, so that no family is better off on benefits than in work.

And through universal credit, we’re ensuring that for every extra hour you work and every extra job you do – you should always be better off.

I’m also very focused on supporting the voluntary sector to work alongside the state in fighting poverty and building this economy where everyone can take part.

For example, one of the best answers to payday lending is the credit union movement.

As a government we have invested £38 million to double the membership of credit unions, a shining example of the Big Society in action.

Third, we need an economy equipped for the future.

We can’t have an economy for all if people in the parts of the North or in some rural communities are left without the transport links or the superfast broadband they need to take part.

So we are investing in infrastructure that serves the whole country.

£680 million to ensure we have the best superfast broadband in Europe by 2015.

The biggest investment in road since the 1970s.

The biggest rail investment since Victorian times.

With Cross-rail, the biggest construction project anywhere in Europe.

And with High Speed 2, the first new train line running north out of London for 120 years.

So yes, there may be some people who want to try and stop these changes – or at least argue for them to happen somewhere else, away from their back yard.

But, let me tell you this.

Again, this government has a plan for the long term – and we are sticking to the task.

Finally, everyone knows that we need a bigger and more prosperous private sector to generate wealth and pay for the public services we need.

That means we need to support, reward and celebrate enterprise.

That requires a fundamental culture change in our country.

A culture that’s on the side of those who work hard, that values that typically British, entrepreneurial, buccaneering spirit, and that rewards people with the ambition to make things, sell things and create jobs for others up and down the country.

That’s what this government is on a mission to bring about.

We want to make Britain the best place in Europe to start, finance or grow a business.

So we are cutting corporation tax to 20 per cent, the lowest in the G20.

We are saving businesses £1 billion by slashing red tape.

We are backing innovative industries that will revolutionise world markets.

And through our new Challenger Business Initiative we are identifying those sectors where barriers need to be removed to enable new entrants and disruptive business models to develop at pace over the next five years.

But we’re not just putting enterprise at the heart of our economic policy.

We want to make sure it is boosted everywhere. Promoted in schools. Taught in colleges. Celebrated in communities. Recognised properly in the honours system.

And yes, supported abroad.

So we’re making enterprise a fundamental part of our foreign policy too.

Since 2011, almost £1 billion of new export contracts have been secured for the UK’s businesses thanks to support from UK Export Finance.

And I want us to build on that.

The Lord Mayor and I will be leading from the front again in the coming months.

This week I am leading trade visits to India and the Gulf.

And I can announce this evening that in early December I will be leading another delegation to China.

As China’s new leadership sets its direction for the next 10 years, as their country’s star continues to rise in the world, I will take senior British Ministers – as well as business leaders from every sector large and small – to forge a relationship that will benefit both our countries and bring real rewards for our peoples. Opening the way for British companies to benefit from China’s vast and varied markets and preparing the way for a new level of Chinese investment into the UK.

This is a relationship that is for the long term, that matters for Britain and China, and which I look forward to continuing to strengthen in the months and years to come.

And we don’t just need more investment from China.

We want to do more to attract investors from the Gulf too.

So we will introduce a new electronic visa waiver system for short-term visitors from Oman, Qatar and United Arab Emirates making it easier for companies to come here and do business.

This will be up and running in the new year and we will roll it out to Kuwait later next year.

And we’re doing something else to drive up that inward investment.

I am delighted that Alderman and former Lord Mayor Sir Michael Bear has agreed to chair a new Regeneration Investment Organisation as part of UK Trade and Investment.

This will act as a one-stop shop for our major inward investment opportunities – with £100 billion of possible projects on the table.

These projects won’t just mean new jobs in London or the South East – but right across the whole country.

And the first deal is just days away to boost regeneration in places like Liverpool, Salford, Sheffield and Leeds.

A state we can afford.

An economy where everyone can take part.

An economy equipped for the future.

And an economy based on enterprise at home and abroad.

That’s how we build something better.

That’s how we can build an economy for everyone.

And by doing this, we needn’t look at the global race with fear.

But with confidence.

Confident in the belief that Britain can come through stronger.

Confident that with the right decisions now our children can look forward to a better future.

Confident that here in the City of London – the great innovator that has led the way in finance for centuries – we can support a Great Britain whose innovation and creativity can lead the world for generations to come.

David Cameron – 2013 Speech to the CBI

davidcameron

Below is the text of the speech made by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, to the CBI on 4th November 2013.

I think this is probably the eighth CBI conference I’ve addressed as leader of a political party or prime minister. And I’m pleased to say that as Prime Minister on this occasion, I can report to you an economy that is growing, and growing well; forecast to grow 3 times faster than Germany this year. An economy that is generating jobs – generating jobs faster than almost any other G7 country; we’ve seen 1.4 million private sector jobs created over the last 3 years.

And to those people who thought that growth in the private sector would never be able to make up for the necessary cuts in the public sector, I can report to you that there are 1 million more people in work, compared with 3 years ago.

We’ve still got a long way to go, but I can report to you that there are 400,000 more businesses operating in Britain; so I think our economy is on track. We’re on our way. We’ve got a lot of work to do but we are on the right track.

And I want to thank all of the business people in this room for the investments you’ve made and the people that you’ve employed. And I also want to thank the CBI for this, which is that there were many people who were arguing that we should abandon Plan A, that we should give up on deficit reduction. But in that argument we had a staunch ally in the CBI and I would like to thank John Cridland, your Director-General, who I think has done a superb job for your organisation and for the British economy. Thank you, John.

John has always been very clear about the CBI agenda. And I’ve been very clear about my agenda; I want to lead a government that is pro-business, pro‑enterprise, pro-growth. And I’ve listened to your agenda, and I’ve tried to respond to every part that I can.

You wanted us to put in place deficit reduction; that was what we did. You wanted more competitive tax rates; we’ve cut the rate of corporation tax down to 20%. We’ve even cut the top rate of tax, although that was politically difficult to deliver. You’ve asked us to prioritise infrastructure; we have prioritised infrastructure, and I’ll say some more about that a bit later on. You wanted us to reform planning, you wanted us to invest in housing; we’ve taken on politically difficult changes to planning, but as a result we’re seeing construction and housing now beginning to grow. It was the right call.

The CBI have also asked me to lead trade missions all over the world. In the last 3 years I’ve taken a trade mission to every single G20 country, apart from Argentina. I’m sure I can get there in the end but I haven’t made it that far just yet; you’re very welcome to join me when I do.

We’re seeing some good results. The UK, in the first 6 months of this year, was the biggest recipient of foreign direct investment anywhere in the world; bigger than Brazil, bigger than America, bigger than China. I think that’s an extraordinary set of figures.

So, we are making progress, but the fundamental challenge that we face, as a country and as an economy, remains the same, which is we need a fundamentally different economic model. We need a more balanced economy. We want to be not so reliant on the South East of England, not to be so reliant on finance. We want a recovery that is for all. We want a more resilient economy. And that remains the huge challenge, and what I want to address in my 15 minutes is the 5 things that I think will make a really big difference in terms of getting that rebalanced, stronger economy that delivers a recovery for all.

Now, the first thing is that we have to continue with Plan A. We have to continue to reduce the deficit. Now that doesn’t just mean cuts, although we have had to cut public spending and we’re going to have to go on making difficult decisions into 2015, into 2016. But it also means something more profound, which is building a state that we can afford and making sure we do some fundamental reform of our public services so that there are long-term affordable.

Two examples of things we’ve done in recent years – again, politically difficult – firstly is the reform of public sector pensions. We’ve cut the long-term cost of public sector pensions by something like 50% over the long term. Also the higher education reforms – again, very difficult but it’s much better as a country, I would argue, to have universities that are based on receiving money from successful students rather than receiving money from taxpayers. So we built a more sustainable model. So that is challenge number one: a state that we can afford and sticking to Plan A, sticking to deficit reduction.

The second thing we’ve got to get right is education. Here’s one, I think, thoroughly depressing figure for you: 64% of children on free school meals don’t get 5 good GCSEs, including English and Maths. Now my concern is in the modern economy – and Mike’s just been talking about how interrelated all our economies now are in this global race. If you don’t get 5 good GCSEs, including English and Maths it is difficult to play a part – a successful part – in a modern industrial economy. So we’ve got to improve on this.

And that’s where the radicalism of this government that you see by breaking up the state monopoly and allowing free schools into education, very strict on the rigor in terms of saying English and Maths are the 2 most important vocational qualifications there are, saying that children should go on taking and retaking English and Maths until they get them. The radicalism is absolutely essential and I hope we’ll have the full, hearty backing of industry and business and commerce in being very radical on education. I sometimes challenge my own children and say, ‘Can you think of a job in the world where you don’t need English and Maths.’ My son said, ‘What about football players?’ I said, ‘Well, even they need to able to count their money, don’t they?’ But it is a fundamental truth – the 2 most important vocational subjects.

So, radical reform on education. And what I want to see is a new norm, so that as people leave school they’re either taking a path doing A‑levels and then to university or they are taking a path that involves a proper apprenticeship and skills training. Now, we’ve seen 1.5 million people start apprenticeships over the last 3 years, but I want to see that built on. And I want to see more of the higher level of apprenticeships that many of the people in this room are now investing in. So that’s the second thing: education. That is to ensure that the people can take part in a modern industrial economy.

The third is welfare reform. To me welfare reform is very much part of our economic plan, because if you don’t reform welfare you have a danger that you have people stuck on welfare year after year and, indeed, sometimes generation after generation. So again, I hope you’ll give the support for the radical welfare reform plans that we have: capping welfare so that no family is better off on benefits than you would be in work. And also, universal credits, as work always pays: for every extra hour you work, every extra job you do, you should always be better off. We get rid of those poverty traps and wealth traps forever.

So I think welfare reform is an absolutely essential part of the economic plan. And to people who say, you know, ‘What are we going to do about the fact that our economy is generating jobs but so many of those jobs are going to people who come and choose to live here from overseas,’ I would argue yes, of course you need immigration controls, of course you need limits on immigration, but a real immigration policy is actually a welfare and education policy. That is how we’ll make sure we fill the vacancies that you are creating with people coming out of British schools, with good qualifications, who can make a real contribution to our economy.

The fourth thing we’ve got to do after welfare is invest in infrastructure. I said earlier, we’ve prioritised infrastructure, so while we’ve made some difficult cuts in current spending, we’ve seen infrastructure investment grow – there is far more we need to do in the years ahead. Now our plans, I now believe, are really ambitious. What you’re going to see is a trebling of expenditure on our roads, a roads programme as big as the one in the 1970s; the investment in railways is now bigger than at any time since Victorian times, a massive programme of electrification and, of course, vital new routes like Crossrail, currently burrowing under London – the biggest construction project anywhere in Europe – and of course, the vital investment in HS2.

Now I’m passionate about this, we need to build new railway lines in our country. We haven’t built a line north of London for 120 years. Now when people challenge me about HS2 I say this: the West Coast mainline is full. Thousands of our fellow countrymen are standing everyday as they come in to Euston or they go into Birmingham. We need to build another West Coast. So the choice for us as a country is, do we build one of the old Victorian style railways or do we build one of these new intercity lines. I believe it’s absolutely right to make this investment. It’s going to unite our country, drive economic growth, make sure our economy shares growth between the North and South, it will link 8 of our 10 biggest cities.

And to people who say, ‘Well is it going to take up too much of the government’s budget?’ Between 2015 and 2020 we’re going to be spending £73 billion on road and railway investments. HS2 is £16 billion of that. But, another way, we’re going to be spending 3 times as much on other projects as we are on HS2. I want to make sure we get every penny and value for money from this HS2 investment. I think it’s fantastic that Sir David Higgins, the man who built the Olympics on time and on budget, is going to be running HS2. One of the first things he’s going to do is make absolutely sure we drive every extra bit of cost out of this that we can so that it comes in under the budget that’s been set. There’s already a £14 billion contingency there, but I know he’ll do a good job and make it affordable for our country.

And to people who say there’s some other cost reduction plan that we could also have, I think that is nonsense. I think Sir David Higgins in charge, budget that we have, contingency we have – this is a good investment for Britain. And people who are against it, in my view, are putting our country’s future at risk, they’re putting the future of the north of England at risk, and we need to have a concerted consensus across business and across politics, that we get behind these large infrastructure projects.

The same applies with nuclear. I’m delighted that this year we’ve come to the agreement about building Hinkley Point C. This is a £14 billion investment. It is thousands of jobs for our country, and more importantly it’s getting Britain back in to the front line of the nuclear industry, where we belong.

So, that is my four: the state we can afford, education and skills, welfare reform and infrastructure. And the fifth is this, which is slightly more esoteric, but nonetheless important. In order to have a rebalanced economy, a more resilient economy, an economy that can succeed in the global race we’re in, we need to have a real culture change in our country in favour of enterprise, in favour of business, in favour of industry.

Now there are some things that the government can do. Obviously we can help encourage entrepreneurship. We’ve set up these start-up loans which are incredibly successful. The New Enterprise Allowance to encourage unemployed people to start up their businesses. We’ve introduced the EIS scheme that people tell me is now probably the most generous tax break for people starting up new businesses, anywhere in the world.

But there’s only a certain amount government can do, and this is what I want to enlist your help for. Earlier on I talked about the agenda items of yours that we had taken up; this is an agenda item of mine that I’d like you to take up. Which is that we need to get more businesses into our schools to inspire young people about enterprise, about small business, about entrepreneurship and about industry itself.

And there’s an excellent organisation called Speakers for Schools, established by that man Robert Peston. You normally see him explaining some complicated economic issue on the BBC. Speakers for Schools gets inspirational speakers into schools to inspire young people. And we have agreed, with your help, to get 1,000 business speakers over the next year into schools to do exactly that. And I’m really delighted the CBI’s going to help me with this; I think it’s a really important agenda for our country.

So, those are the 5 things that I think that can make a difference; the things that will make sure we’re a successful economy in the future. And it’s not some dry business, economic agenda. In the end, I believe this is a deeply progressive agenda. If we have a state that we can’t afford and we keep running big deficits, it’s the poorest in our country who suffer. If we have an education system that is okay for an elite, but is not helping people from challenging circumstances, we let down the poorest in our country. If we don’t reform welfare we have people stuck, generation after generation, in workless households, unable to build a better life for themselves and their families. If we don’t have proper infrastructure we’ll have an economy that is great for the South, but not good enough for the other parts of our country.

So this business agenda, this enterprise agenda – this is, I believe, a deeply, deeply progressive agenda, which is about making sure everyone in our country has the chance to play a part, to participate, to fulfil their aspirations. That is the job that I came into politics to do. That is the job I thoroughly enjoy doing as Prime Minister. We are turning this economy around, we are turning this country around, but it is a long-term plan for success, and a long-term plan for success which we need the support and help of the CBI and all its members. Thank you very much indeed.

 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:

Question

You spoke very passionately about our strengths in areas like education and technology, for instance, but isn’t part of our success also about innovating and creating new businesses that might not have existed 10 years ago. One example might be FutureLearn, a company we launched a few weeks ago; it’s now attracted over 150,000 students from 160 countries around the world. Isn’t part of Britain’s competitive advantage our ability to generate new ideas, to innovate new businesses and create markets that never existed 10 or 15 years ago?

Prime Minister

That is absolutely right. If we look at where the jobs growth is going to come from, it will come from small start-up businesses taking people on. Obviously we want big successful companies in Britain, and we should listen very carefully to what they are asking for, and infrastructure investment is a key thing that they often mention to me. But it is the start-up, it is the insurgent, where I think the jobs will come from.

So, we’ve got to make sure that we’re a country that’s very supportive of that. That’s why we’ve introduced entrepreneur visas, so some of the brightest and best can come to our country with their ideas. It’s why we’ve got, in the Enterprise Investment Scheme – the EIS scheme – one of the most generous tax breaks for helping start-up businesses. I think we need to do better, frankly, at linking our universities with catapult centres and other ways of generating ideas out of our universities. It’s a massive national asset we’ve got: some of the best universities anywhere in the world. But we can do even more, I think, on that agenda.

Got to make sure that we address all the stages of a company’s growth. It’s often said in Britain we’re good at the angel start-up investment, but then there can be something of a valley of death, or at least difficult, as you go on, grow, until you get to the – where we are also very good – AIM and other investment markets. We need to look at all of these things, but you’re absolutely right; insurgency, new ideas, innovation: it’ll be those countries that get those things right that really win.

Question

You talk about rebalancing the economy away from overdependence on the South-East, and obviously you started the local enterprise partnerships when you came into government. I just wondered what your scorecard would be for the local enterprise partnerships, and if you could give us your vision for a, sort of, idea scenario for business support?

Prime Minister

I think the local enterprise partnerships are a success. I think they are better than what we had before, and I think the regional development agencies were too bureaucratic, too expensive, they weren’t business-led. So, I’d say the good things about the LEPS – the local enterprise partnerships – is they are business-led, I think that makes a big difference. They’re also relevant to particular areas; the design of LEPs came from the bottom up, rather than the top down. But, my scorecard report would be some excellent, and some less good.

I think one of the ways to test how they’re doing is to look at the enterprise zones. Some of these enterprise zones are going extremely well, and you see major investment, and you see the – the figures are not only – they come off the side, because the new factories are being built, and what have you – other areas slower.

So I think it’s a mixed picture, but I think it’s the right model, and I think the last thing we need now is to fiddle with the model again. I think we need to now get on and deliver these City Deals: Birmingham being a classic case, where I think it’s bringing jobs and investment and houses as well. I’ve got an excellent Cities Minister in Greg Clark, who’s got a whole team around him in the Cabinet Office to deliver these City Deals, and I think they are an important part of the regional growth agenda.

So, I think a mixed picture, but the right model. We now need to just get on with it.

Question

We’re a manufacturing business based in the North-East, and we’re set up as a result of a change in European legislation. We now have 110 people in our business, and we make things. How are you going to ensure – we are seen as a gateway into Europe for many of our clients – how are you going to ensure that the EU debate is a balanced debate that really takes on board things like that, where it’s positive rather than the headlines of The Daily Mail?

Prime Minister

I think the CBI have hugely helped this morning, with a very positive report.

Look, I think the problem with the European debate is, until I came up with this, I think, very bold but correct strategy of saying, ‘Let us renegotiate and then let’s have an in/out referendum,’ so we settle this issue properly in Britain: until that time, I think the trouble is the debate was just slipping away, and, as I put it, consent for our membership of the EU was getting wafer thin. Now we’re giving people a proper choice. Instead of, keep it exactly as it is now, the status quo, or leave altogether.

The Eurozone have got to coordinate their economic policies more. They’ve got to coordinate their tax rates more. They’ve got to have a banking union. And it’s right that they do those things. We shouldn’t stand in their way, but I think it’s perfectly legitimate to say, ‘Right, you, the Eurozone countries, need these changes. Well we – outside the euro, we need some changes too.’ And when we make both those sets of changes, that’s when we should go back to the British people, before the end of 2017, and have that referendum.

And I think it’ll be a much more balanced debate, because we won’t be arguing in/out on the status quo. We’ll be arguing about staying in a reformed European Union, and a better deal for Britain.

Question

How does announcing the green levies review on Prime Minister’s Questions square with the need to provide investors with certainty to invest in technologies that can deliver the UK’s decarbonisation targets?

Prime Minister

Well, first of all, I think we have one of the clearest and most generous sets of incentives for green investment, and this government’s made a huge amount of steps forward. I mean, most recently, the fact that we have agreed, with Électricité de France, the first new nuclear power station in Britain since 1995, I think is massive evidence of that.

But the fact is, if we look at the problems of people paying their energy bills, you know, the 2 elements of the bill that need really looking at are the extent of culpability in the industry, and the charges that are put on people’s bills. I mean, if you analyse the 4 bits to a bill, you know, you’ve got the wholesale costs of energy. Well we’re not in control of that. There’s the cost of distributing that energy to people’s homes – the National Grid and all the rest of it – there may be some changes you can make there. Then you’ve got the green taxes, levies and charges. And then you’ve got, effectively, the profits made in these industries.

And it seems to me it’s those last two that we need to look at. So the right policy tools are: competition, and making sure that it’s a fully competitive market where new companies can come in – insurgents, as we were talking about recently; and the second is to make sure that the green charges, levies and taxes are appropriate. And in my view they got too high, and we need to draw back the costs of them. But I think business completely understands that, and we’ll go on seeing perfectly good levels of investment into the renewable sector, which we’ve already seen under this government.

Question

How do you manage negative backlash against the visa bond policy. And how do you manage the challenges that come with trying to integrate the Islamic finance into the London system, such that the centre of gravity of finance continues to stay in London?

Prime Minister

Well first of all, on the visa bonds, this was an idea that I think the Deputy Prime Minister first proposed, but we’re not proposing to go ahead with it, but – he has lots of good ideas, but this one’s not one we’re going ahead with.

The second issue: Islamic finance. If you look at the history of the City of London, it has always been a fast mover. You know, whether it was the eurobond market, whether it was the insurance market, whether it was being the first offshore renminbi trading centre. We’ve always been fleet of foot, and I think that’s exactly the attitude we should have with Islamic finance. This is a big and growing market in the world. A lot of it has got a lot of expertise, and I want us to be at the cutting edge of this market.

Now, of course, I want to challenge this to go through, as we try and launch this first Islamic bond – the sukuk – which we’ll be doing next year. Lots of challenges to go through, but they are not beyond the wit of man to sort out, so we must get these challenges sorted, and I think it’s a big opportunity, once again, for London to be at the cutting edge of Europe.

Question

I’m flying, and going by train about 20% of the level I was 20 years ago. A lot of what I do now is videoconferencing, collaborating, and I work from home a lot. So shouldn’t we invest more in our communication within the structure rather than some of the old fashioned ways of getting around like rail?

Prime Minister

Well, that’s right – you’re right, I should have mentioned in my speech broadband, which I think is – particularly for people living in rural areas, it is the most important piece of infrastructure investment that we’re engaged in. And the news is quite good. We are not top of the pack in Europe on broadband and broadband speeds but we’re near the top. And the government’s programme will roll this out over 90% of homes in the coming years. And it is pretty robust. It took some time to get through the EU clearance procedures, but it’s now going full guns ahead.

But that said, while of course you need broadband speeds, you also need – a modern economy needs modern infrastructure and it needs goods to be able to move around the country. And I think it’s this idea that, you know, everyone will be home working, no one is going to be travelling, so we don’t need new infrastructure. Just look at how crowded our trains are at the moment. I mean since privatisation, train use has doubled, so passenger numbers are right up but we need capacity.

I think that’s one of the problems we’ve had with HS2 is the early argument, a lot of it was about speed. I make no apology for that. It is important to get from A to B quickly. Have you ever met – is there a businessman here who likes to take the slow train, who likes to go more slowly? Of course not, everyone wants to get places quickly.

But the real argument about HS2 isn’t the speed, it’s capacity. You know, the line is full, we need a new line, and building HS2 will not just make it faster and more capacity to get from London to Birmingham, or London to Leeds, or London to Manchester. It will have enormous knock-on benefits for other destinations. There’ll be more trains that can go, for instance, from London to Blackpool, or London to Shrewsbury.

So, it’s the capacity argument that we really need to make. And we can see that when you look at what happened with HS1 – the Channel Tunnel line – that’s freed up a lot of capacity in the south-east of England, and that’s been hugely beneficial.

So, yes broadband is important, but also road, rail and air transport are all going to be important in the future and, frankly, Britain has not invested enough in the past. We’ve not had enough of a plan. We now have a plan and we should deliver.

Question

How do you react to the CBI’s warning today for all politicians to stop playing politics with big business? It seems to me that the people in this room are telling Labour to stop playing games on energy, but they are equally telling you to stop playing games on Europe. Will you?

Prime Minister

Well, first of all, on infrastructure and on energy, I think the message from this room is absolutely clear. We want a national consensus. We know this investment is important and politicians should stop taking short-term approaches.

On Europe, no one is playing a game. This is one of the most important questions facing our country. Now, it is my judgement that our current consent to remaining inside the EU is paper-thin. We haven’t made the argument enough about why Europe matters, and frankly there are lots of things in the European Union that badly need reform. It is too costly. It is not flexible enough. It doesn’t help with our competitiveness enough. It needs to change.

So the argument I have made is not some short-term tactical ploy. It is a long-term strategic choice for Britain. Let us reform this organisation, let us make changes to how it works, and then put those changes to the British people in a referendum. And what I’ve put forward I believe has the overwhelming support of the British people, in terms of the right choice to take, and it also has strong business backing too. Yes, of course, this organisation and other business organisations will be absolutely crucial when it comes to that choice in 2017 about whether we stay in a reformed European Union or we leave it.

But be in no doubt, in the end you can’t stay in these organisations that give up quite a bit of your national sovereignty – you can’t stay in these organisations unless you take the British people with you. The British people were told about a common market. They were told about an economic area. So much has changed about this organisation and so little consent has been granted, that it’s time to make those arguments, seek that consent, and as Prime Minister of this country that’s exactly what I’ll do.

Can I thank you very much indeed for a really splendid session. I really enjoyed it. Thank you for your questions, and thank you for your reception. Thank you.

David Cameron – 2013 European Council Statement

davidcameron

Below is the text of the statement made by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, in the House of Commons on 28th October 2013 on the previous week’s European Council meeting.

Mr Speaker, in the last 24 hours the country has been hit by one of the worst storms for many years.

I know the thoughts of the whole House will be with the families and friends of the people we know have lost their lives.

And I am sure the House will join with me in paying tribute to our emergency services and to all those who have been working to clear up the debris and get our transport system moving again.

Let me turn to last week’s European Council.

The key subjects under discussion were business regulation, competitiveness and monetary union.

We also discussed migration policy following the Lampedusa tragedy and the importance of the EU’s Eastern Partnership.

So the background to this Council was the state of the European economy.

There is no doubt that the outlook is better than it has been and particularly here in Britain where Friday’s figures showed the fastest growth for 3 years.

My aim at this Council was to do everything possible to enhance the prospects of a sustained, balanced recovery here in the UK.

We made good progress on 3 areas in particular – cutting red tape, promoting trade and the completion of the single market in digital and services and protecting British interests as the Eurozone integrates further.

Let me briefly say a word about each.

Cutting red tape

First, on cutting red tape, Britain’s Business Task Force produced an excellent report which was endorsed by a hundred European businesses.

I chaired a meeting bringing members of the Business Taskforce together with President Barroso and the leaders of Germany, Sweden, Italy, Poland, Finland, Estonia and the Netherlands.

These countries representing all parts of Europe and all political traditions agreed on the need to make more progress in cutting regulation and helping businesses across Europe to create jobs.

And the strong language adopted by all EU Member States reflects this.

It calls for rapid implementation of REFIT – the Commission’s own bureaucracy-cutting initiative and a proper scorecard to measure exactly how much regulation is being cut.

Deregulation is now part of the EU agenda in a way that it simply hasn’t been before.

Trade and the single market

Second, on trade we welcomed the conclusion of the EU-Canada trade deal.

This new deal could be worth £1.3 billion to the British economy with estimates suggesting British exports to Canada could go up by well over a fifth.

Last week’s agreement also means we can now move the focus onto the EU-US talks which we began at the G8 in Lough Erne.

There were some attempts to link this potential US trade deal with the concerns over US intelligence.

But the Council rejected this idea.

Mr Speaker, turning to the Digital Single Market, once again the commitment was made to complete this by 2015 potentially boosting growth by as much as 4% of the EU’s GDP.

As Britain is a world leader in e-commerce – this is very much in our interests.

We made good progress at the Council on issues like portability of data, e-identification, e-invoicing and payment services and EU-wide copyright regime for the digital age.

But we also agreed not to rush ahead with the data protection directive on an artificial timetable before the disproportionate burdens on small business have been removed.

In terms of the Services Directive we agreed it was time to look at a new sector-by-sector approach rather than just trying to remove all the outstanding barriers to free trade in services in one go.

Defending Britain’s interests as the Eurozone integrates further

Third, on defending Britain’s interests, as I have argued repeatedly, the European Union is changing and the Eurozone needs more integration and co-ordination.

But Britain is not in the Single currency – and we’re not going to be.

So we shouldn’t have to take part in these additional bits of co-ordination – whether they cover economic or social policy.

So while Members of the Eurozone agreed to even more intrusive policy co-ordination -including on social policy I was clear that Britain will not take part.

This is reflected in the Communique which says all changes are voluntary for those countries not in the single currency.

On the tragedy at Lampedusa, we agreed the next stages of the work of Frontex – responsible for trying to stop people coming to the EU in the first place.

But we rejected the idea that there should be additional burden-sharing for so called “frontline states” not least because Britain, France, Germany, Belgium and Sweden received almost 70% of asylum applications recorded in the EU in the last 12 months.

What is most important of all is helping to stop the problems at their source.

The UK will continue to play a leading role in this for example through support for border security in Libya and the focus of our development assistance on helping countries at risk of instability.

And on the Eastern Partnership we agreed that countries which look towards Europe for support – such as Ukraine – should be free to enter into agreement with us while of course continuing to insist on proper standards of governance and justice that such a relationship should entail.

Intelligence agencies

Finally, Mr Speaker, because of the recent controversies there was much discussion about the role of intelligence agencies.

We agreed a statement signed as Heads of Government that said European countries and America should have a relationship based on trust and that damage had been done by recent revelations.

The UK has a very strong, long-standing trust-based relationship with the US – not least as part of the Five Eyes partnership together with Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

We have Parliamentary Scrutiny of our intelligence agencies through the Intelligence and Security Committee – and we have strengthened that oversight.

Our agencies operate under the law.

And their work is overseen by Intelligence Commissioners.

Of course as technology develops and the threats we face evolve, so we need to make sure that the scrutiny and frameworks in place remain strong and effective.

But we have every reason to be proud of our intelligences services and the way in which they are properly constituted in this country. Since 2000, we have seen serious attempts at major acts of terrorism in Britain typically once or twice a year.

And since 9/11, 330 people have been convicted in our courts – here in the UK – of terrorism-related offences.

This year alone, there were major trials related to plots including plans for a 7/7-style attack with rucksack bombs two plots to kill soldiers and a failed attempt to attack an English Defence League march using an array of lethal weapons.

There were guilty pleas in each case.

24 terrorists were convicted and sentenced to more than 260 years in jail.

Our intelligence has also allowed us to warn our EU allies about terrorist plots aimed at their people cyber attacks on their businesses and infrastructure and attempts in their own states to illegally traffick drugs, people, arms and money.

Mr Speaker, our Intelligence Officers serve our country without any public recognition.

Some have given their lives in this service.

And yet their names are not known. And their loved ones must mourn in secret.

We owe them – and every intelligence officer in our country – an enormous debt of gratitude.

These silent heroes and heroines are keeping our country safe.

They deserve our wholehearted support.

And I commend this Statement to the House.