Lord Falconer – 2002 Speech to the Local Government Association


Below is the text of the speech made by Lord Falconer to the Local Government Association on 22nd January 2002.

Thank you for that kind introduction.

I welcome today’s opportunity to explain how the Planning Green Paper represents a genuine opportunity for local government.

We are keen to engage in dialogue with you on the Planning Green Paper.

I believe that the proposals in the Planning Green Paper will empower you to deliver a more effective and efficient planning system.

These two themes – empowerment and delivery – are crucial to achieving a planning system that is faster and fairer and more effective.

They are crucial to creating a planning system with community interests at its heart, but with barriers to economic development removed.

In order to achieve this kind of fundamental change, we need to empower local authorities to bring clarity, certainty, and a sense of strategic direction to planning.

The first way to do this is to simplify the planning system.

At the moment, and you will all know this better than I, there are too many plans. The hierarchy of plans is complex, often overlapping and often contradictory.

Structure plans, local plans and unitary development plans are too often incomplete or unresponsive to local needs and aspirations.

That is why structure plans, local plans and unitary development plans will be replaced by the single, new local development framework.

I know that a number of you in the Counties have expressed concerns about our proposals to abolish Structure Plans.

Let me make clear that there is no hidden agenda to abolish counties.

My concern is simply and solely with the inherent inefficiencies and barriers created by an over-bureaucratic system. There are simply too many tiers of planning and one has to go.

Increasingly Structure Plans fail to add value. Strategic issues are best settled at the regional level.

More detailed planning, on the other hand, is best undertaken at a local level where the local community can most effectively be involved.

We therefore propose that in County areas there should be the same, more straightforward, two tier system of regional and district planning as already exists for the 40% of the population that lives in unitary areas.

The Green Paper envisages that county planners will still retain minerals and waste responsibilities.

And there may be a role for them in continuing to support regional and, where appropriate, sub-regional planning as well as local development planning.

I have specifically asked in the Green Paper about what the county role should be and I invite your comments on this.

In addition to tackling the number of layers, we also need to simplify the relationship between the three levels of the system – national, regional and local.

The local development framework will be updated regularly to ensure it fits in with regional and national policy, which turn needs to be clearer, more focussed, and more accessible.

We are starting on the process of recasting guidance and will introduce a series of planning policy statements that will gradually replace the current PPGs.

Our intention is to be much more rigorous about separating out policy – things planning must deliver – from guidance about how to do it.

So, simplification and accessibility is the first principle.

The second way in which we can empower local authorities is to involve fully the people who use and are affected by planning decisions.

This includes both the business and local residential communities.

At the moment, the planning system disenfranchises rather than engages. Excludes rather than embraces.

The very people most affected by planning decisions often don’t understand how and why decisions are taken. Planning is seen as at best obscure and at worst a fundamental threat to quality of life.

What we are enduring is the bitter fruit of an adversarial system.

I want to create a new system whereby there can be real participation by the community – participation not consultation – especially in detailed planning for action areas.

There are already many example of planners taking community involvement seriously and engaging people in planning the future of their communities.

But there is tremendous scope for local authorities to use more modern and interesting ways to contact residents about planning issues, such as through the internet, or local radio, local TV – all means of reaching people and engaging them. Redcar and Cleveland, for example, has already used virtual reality to demonstrate choices for local development.

Under our new approach, local communities will be involved in the preparation of action plans for their neighbourhoods. They will help shape the vision, the objectives and the strategy.

With regard to development control, we will encourage pre-application discussions between developers and communities.

And we have proposed that, in the case of major developments, the effectiveness of community involvement could be a material consideration to be taken into account in determining a planning application.

Our vision is that local authorities will be empowered to provide a simpler system in which more people are able, and want, to get involved.

Simplicity and community involvement by necessity go together.

But this will mean little unless we focus on outcomes and the planning system delivers real improvements on the ground.

The first main issue of delivery is to create more sustainable communities.

We want our towns and cities to be attractive places in which people actively choose to live and work. We want to turn around the poverty which blights so many urban and rural areas. We want to safeguard our countryside and environment from inappropriate development and make the most efficient and appropriate use of land.

Planning must be a bridge to economic development not a barrier. The Green Paper puts these principles into practice.

For example, some types of business the need for planning consent will be completely removed. Our new business planning zones will allow high tech companies to bring forward high quality development, within defined parameters.

We have also published a consultation document on compulsory purchase which we hope will help remove a further barrier to regeneration.

The second aspect to delivery of outcomes is to ensure that planning connects with other local government functions.

In particular, local authorities must seize the opportunity of aligning their Community Strategies, regeneration or conservation strategies with their planning framework.

I very much hope that you will see planning as a valuable and powerful tool to making the aspirations set out in Community Strategies turn into action on the ground.

And the third aspect of delivery is to create a better quality of service to applicants.

The current target that 80 per cent of applications should be processed in eight weeks means that more complex – usually business – applications sometimes find themselves at the bottom of the pile as councils strain to meet the 80 per cent target.

It cannot be right, for example, that plans for the multi-million pound transformation of a city centre should take their place in a queue behind applications for domestic conservatories and dormer windows.

Our new targets – for example, sixty per cent of all major commercial applications in 13 weeks – seem longer. In fact, we believe they will speed up the system and will reinforce a sense of strategic direction in development control.

And lastly, delivery cannot pause for a break. We need to continue the momentum of change in order to deliver the improvements which are urgently needed.

Some of you may by now have seen an open letter that I sent to Cllr Keith House.

In that I have made the point that it is not acceptable for local authorities to down tools as far as updating current plans is concerned and to wait for the new regime to be introduced.

We have – obviously – to maintain a working planning system and seek to improve its delivery while we seek the legislative opportunity to change the system.

But I think we can take a constructive approach that takes full advantage of an interim position.

For example, there is no current provision that prevents an area based approach to the updating and review of plans.

There is already scope for supplementary planning guidance to be produced for action areas or areas of conservation.

There is already scope for counties to plan jointly with other authorities if they feel that cross-boundary working on sub-regional issues would be useful.

The Planning Green Paper outlines how we can move ahead to a fairer, faster and more transparent planning system, but local government can seize the opportunity to embrace change now.

The consultation period on this green paper ends in March so it’s vital you have your say before then.

In the meantime, I look forward to local government playing a key role in a reinvigorated planning system.

Good planning can make a major difference to the success of our economy, our communities and our environment. This country needs a faster, fairer and more foreseeable planning system and with your help we intend to deliver.

Chuka Umunna – 2013 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Chuka Umunna, the Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, to the 2013 Labour Party conference in Brighton.

Conference, as I’ve travelled round the country, visiting our town centres, talking to our local businesses, I’ve seen what you and I know to be true: many people – too many – are losing faith in politics.

Perhaps it is not surprising: costs are rising, wages are falling, yet the Government doesn’t seem to care.

And it couldn’t come at a worse time.

Our world has never before experienced so much unpredictable change:

Population shifts;

Climate change;

Huge advances in technology;

Growing competition from emerging economies;

Leading to increased insecurity at work.

These are big issues and big economic forces.

And they are already having a massive effect.

For every single one of us, they are going to completely transform what our life looks like every day.

It’s why we need politics. A politics back in touch with working families.

Because as people;

As businesses;

As an economy – and as one country – we’ve got a decision to make.

Will we just allow the future to happen?

Let these forces run riot, and let opportunities vanish?

Or will we stand together as one United Kingdom – including Scotland – to shape these forces of change, to build the future we want for our children, our families, our communities?

We joined this party because we believe that together we can shape the future. We can empower people to meet their aspirations and dreams:

Thriving businesses providing decent jobs;

A more secure life for people and their families;

Shared opportunities and shared prosperity.

If we want that future then we – this Labour Party – have got to win in 2015.

Because we know it matters who is in government.

Because we know what is happening right now: a government led by David Cameron that brings discord where there was harmony;

Doubt where there was faith;

And above all despair where once there was hope.

And we’ve got less than twenty months to show it’s only us – this Labour Party – that can deliver a better future.

We’ve done it before, and we will do it again.

Think of what we inherited in ‘97:

Overflowing classrooms;

University for the lucky few;

Mass youth unemployment;

Few apprenticeships to speak of;

Some people earning as little as £1 an hour;

Little support for entrepreneurs or local economies.

A legacy left by a Tory Government that taught David Cameron and George Osborne everything they know.

That was why I joined our Party in 1997.

Because we had a better vision and we rose to the challenge of a changing world.

We set the country on a new and better track:

Millions of young people with a better education;

Record numbers going to university;

Apprenticeships quadrupled;

More than a million new businesses created;

The New Deal;

A first-ever national minimum wage.

That is our legacy and we are proud of it. And then came the global financial crash caused by irresponsible behaviour in the banking sector.

Jobs and incomes fell, causing tax receipts to plummet.

That’s what caused the deficit to increase not public investment in our schools and hospitals.

And because of the crash the world was suddenly a very different place.

Our response to the crash – what Alistair and Gordon did – stopped many repossessions and saved many, many jobs.

We are proud of that too. Of course we should have better regulated the banks.

But we learn from these things – we become better – and we adapt to the changing world around us.

And that’s the real problem with Cameron and Osborne.

It’s not because they’re Tory – I mean – it’s not ideal – but I can live with that.

The problem is that they are wrong.

The worst economic recovery in history;

University tuition fees trebled;

Young people starting an apprenticeship down.

Youth unemployment up.

Small businesses struggling.

Prices rising faster than incomes.

Due to their failed plan.

You see – they never learn: stuck with old methods which didn’t even work in the old world.

They’re certainly not working now.

Their ‘me, myself and I’ philosophy will let the global forces of change wreak havoc on our country and our communities.

They’re out of touch.

They have the wrong philosophy for the future.

They have the wrong policies for the future.

And we know growth for the few at the expense of the many is no growth at all.

With their approach any old job at any low wage will do.

But that doesn’t do enough to improve people’s lives.

It means many are working harder than ever for less money.

Being sucked into a downwards spiral of job insecurity, zero-hour contracts, payday loans.

A life of worry and stress.

Ed Miliband wants better.

The Labour Party wants better.

The country deserves better.

Our belief is that through progressive politics, cooperation;

Through people, trade unions, companies and countries working together we can harness these global forces to work for everyone.

Here are just three things a Miliband Government will do:

First – we must invest in the skills and industries of the future.

Let’s never forget: a high-skill workforce is a secure workforce.

We can’t compete with China and India on pay. It’s bad economics and it’s bad social policy.

But we can compete on quality if we have the right skills.

That means we maintain our world class universities: important drivers of innovation, but – as Ed said last year – we must improve vocational skills too.

We will increase apprenticeship numbers but not – as this Government has done – at the expense of quality.

So we will change the system so all apprenticeships are Level three qualifications and last a minimum of two years as our Skills Taskforce recommends.

Quality apprenticeships for quality jobs.

Second we will take action to promote good and sustainable businesses that value their people and invest for the long term.

I believe society and business depend on each other – we rise and fall together.

And that’s why Ed Balls and I asked Mike Wright of Jaguar Land Rover – a real British success story – to lead a review of manufacturing supply chains in the UK.

Society working with business for the common good.

In that spirit we want people to value their work and we want companies to value their people.

That’s why we will act to outlaw zero hours contracts where they exploit people.

And it’s why if this government won’t launch a full inquiry into the disgraceful blacklisting in the construction industry, we will.

Third, we believe in a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work – that’s why we introduced the minimum wage.

But there have been too many who think that paying the minimum is a choice not a responsibility.

So – we will toughen the regime.

If you don’t pay you’ll pay for it.

We will increase the fine.

We will give Local Authorities the power, alongside HMRC, to enforce the law.

Bad business practices have no business in a One Nation economy.

And of course we will go beyond the National Minimum Wage – towards a real living wage.

Three principles: good skills; good business, and good jobs.

The Labour Party’s values in action;

Optimistic about what we can achieve together.

Ambitious for the future.

Before I finish, let me say this: friends have no doubt, over the next twenty months we are facing a Tory party that will launch the most personal, negative, aggressive campaign we have seen in a generation.

We know we have to win in 2015.

But we won’t win by descending to their level.

That’s not how we do things in Ed Miliband’s Labour Party.

We will beat them with hope and optimism for what our country can be.

Because we know politics is important.

Because we have a better vision for our future.

So from now until 2015 we will work every month, every week and every day to give people all over the country:

The faith in politics;

The faith in the Labour Party;

The faith in this country;

To make the right decision for our future: a One Nation Labour government.

Thank you.

Chuka Umunna – 2012 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Chuka Umunna, the Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, to the 2012 Labour Party conference.

Conference, my late father arrived in this country in the mid-1960s from Nigeria. It was the Labour Party that insisted he – and others like him – should be able to pursue their aspirations and dreams free from prejudice.

My mother, who comes from an altogether different background, benefited from the right to equal pay at work after she graduated in the 1970s, again, thanks to this Labour Party.

You see, this party has given me, my family – all of our families – so much. That is why we all join the Labour Party – to put something back.

And I never forget that those who founded our party in every sense of these words: built Britain.

They built the mills, the factories, the railways and the roads.

They built our hospitals, our homes and our schools.

They made our success as a country possible.

That is why we – Labour – have always insisted that those who put in the hard work should be able to share in the fruits of our success.

It is why we – Labour – have always insisted people should have the right to fair and decent treatment at work.

Fair opportunity, shared responsibility, wealth creation for the good of all – it’s in our DNA.

So, more than a million new businesses created during our 13 years in government.

And when we left office:

–    rated 4th in the world for ease of doing business;

–    the lowest barriers to entrepreneurship in the OECD.

That is a record to be proud of.

And I follow in the footsteps of John Denham – big shoes to fill. Thank you, John, for all the advice and support you have given me.

I want to pay tribute too to our fantastic Shadow Business team for all their hard work:

–    listening to business up and down the country;

–    setting the agenda;

–    exposing the failings of the Tory-led Government.

When this Government took over in May 2010, they embarked on an irresponsible experiment with people’s livelihoods.

If you took a risk, set up your own business, they pulled the rug from under you, with confidence nose-diving as a result of their spending review.

Fifty businesses a day are going bust under this government – dreams crushed, boarded up.

And because it is our businesses which create jobs, it is little wonder that as firms have gone under unemployment has soared beyond 2.5 million people.

In my constituency, long term youth unemployment has more than tripled in the last year.

That is the price of their failed experiment.

And let us be clear: David Cameron, Nick Clegg, George Osborne, and Vince Cable.

You are all in this together.

Co-authors of a failed economic plan. The longest double dip recession since the War.

It is not like they have not been warned by Ed Balls and Rachel Reeves.

But they refuse to listen.

Directionless and divided, we have seen chaos heaped upon confusion.

Delays in delivery summed up by their flagship Regional Growth Fund.

The uncertainty they have caused is holding back investment – from defence to renewables, higher education to energy.

Our business leaders and our trade unions are united in telling them we need a proper plan for growth. But out-of-touch Ministers rubbish them and accuse them of being whingers.

It’s the same old Tories playing the same old tunes:

–    they insult the British people by claiming the economy is being held back by your rights at work;

–    they say working people are lazy;

–    business leaders aren’t doing enough;

–    and those just doing their jobs are plebs.

Everyone is to blame but them.

And, as ever, what is their great solution? A large dose of rampant free market liberalism – deregulate everything, stand aside, and let the market rip.

But if we learned anything from the 2008/09 crash, it is that that approach is wrong.

It won’t solve the problems in our economy, and it won’t address the challenges we face.

Under successive governments growth became concentrated in too few sectors, and in too few regions.

Though productivity rapidly rose during our period in office, rewards were not evenly spread.

And under Labour, strong growth meant employment reached record levels. But still too many people remained distant from the job market, or in insecure employment.

We are determined to learn from this.

Meanwhile, technology is transforming our world and opening up new markets to our businesses.

The rise of those new markets around the world is increasing competition, but it is creating new opportunities on a breathtaking scale too.

We have got to respond to the new landscape and ensure that everyone benefits.

Yes, markets have been the greatest engines of innovation and prosperity the world has ever known.

But we know that, left to their own devices, markets cannot meet these challenges. But nor can governments.

This Government seeks to divide our society – public from private, trade union member from non trade union member, the many from the few.

But here’s the thing. Everyone has a contribution to make to the next chapter of our national story:

–    active government;

–    businesses and entrepreneurs;

–    our trade unions;

–    assertive consumers;

–    our universities and our colleges;

–    our cities, towns and our regions.

All working together in partnership to create wealth and build a better future.

That is why we have been arguing for an active industrial strategy – it is at the heart of the more responsible capitalism Ed Miliband talks about.

We need it to fashion a new economy:

–    An economy competing on quality, creating good jobs – not an insecure economy, competing mostly on low wages;

–    An economy that rewards those that work hard and create sustainable value – not those just out to make a fast buck;

–    An economy offering the opportunities and training not just for young people who want to work in banking, media or law, but also prestigious vocational routes for those eager to become engineers, digital programmers, or advanced manufacturers.

Conference, once more, we must rebuild Britain:

–    Backing British business with a modern industrial strategy, as governments all around the world back their own;

–    Buying from British business, as governments across Europe and around the world buy from their own;

–    Investing in business with a proper British Investment Bank, like every other country in the G8.

This will mean being willing to challenge the way that government itself works with business.

That is why I have asked Lord Adonis to lead a team of business leaders and former Ministers to produce a blueprint to transform the Business Department into the most effective department for enterprise in the world.

Conference, week in week out, I meet businesses and listen to their concerns.

They don’t tell me they want us to step aside.

They tell me they want us to step up, to help them grow and prosper.

We are the only party in this country able to do this because each of us believes that we stand and fall together.

We believe that by the strength of our common endeavour – with our families, our communities, our businesses and our trade unions – we achieve more together than we achieve alone.

That is what our Party is about.

That is what we do.

By continuing to win back the support of the British people, in line with this Party’s great traditions, we will rebuild Britain once more.

Thank you.

Chuka Umunna – 2012 Speech to UCATT Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Chuka Umunna to the UCATT Conference in Scarborough, Yorkshire, on 28th May 2012.

Conference, thank you so very much for inviting me here to speak to you today.

Before I begin my remarks, let me say thank you to each and every one of you for the support this union gave me in the lead up to the 2010 General Election – I would not be standing here as a Member of Parliament, let alone the Shadow Business Secretary, without yours and others’ help.

I pay tribute to the stewardship of your acting General Secretary, George Guy, and now your General Secretary, Steve Murphy, for guiding UCATT towards a bright future. And I must also pay a huge tribute to the contribution made over many years by your President, John Thompson.

And let me also say how proud I am to be able to say that this Union is headquartered in the centre of the universe which is my constituency.

For this is a union whose forebears, dating back to the British Industrial Revolution, in every sense of these words, built Britain.

They built the mills and the factories, the canals and the railways, the highways and the byways.

They built the houses the British people have lived in and much more besides.

And, given the hazards of the trade, let us not forget the thousands of construction workers who lost their lives in so doing. Construction today might be safer than before, but it is still one of the most dangerous occupations.

Carrying on your proud tradition, and in spite of the dangers, members of this union continue to build the homes we live in, the offices and plants we work in, the infrastructure we need, and the public spaces we share.

I was at the Olympic Park just last week, and what an incredible achievement that is. It is a true testament to our construction workers: built on time, built on budget, and without a single death. Or look at the example of Terminal 5 at Heathrow: built on time, built on budget, and safely with a directly employed workforce. Client, contractor and trade union working productively together in the interests of us all.

You provide the physical foundations upon which our growth, our prosperity, our success, is built. As a country, as a society, as a people – we owe a debt of gratitude to you.

So make no mistake: I wear my association with this union as a badge of honour.

And let me be clear: in our Party – from our Leader, Ed Miliband, to our local Labour Party members here in Scarborough – we all wear our links to the trade union movement with pride. We may not always agree. But we are all part of the same family.

My late father arrived in this country after a very long journey on a boat from Nigeria in the mid 1960s. He was terribly sea sick for most of it, and afraid because he couldn’t swim. So he was glad when he finally made it in one piece to Liverpool Docks. He came to make his way in the world, get on, find his fortune. But, like every other black person living in the Britain of the 1960s, he faced discrimination.

As a self made man and entrepreneur it surprises people when I say Harold Wilson was his hero. I am not surprised at all. It was the trade union movement, with a Labour Party in Government and a Labour Prime Minister, that led the charge for the equalities legislation which was enacted in the 60s and 70s. It was you who insisted employers be legally obliged to afford my father the same treatment as others.

Of course, he wasn’t the only one who benefitted. My Mum, my sister and my aunties – all the female members of all our families: they benefitted too from the right to equal pay, maternity rights and the other social reforms we, working together, introduced over the years.

So we have all seen what a Labour Party – working with and as part of a wider labour movement – can do for the hard working majority in this country.

Our duty as a movement – in the interests of all, to build that better Britain – is immensely important. To protect hard working people, the mainstream majority. It goes to the very essence of what we are all about.

You understand that more than most, in the risks you take doing your jobs. Hundreds of people have died on site over the last decade, thousands have been injured or developed work-related health problems, so UCATT’s voice is vital in making construction sites safer and better.

The overwhelming majority of businesses understand the importance of health and safety. I visited the Siemens’ factory in Newcastle the other week that builds huge wind turbines. They left me in no doubt how seriously they take their responsibilities. Regrettably others do not. You see, it is easy for the Tories and people on the right condemn health and safety regulations. But it is not their lives at risk.

This duty to protect extends far beyond health and safety. We are seeing a sustained attack on the rights of people at work from this Government.

They have already made it harder to claim unfair dismissal. They are now considering giving small firms the right to fire you at will. Or – as their consultation document puts it – to dismiss “where no fault was identified on the part of the employee”.

Firing at will is one of the recommendations of the dreadful report on employment law commissioned by the Prime Minister from millionaire Tory donor, Adrian Beecroft. This is a shocking proposal. But it is not the only extreme proposal in his report.

You may remember the tragic deaths of 23 Chinese cockle pickers in Morecambe Bay in 2004. The following year Labour set up the Gang Masters Licensing Authority to prevent the exploitation of workers in the agriculture and shellfish gathering industries. The Authority does incredibly important work – indeed we want to see its scope extended to the construction industry. We were right to set it up. Adrian Beecroft proposes its abolition. He is wrong.

And there is more. In 1994, two Black hotel waitresses were made to serve drinks during a performance by the notorious comedian, Bernard Manning. They were subjected to racially and sexually abusive remarks by Manning and took their employers to a tribunal. They won. No one should have to put up with this kind of abuse at work. Labour legislated to put this protection on a firm footing, and to cover all grounds of unlawful discrimination. Adrian Beecroft says the Government should repeal this law. Again, he is wrong.

I have a question for the Prime Minister: given all this, how on earth can you call the Beecroft document, “a good report” as he did last Wednesday? Ed Miliband was right: we are seeing the true colours of the “nasty party” once more.

Cameron responded by seeking to frame this as a union issue. It just shows how out of touch he and his Government have become. The proposal to fire people at will would affect over 3.5 million employees working in the private sector, the vast majority of whom are not members of a union. If you have millions of pounds in the bank – like those who can afford to have dinner with the Prime Minister – it is unlikely to trouble you.

But this is not an issue of left versus right. It is an issue of right versus wrong. Calling the Beecroft Report “a good report” is wrong.

Sadly, the Prime Minister’s rhetoric does not surprise me. At a time of national crisis, when he could be drawing us together, he has sought to divide and rule. We saw it over the dispute on public sector pensions last year. We saw it during the fuel tanker drivers dispute this year. We saw it at Prime Minster’s Questions last week. Ministers seeking to divide public from private, trade union member from non trade union member – sowing the seeds of division instead of building consensus.

Yet here’s the thing: it is interesting, that when Cabinet Minister Francis Maude was fanning the flames of discord and compromising public safety with his talk of jerry-cans in the garage, it was an ex- fireman and former member of the Fire Brigades Union, Mike Penning, the Transport Minister, who they wheeled out to try and calm the panic they had created.

Their backbenchers are even worse. Government backbenchers sought to mount a direct attack on this and other trade unions, targeting the day-to-day support trade union reps give to staff at work. Labour MPs roundly defeated the Bill and saw off this attack. To his credit, so did one Conservative MP, Robert Halfon.

Robert wrote a pamphlet in March entitled “Stop the Union Bashing”. Much as it pains me, Robert points out in his pamphlet that almost a third of trade union members in this country are thought to be Conservative voters. It is they who the Tories are attacking. The Prime Minister, his Ministers and his backbenchers attacks on you are not only wrong. It is bad politics too.

It is important to protect hard won gains, and it is right to protest against a government attacking the rights of working people. But we must be clear why, in addition to this, people also join trade unions: to get on, to achieve, to provide. The voice of protest is important, especially with this Government at this time. But the voice of progress must be heard as loudly too.

Our trade unions are powerful forces behind our economic success. Each and every one of you – directly and indirectly – are wealth creators for this country. So we have got to get this message through better, to change public perceptions of our movement. It is hard in the face of a hostile media. But try we must.

We must be shouting your success from the rooftops in helping business to succeed, in helping people to get on, to meet their aspirations. Like GM’s recent announcement that it will build a new generation of Astra cars at Ellesmere Port – I went on television to say this was a shining example of trade unions as a force for economic progress for our country, working in partnership with management and the government. Just like the Olympics. Just like Terminal 5.

As we try to forge a different path for Britain’s future – that is better for business and better for working people – we need you to be part of shaping that vision: through your actions, and the good you represent, writing UCATT – and the wider union movement – into the next pages of our national story. That is our ambition, and I want it to be yours.

A trade union of wealth creators; a movement that has and will continue to speak for the hardworking majority in Britain.

Of course, attacking working people distracts from the real reasons why wealth creation has proved so difficult this last two years: the economic incompetence of this Government.

We said if they cut too far and too fast, in blind pursuit of austerity for ideological reasons, they would choke off the recovery.

They were fond of referring to “Labour’s mess” but the facts tell a different story. Following the global financial crash of 2008/9 we took action to prevent a recession becoming a depression. In so doing, the country incurred debts which had to be dealt with. Alistair Darling set us on a course to halve the deficit in 4 years at a speed and pace that the economy could cope with, allowing it to grow.

When we left office in May 2010 the economy was growing, unemployment was falling and the recovery was settling in. Because of growth, the deficit was falling, with borrowing £20 billion lower than forecast in the last year of government.

George Osborne’s Comprehensive Spending Review – based on an ideological fixation with hacking chunks from the public sector and strongly supported by Vince Cable and the Liberal Democrats – precipitated a huge dive in business and consumer confidence.

Slower growth and higher unemployment means that the Government is borrowing £150 billion more than planned to pay for its economic failure. The wrong choices by this Government today – of tax cuts for millionaires and austerity for the rest – are prolonging the pain of a stalled economy, and focusing the burden on those least able to bear it.

Your sector, construction, could be leading the recovery. Instead it is being held back by the lack of demand in the economy and a lack of confidence in the future. Last week we saw that our economy had shrunk by 0.3 per cent in the first 3 months of this year, not 0.2 per cent as previously thought. And the figures showed that your sector – construction – had shrunk by 4.8 per cent on the previous quarter. Plan A has taken our economy back into recession – a recession made in Downing Street.

It is time for Plan B: Labour’s five point plan for jobs and growth. By bringing forward infrastructure investment, such as school buildings, by building 25,000 more affordable homes, cutting VAT on home improvements, by giving a national insurance break to small firms taking on new workers, it would revive the construction industry and get the economy moving again. Through growth as well as fiscal discipline it would bring the nation’s finances back into balance.

With this Government’s incompetence there are big reasons to worry today. But there are also reasons for hope about tomorrow. I am optimistic about our national future. I look at the rise of the fast emerging Southern and Eastern economies and I know we will have to raise our game to compete. But I also know we can.

And I see huge opportunities too. Within the next two decades, the size of the global middle class will almost triple in size to 5 billion people. That’s a whole lot of new demand we can be meeting if we start to prepare our economy now. We need to be clear about where we can compete. We need to develop our people and the other things we need to succeed. And we need to ensure that everyone can be a part of this success. It is what Ed Miliband has talked about: the need for a more responsible and productive capitalism, that is investing for the long term not the fast buck; that is competing on high value not low cost; that views people as assets to be nurtured, not costs to be cut.

Business has responsibilities, but government does too. It is wrong that this Government is prepared to stand by while rogue businesses exploit loopholes in the law to evade justice when their malpractice leads to deaths at work. My parliamentary colleague and proud UCATT member Luciana Berger introduced a Bill to Parliament earlier this year to stop this. When workers are injured or killed at work, employers must be held accountable. They should not be able to get out of an investigation by claiming bankruptcy. The Bill would have stopped this but it didn’t pass. So I give this commitment today: the next Labour Government will act to prevent this abuse. It puts the lives of workers at risk. It is irresponsible. It is wrong. We will stop it.

Let me conclude by saying this: we need to get growth going today, and reform our economy so that it works for all. That must be our priority.

Our economic destinies are all intertwined – so we all have a role to play in shaping our national future.

Our movement is nothing if not confident and ambitious for what we can all achieve working together.

So I look forward to working closely with this union – with its wonderful history with a great future ahead of it – to build Britain once more.

Thank you.

Chuka Umunna – 2012 Speech to Hub Westminster

Below is the text of the speech made by Chuka Umunna, the Shadow Business Secretary, to Hub Westminster on 26th June 2012.

Thank you for that introduction, and thank you for inviting me to speak this evening.

I cannot think of a better group of people to discuss this with than all of you gathered here today: restless people, not satisfied with the world as it is; innovators determined to find new gaps in old markets and to create ideas for new markets.

Our economy and society needs more people like you. More people starting up businesses, building businesses, and – hopefully – succeeding in business. You are engines of growth for an economy that has stalled but a country which has huge potential.

What I intend to do is to first reflect on entrepreneurship, then consider how it can power social mobility, before setting out our ongoing work to help entrepreneurs to set up and grow businesses. What I do not cover in my remarks, I am mo re than happy to pick up on in the Q&A afterwards.

Now, before coming here, some of you may have wondered what on earth is this grandson of a High Court Judge, a private school educated, former City lawyer doing coming here to talk to you about social mobility and entrepreneurship? Well, the legal tradition in my family sits on my mother’s side and I am incredibly proud of it. But it is my late father, a self made man, who makes me so passionate about the transformative power of entrepreneurship.

My father arrived here after a very long journey on a boat from Nigeria in the mid 1960s. When he arrived at Liverpool Docks he had a suitcase and no money. A random stranger lent him the cash to pay for his train fare to London where he was due to take up lodgings with friends.

Once settled in London, he did various jobs. He washed plates in kitchens and he washed limousine cars too. Washing cars was handy because, once he had finished each job, he could sit and study in the warmth and luxury of the limo until its owner arrived to pick it up. He was studying to acquire his business and accountancy qualifications at the time.

Within 15 years he worked his way up from arriving with nothing to running a very successful import and export business doing trade between Europe and West Africa, selling all manner of goods until his death. Sadly, he passed away when I was quite young so I never got to hear the full story from him. But his example continues to inspire me.

My father’s story was particular to him. But in many ways his was an archetypal story common to many immigrant families the length and breadth of Britain. Let us not forget: the Britain of the 1960s – despite the free love, the hippies and the rest – was not the tolerant Britain we live in today. His generation created – through commerce – opportunities that no one else would offer them.

So my family’s story informs my outlook; so too does my London constituency which takes in Streatham and parts of Balham, Brixton, Clapham and Tulse Hill. There I see a vibrant culture of business that must be supported. But it was something more serious that really got me thinking.

I am Chair of the London Gangs Forum which works to reduce gang activity across London. Gang culture has taken hold of a substantial minority of our young people in London. My borough, Lambeth, is one of the most acutely affected areas.

Gangs have been responsible for numerous killings with innocent bystanders being seriously injured in the cross fire between rival groups. The most shocking incident of late was the shooting of 5 year old Thusha Kamaleswaran in her family’s newsagent in Stockwell last year.

Make no mistake: at the heart of these gangs activities are criminality and very serious violence. Each of them lays claim to certain ‘territories’ in Lambeth – in particular in and around our social housing estates. As a community we send a clear message: what the gangs do is completely unacceptable, we will root it out and ensure the strong arm of the law is brought down to bear on the perpetrators. That is exactly what happened with those found responsible for the shooting of Thusha – members of a notorious local gang, who were jailed for life in March.

But if one studies what Lambeth’s gangs do in more detail, it is both shocking and frustrating. They put a lot of effort into building up their gang’s brand. Most are involved with the sale of drugs; but some have branched out into more legitimate activities around fashion and music. You can find music videos they produce to promote their activities on YouTube. BBC Radio 4’s Today programme did a series of reports on this a couple of weeks ago featuring Lambeth’s gangs.

This brand building is alarming because it helps the gangs to be more notorious and glamorises what they do – it is one of the reasons myself and other Labour parliamentary colleagues, Heidi Alexander and Karen Buck in particular, have argued that stronger powers are needed to ensure the gangs’ YouTube videos are taken down.

What frustrates me is this: many of these young people are using skills that – if channelled in the right way – could provide them with an alternative route to success. And yet, in Lambeth, too much of this entrepreneurial instinct is being channelled into totally the wrong thing. Just imagine what our young gang members could achieve if their energies were redirected. Their entrepreneurial zeal, used in a legitimate business setting, could provide them with a ladder up, just as it did for my father. Instead, as things stand, many of them will likely end up in jail with blood on their hands unless we change things.

I spent an evening talking to young people in a youth club in my constituency about this speech last week. A large number of the young people attending that particular club are affiliated to and/or are involved in the gangs which operate in my area. We talked about why young people were choosing to do the wrong kind of business through gangs. One young constituent said simply that illegitimate business was “an easier and faster way to make money”, to “get rich quick”.

When I dug behind this rather glib explanation, my young constituents explained that pursuing gang related business was viewed as a strategy for getting out and getting on. Gang members “have goals”, said one young man, “they do bad to do good”. What he meant was that gang members sought to make money first through illegitimate means, with a view to building up enough finance to run a legitimate business later. The other young people present shared his analysis.

I am sure that many in this room have struggled to access finance to start and grow their business, and will have considered peer to peer lending or maybe finding an angel investor for it. Well, among this group in my constituency there was a perception that profits from illegal commerce were the most viable solution for them.

Of course the reasons why young people get involved in gangs are complex and varied. But what is clear is that the entrepreneurial spirit is strong in them, albeit misdirected. We must make legitimate business a more feasible avenue through which they can realise their dreams even when all else may have failed them.

Reflecting on my father’s experience and the entrepreneurial impulse of our young peo ple, I am convinced that Labour must view entrepreneurship as central to our approach to increasing social mobility.

Social mobility is of course very much in keeping with what Labour is all about. We exist as a movement and as a political party to help more people succeed in life – or, as we put it in our constitution, to secure “the means for each of us to realise our true potential”. Like all the best entrepreneurs, ours is an ambitious mission: putting power, wealth and opportunity in the hands of the many. And, yes, this can sometimes be threatening to the established market players – those who have the power and wealth, and want to hoard it. So be it.

At root it is about helping people to get on in life regardless of where they are from, able to pursue the life they choose and value. It is about making a person’s destiny less dependent on the circumstances of their birth.

Some people view social mobility as a relative concept, meaning that for every person moving up the ladder there must be an equal and opposite reaction of others moving down. But extending opportunity need not be a zero sum game. Removing the ceiling on success that too many experience is to the collective benefit of us all.

And in an interdependent world individual success can strengthen our common bonds, just as strong common bonds can enrich the soil from which individual success grows. Hillary Clinton is fond of quoting the Nigerian proverb which says it takes a whole village to raise a child. I say it takes a similarly strong culture to raise an entrepreneur. Just ask those who have spent time in Silicon Valley about the strong culture there – of hope, possibility and forgiveness, where failure is seen as part of the learning process.

In government, Labour did a lot to fracture the link between a person’s history and their destiny: from Sure Start and unprecedented investment in early years education, to improvements in educational attainment across the board; from the educational maintenance allowance, to the expansion of higher education. These are things we can be proud of.

We narrowed the gap in attainment between pupils from more and less advantaged backgrounds – for example, the percentage of those on free school meals gaining five grade A*-C GCSEs rose faster than for those not on free school meals. And there is some evidence that we had begun to weaken the link between family background and educational attainment: research from the University of Bristol suggests family background had less influence on GCSE results for those taking them in 2006, compared to those taking O-levels in 1986. But, despite this, the link remains strong and it is clear there is a long way to go.

However, it seems unlikely that this progress will be sustained if this Government – which has already cut the educational maintenance allowance – also follows through on its plans to return us to a two-tier education system where kids are divided into winners and losers at age 14.

And even where it appears that progress has been made, it takes a long time to quantify. A key indicator for measuring social mobility is earnings. I’m told that the erratic earnings of you entrepreneurs makes it much more tricky to keep track of your earnings than those in employment, meaning you are often excluded from the data. But that’s for another day. Whether a wage earner or an entrepreneur, there is a long time lag until these data are available. For example, the very first kids who benefitted from Sure Start are still only just teenagers today but the benefits they will derive will be long lasting if the US Head Start programme is used as a guide.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility recently set out its excellent “7 key truths about social mobility”. They highlighted the critical importance of early years in developing learning skills and laying the foundations for per sonal resilience and future emotional wellbeing; the impact of high quality teaching and out-of-school programmes; how these feed through into university admissions, the main determinant of later opportunities; as well as pointing out that while early pathways are often highly predictive, they are not determinative, something that policy makers should not forget.

So I do not want to decry the investment in the early years, or to undermine the focus on educational attainment, access to universities, and access to the professions – the last point particularly brought to public attention through the excellent and persuasive work of Alan Milburn more recently. All this remains incredibly important. They are issues I am passionate about and, in the case of universities, form a major part of my brief as Shadow Secretary of State.

But – as Ed Miliband recently pointed out – social mobility shouldn’t just be about changing the odds of people making it to university, as if only one kind of pathway to success matters. We have to improve opportunities for everyone, including those who don’t make it to university. That means ensuring vocational education is seen as just as much of a gold standard as academic education – and that there are good opportunities to switch between the two.

What I wanted to do today, by highlighting the role of enterprise, is to ensure we place the role of entrepreneurship and business policy at the heart of this debate. Increasing social mobility cannot just be a matter for education, at whatever age. It must be a whole government activity. We must harness the power of business to change lives, releasing the entrepreneurial spirit wherever it resides, to open up new routes through which people can shape their own destinies just as my father did.

Entrepreneurship has a key role to play here because running your own business, research suggests, can sometimes offer a better route for weakening the link between where you come from and where you end up, than being in paid employment.

I have been particularly taken with the work of Ingrid Schoon and Kathryn Duckworth at the Institute of Education in this respect. They compared levels of social mobility between those who are employed and those who are self-employed. Their findings suggest that self-employment offers a more likely route to social mobility than paid employment – so one has a better chance of getting on by going into business.

And entrepreneurial success is at the core of Labour’s vision for the dynamic, future economy we need, and at the core of our vision for the dynamic, fair, opportunity s ociety we want to see.

It is central to the better and more productive capitalism Ed Miliband and I have been arguing for – innovative businesses, focused on long-term value creation not short term profit extraction.

It is a vision rooted in our history. We have always stood for increasing autonomy in life and dignity in work as the world of work has evolved and changed. So what are we doing in this area?

We set up our Small Business Taskforce early last year, now led by Bill Thomas, to advise on what we should be advocating to help people start up and grow businesses. Before coming here I tweeted a link on twitter to the Taskforce’s interim report – produced by the late, great entrepreneur Nigel Doughty – for those who have yet to read it. Its next report will be published later this year.

We set up NG:Next Generation, our vibrant entrepreneurs’ network, towards the end of last year to ensure our party is connected into the entrepreneur community and to provide a vehicle through which entrepreneurs can connect with each other. The network’s next event takes place here this evening just as soon as the Q&A session is done.

Labour’s shadow education team, led by my good friend Stephen Twigg – with whom my team is working closely – is looking at the role schools can play in fostering the next generation of entrepreneurs. It is why, for example, we are supporting the campaign by the CBI and others that speaking, presentation and communications skills should be a priority in all state schools following the excellent example of Paddington Academy, as they are in many private schools.

And I am pleased to say that, before being elected, every member of our shadow business team in the House of Commons had either set up and run their own business, or – like myself – professionally advised many entrepreneurs who have done so. So when our manifesto comes, I can confidently say it will be informed by practical experience, as well as our beliefs and values.

In closing, I want to quickly say something about the business environment.

These are difficult times for business. Our economy is in a recession of the Government’s own making. The outlook is uncertain. The full impact of the troubles in the Eurozone have yet to feed through. All the while, the Government continues to fail to show the leadership needed at home, it has failed to show the leadership needed abroad, and it has failed to take the action necessary to guide our economy back to growth. In short, they risk creating a lost generation of businesses and business opportunities.

That said, I remain optimistic about our national future in the longer term. Looking around the world at the rise of the emerging economies I know we will have to raise our game to compete but I am determined that we will do it. There are, after all, huge opportunities out there.

In the US there is a national story in which the lone entrepreneur plays the lead role, pursuing the American dream. The evidence for this kind of story today may be weak, given that social mobility in the US is as low as anywhere. We all know that in an unequal society it is simply harder to move up the ladder. But there is no doubting the rhetorical strength of their national story, with its unashamed veneration of individual success.

To succeed in the future we must write the next chapter of our own national story – with aspiration at its heart, entrepreneurship as its state of mind, and community as its end. It must encourage your restlessness and inspire my young constituents. That way, together, we will create a better future for all in Britain.

Chuka Umunna – 2012 Speech to the High Pay Commission

Below is the text of the speech made by Chuka Umunna to the High Pay Commission and IPPR on 12th January 2012.

Thank you for that introduction Michael and to the ICAEW for hosting this event.

And thank you too to the High Pay Commission and the Institute of Public Policy Research for inviting me to speak.

All three organisations have made major contributions to informing and stimulating the national debate on this issue which has dominated the news agenda since the year started, the High Pay Commission in particular.

The headlines and clipped news reports do not do justice to this issue so today my aim is:

– to explain why excessive pay and rewards for failure matter from the point of view of our businesses, those who own them and society at large; and,

– to get to the heart of the problem and outline the solutions as we see them in Her Majesty’s Opposition.

The economy is the issue of this parliament not simply because of the lack of growth and the highest rate of unemployment for 17 years which people are experiencing in the here and now. But also because of the long term structural trends in an economy which has failed to deliver incomes to keep pace with rising living costs, a pattern repeated in other developed economies.

What do I mean by this? Not enough of the reward from rising productivity has found its way into the wage packets of average earners with the result that middle income earners have actually seen their wages stagnate from 2003, whilst high earners have seen their wages soar. Consequently many people have come to feel that, in the good times the economy did not really work for them, while in the bad times they were being made to carry much of the risk.

So it is time for some hard reflection on the nature and direction of our economy and the changes we need to make:

– changes to get growth going again in the short term, which is why we have put forward an immediate stimulus package in the form of our 5 point plan for growth and jobs;

– changes to ensure that future prosperity benefits everyone;

– changes to ensure we can pay our way in the world and take full advantage of the new opportunities that new markets bring – which is why we need to build a New Economy based on a reformed capitalism.

The FT have just started a series of articles under the title Capitalism in Crisis. I wouldn’t go as far as those dangerous lefties. Capitalism has been and remains a powerful engine of human progress. But in recent speeches and, again, over the weekend I argued that what we need is a New Economy based on a better, more responsible and more productive capitalism than our current national variety.

That New Economy must be built on a partnership between productive business and active government: the entrepreneurial impulse in us all encouraged and supported; closed circles broken up and opened to everyone. And, as Ed Miliband said in his speech on Tuesday, we must think how we build a New Economy that delivers fairness for Britain at a time when there is less money to spend.

In many ways, the issues around executive pay are a good place to start. Excessive pay and rewards for failure are symptomatic of what is wrong with the way our economy has been operating over the last 30 years – of how wealth is created, how opportunities are shared, how success is rewarded, and how power is exercised in our companies. It is something Ed Miliband has been talking about for many, many months now.

There are some who say it is no business of government – no business of politicians – to be commenting on these matters. We have no right to interfere in the affairs of privately owned companies is their refrain. I could not disagree more strongly with that statement.

At the heart of my politics is the belief that we are all mutually dependent. This notion is deeply embedded in the values of the Labour Party. Better together. Stronger together.

So to argue that politicians and society at large, should not take an interest in these matters, is to feed the idea that society is here and business is over in the corner there which is dangerous.

Why? Because business and society are not separate islands – they are mutually dependent. Business needs a strong society, providing it with human resource, talent and custom. A strong society needs everything that productive business can offer: the jobs, the growth, the innovation, the opportunities, the wealth creating potential. That is why we should take an interest in the pay issue.

And while it is right that those who work hard, generate wealth and create jobs for our country are rewarded, where failure is rewarded or people award themselves huge pay rises that bear no relation to performance or what their companies can bear, trust is severely undermined. As Ken Costa, the former Chair of Lazard International said last October:

“Put bluntly, ultimately businesses cannot work, banks cannot lend, economies cannot function and societies cannot flourish without mutual trust and respect, or without fundamental honesty and integrity.”

That is why the contributions that the ICEAW have made are so welcome – you are the important keepers of the accountancy flame, your mission to ensure that “people can do business with confidence”. And here you are helping to ensure that people can have confidence in business. That has to be right.

As Sir Roger Carr, the current Chair of the CBI, said on taking up his post last year, business needs to show that it is “a force for good.” This is why it was so ridiculous for the Prime Minister and others to infer or suggest that Ed Miliband was being anti-business for raising these issues in his Labour Party conference speech last year – it is very much in the interests of business to resolve these problems and it is rather ironic that the PM is now talking about the need for reform in much the same terms as Ed.

The discussion should start by asking what we pay people for? We pay people to do a job and, where they do so successfully, people do not object to them enjoying the fruits of their success. As for bonuses – my colleague the former Chancellor Alistair Darling put it well last Sunday when he said a bonus is surely “something special, something unusual, something that you give for that little bit extra, not a matter of routine and entitlement.”

Having a skill that is in short supply but high demand is likely to be well rewarded in the marketplace. And as the size of some markets has increased – to become continental and in some cases genuinely global – so have rewards to those at the top have risen.

Of course it is not easy to chart a successful course for a major corporation, where the contours of the market place can change rapidly, where new competitors are around every corner, and where new technologies can make an entire business model obsolete overnight. It takes special skill and extraordinary commitment. So no one is against success that rewards this merit and application. Success should be rewarded.

But increasingly, what we have seen is something else. Reward that is not linked to success or performance: a self-perpetuating spiral of remuneration for those in the golden circle. Handsome rewards for failure. Rewards that seem quite unbelievable to the vast majority of people in this country; rewards from another planet.

And while there are more egregious examples that have gained notoriety, this is not about individuals. The growing gap between increases in pay and increases in company performance is systemic. In the last decade the value of FTSE 350 companies increased by eight per cent, while the average total earning of executives in those companies increased by one hundred and eight per cent.

As rewards at the top have become disproportionate to company performance, so rewards for executives have become disconnected from the rest of the workforce. They are no longer just the best paid employees. Increasingly, they are becoming a class apart.

And let us be absolutely clear who we are talking about – we are not talking about the budding entrepreneur, the small business owner struggling in tough times; this does not apply across all business. We are talking about the relatively small number of people running our largest businesses and working in our more prominent financial institutions. We are talking about FTSE 100 bosses who were paid 14 times the median pay of a worker in 1980, and who are now paid 75 times the median pay of a worker.

I should also point out that this is not a recent phenomenon, but a trend over the last three decades. In the three decades to 1979, executive pay grew 0.8% on average. In the last ten years, growth in the pay of FTSE 100 executives has been closer to 20% a year. It has now reached a point where, as Richard Lambert, former Director General of the CBI said last November, it is “damaging the interests of British business in political, economic and reputational terms”.

Why is this ballooning pay such a problem? For three reasons: it is a bad for the companies themselves; it is bad for our economy overall; and, yes, it is bad for our society.

For the companies themselves, the issue is a classic problem of agency.

Since the 1980s there was a move to create an entrepreneurial culture amongst executives at the top of our large corporations but it didn’t quite work. I’ll explain why.

The owners of the company – the shareholders – entrust executives with substantial powers to make far reaching decisions about the running of the company. Oversight is difficult, because those involved in the day to day management have plenty of discretion and a large information advantage. How can shareholders ensure their agents, the directors – the executive directors in particular – act consistently in those shareholders best interests? The solution was to try to align the incentives – through bonuses, shares, share options, incentive plans and the like, using different mechanisms and over different time frames.

But the fact is that it is hard to create a true entrepreneurial culture among executives at the top of a large corporation. Upside incentives can be made similar, but the structure of downside risk is completely different for an entrepreneur who has everything on the line. Entrepreneurs have most of their own money on the line when they make decisions; executive directors of large companies do not.

The result has been that the value of incentive packages for executives has risen out of all proportion to improvements in company performance. If it ever worked, it seems that there are now declining returns. In the first decade of this century FTSE 350 firms increased their pre-tax profits by 50% and their earnings per share by 73%, while year end share prices fell by 5%. Over the same period, bonuses for executives in these companies have risen by 187%, long term incentive plans by 254%. This demonstrates what psychologists have already found – that the relationship between financial incentives and performance is far from simple, and is not even reliably positive.

At the same time, the heavy focus on the alignment of high powered incentives risks crowding out other, more rounded but equally powerful intrinsic motivations of executives that are just as relevant to the company’s success – the satisfaction of doing a good job, the pride in leading and growing a great company, of winning in the market place, of having the respect of peers, of creating a legacy of sustained and sustainable success.

We are not opposed to performance related pay but it does make you wonder: if a company is so concerned that an executive paid only their salary won’t be motivated to work hard in the best interests of the company, then maybe they have the wrong person in the job?

At its worst you end up with perverse incentive structures which encourage the wrong kind of decision making, as the failures in many financial institutions in the wake of the 2008/9 financial crash so clearly illustrated.

And this approach to executive reward creates negative consequences in other parts of the business. Overemphasising the importance of the contribution of those of those at the top can undermine the motivations of others in the business. As the High Pay Commission has shown, there is a growing body of research that confirms that just as relative rewards matter as a basis for social comparison among executives, so they matter to other employees too. They matter for employee engagement, and their sense of identification with company goals. Feelings of unfairness in pay reduce the willingness to cooperate, can reduce effort and weaken commitment. Unsurprisingly, greater pay inequality in a firm has been found to be associated with lower firm performance.

So excessive pay and rewards for failure are undoubtedly bad for business.

The second reason this is a problem is because it is bad for our economy. I’ve lost count of the number of companies I’ve visited who say to me that they can’t find the engineering graduates they need to hire. Where are they? Lets face it – many of them are following the money. In the decade to 2007, 60% of the increase in the income share of the top 10 per cent went to finance workers. This talent drain, with rewards disproportionate to success, has distorted the market and makes the challenge of rebalancing the economy – by region as well as by sector – so much harder.

Likewise, entrepreneurs, those running our small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, providing approximately two thirds of private sector jobs and almost half of private sector turnover. We need people to take risks and set up these businesses – why would they do so if they can earn excessive wealth in the boardroom and the City?

And the third reason this matters is because it is bad for our society. Executive pay has helped promote inequality and there is a huge body of research to show that this has a detrimental impact on society. At this juncture many people refer to the “Spirit Level”, the book by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett.

Today, I’ll refer you to comments of the former Chief Economist at the IMF, Raghuram Rajan – the IMF is of course George Osborne’s institution of choice when it comes to quoting people! He has argued that high levels of inequality contributed to the financial crisis. In his recent book, Fault Lines, Rajan explains how high levels of wage inflation at the top and wage stagnation for the rest of the population led to a growth in easy credit.

So I have talked about what we pay people for, how a small group are being paid far in excess of what they deserve, and the adverse impact this is having on our businesses, our economy and our society. What would we – the Opposition – do to change all this?

The High Pay Commission has put forward a tranche of recommendations to increase transparency, accountability and fairness. The recommendations enjoy support in the business community and are in line with measures implemented in the U.S., Germany and other countries to address these issues. We support them too.

In the main, the Commission suggests seeking to effect the changes through the UK Corporate Governance Code in the first instance, followed by legislation if the amendments to the Code do not bring about the change needed. This is the right approach. Legislation should be the last resort, used only if there is not sufficient compliance with the Code within a reasonable period of time.

On the proposals themselves: first, transparency – over the level of reward and over the approval of reward packages. In trying to align executive incentives, reward packages have become increasingly complex, making it difficult for shareholders to understand exactly what is being paid.

This problem is intensifying. Increasing numbers of directors are being rewarded through ever more complex service agreements. Individual reward packages are more generous and ‘performance’ targets seem to be getting easier to hit.

To enhance transparency, the High Pay Commission recommends that:

– Executive pay should comprise a basic salary, with only one additional performance related element where necessary;

– The publication of pay packages of the ten highest paid employees outside the boardroom; and,

– The reporting of pay packages in a standardised form, including a single figure showing total remuneration.

We endorse these proposals. They will give shareholders access to simple, standardised information on which they can make reasoned judgements. While we wait and wait for this Conservative led-government to match words with deeds, there is no reason why business cannot begin taking action now.

In addition, the Commission proposes that investment and pension fund managers be required to disclose how they vote on all issues, including on remuneration. This transparency would allow pensioners and investors to see where their monies are being used to finance big pay deals. It is their money, after all.

This increase in transparency would also increase accountability, and is just one of a number of changes needed to do so.

To examine the dynamics of a remuneration committee is to observe a case study of what happens when responsibility is diffused, backgrounds of participants are homogenous, and loyalties can overlap. Participants are drawn mostly from a narrow class of, mostly male, current or former executives. The voice of employees is silent and shareholders vote in an advisory capacity on remuneration reports after the event. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to detect a problem with this old way of doing business.

The way non-executive directors are appointed and the backgrounds from which they are drawn – they are often ex-executives themselves – is not conducive to the appointment of people who are prepared to shake it up and introduce new ways of thinking. That is why we endorse the Commission’s recommendations to have employee representation on remuneration committees and to open up the recruitment of non-execs to a wider pool.

But I want to look at where we should go further. In the UK, the nomination committee of the Board – which is responsible for hunting out people to serve on boards – is made up of other Board members. Candidates are nominated by those Board members at the company’s AGM and, in most cases, are elected as a matter of course.

We should consider moving towards a system which other countries have adopted where the nomination committee is not composed of board members but is composed of the four or five biggest shareholders in the company along with the non-executive chair of the board – that same committee, composed of shareholders, also recommends the structure and amount of remuneration. This would create far stronger lines of accountability to those who ultimately own the business and would promote the shareholder activism and engagement which is key.

In addition the role of remuneration consultants must be looked at, as the Commission says in its report. In his 2006 letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, Warren Buffet referred to a remuneration consultancy called “Ratchet, Ratchet and Bingo”; “The name may be phony,” he said, “but the action it conveys is not”, highlighting his view that such consultancies inflate executive pay. There are widespread concerns that these consultancies are ratcheting up pay here too.

Indeed, it is my view that, unchecked, their effect could be similar to that of unscrupulous football players’ agents – inflating salaries sometimes way beyond talent or contribution and often working against the long term interests of the companies themselves.

Part of the problem is that – in their advisory role to remuneration committees – the consultants owe their duties to the Board and not to shareholders. This needs to be looked at, along with the risk of conflict where consultants are advising both executive management and non-executive directors on remuneration. That is why it is right that companies should publish the extent of their use of remuneration consultants.

I am aware of the voluntary guidelines to prevent remuneration consultants cross-selling services but, given the risk of conflict, consideration should be given to taking a more strict approach. Lawyers giving legal advice in the same context are not subject to some voluntary code but to binding rules that prevent the provision of advice where there is a potential for conflict of interests, unless strong, viable and properly policed Chinese Walls are erected. Why should the same not apply here?

Finally, on fairness, the disconnection of executive reward from the pay of other employees is at the heart of loss of trust. This needs to be rebuilt. That is why we endorse the Commission’s call for companies to publish the ratios between the highest paid employees and the median.

It is also another reason for having an employee on the remuneration committee of the Board, something the Prime Minister has failed to commit to implement – as Ed said on Tuesday, it would mean top executives would have to look an ordinary member of staff in the eye before they award these pay packages.

To continue to inform this important debate, we endorse the High Pay Commission’s call for a permanent body to monitor high pay, along the lines of the Low Pay Commission Labour established.

All of these measures are designed to empower shareholders – to give them the tools to be able to take action, and to increase the accountability of directors to them.

David Cameron has sought to do this by making shareholder votes on remuneration binding. We will examine this proposal when Vince Cable, my opposite number, provides further detail later this month.

However, there are a number of problems with what he has suggested. First, it is backward looking. As CBI Head John Cridland has said, this would be like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

Secondly, there are large practical difficulties with the proposal as its retrospective impact would create legal problems in trying to unpick contracts already agreed – I say this from my own experience, having practiced as a specialist employment law solicitor for the best part of a decade.

And thirdly, without a matching requirement of transparency – the provision of clear and simple information – shareholders may not be any the wiser about what they are voting on, and may even be less inclined to vote.

So it is not enough for David Cameron to say he wants shareholders to be given a vote on these issues. We have seen and heard this kind of thing from him before – talking a good game but fiddling at the margins.

I believe in shareholders’ democracy but democracy is about more than voting. If we are to empower shareholders, they need information provided through greater transparency of boardroom pay – as well as the means to mobilise and become more active in the running of their companies.

And this takes us to the heart of the issue – the need to encourage greater activism amongst shareholders. We cannot ignore the long term trends that are working against this. Since the early 1990s, foreign ownership of total UK equity has increased from less than 15% to around 40% in 2008. The average length of time investors hold their shares has fallen from 5 years in the 1960s to less than 8 months by 2007, with an enormous increase in high frequency trading.

These trends make it harder, but all is not lost – there are grounds for optimism. Voting by shareholders in FTSE 350 companies has now risen to a respectable 68%. There is clearly an appetite for more shareholder power and we have to nurture the use of it. It can be built upon by putting more – and more effective – tools in the hands of shareholders in the way I have described.

And all this needs to be underpinned by a renewed and explicit focus on relative reward based on merit – the fairness that inspires employee loyalty to a company, and the fairness that renews public trust in business.

The current business environment is as tough as it has ever been. Labour has set out a plan for jobs and growth to get the economy moving again, get people back into work, and to reduce the deficit.

But we also must address the underlying challenges in our economy that have persisted over many years, and which the financial crisis brought in to sharp relief. Excessive executive pay is one of them.

That is why I am glad that this debate is going on and proud of the role that Ed has played in leading it. Let’s make it count. Let us begin preparing the ground for the better days that lie ahead. Let us build a better economy for Britain.

Thank you.

Chuka Umunna – 2011 Speech to Universities UK

Below is the text of the speech made by Chuka Umunna to Universities UK on 2nd December 2011.

Thank you for that kind welcome. I am hugely grateful for your invitation to speak today at this critical time for our universities and the Higher Education sector.

This gives me the first opportunity to give a speech on this major part of my brief since my appointment as the Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.

At a time of considerable change and instability Universities UK has been a constant voice of good sense and reason. I know both my predecessor in the role, John Denham, and our former lead on Higher Education, Gareth Thomas, greatly appreciated your wise counsel and advice.

Though he is not here, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank John, who is a real champion of Higher Education. He brought a huge amount of expertise to bear on the brief as a former Secretary of State for Innovation Universities and Skills and as Shadow Business Secretary.

Both I and Shabana Mahmood, our new Shadow on Universities, want to maintain and grow the close working relationship John and Gareth had with you.

I, of course, shadow Vince Cable. Vince is a bit different to me – he has been around for somewhat longer than me. In fact, a journalist pointed out when I was appointed in October that not only is Vince twice my age but, during his lifetime, he has been a member of the Labour Party for longer than I have.

Anyway – notwithstanding the comparisons with Vince – though Shabana and I may not be in Government, we have an important role to play as an Opposition holding the government to account and ensuring they do right by our students, by the institutions our students attend, by those who work in them and, above all, by our country. You want this too which is why a constant dialogue, between us and you, is absolutely essential. For example, we will want to work closely with you on the forthcoming Bill and the changes that it will bring.

Shabana and I will also be making a series of visits to universities in the coming months to listen and learn, and we look forward to engaging with many of you then as we develop our policy, and thank you for all your help and assistance to date.

Just as there has been change in our team I know there has been some in yours too.

I look forward to working with Eric Thomas, and I would like to pay tribute to the work of Steve Smith before him. I want to pay tribute to you, the members – Vice Chancellors and Principal s up and down the country – for the work you do, not just as leaders of your institutions but also as leaders in your communities. You preside over a world class Higher Education sector with a strong international reputation.

Collectively, you represent excellence in teaching and research. Your institutions consistently feature high up in global rankings as the latest figures demonstrate and you continue to drive innovation through your advanced research and its application.

People forget that our HE sector is our seventh largest export industry, generating over £59 billion in output, and more than 650,000 jobs. You are drivers of jobs and growth nationally.

And the institutions that you lead are major employers, and important drivers of regional growth too. With the abolition of the Regional Development Agencies, your voices as advocates for your regions are more important than ever.

The bottom line is that universities are integral to our future success as a country.

Nowhere was this more evident to me than during my recent trip with Ed Miliband to the Warwick Manufacturing Group which is part of Warwick University.

In 1980, Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya set up the WMG to reinvigorate UK manufacturing through the application of cutting edge research and effective knowledge transfer. Thirty years on, it is continuing to do just that. It brings academic rigour together with industrial and organisational practice. It is an example of how the Higher Education sector, working with industry, can drive growth in the real economy.

There are other excellent examples too like Cambridge Technopole, at the heart of which sits Cambridge University. It provides research and innovation support for high-tech businesses in that region.

There is the University of Abertay, at the centre of a video games designing cluster, with degree courses providing highly skilled graduates but also managing a research and development fund for local developers.

One of the business advisers helping our review talks extremely positively of the knowledge transfer from Sheffield Universities and his bakery business, in improving skills progression and development and productivity improvements to achieve his goal of being the best baker in Britain.

I am sure you would all be able to give me more examples of what your centres of learning are doing to add to this list.

These kinds of collaborations and partnerships should be a bigger part of getting growth going in our economy and our future success. And so it is an essential element of our policy review work.

Later I will say something about our thinking to date and the principles that will guide the development of our policy:

Fairness for students;

Autonomy for universities enabling them to deliver excellence;

Sustainable funding; and,

Universities playing a central role in the economic as well as the cultural life, in regional and national economies.

However, before I do this I must turn to the elephant in the room (so to speak) – the cloud hanging over your futures – what the Government is pushing through and where it is getting it wrong.

Where the Conservative-led Government is getting it wrong

With the anniversary of the vote to triple fees next week, I think it would be worth recapping on what has been, let us say, a challenging year and where we have got to.

When the Conservative-led Government initially set out its changes to Higher Education – cutting the teaching grant by 80% and hiking up fees – we said what was proposed was unnecessary, unfair and unsustainable: not good for students or the future of Higher Education, one of Britain’s great success stories.

It was why we asked the Government to lay out their p lans in full so we could subject them to the necessary scrutiny. So what happened?

The vote to triple tuition fees came first before any White Paper, surely the wrong way round. Then the changes on access and widening participation were forced out, with subsequent changes to those plans.

As fees levels began to emerge with £9,000 looking to be far from the exception to the rule which the Government promised, their sums didn’t add up and a black hole came into view. First Ministers ignored this and claimed it would all even out in the end. But their miscalculation saw a scramble to claw back in other ways. There were exhortations; claims OFFA was now a regulator and would set levels; even threats to universities with Ministers crudely claiming that fee levels were so high because universities were inefficient.

Lets take a step back and reflect on that particular claim for a moment – in business, companies have to factor in risk and cost it. You are businesses too and this Government has displayed an abject lesson in creating unnecessary risk for you.

So the White Paper arrives at the end of June of this year. When the threats failed, frankly because of the mess the Government had created, they pulled ‘core and margin’ and AAB out of a hat which they then bolted onto the original plans.

This is no way to run government policy on Higher Education – this is no way to treat our universities. Vince Cable called his dismantling of the RDAs Maoist and chaotic. It could equally have applied to another area of his brief.

The reforms are not the evolutionary change UUK has argued for.

Institutions have had to make decisions affecting their future financial viability not knowing how the rules will change month to month.

You are now in the ridiculous position where you have previously set your fee levels and agreed access agreements with OFFA in April only to find that the rules of the game changed with the Wh ite Paper. Following its publication you found you were faced with a deadline to bid for the 20,000 places which were taken from universities and for which you could now bid – that deadline closed before the deadline for revised access agreements to be signed off by OFFA.

27 institutions have re-submitted their access agreements proposing lower fee levels and 25 today have been told they can change their agreements according to OFFA’s announcement a few moments ago. We still need to look fully at the detail but the OFFA letter confirms there is no evidence on what works best to widen access – fee waivers or bursaries – but the Government still ploughs ahead none-the-less. Fee waivers of course help the Government’s mess as it reduces its bill. The chaos remains for students and the university system, a system which gets ever more complex and bureaucratic.

If the Government had backed Labour’s proposal at conference, which I will get onto in a moment, none of these current access changes, nor core and margin would have been necessary, nor would quality be under threat. Fees would have been capped at £6,000.

‘Core and margin’ is designed to reduce the cost of courses to make up for the Government getting its sums wrong – it isn’t for the benefit of students or the Higher Education sector. And because of this mess students have applied for courses without knowing the fee levels – making far reaching decisions about their lives without the information that they need. This is no way to help our young people get on in life.

Then there are the visa changes to Tier 4 – the student visa route – which hasn’t helped either. As I said, the UK’s 7th largest export is Higher Education for foreign students. This was thrown into chaos by the Home Office’s changes which deter foreign students from applying to UK universities. There was little regard to the impact and to the reputation of the UK HE Sector around the worl d. Where was the Business Department pressing your case? As an Opposition we recognised this threat and I know John worked with you in trying to get the Government to recognise the damage it was doing.

Overall, though, their reforms are seeking to introduce something more fundamental: a more market-led system, or mini-markets, overlaid with a more complex and bureaucratic structure.

We are supportive of student choice. Within a diverse sector, students currently have a wide range of high quality options by course and by institution. We welcome the extension of choice that will result from allowing Further Education colleges the power to award degrees, which will allow people who live in areas that are not near a university to access Higher Education courses.

But this market is beset with problems and few have said it will work well. There will be intended and unintended consequences. Ministers admitted that there would be institutional failure as a result.

There are rightly fears that the reforms will discourage universities from offering science and technology courses and student take up of the same, at a time when these types of course should be the centre-piece of a future Higher Education system as our competitors countries recognise.

There are rightly fears that social mobility and access will stall. Aim Higher has been scrapped, the National Scholarship Programme, though described as “national” is misleading – it does not have national eligibility criteria but is more a lottery with students with the same social and economic backgrounds getting different types of benefit depending on where they study; and there is widespread confusion among students as to its purpose. The respected Sutton Trust has said the tripling of fees will reduce the gains made on widening access and social mobility. This is exacerbated by ‘AAB’ and ‘core and margin’, which has led to complex access arrangements b eing crow-barred on to try and correct imbalances. Widening access is very much an afterthought not an outcome of the new system.

OFFA, with a hugely expanded role, is still an office of a handful of staff assessing access agreements. It is not clear what the sanctions are going to be for universities that do not fulfil their obligations.

In fact, UCAS figures have seen a drop in application to universities and a variation is emerging across regions with the North East seeing the highest drop. What does that say about ‘rebalancing’ the economy?

Also, there are fears that the expansion of for-profit providers will unbalance Higher Education further and undermine quality. Apollo Group, Kaplan and the Education Management Corporation have all met with the Higher Education Minister, David Willetts. All currently have lawsuits being pursued against them in the US for aggressive recruitment practices and miss-selling of courses.

And with the changes that have taken place we still do not know how much future turbulence will be added on top – will there be further rounds of core and margin?

So that is the landscape. In light of all this, let me pause a second and pose some questions:

Are the changes to Higher Education helping to widen access, ensuring that those with the best potential are in our universities?

Are they enhancing opportunities?

Are they giving stability to universities to plan and to build on their success?

Are they helping our universities compete in the world?

Are they helping to put universities at the heart of growth, working with business and Government to create future success?

Are they working to support the STEM needs of our economy?

In all case the answers is sadly a no.

So it is in this context that we are having to think about the future of Higher Education – who knows what we would inherit at the time of the next General Election were we elected.

And I know that you have of course worked with the Government to try and secure a better outcome to the changes. It hasn’t been easy. You all want the best for your institutions and the sector. For some there are silver linings – perhaps the ability to raise more income. Some argued from the start that, with the Government cutting the teaching grant by 80%, higher fees were the only way. Some perhaps see opportunities flowing from the access changes and bidding for courses. Others we know are deeply frustrated with what has been going on.

So what is our thinking? Well, we must deal with the world as we find it, not as we would like it to be. This lies behind the policy announced by Ed Miliband at the Labour Party Conference.

First, let me turn to fees. It is absolutely right that graduates make a contribution. It underpins the changes we introduced in Government and which brought an extra £1bn into Higher Education. But this Government is now forcing many students to take on debts of more than £40,000 – long-term debts, and long-term impacts.

It strikes at the root of what Ed Miliband has called the Promise of Britain – that the next generation should do better than the last. Many families fear their children will do worse than the generation before. That’s why we have put forward an alternative funding package, reducing the maximum level of fees from £9,000 to £6,000.

No university would be worse off under this plan, as any money lost through a reduction in tuition fees would be compensated for – for individual universities the proposal is revenue neutral.

And, there would be no need for the core and margin system and the uncertainties and mess it creates. With the sums back under control, there would be no black hole from £9,000 fees.

I’ll explain how this works: reducing the maximum level of fees to £6,000 while compensating universities for the difference costs £1.1 billion. Of that £1.1 billion:

£350 million will come from automatic savings from reducing the cap to £6,000 because it will means some associated expenditure, such as on as fee waivers, will no longer be required;

£300 million comes from cancelling the Government’s planned cut to the corporation tax on the banks; and,

£500 million comes from asking the top ten percent of graduates – graduates earning over £65,000 in each year of their working life – to pay more through a combination of a higher interest rate (from 3% to 4%) and to continue to pay for an additional two years if they pay off their loan within 20 years.

So this could be implemented now. It would maintain funding for universities but avoid harm to families and graduates from the Government’s plans. It would reduce the debt which graduates will be loaded with, and would be an important step towards a more graduate-tax like system with wealthier graduates being asked to pay more due to the combination of a higher interest rate and time limited overpayment for two years.

Our proposal and our approach are guided by our core principles – that graduates should make a fair contribution to the cost of Higher Education and that those who benefit the most should pay the most.

And if by the time of the next election we can do more, then we will – so starting out from the position set out at our Party Conference this year, we will be looking at further ways to:

Reduce the burden on families and students who are being saddled with high debts;

Maintain funding for universities; and

Develop a fairer payment system for graduates.

Our policy review will be looking at these issues further.

To date the review – and the interim findings were published a few weeks ago – has been focused on the economic challenges we face which brings me to my second point – international competitiveness and paying our way in the world.

We need a new economy, which is fair, resilient, competitive, and supports the long-term. It needs active, intelligent government working with business to build a vision for the future economy, and develop strategies for the sectors for which we have a competitive advantage and where can compete. It is not business as usual but a different approach.

Higher Education is an essential element of our future success – not only as an export sector as I have laid out, but in terms of training, skilling and developing what will be part of the future workforce, supporting the research and leading the collaborative work with industry. Your report published yesterday supports this view.

One of the challenges Britain faces is that the economy has skill shortages at the same time as under-utilising the skills we have. We need more companies that can utilise those skills. That means creating the conditions where we encourage companies who invest in the long term; creating the conditions in which we do not rely on low skills, low paid jobs where we cannot and should not compete.

The role of universities is central to increasing our productivity and building a more skilled workforce to bring this new economy about.

In 2001 we set a commitment to get 50% of 18-30 year olds entering Higher Education to go to university. It was ambitious. It was right. It helped focus our collective efforts. It wasn’t arbitrary as some claimed but achieved real change. In 1999 39% of young people went to university and this grew to 47% in 2009/10. This is a huge achievement. And it happened at a tim e when we rescued apprenticeships and supported vocational education too.

But, the target was virtually met when we left office. A fair question is therefore what should the future hold?

As part of our review, we will be looking at how we can build on this and the best way we can assess ourselves against our competitor countries – I think that has to be the yardstick against which we should judge our progress in the future.

It is right in the global world, with global markets, that we are outward looking in this way. We need to be focused on being among the best in the world. So we need to benchmark ourselves against the best.

Yes, the numbers of young people going into university but also a broader account too, of the quality and type of courses students undertake which supports our industries and economy of the future and – in a similar way – the quality, level and take up of vocational education. We need to look at the overall skill and education levels of 100% of our future generation and be among the best in the world.

In concluding, let me draw on your report and quote two thin gs to support the arguments I’ve just made for a new economy – something I can leave you to think about.

In your report you say, and I quote:

“Countries with high levels of innovation [also] tend to have, on average, higher proportions of graduates in their populations and a stronger track record of investment in Higher Education.”

I think innovation is key.

In your report you also list the number of Chinese, US and EU graduates per year in 2010 and the estimates in 2020. I added up the numbers. The increase in per year graduates in China in 2020 compared to 2010 is nearly the same as the total number graduates in 2020 in the US and EU combined.

The landscape is changing.

Together we must work to ensure Britain is set up to meet the new challenges.

Thank you.

Joyce Quin – 1999 Speech on Devolution

Below is the text of the speech made by the then Foreign Office Minister, Joyce Quin, held at the Northern Ireland Assembly on 26th February 1999.

I am delighted to be the first FCO Minister to address the Northern Ireland Assembly. This audience, more than most, will understand the dynamic between domestic and international affairs, between the Assembly’s transferred responsibilities and EU and international relations. We intend that the UK Government and the devolved administrations will cooperate effectively where their interests overlap. It is my particular aim – and that of Robin Cook – that the FCO’s co-operation with all the new administrations should be one of real partnership. I will say something today about the arrangements that I hope will underpin our partnership.


As the FCO Minister for Europe and devolution I am involved in two of the Government’s most ambitious and exciting programmes. Devolution in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales is part of a wider programme of democratic renewal. Described by Tony Blair as ‘the biggest programme of change to democracy ever proposed’, it includes reform of the House of Lords, incorporation into UK law of the European Convention on Human Rights and strengthening the voice of the English Regions.

We are in the middle of an important phase in the development of the European Union, in which Britain is playing a leading role. We are in the decisive phase of the Agenda 2000 negotiations: we want reforms to control EU spending and overhaul the CAP. These reforms are a necessary prelude for enlargement, which Britain strongly supports. We are encouraging the modernisation of the EU’s institutions, to make them more effective and accountable. We back Europe’s fight against crime, drugs and illegal immigration. we are taking forward the employment and economic reform agenda in the EU. We want the single currency to be a success, whether Britain is in or out. Big issues and a big agenda.


There is a fit between our reforms at-home and our objectives in Europe. The UK has for too long been too centralised. Devolution will ensure that many decisions that affect the day to day lives of people will be taken locally – taking into account local needs, conditions and history. The idea of a centralised Europe is also discredited. The goals of ‘subsidiarity’ and ‘devolution’ are the same. We want to ensure that diversity is respected. We want to find flexible solutions.

But the Government also believes that working together in the EU benefits the UK. We need to work together to tackle common problems. This is the vision behind our initiative on European Defence. It is the vision behind the single market and the common foreign and security policy. It is the vision behind devolution in the UK too.

The Government believes that conducting international and EU relations on a UK basis benefits all the component parts of the UK. We have influence and respect as one of the major EU states; as a permanent member of the UN Security Council; and as a member of the G7. This influence means an effective foreign and security policy. It means we can drive forward international cooperation on drugs, environment and human rights. It means we can provide our companies with effective advice and assistance across the globe.


Last year three important Acts established the framework for devolution in the UK. Devolution is different in each of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – tailored to the needs, political circumstances and aspirations of the people. In Northern Ireland it is giving tangible effect to will of the communities for peace and cooperation. The Assembly will have the wide range of powers with which you are familiar. It will be able to legislate on such matters as health, education, support for industry, agriculture, and fisheries. A new democratic focus with real powers over real issues.

The UK Government will remain responsible for international relations, including relations with the EU. This includes the negotiation and agreement of treaties and other international agreements, relations with territories outside the UK, relations with the EU and international organisations, the regulation of international trade, international development assistance and consular assistance to British nationals in distress. It is clear that in some areas the interests of the UK Government and the devolved assemblies will overlap.

Northern Ireland has particular interests. Inward investment plays an important role in the regeneration of the local economy. Northern Ireland is a major beneficiary of EU programmes including the Peace and Reconciliation Programme and structural funds.


The UK Government has made clear that it wants to involve the devolved administrations in the development of policy on international issues that also have implications for devolved functions. This is particularly true in relation to EU matters, where legislation in Brussels will have a direct impact in areas for which the Assembly is responsible.

In these and other areas, we expect to set out agreed working arrangements in a series of Concordats between the UK Government on the one hand and the devolved administration on the other. To that end we shall be putting to the Northern Ireland administration proposals for Concordats both on EU matters and on international relations more generally. However until the Executive Committee has taken on its powers and elections have taken place in Scotland and Wales we shall not be able to finalise these working arrangements.

The Concordats will provide a framework for practical cooperation. A key principle is that there should be no surprises. The administrations need to keep each other informed of developments that might impact on each other’s responsibilities. The FCO will keep the Northern Ireland administration informed on international and EU developments that touch on its devolved responsibilities. We will provide relevant information and analysis including reporting from our overseas Posts. For its part the Assembly should keep us informed, including on its policy proposals, legislative programme and proposed international contacts.

The UK Government will continue to be the formal channel for relations with other countries. The UK is, of course, the EU member state and the member of international organisations. It will be for the UK to negotiate and conclude treaties and other binding international agreements. There is, however, no barrier to the devolved administrations maintaining working level contacts with other governments on matters within their responsibility. Indeed we hope and anticipate that contacts will develop quickly with other leading European regions. These may lead to informal agreements highlighting common concerns and strengthening ties e.g. through twinning arrangements.

Where international and EU negotiations touch on devolved matters we intend to involve the devolved administrations as directly and fully as possible in the formulation of the UK’s position. This arrangement will require a mutual respect for confidentiality and a commitment to support the agreed UK position. There will of course be disagreements. We will need to broker agreements. This is, of course, a role familiar to the Cabinet Office and Cabinet Committees. However, what we propose in this instance is to establish a Joint Ministerial Committee of which the UK Government and the devolved administrations would be members. The JMC will be a consultative rather than a deliberative body, supported by a committee of officials and a joint secretariat. I think it will provide an important forum in which we can all find common ground.

Ministers and officials of the devolved administrations will be able to participate in EU Council of Ministers meetings and other EU negotiations. The emphasis must be on working as a team to achieve the best outcome. As at present, it will be for the lead Minister to decide how each member can best contribute.

The UK Government and the devolved administrations will need to work together to ensure the implementation of the UK’s EU and other international obligations. The devolved administrations will normally play a leading role, consulting the UK Government. Under the devolution legislation it will be for the UK Government, after consultations in each case about if and how this should be done, to make subordinate legislation splitting quantitative obligations (e.g. reductions in greenhouse gas emissions) between the UK and the devolved administrations. We will together need to ensure that any difference of approach nonetheless produce consistency of effect and, where appropriate, of timing. There will be cases where we will agree that it is more convenient to implement obligations through UK wide legislation. We intend to continue to implement UN Security Council Resolutions by means of Orders in Council under the United Nations Act 1946. If we fail to implement our obligations each administration will bear the share of the financial costs or penalties imposed, flowing from its own conduct in this respect.


The FCO will continue to serve the interests of the UK and all its constituent parts. We will assist official visits to other countries by Ministers and members of the Assembly. We will work together on programmes for official guests and in arranging international meetings when these take place in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales.

Our Posts will continue to promote the UK and all its constituent parts. We will ensure that the World Service and the British Council continue to reflect the diversity of all the constituent parts of the UK. We will work together on threats to the environment, encourage respect for human rights and tackle drugs, terrorism and international crime. We will continue to help travellers from all parts of the UK in trouble overseas.


The Assembly will be responsible for supporting industrial development in Northern Ireland. The Industrial Development Board has done an excellent job and I am sure it will continue to so. Locate in Scotland and the Welsh Development Agency have also done Scotland and Wales proud. But I want to make it crystal clear that the UK Governments trade development and investment promotion effort will continue to serve you and all the constituent parts of the UK.

The UK trade promotion effort is the most extensive and effective in the world. The FCO puts more resources into this activity that any other, over 30 per cent of frontline effort. 221 Embassies, High Commissions and other Posts assist companies to export and invest, and identify and encourage inward investors. I am confident that we will build on our recent successes.

The Invest in Britain Bureau, a joint FCO/DTI operation, maintains a close relationship with the Industrial Development Board and the other development agencies at home and abroad. We were glad to support the Board’s inward investment roadshow in the US last year. You might like to know that the current edition of IBB’s main promotional magazine – Briefing on Britain – gives pole position to a feature on Northern Ireland’s attractions and successful track record in securing inward investment from world famous companies such as Fujitsu, Ford, Caterpillar and Nortel as well as newer companies in fast growing sectors like software, multimedia and communications centres.


Our Embassies and High Commissions will continue to work on behalf of all the constituent parts of, the UK. UKRep in Brussels will continue to represent the UK to the European Institutions. We expect that the devolved administrations will set up their own offices. These might be inside or outside the UKRep framework. The key is that they should complement rather than cut across existing activity. The role of regional administrations in Europe is increasing. It will be to the advantage of the UK that we can enrich our relationships with regional links.


We live in a world where there is no neat divide between local and international issues. Encouraging industrial development or addressing climate change requires us to work on a global level to concert international action and at a local level to make a difference in our communities. Devolution will provide us with new challenges and new opportunities to make a difference. I hope we can rise to those challenges together.

Queen Elizabeth II – 2014 Queen’s Speech


Below is the text of the 2014 Queen’s Speech, delivered by HM Queen Elizabeth II in the House of Lords, London, on 5th June 2014.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons.

My government’s legislative programme will continue to deliver on its long-term plan to build a stronger economy and a fairer society.

To strengthen the economy and provide stability and security, my ministers will continue to reduce the country’s deficit, helping to ensure that mortgage and interest rates remain low.

An updated Charter for Budget Responsibility will be brought forward to ensure that future governments spend taxpayers’ money responsibly.

My government will also continue to cut taxes in order to increase people’s financial security.

My ministers will implement measures to increase further the personal allowance and to freeze fuel duty.

Measures will be brought forward for a married couple’s allowance, which will recognise marriage in the tax system.

Legislation will be introduced to help make the United Kingdom the most attractive place to start, finance and grow a business. The bill will support small businesses by cutting bureaucracy and enabling them to access finance.

For more information about today’s announcements, read the Queen’s Speech background briefing notes.

New legislation will require ministers to set and report on a deregulation target for each Parliament. The legislation will also reduce delays in employment tribunals, improve the fairness of contracts for low paid workers and establish a public register of company beneficial ownership. Legislation will be introduced to provide for a new statutory code and an adjudicator to increase fairness for public house tenants.

Legislation will impose higher penalties on employers who fail to pay their staff the minimum wage. Measures will be brought forward to limit excessive redundancy payments across the public sector.

In respect of National Insurance contributions, legislation will be brought forward to tackle avoidance and to simplify their collection from the self-employed.

My government will introduce a bill to bolster investment in infrastructure and reform planning law to improve economic competitiveness. The bill will enhance the United Kingdom’s energy independence and security by opening up access to shale and geothermal sites and maximising North Sea resources. Legislation will allow for the creation of an allowable solutions scheme to enable all new homes to be built to a zero carbon standard and will guarantee long-term investment in the road network.

My government will continue to implement major reforms to the electricity market and reduce the use of plastic carrier bags to help protect the environment.

A key priority for my ministers will be to continue to build an economy that rewards those who work hard.

Legislation will be brought forward to give those who have saved discretion over the use of their retirement funds. My government’s pension reforms will also allow for innovation in the private pensions market to give greater control to employees, extend the ISA and Premium Bond schemes and abolish the savers’ 10 pence tax rate.

The overall benefits bill will continue to be capped so that public expenditure continues to be controlled and policies will be pursued so people are helped from welfare to work.

My government will increase housing supply and home ownership by reforming the planning system, enabling new locally-led garden cities and supporting small house building firms.

Legislation will be brought forward to sell high value government land, encouraging development and increasing housing.

My ministers will continue to promote the Help to Buy and Right to Buy schemes to support home ownership.

My government will continue to deliver the best schools and skills for young people. In England, my ministers will help more schools to become academies and support more free schools to open, whilst continuing investment to deliver more school places. Further reforms to GCSEs and A Levels will be taken forward to raise standards in schools and prepare school pupils for employment. My government will increase the total number of apprenticeship places to 2 million by the end of the Parliament.

My government will continue to work to build a fairer society.

To improve education attainment and child health, my government will ensure all infants will receive a free school meal. Free childcare will be extended to more of the most disadvantaged 2-year-olds and a bill will be introduced to help working families with childcare costs.

A bill will be introduced to strengthen the powers to prevent modern slavery and human trafficking whilst improving support for victims of such crimes. A bill will be brought forward to provide that where a person acts heroically, responsibly or for the benefit of others, this will be taken into account by the courts.

Legislation will be introduced to improve the complaints system in the Armed Forces through the creation of an ombudsman.

A serious crime bill will be brought forward to tackle child neglect, disrupt serious organised crime and strengthen powers to seize the proceeds of crime.

My government will continue its programme of political reform.

My ministers will introduce legislation on the recall of Members of Parliament.

My government will continue to implement new financial powers for the Scottish Parliament and make the case for Scotland to remain a part of the United Kingdom.

My ministers will continue with legislation giving the National Assembly for Wales and Welsh ministers more power over taxation and investment.

My government will continue to work with the devolved administration in Northern Ireland to rebalance the economy, promote reconciliation and create a shared future.

Draft legislation will be published providing for direct elections to National Park authorities in England.

Members of the House of Commons.

Estimates for the public services will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons.

The United Kingdom will work for peace and security on Europe’s borders, and for stable relations between Russia and Ukraine based on respect for national sovereignty, territorial integrity and international law.

My government will host the NATO summit in Wales as a sign of the United Kingdom’s commitment to the alliance.

My ministers will strive to improve the humanitarian situation in Syria, to reduce violence and promote a political settlement. It will work for a successful transition in Afghanistan, and will work towards a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran.

The United Kingdom will lead efforts to prevent sexual violence in conflict worldwide.

My government will work to promote reform in the European Union, including a stronger role for member states and national parliaments. My ministers will also champion efforts to secure a global agreement on climate change.

Prince Philip and I will pay a state visit to France and will attend events to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

We look forward to welcoming His Excellency the President of the Republic of Singapore on his forthcoming state visit.

Other measures will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons.

I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels.

Queen Elizabeth II – 2013 Queen’s Speech


Below is the text of the speech made by HM Queen Elizabeth II at the State of Opening of Parliament on 8th May 2013.

Her Majesty’s most gracious speech to both Houses of Parliament at the State Opening of Parliament.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

My government’s legislative programme will continue to focus on building a stronger economy so that the United Kingdom can compete and succeed in the world.

It will also work to promote a fairer society that rewards people who work hard.

My government’s first priority is to strengthen Britain’s economic competitiveness. To this end, it will support the growth of the private sector and the creation of more jobs and opportunities.

My ministers will continue to prioritise measures that reduce the deficit – ensuring interest rates are kept low for homeowners and businesses.

My government is committed to building an economy where people who work hard are properly rewarded. It will therefore continue to reform the benefits system, helping people move from welfare to work.

Measures will be brought forward to introduce a new Employment Allowance to support jobs and help small businesses.

A Bill will be introduced to reduce the burden of excessive regulation on businesses. A further Bill will make it easier for businesses to protect their intellectual property.

A draft Bill will be published establishing a simple set of consumer rights to promote competitive markets and growth.

My government will introduce a Bill that closes the Audit Commission.

My government will continue to invest in infrastructure to deliver jobs and growth for the economy.

Legislation will be introduced to enable the building of the ‘High Speed Two’ railway line, providing further opportunities for economic growth in many of Britain’s cities.

My government will continue with legislation to update energy infrastructure and to improve the water industry.

My government is committed to a fairer society where aspiration and responsibility are rewarded.

To make sure that every child has the best start in life, regardless of background, further measures will be taken to improve the quality of education for young people.

Plans will be developed to help working parents with childcare, increasing its availability and helping with its cost.

My government will also take forward plans for a new National Curriculum, a world class exam system and greater flexibility in pay for teachers.

My government will also take steps to ensure that it becomes typical for those leaving school to start a traineeship or an apprenticeship, or to go to university.

New arrangements will be put in place to help more people own their own home, with government support provided for mortgages and deposits.

My government is committed to supporting people who have saved for their retirement. Legislation will be introduced to reform the way long term care is paid for, to ensure the elderly do not have to sell their homes to meet their care bills.

My government will bring forward legislation to create a simpler state pension system that encourages saving and provides more help to those who have spent years caring for children.

Legislation will be introduced to ensure sufferers of a certain asbestos-related cancer receive payments where no liable employer or insurer can be traced.

My government will bring forward a Bill that further reforms Britain’s immigration system. The Bill will ensure that this country attracts people who will contribute and deters those who will not.

My government will continue to reduce crime and protect national security.

Legislation will be introduced to reform the way in which offenders are rehabilitated in England and Wales.

Legislation will be brought forward to introduce new powers to tackle anti-social behaviour, cut crime and further reform the police.

In relation to the problem of matching internet protocol addresses, my government will bring forward proposals to enable the protection of the public and the investigation of crime in cyberspace.

Measures will be brought forward to improve the way this country procures defence equipment, as well as strengthening the Reserve Forces.

My ministers will continue to work in cooperation with the devolved administrations.

A Bill will be introduced to give effect to a number of institutional improvements in Northern Ireland.

Draft legislation will be published concerning the electoral arrangements for the National Assembly for Wales.

My government will continue to make the case for Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom.

Members of the House of Commons,

Estimates for the public services will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

My government will work to prevent conflict and reduce terrorism. It will support countries in transition in the Middle East and North Africa, and the opening of a peace process in Afghanistan.

My government will work to prevent sexual violence in conflict worldwide.

My government will ensure the security, good governance and development of the Overseas Territories, including by protecting the Falkland Islanders’ and Gibraltarians’ right to determine their political futures.

In assuming the Presidency of the G8, my government will promote economic growth, support free trade, tackle tax evasion, encourage greater transparency and accountability while continuing to make progress in tackling climate change.

Other measures will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels.